Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ireland's shocking record on women's rights

In recent months there has been a welter of reports about the horror of FGM, or female genital mutilation. The health service in the UK, for instance, is having to deal with thousands of cases, but because FGM is ‘cultural’ politicians don’t appear to be able to do much to wipe it out.
While FGM has become a real cause of concern in the UK – the former foreign secretary William Hague was particularly personally interested in it – nobody ever said a thing about a practice carried out for many, many years in Ireland which is only now being regarded as a similar human rights violation.
It’s called symphysiotomy, or the separation of the pelvis. Put simply, it involves sawing through a woman’s pelvic bone and cartilage during a difficult childbirth to open up the pelvis and enable birth.
It was banned in most places before the 20th century, but in Ireland hundreds and hundreds of women had it done to them, apparently because doctors preferred it to caesarian section. Why? Because c-section limits the number of children a woman can have, and once a woman has been effectively spatchcocked through symphysiotomy the doctors hoped she could have more and more. After all, this is in line with Catholic thinking on family size.
You can see in the attached video what the effects of all this were: women felt butchered, their physical lives and emotional wellbeing wrecked completely by a medical hierarchy which seemed, to campaigners, to insert religious dogma into medical practice. As a violation of a person’s rights, often without their consent, it’s easy to see the comparison with FGM.
It’s widely held that the chainsaws used in this practise were put away for good in the 1980s, but fears remain that since the hospital system in Ireland is still overseen by senior figures in the church, symphysiotomy might not have gone away.
There was a recorded case in 2005 and it’s believed one took place last year, but the medical profession has proved impossible for campaigners to infiltrate. The Irish state offered an ex-gratia payment of $64,000 per survivor without accepting blame, and that’s been ruled out as unacceptable by the survivors.
They want a truth commission, a reckoning.
It’s only a couple of years since Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after miscarrying because doctors refused her an abortion, again in line with Catholic-inspired medical law.
So does the state really know what’s going on in its hospitals?
It’s hardly surprising women’s rights campaigners want the separation of church and state in Ireland. Understanding of symphysiotomy has only just begun to emerge, even in Ireland and not at all anywhere else.
But as the UN’s Nigel Rodley recently observed in his remarks on Ireland’s human rights record, it sits very much in the same bracket as other recent scandals which all saw a passive state answer not to the people but to the Catholic church:

‘Then there remain the many social issues that have been raised by colleagues. The Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes, the child abuse, the symphysiotomy. It is quite a collection, and it is a collection that has carried on beyond any period that it is hard to imagine any state party tolerating. And I can’t prevent myself from observing that all of them are not disconnected from the institutional belief system that has predominated in the state party, and which occasionally has sought to dominate the state party’.

- Nigel Rodley, July 2014

It is amazing how little international attention human rights in Ireland receives. Campaigners around these issues feel very strongly that if the abuses were taking place in parts of Africa or the Middle East they would, fairly, be causes the western media might wish to trumpet.
Perhaps Ireland is too close to home. Perhaps people think it’s all in the past.
But it isn’t, there are thousands of survivors of all these things who have received no acknowledgement from authority – and civil liberties experts argue it’s by no means clear even now that a pregnant woman is going to receive medical attention free from theocratic influence.
Perhaps if Angelina Jolie took an interest it might get more attention.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Dibrugarh University discusses Women's Rights

DIBRUGARH: A two-day workshop on 'Women and Legal Rights' concluded at Moran College in Dibrugarh on Wednesday. Around 100 students and 35 teachers from different colleges of the district participated in the UGC-sponsored workshop which was organized in collaboration with the Indian Red Cross Society, Charaideo branch.

The workshop was inaugurated by Nita Kalita Baruah, professor of Dibrugarh University, and her colleague at Calcutta University, Ishita Mukherjee, delivered the keynote lecture. This was followed by an interactive session where women's legal rights vis-a-vis domestic violence, dowry and crime were discussed. The participants were divided into three groups, Jagriti, Pragati and Nirbhaya.

"If you sensitize college teachers, you can sensitize everyone through them," said Jutimoni Bordoloi, the convenor of the workshop, on the participation of college teachers.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hillary Clinton Accused of Misleading Voters on Women's Issues

WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton is coming under fire for misleading voters about the politically touchy issues of abortion and women’s rights.
At a campaign rally in Aurora, Colorado Tuesday, Clinton warned that pro-life candidates threaten women’s access to abortion and to some forms of artificial contraception.  “(W)omen's rights, here at home and around the world, are clearly at risk unless people of goodwill, both women and men, regardless of political ideology, understand that women's rights are like the canaries in the mine,” she said, according to a transcript of the speech National Journal provided to readers.
“So as a woman and an American, I think it's a big deal in this election. This election is important to everybody, but it's especially important to the women of Colorado,” Clinton said.
Clinton stumped for Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who has slammed his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), for supporting “harsh anti-abortion laws.” Udall’s television ads have drawn criticism as heavy handed.  The Denver Post, the state’s largest paper, accused Udall of waging an “obnoxious one-issue campaign” and endorsed Gardner.
Clinton acknowledged the criticism of Udall’s strategy. "I've heard, some may wonder why Mark Udall has stressed women's rights in his campaign," Clinton said to a crowd of about 1,000 at the Radisson Denver Southeast Hotel. Yet she praised the incumbent Democrat for his record in support of abortion rights and federally subsidized artificial birth control. "I want you to understand that as far as I'm concerned and as far as Mark is concerned, when he's fighting for women's rights, he is fighting on the frontier of freedom,” she said.
Spokesmen for Udall and Gardner’s campaign did not return an email message. But one top congressional aide to a Colorado Republican, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly, dismissed Clinton’s critique and accused her of misleading voters.
“She’s trying to pander around an issue that’s not even happening and coming across as condescending,” the aide said. “I think the tactic is the same tactic that Mark Udall has used, and it’s an insult to the intelligence of female voters. I think women in Colorado are so used to the attack they don’t even pay attention.”
At issue is Gardner’s support for “personhood” legislation. In 2010, Gardner endorsed a state ballot initiative to extend constitutional rights “at the beginning of biological development” and circulated a petition at his church. Gardner rescinded his support for the initiative in March, saying it would restrict some contraception techniques, such as the intrauterine device, which can block ovulation after conception. And in June, he endorsed selling artificial birth control over the counter rather than via prescription. Yet Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the federal “Life at Conception Act,” which would define human life as beginning at conception but require Congress and the White House to pass laws to regulate unborn life.
The bill, H.R. 1091, stands little chance of becoming law. It has 132 cosponsors, short of the 218 necessary to pass the U.S. House of Representatives., a government transparency website, gives the legislation a nine percent chance of passing both houses of Congress and receiving the signature of President Obama.
Establishment pro-life strategists say that pursuing a judicial rather than a legislative strategy is more likely to tighten the nation’s abortion laws and save more unborn lives. They plan to wait until another vacancy on the Supreme Court opens up during a Republican administration and pressure the president to nominate a pro-life jurist.
Clinton, a former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State, is expected to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. She is committed to abortion rights.
The Colorado Republican aide noted that if Roe v. Wade were struck down, state legislatures would set abortion policy. Whether Colorado would approve curbs on abortion is difficult to say, he said, but the suggestion the state would endanger women’s freedoms is a scare tactic. “I think many Americans don’t like abortion. It’s not the preferred choice. That said, what is government’s role in legislating morality? This would be a state by state vote,” he said.


Monday, 27 October 2014

News for Today

Contributed by Farah I. Nájar Arévalo  
Reivindicaciones en auge: desvelando el lenguaje sexista:
This Viral Short Film In India Makes A Strong Statement On Women's Safety
Watch A Bunch Of Little Girls Curse Like Sailors To Promote Feminism
Six months after abducting Nigerian schoolgirls, Boko Haram reportedly wants to free them:
Reducir la desigualdad de género en el sector rural puede aumentar la productividad agrícola y la reducción de la pobreza y el hambre en México:
11 de octubre Día Internacional de la Niña:
Xochimilco exige seguridad; denuncian violaciones, robos y negligencia
La Magistrada Alanis Figueroa representará a México en el periodo 2014-2017 ante organismo internacional: 

Women’s rights take center stage in Wisconsin governor’s race

With the midterm election mere weeks away, the Wisconsin gubernatorial race is heating up. But when it comes to women’s rights, civil rights attorney Carousel Bayrd said, the swing state seems frozen in the past.
A sexual assault survivor and mother of two, she said the state’s current Republican administration has failed to protect women’s rights. “I’m scared something could happen to my daughters and we won’t have access to health care to help them,” said Bayrd, who serves as a Dane County board supervisor in the state capital, Madison. “It’s scary. These are the things that keep me up at night.”
Current polls show voters deadlocked between Democratic candidate Mary Burke and Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Throughout the campaign, Burke’s edge among women has ranged from 6 to 18 percentage points, while Walker maintains the lead among men.
Female discontent with Walker often starts with health care. Holli Harrington is a real estate agent by day and bartends nights and weekends. Her husband, who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, works full time in construction. Earlier this year, the couple lost eligibility for BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. The notification came after Walker refused federal money to expand Medicaid coverage, leaving the state with $100 million in costs over the next two years and dropping  from the program 57,000 adults living just above the federal poverty line.
Harrington managed to sign her husband up for federal Veterans Affairs coverage, and her toddler son receives health coverage, thanks to a 2009 act signed by President Barack Obama. But Harrington, 26, has gone without health care for almost a year. She’s skeptical when she hears the governor say he cares about women. She said she finds him “condescending” and plans to vote for Burke.
Though not all share Harrington’s view, she is definitely not alone. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz chastised Walker in harsh remarks last month, saying he has given “women the back of his hand.” Critics charged that her comments were too much of an allusion to domestic violence and crossed the line.
Since taking office in 2010, Walker has pushed an agenda that includes repealing a law to promote equal pay and a budget that resulted in drastic cuts to Planned Parenthood. In 2013 he signed a controversial bill that demands that women seeking abortions first undergo ultrasounds and prohibits doctors without nearby hospital admitting privileges from performing abortions, potentially limiting access to safe procedures for rural and low-income women.
The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists refute the medical need for such a rule. Planned Parenthood challenged the law within hours of its passage, and it remains blocked pending appeals. Another currently blocked law forbids women to take medication to nonsurgically induce abortion.
Also, Walker eliminated comprehensive sex education, replacing it with an abstinence-based curriculum. After his legislative efforts to abolish contraceptive insurance coverage failed, he blocked enforcement of the state law requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. He justified this unilateral move with this year’s controversialSupreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling, which allowed employers with religious objections to deny contraceptive coverage.
The Walker and Burke campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.
Bayrd and Harrington said they especially worry about Walker’s elimination of Planned Parenthood funding, which ended a 16-year relationship between the state and the family planning organization. Five Planned Parenthood clinics have closed in the past year, leaving 22 open, only three of which provide abortions.
“There’s plenty of people out there who’re doing the responsible thing and going to school, working and using Planned Parenthood to look after themselves, to put themselves in a better position to raise a family the right way later,” Harrington said. “It’s terrible. Especially with as hard as it is to get health care in the first place.”
Sara Finger, the founder and executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, said she finds the Walker administration’s attitude toward women infuriating. His campaign recently aired an advertisement in which he reiterated his anti-abortion beliefs and said he supported “legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options.”
“I’m honestly disgusted,” Finger said of the ad. “If he had his way, he would outlaw abortion altogether, no matter the circumstance. By restricting access to comprehensive health care, he’s hurting women and compromising the safety of women’s health in this state. To say he’s looking out for women’s safety is just a blatant lie.”
Mary Young, a 45-year-old mother of two who lives in the Milwaukee area, called the ad disingenuous, considering the state’s barriers to ensuring access to contraception. A former educator, she said she fears a lack of funding for family planning will lead to an increase in unplanned pregnancies, which will fuel problems related to chronic poverty and education.
“It’s just about belittling women and bullying them into a lifelong responsibility that they don’t want and that they’re not ready for,” she said. “You have to be ready and willing to be a mom. You just do. It’s way too important. It’s way too hard of a job. And it’s also really expensive.”
Despite the outrage Walker elicits in some, current numbers show half the state’s voters identifying with the incumbent’s agenda.
Courtney Mullen is the vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Originally from Green Bay, the 21-year-old senior said she finds it offensive that candidates often target women as a homogeneous group concerned only with women’s issues.
“I don’t always view things through the lens of a woman,” she said. “I try to think for Wisconsin citizens as a whole, and I think Wisconsin has been improving for the past four years. There’s always room for more improvement, and if we re-elect Gov. Walker, that’s the best way to move Wisconsin forward.”
Mullen also dismissed the war-on-women criticism of Walker. In fact, she sees him as supporting women’s rights. “They have poured $15 million into domestic violence shelters and prevention, which is a lot of money,” she said. “And most of the victims are women.”
She cast her first-ever ballot in the heated 2012 recall election, in which Walker prevailed. The recall came after he signed legislation effectively eliminating collective bargaining rights for most public employees, polarizing the state and prompting mass protests.
“As a female voter,” Mullen said, “I value jobs and taxes. It’s not the traditional women’s issues, but all of those things affect me as a female. And I value those things too.”
Young agrees with Mullen that women should consider a wide range of issues. She points to the fight over union rights as one example, as well as deep education cuts. “There are [teachers] making a lot less money than they were,” she said. “It’s impacted a lot of women financially.”
If Wisconsin politics continue in their current direction, Young said she and her husband would consider moving, even though she has called the state home her entire life. She said she wants her kids “to grow up in a community that is progressive, that looks to the future.”
“This election is Wisconsin’s chance to regain our trust,” Young said. “If Walker wins again … maybe this isn’t a place we want to be anymore.”


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Women's rights campaigner Dr Eman Sharobeem recognised with Australian of the Year nomination

Women's rights campaigner Dr Eman Sharobeem is a finalist for the 2015 Australian of the Year awards after receiving a nomination as a New South Wales Local Hero.
Egyptian-born Dr Sharobeem is the director of the Immigrant Women's Health Service in western Sydney.
Her work campaigning to improve the health, welfare and status of women came from personal experience - Dr Sharobeem was forced into an arranged marriage to her first cousin at the age of 15.
"I lived a life of absolute violence," she told 702 ABC Sydney.
"I studied hidden away from my husband."
For 14 years she endured a violent marriage, finding herself widowed with two young sons at the age of 29.
Freed from the shackles of a tyrannical husband, Dr Sharobeem pursued university studies, gaining two doctorates and a masters degree.
Determined that her own experiences would not define her, Dr Sharobeem was inspired to change others' lives for the better.
As chief executive of the Immigrant Women's Health Service, Dr Sharobeem has been recognised many times for her outstanding contributions to women's rights.
"My goal is always to educate the community, engage in a conversation, have a dialogue about girls' safety and girls' future," she said.
"I am absolutely delighted and honoured," Dr Sharobeem said of the nomination.
"Anything I have achieved was because of the support of wonderful teachers and wonderful human beings who held my hand through difficult times."
But despite her efforts, Dr Sharobeem said not enough was being done to stop forced marriages of young women in Australia.
"We're not yet near the right approach against this criminal act against children," she said.
Dr Sharobeem is encouraged by the support of Margie Abbott who has shown a close interest in the plight of young girls forced into arranged marriages in Australia.
The Immigrant Women's Health Service was established in 1987 to address the needs of immigrant and refugee women in regard to health information and health services.
The service, which runs centres in Fairfield and Cabramatta has been involved in stopping honour killings and freeing women from forced marriages in which they were held in sexual servitude.


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Oscar Pistorius: Women's rights groups call for action to combat 'worryingly short' prison sentences for domestic violence

News that Oscar Pistorius could be set to serve as little as 10 months of his five year prison term for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 was met with shock by women’s rights groups today, who called for “robust and urgent action” to end violence against women.
By South African legal guidelines, this means the athlete, who was found guilty of the culpable homicide (the equivalent to manslaughter in the UK) in September, might carry out a shorter sentence for his violent crime than if he had been found guilty of two counts of breaking and entering, or of supplying illegal drugs.
"This case will set a precedent all around the world," Reeva Steenkamp’s British sister, Simone Cowburn, told theDaily Mail ahead of sentencing on Monday. "We do not want other men to get off just because Oscar Pistorius has. It is still homicide.
"If a man steals a block of cheese here, he can get 20 years and that is for theft. But if you take somebody's life like Oscar has, you can get house arrest. It is not right."
Cowburn’s sentiment was echoed by a number of leading organisations campaigning for tougher sentencing for perpetrators of domestic violence.
"Violence against women is a global pandemic with one in three women experiencing violence in her lifetime," Bethan Cansfield, Policy Manager at Womankind Worldwide, told The Independent.
She added that although Womankind did not comment directly on individual cases of violence, "low levels of convictions and short sentencing given to perpetrators of violence against women is rampant across the world."
"This violates a woman’s right to justice and sends a strong message that states do not take violence seriously," she continued.
"As the Oscar Pistorius trial comes to an end, we hope governments across the globe take robust and urgent action to end violence against women. They should also increase support to women’s rights organisations which provide specialist support for women survivors of violence."
Polly Neate of Women’s Aid in Britain added that Pistorius’ sentence was "worryingly short" and declared strong sentences to be "essential" in showing perpetrators of such violent crimes that the law takes domestic violence seriously.
Parents of Reeva Steenkamp leave the High Court in Pretoria after Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prisonParents of Reeva Steenkamp leave the High Court in Pretoria after Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prisonThe White Ribbon Campaign, which aims to end violence against women by encouraging men to support female victims, called for more prominent males to speak out when high profile cases, like the Pistorius trial, come to light.
"What concerns us is the substantial silence from men around the issue when prominent cases of sexual assault or domestic abuse occur," a spokesperson told The Independent.
"Silence is not an option. Silence excuses violence against women and girls. White Ribbon Campaign needs men to join the campaign listening to and as allies of women.
"We ask men to swear the pledge, wear the ribbon and share the message by becoming an ambassador and speaking out."
The 2014 White Ribbon campaign will mark 16 days of action. It will start on the UN International Day to Eradicate Violence against women (White Ribbon Day) on 25 November.
Visit here for more information.