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Female Genital Mutilation Targeted In Several Countries

Reports of progress in halting, documenting and legally barring Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) come in this week from multiple countries and news sources. 

In Uganda (yes...that Uganda), MP Chris Baryomunsi submitted a bill to imprison practicioners of FGM to lengthy jail terms of 10 years to life. 

The Bill says a person commits aggravated FGM in situations where death occurs as a result of the act or where a victim suffers disability or is infected with the HIV virus.

It defines FGM as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-therapeutic reasons. [Source: Sunday Monitor]

The bill had been tabled in September, but passed this week with no protest from a single MP.

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Anti-female genital mutilation Bill ready for debate

By Cyprian Musoke

A Bill outlawing female genital mutilation is ready to be presented to the House for the second reading and be passed into law, MPs have been told.  

Addressing a regional parliamentary workshop on the theme “Consolidating political will for child well being” at Imperial Royale Hotel yesterday, the chairperson of the committee on gender, Beatrice Lagada, blamed the practice for the high drop out rates in Universal Primary Education (UPE).

She urged people in communities where the practice is still rampant to report perpetrators and parents who subject their girl-children to genital mutilation. Upon conviction for indulging in the practice, one faces a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The workshop was attended by MPs from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, and the Speaker of the East African legislative assembly. It was organised by the East African community secretariat, Parliament of Uganda and European Parliamentarians for Africa.

“We are done with scrutinising the Bill and are ready to present it for the second reading. I assure you that the will to pass it is there,” Lagada said.

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Iran: Stop Executions for Sodomy Charges

Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Iranian Queers Organization (IRQO) and COC Netherlands in calling on Iranian authorities to stop the numerous executions of minors and adults accused of sodomy. Also join us in calling on Western countries with significant diplomatic and economic ties to Iran, including Germany, France, Canada, as well as the European Union, to pursue diplomatic efforts to cease these executions.

Use our electronic system below to send a letter in English to the foreign officials and another letter in Persian to Iranian officials.

The Issue

The Courts in Iran have sentenced a number of men to death after they were accused and convicted of sodomy. Under Iranian law, sodomy includes sexual intercourse between members of the same sex, and is illegal. The punishment for same-sex intercourse between two men (Lavaat) is death and between two women (Mosaheghe) is 100 lashes for the first three offenses and the death penalty for the fourth.

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“The new war is rape”

MONROVIA, 19 November 2009 (IRIN) - In Liberia rape survivors are increasingly speaking up and seeking help as awareness of rights increases, but social taboos persist and seeking justice does not always mean that justice is served.

Sexual violence consistently comes first or second (after armed robbery) in monthly police crime listings in the capital Monrovia.  The majority of rape victims are children, according to treatment centre statistics.  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Monrovia reports their youngest survivor at 21 months old.

“The civil war is over,” said Monrovia resident Tupee Kiadi.  “But the new war is rape, especially targeting teenagers and babies.  During the war we had peacekeepers to prevent further violence…but women do not have peacekeepers to stop rape.”

During the war women and girls were subjected to rape (commonly gang rape) and sexual slavery, many becoming pregnant from rape.  Since peace was sealed in 2003, sex crimes – and impunity – have persisted throughout the country.

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Terror Campaign Against LGBTQI Iraqis Remains Unchecked by Iraqi Gov't

IRAQI LGBT – November 2009 – The rise of fundamentalist groups in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. led invasion has proven deadly to LGBT Iraqis, who are now being forced to either hide or face the consequences.

Using the internet as a means to track down new victims, militia members are now employing computer analysts to monitor traffic on gay dating and networking websites in the region.  They work with internet café owners to single out people who frequent these sites and set up fake profiles in the attempt to lure them out. 

On the 28th of August, police raided the houses of Asad Galib and Faeq Ismail, both 24 years old, and took them into custody.  They were held and questioned for about four hours, accused of viewing gay websites in an internet café on the 21st of July.  Both men denied the accusations and explained that the websites had already been open when they had begun using the computers.  They were later released and are now in contact with Iraqi LGBT, a London based organization working to support and protect LGBT individuals in Iraq.

Others who have been accused or are suspected of such activities have not been as lucky.

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Report: US Christian Groups Stoke Intolerance, Hatred & Murder in Africa for Political & Monetary Gain

Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) has discovered.

Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, PRA Project Director, exposes the U.S. Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles.  U.S. social conservatives, who are in the minority in mainline churches, depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions as their growing numbers makes African Christians more influential globally.

The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.  Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.

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NAPPA wants justice in ‘forced sterilisation’ cases

WINDHOEK [New Era] – The Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA) has said justice should be accorded to any woman whose rights have been violated as a result of forced sterilisation.

NAPPA’s statement, issued by its director Sam Ntelamo last week, follows a case in which 15 women that were sterilised at public health institutions without their informed consent are seeking redress in the High Court.

The case of three of the women was postponed until November 24, when three other women who have been sterilised because of their HIV status will also be heard.  The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) is representing the women.

NAPPA said coerced sterilisation is the use of intimidation, fear, pressure duress or deception to get “consent” for the sterilisation procedure.

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Call for Action - Send Appeal to Stop Execution of Three Persons For Homosexual Act

(IRQR – Toronto, November 15, 2009) Nemat Safavi from the city of Ardebil, Mehdi P. from Tabriz, and Mohsen Gh. from Shiraz were all arrested, tried and sentenced to death in different courts in Iran, based on accusations of homosexual acts (known as "Lavat").

They were under the age of 18 at the time of arrest and have been kept in prison since then. In Nemat’s case, he was jailed for five years so that he would reach the legal age (according to Islamic law) at which death sentences can be carried out.

Human rights activists working on Nemat's behalf have determined that the authorities in Ardebil are claiming Nemat dons not even exist.  Having observed many similar cases before, IRQR considers this statement to be reason for even greater worry.

Mehdi and Mohsen are awaiting their execution despite the fact that they have both pleaded innocent and have denied the allegations.  There is not one single witness in either of the cases, and even the judge himself has no evidence whatsoever to prove that the plaintiffs are guilty.  (According to Islamic law, the accused person would accept his guilt four times, or there would be four male adults testifying on the crime committed, before a court can legally rule on someone’s guilt.)

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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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Female Circumcision Still a Vote Winner

By Wambi Michael

KAMPALA, Oct 19 (IPS) - Over three decades ago a 14-year-old girl, her sister and a group of young teenagers from Bukwo headed to the River Amana for a ceremony that would change their lives forever.

Since her childhood, Gertrude Chebet had been told of the day she would become a woman. She was led to believe it would be a great moment of change and it was something to look forward to with much joy.

As she and her sister began that early morning trek, from their village in eastern Uganda, in the cold and through the bushes to the place of initiation, she expected it to be the best day of her life. But she was wrong.  It turned out to be the most harrowing.

"One of the elder women overseeing the circumcision took a sample of our saliva, urine and pubic hair and buried it.  She then ordered us to lie on the ground and after the first cut, I lost consciousness and cannot remember what happened next," she remembers now.

Even after passing out she and the other girls were not allowed to use modern medicine to treat their wounds. Instead she was forced to use cow urine, prescribed by her elders.

Today Chebet is a primary school teacher and campaigns against female circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation.

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