News and Views by Region

UN HRC: Witches in the 21st Century

Publication Date: 
August 24, 2011
UN Special Rapporteur Phillip Alston. (Photo: UN OHCHR)

Throughout history, people described as witches have been persecuted, tortured and murdered and the practice continues today. Statistics are not easy to come by but it is known that every year, thousands of people, mostly older women and children are accused as witches, often abused, cast out of their families and communities and in many cases murdered.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, in his most recent report to the Human Rights Council, says: “In too many settings, being classified as a witch is tantamount to receiving a death sentence.”

UN: Due Diligence Obligation to Address Violence against Women

Publication Date: 
August 1, 2011

The 2013 annual report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms Rashida Manjoo, will be devoted to a study on the "Due Diligence Obligations to address Violence against Women
." The Special Rapporteur is seeking information in preparation of a global study that analyses the interpretation and implementation of the due diligence obligation by States to be submitted to the Human Rights Council.

Dr. Farouk Musa: Feminism, gender equality and the Qur'an

Publication Date: 
August 8, 2011
Harakah Daily
Dr. Farouk Musa: Feminism, gender equality and the Qur'an

There have been numerous tafsirs throughout the ages, but few stressed on the gender equity issues as propounded by the Qur’an. Many exegetes failed to distance themselves from the misogynist views prevalent in their society while endeavoring to interpret God’s words. Their exegeses are so deeply embedded in the minds of the Muslims nowadays and considered to be the ultimate truth that any other forms of interpretation are considered non-conformist or worse, heretical.

It has to be understood that all the previous exegetes approached the Qur’an with their reason, explaining the purport of each Qur’anic statement in the light of their knowledge of the Arabic language and the traditions of the Prophet apart from the knowledge they acquired historically and culturally.

Anti-blasphemy and defamation laws curtail free speech

Publication Date: 
July 28, 2011
UN Multimedia


Anti-blasphemy laws and defamation laws against public officials and Heads of State seriously restrict free speech.

That’s according to the , which has issued a commentary on freedom of expression.

Some countries, such as Pakistan, regard blasphemy towards holy personages or their religion, as a serious offence punishable by death.

VNC Campaign Join Hands with NGOs' in raising concerns on UN Study on 'Traditional Values'

Publication Date: 
July 30, 2011
VNC Campaign

The VNC Campaign join hands with numerous international, regional and national NGOs from all over the world in expressing their concerns on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/3 passed last March 2011) for a " study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights”. 

The resolution, sponsored by the Russian Federation, has been the subject of much concern for many NGOs working on issues around women's rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, and rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity (amongst others), due to its close relation to an agenda of cultural relativism and the desire to undermine the universality of human rights.

157 Catholic Priests Rise Up To Support Fellow Embattled Priest

Publication Date: 
July 23, 2011
Women's Ordination Conference

In an unprecedented move, 157 Catholic priests have signed on to a letter in support of their fellow embattled priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been told to recant his support for women's ordination or be removed from the priesthood. The letter that supports Roy's priesthood and his right to conscience was delivered, Friday, July 22nd, to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Maryknoll, NY.

"We can no longer remain silent while priests and even bishops are removed from their posts simply because they choose to speak their truth," said Fr. Fred Daley, a spokesperson of the effort and a priest of the Syracuse Diocese.

UN report: Achievements of Muslim women's rights groups

Publication Date: 
July 25, 2011

The United Nations recently established  to champion gender equality and empowerment of women. In its first major report “,” UN Women highlights both the global plight of women seeking justice and the amazing progress women have made in the past century. Particularly enlightening aspects of the report are the coverage of women in Muslim countries and the accomplishments of Muslim women’s rights groups.

Released in the wake of the Arab Spring, the report emphasizes the active role Arab and Muslim women are taking in effectuating historic change in the region, invalidating the stereotypical view that Muslim women are voiceless and meek.

Reality Check: Women Rights Defenders

Publication Date: 
July 22, 2011
Spotlight News Magazine

Who are Women Human Rights Defenders? What are they doing? Where? Are they facing challenges now? Will they face them in the long run? Who are responsible to speak for them? These questions need to be recognized and answered.

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are activists who raise voices against violation of human rights.

Human Dignity and Honour of Women

Publication Date: 
July 15, 2011
Times of Malta

Human beings have explored more civilisations with the passage of time and we are now in the 21st century. But, in some countries and societies that is merely a technicality and nothing more. The archaic and often criminal notions of justice and honour, particularly the treatment meted out to women, speak of a society that remains mired in a mediaeval mindset. This is evident judging by news from different countries and societies and because the world has emerged as a global village such news and stories are easily accessible.

Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia

Publication Date: 
July 6, 2011
The Guardian
Malaysian Muslim Ishak Md Nor and his two wives, Aishah Abdul Ghafar, left, and Afiratul Abidah Mohd Hanan, members of the 'OWC'

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.