Sexuality and human rights

Actors and arguments

Authored by: Anissa Hélie

The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815367772
eBook ISBN: 9781351256568
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers issues of bodily and sexual rights, showing how notions of religion and culture can be used either to promote, or to hinder, gender equality and the human rights of women. It examines arguments deployed by conservative actors and proponents of the Muslim right in their ongoing attacks on the principle of universality, on the human rights framework and on international agreements. This chapter then briefly reviews some of the key advances secured by human rights defenders at the United Nations over the past 30 years, including the strengthening of women’s human rights movements in the 1990s, the emergence of sexual rights advocacy and the recognition of the roles played by non-state actors. Finally, it describes some of the strategies designed on the ground by feminist and gender-rights activists from Muslim contexts and argues for stronger engagement with the human rights framework. This provides the only available international forum whose aim is to hold states accountable for upholding and protecting both individual and collective rights.

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