Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives

By Rebecca J. Cook | Go to book overview

Chapter 23
The Use of International Human Rights Norms to Combat Violence Against Women

Joan Fitzpatrick


Introduction

The variety of forms of violence against women is matched by an array of sources of international norms addressing that violence. However, none of these norms is sufficiently broad or focused to have more than a minimal impact in controlling or eradicating violence against women. The problem is illustrated by the existing text of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (the Wornen's Convention),1 which does not specifically prohibit gender-based violence or place any explicit responsibilities on states parties to take action to reduce it. Instead, at least six articles of the Convention arguably bear some tangential relationship to forms of gender-based violence against women, though none actually mentions violence.2 Whether this deficiency in the Convention is best remedied through interpretation 3 or through drafting a supplemental protocol or separate instrument 4 will be addressed in the section in "The Way Forward," this chapter.

At the risk of being labeled a "doctrinalist,"5 I will devote major attention to cataloguing the myriad international norms that relate to gender-based violence against women. Critiquing what already exists will aid an informed determination whether and under what circumstances the elaboration of additional positive law is likely to have an actual effect upon these persistent violent practices.

Violence against women encompasses far more than the paradigm instances of battery or murder within the home and rape by acquaintances and strangers, though these are crucial issues. Different types of

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