Domestic Violence

Working Paper
VAW in Australia - The Frontline Narrative of a Multicultural Officer. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.Abstract

The Multicultural Community Liaison Officer (MCLO) Program is designed to combat domestic violence in the Australia.  This presentation briefly discusses the challenges and achievements of MCLO. 

Meyersfield B. A Theory of Domestic Violence in International Law. Yale Law School Dissertations [Internet]. 2016;(3). Publisher's VersionAbstract


This thesis is born of the question: why do women suffer domestic violence disproportionately to any other group? Why does it continue, in the same form, with the same degree of pain, without rebate? And, if the same harm occurs over and over again, consistent through generations and uniform across borders, why then has the international community not yet developed effective means to address it? This thesis attempts to find a legal answer. This is prefaced, however, by the acknowledgement that the law is only one tool in an array of mechanisms, such as health, economics, and politics, which, if properly combined, could alleviate the pain and difficulties experienced by many victims of domestic violence. The area of law to which I look is international human rights law. My initial motivation for considering public international law arose from the repetition of similar forms of domestic violence around the globe. All over the world women suffer the same type of violence at the hands of their intimate partners and they endure the same feelings of helplessness and isolation when looking to the state for protection. If such violence is universal, it seems then, so too should be the solution. I propose in this thesis that international law, if properly fashioned, can be used effectively as part of this solution. In particular, I maintain that the authoritative enunciation of a norm against domestic violence in international law can improve the way states address domestic violence. I do not propose that individual abusers should be tried by international law. My focus instead is on the extent to which states fail consistently to alleviate domestic violence. This is important because many legal systems appreciate neither the exigency of extreme forms of domestic violence, nor the extent to which women as a group are disproportionately victims of this violence. The result of this lack of appreciation is an almost universal failure to police, prevent and punish domestic violence effectively.3 Due to the socialized normalcy of domestic violence, very few cases are reported or actually prosecuted. Where prosecutions do proceed, victims will often drop their complaints either because they have reconciled with, or because they fear recrimination from, their abuser. Given the disjuncture between the reality of domestic violence and the inefficacy of many legal systems to address it, a revision of the law vis-à-vis domestic violence is needed. Both national and international legal systems are in need of change. This thesis proposes that the international community should adopt a clear and authoritative articulation of a legal right against extreme and systemic forms of domestic violence and a corresponding duty of states to help remedy such violence. This proposition is made on the basis that international law currently does not contain an effective articulation of this right, and that adopting effective global standards in international law for addressing such violence would help improve state enforcement of this right. Under the current state of international law, it is difficult to convince states to prioritize its resources and infrastructures to protect abused women. Articulating clear and effective global standards in international law for addressing extreme forms of domestic violence would provide an important and practical benchmark against which domestic state legislation could be evaluated and re-shaped. Formulating such global standards could place pressure on states to take basic remedial steps against such violence, such as enacting legislation that allows for restraining orders to be made at the same time as a maintenance order, or creating accessible shelters, which will accommodate the divergent needs of women, including their children.


Fahmina T. Fairness creams, skin colour-based discrimination and violence against women: time to stop!. Odhikar [Internet]. 2016. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Ruma (not her real name), a school teacher by profession and a mother of two, living in Dhaka, married Mainul eight years ago. Soon after, Mainul started harassing her, calling her an ‘ugly’ woman – because of her dark complexion.  Her mother-in-law and other members of her husband’s family used to verbally abuse her almost every day, saying that her skin is ‘moyla’ (dirty); and expressed their anger and frustration, and thought that Mainul had bad luck as he was not able to marry a ‘beautiful’ woman–meaning a fair-complexioned woman. Ruma tried very hard to be seen as beautiful in the eyes of her husband and in-laws and experimented to see how she could look fairer. She started buying brand name fairness creams, hoping to make her skin lighter as she started to believe that fair meant lovely, as the advertisements say. She regularly watched fairness cream advertisements on television, read about them on bill boards and newspapers and wanted to be as fair as the models in the advertisements. Unfortunately, nothing really worked or showed much of a result. Her husband and in laws demanded a huge amount of dowry repeatedly – apparently as a retaliation for her darker skin.

Weisberg DK, Saffren J ed. Domestic Violence Report. Civic Research Institute; 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

The leading professional report devoted exclusively to innovative programs, legal developments, and current services and research in domestic violence law and prevention.

Domestic Violence Report keeps you up-to-date on...

  • Successful programs for prevention, protection, enforcement, prosecution, aftercare and corrections
  • New legislation, court decisions, regulatory and policy developments
  • Practical intervention strategies
  • Criminal and civil litigation
  • Medical and psychological treatment of victims, abusers and their children
Fahmina T. Are you a silent observer of dowry and related violence?. Odhikar [Internet]. 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Every year many women in Bangladesh are killed and physically abused and many commit suicide because of the the vicious dowry practice and related violence. According to the rights organisation Odhikar, at least 2,800 women were killed, 1,833 were physically abused and 204 committed suicide because of dowry-related violence between 2001 and July 2014.

By analysing the overall dowry situation, reported statistics indicate that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Majority of the victims continue to tolerate abuse, if they are not killed, all through their married life and never report it. The main reasons behind tolerating or not reporting such abuse is that they are either financially incapable of going away and protecting themselves from their abusive husbands or they are not welcome by their poverty-stricken or stigmatised parental families.

Adams AE, Greeson MR, Bybee DI, Beeble M, Sullivan CM, Kennedy AC. Beyond deficits: intimate partner violence, maternal parenting, and child behavior over time. American Journal of Community Psychology [Internet]. 2014;54 (1-2) :46-58. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) has negative consequences for children's well-being and behavior. Much of the research on parenting in the context of IPV has focused on whether and how IPV victimization may negatively shape maternal parenting, and how parenting may in turn negatively influence child behavior, resulting in a deficit model of mothering in the context of IPV. However, extant research has yet to untangle the interrelationships among the constructs and test whether the negative effects of IPV on child behavior are indeed attributable to IPV affecting mothers' parenting. The current study employed path analysis to examine the relationships among IPV, mothers' parenting practices, and their children's externalizing behaviors over three waves of data collection among a sample of 160 women with physically abusive partners. Findings indicate that women who reported higher levels of IPV also reported higher levels of behavior problems in their children at the next time point. When parenting practices were examined individually as mediators of the relationship between IPV and child behavior over time, one type of parenting was significant, such that higher IPV led to higher authoritative parenting and lower child behavior problems [corrected]. On the other hand, there was no evidence that higher levels of IPV contributed to more child behavior problems due to maternal parenting. Instead, IPV had a significant cumulative indirect effect on child behavior via the stability of both IPV and behavior over time. Implications for promoting women's and children's well-being in the context of IPV are discussed.

Gosselin DK. Heavy Hands: An Introduction to the Crimes of Intimate and Family Violence, 5/E. Prentice Hall; 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

Heavy Hands, Fifth Edition, provides an authentic introduction to the crimes of family violence, covering offenders and offenses, impact on victims, and responses of the criminal justice system. This established text is essential reading for those considering careers in criminal justice, victim advocacy, social work, and counseling. Gosselin draws on extensive field experience and uses real-life examples to provide sharp insight into how and why abuse occurs and its effects on abuse survivors. The text’s accessible language and effective learning tools keep students engaged and motivated, while its practical, real-world focus helps students connect text material to the world around them. 

Domestic Violence Module: Demographic and Health Surveys Methodology. United States Agency for International Development; 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

**Go to the publication "DHS6_Module_Domestic_Violence_6Aug2014_DHSQMP"

This document is part of the Demographic and Health Survey’s DHS Toolkit of methodology for the MEASURE DHS Phase III project, implemented from 2008-2013.

This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It was prepared by MEASURE DHS/ICF International.

Ngwena C, Durojaye E. Strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the African region through human rights. Pretoria University Law Press; 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the African region through human rights uses rights-based frameworks to address some of the serious sexual and reproductive health challenges that the African region is currently facing. More importantly, the book provides insightful human rights approaches on how these challenges can be overcome. The book is the first of its kind. It is an important addition to the resources available to researchers, academics, policymakers, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, learners and other persons interested in the subject of sexual and reproductive health and rights as they apply to the African region. Human rights issues addressed by the book include: access to safe abortion and emergency obstetric care; HIV/AIDS; adolescent sexual health and rights; early marriage; and gender-based sexual violence.

Win TL. Myanmar Activists Demand Law to Ban Violence Against Women Pearce T. The New York Times [Internet]. 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Myanmar Activists Demand Law to Ban Violence Against Women

This article from The New York Times explores Myanmar's lack of infrastructure to combat violence against women and children. 

Jemia MB, Sedou L, Scott M, Thill M, Pavlou S, Brié F, Alqurah L. Violence against Women in the context of Political Transformations and Economic Crisis in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: Trends and Recommendations towards Equality and Justice. EuroMed Rights - Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network; 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8th of March), the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) published today its regional report “Violence against women in the context of political transformations and economic crisis in the Euro-Mediterranean region; trends and recommendations towards equality and justice”.

This report alerts that violence against women has dramatically increased in the Euro-Mediterranean region during the recent years,  showcasing key patterns of violence against women, through case studies from Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, France, Cyprus and Spain.

The report also underlines the alarming increase and severity of sexual violence in countries such as Libya, Syria and Egypt mounting to sexual terrorism.  In Egypt, women protestors were subjected to systematic and seemingly planned harassment and gang rapes in Tahrir Square. In Syria, women and are subjected to trafficking and sexual exploitation girls in refugee camps.

Pancio K. Barriers to Implementing VAW Law Against Domestic Violence in Three Asian Countries (China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), in Initiative on VAW, March 2014 Research Briefing. Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government ; 2014.Abstract

Subject: This research memorandum presents key findings from desk research conducted in January and February 2014, on the barriers to instituting appropriate VAW laws against domestic violence (DV), and to effectively implementing them in three countries in Asia (China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).

Background and Cross-Cutting Findings: China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have all ratified CEDAW; however, both China and Pakistan have not passed the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Research found four cross-cutting barriers impeding the institutionalization of appropriate VAW laws against DV in these three countries:

1)  The predominant public discourse on DV is fragmented. As a result, an overall sense of urgency and severity of the problem is not felt among key stakeholders in all 3 countries.

2)  Other national policies regarding housing, marriage, fertility, migration, etc. undermine both the international (CEDAW) legal framework, and the national policies set up for service provision and protection across all three countries.

3)  There is an overall lack of appropriate resource allocation among all 3 countries for comprehensively implementing appropriate VAW laws against DV. A large body of evidence suggests multiple root causes for VAW-DV, and States disagree on where and how to allocate resources to VAW-DV (prevention, intervention, prosecution, and protection).

4)  Incomparable and unreliable data is the 4th major barrier to instituting appropriate VAW laws against DV both internationally through CEDAW, and nationally within all 3 countries. Transparency of data collection methodologies is also a noted concern. 

Eslick N. Violence against Women in Australia and The National Action Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, in Initiative on VAW, Research Briefing. Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government ; 2014.Abstract

Violence against Women (VAW) is a pervasive, global human rights violation. This research memo discusses the current state of VAW in Australia, and the Australian Governments proposed National Action Plan (NAP) addressing VAW across Australia’s diverse community. Noting that women’s rights are not fully protected by the Commonwealth and revealing the current appalling statistics around domestic and sexual violence against Australian women, the memo then provides insight on Indigenous women and VAW, followed by a deeper look at NAP. Finally, after a brief look at the recent study tour of Australia by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Australia’s commitment to addressing VAW is discussed with reference to reporting for CEDAW and UPR. The memo then considers the Special Rapporteur’s study tour in light of the election of a new federal government. It then concludes that if the state shows genuine commitment to its people, and to its obligations under human rights treaties, the onus ultimately rests on it to work with civil society to make use of the human rights mechanisms and seek to honestly and with purpose examine their human rights status and develop and adopt sustainable positive change. 

Adams AE, Bybee DI, Tolman RM, Sullivan CM, Kennedy AC. Does Job Stability Mediate the Relationship Between Intimate Partner Violence and Mental Health Among Low-Income Women?. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry [Internet]. 2013;83 (4) :600-608. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) has detrimental consequences for women's mental health. To effectively intervene, it is essential to understand the process through which IPV influences women's mental health. The current study used data from 5 waves of the Women's Employment Study, a prospective study of single mothers receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to empirically investigate the extent to which job stability mediates the relationship between IPV and adverse mental health outcomes. The findings indicate that IPV significantly negatively affects women's job stability and mental health. Further, job stability is at least partly responsible for the damaging mental health consequences of abuse, and the effects can last up to 3 years after the IPV ends. This study demonstrates the need for interventions that effectively address barriers to employment as a means of enhancing the mental health of low-income women with abusive partners.

Nnawulezi NA, Sullivan CM. Oppression Within Safe Spaces: Exploring Racial Microaggressions Within Domestic Violence Shelters. The Journal of Black Psychology [Internet]. 2013;40 (6) :563-591. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

Racial microaggressions are often unintentional and subtle forms of racism that manifest in interpersonal communications, behaviors, or environments. The purpose of this study was to explore the presence of racial microaggressions within domestic violence shelters and to understand how women respond to them. Using a phenomenological approach to data collection and analysis, 14 Black women from 3 different shelters were interviewed. Twelve women reported experiencing at least one racial microaggression, although few identified the experience as racist. Additional themes were also examined to understand why women did not identify their experiences of racial microaggressions as racist. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality - UNIFEM Strategy 2008-2013. UNIFEM; 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Can be found under the 'View Online' portion of the site

Ending violence against women is at the heart of the mandate of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The international community has an unprecedented opportunity to make meaningful progress in tackling this universal human rights violation. Within this context, UNIFEM has developed its Strategy 2008-2013 to end violence against women and girls, an overview of which is presented here. 

Bolivia enfrentará con dura ley la impunidad en los crímenes contra mujeres. La República EC [Internet]. 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

La Paz, 15 feb (EFE).- Bolivia ha asumido el reto de frenar la hasta ahora reinante impunidad en los crímenes contra las mujeres con una ley que castigará con dureza la violencia machista, tras el asesinato esta semana de una periodista a manos de su esposo policía.

Factsheet: Violence Against Women. European Court of Human Rights [Internet]. 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract{"fulltext":["factsheet: Violence against women"],"subcategory":["factsheets"]}

Document summaries the court’s case law in relation to domestic violence, genital mutilations, rape, violence and social exclusion, violence at the hands of state authorities and violence in public places.

12 cases dealing with domestic violence refer to the violation of different articles of the European Convention of human rights, namely of the article 2 on the right to life, article 13 on the right to an effective remedy, article 8 on the right to respect for family life, prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and article 14 on prohibition of discrimination. Both cases relating genital mutilation against Austria and Ireland were declared inadmissible for the reasons of insufficient protection of the young Nigerian girls that should be provided by their parents. 5 cases dealing with rape reaffirmed the violation of articles 3 on the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, article 8 and artcile 13 mentioned above. The case of violence and social exclusion confirmed violation of the article 3 whereas the violence at the hands of state authorities brought forward violation of the article 3, artcile 14 and article 11 on freedom of assembly. The last case presented in the factsheet deals with the violence in public places giving declaring the violation of the article 3 and article 8.

Sinha M ed. Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics; 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

For the past three decades, Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for the Status of Women have shared a common vision to end violence against women in all its forms. Violence against women inCanada is a serious, pervasive problem that crosses every social boundary and affects communities across the country. It remains a significant barrier to women's equality and has devastating impacts on the lives of women, children, families and Canadian society as a whole.

This report marks the third time that the FPT Status of Women Forum has worked with Statistics Canada to add to the body of evidence on gender-based violence. Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile was released in 2002 and was followed by Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006. The 2006 report expanded the analysis into new areas, presenting information on Aboriginal women and women living in Canada's territories. The current report maintains this important focus and also includes information on dating violence, violence against girls and violence that occurs outside of the intimate partner/family context. It also shows trends over time and provides data at national, provincial/territorial, and census metropolitan area levels. A study on the economic impacts of one form of violence against women, spousal violence, is also presented.

Bayat F. Preventing and Responding to Domestic Violence in China through a Multi-sectoral Approach. United Nations Development Group; 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract,proj...

Please enter "Consolidated Report China" into the search engine in order to find this document.

The United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund to EVAW) is a leading multilateral grant-making mechanism devoted to supporting national and local efforts to end violence against women and girls. Established in 1996 by a UN General Assembly Resolution, the UN Trust Fund to EVAW is now administered by UN WOMEN. In 2008, the UN Trust Fund to EVAW began awarding grants on a competitive basis for Joint Programmes submitted by UN Country Teams.