The Abuse of Women’s Rights: Perspectives from Psychology and Gender Studies

By Carlie D. Trott and Silvia Sara Canetto.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The rights of women are violated in every society in the world, often with no consequences for perpetrators. This lack of consequence is especially common when violations of women’s rights are a longstanding practice in a culture. Violations of women’s rights classified as “harmful cultural/traditional practices” include female genital cutting, juvenile marriage, dowry murder, and murder in the name of “honor.” A factor contributing to the persistence of these women’s rights abuses is that many take place in the context of the family rather than between the individual and the state. As “private” matters, they are often beyond the reach of national and international law. Another factor contributing to the persistence of these women’s rights violations is that they are defended as cultural practices to be supported in the name of cultural diversity. A third factor is that women often participate in the perpetration of many women’s rights abuses. Psychology as a discipline has been slow to engage with issues of human rights and the universal rights of women. However, psychology has knowledge and methods relevant to understanding human rights violations. Gender studies within and beyond psychology have also accumulated a body of knowledge important to understanding and preventing violations of women’s rights. This literature review discusses the causes and consequences of several common cultural practices violating women’s rights, identifies social factors contributing to the persistence of these practices, and considers psychological and gender studies theories and research that can serve as the scientific foundation for the protection and advancement of women’s rights.

Keywords: Cultural Practices Harmful to Women, Women’s Rights, Psychological Distance,, Internalized Oppression

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 332.198KB).

Carlie D. Trott

Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Ms. Trott is a graduate student of applied social psychology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA. Her research focuses on gender, culture, sexuality, and human rights topics.

Dr. Silvia Sara Canetto

Professor, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Dr. Canetto is a professor of psychology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA. Her research focuses on cultural norms, beliefs, and narratives of gender, particularly in the areas of human rights, suicidal behaviors, and the pursuit of careers in science and engineering.