Female genital mutilation (FGM) stands as one of the most egregious violations of human rights, particularly affecting women and girls worldwide. However, when conflict and forced displacement enter the equation, the horrors of FGM are exacerbated, creating a dire situation that demands urgent attention and action. Where instability and insecurity prevail, the prevalence of FGM often intensifies, exacerbated by factors such as displacement, poverty, and the breakdown of social systems.
Medical experts and women's rights activists are pinning hopes on the establishment of an anti-rape crisis centre for the provision of medical and legal aid to victims of sexual assaults in a timely manner will ensure convictions.
Currently, it takes years to bring the perpetrators of rape to justice due to a lack of evidence and more often than not, the accused get acquitted.
Significant advances have been made in Africa towards ending female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Asia, where FGM/C occurs in at least ten countries
, but governments across the region are failing to take effective action. Women’s rights organizations are calling for states to introduce much-needed laws to criminalize FGM, provide national data on the extent and nature of the practice, and adequately fund efforts to tackle this regionally neglected problem.
One day in October 2020, Serah Akpan, 70, was seated in her house at Boki Local Government in Cross River, southern Nigeria, when she heard the murmurings of irate youth outside. Before she could grasp what was really happening, they had broken into her house, bundled her outside, and threatened to kill her for allegedly being a witch.
The military must have expected an easier ride. Three years ago, it ousted
Myanmar’s democratically elected government. But the coup has been met with fierce resistance, unleashing a bloody conflict with no end in sight.
‘Per Giulia e per tutte
’ (‘For Giulia and for all’) echoed through the streets of Italy in mid-November 2023. Thousands of women, activists and supporters gathered to protest and show solidarity with the 22-year-old student Giulia Cecchettin, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend
on the night of 11 November 2023.
Iran’s time of public rebellion has ended. The protesters marching, chanting, and dancing under the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ banner have long stopped. And shifting regional dynamics may play to the regime’s favour.
The recent elections in the Netherlands signals the increasing power of the far right in Europe. The populist party of Geert Wilders, the Party for Freedom, won a decisive, albeit unexpected, victory taking 37 seats out the 150 seat in parliament. Wilders will likely be the head of the next Government. His policies include stopping all immigration into the Netherlands, holding a referendum on leaving the EU, and banning mosques and the Quran.
Criminal justice systems in South Asia are failing women, despite stark statistics on the prevalence of violence. WHO estimates translate to one in every two women and girls in the region experiencing violence daily.
Funding humanitarian programs will continue into the new year, but the funding cuts of the previous year may impact the prioritization of the most immediate and most life-threatening needs.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) for 2024. This annual assessment of the global humanitarian sector provides insight into the humanitarian action undertaken by the UN and its partners and reviews current and future trends in this sector.
Giulia Cecchettin had a bright future ahead of her. A smart 22-year-old, she was days away from graduating in biomedical engineering at Padua University. She was a loving sister to her two siblings, helping her father cope after the premature passing of her mother due to cancer in October 2022. Her sweetness and generosity of spirit made her popular with her peers. She only had one problem. Her ex-boyfriend and course mate Filippo Turetta could not accept the end of their relationship.
“The one international language the world understands” wrote Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, “is the cry of a child,” and the evidence is accumulating that children are not only the innocent victims of conflict whose pleas need to be heard, but also the most vulnerable victims of climate change.
"The Latin American and Caribbean region has made many advances in the fight against gender violence, but now we are facing reactions that show that our rights are never secure and that we must always be on the alert to defend them," said Susana Chiarotti, a member of Mesecvi's Committee of Experts.
Acapulco is a paradise. A port of golden sunsets, toasted sand, and deep blue sea. Its dream beaches captivated the hearts of Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. US President John F. Kennedy chose its shores to spend his honeymoon with Jackie Kennedy. Its luxury hotels and the untamed sea made it the most famous tourist destination in Mexico.
In 1968, the tobacco company Philip Morris
introduced a new cigarette brand called Virginia Slims
. Under the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby” it was exclusively marketed to women. The advertising campaign exploited the civil rights movements of the 1960s, indicating that those cigarettes were enjoyed by strong, independent, and liberated women. A blatant lie – why would “independent” women choose to poison themselves with a commodity which each year causes more than 480,000 deaths in the US alone – nearly one in five deaths? Another question arising from this deceitful ad is: “How far have women come on their way to independence and liberation?”
Amid a looming threat of forceful eviction, Afghan women who arrived in Pakistan after the Taliban’s takeover in Kabul have asked the host country to allow them to stay because they want to continue their education.
Almost one third (32%)
of women aged 20 to 24 in Eastern and Southern Africa - around 50 million – were married before 18 years old. To address this pervasive problem, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum has adopted the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage
, a legal framework providing a comprehensive, integrated approach to ending child marriage and protecting children already married.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 has devastated millions of Afghans. But women and girls have been particularly affected by progressively restrictive decrees that have created a virtual system of gender apartheid.
Some time ago I watched the Indian blockbuster RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt). It received universal praise for direction, screenwriting, cast performances, soundtrack (which won an Oscar) and thrilling action sequences. RRR is filled with gore; bodies beaten, pierced and torn apart. An overblown combination of Quentin Tarantino and Bollywood, far away from Satyajit Ray’s emotionally moving films, as well as Bollywood’s romantic comedies and mythological dramas. RRR never pauses for breath. The two male protagonists are supermen, not exposing many recognizable human traits, even if they might occasionally sing and talk about love. Hard to understand, since the few women of the story are cut-out clichés.
Cecilia Erzuah was torn between two opposite career paths at the end of university. The week she was supposed to begin military training, her professor offered her a position as an assistant to a lecturer.
With hope and courage, we must rise to the challenges before us. We must rise to the challenge of a world set afire by climate change, forced displacement, armed conflicts and human rights abuses. We must rise to the challenge of girls being denied their right to an education in Afghanistan. We must rise to the challenge of a global refugee crisis that is disrupting development gains the world over. We must rise to the challenge of brutal and unconscionable wars in places like Sudan and Ukraine that are putting millions of children at risk every day.