Right to Life

What it means

  • African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Article 4): Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.
  • American Convention on Human Rights (Article 4.1): Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
  • European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Article 2): Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
  • ASEAN Human Rights Declaration: Every person has an inherent right to life which shall be protected by law. No person shall be deprived of life save in accordance with law.
  • Arab Charter on Human Rights (Article 5): Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

How it relates to violence against women

Gender-based killing of women and girls is one of the most extreme forms VAW can take. It is not simply a violation of a woman’s right to life, but a violation of the right committed with discriminatory intentions. This is different than random acts of violence, because it means women were killed because they are women. ‘Femicide’ is a term often associated with this type of human rights violation. Sometimes these violations will occur with explicit discriminatory intent, while others can result from discriminatory institutions and norms that devalue women within their community. Either way, the state has an obligation to eliminate femicide and the discrimination that drives it.

Examples of VAW that violate this right include:

  • Dowry deaths
  • Rape-murder
  • Crimes committed in the name of so-called ‘honour’
  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence

Click on the cases to the right (or, for mobile users, at the bottom of this page) to learn more about the right to life and violence against women.