Monday, August 30, 2010

Saudi Arabia: Moroccan Women Banned From Pilgrimage

In banning Moroccan women from a pilgrimage in case they are prostitutes, Saudi Arabia is failing in its Islamic duties ~~~
Recently, however, two Gulf countries – Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – have provoked Morocco's ire. The Kuwaiti channel, al-Watan, has apologised to Moroccans for the animated comedy series Bu Qatada and Bu Nabeel, which sparked outrage for its improper depiction of Moroccan women as scheming witches plotting to ensnare rich Kuwaiti husbands by casting spells on them.

Last month, in another, rather under-reported incident, Saudi Arabia banned Moroccan women "of a certain age" from umra (the lesser pilgrimage), for fear they would abuse theirs visas "for other purposes" even when they are accompanied by male relatives.

This is a reference to an underground sex industry that is believed to be staffed by Arab women smuggled in from the Maghreb and north Africa. Short of calling all Moroccan women prostitutes and their men pimps, there is little more that could have been done to summarily insult the nation. The implication that Moroccans will exploit a visa for a sacred religious ritual to trade and facilitate sexual favours only serves to rub more salt into the wound.

India: Unwanted Daughters

From the Hindu:
India is one of the few countries in the world in which there are fewer women and girls than men and boys: their share in the country's population has declined continuously over the past century. The census of 2001 revealed that for every 1000 males, there were only 946 females. If women and girls are ceded the same life chances as men and boys, including health care and nutrition, there would be roughly equal numbers of females and males. Instead, there were 35 million fewer women and girls than men and boys in 2001. In a stark sense, what these figures establish beyond doubt is that social, cultural — and increasingly technological — processes of discrimination, neglect and hostility have extinguished life chances of these many million ‘missing' girls and women.

UK: The Haven a Haven

From the Birmingham Mail:
Statistics show one in four women will experience domestic violence from a violent partner at some point in their lifetime.

In Wolverhampton, The Haven has five refuges for women and dependent children and is able to cater for nearly 50 people at a time.

That care package involves more than a safe roof over their heads, says family support worker Charlotte Lloyd. Women are also offered counselling, signposting to other services and outreach support when they are able to move on.

Saudi Arabia: Daughters Sue Dad For Spinsterhood

From the Times of India:
In an unusual legal fight, six Saudi sisters have decided to file a lawsuit against their father for repeatedly having turned down their suitors and not allowing them to get married.

The women, all in their 30s, have written a letter to Sultan Bin Zahem, chairman of Saudi Arabia's Advocacy Committee, demanding that they be given the authority to get married.

They allege that their father always turned down their suitors claiming that there was no woman in his family to negotiate the marriage terms.

In the letter, the women alleged that their father has rejected many suitors even though they were pious men and of good conduct, Saudi Okaz newspaper reported.

New Zealand: Women Behind the Brands

The women behind two of New Zealand's entrepreneurial success stories will speak at a business forum next week about how to take homegrown brands to international markets.

Justine Troy, co-founder of vodka label 42 Below, and Erica Crawford, co-founder of wine label Kim Crawford, worked hard to create globally recognised labels with their husbands, who more often than not have received the credit.

Troy and Crawford will speak at the second annual New Zealand Global Women forum, which was established last year to encourage and support women in business and to promote entrepreneurs.

Afghanistan: More Teachers Needed

An Afghani woman whose schools for girls were forced "underground" during the height of the Taliban government has spoken of the positive signs emerging in her troubled country.

Sakena Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995, a non-governmental organisation that provides education, health and medical services.

Dr Yacoobi says she believes "education is the key infrastructure that Afghanistan needs" although the security situation continues to get in the way of delivering it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Philippines: ICM Nuns Celebrate 100 Years

THIS OCTOBER, former students of schools established or administered by the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Immaculati Cordis Mariae, or ICM) will come together for the first time to celebrate the congregation’s 100th anniversary in the Philippines.

It was in 1910 that Rev. Mother Marie Louise de Meester, a Belgian nun who founded the ICM, originally the Missionary Canonesses of St. Augustine, arrived in the Philippines. With three other Belgian nuns, she opened the St. Agustine School in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.

Over the years, the ICM sisters spread out all the way to Sulu, setting up mission houses, clinics and more schools, the biggest of which are St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Quezon City and Cebu City, named in honor of St. Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Catholic Church.

Other ICM schools are St. Louis School Center in Baguio and St. Francis Academy in Balamban, Cebu. (STC on San Marcelino St. in Manila was closed down in 1980.)

STC in Quezon City will be the venue of the culminating activities of the centennial ICM celebrations from Oct. 8-10.

Christine Nixon by Stephen Linnell

Somewhat controversially, from the start of her tenure Christine set an ambitious program to substantially increase the ratio of female Victoria Police officers.

When she arrived, just 15 per cent of officers were female. This had increased to about 23 per cent in 2007 - still significantly short of the national average of 31 per cent.

Read the eye-opening extract from Stephen's book in today's Herald Sun.

Fight to Save Sakineh

About 300 people from rights organizations have demonstrated in Paris to urge Iran to lift its death sentence on an Iranian woman convicted of adultery.

The protesters carried banners reading "Let's Save Sakineh," in honor of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

After international protests, Iran lifted the stoning sentence last month, but she could still face execution by hanging.

Iran-born women's rights activist Anna Pak told Saturday's Paris crowd that Iran must "stop killing men and women" after alleged forced confessions.

Sihem Habchi, of a noted French group representing downtrodden minority women, said Ashtiani symbolizes the "right to be a woman."

Notable Passings: Maram Women

The Women Committee, United NGOs Mission-Manipur (UNM-M) has deeply mourned the sad demise of the two pioneering and remarkable women leaders of the state - Apei Hinga Karangnamei, Queen of Maram Khullen and C.Kipgen, Retired IAS Officer and first woman in the state to join the civil services.

A press release issued by the UNM-M, said Apei Hinga was the only female chieftain among the Naga tribes in the state. She was instrumental in bringing about various social changes in the Maram society, mostly in favour of women. In 1968, she banned the traditional practice of ‘M-Bong-Katai” under which a woman undergoing a difficult labour used to be taken out of the house and kept alone outside, lest her death would defile the whole house. In 1975, the Queen also gave consent to intermarriage among the different khel of the Marams besides encouraging early plantation.

C.Kipgen, as the foremost woman of the state to join the civil services had forged a path of honesty, integrity and dedication to her service with her unfailing sincerity and hard work. She remains an example of honest service in face of the corruption corroding our society today, it said.

The death of these two women has led to a big loss of two of the most important women in the history of the state. The UNM-M further expressed its grief over the demise of the women and said it stood by the families in this time of sorrow.

Breastfeeding Battleground

The Federal Government last year released its National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015, but there has been little action.

It took two years to get a breastfeeding helpline set up following a recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry in 2007. Run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), the helpline receives 1600 calls a week.
Carey Wood, ABA spokeswoman and midwife, says women need to persist with breastfeeding.

“Give breastfeeding a go and if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world,” she says. But opponents say formula is full of chemicals and additives.

Your body, your baby, your choice.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Digging Up Women

Stories of men abound in the Bible, laying bare for us what men did and calling for our applause at their heroism. Archaeology at Bethsaida too tells us that they built walls and roads, fought wars against the Assyrians and maybe even the Romans, went fishing, congregated at the city gates to conduct business and religious rites, and drank beer and wine. But the Bible tells us little about the contribution of women. It touches lightly on the patriarch’s wives and a few others of exceptional strength and ingenuity: Hanna, Deborah, Miriam, Esther, Abigail, Hulda, Judith. We are conscious when we read of these women; they were operating outside their usual domain, albeit they were using the skills learned at the hearth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

India: 70000 Women Die In Childbirth

From the Times of India:
India accounts for a quarter of all maternal deaths globally. Over 70,000 women die in India every year due to complications related to childbirth. That means over two million maternal orphans, little children who have to grow up without their mother to look after them. It is so tragic. Most of these deaths are preventable. And the solution is very clear and simple. It is the implementation that requires hard work. Something has to be done here urgently and I was very keen to see the work of the Alliance in India.

Congo: 150 Women Raped in Raid

From the New York Times:
A mob of Rwandan rebels gang-raped at least 150 women last month during a weekend raid on a community of villages in eastern Congo, United Nations and other humanitarian officials said Sunday.

The United Nations blamed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or F.D.L.R., for the attack. The F.D.L.R. is an ethnic Hutu rebel group that has been terrorizing the hills of eastern Congo for years, preying on villages in a quest for the natural resources beneath them.

The raided villages are near the mining center of Walikale, known to be a rebel stronghold, and are “very insecure,” said Stefania Trassari, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Rape is something we get quite often.”

But she and other United Nations and humanitarian officials said that this attack was unusual because of the large number of victims and the fact that they were raped by more than one attacker simultaneously.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welsh Brothel Sex Slave Shame

Nearly 100 trafficked women from Eastern Europe and Asia are thought to be working in Welsh brothels, according to a new police report detailing the extent of people trafficking in Wales.

The figures were released by Britain’s top cops as they revealed that an estimated 2,600 women have been trafficked in to England and Wales to work in the sex industry.

The Setting the Record report from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) found that about 17,000 of the estimated 30,000 women working in off-street prostitution are migrants.

Of those migrants, 2,600 were deemed to have been trafficked, while 9,200 were identified as vulnerable migrants who may be further victims of trafficking.

But Jeff Farrar, assistant chief constable of Gwent Police and Acpo Cymru’s lead on protecting vulnerable people and human trafficking, said the picture in Wales was not reflected by the overall statistics in the report.

There are estimated to be 479 women working in off-street prostitution in Wales. Of these, an estimated 55 are Asian, with a further 40 from Eastern Europe and another 48 whose origins are unknown, as well as 337 who are British.

Record Number of Detainees At Muskogee

Oklahoma incarcerates almost twice as many women as any other state.

Before those women reach Department of Corrections prisons, they must stay in local jails. A recent rise in female inmate population has created concerns inside the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility.

“We’ve never had this many female inmates in the history of this jail,” said Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson.

The number of women inmates may sound relatively small — a daily average of 45 in a jail set up for a maximum total population of 282 and which can hold up to 330. The daily average from April 2009 to January 2010 was 20.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One of those moments ...

Just had a "one of those moments" moments - dicovered the "follow" option at the top of my blog.  Yes it had been there all this time but for some strange reason I have never seen it before today.

Used it to follow a blog which only had the option to follow via twitter (which I don't have / use).

Must go back and follow all those other blogs I have bookmarked!

Womens Equality Day - 26th August

From the Capital Flyer:
This year is the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the United States. At the first women’s rights convention in 1848 the call for women’s right to vote was heard. That call was answered on Aug. 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was officially approved.  At a time when women were intended to be seen and not heard, American suffragists braved reprimand and hardship by speaking out on behalf of all women.

For 72 years the non-violent movement continued. Extraordinary women arose in each state and became part of history themselves when they successfully secured civil rights and political independence for American women. This 90th Anniversary offers a unique opportunity to pay tribute to their bravery, determination, and tenacity and to their lasting achievement.

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia invites all women and men to join them on Thursday at Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Palestine & Its Women

From the Huffinton Post, Fadi Elsalameen reflects of the role of Palestinian Women:
After spending a month in Palestine visiting the government sector, the private sector, and the NGO sector, I am convinced of the following: Palestinian women are the biggest hope left for the future of Palestine.

Among many meetings, I met Mrs. Diala Saadeh, the Vice President of Global Operations at Sahem Trading & Investment Company in Ramallah. Diala left her job with Reuters in London and returned to Palestine to improve Palestine's global trading performance with Sahem. I learned for the first time that you could invest in Palestine while living abroad. I thought to myself, "we may not have the right of return yet, but we can still make tidy returns on our investments."

From YNET Magazine, Ali Waked reports on the growing role of women in Palestine:
Alongside the far-reaching achievements presented by the Palestinian government in its latest annual report, an additional, feminine revolution is taking place in the West Bank, touching on issues which have been considered taboo until recently.

The female presence in the Palestinian government institutions has become increasingly significant, and now – despite all difficulties – women are making their way to the top in other civilian areas, but also within the ranks of the security organizations.

One of the prominent places for the formation of the feminine Palestinian revolution is the legal arena. Only recently, and after women's organizations and human rights groups have been denouncing the extent of the "honor killing" phenomenon for years, the PA decided to remove the concept from the Palestinian agenda.

The PA's criminal law, which tended to show leniency towards such murders and mitigated the sentences of those responsible for them, has been changed following a Palestinian government decision that it would now be recognized as a regular murder.


Young Womens Forum:

UNIFEM (part of UN Women) is organizing a Young Women’s Forum on 24 August 2010 during the World Youth Conference 2010. The forum will create a space for discussing the potential of young women as agents of change in accelerating their human rights and empowerment, so that they can better contribute to the development of their societies. There will be a live webcast and online discussion.

Namibia: Womens Health Urgent Priority

From AllAfrica:
THE deteriorating state of women's health worldwide has become "an urgent priority" for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In order to address these concerns, the WHO said there was an "urgent need for more coherent political and institutional leadership, visibility and resources for women's health to enable us to make progress in saving the lives and improving the health of girls and women in the coming years."

In its latest report on women and health, launched in Windhoek this week, it is stated that although women live longer than men, their longer lives are not necessarily healthy lives.

The report also brought under the spotlight how a lack of income could affect women's health, especially regarding maternal mortality.

Chechnya: Women Without Scarves Targetted During Ramadan

From Reuters:
Many women in Russia's volatile Chechnya region said on Friday they had been harassed and some physically harmed by bands of men for not wearing headscarves during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Against the backdrop of a spreading Islamist insurgency, many fear that growing interest in radical Islam could fuel separatism in the volatile North Caucasus, where the Kremlin watches uneasily as sharia law eclipses Russian.

Residents and witnesses told Reuters that bearded men in traditional Islamic dress have been roaming the streets both on foot and in cars since Ramadan started on Aug. 11, demanding bare-headed women wear a headscarf.

Indonesia: Women Only Carriages

On Thursday, Indonesian women started using female-only railway carriages in Jakarta, part of a scheme to protect women from harassment on packed commuter trains.

State-owned railway company PT Kai currently provides 20 of these female carriages and plans to add more in the next three months.

The trains manufactured in Japan are the only fast public transport service between the four city suburbs connecting Jakarta, and women make up almost half of the 500,000 commuters a day.

First introduced in Japan in the year 2000, other countries such as India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brazil also operate women-only carriages.

Nigeria: Women Protest at Chevron Pipeline

From Bloomberg:
Nigerian women protesters have besieged the site of a Chevron Corp. natural gas pipeline project in the Niger River delta, halting construction work for the second time in two months.

The women, who are demanding electricity for their community and action against environmental damage due to oil activities, turned up in the hundreds at the Chevron pipeline building site on the Escravos River yesterday, Isaac Botosan, a spokesman of the Ugborodo community, where the women come from, said today by phone from the southern city of Warri.

The protesters, who had occupied the same site for several days in July, are angry that the government and the oil company have yet to address their demands, he said.

Afghanistan: Brutality Creates Fear

From NRP:
The Taliban has denied that its militants tortured, hanged and shot a widow in Afghanistan's western Baghdis province for adultery.

It's not the principle the Taliban disagrees with — in a lengthy press release, a Taliban spokesman said that the woman should have been stoned to death instead.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the stoning in a separate case of a couple put to death in Kunduz province. But he has also been careful in public statements to avoid mentioning topics like women's rights.

Human-rights advocates say the U.S.-supported government of Afghanistan has not done enough and that the government's reaction raises questions about plans to reconcile with the Taliban

Embracing Facial Hair

From Julie Bindel at the Guardian:
As a proud lesbian feminist I have campaigned for years against the beauty industry and cosmetic surgery. I have never worn makeup, except once, as an experiment for these pages, and for years I even refused to wear a bra – until I had to dress up in vaguely smart clothing occasionally for work.

But we all have an achilles heel, and mine is facial hair. I hate it, both on myself and other women. I have a particular terror of fuzz appearing on my face, and always carry one lone item of beauty equipment: tweezers. Luckily, I am not particularly afflicted, although in recent years I have noticed one long black hair that sprouts from my left cheek, another under my chin, and a few barely noticeable ones above my lip. The second they appear they are instantly torn asunder.

My fear of the fuzz is hardly unusual. Even in the thick of the late 1970s women's movement, I remember a close friend – a fellow lesbian and hard-line feminist – confessing, "I'm so glad I discovered electrolysis before feminism!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Afghanistan: Couple Stoned for Adultery

From Dawn:

A man and woman have been stoned to death in northern Afghanistan after being accused by the Taliban of having an affair, a witness and an official said Monday.

The 23-year-old woman and 28-year-old man were killed because “they had an affair,” said Mohammad Ayob, the governor of Imam Sahib district in Kunduz province.

“Two people were stoned to death by Taliban in Mullah Quli village late yesterday,” he said. The village is under the control of the Taliban.

Mullah Quli resident Abdul Satar said about 100 people, most of them Taliban insurgents, gathered in the village on Sunday evening as a statement was read out saying the pair had confessed to their affair.

He said the man was married to someone else, and the woman was engaged.

“The Taliban convicted both to stoning to death, some from the crowd started throwing stones at the couple until they died,” Satar said.

The couple had their hands bound behind their backs and were forced to stand in an empty field as their sentence was carried out, he said.

Under Islamic Sharia law, sex between unmarried people is punishable by public beatings, while punishment for those caught in extra-marital affairs is death by stoning.

Earlier this month, the Taliban publicly flogged and then killed a pregnant widow for alleged “adultery” in western Badghis province.

The killings are a grim reminder of the Taliban's harsh 1996-2001 rule, when apparent crimes were brutally punished after summary trials.

Iraq: Voice of Women Still Goes Unheard

From CBS News:
When leading prominent Iraqi women leaders from all across the country gathered in Baghdad in June 28, 2010 they had only one question on their mind: Ela Mata? Until when? The question was directed at leading political parties engaged in negotiations over government formation after the recent elections.

The group of over ninety Iraqi women from across Iraq had first met in April to highlight several challenges facing women in Iraq and produced a declaration highlighting Iraqi women’s priorities that were signed on to by over three thousand Iraqi women all across the nation.

However, only a few months later, women leaders from different political, ethnic, and religious backgrounds felt that discussions to address challenges facing women were futile if an Iraqi government was not in place. The growing fear that the dire security situation of 2006 and 2007 could reemerge overshadowed all other concerns and prompted the challenge to the leading parties: Until when?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Annie Besant

From One India:
Annie Besant is a well known lady till today . She was born in the year 1847 in London to a middle class family of Irish Origin. She is the most prominent Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator. She supported the Irish and the Indian self rule too. In the year , 1873 she married Frank Besant and moved to London where she became the speaker for National Secular Society. She also travelled to India in the year 1898 and helped to establish the Central Hindu College in India.

In the year 1908 the famous Annie Besant became the President of the Theosophical Society. She began to steer the society away from Buddhism and towards Hinduism. By joining the Indian National Congress she became involved in politics in India. She also helped to launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India and the dominion status within the empire which culminated in her election as president of the Indian National Congress.

She was such an extraordinary person , she fought for the causes she had thought that was right , they were women' rights, freedom of thought, secularism, birth control Fabian Socialisim and worker rights. Besant was a prolific writer and a powerful orator, she wrote a column for the National Reformer which was the newspaper of the National Secular Society. In the year, 1889, she was wrote a review for the Pall Mall Gazette on the Secret Doctrine.

She became the member of the Theosophical Society and visited India for the first time in the year 1893.In her honour a neighbourhood near the Theosophical Society called Besant Nagar in Chennai,was named.

After the war that broke out in Europe in the year, 1914, Annie continued to campaign for Indian Independence until she passed away in 1933.

No More Tears

From the Miami Herald:

Today, her four-bedroom Plantation home is the headquarters of No More Tears, a nonprofit Ali founded in 2006 to help immigrant women in South Florida escape domestic abuse.

The women (46 so far) hail from distant lands -- India, Russia, Guyana -- and nearby countries including Cuba and the Bahamas. They come from many faiths, and often arrive in South Florida via arranged marriages. They're cleaning women. Homemakers. Teachers.

Ali, 34, finds them apartments and rounds up donated furnishings. She lines up jobs or training, registers their kids in school and baby-sits when needed. All the while, she inches the women toward independence.

``It is like they are being held captive. They don't have a say,'' she says. ``It's ridiculous that this is happening in the United States. We have to learn about it and do something about it.''

Mormon Feminism Is Back!

A new kind of feminism seems to be sweeping across Mormonism.

LDS women are connecting on the Internet, exploring women’s issues, debating theology and sharing their personal joys and agonies in the arms of their male-run church. Unconcerned about possible disapproval — and even hearing hints of encouragement in sermons — the faith’s “silent majority” is reaching out to tell its stories in new ways and new places to new audiences.

A prominent British newspaper, the Guardian, published an essay this week by LDS blogger Tresa Edmunds, who unabashedly explained her dual nature as a Mormon and a feminist. Also this week, Newsweek featured Neylan McBaine, founder of a website that profiles lively and unique LDS women, examining the changing views of Mormon motherhood.

This summer, Exponent II, the decades-old quarterly for Mormon women that stopped printing in 2006, was reborn.

Canada: Asian Women Fight For Rights

From the Star:
“We immigrant women made great sacrifices to come here,” Jahangir says. “But we did not come here to be idle and beg. We did not come here to be baby machines. We came here to work, and we want to be part of building a nation.”

The group held its first public meeting in the fall of 2007. In early 2008, it became a registered non-profit organization. In its first year, with $750 in seed money from COSTI immigrant services and a small grant from the Freedonia Foundation, the group ran 40 workshops on settlement services, each attended by about 50 women.

By 2009, the women had raised about $60,000 from the United Way and several other foundations and began renting office space on the main floor of Jahangir’s apartment building. In the winter and spring of that year, they knocked on 1,200 doors and interviewed 400 women about their experience in Canada. They found that 80 per cent of the women had university degrees, and most were angry about the lack of child care.

They rented buses to protest at provincial poverty-reduction forums and federal standing committee hearings. And they wrote letters, signed petitions and met with area politicians to demand action.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This World - Stolen Brides

This World: Stolen Brides (BBC2) was a harrowing account of the repopularisation of an ancient Chechen practice: kidnapping women off the streets in order to force them into marriage with men they have barely met.

Lucy Ash's investigations took her into the homes of recently kidnapped women, where mullahs and family patriarchs sat together to decide what their daughters and granddaughters' fates should be; into the presence of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, who is allowed by Moscow to promulgate his version of Islam and Sharia law within the supposedly secular state in return for his work putting down insurgencies; and into the new Islamic Medical Centre where women are exorcised of the demons that are preventing them from settling down happily with their new husbands. Scatter inverted commas throughout that last sentence as you see fit. I, frankly, am too depressed.

The interviewed relatives were often distraught, occasionally aggrieved and ultimately resigned. The husbands were unrepentant – though not, to judge from their discomfort at the questions Ash put to them about the possible cruelty of their actions, wholly oblivious. A picture emerged of the fertile soil in which the tradition had begun to flourish once again. A history of violence and subjugation has left generations of Chechen men frustrated and radicalised, willing to bend religion's rules to allow them to seize this method of making themselves feel empowered again. Cultural traditions must be clung to if any sense of national identity is to survive Russia's stranglehold.

Sth Korean "Comfort Women" Slam Apology

There have been angry protests in the South Korean capital Seoul after the Japanese prime minister's apology for his country's often brutal occupation of the Korean peninsula a century ago.

The apology has been met with mixed responses in Seoul, where South Korean politicians reportedly 'noted' the apology but said it failed to go far enough. Hundreds of South Korean women enslaved by the Japanese as so-called comfort women during the occupation have also held noisy protests outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul denouncing the apology.

Rise in Female Suicides

Two rather disturbing reports on women driven to the edge.

From ABC News:
Government statistics in Afghanistan have raised concerns that a growing number of Afghan women are attempting suicide.

The government says every year about 2,300 women or girls attempt to kill themselves, mainly due to mental illness, domestic violence and poverty.

Rachel Reid, Afghan analyst from Human Rights Watch, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program there are a range of issues facing women in Afghanistan.

The report shows a several-fold increase in suicide attempt compared to 30 years ago, including more than 100 cases of self-immolation at Herat City Hospital in the past year, and an increase in the number of women using pharmaceuticals to kill themselves.

And from the Indian Express:
Three married women have committed suicide, in separate incidents, following alleged mental and physical harassment by their husbands and in laws over the last two days.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Noble Deeds of Women - Courage

Noble Deeds of Women - Patriotism

Noble Deeds of Women - Benevolence

Noble Deeds of Women - Voluntary Exile

Argentina: Illusions of Care

Anybody wonder why we need a UN women's agency? Maybe the latest report from Human Rights Watch - out today - will offer some clues. It's about Argentina - not the poorest or the least sophisticated or illiberal country in the world. It voted to legalise gay marriage, after all. It has a woman president. Yet thousands of women and girls there, says the report, "suffer needlessly every year because of negligent or abusive reproductive health care".

Argengtina has far from the worst record in Latin America. No less than five countries ban abortion under any circumstances. Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic refuse to allow it even if it means the woman's death. Argentina and the others are not quite so harsh.

But international human rights law says that women have a right to make decisions about if, when and how many children they have, says Human Rights Watch. In Argentina, those rights have been "systematically flouted for years", it says.

Women Defy With Symbolic Action

From UPI:
A group of Israeli women say they smuggled a dozen Palestinian women and four children into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for a day of fun in defiance of Israeli law.

The Palestinians were treated to a meal at a restaurant, swimming in the Mediterranean and a bit of sightseeing about two weeks ago, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

The Israeli women, including writers Ilana Hammerman and Klil Zisapel, picked up the Palestinian women in their villages, after meeting with them twice previously, and brought them into Israel, avoiding security forces at West Bank checkpoints.

Hammerman had accomplished a similar outing with three teenage Palestinian girls in May, Haaretz said. Peace activists approached her about doing the second trip, the Tel Aviv newspaper said. None of the Palestinians had permits to enter Israel.

"We all came, we met the women, we took them in our own cars. We pulled a fast one on the army," Hammerman said.

"We passed the checkpoints in our cars, knowingly breaking the laws of entry into Israel," the Israeli women said in an ad published in the Hebrew weekend edition of Haaretz.

"We don't recognize the legality of the entry law into Israel, which allows every Israeli and every Jew to move freely throughout most of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and denies this right to the Palestinians, to whom this land also belongs."

Hammerman called it "a symbolic act" meant to fuel debate.

New Face of Kashmiri Women

The freedom movement in Indian Held Kashmir has received fresh impetus with its women taking up the cause of freedom. The situation in Kashmir has greatly deteriorated since the death of a 17-year-old student, who succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a teargas shell. Protest rallies have been baton charged, teargassed and brutally fired upon, with more than 50 lives being lost. However, just as the freedom struggle seemed to be stagnating, the women emerged on the streets, beating on their utensils, throwing stones at the Indian forces and chanting slogans for freedom.

Over the years, Kashmiri women have played an important role in the struggle for freedom. Names like Asiya Andrabi, who led protest rallies comprising Kashmiri women, have filled volumes. However, the image of Kashmiri women in the liberation struggle has been mostly of wives, mothers, sisters or daughters mourning over the dead body of a relative, who embraced shahadat as a result of the atrocities of the Indian army. The new face of the Kashmiri women is unparalleled. Hundreds of women and girls, many in shalwar kameez, have since been regularly out on the streets chanting “we want freedom!” and “blood for blood!” Indeed, their message is loud and clear. Although the Indian army has not refrained from targeting the unarmed women, dealing with female protesters is a fraught challenge for the police and paramilitary troops. Many women who do not directly take part in rallies carry drinking water to the protesters and also direct youths down escape routes as they flee from baton charges, teargas and gunfire.

Exasperated by the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, India’s Interior Minister P. Chidambaram has alleged that Pakistan may have instigated these protests. This is the first time New Delhi has linked Pakistan to the recent spate of violence in the Kashmir Valley that began on June 11. Earlier, India had said Pakistan-based militants were inciting trouble in the region. “Pakistan appears to have altered its strategy in influencing events in Jammu and Kashmir,” Chidambaram told the Indian Parliament during a debate on the protests. India, however, remains confident that it can foil Pakistan’s “evil designs” if it is able to win the hearts and minds of the people.

Women of the Wall: Kotel Services

From the Jerusalem Post:
Despite the raucous and sometimes violent uproar that has at times accompanied their previous gatherings inside the women’s section at the Western Wall, Women of the Wall, a group that promotes, “the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah at the Western Wall,” will hold their monthly Rosh Hodesh service at the holy site on Wednesday morning.

“On Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 7:00 a.m., Women of the Wall will return to the Western Wall (Kotel), with over one hundred women in attendance, for their regular monthly Rosh Hodesh services, to celebrate the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul 5770,” a statement released by the group on Tuesday read.

Divorced Muslim Women on the March

From the Times of India:
The Muslim women are beginning to demur with patriarchal notions of bias and control. At least this much was evident when 100-odd angry women marched down the congested alleys of old city here, waving placards and shouting slogans. It was a sight none must have ever seen before.

The 1.5-km walk in this uber conservative neighbourhood ended at the residence of Abdees' and marital home of Hina and Arshi, the two among three women who had roughed up some maulvis of the Shariat court in June for issuing ex-parte talaqnama. Amid tight security and after much drama, the two muscled their way in, leaving their morose looking in-laws with no option but to watch them in silence. The fierce army of chaperones then left, promising to keep in touch.

"The incident proves that Muslim women have had enough of mullah interference,"declared state convener of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan Naaz Raza, who led the march. This could just be the beginning, warned her colleague Naish Hasan. The feisty lady spells big trouble for the maulvis with her outspokenness. This year has seen at least a dozen anti-women fatwas from Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband. Women are forbidden to ride bicycles, join public office without hijab, talk loudly, join judiciary or even talk to their fiance before marriage. And now they have one question, said Naish, "Just why not?''

"When a woman puts a 'daliya' (wicker basket) on her head and carries bricks, no mullah advises her not to work beside men. But the moment she dons a stethoscope or a black coat, there are restrictions galore,"complained Shahnaz Begum.

The semi-literate chikan worker from Bansmandi says, "Maulvis are scared they may lose their importance once women begin to exercise their brains. And each issue, from condoning triple talaq to pronouncing anti-woman fatwa, only shows their insecurity."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Ebell Club

From the New York Times:
... the Ebell Club, a women’s social club that still operates in one of its original buildings, erected in 1927 in the Hancock Park neighborhood. Established in 1897 as a substitute for the university education that women were largely denied, the club had 2,500 members in its heyday in the 1920s, and activities included Shakespeare, gardening and art appreciation.

The club, one of the first of its kind in the country, is now struggling with a 21st-century problem: how to convince modern women that such a club has contemporary value to them.

Women’s clubs were established in American life shortly after the Civil War. “It was a time women all over the country decided a woman’s place is not in the home, that they needed to get out,” said Karen J. Blair, a history professor and expert on women’s clubs at Central Washington University. “So they got together to study literature, history, philosophy and poetry.”

In 1868 in New York, a journalist named Jane Cunningham Croly founded her own club, Sorosis, after she was denied entry at an all-male press club where Charles Dickens was speaking. Ms. Croly was instrumental in the creation of clubs throughout the country, whose missions soon began to include various political and social welfare agendas, from women’s suffrage to child labor to public health.

The Ebell was named after Adrian Ebell, a German professor who traveled around California forming study groups for women. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Ebell was one of the largest and most elite clubs in the nation, rivaled only by the Friday Morning Club in downtown Los Angeles.

SA: Women Remember Tshwane Women's March

From IOL News:
In 1956 more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings to inform the apartheid regime they were tired of being oppressed and were opposed to having to carry passes.

Yesterday, women again marched to the Union Buildings, but to celebrate the stalwarts who risked their lives in the 1956 march.

While thousands gathered at venues across the country, Tshwane executive mayor Gwen Ramokgopa led a group of women from Lilian Ngoyi Square (formerly Strijdom Square) to the Union Buildings where they celebrated and discussed issues affecting them.

"Exactly today on August 9, 1956, 20 000 brave women led by our great struggle icons and woman stalwarts, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn embarked on a historic march here in Tshwane - one of the largest demonstrations staged in this country's history," said Ramokgopa.

AFL: All-Girl Umpires in SA League

THE first all-female umpiring panel will soon hit the ground for a Southern Football League game to help raise the profile of women umpires.

Eight young women will umpire the A-grade match between Port Noarlunga and Aldinga on Saturday, August 14, in a first for South Australian footy at this level.  One of the organisers is ump Steph Morrison, 21, from the Combined Southern Leagues Football Umpires Panel.

“We were out with girls having a movie night when we got into discussing how we could promote female umpires and we decided to start with our local leagues,” Morrison, of Glengowrie, said.

Last month, she was invited to be part of an umpiring team that made history in the Barossa Light & Gawler Football Association when all but the two goal umpires were women.

Morrison said the group had come up with the idea of an all-female panel early in the season but decided to hold off until the SFL’s White Ribbon round.

Ireland: More Women Needed In Politics

From the Irish Times:
GREATER POLITICAL involvement by women in decisionmaking in Irish politics will help Ireland progress as a society, an academic has predicted ahead of a conference that will discuss women’s political representation.

Dr Sandra McAvoy, historian and lecturer in women’s studies at University College Cork, said Ireland had slipped internationally to 82nd in a world classification table of women’s representation in parliament.

There are 23 women in Dáil Éireann, accounting for just 13.85 per cent of seats. The figure for Seanad Éireann is only marginally better, where 12 of the 60 senators – or 20 per cent – are women, she said.

Women account for 17 per cent of members of local authorities and just 12 per cent of the members of regional authorities, while in the last general election only 82 women out of 470 candidates were women, representing the lowest number of women since 1989, she said.

“Back in 2002, I think it was estimated that it would take 360 years for women to achieve equal representation in Irish politics, but given that the proportion of women in politics has decreased since then, it’s going to take even longer,” said Dr McAvoy.