Cameroon and violence on women.
Women in Cameroon want their rights respected with some of the laws in the MAPUTO PROTOCOL respected as well. This year, on International Women's Day, some women marched around the town of Buea singing against violence (against) women. Cameroon signed the MAPUTO PROTOCOL on the 28th of May, 2009. This is an agreement among several African states determined to ensure that the rights of women are promoted, realized and protected in order to enable them fully enjoy all their human rights. All state signatories were to apply these agreements in their countries. Some of these laws are cited below:
- A man and a woman are equal and do have the same rights. In order to be applied the state has to take women’s needs and interest into consideration in their planning and programming.
- To eliminate discrimination against women, the State has to inform and educate the society so that all are aware of the discrimination which is present in our way of doing, our thinking, in our cultural practices, and traditions which make men superior to women; so that once educated, everyone will change his/her behavior in order to stop all practices which are discriminatory to women.
- No woman has to marry before the age of 18 years, and she has to do it out of her free will. The woman has the right to choose with her husband; the place where they will stay; she can continue using her name after marriage, she can keep her nationality and give it to her children; she can dispose of her property as she pleases.
- The woman, in like manner as the man, has responsibility over the family; she has to educate and protect the children.
- In the aspects to pronounce separation, divorce, and annulment of marriage a woman can seek separation, divorce, or annulment of marriage. When separation, divorce or annulment of marriage is pronounced, the man and the woman have to share property and each person is supposed to have what normally belongs to him/her, and both have to take care of their children.
- Widow’s rights should be respected. A widow should not be maltreated in the name of tradition. After the death of her husband, it is the widow who takes over the children. She can remarry if she likes and with whom she pleases.
- The widow has to inherit her own part of the property left by her husband. Whether they signed “joint property” or “separate property” the woman has the right to continue living in the matrimonial home. And even if she remarries, she keeps this right if the house belongs to her.
- The state has to protect poor women; women who are head of families, and women who are vulnerable. It has to provide them with level of life easily adapted to their physical, economic and financial needs. The state has to compensate victims whenever any of the rights and liberties cited by this protocol is violated.
Countries that have signed this MAPUTO PROTOCOL are not following these rights and liberties cited. Africans should take a step forward.
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Saudi Arabia’s state human rights body has hired a lawyer to review the case of a girl whose mother sought her divorce from an 80-year-old man, a move activists hope is a first step against child marriage
Saudi Arabia, a patriarchal society that applies an austere version of Sunni Islam, has no minimum legal age for marriage. Fathers are granted guardianship over their daughters, giving them control over who their daughters marry and when.
The girl — believed to be 12 years old — from Buraidah, a conservative town near the capital Riyadh, was married to her father’s elderly cousin late last year for bridal money of 85,000 riyals ($ 23,000), lawyer Sultan bin Zahim said.
Activists see the divorce proceedings as a test case that could pave the way for introducing a minimum age for marriage in the kingdom, where child marriage is common in poorer tribal areas.
The child’s mother had earlier filed for divorce on her daughter’s behalf but withdrew without giving a reason after a second court hearing in early February, Zahim told Reuters.
The state-affiliated rights body then took over the case, to investigate the mother’s reasons for withdrawal as well as the age of the child and her husband, which have been disputed, before they assess further action that they can take.
The lawyer had previously stated that the Human Rights Commission is filing for divorce on behalf of the child.
“(HRC) became involved in this case as a public rights issue that concerns the Saudi community ... This case is still valid even after the mother withdrew,” Zahim said.
This is the first time the commission has intervened in a case of child marriage, an issue that was previously seen as a “family affair” and outside the commission’s remit.
“This intervention is part of the commission’s authority in accordance with its rules, however it cannot propagate these measures until it confirms the facts in this case,” Zahim said.
Saudi Arabia is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child, which considers those under 18 as children.
“This case is an investment in order to push for a law,” said Wajiha al-Huweider, a Saudi rights activist. “We need to affect public opinion and I believe that Saudi Arabia will issue a law preventing child marriages soon.”
Zuhair al-Harthi, a member of the advisory Shura Council, said a draft law on banning child marriages was being studied by a government committee. But activists fear it could take long.
“Such a law will take a long time to be passed as there are social, religious, and cultural aspects,” said Mufleh al-Qahtani, chairman of the National Society for Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation. Harthi said a quicker way to address the issue could be for the government to ban notaries from performing marriages for girls under the age of 18 years, which would be an intervention on an administrative rather than legal level
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
The case concerns a 27-year-old woman known as Amalia (not her real name) who has cancer that is suspected to have spread to her brain, lungs and breasts. But Nicaraguan authorities have withheld life-saving treatment from her because it could harm the fetus and violate the country's total ban on abortion.
The decision has ignited furious protests from relatives and campaigners who say that Amalia -- who has a 10-year-old daughter and is 10 weeks pregnant -- will die unless treated. Amnesty International has called on the Nicaraguan government to provide the urgent chemotherapy and radiotherapy that her doctors recommend. A government-run medical commission is expected to announce a decision on Monday.
Nicaragua has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world. It is one of the few countries to prohibit abortion under any circumstances. Girls and women who seek an abortion -- as well as health professionals who provide health services associated with abortion -- face jail.
Needless to say, these restrictions have taken their toll. According to official figures, 33 girls and women died in pregnancy in 2009; the year before, 20 died. Amnesty International believes these figures are only a minimum, as the government itself has acknowledged that the number of maternal deaths is under-recorded.
Oh, and it gets worse. According to a survey of media reports between 2005 and 2007, 1,247 girls were reported in newspapers to have been raped or to been the victims of incest in Nicaragua. Of these crimes, 198 were reported to have resulted in pregnancy. The overwhelming majority of the girls made pregnant as a result (172 of them) were between 10 and 14 years old.
Fortunately -- at least for those of us who are horrified by such statistics -- Nicaragua is an outlier. As I reported back in October, the trend has been toward an easing of restrictions on abortions worldwide. Even in Ireland -- which has an abortion law that is only slightly less severe (abortion is permitted when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother) -- things may be changing. Ireland is currently awaiting a landmark ruling from the European Court of Human Rights on the case of three women who accuse the government of putting their health at risk by forcing them to travel abroad for terminations. This case may establish a new international precedent regarding abortion and human rights by enhancing protections for mothers.
But the Nicaraguan abortion ban isn't only a debacle on humanitarian grounds. It's an enormous setback for women's rights in this small country, once at the vanguard of women's liberation in Latin America. It's widely understood that Daniel Ortega, the two-time president of Nicaragua who is currently in power, signed onto this abortion ban as a paean to the country's powerful Catholic Church, which launched an aggressive campaign against abortion back in 2006 (the law was enacted in 2007).
Some of you will remember Ortega from the heady days of 1979. Then, he spearheaded a socialist revolution in Nicaragua, one which subsequently unleashed a civil war that ripped the country apart socially, economically and politically over the course of the next decade. (Thank you, Oliver North.)
Say what you will about the Sandinista Revolution -- and there's plenty negative to say about it -- but one of its signature achievements was to significantly elevate the power and position of women in what had traditionally been a very socially conservative Latin American country. In Ortega's first term as president (1985-1990), 31 percent of the executive positions and 27 percent of leadership positions were occupied by women. Not incidentally, he also supported a limited form of abortion rights.
I lived in Central America in the late 1980s and traveled to Nicaragua while the Sandinistas were still in power. One of my close friends at the time was a senior official in the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Like many other women I met there, she was incredibly proud that her country's government respected and promoted women's rights in a way not seen in that country -- or arguably on the continent -- before.
Sorry, but -- whatever you think about abortion -- this current law does not respect women's rights at the most fundamental level. Rather, it is a huge step backwards for women and girls in Nicaragua. It is also a huge betrayal of some of the more promising -- and one would hope, lasting -- legacies of early Sandinista rule.
Shame on you, Daniel Ortega.
Monday, 15 March 2010
As part of the Stop Violence Against Women campaign, AIUK has been lobbying for an exemption to the No Recourse to Public Funds rule for vulnerable women of insecure immigration status, such as those on a student, spousal or temporary visa. The current rule leaves women of insecure status in violent relationships with the choice of remaining with an abusive partner or risking destitution if they decide to leave by denying them access to public funding (housing, benefits, etc) because the rule could force shelters and refuges to turn away such women.Following intensive lobbying, the Home Office has agreed to a three-month pilot scheme to grant women facing violence, and who have insecure immigration status, the ability to temporarily access a refuge and seek specialised support. While we welcome this, our long-term aim is to get a new ruling to grant women’s refuges the funds they need to offer protection from violence to all women suffering abuse, and to launch an integrated strategy to counter violence against women so as to prevent contradictory policies undermining women’s rights.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
France May Make Mental Violence a Crime
Published: February 25, 2010
PARIS — France’s National Assembly approved Thursday night a proposal to add “psychological violence” to a law intended to help victims of physical violence and abuse, despite doubts that the law is specific enough to have much impact.
The proposed law says that to "act or repeatedly say things that could damage the victim's life conditions, affect his/her rights and his/her dignity or damage his/her physical or mental health'' is punishable by a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to 75,000 euros, or about $103,000. Carefully covering both genders, the law applies to behavior toward a wife, husband, partner or concubine.
Danielle Bousquet, a Socialist, and Guy Geoffroy, a member of the ruling center-right Union for a Popular Movement, wrote the draft law, supported by 30 other legislators. It received backing last November from the government and Prime Minister François Fillon, who called it “very significant progress.”
The new law, Mr. Fillon said, “will allow people to take into account the most insidious situations, which don’t leave a mark to the naked eye but can mutilate the victim’s inner self.” He called the issue “a great national cause,” and the government has started a series of commercials on television to sensitize viewers to conjugal violence, especially against women.
Ms. Bousquet, 64, said that psychological violence could be gradual. “In the beginning, there are only slight offenses, a husband who is a little too insistent and domineering with his wife, but then the husband’s ascendancy becomes more prominent and each time the victim strikes back, the tone changes and physical violence can set in,” she said in an interview together with Mr. Geoffroy.
“Fear isn’t something you can easily simulate,” she said. “It’s not hard to see whether a woman is terrified or not.”
Mr. Geoffroy, 60, said that psychological violence was identifiable, through text messages, testimony and the use of slander. “We are very much convinced that the situation of a woman who is a victim of domestic violence should be better and more clearly recognized,” he said. “We want her to be recognized as a victim and protected.”
Despite widespread support for the law, some legal officials are skeptical. Christophe Vivet, the vice prosecutor of Grenoble and a member of the main union for magistrates, said, “The draft law turns a very vague behavior into an infraction, while in criminal law, behaviors are defined very precisely so that each citizen knows what is or is not allowed.”
The problem, he said in an interview, is that the law “creates a great uncertainty over the nature of a forbidden behavior and gives a large space to the arbitrary,” giving judges too much leeway. Criminal law, he said, “is not the solution for every human behavior, and creating a crime means also setting up a criminal procedure, arrests, and so on.”
In France, Mr. Vivet said, there is another such law, on “moral harassment,” which is “very difficult to implement and hard to establish, because we need elements of proof.”
The law “is paved with good intentions, but we are extremely doubtful about it,” he said. “It relies on the central idea that a woman who files a complaint tells the truth, so it relies on a presumption of guilt, while French law is based on a presumption of innocence.”
Asked on French radio if psychological violence would be hard to prove, Nadine Morano, the secretary of state for the family, argued that “it wouldn’t be hard to prove, because there are, often, many proofs — I think about text messages on cellphones, letters, insults, testimonies. I think about psychological despair.” On a special telephone hot line for female victims, she said, 84 percent of the calls involved psychological abuse.
Ms. Bousquet and Mr. Geoffroy cite an increase in violence against women, saying that a woman dies every 2.2 days in France because of domestic violence. Domestic violence, they said, affects 10 percent of women ages 18 to 60, and about 1.5 million women are victims of violence from their partners.
The law would allow a woman to get a temporary protection order to evict a violent partner or husband, or find another place to live. Another element, imported from Spain and inserted into the law last week by the Justice Ministry, foresees an electronic bracelet with a GPS unit worn by the violent partners, so their movements can be tracked by the police.
The French Senate is examining a similar law, with the intention of reaching a single text, which is expected to receive final passage this summer.
Maïa de la Baume contributed reporting.
Monday, 8 March 2010
And we finally reached Trafalgar Square, where a post-march rally took place.
Founder Sabrina Qureshi announced, "We will end violence against women in our lifetime!!"
Other speakers included Vivienne Hayes, the Director of Women's Resource Centre; Women and the Environment; Kat Elliot, a trade unionist and feminist from Unison; Care International; and women from northern Uganda and the DRC. It was a truly international rally, fitting for International Women's Day.
Preliminary report of the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project
Only 24% of persons seen, heard, or read about in the news are female.
This is one of the key findings of the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP). The preliminary report is being released on 2 March 2010 at a panel discussion and debate on the occasion of the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.
10 November 2009 was an ordinary day at work for newsroom staff around the world. It was, however, a special day for volunteer groups in 130 countries across the world who were poring over their national newspapers, listening intently to radio newscasts and closely watching local television. Pencils and coding grids in hand, their objective was to observe, analyze and record their findings on selected indicators of gender in the news for the Global Media Monitoring Project – the world’s largest research and action initiative on gender in the news media. The project’s overarching purpose is to bring about fair and balanced gender representation in and through the news media.
The results contained in the report are preliminary, based on a sample of 42 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands and Europe. The findings encompass 6,902 news items and 14,044 news subjects, including people interviewed in the news.
Edouard Adzotsa, General Secretary of the Central Africa Union of Journalists and GMMP Coordinator in Congo Brazzaville, observed during the monitoring day that, “News media seems to serve male interests, attention to women is extremely negligible even though women outnumber men nationally, women are the lifeblood of communities particularly in informal settlements and in the rural areas.”
Among the key findings are:
24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news are female; only 16% of all stories focus specifically on women.
Women have achieved near parity as givers of popular opinion in news stories. But less than one out of every five experts interviewed is female, and men predominate strongly as eyewitnesses and providers of personal experience in news stories.
Almost one half (48%) of all news stories reinforce gender stereotypes, while 8% of news stories challenge gender stereotypes. Women in the news are identified by their familial relationships (wife, mother, daughter) five times more often than men.
Overall, news stories by female reporters are much fewer than news stories by male reporters. News stories by female reporters have considerably more female news subjects than stories by male reporters and challenge gender stereotypes almost twice as often as stories by male reporters.
The study reveals overall that women remain grossly underrepresented in news coverage in contrast to men, resulting in news that depicts a world in which women are largely absent. The research also shows a paucity of women’s views and opinions compared to male perspectives in mainstream news reports.
Abebech Wolde with the Ethiopian Media Women’s Association and GMMP Coordinator for Ethiopia said, “We hope that what we are going to say about the representation of gender in the media will be taken seriously by media managers.’’
Comparison with results of the three previous editions of the GMMP carried out every five years since 1995 shows signs of change towards gender balanced and gender responsive news. Female news subjects have increased from 17% to 24% in the last 15 years. Popular opinion in the news is now nearly at parity, compared to 2005 when at 66%, popular opinion was largely provided by men.
Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, has stated in the IFJ publication Getting the Balance Right: Gender Equality in Journalism that “Fair gender portrayal is a professional and ethical aspiration, similar to respect for accuracy, fairness and honesty.”
The Global Media Monitoring Project is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), an international NGO with offices in Canada and the United Kingdom which promotes communication for social change, in collaboration with data analyst Media Monitoring Africa, South Africa. Gender Links, also based in South Africa, provided advice on refining the monitoring tools and methodology. Volunteers taking part in the monitoring day include gender and media activists, grassroots communication groups, university researchers and students of communication, media professionals, journalists associations, alternative media networks and faith-based groups. The project is supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
The preliminary report is available in English at www.whomakesthenews.org
Executive Summaries are available in English, French and Spanish. Final global, regional and national reports will be published in September 2010.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
|Malaysia canes women for adultery|
Three women have been caned under Islamic law for committing adultery, a Malaysian minister has said.
This was the country's first ever case involving flogging of women.
Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, the Malaysian home affairs minister, said on Wednesday the sentences were carried out on February 9 after a sharia court found them guilty of extra-marital sex.
"It was carried out perfectly," Hishamuddin said in a statement. "Even though the caning did not injure them [the women], they said it caused pain within them."
Two of the women were whipped six times while the third received four strokes of the rotan (cane).
He said one woman was released from prison on Sunday, another will be freed in the next few days while the third will go free in June.
The women, and four men, were caned following a decision in the religious courts in December, Hishamuddin said.
His comments are being seen as a signal that the authorities could be preparing to cane another Muslim woman, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who was arrested last year for drinking beer and sentenced to six strokes of the cane.
The case, when first reported, raised concerns that the nation's secular status is under threat, eroding the rights of some 40-45 per cent of the country's ethnic minorities.
Hishammuddin said Kartika's case had flagged concerns about how women should be flogged and that the recent canings demonstrated that the prisons department can carry out punishments in accordance with Islamic law.
Under the sharia, the women have to be whipped in a seated position by a female prison guard and be fully clothed.
"I hope this will not be misunderstood so much that it defiles the purity of Islam," Hishammuddin said, according to state media.
"The punishment is to teach and give a chance to those who have fallen off the path to return and build a better life in future."
The caning, however, has raised new questions about whether a state religious court can sentence women to be caned when federal law precludes women from such a punishment, while men below 50 can be punished by caning.
Malaysia has a dual-track legal system with Islamic criminal and family laws, which are applicable only to Muslims, running alongside civil laws.
Ragunath Kesavan, president of the Malaysian Bar, said it was worrying that the punishment had gone ahead even as the caning issue was being hotly debated by Muslim scholars, religious groups and human rights activists.
"The impression was that Kartika's case would be the first so I've got no idea what has happened," he said.
"It's not as if this is the Middle East... it's not a good signal that they're [the government] sending out."
"We are against any form of corporal punishment, for men or women," Kesavan said. "The fact is that any form of whipping is barbaric."
The case is expected to fuel a debate over rising "Islamisation" in Malaysia, where religious courts have been clamping down on moral offences, as well as a ban on Muslims consuming alcohol that had been rarely enforced.
London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Malaysia to end a caning "epidemic", saying the women's case was "just the tip of the iceberg".
Donna Guest, the group's deputy Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement that Malaysian authorities caned more than 35,000 mostly foreigners since 2002.
"The government needs to abolish this cruel and degrading punishment, no matter what the offense," she said.
Sisters in Islam, a local group of Muslim women activists, said the caning "constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia".