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WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS United Nations Human Rights Council March 12, 2010 Geneva, Switzerland.

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Presentation on theme: "WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS United Nations Human Rights Council March 12, 2010 Geneva, Switzerland."— Presentation transcript:

1 WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS United Nations Human Rights Council March 12, 2010 Geneva, Switzerland






7 WUNRN COUNCIL OF EUROPE RESOLUTION - WOMEN AND RELIGION IN EUROPE Resolution 1464 (2005) 1 Women and religion in Europe 1 1.In the lives of many European women, religion continues to play an important role. Whether they are believers or not, most women are affected in one way or another by the attitude of different faiths towards women, directly or through their traditional influence on society or the State. 2.This influence is seldom benign: women’s rights are often curtailed or violated in the name of religion. While most religions teach equality of women and men before God, they attribute different roles to women and men on earth. Religiously motivated gender stereotypes have conferred upon men a sense of superiority which has led to discriminatory treatment of women by men and even violence at their hands. 3.At one end of the spectrum lie the extreme violations of women’s human rights such as so- called “honour” crimes, forced marriages and female genital mutilation, which – although still rare in Europe – are on the rise in some communities. 4.At the other end are more subtle and less spectacular forms of intolerance and discrimination which are much more widespread in Europe – and which can be just as effective in achieving the subjection of women, such as the refusal to put into question a patriarchal culture which holds up the role of wife, mother and housewife as the ideal, and the refusal to adopt positive measures in favour of women (for example, in parliamentary elections).

8 WUNRN WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS The intersectionality of women, religion or belief, and human rights, is one of the most complex in today's world, and pervades the full spectrum of women's existence, the public and private sectors, in all belief systems, and levels - international, regional, national, and local. Religion or Belief is often a sustaining force for women, and especially impacting them on the "pulse points" of life. *Birth *Citizenship & Identity *Puberty & Adolescence *Education & Health *Marriage *Motherhood *Adult Life Cycle *Ceremonies & Rituals *Legal Rights *Holidays & Festivals *Widowhood & Divorce *Death

9 WUNRN WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS Women, whether they are religious believers or not, are usually affected in some way by attitudes of different faiths towards women, directly or through their influence on society or the State. Freedom of religion must not be accepted as a pretext for justifying violations of women's rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms. Asma Jahanhir, has clearly documented: "Many of the Special Rapporteur's communications and urgent appeals concern cases where women suffer from aggravated discrimination with regard to their religious, ethnic, and sexual identities.......Discrimination and practices that are harmful to the health of women and girls are also applied within their religious communities for reasons of religious traditions, or those ascribed to religion."....." The Special Rapporteur also notes with regret that "Women continue to be largely excluded from the decision-making processes within most religious communities. The process is, indeed, usually a monopoly for men. In order to exercise their full human rights, women therefore have to negotiate with religious beliefs and traditional values."...... The sponsors of this Panel, feel the timing is right, is imminent, to have at the UN Human Rights Council, a forum for considering the truths and realities, the myths and misinformation, the goals and potential areas for progress, in the theme of WOMEN - RELIGION OR BELIEF - HUMAN RIGHTS.

10 WUNRN GETTING READY TO READ THE KORAN - Beirut, Lebanon Photographer - Rania Matar



13 WUNRN GUATEMALA - YOUNG MOTHER & CHILD Sarah Bones - International Photojournalist

14 WUNRN EGYPT - MUSLIM WOMAN PREACHER My priority in life is my calling to Islam. I can’t compromise. Writing books, defending Islam, answering misconceptions. There is a big difference between the misapplication of religion and the truth. If you want to criticise someone, learn the truth first. Some questions cannot be answered by men. I feel it is my job. I hope that I’m a role model for these women. Words and photos by Holly Pelham

15 WUNRN RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF DIFFERENT FAITHS JOIN UNIFEM AND ‘SAY NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN’ 25 September 2008 United Nations, New York — Senior religious leaders of different faiths from Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, today pledged to help stop violence against women. They recognize this commitment as a moral imperative rooted in their respective religious traditions. The religious leaders from Africa, Asia, and North America — representing such diverse faiths as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam — stood together to address one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world today, violence against women. The religious leaders expressed support for the goals of the “Say NO to Violence against Women” campaign ( being advanced by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). This campaign is aligned with the UN Secretary-General’s multi-year, system-wide global campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Today marked the launch of a new partnership between Religions for Peace and UNIFEM that will work to engage communities of faith around the world to lead efforts to end violence against women. “People of faith around the world believe that it is a moral responsibility to end violence against women,” said Dr. William F. Vendley, Religions for Peace Secretary General. “While religious traditions vary, it is clear that religious men and women around the world are increasingly convinced that their respective traditions call them to work as partners to end this violence.” Dr. Vendley also underlined the irreplaceable role of women as front-line agents in efforts to end extreme poverty. “Ending violence against women is both a moral imperative and one of the single most important ways to help end extreme poverty by achieving the Millennium Development Goals.” “Violence against women and girls is a crime and an internationally recognized human rights violation — stopping it is one of the great challenges of our time,” said UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi. “Engaging religious leaders and communities of faith is essential to weaving a fabric of equality and respect for all persons, their potential, and their right to live a life free from violence.”

16 WUNRN SAUDI ARABIA - SAUDI CLERICS URGE TV BAN ON WOMEN, MUSIC Country's hardline religious group is skeptical of push toward moderation The Associated Press March 22, 2009 RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A group of Saudi clerics urged the kingdom's new information minister on Sunday to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines, making clear that the country's hardline religious establishment is skeptical of a new push toward moderation. In a statement, the 35 hardline clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja, who was appointed by King Abdullah on Feb. 14, to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television. "We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you," said the statement. "We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair." Not expected to have much effect Although it raises the pressure on the new minister, the recommendation is likely to have little effect. Khoja's appointment was part of a government shake-up by Abdullah that removed a number of hardline figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.

17 WUNRN INDIA - ORISSA STATE - RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & VIOLENCE 35 Christians killed and 50,000 forced from their homes by Hindu mobs enraged at Swami's murder By Andrew Buncombe in Phulbani, Orissa Thursday, 9 October 2008 A woman shows her grief at the religious violence in Orissa during a gospel hymn service. As she recalled her awful story, Puspanjali Panda made no attempt to halt the tears flooding down her face. Holding her daughter close, she told how a baying Hindu mob dragged her husband – a Christian pastor – from his bed, beat him to death with stones and iron rods and then threw him into a river. She found his corpse two days later, washed up on the bank. When she went to the police, they told her to go away....

18 WUNRN BOSNIA - WOMEN & WAR - PAIN & GRIEF International Committee of the Red Cross - the ICRC Women pray together at a memorial in honour of their missing relatives, Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

19 WUNRN FRANCE MOVES CLOSER TO BANNING FULL MUSLIM VEIL Critics Argue Proposed Move Would Be A Violation Of Basic Rights Faiza Silmi, a 32-year-old Moroccan, walks in a Le Mesnil-Saint-Denis, France, on Tuesday. Silmi was refused French citizenship for what authorities said was her failure to assimilate into French culture. By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press January 15, 2010 LA VERRIERE, France – The man she married is French, her four children were born in France, and she speaks French with only a trace of her native Arabic tongue. Faiza Silmi contends her clothes — a head-to-toe robe and filmy tissue covering her face — are the reason France has denied her citizenship in her adopted land. The 32-year-old Moroccan may soon be facing an even fiercer blow. A top French lawmaker submitted a draft law this week that would ban such Islamic dress anywhere in public, a measure that would set a European precedent and trap thousands of women between their religious convictions and the law of the land.

20 WUNRN US NUNS FACING VATICAN STUDY By LAURIE GOODSTEINLAURIE GOODSTEIN July 1, 2009 The Vatican is quietly conducting two sweeping investigations of American nuns, a development that has startled and dismayed nuns who fear they are the targets of a doctrinal inquisition.Vatican Nuns were the often-unsung workers who helped build the Roman Catholic Church in this country, planting schools and hospitals and keeping parishes humming. But for the last three decades, their numbers have been declining — to 60,000 today from 180,000 in 1965. While some nuns say they are grateful that the Vatican is finally paying attention to their dwindling communities, many fear that Mother Mary Clare Millea has been appointed by the Vatican to study the activities of some orders of nuns in the United States. the real motivation is to reel in American nuns who have reinterpreted their calling for the modern world. In the last four decades since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, many American nuns stopped wearing religious habits, left convents to live independently and went into new lines of work: academia and other professions, social and political advocacy and grass-roots organizations that serve the poor or promote spirituality. A few nuns have also been active in organizations that advocate changes in the church like ordaining women and married men as priests.


22 WUNRN ISRAEL - WOMEN IN THE CROSSFIRE OF CONFLICT – TENSIONS IN JERUSALEM Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Israeli border officers in Silwan, a neighborhood adjacent to the Old City, during the demolition by the Jerusalem municipality of a Palestinian house built without a permit. By ISABEL KERSHNER December 6, 2008


24 WUNRN YEMEN - TEMPORARY "TOURIST MARRIAGES" DECEIVE WOMEN & GIRLS - VIOLATE RIGHTS © IRINIRIN Yemeni girls preparing for marriage to wealthy Arabs - often the unions are short term and exist primarily for the sexual gratification of the man SANA, 7 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Amal Mohammed is an 18-year-old Yemeni woman living in the city of Ibb, 150km south of the Yemeni capital, Sana, who says she is suffering from psychological problems and a constant headache following an unsuccessful marriage to an elderly Saudi man. She says she now sees marriage as a nightmare after being married and divorced in the course of only a few weeks. Amal was the victim of a so-called 'summer' or 'tourist' marriage, as Yemenis call the unwittingly temporary unions which are having a negative impact on religiously and culturally conservative Yemen society. Men from wealthy Gulf states flock to the country where they 'marry' young Yemeni girls. The couples spend their honeymoon in hotels and then the grooms return to their own countries saying they will make arrangements and send for their brides soon. They say they need to arrange visas and make promises of a better life when they are reunited with their new young wives. Most of the girls never hear from the men again.


26 WUNRN INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS Iran - Film of Woman Being Hanged in Public Tue. 24 Jul 2007 Iran Focus London, Jul. 24 – An Iranian opposition satellite channel has broadcasted shocking footage of a public execution of a woman and two men in Iran. Simay-e Azadi aired the footage on Monday. It is believed the woman and two men were hanged as recently as this month. The clip was captured by a bystander and smuggled out of Iran. Simay-e Azadi said it obtained the video from supporters of the People’s Mojahedin (MeK).

27 WUNRN NEPAL - NEW KUMARI LIVING GODDESS - AGE 3 Matina Shakya is seen after she was appointed as the new living goddess or Kumari in Kathmandu October 7, 2008. Authorities in Nepal enthroned a three-year- old girl as a new Kumari, or the main "living goddess", on Tuesday, in a centuries-old ritual the country's new Maoist-led coalition has allowed to continue. NEPAL SUPREME COURT LANDMARK CASE SAYS LIVING GODDESS HAS THE RIGHT TO GO TO SCHOOL REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

28 WUNRN TURKEY - 5 GIRLS DROWN - OMISSION OF HELP DUE TO FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS A gruesome fact materialized in Turkey, a few miles fron Smirne, at the end of last week. Five sixteen years old girls of a Coranic school, being on a school excursion together with 50 other school-mates, were seduced by the innocent desire of taking a bath in the sea. So, full dressed, they entered the sea waters, hand in hand, but unable to swim they were dragged to the bottom. They screamed and cried aloud asking for help, but the men willing to rescue them were stopped by their religious teachers on the grounds that it was forbidden to touch the girls. So, they let them die. No charge has been presented, so it will be difficult for the police to carry out investigations for criminal liability due to omission in rescue. Furthermore, the families accepted this "sacrifice" as a Will of God. The only newspaper to give evidence to this horrific crime, was the daily paper "Hurriyet", even if only three days late due to lack of an official report from where to grasp news.

29 WUNRN 4 th SYMPOSIUM FOR RELIGIOUS LEADERS ENGAGED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION ABIDJAN DECLARATION OF COMMITMENT We, Moslem and Christian religious leaders, representing countries where the Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC) has members, joined together in a symposium in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), through the initiative of IAC, on the 23 rd, 24 th and 25 th of October 2007, Highly commending the Inter-African Committee on this important platform for exchanging and sharing between different religious leaders of various faiths; Considering the commitment of African states in the fight for the total elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, through legal instruments; Considering that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights and a serious infringement on the physical, psychological and moral integrity of women and children; Convinced that FGM has adverse consequences for the health of women and children, in the short, medium and long term; Convinced that Female Genital Mutilation had no religious basis in the Holy Bible, or in the authentic Christian traditions; nor in the Noble Quran, or in the authentic Islamic traditions; Considering earlier statements by distinguished religious authorities, both Christian and Muslim, on the non- existence of links between FGM and religion; Conscious that the total elimination of FGM can only be achieved through an organized campaign involving all actors in society Determined to make every effort to put an end to this harmful practice; Commit ourselves to participating actively in the struggle for the total elimination of FGM not only in our respective countries but also wherever it exists;

30 WUNRN KENYA - FGM - 350 TEENAGE GIRLS TO FACE THE KNIFE November 25, 2009 By PHILEMON SUTER At least 350 teenage girls are to be circumcised in the next two weeks in Marakwet East and Pokot Central districts. A pre-initiation ceremony known as kitung'a will take place in Kapsiren village, Koibirir location, on the Friday that schools are to close. A source from the provincial administration and several primary school teachers told the Nation at Tot trading centre on Tuesday that according to cultural beliefs, the stars, prevailing weather patterns, and other key elements had signalled that the initiations should go on in the next two weeks. About 120 girls aged between nine and 16 years are to undergo the rite in Endow, Kaben, and Koibirir locations while 60 others are targeted in Cheptulel in Marakwet. In the neighbouring Lomut and Arpolo sub-locations in Pokot Central, more than 150 girls will undergo the cut. Koibirir chief Alfrick Lorem said the teenagers are to be initiated during the December holidays. The initiations come amid stern warnings by the government that perpetrators would be prosecuted. Human rights activists have also threatened to sue the perpetrators of the outlawed practice. Separately, three married women were circumcised on tuesday in Chepkwawai village in Chebororwa location, Marakwet West District. According to anti-female genital mutilation crusaders, one of the women claimed that she was forced to undergo the rite or face excommunication by the society and divorce by her husband. The other two admitted that they had consented to be circumcised. Marakwet East district commissioner Joseph Kisangau put FGM practitioners in the district on notice.

31 WUNRN INDIA - PLIGHT OF WIDOWS OF VRINDIVAN India - Widows of Vrindavan - Photo Image ©Tewfic El-Sawy, “White Shadows” White Shadows is a photographic essay of widows living in Vrindavan, India. These women are destitute and reliant for their survival on charitable foundations and charities set up by wealthy Indian families, and on daily alms from pilgrims visiting the holy town. CNN Article: VRINDAVAN, India (CNN)—Ostracized by society, India’s widows flock to the holy city of Vrindavan waiting to die. They are found on side streets, hunched over with walking canes, their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles in their faces.

32 WUNRN AFGHANISTAN - NEW SHIA FAMILY LAW - HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL - SEEN AS SETBACK TO WOMEN'S RIGHTS - ISSUE OF MARITAL RAPE + By Jerome Starkey in Kabul 31 March 2009 AFP/Getty Images - Afghan women wearing burqas. Critics say President Hamid Karzai rushed through discriminatory legislation to appease fundamentalists. Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, has signed a law which "legalises" rape, women's groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August. In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.....

33 WUNRN USA POLYGAMOUS SECT - CHILDREN REMOVED BY STATE GIRLS TELL OF FORCED INTO MARRIAGE & SEX WITH OLDER MEN Women cult members rescued from the Yearn for Zion ranch this week. Photograph: Tony Gutierrez/AP April 10, 2008 The Guardian · 416 youngsters in state custody after ranch raids · Hunt goes on for teenager who alerted authorities Interviews with hundreds of children removed from a polygamist sect in Texas have revealed that several underage girls were forced into "spiritual marriage" with much older men as soon as they reached puberty and were then made pregnant, according to investigators.

34 WUNRN NEW INSIGHTS ON GENDER & RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISMS Association for Women's Rights in Development - AWID Drawing on the results of a global survey of over 1,600 women's rights activists, as well as in-depth interviews with over 50 key experts, AWID launched a special series of publications on religious fundamentalisms and women's rights in late 2008. This brief reports on the highlights of the research, which sought to map the major trends, strategies and impacts of religious fundamentalist movements across regions and religions. According to 76% of women's rights activists surveyed by AWID, the strength of religious fundamentalisms has increased globally over the past ten years. These movements are gaining the power to shape social norms, influence international institutions and national decision makers, and define laws and policies, especially in the areas of 'morality' and bodily autonomy. In the experience of 8 out of 10 women's rights activists, religious fundamentalisms have a negative impact on women's rights, and over two-thirds regard these movements as obstructing women's rights more than other political forces. In every region, women's rights activists are confronting fundamentalist tendencies within the world's major and minor religions, and several key defining characteristics of these movements appear to resonate across borders and religious divides.

35 WUNRN NIGERIA - CHILDREN STIGMATISED AS WITCHES Mary is a pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and a father who kicked her out onto the streets in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her crime: the local priest had denounced her as a witch and blamed her "evil powers" for causing her mother's death. By David Harrison 09 Nov 2008 Photo: Mags Gavan, Redrebel Films Children from Crarn accused of being witches and wizards, protesting outside the Governor's headquarters. Ostracised, vulnerable and frightened, she wandered the streets in south-eastern Nigeria, sleeping rough, struggling to stay alive. Mary was found by a British charity worker and today lives at a refuge in Akwa Ibom province with 150 other children who have been branded witches, blamed for all their family's woes, and abandoned. Yet Mary and the others at the shelter are the lucky ones for they, at least, are alive. Many of those branded "child-witches" are murdered - hacked to death with machetes, poisoned, drowned, or buried alive in an attempt to drive Satan out of their soul.

36 WUNRN INDONESIA - ACEH - ISLAMIC LAW - CRIMINAL CODE IMPACTS ON WOMEN AS DRESS, CONDUCT, STONING Members of the Shariah police, standing, reprimanded women in Banda Aceh for wearing clothing they judged to be too tight. Photo: Ed Wray for The New York Times By NORIMITSU ONISHINORIMITSU ONISHI BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Under Islamic law, or Shariah, the religious police have administered public canings for such things as gambling, prostitution and illicit affairs. But under a new Islamic criminal code that goes into effect this month, the Shariah police will be wielding a new and more potent threat: death by stoning for adulterers.....Indonesia Aceh separatists and the central government forged a peace agreement in the last decade, Aceh won semiautonomy and the right to Shariah. The authorities began putting Shariah into practice in 2001, widening and reinforcing it every few years with legal revisions. The Shariah police, officially known as “wilayatul hisbah,” or the vice and virtue patrol, began operating in 2005 with 13 officers and now has 62, including 14 women.....

37 WUNRN Afghanistan poem about Bedi Begum who was murdered by flogging at the order of the Taliban in July of 1999, one of 60 women to die as a result of flogging that year. Poem Tribute to Young Afghanistan Woman Flogged to Death Sue Silvermaria I stand by your ear unseen. Before the flogging they buried me to my waist in mud One hundred times and one, they beat me with a cane Because I was wearing a burqa the mullah was spared the sight of my blood When my family took me home I was unconscious They were forbidden to seek treatment When I died the next morning no one was surprised. It was three days after my 18th birthday.....

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