UK: Teachers urged to be alert to students who may be at risk of forced marriage
This summer over 350 young people will be forced to marry someone against their will and as a result may not return to their classrooms next academic year.
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint-initiative between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office, is the Government’s specialist ‘one-stop shop’ for forced marriage. It provides support to victims of forced marriage as well as expert training and guidance to professionals working with victims or potential victims.
Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia
A women's group that aims to teach Muslim wives how to "keep their spouses happy in the bedroom" is taking root in south-east Asia, prompting outrage from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The Obedient Wives Club (OWC), which has chapters in Malaysia, Indonesia and and intends to open in London and Paris later this year, says it intends to curb various social problems, including prostitution and gambling, by showing Muslim wives how to "be submissive and keep their spouses happy in the bedroom". This, in turn, would lead to more harmonious marriages and societies, it says.
Bangladesh: Protect women against 'fatwa' violence
Despite court orders, government has failed to intervene.
(Dhaka) - The Bangladesh government should take urgent measures to make sure that religious fatwas and traditional dispute resolution methods do not result in extrajudicial punishments, Human Rights Watch said today. The government is yet to act on repeated orders of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, beginning in July 2010, to stop illegal punishments such as whipping, lashing, or public humiliations, said the petitioners who challenged the practice.
Time To Lead: Islam in Canada
This summer, thousands of people will become new Canadian citizens. Many of them will be Muslims. They have come to Canada from every corner of the globe and, like my parents did 24 years ago, they will make this peaceful, progressive nation their home.
My parents left behind Pakistan and chose Canada for the same reasons many other Muslim immigrants came here 20, 30 or 40 years ago: for democracy, freedom, stability and modernity.
And herein lies a common misconception amongst “mainstream” Canadians: They’re convinced that, in the average Muslim household, it’s the parent who represents conservatism and tradition, and the Canadian-born children who are modern and fighting against this oppression. This is a falsehood.
India: How fruit trees in Indian village save girls' lives
In India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in backward Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child. In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.
And this practice is paying off.
Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.
India: Row after minister calls homosexuality a disease
India's health minister has sparked a furious row over comments in which he described homosexuality as a "disease". Ghulam Nabi Azad told a conference on HIV/Aids that gay sex was "unnatural". Later he said he had been misquoted. One leading Aids campaigner said the minister was "living on another planet".
Gay sex was decriminalised in the country in a landmark judgement in 2009 but anti-homosexual discrimination remains widespread.
UK: Girls at risk of mutilation abroad
Thousands of British schoolgirls as young as eight face being taken abroad this summer to have their genitals mutilated and stitched up to preserve "purity".
A campaign by the Metropolitan Police and Foreign Office will suggest that more than 22,000 girls under the age of 15 risk being taken abroad by their family for "cutting", based on data from The International Centre for Reproductive Health.
Campaigners say the victims are being failed by a lack of awareness from teachers and neighbours.
Bolivia: Women fight superstition and machismo in mining cooperatives
LA PAZ, Jun 23, 2011 (IPS) - Hundreds of women belonging to mining cooperatives in Bolivia are striving for the right to mine seams of tin and silver in the country's western highlands, where an age old superstition maintains that the presence of women "scares away" the minerals.
In these freezing high-altitude mineral-rich but impoverished areas, native women have been assigned a secondary economic role for centuries. But now they are seeking to make headway in traditionally male domains, say researchers interviewed by IPS.
Growing international demand for metals and soaring prices for the tin, silver and gold that are abundant in Bolivia have encouraged thousands of mainly indigenous peasant farmers and people from outside the altiplano region to go down the mines, organised in cooperatives.
Indonesia: Using religion to strengthen gender equality
DENPASAR, Indonesia, May 12, 2009 (IPS) - ‘My husband rapes me repeatedly. I asked the ulama (religious leader) for help, but he sided with him, saying that according to Islam, a woman has to obey her husband. I have nowhere else to go. I have no tears left to shed. I no longer scream.’
It was while recording stories like this that staff at Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), a branch of the country’s Human Rights Commission, decided in 2007 that they needed to focus on religious leaders if they wanted to protect women.
That insight led to intense brainstorming, studies and analysis, which with time has morphed into three books written by female scholars and religious leaders representing Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.
Egypt: ‘They Ogle, Touch, Use the Filthiest Language Imaginable’
CAIRO, May 30, 2009 (IPS) - As night falls over Egypt’s capital, youth gather along the banks of the Nile where a carnivalesque atmosphere prevails.
Tamer and Mido have taken up positions on the railing next to the river. As a group of veiled teenage girls approaches, the duo works in tandem. Tamer removes the girls’ headscarves with his eyes, while sexually nuanced words roll off Mido’s tongue.
"Girls love the attention - it makes them feel attractive," says Mido, an engineering student, as the girls divert their eyes to the pavement and nervously scurry past. "They pretend to be innocent, but it’s just part of the game they play."