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News and Views: April 2012

Culture versus Rights Dualism: a myth or a reality?

April 25, 2012

Women’s human rights discourse and movements have become entangled within a culture-versus-rights dualism. Yakin Ertürk argues that this is a false dualism which serves both private patriarchy and public patriarchy of neo-liberal globalisation. Yakin Ertürk serves on the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture ↑ .She was the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, from 2003 -2009, and until recently Professor of Sociology at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Malaysia: Kedah’s law on fatwas un-Islamic, says Perlis mufti

April 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR — Kedah’s new legislative provision which bans the challenge of religious edicts (fatwa) in the courts goes against Islamic principles, Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya has said.

The religious scholar asked if Kedah PAS-led administration wanted to become a theocratic government instead of forming Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) often-promoted progressive, welfare state.

“The new fatwa enactment shows they are actually heading towards theocracy and intend on imposing beliefs (on others),” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“This is against Islam,” he said.

Malaysia: Kedah’s new fatwa ruling equates man’s word to God

April 20, 2012

APRIL 20 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is shocked and deeply concerned by media reports on Kedah’s new fatwa ruling. The amendments to the Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 now bar a fatwa from being “challenged, appealed, reviewed, denied or questioned in any civil court or syariah court.”

Crisis in Mali: Fundamentalism, Women's Rights, and Cultural Resistance

April 15, 2012

In conversation with Jessica Horn, a leading Malian women's rights activist identifies the roots of the crisis in Mali, and the opportunistic use of the crisis by Malian and international Islamic fundamentalists to gain a popular foothold in the north of the country.

Bahrain: Freedom Not Death for Defender Al-Khawaja!

April 15, 2012

The network Secularism Is A Women’s Issue demands the immediate release of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, detained and tortured, sentenced to life imprisonment in total disregard of his fundamental right to freedom of expression, on hunger strike for more than two months, and now risking death. His death in detention would be an assassination which the authorities of Bahrain would be entirely responsible for.

USA: The marginalized pay for the church's ideological battles

April 11, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.

Philippines: Controversy after woman in shorts poses in front of cross

April 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) A year after an artist drew flak for adding phallic symbols to religious images, a young woman has become a subject of controversy for posing in front of a cross while wearing skimpy clothes.

Internet users from the Philippines, a largely Catholic country, called the woman “a disgrace” for “disrespecting their religion” after seeing the photo, which became viral on social networking sites over the weekend.

The Holy Week celebrations, called by bishops as “the climax of the faith celebration of the church,” concluded yesterday, Easter Sunday.

Join VNC for 2 events April 21st at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey

April 8, 2012

Join VNC for two events on 21 April 2012, at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. We'll be hosting a talk show on "The Nexus between Culture, Gender and Other Identities: Resisting Discrimination and Reclaiming Space", as well as a workshop on "Visioning Cultures Free from Violence: Transnational Advocacy and Communications using Visual Arts and Digital Media". Full details below.

Remembering Fakhra Yunus

March 29, 2012

Yesterday, approximately a month after the documentary Saving Face won an Oscar for best short film, a victim of an acid attack, Fakhra Yunus committed suicide. Saving Face explored acid attacks, and how they affect women across the world, including in Pakistan.

Nepal: Increase in Witchcraft Accussations and Abuse

April 4, 2012

In Nepali society, currently, the Violence Against Women, particularly at the name of custom is increasing dramatically. About a month ago, a woman killed was accused of witchcraft in Chitwan. That case hasn't received justice yet.

In this shocking alleged witchcraft scenario, another woman was beaten seriously and her both eyes were broken.

Sudan: Rainbow Sudan shines a light on gay and lesbian life in a country where homosexuality is still punishable by death

March 30, 2012

A new online lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender magazine in Sudan, north Africa, is a first for the country where homosexuality is still punished by death and an opportunity for gay people to start discussing their lives and hopes for the future.

Rainbow Sudan published articles discussing topics including being gay in Sudan, the history of homosexuality in the country, Islam and sexuality, being lesbian and Muslim, poetry and more.

Papua New Guinea: Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women calls for accountability for gender violence

March 26, 2012

PORT MORESBY (26 March 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo called* on the Government of Papua New Guinea to reinforce legal and support mechanisms in its fight to eradicate violence against women. At the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country, Ms. Manjoo also urged the authorities to address some of the traditional practices that are harmful to women.

Pakistan: Pro-women laws take hold

March 26, 2012

Women in Pakistan have faced formidable challenges in their efforts to achieve gender equality and address gender-based violence in their country, with particular problems posed by elements among customary norms and practices.

Yet throughout the past few years, breakthroughs in pro-women legislation have shown that both the efforts of Pakistan’s government, and the advocacy of groups working toward women’s empowerment in the country, are taking effect.

UK: Violence against women is an issue for men too

March 26, 2012

For too long women have stood alone. When it comes to violence against women, too many of us still think it's "just" a women's issue. In particular, it is about time MPs took this seriously. Here's why.

Sexual and physical violence at the hands of a man affects a staggering 45% of women in England and Wales sometime in their lives. That's one-quarter of British voters. Voters. People who give our politicians their jobs.