CEDAW and the legality of religious instituions.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and can be seen as an international bill of rights for women. All countries that have accepted the Convention are compelled to follow up with a series of measures that would end all forms of discrimination against women. If the purpose of CEDAW is to end all acts of discrimination against women by organizations, then we would be compelled to include organizations that propagate religion in the public domain as mostly and often, these religious bodies propound theology that is comfortably couched in misogyny, thereby validating a heightened sense of machismo as being endemic to human behaviour. Undoubtedly and what is obvious is that any nation that is a participant to CEDAW is legally bound to examine and interrogate the role that is played by these religious organizations in normalising misogyny and in also disseminating these ideas in the public domain on a daily basis.
This is a call for papers for literary and feminist scholars, and legal theorists; the focus is on interrogating the "sacred" texts that are disseminated in religious institutions with the aim to question as to why misogyny should be construed as being intrinsic to "revealed knowledge." Subsequently, the impetus would be to initiate legal steps that would compel and coerce religious institutions all across the world to acknowledge that misogyny from religion should be erased.
Within the Indian context, any institution/organization that propagates the Hindu religious texts – is complicit in acts of perpetuating misogyny in an institutionalised manner. Why is it that feminists and economists and development scholars never analyse how these religious institutions work in creating a social order which entrenches misogyny in the psyche of all citizens? If India is a signatory to CEDAW, should not the nation also ensure that all organizations – religious and secular – be not involved in any form of discrimination against women?
Moreover, if such caste-ist and sex-ist discourse is allowed to function in the public realm, and misogyny ridden social dictums are equated with notions of Existence and Hindu theology, it tantamounts to being unconstitutional and comprises a flagrant violation of one of the Fundamental Rights that has been granted in India, namely, Article15 of the Constitution of India and is the Right to Equality, and aims towards undoing all discriminatory practises.
How we, that is, women – eat, breathe, dress and conduct ourselves and the kinds of labor that we are allowed to perform – are codified and seen as intrinsic to the Hindu shastras. The realm of religion, indeed, is the privilege of men. And indeed, it would not be salacious to argue that self-identifying Brahmin men and those who function in the religious institutions and are the so-called custodians of Hindu dharma are mostly myopic; they are unable to distinguish between what constitutes "revealed knowledge" about Existence and Brahman and Creation, and temporal gender-caste based social modes of being. What prevents the government of India (which is also a signatory to CEDAW) from slapping legal cases against these religious institutions as they propound unconstitutional rhetoric that, in all respects, violates our Fundamental Rights that are embedded within the Indian Constitution?
Literary and feminist scholars and legal theorists should involve themselves in coercing all religious institutions to undo their so-called God-given privilege, so that socio-cultural parity can be achieved. For more information, please write to Tapati Bharadwaj at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for abstracts: June 30, 2016. The collection will be published by Lies and Big Feet, an Independent Publishing house. (www.liesandbigfeet.wordpress.com)