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War, Tradition Feeds Sexual Violence Against Women

Tribal customs and the legacy of conflict put women at risk of violence and abuse.

By Heritier Maila in Lubumbashi (IPR)

Simone Maganga still feels deep shame when she recalls how, after her husband died, she was obliged to have sex with his younger brother in order to lay the spirit of the deceased to rest.

“In order to remove your husband's dead body from your body, you must sleep with his little brother,” said Maganga, a member of the Hemba tribe in the south-east of the country.  “Otherwise, you are told, you will start to see your husband wherever you go. Out of fear, we accept, but it is a humiliation that is difficult to forget.”

Maganga found the ordeal particularly difficult to cope with because her husband's brother is roughly the same age as her own son. She also suffered other hardships, such as not washing for 40 days and having very little to eat.

“The food you get depends on the goodwill of your husband’s family,” she explained. “Sometimes, I had to spend two or three days without food.”

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Maids, Condoms and Kerosene in Ethiopia

The anecdotal evidence is that many domestic workers become sex workers

ADDIS ABABA, 2 October 2009 (PlusNews) - The life of a domestic worker in Ethiopia is rarely an easy one. Often escaping a deeply impoverished existence in the rural areas, these women find themselves in employment hundreds of miles away from their hometowns as maids – or serategnas in the national language, Amharic.

A lack of education, minimal opportunity for normal interaction with society and anecdotal evidence of sexual activity and abuse have led health workers to classify domestic workers as a high-risk group for the contraction of HIV. To begin to address this issue, a pilot project was recently completed by the Washington DC-headquartered social marketing organization, DKT-Ethiopia, and the French oil company, TOTAL.

Dubbed Condoms and Kerosene, the project involved setting up an HIV/AIDS awareness and demonstration site at the Lions' TOTAL Station in Siddist Kilo, north of the capital, Addis Ababa, with the idea of reaching domestic workers at one of the few places they regularly visited outside work.

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No climate justice without gender justice

Momentum is building for gender equity as today more than one hundred women from Asia and around the world voiced a call for gender justice to be included in the next international climate agreement.

The demonstration took place outside the current UN negotiations in Bangkok in an attempt to put much-needed pressure on the delegates to think ‘gender smart’.

“Women from around the world today rallied in front of the UN building in Bangkok, reminding delegates negotiating the post-2012 deal that there can be no climate justice without gender justice,” said Christina Chan, Senior Policy Analyst for CARE International and stresses, that currently the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the only legally binding agreement resulting from the1992 Earth Summit that does not incorporate gender equity.

Women constitute the majority of the world’s poor. They often lack the resources and assets they need to build their resilience to a changing climate such as land, credit, access to support services, new technologies and a place in decision-making bodies.

“The result of women’s vulnerability becomes all too visible when climate disasters occur. More women are injured or killed during hurricanes, floods and cyclones. They are less likely to hear official warnings and to be able to swim or to escape quickly, especially if carrying young children. They are also less mobile then men, confined to their homes,” said Chan, but stressed that poor women serve as important agents of change and play a key role in helping their families and communities adapt to climate change. She explained that in developing countries, women are often the main providers of the most essential livelihood sources; water, food and fuel. As a result, they possess knowledge on effective and innovative solutions to the growing problems associated with a changing climate.

However, according to CARE the world’s poor women often lack access to information and opportunity to feed their knowledge and experience into community, national and global level adaptation and mitigation strategies.

“This jeopardises larger processes of reducing climate change and its impacts. Well designed, top-down approaches to adaptation can play a role in reducing vulnerability to climate change; yet they may fail to address the particular needs and concerns of women,” said Chan from CARE and underlines: “The global deal must prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable people, and ensure that they have a voice in shaping the world's response to climate change. Women are especially vulnerable. Their lives and livelihoods hang on this deal.”

(Source: CARE International)

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Ethnic Minorities More Gender Divided in VietNam

By Helen Clark

CAO BANG, Vietnam, Oct 2 (IPS) - A drunk man slaps his wife, she hits the ground and the audience of mainly women laughs.  At a question and answer session that follows in Tay, one of the many ethnic minority languages, women stand up to talk at length about why husbands shouldn't hit their wives and why, as women, they deserve equal respect.

The open-air show at a weekly market in northern Cao Bang province is Vietnam government- and NGO-sponsored propaganda for minorities like the Tay.  It has been created with the aim of informing far-flung communities of the country's law against domestic violence and to help improve gender relations here.

Plays with a message are rare in this communist country.  Usually commune-level officials read out government directives, in Vietnamese, to bored audiences.  Many ethnic groups such as the H'Mong and Dao, especially the women, are not fluent in Vietnamese.

In 2006, an Italian non-governmental organisation (NGO) Gruppo de Volontariato Civile used theatre as a means of communication for the first time in Vietnam.  The concept has been repackaged as a 'gender caravan' now by Swiss NGO Helvetas in partnership with the Women's Union (WU), a government women's organisation with branches in every province in the country.

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Gender Campus: Tools for gender-sensitive planning and implementation

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to development and peace. The new aid effectiveness agenda must offer opportunities to strengthen action towards the MDGs and gender equality.

The global development agenda: tools for gender-sensitive planning and implementation

Second Edition - download course information in English 111.77 Kb

Applications are open from 25 - 30 September, 2009

Attendance grants are subject to timely submission of the candidate's application form and its acceptance by the Selection Committee.

Apply now!

More details on this online course:


Gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to development and peace. The new aid effectiveness agenda must offer opportunities to strengthen action towards the MDGs and gender equality.

The overall purpose of this online course is to create greater awareness of these opportunities and initiate further action at the national and the international levels.

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Transsexuals Take Position against Chief of Police Hüseyin Çapkın

By  Bawer ÇAKIR bawer@bianet.org

(BiaNet - ISTANBUL) About 100 people protested in Istanbul's district of Beyoğlu, claiming that the pressure on tansvestites and transsexuals has increased ever since Hüseyin Çapkın became Chief of Police.

Click here to visit the photo gallery.

The Istanbul LGTB Initiative and the Labor Movement Party organized a demonstration in Istanbul's busy district of Beyoğlu to draw attention to the oppression and applications against transvestites and transsexuals enforced by Chief of Police Hüseyin Çapkın during the last days.

The transsexuals and transvestites argued in the meeting in the early evening hours on 28 September that every day arbitrary fines have been issued to them under the excuse of disturbing the environment. They announced that they are not going to give way to these applications.

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Aceh government rejects Shariah bylaw

The Aceh provincial government says it will not sign the controversial bylaw; Indonesia's Home Minister Mardiyanto: The new bylaw would be “detrimental” to the Acehnese and would “frighten” visitors and investors.

The Aceh provincial government says it will not sign the controversial Shariah (Islamic) bylaw (qanun) allowing adulterers to be stoned to death and homosexuals whipped, the Jakarta Post reported.
The report last Friday quoted Hamid Zein, the head of the legal bureau of the Aceh governor's office, as saying on Thursday that the administration has firmly rejected the bylaw passed by the legislative council on Sep 14.
"As long as the executive and legislative bodies do not settle differences in the application of [capital punishment by] stoning, the Aceh government will not sign the bylaw," Hamid said.
Aceh, an autonomous province and the country’s only province with special provisions allowing it to have Islamic Sharia-based laws.
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Decriminalisation of Homosexuality is Not "Some Kind of Democracy"

New UN Assembly President Treki's Statements on LGBTI Rights and Decriminalisation of Homosexuality is Not "Some Kind of Democracy"

ILGA is deeply worried and outraged by UN Assembly new President Ali Abdussalam Treki's failure to consider the protection of the life and safety of lesbians, gay men, trans, intersex and bisexual people all over the world a matter of human rights.

In an interview prior to his first address to the UN Assembly in his new role, Mr Treki declared himself to be "not in favour at all" with reference to the Statement in favour of the decriminalisation of homosexuality signed by 66 Countries and read by the Argentinian representative last December at the General Assembly in New York.

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Is the Women’s Cause in Jordan a Lost One?

Written by Abdullah Omar(Media Line)

Women say discrimination and barriers still abound despite major reforms.

[Amman, Jordan] Pleading to be re-united with her six-year-old daughter, Afaf could not help her tears from flowing down the thick layers of make-up covering her face.
  The 23-year-old woman divorced her abusive husband after three years of marriage, taking advantage of some rare legislation that empowers women in this male dominated society and allows them to divorce their husbands.

"My family turned against me after I filed for divorce. Police were even supportive of my husband when I spoke out against him," Afaf told The Media Line.  Uneducated, married at the age of sixteen and divorced at nineteen, Afaf turned to prostitution.

"My husband used to beat me unconscious. He used to imprison me at home and if I complained to my family, they would tell me he is your husband and you must be patient," added Afaf, who lost custody of her daughter after the lawsuit against her husband.

Afaf said she tried to do many jobs, but was unable to keep one.

"When you take a decision to divorce your husband, the whole society stands against you," said Afaf, who has not seen her daughter for over a year.

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American Labor Movement Calls for Full Inclusion of LGBT Workers

AFL-CIO Convention Passes Historic Resolution on Diversity



PITTSBURGH, PA -- If there were any doubts that the American labor movement stands strongly in favor of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) rights, they were set to rest the minute former United Mine Workers president Richard L. Trumka took the podium last Wednesday as the newly elected President of the AFL-CIO. Speaking at the labor federation's quadrennial national convention, the feisty third-generation coal miner issued a clear call for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voices in the labor movement and American life.

"What does labor want?" Trumka asked the 3,000 elected delegates and guests gathered in Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center. "We want a nation where it doesn't matter what the color of your skin is...or what sex or religion you are...or whether you're gay or straight or what country your family's from because here, in America, we believe everyone ought to have their chance to step into the winner's circle."


Trumka's election, along with the selection of 39 year old Liz Shuler as the AFL-CIO's new Secretary-Treasurer and the return of Arlene Holt Baker as the labor federation's Executive Vice President, capped a week that LGBT activists called historic. Delegates to the convention, elected to represent 11.5 million members across the country, repeatedly included issues of concern to the LGBT community during debates and speeches, including marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ( ENDA ) . President Barack Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Caroline Kennedy were among the guest speakers at the convention, which marked a high point in the labor movement's commitment to LGBT equality.

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