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News and Views: August 2011

UN: Due Diligence Obligation to Address Violence against Women

August 1, 2011

The 2013 annual report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms Rashida Manjoo, will be devoted to a study on the "Due Diligence Obligations to address Violence against Women." The Special Rapporteur is seeking information in preparation of a global study that analyses the interpretation and implementation of the due diligence obligation by States to be submitted to the Human Rights Council.

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.

Cameroon: Activists fight breast ironing tradition

July 27, 2011

(CNN)-- Every morning before school, nine-year-old Terisia Techu would undergo a painful procedure. Her mother would take a burning hot pestle straight out of a fire and use it to press her breasts.

With tears in her eyes as she recalls what it was like, Terisia tells CNN that one day the pestle was so hot, it burned her, leaving a mark. Now 18, she is still traumatized.

Libya: Women active force in revolution

August 19, 2011

Last year, during the holy month of Ramadan, I was in Tripoli researching the status of women in Libya's society, along with Journalist and Author Natalie Moore. We interviewed women across the spectrum: artists, housewives, teachers, government officials, university students and businesswomen. The stories were later aired on Chicago Public Radio.

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.

Iran: Parliament Further Delays Polygamy Bill

July 27, 2011

Parliament has once again delayed consideration of a controversial bill to amend the Family Protection Act, which would give Iranian men the right to multiple marriages without first proving adequate financial resources.

The Khaneh Mellat website cites MP Moussa Ghorbani as saying that the 23rd amendment to the Family Protection Act has been omitted from the parliamentary agenda and will be considered at a later date.

Saudi Arabia: Call for Family Courts

August 16, 2011

Family courts should be set up in the Kingdom and couples undergo pre-marital counseling to help counter increasing instances of domestic violence and help save marriages. This has been proposed by Dr. Waleed Al-Sadoon, an adviser at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call (Dawah) and Guidance. “This will help curtail family violence cases that have spread in our society.” Al-Sadoon also called for a center to be set up to deal with cases involving assault of male and female students. The center should be connected to schools, hospitals and the police, according to Al-Sadoon.

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.

Canada/USA: Investigation of Cross-Border Underage Polygamous Marriages

August 9, 2011

VANCOUVER — The RCMP is preparing to head to Texas to look for more than two dozen brides from Bountiful, B.C., who were allegedly sent across the border as teens to marry older men, including a polygamous leader now facing a life sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage girls.

The Mounties launched a new criminal investigation into Bountiful earlier this year after a constitutional case examining Canada's anti-polygamy law heard allegations of cross-border marriages in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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.

Somalia: UN Reports of Rape of Somali Women Fleeing Famine

August 11, 2011

The United Nations official leading the fight against sexual violence in times of conflict today voiced concern over reports that women and girls fleeing famine in Somalia were being raped or abducted and forced into marriage by bandits and other armed groups as they tried to reach refugee camps in Kenya.

Anti-blasphemy and defamation laws curtail free speech

July 28, 2011

Anti-blasphemy laws and defamation laws against public officials and Heads of State seriously restrict free speech.

That’s according to the Human Rights Committee, which has issued a commentary on freedom of expression.

Some countries, such as Pakistan, regard blasphemy towards holy personages or their religion, as a serious offence punishable by death.

Lebanon - Penal Code Progess on Honor Killings + Femicide Study

August 9, 2011

After decades of advocacy by the Lebanese women’s movement to abolish the provision of the so-called “honor killing” from the Lebanese law, the Lebanese Parliament voted, on the 4th of August 2011, for the removal of Article 562 from it penal code. Article 562 allowed for a person to benefit from mitigating excuses in the event that this person surprises his/her spouse, sister, or any relative in the act of adultery or unlawful copulation and proceeds to kill or injure one or both of the  participants without prior intent.

Australia’s Honour killings – In the end, they’re just as dead

July 11, 2011

James Ramage was released from prison last Friday, after only eight years following his conviction for strangling and bashing his wife, Julie, to death in their house and burying her in a shallow grave. The details of the case reveal a textbook case of a controlling, abusive spouse who killed his wife rather than let her leave.

Bride's Death in China Spurs Anti-Violence Bill

August 3, 2011

SHENZHEN, China (WOMENSENEWS)–When other brides would have been enjoying their honeymoons, Dong Shanshan was calling the police.

In the next 10 months, her calls became more and more desperate as her husband, Wang Guangyu, repeatedly beat her till she passed out and kidnapped her when she escaped. Her eight calls to the police did nothing. They declined to intervene in the affairs of a married couple.

It wasn't until Dong was lying on her deathbed with a belly swollen from hemorrhage that the police were ready to listen to her account. By then, it was too late.

NEPAL: Emerging from menstrual quarantine

August 3, 2011

MANGALSEN, 3 August 2011 (IRIN) - Every month, for one week,14-year-old Kamala Vishwarkarmas returns from school to sleep alone in a dark, windowless mud hut. She is forbidden from entering her family's house during her menstrual cycle for fear of what might happen.

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.

In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers

July 30, 2011

HERAT, Afghanistan — The two teenagers met inside an ice cream factory through darting glances before roll call, murmured hellos as supervisors looked away and, finally, a phone number folded up and tossed discreetly onto the workroom floor.

A car burned by a crowd during a riot that took place after the police rescued two teenagers from a group of men who had demanded that they be hanged or stoned for their relationship.

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.

Iranian women call for action on gang-rapes

August 1, 2011

As a human rights worker I am used to hearing shocking stories. However, a recent spate of gang-rapes and sexual assaults in Iran highlights increasing violence against women in a country where women’s rights are already under extreme pressure.

Most disturbing of all is the response of Iranian officials to a series of up to six separate, brutal attacks over the past few months.

One senior official even suggested that some of these crimes could have been avoided if the women targeted had adhered to Iran’s strict dress code, or hijab.

Tanzania - Villages Program to End Witchcraft Accusations

June 30, 2011

Imagine living in a community your whole life. Then suddenly, you are accused of witchcraft and told to leave. Or you are sent threatening letters saying you have bewitched a neighbour's child. Or you are attacked and slashed with a machete during the night.

Saudi Arabia to set minimum marriage age following surge in such weddings

July 25, 2011

Saudi Arabia intends to set a minimum age for girls allowed to marry under a new law intended to curb child marriages following a surge in such a phenomenon in the conservative Gulf Kingdom.

The ministry of justice is working on a regulation banning the marriage of female minors, most of which are forced by their fathers to marry much older men for dowry or other personal purposes, newspapers said.

Dubai - Divorce of Wives by E-Mail or SMS

July 3, 2011

Dubai recorded 555 divorce cases among its Muslim population in 2010 and 150 of them were done by e-mail of mobile phone text messages.

Iraqi Kurdistan Bans Female Genital Mutilation

August 4, 2011

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday welcomed a draft law banning female genital mutilation by the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Family Violence Bill approved June 21 by the autonomous government includes several provisions criminalising the practice in Kurdistan, HRW, said, adding that prevalence of FGM among girls and women in Kurdistan "is at least 40 percent."

UN report: Achievements of Muslim women's rights groups

July 25, 2011

The United Nations recently established UN Women to champion gender equality and empowerment of women. In its first major report “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice,” UN Women highlights both the global plight of women seeking justice and the amazing progress women have made in the past century.

We Condemn the Norway Carnage as a Terrorist Act

July 22, 2011

The Violence is Not Our Culture campaign (VNC Campaign) expresses its deepest sorrows to the people of Norway following the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo that left some 76 persons dead.  The VNC campaign condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist acts in Norway as well as the extremist, bigoted and racist ideology that underpins it. 

Rigid Coptic Divorce Law Sparks Brawl, Protests

August 4, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)--Despite the stigma attached to divorce, ending a marriage is still relatively easy for Muslim women in Egypt. All they have to do is file paperwork with a family court and the deed is done, as long as they're not seeking alimony or damages from their husbands.

For the country's millions of Orthodox Christians, or Copts, it's been nearly impossible since Pope Shenouda III, the head of one of the most conservative churches in Christianity, forbade divorce except in the case of conversion or adultery three years ago.

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.

Curbing Child Marriage in Azerbaijan

July 18, 2011

Two years after Azerbaijan’s parliament promised tougher laws to prevent underage marriage, it took a police raid to stop a man in his thirties marrying a 13-year-old. The officers swooped on a beauty salon in the city of Ganja where the marriage was due to take place last month.

The 13-year-old child bride said she was aware that women cannot legally marry until they are 17, but believed the man, 20 years her senior, was an unmissable catch. “My fiance is a serious guy. They say he’s a businessman,” she said. “My mother saw photographs of his house – it’s large and beautiful.”