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A Two-Day Symposium: Thursday 18th – Friday 19th September 2014

Durham Law School, Durham University

Registration is now open

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code, holding that they violate sex workers’ constitutional right to security of the person, and gave the Canadian Parliament one year to come up with new legislation, should it decide to do so. This landmark decision marked the first successful human rights challenge to the criminalisation of sex workers.

The conference will bring together academics, practitioners and activists from Canada and the UK, to think about the impact of the Bedford v Canada case in Canada, how it might provide lessons to the UK, and what human rights and a human rights challenge might look like for sex workers in the UK.

We welcome papers from academics, sex workers and activists and are open to alternative forms of presentation.

Key Speakers:

  • Maggie O’ Neill (Durham University)
  • John Lowman (Simon Fraser University)
  • Nick Mai (London Metropolitan University)
  • Niki Adams and Laura Watson (English Collective of Prostitutes)
  • Rosie Campbell (Genesis)
  • Georgina Perry (Open Doors)
  • Jenn Clamen (Stella)
  • Amy Lebovitch (SPOC; plaintiff in Bedford v Canada)

Also showing ‘Normal’ – a film on migrant sex work by Professor Nick Mai

Programme of the two days available here: SW and HR Programme FINAL

Abstracts of papers available here:  SW and HR Abstracts

For more information about the event, please contact the organiser Laura Graham at laura.graham@dur.ac.uk.

This two day event is kindly sponsored by the Modern Law Review and supported by Gender and Law at Durham and the Centre for Sex Gender and Sexuality.

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

Uganda’s Anti-Gay Act Signed into Law

Jesse Bachir, Durham University

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed the now infamous anti-gay bill into law this week amidst great protest from human rights groups and western countries. Since then, many countries have announced reviews of their aid policies regarding Uganda. Notably, the Netherlands will stop sending $9.6 million in aid to assist with Uganda’s courts, while Norway and Denmark will be giving a combined $17 million to NGOs and human rights organizations operating in Uganda, rather than as aid directly to the country. The US has also announced that it will be reviewing its diplomatic relations with Uganda, including a review of its aid policies, which amount to $400 million per year.

The law criminalises gay sex and same-sex marriage and provides for life imprisonment for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which is defined as any sexual relations with someone of the same sex more than once, with a child, with a disabled person, or where one individual is HIV positive.

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

Abusive Treatment of Indigenous Women in Canada

Gita Keshava, Durham University

On January 30, 2014 representatives from Human Rights Watch testified before the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women in the Canadian House of Commons. They urged the government to set up an independent national inquiry to investigate the current violence experienced by indigenous women and girls, in order to create a system that will ensure greater accountability with regards to police misconduct, and ultimately hold them responsible for their actions or lack thereof. In February 2013, Human Rights Watch published a report specifically investigating the protection of indigenous women and girls in northern British Columbia (BC). It highlighted the fact that police continue to use excessive force, and physical and sexual assault against indigenous women and girls. In order to target these issues, Canada needs to ensure that there is a police complaint mechanism, that oversight procedures are in force, and that there is a requirement for independent civilian investigations into reported incidents of police misconduct. In addition, the government needs to establish a commission to investigate the murders and disappearances of indigenous women and the link that these events have with police mistreatment, especially in relation to the Highway 16, now commonly known as northern BC’s “Highway of Tears.” These concerns, although specifically relevant to Indigenous women and girls, remain a serious issue for all women in British Columbia and in Canada more generally.

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