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Ms. Belen Mattos-castaneda

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Member of the Durham Law School  


Belén joined Durham Law School in October 2022 as a PhD candidate, working on the intersection of gender and criminal law. She holds an AHRC Northern Bridge doctoral studentship. Her thesis is titled “Analysis of gender/class (in)sensitive responses in criminal sentences of women convicted for causing the death of their newborn children in Argentina”. She obtained an LLB from the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (Argentina) ranking first in her year. From 20192021 she did a Dual Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of York and Universidad de Oviedo (Spain), funded by an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship. From 2019 – 2022 she worked as a Research Fellow for her home institution in Argentina, on topics related to reproductive justice. Belén is a licensed attorney in Argentina - in the past, she has practised Family Law, and has been part of her home Law School’s pro-bono clinic, offering free legal services to women survivors of domestic violence. She has also been an intern at the Organization of American States (OAS).  

Current Research

Belén is working under the supervision of Dr Emma Milne and Prof Clare McGlynn. Her research project examines the underlying gender and class biases that might permeate judicial discourses in decision sentences of women accused of killing their newborns, framing these in terms of violence against women. The study will conduct a qualitative analysis of court transcripts of criminal cases including ‘homicide aggravated due to family bond’ and ‘person abandonment’, pronounced between 2019-2022 in Argentina. The findings of this work will determine the legal consequences of sentences potentially tarnished by misogynistic and classist assumptions regarding the defendants under Argentinean legislation, understanding these as ‘institutional symbolic gender-based violence’. 

Research groups

Gender & Law at Durham (GLAD) 

Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ) 

Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) 

Research interests

  • Human rights
  • Criminal Justice
  • Violence against women
  • Reproductive rights