United States

The Obama administration has granted asylum to a Mexican woman who was sexually abused and severely battered by her common-law husband. The decision, in a closely watched case, clarifies the exacting standard that domestic abuse victims must meet to win asylum. Department of Homeland Security officials found that the woman had proved that she could not expect the Mexican authorities to protect her from the violence and murder threats of her attacker, and that she could not safely relocate anywhere in the country to escape him. During decades of abuse, the man repeatedly raped her at the point of guns and machetes, and once tried to burn her alive, according to court documents in the case in San Francisco.

La Cour suprême de l'Utah (ouest des Etats-Unis) a cassé mardi la condamnation d'un gourou polygame d'une secte mormone américaine, Warren Jeffs, qui avait obligé une adolescente de 14 ans à épouser son cousin, et demandé la tenue d'un nouveau procès. M. Jeffs, 51 ans, est le chef de file et "prophète" autoproclamé de l'Eglise fondamentaliste de Jésus-Christ des saints du dernier jour (FLDS), une branche dissidente de l'église mormone. Il avait fait appel de sa condamnation, en 2007, pour complicité de viol, arguant de multiples fautes de procédure avant le procès.

The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the convictions of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and ordered a new trial. Jeffs, 54, was convicted by a southern Utah jury in 2007 of two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 nuptials of Elissa Wall, then 14, to her 19-year-old cousin, Allen Steed. Jeffs is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison on the convictions, but the high court ruled Tuesday that jury instructions on lack of consent were in error. Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The group, based on the Utah-Arizona state line, practices polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders.

CNN—a pioneer in global broadcasting and at one time a major force in world journalism —fired twenty year veteran editor Octavia Nasr for a 140 character twitter tweet that expressed “respect” for a highly respected Shi’ite Muslim cleric, Ayotallah Fadlallah. 

Charlotte Bunch a discuté avec l’AWID pour rendre hommage à une collègue et amie de longue date qu’elle appréciait beaucoup : Rhonda Copelon. Par Masum Momaya

UN Special Rapporteur Rahisda Manjoo has published a thirty four page report on violence again women its causes and consequences. During the period under review, the Special Rapporteur requested invitations to visit Somalia, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe. Earlier requests for country visits had also been made to the Governments of Jordan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Special Rapporteurs typically send a letter to the Government requesting to visit the country, and, if the Government agrees, an invitation to visit is extended. Some countries have issued "standing invitations", which means that they are, in principle, prepared to receive a visit from any special procedures mandate holder. 
International human rights organization Equality Now welcomes the AAP's decision to withdraw its ill-conceived revised policy statement on female genital mutilation (FGM) issued on April 26, 2010. The new policy statement essentially promoted Type IV FGM, as categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO), and suggested that federal and state laws might be more effective if they "enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a 'ritual nick'." In a release issued today, the AAP stated that it has "retired" its 2010 revised statement on FGM, is opposed to "all forms of female genital cutting" and "does not endorse the practice of offering a 'clitoral nick'. Update on United States: AAP Policy Statement on FGM 'ill-advised'

The WLUML network is saddened to learn of the passing of friend, ally and inspirational feminist human rights lawyer Rhonda Copeland, who died on 6 May 2010 after a long battle with cancer.  She was a professor at the CUNY School of Law, a practicing human rights attorney with and Vice-President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who broke new ground opening U.S. federal courts and international tribunals to gender-based violence and international human rights violations. She worked closely with the WLUML network around issues of having women’s rights recognized as human rights by the United Nations, and around a groundbreaking lawsuit on behalf of nine individuals and the Rassemblement Algerien des Femmes Democrates (RAFD) against the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) of Algeria and its leader. The case charged the FIS with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including assassination, rape and torture. 

In 1994, a frightened 17 year old girl boarded a plane to flee an impending forced marriage to a much older man with three other wives. In a small room waiting for the groom, in Togo, West Africa, Fauziya Kassindja was also warned that a woman would soon arrive to excise her clitoris and other parts of her genitalia in preparation for her impending nuptials. From time immemorial, women in her community needed to be "clean" for their husbands and to gain acceptance into society. In honor of her father who had protected her until his sudden death, Fauziya refused that day to undergo the harmful practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, and escaped.

On 26 April 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a “Policy Statement – Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors” that in effect promotes changes in US federal and state laws to “enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick” such as “pricking or incising the clitoral skin to satisfy cultural requirements.”

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