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Gender and Sexual Norms

Not victims of tradition: Women speak out and advocate for girls facing abusive fates

May 2, 2012

The two women met for the first time last week at a sleek Georgetown hotel, where they were speakers at a glittering charity dinner. They shook hands and hugged across a vast gulf of culture, geography and faith: one a devout Muslim from West Africa with her hair carefully hidden under a tight scarf, the other a gregarious South Asian in a stylish sari and costume earrings.

Albania: Virginity pressures bring women to the operating table

April 29, 2012

Tirana, ALBANIA: A secret crisis for women is happening in Albania. It has to do with a women’s health, identity, chastity and marriage. According to confirmations by doctors at gynaecological clinics in Albania’s capital city of Tirana, up to three young women each day are undergoing a surgical procedure in Tirana: a simple 20-minute gynaecological intervention to become virgins again.

Bangladesh: Three Stories of Child Marriage

April 21, 2012

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 20% of girls becoming wives before their 15th birthday, even though 18 is the minimum age allowed by law. Why?

"It is the new kind of slavery," says Mirna Ming Ming Evora, who's the country director for the NGO Plan International.

"Here girls are a burden, they don't earn income in this culture."

Zainah Anwar: Arab Spring opens window of opportunity for women in Mideast

April 29, 2012
In many countries of the Middle East, women are wondering what the Arab Spring means for them. Some observers are concerned that the power vacuum will leave the door open for Islamist groups to take power and force changes opposing women’s rights.

 Zainah Anwar, a leading Malaysian social activist and intellectual, is not one of them. She is even excited about the prospects that the Arab Spring could have for women.

UK: Female British Muslims are finding their voice

April 28, 2012

Anyone who has worked in British Muslim communities will tell you the very notion of women's rights is still considered a taboo subject. Like many women who have spent years challenging gender-based discrimination, I know how much resistance there is to equality.

Why do they hate us? - Mona Eltahawy

April 23, 2012

In "Distant View of a Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to depriv

Saudi Arabia: Binding Women to Restrictions is about Control, not Religion

April 22, 2012

Binding women to restrictions. Many in Saudi Arabia point out, quoting scholars, that it is not an Islamic issue but one of control.

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.

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.

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