Speaker: Professor Davina Cooper: A facilitated conversation around ‘Sex-based rights v gender-as-identity: The challenge for contemporary feminism’.

Abstract: This facilitated discussion, with an introduction from Davina Cooper, will explore core dimensions of sex-based rights feminism and gender-as-identity. These two frameworks, currently locked into a divisive dispute, have come to dominate gender politics in the UK. What are their differences and common ground, why have they emerged in the recent period, what gender perspectives and politics have become marginalised as a result, and what might feminist aspirations for gender’s futures be?

Biography: Davina Cooper is Research Professor in Law & Political Theory at King’s College London. She has written extensively on gender and sexual politics, radical state and non-state governance, and transformative concepts, including in her books Challenging Diversity, Everyday Utopias and Feeling like a State. She directed the AHRC Research Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality and is currently PI on an ESRC-funded research project on the Future of Legal Gender: https://futureoflegalgender.kcl.ac.uk/ 

LEX Salon: Wednesday 17th March 2021| 13:00 GMT, 14:00 CET
To Register for the entire Salon Click HERE <ps://lexseminarseries.simpletix.co.uk/e/63898> (space is limited)

Professor Jane Freedman and Dr Tamaryn Crankshaw:  ‘Commercial sex work or transactional sex? Thinking about definitional and conceptual boundaries in understanding gendered vulnerabilities in the economic-sexual exchange’
Abstract: Whilst commercial sex work and transactional sex (TS) have been presented in some recent research as conceptually distinct, our ongoing research in Madagascar and Zimbabwe amongst young  women (16-24 years old) leads towards understanding of a continuum of transactional sexual relationships which is increasingly prevalent in both countries. We argue that considering the wider determinants of TS as a continuum allows us to understand the various structural and proximate factors which constrain women’s sexual choices and which lead then to engage in TS relations, with the associated gendered vulnerabilities. However, in arguing for this continuum in a developing manuscript, we have encountered strong resistance from other scholars, who while acknowledging the shared structural determinants, argue against what they view as a conflation of informal sexual exchange relationships with sex work. We offer this debate to the LEX community,  grounded in data from our ongoing research, with a view to advancing the methodological boundaries around understanding of the vulnerabilities experiences by young women engaged in the economics of sexual exchange in the Southern African region. 

Biographies:  Jane Freedman is Professor at the Université Paris 8 and Director of the Centre de recherches sociologiques et politiques de Paris (CRESPPA). Her research focuses on issues of gender-based violence, migration and health. 

Dr Tamaryn Crankshaw is the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Programme Leader at the Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  Tamaryn’s research interests include women’s health, reproductive health and rights, prevention of gender-based violence, and HIV prevention. 

LEX Salon: Wednesday 17th March 2021| 13:00 GMT, 14:00 CET

Ms Molly Ackhurst: ‘Speaking, Listening, Interpreting: The Lure of the Carceral Analysis in Narratives around Sexual Violence and Justice’.

Abstract: Feminist research has long concerned itself with the effects of situated knowledge’s on narratives around trauma. Nonetheless, despite widespread awareness that ‘all categories of analysis’ are ‘contextual, contested, and contingent’ (Scott, 1991, p.796), much feminist work around sexual violence and justice continues to engage in a largely uncritical and unquestioning engagement with the voices of survivors of sexual violence. Through undertaking a comprehensive discourse analysis of academic projects that explore justice from the perspective of survivors, this paper seeks to interrogate the reasons why many feminist texts on sexual violence and justice appear unable to critically engage with survivor voice. It is through troubling the ways in which the literature engages with and represents the words of survivors, that I aim to highlight the tension between individualised justice and collective politics. Drawing on Ruha Benjamin’s (2019) expansive understanding of carcerality, I will illustrate that the lack of acknowledgment of this tension obscures the limitations of survivor voice, and more importantly the fact that those who write about sexual violence bring with them their own views, beliefs and investments in carcerality, which in turn produces a carceral analysis of survivors voices.

Biography: Molly Ackhurst has a practice-based background having worked in sexual violence support for many years. This combines with her experience as an activist, writer, and facilitator with a number of different social justice groups. Her work is rooted around creative approaches to trauma, and uses emergent arts based methods to foster direct action and everyday intervention. This approach feeds into molly’s academic work, and she is currently in her second year of a PhD in Criminology at Birkbeck, supervised by Sarah Lamble and Tanya Serisier. Her PhD is entitled Investigating the Impasse: An Exploration into Stuckness in Sexual Violence Justice Work.

LEX Salon: <Wednesday 21. April 2021 | 14:30 GMT and 15:30 CET
Click HERE TO REGISTER: <https://lexseminarseries.simpletix.co.uk/e/65398

Professor May-Len Skilbrei: ‘Teaching Gender, Sexuality and Law’

Abstract: The relationship between law, gender and sexuality is taught at various academic institutions and in courses in sociolegal studies, criminology, gender studies, legal anthropology and law. This LEX Salon addresses the choices we make when we compose a reading list or syllabi for courses on law, gender and sexuality and how we reason when we design lectures and students assignments on the topics. In making these choices, we have to balance literature that exemplify early versions of feminist engagement with topics such as rape and commercial sex with newer investigations of the same. Similarly, we have to balance presenting empirical and more descriptive material and complex multidisciplinary theoretical work. How do we address the trajectory of thinking about law, gender and sexuality, are there topics and perspectives that are represented in the history, but that now has moved out of view? Students on courses in law, gender and sexuality are typically engaged in topics such as discrimination, violence and abuse. How can we retain the energizing effect such engagement has, at the same time as we urge students to move beyond political and personal engagement, to promote critical thinking about representations and solutions that are taken for granted currently? This LEX Salon invites reflection on these and other matters, to create a platform for reflection and exchange on what insights we as university teachers in law, gender and sexuality reproduce and how. 

Biography: May-Len Skilbrei is a professor of criminology at the University of Oslo. For the last seven years, she has taught the course Criminological perspectives on gender sexuality and violence on BA and MA levels, as well as supervising students on all levels on law, gender and sexuality. Her own research is on subjectivities in and policies on sexual assault, prostitution and human trafficking.

Dr Sorcha McCormack – Should England & Wales adopt the Canadian approach to sexual offences? A critical exploration of autonomy-based frameworks, a shift to vulnerability.

Abstract: The criminal justice system is failing sexual assault complainants. Despite legislative reforms and procedural changes, rates of report and conviction for rape and sexual assaults have remained low for many years, Through a thorough examination of the laws and their interpretation in England and Wales, it is argued that the legal response is inadequate. Protections are hierarchical, capacity is determined inconsistently often affording different protections to complainants depending on their blameworthiness. Likewise, the definition of consent is vague, and its articulation leaves interpreters focussing excessively on the complainant. If we look to the Canadian approach however, the legal response appears quite different. Canada adopted an affirmative consent model in an effort to address the difficulties within consent. Likewise, the Canadian approach includes a ‘capacity. umbrella’. It does not differentiate incapacitation depending on whether it arose from voluntary or involuntary intoxication or indeed mental incapacity. However, on closer inspection it will be argued that the Canadian legal response in fact mirrors that of  England and Wales. It will therefore be argued that these approaches fail to adequately respond to sexual assault complaints because of their theoretical foundations, namely autonomy. Instead, an alternative approach through a theory of vulnerability will be preferred to consider its potential in reformulating how we respond to sexual assault complaints. 

Biography: Sorcha Mc Cormack is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett law school. She was called to the Bar of Ireland in 2013. She has previously worked as a researcher at Leeds University where she led pro bono research projects with Professor Luke Clements. These projects explored disabled children and their families’ statutory rights. She recently completed her PhD at Durham University. Her thesis examined the hierarchal response to sexual assault complainants in England & Wales and suggested a new offence decentring autonomy framed through a vulnerability theory lens. Her primary research interests include feminist legal theory and sexual offences.

LEX Salon: Wednesday 19 May 2021 8:30 A.M. GMT, 09:30 CET and 19:30 AEDT

Dr Mary Iliadis: ‘The merits of police body-worn cameras in response to domestic and family violence’

In recent years, police body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been rapidly rolled out across Australia, and domestic and family violence is increasingly being used as the justification for this, even though their use is not limited to that policing context. Despite this, there has been little, if any, empirical research examining BWCs in domestic and family violence incidents and proceedings internationally. Informed by a quantitative and qualitative research design, including surveys with police in Queensland and Western Australia, and in-depth interviews with family violence stakeholders in these two states, this chapter will present findings from the first Australian study to examine the merits of police BWC technology in response to domestic and family violence incidents and proceedings, including an analysis of the use, efficacy, perceived benefits and limitations of this surveillance technology. The project findings are grounded within rigorous empirical analyses that will provide a strong evidence base for the development of future legal reform and policy, particularly for those jurisdictions considering the introduction and/or use of police BWCs as a means of improving prosecution and justice outcomes in domestic and family violence matters, and/or seeking to review the impact of their current surveillance technologies on police practice and outcomes.
* project with Dr Danielle Tyson (Deakin University); Associate Professor Asher Flynn (Monash University); Dr Zarina Vakhitova (Monash University); Dr Bridget Harris (Queensland University of Technology). 

Biography: Dr Mary Iliadis is a lecturer in criminology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University and co-convenor of the Deakin Research into Violence Against Women Hub. She is also a committee member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology  and the Early Career Researcher Representative for the Faculty of Arts and Education Research Committee at Deakin. Mary’s research is informed by national and international context, and explores the rights and protections afforded to victims of sexual violence in criminal trials in England and Wales, Ireland and Australia. More broadly, Mary researches police and prosecutorial discretion in response to gendered violence and explores prospects for victim participation across the criminal trial process, including legal representation for victims of crime. 

Dr Lynsey Mitchel: ‘Difficult women? Uncovering legal academics’.

Abstract: Despite growing public awareness of women’s rights, or indeed increasing utilisation of feminist and wider critical perspectives in human rights teaching, there appears to be scant attention in mainstream human rights curricula to the myriad of women’s rights issues. While leading feminist and critical scholars have identified that legal knowledge as taught in universities has traditionally failed to incorporate women’s experience of the law, several feminist projects (e.g. Feminist Judgment Project) have sought to highlight this absence and mainstream gender throughout the law curriculum. However, there is little research on how successful these feminist critiques of law have been in shifting the human rights syllabus away from traditional liberal concepts of civil and political rights, which tend to exclude particular violations of women’s rights. This paper draws on data from a pilot study which interviewed human rights academics in order to understand how contemporary women’s rights issues are framed within their human rights teaching and how they engage students. It seeks to determine whether human rights academics consider women’s rights a core component of their human rights syllabus and to what extent women’s rights and gendered critiques of human rights are mainstreamed throughout human rights modules and the wider legal curriculum in general. This paper will present preliminary data that highlights the difficulties that academics face in deciding how to introduce women’s rights to students and barriers to focusing on particular gender issues. 

Biography: Dr Lynsey Mitchell is an early career researcher and lecturer in human rights law at Abertay University. She teaches Human Rights Law, Gender Sexuality and the Law, and Family Law. As well as a degree in Scots law, she holds an LLM in International law and a PhD that focussed on narratives of women’s rights in law. Her research straddles international human rights law, women’s rights, feminist legal theory, and law and literature. She is a founding member of the recently launched Gender Justice and International Law Research Network, which works to bring together critical scholars of international law in order to promote gender justice. She is currently working on a funded pilot project exploring how reproductive rights are understood within the wider human rights project. She is the editor of the forthcoming Routledge edited collection Law, Power and Justice in Game of Thrones.

LEX Salon: Wednesday 16th June 2021 14:00 GMT and 15:00 GMT, 16:00 CET 17:00 EET and 10:00 AM UTC

Professor Professor Lina M. Céspedes-Báez. ‘Constitutional continuities and discontinuities between criminalization and legalization of sex work in Colombia’

Abstract: This paper explores the key role the Colombian Constitutional Court has had in the regulation of sex work among adults in Colombia. It aims at unpacking the contradictory and discontinuous approach it has adopted towards the regulation of sex work. To do so, it examines how the Constitutional has endorsed an approach in which partial legalization of sex work is combined with partial criminalization and constitutional protection of municipal administrative powers that have high incidence in its development.  Hence, it explores the continuities and discontinuities among rulings partially protecting sex workers’ labor law rights, and those that endorse the criminalization of procurers and the constitutionality of ample administrative powers to design and implement zoning measures in municipalities. This study will shed light on the multiple areas of law involved in regulating the activity and identity of sex workers and the way they inhabit law and the city. 

Biography: Colombian Lawyer graduated from Universidad del Rosario. She holds a specialized degree in Tax Law from this university, a Master in Gender Studies from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) with concentration in international law from Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva University, NYC), and a Doctorate in Juridical Science (S.J.D.) from Temple University (Philadelphia). She was a Fulbright Scholar to pursue doctoral studies in 2012-2014 and Residential Fellow at the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) of Harvard University’s Law School. Currently she is a Full-Time Professor (Profesora Titular) of Universidad del Rosario’s Law School, where she is a member of the Private Law Research Group. Her scholarship has been focused on gender, property theories, armed conflict, and international law, among other topics. She has practiced law since the year 2000 as a litigant and consultant. She was the Vice-Dean of Universidad del Rosario’s Law School from 2015 until 2019 and Acting Dean in 2019. 

Dr Helen Mary Rizzo,  ‘Redefining Masculinities in Anti Gender Based Violence Initiatives in Egypt’.

Abstract: Notions of responsibility are intimately tied to conceptions of masculinities and femininities in both collective and individual practices. Projects for gender justice and women’s empowerment imply masculine responsibility in formulating the problem and suggestions for reform, but men, while deemed responsible, are often not directly targeted by women’s-rights organizations in their awareness and conscious-raising campaigns and projects to promote gender equality, particularly in the area of gender based violence (GBV). This project examines Cairo-based initiatives and groups working to end public space sexual harassment and GBV to see if it is necessary to invoke “traditional masculinist modes of responsibility…” in order to change men’s perceptions, behavior and public opinion.  The implications of not directly addressing the role of men and masculinities in projects for gender justice need to be examined especially in authoritarian contexts where the space for civil society has been severely curtailed, especially in Egypt since 2013. Until gender (masculinities and feminities) is fully addressed, particularly in the area of gender-based violence (GBV), such projects will most likely not be successful in the long term.  This research discusses how and if various groups working to end GBV in Egypt, particularly public space sexual harassment, deal with masculinities and engage men in an authoritarian political context based on field work (in depth interviews with staff and volunteers, content analysis of reports and other written materials and observations) with independent initiatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national and international organizations based in Cairo. More specifically, the findings will explain why men have been active participants as staff members and volunteers in anti-sexual harassment campaigns particularly and how some of these groups are trying to reconceptualize masculinity and masculine responsibility in ways that are not traditionalist nor patriarchal.

Biography: Helen Mary Rizzo is an associate professor of sociology at The American University in Cairo and she received her PhD in sociology from Ohio State University in 2000. She has published numerous articles on public opinion, citizenship rights and the democratization process in Kuwait. Her book, Islam, Democracy and the Status of Women: The Case of Kuwait, was published in 2005 by Routledge Press.  Her more recent projects include working with colleagues from anthropology and media studies on a British Academy Small Grants funded project, titled Youth Perspectives on Gender Norms and Public Sexual Violence in Cairo: Cultural and Media Perspectives, in addition to research focusing on social movement campaigns against street sexual harassment in Egypt. Rizzo has also volunteered in the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights campaign titled Making Our Streets Safe for Everyone and worked as a research consultant with Harassmap, an initiative to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment.  She is currently the Unit Head of Sociology and serves on the graduate advisory committee of the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at AUC.


Summer Break. No Speakers