February 2012 – Women and Children’s Rights

By: Gitanjali Stevens, Vice President

This month we will be looking at the topic “Women and Children’s Rights”. Although these are in fact two separate topics, wewill consider them together because they are associated with traditionally more vulnerable and marginalized groups of any given population.

Women’s rights are rights that “promote the legal and social equality of women with men”.[1] In some countries these rights can be institionalized by law, customs, and behavior; whereas in other places they can be suppressed or ignored. Women’s rights are a type of human rights that claim an inherent traditional and historical bias against women and girls.[2] A list of prevalent issues faced by women today include, but are not limited to: the right to bodily autonomy; to work and receive fair wages; to hold public office; to serve in the military; and to have religious, martial, and parental rights. Notably, rape and sexual violence are still an international ongoing problem. Women’s rights have been codified into the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the Maputo Protocol.

Children’s Rights are the “rights of children to live free from hunger, abuse, neglect, and other inhumane conditions”.[3] Some interpretations believe that this involves a child’s right to autonomous action; and all agree that children should be free from abuse. Generally, a “child” is considered to be anyone under the age of eighteen years.[4]Children’s rights are codified in the UN Declaration of the Rights of a Child and the UN Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

This week we will be investigating a case of “corrective rape”, which is the practice of men raping lesbian women presumably as a means to “cure” them of homosexuality. South Africa’s “corrective rape” rates are estimated to be among the highest in the world.[5] Please see this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13908662 “South Africa’s Lesbians Fear ‘Corrective Rape’ ”

[1] “Definition for Women’s Rights – Oxford Dictionaries Online.” Oxford Dictionaries Online. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.

[2] “Frequently Asked Questions.” Home, Child Soldiers International. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.

[3] “Women’s Rights as Human Rights.” The United Human Rights Council. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.

[4] “Children’s Rights legal definition of Children’s Rights.” Legal Dictionary. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.

[5] ” The South African women living in fear of rape” The Guardian . Web. 2 Feb. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/14/south-african-women-fear-rape>

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