In the last few years, many countries have introduced laws combating the phenomenon colloquially known as ‘revenge porn’. While new laws criminalising this practice represent a positive step forwards, the legislative response has been piecemeal and typically focuses only on the practices of vengeful ex-partners. Drawing on Liz Kelly’s (Surviving sexual violence. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1988) pioneering work, we suggest that ‘revenge porn’ should be understood as just one form of a range of gendered, sexualised forms of abuse which have common characteristics, forming what we are conceptualising as the ‘continuum of image-based sexual abuse’. Further, we argue that image-based sexual abuse is on a continuum with other forms of sexual violence. We suggest that this twin approach may enable a more comprehensive legislative and policy response that, in turn, will better reflect the harms to victim-survivors and lead to more appropriate and effective educative and preventative strategies.
In the Coman case, the European Court of Justice was asked whether the term "spouse"-for the purposes of EU law-includes the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen who has moved between EU Member States. The ECJ answered this question affirmatively, holding that a refusal to recognise a same-sex marriage and the resultant refusal to grant family reunification rights to a Union citizen who moves to another Member State, would constitute an unjustified restriction on the right to free movement that Union citizens enjoy under EU law. This case comment analyses the judgment, arguing that the Court's pronouncement is a very welcome first step towards marriage equality at a cross-border level in the EU. At the same time, following the delivery of this ruling, a lot of questions have arisen and gaps in the protection of same-sex couples persist, and these are also analysed in this piece.
This article aims to contribute to literature on the conceptualisation of 'vulnerability' and its use by neo-liberal welfare regimes to demean, stigmatize and responsibilize welfare recipients. Several conceptions of 'vulnerability' will be explored and utilised in the context of welfare reforms that purport to regulate social security recipients as highly risky 'vulnerable' subjects. However, as this article will make clear, 'vulnerability' is a somewhat slippery concept and one susceptible to abuse by powerful interests intent on increasing coercive surveillance, discipline and disentitlement for those designated as 'vulnerable'. Legislation enacted ostensibly to address the 'vulnerability' of welfare recipients can foster intensive regulation and it must be asked who benefits most from such arrangements and the rhetoric that supports them.
In this article, I examine the legal position of those who perform caregiving work within the context of a cohabiting relationship through a novel relational vulnerability lens. I argue that the state, through privatising and devaluing caregiving labour, situates carers within an unequal and imbalanced relational framework, exposing them economic, emotional, and spatial harms. Unlike universal vulnerability, which is inherent and unavoidable, relational vulnerability can be avoided and reduced if the state were to acknowledge that humans are embodied and relational rather than self-sufficient and rational. Law's treatment of cohabiting carers reflects the state's broader tendency to value economic self-sufficiency, while confining caregiving to the private family. I argue that the state has a duty to respond directly to relational vulnerability and should aim to make cohabiting carers resilient. Resilience must involve the provision of material resources but should also have a normative commitment to achieving autonomy and equality for those marginalised by law and state policies.
The world of international relations and law is constantly changing. There is a risk of the systematic undermining of international organisations and law over the next years. Feminist approaches to international law will need to adapt accordingly, to ensure that they continue to challenge inequalities, and serve as an important and critical voice in international law. This article seeks to tell the story of feminist perspectives on international law from the early 1990s till today through a discussion between three generations of feminist international legal scholars: Hilary Charlesworth, who, with her colleagues, contributed to the area in the immediate post-Cold War years, Gina Heathcote, who over the past decade has published extensively on feminist perspectives on the use of force and collective security, and Emily Jones, an early career scholar working on feminist approaches to international law. The conversation, which began as a Skype discussion, considers both the ways in which feminist approaches to international law have changed over the past two decades, as well as the ways in which they have been shaped by global politics, before turning to consider the future for feminist approaches to international law. The impact of feminist approaches to international law has been considerable. However, it seems that feminist approaches still lack legitimacy and credibility in many mainstream circles, remaining on the disciplinary periphery. Charlesworth, Heathcote and Jones discuss potential ways in which to manage some of these tensions, noting both the importance of ‘speaking to ourselves’ (Charlesworth in Feminist perspectives on contemporary International Law: Between resistance and compliance? Hart, Oxford, pp. 17–32, 2011) as a creative and nurturing space, as well as the need to be seen as a more credible voice in the mainstream. They note the need, too, for further feminist work beyond the realms of sexual violence and women’s representation. While the great amount of work in this area is, indeed, foundational, having achieved many important legal and political outcomes, feminist approaches should now develop beyond these areas. Doing so will not only propel this area of scholarship in new and exciting directions, but it might help feminist scholarship gain further traction by avoiding categorisation only under the umbrella of “women’s issues” and thus ready dismissal as just another specialist area of international law in the era of fragmentation.
This comment reflects on how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda has been translated into policy and put into practice by the European Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although the WPS agenda has enabled many gains by women peacebuilders, this comment identifies important challenges from these two very different contexts. First, situating WPS policy areas within a broader feminist political economy analysis demonstrates how little influence the WPS agenda has across government. Second, the WPS agenda is being (mis)used to promote heteronormative, patriarchal understanding of ‘gender’, stripped of any power dynamics and excluding any gender identities that do not conform. The result, then, is that WPS policies and practice are adrift in the patriarchal policy mainstream.
In 2010, Connecticut implemented an offence prohibiting minors from engaging in sexting. This legislation was part of a range of reforms across the United States aiming to better tailor the criminal law's response to youth sexting by distinguishing sexting from child abuse material. Drawing from submissions to the Connecticut General Assembly's Sexting Bill, media reports and recent 'sexting' cases, this article adopts a feminist perspective and examines the justifications for and implications of this sexting statute. It argues that while aiming to create a distinction between child abuse material and sexting through a 'lesser' offence, these paternalistic reforms are informed by some of the same logics shaping child pornography/child abuse material law. Therefore, this statute is situated on a continuum of paternalistic legislation which utilises the constitutive expressive function of the criminal law to register anxieties about young people's sexual and technological practices. As a result, this statute conflates victims and perpetrators of image based sexual abuses and fails to meet its deterrent and protective aims.