Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

Chloe chloekennedyKennedy

Edinburgh Law School

On December 14 2018, the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute ex-DC Andrew Boyling for rape, indecent assault, procurement of sexual intercourse and misconduct in public office was upheld by the High Court in R (Monica) v DPP (henceforth Monica). The application for judicial review was brought by one of three women with whom Boyling, an undercover police officer, had a sexual relationship whilst posing as an environmental activist, named Jim Sutton. The case highlights significant issues relating to proper police conduct and the limits of state power but at its core is the question of when and why deception should undermine consent to sex. In this post, I put forward two arguments, both of which are based on my view that something important has been left out of previous attempts to answer this question. First, I argue that deceptions that are considered capable of undermining consent to sex can be understood as a form of ‘identity non- or misrecognition’ – a kind of failure on the part of the deceiver to respect the identity of the deceived. Second, I argue that conceiving of rape by deception in these terms provides a framework for thinking differently about where the boundaries of the criminal law ought to be drawn. Using Monica as a case study, my ultimate aim is therefore to suggest that identity nonrecognition could provide a foundation for this area of law going forward (as indeed it seems to have become in the recent past) but also to think critically about what this might mean in practice.


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Image result for diane crockerProfessor Diane Crocker (Department of Sociology and Criminology, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

A few years back, my friend and I attended a panel discussing a Facebook group, the “Gentlemen’s Club,” that several male dentist students had set up.[1] The postings included sexist and misogynist comments about female classmates and the panel set out to address how to respond and promote a more respectful campus culture. I met my friend 25 year ago, while we were both undergraduates. At the time, she worked in women’s organizations and provided advocacy for women experiencing violence. But she had been away from that world for many years. At the end of the panel, my friend turned to me and announced her surprise that nothing had really changed in 25 years.

Her point was twofold. The attitudes revealed in the “Gentleman’s Club” echoed those on campuses during our undergraduate years. That hadn’t really changed. But her point spoke to another way in which nothing has changed. She felt disappointed that, in 25 years, we had not developed much new thinking about the problems. It struck her that we still doing the same kind of work to respond to the same old problems.

The “Gentlemen’s Club” presents only one example of current problems on Canadian campuses.

In recent years, Canadians have been confronted by seemingly endless stories about sexual harassment and violence on campuses across the country. (more…)

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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:






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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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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