Law and Feminism Research Group

Lady Justice

This research group brings together and highlights the research strengths and expertise of Western Law faculty and graduate students working on and interested in feminist perspectives on law and equality issues, nationally and internationally. This includes feminist legal theory, policy, advocacy, and social justice issues, broadly conceived. Feminism recognizes connections between diverse women’s issues and other social relations of inequality organized around race, Indigeneity, ethnicity, gender and sexuality and ability differences, class, religion, and age. 

Established in 2019, the purpose and short and longer term goals of the group are to make more visible the energetic, dynamic and palpable feminist presence in the law school by highlighting our contributions to legal scholarship, law reform and education. This will include establishing a Feminism in Law Speakers Series, Working Paper Series, reading and discussion group, and annual feminist research workshop. We also hope to make connections outside the Law Faculty and University with feminist scholars and activists, and bring their work to the attention of our law community.


  • Erika Chamberlain – Torts including domestic violence and sexual harassment, Trusts, Public Authority Liability, Misfeasance in a Public Office, Modern Legal History
  • Gillian Demeyere - Contract Law, Employment Law, Human Rights, Feminist Legal Theory
  • Claire Houston - Family Law, Children's Law, Criminal and Constitutional Law, and Feminist Legal Theory
  • Valerie Oosterveld - International criminal law (including sexual and gender-based crimes); transitional justice; Feminist International Legal Theory
  • Melanie Randall – Gendered Violence and the Law, Feminist Legal Theory, Human Rights Law, Equality Law, Tort Law
  • Zoë Sinel – Private Law, Torts, Unjust Enrichment, Remedies, Legal Theory, Feminist Legal Theory


  • Feminism and Law Speaker Series Inaugural Speaker: Professor Jennifer Nedelsky, Osgoode Hall Law School, “A Care Manifesto: (Part) Time for All,” February 1, 2019.
  • Professor Jennifer Llewellyn, “Restorative justice and Human Rights: Responding to Sexual Harassment and Gender Issues,” October 31, 2019.
  • Robyn Doolittle, “The Power Gap: Gender Discrimination in Law Firms, Universities and Corporations,” November 15, 2021.
  • Professor Anita Bernstein, "Making the Best of Semen," March 21, 2024. 

Relevant Publications

Erika Chamberlain

Chamberlain, “Revisiting Canada’s Approach to Fiduciary Relationships” in Andrew Robertson & Michael Tilbury, editors, Divergences in Private Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2016) 225-44. (deals with Norberg v Wynrib, and sexual abuse/incest cases)

Chamberlain, “To Serve and Protect Whom? Proximity in Cases of Police Failure to Protect” (2016) 53 Alberta Law Review 977-993.

Chamberlain, “Negligent Investigation:  Tort Law as Police Ombudsman” in Andrew Robertson & Tang Hang Wu, editors, The Goals of Private Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2009) 283-310.(this and the article below both deal with claims by women who suffered domestic violence even after complaining to police about their abusers)

Chamberlain, “Tort Claims for Failure to Protect: Reasons for (Cautious) Optimism Since Mooney” (2012) 75 Saskatchewan Law Review 245-268.

“A Classical Perspective on the Modern Workplace: The Aristotelian Conflict in Sexual Harassment Litigation” (2002) 15 Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 3.

Gillian Demeyere

"Common Law Actions for Sexual Harassment: The Jurisdiction Question Revisited" (2005), 8 Queen's Law Journal 637.

Claire Houston

The Trouble with Feminist Advocacy Around Child Victims of Domestic Violence, 39 Women’s Rights Law Reporter 85 (2018). 

What Ever Happened to the Child Maltreatment Revolution? 19 Georgetown Journal of Gender and Law 1 (2017).

How Feminist Theory Became (Criminal) Law: Tracing the Path to Mandatory Criminal Interventions in Domestic Violence Cases (2014) 21 Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 217 (2014) (reprinted in Nancy K.D. Lemon, Domestic Violence Law, 5th ed., 2018).

Melanie Randall

Book Chapters:

“Introduction: Marital Rape and Law Reform: A Comparative Analysis of the Right to Say No” In The Right to Say No: Marital Rape and Law Reform in Canada, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, co-edited with Jennifer Koshan and Patricia Mande Nyaundi. Hart Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2017.

“Marital Rape and Sexual Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships: The Less Recognized Form of Domestic Violence” in The Right to Say No: Marital Rape and Law Reform in Canada, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, co-edited with Jennifer Koshan and Patricia Mande Nyaundi. Hart Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2017.

“Normative and International Human Rights Law Imperatives for Criminalizing Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: The Marital Rape Impunity in Comparative and Historical Perspective,” Vasanthi Venkatesh and Melanie Randall, In The Right to Say No: Marital Rape and Law Reform in Canada, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, co-edited with Jennifer Koshan and Patricia Mande Nyaundi. Hart Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2017.

“Equality Rights and the Charter: Reconceptualizing State Accountability For Ending Domestic Violence” in F. Faraday, et al., eds., Making Equality Rights Real: Securing Substantive Equality under the Charter. Toronto: Irwin, 2006.


“The Impact of Trauma on Adult Sexual Assault Victims,” co-authored with Dr. Lori Haskell, Justice Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 2019.

“Criminalizing Sexual Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships: State Obligations Under Human Rights Law,” (with Vasanthi Venkatesh) 109 American Journal of International Law Unbound, 189 January 7, 2016.

"Criminalizing Sexual Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships: Why Sexual Assault in Intimate Relationships Must Be Criminalized as Required by International Human Rights Law:

A Response to the Symposium Comments," co-authored with Vasanthi Venkatesh, 109 American Journal of International Law Unbound 342 (May 17, 2016).

Randall, Melanie and Venkatesh, Vasanthi, “The Right to No: The Crime of Marital Rape, Women’s Human Rights, and International Law” Brooklyn Journal of International Law, Dec 2015.

“Particularized Social Groups and Categorical Imperatives in Refugee Law: State Responsibility and the Legal Reception of Gender Persecution Claims in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.,” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Fall, 2015.

“Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence? From Vaguely Hostile Skeptic to Cautious Convert: Why Feminists Should Critically Engage with Restorative Approaches to Law,” (2013) 36 Dal Law J, 461- 499.

Co-authored with Lori Haskell, “Trauma-informed Approaches to Law: Why Restorative Justice Must Understand Trauma and Psychological Coping” (2013) 36 Dal Law J, 500-533.

“The Judicial Treatment of Consent in Canadian Sexual Assault Law: Legal and Social Challenges in Criminal Processing of Marital Rape Cases,” (article manuscript, for The Equality Effect) completed and submitted to Justice Canada, 2011, online at 

"Sexual Assault Law, Credibility, and ‘Ideal Victims’: Consent, Resistance and Victim Blaming," (2010) 22 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 397.

“Disrupted Attachments: A Social Context Complex Trauma Framework and the Lives of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada,” (co-authored with Lori Haskell), Journal of Aboriginal Health, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 48-99, November 2009.

“Private law, the State and the Duty to Protect: Tort Actions for Police Failures in Gendered Violence Cases” In Supreme Court Reports, Volume 44, 2009, and Critical Torts, Sanda Rodgers, Rakhi Ruparelia, Louise Bélanger-Hardy eds., Toronto: Butterworths, 2009.

“Honest But Mistaken Judicial Beliefs About Sexual Assault in Spousal Relationships, Consent and the Law: When No Doesn’t Mean No” University of Manitoba Law Journal32(1), 2008.

Review of “Rethinking Domestic Violence,” UBC L Rev, 2008.

“Compensating the Harms of Sexual and Domestic Violence: Tort Law, Insurance and the Role of the State” (With Craig Brown) (Fall, 2004) 30 Queen’s Law Journal 311-347.

“Domestic Violence and the Construction of “Ideal Victims:” Assaulted Women’s “Image Problems” in Law” (2004) XXIII St. Louis University Public Law Review 107-154.

“Refugee Law and State Accountability for Violence Against Women: A Comparative Analysis of Legal Approaches to Asylum Claims Based on Gender Persecution” (2002) 25 Harvard Women’s Law Journal, 25th Anniversary Issue, 281-318.

“Sex Discrimination, Accountability of Public Authorities, and the Public/Private Divide in Tort Law: An Analysis of Doe v. Metropolitan Toronto (Municipality) Commissioners of Police” (2001) 26 Queen’s Law Journal, 451-495.

“Pregnant Embodiment and Women’s Autonomy Rights in Law: An Analysis of the Language and Politics of Winnipeg Child and Family Services v. D.F.G.” (1999) 62 Saskatchewan Law Review, 515-542.

(With L. Haskell) “The Politics of Women’s Safety: Sexual Violence, Women’s Fear and the Public/Private Split,” In “Confronting Violence in Women’s Lives” Special Issue of Resources for Feminist Research, vol. 26, nos. 3-4, Fall/Winter, 1998-1999.

(With L. Haskell) “Sexual Violence in Women’s Lives: Findings from the Women’s Safety Project, a Community based survey.” Violence Against Women, (Sage Publications) vol. 1, no. 1, March, 1995.

"Feminism and the State: Questions for Theory and Practice." In "Feminist Perspectives on the Canadian State," Special theme issue: Resources for Feminist Research, Vol. 17, No. 3, (September 1988), pp. 10-16.

Newspaper and other Media Columns

“Sexual assault in spousal relationships: The right to say no,” (with Jennifer Koshan) Lawyers Daily, January 17, 2018.

“Safety on campus shouldn’t require the muzzling of ideas,” Op-Ed, Globe and Mail, November 23, 2017 (online and national print edition).

“Marital rape myths have no place in Canadian law,” Op-Ed with Jennifer Koshan, and Elizabeth Sheehy, Globe and Mail, October 27, 2017

“Judges need more education about sexual assault,” Op-Ed, Ottawa Citizen, March 22, 2017.

Valerie Oosterveld

Book Chapters:

“Forced Marriage”, in Naomi Cahn, Dina Haynes, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Nahla Valji (eds.), Gender and Conflict Handbook (Oxford University Press, 2017) 240-252.

“Women and Girls Fleeing Conflict: Gender and the Interpretation and Application of the 1951 Refugee Convention”, in Volker Türk, Alice Edwards and Cornelius Wouters (eds.), In Flight from Conflict and Violence: UNHCR's Consultations on Refugee Status and Other Forms of International Protection (Cambridge University Press, 2016) 183-214.

“Crimes Against Humanity”, in Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Alette Smeulers (eds.), Companion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Elgar Publishers, 2016) 110-139.

(with Patricia Viseur-Sellers) “The Contributions of the ECCC on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence”, in Simon Meisenberg and Ignaz Stegmiller (eds.), The Hybrid Contributions of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to International Criminal Law (TMC Asser/Springer, 2016) 321-351.

"Procedural Steps Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence: the Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and its Application in the Special Court for Sierra Leone", A Compendium on the Legacy of the ICTR and the Development of International Law (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 2016):

“Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone: The Contribution of Transitional Justice Mechanisms to Domestic Law Reform” in Kirsten Ainley, Rebekka Friedman and Christopher Mahony (eds.), Evaluating Transitional Justice: Accountability and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) 129-151.

“The Representation of Rape by the Special Court for Sierra Leone”, in Doris Buss, Joanne Lebert, Blair Rutherford, Donna Sharkey and Obijiofor Aginam (eds.), Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: International Agendas and African Contexts (New York: Routledge, 2014) 145-157.

“Evaluating the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Gender Jurisprudence”, in Charles C. Jalloh (ed.), The Sierra Leone Special Court and its Legacy: The Impact for Africa and International Criminal Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013) 234-259.

“Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution as an International Crime" in Anne-Marie de Brouwer, Charlotte Ku, Renée Romkens and Larissa van den Herik (eds.), Sexual Violence as an International Crime: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Antwerp: Intersentia, 2012) 57-78.

“Contextual Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Violence Crimes” in Morten Bergsmo (ed.), Thematic Investigation and Prosecution of International Sex Crimes (Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2012) 189-206.

“The Implications for Women of a Shrinking Humanitarian Space” in Benjamin Perrin (ed.), Modern Warfare: Armed Groups, Private Militaries, Humanitarian Organizations, and the Law (UBC Press, 2012) 246-266.

“Gender-Based Crimes Against Humanity” in Leila Sadat (ed.), Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011; in paperback 2013) 78-101.

“Gender Issues, Stocktaking and the Kampala ICC Review Conference” in Beth Van Schaack et al., Beyond Kampala: Next Steps for U.S. Principled Engagement with the International Criminal Court (ASIL: Washington D.C., 2010) 66-83.

“Women’s Rights and International Criminal Law” in David Forsythe (ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 358-362.

“Prosecution of Gender-Based Genocide in International Law” in Samuel Totten (ed.), The Plight and Fate of Women During and Following Genocide in Volume 7 of Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2009) 205-218.

“Prosecution of Gender-Based Crimes in International Law” in Dyan Mazurana, Angela Raven-Roberts and Jane Parpart (eds.), Gender, Conflict  and Peacekeeping (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Oxford, 2005) 67-82.

Law Journal/Review Articles:

“The ICC Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes: A Crucial Step for International Criminal Law” (2018) 24(3) William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 1-15.

“The Special Court for Sierra Leone: Initial Structural and Procedural Decisions on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” (2015-16) 46 Cambrian Law Review 131-150.

“Constructive Ambiguity and the Meaning of ‘Gender’ for the International Criminal Court” (2014) 16(4) International Feminist Journal of Politics 563-580.

“Gender at the Intersection of International Refugee Law and International Criminal Law” (2014) 12 Journal of International Criminal Justice 953-974.

“Sexual Violence Directed Against Men and Boys in Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocity: Addressing a Gendered Harm in International Criminal Tribunals” (2014) 10(1) Journal of International Law and International Relations 107-128.

(with Laura McLeod, Rachel Johnson, Sheila Meintjes and Alice Brown) “Gendering Processes of Institutional Design: Activists at the Negotiating Table” (2014) 16(2) International Feminist Journal of Politics 354-369.

“The Influence of Domestic Legal Traditions on the Gender Jurisprudence of International Criminal Tribunals”, (2013) 2(4) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 825-849.

“Gender and the Charles Taylor Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone” (2012) 19(1) William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 7-34.

“Forced Marriage and the Special Court for Sierra Leone: Legal Advances and Conceptual Difficulties” (2011) 2(2) Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies 127-158.

“Atrocity Crimes Litigation Year-in-Review (2010): A Gender Perspective” (2011) 9(3) Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights 239-266.

“The Gender Jurisprudence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone: Progress in the Revolutionary United Front Judgments” (2011) 44(1) Cornell International Law Journal 49-74.

“Feminist Debates on Civilian Women and International Humanitarian Law” (2009) 27(2) Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 385-402.

“Lessons from the Special Court for Sierra Leone on the Prosecution of Gender-Based Crimes” (2009) 17(2) American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 407-430.

“The Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Consideration of Gender-based Violence: Contributing to Transitional Justice?” (2009) 10(1) Human Rights Review 73-98.

"The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Child Soldiers and Forced Marriage: Providing Clarity or Confusion?" (2007) 45 Canadian Yearbook of International Law 131-171 (published 2009).

“Gender, Persecution and the International Criminal Court: Refugee Law’s Relevance to the Crime Against Humanity of Gender-Based Persecution” (2006) 17(1) Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 49-89.

“Gender-Sensitive Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Lessons Learned for the International Criminal Court” (2005) 12(1) New England Journal of International and Comparative Law 119-133.

"The Definition of ‘Gender’ in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Step Forward or Back for International Criminal Justice?" (2005) 18 Harvard Human Rights Journal 55-84, republished in Zoe Pearson and Sari Kouvo, Gender and International Law (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2013) chapter 36.

“Sexual Slavery and the International Criminal Court: Advancing International Law” (2004) 25(3) Michigan Journal of International Law 605-651.

Zoë Sinel

“Consortium as a ‘Right’ in the Law of Torts,” in Jason Neyers, Andrew Botterell, and Zoë Sinel, eds, Gerald Fridman and the Law of Obligations: Past, Present and Future (forthcoming 2019).