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News Flash
December 2013
 

 

General

 

A UN General Assembly committee has agreed a landmark first resolution on women's rights defenders, despite a hard fought campaign by an alliance including the Vatican, Iran, Russia, China and others to weaken the measure. A Norwegian-led coalition, which has prepared the resolution for months, had to delete language that condemned "all forms of violence against women" to get the text passed by consensus.

 

Iran

 

The Department of Women and Family affairs in President Rouhani’s government has been given the task of determining policies aimed at increasing the Iranian population. A work-group had been set up to provide the government with recommendations and advice. In recent weeks Iranian officials and politicians have expressed their concern about the low rate of population growth in the country and called for a solution. One major factor is that many of those born after the 1979 revolution are postponing marriage until too old to have many children.

 

The new president Hassan Rouhani pledged during election campaign speeches that he 'would not allow any agent to question anyone in the street' and that 'girls should feel secure'. But only four months later, the Headquarters for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has announced improperly dressed women will be issued with official warnings. Cleric Hayder Zahraei, who is in charge of the nationwide plan, said: ‘This grand plan will be implemented in some 200 cities across the country. The plan will be expanded and fully implemented in society.’ Brig. Genral Ahmadi Moghadam, commander of the State Security Forces, also said on August 12: "With Rouhani there will be no changes with regards to the veil." On September 8 an order was issued to 'intensify dealing with women who are not properly dressed'.

 

India

 

Women in India will never be safe until society changes its attitudes, the father of the Delhi gang-rape victim said on the anniversary of the assault which killed her. But one year after the incident, the victim’s family is still deep in grief and fearful for India's women who they say remain in danger.

 

“As long as the mindset of the society will not change, women can never be safe out on the roads... every other day cases of rape and sexual harassment are getting reported, where is the change?

 

Morocco

 

Women's rights activists in Morocco have criticised the Islamist-led government for excluding them from drafting proposed legislation to combat violence against women and for seeking to dilute the bill through changes. The long-awaited bill is currently under study in Morocco. It comes after the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 that enshrines gender equality and urges the state to promote it.

 

Nigeria

 

About 100 women rallied outside Enugu State government offices on 10 December, demanding an end to "the killing of women through fetish activities of chief priests and deities". Such activities are believed to have cost 11 women their lives in just two weeks. Wearing black dresses and holding palm leaves, the protesters also demanded a ban on "forced marriages" to traditional gods as this violates several articles of the Nigerian constitution. Among the reported incidents is the chief priest of the deity Iyakpala Ugbaike allegedly forcing the daughter of a deceased man to marry him after claiming the same deity killed her father.

 

Saudi Arabia

 

Within their female-only campuses, women at Saudi Arabia's universities let loose. In their bags, the textbooks vary, but one item is mandatory: a floor-length black abaya robe that each must cover herself with when she steps through the university gates back to the outside world. Within the campus grounds — a world of strictly female students, teachers and staff — women have some greater freedoms. But outside, women remain bound by a web of customs and religious strictures. Women are kept segregated from men, are barred from simple rights like driving and required to adhere to strict dress codes that often require them to cover their hair and face with a black veil. They are ruled by the whim of male relatives whose permission is required for a woman to work, get an education, or travel under "guardianship laws".

 

Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood, a Saudi Arabian writer, through his Twitter account has asked all his followers to sexually molest women who work as cashiers in stores. This campaign has been launched on social networking websites in order to attack the practice of including more and more Saudi women into the country’s private sector.

 

Tanzania

 

While Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is on the decline in Tanzania, the practice remains widespread in some rural areas, and in Maasai communities like Lingate in the northern Arusha region, dozens of women are being turned away in marriage because they have refused to be cut, according to an NGO working in the region. In another report, 33 women have been arrested for mutilating girls aged 3-15.

 

Turkey

 

The number of women in Turkey who sought the support of the Family and Social Policies Ministry due to domestic violence totalled more than 5,000 last year, according to Minister Fatma Şahin.

 

Tunisia

 

First, it was the schools that were reserved for Salafists and fundamentalists. Then, Islamic banks appeared for those who want their money to be handled in accordance with Islamic law. Now, Salafists and "true Muslims" have their own restaurants with a space dedicated to women wearing the niqab, where they can eat separately while enjoying the privacy provided by wooden screens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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