Episode 26: Maddy Ulbrick

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/11281520/height/100/width//thumbnail/yes/render-playlist/no/theme/custom/tdest_id/621398/custom-color/87A93A” height=”100″ width=”100%” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

In this episode of the Scarlet Letter, I chat with Madeleine Ulbrick, who has recently completed her PhD at Monash University on the topic of economic abuse, and the disproportionate effect that this form of abuse has on women. 

Check out the latest episode of our podcast, the Scarlet Letter.

New Conference Alert

ADDRESSING FILICIDE: Fourth International Conference for Cross National Dialogue

14 – 15 November, 2019, Deakin Downtown, Melbourne, Australia

This post was prepared by Professor Thea Brown, Emeritus Professor, Social Work, Monash University


Filicide is the killing of children by their parents.

The Monash Deakin Filicide Research Hub is now calling for abstracts and welcomes contributions to the forthcoming conference across all disciplines including law, psychology, social work, criminology, criminal justice, general medicine, psychiatry, nursing, policy research, academic, governmental and non-governmental
researchers, policy and program developers as well as from service organisations and victim advocacy and support groups.
The conference aims to address the following themes:

Types of filicide

All manifestations of filicide such as neonaticide, infanticide, single or multiple filicide, filicide-suicide, familicide, or any other intra-familial child homicide event.

Factors associated with filicide

Associated factors that are present or might a part of a filicide event including but not limited to, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, alcohol
abuse, family law, separation or divorce, criminal history.

Education and prevention

Explores the role of education and prevention for communities, professional, existing programs, policy initiatives, risk assessment strategies, etc.

Criminal Justice System and Filicide

Explore the interactions between the different parts of the criminal justice
system and filicide events such as police, forensic experts, prison
programs, child death review committees, coroners, etc.


Any new research relating to filicide and media coverage of filicide events.
Post filicide services Examines the existence and role of programs for victims, their families, and other filicide survivors that may be available.

Creating child safe organizations and filicide

Surveys the impact of the newly implemented child safety policy on filicide prevention


We would like to emphasise that other themes may present themselves to contributors that are equally as important and we are happy to consider additional issues and themes.

Abstracts should be 300 words long including the title of the paper. In addition please state the theme to be addressed, the authors’ names and addresses, (postal and email) and organisational address (postal and email).
Abstracts are to be emailed to conference@addressingfilicide.org

For further information please visit our web site http://www.addressingfilicide.org or contact the organising committee:
Professor Thea Brown
Social Work, Monash University

Dr Danielle Tyson
Criminology, Deakin University

Dr Paula Fernandez Arias
Social Work, Monash University

Law Needs Feminism Because…

Blog post by Mary Pirozek, Monash University Law Student and Amanda Selvarajah, Monash University Law Student

In mid 2018, Dr Becky Batagol approached me with an opportunity- she had just been in Canada and had seen something fantastic. In 2016, the Feminist Collective of the Faculty of Law at McGill University organised a photo campaign, showcasing a diversity of opinions why the law needs feminism. It was simple, yet powerful, with 33 individuals looking out into the camera and their reason superimposed above their head in their own handwriting. Since then, the team has gathered 1,000 portraits from across North America, organised National Forums and conferences, gathering feminist thinkers from students to judges. Becky wanted to do the same at Monash.


This is the first intercontinental campaign, and at first, I thought it would be easy- it was just a matter of lining people up, taking a photo, and writing up quotes. We quickly formed an excellent committee to organise all the elements- Laura Placella organises the social media, Amanda Selvarajah handled getting a photographer and other logistics, and Gabby Maginess handled the paperwork and the photography. Monash Education Academy soon came on board to fund the campaign, as it presented a way for Faculty members, especially the Monash Feminist Legal Studies Group, and students to work together. The photographer, Michelle McFarlane, was also very keen to lend her talents to the cause.

But the reality of what “Law Needs Feminism Because” required and what it hoped to achieve quickly became clear. To ask anyone to publicly use their face, name and identity to inspire a call to action for a cause so deeply necessary and overdue is a tall order. Standing in front of a camera at all is nerve-wracking, never mind when you’re doing so in the knowledge that you’ll be showcasing your innermost thoughts for a movement so intrinsically important to you.

It’s why I still stand in disbelief as I look at the bravery of our models and their diverse, honest and eye-opening points of view. Some focused on feminist jurisprudence, others the imminent career struggles and underrepresentation so many of us stand to face, many the experiences of women as they interact with the law and others provided insightful intersectional views, highlighting the pervasive gender inequalities that have found their way into the law from our larger, underlying social inequities. Across each photo, however, was also an undeniable optimism – that our words, this campaign and others like it would serve to push the needle forward.

Today, being able to see our photos side by side in the Law Library, serves as a powerful reminder that feminism and fights like it are won together and serves to offer just a few meaningful reasons as to why that fight is far from over. On an individual level, I had to confront my fears and insecurities to put my face and experience to the campaign. Yet when I saw my photo amongst all of the rest, all of those fears faded away. To take action requires a deep vulnerability but being part of a movement larger than yourself gives you strength to face that. The power of the Law Needs Feminism Movement is that it showcases each person’s unique perspective, acknowledging their individuality, and presents it as a collective which cannot be ignored.

So, we truly cannot be more grateful to Law Needs Feminism Because Canada, Dr Becky Batagol, the Monash Education Academy, Monash Feminist Legal Studies, the Monash Law Library, our executive committee and our incredible models for lending their time and support to such an incredible cause. For more information and further updates on Law Needs Feminism Because Monash please like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Mary Pirozek, Student in the Faculty of Law at Monash University 

Amanda Selvarajah, Student in the Faculty of Law at Monash University 

The Scarlet Letter Episode 25: Law Needs Feminism Because with Mary Pirozek


Mary Pirozek #LawNeedsFeminismBecause, Monash University, Michelle MacFarlane Photgraphy 2019


In this episode of the Scarlet letter, Tamara chats to one of our current law students, Mary Pirozek, who is implementing the Law Needs Feminism Because project at Monash University. Mary explains the origins and importance of this exciting exhibition, which is currently on display in the Law Library.

Check out the latest episode of our podcast, the Scarlet Letter.

Law Needs Feminism Because at Monash University is a ground-breaking project which involves the exhibition of a series of 31 candid, powerful photographic portraits designed to challenge viewers, raise questions and spark conversations about gender in the law (and the legal profession). The portraits are of Monash male and female law students, staff and alumni.

Our Monash Law exhibition will be the first Australian use of the successful Law Needs Feminism Because format used at 18 universities across Canada and the US. Students who have participated in the project in North America have reported better preparation for professional practice, deeper engagement with curriculum, closer relationships among student cohorts and greater engagement in research practice. Vanita Sachdeva, the McGill law student who started the first LNFB project has said of the impact of the photos: “Turns out the conversation wasn’t as passé as we thought – students were yearning for a venue to talk about their experiences, wanting to show their support, and students looking for mentors.” This project is supported by the Monash Feminist Legal Studies Group, the Law Library and Monash Education Academy.

If you’d like to follow the social media campaign, one portrait is being released each day in August on instagram and facebook.

Feminist PhD Opportunities

Three opportunities for PhD scholarships have come to my attention which would be appropriate for graduates in law.

If you are interested in exploring gender, social inclusion and law (and being paid to do it!) please think about applying.

woman hanoi

Hanoi by Roberto Trombetta CC BYNC 2.0

Scholarship 1: Assisted reproduction and new family formation (Marsden funded research project)

This project, based at Auckland University of Technology, NZ is under Associate Professor Sharyn Davies.

NZ is a global leader in the affirmation of sexual and reproductive rights, yet barriers to assisted reproductive technologies remain, particularly for single, poor, LGBTQ+, disabled, Māori and Pacific people, and new migrants.

Funded through Marsden (2019-2021), this research project uses cross-cultural comparative ethnography to explore for the first time the experiences of those unable to access state-funded assisted reproductive technologies, and who are thus rendered socially infertile.

The candidate will work alongside Associate Professor Sharyn Davies, Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere and will contribute to understandings of how people denied access to ART create families in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research aims to ensure that all people in Aotearoa are able to create families regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. The candidate’s research will focus on understanding the challenges in creating a family when ART is required but are access denied. The project will have a particular focus on people often excluded from such access, including LGBTQ, disabled people, single people, Muslim migrants, Māori and Pacific peoples. PhD projects focusing on Māori or Pacific groups are particularly welcome.

Aims of this research

  • Examine how these individuals form families, including through fertility travel
  • Formulate new ways of theorising kinship and family life
  • Promote acceptance of new forms of family

Applications close 31 October. Full info here.


Scholarships 2 and 3: Gender, Social inclusion and Water in Informal Settlements

Based at Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, and working under me, Associate Professor Becky Batagol and Dr Sheela Sinharoy, Emory University.
We’re looking for two research students from a broad range of backgrounds, especially anyone who has previously studied gender or/and international development. (Knowledge of water, WASH and water infrastructure is much less important.) We’d like someone with an honours and/or masters degree in anthropology, sociology, gender studies, international development, law, or similar. Strong experience with collecting and analyzing qualitative and/or mixed-methods data. International work experience with local partners/stakeholders is preferred but not required.

The project is an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Water for Women Fund grant, awarded to Monash and Emory universities to carry out research as a sub-study within the larger Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) project to assess what does – and doesn’t – work in co-design, from an intersectional gender perspective. The goal of this sub-study is to generate new evidence on an intersectional gender and socially inclusive co-design approach that addresses social and technical aspects of safely managed water and sanitation, as well as structural inequalities faced by able-bodied and disabled women and girls, including in leadership, self-efficacy, safety and inclusion.

RISE is an action-research program exploring how to make water and sanitation more sustainable and inclusive by trialling the water sensitive cities approach in 24 urban informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia and Suva, Fiji. Working alongside communities, governments, local leaders and partner institutions, the program aims to show that nature-based solutions – such as constructed wetlands and biofiltration gardens – can deliver low-impact, cost-effective health and environmental improvements. Underpinned by the emerging discipline of ‘planetary health’, RISE’s success will be measured by the health and wellbeing of residents – particularly children under five years of age – and the ecological diversity of the surrounding environment. More information can be found at www.rise-program.org.

We have 2 x 3-year scholarships going on this project.

  • Expected start: February 2020
    • Applications close: 5pm, Friday 30 August 2019
    • Domestic fees at Monash University covered
    • Stipend: AUD $27,872 p.a.
    • Please note that travel to research sites in Indonesia and Fiji is expected

More details here.

Please email me at Becky.batagol@monash.edu if interested in learning more. Please spread the word.


1 in 5 Australians is a victim of image-based abuse, despite new laws to prevent it

Anastasia Powell, RMIT University, Asher Flynn, Monash University, and Nicola Henry, RMIT University

This article was originally publish in The Conversation on 22 July 2019

A Perth man who pleaded guilty to distributing an intimate image of his ex-girlfriend without her consent has been sentenced to a 12-month intensive supervision order, sparing him jail time.

According to media reports, Mitchell Brindley repeatedly created fake Instagram accounts under the name of his ex-girlfriend and posted nude photographs of her on the site.

Brindley is the first to be convicted under new laws that came into effect in Western Australia in April. The new laws carry a maximum possible sentence of three years in jail and fines of up to A$18,000.

What is image-based sexual abuse?

Image-based sexual abuse (or IBSA) is defined as the non-consensual creation, distribution or threats to distribute nude or sexual images (photos or videos) of a person. It also includes altered imagery in which a person’s face or identifying marks appear in a pornographic photo or video, known colloquially as “deep fakes.”

Also known as “non-consensual pornography” or “revenge porn”, IBSA is an invasion of a person’s privacy and a violation of their human rights to dignity, sexual autonomy and freedom of expression.

According to a survey of 4,122 Australians we conducted for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in 2017, one in ten Australian respondents had experienced a nude or sexual image of themselves being distributed to others or posted online without their consent. Young women aged 18 to 24 were among the most commonly victimised, as were Indigenous Australians and those with a mobility or communicative disability.

Prevalence of image-based sexual abuse among demographic groups in Australia. Office of the eSafety Commissioner

In a separate survey we conducted, we found the creation of nude or sexual images was even more prevalent. Of the 4,274 Australians aged 16 to 49 years that we surveyed, 20% said that someone had taken or created a nude or sexual image of them without their consent. Of those surveyed, 9% had experienced threats that a nude or sexual image of them would be shared.

Read more: How making ‘revenge porn’ a federal crime would combat its rise

When the creation, distribution and threats to distribute a nude or sexual image were combined, we found that more than one in five (23%) Australians had experienced at least one of these behaviours.

We also asked our survey participants whether they had ever perpetrated image-based sexual abuse. One in 10 reported they had taken, distributed or made threats to distribute a nude or sexual image of another person without that person’s consent. Men (13.7%) were almost twice as likely as women (7.4%) to admit to doing this.

How does IBSA impact victims?

Though the term “revenge porn” implies that the non-consensual sharing of nude or sexual images is based on the spiteful actions of jilted ex-lovers, research suggests the motivations for these behaviours – and the impacts on victims – are far more varied.

For instance, image-based sexual abuse is one way perpetrators of domestic violence attempt to coercively control a current or former intimate partner. Police and service providers have also described to us how images are used to threaten victims of sexual and domestic violence in order to prevent them from seeking help and reporting to police.

Read more: Revenge porn laws may not be capturing the right people

In other cases, nude and sexual images have been used as a form of bullying and harassment, particularly of young people. This can have severe impacts on a victim’s mental well-being, sometimes resulting in self-harm.

Many victims also experience high levels of psychological and emotional distress. In our study, we found approximately one in three people who experienced IBSA felt fearful for their safety – an indicator of potential stalking or intimate partner abuse being linked to the sharing of images online.

The impacts of image-based sexual abuse on victims. Office of the eSafety Commissioner

Justice responses to IBSA in Australia

Australian laws have come a long way in terms of responding to IBSA. Tasmania is the only state or territory in Australia not to have made it a specific criminal offence.

Several states and territories also allow victims of domestic or family violence to order their partners to destroy any intimate images they may have and prohibit them from distributing such images.

IBSA is also criminalised at the federal level under the Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Act, which was passed last year.

Read more: FactCheck Q&A: are there laws to protect against ‘revenge porn’ in Australia?

Yet some victims of IBSA don’t want to go through the emotional burden of pursuing criminal charges against a perpetrator. They just want the abuse to stop and the images to be taken off the internet, removed or destroyed. In such cases, victims can report their case to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, which can issue formal removal notices to social media companies and other online platforms.

Image-based sexual abuse remains a social, health, legal and criminal policy challenge. Sadly, our previous research has found that not all Australians take this form of harm seriously, though there is widespread support for a criminal justice response which reflects the harm image-based sexual abuse can cause.

It is therefore important we continue with a multifaceted approach including education, prevention and training, as well as support services and justice responses, in order to properly address this type of intimate harassment and abuse.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner operates an online portal with information, advice and assistance for victims of image-based sexual abuse. Visit https://www.esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/

The National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Anastasia Powell, Associate Professor of Criminology and Justice Studies, RMIT University

Asher Flynn, Associate Professor of Criminology, Monash University

Nicola Henry, Associate Professor & Vice-Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation. Read the original article.

Brunei wants to punish gay sex with death by stoning – can boycotts stop it?

Paula Gerber, Monash University

This article was originally publish in The Conversation on 16 April 2019

The sultan of Brunei has been on the throne for 52 years, making him the second-longest reigning monarch in the world, after Queen Elizabeth II.

In Brunei – a rather traditional, deeply Muslim Southeast Asian country – the sultan is known for leading a decadent life.

Vanity Fair once dubbed Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and his brother, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, “constant companions in hedonism.” They spend lavishly on luxury cars, yachts and real estate, and according to the magazine, “allegedly sent emissaries to comb the globe for the sexiest women they could find in order to create a harem the likes of which the world had never known.”

Now, Brunei’s sultan appears to have found religion.

He has implemented a harsh interpretation of Sharia – Islamic law – in his country, taking aim at LGBT people, women and even children with some of the world’s harshest penalties for homosexual conduct.

Under Brunei’s new laws, gay sex and adultery can result in death by stoning, and having an abortion is punishable by public flogging. Dressing in clothing associated with a different sex may incur a fine and imprisonment up to three months. Younger children can be whipped for these offenses.

Diversion from economic woes

These laws represent serious breaches of international human rights law, my field of academic expertise.

Thirty-six countries – including the United States, United Kingdom, Argentina and Australia – recently issued a joint statement expressing “profound dismay” at Brunei’s penal code, which the United Nations has deemed “cruel and unusual.”

Why is Brunei’s sultan suddenly so keen to enforce Sharia across this island nation of 430,000?

One of the main reasons may be plunging global oil prices. For the first time, the oil-rich nation of Brunei is grappling with economic crisis.

Other countries have similarly whipped up hatred against LGBT peopleto distract the public’s attention from economic crisis or corruption allegations.

The sultan may also be seeking to rehabilitate his reputation as a “party boy.”

“This is obviously not coming from a place of religious devotion, since the sultan himself is in violation of every single rule of Sharia you could possibly imagine,” religious scholar Reza Aslan told the New York Post in 2014, when the sultan first flagged his intention to impose strict Islamic law in Brunei.

Perhaps the Sultan thinks that implementing Sharia will enable him to leave a religious legacy that outweighs his decades of very public excess and indulgence.

Do boycotts work?

As a way of trying to get the Sultan to change his mind about imposing these harsh penalties within Brunei, many celebrities and gay rights advocates are calling for boycotts of the sultan’s international hotels and of Royal Brunei Airlines.

Ellen DeGeneres


Tomorrow, the country of will start stoning gay people to death. We need to do something now. Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up.

But evidence suggests that boycotts are not the most effective way to influence foreign governments.

For one, they can cause the offending government to harden its position to show it will not give in to foreign pressure. That can make it harder to work collaboratively with leaders of that country to actually improve the situation.

That’s what happened in Uganda in 2014, when President Yoweri Museveni introduced some of the word’s toughest anti-gay laws.

“I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose,” he said. “Outsiders cannot dictate to us. This is our country.”

This risk is compounded by the evident double standard of an international boycott of Brunei and the sultan’s businesses. Other countries that impose the death penalty for same-sex sexual conduct – including Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia – are not subjected to similar global condemnation.

Who can stop the sultan?

The United Nations may stand a better chance of curbing Brunei’s behavior.

Brunei’s human rights record will be reviewed by the U.N.‘s Human Rights Council next month, as part of a regular assessment called the Universal Periodic Review – a relatively new process described by the International Bar Association as “the most progressive arena for the protection of the LGBTI community internationally.”

Though the Universal Periodic Review has no power to enforce its recommendations, it has shown some success in advancing human rights in U.N. member countries. Its method is to foster dialogue with and between governments and civil society, create a plan for improving rights and closely monitoring progress.

Brunei’s allies and neighbors are also well placed to put pressure on the sultan.

Research has found that if a state is criticized by one of its strategic partners, it is more likely to accept that criticism than if it comes from a state with which it has fewer ties.

Brunei is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 sovereign states, most of them former British colonies. Its biannual Heads of Government Meeting, set to take place in Rwanda next year, is a potential forum for meaningful dialogue about the state of LGBTQ rights across the Commonwealth of Nations, since Brunei is one of 35 Commonwealth countries that still criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct.

If negotiations with Brunei are unsuccessful, the Commonwealth of Nations can take the powerful step of suspending its membership. That would prevent Brunei from participating in group meetings and events – including the popular Commonwealth Games, which have been described as “sport with a social conscience.”

This step was previously taken in response to grave human rights violations committed by Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Over 100 LGBTQ and human rights groups from Southeast Asia have also called on the Association of South East Asian Nations – ASEAN, a regional intergovernmental organization – to take a hard line against member state Brunei, saying its new laws “legitimize violence.”

But ASEAN’s non-binding 2012 declaration of human rights – which does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and contains imprecise language that significantly dilutes its power – seems unlikely to demand an institutional response.

Does the sultan mean it?

There is concern that Brunei’s imposition of hard-line Sharia will embolden its Muslim majority neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, to follow suit.

Malaysia already applies Islamic law in some states. Last September, two women found guilty of attempting to have sex were sentenced to be, and were, caned.

In nearby Indonesia, gay sex is legal in all but one province, but homophobia and transphobia are rising nationwide, and recent talk of criminalizing gay sex has LGBTQ Indonesians worried.

Brunei, it’s important to note, has not actually used the death penalty since 1957.

An optimist could conclude that the new laws are mostly symbolic – designed to beef up the sultan’s Islamic credentials and garner favor with other Muslim countries to boost trade and tourism.

That interpretation, however, is unlikely to diminish the fear of the vulnerable minorities targeted by Brunei’s Sharia laws.

Paula Gerber, Professor in the Faculty of Law at Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation. Read the original article.