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8/3/2000 - Bosnian Woman Faints During Testimony Against Serb War Criminal

A Bosnian Muslim woman testifying in a civil lawsuit against the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs fainted in a federal court as she described her rape and torture during the Balkans conflict in 1992. She said that the soldiers, who wore photographs of their leader Radovan Karadzic, captured her and her two young children and repeatedly raped her inside a mountainside shack. “I could not resist, I could not fight them. I could not resist because the others were holding me while my children were watching.” Although Karadzic has been indicted for genocide by the international war tribunal in The Hague, the lawsuit, which seeks millions of dollars from Karadzic, is the first time American courts have ever exerted federal jurisdiction on a Bosnian war case. Karadzic, who is believed to be hiding in Bosnia, is regarded as the mastermind of the genocide, rape, and torture that ravaged Bosnia in the early 1990s.


8/2/2000 - Japanese Panel Calls for Action on Domestic Violence

An advisory panel on gender equality to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori urged the Japanese government to enact legislation that would end domestic violence on July 31st. The Council for Gender Equality labeled domestic violence a criminal act, warning in its report that there is "not a moment to lose" in halting violence in the home. Domestic violence has long been perceived in Japan as a personal issue rather than as a crime. Calling for tougher legislation and increased counseling, the Council denounced the reluctance of police and public institutions to intervene in cases of domestic violence. One in 21 women polled have said that that their husbands or partners committed life-threatening violence against them, according to a survey released by the Prime Minister's Office in February.


8/2/2000 - 53 Women and Children Massacred in Burundi For Resisting Government Move

Fifty three women and children were killed by uniformed men in Burundi when they refused to go to a government regroupment camp on July 22nd. The government has forced hundreds of tens of thousands of people into regroupment camps, claiming that their land is necessary to counter rebel forces. Burundi's civil war has lasted seven years and claimed at least 200,000 lives, mostly civilian.


8/2/2000 - Rightist Violence and Xenophobia Escalate in Germany

Since the fall of the Berlin wall ten years ago, Germany has suffered from rightist violence, and more recently, attacks against immigrants have increased. On July 27th Neo-nazi skinheads bombed Dusseldorf, wounding nine immigrants. The most violence incident occurred in the eastern town of Eisenach, where Neo-Nazis attacked African asylum seekers. In the last decade, over 100 people have been killed in Germany as a result of xenophobic assaults. According to a New York Times report, the violence is partly due to high unemployment in eastern Berlin and the reluctance of Germans to adopt multiculturalism. The relatively new concept of a multicultural Germany is a policy priority of the government, which is attempting to make the country a "land of immigration."


8/2/2000 - Gays and Lesbians Tortured During South African Apartheid

In a disturbing program that sought to "cure" homosexuals by applying "aversion therapy" to suspected "deviants," the South African Defense Force (SADF) tortured, chemically castrated, and performed sex-change operations on national servicepeople during the apartheid era. According to a report by the Medical Research Council, the "aversion therapy" was created and tested by Aubrey Levine, a chief psychiatrist at Voortrekkerhoogte, a military hospital. Many of the remaining victims today are crippled and left mutilated by incomplete sex-change operations, and others are sterile as a result of the chemical castration. One victim of chemical castration committed suicide after carefully documenting the abuses perpetrated by Levine. Among other atrocities, Levine allegedly forced victims to participate in the gang rape of Angolan woman.

The SADF targeted suspected lesbians in the armed forces as well. Targeted lesbians were subjected to severe electric shocks. Trudie Gobler, an intern psychologist who was forced to watch a therapy session conducted by Levine, said that the electric shocks were so severe that the shoes of one suspected lesbian flew off. "I presume that the same strength, method and everything was given to the woman. It was traumatic. I could not believe how her body could handle it." The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality in South Africa estimates that the number of victims of the top-secret project to be in the hundreds.


8/2/2000 - Two African Nations May Face Sanctions For Breaking U.N. Diamond Embargo

The United States and Britain condemned Liberia and Burkina Faso for their military assistance to a brutal rebel group in Sierra Leone, accusing the West African nations of violating a United Nations embargo. Liberia and Burkina Faso may face unilateral sanctions from the U.S. and Britain for arming the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) group with weapons, food, fuel, and medical supplies in return for access to Sierra Leone's diamonds. RUF depends on its smuggling of diamonds to Liberia and Burkina Faso for its purchase of weapons. "The governments of Liberia and Burkina Faso ... are fueling the war in Sierra Leone and profiting from the arms-for-diamonds trade," remarked Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. At a two-day United Nations hearing on Sierra Leone diamonds beginning on July 31st, witnesses testified that the presidents of Liberia and Burkina Faso were directing RUF's war strategy and facilitating the diamond business.

The RUF is known for gruesome practices such as chopping off the breasts of women, systematically raping women and children, and kidnapping children to use them as soldiers. In recent months, the rebels held more than 500 U.N. hostages and incited conflict with U.N. peacekeepers.


8/1/2000 - Women Prisons Established by the Taliban

The women prisons established by the Taliban represent yet another facet of the gender apartheid imposed by the brutal regime. Mary MacMakin, an American aid worker who was imprisoned by the Taliban for four days in July, commented, "The jail had four women to a room. New arrivals would sit down on the steps sobbing and sobbing." Taliban authorities refuse to release jailed women until they prove that they have learned passages from the Koran.

According to a report by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, several Taliban-operated prisons, all in poor condition, arbitrarily detain hundreds of women. In Kandahar province, a women's prison allegedly holds more than 400 women. One woman was imprisoned for speaking to a man in the street. The Taliban, which controls 90 percent of Afghanistan, has prohibited women from leaving their homes without a close male relative. Taliban authorities have beaten women for trying to go to work and for leaving their homes alone or without wearing a burqa.


8/1/2000 - Abortion Controversy in Ireland Provokes Rape Debate

Ireland's Attorney General Michael McDowell claimed on July 30th that women would make false rape accusations if the Irish government allowed survivors of rape to have abortions. Abortions remain illegal in all cases except endangerment of the mother's life in the Republic of Ireland. But little evidence exists to support McDowell's claim, according to Olive Braiden, director of the Rape Crisis Center. In fact, the new focus on false accusations of rape neglects the reality of this pervasive crime, while trivializing the debilitating experiences that rape survivors undergo. "When you consider the time a rape victim has to wait, the trauma, the lengths you have to go to and the low number of convictions, I felt the point he made absolutely jarred with any woman in this situation," Braiden commented.

Recent reports indicate that approximately 6,000 women a year travel to Britain for abortions. Amid recent criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Committee, legislators and religious groups, most prominently from the Catholic Church, are mired in an intense debate over a possible reform of abortion laws.


8/1/2000 - UN Denounces Australia's Discrimination Against Aborigines

The United Nations Human Rights Committee sharply criticized the Australian government's oppression of Aborigines, stating that its discrimination against indigenous people violated an international human rights treaty. The panel of international experts urged Australia to reform mandatory sentencing laws that set jail terms for repeat offenders, which target and disproportionately punish young Aborigines who commit minor crimes. The committee also rebuked Australia for its reluctance to amend the damage done by past assimilation policies. Between 1910 and 1970 the government authorized the abduction of around 100,000 young Aborigines so that the indigenous persons could be raised in a "civilized" environment. The U.N. panel, urging Australia to make compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights a legal priority, argued that Aborigines - who constitute 2.3 percent of a population of 19 million - still suffer from discrimination.


8/1/2000 - American Soldier Faces Sentencing For Kosovo Murder

An American soldier who confessed to murdering an 11-year-old girl while on peacekeeping operations in Kosovo will face sentencing on July 31st. U.S. Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi pled guilty to the sodomy and premeditated murder of an ethnic Albanian girl in Kosovo. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without chance of parole.


7/28/2000 - New Bills In France Would Allow Greater Access To Abortions And Contraceptives

France is proposing a new law that would extend the legal period for abortion from 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The new proposal would erase the current legal provision that requires parental authorization for girls under the age of 18 to have an abortion or purchase the "morning-after pill. According to the Employment Minister, each year some 5,000 French women are forced to seek abortions in other countries due to the 10-week legal deadline to terminate pregnancy.

In a separate proposed bill that is scheduled for introduction in Parliament later this year would allow girls to purchase the "morning-after pill" over the counter without a prescription or parental authorization. If this bill becomes law it would overturn a ruling by France's highest administrative court that bans school nurses from distributing contraceptives to girls without a prescription.


7/28/2000 - Dangerous Prospects for Afghan Asylum Seekers in Britain

The Immigration Appeals Centre in London has denied the asylum appeal of four of the 31 Afghan asylum seekers who were on board the hijacked Afghan aircraft that arrived at Stansted airport in Essex on February 7 of this year. A 21-year-old former medical student told immigration officials, "I'm not prepared to go back to Afghanistan under any circumstances. If the worst comes to the worst you will have to kill me and send my body back to Afghanistan." He reported that he had received lashings and been imprisoned by the Taliban militia for serving women in his work at a tailor shop. The brutal gender apartheid policies of the Taliban have systematically stripped women and girls in Afghanistan of their visibility, voice, and mobility. Judge Hubert Dunn described the medical students claim to asylum as "all but non-existent." Alarmingly, one woman was among the most recent four denied asylum.

The asylum-seekers appealed Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision to deny them political asylum because they claim to fear that the Taliban militia will kill them if they are returned to Afghanistan. Those denied asylum have 10 days to make a final appeal. The verdict on the remaining appeals are expected to be handed down in the next few days.


7/28/2000 - Dangerous Prospects for Afghan Asylum Seekers in Britain

The Immigration Appeals Centre in London has denied the asylum appeal of four of the 31 Afghan asylum seekers who were on board the hijacked Afghan aircraft that arrived at Stansted airport in Essex on February 7 of this year. A 21-year-old former medical student told immigration officials, "I'm not prepared to go back to Afghanistan under any circumstances. If the worst comes to the worst you will have to kill me and send my body back to Afghanistan." He reported that he had received lashings and been imprisoned by the Taliban militia for serving women in his work at a tailor shop. The brutal gender apartheid policies of the Taliban have systematically stripped women and girls in Afghanistan of their visibility, voice, and mobility. Judge Hubert Dunn described the medical students claim to asylum as "all but non-existent." Alarmingly, one woman was among the most recent four denied asylum.

The asylum-seekers appealed Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision to deny them political asylum because they claim to fear that the Taliban militia will kill them if they are returned to Afghanistan. Those denied asylum have 10 days to make a final appeal. The verdict on the remaining appeals are expected to be handed down in the next few days.


7/28/2000 - U.S. Urges Establishment of Tribunal To Prosecute Sierra Leone Rebel Leaders

The United States is pushing for the creation of a war tribunal that would prosecute rebel leaders in Sierra Leone for their war crimes, including rape and mutilation of women and girls. The U.S. is in particular seeking to prosecute rebels of the evolutionary United Front, who held 500 U.N. peacekeepers hostage for several weeks in May. Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front rebel group, is currently in government custody and will most likely be one of the first people prosecuted. Although the call for the tribunal's creation represents a positive step, establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC) that prosecutes war criminals across the globe is more likely to secure gender equality and justice in the long-term. The ICC would serve as a breakthrough for the ongoing protection of women's rights by providing a mechanism for bringing to justice perpetrators of inhumane crimes against women and girls. In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to establish the ICC.


7/27/2000 - Violence Prevention Plan Will Aid Latin American Women

To stem the rampant levels of domestic violence that afflict Latin American women, five international organizations have backed a plan that will establish networks of prevention and rehabilitation for survivors of psychological and physical abuse. The ground-breaking plan will include home visits by nurses and social workers to those who are at risk or have already experienced abuse, as well as violence prevention seminars and educational programs. Between 10 and 30 percent Latin American women suffer physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a study by the Prevention of Violence at the Pan-American Health Organization. In urban cities such as Cali, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, and Caracas, over fifty percent of the women questioned admitted to having suffered domestic violence.

The effect of domestic violence on women is devastating, according to Dr. Pamela Hartigan, the acting director at the World Health Organization's (WHO) Department for Violence and Non-Intentional Injury Prevention. "Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, eating problems and sexual dysfunction," she remarked. In addition to the mental and physical health consequences, survivors of domestic violence are less likely to earn money. In one city in Nicaragua, "abused women earned 46 percent less than women who did not suffer abuse, even after controlling for other factors that affect earning," Hartigan pointed out.


7/27/2000 - African Women Convene to Focus on Impoverished Women

Forty delegates from finance sectors across 14 African countries will convene in South Africa this week to discuss methods of empowering poor women. The conference, organized by Women's World Banking (WWB), will establish a regional network representing 326 institutions that aims to increase women's access to finance, technology, and markets. "What we need are more institutions committed to sustainable microfinance. The organization emerging from this meeting will make a difference in the lives of millions of poor Africans," stated Nancy Barry, the president of WWB.


7/27/2000 - Women in Malaysia Petition Government for Equal Rights

Ninety women non-governmental organizations are proposing that the Malaysian government become more gender-sensitive by allowing women to have a voice in every aspect of the country's development plan, the Eighth Malaysia Plan. Their proposal would give women voices in all areas including entrepreneurship, agriculture, and sports. Datuk Shahrizat, who is in charge of the women's affairs department for the Prime Minister, said that the Prime Minister appeared


7/27/2000 - Ban on Domestic Violence in China Urged

Women’s rights advocates and legal experts are pushing to reform China’s existing marriage law to ban family violence, which occurs in 30 percent of Chinese families, according to surveys conducted by the All-China Women’s Federation.

Chinese women are targets of domestic abuse because of their economic dependence on husbands and poorer educational backgrounds, according to Pi Xiamoing, author of “White Paper on Family Violence” and a prominent lawyer. Approximately 32 percent of the abused wives were regularly beaten four times a month, and an additional 39 percent were beaten more than once every month.


7/25/2000 - Women NGO Workers Fight for Safety in Pakistan

The safety of NGO workers in Peshawar, Pakistan is endangered by Islamic extremists who charge that NGO activities violate the codes of Islam. In early July, Maulvi Ziaul Haq, a local Islamic cleric who resides near the headquarters of the NGOs, accused NGOs in weekly sermons of spreading secularism. Six years ago, more than 15 people were killed in an armed movement by extremists who sought to enforce Islamic law in the area. The Amal Project, which has established 40 community-based schools for girls, has been targeted by extremists. NGO workers suggested that the Islamic clerics' opposition to gender equality largely explains the hostility towards NGOs. The clerics "do not want educated women around and feel threatened by them," remarked Noor Marjan, a local woman working in the Amal Project.


7/25/2000 - Domestic Violence Against Women Increases in War-Torn Kosovo

Violence against women has increased in Kosovo, suggesting that postwar trauma has added yet another threat to women's safety. Domestic violence is still not considered a crime in Kosovo, and lawyers are often reluctant to take cases that target husbands for wife beating and rape. "Violence on women has deep roots in the Kosovar Albanian society, where force is respected, beating is a kind of education and shutting up, an unwritten rule," remarked Rachel Wareham, a writer of a U.N. sponsored report on domestic violence in Kosovo. According to Wareham, a quarter of women in Kosovo have experienced domestic violence in the last two years.


7/25/2000 - Spanish Women Sue Islamic Author For Wife-Beating Advice

Spanish women's organizations sued a prominent Islamic leader for writing a book that offers detailed instructions on wife-beating. Spain's Federation of Separated and Divorced Women, which presented the lawsuit on July 24th in Barcelona, accused Mohammad Kemal Mustafa, author of Women in Islam, for inciting violence and discrimination against women and violating article 510 of the Spanish code. "That article expressly states that advocating violence or discrimination on grounds of sex or family situation is a punishable offense," remarked the federation's lawyer, Maria Jose Varela. Mustafa, who as Imam of Fuengirola leads one of the country's largest Muslim communities, describes in his 120-page book how to beat a woman while avoiding discovery; the fine and light rod, Mustafa recommends, does not "leave scars or bruises on the body."


7/25/2000 - Women in Eastern Europe Caught in Sex Trade

Tens of thousands of young Eastern European women are being lured into the sex trade by criminals who are making enormous profits. By coercing them into leaving the poverty of their own countries, like Bosnia and Macedonia, for a better life in Western Europe, these criminals deceive women into becoming prostitutes and then enslave and abuse these women. The International Organization for Migration reports that at least 300,000 women from Eastern Europe work as prostitutes in Western Europe, while the U.N. and other sources estimate that indirect global profits from the sex trade range from 7 billion to 12 billion dollars a year. The success of the criminals who engage in and support the Eastern European sex trade is linked to the cooperation of many corrupt government officials in the former Yugoslav federation, who share in the profits.


7/24/2000 - More Iranian Women Attend Universities

The number of Iranian women attending a university has risen substantially in the past two years. Between 1990 to 2000, the number of women entering universities tripled, and women students outnumber men in disciplines such as medicine and social sciences. Despite these changes, women only constitute 14 percent of the labor force and are overrepresented in the unemployment rolls by a factor of 2 to 1, according to a recent United Nations report on human development in Iran. The universities, which ban visitors and music for women and closely monitor dress and reading materials, continue to impose strict restrictions on the women's lives.


7/24/2000 - Irish Women Have More Late Abortions

Irish women are nearly three times as likely to have late abortions than British women, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). Of the 6,214 Irish women who traveled to Britain to have abortions, almost 40 percent of the clients at BPAS had not received counseling. Currently, more than six thousand women in Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, must travel to Great Britain for abortion services. Ann Furedi of the BPAS commented that the "additional obstacles that they have to surmount to get over to Britain" explained the lateness of the women's abortions, pointing out that the costs of travel and absence of legal support were difficult barriers.


7/24/2000 - Sexual Harassment Not Given Enough Attention in China

Sexual harassment victims in China do not feel that they are receiving enough support, according to a recent survey by the Chinese Women's College that included 4,000 women residing in urban areas. Many reported that they frequently witnessed situations of sexual harassment at the office and in public, but that they did not realize such behavior constituted a violation of women's rights.