chapter  2
Exploring the Consequences of the Normative Gap in Legal Protections Addressing Violence Against Women
ByDavid L. Richards, Jillienne Haglund
Pages 33

Are the rights of women and girls against violence secure in the hands of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’s (CEDAW) General Recommendation 19 and three regional treaties? Or, does a normative gap between rhetorical commitments made to women and girls on one hand, and the extant binding international law protecting them on the other, require a standalone, international treaty on violence against women and girls? Currently, there is some debate about these questions. This chapter adds a voice to the discussion by providing an empirical examination of the consequences of the normative gap in international law addressing violence against women and girls. In the first section, we provide some background on the concept of normative gaps in international law, address why the normative gap relating to gender violence is of particular concern, argue that the consequences of normative gaps in domestic laws addressing women and girls provide a reasonable proxy for the international gap, and provide some examples of normative gaps in domestic laws. In the second section, we use data about 173 countries during 2007-2014 to demonstrate consequences of normative gaps in domestic laws from which reliable generalizations may be drawn. We find reliable evidence implying that the domestic normative gap is complicit in higher levels of domestic violence, higher rape prevalence, higher female HIV rates, lower human development, and higher acceptance of violence against women and girls. From this, we suggest that women and girls would be bestserved by an explicit treaty addressing gender violence rather than the current framework resting on CEDAW General Recommendation 19 and regional treaties, alone.