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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd October 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd October 2018

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

Equality

Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey

Failure to Protect Women from Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment both in and out of the work place has been topical particularly over the last twelve months since the rise of the Me Too movement in late 2017. A committee of MPs however have now refocused their criticism on the government’s failure to protect women and girls in public places from sexual harassment.

The women and equalities committee have advised that the government have been seen to support women from overseas but are failing to do the same for the British female public. The committee is urging action to change attitudes towards the issue claiming that the government’s “foot appears to be almost entirely off the pedal” when it comes to tackling harassment, with ministers risking giving the impression that they consider the issue “too trivial to address.”

Whilst the committee has applauded and welcomed the introduction of new legislation proposals regarding issues such as upskirting and the introduction of prosecution for those who post pornographic content online by way of revenge, they also claim that not enough is being done to change attitudes towards women, something that the committee is adamant is at the heart of the problem.

Their proposals regarding changing attitudes include the introduction of tighter regulations surrounding pornography, a change in the national curriculum and tougher rules for the media with regards to ‘the sexual objectification’ of women.

For more information, see The Independent, The Telegraph, and the Women and Equalities Committee.

Criminal

Reported by Paige Waters

Trafficking Victim Rewarded Substantial Damages from Home Office

A woman was trafficked into Britain to be a prostitute when she was targeted in 2009 from Lithuania. She is being identified as ZV. It has been reported that she was beaten, injected with heroin and forced into prostitution for eight years by an abusive partner.

The Home Office then proceeded to lock her up in an immigration centre. Following this, the High Court have ruled that she is entitled to substantial damages.

The case is significant in demonstrating the predicament of trafficking victims who sometimes end up being imprisoned.

ZV has commented on the case stating that her former partner – identified as DE – drugged her and brought her to the UK. When she arrived, she was imprisoned to a house, “forced into prostitution and raped repeatedly”. The only times she was permitted to leave the house is when DE would make her shoplift which led to her having five convictions throughout 2010 to 2012.

When ZV was imprisoned, she began a relationship with another woman and they both “ran away together” to Lithuania. However, ZV was brought back to the UK when she was spotted by DE’s associates in Lithuania who proceeded to kid-nap and gang rape her. She was held until DE arrived and threatened to murder her unless she returned to the UK.

When arriving back in the UK, ZV was held in captivity and forced to be a prostitute for another four years until DE was deported in 2017.

Sitting in the High Court, Mr Justice Garnham said ZV was entitled to substantial damages for the 45 days’ unlawful detention rather than her entire period at Yarl’s Wood. Garnham stated “there was an obligation on the secretary of state in my judgement, urgently to take the steps necessary to effect her release. I can detect no such urgency. On the contrary, the impression with which I am left is of a marked reluctance to complete the necessary process”.

Read more here.

Health and Medicine

Reported by Zara Smith

A plan to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland

In the United Kingdom, abortion is legal and available to those who require it. At the moment, abortion is not legalised in Northern Ireland, unless for exceptional medical and mental health circumstances.

Labour MP, Diana Johnson, proposed a bill to legalise abortion and it passed its first hearing in the commons by 208 votes to 123. The next hearing on the bill is set for the 23rd November. The bill would scrap the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, however it is unlikely to become law in its current form without government backing. The Offences Against the Persons Act made abortion illegal in the UK except when there is a risk to the life or health of the mother. The Abortion Act 1967 reformed this act and gave us exemptions to the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 to legalise abortions, but it has never applied in Northern Ireland.

There have been several UK parliamentary attempts to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland, while its own devolved Parliament is suspended. In June, a majority of Supreme Court judges said the ban on terminations in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality needed “radical reconsideration”. Attitudes over abortions have changed over the years and the law does not seem to reflect this change in social attitude.

Johnson stated the aim of her bill was “to stop women facing the criminal courts for decisions about their own bodies” and added that “The law needs updating to represent the changing attitudes in our society”.

The UK Government has so far tried to resist the pressure on reforming the law, however human rights laws have been suggested to be incompatible with the law around abortions.

For more information, see here.

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