Academic journal article Albany Law Review

We're All in This Together: A Global Comparison on Domestic Violence and the Means Necessary to Combat It

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

We're All in This Together: A Global Comparison on Domestic Violence and the Means Necessary to Combat It

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

"There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable." (1) Statistics show that more than one in three women around the globe are victims of domestic violence. (2) Different cultural and socio-economic factors explain how and why domestic violence is perpetuated, perpetrated, and how it affects women globally. Regardless of differing approaches to combat it, statistics demonstrate that women from continent to continent experience similar rates of violence irrespective of social class, race, or religion. (3)

This note will discuss the differing roles that governments play in perpetuating domestic violence. Specifically, how absence of legislation, insufficient legislation, and failure to enforce existing legislation results in victims being left unprotected at the hands of their government. This note will analyze and compare three specific and diverse countries: the United States, the Russian Federation, and the Arabic Republic of Egypt, by looking at each country's constitution, criminal or penal codes, and international treaties. Finally, this note will discuss how legislation and governmental involvement protects, or fails to protect, victims. While it is recognized that both women and men suffer domestic abuse, this paper will solely refer to women as victims.

Section II will analyze domestic violence legislation and enforcement of legislation in the United States. Although the United States has promulgated both federal and state domestic violence legislation, statistics show that American victims are not necessarily better protected in comparison to other woman in other countries. (4) The high rate of domestic violence in the United States is a result of poor enforcement of laws. While there are a myriad of enforcement issues that could be analyzed, this paper will focus on two: Native American women and their access to the justice system, and protection orders and firearms under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8).

Section III will analyze domestic violence laws and enforcement within the Russian Federation. The Russian Constitution calls for gender equality, (5) and the government is party to the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW"). (6) Nevertheless, Russia struggles to combat a high incidence of domestic violence. This is due to the fact that there is no Russian legislation tailored to prevent domestic violence or to aid victims. (7) Additionally, victims endure seemingly insurmountable burdens when they attempt to access the criminal justice system. (8)

Section IV will analyze the current status of domestic violence in the Arab Republic of Egypt. Similarly to Russia, Egypt's Constitution has a gender equality clause, and Egypt is a party to CEDAW. (9) However, the Egyptian government has done little to protect victims with legislation. (10) An explanation of this lies within the entanglement of government and religion in Egypt--along with much of the Middle East. (11) The Egyptian Constitution contains a provision that mandates all legislation conform to Sharia law, (12) and patriarchal interpretations of Sharia law often condone violence against women and promote a male dominated society. (13) The result is a general nationwide ignorance of the seriousness of domestic violence and the knowledge necessary to combat it.

Finally, Section V of this note will analyze the procedures that are currently in place to combat domestic violence on a global scale and scrutinize the ways in which they are ineffective, while suggesting avenues that may have a greater impact. These strategies include self-governing preventative measures, the use of punitive sanctions imposed on individuals who commit acts of domestic violence, or countries who allow systematic acts of domestic violence, and finally the use of international criminal courts to prosecute individuals and governments. …

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