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여성인권(women’s human rights)은 1990년대 의 비엔나회의와 베이징대회를 필두로 국제사회의 핵심 담론과 페미니즘의 주요한 요구사항이 되었 다. 이 두 대회를 통해 여성인권 논의는 여성의 지 위향상에 크게 기여하였다고 하여 페미니즘 운동 의 기적으로 표현되기도 한다. 본 논문은 여성인권 이 실제로 기적이라고 불릴 만큼의 성과를 얻었는 지에 대한 문제제기로부터 시작한다. 논문은 여성 인권의 딜레마에 초점을 맞추어 이 논의를 비판적 으로 살펴본다. 여성에 대한 폭력으로 환원되는 여 성인권 논의는 다음의 세 가지 전제에 기초한다 - 1)여성은 공통된 경험을 가진다 2)문화는 여성에게 나쁘다 3)여성은 인간이다. 이러한 전제는 여성들 간의 차이와 다양성을 간과한다는 비판, 문화의 상 호보완적이고 긍정적인 영향력을 묵인한다는 비판, 그리고 여성에 대한 폭력의 구조적이고 집단 관계 적인 성격을 소홀히 한다는 비판의 대상이 된다. 논문에서는 각각의 전제와 이에 따른 비판을 보편 과 차이의 딜레마, 젠더와 문화의 딜레마, 집단과 개인의 딜레마로 분석한다. 여성인권이 무비판적 으로 수용되고 있는 현 시점에서 딜레마에 대한 해결에 앞서 이해가 우선되어야 함을 강조하며, 이 러한 딜레마를 이해함으로써 앞으로의 여성인권 논의가 풀어야하는 숙제를 결론에서 간략히 함의 한다.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the limitations of the women’s human rights discourse in international feminist and human rights scholarship. In particular, it focuses on dilemmas that the discourse creates. Since the 1990s women’s human rights has become one of major demands of feminist and human rights activists as well as theorists. Significantly they have claimed that violence against women should be a core issue of women’s human rights violations. Thus it is generally considered that the idea of women’s human rights has contributed to revisiting and broadening a traditional concept of human rights to address various women’s issues including, importantly, that of violence against women. Although I do not intend to dismiss accomplishments that the women’s human rights discourse has brought to improve the status of women, in this paper, however, I critically assess the discourse by analyzing its underlying assumptions: a) women have shared experiences; b) culture is bad for women; and c) women are human beings. I argue that these assumptions of women’s human rights engender dilemmas of universality-difference, gender-culture, and group-individual, respectively.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the limitations of the women’s human rights discourse in international feminist and human rights scholarship. In particular, it focuses on dilemmas that the discourse creates. Since the 1990s women’s human rights has become one of major demands of feminist and human rights activists as well as theorists. Significantly they have claimed that violence against women should be a core issue of women’s human rights violations. Thus it is generally considered that the idea of women’s human rights has contributed to revisiting and broadening a traditional concept of human rights to address various women’s issues including, importantly, that of violence against women. Although I do not intend to dismiss accomplishments that the women’s human rights discourse has brought to improve the status of women, in this paper, however, I critically assess the discourse by analyzing its underlying assumptions: a) women have shared experiences; b) culture is bad for women; and c) women are human beings. I argue that these assumptions of women’s human rights engender dilemmas of universality-difference, gender-culture, and group-individual, respectively.