Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Muslim Women

Decent Essays
Howard-Hassman (2011, 440) states that, “While women, like men, have an interest in enjoying ‘an elemental capacity for self-direction,’ the importance of this capacity is not conceded by all cultures.” It is important to note the significant influence culture has on women’s rights issues. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) raised a variety of questions dealing with the inference of the term “universal.” It infers that the declaration is meant to represent human rights in all countries, including those that are non-Western with highly complex cultures and societies. By creating this agreement and applying it as universal it has the “contradictory effect of undermining communities’ autonomous rights to enjoy their own culture.” Additionally, in looking at historic actions of Western countries Anthropologists were concerned that the UDHR was a “series of attempts by the West to impose its values on other societies.” This can very well be the case because of the many debates that occurred surrounding women’s rights and female genital mutilation practices. Many criticized Western scholars claiming that they could not “legitimately criticize ‘traditional’ practices that seemed to violate women’s rights.” The context in which cultural practices are birthed are placed within the social construct of the origin society. One cannot possibly understand the human rights implications of another cultures if they don’t understand the culture as a participant. Also, there
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