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The Potentials and Limitations of Law

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity book series (PSCYBER)

Abstract

The complexities and contingencies of law pose significant challenges for responding to technology-facilitated sexual violence. Law is a discourse of power because of its claim to justice and truth, its construction of knowledge and its shaping of social norms, beliefs and values. Law can empower individuals and groups to assert their rights, providing a benchmark from which to check the abuse of interpersonal, organisational and state power, but can also serve the interests of the powerful, silence or suppress other narratives and conceal or reproduce relations of domination. Moreover, law is often slow in keeping up with changing social norms, and equally, social values are not always consistent with what the law lays down as right or wrong. This chapter is premised on the understanding that judicial outcomes are not solely determined by a consistent, uni-dimensional, monolithic or coordinated power of law. Rather we take a ‘limitations and potentials’ approach that recognises the opportunities of empowerment through law for women and other marginalised groups. This chapter explores the tensions that exist between law as a form of governmentality and as a form of recognition and redress to social conflict. While we note the elusiveness of justice through law, we also underscore the importance of law in responding to the emerging harms of digital forms of violence. Ultimately we argue that attention must also be given to broader measures beyond law to tackle the problem of digital abuse and violence.

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Powell, A., Henry, N. (2017). The Potentials and Limitations of Law. In: Sexual Violence in a Digital Age. Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-58047-4_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-58047-4_7

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