15/5/10; A mud-walled village in Iran. Soraya, a 35-year-old mother of seven, is falsely accused of adultery by her violent husband, who wants to be rid of her to marry a 4-year-old girl. He blackmails the local mullah, who sentences Soraya to death by stoning under Sharia law. The crowd cries “Allahu akbar [God is great!]” as Soraya’s two young sons are invited to hurl the first stones. It takes Soraya an agonising three hours to die. The next day an Iranian-French journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam, stops in the village to get his car fixed and is told the horrific story by Soraya’s fearless aunt, Zahra. He makes a narrow escape from the village and goes on to write a book in honour of Soraya that will become an international bestseller in 1994, opening the eyes of the West for the first time to the barbaric practice of stoning in some Islamic countries.
Archive for the ‘Womens Rights’ Category
Tony Allen-Mills; 15/5/10
What are these? Why did you choose this place?” asks Ayaan Hirsi Ali, eyebrows arched in feigned alarm. We are in New York’s Algonquin hotel, just a few hundred metres from Times Square, where a Muslim would-be bomber parked a car full of explosives a couple of days earlier. Radical Islamists have been trying for years to kill Hirsi Ali, a softly spoken politician turned intellectual who combines the beauty of a film star with the uncompromising zeal of an Enlightenment crusader. She has been under siege since the ritualised murder in 2004 of her friend, Theo van Gogh, who had helped her make the film Submission, a blistering polemic about Islam’s treatment of women. A letter pinned to Van Gogh’s chest – or, rather, stabbed in place with a butcher’s knife – warned Hirsi Ali that “you will go down”. She went into hiding, exchanging a career as a Dutch MP for exile.
John L Allen Jr; 14/5/10;
Few Catholic bishops anywhere in the world have spent more time coping with the fallout from the sexual abuse crisis – pastoral, political, legal, and spiritual – than Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. When he became bishop of Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1992, he inherited the infamous James Porter case, and ten years later he took over an archdiocese in virtual meltdown when he succeeded Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston. O’Malley sat down with NCR on May 13 in Fatima, Portugal, where he’s participating in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. He discussed the pope’s comments on the crisis en route to Portugal – insisting that the real problem is not attacks from the outside, but the reality of sin within the church – and other matters.
Carole Landry, 13/5/10
The French parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the full-face Islamic veil as an affront to the nation’s values, setting the stage for a law banning it. The vote in the National Assembly put France on course to become the second European country after Belgium to declare the wearing of the burqa or the niqab illegal in public places. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party and the opposition Socialists made a rare show of unity in backing the non-binding resolution that declared the veil ”contrary to the values of the republic”.
10/5/10; (2 Items)
A couple who operated a Sydney brothel forced five women to live in “conditions of slavery”, making them work more than 100 hours per week, even if they were sick, a jury has been told. Trevor Frank McIvor, 62, and his de facto wife, Kanokporn Tanuchit, 44, have each pleaded not guilty to five counts of possessing a slave and five counts of using a slave. The jurors, who were told the hearing is a retrial, heard that the five women were recruited from Thailand by a third party, who arranged Australian visas for them. Crown prosecutor Bruce Levet said on their arrival in Sydney, the women had their passports and phones taken and they were housed in “restricted circumstances” at the Fairfield brothel or the couple’s house.
Dick Gross;10/5/10, (3 Items)
There is a financial contagion threatening to sweep Europe but another contagion, just as destructive, is going pan European – Islamophobia. The French started it with the prohibition of the veil in schools. It has now extended to prohibitions on Islamic practices in Switzerland and Belgium. Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi in his blog and in The National Times argued that some of the prohibitions should leap the Pacific and come here. Amazingly 81 per cent of National Times readers agreed with him in an (admittedly unscientific) poll of more than 10,000 respondents. Ah one can never go wrong spewing out racial divisiveness. This dog whistle has worked. Bernardi must be rapt.
Bruce Elder: 8/5/10,
Irvine Welsh and others; Vintage, 189pp, $24,95
If you believe we should all be treated equally, regardless of race or sex, then you will already be appalled by those countries and societies where prejudice against young girls, simply because they are female, is part of the fabric of everyday life. It is easy to register that the life of a female child in Egypt, the Sudan, Brazil, Togo, the Dominican Republic, Liberia and Sierra Leone is far worse than it is for a boy but it is hard to break free from the easy torpor of indifference and attempt to do something about that horrific injustice.
Samah Hadid & Rayann Bekdache; 8/5/10
A woman gets arrested for wearing a controversial item of clothing that the state deems out of line and is convicted of public indecency. We are not talking about Belgium, Italy or France but, rather, Sudan. However, these days it’s easy to get the countries mixed up. It’s hard not to compare the recent cases of a French woman who was fined while wearing a niqab and driving, a fully veiled Italian woman who was issued with a fine of 500 euros ($A712) while walking in the street and the absurd arrest of a woman for wearing trousers in Sudan last September. The issue came closer to home yesterday when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott responded to calls by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi for a ban on the burqa by saying there is ”understandable community concern” about the attire. The common thread in these cases is the attempt at state intervention in the personal spheres of women’s clothing and expression.
Jo Chandler; 8/5/10
International health literature is loaded with graphs and studies describing, in antiseptic terms, the three obstacles that prevent a pregnant woman from getting the care she needs to survive childbirth.
-First is social: will her family recognise when she is in trouble, will culture allow her to seek help, can she afford it?
-Next is access: are there the roads, communications, vehicles to get her to care?
-Finally there is the quality of care at journey’s end: will she find skilled staff, clean facilities, vital drugs and equipment?
To see these factors at work, step out of the literature into messy reality, into the Tarin Kowt Hospital in Afghanistan.
Kevin Rudd accused the opposition of cynical politics over Liberal senator Cory Bernardi’s call for a ban on wearing the burka in public. As the Islamic community and lawyers attacked the call, the Prime Minister accused Tony Abbott of “walking both sides of the street” on the issue after the Opposition Leader distanced himself from the policy. Asked by the ABC’s Jon Faine if the Coalition was playing the race card, Mr Rudd said: “I’ll let your listeners draw that conclusion.” Senator Bernardi this week warned the burka was emerging as a “disguise of bandits” and called for its ban after an armed robber used one as a disguise in a Sydney theft.
Sexual violence is a devastating weapon in the war-torn North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese army and rebel groups systematically use brutal gang rape against their enemies, causing crippling injuries and spreading HIV. The numbers speak for themselves. Aid groups estimate one in three women in North Kivu have been raped. Over 30 per cent of these have been infected with HIV. All across this devastated region – in every village, every camp and almost every home – a man-made plague is stealing and destroying the lives of women. In a scale never seen before around the world.
The Labor government has broken its promise on domestic violence, delivering just half the police officers promised to a specialised unit, state opposition leader Barry O’Farrell says. Only 23 of the 40 additional specially-trained police officers promised to the Family and Domestic Violence Unit in Labor’s 2007 election policy have been assigned, Mr O’Farrell said in a statement on Friday. “This is another tragic example of the Keneally Labor government making the grand announcement but failing to follow through,” Mr O’Farrell said. There were 25,694 domestic violence-related assaults in 2009, an average of 71 a day, Mr O’Farrell said. “To make matters worse, two years ago, Labor axed 24 experienced domestic violence case-workers in the Department of Community Services,” he said.”It is simply unacceptable for the Keneally Labor government to walk away from this commitment. “The incompetent Keneally Labor government has let down the victims of domestic violence, who deserve to be treated with care and sensitivity.”
Anyone who discriminates against breastfeeding mothers could face action under proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act. Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government would amend the legislation by extending protections from discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities to both women and men in all areas of employment. Mr McClelland said the changes would provide greater protection from sexual harassment for students and workers, ensure protections from sex discrimination applied equally to women and men and establish breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination. “Ensuring that anti-discrimination law meets the needs of contemporary Australians is an important part of ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights,” he said in a statement. The proposed changes are part of the government’s response to a report of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality. Mr McClelland said the government would also consider other recommendations from the committee report as part of a move towards consolidating anti-discrimination legislation into one single comprehensive law. “Strengthening protections for workers with family responsibilities is an important step toward achieving economic equality between women and men,” he said.
Katherine Murphy; 7/5/10
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has fuelled the political debate over the burqas worn by Muslim women by saying there is ”understandable community concern” about the attire. Mr Abbott made the remarks in response to a call by one of his MPs for burqas to be banned in Australia in the wake of an armed robbery in Sydney by a man in a full black burqa. Mr Abbott said Senator Cory Bernardi’s remarks reflected his personal views rather than Coalition policy – but he added: ”There is understandable concern in the community about what former prime minister John Howard called a confronting form of attire.” Senator Bernardi’s call was dismissed yesterday by some Muslim leaders as nothing more than a political stunt.
A Muslim in Italy has been fined €500 for wearing a burqa. Tunisian immigrant Amel Marmouri, 26, was stopped by police in the city of Novara, in the north-east. A 1975 regulation invoking an anti-terrorism law prohibits people from wearing anything that impedes identification. Mrs Marmouri’s husband said his wife would continue to wear the burqa as he did not want other men to see her. He said she would have to stay at home. Town mayor Massimo Giordano said he had hoped the new ordinance would have deterred Muslim women from wearing burqas and niqabs. He said the new rule was introduced because it is ”the only tool at our disposal to stop behaviour that makes the already difficult process of integration even harder”.
Days before G20 leaders meet in June, women from the world’s 20 leading economies are to hold their own “G(irls)20 summit” to highlight women’s contributions to global economic prosperity. From June 15 to 18, the women will discuss the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals that affect girls and women, notably eradicating poverty and hunger, and improving maternal health, organisers announced on Wednesday. Delegates are to debate education, contraception and the role of women in a modern society. They will also be encouraged to propose ways to bolster women’s economic participation. The summit was inspired in part by a suggestion by Lawrence Summers, former World Bank chief economist and current economic adviser to US President Barack Obama, that a woman invests 80 per cent of every dollar earned in her family and community, compared to 30 per cent by men.