4.17.2009

women's rights are human rights

Many thanks to Giselle Portenier of Toronto for this excellent letter in yesterday's Globe and Mail.
I am concerned about continued references in the press and by government ministers to "women's rights" when discussing atrocities committed against women in Afghanistan and elsewhere - honour killings, rape, executions, female genital mutilation, enslavement (MPs Furious Law Stifling Women's Rights Passed - April 15).

We don't cite "men's rights" when we talk about torture in Abu Ghraib, or "men's rights" when we report on political assassinations of men.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights makes no distinction between "men's rights" and "women's rights." They're just fundamental, basic, human rights.

Abuses committed against women are not issues of "women's rights." They are abuses of women's human rights. It's just one extra little word, but it goes a long way in affirming just where we, as human beings, stand on these issues.

Giselle Portenier
Toronto

14 comments:

Cornelia said...

Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights. So, refering to "women's human rights", that sometimes best gets the point across.

Amy said...

Great letter.

James said...

I agree in principle, but women are subjected to some specific human rights violations that don't affect men -- see the new laws passed in Afghanistan that take away a woman's right to refuse sex to her husband, or to leave the house without her husband's permission.
While there could be a place which would pass a similar, but reversed, law, it's unlikely to ever happen.

L-girl said...

"but women are subjected to some specific human rights violations that don't affect men"

Absolutely. But those are our human rights that are being violated. I think Cornelia's "women's human rights" is the best expression in this case.

James said...

But those are our human rights that are being violated.No argument there -- same for "gay rights" or "minority rights", for that matter.

Cornelia said...

Thanks so much, James. Afghanistan is deeply patriarchal and extremely authoritarian-conservative-fundamentalist-reactionary and women are top on their hate and torture and destruction and dehumanization hitlist. It's awful and it's Taliban-style.

Cornelia said...

In such a place, the point so many politically persecuted people made "My only offense was that I wanted to live free" takes on a deeper and more haunting meaning.

Cornelia said...

Women are no property, people are no property and they are not to be "sacrificed" or anything but as long as those who don't get that still rule in some places, terror reigns supreme there and it's a catastrophe. I am so haunted by their words and their deeds, the torturous evil ideology they are into - the emotional abuse, programing, indoctrination - and the likewise deeds that go with it - the physical and sexualized violence. All those attempts at destruction of spirit and heart and mind. Sometimes I think this is the very essence of torture.

Cornelia said...

Sorry for writing stuff that might be perceived as harrowing and triggering by itself. But it has become so cold again and I really have a tough time right now and Taliban and other Afghan fundamentalists was the last thing I needed today - ugh!!!

Cornelia said...

I think Cornelia's "women's human rights" is the best expression in this case.

Thanks, Laura!

impudent strumpet said...

We need to use this. Everyone needs to start saying "human rights" every single time it is human rights being referred to. "[specific group] rights" creates a Someone Else's Problem field around the issue for people who aren't members of the group.

I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this earlier.

L-girl said...

And "someone else's problem" morphs into "special interest groups". In the US, "special interests" means everyone who is not rich, white, male, hetero and employed.

impudent strumpet said...

Now that I think about it, the only people I've ever heard utter the phrase "special interest groups" (apart from quotatively like you and I just did) has been white, male, hetero, and employed. (And rich by some, but not all, standards.)

Cornelia said...

You can sign up against the horrid anti-women's human rights bill from the Karzai and Jehadi gang at this link:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1400/t/900/tellafriend.jsp?tell_a_friend_KEY=4393