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Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

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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SKDr Sarah Keenan teaches and writes on property, feminist and critical race theory at SOAS School of Law.

This piece was originally posted on halfinplace and is reproduced here with permission and thanks.

This is the text of a speech I gave at the SOAS teach-out as part of the UCU strike on October 31, 2013:

It’s great to see you all here at the teach-out today.  As you know, a strike is one strategy in trying to fight the neoliberalisation of higher education, but any political campaign that aims to fight or destroy something needs to also actively think about and start creating what it wants to build instead.  By working together to make this teach-out happen the SOAS SU and UCU haven’t just helped to protest against unfair pay for university staff, but have actually created an open, free and diverse space where students and lecturers can discuss ideas, which is exactly the kind of space that we want our universities to be.

By doing that and being here at the teach-out today creating our own space, we are resisting the politics of inclusion.  Those of us who are trying to achieve real social change need to be careful that we aren’t just asking or fighting to be included in systems and institutions that are already broken.  That means for those of us who occupy marginal identity categories, that we need to avoid political campaigns that aim for our inclusion in systems and institutions that are elitist, and/or that are sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist or otherwise violent.  Those systems and institutions weren’t built by or for marginalised and oppressed people, and inclusion in those systems won’t end structures of power that produce gross social and economic inequality. (more…)

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mephotoVikki Lang is an MJur student at Durham Law School.

They call themselves the ‘naked soldiers of feminism.’ They are the women that ran down the runway in Paris fashion week, shouted ‘Fuck Democracy’ to Putin, interrupted Pope Benedict’s Sunday mass with ‘homophobe Shut up’, and organised world-wide ‘topless hijab protests.’ They are Femen; the bare-breasted self-dubbed ‘sextremists’, and they are coming to the UK.

In a recent interview with the Huffington post, lead campaigner Inna Shevchenko summarises the cause of Femen; ‘our main enemy is patriarchy and its three manifestations – dictatorship, religion and the sex industry.’ Their main methods in fighting patriarchy? Their breasts. Their protests are often dangerous and can be violent, their tactics are extreme and shocking, often resulting in the women being forcibly removed, arrested, and even allegedly kidnapped. It is not surprising that debate surrounding this Ukrainian-born group is high. It has once again ignited after their announcement to set up a Femen branch in the UK, with the leader Inna Shevchenko vowing that ‘the streets of London will be occupied by our naked bodies painted with our political demands.’

They certainly get people talking. As a group of topless beautiful women, they are frequently on front covers of newspapers, tabloids, online blogs and social media sites; their radical protests are difficult to avoid. But is this the sort of publicity feminism in the UK needs? Is there a place for radical feminist protest in the UK or, more specifically, is there a place for protest using the female body? (more…)

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

UN Women Ad Campaign Shows Pervasive Sexism

Lauren Posada

Recently, UN Women has launched an ad campaign, created by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai, which shows the extent of worldwide sexism and discrimination against women. Using the Google search bar, UN Women inputted the beginning of sentences such as “women shouldn’t”, and put the drop down options over women’s mouths. While shocking, a quick check of Google shows that these are in fact true. Arwa Mahdawi, writing for the Guardian, warns us against taking the campaign too literally and notes that “autocomplete isn’t always an entirely accurate reflection of the collective psyche”. Whilst this may be true, and no doubt Google does come up with some questionable autocomplete answers at times, it is undeniably disturbing to see these searches from a world widely used search engine. Whilst perhaps the searches are not reflective of all of humanity, the adverts are definitely thought provoking and lead us to question how far equality between the genders has actually progressed.

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judeJude Roberts has recently completed a PhD at the University of Nottingham on the Culture novels of Iain M Banks. Jude teaches at Birkbeck College and tweets at @tangendentalism.

Jude recently appeared on Newsnight as part of a panel discussing pornography. A full clip of the show is featured at the end of this post. She writes here on pornography, sex and being labelled Jude Roberts – porn user.

 

I’m happy to be labelled a ‘porn user’. I am a user of porn. Although the connotations of the word ‘user’ are somewhat unnecessary. I use porn in the same way I use other forms of culture – for stimulation and entertainment. These, after all, are what culture is for. And make no mistake, porn is a form of culture, just like any other. Just like TV, films, books, computer games, theatre and the visual arts, porn reflects and reflects on the ideas, concerns and attitudes of the culture in which it’s produced.

So why do we treat it so differently? Porn is held to a far higher standard in its representation of women in particular than any other form of cultural expression. Much of the representation of women in porn is incredibly poor, misogynist and cliché and in no way whatsoever do I defend it from those who say that that is unacceptable and must change. Similarly, much mainstream porn is utterly, unbearably racist and this too is intolerable and must change. But these criticisms, so often directed at porn, could so easily be directed at other forms of culture too. The representation of women in so-called ‘torture porn’ films like Hostel and Saw involves precisely the same objectification of the suffering female body and rather than ending with the objectifying ‘money shot’ end with women’s bodies literally cut up into pieces.

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HFsmlHelen Fenwick is a Professor of Law at Durham Law School. This post is also published at Human Rights in Ireland.

 This post concentrates on Article 8 ECHR to argue that it can be viewed as sympathetic to feminist goals since, due to its particular ability to impose positive obligations on the state in relation to creating respect for private or family life, it can require the state to create curbs on the actions of non-state actors particularly adverse to women (eg. in relation to domestic violence: Hajduova v Slovakia) and ensure the efficacy of services that women in particular might need to access, such as to abortion (P&S v Poland). Women are, it is argued, more at risk than men from the actions of non-state actors within the private and family sphere (see intervention of Equal Rights Trust in Eremia and Others v Moldova on this point), so Article 8 has a particular pertinence for women, and unlike Article 14 (the guarantee of freedom from discrimination), which has not proved to have a strong impact as a means of advancing the interests of women due to its reliance on furthering formal equality (see eg Dembour Who Believes in Human Rights, Ch 7), Article 8 can address the substantive concerns of women, without the need for any reliance on a comparator.

Other ECHR Articles are also relevant. Article 3 would also support recognition of positive obligations, (see McGlynn, Clare (2009) ‘Rape, torture and the European convention on human rights’ ICLQ 58 (3)) including in the contexts considered below, although the harm threshold is obviously high. Article 8 currently may be the gateway to Article 14, the freedom from discrimination guarantee (bearing in mind that the UK has not ratified Protocol 12). In other words, if Article 8 is engaged but no violation is found, a violation of Article 14 might nevertheless be found of the two read together (Van Raalte v Netherlands).

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ComputerHolly Dustin is Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Fiona Elvines is the Operations Coordinator of Rape Crisis South London.

The following slides were presented by Holly and Fiona at the ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On‘ seminar in Durham University on the 8th May 2013. For further information about the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s campaign to prevent violence against women and girls, read their report ‘Deeds or Words?’ released yesterday, and their letter to the Prime Minister urging him to take action.

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ComputerHildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir is a human rights and gender expert at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, University of Iceland.

Iceland has recently proposed changing its laws on pornography. The Committee on Criminal Legislation at the Ministry of the Interior in Iceland is preparing a Bill with the aim of narrowing the legal definition of pornography; and an additional committee is charged with exploring how the law can be implemented, especially in relation to on-line material.

Before the 90s, pornography in Iceland had been in the form of a few imported magazines, like Hustler and Playboy, as well as behind-the-counter videotapes in specific video rental stores. Although prostitution existed, there has never been a tradition of street-prostitution in Iceland or specific neighbourhoods where prostitution was available. In addition, strip-clubs did not exist in Iceland prior to the mid-90s. Pornography was, and is, illegal – Act 210 in the Penal Code stipulates that it is illegal to publish, import, sell, hand out, or distribute pornographic material, or to hold a public lecture or play which is similarly “immoral”. Prostitution, as a main occupation, was illegal according to the Penal Code, and it was illegal to make money off prostitution as a third party (pimping). There was, however, no specific legislation addressing the running of strip-clubs.

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ComputerErika Rackley and Clare McGlynn (Durham University) have written widely on extreme pornography. You can read more about their research here and here.

In May 2008, following a 3 year period of extensive consultation and against a backdrop of significant and predominantly critical public debate, a new offence criminalising the possession of extreme pornography received its Royal Assent. The Government’s purpose in introducing the new law was to address an ‘increasing public concern’ about the availability of extreme pornography particularly that produced outside the UK and distributed via the internet which lay beyond the reach of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. It did so by shifting the focus from the producers to consumers – targeting the users of pornographic material by enabling prosecutions to be brought, for the first time, against anyone downloading, and therefore generating the demand for, such material.

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ComputerWelcome to Inherently Human’s Blog Carnival, ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’.

This Blog Carnival follows from the ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’ seminar which took place on 8th May 2013 at Durham University, marking five years since the passage of legislation criminalising the possession of extreme pornography. The seminar brought together academics, activists, policy-makers and other regulatory authorities to evaluate the success or failure of the legislation and to ask what, if any, reforms are necessary to secure progress toward this objective. Delegates were encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #EP5 (more…)

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