Comparing UK and US Universities’ approach to investigating complaints of sexual misconduct on campus

Times Literary Supplement, forthcoming

Disclosure in rape trials: an unjustified moral panic in rape cases? 

Co-authored, Counsel magazine, 01.03.2020

Two years on, an assessment of R v Allan’s impact on reform of disclosure duties in criminal trials – and the prosecution of rape cases more broadly.

Family courts not safe for domestic violence victims, lawyers say

Co-authored, 18.02.2020

Co-author of letter signed by 130 legal professionals raises concerns that judges are failing to address domestic abusive in parental relationships leaving children at risk of harm. Read more here.

The courts’ outdated views on domestic violence are putting vulnerable children at risk of harm

Independent, 27.01.2020

A shocking family court judgment expressed an alarming view of sexual consent, but the problem may be a lot wider than one judge. So what should be done?

Abuse victims deserve a well-funded justice system – Structural problems that have led to falling numbers of rape prosecutions cannot be solved without sufficient resources

Co-authored, The Times, 18.12.2019

Prosecuting rape cases and getting convictions is increasingly difficult, as illustrated in a report released yesterday by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, the prosecution watchdog.

The result is that the state is failing in its duty to end violence against women and girls by allowing perpetrators of sexual violence to abuse with impunity.

The Law on FGM and Travel Ban

Co-authored, Family Law Journal, November 2019

Co-authored, International Family Law Journal 2019, issue 4, page 237

Following the judgment in Re X (FGMPO No 2) [2019] EWHC 1990 (Fam), leading and junior counsel representing the mother consider the implications of travel bans in cases where FGM is considered a risk abroad.

Campus rape: breach of care

Co-authored, Counsel Magazine, November 2019 

As reports of rape assaults on campus soar, solicitor Georgina Calvert-Lee and barrister, Charlotte Proudman raise awareness of the public duty of care in this developing area of law in counsel magazine.

Ban child marriage: safeguard futures

Co-authored, Counsel Magazine, November 2019

Consent or coercion? Lawyers are collaborating on a proposed Bill as part of a wider campaign to criminalise marriage involving children aged under 18

Medically Unnecessary Genital Cutting and the Rights of the Child: Moving Toward Consensus

Co-authored, The American Journal of Bioethics, 26.09.2019

What are the ethics of child genital cutting? 

Britain claims it protects girls from FGM. So why are we deporting them? 

The Guardian, 26.09.2019

A 10-year-old at risk of FGM has been refused asylum. Clearly, immigration targets matter more than vulnerable girls. Today the family division of the high court ruled that it has no power to stop the home secretary from deporting a vulnerable girl at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) to Bahrain or Sudan.

Cambridge University needs to tackle its institutional rape problem

The Telegraph, 29.07.2019

As a junior research fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge, I have supported students that have been raped or sexually assaulted on campus at Cambridge. The University and College’s responses are flawed. I see a pattern of institutional cover-up leaving young women at risk of sexual violence from known serial perpetrators on campus.

Child marriage in Britain is not illegal – I’m fighting to end it

The Telegraph, 22.07.2019

We often read about our Government taking the lead internationally in ending child marriage. But the truth is that our laws are failing to prevent it happening on our own doorstep. In modern Britain, child marriage is not a criminal offence.

According to UK law, children between the ages of 16 and 18 can marry with parental consent. Marriage under the age of 18 is not illegal. 

As a family law barrister, I have seen the harm that child marriages have caused to girls, in the short term, and years later. That’s why I am working with Girls Not Brides UK to end child marriage.

FGM Asylum Claims

Counsel Magazine, 01.07.2019

We need more political discourse on FGM internationally and an urgent review of the Home Secretary’s handling of asylum claims – whilst jurisprudence evolves

No, accused rapists should absolutely not be given anonymity – this is why

The Independent, 01.07.2019

It is clearly not the right idea to make it even more difficult for women to pluck up the courage to report their assault.

Here’s five reasons against anonymity for suspects:

1. Naming suspects encourages more victims to come forward

2. It is very rare that complainants lie

3. Unlike suspects, complainants need life-long anonymity 

4. Anonymity for the accused was tried, tested and failed

5. Open justice for everyone

I’ve seen how lawyers’ sexism corrupts justice. This is how to change the industry. We need tough sanctions for sexual harassment, gender parity in chambers, and to close the pay gap, in a radical overhaul.

The Guardian, 18.05.2019

Charlotte proposes three bold legal changes to the legal profession:

1) Tougher sanctions for sexist behaviour;

2) 50% target for women in chambers; and

3) An office for gender equality and diversity.

The legal profession is rife with prejudice – I’ve seen it first-hand

The Guardian, 18.02.2019

In law, power is concentrated in the hands of the few, mainly white, privileged men. While gender inequality in the legal profession is rightly making headlines, there are other intersectional patterns of inequality, such as class and race, that rarely garner as much attention when they should be at the forefront of the fight for equality. When I talk about equality, I mean overhauling the legal profession so that the law reflects the society it represents: people from all walks of life.

Groped in court and told we’re ‘too ugly to rape’ – life for female lawyers is one long stag do

Telegraph, 14.02.2019

Charlotte Proudman says the law is still an old boys’ club.

Lord Lester’s old boys network

What about #MeToo? How the Lord Lester case shows the Old Boys’ Club still rules

Left Foot Forward, 28.11.2018

The treatment of Jasvinder Sanghera shows that the Establishment remains in charge of the second chamber, writes Barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman.

A Barrister’s Perspective on the Challenges of Applying for FGM Protection Orders

National FGM Centre, 06.06.2018

Dr Charlotte Proudman provides information and advice regarding FGM Protection Orders, including what evidence is required to support an application.

Feminism and the Labour Left: a perfect political union?

Renewal Journal, 04.2018

Socialist and feminist politics have sometimes had a difficult relationship in the past, but an intersectional approach can move past these issues. This article looks at the importance of culture and policy, and sets out four ways feminist policies should feature in Labour’s programme for 2018 and beyond.

Why does police mishandling of evidence only make headlines in rape cases?

The Guardian, 21.12.2017

The media frenzy around the Liam Allan and Isaac Itiary trials will only act to deter future complainants from coming forward. The lesson learned from the Allan and Itiary cases is that drastic public funding cuts to the criminal justice system degrade justice … Reform of the justice system should be the message we learn, rather than a moral panic that some women lie about rape.

Year in review: Dr Charlotte Proudman looks back on the highs and lows for feminism in the legal profession

Chambers and Partners, 15.12.2017

This has been another momentous year for feminism and the legal profession in the UK. The last 12 months has been a time of both progress and regression for the feminist movement. Has 2017 brought us any closer to achieving gender equality? Barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman outlines five highs and lows from 2017 for Chambers and Partners Diversity that include 1. Baroness Hale appointed as the first woman supreme court president; 2. Gender inequality pervasive amongst the judiciary; 3. Sexual harassment in the legal profession; 4. Key challenges for BAME lawyers; 5. Diversity can set law firms apart in a competitive market.

There is a witch hunt happening right now – but it’s not against men

Independent, 07.11.2017 

In the past, women were symbolically burnt at the stake or drowned in a public spectacle. In a more civilised society, women are today put on trial by media with vultures picking apart their personal history, which is transformed into sensational headlines.

Failure to act on female genital mutilation

Lexis Nexis, 11.10.2016, co-authored with barrister Julie Okine

The failure to successfully prosecute a single case of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK is a ‘national scandal’, the Commons home affairs select committee said in September 2016. In a recent report, the MPs said it was ‘beyond belief’ that no one had been convicted of FGM, 30 years after the practice was made illegal in the UK. Julie Okine and Charlotte Proudman of the Chambers of Anthony Metzer QC, Goldsmith Building, look at some of the issues behind the lack of prosecutions.

Six big reasons for women to vote Remain in the EU referendum

Independent, 23.06.2016, co-authored with Mary Honeyball MEP

Why women should vote to remain? Shared parental leave, equal pay, anti-discrimination laws, special funding for women-led projects and protection against harassment and human trafficking: it’s all enshrined in EU law.

Briefing paper: Female genital mutilation

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, 31.03.2016

Charlotte drafted a report for sister organisations and lawyers examining FGM legislation in the UK and the Commonwealth.

British women cannot wait 50 years for justice: Quotas are ultimately needed because men will not give up their privileged positions unless they are made to

The Guardian, 15.03.2016

Those in positions of power are all too happy to peddle the myth of meritocracy. A recent Fawcett Society survey, however, showed that 60% of people believe men in top jobs won’t make room for women unless they have to. For fundamental values of freedom, equality, liberty and justice to flourish, we need women to be represented in meaningful numbers among the judiciary. We can’t afford to wait until I’m 77.

Quotas are the only way to combat sexism in the workplace, and we shouldn’t be afraid to demand them

Independent, 10.11.2015

I’m tired of members of the old boys’ club telling me that quotas are “patronising” to women while holding on to their privileged positions – especially in the legal profession. As long as women are reliant for promotion on a system infused by sexism, they will have to demonstrate a professional patience of Biblical proportion. The fair representation of women in the senior ranks of the Bar and judiciary is not a threat to our legal system.  It is the present pernicious status quo that is an affront to public justice.

Sexism in the legal profession

Saturday Times Magazine (in print), 07.11.2015

A virtually all-male list of Queen’s Counsel (QC) and Judiciary is evidence that within our halls of justice power remains vested in a narrow, socially unrepresentative elite – an old boy’s club. Statistics from a recent Bar Council report – Snapshot: The Experience of Self-Employed Women at the Bar – show that while 50% of people called to the bar are women, only 12% are QCs and 24% are Judges, and just one of the 12 Supreme Court Justices is a woman. The attrition rates – the rates at which women leave the Bar – are staggeringly high, and the rates at which women are promoted to the echelons of power is dismayingly low. A prime causal factor: institutional sexism.

Michelle Payne’s stunning victory proves why sexual apartheid in sport must end

Telegraph, 04.11.2015

Jockey Michelle Payne has made history by becoming the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup, calling out sexism on her way to the top. Michelle Payne made history this week as the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history. Horseracing is a rare example of a sport where men and women compete together on more or less equal terms.

Port and prejudice – drinking societies are the dark side of Oxbridge

The Guardian, 26.10.2015

The excesses of male-only clubs such as Oxford’s Piers Gaveston and Cambridge’s Wyverns cement the misogyny and privilege of a narrow elite. If education is the key to changing culture and attitudes, why do educational institutions tolerate such abusive societies? These nasty segregated clubs educate the next generation of leaders that misogyny is not only no big deal, but something to be applauded.

Institutional sexism in the legal profession will only end when lawyers confront its existence

New Statesman, 25.10.2015

Our justice system suffers because women are invisible in shaping laws that impact women’s lives. Sexism in the legal profession is structural and institutional.

Playboy’s big cover-up is anything but a victory for women

The Guardian, 19.10.2015

Why is the magazine scrapping nude pictures of women? Not because it’s had an ethical awakening, but because pornography is so all-pervasive in society.

Lord Justice Sumption encapsulates the law’s sexism: only quotas can challenge male privilege. If the supreme court judge thinks women are opting to shun senior judicial posts, he doesn’t understand power.

The Guardian (in print), 24.09.2015

Institutional sexism in the legal profession is under scrutiny again following remarks about gender equality in the judiciary by one of the country’s most senior judges. Jonathan Sumption’s views exemplify perfectly what is wrong with the way women in the legal profession are viewed by those in the highest echelons of power. Not only did the supreme court judge forecast in an interview that it would take 50 years to achieve gender equality in the judiciary, he cautioned against doing anything that might make male candidates feel “the cards are stacked against them”. Wouldn’t it be awful if men enjoying the privilege of an imbalance of power felt this privilege threatened? No, the remedy, according to Sumption, is that women lawyers should just be “patient” and wait another half a century for promotion.

Why I want feminism and not equality (and why they are not the same thing)

Left Foot Forward, 17.02.2015

Unlike equalists, feminists do not want men to share their oppression. How many feminists believe they are working towards equality? How many men self-define as equalists over feminists? Equality is almost universally accepted as the definition of feminism. But the term equality has never been questioned. Equality takes the male status quo as the standard to which women aspire.

FGM and the Serious Crime Act 2015

Family Law Week, 15.07.2015, co-authored with Nkumbe Ekaney QC

Nkumbe Ekaney QC and Charlotte Proudman consider the important provisions introduced to protect girls and women from FGM. Female genital mutilation now forms part of our political and public consciousness. The inadequacy of the legal response to the thousands of girls and women from the UK mutilated every year has finally become a major consideration of legal practitioners.

FGM: Prosecution and prevention

Counsel, 2015, co-authored with Nkumbe Ekaney QC

Nkumbe Ekaney QC and Charlotte Proudman examine the impact of the first FGM case litigated in care proceedings.

Case summary: In the matter of B and G (Children) (No 2) [2015] EWFC 3

Family Law Week and Family Law Journal, 2015

Care proceedings in which the important issue was whether a girl had been subjected to Type IV Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and if she had, what the implications of that were in relation to planning for her and her brother’s future.

Prostitution, sex-buyer laws and the “End Demand” campaign

Counsel Magazine, 2015

Some argue that prostitution is a choice, a means to earn money in a society with unemployment, low rates of pay, and precarious job status. The problem is that demand for prostitution results in increasing levels of human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and violence against prostituted women. These forms of degrading and inhumane behaviour can only be combated if demand for paying for sex is tackled. Evidence from Sweden shows that sexual exploitation can be combatted through shifting the burden of criminality from the exploited to the exploiter.

‘End Demand’, a new campaign to change laws relating to prostitution, was launched on 22 October 2014

Family Law Journal, 2015 

The campaign calls on the UK government to adopt the Sex Buyer Law. The legislative change would decriminalise the selling of sex, criminalise the buying of sex and provide support and exiting services for prostituted women.

The campaigns to end FGM are a step forward, but they do not go far enough

Independent, 29.11.2014

Education is the key – if we really want to end FGM in a generation then we need to make it part of the national curriculum

Report of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales: To the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

BHRC, 03.10.2014, co-authored report

The Committee submitted written evidence to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in preparation for the March 2015 session of the Human Rights theme “Towards a better investment in the rights of the child”. The report recommends the introduction of a range of measures to protect children from FGM internationally.

Come on Cameron: If you really want to end FGM, it’s time to act – and fast

Telegraph, 23.07.2014, co-authored with Dexter Dias QC

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced new policies to tackle female genital mutilation in the UK. It’s a step in the right direction. But, argue two barristers who were part of the Parliamentary Inquiry into FGM, they don’t go far – or fast – enough

We need action, not more words: Fight FGM the way we fight forced marriage

New Statesman, 22.07.2014, co-authored with Dexter Dias QC

Instead of immediately implementing protective measures to fight female genital mutilation, the government has called for further “consultation”. But it’s time for action, not more talking.

Revenge porn: enough still isn’t being done to stop it

Independent, 02.07.2014

One in ten ex partners have threatened to expose risqué photos of their ex online – and 60 per cent followed through. Men can use revenge porn as a way to punish women – simply for behaving in ways that they do not approve of

Let’s stop talking about ‘honour killing’. There is no honour in murder.

The Guardian, 23.06.2014, co-authored with Dexter Dias QC

Every time the term “honour killing” is used, we view the murder of women through the eyes of their killers. By adding the word “honour” to killing, we use the language of those who justify this odious crime on the basis of “honourable” motives. We use the language of their excuses. We must stop doing this.

Strategic litigation in Israel

Counsel Magazine, 04.2014

The goals of strategic litigation are broader than helping an individual client. Individual cases are selected for their impact beyond the client. Test cases set a precedent for future cases involving the same question of law. Strategic litigation is often referred to as impact litigation because it seeks to have an impact beyond the actual outcome of the case.

Written evidence submitted by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales to House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into FGM

BHRC, 12.02.2014, co-authored report

The BHRC has grave concerns about the efficacy of the UK’s response to FGM, and has concluded that the UK has been in breach of its international law obligations to protect young women and girls from mutilation. During the period of the UK’s breach, thousands of British girls and young women have been unnecessarily exposed to the risk of mutilation and have suffered irreparable physical and emotional damage. Many could – and should – have been saved. This constitutes a serious breach of the state’s duty of care. Immediate remedial action must be taken.

Is it acceptable to profit from the social care of vulnerable children?

Independent, 03.01.2014, co-authored with Dexter Dias QC

With 78 per cent of children’s homes not in community hands, we need to examine whether privatisation of children’s homes has been in the best interests of the child.

Missing Children, Missing Care and Missing Questions: Why Are Children in Care Being Failed?

Huffington Post, 02.01.2014, co-authored with Dexter Dias QC 

The public – and above all the affected children – are entitled to answers about how the Government has resolved to improve the safeguarding of some of the most vulnerable children in children’s homes in the country. It leaves unanswered a number of fundamental questions – missing questions about the kind of children’s home provision we as a nation want for neglected children.