A woman or girl is killed by someone in her family every 11 minutes. The Global South have recently been experiencing a spike in femicide rates, this can be due to several reasons: better reporting standards, the COVID-19 pandemic, or even more awareness about the issue on social media. Pakistan, Egypt, and Mexico have recently experienced a number of femicides.
The Pakistani Government came severely under pressure for the treatment of women throughout 2021 and that continues in 2022. Early this year, Aneesa and Arooj Abbas who lived in Spain were allegedly murdered by their husbands, uncle, and brother after they were forced to marry their husbands last year in Pakistan. The investigating officer said that “both the sisters were killed in the name of ‘honour’.” But this is not new to Pakistan. In 2016, Qandeel Baloch one of Pakistan’s first social media stars was murdered by her brother, Waseem Azeem, as he believed she brought dishonour to family because she would post photos and videos that broke strict social taboos within Pakistan.
At the time of Baloch’s case, a perpetrator’s sentence could be pardoned by their family. Even though Azeem was not pardoned by his family, this law was risky as it opened the gap for a murderer to walk free when most honour killings are agreed upon by the entire family. That same year, in October an anti-honour killing bill passed which guarantees a mandatory 25-year sentence for the perpetrator and removes the right of families to pardon the perpetrator. However, if the perpetrator is sentenced to death, then the family can pardon his sentence, but they will still need to serve a mandatory 25-year sentence.
Despite good progress within the country, much still needs to be done to protect women from violence and it starts with attitudes towards these issues. During the ‘rape epidemic’ last year, the Prime Minister at the time, Imran Khan was accused of being a ‘rape apologist’ because he said “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”
Like Pakistan, Egypt is no stranger to the poor treatment of women and the recent murder of 21-year-old university student, Naira Ashraf in Egypt proves that. Ashraf was murdered in broad daylight in front of her university by a classmate, Mohamed Adel because she had rejected his marriage proposal several times. Adel received a death sentence on 28th June 2022.
However, the situation would be very different if they were married. According to Egypt’s penal code Article 237 says “whoever surprises his wife in the act of adultery and kills her on the spot together with her adulterer-partner shall be punishment with detention instead of the penalties prescribed in Articles 234 and 236” meaning, husbands who kill their wives are sentenced, but their punishment is less severe than if the two were not married. Whereas, if a wife kills her husband, she will be given full sentence. This could have meant that Adel could have gotten a less severe punishment if he was married to Ashraf.
Therefore, severe improvement needs to be achieved in Egypt as it is an injustice for married men to face a less severe punishment if they murder their wife, this leads to women being exploited and not possess the ability to fight for justice. Human rights lawyer, Nehad Abo Komsan said: “As long as we do not take the complaints of young women seriously, and as long as we say that those fighting for women’s rights are emboldening girls and causing trouble, this will be the result.”
Approximately 10 women are killed every day in Mexico and one of them on 9th April was Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old who was sexually abused and murdered. Her body was found later in a motel in Nuevo León. An initial government autopsy concluded that Escobar’s death was an accident, that she fell into a water tank and died from a single blow to the head. However, an independent autopsy concluded she was sexually abused and murdered. Mario Escobar, Debanhi Escobar’s father, requested the findings of the independent autopsy due to his distrust within the Mexican Government’s findings. No one has been sentenced until this day.
The Mexican Government have been accused of not handling this case well when the Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that the discovery of Escobar’s body in a motel “shouldn’t worry” Mexicans as it “happens everywhere”.
There is a lack of trust by the public as they believe femicide cases will not be taken seriously by the Mexican authorities. Mario Esobar stated “My daughter is dead and I don’t know what to do…I’m angry at myself for trusting the authorities of Nuevo León. I made a mistake.”
The current Mexican Federal Penal Code (CPF) makes femicide illegal (Article 325) by sentencing the perpetrator forty to sixty years in prison. However, as Mexico is split into 32 states, states can individually regulate and classify crimes as they deem appropriate.
Furthermore, the President of Mexico has been criticised for not doing enough to protect women from violence before they could potentially face murder as he cut the national budget for the federal women’s institute in 2020 by 75%. Alongside this, the President proposed to stop funding all together towards women’s shelters. He has also been criticised for calling most of the domestic violence phone calls – the Mexican hotline receives – as “fake” however, he has not presented any evidence to support his claims.
The laws of these three countries inadequately protect women from violence. To decrease femicide rates you need to have adequate laws to protect women from violence before they face murder. Without sufficient laws, women are not properly protected. However, achieving protective laws can take time to attain, the first step is to change attitudes of those who are in power.
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Indian National Security Adviser Encourages Religious Tolerance
On Saturday, the Indian National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, spoke at a conference organized by the All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council (AISSC). Mr. Doval’s message promoted religious tolerance and unity among Indians: “To counter religious animosity we have to work together and make every religious body feel like they are a part of India. We sail and sink together.” Mr. Doval further added, “We have to make every sect of India feel that we are a country together, we are proud of it and that every religion can be professed with freedom here.”
The AISSC interfaith conference resulted in the passing of a resolution, which called out radical “anti-national” organizations. “Organizations like the Popular Front of India (PFI) and any other such outfits that have been indulging in anti-national activities and creating discord among our citizens must be banned and action must be initiated against them as per the law of the land,” reads the resolution. It also says, “Targeting any God/Goddesses/Prophets in discussions/debates by anyone should be condemned and dealt with as per law.”
The intention behind the conference was a noble one, and Mr. Doval’s message is important for Indians. Nonetheless, these words must be accompanied by actions that reflect similar sentiments. In March of this year, for instance, a court in the Indian state of Karnataka upheld a school’s ban on hijabs. Such a ban prevents Muslim girls from upholding their basic religious practices, and it belies the notion “that every religion can be professed with freedom” in India. On a larger scale, the Indian national parliament has increasingly been marginalizing Muslims. In December of 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which enables expedited access to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan — notably, Muslims are excluded.
Now, the AISSC conference and Mr. Doval’s remarks are yet another important reminder for the Indian government to supplement words with action and support all its people.
‘Don’t forget them’: millions of Afghans face hunger, economic crisis
International aid workers share stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet
“Winter is coming.”
“It’s not Game of Thrones here, it’s reality.”
And there are thousands of children like them.
A young man told Kropf that “his family went to sleep many evenings without anything to eat in the past months.”
Prospects of famine remain
Need for international aid
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“Don’t forget them,” she said.
No Justice in Sight for Assassinated Palestinian American Reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh
In May, renowned Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered in a targeted assassination by the Israeli military. People around the world mourned her death and called for justice against the atrocity committed by Israel. However, months later, there has been no justice awarded to the family of Abu Akleh. In fact, the US, who should have been actively investigating the death of an American citizen, have white-washed the entire incident and stated the shooting was probably unintentional.
All independent investigations led by either Palestinians or human rights groups, concluded that the Israeli military was responsible for the targeted assassination. Furthermore, the units sent into Jenin were not regular infantry or even marines, they were special unit forces. Those special forces are known to some as “assassination units” according Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, Marian Bishara.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden visited the Middle East, including Israel and the occupied West Bank. As most suspected, the visit did nothing to help aid the Palestinians, killing any hope that Biden would reverse at least a few of the drastic changes made by Trump to US foreign policy in regards to Israel occupied Palestine. Some have gone to the extent of saying that Biden’s administration is sustaining the status quo of apartheid.
In advance of his visit to the Middle East, Shireen’s family requested to sit down and discuss with President Biden on ensuring accountability for Shireen’s murderer. The request was rebuffed, and as with all killings of Palestinians, Biden’s administration has seemed to quickly sweep the assassination under the rug.
One might ask why it is necessary for the US government to intervene and speak to the assassination of a palestian journalist by Israeli forces, but the answer is quite simple. Not only was the journalist an American citizen, but the weapon used to kill her was paid for by US taxpayers.
Nearly $3.8 Billion of American money goes to Israel in the form of aid and military weapons, which the Israeli government will gladly use to demolish more Palestinian homes and kill Palestinian civilians without impunity.
US House of Representatives Passes Respect for Marriage Act
The United States House of Representatives passed a bill titled the Respect for Marriage Act, which gives federal protection towards same-sex marriage. The bill calls on overturning the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The action comes after arguments that same-sex marriage should also be overturned like Roe V. Wade, which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court.
The Respect for Marriage Act will now move on to the divided Senate, with the White House urging they pass. Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre stated that President Joe Biden “believes [the bill] is non-negotiable and that the Senate should act swiftly to get this to the president’s desk.”
However, a large majority of Republicans oppose the bill, with an outcome of 267-157. Republican representatives have voiced their support for Justice Clarence Thomas, that same sex marriage should be overturned, stating that Democrats will delegitimize the Supreme Court. That being said, surprisingly 47 Republicans within the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, indicating a possibility of further bipartisan support. This could be due to the fact that 70% of Americans support same sex marriage, according to Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, which could be a potential indication towards the gradual shift of opinion in Republicans.
But the overall outcome of the bill ultimately remains unknown. In order for the bill to pass within the Senate, Democrats would need the support of ten republicans to avoid a delay. If provisions allowing same-sex marriage are to be overturned by the Supreme Court, states will be allowed to restrict same-sex marriage.
Abortion care-A Fundamental Right Under the Kenyan Constitution
Abortion care – A fundamental right under the Kenyan Constitution.
By making abortion legal for victims of sexual abuse and women with pregnancy complications, Kenya is making health care accessible for women. AnalsytNews spoke to Dr. Anne-Beatrice Kihara about abortion laws.
Over a decade ago, Kenya set out on a course to provide constitutional reproductive rights to women. By replacing the colonial constitution with a new democratic text, it secured the rights of privacy and abortion for women in the constitutional framework. Although the country is still a long way from translating the articles into a legal language of implication, they are helping to save the lives of women.
The long struggle for the right to abortion in Kenya yielded results when a minor, PAK and her health care provider, Muhammad Saleem, were released of charges by the High Court in the Kenyan city of Malindi after Saleem was detained by the officials along with PAK under the accusation of performing an illegal abortion for the said minor.
The ruling in the PAK and Saleem Muhammad case established abortion as a legal right for women experiencing pregnancy complications and has been hailed as a victory for women’s rights to privacy in the country.
According to Article 26(4) of the constitution of Kenya, Abortion is permitted if in the opinion of a medical expert, “there is a need for emergency treatment”.
Similarly, if the pregnancy complications are putting the “life or health of the mother in danger,” the mother can undergo a procedure with the assistance of a certified care provider.
Kenya also provides post-abortion treatment for women under Article 43 (2).
With 41% of Kenyan women experiencing sexual violence, in 2019 the high court in the FIDA- Kenya case gave the victims of assault the Right to Abortion.
As elections are fast approaching in Kenya, the issue of abortion is once again making headlines. The recent Roe v Wade ruling, and organised online campaigns against the Reproductive Health Care Bill and Surrogacy Bill by the right-wing are shaping up to become a growing threat to women’s right to abortion in the country.
According to the President of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (FIGO) Dr Anne-Beatrice Kihara (obgyn), although the laws in Kenya do not provide “abortion on demand,” they do take into consideration the “life and health of the mother”. She told The Analyst in an interview that “The foetal viability in Kenya is after 20 weeks of conception.” Thus, safe abortion services can be provided in the 2nd trimester at gestation when the fetus is not viable,” she added.
“Although the laws in Kenya do not provide ‘abortion on demand,’ they do take into consideration the “life and health of the mother.”
The lack of safe abortion options could lead mothers to opt for unsafe choices. The consequences could be dire, Dr Kihara explains. There are short-term effects on a mother’s health such as “hemorrhage, sepsis, fistula formation, etc.” In the long-term they also develop “chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and mental illness.”
A mother who has had an unsafe abortion could develop “chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility or mental illness.”
As Dr. Kihara sees it, the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision could create issues for health care providers who are ethically and morally obligated to provide healthcare to patients in need. They might face “stigma, discrimination, and criminalization for supporting the provision of information and services.” Resultantly there will also be more referrals of patients to other US states for abortion services. This will result in failure to access emergency treatment, possibly more pregnancy related complications that will increase morbidity/mortality, she adds.
She argued that the issue should not only be dealt with at a medical level but at a social level with special attention paid to the “education, counselling of the girls with health promotion and prevention strategies; access to family planning and contraception programs”.
Dr Kihara further said there is need to “reduce the politicizing” of sexual and reproductive health services.
Instead we need to focus on what could be the outcome of investing in comprehensive, quality and safe health services on individuals, the health system and society at large. She suggested there is also need for “engagement of boys/ men taking responsibility for fatherhood and as agents for change”.
She further urged legislators to ponder over the “serious ramifications related to access, affordability, acceptability, quality and safety of services rendered” after the overturning of RoeVsWade.
While the US navigates it way through the confusions and controversies involve in the matter, abortion policies in Kenya can help them find a common ground that can ensure the safety and health of the mother and child.
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