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  1. 1

    Rape as a metaphor for modernity.

    Banuri T

    Development. 1994; (1):6-9.

    The "rape of nature" is language out of context that does not serve the interests of the oppressed. The act of oppression can be gauged in terms of successful outcomes. The outcomes can be assessed in a variety of ways. Modernity can be taken as an "attitude that makes fair gain of any vulnerable group." The guiding principles can be confused with the manifestations of modernity. Modernity is taken within population, development, and gender discussions to justify itself. Blame for disfunction is diffused by blaming nonmodernity (for instance, the Nazis or the American slave owners, or the ignorant farmer or landholder, ancient patriarchal customs, male domination, religion, lack of modern knowledge). The solution to problems is modernity. Prior violence and oppression are used to justify continued violence and oppression. Population growth only becomes a problem when man as individual or collective entity loses the sense of the limits of nature. The environment is being destroyed by man's knowledge and the breakdown of barriers between man and nature. Modernity has brought with it political violence, intolerance, genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorization of whole societies, the epidemic of civil wars, and the persecution of minorities and other unwanted people. Humanity speaks in an impersonal voice; the alternative is to talk about technical things in a personal and embodied way. Rape is an apt description of modernity literally and metaphorically. Feminists demand the spoken language of women. Violence is the silencing of voices. Modernity has seen an increase in the violence towards nature, individuals, bodies, and communities. Knowledge is related to the privilege of an impersonal and objective attitude toward people or nature that predisposes violence. The thought is that superior knowledge will dominate nature. Vulnerable groups everywhere are armed to prevent the "never again" will we be the objects of violence. The use of rape in this context has the danger of potentially becoming an impersonal objectification. The alternative for sustainable development is to accept vulnerability and place ourselves in others' trust, which requires subjectivity, dialogue, and empowerment and local, national, and global governance to obstruct local tyrannies. Reciprocity of interests must prevail.
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  2. 2

    Political processes inside the women's movement.


    This newsletter article summarized discussions on political processes held at the International Women's Health Conference for Cairo 1994. Although the political activists who participated in these discussions differed in terms of tactics and strategies, they were united by their support for reproductive rights and committed to solidarity against practices that dehumanize women. A key debate concerns working inside or outside of the official International Conference on Population and Development process. As long as women are able to maintain their own agenda, avoid co-optation, remain accountable to their constituencies, and not use their power to discredit those on the outside, there is potential for working inside of official bodies. Needed is a balanced scenario, where insiders are empowered by backing from the broader women's movement and outsiders benefit from having their voices heard inside the corridors of power. Women who work within population institutions must be especially vigilant that women's demands are not subsumed under population policies. Also resisted must be the practice of powerful international bodies to appoint, in a top-down manner, so-called experts on women's issues. Community and women's groups must hold female lobbyists and politicians accountable and monitor their actions. A crucial concept for the women's movement is transparency. This encompasses honesty, making commitments is public, clear rules in terms of decision making, and a strong commitment to shared values. Transparency implies acknowledging the power differentials that exist among women and struggling to transcend them through solidarity around a shared vision.
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