Separation of Religion or Belief and State




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Issue:  Religion or Belief and Women’s Human Rights


For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society


Review: Religion and Women, Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times Op-Ed:  January 10, 2010


Excerpts: “Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetrate something that most of us regard as profoundly unethical: the oppression of women?


Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” former President Jimmy Carter noted in a speech last month to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Australia.


Mr. Carter, who sees religion as one of the ‘basic causes of the violation of women’s rights,’ is a member of The Elders, a small council of retired leaders brought together by Nelsen Mandela. The Elders are focusing on the role of religion in oppressing women, and they have issued a joint statement calling on religious leaders to ‘change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.


The Elders are not attacking religion as such noted Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and United Nations high commissioner for human rights. But she added, ‘We all recognized that if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”


1981 UN Declaration:


Discrimination between human beings on grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights, and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations.


UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences


Attachments: Religion and Women; The Killing of Witches