UN Special Rapporteur on Torture statement on Acid Attacks and Women

Publication Date: 
September 15, 2010

From my position as Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, I have tried to ensure that the torture and ill-treatment protection framework is applied in a gender-sensitive manner to ensure that women are effectively protected from any form of violence that may constitute torture and/or ill-treatment.......I have previously focused on several types of gender-specific violence among which domestic violence in the form of intimate parrtner violence might be of interest to this panel since often, women victims of acid throwing are attacked by husbands, ex-partners and/or partners......When viewed through the prism of the anti-torture framework, the fight to end violence against women can be strengthened and provided with a broader scope of prevention, protection, justice and reparation for women." - Manfred Nowak

On 9/11, Remembering the Other's Others: International Law and Muslim Fundamentalism

Publication Date: 
September 11, 2010
IntLawGrrls: Voices on international law, policy, practice
New York City

The ninth anniversary of , finds the international community still grappling with the consequences of that terrible day.

Armed conflicts which began in the wake of 9/11 continue in, spilling over now into Pakistan and Yemen with often devastating consequences for civilians. Human rights abuses in the “war on terror” remain largely unpunished, but will never be forgotten around the world. Xenophobia directed against Muslims serves as a useful tool for right-wing politicians in the West. And you may have heard that an idiot in Florida has been trying to decide whether or not he will burn hundreds of Qur’ans today.

At the same time, Muslim fundamentalist armed movements akin to those that perpetrated 9/11, like the various permutations of  and the, or  in Somalia or  in Nigeria, just to name a few, continue to pose major challenges to human rights in Muslim majority societies and around the world. For a terrifying insight into the worldview of defenders of such movements, see .

Muslim fundamentalist armed movements often kill civilians indiscriminately, as they did on 9/11, a day to which Al Qaeda chillingly refers as “Holy Tuesday.” They also target artists, writers and freethinkers for assassination, and purvey systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities and LGBT individuals. They seek to impose their version of the Sharia on all Muslims everywhere – this often means advocating practices like . ( for logo at right of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women)  Hence, such movements pose particular threats to international law in the areas of human rights, humanitarian law and conflict prevention, inter alia.

My article  published this summer in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, challenges international lawyers to develop a critical analysis of Muslim fundamentalist movements and to support the many Muslim human rights defenders battling fundamentalism.
Faced with the current polarized environment, this enterprise is unquestionably a daunting task, and I see the already constricted space for my argument narrowing further. Muslim fundamentalists – and those confused with them – have also themselves been the targets of a range of grave violations of international law by states in recent years, like torture. Racialized discourses and policies directed against people of Muslim heritage have proliferated since September 11, 2001, and are currently experiencing a particularly disturbing revival – what might be called hatredofmuslims version 20.10.

All of this fuels more fundamentalism.

Honour Crimes Shame the World - Robert Fisk

Publication Date: 
September 7, 2010
The Independent
Robert Fisk


It's one of the last great taboos: the murder of at least 20,000 women a year in the name of 'honour'. Nor is the problem confined to the Middle East: the contagion is spreading rapidly

By Robert Fisk* - 7 September 2010

It is a tragedy, a horror, a crime against humanity. The details of the murders – of the women beheaded, burned to death, stoned to death, stabbed, electrocuted, strangled and buried alive for the "honour" of their families – are as barbaric as they are shameful. Many women's groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations' latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year. Most of the victims are young, many are teenagers, slaughtered under a vile tradition that goes back hundreds of years but which now spans half the globe.



A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for "honour" and, despite its identification by journalists as a largely Muslim practice, Christian and Hindu communities have stooped to the same crimes. Indeed, the "honour" of families, communities and tribes transcends religion and human mercy. But voluntary women's groups, human rights organisations, Amnesty International and news archives suggest that the slaughter of the innocent for "dishonouring" their families is increasing by the year.

Feminists on the Frontline: Case Studies of Resisting and Challenging Fundamentalisms

Publication Date: 
August, 2010
Association for Women in Development

This collection of case studies is a testament to the women and men around the world who have stood up to reject the imposition of norms and values in the name of religion as well as to expose and challenge the privileged position given to religion in public policies. In 2008 AWID launched a call for proposals to document the strategies of women's rights activists confronting religious fundamentalisms. The final 18 case studies presented here are drawn from a wide range of religious and geographical contexts, and cover various fields of activism. We hope that this collection will inspire, inform and encourage discussion and debate. Please visit this page again for updates, as finalized case studies and a brief summary of each case study will be posted on a rolling basis. We will also soon be posting a paper that introduces the trends and themes that are threaded through the various case studies.

Petition against Vatican`s miscategorization of Women’s Rights Advocates with Child Abusers

Publication Date: 
July 16, 2010
Women`s Ordination Conference

On July 15, 2010, the Vatican issued a clarification of its canonical procedures for how dioceses should handle priests who sexually abuse children. As part of the statement, they have added that the “attempted ordination of a woman” has now been added to the list of “delicta graviora,” or most serious crimes in church law, alongside the sexual abuse of minors.

Catholics denounce Vatican putting female ordination on par with sex abuse

Publication Date: 
July 16, 2010
The Guardian
Three ‘bishops’ at the ordination of a female French priest in Lyons in 2005. All four women were excommunicated.

Women's groups describe Vatican's decision on female ordination as 'appalling'.

It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women's groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.

The change put the "offence" on a par with the sex abuse of minors.

Advancing Gender Justice: A Call to Action

Publication Date: 
June, 2010
Advancing Gender Justice: A Call to Action

At a press conference held on 31 May 2010 during the , the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice released an advocacy paper titled .  Joining Women's Initiatives' Executive Director Brigid Inder to speak at the launch of the paper were three women's rights activists from ICC conflict situations who comprised part of the Women's Initiatives delegation: Gladys Oyat, Greater North Women's Voices for Peace Network, from Kitgum, Northern Uganda; Jeanine Bandu, Director of the Collective of Indigenous and Vulnerable Households, from Goma, Eastern DRC; and Albertine Tonnet, Coordinator of the Women's Section of the United Trade Union, from Bangui, Central African Republic.  Susanah Sirkin, Deputy Director of the US-based NGO Physicians for Human Rights, also offered her reflections on the Call to Action.

At the press conference, women from the conflict situations spoke of the urgent need for justice through both international and national accountability mechanisms.  Gladys Oyat from Northern Uganda asked, 'Shall the (Ugandan) victims get justice within the given time frame? We have evidence in Uganda that sometimes issues of importance may not be taken with the seriousness they deserve. They start with high flames but soon die out like a candle in the wind. Who can give assurance to the hurting people that justice will be done as fast as possible?  Remember, Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.'  Read Gladys' full .

Girls Speak: A New Voice In Global Development

Publication Date: 
July, 2010
Girls Speak: A New Voice in Global Development

Girls have a fundamental right to be heard, valued and respected. Moreover, by listening to girls’ voices, policymakers and program managers can help bridge the gaps between girls’ aspirations and their actual experiences. In this report, the authors outline six themes that arise from girls’ aspirations, including the desire to be healthy and educated with viable livelihoods and career opportunities, financial security and independence; and to marry and have children at the appropriate time. Underlying all the themes is one universal: a shared inability to make decisions about their own lives even though they know what they need.

Revised Vatican norms to cover sex abuse and attempted women's ordination

Publication Date: 
July 9, 2010
Catholic News Service
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is preparing to update the 2001 norms that deal with priestly sex abuse of minors, in effect codifying practices that have been in place for several years.

At the same time, it will include the "attempted ordination of women" among the list of most serious crimes against church law, or "delicta graviora," sources said.

The Quest for an "Islamic State" as a Response to the Secular State

Publication Date: 
June, 2003

This article examines a particular variety of Islamic responses to the advent of the secular state in Asia. The secular state arose historically in Europe through the separation of church and state from the seventeenth century onwards. The notion of political secularism was brought to Asia (and elsewhere) through the experience of European colonialism. The post-colonial secular states of Asia are thus derived from experiences of European colonialism, even when such experiences did not result in total colonisation (for example, in China, Korea, Japan and Thailand). Although the secular politics of the new nation-states in the Asian region has been anti-colonial and nationalist in content, the secularism of politics nevertheless comes not from indigenous sources, but from historical origins in Europe, regardless of whether such secularism is democratic, fascist or communist.