Women's rights in Africa: an examination of African human rights systems in the context of CEDAW and the universalism versus cultural relativism debate.
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FATUROTI, B. 2016. Women's rights in Africa: an examination of African human rights systems in the context of CEDAW and the universalism versus cultural relativism debate. Journal of comparative law in Africa, 3(1), pages 149-176.
Many African women suffer discrimination on the grounds of their gender and other factors, such as religion, customs, age and marital status. They continue to be victims of harmful practices whose perpetrators are never held to account because the practices have their roots in cultural values and traditions. Attempts to initiate a change in human rights especially in relation to women, is countered with the argument which rejects the imposition of Western culture on other regions of the world. This argument is based on the premises that human rights should be tailored to people's cultural beliefs and therefore can never be universal. By comparing provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and with examples of African human rights instruments, this article investigates the influence of cultural relativism, if any, on the formulation of women's rights policies in African countries.