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Egypt launches first prosecution for female genital mutilation after girl dies

March 26, 2014

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo - Friday 14th March 2014


Dr Raslan Fadl and father of the 13-year-old girl who died during cutting are the first to be prosecuted in Egypt for practice of FGM.

In a landmark case, Dr Raslan Fadl is the first doctor to be prosecuted for FGM in Egypt, where the practice was banned in 2008, but is still widely accepted and carried out by many doctors in private.

Sohair al-Bata'a died in Fadl's care in June 2013, and her family admitted that she had been victim to an FGM operation carried out at their request.

The case was initially dropped after an official medical report claimed that Sohair had been treated for genital warts, and that she died from an allergic reaction to penicillin. But after a campaign by local rights groups and the international organisation Equality Now, as well as an investigation by Egypt's state-run National Population Council (NPC), the country's chief prosecutor agreed to reopen the case – leading to this week's seminal prosecution of both Fadl and Sohair's father.

"It is a very important case," said Hala Youssef, head of the NPC, which had pushed for the case to be reopened. "It's the first time that somebody in Egypt will be prosecuted for this crime, and it should be a lesson for every clinician. The law is there, and it will be implemented."

According to Unicef, 91% of married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM, 72% of them by doctors. Unicef research suggests that support for the practice is gradually falling: 63% of women in the same age bracket supported it in 2008, compared with 82% in 1995.

But according to research, FGM still has high support in areas with a lower standard of education, where proponents claim mutilation makes women less likely to commit adultery.

Families living near where Sohair died have not been put off the practice, says Reda Maarouf, a local lawyer involved in the case; they simply go to other doctors.

Sohair's family are reported to oppose her father's prosecution. "It's a cultural problem, not religious," said Vivian Foad, an official who led the NPC's investigation. "Both Muslims and Christians do it. They believe it protects a woman's chastity."

Some Islamic fundamentalists claim FGM is a religious duty, but it is not nearly as widespread in most other majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East. Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Equality Now's regional representative, said: "It's very much rooted in Egypt, but in other Arab countries – in Jordan, in Palestine, in Syria – we don't have it."

There are four main methods of committing FGM, according to theWorld Health Organisation, and Abu-Dayyeh said the practice of removing a girl's clitoris and labia was probably the most common in Egypt.

"It's a very painful procedure and I don't know why they do it. It's the worst one," said Abu-Dayyeh, who visited Sohair's grave in Mansoura, northern Egypt, as part of Equality Now's campaign. "Women will really not feel any pleasure when having sex with their husband. It's criminal."

Foad hopes Egypt's interim government will be more proactive about FGM than the administration it replaced after Mohamed Morsi's overthrow last year. Officially, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood claimed they opposed FGM, but prominent members and allies of the group expressed support for it. "People are entitled to do what suits them," said Azza al-Garf, a female MP from the Brotherhood's political arm, in 2012. Another ultra-conservative MP, Nasser al-Shaker – a member of a Salafi party that was then an ally of the Brotherhood – called for legalisation of FGM, and said it had a religious mandate.

Two years on, Egypt's leadership has been criticised internationally for other human rights abuses, but Foad hopes it will be more progressive than its predecessors on FGM. "Under Morsi, they didn't create a conducive atmosphere through the media, and through education – not only for FGM but all women's issues. Now the government is responding positively, and the media is responding positively."

Abu-Dayyeh said Fadl's prosecution was just the start. The case would count for little unless the doctor was jailed and an anti-FGM awareness campaign reached the country's poorest districts, she said.

"Now you need much more work. And it has to be done far away from Cairo – in the [rural areas] where the practice is very widespread."

Additional reporting by Manu Abdo

MEET A DEFENDER: DR ISATOU TOURAY

March 21, 2014

An unwavering commitment to ‘drop the knife’ in The Gambia

WHRDIC supports many women human rights defenders who fight for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to be free from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Despite being banned by the United Nations, this harmful practice continues to affect over 100 million women worldwide.

Stop threatening women with flogging, UN experts warn Sudan

November 8, 2013

GENEVA (6 November 2013) – Flogging women, including for “honour-related offences” amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in international law and must stop, two independent UN human rights experts said Wednesday in the wake of recent cases involving women in Sudan.

FGM in Egypt: Control over Female Sexuality

November 4, 2013

Egypt is the only country in North Africa where the practise of female genital mutilation remains widespread – despite an official ban and many public information campaigns for women. Anna Kölling reports from Cairo

According to estimates, over 90 per cent of all Egyptian women of childbearing age are affected by genital mutilation. The scale of this practice first became apparent in 1994 with a study conducted on population development and health. Activists have been fighting against female circumcision for decades and, after the popular uprising in early 2011, women's rights once again became a prominent topic in the media. Although women and men have fought side by side on the streets, the rights of women are nevertheless becoming increasingly jeopardised. Ultra-conservative groups, for example, are calling for the lifting of the ban on female circumcision, which was enacted into law in 2008. 

Government hopes new Tanzania constitution bans child marriage

October 21, 2013

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania(Thomson Reuters Foundation)--Tanzania is banking on the on-going constitutional review process of marriage laws to stop child marriages, according to a report in the government newspaper Daily News.

The marriage Act of 1971 allows girls as young as 14-years-old to marry with parental consent. On average, two out of five girls are married off before their 18th birthday, putting Tanzania among countries with the highest child marriage rates in the world.

European women go on trial for topless Tunis protest

June 7, 2013

Three European women went on trial in Tunis on Wednesday for holding a topless anti-Islamic protest, and their French lawyer said he was confident they would escape prison despite the threat of jail sentences.

 Pauline Hillier and Marguerite Stern from France, and Josephine Markmann from Germany arrived in court around 0930 GMT wearing the traditional Tunisian headscarf, or safsari.

Morocco: Women battle against domestic abuse

May 17, 2013

Countless Moroccan women, continue to face abuse and sexual violence at the hands of their husbands. About 6 million women in Morocco are victims of violence, or around one in three. Morocco’s Social Development Minister Bassima Hakkaoui, the only female minister in the country, said last week that she would try to push forward a law protecting women that has been stuck in Parliament for 8 years.

Egyptian Constitution Provides Little Protection

January 15, 2013

A secular Egyptian woman outlines the disappointments written into the country's new constitution, passed in late December. Women have had only one legal advance since the revolution: prosecuting sex harassment.

LGBT Uganda Fights Back: The Case Against Scott Lively

January 7, 2013

The U.S. evangelist and anti-gay crusader's trial begins January 7 in Massachusetts. Lively is being sued for crimes against humanity by the organization Sexual Minorities of Uganda, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

Kenya: Women Create Their Own 'Geek Culture'

December 24, 2012

When a collective of female computer programmers in Kenya needed a name for their ladies-only club, they took their inspiration from the Japanese cult film Akira.

"So akira is a Japanese word. It means energy and intelligence. And we are energetic and intelligent chicks," says Judith Owigar, the president of Akirachix.

WLUML share stories at the '16 Days Campaign'

December 10, 2012

n order to shine a spotlight on the work of activists worldwide. Every day, for sixteen days, WLUML shared short stories of and about networkers, brave women and girls who against all odds, survive and carry on with the struggle for social justice and equality.

Malian Women Demand Voice In Negotiations

December 14, 2012

As Mali pursues peace talks and also prepares for war, Malian women insist they should be at the table for both. They argue women are the primary victims of rebel and terrorist groups occupying the north.

Nigeria: The Sexual Minority And Legislative Zealotry

December 23, 2012

LET us go back a little, nearly a year ago, to that earlier attempt to interfere in, and legislate on sexual conduct between consenting adults. Profiting from that experience, I would like to caution – yet again - that it is high time we learnt to ignore what we conveniently designate and react to as ‘foreign interference’.  By now, we should be able to restrict ourselves to the a priori  position that, as rational beings, we make pronouncements on choices of ethical directions from our own collective and/or majority will, independent of what is described as ‘external dictation’.

Egypt: The Day after the Referendum

December 13, 2012

It will pass… a draft of a constitution that doesn’t represent Egyptians or their dreams. A draft that did not engage them in the dialogue for change, which passed just two before the referendum, without giving Egyptians the opportunity to discuss it. When the revolution started, Egyptians looked forward to a time where they could evaluate their beliefs and values, discuss them, even change them and reflect it all in a document that recorded the whole process. But this never happened.

Honneur Aux Dissidents

October 16, 2012

Au cours de ces dernières semaines, et dans plusieurs pays, des groupes de citoyens ont ouvertement pris position contre les fondamentalistes musulmans, y compris leurs groupes armés.

Honour the Dissenters

October 16, 2012

In the past few weeks, in several countries, groups of citizens have openly taken a stand against Muslim fundamentalists, including armed ones.

Facebook tente de faire taire la voix du soulèvement des femmes dans le monde Arabe

November 7, 2012

7 Novembre, 2012 - Le matin du 7 Novembre 2012, les 5 admins de la page “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World” se connectent à Facebook pour découvrir que le compte de l’une a été bloqué pour 30 jours, de l’autre pour 3 jours, de 2 autres pour 24 heures et enfin la dernière reçoit un avertissement comme quoi son compte sera bloqué de même.

 

Facebook attempts to shut down the voice of The Uprising of Women in the Arab World

November 7, 2012

On the morning of November 7, 2012, the 5 admins of The Uprising of Women in the Arab World log into Facebook, to find out that one’s account has been blocked for 30 days, another for 3 days, 2 others for 24 hours, and 1 other received a warning notification.

 

South Sudan: Contraceptives give women the right to choose

November 14, 2012

JUBA - Cut off from development by five decades of civil war, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and high levels of infant mortality and morbidity. Large families struggle to get by in the war-ravaged new nation.

With the help of aid agencies providing family planning services to bolster a fledgling healthcare system, women and families are starting to choose life for the first time.

Gambia: Justice prevails in a two year-long judicial harassment case against two women human rights defenders

November 15, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), welcomes the vindication of two women humanrights defenders in The Gambia following two years of judicial harassment.

Libya: Gaddafi 'raped and kidnapeed schoolgirls to serve him as sex slaves between checking emails

September 23, 2012

Colonel Gaddafi beat and raped kidnapped schoolgirls he used as sex slaves in between checking his emails, according to a new book.

French reporter Annick Cojean gathered horrific accounts from the girls forced into the former Libyan dictator's harem for the account published last week.

One victim, named as Soraya, was 15 when she was abducted in 2004 by the late tyrant's 'talent scouts' after she was chosen to give him a bouquet when he visited her school.

Rwanda: Preventing Violence Against Women

October 22, 2012

A multi-country study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that up to 71 percent of women aged 15 to 49 reported physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Violence against women commonly becomes a vicious cycle in families thus creating generational dysfunction and disease. The complete social framework of society is at risk when we let violence happen in our homes.

Northern Africa: Democracy in Development

October 26, 2012

Women have played an important role in spurring reform throughout the Middle East and North Africa. But as elections take place and constitutions are drafted, their rights are at risk of being sidelined.

Egypt: Battle Harassment on the Streets

September 20, 2012

Women's groups call on President Morsy to help combat increasing incidents of sexual harassment against women.

Egyptian woman protests in Cairo

Somalia: Marginalising women in politics

August 24, 2012

Having 30 plus women in the Somali parliament is actually an enormous achievement which "shows that there are many women competent and willing to fill public office" [EPA]

Egypt: Woman bids for leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Islamist party

October 6, 2012

For the first time, a woman is running for the leadership of the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful Islamist group. Sabah el-Saqari says she wants to increase female participation in politics and even defends a woman's right to run for president, a stance her organization rejects.

But liberals who fear Islamist rule will set back women's rights say her candidacy is just an attempt by the Brotherhood to improve its image.

Egypt: Constitution draft article raises fears for women's rights

September 23, 2012

Following publication of Article 36 of the 'Rights and Duties' section of Egypt's draft constitution, a number of political parties, coalitions and public figures have issued a joint statement expressing their "deep concern" for the draft article's wording, which, they say, could compromise women's historical rights.

Libya: Libyans 'exploiting Syrian women' with marriage offers

September 20, 2012

Hard living conditions for Syrian refugees in Libya are forcing some families to marry off their daughters to wealthy local men. Syrians say Libyans often knock at their doors asking for especially underage girls, as BBC Arabic's Ahmed Maher reports from Benghazi.

Ahmed Atrash is among hundreds of Syrian refugees in the country's second largest city, Benghazi. He and his family have fled the raging war back home.

Egypt: Women Insist on their Rights

September 21, 2012

Egypt's women played a crucial role in the country's 'Arab Spring' revolution. But, in the post-Mubarak era, they are finding that they have to keep fighting for their rights.

Egypt: The feminine critique

September 12, 2012

For the first time in Egyptian history, a female anchor on state television has covered her hair with a head scarf. Under the Mubarak regime, women were forbidden to wear a head scarf on state television in order to depict a more modern appearance; however, current President Mohammed Morsi, who is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, has lifted the ban. Thus, women are now allowed to wear a head scarf on state television if they chose to do so.

Libya: The Fight For Women’s Rights Goes On

September 4, 2012

Following the Libyan revolution, in which women played a crucial part, and the participation of large numbers of female citizens in the July 2012 elections, Libyan women are now looking forward to a partnership and full equality with their male counterparts."Libyan women were instrumental in the country choosing a liberal and progressive government in the recent elections as many of them voted for the winning National Forces Alliance (NFA) of Mahmoud Jibril," said Nadine Nasrat, from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Somalia: a call for sisterhood

September 4, 2012

In the run up to next week's Presidential election in Somalia, Zainab M. Hassan writes an open letter to new women parliamentarians asking them to demonstrate collective leadership in their choice of someone to lead a ruined country.

Egypt's sexual harassment of women 'epidemic'

October 14, 2012

Campaigners in Egypt say the problem of sexual harassment is reaching epidemic proportions, with a rise in such incidents over the past three months. For many Egyptian women, sexual harassment - which sometimes turns into violent mob-style attacks - is a daily fact of life, reports the BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo.

Last winter, an Egyptian woman was assaulted by a crowd of men in the city of Alexandria.

Egypt: Women Human Rights Defenders Concept Papers

June 27, 2012

The Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) program is issuing a series of concept papers that aim to introduce the notion of WHRDs: who they are, what they do, and why they should be considered as a distinct group of human rights defenders. The categories of WHRDs analyzed in the concept papers include: vocational women (doctors, nurses, and teachers); students; political candidates; civil society activists; protesters; and workers (industrial and agrarian sectors).

Egypt: The shape of the second republic

August 21, 2012

Most Egyptians will come to remember 13 August 2012 as more than just another long hot day of the holy month of Ramadan. Just a few hours before sunset when millions waited eagerly to break their fast, news broke out of a major development in the ongoing power struggle between two main power houses: the generals representing the country's military past, and the political faction seeking to control its future.

Returning to school after escaping child marriage

October 10, 2012

In recent years, the international community has begun to place increased attention on girls’ education generating a better understanding of the underlying causes and consequences of the disparities, and an international consensus on the need to address the issue. Much has been done to create awareness and demonstrate that change is not only necessary but also possible.

Egypt: New hotline to report sexual harassment

September 18, 2012

Egypt's National Council for Women announced on Tuesday a new hotline dedicated to receiving reports of sexual harassment: 08008883888.

The council issued a statement on their Facebook page stating that they are working with the interior ministry to swiftly reinforce the sexual harassment law on thugs and offenders.

Ambassador Mervat Talawy, head of the council, stressed on the importance of reinforcing the law, considering the council a representation of all women in Egypt and pointing to its keenness to preserve the dignity of women.

Congolese women stitching community back together

September 5, 2012

As documented in a new report from the Enough Project, which ranks electronics firms on their progress in cleaning up their supply chains of conflict minerals, there are glimmers of hope for eastern Congo despite ongoing violence there, which is driven partly by conflict minerals.

South Africa: Women are the primary education financers for their families

September 10, 2012

"Educate a girl, and you educate a village," an African proverb goes, illustrating the ripple effect of educating women and the role that women play in making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Swaziland: New Legislation Outlaws Child Marriage

September 10, 2012

MBABANE- Swazi men who continue to marry underage girls through the age-old Swazi custom kwendzisa will now be breaking the law.

Kwendzisa is a process where the parent or guardian marries off a girl child to an adult male without her consent.

TOGO: Women Push Sex Strike to Unseat President

August 26, 2012

The female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of the country's president.

Women are being asked to start withholding sex from their husbands or partners as of Monday, said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the women's wing of the group Let's Save Togo. She said the strike will put pressure on Togo's men to take action against President Faure Gnassingbe.

Morocco’s top business leader, a woman, defies stereotypes and an Islamist government’s prejudices

August 19, 2012

Her laugh is infectious, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a high school drama class or a Hollywood hair salon. But this is the Arab world, not Tinseltown. And Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun is no lightweight.

She leads Morocco’s General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), a giant trade association roughly analogous to the U.S. chamber of Commerce.

Bensalah is also a licensed pilot, a Harley-Davidson rider, a race car driver, a competitive golfer — and a 49-year-old mother of three.

Somalia: Female genital mutilation banned under new constitution

August 17, 2012

Activists welcome measure but urge need for health warnings, community empowerment schemes, and dissociation from Islam.

Somalia: Woman Beheaded

August 21, 2012

SIHA Public Statement:

 – Peace in Somalia will Remain a Superficial until the Human Rights of Women are Protected.

Tunisia: Preserve the Rights of Women!

August 22, 2012

Tunisia has always led gender equality in the Middle East for the past fifty years, with women playing an active role in civil society and enjoying the same legal rights as men. Now, with the old regime overthrown this past spring, many Tunisians are concerned that Al-Nahda, a more conservative Islamic party, will come to power and pull the nation back into the past. 

Sudan: Free Layla Ibrahim Issa! Stop Stoning!

August 18, 2012

Dear friends, 

Layla’s life is still in danger. We need you to take action to save her.

Layla Ibrahim Issa is a 23-year old mother who was sentenced to death by stoning by the Mayo court in Khartoum, Sudan. We put out an action alert to support Layla earlier this month, and we extend our thanks to those of you who raised their voices; but Layla is still in prison with her 6-month old child. 

The authorities have not yet responded to our demands to immediately repeal the verdict, and stop the planned execution. 

Egypt: Challenging a Women's place through Street Art

August 9, 2012

Merna Thomas, a twenty-four-year-old activist, heads out for another day of revolution. Armed with brushes and small buckets of paint, her goal today is not the overthrow of a regime, but something perhaps even more daring: to change Egyptian attitudes toward women. On the side of a downtown building, she puts her graffiti skills to work with an illustration of Samira Ibrahim—hailed for bravely speaking out after becoming one of the victims of the infamous virginity tests that Egyptian security forces performed on detained female protesters in 2011. Passersby mumble streams of complaints.

Senegal: Percée des femmes à l’Assemblée nationale

July 12, 2012

DAKAR, 12 juil (IPS) - Au Sénégal, les femmes représentent 43,33 pour cent des 150 députés élus aux dernières élections législatives du 1er juillet, un record historique dû à la Loi sur la parité votée en 2010. Mais, la percée des femmes relance le débat sur la qualité du travail parlementaire. 

Sudan: The new Kandakas and Sudanese women at the frontline of the revolution

July 27, 2012

Some 2,000 years ago, during the Nubian period, North Sudan was ruled by women, including Queen Kandaka, famous for her strength. Today, a new generation of Kandakas is taking back the streets and fighting at the frontline of the revolution. 


السودان: ينبغي وضع حد لعقوبة الرجم، وإصلاح القانون الجنائي

July 30, 2012

 

تدين منظمة العفو الدولية الحكم بالرجم حتى الموت الذي صدر بحق ليلى إبراهيم عيسى جمول، وتدعو الحكومة السودانية إلى وقف تنفيذ الحكم وإصلاح قانونها الجنائي بلا تأخير، بهدف إلغاء عقوبة الإعدام إلغاءً تاماً.

Sudan: End stoning, reform the criminal law

July 30, 2012

Amnesty International condemns the sentencing of Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul to death by stoning and calls on the Sudanese government to halt the execution and to reform its criminal law without delay, with the aim to abolish corporal punishment.

Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul, a 23-year old Sudanese woman, was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery on 10 July 2012 by the Criminal Court of Mayo, in Khartoum, under Article 146 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Code.

Morocco: Moroccan women build land rights movement

July 18, 2012

RABAT, Morocco — When Rkia Bellot’s family sold their communal land in 2004, each of her eight brothers received a share of the proceeds. But Bellot, a single woman, got nothing.

That’s because Bellot’s family land was part of the 37 million acres in Morocco governed by the orf, or tribal law. When this type of family land is sold, the unmarried or widowed women in the family, collectively called the Soulaliyate, often become destitute.

South Africa: Bride abductions 'a distortion' of South Africa's culture

July 12, 2012

When cows are traded for an unwilling bride, rural Zulu women lose their freedom, and more. Called thwala, the practice is often abused, activists say.

 NORTHWEST OF HOWICK, South Africa —

— She was named Democracy in Zulu, at a time when her country had none.

A few years later, the constitution born of the historic South African election that ended apartheid made Nonkululeko "free" and "equal." But the eight cows paid for her as a bride price mean that she is neither.

Tunisia: Radio show host banned after station boss storms studio to confront outspoken guest

July 9, 2012

Tunisian radio journalist Nadia Heddaoui Mabkhout was denied access to the headquarters of RTCI (Radio Tunis Chaîne Internationale), suspended from work and had her radio show cancelled last Friday.

Mabkhout was on her way to host her show Café Noir, recently renamed L’invité du Journal, which is aired on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 to 9am. She was accompanied by her guest, Neziha Rejiba (alias Om Zied), a well-known Tunisian activist and writer.

Sudan: Media and bloggers censored as protests spread across Sudan

July 2, 2012

On 17 June, when a number of female students led a peaceful protest marching from the female dormitories to the male ones at the University of Khartoum, they did not know that they would inspire protests across the country. Many inside Sudan are calling the ongoing protests an “Intifada” —  an Arabic word for  rebellion or resistance — and there is much truth in that.

Sudan: A Story of the Lives Affected When One Country Became Two

July 9, 2012

On 9 July 2011, when South Sudan became an independent country, Rose Michael, a South Sudanese woman who had lived most of her life in Khartoum, decided to stay in the city where she had a great job and owned a house. But in April 2012, Rose had to leave for Juba after her employer let her go. She planned to return to Khartoum. But then she lost her Sudanese passport and now she can't return because the war has escalated and flights are cancelled.

Sudan: Fatma Emam on the Sudan revolts

May 28, 2012

I write this on the tenth day of the #SudanRevolts tide that has started to sweep Sudan.

Sudan is a land of revolutionaries. They started in the 20th century with the Mahdi revolution against the British occupation and the ruling Egyptian government and today Sudan is revolting against militarization, human rights atrocities, poverty, corruption and fundamentalism.

Egypt Run-Off Elections: Doaa Abdelaal’s First-Hand Account

June 15, 2012

The run-off for presidency elections in Egypt are this weekend – the first after the ongoing Egyptian revolution. The two candidates were the least expected to be at this stage: Mohamed Morsi, who represents the “political arm” of a group, the Muslim Brotherhood, that sees “Islam is the Solution,” and the other is Ahmed Shafik, who belongs to the Military that has been running Egypt for the last (60) years and still. Every one who is following the progress of events and incidents in Egypt is curious and everyone inside Egypt is worried, even if their decision is to choose one over the other or to boycott the run-off.

UN: Sierra Leone’s health minister to serve as UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict

June 22, 2012

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Zainab Hawa Bangura, currently the Minister of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, as his new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

She will replace Margot Wallström, a Swedish politician with a long history of defending women’s rights, who had served in the position since it was created two years ago.

Sudan: Activists face rape, one fights back

June 14, 2012

In many regards, Safiya Ishaq is an unremarkable 25-year-old. She is excellent at braiding hair but terrible at being on time. She studied fine arts at Khartoum University in Sudan. Not unusual for a student, Ishaq became involved with politics. She joined Girifna, a pro-democracy movement formed in 2009 on the eve of Sudan’s first multiparty elections in more than two decades aimed at mobilizing citizens to vote. Conducting mass voter registration drives, it quickly evolved into a socio-political movement demanding change in Sudan.

Ghana: Land Tenure System and Women's Rights

June 8, 2012

Land relations are critical for women's right in Ghana. This is because of the centrality of land as a resource for the livelihoods of the majority of our population, food, water, fuel and medical plants.

Those who control lands and its resources also gain social and political power and authority. As such, women's unequal land rights affect their access to other resources and their economic, social and political status in society.

Algeria: A new trailblazer for women in politics

May 13, 2012

Now that Algeria has the largest proportion of women lawmakers in the Arab world, workmen at the national assembly building have some urgent modifications to make.

While the men's washroom just outside the debating chamber is clearly marked with the silhouette of a man, there are so far no signs for the women's. On the opening session of the new parliament on May 26, two of the newly elected female members had to ask for directions to the rest-room.

Mali: Students flee Sharia in northern schools

May 22, 2012

BAMAKO - Strict Sharia, or Islamic religious laws, imposed by the Islamist rebels controlling vast swathes of northern Mali are driving thousands of students out of schools. Dress codes have been imposed, boys and girls are forced to learn separately, and subjects deemed to promote “infidelity” have been struck off the curriculum.

Outraged parents are transferring their children and some students are opting to miss examinations rather than learn under these conditions.

Togo: Délivrer les enfants handicapés des traditions paralysantes

June 21, 2012

LOMÉ - Au nom de la peur, de la honte et de croyances anciennes bien ancrées, les enfants handicapés du Togo sont souvent la cible de railleries, ils vivent cachés dans leur maison pendant des années et sont négligés, mis à l'écart de la vie de la communauté, ce qui aggrave leur situation.

« On m'a dit que j'étais une bonne à rien. Même mes frères et sours m'ont dit que j'étais inférieure à eux, et ils se sont moqués de moi », a dit Sofia Adama*, 18 ans, qui a contracté un handicap suite à une injection mal faite lorsqu'elle était bébé.

Egypt: Campaign in response to potential lowering of marriage age for girls

May 3, 2012

Plan is deeply concerned at new proposals by the Egyptian parliament to reduce the legal age for girls to marry to 14 – just 4 years after a successful campaign increased the age limit to 18.

Early marriage can have a devastating impact on girls’ lives – they are more likely to be forced out of school, live in poverty, have early pregnancies and endure health complications or die during childbirth.

Legal protection

Egypt: Women Refuse To Be Silenced By Assaults

June 10, 2012

Violence against women demonstrators in Egypt erupted again on Tuesday when a frenzied mob of 200 men sexually assaulted a female protester in Tahrir Square. Then, during a rally on Friday to protest the incident, about 50 women and their male allies were themselves brutalized and chased away by another mob.

Cameroon: Matrilineal Custom Puts Widows in Limbo

June 8, 2012

DIKOME BALUE, Cameroon -- James Elangwe, 87, belongs to the Balues, the only clan in which inheritance passes through the female line.

But this doesn't mean that women inherit. Instead, it means that when a man dies, the first son of the man's sister inherits.

Elangwe says matrilineal inheritance puts women at a greater disadvantage than patrilineal inheritance because wealth leaves the immediate family.

Uganda: Changing attitudes to widespread early marriage

June 7, 2012

I’ve been working to defend children’s rights since way back. Growing up in rural Uganda I was always aware that many of my friends were denied the chance to fulfil their potential.

Eventually you find that very few friends you started school with complete it with you, and when you look back and think why, you realise it is often because their rights weren’t fulfilled – or protected.

Morocco: Rural education offers Morocco's women promise of a quiet revolution

May 21, 2012

Women in remote parts of Morocco are benefiting from a literacy scheme that also teaches civil rights, numeracy and beekeeping.

In a tiny classroom at the Maison de Citoyenneté support centre for the education of rural girls and women in Beni Zuli, an isolated village in Zagora, deep in south-eastern Morocco's Draa Valley, Fatima Kadmire is describing how learning to read and write is transforming her life.

Egypt: Elections - a Choice Between Islamic Dictatorship and Military Authoritarianism

May 31, 2012

For the next and final round of presidential elections, Egyptians are being asked to choose between an Islamic or military dictatorship both claiming legitimacy through the ballot box.

Egypt: Call for sexual harassment law

May 14, 2012

Egypt’s liberal Free Egyptians Party (FEP) declared its support for the calls by women’s rights organizations and NGOs , which called for anti-harassment laws, an Egyptian online news website reported on Monday.

The party said it stands against “the phenomenon of sexual harassment” and called for the passing of a law criminalizing the act, Egypt’s Bikyamasr news website reported.

Sudan: Women on frontline risking all to call for reform

May 15, 2012

In Sudan’s conservative society where many believe a woman’s reputation and honor doesn’t belong to her alone, young female activists who are increasingly choosing to be on the frontline in the fight for democracy and human rights. But not without a cost! They have faced more direct physical and sexual assault to deter them from standing up for their rights. “The rape of Safia Ishaq made our female members scared and reluctant to work, they are strong, but this crossed a red line,” said Sarah Faisal, who is affiliated with the youth movement, Girifna that is an Arabic word for “We are Fed Up”. She was referring to the rape ordeal of one the movement’s members last year. Girifna aims at using civil resistance to overthrow the current Sudanese government.

Egypt: New Al-Azhar document to safeguard women's rights

May 13, 2012

“Al-Azhar, the country’s highest religious institution, intends to prepare a new document to safeguard women’s rights, as enshrined in the Islamic Sharia,” said Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar.

Egypt: Brotherhood mobile FGM convoys condemned by women’s group

May 14, 2012

CAIRO: A number of Egyptian human rights groups have submitted a communication to the Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud against the Muslim Brotherhood`s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to investigate the complaints of people in the village of Abu Aziz in the Minya governorate, south of Cairo, over the existence of a large medical convoy organized by the party that wanders streets and does medical examination on people, including female circumcision, or female genital mutilation, in violation of Egyptian law, conventions and treaties signed by Egypt.

Egypt: Women accuse Egyptian military of sexual assault

May 10, 2012

Women protesters and rights groups have accused Egyptian troops and prison authorities of sexual assault during the latest crackdown on demonstrations, reviving allegations they are using abuse to intimidate female detainees and protesters.

The charges made on Wednesday added new tension to Egypt's presidential election campaign, just two weeks before the voting.

Talk is Cheap: Addressing Sexual Harassment in Tunisia

April 14, 2012

With a progressive Code of Personal Status, Tunisia is commonly regarded as the Arab world’s most advanced country in terms of women’s rights. Yet sexual harassment exists in Tunisia, too. Unlike in Egypt, sexual harassment has not entered the arena of public discourse in Tunisia, and is often dismissed as a non-issue.

Not victims of tradition: Women speak out and advocate for girls facing abusive fates

May 2, 2012

The two women met for the first time last week at a sleek Georgetown hotel, where they were speakers at a glittering charity dinner. They shook hands and hugged across a vast gulf of culture, geography and faith: one a devout Muslim from West Africa with her hair carefully hidden under a tight scarf, the other a gregarious South Asian in a stylish sari and costume earrings.

Zainah Anwar: Arab Spring opens window of opportunity for women in Mideast

April 29, 2012
In many countries of the Middle East, women are wondering what the Arab Spring means for them. Some observers are concerned that the power vacuum will leave the door open for Islamist groups to take power and force changes opposing women’s rights.

 Zainah Anwar, a leading Malaysian social activist and intellectual, is not one of them. She is even excited about the prospects that the Arab Spring could have for women.

Libya: A ban on religious political parties

April 25, 2012

Libyan authorities have banned the formation of political parties based on religious principles ahead of elections scheduled to take place in June.

Parties based on faith, tribe or ethnicity will not be eligible to take part, a government spokesman said.

The National Transitional Council said the law, passed on Tuesday, was designed to preserve "national unity".

But analysts say it is likely to infuriate religious parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Crisis in Mali: Fundamentalism, Women's Rights, and Cultural Resistance

April 15, 2012

In conversation with Jessica Horn, a leading Malian women's rights activist identifies the roots of the crisis in Mali, and the opportunistic use of the crisis by Malian and international Islamic fundamentalists to gain a popular foothold in the north of the country.

Join VNC for 2 events April 21st at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey

April 8, 2012

Join VNC for two events on 21 April 2012, at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. We'll be hosting a talk show on "The Nexus between Culture, Gender and Other Identities: Resisting Discrimination and Reclaiming Space", as well as a workshop on "Visioning Cultures Free from Violence: Transnational Advocacy and Communications using Visual Arts and Digital Media". Full details below.

Sudan: Rainbow Sudan shines a light on gay and lesbian life in a country where homosexuality is still punishable by death

March 30, 2012

A new online lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender magazine in Sudan, north Africa, is a first for the country where homosexuality is still punished by death and an opportunity for gay people to start discussing their lives and hopes for the future.

Rainbow Sudan published articles discussing topics including being gay in Sudan, the history of homosexuality in the country, Islam and sexuality, being lesbian and Muslim, poetry and more.

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.

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
 

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.

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.

AWID Statement Of Solidarity Against The Reintroduction Of The "anti-homosexuality" Bill

February 22, 2012

The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) is gravely concerned about the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda's Parliament on February 7th, 2012. At the bill's reintroduction, the Speaker informed the House that the bill will not need to be considered again by the "Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee", thereby making the process faster and raising the possibility of it becoming law.

Egypt's feminists prepare for a long battle

February 7, 2012

Women in the country say their struggle for equal rights is universal, whether the Islamists or military are in charge.

With a tumultuous year behind it, Egypt is bracing for a fresh start - but this new democracy carries some old baggage, including the classic challenge of the marginalisation of the country's women. 

Civil society ignored: newly passed Electoral Law does not guarantee any parliamentary seats for Women in Libya.

February 9, 2012

The Voice of Libyan Women unfortunately reports that regardless of the numerous petitions, demonstrations and  alternative drafts suggested by Libyan civil society  the Electoral Law passed by the National Transitional Council of Libya on Wednesday, February 8th 2012 does not in any way guarantee any seats for women at all. Nor does it guarantee a minimum of 40 parliamentary seats for women, despite several statements.

Egypt: Salafi religious conservatives to lead education reform

February 9, 2012

CAIRO: If religious conservatives have their way, educational reform in Egypt will reflect their strict and literalist interpretation of Islam.

This will include separate programs for girls to teach them their “special roles and God-given obligations.”

A member of the ultra-conservative Islamist Salafi Al-Nour party, Shabaan Abdel Aleen, will be chairing Parliament’s new education committee.

From Malabo to New York: Support the UNGA Resolution Banning FGM Worldwide

February 6, 2012

WELCOME REMARKS BY

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GAMCOTRAP

ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF

ZERO TOLERANCE TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION:

FROM MALABO TO NEW YORK: SUPPORT THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BANNING FGM WORLDWIDE.

 

February 6th 2012

Honorable Minister of Health and Social Welfare

The National Assembly Members

Her Excellency the U S Ambassador to the Republic of the Gambia

Malawi: Street Vendors Lose Customers after Stripping Women Naked

January 25, 2012

LILONGWE - A campaign to stop people buying merchandise from street vendors is gaining momentum in Malawi’s main cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu after the small-scale traders went on a rampage undressing women and girls wearing trousers, leggings, shorts and mini-skirts.

Taking on violence against women in Africa

January 30, 2012

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

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.”

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. 
          

Political Transitions Provide Opportunities to Promote Women’s Human Rights

December 26, 2011

26 December 2011 - This year, millions of women have taken to the streets in the Arab world to demand change. 

“This year has been eventful in terms of democratisation, the recognition of freedom of expression and people’s empowerment,” said UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay. “The courage and determination of women involved in the Arab spring should be a source of inspiration for all of us.”

Uganda: Gay and Vilified in Uganda

December 22, 2011

WHEN Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this month that the United States would use diplomacy to encourage respect for gay rights around the world, my heart leapt. I knew her words — “gay people are born into, and belong to, every society in the world”— to be true, but in my country they are too often ignored.

Egypt: Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Soldiers’ Abuse

December 20, 2011

Thousands of women massed in Tahrir Square here on Tuesday afternoon and marched to a journalists’ syndicate and back in a demonstration that grew by the minute into an extraordinary expression of anger at the treatment of women by the military police as they protested against continued military rule.

Somalia: UN Denounces 'Privatization' of Violence Against Somali Women

December 16, 2011

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Rashida Manjoo spoke to reporters in Nairobi Friday about her just-concluded mission to Somalia, where she examined the occurrence of gender-based violence there.

Accusations of Sorcery Still Drive Women from their Homes in Africa.

September 12, 2011

It was Pakpema Bleg’s own family who first accused her of practicing witchcraft.

Her nephew had accidentally pricked his finger on a needle, and the finger swelled up with infection. Bleg hadn’t been there. But the next morning, she says, her brother-in-law arrived outside her house. “Witch!” he allegedly bellowed for all her neighbors to hear. “Witch!” Then, her nephew’s older brother began beating her, she says, and soon others in the village joined in.

بيان حملة ال16 يوم لمناهضة العنف ضد المرأة

December 7, 2011

 

ونحن نحتفي بحملة ال16 يوماً لمناهضة العنف ضد المرأة التي تجسد الارتباط الوثيق بين مناهضة العنف ضد المرأة وتعزيز وحماية حقوق الانسان باسم منظمات المجتمع المدني نحي النساء في العالم، التحية لكل النشطاء في الدفاع عن حقوق المرأة، التحية للمنظمات الدولية التي ظلت تقدم الدعم والمناصرة لبرامج حماية حقوق المرأة، ونخص بالتحية  المرأة  السودانية والرائدات  اللائي مهدن لنا الدروب، والنساء اللائي يملأن الساحات والبيوت بالعطاء الصبور ويشاركن في الدفع بالمجتمع للأمام

 

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

Kenya: Religious leaders oppose anti-abortion clerics

September 17, 2011

Two clerics yesterday dismissed doctors and religious leaders opposed to safe abortion as enemies of women rights. The christian and muslim clerics said the abortion debate in Kenya was demeaning to women. “In this society we are all at the mercy of men,” said Rev Timothy Njoya.

Egypt: The unclear future of women

September 19, 2011

CAIRO, September 13, 2011‑Egyptian women currently face numerous threats that will not only destroy the goals of equality, freedom and change voiced in the January revolution, but the advances women have made over the last century.

Because Mrs. Mubarak was extremely active in women’s issues, including the advancement of women’s rights, many Egyptians, especially men, equate women’s rights with the former corrupt dictatorship of Hosni Mubara.

Tunisia: Leading the way on women's rights in MENA

September 10, 2011

Last December, Tunisians rose up against their dictator, triggering a political earthquake that has sent shockwaves through most of the Middle East and north Africa. Now, Tunisia is leading the way once again – this time on the vexed issue of gender equality.

Kenya: Law passed against FGM

September 8, 2011

Kenya has become the latest African country to ban female genital mutilation, with the passing of a law making it illegal to practice or procure it or take somebody abroad for cutting. The law even prohibits derogatory remarks about women who have not undergone FGM. Offenders may be jailed or fined or both.

Members of the Kenyan Women Parliamentary Association said it was a historic day. Linah Kilimo, its chairperson, said the move would improve school attendance. And Sophia Abdi Noor said:

Tunisia: Government Lifts Restrictions on Women’s Rights Treaty

September 6, 2011

(Beirut) September 6, 2011 ─ Tunisia’s lifting of key reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an important step toward gender equality, Human Rights Watch said today. The Tunisian government should next ensure that all domestic laws conform to international standards and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, Human Rights Watch said. 

Nigeria: Favour Irabor - Money, religion & patriarchy pose problems for female politicians

September 4, 2011

It’s over four months now since the last general elections, but Nigerian women politicians and even stakeholders are yet to recuperate from the shock of its outcome. Unlike previous elections, women vied enmass for various political offices, but  few of them got in! As a response to this fall which has also translated into an abysmal reduction in the representation of women in political offices(apart from the ministerial offices), the question of ‘what went wrong?’  has continued to take centre-stage at most women gatherings.

Burkina Faso: Free Legal Aid for Women Accused of being Witches

November 19, 2010

PARIS (TrustLaw) - What links a British-based law firm to an initiative aimed at protecting women in Burkina Faso from accusations of witchcraft?

The answer's global pro bono work.

Earlier this year, a charity caring for older people, HelpAge International, asked Advocates for International Development (A4ID) to help with its work in, among others, Burkina Faso where it's been trying to raise awareness about the plight of women who've fallen victim to witchcraft allegations.

Cameroon: Activists fight breast ironing tradition

July 27, 2011

(CNN)-- Every morning before school, nine-year-old Terisia Techu would undergo a painful procedure. Her mother would take a burning hot pestle straight out of a fire and use it to press her breasts.

With tears in her eyes as she recalls what it was like, Terisia tells CNN that one day the pestle was so hot, it burned her, leaving a mark. Now 18, she is still traumatized.

Libya: Women active force in revolution

August 19, 2011

Last year, during the holy month of Ramadan, I was in Tripoli researching the status of women in Libya's society, along with Journalist and Author Natalie Moore. We interviewed women across the spectrum: artists, housewives, teachers, government officials, university students and businesswomen. The stories were later aired on Chicago Public Radio.

Tunisia: Women's rights hang in the balance

August 20, 2011

For 55 years, Tunisia celebrated Women's Day every August 13, representing the push for gender equality that has been one of the hallmarks of the North African nation's post-colonial era.

Nigeria: Changing attitudes to contraception

July 27, 2011

DAKAR, 27 July 2011 (IRIN) - Health workers say an apparent rise in contraceptive use in Nigeria stems largely from a willingness by traditional and religious leaders in some regions to use their influence in promoting reproductive health. 

In the predominantly Muslim north, where contraceptive use has historically been far lower than the national average, the support of traditional leaders has helped change attitudes in communities where contraception was long regarded as taboo. 

Somalia: UN Reports of Rape of Somali Women Fleeing Famine

August 11, 2011

The United Nations official leading the fight against sexual violence in times of conflict today voiced concern over reports that women and girls fleeing famine in Somalia were being raped or abducted and forced into marriage by bandits and other armed groups as they tried to reach refugee camps in Kenya.

Tanzania - Villages Program to End Witchcraft Accusations

June 30, 2011

Imagine living in a community your whole life. Then suddenly, you are accused of witchcraft and told to leave. Or you are sent threatening letters saying you have bewitched a neighbour's child. Or you are attacked and slashed with a machete during the night.

Rigid Coptic Divorce Law Sparks Brawl, Protests

August 4, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)--Despite the stigma attached to divorce, ending a marriage is still relatively easy for Muslim women in Egypt. All they have to do is file paperwork with a family court and the deed is done, as long as they're not seeking alimony or damages from their husbands.

For the country's millions of Orthodox Christians, or Copts, it's been nearly impossible since Pope Shenouda III, the head of one of the most conservative churches in Christianity, forbade divorce except in the case of conversion or adultery three years ago.

Tunisia: Sit-in against 'fundamentalism, extremism, and violence' in centre of Tunis

July 2, 2011

Dozens of people participated Saturday in a sit-in in the center of Tunis to warn against "fundamentalism, extremism and violence", AFP noted. 

Gathered on the steps of the City Theatre, the participants came following calls on social networks, waving placards saying "no to violence, yes to tolerance," "against any religious extremism", "No to Algeria of the 90s."

The event turned into impromptu happening, dozens of passers-by sit down to discuss the place of Islam in society, freedom of expression or the defense of the Revolution’s gains.

Egypt: ‘They Ogle, Touch, Use the Filthiest Language Imaginable’

May 30, 2011

CAIRO, May 30, 2009 (IPS) - As night falls over Egypt’s capital, youth gather along the banks of the Nile where a carnivalesque atmosphere prevails.

Tamer and Mido have taken up positions on the railing next to the river. As a group of veiled teenage girls approaches, the duo works in tandem. Tamer removes the girls’ headscarves with his eyes, while sexually nuanced words roll off Mido’s tongue. 

Liberia: Tackling sexual violence head on

June 27, 2011

Rape continues to be the most frequently reported serious crime in Liberia. A new multipronged approach is underway to reduce sexual and gender-based violence.

MONROVIA, Liberia (WOMENSENEWS)-- Korlu, a young mother of two, lives on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital here. A high school dropout, Korlu, who declined to give her last name for safety reasons, says when she was a teen, she became pregnant. "My parents put me out of their house because they couldn't bear the shame of me getting pregnant," she says.

Kenya: I was told that I deserved to die – for being a female journalist

July 3, 2011

It's not always easy being a female investigative journalist, even in the west. But imagine going to do an interview and not being able to shake hands with the interviewee or indeed even being able to sit in front of him to ask questions.

In Somali culture – I grew up in a Somali family in Kenya – it is wrong to speak and raise an opinion in front of men or even to shake hands with a man of no relation to you. Even travelling for work unaccompanied by a relative is not permitted.

Egypt: Military pledges to stop forced 'virginity tests'

June 27, 2011

The head of Egypt’s military intelligence has promised Amnesty International that the army will no longer carry out forced ‘virginity tests’ after defending their use, during a meeting with the organisation in Cairo on Sunday.

Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), discussed the issue with Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty months after the organisation publicized allegations of the forced ‘tests’. 

Widow Cleansing: Harmful Traditional Practice

April 13, 2009

Violence against women still is universal, and while it has many roots, especially in cultural tradition and customs, it is gender inequality that lies at the cross-cultural heart of violent practices. Violence against women is deeply embedded in human history and its universal perpetration through social and cultural norms serves the main purpose of reinforcing male-dominated power structures.

Ethiopia: Girls fight child marriages

June 7, 2011

"I wanted to get an education but my parents were determined to marry me off," says Himanot Yehewala, an Ethiopian girl who was married five years ago at the age of 13.

Sudan: Early Marriage Often Ends Girls' Education

June 1, 2011


UBA (AlertNet) - It took years of pleading before Jane Aketch persuaded her parents to send her to primary school in the dusty bush of South Sudan's Eastern Equatoria state.

Although her parents wanted her to learn how to read and write, like most of the communities in Aketch's home county of Magwi, they did not place particular importance in furthering a girl's education.

Rwanda: Rape, justice and privacy

June 2, 2011


KIGALI, 2 June 2011 (IRIN) - A new report has rekindled debate on whether the Rwandan government "betrayed" women who were raped during the 1994 genocide by letting community-based gacaca courts process their cases. 

Egypt: Revolution Women March Against Religious Strife

May 10, 2011


Arabic - Below

(Cairo, May 10, 2011) A large number of Egyptian women participated in a march entitled "No to sectarian strife" which appeared with its ugly face in the district of Imbaba. They participated in this march to stress the values of citizenship and tolerance and to prevent the strife that has been witnessed in the district and in many different places in Egypt after the revolution.

Uganda: Gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera granted Martin Ennals award

May 4, 2011


Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera has been given the prestigious Martin Ennals rights award.

The 10 organisations which make up the award jury said she was courageous and faced harassment because of her work. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, and can be punished by long jail terms.

In January, her colleague David Kato was murdered not long after suing a paper that outed them both as gay. Police denied the killing was because of his sexuality.

Zambia: Young Women, Harmful Cultural Practices

December 2, 2010

Some cultural practices are progressive. Others are harmful to women and girls and they perpetuate abuse. These practices relegate women to inferior positions with respect to property, inheritance, marriage and decision making. In most cases, culture is used as an excuse to continue various forms of abuse that promote sexual, physical and psychological harm.

Middle East/North Africa: Journalists & Cyber Activists In the Line of Fire

April 28, 2011


Article XIX Statement: From Morocco to Bahrain, everyday people have taken on the cast iron hold of dictatorships and absolute monarchies resulting in an extraordinary collective awakening that has paved the way for epochal change in the region. The youth movement, which lies at the core of the uprisings, continues to play a prominent role in the pro-democracy and pro-reform demonstrations, which have swept through the region, unabated by government clampdowns or concessions.

 

Uganda: HIV/AIDS Challenges with Child Marriages, Polygamy, Civil War

April 24, 2011


In northern Uganda, daughters with limited understanding of HIV/AIDS are married off at young ages into polygamous households still struggling with the legacy of a brutal 16-year civil war. The practice is a recipe for rapid disease transmission.

GULU, Uganda (WOMENSENEWS)--After getting married at 18, Alice Ongom, who is now 45, settled down in Gulu, a northern Ugandan city that was a battleground during the country's intermittent civil war from 1986 to 2003.

Algeria: Artwork on rape of women by fundamentalist armed groups censored at Sharjah Biennial

April 6, 2011


Because art is free to be impolite…

Even as the Arab spring unfolds across the region, I learned with profound astonishment that Mr. Jack Persekian, director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, has been dismissed as “punishment” for allowing an artist invited to the Sharjah Biennial total freedom of expression. I am the artist in question. My installation “Maportaliche/Ecritures sauvages” [It has no importance/Wild Writings] has been censored and removed from the Biennial.

Child Brides Often Stop Education & Continue Poverty

February 28, 2011


In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa 38% of women marry before they are 18 years old. Child marriages, as defined by UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency, are those undertaken by women under the age of 18 and include unions where a woman and a man live together as if they were married.

Egypt: Remember the Women as Agents of Revolution Change

February 23, 2011


Women fueled the revolution, should shape future.

"I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square and I will stand alone." With these words, Asmaa Mahfouz put out a call on YouTube that went viral, helping to ignite Egypt's revolution. A 26-year-old business management graduate, Mahfouz helped rally Egyptians for the initial Jan. 25 protest, to "say no to corruption, no to this regime." But Mahfouz's activism had its roots in another protest led by another woman.

Malawi: Witchcraft Legal Aid in Africa

February 17, 2011


NEW YORK — Accusations of witchcraft in Africa have gained increasing attention because of the severe impact they can have on the lives of those accused, including imprisonment, deprivation of property, banishment from villages and in some cases physical violence.

The human-rights law program I direct recently partnered with an N.G.O. in Malawi to run a mobile legal-aid clinic focusing on witchcraft cases in two rural communities.

Tunisia: Women Play Important Role in Revolution

January 27, 2011


Female voices rang out loud and clear during massive protests that brought down the authoritarian rule of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

Women in Tunisia are unique in the Arab world for enjoying near equality with men. And they are anxious to maintain their status.

In Tunis, old ladies, young girls and women in black judges robes marched down the streets demanding that the dictator leave.

Hardly anyone wears the Muslim headscarf in the capital, and women seem to be everywhere, taking part in everything, alongside men.

February 6th: International Day of Zero Tolerance on FGM

February 4, 2011


February 6 was unanimously adopted at the International Conference on Zero Tolerance to FGM organized by IAC from February 4 to 6, 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Representatives at the Conference came from 49 countries including 4 First Ladies (from Nigeria , Burkina Faso , Guinea Conakry and Mali ), Ministers, and Parliamentarians. Others included Religious, Community and Youth leaders.

The status of women in Egypt: What would the post-Mubarak era offer them?

March 3, 2010


Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa 2010 - Egypt
By Mariz Tadros

Introduction

VNC condemns the murder of David Kato

January 31, 2011

The Violence is Not out Culture campaign condemns the brutal murder on 26 January 2011 of LGBT human rights defender, David Kato, of Uganda and extends its condolences to his colleagues at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). David was a long term activist for rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Uganda, and was a highly respected and admired human rights defender within his community and worldwide.

Spirit, hope, money and a dose of patriarchy

July 9, 2010


A growing movement of African Christians are making waves at home and abroad with their ultra conservative interpretations of scripture. Far from a naïve embrace of conventional norms or a faithful embrace of scripture, these interpretations are emerging as clear political choices and are undermining women's rights struggles across the African continent.

Somalia: Mother of 4 Killed for Her Christian Faith

January 17, 2011


Al Shabaab militants carry out ritual slaying of Christian found to be ‘apostate.’

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 17 (CDN) — A mother of four was killed for her Christian faith on Jan. 7 on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia by Islamic extremists from al Shabaab militia, a relative said.

Cameroon: Attacks and Arrests on basis of Orientation

November 4, 2010

Government Should Decriminalize Consensual Activity, Protect LGBT Rights

 (Yaoundé, November 4, 2010) – Cameroonians are attacked by police, politicians, the media, and even their own communities if they are suspected of having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, four human rights organizations said in a joint report released today.

Zambia: Marriage of Young Girls a Tradition - Risks, Rights

December 20, 2010


MANSA, 20 December 2010 (IRIN) - The minimum legal age for marriage in Zambia is 18, and parental consent is required if a girl or boy is 16-17. Anyone under 16 is a minor, and defilement of a minor is a serious offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years.
Patricia was 12 when she married John, four years her senior.

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.

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.

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:

Ghana: The witches of Gambaga

November 25, 2010


More than 1,000 women accused of witchcraft in northern Ghana live in refuges, where they have to pay for protection from the chief who runs them. Yaba Badoe visits a camp in Gambaga and follows two women as they return to their villages. Watch the video.

Source: The Guardian

"Trokosi" - Ritual Servitude & Sexual Abuse

March 19, 2008

The most recent report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences on her mission to Ghana, highlights the practice of offering daughters as 'trokosi' to a traditional fetish shrine to ward off the punishment of the gods for crimes or moral wrongdoings committed by a family member.

“My husband cut off my arms for having a girl”

February 28, 2008

Francine Nijimbere relies entirely on her mother for basic things like bathing and eating. Her husband cut off her arms up to the elbows in 2004, for failing to give birth to a boy. She was pregnant at the time and lost the baby due to her injuries, which included cuts on her stomach. The man - a soldier - was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison but was recently released following a presidential pardon.

Sanaa Awadkareem: Forced into marriage, disfigured by acid

March 2, 2008

Sanaa Awadkareem was forced into marriage and then disfigured with acid by her estranged husband.

The tragedy of Sanaa Awadalkareem, a victim of a unique case of domestic violence of the worst kind, became a case of public interest when it was highlighted in local and international news articles, first published in Alrayaam newspaper (Sudan) and consequently on Sudanesonline (an electronic news outlet, concerned with issues pertaining to the Sudan; www.sudaneseonline.com).

Sierra Leone government to ban female circumcision

February 4, 2008

The new government in Sierra Leone has vowed to outlaw female circumcision, a common practice in the West African country, the social welfare minister said Monday.

Acid Attack on Woman Shocks Ethiopia

March 28, 2007

Kamilat Mehdi, 21, had a bright future ahead of her. She dreamt about doing a degree and becoming an air hostess.

The Price of Abuse

December 2, 2007

Shame, violence, abuse, shame - the circle is complete for women of the East as they face a recurring nightmare of the denial of rights and justice.In most cases of violence against women, the role of society and how it perceives these unfortunate women is a crucial factor in the kind of justice they ultimately receive.