27 Nov 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & Women's Rights

NPWJ press release

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: Political commitment must be turned into concrete and effective policies
No Peace Without Justice, 25 Nov 2018

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) takes this opportunity to remember the too many gaps hindering – at various levels and sometimes in a brutal and cruel manner – the process towards the full recognition and protection of women’s rights as universal human rights. Millions of women and girls worldwide are still victims or at risk of violations of their human rights, as both a result and a perpetuation of gender inequality and discrimination that denies them the most basic forms of personal autonomy and self-determination. They are victims of sexual abuse, exploitation and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage. In many parts of the world, women who have the courage to fight for their dignity by challenging regressive social conventions are exposed to great personal risks, including social rejection, harassment, imprisonment and even death.

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Chinese Courts Give Domestic Abusers a Pass
Human Rights Watch, 26 Nov 2018

“In principle, in divorce cases, the first time one sues for divorce, it won’t be granted. [Marriage is] a traditional value,” said Judge Zhang Yanbin in the Chinese city of Chengdu, ruling against a woman’s petition for divorce. “We made the ruling to give the man a chance.” In June 2017, during an argument about their daughter’s education, the husband of Dong Fang (a pseudonym) severely beat her and their daughter. Dong sought and obtained a protection order. Five months later, she filed for divorce. After a hearing, Judge Zhang denied Dong’s application, citing marriage’s “traditional value.” The judge also said that because the beating was not “chronic,” he did not view it as constituting domestic violence. Yet there is no requirement in China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Law that assault must be “chronic” to be considered domestic violence. And the Marriage Law explicitly states that domestic violence is grounds for divorce. So Judge Zhang’s “principle” that a first-time application for divorce should automatically be denied has no apparent basis in Chinese law.

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Call to end violation of women’s rights by siege countries
Gulf Times, 26 Nov 2018

Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Committee Mariam bint Abdullah al-Attiyah called on the international community and international human rights institutions and organisations to take effective and strong measures to end the violence experienced by women in the region as a result of the grave violations committed by the siege countries. In a speech on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which falls on November 25 each year, the NHRC secretary-general said that while the international community is making vigorous efforts to protect women from violence, women in Qatar and the Gulf countries are marking this day while being subjected to the most severe forms of moral, psychological and physical violence as a result of the unjust siege imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt on June 5, 2017.

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Croatian MEP Biljana Borzan named EP Rapporteur for Women’s Rights in Western Balkans
European Western Balkans, 25 Nov 2018

Biljana Borzan, Member of European Parliament from Croatia, has been named a Rapporteur for Women’s Rights in the Western Balkan countries, HRT reports. Borzan is a member of Socialist and Democrats group in the Parliament and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). According to the sources, Borzan has recently finalised a draft resolution on the subject, which will be discussed before the Parliament in February. The resolution highlights discrimination of women in the region, especially when it comes to their position on the job market, but also tackles the issue of family violence.

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Bolivian Government Committed to Protecting Women's Rights
Prensa Latina, 25 Nov 2018

The commitment to implement policies for the protection of the rights of women and girls in Bolivia, recognised by the United Nations (UN), was reiterated on Sunday by President Evo Morales. 'On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we reiterate our commitment to guarantee all Bolivian women a dignified life and full respect for their rights. Women are sacred for the family, and this is something we must teach our children,' Morales wrote in his Twitter account. He highlighted in another twit that Bolivia has legal instruments such as Law 348, Comprehensive Action to Guarantee Women a Life Free of Violence, qualified by the UN as a reference of its kind. According to data from the South American Public Prosecutor's Office, every three days a woman dies from this scourge. At global level, the United Nations warns that 35 percent of women suffered physical and/or sexual violence from their partners or sexual violence caused by a different person.

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UK pledges £50m to help end FGM across Africa by 2030
The Guardian, 23 Nov 2018

The British government is to invest £50m in an attempt to end female genital mutilation by 2030, claiming it is the single biggest investment to tackle the issue by an international donor. The money, announced on Friday, will go to grassroots programmes working to stop the practice across Africa, where it is most prevalent. Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, said the investment was also key to ending FGM in the UK.

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‘US is moving backwards’: female genital mutilation ruling a blow to girls at risk
The Guardian, 22 Nov 2018

A historic ruling that declared unconstitutional a US law banning female genital mutilation (FGM), and dropped key charges against practitioners was an “outrageous” blow to the rights of tens of thousands of girls at risk of the abuse, according to campaigners. US district judge Bernard Friedman, in Michigan, ruled on Tuesday that Congress lacked authority, under the commerce clause of the US constitution, to adopt the 1996 law and that the power to outlaw FGM lay with individual states. “As despicable as this practice may be, it is essentially a criminal assault,” Friedman wrote, in a ruling late on Tuesday. Congress had “overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM”, as it had no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce, he said.

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