Yesterday Norway officially made the UN’s womens’ convention (is that the correct English) part of Norwegian law, along with other anti-discrimination law, and there’s a new ombudsman for discrimination. Discrimination has been illegal in Norway for ages, but it’s now all neatly tied up and collected. Unfortunately they didn’t make the anti-discrimination laws part of the human rights legislation. No, no, they’re part of the equal rights laws, which makes sense, right, cos it’s about women and minorities and stuff, not humans, and guess what, human rights take precedence. Now, religious freedom is conveniently defined as a human right, and so takes precedence to discrimination. That means that priests and imans may still discriminate against women, homosexuals and other minorities.

Sneaky bastards.

(learned in an Oslo cafÈ from Marie Simonsen’s commentary today in (print) Dagbladet’s page 3)

4 thoughts on “women’s rights or human rights

  1. Jose Angel

    So “human rights” means something like “rights a white male might or might not have” and then “equal rights” come running behind to try and catch up with the human? Sounds like a contradictory way of conceiving “equality”.

  2. Jill

    Yes, it doesn’t seem particularly fair, does it. Admittedly I’m basing my entire understanding of the matter on Marie Simonsen’s rendition, but it sounds pretty idiotic.

  3. Jesper

    The declaration of human rights does include a discrimination clause (7).
    We could phrase the question in another way: What does it say about a culture that it has general rules for protecting humans against discrimination, specific laws for protecting women against discrimination, but no specific laws for protecting men against discrimination?

    I used to wonder whether men-only obligatory military service wasn’t in conflict with human rights and anti-discrimination – I am obliged to die for my country – but as I understand most countries have exception clauses (I can’t remember the exact phrasing) that makes it OK to do gender discrimination in the case of military service. Who has the short end of the stick?

  4. Jill

    Jesper, the point is that Norway is only now ratifying the UN’s 1999 human rights conventions and making them part of Norwegian law. There are six conventions, about:

    • economical, social and cultural rights
    • civil and political rights
    • childrens’ rights
    • women’s rights (gender discrimination)
    • the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race
    • torture
    • Norway has included the first three in our own human rights legislation, which has a position between the constitution and other laws. That means, as far as I’ve been able to understand, that politicians cannot easily change these laws. The fourth and fifth are being discussed now, and are for some reason not to be included in the same portion of the law, but as one of the regular laws. It seems it’s rather like CSS: if these less-important rules don’t mesh well with these other more important rules, then the more important rules take precedence. In this case, womens’ rights and rights of ethnical minorties are deemed to be less important laws that yield if higher legislation should be in conflict.

      There’s a good and informative article about this in the latest edition of Reply

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