Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Statistics show 30 million girls are at risk of FGM in the next decade, and, each year, about 14 milliongirls are forced to marry before they are ready. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN convention on the rights of the child should prevent such injustices, yet girls' basic rights to health, education and security remain unmet. As young feminists, we know that patriarchy perpetuates the idea that girls are of less value, which leads to their systematic neglect in economic, political, social, legal and educational realms.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Known as the “women’s treaty,” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women—CEDAW—was signed by the United States 34 years ago today. The United Nations had adopted the treaty, pledging to give women equal rights in all aspects of their lives, on December 18, 1979, and at a special ceremony during the Copenhagen Conference the U.S. and 63 other countries signed on.
But that was only part of the process necessary for putting CEDAW into action. Countries also need to ratify the treaty—and 34 years later, the U.S. still hasn’t. That puts this country in what could hardly be called good company, with Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Palau and Tonga. Hardly a roll call of great democracies and world leaders. Meanwhile, 188 other countries and regions haveratified the treaty.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
"The European Court of Human Rights declared Wednesday that countries can legally require transgender citizens to get divorced before issuing updated identification documents, lest the spouses become a legally recognized same-sex couple, reports U.K. LGBT sitePinkNews."
“They can be cured simply by dressing as a man again," said Negeri Sembilan state legal adviser Iskandar Ali Dewa.
He also told the court yesterday that since this is the case, Section 66 of the Syariah Law which states that a man cannot dress or pose as a woman, is applicable to them.
A medical report from the Ministry of Health however cites GID as incurable and life long.
The Court of Appeal is hearing a case where three transgenders are challenging the unconstitutionality of the Negeri Sembilan state Syariah law which prohibits them from expressing their gender identity.
Their lawyer Aston Paiva also showed the court proof that the Health Ministry signed off the medical reports of the transgenders citing that their disorder is incurable.
“According to psychiatrists from the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, the patients suffering from GID, although born biologically male, are actually female trapped in a man’s body,” stressed Paiva.
Paiva also added that his clients “are in no way challenging Islam but instead are challenging the legislative laws that discriminate them.”
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Parliament's art should be subject to a "gender-audit" amid concerns that the paintings and sculptures are too "white and male", a report endorsed by all three party leaders has found.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Women said that the art in Westminster is "off-putting" for female MPs and warns that the language, culture and ceremonies of Parliament are too "masculine".
The Houses of Commons is ranked 65th in the world for female representatives behind Rwanda, Cuba, Angola and the majority of Latin American and Scandinavian nations.
The report recommends a series of radical steps to redress the balance, including gender quotas and a zero-tolerance approach to "raucous, ill-mannered" and "testosterone-fuelled" behaviour.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
In Kenya, polygamy is not unusual among the Masai tribe. But polygamy was not recognized by the Kenyan government as a proper marriage; only monogamy was. Recently, though, the Kenyan government passed a law to recognize polygamy and it did so as a means to help women:
Before the new act was passed, they lacked legal protection because customary marriages were rarely registered and therefore not recognised in a court of law.
This left many women vulnerable. If a husband died, they could be disinherited, and their children risked losing their rights and legitimacy. Now a customary marriage will be treated as equal to Muslim, Christian, Hindu and civil ones, giving all wives legal recognition and rights.
Women's rights groups have hailed this aspect of the law. What they find absolutely unacceptable is that male parliamentarians used their majority to vote down a clause requiring a man to inform any existing wives of his intention to marry again.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Women are crucial: We simply cannot end malnutrition if we don't invest in women, and not just because of their hugely important role as mothers. Women are critical to food and nutrition security due to the enormously important and myriad roles they play in agriculture, in their communities as workers and as producers.
Recognise inequality: Of course we have to recognise that there are multiple competing demands on women, especially the poorest. What's needed is a supportive system to allow women to make the choices that work best for them and their families. Sometimes this goes to the heart of complex and unequal power relationships in the family and the social and economic status of women in the poorest communities.
Breastfeeding powers the next generation: As the mother goes, so goes the child. Improving rates of exclusive breastfeeding is one of the best, most cost-effective solutions to ensure child survival and set the foundation for lifelong health. Successful breastfeeding promotion relies on tapping into 'influencers' in a woman's life: doctors, mothers-in-law, celebrities or media. It is important for breastfeeding to be promoted as the norm.
Covert breastmilk substitute promotion happens everywhere: An egregious tactic used to market infant formula is using medical professionals, especially pediatricians and nurses, to 'prescribe' or push formula onto mothers. I had it just happen to me when I gave birth to my second child here in the US a month ago. I was encouraged by doctors and nurses to 'supplement' my breastfeeding with formula on my baby's second day of life. Medical professionals often don't realise that their well-meaning advice can undermine a woman's confidence to breastfeed and serve as a tacit endorsement of infant formula.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Akiva Miller at Hebrew University has uploaded an article, "The Policing of Religious Marriage Prohibitions in Israel: Religion, State, and Information Technology." The abstract reads:
The State of Israel applies religious law in all matters of marriage and divorce. For the Jewish population of Israel, the law of marriage includes religious prohibitions on certain kinds of marriages, most notably the prohibition against intermarriage and the prohibition against marrying a mamzer. Over the years, Israel’s state-religious authorities have adopted a variety of methods and practices for policing these prohibitions. These include stringent procedures for premarital registration inquiries; use of databases for collecting information on prohibited persons; recording the possibility of mamzer status of newborn children; special Beit Din proceedings for handling cases of possible marriage prohibitions; Beit Din-initiated investigations of possible prohibited persons, including minors; and special “Jewishness investigations” for people of questionable Jewish ancestry. The article surveys the law and practice of these policing methods, as well as the acute social problems and injustices they cause. Lastly, the article discuses ways in which these methods change traditional Jewish marriage.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
TRANSGENDER women in Malaysia have filed a groundbreaking court case challenging a law that prohibits them from expressing their gender identity, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 22, 2014, the Putrajaya Court of Appeal is expected to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the laws.
Three transgender women from the state of Negeri Sembilan are asking the court to strike down a state law that prohibits ''any male person who, in any public place wears a woman's attire or poses as a woman,'' which has been used repeatedly to arrest transgender women.
All three petitioners, who identify as female but are described as ''male'' on their national identification cards, have been arrested solely because they dress in attire that state religious officials deem to be ''female.''
Friday, May 9, 2014
To avoid upsetting her husband, Urmila Devi told him she’ll heed his request to vote for India’s ruling Congress party when their village of 50 families participates in national elections. Once inside the polling booth, she plans to ignore his suggestion. “I’ll vote for a different party,” Devi, 26, says outside her one-room house in Galanodhan Purwa village in Uttar Pradesh state, where she cares for her two children. “I’m concerned about women’s safety. It should be the government’s top priority.”
A growing number of women are defying traditional gender roles in India and asserting their voice in elections that began on April 7 and end on May 16. Prompting the change: Higher literacy rates, greater financial independence, and a desire to stem violence against women, which became a highly visible issue after the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012.
“Over the years, we’ve asked women if they voted on their own or if they voted for whoever their husbands or fathers asked them to,” says Sanjay Kumar, New Delhi-based director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, which conducts opinion polls. “Women were reluctant to tell us earlier, but increasingly they’re saying they’re voting on their own, no matter what the men say.”
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
SAO PAULO (AP) Gay rights advocates called for a Brazilian law against discrimination as they gathered by the hundreds of thousands in Sao Paulo on Sunday for one of the world's largest gay pride parades.
Sao Paulo Gov. Geraldo Alckmin announced that he would restore a historic house in Avenida Paulista, where the parade strolls, and turn it into a gay museum.
The activists and parade organizers said a law that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is overdue in Brazil. Criminalizing displays of discrimination against gays would reduce violence against members of the LGBT community, advocates said.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
So begins the story:
India’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear pleas against the controversial sodomy law that recently re-criminalized gay sex.
In July 2009, the Delhi High Court overturned a colonial-era ban on same-sex intercourse. Four years later, on Dec. 11, 2013, the country's Supreme Court reenacted Section 377 of India's Penal Code, which states, "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."
Monday, April 28, 2014
On April 27, this news was reported:
Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe, wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, joined the festivities, standing on a float (pictured, below, in white) amid a sea of 3,000 marching participants.
Akie Abe, 51, known for her liberal inclinations, wrote on herFacebook page later that she has been involved in the issue since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year, reports AFP.
“I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facingdiscrimination,” she wrote. “I had the pleasure of spending fun time filled with smiles. Thank you.”
Friday, April 18, 2014
"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the India Supreme Court said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.
It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.
According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people.
"Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice KS Radhakrishnan, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench, said in his ruling on Tuesday.
"Transgenders are also citizens of India" and they must be "provided equal opportunity to grow", the court said.
"The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender."
Friday, April 11, 2014
From Amnesty International:
The Philippine Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold a landmark reproductive health law as constitutional is an important victory for millions of Filipino women and girls, Amnesty International said.
The court’s decision, which will require the government to provide free contraception to millions of the nation’s poorest women, is being welcomed by activists across the country.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the independence of the judiciary and means that millions of women and girls have a right to access medical services and information they need,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the Philippines.
In a country where 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, surveys have shown that 72 percent of Filipinos support the law.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A Sydney resident who fought to be legally recognised as being of non-specific sex has hailed a High Court ruling that New South Wales laws do permit the registration of a category of sex other than male or female.
Norrie was born male but had a sex change and now does not identify as specifically male or female.
After a four-year legal battle, Norrie has won the right to be legally recognised as being of non-specific sex.
She used to wear a burqa in public, but now has had her face printed on thousands of ballot pamphlets for the provincial council in Wardak. She campaigns in person in a district, Saydabad, that is thick with Taliban.
The woman in question is 28 year-old Mariam Wardak's mother, who is running for public office in Afghanistan. More:
There is finally the sense here, after years of international aid and effort geared toward improving Afghan’s women’s lives, that women have become a significant part of Afghan political life, if not a powerful one.
On the other hand:
But their celebratory moment is also colored by the worry that those gains could so easily be reversed if extremists come back into power, or if Western aid dwindles. Those concerns have added urgency to this campaign season for women who are fighting to make their leadership more acceptable in a still deeply repressive society.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
This is an important piece of the puzzle over the future demand for lawyers. It's not just about what Wall St. is willing to pay for lawyers. There still is tremendous need for lawyers particularly in cases of family matters, landlord tenant, immigration, and cases with poor and minority plaintiffs. Such need that, as the article suggests, it constitutes an access to justice issue, if not an international human rights issue.