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Posts Tagged ‘rape’

Kyle L Murray & Tara Beattie are both PhD candidates at Durham Law School.

The Case

Gayle Newland’s case is likely not news to many – her retrial and conviction for sexual assault of a female friend has attracted wide-ranging media coverage. This is perhaps no surprise, given the numerous case-elements which challenge typical expectations of the nature of sexual assault, and the profile of an offender. As the Telegraph reports, “a woman who preys on another woman confounds expectations” – the public often picturing sex offenders “as seedy men who lie in wait for strangers.” But so too does the nature and extent of the deception surrounding the assault. The victim believed that she was in a romantic, sexual relationship with a man named ‘Kye’ – a false persona created by Newland. Although the two met, ‘Kye’ was never seen in person, with the victim being requested to wear a mask during their meetings, on account of supposed embarrassment at a disfigurement. When together, Newland carried out sexual acts using a prosthetic penis, and forbade the victim from touching her.

The case raises ethical and legal considerations surrounding deception, identity and consent. For some, Newland’s conviction is a worrying reflection of the state of gender and consent in criminal law, and something which could have repercussions for the LGBTQ community. For others, those voices do not fully acknowledge the damage caused by building a relationship upon lies.

For two law researchers, with respective backgrounds in moral scepticism and sexual privacy, this was the topic of an afternoon conversation which proved troubling to both parties. Our full commentary is provided in in dialogical form here. A summary of the issues discussed is provided below.

Trans rights, deceit, and bodily autonomy (more…)

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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 imageXiyu Zhu and Adeline Chow are two undergraduate students at Durham Law School. Here they review a seminar given by Professor Alex Sharpe in May 2016.

Professor Alex Sharpe from Keele University addressed sexual offence prosecutions based on “gender fraud” in the context of cis-trans sexual intimacy in her recent talk at Durham University. In the seminar, organized by GLAD (@DurhamGLAD), she discussed successful sexual offence prosecutions brought against young transgender men over the last four years. In these cases, the female cisgender partners, allegedly, were unaware of the defendants’ gender histories. Sharpe challenges the legitimacy of “gender fraud” prosecution, questioning the underlying cisnormative assumptions that ground it, and critiques criminalization as a legal response. (more…)

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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.

(more…)

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

The Debate on whether Women should be able to Freely Breastfeed in the UK

Chelsea Seals, University of Manchester

There has been uproar this December as a woman, Louise Burns, was asked to cover herself up with a napkin whilst breastfeeding in Claridge’s, London.  A group of 25 mothers stood outside the five star hotel and breastfed in protest what they consider to be outrageous and ‘embarrassing’ behaviour by Claridge’s.  The group ‘Free to Feed’ organised the demonstration. This is group who believe that women should have the right to breastfeed their child wherever, and whenever it is necessary. Emily Slough, the founder of the Free to Feed organisation started up the movement after she was called a ‘tramp’ for breastfeeding her chid in public. She made the comments ‘We are here to show Claridge’s they are not above the law. But they have said nothing to us, they are pretending we’re not here’. Slough continued, ‘Every time something like this happens, many women are put off for life from breastfeeding. We’re here to challenge that stigma and show women it’s normal and natural’. Claridge’s responded to this by saying that they support breastfeeding, however they would prefer it was done discretely.

The Claridge’s debacle has raised the debate once again as to whether it is appropriate for women to breastfeed in public. Nigel Farage of UKIP commented that women should sit in corners to avoid offending people. However, while the display of breastfeeding is usually discreet in most cases anyway, when celebrities such as Rhianna and Miley Cyrus expose their breasts in public for ‘fashion’ or publicity reasons there is no outcry or offended people. (more…)

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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.

(more…)

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