Globalisation Of Women’s Rights Norms: The Right To Manifest Religion And ‘Orientalism’ In The Council Of Europe

Charlotte Helen Skeet

Abstract

Women’s access to and enjoyment of human rights are increasingly being used as a global measure of other “goods” in societies: for instance as a measure of development, a gauge of the health and depth of democracy and as a general indicator of a state commitment and adherence to international responsibilities. Therefore, while the study of women’s relationship to human rights is of considerable importance and interest in itself it is also gaining prominence across a range of other areas of international and domestic law. This might be viewed as a positive indication of the growing strength of women’s human rights norms but it bears closer analysis. Also within this discourse on women’s rights what rights norms are being globalised and how is this occurring?

This paper considers how supposedly universalist rhetorics around equality rights can advance ‘orientalist’ and patriarchal discourses in relation to who “women” are and how their rights may be realised. Such discourses may hinder implementation of women’s rights especially for women who are “other.” This is particularly evident in relation to women’s rights to freedom of expression, the manifestation of religious freedom and rights to participate in culture. To illustrate this specific focus is given to the increasing discrimination against Muslim women and to human rights responses in this context within Europe.

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