Publications by Year: 2011

2011 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Country Narratives. US Department of State. 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Remarks from Hillary Clinton on the release of the report: Every year, we come together to release this report, to take stock of our progress, to make suggestions, and to refine our methods. Today, we are releasing a new report that ranks 184 countries, including our own. One of the innovations when I became Secretary was we were going to also analyze and rank ourselves, because I don’t think it’s fair for us to rank others if we don’t look hard at who we are and what we’re doing. This report is the product of a collaborative process that involves ambassadors and embassies and NGOs as well as our team here in Washington. And it really does give us a snapshot about what’s happening. It shows us where political will and political leadership are making a difference.

Kapur N. Everyday Equality. United Nations Development Fund for Women (part of UN Women) South Asia; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report tracks the progress made by women in South Asia in areas such as violence against women, and economic empowerment. This was the base document for the Seventh South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference in October 2010. 

Garcia-Moreno C, Watts C. Violence against women: an urgent public health priority. World Health Organization. 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Addressing violence against women is central to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 on women's empowerment and gender equality, as well as MDGs 4, 5 and 6. It is also a peace and security issue. In spite of this recognition, investment in prevention and in services for survivors remains woefully inadequate.

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Council of Europe; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape, physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of intimate partners, forced marriage, and forced sterilisation are deeply traumatising acts of violence. The overwhelming majority of victims are women. Adding female genital mutilation and forced abortion as forms of violence that only women can be subjected to, shows the shocking level of diversity in cruel and degrading behaviour that women experience. If we consider the fact that most violence is carried out by men, it is just a small step to understanding that violence against women is structural violence – violence that is used to sustain male power and control. This is even more obvious if we look at the patchy attempts of the police, courts and social services to help women victims which is seen in many countries across the world. 

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It is the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. Failure to do so would make it the responsibility of the state. The convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye. 

Because it is not only women who suffer domestic violence, parties to the convention are encouraged to apply the protective framework it creates to men, children and the elderly who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit. Still, it should not be overlooked that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women and that domestic violence against them is part of a wider pattern of discrimination and inequality.

Rape and sexual violence: Human rights law and standards in the International Criminal Court. London, UK: Amnesty International; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This document identifies how the crimes of rape and sexual violence must, as a requirement of its own statute and a matter of international human rights law, be interpreted and applied with equality between men and women by the International Criminal Court (the Court). The Court has yet to rule on this matter in its jurisprudence.

Such incorporation of human rights law and standards in the prosecution of rape and sexual violence should be undertaken by other international courts, as well as national courts, in order to discharge states’ duties under treaty and customary law.

In order to incorporate human rights law and standards in its practice, the Court’s interpretation of the definition of the crimes should address the behaviour and actions of the perpetrator, and how this affects the victim’s ability to exercise free and genuine choice, that is, to enjoy his or her human right to physical and mental integrity and sexual autonomy, without discrimination. The Court’s deliberation should not just address the victim’s purported ‘consent’ in isolation.

Human rights law and standards requires that investigations and prosecutions of the crimes of rape and sexual violence must be undertaken with careful attention given to the task of challenging stereotypes, which tend to undermine women’s equality before the law. The integrity of investigations and prosecutions should not be tainted by stereotypical assumptions, including assumptions about sexual violence towards men and boys, as well as towards women and girls.

Case of Izevbekhai and Others v. Ireland. European Court of Human Rights; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract{"fulltext":["IZEVBEKHAI"],"documentcollectionid2":["JUDGMENTS","DECISIONS"]}

The Applicants were a mother and two daughters who arrived in Ireland in January 2005. Mrs. Izevbekhai applied for declarations of refugee status on her own behalf and on behalf of her daughters. The basis of her claim for refugee status was that she was in fear for her own life and the lives of her daughters if they were returned to Nigeria, as a result of threats from the family of her husband to carry out female genital mutilation on her daughters. She claimed that an elder daughter had died in Nigeria as a result of complications arising from female genital mutilation. The Applicants’ applications for refugee status in Ireland were refused, and they made representations to the Minister for leave to remain temporarily in the State. These representations were rejected and the Minister made deportation orders in respect of all three Applicants in November 2005. Mrs. Izevbekhai went into hiding and her children were taken into care by the HSE. She was later apprehended by Gardaí and placed in detention. The Applicants obtained the leave of the High Court (McKechnie J.) to challenge the deportation orders by way of judicial review but the substantive applications were refused by the High Court (Feeney J.) in January 2008. In March 2008, the Applicants made applications to the Minister for subsidiary protection pursuant to the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations (S.I. No. 518) 2006. The Minister refused to consider their applications for subsidiary protection because the deportation orders had been made before the coming into force of the Regulations. In an earlier case (N.H and T.D. v. Minister for Justice and Law Reform [2007] IEHC 277) the courts had identified a discretion on the part of the Minister to accept such late applications, but the Minister refused to exercise this discretion in favour of the Applicants. In March 2008 the High Court (Edwards J.) granted to the Applicants leave to apply for judicial review of the Minister's decision. In January 2009, the High Court (McGovern J.) delivered judgment on the substantive application for judicial review, and held that the Minister had acted properly. The Applicants appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the Minister’s officials reopened their investigations into Ms Izevbekhai’s claims about the death of her eldest daughter in Nigeria. The Minister concluded that the documents relied upon by Ms Izevbekhai in support of her claim were forgeries and that no such child had ever existed. Affidavits to this effect were filed in the Supreme Court.

Following the hearing on the preliminary issue of whether the Minister had jurisdiction to entertain the application for subsidiary protection, the Supreme Court found that he had no discretion to do so. Consequently, the substantive appeal did not proceed and thus no findings were made by the Supreme Court as regards the Minister’s allegations of forgery.

The Applicants took their case to the ECHR and complained under Article 3 that there was a real risk that the minor Applicants would be exposed to FGM if they were expelled to Nigeria. They also invoked Articles 6, 13 and 14 of the Convention about the domestic remedies available to them in that respect. The ECHR found that the information presented by the Government with respect to the documents relied upon by Ms Izevbekhai gave strong reasons to question the veracity of the Applicants’ core factual submission concerning the death of a child in Nigeria as a result of FGM. The Court considered the Applicants’ response to the core issue of credibility to be unsatisfactory.

Case of Omeredo v. Austria. European Court of Human Rights; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract{"fulltext":["OMEREDO%20v.%20AUSTRIA"],"documentcollectionid2":["JUDGMENTS","DECISIONS"]}

Facts – The applicant fled Nigeria in May 2003 and applied for asylum in Austria on the grounds that she was at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in her own country. The Federal Asylum Office rejected her request after finding that, even though her statements were credible, she had the alternative of living in another province of Nigeria where FGM was prohibited by law. The applicant lodged a complaint against that decision with the asylum court, but it was ultimately rejected. The Constitutional Court declined to examine the question after finding that it did not raise any issue of constitutional law. In her application to the European Court, the applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that she ran the risk of being subjected to FGM if expelled to Nigeria and that relying on an internal flight alternative and moving to another part of Nigeria as a single woman without her family to help her would also violate her rights under that provision.

Law – Article 3: It was not in dispute that subjecting any person, child or adult, to FGM would amount to ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 (see also Izevbekhai and Others v. Ireland (dec.), no. 43408/08, 17 May 2011). The Court noted, however, that while the domestic authorities had found that the applicant’s fear of being forced to undergo FGM in Nigeria was well-founded they considered that she disposed of an internal flight alternative within the country. The Court therefore had to assess the applicant’s personal situation in Nigeria. The applicant, who was thirty-seven years old, had obtained school education for at least thirteen years and had worked as a seamstress for eight years. While it might be difficult for her to live in Nigeria as an unmarried woman without the support of her family, the fact that her circumstances there would be less favourable than those she enjoyed in Austria could not be regarded as decisive. Owing to her education and work experience as a seamstress, there was reason to believe that she would be able to build up her life in Nigeria without having to rely on the support of family members.

Spieler P. Contributions to the Debate on Domestic Violence Against Women in Brazil. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. 2011;18 (1) :121-143. 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 article aims to demonstrate the contributions of the Maria da Penha case and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Report of 2001 to the debate on domestic violence against women in Brazil, with special emphasis to the adoption of the Maria da Penha Law. The IACHR was the first international human rights organ to bring to light the problem. Beside contributing to internal changes, this case has great relevance as it was the first one of domestic violence analyzed by the Inter-American Commission. It revealed the systematic pattern of violence against women in the country. 

Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice looks at how the legal system can play a positive role in women accessing their rights, citing cases that have changed women's lives both at a local and at times global level. It also looks at the important role women have played and continue to play as agents for change within the legal system, as legislators, as lawyers, as community activists; but also asks why, despite progress on legal reform, the justice system is still not delivering justice for all women.

The report focuses on four key areas: legal and constitutional frameworks, the justice chain, plural legal systems and conflict and post-conflict. Drawing on tangible examples of steps that have been taken to help women access justice, the report sets out ten key recommendations for policy and decision makers to act on in order to ensure every woman is able to obtain justice.

Kaufman R, Ward JAK. Using Human Rights Mechanisms of the United Nations to Advance Economic Justice. Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy. 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Article located at the bottom of the page of the given link

Taken from the intro: Building upon previous Clearinghouse Review articles and several appearing in this issue, we draw a primer on the U.N. human rights system as a means of complementing domestic advocacy efforts on behalf of low-income and poor communities and individuals. First, we give an overview of the U.N. mechanisms that monitor and promote human rights compliance in the United States. Second, we cite examples of how social justice organization have engaged these mechanisms to broaden access to justice and deter violence against women, and we suggest opportunities for future engagement on a range of issues confronting clients of legal aid programs. 

Law of rape in India. Fylfot Group of Advocates; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The word rape is Latin term ratio, which means seize i.e. forcible seizure which constitutes the main ingredient of the offence of rape. Law of rape in India however further widens the definition and means intercourse with a woman without her consent by force, fear or fraud. Several explanations of force fear and fraud has been incorporated to make the law of rape in India more comprehensive and stringent. Law of rape in India is contained in Indian Penal Code; Section 375 defines rape which can be reproduced as under:

Pakistan: State of Human Rights in 2011. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

2011 was a mixed bag for human rights. There certainly were some positives; some things remained unchanged; and then there were the aggravations. Ratification of a key child rights instrument, extension of Political Parties Act to FATA, introduction of laws to promote women's rights, religious minorities getting representation in the Senate, and a right to statutory bail for detainees in prisons are all steps that ought to be welcomed.

Unfortunately, the inability to introduce implementation mechanisms for international human rights treaties ratified by Pakistan remained unchanged, as did the indifference to or complicity with banning women from voting, and curbing disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The moratorium on executions stayed informal. The prisons remained at breaking point. Nothing was done to revive elected student unions in educational institutions or end the glut of weapons across the country. The public education system remained a scandal, the budgetary allocations to public healthcare fell even further, the government ceded ground to extremists and was utterly unprepared at the framework level to cope with internal displacement and its impact.

Bangladesh: Domestic violence, including legislation, state protection, and services available to victims. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

According to Human Rights Watch, domestic violence in Bangladesh is "a daily reality for many women" (2011, 3; Human Rights Watch 2010, 4). The 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey reported that 53 percent of the ever-married women surveyed had experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their husbands (NIPORT et al. Mar. 2009, 201). In 2010, the Bangladesh Police registered 16,210 cases of "[c]ruelty to women" (Bangladesh n.d.a), a term that, under the Prevention of Cruelty Against Women and Children Act, includes rape, trafficking, dowry-related violence, acid throwing, and other forms of violence, but that does not necessarily include domestic violence since "there is no separate provision to seek justice for domestic violence" (UN 24 Mar. 2010, 28, 89).
A Long Way to Go: Implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law in Afghanistan. UNAMA; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report is based on research carried out by UNAMA/OHCHR human rights officers in Kabul and in eight UNAMA regional offices between March 2010 and September 2011. UNAMA/OHCHR officers gathered detailed statistical and substantive information on implementation of the EVAW law by prosecutors, judges and police officers, and on the status of operations of provincial Commissions for Prevention of Violence against Women. 

Kiener R. Honor Killings: Can Murders of Women and Girls be Stopped?. CQ Global Researcher. 2011;5 (8) :183-208. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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

Each week brings horrific new headlines stating that, somewhere around the world, a woman or girl has been killed by a male relative for allegedly bringing dishonor upon her family. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, "In the name of preserving family 'honor,' women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death with horrifying regularity." Between 5,000 and 20,000 so-called honor killings are committed each year, based on long-held beliefs that any female who commits -- or is suspected of committing -- an "immoral" act should be killed to "restore honor" to her family. Honor killings are deeply rooted in ancient patriarchal and fundamentalist traditions, which some judicial systems legitimize by pardoning offenders or handing out light sentences. Human-rights organizations are demanding that governments and the international community act more forcefully to stop honor killings, but officials in some countries are doing little to protect women and girls within their borders.

The use of Council of Europe treaties in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. Research Division of the European Court of Human Rights; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The report is found under the Case-law research reports heading as "Use of Council of Europe treaties in the case-law of the Court." 

This document, which has been prepared by the Research and Library Division of the Court, contains a table listing references that have been made in the judgments and decisions of the Court to the Council of Europe treaties up to 30 June 2011. Fifty-six treaties have been cited in the Court’s case-law. The European Social Charter of 1961, revised in 1996, is the treaty that has been the most referred to.

The table covers conventions to which reference is made in any part of the Court’s judgments and decisions, including the parties’ submissions and dissenting opinions, as well as treaties that have been referred to only in passing or indirectly through other international instruments or decisions. Treaties which the Court itself has described as international law relevant to a particular case and/or on which it has relied in its reasoning form a majority in this list.

Council of Europe conventions and agreements opened for signature between 1949 and 2003 were published in the European Treaty Series" (ETS No. 001 to 193 included). Since 2004, this Series is continued by the Council of Europe Treaty Series (CETS No. 194 and following). The term “ECHR” (“CEDH” in French) refers to the European Convention on Human Rights. 

CEDAW. Case of Mukhina v. Italy. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In 2001, Ms. Zhanna Mukhina, a Russian national currently residing and working in Italy, gave birth.  The father of the child, the author’s employer, refused to admit paternity and died shortly after the child’s birth.  In 2005, the author lost custody of her son ‘owing to the deterioration of her mental state and her inability to support the child.’  Subsequent appeals to regain custody of her son proved unsuccessful and, in 2009, the European Court of Human Rights declared a complaint from the author inadmissible.

In 2010, the author submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women claiming, without further substantiation, that Italy had violated her rights under article 16(f) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to ensure women and men ‘[t]he same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children ….’

CEDAW. Case of Rivera v. Canada. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Rivera v. Canada (CEDAW/C/50/D/26/2010). In 2006, Guadalupe Herrera Rivera (GHR), a Mexican national, claimed asylum in Canada, along with her then husband and their two minor children.  Canadian authorities denied the claim on the basis that it lacked credibility.

In October 2008, ‘Assistance aux femmes’, acting on behalf of GHR, filed applications with Immigration Canada for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) and on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.  The H&C grounds application included information about GHR’s experiences of domestic violence, the inadequate protection in Mexico against such violence, and the risk of GHR experiencing further violence if deported to Mexico.

In September 2010, GHR submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) claiming that, if Canada deported her to Mexico, it would violate her rights under articles 1, 2(a)-2(d), 5(a) and 24 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).  GHR requested interim measures to prevent Canada from deporting her to Mexico while her communication was pending before the CEDAW Committee.

CEDAW. Case of Teixeira v. Brazil. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract


On August 10 2001, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) issued its landmark decision on the Communication No. 17/2008. The case was filed by the organization Advocaci – Advocacia Cidada pelos Direitos Humanos and the Center for Reproductive Rights against the state of Brazil on November 30th 2007. This is the first decision establishing states’  international responsibility on preventable maternal death case within the UN Human Rights System.

CEDAW. Case of V.K. v. Bulgaria. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The author of the complaint, VK, alleged that she had been a persistent victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, and petitioned the Bulgarian courts to issue a protection order against him. VK was issued an interim order, but at the full hearing, the court refused to make a permanent order in accordance with its interpretation of national law on the basis that no domestic violence had taken place in the month prior to the initial hearing. The ruling was upheld on appeal. VK specifically alleged that the State had neglected its positive obligation under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to protect her from domestic violence, and that it had not acted to ensure the necessary protection to avoid irreparable damage to her and her two children.