Archive for the ‘Domestic violence’ Category

IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

The LGBTQ+ Community and “Gay Conversion Therapy”

William Lee, University of Manchester

Malta made history on the 7th December 2016 when the Maltese Parliament unanimously approved the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Bill. Among other things, the Bill criminalises “gay conversion therapy”, giving legal recognition that for the position that “no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort”. This thereby relieves the LGBTQ+ community of potentially being subjugated to any “deceptive and harmful” act designed to change their sexual behaviour or gender identity.

The new Act in effect positions Malta as the first European country to ban “gay conversion therapy”.

The Business Insider states that Malta has been at the forefront of progressive social reforms in Europe since the Labour government was elected in 2013. For that, Malta quite comfortably deserves its ranking of being the best European country for LGBTQ+ rights as deemed by the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA- Europe).

In light of such radical progress in Malta, this post will look briefly at the origins of “gay conversion therapy”. It will also briefly outline the United Kingdom (UK) and American’s current stance in regard to this practice. (more…)


Read Full Post »


DLSWednesday 16th March 2016, 2-5pm (lunch from 1pm)
Institute of Advanced Studies, Palace Green, Durham University

Organised by Gender & Law at Durham (GLAD)


Using Law in Response to Domestic Abuse: Women’s Experiences

Professor Heather Douglas, University of Queensland, IAS Fellow 2015-2016

This paper reports on early findings from a longitudinal study (over three years) of women’s engagement with law as a response to domestic abuse. The aim of the project is to identify how, when, why and with what effect women from diverse backgrounds use legal processes to help them move towards abuse free lives and how engagement with law varies over time.  So far 62 women have been recruited and interviewed with the assistance of a variety of community organisations and private lawyers in Brisbane Australia.  Issues addressed in this paper include the interviewees’ reasons for their initial engagement with the legal system and the selection of particular legal pathways and their experience of these pathways.

Restorative Approaches and Domestic Abuse: pitfalls and possibilities

Professor Clare McGlynn and Professor Nicole Westmarland, Durham University

At a time when the police are said to be ‘overwhelmed’ by ‘staggering’ levels of domestic abuse, is there a role for restorative justice? Drawing on data we secured from police forces across the UK on their use of restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse, we analyse current practices in this area and consider any lessons to be learned. We also examine the potential risks in using restorative approaches, particularly in cases of intimate partner violence, as well as the possibilities for new ways to challenge domestic abuse and bring a sense of justice to survivors.

Examining ‘medium risk’ amongst female survivors of domestic abuse

Dr Clare Gunby and Dr Rebecca Barnes, Leicester University

Risk assessment is an integral part of police responses to domestic violence. To date, however, police response has prioritised those survivors identified as ‘high risk’ of domestic abuse. This has meant that those classed as ‘medium risk’ often slip through the intervention net, as well as the category remaining largely under-theorised. This paper discusses key findings from a process and outcome evaluation of an innovative support intervention in Nottinghamshire for women experiencing medium risk, repeat domestic abuse. In doing so, we examine what the medium risk category looks like, consider the challenges of working with this diverse group of survivors and consider what counts (and should count) as success when evaluating the intervention.


Karen Ingala Smith, @CountDeadWomen, PhD candidate Durham University

Dr Fiona Vera Gray, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Durham University


For further information, contact Clare.McGlynn@durham.ac.uk

Read Full Post »

medium-289375This is an excerpt from Professor Joanne Conaghan’s inaugural lecture at the University of Bristol on 19 February 2015.

Joanne has written extensively about issues relating to gender and law and is widely recognized as a leading scholar in that field, both nationally and internationally. You can follow Joanne on twitter: @joanneconaghan.

Read the full text of Civil liability: Addressing police failures in the context of rape, domestic and sexual abuse


Real lives, real people

Joanna Michael



This is Joanna Michael.

Joanna lived in Cardiff, a Mum to two young children, aged 7 and 10 months. In August 2009, she was murdered– stabbed multiple times – by her ex-boyfriend. On that terrible night, Joanna dialed 999 twice to call for police assistance; but for a number of reasons which the Independent Police Complaints Commission described as ‘serious individual and organisational failures’ help arrived too late. In her last 999 call, she is heard to scream just as the line goes dead. The nearest police station was only a few minutes away.

Worboys black cab

This is a London Black Cab – not any Black Cab – but the Cab used by John Worboys to sexually assault an unknown number of women during the first decade of this century. Remarkably, although well over 100 women filed police reports claiming to have been drugged and sexually abused by a London cabbie, their allegations were generally met with complacency, disbelief and a fair amount of sheer incompetence. That multiple allegations were producing a strong pattern of offence and offender profile did not even register on the police radar until picked up by a random computer check. According to Justice Green, giving judgment in the High Court last year, the police handling of the case was marred by: ‘a series of systemic failings which went to the heart of the failure of the police to apprehend Worboys and cut short his 5-6 spree of violent attacks’.

In other words, had the police acted more effectively, Worboys’ one-man campaign of terror against women might have ended much sooner.

Claw hammerThis is a claw hammer. This is what Gareth Jeffrey used to batter his ex-partner, Stephen Smith, leaving him with 3 skull fractures, brain damage, and ongoing physical and psychological harm. In the weeks leading up this horrific assault – Stephen had been besieged by Jeffrey with telephone calls, texts and internet messages containing frighteningly explicit threats such as

‘U are dead’;

‘Look out for yourself –psycho is coming’;

‘I am looking to kill you and no compromises’.

Stephen’s efforts to get the police to take seriously his concerns that his life was in danger fell on deaf ears, notwithstanding a previous history of domestic abuse. The facts again reveal a police stance of procrastination and complacency: they simply did not consider the matter a priority and took virtually no steps to ensure Stephen’s safety.


Want to carry on reading? Read the full text of Civil liability: Addressing police failures in the context of rape, domestic and sexual abuse.

Read Full Post »

IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

The Debate on whether Women should be able to Freely Breastfeed in the UK

Chelsea Seals, University of Manchester

There has been uproar this December as a woman, Louise Burns, was asked to cover herself up with a napkin whilst breastfeeding in Claridge’s, London.  A group of 25 mothers stood outside the five star hotel and breastfed in protest what they consider to be outrageous and ‘embarrassing’ behaviour by Claridge’s.  The group ‘Free to Feed’ organised the demonstration. This is group who believe that women should have the right to breastfeed their child wherever, and whenever it is necessary. Emily Slough, the founder of the Free to Feed organisation started up the movement after she was called a ‘tramp’ for breastfeeding her chid in public. She made the comments ‘We are here to show Claridge’s they are not above the law. But they have said nothing to us, they are pretending we’re not here’. Slough continued, ‘Every time something like this happens, many women are put off for life from breastfeeding. We’re here to challenge that stigma and show women it’s normal and natural’. Claridge’s responded to this by saying that they support breastfeeding, however they would prefer it was done discretely.

The Claridge’s debacle has raised the debate once again as to whether it is appropriate for women to breastfeed in public. Nigel Farage of UKIP commented that women should sit in corners to avoid offending people. However, while the display of breastfeeding is usually discreet in most cases anyway, when celebrities such as Rhianna and Miley Cyrus expose their breasts in public for ‘fashion’ or publicity reasons there is no outcry or offended people. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Kate FitzGibbonKate Fitz-Gibbon

In October 2010 the British government abolished the controversial partial defence of provocation and simultaneously introduced a new partial defence of loss of control. Provocation had long caused controversy in the English courts because of its perceived inability to accommodate the experiences of women who killed a long-term abusive male partner while all too readily accommodating the unmeritorious contexts within which jealous and controlling men killed female partners who were leaving them or had allegedly committed infidelity.

The new partial defence of loss of control was introduced as part of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and retains many of the features of the former provocation defence, including the requirement for there to have been a loss of control. However, notably in an attempt to distance the English law of homicide from the injustices associated with provocation, the new loss of control defence includes a provision to exclude the defence from reducing murder to manslaughter in cases where a person’s loss of control resulted from a situation of sexual infidelity. At the time of implementation, the Ministry of Justice commented that:

‘The Government does not accept that sexual infidelity should ever provide the basis for a partial defence to murder’.

The new partial defence has now been in operation in England and Wales for nearly four years, begging the question: to what extent has the new offence allowed the English law of homicide to distance itself from the problems previously associated with the heavily discredited provocation defence?


Read Full Post »

staystrongNikki Godden, Newcastle Law School

(Image from Stop Revenge Porn Scotland Campaign)

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has announced that the Government is ‘very open to having a serious discussion’ about the problem of revenge porn, in response to the call from Maria Miller, former Culture Secretary, for a change in the law to address the ‘appalling’ practice ( Justice Questions, House of Commons, 1 July 2014 : Column 745). This ‘appalling’ practice, whereby men (most commonly) distribute intimate and sexual images or videos of women (usually partners or ex-partners) on the internet without consent, is becoming more prevalent in the UK. And the effects of revenge porn upon its victims can be significant. Media reports highlight that victims have experienced personal and professional degradation and humiliation which have, in some cases, led to suicide.

The gender dimensions to revenge porn cannot be ignored. First, revenge porn is typically not an isolated abusive incident in a relationship but rather is one – albeit relatively new – method of control and violation in a wider context of domestic violence (see Scottish Women’s Aid’s Briefing Stop Revenge Porn on this point). Secondly, the fact that it is by far more common for men to distribute images/videos of women and girls contributes to and entrenches the sexual objectification of women, the sexualisation of young people, and gender inequality more generally. As such, it is important that the Government address this growing problem. It seems that the way it will do so is to consider creating a new criminal offence, or amending existing sexual offences to capture all instances where pornography is distributed without the subject’s consent. However, while further criminalisation may be helpful, the focus should be on preventing revenge porn by better regulating internet behaviour, which is a dimension of resolving this developing problem that has typically been absent from public discussions and proposed responses. (more…)

Read Full Post »

IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

The First Discussions About Intersex Issues at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Gita Keshava, Durham University

This week has marked a development in the protection of intersex people at the level of the United Nations. On Monday, March 10 2014, Holly Greenberry, an intersex activist with IntersexUK, addressed the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of intersex organisations around the world about current human rights issues. She spoke of the human rights violations faced by intersex children in all countries in the world and the consequences experienced during adulthood. She addressed the issues of discrimination at all levels of society, the influence of the media in the stigmatization of intersex people, and the violence that is perpetrated against them. On Tuesday, March 11 2014, activists from the United Kingdom, Argentina, Switzerland, and Australia discussed genital mutilation, psychological trauma, discrimination, and torture faced by intersex people and called for concrete action to be taken by the international community. It marks the first – and hopefully not the last – time that the United Nations has held an event targeting the specific human rights violations currently faced by intersex people. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »