Eve was Shamed is a timely and comprehensive update on women as they engage with the UK’s criminal justice system, from a legendary feminist human rights lawyer. The depth of her experience over years of legal practice and activism makes this a must-read. You don’t have to agree with everything she says to benefit from her thoughtful and erudite commentary.
17 years after I first read her classic book on women and the law Eve was Framed, Eve was Shamed shows where we have made progress and where so much remains to be done. Her account includes experiences of women lawyers, survivors of domestic or sexual violence, prisoners, judges, and others. She finds that “despite the dramatic changes which have taken place in women’s lives over the last four decades, women are still facing iniquitous judgements and injustice within the legal system. All the legal reforms have produced only marginal advances”. (p. 317)
Kennedy’s dual commitment to feminism and to human rights is particularly interesting. Her values inform her approach to her work, including her analysis of difficult or controversial situations in public life. She recounts occasions when this has led to conflict with people she has been allies with, and it is evident that she values the process of discussion and exchange that leads to resolution, even where this is uncomfortable or challenging. She notes: “feminism is about justice if it is about anything, and that means for men as well as women. Justice for women is not secured by reducing justice for men.” (p. 324)
She has lost none of her passion or commitment on the things that matter to her, making her a useful model for how to survive and remain effective during bleak times. Her considered solutions to problems are offered throughout, and this means that despite the subject matter you feel that real change is possible. Jacky Fleming’s inspirational cartoon remains helpful (see here).
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