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Reflecting on criminalizing male violence against women under human rights and human security discourses: a feminist legal and policy analysis

  • Claudia Pividori EMAIL logo and Paola Degani
From the journal Global Jurist


Violence against women is an established issue of concern under international law as well as in the international security domain. More in general, it is contended that issues related to gender-based violence need to be countered with strategies aimed at fighting sexual hierarchies and structural discrimination affecting women at different levels and in different contexts. Despite this, international legal and policy responses to male violence against women are increasingly turning to criminal law enforcement with a strict focus on perpetrators’ individual accountability. The article critically analyzes this trend within the two international legal and policy frameworks that in the past decades have most consistently integrated the issue of violence against women, that is, human security and human rights. The article contends that the increasing focus on criminalization that has emerged in both these frameworks risks obfuscating and downsizing the collective and “public” dimension of States’ responsibility with regards the social phenomenon of violence. Indeed, criminalization strategies allow States to circumvent their duty to work on the social, political and economic structural dimensions at the root of this severe form of violation women’s human rights.


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Published Online: 2018-02-07

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