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COVID-19 has Pushed Women Peacebuilders from Key Leadership Roles — Global Issues

Scenes from a rehearsal session with Colombia’s Cantadora Network, a network of singers using traditional Afro-Colombian music to preserve their culture and promote peace. According to the Global Network of Women Peacebuilder, funds are being diverted from women-led peacebuilding organisations, and from peacebuilding processes more broadly. Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown
  • by Samira Sadeque (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

Santos spoke with IPS after the Wednesday, Oct. 28 webinar “Beyond the Pandemic: Opening the Doors to Women’s Meaningful Participation”. At the conference,  policymakers and analysts spoke about ways to ensure that women have more leadership roles in society.

Santos was responding specifically to comments by Kavya Asoka, executive director of the NGO Working Group (NGOWG) on Women, Peace and Security, who said that women should not be allotted to “any participation” but “meaningful participation” in peacemaking decisions. 

Yifat Susskind, executive director of Madre: Fighting for Feminist Futures, told IPS that women have been holding leadership positions in policymaking for a long time. Thus, while addressing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, women must be given “the space to offer their expertise to shape policy responses,” she said.

During the webinar, Jeanine Antoinette Plasschaert, special representative of the secretary-general for Iraq and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, highlighted the importance of taking into account the social, economic, political and historical contexts when engaging women in leadership roles. 

The current coronavirus pandemic adds to the challenges.

“Our partners report that funds are being diverted from women-led peacebuilding organisations, and from peacebuilding processes more broadly,” Santos told IPS. “For example, in Colombia, women peacebuilders report that COVID-19 has served as an excuse to divert funds away from the transitional justice mechanisms.”

She added that another challenge is also the digital divide, which affects women disproportionately. This is exacerbated by the fact that not all peacebuilding work can be performed over the Internet – such as reconciliation work, dialogues between conflicting communities and support to trauma survivors – which can’t be easily moved to the virtual space owing to their “delicate and sensitive nature”.

“At the same time, the pandemic has also shown the incredible resilience of women peacebuilders and women’s movements,” she said. “Despite the digital barrier, women have continued to organise, and find innovative ways to use the internet and other communication means to continue their work.”

Excerpts of the interviews with Susskind and Santos follow:

IPS: What entails meaningful participation of women in the peacebuilding processes?

Yifat Susskind (YS): Women must have more than a seat at the table in formal peace negotiations. They must also have the power and influence to set the agenda, ensuring that gender impacts are addressed as a priority and bringing community demands to the forefront. Crucially, this access must be available to grassroots women peacebuilders rooted in frontline communities, who have a deep well of knowledge about war’s impacts at home, who can help build community trust in the peace process, and who can ensure that any resulting peace agreement is implemented at the ground level.

Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos (AFS): The most common understanding of “meaningful participation” is that it’s the kind of participation that allows women to actually impact the outcomes of peace negotiations and other processes.

It also means participation of diverse women, and participation of women at all levels. Women need to be included in decision-making bodies and peacebuilding processes at the local, national, regional and international levels. Further, when we talk about women’s participation we have to think of women from all walks of life – refugee and internally displaced women, indigenous and ethnic minority women, young women, women with disabilities, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans women, etc.

IPS: MADRE focuses especially on climate change and how rural women are most affected by this. How have they been affected during the coronavirus pandemic?

YS:Rural women worldwide on the frontlines of climate change are forced to confront daily its worst impacts, typically carrying the heaviest burden as those responsible for providing families with food, water, and household fuel. The coronavirus pandemic has only deepened this burden of care work on women and girls.

Lockdowns have shut down markets, limiting the availability of food and making it impossible for many rural women to sell livestock, crops, and wares. The lack of income, combined with the spike in food prices and the continued effects of the climate crisis, has made food scarce for many families.

IPS: GNWP involves women from countries around the world. How do you address the diverse set of challenges they face from different parts of the world?

AFS: A key aspect of our work is to elevate the voices, recommendations and practical solutions of women peacebuilders to global policy spaces. We do this through research, as well as by creating spaces and opportunities for women peacebuilders to share their perspectives and recommendations directly with global policy makers.

But equally, if not more, important is the other aspect of our work – global to local. Localisation of Women, Peace and Security is one of flagship programmes of GNWP. It brings together local women, youth and representatives of other historically marginalised groups, as well as religious and traditional leaders and local authorities — mayors, governors, councillors, etc. Together, they analyse their local context and the relevance of the global resolutions and national policies on WPS to it. They identify concrete measures to translate these global and national laws into tangible actions and impacts on the ground.

Localisation also leads to institutionalisation of the commitments to WPS, and to harmonisation of the existing laws and policies on gender equality, women’s rights and peace and security. We have seen it yield concrete impacts and results across the world – for example, inclusion of women in traditional conflict resolution councils in the Philippines, increased SGBV reporting in Uganda, etc.

IPS: What are some ways to ensure women are given leadership roles in addressing the pandemic?

YS: We must first recognise that at the community level, women are already vital leaders in pandemic response: caring for people who become sick, ensuring food for their families, organising their communities and more. Many are trusted, longtime activists who understand deeply and specifically the needs of their communities and who are known locally as reliable sources of support and information. We must ensure that these women — including those in hard-hit places like refugee camps and climate disaster zones — have the space to offer their expertise to shape policy responses.

What’s more, since long before the pandemic, grassroots feminists worldwide have grappled with the need to meet urgent needs while simultaneously working towards long-term, systemic solutions. Learning from these approaches, policymakers can implement emergency relief efforts, whether distributing food or providing health information, while setting the stage for long-term recovery. This means continually reasserting the need for a shift in the values driving our policies, amplifying feminist approaches of collective work and community care.

AFS: Women are already leading the responses to COVID-19. From mobilising and organising humanitarian responses in their communities, to drafting Feminist Recovery Plans (for example in Northern Ireland), to monitoring the ceasefires and the implementation of peace agreements.

What is sorely lacking is their inclusion in decision-making about the pandemic recovery. We spoke to women peacebuilders and civil society across the world, and we have consistently seen that women are being excluded from COVID-19 Task Forces and planning committees. Globally women make up less than a quarter of such committees (according to CARE). One way to ensure that women are given leadership roles is to guarantee that all COVID-19 Task Forces and Committees include at least 50 percent of women. This must include women from the civil society, who are at the forefront of COVID-19 response; and women in all their diversity.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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The Exploitative System that Traps Nigerian Women as Slaves in Lebanon — Global Issues

Nigerian migrants arrive in Lagos from Libya. Nigeria has, in the last two years, evacuated thousands of its citizens from Libya and Lebanon after they suffered several forms of abuses, including enslavement. Trafficking has resulted in at least 80,000 Nigerian women being held as sex slaves and forced labour in the Middle East. Credit: Sam Olukoya/IPS
  • by Sam Olukoya (lagos, nigeria)
  • Inter Press Service

Obasi is just one of thousands of young Nigerian women trafficked to Lebanon with false promises of a better life. The Lagos-based New Telegraph newspaper quoted a source in the Nigerian embassy in Lebanon as saying that some 4,541 Nigerian women were trafficked to the country last year. The chair of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described the rate at which Nigerian women are trafficked to Lebanon as “an epidemic”.

After sustaining injuries in the blast, Obasi tried to return to Nigeria but she and four others were stopped at the airport under the exploitative Kafala system.

The system, which is widely practiced in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East, prohibits migrant workers from returning to their countries without the permission of their employer.

“Lebanon’s restrictive and exploitative kafala system traps tens of thousands of migrant domestic workers in potentially harmful situations by tying their legal status to their employer, enabling highly abusive conditions amounting at worst to modern-day slavery,” according to Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. The rights organisation called for a revised contract that recognises and protects workers’ internationally guaranteed rights.

In late May, Nigeria attempted to repatriate 60 trafficked women from Lebanon but only 50 could return home. Anti-trafficking activists in the Middle East said the remaining 10 women were held back in Lebanon under the Kafala system.

The Kafala system operates alongside a system that enslaves trafficked women. In April, a Lebanese man posted an advert under the “Buy and Sell in Lebanon” Facebook group. “Domestic worker from Nigeria for sale with new legal document, she is 30 years old, she is very active and very clean,” the advert said in Arabic. The price tag was $1,000.

An outcry from Nigeria forced Lebanese authorities to rescue the woman while a man thought to be responsible for the Facebook post was arrested. The Lebanese Ministry of Labour said the man would be tried in court for human trafficking.

But this is not an isolated case. Many Nigerian women trafficked to the Middle East have spoken out about being sold as slaves.

In January, 23-year-old Ajayi Omolola appeared in an online video saying she and a few other Nigerian women were being held under harsh conditions and that their lives were at risk.

“When we are ill, they don’t take us to the hospital, some of those I arrived in Lebanon with have died,” she said.

Omolola said on arrival in Lebanon, her passport was taken away and she was “sold”.

“I did not realise that they had sold me into slavery,” she said, adding that she only realised the gravity of her situation when her boss told her she could not return to Nigeria because he had “bought her”.

Kikelomo Olayide had a similar account. On arrival in Lebanon from Nigeria she was taken to a market. “In that market, they call us slaves,” she said.

Roland Nwoha, head of programmes/coordinator of migration and human trafficking at Idia Renaissance, a Nigerian organisation working to discourage irregular migration and human trafficking, told IPS that even though Europe is a major attraction for Nigerians in search of a better future abroad, the Middle East is proving an alternative for many.

Nwoha explained that unlike the journey to Europe, which involves a dangerous land journey through the desert and an equally dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, traffickers fly their victims to the Middle East after procuring visas for them with the promise of good jobs.

The chair of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe said 80,000 Nigerian women are being held as sex slaves,and forced labour in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Nigerian women trafficked to the Middle East “almost always end in labour and sexual exploitation,” Daniel Atokolo Lagos commander of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons said.

Gloria Bright, a Nigerian teacher who was promised a teaching job with a monthly salary of $1,000 in Lebanon, was held captive and made to work as a domestic worker upon her arrival. She posted an online video in which she pleaded for help and to be rescued. She said besides being made to work under very harsh conditions, her boss sexually harassed her. “At times he will ask me to massage him, he will hug me, he will kiss me,” she said.

Bright was fortunate to be rescued by Nigerian authorities before the Aug. 4 Beirut blast.

Dabiri-Erewa said the trafficking of Nigerians to Lebanon “is becoming a big embarrassment and it has to be stopped”. In an effort to stop the crime, Nigerian authorities have arrested several people, including Lebanese residents in Nigeria. A Lebanese is being investigated in connection with the trafficking of 27 women to Lebanon, two of whom have been rescued.

The Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, says his embassy is assisting the Nigerian government to stop the trafficking of women to his country. He said the issuance of work visas to Nigerians has been suspended following cases of the abuse of Nigerian women at the hands of their Lebanese employers.

The ambassador said the Lebanese Ministry of Labour will work out a “legal and systemic way to make domestic staff to come into Lebanon legally without the fear of inhuman treatment”.

Nigerian activists, like Nwoha, who are working against human trafficking say the Nigerian government has to do more to curtailing the activities of the traffickers. They said the government should make conditions at home better to stop Nigerians desperately seeking a better life abroad.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Myanmar’s Protection Bill falls Short of Addressing Violence against Women — Global Issues

Rights experts say that the Myanmar government “has long shown a lack of commitment to breaking the cycle of impunity for widespread sexual and gender-based violence”. This is a dated photo of women travelling on a crowded train in Myanmar. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
  • by Samira Sadeque (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

Myanmar is soon to see the latest version of its Prevention of and Protection from Violence Against Women (PoVAW) introduced in parliament. But the Global Justice Centre (GJC), an international human rights and humanitarian law organisation focusing on advancing gender equality, has pointed out that the legislation falls short of addressing violence against women.

According to GJC, the language used in the law borrows from Myanmar’s 1861 Penal Code and thus perpetuates antiquated understandings of rape, such as; considering rape as violence committed only by men, the definition of “rape” constituting only of vaginal penetration, and no acknowledgement of marital rape.

“The Myanmar government has long shown a lack of commitment to breaking the cycle of impunity for widespread sexual and gender-based violence, a problem that is exacerbated by broader structural barriers with respect to Myanmar’s military justice system, and a lack of robust domestic options for accountability,” the GJC analysis has claimed.

Last week, Khin Ohmar, an exiled human rights advocate from Myanmar and founder and chairperson of the advisory board of Progressive Voice — a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organisation rooted in civil society, with strong links to grassroots and community-based organisations throughout Myanmar — shared how sexual violence in the country is used in a “systematic pattern to target ethnic women and girls”.

Ohmar was speaking at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, where she further reiterated how the military in Myanmar has carried out “unspeakable crimes” against ethnic minorities in the country.

Meanwhile, GJC has also published a list of recommendations that leaders can follow to ensure the law is comprehensive as well as applicable in today’s time.

IPS had a conversation with Akila Radhakrishnan, president of GJC, on the issue. Some parts have been edited for clarity purposes.

Inter Press Service (IPS): The year is 2020. How is Myanmar only now introducing the Prevention of Violence against Women Law (PoVAW)?

Akila Radhakrishnan (AK): There’s been a couple of things – I think the lack of will is a starting point. This is something consistently being pushed for by women in civil society since about 2013.

It has been raised as an issue and a part of the reason it’s such a priority is because the original laws we’re talking about date back to 1861.

We’re really talking about laws that haven’t been updated so with the political transition there was a moment when women in civil society saw the opportunity to think it’s time we had a comprehensive law on violence against women, updating progressive positions in the penal code and bring in things like protective orders or a more robust categorisations of kinds of sexual and other types of violence.

And in some ways, the military continues to perpetrate mass sexual violence. Some of the key things that civil society has been pushing for is bringing the military under a mandate of the law, which is antithetical to the military’s interest as well.

IPS: Despite Aung San Suu Kyi being the leader of the country, why are there still discrepancies in the legislation?

AK: Aung San Suu Kyi is no feminist. She has certainly in the past made stronger statements on sexual violence than she currently takes on but she’s very much seen certain types of political reform as her priority. If you look at the trajectory of the laws that were initially passed through the transition, most of the laws were really wound around issues that enabled foreign investment, for example.

There were certain laws that were due to be changed around issues such as certain types of press freedoms, many of which have been regressing in recent times in any case. There was never kind of a feminist priority set from the leadership.

There were certainly some amazing feminists who got elected, including from local women’s civil society who were elected to parliament. They even felt they’ll have the power to set what are the priorities to be passed, to be considered to be looked at in the context of a country that has a range of reforms that need to be undertaken.

Another issue is that it’s been really slow going in the part of some of the agencies that are involved in this as well such as others, such as the attorney general’s office, department of social welfare. There’s a complicated range of actors involved in the development of the law and in the pushback against the law as well

IPS: Where would you say the PoVAW law lacks most glaringly and needs to be most urgently addressed?

AK: Probably the most urgent one is the places where they continue to cling to the penal code and not really think through how to amend it. They kind of cling to the penal code definition of rape itself – it refuses to let go of rape as it was defined in the 1861 penal code.

We detail a range of issues with that specific definition. And a major part of the impetus was to say our more modern definitions of rape, that are more inclusive, that are gender neutral and have better definitions of consent and at the end of the day you’re creating this whole process and you’re clinging to something that’s there.

And related to that is issues such as marital rape as a crime that is somewhat separate from rape, it’s a lesser crime, a lesser penalty and you know that also stems out of an antiquated mindset.

IPS: Is this legislation only for cisgendered women?

AK: There’s a little bit of a tension there. The law itself is a violence against women law and that’s in the framework it’s been developed over quite a bit of time, so there’s been tension wanting to certainly to try to make the law as inclusive as possible really thinking through how difficult it is to even bring this to fruition.

In this moment, it’s important to try to think of how you take an intersectional inclusive approach to this. But unfortunately we’re going to end up only with a VAW framework so we want to at least within that context — and this is really belying on the expertise of groups that do this work better than we do — to really think through how to make something like this as inclusive as possible.

IPS: There are many ethnic minorities in Myanmar, many who often flee the country. How are ethnic minorities targeted for violence and sexual violence?

AK: The military uses sexual violence as a tactic weapon in its conflict, as its violent actions against all ethnic minorities. It is a systematic pattern — one that is met with impunity which is why legal reforms and accountability are so important. 

IPS: What are your hopes for the steps ahead for the PoVAW law?

AK: The law is an important step forward but in order for it to be a meaningful step forward it actually needs to take into account — and through the process be amended — so it meets international standards, and addresses some of the key issues with the law itself. Otherwise you get kind of a patchwork law where a lot of time and energy has been put into it, but it’s not going to achieve what it could’ve achieved to actually come in line with international standards.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Léa Seydoux says women in new Bond not there to ‘please’ his sexuality

Lea Seydoux stars in upcoming Bond film No Time To Die (Picture: AFP)

Léa Seydoux, star of upcoming James Bond film No Time To Die, has spoken out on what a Bond girl is in 2020.

And what she’s said is right on.

First, some context: the actress will reprise the role of Dr. Madeleine Swann in the film, out later this year.

She played the same role in the last movie, 2015’s Spectre.

Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar, Léa insisted her character and the film’s other female characters are not there to please Bond’s sexuality.

‘What we forget is that James Bond is also a sexual object,’ Lea proposed.

‘He’s totally a sexual object. He’s one of the few, maybe one of the only, male characters to be sexualized.

‘I think that women, they love to see Bond, no? To see his body. No? Don’t you think?’

The star is known for films such as Blue Is the Warmest Colour (Picture: David Fisher/REX)
Lea also starred in No time To Die (Picture: MGM / BACKGRID)

This is nothing if not food for thought.

‘We are not here to please Bond’s sexuality,’ she added.

More: James Bond

Other actresses to play Bond Girls in recent decades include Gemma Arterton, Halle Berry, Denise Richards and Teri Hatcher.

No Time To Die – which has had its release pushed back because of the Coronavirus – will also feature writing credits from Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

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If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the entertainment team by emailing us [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.

MORE: James Bond 2020: When is No Time To Die’s new UK release date after coronavirus pandemic forced its delay?

MORE: James Bond guns worth £100,000 and used in movies are stolen from North London home

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Birmingham murders: Police arrest man after two women stabbed to death

A 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a double murder after two women were found stabbed to death in neighbouring houses.

Detectives described the incident in Birmingham as “domestic-related” and said they believed the suspect and the victims were known to each other.

The first woman, aged 43, was found with stab injuries after officers were called to house in the Mosely area of the city at 11am on Monday.

She was pronounced dead at the scene in Belle Walk from stab injuries.

A second woman, aged 52, was found seriously injured in the house next door and died shortly after arriving at hospital.

West Midlands Police said they had launched a double murder inquiry. 

“The tragic events of this morning appear to be domestic related as it’s thought the suspect and the two victims are known to each other,” said Detective Inspector Nick Barnes.

“We’ve closed the area while forensic examinations are carried out and we’ve got specially trained officers supporting the families at this devastating time.

“Two women have lost their lives and we’re doing all we can to understand the circumstances of this tragedy.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said two ambulances, an advanced paramedic in a critical care car and the West Midlands CARE Team were sent to the scene.

“On arrival, crews found one woman who was sadly confirmed deceased on scene,” the WMAS said in a statement.

“A second woman sustained serious injuries and was in a critical condition. She was given advanced life support before being taken by land ambulance on blue lights to hospital.

“Sadly, despite the best efforts, nothing could be done to save her, and she was confirmed dead at hospital a short time later.”

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CCW class for black women at Cincinnati church draws big crowd

ROSELAWN, Ohio – New Prospect Baptist Church is home to one of the largest black congregations in Cincinnati. On any weekend there you’ll find weddings, funerals, and three Sunday services.

Not exactly a place you think you’d find 179 women firing .22-caliber handguns in the church basement.

But that’s exactly what happened on Feb. 8, when the church opened its doors to what state officials believe is one of the largest women-only, concealed carry gun certification classes held in the state of Ohio. 

Over and over, the women cited the same reason for coming to the class. They were tired of being scared – of guns, of being alone in a home, of walking in some neighborhoods. 

Ariel Gresham, left,  Nancy Robb, both of Finneytown hold an unloaded revolver during an all-female concealed carry and weapons class Saturday, February 8, 2020, at New Prospect Baptist Church in Roselawn sponsored Arm the Populace.

Karen Bolden, 56, was so scared of her husband’s guns she asked him to get rid of them when they got married two years ago. He did, but she’s working to conquer her fear. When Bolden’s sister alerted her to the class – and suggested they go together – she jumped at the chance.

“This is why this class is so important,” Bolden said. “We can’t be afraid.”

The class was organized by two men: the church’s pastor Rev. Damon Lynch III and Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor, a Republican who appeared at the class sporting a t-shirt reading “All gun control is racist.” 

On Jan. 8, Pastor spread the word of the class on Facebook. 

“FREE All Women CCW Course! After hearing about those girls in Columbus being kidnapped and other young ladies around the country being sold into sex trafficking, rape, domestic violence, and other acts of violence against women, I felt the only thing I could do is host another free basic gun course for all women!”   

Within a week, the class was sold out.

Two hundred women signed up. Despite an early morning snowfall that made driving treacherous, 179 women turned out for the class, all with varying comfort levels with guns. Some had never touched one. Others owned a gun, but wanted the license needed to carry it with them. Some came because their moms or sisters or friends suggested it.

The class was taught by certified CCW licensing firm Arm the Populace. It was an intense, nine-hour class, complete with a built-just-for-the class shooting range in an empty storage area above the church’s community center.

Opinion:Don’t pit slavery descendants against black immigrants. Racism doesn’t know the difference.

Women paid $25 each to cover the cost of the space, cheaper than the typical $65 class fee.

Arm the Populace, a Cincinnati-based company that offers firearms and personal defense training, donated its time. It billed the class as the largest CCW class of all women ever in Ohio.

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which keeps CCW records, said the office does not track class size, but from his experience, 179 women in a class could be the largest. The office does not keep CCW permit statistics by race.  

A Pew Research Center report in 2017 delved into “America’s complex relationship with guns.” It found gun ownership varied considerably by race and gender. About four-in-ten men (39%) said they personally owned a gun, compared with 22% of women. And while 36% of whites reported that they were gun owners, only about a quarter of blacks and 15% of Hispanics said they own a gun.

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More than half of women in Zimbabwe have faced sextortion, finds survey | Global development

Zimbabwe has recorded an unprecedented number of women reporting being forced to exchange sex for employment or business favours.

More than 57% of women surveyed by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said they had been forced to offer sexual favours in exchange for jobs, medical care and even when seeking placements at schools for their children.

The report, seen by the Guardian, found women in the informal sector experienced sextortion as the main form of non-monetary bribes by various officials.

About 45% of women said they had received requests for sexual favours to access a service and 15% had used sex to get employment. The report, entitled Gender and Corruption, found women were increasingly vulnerable to sexual abuse amid the deteriorating Zimbabwean economy.

“57.5% of these respondents noted that sexual favours are the form of non-monetary bribe they had experienced. Sextortion is thus a part of the bribery culture in Zimbabwe. Women who do not have money to pay for bribes are thus forced to use sex as a form of payment. 15% used employment favours as a form of bribery,” reads the report.

Women in business were also found to have faced sexual harassment when seeking government tenders.

“At times you get asked for sexual favours in return for tenders or business. What makes the situation difficult, especially for state contracts, is how women in business are perceived by men in control of these processes. When they see a woman, for most of them sex is the first thing that comes to their mind. Hence women are sexualised and seen as sex-preneurs rather than entrepreneurs,” TIZ reports.

Studies carried out by TIZ in 2019 showed women are vulnerable to sexual abuse when seeking land for residential, business or agricultural use.

Sextortion is a global phenomenon that causes serious harm, robbing women of dignity and opportunity, and undermining confidence in public institutions, according to rights groups.

Zimbabwe ranks 158 out of 180 countries included in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.

“Sex is a currency in many corrupt deals in Zimbabwe. Sexual harassment is institutionalised, and women have been suffering for a long time. There is need to actively deal with all forms of sexual harassment in all sectors,” says the report.

The study shows women are being coerced into corruption, while many fear reporting sextortionists as some police are thought to be part of the corruption chain.

“For some respondents it was fear of reprisal that stopped them from reporting whilst others indicated that there was no reward for reporting corruption. Regarding sextortion, respondents cited the justice system as too masculine, hence they opted not to report.

“All the key informants who took part in the research indicated that Zimbabwe lacks a robust corruption reporting system. They also highlighted the need for a system to promote and protect whistleblowers,” TIZ reported.

“Even the police officers require some form of payment to help you. They may ask for transport or fuel to enable them to investigate. In the end they also get bribed by the perpetrators.”

Globally, the poor suffer most from extortion, paying the highest percentage of their income in bribes, according to the World Bank. Zimbabwe loses close to $2bn (£1.5bn) to corruption annually.

Although Zimbabwe has made progress in advancing gender equality through the establishment of various institutional, legal and policy frameworks, the country still ranks low on the UN gender inequality index. Sexual extortion is rarely recognised as a form of corruption, yet gender activists say it reduces women’s access to land and markets and reinforces social and economic marginalisation.

Lack of political will to deal with corruption has frustrated the efforts of the Zimbabwe anti-corruption commission, which has a mandate to investigate corruption cases in the country.

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Women injured after double stabbing in Hindley | UK news

One woman has been seriously injured in a double stabbing in Greater Manchester, while another has sustained minor injuries.

Emergency services were called to the incident in Hindley at about 10.30am on Saturday.

A North West ambulance spokeswoman confirmed that two air ambulances were sent to the scene and the women, both believed to be in their 20s, were taken to hospital. One of the women had since been discharged with minor injuries while the other was still receiving treatment, police said.

Greater Manchester police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection to the attack, which it added was not being treated as terror related.

Photos circulating on social media showed a police cordon in place while emergency services worked at the scene.

Yunus Mulla

Two women stabbed and seriously injured in #hindley . Road closed . [email protected]

December 14, 2019

Atherton Road, where the attack occurred, was closed for a few hours, but had since reopened.

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Finnish minister sorry for Instagram poll on IS women

Katri Kulmuni, 12 Dec 19Image copyright

Image caption

Katri Kulmuni’s controversial online poll hit a raw nerve in Finnish politics

A Finnish minister has apologised for an Instagram post which asked readers whether children should be repatriated with their mothers from a Syrian camp housing Islamic State-linked people.

Newly appointed Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni tweeted “I apologise for the poll”. And she has now deleted it.

The poll, which asked people to vote either “children only” or “children and mothers”, drew much criticism.

About 10 women and 30 children at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp are Finnish.

Several Western governments have already repatriated some children from al-Hol and other camps in northern Syria holding foreigners linked to IS. Generally they are the families of IS jihadists killed, wounded or missing in the civil war.

But politicians are struggling over the issue: most recognise that young children are victims of war, but there are fears that many mothers are indoctrinated with violent jihadist ideology.

The nationalist Finns Party – in opposition, but the second-biggest party in parliament – opposes such repatriations.

Image copyright

Image caption

Displaced families linked to IS live in squalid conditions at al-Hol camp

Ms Kulmuni, 32, said: “I wanted to discuss this complex and difficult issue on social media. It failed and I apologise for it.”

She heads the Centre Party in a new coalition government led by women, which took office this week.

The Instagram post was tweeted by Helsinki-based Egan Richardson on Thursday.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has said children cannot be repatriated without their mothers because the Syrian Kurdish forces running the camps oppose separating them.

Finland’s interior ministry says 20 people who went to the conflict zones in Iraq and Syria from Finland have returned.

“It is estimated that ten Finnish adults and about 30 children are currently living in the al-Hol camp,” a ministry statement said.

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The Finnish government says it is trying to supply food and medicines to the Finnish citizens there, but is not actively helping any of them to return.

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Bollywood’s Rani Mukerji wants women to protect themselves amid devastating rape crisis

Rani Mukerji is hoping new Bollywood film Mardaani 2 sparks a huge change in India, amid a devastating rape crisis.

In the sequel – which is released in cinemas on 13 December, the 41-year-old reprises her role as police officer Shivani – who attempts to hunt down a young serial killer, targeting young women, brutally raping and murdering them.

The movie comes after similar crimes have been devastating India, with reports of young girls being raped making worldwide news on a weekly basis.

And, speaking to about the film, Rani hopes that it will encourage women to protect themselves from attackers, by learning ‘self-defence’.

‘The most important change I would like to see is that women use their platforms to talk about what we can do, and how we can learn certain self-defence tricks to be able to protect them from difficult situations,’ she told us.

‘We need to accept that we are facing this reality today, which is horrendous and scary, but it’s the reality today so we have to deal with it, and face it with a lot of courage.

Rani is starring in Mardaani 2 (Picture: Yash Raj Films)

‘I think that’s the change I’m looking for.

‘There are people in power who can learn something, and become part of the discussion, that would be mean so much to me as an actor. At the end of the day I’m a woman, and these things do bother me. How do you talk to the nation and tell them to be aware?’

Rani has come under fire for similar comments in the past, following a round-table discussion with her fellow Bollywood actresses.

During the chat, she again suggested young girls should learn self-defence as a method of protection, with Deepika Padukone arguing that it shouldn’t even ‘get to that stage.

Rani hopes the film opens up a discussion on rape (Picture: Yash Raj Films)

Fans were unhappy with Rani’s words, explaining that women shouldn’t be the ones to change.

But the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai actress is adamant that women should not be ‘caught’ in that situation, and hopes to show females that they also have ‘power’ in scary situations.

‘Shivani’s character is the true embodiment of women empowerment,’ she continued. ‘When women and girls see her, they get empowered.

‘When you’re talking about victims, you always think a woman is a victim, but women have the power as well.

Rani insisted men will also feel empowered while watching Mardaani 2 (Picture: Yash Raj Films)

‘We have to start the conversation with every woman so that she’s not caught in a situation like that.’

And she also insists that men will also feel empowered while watching Mardaani 2 – which shows a strong female hunting down a violent rapist, reiterating that not all men are capable of the horrific crimes portrayed.

‘Men will take the same message,’ she said. ‘I don’t think, as a community, that all men are the perpetrators of the crime.

‘There are a lot of men who stand for women’s rights and empowerment, a lot of men who are disgusted when crimes like this happen, so I’m sure men will also appreciate the talk about empowering themselves.

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‘Men will equally be very proud of the fact that women are being empowered.’

And she is thrilled the film is starting a conversation that should have been sparked a long, long time ago.

‘[The reaction] has been very, very positive. People are reacting to it very emotionally. It’s sparking a conversation, which is really powerful,’ she added.

‘This is the conversation we should be having.’

Mardaani 2 is released in cinemas on 13 December.

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