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News and Views: July 2010

USA: Landmark legislation addresses sexual violence against native women

July 23, 2010

Amnesty International has welcomed groundbreaking legislation in the USA, which addresses the disturbing rates of acts of sexual violence committed with impunity against American Indian and Alaska Native women.

The Tribal Law and Order Act, which was passed by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, aims to address public safety issues in Indian territories.

India: One wife, multiple husbands - a custom fades

July 16, 2010

Buddhi Devi, 70, was betrothed as a teenager to two brothers in a polyandrous marriage in Malang, India. The custom has not carried over to her five children.

Iran: List of those awaiting execution by stoning

July 17, 2010

By: Soheila Vahdati

As protests against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani arose amongst the public and western officials, the IRI embassy in London announced that the verdict would not be stoned to death. On the contrary, the Secretary of Judiciary Commission of Human Rights declared that death by stoning does exist in the law of the country and that it would be implemented.

Pakistani couple face death by stoning threat after conviction for adultery

July 18, 2010

A couple have been sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery by a tribal court in north-west Pakistan, with the woman's life now considered in grave danger.

The man involved, Zarkat Khan, has run away while the woman is in the custody of the court, according to residents in Kala Dhaka, a remote area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

UK: Damian Green says burka ban would be 'un-British'

July 18, 2010

Banning the wearing of the Islamic full veil in public would be "un-British", the immigration minister has said.

Damian Green told the Sunday Telegraph trying to pass such a law would be at odds with the UK's "tolerant and mutually respectful society".

It comes after Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced a private members' bill which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public.

Last week French MPs voted to ban the wearing of full face veils in public.

Spain: Parliament rejects burqa ban

July 20, 2010

Spanish lawmakers will debate Tuesday July 20, 2010, barring burqas in public, joining other European countries considering similar moves on the grounds that the body-covering garments are degrading to women, the leading opposition party said Sunday. Head-covering veils would not be included in a ban. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

MADRID — Spain's Parliament on Tuesday rejected a proposal to ban women from wearing in public places Islamic veils that reveal only the eyes.

Iran: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani ordered to name campaigners

July 22, 2010

has put fresh pressure on the woman it last month sentenced to death by stoning, demanding the names of those involved in the campaign for her release.

India: Prosecute Rampant ‘Honor’ Killings

July 18, 2010

(New York) July 18, 2010 -- The Indian government should urgently investigate and prosecute those responsible for the recent spurt in reported "honor" killings, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should also strengthen laws that protect against kinship, religion-based, and caste-based violence, and take appropriate action against local leaders who endorse or tolerate such crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

Study: In Brazil, 10 women killed daily in domestic violence

July 12, 2010

-- Every day, 10 women are killed in domestic violence cases in a country known for its glorious models, according to a new study released Sunday.

And it takes a high-profile incident -- such as the case against a Brazilian goalkeeper who is the prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of a woman -- to bring attention to the problem, said Women's Affairs Minister Nilcea Freire.

The government-sponsored study, called Map of Violence 2010, found that 41,532 women were murdered in Brazil between 1997 and 2007.

Petition against Vatican`s miscategorization of Women’s Rights Advocates with Child Abusers

July 16, 2010

On July 15, 2010, the Vatican issued a clarification of its canonical procedures for how dioceses should handle priests who sexually abuse children. As part of the statement, they have added that the “attempted ordination of a woman” has now been added to the list of “delicta graviora,” or most serious crimes in church law, alongside the sexual abuse of minors.

Catholics denounce Vatican putting female ordination on par with sex abuse

July 16, 2010

Women's groups describe Vatican's decision on female ordination as 'appalling'.

It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women's groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.

The change put the "offence" on a par with the sex abuse of minors.

Indonesia: 'Islamic' Police Jailed for Gang-Raping Woman

July 15, 2010

Banda Aceh.
An Indonesian court on Thursday jailed two Islamic policemen for gang-raping a young woman in custody, a case that has sparked outrage in the deeply religious province of Aceh.

Mohammed Nazir, 29, and Feri Agus, 28, were found guilty of raping a 20-year-old student in a police station in January after she was arrested with her boyfriend under local laws designed to enforce Islamic morals.

Update: Uncertain Role for Female Shariah Judges in Malaysia

July 14, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR — Women’s groups have applauded the recent appointment of two female judges to Islamic courts in Malaysia, but its significance is not yet clear: The new judges will have to wait a month before finding out whether they will be prevented from hearing certain cases.

Saudi Arabia: Issues of Marrying Abroad + Unmarried Saudi Women

July 10, 2010

JEDDAH - A summer programme is to be launched to educate young Saudis about the risks of entering into marriage abroad, according to Dr Tawfiq Al Suwailam, chairman of the Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasir).

Recently, the society warned Saudis against marrying foreigners.

Historic Vote Makes Argentina First Latin American Country To Grant Gays, Lesbians Equal Rights To Matrimony

July 15, 2010

(AP) Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America give gays and lesbians all the legal rights that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.

After a marathon debate that lasted more than 16 hours, the vote was 33 in favor, 27 against and 3 abstentions in Argentina's Senate. Since the lower house already approved the bill and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes the law of the land.

Ukrainian Muslim woman loses court battle for the right to be photographed in headscarf

July 6, 2010

The Kyiv District Administrative Court has rejected the suit brought on behalf of 25-year-old Susanna Ismailova from Bakhchysarai (the Crimea). She had asked the court to order the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] to allow her to have a passport photo taken in her hijab or Muslim headscarf.

The court deemed that Ms Ismailova’s rights were not restricted by the insistence that she be photographed without the scarf.

France votes to ban full-face veils

July 13, 2010

Amnesty International has condemned an overwhelming vote by the lower house of the French parliament to ban the wearing of full-face veils in public.

Three hundred and thirty six parliamentarians voted for the measure on Tuesday, with only one opposing it.

"A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's expert on discrimination in Europe.

Israel: Police Arrest Woman Leader for Praying with Torah at Western Wall

July 12, 2010

Jerusalem Police on Monday arrested the leader of the Women of the Wall group for carrying a Torah scroll while praying at the Western Wall, Army Radio reported.

Anat Hoffman, the women's prayer group leader, was arrested and taken in for questioning after she was caught holding a Torah scroll in violation of a High Court ruling prohibiting women from reading the Torah at the Western Wall.

Iran execution of woman temporarily halted, state media reports

July 12, 2010

(CNN) -- Iran's judiciary chief has temporarily halted the execution of a woman convicted of adultery, state media reported Sunday, citing a judicial official.


Revised Vatican norms to cover sex abuse and attempted women's ordination

July 9, 2010

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is preparing to update the 2001 norms that deal with priestly sex abuse of minors, in effect codifying practices that have been in place for several years.

At the same time, it will include the "attempted ordination of women" among the list of most serious crimes against church law, or "delicta graviora," sources said.

Sexual abuse of a minor by a priest was added to the classification of "delicta graviora" in 2001. At that time the Vatican established norms to govern the handling of such cases.

Malaysia: Islamic Courts Appoint First Female Judges

July 8, 2010

The decision by the Malaysian government to appoint women judges to its Islamic courts has been welcomed by Muslim feminist groups. 

The Sisters in Islam (SIS) group based in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, told the BBC it had been pressing for this for many years.

The government said the new judges were part of its sharia reform efforts.

In India, Castes, Honor and Killings Intertwine

July 9, 2010

KODERMA, India — When Nirupama Pathak left this remote mining region for graduate school in New Delhi, she seemed to be leaving the old India for the new. Her parents paid her tuition and did not resist when she wanted to choose her own career. But choosing a husband was another matter.

Iran stonings are a legal nightmare

July 9, 2010

 -- Imagine a woman dying under a rain of stones while buried in the ground to the top of her breasts. Imagine faceless figures throwing pebbles at her. Imagine her last thoughts, wishes and dreams. Imagine her hoping to magically survive this brutal punishment.

Imagine her children watching her bleed and moan as people throw stones with ignorance and cruelty. Imagine this nightmare taking place under the present-day laws of a country.

Women point to biases in Koranic exegesis

July 3, 2010

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the National Commission on Violence Against Women and Children are hopeful their newly launched book will change the views of the Indonesian Muslim community surrounding women and their rights.

Breaking the Silence: Religion listens to the voice of women victims of violence for the sake of justice, launced on June 30, is intended to serve as a reference for clerics, Islamic women's organizations and the government, in promoting progressive and just perspectives on the Islamic view of women.

Iran halts woman's death by stoning, but she could still face execution

July 9, 2010

The authorities in Iran have announced that a woman convicted of adultery will not be stoned to death.

But it is not clear whether they have lifted the death sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been in prison in Tabriz since 2006.

The 43-year-old had already been punished with flogging for an "illicit relationship" outside marriage when another court tried her for adultery.

There has been an international campaign to prevent her being stoned.

Norway condems imminent stoning in Iran

July 6, 2010

6 July, State Secretary Espen Barth Eide summoned the Iranian Ambassador, Seyed Hossein Rezvani, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with two death sentences in Iran.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been sentenced to death by stoning for infidelity, and Mohammad Reza Haddadi has been sentenced to death for an crime allegedly committed when he was a minor. The case of Majid Tavakkoli was also raised. Mr Tavakkoli has been imprisoned for his political activities as a student, and is serving his sentence in isolation.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has called on Iran to put an immediate stay to the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani by stoning

July 7, 2010

Speaking on Ms Mohammadi-Ashtiani's case, Alistair Burt said:

"I am deeply distressed by reports of the imminent execution of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani by stoning in Iran. Stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world. The continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates a blatant disregard for international human rights commitments which it has entered into freely, as well as the interests of its people.

Indonesia: Islamists take fight against Christians to Jakarta's suburbs

July 7, 2010

A banner with a picture of a young, bespectacled Christian man is draped in front of a mosque, a fiery noose around his neck and the words: "This man deserves the death penalty!" Churches are shut down. And an Islamic youth militia held its first day of training.

Though the events all occurred less than 15 kilometres from Indonesia's bustling capital, making headlines in local papers and dominating chats on social networking sites such as Facebook, they've sparked little public debate in the halls of power.

A Female Approach to Peacekeeping

March 5, 2010

MONROVIA, LIBERIA — When darkness comes to Congo Town, women in crisp uniforms take the streets, patrolling with Kalashnikov rifles and long, black hair tucked into baby-blue caps.

The brisk sergeant in command, Monia Gusain, matter of factly calls them “my men.” But the stern Indian women facing her are actually wives and mothers who wage peace for a living on the rutted dirt roads of Liberia.

Talk of Women’s Rights Divides Saudi Arabia

May 31, 2010

JIDDA — Roughly two years ago, Rowdha Yousef began to notice a disturbing trend: Saudi women like herself were beginning to organize campaigns for greater personal freedoms. Suddenly, there were women asking for the right to drive, to choose whether to wear a veil, and to take a job without a male relative’s permission, all using the Internet to collect signatures and organize meetings and all becoming, she felt, more voluble by the month.