Digital disputation: Solveig Laugerud
Master in sociology of Law Solveig Laugerud will be defending the thesis The Legible Rape Victim: How Disciplinary Discourses in the Legal System Create a New Victim Identity for the degree of Ph.D.
Photo: Anders Lien/UIO
The University of Oslo is closed. This disputation will therefore be fully digital and streamed directly using Zoom. You can download zoom or use your browser. Please visit our web-page for more information on digital disputation and see specially the part for the general audience
Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written in "chat" or oral requested by clicking 'Participants -> Raise hand'.
- Professor Kristin Bergtora, University of Oslo (Head of the committee)
- Assistant Professor Patricia Cochran, University of Victoria (1. opponent)
- Associate Professor Ben Golder, University of New South Wales (2. opponent)
Chair of defence
Dean Ragnhild Hennum
- Professor May-Len Skilbrei
- Professor Kari Nyheim Solbrække
After years of criticism of the legal processing of sexual violence and the legal marginalization of victims, victims have become central stage in the processing of sexual violence. The legal system is not only involved in criminal prosecution, but has increasingly become involved in the care and acknowledgement of victims. Laugerud’s dissertation, which is based on qualitative analysis of legal decisions from the Compensation Authorities and criminal courts as well as interviews with female victims of sexual violence, shows how victims’ changed role in the legal system on the one hand increases victims agency, and on the other hand, increases victims responsibility of the outcome of the case
Victims at the core of a medico-legal network
In a legal proceeding, the law attaches itself to various experts and institutions to consider the crime of rape. In a rape case, the legal system will particularly attach itself to a hospital based sexual assault center, which completes a medical examination of the victim’s body to collect forensic evidence. Additionally, psychological experts consider whether the victim’s emotional reactions are indicative of psychological trauma. The thesis shows that the rape victim becomes entangled in a network of experts that look for traces of the rape on the victim’s body and mind. This means that the victim simultaneously becomes the object of a scrutinizing, authoritative and normalizing gaze.
Agency and responsibility
Through four articles and an introductory presentation, Laugerud analyzes how rape victims become entangled in a network of experts that discipline their conduct after a rape. If they comply with the experts’ advice and interventions throughout the process, they might be rewarded with a prosecution and conviction. If not, they might lose the opportunity to collect evidence and risk lack of prosecution or an acquittal. The thesis shows that victims have some agency and can act on their case if they play by the rules of the legal game, but risk simultaneously responsibility for the outcome of the case.