“Rugged Vaginas” and “Vulnerable Rectums”: The Sexual Identity, Epidemiology, and Law of the Global HIV Epidemic

Aziza Ahmed

AIDS remains amongst the leading causes of death globally. Identity is the primary mode of understanding HIV and organizing in response to the HIV epidemic. In this Article, I examine how epidemiology and human rights activism co-produce ideas of identity and risk. I call this the “identity/risk narrative”: the commonsense understanding about an identity group’s HIV risk. For example, epidemiology offers the biological narrative of risk: anal sex and the weak rectal lining make men who have sex with men more vulnerable to HIV; while the fragility of a woman’s vaginal wall provides a biological foundation for women’s vulnerability. These biological narratives underpin rights-claiming in international human rights institutions: many women’s rights activists and gay rights activists rely on these biological ideas of risk to define their groups and demand legal and policy change. The corresponding legal projects emanate from identity driven projects.

When Might Does Not Create Religious Rights: For-Profit Corporations’ Employees and the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Kathryn S. Benedict

It is classic Christian theology that “ye cannot serve God and mammon.” And yet, there are currently thirty-eight lawsuits pending that make the claim that not only does a for-profit corporation have religious rights, but also that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Women’s Health Amendment’s contraceptive coverage mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by infringing on for-profit corporations’ religious rights.

This Note provides an in-depth look at the specific claims raised by for profit corporations challenging the contraceptive coverage mandate. Part I will first compare the legal standard under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with the legal standard under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, an idiosyncrasy that stems from the Supreme Court’s watershed decision of Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v Smith. Part I will also give a brief background of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Women’s Health Amendment (WHA), and the contraceptive coverage mandate. Part II will provide a framework for analyzing the decisions issued so far, dividing the relevant arguments into three categories: corporations’ religious rights, RFRA, and the Free Exercise Clause. Part II will use those categories as a structure for discussing the courts’ analyses of the contraceptive coverage mandate. Lastly, Part III will address the three questions posed by these litigations using the categories developed in Part II, and will suggest that the key to answering these questions lies in recognizing the unrepresented but central interests of a third party in these lawsuits: the employees whose access to contraceptive services hangs in the balance.

Lethal Self-Defense Against a Rapist and the Challenge of Proportionality: Jewish Law Perspective

Benjamin Porat

Is a victim of sexual assault permitted, similar to a victim of a life-threatening attack, to defend herself by using deadly force against the attacker? While the practical significance of this question is quite self-evident, of no lesser importance are its theoretical foundations, mainly with regard to the conceptual question of proportionality. This Article will analyze the issue from a Jewish law perspective, alongside an intensive comparative legal discussion. Jewish law appears to present an approach far more complex than what may be gleaned at first blush, weaving together two parallel and complementary realms: on the level of theoretical law, Jewish law maintains complete proportionality between the severity of the assaults and the measure of self-defense employed to repel it, and as a result limits the permissibility of killing a rapist in self-defense. However, the unique design of the law gives rise to an additional level of law in practice, in which deadly force against a potential rapist is broadly sanctioned in nearly all cases, and prohibition of such self-defense is rare to non-existent. In practice, the principle of proportionality is interpreted leniently, in favor of the victim. This duality is of great significance, allowing the law to mold a complex approach capable of embodying numerous contradictory considerations. Such duality may lend a new perspective to the current discourse in legal literature on this issue, fostering conceptual diversity in the study of self defense.