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Ending Violence against Women in Latin America: Feminist Norm Setting in a Multilevel Context

  • Conny Roggeband (a1)

Latin American feminists brought up the issue of violence in the 1970s under military rule or situations of armed conflict. These contexts made feminists specifically concerned with state violence against women. Women's organizations pointed to torture and rape of political prisoners and the use of rape as a weapon of war and connected these forms of violence to deeper societal patterns of subordination and violence against women in both the private and public spheres. Processes of democratization in the region brought new opportunities to institutionalize norms to end violence against women (VAW), and in many countries feminists managed to get the issue on the political agenda. In the mid 1990s, the region pioneered international legislation on VAW that uniquely included state-sponsored violence. The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (1994) established an international obligation for states to prevent, investigate, and punish VAW regardless of whether it takes place in the home, the community, or in the public sphere. While Latin American governments massively ratified this convention, national legislation was not brought in line with the broad scope of the international convention. This points to the complex and often contradictory dynamics of institutionalizing norms to oppose VAW in multilevel settings.

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