By Kimberly St. Louis
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Nov. 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Two international organizations used the occasion to jointly denounce the use of violence to silence outspoken women, according to a Nov. 25 press release. The Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists and 40 members of the Canada-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange are calling on authorities to investigate cases of violence against women.
Also, in commemoration of this day, the United Nations International Research, and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, or UN-INSTRAW, launched a media kit on violence against women and human security in Latin American and the Caribbean. The agency will also do a study on gender and security sector reform in the Dominican Republic. More than 50 percent of women in the region have been victims of some form of violence.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also unveiled a Network of Men Leaders to serve as role models in a campaign opposing violence against women, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Ki-moon said about 70 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence because of men. The 14 men in the network include Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He also announced $10.5 million that was awarded in grants for 13 initiatives to end violence against women and girls in 18 countries and territories.
Nov. 25 kicks off the "The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence," an international campaign to mobilize individuals and groups around the world to call for an end to all forms of violence against women.
Two Zimbabwe women received the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from President Barack Obama Nov. 23, The Associated Press reported. Together, Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu have been arrested over 50 times for leading non-violent protests against their government. Williams and Mahlangu are the co-founders of "Women of Zimbabwe Arise," whose acronym WOZA forms a word that means "come forward."
AIDS Accountability International, an independent rating organization, launched a global scorecard on women that analyzed country responses to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of women in the AIDS epidemic, according to a Nov. 23 press release from UNIFEM. Globally, HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age worldwide. The scorecard found that 75 percent of countries fail to report data on services for women and girls.
Women in southeastern Senegal are taking on the traditionally male task of raising and selling sheep at an annual feast so they can pay for their children's schooling, VOANews.com reported Nov. 23.
Starting in 2011, school children in Britain will be taught that domestic violence against women and girls is unacceptable as part of a new government strategy, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Research by a children's charity has found that 1 in 4 female teens, starting at age 13, had been slapped or hit by their boyfriends. It also found 1 in 9 female teens had been beaten up, hit by objects, or strangled. Next year two help lines will be set up to deal with sexual violence, stalking and harassment. Critics are accusing the government of inferring with how parents rear their children.
More than 30 women's advocacy groups from across the country have formed a coalition and announced Nov. 24 that it will lobby Washington Dec. 2, in an effort to ensure the passage of a health care reform that will not curtail women's reproductive choices, according to a Nov. 24 press release. The "Coalition to Pass Health Care Reform and Stop Stupak," will hold the lobby day as part of its National Week of Action, Nov. 30-Dec. 6. Members of the coalition include Black Women's Health Imperative, Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Latina Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition.
Girls' schools in Afghanistan face the highest risk of violence, a report by the Atlanta-based CARE, the Washington-based World Bank and the Afghanistan government found, according to a Nov. 23 press release.
The number of girls' schools is half that of boys', but attacks on them account for 40 percent of all school attacks. Schools with girls and boys represent 32 percent of attacks. Twenty eight percent of attacks are on boys' schools.
"Education-related violence is an alarming trend in Afghanistan, with girls at particular risk of attacks and other scare tactics aimed at keeping them out of school," said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, in a press statement. "In fact, in 2008 alone, 670 education-related attacks including murder and arson occurred, causing hundreds of schools to close and parents to keep their children home."
The study, "Knowledge on Fire: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan" suggests a community-based approach to the education of girls to improve social acceptance of education and lessen the risk of attack.
In southern provinces, between 65 percent and 81 percent of schools are currently closed due to lack of security.
An Ozark, Ark., woman gave a police officer permission Nov. 11 to use his stun gun on her 10-year-old daughter, ABC News.com reported Nov. 24. Kelly King called the police when she was having trouble with her daughter, who has a history of emotional problems. The officer said in his report the girl was "violently kicking" and he delivered "a very brief drive stun" to the girl's skin when she kicked him in the groin.
Thirteen women and eight men were kidnapped and killed in the Philippines Nov. 23, in an effort to prevent a woman from filing her husband's nomination for elections next year, Reuters reported.
Thousands of Indian "holiday brides" are abandoned by their British husbands after marriage, BBC News reported Nov. 23."There are 15,000 to 20,000 abandoned brides in India," said Daljit Kaur, a lawyer and women's rights activist in India. Kaur told BBC News that she believes British grooms account for a third of all such cases.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski will be freed on $4.5 million bail from a Swiss jail, where he is being held for a U.S. rape charge, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Polanski, 76, has been wanted in the United States since he fled the country in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old female teen a year earlier. The court said Polanski could stay at his villa in the Swiss Alps and that he will be subjected to "constant electronic surveillance." An electronic tag would be activated if he tries to leave the premises.
Nearly half the women in Tajikistan are raped, beaten or abused by their families, according to a report by Amnesty International, BBC News reported Nov. 24. According to the group, women are regularly humiliated by their husbands and in-laws, causing many to turn to suicide. The report's authors say the government should introduce laws and support services to address domestic violence.
A Los Angeles man who posed as a Vibe magazine photographer is being investigated in connection with the sexual assaults of four young women, who he told he'd hire as underwear models, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 25.
Ten female U.K. soldiers were sent home from Afghanistan after becoming pregnant, the Daily Record.co.uk reported Nov. 23. More than 100 pregnancy tests have been requested since April--double the amount of the previous six months--although the Army has strict rules banning intimacy between personnel.
Twelve years after women won the right to enroll at the Virginia Military Institute, the institution is a year into an investigation--which usually takes about six months--into accusations of sexism, The Associated Press reported Nov. 22. Of the 1,500 cadets on campus, 126 are women.
Seven U.K. women are suing a hospital after being misdiagnosed following breast cancer screening errors, BBC News reported Nov. 24. A total of 18 women were misdiagnosed with not having breast cancer.
The "Mother of Judo," Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi, who helped create the first Women's World Judo Championships, died Nov. 22 at a New York City medical center.
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women's eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.