SECOND AND THIRD CLASSES: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

I wanted students to continue developing an understanding of the causes of violence against women and to critically examine the legal treatment of gender violence. Additionally, I wanted students to be able to present their analysis and their findings through a short documentary.

For the input stoiy, I showed scenes from the film A Reason to Believe (Tirola, 1995). I also provided students with some statistics, not because I was interested in the quantitative aspects of the problem, but because I thought that this could give some students an idea of the prevalence of this problem. Students had to produce a documentary on violence against women. For this purpose, they had to examine and deconstruct the conventions of documentary films. Students watched other documentaries and read articles dealing with the narrative structure and the elements used in documentaries, particularly those with a legal focus.

Students also had to examine the international legal framework and the implementation of this framework in Canadian law. I also suggested that they explore the website Project Stand: Faces of Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivors designed by Nobuko Oyabu. Additionally, students had to read articles and websites on the causes of violence against women.

FOURTH AND FIFTH CLASSES: CHILD EXPLOITATION

The objective of these classes was to analyze the general international and national legal framework dealing with child exploitation, child prostitution, and child sex trade, including the Canadian and US extraterritorial jurisdiction on child sex trade. I wanted students to recognize those situations where the existing legal treatment appears to be excessive or disproportionate to deal with situations that can better be addressed outside the sphere of criminal law. I also wanted students to be able to apply their knowledge to the making of a victim impact statement video.

The input story included scenes from Heading South (Cantet, 2005) and a request to prepare a victun impact statement video. Stirdents had to pretend that Brenda is tried and convicted for having sex with a minor in Haiti. Students had to produce a day in the life of video or a progressive video for a victim impact statement, showing how the repeated sexual intercourse with a forty-something woman affected the child. The video is to be shown in Brenda’s hypothetical sentencing hearing. Students had to analyze the harm that this caused the minor and the legal responses to protect him and to convict Brenda and all those responsible for his sexual exploitation. Students had to predict the rapid cognition reactions of the judge, prosecutor, other criminal justice officers, and the victim present in the sentencing hearing. In order to predict these reactions, students were given biographies of all these individuals.

I provided students with guiding questions on the film and the legal aspects of child prostitution and child sex tourism.

TABLE 8.2 Legal Aspects of Sex Tourism: Guiding Questions.

  • • Why is there child prostitution? Is there child prostitution in our city?
  • • Why do some children become prostitutes?
  • • Should there be different criminal offences for child and adult prostitution?
  • • What can be done to prevent child prostitution?
  • • What role do drugs play in child prostitution?
  • • What is the connection, if any, between child molestation and child prostitution?
  • • What do you think about child sex tourism? What about adult sex tourism?
  • • Should North American and Western European countries continue to criminalize conducts that take place outside their territories?
  • • Who should be considered legally responsible for sex tourism?
  • • Should other countries criminalize conducts in Canada that are against their laws?
  • • How can sex tourism be prevented? What legal and nonlegal measures could be taken?
  • • Why do some countries encourage sex tourism?

SIXTH CLASS: INFANTICIDE

The objective of this class was to examine the legal treatment of infanticide and the legal response to the problems associated with post-partum depression. Students had to design a public awareness campaign to reform infanticide law and to implement a similar law as the US Mothers Act in Canada, taking into account the characteristics of the Canadian public health system and their differences with the US system. The campaign had to include appearances in talk shows. For the input story, I asked stirdents to read an article about post-partum depression and its possible connection to infanticide from a lifestyle magazine.

I provided students with guiding questions to examine the legal framework of infanticide and its connection to postparttun depression. Students also had to watch a video about the passage of the Mothers Act, a federal US law encouraging research, education, screening, and treatment of postpartum depression.

TABLE 8.3 Postpartum Depression and Infanticide: Guiding Questions.

Postpartum depression

  • • What is depression? What does depression feel like? What are the symptoms? What are signs of depression?
  • • Is depression something you can just ‘get over’? Is it a medical issue or just sad thoughts?
  • • Is depression prevalent among university students? Why or why not? What is the connection, if any, between nutrition and depression?
  • • Why does postpartum depression occur? Is it a disease?
  • • Is postpartum depression dangerous for the baby? For the mother? For others?
  • • Has anyone (or anyone you know) ever experienced postpartum depression or the baby blues? What was it like?
  • • Do you think postpartum depression may affect men? Why or why not?
  • • The role of a spouse is crucial for someone experiencing postpartum depression. What about women/men who are single parents?

Legal framework

  • • Do you agree with tire legal treatment given in Canadian criminal law to mothers who kill their babies while suffering from postpartum depression?
  • • Do a web search of the risk factors associated with postpartinn depression. What are the main risk factors? Is violence against women a risk factor?
  • • Does infanticide occur in nonhuman species? If so, is this relevant for the criminal law treatment of human infanticide? Why or why not? Do a quick search of infanticide in primates. What lessons, if any, can be learned that could be applicable to human beings?
  • • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the US Mothers Act?
  • • Should Canada also adopt the Mothers Act? Or a modified version of the Mother’s Act? Why? Why not? If so, what changes, if any, would you make to the Mothers Act?

Infanticide and abortion

  • • Is there a connection between abortion and infanticide? Since abortion is mainly legal in Canada, should infanticide be decriminalized too?
  • • In an article entitled “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” Giubilini and Minerva (2012) claim that “abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant, and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” Do you agree with these arguments? Why? Why not?
  • • Peter Singer (1993), a well-known professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, argues that “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” How does Singer justify this view? What are his arguments? What connection does he make between abortion and infanticide?
 
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