Debotri Dhar will explore the insights a mixed-methods study can offer to our gendered understandings of violence, vulnerability and risk, and discuss innovative policy measures. November 2022.
0:00:00.2 Speaker 1: It is such an honor to be here, to be affiliated with the Center for Finance Law and Policy, and also to be doing this Blue Bag Lunch Talk. And thank you for letting me plug the book. It's under contract with Routledge and some very kind people there. And they sort of bring up their stuff from London and New York and New Delhi, which are the three cities that I've been very operative in, if you will. So that's a joy, and I'm looking forward to that. So for this talk on sexual violence, gendered economies, and risky subjects, I was looking to mediate some of these different bodies of knowledge. And this work goes back to when I started researching rape victims' suicides in India. And one of the challenges that I faced in that is that I couldn't get to use the word that most people use when they research sexual violence, which is to be able to use the word survivors, because they died by suicide. So they did not survive. And I also want to sort of explain the language choice that I'm using here. So for the longest time, the verb that has preceded suicide has been commit, right?
0:01:20.0 Speaker 1: And so we said committing suicide. And that really harks back to the criminalizing of suicide, because you commit a crime. And so really sort of harking back to the time that suicide was and still continues to be in many legislative spaces criminalized. And so we have consciously moved away linguistically as much as legally from that criminalizing eye. And so I'm going to be saying died by suicide, etcetera. When I talk about this. So I was interested in two separate axis when I was doing this research. So the first was a time axis, so the past and the present, if you will, right, in that particular context. And the second axis, again, given my own trajectory and work, was space. So the local and the global. And both of those axis yielded very, very interesting information. The past was where I was looking at India's colonized past and looking at how some definitive works. So one of them that I would like to mention is Emile Durkheim's On Suicide. And that was an 1897 work that basically was, it was very similar to the kind of colonial work that was coming out at the time and had very racial colonial ways of understanding things.
0:02:43.2 Speaker 1: And so it attributed to women's suicides in India and suicides in general, the quote unquote moral characteristic of the primitive. And so there was this whole generalizing of these backward people and so forth, right. So there was that. And we do see that the echoes of that in a lot of other work with suicide in the area too, where we have a death by culture type of thesis, right, that the culture is backward. And so, you know, everybody's doing this because of... So there we see a racial hierarchy, which is obviously very problematic. And then this kind of a problematic framing of that question led me to precisely the second axis, which is the space axis. Okay, so that, well, if this is happening locally, and we are attributing these kinds of problems to the culture, is it not happening in other parts of the world, right, and the more quote unquote developed part of the world. And of course, the research there said it is happening everywhere. There is an unfortunate correlation between sexual violence and mental health. And in many of those instances, and the trauma caused by that does lead to people, so that entire spectrum, right, from incredible suffering, even to taking their lives, taking their own lives.
0:04:02.2 S1: There were very many cases that I was uncovering at the time, where, as a result of extremely the two primitive judicial discourse and the ways in which young women were questioned on the stand in courts in very many parts of the world in England, and here and there and everywhere, and in the US, that again, some of those women also take their lives. And so there isn't anything to suggest that this is a problem of culture per se, right, that rather, if anything, it suggests that where we are able to address some of these issues, it's because of availability of mental health resources, availability of some other resources, certainly, right, resources. And so towards the end of my talk, I will talk a little bit about what works, right, in terms of policy solutions and suggestions, what works. But one other interesting angle that I did want to add to this, because this is very, very central to this project too, is that, so when we're seeing the local and the global, is it that everything is the same everywhere, right? And again, the answer there too is a nuanced no, right?
0:05:15.7 S1: And one interesting local dimension that I do want to highlight here is that, yes, while we're saying that there is this link between sexual violence and trauma, and in many instances, suicide around the world, a very interesting local context comes from, again, the colonial history of the nation and some of the protest movements that happened there, so that offering up one's life, one's body, if you will, unarmed body to the might of empire was oftentimes a very useful political protest tool. And that is how the entire freedom movement, I know we think of Gandhi, we talk of, and how that was influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King here, etcetera, that this was something that was done that when you were in combat with a power that had so much more in terms of artillery and resources and so much more, that offering up, a nonviolent offering up of one's body as a form of moral protest is something that is written in the history of the nation. And this becomes very important here, because in my study, there are a lot of public suicides, which again, very strongly, strongly critique this idea of death by culture, because these were not women who were dying by suicide in the privacy of the home.
0:06:47.7 S1: And that the shame narratives, etcetera. I mean, there is that too, right? There's always that too. But that these were also, there were many, many women who were dying by suicide in very public spaces. So the visuality of that and the protest of that, and oftentimes leaving notes, calling the media, saying, this is what happened to my body, and this is what I've been... This is the justice I've been denied. And this kind of... These kinds of cases powerfully disrupt, you know some of the more conventional ways of looking at violence and then the body in the state. And so I wanted to highlight that, that while there are these global linkages, that that protest always does take on... It does draw from local histories in particular kinds of ways. And I think turning to post-colonial history is useful to sort of add at this other layer to it. So in my course, and Christine was mentioning, in my course, sexual violence in the state, global perspectives, I had two students ask a very, very good question, which was, that you talk about their agency, how can we ever talk about the agency of women like this, because they're dying, they're victims, right?
0:08:00.1 S1: They're victims. And again, these kinds of cases, because, and I think what I tell them is that the conversation between victimhood and agency is again more complex than one being only one or the other. And that especially in these kinds of cases, you see that these women are powerful agents. A lot of times the cases that I'm looking at, and I wouldn't get enough time to get into a lot of details for those for that you'd have to read the book, but there have been cases where there was we talk about financial literacy, etcetera. There were many cases where they could not even write their names, right? Incredible poverty. There was a case where this woman's husband was arrested, but what turned out to be a false charge later, and then she was raped by cops. And then the reports were fudged up in a way that, which is why she was denied conventional legal justice, because the people that she was turning to for justice were precisely those that were responsible for obstructing it, if you will. And so imagine that kind of marginalization, right?
0:09:14.7 S1: No literacy, no money, no formal education, no access to any kind of mental health or any other kinds of resources. And these women have tried everything possible. They have gone out of that space. They've contacted high positioned sort of police officers. Sometimes they've gone on to speak to the commissioner. They have made, you know, they've called the media. That's incredible agency. And I feel like it would be very disrespectful for me to not see them also as agents, to somehow see only the high powered stuff that happens in boardrooms as agency and not this kind of incredible on the street type of protest as agency. And that's why we talk of that and I'll come back to this idea later on, as I sort of talk about risk. But what we see these women doing also is taking a great deal of risk. So they are challenging everything. They are challenging social convention. They are challenging the sort of power structures that tell them that here's where you don't speak. Here's where you don't speak at all.
0:10:18.8 S1: Here's where you speak and these kinds of ways and so forth. And so the idea of risky subjects, and they're also sort of, you know, they're not only risking their reputations, their lives, they're... All of those, traditional discussions around honor and so forth, but also that they're... In doing that, they're also sort of exposing the risks of the system, if you will. And then, and I'll get to that, but that's really where I wanted to sort of start talking about these women as those that also take incredible risk that conversation between victimhood and agency has been... Is more nuanced than that. And so with all of this, this was where I was at with the preliminary part of my research. And as I was sort of writing, I realized that one of the problems that this kind of research has is that it very quickly gets compartmentalized into a women's issues type of book, right? This is women's issues, even if important.
0:11:25.2 S1: And so the next question for me, it's certainly a women's issue and a human rights issue. But the next question for me, which was very important was that, but it's also a public policy issue, right? And so that's really why I was so excited, especially for this talk here because it helps me make that bridge and to see it as an important public policy issue. And again, when we think of public policy, again, we'd say, well, social policy, certainly right here, we're talking social policy, but financial policy too, right? And so again, we are less inclined to make that connection immediately, how does this link to that? And so that's part of what I'm exploring here with us today and how to sort of center that into our discussions. And so a quick look at how I take this research out of it, sort of women's issues and human rights bracket into a policy space was shown when I was looking at, well, is there any work that has been done on what the impact is on the system, right?
0:12:33.0 S1: What is... Do we have some data there? And again, the question of data is very complex when it comes to research like this, because we know there's always tremendous under reporting. I mean, something we talk of in my class on sexual violence too, is that mugging data is often much more reliable than sexual violence data, because with sexual violence, especially as a form of gender violence, you will have... There's all of those discourses around shame and character assassination and all of those kinds of things that hold people back. And so again, so the numbers that I quote will often be just the tip of the iceberg. We know the actual figures are probably much more, but there's been some excellent work by the World Health Organization, for instance. And in South Asia, they were looking at how there were at least seven days in lost wages for incidents of violence, right? That's a lot. When you add up for the economy, that's a lot. Then I was looking at some of these World Bank studies that were saying that the macroeconomic impact is at least, at least one to two percent, 2% of GDP of practically every country in the world.
0:13:42.5 S1: Again, imagine that, 2%, and this is an underreported data, right? So, but even if we were to go with a very conservative estimate of say around three or whatever, I'm pretty sure it's higher than that, way higher, way, way higher. But even if we did that, it's a huge amount. Can we imagine that 3% of global GDP, how much amount that is? So that's the cost of gender violence. You know, that's the real cost, that it's not just the cost to the tremendous cost of... To lives, which is to my mind, the biggest thing, right? That every single life lost is a huge, huge cost. And so that, but that when we are looking at policy discussions that we want to also think of it as something that is creating an impact on so many negative... It has a negative impact on so many levels. So there's wages, there's healthcare expenditures, obviously. There is diminished educational outcomes. We see that even as professors in the university, we know again that when students have those experiences, how it impacts their education.
0:14:49.6 S1: And so it's huge when you look at it on the level of an economy and when you look at it on the level of the world economy, certainly. So education, healthcare, legal expenses and all of that, all of those costs we know at the University of Michigan do, it costs us. So there is that money that's going in here and that we are probably not thinking about as much when we talk about something like rape victims' suicides, right? And so I'm just sort of urging us to make that connection and to think about what might work, right? Because with this understanding, then we get into the final part of this, which is, well, what works, right? What works and what doesn't. And again, I found myself falling upon risk as a very interesting analytical category to understand and help me think through some solutions. And so what I was doing again, based on... When you were introducing, you were talking about again, these bodies of work that I mediate. And my first, in the first instance, I was turning to feminist literature on risk and how does feminist literature conceptualize risk.
0:16:06.2 S1: And again, there's a bunch of work there. What we have done is that for the longest time, and it's a very important part of the work we do even pedagogically, even now, where we critique the usual ways that we have been taught and women particularly, right, have been taught to avoid sexual violence, which is like, how do we avoid that risk? You know, what the risk of going out late at night, don't wear this, don't dress this way, don't, you know, so all of the don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't do this. And we know that that is a very, very limited approach. We know that there is literally no correlation, right, between some of those things that we are told, which really come from social stereotyping, and the incidence of sexual violence. So for instance, we know that the majority of sexual violence instances will be from people we know, unlike the usual stereotype of a stranger attacking us in a dark alley on the street, and not to say that that doesn't happen, but that there is no data to suggest that that is even the majority of cases.
0:17:09.1 S1: In most instances, it is people we know, they could be from family, they could be from a circle, they could be inhabiting those same spaces that we do. So there's that. And also that, again, these kinds of connections between not going out at night, or not dressing a certain sort of way. I know many of us have dressed in many, many different ways and still experienced many, many difficulties. And so I remember a time when as a schoolgirl in Delhi, I was on a bus, you know, those buses, I still remember them sometimes. So, and very, very... And then people would use that opportunity of that it'd be there's so many bodies stuffed in that space. And I couldn't afford private transportation. So we took the buses and, and you know, one time turning on and smacking this man so hard, just because... And so we all have those of us who were in those spaces, we kind of have those stories of, and in each of those instances, we can tell you, we were all dressed very, very demurely, so that it's not... Those combinations are those kinds of victim blaming strategies are very limited, right?
0:18:23.0 S1: And at best they may help us mitigate maybe a microscopic minority of instances. At worst, they are in danger of perpetuating very harmful stereotypes, where the moment something like this happens, we turn to the woman and say, what didn't you do? What could you have done better? And as I... And I... As I say in my classes too, that in that way, sexual violence is so different from every other crime. If you think about it, right, it's so different from every other crime. See you have your wallet stolen and you report that or anything stolen really, and you report that my car was stolen or something else, my money was stolen. You never have an instance of people saying, well, have you willingly donated money before, have you any donations in your history? If you have given money away willingly before, how do we know you've not done that this time? We don't start there. We don't start there. Sexual violence is a very different crime, right? Where the first gaze falls in that direction. Another way in which it is very different, and this also relates to the... Our diplomacy lab project over at the Ford School that I'm advising on online gender-based violence.
0:19:33.5 S1: Again, it's something that was coming up in my research too, and now that we understand it to be a global problem, is again that perpetrators make recordings. Again, in no other crime, right? A thief is never interested in recording the theft and putting it up on social media. You can reliably say that no, the one that's doing this is not going to be the one to share the evidence. Sexual violence, again, is so different, right? Because again, there, that is a form of harm where you can use that to continue to shame and silence victims. And so this is something also that was painfully coming up in my research. And I will share that there were times when I literally had to close the books and go out for a walk because it was so incredibly painful to read some of these cases where, including of gang rapes etcetera. By known people sometimes. And I've written about some of these pieces and more these cases in popular publications too, where they recorded the crimes and then used that as a way to keep blackmailing for a year after which she took her life, right?
0:20:41.3 S1: And so again, a very different kind where the perpetrators can actually be the ones that are keeping the proof in order to shame and silence and say, we will circulate this in your family, in the community. And we know that once these images are out there, the nature of the worldwide web is such that even if by the time you make all of these legal moves to try and take it down, it's been circulated so many times. It's been, it lives on, it lives on. And that threat alone and that fear alone, oftentimes has been enough to push some of the more vulnerable women into very, very difficult sorts of circumstances. And so remembering that feminist work on risk has taken a couple of different forms. And I want to share just two very quickly, where one of the books that I've enjoyed a lot recently was on loitering. And so that book is called Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets, by Shilpa Phadke, etcetera, and something that they were saying that they were really powerfully challenging this idea of stay at home, stay in safe spaces, you don't go out.
0:22:00.6 S1: And they were saying, no, let's be out. Let's get the public gaze used to women being out in public spaces on the streets, on the... Because these are not spaces that belong to other people. And so they were making a feminist case for loitering, basically be there, don't be... Don't feel like you have to keep your head down, how we were taught to keep your head down, go from point A to point B, don't engage, like, and don't be out later than, as my father was used to. Did you really need to be out later than that? Don't be out later than you need to be. And so in contrast to that, this kind of work is really saying, well, loiter, let's get people used to seeing different bodies. And they talk of... They talk of trans folks, they talk of gender non binary people, they talk of the need for people to get used to seeing different bodies out in the public space. And that man, that's not the best way to manage risk by saying stay inside, and then you avoid this risk.
0:23:03.4 S1: Another work, and there's a lot of work around that that I wouldn't get into more details but another body of work, which begins to sort of... Which starts out from the feminist literature, but begins to cross over into discussions that are more central to finance, if you will, are work around... So there's this one author whose work I've been reading a lot, Sohini Kar, and her work, Securitizing Women: Gender precaution and risk in Indian finance. And basically, there's a body of work that's really talking about, it's beginning to make that connection between these ways in which we have been told to ensure our sexual safety with the ways in which the system mitigates financial risk. And by that, what I mean is policy. So, a great example in that work is of the Indian Women's Bank that was set up after the Nuberg sexual violence case that happened in India. And the idea was to eliminate lending bias and to again, and so there were schemes that were named after her and so forth.
0:24:23.7 S1: And the point that the author was making, and that's a point that's relevant across the board to lending and microfinance etcetera, is that the way... The managing risk is by gently nudging, if not really pushing women into, again, these stereotypically female type of work. And so that, and this is something I have seen too in different parts of the world where there's that... Even with microfinance that a lot of times, not always, but a lot of times loans are given where there's a determination, yes, that there isn't too much of a risk here because she's doing what we think she'll already be good at doing, which is typically, those stereotypically. So I remember a case where this woman who used to make agarbattis, which is the incense sticks, she used to make those and she used to roll them on her thighs and she used to make... And she'd been doing that at home for some time and the village women would do that together. And so that got funding very quickly because it was something they could do at home with the children around and everything else and it didn't disrupt and so where an adventure sport type of thing, etcetera, where people start thinking can she do this?
0:25:44.1 S1: And oftentimes the can she do this is usually answered by relying on gender stereotypes what can women do? What are they good at? What... Where is it a risk for us to do that? And so that kind of work is looking at, Carator calls it a neoliberal domestication of women's empowerment, that she's saying that, well, this is, that you're really sort of framing women as vulnerable rather than as risk-taking. And so any type of activities that involve more risk are seen as not to be funded and we're funding some of the other things. And so, these are... These are some of the literature that is offering critique. And so in contrast to that, I was thinking of, well, okay, so this is what... I don't want to say it's not working because again, all of these have also made... They've made some positive contributions in every instance, but that how do we do more is the question, right? How do we do more, how do we make it better?
0:26:49.6 S1: And in that, I found myself again, sort of turning to questions like, how do we incentivize the public sector? How do we incentivize governments? How do we incentivize the private sector to tackle this? Because these, that's the level at which we would be needing to take this question, if we're going to have to take it out of these women's issue box. And there's several different sort of directions with that. Again, I'll quickly share two examples and then wrap this up. So, gender budgeting, again offers some answers there. I don't know if some of us are aware of New Zealand's 2019 budget, they call it the wellbeing budget. And they were defining five priority areas, mental health was one of them and economic transformation and so forth. Gender violence was one priority area. And so that basically means government's putting their money where their mouth is, right? And so that we are making resources available right from the top, right? And then again, I mean, there's... Depending again on the jurisdiction, there's going to be different kinds of relationships with... Between the federal and the state and the local levels.
0:28:00.9 S1: But I think, at least to my mind, that signaling the importance of an issue right at the top does have a cascading effect and I think that that's useful. And so again, those kinds of budgetary outlays can be helpful on various... At various kinds of levels. So for those of us who are thinking, again, what can that achieve? Well, I can tell you now, again, coming to the US side of things, even here, so we're in Washtenaw County, there's other counties here around us. And I can tell you that even at this local level, that there can be differences from county to county, again, based on resources made available for different things. So where you have more resources, you can have things like, we have safe house here, right? Again, where you have more resources, you can make things like translation services available, you can make things like... Because again, a lot of what we are encountering here, especially with the most marginalized of women. I purposely hesitated from... I've very consciously use the word marginalized as opposed to using other identity markers, because to me, the fact that they did not survive is the biggest indicator of marginalization.
0:29:08.3 S1: And then obviously, there's a lot of poverty, etcetera. And everything else that's coming into at least the cases that I focused on. But so we could talk about social class and caste, and we can talk about a lot of other ways in which they were rendered homeless, etcetera. But again, having the resources to be able to give them a place at least to stay having the resources to be able to... Where they can be with the children, they can take their children and go there and be able to escape a harmful situation. Those kinds of things are very, very useful everywhere globally. There is not no research at all to suggest that there's ever a negative effect from any of these efforts, really, and interventions. So, those budgetary allocations really matter. Something else that also happens is with budgetary allocations, you can have things like helplines, you can have things like victim advocates. So again, we know the court system is very adversarial. And the... Unless you're indigent, in which case the court will give you a public defendant, otherwise you get to have your own high powered attorney, if you will.
0:30:29.4 S1: Meanwhile, victims are often depending on the public prosecutors who are even in instances where they're very well intentioned and often very idealistic, it's not the most well paying work and so you've got highly intelligent people go into spaces which are not very well paying, typically, the answer is idealism. I say that to a group of academics, right? So, there's that. And... But they're very burdened, very, very burdened, right? With so many cases, and, oftentimes getting two, three hours of sleep themselves, and so forth. And also that their role as prosecutors is not the same as the defendant's relationship with their attorney, because the prosecutor is looking out for everybody, they represent the state.
0:31:20.3 S1: And so the victims are really only witnesses for the prosecution, right. And so that obviously creates certain kinds of what can the system take, if they want to move on to the next cases, too, and so forth. And so in those kinds of instances, having victim advocates is very helpful, requires budgetary allocation, right? So those kinds of budgetary allocations can make various sorts of things possible that are otherwise not and so I do believe very strongly in the need to develop this concerted dialogue between countries around the world, really, because this is a global issue, as far as I'm concerned, and to think about what are the ways in which we can therefore bring some of these concerns into our public budgets, right, and to... And the first step there is really acknowledging it, right, acknowledging.
0:32:10.2 S1: So there's that. And then very quickly, now, this part is, again is very exciting to me about how, in the private sector, we talk about things like ESG so environmental and social and governance features being brought in as a way to understand investing, and so gender conscious investing, and there's that body of literature, which is very exciting, and which kind of points to, again, something that I believe very strongly in, which is public-private partnerships that you need for these sectors to be working together to be able to address some of these things.
0:32:48.5 S1: And so those were really some of these examples. So I see I noted when I was making some of my notes, I found this, it really made me smile. So I put this down in my notes. So I mentioned the New Zealand budget, right, the well-being budget. So there, a former chief economist at the Treasury, he is the author of this book called Love You. It says, Love you: Public policy for intergenerational wellbeing and it's very interesting. I mean, I edited a book in love and the politics of love and so forth, and I'm thinking in sort of thinking of love as a political and social ethic that it's this idea, right, that we are there for our most marginalized citizens too, that their lives matter, their well-beings matter, and that we can make a strong business case for that too, right, that there is a strong business case for this, that there is systemic risk to when we talk of, I know, conventional risk management systemic risk management studies probably will not turn to looking at rape victims suicides.
0:33:57.7 S1: And yet, I'm suggesting that there are very clear links there that this is a form of risk management. I mean, gender violence is a risk to the system too, it is not just for the women, and that all of these losses that we have discussed, some of the data, etcetera, that it helps nobody is the point, right, it does not help anybody. And making a business case to therefore tackle this through the private sector too, as well as through the public sector, I think is something that is beginning to make more and more... More and more sense to me. And I know there's a lot of very interesting stuff that's happening in various different ways around the spaces developing gender aware investing tools, whether it is about developing sort of gender sensitivity, generally in these kinds of spaces where we're discussing investments and so forth, and putting that in conversation with, well do we want to invest in systems where there's this and how do we improve it? So in a sense, bringing that pressure, right, in a sense, bringing that pressure.
0:35:04.1 S1: And so I wanted to end it by saying, again, bringing it back to these suicides, that something that has come up over and over in my research is this idea of these different and competing notions of justice so there's justice if you will the business as usual type of thing. And then there is, throughout that study, and throughout some of these cases, we see a great sense of moral intent emerging, there's in all of these cases that I've studied, and where the women were often appealing to a higher power, right, in that system. So whether it be the police commissioner, or whether it be a minister, or other folks, we see a range of human behaviors. There are the heads who say, we need to cover up what's happened in our unit, and we will bring more pressure on this individual. And sometimes they have put that in their suicide notes before they have died, that this is how they brought yet more pressure on us to be silent. There have been other unit heads who have taken different kinds of routes and they've said, what happened should not have happened.
0:36:16.2 S1: And often they have done that at great peril to their own professional advancement. And so I think that that's something that kept me going in this research, that at every point of time, and even in the darkest of the pages, if you will, of the research and up there, of these women's lives that we see these instances where people are doing the right thing, rather than doing the morally right thing where it's not because they're probably answering to an authority that is higher however we define it. I would define it spiritually, someone else might define it in some other way, but that they're answering to some other idea than the idea of professional advancement only. And so that is good. But the point that I wanted to end on is that that is not enough. It is not enough. And that if we do not make a strongly economic policy and business case for tackling this, and if there aren't very real outcomes to it, that just relying on the individual goodness of just a few actors in the system is not enough. Systems are by their own, not obligated to, and they seldom do, therefore, look out for the well being of those right at the bottom, right?
0:37:39.0 S1: Then we could talk of things like living wages, we could talk of many different things there, but that rankings matter, right? And so we look at what goes into the ranking and we don't... I oftentimes think about this, if we ranked universities in terms of many other things too, apart from how we usually rank them. What if we looked at how much do they pay people right at the bottom? Do they allow people at the bottom opportunities for advancement? Those kinds of things, would our rankings change? And I know that in many instances, they wouldn't, and in some instances, they really would, right? And so those kinds of things, making it incumbent upon systems where to look out for the well being of those right at the bottom, and to put our money, again, where our mouth is, because that's really the thing that people most powerfully answer to oftentimes, is to me a very important solution, and so that's why.
0:38:34.0 S1: So to end this, that's really where a lot of this work is going, and in the final chapter of the book too, and therefore talking about some of these partnerships. Public and private partnerships, some very specific initiatives and measures that are being taken in the public and the private sector, some other examples of budgets, and various different sorts of things like that, which are all to do with fiscal strategies around trying to make governments, sectors, institutions within them, everybody more accountable, so that we are, again, like I said, not relying on a few good apples, if you will, but that we're making it... I hate to use that word, but profitable for the system to look out for the well being of those right at the bottom too. That was really a good talk, so I will end there and I will open up for questions. Thank you so much. Questions and also just thoughts. I mean, and just thoughts too, because I know a lot of times as academics and writers, we work so much in solitude, that just the sense of coming together and sharing our work and our thoughts there kind of makes so much sense. Yeah, Jeremy.
0:40:00.6 Speaker 2: I'm a lawyer, so I was interested in your discussion of victim advocates, and it made me wonder more about the victims' experience in the judicial system and how that might affect both economic outcomes and propensity for suicide. So, I guess, two questions for you. One, is there data on how victims experience the judicial system, whether it's if a case gets prosecuted, or if the victim testifies, or if the perpetrator is convicted, how that affects outcomes? And then second question is, beyond victim advocates, are there other reforms to the judicial system that can be made to be able to improve outcomes?
0:40:50.1 S1: Yeah, thank you for that. Those are very, very critical questions and really very, very important. So yes, there is some data on this. Again, that kind of data suffers from the same type of limitation that data in general around sexual violence suffers from. But we actually have more data there, because that's where we are looking at people who've already chosen or been forced to, however it is, to enter the system, so they're already in it, so there is that work. And I can share that several initiatives, for instance, some things that might seem very small but that have made a difference is, I know for instance, our county has changed this in a good direction, really, where there used to be these instances where you wouldn't know the status of the case.
0:41:45.0 S1: Like, where is it? Is there another trial? Is it... Because there's so many things? Folks often don't appreciate how many things there are in between when a case formally enters into the judicial system, and then when we have that final sort of whether or not it goes into trial. But really being appraised of changes to that, that now we have this particular hearing, or now we have this, or, you know. So just being given that information, because before that... We also have a lot of qualitative research based articles that do interview victims, and in many instances they say, "We didn't even know where the case was at and what was happening." And so again, victim advocates are able to do that, that it's just... And I know that our county has, again, a very... What I would call is a fairly efficient system and they just do it online, so that it's fed into the system, and then you'd get something like a text or something else telling you that there's been... And if we look globally, this is probably not even happening in 1% of the world, right?
0:42:48.6 S1: So these are very, very important changes, so there's that. Other things like being able to... When the victim writes an impact statement at the end of it and being able to read that out. And usually there's... Perpetrators are there and so to be able to read that out and to say, "These are the ways in which it affected me." I don't know if we read the Stanford case with Brock Turner. If you read that letter, it's available on BuzzFeed, and if you read that letter that she wrote afterwards, that it's just incredibly moving. And that's a very great example of how she was sharing that these are the ways in which these kinds of interventions can make a difference. She starts that letter with saying, "You don't know me, but you've been inside me, which is why we're talking." And so those kinds of interventions can really help. The one final thing that I would say about that is also that in doing this work, we also realize that justice means different things to different people. And so for somebody justice is a no contact order.
0:44:05.6 S1: "I do not ever want this in my life again. I do not want to have anything at all to do with this person anymore," which is what my sense of justice would be. It doesn't have to be everyone else's sense of justice, and it often isn't, and which is why we talk about sort of restorative justice and other kinds of measures, but what is very useful is really to also... And victim advocates can do that in a way that prosecutors are limited, both by their training, but also more importantly by their role, again, by their role, but that they can talk about, "Well, what does justice look like to you? What does it mean to you?" Sometimes it is that I have children with this person, I have... Whatever it is that not... Maybe, a course serial solution isn't always the best solution for everybody on every case and so forth. And so that's, again, something that has been certainly humbling for me to learn that there's... People think of justice also in very many different ways.
0:45:07.2 S1: And so there's that kind of work. And again, budgetary allocations, etcetera, can help there with... We also have things like making, for instance... I mean, there's domestic violence counseling, there's other kinds of things there are these non-penal forms that certainly, again, they would help. I can't see how attending a domestic violence counseling could harm. And so those kinds of things become possible with that. But I think a lot of it is really just understanding what justice looks like and also gently sort of encouraging people to think of different kinds of options. And then because oftentimes people are limited in terms of very many things, including community pressure. There's pressures from all kinds of sides, right? And sometimes there's pressure to stay together with someone you don't want to stay together with, sometimes there's pressure to... There's all kinds of things, and so victim advocates help with that too. Yeah.
0:46:13.0 S1: I do want to speak to opposition in general, right? And to legal opposition and some of these oppositions that we face. And I want to quickly do that in two minutes, that again, these are contentious issues. I mean, Jeremy, as you specialize in law, you know that there's often very different ways in which people are entering these conversations, right? Because oftentimes, some people are asking what will work, some people are asking what can we set a precedent to that we can reasonably assume will be used in the ways that... So there's various things like that. I know that in my work, I often... On one hand, there's a lot of work in my space that is around the disproportionate criminalizing of people of color, for instance, right? On the other hand, something that I have personally been very saddened by is that it creates perhaps an unintended, but nevertheless, strong pressure on women of color to remain silent about their abuses. Once again, in a sense, because what I hear from that messaging is that, again, the well-being of our perpetrators is more important because the state will disproportionately criminalize them, etcetera. And again, that's been hard to work with, so there are other kinds of challenges there that are... And so this issue of legal opposition to various kinds of things, I think is something that is very, very central to these kinds of projects that we do that there are often folks that are entering into.
0:47:43.4 S1: On one hand, you have folks that are saying, "Well, do we really want someone to get a slap on the wrist and be... Spend a night in jail for something like this?" And then you have somebody else who's saying, "We do not want prisons at all." And so how is that useful, right? So some of that is very contentious work to begin with. All of this, the space of law is a contentious space to begin with, and then when we bring in all of these highly charged issues into it, with communities, with deep political investments and different sorts of ideas of justice and so forth, that there is that. But again, my own solution, again, has been to think in terms of dialogue, to think in terms of, again... The point that Jeremy brought up, I think was very useful, but what are the victims saying? What is useful for them? What are... And if we listen to them, we find that they are saying a broad range of things, and so we do need a broad range of solutions.
0:48:44.9 S1: I don't think the one size fits all type of solution works in these kinds of cases. And again, to end, I do think that sort of acknowledging the pain that people go through because of these experiences, and I think to me, that's the first thing. I want the system to be able to do that better in so many ways, and so that's why we're talking all of these changes in law and in practice and that. But hearing those stories and how can we address that in ways that does not diminish those that are sharing what they're sharing, that's been important, certainly to my work. And I hope that we can continue to have those dialogues because I don't see any harm. I know that I'm personally criticized for this sometimes, but because I think, again, in academia too, there's like, "You don't talk to those people. These people are the left, those are the right, these are those, that are that, you don't talk... " And I have had the exact opposite approach. I will talk to anybody who will talk to me, and across disciplines, across the political spectrum, because I think that that's the way to build dialogue.
0:49:53.7 S1: That's the way to... That's my understanding of democracy. That's my understanding of how systems work. And so, bringing in different kinds of people into a room is, to my mind, is the solution. So I don't know if that helps in some way, but I think that that's, to my mind at least, that that is the direction. That we need to have these conversations and we need to talk to as many people who are different from us when we're having those conversations.