Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Papers from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network at Next Week's Law & Society Association Virtual Meeting

I am probably one of the few people in the world who is thrilled that the Law & Society Annual Conference is virtual -- since I will now be able to attend.  In general virtual conferences open up access to some barriers to participation due to finances,  travel, family, disability, and health issues.

You can register for the virtual conference here at the Law & Society Association website.  

Scheduled papers to be presented from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network:

 

Time

Title

Type

Wed, 5/27
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

#MeToo: The Narrative of Resistance Meets the Rule of Law

Plenary Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Moving Rules: Struggles for Reproductive Justice on Uneven Terrain

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Sexual Harassment: Victims and Survivors

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

CRN07: Feminist Legal Theory Business Meeting

Business Meeting 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Families, Laws, and Institutions

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

The State and Violence: New Proposals for Stopping the Cycle

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Normativity in Men, Women, and Bodies

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses

Roundtable Session 

Fri, 5/29
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Sexual Harassers, Sex Crimes, and Accountability

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Women's Rights in the Shadow of the Constitution

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Perspectives on Sex, Work and New Legal Orders

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Trans and Queer Life in Private and Public

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Human Rights in an Unequal World: Autonomy, Status, and Other Stories

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Feminist Legal Theory in a Public/Private World

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Laws of Social Reproduction

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Intimate Lies and the Law

Author Meets Reader (AMR) Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Feminist Judgments on Reproductive Justice and Family Law

Roundtable Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Women and Gender in Private, Public, and Places in Between: Old Doctrines Meet New Realities in the Twenty-First Century

Paper Session 

May 20, 2020 in Conferences, Constitutional, Equal Employment, Family, Masculinities, Reproductive Rights, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Strategies for Global Responses to the Increase in Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19

Caroline Bettinger-Lopez & Alexandra Bro  A Double Pandemic: Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19, Council on Foreign Relations

How have lockdowns influenced rates of domestic violence?

Data from many regions already suggests significant increases in domestic violence cases, particularly among marginalized populations. Take for example the Middle East and North Africa, which have the world’s fewest laws protecting women from domestic violence. An analysis by UN Women [PDF] of the gendered impacts of COVID-19 in the Palestinian territories found an increase in gender-based violence, and warned that the pandemic [PDF] will likely disproportionately affect women, exacerbate preexisting gendered risks and vulnerabilities, and widen inequalities. In Latin American countries such as Mexico and Brazil, a spike in calls to hotlines in the past two months suggests an increase in domestic abuse. Meanwhile, a drop in formal complaints in countries such as Chile and Bolivia is likely due to movement restrictions and the inability or hesitance of women to seek help or report through official channels, according to the United Nations and local prosecutors.
 
In China, police officers in the city of Jingzhou received three times as many domestic violence calls this past February as in the same time in 2019. Some high- and middle-income countries, such as Australia, France, Germany, South Africa, and the United States, have also reported significant increases in reports of domestic violence since the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

What can countries do to protect those at risk of domestic violence amid the pandemic?

As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations have emphasized, countries must incorporate a gender perspective in their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. Several countries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have already taken innovative steps in this direction. New campaigns also use social media to spread awareness of resources available to survivors, including hotlines, text message–based reporting, and mobile applications.

 

Social distancing has increased people’s reliance on technology and changed the way mental health, legal, and other social services are provided to survivors unable to leave their homes. With disruptions to the criminal justice system, countries have shifted to virtual court hearings, facilitated online methods for obtaining protection orders, and communicated their intentions to continue to provide legal protection to survivors.

 

Moving forward, it is critical that states support the development of alternative reporting mechanisms; expand shelter options; strengthen the capacity of the security and justice sectors; maintain vital sexual and reproductive health services, where domestic and sexual violence victims are often identified and supported; support independent women’s groups; finance economic security measures for women workers, especially those serving on the front lines of the pandemic or in the informal economy, and other groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as migrant, refugee, homeless, and trans women; and collect comprehensive data on the gendered impact of COVID-19.

May 20, 2020 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Dept of Education Announces New Rules on Title IX for Campus Sexual Assault, Requiring a More Judicial Like Process and Granting More Rights to the Accused

Betsy DeVos Announces New Rules on Campus Sexual Assault, Offering More Rights to the Accused

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday released a sweeping new directive governing how schools must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused and giving colleges a clear but controversial road map to navigating these highly charged investigations.

 

The final regulation bars universities from using a single official to investigate and judge complaints, a popular model, and instead creates a judicial-like process in which the accused has the right to cross-examine accusers and to a live hearing.

 

It also offers a narrow definition of sexual harassment, requiring that it be severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.

 
“Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our values,” DeVos told reporters. The regulation is scheduled to take effect in August.
 

Her approach has come under fire from women’s rights groups and Democrats, who said it would allow assailants and schools to escape responsibility and make college campuses less safe for women. It was welcomed by advocates for the accused, who say the existing procedures are unfairly biased against them.

 

Even before the regulation was released, opponents were vowing to challenge it in court, hoping to halt or at least stall the new rules.

 

“We will fight this rule in court, and we intend to win,” said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group. She said the core of the challenge would be that the department was “arbitrary and capricious” and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the agency has ignored evidence showing that the rules would harm survivors of sexual violence.

May 6, 2020 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Domestic Violence During the Coronavirus Crisis: Getting the Criminal Justice Response Right

Aya Gruber & Leigh Goodmark, Domestic Violence is Also a Virus: During the Coronavirus Crisis We Need the Right Criminal Justice Response to the Crime 

As COVID-19 spreads across the nation, many are voicing alarm that sickness and social distancing will spark an epidemic of domestic violence. The alarm is merited. Social and economic stressors like job loss, discrimination, community dislocation and trauma correlate with increased domestic violence. The fact that families are cooped up together may make matters worse.

 

As domestic violence scholars and victims’ advocates, we are heartened that the media and public commentators have shifted from describing domestic violence solely as something individual criminals do to a phenomenon deeply connected with social marginality and economic precarity — conditions that will be exponentially aggravated by the virus.

 
However, we are concerned that having identified the potential for increased violence, the solution will be increased arrests and prosecutions. Police and prosecutors’ offices have assured the public that they are open for “business as usual” when it comes to domestic violence.

 

The pandemic has put a spotlight on the perils of the United States’ decades-long addiction to using criminal law as a primary solution to social problems. 

March 27, 2020 in Healthcare, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Analyzing Feminist Theories of the Silencing Function of Pornography, Constraining Women's Sexual Refusal

Kate Greasley, Silencing Without Uptake, in B. Leiter and L. Green eds., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, Vol 4 (forthcoming)

In the argument over pornography’s censorship, feminist theorists of certain stripes have argued that one of the ways pornography might harm women is by silencing them. First suggested by Catharine MacKinnon, the silencing claim has since been considerably developed, most notably by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby. Taking their cue from J.L. Austin’s speech act theory, these scholars have argued that pornography is capable, in principle, of silencing women in the ‘illocutionary’ sense, that is, by robbing them of a speech act power — as a case in point, the power of sexual refusal. Langton refers to this as the silencing of ‘illocutionary disablement’. The illocutionary disablement claim has met with plenty of resistance, especially concerning its reliance on an ‘uptake’ condition for illocutionary success, also attributed to Austin. Pursuant to this uptake condition, certain speech acts — meaning, acts constituted in the uttering of certain words in a certain context — depend, for their very performance, on the addressee’s recognition of a particular speaker intention.

Among other misgivings, critics of the silencing claim have found it implausible that the performance of a speech act such as sexual refusal could possibly depend on the happenstance of the speaker’s intention getting through to the addressee. Sympathetic to these complaints, I will try to relay how the illocutionary disablement claim can do without the uptake condition as Hornsby, Langton, and others have heretofore formulated it. I am aligned with their critics in thinking that performing the speech act of sexual refusal cannot depend on any individual addressee’s recognition of illocutionary intent. Nevertheless, I will argue, ‘reciprocity’ of a certain kind is a condition of women’s ability to engage that illocution. The speech act of sexual refusal depends, for its very survival, on the existence of semantic and pragmatic conventions that recognisably signal refusal to competent auditors. To the extent that pornography works to destabilise these conventions, it will effectuate illocutionary disablement with regard to that speech act power. Moreover, I argue, if porn did such a thing in the way Langton and others have envisaged, it would indeed be ‘silencing’ women in a distinctive and distinctively disquieting way.

March 19, 2020 in Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Analyzing Feminist Theories of the Silencing Function of Pornography, Constraining Women's Sexual Refusal

Kate Greasley, Silencing Without Uptake, in B. Leiter and L. Green eds., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, Vol 4 (forthcoming)

In the argument over pornography’s censorship, feminist theorists of certain stripes have argued that one of the ways pornography might harm women is by silencing them. First suggested by Catharine MacKinnon, the silencing claim has since been considerably developed, most notably by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby. Taking their cue from J.L. Austin’s speech act theory, these scholars have argued that pornography is capable, in principle, of silencing women in the ‘illocutionary’ sense, that is, by robbing them of a speech act power — as a case in point, the power of sexual refusal. Langton refers to this as the silencing of ‘illocutionary disablement’. The illocutionary disablement claim has met with plenty of resistance, especially concerning its reliance on an ‘uptake’ condition for illocutionary success, also attributed to Austin. Pursuant to this uptake condition, certain speech acts — meaning, acts constituted in the uttering of certain words in a certain context — depend, for their very performance, on the addressee’s recognition of a particular speaker intention.

Among other misgivings, critics of the silencing claim have found it implausible that the performance of a speech act such as sexual refusal could possibly depend on the happenstance of the speaker’s intention getting through to the addressee. Sympathetic to these complaints, I will try to relay how the illocutionary disablement claim can do without the uptake condition as Hornsby, Langton, and others have heretofore formulated it. I am aligned with their critics in thinking that performing the speech act of sexual refusal cannot depend on any individual addressee’s recognition of illocutionary intent. Nevertheless, I will argue, ‘reciprocity’ of a certain kind is a condition of women’s ability to engage that illocution. The speech act of sexual refusal depends, for its very survival, on the existence of semantic and pragmatic conventions that recognisably signal refusal to competent auditors. To the extent that pornography works to destabilise these conventions, it will effectuate illocutionary disablement with regard to that speech act power. Moreover, I argue, if porn did such a thing in the way Langton and others have envisaged, it would indeed be ‘silencing’ women in a distinctive and distinctively disquieting way.

March 19, 2020 in Technology, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Analyzing Feminist Theories of the Silencing Function of Pornography, Constraining Women's Sexual Refusal

Kate Greasley, Silencing Without Uptake, in B. Leiter and L. Green eds., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, Vol 4 (forthcoming)

In the argument over pornography’s censorship, feminist theorists of certain stripes have argued that one of the ways pornography might harm women is by silencing them. First suggested by Catharine MacKinnon, the silencing claim has since been considerably developed, most notably by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby. Taking their cue from J.L. Austin’s speech act theory, these scholars have argued that pornography is capable, in principle, of silencing women in the ‘illocutionary’ sense, that is, by robbing them of a speech act power — as a case in point, the power of sexual refusal. Langton refers to this as the silencing of ‘illocutionary disablement’. The illocutionary disablement claim has met with plenty of resistance, especially concerning its reliance on an ‘uptake’ condition for illocutionary success, also attributed to Austin. Pursuant to this uptake condition, certain speech acts — meaning, acts constituted in the uttering of certain words in a certain context — depend, for their very performance, on the addressee’s recognition of a particular speaker intention.

Among other misgivings, critics of the silencing claim have found it implausible that the performance of a speech act such as sexual refusal could possibly depend on the happenstance of the speaker’s intention getting through to the addressee. Sympathetic to these complaints, I will try to relay how the illocutionary disablement claim can do without the uptake condition as Hornsby, Langton, and others have heretofore formulated it. I am aligned with their critics in thinking that performing the speech act of sexual refusal cannot depend on any individual addressee’s recognition of illocutionary intent. Nevertheless, I will argue, ‘reciprocity’ of a certain kind is a condition of women’s ability to engage that illocution. The speech act of sexual refusal depends, for its very survival, on the existence of semantic and pragmatic conventions that recognisably signal refusal to competent auditors. To the extent that pornography works to destabilise these conventions, it will effectuate illocutionary disablement with regard to that speech act power. Moreover, I argue, if porn did such a thing in the way Langton and others have envisaged, it would indeed be ‘silencing’ women in a distinctive and distinctively disquieting way.

March 19, 2020 in Technology, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Explaining the "Simple" Idea of College Sexual Consent Policies

Aya Gruber, The Complexity of College Consent, Adjudicating Campus Sexual Misconduct and Assault, Cognella, 2020

Teachers, parents, and administrators tell students that consent is “simple.” To be sure, every day, millions of people follow the directive to have only consensual sex with great success and have mutually wanted, unproblematic intimate contact. Law and policy, however, rarely intervene in easy cases. Consent standards intervene in the hard cases. College sexual consent policies delineate when sex between two competent adults of equal status, without force or threat, is a punishable offense. They determine what should happen when the accuser feels harmed but the accused believes he or she has not committed harm. They weigh in on default views of sex — whether people generally desire, are ambivalent toward, or fear sex. They guide decision makers on whom to believe in “he-said-she-said” cases. In short, consent is far from simple. This chapter, written for the book Adjudicating Campus Sexual Misconduct and Assault, unpacks the complex concept of consent in college codes. Its aim is taxonomical and explanatory: to categorize various consent formulations and clarify how they regulate behavior and resolve disputes. The first part of the chapter is a brief history of “ordinary” and affirmative consent standards in criminal law. The second turns to the concept of consent itself. There, I explore what it means to say that a sexual transaction between two people is consensual and whether consent relates to a state of mind, communication, or both. The third part examines the various formulations of consent in college codes, placing them on a scale from most to least regulatory. Finally, I discuss the complicated costs and benefits of affirmative consent.

March 18, 2020 in Education, Pop Culture, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Failure of Kentucky's GPS Monitoring Law for Domestic Violence Offenders

Jennifer Brinkley, The Failure of Amanda's Law in Kentucky: Creating Best Practices for Legislatures Passing Domestic Violence Statutes, 38 Quinnipiac Law Review (2019)

In 2009, the Kentucky General Assembly rushed to enact changes to the Commonwealth’s domestic violence statutes. The legislation, House Bill One, known as the Amanda Ross Domestic Violence Protection Act, or Amanda’s Law, was in response to the murder of Amanda Ross. Within six months of obtaining a domestic violence order (DVO), Ms. Ross was dead. She had been murdered by her ex-fiancée, Steve Nunn, a former Kentucky State Representative. Amanda’s Law amended the domestic violence statutes in a few significant ways, but the most significant change was the ability of the court to order the offender to wear a Global Positioning Monitoring System (GPMS) device. The court could order this type of tracking after being presented with evidence that the offender had committed a substantial violation of the previous order.

The irony of Amanda’s Law is that, even if it had been in effect when she was brutally shot down outside of her home, it would not have had any impact on her survival. This is because the statute requires the following: that a DVO be entered, that the offender have committed a criminal offense against the survivor in violation of the DVO, that the domestic violence survivor then go back to the court issuing the original DVO with evidence of the criminal conduct, and that the survivor make a showing to the court that this conviction qualifies as a substantial violation of the court’s domestic violence order. Only then will the issuing court consider a GPMS be used. Amanda Ross had not achieved any of these steps prior to her death. As such, this knee-jerk reaction by the Kentucky legislature would not have helped her. In the nine years since its passage, a GPMS has been ordered only three times pursuant to Amanda’s Law. The law is a failure in this respect and needs to be amended.

March 17, 2020 in Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2020

New Book: The Feminist War on Crime

Aya Gruber, The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women's Liberation in Mass Incarceration 

Many feminists grapple with the problem of hyper-incarceration in the United States, and yet commentators on gender crime continue to assert that criminal law is not tough enough. This punitive impulse, prominent legal scholar Aya Gruber argues, is dangerous and counterproductive. In their quest to secure women’s protection from domestic violence and rape, American feminists have become soldiers in the war on crime by emphasizing white female victimhood, expanding the power of police and prosecutors, touting the problem-solving power of incarceration, and diverting resources toward law enforcement and away from marginalized communities.

 

Deploying vivid cases and unflinching analysis, The Feminist War on Crime documents the failure of the state to combat sexual and domestic violence through law and punishment. Zero-tolerance anti-violence law and policy tend to make women less safe and more fragile. Mandatory arrests, no-drop prosecutions, forced separation, and incarceration embroil poor women of color in a criminal justice system that is historically hostile to them. This carceral approach exacerbates social inequalities by diverting more power and resources toward a fundamentally flawed criminal justice system, further harming victims, perpetrators, and communities alike.

 

In order to reverse this troubling course, Gruber contends that we must abandon the conventional feminist wisdom, fight violence against women without reinforcing the American prison state, and use criminalization as a technique of last—not first—resort. 

The Feminist War on Crime by Aya Gruber

March 9, 2020 in Books, Race, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 28, 2020

Legal Scholars Weigh in on the Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Verdict

Slate, The Weinstein Verdict is Both a Victory and a Disappointment

On Monday morning, a Manhattan jury found Harvey Weinstein guilty of two of the five charges prosecutors brought against him: criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. The jury also acquitted Weinstein of two counts of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charges prosecutors had brought against him, which would have required the jury to conclude that Weinstein had committed first-degree sex crimes against two or more victims. In other words, the verdict is a mixed bag: Harvey Weinstein has now been convicted of rape. The counts that he was acquitted on, however, seem at odds with the number of allegations that have publicly surfaced against him.

 

This was just one trial, set up to evaluate a specific set of crimes and circumstances. But it has been impossible to think of it as anything other than a referendum on the entire contemporary #MeToo movement. Weinstein was the person whose long-ignored abuses and alleged assaults spurred thousands of women to reassess their own experiences. Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead attorney, has spent her weeks in the spotlight accusing rape survivors of failing to take responsibility for their own mixed signals and explaining how the #MeToo movement has denied men their due process rights, even as her own client was enjoying his in the courtroom. Since the fall of 2017, when dozens of women first shared their stories about Weinstein, countless defenses and dismissals of the sexual misbehavior of other men have rested on the conviction that if sexual offenses don’t rise to the level of Weinstein’s misbehavior, they don’t merit consideration under the purview of #MeToo. Weinstein’s trial morphed into the ultimate #MeToo test: If a jury couldn’t convict Weinstein, the benchmark against which all other alleged abusers are now measured, what hope does any other survivor have of holding a rapist accountable in the criminal justice system?

The Weinstein Verdict is a Complicated Win for Survivors

On Monday, the system worked.

 

Jurors found Harvey Weinstein, a disgraced media mogul who has been accused of assault or harassment by at least 100 women, guilty of sexual assault and rape. His verdict, along with that of comedian Bill Cosby in 2018, sends a strong message that the jurors are capable of believing survivors over powerful men. A legal process in which less than 1% of sexual assault cases lead to convictions sided with survivors over a millionaire whose sexual misconduct has been an open secret for decades.

 

It was empowering. But while Weinstein’s guilty verdict is progress, it won’t fix a deeply broken system. 

 

Many experts and survivors told HuffPost they thought the conviction was important but ultimately, and unfortunately, symbolic. While high-profile cases help shift cultural attitudes toward sexual assault, that doesn’t always change how the legal system treats average victims whose cases may not get the widespread media attention, the high-profile legal representation or the support of multiple accusers that the Weinstein trial did. ***

 

“A high-profile conviction just says that, in this case, there was enough to convict this person,” said Leigh Goodmark, the director of the gender violence clinic at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. “But it doesn’t make any grand pronouncements for me about the system’s friendliness to people who’ve been raped and sexually assaulted.”***

 

There is silent, everyday violence and suffering committed against women that just don’t meet the threshold of public interest,” said Aya Gruber, a law professor at the University of Colorado.

 

“And Harvey Weinstein going to jail isn’t going to do anything for them.”

Suzanne Goldberg, #MeToo is Just Beginning, Wash Post
In the swirl surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s mixed conviction and acquittal on rape and related charges, it can be easy to overlook what hasn’t changed in the wake of #MeToo. The movement has put a spotlight on the starkly divergent views that Americans hold about what kinds of behaviors cross the line into unwanted — and, at times, criminal — acts, and about what should happen when they do.***
 
 
But Weinstein’s trial and all the other changes #MeToo has brought won’t put an end to the roiling debates about what counts as consent and how we should judge long-ago assaults. We’ll continue to disagree, too, about what legal and social sanctions should apply to conduct that is “bad but not as bad” as Weinstein’s.

 

This is a good thing. As uncomfortable and frustrating as these conversations can be, we cannot afford to stop talking about what we expect from each other when it comes to sex and to workplace interactions.

February 28, 2020 in Courts, Equal Employment, Media, Pop Culture, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Grilling MeToo Accusers in the Courtroom

Weinstein Rape Trial Shows #MeToo Accusers Should Prepare for Courtroom Grilling

 In the #MeToo era, women who make sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men can count on public support, but the rape trial in New York of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein has shown that accusers should brace for far less friendly treatment in a court of law. ***

 

 During the trial that began on Jan. 6, Weinstein’s attorneys have questioned his accusers about their appearance at the time of the alleged attacks, their drinking habits and whether they used Weinstein to land a Hollywood acting job.

 

“Just because we live in the Me Too era doesn’t mean you don’t attack in defense of your clients,” said Tom Mesereau, who represented comedian Bill Cosby in his sexual assault trial.***

 

Legal experts said the movement has complicated the work of defending someone like Weinstein because a jury is more likely to sympathize with the alleged victims.

 

But accusers should not expect a shift in legal standards or tactics, experts said.

February 12, 2020 in Courts, Equal Employment, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Story of Mediation and Restorative Justice in a Rape Case

My Justice Dream

This past summer, I sat in an eight-hour mediation circle with the man who raped me. My mom and sister also participated as impacted community members. Two mediators held the space and actively worked to safeguard triggers. They asked us only one question: What brought you here today? 

All of this occurred after several months of therapy and extensive education in consent and patriarchy for my assailant. It was the outcome that I fought for.

This was an exercise in restorative justice (RJ)—and my mediation circle marked one of the first times in North America that a sexual assault case in the legal system concluded with one.***

When I was subpoenaed for a criminal trial, I considered dropping the charges completely—but I was still holding onto my justice dream. At the urging of a friend, I began researching ways to make it happen. I connected with an RJ-aligned lawyer, and we called a meeting with the crown; my proposal was met with a condescending assumption that I didn’t understand how bad rape is.

My response? “I believe that rape is so bad that we have to consider alternative options. We know that incarceration often leads to recidivism and that acquittals are too common. Rates of sexual assault are not declining. It’s time to try something different.” Despite the push back from prosecutors aligned with the punitive system, we eventually got a yes.

December 4, 2019 in Courts, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Book on Domestic Violence "No Visible Bruises," One of NY Times Top 10 Books of 2019

NYT, The 10 Best Books of 2019

NO VISIBLE BRUISES
What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
By Rachel Louise Snyder

Snyder’s thoroughly reported book covers what the World Health Organization has called “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” In America alone, more than half of all murdered women are killed by a current or former partner; domestic violence cuts across lines of class, religion and race. Snyder debunks pervasive myths (restraining orders are the answer, abusers never change) and writes movingly about the lives (and deaths) of people on both sides of the equation. She doesn’t give easy answers but presents a wealth of information that is its own form of hope.

Full Review: An Epidemic of Violence We Never Discuss

***As Rachel Louise Snyder argues in her powerful new book, domestic violence has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Fifty women a month are shot and killed by their partners. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness. And 80 percent of hostage situations involve an abusive partner. Nor is it only a question of physical harm: In some 20 percent of abusive relationships a perpetrator has total control of his victim’s life. (Countries including Britain and France have laws to protect against this kind of abuse, but the United States does not.)

 

A professor of creative writing at American University, Snyder exposes this hidden crisis by combining her own careful analysis with deeply upsetting and thoughtfully told accounts of victims. She rounds out the reporting by interviewing advocates working on the front lines and, even, the abusers themselves.

November 25, 2019 in Books, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Military Rape Case Regarding the Statute of Limitations

CNN, Supreme Court to Take Up Military Rape Case

The US Supreme Court on Friday accepted a Justice Department appeal to review the cases of three men in the Air Force whose rape convictions were overturned last year -- including one whose confession the Air Force recorded -- when the top military appeals court found a five-year statute of limitations existed for military sexual assault before 2006.

The Supreme Court arguments will be scheduled for next spring and a ruling is likely by the end of June.
This will be the first time the justices consider a sexual assault issue in the #MeToo era, wading into a years-long controversy over how the military addresses sexual misconduct in its ranks as service branches continue to face scrutiny over their lack of progress countering the problem.***
 
At the heart of the dispute is a ruling made last year by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the military's top appeals court, in a separate alleged rape case called US v. Mangahas.
 
The Mangahas decision prohibited prosecutors from bringing charges for rape that happened before 2006 unless the offense had been reported and charged within five years.
 
The Supreme Court will now interpret whether a five-year statute of limitations or no time limit should exist for the prosecution of military sexual assault for cases between 1986 and 2006.
 

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the federal government’s case against a military court ruling that reversed several military rape convictions for crimes committed more than a decade or two ago.

The controversial decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, based on previous court decisions, placed a 5-year time limit on prosecuting crimes of rape that occurred between 1986 and 2006.

The case, United States v. Briggs, is a consolidation of filings named for Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Briggs who, in 2014, was convicted of raping a staff sergeant in 2005. The case came to light after Briggs called the victim in 2013 to confess — a conversation the victim recorded.

“I will always be sorry for raping you,” he told her, according to court documents.

The recording was key to bringing Briggs to trial and he was prosecuted under the assumption that there was no statute of limitations for pursuing rape cases in the military. He was found guilty, sentenced to five months confinement and dismissed from the service.

Years before the Briggs case, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice held that rape was a crime punishable by death and therefore had no time limit for prosecuting the crime. But in 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, or CAAF, ruled that some rape charges were not punishable by death, and the standard five-year limit for prosecuting most crimes was instated.

In 2006, however, Congress amended Uniformed Code of Military Justice to ensure that the time limit for rape cases was abolished. Briggs’s conviction, as well as others, came after the law was changed.

But in February 2018, the military appeals court affirmed the statute of limitations for cases that occurred in a gray area under the law, from 1986 to 2006.

 
 

November 20, 2019 in Legislation, SCOTUS, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

SororityToo: Using Systems Change Theory to Reform High-Risk Greek Life

Tanya Cooper, #SororityToo, Michigan State L. Rev. (forthcoming)

Sexual violence is an epidemic affecting millions of students, and those who participate in collegiate Greek life are especially vulnerable. As social societies bent on secrecy, Greek life hides violence in its midst. Laws and campus policies when accessed offer little help to victims, and often secondarily traumatize them. Publicized scandals on campus and social media campaigns, however, have raised awareness and sparked public outrage against the widespread problem of sexual violence and high-risk Greek life. Systems change theory offers a useful framework to reform high-risk Greek life from many angles: education, reporting, litigation, and collective action of its system actors. Effective strategies exist to create safer Greek organizations for students but without reform, we will continue to jeopardize the education and health of millions of students.

October 23, 2019 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Feminist Critique of Legal Interventions Against Sexual Violence

Sharon Cowan, Sense and Sensibilities: A Feminist Critique of Legal Interventions Against Sexual Violence" 
Edinburgh Law Review. 23. 22-51, January 2019

Feminists have spent decades trying to reform laws and evidential procedures relating to sexual assault. Using the current Scottish context as a case study, I will argue in this article that while efforts to reform the text of the substantive as well as evidential and procedural aspects of the law have been largely successful, in practice the impact of these reforms has not always been felt. Drawing on contemporary examples from Scotland, and setting these within the broader context of similar problems and arguments in other jurisdictions such as England and Wales, and Canada, I will examine the ways in which the ‘laws on the books’ have not always translated smoothly through to ‘law in action’. Ultimately, I argue that our all too frequent failures to punish sexual violence in a meaningful way suggests that we need to think again about how we deal with issues of sexual violence in contemporary society.

October 8, 2019 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Re-norming Sport to Change a Toxic Culture of Harassment and Abuse

Melissa Breger, Margery Holman & Michelle Guerrero, Re-Norming Sport for Inclusivity: How the Sport Community Has the Potential to Change a Toxic Culture of Harassment and Abuse" 
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2019, 13, 274–289.

Traditional sport norms and gender-based biases that are prevalent in the sport environment, both explicit and implicit, have contributed to a culture where sexual harassment and abuse is commonplace. This article examines how sport tolerates the development of this culture, and more importantly, how practices and policies can be utilized to transform sport’s culture to one that is inclusive and safe. Reform is needed in attitudes and norms towards gender bias and sexual violence that primarily, but not exclusively, targets girls and women in sport and is perpetrated by boys and men. The application of various theories from psychology is recommended as one strategy to rid sport of both a culture of misogyny and of those who resist change to achieve this objective.

October 1, 2019 in Manliness, Masculinities, Sports, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

New Books: Stanford Victim from the Brock Turner Case Tells Her Story

NPR, Chanel Miller Says "Know my Name" as She Reflects on her Assault by Brock Turner

Her name is Chanel Miller.

 

For four years, she has been known publicly as Emily Doe, "an unconscious woman" or simply "Brock Turner's victim." In her memoir Know My Name, she wants to set the record straight: "I am a victim, I have no qualms with this word, only with the idea that it is all that I am," she writes. "However, I am not Brock Turner's victim. I am not his anything."

 

In 2015, Miller was sexually assaulted by Turner on Stanford University's campus. Two Swedish graduate students were passing by on bikes and chased Turner off an unconscious Miller. Turner was convicted of three felonies but served only three months of a six-month sentence in county jail. The case became notorious for its illustration of the race and wealth gap in sentencing, and for the stinging eloquence of Miller's victim statement, which went instantly viral when it was published by BuzzFeed.

 

Know My Name is a devastating, immersive memoir of her sexual assault and its aftermath. We live with Miller minute by minute, thinking and feeling with her. At points, particularly during the account of her testimony, it is hard to read it and breathe at the same time.

"Know My Name" A Sexual Assault Survivor Tells the World

“Know My Name” is an act of reclamation. On every page, Miller unflattens herself, returning from Victim or Emily Doe to Chanel, a beloved daughter and sister, whose mother emigrated from China to learn English and become a writer and whose father is a therapist; a girl who was so shy that, in an elementary school play about a safari, she played the grass. Miller reads “Rumi, Woolf, Didion, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Banana Yoshimoto, Miranda July, Chang-rae Lee, Carlos Bulosan.” She rides her bike “through the Baylands … across crunchy salt and pickleweed.” She fosters elderly rescue dogs with names like Butch and Remy and Squid. She rages against a form that identifies “victim’s race” as white. “Never in my life have I checked only white. You cannot note my whiteness without acknowledging I am equal parts Chinese.”

 

“Know My Name” is one woman’s story. But it’s also every woman’s story — the story of a world whose institutions are built to protect men; a world where sexual objectification is ubiquitous and the threat of sexual violence is constant. Before Turner assaulted her, Miller had already survived one act of deadly misogyny near her college, the University of California at Santa Barbara, when Elliot Rodger, a privileged young man enraged that he’d never had a girlfriend, went on a spree and killed six people.

 

After the assault, Miller enrolls in art school in Rhode Island. But the East Coast proves no safer. Walking back from class, “I passed three men sitting on a car who fastened their eyes on my legs, clicked their tongues and smacked their lips, performing the sounds and hand gestures one might use if attempting to summon a cat. … I trained myself to tuck my head down, avoiding eye contact, feigning invisibility.”

 

Miller takes us through the trial, her steadfast, supportive attorney, the humiliation of testifying, her rage when Judge Aaron Persky sentences Turner to just six months in county jail and probation, because a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on the onetime Olympic hopeful. She quotes Turner’s father’s complaints that “these verdicts have broken and shattered” his son, who can no longer enjoy the rib-eye steaks he once loved. Turner himself says that he wants to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity.” “He had lived shielded under a roof where the verdict was never accepted, where he would never be held accountable,” Miller writes.

 

And then there was Stanford. “Their apathy, their lack of apology I could live with, but what troubled me most was their failure to ask the single most important question: How do we ensure this does not happen again?

 

Eventually, there’s a hint of justice, a tiny rebalancing of the scales. Judge Persky is recalledTurner’s appeal is denied. Miller writes an incandescent, awesomely angry victim impact statement that blazes across the internet, beginning, “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that is why we’re here.” While Turner registers as a sex offender, Miller signs a book contract. She texts her mother a picture of herself in New York City, enjoying a celebratory dessert of grilled peaches. Her mother texts back, “You are mommy’s dream.”

September 26, 2019 in Books, Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

New York Legislation Allows Domestic Violence Victims to Terminate Telephone and Cable Contracts

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Requiring Companies to Allow Victims of Domestic Violence to Terminate Contracts Without Penalty

Legislation Allows Victims of Domestic Violence, Who Are Under a Multi-year or Bundled Contract with a Telephone, Cable, or Satellite Company, to Terminate Their Contract Without Penalty

Builds on New York State's Nation-Leading Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (A.5318/S.2356) requiring companies to allow victims of domestic violence, who are fleeing their batterers and have received an order of protection, to terminate their multi-year or bundled contract with a telephone or cable or satellite company at a location they have fled without penalty.

"Survivors of domestic violence should not have to handle the added stress and red tape that comes with contract termination penalties," Governor Cuomo said. "When leaving an abusive environment, a clean break is critical and in New York we will give survivors the resources they need to move onto the next chapter of their lives."

While multi-year contracts with telephone or cable companies offer consumers better price-saving options, the fees to cancel such contracts vary across providers and can be charged to victims of domestic violence who are fleeing their abusers. In many cases of domestic violence, it is necessary for victims to leave behind items of intrinsic and financial value and sever all ties with their offender. By allowing victims, who submit a written claim, to terminate their contracts at a location they have fled without penalty, we are strengthening protections for victims and providing tools to potentially ease the stress and trauma often associated with domestic violence.

August 29, 2019 in Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)