Human Rights Should Begin at Home: An Argument for Classifying Domestic Violence as Torture Under the UNCAT

Human Rights Should Begin at Home: An Argument for Classifying Domestic Violence as Torture Under the UNCAT

By Co-Editor Varsha Vijayakumar As Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) comes to a close, it is imperative to consider the ways in which this pervasive form of intimate harm is consistently overlooked on a global scale. In paralleling domestic violence with torture— particularly by dissecting the four core components of Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)— practitioners can begin to uncover the biases inherent to the human rights system as it exists today. Domestic violence is a phenomenon that exists everywhere. It is not restricted to any race, region, class, language, or any other marker of identity-- many people across the globe share this experience.  While it is important to clarify that domestic violence is not only experienced by women, this form of harm is severely gendered and does skew heavily toward women as victims. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies violence against women as a public health...
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Sexual Violence in Ukraine

By Staff Writer Sydney Smith Content Warning: sexual violence On March 9, 2022, Russian soldier Mikhail Romanov barged into the home of a mother in the Kyiv region of Ukraine where brutally he took the life of her husband, forcibly undressed her, and gang raped her with a pistol to her head. The raping took place over three separate occasions while her child bore witness. This horrific story is just one account of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) that has been documented thus far in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A report from the OHCHR identifies 108 allegations of CRSV against women, girls, men and boys from February 24 to May 15, 2022 in eleven Ukrainian cities and in a detention facility in the Russian Federation. Although rape and gang rape are the highest reported allegations, at seventy-eight, CRSV takes on many forms and this report alone includes seven attempted rapes, fifteen forced public strippings, and eight other accounts of sexual torture, sexual...
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Legalized Masculinity, Human Rights and Male Rape in Bangladesh

By Guest Writer Arifur Rahman* The conception that a man needs to be virile, powerful, tough and impenetrable is dominant in a country like Bangladesh. Being a male rape victim, therefore, is considered a flagrant violation of the code of heterosexuality– such an individual no longer belongs to the sphere of masculinity. In effect, most male rape cases in Bangladesh remain under-reported. However, in recent years, the country has witnessed a notable spike in male rape cases. Data from a leading human rights organization reveal that, in the year 2021, a number of 31 male rape cases were reported. Recently, a madrasah teacher was arrested for the alleged rape of his 12 year old male student. Despite the presence of male rape in Bangladesh, the legal redress for male rape victims stands somewhat as a legal quandary and reflects the societal expectation of ideal masculinity. The Penal Code 1860, for instance, blatantly affirms hegemonic masculinity. The 100-year-old legal instrument bears a colonial...
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Australia can Advance Justice for People with Disabilities in Papua New Guinean Prisons

By Guest Contributor Rachel Sadoff* [John Sikowel, age 36] was brutalized, beaten and forced to walk although he is disabled. He had to crawl into his cell. […] He received some medication, but no proper medical treatment. He is locked in his cell most of the time. – Manfred Nowak, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture.   *** Globally, people with disabilities (PWDs) are “more likely to experience victimization, be arrested, be charged with a crime, and serve longer prison sentences once convicted, than those without disabilities,” reports the US National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability. This group includes people with intellectual and developmental conditions like Down Syndrome and blindness, as well as psychological ones like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), this structural violence is enabled by legal neglect, torpid reform, and a lack of enforcement of disability policies. As PNG’s largest source of aid and investment – constituting 80% of its foreign development assistance – Australia is uniquely...
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Rights in Conflict: Competing Claims for Housing and Property in Brazil

Rights in Conflict: Competing Claims for Housing and Property in Brazil

By Co-Editor Winston Ardoin Written during the period of redemocratization after the repressive military dictatorship, the 1988 Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil is among the most progressive in the world. After the preamble and a short list of foundational principles, Title II explicitly describes all the fundamental rights and guarantees granted to every citizen by the State. One of the longest and most detailed declarations of rights in any national constitution, the drafters’ progressive and inclusive goals created a difficult problem for the Brazilian state: the potential for conflicts of rights. Like the American court system, Brazilian courts must choose which right to uphold and defend when competing groups bring opposing claims citing different constitutional rights. In a deeply unequal country where political and legal structures remain controlled by the elite, the question often also becomes whose rights matter more: those of the powerful or those of the marginalized? One collision of rights , especially present in major cities such...
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Reimagining Governance: The Visionary Potential of Chile’s Rewritten Constitution

Reimagining Governance: The Visionary Potential of Chile’s Rewritten Constitution

By Co-Editor Varsha Vijayakumar. This coming Sunday, September 4, every Chilean citizen above the age of eighteen will vote to “approve” or “reject” a brand-new national constitution.  Chile’s existing constitution was established during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. On September 11, 1973, the military general led a U.S.-backed coup d’etat that ousted Salvador Allende, the first Marxist in the world to have been democratically-elected to power. Today, the histories and lives of the murdered and disappeared are intentionally documented by organizations such as the Museum of Memory & Human Rights in Chile’s capital city.*  A national plebiscite is nothing new in Chile. In fact, the formal end of Pinochet’s dictatorship was brought about by a 1988 referendum in which 56% of Chileans voted “no” on the question of extending his regime. Critics have long argued that the current constitution prioritizes the neoliberal economic model that was established under Pinochet’s rule and generally enshrines the stark inequalities of...
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All the World’s a Stage: Accessibility and Theatrical Spaces

All the World’s a Stage: Accessibility and Theatrical Spaces

By RightsViews Staff Writer Carina Goebelbecker   Theater is a heartbeat of community. Theaters are a microcosm of society, situating audience members within entrenched social and cultural dynamics, while allowing them to imagine and empathize with characters onstage. Despite 26% of adult Americans having some type of disability, theaters are traditionally not accessible to disabled people, an extension of the challenges disabled folks face when navigating their daily routines. If all the world’s a stage, it should be an accessible one.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most prominent pieces of legislation relating to disability. The ADA National Network defines disability as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” However, disability is more contextual. In the journal article “Disability Worlds,” theorists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp (2013) define disability as “created by the social and material conditions that ‘dis-able’ the full participation of a variety of minds and bodies...the result of negative...
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ECHR and Brexit: Putting the British Human Rights Law into Contex

ECHR and Brexit: Putting the British Human Rights Law into Contex

By  RightsViews Staff Writer Lindsey Alpaugh    On December 13th, Dominic Raab outlined a “sweeping overhaul” of the current Human Rights Act in the United Kingdom. Raab, who serves as Deputy Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Justice, and Lord Chancellor, said that “the reforms will strengthen “typically British rights” and add a “healthy dose of common sense” to the interpretation of legislation and rulings.” It was revealed earlier this year that Raab, said, “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights,” in a previously unreleased tape from 2009. The original piece of legislation was introduced in 1998, and permitted the European Convention on Human Rights to be implemented as domestic legislation. The legislation entails provisions including “basic rights to a fair trial, life and freedom from ill treatment - and protections against discrimination or unfair interference in private and family life.” The United Kingdom was the first signatory to that convention. Additionally, the United...
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Rwanda’s National Security Approach to COVID-19

Rwanda’s National Security Approach to COVID-19

By guest contributor & HRSMA alumnus Dr. Laine Munir   The Rwandan capital's military compound of Camp Kigali, once the site of tragic violence during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, is now a site for saving lives during the omicron variant of COVID-19. It is Rwanda's leading vaccination site that undergirds the country's impressive success in managing the pandemic. There have been fewer than 1,400 COVID deaths in the second most population-dense country in Africa. Daily infections continue to decrease, thanks mainly to Rwanda's swift response to social distancing measures and its capacity to build on its foundational pre-pandemic vaccination programs (WHO 2021). Over 30% of the total population has been vaccinated to date, more than twice the continent's rate as a whole, and booster shots are currently available (Kyobutungi 2021). These are not only remarkable public health outcomes but also a statement on national security. The Rwandan National Police and the national army, the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF), have a ubiquitous...
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When Football Fails Human Rights

When Football Fails Human Rights

By Dallin Durtschi, staff writer Sports teams are sometimes owned by well-known public figures. The Dallas Mavericks are owned by Mark Cuban, Will Ferrell owns part of Los Angeles FC, and last month, the man responsible for ordering the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi also purchased the majority share of Newcastle United, an English Premier League football club. This new owner is none other than Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In October, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose chairman is the Saudi Crown Prince, was granted permission by the English Premier League to purchase Newcastle United. Amnesty International has outcried and rejected the Saudi purchase pointing towards the massive human rights implications.  Saudi Human Rights Abuses Lack of Freedom of Speech The Saudi State carried out the infamous murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which is a demonstration of their commitment to rejecting freedom of speech and crushing criticism of the state. Women’s Rights Abuses Their women's rights abuses are systematic and heinous. Women are not...
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