International Law Protecting Women from Domestic Abuse: Is it a Fallacy?

Authors Ruth Aura-Odhiambo

ISSN: 2521-2613
Affiliations: None
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2014, Issue 1, p. 94 – 118


Domestic violence has been recognised as a violation of human rights under international law. It is a form of discrimination against women and a violation of their substantive rights including the right to life, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to be free from torture and the right to health. However, at the national level, it is sanctioned by customs and traditions and perceived as a private issue that does not warrant external intervention. The false impression that domestic violence is purely a private or personal issue is in part due to the failure of most countries to effectively address the quandary of violence against women. Consequently, the national legal infrastructure, designed to distinguish between public and private law, does not assist domestically abused women. The failure of the national legal framework to address domestic violence has invited the application of international law as an option for victims of domestic abuse. The inadequacy has further fuelled international, regional, national and local campaigns, orchestrated by feminists, to promote the use of international law standards and principles to guide the protection of women from domestic violence at the domestic level. This article investigates the efficacy or otherwise of employing standards and principles of international law at the national level as an effective response mechanism of addressing domestic violence. The article argues that although international law provides domestic violence victims with an opportunity to have their issues addressed on a higher pedestal, its effective application is still a mirage in Kenya.