Are Women People?
Meanwhile, the proposed and updated Convention Against Sexual Exploitation represents women collectively and individually, requiring protections, sanctions, and support programs for victims. And it is the least we should expect.
Conventions are international treaties. The proposed Convention Against Sexual Exploitation would not be the first United Nations convention to explicitly address women’s rights. The Convention on the Political Rights of Women was adopted as early as 1952 and was preceded by the convention on prostitution (1949). These were followed by several conventions and offical U.N. declarations to protect women’s rights in marriage (1957) and to protect women in children in armed conflict (declaration of 1974).
And as women know very very well, adding women to codified rights is not the same as actually protecting and promoting those rights for women. That is why, wiht this long and elaborate history of women’s rights codified but largely ignored by the United Nations, many of us held high hopes for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 and ratified by nation states beginning in 1980.
But as often happens when legislation turns to women, something is lost. The loss is first evident in the absence of moral outrage against violation of women. One of the effects of the long-term sexual colonisation of women’s bodies, of the advocacy of this colonization by sexual liberals, and of its institutionalization by sex industries, is that many women can barely grasp our right to moral outrage against sexual dehumanization. When the United Nations turns to women, emphasis on humans rights is narrowed and its commitments seem to fizzle. […]
The losses women suffered in CEDAW, adopted in the midst of a global women’s movement which raised sexual violence and exploitation to issues of primary importance, are that in relation to sexual exploitation it did not cover or include violence against women it simply reaffirmed the 1949 Convention on prostitution, a law that would have been useful had it been promulgated in 1890 but by the 1980s no longer addressed global sex industrialization and the normalization of prostitution.
Kathleen Barry, The Prostitution of Sexuality. The Global Exploitation of Women. pp. 316 and 309-311
CASE – Convention Against Sexual Exploitation (1994)
CASE – Convention Against Sexual Exploitation (October 2016)