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Exposing violences: using women's human rights theory to reconceptualize food rights

By A. C. Bellows

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Exposing food violences (hunger, malnutrition, and poisoning from environmental mismanagement) requires policy action that confronts the structured invisibility of these violences. Along with the hidden deprivation of food is the physical and political isolation of critical knowledge on food violences and needs, and for policy strategies to address them. It is argued that efforts dedicated on behalf of a human right to food can benefit from the theoretical analysis and activist work of the international Women's Rights are Human Rights (WRHR) movement. WRHR focuses on women and girls; the food rights movement operates on behalf of all people, with an emphasis on the poor. Both attend to the protection of bodily integrity against physical and psychic violences. Both cope with bodily violences that are socially privatized and spatially segregated from public institutions of relief, that is, they are tacitly omitted from public discourse and purview. Most typically, but not exclusively, these violences unfold in private household space. Both rights movements must mobilize political rights to demand economic and social rights and security. I introduce the UN's early Declaration (1948) and Covenant (1966) language on the human right to food and review problems of household access and grassroots engagement that are "written into" this early documentation. An abbreviated overview of the WRHR movement describes how the public or private and economic or political rights dichotomies have been critiqued and reformulated. A case study set in Poland across the transition from (more) communist to (more) capitalist political economies in 1989 attempts to illuminate the discussion through a grounded example.

Date 2003
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 16
Issue 3
Pages 249-279
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/A:1023662211010
Language English
Author Address Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agencies and organizations
  2. Conflict
  3. Developed countries
  4. Economics
  5. Europe
  6. Food economics
  7. Food policy
  8. Food supply
  9. Human rights
  10. Hunger
  11. Laws and regulations
  12. Malnutrition
  13. Mammals
  14. OECD countries
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Poisoning
  17. Poland
  18. Policy and Planning
  19. politics
  20. Primates
  21. Social psychology and social anthropology
  22. socioeconomics
  23. Theories
  24. Women
  1. peer-reviewed