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News and Views: October 2011

Senegal: Progress in Movement to End Genital Cutting

October 16, 2011

SARE HAROUNA, Senegal — When Aissatou Kande was a little girl, her family followed a tradition considered essential to her suitability to marry. Her clitoris was sliced off with nothing to dull the pain.

Malaysia: 'Obedient Wives Club' Sex Book a Cheap Stunt, Say Women’s Groups

October 14, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Women's groups have hit out at the Obedient Wives Club' for its “explicit sex book” which called on a Muslim husband to have joint sex with all his spouses.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) acting executive director Ratna Osman called it a “cheap stunt” to get its name in the local and international media spotlight.

She said the group failed to look at the demands of society, which called for gender equality and progress in education.

Iran: Film Actress Sentenced to 90 Lashes

October 10, 2011

An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian actress to one year in jail and 90 lashes related to her role in an Australian-made film portraying social alienation, artistic repression and drug use in Iran, according to an Iranian opposition website.

Pakistan: Child Expelled For 'Blasphemous' Spelling Error

October 10, 2011

There’s no shortage of reminders nowadays of how dangerous Pakistan has become. Kidnappings are rampant, suicide bombers strike crowded markets, and sectarian violence is commonplace. Even sitting for a school exam comes with risks.

In the Pakistani village of Havelian, a Christian Grade 8 student named Faryal Bhatti has been accused of blasphemy after making a spelling mistake on a test, a miscue that has had drastic and life-changing consequences for her whole family.

Yemen: Women Attacked During Peace Prize Celebrations

October 11, 2011

Dozens of women were reportedly injured in Yemen’s second-largest city on Sunday after government supporters attacked an anti-government rally celebrating Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman.

According to reports, pro-government “thugs” threw stones at women who were taking part in a peaceful women’s march in the south-western city of Ta’izz.

Afghanistan: Women Face Rising Danger If Excluded From Peace Talks

October 3, 2011

(WNN) KABUL: On the tenth anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a new October 3, 2011 Oxfam report on progress for Afghan women shows steady advances for Afghan women since October 2001. But recent data shows women’s personal safety, opportunity and human rights inside the nation are beginning to erode back to conditions that existed previously. 

Lebanon: Engaging Men in Ending Violence Against Women

October 11, 2011

“Ending violence against women and having a society that truly espouses the principles of gender equality can only be done when men and women work together, side by side, as partners in achieving that goal.”

Statement of the Gender Dynamic Coalition at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2011

September 30, 2011

The 6th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Nairobi between 27-30 September 2011, and was attended by a representative of the VNC Campaign / WLUML. This year, the VNC represenative joined the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and contributed to the statement issued on the last day of the Forum.

Chad: Women Activists Against Gender-Based Violence

September 7, 2011

LAI, Chad, 7 September 2011 – A brave mother, Hadjara Oumarou, sat under a tree with her estranged husband, Oumar Sidik, outside their local village courthouse here in Chad’s Tandjilé District. Their 10-year-old daughter Amira (not her real name) sat between them.

They were at the courthouse because Mr. Sidik had sold Amira for the equivalent of $120. When the man who ‘bought’ her visited Ms. Oumarou to demand his bride, she refused to give her up, insisting that she attend school before she marries.

In the same district, a shocking number of young girls have been raped.

Yemen: Women Toppling 'Tradition'

October 14, 2011

The leading participation of Yemeni women in their country’s revolt is raising hopes that regime change may bring along a mini revolution in the public and political role of women

Taiz — Yemeni women did not merely challenge the taboos surrounding their blackchadors, and break away from the isolation of their homes as they marched to the various liberation squares across the country. They may be precipitating a minor revolution against Yemen’s conservative customs and traditions. 

Yemen: Shari'a Replacing State Law

October 8, 2011

Amid regular military bombardment, the Abyan governorate of southern Yemen has witnessed the rapid deterioration of state institutions and the rule of law. Local Islamic law (sharia) courts have risen in this vacuum to govern communities’ daily affairs.

Afghanistan: Raising Hope for Women

October 6, 2011

Ten years ago, a massive feminist experiment began in Afghanistan. But can the advances in education and women's rights be sustained, even when the troops leave?

Child Marriage: Laws Against Must Be Enforced

October 3, 2011

Millions of girls across the world end up as child brides, despite the practice being outlawed in many countries. But some girls are defying their families' attempts to marry them off.

Some 10 million girls a year are married off before the age of 18 across the world, according to a Unicef report released this year.

Malaysia: Sisters in Islam Remains Firmly Opposed to the Implementation of Hudud Law

October 4, 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is unequivocally opposed to the adoption and implementation of Hudud law in Malaysia. This has been our considered position since 1993. Our stand on Hudud law is based on the following reasons:

Pakistan: Guns Aimed Increasingly at Women

September 30, 2011

PESHAWAR - Guns available in new abundance in the troubled north of Pakistan are increasingly being used on women in ‘honour’ killings and domestic disputes, according to local reports.

"About 65 percent of the women killed fall prey to gunfire in honour-related cases and issues relating to domestic violence," local security analyst Brigadier (retired) Muhammad Saad told IPS. 

Egypt: Election Monitoring from Gender Perspective

September 14, 2011

(Cairo, 14 September 2011) In its continuing effort to enhance women's role in the Egyptian political sphere and follow the mechanisms and means that guarantee equality in women's representation, ECWR is going to monitor the 2011 Parliamentary and Shoura Elections from a gender perspective. For this purpose, ECWR is preparing its Operation Room that will be in charge of the monitoring and will undertake the following missions:

First Mission: Technical Support

ECWR is working on:

Saudi Arabia: We Say "Yes" to Women's Full Enjoyment of their Rights

October 2, 2011

The Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) Campaign welcomes long awaited and recent reforms announced by King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud, that promise to gives Saudi Arabian women the rights to vote and run for office in municipal council elections, and to become full voting members of the next Shura council. The promise to increase women’s participation in civic life is a tribute to women’s efforts on the ground who have been campaigning inside the country, despite strict and rigid opposition.

Australia: Court Action Against Forced Marriage of Girl

September 30, 2011

An Australian court has placed a 16-year-old girl on the airport watch list to prevent an arranged marriage taking place in Lebanon.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, applied to the Federal Magistrates Court for an order to restrain her parents from taking her out of Australia to marry a man she had met only once.

The girl, given the pseudonym Ms Madley by the court, approached the Legal Aid Commission after her parents organised the wedding despite her telling them that she did not want to go to Lebanon and did not want to marry the man.

Nepal: Badam Mahatara, "In this community there is never ending discrimination against women"

September 22, 2011

URTHU, 22 September 2011 (IRIN) - In Urthu, Jumla District, in Nepal’s Mid-Western Region, women marry young, have children young and die young. Life expectancy for women is 50, (eight years younger than men) and as one local young man described it, the women are treated like mules. Jumla’s population of 105,000 serves as a microcosm of the gender rights situation across rural Nepal, aid workers say. 

Indonesia: FGM/C Regulations Mistaken As Endorsement, Experts Fear

September 1, 2011

WEST JAVA, 1 September 2011 (IRIN) - Guidelines on how to perform female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) issued by the Indonesian Ministry of Health could cause an increase in the practice, medical experts and rights groups fear.

Malaysia: Women Seizing the Political Agenda

September 29, 2011

Women are claiming a leading role the political reform movement in Malaysia. In July this year, around 50,000 Malaysians braved a massive state-sponsored onslaught against freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to gather in the nation's capital to demand electoral reform. It was the second time that Malaysians gathered in a mass rally to demand these reforms, but the first time that the call was led by a woman, Ambiga Sreenevasan, and where the lead organisation was a women's rights NGO, Empower. This put gender directly in the spotlight of the Bersih movement.

Saudi Arabia: Woman Driver Pardoned from Lashing by King Abdullah

August 29, 2011

Saudi woman sentenced to be lashed 10 times for defying the country's ban on female drivers has had her punishment overturned by the king.

The woman, named as Shaima Jastaina and believed to be in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission in Jeddah in July. Her case was the first in which a legal punishment was handed down for a violation of the ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Pakistan: Suffering In Silence

September 28, 2011

Being beaten almost daily by her husband is a routine part of Saadia Bibi’s life. “Ever since I was married nearly seven years ago, I have been slapped, punched or kicked virtually every day. Once or twice my husband has burnt me with cigarettes,” she told IRIN in Multan, in conservative southern Punjab, displaying the distinct, circular scars on her shoulders and legs.

Malaysia: Hudud Laws - Between the Implicit and the Explicit

September 27, 2011

The hudud controversy has now returned to the eyes of the media after it was discussed at the National Syariah Seminar sponsored by the Department of Islamic Affairs of Kelantan.

PAS indeed had taken a step forward in their comprehensive proposals for a welfare state but their preoccupation with the hudud issue clearly shows that they are still stuck in the framework of antiquarian politics.

Iran: Activist Narges Mohammadi Jailed for 11 Years

September 28, 2011

A prominent Iranian human rights activist who was taken seriously ill after being detained by the authorities has been sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Saudi Arabia: Court Orders Lashing of Woman for Defying Driving Ban

September 27, 2011

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.

The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.

Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.

In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.

Malaysia: Why Hudud Law Is Everybody’s Business

September 23, 2011

SEPT 23 — Once again the familiar argument has surfaced, or been desperately invoked, this time in the latest stand-off between the leading Pakatan Rakyat allies Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim.

Hudud law, if implemented, will apply only to Muslims, Anwar Ibrahim again insists, so the question is one that concerns only Muslims, not Malaysian citizens of other faiths — or no conventional doctrinal allegiance at all. So non-Muslims have nothing to fear, no legitimate interest in the matter, and no right to express any opinion. The matter is for Muslims alone.

Saudi Arabia: Voting Reform Excludes Other Forms of Discrimination

September 26, 2011

(Amman) September 26, 2011 – King Abdullah’s announcement that women will be able to participate in municipal elections in 2015 and become members of the consultative Shura Council is a long overdue step toward greater participation of women in public life, Human Rights Watch said today. In his statement on September 25, 2011, Abdullah made no reference to reforming other areas of discrimination against women, such as the guardianship system that authorizes male control over women and the ban on women driving.