In the summer issue of the WLUML newsletter, Fatou Sow asks: “To ban or not to ban the burqa?” – that is a question in the European Union; Belgium and France banned it lately, so the debate continues at a high political level amongst many other member states, provoking contradictory responses across the world. Meanwhile in Iran, a year after the disputed elections of 2009, the women’s movement faces growing suppression from the authorities. We feature an article by Leila Mouri, which examines the impact of the government crackdown on the status of women and their activism in Iran today.
Also in Iran, we update events in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whose death by stoning sentence, since ‘commuted’ to hanging, has received almost unprecedented attention from the international media over the last month. WLUML welcomed the July 2010 announcement of a new UN agency to promote equality for women around the world. UN Women will have an estimated annual budget of $500m for carrying out its remit of challenging governments on women’s rights.
Other international items include a report on the violence against the women of Hassi Messaoud, and the rapid response of women’s groups in Algeria and France. There are also updates from Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt and Iraqi radio producer and activist Farah Al-Dujaili, who interned at the WLUML ICO during the summer, gives a personal insight to women’s issues in her home country. WLUML networkers Farida Shaheed and Rashida Manjoo submit their first reports to the Human Rights Council, and WLUML founding member, Marieme Hélie-Lucas, follows up some issues brought to light by Gita Sahgal’s parting of ways with Amnesty International, questioning the apolitical stance of human rights organizations.