Sex, Culture, and Rights: A Re/Conceptualization of Violence for the Twenty-First Century
28 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2015
Date Written: 1997
The central theme of this Article, "Sex, Culture, and Rights: A Re/conceptualization of Violence," is that a re/vision of acts that constitute violence against women is necessary for gender equality -- both domestically and internationally -- to become a reality. This reconceptualization must address not only the normative concept of violence, i.e., the use of physical force, but it must also transform and reposition the idea of violence within a broader framework that includes, considers and aims to eradicate (1) psychological, social and political subordination of women; (2) male dominant (and female subservient) cultural and traditional practices; as well as (3) economic marginalization and subjugation of women.
First, in looking at sex (meaning both sex and gender) and culture, this Article will expose the status of women in the international human rights construct. This analysis will reveal that women world-wide are still far from enjoying of equality in any sphere, and in any state within the international community.
It is important to emphasize that the new model's redefinition of violence against women that this Article proposes is more comprehensive, expansive and extensive than the everyday variety of "A hit B"--be it with sex, a fist, a bat or a gun; be it at war, at home, at work or in the streets. To be sure, the discussion will include this "common understanding" of violence. However, this Article also challenges the global community to develop a conceptualization of violence with, and from, a gender-sensitive perspective, with a view to eradicating practices harmful to women, particularly with the aspirational goal of attaining real, rather than virtual or theoretical, equality for women. Such an expanded vision must condemn truly abusive, although not directly physically intrusive, conduct that has shattering effects on all women's lives by perpetuating their subordinated status and entrenching their second-class existence. The Article's proposed model presents a re/constructed notion of violence, that not only facilitates discourse on violence itself, but also engenders an environment that will enable the eradication of violence and the promotion of women's self-determination, empowerment and equality.
Keywords: violence, women, gender, economic marginalization, subjugation
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