Conceptualising Domestic Violence within the Scope of United Nations Convention Against Torture

AuthorNeha Singhal
Published date01 August 2015
Date01 August 2015
Subject MatterArticle
Neha Singhal
This article makes an argument for considering dom estic violence as
torture. Describing and analysing the har m and suffering inflicted
on a victim of domestic violence by the abuser, the article argues
that all the elements of torture, as defined by th e United Nations
Convention Against Torture are satisfied. It argues that recognising
domestic violence as torture puts an obligation on State Parties to
take certain steps, which would lead to ef fective remedies being
available to prevent, stop, and punish acts of domestic violence.
This will lead to both the domestic and intern ational communit y
effectively responding to complaints of domestic violence, rather
than ignoring them. The article f urther argues that labelling is as
an exercise of political power and control, which will breach the
public-private divide tha t domestic violence victims of ten face.
I. Introduction: What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is violence that occurs within the private sphere,
usually between individuals who are related through intimacy, blood or
law.1 As defi ned by UNICEF, domestic violence may b e manifested through
physical abuse, such as slapping, beating, threats with an object or weapon,
etc; sexual abuse, such as coerced sex through threats, intimidation or physical
force, etc; psychological abuse, which includes threats of abandonment or
abuse, confinement to the home, surveillance, threats to take away custody
of the children, verbal aggression and humiliation; economic abuse, such as
the denial of funds, refusal to contribute fi nancially, etc. or a combination
* Research Associate, National Law University, Delhi.
1 ‘Report of the Special Rapport eur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and
Consequences UN Economic and Social Counc il (1996) UN Doc E/CN.4/1996/53.
2 ‘Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls’ UNICEF Innoc enti Digest No 6 (June

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