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

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10 Scopus citations


Exposing food violences - hunger, malnutrition, and poisoning from environmental mismanagement - requires policy action that confronts the structured invisibility of these violences. Along with the hidden deprivation of food is the physical and political isolation of critical knowledge on food violences and needs, and for policy strategies to address them. I argue that efforts dedicated on behalf of a human right to food can benefit from the theoretical analysis and activist work of the international Women's Rights are Human Rights (WRHR) movement. WRHR focuses on women and girls; the food rights movement operates on behalf of all people, with an emphasis on the poor. Both attend to the protection of bodily integrity against physical and psychic violences. Both cope with bodily violences that are socially privatized and spatially segregated from public institutions of relief, that is, they are tacitly omitted from public discourse and purview. Most typically, but not exclusively, these violences unfold in private household space. Both rights movements must mobilize political rights to demand economic and social rights and security. I introduce the United Nations' early Declaration (1948) and Covenant (1966) language on the human right to food and review problems of household access and grassroots engagement that are "written into" this early documentation. An abbreviated overview of the WRHR movement describes how the public/private and economic/political rights dichotomies have been critiqued and re-formulated. A case study set in Poland across the transition from (more) communist to (more) capitalist political economies attempts to illuminate the discussion through a grounded example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-279
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cold war
  • Food policy
  • Food security
  • Group rights
  • Human rights
  • Poland
  • Political and economic rights
  • Right to food
  • Transition
  • Women's rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • History
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Environmental Science


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