Poor urban services found to increase risk of #Vaw #womenrights

ActionAid says lack of transport, housing, sanitation and street lighting leaves poor women and girls in cities vulnerable

Indian women travel inside a ‘women only’ metro train compartment in Delhi

Indian women travel inside a ‘women only’ metro train compartment in Delhi. Photograph: Yirmiyan Arthur/AP

Poor quality and underfunded public services are exacerbating the “constant” violence, harassment and intimidation that millions of women face in cities and urban centres across the world, according to a report.


ActionAid International interviewed women in six cities – in Recife (Brazil), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Mombasa (Kenya), Monrovia (Liberia) and (Kathmandu) Nepal – who spoke of the daily threats they face, including rape, sexual harassment, robbery and beatings, in public spaces and around their homes and places of work.


The report says lack of access to public services such as transport, decent housing, sanitation, water and street lighting was leaving poor women and girls vulnerable and exposed. Systematic failings by police to address the widespread problem of violence against women and girls exacerbated these threats.


More than half the global population – around 3.4 billion people – now live in urban areas. The UN says rapid urbanisation has increased the risks for people living in urban areas, especially women and children. According to its figures, global crime rates rose by 30% between 1980 and 2000. Between 2002 and 2007, 60% of urban residents in developing countries, the majority women and young girls, reported they had been victims of crime.



Women street vendors in Addis Ababa told ActionAid that lack of policing meant they were attacked and robbed on their way home from work by men who knew they were carrying money.


In Phnom Penh, garment workers lived in cramped, rented rooms with few basic facilities near their place of work. Many are forced to walk down dark, muddy roads late at night after overtime shifts. A lack of policing and street lighting has led to the constant risk of attack, robbery or sexual assault.


In Mombasa, women and girls living near and around the dumpsites of Mwakirunge lack access to water, electricity or healthcare. Research concludes that this lack of services has led to extreme violence, such as rape and young children being sexually harassed.


“Violence against women is obviously a global problem and as the majority of people now live in cities, public services can and must be part of the solution for making their lives safer,” said Ramona Vijeyarasa, senior programme manager for women’s rights at ActionAid International.


A big part of the problem, said Vijeyarasa, is that women have no voice or participation in planning decisions. “City planning is still very much a male-dominated world, and until women can have a say in how cities should be designed and built, their needs and safety are going to be ignored.”


In 2011, a study into urbanisation, poverty and violence (pdf) by the International Development Research Centre, said city design had an influence on gendered patterns of crime and urban violence. For example, public transport, designed predominantly for the needs of male workers, paid little attention to women’s safety.


It concluded that the “dark side” of urbanisation and spiralling levels of violence threaten to erase the potential of cities to stimulate growth, productivity and economic dividends for some of the world’s poorest people.


ActionAid International said governments must allocate funds to ensure the provision of accessible and affordable public services, including drinking water, healthcare, education, housing, sanitation, electricity, roads and transport for poor people, especially women and girls.


Services to prevent and redress violence against women, both in the private sphere and in public, should also be included in the realm of essential public services.


Some international efforts have been made to try to address the problem of rapid urbanisation leading to increasing levels of gender violence. In 2011, Unicef, UN-Habitat and UN Women launched a Safe and Friendly Cities for All (pdf) initiative, a five-year programme aimed at making women and children feel safer in local neighbourhoods


International Women’s day- We are One Woman: A Song #Video #Womensday

From China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia, acclaimed singers and musicians, women and men, have come together to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are “One Woman“.

Launching on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality. “One Woman” was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.

This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, “One Woman” reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: “We Shall Shine!” Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.


PRESS RELEASE-Women from India Demand for End to Gender Violence as the 57th Session Starts of UN Commission on Status of Women #womensday


For immediate release



7 March 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm at Geneva Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office,866 UN Plaza,Suite 120,New York NY 10017 & 12 March 2013, 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm at Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office, 866 UN Plaza, Suite 120, New York NY 10017


New York,7 March 2013: 1 Billion Rising campaign states, “One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime”. According to UNDP, “72 million children “ 54% of them girls are out of school” and about billion women fall short of economic potential. According to UN Women 50% of women who die from homicides worldwide are killed by their current/former husbands/ partners.Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income. According to World Bank,” Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in employment could increase productivity per worker by up to 40 percent”.Feministing states 40% of the child soldiers of the world are girls. According to the Control Arms 26 million people are forced to flee their homes every year due to armed conflict. UN Women states approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher.


In north east India, armed violence has taken its toll on the very notion of “normal civilian life” and led to innumerable instances of violations committed against civilian populations particularly women by both state and non-state actors. In most operations, be they cordon and search, combing, arrests, searches, or interrogation, the armed forces have, under the aegis of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) done away with the basic, minimal safeguards accorded to women suspects by the Criminal Procedure Code as well as the SC directives. Arrest by male security personnel, interrogation in army camps and police stations, torture and sexual abuse including rape by security personnel in custody has become routine. In Jammu & Kashmir mass rape of Kashmiri women by security forces was first documented in the Chapora (Srinagar) mass rape incident on March 7, 1990. Violations of women have also been reported from non-state groups. The Hmar Women Association (HWA) submitted a memorandum to to government where “the plights of Hmar tribal women in Tipaimukh sub-division of Churachandpur, Manipur, India  who were raped and molested by two armed groups during January 2006.


In short women are facing violence and discrimination both in conflict as well as non conflict areas and the number is increasing.


At the backdrop of recent rise of women in India and around world on ending violence and the convening of fifty seventh session of UN Commission on Status of Women (CSW), Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Control Arms Foundation of India are hosting a  panel discussion on the theme “Six Decades of UN Commission on Status of Women: Status of Women Now Worldwide and Evolving New Strategies to Ensure Elimination & Prevention of all Forms of Violence against Women and Girls” on 7 March 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm at Geneva Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office,866 UN Plaza,Suite 120,New York NY 10017 .


Distinguished panelists of the event will  include Ms Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict; Dip. Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Chair-Foreign Affairs Committee, Chamber of Deputies, Dominican Republic & Chair-International Council, Parliamentarians for Global Action; Ms Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women ,Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India; Mr Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil, Deputy Minister, International Development, Norway; Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder,Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Control Arms Foundation of India.


On 12 March 2013, we are also hosting another panel discussion on the theme “Women, Peace and Security: Strategies To End Violence Against Women In Armed Conflict Areas And Leading Humanitarian Disarmament Efforts” , 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm at Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office, 866 UN Plaza, Suite 120, New York NY 10017. The event will be chaired by Dr. Swadesh Rana, Former Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch in the United Nations Department of Disarmament Affairs. Distinguished panelists will include Ms May Malony & Sharna de Lacy, Young Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom YWILPF, Australia; Dr. Angana Chatterji, Co-chair of Conflict Resolution and People’s Rights, Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, University of California, Berkeley; Ms Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director, Human Rights Watch; Dr Walter Dorn, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group & Professor, Royal Military College of Canada and Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Control Arms Foundation of India. As we believe that gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and from fear. Empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development, peace and reducing poverty. Kindly join the event.





For more information, please contact:

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India. Email: Binalakshmi@gmail.com. US mobile number: 3472165709

B 5/146, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110029, India Phone: +9-11-46018541, Fax: +91-11-6166234. Websites: www.cafi-online.comwww.womensurvivorsnetwork.org


Becoming an abuse statistic in patriarchal India

Journalist Nita Bhalla recounts the lingering scars – physical and mental – from an assault on her and draws a wider lesson about violence against women in patriarchal India.

I stand in front of the mirror, surveying my face and body – still in shock at how it could have happened to me.

Six days on, the swelling on the right side of my face which he banged into the wall has subsided, the bruise under my right eye where he punched me has turned deep purple and those on my arms and legs where he grabbed and kicked me are fading.

The marks around my neck from when he tried to choke me, I conclude, are healing the fastest. Yet I still decide to wrap a scarf around my neck before leaving for work.

Globally, six out of 10 women experience physical and/or sexual violence – mostly committed by a husband or an intimate partner, says UN Women.

And India, the country I am based in, is not much better.

Around 37% of Indian women have experienced some form of abuse by their husbands – pushing, slapping and hair pulling, punching, kicking, choking or burning – according to the Indian government‘s last National Family Health Survey.

Activists say the actual figures are likely to be more than double this, but despite greater awareness and more gender-sensitive laws, few women are willing to come out and talk openly about the violence they face by those who purport to love them.
Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

I still keep thinking: ‘This did not happen. This does not happen to women like me’”

The statistics are not surprising for me. But being a statistic is.
Raped and set alight

Reporting on women’s rights issues in South Asia over the last three years, I have covered the plethora of threats which haunt the millions of women who live in this deeply patriarchal region.

The violations are vast and varied – from the illegal abortions of female foetuses to the immolation of young brides by their in-laws for not fulfilling dowry demands, to brothers who murder their sisters for falling in love with “unsuitable” men.

I have visited villages in northern India where women hide behind veils and weep as they recount their stories of being sold and trafficked as brides, kept as slaves and beaten and raped by their husbands and “shared” among brothers.

I have spent hours in women’s shelters buried in New Delhi‘s slums, interviewing battered women with blackened and burnt arms, after their drunken husbands’ poured kerosene over them and set them alight.

Not entirely silent: Indian women protest violence against their sex

I have spoken to health workers, gender experts, women’s activists, and government officials on numerous issues – from the psychological reasons of “power and control” that lie behind gender abuse to the adverse impacts of the low status of women on India’s development efforts.

While physical and sexual violence against women is unfortunately something that afflicts every society, the high levels to which it is acceptable in India are sometimes unfathomable.

The National Family Health Survey found that 51% of Indian men and 54% of Indian women found it justifiable for a man to beat his wife.

And the silence that surrounds such abuse helps perpetuate that acceptability.

Not the understandable silence of victims who are afraid or not empowered enough to speak out, but the incomprehensible silence of others – family, friends, neighbours and even passers-by – who choose to turn a blind eye.

Interviewing victims and hearing of how their families and friends knew, but did nothing, was something that I never really understood.

But now I have experienced that silence.

When he pulled my hair and kicked me as I lay on the pavement, there was a deafening silence from my neighbours who heard my screams but were reluctant to intervene.

I heard it from the group of young men walking past, who stopped a few feet away to watch as he beat me. And I heard it from the auto-rickshaw drivers who were parked at the stand across the road in the early hours of that morning.

Read full BBC story here

Feminism’s unfinished business

Ritu Menon | March 3, 2012, TOI, Crest Edition

On any given day the Yahoo group Feminists India carries dozens of postings on dozens of issues, from protesting Vedanta‘s “support” of balwadis and anganwadis, to campaigning for tribal activist Soni Sori’s right to a fair trial and demanding accountability from the police for her abuse in custody, to the politics of Slut Walk. The group sends open letters (including to Sri Lankan President Rajapaksha on equal rights for Tamils), invitations to seminars, book and job announcements, information on campaigns, requests for information, statements of solidarity, comments on legal judgments – all in a day’s work. Recently, Shyam Benegal and Gul Panag responded to an Open Letter sent by FeministsIndia by withdrawing from judging a short films competition sponsored by Vedanta.

It’s true that an internet presence may not have the same immediacy or visibility as being out on the streets, but the activism is still around and its reach is considerable. To all those who feel the women’s movement in India is on the wane, perhaps a more accurate assessment is that it is more dispersed, has deeper roots, and has shifted from being urban and middle class to more hinterland and, often, even more rural. In major metropolises, for example, the objective is not simply demanding that “eve-teasing” be treated as a crime;rather it’s working with the police, with college students, with planning and civic bodies to ensure safe cities for all – women, children, the elderly, the disabled, the disadvantaged. If the 1980s-1990 s were a time of consciousnessraising (as much for society as for ourselves) with all the exhilaration and energy that this generated, the 2000s may well be about actively working towards change, not just in laws but on the ground, in society.

Of course, one misses the excitement and togetherness of demonstrating on the streets and the sense of accomplishment at having a law amended or an act passed. But the movement is older now, more mature, and the environment has changed – we’re in a globalised, connected India today, and forms of protest and mobilising, of negotiation and intervention, have had to take this into account.

About seven or eight years ago, Akshara, a women’s resource centre in Mumbai that has been in the forefront of the movement since the 1980s, decided they needed to reach out to young people in the city. Not via your usual fete-and-sports events, but through a sustained and continuing engagement with them on gender issues. Today they work with 18 “low-resource ” colleges in the city, and over the years the students have fanned out to district colleges and reached several thousand others. With Xavier’s College and five other institutions in Mumbai, Akshara carried out a safety audit of the city, monitoring 22 locations with the help of 150 students. Their Blow the Whistle Campaign resulted in setting up a police helpline 103, responding to crimes against women, children and senior citizens. “The response from students has been amazing, ” says Nandita Shah of Akshara, “especially from the boys”.

Resisting and reporting violence against women has, unfortunately, remained a staple of the Indian women’s movement, but its ambit has expanded to address a range of civic issues that encompass unsafe spaces for women in cities, ensuring safe travel in public transport, sexual harassment at the workplace, including the space where women street vendors ply their trade. In 2005, Jagori spearheaded a Safe Cities project in Delhi with (like Akshara) a safety audit, and in 2009, the Delhi government launched the Safe City Campaign in partnership with Jagori and UN Women. Its Awaaz Uthao programme has set up collectives in 15 communities across the city, made up of the police, schools, the municipality, women and other “stakeholders” to identify key concerns regarding safety, and then working to address them.

Meanwhile, Jagori Grameen in Himachal Pradesh works with women farmers in 45 villages, encouraging them to replenish natural resources through organic agriculture. “There is a direct link between the patriarchal exploitation of women and the capitalist exploitation of land”, says Abha Bhaiya of Jagori Grameen, “land and women, both are seen as objects of exploitation. ” SAFAL (Sustainable Agriculture, Forest and Land) recognises women’s work as agriculturists, as well as their role as ecologists.

Read more here

Call for Written Submission to CEDAW Committee

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

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Inviting Written Submissions – The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post Conflict

Dear Friends,

CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict is scheduled to be held on 27-28 March 2012, In Bangkok (Thailand)

This is a call for national and regional level women’s rights groups, NGOs and networks in the Asia Pacific actively engaged in protecting women’s rights during conflict and in peace-building and reconstruction processes during the post-conflict & transition settings to submit Written Submissions to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group organising the CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict on 27-28 March 2012 in Bangkok.

The CEDAW Committee pursuant to its mandate on elaboration of the nature and scope of State Obligations on realisation of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict settings based on the CEDAW framework have called for a consultation for this region. The Consultation is aimed to assist the CEDAW Committee in developing provisions of its General Recommendation on Women in Conflict and Post-conflict situations, in light of the diversity of conflicts and diversity of experiences and issues faced by women in realisation of their human rights in CEDAW and recognised in other international human rights treaties.

The organisation of this Consultation of the Committee is being supported by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of the Women (UN Women) and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific is assisting the Committee, the UN Women and the OHCHR in organisation of this Consultation in Asia Pacific. As space for participation at the Consultation is limited, the CEDAW Committee welcomes and urges additional written inputs from women’s human rights groups and peace advocates who are not able to be physically present to be submitted.

The CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post Conflict presented the Concept Note of the General Recommendation on the Day of General Discussion held on 18 July 2011 (in conjunction with the Committee’s 49th Review Session in New York). The purpose of the General Recommendation is to provide appropriate and authoritative guidance to State Parties on the measures to be adopted to ensure full compliance with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil women’s human rights during times of armed conflict and in all peace-building processes, which includes the immediate aftermath of conflict and long term post-conflict reconstruction. The rationale of the CEDAW Committee to organise regional consultations for the proposed General Recommendation is to highlight the impact of conflict on women in the region and focus on the context specific priorities as well as women’s priority concerns in the post-conflict context, e.g. impact of conflict on women from minority communities, and bring the regional perspective to the four thematic areas covered in the Concept Note on the General Recommendation, namely, Access to Justice, Women’s Participation in Peace-building Processes, Violence against Women and Women’s Economic Opportunities in the post-conflict settings, as well as other relevant thematic areas.

We would like to encourage national level groups and organisations involved in addressing the impact of conflict and post-conflict & transitions settings on recognition, exercise, access and realisation of women’s human rights as envisioned in the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) submitting their written submissions:

Illustrating the challenging realities of women both as victims, as active member of conflict (women combatants) and as agents of change in post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction processes;

Describing the actions, non-action and omissions on the part of State and its agencies resulted in aggravating the negative impact of on-going conflict and post-conflict situations on women and girls in exercise and protection of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;

Identifying gaps and challenges in drawing accountability of State as well as non-state & private actors including private militia & armed groups under the humanitarian and international human rights law, in particular CEDAW;

Providing recommendations to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on elaboration of the nature and scope of State Obligation to protect women’s human rights in situations of conflict and post-conflict, and scope of authoritative mandate of CEDAW to the women’s realities in these contexts

The Written Submissions must be prepared in English and must be precise and specific on the factual as well as theoretical/conceptual framework details. It will be useful to include 1-2 case studies on different and distinct roles played by women in situations of conflict and post-conflict to substantiate the recommendation put forward to the CEDAW Committee for the Proposed General Recommendation.

Preferably the Written Submissions should not be more than 10 pages including the annexures. We would welcome soft copies of analytical research papers, reports and studies that your organisation and/or network would like to share with the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict to build its understanding on the specificities of conflict and post-conflict settings from the region to be addressed in the proposed General Recommendation to ensure women’s human rights under CEDAW are fully and equally realised and protected.

Please find attached an Outline to guide you in preparation of the Written Submission. Attached with this email are the Concept Note and Summary Report of the Day of General Discussion organised by the CEDAW Committee on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict.

Please send us your Written Submissions at iwraw_ap@yahoo.com or iwraw-ap@iwraw-ap.org by 25 March 2012 (16 hrs. Bangkok Time)

For further inquiries, please feel free to write to Gauri Bhopatkar (Programme Officer, IWRAW Asia Pacific) at iwraw-ap@iwraw-ap.org or gauri.bhopatkar@gmail.com

IWRAW Asia Pacific

10-2, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9

59000 Kuala Lumpur


Tel: (603) 2282 2255

Fax: (603) 2283 2552

Email: iwraw-ap@iwraw-ap.org / iwraw_ap@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.iwraw-ap.org


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