Joint Statement

22 March 2011

The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action affirms that “the human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights”. It prioritises the full and equal participation of women in all dimensions of their lives.

It calls for the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex as a priority objective of the international community.  It considers that acts of gender-based violence, including those resulting from cultural prejudice, are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated.

Coupled with the fact that 186 members States of the UN have also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, States are legally obligated to ensure that the social causes of inequality and discrimination against women are eliminated, including those based on social and cultural patterns of conduct that are premised on the inferior or subordinate status of women in family and in public life.

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Cultures, Traditions and VAW: Human Rights Challenges

16th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Women need to re-claim culture and cultural rights to end gender-based discrimination  

A well-attended panel on “Cultures, Traditions, and Violence Against Women: Human Rights Challenges” was organized by the Violence is Not Our Culture Campaign in partnership with International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW), Partners for Law in Development (PLD), and Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). The session, held last 07 March 2011 during the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, was conceived of as an opportunity to raise the profile of the how ‘culture’ continues to be invoked by States and certain forces to justify gender-based discrimination including violence against women and to present a feminist human rights standpoint  on the ongoing debate on universalism vs. cultural relativism at the UN. Read Full Summary 

Presentations:  Farida Shaheed, Madhu Mehra, Karmen Ramirez Boscán, Fahima AbdelHafiz Hashim

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Zina Laws, Human Rights and State Accountability

11 March 2011 

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Why Zina Laws and Why Now? - Ziba Mir-Hosseini

Classical Muslim jurists treated any sexual contact outside a legal marriage as a crime. The main category of such crimes is zina, which they defined as any act of illicit sexual intercourse between a man and woman. The punishment for zina is the same for men and women: 100 lashes for the unmarried, and death by stoning for the married — though cases where these punishments were carried out have rarely been documented in history.

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Towards a Holistic Discourse on Gender Justice in Muslim Contexts: Understanding and Resisting Contemporary Zina Laws - Vanja HAMZIĆ

The book "Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Context" examines zina laws and the related practices that emerged or re-emerged in a number of contemporary Muslim-majority states. We posit that these laws and practices have been built at the intersection between, on the one hand, patriarchal religious, cultural and legal frameworks devised to control peoples’ sexuality, and, on the other hand, opportunistic and equally patriarchal political manoeuvres on part of state and non-state elites. Our research, however, demonstrates that the latter – political – aspect of this intersection has been crucial in enabling the age-old patriarchies to achieve a novel, more potent and wider-ranging form of politico-legal oppression.

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