rights

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Female Migrants Charge Sexual Abuse in Detention

By William Fisher

NEW YORK, Jun 7, 2010 (IPS) - In the wake of allegations that a male guard at a central Texas detention facility sexually assaulted female detainees on their way to being deported, immigrant advocacy groups say stronger oversight and accountability is urgently needed to prevent further abuse of female detainees.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said last week that the guard has been fired. It added that Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company that manages the Hutto facility, has been placed on probation pending the investigation's outcome. The consequences of probation were not immediately clear.

ICE said that several women who were held at Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas, were groped while being patted down and at least one was propositioned for sex.

"We understand that this employee was able to commit these alleged crimes because ICE-mandated transport policies and procedures were not followed," David Sanders, DHS's contracting officer, said in a letter to Corrections Corporation of America obtained by The Associated Press.

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More Victim Blaming

This is all sorts of fucked up. In response to an apparent need to address the increase in "frivolous" lawsuits against celebrities for sexual assault that never went to trial, Britain's new government is cracking down on rape victims and acting quickly to protect rapists.

The British Prime Minister is supporting limited anonymity for rape defendants, says the BBC News.

In its coalition deal, the government backed keeping the identity of defendants in rape cases in England and Wales secret until after conviction.

But Mr Cameron told MPs he favoured a "limited extension" to the law to cover the period between arrest and charges.

Tbe acting Labor leader Harriet Herman is of course dismayed at such a stance. She is quoted as correctly stating that protecting rapists will only make it even more difficult for rape victims to come forward.

To single out rape defendants sends a very powerful message to juries in rape cases that the rape victim is not to be believed. It sends a devastating message to rape victims that uniquely of all victims they are not to be believed.

Although the article cites the statistical odds piled against rape victims in the UK, it concludes with the justification for rapist protection stating "number of cases in which celebrities were named in newspapers over allegations of sexual assault, even though in some cases they were not charge". Of course the actions of a few will endanger hundreds of thousands of other women, and for the British government that is apparently okay.

LaPrincipessa | Twitter | Email

(Posted at Women Undefined)

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Muslim Conservatives Blocking New Family Law in Mali

By Soumaïla T. Diarra

BAMAKO, May 19, 2010 (IPS) - A new family law has raised tension in Mali. This controversial law, intended to give greater freedoms and rights to women, has been sent back to the National Assembly for a second reading after protests from Muslim radicals.

These Muslim are threatening to make the country ungovernable if the law is enacted in its original form as voted by Parliament in August 2009.

"Those who oppose the new family law have started threatening legislators, railing against them in sermons and organising protest meetings. They're also using newspapers and radio since they learned that the law is on the agenda of the current parliamentary session," Salimata Kouyaté told IPS. Kouyaté is an activist with the Malian Network of NGOs and Women's Associations.

The next full session of parliament is scheduled to begin on May 20, but for now there is no confirmation when the legislation will be reviewed and put to a vote.

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Women Intensify Push to Pass Law Against Acid Attacks in Pakistan

By Zofeen Ebrahim

KARACHI, Pakistan, May 31, 2010 (IPS) - Almost seven years after Naila Farhat, 20, became another victim of an acid throwing attack by a spurned suitor, she is finally seeing more vigorous efforts toward the passage of a law seeking to amend existing legislation to reinforce protection of women against violent assaults.

Farhat is the first to admit, though, that beneath her physical scars is a smoldering anger that refuses to be pacified until she has exacted vengeance against her violators.

"I want him to be doused in acid so he can feel not just the searing pain but live with disfigurement day after day, for the rest of his life," she said of her main assailant over telephone from Layyah, a town in the southern part of Punjab province.

Yasmeen Rehman, advisor to the prime minister on women’s development and a legislator, told IPS that the Ministry of Women Development (MoWD) was doing further research on a draft law against acid attacks.

"It is seeking help from the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, she said.

The ASF, in turn, is getting assistance from its parent organisation in Britain and Cornell Law School in the United States, said Sana Masood, a lawyer working with the Foundation, which provides medical, psychosocial, socioeconomic and legal aid to acid survivors. "We are currently involved in extensive research to help the MoWD in coming up with another bill," she revealed

"Realistically speaking, I should say we will be able to present it in the (legislative) assembly by July," said Rehman

In November 2009, six years after Farhat filed a case against her perpetrators – a tailor and her elementary science teacher, who acted as an accomplice – Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary urged the government to pass a new law that would restrict the sale of industrial strength acid and increase the punishment for acid attacks.

This came with his landmark verdict upholding the original lower court ruling sentencing Farhat’s violators to 12 years in prison and ordering them to pay 1.25 million rupees (about 14,775 dollars) in damages.

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APNSW Video Work Shop 2010

In April 2010 APNSW conducted a training workshop for sex workers to learn skills in Video Advocacy.  The training was organised by Dale from APNSW and Ryan Schlief from WITNESS.  Sex workers from China, Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia came to the week long workshop, which was supported by a grant from OSI.

These newly trained film makers made a video action plan for their first film and will be making these films in their country in the next few months with technical support from APNSW.

(h/t APNSW)

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CALL FOR PAPERS - Gender & Development: Migration

The March 2011 issue of the international journal Gender & Development, (published for Oxfam GB by Routledge/Taylor and Francis) will focus on Migration.

The decision to leave home is not taken lightly. It is both frequent and normal for millions of women and men, worldwide, to travel away from their homes and families to seek peace, security, or the means to make a living.

Increasingly, development researchers and workers are asking for guidance on how to plan and implement work to support migrants, their families and dependents - at home, and in their new locations. This necessitates a shift in the traditional development focus on the needs of a community in a particular place, to supporting the human networks which shift between rural to urban locations, between countries, and back again.

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Iran: Imprisoned activist Shiva Nazar Ahari to go on trial for 'acts against national security'

(From Women Living Under Muslim Laws)

In March 2010, Women’s human rights defender and WLUML council member, Shadi Sadr, took the extraordinary step of dedicating her International Women of Courage Award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, a young human rights activist and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), currently imprisoned in Iran for ‘acts against national security’. Sadr refrained from attending the award ceremony in the U.S. in the hope that her absence would draw the international community’s attention to Nazar Ahari’s dire situation, urging the audience in a speech recorded for the event that “any measures available to you [be taken] to help to free Shiva along with other human rights activists and journalists in Iranian prisons”. According to Nazar Ahari’s mother, she will be brought to trial at Revolutionary Court No. 26 on Sunday 23 May. The offences she is being accused of carry severe penalties.

Please see attached our sample letter:

WLUML sample letter to Head of Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran.pdf

You can follow this link (and scroll down) to watch a series of films in Farsi on Shiva by Iranian WHRD, filmmaker and WLUML ally, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh.

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network calls on civil society organisations and UN member states to ask the Honourable Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani to do everything in his powers, as head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to address our grave human rights concerns and immediately release Shiva Nazar Ahari. 

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Making Sex Work - A video from sex workers

 

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Chinese Women Activists on the Forefront of Human Rights Movement

By Gordon Ross [IPS]

BEIJING, May 12, 2010 (IPS) - Thirteen years ago a local official in north-east China’s Heilongjiang province tried to extort money from a woman named Liu Jie, who operated a successful cow farm.

Liu protested at local courts, to no avail. In retaliation, the official destroyed her farm and stole her cows. She took her case to Beijing, where instead of receiving justice, she was detained and beaten.

In all, Liu, who is now 58, lost millions of renminbi, was detained secretly in Heilongjiang and beaten several times. But the chain of events set her on a path that would change her life – in the years following she has become a leading advocate of petitioners’ rights in China.

According to China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a non-profit, non- political network of grassroots activists, the contribution of women like Liu to China’s human rights movement is often overlooked in the international media. In fact, said CHRD, there are many women at the forefront of China’s grassroots human rights movement working in various capacities to defend rights.

"A lot of the women are grassroots activists… they do a lot of work on the ground, at the grassroots level, and they are much better known within their own circle than at the international level," Wang Songlian, research coordinator for CHRD, tells IPS.

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Women's rights and Kenya's constitution: Challenging 'men of faith'

By Beth Maina and Cenya Ciyendi

What gives a church in which celibacy is equated with holiness, in which males have all the undemocratic power, the right to a place at the table where laws are made about women’s bodies?

A large number of contradictions have arisen in the Kenyan debate on the new constitution just passed through the Kenyan parliament in preparation for a referendum scheduled for 2 July 2010, and particularly around the clauses on the right to abortion.

We are Kenyan women in the diaspora who have struggled with other women in Kenya and other nations on the right to life for the mother as well as the unborn child. With CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, particularly the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, established, we wish to join a debate which is a fundamental concern over the fundamental right to life and which is critical in the bill of rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, we would like to state from the outset that this debate is currently moribund as far as the referendum is concerned as time has lapsed in relation to the act. Opening the door now to one group of people will raise further questions about democracy and the rule of law. As women, whose lives and bodies this is all about, we therefore cannot remain silent as we do not believe that those who purport to represent us either seek our view or care about our humanity. We have to question the protests by religious groups and politicians such as William Ruto, who hope to manipulate the ignorance and vulnerability of the faithful to jettison the new constitution on this specific aspect on emotive and pseudo-religious grounds. We believe that they are seeking power and hiding behind religion to derail what is a very important document in our lives as Kenyans, the new Kenyan constitution, which we unequivocally support as it gives all Kenyans greater protection, rights and freedoms than the old one.

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