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).
3 The treatment: re-conceptualising states’ obligations in countering VAWH Starting from the beginning: the nature of state obligations This chapter consists in the treatment, and it attempts to find an answer to the question which obligations states must abide by with regard to VAWH? There is often no univocal response – and hence a treatment – to a disease. However, the current legal instruments underestimate – to the point of not even mentioning women’s rights to health and to reproductive health – the point that focusing on health is a way, in considering
, 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
obligations to promote the empowerment of women.’5 Although 1 DE VIDO 9781526124975 PRINT.indd 1 24/03/2020 11:01 Violence against women’s health in international law this argument has not been further developed at the international level, it appears essential in order to build a solid framework for reconceptualising states’ obligations in preventing and combating VAW as linked to the right to health and the right to reproductive health. Using an international law perspective, this book will distil the relationship between violence against women and the right to health
2 The diagnosis: a conceptualisation of VAWH Unravelling the notion of violence against women’s health The anamnesis leads us now to the diagnosis. In this chapter I will unravel the innovative notion of VAWH as conceived in this book, which will pave the way for the analysis of states’ obligations in chapter 3 (the ‘treatment’). Going back to the philosophical metaphor that I used as fil rouge of this book, Greek physicians undertook detailed histories and examinations of patients, noting all elements that were useful for the diagnosis, including the course
Freedom of research and the right to science 165 rights activists and scholars, have paid little attention to it. As a result, our understanding of the normative content of the right to science – that is, what exactly are states’ obligations – is not entirely settled. However, in the past two decades the right to science has moved to the front and centre of the debate in international forums, and progress towards a more complete understanding of this right has been tangible. Two developments, at the global level, are particularly significant: first the adoption
ideas that are completely separate, but grasps the complexity of the relationship at the core of this book and constitutes a solid structure on which states’ obligations may be reconceived. The first dimension is characterised by violations of women’s rights to health and to reproductive health as a consequence of VAW; the second includes health policies or laws which might impact on women’s health and constitute a form of gender-based violence. The first dimension pertains to inter-individual relationships, and is ‘horizontal’ in the structure of my analysis.3 The
of living and access to ‘adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions’. Article 12 stipulates states’ obligation to recognise everyone’s right to enjoy ‘highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’. Article 34 of the EU’s fundamental rights charter obliges states to ensure social assistance and social security for