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"Institutionalised inequality of power": A WRI Statement Against Violence Against Women

The War Resisters’ International statement issued for the UN World Conference on Human Rights dealt with the Issues of refusing military conscription, the need to extend the right to asylum, and the issue of violence against women. Excerpts from the statement concerning this last issue are quoted here.

“Violence within the family or the home is based on an institutionalised inequality of power. This violence is not only a serious human rights issue in itself but serves to limit the lives of women, to maintain women’s inferior position and to stop many women organizing against their own oppression. WRI rejects the argument that certain forms of violence against women should be accepted as part of a society’s ‘cultural traditions’. The basic dignity of any human being and their right to live free from violence cannot be compromised in the name of ‘cultural traditions’, especially as these are so often defined from a male-centered viewpoint.”

The statement specifically named certain types of violence against women: “This includes wife-battering; rape and sexual assault; discrimination in education and employment; dowry killings; female infanticide; forced abortion, sterilization and birth control; clitoridectomy; violence against lesbians; forced veiling and forced prostitution.”

WRI criticized the UN for appointing an all-male panel to investigate the mass rapes in Bosnia-Hercegovina and called for “gender-based violence and discrimination” to be recognised as a ground for claiming asylum.