The Department of domestic violence defines domestic violence as a concoction of behavior that is abusive used by one partner in any relationship aimed at gaining or maintaining control over another intimate partner. It comes in many forms which include physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse. This heinous act mainly affects women and children. Women throughout the world are subjected to life-threatening acts of physical violence every day (McQuigg, 2011).
Domestic violence is a crime that stretches across borders, cultures, nationalities and race. The most prevalent form is battering of women by men. Violence against women treated as a human rights violation is an emergent principle in International human rights law. This fledgling jurisprudence manifests two specific forms of gender-based violence- mass rape as a crime against humanity or war crime and female genital mutilation as a human rights violation (Meyersfeld, 2010). This paper seeks to interrogate why domestic violence ought to be treated as an international crime.
National governments all over the world have rendered themselves to the enactment of legislation to address this rampant social vice. However, the implementation of such legislation has faced and continues to face numerous bottlenecks ranging from male chauvinist cultures to the intimate nature of this crime. Honor killing that involves murdering of women in the name of family honor, for example, is a ritual performed each year especially in the Middle East. This practice was condoned under the rule of fundamentalist Taliban government. Moreover, the fact that the murders are conducted by teenage brothers of the victims makes it even more difficult to prosecute the perpetrators because they are minors. There is need therefore to treat domestic violence as an international crime to counter such tailbacks as presented above.
There exists a strong correlation between conflict and rape. During war, children and women are highly susceptible to rape, forced pregnancy, sexual exploitation and trafficking. In fact, rape is used a war tactic intended to destroy women, as well as their families. In 1994, for example, the genocide in Rwanda saw thousands of women and children raped. A similar case has been reported in Darfur. The perpetrators of this injustice have to this day not been brought to book. This underscores the importance of treating domestic violence as an international crime which would see justice served to the victims (Schneider & Dalton, 2008).
Legislative gender discrimination is yet another eminent form of domestic violence. In Iran, for example, many laws that discriminate against women have been enacted over the years. These laws deprive the women of equal rights to child custody, divorce and equal pay. A case of the arrest of Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American student at California State University/Northridge is an example of how women rights activists are treated. They are arrested and charged with "endangering state security" as "agents of Western powers". The state laws coupled with systemic failure by prosecutors necessitates the redefinition of domestic violence as an international crime (Meyersfeld, 2010).
In conclusion, due to the financial, social and political disparities between men and women, the latter mainly occupy the private jurisdiction where violence is apparently more ordinary than other crimes and less obnoxious. Legal infrastructure designed to discriminate between private and public law, are as a result, inept to assist the victims of domestic violence. There is there an urgent need, therefore, to conceptualize domestic violence as a crime in international law to elicit a refashioning of the legal reaction both internationally and nationally.
McQuigg, R. J. A. (2011). International human rights law and domestic violence: The effectiveness of international human rights law. Abingdon, Oxon, England: Routledge.
Meyersfeld, B. (2010). Domestic violence and international law. Oxford: Hart.
Schneider, E. M., & Dalton, C. (2008). Domestic violence and the law: Theory and practice. New York: Foundation Press.