The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand, and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state) health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’ dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment). The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
in the direct acceptance of her request. The vertical, ‘state policies’ dimension Abortion Context and legal background The purpose of this section of the chapter is to reflect on cases concerning abortion in order to identify the elements of violence against women’s health 58 DE VIDO 9781526124975 PRINT.indd 58 24/03/2020 11:01 The anamnesis that pertain to the second, ‘vertical’ dimension of my analysis. The issue is extremely sensitive, because it entails considerations that go beyond law and touch upon ethics and morality.257 I have selected cases decided by
provoked by health policies which strongly and arbitrarily interfere with women’s reproductive autonomy and reproduce patterns of discrimination.8 Not being aware of that connection means perpetuating discrimination against women, and the unequal power relations between women and men. The analysis also confirmed the approach that I adopted with regard to VAW: the absence of the element of intent in its definition. It was interesting to find ‘patterns of discrimination’ which I found in this book to encompass forms of ‘tolerance’ of violence by the state, state ‘policies
’s health constitutes a violation of women’s right to health and right to reproductive health. From the analysis in chapter 1, the notion of VAWH can encapsulate both a vertical and a horizontal dimension of violence, namely the interpersonal dimension between individuals and an institutional one, which is characterised by laws and policies in the field of health. VAW always violates a woman’s rights to health and to reproductive health. At the same time, state policies and laws in the field of health, such as the criminalisation of abortion (as showed in chapter 1
violence and in its vertical dimension by state policies in the health field that cause violence against women. Furthermore, due diligence obligations are only mentioned in the paragraph of GR No. 35 that covers acts or omissions of non-state actors. My purpose is to find a structure that better describes states’ obligations to counter VAWH as I conceive it in this book. 194 DE VIDO 9781526124975 PRINT.indd 194 24/03/2020 11:01 The treatment At first, I was fascinated by the elaboration of ‘core obligations’ in the ESCR Committee’s GC No. 22. It was clear that it was