Call for Submissions! Culture and Human Rights: How can we challenge 'cultural' excuses for gender-based violence?

Call for Writers!
  Culture and Human Rights: How can we challenge ‘cultural’ excuses for gender-based violence?

Gender Across Borders (), a global feminist blog, in collaboration with Violence is Not our Culture: the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in the Name of ‘Culture’ () is looking for writers to contribute to a series on the relationship between culture and gender-based violence to run 27 and 28 October.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines “violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Webster’s dictionary defines culture as “the behaviours and beliefs characteristic to a particular group.” These actions and ideas are translated into social action.

Throughout the world culture is employed to justify discrimination and violence against women. ‘Culture’ is used to impose control over women’s bodies, sexuality, emotions, decisions and actions, preventing them from expressing their own free will and enjoying their fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Culture is not homogenous or static; it evolves and changes over time.  This can be both positive and negative. Women can and often do benefit from progressive government policies and societal values such as equality and the commitment to prevent violence and uphold human rights, yet even when these frameworks are in place women can still suffer from abusive and degrading practices such as virginity-testing, FGM, forced marriage, honour killings, polygamy, harmful menstruation rituals and much more. Often these ‘traditions’ are upheld through claims of religious authority or cultural authenticity, raising tensions between cultural relativism and women’s rights.

How do you view the space between culture and women’s rights?  Or, is there a space for ‘culture’ in the discussion on women’s rights? If there is, can culture be re-claimed and re-defined to prevent violence and uphold rights? And who can do this? Who speaks for a particular group and what power dynamics are at play within the boundaries of cultural inclusion?

Gender Across Borders and Violence is Not our Culture would like to invite you to answer these questions and share your thoughts on the relationship between culture and women’s rights through personal narratives, profiles, book reviews, journalistic articles, analytical pieces, critical essays and last but not least editorials. Photo essays, art/posters, short films, digital animation and sound files will also be accepted

To apply, please submit your piece (300 - 1500 words in length, if written, 2-4 minutes if digital) along with a résumé/CV or short summary of interests and experience to Tanya at by Thursday 16 October 2011. Articles should include relevant links (no footnotes) that provide additional information and an image to run with the entry. No prior experience with blogging or professional writing is necessary, however please familiarize yourself with the Gender Across Border’s website. Anyone with an interest in feminism, gender, and development is welcome to contribute.

Decisions on the entries to be published will be made by Sunday 16 October. All contributors must be available via email between 17-21 October to participate in the editing and uploading process. The series will run 27 and 28 October on Gender Across Borders and Violence is Not Our Culture.

Please feel free to email Tanya at the above address with any questions.

Looking forward to your submissions!