Sense and Sensibilities: A Feminist Critique of Legal Interventions Against Sexual Violence

Edinburgh Law Review. 23. 22-51, January 2019

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2019/27

34 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2019

See all articles by Sharon Cowan

Sharon Cowan

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2019

Abstract

Feminists have spent decades trying to reform laws and evidential procedures relating to sexual assault. Using the current Scottish context as a case study, I will argue in this article that while efforts to reform the text of the substantive as well as evidential and procedural aspects of the law have been largely successful, in practice the impact of these reforms has not always been felt. Drawing on contemporary examples from Scotland, and setting these within the broader context of similar problems and arguments in other jurisdictions such as England and Wales, and Canada, I will examine the ways in which the ‘laws on the books’ have not always translated smoothly through to ‘law in action’. Ultimately, I argue that our all too frequent failures to punish sexual violence in a meaningful way suggests that we need to think again about how we deal with issues of sexual violence in contemporary society.

Keywords: sexual assault, rape, Scotland, socio-legal, feminist, law reform, social justice

Suggested Citation

Cowan, Sharon, Sense and Sensibilities: A Feminist Critique of Legal Interventions Against Sexual Violence (January 31, 2019). Edinburgh Law Review. 23. 22-51, January 2019 ; Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2019/27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3429595 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3429595

Sharon Cowan (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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