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Two years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, a report detailing the impact of sexual exploitation on displaced Haitian women and girls has been released. The report is authored by MADRE, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), the International Women’s Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law (GJC) and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law (CGRS).
The drastic increase in sexual violence in displacement camps has been well documented since the disaster. But another face of the epidemic has emerged as a pressing issue: the sexual exploitation of displaced women and girls.
Too many vulnerable foreign national women are locked up for non-violent crimes and have often been trafficked or coerced into offending, according to a briefing by the Prison Reform Trust and the charity FPWP Hibiscus.
Women from foreign countries are one of the fastest growing groups in the female prison population and represent one in seven of all the women held in custody in England and Wales. Drawing on the experience and work of Hibiscus with foreign national women in prison and kindly supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the briefingreveals that coercion, intimidation, misinformation and threats are frequent factors behind the offending of this group.
This report presents initial results based on interviews with 24 000 women by carefully trained interviewers. The study was implemented by WHO, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), PATH, USA, research institutions and women's organizations in the participating countries. This report covers 15 sites and 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Peru, Namibia, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Report findings document the prevalence of intimate partner violence and its association with women's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Data is included on non-partner violence, sexual abuse during childhood and forced first sexual experience. Information is also provided on women’s responses: Whom do women turn to and whom do they tell about the violence in their lives? Do they leave or fight back? Which services do they use and what response do they get?
In August 2010, The Chicago Council announced an initiative to bring attention to the role of girls in rural economies of developing countries and identify opportunities to increase investment in women and girls as a tool for economic growth and social stability. Catherine Bertini, currently a Chicago Council senior fellow and Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, served as chair of the project.
The annual reports on sexual harassment and violence at the three U.S. Military Service Academies provide data on reported sexual assaults involving cadets and/or midshipmen, as well as policies, procedures and processes implemented in response to sexual harassment and violence during the Academic Program Year.
The Defense Department said the nation’s military service academies had received 65 reports of sexual assault during the 2010-2011 academic year, the highest total since the Pentagon began maintaining data in 2004.
On Tuesday, the Defense Department said the nation’s military service academies had received 65 reports of sexual assault during the 2010-2011 academic year, the highest total since the Pentagon began maintaining data in 2004.
The academies reported 41 such assaults in the 2009-2010 academic year.
It’s unclear whether those figures represent a step in the wrong direction, with assaults actually on the rise, or a step in the right direction, with more victims willing to come forward to report assaults. The Defense Department said it “does not have the ability to conclusively identify the reasons for this increase in reporting behavior.”
Police and municipal inspectors removed signs in a haredi (ultra-orthodox) area of Beit Shemesh calling for segregated sidewalks for women on Sunday night. Police said crowds of men surrounded the inspectors, adding that the crowds were dispersed without incident.
The sign removal followed a report aired by Channel 2 on Friday night showing an eight-year old modern orthodox girl afraid to walk 300 meters to school because of harassment from some haredim because of her attire. The reporter also interviewed a haredi man saying it was permissible to spit at even a school age girl if she was not dressed "properly."
Earlier on Sunday, a crowd of haredim [ultra-Orthodox] attacked a Channel 2 camera crew in Beit Shemesh. The crew was in the city to film street signs discriminating against women as a follow-up of their original exposé, and were attacked by residents opposed to their presence.
"They called us 'Israel haters,' beat us with their hands and threw stones at us," a Channel 2 reporter said.
The crew alerted the police who arrived at the scene of the incident. "If the police hadn't intervened within 10 minutes, I don't know how it would have ended," the journalist said. The police escorted the team out of the city.
The reporter said that the assailants smashed the windows of the cars that the team had arrived in, and also broke some of the equipment they were carrying.
The reporter emphasized that no one tried to stop the attack, and added: "I don't know if they recognized me from the report that we filmed in the city, but that's not important... Allmorning people were talking about an extreme group, but I saw dozens of people full of hate, and nothing else."
That Delhi is India's rape capital is a fact repeatedly stressed by crime statistics, but recent studies show safer streets could help to make the city safer for women. Research by Jagori, with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, shows that wider pavements offer women more manoeuvring room when challenged.
Another survey showed 42% women were harassed while waiting for public transport. "We have suggested sites for hawkers near bus stops to ensure these areas are not isolated," says Kalpana Viswanath of Gender Inclusive Cities Programme.
The latest official crime statistics confirms what everybody know s about Delhi: that it is India's rape capital. But recent studies show that by tweaking urban design and infrastructure - something as simple as ensuring wider pavements and closing cigarette shops near busstops - could make Delhi safer for women. Other measures, like ensuring safer public transport and busy streets, could come later.
Recall recurring incidents of women being pulled into moving cars and stalked on streets, where wider pavements could offer women an escape route. When women are confronted by a group of men walking towards them on a narrow pavement, they often step onto the road to escape being brushed past, leaving them vulnerable to passing cars and men on two-wheelers. Wider pavements would offer more room to manoeuvre.
Research by Jagori, an organization studying gender and space in Delhi, along with the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, shows that women feel unsafe and have repeatedly reported incidents of sexual harassment on the dug-up, poorly-lit pavements around Delhi University (North Campus). The result: women do not stay late in the library or laboratories, even though these facilities are open in the evening. Improving the infrastructure around the campus would automatically ensure women access these resources.
The societal and political transformations taking place across the region played an instrumental role in challenging stereotypes about Arab women as oppressed and subservient. In particular, the leading role that women have played in orchestrating and participating in social movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen has cemented their position as equal partners to men in transforming the political landscapes in their countries. The most obvious acknowledgement of this leadership role was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to an Arab woman, Tawakkul Karman, a leading female Yemeni political activist. Whether Arab women’s civic and political engagement will be enhanced in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” remains to be seen.
The Tahirih Justice Center released the results of our groundbreaking national survey on the state of forced marriage in the United States. The survey is the first of its kind conducted in the United States and designed to understand the scope and nature of forced marriage among immigrant communities. Newsweek magazine has reported on the survey results in this week’s edition (click here to read the full article) and the full survey report can be read on Tahirih’s website (click here to read full report).