Is Domestic Violence a Breach of Human Rights?
Is Domestic Violence a Breach of Human Rights?
The problem brought forth by the unequal distribution of power in intimate relationships in developing countries has caused not only oppression but also violence against women. Criminal acts such as rape, hitting, verbal abuse and other related violent behaviors are being experienced by a significant number of women all over the world. As such, this research seeks to establish the link between domestic violence and human rights. Not until recently that the United Nations (UN) has decided to include the issue of Violence against Women (VAW) on the mainstream of the human rights paradigm.
As such this research will be looking on the anatomy of DV and the laws related to its implementation. More specifically, the research has the following objectives: 1. To properly define Domestic Violence (DV) and other concepts related on the notion of DV. 2. To identify the incidences on DV that could be significantly related on the issue of Human Rights Violation. 3. To identify the laws set forth by the United Nations that verifies the link of DV to the issue of human rights violations and specifically cite provisions that further explains the rights of women and the degree of protection that is due to them.
4. To identify the campaigns this aims to further protect the rights of women. 5. To know why it took so long for DV to be recognized as a Human Rights Issue. Background of the Problem Domestic violence is a form of violence against women. Violence Against Women (VAW) as defined by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) is “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or metal harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” .
This definition then emphasizes that any act that forces women to do certain things that result to any type of harm is considered as an act of DV. More importantly, the scope of DV has been made broad as it encompasses not only DV in terms of the household, but also certain oppression against women that might happen in the latter’s course of relating towards people.
Violence against women includes the “physical, sexual and psychological violence that happens in the family or the community which includes battering, sexual abuse of children, dowry related violence, rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and violence perpetrated or condoned by the state” More specifically, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that the violence against women does not only poses human rights issue but also contains other problems such as health and social concerns. This definition then provided by WHO further elaborates the definition provided by VAW. More importantly, the threats upon the health of women that came into effect because of the abuses that were brought forth unto them are also a growing health concern according to WHO. Domestic Violence is also labeled as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) by the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) has four major types which are: physical, sexual, psychological abuse and stalking . The World Health Organization perceived IPV not only as a human rights issue but also a growing health concern.
The population based study of WHO found out that 10-69% of women admitted that they have been physically assaulted by a male partner at some point within their lives. In a larger scale, the range is between 10-34%. IPV incidents are perceived to be not regularly reported to the police, hence the inability to picture the entire magnitude of the problem. CDC also reported that majority of IPV incidents reported (i. e. 50%) are stalking, 25% physical assaults and 20% rape or sexual assaults. The CDC said that the consequences of domestic violence are perceived to be more damaging on the part of the victim and more costly in terms of treatment. Physical consequences include injuries that were left as a result on the victimization such as scratches, bruises and welts.
Other more damaging effects are central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, gynecological disorders, pregnancy difficulties and the likes. Psychological violence which stemmed out from emotional or psychological assault makes the victims develop problematic behaviors such as being anti social, develops suicidal tendencies, depressions and anxiety. Social implications of domestic violence also create a web of problem for the victims in terms of relating with other people and performing well in their workplace. More often than not, a difficult relationship is perceived in terms of the victims’ employers, peers and/ or colleagues .
The health implications that resulted from domestic violence are primarily characterized by a very risky sexual behavior such as unprotected sex or even sexual trade. In addition, the use of addictive substances such as drugs or alcohols is also perceived. Corollary with this, the abuse of various medicines or pills for in order to lose weight is also paramount; while in some cases, overeating was the documented consequence . The economic implications of domestic violence are also very alarming. On 2003, the perceived costs of IPV is roughly $4. 1 billion which primarily comprises of $460 for rape cases, $6. 2 billion for physical assault, $461 billion for stalking and $1. 2 billion for the value of cost lives . Domestic Violence and Human Rights
Attempts to link VAW on the issue of human rights were first established through the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights wherein such asserts that all humans must have equal rights and opportunities regardless of any difference . However it could be noted that the UDHR did not directly addressed the issues of DV and directly perceived it as a Human Rights issue. As such it is the underlying notion that all humans must be treated as equal has become the basic argument against DV and paved the way for the creation of certain laws that directly cater to it. In relation with this, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on 1979 and the United Nation’s 1993 Declaration to Eliminate Violence against Women , also has similar goals.
Due to the attempts to link VAW and human rights, such paved the way to transnational women’s movements and other mobilizations worldwide. Non government organization (NGO) and state governments have made their own efforts in order to eradicate this sort of oppression against women . The Private Nature of DV More importantly, the perception of Domestic Violence (DV) against the framework of human rights paved the way for the idea of applying international laws in order to solve DV all over the world. DV has been perceived as having a private nature due to the reason that its occurrence primarily stemmed out of the family wherein more often are opted to be kept in silence and addressed and/or resolved personally by family members .
Most of the time, victims of DV within families opt to keep the issue within the jurisdiction of their own homes. Women opt to discuss the issue among their husbands or partners rather than reporting such incidences to the police. In relation with this, it could also be significantly noted that once such incidences are reported to the police, the latter’s way of resolving the issue also result to having both parties reconcile within themselves. In effect of this, women who know such a process opted to no longer result to lawful actions, rather only try their best to work it among their partners. The private nature of DV is due to the fact that it is often committed by men that are close in their lives .
In effect of this, it has always been the case that it becomes invisible. It is less likely for the violence to be reported, unlike those type of violence that happened in public and was done by people who are unknown to women. In addition with this, since there are no witnesses to private violence, it becomes very hard for the law to take proper action. It could be significantly argued as well that the attitude of the police in terms of attending on the crimes of DV has been very distant. Most of them don’t want to take sides among couples even if it is evident that one of them is at fault. As such it is said: “You just try to calm them down.
To a policy of arrest rather than meditation, the official approach is not necessarily reflected in practice in part because intervening police officers are at a very high rik in incidences of private violence. ” It has been very hard for people to identify violence that happened between couples. Albeit, the reality is that there is a huge number of violence that happens in intimate relationships rather than those that happened in public. It is more dangerous fro women and the injuries that they have are more severe. In relation with this, it could be significantly noted that the study of Pourezza et al also reveals that women in Iran seem to be more aware of the reasons of violence rather than the evidence of violence.
Such according to Pourezza et al is primarily due to the private nature of DV in Iran and the failure of the victims and her family to report such incidents to the police. Physical violence is perceived to be a private phenomenon and is expected to be resolved within the realm of the family. The risk factors that are associated with DV in Iran are: poverty, addiction, discrimination in work place and social life and lack of personal securities . In the United States however DV although initially perceived to be of a private nature has been attempted to be made on the mainstream of the human rights paradigm in order for it to be properly addressed.
Annual conventions and campaigns are launched by the United Nations such as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, The Sixteen Days of Activism of Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s (CWGL) and Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Banner all work together not only to help eliminate domestic violence but other gender-related violence as well. These campaigns together with various laws will able to make women aware of their rights not only as an individual but also as a woman. 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights however did not directly link the issue of DV to the notion of human rights.
What the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights claimed is that all people have inherent dignity and of equal and inalienable rights; hence implying that women have the disposition that is similar to men, and such disposition implies the former’s right to experience the same degree of protection, privilege and other factors that are vital in living a quality life. Such attempts on the end of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights that became the cornerstone in the development of other international laws could be seen on the following provisions. The Article 1 of the Declaration claims that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
The very basic philosophical foundation of the relevance of human life against any other form of life is man’s capacity for reason which is clearly presented in this provision as a characteristic of all human beings. Hence women possess a capacity for reason that is exactly similar to that of man, and by such, the former must be given the same amount of freedom and dignity. The second Article of the Declaration further strengthens this claim by stating that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”. This provision clearly states the relevance of the upholding of human rights despite of gender. Such is clear evidence that all sexes are equal on the eyes of the law. Article 7 further makes it clear that all individuals must not be discriminated against the law. Consequently, Article 8 states the necessity of the establishment of national tribunals wherein conflicts and other criminal cases could be addressed. The Declaration as reflected in Article 16, clearly establishes that women have the right to enter a marriage in their own free will.
Hence such means that dowry and other types of fixed marriages although perceived to be a part of custom and culture in some countries is also a violation of women’s rights. This provision then implies the general notion relevant to the argument that women’s domestic affairs are subjected to the jurisdiction of the human rights realm. The provision stating that women should only marry in accordance with their own decision implies that marriages that are fixed that often times result to violent treatment among men is something that is of utmost concern in terms of protecting the human rights of women and therefore protecting them against domestic violence. It could be noted that some countries in Asia such as in India, requires women to give dowries to their soon to be husbands.
Albeit, whenever the woman gives a dowry that is relatively lower than what is expected on the male’s family, what usually happens is that the woman is often abused or is viewed as someone who is a burden to the man’s family. Article 21 on the other hand emphasizes that all people should have equal access to public service in her country and Article 26 emphasizes the equal rights of all people to education. As such, these provisions clearly focus on the right of women to education and also protection for all forms of abuses. The perception that women’s education is unnecessary because the latter is perceived to be locked in doing house hold chores is a clear violation. The study of Bates et al. among the women of Bangladesh could be significantly noted.
Such revealed that among the 1,200 women who participated on the study, 67% of them claimed that they have experienced domestic violence, and a significant number of 35% admitted that they have experienced it in the past year (i. e. 1998). More importantly, the study focused on the notion that a woman’s education has a direct effect in terms of lowering the tendencies of DV. The study of Bates et al revealed that women in Bangladesh have a minute or small access with education. In relation with this the author also claimed that the more a woman ages, the more that it will be difficult for her to get married. In addition, the age of the woman is also equated to the high cost of her dowry.
In relation with this is the right of every person to have a free choice of the type of work that she wants to do as stated on Article 23. As such, this provision leans towards the growing concern of the feminization of poverty most especially in developing countries. One of the risk factors of domestic abuse according to CDC is with regard to the notion that women who do not enter the workforce must be submissive to her husband . Women who are primarily left in the household to do chores and take care of the children are perceived to have a minute contribution within the family; as such the perceived head of the family which in this case is the male bread winner possesses all the power in the relationship.
Article 25 clearly caters on the upholding on the rights of women as it emphasizes that all people has the right to a way of life that is adequate not only for him or her but also to his or her entire family. Motherhood and childhood should be supported by the government by assuring that they have special care and assistance. More specifically, those children who were born out of marriage should be given the privileges and protection of the government. This provision protects not only women but also their children against DV. The claim that this concern must be under the jurisdiction of the government is an indication that women must be protected against all kinds of abuses including to that of within their own households.
Women who do not have any capabilities to help themselves most especially if they are having children must also be sheltered by the government. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted on 1979 by the UN General Assembly. The United Nation’s division for the advancement of women describes CEDAW as the “international bill of rights for women”. As such CEDAW not only addressed directly the issues of DV but also relates it directly on the realm of human rights. The CEDAW although could be said as the most highly ratified international human rights convention could still be seen as primarily focusing on the argument for human rights.
Although it could be said that the convention reflects certain normative standards that are applicable to women’s human rights, it could be said that it still does not directly address DV. The CEDAW is made up of a preamble and 30 articles which lay out the parameters of women discrimination and the creation of an agenda in order to eliminate such prejudice. This convention although still focusing on human rights is very unique of its kind because of focusing on the role of culture and tradition as very vital factor in shaping the roles of men and women and other relations within the family. In addition, CEDAW also acknowledges the reproductive rights of women. Articles 10, 11 and 13 emphasize women’s rights to equal opportunity to education, employment and social activities.
Such a provision paved the way for more opportunities for women to leave the household and not to be subjected to the abuses set forth by some men who give immense value on one’s work and the monetary benefits that could be hoisted out from it. The United Nations also noted that these demands are of more benefit to women who live in the rural areas. The equal access to job opportunities will pave the way for a more fair economic distribution. In relation with this, Article 15 claims that women should also have a fair access in various civil and business matters. More importantly, Article 16 emphasizes women’s equal disposition as those of men in terms of the choice of spouse, parenthood, personal rights and decision over personal properties.
Another more important concern that this Convention focuses at is the attention that it gives on the value of reproductive rights. In certain cases, the role of women as a child bearer has caused numerous amounts of discrimination, more specifically in the workplace. Article 5 emphasizes that child rearing must be a social function that men and women and the society are both and equally responsible of. The women must not be viewed as someone who has the full task and burden of raising a child because people around her must also play their part. In relation with this is the Article 4 of the convention which affirms women’s right to reproductive choice.
The notion that family planning advices from the government should be made available to all women will allow the latter to be aware more of her options and more specially in taking control in matters of sex and child bearing. This provision in the convention would imply that woman’s right in reproductive choice explicitly affirms women’s ownership of her own body, hence forced intercourse even within marriages is totally a clear violation of her rights. The use of contraceptives and other methods of family planning will also allow women to take control of her life and to plan for other things that will not limit her entirely to the household. The third major area of concern that the Convention focused on is the role of a country’s culture and norms in terms in hindering women in enjoying their fundamental rights.
Article 5 makes it clear that states are obliged to alter their social and cultural patterns of individual conduct which clearly harbors inequality between sexes and unequal distribution of power. One of the most important implications of such is the mandatory revision of textbooks, school programmes and teaching methods in order to eliminate stereotypes and inculcate to the youth at such an early age the equal status of men and women in all aspects of life. United Nation’s 1993 Declaration to Eliminate Violence against Women Sullivan claimed that it is only in its 49th session that the Commission on Human Right (CHR) anticipated that women’s rights should be included in the mainstream of human rights programs.
The declaration emphasizes that violence against women hinders not only the achievement of equality but also of development and peace. In addition, such affirms that such violence towards women is a violation of the rights and freedom of the latter. More importantly, the perpetuation of the violation against women’s rights is a manifestation of the oppressive dualism on the distribution of power between sexes. On such a relationship, the status of women has been clearly devalued hence hindering their total and absolute development . Article 3 of the Declaration to Eliminate Violence against Women emphasizes on the equal protection of human rights and freedoms of women in all fields. More specifically, article 3 emphasizes women’s right to life and equality .
The Vienna Declaration and the Program of action specifically focuses on the “promotion and protection” of human rights. The declaration recognizes that such an issue is of international scope and is a way in which the international human rights systems could be studied and reevaluated so that it could represent various perceptions of countries on the issue of women’s rights violations. One of the incidences that the Declaration focused on is the incidence of rape on an international scope . The awareness of that was brought forth by the media on the rape cases that happened on the former Yugoslavia has made the issue of violence against women as directly related to a human rights concern.
The recognition that such an act is not only an effect of armed conflict but of the subordinate status of women in the society paved the way to a more focused and detailed legislation in order to protect the rights of women. More specifically, the recognition that violence against women also happens in the private life or on the domestic level is also sought to be eliminated. On the Program of Actions, details of sexual slavery that was paramount during armed conflict was also taken into a clear focus. For instance, the comfort women from Korea and the Philippines who were forced into sex slavery by Japan during the Second World War are clear violation of women’s human rights. The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Action for Equality, Development and Peace, Beijing, China – September 1995
The UN’s Action for Equality Development and Peace that was held on Beijing China on 1995 rest on the basic foundation that equality between men and women is not only human rights and social issue; but also a necessary factor for equality, development and peace. The said Conference was primarily anchored on the Vienna Declaration Program of Action wherein the emphasis on the necessity of having violence against women on the mainstream of the human rights paradigm. The Conference focuses primarily on the implementation of the “Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and at removing all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. ”
The conference has formulated a global framework that would allow the conference to address all the relevant and related details addressed on the World Summit for Children, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the World Conference on Human Rights, the International Conference on Population and Development and the World Summit for Social Development. The global framework emphasizes on the empowerment of all women on all aspects of life. The role of various economic factors has also been perceived as one of the risk factors in perpetuating women’s cycle of violence. Critical Areas of concern was also discussed. The development of women and the achievement of the equal status of men and women are a matter of human rights concern and should not be treated as different from other women’s issues. The exercise and the application of women’s rights are the main factors that are vital in political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security. Campaigns against Domestic Violence
Various Non-Government and Government Organizations are made in order to entice public awareness on the status of women in the society, more specifically on the status of domestic violence. More specifically, the campaigns against DV are being directly related on the issue of human rights. The Sixteen Days of Activism, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women of the United Nations and Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Banner are three of the campaigns that this essay will look into and relate its importance in terms of DV and Human Rights. Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s (CWGL) Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
The Center for Women’s Global Leadership on 1991 has established on June 1991 a 16-day of activism campaign against gender violence. The campaign is marked to start on every 25th of November and is perceived to end at every 10th of December. The campaign is framed to include four significant international human rights commemorations which are: International Day Against Violence Against Women which happens every November 25, World Aids Day which is every 1st of December, Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre which falls on December 6 and Human Rights Day which happens every 10th of December . On 2000, the Campaign has already celebrated its tenth annual commemoration which was marked by local, national, regional and international activities.
Various campaign mediums were used such as “radio, television, video programming, press conferences, film screenings; workshops, seminars, panels and other meetings; demonstrations, protests, marches and vigils; photo, poster, art and book exhibitions; lectures, debates, testimonies and talks; petition drives; public education campaigns; concerts, plays and other theatre performances; street dramas and other community programmes; distribution of posters, stickers, leaflets, information kits and other publications;” The 16 Days of Activism has done a huge effect in terms of creating awareness and change in both in the national and international levels that as of 2000, there are already 800 organization in over 90 countries which participated in such a campaign. The campaign has been celebrated annually in local towns, states and regions and has been an avenue to create solidarity amongst women advocates and members of violence. The campaign has also done a great job by having such an activity a way for the victims of violence to be protected .
The methods of organizing the campaign have widely varied through out the years. In 2000, the organizing strategies of the campaign has involved linking various events all over the world which include the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in South Africa. In addition with this, the CWGL also encourages activists around the world to be an instrument in helping to increase awareness on the violations against women through tribunals, workshops, festivals and other related activities . International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
The 54th session of the General Assembly on 19 October 1999 which marks that 17th meeting of the Third Committee submitted a draft resolution which designates the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The said draft was sponsored by 79 states which aimed to increase the knowledge and understanding of the world with regard to the problem of VAW. The draft contained the details of the reasons why such a type of oppression has been hindering women to achieve their legal, social, political and economic equality within the society. Although initially, the commemoration of the necessity of eliminating of violence against women was made in Latin America and a number of countries all over the world, the observance has no standard title and was only referred as “No Violence Against Women Day” and the “Day to End Violence Against Women”.
Such a day was first declared by feminists in Bogota Columbia in commemoration of the Mirabal Sisters of Dominican Republic who have been perceived as the foundation of modern feminism. The Mirabal Sisters, also known as the “Inolvidables Mariposas” or the “Unforgettable Butterflies” signifies the oppression against women. The amount of dedication and passion that they have given in order to attain women liberation and respect has been a source of dignity and inspiration to women around the world. Stop Violence Against Women Campaign On March 5, 2004, Amnesty International has established an international campaign in order to stop the violence that is made against women.
Amnesty International has perceived violence against women as a widespread international problem that caused huge number of women lives. One notable activity of Amnesty is the opening of the first safe house in Kenya which keeps girls who are susceptible to female genital mutilation. The Campaign has also broadened the interpretation of VAW that is presented in the UN Declaration by focusing on the acts of neglect or deprivation against women. VAW is perceived by the campaign as those violence occurring in the family, in the community and other gender based violence. In relation with this, violence is perceived in different forms: physical, psychological and sexual. Amnesty has presented three major reasons of gender based violence in developing countries.
According to the campaign, social and political institutions through time developed institutionalized patterns of values and standards that are obviously against for the development of women. For instance, the cultural value in some countries in Asia that a woman who opt to stay at home and take care of her children and husband is considered virtuous. In addition, a number of cultural practices and traditions focusing on the idea of purity and chastity of women has also been a commonly used excuse to justify such violence. Such forms of oppression against women are perceived by the author as more severe and damaging in its very nature because it inculcates oppression and violence against women as a standard way of life- a sort of reality that one has to accept regardless of anything.
Examples of such cultural practices are the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Africa, Honor Killing in the Middle East, and in some remote places in China- Foot binding. All of these cultural practices are due to the basic premise that women should be remain chaste and pure until marriage; and it is only through the exercise of such methods that a woman’s purity could be attained. More significantly, the exercise of FGM has been rooted on the idea that during sexual intercourse, women are not supposed to feel any type of pleasure, hence the mutilation of their genitalia, more particularly, the clitoris. Poverty and marginalization are also perceived by Amnesty International as both causes and consequences of the violence against women. Abusive situ