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News and Views: January 2012

Honour killings in Canada: even worse than we believe

January 31, 2012

Do we focus on so-called honour killings precisely because the victims are Muslims, or South Asians, or Middle Easterners?

Violence Against Women in Lebanon: A Debate That’s Not Going Away

January 13, 2012

On the surface, it would seem that passing a law that criminalizes violence perpetrated against women by family members would be straightforward in a diverse, and seemingly progressive country such as Lebanon. But the country’s diversity is one of the main hindrances to bringing it in line with international norms regarding women’s rights.

Kuwait: End Police Abuses Against Transgender Women

January 30, 2012

Kuwaiti police have tortured and sexually abused transgender women using a discriminatory law, passed in 2007, which arbitrarily criminalizes “imitating the opposite sex,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government of Kuwait should repeal the law, article 198 as amended in 2007, and hold police officers accountable for misconduct.

Guatemalans scale volcano to protest domestic violence

January 23, 2012

Thousands of people, one after the other, climbed to the top of a dormant volcano in Guatemala over the weekend, ascending the 12,352-foot slope of the Volcan de Agua (Volcano of Water).

They weren’t on an adventure excursion though. It was a mega protest against domestic violence, which included 12,000 women, children, and men (including Guatemala’s new president Otto Perez Molina).

Look at the photos here. 

Colombia: Domestic violence laws are not enough: Rights groups

January 27, 2012

Colombian domestic violence laws will not work as long as attackers go unpunished, said women's groups Friday.

Responding to a raft of new government measures aimed at preventing violence against women, NGOs told Colombia Reports that the real issue was not being tackled.

Italy must urgently act to end violence against women, UN rights expert says

January 27, 2012

Italy must do more to protect women from violence and urgently address the underlying structural causes of gender inequality and discrimination, an independent United Nations human rights expert warned after visiting the country.

Taking on violence against women in Africa

January 30, 2012

International norms and local activism start to alter laws, attitudes.

India: In Sehruwa village women do not vote

January 12, 2012

In Sehruwa - a village in India's Uttar Pradesh state, women have never exercised one of their most important constitutional rights: vote  Ironically, Sehruwa is only 144 km away from Lucknow - the state capital where Mayawati - the state's (woman) chief minister resides.

 

Indian-Administered Kashmir: Preference for a male child is a known fact

January 18, 2012

 

SRINAGAR, Indian-Administered Kashmir: Preference for a male child is a known fact in Kashmir. Like most South Asian societies this preference in gender can often turn into prejudice, discrimination and worse. Many modern cases of discrimination against girls are now resulting in death.

USA: Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

January 18, 2012

In 2008, African-American Muslim student Balayla Ahmad enrolled in Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Instead, she became of a victim of sexual harassment. Distressed by the repeated sexual advances and “graphic offensive comments” of a male student, Ahmad reported the harassment and “fears for her safety” to multiple teachers, who urged her to say nothing, and finally the university’s president and dean. The dean told Ahmad, “My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?”

Iran: Women's Bodies Are Still the Subject of Dispute

January 19, 2012

The Iranian actress Goshifteh Farahani has recently posed naked in a French short film alongside a few up-and-coming French artists. In the film, Corps et Âmes (Body and Soul), the actors undressed as a symbol of emancipation from social restrictions. Screenshots from the film were also published on Madame website in which Golshifteh poses topless, with her hands covering her breasts. The photo was removed just one day after being posted; it's likely that the onslaught of negative reactions forced the website to re-think its original decision.

Egypt: Concerns as Brotherhood Ignores Abuse of Women

January 19, 2012

A group of men gathered around Amira El Bakry in Tahrir Square as she brandished a newspaper photo that shocked many Egyptians. It showed troops dragging a female protester along the street, her robe ripped open to reveal a blue bra and bare midriff.

Saudi Arabia: Women Resist Male Guardianship Laws

January 18, 2012

Mona Hamid left Saudi Arabia 8 years ago for a career in marketing in Dubai. Now, the mother of two and a career woman is fighting back against what she calls the archaic practice of male guardianship in her home country.

“When I wanted to leave Saudi Arabia after university, I had to get permission from my father, and that took a lot of convincing,” she told Bikyamasr.com. “I had to explain why this was a good idea and how I would still be able to find a husband.”

Pakistan: Region Gives Women Legal Right To Property

January 6, 2012

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A Pakistani regional assembly has passed a law making it illegal for parents not to extend property rights to female family members, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The bill was presented in the assembly in the northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by deputy Noor Sahar and was unanimously passed on January 5.

Malawi: Women protest over 'trouser attacks'

January 20, 2012

Hundreds of people have protested in Blantyre in Malawi about attacks on women for wearing trousers.

Some women were this week beaten and stripped by vendors on the streets of the capital, Lilongwe, and Blantyre for not wearing traditional dress.

A BBC reporter says women wore trousers and mini-skirts to the demonstration to show their outrage.

President Bingu wa Mutharika has said on national radio that women had the right to wear what they want.

Israel: Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud

January 19, 2012

IS it possible for a religious demand for modesty to be about anything other than men controlling women’s bodies? From recent events in Israel, it would certainly seem that it is not.

Lebanon: Hundreds of women and men march against rape

January 16, 2012

BEIRUT: Women and men from across Lebanon marched together over the weekend to call for changing the law governing rape crimes and support for victims of such acts.

The march, which began at noon in the Beirut district of Sanayeh, and ended in Parliament Square, drew over 600 people Saturday. Marchers held signs reading, “It is time to hear the screams of all the mothers and daughters the law has silenced,” “Change the laws against marital rape,” and “Skirt length is not an invitation.”

Mauritania: Muslim imams initiate rare ban on female circumcision

January 21, 2010

DAKAR - Human rights campaigners who have been struggling for years to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) in West Africa got a boost this week as news emerged that a group of Muslim clerics and scholars in Mauritania had declared a fatwa, or religious decree, against the practice.

Pakistan: Low Awareness of Hidden FGM/C Practices

December 26, 2011

KARACHI - In certain cafés close to medical colleges in Pakistan, and of course within the institutions themselves, students studying gynaecology speak of some unexpected sights they have seen.

“Recently, we examined a woman who complained of pain in her genital region. We were shocked to see when we examined her that she had suffered some mutilation of her private parts. I have read about these practices but I didn’t know they took place here,” Zeba Khan, a 4th year medical student, told IRIN.

Between culture and religion: the case of FGC

January 13, 2012

This post is by Anny Gaul and is a part of the Culture and Human Rights series (part II).

Domestic Violence in Brazil

January 13, 2012

This post is by Leticia Zenevich as part of the Culture and Human Rights series (Part II).

Gender-based violence in a silent society

January 13, 2012

This post is by Melissa Kaminker as part of the Culture and Human Rights series (Part II).

A woman’s worth

January 13, 2012

This post is by Sadia Hussein as part of the series on Culture and Human Rights (Part II).

To the Death of My Own Family

January 13, 2012

This post is by David L. Meth and is a part of the Culture and Human Rights Series (Part II).

Shakeable Barriers

January 13, 2012

This post is by Shelle Warton as part of the series Culture and Human Rights (Part II).

Redefining the Burqa: A Reflection from Afghanistan

January 13, 2012

This post is by Michelle Risinger and is a part of the Culture and Human Rights series (Part II).

My Life of Violence

January 13, 2012

This post is by Mindy Stokes and is a part of the Culture and Human Rights series (Part II).

The Horror Show: Crimes Against Women Around the World

January 13, 2012

This post is by Madeline Mendoza and is a part of the Culture and Human Rights series (Part II).

Trinidad: Hinduism Rejects Violence Against Women

January 1, 2012

UN Women in the Caribbean recently funded a three-phase programme aimed at promoting the role of faith-based organisations in “increasing awareness to change attitudes and influence behaviour amongst people from all walks of life, as essential to preventing and ending violence against women.” The collaboration established a partnership between UN Women and the Hindu Women’s Organisation of T&T. One of the outcomes was the publication of a booklet entitled Hinduism—An Overview & Rejecting Violence Against Women.

UK: Are sex offenders and lads’ mags using the same language?

December 6, 2011

Far from being harmless or ironic fun, lads’ mags could be legitimising hostile sexist attitudes, according to new research.

Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey found that when presented with descriptions of women taken from lads’ mags, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not distinguish the source of the quotes.

UK: Men’s Magazine or Rapist? Study Claims Few Can Tell

January 3, 2012

What do men’s magazines and convicted rapists have in common? How they describe women, a British study has found.

Germany: Forced Marriages More Prevalent than Thought

November 9, 2011

A new study has revealed that thousands of young women and girls in forced marriages seek help every year in Germany. The vast majority of victims come from Muslim families, and many have been threatened with violence or even death. The numbers involved are much higher than previously suspected.

More women and girls living in Germany are being forced into marriage under the threat of violence than previously thought, according to a new study released by the German government on Wednesday.

Egypt: Women Find Power Still Hinges on Men

January 9, 2012

CAIRO — At first Samira Ibrahim was afraid to tell her father that Egyptian soldiers had detained her in Tahrir Square in Cairo, stripped off her clothes, and watched as she was forcibly subjected to a “virginity test.”

Saudi Arabia: Women to Run and Vote in Municipal Elections without Male Approval

December 28, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian's approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, when women will also run for office for the first time, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

The change signifies a step forward in easing the kingdom's restrictions against women, but it falls far short of what some Saudi reformers are calling for.

USA: The Burning of an Abortion Clinic on New Years Day and a Call to Action on Abortion Rights

January 5, 2012

On January 1st, at 1:00 in the morning, an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida was engulfed in flames. By all accounts thus far, this was a case of arson.

But chances are you have heard nothing about this.

The fact that there has not been a single politician commenting on this violent assault on an institution that is essential to women's freedom and that this act of terror has not been picked up on in the national or mainstream media should only serve as a further wake-up call to those who care about women's rights.

Israel: Condemnation of Violence Not Loud in Haredi World

January 5, 2012

After an 8-year-old girl was harassed by ultra-Orthodox men on her way to a Modern Orthodox girls’ school in Beit Shemesh, the condemnations started pouring in.

Israel’s prime minister and president vowed that Israel would not tolerate haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, violence against women, whether directed at girls walking to school or women riding on public buses. Israel’s opposition leader, Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, attended a demonstration of thousands on Dec. 27 in Beit Shemesh.

USA: Justice Dept. expands definition of rape to include other forms of sexual assault

January 6, 2012

The Obama administration on Friday announced a significant expansion of the FBI’s definition of rape, which will now cover several forms of sexual assault and include male rape.

Justice Department officials said the revision would make reporting of the crime more accurate and provide a better understanding of its effects on victims.

Tunisia: ATDF wins Simone de Beauvoir Prize

December 24, 2011

The Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) won the 2011 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom - a French award honoring women’s rights advocates worldwide.

The ATFD was recgonized for their accomplishments in the realm of feminist activism. The jury for the Simone de Beauvoir Prize chose the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women for their important role during the Tunisian uprisings in defending women’s rights and freedoms.

بيان صحفي

January 2, 2012

إتحاد حقوق الإنسان الليبي, جنباً الي جنب مع العديد من نشطاء المجتمع المدني والمنظمات, يجدون بأن مشروع القانون الليبي المنشور يوم 1 يناير 2012 من قبل المجلس الوطني الإنتقالي غير معقول, ضمن مشروع هذا القانون, تنص المادة رقم 1 علي أنه ستكون هناك حصة برلمانية للمرأة, إلا أنه غير واضح تماماّ, ونصها بأنه ستكون الحصو محدودة الي 10%, أو 20% من أصل 200 مقعداً.

Libya: 10% Parliament Quota for Women

January 2, 2012

The Libyan Human Rights Alliance, along with numerous civil society activists and organizations, find the Libyan Draft Election Law released On January 1 2012 by The National Transitional Council to be unreasonable. Within this Draft Law, Article 1 stated that there would in fact be a parliamentary quota for women; however it is quite vague and reads as the quota will be limited to 10%, or 20 out of 200 seats.