UN Women Calls Families “Dark” Place for Women

Jul 11, 2019 by

by Susan Yoshihara, C-Fam:

Are divorce, cohabitation, same sex marriage, out of wedlock birth and adolescent sex good for women? The latest report from UN Women considers them “a positive reflection of women’s empowerment.” UN Women calls family life “an ambivalent space for women and girls.”

“Families can have a darker side: they can be places of violence and discrimination, spaces where women and girls are often denied the resources they need, where they sometimes eat least and last and where their voices are stifled and their autonomy is denied,” the report says, concluding, “As such, the recognition of families as an ambivalent space for women and girls has been at the heart of this Report.”

Along with darkness and ambivalence, the report is notable for its pragmatic approach to rights, in particular to polygamy. The report acknowledges that human rights law comes down against polygamy and that it is bad for women. Yet it defers to the African human rights document, the Maputo Protocol, which concludes that it is not “pragmatic” to try to change polygamy laws altogether.

This contrasts with the report’s approach to laws recognizing same sex marriage, which the report posits are good for women because they erode the patriarchal nature of the family.

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