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Sexual Rights in Pursuit of Sexual Justice From Advancing Sexuality Studies: a short course on sexuality theory and research methodologies.

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Presentation on theme: "Sexual Rights in Pursuit of Sexual Justice From Advancing Sexuality Studies: a short course on sexuality theory and research methodologies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexual Rights in Pursuit of Sexual Justice From Advancing Sexuality Studies: a short course on sexuality theory and research methodologies

2 2 Introduction Discourses of human rights permeate the politics of many social justice struggles Significant expansion over last decade of research, writing and discussion about sexual rights Are sexual rights sufficient to achieve sexual justice? –Module examines strategies for using a rights-based approach

3 3 3 Module aims To: Critically examine the concept of sexual rights, as enunciated by the WHO working definition and the Yogyakarta principles Unpack some of the implicit assumptions within sexual rights discourses Provide a theoretical underpinning for further pursuit of sexual justice

4 4 Participants will : Build skills in analysing sexual rights definitions and key texts Be able to assess the political and strategic usefulness of the discourse of sexual rights Explore how sexual rights may be used as a strategy to pursue sexual justice, while understanding the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach Participate in active learning

5 5 Schedule SessionTiming Introduction Pre-reading review & feedback 5 mins 30 mins Session 1. What are sexual rights? Includes: Unpacking the UN definition WHO working definition on sexual rights & Yogyakarta Principles 145 mins Session 2. Problems in defining the bearers of sexual rights 115 mins Session 3. How do sexual rights work? 80 mins Conclusion 10 mins Total: 385 mins (6.5 hours)

6 6 Pre-reading review Correa, S., Petchesky, R. and R. Parker (2008) Sexuality, Health and Human Rights. London, Routledge. Chapter 7 On the indispensability and insufficiency of human rights. Focus question: Why are rights insufficient? Petchesky, R. (2000) Sexual rights: inventing a concept, mapping an international practice. In R. Parker, R.M. Barbosa and P. Aggleton (Eds.) Framing the sexual subject: the politics of gender, sexuality and power. Berkeley, University of California Press. Focus question: What are sexual rights? (20 mins) Feedback (10 mins) 6

7 7 Session 1. What are sexual rights?

8 8 Small group work What are human rights? Who or what has rights? Human rights arise from where? Who or what has the responsibility to uphold human rights? What other kinds of people or things might also be involved? (10 mins)

9 9 9 The UN says… Human rights are commonly understood as being those rights which are inherent to the human being and that every single human being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Human rights are legally guaranteed by human rights law, protecting individuals and groups against actions which interfere with fundamental freedoms and human dignity. They are expressed in treaties, customary international law, bodies of principles and other sources of law. cont…

10 10 Human rights law places an obligation on States to act in a particular way and prohibits States from engaging in specified activities. However, the law does not establish human rights. Human rights are inherent entitlements which come to every person as a consequence of being human. Treaties and other sources of law generally serve to protect formally the rights of individuals and groups against actions or abandonment of actions by Governments which interfere with the enjoyment of their human rights. United Nations (undated) Human Rights: a basic handbook for UN staff. Available at 10

11 11 Unpacking the UN definition Who are: –Rights bearers? –Duty holders? –Other actors? (5 min brainstorm) Did your earlier group work definitions of the who, what, where of human rights fit with this quote? (5 min brainstorm)

12 12 Focus on two phrases: Human rights are inherent entitlements which come to every person as a consequence of being human … the law does not establish human rights Does this mean that human rights are ahistorical? What do we think of this claim? (10 mins brainstorm) 12

13 13 Mini lecture What do we mean by a human being? These are questions about the nature of being human – what are the things that define a human being? Sometimes called ontology Human being = body + mind + language + education + memory + creativity + culture Human being other animals, ecosystems etc.

14 14 Citizenship and rights Historically, some categories of people have been regarded as not human or only part human. Examples? (2 min brainstorm) Despite the rhetoric of universality and ahistoricism of rights, many people have been excluded from human rights protection because: –They have been seen as not human –They were not regarded as citizens of states that would uphold their rights

15 15 The WHO working definition on sexual rights & The Yogyakarta Principles (10 mins reading)

16 16 Generations of rights 1 st generation rights Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) –Freedom from …torture, unjust detention etc. (negative rights) –Freedom to …education, rest & leisure, form & join trade unions etc. (positive rights) Generic rights for everyone, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (Article 2)

17 17 Highly normative assumptions on gender & sexuality (pre-dates sexual rights movements) Assumption of marriage occurring between men and women, with the purpose of founding a family … The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16)

18 18 2 nd generation rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – freedom of expression, association etc. (1976) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – right to work, social security etc. (1976) Both ICCPR & ICESCR adopted the same without distinction article as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

19 19 3 rd generation rights Positive rights focus; freedom to … Seek to establish new social and cultural norms Much harder to achieve consensus Examples include womens rights and sexual rights –Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979)

20 20 Dec 2008 UN stand-off on the proposed Declaration on Sexual Orientation The opposing document said the statement … could lead to "the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including paedophilia"

21 21 Examining WHO & Yogyakarta Who are the rights bearers in each document? What other actors are implicated? How would these rights be promoted and upheld? –This is usually incumbent on states. Is this the case here? (20 mins) Feedback (15 mins)

22 22 WHO & Yogyakarta (cont.) Focus questions: –What are the main differences between the two documents? –What are the strengths and weaknesses of the two? –Are there comparable notions of sexual rights in your country, either in law or public discourse? (15 mins) Feedback (15 mins) Wrap-up (5 mins)

23 23 Session 2. Problems in defining the bearers of sexual rights

24 24 Two examples Homosexual men, and heterosexual women Discuss: (10 mins) –How do we understand or define homosexual men? –Self-identification? Gay, or other? Practices? Genetics? –Who gets left out? –Do international (i.e. Western) definitions work in your cultural context?

25 25 When the Gay International incites discourse on homosexuality in the non-Western world, it claims that the liberation of those that it defends lies in the balance. In espousing this liberation project, the Gay International is destroying social and sexual configurations of desire in the interest of reproducing a world in its own image… Its missionary achievement, however, will be the creation not of a queer planet but rather a straight one. (Massad, J Re-orienting desire: the gay international and the Arab world. Public Culture 14(2): )

26 26 Discuss: (15 mins) –How do we define what a woman is? What about the SA runner Caster Semenya? –How does the international discourse of womens rights categorise what a woman is? –Who is left out of our definition? –Do international definitions work in your social and cultural context?

27 27 Defining rights bearers Discussion questions in 3 sets 1st set: 15 mins + 5 mins feedback 2nd set: 25 mins + 10 mins feedback 3rd set: 20 mins + 10 mins feedback

28 28 1 st set of questions Do sexual rights produce and promote particular kinds of rights bearers and not others? –If yes, give examples Are there people who fall outside the categories of bearers for sexual rights? What are some of the possible implications of this? Should we worry? (15 mins) Feedback (5 mins)

29 29 2 nd set of questions Remember WHO & the right to: choose a partner; decide to be sexually active or not; consensual sexual relations; consensual marriage Discuss these rights in relation to the following issues: –Arranged marriage –Polygamy –Sex work –Abstinence (as a religious doctrine) (25 mins) Feedback (10 mins)

30 30 Third set of questions Do men and women have different sexual rights? In what circumstances are they contradictory or complementary? (15 mins) Feedback (10 mins)

31 31 Session 3. How do sexual rights work?

32 32 Option 1: Hypothetical legal hearing (80 mins) The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Qumar has 4 wives, legally recognised in Qumari law. The United Nations will only recognise one wife for spousal benefits and the United States will only recognise the first wife for a residence visa The Ambassador takes his case to the UN Committee on Human Rights (read handout: 10 mins)

33 33 Form four teams: –Legal team representing the Ambassador –Legal team representing the UN –Legal team representing the US –UN Committee on Human Rights First three teams prepare arguments, while fourth team reviews the WHO definition of sexual rights and Yogyakarta Declaration (15 mins) Legal teams present their case to the UN Committee (15 mins) Each team prepares a response to the other arguments (5 mins) One member of each team presents the responses (15 mins total) The Committee adjourns, considers its response, declares which arguments were most and least persuasive, and why (10 mins) Review (10 mins)

34 34 Option 2: Case study (80 mins) Three stages: –Identify and clarify a real life issue of sexual rights –Explore the issue in depth –Develop a strategy for promotion of the issue & pursuit of rights

35 35 Example The Pink Chaddhi Campaign, India (2009) –Right-wing Hindu group behind physical and verbal attacks on women who violated traditional Indian values by being in a pub, or wearing jeans & sleeveless tops –Threats to attack unmarried couples found together on Valentines Day –Campaign urged women to send new or old pink underwear to Hindu cleric in protest Pink Chaddhi Facebook group has more than 48,000 members

36 36 Case study: Stage 1 What are the important sexual rights issues in your social and cultural context? –Brainstorm (15 mins) –List and rank (5 mins)

37 37 Stage 2: Exploring the issue Who is affected? Are they mobilised around the issue? Who are the other pertinent players and what power and resources do they have? How is public discourse on this issue shaped? What opposing arguments (or actions) are you likely to face, and how might you respond? What role might there be for human rights on this issue? What might be a starting place for action? (20 mins)

38 38 Stage 3: Strategising How would you begin to build a strategy around this issue? Who would you involve? How would you involve the rights bearers? What resources would you need? How would you go about obtaining them? What sort of events would assist? Where would the strategy roll out (geographically, places, internet)? When would it be best timed for maximum effect? (20 mins)

39 39 Case study report back Consider: –Can you see any elephant traps in your own or other peoples arguments? –Was it easy to build a case for the issue and to rebut any possible opposition, or more complicated than you may first have thought? –Are there potential problems or gaps in using a rights-based approach? –If so, how could this be remedied constructively? (20 mins total)

40 40 Conclusion Concept (and application) of human rights is not unproblematic – Rights presented as inalienable part of being human, but: Rely on recognition of and implementation by states and governments What happens when rights are denied, or when there is a conflict of rights, e.g. cultural rights can be claimed to support polygamy? –Rights that are seen to challenge norms need to be hard fought- for (e.g. proposed UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation)

41 41 Rights can be and have been both won and protected through civil action Using a rights framework can be an effective way of bringing issues to broader public attention –But only if we are reflective, strategic and well-prepared

42 42 Optional assessment exercise There is a need to make a distinction between global human rights, the rights attaching to citizens within nation states and the rights attaching to members of particular minorities of sub-cultures What might be the effects of deploying a sexual rights discourse in these different arena?

43 43 Module created by: –Dr Sean Slavin, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society Short course developed by: –The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia and –The International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) –With funding from The Ford Foundation Available under an Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike licence from Creative Commons

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