Archive for the ‘Women’s Rights’ Category

Key: Afghan ‘sexual desire’ law unacceptable

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Prime Minister [New Zealand] John Key said the Shi’ite law in Afghanistan saying a wife is obliged to fulfil the sexual desires of her husband is “unacceptable”. But it would not threaten New Zealand’s commitment to Afghanistan.

Mr Key said last night that he would write to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to express New Zealand’s views on the law.

“But there is no doubt that our voice will be strongly heard, that we find this an abhorrent act and totally unacceptable to the New Zealand Government.”

But Mr Key is unlikely to follow the example of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who said it would lead to “a clear diminishment in Allied support” in Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has telephoned President Karzai about the issue.

“I think in the short term, it would be unlikely to have any impact on our commitment to Afghanistan,” Mr Key said. “We are fundamentally there to try and reduce the threat of global terrorism. We need to deal with that situation first and foremost.”


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Disobedience of edicts has deadly consequences

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

– I’m as much a environmentalist liberal as the next fellow.  But sometimes, I think, “Enough is enough”.   The planet’s small enough as it is and we’ve got to work out how to get along with the biosphere that we’re all dependent on without destroying ourselves during the learning process. 

– We just don’t need or have time for fundamentalist idiocy like this. 

– Sorry, if that’s not PC enough.  But, we’re 10 folks in a boat built to hold six.   And I can think of a few who should go over the side now.   Sorry.

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Militants who have seized control of swaths of Pakistan’s Swat Valley have set today as a deadline for men to grow beards or face retribution.

In the latest edict issued by Taleban forces seeking to impose Islamic law on an area once celebrated as a tourist destination, men have been told to begin growing beards and to wear caps. Barbers in the Matta area, a militant stronghold, have been ordered to stop offering shaves, and have posted signs in their shops asking customers not to request them.

The Swat Valley, just five hours from Islamabad, has gradually fallen under the control of militants headed by the cleric Maulana Fazlullah. Despite claims by the Pakistani Army that they are successfully confronting the extremists, local residents say up to 80 per cent of the valley is outside Government control.

In recent weeks the militants’ tactics have become increasingly extreme. Corpses of people who have fallen foul of the Taleban have been strung up in trees and markets have been ruled off-limits to women.


Silence over suffering is deafening

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

We often read stories of India’s economic miracle, its IT revolution and its Bollywood culture. We’re keen to do business with India, and Indian migrants are regarded as highly skilled and hard-working.

Australia is even considering selling uranium to India, presuming its status as the world’s biggest democracy makes its nuclear programme less dangerous than that of Iran or Pakistan.

But what about human rights? We so often implement double standards when determining how human rights might affect our international relations.

The experiences of India’s religious minorities have generally been ignored by Western Governments and commentators.

India’s majority faith is Hinduism, an inherently pacifist and tolerant religion. Notwithstanding the caste system, Hindu societies have traditionally practised liturgical and doctrinal pluralism.

Yet indigenous Indian faiths also include Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, a deeply religious man, borrowed freely from all Indian religious traditions.

Gandhi’s vision was of a truly civilised and democratic India which zealously protected its minorities. He fought not only the British Raj but also communal extremists who incited bloodshed between religious communities. His assassination occurred at the hands of extremists of his own Hindu faith. In recent decades, these forces have re-emerged in mainstream Indian politics.


In India, New Opportunities for Women Draw Anger and Abuse From Men

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

– Come on, India.   You are rapidly improving yourself in so many ways, and yet you have such ugly things locked away in your closets.   For all your Bollywood and your high tech campuses, so very much of what happens out in your streets is utterly grim.

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Every morning, Gitanjali Chaudhry, 17, walks to her high school through a labyrinth of temples and vegetable markets. Along with her books, she carries an Indian version of Mace — a bag of chili powder and a pouch of safety pins — to fend off the often boorish men who loiter in the narrow passageways.

“We learned that women have to be brave,” said Chaudhry, a loquacious, ponytailed girl who wants to be a lawyer. She has started attending increasingly popular neighborhood classes on self-defense for women.

Chaudhry is one of the brightest students in her working-class district. But since several local men started following her to class, she sometimes stays home now. She has friends who have been raped or are constant victims of “Eve teasing,” when men on the street spew lewd comments or aggressively paw women’s bodies.


Mexico City Struggles With Law on Abortion

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

MEXICO CITY — When Mexico City’s government made abortion legal last year, it also set out to make it available to any woman who asked for one. That includes the city’s poorest, who for years resorted to illegal clinics and midwives as wealthy women visited private doctors willing to quietly end unwanted pregnancies.

But helping poor women gain equal access to the procedure has turned out to be almost as complicated as passing the law, a watershed event in this Catholic country and in a region where almost all countries severely restrict abortions.

Since the city’s legislature voted for the law in April 2007, some 85 percent of the gynecologists in the city’s public hospitals have declared themselves conscientious objectors. And women complain that even at those hospitals that perform abortions, staff members are often hostile, demeaning them and throwing up bureaucratic hurdles.


– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, a friend of mine suggests the website :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

Afghan President pardons three found guilty of gang-rape

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

– Here’s a fine story about Afghanistan – a nation our citizens are dying to defend.   But, sorry to say, their culture is in the stone-age with respect to women’s rights.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned three men found guilty of gang-raping a woman in the northern province of Samangan.

The woman, Sara, and her family found out about the pardon only when they saw the rapists back in their village.

“Everyone was shocked,” said Sara’s husband, Dilawar, who, like many Afghans, uses only one name. “These were men who had been sentenced by the Supreme Court, walking around freely.”

Sara’s case highlights concerns about the close relationship between the Afghan President and men accused of war crimes and human rights abuses.

The men were freed discreetly but the rape was public and brutal. It took place in September 2005, in the run-up to Afghanistan’s first democratic parliamentary elections.

The most powerful local commander, Mawlawi Islam, was running for office despite being accused of scores of murders committed during his time as a mujahideen commander in the 1980s, a Taleban governor in the 1990s, and after the fall of the Taleban in 2001. Sara said one of his subcommanders and bodyguards had been looking for young men to help in the election campaign.

“It was evening, around time for the last prayer, when armed men took my son, Islamuddin, by force. I have eyewitness statements from nine people that he was there. From that night until now, my son has never been seen.”

Dilawar said his wife publicly harangued the commander twice about their missing son.

After the second time, he said, they came for her. “The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of our home and took her to their house about 200m away and, in front of these witnesses, raped her.”


Letter to a young idealist

Sunday, July 20th, 2008


A few more thoughts along the same lines I talked about previously.

All of humanity’s history has been a series of incremental advances along multiple paths; business, social organization, military, agriculture, technological, etc. In all of this, the thought has primarily been to advance, empower and grow.

Now, for the first time in humanity’s history, we have filled the planet and have begun to hit various unyielding limits; water, food, oil, pollution, as well as limits having to do with how much impact we can have on the biosphere without causing huge shifts in the demographics of various species and even causing their extinctions.

It is clear, if humanity wants to continue to live indefinitely on this planet, that we are going to have to shift from a growth and advance strategy in all we do to one predicated on establishing a steady-state and sustainable balance with the biosphere around us.

We cannot use renewable resources faster than they can regenerate. We cannot occupy more of the planet’s surface than is consistent with allowing the rest of the planet’s biology to exist and flourish. These both imply that our population has to come down to some sustainable number and be held there. We have to come up with ways to govern ourselves that are consistent with establishing and maintaining these essential balances. Nation against nation, system against system is not compatible with long term survival. The ultimate goal and purpose of government in an enlightened world should be to secure all of our futures (we and all the rest of the planet’s biology) and maintain the balance.

We could, if we cut our population to sustainable levels and learned to live within a sustainable footprint on this planet, exist here for tens of thousands of years and maintain a decent quality of life for all those who are alive at any specific point in time. We do not have to give up comfort or technology – we just have to dial our impact on the planet back to sustainable levels and stay with in those levels.

Anything that the Gates Foundation or any other forward looking organization works on that does not include long term goals like these is likely in the big picture to just be a shuffling of our problems from one place to the other rather than a real indefinite-term planet-wide solution to how our species is going to solve the problem of learning to live here without fouling our nest for ourselves and all the other species that depend on this planet’s biosphere.

International Women’s Day 2007

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

– The following is the text of an E-mail I received from the Population Connection folks today. Women’s rights are an important issue and this speaks volumes about women’s rights vs. fundamentalist religion.


On this International Women’s Day, the Global Gag Rule is exacerbating one of the gravest threats to women’s health around the world.

This harmful policy, imposed by George Bush on his first full day in the White House, is denying family planning aid to women’s health care providers in the poorest countries in the world. It demands that health care providers refuse to use their own money – and money from other governments, including their own – to: provide safe, legal abortions; offer counseling and referral services for safe, legal abortion, and; support safe, legal abortion as a matter of public policy in their own countries.

The impact of the Global Gag Rule has been dramatic. Clinics have closed. Health care staff have been let go. Outreach to rural women has been cut back. Contraceptive supplies have dried up. The Global Gag Rule would be unconstitutional if imposed on American organizations, it’s unconscionable to impose it on organizations serving the most vulnerable women in the world.

It’s time for Congress to overturn this damaging policy. Please take just a moment today, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, to call your representative in the U.S. House and ask them to support the Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 619), a bill to repeal the Global Gag Rule.

Follow this link if you want to take action:

Here are some points to consider:

The global gag rule interferes with the doctor/patient relationship. The policy imposed by President Bush bars overseas family planning providers from using their own money to even provide information to patients about the availability of safe, legal abortion in their own countries. Those agencies that don’t offer abortions are prohibited from counseling women about the procedure as an option and from referring women to a place that does provide it. Far from making the incidence of abortion more rare, it will make unsafe abortion even more widespread.

The global gag rule undermines reproductive health care worldwide. Family planning providers are facing a cruel choice: give up desperately needed funding or sacrifice their responsibilities to their patients and their rights to participate in the democratic process. Either choice will hurt the poorest women in the world. On the one hand, sacrificing the funding will deny women the access to services they have come to rely upon. On the other, giving up the ability to provide full and accurate information and the right to participate in policy debates means that unsafe abortion will go unaddressed – even in countries in which abortion is legal – and women will be denied possible lifesaving information.

Women in power

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

– The oppression of women’s human rights, of their freedom to make their own reproductive decisions and of their education all lead to problems. One of these problems is overpopulation which drives many of the other elements of the Perfect Storm Hypothesis. So, it is encouraging to see that women are making gains in some of the world’s nations. This article is from New Zealand, which was the first nation to give women the vote.

– In 1952, the UN opened The Convention for the Political Rights of Women for signatures by its member nations. It took the US until 8 Apr 1976 to join this treaty by accession.

– In 1980, a more comprehensive treaty called The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was opened for signatures and ratification by the UN member states. To date, the United States is the only industrial nation which has not signed ths treaty.


The proportion of female politicians around the world has increased with countries such as New Zealand leading the way.

New Zealand’s Parliament is 33.05 per cent female (40 out of 121 MPs) compared with a global figure of 17 per cent – up nearly 6 percentage points in the past decade.

Original story:

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Women’s Rights

Friday, February 16th, 2007

– Aside from the oh so obvious fact that it is just plain wrong to tell half the human race they are inferior just because men have bigger muscles than they do, the discrimination and marginalization of women has many consequences which hurt us all; men and women alike.

– It is wrong culturally, it is wrong politically and it is wrong from a survival POV because the marginalization of women hastens the coming Perfect Storm.

– You will find this article, referred to below, an excellent reference on this vitally important topic.

Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.

– from Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354

– And finally note that the United States is one of the few nations in the world, and the only industrial nation, to not have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). More on where the US falls short here:


Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator of understanding global well-being. Many may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some people may think this is no longer an issue at all. But reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will show otherwise.