Tag Archives: gender-based violence

Spark News Digest

Spark is a learning community. We learn by doing and educate our peers on issues impacting women around the world. Practicing what we preach, we will be posting relevant news articles for your mind-expanding pleasure. Read, learn, discuss, share.


An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

GLOBAL: Women’s Rights Hit Roadblock in Indonesia

In Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province, women are being shunned for being…women. The Islamist government has voiced that because of the “curves of a women’s body,” female passengers cannot straddle motorbikes as it’s too alluring. Religious-based regulations like this are happening in many regions in the world and in some places, getting worse.

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LOCAL: We must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

It happened. Congress failed to reissue the Violence Against Women Act before it expired last year. Congresswomen Glen Moore talks about the disappointment of  letting a bill as important as this fall to the wayside and the less-than-urgent  timing Congress has used to reauthorize it.

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GLOBAL: The Internationalization of Women Issues

“Women issues are world issues,” Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of U.N. Women and former president of Chile, said recently. “Today there is greater awareness than ever before that women’s full participation is essential for peace, democracy and sustainable development.” The globalization of women’s issues continues to be on the rise. Hopefully, this will continue to penetrate into leadership positions and change the landscape of decision making around the world.

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GLOBAL: Lawyer in India Gang-Rape Case says Victim to Blame

The latest in the India gang-rape case shares the point of view of one of the lawyers defending the three men who are charged with the rape and murder of a 23-year-old women riding a bus in New Delhi at night. He states that “until today, I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady…even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.” Will the international lens on this case force India to strengthen its laws on rape and protection of women?

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LOCAL: What Linda Lovelace’s Story Does and Doesn’t Say about Porn Today

Linda Lovelace’s story is about to hit Sundance with Lovelace, played by Amanda Seyfried. The film has potential to kickstart some serious conversations about rape culture and sexual consent. The question remains, will the conversation help or hinder a new understanding about women and sexual consent?

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Egypt Update: Women’s Rights After The Revolution

BY SARAH MIERS, Spark Fellow

As the protests made headline news, we hoped that they would bode well for women involved in the revolution. So far this is not the case. Women are being excluded from an important and exciting moment in shaping Egypt’s future—drafting the country’s new constitution.

Image: © Ramy Raoof

The news took me by surprise. Women’s strong participation in Egypt’s protests against the Mubarak government alluded to a certain degree of political equality. Yet just weeks later, nearly 300 women marching in Tahrir Square on International Women’s Day were beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob. This incident highlights the crucial importance of protecting women’s rights in Egypt, and the recent exclusion of women in the drafting a new constitution underlines the magnitude of this issue.

These recent events may hinder the ongoing progress towards improving women’s political rights in the country. Back in 1957 Egypt became the first Arab country to elect a woman to parliament. In 2010, the Mubarak government secured 64 parliament seats for women. With the omission of women’s input in drafting the new constitution and the harassment of marchers supporting women’s rights and equality, I fear that women’s rights might be jeopardized in the post-revolutionary Egypt. Of particular concern is maintaining the 64 seats in parliament. Since this legislation was enacted under President Mubarak, it is unclear whether or not the new constitution will preserve this right.

In a region where women’s rights are restricted, the broader implications of these political events are very important. While I watch the future of Egypt unfold, I hope that women are able to preserve their existing political presence and continue to fight for equal rights.

Progress Interupted

BY SARAH MIERS, Spark Fellow

Two weeks ago, Amnesty International requested that Spark remove the name of an upcoming speaker from searchable websites and databases. The speaker is from Zimbabwe, and due to the recent police harassment of political dissidents, her advocacy for human rights has made her a potential target. Spark immediately removed her name and that of her organization from our website, but as Spark members and women around the world unite and participate in various International Women’s Day celebrations, events in Zimbabwe remind us that there is still significant progress to be made.

Here is what happened yesterday in Zimbabwe:

In Bulawayo, police interrupted meetings and marches celebrating International Women’s Day. They detained 16 members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, despite a court order permitting their peaceful demonstration, and a speaker at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ meeting in the suburbs of the city.  Although the Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khuphe reprimanded police for these actions, contentious arrests like these have populated Zimbabwean headlines for weeks.

In late February, President Robert Mugabe’s police forces interrupted an International Socialist Organization meeting and arrested 45 students, trade unionists and activists for watching BBC and Al Jazeera reports on the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.  The individuals (11 female and 34 male) were arrested on the suspicion of plotting to overthrow the Mugabe government. 39 were released on Monday, but the remaining 6 (1 female and 5 male) now face treason charges in the High Court, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The New York Times reports: “As Mr. Mugabe’s party pushes for elections this year in a drive to reclaim sole power, human rights groups have warned that the police and youth militia aligned with Mr. Mugabe’s party have intensified harassment, beatings and arrests of Mr. Mugabe’s political opponents”.

Such police behavior is alarming and generates particular concern for Zimbabwean women. Women’s Enews reported yesterday on a study outlining the treatment of Zimbabwean women protesters that 78% reported political threats, 64% reported degrading treatment, 42% reported torture and sexual abuse and 33% reported torture.

As we observe International Women’s Day throughout the month of March, we cannot ignore the potential implications of these detentions and must continue to fight for and protect women’s rights – including the basic human right to peaceful demonstration.

Please join Spark in an intimate discussion related to these recent events at its upcoming Speaker Series on March 19, 2011. Our speaker is the founder of a non-violent human rights movement in Zimbabwe and is at the forefront of the struggle for peace and human rights for women and all Zimbabweans.

Photojournalism or war-porn?

On August 8th, Time magazine ran a controversial cover photo of a disfigured Afghan woman accompanied by the headline “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan.” (Cover and abridged article can be found here.)  The editor of Time, Rick Stengel, explains that the image, headline and story are intended to lend emotional truth and insight into the lives of women in Afghanistan.  He claims the piece is a neutral attempt to further the debate and is not intended to express a position on the US involvement in Afghanistan.  For the critical reader interested in furthering the rights of women, these portrayals are misleading and need to be questioned.

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Craig Newmark, I am disappointed in you

I have found jobs, roommates, apartments and the chair I am sitting in on Craigslist.  I have used your services while living in three cities on two continents.  It is fair to say that one of the ways that I engage with my community is through Craigslist.

It is for these reasons that I am empowered to write: Craig Newmark, I am disappointed in you.  Last year, you took bold action when you announced that you would remove the erotic services section from Craigslist.  It is a well-known fact that your website is used for the illegal sale and trafficking of minors—both girls and boys.  But, then, you replaced erotic services with adult services which contains the same content.  It is the SAME content.  The language is a bit different.  The pictures are slightly less graphic. But it is essentially the same.  Craig, you have to change more than the name. Continue reading