This module is a resource for lecturers
Several case studies are provided to illustrate the different aspects of the topic. These can be used as handouts or included in the relevant sections of the lecture. Case studies are necessarily geographically specific. Regionally or locally relevant case studies can be constructed by viewing materials available from regional and local crime prevention entities.
Case study 1
S.A., a 17-year-old girl, is arrested on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. In a police station, during her interrogation, a policeman beats and rapes her. Police rules say that detainees must be treated humanely. When the case was investigated, the policeman said that she agreed to have sex with him. Is the State responsible?
YES: The State has violated the human rights of S.A. The policeman was exercising a public State function in arresting her and detaining her. As a State agent, he used violence in the interrogation - beatings and rape.
The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that rape is a form of torture, in the case of Aydin v Turkey in 1997.
Case study 2
F is married to G. G uses violence against F for several years, with beatings becoming increasingly serious.
On Day 1, F decides to leave G and seek a divorce, and she informs him of this, and moves out of the shared home. G threatens to kill F. She seeks the assistance of X, a feminist civil society organization.
On Day 2, F reports these threats to kill to the police. The police give her a protection order, which requires G to stay away from F.
On Day 3, G follows F to her new home and threatens to kill her again. She reports these threats to the police. The police inform the public prosecutor of these threats and ask for G to be detained for breaching the protection order. The public prosecutor refuses to do this, as he considers that this would be disproportionate.
On Day 4, G threatens to kill F again, she calls the police again, the police speak to G on the phone and tell him to keep away from F. But they do not pass this information on to the public prosecutor.
On Day 5, G threatens F again. X, the civil society organization that is helping F, sends a written communication to the police and the public prosecutor explaining that the threats are continuing. They receive no response.
On Day 6, F starts the process for a divorce, at the same time, she obtains another protection order.
On Day 7, G follows F to her place of work, and kills her. Subsequently he is prosecuted and convicted for murder, and imprisoned for 20 years.
Discussion based on the case study
Who is responsible for the death of F?
Issues that the lecturer may find useful to consider in this discussion:
- Is it enough that G was convicted of murder?
- Did the State do enough in providing protection orders? Whose fault was it that the orders weren't enforced?
- Do reporting times - the length of time it takes to contact the police, to get protection orders, to ensure that the police take action on a case - make a difference to responsibility?
In a case with similar facts, the CEDAW Committee said that even though the husband G perpetrated the murder, the State was responsible for the violation of F's right to life because it failed to ensure F's safety in a situation where her life was known to be at serious risk. These comments from the CEDAW Committee could be printed and circulated as a hand-out.
12.1.2 The Committee notes that the State party has established a comprehensive model to address domestic violence that includes legislation, criminal and civil-law remedies, awareness raising, education and training, shelters, counselling for victims of violence and work with perpetrators. However, in order for the individual woman victim of domestic violence to enjoy the practical realization of the principle of equality of men and women and of her human rights and fundamental freedoms, the political will that is expressed in the aforementioned comprehensive system of Austria must be supported by State actors, which adhere to the State party's due diligence obligations.
12.1.3 In the instant case, the Committee notes the undisputed sequence of events leading to the fatal stabbing of Fatma Yildirim, in particular that Irfan Yildirim made continuous efforts to contact her and threatened by phone and in person to kill her, despite an interim injunction prohibiting him from returning to the couple's apartment, the immediate surroundings and her workplace as well as from contacting her, and regular police interventions. The Committee also notes that Fatma Yildirim made positive and determined efforts to attempt to sever ties with her spouse and save her own life - by moving out of the apartment with her minor daughter, establishing ongoing contact with the police, seeking an injunction and giving her authorization for the prosecution of Irfan Yildirim.
12.1.4 The Committee considers that the facts disclose a situation that was extremely dangerous to Fatma Yildirim of which the Austrian authorities knew or should have known, and as such the Public Prosecutor should not have denied the requests of the Police to arrest Irfan Yildirim and place him in detention. The Committee notes in this connection that Irfan Yildirim had a lot to lose should his marriage end in divorce (i.e. his residence permit in Austria was dependent on his staying married) and that this fact had the potential to influence how dangerous he would become.
12.1.5 The Committee considers the failure to have detained Irfan Yildirim as having been in breach of the State party's due diligence obligation to protect Fatma Yildirim. Although, the State party maintains that, at that time - an arrest warrant seemed disproportionately invasive, the Committee is of the view, as expressed in its views on another communication on domestic violence that the perpetrator's rights cannot supersede women's human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity.
12.1.6 While noting that that Irfan Yildirim was prosecuted to the full extent of the law for killing Fatma Yildirim, the Committee still concludes that the State party violated its obligations under article 2 (a) and (c) through (f), and article 3 of the Convention read in conjunction with article 1 of the Convention and general recommendation 19 of the Committee and the corresponding rights of the deceased Fatma Yildirim to life and to physical and mental integrity.
12.2 The Committee notes that the authors also made claims that articles 1 and 5 of the Convention were violated by the State party. The Committee has stated in its general recommendation 19 that the definition of discrimination in article 1 of the Convention includes gender-based violence.
(excerpt from Yildirim v Austria. Communication No. 6/2005)
Case study 3
Women's Aid, the civil society organization which assists women survivors of violence in the United Kingdom, presents the stories of three women - Sarah, Katrina and Yasmin - who received divergent responses to their report of gender-based violence.
In Katrina's and Yasmin's case, they did not receive appropriate services, so the domestic violence continued, became more serious, and had more impact on all aspects of their lives - their physical and mental health, their housing, the well-being of their children.
By contrast, Sarah was able to access appropriate services, which assisted with the facilitation of her safety and well-being.
The graphs show two kinds of costs - personal costs to victims in terms of pain, suffering and hardship, and financial costs to the authorities of dealing with the effects of domestic violence, such as mental health problems of victims and their children, increased costs due to homelessness and the need to re-house victims, costs of child protection and social services. It also shows the relative financial costs of intervening, and failing to intervene, with appropriate services which are designed to deal with the realities of domestic violence and its effects on victims. These graphs show that with the right support, the costs to the public purse in terms of health services, child protection, housing, policing and justice are radically cut ( Women's Aid, n.d.).
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