In October 2020, Bangladeshi citizens took to the streets, outraged by the reports of gruesome gang rapes and sexual violence that were taking place in the country. According to Ain O Salish Kendra
, a Bangladeshi human rights organization, 975 women were raped in the first nine months of 2020, 43 women were killed after being raped and 204 women were attempted to be raped by men in Bangladesh.
A cherished snapshot of a happy mother and a smiling grandmother is universally associated with a good childhood. In the movies, TV, or media, a broken or depressed mother’s face is hardly seen. But the reality is somewhat different. The measures communities and society take to ensure that women and girls are protected and supported are often questioned.
Ten years ago a young street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself afire in the central Tunisian provincial town of Sidi Bouzid to protest against police harassment. Bouazizi’s sacrificial act served as a catalyst and inspired the Tunisian people to take over the streets that led to the Jasmine Revolution in the country. On January 4, 2011 Mohamed Bouazizi died, and ten days later the country's authoritarian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule ended when he fled to Saudi Arabia.
I recently visited rural areas of Bangladesh amid the COVID-19 pandemic and returned to Dhaka with a new understanding of the impact that COVID-19 is having on child marriage, a harmful practice that is a global challenge. The fundamental shift that I saw was that child marriage, which has typically been encouraged by struggling parents, is now being encouraged by struggling girls. This worrisome trend underscores a new burden of the pandemic on the poor.
An alarmingly high number of women journalists are now targets of online attacks associated with orchestrated digital disinformation campaigns. The impacts include self-censorship, retreat from visibility, an increased risk of physical injury, and a serious mental health toll. The main perpetrators? Anonymous trolls and political actors.
In Jamaica, school playgrounds are deserted, filled only with phantom shrieks of delight. Blackboards remain devoid of arithmetic and uniforms hang wrinkle-free in closets. When the first case of Covid hit Jamaican shores in early March, the government closed primary and secondary schools and over 500,000 children transitioned to remote learning. The majority of schools have yet to resume face-to-face classes since the March 13 closure.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign
marked the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) at a time when COVID-19 exacerbated the conditions women operate under.
Decades of aggressive efforts to create equal opportunities for women, shatter the glass ceiling and build a more inclusive society only ends up in failure, when the key stake holders refuse to acknowledge discriminatory laws, socio-cultural and religious set ups that continue to threaten progress made by the female work force.
The COVID-19 pandemic is NOT the biggest pandemic the world confronts at the moment, despite over 69 million cases and 1.5 million deaths worldwide.1
If it’s not COVID, what is it then? It is violence against women!
If one is asked, where do you feel most safe and secure? The answer will invariably be "my home".
Every year, the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
begins on November 25 and ends December 10. The theme of this year’s activism is "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"
“What does the Women, Peace and Security Agenda have to do with arms control and disarmament?”.
Under varying formulations, this question keeps coming up whenever someone refers to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda as a basis for ensuring that women’s voices and their specific security needs were taken into account in multilateral arms control discussions.
The insidious problem of online violence
against women journalists is increasingly spilling offline with potentially deadly consequences, a new global survey suggests.
Girls are change makers and world shapers! When girls speak up, they are a powerful force to be reckoned with.
“This is a crisis without a quick fix that could take years to resolve unless there are concerted efforts to address its root causes”, says Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes.
Bullets, bombs, tyranny and torture. Children crying for food, civilians struggling to survive, women unable to walk out of their homes freely. When we are not under siege from bombs and landmines, ordinary Afghans suffer from hunger, natural hazards and poverty.
Shabnam*, a young woman from Northern India’s Haryana state, is two years away from becoming a law graduate. She sees parallels between her own rape and that of the 19-year-old Maha Dalit woman whose brutal rape and torture by a group of men from a “dominant” or “higher” caste in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh triggered nationwide protests.
When a minority woman with an opinion doesn’t comply with stereotypes, she is targeted with online hate, says award-winning journalist and senior editor at The Wire
, Arfa Khanum Sherwani in an exclusive interview with Inter Press Service.
The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues: as more people around the world lose their livelihoods, human trafficking is on the rise. Support services for survivors have been shut, and past gains to combat it have been reversed. Funding has dried up.
School reopening doesn’t mean that education is back on course. For a start, schools remain closed in over 50 countries, affecting more than 800 million students. The poorest ones may never make it back to school, driven by poverty into child labour or early marriage. Distance learning has been out of reach for one third of the 1.6 billion students affected worldwide by school closures. They may disengage altogether if school closures continue.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170
declaring October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.