Gender, Planning, and Human Rights

Gender, Planning, and Human Rights

Gender, Planning, and Human Rights

Gender, Planning, and Human Rights

Synopsis

This collection challenges the traditional treatment of human rights. The book argues that to truly promote the notion of human rights its scope must be widened to include issues of space, gender and power. The contributors use a wealth of international case studies to lay out a new agenda for successfully integrating human rights issues in planning, development and policy making.

Excerpt

This book is about the geographies and spatialities of human rights. It aspires to challenge the traditional treatments of human rights that are cast exclusively in legal frameworks by arguing that, in order to promote the notion of human rights, its geographies and spatialities must be investigated and become more explicit. The rationale behind this argument is that space is more than relevant for understanding human rights violations. Some of the most brutal and cruel cases of human rights abuse are connected to the lack of freedom to move in space by imprisonment at home, whether it is enforced physically or psychologically through fear and terrorism or imposed by rules and the cultural meanings of spaces. One of the major concerns of the human rights discourse is the practice of locking up women or prohibiting them from moving freely in their environment in order to ensure their faithfulness and modesty, while their husbands are free to move around. The right to work and the right to political participation are also abused because of lack of freedom to move in space (Nussbaum 1995). Fear of violence makes women avoid certain spaces. Should women go to a bar for a drink, as men do, the response may be sexual terrorism. Men’s control over public space in the evening makes even western women fear male violence, deterring most of them from being independent despite their professional success. Women’s inhibited use and occupation of public space is seen as a spatial expression of patriarchy (Bunch 1995, Valentine 1989) and as a violation of human rights. This situation shows that space is never neutral; instead, it affects and is affected by social and power relations in society.

That is why, until now, voices criticising the legal exclusivity in human rights discourse have argued that male dominance such as this makes freedom of movement impossible and encroaches upon socio-economic rights. Hence, other approaches, apart from litigation, are needed to promote human rights (Gomez 1995). This is exactly what this book suggests. It provides another, perhaps new, channel for promoting and implementing human rights in planning and development—via understanding of their spatialities.

The discourse about planning, especially for multicultured societies, has

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