Sisters of the Earth – This Week in Global Women’s News

December 17, 2004

Sisters of the Earth – This Week in Global Women’s News

Wangari Maathai for a Greener Tomorrow

Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, said in her 2004 acceptance speech, “There can be no peace without equitable development and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come. Industry and global institutions must appreciate that ensuring economic justice, equity and ecological integrity are of greater value than profits at any cost.”

In October media reported that Maathai had claimed the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent, but she has since denied making such a statement.

Why Some Afghan Women Prefer Death to Marriage

In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of news reports about suicides by self-immolation among Afghan women. “There is an absolute level of despair, that you will never be able to make a choice about your life and that really there is no way out, and knowing that you will have to live with a man you have not chosen, who is probably older than you are, who is not going to allow you to work, to go out of the house,” explained Rachel Wareham of L’Association Médicale Mondiale, or World Medical Association, an international physicians group. Self-immolation is a horrific act that often results in a slow, torturous death in hospital burn wards even as medical officials desperately struggle to save lives.

From: Women Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI)

“As the year 2004 is coming to an end, there are at least two women facing stoning in Iran and 10 teenagers facing executions by various means. Among the victims is a 19-year-old mentally disabled girl, Leyla, who was forced into prostitution by her mother. Leyla has been sentenced to be flogged and executed for ‘morality-related’ offences.”

“There is a state-sponsored of violence against women in Iran and the world community is standing by in silence. Even those women who flee Iran have no hope. Female asylum seekers from Canada, Sweden and Australia are extradited back to Iran on daily basis because the West is not recognizing the plight of Iranian women.”

“An Iranian woman deported from Vancouver was arrested within minutes of her return to Tehran, but was released after spending many hours in detention. Haleh Sahba, 30, now faces charges of leaving Iran illegally. Sahba lived in the Vancouver area for three years after fleeing her home country, where she had been jailed for defending women’s rights. She told Immigration Canada that she feared for her life if she was forced to return to Iran, but was refused refugee status and deported… WFAFI calls upon the freedom loving people of the world to join our 2005 campaign and stop violence against women in Iran. Please visit our website for more information on our monthly actions alerts.”

Rape in the U.S. on the Increase Though Still Underreported

Even though other violent crimes have dropped, FBI crime statistics are issuing reports that “forcible rape” is up by 1.4% and 6.5% in cities with populations of more than 1 million people even as the overall violent crime rate in America dropped 2% in the past year.

But this statistic is misleading; it tends to exclude much of “date rape” which is frequently accomplished by fear rather than force. In addition, the FBI does not include rape by a blood relative, incest or spousal rape in their statistics.

Liberia: Thousands Raped–No One Prosecuted

Amnesty International recently insisted that the perpetrators of rape during Liberia’s civil war must be brought to justice: “Thousands of women and girls have suffered rape and other forms of sexual violence, yet, more than a year on from the signing of a peace agreement, no one has been prosecuted and it remains unclear if, how and when those responsible will ever face justice. This impunity is a disgraceful betrayal of the victims of what are crimes against humanity and war crimes. The protection of the rights of women and girls must be at the centre of all efforts to rebuild Liberia. Full and meaningful participation of Liberian women in their country’s recovery is essential.” For a copy of the report, Liberia: No impunity for rape – a crime against humanity and a war crime, please see:

Women in Black: Extradite!

Women in Black, Belgrade was joined by other human rights groups and NGOs in marking December 10th International Human Rights Day. The event was called “EXTRADITE THEM”. A huge white banner with this slogan painted in red, referring to those accused of war crimes by the Hague Tribunal who remain protected by the Serbian regime, was displayed in the square.

Child Brides at Risk of HIV/AIDS, Early Pregnancy, and Perpetual Poverty

Child marriage–which affects about 51 million girls in developing countries worldwide–puts young girls at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or developing health problems from becoming pregnant at an early age. Child marriage, common in India, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, has “negative and lasting” consequences for women’s health, education and overall economic development, Rao Gupta said, the Tribune reports. The practice “perpetuates poverty” because girls stop going to school when they get married and subsequently miss out on “economic opportunities,” Rao Gupta said, according to the Tribune. After learning of the “long-term ramifications” of child marriage, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) drafted legislation aimed at “curbing the practice in the developing world,” the Tribune reports. Durbin currently is seeking a Republican co-sponsor for the bill, which he plans to introduce in January, according to Joe Shoemaker, Durbin’s press secretary.

Truth About Rape

The Truth About Rape Campaign is calling for the dismissal of judges who fail to implement the law and continue to allow rapists to go free. The first judge to be targeted in the Christmas campaign is Judge Michael Hucker, who threw out the case of five footballers tried for the horrific gang rape of a 15-year-old girl. The campaign is also demanding that victims not be subjected to multiple questioning by different barristers in cases of gang rape and that victims should be allowed their own representation in court.

Every War a War on Women

A recent UNIFEM (the U.N. women’s fund) report on the progress of the world’s women says that”violence against women during conflict has reached epidemic proportions, yet little is being done to prevent this violence or to support and protect women. Women’s bodies have become a battleground over which opposing forces struggle.”

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