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Homepage / Library / Welcome to the second series “Culture and Human Rights: How can we challenge ‘cultural’ excuses for gender-based violence?”

Welcome To The Second Series “Culture And Human Rights: How Can We Challenge ‘cultural’ Excuses For Gender-based Violence?”

JANUARY 4, 2012

Gender Across Borders in collaboration with Violence is Not Our Culture: the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in the Name of ‘Culture’  would like to welcome you to the second part of a series exploring the relationship between culture and violence against women.  This second series is a result of the many articles we received exploring the relationship between culture and violence against women that simply couldn’t be ignored.

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.”

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.  Regardless, of who we are, where we are, we are all under the ‘control’ of ‘culture.’

Fortunately, culture is not homogenous or static; it evolves and changes over time. The personal narratives, journalistic articles, analytical pieces, critical essays and editorials that poured in from around the world on abusive and degrading practices towards women such as FGM, forced marriage, honour killings, polygamy, harmful menstruation rituals and much more demonstrate that cultural evolution and change starts with each one of us.

We can break harmful practices upheld by ‘tradition,’ claims of religious authority or cultural authenticity.  I was, and remain, immensely moved and inspired by each contributor and I hope you will too!

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