Students Conference Day: Gender, Race, Intersectionality and Law
Until now, systematic discussions of gender, race and law have received little attention from Dutch law faculties, especially at the undergraduate teaching level. At the same time, public calls for discussion of these issues increases rapidly.
The internet has enabled movements against gender-based harassment (#MeToo) and race-based police brutality (#BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName) to the connect on an international scale, while local organizers have continued to call attention to what makes each of these movements unique to a given place. Legal instruments against unequal treatment based on race or gender have existed for decades at both the national and international level, but don’t seem to be sufficient or adequate to address continuing inequalities.
In order to introduce these topics to students, Honours College Law (HC Law) hosts an Honours course at the Law faculty, called ‘Gender, Race, Intersectionality and Law’. The course is taught by dr. Hoko Horii and Alison Fischer and it gives students the opportunity to explore some of the histories, theories and challenges of seeking equal justice under the law.
On 26th October, HC Law students presented their group research outcome in public in a format of an academic conference during the so-called Conference Day. The presentations were highly informative, touched upon topical and important affairs, and were done in creative ways. The discussion was moderated by the course coordinator, dr. Horii, and the students and audience engaged in a vibrant, cordial, critical yet constructive manner. Based on the feedback and insights the students gained from the day, they will write a blog post on the topic of their research.
From concrete examples focusing on gender and race, students explored the intersections between various aspects of individual identity, national and international legal institutions, politics and law. The students, in groups, have researched on six topics as their case study: Rape law; Abortion law; Child marriage; Female genital mutilation; Racial profiling; and Workplace discrimination.
In ‘Aborting National Abortion Laws’, the first group explored the possibility and advantages of regulating abortion on a European level.
In ‘A New Definition of Rape Law: Are the Victims Better Off?’, the students addressed the new Dutch rape law and examined to what extend it is going to impact the protection of rape victims.
In ‘Decolonizing Human Rights: The Dominating West in the Fight against Child Marriage’, they investigated the child marriage practice and relevant national legislation in India, Zimbabwe, and the US, in order to investigate to what extend the ‘universal’ human rights framework poses a challenge in the fight against child marriage.
In ‘Fighting Female Genital Mutilation: Kenya versus Somalia’, the students seek for an explanation on why the two neighboring countries in Africa shows radically different prevalence of FGM practice.
In ‘Dutch Court Allows Ethic Profiling’, the students examined the judicial decision made about the racial profiling practice of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Kmar).
In ‘Peter’s Privilege: on the implementation of a female quotum in top management and boardroom positions in The Netherlands’, students compared the Dutch legislation of female quotum system with the ones of Germany, France, and Norway.
The Conference Day enabled the students not only to learn how to conduct research, but also how to present the outcomes of it, how to provide constructive feedback and how to engage in academic debates – all important skills that are characteristic for Honours College Law.
Written by Dr. Hoko Horii