Domestic violence and housing rights

A reinterpretation of the right to housing

by Giulia Paglione

This LL M thesis examines the connections between violence against women, and especially domestic violence, and the right to housing. Domestic violence has often been analysed through a civil and political rights-framework, but its link to the right to property and housing has been long disregarded. This thesis suggests that the human right to adequate housing, as codified in all major human rights treaties, should be read as including a provision that protects from violence within the domestic sphere. Consequently, domestic violence represents not only a breach of women’s civil and political rights, but also of their right to adequate housing. 

After an analysis of the reasons and advantages for adopting an international “human rights approach” to domestic violence (chapter one), the thesis moves on to investigating the standards defining the right to adequate housing through the lens of domestic violence. Chapter two will expose how until now the interpretation and application of housing rights standards has been extremely narrow, excluding women’s perception of such rights. The thesis will finally portray domestic violence itself as a manifest violation of the right to housing, intended as the right to live in security, peace and dignity, and show how this reality is regrettably not reflected in international standards protecting women from domestic abuses. Therefore, in chapter three, I will recommend the adoption of more progressive human rights instruments on violence against women which should include the protection of the home as a fundamental right.