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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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UN Security Council Backs Advocate for Women in War Zones

By Suzanne Hoeksema

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 (IPS) - The U.N. Security Council Wednesday called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special representative to intensify efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in conflict situations.

Speaking as the current chair of the Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that, "The dehumanising nature of sexual violence does not just harm a single individual or a single family or even a single village or a single group - it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings, it endangers families and communities, erodes social and political stability, and undermines economic progress."

The resolution was sponsored by more than 60 countries, including Rwanda, Croatia and Bosnia, where rape was widely used as a weapon of war.

The special representative would oversee the implementation of two Security Council resolutions: 1325, passed in 2000, which urged to all parties in conflicts to "respect women's rights and increase their participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction processes"; and 1820, passed in 2008, which "affirmed the ambitions set out in 1325 and established a link between maintaining international peace and security".

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Women's Groups Take on Laws Based on Sex

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 (IPS) - When a landmark U.N. conference on women adopted a "platform for action" in Beijing in 1995, member states were urged to commit themselves to revoke all existing laws in their statute books that discriminate on the basis of sex.

But since the adoption of that resolution, human rights organisations and women's groups have unsuccessfully called for the appointment of a U.N. special rapporteur to specifically focus on laws that discriminate against women worldwide.

So far, the Human Rights Council in Geneva - and its predecessor the Human Rights Commission - have both sidestepped the proposal, arguing such a U.N. post is redundant.

Currently, there are more than 30 U.N. special rapporteurs either armed with thematic mandates (right to education, violence against women, human rights of migrants) or country mandates (human rights in Belarus, human rights in Sudan).

But the demand for a special rapporteur to probe gender-related discriminatory laws has failed to materialise.

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Deadgirl: You'll Never Have Anything Better

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    Iraq: The Womens Story

    Dispatches - Iraq: The Women's Story

    Producer/Director Fiona Campbell

    The invasion of Iraq heralded promises of freedom from tyranny and equal rights for the women of Iraq. But three years on, the reality of everyday life for women inside Iraq is a different story.

    To make this film, two Iraqi women risk their lives to spend three months travelling all over the country with a camera to record the lives and experiences of women they meet.

    Dispatches: Iraq: The Women's Story provides a compelling account of a life inside Iraq that is rarely seen on news bulletins: stories of ordinary women whose struggle to survive has only worsened since the war.

    Producer/Director Fiona Campbell

    A co-production with ITN Factual
    TX Channel 4 May 2006

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    Uganda women seek gender recovery plan

    By Wambi Michael

    KAMPALA, Sep 26 (IPS) - After two decades of war during which thousands of children were used as child soldiers and many women raped, Northern Uganda’s recovery plan is to be spent on building roads rather than helping the country’s most vulnerable.

    Civil society and women parliamentarians are not happy with the government and donors, as there are no concrete measures to meet gender-related concerns over the recovery plan for Northern Uganda.

    The over 600 million dollar Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) – of which was 70 percent sponsored by donors and the remained by the Ugandan government – was designed to stabilise and bridge the economic disparities between Northern Uganda and the rest of the country.

    Most of the money, to be spent over three years, is to be used to construct feeder roads and infrastructure destroyed during the war.

    And while roads were needed, the needs of the women also needed to be met, said Oyam District Member of Parliament, Amongi Beatrice Lagada. "The women took on so many burdens during the war. So unless we recognise those gender roles we shall not restore the gender perspectives which were there before," she said.

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    UN and partners open new front in war on sexual violence against girls

    25 September 2009The United Nations joined with other partners today to launch a new initiative in the fight against sexual violence against girls, a scourge which affects 150 million victims in a given year and contributes to the spread of HIV and AIDS.

    The programme seeks to provide funding to expand surveillance of sexual violence against girls in developing and emerging countries, develop a technical package of interventions for implementation at a country level to reduce the incidence of such abuse, and launch a major media campaign to motivate social and behavioural change.

    “These three intervention strategies are pillars of what is expected to emerge as a global movement to address this devastating human injustice and public health problem,” the partners said in a joint news release.

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    Two Powerful Stories of Rape

    A Long Walk Home

    Long Walk Home, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that uses art therapy and the visual and performance arts to document, to educate and to bring about social change.

    They use the testimonies, poetry, music, photographs, and videos of and by women and children to provide safe and entertaining forums through which the public learns about healing from trauma.

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    Instead of a safe haven, fear and rape in Galkayo

    NAIROBI, 23 September 2009 (IRIN) - Exhausted by the violence in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Asha (not real name) fled to Galkayo in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, believing her family would be safer there.

    Until a week ago, when she was attacked near the displaced people's camp that is her new home in Galkayo while collecting firewood to sell.

    "It was around 11am [local time] when three men with guns raped me," the 35-year-old mother of five said. "They held a gun to my head and they took turns to rape me."

    Asha tried to plead with the men but they would not listen. "I wish I never left Mogadishu," she explained. "At least there, I was never raped."

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