Thursday, February 12, 2009

: A Czech Solution for Sex Offenders

The Unkindest Cut: A Czech Solution for Sex Offenders
By Leo Cendrowicz / Brussels Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009
Colin Anderson / Brand X / Corbis
A doctor makes an incision in a man's scrotal sack and, deftly wielding his scalpel, quickly removes both testicles.

In the Czech Republic that simple operation is the punishment for male sex offenders. But to the Council of Europe, the region's leading human rights body, the procedure is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." In a report issued last week the Council called the punishment "degrading" and demanded it be scrapped immediately.
'Old Europe' Wary as Czechs Take Over EU Presidency
Over the past decade, at least 94 prisoners have undergone the treatment in the Czech Republic, the only country in Europe to continue to surgically castrate sex offenders. The Czech government insists the procedure is a medical issue, permanently reducing testosterone levels to lower an offender's sexual urges. And officials say it is only performed at the request of the prisoners themselves. (See pictures inside a prison.)

But the Council of Europe — whose Committee for the Prevention of Torture investigated the law — says it can only be described as medical intervention if the genitalia are diseased or damaged. "Surgical castration is no longer a generally accepted medical intervention in the treatment of sex-offenders," the Council's report said.
The Czech law has a long pedigree. Castration as a punishment dates back thousands of years, and across all world cultures. The methods have evolved from brutal knife swipes that removed entire genitalia to chemical treatments. Drugs that lower the testosterone, dampen the sex drive and inhibit erections are now available in Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and many U.S. states, but prisoners must volunteer for the treatment before the drugs are administered.
Despite many studies into the effectiveness of castration — both surgical and chemical — the results are inconclusive. Some surveys suggest castration can dramatically reduce recidivism.
One 1989 survey in Germany of 104 voluntary castrates showed a 75% drop in sexual interest, libido, erection, and ejaculation. But measuring such changes is notoriously difficult and often depends on the subjective self-reports of sex offenders. A 1989 Psychological Bulletin study concluded that, "the recidivism rate for treated offenders is not lower than that for untreated offenders; if anything, it tends to be higher." Many other studies emphasize the mental nature of deviant sexual interests, which cannot be cured through surgery. Fred S. Berlin, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, argues that even if most sexual offenders cannot be cured, many can be successfully treated through counseling. "It depends on the availability of adequate community-based resources, in some instances following a period of residential care," he says.
In its report the Council of Europe also criticized the fact that the Czech's often use the punishment on first-time, non-violent offenders, such as exhibitionists. Another issue: the Czech penal system effectively forces many prisoners into accepting the procedure out of fear they will be jailed for life if they do not, according to the Council. "Given the context in which the intervention is offered, it is questionable whether consent to the option of surgical castration will always be truly free and informed," it added. Investigators found five cases of it being performed on legally incapacitated offenders who were not capable of making an informed decision. They found only two convicts who had spontaneously volunteered for castration.

Civil rights groups say any kind of castration, even if reversible, could take society down the road to eugenics. A 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said that involuntary surgical castration constituted cruel and unusual punishment. David Fathi, the head of Human Rights Watch's U.S. Program in Washington says the Czech methods not only defy medical convention, but are an affront to civil liberties. "Any irreversible punishment is a fundamental violation of human rights. And any kind of mutilation is barbaric," he says. Fathi says that rehabilitation of sex offenders is far more effective than castration. "There are no easy answers," he says. "But castration does not work any more than cutting off hands treats kleptomania.",8599,1878462,00.html

Saturday, January 17, 2009

British scribe fights for justice in India

British scribe fights for justice in India
Anchal Vohra
Saturday, January 17, 2009, (New Delhi)
Living with the trauma of rape is very difficult, but to see the attacker roam free is probably the worst kind of violation.A British journalist raped in Udaipur two years ago has been fighting this battle to not let her attacker go free. So after being sentenced for 21 years, when he was given bail, she was back in the country, knocking on the doors of the highest offices. "Hearing that he was released was, if not worse, then almost as bad as when the original attack took place. My life is wrecked by him and his actions and his life is back to normal," said the victim."The Supreme Court set aside that order and said that he did not deserve the concession of bail at all," said the victim's lawyer."I'm just relieved that he is not at large and cannot attack anybody else," said the victim.In India, 20737 rape cases were registered in 2007. The National Crime Bureau report says that's a whopping 734 per cent increase from the cases registered in 1971, a crime that every year shows an upwards trend despite the efforts of government.

Boob jobs
Plans for extra time off for council staff wanting boob jobs
Plans to offer council staff extra time off work if they want boob jobs and liposuction have been blasted.
Chiefs at Tameside Council in Greater Manchester acted after a string of workers asked for time off for "lifechoice procedures".
They say the aim is to stop staff having to use up holiday for "stressful" cosmetic work.
But opposition councillors branded it "an appalling waste of time and money".
Tory group leader John Bell said: "I am opposed to the idea of boob jobs on the rates. Such practices are unheard of in the private sector."

The draft policy will apply to ops such as vasectomies and laser eye treatment as well as cosmetic surgery.
In the past, staff had to take annual leave for such nonessential work if they had no doctor's note.
Now, managers will explore options, including offering unpaid leave, making up time in lieu or buying holiday.

Jealous wife charged with murder after setting fire to husband's genitals
Jealous wife charged with murder after setting fire to husband's genitals
A jealous wife who set her husband's genitals on fire because she suspected him of an affair has been charged with his murder.
Rajini Narayan, 44, confessed to neighbours in Adelaide, Australia, that she carried out the revenge attack last month after she saw him hug another woman.
She was initially charged with endangering life and arson but the charges were upgraded to murder after her 47-year-old husband, Satish , died from his injuries last week.
Prosecutor Lucy Boord told an Australian court that Narayan told neighbours she was a "jealous wife" but she had not meant to kill him when she doused the sleeping man's genitals with an alcohol-based solvent and then set him on fire.
Ms Boord said Narayan admitted: "I just wanted to burn his penis so it belongs to me and no one else ... I didn't mean this to happen."
The husband jumped out of bed and knocked over the bottle of alcohol, causing the fire to spread and resulting in nearly £500,000 damage to their house and an adjacent property.
Narayan was remanded in custody for psychological assessment. She has been charged with murder, arson and three counts of endangering life, as the couple's three children were at home during the incident

Friday, January 9, 2009


by Albert Ashok
Rape is violation of human mind and body. No doubt it’s a crime and who rapes is a criminal, the rapist should be tried in court WITH DUE PUNISHMENT.
The recent Noida rape case and Union Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury’s comment need public attention. My view is from an angle of human being – no female and male gender biased perspective. I want to criticize women and child development minister Renuka Choudhary’s comment on Wednesday that she justifies rape as 'a life sentence for women'. Actually she discourages women by saying so. The feminists and women organizations are trying hard for long to help women stand on their own legs, breaking all old taboos about life and sex. A rape is a life sentence in a woman or girl’s life? Is it a message to cripple woman’s life? Is rape means slaying woman?

Our Indian woman are lagging behind in education, culture and general knowledge. Most woman treat their husband as god and without serving them their meal womenfolk do not touch water, in rural areas woman have many superstitions , prejudices and obsessions about sex and way of life. Once they become widow in their early age they accept tragedy of life but don’t step forward to remarry and live happily. In this situation Ms. Renuka’s remark will cripple the psychology and spirit of living normal. They will not be encouraged to overcome the incident as an accident and revitalize life as before.

Punishment of a crime should be decided by a panel consist of experts and seasoned people with different aspects and views so that a right punishment, fool proof, can be shaped. Its not whimsical and result of one’s sudden emotion.

Its my explanation that if rape punishment is death then it would really be a deterrent for a rapist but it would make more risky to woman’s life. The rapist would kill the woman to wipe the proof. The punishment should be a measure to protect woman first and never punishment of the criminal. The criminal will be punished according the nature of rape. It should be foolproof, so that the law is not abused by any party. In our country woman has tendencies to seduce a richer man and finally marry. And when refused they say it is rape. Many instances are there and news medias record. A gang rape is really can be called rape and heinous crime. But after years of living together with mutual consent it could not be read rape. Another nature of rape is seen in our society—a man who has lot contributions to the society, driven by sudden impulse, under any circumstance may commit rape. If he is given life sentence as a punishment it would be inhuman. Rape is offence. Sometimes it leaves the victim a trauma for her life long term, sometime its not so severe. Human being meet a lot of unfavourable situation since birth. Human being are also accustomed to dodge past and avoid accidents and unfavourable phase of life. A woman is raped it does not mean she is killed. It means she got hit physically or mentally or both. She needs braving the accident and take life as before, rehabilitation. She should never be discouraged that her life has drawn an end. Sex is a little part of procreation and the rest part is excretion, like we leave excreta everyday and everybody. When someone get amputation of limbs for an accident we encourage to overcome and get life normal. I hope the right authorities will come forward and take action to deal the case in right way

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) A meeting was called Wednesday by Women and Child Minister Development Renuka Chowdhury to discuss the law relating to the harassment of women over dowry turned acrimonious after some 50 men and their families barged into the venue, alleging the law was blind to their torture at the hands of women.

The minister faced protest at the India Islamic Cultural Centre.
Neeraj Aggarwal, the executive member of the Gender Human Rights Society, said they had received a number of complaints from elderly couples about how their daughters-in-law had forced them out of their homes. ( This offence is perhaps more than rape)
‘We see men who have been beaten up very badly. As the laws favour the women, they register case against the husband and his entire family. Even those who are not involved are charged and arrested,’
Section 498 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, under which the husband or relative of the husband of a woman subjected to cruelty can be imprisoned for three years and also fined. ‘We want the law to be redrafted so that men are not victimised,’ said society president Sandeep Bhartia.
Indian Law: 498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.--Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
1. Chapter XXA inserted by Act 46 of 1983, s. 2. 212
Explanation.-For the purposes of this section, "cruelty" means- (a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or (b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.]

Meeting with Ms. Renuka Choudhury, WCD

The meeting with WCD minister Ms. Renuka Choudhury, Ms. Kiran Chadda Secretary, Ms Girija Vyas of NCW, Ms. Asmit of Lawyer's Collective, Gauri Choudhury, Ms. Jyotsna etc was a mixed one.
Save Family Foundation Delhi, Pariwarik Suraksha Samity of Praveen Walia, Pati Pariwar Kalyan Samity, Lucknow, Bharat Bhachao Sangathan Kolkata, GHRS, Rakshak, etc were present there.
Initially 1 and 30 min, only UNIFEM people were talking. No one of us was allowed to speak. When Sandeep tried to intervene he was threatened that he would be thrown out. Then we realized that we will not be given any chance to speak. Media was not allowed inside initially.
Then Neeraj, Niladri, Wasif, Komal, Jeetu and plenty of plenty others (about 100 people) started Naarabaji. Then the voice of the shouting reached inside. Renuka came outside to see what was happening.
Some question were put before the minister they were not answered:
Sudhir : Madam, u r the Women and Child Minister. And in India last 3 years, 1,20,000 mothers and sisters have been arrested under 498a without any investigations which even the barbaric British Government has not done. Are u not ashamed of it? Should I address u as wife minister only instead of women minister?
Swarup : If you would want partnership with men’s group, we are ready , but I want justice for 56000 husband who has dies due to suicide.
Swarup : But more than double ladies are killed in Western Country and the same termed as dowry death, where as all other country term the same as Spouse murder. Indian men are different than western man. Further more than 10000 unmarried women also died, why you do not ask to send their parents to behind the bar?
Swarup : Now Madam, choice is with u. Whether as per records a western women earns at least 4 times more than Indian women. Still more than 70% children are father less. If such things continue, Indian also witness the same. It is upto you to decide whether father less child will increase the total crime and domestic violence in society or decease it. Just think yourself and decide.

Times of India - ‘Pro-women laws being misused’
NEW DELHI: Are we being fair on the not -so-fair sex? It would appear not. Laws for protecting women like the anti-dowry legislation and the domestic violence Act were vociferously opposed by men’s groups on Wednesday at a consultation initiated by the ministry for women and child development and UNIFEM.
The burden of their argument was that these laws don’t follow the fundamental legal premise that a person is innocent until he is proven guilty. “In 30% of the cases that come to us, there is a rift between the woman and her in-laws where the woman forces the man to choose between the two under the threat of slapping Section 498A of the Dowry Prohibition Act on the husband and his family,” said Ashish from Save Indian Family (SIF). He added that there should be a deterrent to prevent misuse of the law. Another representative Hemant from SIF said that 1.2 lakh women (women relatives of husbands) were arrested under the anti-dowry Act but the ministry of women and child development minister was not doing anything about it. “Are you a wife development or a woman development minister?” he asked.
Dr Anumapa Singh, who counsels couples, pointed to the anomaly in the domestic violence law in that the aggrieved party could only be a woman while the respondent could only be a male. “We have witnessed violence at home where the perpetrator is a woman. So why does the law hold a man as the accused?” she wanted to know. TOI had reacted to an observation of the Orissa chairperson of the state commission for women on September 19, 2007, when she had said that these laws were being abused. We had felt there should be checks on such abuse and said, “In cases where a complaint is proved false beyond doubt, the accuser must face a jail term.” This would act as a deterrent to the abuse of Sec 498A, we felt.
Faced with vehement opposition, WCD minister Renuka Chowdhury admitted that she was open to change the law. “Law-making is a dynamic process. We are ready to change the law but as of now there will be no amendments to it,” she said.
Reacting to the constant allegations of misuse, Chowdhury said that there were enough deterrents in the penal code to punish those found guilty of misuse.
Read following links for more details ---

send views to this post or

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A MUM gave birth at 70

A MUM who gave birth at 70 showed off her baby girl yesterday and said: “Now I want a boy.”
Farmer’s wife Rajo Devi added: “It’s amazing to finally be a mother. I’ve waited for so long to have a baby of my own.
“The doctors said I was healthier than many women half my age. I’d love to have a boy.”
Rajo, from Haryana, India, gave birth to 3lb 4oz Naveen Lohan by arranged caesarean section on November 28.
She and husband Bala Ram, 72, had been trying for a baby since they married when she was 15 and he was 17.
Rajo said: “We thought it was not meant to be. Every passing year there was less and less chance of becoming parents.”
Bala mortgaged his crop of rice and bamboo for next year and took out high-interest loans to pay for £2,000 IVF treatment.
He said: “It was hard and we made lots of sacrifices, but it’s worth it. Our family and friends are so happy for us.”

War on Nipples

Angelina Jolie breastfeeding

A mother and her child

Facebook's War on Nipples
By Ada Calhoun Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008

The breast-feeding wars have long followed a familiar pattern. A woman gets thrown off a plane for nursing her toddler; she sues Delta. Barbara Walters says sitting next to a breast-feeding woman made her "uncomfortable"; ABC's headquarters get surrounded by 200 women staging a "nurse-in." Maggie Gyllenhaal is photographed nursing her daughter in public; tabloids rush to either praise her as a role model or tell her to throw a blanket over her shoulder.

The sides have been distinct: breast-feeding advocates insist that women should be able to nurse anytime, anyplace, while opponents use words like discretion and discomfort. But the latest battle apparently has nothing to do with the best way to nourish a baby or the boundaries between private and public. It's about the nipples, stupid.,8599,1869128,00.html

Angelina Jolie has been photographed by Brad Pitt as she breastfeeds in a set of intimate portraits for an American fashion magazine.
The actress sits with the top of her blouse pulled down, exposing her breast, which is covered by the tiny fingers of one of her suckling twins.

Ladies, Hop On Jerusalem's Buses

An edict that kept women's portraits --including rockstar Fergie's-- off Jerusalem's buses is now abolished.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 12:06 pm
In her race to become Israel's next prime minister, Tzipi Livni owes a debt to a plucky little party whose name sounds like an alarm clock. “Wake Up, Jerusalemites!” it's called. They fielded six candidates for Tuesday's city council elections. Three of their candidates were women, and so is Livni. So when they went to Egged, the public transportation company, to arrange for ‘Wake Up, Jerusalemite' posters to be plastered on the city buses, they were in for a nasty surprise.
Women's faces can't appear on the sides of Jerusalem's buses, they were told. “It doesn't matter if you're an 80-year old woman or an eight-year old girl,” one company rep explained. “What can I say? It's Iran.”
Iran? Wait a minute. This is Jerusalem, capital of a model democracy, the only one in the Middle East, right?. Not, apparently, when it comes to women. Egged is worried that if a bus were to drive through an ultra-orthodox neighborhood with a woman's face on the side, it would so incense the haredim that they might smash the bus.
When Black-Eyed Peas played in Jerusalem, the bus company photo-shopped Fergie out of the band posters. Boy, was Fergie fuming like an angry minx about this when she came out on stage. Clearly she likes to be on the bus, in the driver's seat.
Time was running out for the youthful party, so they approached an advocacy group, the Israel Religious Action Center, whose lawyer Einat Hurvitz rushed the case to the high court on Nov. 8, three days before the vote. Next morning, the judge heard the case and scolded Egged's behavior as “shameful'. Wake Up, Jerusalemites rushed out and plastered their posters on as many buses as they could find, and a sympathetic Israeli press covered the event, giving them more P.R. then they could ever have dreamed of. Two of the women on their ticket were actually elected. They'll have their work cut out for them: most of their fellow councilmen are black-hatted and bearded members of the ultra-orthodox parties.
How does this effect Livni, who is a stratosphere higher, politically? It means that campaign posters with her face can now grace Jerusalem's wildly careening buses.
By Tim McGirk/Jerusalem

Woman Burned to Death for Practicing Witchcraft

Report: Woman Burned to Death for Practicing Witchcraft
Wednesday, January 07, 2009,2933,477444,00.html
A young Papua New Guinea woman was burned to death in what authorities fear is the latest witchcraft killing in the remote and lawless interior of the country.
The woman, believed to be between 16 and 20 years old, was stripped naked, gagged and tied to a truck loaded with firewood — which was driven to a town dump and doused with gasoline — before being set aflame, according to witnesses who saw the act near Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands.
"The girl was stripped naked and could not shout for assistance or resist as she was tightly strapped and her mouth gagged," Jessie James, a man who saw the girl's death, told the local Post Courier Mail.
"I don't know the right words to describe it but it's barbaric. Can you find the best words to describe such acts that are rampant here?" said Highlands police chief Simon Kauba.
PNG police believe the girl was either accused of being a witch or that she had been blamed for infecting one of her killers with HIV/Aids, both of which are punished by the death penalty by the jungle justice practiced by the indigenous communities of the Highlands.
read more

Polygamous Leader Married 20 Women

Polygamous Leader Arrested in Canada, Married 20 Women
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Two top leaders of a polygamous community in western Canada have been arrested and charged with practicing polygamy, British Columbia's attorney general said Wednesday.
Attorney General Wally Oppal said Winston Blackmore is charged with marrying 20 women, while James Oler is accused of marrying two women.
"This has been a very complex issue," Oppal said. "It's been with us for well over 20 years."
Blackmore, long known as "the Bishop of Bountiful," runs an independent sect of about 400 members in the town of Bountiful. He once ran the Canadian arm of the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but was ejected in 2003 by that group's leader, Warren Jeffs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Girls in Zimbabwe

Betty Makoni
Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Girls in Zimbabwe grow up in a country racked by HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty, and one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. A ten-year economic recession with inflation at 1000 percent robbed an entire generation of education and health care. The pervasive belief that sleeping with a virgin or daughter will cure a man of HIV/AIDS has made sexual violence an everyday reality.

Betty Makoni is a renowned activist, director and founder of the Girl-Child Network. Founded in 1998, GCN is a girls' rights organization with a membership of 20,000 girls across Zimbabwe. GCN presents a unique model of girls clubs and villages that support the empowerment of girls in the home, school and community. GCN supports the eradication of all forms of abuse that impede the full physical, emotional and spiritual growth and development of girls. The organization uses a human rights based approach to address gender inequalities in education and in all social, political and economic spheres of life.
In April, 2007, The World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, in a vote of 5.2 million children all over the world, selected Betty Makoni as the recipient of this year's Global Friend's Award. She becomes the first-ever Zimbabwean to win the prize, the "Nobel" of children's rights. Betty Makoni received the prize because she, after being abused as a child herself, empowers girls to demand their rights. She supports those who are exposed to abuse and protects others from assault, forced marriage, trafficking and sexual abuse.
The Global Fund for Women gave GCN its first grant of $8,000 in November of 1999. During our 8 year partnership, the GCN has received a total of $85,000 in grants from the Global Fund for Women.

The Girl-child :Information, education and communication

Critical Area 12: The Girl-child
The girl-child is discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through her childhood and into adulthood. In some areas of the world, men outnumber women by 5 in every 100. The reasons for this discrepancy include harmful attitudes and practices, such as female genital mutilation, son preference . . . early marriage ...violence against women, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, discrimination against girls in food allocation and other practices related to health and well-being. As a result, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood.
--Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 259

The unequal burden of being female begins at birth and continues throughout childhood. The unequal burden of being female begins at birth and continues throughout childhood. In order to help girl children survive and reach their full potential, the Beijing Platform for Action recommended that governments, agencies and the private sector:
Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child;
Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls;
Promote and protect the rights of the girl-child and increase awareness of her needs and potential;
Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training;
Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition; Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect girls at work;
Eradicate violence against the girl-child;
Promote the girl-child's awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life;
Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of the girl-child.
Young women and men face many health risks, yet they receive inadequate information, guidance and services to help them to go safely through adolescence to adulthood. This is especially the case for their reproductive and sexual health. Adolescents do have sexual relations (in many cases voluntarily, but also as a result of abuse) and need the information and services to protect their health.
Addressing the Needs of Adolescents
UNFPA supports many initiatives that seek to meet the needs of adolescents and pays particular attention to the difficult position of girls. Information, education and communication activities show adolescents, parents, teachers, local leaders and other relevant groups the importance of girls' education. The negative effects of early marriage and childbirth and harmful traditional practices such as FGM are also targeted. Advocacy for policy and legal reforms is supported where necessary, as well as the provision of reproductive and health services.UNFPA has found that life-skills training for girls is very beneficial. The Fund also has programmes in various countries that aim to prevent teenage pregnancy and to keep girls in school if they do get pregnant.An example comes from Nicaragua, the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Central America. UNFPA has supported the development of a programme focusing solely on adolescent reproductive health. Support is provided to the Ministry of Health for the only clinic in the country specialized in offering reproductive health services to youth. The programme has a strong information, education and communication component, which focuses on reaching youth in rural populations through mobile clinics and theatre groups.In South Africa, young women are given the opportunity to start earning an income and/or to continue their education. Through training and with peer educators as role models, they share experiences and learn about leadership, assertiveness, communication, decision-making, goal-setting and conflict resolution. Learning about their reproductive and sexual health and getting the services they need are also important elements.
Empowering Adolescents
Recognizing the importance of socialization in gender issues, gender-sensitive family life education for young people is supported in many countries. At the interregional level, research is being conducted regarding the social behaviour of adolescent boys and the expectations, attitudes and behaviour of men and their effects on male-female decision-making about sexuality and reproduction.In Egypt, a Youth Leadership project helps local NGOs implement youth projects that answer the needs of youth for clear and practical information on reproductive health. It has also provided culturally based gender-sensitive guidance to prepare them for parenthood. Young women and their needs are the principal focus. A training manual was developed by the young people who participated in the project. The programme also offers special reproductive health services for adolescents.In Sri Lanka, a special effort is being made to eliminate sexual abuse and exploitation, especially of young girls. The project sponsored seminars and workshops for adolescents and their parents to discuss reproductive health issues. A counselling programme was introduced in a medical clinic where women and girls received reproductive health information. In addition, the project helped the police detect cases of child abuse and bring the offenders to justice. Policewomen were trained on how to counsel traumatized children. Volunteers worked with the local police on child-abuse issues, and special Child Abuse Desks were set up at all police stations with trained staff. Through legal advocacy, a law was passed prohibiting child abuse.
THE WAY FORWARD: The rights and health of girls, from a very young age, are at risk everywhere around the world. UNFPA will continue to support their access to reproductive and sexual health services and information, skills-building and other types of education and training, and scrupulously fight for the protection of their rights. Adolescents should be supported, nurtured, informed and given the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, safely and responsibly.

Gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women

Source :
Advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women's ability to control their own fertility, are cornerstones of population and development programmes.The human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life, at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, are priority objectives of the international community.
--Programme of Action, International Conference on Population and Development, Principle 4
Two major world conferences in the 1990s--the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994 and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995--revolutionized the international standards for the rights and health of the world's women.The ICPD put family planning, reproductive and sexual health care and women's empowerment squarely in the context of development, and underlined their critical importance to any social and economic progress. The Beijing conference went further, forging international commitments to promoting equality, development and peace for and with all the women of the world.Both international agreements stressed that equality between women and men is a human rights concern, and that empowering women ensures the development of a sustainable and equitable society--no society can reach this goal without taking both women's productive and reproductive roles into account. Both aimed to ensure that policies and programmes at all levels incorporate a gender perspective and address women's lives and their needs.The Beijing Platform for Action and the ICPD Programme of Action incorporate new and related objectives, drawn from practical experience, for addressing women's needs and rights in a holistic and integrated way. These include:
Securing women's human rights;
Ensuring male involvement and responsibility in reproductive health;
Providing quality services;
Taking a life-cycle approach to women’s health;
Attending to adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs;
Preventing and treating HIV/AIDS;
Eliminating all forms of violence against women, including damaging cultural practices such as female genital mutilation.
Both documents also emphasized the rights of women migrants and refugees.Women's human rights were a key issue at the 1999 United Nations General Assembly special session reviewing implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (New York, 30 June-2 July). The "ICPD + 5" review showed that while significant gains have been made, women's reproductive rights and sexual health are still under threat in many ways. A similar review of progress since the Beijing conference is under way in 2000.As the lead United Nations agency for implementing the ICPD Programme of Action, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) plays a critical role in carrying out the mandates of Cairo and Beijing. UNFPA, the largest internationally funded source of population assistance to developing countries, helps developing countries improve their reproductive health and family planning services on the basis of individual choice. The Fund also helps countries formulate population policies that will support sustainable economic development.The Beijing Platform identified "12 critical areas" of action needed to empower women and ensure their human rights: women and poverty; education and training of women; women and health; violence against women; women and armed conflict; women and the economy; women in power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; human rights of women; women and the media; women and the environment; and the girl-child.These areas are often interrelated, but spelling them out keeps each in the forefront of policy and programme considerations. UNFPA supports programmes and projects that cut across all areas, emphasizing the links between gender, population and development. Recognizing that poverty and economic crises have put a particularly heavy burden on women and girls, UNFPA has combined reproductive and sexual health services and information with micro-financing activities for women in many countries.At the same time, the Fund has learned that investing in women means removing all barriers that prevent women from realizing–or even exploring–their full potential as vital and valuable members of society. Education and training are essential.By allocating 60 per cent of its support in the area of reproductive and sexual health, the Fund has helped increase access to reproductive health and family planning services in many countries. It has fought the wildfire of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, focusing on women’s and girls’ vulnerability to this disease. UNFPA helps provide services and information to adolescent boys and girls (with special attention to the needs of girls) and emphasizes the need for men’s positive involvement in improving the status of women.UNFPA is a strong advocate for breaking the silence about the widespread violence against women. Several UNFPA-supported activities advocate the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful traditional practices. The Fund also plays an important role in providing reproductive and sexual health services and information to populations living in emergency situations.As an advocate for the equal participation of women and men at all decision-making levels, UNFPA has supported both governmental and non-governmental institutions in taking steps to bring about this change. The important role that the media can play as a catalyst for change has been aided through UNFPA-funded activities in many countries.This report highlights what UNFPA has done–and is doing–to support governments and civil society in each of the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action. All UNFPA activities are built on the premise that women's rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable human rights that must be protected and promoted. Only by supporting and advocating for women's full empowerment at all stages of their lives can gender equality be achieved.

Violence against Women : Female Genital Mutilation

Source :
Critical Area : Violence against Women
In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture…. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
--Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 112
Violence against women is increasingly recognized by the international community as a violation of their rights as human beings. Accordingly, the Beijing Platform for Action urges:
Taking integrated measures to prevent violence against women;
Studying the causes and consequences of violence against women and the effectiveness of preventive measures;
Eliminating trafficking in women and assisting victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking.
Violence against women exists in allsocio-economic groups throughout the world.
Wome's lives and potential continue to be endangered by violence that is directed at them simply because they are women. Violence against women exists across all socio-economic groups throughout the world, and includes a wide range of violations of women's human rights, such as trafficking in women and girls, rape, wife abuse, sexual abuse of children, and harmful practices and traditions that irreparably damage girls' and women's reproductive and sexual health.Gender-based violence is a major health and human rights concern. In close partnership with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities, UNFPA therefore supports legal services, shelters and care for women who have been abused. Advocacy for law and policy reform is backed up by information, education and communication on equality issues and on violence against women. Counselling, reproductive health services and life-skills building activities are provided to victims of violence.
Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation
UNFPA addresses the practice of FGM not only because of its harmful impact on the reproductive and sexual health of women, but also because it is a violation of women's fundamental human rights. In countries where the practice is prevalent, activities for the eradication of FGM are integrated into the core areas of UNFPA's mandate.
Information, education and communication on FGM targets parents, teachers and community leaders. Support is equally provided for advocacy, policy and legal reforms and the provision of reproductive and sexual health care.Starting in 1995, members of the Sabiny Elder's Association and clan leaders in Uganda's Kapchorwa district were sensitized on the harmful effects of FGM by the national NGO Reproductive, Educative and Community Health Programme (REACH).
The programme offers information, education and communication activities that address policy makers, health professionals, parents and adolescents. It stresses that practices can change without compromising cultural values. It promotes ceremonies that mark the passage into adulthood with dancing and symbolic gift giving, but without the actual cutting.The Sabiny Elders were the ones who proposed replacing the practice with symbolic gift-giving and other festivities. They were also the ones who told members of their community of the harmful effects of FGM. Between 1994 and 1996, FGM declined by 36 per cent. Currently, this innovative and culturally sensitive approach is being replicated in other countries, such as Mali.

Another initiative, in Sudan, uses groups of volunteers who work within their own communities to raise awareness about FGM. These "Circles of Friends" talk with their community members on various reproductive health issues, especially all forms of harmful traditional practices. The volunteers in the Circles of Friends come from within the community itself. They are therefore well aware of the cultural setting, the existing norms and attitudes, and are thus the most acceptable and credible persons to disseminate reproductive health information, especially when it pertains to sensitive issues such as FGM.
Breaking the Silence
Gender-based violence exists in a culture of silence and denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse at every level of society. Through its programmes UNFPA puts every effort into breaking this silence and ensuring that the voices of women are heard.For instance, UNFPA participated in advocacy campaigns in Latin America and Africa for the eradication of violence against women and girls.
UNFPA joined governments, women's groups, NGOs, universities, medical professionals, students, the media, police and religious groups under the motto: "A life without violence is our right". Specific strategies included: working with the media, mobilizing political commitment, improving awareness of rights and laws, analysing gender violence, passing and enforcing laws, and training defence and security personnel.
In Morocco, a research project with the Ministry of Justice seeks to determine the incidence of domestic violence and to identify underlying trends in order to identify the most vulnerable groups. A pilot system has been set up to process claims of women who are victims of violence and to analyse their conditions. Project results will be used to sensitize decision-makers, magistrates, judges, the police, health professionals, researchers, etc., for the purpose of concerted action to combat violence against women through a community response and referral system.

In Kenya, innovative male sensitization workshops on gender-based violence were held for police officers, chiefs and assistant chiefs. For community-wide awareness, dramas were played in marketplaces. Assistance was given to the "African Court of Women", a mock tribunal where women from several African countries recounted their stories of various forms of physical and mental abuse. With UNFPA support, well-known newspaper cartoonists made a comic book on gender issues, particularly on violence against women.

THE WAY FORWARD:Violence against women remains widespread throughout the world. UNFPA continues to bring gender-based violence to the forefront as a major health and human rights concern. Women’s voices must be heard, and UNFPA puts every effort into enabling women to speak out and get the support they need.

GFW News :A trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda

GFW NEWSNovember 7, 2008 Report Back From The DRC And Uganda: Uninspired Leadership and Undignified CitizenshipIn September 2008, Muadi Mukenge, Global Fund's Regional Director of the Africa region, went on an outreach trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Read her account of the trip, where she shares her chilling insights on the ongoing crises in these two countries. Since this report, conflicts in easetrn Congo have accelerated in the last week.

Uninspired Leadership and Undignified Citizenship
By Muadi Mukenge, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa
The title above describes my emotions after a September 2008 visit to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I wish I could be more upbeat, but when citizenship means barely eating a meal, not having clean toilets, not having access to justice for violence and rape, not having prospects of making an income for more than five years, not seeing roads built for decades, dying from preventable conditions, and seeing children sexually preyed upon by adults – it’s time to say that citizenship is undignified. With few exceptions, it’s discouraging to see the same face of Africa year after year.
I return with a sense of intense urgency that those of us in the Diaspora and in the human rights movement have a duty to do even more than we are doing now to improve the living standards in Africa and support the activists on the ground working for justice and social transformation. It is a sense of urgency because there is a huge chasm between the potential of the continent, and the reality. The reality is a struggle for a daily meal, women still carrying humongous piles of wood for miles on their heads, a rate of inflation
where the price of commodities doubles in the span of two or three months, children poorly clothed and mostly out of school, a large population eking out an existence from petty trading and the desperate hope of minerals from the soil. The reality is an infrastructure of extreme modesty, an abandoned agricultural sector, and a lack of roads.
There are many moments that make you speechless. Change is painstakingly slow. It’s 2008 – some African nations are planning to celebrate 50 years since ending colonial rule. In order to celebrate we have to hold the continent to task and exercise better leadership and call for passionate and purposeful leadership.
I went to Uganda to attend the 2nd Regional African Feminist Forum, which brought together over 150 activists from over 30 countries to discuss Africa’s socio-economic and political context and their impact on women’s rights. It was an opportunity to reflect on new strategies to organize against formidable forces that degrade women’s personhood and which have reversed some gains of the last 10 years. As a country that is among the top three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have received funding from the Global Fund for Women and which is also a key recipient of development aid from the U.S.,
visiting after a six-year absence allowed some observations as well as visits with select
GFW grantees and time for in-depth discussions with our Advisors.
The DRC trip was part of a joint mission headed by Open Society Institute Southern
Africa. Global Fund for Women was invited along with the African Women’s
Development Fund and 3 women’s rights networks from Zimbabwe, Guinea and
Swaziland on a joint mission to DRC Sept. 21-Oct. 2 to learn about challenges facing the women’s rights movement as well as key efforts that have been put in place to date in two regions of the country -- Kinshasa and Kasai Orientale Province – to improve the status of women and girls. The trip included meetings with multiple actors such as NGOs, government officials, women in Parliament, UN agencies, and health and educational institutions. We spent six days in each city. Kasai was selected as the 2nd site due to the presence of prominent mining activities, the history of military occupation during DRC’s
war, and the current crisis of sex trafficking that is prevalent around the mines. It is a portion of the country I had not visited before.
I can point to several highlights of both the Uganda and Congo visits. The Feminist Forum took a sobering look at the continent’s state of “uninspired leadership” and “undignified citizenship.” We discussed external forces, but the internal ones as well, the dynamics of the women’s movement that have limited our progress and our effectiveness.
On the external front, why are we seeing the political gains of the 90s shattered by compromised democratic structures across the continent? Why are we seeing legislation that exists on paper only? Why are we seeing a level of poverty and hunger that is unmatched in the world? And why are weapons causing unspeakable levels of mortality as well as intimidation of civilian populations held hostage by armed bandits? How can we advance a feminist movement when the world and our continent do not show evidence of believing in human rights? The discussions were provocative, several GFW Advisors and grantees also attended, and there was more diverse participation with regard
to age, language and geography. Convenings such as these are important to feed into GFW’s thinking as we shape our grant-making priorities.
Despite Uganda’s favored status as beneficiary of development aid, the reality shows us that most development is limited to the capital city and the reality for communities outside remains dire. I had many opportunities to visit provinces far from the capital and also to hold conversations with a range of women. Some activists say it is difficult to talk of a cohesive national women’s movement. The most visible “movement” is urban-based, and some say the past decade was more characterized by personal agendas instead of a concern for the masses of women. The most talented in the movement are snatched up by
international NGOs and local NGOs struggle to strengthen their human resources. In its current form, the women’s movement has faced decades of opposition to the Domestic Relations Bill, which has attempted to usher in a set of social, economic and political rights for women. This year, the Bill suffered another setback as lawmakers decided to draft two separate bills – one for Christian women and one for Muslim women. This splits the energies of the women’s movement and relegates a portion of the population to
discriminatory laws that are upheld in the name of respect of culture and religion. While in Uganda I also visited a long-time grantee which in 2002 received a GFW Partnership grant in celebration of GFW’s 15th Anniversary. These grants were intended to foster regranting locally and movement-building. The group, Ntulume Village Women’s Development Association, is 21 years old, same as GFW, and it was encouraging to see them doing well. Not only is it doing re-granting, it has broad national reach, and combines rights advocacy with economic empowerment and leadership development.
It was a pleasure to be part of the OSISA delegation to DRC given that the level of donor support in Francophone Africa is negligible when compared to Anglophone Africa. The reality in Central Africa is even more dire when compounded by government neglect and armed conflict. OSISA is interested in strengthening its DRC program, and GFW has solid partnerships there, and together with the other members of the delegation, we aimed
to strategize on how to collaborate on an initiative to deepen our support to the women’s movement. We started our days at 8 am and often returned 10 or 12 hours later. In both Kinshasa and Kasai we held a joint meeting with 30 women’s rights groups. We met ministers and members of Parliament and we made site visits in order to appreciate community-led responses to rights violations as well as basic human deprivation. Media sought us out for interviews. I gave two interviews. The non-Congolese in our delegation
learned a lot and were able to go away with a comparative view of socio-economic challenges facing DRC vis-à-vis their own country.
Some efforts undertaken by women MPs in Congo include drafting a work-plan that
prioritizes HIV prevention, Sexual Violence and Gender Parity; increasing awareness
among women elected officials of the national budget process and legislative procedures;
working with male allies in Parliament as well as in the community; passing legislation
on the rights of persons living with AIDS; and promoting women’s participation in local
elections, especially by expanding their literacy. The Minister of Gender is very well
spoken, and she decried the lack of a budget to implement the National Gender Policy.
As you know there have been numerous demonstrations throughout DRC against the UN
Mission and their apparent inaction in the face of mass atrocities committed against
Congolese people. There was a large demonstration the day before we arrived in Kasai
and also during the time we were there. State and UN police were always visible in the
town center. We learned that the rate of sexual violence in Kasai Orientale is the third
highest after North and South Kivu. We had the chance to meet with the UN in Kinshasa
and it was a sobering visit – one wonders when will we see bold action to protect
Congolese people, especially women? It must be highlighted that there is great popular
disaffection with the performance of the government as well. The high expectations of
the historic 2006 elections have waned and people are struggling to make it day to day.
Impunity continues unabated and the war is on the verge of resuming as arms
proliferation grows.
The most compelling person we met at the UN was the Officer in Charge at UNIFEM in
Kinshasa, who spoke passionately and knowledgeably about the social and political
context and cultural perceptions of women’s abilities and violence against women. “All
UN agencies need to work on women’s rights, not just the Gender Unit,” he said. Imagine
a country of 66 million where the budget for women’s rights initiatives is about
$300,000. It is also telling that most of the UN’s work is on humanitarian support – this
puts a bandaid on problems that have serious and complex causes.
In Mbuji-Mayi (the capital of Kasai Orientale), and Kinshasa we met women’s rights
NGOs to present the missions of each of our institutions and to give advice on how these
networks could best position themselves to secure financial support for human rights
activities. The groups address a range of concerns, including civic education, formal
education, economic empowerment, ending discriminatory inheritance practices and
sexual violence, provision of safe drinking water, and legal assistance. They are small
groups run primarily by volunteers. They told us about their challenges, but at the end
presented us with a joint proposal. As donors we spoke candidly about the pitfalls of
NGO competition, lack of transparency, and the need for integrated approaches that seek
systemic social change.
We visited l’Hopital Muya, which is a state-run facility that has specialized services for
victims of sexual violence. With a grant from UNFPA, they are able to provide
comprehensive services including exam, antibiotics, emergency contraception, postexposure
prophylaxis, counseling, fistula surgery, etc., all for free. Their services are lifesaving,
but it’s like a band-aid approach given that impunity for rape is the norm
throughout Congo. 10 percent of the hospital’s patients are under 10 years old. The visit
was quite informative and sobering. The older clients forego legal support after medical
care, afraid to challenge their perpetrators and lacking support from their families as well
as the monetary means to pay legal fees. Save the Children currently takes on only five
victims per month for legal support. It is ironic that the hospital refers the most extreme
cases to UNFPA and MONUC with the hope to attain justice – not to state agencies.
The Congolese government passed a law punishing sexual violence in June 2006. The
law is extremely far-reaching; it’s more progressive than laws that exist in countries such
as Kenya and Ghana. It punishes sexual harassment, early marriage, rape, child abuse,
rape via military order, marital rape, etc. Under this law, an officer who orders his
soldiers to rape is himself prosecuted. Under this law, teachers who prey on female
students should be put in jail. Rapists should be in jail. But our visit showed us again that
law in Congo means nothing. While it’s talked about on TV and on posters everywhere, it
is not enforced. The prevalence of rape is increasing, not decreasing. Elected officials and
the UN say the right words, but enforcement is still not happening. If you have money to
give the police and court officials, the case against a rapist will be dropped. Furthermore,
families are so poor that they accept an “informal agreement” to receive financial
compensation from the perpetrator instead of taking a rape case to court. So the law exists
on paper only. One of our OSISA colleagues visited the Mbuji-Mayi prison and those he
found there were being charged with not honoring a $20 debt or with abandoning a
marriage after a husband had been absent for five years. But rapists are free to walk
around the streets.
I must add that when we first arrived in Mbuji-Mayi we were received by the Executive
Committee of the Provincial Assembly. They shared with us that that week they were
introducing in the provincial Parliament legislation to criminalize pornographic film
houses and sexual abuse of minors at the mines. Both are very important issues and both
have become rampant in Kasai. But can we not extend punishment to rape of anyone of
any age? The challenge remains for Congo to respect personal dignity.
I continue with what we witnessed at the mines on the outskirts of Mbuji-Mayi on
another day. It took us almost 2 hours to reach the mining sites. After winding along red,
dirt roads (not really roads, just where space for cars had been artificially created), past
farms, and still driving further along until there was nothing along the side except lots of
grass – after all of that, after passing facilities owned by the government’s failing mining
company, after passing huge caverns that were former industrial mining sites that are now
abandoned, after passing lines of people making the long trek to where they would try
their luck to dig for diamonds by hand, we finally stopped in an open field. We were
tired, but this was not the end of our journey. Now we walked, for another 45 minutes,
under punishing heat, to reach the area where artisanal mining takes place. So imagine
rows of very small wooden structures that double as diamond selling counters and
people’s homes and fast-food eateries, very densely packed together -- we pass that, to
now start walking through the swamps, hilly areas, bushy areas, rocky areas, more
swamps. We see smaller caverns (V-shape), earth piled on the sides and water at the
bottom. People are digging by hand through the silt water and working to find some
speckle of hope in a diamond that is the exception rather than the norm. It’s sad. Women
do most of the digging then the sifting is left to the men to find the nuggets to sell. We
talked to people there. The girls selling food there make about 20 cents a day. Here at the
mines sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors is rampant. There are terms to refer to
girls ages 6-8 and then those 9-15. Someone can make an order as easily as we order
from McDonald’s here. So why is there money to pay for sex with minors and there’s no
money to pay school fees, mechanize agriculture or create industries that can employ
people? And can we hope that the new law on child abuse will actually reverse what we
see today? The Provincial Assembly must not just pass a law, they must enforce it and
people must be able to see that enforcement.
We also visited a refugee community where both OSISA and Congolese in the Diaspora
are working. The area, just like most of Mbuji-Mayi, is undeveloped. OSISA has built a
school and extended a community clinic with a patient ward. The Diaspora group has
built a clinic on the far southern side of the community. Then we drive further to visit the
nuns that are taking care of refugee orphans. We see the dormitory where the orphans
sleep. It’s small and crowded -- we must keep in mind that the nuns have received no
grants, no government support. They have a field where they grow vegetables that are
sold for profit. This profit was used to build a very modest school that when you look at it
you can’t even call it a school. It’s made with mud by hand, with a dirt floor, the ceiling
not taller than 5 feet and the room holds about 8 rows of old benches. Again, this was a
moment that made us all speechless. Maybe in January the orphans can study in the new
OSISA school. The clinic built by the diaspora group is nice and perhaps the size of your
small town health center. Construction debris needs to be cleared away but it is ready for
electricity via a generator or via solar panels. With the two clinics functioning people still
have to walk 45 min to an hour to reach health care. This is life-saving, because now
people are dying from the slightest ailments. The government is not doing anything about
The context for human rights work in Congo is daunting. Weak state structures, lack of a
road and communication infrastructure, lack of public services, discriminatory cultural
norms, and lack of employment opportunities – all these realities weigh to make social
change an uphill task. Despite its mineral wealth, Congo is way behind the rest of the
continent. The state university in Kasai Province is housed in a former elementary
Key impressions of the DRC trip include:
1) the lack of political will to make timely and radical changes to promote good
governance or to advance women’s rights; 2) a disconnect between UN agencies with a
mandate to address sexual violence and the work of the broader women’s movement; 3)
lack of coordination between women’s NGOs; 4) a judiciary that is weak and unfriendly
to women’s rights; 5) and acute poverty that reduces life to day-to-day existence in the
face of tremendous mineral resources that benefit foreign interests and a minute circle of
Congolese. It is also apparent that the general population is dismayed with the UN’s
inaction to protect civilians from aggressions of rebel groups in the eastern part of the
When I think of the women and girls who told us their horrifying tales of sexual torture, I
keep thinking of the modern weapons that make this torture possible, and the origins of
these weapons. They are not made in Congo.
As much deprivation as I saw, there is a lot of potential in DRC and Uganda. The people
want change. That’s a big plus. And there are many activists that are seeking partnerships
to advance women’s human rights. There’s an opportunity for us to build on the work of
local activist organizations and work towards a world of Inspired Leadership and
Dignified Citizenship.
Global Fund Office Move: Our New Address October 8, 2008
We are moving our office to downtown San Francisco.
Our new address effective Tuesday, October 14th is:
222 Sutter Street, Suite 500San Francisco, CA 94108
Ph: 415-248-4800 Fax: 415-248-4801

Kosova Women's Network Appeals for Country's Sovereignty

Kosova Women's Network Appeals for Country's Sovereignty
Even though the United Nations recognized Kosova's independence in February this year, it continues to make deals with Serbian government to maintain control over the Kosova territories, where majority of the Serbs reside. The situation continues to be complicated as the Serbian government claims it needs to provide security to Serbs living in Kosova, and Albanian Kosovars claim not making lives of Serbs difficult within an independent Kovosa. Read an urgent letter of appeal by the Kosova Women's Network's leader and anti-war activist Igballe Rogova who is also an advisor to the Global Fund.

Read Letter November 16, 2008
Dear Friends and Supporters:
I am writing on behalf of the Kosova Women’s Network (KWN) to
request your support. You may be aware that UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon in consultation with the Government of Serbia has put forth
six points that would give Serbia broad administrative powers over Serb
majority areas within the Republic of Kosovo, including police, judiciary,
transportation and infrastructure, boundaries, customs and religious sites.
The six points threaten Kosovo’s territorial sovereignty, violate the
Constitution of Kosovo, conflict with the Comprehensive Proposal for the
Kosovo Status Settlement proposed by UN Special Envoy Martti
Ahtisaari, and jeopardize the fragile peace that has been secured in
Kosovo and South East Europe. Further, Serb citizens living in enclaves in
Kosovo have indicated their opposition to increased Serbian governmental
Since the democratically elected National Assembly declared Kosovo’s
independence on 17 February 2008, Kosovo has been recognized by 52
UN member states, including 22 European Union members. Kosovo has
also been recognized by all bordering states except Serbia, including
Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. In accordance with Article 1.1 of
our Constitution, “The Republic of Kosovo is an independent, sovereign,
democratic, unique and indivisible state.”
The Constitution of Kosovo protects the rights of all citizens, including
Serb citizens, rendering Serbian governance unnecessary as well as
illegal. The Constitution guarantees Serb representation in the Assembly
of the Republic of Kosovo (Art. 63.2(1)), seats as Ministers and Deputy
Ministers (Art. 96), access to media in the Serb language (Art. 59(11)),
representation on the Kosovo Judicial Council (Art. 108.6(3)) and national
language rights (Art. 59(11)). Efforts have been made to include Serb
citizens in public institutions, such as the police force.
Thousands of Kosovar citizens plan to march through Prishtina starting at
noon on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 to oppose the six points. Citizens
will emphasize the illegality of the proposed Serb Government
administration through their motto, “Sovereignty comes from people.” The
motto echoes Article 2.1 of the Constitution of Kosovo, which states,
“The sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo stems from the people,
belongs to the people and is exercised in compliance with the
Constitution…” KWN, as a member of the organizing committee together
with 20 other organizations, fully supports citizens in this effort, agreeing
that any political decision concerning Kosovo should be made by citizens
rather than imposed by outside international bodies.
We request your full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Kosovo. Please join our efforts and the present efforts of the citizens of
Kosovo in whatever capacity you can, through advocacy or informationsharing,
to oppose any agreement that would give Serbia administrative
power over any part of our country. We hope you will join us in calling
for international pressure for Serbia to accept the independence and
sovereignty of Kosovo, the Kosovo Status Settlement proposed by UN
Special Envoy Ahtisaari, and deployment of the European Union Rule of
Law Mission (“EULEX”) in northern Kosovo. Such recognition as well
as retribution for crimes committed against the citizens of Kosovo in 1998
and 1999 should be a precondition for Serbia’s European Union
We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.
Igballe Rogova
Executive Director, Kosova Women’s Network

Neither violence against women nor poverty are inevitable

25 November 2008
Irene Khan, Amnesty International writes about the links between violence against women and poverty to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
As women around the world come together to celebrate the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, violence against women remains endemic in many forms, in all societies. Just last month, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death by a group of 50 men in Somalia. The thirteen year-old was accused of adultery, though according to her father she was raped and had tried to report it. None of those accused of her rape nor murder have been arrested.
Violence against women and girls is a priority concern for Amnesty International and in 2004 a global campaign to Stop Violence against Women was launched. So far the campaign has contributed to successes that have brought a number of legislative and policy changes at national levels, as well as supported efforts in the international arena for the adoption of Resolutions 1325 and 1820 by the United Nations Security Council. These resolutions on Women Peace and Security aim to ensure women's equal participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding and to increase the human rights protection of women and girls in conflict situations.Despite these advances, violence against women and girls remains widespread across the globe. Recent research in Afghanistan, Armenia, Canada, Cote D'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jamaica, Haiti, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Venezuela, and the USA has shown that this violence is not only a human rights violation but also a key factor in obstructing the realization of women's and girls' rights to security, adequate housing, health, food, education and participation. Millions of women find themselves locked in cycles of poverty and violence, cycles which fuel and perpetuate one another.Poverty is characterised by the daily experience of human rights abuses that lead people into deprivation, insecurity, exclusion and voicelessness. Poverty is an affront to human dignity and the worst human rights crisis in the world. It exists in all countries and affects women disproportionately – 70% of the world’s poor are women. Neither violence against women nor poverty are inevitable, though they combine to restrict women’s choices and put women at risk from violence. While all girls have the right to education, which is vital in allowing them to choose their futures, this right is often curtailed by violence and poverty. In countries such as Haiti, girls may have little choice but to grant sexual favours in order that they can pay their school fees. Others who go in search of a public place with lighting by which to do their homework because their home has no electricity, are attacked by groups of men. As a result of the abuse, it is likely that girls' education will be disrupted or discontinued. Violence against women is a human rights abuse for which states are responsible. Amnesty International will continue to demand accountability from both national and international actors for these violations. It will continue to call upon states and the international community to ensure equal access to rights and services for women and girls. This includes systemically incorporating the analysis of the impact on the enjoyment of women and girls' human rights into all strategies, programs and reporting related to poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This must also include progress made in the elimination of gender-based violence. Human rights violations cannot be stopped, poverty ended, nor development achieved without the active participation of the people affected by these abuses, in particular women and girls.