Tuesday, July 18, 2017

USCIRF Issues Report On Women's Rights and Religious Freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday issued a new report titled Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities.  Here is the "Overview" section of the 14-page report:
Observing the synergies between FORB [Freedom of Religion or Belief] and women’s equality has not been made particularly straightforward by the architecture of international human rights law. The human rights sources that address FORB and women’s rights to equality are distinct, and emerged from the lobbying of separate constituencies.
This textually distinct basis is compounded by the thrust of the research and advocacy in women’s rights, which strongly highlights that violations to women’s rights are carried out in the name of religion, or at least that violations to women’s rights are excused or postponed due to the intransigence of religious tradition and culture, whether perpetuated by state or non-state actors or a combination thereof. This serves to exacerbate the (mis)perception of a necessary and inevitable clash between women’s rights to equality and FORB.
The juxtaposition of these two allegedly conflicting rights is conceptually untenable and counterproductive.  It violates the universality of human rights in and of itself, since unless there is a holistic approach to human rights, its “indivisibility” and “interdependence” is denied. Furthermore, it fails to provide full redress to all, since it forces female claimants to “choose” to advance their right to either equality or FORB.
The purpose of this paper is to seek to identify synergies as well as complexities between FORB and the right to women’s equality through the analysis of various international human rights law documents impacting this topic.