Can Law Address Intersectional Sexual Harassment? The Case of Claimants with Personality Disorders

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Laws, 8 (4), pp. 34 - 34
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Sexual harassment across multiple grounds, including race, disability, sexuality and age, remains an entrenched problem that is poorly dealt with in law. Prevalence rates for intersectional sexual harassment are higher for certain groups, while legal redress is low. This paper examines case law on sexual harassment in Australia where there are intersectional factors and asks whether the “intersectionality” section inserted into the federal Sex Discrimination Act in 2011 has impacted legal practice and decision-making. In particular, it considers the situation of sexual harassment claimants with behavioural and personality traits that are considered “disordered” and the specifically gendered disability stereotypes that shape their treatment in law. Recent cases in Australia dealing with the sexual harassment of people with personality disorders show that intersectionality provisions of sexual harassment laws may in fact be used to undermine a legal claim by a person with disability rather than strengthen it. This article argues that an intersectional legal feminist perspective on harassment is needed for the law to work.
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