Research Handbook on Feminist Engagement with International Law
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Research Handbook on Feminist Engagement with International Law

Edited by Susan Harris Rimmer and Kate Ogg

For almost 30 years, scholars and advocates have been exploring the interaction and potential between the rights and well-being of women and the promise of international law. This collection posits that the next frontier for international law is increasing its relevance, beneficence and impact for women in the developing world, and to deal with a much wider range of issues through a feminist lens.
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Chapter 21: Violence against women and social and economic rights: deepening the connections

Beth Goldblatt


Violence against women cuts across class, touching both rich and poor. It is clear, however, that poverty and unequal access to resources contribute to the conditions that make women vulnerable to violence. The chapter suggests the need for a closer understanding of how violence acts as a barrier to women’s exercise of and access to their social and economic rights and how these rights might support efforts to prevent and address violence against women. The chapter considers some of the concerns raised by critical feminist scholars in relation to feminist engagements with international law, particularly where they deal with violence against women within international human rights law. It argues that a focus on social and economic rights might overcome some of these concerns in using human rights to address violence against women. It explores ways in which the conceptual connections between violence against women and social and economic rights might be deepened in international human rights law. Social and economic rights have potential value in contributing to the prevention of violence, rather than just in responding to it. Together with substantive approaches to equality, social and economic rights might be marshalled to achieve transformative changes to society, by altering some of the structural underpinnings of poverty and inequality that contribute to violence against women.

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