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Archive for the ‘Rape, sexual assault & harassment’ 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…)

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IB image

Twitter Clamps down on Abuse and Hate Crime

Ama Williams, Newcastle University

Online abuse on social media platforms is endemic. The majority of people who frequent social media will have either seen or been the victim of some form of abuse. Last week Twitter introduced provisions to try and tackle online abuse and instances of hate crime – that is, abuse targeted toward someone because of their membership of a particular social group. It has now added ‘Advanced Muting Options’ to the previous option to mute accounts. This means that a user can block certain words or phrases from appearing in their personal notifications, in the hope that this will shield the user from abuse being targeted specifically at them. However there is some concern that these measures do not actually stop hate speech being posted and due to the anonymity Twitter affords to its users, abuse may continue to be prolific.

Recent reports have shown that abuse online is on the increase. Pink News reported that there has been an online spike of homophobia since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race. In one instance a homophobic word increased from being tweeted 8,000 times to 32,000 times in the day after his win. In England, abuse of women in positions of power is inherent on many platforms but social media seems to breed particularly depraved forms of hatred. (more…)

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10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_nAlex Sharpe is Professor of Law at Keele University.

Over the last couple of years, I have written a series of articles addressing the issue of so-called ‘gender fraud,’ and opposing criminal prosecution on this basis. As recently as December of last year, I sought to take this prosecutorial practice to task in the context of the conviction of trans man, Kyran Lee, and before that Gayle Newland, whose eight year sentence shocked the nation.

I concluded the Kyran Lee piece with an ethical call, a plea for cisgender people to protest more vociferously regarding state intrusion into the lives of trans and gender queer people on the basis of a deception claim. I entertained the hope that the next witch hunt waiting to happen might be averted. Sadly, that hope has proved forlorn. Instead, it would seem that we are, much like Bill Murray, caught in a perpetual Groundhog Day – a cis and heteronormative ground zero. (more…)

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erikar-SmAr8J0Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley

Over the last few years, we have become very familiar with the term ‘revenge porn’ to describe the growing phenomenon of vengeful ex-partners distributing private, sexual images without the consent of their former partners. In recognition of the humiliation, distress and real pain this practice causes, countries across the world, including England & Wales, have introduced new criminal laws to try to deter and punish such behaviour. And Scotland is currently debating whether to reform its law.

However, while the language of ‘revenge pornography’ has certainly worked to secure the attention of the media and policy-makers, it’s time for new terminology: image-based sexual abuse.

Image-based sexual abuse better captures the nature and harms of the non-consensual creation and distribution of private sexual images. Unlike ‘revenge porn’, it captures both the broad range of practices being challenged and to convey the nature and extent of the harms suffered by victims.

What’s in a name? (more…)

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10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_nAlex Sharpe is a professor at Keele University School of Law.

Yesterday, the government’s Women and Equalities Commitee released its long-awaited report on transgender equality[1] The report is generally very positive in identifying a range of serious problems faced by transgender people and in making some important recommendations (especially in relation to healthcare provision, prison reform, depathologisation, and legal recognition of trans youth (16/17 year olds) and non-binary people). However, the committee side-stepped the important issue of prosecutions for ‘gender fraud,’ despite receiving written submissions on this subject. Accordingly, an important opportunity to address the travesty of such prosecutions has been missed.

(more…)

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-SmAr8J0Clare McGlynn is a Professor at Durham Law School and tweets at @McGlynnClare. Julia Downes is a Research Associate at Durham Law School and tweets at @juliahdownes.

Paul Appleby – an ‘upskirt pervert’ – was caught taking a photo up a woman’s skirt as she shopped in Poundland in December 2014. Despite over 9,000 similar images being found on his mobile phones, and a previous conviction for a ‘similar matter’, he could only be convicted of two counts of ‘outraging public decency’ and avoided a prison sentence. Unfortunately, Appleby is not alone in taking advantage of modern technology to collect intimate images of women taken in public and without their consent – commonly referred to as ‘upskirting’ and ‘downblousing’. Andrew Mackie took photos of women in bus stations, shopping centres and on trains; the barrister Simon Hamilton secretly filmed up the skirts of women in supermarkets; Guy Knight took photos up women’s skirts on trains during his regular commute to work.

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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.

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