Muslim Brotherhood opposes UN declaration on #VAW #WTFnews


Egyptian rulers reject idea of equality as undermining family values

 FX15JANSEN_1_WEB

Egyptian women on the streets in Port Said. Groups claim women have been attacked while on demonstrations in order to discourage them from taking part. Photograph: Ed Giles/Getty Images

Muslim Brotherhood has held up finalisation and promulgation of a UN document dealing with violence against women, claiming it violates Islamic law, principles and traditions and undermines family values.

The draft text, due to be issued by the UN Commission on the Status of Women today, calls for the “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.

The Brotherhood contests provisions on sexual abuse, sexual rights, sexual health and the right of women to control their sexuality. Specifically, it opposes provisions calling for equal inheritance rights, equality within the family, raising the legal age for marriage and granting permission for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims.

The movement also objects to permitting Muslim women to travel, work and use contraception without the approval of male relatives. It argues the document is “deceitful” because it would give women the choice of abortion “under the guise of sexual and reproductive rights”.

Adoption of the document would “lead to social disintegration”, the Brotherhood claims. It said in a statement: “The Muslim Brotherhood calls on leaders of Islamic countries, their foreign ministers and representatives in the Un ited Nations to reject and condemn this document.”
Influence
Since it rules Egypt, the most populous Arab country, the Brotherhood wields considerable influence with Muslim governments. On the issue of women’s rights, it has also secured the backing of RussiaPoland and the Vatican.

On the issues of sexual freedom, abortion and homosexuality, conservative Muslims and Christians have made common cause for years.

Sexual harassment, rape and assaults against women have increased in Egypt since the fall of president Hosni Mubarak two years ago, prompting criticism of presidentMohamed Morsi and his government for failing to tackle the phenomenon.

Women’s groups contend attacks during demonstrations against Brotherhood policies are being carried out with the aim of ending women’s participation. At least 29 assaults by gangs of men were reported on January 25th, during a rally in Cairo marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

World Bank report said that up to 70 per cent of women suffer violence in their lifetime, and that women aged 15-44 are “more at risk from domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria”.

The most common form of violence committed against women is physical abuse including beatings and rape by a partner.

 

read more- http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/muslim-brotherhood-opposes-un-declaration-on-violence-against-women-1.1326515

 

Activists Connect Choice to Reproductive Justice #womenrights


By Molly M. Ginty

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As the battle to preserve reproductive freedom heats up, abortion-rights advocates are increasingly embracing the quest for “reproductive justice.” Younger activists predict 2013 will be the year “choice” fades out.

Sign says: My Body, My Choice, Reproductive Choice

 

Credit: Steve Rhodes on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

(WOMENSENEWS)–Is “reproductive justice” the magic incantation that will save Roe v. Wade?

Fans of the phrase say yes, now that mainstream abortion-rights groups have started using this term alongside (or in favor of) the word “choice.”

Via Facebook and Twitter, they predict 2013 will be the year “choice”–like the bloomers worn by Seneca Fallsactivists in the 1840s and the bellbottoms favored by Gloria Steinem in the 1970s–moves into feminist history.

Older-guard activists are not so convinced. Does the average person even know that ‘reproductive justice’ means ‘pro-choice’?” one person wrote in response to “Is ‘Pro-Choice’ Passe?”–a Feb. 4 blog post on The Nation.com by Katha Pollitt. Another activist griped, “How is that even a label? It’s not even an adjective.”

Some activists argue that “reproductive justice” should supersede “choice,” just as “LGBT” came to replace “homosexual.” Others claim choice is a better rallying cry because it is time-tested, punchy and decisive. But both sides agree the abortion-rights movement is under intense fire. Its need for fresh support is the reason some activists are pushing for new language now.

At the January 2012 West Coast Rally for Reproductive Justice, activists used both phrases in the chants they bellowed and the placards they hoisted while thronging the streets of San Francisco. And while gearing up for the 40th anniversary of (the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on Jan. 22, 1973), abortion-rights activists started using reproductive justice in addition to choice to frame their discussions and garner support.

The National Organization for Womenn and Medical Students for Choice are now using both terms freely. And on Jan. 15, Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion services in the United States, announced it was formally embracing reproductive justice, boosting the term’s popularity–and the controversy surrounding it.

‘Changing of the Guard’

 

This shift in semantics represents what Monica Raye Simpson, director of the Atlanta-based SisterSong, calls “a changing of the guard.”

Coined in the 1970s in the burgeoning feminist movement by women struggling for autonomy, choice spoke to what was then on the agenda: empowering women to have control over their own reproductive destinies. Being pro-choice came to mean supporting a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion.

Reproductive justice entered the dialogue in the 1990s, when female activists of color convened in Chicagofollowing the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

“We realized choice was an aspiration and not a reality for many of us, and was too narrow to speak to people without privilege,” says Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, inWashington, D.C. “We decided what we needed was reproductive justice–the removal of the structural inequalities that blocked our access to choice.”

As defined by Simpson of SisterSong (a health group for women of color that has promoted the new phrasing), reproductive justice means “the right to have a child, the right not to have a child and the right to parent your children and control your birthing and childrearing options.” This term encompasses not just the stand-alone subject of abortion, but the greater socioeconomic, political and racial context surrounding it.

“Inequality exists, and reproductive justice is meant to shine light on that,” says Nicole Clark, a health consultant in New York City.

Proponents of reproductive justice say prioritizing this concept over choice means putting the horse before the cart and ensuring that choice will indeed become a reality.

Planned Parenthood announced it was adopting reproductive justice alongside choice the same day it launched a public-awareness campaign to show “how the pro-choice and pro-life labels don’t reflect the complexity of the conversation about abortion, and the way that Americans think and talk about abortion today.”

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told Women’s eNews, “We believe this way of framing the conversation will make it more robust and allow everyone who wants to have this conversation to find their way in.”

Expanding the Conversation

 

Just who are mainstream organizations trying to engage in conversation?

First, they are reaching out to women of color, who did not have adequate representation in the feminist movement in the 1970s and who have since then launched vibrant initiatives of their own (such as theNational Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, in New York City, and Forward Together/ Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, in Oakland, Calif.). Today, women of color represent a vital share of the broad-based women’s rights leadership.

These groups are also trying to garner support from “millennials,” born after the year 1980, who say they favor reproductive justice over choice because it is more fluid and all-encompassing.

“People in my generation say ‘I’m not a feminist, but I believe in those ideals,'” says Kelsey Warrick, 19,president of the student group Hoyas for Choice at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “They say, ‘I’m not pro-choice, but I support the right to choose.”

Also receptive to the reproductive justice label are the growing number of Americans who express ambivalence about abortion. A January 2013 NBC poll showed 70 percent of people believe \should be upheld even if they would not chose to have abortions themselves. Paradoxically, a May 2012 Gallup poll showed only 41 percent of people identify as pro-choice–a record low since polling began.

“Given the reality of 3-D sonograms and technology that pushes back the time of viability, there is growing cognitive dissonance over the issue of abortion,” says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, an anti-choice group in Washington, D.C.

Infusing New Vitality

 

Just as it is being used to speak to a younger, more diverse and more ambivalent audience, reproductive justice is also being used to infuse new vitality into the long-embattled abortion-rights movement.

Though nearly 1-in-3 American women terminate pregnancies by age 45, their access to abortion is far from secure. Starting with the 1977 Hyde Amendment, which denies abortion-care coverage to low-income women on Medicaid, a steady barrage of anti-choice measures have slowly chipped away at Roe.

In the last two elections, Republicans–many of whom are staunchly anti-abortion–seized majority representation in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislatures. In 2011 and 2012, Congress considered 14 anti-choice measures, with some of the most extreme ones defeated only narrowly. State legislatures enacted a record number of such provisions (a total 135 in 2011-2012). And on March 6, Arkansas passed the earliest-term restriction in the nation, outlawing most abortions after 12 weeks.

Today, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota have just one surgical abortion clinic per state. So-called TRAP laws, which promote “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” have further undermined the protections provided by Roe. In Virginia, a new rule requires clinics to have hallways that are five feet wide–or shutter their doors.

In the past 30 years, reports New York City’s Guttmacher Institute, the number of U.S. abortion providers has dwindled 40 percent, and 87 percent of U.S. counties now have no abortion provider at all.

“We need language that motivates people,” says Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, inWashington, D.C. “We need to get them to stand up and defend women’s rights.”

In a New York City theater lobby, surrounded by women’s rights advocates before a production of her play, “Words of Choice,” feminist writer Cindy Cooper furrowed her brow, then shrugged.

“I’m working with activists from all over the globe, and they’re using reproductive justice more and more while simultaneously using choice,” she said. “But the semantics don’t matter much to me. What matters to me is what works.”

Molly M. Ginty (http://mollymaureenginty.wordpress.com/) is an award-winning reporter who covers the environment and health for Women’s eNews.

Egyptian Constitution Provides Little Protection to women #Vaw #sexualharassment


By Hajer Naili

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A secular Egyptian woman outlines the disappointments written into the country’s new constitution, passed in late December. Women have had only one legal advance since the revolution: prosecuting sex harassment.

 

Demonstration in Cairo against the draft constitution, Dec. 4, 2012
Demonstration in Cairo against the draft constitution, Dec. 4, 2012

 

Credit: Moud Barthez on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

 

(WOMENSENEWS)–Egypt’s new constitution leaves Dooa Abdallah feeling left out.

“I don’t see myself as an Egyptian citizen in this constitution. I don’t see my future in this constitution,” she said.

Abdallah voted against the proposed constitution and now says it must not be left in its current version. It won’t be easy to change, she says, but she hopes to see the text challenged through “legal ways and on the streets.”

Abdallah is the Middle East and North Africa regional coordinator for the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKnow Politics) and a board member of an international solidarity network called Women Living Under Muslim Laws. She spoke with Women’s eNews in a recent Skype interview from Cairo, where she is based.

Like many Egyptian critics of the ruling Islamist party, she says the new constitution drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood was too rushed and resulted in a document that neither represents Egyptian society nor challenges the status quo that gripped the country for decades under former-President Hosni Mubarak.

“The text should be reflecting the notions of equality and freedom, but the constitution is now only reflecting the conservative philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood . . . If we keep the same economic system, if we keep the same political system, if we don’t give people their rights, why then was there a revolution and people lost their lives?” she asked.

The Egyptian constitution drafted by the Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood, was approved by a two-round referendum on Dec. 22 and signed into law by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a few days later. The final text removed a clause that specifically guaranteed equality for women in the country and refers only to citizens, saying they are “equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination.”

Confirmed to Family Sphere

The approved constitution states that honoring women is essential to a dignified nation. However, the text only refers to women as sisters and mothers, speaking of them purely within the framework of family and not offering room for women in the political and societal spheres.

Article 10, which states that family is the basis of society, and is founded on religion, ethics (morality) and patriotism, says the state will provide mother and child services for free and guarantees women access to health, social, economic care, inheritance rights and harmony between her family duties and public life.

Abdallah said that the Arabic version of the constitution is full of contradictions regarding the notion of equality and freedom, which are emphasized in the English version.

For example in the Arabic version, article 43 guarantees freedom of belief and article 45 guarantees freedom of thought and opinion, but article 44 prohibits insulting prophets. This blasphemy clause is inherently contradictory to the rights guaranteed by its adjacent articles, important to the secularists.

Article 44 has sparked concern as the number of trials for blasphemy has been on the rise in Egypt over the last few months.

Abdallah said the constitution is also dangerous because it maintains the right of military courts to judge civilians and the misuse of Islamic laws. When religion enters into the political sphere, she said, “you can easily manipulate people and that’s why it’s important to remove the religious dimension from the formula. That’s not the duty of the government to tell us how to worship God or how to pray.”

“I have seen in many places around the world where Islam and religion are being used to abuse women and minorities’ rights,” she added.

A Significant Gain

But while the constitution has spread widespread disappointment, women do have one significant legal gain to celebrate. Since the revolution, Egyptian women have begun daring to bring cases of sexual harassment to court.

Samira Ibrahim paved the way after soldiers detained her on March 2011 and subjected her and other female protesters to forced “virginity tests” for protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against Mubarak’s regime. The 25-year-old marketing manager sued the military, and last year a civilian judge ruled the humiliating practice illegal. However, in March, a military tribunal acquitted the doctor who allegedly performed the “virginity tests.” Ibrahim has sworn to pursue the case using international law.

On Nov. 13, an Egyptian man was sentenced to two years in prison and fined a further 2,000 Egyptian pound ($328) for sexually assaulting a woman in Maadi, a suburb of Cairo, in July of last year. The verdict was seen as a small victory for women.

Harassment of women is legendary in Egypt, but silence has been the rule as women feared to bring “dishonor” and “shame” upon their families. With the revolution, the underreported phenomenon has come under the international spotlight as women, including many foreign female reporters, were sexually attacked in Tahrir Square.

The National Council of Women Chief Mervat Tallawy said recently that Egyptian women are harassed on average seven times every 200 meters (656 feet).

Hajer Naili is a New-York based reporter for Women’s eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa.

 

ATTN Bangalore -Screening ‘678’ & Talk on Violence Against Women: 10:30 AM, Sun, Aug 12 #VAW


SUCHITRA’S Media Wing
presents

678 (Egypt)

2010|Drama|100 min
Director: Mohamed DiabScreening and Panel Discussion

with

Pratibha Nandakumar, Poet
Pampa Chowdhury. Branch Head at Concern India Foundation

Moderated by Rashmi Vallabhajosyula, Entrepreneur

ABOUT THE FILM:

The film is about three women and their struggles with sexual harassment . The film took top prize in the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival. The filmmaker had to publicly deny that he had any intent to defame Egypt and assert that the issues are universal. The filmmaker had to even argue against banning of the film on the grounds that it could incite women to injure men in their sensitive parts with sharp tools.

……………

OPINION:

Critic Haisam Abu-Samra writes (excerpts):

“678 is… a thoughtful study that leaves the gravity of the issue to speak for itself.

“678 provides some objective insight into the dynamics of sexual harassment … and the fostering environment that made it possible in the first place.

“All three women go through one or multiple incidents of traumatising sexual harassment. The incidents themselves aren’t exceptionally tragic; they’re even mild compared to the harassment stories that we’ve become used to hearing about. However, these incidents have upsetting physiological effects on the women, crippling them emotionally and functionally to the point that they transform into ghosts of their former selves.

“By focusing on the personal aspect of these women’s stories, 678 resonates on a large scale. It’s in these small moments where glimpses of their humanity become so apparent and immersive…

“Writer-director Diab shows restraint as a filmmaker by avoiding broad theatrics and melodrama for the most part. He also captures Cairo’s chaotic spirit with an authenticity rarely ever seen in Egyptian films.

“678 can be unsettling at times but it’s never uncomfortable. It doesn’t reach for an easy resolution or provide the answers. Rather than pointing a finger or looking for someone to blame, 678 takes a introspective look at a society plagued with contradictions and self-conflict, then the film invites its audience to take a second look around.”

(Courtesy: Cairo 360)

facebook event here

Egypt acquits ‘virginity test’ military doctor


Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, Cairo | March 11, 2012

An Egyptian military tribunal on Sunday acquitted an army doctor of an accusation of public obscenity filed by a protester who claimed she was forced to undergo a virginity test while in detention.

The country’s revolutionary youth movement sees the claims of humiliating tests imposed on detained female protesters a one of the first indications that the generals who took over from Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 would continue the human rights abuses of the ousted president.

Samira Ibrahim, one of seven women who said they had been forced to undergo examinations to determine if they were virgins while detained by the military a year ago, won a civilian court ruling last year that affirmed the tests were taking place at military jails and ordered they be halted.

But military prosecutors investigating her accusations brought only one individual – the doctor – to trial. Ahmed Adel was acquitted. The court, whose verdict cannot be appealed, denied that such tests are carried out.

The military has been in power since Mubarak stepped down last year in the face of a popular uprising. The Mubarak-era generals who succeeded their former patron face accusations by rights activists of killing protesters, torturing detainees and trying at least 0,000 civilians in military tribunals.

Egypt’s official news agency said that Adel was acquitted because the testimonies of the witnesses for the plaintiff conflicted.

But the court’s insistence that no tests were ever conducted at all has raised doubts about the verdict.

“The court’s denial of the tests being conducted went against written testimonies of several public figures who discussed the issue with several of the ruling generals,” rights lawyer Adel Ramadan said.

Amnesty International said in June that Egypt’s generals have acknowledged carrying the tests on female protesters. It said Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, justified the tests as a way to protect the army from rape allegations. The rights group said al-Sisi vowed the military would not again conduct such tests.

The “virginity test” allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of last year’s uprising that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters and the army intervened forcefully to clear the square.

 

Egypt’s Artists Fear Censorship by Islamists


Feb13, 20122- Egypt’s revolution encouraged painters to shake off decades of censorship. But with Islamists gaining power, will provocative art soon be suppressed?

Sublimation is a psychological process in which socially unacceptable impulses are transformed into something less destructive, explains Weaam El-Masry, a fiery Egyptian artist, as she unloads a truckload of her watercolor nudes for sale in a central Cairo art gallery.

“Maybe you have something you want to say—maybe it’s sexual—but society suppresses it,” she says. “When it comes out in your art, that’s sublimation.”

Since the Arab Spring broke out in Egypt a year ago, the country’s art world has started to shake off decades of repression. Sexuality is more out in the open, as are deep-seated social problems such as poverty and corruption—subjects long off limits under former president Hosni Mubarak. Many artists, it seems, no longer feel obligated to cloak their politics in thick layers of allegory.

At Townhouse, a funky art gallery nestled in the heart of central Cairo, iconoclasm is now the rule rather than the exception. In December, the gallery opened D1sc0nN3ct, a dizzying collection of digital-media pieces by a handful of Egyptian artists. Featuring videogames that can’t be won and Web pages with faulty encryptions, the exhibition presents corruption—a debilitating ulcer in a society where you can’t get a driver’s license without paying a bribe—in a daringly critical light.

On the same night but in an adjacent space, the gallery headlined another bold exhibition titled The Politics of Representation. Composed entirely of campaign paraphernalia from the country’s ongoing parliamentary contest—the first since Mubarak’s ouster a year ago—the exhibit takes on the explosion of political activity that has rocked Egypt in recent months and reduces it to a maze of symbols, slogans, and glossy poster stock. According to William Wells, who founded Townhouse in 1998, the exhibition was conceived as an “interactive, real-time visual representation of the electoral process.”

Egyptian Artist Weaam El-Masry's Antsy Nudes

Read more here

Egypt’s Feminist Union Undergoing Reincarnation


By Jessica Gray
Monday, January 30, 2012

The venerable Egyptian women’s rights advocacy, the Egyptian Feminist Union, is coming back to life amid a flowering of civil-society groups. But the road ahead isn’t clear for a long-dormant organization that operated under British colonial rule. 

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)–Grassroots organizations have been flowering in Egypt’s first post-revolutionary year and at least one is coming back to life.

The Egyptian Feminist Union, first founded in 1923, was shuttered just shy of 30 years later by the onset of Egyptian military rule. Now, after registering as a nonprofit a month ago, it is ramping up to give women the voice they’ve been lacking for so long, organizers say.

“We have to defend whatever rights we have and we have to go forward to equality and equity,” says Hoda Badran, chair of the group, which represents a collection of nongovernmental organizations tackling women’s issues in every governorate. “Women should have a say if any public issue or decision has to be made.”

That mission has been made harder, if anything, by recent events. Before the Jan. 25 revolution, Badran says, the country counted three female cabinet ministers.

“Later the military council came and now it’s been reduced to one. So we are going backwards,” she says.

Female demonstrators in the past year have also been targeted by security forces for virginity tests, electric shock, harassment, military tribunals and open brutality during December’s most recent clashes, centered in Cairo.
Little Action

Human rights groups and women’s organizations have fiercely objected but little action has been taken against the accused perpetrators.

The National Council for Women, a state-run group, has said little and been criticized for trying to monopolize the handling of women’s issues and stifling other organizations.

In 1952, Egypt’s armed forces wrested control of the country away from Britain, ending decades of colonization. To secure control of the Arab world’s largest country, Egyptian generals introduced military rule and shut down many nongovernmental organizations, including the Feminist Union. At that time, the union’s mission focused on suffrage, universal education and equality under the nation’s personal status laws.

Badran has a long history of taking up such causes. In the past, she served as president of the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child for two terms and is a member of numerous sustainable development, cultural and child protection organizations and councils in Egypt. She has two bachelors of science degrees — one in sociology from the American University in Cairo and the other in social work from Helwan University — and also serves as president of the Alliance for Arab Women, a Cairo-based organization that has operated throughout Egypt since 1987 to educate and train women on their rights.

She says Egyptian women have won some rights since the 1950s, including the right to vote in 1956. But compared to their male counterparts, they remain undereducated, underemployed, politically unorganized, underrepresented in government and experience more extreme rates of poverty.

Women make up only 1 percent of parliament’s 500 or so members. No women are in charge of running the country’s almost 30 governorates.

Badran hopes to change these trends, but knows it will not be easy since the union’s new status is still in its infancy.

Its first project focused on encouraging women to vote or run in Egypt’s first parliamentary polls, just completed, since the fall of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Mohamed Zaree, a program manager for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, says the recent parliament elections make it a good time to refocus on women’s issues and to bring human rights to the table.

“Now is the time for that conversation because the members of parliament are [accountable] to voters and could play an active role in the promotion of human rights,” Zaree says.

While it looks for funding, the union has been planning its activities from the Alliance for Arab Women’s office in downtown Cairo. It is set to hold a women’s forum in the next few months to gather groups and discuss its future as Egypt takes its first steps toward democracy.

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