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News and Views: March 2010

Rape Must Never Be Minimized as Part of Cultural Traditions - UN Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Rape must never be minimized as part of cultural traditions, UN envoy says

Sexual violence during conflicts is all too often downplayed and treated as part of local cultural traditions instead of being viewed as a war crime, a senior United Nations official has warned as she called for much greater international action to defeat the scourge.

Indonesia: Constitutional court upholds anti-pornography bill

By Karishma Vaswani
BBC News, Jakarta

Indonesia's constitutional court has upheld a controversial anti-pornography law, disappointing activists and cultural groups who had challenged it.

The court said that the law's definition of pornography was clear and did not violate the constitution.

The law was passed in 2008 and heavily backed by Islamic parties who helped to draft it.

But it was opposed by minority groups who say it goes against Indonesia's tradition of diversity and pluralism.

El Salvador: Violence Against Women & Girls: Significant Challenges - UN Special Rapporteur on VAW

GENEVA (22 March 2010) – The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, warned Saturday that the recommendations made by her predecessor six years ago* to the Salvadorian authorities “are still applicable and relevant.” Ms. Manjoo shared her views and recommendations in a public statement prepared at the end of a three day follow-up visit to El Salvador.

Yemen: Islamic Clerics Oppose Child Bride Ban - Government to Decide

Yemeni women hold up the Quran and Arabic placard reading "yes to the legal rights of the Muslim woman" as they take part in a protest outside the parliament in San'a, Sunday, March 21, 2010.

Ahmed Al-Haj, Hadeel Al-Shalchi
The Associated Press

SAN’A, YEMEN—Some of Yemen's most influential Islamic leaders, including one the U.S. says mentored Osama bin Laden, have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates.

USA - Many Women Are Target of Sexual Advances by Faith Leaders - Survey

One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009

The study, by Baylor University researchers, found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.

Malaysia: Religion Minister Rejects Child Marriage Reform

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - – Malaysia's religion minister on Tuesday defended Islamic laws that allow girls under 16 to marry, amid a controversy over two youngsters who were married off to middle-aged men.

The Vatican responds to the child sex abuse sweeping the Roman Catholic Church in Germany

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 12 - Pope Benedict XVI has approved measures to tackle the child sex abuse scandal sweeping the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, the leader of the country's bishops said after an audience with the pope Friday.

Msgr Robert Zollitsch told a press conference he had illustrated the moves to the German-born pope.

"He is favourable to our measures but we do not know whether they will be extended to other countries," Zollitsch said.

UN Independent Experts Articulate a Vision for Women's Rights: Post Beijing + 15

GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, together with the other UN independent experts mentioned herewith, called today for a new vision of women’s rights informed by the lessons learnt from the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Iran: Sadr dedicates Woman of Courage Award to imprisoned Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari

Shadi Sadr, a renowned Iranian human rights lawyer, women’s rights activist and member of Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) – International Solidarity Network Council, has been awarded the International Women of Courage Award 2010. Ms. Sadr was also the recipient of the Lech Walesa and the Dutch "Human Rights Tulip" awards in 2009.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Statement against domestic violence & "honour killing" - International Women's Day

The following is the statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, which is commemorated on 8 March 2010:

“It has been estimated that as many as one in three women across the world has been beaten, raped or otherwise abused during the course of her lifetime. And the most common source of such violence comes from within the family. Amongst the most extreme forms of abuse is what is known as ‘honour killing’.

Southern Sudan - Forced Marriage - Journalist's Personal Story

Christine Akuol, who is being trained by Internews to be a community radio journalist, is interested in reporting on women's issues and encouraging girls to stay in school.