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Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

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

World’s first male rape centre

Aidan Bull, Durham University

A hospital in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, is believed to be the first rape centre for male sexual violence victims.

Sweden has the highest rate of rape in Europe, but this is partly because the country records allegations in a different way to most countries, tracking each case of sexual violence separately. For example, if someone says they were raped every day by their partner for a week, officers will record seven potential crimes. In contrast, many other countries would simply label it as a single incident. This wide reaching tracking system has helped to uncover the hidden statistics of male rape.  In 2014, some 370 cases of sexual assault on men or boys were reported across Sweden, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, although experts believe that the actual figure is much higher.

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IB imageRussia bans Trans* people from driving

Catherine Ravenscroft, Durham University

Last month Russia enacted a new law effectively banning people with certain illnesses from driving. Within the listed illnesses are those viewed as “personality and behaviour disorders”, for example transsexualism and other “disorders of sexual preference”.

The move was justified by the Russian government on the basis of a need to reduce the high rates of traffic accidents occurring each year. The country currently has some of the worst figures for road accident fatalities in the world and it is believed that stricter controls on those given the opportunity to drive will make the roads safer.

Nevertheless, the Act has received international criticism due to its potentially detrimental effects on the transgender community. Jean Freedberg, of Human Rights Campaign Global, argued that the ban is “simply another example of the Russian government’s increased campaign of persecution and discrimination against its LGBT population”. Like other critics, Freedberg fails to see the logic behind connection that the Russian government has drawn between gender identity and driver ability. As Shawn Gaylord, of US-based Human Rights First, argues, “banning people from driving based on their gender identity or expression is ridiculous”. He also expresses concerns that it could deter transgender people from seeking mental health services due to a fear of losing the right to drive.

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Elena KapardisElena Kapardis is a PhD candidate at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham. She has a great interest in the judiciary, judicial diversity and judicial performance.

With progress towards improved judicial diversity moving at snail’s pace, ‘the time has now come for quotas’ according to a Report, Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change, commissioned by the shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan, published last week. This is not a surprise. Back in April 2014 when announcing the appointment of the Report’s authors, Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC and Karon Monaghan QC, the press reported that “Nothing is off the table”:

A Labour government would be prepared to introduce the “nuclear option” of quotas for female and black and ethnic minority judges to avoid a 100-year wait to achieve a judiciary reflecting the composition of the population. “

More recently, Lord Neuberger has stated that the absence of judicial diversity, especially in senior posts, is a major concern for the judiciary. Emphasizing that we must not assume that the problem will resolve itself, he continued

“I am not one of those people who optimistically thinks that if we just sit back it will all sort itself out and the judiciary will eventually include many more women and ethnic minorities”.

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Amanda YipAmanda Yip QC. Amanda is a personal injury and clinical negligence barrister at Exchange Chambers. She was called to the Bar in 1991 and took silk in 2011. This post was originally posted on Amanda’s blog Life in the Law after 84 new QCs were announced on 29th February. It is reproduced here with permission and thanks.

This week 84 barristers have been celebrating their appointment to the rank of QC.  Rather like when there is a new intake at secondary school, those of us in the second and third year have been only too keen to pass on our considerable experience to the new boys and girls! Over the last two years I have often been asked how I am finding it.  My honest answer is that it has been a bigger change than I anticipated.  Many changes were foreseen and welcomed.  Taking the lead on the big cases was something I wanted and enjoy.  I had reached the point where I wanted to have that responsibility and fortunately I still feel that way.  What took me by surprise was that becoming a silk was a change in lifestyle.

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

Prime Minister calls for more women in top positions

Jayne Howell

On a recent trip to Mumbai, David Cameron stated that Britain needs to do more to ensure that there are more women as MPs, and in top positions in British business and the judiciary.  The unlikely source for this statement comes, not from his cabinet, but from his wife Samantha Cameron, who told him that they are ‘missing out on a lot more that 50% of the talent’ by not having women in top positions. He also admitted that there were not enough women in the Cabinet.

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

House of Commons votes in favour of Same-Sex Marriage Bill 

Jesse Bachir

On the 5th February, the House of Commons voted in favour of passing the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill, with David Cameron’s support.  The Bill passed in the Commons with 400 votes for to 175 against. However, there are still some inequalities that will need to be dealt with; inequalities that are being carried over from same-sex civil partnerships.

When civil partnerships came into effect, there was no definition of sex between members of the same sex. Now, when the same-sex marriage bill is about to be passed, this problem has still not been addressed by the government. Currently, legally, sexual intercourse is defined as penile-vaginal penetration – which obviously only defines sexual intercourse in relation to opposite-sex sexual intercourse. Because same sex couples were unable to meet this definition, when civil partnerships came into effect, non-consummation was not grounds for dissolving the partnership. This same problem is being carried over into the same-sex marriage bill, as the government has not taken the time to redefine or rethink the definitions of sexual intercourse or consummation.

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

Targets in the Legal Profession

Catherine Day

On 10 January, Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff recommended the introduction of gender targets and embedding flexible-working practices in corporate culture, in order to improve gender diversity across the legal profession. Only 23.5 per cent of all partners and 9.4 per cent of all equity partners across the UK’s largest 100 law firms by revenue are women. Firms including Ashurst, Eversheds and Hogan Lovells have already introduced targets for the number of women in high-level positions.

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