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News and Views: October 2012

India: Violence Against Women Surging in India

October 19, 2012

As gender-based violence across India becomes more frequent, and more savage, increasing numbers of women are speaking out against the cruelty.

On Oct. 6, a 14-year-old girl from the Sacha Khera village in the Jind district of northern India’s Haryana state set herself on fire after a brutal gang rape.

In her statement to the police, the girl claimed that two male youngsters dragged her into a house, while the sister-in-law of one of the culprits stood guard on the terrace.

Saudi Arabia: Come November Female Lawyers will be allowed to serve in court

October 17, 2012

A justice ministry directive published Tuesday by Kuwait’s Al-Waton Daily announcing that women lawyers in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to plead cases in court for the first time starting in November has been circulating in celebration in social media and regional newspapers.

Egypt: Battle Harassment on the Streets

September 20, 2012

Women's groups call on President Morsy to help combat increasing incidents of sexual harassment against women.

Egyptian woman protests in Cairo

Afghanistan: Dickinson College student works to end violence against women in Afghanistan

September 25, 2012

It’s hard to listen to Noorjahan Akbar.

Her English — which is one of the handful of languages she speaks fluently — is not the problem. The 21-year-old crafts eloquent sentences. Her voice rises and dips with emotion as she describes a passionate commitment to end physical abuse and economic oppression of her sister Afghanis.

No, it is the barriers Akbar confronts in seeking her goals that cause a listener to wince.

Her goals are simple to understand, at least in the Western world.

 

Lebanon: Media coverage of child sexual abuse is on the rise

September 30, 2012

Stories about child sexual abuse, and to a lesser degree sexual harassment of women in workplace, are finding their ways more and more into the Lebanese media.

The shocking story last June of the school teacher who was accused of sexually harassing 11 female students - aged between six and eight - in one of the most prestigious Catholic schools in Mount Lebanon, could have been the main driver behind the widening coverage on this subject.

In Lebanon, like in most Middle Eastern societies, sexual harassment is a taboo. 

Afghanistan: Life under the burqa inspired struggle for democracy

September 10, 2012

Living conditions have improved in Afghanistan, especially for women. But many wonder what will happen when NATO troops leave in 2014. That year, Afghans also vote for their next president - who just might be a woman.

Under the Taliban, she dreamed of being out in the streets of Kabul without a burqa.

Life then was reduced to "looking at the huge world from the small window - that's how life was for a woman," Fawzia Koofi, a leading Afghan women's rights champion and lawmaker told Deutsche Welle.

Somalia: Marginalising women in politics

August 24, 2012

Having 30 plus women in the Somali parliament is actually an enormous achievement which "shows that there are many women competent and willing to fill public office" [EPA]

Egypt: Woman bids for leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Islamist party

October 6, 2012

For the first time, a woman is running for the leadership of the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful Islamist group. Sabah el-Saqari says she wants to increase female participation in politics and even defends a woman's right to run for president, a stance her organization rejects.

But liberals who fear Islamist rule will set back women's rights say her candidacy is just an attempt by the Brotherhood to improve its image.

Afghanistan: Fear doesn't keep Afghan girls away from schools

September 18, 2012

Gaining an education is still difficult for women in Afghanistan. The greatest opponent is fear. Cases of death threats, poisoning, acid attacks, and bombings by extremists groups, such as the Taliban, still continue. It is enough that any person would want to remain home. Threats from home are also as affective in keeping girls from school. However, there has been a recent change that shows women fighting to get their education.

Egypt: Constitution draft article raises fears for women's rights

September 23, 2012

Following publication of Article 36 of the 'Rights and Duties' section of Egypt's draft constitution, a number of political parties, coalitions and public figures have issued a joint statement expressing their "deep concern" for the draft article's wording, which, they say, could compromise women's historical rights.

Libya: Libyans 'exploiting Syrian women' with marriage offers

September 20, 2012

Hard living conditions for Syrian refugees in Libya are forcing some families to marry off their daughters to wealthy local men. Syrians say Libyans often knock at their doors asking for especially underage girls, as BBC Arabic's Ahmed Maher reports from Benghazi.

Ahmed Atrash is among hundreds of Syrian refugees in the country's second largest city, Benghazi. He and his family have fled the raging war back home.

Egypt: Women Insist on their Rights

September 21, 2012

Egypt's women played a crucial role in the country's 'Arab Spring' revolution. But, in the post-Mubarak era, they are finding that they have to keep fighting for their rights.

Palestine: World's youngest mayor goes back to school

September 20, 2012

Othman said that the regular mayor was more than willing to have her team take over. "I asked the mayor if I could get a feel for his work for a week, and he said 'yes'," Othman said. "He even told me I should do it for two months to really understand the nuances of institutional work."For the past week, Bashaer Othman has been busy meeting with parliamentarians in Jakarta, Indonesia, pushing them to enact projects to incorporate young people into civic life.

Global: Women's participation in peace - how does it compare?

September 20, 2012

Over the past 25 years only one in 40 peace treaty signatories have been women. A new report shows women are significantly missing from peace negotiations. How do countries compare for female participation?
• Get the data
• More data journalism and data visualisations from the Guardian

Global: Women are the primary education financers for their families

September 10, 2012

"Educate a girl, and you educate a village," an African proverb goes, illustrating the ripple effect of educating women and the role that women play in making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Since its inception in 1996, Eduloan has granted over 620,000 loans. 52% of these have been awarded to women. What is notably interesting is that there has been a sharp increase over the last three years. When reviewing this period women account for 62% of the total base, either studying themselves or sponsoring a dependent. 

India: Moves to protect women from sexual harassment at work

September 5, 2012

India moved one step closer to protecting millions of its working women from sexual harassment by passing a new bill to tackle unwelcome behaviour such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and sexual innuendoes made at work.

The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed by the lower house of parliament on Monday and aims to ensure a safe environment for women working in both the public and private sector. The bill still has to be passed by the upper house of parliament, a move that is expected in the coming months.

Afghanistan: Teen Girl Flogged for Affair

September 16, 2012

The girl, who has been named only as Sabera, is in poor health since the incident on September 9 in Jaguri district of Ghazni province, said the head of the provincial women's affairs department, Shukuria Wali.

The Taliban have strongholds in Ghazni, but Jaguri is under government control and is dominated by ethnic Hazaras, who are generally considered moderate by Afghan standards and do not have strict tribal codes observed by Pashtuns, who dominate the ranks of the Islamist militia.

Pakistan: College student's website helps low-income in Pakistan

September 18, 2012

A local college student was inspired to create a website to raise funds for Pakistani women in need. For this Mom's Everyday Money segment, we'll uncover the philanthropic side of e-commerce websites.

"We saw poverty while we were in Pakistan and it became kind of like the norm for us," said Sameen Wajid, founder of Jashna Design.

Sisters Sameen and Zareen Wajid didn't fully realize the state of their home country until after they came to the U.S. 15 years ago.

Afghanistan: Free Women Jailed for ‘Running Away’

September 18, 2012

High-level Afghan government officials have for the first time publicly confirmed that it is not a criminal offense for women and girls to “run away” from home, Human Rights Watch said today. The officials also confirmed fleeing violence or running away was not a basis for women’s detention or prosecution.

Palestine: All-female party to run in Palestinian elections

September 16, 2012

A new group running for municipal elections in Hebron is offering residents an alternative to politics as usual in the conservative West Bank city: Women at the helm, instead of men. 

The all-female list, which is called “By Participating, We Can,” is gearing up for next month’s vote with a campaign that aims both to win at the polls and to convince voters that women can lead just as well as men. 

India: Husbands may have to pay salaries to wives

September 10, 2012

The Indian government is mulling a proposal that would make it mandatory for men to share a percentage of their monthly income with wives who stay at home to do household chores and look after the children, the Indian Express reported on Monday.

Afghanistan: The freedom of one internet cafe

September 7, 2012

Entering this tucked-away venue in the capital, male visitors cannot help feeling a sense of trepidation. Its name, Sahar Gul, conjures up thoughts of one of the country’s worst recorded cases of domestic violence, the imprisonment and torture of a 15-year-old Afghan girl by her husband and in-laws for refusing to work as a prostitute. Thankfully she survived, and stiff prison sentences were handed down to her tormentors.

Syria: International inaction provokes Syrian women to hunger strike

October 15, 2012

Coming out of the Sadat Metro station exit to the Arab League building, you will witness an interesting scene; the Syrian Revolution tent. With its signs, labels, flags and horrifying pictures of the dead and injured children, you would think that people would be packed inside inquiring about how to help the situation in Syria. Shockingly, the tent is completely empty except for three young men sitting ready for someone inquisitive enough to ask about anything.

Egypt: The feminine critique

September 12, 2012

For the first time in Egyptian history, a female anchor on state television has covered her hair with a head scarf. Under the Mubarak regime, women were forbidden to wear a head scarf on state television in order to depict a more modern appearance; however, current President Mohammed Morsi, who is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, has lifted the ban. Thus, women are now allowed to wear a head scarf on state television if they chose to do so.

Libya: The Fight For Women’s Rights Goes On

September 4, 2012

Following the Libyan revolution, in which women played a crucial part, and the participation of large numbers of female citizens in the July 2012 elections, Libyan women are now looking forward to a partnership and full equality with their male counterparts."Libyan women were instrumental in the country choosing a liberal and progressive government in the recent elections as many of them voted for the winning National Forces Alliance (NFA) of Mahmoud Jibril," said Nadine Nasrat, from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Maldives: Teenager Faces Lashing for Pre-Marital Sex

September 4, 2012

The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained that she has had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.

The man was given 10 years in jail during a court hearing in the remote Raa atoll on Sunday.

A court official said the girl, whose identity was not revealed, could refuse the public flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest under local laws.

Israel: Israeli Women Fight to Be Seen and Heard

September 6, 2012

Some of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish women say they have a problem: their community, which makes up about 10 percent of the Israeli population, wants to pretend they don't exist. So Kolech, the first Orthodox Jewish feminist organization in Israel, is filing Israel's first-ever gender segregation class-action lawsuit. Mazel!

Somalia: a call for sisterhood

September 4, 2012

In the run up to next week's Presidential election in Somalia, Zainab M. Hassan writes an open letter to new women parliamentarians asking them to demonstrate collective leadership in their choice of someone to lead a ruined country.

Egypt's sexual harassment of women 'epidemic'

October 14, 2012

Campaigners in Egypt say the problem of sexual harassment is reaching epidemic proportions, with a rise in such incidents over the past three months. For many Egyptian women, sexual harassment - which sometimes turns into violent mob-style attacks - is a daily fact of life, reports the BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo.

Last winter, an Egyptian woman was assaulted by a crowd of men in the city of Alexandria.

Findings from India: Low self-esteem leaves girls vulnerable to child marriage

October 10, 2012

Dr Ashok Dyalchand works at the Institute of Health Management, Pachod (IHMP) in India. IHMP has found that girls with low self-esteem are particularly vulnerable to child marriage and has been instrumental in developing new and creative ways to identify and supporting at risk children.

Jamaica: Programmes to address gender-based stereotypes

September 3, 2012

ALTHOUGH girls are entering fields that were traditionally dominated by men, the government said it will increase its efforts to promote the diversification of educational choices for girls and boys.

Egypt: Women Human Rights Defenders Concept Papers

June 27, 2012

The Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) program is issuing a series of concept papers that aim to introduce the notion of WHRDs: who they are, what they do, and why they should be considered as a distinct group of human rights defenders. The categories of WHRDs analyzed in the concept papers include: vocational women (doctors, nurses, and teachers); students; political candidates; civil society activists; protesters; and workers (industrial and agrarian sectors).

Egypt: The shape of the second republic

August 21, 2012

Most Egyptians will come to remember 13 August 2012 as more than just another long hot day of the holy month of Ramadan. Just a few hours before sunset when millions waited eagerly to break their fast, news broke out of a major development in the ongoing power struggle between two main power houses: the generals representing the country's military past, and the political faction seeking to control its future.

Canada: Forced marriage, Is it a crime? A legal issue dealt with abroad now emerges in Canada

August 31, 2012

Shafilea Ahmed drank bleach after her parents drugged her and dragged her onto a plane to Pakistan where they planned to marry her to a much older man.

The 17-year-old’s desperate ploy succeeded in getting her sent back home to Britain where she spent eight weeks in hospital. Tragically, it didn’t save her life: Seven months later Shafilea was dead, suffocated by her parents, who forced a plastic bag down her throat in front of her siblings as a warning against them acquiring their sister’s “western” habits.

Saudi Arabia: Breakthrough feature film "Wadjda" narrates the story of a 10 year old girl breaking social barriers

October 11, 2012

“Wadjda” is not only one of the first films to come out of Saudi Arabia, even more significantly it is the first feature written and directed by a Saudi Arabian woman, the talented Haifaa Al Mansour.
Saudi Arabia’s first female director has made her debut at the Venice film festival, exploring the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh.

UN: First International Day of the Girl Child - 11 October 2012

October 11, 2012
Forced Child Marriage, Slavery Like Reality in Every Region of the World
Joint Statement* by a group of UN human rights experts to mark the first International Day of the Girl Child, Thursday 11 October 2012

 

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai's surgery successful

October 11, 2012

CNN Interview with Malala Yousafzai in 2011

Surgeons in Pakistan say they have removed a bullet from a 14-year-old girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in the Swat Valley.

Malala Yousafzai, a campaigner for girls' rights, is reported to be in a stable condition after the operation.

Pakistan: Malala, militante de 14 ans, "dans un état critique" après une attaque des talibans

October 9, 2012

Une Pakistanaise de 14 ans connue pour son combat contre les talibans et pour le droit des femmes à l'éducation a survécu miraculeusement mardi 9 octobre à une tentative d'assassinat perpétrée par les rebelles à la sortie de son école dans le nord-ouest du pays.

Pakistan: Malala Yousafzai, 14 year old activist on girls education, shot in Swat

October 9, 2012

Gunmen have wounded a 14-year-old rights activist who has campaigned for girls' education in the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora, the region's main town.

She came to public attention in 2009 by writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban militants who had taken control of the valley.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the BBC they carried out the attack.

Returning to school after escaping child marriage

October 10, 2012

In recent years, the international community has begun to place increased attention on girls’ education generating a better understanding of the underlying causes and consequences of the disparities, and an international consensus on the need to address the issue. Much has been done to create awareness and demonstrate that change is not only necessary but also possible.

Palestine: World's youngest mayor goes back to school

September 20, 2012

Fifteen-year-old Palestinian girl served as mayor of Allar in West Bank after town leaders gave their jobs to teenagers.

Egypt: New hotline to report sexual harassment

September 18, 2012

Egypt's National Council for Women announced on Tuesday a new hotline dedicated to receiving reports of sexual harassment: 08008883888.

The council issued a statement on their Facebook page stating that they are working with the interior ministry to swiftly reinforce the sexual harassment law on thugs and offenders.

Ambassador Mervat Talawy, head of the council, stressed on the importance of reinforcing the law, considering the council a representation of all women in Egypt and pointing to its keenness to preserve the dignity of women.

Congolese women stitching community back together

September 5, 2012

As documented in a new report from the Enough Project, which ranks electronics firms on their progress in cleaning up their supply chains of conflict minerals, there are glimmers of hope for eastern Congo despite ongoing violence there, which is driven partly by conflict minerals.

South Africa: Women are the primary education financers for their families

September 10, 2012

"Educate a girl, and you educate a village," an African proverb goes, illustrating the ripple effect of educating women and the role that women play in making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Israel: Symptom of crisis? Religion and Women's Rights

September 10, 2012

Women are being increasingly targeted as the accommodation between religious and secular Israelis crumbles, heralding a profound systemic crisis in Israeli society, Nira Yuval-Davis tells Deniz Kandiyoti.

Deniz Kandiyoti:  Through sporadic news items concerning ultra-orthodox excesses in Israel, we get the sense of a fundamental shift in the role of religion in public life. How would you evaluate the growing public role of religion?

India: Moves to protect women from sexual harassment at work

September 5, 2012

New Delhi: India moved one step closer to protecting millions of its working women from sexual harassment by passing a new bill to tackle unwelcome behaviour such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and sexual innuendoes made at work.

Palestine: All-female party to run in elections

September 16, 2012

A new group running for municipal elections in Hebron is offering residents an alternative to politics as usual in the conservative West Bank city: Women at the helm, instead of men.

The all-female list, which is called “By Participating, We Can,” is gearing up for next month’s vote with a campaign that aims both to win at the polls and to convince voters that women can lead just as well as men.

India: Husbands May Have to Pay Salary to Wives

September 10, 2012

NEW DELHI – The Indian government is mulling a proposal that would make it mandatory for men to share a percentage of their monthly income with wives who stay at home to do household chores and look after the children, the Indian Express reported on Monday.

Afghanistan: A New Powerpoint

September 7, 2012

Bearing the name of Sahar Gul, a young girl subjected to unspeakable horrors by her own relatives, a café in Kabul might not be expected to be a place of hope and calm. Yet Afghanistan’s first women-only internet centre launches a new forum for empowerment of half the population.