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Together for Transformation: A Call to Men and Boys

Gender lies at the root of war and peace and it is increasingly being recognized that issues of masculinities need to be addressed in the field of peacebuilding and active nonviolence.  WPP is convinced that in order to transform cultures of war and violence, women peace activists need to work together with male allies on these issues. In light of this analysis, WPP has organized the Training of Trainers Program “Overcoming Violence - Exploring Masculinities, Violence and Peace”.

The first part of the ToT took place from November 30 till December 12, 2009 in The Netherlands, and brought together 19 pioneering activist men, from 17 different countries.

The training focused on gender-sensitive active non-violence, the theory of masculinities and its relation to violence, and participatory and gender-sensitive facilitation.

The rich exchange of strategies and cultural practices related to peacebuilding, active nonviolence and issues related to masculinities and femininities has been an empowering experience for all.  During 2010, the WPP will be intensively working together with the trainees while they are preparing their community projects and follow-up trainings in their home context.  All these activities include working together with female allies for gender-sensitive active nonviolent peacebuilding.  Mid – 2010, the 19 trainees will participate in a second Training of Trainers as to exchange knowledge and experiences, and consolidate the learning into a training manual.

A first powerful outcome of the training is a statement produced by the ToT trainees to affirm their commitment to gender-sensitive peacebuilding:

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Shame: A film about 'honor killing' (aka ignorant murder)

5000 women yearly are still getting killed for ‘honor’.

Shame (2005)

Director: Sharjil Baloch

Genre: Documentary

"Shame" is part of the honor killing awareness-raising campaign in rural Sindh and southern Punjab.  The directors take to the road, documenting shocking interviews that uncover a deep-rooted gender bias in rural Pakistan as well as the first ever footage of a karion jo qabristan, an unmarked graveyard where victims of honor killing are buried without any ritual. An important and timely film. 

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Istanbul Prosecutor Considers Lesbian Love to be Obscene

By Bawer ÇAKIR  ( BiaNet

The Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into the contents of the book "The 'L' State of Love" about love stories between lesbians because it allegedly deals with "unnatural relationships".  Zeliş Deniz from LambdaIstanbul criticized the repetitive pretence of "public morality".

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office initiated an investigation on the book "The 'L' State of Love" by Burcu Ersoy which was part of the "From Women to Women Story Contest" carried out by the Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (Kaos GL).

The prosecutor's office reasoned the investigation by claiming that lesbianism is "an unnatural sexual relation" and "obscene".

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A woman among warlords

Malalai Joya is an Afghan politician who has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan."  As an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga from Farah province, she has publicly denounced the presence of what she considers warlords and war criminals in the parliament.  She is the author of "A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice"

More at The Real News

Joya: US backed fundamentalism is at the root of the Afghan problem; foreign troops should get out now

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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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From Discrimination to Discrimination

An Examination of Policies Related to Women During the First Four Years of Ahmadinejad’s Presidency

By: Mahboube Hosseinzadeh [Sign for Change]

Change for Equality- “Women…women are the crown on our heads” was the first sentence that Mahmoud Ahmadinnejad uttered sarcastically on the afternoon of June 24th, 2005, as one of the two candidates who were admitted to the second stage of the presidential elections, in response to the question of a female, foreign journalist about his future policies for Iranian women. In a small and hot car exhibition in eastern Tehran, where the atmosphere was made even more unbearable because of the smell of smoke and wild rue [to ward off the evil eye], Ahmadinejad uttered some more clichés about women, which made it clear that he did not have a specific plan in this respect.


But after becoming president, in his first action with respect to women’s issues, on September 24th, 2005, he changed the name of “the Center for Women’s Participation”, which was the only governmental center under the control of the president solely dedicated to addressing women’s issues, to “the Center for Women’s and Family Affairs”. The name change was a prelude to the policies of the ninth presidency in women’s affairs and reinforced the impression that in line with the president’s ideology policies related to women were to be devised within the framework of family and motherhood. After that, the “Compulsory Reduction of Women’s Work Hours Plan” was introduced under the pretext of supporting women. However, it was pretty obvious that in a country where the employment rate of women even according to the most optimistic analysis is only 14% while 64% of university admissions are women, this plan will lead to the exclusion of even more women from the workplace.

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Ugandan Anti-homosexuality Bill Means 'Targeted Killings'

By Wambi Michael

KAMPALA, Dec 10 (IPS) - Uganda will be going back to the days of the Idi Amin regime if it passes a Bill which will arrest or kill people for being gay or lesbian and for repeatedly engaging in homosexual sex, say rights activists.

Pro-gay activists compare the provisions in the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the 1972 order former dictator, president Idi Amin gave expelling Ugandan born Asians because of their colour.

"This is a form of targeted killings similar to Idi Amin. We already have a law on homosexuality but you see people like David Bahati, instead of concentrating on more pressing issues in his constituency, he is spending time to write a forty-page document aimed at gays and lesbians," said Jacqueline Kasha, a lesbian Ugandan human rights activist. 

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill's section on 'aggravated homosexuality'

A person commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality where the:

(a) Person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) Offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) Offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) Offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) Victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) Offender is a serial offender; or

(g) Offender applies, administers or cause to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy or overpower him or her so as to thereby enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex.

A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

Source: Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - December 17

On December 17, 2009 Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago will join other sex worker rights organizations all over the world in commemorating the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  This date was chosen by Dr. Annie Sprinkle in recognition of the conviction of Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, a man whose reign of terror over almost twenty years resulted in the known deaths of 48 women.  These women, who also happened to be sex workers, were targeted by Ridgway because, in his own words, "I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught".

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Push To Protect Sex Workers During World Cup

By Davison Makanga

CAPE TOWN, Dec 4 (IPS) - As the 2010 Soccer World Cup approaches, calls for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa have been renewed.

A steering committee has been set up with a mandate to push for reforms with the police commissioner and legislature before the world soccer showcase. Sex workers and activist organisations say the World Cup is an opportunity to decriminalise their trade.

"I have seen my colleagues harassed by the police and I have also experienced that," said Anna Sibisi*, a sex worker for the past eight years in Cape Town. "I would like to see this end before the World Cup."

Well aware of the resistance to changing the law, sex workers are pushing for at least a moratorium on arrests during the soccer event.

"We should be given temporary licences to operate during the World Cup as they map the long term plans," Sibisi said. She sees the World Cup as a chance to work uninterrupted and "make lots of money."

In South Africa, sex workers face a jail term if charged for at least three times. Fines of up to 200 dollars are paid on initial arrests.

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Honour killing: India's continuing shame

(Posted at the samosa)

By Spriha Srivastava

The number of love marriages might have increased in India's cities but the reality remains different in many of its village.

Just a couple of days back I was reading about an incident where a village girl was burnt alive by her neighbours because she had a relationship with a boy from a different caste. In another case, a boy’s hands and legs were chopped off by the residents for marrying a girl from their village. These are just two examples from a bagful of many more cases that occur every day.

The number of love marriages might have gone up in the metros in India but the reality remains different in the villages in many other states. Honour killing, where men or women are killed by their kin or other members of their caste, is still very rampant in many parts of India. But the question is: why this heinous crime is committed?

Women's activist groups say that such killings happen in order to save the honour of the caste, community or family. Caste still remains one of the most important factors governing the lives of many people in some parts of India. The huge number of honour killings that sometimes go unrecorded happen because of inter-caste marriages. They revolve around issues such as runaway marriages or relationships between people of different castes. In many cases the groom or the bride has been killed for marrying someone from a lower caste.

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