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News and Views: May 2011

Egypt: General admits 'virginity tests' conducted on protesters

May 31, 2011

Cairo (CNN) -- A senior Egyptian general admits that "virginity checks" were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

Iran: Incarcerated Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh - "I Object to these Sentences, With or Without a License to Practice the Law"

May 29, 2011

Feminist School: At the request of the judicial authorities, Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned from Evin prison today May 29th, 2011 to attend a court hearing at the Iranian Bar Association concerning the revocation of her license to practice the law. According to reports received by the Feminist School, however, her court hearing was rescheduled.

While awaiting her court hearing, Sotoudeh wrote a letter to her husband Reza Khandan. The content of Sotoudeh’s letter is as follows:My dear Reza,

United States: Muslim clerics sign up for evolution

May 28, 2011

The Imam Letter, launched this week in the US, is the latest challenge to Creationists of the three Abrahamic religions who reject evolution in favour of Creationism.

Creationism is the religious belief that all species were created in exactly the form they appear today.

Jessica Horn: Every act of violence is a choice

May 26, 2011

“Sometimes we need to name the abnormal as abnormal, and take action to defend what is normal!” - Shereen Essof. Jessica Horn reports at the close of the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, 'Women Forging a New Security: ending sexual violence in conflict'.

Pakistan: Women lose livelihood centres to militants

May 28, 2011


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

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

Pakistan: Young Women Fight Extremism in Rural Areas

May 30, 2011


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

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

Afghanistan: Taliban kills head of girls school

May 25, 2011


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

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

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

An Eye for an Eye: Iran's Blinding Justice System

May 15, 2011


Iran's judiciary has postponed the blinding of a man as punishment for throwing acid in the face of a young woman in 2004, after she rejected his offer of marriage. The delay came in the face of mounting outcry from both inside Iran and the West over the sentence, which is permissible under qesas, a principle of Islamic law allowing victims analogous retribution for violent crimes.

Q&A: "Clergy sexual abuse of women is a violent abuse of power"

May 15, 2011


Cléo Fatoorehchi interviews DR. VALLI BATCHELOR of the World Student Christian Federation Book Project.

Egypt: Hunting down the right to love

May 17, 2011


CAIRO, May 17, 2011 (IPS) - Abeer Fakhry, a young Christian woman, had only wanted to live with a man who would love and respect her, and not with her abusive husband. But within months of trying to escape her marriage, and her faith, Abeer finds herself chased by her family, by the Orthodox Christian Church, by the fundamentalist Islamic Salafi Group and, lately, by Egypt’s top army generals.

"I just wanted to be happy," said Abeer, who is now known by her first name, in a Youtube video that made her story famous in this country. 

Egypt: Secularists unite to take on Islamists

May 21, 2011


CAIRO, May 21, 2011 (IPS) - Liberal and secular Egyptians at the core of mass protests that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak are scrambling to form a unified political front ahead of critical parliamentary elections in which they will face the better-organised Islamists.

Kyrgyzstan: Bride Kidnapping - A Tradition Or A Crime?

May 21, 2011


Some 200 people took to the streets in a northern Kyrgyz province earlier this week to protest the longstanding practice of bride kidnapping. 

Saudi Arabia: Female Saudi doctor appeals to top court for right to choose a husband

May 25, 2011


Samia fled to a women's shelter rather than be forced by her male relatives to marry a less educated cousin. Her case illustrates women's growing fight against Saudi Arabia's guardianship system.

Samia is a surgeon who, as she says, is "supposed to be a grandma by now."

Saudi Arabia: Arrest of Woman Leading Right-to-Drive Campaign

May 23, 2011


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The government of Saudi Arabia moved swiftly to extinguish a budding protest movement of women claiming the right to drive, a campaign inspired by uprisings across the Arab world demanding new freedoms but at risk Monday of foundering.

Manal al-Sharif, 32, one of the campaign organizers, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Dammam for up to five days on charges of disturbing public order and inciting public opinion by twice driving in a bid to press her cause, said her lawyer, Adnan al-Saleh.

Saudi Arabia: Free Woman Who Dared to Drive

May 23, 2011


(Beirut) - King Abdullah should immediately order the release of Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested on the morning of May 22, 2011, after she defied the kingdom's de facto ban on driving by women, Human Rights Watch said today.

She had  posted a video on YouTube showing herself behind the wheel and describing the inconveniences not being able to drive causes women. Prosecutors charged al-Sharif with besmirching the kingdom's reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion, according to Saudi press reports. King Abdullah should lift the de facto ban, Human Rights Watch said.

Child Marriage: Barrier to girls' empowerment

May 23, 2011


An adolescent girl living in poverty could be the most powerful person in the world. If she is reached early enough, she can accelerate economies, arrest major global health issues and break cycles of poverty.

Indonesia: Government must repeal caning bylaws in Aceh

May 22, 2011


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

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

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

Yemen: Child brides, Too young to wed

May 24, 2011


Because the wedding was illegal and a secret, except to the invited guests, and because marriage rites in Rajasthan are often conducted late at night, it was well into the afternoon before the three girl brides in this dry farm settlement in the north of India began to prepare themselves for their sacred vows. They squatted side by side on the dirt, a crowd of village women holding sari cloth around them as a makeshift curtain, and poured soapy water from a metal pan over their heads.

Australia: A push for sharia

May 17, 2011


THE nation's peak Muslim group is using the Gillard government's re-embracing of multiculturalism to push for the introduction of sharia in Australia, but it says it would be a more moderate variety of Islamic law that fits with Australian values.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the government's new multiculturalism policy, argues that Muslims should enjoy "legal pluralism".

UN Women: Bachelet says ending pandemic violence against women is priority

May 15, 2011


UN Women's Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, who was formerly Chile's president, has told Today's Zaman for Monday Talk that ending pandemic violence against women is one the top priorities of the United Nations, which created UN Women in September of last year.

“It is pandemic all over the world; it is not only in the less developed countries. We have to ensure that women can live free of violence,” said Bachelet, who was appointed the first head of UN Women by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 14, 2010, and took office on Sept.19.

Housemaids: The gap between our conduct and Islamic principles

May 17, 2011


Islam has advocated sublime human conduct.  
It came to polish the behavior of people, whether individuals or groups, and to ensure their human rights in the best possible manner and form of human conduct. It did not stop there. It also called for a better treatment of animals.

In short, Islam is the religion of integrity and conclusiveness. In Surah Maedah, Allah says: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”

Iran: Visualising Power, Documenting Resistance - an interview with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh

May 15, 2011

 
Persistently harrassed by the government, Iranian film maker Mahboubeh Abbasgolizadeh has found her mode of resistance in her craft. Her films have not only dealt with women who are oppressed by a fundamentalist regime. Behind the otherwise simple plots are real relations of power, that tells us much about Iran. 

mahboubeh

Pakistan: Modern communication tools and young women

February 28, 2011


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

Saudi Arabia: Women try to 'buy' their freedom to work

May 12, 2011


ABHA: Saudi workingwomen have embarked on new ways to win the consent of their male legal guardians or husbands to  take a job. This is so in jobs where there are still strong taboos about women working in them.

Many Saudi workingwomen set aside a portion of their monthly income, which enables them to win the consent of their male guardians as well as to enjoy full freedom to do job, according to a report in Al-Riyadh Arabic daily.

Europe: New Council of Europe convention to prevent and combat violence against women

May 11, 2011


Istanbul, 11.05.2011 - The Council of Europe’s new Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS n° 210) has been passed and also open to accession by non-European countries and by the European Union. 

Egypt: Revolution Women March Against Religious Strife

May 10, 2011


Arabic - Below

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

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

May 10, 2011


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

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

May 10, 2011


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

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

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

Uganda: Gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera granted Martin Ennals award

May 4, 2011


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

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

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

Zambia: Young Women, Harmful Cultural Practices

December 2, 2010

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

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

May 17, 2011


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

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.

Bangladesh: Women Defy Islamic Clergy

April 28, 2011


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

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