International Human Rights, Women and Gender
International Human Rights: Women and Gender
Women are the most assaulted segment of the human society. A shocking statistic reveals that a majority of the females are subjected to violence and sexual violence by the time they reach their late teens (Fergus, 2012).
Definitions of Violence against women, constitutes the mental and physical torture they are subjected to by way of restricting their right to freedom in the broader sense of the term. The crimes and exploitation against younger girls implies, by definition, violence based on gender discrimination. It has been observed that this act of violence is fallout of the negligence shown towards equality of the female child and womenfolk in general (Fergus, 2012).
The act of violence exposes the women and specifically the younger female child to isolation, loss of identity, unhealthy overall development, psychological and social stigma (WHO, 2006) and hence cause HIV and/or AIDS, causing further exposure to life threatening abuse and abhorrence (Fergus, 2012).
In studies carried out addressing the issues of atrocities against women and female children, it has come to light that 25 to 33% of them are subjected to sexual abuse either in the school, or on the way to school, forcing them to abandon studies or change the routes (UN Women, n.d.). Gender inequality and discrimination make girls vulnerable and can result in death from extreme violence (Fergus, 2012; Word Health Organization, 2006).
The socio-economic costs of discrimination and acts of violence against women are huge and far-reaching, those of diminishing human capital and also productivity and thereby social justice which in turn causes social and political imbalance and instability (UN General Assembly, 2006). Even though the main costs are borne by the individual and the immediate family and society of the individual, the state also loses by way of diminished human capital, imbalance of the sexes and hence strains the public services as a consequence (Fergus, 2012).
This paper critically discusses how the principles of equality and non-discrimination are approached within the UN human rights framework with reference to the work of at least two treaty-monitoring bodies, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). But before we discuss the approach by these international bodies, it is critical we analyze exactly how these international bodies characterize equality and nondiscrimination.
Equality in human context is equality in treatment, in values without prejudice to sex, color, socio-economic conditions, or physical abilities. What is specific in the context of this work is that of gender-based equality and non-discrimination against women. There are far too many forms that arise in this construct and require the support of the entire societies to remove the imbalances in physical forms, psychological and mental posturing of superiority and inferiority and ensure expression of right to freedom to women in the society (Arbour, 2007).
Equality is defined by state apparatus as equal opportunities to all, however that is impossible to realize by those with, for example disabilities. Hence, special and preferential provisions need to be made for such inadequacies. Equality to opportunity is another way of looking at equality. The societal role in approaching this discrimination that may be based on gender, caste creed, color, regional or cultural segregation and similar factors needs to change and the state has a large role to play in it, in addition to the international community at large. In combining these two approaches, it will be seen that equality means equality in spite of not having the ability to contribute equally for any reason whatsoever (Arbour, 2007).
It would be easiest to understand the discrimination as is seen in the corporate world or even the more...
Such a comprehension leads by implication to the meaning of the coining of 'non-discrimination, awarded against the same tasks or activities performed by both the genders. The very same discrimination is seen in case of people with disabilities, physical or mental and psychological. Thus, even if the regulations proclaim equality and non-discrimination, all sections of the society are unable to enjoy the full benefits accrued by them and require the intervention of 'preferential' treatment for them to enjoy equal opportunities in a tangible way (Arbour, 2007).
In this paper, we will thus focus on how two specific UN treaty monitoring bodies approach the issue of quality and nondiscrimination and how they then tackle the issue of violence against women within the context of equality and nondiscrimination as they are understood in the introduction above.
Section 2: Analyzing CEDAW's approach to preventing violence against women in light of nondiscrimination and equality principles
Introduction to the approach
The main aim according to the CEDAW proposals are to construct legally bound, executable international human rights treaties and constitutional provisions to penalize as well as take preventive action against discriminatory action or intent as well as violence against women in public and private lives. In this first article 1 itself, it explains that all spheres of life, social, cultural, public and private should be addressed under such agreements and treaties (Kazuko, 1995).
It is pertinent to note that the approach of CEDAW is not direct in that domestic violence is not explicitly stated, instead, interpretative conclusions are sought to be understood when it talks about 'gender-based' violence. The proceedings and legal implications therein are applicable at times of war as well as peace and all nation members of the UN come under the ambit of its provisions (Kazuko, 1995).
Classification of equality and nondiscrimination
Although in article 1 discrimination is being defined and classified against women, an explicit and clear distinction by way of definition, explaining meaningful, specific and relevant terms like 'violence against women' and violence based on gender or even that of gender are conspicuous by their absence. Surprisingly, what ought to be considered as 'marriage by force', socially inspired or otherwise, is also not defined and only a reference of this important causal discrimination against the female child can be found (Kazuko, 1995).
CEDAW has chosen to eliminate all such causes in the state apparatuses like provisions in the constitution of the state itself that biases and discriminates against women in all forms (article 2). CEDAW makes some very specific and far-reaching demands on the governments of various nations by requiring them to declare equality as well as make clear statements of equality of man and woman in the constitution. The main aim of this measure is to enable changes in practical implementation of removal of bias, violence, and discrimination against women. It makes its point clear by asking countries to provide for penal actions in instances of discriminations and violence against women while also removing all such provisions that are biased against the women (Freeman, 2009).
Recent efforts towards implementing equality and nondiscrimination standards
In a significant endeavor to remove discrimination against social and cultural bias CEDAW has taken the view that nations need to bring about a change in the overall view of the society and place equal emphasis on both sexes in the familial construct. In article 5(a), it stresses on the fact that special attention needs to be paid at the domestic level to imbibe the virtue of equality (Freeman, 2009). Whereas in article 10 (c) the same is sought to be achieved at all places of educational institutions and such provisions outside the home, too. The emphasis is on achieving equality by removing all conventional, traditional, and stereotyped roles that discriminate against the women (Forster and Jivan, 2010).
Attitudinal changes are needed in the whole society to bring about equality of the sexes. This view is emphasized by CEDAW in article 12 (1) that seeks removal of all traces of social customs and traditions that spell prejudice and bias against women or show them in poor light in any fashion. The boys and males should be taught to ensure practice of shunning violence of all forms against women in order to bring down discrimination as well as violence against women is another important viewpoint emphasized by CEDAW in article 12 (Forster and Jivan, 2010).
In the 'Definitions' chapter CEDAW has in its opening Paragraph equated 'Gender-Based Violence' with 'discrimination' of the sexes and specifically those that go against the women (UN Back-Grounder, 2007). Further, in the Paragraph 6 it can be found that the view of the CEDAW is that gender-based violence is the one instituted against women in the societal forms that affect the women specifically, physically, mentally or sexually. These may be acts of threat, perception of threat, forced or even extortion that impedes free expression of the women. In this way, CEDAW takes the view that the past conventions may be considered to have been overlooked even if such discriminations are not described as acts of violence (United Nations, 2003).
In furtherance of the eradication of violence and discrimination against women, in Paragraph…
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