2223 Gender and the Courts

WG Gender, Law and Society

Room: B2.01


Chair: Barbara Giovanna Bello

Madalena Duarte | Centre for Social Studies

Law and gender violence: a typology of judging narratives




In recent years there has been intense debate around feminism and law, emerging feminist legal theory as an important forum that challenges a more traditional perspective of Law. The preliminary question is whether Law – including courts and legal actors - can be an effective instrument for women, or if, on the contrary, it is a system that reinforces oppression. I raise some hypothesis to the research of this possibility, using as case-study the legal fight against domestic violence against women.  With increasing visibility in the public sphere, reflected in a clear increase of complaints, this particular type of violence has been the subject of various policies, particularly directed to its criminalization. Women are increasingly encouraged to report their offenders and resort to court to obtain justice. So there is a crucial question to ask: Are they achieving that justice? Often considered a distinctive domain with strange rules and stranger language, law is actually part of a culture's way of expressing its sense of the order of things. Indeed, several social and legal analyses conducted worldwide show that the recognition of legality depends on the way notions of duty are balanced with cultural senses of justice. Being violence and gender social and cultural constructions it is crucial to understand how those cultural representations influences women’s rights in the courts. In this paper I will analyse the interrelationship of law and cultural/social approaches to concepts as victims, perpetrators, domestic violence and violence against women. I will do that by resorting to 100 interviews conducted with judges and public prosecutors, to the analysis of judicial sentences and to a survey applied to judges. The narratives and discourses resultant from these methodologies were analysed through the construction of a typology of “judging” which will be discussed in the presentation. 

Tanja Herklotz | Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Feminist Legal Activism in India




This paper analyses the impact that the Indian women's movement (women's rights groups, activists, feminist lawyers) have had on India's courts and legislature. Perceiving the Indian women's movement as a "support structure for legal mobilisation" (Epp 1998), the paper distinguishes between two forms of legal activism: lobbying for better laws and (strategic) litigation. In order to pursue this impact study, two distinct areas are examined: religion-based family law (so called "personal laws"), and violence against women. The paper provides new approaches with regard to four distinct aspects: 1. While most scholarship on (feminist) legal activism focuses on countries in the Global North, this study Looks at a Global South county. 2. Whereas scholarship on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India tends to be court-centred, this study focuses on those protagonists who bring the cases before the courts in the first place, i.e. the movement actors. 3. The focus on courts as potential vehicles for social change in Indian scholarship has also gone to the detriment of an engagement with parliaments as such motors of change. Instead, the perception persists that the Indian legislature is ineffective and less trustworthy than the judiciary. This study attempts to take parliaments into the picture and analyse the intricacies between civil society, the judiciary and the legislature. 4. Scholarship on the Indian judiciary has largely been split into two camps: PIL-scholarship engaging with litigation at the High Court and Supreme Court level on the one hand, and legal anthropologists' studies on India's lower judiciary. This paper argues that the Indian women's movement pursues both "everyday" litigation on the level of lower courts and "strategic" litigation on the level of the Indian Supreme Court and High Courts and is most successful when combining these two litigation strategies. 

Annick Masselot | University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Roberta Guerrina | University of Surrey

Walking into the Footprint of EU Law: Unpacking the Gendered Consequences of Brexit




This paper explores the gendered nature of the process of withdrawing from the European Union. Considering the EU is widely accepted as a gender actor, particularly in the context of employment policy, the marginality of these issues in current debates reflects a hierarchy in the value attributed to different policy areas that crystallizes the high-low politics binary. European led initiatives have undoubtedly changed the nature of equality policies in the Member States. Recent studies have also outlined how, and to what extent, EU policy contributes to shifts in gender regimes, gender policy and gender relations at the national level. Women in the UK have benefited greatly from membership of the EU/EEC, thus looking at Brexit as a process provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship, and patterns of influence, between European and national legislation.

Anne Michelle Schneider | Universidade Fernando Pessoa

A (i)legitimidade das decisões judiciais na sociedade da informação




Esta apresentação analisa a perda de legitimidade das decisões judiciais na sociedade da informação. Para tanto, parte do estudo do sistema de justiça criminal, especialmente dos padrões de decisões judiciais em crimes passionais e o seu reflexo na legitimidade destas decisões, tendo em vista o fenômeno da ampla publicidade, divulgação e manipulação das notícias nos diversos meios de comunicação, em que se incluem as redes sociais, tão em evidência na sociedade da informação. Dentro da pesquisa de mestrado em criminologia, este trabalho é parte de um esforço para compreender o produto do sistema criminal e as perspectivas da sociedade diante do que vem sendo veiculado nas mídias. Para tanto, como objeto de estudo, foram analisadas, além das notícias veiculadas, decisões judicias em crimes passionais praticados sobretudo contra vítimas pertencentes a grupos considerados vulneráveis, em particular contra mulheres. O estudo foi realizado entre janeiro de 2015 e janeiro de 2018. Foram realizadas pesquisas documentais de notícias veiculadas, de decisões judiciais, realizadas entrevistas tanto com profissionais que atuam diretamente no sistema criminal (juízes, promotores de justiça, advogados e policiais), como com a própria sociedade, especialmente mulheres, e realizado 1 estudo de caso. Os dados coletados são fundamentais para entender o fenômeno da perda da legitimidade de decisões desse cariz, produto de um sistema que em termos estatísticos é predominantemente masculino e que privilegia, em grande medida, também o sexo masculino. Ao mesmo tempo, decisões com maior evidência de privilégio têm sido amplamente veiculadas em todos os meios de comunicação, informando toda a sociedade e passando a impressão como se fossem uniformes, o que coloca em cheque a própria legitimidade do sistema judicial como um todo, e em uma análise mais profunda, acaba por encurralar a própria democracia.

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