Stereotyping has emerged as a human rights law topic. Stereotypes assign certain roles and characteristics to a group. Examples include the notions that women are nurturing and weak, men combative and powerful, and gays promiscuous and unsuited to parenting. Such stereotypes can deeply impact the enjoyment of human rights. They reinforce inequality and discrimination. Several human rights treaties therefore mention that states are under an obligation to combat stereotyping. Examples include Article 5(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Article 8(b) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); and Articles 12 and 14 of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention). Increasingly, human rights courts and treaty bodies – including the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the CEDAW Committee, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – voice concerns about stereotyping and insist that states should not enforce harmful stereotypes.
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