Publications by Type: Journal Article

Radacic I. Human Rights of Women and the Public/Private Divide in International Human Rights Law. Croatian Yearbook of European Law and Policy. 2007;3. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Women’s human rights have long been marginalised in international human rights law. The public/private divide on which international human rights law rests has been constructed in a manner that obscures the experiences of women and fails to challenge women’s disadvantage. 
In this paper, I discuss the problem of the marginalisation of women’s rights in international human rights law and propose reforms to fully incorporate women’s experiences of human rights abuse. The focus of the analysis is on the public/private divide and its reflection in the conceptualisation of rights, the doctrine of state responsibility, and the principle of equality. 
The main argument of this paper is that the gendered nature of the divide needs to be transcended and the public/private divide re-conceptualised in a manner that challenges discrimination and violence against women in the private sphere, while protecting women’s freedom of self-determination and personal development in both the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ sphere. Such a re-construction of the public/private divide entails using gender analysis in interpreting rights, state responsibility, and equality.
Gracia E, Herrero J. Acceptability of domestic violence against women in the European Union: a multilevel analysis. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 2006. 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 acceptability of domestic violence against women (DVAW) plays an important part in shaping the social environment in which the victims are embedded, which in turn may contribute either to perpetuate or to reduce the levels of DVAW in our societies. This study analyses correlates of the acceptability of DVAW in the European Union (EU).

Borelli S. Positive Obligations of States and the Protection of Human Rights. INTERIGHTS Bulletin. 2006;15 (4) :101-103. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The recognition of a duty incumbent upon states ‘to take action’ is, at base, the common denominator of all understandings of the notion of ‘positive obligations’. In the specific context of international human rights law, the notion is one which has been frequently invoked both by treaty-monitoring bodies and in the academic literature; however, the term apparently bears differing meanings for different writers, depending on the context and the obligation under discussion. A number of different uses can accordingly be discerned, which to some extent overlap and interact. 

Ertürk Y. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences - 20 January 2006. UN . 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Agenda item 12


Sixty-Second Commission on Human Rights

This is my third report to the Commission in my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on the violence against women, its causes and consequences, submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 2005/41. Chapter I of the report summarizes my activities in 2005 and chapter II examines the due diligence standard as a tool for the effective implementation of women’s human rights, including the right to live a life free from violence.

The failure of international human rights law to adequately reflect and respond to the experiences and needs of women has stimulated much debate on the mainstream application of human rights standards. This has resulted in the transformation of the conventional understanding of human rights and the doctrine of State responsibility.

The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as well as other international instruments adopted the concept of due diligence, in relation to violence against women, as a yardstick to assess whether the State has met its obligation. Under the due diligence obligation, States have a duty to take positive action to prevent and protect women from violence, punish perpetuators of violent acts and compensate victims of violence. However, the application of due diligence standard, to date, has tended to be State-centric and limited to responding to violence when it occurs, largely neglecting the obligation to prevent and compensate and the responsibility of non-State actors.

The current challenge in combating violence against women is the implementation of existing human rights standards to ensure that the root causes and consequences of violence against women are tackled at all levels from the home to the transnational arena. The multiplicity of forms of violence against women as well as the fact that this violence frequently occurs at the intersection of different types of discrimination makes the adoption of multifaceted strategies to effectively prevent and combat this violence a necessity.

In this regard, the potential of the due diligence standard is explored at different levels of intervention: individual women, the community, the State and the transnational level. At each level, recommendations for relevant actors are highlighted. The report concludes that if we continue to push the boundaries of due diligence in demanding the full compliance of States with international law, including to address the root causes of violence, against women and to hold non-State actors accountable for their acts of violence, then we will move towards a conception of human rights that meets our aspirations for a just world free of violence. 

Sagot M. The Critical Path of Women Affected by Family Violence in Latin America: Case Studies From 10 Countries. Violence Against Women. 2005;11 :1292-1318. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

This research examined the critical path followed by women from 10 Latin American countries who suffer family violence. It identified the personal and social processes women experience as a result of their help-seeking actions and the kinds of responses found at local services. The study used an action-oriented qualitative methodology with a standard research protocol that was translated and adapted for the various ethnic groups. The results provided community actors with an understanding of the barriers women face in overcoming the obstacles, humiliation, and inadequate responses they encounter along their critical paths.

Guanzon RV, Calalang CM. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act: Issues and Problems. Journal of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. 2004;30 (1) :79-91.Abstract

Trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, is a highly lucrative business worldwide. Millions of women and girls, mostly from poor countries, are trafficked globally into the sex industry. They are traded as objects or goods to be used like any commodity. This human rights problem has been the subject of  various international instruments, including, notably, the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. Trafficking victimizes mostly women and girls because of gender discrimination and their vulnerability.

In response to this problem, many countries have signed or acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which obliges States to pass laws to stop trafficking. The Philippines ratified this convention in 1981. These international instruments notwithstanding, trafficking continues unabated, with syndicates preying on vulnerable women and children from developing countries like the Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand. It thrives as a very lucrative business because there is an existing demand for cheap labor, sex slaves, and organs of human beings. Traffickers take advantage of the lack of laws and inadequate government policies, poor law enforcement, corruption in government, political and economic conditions of the countries of origin, as well as the domestic situations of their target victims.


The Anti Trafficking in Persons act - Issues and Problems
Goodkind JR, Gillum TL, Bybee DI, Sullivan CM. The Impact of Family and Friends’ Reactions on the Well-Being of Women With Abusive Partners. Violence Against Women. 2003;9 (3) :347-373. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

This study examined the degree to which battered women talked with family and friends about abuse they were experiencing and how family and friends responded. Participants were 137 women who had recently experienced domestic violence and were exiting a shelter. Most women confided in family and friends about the abuse. Family and friends’ reactions depended on contextual factors, including the woman’s relationship with her assailant, number of separations, number of children, and whether family and friends were threatened. Family and friends’ negative reactions and offers of tangible support were significantly related to women’s well-being, although positive emotional support was not.

Merry SE. Constructing a Global Law - Violence against Women and the Human Rights System. Law & Social Inquiry. 2003;28 (4) :941-977. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

This ethnographic analysis of one of the core human rights conventions suggests that despite the lack of enforceability of this convention and its operation within the framework of state sovereignty, it is similar to state law. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, the major UN convention on the status of women, articulates a vision of women's equal protection from discrimination and addresses gender-based violence as a form of discrimination. It had been ratified by 171 nation states as of mid-2003. Its implementation relies on a complex process of periodic reporting to a global body meeting in New York and a symbiotic if sometimes contentious relationship between government representatives and international and domestic NGOs. Like state law, it serves to articulate and name problems and delineate solutions. It provides a resource for activists endeavoring to address problems of women's status and turns the international gaze on resisting nations. Its regulatory strength depends on the cultural legitimacy of the international process of consensus building and related social movements to define social justice in these terms. Thus, like state law, its impact depends on its cultural legitimacy and its embodiment in local cultures and legal consciousness. This examination of CEDAW as quasi law extends our understanding of law as a plural and a symbolic system rooted in a particular historical moment of globalization.


Sullivan CM, Bybee DI, Allen NE. Findings From a Community-Based Program for Battered Women and Their Children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2002;17 (9) :915-936. 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 effectiveness of a strengths-and community-based support and advocacy intervention for battered women and their children was examined. The study included a longitudinal, experimental design and employed multimethod strategies to measure children's exposure to abuse and their self-competence over a period of 8 months. Maternal experience of abuse and maternal well-being were also assessed. The experimental intervention involved advocacy for mothers and their children and a 10-week support and education group for the children. Families in the experimental condition received the free services of a trained paraprofessional for 6 to 8 hours per week over 16 weeks. Eighty mothers and their 80 children participated in the study. Findings were modest but promising. Children in the experimental condition reported significantly higher self-competence in several domains compared to children in the control group. The intervention caused improvement in women's depression and self-esteem over time. Policy, practice and research implications are discussed.

Bybee DI, Sullivan CM. The process through which an advocacy intervention resulted in positive change for battered women over time. American Journal of Psychology. 2002;30 (1) :103-132. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

A prior experimental evaluation of a community-based advocacy program for women with abusive partners demonstrated positive change in the lives of women even 2 years postintervention (C M. Sullivan & D. I. Bybee, 1999). The current study explored the complex mediational process through which this change occurred, using longitudinal structural equation modeling and formal tests of mediation. As hypothesized, the advocacy intervention first resulted in women successfully obtaining desired community resources and increasing their social support, which enhanced their overall quality of life. This improvement in well-being appeared to serve as a protective factor from subsequent abuse, as women who received the intervention were significantly less likely to be abused at 2-year follow-up compared with women in the control condition. Increased quality of life completely mediated the impact of the advocacy intervention on later reabuse. Discussion places advocacy for women in the context of other efforts that are needed to build an effective community response to preventing intimate violence against women.

Sutherland CA, Sullivan C, Bybee D. Effects of Intimate Partner Violence Versus Poverty on Women's Health. Sage Publications. 2001;7 (10) :1122-1143. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This article investigated whether women's physical health symptoms were due to abuse, poverty, or both. A community sample of 397 women, about half of whom had been assaulted by an intimate partner, were interviewed about their income, experience of physical abuse, and physical health. Hierarchical multiple regression revealed that both income and physical abuse contributed to women's rates of physical health symptoms. Abuse contributed to the variance in physical health beyond that predicted by income level alone. Findings suggest that abuse by an intimate partner or ex-partner negatively affects women's health and is especially detrimental to the health of low-income women.

Sullivan CM, Bybee DI. Reducing violence using community-based advocacy for women with abusive partners. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1999;67 (1) :43-53. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

An intensive community-based advocacy intervention was designed and evaluated by randomly assigning 278 battered women to an experimental or control condition. Participants were interviewed 6 times over a period of 2 years. Retention rate averaged 95% over the 2 years. The 10-week postshelter intervention involved providing trained advocates to work 1-on-1 with women, helping generate and access the community resources they needed to reduce their risk of future violence from their abusive partners. Women who worked with advocates experienced less violence over time, reported higher quality of life and social support, and had less difficulty obtaining community resources. More than twice as many women receiving advocacy services experienced no violence across the 2 years postintervention compared with women who did not receive such services.

Sutherland C, Sullivan CM, Bybee DI. The long-term effects of battering on women's health. Women's Health. 1998;4 (1) :41-70. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

We examined the effects of intimate violence on the physical and psychological health of women over time. Changes in levels of physical and psychological abuse, injuries, physical health symptoms, anxiety, and depression were assessed three times: immediately after exit from a domestic violence program and at 81/2- and 141/2-month follow-ups. Analyses showed a significant decline in abuse, physical health symptoms, anxiety, and depression over time. Longitudinal structural equation modeling demonstrated that ongoing abuse was significantly related to increased physical and psychological health problems from one time period to the next, even when prior levels of physical and psychological health were controlled. Within each time interval, the effects of abuse on physical symptoms appeared to be mediated through anxiety and depression; although this relationship was replicated at several time points, the mediation was not verified across time, probably because measurement intervals were too long to reflect the underlying causal sequence. Although injuries were the direct result of abuse, injuries showed no significant effect on physical symptoms, anxiety, or depression. Implications for intervention and future research are discussed.

Fleury RE, Sullivan CM, Bybee DI, Davidson WS. "Why don't they just call the cops?": Reasons for differential police contact among women with abusive partners. Violence and Victims. 1998;13 (4) :333-346. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

Incidents of domestic violence are frequently not reported to police (e.g., Johnson, 1990; Langan & Innes, 1986; Roy, 1977), and people commonly assume that women's reasons for not calling about violence by a current or former partner are intrapersonal (e.g., shame, embarrassment, love). However, few researchers have asked battered women themselves about the frequency of their police contacts and their reasons for not calling the police. In this study, participants were recruited from a battered women's shelter and asked about their experiences with the police over the prior 6 months. Two thirds of the sample had had contact with the police during that time, but most did not have as much contact with the police as they had needed. Women gave multiple reasons for not calling the police; these reasons frequently included situational barriers, such as being physically prevented from using the telephone and/or being threatened with more violence. Only 3% of the sample reported that shame, embarrassment, or love were their sole reasons for not calling the police. Underreporting was related to previous (negative) experience with the police, as well as to the level of violence experienced. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Eby KK, Cambell JC, Sullivan CM. Health effects of experiences of sexual violence for women with abusive partners. Health Care Women International. 1995;16 (6) :563-576. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

We assessed the incidence of sexual violence, physical violence, physical health symptoms, gynecological symptoms, and risk behaviors for contracting an STD or HIV infection in women who had used a shelter for women with abusive partners. In addition, we investigated the relationships between sexual violence and the frequency of physical health symptoms, including specific gynecological symptoms. Results indicated that one fourth of the women interviewed had experienced sexual violence and nearly two thirds of the women had experienced physical violence in the past 6 months. The incidence of physical health symptoms, gynecological symptoms, and risk behaviors for exposure to STDs and HIV infection are presented. The correlations among sexual violence, physical violence, and experiences of physical health symptoms are also reported. This study is particularly valuable because previous research has not documented the relationship between sexual violence and physical health symptoms.

Campbell R, Sullivan CM, Davidson WS. Women Who Use Domestic Violence Shelters:Changes in Depression Over Time. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 1995;19 (2) :237-255. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

This study examined the levels of depression reported by women who had used a domestic violence shelter. Depressive symptoms were assessed three times: immediately after shelter exit, 10 weeks thereafter, and 6 months later. Whereas 83% of the women reported at least mild depression on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale upon shelter exit, only 58% were depressed 10 weeks later. This did not change at the 6-month follow-up. An ecological, longitudinal model was evaluated to predict battered women's depression 8 1/2 months postshelter exit. Results of hierarchical regression analyses suggested that, after controlling for previous levels of depression, the women's feelings of powerlessness, experience of abuse, and decreased social support contributed to their depression symptoms. The women's scores on these three variables (feelings of powerlessness, abuse, and social support) at 10 weeks postshelter exit and at 6-month follow-up predicted depression at 6 months. Thus, there were both predictive and concurrent effects for these constructs. Implications for clinical and community interventions are discussed.

Etienne M. Addressing Gender-Based Violence in an International Context. Harvard Women's Law Journal. 1995;18 :139. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This Article, exploratory in nature, revisits the feasibility of establishing workable international standards for addressing the dehumanizing violence and discrimination that women suffer by virtue of their gender. It concludes that human rights activists and organizations seeking justice for women must not rely on contemporary international law, but must instead focus on local grassroots and watch group institutions that are intimately aware of the abuses faced by women. Part I examines the nature of abuses against women qua women and looks critically at the United Nations' response to these crises. Part II discusses the deficiencies in public international law, namely the United Nations' Charter and the Women's Convention, and the inherent limitations of the framework of international law in addressing the issue of gender-based discrimination. Part III suggests local and regional solutions, particularly the development of extra-legal strategies and institutions to counter more effectively gender-based abuses and to change public attitudes about gender equity. This Article neither attempts nor claims to solve the problem of international human rights for women. It suggests seeking justice for women in an alternative setting: Human rights for women can be attained more fruitfully through localized structures that both prioritize education, control, and management and seek concrete solutions in the struggle against gender bias.

Sullivan CM, Basta J, Tan C, Davidson WS. After the crisis: a needs assessment of women leaving a domestic violence shelter. Violence and Victims. 1992;7 (3) :267-275. 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 current study presents the results of a needs assessment of 141 women exiting an emergency shelter for women with abusive partners. Extensive in-person interviews were conducted. Results indicate that battered women need numerous community resources upon their shelter exit, including legal assistance, employment, and housing. Race, age, and whether a woman was returning to her assailant influenced which resources she reported needing at shelter exit. Most of the women had experienced severe abuse and injuries, and required physical protection. Implications of these findings as they relate to program development and integration of social services are discussed.

Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belem do Para”. Organization of American States. 1969. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the Convention of Belém do Pará (where it was adopted in 1994), defines violence against women, establishes that women have the right to live a life free of violence and that violence against women constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

It calls for the first time for the establishment of mechanisms for protecting and defending women's rights as essential to combating the phenomenon of violence against women's physical, sexual, and psychological integrity, whether in the public or the private sphere, and for asserting those rights within society.