#GJURebels: Scotland and Malawi team up for non-consensual image based abuse research
Welcome to the first in a series of guest blog posts focusing on a joint project between RebLaw Scotland and the Gender and Justice Unit in Malawi. In this article, Eleanor Livingstone (an alumna of the School of Law) talks about the work of the GJU and RebLaw Scotland and their shared vision regarding social justice and their plans for collaboration.
The Gender and Justice Unit and RebLaw Scotland are excited to be embarking on a collaborative project exploring issues of law and gender. The first area of particular focus will be on non-consensual image based abuse. As two organisations passionate about using law as a tool for social justice with a particular focus on gender issues, we hope to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the discourse on this pressing legal issue.
The Gender and Justice Unit is based in Lilongwe, Malawi and was founded in 2017 on the belief that legal empowerment is one of the most effective catalysts for gender equality and social justice. The GJU has already spearheaded work such as research into the civil justice needs of rural and peri-urban women and a legal clinic which provides representation on matters related to the overall mission of the Unit. By harnessing the experience of members of the Malawian legal community, the GJU aims to meet the pressing need for specialised gender-sensitive legal advice and bridge the gap between the existence of legal recourse and meaningful access to justice for women.
RebLaw Scotland was founded in 2017 and is based at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. An offshoot of the wider RebLaw movement started at Yale Law School, RebLaw Scotland was born through a desire to create a forum through which to harness the passion and talent of legal professionals in Scotland who are committed to furthering social justice. The first RebLaw Scotland Conference was held in November 2017 and brought together lawyers working across issues as diverse as homelessness, equality, criminal law reform and children’s rights. Since then RebLaw Scotland has become an established contributor to discourses on legal activism and reform in Scotland, and hopes to continue to build on this success by contributing to research and legal education in a range of areas.
These two organisations, based thousands of miles apart, share a powerful a common vision: for law to operate in a way which benefits and is accessible to those most in need of its protection. This means a belief in the power of lawyers to contribute to challenging the structures which maintain and perpetuate inequalities as well as a desire to use legal education, research, activism and collaboration to do so. At present, the sharing of intimate images without consent represents a direct attack on the rights of individual women. Beyond this, the practice offers a powerful paradigm through which to explore the potential of gender-sensitive approaches to law in providing a meaningful source of protection and empowerment. It is our hope that this project will make a unique contribution to this discussion by drawing on both the contrasting and shared experiences of Malawi and Scotland. We can’t wait to get started, and look forward to sharing our work!
~ Eleanor Livingstone