Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Senators are pushing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Will it help Indigenous communities?

Senators are pushing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Will it help Indigenous communities?

On any given day, Annita Lucchesi might be ordering casket sprays, prepping food for a wake, buying school supplies for a child with a missing parent or booking a motel for a woman escaping domestic violence.

Some days, she said, she will drive up to 300 miles through southeastern Montana and the surrounding areas in her work as the executive director of Sovereign Bodies Institute, a grass-roots organization that does community-based research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people as well as provides services to those affected.

Her grim professional docket is a reflection of the scale of the crisis of violence facing Indigenous people, as well as long-standing negligence by the federal government and law enforcement when it comes to Indigenous people’s safety, she said.

“The reality is that the only people doing any of this work are grass-roots folks,” Lucchesi said. “If we as community members didn’t step up to do it, it literally wouldn’t get done.”

Lucchesi, who is of Cheyenne descent, said that as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking who has loved ones who are missing or murdered, this work has never felt like a choice. She said that just in her small community of about 3,000 people, she has tracked more than 100 unsolved cases of missing and murdered people in the last couple of decades by following news reports and talking to community members. This winter alone, she said, there have been three murders she has tracked using these methods.

“It’s personal to me,” said. “At what point does our local cemetery become a mass grave?”

. . .

Lucchesi’s experiences with violence are not uncommon. More than 84 percent of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime, according to a 2016 National Institute of Justice report. In some counties, the U.S. Department of Justice found, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. Indigenous men face disproportionately high rates of violence, and while data collection on transgender and two-spirit Indigenous people is often lacking, Lucchesi said they too face overwhelmingly high rates of violence.

Lucchesi added that these shocking numbers, however, are probably undercounts — of the oft-cited statistic that one in three Indigenous women have been raped, she said she has an aunt who says skeptically: “Show me the other two.”

The majority of sexual assault cases in the United States go unreported, according to an analysis by the Justice Department. Poor data collection on gender-based violence among Indigenous people, including misclassifications of homicides as suicides or accidents, paired with a difficult-to-access legal system probably make this worse for Indigenous people, women’s rights experts say. Last year, Deb Haaland, the first Native American sworn in as U.S. interior secretary, announced a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to try to tackle some of these issues.

It is a problem that a bipartisan group of lawmakers says they’re also hoping to address this month by pushing to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act for the first time in almost a decade. The updated version of the bill, led by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would include provisions expanding tribal jurisdiction over gendered violence.

January 25, 2022 in Family, Gender, Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How Judges Should Apply the Exceptions to the Hague Abduction Convention to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

Merle Hope Weiner, You Can and You Should: How Judges Can Apply the Hague Abduction Convention to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence, 28 UCLA Women's L. J. 223 (forthcoming)

This Article is written for trial judges who adjudicate cases pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, although appellate judges, lawyers, and scholars may also find it of interest. Trial judges are my target audience because they are the best defense against the potential injustice that the Hague Convention creates for domestic violence victims who flee transnationally with their children for safety, then face their batterers’ petitions for the children’s return. The trial judge decides whether a child is returned to the place from which the domestic violence victim fled or whether a child is allowed to remain in the United States pursuant to an exception to the Hague Convention’s remedy of return. This Article canvases the arguments that attorneys make to defeat the application of article 13(b), and refutes them by drawing upon social science, the Guide to Good Practice, its sanctioned Australian Bench Book, case law, and common sense. The Article also argues that if a trial judge cannot grant the article 13(b) exception solely because of unwarranted legal obstacles, the judge should disregard the law. This part of the Article builds upon Jeffrey Brand-Ballard’s book, Limits of Legality: The Ethics of Lawless Judging

January 19, 2022 in Courts, Family, International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 17, 2022

Sexual Exploitation and the Adultified Black Girl

Mikah K. Thompson has published Sexual Exploitation and the Adultified Black Girl in volume 94 of the St. John's Law Review (2022). The abstract is here: 

Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of entertainers Sean “Jay Z” Carter and Beyoncé Knowles Carter, celebrated her eighth birthday in January of 2020. To commemorate the occasion, Blue’s grandfather, Matthew Knowles, posted a picture of Blue on Instagram. Fans and journalists alike marveled that Blue looked so much like her famous mother, and many noted that she looked much older in the photograph. E! News tweeted Blue’s picture along with a question: “Can someone please explain to us when Blue Ivy became an adult?” The post went viral, and many people criticized E! News for referring to eight-year-old Blue as an adult, with some arguing that blurring the line between childhood and adulthood “ ‘perpetuates pedophilia.’ ” Others asserted that referring to a Black girl as an adult is especially dangerous because it reinforces the perception that Black girls are adult-like. E! News eventually deleted the tweet.

A recent research study confirms that society tends to view Black girls as older and more adult-like than they actually are. Thus, E! News’ description of Blue Ivy may reflect a larger problem that can have devastating effects for Black girls. This piece asserts that a two-tiered justice system exists for victims of sexual exploitation depending on their race. As we commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted white women the right to vote but kept Black women disenfranchised, we must address the racial disparities that persist among girls and women today.

Part I of this piece describes adultification bias, a societal phenomenon that can result in the unfair treatment of Black girls who experience sexual exploitation, including statutory rape. Part II discusses the traditional and contemporary policy reasons that underpin the nation’s statutory rape laws. Part II also defines reasonable mistake of age, an affirmative defense to a charge of statutory rape, and addresses the effectiveness of the defense where the alleged victim is an adultified Black girl. Part III of this piece examines the policy reasons that support the continued use of the mistake of age defense when the alleged victim is a teenager and the alleged offender a minor or a young adult. Part III concludes with my proposal for the enactment of a limited mistake of age defense that would be available to young defendants who may be more likely to overestimate the age of any sexual partner but unavailable to defendants who are significantly older than their alleged victims. This proposal increases protections for the adultified Black girl while recognizing the sexual autonomy of teen girls and avoiding the potential weaponization of statutory rape laws against young Black defendants.

January 17, 2022 in Race, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Third Circuit Denies Asylum Claim on Grounds that Women are Not a Particular Social Group

Chavez-Chilel v. US (3d Cir. Dec. 6, 2021)

Finding substantial evidence supported the BIA’s conclusion that “Guatemalan women” is not a particular social group (“PSG”) for asylum or withholding purposes, we will deny the petition.***

 

At her merits hearing, Chavez-Chilel testified that she was raped as a teenager in Guatemala, the police did not take any action when she reported this crime, and the same man later threatened to rape her again. She explained that she feared she would be sexually assaulted or killed if she was removed to Guatemala. The IJ denied Chavez-Chilel’s applications for asylum and withholding of removal, finding that, while she was credible and that her rape qualified as past persecution, her proposed PSG, “Guatemalan women,” did not constitute a PSG for asylum or withholding of removal purposes. The IJ concluded that this PSG was not “sufficiently particular” because there was no evidence that Guatemalan women share a “unifying characteristic” or present a “unified target” for persecution. ***

 

Substantial evidence supports the BIA’s and IJ’s finding that “Guatemalan women” is not a cognizable PSG. A PSG must be: “(1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question.” S.E.R.L., 894 F.3d at 540 (quotation marks and citation omitted). Particularity “addresses the outer limits of a group’s boundaries and is definitional in nature, whereas social distinction focuses on whether the people of a given society would perceive a proposed group as sufficiently separate or distinct.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). To satisfy the particularity requirement, “an alleged social group [must] have discrete and . . . definable boundaries that are not amorphous, overbroad, diffuse, or subjective, so as to provide a clear standard for determining who is a member.” Id. at 553 (quotation marks and citation omitted).

 

Chavez-Chilel’s proposed PSG lacks particularity. “[N]ot every immutable characteristic is sufficiently precise to define a [PSG],” id. at 552, and courts have concluded that a proposed PSG of all women in a particular country “is overbroad[] because no factfinder could reasonably conclude that all [of a country’s] women had a well-founded fear of persecution based solely on their gender,” Safaie v. INS, 25 F.3d 636, 640 (8th Cir. 1994) (addressing Iranian women). Reasons to depart from this general rule are not present here. For example, in Hassan v. Gonzales, 484 F.3d 513 (8th Cir. 2007), the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recognized the PSG of all Somali women because “all Somali females have a well-founded fear of persecution based solely on gender given the prevalence of” female genital mutilation. Id. at 518; see also Mohammed v. Gonzales, 400 F.3d 785, 797–98 (9th Cir. 2005) (same); In re Kasinga, 21 I. & N. Dec. 357, 365–66 (B.I.A. 1996) (recognizing PSG of “young women” in a particular tribe in Togo due to pervasive practice of female genital mutilation). Here, by contrast, there is no record evidence that all Guatemalan women share a unifying characteristic that results in them being targeted for any form of persecution based solely on their gender. Cf. A.R. 170–73, 182 (Chavez-Chilel’s testimony that she knew of no other women who suffered sexual or domestic violence); A.R. 232 (report explaining that one-third more Guatemalan women experience sexual or domestic violence against them than women in Paraguay). Accordingly, while the size of the group standing alone would not disqualify a group from being a PSG, Cece v. Holder, 733 F.3d 662, 674–75 (7th Cir. 2013), ChavezChilel has failed to demonstrate that her proposed PSG is sufficiently particularized. Thus, her alleged fear of persecution based upon membership in such a group does not provide a basis for asylum. 

 H/t Brian Soucek

 

December 15, 2021 in Courts, Gender, International, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 6, 2021

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

On December 8th at 8 a.m. EST the International Center for Research on Women kicks off its 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence. The launch program is focused on how technology-facilitated gender-based violence manifests in Asia. Here is a summary of the event. 
 
Technology-facilitated GBV is a growing phenomenon that includes stalking, bullying, and sexual harassment based on sexual and gender identity, carried out online. NORC at the University of Chicago and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) will share the results of their research related to the trends in technology-facilitated GBV, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a closer look at the state of tech-facilitated GBV in India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia. We will also present recommendations for future programming and research priorities in the region, and open a dialogue with attendees on how to prevent, mitigate, and respond to technology-facilitated GBV in the region.

This work was funded by USAID under the Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Learning, Evaluation and Research (DRG-LER) II Activity.

Speakers will include:
- Karen Freeman, USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia (opening remarks)
- Dr. Laura Hinson, ICRW's Senior Social & Behavioral Scientist (panel moderator)
- Mithila Iyer, NORC at the University of Chicago Research Assistant
- Poulomi Pal – ICRW consultant
Here is the link to register.  This is an important opportunity for legal scholars to engage globally and to respond to changing conditions.

December 6, 2021 in Conferences, International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

American Indian and Alaska Native Women's Experiences with Sexual Violence, Reproductive Coercion, and Reproductive Health

Authors Elena Giacci, et. al. have published a study in the Journal of Women's Health titled Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence, Reproductive Coercion, and Reproductive Health Among American Indian and Alaska Native Women: A Narrative Interview StudyThe study is full of insights and contributions, some of which are excerpted here (internal citations removed). 

Recurring theme of silences and secrecy were described in the context of racism, historical, current, and intergenerational trauma. Women's reproductive experiences were shaped by silencing and shame regarding violent experiences, which they linked to histories of marginalization of their communities. Specifically, women described inadequate and limited access to sexual health education and services. This, combined with negative family and community responses to abuse, led to lack of care seeking for reproductive health needs. Inequitable access to confidential health services and ineffective service agency responses (including law enforcement) reflect ongoing neglect of AI/AN communities. Legal and judicial responses, in turn, are complicated by pervasive challenges of placing blame on female victims while tribal, state, and federal lack of collaboration perpetuate the epidemic of “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

 

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to explore RC among AI/AN women. Few studies have directly examined reasons for the disproportionately high rates of unintended pregnancy among AI/AN women. Most research related to unintended pregnancy in AI/AN communities has focused on adolescent pregnancy and sexual risk among youth. Similar to non-AI/AN women, RC occurred in the context of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by partners who also interfered with contraceptive use and care seeking. Some women perceived that their partners were actively trying to impregnate them against their wishes, and described partner and community influences on keeping pregnancies they did not want.

December 6, 2021 in Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Internal Report on Culture and Processes at TIME'S UP

TIME'S UP just published Phase 1 of its report prepared by an independent consultant making "recommendations, tools, and plans that examine its structure, processes and culture.” The publication provides critical insights into the trajectory of the organization, a few of which are excerpted here:

  • "In its urgency to pursue a very noble vision, TIME’S UP’s mission and operational model was  largely undefined for some time. It grew rapidly, often chasing the short-term, important  issues of the day versus tracking activities back to the larger or longer-term strategic vision.  In so doing, the organization would be experienced by some of its employees and many  stakeholders as distracted or unfocused."
  • "While the fallout of the pandemic can in no way be blamed for TIME’S UP’s current state of crisis, it is still important  to acknowledge that it did have some effect on the overall functioning of the organization during the past two years and may have exacerbated existing structural/internal issues." 
  • "[I]nterviewees identified “conflicts of interest,” to use their words, that now seem readily apparent in certain professional and personal relationships (previous and/or  existing) maintained by the board chair, the CEO, and other board members."
  • "TIME’S UP has been negatively impacted by a perception of Democratic partisanship. Some questioned the  organization’s capacity to hold all accused of wrongdoing to the same standards of  accountability as well its ability to provide a consistent space for all accusers to come forward."  

The full report is available here. TIME'S UP's mission is to "create a society free of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and beyond. We want every person — across race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and income level — to be safe on the job and have equal opportunity for economic success and security."

November 22, 2021 in Equal Employment, Violence Against Women, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

An Excerpt from Anita Hill's “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence”

“This Is Not That Bad” An Excerpt from Anita Hill's “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence”

Excerpted from Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Anita Hill.

“Not that bad” reflects the attitude that survivors often internalize; that our abusers’ behaviors “were not the worst thing that ever happened to us” serves as a coping mechanism that is problematic. In her anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, the writer, public intellectual, and cultural critic Roxane Gay writes with painful eloquence about how for a long time she minimized the gang rape she survived as a teenager. And the heartrending stories in her book from other women who experienced gender‑based violence include scores who remained friendly or intimate with harassers and abusers. Not That Bad poignantly reminds us of the way we deny our pain to keep living. Convincing herself that her experience was not as bad as others’ was Gay’s way of managing her trauma “instead of allowing the magnitude of it to destroy” her. But as Gay points out, this defense mechanism comes at a cost. In her case, as with countless other victims, it numbed her to the pain of her other bad experiences, as well as the trauma others suffered. “The surface of my empathy became callous,” she writes.

Looking back at how the Senate exchange went, I wonder, was Specter gaslighting me and the public, or was he mansplaining? I’ve concluded that he was doing both. If gaslighting was his intent, he was manipulating me (and the public) into questioning the reality and my perception of my own experiences. Given his condescending tone, Specter was also mansplaining—trying to convince us all that he knows better than me how a woman experiences sexual harassment. Mansplaining was the technique, and gaslighting was the goal. Both are forms of denial employed to discount claims of abuse, and they deserve to be called out because they prevent women from being heard and believed when they testify about abuse. Both tactics foster self‑doubt, coaxing victims into thinking that coming forward is pointless, that no one will care.

. . .

How do three simple words, “not that bad,” become so powerful? They gain steam when they are absorbed in all of our social systems, permeating survivors’ minds. The hold that those three little words have comes from hearing them repeated multiple times over the course of a lifetime. The exact language may change, as do the circumstances, but the message that your hurt is of no consequence, so back off, remains the same. Schools deny and neglect gender violence, undermining survivors’ confidence and secure identity even as small children. The same attitude exists in the workplace, which can lead survivors to feel self‑doubt. Individual denial breeds institutional denial, and survivors pay the price. Specter’s words were aimed at persuading me to doubt my significance. His strategy was to convince other potential witnesses and the American public that the stories survivors seek to share and the people who want to hear them are of no importance. Specter’s belittlement of my pain had one clear beneficiary, Clarence Thomas. To abusers, harassers, and rapists, “not so bad” is an absolution and, in Thomas’s case, an assurance that the Senate confirmation process would protect him. To survivors, these words are like a dagger.

November 16, 2021 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Legal History, SCOTUS, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Domestic Violence Organizations Affirm New Approaches in "Moment of Truth" Letter

Domestic violence organizations have affirmed a commitment to changed approaches in a "Moment of Truth" declaration. This is a powerful read in its entirety with some excerpts below. While it was signed in March 2020, recent coverage in The Lily drew new attention to it. 

We, the undersigned sexual assault and domestic violence state coalitions call ourselves to account for the ways in which this movement, and particularly the white leadership within this movement, has repeatedly failed Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) survivors, leaders, organizations, and movements:

 

● We have failed to listen to Black feminist liberationists and other colleagues of color in the movement who cautioned us against the consequences of choosing increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to gender-based violence.

● We have promoted false solutions of reforming systems that are designed to control people, rather than real community-based solutions that support healing and liberation.

● We have invested significantly in the criminal legal system, despite knowing that the vast majority of survivors choose not to engage with it and that those who do are often re-traumatized by it.

● We have held up calls for “victim safety” to justify imprisonment and ignored the fact that prisons hold some of the densest per-capita populations of trauma survivors in the world.

● We have ignored and dismissed transformative justice approaches to healing, accountability, and repair, approaches created by BIPOC leaders and used successfully in BIPOC communities.

 

We acknowledge BIPOC’s historical trauma and lived experiences of violence and center those traumas and experiences in our commitments to move forward. We affirm that BIPOC communities are not homogeneous and that opinions on what is necessary now vary in both substance and degree. We stand with the Black Women leaders in our movement, for whom isolation, risk, and hardship are now particularly acute. And we are grateful to the Black Women, Indigenous Women, and Women of Color - past and present - who have contributed mightily to our collective body of work, even as it has compromised their own health and well-being. This moment has long been coming. We must be responsible for the ways in which our movement work directly contradicts our values. We espouse nonviolence, self-determination, freedom for all people and the right to bodily autonomy as we simultaneously contribute to a pro-arrest and oppressive system that is designed to isolate, control, and punish. We promote the ideas of equity and freedom as we ignore and minimize the real risks faced by BIPOC survivors who interact with a policing system that threatens the safety of their families and their very existence. We seek to uproot the core drivers of gender-based violence yet treat colonialism, white supremacy, racism, and transphobia as disconnected or separate from our core work.

The letter instead supports reframing the idea of "public safety," removing police from schools, decriminalizing survival,  prioritizing safe housing, and investing in caregiving instead of policing. 

November 15, 2021 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Dusting Off the Law Books: Recognizing Gender Persecution in Conflicts and Atrocities

Lisa Davis, Dusting Off the Law Books: Recognizing Gender Persecution in Conflicts and Atrocities, 20 Nw. J. Hum. Rts. 1 (2021).

In this article Professor Davis illuminates the prevalence of, and lack of recognition and response to, gender-based crimes designed to reinforce oppressive and discriminatory gender narratives in times of armed conflict. The abstract for this article is below.

War-time abuses against women, girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer (LGBTIQ), non-binary and gender non-conforming persons are not new. They are as old as human history, appearing in modern international criminal law records as far back as World War II (WWII). In conflicts across the globe, from Iraq to Colombia, armed actors have perpetrated gender-based crimes amounting to persecution in an effort to reinforce oppressive, discriminatory gender narratives. Rarely documented when they happen, perpetrators are hardly ever held accountable for these crimes. As a result, the crimes are often excluded from consideration by international and domestic tribunals, and in effect, are left out of history. International criminal jurisprudence is silent on gender persecution, despite international law’s decades-long recognition of it as a crime. This silence derives from a lack of recognition and understanding of the intent to discriminate against a group based on their gender. The inclusion of gender persecution as a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute, which governs the International Criminal Court (ICC), provides a pathway forward for the international community to meaningfully challenge this type of harm. Such recognition would demonstrate to the world that targeting women, girls, LGBTIQ, non-binary and gender non-conforming persons because of their gender is a crime against humanity. This article contains three sections: (1) Understanding Gender Persecution; (2) Applying a Gender Persecution Lens, and (3) Recognizing Gender Persecution Survivors’ Rights to Participation. The article concludes with practical recommendations for the international community and local communities to increase recognition, prevention and redress for gender persecution and promote a survivor-centered approach for peace and transitional justice processes.

November 12, 2021 in Gender, International, LGBT, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

CAL Eliminates Spousal Rape Exemption

Carrie Baker, California Eliminates Spousal Rape Exemption

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill mostly eliminating an antiquated distinction in California law between “spousal rape” and rape, which has for years resulted in more lenient penalties for perpetrators who rape their spouses.

 

“From the beginning of our efforts, we have been clear that rape is rape. A marriage license is not an excuse for committing one of society’s most violent and sadistic crimes,” said Assemblymember Christina Garcia, chair of Legislative Woman’s Caucus. “The first question a rape victim is asked should not be whether or not they are married.”

 

Assembly Bill 1171 eliminates section 262 on spousal rape in the California Penal Code to ensure perpetrators convicted of raping a spouse are subject to the same mandatory imprisonment and sex offender registry requirements as those convicted of raping someone who is not their spouse. The previous law had allowed spousal rapists to plea bargain their sentence down to probation and gave judges discretion as to whether to list them on the state’s sex offender registry.

 

“The rape of a spouse was probation-eligible in every case, even those involving force or violence, compared to rape of a non-spouse, which involved a three-year mandatory sentence to prison. That created all kinds of inequalities and unfairnesses,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and chair of Enough is Enough Voter Project, who led the effort to pass the bill.***

 

The previous law also did not allow prosecution for rape when a spouse was unable to give legal consent because they were under the influence or unconscious, when a perpetrator threatened their spouse with retaliation, or when a perpetrator fraudulently represented the situation. A.B. 1171 law removes these spousal exemptions.

October 20, 2021 in Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Forced Marriage: Law and Practice in Pakistan

Forced Marriage: Law and Practice in Pakistan

By: Sania Islam

This research examines the reasons why and the circumstances in which Pakistani women began a common-law relationship against their will, and the role played by their families. A recent national survey shows that 4.1 percent of indigenous women were obliged to marry and 4.8 percent were sold. This practice is conceptualized as an expression of both family and partner violence against women, but it is not often labelled and recognized as such. Forced marriage is associated with women’s transgression of traditional gender roles and rape, as well as traditions and practices that consider women’s opinions and consent as unnecessary. Forced marriages are less common now than they were in the past because of the greater awareness of women’s rights. But the practice persists. The link between non-consensual marriages and intimate partner violence is discussed, and public policy implications are presented. Forced marriage is frequently portrayed as an issue which only affects South Asian women and girls, however, this is not correct. Forced marriage affects a wide range of communities, including Irish Traveller, Turkish, Roma, Afghan, South Asian, Kurdish, Iranian, Arab and African communities. There are no religions which support or advocate the practice of forced marriage. Forced marriage can happen to anyone from any background, regardless of social class, financial status and sexuality, which include people who identify as lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender, or are perceived as such. In a UK context, the needs and experiences of some affected groups are often less visible, and only specific groups are highlighted. It is important to be aware that forced marriage disproportionately impacts women and girls and is therefore recognized as a form of violence against women and girls. When a forced marriage occurs, several human rights are breached. Women’s experience of abuse often does not end with the pressure to marry. Many women are also subjected to different forms of abuse within the context of their marriage. This can range from emotional, psychological and financial abuse to sexual and physical violence.

October 19, 2021 in Family, Gender, International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

UK Asks Whether Misogyny Should be a Hate Crime

NYT, After Killings, UK Asks, Should Misogyny Be a Hate Crime?

As anger grew in Britain last week over the justice system’s approach to violence against women, the public discourse has turned to a new question: Should misogyny be considered a hate crime?

 

The debate comes amid a broader national outcry over gender-based crimes after the murder of Sarah Everard, whose abduction and killing by a London police officer shocked Britons and forced renewed scrutiny of how the police and the courts handle such cases.

 

Activists, criminal justice experts and opposition lawmakers have called for legislation to expand the definition of a hate crime to ensure greater punishments for such crimes as harassment, domestic abuse and stalking and signal the seriousness of these types of offenses. But the government has so far ruled that out.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that there is already “abundant” legislation to combat violence against women but that it is not being properly enforced. In an interview during the annual Conservative Party conference last week, he acknowledged that the way the justice system handles these crimes is “just not working,” but said he felt “widening the scope” would increase the burden on the police.***

 

The activists point to some bracing data. One in four women in Britain have experienced sexual assault, according to government statistics. Almost one in three women will face domestic abuse in their lifetime. And on average, a woman is killed by a man every three days in the country, with many cases involving domestic violence, according to data from Femicide Census.

October 13, 2021 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

New Book and Reviews: Anita Hill's "Believing" Sees Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence as a Cultural and Structural Problem That Hurts Everyone

Anita Hill, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

“An elegant, impassioned demand that America see gender-based violence as a cultural and structural problem that hurts everyone, not just victims and survivors… It’s at times downright virtuosic in the threads it weaves together.”—NPR

From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

In 1991, Anita Hill began something that’s still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America’s three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.

NYT Review, Anita Hill Has Some Perspective to Offer

Anita Hill still speaks in the measured tones she did while being questioned before an all-white, all-male panel before the Senate in 1991 — a young law professor in a blue linen suit who would give the nation an overnight education in workplace sexual harassment.

 

Thirty years later, she is more academic than activist, focusing on pathways to progress, and continuing to teach law as a professor of social policy, law and gender studies at Brandeis University.

 

But to be honest, Hill’s patience is waning. “I really am running out,” she said in a video interview from her home in Massachusetts earlier this month.

 

Her new book, “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence,” due out on Tuesday from Viking, aims to channel that impatience into something more substantive — a manifesto of sorts.

NPR Review, "Believing" Is a Book Only Anita Hill Could have Written

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence is not a book about Anita Hill. Yes, it has plenty of her personal stories and, yes, it references her role at the center of the Supreme Court hearing firestorm that first acquainted many Americans with the concept of "sexual harassment." ***

 

The book first attempts to show how massive problems like harassment and assault are affecting everyone from the smallest children to adults, from the lowest-wage workers to the highest-paid celebrities. Then, Hill shows both the effects of the problem — the ways it not only hurts individuals but hampers political change and economic growth — and the myriad barriers to solving it. To try to tackle something so complex, she says, feels like trying to "boil the ocean."

September 29, 2021 in Books, Equal Employment, Race, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 27, 2021

Virginia Judge Holds Domestic Violence Victim in Contempt After Testimony

A Loudon County, Virginia judge has held a domestic violence victim in contempt after she testified as a witness in the criminal case.  The stated reason for the contempt ruling and subsequent incarceration was the judge's belief that the witness appeared intoxicated. The judge concluded that the witness "rocked back and forth in the witness stand" and that “her speech was lethargic and rambling, and at times unnaturally alternating between high and low tones.”  The witness admitted to having smoked marijuana earlier in the day. 

She was sentenced to ten days in jail. In a motion seeking to vacate the ruling, however, several witnesses contradicted the judge's perception. The victim's lawyer sought to vacate the contempt ruling, arguing that the judge had no basis for the citation and that she was denied her due process rights. The judge denied this motion

The Washington Post reports that this jailing has "angered women's rights groups" who already face stark challenges in getting domestic violence victims to testify against their abusers. The victim's lawyer indeed explains that the witnessed appeared "agitated because she was facing her alleged abuser at trial and testifying on a difficult subject matter."

September 27, 2021 in Courts, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Accountability for Nassar Abuse

U.S. gymnasts testified in Congress last week seeking greater accountability for all of the failures in institutions and oversight that allowed Larry Nassar to abuse so many.

Dr. Amanda Potts and I previously analyzed the Victim Impact Statements (VIS) in the Michigan criminal case to consider these larger issues of accountability. Our article, The Language of Harm: What the Nassar Victim Impact Statements Reveal About Abuse and Accountability came out last year in the Pittsburgh Law Review. Last week's testimony resurrects the relevance of the conclusions of this linguistic analysis. 

This Article uses corpus-based discourse analysis to examine this impactful collection of VIS for their larger lessons in law, policy, and society. This analysis reveals several takeaways for further analysis and examination. It reveals the challenges that rape, sexual assault, and abuse survivors face in naming the crime and describing the harms. These challenges are particularly fraught and complex when powerful systems and institutions allow abusers to flourish, resulting in systemic and interconnected betrayals and failures. The VIS call for better platforms for survivors to heal, to speak, and to voice their harms beyond these episodic and rare moments offered by the #MeToo Movement, or, as in the Nassar case, made available due to the specific facts and judicial management of a case. The VIS reveal that, while Nassar has been held accountable, the larger limits of language, law, and accountability ensure that future cases will surface, absent better preventative policies. These VIS broadly call for powerful law and policy reformation that will hold perpetrators and their enablers accountable and meet the full range of victims’ needs outside of the criminal justice system.

September 20, 2021 in Sports, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

California Moves to Be First State to Outlaw Stealthing, or Removing Condom Without Consent

NYT, California Moves to Outlaw "Stealthing" or Removing Condom without Consent

The California State Legislature this week approved a measure that would make the state the first to outlaw stealthing, the act of removing a condom during sex without a partner’s consent.

 

The bill, which was approved unanimously on Tuesday, awaits the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, who has until Oct. 10 to sign it into law. A spokesman for the governor said his office did not comment on pending bills.

 

If approved, the measure would amend the state’s civil definition of sexual battery and make stealthing a civil offense, meaning victims could sue their assailants for damages.***

 

Ms. Garcia, a Democrat, said that she had tried to pass legislation criminalizing stealthing since 2017, when a Yale University study brought widespread attention to it. But she ran into considerable opposition.

 

The bill that was approved this week that would make stealthing a civil offense “is a good first step,” Ms. Garcia said. She said she hoped it would lay the groundwork to eventually add stealthing to the state’s criminal code.

 

A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 2019 reported that 12 percent of women said that they had been a victim of stealthing. Another study that year found that 10 percent of men admitted to removing their condom during intercourse without their partner’s consent.

 

Alexandra Brodsky, who wrote the 2017 Yale study and is the author of “Sexual Justice,” a book that addresses various forms of institutional response to sexual harassment and assault, said that the measure approved this week could bring “political and personal power” to victims. She said that it would remove any ambiguity surrounding stealthing — which tends to begin with the consensual act of sex — by defining it as illegal.

September 15, 2021 in Legislation, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 13, 2021

Integrating National Violent Death Reporting System Data Into Maternal Mortality Review Committees

Jennifer M. Miller and Susan Rensing have published Integrating National Violent Death Reporting System Data into Maternal Mortality Review Committees in the Journal of Women's Health.  The abstract explains that: 

With the Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) data system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alongside Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs), are developing comprehensive and uniform data collection to eradicate preventable maternal deaths. However, MMRIA is primarily focused on pregnancy-related deaths, and not pregnancy-associated deaths. Currently, the National Violent Death Reporting System Restricted Access Data (NVDRS-RAD) on pregnancy-associated homicides and suicides are not included in MMRIA and by extension the work of most MMRCs. This study examined the NVDRS-RAD data from 2014 to 2017 and argues that the data for pregnancy-associated maternal deaths should be integrated into the work of MMRCs. * * * 

Their findings indicate that: 

pregnancy and the postpartum period show increased risk for homicide and suicide. Pregnant women were found to be five times more likely to die by homicide than their nonpregnant peers who died by violent means. The relationships between periods of pregnancy and manner of death were all found to be significantly associated although the association was weak.

September 13, 2021 in Family, Pregnancy, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

New Book: Sexual Justice, How Colleges Can Handle Sexual Misconduct Cases More Fairly, Supporting Victims and Ensuring Due Process

NYT, New Book Sexual Justice: How Can Colleges Handle Sexual Misconduct Cases More Fairly? 

Alexandra Brodsky, SEXUAL JUSTICE: Supporting Victims, Ensuring Due Process, and Resisting the Conservative Backlash

Alexandra Brodsky’s “Sexual Justice: Supporting Victims, Ensuring Due Process, and Resisting the Conservative Backlash” seems, at first, as if it is going to be a work of soul-searching about the campus anti-rape movement.

 

In 2013, Brodsky, then on her way to law school, was a founder of Know Your IX, a student group that fought to use Title IX of the 1972 Civil Rights Law, which prohibits sex discrimination in education, to get schools to do more to protect students from sexual assault. Now a civil rights lawyer, she’s been at the center of the long battle about how campus sexual misconduct allegations should be resolved. And the introduction to her book suggests she’s had some second thoughts.

 

Some Title IX advocates, she writes in the first pages, “abandoned complexity, dismissing concerns about due process out of hand, or rejected reasonable reforms because they came from ‘the other side.’ Some used low rates of false reporting to excuse mistreatment of the accused, or were cavalier about the stakes for a student facing suspension.” She described spending a year in law school reviewing lawsuits from students who claimed they were wrongly suspended or expelled for sexual assault. She struggled to balance her empathy for them with her wariness of what the philosopher Kate Manne has called “himpathy,” outsize concern for male perpetrators at the expense of victims.

 

I was eager to read more about this struggle, but most of “Sexual Justice” isn’t a book about gray areas or ambivalence. It’s something less interesting but potentially more useful: a treatise from a committed activist laying down broad guidelines for fair adjudication processes. “My focus is the steps by which people can vet an accusation of sexual harassment, rather than the matter of what constitutes sexual harassment,” she writes.

August 25, 2021 in Education, Legal History, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Challenging the Misuse of Crisis in Feminist Approaches to International Law

Karen Engle, Vasuki Nesiah & Dianne Otto, Feminist Approaches to International Law  

This chapter offers accounts of three feminist “success stories,” each of which has invoked a sense of crisis to call for carceral and militarized international legal responses. We argue that these projects have reinforced many dangerous aspects of both feminism and international law, as they have used a focus on harm to women – particularly sexual harm – to aid in the legitimization and extension of legal, military and economic institutional arrangements that exacerbate the precarity of marginalized individuals, communities, and states. Their use of crisis has participated in the crowding out of a variety of alternative feminist (and other) perspectives, particularly those that take aim at the often quotidian forms of violence based in the overlapping structures of colonialism, racism, gender normativity, and gross economic inequality. We contend that anti-imperial and sex-positive feminisms as well as queer theory offer important vehicles for challenging the dominant approaches. We gesture toward how they might even consider invoking crisis (such as the often everyday and unnoticeable crises of neocolonial, neoliberal, carceral, and militarized dimensions of global governance) to foster transformative feminist, queer, and redistributive ends.

August 4, 2021 in International, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)