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How to Sue Your Rapist: Inequality in the Pursuit of Civil Justice

25 September 2023 at 5:00:00 pm

Victims of sexual violence have diverse needs – for healthcare, counseling, housing, childcare, education, employment, and more. Unfortunately, dominant criminal legal and social welfare responses to sexual violence in the United States fail to adequately address these needs. As a result, victims of sexual violence are increasingly seeking recourse in the civil legal system which promises both to combat systemic violence and provide restitution to individual victims. Little empirical research, however, explores whether the civil legal system fulfills this potential.

In this talk, Prof. Benjamin Weiss will discuss themes from his in-progress book project called How to Sue Your Rapist: Inequality in the Pursuit of Civil Justice. Drawing on a combination of interviews, participant observation, and legal research, the book demonstrates how profit motives embedded within the civil legal system effectively bar most victims—often along lines of class, race, age, and gender—from filing, let alone winning, civil lawsuits. Rather than only a rebuke of the civil legal system, the book argues that victims’ increasing reliance on it signifies profound shortcomings in the provision of care in the United States and consequently calls for the state to meet victims’ needs more effectively.

About the speaker:

Benjamin Weiss is an assistant professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, where he specializes in gender; crime, law, and deviance; and organizations. His work, which explores how public, private, and nonprofit actors come together to define and address gender-based violence, appears in Social Problems, Theory and Society, and Social Currents, among other venues.


How to Sue Your Rapist: Inequality in the Pursuit of Civil JusticeDate: 

September 26, 2023 (Tue)

Time: 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Venue: CJT-8.13

Speaker: Dr. Benjamin Weiss


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