Introduction: Gender Violence And Human Rights In The .

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Introduction: GenderViolence and Human Rightsin the Western PacificAletta Biersack and Martha MacintyreUniversity of Oregon and University of MelbourneIn October 2014, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who nearlydied from a Taliban gunshot wound sustained two years prior, butwho lived to address the UN on 12 July 2013, her 16th birthday,was named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.1 In her 2013 speechMalala defended every child’s right to an education, but her focusmore specifically was on the right of girls to an education as well as onwomen’s rights, because, as she said, women ‘are the ones who sufferthe most’.2 Even though Malala’s cause is girls’ education and the rightsof females more generally, she is the most potent global symbol ofanother cause: the cause of ending violence against all females, youngand old, in the name of human rights. Violence against females is notrestricted to Pakistan, of course. It ‘has epidemic proportions, andis present in every single country around the world’,3 occurring indeveloped, rich countries no less than in poorer developing countries.1‘Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai among winners of 2013 UN Human Rights Prize’, 2013,UN News Centre, 5 December.2‘Shot Pakistan schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai addresses UN’, 2013, BBC News Asia, 12 July.3Lydia Alpizar, executive director, the global feminist group Association for Women’s Rightsin Development, quoted in Somini Sengupta, 2015, ‘U.N. reveals “alarmingly high” levelsof violence against women’, New York Times, 9 March.1

Gender Violence & Human RightsMap 1. Western Pacific showing Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New GuineaSource. The Australian National University, CartoGIS ANU 16-244 KD2

IntroductionThe western Pacific is no stranger to violence against females.A recent incident of gender violence there—not of rape but ofsorcery accusation-related revenge murder4—attracted considerableinternational attention. Kepari Leniata, a young woman living withher husband, was accused of killing a six-year-old boy by occultmeans. In retaliation she was stripped, tortured, doused with petrol,and burned alive on a pile of tyres and trash at midday in Mt Hagen,the third largest city in Papua New Guinea. The police looked on,unable to control the murderous mob.5 A photograph of a crowdarrayed around a fire known to be consuming Ms Leniata circulatedon the internet and was printed in newspapers worldwide. The PrimeMinister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, was quick to denouncethe ‘despicable act’6 and vowed to repeal the Sorcery Act of 1971,which criminalised sorcery, thus implying such acts were efficacious,and which recognised sorcery as a defence in murder cases of allegedsorcerers, to the same effect.7 Within days of Ms Leniata’s immolation,both the UN and Amnesty International urged immediate action toprevent further such killings and to bring the killers of Ms Leniatato justice.8 The immolation of Ms Leniata galvanised public opinionunder the banner of a ‘Remembering Kepari Leniata Campaign’, acampaign that has been pursued in the public spaces of Port Moresby,in global cities, and on Facebook.9Gender Violence and Human Rights enquires into gender violenceand the efficacy of human rights advocacy and related reformiststrategies in three western Pacific countries: Fiji, Papua New Guineaand Vanuatu. The term ‘gender violence’ is inspired by Sally EngleMerry’s Human Rights and Gender Violence and Gender Violence:4 As many readers will know, sorcery refers to covert activity designed to damage its target bydeploying a range of supernatural techniques. Anthropologists of Africa sharply distinguishedsorcery from witchcraft in terms of whether the act was conscious and intentional (sorcery) ornot (witchcraft). In this writing, we use the term sorcery to cover both forms of occult violence.5Meredith Bennett-Smith, 2013, ‘Accused “witch” Kepari Leniata burned alive by mobin Papua New Guinea’, Huffington Post, 7 February.6Ibid.7Matt Siegel, 2013, ‘Papua New Guinea acts to repeal sorcery law after strife’, New YorkTimes, 29 May.8‘UN urges Papua New Guinea to take action after woman burned alive for witchcraft’, 2013,UN News Centre, 8 February.9See Biersack, ‘Human rights work in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu’, this volume.3

Gender Violence & Human RightsA Cultural Perspective.10 Merry defines gender violence as ‘violencewhose meaning depends on the gendered identities of the parties.It is an interpretation of violence through gender. For example,when a blow is understood as a man’s right to discipline his wife,it is gender violence.’11 Unlike another term sufficiently widespreadthat it is recognisable in acronymic form—’Violence AgainstWomen’ or ‘VAW’—‘gender violence’, like ‘gender-based violence’,encompasses violence against children, the girl child in particular, aswell as violence against males. As used here, the term is synonymouswith ‘gender-based violence’, ‘sexual violence’ and ‘family and sexualviolence’, a phrase that enjoys currency in Papua New Guinea. In thewestern Pacific women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims ofgender violence, the perpetrators being overwhelmingly male. In thisvolume we focus on violence against females, including girls (femalesunder 18 years).Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are postcolonial nations operatingin a global arena in which human rights doctrine is widely acceptedand promoted. The three countries constitutionally guarantee genderequality and have ratified the key instrument for promoting women’srights globally: the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms ofDiscrimination against Women (CEDAW). They have also ratified theConvention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a convention or treatythat is crucial to combatting gender violence in the western Pacific,where rape victims are often underage.The global context for human rights advocacy is the ‘internationalhuman rights regime’,12 a regime that articulates with ‘transnationalhuman rights networks’ or ‘transnational advocacy networks’13(Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.). The regime isphilosophically undergirded by human rights ideology, which alleges10 Sally Engle Merry, 2006, Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Lawinto Local Justice, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press; and Sally Engle Merry, 2009,Gender Violence: A Cultural Perspective, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.11 Merry, Gender Violence, p. 3.12 This term is adopted from Jack Donnelly, 1986, ‘International human rights: A regimeanalysis’, International Organization 40(3): 599–642. The contours of this regime are discussed inthe next section and also in Jean Zorn, ‘Translating and internalising international human rightslaw: The courts of Melanesia confront gendered violence’, this volume.13 Kathleen Keck and Margaret Sikkink, 1998, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks inInternational Politics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. See also Mary Kaldor, 2003, Global CivilSociety: An Answer to War, Malden, MA: Polity Press.4

Introductionuniversality and which views any doctrine that deviates from it asmerely ‘local’ and aberrant. Thus, it sets itself against many of theworld’s cultural orders, which are viewed as obstacles in its path.How, if at all, does such a regime come to have an impact on genderviolence in the western Pacific, which, despite protracted contact and acolonial history, remains significantly different culturally from Europeand America? To begin to answer that question requires examining thedynamics of human rights work or practice—efforts to transfer acrossnational and cultural borders human rights ideology and the moralityand behaviour it enjoins. Are such transfers contested and blocked,and, if so, by whom and for what reason? What conditions, ideologicalbut also social, economic and political, are conducive to the reductionof gender violence and the promotion of gender equality?Addressing such questions is timely, because the UN-anchored humanrights movement has shifted from the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) of 2000 as a framework for global rights-based initiativesto a ‘post-2015 development agenda’ rooted in the SustainableDevelopment Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assemblyin September 2015 and in effect since 1 January 2016. Drawing onlessons learned from efforts to implement the MDGs,14 the newframework envisions a ‘world in which every woman and girl enjoysfull gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to theirempowerment have been removed’.15 As social scientists who have doneconsiderable place-based research in the western Pacific, it behooves usto take stock of the successes and failures of human rights work in thewestern Pacific as the new SDGs take hold. What specifically have beenFiji’s, Papua New Guinea’s and Vanuatu’s strategies for fulfilling thethird MDG of achieving gender equality and empowering women andhave they been effective? Has human rights ideology travelled acrossnational-cum-cultural borders or has such movement been impeded orredirected? Are the alternatives of flow and blockage comprehensive,or does admixture and commingling occur at the various thresholdsites that human rights practices in the western Pacific create?14 See Naomi M. McPherson (ed.), 2016, Missing the Mark? Women and the MillenniumDevelopment Goals in Africa and Oceania, Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press.15 United Nations, 2015, ‘Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainabledevelopment’, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, A/RES/70/1, item 8.5

Gender Violence & Human RightsIn tackling such questions, the writings of Sally Engle Merry andMark Goodale, among others, provide invaluable guidance, andwe will consult these in a section titled ‘The global circulation ofhuman rights ideology’. Several contributors question the adequacyof human rights–based approaches to gender violence, and we notethe contradictions and weaknesses of the international human rightsregime, including its inattention to the social, political and economicfactors that militate against women securing their rights. Studyinggender violence and human rights in the western Pacific opens upa fruitful space for ethnographic enquiry, a tool widely utilised in thesocial sciences to explore situated practices and their complexities innon-teleological ways, and we identify such a research agenda. Finally,we introduce the contributions to this collection, highlighting howthey help us understand the dynamics of rights-based initiativesdesigned to reduce if not eliminate gender violence in the westernPacific.The international contextThe UN-centred international human rights regimeThe international human rights regime is UN-centred and relies on‘conventions’ or ‘treaties’ such as CEDAW (1979) and CRC (1989) aswell as on ‘state party’ ratifiers of these to advance human rightscauses.16The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminationagainst Women or CEDAW17 is the key convention when it comesto women’s rights. As a response to World War II, the internationalhuman rights regime sought to curb state atrocities. With CEDAWthe definition of human rights violations was expanded to includeviolations beyond ‘state violations of civil and political liberties’.18CEDAW builds upon the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human16 Donnelly, ‘International human rights’, p. 605. See also Zorn, ‘Translating and internalisinginternational human rights law’.17 UN, 1979, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW).18 Charlotte Bunch, 1990, ‘Women’s rights as human rights: Toward a re-vision of humanrights’, Human Rights Quarterly 12(4): 486–98.6

IntroductionRights: (Article 1) ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignityand rights’; and (Article 2) ‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights andfreedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of anykind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or otheropinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.19By the same token, CEDAW opposes ‘any distinction, exclusion orrestriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purposeof impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise bywomen, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality ofmen and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in thepolitical, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field’ (Article 1).Most states (but notably not the US) have ratified CEDAW. As ratifiers,these states are expected to ‘modify the social and cultural patterns ofconduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the eliminationof prejudices and customary and all other practices which are basedon the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes oron stereotyped roles for men and women’ (Article 5a). Each ratifyingstate is obliged to report periodically to the CEDAW Committee:a committee of ‘experts’ convened at the UN in New York City to reviewsuch reports, pinpoint human rights violations and deficiencies, andmake recommendations for further human rights work, thus placingratifying states under close surveillance.Gender violence was not originally considered a form of discriminationagainst women, but, as Jean Zorn reports in her contribution to thisvolume, in 1989 the CEDAW Committee declared it would treat genderviolence as such. CEDAW is supplemented by the 1993 Declaration onthe Elimination of Violence against Women,20 the preamble of whichasserts that ‘violence against women constitutes a violation of the rightsand fundamental freedoms of women and impairs or nullifies theirenjoyment of those rights and freedoms’.21 The Declaration enjoinsstates to ‘condemn violence against women’ and not to ‘invoke anycustom, tradition, or religious consideration to avoid their obligationswith respect to its elimination’ (Article 4). States should proceed‘without delay’ in pursuing a policy of this elimination (Article 4).19 UN, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993, A/RES/48/104.20 Ibid.21 The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women includes violence againstchildren as an aspect of violence against women (Article 2a).7

Gender Violence & Human RightsLike CEDAW, the Declaration ‘has no binding force’,22 but it ‘does havethe moral force of world consensus’.23 In 1994, the UN Commissionon Human Rights created a ‘special rapporteur’ position devoted toviolence against women with the intention of enlarging the scope ofthe UN’s human rights mission to include the eradication of violence—not just ‘discrimination’—against women. The Special Rapporteur onViolence against Women travels to gender violence hot spots, collectsinformation on violence against women and makes recommendationsto mitigate this violence.24 Since 2006, this special rapporteur has filedher report with the UN Human Rights Council. In 1999, to promotegender violence awareness and public commitment to its eradication,the UN declared 25 November the International Day for the Eliminationof Violence against Women and initiated the ‘16 Days of Activismagainst Gender Violence Campaign’. This annual campaign runs from25 November to 10 December (International Human Rights Day) andis staged around the world to call attention to the unfinished taskof eliminating violence against women.Gender violence in the western Pacific affects girls and not justwomen, and for this reason the Convention on the Rights of theChild,25 which was passed in 1989, is a necessary addition to thehuman rights arsenal for protecting females in the western Pacific. CRCmakes ‘the best interests of the child [defined as under 18 (Article 1)]a primary consideration’ (Article 3.1), and requires state party ratifiers‘to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his orher well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or herparents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible forhim or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative andadministrative measures’ (Article 3.2). Article 34 enjoins state ratifiersof CRC to ‘undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexualexploitation and abuse’, while other articles focus on the nonsexualabuse of children.222324258Merry, Human Rights and Gender Violence, p. 23.Ibid.Ibid.UN, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

IntroductionTransnational forcesThe creation of the UN in the wake of World War II constituted aresponse to ‘the tragic failure of the sovereignty-based system ofinternational relations’ as exemplified in the atrocities of particularstates and the failure of the international system at that time tocurb them.26 The impetus of the founding generation was thusanti-nationalist: to support human beings in their struggle againstoppressive states. Indeed, the international human rights systemupholds universal ‘human, rather than [parochial] national or political,principles’.27 As Mark Goodale has pointed out, the internationalhuman rights regime is philosophically ‘transnationalist or perhapseven “postnationalist”’.28Little wonder that the international human rights regime operatestoday in league with ‘transnational human rights networks’ or‘transnational advocacy networks’29 comprised of non-governmentalentities dedicated to the global promotion of a human rights agendaand serving as watchdogs and whistle-blowers where human rightshave been violated. Such networks are autonomous from state systemsand inter-state systems such as the UN. ‘The key distinction between“transnational” and “international” is the fact that “transnational”describes a set of connections, social relations, economic networks, andso on that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state.’30 The actorswithin such networks operate without regard for political or culturalborders and independently of nationalist sentiment. In their quest torealise ‘transnational human rights [emphasis added]’,31 they operateaccording to logics that are ‘starkly different’32 from political andstate logics: the logic of human rights per se. Such open-ended, nonstate-based networks provide platforms for a variety of sympathetic26 Mark Goodale, 2009, ‘Introduction: Human rights and anthropology’, in Human Rights:An Anthropological Reader, ed. M. Goodale, pp. 1–19, Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell,p. 5. See also Mark Goodale, 2013, ‘Human rights after the post–cold war’, in Human Rights atthe Crossroads, ed. Mark Goodale, pp. 1–28, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 12–13.27 Mark Goodale, 2009, Surrendering to Utopia: An Anthropology of Human Rights, Stanford:Stanford University Press, p. 98.28 Ibid., p. 93.29 Ibid., p. 92.30 Ibid., p. 97.31 Ibid., p. 96 and passim.32 Ibid., p. 97. Goodale favours the term ‘transnational human rights system’ or ‘regime’ toDonnelly’s term ‘international human rights regime’ to de-emphasise the role of states and toemphasise instead transnational network connections among people and groups.9

Gender Violence & Human Rightsagents, not only civil society organisations and ‘transnational elites’33but activists of all stripes (including social scientists) to promotehuman rights.The global circulation of humanrights ideology‘Translation’ and ‘vernacularisation’With this as background, we call upon Sally Engle Merry’s terms‘translation’ and ‘vernacularization’ to imagine how ideologicaltransfer might happen and the pitfalls of the process.34 Merry’sgroundbreaking research on the international human rights regimetook her to the UN, where she observed the deliberations of the CEDAWCommittee, the committee that reviews the periodic reports submittedto it by countries that have ratified CEDAW. She concluded that UNhuman rights workers thought of custom or culture as a barrier tochange.35 For them, culture belonged ‘to the domain of the primitiveand the backward, in contrast to the civilizatio

human rights networks’ or ‘transnational advocacy networks’13 (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.). The regime is philosophically undergirded by human rights ideology, which alleges 10 Sally Engle Merry, 2006, Human Rights an