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News and Views: November 2011

VNC Launches New Website

December 4, 2011

The international campaign 'Violence Is Not Our Culture' is excited to launch its new website.

Canada: BC Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Polygamy

November 23, 2011

A BC judge has upheld Canada's ban on polygamy, calling it constitutional and infringing on religious freedom only a little.

Second Blog Series

October 30, 2011

In collaboration with Gender Across Borders, we welcome you to a blogging series exploring the relationship between culture and violence against women.

Violence Against Women and Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship

October 29, 2011

In this post, Danielle Prince demonstrates how women's rights advocates can promote positive cultural changes to strengthen gender equality.

Cultural Relativism and Universal Women’s Rights Doctrine

October 29, 2011

In this post, Elizabeth Crane demystifies the concept of 'culture', and discusses the relationship between cultural relativism and women's rights.

Complete Silence Is Not Absence

October 29, 2011

In this post, Mitzi Smith writes about silence as a response to trauma and abuse.

Acid-Attack Survivor Heals Others

October 29, 2011

In this post, Bijoyeta Das shares the inspirational story of Nurun Nahar.

No Excuse: Cultural Makeover Time

October 29, 2011

In this post, Claire Varley debunks the myth surrounding 'traditional culture'.

Remembering Eudy

October 29, 2011

In this post, Naatasha Segal remembers Eudy, who was savagely killed for her sexuality.

Street Culture

October 29, 2011

In this post, Elizabeth Wash investigates street harassment and the culture of sexual objectification.

Breaking the Chain of 'Culture' in the Minds of Women and Girls

October 29, 2011

In this post, Reem Mahmoud discusses the challenges of eliminating culturally-justified violence against women.

The Unbroken Curse

October 29, 2011

In this post, Wanjala Wafula informs us on culturally-justified violence against women in Kenya.

At 3:30AM

October 29, 2011

In this post, Kathleen Fallon demonstrates how culture is used far too often to justify actions,to rationalize norms that promote violence against women.

A Culture of Violence?

October 29, 2011

In this post, Miriam Vaswan discusses the notion of 'culture' in relation to reproductive rights and violence against women.

Arab Spring to End Violence Against Women?

November 25, 2011

In this post, Vibeke Thomsen comments on Arab Spring and the consequences for women in the Middle East and Africa.

Child Marriage: Ukuthwala in South Africa

November 25, 2011

In this post, Nicole Soucie recalls a trip to South Africa, and what she learned about child marriage.

Stereotyped Ukraine

October 29, 2011

In this post, Olga Pakos discusses violence and culture in the Ukraine.

تاریخ سرکوب شدگان، میراث مشترک بشریت*/ شادی صدر

November 5, 2011

بدون شک، ما در برهه ای تاریخی به سر می بریم؛ انقلابهای مردمی در شمال آفریقا و خاورمیانه همه ما را سرشار از امید کرده است. دیکتاتورهایی که سالیان سال، حقوق مردم را به شکلی گسترده و شدید نقض کرده اند، یکی یکی سرنگون می شوند و ما در شادی مردمی شریک می شویم که به خیابانها آمده اند تا حق خود را طلب کنند. تصاویری بسیار تاثیرگذار و قدرتمند است از خوشحالی و امید. اما برای من، و فکر می کنم برای خیلی از ما، فعالان حقوق بشر در سراسر جهان، در کنار این خوشحالی و امید، نگرانی های عمیقی وجود دارد.

Cambodia: Reclaiming Life After Acid Attacks

November 24, 2011

A cook in the Cambodian city Siem Reap, Chhean was compelled to take action against her sister’s tyrannical brother-in-law when in 2008 he sold his two-year-old daughter to a trafficking ring so he could buy a new motorbike. Chhean, a widow and sole provider for her four children, urged her sister Baen to file a law suit and openly demanded that her brother-in-law get the two year old back. Instead, her brother-in-law threatened Chean’s life. That threat turned real one day when he drove by on his motorbike while Chhean was working and threw acid on her. It burned her face, eyes, shoulders, left hand and the left side of her back.

Amnesty International: Iranian Official's Statement at UN Cannot Conceal Reality of Persecution of Defence Lawyers

November 18, 2011

Amnesty International deplores the statement at a UN press conference on 16 November 2011 by Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary General of the Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, that “[n]o lawyer is in prison because he is a lawyer or he is a defender of human rights.”

Pakistan: New Bill Passed to Protect Women's Rights

November 24, 2011

Women's rights groups in Pakistan have welcomed the passing of a bill which will punish those who force women into marriages, or deny them inheritance.

Afghanistan: EU Suppresses Its Film on Afghan Women's Prisons

November 15, 2011

One woman is doing 12 years in prison for being the victim of a rape. The second is in jail for running from an abusive husband. Both say they want to tell their stories, and yet a film about their plight has been scrapped, sparking controversy about how committed the international community is to fighting for women's rights in Afghanistan.

USA: Ending Violence Against Women is Defending Human rights and Dignity

November 14, 2011

“I was excited to come to US, but since my arrival I have not had one happy day. He needed a servant and a nanny for his kids. For everything, I had to ask for his permission. He beat me frequently (not in front of the kids) and he said bad words to me that crashed my self-esteem and self-respect. But, I think hitting is better than the words that mutilated my soul. Bruises will disappear but his words keep echoing in my minds, in my ears and even up to this day drive me crazy. He threatened to “ship” me back and revoke his application for my green card. How can I go back? In my community the woman is the one who always being blamed...”

Les crimes d'honneur ne sont pas réservés aux provinces reculées du Pakistan, de la Turquie ou de l'Inde. En Europe occidentale aussi, des jeunes femmes sont torturées et tuées par des membres de leur famille à cause de leurs fréquentations, de leur façon

November 15, 2011

Les crimes d'honneur ne sont pas réservés aux provinces reculées du Pakistan, de la Turquie ou de l'Inde. En Europe occidentale aussi, des jeunes femmes sont torturées et tuées par des membres de leur famille à cause de leurs fréquentations, de leur façon de s'habiller ou de leur refus de se soumettre à un mariage forcé. En clair, parce que leur attitude laisse planer un doute sur leur virginité.

Shadi Sadr: History of the Oppressed, Humankind’s Common Heritage

November 5, 2011

There is no doubt that we are experiencing history in the making! Popular movements in North Africa and the Middle East have filled the rest of us with hope and optimism. One after another, dictators who for years violated the rights of the people in a widespread and sever manner are being toppled and we join the jubilation of the people who have stormed the streets to demand their just rights. The images of such moments are powerful and impressive; filled with happiness and hope. And yet for me, and certainly I am not alone in this, so in fact for many of us human rights activists across the world, such happiness and hope are accompanied with deep concerns.

Busting the Myths about Marital Rape

November 24, 2011

A lot of arguments have surfaced against the criminalization of marital rape, against considering forced sex between spouses rape, and against its inclusion in the law to protect family violence currently being deliberated in parliament. Nasawiya presented some of these arguments and their rebuttals in order to dispel the myths that continue to plague women’s sexual rights and bodily integrity – whether in law, public perception, or in her power of negotiation in intimate relationships.

Pakistan: Girls Defy Taliban School Bombings

November 16, 2011

Seven-year-old Marwa cried and shook uncontrollably at the sight of the rubble and shattered glass remnants of her classroom. The Taliban had bombed yet another girls' school in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia: Why is No One Protecting Child Brides?

November 8, 2011

Atgaa, 10, and her sister Reemya, 8, are about to be married to men in their 60s. Atgaa will be her husband's fourth wife. Their wedding celebrations are scheduled for this week and will take place in the town of Fayaadah Abban in Qasim, Saudi Arabia.

India: Increasing Gender Imablance

October 30, 2011

Dr Neelam Singh is on the front line of India's battle to save its girls. Modern medical technology - specifically ultrasounds for determining the baby's sex - coupled with ancient cultural values which give preference to boys, mean that hundreds of thousands of girls are never being born.

UN: SR on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Calls for Integration of Gender Perspective into Criminal Justice Systems

October 21, 2011

A gender perspective needs to be integrated into countries’ criminal justice systems to ensure women are not “ruled out of the law,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul said today.

India: An App to Fight Violence Against Women

November 8, 2011

Having mapped out Delhi’s most dangerous sites from reports supplied by more than 50,000 citizens who shared women’s experiences of harassment or violence, this month Whypoll is releasing India’s first women’s emergency mobile phone app. The FightBack app aims to give women the ability to report crimes and call for help across a variety of platforms, using social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as Whypoll’s own site.

Argentina: Campaign - Men Fighting 'Machismo'

November 10, 2011

An original campaign led by men is getting thousands of men in Argentina to reflect on the abuse of power and commit themselves to helping eradicate violence against women.

Iran: UN Bodies Shine Light On Ongoing Degradation of Human Rights Situation

November 7, 2011

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to fully implement the recent recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the body charged with overseeing implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party. The Concluding Observations follow two recent UN reports highlighting human rights violations in Iran: the report by the UN Secretary General to the UN General Assembly published on 15 September 20111 and the interim report of the newly-appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, published on 23 September2.

Bangladesh: Bride Disowns Her 'Dowry Demanding' Husband

November 15, 2011

A top human rights group in Bangladesh has praised a bride who disowned her husband within minutes of their wedding because he demanded a dowry.

Somalia: Women Lobby for Law Against FGM/C

November 3, 2011

Women's groups in the Somali town of Galkayo are lobbying the authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland to enact a law banning female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), saying the practice was becoming widespread. Activists say FGM/C causes serious health problems to the women and is against their religion.

Uzbekistan: Scarf or Hijab Debate, Law Bans Religious Attire

October 12, 2011

Was it a “traditional white scarf” or a hijab? That is what rights groups in Uzbekistan would like to know from the state after the secular Muslim republic issued its first reported dress code fine since implementing a tough new law three years ago banning religious attire.

Malaysia: Ban on Obedient Wives Club 'Islamic Sex Book'

November 5, 2011

A controversial manual by the head of an Islamic sect that teaches wives obedient and submissive sex faces a ban from the Malaysian government, with those in possession paying a hefty price for it.

Arab Women Urged to Advocate for Rights in Post-Revolution Governments

November 3, 2011

Women should voice demands about their rights during the popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world to avoid being short-changed by post-revolutionary governments, Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said.

UN: Special Rapporteur Calls on States to Embrace Inter-religious Dialogue as Means to Fight Intolerance

November 2, 2011

On 20 October 2011, Mr Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, took part in an interactive dialogue with the General Assembly Third Committee. His report and oral presentation focused on the promotion of inter- and intra-religious communication as a means to combat religious intolerance and hate speech. Mr Bielefeldt also called attention to the possible adverse side effects that may occur in the context of interreligious dialogue projects; including if religious communities are portrayed stereotypically or if full inclusiveness in projects is falsely claimed.

Australia: Aboriginal & African Women Leaders Meet to Share Culture & Social Issues

October 27, 2011

Aboriginal and African leaders have come together for a historic meeting at Murdoch University. The meeting, which occurred yesterday morning, was the first time the two cultures had met on an official level.

DR Congo: Traditional Leaders Roles

November 5, 2011

In the DRC traditional leaders are exclusively men. Traditional leaders existed in the Congo since long ago, with colonialism, after the independence, and even today, they still exist.

USA: Laws "Not Enough" to Tackle Violence Against Native Women

July 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, Jul 25, 2011 (IPS) - Juana Majel Dixon, first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, said earlier this year that, "Young women on reservations live their lives in anticipation of being raped…They talk about 'how I will survive my rape‚' as opposed to not thinking about it at all."

Uganda: Former FGM Surgeons Given New Employment Opportunity

June 21, 2011

At least 254 former traditional surgeons of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Sebei have received grinding machines to start up alternative means of living.

Morocco: Civil Society Organizations Make Recommendations to Combat Violence Against Women at the Upcoming United Nations Committee Against Torture

October 28, 2011

Geneva, Switzerland – On Monday, October 31, 2011, in collaboration with an alliance of Moroccan civil society organizations from diverse regions across the country1, Global Rights, and The Advocates for Human Rights will issue a joint statement to the 47th Session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT).

Iran: Release of Actress Highlights Plight of Film Makers

October 27, 2011

The release of an Iranian actress sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in prison after appearing in a banned film highlights the need to release other detained filmmakers in Iran, Amnesty International said today.

Iraq: Unchanging Laws Enable Abuse with Impunity

October 11, 2011

Salma Jassim was beaten, kicked out of her marital home with her newborn daughter on her shoulder and then deserted by her husband. But she says the threat she faces from her own family, who feel shamed because of her divorce, is just as bad as the abuse.

Pakistan: Push to Pass Provincial Domestic Violence Bill

October 21, 2011

If your husband raises his hand on you, and you are a constant victim of physical violence, humiliation and verbal abuse, a time may come when you say “enough is enough”.

Tunisia: Islamist Party Wins Big In Elections

October 24, 2011

A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Monday in Tunisia's landmark elections as preliminary results indicated it had won the biggest share of votes, assuring it will have a strong say in the future constitution of the country whose popular revolution led to the Arab Spring.

Mexico: Women Reject Normalisation of Gender Violence

November 24, 2011

Ninety percent of the non-governmental organisations in Mexico are founded and run by women, says journalist and women's rights activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, even as crimes against women remain cloaked in impunity.

WLUML: Statement on Libya

October 25, 2011

WLUML is deeply concerned that the first public act of the Libya's National Transition Committee has been to proclaim on October 23rd, 2011, that henceforth, a number of laws will be considered annulled and that 'sharia law' is to replace them. Libya’s National Transition Committee is an interim government – what it has responsibility for – and what its first action should have concerned, is to put into place a mechanism for elections for the new government after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Yemen: Women Burn Veils To Stop Crackdown On Protest

October 16, 2011

Hundreds of Yemeni women on Wednesday set fire to traditional female veils to protest the government's brutal crackdown against the country's popular uprising, as overnight clashes in the capital and another city killed 25 people, officials said.

USA: Women Ride in Back on Sex-Segregated Brooklyn Bus Line

October 18, 2011

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

Yemen: Tawakkul Karman as Cause and Effect

October 21, 2011

Political activist Tawakkul Karman has brought Yemen’s revolution to New York, speaking directly on October 20 with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and organizing rallies at the United Nations headquarters in lower Manhattan, the largest of which is slated for the afternoon of October 21. The

Tunisia: In the Name of Democracy - What Secularists and Women Have to Lose in the Tunisian Elections

October 22, 2011

On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .

Tunisia: 'In the Name of Democracy - What Secularists and Women Have to Lose in the Tunisian Elections'

October 22, 2011

On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .

Tunisia's Election Through the Eyes of Women

October 23, 2011

Al Jazeera speaks to Tunisian women from across the political spectrum about their hopes and fears for Sunday's poll.

Iran: 280 Activists Condemn Flogging Sentence for Marzieh Vafamehr

October 21, 2011

A statement issued on behalf of 280 Iranian cultural and social activists is expressing their support for Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr, who has been sentenced to flogging for her role in “My Tehran for Sale.”

UN: General Assembly Holds Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

October 10, 2011

On October 10, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, presented her first written report to the Third Committee at the 66th session of the General Assembly. Ms. Manjoo opened by giving a summary of her report on the continuum of violence against women from the home to the transnational sphere: the challenges of effective redress.

Germany: Support & Counselling for Muslim Women in Germany

March 30, 2008

Cologne (WeNews\WFS) – Most of Louise Becker's 12-hour workdays are hidden behind a bright orange door in suburban Cologne, Germany. There she counsels Muslim women through family and marriage problems. The meetings are secret to prevent harassment from the women's husbands, fathers and brothers.

Iran: A Long Run to Comply with Human Rights Obligations

October 18, 2011

Geneva, 18th October 2011. The Human Rights Committee sent a clear message to the Iranian delegation during the review of the third periodic report on 17 and 18 October 2011. The lack of transparency in the written information sent by the State, as well as the deviating responses during the review, prevented this mechanism to yield its potential as a space for constructive dialogue.