Posts Tagged ‘female genital mutilation’

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

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The New F-ratings of Films in Sweden: Bringing feminist-friendly female role models to the attention of the public

Sam Grigg (Newcastle University)

Sweden, one of the greatest gender-equality countries, is imposing the use of the Bechdel test for cinema releases. Simple in nature, the test requires the fiction in question to have at least two women in it, they must talk to each other, and they must discuss something besides men. Usually employed by feminist critics who will give the rating, the test assesses how female-friendly certain fiction is.

It is unacceptable that so many popular films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pulp Fiction, The Social Network and all but one of the Harry Potter films fail the test. The Hunger Games and The Iron Lady, however, pave way for feminist approval. However, it is disconcerting that around half of films that do get awarded this rating (of an ‘A’) only do so because of discussions of babies or marriage, which is hardly progressing from gender-stereotyping.

A criticism of the Bechdel test is that writers argue they have a duty to portray life truthfully, so feel unfairly punished if they don’t pass the test due to showing real-life misogyny. Additionally, many sexist films can still pass the test, and films with all-female characters can fail, meaning that it doesn’t explain whether a film is gender-balanced.

Despite the above criticisms, the UK should declare the use and regulation of such a test; if it did, the rating should be made compulsorily published as with the British Board of Film Classification prior to release. (more…)

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

Women bishops – Church of England votes no

Catherine Donegan

On 21st November, the Church of England Synod faced its biggest crisis yet after voting against allowing women to become bishops. The legislation, which would have swept away centuries of entrenched sexism, was rejected by just six votes. Controversy had centred on the provisions for parishes opposed to women bishops to request supervision by a stand-in male bishop.

After a 12 year push the long awaited measure was dealt a fatal blow. The legislation had needed a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod to pass. The measure was passed by the synod’s Houses of Bishops and Clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity. The votes were 44 for 3 against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for 45 against the House of Clergy and 132 for 74 against in the House of Laity. If just six members of the laity had voted for instead of against the measure it would have been passed.


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Bhavna Bhagwan & Lou McGolpin

Legal Aid

As reported in our inaugural edition, the debate over Legal Aid reforms continues. The Justice Select Committee (“JSC”) has published its report on the proposed changes, in which it has urged ministers to reconsider plans to focus legal aid on family law cases, including those involving accusations of domestic violence and abuse. The JSC is concerned that such changes may create a “perverse incentive” for people to make false accusations. The need for considerable further refinement is stated in the report and the JSC has suggested that alternative savings can be made. The report has been made available online.


Hadley Freeman has published a powerful commentary following the conviction of Delroy Grant. During the Grant case, the British press made statements about the desirability of Grant’s victims, speculating that anyone wanting to have sex with these elderly people was a marvel in itself. The point is this: the belief that the victim must in some way be desirable peddles the blame that falls at the victim’s feet, even in cases such as this; and eschews the fact that this is not about sexual attraction but abuse of power. The press has done much to skew sentiment in rape trials and misconceived perceptions of the dynamics between Grant and his victims in this case serve to further inform the debate on rape law reform. If the crime itself is so poorly understood that vulnerable elderly victims can be pegged as somehow to blame, then more must be done to curtail this erroneous value system, or else what reform could possibly help the young single female’s chances of achieving justice? It would seem a hopeless case.

Reforms of the EHRC (more…)

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