Senator Marilou McPhedran podcast on sexual harassment, bullying and organisational culture


FEMRAM member Senator Marilou McPhedran was a guest at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary  on Nov. 13, 2018. She presented recent research on sexual harassment and spoke about unwanted sexual attention, bullying and the culture of medicine and science more generally. Listen to the podcast Sexual harassment, bullying and the culture of medicine: A conversation with Senator Marilou McPhedran.

Read the full news item from the University of Calgary here. Read the National Academies report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine here.

Senator McPhedran is a leading Canadian legal advocate for human rights for women and girls.

FEMRAM member Lise Gotell on UN panel



FEMRAM member Landrex Distinguished Professor Lise Gotell was featured on the UN Safe Cities forum. The panel also included Status of Women Minister Danielle Larivee, Purna Sen, Director of Policy at UN Women, and Muriel Stanley Venne, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. CBC Edmonton covered the event in the October 16, 2018 event Edmonton exploring how to make public spaces safer for women.  Continue reading

Elizabeth Sheehy in the news


Professor Elizabeth Sheehy was featured in an excellent article Family Court’s handling of violence under scrutiny by Teuila Fuatai 

The article was about Sheehy’s talk as part of a panel on family law at the University of Auckland.  Lawyer Catriona MacLennan and Deborah MacKenzie of the Backbone Collective also spoke on the panel. Sheehy questioned the use of “parental alienation” in family court and the minimisation of domestic violence that often results from it.



Marilou McPhedran in the news


Senator Marilou McPhedran was quoted in the Globe and Mail article Canadian medical schools put under the lens to address harms of patient sexual abuse about efforts to include sexual assault prevention in medical training and improve other aspects of health care related to sexual assault.

McPhedran has been working to address sexual abuse in Canada for many years. She chaired the independent Minister’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 in 2015 and two other inquiries on the same issue in 1991 and 2001.

McPhedran is a human rights lawyer, educator, and advocate for women’s rights. She is co-founder of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and the Gerstein Crisis Centre for homeless discharged psychiatric patients.

Elizabeth Sheehy to speak in New Zealand


Professor Elizabeth Sheehy will speak at a New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse event “Parental alienation” and family courts: A conversation on research and practice

When; Tuesday 20 March, 10 – 11.30am

RSVP required: Register here

Speakers include:

Professor Elizabeth Sheehy from the University of Ottawa is a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Auckland. She is an international expert on violence against women and women’s use of violence and the author of the award-winning book Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the Transcripts. In 2017 she received the Persons Award from the Governor General of Canada and, in 2018, the Order of Ontario from the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario for her advocacy for women’s equality in the criminal justice context over the course of her long and distinguished career.
Professor Sheehy will share her research results from examining how “parental alienation” is claimed and adjudicated in family court cases across Canada 2008-2017. She will focus on how allegations of family violence and parental alienation intersect and the implications for women escaping male violence.

Ruth Herbert is well known for her work in trying to improve New Zealand’s system response to violence against women and children. She has given many presentations and media interviews and researched and written extensively about the issue. She has a Master of Public Policy (dist.) and has worked both in formal roles and as an independent advocate and activist in the sector. Ruth has been the Family Violence Director at the Ministry of Social Development, the Executive Director of the independent Glenn Inquiry and a member of the independent Ministerial Review Panel assessing ACC’s sensitive claims clinical pathway.

Ruth is a co-founder of the Backbone Collective which was launched in 2017 to enable women who have experienced violence and abuse to have their voices heard. Ruth will share what women have told the Backbone Collective about how “parental alienation” is being used against protective mothers in the New Zealand Family Court.

Catriona MacLennan is a barrister, journalist and researcher. She worked in the Press Gallery for six years as a political reporter and practised law in South Auckland for 14 years. Catriona worked extensively in family and domestic violence and has for the past 20 years advocated publicly and politically for action to eliminate domestic and sexual violence. Catriona helped set up Ngā Ture Kaitiaki ki Waikato Community Law Centre and was the Project Director for Ngā Tāngata Microfinance Trust. She is the founder of Wheels for Women, a project to provide cars to domestic violence survivors.

Catriona will examine recent New Zealand High and Family Court cases referring to “parental alienation.” She will also speak about how the use of “parental alienation” is undermining attempts to tackle this country’s domestic violence epidemic.

Chair: Professor Julia Tolmie, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.


Joan Meier in the news


FEMRAM member Joan Meier wrote an excellent letter to the editor Myths about custody litigation on December 15, 2017, following the Washington Post‘s extremely misleading article More than 20 states in 2017 considered laws to promote shared custody of children after divorce 

Professor Meier’s letter corrected some of the numerous factually incorrect claims in the original article. Michael Alison Chandler who wrote the article was already aware of many of the facts Meier included in her letter because FEMRAM member Molly Dragiwicz spoke to the journalist before she wrote the article, attempted to correct her faulty assumptions, and sent her a lengthy written comment. Chandler elected to ignore the facts provided to her and proceeded with her planned story.

Governments such as those in the UK  and Australia that have that have looked at the actual outcomes for children subjected to court-enforced mandatory “shared care” have repeatedly rejected legal presumptions in favor of 50/50 custody because applying rigid time-based arrangements is bad for children. Among other problems, the focus on parents rights to children’s time often leads to ignoring the realities of domestic violence and child sexual abuse, both of which are disproportionately prevalent in cases that require family court intervention in custody.

Norway, which ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, mandates that children have a right to a say about custody arrangements from age 7. This law recognizes that presumptive 50/50 custody treats children like property to be equitably divided and marginalizes children’s needs, which include continuity of care and protection from an abusive parent.

Meier is Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University and Founder and Legal Director at the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP) which was founded in 2003 in response to an urgent need for expert appellate litigation to reverse unjust trial court rulings and to protect the legal rights of women and children victimized by family violence. DV Leap assists abused mothers in appellate cases to challenge court decisions that harm mothers and children.