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News and Views: Religious and Cultural Interpretations

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.

Bahrain: Family violence law articles approved

March 6, 2014

By MOHAMMED AL A'ALI ,  Posted on » Tuesday, March 04, 2014

BAHRAIN's top legal authority has recommended that husbands who force their wives to have sex should not be prosecuted.

It has also suggested husbands and guardians who "reasonably" discipline their wives and daughters should be above the law.

The Supreme Judicial Council made the recommendations to ensure new legislation on domestic disputes does not contradict Sharia (Islamic) principles. 

However, the recommendations have yet to be voted on by the Shura Council.

Sudan: Ethiopian Woman Gang Raped by Seven Sudanese Men, Denied from Making a Formal Complaint of Rape and Instead Charged with Adultery and Prostitution

February 20, 2014

Press Statement

14th February 2014

The Ethiopian woman in Khartoum, Sudan, who was gang raped by seven men, has been denied by the Attorney General the ability to make a formal complaint of rape and thus instigate a full investigation. She has instead been charged with adultery which carries the potential sentence of death by stoning.

European women go on trial for topless Tunis protest

June 7, 2013

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

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

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.

Saudi Arabia: "There is not one law in Saudi Arabia that regards violence toward women as an illegal activity": what's really behind Saudi's domestic abuse problem?

May 29, 2013

Saudi Arabia has introduced a campaign aimed at tackling domestic violence against women in the kingdom. The King Khalid Foundation funds the campaign, which is a royal, family-run organization with clear ties to the Saudi government.

 

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.

 

Saudi Arabia: Women warned not to hug each other or face mental examination

May 17, 2013

A Saudi Arabian website shared a document allegedly issued by an all female university warning them to not “hug” each other or they would face being transferred to a mental examination by the school.

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.

UN Women: culture must not block progress on stopping gender violence

March 4, 2013

Commission on Status of Women opens in New York, but Iran, Russia and Vatican thought to be lobbying against key proposals.

Culture and religion must not be allowed to block proposals to eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls, the head of UN Women said on the eve of what is expected to be the largest global summit ever convened to discuss the issue.

"Traditional Values" vs Human Rights at the UN

February 18, 2013

A dangerous process is taking place in the UN system that threatens the universality of human rights by seeking to make them contingent on subjective ‘traditional values’ such as ‘responsible behaviour’.

USA: Modesty in Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads

January 29, 2013

The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys.

 

“The man said, ‘Do the neighborhood a favor and take it out of the window,’ ” the store’s manager recalled. “ ‘We’re trying to safeguard our community.’ ”

Double Bind: tied up in knots on the left

February 5, 2013

Instead of sanitizing the Muslim right as a way of fighting racism in the North, Meredith Tax argues that the left should develop a strategy of solidarity with democrats, trade unionists, religious and sexual minorities, and feminists struggling in the Global South against both neo-liberalism and fundamentalism.

 

Saudi Arabia: King Invites Women To Join The Debate ... From Another Room

January 14, 2013

King Abdullah kept a promise to Saudi Arabia's women last week, when he appointed 30 of them to four-year terms in the new Consultative Assembly, the pseudo-legislature that advises the monarch on laws and regulations.

As usual with such developments in Saudi Arabia, there is a catch: The women will have to meet in a room separate from the men.

Iraqi Women Seek a New Liberation

January 16, 2013

An interview with Hanaa Edwar, general secretary of Iraqi Al Amal Association and head of the Iraqi Women Network.

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,

America’s Rape Problem: We Refuse to Admit That There Is One

January 4, 2013

It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance. Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.

A problematic discourse: who speaks for Arab women?

December 17, 2012

Placed between the First Lady and the Diplomat at the recent Trust Women conference on the 'Arab spring', Ala'a Shehabi argues that in order to foster constructive engagement with the global south, the media, international donors and policy makers should recognise the radical social shifts towards unorganised local groupings and informal collectives

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.

Women’s rights and the rule of law: education and implementation

December 5, 2012

Legislative victories are important in changing society to eradicate injustices like forced child marriage, but such change is delivered because of and not without daring, challenging, transformative processes of education and action whether led by state, religious, familiar or civic actors. Trusting women, and trusting ourselves, can often be a moment of defiance

Nigeria: The Sexual Minority And Legislative Zealotry

December 23, 2012

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

UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Circumcision

December 20, 2012

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility.

It has also been linked to religious and cultural practices, although Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

Although not legally binding, General Assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.

Egypt: The Day after the Referendum

December 13, 2012

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

Islamic feminism: fighting discrimination, inspired by faith

November 29, 2012

Islamic feminists embrace their faith, culture and tradition while fiercely advocating for legislative reforms and interpretations that reflect a more modern understanding of women's role in society.

Activism, fundraising and security online: facets of the feminist cyborg

December 4, 2012

On December 3 and 5, a webinar on ‘Feminist Cyborgs: Activism, Fundraising and Security Online’ took place, hosted by the African Feminist Forum (AFF) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

"The Malala Effect" - Statement by UNHCHR on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 23, 2012

“Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights, eliminating discrimination and achieving gender equality lie at the heart of the international human rights system, starting with article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states unequivocally: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’

Feminist voices in Islam: promise and potential

November 19, 2012

By Ziba Mir Hosseini

Religion is back in public space, and the thesis that modernization means the privatization of religion has been seriously questioned. Some religious and feminist dogmas need re-examination. What do ‘secular’ or ‘religious’ or ‘feminist’ mean in today’s contexts?

Islam and feminism are often perceived and portrayed as incompatible. There is a plethora of literature and a host of arguments, both in the media and in academia, to show this is the case.

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.

Saudi Arabia: Morality Policy New Guidelines to Not Harass Women

October 26, 2012

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The cleric who heads the Saudi morality police said he is taking steps to rein in the force, the latest move by authorities aimed at improving the position of women in Saudi society amid a public outcry in social media.

Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh, appointed by King Abdullah in January to head the religious police, told The Wall Street Journal that he plans to distribute guidelines to all members of his force making clear that they don't have the power to arrest or interrogate Saudi citizens, or to attend trials.

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

November 7, 2012

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

 

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

November 7, 2012

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

 

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.

 

Egypt: The feminine critique

September 12, 2012

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

Saudi Arabia: Breakthrough feature film "Wadjda" narrates the story of a 10 year old girl breaking social barriers

October 11, 2012

“Wadjda” is not only one of the first films to come out of Saudi Arabia, even more significantly it is the first feature written and directed by a Saudi Arabian woman, the talented Haifaa Al Mansour.
Saudi Arabia’s first female director has made her debut at the Venice film festival, exploring the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh.

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.

Israel: Symptom of crisis? Religion and Women's Rights

September 10, 2012

Women are being increasingly targeted as the accommodation between religious and secular Israelis crumbles, heralding a profound systemic crisis in Israeli society, Nira Yuval-Davis tells Deniz Kandiyoti.

Deniz Kandiyoti:  Through sporadic news items concerning ultra-orthodox excesses in Israel, we get the sense of a fundamental shift in the role of religion in public life. How would you evaluate the growing public role of religion?

Palestine: All-female party to run in elections

September 16, 2012

A new group running for municipal elections in Hebron is offering residents an alternative to politics as usual in the conservative West Bank city: Women at the helm, instead of men.

The all-female list, which is called “By Participating, We Can,” is gearing up for next month’s vote with a campaign that aims both to win at the polls and to convince voters that women can lead just as well as men.

Iran: Struggle over what is morally appropriated to wear

July 21, 2012

An annual test of wills between Iran’s morality police and women who dress in ways that are deemed unacceptable has begun in cities across the Islamic republic.

But this year, the stakes are unusually high. As Iranian leaders attempt to deflect the public’s attention from economic woes spurred by crushing foreign sanctions, they risk alienating large segments of a society that is already deeply divided.

UN: Harmful Traditional Practices - statement by Rashida Manjoo, UNSRVAW

June 27, 2012

Throughout the world, there are practices that are violent towards women and girls and harmful to their well-being overall. Young girls are circumcised, bound by severe dress codes, denied property rights or killed for the sake of honour in the family. Although these and other practices constitute a form of violence, they have often avoided national and international scrutiny because they are seen as traditional practices that deserve tolerance and respect. This highlights how the universality of human rights is often denied when it comes to the rights of women and girls, and how cultural relativism can be wrongly used to allow for inhumane and discriminatory practices against women.

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

July 12, 2012

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

 NORTHWEST OF HOWICK, South Africa —

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

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

Morocco: Wearing the hijab may not be an ‘Islamic duty’ says university

June 30, 2012

Casablanca, MOROCCO: Last month at Al Azhar University, Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed defended a thesis that sparked a heated debate among religious scholars.The candidate concluded that Hijab, or the veil, is not an Islamic duty.

The claim is not the first of its kind, but the mere fact that it is adopted in Al Azhar University – the Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning –makes it controversial.

UN: Stop Stoning Globally - Statement by Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers

June 26, 2012

Remarks by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers – Gabriela Knaul -- at the June 26, 2012 panel "Stop Stoning Globally" at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

UN: Stop Stoning Globally - opening remarks by UNSRVAW Rashida Manjoo

May 26, 2012

At the outset, I would like to thank the Worldwide Organization for Women, Justice for Iran and the Women’s UN Report Network, for inviting me to address this panel on the stoning of women. This event is very timely as this year I devoted my annual thematic report to the issue of gender related killings of women, among which death by stoning is a severe and cruel manifestation.

Lebanon: Boys do cry

June 21, 2012

“Feeling stressed, agitated, over the edge?” These are the slogans you read on billboards across the country. These expressions aren’t new to Lebanon’s urban dictionary – however it may be the first time they are being used constructively. The banners depict men mostly from the working class in aggravating circumstances. One billboard shows a taxi driver, raising his arm in disdain at the traffic (or so it seems), the slogan heading the picture reads: “feeling like you’ve reached the end of your line? Don’t vent out your anger on others, or your family. Call us, we are ready to listen.”

Sierra Leone: Fighting for women’s right to land

June 22, 2012

FREETOWN - Shortly after her father died, Sia Bona’s husband’s family took over her father’s oil-palm plantation and rice paddies, and drove her and her mother from their home. “I came from riches, but now I am poor,” said the 45-year-old teacher from Koidu town in eastern Sierra Leone. 

Greece: Crisis hits women especially hard

June 15, 2012

Disproportionately affected by public sector cuts and expected to step into caring roles, women also face rising domestic violence.

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.

Ghana: Land Tenure System and Women's Rights

June 8, 2012

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

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

Togo: Délivrer les enfants handicapés des traditions paralysantes

June 21, 2012

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

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

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.

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

May 3, 2012

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

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

Legal protection

United Arab Emirates: Gender equality is more than financial

June 6, 2012

The UAE has consistently taken steps to empower women. Female workers can be seen across all sectors of the economy, from media and law to engineering and science. But while the UAE is ahead of other countries in the region in guaranteeing gender rights and equality, women's empowerment is still a work in progress.

Cameroon: Matrilineal Custom Puts Widows in Limbo

June 8, 2012

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

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

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

Uganda: Changing attitudes to widespread early marriage

June 7, 2012

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

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

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

May 31, 2012

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

USA: Chicago Islamic leader uses education as weapon against terrorism and discrimination

May 30, 2012

Education is the weapon of choice for an area Islamic leader in his fight against the radicalization of Islamic youth and the discrimination of American Muslims.

Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, 36, is the director of the Gain Peace project, an Islamic outreach program based in Chicago. Ahmed blames misinterpretations of the Quran and Islam for the dual extremes of Islamophobia and violent Islamist radicalism. He sees education as the way forward to both break down stereotypes and counter terrorist groups looking to recruit Muslim-Americans to commit acts of violence.

United Kingdom: Pressures and Resistance to Polygamy

May 31, 2012

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family.

But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married.

Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy.

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.

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”.

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.

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

May 13, 2012

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

Kuwait: Bill proposed to prohibit female judges

May 14, 2012

KUWAIT: Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

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.

India: Polygamy Fatwa Welcomed by Islamic Council of India

May 7, 2012

The fatwa was issued in response to a query by a man who wanted advice on marrying twice. “Although Islam permits two wives at the same time, Indian traditions do not allow it,” the seminary said, adding that while Islam “allowed” second marriage, the practice itself was not encouraged. Serving as a leading institution of Islamic learning in India for over 150 years, the Deoband seminary also has a global presence from which thousands of Sunni Islamic scholars are graduated. In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.

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.

Australia: Minorities fear their cultures smeared by reports of domestic violence

April 17, 2012

Joumanah El Matrah, from the Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, said when groups tried to draw the government's attention to violence against minority women the discussion was hijacked by those in the wider public who focused on "Muslim" violence.

Striking at the Source of the War on Women

May 3, 2012

The generals of the opposing armies in the current political "War on Women" have had their radar and their reconnaissance patrols focused on battlefields on Capitol Hill, in state capitals from Richmond to Phoenix, from Concord to Austin, in Rome, and on the positions taken by presidential candidates. These battles over contraception, women's healthcare, violence against women, Vatican suppression of nuns, pay equity and a host of other matters, are of great importance.

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.

Israeli Conservative Movement approves ordination of gay rabbis

April 30, 2012

Israel's Masorti (Conservative) Movement decided to approve the ordination of homosexual rabbis, in a dramatic vote on Thursday. The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, affiliated with the movement, will admit gay and lesbian students for training as spiritual leaders as of the upcoming school year. 'A very important development in Jewish law,' says President of the Israeli Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly.

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.

Albania: Virginity pressures bring women to the operating table

April 29, 2012

Tirana, ALBANIA: A secret crisis for women is happening in Albania. It has to do with a women’s health, identity, chastity and marriage. According to confirmations by doctors at gynaecological clinics in Albania’s capital city of Tirana, up to three young women each day are undergoing a surgical procedure in Tirana: a simple 20-minute gynaecological intervention to become virgins again.

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.

UK: Female British Muslims are finding their voice

April 28, 2012

Anyone who has worked in British Muslim communities will tell you the very notion of women's rights is still considered a taboo subject. Like many women who have spent years challenging gender-based discrimination, I know how much resistance there is to equality.

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.

Why do they hate us? - Mona Eltahawy

April 23, 2012

In "Distant View of a Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to depriv

Saudi Arabia: Binding Women to Restrictions is about Control, not Religion

April 22, 2012

Binding women to restrictions. Many in Saudi Arabia point out, quoting scholars, that it is not an Islamic issue but one of control.

Culture versus Rights Dualism: a myth or a reality?

April 25, 2012

Women’s human rights discourse and movements have become entangled within a culture-versus-rights dualism. Yakin Ertürk argues that this is a false dualism which serves both private patriarchy and public patriarchy of neo-liberal globalisation. Yakin Ertürk serves on the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture ↑ .She was the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, from 2003 -2009, and until recently Professor of Sociology at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

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.”

USA: The marginalized pay for the church's ideological battles

April 11, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.

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.

Nepal: Increase in Witchcraft Accussations and Abuse

April 4, 2012

In Nepali society, currently, the Violence Against Women, particularly at the name of custom is increasing dramatically. About a month ago, a woman killed was accused of witchcraft in Chitwan. That case hasn't received justice yet.

In this shocking alleged witchcraft scenario, another woman was beaten seriously and her both eyes were broken.

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

March 30, 2012

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

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

Papua New Guinea: Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women calls for accountability for gender violence

March 26, 2012

PORT MORESBY (26 March 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo called* on the Government of Papua New Guinea to reinforce legal and support mechanisms in its fight to eradicate violence against women. At the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country, Ms. Manjoo also urged the authorities to address some of the traditional practices that are harmful to women.

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

March 6, 2012

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

Kuwait: Egyptian teen attempts suicide to avoid forced marriage

March 20, 2012

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

She survived the fall but suffered multiple fractures.

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

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

March 16, 2012

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

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

Muslim women's rights in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

March 14, 2012

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

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

March 13, 2012

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

Afghan Clerics' Conservative Blueprint for Women

March 7, 2012

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

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

The "End of Stoning": Islamic Republic Style

March 12, 2012

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

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

February 29, 2012

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

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.

Egypt's feminists prepare for a long battle

February 7, 2012

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

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

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".

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!"

Saudi Arabia: Hopes for More Social Freedoms Under New Religious Police Chief

January 25, 2012

RIYADH: The appointment of a moderate to head the feared Saudi religious police has raised hopes that a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the kingdom, but human rights activists remain skeptical.

Less than two weeks into his post as chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Abdul-Latif Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh banned volunteers from serving in the commission, a move designed to curb the group’s most outrageous violations.

Saudi Arabia: Reformist Cleric Named to Enforce Saudi Morals

January 14, 2012

RIYADH—Saudi Arabia's king replaced the hard-line chief of the country's morality police with a more liberal cleric who has encouraged greater women's rights, a change welcomed by activists as a sign that the monarchy would continue to pursue cautious social reforms in the face of political upheaval in the Middle East.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud on Friday appointed Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh to oversee the religious police, who roam the kingdom's shopping malls and streets enforcing a rigorous version of Islamic law among the 27 million residents of Saudi Arabia.

U.N. Condemns Religious Intolerance, Drops 'defamation'

December 20, 2011

For the first time in more than a decade, the U.N. General Assembly on Monday condemned religious intolerance without urging states to outlaw "defamation of religions," an appeal critics said opened the door to abusive "blasphemy" laws.

The call on countries to prohibit "defamation" had been included in a non-binding resolution on combating religious intolerance passed annually by the 193-nation assembly.

Should we call it ‘honour killing’? No!

January 30, 2012

It’s a false distancing of ourselves from a too-common crime: the murder of females.

Men Can Stop Rape Launches “Where Do You Stand?” Campaign

February 2, 2012

Yesterday, Men Can Stop Rape launched their new bystander intervention campaign geared towards addressing sexual violence on college campuses. “Where Do You Stand?” uses a number of tools such as trainings, posters, and media materials to encourage young men to become active bystanders to end sexual violence.

'Honour'-based violence runs deep and wide

February 2, 2012

The issue must be seen in the context of violence against women and the inequality found throughout society.

Honour killings in Canada: even worse than we believe

January 31, 2012

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

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

January 27, 2012

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

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.

 

Egypt: Concerns as Brotherhood Ignores Abuse of Women

January 19, 2012

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

Saudi Arabia: Women Resist Male Guardianship Laws

January 18, 2012

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

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

Pakistan: Region Gives Women Legal Right To Property

January 6, 2012

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

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

Malawi: Women protest over 'trouser attacks'

January 20, 2012

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

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

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

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

Israel: Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud

January 19, 2012

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

Mauritania: Muslim imams initiate rare ban on female circumcision

January 21, 2010

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

Trinidad: Hinduism Rejects Violence Against Women

January 1, 2012

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

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

December 28, 2011

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

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

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

January 5, 2012

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

But chances are you have heard nothing about this.

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

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

January 6, 2012

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

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

Uganda: Gay and Vilified in Uganda

December 22, 2011

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

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.

Canada: Imams Show Leadership in Speaking out against Violence Against Women

December 18, 2011

A group of Canadian imams is right to use a high-profile trial as a timely opportunity to condemn violence and abuse committed in the name of family honour.

While there is no honour in killing, honour-based violence does exist. It is a manifestation not of religion, but of culture, and is more prevalent in countries with patriarchal traditions where adultery is punishable by law such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Canada is not immune from such influences.

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."

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

September 12, 2011

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

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

Papua New Guinea: Violence Against Women Accused of Sorcery

December 6, 2011
The belief in black magic, sorcery, evil spirits and witches is widespread in the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea: this superstition is called Saguma.

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.

Frat suspended after surveying its members on who they would like to rape

December 15, 2011

Really, Sigma Phi Epsilon? There’s no way the University of Vermont frat really thought it was ok to send a survey to its members asking, “If you could rape anyone, who would it be?” Is there? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

Papua New Guinea: Police Cite Bride Price Major Factor in Marital Violence

November 21, 2011

Bride price is the major contributing factor today that’s why married men feel they can do anything to their wives, a senior Papua New Guinea police officer says. Minj police station commander Horim Piamia said many men regarded their wives as materials they bought from a shop and not as their partners.

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.

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

November 14, 2011

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

Busting the Myths about Marital Rape

November 24, 2011

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

Argentina: Campaign - Men Fighting 'Machismo'

November 10, 2011

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

Somalia: Women Lobby for Law Against FGM/C

November 3, 2011

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

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.

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

November 2, 2011

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

DR Congo: Traditional Leaders Roles

November 5, 2011

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

WLUML: Statement on Libya

October 25, 2011

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

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

October 18, 2011

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

Yemen: Tawakkul Karman as Cause and Effect

October 21, 2011

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

Senegal: Progress in Movement to End Genital Cutting

October 16, 2011

SARE HAROUNA, Senegal — When Aissatou Kande was a little girl, her family followed a tradition considered essential to her suitability to marry. Her clitoris was sliced off with nothing to dull the pain.

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.

Lebanon: Engaging Men in Ending Violence Against Women

October 11, 2011

“Ending violence against women and having a society that truly espouses the principles of gender equality can only be done when men and women work together, side by side, as partners in achieving that goal.”

Chad: Women Activists Against Gender-Based Violence

September 7, 2011

LAI, Chad, 7 September 2011 – A brave mother, Hadjara Oumarou, sat under a tree with her estranged husband, Oumar Sidik, outside their local village courthouse here in Chad’s Tandjilé District. Their 10-year-old daughter Amira (not her real name) sat between them.

They were at the courthouse because Mr. Sidik had sold Amira for the equivalent of $120. When the man who ‘bought’ her visited Ms. Oumarou to demand his bride, she refused to give her up, insisting that she attend school before she marries.

In the same district, a shocking number of young girls have been raped.

Saudi Arabia: We Say "Yes" to Women's Full Enjoyment of their Rights

October 2, 2011

The Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) Campaign welcomes long awaited and recent reforms announced by King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud, that promise to gives Saudi Arabian women the rights to vote and run for office in municipal council elections, and to become full voting members of the next Shura council. The promise to increase women’s participation in civic life is a tribute to women’s efforts on the ground who have been campaigning inside the country, despite strict and rigid opposition.

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. 

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.

Dear Facebook: Rape is No Joke

September 19, 2011

According to Facebook’s terms of service, users are not permitted to post content that is hateful, threatening or incites violence. But it appears that, in the minds of the Facebook powers-that-be, pages that encourage rape don’t violate that rule.

The Islamic Veil across Europe

September 22, 2011

Countries across Europe have wrestled with the issue of the Muslim veil - in various forms such as the body-covering burka andthe niqab, which covers the face apart from the eyes.

The debate takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism.

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.

Between Power and Freedom: The Challenge in the Future of Islamic Feminism

September 20, 2011

Ahmad Fuad Rahmat | Research Fellow, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)It is an evident, although often unacknowledged, fact that Islam’s long history and intellectual tradition is comprised of a rather impressive list of important women thinkers and figures. The Qur’an itself included “believing women” in its scope and statements. Further precedent was set through the leadership of Aisha and the historical significance of Fatimah.

Kenya: Religious leaders oppose anti-abortion clerics

September 17, 2011

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

Egypt: The unclear future of women

September 19, 2011

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

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

Canada: New insights on 'honour killings' in report by Ontario police

September 15, 2011

The phrase “honour killing” is a misnomer that should be shunned because it emphasizes a twisted rationale for murder rather than the murder itself, and even in Canada the notion has spawned instances of judicial leniency toward the killer, a landmark report on domestic violence among South Asian immigrants concludes.

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

Iraq: Fight for Women’s Rights Begins All Over Again

September 13, 2011

BAGHDAD, Sep 13, 2011 (IPS) - When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about 300 kilometres south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling legal struggle.

"She is not a simple case," says Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. 

Gay Rights: A World of Inequality

September 15, 2011

Gay people still live in fear in many countries around the world – prejudice, torture and execution are common. Can two new legal and diplomatic campaigns change attitudes?

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

September 10, 2011

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

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

September 4, 2011

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

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

November 19, 2010

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

The answer's global pro bono work.

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

UN HRC: Witches in the 21st Century

August 24, 2009

Throughout history, people described as witches have been persecuted, tortured and murdered and the practice continues today. Statistics are not easy to come by but it is known that every year, thousands of people, mostly older women and children are accused as witches, often abused, cast out of their families and communities and in many cases murdered.

Jordan: Child Bride in Jordan Puts Daughters on Same Path

August 22, 2011

What kind of mothers subject their daughters to drudgery, deny them education and threaten them with early marriage and other human rights abuses? The answer, one family's story suggests, are women who've gone through just that themselves.

AMMAN, Jordan (WOMENSENEWS)--Fawzeya, a 70-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian woman living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, raised her two daughters--now 53 and 47--with an iron hand.

Tunisia: Women's rights hang in the balance

August 20, 2011

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

Nigeria: Changing attitudes to contraception

July 27, 2011

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

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

Egypt: Women seek to establish themselves during transitional period

August 15, 2011

CAIRO: Six months on, women say they are yet to reap the benefits of a revolution that explicitly called for equality and social justice, with women missing from key positions that are helping shape the country in its transitional phase.

Dr. Farouk Musa: Feminism, gender equality and the Qur'an

August 8, 2011

There have been numerous tafsirs throughout the ages, but few stressed on the gender equity issues aspropounded by the Qur’an. Many exegetes failed to distance themselves from the misogynist views prevalent in their society while endeavoring to interpret God’s words. Their exegeses are so deeply embedded in the minds of the Muslims nowadays and considered to be the ultimate truth that any other forms of interpretation are considered non-conformist or worse, heretical.

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.

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.

Norway Retail Chain Pulling Violent Video Games in Wake of Breivik Killings

August 1, 2011

Norway's still reeling from the shocking mass murders allegedly performed by Anders Breivik 10 days ago, and the latest cultural repercussions will make it harder to find certain video games in the massacre's wake.

Coop Norway, one of the country's largest retailers, announced late last week that they'd be removing 51 video games and weapon-like toys from their shelves in the aftermath of the Oslo/Utoya shootings.

300 Austrian clerics call for women priests, reform

July 12, 2011

VATICAN CITY -- Austrian bishops have criticized an effort by a group of priests calling for reforms in church practice, including opening the priesthood to women and married men, but the bishops have not taken or threatened disciplinary action.

Michael Pruller, spokesman for Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, said the cardinal plans to meet in late August or September with the Viennese priests who are among the leaders of the "Initiative of Parish Priests," which launched a "Call to Disobedience" in June.

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.

Time To Lead: Islam in Canada

July 6, 2011

This summer, thousands of people will become new Canadian citizens. Many of them will be Muslims. They have come to Canada from every corner of the globe and, like my parents did 24 years ago, they will make this peaceful, progressive nation their home.

My parents left behind Pakistan and chose Canada for the same reasons many other Muslim immigrants came here 20, 30 or 40 years ago: for democracy, freedom, stability and modernity.

Bolivia: Women fight superstition and machismo in mining cooperatives

June 23, 2011

Hundreds of women belonging to mining cooperatives in Bolivia are striving for the right to mine seams of tin and silver in the country's western highlands, where an age old superstition maintains that the presence of women "scares away" the minerals.

In these freezing high-altitude mineral-rich but impoverished areas, native women have been assigned a secondary economic role for centuries. But now they are seeking to make headway in traditionally male domains, say researchers interviewed by IPS. 

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.

USA: Women have abortions whatever their religion

May 16, 2011

We are in the midst of very painful debates in Congress over family planning and abortion care. It’s time to catch our breath, step back and take a broader perspective. There’s an ongoing search for “common ground” on abortion, dreams of reaching an agreement that, once and for all, satisfies everyone involved. For those seeking this elusive “common ground,” a recently released Guttmacher Institute study holds the key.

Indigenous women shape women’s rights

June 3, 2011

The voices of indigenous women have repeatedly reminded national governments, human rights bodies and other national and international fora that their human rights as women need to be addressed as the rights of indigenous women.

From Guatemala: What God was thinking when he created women

June 9, 2011


A creation myth reminds survivors of violence of their capabilities and value.

When Ines Santizo was a young girl her mother woke her up on the middle of the night and told her to get out of the house: Her stepfather was coming home in a drunk and violent state. Before Ines could escape, her stepfather kicked her in the face and broke her nose. “My mother thought I was going to die, there was so much blood,” Ines said. “I swore right then that I would never allow a man to treat me like that again.”

United Kingdom: Muslim women fighting extremism

April 30, 2011


Tehmina Kazi wears modest western dress and believes in plurality and diversity within her faith, Islam. For her pains, she has been labelled a whore, admonished for not wearing the hijab and accused, inaccurately, of wearing short skirts by people she has never met, writing online.

Spain: Brotherhood includes women in Holy Week procession for first time

April 20, 2011


SEVILLE — Ana María Ruiz Copete, a sister in the oldest religious brotherhood of Seville, has been anticipating this Easter celebration for 30 years.

On Friday, the Brotherhood of Silence will include for the first time Ms. Ruiz Copete and 25 other women in one of the traditional processions of hooded penitents that have put the Andalusian capital at the center stage of Catholic celebrations of the Holy Week.

USA: Catholic Bishops' Attack on Book Concerns Scholars

April 11, 2011


Is God male? The Old Testament uses the masculine pronoun to describe him. Jesus refers to the divinity as Father. So does that make the creator a masculine force — and mean that men are more godlike than women?

"Trokosi" - Ritual Servitude & Sexual Abuse

March 19, 2008

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

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

February 28, 2008

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

"No Cultural Justifications for Violence Against Women"

March 10, 2008

Statement of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Stop Killing and Stoning Women!)

Are attitudes to rape beginning to change?

February 19, 2008

Egypt was scandalised last summer when an 11-year-old girl named Hend Farghali was allegedly raped by a 21-year-old man. Petrified, the girl did not tell anyone until she was five months pregnant.

States Fuel ‘honour killings’

January 31, 2008

CASABLANCA, Jan 31 (IPS) - State-directed violence, the refusal to give up the death penalty and the holding of public executions are some of the principal factors that are supporting the continuing resort to the age-old practice of 'honour killings', murder to cleanse a family name of shame.

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.

The High Price of Freedom

February 4, 2007

FOUR months after she ran away from home at the age of 15, Jasvinder Sanghera saw the sea for the first time. A granite sea that stretched out from the silver sands of Whitley Bay as far as the eye could see, and seemed somehow infinite in its possibilities. She had always felt the horizons of the world were more expansive than her family told her.

Middle east: the terrorized half of our society

February 22, 2008

The undeclared war on women continues to victimize women worldwide on a daily basis; the Middle East is no exception. Women in our region are amongst the most oppressed and terrorized in the world. The Islamic law upheld in many Middle Eastern countries has turned women into slaves with invisible chains.

مصر: هل بدأت مواقف الناس من الاغتصاب تتغير؟

February 19, 2008

هزت الشارع المصري فضيحة كبيرة الصيف الماضي عندما تعرضت طفلة تبلغ من العمر 11 عاماً تُدعى هند فرغلي لعملية اغتصاب من قبل رجل يبلغ من العمر 21 عاماً. ولم تطلع هذه الفتاة، التي انتابها رعب شديد مما حصل لها، أي شخص على الحادثة إلى أن أصبحت حاملاً في شهرها الخامس.