Reproductive Freedom, Torture and International Human Rights: Challenging the Masculinisation of Torture

Presenter/s: Dr Ronli Sifris; Professor Kim Rubenstein

Event type: Seminar

Event date: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Event series: 2014 Public Lecture Series - Feminist Theory Now

Event venue: Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law, Building 5, Fellows Rd, ANU

Gender Institute 2014 Public Lecture Series Feminist Theory Now

Co-Presented with the Centre for International and Public Law

PODCAST now available via this link

This event will be presented as a seminar in which Professor Kim Rubenstein, Director of the Centre for International and Public Law in the ANU College of Law, will be 'in conversation' with Dr Ronli Sifris about her new book, Reproductive Freedom, Torture and International Human Rights: Challenging the Masculinisation of Torture, raising a range of issues about the gendered aspects of torture and international law.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite

Light refreshments will be provided

Dr Ronli Sifris is a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University and an Associate of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. She received her LLB from Monash University where she was awarded the Supreme Court Prize for graduating first in her class and was the editor of the Monash University Law Review. Ronli has published numerous articles and book chapters and has presented her work at various events and conferences.

Kim Rubenstein is Professor and Director of the Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL) in the ANU College of Law; Australian National University. Kim's current research projects are at the cutting edge of the intersection between public and international law. She is the co-series editor of the Cambridge University Press series Connecting International with Public law. Her public law work spans constitutional and administrative law; and also includes her expertise in citizenship law.

The publication around which this seminar will focus, Reproductive Freedom, Torture and International Human Rights: Challenging the Masculinisation of Torture, is part of the Routledge Research in Human Rights Law series. The book contributes to a feminist understanding of international human rights by examining restrictions on reproductive freedom through the lens of the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Ronli Sifris challenges the view that torture only takes place within the traditional paradigm of interrogation, punishment or intimidation of a detainee, arguing that this traditional construction of the concept of torture prioritises the experiences of men over the experiences of women given that the pain and suffering from which women disproportionately suffer frequently occurs outside of this context. She does this by conceptualising restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom within the framework of the right to be free from torture.

The book considers the gendered nature of international law and the gender dimensions of the right to be free from torture. It examines the extension of the prohibition of torture to encompass situations beyond the traditional detainee context in recent years to encompass situations such as rape and female genital mutilation. It goes on to explore in detail whether denying access to abortion and involuntary sterilization constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international law. The book looks at whether limitations on reproductive freedom meet the determining criteria of torture which are: severe pain or suffering; being intentionally inflicted; being based on discrimination; linked in some way to a State official; whether they constitute lawful sanctions; and the importance of the concept of powerlessness. In doing so the book also highlights how this right may be applicable to other gender-based abuses including female genital mutilation, and how this right may be universally applied to allow women worldwide the right to reproductive freedom.

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