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Catharine MacKinnon: The Genocide of Women is An International Human Rights Crime

July 8, 2012

In the international crime of genocide, the sex-specific destruction of women is largely ignored.  No international crime recognizes what Diana Russell call[s] “femicide”the destruction of women as a group or as members of a group…

[However] genocide goes beyond war. It can, and does, take place in civil society and among non-combatants, outside any armed conflict proper.  It’s specific purpose is to end the existence of a people…It is a violent practice of discrimination. It is extreme inequality effectuated through systematic violence.

[Yet, because]…this abuse is inflicted by intimates [e.g. a relation -- parents, husband, relatives]…it is not considered a human rights violation.

The world [must] recognize that  violence against women violates human rights [and that] when the world says of [genocides] never again — not in war, not in peace — this time [it] means it.

Will the word “woman,” like the word “Jew” finally come to stand for a reality of abuse that cannot be forgotten…a principal of what cannot be done to a human being?

Catharine MacKinnon  is an American lawyer, a globally prominent legal activist for women’s rights and a professor of law.  Her ground-breaking book in 1979, “Sexual Harassment of Working Women,” which argued that sexual harassment is discrimination under Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964,  later formed the basis of  U.S. laws against sexual harassment.  She has contributed towards the forming of the Swedish model for addressing the issue of prostitution.  She is also the Special Gender Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court  at The Hague.  The above excerpt is from her book Are Women Human?

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