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Culture And Human Rights: How Can We Challenge ‘cultural’ Excuses For Gender-based Violence?

From Gender Across Borders

Gender Across Borders in collaboration with Violence is Not Our Culture: the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in the Name of ‘Culture’ would like to welcome you to the second part of a series exploring the relationship between culture and violence against women. This second series is a result of the many articles we received exploring the relationship between culture and violence against women that simply couldn’t be ignored.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines “violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Webster’s dictionary defines culture as “the behaviours and beliefs characteristic to a particular group.”

Throughout the world culture is employed to justify discrimination and violence against women. ‘Culture’ is used to impose control over women’s bodies, sexuality, emotions, decisions and actions, preventing them from expressing their own free will and enjoying their fundamental freedoms and human rights. Regardless, of who we are, where we are, we are all under the ‘control’ of ‘culture.’

Fortunately, culture is not homogenous or static; it evolves and changes over time. The personal narratives, journalistic articles, analytical pieces, critical essays and editorials that poured in from around the world on abusive and degrading practices towards women such as FGM, forced marriage, honour killings, polygamy, harmful menstruation rituals and much more demonstrate that cultural evolution and change starts with each one of us.

We can break harmful practices upheld by ‘tradition,’ claims of religious authority or cultural authenticity. I was, and remain, immensely moved and inspired by each contributor and I hope you will too!

Like Gender Across Borders on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and Tumblr.


Ethical Survival in an Unfair World: The Personal Challenges of Development Work in an Oppressive Culture
Redefining the Burqa: A Reflection from Afghanistan
Isn’t untouchability abolished? Why is the bleeding of the goddess sacred, while that of the mortals dirty?
My Life of Violence
The Horror Show: Crimes Against Women Around the World


Dear Breese,

Thank you for this article.

i just read this and realised how much i have suffered in silence because i thought, how will societies opinion of me be, if i left "my home", GBV Is real, I have been abused, physically, sexually and psycologically, economically deprived.

in my country - uganda - cohabiting is not recognised. my fear is, how will i cop in this society.

I am on board to break silence.

Kind regards


Breese's picture

Dear Cathy, I'm so sorry to

Dear Cathy,

I'm so sorry to hear about the terrible abuse you have suffered, but pleased that you read the article and it empowered you to speak up. This community is here to listen to your stories and support you. Stay strong!

Maddy M.'s picture

Dear Breese,I want to thank

Dear Breese,

I want to thank you and World Pulse again for the opportunity of having my article as part of this series. It was through PulseWire I learned about the call for writers from Gender Across Borders. They picked mine to be part of the series (The Horror Show: Crimes Against Women Around the World).


Breese's picture


Dear Madeline -
Congratulations!!! Is there a link to your story that you can share with us? I'm so proud and excited for you!

Maddy M.'s picture

Thank you, Breese!! I feel

Thank you, Breese!! I feel very grateful to World Pulse for that opportunity too. You have inspired me to do it. The link to my story is:


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