Violence against women: law and its limits

Alison Brysk


This article considers the power and limits of law to address violence against women in semi-liberal, rapidly modernizing, and highly unequal «BRICS and beyond» regimes. While rights optimists laud law’s power to establish norms and accountability, feminist critics decry inherent gender bias and inappropriate diffusion. To advance the debate, I argue that the balance will depend on specific features of law: architecture, access, and enforcement. The essay traces the influence of these barriers to gender justice in a series of cases, and suggests that mobilization to transform or supplement these features of law is the most constructive response.

Received: 25 July 2016
Accepted: 30 November 2016
Published online: 11 December 2017


law; violence against women; India; South Africa; Mexico; Philippines; access to justice; legal pluralism; impunity

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