Disabling Citizenship: Civil Death for Women in the 1990s?

Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 49-76, 1995

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/79

29 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008  

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School

Jenny Jane Morgan

Melbourne Law School

Date Written: July, 23 2008

Abstract

This article addresses two barriers to women's participation in the legal system which, it is argued, impact negatively on women's citizenship by limiting their access to justice. While the notion of citizenship has generally been seen as a gender-neutral phenomenon, feminist scholarship has revealed that many aspects of citizenship are in fact highly gendered. Using the historical notion of 'civil' death, the rule by which felons were prevented from bringing civil proceedings once convicted, the authors argue that contemporary barriers have the same effect.

The article commences with an exploration of the gendered nature of the Australian legal aid system, looking at the allocation of legal aid funding across types of law, and by gender. This demonstrates a clear priority given to defending - mostly men - charged with criminal offences, at the expense of funding the types of issues that are more likely to affect women, such as family law cases or other civil actions. The second part focuses on limitation of actions legislation and considers the example of claims for childhood sexual abuse which are often rendered effectively unavailable by the operation of the apparently prosaic (and gender neutral) doctrine of limitation periods.

Keywords: feminist legal theory, legal aid, torts, limitation periods, citizenship, gendered harms

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K30

Suggested Citation

Graycar, Reg and Morgan, Jenny Jane, Disabling Citizenship: Civil Death for Women in the 1990s? (July, 23 2008). Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 49-76, 1995; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/79. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1170683

Reg Graycar (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Jenny Jane Morgan

Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

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