Gender-based violence and gender stereotyping in international law

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

As Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, suggests, women who are empowered “understand that they are not destined to subordination and violence; they resist oppression; and they develop their capabilities as autonomous beings and they increasingly question the terms of their existence in both public and private spheres.” By altering stereotypes and empowering women, GBV could be prevented from occurring in the first place, and discrimination and inequality could be mitigated or, hopefully, eradicated. Women’s human rights, and women in general, have been consistently marginalized in international and regional binding documents. This, in many ways, is a product of the stereotype that women are less important than men, and that their rights should therefore be accorded less significance – a twisted logic that only leads to women being further marginalized. The hypothesis of this dissertation is that in order to eradicate GBV in times of so-called peace, it is essential that discriminatory stereotypes of women be altered. This dissertation will examine stereotyping as an underlying cause of GBV, and whether the international and regional normative frameworks provide sufficient protections for women in regards to GBV. There will also be discussion about whether or not States comply with the obligations that do exist, and how States have (or have not) altered the behaviours and attitudes which characterize a stereotyped view of gender roles.

Includes bibliographical references.