Human Rights

The Weekly Round-Up: Incels, prison labour and the deprivation of children’s liberty

13 September 2021 by

Incels metaphorically ‘take the black pill’ (a reference to the film The Matrix) when they believe they are no longer capable of change

In the news:

Hundreds of people attended the funeral services for Sophie and Lee Martyn on Monday, killed last month by Jake Davison, who was active on ‘incel’ or ‘involuntary celibate’ forums (though not describing himself as one). Over 50 people, including the five gunned down by Davison in Plymouth have now been killed by incels across the Anglophone world, who blame women for their own perceived lack of sexual and social status. Incel ideology has been linked to the far right, with obsessions over male appearance and phrenology. Biological determinism defines their beliefs in their inability to find sexual partners, which, when poured into online melting-pots already occupied by anti-feminists and white supremacists, can enflame similar senses of entitlement and injustice that may consume disaffected and reclusive (generally white) men.

In 2018, Amia Srinivasan posed the question in The London Review of Books:

how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question, a question usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion.

While radical self-love movements focused on empowerment and emphasising the beauty of groups whose appearances have been traditionally maligned, such as black or overweight people, frustrated entitlement may grow among reclusive white men. Incels dream up fantasies online of auctioning off prepubescent girls and being provided women as sexual slaves by the government, while posting pictures of themselves in online forums and delighting in finally receiving confirmation of their own unlovability from their peers.

Counter-terrorism frameworks struggle to classify incels, and the solution to the problem, undoubtedly exacerbated by faltering economies, must be therapeutic, rather than logical. The terms used by incels to describe sexually successful men, ‘chads’ and the unsuccessful, ‘cucks’ are brainworms that have begun to re-enter common parlance but are not based in reality. In the meantime, counter-terrorism efforts must reform to deal with threats that stem from acephalous ideologies without clear hierarchical structures. 

In other news:

  • The Transparency Project published a blog post on Tuesday concerning the issue of parental alienation in the courts. Analysing X, Y and Z (Children : Agreed Transfer of Residence) [2021] EWFC 18 by way of example, the post details how intractable a problem alienation can be, where the court must take into account the wellbeing of the children as a primary consideration, who themselves express repeatedly to independent social workers how impossible they consider living with an alienated parent would be.
  • On Wednesday, Professor Virginia Mantouvalou of UCL published on the UK Labour Law Blog a comprehensive and penetrating critique of the potential injustices of prison labour in the UK, highlighting the legal inconsistencies and lack of proper justification in the conditions and pay of prisoners who are required or who choose to work while incarcerated.
  • Clare Wade QC, the defence barrister for Sally Challen, has been asked to lead an investigation into domestic homicide laws. Challen was the first woman to have her murder conviction quashed under coercive control laws, after centuries of possible defences to murder being limited by male-centric loss of control laws (where immediate and sudden rage in response to a single incident could result in a valid excuse, while years of abuse could not).

In the courts:

  • On Wednesday, the Family Division of the High Court handed down judgement in  MBC v AM & Ors (DOL Orders for Children Under 16) [2021] EWHC 2472. The case posed the question of whether the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction (as parens patriae – a hangover from medieval times where feudal lords became responsible for orphaned children within their bailiwick) could be exercised to deprive children under 16 of their liberty when The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 as amended now prohibit the placement of children into care homes that are not regulated by Ofsted. With careful interpretation of the Regulations, the Children Act and the common law on the relationship between the inherent jurisdiction and statute law, Mr Justice MacDonald concluded that Articles 2 and 3 ECHR could compel the court to exercise its still valid jurisdiction to deprive children of liberty in extreme cases, where no alternatives to placement into unregulated homes existed to discharge the court’s duties under the ECHR.
  • In Udriste v Court of Trieste (Italy) [2021] EWHC 2476, handed down on Thursday, the Administrative court supported the decision of the District Judge to extradite a fugitive from Italian justice. This was despite the Appellant being the primary carer for his 24-year-old girlfriend who had significant cognitive disabilities and was incapable of living independently. The District Judge had conducted an “impeccable Article 8 balancing exercise” in determining that the Appellant’s partner would be able to cope with being forced to return to Slovenia to live with her mother, although she would struggle with the sudden change and the different language.

 On the UKHRB:

  • Tehreem Sultan analyses the UK’s Afghanistan resettlement scheme for those fleeing Taliban rule.
  • Rafe Jennings discusses the new Online Safety Bill, aimed at protecting children accessing the internet.

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