News

4/11/2013

Egypt is the only country in North Africa where the practise of female genital mutilation remains widespread – despite an official ban and many public information campaigns for women. Anna Kölling reports from Cairo

According to estimates, over 90 per cent of all Egyptian women of childbearing age are affected by genital mutilation. The scale of this practice first became apparent in 1994 with a study conducted on population development and health. Activists have been fighting against female circumcision for decades and, after the popular uprising in early 2011, women's rights once again became a prominent topic in the media. Although women and men have fought side by side on the streets, the rights of women are nevertheless becoming increasingly jeopardised. Ultra-conservative groups, for example, are calling for the lifting of the ban on female circumcision, which was enacted into law in 2008.

31/10/2013

In September, Iranian President Rouhani granted amnesty to 12 political prisoners as he made his way to an annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. But former Evin prison inmate and 2009 IWMF Courage in Journalism Awardee, Jila Baniyaghoob, cautions this isolated act does not signify democratic momentum.

30/10/2013

File 2047

29 October 2013 – Harmful practices inflicted on women and girls can never be justified in the name of freedom of religion or belief, an independent United Nations human rights expert told a General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues today.

“Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. “My main message is that there is much more room for synergies between those two rights than people generally assume,” he told reporters after his presentation.

“Often you find the assumption that, you go either for religion or for gender emancipation and you can’t really combine the two, which I would find not only wrong but dangerous.”

30/10/2013

Justice for Iran (JFI), London (28 October 2013) – On 24 October, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Professor Rashida Manjoo, introduced a comprehensive report, entitled Pathways to, conditions and consequences of incarceration of women. The report was officially presented at the UN General Assembly session and was followed by efforts highlighting the need to improve knowledge and skills pertaining to rights of women in the criminal justice system.

29/10/2013

Toutkhal: Kurdistan is one of Iraq’s rare success stories; autonomous from Baghdad since 1991, the region has recently enjoyed an oil boom that’s fuelled foreign investment unknown elsewhere in the country.

And recently Iraqi Kurdistan has been looking closely at its human rights record. Two years ago Female Genital Mutilation was banned, as part of a wide-ranging law to improve women’s rights, and since then the rate of FGM has fallen dramatically.

But how have they achieved this? Kurdistan is very much the exception.

24/10/2013
 
Tough Sharia Penal Code introduced Tuesday has been in the works for years and is expected to be phased in in upcoming six months

21/10/2013

18 October 2013 – The United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials today issued a strong call on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution this morning, the Security Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinges on an approach that integrates “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality,” concerns and urged Member States and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and committed to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.

16/10/2013

Saudi women’s rights activists Thursday posted photographs and videos of themselves behind the wheel on social media websites, defying a de-facto ban on women driving in the kingdom.

The social media flurry came two days after three female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council requested that the issue be discussed in the forum.

According to Al Arabiya, the women who took part in Thursday’s campaign were welcomed by some onlookers.

One video posted on YouTube showed a Saudi mother capturing footage of her daughter “Azza” driving a car.

16/10/2013

Women’s organisations in Egypt continue the struggle to put women’s rights on the agenda. Recently, 800 women’s organisations met in Cairo to discuss the way forward during this crucial transitional period.

In the end of September, The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation’s partner organisation Alliance for Arab Women, together with the Solidarity Ministry in Egypt, organised a national conference on women’s role during the transitional period in the country.

”Women are now organised in such a way that they can put pressure on the government. But the conference also showed that NGOs are willing to cooperate with the government, as long as the government is willing to recognize women,” says Hoda Badran, chairperson of Alliance of Arab Women, one of the organisations that Kvinna till Kvinna supports in Egypt.

15/10/2013

[The following text is an extract from Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes’ recent book Weapon of the Strong: Conversations on US State Terrorism (Pluto, 2012), also featuring Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Edward S. Herman, Norman Finkelstein, and others.  Click here for more details.]

To what extent, in your view, do the ways in which mainstream media select and contextualise events determine the boundaries of public thinking?  You have said on one hand, regarding the “framing” of war and terrorism, that, “Efforts to control the visual and narrative dimensions of war delimit public discourse by establishing and disposing the sensuous parameters of reality itself”,[i] but also that “specters are produced that haunt the ratified version of reality”.[ii]

Judith Butler: There are surely many ways that this happens, but we can note at the most obvious level the way in which forms of resistance or violence get cast as “conflicts” that assume two sides that are fighting only against one another.  We are more often than not asked, for instance, to regard Israel and Palestine as in a conflict of this kind, a framing that sets each of them on equal footing, and implicitly analogises the political situation to a fist fight, a soccer match, or a domestic quarrel.  So if, then, the only two intelligible political positions are “pro-Palestinian” or “pro-Israeli,” the presumption is that one’s position is determined by a sentiment that wants one side to win over the other.  In the meantime, what is lost is any sense that the Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonial rule is waged from a situation of occupation or expulsion, that there is a military order that controls the boundaries of what would be a sovereign Palestinian state, that the land on which that state is now thinkable has been radically diminished by an ongoing practice of land confiscation and appropriation.  So we set the actors on the scene through the banal discourse of “conflict” in ways that fully deflect from the history and struggle of colonial resistance, refusing as well by that means to link the resistance to other forms of colonial resistance, their rationale, and their tactics.

Obviously, visual renditions of war not only establish what can be seen, and the audio-track established what can be heard, but the photographs also “train” us in ways of focusing on targets, ways of regarding suffering and loss.  So photographs can be forms of recruitment, ways of bringing the viewer into the military, as it were. In this way, they prepare us for war, even enlist us in war, at the level of the senses, establishing a sensate regime of war.