What Is Right for Children? The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights

  • ID: 1071861
  • August 2009
  • 462 Pages
  • Ashgate Publishing
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Combining feminist legal theory with international human rights concepts, this book examines the presence, participation and treatment of children in a variety of contexts. Specifically, through comparing legal developments in the US with legal developments in countries where the views that children are separate from their families and potentially in need of state protection are more widely accepted. The authors address the role of religion in shaping attitudes about parental rights in the US, with particular emphasis upon the fundamentalist belief in natural lines of familial authority. Such beliefs have provoked powerful resistance in the US to human rights approaches that view the child as an independent rights holder and the state as obligated to proved services and protections that are distinctly child-centred. Calling for a rebalancing of relationships within the US family, to become more consistent with emerging human rights norms, this collection contains both theoretical debates about and practical approaches to granting positive rights to children.

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Notes on Contributors


Introduction: What is Right for Children?
Martha Albertson Fineman

Part I Children’s Rights as Human Rights

1 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Empowering Parents to Protect Their Children’s Rights
Barbara Bennett Woodhouse and Kathryn A. Johnson

2 Child, Family, State, and Gender Equality in Religious Stances and Human Rights Instruments: A Preliminary Comparison
Linda C. McClain

3 Rhetoric, Religion, and Human Rights: “Save the Children!”
Barbara Stark

4 Feminist Fundamentalism on the Frontier between Government and Family Responsibility for Children
Mary Anne Case

Part II Children in the United States: The Legal Context

5 Using International Human Rights Law in US Courts: Lessons from the Campaign Against the Juvenile Death Penalty
Linda M. Keller

6 The Lesser Culpability of the Juvenile Offender: Trial in Adult Criminal Court, Incarceration with Adults, and Excessive Sanctions
Bernardine Dohrn

7 Parental Rights Doctrine: Creating and Maintaining Maternal Value
Annette R. Appell

8 Placing Children in Context: Parents, Foster Care, and Poverty
Naomi Cahn

9 Expanding the Parent–Child–State Triangle in Public Family Law: The Role of Private Providers
Susan Vivian Mangold

10 Advocating for Children’s Rights in a Lawless Nation: Articulating Rights for Foster Children
Barbara Bennett Woodhouse and Brooke Hardy

11 A Proposal for Collaborative Enforcement of a Federal Right to Education
Kimberly Jenkins Robinson

12 Taking Children’s Interests Seriously
Martha Albertson Fineman

Part III Comparisons: Children Within the Context of Human Rights

13 The Child’s Right to Religious Freedom in International Law: The Search for Meaning
Ursula Kilkelly

14 C lashing Rights and Welfare: A Return to a Rights Discourse in Family Law in the UK?
Shazia Choudhry

15 Accommodating Children’s Religious Expression in Public Schools: A Comparative Analysis of the Veil and Other Symbols in Western Democracies
Catherine J. Ross

16 Children, Education, and Rights in a Society Divided by Religion: The Perspectives of Children and Young People
Laura Lundy

17 Children, International Human Rights, and the Politics of Belonging
Alice Hearst

18 The Right of Children to Be Loved
S. Matthew Liao




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Martha Albertson Fineman is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory Law School. She is an internationally recognized law and society scholar and a leading authority on family law and feminist jurisprudence. She is founder and director of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project, which was inaugurated in 1984 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The Project has since followed Professor Fineman to Columbia and Cornell, where she also held tenured faculty appointments, including the first Chair in the country in Feminist Jurisprudence. In addition to directing the Feminism and Legal Theory Project, Professor Fineman has published extensively on issues relating to family law, and feminist jurisprudence. She has received awards for her writing and teaching and has served on several government study commissions. She teaches family law, feminist jurisprudence, law and sexuality, and seminars on reproductive issues and select topics in feminist legal theory. Fineman is also a board member of Veteran Feminists of America and serves on the Transforming Community Project, an initiative aimed at improving racial relations and education on race scholarship at Emory.

Karen Worthington is the founding director of the Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic at Emory Law School, where she directs the Clinic; supervises faculty, fellows and students; and teaches child advocacy. She has spent her career specializing in children's law and policy development. In addition to directing the Clinic since 2000, Professor Worthington directed the Southern Juvenile Defender Center from 2001-2005 and serves as a senior fellow with the Center for Study of Law and Religion at Emory Law.

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