Tag Archives: women’s rights

Sex, Women’s Rights And Political Nastiness In South Africa

The politics of nastiness is strong in South Africa these days as open clashes occur between Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance and Jacob Zuma, the newly elected president of the nation and his African National Congress. Zille continues to blast Zuma for his record of being blatantly sexist while now herself being charged with ignoring women’s rights in selecting members of her Cabinet. Allan Boesak of the newly founded Congress of the People, (Cope) urges both Zille and Zuma to tone down their political debate. “What South Africa and here people do not need now is political discourse conducted at the level of personal attacks rather than responsible arguments.”

Boesak reminds Zille and other opponents of Zuma that the vast majority of the nation voted for the African National Congress and it was time to end personal attacks and get back to the issues facing society. In many respects, this clash is similar to Republican attacks on President Clinton and his sexual escapades which eventually got out of hand and became caught in impeachment proceedings that tore apart the country.

Jacob Zuma is undoubtedly a man whose past experiences reveal lack of respect for women and their dignity as individuals. Helen Zille is a fighter for democracy, but selecting an all white, all male Cabinet is insulting to both women and black skinned people.

Islam Of Allah Or Islam Of Mullah?

Bollywood film star, Shahrukh Khan recently commented there was a an “Islam of Allah and there was an Islam for the mullah, but unfortunately in Afghanistan these days the mullahs make decisions and Allah is not present. As the presidential election was drawing near, President Karzai, who years previously claimed to be in favor of equal rights for women, suddenly flip flopped and agreed to a law that makes legitimate non-consenual sex in a marriage because it requires women to “give a positive response”to the sexual desires of their husband. The law was obviously written by a group of mullahs because it does not allow women to leave the house with hubby’s permission or go to school unless the lord and master of the house agrees to such frivolous activities. It is not that President Karzai is an evil man, he simply will agree to anyone or anything that gets him votes. In 2008, he refused to act when a 23 year-old journalism student was condemned to death for downloading an essay dealing with women rights. In fairness, President Karzai did something, he got the sentence reduced to a twenty year prison term. It is for such generous actions by Karzai that American continues its support of the man with the backbone of a chocolate eclair.

Hundreds of Afghan women are beaten by husbands, sexually abused and denied basic rights to an education but Karzai remains America’s favorite ruler in the country. Oh well, as former President Bush proclaimed: Mission Accomplished! The United States is supporting brutalization of women and legalized rape.

Violence Against Women In Turkey Still An Issue

Selma Atabek, a noted Turkish activist for women’s rights believes the fight to secure equal treatment for women in her country is tied into the broad struggle for women rights in all parts of the world. She cited the recent incident in which a German woman was accused of stealing $1.66 and lost her job as an example of the unequal treatment for women in most societies. Ms. Atabek notes the struggle to deal with domestic violence is an ongoing one in her land. The European Union funded the National Research Project on Domestic Violence Against Women in Turkey and data indicates at least 42% of women experience at least one example of physical violence during their lifetimes.

She pointed out in a recent interview that her focus in the 1980s was on winning basic political rights for Turkish women and that has witnessed great success. At that time, most men wanted women at home who obeyed them. “We started the first ‘Purple Needle’ campaign, in which needles with purple heads were distributed on the streets against sexual harassment. We even questioned our marriages…We discovered our right to be on the streets, not just during the day, but also at night.”

As so always when the fight for political rights is secured issues such as domestic violence or equal pay or equal job opportunities slide into the back. Ms. Atabek strongly denounced the very concept of “honor killing” as a denial of the rights of women. Although she does not wear the chador, Ms. Atabek strongly supports the right of women to wear a headscarf when attending colleges.

Turkey has made great strides in the fight for women rights, but several issues remain unsolved such as the constant presence of domestic violence.

Turkey”s Female Activists Remain Divided

Turkey’ Zaman newspaper interviewed a cross section of its nation’s women activists on the current state of women rights in Turkey. There is little evidence women are cooperating across religious or political or social lines despite recognition that success for one group may ultimately benefit all Turkish women. Canan Gullu, president of the secular Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, indicated a problem in cooperation was the desire of Muslim women groups to politicize women’s issues by making wearing of the headscarf an important issue. Turkish women currently can not wear the headscarf while attending a university. According to Mine Ilic, another secular leader, “It can be said that conservative women don’t stay in secular women’s groups for long. Among, the most important reasons for this are differences in opinion ideology.”

However, some women believe Turkish women must cease dividing into religious and secular groups. Liz Amada, of Women for Women’s Human Rights(WWHR) believes within any women group there is a sharp division of opinion regarding many issues and the so called divide may well be exaggerated. Religious women note although they support wearing the headscarf in universities that does not mean they oppose other ideas to enhance the power and prestige of women.

London Police Hit With Second Major Bias Case

The London Metropolitan police have been hit by a second case in which a major senior official charges prejudice. Yasmin Rehman, a Muslim women who is employed in a diversity role within the force said yesterday she was preparing an employment tribunal claim which was now at an advanced stage. Ms.Rehman devotes extensive time dealing with cases related to “honor killings” and forced marriages. She intends to claim there has been bullying in the workplace against her. Her intended denunciation of the Metropolitan police comes right after Tarique Ghaffur, Britain’s most senior Asian officer has made similar claims against Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

Scotland yard said it had no knowledge that Ms. Rehman is contemplating any charge against the force and described her as “a valued employee” adding “is she is contemplating an employment tribunal this would be a matter of regret.”

Perhaps, there is nothing to the charges leveled against Scotland Yard, but the fact two key officials are complaining about discrimination should be a matter of concern.

Iran Imprisons Women Activists

The Iranian government has sentenced four women’s rights activists to six months in jail, including one woman who recently received a $75,000 human rights award. It was the latest sign of a crackdown on female activists who are challenging the government’s record on human rights. According to Sussan Tahmashebi, “This is part of a backlash against women’s rights activists who demand equal rights in a patriarchal system.” Among the charges against women activists is their writing on the Internet which were deemed to be making slanderous remarks against the government. It is estimated at least 50 activists have been arrested during the past few years.

A major problem is the institutionalized discrimination against women. The fight for Iranian women rights in one sense is dependent on re-establishing contacts between western nations and the Iranian government. More contacts at least offer a possibility of helping to create a new generation of Iranian leadership.