Political Science Now

Theme Panel: Global Diversities of Responses to Gender-Based Violence

Global Diversities of Responses to Gender-Based Violence

Sat, September 5, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hilton, Continental Parlor 2
Session Description

Gender-based violence has been recognized internationally as a human rights issue, an obstacle to women’s equality, and an obstacle to women’s political participation. There is variation in responses to gender-based violence across the globe. We investigate this problem in comparative perspective by explaining how states have (or have not) successfully implemented legal norms on gender-based violence. We address the conference theme of “diversities reconsidered” in part by taking a cross-regional approach to this issue. We draw on cases from Latin America, Africa, and the United States. We also investigate traditional state actors (such as politicians) as well as investigating the roles of street-level bureaucrats and women’s advocates working within and outside the state. We also examine several aspects of gender-based violence that have received less attention in the literature: including a diversity of contexts of violence (such as obstetric violence and violence within social movements), actors (such as the police) and institutional changes (such as policy reversals).

Investigating Africa, Britton and Medie advance the explanation of variation in the implementation of gender-based violence policies. Britton examines the current context of anti-GBV policies and programs in South Africa, a country known for extremely high levels of GBV, both during apartheid and now twenty years into democracy. Britton’s paper examines one key sector of street-level bureaucrats, the South African Police Services, to ascertain what makes certain police units implement anti-GBV programs and policies and others not. Medie’s paper examines the failure to enforce GBV legislation in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, both post-conflict countries with remarkably high levels of GBV. Medie’s examination of the barriers to enforcement also then contrasts these with instances of successful victim identification, reporting, and prosecutions. Her study then highlights and demarcates a possible path to increase GBV response among state actors.