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Posts Tagged ‘gender’

“Romeo and Juliet”: Gender discrimination law challenge rejected

March 26, 2010 2 comments

The High Court has today rejected a challenge to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006 which was based on a claim of gender discrimination. The case involved a young man, now aged 18, who had sexual intercourse with a girl of 14 when he himself was 15.

The legislation in question provides for the offences of “defilement of a child under 15 years of age” (s. 2) and “defilement of a child under 17 years of age” (s. 3). Under both of these provisions it is an offence to engage in a sexual act with a child under the relevant age. However, s. 5 of the 2006 Act states that

A female child under the age of 17 years shall not be guilty of an offence under this Act by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse.

The claim before  the High Court was that the 2006 Act involved old-fashioned gender discrimination, which had no legitimate justification. Read more…

Call for Papers: Postgraduate and ECR Workshop with Professor Lois McNay

‘Subjects Before the Law: Membership, Recognition and the Religious Dimensions of Women’s Citizenship.’

We invite PhD students and Early Career Researchers (no more than 3 years post-doc) from any discipline to apply to participate in a workshop, to take place on Thursday, September 9, 2010. The workshop is hosted by the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights and the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork, Ireland. The workshop is organised as part of an IRCHSS Thematic Project on Gender Equality, Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Ireland.

The workshop organisers are Eoin Daly and Máiréad Enright.

Read more…

Call for Ban on FGM in Ireland

February 5, 2010 3 comments

According to a report in the Irish Times, a number of participants at an event held by the National Steering Committee on Female Genital Mutilation to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM called for a stepping up of the campaign for a new law banning the practice of FGM in Ireland.

During the event, serious concerns were expressed about whether the current legal framework in Ireland served as an effective tool for addressing the practise of FGM. While Government advice has indicated that female genital mutilation constitutes an offence under assault laws, speakers at the seminar said distinct legislation was needed.

According to the Irish Times report, a spokesman for Minister for Health Mary Harney said: “The question of introducing specific legislation to ban female genital mutilation remains under review. However, we cannot be specific on a timeframe for this review at this stage.”

The Irish Steering Committee came together in early 2008 to develop the Plan of Action to address Female Genital Mutilation, which was finalised in late 2008. The report is a valuable source of information on the practise of FGM in Ireland and elsewhere. The document highlights that ‘a proactive and coordinated response is required to prevent the establishment of the practice [of FGM] in Ireland and to provide care for women and girls living in Ireland who have already undergone FGM in their country of origin’. It identifies a number of strategies ‘as being essential to addressing FGM in Ireland and in other countries through Irish development policies’, focusing on actions under 5 strategy headings: legal, asylum, health, community and development aid. From a legal perspective, the report quotes earlier research carried out by the Women’s Health Council which, amongst other things, highlighted the shortcomings and the inappropriateness of existing legislation in terms of prosecuting FGM. Read more…

16 Days: Day 17 – Violence Against Transgender People

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Over the past two and a half weeks, this blog has marked the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence event by highlighting many of the campaigns and issues touching on violence against women. The focus of these posts has been on violence against women as this is the theme of this year’s event. However, a notable exception to this discussion has been the issue of violence against transgender people.

Transphobia encompasses not just the revulsion and irrational fears of transgender and transsexual people, but also includes cross dressers, feminine men, and masculine women. Therefore, it covers complex issues of gender roles and gender identities.

Transgender people are often denied legal recognition in their preferred gender identity. Such is the legal situation in Ireland, as has been discussed on this blog here and here. Yet, the prejudices and injustices experienced by transgender people are not limited to the lack of legal recognition.

Violence, based on their gendered status, is regularly experienced by many transgender people. November 20th last, marked the 11th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the fact that every day, all over the world, thousands of trans people are excluded, persecuted, hated, mistreated, subjected to aggression and routinely murdered or driven to suicide because of the transphobia of others.

Recently, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland published an excellent report ‘Transphobia in Ireland’. We want to draw readers’ attention to this much needed research.

Rape and Justice in Ireland

December 8, 2009 1 comment

Yesterday (as reported in the Irish Times) saw the publication of Rape and Justice in Ireland, a Rape Crisis Network of Ireland book, written by Conor Hanly of NUIG with Dr. Deirdre Healy and Stacey Scriver.

The book is the result of a four‐year study into the process of prosecuting rape cases in Ireland, which sought to unpack the reasons for the number and proportion of cases that fail to reach court and result in a guilty verdict. It found that approximately one third of rape cases reported to the Gardaí are prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The use and prevalence of alcohol, poor reactions from the Gardaí and evidential problems have been highlighted as contributing to this high attrition rate.

Previous research has indicated that the extent of victimisation in Ireland for sexual offences is remarkably high. The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Report, published in 2002, indicated that some 42% of women and 28% of men reported sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime, with ten per cent of women and three per cent of men experiencing penetrative abuse. In addition to and compounding the problematic levels of victimisation, disclosure of sexual violence to professionals was found to be low. In the context of adult sexual assault, only one per cent of men and 7.8% of women reported their experiences to the Gardaí, with slighter higher rates of reporting to medical professionals and counsellors/therapists. This trend of low reporting was reiterated by the Rape Crisis Network in 2007. Moreover, “approximately 1% of these incidents [of sexual offence] will end in conviction with 95% of cases reported to the Gardaí falling out of the system prior to any adjudication by the courts.” The declining detection rate for sexual offences in general is also cause for concern, given that it has fallen from 62% in 2003 to 55% in 2007. These figures emphasise the significance of the book Rape and Justice in Ireland which explores exactly why so many rape cases are lost from the criminal justice system.

However, on a more positive note, the detection rates for rape offences increased from 44.2% in 2003 to 57.5% in 2007. Moreover, once cases are reported and detected, the prosecution rates are favourable. The 2007 Annual Report of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicates that of non-indictable sexual offences prosecuted in the Central Criminal Court percentage of convictions 86% resulted in conviction in 2006, 90% in 2005 and 93% in 2004. For cases prosecuted on indictment in the Central Criminal Court the conviction rates for rape for the same years were 82, 85 and 81% respectively, for attempted rape it stood at 100% each year, and for aggravated sexual assault it was 100% in 2006 and 2005, and 50% in 2004. This suggests that improvements at the “front end” of the criminal justice process may be particularly pertinient in improving the prosecution and conviction rate for rape and other sexual offences. This echoes one key recommendation of Rape and Justice in Ireland that Gardaí need to keep in regular contact with rape complainants, and that no attempts should be made to discourage victims from proceeding.

Judicial Diversity: Of Gender in Particular

October 19, 2009 Leave a comment

In an earlier post I gave some details of the composition of the current Irish Supreme Court and of the backgrounds of the four men tipped to fill the seat left vacant by Mr. Justice Kearns’ move to the Presidency of the High Court.  Yesterday, a prominent senior counsel criticised the practice of indirect lobbying by senior lawyers (direct canvassing is forbidden) with ambitions to be appointed to the bench, raising the difficult question of the role of political connections in the selection of Irish  judges. The choice – if you follow what the newspapers say- is between four highly accomplished and well respected men. Within the narrow range of options, a move towards greater diversity on the Supreme Court might involve selecting a man in his fifties rather than his sixties, a constitutional lawyer rather than a private lawyer, a Protestant rather than a Catholic, or a man who went to a state Catholic school in the city rather than to a private Catholic boarding school. It might, at a – perhaps unimaginable – stretch, involve the appointment of a lawyer trained in Cork or Galway or one who made his name taking cases against the state rather than in its service.

The newspapers’ foursome of Brady, Clarke, O’Donnell and O’Neill ought, perhaps, to be taken with a pinch of salt but it does reflect, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, the selection of candidates available when we restrict Supreme Court appointments to a certain  – under current conditions inevitably – fairly homogenous section of society. It will be a long time, for instance, before we see an appreciable number of  faces in that group of any colour other than white. When will we see more women? Since the judicial appointments process has been opened up to solicitors, the number of women in the group of potential judicial appointees has increased; in particular because more women are senior solicitors than are senior barristers. In 2008, 36 women were senior counsel compared to over 200 men, yet women are set to outnumber men at the Bar by two to one come 2010. What options for placing brilliant women lawyers on the Irish Supreme Court  might present themselves if academic lawyers were eligible for appointment to the bench? Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain’s nomination to the European Court of Human Rights offers a glimpse of the pool of talent lying untapped, as does the British encounter with Baroness Hale (on which see an interesting article by Durham’s Erika Rackley here).

Read more…

Call for papers – Sibéal Listens: Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference on Gender and Women’s Studies

October 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Sibéal Listens:

Fresh Voices and New Directions in Feminist and Gender Research

Call for papers for a one and a half day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference on gender and women’s studies to be held on the 26-27 November 2009 at hosted by the Women’s Studies Centre, School of Social Justice, University College Dublin (Ireland).
The event will include panel discussions on diverse topics around gender and women’s studies as well as the launch of The Irish  Journal of Feminist Studies. We aim to create a space for dialogue about the links and tensions between different approaches to gender and feminist theory, analysis and research. The event will also provide an excellent networking opportunity for post-graduate students from different disciplines with a shared interest in gender and feminist issues. The conference will include time for discussion on how Sibéal can best promote and support postgraduate students in the years to come.

We welcome papers from post-graduate students from any discipline, but who is approaching their research from a gendered or feminist perspective.

Submission Guidelines:
Abstracts should be between 250-300 words. Please also include a brief bio (100 words) along with your name, contact address, and institutional affiliation.
Please send your complete abstract to info@sibeal.ie by 18th October 2009. We might be able to consider late submissions, but priority will be given to those who meet the deadline.
The Sibéal committee will contact you by end-October 2009. Please feel free to contact the conference organizing committee at info@sibeal.ie for any questions you may have.

Sibéal, Irish Postgraduate Gender & Women’s Studies Network, Ireland.
E-mail: info@sibeal.ie