Saturday, May 29, 2010

Aceh: "Tight Pants" Law

From the Epoch Times:
The police in Aceh province began arresting women for wearing tight pants and skirts Thursday after a new law was passed forcing citizens to honor Muslim tradition. 20,000 long skirts were distributed for women to wear until they can adjust their wardrobe. Police are not forcing women to become Muslim, but they are requiring them to wear traditional clothing, reported

“The [Tight Pants] rule applies only to Muslim residents in West Aceh. We don't enforce it for non-Muslims, but are asking them to respect us,” Ramli Mansur, head of West Aceh district told the Associated Press.

Zimbabwe: Women Give Thumbs Down to Unity Govt

From VOA News:
A new survey has found that Zimbabwean women are largely dissatisfied with the country's inclusive government because they feel that it has not improved their lives.

The poll by the Research and Advocacy Unit and the Zimbabwe Women’s Coalition, among other groups, found 85 percent of the 2,000 women surveyed said the government did not represent them as they were not consulted when it was put in place in February 2009 based on a 2008 Global Political Agreement.

Fifty-two percent of the women polled said they had experienced political violence and 16 percent said they knew someone who had been raped in their community.

Carried out late last year, the survey found 51 percent of respondents backing Prime Minister Tsvangirai - but 74 percent said President Robert Mugabe had more power in the current unity government.

Women’s Program Manager Kudakwashe Chitsike of the Research and Advocacy Unit said there is little confidence among Zimbabwean women that the government.

Women in Iran

From the Christian Examiner:
Fourteen months after being arrested for their Christian faith, two young Iranian women were acquitted on apostasy charges.

Maryam Rostampour, 28, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 31, who spent more than 250 days in jail for their faith, were acquitted by the Iranian judicial authorities and warned that any future Christian activity in Iran would be meant with serious consequences.

The young women were arrested in March 2009 and faced apostasy charges and possible death sentences for converting to Christianity and for reportedly engaging in evangelistic activities and Bible distribution.

Rostampour and Amirizadeh endured repeated interrogations, weeks in solitary confinement, and unhealthy prison conditions in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. According to Elam Ministries, both women became seriously sick during their imprisonment and did not receive the treatment they needed, which greatly increased their suffering.

A deputy prosecutor who told them to renounce their faith questioned the women at one point. According to Farsi Christian News Network Rostampour and Amirizadeh stood firm and replied, “We will not deny our faith.”

And from Reuters:
Iran's second biggest city has massively increased the amount it fines for women who fail to observe the Islamic dress code and don't cover their hair properly, media reported.

Morality police around Iran are beginning their annual spring crackdown on women wearing too much makeup, daring to show their hair or dressing in a way that shows their body contours too clearly.

In the holy city of Masshad, the public prosecutor has increased the fine to 1.3 million tomans, roughly $1,300 -- a hefty sum in a country where a teacher's monthly salary is around $500.

"In the past the penalty for not observing the Islamic dress code was 50,000 tomans along with two months' imprisonment," Mashhad's public and revolutionary prosecutor Mahmoud Zoghi told the semi-official Fars news agency.

India: More Female Police Needed

From the Hindustan Times:
Since the day Kiran Bedi was selected as the first woman IPS officer, the Delhi Police have come a long way. However, the elite force is yet to fulfil the expected 15 per cent quota meant for women personnel.

That’s not all: No woman holds the rank of additional commissioner of police or above, i.e. joint commissioner of police, special commissioner of police and of course, the commissioner of police.

These revelations were part of the reply given by the Delhi Police to the RTI query of an activist, Subhash Agrawal.

He had asked the Delhi Police if there was any directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) about the percentage strength of women in Delhi Police, the current statistical data of the force and steps taken to bridge the gap.

The numbers, according to the RTI query reply, are: There are just three women out of 33 at DCP level (10 per cent); none among 49 at Additional DCP rank and just 32 out of 243 (16 per cent) at ACP level.

The women inspectors comprise just 6.16 per cent (79 out of 1282). There are even lesser in number at sub-inspector rank: just 168 out of 4047 (4.15 per cent).

However, the lowest proportion emerged at the head constable level, where women police personnel are just 3.80 per cent (642 of 16,875). Class IV does have a little more than 18 per cent strength of the total, the RTI informs.

The number of women personnel in the force remains low despite the advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Delhi Police to raise the strength of women to 15 per cent of the total manpower.

Women Behind the House of Orage-Nassau

From the Australian:
WHEN the house of Orange-Nassau finally became monarchs in The Netherlands in 1815, it was the result of hundreds of years of manoeuvring: battles physical and political and, Susan Broomhall contends, a solid effort by generations of the family's women.

"The male line was really weak, they died in battle or were minors for many years," says Broomhall, a professor of history at the University of Western Australia. "It was the women who kept reminding people of the family through systematically promoting it, so when The Netherlands decided on a monarchy, their family was the obvious choice." The family still rules, via Queen Beatrix.

A $450,000, four-year Australian Research Council grant will help Broomhall and colleague Jacqueline Van Gent tease out the scope of the women's influence.

"For most of the people who have researched this family it's all been about the men, but there is a whole other side," Broomhall says. "It's a different way of thinking about family."

Australia: Women in Leadership

From the Business Spectator:
In the session on Women in Leadership, Kate O’Reilly, founding director of Optimiss, opened by commenting that there are only eight per cent of women executives in the Australian corporate world.

And in the face of a changing global market, it is vital that Australian businesses must also change.

Rather than adopt the ‘easier’ solution to fix what isn’t perceived as broken, the panellists would like to see more challenging of the status quo and a continuation of shifting demographics.

One initiative is a new ASIC guideline, which will soon enable corporations to voluntarily quote their gender diversity. The concept is based on the successful Norwegian model, where more women are now in leader positions after the model became mandatory in 2005.

Women: The Invisible Homeless

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Homeless women are vulnerable and terrified of being attacked in cities across Australia and the community must open its heart to them, the Prime Minister's wife says.

Ms Rein, who is patron of homeless organisation Common Ground, told the audience homeless women often couch-surfed to avoid rough sleeping.

"Sleeping rough is even more dangerous for women," she said.

"They're sleeping in hidden nooks and crannies, wandering the streets until they collapse with exhaustion, terrified they'll be attacked."

She said a new model of care, pioneered by Common Ground in America, and now being set up across cities in Australia, aimed to give homeless people tenancies.

Permanent housing allows homeless people the ability to rebuild their lives, Ms Rein said.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gorilla Face

From Times Online:
Gorilla-face generally strikes women in their late thirties. You wake up one morning looking like an extra from Planet of the Apes.

Gorilla-face, to give it its technical name, is an occupational hazard for the older woman. When it first strikes is largely down to genes and environmental factors, but it generally starts to happen towards the end of your thirties. You go to bed looking perfectly normal — even quite acceptable in a good light — and you wake up looking like an extra from Planet of the Apes.

What are you thoughts on Sarah's article???

Increase in Human Trafficking

From Thaindian News:
Every month at least 500 girls each are trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh to India through the eastern corridor, and the figures are rising, says award-winning Kolkata-based documentary filmmaker Ananya Chatterjee-Chakraborty.

Chatterjee-Chakraborty has won the Ladli-United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) award for her 89-minute documentary on women and child trafficking, “Understanding Trafficking”. She will receive the prize from President Pratibha Patil May 11 in the capital.

“Some of these girls are sold to brothels while some are forced into farm labour. The best looking ones are sent to the Middle East. The next best category goes to Mumbai,” Chatterjee-Chakraborty, who is also a writer and teaches in St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, told IANS over telephone.

Interpol estimates say trafficking in women and children is a $1 billion global industry that continues to grow every year. Nearly 200,000 girls of Nepali origin work in Indian brothels.

Norway: Best For Mums

From USA Today:
Which country is best for mothers and their children? Norway, according to an annual report by Save the Children. And the United States? Way down the list at No. 28, below Estonia, Latvia and Croatia.

In compiling its 11th Mothers' Index, the charity analyzed factors that affect the health and well-being of women and children, including access to health care, education and economic opportunities. That's why Norway came out on top: Women are well paid, have easy access to contraception and are entitled to generous government-mandated maternity leave.

Following Norway in the top 10 are Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Afghanistan sits at the bottom, behind Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

France: Paris' Trouser Law

From the Telegraph:
The curious rule was first introduced in late 1799 by Paris' police chief, and stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to "dress like a man" must seek special permission from the city's main police station.

This makes the laissez-faire French capital theoretically more hardline than Islamic states like Sudan in the fashion stakes.

But a group of ten French MPs has now submitted a draft bill to parliament to remove the law, which has survived repeated attempts to repeal it.

In 1892, it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted "as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse".

Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were "on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars".

In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city's police chief to bin the decree. His response was: "It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Off the Beaten Track - Three Centuries of Women Travellers

Picked up this little gem at my local library and cannot recommend it enough.

Off the beaten track: three centuries of women travellers by Dea Birkett:
The lives of those who leave their homes to experience far-off lands have always been a source of fascination. Whether travelling for work, love, politics, to escape or simply to broaden horizons, it is the intrepid female traveller who is the most intriguing.

Some of the marvellous ladies who feature in this tome are:
Aphra Behn; Lady Hester Stanhope; Lucie, Lady Duff Gordon; Isabella Bird; Dame Rebecca West (noted for her affair with HG Wells); Lady Florence Dixie; Constance Gordon Cumming; Violet Cressy-Marcks; Dame Freya Stark; Rosita Forbes; Dorothy Mills, Lady Walpole; Lady Mary Wortley Montague; Elizabeth, Lady Craven; Caroline Amelia of Brunswick (Queen Caroline); Jane Digby; Penelope Chetwode, Lady Betjeman; Margaret Stevenson (mother of Robert Louis Stevenson); Charlotte, Lady Canning; Gertrude Bell; Emily Eden; Isaleb, Lady Burton; Flora Shaw, Lady Lugard (named Nigeria); Annie Taylor (first woman to visit Tibet); Jane, Lady Franklin (first woman to climb Mt Wellington, NZ); Amelia Edwards; Mary Kingsley (sister of author Charles Kingsley); Maria Graham; Beryl de Zoete; Marie Stopes; Mary Douglas; Dame Kathleen Kenyon; Fanny Kemble;Vita Sackville-West; Ethel Mannin; Clare Sheridan; Fanny Trollope (mother of novelist Anthony); Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake; Anna Bromwell Jameson; Dame Rose Macaulay; Dame Agatha Christie (yes - the author); Harriet Martineau; Barbara Bodichon; Julia Margaret Cameron; Marianne North; Martha Ricks; Amy Johnson; and finallyAnnie, Lady Brassey.

Okay - I couldn't name but a few! What a collection of amazing women!

UK: Women of Steel

From BBC News:
A memorial is being created to honour women who worked in the Sheffield steel industry during World War II.

The workers, known as the Women of Steel, produced metal which was essential for the war effort.

Sheffield City Council discussed four different options for the permanent city centre memorial on Wednesday.

Its director of culture Paul Billington said the council would work with the surviving women and the public to choose a "fitting and popular" tribute.

He said: "These women carried out hard, sometimes back-breaking work, often at the same time as looking after families because the work was vital to the war effort.

Netherlands: Dutch-Muslim Women

From BBC News:
At a time when the headscarf is a hot issue in Europe, it comes as something of a shock to meet Fatima Elatik.

This feisty 36-year-old - who combines her headscarf with bright red lipstick - is mayor of Zeeburg, a large multicultural district of Amsterdam.

She is the first Dutch-Moroccan woman to become a district mayor - quite an achievement for a woman whose mother arrived in the Netherlands 40 years ago, unable to read or write.

Someone who has to deal with the social problems of male-dominated families is Samira Bouchibti - one of four Dutch-Moroccan members of parliament and Labour Party spokeswoman on youth and family issues.

She is concerned about forced marriage, which still occurs despite efforts to outlaw it.

Birmingham UK: Payout for Council Women

From the Times Online:
About 5,000 women council workers have won a sex discrimination case that could cost taxpayers £600 million in payouts.

Female employees at Birmingham City Council, including careworkers, cleaners and clerical workers, were excluded from bonus payments offered to male colleagues on the same pay grade. In some cases, selective rises and incentives meant that men earned more than one and a half times the salary of women colleagues on the same level. Unions said that the women may be owed £30 million, while solicitors said the payouts could be up to £600 million.

Stefan Cross, whose law firm represented the women, said that the case was indicative of 20 years of sex discrimination in councils across the country.

UN: Intervention To Prevent War-Zone Rape

From NRP (National Public Radio):
The numbers are astounding: hundreds of thousands of women caught in the cross fires of war are raped and subjected to other horrific sexual violence. The United Nations is now stepping up its efforts to prevent rape in war zones. Host Michel Martin discusses strategies to stop rape as a weapon of war with Margot Wallstrom; she's the United Nations' special representative on sexual violence in conflict.
Transcript of Interview of Margot Wallstrom by Michele Martin
.... the United Nations has ramped up a campaign to end systemic sexual violence in war. That effort is called Stop Rape Now and it is led by Margot Wallstrom. She's the United Nations' special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

Iran: Arrested For Suntan

From IB Times:
On Thursday, Tehran police chief Brig. Gen. Hossien Sajedinia has warned that all women sporting a tan will be arrested and imprisoned because this violates the "spirit of Islamic law." Thus, any woman that looked like a "walking mannequin" will be punished.

He said that the Iranian public expects the police to act firmly and swiftly to any social misbehavior caused by women, and men, particularly those who defy the Islamic values. He cited some areas in northern Tehran where suntanned women and young girls look like walking mannequins.

"We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them," Sajedinia said.

Ghana: Child-Bride Protests

Women in the senate and a coalition of Nigerian women's groups, including the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Women Rights Advancement and Pro-tection Alternative (WRAPA) and the Global Association of Women Attorneys (GAFA), are protesting the marriage of former Zamfara State governor and Senate Minority Whip, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima to a 13-year old Egyptian girl.

They took their protest to the Senate, urging the Senate President, David Mark leadership of the Upper House to suspend him for marrying an underaged girl. They are also asking his constituents in Zamafara Central Senatorial District to recall him from the Senate.

The women argued that Mr. Yerima's action is both medically unsafe for the child-bride and legally wrong. They also asked that the senator return the Child to her Egyptian parents or face more protests and possible court action.

“Section 22 prohibits betrothal of a child under the age of 13. Today one of our senators, Senator Yerima, who is a member of the highest law making body in the country, is committing the same offence that attracts the penalty of five years imprisonment or N500,000 fine or both."

He married a fifteen year old girl two years ago who has a child for him. Now a 13 year old girl?

Madagascar: Womens Rights, Human Rights

From All Africa:
The political situation in Madagascar is far from improving, after several unsuccessful attempts from national, regional and international mediators to resolve the political crisis during more than a year.

The cases of human rights violations have been much less publicised than the power struggles among the proponents of the political crisis, not only because such information is not of the kind that the authorities would like to publicise, but also because it has not attracted the attention of the international mediators involved in the protracted process for the resolution of the political crisis, nor that of the mainstream media.

Thus, very few local newspapers have reported on the ongoing campaign by human rights defenders for the immediate release of the so-called 'political detainees' who had been arrested by the police during the street demonstrations of September 2009 and had been waiting in vain for eighth months for their cases to be addressed.

MidEast Maids Unprotected

From Associated Press:
Reforms undertaken by governments in the Middle East to protect domestic workers from abuse are insufficient to shield women working as house maids from abuse and violence, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

Millions of mostly Asian women who work in countries like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates remain at risk of human trafficking, forced labor, confinement and sexual violence, the New York-based group said.

Although several governments have made improvements for migrant domestic workers in the past five years, reform has been slow and incremental, Nisha Varia, the group's senior researcher of women's rights told The Associated Press.

Women working in private homes often work 20-hour days, face forced confinement and are sometimes physically and sexually abused, the report said.

Their passports are confiscated upon arrival, leaving employers in full control of their house maids' lives under what is known as a "sponsorship system."

The custom remains the biggest factor contributing to abuse, leaving women trapped in abusive situations since they are not allowed to legally change an employer, HRW said.