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News and Views: June 2011

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.”

A Conversation With Saudi Women's Rights Campaigner Wajeha Al-Huwaider

June 8, 2011


Wajeha al-Huwaider is perhaps the best-known Saudi campaigner for women’s rights, human rights and democracy. She has protested energetically against the kingdom’s lack of formal laws (the Koran is it) and basic freedoms and in particular against the guardianship system, under which every female, from birth to death, needs the permission of a male relative to make decisions in all important areas of life—education, travel, marriage, employment, finances, even surgery. Katha Pollitt

Saudi Arabia: Shoura council favors women voting

June 7, 2011


The Shoura Council recommended to the government on Monday that it take necessary measures to allow Saudi women to vote in municipal elections under Islamic law.

The decision was taken unanimously by members of the council, which also discussed the annual report of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs during its 38th regular session, chaired by the Shoura Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh in Riyadh on Sunday.

Ethiopia: Girls fight child marriages

June 7, 2011

"I wanted to get an education but my parents were determined to marry me off," says Himanot Yehewala, an Ethiopian girl who was married five years ago at the age of 13.

UN: Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez reiterates FGM as a form of torture

June 1, 2011


Female Genital Mutilation: Progress-Realities-Challenges

Statement by Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

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

May 1, 2011


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

Those who follow the tradition will be punished.

United Arab Emirates: Cross-dressing women targeted in Dubai campaign

June 1, 2011


Police are launching a campaign against cross-dressing women. The Government says boyat - loosely translated as tomboys - are indulging in a dangerous practice. Officials from the police and the Community Development Authority said yesterday they would work together on plans to combat boyat.

"The security awareness administration at Dubai Police is currently planning the launch of campaigns targeting transsexuals, boyat, domestic violence and sexual harassment," police said in a statement.

Virginity tests: Misogyny and intimidation in Egypt

June 1, 2011


The Egyptian military's use of so-called virginity tests against female democracy protesters in Tahrir Square is part of a long tradition of using sexual harassment as a tool of social control.

The Hymen Obsession: Inequality & Harassment in Egypt

June 3, 2011

I am not writing this for the average Ali or Mahmoud on the streets of Cairo or Alexandria; rather this is written with the forward looking progressives of Egypt in mind; the internet savvy Egyptians of Twitter, Facebook & You Tube. Some ten years ago I went with my family to an Arab American convention in Washington DC, at the dinner table there was another Egyptian American family and their late teenage son & daughter who told us of their experience moving back to Egypt for a couple of years.

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

June 4, 2011


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

Sudan: Early Marriage Often Ends Girls' Education

June 1, 2011


UBA (AlertNet) - It took years of pleading before Jane Aketch persuaded her parents to send her to primary school in the dusty bush of South Sudan's Eastern Equatoria state.

Although her parents wanted her to learn how to read and write, like most of the communities in Aketch's home county of Magwi, they did not place particular importance in furthering a girl's education.

Saudi Arabia: Possible move to ban child brides

June 7, 2011

In a country where no laws protect children from marriage, efforts to make wedlock more female-friendly raises conservatives’ ire.

Malaysia: Launch of "the Obedient Wife Club"

June 3, 2011

A group of Malaysian Muslim women say they will fight divorce, domestic violence and other problems -- by appealing to wives to be more obedient, according to one of the organisers.

Interview: Amina Wadud - "The Koran Cannot Be Usurped"

September 14, 2009


Islam, gender equality and human rights are compatible – this is a basic conviction of Amina Wadud, author of several books about Islam and women. Martina Sabra interviewed the Islamic feminist at a recent conference about "Women power in Islam" in Germany.

Paradoxes of Iranian Society Spur on Heroic Women

June 1, 2011

Haleh Sahabi is the latest Iranian woman to die in political violence. On Wednesday, security forces attempting to cut short the Tehran funeral of her father scuffled with Sahabi, 55, who died of an apparent heart attack.

Rwanda: Rape, justice and privacy

June 2, 2011


KIGALI, 2 June 2011 (IRIN) - A new report has rekindled debate on whether the Rwandan government "betrayed" women who were raped during the 1994 genocide by letting community-based gacaca courts process their cases. 

FGM: It happens in Malaysia too

February 3, 2011


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

Egypt: Admission of forced 'virginity tests' must lead to justice

May 31, 2011


The Egyptian authorities must bring those responsible for ordering or conducting forced ‘virginity tests’ to justice, following a senior military figure’s admission that the army subjected female protesters to them, Amnesty International said today. 

A senior Egyptian general told CNN that women detained on 9 March at Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’, which the government has previously denied.