Human Rights and Cultural Diversity - UN Experts Statement
The following statement has been issued by a group of UN human rights experts to mark World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, 21 May 2010
Saudi Arabia: Women’s Rights Gain Focus
After years of stymied efforts, the reform focus in Saudi Arabia is centering on women’s rights. A recent survey by the Researchers Center for Women’s Studies in Riyadh () examining Saudi newspapers and websites showed that from mid January to mid February 2010 some 40 percent of articles in print media and 58 percent of articles on websites treated women’s issues. Empowering women has become a priority for local activists and various initiatives are springing up to secure their basic rights. The most recent and ambitious of these efforts is a national campaign, driven by local actors, calling for women’s participation in municipal elections scheduled for autumn 2011.
Islam and Feminism: Interpretations for Gender Justice
Islam and feminism have had a troubled relationship. Over the last two decades, scholars and activists have questioned the western credentials of feminism and claimed justice as a purpose and possibility that can be captured via religious routes. Religion provides women with an ethical framework and a moral foundation that recognizes their rights as individuals and as a collective, albeit redefining equality in the process. The mosque movement in Egypt has empowered women to find dignity, companionship and comfort through piety and conformity to a religious ideal and challenge the less-than-perfect world around them. Moreover by engaging with religion, Muslim women are able to redefine the tenets that have endowed Islam with an unnecessary bias for men; one which feminist scholars of Islam are certain is antithetical to the spirit and philosophy of our religion.
Egypt using defamation laws to prosecute dissenting voices
Amnesty International has criticized the Egyptian authorities' use of criminal defamation charges to silence and harass activists, after the trial of two leading human rights defenders and a prominent blogger started on Saturday.
A court in Cairo heard the case of the three men on charges of "defamation", "the use of threats" and "misuse of communication tools", after allegations of extortion were made by a judge in 2007.
Gamal Eid, Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad, founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) both appeared before the Khalifa Court of Misdemeanour on Saturday.
Pakistan: Freedom of Expression on Internet Must be Respected
Decisions by a Pakistani High Court to ban numerous international websites and services violate international human rights law.
The Lahore High Court on 19 May ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block the social network website Facebook and hundreds of other pages in response to a Facebook user calling for an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”. The court later ordered the blocking of YouTube for the same reason. The ban has resulted in numerous other websites also being affected, including Flickr, Wikipedia, Google, Twitter, some parts of the BBC, and accessing the internet through the Blackberry mobile service. The Express Tribune has reported that the total number of blocked websites has reached 1,000.
Participants of a media forum held yesterday in Karachi to discuss the ban were attacked by protesters accusing the organisers of blasphemy.
Peru: Women are victims of male machismo at home & in court
LIMA – Preys of the machismo culture and domestic violence at home, Peruvian women also have to deal with a justice system that often justifies the behavior of the aggressor.
Last year – during which there was a 40-percent increase in cases of domestic violence compared with 2005 – there were 139 women slain and 64 injured, while in the first three months of this year, 29 women were murdered and attempts were made to kill another 17, according to figures from the Ministry of Women.
Women's Right to Have Rights - Resisting Fundamentalist Orders
While fundamentalist movements may vary according to the global context in which they operate, for women this diversity is outweighed by the core characteristics, strategies and impacts that they share.
In a on April 16, 2010, a senior Iranian cleric, Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, declared a need for a “general repentance,” warning of the “prevalence of degeneracy” in the country. He pointed to the real consequences of immodesty and promiscuity among women, noting that “many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes.”
Sediqi’s comments follow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s forecast that Tehran will be the site of an imminent and devastating quake. In the last ten years, earthquakes in Iran have claimed tens of thousands of lives, and the country rests upon some of the most earthquake-prone land in the world. “What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” Sediqi asked. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes.”
Nepal school expels 29 girls based on outlawed “chhaupadi” custom
Nepal school expels 29 girls for 'being accursed'
Kathmandu: Less than a week after a religious leader in Iran said earthquakes were caused by women who were promiscuous and wore revealing clothes, a school in Nepal's west has expelled 29 girls for 'angering the gods' as they had begun to menstruate, a report said.
FPI radicals remain free after assault
Three days after the unruly Islam Defenders Front (FPI) stormed a human rights training workshop for transgender individuals in Depok, West Java, police seem reluctant to pursue the case further, with no arrests made to date.
Despite massive media reports covering the Friday attack and the presence of several police officers at the crime scene, police investigations have made little progress, despite apparent evidence of the perpetrators.
Yemen's Child Bride Backlash
After a 13-year-old girl's death, the conservative Islamists are retrenching -- with some bizarre, yet somehow effective, arguments.
The sad case of Elham Assi, a 13-year old Yemeni girl who died from internal hemorrhaging after being raped by her 23-year-old husband, has certainly sparked conversation in Yemen over the longstanding practice of child marriage. But the conversations -- taking place everywhere from Sanaa kitchens to the parliament building -- aren't exactly what you'd expect.
Instead of addressing the question of children's rights in a country where a quarter of all girls are married before they're 15 and half before they're 18, some Yemenis are treating Elham Assi's death as a rallying point against the so-called imposition of a Western agenda. Instead of catalyzing protective legislation for children in Yemen, as the tragic 1911 did for industrial laborers in the United States, her death may actually make it more likely that others will share her fate.