News and Opinion

Iraqi Women have a constitutional Quota in Parliament – but can they get there?

Nida Jafrani tells us that if the security situation in Iraq improves, Women may have a chance to make gains in a political process that has long been patriarchal. For now, the plight of women in Iraq is horrific and largely limited to the confines of their homes.

Women having voted in Iraq - cherieblair.org

See the article at the Center for Strategic and International Studies website: http://csis.org/blog/iraqi-women-politics-their-reality.during-election-result-tentions

_________________________________________________________

The Battle Against Gender Based Violence starts with “Garima” (dignity):

“Last November when I was in India, I launched the Garima (“dignity” in Hindi) program, a USAID- funded project that aims to enhance the ability of women to advocate for their rights in the Indian parliament and state legislatures; deter gender-based violence, female feticide and child marriage; and increase the participation of Muslim women in mainstream social, economic and political processes.”
Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

State Department 2010 "Garima"

See her full article at the State Department Blog: http://blogs.state.gov/sgwi/index.php/site/entry/communities_address_gender-based_violence/

______________________________________________________

Nicholas Kristof agrees with us, that birth control may be a component in defeating poverty.

Nicholas D. Kristof

Read his New York Times Op-Ed at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/opinion/26kristof.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

_________________________________________________________________________

Rape Kits are often the only way women can prove the crime that has been committed on them, but many remain untested.

http://womensrights.change.org/blog/view/new_law_address_rape_kit_backlog?me=nl

__________________________________________________

Hate and Abuse aren’t OK even if they’re done by clean, famous people:

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.

http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson treats us to yet another hateful rant. See Linda Lowen’s article: http://womensissues.about.com/b/2010/07/05/mel-gibsons-misogynistic-rant-good-reason-to-boycott-his-films.htm

This time, his focus is women. His language is so offensive and his tone so intense that we must wonder how prevalent verbal and physical must be in far more households that we would have guessed.

No wonder that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence and abuse each year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. (see: http://www.soundvision.com/Info/domesticviolence/statistics.asp)

It is estimated that anywhere between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. Research shoes unequivocally that exposure to violence can have serious negative effects on children’s development. According to the National Commission Against Domestic Violence (ncadv), ”witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.”

So the problem isn’t that the isolated, or not so isolated, celebrity cases we hear about that should alarm us. It is the indication it should give us at just how many households put up with abuse across this land, and how many women withstand abuse, silently or not.

The law is pitiful vis-a-vis domestic violence. In law school I took a class called “Gender and the Law”. My heightened knowledge left me feeling defeated, as a woman, by the time it was done. Essentially, women are without meaningful legal protection until someone dies. If the woman is the one doing the killing, her “victim” defense linked to domestic violence is an uphill battle with low success rates. Most women end-up behind bars with a conviction for a reduced murder charge, and end up abused two-fold, once at the hands of a man and once at the hands of the law.

There is no excuse for domestic violence. There is also no excuse for the trafficking of women, honor killing, genital mutilation, rape, date rape and much, much more. Awareness is the tool to battle those who would have it be otherwise. The law must accommodate a civilization that is constantly evolving, and increasing its civil respect for women.

WOW (Worldwide Organization for Women) spokeswoman Abbie Vianes said regarding Gibson’s latest publicized rant: “If women want to ‘punish’ Mel Gibson, they can individually not fund him by not attending his movies.  There are bigger villains to catch – like those involved in trafficking women and children, those participating in female genital mutilation, and those raping women and girls in refugee camps.”

________________________________________________________________________

Asylum in the US for Guatemalan women.

Womenfound has been working on the issue of women’s safety in Guatemalan issue since our inception in February 2010.

Madre photograph - Guatemalan woman

Our first corporate donation was to Madre (madre.org) which aids Guatemalan women. In addition to raising awareness, Madre raises whistles and flashlights that often save their lives from random violence. See http://www.madre.org/index/get-involved-3/current-campaigns-9/helping-hands-flashlights–whistles-for-safety-192.html.

Women are often the subject of gross violence as a means to send a message to governments, societies or the greater world about a variety of grievances by small pockets of people – from the role of women to the policies of governments around the world. In this article AP writer JUAN CARLOS LLORCA writes:

Two weeks ago, a woman who worked for Guatemala’s prisons department was kidnapped and hacked to pieces by street gang members protesting prison conditions.

“They wanted to send a message to the government,” said Norma Cruz, director of women’s rights group Survivors Foundation. “They used a woman to do it, because they don’t even see us as human beings anymore.”

Women are not a tool. Their abuse should not be a method to convey an opinion. This should be a universal cry around the globe. Women do not deserve the abuse they endure in the name of “tradition”, “religion” or even a “movement”.

Read the article: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iac5J5Kg3u7ZXbvXRYbN4yOQMQkQD9GVN73O0

and help spread the word…

_____________________________________________________________________________

Admiral Mike Mullen and Greg Mortenson
(see our Book Review on Three Cups of Tea)

Dept of Defense Photo

Finally, the Department of Defense has taken note of peace. They have called on Greg Mortenson to help build schools, a twist from dropping bombs.    We wrote a book review on Three Cups of Tea and we are thrilled to see Mortenson’s dedication, knowledge and trail-blazing commitment being put to use by the US in it’s post-war efforts in Afghanistan. We expect much good to come of it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/world/asia/18tea.html?_r=1

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Osh Unrest Turns to nightmare… India and Pakistan decide to communicate:

Kyrgyzstan Unrest Uzbek Woman and child fleeing Osh unrest(AP Photo/Anvar Ilyasov – 2010)

People fleeing from the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh find that they end-up in a “no-man’s-land” of long lines and no place to go. Hundreds wait near the Uzbek village of Jalal-Kuduk for permission to cross into Uzbekistan. On Monday Uzbek authorities closed the border crossing overwhelmed by the onslaught of refugees.  see article: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story/STIStory_540209.html Sadly, this reminds me of the Kargil Conflict of 1999 when the incursion of Pakistan-backed armed forces into territory on the Indian side of the line of control around Kargil near Kashmir left hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children who were fleeing the fighting, dead and wounded while the world looked on. Caught in the crossfire, those refugees found a Russian border closed off to them as they approached their own “no-man’s-land” of sorts. Behind them were soldiers aiming at them and in front of them a closed-door. Across the world we see the sad images and hear the conceptual numbers, but rarely feel the fears and hear the screams that the refugees suffer through. While we neatly term these tragic events as “unrest” or “conflict”, women and children bear witness to something far more severe than those terms would convey. They watch their families suffer through untold horrors and trudge in disbelief up to borders that are closed off and guards that are merciless. They end up in make-shift refugee camps that breed disease and dysentery which ushers in a whole new phase of pain and suffering. How do we, as civilized people, condone the cruelty of history in the name of territorial sovereignty? Why do we succumb to the notion that property is more important than humanity?

www.hindustantimes.com 2009 – Kargill reigion

Armed conflict has forever been the answer that men in power pose to the problem of territory. But for centuries, armed conflict has solved nothing; It has only given rise to more armed conflict. Generations later, the pursuit of armed conflict in many of the poorest and most disadvantaged corners of this world has bred more intense revenge than the one before. By contrast, peace, coexistence and mutual prosperity has led people to calm the voices of hostility and unite around a community’s common good. I would hope that our leaders today, imbued with the lessons of history, can pressure the battling sides of this conflict to quell their fighting.  Ironically, just today we got this from Pakistan:  http://www.hindustantimes.com/rssfeed/pakistan/Pakistan-wants-to-resolve-all-issues-with-India-PM-Gilani-/Article1-558143.aspx The Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani said today, in an address at the National Defence University in Islamabad, that his country wants to come to a “negotiated and peaceful resolution” to all of its disputes with India. “Pakistan is a peaceful nation”, he pledges and adds that the two neighbors can implement “dialogue” to achieve ”regional peace and progress”. For his part, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on May 24 that “Pakistan is our neighbour. It is our obligation to make every efforts to normalise relations with India’s neighbours. That’s essential to realise our full developmental potential.” If these two leaders can hold to the theory that talking will resolve more than fighting, one of the most historically volatile regions in the world may yet succeed in ushering in a new trend: coexistence. Much to my chagrin, I hear nothing of the sort from any consequential leader around this globe regarding the current conflict in Osh.

_______________________________________________________________________

While we welcome the Israeli easing of the blockade of Gaza, we must note that women and children continue to pay a high price under a Hamas government that dis-serves them, and admittedly, an Israeli government that enables it.

AP- The Awaja family of Beit Lahiyeh

See Article:

By KAROUN DEMIRJIAN
Associated Press Writer

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (AP) — The few dozen yards (meters) of fraying blue tarpaulin and dirt-stained canvas that define the Awaja family’s living space can’t keep out the cold in winter, or the dust and heat in summer. And when a strong wind blows at night, the shelter caves in on the six children sleeping inside.

The Awajas are among thousands whose houses were destroyed during Israel’s three-week military offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza, launched in December 2008 with the aim of halting Palestinian rocket attacks. More than 18 months later, most displaced families have found apartments or moved in with relatives. But about 225 families remain homeless, according to U.N. figures, caught in a mix of poverty, bureaucracy, and a border blockade that has left them in limbo.

A bulldozer flattened the Awajas’ house on the first full day of Israel’s ground offensive, when tanks and troops swept into Gaza neighborhoods near the Israeli border. As the family fled, bullets hit Kamal, 49, his wife Wafa, 34, and their 8-year-old son Ibrahim – who bled to death in the street.

Full Article at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_HOMELESS_IN_GAZA_PHOTO_PACKAGE?SITE=OHLIM&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

see also:  “Aid from Libia Arrives in Gaza” http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/07/18/gaza.libya.aid.ship/index.html

_____________________________________________________________________

Undeniably, Hijab is a means of exerting some measure of control over women in the Muslim world, by the men. It’s not that hijab necessarilly limits women. It is that hijab serves as a constant reminder to people and society that “this is a woman and she is inferior in the eyes of the law”.

Fariba Davoodi Mohajer - July 2010

Rights activist, and emancipated former hijab wearer, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, recounts her slow realization that her hijab was an element of control wielded over her as a woman, and her sesne of emancipation at removing it.

“I saw the hijab as one of the tools that is being used against women to control them and as a tool for repression,” Davoodi Mohajer says. “That’s how I see it, and that is why I decided not to wear it any more.”

After she cast off her hijab, she says:

“For a moment, I felt that there was no greater pleasure in the world than the feeling of the wind in my hair.”

See full article at: http://www.payvand.com/news/10/jul/1118.html