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Eve Ensler: Embrace your inner girl

In this passionate talk, Eve Ensler declares that there is a girl cell in us all -- a cell that we have all been taught to suppress.  She tells heartfelt stories of girls around the world who have overcome shocking adversity and violence to reveal the astonishing strength of being a girl.


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Study Finds that Many Victims of Partner Violence Experience Reproductive Coercion

Groundbreaking Study Finds that Many Victims of Partner Violence Experience Reproductive Coercion

SAN FRANCISCO - A new study sheds light on a little-recognized form of abuse in which men use coercion and birth control sabotage to cause their partners to become pregnant against their wills. The study, published in the January issue of Contraception, finds this kind of reproductive control to be especially common in relationships in which women experience physical or sexual partner violence.

“Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy” is the first quantitative examination of the relationship between intimate partner violence, reproductive coercion and unintended pregnancy. It finds that young women and teenage girls often face efforts by male partners to sabotage their birth control or coerce or pressure them to become pregnant - including by damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives. These behaviors, defined as “reproductive coercion,” are often associated with physical or sexual violence. Conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Pubic Health, the study also finds that among women who experienced both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk of unintended pregnancy doubled.

From August 2008 to March 2009, researchers worked at five reproductive health clinics in Northern California, querying some 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking 16- to 29-year-old women who agreed to respond to a survey about their experiences. They were asked about birth-control sabotage, pregnancy coercion and intimate partner violence.  Approximately one in five young women said they experienced pregnancy coercion and 15 percent said they experienced birth control sabotage.  Fifty-three percent of respondents said they had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.  Thirty-five percent of the women who reported partner violence also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.

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French Algerian actress attacked over feminist play

By Expatica

A 45-year-old theatre actress was doused with petrol in an attack in Paris after weeks of receiving threats over a feminist play she wrote on Algerian women.

Paris – French police believe a theatre actress who was doused with petrol in an attack in Paris last week was targeted for starring in a feminist play she wrote on Algerian women, a judicial official said Friday.

The 45-year-old born in Algeria, who goes by the name of Rayhana, said two men approached her while she was walking to the theatre on Tuesday, grabbed her from behind, slapped her across the face and poured petrol on her.

"I could smell the petrol. A flame brushed my hat and then I ran," she said.

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AQSAzine Writers Salon Feb 3!

Submission Deadline for AQSAzine Issue #3 My Islam is fast approaching

Want to submit to AQSAzine but nervous about your work? Come to our Writers Salon! Share your work and get peer support

Feb 3rd, at the Centre for Women and Trans People University of Toronto 563 Spadina Avenue, Room 100 6 -8 pm

AQSAzine Writers' Salon will be a opportunity for Muslim women and trans people to spend a evening together focusing on our writing and art. It will be a supportive environment in which we can provide one another with peer feedback and support to create stronger pieces for submission to AQSAzine Issue #3. Information on submission guidelines here

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Open Letter to Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: All Human Rights Defenders must be Released Immediately

[From FIDH]

Open Letter to Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ,

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), wishes to welcome the release on bail on January 14, 2010 of Ms. Atieh Youssefi , member of the “One Million Signatures” Campaign , Ms. Noushin Ebadi, medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran and sister of Ms. Shirin Ebadi , and of Mr. Hassan Rasouli , Deputy Secretary General of the Cultural Foundation Baran.

Nevertheless, the Observatory deplores that Ms. Youssefi and Ms. Ebadi remain prosecuted, and calls upon the Iranian authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment against them.

Furthermore, the Observatory fears that other “One Million Signatures” Campaign members, including Ms. Bahareh Hedayat , Ms. Shiva Nazarahari , Ms. Mansoureh Shojaie , also founding member of the Campaign and of the Women’s Cultural Centre, Ms. Samieh Rashidi , Ms. Maryam Zia , Ms. Mahsa Hekmat , Ms. Parisa Kakaï , all arrested at the end of December 2009 and on January 1 and 2, 2010, as well as Ms. Bahman Ahmadi Amoui , arrested in July 2009 and sentenced on January 4 to seven years and four months’ imprisonment, remain in detention as to date, as no information to the contrary could be obtained [1] .

Additionally, the Observatory fears that Mr. Emad Baghi , journalist, founder of the Society for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights and winner of the 2009 Martin Ennals Award, Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi , student activist and former leader of a student NGO, Mr. Mashaollah Shamsolvaezine , Spokesperson for the Association for the Defence of Freedom of the Press, Mr. Alireza Beheshti , Director of the website kalameh , journalists Mostafa Izadi , Morteza Kazemian , Nasrin Vaziri , Keyvan Mehregan , Mr. Mahin Fahimi , peace activist, Mr. Mehdi Arabshahi , Adwar Tahkim NGO member, Ms. Zohreh Tonkaboni , member of the organisation Mothers for Peace, and Mr. Morteza Haji , Secretary General of Baran , also remain arbitrarily detained following their arrest in the aftermath of the December 27 demonstrations.

Accordingly, the Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders, as well as to release them immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary as it seem to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

The Observatory further calls upon the Iranian authorities to cease the repression and prosecution of all human rights defenders in Iran, and to immediately and unconditionally release those who are still detained , so as to conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran .

We express our sincere hope that you will take these considerations and requests into account.

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen Eric Sottas

FIDH President OMCT Secretary General



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Iran threatened by female activists

By Michael Theodoulou, The National

Iranian security forces recently beat and arrested some 30 “mourning mothers” holding a peaceful weekly vigil in a Tehran park to demand news of their sons and daughters who had been killed, disappeared or detained in the unrest following June’s disputed presidential election.

The shocking scene encapsulated an acute quandary for the regime. It has a tight grip on the levers of repression – but one of the most potent threats it faces comes from unarmed women protesting peacefully.

The authorities feared female activism long before the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, viewing women’s demands for equal rights as inseparable from a wider drive for greater democracy.

“If the regime accepts the principle that women have equal rights, it has to revise and re-think its entire ideology, which is based on the pre-modern interpretation of Islamic law,” Ziba Mir-Hosseini, a senior research associate and legal anthropologist at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said.

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Beijing +15: National-level review of implementation

Member States are providing assessments of progress made, and remaining gaps and challenges in the implementation of the Platform for Action.  Their responses to the common questionnaire of the United Nations regional commissions are the basis for analysis of trends and challenges in implementation.

In preparation for the regional-level 15-year reviews of implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000), the United Nations regional commissions (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP, ESCWA) prepared a common questionnaire to access information from Governments on major achievements and remaining gaps and challenges in implementation at national level. The information gathered through this questionnaire is used in preparation of regional review reports.

The information in the questionnaire will also be utilized in the global 15-year review and appraisal process and in the compilation of reports of the Secretary-General for submission to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-fourth session in March 2010.

Click to retrieve the questionnaire:
[ Arabic | English | French | Russian | Spanish ]

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Azeri Transexuals Face Social Stigma

Sex change just the first hurdle as society fails to accept gender reassignment.

By Leyla Leysan in Baku (CRS, IWPR)

Inga Ivanova seems like a normal 23-year-old woman as she sits in central Baku in light make-up, a jumper and jeans, but her story is one rarely heard in Azerbaijan. She was born a boy.

“I felt like a woman in a man’s body ... passers-by used to avoid me. I was never flamboyant, I did not shock people, I tried to hide who I was, that I was breaking away from normal modes of behaviour, but all the same I was different,” she said.

On leaving school, like any young Azeri male, she had to report for military service, and was sent for a hospital examination. Experts declared her unfit to serve in the army, clearing the way for her to do what only 100 or so Azeris had done before her – undergo gender reassignment surgery.

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New Play About Canada’s Prison for Women - Jan 27th, 8pm, Montréal

P4W: Invisible Stories from Canada’s Prison for Women
(a workshop production)

The only building to house Canada’s federally sentenced women was known to inmates and correctional officers simply as “P4W”.  From 1934 to 2000, the Prison for Women received public scrutiny from repeated investigations, and finally a federal inquiry that led to the closure of the then notorious institution.  But the issues that led to its shutting down are far from resolved for the cases of federally sentenced women in Canada.

Life on the inside of Canada’s Prison for Women

Now, ten years later, playwright and director Julia Ainsworth brings a thoughtful and unprecedented play to the lives and daily struggles for these women. In January 2010, Zeitgeist Theatre Collective, in association with Mischief Theatre, will bring audiences beyond the walls of P4W and into the hearts and minds of the women who lived there.

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Report on Violence against Women’s Rights Activists in Iran

By Change for Equality

The following report, outlines the pressures faced by activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, including arrests, summons, sentences, travel bans, and search of property.  The report was compiled in November 2009 and updated in late December 2009.  Several of the members of the Campaign who have been arrested in the past few weeks days are not included in the report, including:

Somayeh Rashidi, was arrested on December 19 after appearing in court in response to a summons. Her home had been searched on December 14 and her personal property was seized.  There is no information about the reason for her arrest and she has not been allowed to visit with her family or lawyer since her arrests. In a telephone call to her family, Somayeh informed them that she is being held in Ward 209 of Evin prison, which is managed by the Intelligence Ministry.

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested on her way to attend the funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri, in Qom, on December 20.  This is the second time she has been arrested in relation to her human rights activities since the Presidential elections in June.  The first time, she was arrested on June 14th and released almost four months on a bail of $202,039.  Her arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown against the members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.  Currently seven members of this human rights organization are in prison.

Atiyeh Yousefi, activist in the One Million Signatures Campaign in Rasht [Gilan province, northern Iran], is currently being held in Lakan Prison in Rasht, without any reason having been given for her detention.  Five days after Atiyeh Yousefi’s arrest, her family still has no information on the arrest warrant issued for her, and have not managed to arrange a meeting with the judge presiding over her case.  Atiyeh Yousefi was arrested while seeking to give assistance to a young man who had been severely beaten by plainclothes security officers on the day of Ashura [27th December 2009].  On 1st January her family was able to visit her in Lakan Prison.  They gave a good report of her morale and stated that she is being subjected to lengthy and ongoing interrogations.

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