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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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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