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Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

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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10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_nAlex Sharpe is a professor at Keele University School of Law.

Yesterday, the government’s Women and Equalities Commitee released its long-awaited report on transgender equality[1] The report is generally very positive in identifying a range of serious problems faced by transgender people and in making some important recommendations (especially in relation to healthcare provision, prison reform, depathologisation, and legal recognition of trans youth (16/17 year olds) and non-binary people). However, the committee side-stepped the important issue of prosecutions for ‘gender fraud,’ despite receiving written submissions on this subject. Accordingly, an important opportunity to address the travesty of such prosecutions has been missed.

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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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yvetteYvette Russell is a lecturer in law at Queen’s University Belfast.  This post was first published by Critical Legal Thinking and is reproduced here with permission and thanks.

As Luis Suárez joined Johan le Roux and Mike Tyson  in the annals of sports-biting history last month, across the water in Northern Ireland Alvin Rouse continues to play in goal for Ballinamallard United Football Club, despite facing three counts of rape, two of sexual assault, one of causing a person to engage in a sexual act and one of false imprisonment.

The difference in the narratives of the two cases is striking, as is the institutional response. Suárez was immediately fined by Liverpool for biting Ivanovic and received a 10-match ban from the FA for ‘violent conduct’.  For similar offences, Le Roux was banned for 19-months, and Tyson for one year with a $3 million fine.    (more…)

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Last week, the End Violence Against Women Coalition sent the following open letter to the Prime Minister. It has been reproduced here with permission and thanks:

 

 

 

 

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister

Urgent action needed to prevent abuse of women and girls

86% of people want compulsory Sex and Relationships education to address abuse in the wake of the multiple prosecutions of groups of men for raping and sexually exploiting girls, the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones, the ongoing child sexual abuse allegations, as well as weekly accounts of domestic violence murders of women and children, we are writing to ask you to put in place a Programme of Work to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls. In particular, we are asking you to ensure that all schools tackle harmful attitudes and behaviours amongst young people and to ensure that survivors are supported. This will build on good work that your government is already carrying out and ensure that the pledge to prevent violence in the Home Office-led Call to end violence against women and girls becomes more than just a promise on paper.

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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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