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Legality of abortion has been one of the most controversial political initiatives in modern times, which also impacts the healthcare delivery system especially for women. The debate often devolves into disagreement on either access to services on demand from healthcare providers or service refusal regardless of the circumstances. However, the reality is different from this bipolar conversation. Instead, it varies depending upon location of the potential abortion recipient and a host of factors associated with nation-states. Thus, our purpose is to reveal different legislative protocols that lead to or inhibit availability of this aspect of women's reproductive rights, and to empirically determine what are the underlying series of factors that drive these policy decisions. Together they reveal a complex mosaic of fundamental principles that are rarely considered when formulating public policy. We hope our research across nations will help healthcare providers and policy makers recognize the genealogy of options and opportunities as they continue to debate abortion's provision to women within healthcare systems.
In 2020 the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland held that the legislation that permitted abortion in cases of ‘fatal foetal anomaly’ was an unconstitutional interference with the right to life of the foetus. This article examines the recent decision, which prohibits abortion on the grounds of foetal anomaly, arguing that this decision is part of a broader scheme of Polish and transnational anti-abortion lawfare. This lawfare seeks both to (re)shape Polish law in an anti-abortion mould, and to take advantage of ‘gaps’ in European and international human rights law standards on abortion in order to claim rights compliance for law and policy that, in reality, restricts access to abortion in a manner that is incompatible with international human rights law.
This chapter examines the contested concept of constitutional identity in the comparative constitutional law literature and situates it in the specific jurisdictional context of Nepal. In particular, the analysis concentrates on the foundational function of constitutions and explores the relationship between constitutionalism, identity politics, and constitutional design. Nepal is an ideal case study for exploring the notion of constitutional identity because it sits uneasily within the traditional taxonomies used in the discipline. For instance, Nepal is the only South Asian country that was never colonised and whose legal system does not operate in English, but in the country’s national language, Nepali. This unusual level of historical continuity in the process of nation-building has complicated the construction of constitutional identity, as demonstrated by the embattled historical relationship between the Shah-centered “national monarchy” and democracy, the enduring and controversial position of Hinduism in the constitutional framework, and the patterns of legal discrimination on the basis of identity that persist in the new 2015 constitution.
This paper highlights the intersection of gender, sexuality and class in shaping the ways in which ‘leftover’ women navigate legal and social discrimination. ‘Leftover women’ is a stigmatising term in China that refers to women who do not get married by the time they reach their late twenties. Based on my fieldwork in China with queer and heterosexual ‘leftover’ women, I introduce two strategies of stigma management: ‘buying a licence to be deviant’ and ‘identity-hopping’. The former is a strategy adopted by heterosexual women with financial resources and a desire frequently expressed by queer women. ‘Buying a licence to be deviant’ refers to the strategy of accumulating sufficient financial resources to justify one's choice to be deviant and deal with the legal consequences of the evasion of the population policies. ‘Identity-hopping’ is popular among those with a lower social and financial status, who use the law's labelling function to hop from one stigmatised identity to another as a way to deal with stigma. From an intersectional lens, this paper advances law and society's study of stigma and discrimination by emphasising the hierarchy of stigmatised identities and the strategy of using the law's power of labelling identities to hop from one identity to another. It also demonstrates how the intersection of gender, sexuality and class complicates the ways in which leftover women understand and engage with the law.
This article examines the instrumentalization of women's rights and the transformation of the gender rights regime in the context of democratic backsliding in Turkey. I show how the Islamically rooted Justice and Development Party governments and their allies used women's rights in constructing authoritarian rule and promoting a conservative gender agenda. The governing elites had different needs at different political stages and instrumentalized women's rights to meet those needs. First, they needed to legitimize their rule in a secular context, so they expanded liberal laws on women's rights. Second, in the process of backsliding, they sought to construct and legitimize their conservative ideology, so they reinterpreted existing laws to promote conservative goals. Finally, they wanted to mobilize conservative women in support of the newly authoritarian regime, so they built new institutions and marginalized existing women's NGOs. The article contributes to the literature on regime types and gender rights by shifting the focus from regime type to regime change.
Often relegated to a parallel narrative in Frederick Douglass’s biography, family life played an integral role in his political life. He and his first wife, Anna Murray, formed a partnership defying their upbringing as a slave and as a free woman surrounded by slavery. They implicitly claimed citizenship by demanding the integrity and privacy of their free family, contradicting depictions of African Americans in popular culture and contemporary race science. By doing so, they politicized their household as much as when they provided a haven for militants, the self-emancipated, or extended kin in need. Anna and their daughter, Rosetta, navigated roles of domesticity and activism by serving the movement through support of Douglass, but Rosetta especially endured the conflicts between the patriarchal family and women’s rights ideology endorsed by her father. In his widowhood, Douglass further challenged racial definitions of family by marrying a white woman, Helen Pitts.
Douglass’s women’s rights activism was shaped by his multiple identities and experiences as an enslaved, then free Black man, an abolitionist, an activist and politician, a husband, a father, and a friend. It was also influenced by the various networks through which he navigated. Douglass was both a key figure of antebellum (mostly white) women’s rights meetings and an active participant at the Colored Conventions held regularly throughout the nineteenth century where, alongside abolition and the advocacy of Black rights, the situation of women was often raised in debate. Despite his self-description as a “woman’s-rights-man,” however, the consistency of Douglass’s feminist positions was weakened by the complexities inherent in maintaining a stable reform coalition centered on universal rights before and after the Civil War, when women’s rights were often pitted against racial equality, and the limitations of the early feminist movement, including its all too frequent exclusion of Black women from debates.
Rochester, New York, was home to a diverse community of abolitionists beginning in the 1830s. Douglass met these black and white activists when he lectured there in the early 1840s and moved to Rochester in 1847 when he launch the North Star. He and his family made their home in Rochester for the next quarter century. Douglass’s presence helped strengthen the local abolition movement, attracted national and international activists and fugitive slaves to the city, and assured his place in the women’s rights movement that emerged in the late 1840s. Yet Douglass also contributed to fracturing local and regional antislavery ranks in the 1850s. The speeches Douglass gave in Rochester, his writings in the North Star and his correspondence, especially between 1845 and 1861, reveal the ways that the changing dynamics of abolition and its sister movements were embedded in local circles and circumstances as well as national networks and developments.
Despite the long-established fact that Thai women in old Siam were among those few enjoying the privilege of living in a matrilineal and matrilocal society, Thai laws rarely reflected such characteristics in their texts. Indeed, from the earliest record of Thai history, there were hardly any formal legal rules recognizing the rights of women. Thus, students of Thai family law learn how women gradually strengthened their place among men until today, from having no place to being equal to their male compatriots. All of this exists against the backdrop of a country with a relatively satisfactory track record of women’s rights. This book chapter questions whether the original strong status of women in the past has anything to do with contemporary family law in Thailand by exploring the old family laws and pointing out certain features in the laws which might explain the discrepancies between the legal text and women’s societal status. Moreover, historical analysis may also explain why there is still some unequal treatment of men and women in the contemporary family law system, even when the Constitution directly protects gender equality.
The implementation of the Bill of Rights ordinance galvanized Hong Kong’s women’s rights movement in the early 1990s, even though the colonial government did not necessarily have gender equality in mind when it introduced the legislation. I explore the curious coexistence of the consolidation of women’s rights on the one hand, and the rising popularity of misogynistic and degrading depictions of women in film on the other, with a particular focus on Andrew Lau’s Raped by an Angel (1993; 香港奇案之強姦). I also discuss the influence of the film censorship regime on representations of sexual violence in Hong Kong cinema in this period, especially within what became known as age-restricted “Category III” films.
Pivoting around two sit-ins at the University of Georgia, this article examines student activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the US South. The first sit-in, at the conclusion of the spring 1968 March for Coed Equality, was part of the effort to overcome parietal rules that significantly restricted women's rights but left men relatively untouched. The second occurred in 1972 when the university responded to salacious allegations of immorality in women's residence halls by replacing progressive residential education programming with the policing of student behavior. This article centers student efforts for women's rights, demonstrates how students and administrators shifted tactics in reaction to external stimuli, and explores the repercussions of challenging the entrenched patriarchal power structure. In so doing, it joins the growing literature complicating understandings of student activism in the era by focusing attention away from the most famous and extreme cases.
The suffrage and birth control movements are often treated separately in historical scholarship. This essay brings together new research to demonstrate their close connections. Many suffragists became active in the birth control movement just before and after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The roots of suffrage arguments were deeply embedded in the same ideas that were foundational to the birth control movement: bodily freedom and notions of what constituted full and participatory citizenship. Beginning in the 1840s, women's rights reformers directly connected the vote to a broad range of economic and political issues, including the concept of self-ownership. Wide-ranging debates about individual autonomy remained present in women's rights rhetoric and were then repeated in the earliest arguments for legalizing birth control. The twentieth-century birth control movement, like the suffrage movement before it (which had largely focused only on achieving the vote for white women), would then grapple with competing goals of restrictive racist and eugenic arguments for contraception alongside the emphasis on achieving emancipation for all women.
Society thinks, talks, and communicates in ways which are inherently different now from the pre-Internet era. Hashtags in particular have transformed community formation around a particular topic, issue, or goal. A new and relatively under-studied phenomenon is that of ‘hashtag hijacking’, where individuals or groups use a particular hashtag to draw attention to arguments and narratives which undermine or oppose the hashtag's objective. Most of the current literature looks at hashtag hijacking as a positive outlet for counter-discourse/counter-narratives to challenge dominant groups. This study, however, looks at the ‘dark side’ of hashtag hijacking, where groups use trolling tactics similar to the Alt_Right to reinforce misogynistic views. The hijacking of three hashtags is explored in this study: #notacriminal, #women2drive, and #mydressmychoice, to explore feminist theories on the role of social media in a ‘public space’. Does Twitter function as one common public sphere where inequalities are so deeply embedded that minority voices have no hope of being heard? Or does Twitter function as a meeting place for multiple competing public spheres, thus allowing minority – and in this case feminist – voices to be heard?
While most constitutions today have been revised to contain some commitment to eradicating status discrimination based on gender or sex, true social transformation of gendered power dynamics requires uprooting deeply entrenched inequities that can pull forcefully toward preservation. As a result, most gender-responsive constitutions struggle to accomplish their stated goals. This analysis uses Zimbabwe as an illustrative case study to show how the first period of a gender-responsive constitution can be critical for the reform process. The first period will not be equally beneficial, or even necessarily beneficial, for all the tasks of a gender-responsive constitution, but it has some potential to disrupt the status quo. By viewing relevant elements of the constitution within this context, we can begin to set expectations and develop strategies that maximize the work of individuals and institutions working to realize women’s equality through constitutional protections.
Domestic violence is the predominant form of violence against women in most countries in Africa and Latin America. Scholars have theorized the adoption of domestic violence laws and policies in both regions. However, policy implementation is understudied and under theorized. Therefore, we compare how international organizations and women's nongovernmental organizations have influenced the implementation of domestic violence policies by police officers in Liberia and Nicaragua. We introduce the concept of the transnational implementation process and describe how international organizations and women's organizations have employed training, institutional and policy restructuring, and monitoring to influence police behavior at the street level. The effects of these strategies have been conditional on the political environment. We identify two patterns of international and domestic influence on street-level implementation: internationally led and domestically supported implementation in Liberia, with domestically led and internationally supported implementation in Nicaragua.
The Epilogue/Conclusion explores some of the contemporary outcomes flowing from the mid-twentieth century developments investigated in Boundaries of Belonging, before providing a summary of the main arguments presented in this study.
International conventions and domestic laws have been enacted to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women worldwide. However, these progressive policy initiatives have faced opposition in contentious contexts where policy rivals have contested their creation and implementation. Existing scholarship focuses primarily on progressive networks that have led to policy advances, such as violence against women (VAW) policies, while emerging literature has noted their limited impact and implementation. However, there is scant attention paid to one major underlying cause of limited impact and problematic implementation: that there is sustained opposition to these policies by policy rivals that resist and undermine progressive policies. We identify opponents and entrenched opposition to VAW laws in Mexico and Nicaragua in the 1990s and 2010s. We also identify how these opponents leverage ties with the state and utilise ‘family discourse’, framing progressives as anti-family, as strategies and mechanisms for stunting and even reversing VAW laws.
This chapter demonstrates the popularity of Queen Victoria in women's rights campaigning, with a particular focus on the period from 1832 to 1876. It was during this period that a range of influential women's rights activists, including William Johnson Fox, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Harriet Taylor, and John Stuart Mill featured Victoria in their campaigning. The chapter discusses why so many activists found Victoria compelling and how they leveraged her in their arguments for women's emancipation.