Tuesday, 28 April 2015

U.S. Slams Iran's Record On Women's Rights

The United States has criticized Iran's record on women's rights at a United Nations body.
Iran was elected to the board of UN Women on April 10 with 36 of 53 possible votes.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the low vote total reflected "deep concerns" UN members have about Iran joining the board of UN Women, created in 2010 to push for gender equality and empowerment of women.
"In Iran, women are legally barred from holding some government positions, there are no laws against domestic violence, and adultery is punishable by stoning, making it wholly inappropriate that Iran assume a leadership role on women's rights and welfare at the UN," Power said.
Power said she was "extremely disappointed" that the Asia-Pacific group had endorsed Iran's candidacy for the three-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/united-states-iran-united-nations-women-rights/26950072.html

Monday, 27 April 2015

Respect women's right to wear veil in court, says Britain's most senior judge

Judges must show respect to women who choose to keep their faces covered due to their religious beliefs, the UK’s most senior judge has said.
Lord Neuberger said judges must have “an understanding of different cultural and social habits” in their bid to show fairness to those involved in trials.
Addressing the Criminal Justice Alliance, the supreme court president said: “It is necessary to have some understanding as to how people from different cultural, social, religious or other backgrounds think and behave and how they expect others to behave.
“Well-known examples include how some religions consider it inappropriate to take the oath, how some people consider it rude to look other people in the eye, how some women find it inappropriate to appear in public with their face uncovered, and how some people deem it inappropriate to confront others or to be confronted - for instance with an outright denial.”
In 2014 Judge Peter Murphy upheld a ruling allowing Muslim woman Rebekah Dawson to stand trial wearing a full-face veil.
The 22-year-old waived her right to give evidence in her defence, however, after it was ruled that she would have to remove the niqab, which made only her eyes visible, if she took the stand.
She later admitted witness intimidation after denying the charge during a seven-day trial.
In a lengthy speech entitled “Fairness in the courts: the best we can do”, Neuberger accepted that judges tended to come from privileged backgrounds and warned of the dangers of this. “A white male public school judge presiding in a trial of an unemployed traveller from eastern Europe accused of assaulting or robbing a white female public school woman will, I hope, always be unbiased,” he said.
“However he should always think to himself what his subconscious may be thinking or how it may be causing him to act; and he should always remember how things may look to the defendant, and indeed to the jury and to the public generally.”
Neuberger said judges and lawyers should always keep in mind how “intimidating” the court process could be for those involved in trials, including “the parties, their families, the victims, the witnesses and the jurors”.
Speaking in the context of legal aid cuts, he said ensuring all parties involved in a case understood the goings-on in a court had become more important because “people are having to choose between representing themselves or not getting justice at all”.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/apr/17/respect-womens-right-to-weir-veil-in-court-says-britains-most-senior-judge

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Chelsea Clinton in a Gucci dress, Mateo New York bracelet, Cartier bracelet, Garland Collection ring, Halleh ring.
Chelsea Clinton was thoughtful and candid during her conversation with ELLE editor-at-large Rachael Combe for this month's cover story. Their discussion topics ranged from whether she'd like her daughter Charlotte's grandmother to be the first female president of the United States, to the pressures she feels as a woman in a leadership role, to how she influences her parents on topics of national importance such as gay rights, to what it's like riding the subway and going to the grocery store as, well, Chelsea Clinton. She talked passionately about motherhood and her seven-month-old daughter—along with her other baby, the No Ceilings Full Participation Report—and the happy place in which she finds herself, finally writing her own story as a mother, wife, advocate, and, yes, the beloved daughter of two of the most powerful people on the planet.
In her May issue editor's letter, ELLE Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers writes: "There is something innately regal about Chelsea—a kind of grace that doesn't seem practiced, or trotted out just for public consumption. She's a person of substance for sure, a young woman who, while measured in her manner, has a fierceness of conviction, and a calling to make the world a better place."
No Ceilings is emblematic of the work Chelsea says she felt called to do. It was an idea she and her mother dreamed up together, looking back at the United Nations' World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, where Hillary, then First Lady, made her famous declaration that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." Chelsea says she wanted to use the 20th anniversary of that historic event to provide perspective on the status of women's rights, and last month she was able to do just that as she officially released the No Ceilings Full Participation Reportat an event in New York City, alongside her mother and Melinda Gates (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined forces with the No Ceilings initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to create the report).
Read a preview of what Chelsea had to say below:
Derek Lam blouse, Stella McCartney trousers, Bulgari necklace, Tiffany & Co. bracelets, Trollbeads bangle, Garland Collection ring, Halleh ring, Brian Atwood pumps.
On how life has changed since her daughter Charlotte was born…
ELLE: Is it a big change from before she was born?
CHELSEA CLINTON: Marc and I are like, "What did we do before we were parents?" My whole life is reoriented around my daughter in the most blessed sense. I now understand—this is something else that Marc and I talk about all the time—all of the enthusiastic, bombastically spectacular, wonderful things people say about their children, because we also feel and think all those things about Charlotte—that she is just the most remarkable little bubbly, perfect, chunky monkey creature ever.
On the importance of having a woman president…
ELLE: I was pregnant with my eldest daughter when your mother ran in 2008. I remember feeling that extra intensity you're talking about and being really frustrated when people said that it didn't matter if we had a female president, that it wouldn't make any real change, that it was just symbolic. What do you think?
CC: We've made real progress on legal protections for women, but in no way are women at parity to men in our country in the workplace. And if we look in the political sphere, it is challenging to me that women comprising 20 percent of Congress is treated as a real success. Since when did 20 percent become the definition of equality? And so when you ask about the importance of having a woman president, absolutely it's important, for, yes, symbolic reasons—symbols are important; it is important who and what we choose to elevate, and to celebrate. And one of our core values in this country is that we are the land of equal opportunity, but when equal hasn't yet included gender, there is a fundamental challenge there that, I believe, having our first woman president—whenever that is—will help resolve. And do I think it would make a substantive difference? Yes, we've seen again and again, when women have been in positions of leadership, they have had different degrees of success versus their male counterparts, historically being able to build more consensus so that decisions have longer-term effects, whether in economic investments or in building social capital. Who sits around the table matters. And who sits at the head of the table matters, too.
For the full story, pick up the May issue of ELLE—available digitally and in select cities on April 14, and on newsstands nationwide April 21.

Source: http://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/news/a27707/chelsea-clinton-may-2015/

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Pushing The Boundaries on the Perception of Muslim Women

The last thing one would expect would be Muslim women on the comedic scene, yet here they are -- a group of Muslim Pakistani-American women are pushing the boundaries of perception on desi Muslim women and they do it while inviting the audience to share in their jokes and laughter.
New York-based writer/performer Aizzah Fatima produced a one-woman comedy show called "Dirty Paki Lingerie" as a result of her growing frustration with the limited perception other have of her as a refugee or a victim.
On the other hand, Fawzia Mirza, a Chicago-based actor/writer/producer, explained that a lot of limitations imposed on Pakistani children regarding an artistic career stems from being born in a conservative culture where an artistic endeavor is seen as not financially stable enough and potentially harmful to one's reputation.
The consensus in their artistic endeavor seems to be that their experience is not necessarily representative of the Pakistani experience in general, but that there is a need for a broader representation that would pull away from the usual one and give more insight.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/womens-rights-news/pushing-the-boundaries-on-the-perception-of-muslim-women_b_7078282.html?ir=India

Friday, 24 April 2015

Chinese feminist: 'If I talk about women's rights in China, people will think I'm sick'

Near midnight on Monday night, it was confirmed that all five Chinese feminist activists had been released, having been taken away by police over 37 days ago.
Their crime? Planning to distribute stickers on buses to raise awareness of sexual harassment on public transportation on International Women’s Day (March 8th).
Wei Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan, Wu Rongrong and Li Tingting were freed by police, according to lawyers. They seem unlikely to face charges.
It’s hard to escape the irony that the five women - all aged under 32 - were taken away (on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”) just before staging their protest on International Women’s Day. It is an occasion that is not only widely celebrated in China, but is intended to draw attention to the empowerment of women around the world.
The arrest had been condemned by organisations worldwide, including Amnesty International. And their release this week was called “a victory” by Jing Xiong, the Project Manager of Monitor for Women Network, an NGO that has worked closely with the women in the past.
So who are they? And what does the future hold for the fledging feminist movement in China?
The five women are part of small, upcoming group young female activists who have recently been campaigning for women’s rights. This is something relatively new in China.
Their stunts have included Occupy Men’s Toilet, staged in 2012 to bring focus to an unfair ratio of women to men’s toilets in China; and Bloody Brides, in 2013, where women dressed in blood-stained wedding dresses to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11535311/Chinese-female-activist-Womens-rights-are-seen-as-a-sickness-here.html

Thursday, 23 April 2015

China Frees Detained Women’s-Rights Activists

BEIJING—Chinese authorities released the five women’s-rights activists whose detentions last month sparked an international outcry and stoked fears that the Communist Party planned to expand political controls.
Police notified families Monday night that the five activist—Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan—would be set free, said Wang Qiushi, a lawyer representing Ms. Wei. Mr. Wang said around 1 a.m. on Tuesday that all had returned to their families.
Liang Xiaojun, another of the activists’ lawyer, said the five had been released on China’s equivalent of bail, meaning they would be subject to police surveillance and could still be vulnerable to criminal charges for up to a year.
“They are not completely free. At any time in the next year, the police could take them away again,” Mr. Liang said.
“The releases are a profound relief, and they make clear that public pressure from inside and outside China can change the government’s position,” said Sophie Richardson, the director of Asia advocacy at Human Rights Watch. Still, she added, the women shouldn’t have been detained in the first place.
The detention came as the Communist Party pursued an aggressive campaign against independent political activities, detaining or jailing dozens of lawyers, activists and others. But even against that background, the detentions baffled many inside China. Gender equality has been a central plank in the Communist Party’s platform since its inception, with Mao famously declaring that “women hold up half the sky.”
Activists note that the country recently has made progress on women’s issues, with a landmark law on domestic violence scheduled to come out later this year.
The last time a Chinese regime arrested women for feminist activity was in 1913, according to feminist Chinese historians, when then-President Yuan Shikai attempted to crush a nascent women’s suffrage movement.
Prosecutors faced a deadline Monday to either charge or release the five women, who were detained while planning a multicity campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Mr. Wang, the lawyer for Ms. Wei, said earlier that police had requested that prosecutors charge the five with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Mr. Wang said police had opened investigations into some of the activists’ prior campaigns.
Beijing police and prosecutors didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Haidian District Detention Center, where the women had been held, declined to comment, saying it would only answer questions posed in person by relatives.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Friday calling for the release of the women, a few days after his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, called their detention “inexcusable” in a post on Twitter. Mr. Kerry said the U.S. supported the efforts of the activists to fight sexual harassment, adding, “Chinese authorities should also support them, not silence them.”
At a daily news briefing Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China had complained to the U.S. over the comments made by U.S. leaders, and urged the U.S. to “stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs.”
On Saturday, relatives released a public letter asking the government to release the women. “Given our country’s outstanding historical tradition, the social reality of sexual harassment, and the relevant laws and regulations, we firmly believe that the thoughts and actions of our five relatives did not in any way violate national policy or laws,” the letter read.
Human rights and civil society experts noted that the detained activists had been successful in drawing attention to women’s issues with eye-catching campaigns, such as one in 2012 where they “occupied” men’s toilets to highlight insufficient facilities for women. The women also had worked with foreign organizations—something the Communist Party increasingly finds suspicious.
China’s authorities “want gender equality to be something they control,” said Lu Jun,director of the Beijing Yirenping Center, an antidiscrimination nonprofit that employed Ms. Li, one of the detained activists. “They don’t want civil society to have anything to do with it.”
Government pressure has cast a chill over many women’s-rights activities in recent weeks. Nonprofit groups associated with the detained women have had their offices searched by police, while a number of lectures and activities have either been canceled or altered, women’s-rights campaigners say.
Rehearsals for a production of “Our Vaginas, Ourselves,” a play about female empowerment based on the “Vagina Monologues” by American playwright Eve Ensler, have been put on hold as the cast searches for a new space to meet, according to one of the show’s creators, who said she had been among a group of activists who had been briefly detained along with the five but quickly let go.
“Right now it’s not clear if we’ll be able to put on any shows in Beijing this year,” she said.
Mr. Lu said all of Yirenping’s gender-related programs had been temporarily suspended as the group waited to see what happened to the women.
Even after their release, it remained unclear what long-term effect the recent pressure would have on the women’s-rights movement.
“For some people, there will definitely be a chilling effect,” said Feng Yuan, a veteran women’s-rights campaigner, but for many young people, perceived suppression could serve as “a rallying point.”
For one 24-year-old activist, the detentions served as an awakening. She said she saw police bring home one of the detained activists, Ms. Zheng, only to take her away again. The sight left her speechless, she said.
After Chinese authorities began searching for associates of the detained activists, she found herself moving from apartment to apartment. “I got a call from someone and just ran,” she said.
Being on the run hasn’t kept her from continuing her activism. She joined four other activists in Guangzhou to don masks of the detained women and take photos around the city as part of a campaign to focus attention on them.
“I’m so happy I’m crying,” she said on hearing that Ms. Zheng had been released. Still, she said, they might keep the masks around, “just for fun.”
—Kersten Zhang contributed to this article.
Write to Josh Chin at josh.chin@wsj.com

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-frees-three-womens-rights-activists-1428934300

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

At Pro-Life Event, Rand Paul Jabs Hillary Clinton on Women’s Rights

GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul came to a pro-life event Thursday in Washington D.C. to talk about abortion.
But instead of just talking about the abortion issue, Paul, the Kentucky senator, decided to widen his remarks to comment on how women are treated around the world.
That gave him the perfect transition to criticize Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“She’s taking money from a country [Saudi Arabia] that persecutes women,” Paul told the crowd, referencing donations to the Clinton Foundation. “She takes money from the Sultan of Brunei. What do they do in Brunei? If you’re accused of adultery you’re stoned to death, which doesn’t sound very fair, but what makes it even worse is only men are accusing women. Women don’t have the ability to go to court because women aren’t allowed in court; women don’t vote and have no say. So you have something on the books that completely abuses the rights of women and she takes money from the Sultan of Brunei.”
Paul spoke at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the nation’s capital.
At the summit, Paul alleged the media implores a double standard when it comes to how they treat liberals and conservatives.
“There is a difference in the way conservatives are treated versus liberals, and I say we have to push back,” Paul said.

Source: http://dailysignal.com/2015/04/16/at-pro-life-event-rand-paul-jabs-hillary-clinton-on-womens-rights/