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).
, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis has provided a sufficient descriptive framework for systematising my argument and has encouraged a reflection which has led me to the elaboration of a new concept in international law around which to construe states’ obligations. I started my analysis from the conviction that VAW always relates to the right to health and the right to reproductive health. I contended that the relationship is not merely a causal one, however, in the sense that VAW causes a violation of the rights to health and to reproductive health (what I called the
the dimensions. In this section, I will elaborate further the intuition of the CEDAW in GR No. 35 of 2017, which stressed that states have obligations stemming from actions committed by state and non-state 179 DE VIDO 9781526124975 PRINT.indd 179 24/03/2020 11:01 Violence against women’s health in international law actors and, with regard to the former, to ensure that laws, policies, programmes and procedures do not discriminate against women.4 The recommendation does not refer, however, or only partly, to cases in which it is the state that, through its policies
Introduction: the narrative Premise and main argument: elaborating the new notion of violence against women’s health Violence against women (VAW) has been the object of hundreds of studies, pertaining to different areas of research. International law has been one of these areas, the analysis focusing on gender-based violence as a violation of human rights, in particular a violation of the principle of non-discrimination, the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to life, the right to respect for private and family life, and on states
’ obligations in the field. It is true, indeed, that Hippocratic medicine was also founded on the available – hence, surely not 100 per cent complete – evidence-based knowledge.2 As interestingly argued by one author, who relied on the rhetorical theory, ‘all theoretical discussions of international law are incomplete in one way or the other,’ and the reason is that theorists ‘choose,’ they emphasise different aspects of the discipline.3 To paraphrase the most common definition of VAW – violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights – violence against women
international law the authorities. This violence is gender-based and rooted in the consideration of women as weak and ill-suited to making (what society perceives as) ‘appropriate’ decisions. As posited by a scholar, ‘laws that question the moral agency of women perpetuate stereotypes that women lack the capacity for rational decision- making.’10 Law and health policies can constitute a ‘barrier to women’s access to services.’11 I found maternal health another area well worth the investigating, and I will also focus on the underexplored issue of ‘obstetric violence,’ defined