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News and Views: December 2010

Pakistan - Sexual Violence & Incest - Shrouded in Silence - Analysis

December 14, 2010

Lahore, Pakistan – International human rights organization Equality Now, in conjunction with WAR Lahore, an organization dedicated to addressing sexual abuse convened a two day workshop on sexual violence in Pakistan. The meeting was held at the Punjab University Law College in Lahore on 13-14 December 2010, and brought together over 40 activists, lawyers and service providers from across Pakistan. There was also representation of judges and medico-legal personnel.

Rape with impunity - plight of Somalia's women refugees

December 15, 2010

The three Somali women sat huddled together in a corner of an empty, dusty room in a camp for displaced people in northern Somalia, their faces etched with grief and resignation.

They were all rape victims. Two of them had been gang-raped, by up to six men.

One of the women had a baby tied to her waist. She had been attacked while trying to prevent her daughter from being raped. In the ensuing struggle, the attackers broke her husband's hand.

Jamaica - Street Theatre to Address Gender Violence - Vide

December 20, 2010

Every Monday Say NO-UNiTE's YouTube channel will feature a video on ending violence against women recommended by Say NO supporters. Visitors are encouraged to engage in an open discussion on the featured video or topic at hand by posting comments on our channel (see below).

Homosexuality Fears Over Gender Equality in Iraqi Kurdistan

December 20, 2010

Despite the predominance of a male religious culture, Kurdish women are taking on more and more traditionally male activities. These young women are preparing for a marathon in Erbil.
By SAMAN BASHARATI ------ Photo by Namo Abdulla for Rudaw.

Human Rights Watch: End Lashing, Reform Public Order Rules

December 18, 2010

(Nairobi) December 15, 2010 -- The arrest of more than 60 Sudanese women's rights activists on December 14, 2010, for peacefully protesting the lashing of a woman by police shows the urgent need to reform Sudan's public order laws and practices, Human Rights Watch said today. The system imposes illegitimate restrictions on a range of personal behavior and public expression and disproportionately targets women, Human Rights Watch said.

Bangladesh: Sexual Harassment Can Lead to Suicide

December 13, 2010

DHAKA, 13 December 2010 (IRIN) - Sexual harassment against girls and women in Bangladesh is turning deadly: 28 women have committed suicide this year and another seven attempted it to escape frequent sexual harassment, says a Dhaka-based human rights organization, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).

A father also committed suicide fearing social insult after his daughter was harassed and in other cases, stalkers killed three women, reported the NGO.

UN Secretary General's Statement: End Criminalization based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

December 10, 2010

Thank you, Ambassador Jim McLay of New Zealand, Ambassador Ranko Vilovi of Croatia, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and particularly representatives of civil society, it is a great pleasure.

Thank you all for coming to this important event.

Today is Human Rights Day - a day we dedicate to defending freedoms and protections for all people.

We know how controversial the issues surrounding sexual orientation can be.

In the search for solutions, we recognize that there can be very different perspectives.

Scotland: Forced Marriages Under-Reported

October 13, 2010

The Direct Approach network, a partnership between Edinburgh police and organizations representing ethnic minority women, released a report on October 13th, 2010 indicating that the number of forced marriages taking place in the city is much higher than the number reported.

Upon surveying 40 women from minority communities, half said they know of or are victims themselves of forced marriages. With only an average of seven cases reported annually, it is clear that there are many hidden victims.

Zambia - UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Media Statement on Conclusion of Visit to Zambia

December 10, 2010

LUSAKA (10 December 2010) – In conclusion of her official visit to Zambia the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, delivered the following preliminary findings:

Iran: Discrimination and Violence Against Sexual Minorities

December 15, 2010

(Amsterdam, December 15, 2010) – Discriminatory laws and policies against homosexuals and other sexual minorities in Iran put them at risk of harassment, violence, and even death, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iran’s sexual minorities, especially those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), are victimized both by state and private actors in part because those actors know they can get away with it.

Iran: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani 'at home' pictures trigger confusion over her fate

December 10, 2010

Confusion surrounds the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery in Iran triggered an international outcry.

Iranian Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ‘Resumes Hunger Strike’ In Prison

December 9, 2010

Take Action!: VNC Action Alert on Nasrin Sotoudeh 

Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh is on hunger strike for the third time, her husband has told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda.

Iran: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani 'freed'

December 9, 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, 43, was pictured at her home in Osku, north-western Iran, by the state-run Press TV channel.

The mother of two had been in prison since 2006 and was due to be executed for having an “illicit relationship outside marriage”.

She received the sentence in 2007 after being convicted of a relationship with a man who was judged to have murdered her husband.

Fiji: The Many Faces of Violence against Women

December 7, 2010

FemLINK Pacific's 16 Days of Community Radio Campaign continues to serve as a platform for local women to speak out on issues that are connected to the annual women's human rights campaign which brings global attention to the many faces of violence, including the silence that is perpetuated because of political, institutional and social structures:

Interview: Forced and Arranged Marriages - Between Elucidation and Scandalizing Distortion

December 2, 2010

Filiz Sütcü, a lawyer of Turkish origin, has carried out academic research into the subject of forced and arranged marriages. In an interview with Claudia Mende, she criticises the media's sensational treatment of the issue and explains that public debate is usually more about cultural and religious defamation.

Kyrgyzstan: Bride Kidnapping Prevalent

November 22, 2010

One third of all Kyrgyzstan brides are considered to have been kidnapped by their future husbands. The custom of bride kidnapping, which began with rival clans stealing and forcing marriage on each others’ women, has grown into a large social problem in Kyrgyzstan over the past 50 years. Some young men in this Central Asian state take to heart the well-known Kyrgyz saying, “A good marriage starts with tears.” 

Interview: Human rights, Fundamentalisms, Power and Prejudice

November 27, 2010

International human rights law is not a sufficient basis for responding to religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalisms are about power as well as prejudice, Vijay Nagaraj tells Cassandra Balchin. Vijay Nagaraj is Research Director at the International Council on Human Rights Policy.

CB: How can human rights activists strengthen their responses to religious fundamentalisms?

Indonesia: Local Sharia Laws Violate Rights in Aceh

December 1, 2010

(Jakarta) - Two local Sharia laws in Indonesia's Aceh province violate rights and are often enforced abusively by public officials and even private individuals, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The country's central government and the Aceh provincial government should take steps to repeal the two laws, Human Rights Watch said.

Pakistan: Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy, may get pardon

November 22, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Christian woman who was sentenced to death by a municipal court for blasphemy against Islam could be pardoned by the president in the next few days, a senior government official said Monday.

Asia Bibi, 45, an agricultural worker and mother of five, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, according to human rights groups.

India: Village bans unmarried women from using cell phones

November 24, 2010

An Indian village has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones for fear they will arrange forbidden marriages that are often punished by death, a local official said today.

The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision, said one council member, Satish Tyagi. Local women's rights group criticised the measure as backward and unfair.