Monday, October 20, 2014
When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who was sent to clean his hotel room, hospitality workers thought the story seemed all-too-plausible. In a New York Times op-ed, Jacob Tomsky, a veteran of the hotel industry, wrote that housekeepers are assaulted by guests “more often than you’d think,” and that their employers don’t offer much protection. In a recent account on xoJane, an anonymous woman describes a decade’s worth of sexual harassment in different parts of the hotel industry—from working the front desk to cleaning rooms. It’s so systemic, she says, that the women developed coordinated strategies to cope with it—like enlisting other housekeepers to stay with them when they’re assigned to clean the room of a “known pervert.”
These anecdotes are alarming—and now, new empirical research paints a truly dire picture of the lives of female hotel workers. For a new paper in the journal Gender, Work & Organization, a team of researchers from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management at Griffith University in Australia, interviewed female hotel workers employed by 5-star hotels on the Gold Coast, a city in Queensland. Of the 46 women who participated in the study, 44 had experienced some kind of inappropriate advance from a male guest—ranging from jokes to propositions to assaults. Sanrda Kensbock, the study’s lead author, wasn’t able to give me a breakdown by type of incident, but it’s safe to say that—whatever form it takes—harassment a widespread problem. “We found guest-initiated sexual harassment to be pervasive and normalized within the hotel workplace,” she wrote. “The low status of hospitality workers renders them particularly vulnerable, with the power held by the instigator being a critical component of sexual harassment.”
Thursday, October 16, 2014
In our zeal to address campus sexual assault, and compensate for past inaction, we may be running afoul of basic due process protections. It's not a zero sum game here--we can both respond meaningfully to campus assault and comply with the usual and important protections of due process.
Dozens of Harvard Law School faculty members are asking the university to withdraw its new sexual misconduct policy, saying that it violates basic principles of fairness and would do more harm than good.
“Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required” by the federal anti-discrimination law, known as Title IX, they wrote in an op-ed article signed by 28 current and retired members of the Harvard Law faculty and posted online by The Boston Globe on Tuesday night.
“It’s a totally secret process, in which real genuine unfairnesses can happen, and it’s so airtight that no one would know,” Janet Halley, one of the professors who signed the article, said Wednesday.
More here, New Republic, Accused College Rapists Have Rights Too: The Victims Deserve Justice. The Men Deserve Due Process.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Julie Goldscheid (CUNY School of Law) & Debra J. Liebowitz (Drew) have posted Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Parsing its Power and Its Perils, Cornell Int'l L. J. (forthcoming).
Human rights advocates increasingly invoke the due diligence standard to hold States responsible for their actions and omissions with respect to gender violence. This paper traces the development of the due diligence obligation and analyzes how the due diligence principle has been interpreted in key international policy documents and developing gender violence caselaw from the United Nations, European, and Inter-American human rights systems. On its face, the due diligence obligation calls on the State to take responsibility for preventing gender violence, prosecuting and punishing perpetrators, and protecting and providing redress for gender violence victims. The notion of State responsibility for gender violence offered by the due diligence obligation is foundational, and is appealing in many ways, particularly when considering the near-universal history of non-responsiveness, State approval of, and all-too-frequent participation in, gender violence.
We argue that emerging interpretations of the due diligence obligation as applied to gender violence pay insufficient attention to the risks of State intervention. While State response is clearly needed, we should be cautious about the ramifications of the demand. A reflexive focus on State response can encourage an undue emphasis on criminal justice responses with adverse consequences such as arrests of survivors. It risks situating the State as the entity charged with program delivery when other entities would be more effective. An appropriate model of state responsiveness should explicitly grant the State discretion not to respond, or to delegate its response to other stakeholders such as community members, survivors, NGOs, and advocates. It should consider the impact of any intervention on those at the margins — particularly those from racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities — and should take into account the experiences and recommendations of both advocates and survivors. A careful balancing of the need for State accountability with the risk of over-intrusiveness can best advance foundational human rights principles, such as non-discrimination, equality, autonomy, and dignity, in service of ending gender violence and promoting justice.
Mary Anne Franks (Miami), Real Men Advance, Real Women Retreat: Stand Your Ground, Battered Women's Syndrome and the Vindication of Male Privilege, 68 Univ. Miami L. Rev. (2014)
Proponents of Stand Your Ground laws cynically exploit the image of vulnerable women to defend expansions of self-defense doctrine, despite the fact that such laws actually reinforce and exacerbate existing gender divides in self-defense law that disproportionately harm women. The appropriation of women’s right to self-defense by Stand Your Ground supporters masks the law’s hostility toward women’s use of force and obscures the real achievement of such legislation: the normalization and promotion of (often white) male violence in an ever-expanding variety of scenarios. Battered Women’s Syndrome, the chief narrative available to women who fight back, forces women to plead for mercy and subjects their behavior to extensive scrutiny and evaluation. Stand Your Ground, the chief narrative men can now use to justify provoking deadly fights, often allows men to escape evaluation altogether by granting immunity from prosecution and even from arrest. This two-track system of self-defense — Battered Women’s Syndrome for women and Stand Your Ground for men — has far-reaching implications outside of the courtroom. Battered Women’s Syndrome sends the legal and social message that women should retreat even from their own homes in the face of objective, repeated harm to their bodies; Stand Your Ground sends the legal and social message that men can advance against strangers anywhere on the basis of vague, subjective perceptions of threats. Male violence is not only tolerated, but celebrated; women’s violence is not only discouraged, but stigmatized. Invoking the image of vulnerable women to promote aggressive self-defense rhetoric serves to distract from the reality that violence remains chiefly a male privilege.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday that he had instructed the State University of New York to overhaul its approach to preventing, investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, including making affirmative consent the rule on all 64 of its campuses.
Mr. Cuomo, announcing the change at a news conference in Manhattan, said SUNY’s new approach, which is to be put into effect in the next 60 days, would eventually lead to a statewide law regulating sexual assault policies at all New York colleges and universities.
Calling campus sexual assault a national epidemic, the governor said: “This is Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Albany and Buffalo and Oswego. It is not SUNY’s problem by origination. I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve and SUNY’s place to lead.”
Monday, October 6, 2014
Jelke Boesten, University of Leeds, UK, has recently published Sexual Violence During War and Peace (Palgrave Macmillan). The abstract reads:
The idea that rape is widely used as a weapon of war has taken root in international institutions, influencing how post-conflict justice and transitional justice are perceived and pursued. Despite this global attention, there has been no progress eradicating or even mitigating sexual violence in war or in peace and very little progress prosecuting crimes of sexual violence. With particular reference to post-conflict justice, this book asks what sexual violence means from a socio-political perspective and in what ways contemporary "peacetime" violence is linked to wartime rape. Evidence from Peru and the internal armed conflict of 1980-2000 shows that acts of wartime rape are deeply embedded in existing configurations of gender and power and that sexual violence serves not only wartime terror but also peacetime hierarchies.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Isn't that an oxymoron? Slate, Iceland Announces U.N. Men Only Gender Equality Conference
Iceland announced on Monday an unusual plan to tackle the problematic state of gender equality in the world, particularly violence against women. The plan, as explained by the country’s foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, to the U.N. General Assembly is to hold a conference on the issue in January. The twist: Only men and boys are invited to participate.
Here’s what Sveinsson had to say:[W]e want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way. Iceland and Suriname will convene a “Barbershop” conference in January 2015 where men will discuss gender equality with other men, with a special focus on addressing violence against women. This will be a unique conference as it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only men leaders to discuss gender equality.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Thus reads an interesting blog post from the Good Men Project. An excerpt:
Last night I was searching the Internet for a video on “women abusing men” to run here on The Good Men Project. Not only were there just a few actual hits, most of which I’d already seen, but I also found that most of the results that did come up were for men abusing women. Even though I typed “men” first, Google found more results for the reversed phrase, indicating the huge imbalance of available online material. And yet, recent statistics confirm that men represent approximately 40% of the victims in cases of abuse.
Susan Ayres, Texas A & M Law, has uploaded to SSRN "Using Dramatic Narratives to Teach Domestic Violence." The abstract reads:
The 2003 call of the ABA for teachers to incorporate domestic violence into the law school curricula remains gravely important today. Domestic violence intersects many areas — from family law, to torts, to criminal law. Along with sexual assault, it is one of the most difficult subjects to teach. Students, like the general public, find it hard to comprehend why a person batters, or why a victim stays with the batterer. While students may learn about domestic violence from case law and scholarly excerpts, the best lessons may be learned through narratives, which provide a window into the reasons for battering and the multi-faceted reasons a victim stays with a batterer. In this article, I describe a teaching approach that incorporates narratives by the award-winning, multi-racial writer, Ai (1947-2010). This valuable approach offers a picture of domestic violence that is more compelling than that of casebooks or statistics, and provides students — as future lawyers — with the ability to respond to clients experiencing domestic violence with greater empathy and understanding.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that makes California the first in the nation to have a clear definition of when people agree to sex. The law goes further than the common "no means no" standard, which has been blamed for bringing ambiguity into investigations of sexual assault cases.
The new law seeks both to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an "affirmative consent" and stating that consent can't be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent," the law states, "nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."
The White House rolled out a new sexual assault prevention campaign engaging men as part of the solution: It's On Us
What College Men Think of the New Rape Prevention Campaign That's Targeting Them. According to this report, they're ok with it.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Integrating fraternities will reduce campus sexual assault?
Slate, Accept Women--Or Else
All on-campus fraternities at Wesleyan University must soon become coeducational or they will be shut down, the university announced Monday, giving its small but often under-fire Greek system a three-year deadline to open its doors to female students.
“The culture of these houses contributes to the culture of sexual assault in a way we weren’t willing to stand for anymore,” Updegrove said in May. In a blog post in April, Roth wrote that it’s "clear that many students see fraternity houses as spaces where women enter with a different status than in any other building on campus, sometimes with terrible consequences."
We previously posted about the nail polish that can warn of date rape drugs.
Two bartenders in Washington, D.C., have teamed up to create the prototype for a product meant to combat date rape called the “DrinkLock.”
DrinkLock is described as a “reverse coaster,” which can be used as an actual coaster or affixed to the top of someone’s drink using a square adhesive seal. When the seal is removed, it will read “void” if anyone has tampered with it.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday his league will "take a fresh look" at its domestic violence procedures in the wake of the NFL's rash of incidents.
Silver said during a community service event in Staten Island that the league has been discussing with the NBA Players Association ways to further educate players and provide programs to them and their families.
"We learn from other leagues' experiences," Silver said. "We're studying everything that's been happening in the NFL. We're working with our players' association. We've been talking for several weeks and we're going to take a fresh look at everything we do."
Thursday, September 18, 2014
From the NYT. The Question: Going After the Abusers: When police have evidence of domestic violence, should prosecution be mandatory or should the victim be allowed to decide whether to pursue the case?
Law professors weigh in here:
NYT, Leigh Goodmark (Maryland), Healthy Alternatives to Prosecution can Help Victims
Donna Coker (Miami), Mandatory Policies Can be a Threat to Women
The rest of the debate here.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After a week of unprecedented bad publicity, the NFL has hired four women to shape new policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.
The announcement was something of a mixed message, coming just moments before the Minnesota Vikings announced that Adrian Peterson, who was arrested Saturday for recklessly or negligently injuring a child, was cleared to play Sunday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement in a letter to owners, writing that the goal is “to make a real difference on these and other issues.”
Anna Isaacson, currently a league vice-president of community relations and philanthropy, assumed the additional title of vice-president of social responsibility. She will oversee initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the issues and decreasing the instances of violence. Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith were hired as senior advisers because of their experience with the issues. Friel is the former head of sex-crimes prosecution for the Manhattan district attorney; Randel is a co-founder of NO MORE, an advocacy group focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault; and Smith is former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Carissima Mathen at Ottawa Law has uploaded "Crowdsourcing Sexual Objectification" on SSRN. The abstract reads:
This paper analyzes the criminal offence of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images (frequently called “revenge porn”). Focussing on the debate currently underway in Canada surrounding Bill C-13 (Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act), it notes that such an offence would fill a grey area in that country’s criminal law. Arguing, more broadly, that the criminal law has an important expressive function, the paper posits that the offence targets the same general type of wrongdoing — sexual objectification — that undergirds sexual assault. While not all objectification merits criminal sanction, the paper explains why the non-consensual distribution of intimate images does, and why a specific offence is legitimate.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A story by Michael Cassidiy, Boston College Law, from WBUR (the Boston NPR station). The introduction:
The current spotlight on campus sexual assault will no doubt raise awareness among college students of their legal rights and obligations. One hopes that it will also hold universities accountable for the social cultures they tolerate, if not create, on their own campuses. But difficult conversations about sexual responsibility need to be raised well before our children head off to college. As a law professor who has taught rape for more than a decade, and as a father of teenage boys, I believe that if we want to change behavior, we need to train young men to recognize sexual assault when it occurs and to internalize norms against it. Our conversations about rape need to start in our homes, at our dining room tables.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
....according to UNICEF. More:
About one in 10 girls around the world experiences serious sexual violence, the UN children's agency has said in a major report detailing the "staggering extent" of sexual, physical and emotional abuse faced byyoung people.
The Unicef report found that 120 million girls and female adolescents under 20 had endured rape or other forced sexual acts, with such experiences especially common in some developing countries – about 70% of girls suffer sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea, and an estimated 50% in Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Unicef said.
The report also pointed to problems in richer countries, with many girls reporting "sexual victimisation", for example, by harassment or exposure to pornography.
Many young victims did not report abuse, the authors found, with data showing that nearly half of all girls aged 15-19 who said they had faced physical and/or sexual violence had never told anyone about it.
The report also highlighted the high numbers of young people murdered every year, totalling about 95,000 deaths in 2012. In some countries, for example Panama, Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia, murder is the leading cause of death for males aged 10-20. Nigeria alone had 13,000 child and adolescent homicides in 2012, with some 11,000 in Brazil.
A student at the University of California at Santa Barbara who allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted a female undergraduate was punished by being removed from campus for three months, a federal complaint filed Wednesday claims.
Myra Crimmel, a 2014 UCSB graduate, submitted a Title IX complaint to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against her alma mater for allegedly failing to inform her of all her options as a rape victim, delaying adjudication and eventually giving her assailant what amounted to a single-quarter suspension.