On May 27 Farzana Parveen was beaten to death in broad daylight as she was about to enter the gate of the heavily guarded Lahore High Court. She had come to challenge a case of abduction filed by her father against her husband. Her father and brothers batter her with bricks and police and security personnel posted near the court failed to intervene before it was too late.
The attempt on May 18th to get the Afghan parliament to ratify a key law on violence against women ended in a fiasco and has been angrily dismissed as the politicking of a single ambitious female politician. But the controversies around the EVAW law show that there are no perfect strategies available to women activists in Afghanistan. Continue reading
On May 11, general elections will be held in Pakistan to elect the country’s 14th parliament. The coming election marks Pakistan’s first successful democratic transition between two elected governments. And for the first time, many women are participating in the elections.
The election campaign has so far been stained with violence and blood shedding. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, has warned of and carried out several attacks on the country’s secular parties, effectively intimidating the secular parties from holding big gatherings for electioneering as the security threats are too big. Several election candidates have been killed, and terror attacks have killed and injured both political activists and other civillians. Moreover, serious concerns have been expressed for the security of polling staff and voters, in particular the female voters. Continue reading
Last Friday marked the International Women’s Day all over the world. This year, in Norway, we also mark the 100-year Anniversary of women’s right to vote. Oppositely, in Saudi Arabia, women are deprived of the right to vote – and even to drive a car. Across the world, gender-based and sexualized violence are obstacles to women’s participation in society. About 200 million women are stated missing; many of which are victims of modern-day slavery; trafficking.
Establishing equal rights for all is of key importance in any revolution or reform. Female political participation will lead to less poverty, less corruption and is a prerequisite for a modern democracy to thrive and develop.
Violence against women in conflict zones is of a particular concern. When conflict flares up, women and children are those who are affected the most, although they are the least responsible for these conflicts. Civil society plays a big role in changing attitudes, but tackling this issue also requires political understanding and determination by the authorities over time.
Hence, a greater effort must be directed toward getting governments to realize that universal rights are in fact universal; and they apply to everyone, regardless of gender or background. Our support to countries, both bilaterally and through UN agencies, must depend on these countries’ ability to respect these human rights. There will be no aid without factual proof of the right to education, health services, and human rights. Reforms don’t transform societies if the reformist themselves don’t believe in the basic ideals.