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12 Hum. Rts. Q. 486 (1990)
Women's Rights as Human Rights: Toward a Re-Vision of Human Rights

handle is hein.journals/hurq12 and id is 494 raw text is: HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY

Women's Rights as Human Rights:
Toward a Re-Vision of Human Rights
Charlotte Bunch*
Significant numbers of the world's population are routinely subject to torture,
starvation, terrorism, humiliation, mutilation, and even murder simply be-
cause they are female. Crimes such as these against any group other than
women would be recognized as a civil and political emergency as well as
a gross violation of the victims' humanity. Yet, despite a clear record of
deaths and demonstrable abuse, women's rights are not commonly classified
as human rights. This is problematic both theoretically and practically, be-
cause it has grave consequences for the way society views and treats the
fundamental issues of women's lives. This paper questions why women's
rights and human rights are viewed as distinct, looks atthe policy implications
of this schism, and discusses different approaches to changing it.
Women's human rights are violated in a variety of ways. Of course,
women sometimes suffer abuses such as political repression that are similar
to abuses suffered by men. In these situations, female victims are often
invisible, because the dominant image of the political actor in our world is
male. However, many violations of women's human rights are distinctly
connected to being female-that is, women are discriminated against and
abused on the basis of gender. Women also experience sexual abuse in
situations where their other human rights are being violated, as political
prisoners or members of persecuted ethnic groups, for example. In this paper
I address those abuses in which gender is a primary or related factor because
gender-related abuse has been most neglected and offers the greatest chal-
lenge to the field of human rights today.
The concept of human rights is one of the few moral visions ascribed
to internationally. Although its scope is not universally agreed upon, it strikes
* A shorter version of this article appeared in RESPONSE to the Victimization of Women and
Human Rights Quarterly 12 (1990) 486-498 o 1990 by The Johns Hopkins University Press

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