This No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) news digest rounds up some of the week’s top FGM & Women’s Rights stories for the week ending 26 February:
UN, ICRC Address Sexual, Gender-Based Violence in Conflict Situations
Voice of America, 26 Feb 2019
Heads of the United Nations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement are pledging more action to prevent and end sexual and gender-based violence during conflicts. In Geneva, two humanitarian groups announced they have launched an effort to end the use of rape as a weapon of war. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he has met many victims of rape and brutal sexual violence in war zones from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the former Yugoslavia. Guterres says he has heard firsthand accounts from Rohingya refugees who were gang-raped while trying to escape violence in Myanmar.
The Future of Women in Afghanistan
The National Interest, 26 Feb 2019
Among the important concerns that should be raised about the proposed ceasefire between the Trump administration and the Taliban—and the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops—is the future of women in Afghanistan. There remains an unacceptable risk that without U.S. forces there to uphold U.S. interests and values, the Taliban will resume its unacceptable treatment of Afghan women. For example, Ryan Crocker, who served as ambassador to six Muslim countries including Afghanistan, argues that although women made extraordinary gains in education, business, in the legislature, and elsewhere in society, those gains are fragile and only possible if the United States defends core values, such as women’s rights. Instead, the current framework, which was reached without the involvement of the Afghan government, feels like a surrender, Crocker argues. What makes this surrender particularly grave is what is going to happen to Afghan women after we leave.
How the global gag rule undermines Ivanka Trump’s plan to empower women
Vox, 25 Feb 2019
Ivanka Trump has her next project. The president’s daughter and senior adviser is heading the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which seeks to economically empower women in foreign countries. The project is launching with funding from the US Agency for International Development and will eventually give up to $300 million to 10 US government agencies to help a projected 50 million women around the world become economically independent by 2025. “American women demonstrate every day that when women are free to thrive and prosper, they create jobs, strengthen our communities, and bring greater peace and prosperity to our nation and all over the world,” President Donald Trump said in the Oval Office two weeks ago when he signed a memorandum establishing the project and dedicating an initial $50 million.
440 women were killed in 2018 in Turkey: Women’s rights group
Hurriyet Daily News, 25 Feb 2019
A staggering 440 women were killed in Turkey in 2018, according to an organization that keeps a tally of femicides across the country. Of this number, 131 were logged as “shady deaths,” in which there is no blatant connection between the cause or reason and the death. But women’s rights groups have long blamed authorities for failing these women by ignoring circumstances and factors that may have led to the murders. Some 43 women were killed just in January of this year, a report by Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicide Platform) stressed, adding that the bodies of seven out of the 43 women were found in lakes, streams or buried in the woods.
Sierra Leone’s first lady criticized over FGM comments
Anadolou Agency, 25 Feb 2019
Activists in Sierra Leone and the Gambia have criticized recent comments by Sierra Leone’s first lady on female genital mutilation (FGM). First Lady Fatima Bio in a television interview on Sunday in Banjul, the Gambia said that there are other more important issues to discuss on women rights, in response to a question on the cultural practice rooted in Africa. “I am a circumcised woman. I have had three successful deliveries without complications,” she said, adding that she had not faced any complication due to FGM. “The campaigners need to show me convincing statistics of women and girls who have been affected by the practice especially in The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Children to be taught the dangers of female genital mutilation
The Guardian, 24 Feb 2019
The dangers of female genital mutilation will be taught to all secondary school pupils in England from 2020 as part of a bold shake-up of relationships and sex education. New proposals will be presented to parliament on Monday which would see the curriculum reformed to include relationship education for primary age pupils and health education for pupils of all ages in state-funded schools. Secondary school pupils will also be taught about grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse. The new guidance stipulates that secondary schools should also address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM, raise awareness of the support available, and ensure that pupils know FGM is against the law.
Saudi Arabia appoints first female ambassador to United States
The Washington Post, 24 Feb 2019
Saudi Arabia has appointed Princess Reema bint Bandar, a former business executive and philanthropist who lived in the United States for more than two decades, as the country’s next ambassador to Washington. She is Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador. Her appointment, which was announced in a royal decree late Saturday, was the latest sign of the kingdom’s effort to rehabilitate its image in the United States after U.S. lawmakers censured the Saudi leadership for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, and the arrests and alleged torture of Saudi women’s rights activists.