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The Subject of Women’s Rights: An Investigation of CEDAW’s (Straight) Construction of Family-­Related Human Rights

Pasterny, Lynn Kathleen LU (2015) JAMM04 20151
Department of Law
Abstract
The history of international human rights law shows that the articulation of
human rights has often been scripted around the experiences of some rather
than all. For example: men. As the creation of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has
tried to address specifically the oppression of women, has this
fragmentation of some rather than all repeated itself? This study focuses on
CEDAW’s family-related provisions and assesses whether they consider
women of all sexual orientations as proper human rights subjects. That is, it
is investigated whether CEDAW takes into account differences amongst
women in regard to their sexual orientation and/or the sexual relation they
are in. The... (More)
The history of international human rights law shows that the articulation of
human rights has often been scripted around the experiences of some rather
than all. For example: men. As the creation of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has
tried to address specifically the oppression of women, has this
fragmentation of some rather than all repeated itself? This study focuses on
CEDAW’s family-related provisions and assesses whether they consider
women of all sexual orientations as proper human rights subjects. That is, it
is investigated whether CEDAW takes into account differences amongst
women in regard to their sexual orientation and/or the sexual relation they
are in. The method employed in this study is a feminist and queer critique of
human rights, focusing on the socially and legally created norm and its
assigned deviants. This analytical strategy is applied to the family-related
provisions of CEDAW as well as the interpretive and monitoring work of
CEDAW’s monitoring body, the CEDAW Committee. The key findings of the
study show that CEDAW’s provisions relating to family issues do not value
the diversity of women. Instead they are mostly scripted around the lives of
heterosexual women, rendering heterosexual women the invisible norm as
well as the main subject of women’s rights. It is moreover maintained that
CEDAW is complicit in reinforcing a certain type of family (the
monogamous heterosexual family) and in rendering this unit central to a
woman’s life. While the CEDAW Committee has sometimes tried to include
in the scope of CEDAW the experiences of lesbian, bisexual and queer
women, its understanding of intersectional discrimination in regard to
women’s sexual orientations has not yet infiltrated its ideas about the
family. The main conclusion drawn from this research is that, in focusing on
eliminating discrimination against women within the monogamous
heterosexual family, CEDAW is complicit in legitimising this specific family
unit, leaving unnoticed the wider oppressive aspects of it. The study
recommends that the Committee adopts a general recommendation,
reconceptualising the chapeau of Article 16(1) of CEDAW so as to instruct
states to allow and enable women to develop freely their own understanding
of family and to value and respect different forms of families, without
discriminating amongst them. (Less)
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author
Pasterny, Lynn Kathleen LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAMM04 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
CEDAW, Sexual Orientation, Family, Intersectional Discrimination
language
English
id
5467368
date added to LUP
2015-06-12 11:20:15
date last changed
2015-06-12 11:20:15
@misc{5467368,
  abstract     = {The history of international human rights law shows that the articulation of
human rights has often been scripted around the experiences of some rather
than all. For example: men. As the creation of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has
tried to address specifically the oppression of women, has this
fragmentation of some rather than all repeated itself? This study focuses on
CEDAW’s family-related provisions and assesses whether they consider
women of all sexual orientations as proper human rights subjects. That is, it
is investigated whether CEDAW takes into account differences amongst
women in regard to their sexual orientation and/or the sexual relation they
are in. The method employed in this study is a feminist and queer critique of
human rights, focusing on the socially and legally created norm and its
assigned deviants. This analytical strategy is applied to the family-related
provisions of CEDAW as well as the interpretive and monitoring work of
CEDAW’s monitoring body, the CEDAW Committee. The key findings of the
study show that CEDAW’s provisions relating to family issues do not value
the diversity of women. Instead they are mostly scripted around the lives of
heterosexual women, rendering heterosexual women the invisible norm as
well as the main subject of women’s rights. It is moreover maintained that
CEDAW is complicit in reinforcing a certain type of family (the
monogamous heterosexual family) and in rendering this unit central to a
woman’s life. While the CEDAW Committee has sometimes tried to include
in the scope of CEDAW the experiences of lesbian, bisexual and queer
women, its understanding of intersectional discrimination in regard to
women’s sexual orientations has not yet infiltrated its ideas about the
family. The main conclusion drawn from this research is that, in focusing on
eliminating discrimination against women within the monogamous
heterosexual family, CEDAW is complicit in legitimising this specific family
unit, leaving unnoticed the wider oppressive aspects of it. The study
recommends that the Committee adopts a general recommendation,
reconceptualising the chapeau of Article 16(1) of CEDAW so as to instruct
states to allow and enable women to develop freely their own understanding
of family and to value and respect different forms of families, without
discriminating amongst them.},
  author       = {Pasterny, Lynn Kathleen},
  keyword      = {CEDAW,Sexual Orientation,Family,Intersectional Discrimination},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Subject of Women’s Rights: An Investigation of CEDAW’s (Straight) Construction of Family-­Related Human Rights},
  year         = {2015},
}