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Safer sex for soccer fans and sex workers

CAPE TOWN, 8 December 2009 (PlusNews) - With only six months until South Africa hosts the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the nettlesome question of how to deal with sex workers looms.

"There are actually almost no sex work programmes in place at the moment," said Marlise Richter, a sex work researcher and member of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), at a recent consultation in Cape Town on HIV, sex work and the World Cup.

"If we look at healthcare-specific programmes [for sex workers], there's very little, and this is what we should be doing in terms of the National Strategic Plan [on AIDS]."

Public health and human rights experts fear a potential disaster in the combination of a criminalized sex trade, one of the world's highest HIV infection rates, and the arrival of an expected 450,000 soccer fans.

The consultation, co-sponsored by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and SANAC, brought together civil society, government, and other key players to discuss the potential impact of the World Cup on the local population, with a particular focus on developing strategies to address HIV risk in the context of sex work.

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Updates from "One Day One Struggle"

On November 9, 2009, a diverse group of nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions and activists across the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia carried out bold events to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights. As part of the historic international campaign “One Day One Struggle” organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), over 20 organizations held simultaneous public demonstrations and meetings to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights and sexuality is not a private issue but a site of political struggle.

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North African women at forefront of legal reform

Fez, Morocco - Women in North Africa have made tremendous progress in promoting and upholding their rights. Women in this region—commonly known as the Maghreb—are at the forefront of the Arab world in terms of individual rights and gender equality, and constitute models for other Arab women to follow.  A number of lessons may be drawn from the inspiring experience of women in North Africa, especially in Morocco and Tunisia.

Access to justice has been greatly facilitated by the new Family Courts in Morocco as necessitated by the Moroccan Family Code of 2004.  When women marry, they are now able to retain ownership of their property thanks to Article 49 of the code, which allows for a separate contract on property alongside the marriage contract.  This is in accordance with Islamic law, in which women may remain the sole owners of their property and have no legal obligation to share it with their husbands.

In addition, mothers married to foreign nationals in Morocco and Tunisia can now pass on their citizenship to their children—a privilege previously allowed only to men.

The countries of the Maghreb have made significant headway in combating violence against women.  Almost all Arab countries have signed the most important international convention that bans such violence, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), with exceptions to articles that clashed with a literal interpretation of the Islamic law.  But Morocco has recently agreed to the convention in full.
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UN-INSTRAW's 3rd Virtual Dialogue

The experts in UN-INSTRAW’s Gender Training Community of Practice will meet virtually to discuss about the empowerment of women for their leadership and political participation.
The Third Virtual Dialogue aims to gather more information about the current situation of gender training in this area and to offer a platform where gender training specialists and researchers can exchange their experiences and outline the major achievements, challenges and lessons learned.

In the last decade women’s participation in Latin America has grown in average from 9% to 14% in ministerial positions, from 5% to 13% in senate and from 8% to 15% in lower chambers. At the same time, this increase in political participation has seen a parallel loss of credibility of the traditional political participation systems, a gap that has partly been filled by social movements, including women’s movements. In this new democratic wave, women have flourished as voters with decision making power, political leaders and coordinators of grass roots movements.

However, there are still many challenges to reach gender equality in political participation world-wide. Women still remain underrepresented in decision-making and leadership positions; in the field of economics, finance and in political institutions; and even in civil society organizations.
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"It's about civil rights, stupid!" 10 y/o boy defends sit-down campaign of Pledge

This week, a 10 year old boy in Arkansas, named Will Phillips began a sit-down campaign protesting the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  He noted that the term "liberty and justice for all" excludes LGBTQI people in this country and therefore refuses to participate in stating that it exists.

It is inspiring to see and hear from the young minds will replace the hypocritical, deceitful, divisive, greedy hate-mongers that now shove their agenda down our throats.  I'm glad to know that when the "Blue Dogs" and GOPosaurs are gone from the public discourse and the halls of power, these minds will take their place. 

Will gave a speech to describe his intentions and to clarify his position at a recent gathering.  Thankfully, it was recorded.  Watch, listen and celebrate human decency and hope for our shared human future.

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Sex Worker’s Outreach Project - Tucson

Please Join Us December 17, 2009 for the
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Event in Tucson, Arizona!

In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence.  Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.”  While some of these horrific stories received international media attention (Boston, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Tijuana, Hong Kong, Moscow, Great Britain, Cape Town, New Zealand), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation.  Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever.

In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported.  Stigma and decriminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can't turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves.  Sex workers remain one of the largest marginalized populations in existence without the benefit of the basic civil rights that everyone else takes for granted.

Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Tucson, Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who have been victimized by virtue of their chosen profession - including rape, assault and murder.

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Shelly Goldstein sings: Stupid Callous Homophobic Hateful Legislation

Shelly Goldstein sings a comic parody about gay marriage equality.

Lyric by Shelly Goldstein, Piano: Gil Leib. Videographer: David Shine, Graphics by Rob Fiedler. Bark by Bella Lyczkowski.

ALL RESPECT TO THE ORIGINAL GORGEOUS SONG by RMS and RBS. No insult or infringement intended

Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/groovyshelly

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"CEDAW is UNIFEM'S Entry Point"

Andrea Borde interviews JOANNE SANDLER, Deputy Executive Director, UNIFEM*

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 9 (IPS) - On Sep. 14, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly adopted a resolution that opened the door for the creation of a new U.N. agency specifically for women.

It will draw together under one umbrella all of the existing entities for women in the U.N. - U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Training and Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI).

The new women's entity comes at a particularly exciting time in the women's empowerment movement at the U.N. as another report has just been released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) highlighting the lack of women's control over economic and financial resources in both the developing and developed world.

The U.N. World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2009, published by UNDESA addresses increasingly progressive issues such as women's unpaid work in the household, the urgency of women's financial empowerment, especially in current times of economic turmoil, and the long-standing inequalities of women in care giving, the labour market and within central financial institutions of the state such as financial ministries and central banks.

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New Site Details Abuse of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Yana Buhrer Tavanier is a freelance journalist from Sofia, Bulgaria.  She has been working on a project to detail the abuse of adults institutionalized in Bulgaria, Romania & Serbia.

She has set up a blog to help release the information in text and images called Dumping Grounds for People.  It is by far, the most powerful site I have seen this year.  Human beings stripped of identity, dignity, care and respect.  These are mothers, brothers, daughters and friends - abandoned to squalor, poison and disease until their bodies finally decay and fail.

Here is a preview from this video portion of this project. [trigger warning]


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2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development

Women's control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance

Women’s equal access to and control over economic and financial resources is critical for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women and for equitable and sustainable economic growth and development.  Gender equality in the distribution of economic and financial resources has positive multiplier effects for a range of key development goals, including poverty reduction and the welfare of children.  Both microlevel efficiency results through increased household productivity and macroefficiency results through positive synergies between indicators of gender equality and economic growth have been recorded.  Development rationales for enhancing women’s access to economic and financial resources include women’s role as “safety net of last resort” in economic downturns.

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