A Case for Humanity in the Law of Rape.

Yvette Russell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


One of Irigaray’s most insistent criticisms of the operation of patriarchal law is its overwhelming focus on the protection of property at the expense of law that regulates relations between and amongst persons. This paper argues, with reference to Irigaray’s work, that the conceptual change involved in such a reorientation of law’s focus has important implications for the legal perception of the harm of rape and woman’s sexuality. The possessive paradigm operates in the law of rape by disassociating the harm of rape from its psychic and subjective impact and encouraging the ‘simple’rape/ ‘real’ rape dichotomy. In returning subjectivity to woman herself we can begin to see perhaps how the crime of rape involves a harm to woman that affects the whole of her being, and to be. Such a reading allows the law to perhaps move away from understanding rape as a violation of undifferentiated bodies to a violation of the innate ‘virginity’ of woman.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 22 Mar 2013

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