Womens and Gender Studeies
Philosophy and Psychology
Submitted By pimouokhome
October 25, 2015
Gender and Human Rights
1.The argument that Adam Jones is making in the Gendercide and Genocide article is that gendercide- what he defines as gender-selective mass killing that is frequent/defining feature of human rights- has attracted virtually no attention at the level of both scholarship and public policy. He stresses that it has become one of the great “taboo” subjects of the contemporary age. Jones does not concentrate on either the gendercide of men or women, but he delves into both. He begins his argument by starting with the gendercide of men. Jones states that “the frequency across cultures and conflict types marks make gendercide as possibly a definitional element of contemporary warfare, state terrorism, mob violence, and paramilitary brigandage”( Jones,189). I cannot help but to agree with Jones on this stance. With evidence from the Congo, India, Colombia, Rwanda, Sri-Lanka, and even Peru it is clear that male gendercide is clearly a cross-cultural phenomenon. Jones goes on to state that “The most vulnerable and consistently targeted population group, through time an around the world today are non-combatant men of ‘battle age’”. He defines non-combatant men as men that have no way of defending themselves, and can be both detained and exterminated by the thousands or millions. Jones mentions that he views that mass murder of prisoners of war as an act of gendercide of men that obviously have no means of protecting themselves. When talking about the worst gender-selective slaughter in human history he mentions what he calls the liquidation of almost three million young and healthy Soviet prisoners of war that were captured, and killed by the Germans mainly through starvation. Jones believes that there are institutional, material, political, and cultural interests and variables underlying the systematic targeting of males. An example of an institutional interest here is the Burundi genocide that occurred in 1972. The genocide targeted many Hutu senior students, prominent church workers, and soldiers. All of these are institutions that are male dominated. Another example of gendercide that Jones gives is what he calls elitocide. This is regarded as the targeting of elite men in a society. Like I mentioned before, Jones also has many things to say about female gendercide. Unlike men, women are targeted by the masses for combined rape and killing, or in some cases, raping to death (Jones 2000). Jones regards deaths that result from rape to be the most excruciating deaths known to humankind.
Female infanticide, defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the practice in some societies of killing unwanted children soon after birth”, is another method of female infanticide. In some countries, female infanticide was practiced in order to reduce the population in times of famine. This is still recent because in countries such as China where the one child policy has been enforced, many families chose to abort their female fetus. This is known as sex-selective abortions and it is not only practiced in China but in other countries such as India. Jones list female infanticide, the rape-killing of women through history and mass murders for witchcraft to be the main cases of female infanticide. One thing that really jumped out at me in the Jones article was when he compared the status of female infanticide to be similar to the status of slavery because slavery is largely eradicated in its classic form though it has lingering traces and more muted offshoots are still apparent ( like the sex-selective abortions in India mentioned earlier). Both male and female gendercide is something that you don’t really hear about that often in the media of our day. On the other hand, genocide- the deliberate extermination of a race of people is a term that we are somewhat accustomed to hearing in the news. The point that Jones is trying to make is that for act of violence to qualify as a genocide, it must be on a very large scale. For the UN Convention, the number of victims does not matter, as any act that can be considered a genocide is considered the same way regardless of the size. Jones’ view is actually compatible of with the women’s human right perspective because just like the women behind the women’s rights movement are not trying to say that male rights are irrelevant, he is attempting to say the same thing. They are both on the same accord when they say that they need both the male and female perspectives to further their causes.
3. In her article Pupavac is saying that the though children’s rights have historically been understand and implemented in one way, we have to change the way that we think about children’s human rights. There are many special challenges that she brings up in the article such as the fact that the CRC recognizes children as autonomous right holder with their own rights. She points out that this is problematic because many children are not competent in these rights or they are not able to exercise them alone. In regards to how we understand rights, she first states that the process of getting a legal norm to being a cultural norm is not a direct process. I believe this to be especially true and this is something that we have heard time and time again. We know that just because a law is passed, it does not necessarily mean that it will be implemented at the rural level. Pupavac then mentions that the CRC does not recognize children’s equal capacity to vote or stand in elections and because of this, the rights of children are ‘quasi-enabling’ rights whose exercise is decided by third parties. I really like the term ‘quasi-enabling’ when used to describe the rights because it really highlights the fact that they don’t really enable these children even though they might seem to. Pupavac also points out that there is a capacity gap. She believes that children do not have the capacity to determine their best interests and to enforce their rights unless they are given an externally authorized agent. Some tensions that are between global children’s rights advocacy and development advocacy are whether cultural norms can be changed without substantial material change to a way of life. This is further stressed by UNICEF when they state:
“In the richer countries, much can be done to meet the needs of children through legislation, and substantial resources can be mobilized for aid through community or voluntary channels… in the lest developed countries where the needs of children are most extensive, it is difficult to improve the condition of children without raising the living standards of the population of the whole”- (UNICEF, 1963, p.23)
I really like this quote because I believe it whole-heartedly. In the countries that have more, where the number of children in need is small, it is very feasible to launch great programs to help them, but in the poorer countries it becomes more of a challenge. I think that just because it might be more challenging does not mean that it is not possible, only that alternative methods have to be taken.
I think that Pupavac would say that the work of Emmanuel Jal is very necessary because through his music, he is letting more and more people know about the children’s human rights issues that are faced by many kids in different countries. She would say that for many of the people that listen to him, his music is the only way that they would open their eyes and minds to the things that are happening in these countries. She would also appreciate the fact that he is taking his story to people that have real power to make change.
I consider the term “culture” to be very broad. It can be defined as the way of life of a group of people-their behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept. But it can also be defined as the behavior patterns that are socially acquired from the way that we grow up or through popular culture. My favorite definition of culture is the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group from another that is transmitted through language, material objects, rituals, institutions and art from one generation to the next. Many people will tell you that their religion defines their culture, and some will tell you that their national affiliation largely decides their definition of culture. There are many conflicts between culture and international human rights law such as FGM (female genital mutilation) in many African countries. In these countries many say that their culture is the reason that they ‘cut’ their women and girls. They state that if they are cut they are taken more seriously by their partners, and thus are respected more. If you ask some people that live in these countries they will tell you that they have never heard of anything of the sort. This ties back to the many different meanings of culture mentioned before, something culture can simply be something that has been ‘passed down’ through hearsay and be taken in and accepted as the truth. Many girls actually choose to undergo cutting themselves, because they are scared that if they don’t, they will face social exclusion and might not get married and have a husband. Additionally, “faith healing”, widely practiced in both South Africa and Uganda is another conflict. Many in these countries still believe in traditional healing methods that by themselves offer no actual benefits to the patient. Many AIDS patients in South African state that they only use faith healers to treat their disease because that is what is done in their culture. Another way in which culture is invoked in resistance to a human rights perspective is in domestic violence or more recently referred to as intimate partner violence. The relationship culture that says that the woman is meant to be subservient and submissive is what drives many cases of intimate partner violence. Many people believe that the woman in a relationship should ‘bow down’ and be fully obedient towards her husband. The National Institute of Justice tells us that there are five types of intimate partner violence. Physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical and sexual violence, psychological/emotional violence, and stalking. In Kristoff and WuDunn’s Half the Sky, We are told the story of Ellaha. Ellaha was a nineteen year old girl who lived in Afghanistan who was doing well for herself. She had graduated from high school, had a well-paying job and was looking forward to a university education in Canada. But her parents were not having it. They wanted her to marry her cousin, and when they found out that she wanted to head to university ( to school with men), they beat her until her head was broken and she agreed to marry her cousin. But when Ellaha attempted to escape, her father was so upset that her mother thought that he would have her killed before the news got out to people in the neighborhood. The authors say that: “Islam itself is not misogynistic. But as many Muslims themselves have pointed out, as long as smart, bold women like Ellaha disproportionately end up in prison, or in coffins, then those countries are undermining their own hopes for development”(Half the Sky, 157). This is yet another example of honor killings that are practiced in many places around the world.
Sally Engle Merry says that: “In order for human rights ideas to be effective… they need to be translated into local terms and situated within local contexts of power and meaning. They need, in other words, to be remade in the vernacular” (Merry 2006, 1).
Examples of cultural translation are evident in the documentary Africa Rising. In the documentary there was one woman that made it her job to go to rural villages to talk in the language that the people would understand and many times she had to break down the exact concept of what she was talking about to them. Many times in the documentary you can notice that she first tries to get a grasp of how they feel first, and then she subsequently question their reasoning as to why they feel the way that they do about female genital mutilation. There are also smaller instances of cultural translation in Half the Sky when many women in the book tell their story of how they used to work in the brothels to other women and they explain the story in terms and ways that people like them can directly understand and relate to. Yet another example of cultural translation is the story of Emmanuel Jal in the documentary War Child. Even though most of his music is being heard overseas, he still makes it a point to go back to where he came from to talk to the children of the school that he used to attend about what he went through and about how they don’t have to go through the same path that he did.
In conclusion, I believe that an anthropological perspective of culture is a productive avenue forward because in order to change something, you first have to understand it. In regards to female genital cutting we could not simply say that it was a human right violation and then by some law or another ‘ban’ it. We had to try and understand and study the reasons why people still practice it, how many people still practice it today, who performs the surgeries, and why people themselves choose to undergo it without being forced. This multi-faceted approach better enables to create laws that will be more effective. The anthropological approach when concerning child soldiers is also important but I believe in a different way. Actually talking to and interviewing child soldier (grown or young) helps them to understand that what they are doing is not right. As in the case of Emmanuel Jal, at first, when he was a child soldier and he was getting interviewed by the UN, he saw nothing wrong with what he was doing, but as he stated in the video, the interviewers made him think about things that he had never even thought about before.
• Arthur Asa Berger. "The Meanings of Culture." M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture 3.2 (2000). [your date of access] .
• "About CDC's Injury Center." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.