mutilation

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More sterilizations of HIV-positive women uncovered

"A lot of women didn't know it was wrong that they'd been sterilized."

JOHANNESBURG, 30 August 2010 (PlusNews) - Veronica* did not realize she had been sterilized while giving birth to her daughter until four years later when, after failing to conceive, she and her boyfriend consulted a doctor.

"I was like 'Okay, fine', because there was nothing I could do by then, but I was angry. I hate [those nurses]," she told IRIN/PlusNews. Veronica tested HIV-positive during a routine antenatal visit and was given a form to sign by nurses at the hospital where she went to deliver.

"I didn't know what it was all about, but I did sign," said Veronica, who was 18 at the time and had been scolded by the nurses for being unmarried.

She vaguely recalls being unconsciousness and then coming to and giving birth to her daughter, but did not ask questions about the cut on her abdomen. "My aunt - she's a nurse - went there and asked them what the cut was all about. They didn't answer her; they said it was private and confidential."

Veronica, who is now 28 and working for an HIV/AIDS home-based care programme in Orange Farm, an impoverished township south of Johannesburg, is among a growing number of women in South Africa and other countries in the region who have come forward in the last few years with similar stories of forced or coerced sterilization after an HIV-positive test result.

Local rights groups in Namibia, with the support of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, have helped uncover 15 such cases, and a trial involving three HV-positive women who say they were sterilized at public health facilities without their consent is due to resume on 1 September in the High Court.

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U.N. Weighs Sanctions Against Perpetrators of DRC Mass Rapes

By Aprille Muscara

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 8, 2010 (IPS) - The U.N. Security Council is considering leveraging sanctions against the perpetrators of the mass rapes that occurred last month in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a meeting held on the recent violence Tuesday.

"From the U.S. point of view, we will take up the mantle of leadership… in ensuring that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable, including through our efforts in the sanctions committee – to add them to the list that exists and to ensure that they are sanctioned," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after the meeting.

Over 500 rapes have now been confirmed in the North and South Kivu provinces since Jul. 30, with scores more unconfirmed and still others certainly unreported, according to the deputy head of the U.N. peacekeeping department, Atul Khare, who briefed the council during the meeting. Khare was dispatched to the DRC after reports of the recent violence in the country surfaced in the media two weeks ago.

Members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, known by their French acronym FDLR, and the Mai Mai Cheka rebel groups systematically gang raped over 242 women during a four-day raid of 13 villages in the North Kivu province beginning Jul. 30. According to MONUSCO, the U.N.'s peacekeeping force in the DRC, they are believed to have continued their pillaging spree after 75 subsequent rapes were confirmed in neighbouring areas.

And in South Kivu, over 214 rapes of men, women and children as young as seven years old have been confirmed, with reports of the systematic rape of every woman in the village of Kiluma yet to be corroborated, Khare said. Included in this figure are 10 rapes committed by the official Congolese armed forces, known as the FARDC.

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Are Namibian Women Being Forcibly Sterilised?*

By Servaas van den Bosch

REHOBOTH, Namibia, Jun 1, 2010 (IPS)- A landmark court case, alleging that HIV-positive women were forcibly sterilised in Namibian state hospitals begins in Windhoek's High Court on Jun. 1. Human rights groups claim the practice has continued long after the authorities were notified.

The Windhoek-based Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) is litigating 15 alleged cases of forced sterilisation. Three women's cases will be heard initially. Each woman is demanding the equivalent of 132,000 U.S dollars in damages.

The sterilisations were first uncovered by the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW).

"The first cases emerged during community meetings in early 2008. In the months that followed we interviewed 230 women, 40 of whom were sterilised against their will," says the ICW's Veronica Kalambi.

"In August 2008 we formally alerted the ministry during a meeting with the deputy Minister."

Although the State will argue that consent forms were signed in all three cases, the women’s lawyers maintain the process necessary for "informed consent" was not followed and the women were coerced, or did not understand the procedure.

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Emergency hotline for female genital mutilation started in EU

With SOS, the FGM Task Force now has a child protection project started, which is unique in Germany and Europe.  It focuses on the concrete protection of girls from a very specific violence: female genital mutilation.

In Germany alone, need up to 50,000 under-age girls are classified as endangered.  Up to 80% of these girls actually are subjected to the mutilation.  To protection, they could not count so far with few exceptions.

The experience of recent years have shown that people who have specific information about planned or have already become committed genital mutilation, often do not know whom they can turn to.  Even authorities and youth respond often uncertain and hesitant when girls at risk must be protected.

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Study shows: Majority of Kurdish Women in Iraq Victims of Genital Mutilation

Arbil (Iraq) | Berlin: On the occasion of the International Action Day against Female Genital Mutilation, a representative empirical study on Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan is going to be presented on February 6.

A 40 page report summarizes the results of a one-and-a-half year empirical study conducted by the German relief organization WADI.  The numbers presented in the report are alarming: A vast majority of women in Iraqi-Kurdistan have undergone FGM with some regions reaching a top ratio of more than 80 percent.

The study provides comprehensive evidence on the underlying dynamics of FGM and helps understand, why mothers who themselves experienced the horror of mutilation allow FGM to be practiced on their daughters. A vast majority of women who adhere to the practice believe it to be a religious obligation in Islam. Others refer to tradition and state that  "it has always been like that ".

The study also shows a clear correlation between the level of education and the attitude towards FGM. Still, the FGM rate amongst university graduates is around 30 percent. But it becomes clear that with an increasing social status, women are more likely to question harmful traditions and alleged religious obligations.

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Indian Gov't to make honour killing heinous crime

By Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times

The government is set to amend the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code to define honour killing as a heinous crime by adding a new section to the criminal law, with punishment ranging from life imprisonment to even a death sentence.

The move follows the growing demands to curb the social menace of killing young girls defying their families in marriage related issues, in some north Indian states particularly Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

So far, honour killing is not a classified crime in India, and no separate data is available of such cases with the National Crime Records Bureau.

The proposal moved by Home Ministry, has been cleared by the Law Ministry and the government is likely to move a Bill in Parliament in the coming Budget session, after getting the cabinet nod.

“We have completed our preparations to put in place a strong deterrent against the pervert practice of honour killings not only against those who carry it out, but against those who abet it also,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily told Hindustan Times.

The government has shelved its plan to bring a fresh law to curb such killings, and has decided to amend the IPC, the law that prescribes punishment for criminal offences.

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Agencies Unite Against Female Circumcision

By Irene Nabusoba ( New Vision)

THE United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have launched a joint programme to end female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2012.

FGM involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia commonly practiced as a cultural passage to womanhood by some ethnic groups in Uganda.

The practice causes immense pain, bleeding, infection, abscess plus shock, sometimes leading to death.

Speaking during a half-day event to mark the alliance at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, UNFPA’s country director Janet Jackson said the five-year programme will cost $43.5m (about sh82.7b).

The regional initiative is being implemented in 17 African nations.

“Research shows that there are specific elements that need to be in place to support acceleration of abandonment of FGM. Among them is a supportive environment at national level, community empowerment activities and support by religious leaders,” Jackson said.

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