Polswatch

Outlining a Progressive Future

Sexual Rights Under Serious Threat

Two recent news stories have seriously troubled me. The first is a law recently passed in Afghanistan that states that women must have sex with their husband at least once every four days (if the husband so chooses) and cannot leave the house without him.

The second is that of a recent spate of violence in Iraq where at least six gay men have been shot in a region that is a popular ‘gay area’. This area was also set on fire. 

There is not much I am going to say on these two stories apart from that this proves that we need to continue the fight for sexual rights all around the world. Whilst some might say that having the world ‘impose’ their views on these issues is just a form of neo-colonialism, I argue that we must stand up for human rights, no matter where in the world they are being violated. 

How can we make things better?

Before I start on these questions I would like to note that it is often difficult to talk about issues such as this without sounding like I am talking about ‘others’ who are ‘backwards’. I therefore write this acknowledging this problem and trying as much as possible to mitigate it, whilst realising that it isn’t completely possible. Although I can’t provide all the answers on these issues I see two ways that things could be made better in these areas.

International Pressure:

There is no doubt that considerable international pressure would be an effective tool to enforce changes in these two areas, especially in regards to the laws in Afghanistan. Whilst a significant amount of pressure has been put on Hamid Karzai to repeal these laws the majority of this pressure has generally lacked any teeth (apart from threats from Italy). This could easily lead to a situation where the Afghani Government simply rides out the storm until the rest of the world forgets about it and moves on, leaving the laws in place. If government’s however backed up their pressure with actual threats (i.e. removing political aid/support (as I don’t believe removing economic aid is ever a fair or justified response)) then we could easily see these laws repealed. However, for this to genuinely occur, serious pressure needs to be applied in nations for their states to apply this pressure, which can only occur through a mobilisation of the human rights movement (through currently occurring campaigns).

Supporting Organisations within countries

I think it is a worldwide myth that there are no women’s or queer organisations in ‘third world’ countries, which is based around the view the rest of the world has of the people in these nations as being ‘backwards’. However, when looking deeper one can see thriving organisations fighting for human and sexual rights. If we are to believe that change can only occur from within a country (as many neo-colonialist theorists will tell us), then we must assume that providing support (monetary, personnel, political etc.) would be a good way of helping create serious change in these areas. This support could not only occur through nation states, but also through NGOs, international pressure groups (i.e. Avaaz.com) and private donors. It is this measure that would probably be more successful in the cases in Iraq, which do not (that I know of) involves any legislative matters, but is more about community discrimination and stigma. 

Through these two measures I believe we can start implementing change. As wealthy nations, I think the first world needs to avoid neo-colonialism as much as possible and should at all avoid enforcing policies upon other nations. However at some time we need to recognise when fundamental human rights are being violated and simply not stand up for that. This is what is occurring in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places around the world (I note here that this isn’t limited to third world countries) and we as citizens of the world should not stand up to it. 

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April 6, 2009 - Posted by | Human Rights, Options for a Progressive Future |

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