Author Archives: AG

DTES Women’s Centre Gift Drive

The Women’s Caucus is collecting gifts for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre from now until December 13. WC was told by an administrator at the Centre that mothers and teenagers often go through the holidays without receiving any gifts so we would love to concentrate on giving gifts to women and teenagers (but children’s toys are  welcome too)!

When: Wednesday, November 27th –Friday, December 13th
Where: Allard Hall (1822 East Mall), on the main floor by reception
What: Please donate a new, unwrapped gift for a child, teenager or woman in need—gifts for teens and women are particularly welcome

  • Wish List for Women:
    • PJs, Blankets
    • Robes, Towels, Sheet sets
    • Mitts, Gloves, Scarves, Socks, Underwear
    • Toiletries, Make-up, Bath Kits
    • Candles, Candy
    • Gift Certificates
  • Wish List for Teens:
    • Gift Certificates (Best Buy, Future Shop)
    • Toys and games


Click here to view/join the Facebook event.

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Lectures Captured – Fall 2013

This term, we have been experimenting with the lecture capture system at Allard Hall, and have a number of our lectures now available on video. As you will see, we are still working out some kinks, including issues with the audio cutting in and out. Hopefully with some practice we’ll get it all down to a science. In the meanwhile, see below to catch a lecture you missed, or re-listen to one of your favourites!

1 October 2013 – Corinne Arthur, Special Projects Coordinator, Surrey Women’s Centre
“We are SMART: A Regional Response to Violence Against Women and Girls”

8 October 2013 – Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
“Child and Family Poverty and Public Policy: A Women’s Issue?”

15 October 2013 – Judith Daniluk, Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology UBC
“Careers and Motherhood: Can Women Really Have It All?”

22 October 2013 – Claire Young, Professor, UBC Faculty of Law
“Taxing Times for Lesbians and Gay Men: 20 Years Later”

29 October 2013 – Annie Rochette, Associate Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal
“The Gender Dimensions of Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation: Silos & Possibilities”

5 November 2013 – Melina Buckley, Vancouver Lawyer & Member of the Equality Effects’ 160 Girls Legal Team
“The 160 Girls Project: Using the Law to End Violence Against Girls in Kenya and Malawi”

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Upcoming Lecture: Sarah Rauch on “Mothers and Babies Together Inside”

“THE SCOPE OF SECURITY AND EQUALITY: Mothers and Babies Together Inside”

Join us for this lecture on Tuesday, 19 November @ 12:30 in Allard Hall room 123.

A recent question in BC Supreme Court posed by our UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic with co-counsel at Fasken Martineau asks whether the scope of rights protected under our Charter includes the rights of babies to remain with their mothers in provincial jail, and the rights of mothers to remain with their babies despite being incarcerated.

The case challenges a decision made by BC Corrections to close a program that provided for mothers and babies to remain together inside Allouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW), provided that there were no child protection concerns. Until it was cancelled in 2008, the practice of housing mothers and babies together inside had run since the 1970’s under the direction of wardens at the former Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women and ACCW, and previous to that at Twin Maples institution. There are similar practices elsewhere in the world.

The cancellation of the program, we argue, infringes upon the rights and freedoms of both the mothers and the babies who were denied the opportunity to remain together at ACCW, including having an adverse effect on Indigenous women and babies, given the overrepresentation of Indigenous women in jail.

This talk will be an opportunity to hear about the case, ask questions, and to encourage discussion.

Sarah Rauch
Director and Supervising Lawyer, Indigenous Community Legal Clinic

Professor Rauch graduated from UBC Law in 2001, then articled with the Legal Services Society and worked as an associate with Conroy & Company doing prisoners advocacy and criminal defence litigation before beginning her own practice in Vancouver in early 2006. Her interests are in rights and freedoms and the representation of people with challenges that place them at a disadvantage when negotiating the legal system.

View the event poster (pdf).

View the full lecture schedule.

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“Marriage is More than Just a Piece of Paper: Feminist Critiques of Same Sex Marriage”

UBC Chair in Feminist Legal Studies Susan Boyd recently published a paper on feminist critiques of same sex marriage. See below for the abstract and a link to download the full text in pdf format.

This article reviews feminist critiques of same sex marriage and analyzes how marriage as a socio-legal institution relates to inequality based on factors such as sex, race and class. The article first identifies how the legalization of same sex marriage can be viewed as a positive step in the quest for equality and recognition of lesbians and gay men. It then describes the legal and statistical trends in relation to marriage in Canada, as one of the first countries to legalize same sex marriage. The heart of the article discusses the key feminist critiques of both marriage and same sex marriage, drawing on an international survey of primarily English language literature. It considers why these critiques have been understated in the debates on same sex marriage and reviews empirical studies on the views of lesbians and gay men on marriage. While acknowledging that legal marriage can offer important rights to some couples, the conclusion suggests alternatives to placing marriage at the center of the lesbian and gay movement for equality and recognition.

Download the full paper from the Social Science Research Network.


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Statement on the Rape Chants at UBC

Statement of the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies on the Rape Chants at UBC

The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies (CFLS) is a research centre at the Faculty of Law, UBC.  Our purpose is to foster research, teaching and collaboration with the women’s movement on matters relating to law and feminism.  Our faculty members research and teach in a wide variety of areas relating to law and sex equality, including sexual violence and the law.

We are outraged that some members of the UBC community encouraged one another to repeat chants that trivialize sexual violence and colonialism.  We are saddened that this behavior was apparently repeated over many years and was considered by those who led these programs to be an enjoyable part of their introduction to university and to one another.

We are encouraged that the UBC administration has pledged to take these events seriously and to consider their implications not only for the programs in which they occurred but also for the entire university.  As an initial contribution to that end, we offer the following analysis and suggestions:

Sexual violence against women and girls is unfortunately commonplace.  While the exact incidence of sexual assault is difficult to measure, a conservative estimate is that at least 1/3 of women will be sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lifetime.  Rates of sexual violence are highest for adolescents and young women.

Reporting rates for sexual assault are low.  Official estimates suggest that no more than 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police.  When women do report they too often face police who treat them with suspicion and decline to lay charges, or prosecutors who refuse to proceed without corroborating evidence.  These and other systemic barriers mean that less than 1% of sexual assaults will result in a conviction or other legal disposition.

The women’s anti-violence movement has fought for decades for reform at the level of law and policy, but also to expose and counter the rape culture that relies on widespread impunity for sexual violence to normalize and trivialize it.  Specifically, the sexual assault of teenage girls is too often dismissed as “statutory rape,” only a technical crime rather than an act of violence rooted in inequalities of sex and age.  Men charged with such offences continue to argue in their defence that they believed the girls were older, ushering in the same old stereotypes based on young women’s appearance, dress and behavior.  At the same time, girls are eroticized through being classified as “jailbait” or, as in the UBC chants, as “tight.”

The basic principles of Canadian sexual assault law are clear.  Canadian law defines sexual assault as any sexual contact with a person who does not consent to that contact, or who lacks the capacity to consent.  Non-consent is measured according to the state of mind of the victim – if she does not want the sexual touching to take place, there is no consent.  There is no requirement of physical or verbal resistance; passivity is not consent in law.  The defendant must point to a communication of affirmative consent by words or conduct.  Consent must be contemporaneous; it cannot be given in advance.

The law also recognizes that where women lack the capacity to consent, for example through intoxication or disability, the abuse of a position of power, or where they are below a specified age (which varies depending on the age of their partner), this is also a sexual assault.  Sexual assault is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

We believe that all university students should be given a basic education that includes this information.  Students, and especially student leaders, also need to be reminded that many of the incoming students they “welcome” have already had direct experience with sexual violence.  We believe that students should be encouraged to develop a sexuality based in empathy, respect and non-violence rather than domination, conquest or humiliation.

UBC has a legal obligation to provide students with a learning and living environment that is free from harassment and discrimination.  Rape chants and racist chants are a form of discriminatory harassment.  UBC must:

  • Draw from existing feminist expertise here at UBC, in a variety of disciplines, to understand and respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment;
  • Provide adequate funding and support to those groups and programs already working to combat sexual violence and racism on campus, including SASC;
  • Ask those groups and individuals what they need and where money should be spent;
  • Offer education to all incoming students, as part of orientation, on sexual violence in its legal and social context;
  • Train student leaders on how to offer events that are inclusive and non-discriminatory;
  • Focus on prevention and accountability, not just counseling and victim services; and
  • Recognize that the normalization of sexual violence is endemic and visible, rather than exceptional and hidden.

We appreciate the additional analysis of these events, and in particular of the racist Pocahontas chant, by the First Nations Studies Program and the Institute for Race, Gender and Social Justice and offer this statement in solidarity with their efforts.

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