Middle East/North Africa: Journalists & Cyber Activists In the Line of Fire
Article XIX Statement: From Morocco to Bahrain, everyday people have taken on the cast iron hold of dictatorships and absolute monarchies resulting in an extraordinary collective awakening that has paved the way for epochal change in the region. The youth movement, which lies at the core of the uprisings, continues to play a prominent role in the pro-democracy and pro-reform demonstrations, which have swept through the region, unabated by government clampdowns or concessions.
Pakistan: Transexuals allowed to have own gender category on certain official documentation
26 April 2011 - Pakistan has taken the landmark decision to allow transsexuals to have their own gender category on some official documents. The country's Supreme Court has ruled that those Pakistanis who do not consider themselves to be either male or female should be allowed to choose an alternative sex when they apply for their national identity cards.
Afghanistan: Virginity-related penalties "extremely unfair"
KABUL, 26 April 2011 (IRIN) - The penalties that Afghan women suffer whenever allegations of pre-marital sex and loss of virginity emerge, including death, are extreme, discriminatory and not in the penal code, activists said.
“I saw a woman who was publically humiliated and tortured because she had allegedly lost her virginity before her wedding night,” said Suraya Subhrang, a women’s rights commissioner at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Extra-judiciary penalties, she added, were prevalent and deep-rooted in the country.
Nigeria: House of Rainbow church offers underground prayer to Christians ostracised by homophobia
When Ade's aunt learned he was gay, the then 16-year-old Nigerian was made to go through an exorcism to expel "the demon of homosexuality".
"The priest came to the house with candles, holy water and anointing oils. I had to kneel down, holding candles in my hands," recalls Ade, now 25, as he sits in a cafe in Lagos. He does not wish to reveal his full name. "He kept shouting 'Come out! Come out! Come out!' in a fevered voice … I was allowed to go back to church after that but I had to pretend to be straight."
Uganda: HIV/AIDS Challenges with Child Marriages, Polygamy, Civil War
In northern Uganda, daughters with limited understanding of HIV/AIDS are married off at young ages into polygamous households still struggling with the legacy of a brutal 16-year civil war. The practice is a recipe for rapid disease transmission.
Pakistan: Women Move Beyond Traditional Roles
JALOZAI, — A visit to the Jalozai camp, originally established in 1980 for Afghans fleeing the Soviet invasion, gives an idea of how the fighting between the Pakistani Army and militants has affected families in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
In 2008, all the Afghan refugees left. Their place was taken by about 100,000 Pakistanis known as the “internally displaced” of their country. Children, women and men arrive with what they can carry, then spend weeks, months, even years in tents.
Congo: Mobile Gender Justice Court
In many parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a rape victim has to walk for days or travel more than eight hours by car to get to the nearest court. For example, outside the city of Bukavu in South Kivu—a region that has the highest incidence of sexual violence in the world—there are no courts or magistrates who can hear cases. For those who persevere in filing a police report, justice is still often out of reach: local authorities have no capacity to investigate or prosecute such crimes. Because of this, tens of thousands of gender violence survivors have no meaningful access to justice.
Spain: Brotherhood includes women in Holy Week procession for first time
SEVILLE — Ana María Ruiz Copete, a sister in the oldest religious brotherhood of Seville, has been anticipating this Easter celebration for 30 years.
On Friday, the Brotherhood of Silence will include for the first time Ms. Ruiz Copete and 25 other women in one of the traditional processions of hooded penitents that have put the Andalusian capital at the center stage of Catholic celebrations of the Holy Week.
Pakistan: Statement by National Commission on the Status of Women against Supreme court verdict on gang rape case
The National Commission on the Status of Women, an official organisation, and members of Insani Huqooq Ittehad, including PODA, Mehergargh, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari, Ethno Media, Pattan and SPO convened an emergency meeting to express deep shock and disappointment at the verdict given by the superior court in the Mukhtara Mai gang rape case today. Although the judgment did prove that Mukhtara was raped because one accused did get life imprisonment, while others were acquitted. We are surprised to see why only one accused was punished and others were acquitted on a charge of 'gang rape'.
India: Supreme court calls for 'stamping out honour killing'
India's Supreme Court has told states to "ruthlessly stamp out" the so-called honour killings. The court also warned that senior officials who failed to act against the offenders would be prosecuted. In recent times, there have been many cases where people have been ostracised or killed for defying age-old notions of tradition and family honour.