Fighting Violence Against Women: Laws, Norms & Challenges Ahead

Academic article
Written by

Francesca R. Jensenius

Research Professor (part time)


In the 1990s and 2000s, pressure from feminist movements and allies succeeded in pushing scores of states to reform their laws to prevent and punish violence against women (VAW). Even in states with progressive legislation, however, activists face challenges to induce citizens to comply with the law, compel state authorities to enforce the law, and ensure the adequate allocation of resources for social support services. In this essay, we take stock of legislative developments related to VAW around the world, with a focus on the variation in approaches toward intimate partner violence and sexual harassment. We analyze efforts to align behavior with progressive legislation, and end with a discussion of the balance activists must strike between fighting VAW aggressively with the carceral and social support dimensions of state power, while exercising some restraint to avoid the potentially counterproductive effects of state action.

  • Published year: 2020
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  • DOI:
  • Page count: 16
  • Language: English
  • Volume: 149
  • Journal: Daedalus
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