Deckha, Maneesha

Associate Professor


Phone number: (250) 721-8175
Department: Faculty of Law

Research description:

-Reproductive health and health law
-Law and culture
-Law and Society
-Feminist Legal Theory
-Critical Animal Studies

Expertise Profile
Our laws on animals reflect outdated values, says law professor Maneesha Deckha, who explores why the law can be slow to change and how it can move forward.

"Our current laws about animals are as outdated as laws about child labour and women's rights were many years ago," she says. "As a society that claims to care about its weakest members, we need to challenge our thinking about the legal status of animals."

With few exceptions, Canadian law divides all legal entities into persons or property, and it describes animals as property. In other words, we can pamper them, cage them, even kill them, as long we don't cause "unnecessary suffering" while we're doing it.

Professor Deckha believes animals should have an alternative legal status that provides better protection, but does not believe that personhood is an ideal status for animals. "Animals deserve the protection from exploitation personhood provides, but I'm dissatisfied with the personhood model for animals, because it is very much tied to the human form and shape and fits non-human entities poorly," she says.

Professor Deckha's research into animal law springs from her interest in issues such as feminism, anti-racism, and health law and policy. "I'm fascinated with how unjust laws denying personhood for women and other disadvantaged groups changed as societal attitudes shifted. It seems natural to extend this to the way our laws treat non-humans, or animals."

When Professor Deckha teaches, she uses interactive learning techniques to get students more involved. She often has students take part in role-playing or structured debates that allow them to engage with the material. "It leads to better learning," she says, "because they're immediately processing rather than just transcribing a lecture on their laptops and then looking at their notes two weeks before an exam."

Related Links
Professor Deckha's Faces of UVic Research video:

Health related research:

Feminist analyses of assisted human reproduction.

Countries lived or worked in:

United Kingdom United States

UVic Speakers bureau

Maneesha Deckha takes part in the UVic Speakers Bureau.
More information about the Speakers Bureau can be found here.

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