Category Archives: Legislation

US Supreme Court backs Colorado baker’s gay wedding cake snub


Personally, I feel that businesses, regardless of the goods or services provided, should be able to make decisions about whom to serve/service based on their own religious beliefs. I think that this couple chose to elevate this issue way beyond what was necessary, if you don’t like a business owner and their beliefs – why do you even want to give them your business? Perhaps I am looking at this situation from too much of a simplified point of view, but I think that it’s as simple as the signs you see on businesses everyday: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” If business can turn people away because of what they are wearing, why should they not be able to refuse service to someone based on their strongly held religious beliefs?

As this has been a huge topic of discussion lately and I just wanted to see what others thought about it. Do you agree with the ruling? Why or why not?

Op-ed: Protesting India’s Inadequate Rape Laws

Savannah Bynum

NEW DELHI, INDIA – APRIL 17: Delhi Women Commission (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal on fifth day of her hunger strike against Unnao and Kathua rape case on April 17, 2018 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The fundamental issues in India can be found in their outdated laws pertaining to what constitutes rape. Rape in India is defined as “penile penetration into the vagina,” which entails that only a man can be the perpetrator and only a woman can be the victim. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, with slight but not overwhelming alterations and updates, solidifies the concept of a gender inequality in Indian law. The pronouns used are female focused and thus enforce only a female victim and assume only a male perpetrator. The laws in place are faulty and provide legal loopholes to be exploited resulting in increasing outrage about the lack of enforcement for crimes of rape in India. It is imperative to shed a light on the atrocities being committed by utilizing contemporary court cases and public reactions in hopes that the pressure will cause the Indian courts and political officials to address and revise these outdated laws.

Conversations have to start somewhere, and in the case of India, the conversation can be seen visually over social media. Following a gang rape and eventual death of a 23 year-old female in Delhi, research was done based on the utilization and implementation of social media as the event and case unfolded. Journalists found that twitter served a helpful role in bridging contact between journalist and urban middle class public who were concerned about the incident and desired to know what transpired

This is a sensitive topic for everyone. It is said, statistically, in India there is a rape reported every 15 minutes, but that is only counting those who report what they have been through, not those who may stay silent. Only 1% of sexual violence is accounted for and reported to the police. And only 10% of married women reported sexual violence, even though it is known that rates of marital rape are much higher.

In Mumbai, India, the rape of a 22-year old woman by five men who claimed to “be on a hunt for a beautiful deer,” galvanized public opinion and outrage. The case was heard in 2023 and caused an uproar within the city about their rape laws. The woman was asked to re-enact a pornographic act that was shown to her on a cell phone by one of the men. This was not the first time these men had done this to a young woman, but none of the victims had ever gone to the police before. This case shows the acts of bored men who seemed to have routinely committed rapes in the same area. Yet nothing had been done to stop them. The seriousness of this kind of crime did not sink in until this case made headlines. Previously, few rape cases were prosecuted and when they were, the perpetrators were seldom punished. For that reason, victims were hesitant to come forward or speak out.In the wake of this case, India did enact changes to their rape laws passing numerous legislative reforms, commonly known as the Nirbhaya Act. The act saw increased penalties for sexual violence, including extending the length of prison sentences and introducing the death penalty in certain cases.

Yet even with the new laws, rapes continued to occur and often the perpetrators were not arrested or prosecuted. But there are multiple cases similar to the one just spoken of, they are not limited to “civilians” and can happen “under the protection” of the police, who have the duty to serve and protect these people. However in most cases this is far from true. For example, a woman in 1972 a woman was raped by drunken police officers while in their custody. This case helped start protests by women in India with support from both male and female experts to demand changes in the government. The latest data from India’s National Crime Record Bureau show around 100 alleged attacks are reported to police each day, or nearly 39,000 in 2016 — a 12% increase from the previous year

Most recently, a young girl aged 16 was kidnapped, taken to a Hindu temple, imprisoned and held captive while she was repeatedly raped by a number of men, one of whom was an elected official. Eight men have been arrested and the outrage is mounting in India over this case. Last week in April of 2018, thousands of women protested in several major Indian cities. Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the Delhi Women’s Commission (NWC), is staging an indefinite hunger strike to push for stricter laws for rape in India, including the death penalty. It is important for all of us to support the women of India in this fight against rape and all forms of violence against women.

Savannah Bynum studied at Catawba valley community college, and is now completing an anthropology major with a minor in art history at East Carolina University.



Save Net Neutrality

This effects all people in the U.S. Men, women, students, young and old. Net neutrality keeps the internet free and open — enabling anyone to share and access information of their choosing without interference. Meaning rates may change for internet access and  information will be controlled, silencing free thought. The battle is not lost yet. The vote goes up for possible repeal Monday! We have to attempt to save this.

Here is an easy way to get a hold of representatives:

Substantive Blog Post #5

How do policies on immigration create an environment in which migrants can be targeted for human trafficking?

Italy is at the forefront for facing and combating human trafficking. They are impacted more heavily than other Member States of the European Union because of their proximity to the most frequently migrating countries. In addition to adopting the UN protocols. The Italian government has been more active than its fellow Member States in its enactment of the protocol and setting up legislation which is considered to be more advanced within the field of protecting victims. This legislation introduced a special program to assist victims of human trafficking as well as a residence program for social protection. This special program receives funding in order to provide adequate accommodation, board and healthcare for a limited time. A major benefit from this is to provide a temporary escape and protection from the dangerous situation.

Through this study in particular, the aim was to use Italian policies as a case study to gain a better knowledge on how effective their policies are for protection and assistance for victims. In order to know how to work towards preventing and helping victims with recovery, it is important to have detailed studies on human trafficking, which unfortunately, is lacking. There are significant gaps in data on the scale of the phenomenon, characteristics of victims, trafficking trajectories, and effectiveness of the policies implemented. This research aims to alleviate those gaps. The most recent legislation observes protection and assistance to victims as a priority and Italy is above the other European countries in terms of them working the hardest to implements those types of policies. Within their conclusions they see encouraging results but offer critiques as well which would only benefit from obtaining additional and continuous knowledge.

Caneppele, S., & Mancuso, M. (2013). Are Protection Policies for Human Trafficking Victims Effective? An Analysis of the Italian Case. European Journal On Criminal Policy & Research, 19(3), 259-273. doi:10.1007/s10610-012-9188-9

Is there gender discrimination in a women-only club?

Last year The Wing-a social club whose members are only women- opened its doors in Manhattan. This club was conceived as a safe space for women to work, network, nosh, primp and talk politics. Now, the New York City Commission on Human Rights started an investigation against the club for possible discrimination violations. The arguments of the commission are that The Wing is discriminatory because it does not accept men among its members while others womens’clubs do it and because the few men who work for the club are plumbers and electricians.

Personally I do not believe that the creation of exclusive spaces for women is the solution to avoid harassment and have freedom of expression in a world dominated by men, on the contrary, I think that spaces should be promoted where men and women can have the same rights and opportunities . However, I do consider exaggerated the Human Rights Commission investigation  and very biased against women and the question then arises: Why in this case the Human Rights Commission does act but does not do it to defend women who daily  are abused and discriminated ? This is a clear example of how laws deepen gender inequality.

Child marriage in the United States…girls marrying their rapists

Yes, this happens here. We have been discussing women and the law in class.

What questions does this story raise for you regarding women (and girls) and the law? Further, what are the surrounding and background societal environments that impede on the law and its enforcement (or lack thereof)?

Does anyone have a story from anyone you know that bears any similarities to this?

15-Year-Old Girls May Have Married their Rapists

a boy and a girl sitting on a bench: Shane Stracener of Kennett, Mo., was 15 in 2014 when he married his girlfriend, Christy, who was 17 and pregnant. The couple now have 2-year-old Isaac Lee (left) and 3-year-old Faith Renee.

Human Trafficking and the UK Modern Slavery Bill: Substantive Blog Post #2

With my paper being on human trafficking and the influence that policies can have in the Europe, I have found a piece that specifically looks at a bill proposed by the United Kingdom, a self-proclaimed leader in the fight against modern slavery. Based on notions that assumed that slavery could not be possible in our more modern era, the UK government was reluctant to support the United Nations “Palermo Protocol,” which targeted the prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking people, especially women and children. It was revealed that there was significant ignorance in the British Parliament about their knowledge of the trafficking. As evidence grew, the United Kingdom began their first real attempt at combating trafficking by creating the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) in order to collect and monitor data to report to the government about the extent of human trafficking. The UKHTC received 3000 referrals that year from First Responders at the location to which victims seek rescue and rehabilitation. Additional organizations contributed to the growing knowledge of human trafficking and enslavement, revealing new forms of slavery within the UK including “the imprisonment of young (often Vietnamese) men by Chinese gangs to manage cannabis “farms”, the severe physical and sometimes sexual exploitation of domestic workers by wealthy businessmen/women and diplomats, forced begging and theft by young children trafficked or smuggled into the UK for this purpose and the suggestion, although as yet unsubstantiated, that some people had been trafficked into the UK for the purposes of organ harvesting.” 


With all of this overwhelming evidence and pressure from prominent organizations, the government finally published a draft Modern Slavery Bill, appearing in December of 2013. The Bill faced intense criticism because of how weak it had been considering the United Kingdoms intent to be the world leader on the issue. After a grueling process of examination from multiple parties, scrutiny and critiques, the final Bill was published and sent on for the process in which it becomes an Act of parliament.


While the awareness of modern slavery continues to grow, the Bill’s primary focus is on human trafficking despite the early debates that made an attempt to create wording that would include all possible offenses. Another key focus of the Bill is on the protection for the children that are impacted and while the focus on trafficking remains the center of the Bill, the main focus has been on sexual exploitation. The biggest concern of the author is the lack of attention paid to the issue of trafficking as a means to use victims for labor exploitation or forced labor. Although forced labor is in itself a criminal offense, the cases of forced labor brought to the courts are low. A case made notable by the author is one that was dismissed by a judge because they argued that if the victims were able to move around freely, they could not be considered slaves. This completely negated the emotional or psychological impacts of victims in the case.


Fortunately, the government has taken steps towards combating forced labor by requiring companies to take responsibility for exploring slavery within their supply chains although the Committee did not take interest in protecting the domestic workers to the same extent. The government has also been pressured to widen the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to extend its focus on just three industrial sectors to more, if not the whole of the labor market.


It is important to observe the ways in which different countries in Europe attempt to combat  human trafficking within their own country and throughout the rest of the world in order to get a better understanding of unforeseen impacts of their methods. While the United Kingdom hopes to be the leader in combating against modern day slavery, it easy to gage from this article how difficult it is for their government to produce legislation that can encompass the broad spectrum of human slavery.


Craig, Gary. 2015. “Human Trafficking and the UK Modern Slavery Bill.” Social


I Am Jane Doe PSA to Amend the CDA


January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and this short video briefly describes the issue of websites that knowingly profit from sex trafficking advertisements of children. It calls viewers to action by asking you to contact you senator to ask that SESTA be passed to close the loophole that allows this heinous criminal activity to continue.

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) to protect children from exposure to Internet pornography.  The act included a defense, Section 230, for Internet providers, protecting them from liability for material posted to their sites by third parties. Thus, if pornography or other illicit material is posted to a site by someone not associated with the site operator, the site was to be held harmless.

In Volume 17, Issue 1 of the Berkley Technology Law Journal, Paul Ehrlich discusses the Communications Decency Act in depth and describes the results of Section 230:

“Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”)’ in 1996 to address the myriad problems surrounding the regulation of obscene, illegal, or otherwise tortious content found on the Internet. Many of the CDA’s provisions regulating decency have been struck down by the courts as violations of the First Amendment. One of the surviving elements is a congressional grant of immunity from suit to ISPs [Internet service providers] and other interactive computer services for content originating with third parties. The text of the statute relies on terms of art from the law of defamation, formally protecting interactive computer services from treatment as “publisher[s] or speaker[s].’ However, while defamation law recognizes a distinction between liability as a publisher and liability as a distributor, courts have unanimously read Section 230(c)’s grant of ISP immunity as covering both publishing and distribution liabilities. In doing so, courts took Congress’ desired balance between the competing interests of decency and efficiency and tipped the scales decisively towards efficiency. The effect of these rulings has been the emergence of a comprehensive immunity from suit for ISPs so long as the suits are based on content not authored by the ISP. Whether or not Congress intended this result, ISPs and other interactive computer services have used Section 230 as a complete defense against recent suits…”

Ehrlich continues in footnote 5 of this section, “Publishers are presumed to have more control over material disseminated and are therefore subject to strict liability. Distributors are subject to liability under a knowledge or negligence standard.” This interpretation would make it seem that once a distributor of third party information is made aware that there is a problem of defamation or otherwise illegal activity that then the distributor could be held responsible. Conversely, this is not the case.

Amending Section 230 is not an issue of free speech. This is an issue of illegal activity occurring in a public forum. Section 230 was well intentioned, but it has been used by companies as a place to advertise illegal conduct such as sex trafficking of women and children.  Congress likely never intended this result, yet some courts have ruled that the 230 defense provides, in effect, blanket website immunity for all material posted by third parties on the sites.

In The Children’s Legal Right Journal, Abigail Kuzma eloquently explains these issues in her “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Kuzma describes the issue in great detail, provides substantial evidence for the need to amend the CDA, and also proposes possible amendments. She writes, “…it is critical that legislative action be taken to require all hosts of adult services sections to take preventive action against the posting of abusive ads. Such a bill could be drafted as an amendment to the CDA itself, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), or as a state law amendment that could be called the Internet Protection Against Child Trafficking Act (IPACT).” Please refer to her letter to learn more about the issues of human trafficking as a crime and human trafficking via the internet.

Business owners claim that illegal activity on their websites is not their responsibility because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Businesses that profit from these types of advertisements are using ignorance as an excuse so that they can claim they have no role in either prostitution or human trafficking. In order to stop human trafficking, we must take action to make access to this crime more difficult. The ISPs will do nothing to help modern day slaves as long as they believe that they are not an accessory to the crime because they have no liability or legal responsibility. However, if they knowingly profit from crimes such as human trafficking they are in fact aiding and abetting those crimes. Section 230 needs to be amended—not so that free speech is tarnished or diminished in any way, but so that people who are being used and sold can have a voice separate from their abusers.

-Kari C.


Ehrlich, Paul. “Communications Decency Act 230.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 17.1 (2002). web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Kumez, Abigail L. “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Children’s Legal Right Journal 34.1: 23-58. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.


Europe needs to do more to prevent human trafficking

This snippet highlights another consequence of the migration of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

According to the article, human traffickers are taking advantage of refugees’ vulnerable state, often smuggling them via “unseaworthy vessels.”

UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, is urging Europe to help trafficked victims through not allowing immigration policies to negatively affect anti-human trafficking laws as this could lead to an increase in human trafficking and exploitation.

Hmong child bride lawsuit in Minnesota

This article is about child brides ie human trafficking of child brides from Laos. In this case, a woman has chosen to speak out and is suing her perpetrator/abuser.

There is apparently a population of Hmong people in St. Paul Minnesota and it is a common occurrence where young girls in Laos are lured with the promise of something like being in a music video or meeting a movie star as was the case with this woman. The community does not openly speak against it because it could mean some sort of physical retaliation.

This woman was taken at the age of 14 (she is now 22) under the promise of an audition to be in a music video. Instead, a relative of the man who initially made the promise to the young girl (and her parents) showed up and raped her. He eventually allowed her to return home, but upon learning she was pregnant, forced her to marry him. Upon bringing her to the US, he kept her passport and immigration documents as well as threatened her with taking their child away if she tried to leave. Eventually, she was able to get a protective order against him and their “cultural” marriage ended.

And now she is suing him “for $450,000, the minimum statutory damages under “Masha’s Law,” a federal law that provides for a civil remedy in the form of monetary compensation in child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking and other similar cases.”



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