28 Jan 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM and Women's Rights


Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia: real change or cosmetic reforms?
By South China Post, 28 Jan 2020

When Selwa Al-Hazzaa was growing up in Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the early 1960s, girls had just started going to school in her country. Her own mother had been deprived of education because there were no schools for young women when she was a child. But Al-Hazzaa, 58, saw change happen in her lifetime – she went on to become a renowned ophthalmologist, as well as one of the first female members of the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s formal advisory body. Women from her generation, and her 27-year-old daughter, not only went to school – they are now engineers, architects and lawyers. “I am hopeful about the future of women in Saudi Arabia because the change is happening on the ground.”

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Anti-abortion laws: a war against poor women
By Open Democracy, 28 Jan 2020

The political fight against anti-abortion legislation is in fact a class battle, and the reality is that abortion is only illegal for poor women. Women with resources can always interrupt their unwanted pregnancies. Either they know a doctor who performs medical abortions for an exorbitant price, they have the resources to travel to a place where abortion is legal, or they have the means to buy an abortion pill in their own country or elsewhere. Restricting access to safe abortions keeps poor women in poverty, perpetuates the cycle that prevents them from social mobility and allows wealth to remain in the hands of the rich, particularly white men.

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‘She can't say no': the Ugandan men demanding to be breastfed
By The Guardian, 28 Jan 2020

Jane’s husband likes breast milk. “He says he likes the taste of it, and that it helps him in terms of his health. He feels good afterwards,” said the 20-year-old from Uganda, who has a six-month-old baby. Jane said her husband started asking for her milk the night she came home from the hospital after giving birth. “He said it was to help me with the milk flow. I felt it was OK.” Men drinking their partners’ breast milk is not uncommon in some areas of Uganda, and in parts of Tanzania and Kenya. It is now being linked to gender violence and coercive behaviour and there are concerns over the impact on babies’ nutrition. Little was known about the practice until Uganda’s minister of state for health, Sarah Opendi, broke the silence in parliament in 2018 and warned against “a growing culture of men demanding to suckle, which was becoming a problem for some breastfeeding mothers and their babies”.

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FGM: Dublin couple jailed over genital mutilation of daughter
By BBC News, 27 Jan 2020

A married couple have been sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court over the female genital mutilation (FGM) of their then 21-month-old daughter. A 37-year-old man and his 27-year-old wife were jailed for five-and-a-half years and four years and nine months respectively. In November the couple pleaded not guilty to procuring an act of FGM on 16 September 2016, RTÉ reported. Their conviction was the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The couple cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, who is now five. FGM was criminalised in Ireland in 2012 and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. The procedure sees the female genitals deliberately cut, injured or changed when there is no medical reason for this to be done.

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Trump knows all he needs for evangelical votes is to crack down on women’s rights
By The Guardian, 25 Jan 2020

Trump woos evangelicals at anti-abortion rally. Donald Traum gave up some of his precious “executive time” on Friday to speak at the annual March for Life in Washington. His presence there was a big deal: he’s the first sitting president in history to attend the anti-abortion event, which was founded in 1974 in response to Roe v Wade legalizing abortion across America. Ronald Reagan and George W Bush both delivered speeches remotely but didn’t get so far as actually showing up in person. 

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