Migrant women, coercive control and intimate partner violence: Access to remedies in Ireland and Spain

Villena Rodó, Judit
The concept of coercive control has been increasingly used in law reform and policy making in Europe since 2015 as part of states’ actions against domestic violence and has been justified as an advancement of women’s rights. The expansion of criminalisation has generated academic debate around the limits and possibilities offered by criminal law in context with little attention placed on its ramifications in migrant communities. Focusing on the particular context of victims/survivors of coercive control with precarious migration statuses, this thesis analyses the role of criminalisation in facilitating or precluding access to effective remedies. By exploring the interplay between coercive control and precarious migration statuses, this research bridges the tension between the dual role of the law. On the one hand, its role as a tool of protection against intimate partner violence, and on the other hand, as a means of exclusion limiting migrant women’s access to remedies. Against this background, this thesis engages with the state-persecutor model fuelled by the conceptualisation of remedies under international and regional human rights law, in which criminalisation is the central component. It particularly focuses on an analysis of the 2014 Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), which provides the most comprehensive obligations in this area. The Convention recommends states criminalise psychological violence under Article 33 and enshrines states’ most detailed obligations to date that address the barriers to remedies posed by precarious migration statuses under Article 59. Two case studies, Ireland and Spain, present the relevant state obligations as implemented in domestic law and policy concerning protection against domestic violence in precarious migration contexts. The case studies help theorise the role of the law and its implementation in remedying migration status-facilitated coercive control. This thesis concludes that the narrow emphasis on penality prevents human rights law from disrupting structural systems of power, such as immigration control, that preclude women’s access to remedies. The current human rights framework not only leaves barriers to remedies largely untouched but facilitates a hierarchy of deservingness between victims/survivors according to their migration statuses. To realise the untapped transformative potential of human rights, this thesis advances a reconceptualisation of remedies capable of disrupting the intersectional discrimination posed by immigration laws and policies.
NUI Galway
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland