Thursday, January 31, 2019

Gender Equality & Human Rights in the Time of #MeToo

By JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Director, Human Rights in the US Project & Lecturer-In-Law, Columbia Law School.

Image1While 2018 has been dubbed the year of the woman, it is abundantly clear that misogyny is alive and well.  And, in order to address the underlying structures and beliefs that allow gender inequality to persist requires transformation.  It requires a cultural shift.   Treating acts of discrimination, harassment, and assault on an individual basis is simply insufficient.   It is not enough that four women have announced they are running for President.  It is not enough that more than 100 women were elected to Congress.

As advocates fighting for passage of the ERA and US adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have long recognized, the laws and institutions we have in place are insufficient to guarantee women’s equality.   

Tarana Burke founded #MeToo to challenge the underlying beliefs that allow assault and harassment to occur.  It is about reshaping relationships of power and privilege. As she has so clearly stated, “we need to dramatically shift a culture that propagates the idea that vulnerability is synonymous with permission and that bodily autonomy is not a basic human right.”  

It is not surprising that Tarana Burke has defined eradicating gender-based violence as a human rights issue.  Human rights are about systems change.  They are about centering the experience of those most vulnerable to violations.  And, they are about a new, affirmative approach to addressing discrimination and inequality.   That includes changing how each of us views our individual and collective responsibilities to address gender discrimination and inequality.  It requires reshaping gender and racial stereotypes that have led to current dynamics of power and privilege. We must reform institutions to eradicate implicit and explicit bias.  We must also change the laws in place to prevent and respond to acts of discrimination, assault, and harassment in order to foster more collective accountability.   

In the United States, the predominant paradigm for dealing with sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and discrimination has historically been largely individual. Yet, focusing on individual perpetrators and isolated incidents falls short of the transformative change that is required.   As Dahlia Lithwack wrote in September, it is a myth “that patriarchal systems, based in entrenched power, and supported by others in power, could be brought down by individual, brave women.”   Systemic change is essential, because the system in which we operate has failed women.

#MeToo has also made clear that the challenges we face are societal and institutional.

And, in response to the movement, global human rights actors have spoken out.   UN experts have recognized the need for more concerted action to address the oppression that exclude women from positions of power in order to eradicate all forms of gender discrimination, and there is increasing guidance on core elements of a rights-based approach to gender-based violence and harassment though law and policy grounded in human rights principles, building off existing standards found in principles of CEDAW.  There are also calls for more specific international protections for women in the workplace.  And examples of how U.S. workplaces can be transformed through human rights-based worker driven solutions, such as the Fair Food Program.

As already reported on this blog, across the U.S. local advocates, law school clinicsand local governments are also looking to human rights to foster broader based approaches to advancing gender equity, focusing on eradicating negative stereotypes, and identifying and addressing barriers to equality for women and girls by adopting CEDAW principles.

CEDAW offers a framework to foster gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women broadly to encompass laws and policies that negatively affect women’s human rights, and identifies pathways to more equitable opportunities and outcomes in a wide range of areas.  According to CEDAW, governments must:

 

  • Affirmatively identify the factors that perpetuate inequality, and take steps to mitigate them.  
  • Take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, including to ensure women’s right to vote and to hold public office. 
  • Foster equal access and non-discrimination in relation to education, employment, and health.  
  • Adopt policies to advance women’s economic stability, including equal pay and paid maternity leave.  
  • Address violence against women through efforts to identify its root causes, focus on prevention, and prioritize redress for survivors.

 

In order to ensure equal enjoyment of rights for all women, CEDAW calls for policies that reflect the ways that individual’s multiple identities, including her race, nationality, disability, age, as well as economic and social status, impact her enjoyment of rights, and calls for targeted and culturally-appropriate solutions.   

Recognizing the power of these principles, the umbrella organization of state and local civil and human rights agencies – many of whom are charged with resolving complaints of individual discrimination –  passed a resolution in support of CEDAW in 2017 – calling on its members to support municipal, county, and state-wide policy efforts to affirm the rights of women, eliminate all forms of discrimination, advance gender equity, and promote and affirm the principles of CEDAW.  This is an important foundation for a more affirmative, proactive approach to advancing women’s rights and achieving the transformative change that is needed.   

To cultivate action, and support state and local government human rights implementation, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute recently published a Gender Equity Toolkit.  Developed in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and UNA-USA, the toolkit highlights specific ways that state and local agencies and officials can utilize CEDAW to promote and protect women’s rights, including: fostering human rights education and awareness; assessing the status of women through a gender analysis; and incorporating CEDAW principles into local law and policy. 

The Toolkit offers a menu of activities that can strengthen protection for women’s rights, and serve as a springboard for local, city, and state efforts to break down the barriers that continue to impede full equality for women, and redefine relationships of power and privilege.   

 

 

   
   

January 31, 2019 in Equality, Feminism, Gender Oppression, Gender Violence, JoAnn Kamuf Ward | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Menstrual Products Must Be Available in School Restrooms. Period.

by Shruti Sathish, guest contributor, courtesy of the Teen Voices series of Women's enews, https://womensenews.org

My expectations for school restrooms are relatively low. I attend a large public high school where clogged sinks and overflowing trash bins are the norm. Still, even worse than the condition of the restrooms is the near-lack of menstrual hygiene products, which has impacted me as a young woman. When I see that toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels are available and are provided to students free of cost, I wonder why menstrual products aren’t too.

Currently, in the United States, only three states—California, Illinois, and New York— require schools serving students in grades six through twelve to provide menstrual products in women’s restrooms for free. Millions of girls around the country are therefore forced to bring these products from home and face discomfort and lost educational time when they must leave class with their entire backpack to go to the restroom, or have to ask the school nurse or a friend for one when they don’t have any. Menstrual products are largely viewed as luxuries rather than the necessities they truly are, and this is an issue that must be acted upon.

Many individuals are unaware of the fact that period poverty in the United States is real. Often viewed as an issue faced primarily by individuals in developing countries, many are shocked to learn that nearly one in five American girls have either left school early or missed school entirely due to a lack of access to menstrual products. The “tampon tax,” a tax on menstrual products that currently exists in 36 states, further aggravates the issue, and in a country where nearly 14 percent of girls and women live below the poverty line compared to just 11 percent of boys and men, it is crucial for menstrual equity to exist.

Recognizing that challenges regarding access to menstrual products persist, students in some schools have attempted to take action to ensure that pads and tampons are available in all women’s restrooms. After receiving funds from my school last year to redecorate and “renovate” one of the women’s restrooms, members of my high school’s Women’s Club used a large portion of the money to purchase menstrual products that were stored in plastic containers in the restrooms. Although this has been helpful, it hasn’t proven to be a reliable solution to the problem. Products haven’t been restocked this school year due to lack of funding, and even last year when menstrual products were supplied by the club, they ran out in just a couple of days and it was a few more days before containers were refilled.

The reality is that when students don’t have constant, reliable access to menstrual products at school, they are forced to ask the school nurse or their friends. Most school nurses only have a limited supply of menstrual products, and while they are happy to provide them to students occasionally, they are unable to supply them to students on a regular basis. Many students also feel a sense of discomfort when asking other students for menstrual products and telling them about their period. Some students may even feel that it is best to just stay home when they are on their period because they don’t have proper access to menstrual products at school,  which is unfortunate. Having easy and reliable access to these products in school restrooms is essential.

Additionally, at some schools in my city, including mine, sanitary pad and tampon dispensers are currently only available in restrooms that are at centralized locations in the school, such as the commons. Therefore, some students find it difficult to access these restrooms during class time. “Students can’t leave their academic wing with a bathroom pass and go to the commons…what are you going to tell the male security guard in the academic wing you’re in? I have to go to the commons to get a tampon?” says Ava Kaminski, 16, a student at neighboring public  high school. Having menstrual products and dispensers available in restrooms is critical for students to stay in school and feel safe and comfortable. Furthermore, expanding access to menstrual products to gender neutral restrooms would benefit an even larger number of students.

Many individuals also believe that while teen leaders are important, they should not be the only ones ensuring that their fellow classmates are able to access these products in schools; schools and district administrators must recognize the critical nature of the issue and work to allocate funds for menstrual products and dispensers. “School would go a lot smoother if these products were available to students. Students should be able to focus on their classes and education and not have to worry about if they remembered to bring pads to school,” says Noelle Livingston, 17. A group of student leaders at my school are currently working with school administrators to receive funding for menstrual products and dispensers for all the women’s restrooms, something many are looking forward to.

In a society where women are taught to hide their period, working to end menstrual stigma is very important to achieve menstrual equity. Many students agree that menstrual health is often glazed over and inadequately addressed in their middle school and high school health education classes. Creating a welcoming, trusting, and open environment is the first step to effectively educating both girls and boys on this topic and the stigma that currently surrounds it. When students can learn from one another through thoughtful and meaningful conversation, it is possible to form a collaborative community that is capable of creating change.

It’s time for everyone to realize that menstrual products are necessities, not luxuries, and that periods should be embraced, not feared.

Shruti Sathish is currently a senior in high school and lives in Madison, WI. 

January 30, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Trump Administration Waged Campaign Against UN Human Rights Chief Appointee

Foreign Policy reports that the U.S. waged a behind-the-scenes campaign against the appointment of Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Bachelet, a fierce champion of women's rights, is the founding executive director of UN Women, and was the 17th woman to be elected a head of state worldwide.  By training, High Commissioner Bachelet is a medical doctor with particular expertise in maternal and child health.  According to the Foreign Policy reporting, the Trump Administration singled out Bachelet's support for women's reproductive rights as a particular disqualifier for the human rights position.  The Trump Administration's objections proved to be futile, however, and Bachelet currently holds the High Commissioner position, with much anticipation that she will continue to serve as a strong advocate for women's rights. 

January 29, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Endangering LGBT Individuals- In The US and Abroad

Those who identify as other than straight are increasingly endangered, both within and without the US.  Readers are likely aware that transgender individuals who wish to serve in the military will not receive court relief from the President's proposed ban.  In a recent 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court opened the way for the administration to ban transgender men and women from enlisting.  Unknown is the impact that the ban will have on currently serving transgender soldiers.  While cases are winding their ways through the lower courts, the high court refused to accelerate hearing on the underlying issues.  But in refusing to continue a stay of the policy  the high court signaled that the court will ultimately approve the ban. 

Last week, the North Dakota Senate once again refused to consider a bill that would protect LGBT individuals from discrimination.  Advocates have been promoting the non-discrimination bill for ten years. 

Internationally, Chechnya continues its purge of LGBT people.  According to the Russian LGBT Network, recently 40 LGBT were detained and two killed.  While Norway called for  a human rights investigation, Russia refused to participate.  In South Korea 1000 anti-gay demonstrators attacked 300 members of the gay pride parade. This is just the latest deliberate policy designed to deny human rights to LGBT residents. 

All to say that anti-LGBT sentiments are accelerating internationally.  Despite marriage equality, it is homophobes who have government support in the US. and elsewhere. 

 

January 28, 2019 in LGBT, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sexual Harassment At the United Nations

As reported by RT earlier this month, one in three employees of the United Nations reported being sexually harassed at work over the past two years.  The rate for over-career harassment is even higher.  In an anonymous on-line survey employees reported harassment in many forms from inappropriate "jokes" to attempts to engage the employee in sexual conversation.  Others reported unwanted touching and offensive gestures.  

Only one third of the reporters said that they took action.  Men constituted two-thirds of the harassers.  Only 17% of the workforce responded to the survey, which according to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted reflects an atmosphere of distrust.  The survey results were enough for Secretary-General Guterres to send a letter to staff endorsing the survey as pointing out what needs to change in the UN workplace. He acknowledged that the UN must lead the change. 

Last year at least two UN employees resigned following complaints of a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment.  

January 27, 2019 in Margaret Drew, Women's Rights, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Texas Bar Association Sponsors Human Rights Writing Contest

The International Law Section of the Texas State Bar is sponsoring a writing contest on human rights.   The contest is open to law students attending school in Texas, or Texan law students attending school elsewhere, including LLM students.  Deadline is March 1, 2019.  First prize, $1500 and a trip to the Bar Association's annual institute.  According to the contest sponsors, "[t]he essay may address any aspect of international human rights law that the contestant chooses."  

What a great way to get students thinking and writing about human rights law.  Would other bar associations consider similar contests?

January 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Time for Some Accountability? How About a Shave?

by Justine Dunlap

Image1For over a week last January, 156 women provided victim statements during a sentencing hearing for sexual assailant Larry Nassar. On this January 16th, John Engler resigned under pressure as the interim President of Michigan State University. Engler’s offense was a recent interview in which he suggested that some of the survivors were enjoying the spotlight. These comments were not the first to stoke controversy, but they were what finally led university trustees to demand his resignation. Engler, an MSU alumnus and former governor, was appointed last February after President Lou Anna Simon was forced out because of her failures in the Nassar case. (She has since been charged criminally with lying to investigators; her preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin January 31). Nassar will spend the rest of his life in jail. However, it took nearly two decades of allegations to get there and, as the Engler resignation suggests, even now the survivors are scapegoated or, to use the phrase coined by Professor Jennifer Freyd, subject to institutional DARVO, an acronym for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.

This past week also saw movement in another case involving longstanding allegations of sexual assault. RCA dropped its recording relationship with musician R. Kelly. Kelly is the subject of a recent documentary about these assaults and, one by one, artists with whom he had collaborated are removing those recordings from streaming sites. As with the Nassar victims, it is alleged that Kelly’s victims were often underage. And as with Nassar, prior investigations—in Kelly’s case, a prior prosecution—did not yield results.

In light of these two recent events involving assaults on women and how long it takes reports of those assaults to matter, the recent Gillette razor commercial and the reaction to it deserve special note. For those not paying attention, Gillette released an ad urging men not to behave like bullies or jerks especially, but not exclusively, regarding treatment of women. Boy (so to speak), did that ad hit a nerve and then some. It is as if suggesting that if men and boys choose not to fight or not to leer or not to out-testosterone the Y chromosome human standing nearby, they are emasculated. Really? Have we come to that? Has the “locker room talk” and “boys will boys” defenses led to enshrining boorish behavior? Perhaps it demonstrates naivete to be surprised but still. I hereby tip my hat to Gillette and pledge to buy their razors.

So, it has been an interesting week or two at the start of the new year. Progress has been made. But, as usual, that progress is not linear.

January 24, 2019 in Gender Violence, Justine Dunlap, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Celebrating Human Rights Hero Fred Korematsu on his 100th Birthday, January 30

January 30 is Fred Korematsu Day, with events being held around the country. 

In New York, the 2nd annual New York City Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at the New York County Lawyers Association, Andrew Hamilton Hall, from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The event is co-sponsored by the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and the Asian Practice Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association. AABANY members will perform a reenactment of the legal proceedings in Korematsu v. United States.

About the Trial Reenactment:

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, uprooting some 120,000 Japanese-Americans – two-thirds of them American citizens – from their homes on the West Coast and forcing them into concentration camps.  Fred Korematsu refused to go. He was arrested, and convicted of violating the Executive Order and related military proclamations. He appealed his conviction first to the Ninth Circuit and then to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, upholding the Executive Order. In 1983, nearly forty years later, the federal court in San Francisco vacated Korematsu’s conviction after evidence was uncovered showing that the government had suppressed evidence that undermined its assertions before the Supreme Court.

This presentation by members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, led by the Honorable Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner, Crowell & Moring, will tell the story of Fred Korematsu and his fight for justice through narration, reenactment of court proceedings, and historic documents and photographs.

Registration for the event is required and is available here until January 29.

January 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Enforcement through a Human Rights Lens

Take part in this critical conversation at American University on February 6, 2019, 12 noon - 1 pm.:  "Join Professors Angela Davis and Anita Sinha, and the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law's Student Advisory Board, for a discussion on how domestic courts determine a police officer's use of force, how these cases are investigated, when and why the outcomes tend to favor police officers, and what international human rights standards can say about police excessive use of force in the U.S."

More information on time and place is available here.  

January 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sexual Harassment In The Legal Profession

Image2In the wake of the third Women's March, Women Lawyers On Guard has announced that it will conduct a survey on sexual harassment in the profession.  The survey will include women lawyers in a wide range of legal fields, including academia.

WLG made the following announcement:

WLG, together with our research partner, Nextions, is about launch a nationwide experiential survey of sexual harassment and misconduct in the legal profession.  The survey will cover all employment settings: law firms, government, in house, law schools, associations, non-profits, etc. It aims to capture men's and women's experiences, lawyers and staff.  It will explore a spectrum of behaviors (not just the legal definition of sexual harassment) that negatively impact the careers and lives of the survivors.  The launch is scheduled for February 6th.

Women Lawyers On Guard is a national non-partisan organization harnessing the power of  the law and lawyers in coordination with other non-profit organizations to preserve, protect and defend the democratic values of equality, justice and opportunity for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 22, 2019 in law, Margaret Drew, Women's Rights, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Water Affordability Crisis Continues in Baltimore

On January 9, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved a 30% hike in water rates to be implemented over a three year period.  Food &  Water Watch decried the move, noting that "[a] typical Baltimore household will see their water and sewer bill, excluding stormwater fees, increase from $982 for this fiscal year to $1,284 by fiscal year 2022."  Stormwater fees are generally substantial, sometimes as much as the water fees, so would add considerable cost to this package.

This rate hike adds additional urgency to the water affordability proposal recently submitted to the City Council by the Council President.  The pending law would create a new water affordability plan that would establish income-based billing and cap water fees at 3% of household income, the generally-accepted level internationally.   City Council President Young recently explained and defended the proposed Water Accountability and Equity Act in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun.

As water rates continue to rise across the country, water districts must take these issues seriously and develop creative solutions to ensure that acceptable levels of water for drinking and sanitation are available to all.  With the pending Water Accountability and Equity Act, the Baltimore City Council has the opportunity to protect this fundamental human right of Baltimore residents and to serve as a model for other cities that are confronting their own water affordability crises. 

 

January 21, 2019 in Martha F. Davis, Water | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Separated Without Hope: HHS Reports What Happened To Refugee Children

We now know that the Trump administration ordered that children be separated from their parents at the southwest border long before the official policy was announced.  This happened even as Homeland Security secretary  Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted that the US was not separating children from their families.  The HHS report issued this past week documents the chaos in which children were removed.  Forms did not have a place to name the family members from whom the children were separated.  No tracking information was taken that could reunite the families.  Children were not properly tracked let alone their family connections.

Separated children were placed under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division within HSS.  According to the report,  "Federal law requires the safe and timely placement of UAC  (unaccompanied children) in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child."  The best interest of the child apparently does not include reunification with family members.  

The Washington Post reported "In June, HHS’s refu­gee office opened a giant tent city in Tornillo, Tex., to house the ballooning number of migrant children, and more than 6,000 passed through it. After repeated complaints, including concerns of inadequate background checks for the staff, HHS officials said last week that they had moved out all the children and were closing it down."  The majority of children crossing the border are unaccompanied and they have been held in inappropriate settings, including those that fail to conduct staff background checks.   The additional cruelties imposed on separated children reflect the worst of who we are.  

January 20, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Human Rights Watch 2019 Report: US Moves Backwards

Human Rights Watch has released its annual world report on human rights.  The U.S. entry is sobering.  According to the report, "The United States continued to move backward on human rights at home and abroad in the second year of President Donald Trump’s administration. With Trump’s Republican party controlling the legislative branch in 2018, his administration and Congress were able to pass laws, implement regulations, and carry out policies that violate or undermine human rights."

The report chronicles domestic setbacks, such as continued whittling away of the Affordable Care Act, as well as backsliding in the areas of human rights diplomacy, with increased support for authoritarian regimes.

To read the U.S. entry, with links to the entire report, click here.

 

January 17, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Are Civil Rights Essential?

The U.S. government shutdown drags on, but not all workers are on equal footing.  Some workers have continued to work and get their paychecks.  And every day, we learn that more furloughed government workers are being called back to do “essential” work -- processing tax refunds, approving applications for offshore drilling, inspecting the food supply --generally without pay but with the promise of back pay once the shutdown ends.

The essential work of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, however, continues to go undone.  Civil Rights Commission staff, aside from the staff director,  have been furloughed for the duration of the shutdown.  Important civil rights investigations stagnate.  The state-level civil rights advisory committees, usually staffed by Washington, D.C.-based workers, have cancelled hearings.  The civil rights watchdog function of the Commission is vacant.

No doubt the Administration likes it like this – free to make discriminatory policy decisions without any immediate pushback from within government.  And perhaps not coincidentally, conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation have long tried to abolish the Commission.  Now, the shutdown is doing the job.

The shuttering of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission is, in many ways, a potent symbol of this Administration’s policy goals.  That doesn’t make it right or acceptable.  While we call for an end to this senseless shutdown, we should also be asking, why aren’t civil rights essential?   

January 16, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Government Shutdown: A Human Rights Disaster

As always, the most vulnerable among us bear the brunt of unreasonable and insensitive government policy.  The government shutdown is no different. No surprise that when the President decided to shutdown government agencies as political leverage, he gave no thought to the impact on America's working class and those even more vulnerable economically.  

The Indian Health Service has stopped receiving federal funds. Indigenous women have the highest rate of uninsured in this country and over 1 million Indian women and Alaska native women rely upon IHS for care.   While not having an immediate fiscal impact, the Violence Against Women Act was left unauthorized and unfunded due to the shutdown.  Those who provide services to those who have experienced abuse may have sufficient funds from prior grants to operate in the near future, funding in the long term is not likely if the government continues to be closed.  SNAP (special nutritional assistance program) and WIC (the supplemental nutritional program for women, infants and children) programs are currently providing benefits through state and local sources, but those funding sources cannot be relied upon in the long term.

Those who are federally incarcerated have seen immediate impacts on their well-being.  In total, half of the 36,000 Bureau of Prison employees have been furloughed. The Marshall Project reports that in at least one prison family visits have been canceled.  Those providing therapeutic services have been furloughed as "non-essential".  Those awaiting compassionate release must wait longer because there is no one to review their applications.   Prisoner commissaries are running low and not being re-stocked. And parts of the recently passed First Step Act will likely be postponed because those charged with implementing it are furloughed.  Some prisoners may begin missing release dates. 

Families of employees will suffer from the impact of sudden loss of income.  Eviction and creditor lawsuits are likely to follow rapidly.

No doubt this shutdown will have long-term adverse economic impacts not only on unpaid workers, but systemically as well as those who turn to other employment take their skills and expertise with them.

 

 

 

January 15, 2019 in Margaret Drew, Poor, Prisons | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Call For Papers: Third European Conference on Domestic Violence

The Third European Conference on Domestic Violence will be held in Oslo September 1-4, 2019.  The deadline for abstracts is February 1.   

The conference is organized by the Norwegian Social Research at Oslo Metropolitan University and the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.  The conference encourages exploration of current and critical issues in domestic violence. " 

"Currently, we experience diverging and contradictory policy developments. New legislation and innovative approaches to combat domestic violence have been introduced across Europe. However, in some parts of Europe, violence against women and children is decriminalized or considered justified under certain conditions. Domestic violence largely continues to be neglected as a major political issue and expenditure cuts threaten effective responses. Migration and globalization pose challenges for governments and civil society engaged in the prevention and elimination of violence. New technologies produce new vulnerabilities as well as possibilities for tracking and identifying perpetrators.  The aim of this conference is to bring together researchers, academics, students, professionals, practitioners, and policy-makers from Europe and further afield to share and build new perspectives on these and related issues. "

Specifically, the conference will address 1. Understanding Domestic Violence 2. Preventions and Interventions and 3. Policy.

More information may be found here.

 

January 14, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Reducing Barriers to Reintegration: Addressing Human Rights For the Formerly Incarcerated

Reducing Barriers to Reintegration:  fair chance and expungement reforms in 2018 reviews recent legislative efforts to ease the lives of those US residents whose criminal records interfere with their participating in basic human rights.  The report was issued by the Collateral Consequences Resource Center.  The Center "The Collateral Consequences Resource Center is a non-profit organization established in 2014 to promote public discussion of the collateral consequences of conviction, the legal restrictions and social stigma that burden people with a criminal record long after their court-imposed sentence has been served." 

Significant progress was made this year as activists succeeded in obtaining the support of legislators across the nation.  Restoration of voting rights, as well as criminal record sealing reform where among the most significant changes of 2018.  Florida was the most reported and significant state to restore voting rights after all incarceration, probation, parole periods have expired and all related fines have been paid.  The law excludes those convicted of murder and sex offenses.  The new law, which went into effect on January 8th, impacts approximately 1.6 million voters.  Those votes are significant in a swing state.  Disenfranchisement was promoted in the Jim Crow era and again during the 1960s.  As back voters exercised their voting rights, legislators looked for new ways to block their voting.  Combined with aggressive drug enforcement policies directed primarily against African Americans disenfranchisement proved to be an effective tool.  

The Reducing Barriers report's executive summary includes the following:

In 2018, 30 states and the District of Columbia produced 56 separate laws aimed at reducing barriers faced by people with criminal records in the workplace, at the ballot box, and elsewhere. Many of these new laws enacted more than one type of reform. This prolific legislative “fair chance” track record, the high point of a six-year trend, reflects the lively on-going national conversation about how best to promote rehabilitation and reintegration of people with a criminal record.

As in past years, approaches to restoring rights varied widely from state to state, both with respect to the type of relief, as well as the specifics of who is eligible, how relief is delivered, and the effect of relief. Despite a growing consensus about the need for policy change to alleviate collateral consequences, little empirical research has been done to establish best practices, or what works best to promote reintegration.

The most promising legislative development recognizes the key role occupational licensing plays in the process of reintegration, and it was this area that showed the greatest uniformity of approach. Of the 14 states that enacted laws regulating licensing in 2018, nine (added to 4 in 2017) adopted a similar comprehensive framework to improve access to occupational licenses for people with a criminal record, limiting the kinds of records that may be considered, establishing clear criteria for administrative decisions, and making agency procedures more transparent and accountable.

The most consequential single new law was a Florida ballot initiative to restore the franchise to 1.5 million people with a felony conviction, which captured headlines across the country when it passed with nearly 65% of voters in favor. Voting rights were also restored for parolees, by statute in Louisiana and by executive order in New York.

The largest number of new laws—27 statutes in 19 states—expanded access to sealing or expungement, by extending eligibility to additional categories of offenses and persons, by reducing waiting periods, or by simplifying procedures. A significant number of states addressed record-clearing for non-conviction records (including diversions), for marijuana or other decriminalized offenses, for juveniles, and for human trafficking victims.

The reporters state:  "The legal landscape at the end of 2018 suggests that states are experimenting with a more nuanced blending of philosophical approaches to dealing with the collateral consequences of arrest and conviction.  These approaches include forgiving people’s past crimes (through pardon or judicial dispensation), forgetting them (through record-sealing or expungement), or forgoing creating a record in the first place (through diversionary dispositions).  While sealing and expungement remain the most popular forms of remedy, there seems to be both popular and institutional resistance to limiting what the public may see respecting the record of serious offenses, and a growing preference for more transparent restoration mechanisms that limit what the public may do with such a record, along with standards to guide administrative decision-making."

 

 

 

January 13, 2019 in Incarcerated, Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

On the Origin of Human Rights

Professor Dan Edelstein of Stanford University has written a fascinating new book tracing the intellectual history of human rights, titled On the Spirit of Rights.

In an interview with the Stanford Press, Edelstein described the deceptively unified-looking human rights discourse that originated centuries ago and is still relevant today.  Said Edelstein:

"I identify two types of traditions – the Anglo-American common law tradition and the continental natural law tradition. The first places great importance on criminal procedural rights within society, including the right to a trial by jury, the right against unlawful searches and seizures. These specifics are tied to the history of English common law and are not intrinsically part of natural law. For example, the right to trial by jury is ultimately about a certain right to liberty, but it’s a specific take on how we should retain that right.

The second tradition revolves around a belief that there is a sort of natural order of things. If a state and its economy are run according to natural law, then by extension, everyone living in that society would maintain their natural rights. Today, we would call that neoliberalism. This way of thinking can be traced back to the 4th-century Christian theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo, who was influential among 20th-century liberal economic thinkers.

By the late 18th century, both of these traditions have come to something kind of similar. They’re both issuing declarations of rights. The United States Bill of Rights and France’s Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen were both created in 1789. The American and French revolutionaries see what they’re doing as fairly similar.

But I argue that although it looks like they are talking about the same things, they have a very different understanding of these rights. And I suspect these differences have been carried to the present as well."

The book concludes with an analysis of the "archaeology" of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, excavating the question of whether the Universal Declaration finally unified these two intellectual strands or simply papered over tensions that persist today.

January 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

On the Origin of Human Rights

Professor Dan Edelstein of Stanford University has written a fascinating new book tracing the intellectual history of human rights, titled On the Spirit of Rights.

In an interview with the Stanford Press, Edelstein described the deceptively unified-looking human rights discourse that originated centuries ago and is still relevant today.  Said Edelstein:

"I identify two types of traditions – the Anglo-American common law tradition and the continental natural law tradition. The first places great importance on criminal procedural rights within society, including the right to a trial by jury, the right against unlawful searches and seizures. These specifics are tied to the history of English common law and are not intrinsically part of natural law. For example, the right to trial by jury is ultimately about a certain right to liberty, but it’s a specific take on how we should retain that right.

The second tradition revolves around a belief that there is a sort of natural order of things. If a state and its economy are run according to natural law, then by extension, everyone living in that society would maintain their natural rights. Today, we would call that neoliberalism. This way of thinking can be traced back to the 4th-century Christian theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo, who was influential among 20th-century liberal economic thinkers.

By the late 18th century, both of these traditions have come to something kind of similar. They’re both issuing declarations of rights. The United States Bill of Rights and France’s Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen were both created in 1789. The American and French revolutionaries see what they’re doing as fairly similar.

But I argue that although it looks like they are talking about the same things, they have a very different understanding of these rights. And I suspect these differences have been carried to the present as well."

The book concludes with an analysis of the "archaeology" of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, excavating the question of whether the Universal Declaration finally unified these two intellectual strands or simply papered over tensions that persist today.

January 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Protection of Migrants under International Human Rights Law: Essay Award

The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law requests the submission of papers for the Human Rights Essay Award.

The topic for 2019 is: The Protection of Migrants under International Human Rights Law.

Deadline for submission is February 1, 2019.

Candidates for the Award must hold a law degree and have a demonstrated experience or interest in international human rights law.

Click to learn more about the rules for the award.

January 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)