5 May 2020 – NPWJ News Digest on FGM and Women's Rights


For Arab women and girls, the crisis is just beginning
AlJazeera, 05 May 2020

The current pandemic has had an unprecedented global impact - we are all affected by this collective crisis. And yet, the virus and its aftermath will discriminate more strongly against those who were already marginalised, namely women and girls. In the Arab region, where I now work, women were vulnerable before the crisis. And their crisis is just beginning. 

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Coronavirus disproportionately affects women's health, finances
Deutsche Welle, 03 May 2020

Catriona Graham of the European Women's Lobby says that all of society must critically question sliding back into stereotypical gender roles. Although many may call these "First World problems," Catriona Graham sees the situation as serious. "Gender stereotypes are among the strongest and most rigid causes of sexism and inequality," she says. Particularly in times of crisis, many people find security in going back to stereotyped roles, says Graham, who works for the European Women's Lobby, an organization that advocates women's interests. Among these cliched role stereotypes is the one that women are more responsible for children and the household, and perhaps care for older family members as well. According to UNICEF, women across the world did three times as much unpaid care work as men even before the current crisis. And the UN says this type of work is now growing "exponentially." 

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Sudan bans female genital mutilation, UNICEF vows to help support new law
Un News, 02 May 2020

 UNICEF maintains that it needs to work very hard with communities to help enforce the new law. “The intention is not to criminalize parents”, flagged the UNICEF representative, “we need to exert more effort to raise awareness among the different groups, including midwives, health providers, parents, youth about the amendment and promote acceptance of it”. UNICEF is committed to eliminating all forms of FGM/C and will continue its focus on building a protective environment for children that safeguards them from abuse and exploitation.

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Saudi Women’s rights activist Loujain Al Hathloul must be freed, sister tells The Star
Morning Star, 30 Apr 2020

The family of prominent Saudi Arabian activist Loujain al-Hathloul has urged the world not to forget her and renewed demands for her release from prison. Ms al-Hathloul’s sister Lina told the Star that the women’s rights activist, is losing hope ahead of the second anniversary of her detention, which falls next month. “She’s getting a bit tired, she used to be very hopeful. I mean she was strong and she was the one cheering us [the family] up,” Lina said. “Maybe she puts this in her brain so that she’s not disappointed anymore because of how things are going in her case.” 

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Millions more cases of violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation, unintended pregnancy expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic
UNFPA, 28 Apr 2020

A clear view of the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is only beginning to take shape, but experts estimate the human cost could be extraordinary. The economic and physical disruptions caused by the disease could have vast consequences for the rights and health of women and girls, a new analysis by UNFPA and partners shows. Significant levels of lockdown-related disruption over 6 months could leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence. The pandemic is also expected to cause significant delays in programmes to end female genital mutilation and child marriage, resulting in an estimated 2 million more cases of FGM over the next decade than would otherwise have occurred. These delayed programmes, on top of growing economic hardships globally, could result in an estimated 13 million more child marriages over 10 years. 

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