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Montreal Gazette: In the Canadian city of Ottawa, officials are considering adding "honour killing" to the Criminal Code. These violent crimes are often directed against girls and women and carried out by male relatives, often with the permission of older females and are thought to restore family honour and dignity.
"The federal government yesterday affirmed its zero-tolerance stance against 'honour killing,' declaring such 'barbaric cultural practices' as 'heinous abuses' with 'no place in Canadian society.' Rona Ambrose, minister responsible for the status of women, said the government is taking gender-based violence 'very seriously' and called on women's groups and members of the immigrant community to help tackle these "heinous abuses."
Her announcement was apparently prompted by this weekend's release of a report focusing on the growing problem of the abuse of girls and women in Canada's immigrant communities. The report, by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, outlines 14 recommendations for Ottawa, including mandatory sessions for male sponsors and sponsored women on gender-equality in Canada. Ambrose said the government is already working on some of the recommendations and is "looking at" others, including the launch of programs on television that could be used to reiterate the consequences of abuse. She also said the government is looking at adding "honour killing" as a separate Criminal Code charge.
The notion of honour killings, to "cleanse" a family name and restore honour, are most likely to take place in the South Asian community. A number of high-profile cases have catapulted the issue into the spotlight. In a report on the problem, Aruna Papp, a Toronto-based social worker who deals with domestic violence, argues that honour killings represent a new type violence against women in Canada. She said it is a phenomenon that demands the attention of researchers, community leaders, and politicians.
UN: In Haiti, there has been a rise in gender and sexual violence since January's earthquake made over a million people homeless. The United Nations has launched a new program to prevent rape and sexual assault in Haiti that includes training first responders and educating people in the camps.
"The United Nations has launched a new operation to combat rape and gender violence in Haiti, where some 1.3 million people were made homeless by January’s devastating earthquake, with the majority still living in camps.
Police and soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) and Haitian national police (PNH), who are often the first responders, are being trained to tackle the problem and ensure medical services for victims, the top UN official in Haiti told the Security Council today.
'I remain concerned by the situation in the camps where vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence,' MINUSTAH head Edmond Mulet said, outlining steps taken since the drafting last month of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the impoverished nation, which he was presenting to the 15-member body.
'We have also launched a public information campaign on the prevention of and response to rape,' he added, noting that a 200-strong UN police unit continues to maintain a permanent presence in six high risk camps sheltering 135,000 people and carries out daily patrols in 70 other priority camps."
CNN: Rape has become the weapon of choice in the war-torn Congo, with more than 500 rapes committed by rebels since late July. Women are constantly attacked and do not feel safe while working, in the home or with their families. While the United Nations have been slow to respond, they are working to toughen efforts to prevent rapes in the region.
"U.N. officials on Tuesday put the number of rapes and other sexual attacks in eastern Congo since late July at more than 500, more than double the previous estimate.
In remarks prepared for delivery to the Security Council after returning from a fact-finding trip to the region, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Atul Khare cited 267 rapes or other sexual attacks in the town of Uvira -- on the eastern edge of the country -- and other nearby regions of North and South Kivu, in addition to the 242 rapes that had already been reported in and near the village of Luvungi.
U.N. officials have said they will toughen efforts to stop rapes in the region.
"The women of eastern DRC deserve better," said Margot Wallstrom, a U.N. special representative for sexual violence in conflict who sent a senior member of her staff with Khare on his fact-finding mission to the region. "For them, there is no safe place. They are raped when harvesting crops; when going to market; when fetching water and firewood; when carrying their babies; when in their homes at night, among their loved ones."
She added that the rape is becoming a weapon of choice in eastern DRC. "The sad reality is that incidents of rape have become so commonplace that they do not trigger our most urgent interventions," she said."
Mother Jones: The Border Patrol is the second largest police agency in the country after the New York City Police Department, and the rapid growth in numbers has seen an exponential increase in the number of sexual assault and abuse cases against detainees.
"In line with its "enforcement only" approach to immigration, the Obama administration has increased the number of border patrol agents, most recently as part of a $600 million border bill that passed without much ado this summer. But the rapid expansion appears to have come at a cost. The Los Angeles Timesreports that there's been a surge in sexual misconduct and assault cases against Border Patrol agents—a development that some attribute to the increased militarization of the border and greater numbers of inexperienced officers.
In the last 18 months, writes the
, 'five Border Patrol agents have been accused or convicted of sex crimes, including one agent who pleaded guilty in January to raping a woman while off duty, and another who is accused of sexually assaulting a migrant while her young children were nearby in a car.'"
CNN: Because of the high rates of femicide in their home counties, Guatemalean women may be able to seek asylum in the United States. The women face an uphill battle and will have to prove that their lives are in danger, that the systematic killing of women is widespread, and that their safety is threatened.
"An appeals court ruling has raised the possibility that Guatemalan women will be able to seek asylum in the United States because of the high rates of femicide in that country.
A Guatemalan woman seeking asylum based on her belief that she would not be safe in her native country will have her case reviewed, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
Lesly Yajayra Perdomo, a native of Guatemala who entered the United States illegally as a teenager to join her mother in 1991, was facing deporation in 2003.
She requested asylum "because she feared persecution as a member of a particular social group consisting of women between the ages of fourteen and forty," according to the court document. In particular, Perdomo argued that women in Guatemala "were murdered at a high rate with impunity."
According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2006, more than 1,900 Guatemalan women and girls were killed. Many of those killings involved sexual violence and "exceptional cruelty," the organization said.
New York Times: Women in Guatemala make up about 15% of murder victims, in a country which has a murder rate of about 49 per 100,000 inhabitants. A federal court is now considering political asylum claims from a Guatemalan woman who claims that being female makes her a target in her country. This ruling could open the door to asylum claims from women from other South American counties, such as Honduras, which also has a high murder rate.
"A United States federal court ruling this week could unleash a wave of political asylum claims from applicants who say being a woman from Central America is reason enough to fear for their lives.
The ruling concerns an application by a Guatemalan woman, but activists say hundreds of thousands of women from throughout the region could use it to argue that the United States should let them immigrate.
In the ruling on Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ordered immigration judges to reconsider whether Guatemalan women constituted a “particular social group” that might be persecuted. Courts have granted such status to women who fear genital cutting and to victims of domestic abuse, but two lower courts have said that Guatemalan women constituted too broad a category."
Lucinda Marshall is the Director of the Feminist Peace Network (FPN) which she founded in December, 2001 as a virtual ‘room of our own’ where women concerned about how the impending U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (and later Iraq) would impact women’s lives could share their thoughts and ideas for action in a safe, supportive space. While initially focusing on militarism, the network, with participants from around the world, has expanded its vision to also address what Marshall calls the other terrorism, the systemic global pandemic of violence against women.
MSNBC: Due to a government sterilization campaign, Uzbec women are being pressured to have surgical sterilization, and in many cases, are operated in without their consent. Government workers urge women of childbearing age to have hysterectomies or fallopian tube ligations. Rather than focus on family planning or birth control, the government is seeking to curb population growth by promoting uteral secetions as "the most reliable form of contraception."
According to rights groups, victims and health officials, hundreds of Uzbek women have been surgically sterilized without their knowledge or consent in a program designed to prevent overpopulation from fueling unrest. Human rights advocates and doctors say autocratic President Islam Karimov this year ramped up a sterilization campaign he initiated in the late 1990s.
In a decree issued in February, the Health Ministry ordered all medical facilities to "strengthen control over the medical examination of women of childbearing age." It did not specifically mandate sterilizations, but critics allege that doctors have come under direct pressure from the government to perform them: "The order comes from the very top," said Khaitboy Yakubov, head of the Najot human rights group in Uzbekistan.
In 2007, the U.N. Committee Against Torture reported a "large number" of cases of forced sterilization and removal of reproductive organs in Uzbek women, often after cesarean sections. Some women were abandoned by their husbands as a result, it said. Tradition plays a strong role in this male-dominated society, where a large family is seen as a blessing from God, and women are often blamed for childless marriages."