Can international law protect half of humanity? A new strategy to stop violence against women

Riane Eisler (President, Center for Partnership Studies, Pacific Grove, California, USA)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Publication date: 13 April 2015



The Rome Statute, especially Article 7 on Crimes against Humanity, and the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) apply to widespread violations of human rights that a State fails to prohibit or protect against. Yet far too little attention has been paid to systemic crimes that take the lives of many millions of women and girls every year. The purpose of this paper is to detail a proposal to use international law to hold governments and/or their agents accountable when they fail to protect the female half of humanity from widespread and egregious crimes of violence.


To accelerate the movement to make women's human rights a global priority, it examines: first, expanding the interpretation of the Rome statute, particularly Article 7 – Crimes against Humanity. Second, where necessary, amending the statute to include gender in addition to race and ethnicity.


Seven crimes and their personal, social, and economic consequences are analyzed, and legal remedies are detailed: selective female infanticide and denial to girl children of food and health care; the sex trade and sexual slavery; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); domestic violence (from murder in the name of honor and bride burning to acid throwing and battery); rape; child marriage and forced marriage.


This paper explores a new approach for use by scholars, attorneys, and human rights activists to end the global pandemic of violence against the female half of humanity by invoking the Rome Statute and/or amending it to protect women and girls. It provides a new legal and sociological analysis.



Riane Eisler (2015) "Can international law protect half of humanity? A new strategy to stop violence against women", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 88-100

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