Law and Its Limits
Chapter 8 tracks the uses and shortfalls of law as a path to ending impunity, echoing the gap between public and private in architecture, access, and accountability. We will trace the evolution of legal standards for VAW in international law and tribunals on sexual violence, transitional justice in Guatemala, Croatia, and Libya, and national treatment of private abuse in India and the Philippines. This contrasts with the architecture challenges of legal pluralism incorporating multiple local codes in Lebanon, Argentina, Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as parallel status problems in emerging debates on marital rape in Malawi and the Mideast. Contests over state responsibility and pathways to accountability are highlighted in Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, and Kenya. Yet a range of barriers for access to justice persist in insecure and inequitable states, and are profiled in Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, and India—with some innovative response in the latter cases. We will affirm a rights-based reading of the power of law but refine a feminist critique of its limits by distinguishing the legal reform requisites for different genres of human rights abuse and different types of gender regimes.
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