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

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Abstract

Exposing food violences – hunger,malnutrition, and poisoning from environmentalmismanagement – requires policy action thatconfronts the structured invisibility of theseviolences. Along with the hidden deprivation offood is the physical and political isolation ofcritical knowledge on food violences and needs,and for policy strategies to address them. Iargue that efforts dedicated on behalf of ahuman right to food can benefit from thetheoretical analysis and activist work of theinternational Women's Rights are Human Rights(WRHR) movement. WRHR focuses on women andgirls; the food rights movement operates onbehalf of all people, with an emphasis on thepoor. Both attend to the protection of bodilyintegrity against physical and psychicviolences. Both cope with bodily violences thatare socially privatized and spatiallysegregated from public institutions of relief,that is, they are tacitly omitted from publicdiscourse and purview. Most typically, but notexclusively, these violences unfold in privatehousehold space. Both rights movements mustmobilize political rights to demand economicand social rights and security. I introduce theUnited Nations' early Declaration (1948) andCovenant (1966) language on the human right tofood and review problems of household accessand grassroots engagement that are ``writteninto'' this early documentation. An abbreviatedoverview of the WRHR movement describes how thepublic/private and economic/political rightsdichotomies have been critiqued andre-formulated. A case study set in Polandacross the transition from (more) communist to(more) capitalist political economies attemptsto illuminate the discussion through agrounded example.