The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand,
and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that
violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state)
health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence
against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human
rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence
against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of
the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the
horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’
dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional
and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept
of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence
against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on
the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised
in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an
innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due
diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment).
The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the
ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
29 See Re DD (No 4) (Sterilisation)  EWCOP 4,  per Cobb J: ‘This case is not about eugenics. This outcome has been driven by the bleak yet undisputed evidence that a further pregnancy would be a significantly life-threatening event for DD’. And see .
30 To do so may breach Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR: see VC v Slovakia (2014) 59 EHRR 29 on forced sterilisation of a Roma woman.
31 The Mental Capacity Act 2005 applies largely to persons of age 16 and over who lack capacity (see s 2(5)). For those aged under 16 who lack competence
‘Case history’ on violence against women, and against women’s rights to
health and to reproductive health
Sara De Vido
the United States, for example).414 Eugenics purported to ‘improv[e] the human
gene pool by eliminating genes deemed undesirable.’415 In 1922, nineteen US
states had in force eugenic sterilisation laws which targeted ‘confirmed criminals,’ the ‘feeble-minded,’ and also ‘idiots,’ ‘imbeciles,’ ‘hereditary insanity or
incurable chronic mania or dementia,’ ‘epileptics’ and those addicted to drugs
or alcohol.416 In 1948 Japan adopted a Eugenic Protection Law, which forced
sterilisation and abortion on people with intellectual and mental illness and severe
, Jeanette was sexually mature. The Law Lords held that the legality of the proposal to sterilise Jeanette must depend only on whether sterilisation would ‘promote the welfare and serve the best interests of the ward’. 122 Consideration of eugenics and whether sterilising Jeanette would ease the burden on those caring for her were irrelevant. 123 Their Lordships concluded that as Jeanette: (1) would never be capable of making any choice for herself on whether to have a child; (2) would never even appreciate what was happening to her; and (3) would suffer damage to her