Tag: rape

Bioethics Blogs

Welcome to Cleveland. Please Set Your Watch Back 100 Years. July 14, 2016 The Republican Nat…

July 14, 2016

As anyone who listens to my commentaries or reads some of my opinion pieces likely suspects, I tend to fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum. That said, next week I will definitely be watching the political three-ring circus that is the Republican National Convention.

This election cycle has been one for the history books, with the Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan bucking tradition and defying expectations by selecting opinionated billionaire Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. More importantly, the 112 members of the Republican National Committee Platform Committee have drafted a staunchly conservative political platform that outlines their vision for America. This platform will now be presented to the delegates of the Republican National Convention for approval on Monday.

That the platform itself is politically conservative should come as no surprise, particularly as the Republican Party has become increasingly beholden to right-wing ideologues and organizations like the Tea Party, the Family Research Council, and the National Rifle Association. I expect the Democratic Party Platform to be equally progressive, particularly as the Clinton campaign struggles to recruit the disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders.

What’s surprising about the GOP’s 2016 platform is this: it is an ultra-reactionary platform that runs counter to a century of progress in civil rights, ignores some of the basic premises of our Nation’s founding and previous Republican philosophies, and outwardly ignores conclusive data on public health and climate change.

Consider, for example, the numerous and tone-deaf provisions that target the LGBT community. Coming exactly one month after a single gunman killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, and despite claims by the Platform Committee that it didn’t not want to engage in “identity politics”, social conservatives who were still bristling over Supreme Court rulings like United States v.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Ireland Abortion Ban Violated Woman’s Human Rights, U.N. Panel Says

By Genevieve Lewis

In early June, the United Nations called on Ireland to amend its constitution in order to change the current laws regarding abortion, which were deemed a violation of human rights. The UN faces a deeply political struggle to change Ireland’s strict abortion laws because of the country’s Catholic roots. The United Nations called Ireland’s laws “cruel,” “inhumane,” and “degrading” to the women who suffer because of them.

Moreover, the UN is pushing for the compensation of Amanda Mellet, a 42 year-old who was forced to travel out of the country in 2011 in order to terminate her non-viable pregnancy, because she experienced immense emotional and psychological distress. Doctors induced a 36 hour labor period in which Ms. Mellet gave birth to a stillborn baby girl, and was forced, due to financial reasons, to return to Ireland only 12 hours after the procedure. To make matters worse, three weeks later, the fetus’s ashes were unexpectedly delivered to Ms. Mellet, and afterwards she was denied state bereavement counseling under Irish law.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee reported, “she was subjected to a gender-based stereotype that women should continue their pregnancies regardless of the circumstances, their needs and wishes, because their primary role is to be mothers and self-sacrificing caregivers.”

In 2012, 31 year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar died from complications in miscarriage because her doctors refused to preform an emergency abortion, subsequently causing international outrage.

Currently, abortion in Ireland in only permitted if the pregnancy proves to be fatal to the pregnant mother. Pro-choice advocates and organizations are lobbying to broaden the exceptions to include rape, incest, inevitable miscarriage, and fatal fetal abnormality.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Crime and Healing

El Jones asks us to think about incarceration in terms of health, not punishment.

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I just got off the phone with a man in Quebec – a lifer – who has recently been transferred from a maximum security prison to a medium security prison. This means that he can have more freedom of movement, more access to programs, and more opportunities for interaction with other inmates. It also means that he has two weeks to find a job. If he doesn’t have a job by then, he will be locked in his cell during work hours.

He applied for a number of jobs that weren’t available – the job postings were outdated. He applied to work in the prison hospital, but he was turned down because he was perceived as a “risk.” He applied to work as a range cleaner (sweeping and mopping housing areas) and as a food server.

The one job he doesn’t want is a job with CORCAN, which he describes as a “sweatshop.” CORCAN is Correctional Services Canada employment “training” program. CORCAN work mostly involves mass manufacturing of such things as mattresses, pillows, blankets, office furniture, and other products that are sold primarily to federal government departments.

A former member of the inmate committee at a federal institution, describes CORCAN jobs as exploitative. A prisoner who works for CORCAN will be working in a highly supervised environment, in a job that offers no real skills training, without labour benefits or incentives, and where there are quotas that have to be met.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Burnout and self-care for bioethicists

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Like many bioethicists, I often have to research disturbing parts of American culture for various writing projects. Topics like rape, gun violence, sexism, and medical racism are often times the subjects of my scholarly articles and blogs. Many times, I have to research how these topics play out in our everyday lives, forcing me to research popular and heart-breaking news stories such as the Orlando night club shooting or the recent Stanford rape case. Because of technology, social media, and the always handy cell phone, my research often requires me to read or watch the testimonies of witnesses to heinous crimes, crime scene photos, and/or videos of murders. During my research I encounter articles written by hateful and bigoted people, but as a good researcher, I have to read their vile words as well. Sometimes my research hits a little too close to home and prompts me to think about the possibility of these disturbing occurrences happening to me, my family, or my friends. While doing research on these kinds of topics, I, understandably can feel frustrated with the world, angry, sad, hopeless, and especially discouraged. My current research project on victim-blaming has me feeling especially angry and discouraged right now, but it is also forcing me to think about how I can take care of my emotional and mental health so that I can continue what I believe to be meaningful work.

Medical educators often teach medical students and physicians how to prevent burnout, how to recognize burnout, and how to treat burnout.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

UN calls on Ireland to change abortion law

The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that Ireland’s abortion laws are a violation of human rights.

In a controversial judgement – the outcome of a case involving dual Irish-US citizen who had to travel to the UK to terminate her non-viable pregnancy – the Committee called on the government to allow women free access to abortion, labelling extant laws “cruel” and “inhumane”. The Committee also asked authorities to compensate the woman, 42-year-old Amanda Mellet, for the distress and trauma she experienced.

Ms. Mallet travelled to the UK for an abortion in late 2011. She told the Committee she experienced immense emotional and psychological distress as a result of having to go abroad for the procedure.

The Committee called on the government to reform the abortion law to protect women in the future:

“…the State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that health-care providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions”.

Amnesty International welcomed the ruling, and renewed their campaign for legislative reform.

“The Irish government must take its head out of the sand and see that it has to tackle this issue,” said Amnesty’s head of Ireland, Colm O’Gorman.

Yet some see the ruling as deeply political, and an attempt to bully the country into legislative change. Writing for The American Spectator, Daniel J.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Indonesia Approves Castration for Sex Offenders Who Prey on Children

May 26, 2016

(New York Times) – The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, signed a decree on Wednesday authorizing chemical castration for convicted child sex offenders and requiring those released on parole to wear electronic monitoring devices. The new punishment comes in response to the brutal gang rape and murder in April of a 14-year-old girl on her way home on the island of Sumatra. Seven teenage boys were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime, which prompted national outrage and revived previous calls for chemical castration as a punishment against child sex offenders.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Indonesia legalises chemical castration for sex offenders

A protest against sexual violence in Jakarta earlier this month.    

Chemical castration will be a sentencing option for judge in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo has signed a decree authorizing this penalty for convicted child sex offenders. Those who have been released on parole must wear electronic monitoring devices.  

The announcement follows outrage over the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in Sumatra when she was on her way home from school. Mr Joko said that:

“The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators”.

“These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order. So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.”

Chemical castration is an increasingly popular response to sexual abuse around the world. However, it is a controversial remedy.

“Protecting children from sexual abuse requires a complex and carefully calibrated set of responses, including an effective social services system, school-based efforts to prevent and detect abuse, treatment services for people at risk of abusing children and criminal justice measures that focus on prevention,” Heather Barr, of Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times. “Chemical castration on its own addresses none of these needs and medical interventions should be used, if at all, only as part of a skilled treatment program, not as a punishment.”

“Chemical castration is not the solution,” Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, a member of the national assembly, told a press conference: “in most cases, pedophiles are not purely driven by sexual desire, but by power and dominance”.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Sexual Harm and Criminal Law

Elaine Craig  cautions against proposed alternatives to the criminal justice system for dealing with sexual violence that fail to address the underlying social problems of misogyny, gender hierarchy, and sex and gender discrimination.

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The current legal response to the social problem of sexual harm is located primarily in the criminal law. As recent media attention and public discourse has revealed, this is a system with many flaws. Primary among them is that the criminal justice process remains inhospitable, if not inhumane, to sexual assault complainants. In The Inhospitable Court I examine, through the use of trial transcripts, the ways in which the process of the criminal trial itself – its rituals – creates hierarchical conditions that can further traumatize those who turn to the state to respond to their experiences of non-consensual sex. These rituals include the scripted form of communication demanded of complainants, the physical setting of the courtroom itself, and the highly particularized manner in which complainants are required to recount their experiences.  Unfortunately, the impact of these hierarchical rituals is compounded by the reality that assessments of the credibility of complainants continue to be informed by gender based myths and stereotypes.

Self Portrait, Trauma Scars (2013) by Jane Fox

Given the inadequacies in our current legal response to sexual harm, increased attention to developing alternatives to the criminal justice system is unsurprising. Proposed alternative responses include a diverse spectrum of options including specialized sexual assault courts, restorative justice approaches, increased emphasis on the role of civil law as an avenue through which to provide survivors with access to justice and, in a recent post on Impact Ethics, a reconceptualization of sexual violence as a public health issue.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A Public Health Model for Sexual Assault?

Tom Vinci proposes a public health model for dealing with sexual assault.

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I have read that only 33/1000 cases of sexual assault – rape and sexual interference of other kinds — are reported to the police and only six of these reported cases go to trial. No wonder. The costs to the victim (most often a woman) in carrying forward a complaint are significant. These costs include possible police skepticism when non-testimonial evidence is not available (as is frequently the case), as well as verbal and social-media attacks from supporters of the assailant before, during and after the trial. Moreover, providing testimony and listening to testimony from others about the humiliating and intimate events involved in the assault can be a difficult experience. Attacks from a zealous defence attorney during trial and, if there is an acquittal, attacks on her character and motives after trial can also be emotionally and socially damaging. It is a wonder that anyone comes forward to report sexual assault.

How can we do better? Any just system should have certain features: victims should be heard and their complaints should be recorded; perpetrators should receive swift and certain consequences for their actions; perpetrators should be treated humanely and offered treatment options. But there is a catch: any system having the feature of swift and certain consequences is one that increases the risk of convicting innocent people beyond acceptable levels. To compensate for this, the consequences must be milder than lengthy terms of imprisonment, but still ensure accountability and deterrence.

Photo Credit: n.karim

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The discernment of knowledge: sexualized violence in the Mennonite church by Stephanie Krehbiel

This case begins with an unsettling email. It came from a powerful man of the church, a Mennonite executive, and it was a response to an email from me, in which I told this leader that he was perpetuating violence against queer people.

I was an ethnographer writing about the Mennonite movement for queer justice, and I also was a Mennonite, at least by background. In the interviews I was doing with LGBTQ Mennonites around the country, I kept hearing the word violence: rhetorical violence, spiritual violence, institutional violence, systemic violence. The violence they spoke of was often quiet and subtle, invisible to many. It happened in the wording of denominational statements, in all the ways in which LGBTQ identities were cast as worldly distractions from more important church work; it happened in families, inherited patterns of sexual shame that thrived on the specter of a monstrous sexual outsider. It happened most particularly in the process of what Mennonites call “discernment.”

Mennonites have little in the way of doctrine. What they do have are committees, some of which are called “discernment groups.” Listening committees are a regular feature of Mennonite discernment, particularly in the realm of LGBTQ people, who in the course of the forty-year history of their organizing within Mennonite contexts have often been invited to “share their stories” in front of appointed listeners. I will return to discernment, but for the moment, I will say two things about it.

One, I don’t believe I know any LGBTQ Mennonites for whom the word “discernment” fails to produce groans, eyerolls, and other expressions of deep cynicism.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.