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25 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 291 (1993-1994)
Recognizing the Egregious in the Everyday: Domestic Violence as Torture

handle is hein.journals/colhr25 and id is 297 raw text is: RECOGNIZING THE EGREGIOUS
by Rhonda Copelon*
Copyright © 1994 by Rhonda Copelon. All Rights Reserved.
[T]he public and the private worlds are inseparably connected
... the tyrannies and servilities of the one are the tyrannies
and servilities of the other. *
To punish disobedience and discipline liberty, family tradition
perpetuates a culture of terror that humiliates women,
teaches children to lie, and spreads the plague of fear.
Human rights should begin at home .... ***
*   Professor of Law and Director, International Women's Human Rights Clinic,
CUNY School of Law at Queens College. This article is part of a joint project towards a
feminist reconceptualization of human rights undertaken with Celina Romany, whose
article, Women as Aliens: A Feminist Critique of the Public/Private Distinction in
International Human Rights Law, 6 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 87 (1993), must be read with this
one. A shortened version of this article appears as Intimate Terror: Understanding
Domestic Violence as Torture, in The Human Rights of Women: National and
International Perspectives (Rebecca J. Cook ed., forthcoming 1994). I want to thank
Bernice Cohn, Dorothy Matthew and Maureen McCafferty of CUNY School of Law for
their work on this manuscript; CUNY students Laurie Beck, Marissa Steffers and
Harlene Katzman for their research and insights; and Alda Facio, Rebecca Cook, Joan
Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Lipson, Rosalind Petchesky and Donna Sullivan for their
encouragement and comments on drafts. I am also grateful to the Ford Foundation, the
Committee for the International Exchange of Scholars, the Programa de Mujeres of the
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica and the Program Mujer y
Justicia of the United Nations Latin American Institute on the Prevention of Crime and
the Treatment of Delinquency, also in Costa Rica, for their generous support of this
project. Finally, I appreciate the people who shared their experiences and/or reflections
on official violence: Amparo Claro, Dolly Filartiga, Joel Filartiga, Marissa Matamala,
Gabriella Rodriquez, Jacobo Timerman and Maria Suarez, who also helped me to live in
Costa Rica and begin to understand a different history and culture.
This is dedicated to Ana Margarita Gasteozoro, a courageous and beloved
woman in whom life burned brightly yet briefly, who encouraged this work and deepened
my awareness of the realities of and connections between different forms of torture as
she braved the excruciating pain, debilitation and terror of metastasized breast cancer
in her bones, itself a probable result of her earlier torture in El Salvador as well as the
gross indifference of doctors to the bodies of women.
**   Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas 142 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1966) (1938).
***~ Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces: Images and Text 143 (1989).

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