Defining gender violence as a violation of human rights is a relatively new approach to the problem. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the global feminist social movement worked to introduce this idea to the human rights community and by the early years of the 21st century, succeeded in establishing the right to protection from gender violence as a core dimension of women's human rights. This is another example of the process described in Chapter 2, in which a social movement defines a problem and generates support from legal institutions and states. After describing how gender violence became a human rights violation articulated in formal documents of international law, this chapter discusses one of the most important new issues in the gender violence and human rights field, that of the trafficking of sex workers. .
In the early 1990s, a transnational movement coalesced around the idea that violence against women was a human rights violation. It built on the work of activists around the world who set up shelters, counseling centers, and batterer treatment programs, often borrowing from each other and adapting ideas from one context to another. Anti-rape movements began in Hong Kong and Fiji in the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, and concern about rape in police custody galvanized activists in India in the mid-1980s. American activists developed anti-rape movements at the same time. The defense of women who killed their batterers also became a rallying cry in the US and in other parts of the world. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, feminist movements in Europe, the United States, Australia (Silard 1994), Argentina (Oller 1994), Brazil (Thomas 1994), India (Bush 1992), the Virgin Islands (Morrow 1994) and many other parts of the world developed strategies to protect women from violence in the home through shelters, support groups for victims, and criminalization of battering.