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What Is the Relationship between Inequity in Family Law and Violence against Women? Approaching the Issue of Legal Enclaves

  • Valerie M. Hudson (a1), Donna Lee Bowen (a1) and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen (a1)

“Family law” is the term applied to the legal regulation of marriage and parenthood within a society, and may serve to express a society's accepted ideals concerning male–female relations. Adopting a feminist evolutionary analytic (FEA) approach, we hypothesize that nation-states with higher degrees of inequity in family law favoring men, codifying an evolutionary legacy of male dominance and control over female reproduction, will experience higher rates of violence against women. This hypothesis is borne out in conventional statistical analysis, both bivariate and multivariate, suggesting that policy attention to family law so as to make it more concordant with norms of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) may have salutatory effects on women's physical security over time. These results may also have policy implications for societies with, or contemplating, enclaves of inequitable family law.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

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