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News and Views: March 2012

UK: Early/Forced Marriage in London

January 30, 2012
Islington - The forced marriage of under-age girls is prevalent in many countries, with an estimated 25,000 young girls forced into marriage each day. The issue is becoming an increasing concern in the U.K., and in the London Borough of Islington.
 

International Women's Day and Women's Rights in Pakistan: Interview with Farida Shaheed

March 6, 2012

Farida Shaheed is a sociologist with over 25 years’ research experience on women’s issues (including rural development, women and labour and legal rights), especially in Pakistan and South Asia. She is a long-time UNRISD collaborator, and joins us with an interview on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Her article on politics, religion and gender in Pakistan has been published in a special issue of Cahier du Genre entitled “Religion et politique: Les femmes prises au piège”.

Kuwait: Egyptian teen attempts suicide to avoid forced marriage

March 20, 2012

Kuwaiti police has launched an investigation into the attempted suicide of an 18-year old Egyptian girl who threw herself off the balcony of an apartment building to avoid a forced marriage.

She survived the fall but suffered multiple fractures.

While recovering at a hospital, the girl told the police that her mother and brother had unexpectedly introduced her to a man and told her that she was his wife and should start “spousal relations” according to a report in Kuwait’s al Rai newspaper.

Turkmenistan: "Price of Marriage"

March 19, 2012

An old tradition where grooms make a substantial payment to the bride’s family is flourishing in Turkmenistan, and the sums changing hands are getting higher.

The custom of paying for a bride, known as “kalym”, has seen a significant revival in Turkmenistan in the years since the Soviet period, when it was officially banned. Nine of ten Turkmen marriages contracted in 2011 involved a transaction of this kind.

USA: Bishop urges change in 'church teaching concerning all sexual relationships'

March 16, 2012

BALTIMORE -- At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for "a new study of everything to do with sexuality" -- a kind of study that he predicted "would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."

"If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change," he said.

Morocco: Rape-Marriage Law Will Be Amended

March 15, 2012

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco on Thursday said it would amend a law allowing rapists to marry their underage female victims after the suicide of a teenage girl raised doubts about the effectiveness of reforms to women's rights in the country.

Sixteen-year-old Amina El-Filali killed herself last week near the northern city of Larache by swallowing rat poison after a six-month forced marriage to the man who raped her.

Local human rights activists say the law violates women's rights and was created to avoid damage to the reputation of the victim's family.

Morocco: Amina Filali, Rape Survivor, Commits Suicide After Forced Marriage To Rapist

March 21, 2012

RABAT, Morocco -- The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco's internet activists and calls for changes to the country's laws.

An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Turkey: First country to ratify the European Convention to combat violence against women

March 14, 2012

Strasbourg -- Turkey today ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, following a decision taken by the Turkish parliament in November 2011. Seventeen other member states have also signed the Convention since its opening for signature last May in Istanbul.

2012 International Women's Day: Connecting Girls, Inspiring futures

March 8, 2012

The 8th of March of every year is a day set aside by the United Nations as International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a day to recognise, celebrate and honour women’s struggles and achievements in the past years and to call attention to other areas of concerns that are critical to women’s life in particular and the society in general.

Ugandan LGBT Activists File Case Against Anti-Gay U.S. Evangelical in Federal Court

March 14, 2012

Lawsuit Charges Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively with Persecution. Lively Also Connected to New Anti-Gay Bill Passed in Russia
 

Muslim women's rights in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

March 14, 2012

This article was originally published in Dutch in "Moslemvrouwenrechten" (Muslim Women's Rights) Al-Nisa, Islamitisch maandblad voor vrouwen (Islamic monthly for women), 31st year, Volume 2, Mar 2012.

Algérie: Observatoire des Violences faites aux Femmes, Charte d’adhésion à l’Observatoire des Violences faites aux Femmes

March 13, 2012

Confrontées depuis des décennies à des violences, des féministes algériennes  ont décidé de créer un observatoire national, indépendant, sur les violences faites aux femmes. Si le thème n’est actuellement plus un tabou, grâce, notamment aux actions de l’ensemble du mouvement féminin et féministe national, les autorités algériennes, contraintes de se saisir de ce dossier, ne lui ont pourtant pas accordé l’attention que l’on pouvait espérer.

Afghan Clerics' Conservative Blueprint for Women

March 7, 2012

As Afghanistan prepares to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, rights groups have expressed concern at a set of restrictive measures proposed by the country’s Council of Religious Scholars. Other commentators suspect the Islamic clerics of trying to win over insurgent groups like the Taleban by publicly espousing conservative views.

The 150-member council issued a “code of conduct” last week calling for segregation of the sexes in the workplace and in education, and barring women from travelling unless accompanied by a close male relative.

The "End of Stoning": Islamic Republic Style

March 12, 2012

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran in his latest report, published on March 7th, welcomed the omission of stoning as a punishment in the newly ratified Islamic Penal Code, but expressed his concern that severe punishments may still be issued at a judge's discretion in accordance with sharia law or fatwas.

Dreaming on a Mountain: from Women's Day to Women's Power

March 8, 2012

What is the point of International Women's Day on March 8? It was first established for working women's rights in 1911 and for decades was barely observed outside the Soviet bloc, where its origins in women's struggles were suffocated in rituals of men giving flowers and chocolates to female family members and employees. Such belated Valentine's gestures may be enjoyed by some, but they hardly make up for the high levels of alcohol-fuelled violence and the post-Cold War erosion of women's rights in Putin's Russia, including access to jobs, training and equal pay.

Nigeria: Women call for greater representation in government

February 29, 2012

The Nigerian government has been called upon to tackle issues of gender inequality in the country with a view to giving a greater voice to women and enhance their contribution to good governance.

The call was made at the just concluded 1st National Retreat on Women Development and National Transformation which took place in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.

Iranian responses to the “Arab spring”: appropriation and contestation

February 29, 2012

While the Iranian government authorities attempted to appropriate the Arab spring, claiming it was a continuation of the Iranian revolution of 1979, the events revived popular longing for democratic change in Iran. Ziba Mir-Hosseini tells Deniz Kandiyoti that no movement for change in Iran can afford to ignore women’s aspiration for equality – a lesson that some of the successful elements in the Arab spring may yet have to learn.

Pakistan: Abducted and forced into a Muslim marriage

February 27, 2012

KARACHI - Sixteen-year-old Ameena Ahmed*, now living in the town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, does not always respond when her mother-in-law calls out to her.

“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.