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News and Views
States Fuel ‘honour killings’
January 31, 2008
By Abderrahim El Ouali
CASABLANCA, Jan 31 (IPS) - State-directed violence, the refusal to give up the death penalty and the holding of public executions are some of the principal factors that are supporting the continuing resort to the age-old practice of 'honour killings', murder to cleanse a family name of shame.
"The culture of violence in settling international and nation problems is fuelling these crimes," Bassam al-Kadi, supervisor of the Syrian Women's Observatory, SWO, a non-governmental organisation campaigning against 'honour killings' throughout the Middle East, told IPS.
"The active use of the death penalty against criminals and its retention on the statute books serve to confirm in the minds of some that they may also use this ultimate sanction to rescue a family's honour. Public executions, in particular, give an almost official stamp of approval to such acts of violence."
In December 2007, most of the Arab and Muslim world opposed the U.N. General Assembly's call for a moratorium on executions and the eventual worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The moratorium resolution still passed by 104 votes to 54. There were 29 abstentions.
Public executions before crowds of invited onlookers are still being carried out in at least two of the most orthodox Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi Arabia often carries out its beheadings in public with swordsmen wielding their weapons.
In Iran, where most of the executions are by hanging, public executions have been frequent. In the most recent of these some days ago, two alleged serial killers and rapists were hanged from cranes before crowds gathered in the central Iran city of Arak. State television broadcast pictures of the event.
On Jan. 30, Iran issued a decree that all public executions must in future be approved by the head of its judiciary. It also banned any future publishing of pictures of state-ordered killings. These have so far numbered 28 this year.
This directive is likely to reduce the number of public executions in the country.
But a similar judicial order in 2002 imposing a moratorium on public stoning has not been fully observed. Ja'far Kiani was stoned to death for adultery in the Qazvin province in July 2007, according to Amnesty International.
Amnesty recently demanded an end to this "grotesque and horrific" form of punishment. It also called for an end to the death sentence "for consensual sexual acts."
'Honour killings' are also often carried out for supposed violation of moral codes, particularly for allegations of adultery, according to many human rights campaigners.
Women are mostly the victims. Refusal to submit to arranged marriages and meeting men disapproved of by families are also reasons.
No one knows just how many 'honour killings' are committed every year.
"There are no correct statistics," Diana Nammi, founder of the London-based International Campaign Against Honour Killings, told IPS.
"They are mainly taking place in rural areas where there are no birth and death certificates. But I can assure you there are at least 5,000 every year, even more than 10,000. They are not just happening in one nation, but in more than 54 countries."
The Campaign Against Honour Killings, launched in 2003, hosts a website updated daily with reports from around the world. It operates a hotline for women who feel under threat.
"Pakistan has the highest number of 'dishonour killings' -- the term I use for calling them what they really are. Yearly there are believed to be between 800 and 1,000," Ellen Sheeley, a U.S. marketing consultant who began researching the subject in Jordan in 2003, told IPS.
In Jordan, where the penal code provides for an average six months sentence for 'honour killings', there were estimated to be some 24 a year, according to the group Amman Net, quoting official sources.
"There are some 40 'honour killings' every year in Syria," said Kadi. His organisation also maintains a website and in 2007 some 10,000 people, mostly in Syria, signed an online petition condemning them.
Following the breakdown of law and order with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there have been reports of a growing number of 'honour killings' in the country. Many of these have been recorded in the northern region of Kurdistan and in Basra in the south.
"In the Kurdish communities in Iran and especially Iraq it has become something like an epidemic," Nammi, of Kurdish origin who has lived in both countries before moving to London a decade ago, told IPS.
The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and the Arab world, often linked to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, is frequently blamed for some of the recent 'honour killings', according to reports.
"Islam is being misinterpreted to justify 'honour killings', Kadi agreed, expressing a view he had before the Iraq invasion.
"A large number of Islamic scholars definitely do teach a culture of violence that would justify these crimes. They are being followed religiously as if they were speaking the divine word."
He added: "They have even been attacking us for campaigning against 'honour killings'. They have accused us of being government mercenaries."
Sheeley, in her sampling of views across Jordan in 2003, found that 20 percent of all of those questioned agreed that Islam required family honour to be "cleansed" for promiscuous sexual behaviour.
"This finding points to the need for mosque and parental education to correct this lethal misunderstanding of the faith," she said. The actual source of 'honour killings' was believed to be "in misinterpretations of pre-Islamic Arab tribal codes," she added.
Sheeley hoped that legal reforms in the region could help to change attitudes and practices. In particular, Jordan could set an example to all other countries where 'honour killings' take place, by abolishing the articles of its legal code offering leniency to the perpetrators.
"Progress and success in Jordan could serve as an inspiration and model for other countries where these crimes are committed," she said. Some 89 percent of Jordanians she questioned supported a stiffening of penalties for the killers.
"In countries where the state and the laws discriminate against women...it sends a powerful message to all social institutions and to both genders," she added.
Kadi agreed that campaigners should direct their efforts to bring about equality for all before the law. "All laws that discriminate against women should be abolished. But the Syrian government is actually an opponent of this change in our country," he said.
"I am cautiously optimistic that change will come -- but deeply concerned about how many people will have to die before this happens," said Sheeley.
"This problem is solvable. It can be successfully addressed." (END/2008)
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Teenage girl strangled in "honour killing"
January 28, 2008
A 17-year-old girl died after being strangled to death by her brother in a Palestinian refugee camp near the Jordanian town of Jerash .
He was apparently angered by her absence from home.
The woman, who had been married for eight months, was accused of shaming her family and killed in a so-called "honour" crime.
This is the second murder of its kind in a month.
A Jordanian prosecutor has charged the victim’s brother, a 20-year-old man, with premeditated murder.
Local newspapers reported that he had stuffed a scarf in his sister's mouth, choked her with an electric cable and smoked a pack of cigarettes before turning himself in.
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A Cutting Tradition
When a girl is taken — usually by her mother — to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds. The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.
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Acid Attack on Woman Shocks Ethiopia
By Amber Henshaw
BBC News, Addis Ababa
28 March 2007
Kamilat Mehdi, 21, had a bright future ahead of her. She dreamt about doing a degree and becoming an air hostess.
Kamilat Mehdi knew her attacker
All that changed one night when she was walking home from work with her two sisters and a stalker threw sulphuric acid in her face.
She is now lying in hospital disfigured beyond recognition.
Her skin is red raw, her eyelids have almost been entirely destroyed and her hairline has been burnt back.
"I feel very sick now. Every day they need to do something without anaesthetic so it is hard to accept and it is very painful," says Kamilat.
Her sisters, Zeyneba and Zubyeda, escaped with lesser injuries but their faces were also burnt by the acid.
"We were on our way home from our parents' shop. I was with my sisters," Kamilat says.
"One guy came and he looked like a drunkard but he wasn't drunk. He forced us to go down a dark alley and then someone came and threw acid in our faces."
Kamilat fell to the floor unconscious while her sisters tried to get help. She lay there until her brother Ismael arrived.
Ismael says his sister knew her attacker.
"He bothered her for a long time - at least four years," he says.
"He gave her a hard time but she didn't tell the family for fear that something would happen to them. He was always saying he would use a gun on them."
This incident has sent shockwaves through the community in the capital, Addis Ababa, and amongst Ethiopians abroad.
Ismael says he has received calls from Ethiopians living around the world saying how angry and shocked they were about the attack.
Two men have appeared in court in Addis Ababa in connection with the attack.
"I hope the court will impose a proportional penalty within a short period of time," Justice Minister Assefa Kiseto says.
"That could make others learn from this and refrain from committing this crime. I think this kind of crime is a crime against the whole nation not just a crime against Kamilat."
Attacks like this are rare in Ethiopia but women's groups in Addis Ababa say that stalking and sexual harassment are common problems.
The Ending Violence Against Women report published by the United Nations at the end of last year said almost 60% of Ethiopian women were subjected to sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Mahdere Paulos from the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association says they would like to see a specific provision in Ethiopian law that tackles stalking and harassment so that there is better protection for young girls like Kamilat in the future.
"The problem starts with stalking - the end result is something else," she says.
"It might end in grave bodily injury, it might end in death and it might end in different difficult situations and that's why we want it to be taken seriously."
Following the uproar at Kamilat's attack, the Supreme Court announced that it has put in place procedures to help pass verdicts on such cases within two days.
And Ms Mahdere says some progress has been made by the government over the last few years in tackling violence against women.
There is a newly established ministry of women's affairs; there was a push before the 2005 election to get more women into parliament and there has been a complete overhaul of the penal code to beef up laws to protect women.
But in some rural areas, the traditional practice of abducting young girls and forcibly marrying them remains common - in one region it accounts for some 92% of all marriages, according to the most recent figures from 2003.
Kamilat and her sister have now flown to Paris for medical treatment, which is being financed by businessman Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi.
Bangladesh: A Voice for the Victims of Acid Attacks
By Marianne Scholte in Dhaka
For the better part of a decade, Monira Rahman has fought to provide treatment, counseling and rehabilitation to the victims of brutal acid attacks in Bangladesh. Amnesty International Germany honored Rahman with its annual human rights prize.
Ask anyone you meet in Bangladesh today and they will tell you what to do in case of an acid attack. You immediately douse the victim with water.
They know because they have seen the TV spots in which bystanders immediately drench a screaming woman with water after a young man throws acid into her face because she rejected his advances. Many Bangladeshis also know that there is a hospital in Dhaka, the capital city, where acid survivors can receive free medical treatment and legal assistance and that a telephone hotline is available to connect them with these services. They know that there are new tougher laws against acid crimes. It's a public awareness that has been created through countless posters, brochures, radio announcements, TV spots, newspaper articles, theater performances, and public rallies -- all the work of the seven-year-old Acid Survivors Foundation and its tireless executive director, 41-year-old Monira Rahman.
Rahman has worked ceaselessly to provide free medical and legal assistance to victims and to turn the shameful secret of acid violence into an urgent social and governmental problem. And she has succeeded. On March 19, the German section of Amnesty International will present Rahman with its annual human rights award for her efforts and the work of the Acid Survivors Foundation on behalf of acid survivors. Rahman began her work after she was hired by the Canadian International Development Agency in 1998 as part of the team that set up the foundation; she became director in 2002.
Acid attacks are a big problem in Bangladesh. The statistics say there are more attacks here than anywhere else in the world, but that may only be because Bangladesh documents its cases more thoroughly than other countries. The Acid Survivors Foundation meticulously documents every case it finds. In 2005, the organization claims there were 211 recorded incidents involving 267 victims. That is significantly less than the 487 people hurt in 2002, the worst year on record, but that is cold comfort.
Last year 178 women and 89 men were attacked with acid. Fifty-three children under the age of 18 were among the injured, many because they were sleeping next to the intended victim. The most frequent motive for the attack was a dispute about land, property, or money (46 percent), followed by crimes related to rejection or refusal of love, sex or marriage (15 percent), marital disputes (12 percent), disputes within the family (10 percent), and dowry disputes (5 percent).
In the days before the Acid Survivors Foundation, most people didn't know what to do when an attack occurred. Medical facilities in the countryside, where more than 90 percent of the population lives and most of the attacks take place, are sparse and poorly equipped. Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) in the capital has the only burn unit in the country and at the time the foundation began its work, it had only eight beds. Even if an acid victim actually made it to the hospital in the hours or days after the attack, care was poor and the survivor quickly found that the necessary reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation was far beyond the means of the poor rural victims.
The acid victim, most often a woman, found herself grotesquely disfigured, perhaps blind, deaf, or disabled in other ways. She could no longer work or study, not only because of her disabilities, but because of the massive disgrace she was often perceived to have brought upon her family. It was widely believed that the woman had provoked the attack herself by her flirtatious behavior or unseemly outspokenness. A single woman would have no chance of ever finding a husband and would remain an eternal burden on her family. The life of a married woman was many times even worse. Not only would she have to continue living with the perpetrator, but in many cases, her children would refuse to have any further contact with her.
"Today, most cases are within the family," Rahman says. "It is really difficult for the victim to speak out. After all, what would happen to her children if their father, the breadwinner, went to jail? And what would happen to the children's identity? No one will marry them."
The perpetrator would rarely be punished or even charged. The legal case against the perpetrator, if it was filed at all, would be confounded by inept police investigation, high legal fees, time-consuming proceedings and corruption in the courts. A judge could easily be bought off.
Hope for the future
Much has changed since the establishment of the Acid Survivors Foundation. The organization now has a 40-bed hospital solely devoted to treating victims of acid attacks. There, it provides free comprehensive medical care, including burn treatments, nursing, plastic surgery, physical therapy and psychotherapy. The Bangladesh Ministry of Health has been working closely with the group in this effort and has expanded the DMCH burn unit to 50 beds. The foundation also provides free legal advice and assistance. Many survivors are helped to pursue vocational training or education. Taken together, these programs are helping to rehabilitate victims and to more easily reintegrate them into their families and communities. Nevertheless, the road to recovery is not easy and many acid survivors never fully recover from their physical and psychological scars.
The organization also places a major emphasis on preventing attacks. One recent campaign included massive publicity about new laws in order to make potential perpetrators aware of the penalties for acid attacks. To that end, the foundation worked closely with the government to pass new and tougher laws against sales of acid and attacks. Unfortunately, laws alone can't stop the crimes -- after all, a diluted form of sulfuric acid can be found in any car battery. The law has, however, sped up the amount of time it takes to get attackers into the dock. "Previously, it took three to four years to complete a case on trial," Rahman explains. "Now it takes around one year."
Still, the rate of conviction is no higher than it was at the inception of the Acid Survivors Foundation. Last year only 33 perpetrators were convicted. Rahman attributes that rate to the reluctance of families to report attacks and corruption within the Bangladesh legal system.
One big problem for the organization is that most of the attacks are happening in rural areas. The organization is now working to train community level organizations -- groups that understand the local situation and can react quickly. There are currently 10 local partner organizations and another 200 have applied to work with the foundation. Indeed, the Acid Survivors Foundation has set in motion a social movement.
A life of advocacy
Social movements and determined resistance to authority are nothing new to Rahman. Her father died of cholera during the 1971 war of independence after her family was forced to flee from her birthplace in Jessore because their house had been burned. "My mother didn't have much education," she says, "but she was a very strong and confident woman. She struggled a lot, but she always encouraged us to get an education and to be outspoken and involved. She taught us that life is full of struggle, but also that we had to seek meaning in it."
Rahman went on to Dhaka University to study philosophy. She became a student political leader and remained undeterred by her detractors in a highly sexist society. She later went on to face police batons and rubber bullets when she joined other student activists on the streets to oppose the authoritarian government of General Ershad in 1991.
After completing her studies, Rahman went to work for Concern Worldwide, an Irish organization working with people detained in vagrancy institutions outside of Dhaka. Then, as now, a specially appointed magistrate could arbitrarily classify anyone -- sex workers, homeless children or adults, disoriented new arrivals to Dhaka -- as a vagrant and have them imprisoned in a vagrant home. Rahman often found herself directly confronting the authorities in order to provide help to the detainees. Eventually her program attracted the attention of government policy makers. She began working with the government for wider change, she asked the human rights commission to look at the outdated law, and enlisted help from other legal aid organizations.
While working for Concern Worldwide, she met young female acid survivors for the first time. Rahman was stunned that such brutality could exist and she quickly discovered the work of Naripokkho, a women's advocacy group which was attempting to investigate and publicize the plight of these women. When CIDA recruited Rahman to lay the groundwork for the Acid Survivors Foundation, it became her life's work.
UK: Thousands Risk Genital Mutilation
More than 20,000 girls under 15 in England and Wales could be at risk of genital mutilation, a charity warns.
Female circumcision is deeply rooted in many societies
Forward, which campaigns against the practice, says health workers and local officials should do more to stop it.
The charity says its estimate of 20,000 girls at risk is conservative because many women are too ashamed or afraid to talk about their experiences.
Female genital mutilation is seen in some communities as an initiation into adulthood for young girls.
Forward founder Efua Dorkenoo said the government had introduced a law against the practice, as part of its child protection policies, which had to be applied at local level.
"We expect that on the ground at local authority level, the health professionals and the schools would be alert to it so they would actually mainstream the prevention into what they do," she said.
Female genital mutilation is practised in a number of mainly Muslim African communities, and the tradition can travel when immigrants settle abroad.
The practice is believed to reduce a woman's desire for sex, and therefore sex outside marriage, and can be carried out on girls as young as four.
The practice has no basis in religion and the victims can face a lifetime of physical or psychological problems.
In some cases the mutilation is carried out here. In others the children are taken to their families' countries in Africa or the Middle East.
The Price of Abuse
By: Nimah Nawwab
Publication Date: December, 2007
Source Name: Arab News
Shame, violence, abuse, shame - the circle is complete for women of the East as they face a recurring nightmare of the denial of rights and justice.In most cases of violence against women, the role of society and how it perceives these unfortunate women is a crucial factor in the kind of justice they ultimately receive.
As the media highlights the trials and tribulations of women of abuse, and their stories, names and in rare cases faces intertwine with our everyday lives and discussions, they sadly still remain on the fringes of daily life. The world goes on and the horrors abate. Stories come and go with the flow of life. We stop to ponder their fate once a year as a day is dedicated to the cause of Violence Against Women; then we go on as women who are still keeping silent years after abuses continue their muffled, mute calls.
Yet the price of broken silence is steep in most countries of the East. The tribulations of abused women in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, honor killings, rape, abuse emotional, mental and physical become fodder for books and films, documenting in some cases a loss or a triumph over adversity.
One of the continuous trends found in the Middle East and Asia revolves around the way the female victim turns in the end to be the one who deserves the blame, while the victimizer gets away with an almost clean slate after a period of punishment. And to add insult to injury, not even the harsh punishment often mandated by laws. Society's stamp of acceptance or rejection of the victim's status plays its omnipotent role throughout the months and years of dealing with such matters.
The case of Mukhtaran Mai, the brave Pakistani woman gang-raped in revenge for alleged indiscretions committed by her brother, is an amazing account of rise against the shame. As she chose to take up the fight to regain her standing in her village and accused her rapists in an unprecedented step. Then went one step further as she opened a girls' school to eradicate illiteracy.
Despite the harrowing memories and indignity of her situation, she dealt with her village's stance and stood alone in the face of society's expectations of silence. She effectively led a campaign that reverberated in her country and set the course for the voices of abused women to be heard for years to come. This brave woman became a true voice for hope and justice.
In Saudi Arabia, Rania Al-Baz, the famous announcer, the "face" of the abused women, battered and thrown out on the street and taken for dead by her husband, now pays for the price of broken silence. Forgiving her husband, her reconstructed new face made up, her hair unveiled and tinted with new color, coming out and talking to Oprah Winfrey, she is now an outcast. She dared to unveil and dared to change. The good she did by bringing to light the long-held taboo of talk of abuse, the opening of women's shelters since, the campaigns against violence that began, all forgotten by a society that took issue with her unveiling. Her husband had the right to it, she invited violence. She must have had problems and did something that led to his jealous rage.
It is enough that she has cast off her veil, peeked out of magazine covers with her new looks, and later on as a hostess of another Gulf state satellite broadcast - her standing changed with the change of her looks as a woman without the accepted mode of dress.
The victim is blamed.
Nowadays with all the controversial complexities of the gang-rape of the Qatif girl, the focus is on her meeting an ex-boyfriend to retrieve an old photograph while being engaged to marry. Who is to blame? She invited rape by putting herself in the way of bodily harm, effectively showing herself to the hungry gazes of the "poor" attackers, being in the company of a nonrelation or guardian.
So every woman with a strange driver, in a place where women can't drive and rely on drivers is inviting rape. Every woman who goes out in public is inviting rape, every woman in company of a coworker is inviting rape? The young girl is sentenced to lashing and flogging. The license of her lawyer is revoked. The same lawyer who defends forced divorce cases - another inhumane revocation of basic rights of women - was threatened with the loss of his license. His rights and his client's rights are thrown out the window as the lawyer's license is revoked by one judge without the usual steps undertaken for such action which requires the convening of disciplinary court to revoke a license.
Her husband now derided for supporting her and dishonoring his manly honor, and yet despite all this both continue to seek a fair resolution. However, society's perception of shame and honor is tied tight to these concepts, as sympathy for the trauma is eroded bit by bit with each telling.
The fervor caused by this "case" internally for over a year and internationally lately only highlights one matter: The victim is to blame. Be she single, married, divorced, she is the one who drew attention, putting herself in danger, and she should have kept quiet after all instead of reviving bit by bit agonizing psychological shock and revealing the unutterable horror.
In addition to violence, the rights of women to determine their own fate - let alone their lives - are at issue. From the essential right of being in charge of their lives, to getting educated, to the right to travel and work to eke out a living in these times of rising prices, high divorce rates and single motherhood, women are still not given the freedom to take charge of their lives and be the driving force in determining their destination. Society still labels a grown up woman a dependent in this day and age. That is her place in society and let none forget this centuries-old mandate. After all, she is the one that needs to be protected with honor.
In societies where women are on the fringes, where they cannot represent themselves, where they "invite" rape and violence by action, appearance, talk, they are often cruelly put in their proper place by the very society they come from and have to live with this reality.
Societies' pegging of women as deserving violence will continue to grow. Developments and economic growth in Eastern countries, regardless of their expected magnitude, don't and will not affect the status of women till women can be considered individuals in their own right.
From Japan and China, to India and Pakistan, from Saudi Arabia to Morocco, be they Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, women have and will continue to bear the burden of losing face, their social standing threatened, and their honor smeared on lifting the heavy veil of silence in cases of violence against them and their sisters in calamity.
Will the time ever come when their own societies embrace their fragile trust in coming forth, a trust in a protective system instead of a prosecutorial system, a society that succors instead of attacks? Will that time ever arrive when women exposed to violence can gain their rights in the eyes of their own societies and win fair justice?
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Pledges System-Wide UN Campaign to Fight Violence Against Women
25 November 2007 – Denouncing violence against women as “one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to lead a campaign against the scourge.
In a message marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, commemorated on 25 November, Mr. Ban hailed progress in addressing the issue, but said there is “so much left to do to tear down the veil of tolerance which still sometimes surrounds it.”
He pledged to spearhead a system-wide campaign through 2015 for the elimination of violence against women focused on global advocacy; UN leadership by example; and strengthened partnerships at the national and regional levels to support the work of Governments, civil society, the private sector and others.
“I have proposed that the General Assembly devote an agenda item every year to considering the question of violence against women. And I have called on the Security Council to establish a mechanism dedicated to monitoring violence against women and girls, within the framework of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security,” Mr. Ban said.
He also repeats his longstanding support for a proposal to replace several current UN structures with one “dynamic” entity able to call on all of the UN system's resources in the work to empower women and realize gender equality worldwide.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, in her statement on the occasion of the Day, spotlighted the problem of immunity for violent crimes against women.
“Every day, in all corners of the world, countless women and girls are killed, mutilated, beaten, raped, sold into sexual slavery or tortured. Most of the survivors of this violence have little hope of seeing their tormentors pay for their crimes. And so the violence goes on,” she said.
Impunity “is built on a foundation of discrimination and inequality,” Ms. Arbour said. States have largely accepted the international human rights framework in place to prevent, condemn and punish discrimination against women, but she stressed that inequalities remain.
She emphasized that a sustained effort to end violence against women requires a commitment to ensure equality with respect to economic and social rights. “This contributes not only to the equitable allocation of public goods and services but also leads to improved law enforcement by facilitating accountability for violence against women.”
Both Ms. Arbour and Mr. Ban said the issue must be addressed not only in commemoration of the International Day but every day.
Also marking the Day, two independent UN human rights experts issued a statement pointing out that despite progress, many countries fail to recognize some forms of violence against women as crimes.
“Cultural or religious paradigms are still invoked to condone female genital mutilation, the execution and murder of women, marital rape and other forms of violence,” said the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak.
They note that the application of international instruments and the development of strategies to condemn and punish torture “have been slow to take into account gender-based aspects of torture, such as sexual violence, and have treated severe pain or suffering inflicted on women in the private sphere as a 'domestic affair.'”
The experts appeal to the international community, to States and civil society to make full use of all existing instruments and mechanisms designed to combat violence against women.
Commemoration of the Day kicks off "16 days of activism,” an initiative from 25 November through 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day.
In Sierra Leone, the UN is working with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on a number of activities, including awareness raising workshops on the three Gender Acts recently adopted by the House of Parliament – the Domestic Violence Act; the Devolution of Estates Act; and the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act.
The High Price of Freedom
4 Feb 2007
FOUR months after she ran away from home at the age of 15, Jasvinder Sanghera saw the sea for the first time. A granite sea that stretched out from the silver sands of Whitley Bay as far as the eye could see, and seemed somehow infinite in its possibilities. She had always felt the horizons of the world were more expansive than her family told her.
That's why she had run away, refusing to submit to the forced marriage that her Sikh parents wanted for her. For all the trauma her decision cost her - her family never fully accepted her again - the unexpected vastness of the sea comforted her, endorsing her decision. "I just thought, 'Wow!' I had been out of Derby before, but only to visit relatives. This was a feeling of... almost like the sea was telling me there was more in the world."
Water seems shapeless, powerless, impotent, until it is harnessed by tide and intent. There is a similar paradox about Sanghera. She is gentle and dignified, her voice as quiet as softly lapping waves, so quiet that at first you strain to hear her. Then, as her story unfolds, you gradually sense the enormous power that can be unleashed from her, waves of courage and determination emboldening her voice, until a gentle tide of tears pulls it back to a whisper. She now runs Karma Nirvana, a Derby-based project providing refuge for Asian women - women forced into marriages they do not want, or seeking refuge from abusive partners.
Sanghera has defied her own community by doing this work. They disown her. Her own sisters walk by her in the street. She has panic buttons in her home because of threatened violence and bought herself a dog last year for extra protection. But in her own quiet way, she remains steadfast against the force of opposing tides.
Her mother always said that Jasvinder was the most difficult of her daughters. She was born in hospital while her sisters were born at home, and her mother hated hospitals. And she was born upside down. Always awkward, her mother said. Like the questions she asked. Why did the women sit on one side of the gurdwara, the Sikh temple, while men sat on the other? Why did her brother Balbir have a different life to his sisters, with so much freedom, so much indulgence? Why could Jasvinder not go to university? Why was she not allowed to talk to boys or to choose her own husband? Her mother interpreted her curiosity as defiance, and became enraged, taking off her shoe and hitting out at her daughter. Insolent child. Why must she always question?
Silence was expected of girls. "If you saw my family you would have thought, 'How wonderful they are, how close-knit! So connected as a family.' But that was really about keeping you out. The perception that we are so close is actually preventing you from scratching the surface and seeing what is really there."
Each of her sisters in turn was taken away to India and married to a stranger, then returned. Her sister Robina, who was only a year and a half older than Jasvinder, was removed from school and then returned to the year below without any questions being asked. Often people don't like to interfere. "This fear we have of political correctness angers me. A wrong is a wrong. It's not part of a culture to force people to marry, to treat them like this, to disown them."
Every year in Britain, the Forced Marriage Unit, run jointly by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, deals with 300 cases of forced marriage in Britain - a third of which involve minors. These public cases are the tip of the iceberg, says Sanghera. Her work has led her to believe that Scotland has a particular problem, yet the Scottish Executive has told her it does not have the funds to tackle the issue. Why, demands Sanghera, are we not all making more fuss? Asian women are taught to be voiceless. It is up to the rest of us to make a noise for them.
Both Sanghera's parents are dead now. She loved them, but she came to understand that they could never love her as she loves her own children: unconditionally. For much of her adult life, she says, she waited for affection from her family the way a puppy waits for leftovers from the table. It never came. Now her book Shame gives voice to both her story and the stories of the many silent women she helps at Karma Nirvana. "Part of making sense of it all was writing it down," she explains. "As a child, I was taught to be silent. Now I have broken that silence. There is nothing more they can do. It is almost like they have no hold over me any more."
SANGHERA'S father moved from the Punjab to Britain in the 1950s, swapping a life working the land with bullock-pulled ploughs to working in a Derby foundry. His wife arrived seven years later. His first wife had died of a snake bite, so, according to custom, he married her sister. Like many encouraged by a British government recruitment drive, he came in search of a better life for his new family.
He had six daughters and one son in Britain, but Sanghera never saw her mother and father show any affection to each other. They did not even share a bedroom. "I think that was how we were taught to be reserved and not show affection." But did her parents love one another? "I think they did the only thing they knew how to do. I don't know if it was love."
Sanghera adored her father, but while in the outside world the men seemed dominant, in the family it was the women who upheld customs and traditions. Her father never intervened. Down the road from their house was the red-brick building with silver domes that governed their lives: the gurdwara, or temple. The local gossip shop, Sanghera says. Her mother was terrified that her children would do anything to sully the family's reputation. At best, it meant your family became gossip fodder. At worst, it meant being disowned by the community. Respect was important to her mother. She always reminded her children that they were of a high caste and must not talk to those of a lower caste.
Sanghera watched as each sister was married off to a stranger of suitable background. First the photograph would arrive from India. Next her mother would begin collecting yards of fine fabric, rivers of rich, bright colours and delicately embroidered patterns, storing them in a trunk. Then the sister would disappear quietly, and Sanghera would discover that she had been taken to India to be married to a stranger.
It was too close for comfort when Robina left. "We didn't dare ask questions about why this was happening. This goes back to the secrecy and the silence of the family. She was taken out of school, sent abroad to get married and then she went back to school and was put in my year. No one asked any questions."
Robina was a different person on her return. "She just turned into this silent being. Her whole persona changed. Even her dress changed. All of a sudden she was wearing traditional dress and being put on show when people visited the house. She was no longer the sibling, the playmate. Then, at 16, she disappeared to go and be with her husband in Germany. I was really saddened by that."
When Sanghera was 14, it was her turn to be sent a photograph. She was horrified when her mother showed it to her. She wanted to finish school, to go to university. Secretly, she began seeing Jassey, the older brother of a school friend who worked in a local engineering works. When she told her mother that she could not get married because she had a boyfriend, her mother erupted in fury. The girl would be locked in her room whenever she was alone in the house.
One evening she heard a sound at her window. Looking out, she saw Jassey under the streetlamp, acting out a mime. He loved her, wanted to run away with her. Plans were laid. Secret calls. Surreptitiously passed notes. When her older sister forgot to lock the door one day, Sanghera simply took her chances and ran, turning up at the engineering works as Jassey finished his shift. Jassey walked away from his job, his family, his life, to help her.
For many months they existed in squalid bedsits. Sanghera suffered badly from depression. She had wanted to run away from marriage, not from her family. She resented Jassey's family accepting him back because he was a boy, while hers would not. "You are dead in our eyes," her mother told her when she phoned, hoping to heal the rift. She told her daughter she never wanted to see her again. Sanghera had to go through marriage and pregnancy alone, though Robina did bring her mother to the hospital to see the first baby, Natasha. Her mother simply looked in the cradle once, said nothing and left early.
As a child, Sanghera had watched her sisters' marriages falter in turn. One of her strongest childhood memories is of going to their houses on a Sunday while her mother tried to deal with their marital problems. Even when physical abuse was involved, her mother ignored her daughters' bruises, refused to countenance separation, and simply insisted that they learn to pacify their husbands better. Sanghera hated those visits. She would sit quietly against the wall, listening, watching her father's uncomfortable silence. "I always thought we were going to rescue them, bring them home. We never did."
Several of the marriages ultimately ended. So why did the sisters continue to disown Sanghera? Because they had initially submitted to their arranged marriages, she explains. She was the only one who didn't. And because they didn't dare embrace someone the community had rejected - her. "If you seek independence, they see it as a threat: 'Go to college or university - where did these ideas come from? You will follow the path like the rest of us.'"
Perhaps the truth is that if her sisters - and even her mother - acknowledged Sanghera's right to behave as she did, it would invalidate their own lives. Perhaps they resented not having the courage she did. "I think deep down inside, though they will never admit it, my sisters want this life. They can be spiteful to me, but ultimately I think I did what they could only think about doing."
Yet when their marriages fell apart, it was to Sanghera they turned. And when the community accepted them back (because at least they had submitted to the marriage in the first place), they turned their backs again on their black-sheep sister. Sanghera's own life was difficult. She had two children with Jassey, but admits that she never really loved him as she should have. He was kind and caring and considerate, but they were thrown together because he was the only person who could get her out of her predicament. She was grateful. But gratitude wasn't enough to build a life on.
Neither was obedience. But the interesting thing about Sanghera's life is that, despite her obvious defiance, on a subconscious level her craving for the love and acceptance of her family and community influenced her choices. She behaved with the self-destructiveness of the abused woman whose partners all turn out to be violent. While married to Jassey, she had an affair with an Asian man who revealed himself to be traditional, violent and obsessively jealous. Her seemingly forward-thinking second husband also turned out to be less progressive after marriage, and was a bullying womaniser. When Robina's marriage collapsed, she too chose a man who was physically abusive. Was that coincidence? Or were these women subconsciously tying themselves back into the community, in search of acceptance? Perhaps their feelings of failure made them feel they deserved no better. "Maybe it was the kind of victim-blaming scenario," admits Sanghera: "'I deserve this because I had been told in my lifetime that I would amount to nothing.'
"The biggest impact on me was when my mum told me I was dead in her eyes. 'But, Mum, what did I do? Can I come back?' 'No, you can't.' All the love you could have given me would not replace the love of my family. Imagine waking up tomorrow and never seeing a member of your family again, being told that you are this prostitute on the streets - because that's what my mother said. My whole family set me up to fail, they willed it on me."
When Sanghera realised that Robina was trapped with a violent man, she encouraged her to seek help. The family called in a respected member of the local community - a man who would later become the lord mayor of Derby. He simply instructed Robina to go home to her violent husband. Robina's mother agreed, refusing her daughter sanctuary in her home.
Robina's story ended in tragedy. Driven to desperation, she told her husband that she was going upstairs to set herself alight. "On you go, then," he told her. She poured paraffin on herself and set it on fire. She died from her horrific injuries. When she was laid in her coffin, the lid was kept closed, with only a picture on the outside to identify her. Sanghera was told to stay away from the funeral, but she refused. "When I went to the house defiantly, my sisters walked out of the room like a bad smell had entered. I thought, 'She's dead, she died horrifically, and you can still treat me like this?'"
At the funeral, she felt contempt for her own people. "I looked around at the family and the people from the Asian community, and the lack of remorse in their faces... They thought it was almost an honourable thing that she'd done. The fact that they could stand there like a bunch of hypocrites and cry crocodile tears... They could have prevented her death. It was the injustice of it. Nobody ever spoke about her again."
Sanghera hoped that her sister's death would bring reconciliation with her mother, but it didn't. "My mother's cold response to me really hurt me. I thought when Robina died she would embrace me. The loss of a daughter would make her think, 'I have to embrace this daughter that I have shunned.' But she didn't, and that spoke volumes to me. That was the day I mentally let go of the expectation we have of a mother, a father, a brother, a sister. I realised that you can't make someone love you."
Her mother's health deteriorated after Robina died. "She was this bold, proud, strong woman, quite a defiant being in her own way, but when Robina died she shrivelled - it was like a light had gone off inside her."
Before her mother's death, Sanghera became partially reconciled with her, but she had to visit secretly, so the rest of the family and the community wouldn't know. They never talked about the lost years and the reason for them, but when her mother died Sanghera felt despair. Her mother's life had been a narrow river of convention, not a great sea of possibilities. "Her last words were, 'Robina, I'm coming to you.'"
SOME would argue that criticising arranged marriage is racist. It is, they say, a cultural tradition that is statistically far more successful than western 'love matches'. The Forced Marriage Unit makes a distinction between this "valued tradition" of arranged marriage and the "duress" involved in forced marriage. But Sanghera finds this distinction difficult to accept. "It's not as easy as that. My sisters went like sheep. There was a huge sense of obligation to the family to go through with it, and there was a lot of emotional pressure. You have to acknowledge that in arranged marriages there can be psychological abuse, and that rather than face the prospect of losing your family, you go through with it."
Sanghera eventually broke free from the psychological abuse that ruled so many of her life choices. She left her second husband and, despite struggling on her own with three young children, managed to get a first-class honours degree.
She has found happiness with a new partner, but he is white and she says she could not now be with a member of her own community. "It doesn't matter how progressive an Asian man is. My second husband appeared to be independent and forward-thinking, but at the end of the day what mattered to him was what his mother thought.
"I think most Asian men will ultimately have to stand up for their partners and face that dilemma. Whether they are strong enough to do that, I don't know, but I certainly don't want to take that risk any more. It means you get pulled back into that community, the dynamics, the family, all that struggle - and I don't want that in my life any more."
Yet she is proud to be an Asian woman. She loves Indian food, Indian music, Indian festivals and colour. She loves the fact that her parents came from the Punjab, that they embarked on such an enormous adventure for the sake of their children. But not one member of her Indian family speaks to her now. She would like to be both Indian and British, but she has been forced to choose - she chooses the part that offers freedom and independence. "I always say that if you show me a truly independent Asian woman, there has been some loss attached to earning that position. I have had to fight hard for this space. And I have no intention of letting it go." r
• Shame (£12.99, Hodder & Stoughton), by Jasvinder Sanghera, is out now
The price of love: four victims of an unforgiving custom
SAMAIRA NAZIR (25)
Samaira, a recruitment consultant from London, was murdered in a savage attack in front of her family in April 2005. She was stabbed 18 times by her brother and had her throat cut by their 17-year-old cousin at the family home. Samaira had fallen in love with an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan and rejected the suitors her Pakistani family wanted her to marry. According to Nazir Afzal of the Crown Prosecution Service, "Samaira was murdered because she loved the wrong person, in her family's eyes. In that sense, it was an 'honour killing', to protect the family's status and mark their disapproval."
BANAZ MAHMOD BABAKIR AGHA (20)
Banaz, from London, disappeared in January last year. Her remains were found three months later, decomposing in a suitcase buried in the garden of a house in Birmingham, more than 100 miles away from her family home.
The previous summer, Banaz, who was of Kurdish origin, had walked out of an arranged marriage which had lasted three years before ending in divorce. Her father, uncle and another man have been charged with her murder, while two other men were charged with perverting the course of justice.
RUKSHANA NAZ (19)
Rukshana, from Derby, who was forced into marriage at 16, died because her parents believed she was pregnant as the result of an adulterous affair. She had been forced into an arranged marriage in Pakistan and had two children by her husband.
It was reported that Rukshana's family were angry that she had become pregnant by her boyfriend in England while she was still married (she was six months pregnant when she died). Her mother and brother were jailed for life in 1999 after her brother strangled her while her mother held her down.
SHAFILEA AHMED (17)
Shortly before she disappeared in 2003, Shafilea, from Warrington, had been in Pakistan, where it is alleged that she turned down a suitor in an arranged marriage. She then swallowed bleach, badly scarring her throat - an injury that required continuing medical attention when she returned home. A nationwide hunt was launched when she failed to turn up for treatment for her damaged throat. In 2004, her body was found in the River Kent. The investigation into her death remains ongoing. Eight members of her family are awaiting trial for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Middle east: the terrorized half of our society
The undeclared war on women continues to victimize women worldwide on a daily basis; the Middle East is no exception. Women in our region are amongst the most oppressed and terrorized in the world. The Islamic law upheld in many Middle Eastern countries has turned women into slaves with invisible chains.
In Iraqi Kurdistan in April 2007, Dua Khalil Aswad - 17 years old at the time - was brutally stoned to death in front of a crowd of over 1000 cheering men. Her only crime was falling in love with a man from a different religion.
In Saudi Arabia in March 2006, a woman was abducted with a friend and was raped by 7 men. In October, the men were sentenced to 2-3 years in prison, but the woman herself was sentenced to 90 lashes. Saudi Arabian Islamic law forbids a woman to meet with a man to whom she is not related. The woman and her solicitor appealed the sentence; the men's sentences were increased from 2 to 9 years in prison, but the woman's sentence was also increased as a result to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison.
This is the price of reporting rape in Saudi Arabia. The judge disbarred the woman's solicitor, and the solicitor may now be suspended for 3 years from practicing his profession. In a country were it seems that to merely be a woman is a crime, women are doomed to live a life of subordination to laws drawn up by men, for men and designed to keep women in their place.
In Sudan, an English teacher was about to face a 6 month imprisonment and 40 lashes in public simply because her students named a teddy-bear "Mohamed".
Laws based on religious obscurantism and superstitions are applied even to people who do not follow the official state religion. In southern Iraq, Islamist gangsters have been forcing all women to cover themselves and wear the veil - including Christian women.
In Iran, women continue to be stoned to death according to Islamic Sharia Law; so far hundreds of them have been brutally stoned to death or executed publicly.
These were just few examples of the sort of treatment that women face at the hands of the patriarchical theocratic forces ruling many Middle Eastern societies.
Those of us who have first hand experience and are actually real victims of these religious laws know what it means to be a woman in the Middle East. We have gone through systematic terrorization since our childhood. We have been taught how to behave, act, obey, and finally submit ourselves to the will of men in our family, and of course to the will of "God".
We have been taught that whatever we do or think could bring "shame" to our family's "honour".
We are the "shameful", the "guilty", "filthy", "sinful" and unwanted objects of this patriarchal world. In order to make a space in which to live we have to give up on our dignities, pride, freedom and indeed all our rights; even the right to life.
I challenge those who justify the killing, abuse, and oppression of women on the basis that they are part of Middle Eastern "culture". But I am also here to challenge those who say these things are not part of Islam.
I am here to say that yes, what is happening to women is because of political Islam in all its forms, in power and in opposition. Religious laws are not simply a matter of "culture"; they are barbaric and inhumane practices which are used deliberately to repress women and segregate them from the rest of the world.
We, the women of the world, need to make it clear that women's rights are universal. They transcend culture, religion, nation, border and tradition. Our struggle for freedom and equality is global and must engage all women, regardless of their background. We need to fight the influence of religion in public life and the religious laws that - in the Middle East and throughout the world - help perpetuate the oppression of half the world's population.
Our struggle for universal rights, dignity and freedom will not be compromised.
Houzan Mahmoud is the Abroad Representative of Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq
To read original article:
« Dites non à la violence contre les femmes »
« Dites non à la violence contre les femmes »
ONU, New York, 26 novembre 2007
Alors qu'a commencé hier la Campagne des 16 jours contre la violence à l'égard des femmes, le Fonds de développement des Nations Unies pour la femme () a lancé aujourd'hui, avec son ambassadrice itinérante Nicole Kidman, le site web "Dites Non à la violence", qui vise à recueillir des signatures du monde entier contre ce fléau.
« La violence contre les femmes et les filles est un problème de dimension universelle. Au moins une femme sur trois dans le monde a été battue, contrainte d'avoir des rapports sexuels, ou a subi d'autres formes de sévices au cours de sa vie », indique l'UNIFEM dans un document ()
publié ce mois-ci.
« Il s'agit sans doute de la violation la plus répandue actuellement des droits fondamentaux de la personne, et qui a pour conséquences de détruire des vies, fracturer des communautés et freiner le développement », affirme l'agence.
Le site web "Dites Non à la violence" (), lancé aujourd'hui permettra de recueillir les signatures de ceux et celles qui s'opposent ouvertement à cette forme de violence.
Si les statistiques recueillies par l'UNIFEM décrivent une situation effrayante en termes de conséquences sociales et sanitaires, le coût économique de la violence contre les femmes n'en est pas moins
considérable. Aux Etats-Unis par exemple, les Centres pour la prévention et le contrôle des maladies ont estimé en 2003 que le coût annuel de la violence domestique s'élevait à plus de 5,8 milliards de dollars.
Devant ce problème de dimension universelle, l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a créé en 1996 un Fonds d'affectation spéciale des Nations Unies
() pour éliminer la violence à l'égard des femmes. Géré par l'UNIFEM, c'est le seul mécanisme unilatéral qui accorde des dons pour appuyer des actions locales, nationales et régionales de lutte contre la violence.
Depuis le début de ses activités en 1997, il a alloué plus de 19 millions de dollars à 263 initiatives dans 115 pays.
L'UNIFEM rappelle par ailleurs que les pays signataires de la Convention sur l'élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination à l'égard des femmes (CEDAW selon son acronyme anglais) ont l'obligation de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour éliminer la violence contre les femmes.
Aujourd'hui, 185 pays sont parties à la Convention, qui est entrée en vigueur le 30 septembre 1981.
Pour ajoutez votre signature à cette campagne et dire « NON à la violence contre les femmes », s'il vous plait visitez :
“Honour” Killings pose a serious challenge to the rule of law
"According to police records, every year 20-25 women in Jordan are killed “in the name of honour”, that is, for having an illicit affair."
Omaima was disposed of within minutes of her birth on 4 September in a rubbish bin. The illegitimate baby, however, was saved thanks to a street cleaner who heard her screaming from her makeshift tomb. The incident sent a shockwave throughout the conservative kingdom, with local papers dubbing Omaima "the rubbish bin girl".
Sari Nasir, a sociologist at the University of Jordan, showed no surprise at the chain of events that led to this travesty. "Values are stronger than life in Jordan," he said.
Father kills daughter for not wearing a hijab
"As he does almost every Friday, Sheik Yusuf Badat will use the noon prayer sermon tomorrow to further his message that Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. But his job will be more difficult this week, after the shocking slaying of a Mississauga Muslim teen, and the arrest of her father. Rumours that the girl clashed with her family over her objection to wearing the hijab have generated headlines from Germany to Pakistan, and fuelled a fierce - and at times arguably racist - debate about Islam and Canadian values.
Comment: "Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness"
"What we should learn from forced marriages and 'honour' killings is that we cannot allow cultural relativism to compromise women's human rights."
Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness...
So said the Home Office minister Mike O'Brien in 1999 when talking about forced marriages. Today, at the beginning of 2008, the same statement can be applied to the condition of women's lives, and the lack of human rights that they experience.
URGENT: Two Sisters Sentenced to be Stoned to Death ***Farsi Version***
ایران: حکم سنگسار زهره و آذر کبیری را متوقف کنید
شبکه جهانی "زنان متأثر از قوانین اسلامی" و کمپین جهانی قانون بدون سنگسار ا شهروندان آگاه و نگران میخواهد تا از طریق تلفن و یا فکس فورا با مقامات رسمی ایرانی تماس گرفته و خواستار لغو مجازات سنگسار زهره و آذر کبیری در ایران شوند.
Increasing trend of women's suicide by fire
With the continuing violence in nearby Mosul and Diyala province, war surgery is in great demand. So too is the burns unit. The chief nurse, Ahmed Mohammad, has done the tour of the women's intensive care unit many times before. "This is ICU burns," he said. "We have four patients here."
In the corner of the ward lies a girl swaddled in bandages. "The upper part of her body is burnt. So are her head and her arms, as well as one of her thighs," he said. Eighteen-year-old Sana has been here for nine weeks. Only the tips of her fingers and a small part of her face are visible.
Woman faces execution for 'witchcraft'
A leading human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the kingdom's religious police who arrested and interrogated Fawza Falih, and the judges who tried her in the northern town of Quraiyat never gave her the opportunity to prove her innocence in the face of "absurd charges that have no basis in law."
14-Year-Old Stoned to Death by Father
A 14 years old girl, identified as Saeedeh, has been stoned to death by her own father, reported the daily newspaper yesterday.
URGENT: Two Sisters Sentenced to be Stoned to Death
Zohreh and Azar are two young sisters from Khademabad, near Karaj, Iran. Both were arrested on February 5, 2007 due to allegations of adultery given by Sohreh’s husband.
One month later, they were prosecuted in court, found guilty, and sentenced to 99 lashes. However, due to reasons unknown, both were returned to prison. Six months later, another prosecution took place for the same crime. This time, they were sentenced to death by stoning. The Supreme Court of Iran has confirmed this verdict.
Both Zohreh Kabiri, 27 years old and Azar Kabiri, 28 years old, have been sentenced to stoning for adultery.
Increasing Reports of "Honour" Killings in Palestine
Rights activists say such murders have increased as a result of the worsened security situation, and press for a new law.
All the women in the family say Wafa Wahdan was wonderful.
But her sisters-in-law add that they noticed a few little things. She had changed the way she dressed in the past year to a less conservative style and she sometimes went out for a drive without saying where she was going.