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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

November 25 - December 10, 2009

What is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign?

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. 

The 16 Days Campaign has been commemorated by individuals and groups around the world who use a human rights framework to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

raising awareness at the local, national, regional and international levels

strengthening local work

linking local and global work

providing a forum for dialogue and strategy-sharing

pressuring governments to implement commitments made in national and

international legal instruments

demonstrating the solidarity of activists around the world

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Women Judges Not Enough; Gender Awareness Training Needed

By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Sep 21 (IPS) - For Argentina’s justice system to truly incorporate a gender perspective, more important than overcoming the male-female imbalance in the higher rungs of the judicial branch is providing gender-awareness training for judges of both sexes so that it is reflected in their rulings, experts say.

"We’re not satisfied with the number of women currently holding positions in the justice system, but if what we want is for rulings to have a gender perspective, then what we need to do is provide training for both women and men judges," said Natalia Gherardi, head of Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA), a Buenos Aires-based non-governmental organisation that promotes the incorporation of gender awareness in public policies, focusing on the justice system.

In a conversation with IPS, Gherardi said that in Argentina, like in the rest of Latin America, the proportion of women occupying positions in the judicial branch "is not representative of the number of women who graduate from law school," where for the past 20 years women have consistently outnumbered men.

However, few women law professionals make it to the highest-ranking positions in the judicial branch. In its 2005-2008 Gender and Human Rights Report, released on Sept. 7, ELA indicates that only 20 percent of the judges serving on the Supreme Court and the high courts of the country’s 23 provinces are women.

This figure does not reflect recent gains, such as the appointment of two women justices to the Supreme Court, or the setbacks in seven provinces - 30 percent of the country - where no women currently sit on the high courts.

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'I'm human, I’m not from Mars'

By Sophia Grootboom and Karabo Keepile (Mail & Guardian)

Many traditional African communities explain the birth of intersexed babies with cultural beliefs such as interventions by ancestors after the parents have broken customs. Sophia Grootboom and Karabo Keepile spoke to two intersexed Africans who have experienced severe discrimination and whose sexes were wrongly identified at birth

In the Heidelberg township community where 35-year-old Linda K lives, everyone -- including Linda K himself -- believes his parents got what they deserved.

He was born with a small vagina and a normal-sized penis and this is ascribed to the fact that his parents shared a surname and came from the same tribe, which is problematic as married couples should have different surnames and come from different tribes.

In Zulu culture, such marriages are forbidden, and “bad things will happen to you if you break the rules,” said Linda. His mother desperately wanted a daughter.

As a result, Linda was raised as Lindiwe, a girl, and had to endure years of mockery at school. “Schoolmates soon realised there was something different about me,” he said. “I was dressed in skirts, but acted like a boy. And I had two clear sets of genitals.”

When Linda joined the boys on the soccer field, they chased him away, shouting: “What are you? A girl? A boy? Or a homosexual?”

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11th Annual Matthew Shepard March is now Saturday, October 17th

This year's Matthew Shepard March for LGBT Freedom was originally moved to downtown Chicago and slated as a protest against the Chicago concert of "Kill Gays" performer Buju Banton on October 1st.

Since we have been successful in canceling this concert, we have moved the march back to its traditional location in Boystown and Wrigleyville, with a new date of October 17th. Here are the details:

7 PM
Saturday, October 17
Halsted & Roscoe 7 - 11
3407 N Halsted

The annual Shepard March memorializes the 1998 lynching of the gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who came to symbolize the vicious hatred and violence that many Americans still harbor against LGBT people.

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Migiro warns that economic turmoil has exacerbated violence against women

9 September 2009

The scourge of violence against women has worsened as a result of the global financial downturn over the past year, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today as she urged some of the world’s richest countries to lead the way in turning the many international pledges to support women and girls into concrete results.

In a keynote address in Rome to a ministerial-level conference on violence against women, being held under the auspices of the Italian presidency of the Group of Eight (G8), Ms. Migiro said there is evidence that women and girls are exposed to a greater risk of violence during times of hardship.

“We have seen rising levels of despair and frustration in families and communities around the world, exacerbating violence against women,” she said.

“In a recent survey of more than 630 domestic violence shelters in the United States, 75 per cent reported an increase in women seeking help for abuse since September 2008, coinciding with a major downturn in the US economy. We must remain especially vigilant through these tough times.”

Ms. Migiro detailed to the conference some of the steps taken by the UN to end violence against women and girls, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE campaign, which calls on world leaders to launch national campaigns aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

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Indian Government Defers Decision on 377 to Supreme Court

The government of India decided on September 17, 2009 that it will not oppose the Delhi High Court verdict on Section 377 of the Penal Code, which decriminalizes homosexuality by “reading down” the section pertaining to same-sex relations between consenting adults in private. Indian activists are praising this decision as a symbol of tacit support for decriminalization in this landmark case.

Following the High Court’s ruling on July 2, 2009, a panel composed of Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was assembled to consider the advantages and disadvantages of changing the law. After reviewing the findings of the panel, the government has opted not to join the appeal and to let the Supreme Court determine the “correctness” of the High Court’s ruling. Upon announcing the decision, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni added that the Cabinet would ask Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati to assist the Supreme Court in any way possible, suggesting that the government could still weigh in during the appeal.

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ACE Hosts LGBTI Dialogue With Human Rights Consultation

ACE Media Release, 10 September 2009

The Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) today hosted a meeting between members of the National Human Rights Consultation (NHRC) Committee and representatives of LGBTI organisations. The meeting provided the first opportunity for the committee to engage directly with the LGBTI* organisations before finalising its report on 30 September 2009.

Spokesperson Corey Irlam said ACE was pleased to provide the opportunity for a dialogue between the committee and community representatives.

“This consultation has the unique opportunity to strengthen the human rights of LGBTI Australians.”

“For example, after 14 years of discussion Australia still has very limited federal protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and no protections on the basis of gender identity or intersex. This committee’s recommendations will influence change in this area.”

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Gender Discrimination in Citizenship Rights

By Suad Hamada

MANAMA, Sep 17 (IPS) - There is inequality in citizenship laws for women and men in the Gulf Arab states.

Here in Bahrain, women who marry foreigners cannot obtain citizenship for their husbands or children. But men can apply for citizenship for their foreign wives after five years of marriage, while their children are nationals from birth.

In fact, citizenship laws are roughly similar in all the Gulf states, except in Saudi Arabia, where a small change was made in the law in 2007. Sons of citizen mothers and foreign fathers qualify for citizenship when they turn 18. The daughters, however, can become nationals only if they marry Saudis.

The discrimination in citizenship laws means there are "stateless" children in the Gulf. Bahrain has roughly 2,000. Kuwait 8,000, and the United Arab Emirates 14,000, according to its Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. As non-nationals, they cannot claim any of the generous social welfare measures legislated by Gulf governments for their citizens.

Recently, Bahrain extended the waiver on all government fees - for health services, visas, public schools etc. - for nationals to both stateless children and to children whose mothers are nationals and they are citizens of their father's country.

Activist Dr Wajiha Al Bahrana thinks little of the compromise concession. "Giving privileges to children of Bahraini mothers isn’t enough," she says. "They need to be treated like citizens for the country to meet its international obligations (read CEDAW)."

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ACAS Bulletin 83: Sexual and gender based violence in Africa

Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (ACAS)


This Bulletin began in response to news reports of “corrective” and “curative” gang rapes of lesbians in South Africa. These were then followed by news reports of a study in South Africa that found that one in four men in South Africa had committed rape, many of them more than once.

ACAS wanted to bring together concerned Africa scholars and committed African activists and practitioners, to help contextualize these reports. They wanted to address the ongoing situation of sexual and gender based violence on the continent, the media coverage of sexual and gender based violence in Africa, and possibilities for responses, however partial, that might offer alternatives to the discourse of the repeated profession of shock or the endless, and endlessly reiterated, cycle of lamentation.

To that end, ACAS has brought together writers of prose fiction (Megan Voysey-Braig), lawyer-advocates (Salma Maoulidi, Ann Njogu), poets (Chinwe Azubuike), trauma scholars (Sariane Leigh), human righs and women’s rights advocates (Michelle McHardy), gender and transgender advocates (Liesl Theron), activist researchers (Sasha Gear). These categories are fluid, since every writer here is involved in various activist projects, advocates in many ways. The writers do not pretend to `cover Africa’, and neither does the collection of their writings. The writings treat South Africa, Nigeria, Zanzibar, Kenya, Sierra Leone. They are meant to continue certain conversations, to initiate others.

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Sex, Lies & Children

By Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.


"Family Values groups and other opponents of free speech routinely use the terms 'pornography,' 'obscenity' and 'child pornography,' interchangeably, in the attempt to cause confusion in the mind of the public, and intentionally link perfectly legal content with evidence of a horrific crime."

A favorite trick of the censors in this country is to blur the lines between protected speech, in the form of adult erotica on the one hand, with patently illegal material, in the form of child pornography on the other, by mixing the two at every opportunity. Family Values groups and other opponents of free speech routinely use the terms "pornography," "obscenity" and "child pornography," interchangeably, in the attempt to cause confusion in the mind of the public, and intentionally link perfectly legal content with evidence of a horrific crime. The media often plays along, whether through ignorance or complicity, and refers to the new child porn arrest as a "Pornography Bust."

All of this helps convince the public through confusion, that pornography has something to do with abuse of children, and that all of it is probably illegal somehow. In some jurisdictions, law enforcement investigators seize every chance to mix these concepts in a blender, by charging defendants with obscenity as well as child pornography, no matter how remote the connection, or how strong the evidence. Some evidence of this can be found in a couple recent cases initiated by the Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd. This is the same Sheriff made famous by declaring that he had jurisdiction to regulate anything online, so long as it was available for download in Polk County, Florida. According to Judd:

"But it makes no difference, because if you fed that server or you could receive information off that server in this county, then it gives us jurisdiction. ... Technically I could charge someone in Kansas, if I received child pornography here, obtained a warrant and had him extradited from Kansas and tried here."

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