Archive for the ‘Violence Against Women’ Category
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, women’s human rights defender of Ciudad Juarez, was murdered while peacefully demanding the compliance of the sentence against the assassin of her daughter, Rubi Marisol Frayre Escobedo.
AWID joins hundreds of women’s organizations in denouncing the killing of women human rights defender Marisela Escobedo Ortiz and demanding justice and accountability from the Mexican Government for this act of violence, as well as uncountable others passed unnoticed und unpunished in the face of law.
“On 16 December 2010, a group of men arrived at the main square in the Chihuahua city, and approached Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who was holding a peaceful demonstration for 8 days to demand that the authorities take action to detain her daughter Rubi’s assassin. She ran seeking refuge in the Government Palace; at its doors, one of the men shot her in the head, killing her.
The cause of this murder is the culture of discrimination and violence against women that the Mexican State has maintained in Ciudad Juarez and in Chihuahua over the past two decades. In the past 27 months, Marisela’s main activity was to demand justice for her daughter’s murder, denouncing the authorities as accomplices and negligent of femicide, and demanding that the justice system effectively guarantee women’s right to a life free of violence.
On 28 August 2008, faced with her daughter Rubi’s murder, Marisela began the process to denounce the murder and to demand that the authorities act in accordance with the law, as there were clear suspicions about the identity of the assassin.
Rubi Marisol, 19 years of age, was killed in Ciudad Juarez by her partner, Sergio Rafael Barraza, with whom she had a daughter. Barraza Bocanegra was abussive from the beginning of the relationship, increasing the violence until he killed her, burned her body and threw her in a clandestine trash dump and pig cemetery. He then fled to the state of Zacatecas, trusting that after some time his crime would remain unpunished, as are hundreds of other murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. His crime was not investigated, he was later absolved in the courts, and finally, since he had fled, was found guilty in appeals.
Given the grave irregularities and omissions on the part of the authorities involved in the ministerial investigations, Marisela had the tenacity to look for proof about the events, always within the limits of the law. Sergio Rafael Barraza, personally and in her presence, identified the exact place where he had dumped his victim, confessed to his crime, and asked for forgiveness in a hearing during the oral trial that took place. However, on 29 April 2010, the judges Catalina Ochoa Contreras, Netzahualcoyotl Zuñiga Vazquez and Rafael Baudib Jurado decided to acquit him.
The event shocked Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua. The victims’ families and the local organizations, alongside national and international spaces and organizations, have acted since 1993 to document femicide, denouncing the negligence and complicity of the authorities, constantly presenting proposals and actions for the State institutions to act in accordance with their obligations with the citizens. Just a few months earlier, there was an important accomplishment towards this aim. In December 2009, the Inter-American Human Rights Court condemned Mexico for the disappearances, sexual violence, and murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. The Mexican State had argued in the Inter-American trial that the new justice system in Chihuahua did not repeat the impunity of prior decades. The assassination of Rubi and the impunity despite the weight of the evidence, demonstrates that the situation in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua was worse than in any previous year.
During 2010, every 24 hours a woman has been killed in the state of Chihuahua for reasons primarily to do with the fact that she is a woman. An unprecedented fact is that the vast majority of the cases are in total impunity.
The Inter-American Court also recognized that there is systematic harassment and aggression against families and defenders who demand justice for these cases, and it condemned Mexico for not guaranteeing their protection, allowing crimes to go unpunished and not compensating for damages.
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz always sought justice in a peaceful manner. She used her own resources, economic and human, to conduct the work that the authorities did not do. She conducted all of the investigations to learn the truth and to find her daughter’s murderer. She walked from Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua to demand that the state Governor, at that time Jose Reyes Baeza, order the necessary actions to detain the assassin. After Sergio Rafael Barraza was acquitted, she initiated the appeal and managed to get the assassin condemned. However, since he was not held in custody, he fled again and began to threaten Marisela. In July of this year, she moved to the Alameda Central in Mexico City to demand that President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa, seek out and arrest the murderer. In September she went to the National Feminist Gathering held in Zacatecas to call on the authorities to search for Barraza, because there were indications that he was in that state. In November of this year, she testified before the International Mission for Women’s Access to Justice.
She always affirmed that as long as Rubi’s assassin, and all assassins of women, remain free, they would continue to commit these crimes. Her consciousness of the need to take measures to ensure that these acts would not repeat themselves led to the creation of an Investigation Commission for Rubi’s case in the state of Chihuahua, with the goal of identifying the errors committed in the process and take action within the justice system to ensure that this impunity not be repeated. However, all of this was paralyzed during the change in state and municipal governments. On 16 December, Marisela was protesting because the new governor, Cesar Duare Jaquez, had not taken any action regarding her daughter – and other women who were disappeared and murdered – but he had mobilized the entire justice apparatus in support of the families of high-level State officials.
The organizations signing this statement will give continuity to Marisela’s voice and demands:
- * In her memory, we say no more simulation by the authorities.
* We demand an end to femicide and impunity.
* We demand compliance with all provisions of the “Campo Algodonero” Judgment, in which the Inter-American Court specifies actions to prevent, investigate and punish appropriately the disappearances, sexual violence and killings against women, and to investigate and punish those who harass and attack the families and organizations who seek justice for those acts.
* Following the Inter-American Court, we demand guarantees for the integrity and security of all the families of victims of disappearances, sexual violence and killings of women, meaning, of femicide. This involves providing comprehensive care, researching the facts and proper compensation for damages, in an urgent manner for the Frayre Escobar family.
* Given the very serious increase in violence against women human rights defenders, we hold the Mexican government responsible for any act against them, because so far the State has not investigated or taken action to ensure their basic life and integrity. This includes the police forces of the three spheres of government – federal, state and municipal – that have occupied Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua since 2008, without this resulting in improved safety for women.
* We denounce that the current debate to approve the Chihuahua state budget resources has not incorporated resources to implement the state law for the right of women to a life free of violence, or to comply with the Campo Algodonero Judgment.
Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was a human rights defender who, after her daughter’s murder, mobilized people and organizations, institutions and powers to put a stop to femicide, always by strengthening the institutions of justice, citizen action, and democracy. Her assassination reveals the criminal lack of protection that the Mexican State maintains against defenders and its lack of effective will to guarantee women a life free of violence.
Sudanese police arrested dozens of women protesting last month against laws they say humiliate women after a video of a woman being flogged in public appeared on the Internet.
Floggings carried out under Islamic are almost a daily punishment in Sudan for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery.
But vague laws on women’s dress and behaviour are implemented inconsistently. One case sparked international furore when Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese U.N. official, invited journalists to her public flogging for wearing trousers.
The video, which was removed by YouTube, showed a crying Sudanese woman being lashed by two policemen in front of onlookers in a public place. She was made to kneel and the police laughed during the punishment.
“Humiliating your women is humiliating all your people,” the women shouted as they were being arrested on Tuesday.
Around 50 women sat down outside the justice ministry holding banners and surrounded by riot police telling them to move.
Three plain-clothed security men threw the BBC correspondent to the ground, confiscating his equipment.
All the women were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Their lawyers were prevented from entering, but senior opposition politicians were allowed to go inside.
The women said they had tried to get permission for the protest but had been refused. The police declined to comment.
“The authorities here take the law into their own hands. No one knows what happens inside these police stations,” said one of their lawyers, Mona el-Tijani. “This video was just one example of what happens all the time.”
Sudan’s justice ministry said it would investigate whether the punishment was administered properly.
It was not clear what offence the woman being lashed had committed. Officials from the ruling National Congress Party offered conflicting explanations in the local press.
Women in south Sudan have been targeted in a string of abusive attacks by police cracking down on Western clothes. Many of the attacks over the Christmas period were by newly graduated members of southern Sudan’s police force.
Thousands of new cadets have finished police training courses backed by the United Nations, coinciding with the first reports of abuse in the southern capital, Juba, often directed at women wearing shorts and miniskirts.
The north eastern African country held a referendum on January 9 over whether its mostly Christian south should become independent from the Muslim north which is ruled by the strict Islamic sharia law.
But foreign women have also been targeted by police. On Wednesday, an non-uniformed man ordered a German woman to go home because she was wearing a dress that he decided was too revealing. He said: “If I see you like that pass here again, I will take you,” she told the International Herald Tribune newspaper.
Over the Christmas weekend, Joseph Lubega and his wife were out shopping when a uniformed police officer slapped his wife across the face, he said. The officer slapped her again. Then a third time.
“The reason, he said, was the blouse,” said Mr Lubega, a motorcycle driver from Uganda working in the southern Sudanese capital. “It had an open back.”
Talking about the attacks, Information Minister Benjamin Marial said: “In southern Sudan, you can dress in anything, everyone is free.” He said that the attacks were unjustified and that the officers involved have been set right. “This is not the policy of the government of southern Sudan, and we have taken the preliminary measures,” he said. “Sometimes police get out of control. These were individuals.”
A southern Sudanese army officer said that the police had been told to ‘counsel’ women on their dress, and that the officers had “mistaken the advice they were given.”
“Police have arrested women and girls for their dress on many occasions,” said Human Rights Watch researcher, Jehanne Henry. She added that in the past, police commissioners had authorized arrests of people with “bad behaviour,” which also included men wearing low-slung jeans and dreadlocks. “Police have a lot of work to do to educate and train officers in the applicable laws,” Ms Henry said.
January’s referendum was the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of fighting between north and south over religion, way of life and oil that killed two million people.
Research into ‘honour-based’ violence (HBV) and killings in Iraqi Kurdistan and the UK by Professor Aisha Gill (Roehampton University) with colleagues from Bristol University has earned plaudits from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UN.
Criminologist Dr Aisha Gill has called for an urgent consolidation of the legal provisions for robust legal, policing and prosecution procedures in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The new research by researchers at University of Bristol and Roehampton University, has found a need for dedicated service and policy development to demonstrate that the issue is taken seriously and that ‘honour’ based violence (HBV) and killings are no longer acceptable in the way that they may have been in the past.
Researchers from the Centre for Research on Gender and Violence, University of Bristol and Roehampton University are calling on the Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq and the Coalition Government in the UK urgently to address violence against women in the name of ‘honour’ in response to a growing concern about alarming levels of violence against women and girls in Kurdish communities.
Dr Gill, Project Manager for the UK section of the research, said: “States across the world have duties under international law to respect, protect and support women’s rights, including taking steps to tackle violence against women.
“Although abuses that occur in the private sphere, such as so-called ‘honour’ killings, are crimes under the domestic laws of most countries, many states around the world continue to fail to demonstrate due diligence in this regard. Even now in the 21st Century, they still fail to prevent or investigate all such crimes, and fail to hold perpetrators to account.
“Thus, although legislation exists to protect women in theory, social tolerance of violence, cultural norms and a lack of political will often combine to nullify the law in practice. Further, cultural practices that have the effect of rendering women “invisible” create the conditions in which they suffer “invisible violence”, and may allow violators to act with impunity.”
Research from women’s organisations working closely with victims and survivors of HBV in Northern Iraq and in the Kurdish Diaspora, highlights the need for ongoing training and support, improved prosecution of individual perpetrators and support projects for victims, together with comprehensive awareness-raising and public education in culturally sensitive ways.
Dr Aisha Gill said: “Our findings call for improved international response. Globally, all states must ensure that victims who have encountered this form of gendered violence and those who have been threatened with or experienced HBV, receive immediate, confidential and comprehensive assistance, including access to legal help, and psychological and social support.”
Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt joined Dr Gill in Iraq to discuss her research and said he was pleased to add his support to this comprehensive study on the honour-based violence (HBV) and honour-based killings in Iraqi-Kurdistan and in the Kurdish Diaspora in the UK.
“Honour crimes have no place in a modern society and I have been heartened by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts to crack down on them. No matter how unacceptable, traditions will always be difficult to change. Dealing with these crimes requires courage and determination and I welcome the KRG’s leadership and commitment to bring an end to impunity in this area. I am proud that, through Roehampton and Bristol Universities, the UK is supporting such crucial work,” he said.
“This report marks an important step. The recommendations offer a roadmap to combating honour-based violence in Iraqi Kurdistan. The UK will continue to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government in realising this goal.”
Details of the project in both English and Kurdish are available from Dr Aisha Gill.
Earlier this year Millicent Gaika, a 30-year-old South African woman, was tied up, beaten, strangled, tortured and raped for five hours by a man as he screamed that he would “cure” Millicent of her lesbianism.
Ndumie Funda, a local community activist whose lesbian partner was murdered in the course of a similar “corrective rape,” reached out to Millicent through a small local charity she set up to rescue and support survivors of “corrective rape.” But last month they both had to go into hiding after the South African government released the perpetrator they had helped to jail on 60 rand (less than $10) bail.
Ndumie, Millicent and others decided to fight back against the rapists and the lack of accountability for their crimes. From a Cape Town safehouse for survivors of ‘corrective rape,’ the women created a petition on Change.org targeting South African Justice Minister Jeffrey Radebe.
Please, they wrote, declare ‘corrective rape’ a hate crime, which would both empower and require South African police to take a harder line on the vicious crime.
More than 500 “corrective rapes” are reported in South Africa each year, and more than 30 South African lesbians have been murdered because of their sexuality over the past decade. Worse, for every 100 men charged with rape in South Africa, 96 of them walk free.
We can help here. Last year, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority went on record refusing to formally declare ‘corrective rape’ a hate crime, saying “It is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project.”
But with enough international pressure on the South African government, such heinous crimes might finally be taken seriously.
More than 2,000 Change.org members have added their name to the petition created by Ndumie and Millicent.
Thank you for taking action,
The Change.org Team
P.S. Every time a new person signs the petition, the Justice Minister’s office automatically gets an email. So once you join, will you forward this to friends and family, and post on Facebook, so that they hear a global outcry?
“Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.” — Mahmoud Fathalla, Former President of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 1997
Researchers at the World Health Organization have recently documented a substantial 48% decrease in the numbers of unsafe abortion deaths. In 2008, 47,000 women a year lost their lives from complications of unsafe abortion, compared to 70,000 in 2003. But the bad news is that unsafe abortions have not decreased and are still the predominant way that women end pregnancies in developing countries. Abortions appear to a bit less unsafe because more women are turning to safer medical abortion pills to induce their own abortion.
Unsafe abortion deaths are a direct consequence of antiquated and cruel laws against abortion. About 21.6 million unsafe abortions occurred worldwide in 2008, almost all in developing countries where abortion is illegal. (This compares to 19.7 million in 2003, with the rise due to the increasing number of women of childbearing age in the world.) Among women who survive unsafe abortion, an estimated 8.5 million suffer complications, with 1 in 4 needing medical attention.
In contrast, death from unsafe abortion has been virtually eliminated in western industrialized countries that have legalized abortion, and the complication rate is extremely low. When abortion is legalized in a country, there is typically a dramatic decline in maternal deaths and complications due to abortion. This pattern has been repeated numerous times since the 1950’s when abortion was first legalized in former Eastern Bloc countries.
Legal abortion saves women’s lives and improves their health because without it, women risk their safety by resorting to unsafe illegal abortion. The right to abortion also advances women’s equality, liberty, and other human rights, freeing women to pursue an education and career and to participate fully in public life. Access to abortion allows women to better plan and provide for their families, which benefits the entire community and society. Unplanned births of unwanted children can be very crippling to women and families, leading to higher rates of poverty and dysfunction, including child abuse. These factors make the provision of safe and legal abortion a vital public health interest that negates any justification for criminalizing the procedure.
Yet here we are, one decade into the 21st century, and almost every developing country in the world continues to enforce a near-total criminal ban on abortion. Abortion is illegal primarily in Africa, Latin America, and some parts of Asia, as well as a tiny handful of developed countries like Poland and Ireland. However, all countries with more liberal abortion laws still retain abortion as a criminal offence with exceptions, or have enacted further legal restrictions that make it difficult to access.
If the intent behind banning abortions is to stop or reduce them, it’s been a total failure. In 2007, the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute found that overall abortion rates around the world are similar, regardless of whether or not abortion is illegal in a country. This is because countries with strict anti-abortion laws have well-developed black markets for abortion. The global average abortion rate for women of childbearing age (15-44) was 29 per 1,000 women in 2003, with the highest number of abortions occurring in countries where it’s highly restricted and in countries with poor access to contraception. Eastern Africa’s rate was 39 per 1,000 women, while South America’s rate was 33.
In countries with fewer restrictions where legal abortion is widely available, the rates are generally much lower, plus we see a decline in abortion rates as contraception use rises. Canada is the only democratic nation in the world with no abortion law or restrictions, but it has a low abortion rate of 14.1 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That compares favourably to western Europe’s rate of 12, the lowest abortion rate in the world and the region with the most liberal abortion laws. In contrast, the American rate is 19.4 (for 2005) and U.S. women must navigate through a thicket of abortion restrictions. There isn’t a shred of evidence that such restrictions are effective or helpful for women or society; instead, they create arbitrary obstacles and delays for women seeking abortion care.
Who should we blame for this global travesty of injustice and for the continuing suffering and deaths of women? The obvious culprits, of course, are the Vatican, conservative countries, various Catholic and fundamentalist religious organizations, and right-wing politicians. But perhaps a better question is: Why does the world allow these entities to inflict such a terrible toll on women’s lives and health, year after year? The most obvious culprit in this case would appear to be sexism and patriarchy, which are very much alive and well in our modern age, and still socially acceptable compared to racism. Traditional views on women’s motherhood role are the main reason that women’s rights and equality still lag far behind the rights of minorities and other vulnerable groups. Much of the world still clings to the deeply-held assumption that women’s dignity and humanity is tied to being a mother, even though this subordinates women to a biological function. Moreover, our male-dominated patriarchal societies still try to guarantee paternity by controlling women’s sexual and reproductive behaviour at the expense of their freedom and human rights.
The United Nations’ position on abortion reflects the world’s hostile attitude towards safe abortion as an essential part of women’s reproductive rights and the cornerstone of women’s health and survival. Although the UN’s purpose is in part to promote and encourage “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion,” the UN has essentially abandoned women who need abortions by caving to pressure from right-wing forces.
Ama Hemmah was allegedly tortured into confessing she was a witch, doused in kerosene and set alight. She suffered horrific burns and died the following day.
Belief in witchcraft is relatively common in Ghana but there was widespread revulsion at the killing.
Hemmah, from Tema, was allegedly attacked by a group of five people, one of whom is an evangelical pastor, Ghana’s Daily Graphic reported.
Three women and two men have been arrested. They are Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, photographer Samuel Ghunney, 50, Emelia Opoku, 37, Mary Sagoe, 52, and pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55.
The suspects say the death was an accident and deny committing any crime. They claim they were trying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman by rubbing anointing oil on her but it accidentally caught fire.
Newspaper pictures showing the woman’s injuries have caused anger in Ghana. The incident has been condemned by human rights and women’s activists.
Comfort Akosua Edu, of the country’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, said: “The commission finds the action of the perpetrators of this atrocious crime as very barbaric and one that greatly dims the nation’s human rights record. That they came and met her in their room does not in any way warrant branding her as a notorious witch who deserved to be subjected to such an ordeal.”
She added: “It is very disheartening that some men of God, whose responsibility it is to help save lives, could orchestrate the killing of innocent souls, all in the name of God.”
Part of a longer article at
See also: Who killed Amma Hemmah?
The Montréal Massacre of December 6, 1989, in which 14 women students at the École Polytechnique were systematically killed and 13 other students wounded by a lone gunman, is indelibly imprinted on the minds of Quebeckers and others who struggled to comprehend the worst single-day massacre in Canadian history.
Since the beginning of Québec’s “Quiet Revolution” in the 1960s, women had been making increasing strides in non-traditional occupations and educational programs. In the 1970s and 1980s, growing numbers flocked to the École Polytechnique, the School of Engineering at the University of Montréal. While most men in Québec and elsewhere accepted and even welcomed these transformations, a minority felt themselves disadvantaged by attempts to encourage women’s new roles and opportunities.
One of these was Marc Lépine, a 25-year-old Quebecker and child-abuse survivor who, as an adult, was described by acquaintances as a moody loner. Lépine had sought to join the Canadian Armed Forces, but was rejected. He had also studied for admission to the École Polytechnique, but was not accepted — a decision he apparently blamed on “affirmative action” policies promoted by feminists and their sympathizers. In the suicide note he would leave on his body, Lépine provided some insights into the virulent mindset that fuelled his rage against women and feminists:
Please note that if I am committing suicide today … it is not for economic reasons … but for political reasons. For I have decided to send Ad Patres [Latin: "to the fathers"] the feminists who have ruined my life. … The feminists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being women … while trying to grab those of men. … They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can.
Attached to the letter was a list of 19 prominent Québec women in non-traditional occupations, including the province’s first woman firefighter and police captain. Beneath the list Lépine wrote: “[These women] nearly died today. The lack of time (because I started too late) has allowed these radical feminists to survive.” It was, instead, dozens of ordinary women at the École Polytechnique who would bear the brunt of his fury.
The act of gendercide
On the evening of December 6, 1989, shortly after 5 o’clock on the penultimate day of classes before the Christmas holidays, Lépine carried a concealed Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle into the École Polytechnique. His first female victim, Maryse Laganiere, was killed in a corridor. He then proceeded to Room 303, a classroom which held 10 women students and 48 men, along with a male professor. Firing two shots into the ceiling and shouting, “I want the women. I hate feminists!,” Lépine enacted a gendercidal ritual that will be familiar to readers of other case-studies on this site (Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia) — only this time, the victims were female. Separating the men from the women, he expelled the men at gunpoint, lined up the remaining women students against the wall, and began to fire. Six women died; the others were injured, but survived.
“Then, Lépine went down to the first floor,” wrote Maclean’s (December 18, 1989). “Firing at diving, ducking students as he went, he entered the cafeteria, where he killed [Anne-Marie] Edward and two of her classmates. Still on the hunt, Lépine climbed back up to the third floor, where he strode into Room 311. Students, unaware of the unfolding tragedy, were delivering end-of-semester oral presentations. ‘At first, nobody did anything,’ recalled Eric Forget, 21. Then, the gunman opened fire, sending two professors and 26 students scrambling for cover beneath their desks. ‘We were trapped like rats,’ said Forget. ‘He was shooting all over the place.’ Other witnesses said that Lépine leaped onto several desks and shot at women cowering beneath them. Four more women were killed. Then, roughly 20 minutes after embarking on his rampage, Lépine took his own life.” By the time he blew off the back of his own head, fourteen women lay dead, and thirteen other students were injured (nine women, four men).
The murdered women were:
* Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21;
* Hélène Colgan, 23;
* Nathalie Croteau, 23;
* Barbara Daigneault, 22;
* Anne-Marie Edward, 21;
* Maud Haviernick, 29;
* Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31;
* Maryse Leclair, 23;
* Annie St.-Arneault, 23;
* Michèle Richard, 21;
* Maryse Laganière, 25;
* Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;
* Sonia Pelletier, 28; and
* Annie Turcotte, aged 21.
The aftermath — A shared responsibility?
In the wake of the horrific murders, Quebeckers and Canadians — along with many others around the world — rallied to commemorate the victims and denounce the anti-feminist wrath of their attacker. Many called Lépine a “madman,” but others rejected the term as downplaying the calculating nature of his hatred towards women and feminists. Indeed, Lépine himself had rejected it in his suicide note: “Even though the Mad Killer epithet will be attributed to me by the media, I consider myself a rational and erudite person that only the arrival of the Grim Reaper has forced to undertake extreme acts.” Declared Judy Rebick, who was spurred by the massacre to run for the leadership of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women: “If he’d killed 14 Jews, he’d have been seen as disturbed, but also anti-Semitic.”
Municipal and provincial authorities declared three days of mourning; the flag at the Canadian parliament flew at half-mast. Candlelight vigils were held across Canada, and on the Sunday following the massacre, tens of thousands of Québec residents and visitors queued in sub-zero temperatures outside the University of Montréal chapel to view the closed caskets of the murdered young women. One of them was Gendercide Watch executive director Adam Jones, who recalls: “I have never seen such a collective outpouring of grief. The murders united many Quebeckers across generational, ethnic, and gender lines; all turned out to pay their respects. Personally, it was a transforming experience. I had never seriously examined the gendering of violence in our society, and around the world, before those 14 women died.”
Since 1989, December 6 has been officially designated a national day of commemoration. Over the years, debate has raged (renewed for the tenth anniversary commemorations in 1999) as to whether the slaughter was an isolated act, or a symbol of male violence against women. It was certainly, as noted, an act of mass murder unprecedented in Canadian history. And the ritual, gendercidal separation of women from men — as also noted — usually leaves men dead and women still alive. Nonetheless, Lépine’s rampage had strong echoes in the numerous acts of domestic murder and abuse committed by men fearful that “their” women will assert greater independence and move beyond traditional female roles. (Lépine’s suicide also typified the pathological self-hatred and self-destructiveness which regularly features in such acts, and which makes it difficult to speak of a simple exercise of “patriarchal power.”)
Some carried the argument of generalized male responsibility further still. “Men kill women and children as a proprietary, vengeful and terrorist act,” wrote Montréal Men Against Sexism. “They do so with the support of a sexist society and judicial system. As pro-feminist men, we try to reveal and to end this continuing massacre, which will go on as along as we do not end sexism and sexist violence, along with all of men’s alibis for them.”
Thinking along similar lines, Toronto city councillor Jack Layton co-founded the White Ribbon Movement in 1991 to remember the victims of the massacre and protest against violence against women. “Until Montréal, most of the discussion was introspective,” Layton recalled in 1999. “Then the massacre happened, and it got us off our butts. My head exploded that year. ‘What must it be like for women?’ I thought. It was time to speak out and own up to this behaviour.” “Eight years later,” writes Hurst, “the cause has spread to a dozen countries around the world. Its comprehensive curriculum on gender violence — taught at public, junior high and senior high school levels — is used in 100 schools across Canada, 1,000 in the U.S.” The movement has also attracted criticism from those who believe it makes unwarranted generalizations about the attitudes and behaviour of men (see Jones, “Why I Won’t Wear A White Ribbon”).
In November 1996, the Canadian Women’s Internet Association founded the “Candlelight Vigil Across the Internet”, with the stated aim of “rais[ing] awareness of violence against women across Canada and throughout cyberspace.” Now in its third year, the response has “far surpassed expectations,” according to organizers.
The Montréal Massacre was also a key moment in the struggle for gun control in Canada. In the wake of the massacre — “it came right out of it,” she said — Wendy Cukier founded the Coalition for Gun Control. The Coalition “would go on to play a major part in lobbying Ottawa for laws, in 1991 and in 1998, that would ban all semi-automatic, military assault weapons and short-barrelled handguns, and require the registration of all firearms, starting in 2003, and strict screening for all owners.” Ontario and a number of other provinces mounted Supreme Court challenges to the legislation, but in December 1999 Cukier stated she was “confident the court will come through.” (See Lynda Hurst, “10 Years Later, How a Massacre Changed Us All,” Toronto Star, November 27, 1999.)
Lastly, if Lépine had sought to terrorize Canadian women into staying put in their traditional roles, his rampage may have had the opposite effect. Between 1989 and 1999, the proportion of women enrolled in Canadian engineering faculties rose from 13 to 19 percent. And in absolute numbers, it more than doubled, to nearly 9,000.
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Bullied by partners, relatives and other male contacts, some of the women succumb to the sexual advances of men, even when they knew they would be compromising their health, according to Ikhwezi Lokusa Wellness Centre’s programme director, Kazeka Somhlahlo.
She said some women were abused under the banner of cultural and traditional practices, being forced to have unprotected sex, sometimes in situations when they knew that multiple partners were involved. “That is where we come in with our psycho-social community responsibility programme,” she said.
Somhlahlo said her organisation provided care, support and treatment to close to 1900 patients in the province, some from as far as Aliwal North and Transkei.
The centre has full-time doctors, nurses, a pharmacy and other staff in East London, and also provides community outreach, social support and patient empowerment programmes to communities.
Established in 2002, Ikhwezi Lokusa caters for patients on anti- retrovirals (ARVs), and also works towards keeping those who have not started taking them healthy enough not to need them. “Because HIV, Aids and gender go together our role is not limited to the physical, but the social aspects of our patients as well.”
She said their role as facilitators in the well-being of people living with HIV and Aids became more pronounced during the ongoing international rally of 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children .
The campaign, recognised worldwide and commemorated between November 25 and December 10, is aimed at generating increased awareness about violence against women and children.
It also highlights the ways in which such violence manifests itself within the society, and the negative impact it has on vulnerable groups. “Women are reminded that they were ‘bought’ when the man paid lobola to their families, and they are left with no option but to give in to his demands against their better judgment,” said Somhlahlo.
She said some were raped, sometimes by people they knew.
“Then you have those in difficult housing situations, where too many people, both female and male, live together in a small shack.”
Describing such situations as “explosive”, she said indiscriminate sexual acts took place, and in some cases women are forced to provide sexual favours in order to have a place to live.
Chinese marriage law experts have called for legislation on domestic violence.
“National legislation to combat domestic violence is badly in need, because existing articles of law do not provide a sufficient legal basis for timely and effective judicial intervention,” Li Mingshun, deputy head of the marriage and family board of the China Law Society, said at a conference in Beijing marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The conference was jointly hosted by the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) and the United Nations in China.
“We have been receiving more and more complaints about domestic violence in recent years, despite 27 provincial-level governments having made considerable effort to enact local regulations against this problem,” said Meng Xiaosi, vice-president of the ACWF.
The ACWF has annually received 40,000 to 50,000 complaints about domestic violence since 2004.
According to research by the China Law Society, 85.4 percent of these cases involve husbands acting violently toward their wives.
These women suffer physical, psychological and sexual abuse an average of 7.4 times a year, according to data from women’s organization in Henan, Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hubei, Liaoning and Hebei.
The reasons for the abuse range from infertility, giving birth to a daughter and husbands engaging in excessive drinking.
“The main difficulty in suing a family member for abuse is producing the evidence,” said Jiang Yue, a professor of marriage and family law at Xiamen University.
To obtain a divorce for domestic violence in China, civil law requires a wife to be able to prove in court that her husband beat her, though any injuries that she may have sustained have usually healed by the time the hearing is held, Jiang pointed out.
“In some cases, a victim submits a certificate from a hospital confirming her injuries, but the husband is still able to argue that his wife was injured in another way,” she said.
Current laws and regulation are also unhelpful to women who do not want to divorce their husbands, said Xia Zhengfang, a judge who presides at the No 1 civil law court of the Jiangsu Provincial Higher People’s Court.
“For most women who suffer domestic violence, divorce is not their first choice, since they may lose financial resources or be forced to leave their children if the marriage breaks up,” Xia said. “So it is crucial to be able to restrain violence.”
However, the Regulations on Administrative Penalties for Public Security do not specify domestic violence, so the police are unable to act proactively to prevent abuse.
“As the law currently stands, national regulations on constraining domestic violence are contained in eight areas of the Marriage Law, the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on the Protection of Women and Children,” Li Mingshun said. “But only two of them are of practical help to victims.”
Thirteen law experts in China, including Li, drafted a proposal in June on the prevention and punishment of domestic violence, which covers areas like compelling an aggressor to submit to re-education at a public security facility for 30 to 90 days.
Graph of statistics
Women fleeing domestic violence will be able to use shelters in the GTA without worry of being targeted by immigration officers, a Toronto activist group says.
The Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre, a branch of the Canada Border Services Agency, will issue a directive barring officers from entering or waiting outside facilities serving women surviving violence, says Fariah Chowdhury, a spokeswoman for NoOneIsIllegal.
Chowdhury said rape crisis centres, women’s shelters or any community organization helping survivors of violence will now be off limits.
“For us, this is one small step in part of a broader campaign to make the city safe for women and for people with precarious status,” said Chowdhury. “It’s a long overdue victory because immigration officers should never have been arresting, deporting or detaining women who are so vulnerable in the first place.”
Chowdhury added that the directive will be released Thursday, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
It comes after two years of grassroots campaigning from a coalition of more than 120 organizations demanding shelters be considered a “safe space.”
Feminists and activists were concerned earlier this year when enforcement officers entered the Beatrice House shelter in Toronto looking for a woman from Ghana, identified only as Jane.
Jane, who said she grew up in a “voodoo” home and was sexually abused before arriving in Canada, missed the arrest because she and her 3-year-old daughter had just moved to another shelter.
“We have received numerous reports of immigration officials going into women’s shelters in the middle of the night and taking women and children out,” said Chowdhury.
“More and more people became afraid to access the services.”
While the directive is a “step in the right direction,” much more work must be done for undocumented people who aren’t able to go to university, access welfare or subsidized housing, said Chowdhury.
“These are essential support services that are really required for people’s survival.”
She added that talks about whether the directive will be applied on a national level will take place in coming weeks.
A nationwide campaign against domestic violence dubbed “1 in 3” was launched Thursday by the Maldivian Network on Violence Against Women, a loose coalition of NGOs and individuals who came together to advocate for pioneering legislation on domestic violence (DV) currently before parliament.
The campaign title reflects the findings of a milestone 2007 study on Women’s Health and Life Experiences, which found that 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 experience either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, including childhood sexual abuse.
While a draft for domestic violence legislation had existed for several years, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP’s) women’s wing announced the development of a bill to be submitted to parliament earlier this year.
The announcement was welcomed by President Mohamed Nasheed, who argued that a bipartisan effort to pass the legislation was more likely to succeed.
The DV bill, supported and facilitated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), aims to “make DV illegal, to prevent DV from occurring in our society, to provide justice to survivors of domestic violence and abuse as well as to ensure state responsibility in providing services to address DV-related crimes in society,” reads a press statement by the NGO Network.
The network was formed in October when a group of 30 advocates came together in Bandos to plan support for the bill.
On November 22, the bill was accepted by MPs and sent to committee for further review.
In her keynote speech at the campaign launch, former DRP MP Aneesa Ahmed surveyed the history of government efforts against domestic violence.
As recently as the turn of the century, said Aneesa, domestic violence was a taboo subject in Maldivian society.
“It was not spoken about,” she said. “[People] didn’t want to speak about it. Perhaps because of the immensity of the problem, nobody wanted to talk about it; or because nobody wanted to believe how much it had spread in our society.”
She added that the hesitancy to openly acknowledge the problem was probably borne “out of fear.”
The former Women’s Minister revealed that a pilot survey planned by an NGO with support from the government was scuttled when it encountered resistance from societal attitudes, which held that the government should not “enter into family matters.”
“So we couldn’t carry out that survey,” she said. “The NGO I mentioned was very disappointed and we were very disappointed, but we did not give up.”
While the former government then attempted to foster public dialogue through workshops aimed at different groups of society, Aneesa said that she was “very encouraged” to see a campaign launched by a network of NGOs with high youth participation.
A video testimonial of a DV victim was also presented at the function, featuring a harrowing story of a woman who came to Male’ seeking a divorce but was refused by the judge who counseled reconciliation with her abusive spouse.
“I thought how am I going to make peace?” she asked. “I am finding it hard to endure. They didn’t consider in the least the abuse I was getting.”
The testimonial ended with a plea to MPs “to save women from abusive husbands.”
Aneesa said that while the passage of the DV bill, with recommendations from the NGO network, would be “a beginning” to tackling gender based violence, she cautioned that the campaign “will not be easy” as the small size of close-knit communities “could be an impediment.”
However, she urged the NGO network and its affiliated advocates not to become discouraged and to continue their efforts.
Aneesa is a founding member of the ‘Hope for Women’ NGO which aims to “eradicate sexual violence against women and girls.”
President Nasheed meanwhile dedicated his weekly radio address yesterday to the subject of domestic violence, noting that “some women don’t even speak about it with their closest friends and family members” and consequently do not report abuse to the authorities.
Men taking advantage of physical superiority to abuse or subjugate women “amounts to the rule of the jungle,” he said.
As women make up half the country’s population, said Nasheed, greater participation of women in the workforce and in national affairs was crucial to ensure economic development and progress.
He added that sexual harassment in the workplace, “even subtle forms of harassment that we may otherwise think are trivial, should be deplored,” adding that “such things should never happen in the workplace.”
President Nasheed expressed gratitude for members of the DRP involved in the drafting of the legislation and pledged the government’s full support for the bill.
Statistics from the Family Protection Unit (FPU) reveal that since 2006 the unit has attended to an average of 145 patients per year – 87 per cent of whom were women – with a noticeable upward trend in the number of cases reported each month.
While sexual abuse was the most common form of abuse suffered by FPU patients, in 83 per cent of cases the perpetrator was a friend or family member, and was known to the victim.
Half of abuse victims reported that the perpetrator was a boyfriend or husband.
The “1 in 3″ campaign – launched to coincide with the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the beginning of the annual global event supported by the UN: ’16 Days of Activism Against Violence’ – aims to raise awareness of the issue through a sustained media campaign over the next two weeks.
At the ceremony, which was attended by Health Minister Aminath Jameel and UN Resident Coordinator Andrew Cox, the campaign was officially launched by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Lieutenant Colonel Hamid Shafeeq with the unveiling of the campaign song “Geveshi Hiyaa”.
CEM-H is based in Honduras and is a partner organisation of UK based Central American Women’s Network.
To commenorate the International Day for The Elimination of Male Violence Against Women CEM-H have released the following statement to the international community.
November 25, International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women
Political Positioning Of Feminists In Resistance In Honduras
Center for Women’s Rights CDM
Center for Women’s Studies Honduras CEM-H
As feminist organizations concerned about the grave escalation of violence that envelops the country of Honduras, and the huge number of FEMICIDES, (violent murders of women motivated by gender discrimination) that now amount 285 cases from January to October 2010 and in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women we make public to Hondurans and the international community the following:
We express our deepest concern for the grave escalation of violence that is ending the lives of thousands of persons, especially young men, young women, and children of both genders in numbers that exceed real war scenarios around the world and place the country at the top of the list of the most violent countries in the world, with as much as 20 victims a day.
Honduras has the highest rates of violence against women in Central America and as a whole in the Latin American region. The United Nations has coined the term the “triangle of violence” to refer to the three Central American countries with the highest rates of violence against women: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The number of FEMICIDES occurring in Honduras from 2003 to 2010 reaches 1464 victims. 44% of the cases have involved young women between the ages of 15 and 29.
More than half of the FEMICIDES that occur at the national level (55%) take place in the most important cities of the country, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the two most developed departments of the country, Cortés and Francisco Morazán, and where the maquiladora industry prospers.
Violence in all its manifestations in Honduras involves disproportionately men in their roles as aggressors in intimate, family, and community relations as well as perpetrators of organized public violence or organized crime. This includes hired murders, gang murders, or the crimes transnational networks of drug trafficking, human trafficking and others. Women’s bodies have become the battleground where men settle their scores, take revenge on each other, and demonstrate their power over women’s lives.
In an overwhelming number of cases, the women and girls that were victims of violence did not bring this violence onto themselves; the brutal aggressions against them and their deaths occurred while they were engaged in their daily activities, in their own homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, or walking down the streets in the main cities that have become the privileged sites of the femicides: 1 in 3 femicides took place in the house of the victim and 2 out 5 in the streets.
80% of the victims were murdered at gunfire, and femicides were the result of multiple crimes at least in 14 cases, with 2 to 4 women and girls killed each time, most of them in their own homes.
Women are killed because they are women; because men feel they have the power and the permission to exert violence over women, even the most extreme and lethal form of violence supported as they are by the impunity the state grants them and by the social tolerance of violence against women that protects them from punishment. Unsolved crimes accumulate as well as crimes that receive no application of justice by the law, and the victims of direct and indirect violence receive no attention nor compensation for the damage suffered. In all reported cases, 95% of them contain no information of the possible aggressor. Of 944 cases of violent deaths of women between 2008 and 2010 recorded by the Unit of Crimes against the Lives of Women of the office of the District Attorney for Women, only 61 court rulings were registered, that amounts to 6.4% of the cases.
Femicides are considered felonies, thus, the Honduran state is the main culprit for the situation of violence of women and the impunity of the crimes against them. We find ourselves today before a collapsed state with weakened, inefficient, and irresponsible institutions. The institutions of the state have demonstrated that they not only pay lip service, but that they have no real commitment to the law. They have no real intention to work to stop, prevent, and punish the violence against women.
As women and as feminists in resistance we call all women and men that believe in peace and justice, and all social and popular organizations and organized women of Honduras and the world to help us build a new Honduras in which rights, peace, equity, respect, and justice is guaranteed for all. Tegucigalpa, November 22 2010
CAMPAIGN FOR THE LIFE OF WOMEN: MY BODY IS NOT A BATTLEGROUND
STOP FEMICIDES: WOMEN ARE BEING MURDERED AND THE AUTHORITIES DON’T CARE
NO MORE IRRESPONSIBLE STATE FUNCTIONARIES AND POLITICIANS!
Please circulate the message to your contact and supporters of the struggle to end violence against women.
16 Days 2010 Theme Announcement
This year marks the 20th 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, and with this important landmark, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) is considering new ways to utilize the campaign for transformative change. Year after year, new partners join the 16 Days Campaign to bring local, national, and global attention to the various forms of violence that women face. The attention that gender-based violence has received in international forums is a testimony to the powerful actions of women’s rights activists around the world. Yet, despite this increased awareness, women continue to experience violations in alarming numbers and new forms of violence are emerging. We, as defenders of women’s human rights, have a responsibility to look more closely at the structures in place that permit gender-based violence to exist and persist. After much consultation with activists, organizations, and experts from around the world, militarism has emerged as one of the key structures that perpetuates violence.
While there are many different ways to define militarism, our working definition outlines militarism as an ideology that creates a culture of fear and supports the use of violence, aggression, or military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing economic and political interests. It is a psychology that often has grave consequences for the true safety and security of women and of society as a whole. Militarism is a distinctive way of looking at the world; it influences how we see our neighbors, our families, our public life, and other people in the world. To embrace militarism is to presume that everyone has enemies and that violence is an effective way to solve problems. To leave militaristic ways of thinking unchallenged is to leave certain forms of masculinity privileged, to leave global hierarchies of power firmly in place, to grant impunity to wartime perpetrators of violence against women. To roll back militarism is to inspire more expansive ideas about genuine security, to bring more women into public life, to create a world built not on the competitive sale of weapons, but on authentic relations of trust and cooperation.
There is a need to address militaristic beliefs in all of our societies. Militarism has material and institutional, as well as cultural and psychological consequences that are more difficult to measure. Wars, internal conflicts, and violent repressions of political and social justice movements – all of which are a result of a culture of militarism – have a particular and often disproportionate impact on women. Rape is used as a tactic of war to drive fear and to humiliate women and their communities. But sexual violence is just one form of violence that women and girls suffer throughout the continuum of violence before, during and after conflict has ostensibly ended. Militarism neither ends nor begins in warzones, nor does it confine itself to the public sphere. The families of militarized men and women may experience violence in their homes where ‘war crimes’ and armed domestic violence are hidden from public view, and women who serve in the military are just as easily victims of sexual assault by their fellow soldiers. Even places that are not experiencing conflict directly are not exempt from militarism: they send troops, produce and sell weapons, and invest in the militaries of foreign governments rather than supporting development efforts. These governments have skewed priorities, spending huge percentages of their budgets on the military and arms rather than on social services, such as education, health care, job security, and development that would yield real security for women.
For these reasons, the international theme for the 2010 16 Days Campaign will be:
Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates November 25 – International Day Against Violence Against Women – and December 10 – International Human Rights Day – in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
* raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
* strengthening local work around violence against women
* establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
* providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
* demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
* creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
Over 3,400 organizations in approximately 164 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991!
The Annual Theme
The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) today launched its annual global Call for Propoosals for programmes that support country-level efforts to end violence against women and girls. The criteria, eligibility requirements and application guidelines are available at
The deadline for application is 20 January 2011.
Civil society organizations, governments, and UN Country Teams (working in partnerships with governments and civil society) are invited to submit applications for grants of a minimum of US$100,000 up to a maximum of US$1 million for a period of two to three years.
As one of his UNiTE campaign benchmarks, the UN Secretary-General has set a target of raising a minimum of US$100 million for the UN Trust Fund by 2015, in order to realize existing commitments to ending violence against women and girls.
Established in 1996 by the UN General Assembly, the UN Trust Fund is managed by UNIFEM (part of UN Women) on behalf of the UN system. Today, the UN Trust Fund is an essential source of support and a hub of knowledge for promising approaches to address violence against women and girls. In 2009, the UN Trust Fund received a total of 1,643 proposals and awarded US$20.5 million to 26 initiatives in 33 countries and territories.
The UN Trust Fund relies on the support from governments. In 2009-2010, its donors included the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.
The UN Trust Fund has also received vital support of its partners in the private sector and nonprofit organizations, including Avon and Avon Foundation for Women; Johnson & Johnson; the United Nations Foundation; UNIFEM (part of UN Women) National Committees in Austria, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom; and Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation.
UNIFEM (part of UN Women) is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women’s human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit
UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017.
Tel: +1 212 906-6400.
Fax: +1 212 906-6705.
A group of advocates and attorneys for displaced women in Haiti submitted a petition calling for urgent action to confront an epidemic of sexual violence in the camps for displaced people. Evidence gathered through multiple on-the-ground investigations has revealed a shocking pattern of rape, beatings and threats against the lives of women and girls living in the camps. This petition for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls for the IACHR to require that the government of Haiti and the international community take such immediate action as ensuring security and installing lighting in the camps.
Since the catastrophic January 12 earthquake took some 200,000 lives and rendered 1.5 million people homeless, women and girls living in the camps have faced bleak conditions and a constant threat of rape. Lawyers and researchers, partnering with Haitian grassroots women’s groups, have documented testimonies where women have been brutally attacked in their tents or while walking down poorly-lit paths within the camps. Meanwhile, basic preventative measures such as providing lighting, privacy, security and housing have been critically lacking.
Lisa Davis, MADRE Human Rights Advocacy Director and professor of law at CUNY School of Law, said “Women in the camps in Haiti have mobilized to create immediate strategies to combat violence, such as establishing night watch patrols and distributing whistles to deter rapists. But these initiatives are no substitute for governments meeting their obligations to protect women’s human rights. With the capacity of the Haitian government badly undermined even before the earthquake, the international community must join together in seeking a solution to the crisis of women’s human rights in Haiti.”
Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said today, “The ultimate solution here is permanent, safe housing for Haitians. Unfortunately, the international community has reneged on its commitment to provide essential funds for rebuilding and the U.S., in particular, has not delivered even one cent of the reconstruction funding it pledged. Women are being forced to live in extremely unsafe conditions for the foreseeable future and it is a deplorable failure on the part of those who made such a show about standing with the Haitian people in their greatest hour of need.”
Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Assistant Director of Haiti Programs at the University of San Francisco School of Law said today, “This epidemic of rapes will continue until the international community and Haitian government address the underlying housing crisis. The crowded tent and tarp encampments that house 1.5 million Haitians in Port au Prince provide no security against sexual assault. The Haitian government’s response to the housing crisis has been to assist landowners in evicting families from displacement camps without providing any alternative place to live, further exacerbating security issues. These forced evictions must stop immediately and a comprehensive resettlement plan protecting Haiti’s displaced population must be adopted.”
Lisa Davis served as the primary author of the petition; under supervision from Davis, students from CUNY Law’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic joined the on-the-ground investigation. Documentation from their interviews with Haitian women has become part of the petition’s record.
To view a redacted copy of the petition, click here
To view the petition in French, click here
Women at the International Women’s Istanbul Meeting protested Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his speech at the Istanbul Congress Centre. They rose to their feet and held up banners reading “More of us are being killed when you say we are not equal” and “The men’s love kills three women per day”.
The women protested quietly. Security personnel in the hall took the banners and removed the women from the venue.
Members of the Feminist Collective underlined that 236 women were killed in the first seven months of 2010. “Prime Minister Erdoğan continues to tell women to give birth to three children whereas he does not mention the women who died”, they criticized.
The women reminded Erdoğan’s statement made in a meeting with women organizations in Istanbul where he said, “I do not believe in gender equality”. The women questioned “Prime Minister Erdoğan’s policies to be implemented to provide safety for the life of women”.
“We do not ask Prime Minister Erdoğan to work on the women’s ‘disposition’ or on ‘how many children they should have’. We want him to fulfil his duty and prevent violence against women, oppression and discrimination. We want to hear that steps are being taken and policies are being implemented that guarantee our right to life and life safety. We want to hear that very urgently because on every day that passes with all these announcements, another three women are being killed”.
The women made a press release including the following issues:
* According to the standards of the European Union (EU), one women’s shelter should be opened per 7,500 people. Hence, there should be 7,500 shelters in Turkey, but in reality there are 38. They have a total capacity of 867 people.
* In the Gender Equality report of the World Economic Forum Turkey ranks in 126th position among a total of 134 countries.
* The number of women murders increased by 1,400 percent within the past seven years. There is no action plan to stop this development. In fact, the legislature and the executive do not even have an according agenda.
* At court, the murders benefit from an unjust mitigation of punishment because of provocation. The women are killed by their husbands after they come back from the police, from shelters and prosecutors.
Part of a longer article at
An immediate and worldwide public outcry followed an urgent press release by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution giving notice of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s imminent execution. Shortly thereafter more than half a million people sent letters of protest, there were two million tweets on Sakineh, and rallies and events were held in a number of cities.
The International Committees against Stoning and Execution issued the press release after receiving credible information attesting to the plan to execute her on 3 November. Reliable sources within Iran confirmed having seen the actual execution order sent from Tehran to Tabriz prison’s office of sentence implementation and also seen Sakineh’s name on a blacklist of those to be imminently executed.
The Islamic Republic of Iran often executes people without any public warning or notice and even without informing lawyers and family members in order to avoid local and international condemnation. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights, at least 23 people have been executed these past few days alone without any official announcement.
Nonetheless the regime persists in concealing the real danger Ms Ashtiani’s life is in. Its Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that ‘the final verdict in the Sakineh Ashtiani case has not been announced by the Iranian judiciary.’ Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of the justice department in East Azarbaijan province, where Ms Ashtiani is imprisoned, also said that her case was under judicial review and she was in ‘perfect health.’
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a ‘judicial review’ often effectively means that the regime is waiting for the opportunity to carry out its executions. The regime has executed many people whilst their cases were ‘under review.’ One well known case was that of juvenile ‘offender’ Delara Darabi who was executed in 2009 during a two month reprieve.
Whilst Sakineh has been held incommunicado since 11 August and her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, been imprisoned and tortured since 10 October, the International Committees against Stoning and Execution will continue to act as their voice and their defence. And we will continue to raise the alarm when necessary until Ms Ashtiani’s stoning and execution orders are rescinded and she, her son and lawyer are unconditionally and immediately released.
International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!
1. Contact government officials, MPs, MEPs, and the UN asking them to intervene urgently. Governments must immediately summon the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassadors and demand that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s execution and stoning orders be rescinded and that she along with her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, and the two German journalists be immediately released.
2. Sign on to a petition at:
3. Send letters of condemnation to the Islamic regime of Iran:
Head of the Judiciary
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Email: email@example.com or via website:
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Head of the Judiciary in East Azerbaijan Province
Office of the Head of the Judiciary in Tabriz
East Azerbaijan, Iran
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Email: via website:
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986
For more information, contact:
Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Execution and International Committee against Stoning: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +49 (0) 1775692413,
Federal Supreme Court Ruling Effectively Endorses Wife Beating
A decision by the United Arab Emirates Federal Supreme Court upholding a husband’s right to “chastise” his wife and children with physical abuse violates the right of the country’s women and children to liberty, security, and equality in the family – and potentially their right to life, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling, citing the UAE penal code, sanctions beating and other forms of punishment or coercion providing the violence leaves no physical marks.
Human Rights Watch called on the government urgently to repeal all discriminatory laws, including any that sanction domestic violence.
“This ruling by the UAE’s highest court is evidence that the authorities consider violence against women and children to be completely acceptable,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Domestic violence should never be tolerated under any circumstances. These provisions are blatantly demeaning to women and pose serious risks to their well-being.”
The October 5, 2010 court ruling, a copy of which Human Rights Watch obtained, states that, “Although the husband has the right to discipline his wife in accordance with article 53 of the penal code, he must abide by conditions setting limits to this right, and if the husband abuses this right to discipline, he shall not be exempt from punishment.”
Article 53 of the UAE’s penal code acknowledges the right of a “chastisement by a husband to his wife and the chastisement of minor children” so long as the assault does not exceed the limits prescribed by Shari’a. Similarly, article 56 of the UAE’s personal status code obligates women to “obey” their husbands.
The case was initiated with a trial of a man for kicking and slapping his 23-year-old daughter and slapping his wife at the Sharjah Court of First Instance in December 2009. According to the judgment, “medical reports confirmed the evidence of wounds to the daughter’s right hand and right knee, and evidence of wounds to the wife’s lower lip and injuries to her teeth.”
This court found the man guilty of violating article 2/339 of the penal code and fined him 500 dirhams (US $136). This penal provision on crimes against persons states that whoever assaults another person, if the assault did not reach the degree of seriousness to cause illness or disability, shall be sentenced to prison for a term not exceeding one year and a fine not to exceed 10,000 dirhams (US$2,722)
The Sharjah Court of Appeals upheld the decision on February 14, but the man appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found the man guilty of abusing his daughter because she is no longer a minor and too old to be disciplined by her father. The court also found the man guilty of “abusing his Shari’a rights” when disciplining his wife because of the severity of that attack. The judgment states that, “The court, convinced of the appearance of injuries on the bodies of the plaintiffs, has overridden the defendant’s right to discipline due to his use of severe beatings.” In effect, the Supreme Court validated the penal code’s legalization of domestic violence, but found that in this case the abuse went too far.
In 2004, the UAE signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The convention’s General Recommendation on Violence against Women regards gender-based violence as a form of discrimination between men and women and calls on governments to take effective measures to combat all forms of violence against women, regardless of whether the act is private or public. The UAE also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1997. Article 19 of the CRC states that parties shall take all appropriate measures to protect children from all forms of violence, whether physical or mental.
“The UAE Supreme Court’s ruling lets stand a law that is degrading, discriminatory, and outright dangerous for women and children,” Khalife said. “The UAE needs to come to grips with reality of domestic violence, repeal all discriminatory provisions sanctioning violence against women and children, enact laws that criminalize such behavior, and provide appropriate services to victims.”