Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing

Citation:

Petchesky, Rosalind P. 2005. "Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing." International Social Science Journal 57 (184): 301-18.

Author: Rosalind P. Petchesky

Abstract:

The Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and its companion documents – those of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights (1993) and the International Conference on Population and Development (1994) – took important steps toward securing recognition for what we might call human rights of the body. These are affirmative rights relating to sexual expression, reproductive choice and access to health care and negative rights pertaining to freedom from violence, torture and abuse. But ten years later, the violated male bodies of Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and Gujarat seem to mock certain of Beijing's most basic premises: that women are primarily the victims rather than the perpetrators of bodily abuses; and that, as such, women are, or should be, the privileged beneficiaries of bodily integrity rights. This paper re-examines these premises in the shadow of the “war on terrorism”, religious extremism, and practices of racialised, sexual, and often homophobic violence against men that emerge in wars and ethnic conflicts. In particular it looks at the war in Iraq and how that war configures such practices in both old and new ways. My purpose is not to repudiate feminist visions but rather to challenge the exclusive privileging of women as the bearers of sexual rights and to open up discussion of new, more inclusive coalitions of diverse social movements for rights of the body.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Health, International Human Rights, Peace Processes, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2005

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