Hey folks; I'm trying out something new and hope to do occasional Women's Rights Wednesday publications here -- let me know what you think and whether you have suggestions for other specific human rights topics I could cover in specialized weekly columns like this one. As always, thanks for your participation and feedback!
Geraldine Ferraro died this past week; she was the first female candidate for Vice President of the United States, running with Walter Mondale in 1984 on the Democratic ticket. That run paved the way for female politicians in local, state and national elections ever since. Her New York Times obituary is online here, the Economist's is here and the Guardian's is here.
• Egypt = Women must be involved in the rebuilding of Egypt; they were excluded from the official constitutional amendment process on 19th March, which included the passage of a provision which could be interpreted to mean that only men are eligible for the office of President. Women, who were active and equal participants in the protests and demonstrations, must be included in the parliamentary and presidential elections as both candidates and voters. Citizens – men and women – fought for a free democratic nation and a new Egypt, and all must be included in the nation building. Women demonstrators on International Women's Day were attacked and told to go home and feed their babies, told that they were not proper Egyptians, and “now” is not the time to pursue women's issues. (HRW)
• Egypt = Twice in one week, Egypt? Bummer. But that's what you get when you require female protestors to undergo virginity tests. As an Amnesty rep said, “women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt and protest against the government without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment.” Having government security forces check your privates to determine whether or not you are sexually active reeks of torture, degradation and discrimination to me. (AI)
• Gambia = A gathering this week brought together leaders, advocates and security officers to discuss the implementation of women's rights in Gambia, on issues including gender-based violence and the Women's Act of 2010. The goal was to educate young people about their rights and the government's obligations toward them. (AA)
• Somalia = A class at the Burtinle Secondary School is involved in a pilot program called the Management of Maturation Project which gives teenagers life-skills classes and tries to prevent school drop-outs, especially of girls. The programming discusses questions such as why girls are most likely to drop out of school (the girls voted for early marriage as the most common reason, while boys thought it was menstruation) and encourages debate in general. (UNICEF)
• USA = Walmart is involved in a massive class action suit regarding the allegation that female employees have been subject to a discriminatory policy which determined pay increases and promotion potential. (BHR)
• Guatamala = Canadian company HudBay Minerals is accused in the deaths of eleven indigenous Mayan women who were allegedly gang-raped by mining company security officers, police and military personnel who helped expel the Mayan Q'eqchi community from their homes to make room for HudBay's Fenix mining project. (BHR)
• USA = In Texas, an eleven year old was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by at least 19 men. Why do we live in world where 19 men think it is ok to have sex with a child? What can we do to address this? (NYT)
• European Court of Justice = The Court recently decided that it was “inadmissible for car insurance providers to take into account sex-specific differences” in determining insurance rates; men's rates will remain the same and womens rates will increase to match the mens. (ADB)
• UK = The Whitehall government post dedicated to preventing female genital mutilation on girls in the UK is being abolished, to the chagrin of charities and campaigners. Over 20,000 girls in the UK are in danger of having FGM forced upon them. (GRD)
• Libya = On 26th March Attorney Eman al-Obeidi burst into Hotel Rixos in Tripoli where foreign journalists were staying and, appearing bruised and battered, told the journalists that she had been raped by 15 men in Qadaffi's security forces. She had time to show the media her bruised face, thigh, and rope-burn marks on her hands and feet. She was then forcibly removed by security forces and journalists who tried to come to her aid were beaten. She has not been seen since, and the government, which has changed its version of events several times, is investigating her for possible defamation of its forces, claiming she is a mentally ill prostitute (as though that would make the beatings tolerable). Her mother is supporting Eman's claims, saying she is not ashamed of her daughter, but is holding her head up high because her daughter has shown she is willing to break a barrier by talking publicly about being sexually assaulted. She is not the only woman imprisoned, or in danger, as many women who support the rebels have been raped or threatened with rape for their involvement in the protests. (AI, HRW, FIDH)
If you are on facebook and feel so moved, you can support her cause there.
ALSO OF INTEREST:
• Forbes recently posted this article, on The Power of Investing in Women.
• This event at John Jay College looks interesting: Mona Eltahawy is giving a free lecture on Islam, Women and the American Experience tomorrow, Thursday March 31st at 6:30pm.
• Sarah Degnan Kambou writes about why she is committed to ending child marriage here.