14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9
Karime Parodi Ambel, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UCLA
Within the last ten years, several Latin American Supreme Courts have designed strategies to promote “gender-sensitive judging” and to improve women’s access to justice. Yet female victims of gendered offenses (e.g., sexual assault) continue to face obstacles to accessing justice throughout the region. To counter this problem, the Chilean Supreme Court has recently spearheaded efforts to promote a perspectiva de género (“gendered perspective”) in the judiciary. But what does the “gendered perspective” mean in the Chilean courts? This research examines the Chilean Supreme Court’s efforts and tracks how these issues are playing out with respect to gendered crimes in the Chilean judiciary while it critically interrogates how categories such as “gender,” “gender sensitive-judging,” and “gendered perspective” are used by several actors both within Chile and in the international sphere. Thus, the project asks: To what extent are Chile’s recently implemented “gender-sensitive” approaches transforming the Chilean criminal justice system, and what are female victims’ experiences and perceptions about justice when it comes to gendered offenses? Using both linguistic and ethnographic methods, the project will document how legal actors are responding to the promotion of the “gendered perspective” and how victims of gendered offenses conceptualize justice. For this project I draw from a twelve-month period of ethnographic fieldwork in Santiago, Chile, in which I conducted court observations, shadowing of prosecutors and defense attorneys, participant observation with victim-activist groups, and in-depth interviews with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victims. My preliminary findings suggest that gender-sensitive efforts within the Chilean legal system offer several paradoxes which need to be overcome in order to allow for a meaningful change in access to justice for women.
About Karime Parodi Ambel
I am a socio-cultural anthropologist with a background in legal and humanistic studies. My main research interests are Latin American courts, global trends on gender-sensitive judging and the cultural study of law. My dissertation research tackles to what extent the Chilean Supreme Court’s gender sensitive-judging program is having an impact on the Chilean judiciary at large. I explore this question ethnographically by focusing on criminal courts and looking at domestic violence hearings and sexual assault trials. I examine whether legal actors’ practices are being shaped by the gender perspective (perspectiva de género) and I critically examine how judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys understand the concept.
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