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Mourning Mothers Arrested in Laleh Park, Tehran


On Saturday afternoon (9th January) a number of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were once again arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran.  According to one of the Mourning Mothers, around thirty women were arrested. (Change for Equality)

“A number of us fled.  They stopped the cars of those who had cars and who had gone towards them.  The families of those arrested went to the Vozara Detention Centre in order to inquire about their condition.  One mother commented that "they read the names out at Vozara.  Tomorrow at 9 a.m. all the families and friends are due to meet at Vozara and the judge who is supervising the case will also come."

The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has demanded the release of the Mourning Mothers in a statement, in the following words:

"Today at sunset thirty of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were arrested in Laleh Park and its environs after an assault by over one hundred members of the security forces and plain clothes officers, after which they were transferred to the Vozara Detention Centre."

Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said:

"In no culture is it acceptable to deal with mothers in such a way, let alone when those who claim to be the defenders of morality are dealing with mothers who have seen their children become victims of injustice.  The Islamic Republic of Iran must recognize that the Mourning Mothers and their supporters will be not be satisfied except by an appropriate response to their demands."

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National Young Feminist Leadership Conference

Registration for FMF's 6th annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference is now open!  Join them March 20-22 to network and share feminist organizing strategies with hundreds of activists, including top feminist leaders in advocacy organizations, universities, public office, and more.

The event will be focusing on domestic and global repro rights and health, anti-abortion harassment and violence, gender-based violence, the legislative process, and other critical topics at this 2-day conference.  Then join the event staff and other attendees on  Monday 3/22 for a Congressional Day of Action and tell your members of Congress what issues are important to you!

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Davos 2010 - an appeal to end FGM now

An appeal to the World Economic Forum to help to end female genital mutilation, within our lifetimes.

Julia Lalla-Maharajh is one of 5 finalists in YouTube Davos shortlist hoping to work with world leaders to end female genital mutilation.  Watch this and if you like it, go vote for it and this effort at

Davos is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland between 27-31 January, 2010.  The meeting brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world today. In 2010, the organizing theme is, "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild". 

You can find out more at

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"My parents and neighbours are still not convinced I am no longer a prostitute"

ISIOLO, 7 January 2010 (PlusNews) - Everlyn Masha Koya, 22, is a sex worker-turned-peer educator in Isiolo town in Kenya's Eastern Province.  Now the owner of a successful small business, she told IRIN/PlusNews about the extreme poverty that drives many young women in the region into sex work.

"I still remember the release of my primary school exam results in January 2007 - it was a brief moment of joy but also marked the end of my dreams to either be a teacher or a nurse, because although I scored the highest among all the girls in my school, my parents were too poor to send me to secondary school.

"After that, my parents and brothers changed the way they treated me at home - they became harsh and hostile, accusing me of idling.  They instructed me to go out and look for work. When the situation at home became unbearable, I moved out and joined a group of girls who had hired a room in Isiolo - they introduced me to sex work.

"I still remember the first night I ventured into Isiolo town to look for a client, it was not easy... I was required to pay KSh100 [about US$1.30] to some boys who patrol the town at night.  For almost three years I served many men; my clients included the police, army, bandits and robbers, truck drivers and even men whom I suspected were mad.

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No News on Atiyeh Yousefi’s Situation

By Change for Equality

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].

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Reporting gender based violence: A handbook for journalists

Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa has launched a new handbook for reporters to support sustained media coverage of gender-based violence beyond 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children.

Download report here (.pdf)

Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. (U.N. Secretary General's study on violence against women, October 2006).

Every day and everywhere women are killed in sex-related crimes and just for the sake of being women. In recent years, women’s movements from different countries have been denouncing femicides, a concept that aims at accounting for the specific nature of these crimes as well as for their being sexist crimes.

"The same as with the concept of violence towards women, this concept has been coined as a result of new approaches, a new understanding of practices that are not new at all.  While the concept of sexist violence has been used for several decades, the concept of femicide is more recent: it questions those arguments that tend to excuse perpetrators and consider them as being ‘crazy’ or to regard these murders as ‘passionate crimes’, or else to undermine their importance in the case of conflict or war situations, as if these contexts by themselves could be justifying the violation of the most elementary social rules." (Silvia Chejter, "Femicidios e impunidad", 2005)

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Homophobia Heightens in Swaziland


On the 29th of December 2009 a lesbian woman and human rights activist, Thuli Rudd, also known as Thulani, was arrested on her way back home in Swaziland at the border from South Africa. She was charged with the murder of her partner, the late Pitseng Vilakati whose body had been found on Tuesday the 22nd of December 2009. Since August 2009 when Rudd went public with her engagement to the late Pitseng Vilakati, they have been in the spotlight with many people in Swaziland condemning their relationship. They have been under extraordinary pressure and both women demonstrated incredible courage in the face of this pressure.

Whilst in South Africa, Thulani had met with activists and discussed the endless violations of her and her partner’s human right to dignity, freedom and equality throughout 2009. There had been major media coverage of their relationship with numerous distortions and misrepresentations as well as a massive public reaction which was largely hostile, insulting and deeply disrespectful.

Monica Mbaru of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Africa expressed concern that Thulani is being tried and convicted by the media and the public before the investigation has been completed and that a strong possibility of this being a hate crime by homophobic persons may be ignored in the haste to prove Thulani guilty and further feed into the already high levels of homophobia.

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Not Under the Bus

By Gloria Feldt

If we’re going to be thrown under the bus, let’s not be ladylike about it. Kick and scream and make your voice heard.”
—Linda Lowen,

I couldn’t agree more with Linda.  That’s why I’ve dropped everything else and am working with the Women’s Media Center to raise awareness about what is at stake with the current health care bill over at

We just released a new video to increase the sense of urgency about women’s rights in the health care bill.  The fight isn’t over yet, and the next week of conference committee deliberations between the House and Senate will be crucial.  We need to be calling Congress and making sure that our rights are not thrown under the bus in the debate on health care, and we need our blogosphere to be heard loud and clear by the media and Congress.  One thing for sure, anti-choice forces won’t stop just because it’s Christmas, and neither can we.

View the video here:


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Call for Proposals: Equality and Justice Under the Rule of Law

The International Women's Program (IWP) of the Open Society Institute invites proposals focusing on one or more of the following objectives:

1) Reducing discrimination and violence against women

IWP seeks to support initiatives that improve the status of women by:

  • Strengthening legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms that focus on women’s rights
  • Strengthening civil society’s capacity to hold governments accountable to implement laws
  • Increasing women’s capacity to understand and claim rights

2) Strengthening women’s access to justice

IWP seeks to support initiatives that strengthen judicial response to women and reduce the obstacles to access by ensuring:

  • Legal aid, counsel and assistance is available and resourced
  • Judges, lawyers and prosecutors understand and apply gender justice
  • Transitional justice mechanisms are equitable and inclusive of women

3) Increasing women’s role as decision-makers and leaders

IWP seeks to support initiatives that encourage and increase women’s role as decision-makers in a number of arenas including the following:

  • Peace and reconciliation processes
  • Electoral and legislative processes
  • Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Security Sector Reform (SSR) and reconstruction programs
  • Local/indigenous independent nongovernmental organizations or initiatives that link local and international organizations

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"We are all Laila" - Blogging for Women's Voices Dec 24 - 30

Some people think that having food, lodging and relatively good economic conditions - which is the case with most Internet users- is the peak of human development and signals that nations are fulfilling all their duties towards their citizens.  This belief influences the way many individuals exercise their right of self-expression as they simply give in to the collective outlook.  Consequently, they start a chain of repression and suppression passing it on horizontally to families, circles of friends and acquaintances; and vertically to next generations.  Unfortunately, the situation gets worse if this individual is a female because it entails silence in the face of unfair practices directed against her in our Arab world.

This was how "We Are All Laila" was initiated 4 years ago.  It has aimed at opening a window for self-expression to female bloggers by specifying one day - a whole week this year- for discussing and writing about women's issues.  Thanks to "We Are All Laila", these bloggers found some kind of psychological support that enabled them to speak up and talk about their daily problems as women.  It provided a kind of protection against fear of the usual accusations of threatening the values of society or -worse- believing these accusations and feeling guilty about them. "We Are All Laila" aims at highlighting women's problems and prompting them to draw real images of their own experiences in order to open a dialogue that can lead to changing the ideas of a whole society.  Therefore, "We Are All Laila" is an independent and non-profit initiative.

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