Category Archives: Commentary

Angela P Harris Keynote: Compassion & Critique

This keynote is from the really interesting Law and the Curated Body conference put on by my colleague Faisal Bhabha and Jennifer Fisher of York’s Department of Visual Art and Art History.

Angela P. Harris will be known to most readers of this blog.  Now at UC Davis School of Law, she’s been at the forefront of critical race and critical legal scholarship for a long time now.  She’s one of the editors of Presumed Incompetent:​ ​The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (2012, Utah State UP) (there is a transcribed interview, here, where she discusses the book, it’s reception, and the impact of increased corporatization of universities).

In this talk, she explores the connections between mindfulness (she teaches a course called “Mindfulness and Professional Identity: Becoming a Lawyer While Keeping Your Values Intact”) and critical race scholarship, illustrating the ways in which she sees the two as intimately connected.  The talk isn’t an easy one – she details violence and challenges our responses to it.   Harris also spotlights the work of many Black female artists in the accompanying slides.   Take the time to have a look.

 

Kim Buchanan at Osgoode Mon Feb 23 – Rape by Fraud: Coercion, not Deception

Monday February 23 2015
Rape by Fraud:  Coercion, not Deception

Chair: Prof. Benjamin Berger
Abstract:  In four recent cases, the Supreme Court of Canada sought to protect gender equality, sexual autonomy and other Charter values by expanding the scope of s.265(3)(c) of the Criminal Code: sexual assault by “fraud”. Although the Court invokes “significant risk of serious bodily harm” to limit the scope of consent-vitiating deception (or nondisclosure), its
application of this standard has been justly criticized for inconsistency, and for diverging from the scientific consensus about transmission risk.
Feb23KimSBThis Article offers a principled way to distinguish criminal from noncriminal sex by deception. Rape-by-fraud should be defined in accordance with the core values protected by sexual assault law: moral retribution, harm, gender equality, and sexual autonomy. On all these counts, sex by deception is distinct from sex by coercion, and it is less serious. Voluntary-but-deceived sex is not sexual assault. Deceptions that lead to sex should be punished as rape only if they are coercive: that is, they led the victim to believe s/he had to have sex. We do not need a fraud provision to capture such deceptions: they are largely prohibited by other sexual assault provisions that prohibit sex by threats, fear, and abuse of trust, power or authority. Moreover, we do not need a fraud provision to capture the two deceptions that constituted rape at common law: fraud as to identity and fraud as to the “nature and quality of the act”. Both these situations involve no consent: agreement to nonsexual touching is not consent to sex, and agreement to sex with one person is not consent to sex with another.
Monday February 23
1230 to 2 in FCR (Osgoode Hall 2027)
Light refreshments
Please RSVP to LGonsalves@osgoode.yorku.ca
Email as above if you would like a copy of Prof. Buchanan’s draft paper.

Link to PDF poster for sharing/printing

Case shows the perils of being a woman – Karen Busby on Justice Lori Douglas’ case in the WFreeP

Case shows the perils of being a woman – Winnipeg Free Press.

The CJC inquiry vividly demonstrates the risks sexually violated women face. Will those who sit in judgment of her change the conversation?

See also the injunctive relief Douglas won late Friday:   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/lori-douglas-wins-temporary-ban-on-nude-photos-at-disciplinary-hearing-1.2845382

Private Murder, Public Pressure

Private Murder, Public Pressure

by Terrine Friday (Osgoode SJD program)

Is homicide a private matter?

The RCMP called  the Sept. 10 killing of Shirley Parkinson a “private matter,” and refused to release information about the manner of her death, although they have evidence that her husband killed her before taking his own life.

According to reports, Parkinson, 56, was killed by her husband Donald, 60, before he took his own life on the couple’s farm near Unity, Saskatchewan last month. The victim was a “well-known public health nurse” who worked with women and children in her community.

The RCMP did not, initially, release the fact that Shirley Parkinson was murdered – apparently to respect the family’s wishes. Saskatchewan journalists are now calling on the RCMP to release pertinent information about their investigation.

At first glance this raises the issue of how to balance the public interest and the family’s wish for privacy.  There may be some other reason why the RCMP would prefer to keep the case files closed to the public or why the wishes of the next of kin should be respected in this case.  But  the RCMP’s use of the Privacy Act to keep all specifics from the public, and their suggestion that the family context of this killing rendered it “private” are highly problematic.  My own research considers the complicated questions raised in access to information disputes, and focuses on the use of exceptions provided in the legislation to keep data out of the hands of journalists, researchers and the public.

Information about the homicide/suicide in Unity could serve to break the relative silence about domestic abuse, especially amongst older adults.   A 2007 clinical study by Sonia Salari, an expert on population aging and social interaction, reveals “[l]ater life intimate partner homicide suicide (IPHS) represents the most severe form of domestic partner abuse and usually results in at least two deaths.” The study shows 96 percent of perpetrators are men and suicide was the primary intent in 74 percent of cases analyzed.   A troubling finding is that any history of domestic violence was known to others in only 14 percent of cases. This research, as much as other arguments about transparency, accountability and the salience of the public private divide should lead us to question whether privacy is really the right approach to domestic abuse amongst the aging – or any other sector of society.

Grad students with guest post ideas related to their projects should get in touch with Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode Rm 3026

via Impact Ethics – Commentary by Rachael Johnstone: Privileging Infertility over Abortion in New Brunswick

whath/t Sanda Rodgers for this very interesting piece by Dr. Rachael Johnstone.

Privileging Infertility over Abortion in New Brunswick at Impact Ethics blog

If it were part of a larger commitment to create a spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, the infertility fund could be laudable. However, when contrasted with the government’s long held, paternalistic stance against the creation of substantive access to abortion, it suggests more alarming commitments. Validating the desires of women to have children by investing money in expensive (often unsuccessful) treatments, while simultaneously denying the rights of those facing unwanted pregnancies by failing to provide relatively minimal financial support, suggests deeply troubling views of women’s reproductive rights. If pregnancy is the only reproductive choice the government supports, what happens to women who do not want to reproduce, or are unable or unwilling to support a child? What do these policies say about the value of women’s contributions to the community? Moreover, without clear policy guidelines to protect the health of women who undergo infertility treatment, what message is the government sending about the importance of women’s health?