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67 Alb. L. Rev. 371 (2003-2004)
Reconceptualizing Domestic Violence in International Law

handle is hein.journals/albany67 and id is 385 raw text is: RECONCEPTUALIZING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN
INTERNATIONAL LAW
Bonita C. Meyersfeld*
INTRODUCTION
And yet I fear you, for you're fatal then
When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know not,
Since guiltiness I know not, but yet I feel I fear.'
This is the fact. Every day, throughout the world, women are
subjected to extreme acts of physical violence, which take place
within the beguiling safety of domesticity. The violence is severe,
painful, humiliating, and debilitating. And it is common. It is a
phenomenon that stretches across borders, nationalities, cultures,
and race. A binding characteristic of communities throughout the
world, almost without exception, is the battering of women by men.2
* Bonita Cecile Meyersfeld, B.A., Stell; L.L.B., Wits; L.L.M. Yale Law School; J.S.D.
Candidate, Yale Law School. The author would like to thank Friedrich Wenzel Bulst for his
extensive comments on previous drafts and Jill Van Bortel of the Albany Law Review for her
editing. The author would also like to thank Professor Harold Hongju Koh for inspiring
discussions that formed the basis of this article and Professor W. Michael Reisman for his
guidance and review of this article.
' Desdemona expresses her fear of Othello's rage. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, OTHELLO act 5,
sc. 2 (Norman Sanders ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 1984).
2 The battery of women by male intimates has been documented literally throughout the
world. Although reported statistics differ, some reports maintain that within a twelve month
period as many as 50% of women around the world report being hit by their intimate
partners. See CTR. FOR HEALTH AND GENDER EQUITY, POPULATION REPORTS, ENDING
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 4 tbl.1 (1999), http://www.infoforhealth.org/prIll/violence.pdf
(last visited Nov. 11, 2003) [hereinafter ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN]. A United
Nations international survey estimates that in each country, twenty to fifty percent of women
suffer domestic violence. See UNICEF, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS, 1
(United Nations Children's Fund Innocenti Research Ctr., Innocenti Digest No. 6, 2000),
http://www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/pdf/digest6e.pdf  (last  visited  Nov.  11, 2003)
[hereinafter UNICEF, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS]. See, e.g., FAMILY
VIOLENCE PREVENTION FUND, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A SERIOUS, WIDESPREAD SOCIAL
PROBLEM IN AMERICA: THE FACTS, at http://endabuse.org/resources/facts (last visited Nov. 11,
2003):
Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or

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