The Istanbul Convention: a radical feminist instrument?

Guney, Gizem (2019) The Istanbul Convention: a radical feminist instrument? Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The feminist critique of international human rights law instruments for their incapacity to address domestic violence against women is well documented. This critique is grounded in the recognition that international human rights laws adopt a liberal construction of rights and fail to take account of the specific and private nature of harms against women. That said, international organisations have begun to hear this critique and a number of steps have been taken to address the problem across international and regional human rights law structures over the last three decades. One such development is the introduction of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women Including Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011.
This thesis offers a critical analysis of the Istanbul Convention and in particular its capacity to address acts of domestic violence against women. The thesis examines the achievements and failures of the Convention in tackling the issue of domestic violence and situates this analysis within a comparative framework, comparing the new Convention to other human rights tools and instruments used up until the adoption of this new text. The research is firmly grounded in feminist legal theory and methodology and critically evaluates the capacity and the effectiveness of what is an overtly gendered legal instrument to respond to the gendered harm of domestic violence against women.
While much research has been carried out into the application of various strands of feminism to legal problems, this thesis argues that ‘equality approaches’ implicit in different branches of feminist legal theory (i.e. liberal, cultural and postmodern) do not adequately explain or characterize the approach taken by the Istanbul Convention. Alternatively, the thesis applies the ‘dominance’ theory developed by radical feminist Catharine A. MacKinnon to the Convention and argues that a radical feminist approach offers the best way to challenge the liberal construction of rights which has hitherto been inherent in international human rights law. The thesis demonstrates, through analysis of both the form and substance of the Convention, that this instrument is capable of responding to the radical feminist critique of rights to an extent that has never been achieved before and that the Convention can be viewed as operationalizing a shift from a liberal to a radical feminist conceptualisation of domestic violence within the structure of human rights law.
Following the critique of international human rights law and the presentation of the Istanbul Convention in a radical feminist light, the thesis examines the particular case of one member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey, and its journey towards implementation of the Convention. Turkey is used as a case study in order to demonstrate the potential and the problems which can arise in the implementation of a radical feminist instrument such as the Istanbul Convention when the country has particular entrenched views of gender relations and the family. The thesis goes on to make recommendations for Turkey in its implementation of the Istanbul Convention in order to strengthen the dissemination of the radical feminist values inherent in the Convention and to promote a more substantive form of gender justice in the context of acts of domestic violence across Europe.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC501 Purpose, functions, and relations of the state > JC0571 State and the individual. Human rights. Civil rights
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 11:45
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2022 10:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88688

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