14 February 2023 – FGM and Women’s Rights

14 Feb, 2023 | Rassegna Stampa

Outspoken Afghan Women’s Rights Campaigner, Who Advocates Dialogue With Taliban, Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

Radio Free Europe, 14 Feb 2023

When the Taliban seized power in August 2021, hundreds of women’s rights activists fled Afghanistan, fearing reprisals from the militant group. But Mahbouba Seraj, one of the most prominent rights campaigners in the country, refused to leave, even though she holds a U.S. passport. Despite intimidation from the Taliban, the 75-year-old has continued to advocate for the rights of women and girls and operate a network of shelters for women fleeing domestic abuse. During the last 16 months, the hard-line Islamist group has imposed severe restrictions on women’s appearances, freedom of movement, and their right to work and receive an education. Seraj has called for engagement with the Taliban’s internationally unrecognized government, a view that has attracted criticism from some Afghans. Seraj’s work and courage were recognized by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), a Norway-based independent research institution, which nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Spain struggles to curb the scourge of femicide

yahoo! news, 14 Feb 2023

Spain has long been seen as a frontrunner in the battle to stamp out gender violence, but in December, 11 women were killed making it the deadliest month since 2008. Another seven died in January. In many cases, the authorities have failed to detect the undercurrent of simmering violence. And women themselves often don’t see the warning signs until it’s too late. December’s bloodshed shook Spain, with Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska calling it a “social tragedy” and “not a private matter as we thought in the past”. Despite efforts by the authorities, who have prioritised the fight against gender-based violence since 2004 when Spain approved its groundbreaking law against it, women take “an average of eight years and eight months” to file a complaint, says state prosecutor Teresa Peramato. And for women in rural areas, the figure is between 12 and 20 years, says this specialist in domestic violence cases. “Very often they are the last ones to realise that they are suffering violence,” says Peramato.

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Analysis: Tunisia’s male-dominated parliament deals blow to women’s gains

Reuters, 14 Feb 2023

When Tunisian lawmakers take up their seats in the newly elected parliament next month, one change will be immediately obvious – there will be far fewer women among their ranks. Tunisia has been seen as a leader on women’s rights in the Arab world, but campaigners say electoral reforms introduced by President Kais Saied ahead of the country’s controversial recent election made it harder for female candidates to run for office. “This is the first time in Tunisian history that women get excluded in this way,” said Sana Ghenima, head of Femmes et Leadership, a nonprofit group that promotes women’s political participation.

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Report calls for bystander intervention laws to address online violence against women in Pacific

The Commonwealth, 13 Feb 2023

A new report by the Commonwealth Secretariat calls on policymakers from Pacific countries to consider adopting laws requiring bystanders to report online violence against women and girls. The report was released at a conference, hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby from 7 to 9 February on building effective anti-cybercrime frameworks in the Pacific region. Drawing on extensive research and expert analysis, the report finds that existing safety laws tend to focus on direct perpetrators and ignore the damaging role played by bystanders. It investigates the role and culpability of bystanders as co-perpetrators who participate in violent acts against women and girls in cyberspace. The report reveals that laws in many Pacific countries do not require witnesses of online abuse to report it to the authorities. The report calls on countries to enact new legislation or amend existing statutes to legally require bystanders to take lawful action to combat such abuse.

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Opinion: Americans must reassert women’s right to legal abortions

The Mercury News, 11 Feb 2023

Since the June Supreme Court decision, women from states banning abortion have been forced to deal with the consequences. They have to travel to distant states, travelling hundreds of miles, risk losing their job and paying hundreds of dollars for the procedure plus their travel and lodging. All this just to have a safe and simple abortion. In some ways the situation is worse than before Roe. Prior to Roe, we did not criminalize the person who drove us to a clinic or a friend who referred us. Our doctors could, in most states feel comfortable giving a woman who has miscarried a simple procedure (a D & C) to protect her health. Today that same doctor may refuse to provide such care for fear of arrest. Thus, as a result there will be women risking their lives, attempting methods at home, much as they did decades ago. Now our rights have been denied. We cannot stand for this. We must reassert our rights by enacting a national law that protects us.

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Iran’s Raisi takes aim at ‘enemies’ on revolution anniversary

Aljazeera, 11 Feb 2023

Nationwide anti-government protests focusing on the country’s mandatory hijab covering for women ignited after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the country’s morality police on September 16. The demonstrations have since transformed into the greatest challenge to the Islamic republic since the 2009 Green Movement over disputed elections. Reemphasising Iranian authorities’ claims that the West and its allies have been behind the country’s unrest, Raisi said the country’s enemies failed to stop its progress, so they turned to the “project of chaos” that he said they have also tried to implement in neighbouring Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. “Those who have been deceived by the enemy now know that the enemy’s issue is neither woman nor life or freedom or human rights, but it wants to take away the independence and the tranquil life of the Iranian nation,” Raisi said in reference to the “woman, life, freedom” slogan that has defined the protests. Responding to Western criticism that the Islamic republic violates human rights and women’s rights, the president said the Iranian establishment is in a better position to criticise the behaviour of the West.

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Is Modi govt in denial about female genital mutilation in India?

Sabrang India, 11 Feb 2023

Among several concerns about India’s human rights performance raised at the United Nations’ 41st Universal Periodic Review, a noteworthy one was the issue of female genital mutilation or FGM, with Costa Rica recommending India develop a national plan to tackle the issue. Interestingly, India itself made similar recommendations on FGM during the UPR to Guinea and Mali. However, when it came to the practice about which Bohra feminists have been vocal back home., the Narendra Modi government has so far failed to even acknowledge that FGM exists. Little or no global attention is on Asian countries like India. The practice in these countries continues to be invisible, except for the anecdotal data from survivor stories and the small, yet important, research studies conducted mostly by survivors and activists. Even at the UPR pre-sessions where we met several member countries for support, most expressed surprise when we spoke to them about FGM in India.

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