Women’s Rights and Religious Practice: Claims in Conflict by Alison L. Boden (auth.)

By Alison L. Boden (auth.)

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Others write that social and economic rights can never be absolute, since they are not justiciable rights claims but merely goals or aspirations. 12 Another school of thought advises that basic human needs are the source of basic human rights. 14 Again, consensus on basic needs as the ground for basic rights is lacking because of the vague nature of the criteria. There appears as yet to be no common, 30 Women’s Rights and Religious Practice mutually acceptable standard of measure by which to gauge what items or conditions are absolutely and irrevocably necessary to meet human needs.

41 The “women’s rights are human rights” campaign of the last decade sought to insert into rights legislation and enforcement the understanding that the categories of injustice experienced by many women are indeed the very categories of rights infringements covered by international law, such as slavery and murder, and must be redressed as bona fide human rights abuses. The deep cultural and religious acceptance of many practices, and the “benign” or “natural” veneer of gender subordination, have made the campaign an uphill battle.

As a result, attempts to resolve some conflicts with heavy reliance on greater implementation of existing human rights law are ill-advised. The two international instruments most at issue in the conflict between women’s rights and religious practice are the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Women’s Convention) and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of 26 Hierarchies of Rights Claims 27 Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (the Declaration). Provisions within the Women’s Convention that are most in conflict with the freedom to observe religious precepts are equality in protection before the law [Article 2(c)], the abolition of all laws and practices that discriminate against women [Article 2(f)], equal rights regarding nationality (Article 9), equality in all areas of economic and social life (Article 13), equality in all manner before the law (Article 15), and equal rights in family life (Article 16).

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