Mallika Dutt is the President and CEO of Breakthrough, a global human rights organization that uses the power of media, pop culture and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality and justice. Ms. Dutt has served as Program Officer for Human Rights at the Ford Foundation's New Delhi Office and as the Associate Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is a founder of SAKHI for South Asian Women. Ms. Dutt is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently serves on Boards of WITNESS, the Open Society Institute US Programs, and Games for Change, and on the Rights Working Group Steering Committee.
New York Times: On Tuesday, Sudanese police arrested women who were protesting a public flogging that took place earlier in the week. Under Islamic law, crimes can be punished by flogging but are carried out disproportionately against women, and often without reason or cause.
"Dozens of women were arrested in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday, at a protest sparked by graphic video that appeared to show a Sudanese woman being flogged by laughing police officers.
Sudan’s judiciary announced on Sunday that it would investigate the flogging recorded on video, but 52 women were arrested as they protested outside the country’s justice ministry. The women, part of the “No to Subjugating Women Initiative,” were sitting down and holding banners when they were arrested, Reuters reported. They shouted, “Humiliating your women is humiliating all your people,” as the police dragged them away.
As the news agency explained, 'Floggings carried out under Islamic law are almost a daily punishment in Sudan for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery. But vague laws on women’s dress and behavior are implemented inconsistently.'"
Human Rights Watch: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a new bipartisan bill called the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) which aims to reduce violence against women in twenty countries. IVAWA would complement the Violence Against Women Act, which offers protections to women in the United States.
"Congressional leaders should ensure passage this session of a bipartisan bill that sets out a new US strategy for ending violence against women worldwide, Human Rights Watch said today. The bill was approved on December 14, 2010, by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The draft International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) would require the State Department to adopt a five-year plan to reduce violence against women in up to 20 target countries. The approach calls for increased legal and judicial protection for women, strengthened health services to respond to violence, increased educational and economic opportunities for women, and efforts to change social norms that perpetuate violence against women. Special attention would be given to responding to violence against women during humanitarian disasters and armed conflict."
Yesterday, we got some excting news from Women Thrive and the I-VAWA Coalition: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) passed the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA, S. 2982). Senator Kerry, one of I-VAWA's lead sponsors and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated:
International Women's Health Coalition: Today the U.S. Senate passed an important bill called the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. This bill seeks to eliminate unlawful child marriages which not only violate human rights but threaten the health of child brides. Worldwide, more than 60 million girls are married before the age of 18 and often die in childbirth.
"This bill seeks to eliminate child marriage - which is often unlawful and in violation of human rights - by expanding investments at the community level to empower girls, promoting community understanding about the harmful impact of child marriage, and requiring the U.S. government to develop a strategy to prevent child marriage.
The State Department will also be required to report on the issue of child marriage in its annual Human Rights Report. Child marriage undermines U.S. investments in foreign assistance to improve women's and girls' education, health, economic and legal status. The bill will provide such sums as necessary for five years to support child marriage prevention programs in high incident countries."
RH Reality Check: Despite a new law banning the practice, 120 women were forced to undergo female genital mutilation in Uganda.
"Late last week, an estimated 120 young women of the Sabiny ethnic group in Uganda were forced to undergo severe forms of genital mutilation despite a new law banning the practice. The mass "circumcision" involving the removal of the clitoris and other parts of their genitalia took place in public with crowds looking on. The fact that leaders of the Sabiny carried out the genital mutilation despite the new law--in fact in open defiance of it--has sparked public debate about the limitations of legal strategies operating in a vacuum."
Colorlines: The number of people who are killed due to their sexual orientation or identity is overwhelming, but even more so, when you realize that the majority of them are people of color and transgender women.
"Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. As I wrote yesterday, at least 22 people were murdered in 2009 because of their sexual orientation. Four out of five of them were people of color and half were transgender women; the other half were overwhelmingly men who defied gender stereotypes, according to hate crime monitors. I argued in yesterday’s article that this violence is best understood as the most extreme example of a long list of dangers transgender women, particularly those of color, deal with everyday. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality point out a few of studies that provide more detail on that.
So the murders are grisly, but they are not isolated attacks. Our cultural fear of people who won’t follow rigid gender rules allows us to turn the other way while people are harassed, exploited and attacked routinely. Stop and think about that today, and then lets all start standing up against gender violence of all forms. And as I wrote yesterday, given the data, communities of color in particular need to come together to put this stuff to an end."
Reuters: Chechen women continue to be targeted for not wearing headscarves. Some women have been punched, or terrorized by men wielding automatic rifles.
"Many women in Russia's volatile Chechnya region said on Friday they had been harassed and some physically harmed by bands of men for not wearing headscarves during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Against the backdrop of a spreading Islamist insurgency, many fear that growing interest in radical Islam could fuel separatism in the volatile North Caucasus, where the Kremlin watches uneasily as sharia law eclipses Russian.
Residents and witnesses told Reuters that bearded men in traditional Islamic dress have been roaming the streets both on foot and in cars since Ramadan started on Aug. 11, demanding bare-headed women wear a headscarf.
The men's action follows a radical order earlier this week from Chechnya's spiritual leader to shut all cafes during the month of Ramadan as well as paintball attacks on bareheaded women in June."
New York Times: Over 600 women were raped in September and October along the Congo/Angola border. United Nations officials mistakenly gave an earlier count of 30 women. The women were raped during an expulsion of immigrants from Angola. It is not clear at this time on what side of the border the women were raped, but officials are worried that rape is becoming commonplace and endemic.
"More than 600 women and girls were recently raped along the Congo-Angola border during a mass expulsion of illegal immigrants, according to the United Nations. Many of the victims said they were locked in dungeon-like conditions for several weeks while they were raped repeatedly by security forces.
Maurizio Giuliano, a United Nations spokesman in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Friday that it was unclear on which side of the Congo-Angola border the women had been attacked, and that the United Nations was calling on both countries to investigate promptly.
'What worries us is that rape seems to be becoming endemic in several parts of Congo,” Mr. Giuliano said, also referring to recent rapes in the eastern Kivu provinces. “We fear it’s becoming part of the routine.'
United Nations officials call Congo the worst place in the world for sexual violence, and even the longstanding presence of internationalpeacekeepers has not been able to stop it. According to United Nations officials, the women along the border were raped in September and October at several locations during an expulsion of more than 6,000 illegal Congolese and other immigrants from Angola."
UN: A United Nations investigation is taking place, following up on reports of countless numbers of rapes when people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"A senior United Nations official has urged the national authorities in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate reports that women were raped when large numbers of people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the DRC recently.
'I call upon the authorities of both countries to investigate these allegations and to proceed in compliance with relevant legislation,' said Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, in a statement issued yesterday. 'I expect the authorities of Angola and the DRC to respect human rights and to do everything in their power to prevent abuses of all kinds during any further expulsions,' she said.
She said that although it was not clear where the alleged rapes took place and who the perpetrators were, it is of utmost importance that the allegations of abuse be followed up immediately and those found responsible brought to justice by the national authorities of the countries concerned."