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Pakistan PM condemns stoning and beating to death of pregnant woman

June 4, 2014

Nawaz Sharif says killing which apparently took place in police's presence was 'totally unacceptable' and demands action

Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has demanded to know why police apparently stood by while a pregnant woman was stoned and beaten to death by her family in front of one of the country's top courts, his spokesman said.

Girls 'Treated as Cattle': Child Brides Divide Pakistan

April 2, 2014

BY WAJAHAT S. KHAN AND HENRY AUSTIN

LAMABAD, Pakistan -- A proposed law seeking tough new penalties for marrying children has triggered intense debate in Pakistan.

At the moment, females can legally tie the knot at 16 while males must wait until they are 18. However, it is customary for younger teen girls to be married by their families in some parts of the country. Girls are also sometimes offered as compensation to end feuds between families.

New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women

February 4, 2014

Sign WLUML's petition against this law here

A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.

Sultan of Brunei introduces tough Islamic punishments

October 24, 2013
Tough Sharia Penal Code introduced Tuesday has been in the works for years and is expected to be phased in in upcoming six months 
 

The Sultan of Brunei introduced tough Sharia-law punishments on Tuesday including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, hailing what he called a "historic" step toward Islamic orthodoxy for his sleepy country. 

Bangladesh: Matrilineal Marriage- 'My Mother and I are Married to the Same Man'

June 7, 2013

When her widowed mother remarried, Parvin Rema, then 13, was part of the deal – one of several such arrangements in Bangladesh.

Indian Police Arrest 3 Men in Alleged Rape of American Woman

June 7, 2013

Indian police said they arrested three men Thursday in connection with the alleged gang rape of an American tourist this week in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Indonesian Muslim Hardliners Vow to Stop Miss World

June 7, 2013

Islamic hardliners vowed Thursday to stop the “immoral” Miss World beauty pageant taking place in Indonesia even after organisers agreed this year's contestants would not wear bikinis.

The Hizb ut-Tahrir group slammed the show as like “selling women's bodies”and threatened to hold demonstrations against it, while a group in the province where the final is due to take place also voiced strong opposition.

Thailand: Rape Victims in Deep South Silenced by State Payouts

June 3, 2013

Angkhana Neelaphaijit, a leading rights advocate for Thai Muslims, has voiced concern over continued sexual assaults against Muslim women by security officials stationed in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.


The widow of abducted lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, who has been providing legal assistance to Muslim suspects in the three southern border provinces, voiced concerns during an address at a press conference by Amnesty International.

Afghanistan: Justice as Torture - Inside Badam Bagh Women’s Prison in Kabul

June 3, 2013

Listening to the women in Badam Bagh, it occurred to me that the entire justice system introduced in Afghanistan had become the cattle prod or taser in that story, an instrument of torture delivered perhaps with the best of intentions.

 

Malaysia: Outrage After Sharia Court Allows Rapist to Marry His 13-year-old Victim

May 29, 2013

Local prosecutors are pursuing a statutory rape charge against 40-year-old restaurant manager Riduan Masmud, who allegedly had sex with the girl in a parked car outside the Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu in February. The girl is now 13 and his defense is that he married her.

 

State officials in Sabah want the marriage annulled. The girl is known to be from a very poor family and in one interview Riduan said the rape was a case of “suka sama suka” (“mutual consent”).

Afghanistan: Afghan protest against women's rights legislation

May 29, 2013

Hardline students protested in Afghanistan's capital, demanding the repeal of a presidential decree for women's rights that they say is un-Islamic. The protest came days after conservative politicians' vehement opposition blocked an attempt to cement the decree's provisions in law.

 

Bangladesh: Islamists Demand that Bangladesh's Women Stay at Home

May 17, 2013

Members of Hifazat-e-Islam, a radical Islamist party in Bangladesh, attacked female journalists on assignment as the group marched in the country's capital to demand strict Islamic law, including a ban on free mixing of the sexes and punishment of “atheists and blasphemous bloggers”. Numbers of Hifazat activists chased and physically assaulted Ekushey Television Reporter Nadia Sharmin at Bijoynagar on the path of the rally, and interrupted Financial Express Reporter Arafat Ara at Paltan, close to the event venue, when she was going to her office.

Afghanistan: Woman killed for “dishonouring” family

May 17, 2013

 

The public killing of a woman in Afghanistan is further proof that the authorities are still failing to tackle the shocking levels of gender-based violence in the country, Amnesty International said today. The woman, who has two children, was shot dead by her father in front of a crowd of about 300 people in the village of Kookchaheel, in the Aabkamari district of Badghis province in north-western Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Opponents of girls’ right to education violate Islam, ambassador tells United Nations

March 7, 2013

UNITED NATIONS: “Those who deny women and girls their right to education, violate Islam,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Masood Khan told an audience at the world body on Monday. He said the religion was for all men and women without discrimination.

He observed that the terrorist attack on Malala Yousufzai showed that “the forces of darkness” were afraid of the education that gave courage to girls to stand up for their rights.

Afghanistan: Women march against violence

February 14, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan activists and supporters marked Valentine’s Day by marching in Kabul on Thursday to denounce violence against women amid reports that domestic abuse is on the rise.

Afghan women have made great strides in education and official circles since the days under Taliban rule, when they had to wear all-encompassing burqas and were not allowed to go to school or leave their homes without a male relative as an escort. But they still face widespread domestic violence, forced marriages and other problems.

Afghanistan: Female artist beats the odds to invigorate Kandahar’s art scene

February 2, 2013

Charred bodies lie scattered against blood-stained walls and debris covers the ground. The unusual thing in this gruesome scene is that the “blood” is red paint, and part of an art installation.

It’s a work by 23-year-old Afghan artist Malina Suliman. She risks her life, Suliman says, sometimes working by flashlight after dark, to create art in southern Kandahar province, still one of the most dangerous areas in the country.

Delhi is different from Steubenville

January 14, 2013

Nicholas Kristof has a recent op-ed titled, “Is Delhi so different from Steubenville?” which makes the case that sexual assault is an international and universal epidemic. He writes,

India: Teenager invents anti-molestation device for women

January 20, 2012

A young inventor, Manu Chopra, may soon change the way women travel in the country. He has invented an anti-molestation device for women, which can be worn as a wrist watch.

Six Charged With Murder in India as Rape Victim Dies

December 29, 2012

As protests grew in India on Saturday over the death of a young woman who was raped in New Delhi this month by several men in a moving bus, the police said six men accused of attacking her had been charged with murder.

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.

Blasphemy, Genocide and Violence Against Women: the case of Bangladesh

December 17, 2012

When Malala Yousafzai and her companions were shot by the Taliban, the whole of Pakistan expressed outrage. The attack on a young girl fighting for her right to education was shocking to many Pakistanis.  What was unusual about this event was, unfortunately, not the targeting of girls, but the fact that there was a national outcry.

Pakistan: The Real Picture

November 25, 2012

Despite the passage of pro-women laws perpetrators continue to inflict violence against women with impunity.

November 25 was designated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in December 1999 by the UN General Assembly. It marks the death anniversary of the three Mirabel sisters assassinated in 1960 by the dictator Rafael Trujillo for their fight against Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Activists on women’s rights have observed a day against violence on the anniversary of the deaths of these three women since 1981.

 

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.

UPR of Pakistan: ongoing concerns include violence against women and blasphemy laws

October 31, 2012

Pakistan’s second review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on the 30 October 2012, and was attended by a large delegation led by Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and including the Advisor on Human Rights and the Advisor on Minorities.

 

India: Violence Against Women Surging in India

October 19, 2012

As gender-based violence across India becomes more frequent, and more savage, increasing numbers of women are speaking out against the cruelty.

On Oct. 6, a 14-year-old girl from the Sacha Khera village in the Jind district of northern India’s Haryana state set herself on fire after a brutal gang rape.

In her statement to the police, the girl claimed that two male youngsters dragged her into a house, while the sister-in-law of one of the culprits stood guard on the terrace.

India: Moves to protect women from sexual harassment at work

September 5, 2012

India moved one step closer to protecting millions of its working women from sexual harassment by passing a new bill to tackle unwelcome behaviour such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and sexual innuendoes made at work.

The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed by the lower house of parliament on Monday and aims to ensure a safe environment for women working in both the public and private sector. The bill still has to be passed by the upper house of parliament, a move that is expected in the coming months.

Pakistan: College student's website helps low-income in Pakistan

September 18, 2012

A local college student was inspired to create a website to raise funds for Pakistani women in need. For this Mom's Everyday Money segment, we'll uncover the philanthropic side of e-commerce websites.

"We saw poverty while we were in Pakistan and it became kind of like the norm for us," said Sameen Wajid, founder of Jashna Design.

Sisters Sameen and Zareen Wajid didn't fully realize the state of their home country until after they came to the U.S. 15 years ago.

India: Husbands may have to pay salaries to wives

September 10, 2012

The Indian government is mulling a proposal that would make it mandatory for men to share a percentage of their monthly income with wives who stay at home to do household chores and look after the children, the Indian Express reported on Monday.

Findings from India: Low self-esteem leaves girls vulnerable to child marriage

October 10, 2012

Dr Ashok Dyalchand works at the Institute of Health Management, Pachod (IHMP) in India. IHMP has found that girls with low self-esteem are particularly vulnerable to child marriage and has been instrumental in developing new and creative ways to identify and supporting at risk children.

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai's surgery successful

October 11, 2012

CNN Interview with Malala Yousafzai in 2011

Surgeons in Pakistan say they have removed a bullet from a 14-year-old girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in the Swat Valley.

Malala Yousafzai, a campaigner for girls' rights, is reported to be in a stable condition after the operation.

Pakistan: Malala, militante de 14 ans, "dans un état critique" après une attaque des talibans

October 9, 2012

Une Pakistanaise de 14 ans connue pour son combat contre les talibans et pour le droit des femmes à l'éducation a survécu miraculeusement mardi 9 octobre à une tentative d'assassinat perpétrée par les rebelles à la sortie de son école dans le nord-ouest du pays.

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai, 14 year old activist on girls education, shot in Swat

October 9, 2012

Gunmen have wounded a 14-year-old rights activist who has campaigned for girls' education in the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora, the region's main town.

She came to public attention in 2009 by writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban militants who had taken control of the valley.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the BBC they carried out the attack.

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.

India: Moves to protect women from sexual harassment at work

September 5, 2012

New Delhi: India moved one step closer to protecting millions of its working women from sexual harassment by passing a new bill to tackle unwelcome behaviour such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and sexual innuendoes made at work.

India: Husbands May Have to Pay Salary to Wives

September 10, 2012

NEW DELHI – The Indian government is mulling a proposal that would make it mandatory for men to share a percentage of their monthly income with wives who stay at home to do household chores and look after the children, the Indian Express reported on Monday.

Afghanistan: A New Powerpoint

September 7, 2012

Bearing the name of Sahar Gul, a young girl subjected to unspeakable horrors by her own relatives, a café in Kabul might not be expected to be a place of hope and calm. Yet Afghanistan’s first women-only internet centre launches a new forum for empowerment of half the population.

Afghanistan: End trend of Women Jailed for ‘Running Away’

September 18, 2012

(Kabul) – High-level Afghan government officials have for the first time publicly confirmed that it is not a criminal offense for women and girls to “run away” from home, Human Rights Watch said today. The officials also confirmed fleeing violence or running away was not a basis for women’s detention or prosecution.

Turkey: Vendetta Song

July 13, 2012

A young Turkish woman, now resident in Canada, travels to Turkey in an attempt to unravel the story behind her aunt Guzide's murder, some 30 years earlier in a remote Kurdish village.

As she searches for clues and closure, she encounters antiquated customs in a Kurdish culture she has never known. She knows that her aunt was a victim of a senseless vendetta killing and as she ventures from village to village she pieces together the woman's final days and closes in on the identity of her killer.

India: Women emerge as strong leaders during village council elections

August 5, 2012

Dhenkanal/ Odisha, 15 February, 2012: Bharati Behra has great apirations for her people. As a recently elected Sarpanch  or village head, she hopes to become the voice of tribals from the area. “I want to make the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act  easier for women to access,” she says. The Act guarantees paid employment for a minimum of 100 days in rural India.

Elected from Kankadpal during panchayat or village council elections in Odisha state of India, Bharati’s victory is a trimuph for the tribal women of her region.

Pakistan & India: Honour killing cases on the rise

July 23, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Despite hard work on the part of numerous legislators and human rights activists, a steady number of ‘honour killing’ cases continue to be reported.
Earlier the killings were mostly isolated to northern Sindh, southern Punjab and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, but now the capital police are registering cases regularly especially in its rural areas.

India: The hardships women face today

July 23, 2012

In an ashram perched high on a hill above the noisy city of Guwahati in north-east India is a small exhibit commemorating the life of India's most famous son. Alongside an uncomfortable-looking divan where Mahatma Gandhi once slept is a display reminding visitors of something the man himself said in 1921: "Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex)."

Afghanistan: Execution of Afghan Woman Causes Outraged Activists to Mobilize

July 11, 2012

Women’s rights activists marched in Kabul to protest the videotaped execution of a young woman, apparently by the Taliban.

Protesters say the killing shows the Taliban has not changed—and is a harbinger of what’s to come if they return to power.

Pakistan: Amar Sindhu injured in attack

July 9, 2012

Shirkat Gah is deeply disturbed by the murderous attack on our General Body member Professor Amr Sindhi of Hyderabad University, Jamshoro and Dr. Arfana Mallah. This growing trend to silence dissent through intimidation and violence is indicative of the growing brutalization of our society and must be stopped immediately.

Afghanistan: Police track woman’s executioners

July 9, 2012

KABUL: A manhunt was under way Monday for Taliban militants who publicly executed a woman accused of adultery, Afghan authorities said, as outrage mounted after a video of the cold-blooded killing surfaced.

The commander of Nato’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, offered to help local security forces track and capture the men involved in what he called “an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty”.

Pakistan: Policy Dialogue on "Monitoring Implementation of MDG5 in Pakistan"

June 21, 2012

Thursday, 21st June 2012, Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre organized a Punjab provincial Policy Dialogue on Monitoring Implementation of Millennium Development Goal 5 in Pakistan. The event was attended by Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Advisor to Chief Minister on Women Development; MPA Rai Aslam Khan Kharal, Chairman Standing Committee on Population; Dr. Nisar Ahmed Cheema, Director General Health; Dr. Akhter Rasheed, Provincial Coordinator Lady Health Worker Programme; Dr.

NEPAL: The hidden costs of early marriage

June 18, 2012

KATHMANDU - Thousands of Nepali girls leave school every year to get married, missing out on their education, the government says. Parents are often unaware of the impact that trying to save the money spent on education can have on the future of their daughter. 

NÉPAL: Le coût caché du mariage précoce

June 18, 2012

KATMANDOU, 18 juin 2012 (IRIN) - Des milliers de jeunes népalaises abandonnent l’école chaque année pour se marier, ce qui leur bloque l’accès à l’éducation, selon le gouvernement. Les parents, qui ont recours à cette pratique pour économiser les frais de scolarité, n’ont souvent pas conscience de l’impact que cela peut avoir sur l’avenir de leurs filles.

Pakistan: Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her mission

June 7, 2012

Islamabad, 7 June 2012

Good afternoon, and thank you for coming.

Before giving a brief overview of my impressions during my four-day visit here, I would like to thank the Government for inviting me to Pakistan.

Indonesia: Tasikmalaya law to make Muslim women wear veils

June 4, 2012

Tasikmalaya, West Java, will soon require all Muslim women, residents and visitors alike, to wear veils to enforce its sharia ordinance.

“We are finalizing a city regulation so that [the 2009 Ordinance on Islamic-based Values of Community Life] can come into effect as soon as possible,” Tasikmalaya City Secretary Tio Indra Setiadi told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“Hopefully, it will be finalized this month so it can be immediately promulgated.”

India: Stop Child Marriage Entrapment

May 28, 2012

Punitive measures against girls forced into child marriages should not find a place in government policies, programmes and practices.

Pakistan: Parler ou ne pas parler des abus sexuels à l’égard des enfants

June 7, 2012

LAHORE - Sidra Bibi* a subi des abus sexuels alors qu’elle n’était qu’une jeune fille et qu’elle vivait avec ses parents et ses frères et sœurs dans la ville pakistanaise de Lahore. Les années ont passé, mais le traumatisme est resté.

Pakistan: Coming clean about child sexual abuse - or not

June 7, 2012

LAHORE - Sidra Bibi* was a young girl living with her parents and siblings in the Pakistani city of Lahore when she suffered sexual abuse, and the trauma has lived with her over the years.

“My mother, my father, my aunts and my uncles all connived to protect my paternal grandfather, who was abusing me, my sister and our female cousins since we were six or seven years old,” Sidra, now 30 and married, told IRIN. The grandfather, she added, asked the girls to masturbate him, then committed anal penetration on Sidra and her cousin.

Turkey: Prime Minister Seeks Limits on Abortion

May 30, 2012

ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a strong response from women's rights activists after calling for legislation to restrict women's access to the procedure. The future of abortion is now in question in Turkey.

Hundreds of women protesters demonstrated outside the Istanbul office of Prime Minister Erdogan. The protest followed his strong attack on abortion at a congress of his party in a football stadium in Istanbul Sunday.  

Turkey: WGNRR Expresses Concern on the Turkish Government Statements Threatening Women's Human Rights

June 1, 2012

On May 25th, Turkish journal "Today’s Zaman" published Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, statement considering abortion a crime and called on society to be against abortion. This declaration was held during the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Istanbul where 300 members of parliament from 110 countries reiterating their commitment to achieve the goals laid out in the ICPD Programme of Action adopted in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. 

Afghanistan: First female village chief defies gender roles and strengthens community

May 29, 2012

In a male-dominated society that has for years been controlled by the ultra-conservative Taliban, the emergence of the first female village chief took everyone by surprise.

After being ridiculed by male villagers for wanting to occupy political office, Zarifa Qazizadah, the mother of 15 children, managed to become the mayor of Naw Abad, a village in the northern Balkh province.

Qazizadah’s political ambition started in 2004 when she told her mocking fellow villagers that she wanted to represent them and promised to supply Naw Abad with electricity.

South Africa: Campaign tackles myth of girl brides as fabled HIV cure

May 27, 2012

KwaCele, South Africa - The landscape of the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa has a haunting beauty. A myriad of round turquoise huts scatter across the land in a series of endless villages.

Yet these villages are also home to a terrible and devastating traditional practice that destroys children's lives and tears families apart.

In these villages, girls as young as 12 are kidnapped by older men and forced to 'marry.' It is accepted as part of the Xhosa people's culture. It has continued unabated for decades.

Pakistan: Little justice for victims of acid attacks

May 29, 2012

FAISALABAD, Pakistan— The cherub-faced 10-year-old girl was standing at a bus stop, saying goodbye to visiting relatives, when her mother noticed two motorcycles approaching, one coming down the street and the other from a graveyard behind them.

She recognized someone on one of the motorcycles: her older daughter's former fiance. He was clutching two liter-sized metal jugs.

NÉPAL: Les femmes réclament la fin du harcèlement sexuel

May 23, 2012

KATMANDOU - Pour les Népalaises, le harcèlement sexuel est une réalité quotidienne, en particulier dans les zones urbaines. Bien qu’ils ne disposent pas de chiffres précis, les activistes indiquent que ce phénomène est en augmentation constante et qu’il faut agir.

Nepal: Women demand end to sexual harassment

May 23, 2012

KATHMANDU - Sexual harassment is an everyday issue for women in Nepal, particularly in urban areas. Although exact numbers are unavailable, activists say the problem is on the rise and are demanding change.

Indonesia: Women's rights activists push back against threats to gender equality

May 11, 2012

JAKARTA: New legislation being proposed in Indonesia has created a stir of antagonism, especially from conservative Islamist groups in the country, who demand that Islamic law, or Sharia, is implemented and followed in the country.

But women’s groups are lashing out against the push by the Islamic organizations to curtail the bill’s progression in government, saying that “all women and men in Indonesia deserve equal access under the law.”

India: Jamiat wants property rights for women

May 21, 2012

NEW DELHI: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, which runs the largest number of madrasas across the country, has sought inheritance rights for Muslim women through amendment of existing laws.

"According to the law of our country, women are denied right to inheritance in agricultural land. This is against the law of Islamic inheritance. So, the existing law should be amended to ensure her rights," JuH leader Mahmood Madani told TOI.

India: Imams meet to 'introspect' on giving women their due

May 16, 2012

The biggest group of imams in the country, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, is taking the first tentative steps towards addressing issues faced by Muslim women.

At its two-day conference beginning here tomorrow, one of the resolutions before the thousands of imam delegates who are expected to participate is “introspection” on how the community treats its women folk and on giving “women their due”.

Pakistan: Pakistani Women Writers Denounce Islamic Clerics' Fatwas Against Women's Use Of Cell Phones And Access To Secular Education

May 20, 2012

Former Pakistani lawmaker and cleric Maulana Abdul Haleem recently issued a fatwa (Islamic degree) against secular education and justifying honor killings of women.[1] The fatwa was issued in a sermon during a weekly Friday prayer in Kohistan district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Haleem also threatened that women from secular NGOs who visit Kohistan district may be married off forcibly to local men.

Afghanistan: Women push for rights behind the wheel

May 15, 2012

(Reuters) - The morning after the Taliban fell Shakila Naderi shed her head-to-toe burqa, sat behind the wheel of a car for the first time and asked her husband to teach her how to drive.

Now Kabul's only female driving instructor, she teaches women a rare skill that confronts harsh opposition in ultra-conservative, Muslim Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Helping Women with Career Building and Empowerment

May 14, 2012

Saima Anwar lives in the Swat area of northern Pakistan. Her family was poor and couldn't pay for her education, so she worked a part-time job to get through school. But when she wanted to become a lawyer -- a profession she's "crazy about" -- she had to find a different way.

“Fairness that changes your destiny”

April 15, 2012

“Your skin glows with a fairness that’s superior in all possible ways”.  This is the marketing message of a fairness cream advertisement spread over a quarter of the front page and the entire second/inside page of a leading Pakistani national news paper. The advertisement is directed generally at women who need to aspire to a fair complexion in order to receive privileges associated with the color.

Is There Ever a Good Reason for Child Marriage?

May 7, 2012

As activists and researchers who have worked for many years to support and protect girls across India, we were dismayed to read a recent DoubleX article describing a mass wedding and betrothal ceremony of underage girls and boys as a “welcome event.” The article went on to compare child marriage to the prostitution of girls, describing child marriage as “the lesser of two evils." What a shameful rationalization!

Annual Updates from Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre

May 8, 2012

Welcome to Shirkat Gah’s 2nd E-Newsletter! This covers most of the happenings at Shirkat Gah and elsewhere that we have been a part of during July 2011 - March 2012. It also highlights our efforts at national, regional, and international levels. We hope you will enjoy this snapshot of our work towards accomplishing women’s empowerment.

UN: Mme Farida Shaheed, Rapporteure spéciale dans le domaine des droits culturels

May 4, 2012

Mme Farida Shaheed (Pakistan) a commencé ses fonctions comme Experte indépendante dans le domaine des droits culturels en 2009, et les a continuées, à la suite de la résolution 19/6 du Conseil des droits de l’homme de 2012, en tant que Rapporteuse spéciale sur la même question.

UN: Farida Shaheed's mandate expanded to Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

May 4, 2012

Ms. Farida Shaheed (Pakistan) took up her functions as Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights in 2009 and continued as a Special Rapporteur on the same issue, following Human Rights Council Resolution 19/6.

Ms. Shaheed is a Pakistani sociologist. She works as a Director at Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratization, an international programme strengthening and promoting citizenship in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and as a Director Research at Shirkat Gah-Women’s Resource Centre in Pakistan.

Female Circumcision Still Prevalent Among Some Kurdish Communities

May 4, 2012

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- Around 34 percent of women in the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk have been circumcised and most of them are Kurdish, according to a new joint survey by the German WADI organization and the Iraqi Pana Center.

The survey on female genital mutilation found that the practice has declined in Kirkuk; however, 15 percent of girls in the community under 20 have been circumcised.

Turkey: Women See Worrisome Rise in Domestic Violence

April 25, 2012

ISTANBUL — Gokce, a soft-spoken 37-year-old mother of two, has lived on the run for 15 years, ever since her abusive husband tracked her down, broke down her door and shot her in the leg six times after she refused to return to him.

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.

Bangladesh: Three Stories of Child Marriage

April 21, 2012

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 20% of girls becoming wives before their 15th birthday, even though 18 is the minimum age allowed by law. Why?

"It is the new kind of slavery," says Mirna Ming Ming Evora, who's the country director for the NGO Plan International.

"Here girls are a burden, they don't earn income in this culture."

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.

Indonesia: Change in attitudes, laws and police training needed to stop sexual violence

April 10, 2012

JAKARTA - Survivors of sexual violence in Indonesia face an uphill battle in recovery as a result of an inadequate legal system, police inaction, and prevailing societal attitudes that tend to be suspicious of victims, say activists.

Bangladesh: Child Marriage Persists despite Bans

December 16, 2010

This 2010 articles explores some of the hardships and violence faced by child brides in Bangladesh: Rani is a child bride. Her story is common in Bangladesh, where as many as two-thirds of young girls are compelled to enter marriage at a young age. This practice is not limited to slums and rural villages. According to the United Nations State of the World’s Children, the rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is 64%; it affects 58% of girls in urban areas and 69% in rural areas.

Malaysia: Kedah’s law on fatwas un-Islamic, says Perlis mufti

April 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR — Kedah’s new legislative provision which bans the challenge of religious edicts (fatwa) in the courts goes against Islamic principles, Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya has said.

The religious scholar asked if Kedah PAS-led administration wanted to become a theocratic government instead of forming Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) often-promoted progressive, welfare state.

“The new fatwa enactment shows they are actually heading towards theocracy and intend on imposing beliefs (on others),” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“This is against Islam,” he said.

Malaysia: Kedah’s new fatwa ruling equates man’s word to God

April 20, 2012

APRIL 20 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is shocked and deeply concerned by media reports on Kedah’s new fatwa ruling. The amendments to the Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 now bar a fatwa from being “challenged, appealed, reviewed, denied or questioned in any civil court or syariah court.”

Philippines: Controversy after woman in shorts poses in front of cross

April 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) A year after an artist drew flak for adding phallic symbols to religious images, a young woman has become a subject of controversy for posing in front of a cross while wearing skimpy clothes.

Internet users from the Philippines, a largely Catholic country, called the woman “a disgrace” for “disrespecting their religion” after seeing the photo, which became viral on social networking sites over the weekend.

The Holy Week celebrations, called by bishops as “the climax of the faith celebration of the church,” concluded yesterday, Easter Sunday.

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.

Remembering Fakhra Yunus

March 29, 2012

Yesterday, approximately a month after the documentary Saving Face won an Oscar for best short film, a victim of an acid attack, Fakhra Yunus committed suicide. Saving Face explored acid attacks, and how they affect women across the world, including in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Pro-women laws take hold

March 26, 2012

Women in Pakistan have faced formidable challenges in their efforts to achieve gender equality and address gender-based violence in their country, with particular problems posed by elements among customary norms and practices.

Yet throughout the past few years, breakthroughs in pro-women legislation have shown that both the efforts of Pakistan’s government, and the advocacy of groups working toward women’s empowerment in the country, are taking effect.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pakistan: Senate Unanimously Passes Domestic Violence Bill

February 20, 2012

VNC sends a warm congratulations to our partners Baidarie Sialkot and Shirkat Gah, along with all other civil society groups and women's human rights activists who have been campaigning over the past few years to pass this bill!

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate on Monday passed a bill that makes violence against women and children an offence carrying jail terms and fines, state media said.

Afghanistan: "Baad" Abduction of Girls for Elders' Misdeeds

February 16, 2012

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls that they complained, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.

It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.

India: Madrassas to fight for women’s talaq power

February 20, 2012

Leading Islamic scholars fromreputed 250 ‘madrassas’ around the country will deliberate on the dissolution of marriage and other issues related to Muslim Personal Law at an international seminar in the Madhya Pradesh (MP) city of Mhow from March 2-5.

South Asia: Focus of Global Activism Against Child Marriage

February 10, 2012

NEW DELHI, Feb 10 - Scores of South Asian charities struggling to curb high child-marriage rates are backing a global movement spearheaded by South African peace icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu to end the practice affecting millions of girls and women worldwide.

Representatives from charities in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka gathered in New Delhi last week at the regional launch of the "Girls Not Brides" alliance – created by Tutu, 80, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for speaking out against white minority rule in South Africa.

Kyrgyzstan: Efforts to Tackle Bride Kidnapping Hit Polygamy Snag

February 11, 2012

BISHKEK - Legislation designed to discourage the controversial practice of bride kidnapping fizzled recently in Kyrgyzstan's parliament.

The bill lost support because a key provision could also be used to crack down on the ostensibly illegal, yet quietly tolerated practice of polygamy, according to a member of parliament.

Pakistan: Historical Gains as Women’s Commission Gains Autonomous Status

February 2, 2012

On 2 February 2012, the Pakistan Senate unanimously approved the “National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012″ to protect women’s rights against every kind of discrimination. The new bill replaces the National Commission on the Status of Women Ordinance from 2000 and strengthens the Commission by giving it financial and administrative autonomy through an independent Secretariat.

India: How one religious scholar fought for women's rights and won

February 6, 2012

Oxford, United Kingdom - "Tradition" is usually taken to be an obstacle to reform. "Traditional societies" are assumed to be reluctant to change, or worse, harbour nostalgic notions of going back to some mythical golden age. Gandhi was criticised for imagining an India of ancient "village republics" for which no historical evidence could be found. In the Islamic world, traditionalists are often assumed to wish to return to medieval times, in a pejorative sense. In many contexts the term "traditional" is actually used to mean "backward".

Afghanistan: Family Accused of Killing Woman for Not Bearing a Son

January 30, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — The young Afghan woman gave birth to a third girl three months ago — to a husband, the authorities say, who had been demanding a boy.

Last week, the man and his mother, in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, put a rope around the woman’s neck and strangled her, the police said.

The body of the woman, known only as Storai, 22, was found by the police a few hours later in her room, and she was buried a day later, on Jan. 26.

Storai’s death was a chilling reminder of the low status of women in Afghanistan.

India & Pakistan: Women Expose Genital Cutting Rite

January 30, 2012

KARACHI - "It was a dark and dingy room, where an elderly woman asked me to take off my panties, made me sit on a low wooden stool with my legs parted and then did something…I screamed out in pain," recalls Alefia Mustansir, 40, of her childhood experience.

Her friend, Sakina Haider, remembers "putting up a good fight" before she succumbed. "I was told by my grandmother that I was being taken to the doctor to address burning in the genital area when soap went there while bathing!"

Pakistan: Taliban Continue to Attack Girls' Schools

January 4, 2012

PESHAWAR - Suicide bombing is down, bomb attacks are fewer, but the Taliban are keeping up attacks on girls’ schools. In retaliation, a growing number of girls are going for school education – without school buildings.

The Higher Secondary School at Kumbar (in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of northern Pakistan) is one such school that has yet to be repaired after it was damaged heavily in a bomb explosion in May 2009.

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.

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.

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.

Indonesia: Polygamy Dispute at Center of Shia School Burning

December 29, 2011

The torching of a Shia-run Islamic boarding school in East Java on Thursday stemmed from a sibling dispute after a cleric at the school denied his brother the right to enter into polygamous marriage with one of the students, a teacher said. 

“A male resident sought revenge on his brother, a Shia cleric who refused to let him marry one of his female students as it would be polygamy,” said Ustadz Muhyi, one of the teachers at Tajuk Muluk Islamic boarding school (pesantren) in Sampang district.

Pakistan: Violence Against Women, Killed for "Honour"

December 20, 2011

At least 675 Pakistani women and girls were murdered during the first nine months of the year for allegedly defaming their family’s honour, a leading human rights group said Tuesday. Rights groups say the government should do more to ensure that women subject to violence, harassment and discrimination have effective access to justice.

Kazakhstan: Students Win Fight Against Hijab Ban

December 13, 2011

AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- Officials at a university in northwestern Kazakhstan have lifted a hijab ban for students after eight female students threatened to sue the school, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The students told RFE/RL on December 8 that they had been unable to attend classes at Saqtaghan Baishev University, as a duty officer at the school's entrance was preventing them from entering the university because of their head scarves, or hijabs.

Afghanistan: TV challenges attitudes towards domestic violence

October 25, 2011

A radical television show is challenging attitudes to this abuse, inviting women to speak candidly and anonymously about their problems at home.

Pakistan Needs Gender Policy Framework

December 15, 2011

Islamabad—An essential step to help improve lives of Pakistani women is to provide platform for inter-provincial and regional dialogue which may well pave the way for a national framework on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Pakistan Crime Bills Must be Springboard for Better Women's Rights

December 13, 2011

Pakistan authorities must take concrete steps to end violence against women, Amnesty International said today after the country's Senate unanimously passed two landmark women's rights bills. 

The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 and The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008 aim to empower and protect women and increase penalties for perpetrators of gender-based violence. 

Pakistan: Senate Unanimously Passes Two Bills Protecting Against Forced Marriage and Acid Attacks

December 12, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of the Parliament on Monday unanimously passed two landmark pro-women bills aimed at protecting women from the negative customs and traditions and seeking severe punishments for the violators.

Afghanistan: The Battle for Schools - the Taleban and State Education

December 13, 2011

The report traces the different contestations around state education with a special focus on the past decade. In 2002, opening and building schools and getting Afghan boys and girls educated was a priority for the new government and its international backers. For the Taleban, one of the main tactics of their campaign against the government was to attack schools. The violence peaked in 2006, with dozens of students and teachers killed and hundreds of schools burned or forcibly shut down. However, there was a backlash.

Habiba Sarabi: ‘Violence against women still a problem in Afghanistan’

December 14, 2011

Habiba Sarabi is Afghanistan’s only female governor. She has headed Bamiyan province since 2005, engaged in rebuilding from scratch her part of one of the world’s most murderous countries.

A qualified doctor, she left Afghanistan under the Taliban, but returned in secret to teach girls.

Today, still the target of death threats, she continues her struggle to put her country back on its feet.

euronews: “Habiba Sarabi, you are a prominent figure in Afghanistan. How does it feel to be a major female politician in a male-dominated society?”

Can Turkey Make Its Mosques Feminist?

December 11, 2011

"This is about mosques being a space for women," declared Kadriye Avci Erdemli, Istanbul's deputy mufti, the city's second most powerful administrator of the Islamic faith. "When a woman enters a mosque, she is entering the house of God and she should experience the same sacred treatment. In front of God, men and women are equal; they have the same rights to practice their religion."

India: Women Pregnant With Girls Pressured Into Abortions

December 9, 2011

 It is a country with a female president and where men revere female goddesses. And yet, India is far from a haven for women.

According to current estimates, Indian men outnumber women by nearly 40 million. That startling gender gap, activists say, is the result of gendercide. Nearly 50,000 female fetuses are aborted every month and untold numbers of baby girls are abandoned or murdered.

Indonesia: 'Dirty' Punks Forced into 'Moral Rehab' by Sharia Police

December 14, 2011

Indonesian sharia police are "morally rehabilitating" more than 60 young punk rock fans who were holding a charity concert in Aceh province in northern Sumatra.

Police arrested 59 male and five female punk rock fans at a concert organised to raise money for orphans in the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Saturday night, saying the youths were damaging the province's image.

Rangkaian KAMPANYE 16 HARI ANTI KEKERASAN TERHADAP PEREMPUAN

December 7, 2011

Betapa indahnya hidup kita sebagai perempuan jika berjalan tengah malam mengenakan fasilitas publik tanpa ancaman diperkosa. Betapa nyamannya keseharian kita mengenakan apapun juga tanpa takut diadili dengan siapapun. Betapa surganya setiap waktu kita jika kita dapat melakukan secara merdeka tentu tanpa mengganggu orang lain. Namun barisan kalimat di atas hanya terus menjadi khayalan selama was-was terus ada.

Shirkat Gah Commemorates 16 Days of Activism

December 7, 2011

Shirkat Gah has collaborated with 31 partner Community Based Organizations across four provinces of Pakistan in 26 districts to celebrate 16 Days of Activism campaign this year.

Baidarie Sialkot Commemorates 16 Days of Activism

December 7, 2011

Baidarie Salkot has a number of activities planned to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women.

Solidaritas Perempuan Commemorates the 16 Days of Activism

December 7, 2011

Solidaritas Perempuan is a woman's rights organization that is currently organizing a campaign series 'Women Without Worries' to commemorate the 16 days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women. The campaign involves harnessing students’ enthusiasm to stop violence against women, whether on campus or in the surroundings areas. Solidaritas Perempuan supports students as agents of change in their work to campaign against violence on campus.

Afghanistan: Woman left to Marry her Attacker to Obtain Release from Jail

December 1, 2011

An Afghan woman jailed for adultery after she was raped by a relative is set to be freed – but only after agreeing to marry the man who attacked her.

The case, which has highlighted the plight of Afghan women jailed for so-called moral crimes, was to be the subject of a documentary film funded by the European Union – until diplomats censored it out of fear for the woman's welfare, and for their relations with the Afghan government.

Pakistan: New Bill Passed to Protect Women's Rights

November 24, 2011

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

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

November 15, 2011

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

Pakistan: Girls Defy Taliban School Bombings

November 16, 2011

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

India: Increasing Gender Imablance

October 30, 2011

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

India: An App to Fight Violence Against Women

November 8, 2011

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

Bangladesh: Bride Disowns Her 'Dowry Demanding' Husband

November 15, 2011

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

Uzbekistan: Scarf or Hijab Debate, Law Bans Religious Attire

October 12, 2011

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

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

November 5, 2011

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

Pakistan: Push to Pass Provincial Domestic Violence Bill

October 21, 2011

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

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

October 14, 2011

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

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

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

Pakistan: Child Expelled For 'Blasphemous' Spelling Error

October 10, 2011

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

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

Afghanistan: Women Face Rising Danger If Excluded From Peace Talks

October 3, 2011

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

Afghanistan: Raising Hope for Women

October 6, 2011

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

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

October 4, 2011

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

Pakistan: Guns Aimed Increasingly at Women

September 30, 2011

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

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

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

September 22, 2011

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

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

September 1, 2011

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

Malaysia: Women Seizing the Political Agenda

September 29, 2011

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

Pakistan: Suffering In Silence

September 28, 2011

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

Malaysia: Hudud Laws - Between the Implicit and the Explicit

September 27, 2011

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

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

Malaysia: Why Hudud Law Is Everybody’s Business

September 23, 2011

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

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

Pakistan: “Reclaiming Space: from victimhood to agency: State and civil society response to VAW”

September 26, 2011

Islamabad—Speakers at a conference here on Thursday urged for collective struggle and structural reforms to challenge Violence Against Women (VAW) in South Asian countries particularly. The three-day South Asian conference on “Reclaiming Space: from victimhood to agency: State and civil society response to VAW” organized by Rozan in Islamabad was widely attended by women activists from all over Pakistan who were joined by delegates from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Nepal: Survey of Social Norms on Violence, Culture and Gender

September 18, 2011

Kathmandu, Sep 18 (IANS) If a wife burns the food or demurs to have sex, her husband can beat her. And if she goes out without telling her mother-in-law or doesn't bring in dowry, the mother-in-law can do the same.

That is how a large chunk of women in Nepal's patriarchal society feels, a sample survey has discovered.

Pakistan: Rights groups report rise in violence against women

September 19, 2011

A Pakistan-based women's rights watchdog says there has been a rise in the number of violent acts reported against women, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The Aurat Foundation (AF) said 4,448 cases of violence against women were reported from different parts of the country in the first six months of this year.

That compared with the first six months of 2010, when 4,061 cases were registered.
AF Chairman Naeem Mirza told Radio Mashaal the report was prepared on the basis of information collected from all four Pakistani provinces.

China: Marriage law interpretation could leave many divorced women homeless

September 7, 2011

BEIJING — Millions of Chinese women, and some men, woke on Aug. 13 to discover their spouse had, in effect, become their landlord.

On that day, the Supreme Court’s new interpretation of the 1980 Marriage Law came into force, stipulating that property bought before marriage, either outright or on mortgage, reverted to the buyer on divorce. Previously, the family home had been considered joint property. Experts agree the change would mostly affect women, since men traditionally provide the family home.

Nepal Looks Set To Officially Recognize Third Gender

September 9, 2011

FRIDAY FILE: Almost four years after Nepal’s Supreme Court recognized the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, the South Asian country may get a new constitution that secures their rights.[i] By Kathambi Kinoti

India: UNICEF report uncovers high prevalence of child marriage in West Bengal

September 10, 2011

Every second girl in the high prevalence child marriage districts of West Bengal were married off before they reach 18, the legal age for girls to get wedded, a UNICEF report said.

Murshidabad (61.04%), Birbhum (58.03%), Malda (56.07%) and Purulia (54.03%) are the districts having such dubious distinction, the report said quoting latest figures.

Though only these four districts have reported over 50 per cent child marriage cases, they are enough to pull the state figure of child marriage to a staggering 53.9 per cent.

Pakistan: Women Advocates Aid Religious Minorities

August 25, 2011

(WNN) ISLAMABAD: In spite of real dangers for those working as advocates with Pakistan’s religious minorities, a number of people have been speaking out against religious discrimination and the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws inside the country.

As internal divisions, casualties and conflict on the northern border and a growing hatred and distrust of ‘the West’ expands, a dedicated group of Pakistani women and men are leading the way on issues of human rights and religious freedom inside the country.

Nepal: Religious Practices, Discrimination & Gender Violence

June 28, 2011

KATHMANDU, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) - The recent gang-rape of a Buddhist nun and her expulsion from her sect have sparked a debate about the deep-rooted religious traditions and biases that foster discrimination and violence, especially against women, in this South Asian state.

 The public outcry against the nun’s expulsion forced the Nepal Buddhist Federation to reconsider, saying now that once she recovers, the victim can return to her nunnery. 

Indonesia: Sharia police in Aceh dissolve lesbian marriage

August 25, 2011

Islamic police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have forced two women to have their marriage annulled and sign an agreement to separate.

The women had been legally married for a few months after one of them passed as a man in front of an Islamic cleric who presided over their wedding.

But suspicious neighbours confronted the couple and reported them to police.

The two women are now back with their families, forcibly separated and under surveillance by the Islamic police.

Pakistan: No Tribal Justice for Women

August 10, 2011

MULTAN, Pakistan, Aug 9, (Reuters) - On April 14, two men entered Asma Firdous' home, cut off six of her fingers, slashed her arms and lips and then sliced off her nose. Before leaving the house, the men locked their 28-year-old victim inside.

Asma, from impoverished Kohaur Junobi village in Pakistan's south, was mutilated because her husband was involved in a dispute with his relatives, and they wanted revenge.

Anti-blasphemy and defamation laws curtail free speech

July 28, 2011

Anti-blasphemy laws and defamation laws against public officials and Heads of State seriously restrict free speech.

That’s according to the Human Rights Committee, which has issued a commentary on freedom of expression.

Some countries, such as Pakistan, regard blasphemy towards holy personages or their religion, as a serious offence punishable by death.

Bride's Death in China Spurs Anti-Violence Bill

August 3, 2011

SHENZHEN, China (WOMENSENEWS)–When other brides would have been enjoying their honeymoons, Dong Shanshan was calling the police.

In the next 10 months, her calls became more and more desperate as her husband, Wang Guangyu, repeatedly beat her till she passed out and kidnapped her when she escaped. Her eight calls to the police did nothing. They declined to intervene in the affairs of a married couple.

It wasn't until Dong was lying on her deathbed with a belly swollen from hemorrhage that the police were ready to listen to her account. By then, it was too late.

NEPAL: Emerging from menstrual quarantine

August 3, 2011

MANGALSEN, 3 August 2011 (IRIN) - Every month, for one week,14-year-old Kamala Vishwarkarmas returns from school to sleep alone in a dark, windowless mud hut. She is forbidden from entering her family's house during her menstrual cycle for fear of what might happen.

Pakistan: Court rules drinking alcohol is not haram, should not be punished

July 31, 2011

The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has declared whipping for the offence of drinking as un-Islamic and directed the government to amend the law to make the offence bailable.

A full-bench of the FSC comprising Chief Justice Haziqul Khairi, Justice Salahuddin Mirza and Justice Fida Mohammad Khan gave the ruling on Thursday after hearing the arguments that the Holy Quran asks Muslims to stay away from liquor but does not specifically declares it Haram, or prohibited.

Curbing Child Marriage in Azerbaijan

July 18, 2011

Two years after Azerbaijan’s parliament promised tougher laws to prevent underage marriage, it took a police raid to stop a man in his thirties marrying a 13-year-old. The officers swooped on a beauty salon in the city of Ganja where the marriage was due to take place last month.

The 13-year-old child bride said she was aware that women cannot legally marry until they are 17, but believed the man, 20 years her senior, was an unmissable catch. “My fiance is a serious guy. They say he’s a businessman,” she said. “My mother saw photographs of his house – it’s large and beautiful.”

Afghanistan: Demanding Dignity on Kabul’s Streets, Afghan Women March Against Sexual Harassment

July 25, 2011

Holding signs that read “This street belongs to me too”; “We won’t tolerate insults anymore”; and a banner with a verse from the Koran emphasizing the wrongness of abusing women, around 30 young Afghan women and men marched in the sweltering afternoon heat to protest the rampant and often violent sexual harassment of women and girls on Kabul’s streets.

India: Infant Sex Selection on Rise, Despite Stricter Law

July 12, 2011

When Sujatha’s husband learned that she had conceived just five months after they got married, he became agitated over what he called her "ill-timed pregnancy". To worsen her husband’s anxiety, a test to determine the sex of the foetus showed she was carrying a girl.

Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia

July 6, 2011

A women's group that aims to teach Muslim wives how to "keep their spouses happy in the bedroom" is taking root in south-east Asia, prompting outrage from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Bangladesh: Protect women against 'fatwa' violence

July 6, 2011

Despite court orders, government has failed to intervene. 

(Dhaka) - The Bangladesh government should take urgent measures to make sure that religious fatwas and traditional dispute resolution methods do not result in extrajudicial punishments, Human Rights Watch said today.  The government is yet to act on repeated orders of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, beginning in July 2010, to stop illegal punishments such as whipping, lashing, or public humiliations, said the petitioners who challenged the practice.

India: How fruit trees in Indian village save girls' lives

July 14, 2011

In India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in backward Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child. In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.

And this practice is paying off.

Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.

India: Row after minister calls homosexuality a disease

July 5, 2011

India's health minister has sparked a furious row over comments in which he described homosexuality as a "disease". Ghulam Nabi Azad told a conference on HIV/Aids that gay sex was "unnatural". Later he said he had been misquoted. One leading Aids campaigner said the minister was "living on another planet". 

Gay sex was decriminalised in the country in a landmark judgement in 2009 but anti-homosexual discrimination remains widespread.

Mr Azad told the meeting in Delhi on Monday that homosexuality "is a disease which has come from other countries".

Indonesia: Using religion to strengthen gender equality

May 12, 2011

DENPASAR, Indonesia, May 12, 2009 (IPS) - ‘My husband rapes me repeatedly. I asked the ulama (religious leader) for help, but he sided with him, saying that according to Islam, a woman has to obey her husband. I have nowhere else to go. I have no tears left to shed. I no longer scream.’

It was while recording stories like this that staff at Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), a branch of the country’s Human Rights Commission, decided in 2007 that they needed to focus on religious leaders if they wanted to protect women. 

Sri Lanka: Police investigate attack on teenage girls

June 28, 2011

Sri Lankan police are investigating an alleged assault on two girls accused of watching pornography in the east of the country last week. A group of men allegedly beat up the 17-year-olds after they came out of an internet cafe in the mostly Muslim town of Kattankudi, near Batticaloa.The father of one of the girls says they were accused of watching pornography - a charge the girls deny.

The case has fuelled concern about a rise in radical Islam in that area.

An incident of this sort is extremely unusual for Sri Lanka.

'Taken to hospital'

Afghanistan: Authorities must look to the International Criminal Court to prosecute Taliban attacks

June 28, 2011

The Afghan government must work with the International Criminal Court to investigate those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today, after an attack on a Kabul hotel claimed by the Taleban left at least 10 people dead.

India: Doctors turn baby girls into boys through genitoplasty

June 26, 2011

Girls are being 'converted' into boys in Indore - by the hundreds every year - at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.

This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore's well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to 'produce' a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. Each surgery costs Rs 1.5 lakh.

Moreover, these children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.

India: Child marriages reduced through regional government UNICEF Program

June 19, 2011

HYDERABAD: Kiran Kumar Reddy may have made for a pretty picture helping a girl child write at a government school in Ameerpet, but it is in the distant revenue division of Adoni in Kurnool district that a real revolution is actually unfolding. Revenue officials here have stopped a whopping 400 child marriages in less than two months.

Pakistan: Sexual Harassment Act in place, but fears of reporting remain

April 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Despite the introduction of Harassment Act 2010 in the country, most women are more afraid of repercussions which may cause them to loose their job or face retaliation, so they save themselves by remaining quite.

Women are hesitant of lodging complaints as they feel they would face abusive language, forced late sitting, unnecessary work load and rumors about their characters.

Pakistan: Woman paraded naked in shaming in Haipur

July 18, 2011

Update: In response to the June 6, 2011 public shaming of a woman in Haipur, who was forcibly paraded naked in front of her entire village, Pakistani civil society organizations and NGOs formed a broad coalition to push authorities, including the chief minister, the high court and the police department, to take appropriate action. With public support, media coverage and strong rights-based advocacy, law enforcement agencies have extended their suppor to the victims and their families. Support work is ongoing.

Malaysia: Muslim women's rights leaders spoke against the Obedient Women's Club

July 18, 2011

Interview by Fathol Zaman Bukhari. There has been much furore over the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by a fringe Islamic group causing heated debate among women and men, alike. Ipoh Echo sought the views of two Malay Muslim women who helm a women’s rights movement here in Ipoh. Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Puan Halida Mohd Ali are from the Perak Women for Women Society. Here are their answers to our questions:

IE: Your views on the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by Islamic fringe group, Global Ikhwan on Saturday, June 4.

Nepal: Widows' Organization to Address Discrimination & Rights

March 17, 2011

When my husband died I was 29 years old with two young children. I was educated and from a professional middle-class family in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal. My husband was of similar background.

But with his death I realized for myself that education could make inroads into a society only up to a point. In Nepal which is mostly a Hindu society, deep-rooted religious traditions, some of them blatantly discriminating against women, are difficult to change. And this is what I faced, an experience so traumatic that I was jolted into working for change.

Afghanistan: Virginity-related penalties unfair for women

April 26, 2011

Virginity is not mentioned in the Afghan penal system and other laws, but hundreds of women unfairly face penalties over it.

Afghanistan: Tribal Elders in Khost Have Banned the Use of Girls as Reparation for Crimes and Limited the Bride-Price

May 1, 2011


Until very recently, it was common in Nadir Shah Kot to give a girl away as reparation to avenge a crime. The family of a murderer would marry off a daughter to the victim’s brother or son. It was believed, that in this way, harmony could be restored in the community.

Those who follow the tradition will be punished.

Malaysia: 'Obedient Wives' to be 'whores in bed'

June 4, 2011


KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – A group of Malaysian women launched an "Obedient Wife Club" on Saturday, urging members to be "whores in bed" and obey their husbands to curb social ills like divorce and domestic violence.

FGM: It happens in Malaysia too

February 3, 2011


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a familiar custom in Malaysia. FGM is synonymous with the Middle East and African countries, and is a shocking and barbaric practice. A number of academics and researchers have expressed concern over what seems to be a growing prevalence of FGM in Malaysia.

Pakistan: Women lose livelihood centres to militants

May 28, 2011


PESHAWAR, May 28, 2011 (IPS) - Housewife Shahida Jabeen was devastated when she heard the news that she could no longer take sewing and embroidery classes at the local training centre in her hometown in South Waziristan in north-west Pakistan.

"It was like a bombshell when I was told that the skill development centre had been closed," Jabeen told IPS over the phone. 

Pakistan: Young Women Fight Extremism in Rural Areas

May 30, 2011


Eight years ago, a brave 16-year-old girl in Peshawar set up an organisation to challenge the culture of violence that was reinforcing the oppression of women.

Much attention has been focused on the process of radicalisation of young men in the areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan. Peshawar, the town near the border between the two countries, is infamous for being the centre of a vibrant industry and trade in homemade guns.

Afghanistan: Taliban kills head of girls school

May 25, 2011


Taliban
 gunmen have killed the headteacher of a girls' school near the Afghan capital after he ignored warnings to stop teaching girls, government officials have said.

Khan Mohammad, the head of the Porak girls' school in Logar province, was shot dead near his home on Tuesday, said Deen Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor.

"He was killed because he wanted to run the school," Darwish said.

Indonesia: Government must repeal caning bylaws in Aceh

May 22, 2011


The Indonesian government must end the use of caning as a form of punishment and repeal the laws that allow it in Aceh province, Amnesty International said today after at least 21 people were publicly caned since 12 May.

In Langsa city, 14 men were caned outside the Darul Falah mosque on 19 May, following the caning of seven men a week earlier.

All 21 were found to have violated an Aceh bylaw (qanun) prohibiting gambling and were given six lashes each as hundreds of people looked on.

Pakistan: Modern communication tools and young women

February 28, 2011


A close friend, 19 year old Nazira, wore her best dress one evening. She came to show me her outfit before she went out to see someone ‘special’. Three hours later, she returned devastated; she could hardly speak. She wore a ‘burqa’ on top of what was left of her dress. Her rosy cheeks looked pale and eyes were sore. She was gang raped by the person she went to see and his friends. A male member from her family had seen her in that condition.

India: Top court urges death penalty for honor killings, calling them ‘slur on our nation’

May 10, 2011


NEW DELHI — India’s top court recommended the death penalty for perpetrators of “honor killings,” calling the practice barbaric and feudal in a ruling cheered Tuesday by activists who hope it will inspire opposition to a crime seen as anathema to a democratic nation.

Pakistan: National Assembly unanimously approves Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010

May 10, 2011


QUETTA: The National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010.

The bill was introduced last year by MNAs Marvi Memon, Begum Shahnaz Sheikh and Advocate Anusha Rehman in a bid to prevent growing incidents of violence against women.

Offenders will now be punished with life or up to 40 years imprisonment and will have to pay rupees one million to the victim.

Armenia: Court Limits Mother's Rights over Religion - Appeal Granted

May 17, 2011


YEREVAN, Armenia—After a court decision jeopardized a mother’s parental rights with her young son, Margarit Hovhannisyan one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, appealed the ruling with Armenia’s Cassation Court. Her efforts paid off on April 1, 2011, when the Cassation Court, unanimously granted her request.

Bangladesh: Women Defy Islamic Clergy

April 28, 2011


DHAKA, Apr 28, 2011 (IPS) - Bangladeshi women are pushing government to implement the recently approved National Women Development Policy (NWDP) 2011, which has met with strong resistance from Islamic clergy.

Leaders and activists of the Jatiya Mahila Sangstha (National Women’s Organisation) recently held rallies and formed human chains across major cities demanding the policy’s immediate enforcement. 

Pakistan: Transexuals allowed to have own gender category on certain official documentation

April 26, 2011


26 April 2011 - Pakistan has taken the landmark decision to allow transsexuals to have their own gender category on some official documents. The country's Supreme Court has ruled that those Pakistanis who do not consider themselves to be either male or female should be allowed to choose an alternative sex when they apply for their national identity cards.

Aleem Maqbool reports from Karachi.

Afghanistan: Virginity-related penalties "extremely unfair"

April 26, 2011


KABUL, 26 April 2011 (IRIN) - The penalties that Afghan women suffer whenever allegations of pre-marital sex and loss of virginity emerge, including death, are extreme, discriminatory and not in the penal code, activists said.

“I saw a woman who was publically humiliated and tortured because she had allegedly lost her virginity before her wedding night,” said Suraya Subhrang, a women’s rights commissioner at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Extra-judiciary penalties, she added, were prevalent and deep-rooted in the country.

Pakistan: Women Move Beyond Traditional Roles

March 8, 2011


JALOZAI, PAKISTAN — A visit to the Jalozai camp, originally established in 1980 for Afghans fleeing the Soviet invasion, gives an idea of how the fighting between the Pakistani Army and militants has affected families in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

India: Supreme court calls for 'stamping out honour killing'

April 20, 2011


India's Supreme Court has told states to "ruthlessly stamp out" the so-called honour killings. The court also warned that senior officials who failed to act against the offenders would be prosecuted. In recent times, there have been many cases where people have been ostracised or killed for defying age-old notions of tradition and family honour.

Often these crimes are endorsed, or even encouraged, by village-based caste councils.

Many of the victims are young couples who marry outside of their caste or within their sub-caste.

India: Haryana widows battered to death

April 19, 2011


Two widows have been bludgeoned to death by a man in the northern Indian state of Haryana, officials say. Police arrested a 23-year-old man, the nephew of one of the women. He was on parole, having served a sentence for rape.

Eyewitnesses told police he killed his aunt and another woman in full view of other villagers, after he accused them of being in a lesbian relationship.

Haryana is a deeply conservative and patriarchal region.

Correspondents say that so-called "honour killings" are relatively common in the area.

UN Women: Bringing Widows to the Forefront in South Asia

April 15, 2011


New Delhi—UN Women has launched a three-year regional programme to address the needs of widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Funded jointly by UN Women’s Swiss National Committee and the Standard Chartered Bank, the programme will be implemented to reduce the social ostracism faced by widows. This will be done by collecting data and evidence to highlight the stigma widows face, working with widows’ coalitions so they can speak up and access public services, and by guaranteeing that discriminatory social practices against widows are reviewed and repealed.

Malaysia: Why Some Women Wear a Hijab and Some Don’t

April 18, 2011


In Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim, some women wear the hijab, a head scarf that shows the face but covers the hair, ears and neck. And some do not. A new documentary, “Siapa Aku?” or “Who Am I?” by Norhayati Kaprawi, a young Muslim woman, explores the reasons why.

Pakistan: Rape Media Coverage Sensationalized, Politicized, Insensitive

April 5, 2011


Islamabad: Senior journalists and women rights activists chided the media for reporting rape cases like any ordinary crime, at the launching ceremony of a report on the media’s role in sex crimes.

India: Sons Preferred by Couples, Served by Bangkok Clinics

December 27, 2010


NEW DELHI: Aamita from Delhi has a dark secret. Last year, without telling family or friends, she boarded a plane to Thailand to undergo IVF treatment. A mother of two girls by then, Aamita was perfectly fertile and would have had no problem conceiving again. But she wanted a boy. 

Malaysia: Nazreen Nizam of Sisters in Islam laments Malaysian regression in rights

April 13, 2011


BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Malaysia is considered a tolerant, progressive and successful developing Muslim nation; its capital is a gleaming metropolis with one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

Yet the politicisation of religion in recent years has led to a regression in gender rights under the country’s Islamic Family Law, a prominent women’s rights group, which is aiming to reform the legislation, told TrustLaw.

Bangladesh: High Rate of Child Marriages, Warnings to Parents

April 6, 2011


DHAKA, 6 April 2011 (IRIN) - Despite various government and non-governmental initiatives to stem child marriage in Bangladesh, parents are continuing to marry off their underage daughters, health experts say. 

Pakistan: Women's Police Stations for Gender Violence

February 21, 2011


ISLAMABAD: A total number of 11,789 cases of violence against women have been registered in the country since January 2009.

According to the available data from Ministry of Interior: 8433 cases in Punjab, 680 cases in Sindh, 1656 cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 333 cases in Balochistan, 272 cases in Islamabad Capital Territory, 362 cases in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and 62 cases in Gilgit and Baltistan have been recorded since 2009.

Pakistan: Forced marriage - 12-year-old seeks divorce from 35-year-old husband

April 8, 2011

FAISALABAD: 12-year-old Alina* wants a divorce from her 35-year-old husband to whom she was married against her will in January. Her parents and husband’s family are however insistent that the girl live with the man because divorced women are not respected in the society.

Nepal: Custom & Dangers of Isolation of Women During Menstruation

March 21, 2011


The centuries old practice of chhaupadi in Nepal can cause prolonged depression in girls and women. In extreme cases it can also cause death.

Chhaupadi pratha, or ritual practice, places Nepali women and girls in a limbo of isolation. In history it is a practice that has been largely accepted. The word chhaupadi, translates in the Achham local Raute dialect as ‘chhau’ which means menstruation and ‘padi’ – woman.

Today the ritual of banishment surrounding chhaupadi still affects girls and women on all levels of Nepali society.

Interview: Muslim women in southern Thailand face discrimination by civil and religious law

March 14, 2011


BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Muslim women in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued southern region face problems of discrimination under state and religious law, as well as cultural norms, that are exceedingly difficult to address, a prominent human rights activist told TrustLaw. 

“Women’s rights in Thailand, from my opinion, are OK,” said Angkhana Neelapaijit, chairperson of the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP). “But when we talk about women in the minority groups, it’s still very poor.”

Tajikistan: Tighter Marriage Rules

March 3, 2011


Changes to the law in Tajikistan making it harder for foreigners to marry locals seem to be a move to stop Afghan and Chinese nationals entering into marriages of convenience.

The amended legislation, passed at the end of January, requires foreigners to have lived in Tajikistan for a year before they can marry locals. They must also sign a prenuptial agreement committing them to provide housing for their spouse. Since foreigners can only buy property after five years’ residence, this provision seems designed to ensure the family home is registered to a Tajik national.

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.

Bangladesh: Women Commit Suicide to Escape Sexual Harassment

February 19, 2011


Sexual harassment against women in Bangladesh is turning deadly. According to local human rights groups 28 women committed suicide this year to escape frequent sexual harassment. Before killing themselves most of them wrote a note demanding an end to the sexual harassment known locally as ‘eve teasing’ where boys intercept girls on the street, and shout obscenities, laugh at them, pull or touch them or worse. Afroza Begum sits at the kitchen table and hands me the note her daughter wrote before she killed herself.

Pakistan: Inter-University Film Festival ‘Violence is not our Culture’

March 4, 2011


Shirkat Gah (SG) organized an inter-university film festival on Thursday, 3rd of March 2011 at the Ali Institute of Education, as part of its campaign titled ‘Violence is not our Culture’. This event also marked 100 years of International Women’s Day (1911-2011). The event was attended by university students, Civil Society and NGO members as well as people from all walks of life.

Pakistan: Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, critic of blasphemy laws, shot dead in Islamabad

March 2, 2011


Self-described Taliban gunmen have shot dead Pakistan's minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, an advocate of reform of the country's blasphemy laws, as he left his Islamabad home.

India: Tribal Girl's Courage Award after Harassment & Torture

February 27, 2011


Birbhum (Women's Feature Service) - Sixteen-year-old Sunita Murmu is quite the celeb in her locality these days. This teenager had the courage to approach the remote Mohammadbazar police station in Birbhum, one of West Bengal's most backward districts, and lodge a complaint against the powerful criminal elements from within her community. Of course, she did not stop there - young Sunita also ensured that these men were arrested for sexually harassing, torturing and ostracising her.

VNC: Secure the independence of women's shelters in Afghanistan.

February 22, 2011


Uphold the rights of Afghan women and girls to be freed from gender-based violence. Secure the independence of women's shelters in Afghanistan.

The Global Campaign to Stop Violence against Women in the Name of ‘Culture’, an international network of women’s human rights defenders and advocates, fully supports our sisters in Afghanistan in resisting their government’s attempt to put the country’s women shelters under State control.

Afghanistan: Proposal Would Clamp Down on Women’s Shelters

February 10, 2011


KABUL, Afghanistan — After her parents threw her out of the house for refusing to marry a 52-year-old widower with five children, Sabra, 18, boarded a bus that dropped her, afraid and confused, in downtown Kabul. She slept in a mosque for days, barely eating, until a woman took pity on her and put her in touch with human rights workers, who escorted her to a women’s shelter.

Indonesia: Activists Criticize Clerics Over Dress Code

February 10, 2011


The Network for Civil Society Concerned with Sharia (JMSPS) in Aceh has criticized clerics and asked them not to overly interfere in enforcing the Muslim dress code, especially for Muslim women in the province. 

“Aceh clerics should not stunt their important position by dealing with trivial matters related to the daily lives of Aceh residents,” said Hendra Fadli from the Aceh Legal Aid Institute (LBH).

The Aceh LBH is one of 15 NGOs affiliated with the JMSPS in Aceh.

Indonesia: Clerics ban Valentine's Day

February 10, 2011


The Indonesia Council of Ulema has made its annual — and regularly ignored — call for Muslims to avoid celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day on Monday.

Roza’i Akbar, head of the Dumai, Riau, branch of the council, also known as MUI, said Valentine’s Day — an annual celebration of love — was a Western occasion and not permitted (haram) under Islam.

Roza’i said the celebration was inappropriate as it was identified with pre-marital relationships among teenagers.

Islam’s religious pluralism in context

February 8, 2011


The question of whether Islam accepts religious pluralism depends on an understanding of the term and hinges on the Quranic verses, writes Mohamad Hashim Kamali. 

THE current debate as to whether Islam accepts religious pluralism as opposed to mere religious plurality calls for further reflection. Much would depend, it seems, on how one understands religious pluralism and then the three Quranic verses that characterise Islam.

Indonesia: Sisters in Islam (SIS) denounces controversial plans to “check” sinful activities of youth

February 10, 2011


PETALING JAYA: Sisters in Islam (SIS) has hit out at PAS Youth over its controversial plans to “check” sinful activities and play the moral police on Valentine’s Day.

Its media and communications senior programme officer, Yasmin Masidi, said moral policing was against Islamic values and fundamental liberties.

She added: “It violates personal dignity and privacy, which is for­bidden in the Quran and Hadith.”

She was responding to the movement’s planned multi-pronged approach to discourage sinful activities on Valentine’s Day, which falls on Monday.

Pakistan: Hundreds of women die for “honour” each year

January 27, 2011


LAHORE, 27 January 2011 (IRIN) - Did 22-year-old Saima Bibi scream out as she was electrocuted at her parents’ home in their village near the southern Punjab city of Bahawalpur in Pakistan? Did she plead with her family for her life? Did she seek mercy? 

The answers to these questions will never be known. In one of the most harrowing “honour” killings reported in recent months in the country, Saima was, according to media reports, murdered by her relatives.

Bangladesh: Four arrested for the death of 14 year old Hena Begum

February 2, 2011


Four people including a Muslim cleric have been arrested in Bangladesh in connection with the death of 14-year-old girl who was publicly lashed.

The teenager was accused of having an affair with a married man, police say, and the punishment was given under Islamic Sharia law.

<--break->Hena Begum's family members said a village court consisting of elders and clerics passed the sentence.

Turkey: Headscarf Continues as Political Issue

January 31, 2011


ANKARA, Jan 31, 2011 (IPS) - A ruling by an administrative court banning female candidates for academic posts from being veiled during an admission examination has brought the headscarf back to the front of Turkish politics, and reignited tensions between secularist and religious forces. 

Afghanistan: Police pledge justice for Taliban stoning

January 26, 2011


The BBC's Quentin Sommerville: ''For Siddqa, the hole where she stood is now her grave''

The men who stoned a couple to death in north Afghanistan will be brought to justice, say officials, after footage of the killings came to light.

<--break->The man and woman were accused of adultery in the district of Dashte Archi in Kunduz province last August.

Pakistan: Crimes of Honor and Questions on Powers of Panchayat "Courts"

January 26, 2011


TWENTY-year-old Saima was electrocuted to death Friday in Bahawalpur district on the orders of a panchayat comprised of her father and three uncles, because she had eloped with a man of her choosing. That same week, Najma Bibi was paraded around her village in Khanewal district with her hair chopped off and face blackened in accordance with a panchayat`s orders, after her in-laws accused her of having illicit relations.

Pakistan: Disastrous year for human rights

January 24, 2011


Militant Attacks, Judicial Misconduct Mark the Year.

(New York) January 24, 2011 -- The Taliban and other religious extremists in Pakistan increased their deadly attacks against civilians and public spaces during 2010, while the Pakistani government response was marred by serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2011.

Pakistan - Sindh Province Resolution Condemns Honour Killings

November 6, 2010


KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly (SA) on Friday unanimously passed a resolution condemning honour killings in the province.

Pakistan: clerics say anyone who mourns murdered politician is a “blasphemer” and will suffer the same fate

January 7, 2011


More than 500 Muslim clerics in Pakistan have said that anyone who mourns the murder of Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of the Punjab region who was murdered for opposing the country’s blasphemy law, will suffer the same fate. They also praised the “courage and zeal” of Taseer’s killer, saying his action has made Muslims around the world proud.

The clerics said “there should be no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the Prophet are themselves indulging in blasphemy.”

Afghanistan: Violence and tradition keep millions of Afghans from school

January 1, 2011


KABUL, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Worsening security and enduring conservative Islamic customs prevented almost five million Afghan children from going to school in 2010, a government official said on Saturday.

The strict Islamist Taliban were ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces nearly a decade ago, but many women are still not able to work outside the home and girls are prevented from attending school in remote parts of the country.

Pakistan - Sexual Violence & Incest - Shrouded in Silence - Analysis

December 14, 2010


Lahore, Pakistan – International human rights organization Equality Now, in conjunction with WAR Lahore, an organization dedicated to addressing sexual abuse convened a two day workshop on sexual violence in Pakistan. The meeting was held at the Punjab University Law College in Lahore on 13-14 December 2010, and brought together over 40 activists, lawyers and service providers from across Pakistan. There was also representation of judges and medico-legal personnel.

Bangladesh: Sexual Harassment Can Lead to Suicide

December 13, 2010


DHAKA, 13 December 2010 (IRIN) - Sexual harassment against girls and women in Bangladesh is turning deadly: 28 women have committed suicide this year and another seven attempted it to escape frequent sexual harassment, says a Dhaka-based human rights organization, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).

A father also committed suicide fearing social insult after his daughter was harassed and in other cases, stalkers killed three women, reported the NGO.

Interview: Forced and Arranged Marriages - Between Elucidation and Scandalizing Distortion

December 2, 2010


Filiz Sütcü, a lawyer of Turkish origin, has carried out academic research into the subject of forced and arranged marriages. In an interview with Claudia Mende, she criticises the media's sensational treatment of the issue and explains that public debate is usually more about cultural and religious defamation.

Kyrgyzstan: Bride Kidnapping Prevalent

November 22, 2010


One third of all Kyrgyzstan brides are considered to have been kidnapped by their future husbands. The custom of bride kidnapping, which began with rival clans stealing and forcing marriage on each others’ women, has grown into a large social problem in Kyrgyzstan over the past 50 years. Some young men in this Central Asian state take to heart the well-known Kyrgyz saying, “A good marriage starts with tears.” 

Indonesia: Local Sharia Laws Violate Rights in Aceh

December 1, 2010


(Jakarta) - Two local Sharia laws in Indonesia's Aceh province violate rights and are often enforced abusively by public officials and even private individuals, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The country's central government and the Aceh provincial government should take steps to repeal the two laws, Human Rights Watch said.

Pakistan: Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy, may get pardon

November 22, 2010


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Christian woman who was sentenced to death by a municipal court for blasphemy against Islam could be pardoned by the president in the next few days, a senior government official said Monday.

Asia Bibi, 45, an agricultural worker and mother of five, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, according to human rights groups.

India: Village bans unmarried women from using cell phones

November 24, 2010


An Indian village has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones for fear they will arrange forbidden marriages that are often punished by death, a local official said today.

The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision, said one council member, Satish Tyagi. Local women's rights group criticised the measure as backward and unfair.

Pakistan: Walk Against Honour Killing

November 30, 2010


LAHORE: There were slogans and chanting in front of the Lahore Press Club on Monday when more than 80 women rallied for about an hour to mark the International Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day.

The walk, arranged by Shirkat Gah, a non-governmental organisation working to protect women rights, started from the Press Club.

It concluded at a nearby park. Banners and placards carried slogans targeting various types of violence against women. From honour killing to gender driven violence to physical abuse, the participants of the rally made sure no category was ignored.

Cambodian Acid Violence Against Women

March 6, 2008

Acid violence defies any bounds of comprehension. It is a violation born and nurtured in hell itself, a pitiless, hideous evil. It takes away both skin and flesh and the very soul of the victim. And it does so with finality that is often absolute.

A Cutting Tradition

February 28, 2008

When a girl is taken — usually by her mother — to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals.

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.