A Call to End Gender Persecution on the Planet by or before January 1, 2020

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A Call to End Gender Persecution on the Planet by or before January 1, 2020



[b]Revision 33.[/b]

[b][i] A call to end gender persecution. [/b][/i]

Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive of human-rights abuses. It covers a range of injustices – from gender abuse to systematic rape and from pre-birth sex selection to female genital mutilation – that affect as many as one in three women. [UNFPA.] (1)

In 2005, Human Rights Watch described “violence and discrimination against women [as] global social epidemics.” (2) Aware of the widespread trend of gender-based violence in the world today, Vision 2020 calls for an end to gender persecution globally by (or before) January 1, 2020.

The [i]Nairobi Forward-Looking Platform [/i] defines equality as:

“… both a goal and a means whereby individuals are accorded equal treatment under the law and equal opportunities to enjoy their rights and to develop their potential talents and skills so that they can participate in national political, economic, social and cultural development and can benefit from its results. For women in particular, equality means the realization of rights that have been denied as a result of cultural, institutional, behaviourial and attitudinal discrimination.” (3)

For me, an egalitarian world is one in which one’s rights do not depend on one’s gender. An egalitarian world is one in which both genders enjoy equal rights and dignities. They are “gender-equal” even though biology makes different demands on them. I consider none of these demands to be grounds for the violation of basic human rights. If anything, the world community has agreed that motherhood and childhood call for special consideration. (4)

I also do not consider a culture or a religion to be grounds for the violation of basic human rights. Where these conflict, in my view, basic human rights must prevail.

[b][i] Gender persecution is not a fact of life [/b][/i]

I think we need to remind ourselves that gender persecution is not a [i]principle[/i] of life, but a [i]condition[/i]. It is not a [i]fact[/i] of life, but an [i]artifact[/i] (an artifact is a human creation). There is nothing in the laws of nature that I am aware of that says that gender persecution must exist.

Gender persecution arises because men force on women a worldview that works to women’s detriment. That worldview (it is not a “philosophy”) has been called male dominance, male chauvinism, patriarchy, [i]machismo,[/i] and sexism. It condemns women to a life of abuse. It turns its gaze aside from rape and murder. It has written for us a sordid and sorrowful chapter in world history.

This worldview has neither support from genuine spiritual sources nor a grounding in human rights. The wisest and most compassionate among us contradict it.

What they declare is that no man can claim an innate right to rule over a woman. We all submit to rule as citizens, but all other matters are governed by human rights and law.

Life is not a struggle for existence in which only the strongest survive. The words of men do not carry more weight than the words of women. Men cannot do whatever they want to women.

In some parts of the world, gender persecution has disappeared from women’s lives, though crime and lesser discrimination persist. But the widespread, serious harm that the word “persecution” conveys has ceased as a daily feature of the lives of enough people on this planet that it is becoming commonly discussed that it need not be a feature of the lives of any.

Male dominance exists solely because we as a world allow it to exist. It has no innate strength in the face of our strong and determined unwillingness to allow it to prevail on this planet any longer.

[b][i] Male dominance forever challenged [/b][/i]

Male dominance was globally and forever challenged on December 10, 1948. On that day the world, represented by the United Nations General Assembly, acknowledged that basic human rights exist, equally shared by all human beings. The [i]Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[/i] which the world adopted through its representatives, lays down that all human beings, male or female, are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone on Earth, it says, has the inalienable right to life, liberty and security of person. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. All human beings are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection from it.

After the acceptance of the UDHR, the world agreed that no religious interpretation, cultural tradition, or political circumstance should prevail in a court of law over basic human rights.

Out from the trunk of the UDHR have sprung branches in every direction – covenants, treaties, charters, declarations, statutes, codes of behaviour. The UDHR holds the place over us as global citizens that the Bible holds over Christians, the Koran over Muslims, and so on. Gradually a web of laws is arising that will change our behaviour as a planet. The new commandments, the new commitments are human rights.

The ending of the story of male dominance was written on that day in 1948. Male dominance is not inevitable; equality is.

[b][i] Apology [/b][/i]

Noticeable by its absence in many parts of our world is the political will of men to stop harming women, to speak out against harm, and to act to stop it where another commits it.

In my opinion, if men awoke from their selfishness, they might apologize to women.

I apologize to all the women of this world for the harm that men have visited upon you. I am aware that this harm has included mutilation of your body, restriction of your social and personal life, marriage to a person not of your choosing, sexual harm, involuntary impregnation, forced abortion, and the denial of education and employment. I am aware that many of you have been beaten by men over long periods of time and some of you, whom we remember, have been sexually enslaved and murdered.

I agree with the [i] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [/i] (CEDAW) that the world should accede to interim measures to right the balance between men and women, some of which may seem uneven or discriminatory. I agree that these temporary measures are necessary to correct the present imbalance. As CEDAW says:

“Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating [i] de facto [/i] equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.” (5)

[b][i] Much work ahead [/b][/i]

My background is in the adjudication of refugee law. My viewpoint is international and focused on “refugee-producing countries.” What I see from my limited vantage point is a failure to live up to the values enshrined in the UDHR and a failure to offer state protection to women who suffer from human-rights abuses.

Much work awaits us. There are countries that will need to pass laws, create uncorrupted police forces and armies, build a fair and impartial judiciary, and so on.

Why a deadline? Only a global deadline will allow the vertical and horizontal realignment of forces needed to cause momentum to build. Only a deadline will make possible the orchestrated, synchronized effort required to turn back the wave of gender abuse drowning the world today.

Matters will not happen overnight. They will not happen as separate steps. As the wave of willingness to accede to human rights grows, so will the wave of corruption in state protection end. As the wave of corruption ends, so will the wave of willingness grow.

It may be that the world needs nowhere like a time limit of 2020. All may be achieved by 2015. I don’t know. The sooner male dominance loosens its grip, the better for the world. But, to my mind, 2020 permits the time needed for momentum to build and for institutions to transform themselves.

Have we precedent? Yes, we do. In 1961, John F. Kennedy set a deadline of 1970 for the United States to put a man on the moon. In the orchestrated effort that followed, which might never have arisen without a deadline, an astronaut landed on the moon in 1969.

Surely, a world with the skills to put a man on the moon has the skills to see that each woman has a free, safe, and equal place on Earth.

This is not the last evolutionary step we will take as a planet, but, in my view, it is the next.

[b][i] Notes [/b][/i]

(1) UNFPA, [url=http://www.unfpa.org/16days/,]http://www.unfpa.org/16days/,[/url] downloaded 7 Feb. 2005.

(2) “Women’s Rights,” Human Rights Watch 2005.

(3) Nairobi Forward-Looking Platform. New York: U.N., 1986.

(4) Article 25.2, UDHR.

(5) Article 4.1, CEDAW.

Steve Beckow

Vision 2020

Vancouver, Canada

[email protected]

Written: January 1, 2007.


[ 20 February 2007: Message edited by: Vision2020 ]

Maysie Maysie's picture

The call sounds great. I'd even push for 2007 but I'm a hopeless idealist.

Steve, women have been talking about these issues, and making global social chaneg happen, for many decades.

And whew, what a trip down memory lane! Haven't seen the word "chauvinism" that many times since the 80s! And from what I recall both those definitions are inaccurate. The defninition of chauuvinism is about someone, who despite being presented with overwhelming evidence, will not change their mind about a certain (in this case, sexist) well-held belief or attitude, It originally had nothing to do with sexism.

I also find it interesting that you don't mention the word sexism once. Nor oppressions such as racism and classism/poor-bashing that affect women in very specific ways.

I have a problem with the gender-neutral term "gender abuse", as it masks the fact that male violence against women is pervasive and quite unchecked in most countries, including Canada. I also have a problem with "domestic violence" for the same reason.

Welcome to babble!



As you can see, the document has much changed in a month or so.

I actually saw "male chauvinism" used as late as 2005:

"Gender jihad is the struggle against male chauvinistic, homophobic or sexist readings of the Islamic sacred texts," said Abdennur Prado, one of the meeting's Spanish organisers.

Those readings had been provided by Muslim scholars who, over the centuries, have been almost exclusively male. "Male chauvinism is the destruction of Islam as a well-balanced way of life," Mr Prado said. (Gilles Tremlett, “Muslim Women Launch International 'Gender Jihad,'” Guardian UK, 31 October 2005.)

I feel uncomfortable with "sexism" for the same reason I feel uncomfortable calling men and women "sexes" instead of genders.

But I've noticed that there are worlds of discourses happening, some of them using different languages from each other. For instance, American domestic activists use a different language than the group that I am more familiar with: refugee-law activists.

Again, in refugee law, the term "gender abuse," which has legal connotations, is considered to refer exclusively to men abusing women. It isn't considered "gender-neutral." Another example: Canada has "Gender Guidelines" and these concern women refugees, not men.

But we both know what we are pointing at, I'm sure.

I would have enjoyed more feedback. I'm a little disappointed with only one comment.

C'est la vie. I shall move on.


[ 20 February 2007: Message edited by: Vision2020 ]