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News and Views
Afghanistan: Government Campaign Against Self-Immolation
The Afghan government has launched a national media campaign to address the growing problem of self-immolation. Most people who set fire to themselves, on purpose or by accident, are women. Many try to commit suicide because they are victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Listen to the BBC interview with women's rights activist Horia Mosadiq on why women are setting themselves alight here:
Tunisia: Leading the way on women's rights in the Middle East
Last December, , triggering a political earthquake that has sent shockwaves through most of the Middle East and north Africa. Now, Tunisia is leading the way once again – this time on the vexed issue of gender equality.
It has become the first country in the region to withdraw all its specific reservations regarding – the international convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
India: UNICEF report uncovers high prevalence of child marriage in West Bengal
Every second girl in the high prevalence child marriage districts of West Bengal were married off before they reach 18, the legal age for girls to get wedded, a UNICEF report said.
Murshidabad (61.04%), Birbhum (58.03%), Malda (56.07%) and Purulia (54.03%) are the districts having such dubious distinction, the report said quoting latest figures.
Though only these four districts have reported over 50 per cent child marriage cases, they are enough to pull the state figure of child marriage to a staggering 53.9 per cent.
Kenya: Law passed against FGM
Kenya has become the latest African country to ban female genital mutilation, with the passing of a law making it illegal to practice or procure it or take somebody abroad for cutting. The law even prohibits derogatory remarks about women who have not undergone FGM. Offenders may be jailed or fined or both.
Tunisia: Government Lifts Restrictions on Women’s Rights Treaty
(Beirut) September 6, 2011 ─ Tunisia’s lifting of key reservations to the (CEDAW) is an important step toward gender equality, Human Rights Watch said today. The Tunisian government should next ensure that all domestic laws conform to international standards and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, Human Rights Watch said.
Tunisia is the first country in the region to withdraw all of its specific reservations to the treaty. These reservations had enabled it to opt out of certain provisions even though it had ratified the treaty.
Saudi Arabia: Efforts to include human rights in syllabuses
JEDDAH: Chairman of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Mufleh Al-Qahtani has said the organization is making efforts to introduce the subject of human rights in higher and general education syllabuses in Saudi Arabia.
“The organization has put a special emphasis on this issue, held seminars and carried out activities in this regard,” he said on Tuesday.
Al-Qahtani said a joint workshop between the organization and the Ministry of Education made specific recommendations on the issue that were currently being studied.
UK: Parents charged over suspected 'honour' killing
The parents of Shafilea Ahmed, a suspected victim of a so-called honour killing eight years ago, have been charged with murder and are due to appear in court.
Iraq: Attacks continue on women human rights defenders
FRIDAY FILE: Women have been at the forefront of demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the recent popular uprisings, which have received much media and international attention. In contrast, coverage of attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Iraq’s Tahrir Square demonstrations has been limited, AWID asks why.
Pakistan: Women Advocates Aid Religious Minorities
(WNN) ISLAMABAD: In spite of real dangers for those working as advocates with Pakistan’s religious minorities, a number of people have been speaking out against religious discrimination and the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws inside the country.
As internal divisions, casualties and conflict on the northern border and a growing hatred and distrust of ‘the West’ expands, a dedicated group of Pakistani women and men are leading the way on issues of human rights and religious freedom inside the country.
Acts of heroism for women have been happening in Pakistan despite the fact that the country is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman. A recent 2011 “Education Emergency Report” by the PETF – Pakistan Education Task Force has revealed that only “one in three” women have attended school in rural regions.
Nigeria: Favour Irabor - Money, religion & patriarchy pose problems for female politicians
It’s over four months now since the last general elections, but Nigerian women politicians and even stakeholders are yet to recuperate from the shock of its outcome. Unlike previous elections, women vied enmass for various political offices, but few of them got in! As a response to this fall which has also translated into an abysmal reduction in the representation of women in political offices(apart from the ministerial offices), the question of ‘what went wrong?’ has continued to take centre-stage at most women gatherings. Here, women’s human rights activist, a lawyer, (Ms) Favour Irabor, Programme Officer, Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, reviews the circumstances surrounding Nigerian women in politics as she calls on stakeholders to urgently begin preparations for the 2015 elections.
Council of Europe Convention calls for hotlines, shelters, medical and forensic services
Hamiyet, a member of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, was a 15-year-old newlywed when her husband began beating her every evening after work. He hit her when she was pregnant with each of their nine children, and he raped her almost nightly. She sought help from the police, but they always sent her back home, more concerned with preserving “family unity” than with her safety.
Burkina Faso: Free Legal Aid for Women Accused of being Witches
PARIS (TrustLaw) - What links a British-based law firm to an initiative aimed at protecting women in Burkina Faso from accusations of witchcraft?
The answer's global pro bono work.
Earlier this year, a charity caring for older people, HelpAge International, asked Advocates for International Development (A4ID) to help with its work in, among others, Burkina Faso where it's been trying to raise awareness about the plight of women who've fallen victim to witchcraft allegations.
UN HRC: Witches in the 21st Century
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.”
Nepal: Religious Practices, Discrimination & Gender Violence
KATHMANDU, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) - The recent gang-rape of a Buddhist nun and her expulsion from her sect have sparked a debate about the deep-rooted religious traditions and biases that foster discrimination and violence, especially against women, in this South Asian state.
The public outcry against the nun’s expulsion forced the Nepal Buddhist Federation to reconsider, saying now that once she recovers, the victim can return to her nunnery.
But it is only a minor triumph. While public debate on a discriminatory socio-religious practice led to its retraction, thousands of women continue to be victims of other religious rituals in Nepal.
Indonesia: Sharia police in Aceh dissolve lesbian marriage
Islamic police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have forced two women to have their marriage annulled and sign an agreement to separate.
The women had been legally married for a few months after one of them passed as a man in front of an Islamic cleric who presided over their wedding.
But suspicious neighbours confronted the couple and reported them to police.
Afghanistan: Women in Media Reveal Risks & Challenges
KABUL (Reuters) - Farida Nekzad has faced threats of kidnapping, acid attacks and a plot to blow up her apartment since she founded her first news agency in Afghanistan seven years ago.
Members of the Taliban e-mailed some of the warnings; others arrived over the phone. One caller warned she would be murdered and disfigured so horrendously that her family would not be able to recognize her body.
UN: Due Diligence Obligation to Address Violence against Women
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.
Jordan: Child Bride in Jordan Puts Daughters on Same Path
What kind of mothers subject their daughters to drudgery, deny them education and threaten them with early marriage and other human rights abuses? The answer, one family's story suggests, are women who've gone through just that themselves.
AMMAN, Jordan (WOMENSENEWS)--Fawzeya, a 70-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian woman living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, raised her two daughters--now 53 and 47--with an iron hand.
Cameroon: Activists fight breast ironing tradition
(CNN) -- Every morning before school, nine-year-old Terisia Techu would undergo a painful procedure. Her mother would take a burning hot pestle straight out of a fire and use it to press her breasts.
With tears in her eyes as she recalls what it was like, Terisia tells CNN that one day the pestle was so hot, it burned her, leaving a mark. Now 18, she is still traumatized.
Libya: Women active force in revolution
Last year, during the holy month of Ramadan, I was in Tripoli researching the status of women in Libya's society, along with Journalist and Author . We interviewed women across the spectrum: artists, housewives, teachers, government officials, university students and businesswomen. The stories were later aired on Chicago Public Radio.
Many of the Libyan women we interviewed tried to change society from within, but were repeatedly bogged down by the lack of bureaucracy and corruption in the law, saying the regime's tight restrictions and constant interference were a constant threat.