"We Are Not Victims, We Are Protagonists of This History": Latin American Gender Violence and the Limits of Women’s Rights as Human Rights


MacManus, Viviana Beatriz. 2015. “‘We Are Not Victims, We Are Protagonists of This History’: Latin American Gender Violence and the Limits of Women’s Rights as Human Rights.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1): 40–57. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.817847.

Author: Viviana Beatriz MacManus


This article centers on the Mexican and Argentinean ‘Dirty Wars’, examining the limitations inherent in human rights and women's human rights responses to these epochs of violence. I situate Argentina's report on the dictatorship, Nunca más (1984), in conversation with Elena Poniatowska's text on the 1968 Mexico City massacre, La noche de Tlatelolco (1971), to trace the rise of a global human rights discourse that has become the dominant manner of conceptualizing human rights violations and gender violence in the latter half of the twentieth century. While feminist critiques of human rights have centered on the lack of gender-specific focus of violence committed against women, this article questions whether the women's human rights discourse disengages the historical, economic and geopolitical realities from which these violations were committed and instead focuses on women's sexual violations to garner international condemnation of gender violence. By turning to these texts, this article centers on the possibilities and limitations of women's human rights discourse and the impact this has on the shaping of women's political agency. This article calls for a critical feminist approach to women's human rights in order to document narratives of women survivors of human rights abuses without obfuscating their political subjectivities.

Keywords: Latin American 'Dirty Wars', Argentina, mexico, women's and human rights, gender and state violence, literary criticism, Nunca más, La noche de Tlatelolco

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Americas, North America, South America Countries: Argentina, Mexico

Year: 2015

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