Deep cultural shifts required: open letter from 500 legal women calls for reform of way judges are appointed and disciplined

In an open letter to Attorney-General Christian Porter, about 500 women working in the law from across Australia have sought changes to the way judges are disciplined and appointed.

Source: Deep cultural shifts required: open letter from 500 legal women calls for reform of way judges are appointed and disciplined

To all men who are in on the ‘open secret’: you have failed us

In its first statement announcing the findings of the inquiry, the high court identified six recommendations that it intended to implement. Two of these were starkly oriented towards “victim responsibility”; the first being that the induction materials provided to associates should “make sure to cover material directly relevant to their specialised role”; and secondly, that “the court should make clear to associates that their duties do not extend to an obligation to attend social functions”.

What about making it clear to judges not to inappropriately touch and harass their associates at social functions? To police the conduct of their colleagues at social functions?

The high court then announced that it had invited 100 former associates that worked at the high court during Heydon’s tenure to share any relevant experiences.

What about inviting the judges and other senior members of the court during that time to explain what they knew, if anything, about the alleged “open secret” and what they did or did not do about it? Surely that is the next step in order to identify what systemic problems exist.

Heaven knows it is not just a woman’s job to speak out – we have enough to do.

Source: To all men who are in on the ‘open secret’: you have failed us | Sexual harassment | The Guardian

Former Justice Dyson Heydon sexually harassed 6 women, High Court finds

An independent inquiry has found Justice Dyson Heydon sexually harassed six young women as they worked as judge’s associates in the High Court of Australia.

The investigation was prompted after Josh Bornstein, Principal lawyer with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, wrote to the Chief Justice and the Chief Executive of the Court in March 2019 notifying them of complaints of sexual harassment against Mr Heydon, as well as raising concerns about inadequate procedures within the High Court for addressing judicial misconduct.

Mr Bornstein said the investigation had unveiled a pattern of predatory behaviour and sexual harassment over many years by Mr Heydon towards young female associates he employed and highlighted a gap in both addressing judicial misconduct and protecting their employees from that misconduct.

“At the time that this sexual harassment occurred, Dyson Heydon was in his 60s, a conservative judge, a prominent Christian and a married man,” Mr Bornstein said.

Source: Former Justice Dyson Heydon sexually harassed 6 women, High Court finds – Lawyers Weekly

https://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/about/media-centre/media-statements/2020/investigation-upholds-sexual-harassment-complaints-high-court-judge-dyson-heydon/

 

Reports of ‘revenge porn’ skyrocketed during lockdown, we must stop blaming victims for it

Coronavirus has meant more time at home, more time online and more image-based abuse.

Perpetration rates were highest among men in their 20s and 30s, with one in three men aged 20 to 29 years disclosing they had engaged in these behaviours.

In Australia, we have specific laws across the country criminalising image-based abuse, except in Tasmania.

If you’re a victim of image-based abuse, you can document the evidence and report to police, and through the eSafety Commissioner’s online portal to request the images are removed. In over 90% of cases, the eSafety Commissioner is successful in image removal.

Source: Reports of ‘revenge porn’ skyrocketed during lockdown, we must stop blaming victims for it

Revenge porn in Australia: the law is only as effective as the law enforcement

Revenge porn, known more formally as image-based abuse, is the act of sharing or threatening to share naked or sexually explicit pictures or video without the depicted person’s consent, as well as taking explicit images or videos of people without their knowledge.

Legislation has been introduced to criminalise this behaviour in every state and territory besides Tasmania. These laws are some of the most comprehensive in the world yet they seem to have done little to reduce instances of image-based abuse.

Australia may have revolutionised the way image-based abuse is treated legally but cultural change seems to be lagging behind.

[F]ewer than half of Australians even know it is a criminal offence to share intimate images without consent, and victims are often still blamed for their abuse.

Source: Revenge porn in Australia: the law is only as effective as the law enforcement | Society | The Guardian

Harassment fears as students post extreme pornography in online lectures

Students are posting extreme pornography in online lectures, prompting academics to warn that the switch to digital learning in the coronavirus pandemic will increase harassment at UK universities.

Source: Harassment fears as students post extreme pornography in online lectures | Higher education | The Guardian

US McDonald’s workers file $500m sexual harassment lawsuit

Two McDonald’s employees in Florida have filed a $500m (£400m) class action lawsuit, accusing the fast food giant of fostering “systemic sexual harassment”.

It is the most recent in a series of sexual harassment allegations waged against the company, including another class action lawsuit in Michigan launched in November 2019.

Source: US McDonald’s workers file $500m sexual harassment lawsuit – BBC News

Inmates At New Jersey Women’s Prison Have Been Sexually Abused For Years

Inmates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment that included them being forced to engage in sexual acts with staff to avoid punishment or in exchange for items like cigarettes. Most of the incidents involved senior officials who had worked at the facility for many years, according to a detailed report released Monday by the Department of Justice.

If a prisoner reports allegations of sexual abuse, they undergo a physical examination while in handcuffs and shackles, are strip-searched and then moved to the maximum-security compound where they are held for up to 72 hours in solitary confinement until they are interviewed. They are then likely to be moved from their unit or their job instead of the alleged abuser being moved away from them, which the NJDOC has the authority to do. This entire process is viewed as “retaliatory, punitive, and traumatic” by the inmates, which could dissuade victims to speak out about abuse, the report said.

Source: Inmates At New Jersey Women’s Prison Have Been Sexually Abused For Years: DOJ | HuffPost Australia

The legal solution to prevent sexual harassment at work

With more than a quarter of women reporting experiencing sexual harassment at work, new legislation could go a long way to address inappropriate behaviour.

Anti-discrimination laws (ADL) have been prohibiting sexual harassment in workplaces for over three decades. However, sexual harassment still remains prevalent, with rates of the offences increasing or increasing rates of self-reporting.

ADL is limited because of four main features: the rule it imposes is negative prohibition rather than a positive duty to prevent; it is enforceable by individual victims; any of the enforcement is primarily through a private, confidential conciliation process and all the remedies granted are ordinarily individual and compensatory in nature.

Source: The legal solution to prevent sexual harassment at work – Lawyers Weekly