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Women of The Revolution
recognising the struggles and achievements of women throughout the world
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Curbing DC's Gender-based Violence

Curbing DC's Gender-based Violence | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Although the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ended in 2002, the war on women and girls continues."Sexual and gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC," wrote U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer in a recent blog post, "includes the use of rape and sexual terror as a tactic of war in the conflict-affected eastern provinces, as well as pervasive violence against women and girls throughout the rest of the country." Such systemic sexual violence not only destroys women and young girls, but also entire families and communities. Men and boys are also victims of abuse, though they are often overlooked as a vulnerable population. USAID programs have provided care and treatment services for well over 100,000 SGBV survivors, including access to medical care, counseling and family mediation, social and economic reintegration support, as well as legal aid. Other programs seek to promote women's rights, acceptance of rape survivors and fight impunity through legal reform. However, said Ambassador Verveer, "it is clear that the low status of women in the DRC is a contributing factor to the high rate of sexual and gender-based violence in the county. "The DRC cannot move ahead without the full inclusion of women politically . . . . economically, through agriculture and beyond, and socially, through a robust civil society movement. "To achieve this, U.S. Government assistance programs in the DRC seek to promote women's participation in all spheres of political and economic life. Women are a powerful voice for peace and an instrument of development when given the opportunity," said Ambassador Verveer. "Investing in women is not only the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do."
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Rape is a weapon of war in the Congo

Rape is a weapon of war in the Congo | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
A new study on the African nation of Congo reports on some very alarming news. The report, released on Wednesday, said that approximately 1,152 women are raped every day, which amounts to roughly 48 women per hour. It is widely known that rape is often used as a tool of war. But why use this type of torture? And why are the rebels carrying out this sort of terrorism against women? Could this form of terrorism be related to the patriarchal culture that exists in the Congo? There is a strong indication of that, since the onset of colonialism Congo society has been ruled by male domination. The Congolese rebels know all too well what they are doing. They are carrying out a strategic and systematic criminal act of war that is used to gain the upper hand against civilians. Rape is used as a tool of war to demoralize, eliminate the self-respect and pride of the victim. By killing the spirit of the victim without actually physically committing homicide, the aggressor gains more control over them. This is first and foremost psychological warfare. Many Congolese victims report that after the crime has been committed, their lives are forever changed by the way they view themselves and the way that the villagers see them. They are traumatized and humiliated physically and mentally.
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Slutwalk may damage women's rights cause

Slutwalk may damage women's rights cause | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
The slutwalk phenomenon does more harm to women than good, warns international anti-porn campaigner Gail Dines. Professor Dines, a fierce critic of raunch culture who is touring Australia this month to promote her book Pornland, said that protest marches that aim to reclaim the word "slut" would only reinforce stereotypes. "By having a slutwalk, you have turned the focus onto what women are wearing," Professor Dines told The Age. "The men who are responding to this message are not getting the irony at all." By dressing in fishnets and push-up bras and brandishing 'slut" signs, she said, the organisers are playing into the hands of raunch culture. "Men want women to be sluts and now they're buying in." The day before before Australia's first slutwalk sets off from the front steps of Melbourne's State Library on Saturday May 28, the professor will be speaking at the library's Wheeler Centre on the pressure young women feel to live up to the images available on internet porn. "Young women today have two choices," she said, "to be f***able or invisible. If the only choice is to be hypersexual, you cannot call it a meaningful choice. In the US, even women who read the news, even politicians have to be [sexy]". The dozens of slutwalk protests being organised in North America, Europe and Australia were inspired by a Canadian policeman's advice to college students that they should not "dress like sluts" if they didn't want to be sexually assaulted. In response, women have been marching to reclaim the word "slut" in the same way that gay rights activists have reclaimed the word "queer". But the professor has been speaking out against the reclaiming campaign in The Guardian, on the BBC and in the Huffington Post. "'Slut' is an irredeemable word" she said, adding that as a Jewish woman, she had no desire to go on a "kike walk" — "some words come out of situations that are intolerable". While slutwalk organisers believed they were empowering women by embracing the word "slut", Professor Dines said they were sending the wrong message to adolescent girls in a culture that takes its cues from pornography. "Do you think that a young women is going to be helped if she looks in the mirror and thinks the word 'slut'?"
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Women’s rights activist arrested in Shiraz

Women’s rights activist arrested in Shiraz | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Women’s rights activist Maryam Bahreman was arrested yesterday in Shiraz. Kaleme website reports that Iranian security forces arrived with an arrest warrant at Bahreman’s home and spent three hours searching and confiscating books, documents and a computer before finally arresting her for “activities against national security.” A few days earlier the activist had published a letter on her personal weblog, Yek varagh pareh digar, addressed to opposition leader MirHosein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. The opposition has started a letter-writing campaign to Mousavi and Rahnavard, who have been under house arrest since February for rallying protesters to march in solidarity with the recent Arab uprisings. Bahreman wrote to the opposition leaders: “For sure these bitter days will also pass.” Bahreman indicates that she writes in order “to protest the house arrest of Mousavi and Rahnavard and to join the symbolic movement that praises the resistance put up by the two leaders after the ominous coup.”
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Gender equality conference, Afghanistan

Gender equality conference, Afghanistan | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Afghan leaders of the Parwan province met with the Republic of Korea Provincial Reconstruction Team and members of the Women’s Empowerment Team, Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team III, for a gender equality awareness conference.Attendees learned what the international community considers gender inequality and how important the issue is in other countries, said Dr. Hyunjoo Song, a gender adviser for the ROK PRT. The segregation of the two sexes, of men and women, is very normal in Afghan society, she continued, but Afghans don’t really know that international communities consider the segregation of men and women to be discrimination. “The training should not take place in one (session), it should take place continuously with the same audience, because it is not easy to change the people’s attitudes,” said Song. Education has three components: acquiring skills, transferring the knowledge and changing attitudes. Among the three components, changing people’s attitudes is the most difficult, according to Song. “The gender seminar is to change their attitudes,” said Song. “That’s why we have to have the capacity building seminars with the same audience.”
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Saudi women 'gaining ground after long struggle'

The late introduction of women’s education in Saudi Arabia has not limited their ability to make considerable gains and rights. On the local front, Saudi women have been able to reach official decision-making positions in a number of ministries. Externally, they have occupied high executive posts in many international organizations. The story of Saudi women striving to gain their legitimate rights in education and work, and to make their own decisions on personal affairs is an interesting one, characterized by long years of hard labor by pioneering women. Whether in big cities or remote villages, the battles are the same. The first of these battles was in the field of education.
During the 1920s, education for Saudi women was an “impossible dream.” The culture then was replete with the idea that girl’s education was “sedition” and a source of corruption. Moreover, society considered education of women as opposed to Islam, making its presence in the land of the two holy mosques unimaginable. Girls then had two directions to go to: either her husband's house or the grave. A decision by King Saud changed the attitude of society toward the issue, resulting in the establishment of girls' schools in towns and villages starting from 1959. Society's rejection of girl's education began to weaken gradually.
By the 1970s, those who objected to girl's education began to look at it as an honor and a duty. This big gain — realized by granting Saudi women their right to education and its expansion to university and above, which came as the result of a long struggle — was the key to spectacular achievements made by Saudi women. Saudi women entered all sectors of investment, joined work in various ministries, became diplomats and joined the fields of medicine, engineering, pharmacology and law. She also became a businesswoman. The Saudi woman has ultimately made a breakthrough in a society that is governed by traditions against the appearance of women.
Halima Muzaffar, a famous woman writer and literary critic, said that this long journey of struggle has not finished yet. “There are still many rights that Saudi women have not achieved. She cannot, for instance, run her own business. Despite her success in the field of journalism, not a single Saudi woman has climbed to the rank of a newspaper's editor in chief,” she said. Muzaffar believes that each Saudi woman deserves the title of “struggler.” She said the battle of Saudi women for their absent rights ignored by the male-dominated society was a long and onerous one. “This society wants to open up for everything except for women,” she said. Suhaila Zain Al-Abideen said the demands of Saudi women are numerous and diversified. “The guardianship should be lifted off the adult woman. The Saudi woman should have all her political rights enshrined in Islam. She has to be a member of all committees of the Shoura Council,” she said. Al-Abideen called for the establishment of special family courts and also for women legal consultation departments adjacent to the courts. “There should be a law for personal affairs emanating from the Qur'an and Sunna to be codified by eminent scholars, including women. Saudi women should also be members of the Supreme Council of Scholars. Males who practice family violence should be severely punished,” she said.
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CPLP reaffirms international commitment to women rights

CPLP reaffirms international commitment to women rights | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
The ministers in charge of gender equality in the Portuguese Speaking Community (CPLP) Wednesday in Luanda, reaffirmed the international commitments concerning women.
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A Gay Girl in Damascus becomes a heroine of the Syrian revolt | World news | The Guardian

A Gay Girl in Damascus becomes a heroine of the Syrian revolt | World news | The Guardian | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
She is perhaps an unlikely hero of revolt in a conservative country. Female, gay and half-American, Amina Abdullah is capturing the imagination of the Syrian opposition with a blog that has shot to prominence as the protest movement struggles in the face of a brutal government crackdown. Abdullah's blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, is brutally honest, poking at subjects long considered taboo in Arab culture. "Blogging is, for me, a way of being fearless," she says. "I believe that if I can be 'out' in so many ways, others can take my example and join the movement." Her blog really took off two weeks ago with a post entitled My Father the Hero, a moving account of how her father faced down two security agents who came to arrest her, accusing her of being a Salafist and a foreign agent. The blend of humour and frankness, frivolity and political nous comes from an upbringing that straddles Syria and the US. "I'm the ultimate outsider," she says. "My views are heavily informed by being both a member of a small marginal minority as an Arab Muslim in America and as a part of a majority as a Sunni in Syria, and of course as a woman and as a sexual minority." Homosexuality is illegal in Syria and a strict taboo, although the state largely turns a blind eye. "It's tough being a lesbian in Syria, but it's certainly easier to be a sexual than a political dissident," she says. Despite facing prejudice– in both the US and Syria – Abdullah sees no conflict in being both gay and Muslim. "I consider myself a believer and a Muslim: I pray five times a day, fast at Ramadan and even covered for a decade," she says. "I believe God made me as I am and I refuse to believe God makes mistakes." Abdullah is also writing a book, in the hope that a revolution will bring more freedoms, both sexual and political. "The Syria I always hoped was there, but was sleeping, has woken up," she says. "I have to believe that, sooner or later, we will prevail."
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Despite repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', US Air Force lesbian nurse will retire

Despite repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', US Air Force lesbian nurse will retire | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
A decorated flight nurse who won reinstatement to the U.S. Air Force Reserves in a landmark court challenge of her expulsion for revealing she is a lesbian said on Tuesday she will retire rather than return to duty. As part of a settlement reached with the military, Major Margaret Witt, 47, will receive full retirement benefits in exchange for the government dropping its appeal of her legal victory and removing the unlawful discharge from her service record. Witt previously had said she intended to rejoin her old unit, the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Asked at a news conference on Tuesday why she decided instead to retire, Witt replied: "My family," before putting an arm around the waist of her partner, Laurie McChesney. "I wanted to be there for my family. Moving forward, it was the right thing to do." Witt now works as a rehabilitation coordinator and volunteers at a veterans hospital in Spokane, Washington. A Gulf War veteran who appeared in an Air Force Nurse Corps recruitment poster, Witt was discharged in 2007 under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law barring openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military. Three years later, in September 2010, a federal judge ruled that her dismissal violated Witt's rights under the U.S. Constitution and ordered her restored to her position. The government petitioned an appeals court to reverse the Leightons ruling, but chose not to seek a stay of the decision while the case remained under review. Congress repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in December, but the measure, signed into law by President Barack Obama, gave the military an unspecified amount of time to prepare for and implement the change. The U.S. Navy recently authorized its chaplains to perform same-sex marriages on military bases once the ban on openly gay men and women is lifted.
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Europe treaty to aid abused women

Europe treaty to aid abused women | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Europe's main human rights watchdog launches an international treaty to combat violence against women.It is the first such treaty in the world, the council says. Signatories will have to provide helplines, shelters, medical care and legal aid for women who have suffered rape or other forms of violence. France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey are among the 13 countries that signed it in Istanbul on Wednesday. The others are: Austria, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden. The council calls it a "comprehensive legal framework to protect women against all forms of violence". It is open for other countries to sign too. Statistics from the member states suggest that at least 15% of women have experienced domestic violence. Signatories will undertake to strengthen the prosecution of those responsible for such violence. Crimes targeted by the convention include rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, forced abortion and forced sterilisation. Excuses on grounds of culture, custom, religion or so-called "honour" will be rejected, the council says. The convention also creates an independent expert group tasked with ensuring that the treaty countries stick to their commitments. The Istanbul meeting was attended by representatives of all 47 members of the Council of Europe.
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[Video] Doaa Dorgham: Freedom Rider 2011

A profile of Doaa Dorgham, one of the 40 student freedom riders. "I wasn't referred to as the girl in a scarf anymore, but as my name...it empowered me to continue to move forward".
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Human Rights Watch pins govt over killings

Human Rights Watch pins govt over killings | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
At least nine unarmed Ugandans were shot dead – many of them in the back – by government security agents in the recent walk-to-work protests despite not being involved in rioting, a new report says.In a report issued yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for a “prompt, independent, and thorough investigation” into the use of lethal force by security forces to counter the protests against the rising cost of living. “Uganda’s security forces met the recent protests with live fire that killed peaceful demonstrators and even bystanders,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. Supporting the need for an investigation, she added: “For far too long Uganda’s government has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and military.” Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the Professional Standards Unit and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) were investigating all the shooting incidents. “Once there reports have been compiled, the police will be in position to avail details,” she told Daily Monitor last evening. The HRW report was released a few hours before women in civil society organisations marched peacefully and uneventfully through Kampala to protest against the security agencies’ brutal response to the protests that started last month. The women’s march followed a three-day strike by lawyers against the government’s response, which they said infringed on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
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Gender Inequality Persists in Modern World

Author Cecilia L. Ridgeway made an appearance last Thurs­day at the Pentland Hills Bearcave to discuss her book, Framed by Gender.She engaged approxi­mately 100 attendees, students and faculty alike, by presenting her findings on the persistence of gender inequality in today's soci­ety. Ridgeway's awards include the Jesse Bernard Award for dis­tinguished career contributions and the Cooley-Mead Award for lifetime contribution to distin­ guished scholarship in social psy­chology to the study of gender.Ridgeway specifically asked, "How does one's antique way of looking at gender exist in con­temporary America in the face of leveling economic and political changes? What (if any) are the general processes by which gen­der inequality is rewritten into new forms of social and economic organization as they emerge?" The argument in brief de­scribed three key points: first, the force of gender persistence can be understood through our use of the concept of gender to categorize others as a primary tool for so­cializing. And our "pre-framing of others by sex" never really disap­pears from our understanding of them in relation to ourselves. This coordination problem directs peo­ple to focus on differences to make sense of one another. Ridgeway said, "The who are you? The what am I? These questions jump-start the process of relationships."
Ridgeway asserted that our cultural beliefs about gender tend to change more slowly than mate­rial arrangements between men and women. "Our widely shared cultural beliefs about typical men and women, such as gender ste­reotypes, are default rules for co­ordinating behavior based on sex category." The way we define difference implies inequality and uncon­sciously primes gender stereo­types in the mind. In doing so, they cognitively determine our actions. This may be exemplified in areas such as engineering and the physical sciences which are still culturally sex-typed in favor of men. Ridgeway exclaimed, "What's fascinating is how much gender types are still very much behind looking at how much more women are contributing!" Professor Ridgeway concluded her presentation by emphasizing that although gender inequality still persists, it does not mean that inequality cannot be overcome. While gender equality has gradu­ally increased, and persistence for change is a steady way to progress, she said it would not "happen without people making an effort."
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The South African women living in fear of rape

On Good Friday 24-year-old Noxolo Nogwaza was raped, stoned and stabbed to death in the township of KwaThema, east of Johannesburg. Two years previously another young KwaThema woman, Eudy Simelane, was raped and murdered. Rape statistics are notoriously unreliable, but there is consensus that the rate of violence against women in South Africa is extremely high. The country also has the twelfth highest homicide rate in the world. Yet the cases of Nogwaza and Simelane stood out because they were butch lesbians who appear to have been victims of homophobic hate-crime. Their murders have been ascribed to an epidemic of "corrective rape" aimed at turning lesbians straight, or at teaching them a lesson for rejecting men. What makes this all the more shocking is that South Africa is officially one of the most tolerant countries in the world: its constitution explicitly outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and same-sex marriage is legal. In truth the fatal violence against lesbians like Nogwaza and Simelane is an extreme illustration of a truth about all rape: it is always "corrective". Rapists typically think they are teaching their victims a lesson, either for wanting it too much or for not wanting it enough. This has a particular resonance in South Africa, whereresearch suggests that a high number of sexually active teenage girls say their first sexual encounter was coercive. Dipika Nath is conducting research into violence against lesbians in South Africa for Human Rights Watch: "In a context where women are not allowed to say 'no' to sex," she says, "butch lesbians and transgender men can be seen as presenting the ultimate defiance – by their very identity." One of the wonders of contemporary South Africa is the flowering of an urban black working-class lesbian subculture. Raised with a post-apartheid consciousness of human rights, many young black women have rejected the traditional roles expected of them: they have claimed the right to live independent of men and taken their sexuality on to the streets with a particular subcultural look. This is part of a broader trend in sub-Saharan Africa. Sexuality has become a matter of identity ("I am lesbian") in the region, rather than mere practice ("I sleep with women"); an overt insistence on equality, rather than a covert satisfying of desire, accommodated by social norms and traditions. The result, inevitably, is social upheaval.
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Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out on Rape

Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out on Rape | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Former volunteers are going public about being sexually assaulted while serving, prompting a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.Jess Smochek arrived in Bangladesh in 2004 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer with dreams of teaching English and “helping the world.” She left six weeks later a rape victim after being brutalized in an alley by a knife-wielding gang.
When she returned to the United States, the reception she received from Peace Corps officials was as devastating, she said, as the rape itself. In Bangladesh, she had been given scant medical care; in Washington, a counselor implied that she was to blame for the attack. For years she kept quiet, feeling “ashamed and embarrassed and guilty.” Today, Ms. Smochek is among a growing group of former Peace Corps volunteers who are speaking out about their sexual assaults, prompting scrutiny from Congress and a pledge from the agency for reform. In going public, they are exposing an ugly sliver of life in the Peace Corps: the dangers that volunteers face in far-flung corners of the world and the inconsistent — and, some say, callous — treatment they receive when they become crime victims.
Founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has 8,655 volunteers and trainees, as young as 21 and as old as 86, serving in 77 countries. For most, service is, as the agency’s Web site boasts, “a life-defining leadership experience.” But from 2000 to 2009, on average, 22 Peace Corps women each year reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape, the agency says. During that time, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers reported sexual assaults, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes. Because sexual crimes often go unreported, experts say the incidence is likely to be higher, though they and the Peace Corps add that it is difficult to assess whether the volunteers face any greater risk overseas than women in the United States do.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will convene a hearing to examine what its chairwoman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, called “serious crimes” committed against Peace Corps volunteers, including murder; in announcing the hearing, her office cited reports of “gross mismanagement of sexual assault complaints.” In an interview Monday, the director of the Peace Corps, Aaron S. Williams, said he was committed to revamping the agency’s practices to create a more “victim-centered approach.” He insisted that it was safe for women to serve in the Peace Corps. “We do not place Peace Corps volunteers in unsafe environments,” he said. But he said the agency must modernize its procedures to “make sure that we provide compassionate care” to crime victims. Already, Mr. Williams has made some changes, including hiring a “victim’s advocate” who began work on Monday and signing an agreement with a nationally known rape crisis group to re-examine his organization’s training and policies. The changes reflect the work of Ms. Frazee, who has spent the last 18 months tracking down Peace Corps sexual assault survivors by reaching out through social networking sites and her blog. Last year, her work attracted the attention of the ABC News program “20/20,” which ran a segment on the women in January. In recent months, Ms. Frazee, 28, has collected more than two dozen affidavits from other women, who have shared stories that Mr. Williams called “tragic.” In interviews and documents, they paint a picture of what many call a “blame the victim” culture at the Peace Corps.
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Mona’s fight for women’s rights

Mona’s fight for women’s rights | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
On 8 March, Oxfam celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and encouraged everyone to make this an occasion for positive change. The date also marked six years of the international “We Can End all Violence against Women” – or simply, “We Can” – campaign. Mona Mehta, who works for Oxfam as a regional manager on women’s leadership, is heavily involved in the campaign, and has seen first hand the difference that has been brought to women’s lives. She first worked for Oxfam in the early 80’s in India and was one of the first female programme officers in India to work for the organisation. Mona was attracted to the organisation’s commitment to equal rights for men and women and its focus on alleviating poverty. Over the years she has seen many women’s lives changed by the We Can campaign. “There has been significant change with regard to violence against women. Recent We Can country assessments across South Asia have shown the positive impact of the campaign on individuals and communities. However, a lot more remains to be done,” said Mona. As well as working on women’s rights, Mona was involved in ensuring people had access to healthcare, clean water and medicine, and making sure people had ways to make a living. She also worked during emergency responses such as droughts. Today Mona works across India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal to focus on changing people’s attitudes and mindsets so that violence against women is made “visible” and deemed unacceptable. “Millions of women in South Asia are still undergoing violence and discrimination on a daily basis,” Mona said. “We need to be able to carry the message of change to the lives of those who remain excluded and marginalised. We hope that the campaign will remain active in each country and will work towards achieving a violence free society.” The project involves educational and government institutions in reducing levels of domestic violence, raising awareness and supporting families.
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Is Feminism Relevant to 21st-century Fiction?

Is Feminism Relevant to 21st-century Fiction? | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
The year that feminism entered British literary fiction is a debatable one: some refer to the watershed moment in 1962, when Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook dramatised women's interior conflict between work, motherhood, love and sex as well as well as the hitherto taboo drama of the menstrual cycle. It broke such new ground that its author was labelled an Angry Young Man, in line with the literary movement of the day. It was, in fact, a prototype feminist novel at the vanguard of the Angry Young Women's wave of fiction that drew on centuries of unrecorded domestic servitude. It is harder to pin down the year feminism left the field of fiction. Somewhere along the line, it was tacitly agreed that novelists had outgrown the narrative with its uneasy marriage between fiction and polemic. Revisiting the debate on women's writing and feminism might now be considered a redundant exercise in an age where books written by women extend across genres and jostle for literary prizes and front-of-store positioning. The 1970s dictum of "writing by women, about women, for women" is certainly a historical anachronism. Philosophical arguments about writing the body are unfashionable with critical theorists and the question of whether women write as gendered beings is dismissed for failing to appreciate the governing role of the imagination in the writing process. Against this backdrop, Granta magazine will publish The F Word (£12.99) next Thursday: an issue dedicated to reflections on gender, power and feminism, in which Lydia Davis, Rachel Cusk, Jeanette Winterson, AS Byatt, Helen Simpson and Téa Obreht, among others, write wide-ranging pieces on women's places in the world, the place of feminism within storytelling and shortfalls of the Women's Movement of the 1970s. John Freeman, editor of Granta, feels this latter aspect is a positive outcome: "I think political movements must always critique their own legacies - otherwise they become cults. Writers in the issue are doing what's natural after decades of believing in a cause - they are observing the victories and defeats, and taking stock of how this idea has infiltrated life and culture."
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Africa's Domestic Violence, Rapes Extend Far Beyond Congo

Africa's Domestic Violence, Rapes Extend Far Beyond Congo | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
While a recent U.S. report has staggering statistics about ongoing mass rapes and domestic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights activists say the problem exists across Africa.Our correspondent caught up with African lawyers who are in the United States getting advice on how to confront the situation. At a meeting in the Washington offices of the U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence, Rene Renick shared with her African guests some of the common challenges women face in fighting for their rights. "That is something we have been through too just so you know," said Renick. "We have been told we are breaking up marriages, we have been called lesbians and baby killers." A report released this week in the American Journal of Public Health, based on new statistics, indicated that between 2006 and 2007, 400,000 women had been raped in the Congo - a rate 26 times higher than what the United Nations has been reporting. The study said these rapes were taking place in conflict areas as well as in the homes of the victims. Gladys Fri Mbuya from Cameroon said that while many Americans hear only about rape and domestic violence from Africa in the conflict-ridden Congo, she said the problem is rampant across the continent. "It cannot be just Congo," said Mbuya. "Domestic violence I think is everywhere. And it is more rampant in Africa because of our culture. Basically it is encouraged by some households. You grow up, you see your parents fighting and you grow up thinking that fighting is a normal thing for families. They give the impression that your husband is like your father, he has the right to correct you, he has the right to beat you." Mbuya takes on many legal cases to protect women, and also hosts a weekly radio show for women's issues on her own time, but she says there is only so much she can do on her own. A new family legislative code has been years in the making in Cameroon, but so far it has yet to be completed. Mbuya says young women and teenagers are often sold into marriages, which quickly become abusive, and that there is not a single shelter in all of Cameroon, a country of nearly 20 million people. "You realize that they remain in those relationships because they do not have a way to hide," she said. "They do not know where to run to. They go to their parents, but their parents send them back because of the cultural mindset, they think it is right for your husband to beat you, they keep pushing them back. Some of them have actually expressed that if we knew where to go and hide we would leave this relationship."
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The Istanbul Convention: a landmark on the way to gender equality - The FINANCIAL

“Today the Council of Europe has established a crucial landmark on the way to ensuring the equal enjoyment of human rights by women and men,” said José Mendes Bota, Chairperson of PACE’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, speaking in Istanbul. He is taking part in the ceremony for the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. “Violence against women is a human rights violation which thrives on gender discrimination and unequal power relations between women and men in society. The Istanbul Convention places a powerful tool into the hands of states for eradicating this evil, saving millions of victims and delivering justice.” “I am delighted that 13 Council of Europe member states – including Turkey, the current Chair of the Committee of Ministers – have taken the lead in signing the Convention this morning. This is an important political sign that violence against women and domestic violence must end. I call on all Council of Europe member states and the European Union to become parties to our Convention as soon as possible, so that its great potential is exploited to the full.” “For its part, the PACE network of contact parliamentarians committed to combating violence against women stands ready to support the Istanbul Convention, with a view to promoting its signature, ratification and effective implementation by the largest possible number of states, and to carry out visibility and awareness-raising activities amongst the general public.”
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Gender equality bill passes first legislative hurdle - Taiwan Today

Gender equality bill passes first legislative hurdleTaiwan Today“Improving gender equality is one of the major goals of our nation,” Shen Ssu-tsun, deputy minister of foreign affairs, told the committee.
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Women's rights advocate receives death threat (Egypt)

Women's rights advocate receives death threat (Egypt) | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
An Egyptian women's rights activist said she received a death threat because of a statement she made about the consequences of canceling the law that gives women the right to initiate divorce.  Nehad Abul Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR), filed a report about the incident with the attorney general's office on Sunday. On 14 April, Abul Komsan told Al-Masry Al-Youm that canceling the khul, the law that gives women the right to divorce their husbands, would be a major setback for women's rights in Egypt. Egypt adopted a form of the Islamic law in 2000. She said the letter she received included abusive words and insults against her and that the sender identified himself as the "northern region's enforcer for the religious discipline monitoring group." The attorney general's office manager heard Abul Komsan's account and referred her complaint to the district attorney as a step toward investigating the incident. Abul Komsan said she was not panicked by the letter but reported the incident because of its potential danger. "Has Egypt become divided into regions and emirates?" she wondered. The Arab Organization for Human Rights on Monday issued a statement that condemned the threat and asked for protection for Abul Komsan. It urged human rights organizations to voice solidarity with women's rights.
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New Attacks on Women's Rights (USA)

New Attacks on Women's Rights (USA) | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
With the help of 16 Democrats, House Republicans passed a bill the other day with the narrow-seeming title of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The measure, which came just weeks after the furor over failed Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, is a slightly modified version of a terrible bill proposed last year by Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican of New Jersey. It is far more sweeping than its title suggests. In fact, the bill is not really about federal financing for abortion or even preventing insurers from offering any abortion coverage on the insurance exchanges created as part of federal health care reform. The federal Hyde Amendment has long barred federal financing of abortion, and the burdensome rules for segregating an individual's premium payments from government subsidies already seems destined to discourage insurers from offering abortion coverage on the exchanges. The Smith bill imposes new limitations on abortion access by driving to end abortion insurance coverage in the private market using the nation's tax system as a weapon.
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A Few Brave Women Dare Take Wheel in Defiance of Saudi Law Against Driving

A Few Brave Women Dare Take Wheel in Defiance of Saudi Law Against Driving | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Manal, a 32-year-old woman, is planning something she’s never done openly in her native Saudi Arabia: Get in her car and take to the streets, defying a ban on female drivers in the kingdom. Manal and ten other people are organizing a campaign on Facebook and Twitter urging Saudi women with international driver’s licenses to join them starting June 17, risking their jobs and their freedom. The coordinated plan isn’t a protest, she said. “I’m doing it because I’m frustrated, angry and mad,” Manal, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said in an interview from the eastern city of Dhahran. “It’s 2011 and we’re still discussing this insignificant right for women.” The risk the women are willing to take underscores both their exasperation with the restrictions and the infectious nature of the changes sweeping the region. Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s biggest oil reserves, so far has avoided the mass demonstrations that have toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and threaten officials in Libya, Yemen and Syria. “These events have taught Saudi women to join ranks and act as a team,” said Wajeeha al-Howeider, a Saudi women’s rights activist, in a telephone interview from Dhahran. “This is something they could only have learned from those revolutions.” Saudi Arabia enforces the ascetic Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. Women aren’t allowed to have a Saudi driver’s permit, even though some drive when they’re in the desert away from urban areas. They can’t travel or get an education without male approval or mix with unrelated men in public places. They aren’t permitted to vote or run as candidates in municipal elections, the only ones the kingdom allows. The last time a group of women publicly defied the driving ban was on Nov. 6, 1990, when U.S. troops had massed in Saudi Arabia to prepare for a war that would expel Iraq from Kuwait. The Saudi women were spurred by images of female U.S. soldiers driving in the desert and stories of Kuwaiti women driving their children to safety, and they were counting on the presence of international media to ensure their story would reach the world and lessen the repercussions, according to Noura Abdullah, 55. Abdullah was one of forty-seven drivers and passengers who stayed out for about an hour before being arrested. They were banned from travel for a year, lost their jobs for 2 1/2 years and were condemned by the powerful clergy as harlots.
The campaign has received the support of some Saudi men. Ahmad al-Yacoub, 24, a Dhahran-based businessman, said he’s joined the effort because “these ladies are not fighting with religion or the government.” “They are asking for a simple right that they want to practice freely without being harassed or questioned,” al- Yacoub said. Ghada Abdul-Latif, a 31-year-old rights activist, said she will support the effort by filming it and posting it online; she won’t drive for fear of being jailed before her wedding in June. “It is a courageous campaign,” said Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi historian. “It feels so weird to consider such a human right a courageous movement. But it is in a country such as Saudi Arabia, which is trying to live against the current and life and history.”
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Uganda Protests, Walk to work

Uganda Protests, Walk to work | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Hundreds of women donned in white yesterday carried cooking utensils including empty saucepans, mortars and spoons, which they tapped with sticks. Others carried placards calling for immediate government action on high food prices and other basic commodities. The women also condemned the recent brutality displayed by police and other security operatives while handling walk-to-work campaigners. “In a country without bread, bullets cannot be food, Respect women’s bodies during arrest, Women of Uganda want peace, and stop shooting our babies,” the women said in some of the messages carried on their placards. Their peaceful demonstration yesterday depicted a change of style by the police in handling public protests which hitherto had been marred by violent confrontations as police tried to stop the protests. Activists for Change (A4C), a new pressure group behind the walk-to-work campaign last month launched protests against government opulence in the face of a crumbling health sector, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and corruption. The protests were, however, met with ruthless brutality. At least 10 lives have been lost, most of them due to gunshot wounds. The violence has, however, faded this week, as police deployed but did not stop any of the opposition leaders walking to work. Gen. Kayihura yesterday said police is responding to a call by Parliament for restraint. As a result, the women yesterday marched from Kiira grounds through Kitante, to Yusuf Lule Road and back to Kiira Police Station where they held a rally condemning the use of copious amounts of teargas on demonstrators. Ms Rita Achiro, the Uganda Women Network (UWONET)executive director, said the match is a peaceful show of the women’s demand to the government for accountability. “This is not a politically motivated march and that’s why we are dressed in white because white shows peace, we demand strong policy measures to address issues of food security, unemployment, health and education,” read part of the statement later handed over to Ms Margaret Ssekaggya the UN rapporteur on Human Rights.
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Courageous Afghan separates rights from wrongs

Courageous Afghan separates rights from wrongs | Women of The Revolution | Scoop.it
Violence and corruption have not dimmed Sima Samar’s optimism about human rights, writes BEN FARMERin Kabul.SIMA SAMAR receives a threatening phone call almost every day because she dares to say women should have rights and murderers should face justice. The harassment is not from Taliban rebels, but from the former warlords of Hamid Karzai’s western-bankrolled government who want her silenced. They are angered by her suggestions that Afghanistan can have peace only if past outrages are acknowledged, if the rule of the gun is ended and the powerful abide by the law. Their threats are evidence that even the most basic human rights are rejected by many powerful figures nearly 10 years after the Taliban regime was ousted with promises of a bright democratic future. In such a climate, being Afghanistan’s most prominent advocate for human rights is a dangerous role. “In a country like Afghanistan, where people still hold guns or run illegal armed groups and the rule of law is not in place yet, it’s not an easy job,” the 54-year-old doctor acknowledges with some understatement. “You just increase the daily danger for yourself when you talk against these powerful people and warlords.” As if to underline her words, the fortified Kabul office of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, where she talked to The Irish Times, is ringed by blast walls and secured by armed guards.
Her role as chair of the commission follows 30 years of similarly confrontational work as head of her own Shuhada charity educating and treating Afghan women. Her career has earned a string of international awards and last year saw her tipped as a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner. The prize went to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, but in January the Tipperary Peace Convention added to Samar’s awards with its 2010 international peace prize. Announcing the award, the convention said Samar had “devoted her life to fighting for freedom and democracy in Afghanistan, putting her life in immense risk and overcoming numerous obstacles for the welfare of oppressed women and children”. “She has led a life full of firsts, displaying remarkable courage and commitment in improving the lives of Afghan girls and women and has refused to yield on principle – even at the risk to her own life.” The prize will give her “more courage to continue the work I am doing for human rights and peace in a country like Afghanistan”, she says graciously, and she intends to visit Ireland to collect it next month. Sadly, she and her small band of fellow human rights advocates may need all the help they can get in the coming years.
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