Domestic Violence and International Law

By Bonita Meyersfeld

This book argues that certain forms of domestic violence between cohabitants are a violation of international human rights law. The argument is based on the international law principle that, where a state fails to protect a vulnerable group of people from harm, whether perpetrated by the state or private actors, it has breached its obligations to protect against human rights violation. The book provides a comprehensive legal analysis for why a state should be held accountable in international law for allowing women to suffer extreme forms of domestic violence and how this can help individual victims. The author pushes the boundaries of the doctrine of states' 'Responsibility to Protect,' a developing area of international law which holds states responsible for the failure to protect vulnerable groups from political violence, such as ethnic cleansing, mass rape, sexual slavery, or torture. Where the violence is equivalent, this obligation ought to extend to victims of private violence. It is irrelevant that the violence is perpetrated by individuals and not state actors, such as soldiers or the police. The state's breach of its responsibility is in its failure to act effectively in domestic violence cases. With its silent endorsement of the violence, it becomes complicit. The book reformulates the academic and political debate on domestic violence and the responsibility of states under international law. It is based on empirical data combined with an honest assessment of whether or not domestic violence is recognized by the international community as a human rights violation.

368 pages

Publication Date: 3/23/2010
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781841139111

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