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Violence against Women under International Human Rights Law


  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107617445

£ 36.99

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About the Authors
  • Since the mid-1990s, increasing international attention has been paid to the issue of violence against women. However, there is still no explicit international human rights treaty prohibition on violence against women and the issue remains poorly defined and understood under international human rights law. Drawing on feminist theories of international law and human rights, this critical examination of the United Nations' legal approaches to violence against women analyses the merits of strategies which incorporate women's concerns of violence within existing human rights norms such as equality norms, the right to life, and the prohibition against torture. Although feminist strategies of inclusion have been necessary as well as symbolically powerful for women, the book argues that they also carry their own problems and limitations, prevent a more radical transformation of the human rights system, and ultimately reinforce the unequal position of women under international law.

    • Close investigation of existing texts and jurisprudence tests feminist criticisms regarding the international human rights system and ensures that no assumptions are made
    • Adopts the perspective of feminist theories of international law, allowing readers to become fluent in feminist discourse on human rights
    • Proposes procedural, substantive, conceptual and structural reforms to the existing international human rights treaty system which reconcile the theoretical with the legal and practical challenges it faces
    • Reflects on existing United Nations strategies on violence against women from a feminist critical legal theory perspective and considers what this means for female victims of violence
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is a significant and original contribution to human rights literature that is firmly grounded in feminist theory applied to the law, institutions and practice of the United Nations human rights system. Dr Edwards' meticulous and persuasive analysis of the work of selected human rights bodies is an impressive work of scholarship.' Professor Andrew Byrnes, University of New South Wales

    'This book is essential reading for those concerned with the development of international law on women's rights to protection against violence. It provides an exhaustive examination of the legal responses of the international human rights system to violence against women, and offers insightful perspectives on improving those responses.' Professor Rebecca J. Cook, University of Toronto

    'In this clear and compelling book, Dr Alice Edwards brings human rights legal and policy experience to feminist jurisprudence and illuminates both areas. The book analyses the way that international human rights law responds to the realities of women's lives, especially the violence they face. Dr Edwards uses closely textured legal case studies to examine the responses of international institutions to the phenomenon of violence against women and concludes that, although some progress has been made, international law has not delivered on its promises of justice and equality. This book will be valuable for international human rights legal practitioners, but it will also interest and engage feminist theorists.' Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Australian National University

    'Violence against women is one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. This book is an excellent contribution to the literature in this area. As the first book-length engagement with this subject from a jurisprudential perspective, it assesses the record of the international human rights machinery in its efforts to respond to this issue, as well as the merits of current approaches. Edwards' book should be read by anyone interested in this area. It should also be taken account of for the broader debate on reform of the UN treaty body system.' Professor Michael O'Flaherty, United Nations Human Rights Committee

    'This book provides an incisive and critical examination of how violence against women has been viewed by and accommodated into international human rights law and jurisprudence. The depth and eloquence of the discourse is drawn from Edwards' personal experience working with survivors of sexual violence in post-conflict situations. Edwards writes in an engaging and clear manner, which makes her book accessible to a wide audience. An illuminating guide and a valuable resource.' Dr Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    'This treatment of the status of violence against women under international human rights law by Dr Alice Edwards is a tour de force of erudition and rigour. The book succeeds on three levels: first, it offers an exceptional synthesis of the current state of international law in this area; second, it provides an excellent entry-point into feminist theoretical scholarship to explain clearly why this terrain is so difficult to traverse; and third, it offers a way forward which is strategic and underpinned by the author's lived experience as a practitioner and advocate for women.' Susan Harris Rimmer, Human Rights Law Review

    'This book presents an astute portrayal of the application of international human rights law to violence against women, and offers some concrete ways to move forward. … With this book, Edwards establishes herself as an international law expert on violence against women. The book is thoroughly researched, carefully edited, and accessible … As it also includes many reflections on the protection of women's human rights more generally, one could almost use [it] as a source book on feminism and international law.' Alexandra Timmer, Leiden Journal of International Law

    '[T]his text is a compelling study of (international) legal change … the idealist in me envisions all international human rights decision-makers finding a cosy garden of their own, and having a good, long read of this book.' Doris Buss, European Human Rights Law Review

    '[A]n example of great feminist legal scholarship … This work … is far more educative and insightful than the morass of human rights writing that we see in many journals and books … It is a delight to read a book which has women's interests at heart and does not apologise for this.' Clare McGlynn, Feminist Legal Studies

    '… a thorough and detailed assessment of three areas of international human rights jurisprudence as applied to violence against women - a collection that will make this book a go-to resource for anyone writing in the field … Edwards's call to reassess continually the efforts to include women and their perspectives in the human rights system is one that we must all take seriously. Her book is a powerful step in that direction.' Jaya Ramji-Nogales, American Society of International Law

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107617445
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Feminist theories on international law and human rights
    3. The international human rights treaty system: practice and procedure
    4. Equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex
    5. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
    6. The right to life
    7. Conundrums, paradoxes, and continuing inequality: revisiting feminist narratives
    8. Strategising next steps: treaty body reform and humanising women.

  • Author

    Alice Edwards, Oxford University, Refugee Studies Centre
    Dr Alice Edwards is Lecturer in International Refugee and Human Rights Law at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. She has previously worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in various locations and for the International Secretariat of Amnesty International.

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