New book by Glendon Professor Clara Chapdelaine-Feliciati examines topic of feminicide

York University Professor Clara Chapdelaine-Feliciati has authored the new book Feminicides of Girl Children in the Family Context: An International Human Rights Law Approach (Brill), in which she examines the issue of feminicide, more specifically female infanticide, and the extent to which it is addressed under international law.

Clara Chapdelaine-Feliciati

Chapdelaine-Feliciati is a lawyer and an assistant professor at the Glendon Campus, in the International Studies Department, where she teaches international law courses in English and French.

In Feminicides of Girl Children in the Family Context, Chapdelaine-Feliciati explores the origins of son preference and ‘daughter devaluation,’ and the myriad factors that underpin female infanticide. Legal semiotics is employed to analyze legislation and case law, and assess whether the provisions of international treaties sufficiently protect girl children.

The book focuses on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the main international treaty protecting the right to life. Where relevant, comparisons between the content of the ICCPR and other human rights treaties are offered, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which protect women’s and children’s rights respectively. The book also explores the travaux préparatoires of the ICCPR to discuss the meaning-intention of the drafters when selecting the terminology to formulate rights.

“The key problem is that many provisions are phrased in very broad terms, and fail to address several factors that constitute obstacles to the protection of girl children,” said Chapdelaine-Feliciati.

In this context, the book adopts a ‘semioethic approach’ by identifying weaknesses in the international legal framework, and proposing amendments to the formulation of rights in the ICCPR. The goal is to clarify States parties’ duty of due diligence and ensure that the crime of female infanticide is effectively prohibited, investigated and prosecuted.  

“Law reform alone cannot tackle the problem, but it is an essential measure. The prohibition of female infanticide in key international treaties serves the purpose of not only placing a legal obligation on States parties to prohibit and severely punish this practice, and investigate the deaths of infant girls, but it also has a symbolic raison d’être, as it universally recognizes the value of girl children,” said Chapdelaine-Feliciati.

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