In January, a woman in El Salvador who’d been imprisoned for having a miscarriage was finally pardoned, having spent seven years behind bars. The woman, known as “Guadalupe,” had been charged with having an abortion, an offense which was later changed to homicide. But while Guadalupe will be officially released today, 15 other women in her situation remain in jail.
The Center for Reproductive Rights and the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, a group dedicated to decriminalizing abortion in El Salvador, have been working together to secure the release of 17 women who are serving 3o to 40 years sentences for having obstetric emergencies that resulted in miscarriages. Only Guadalupe has won a pardon. Another woman finished her prison sentence and was released. The Agrupación Ciudadana announced today that they have learned that the legislature will refused to review pardon applications for any of the other 15 women.
Around 5,000 people rallied against French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore on Sunday, and the founder of a group banned for militant links urged protesters to boycott French products.
Hafiz Saeed, who founded Lashkar-e-Taiba, an organization banned for launching attacks in neighboring India, told protesters: “We will launch a movement against the insulting caricatures of our beloved prophet.”
French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a picture of the Prophet Muhammad weeping on its cover last week after two gunmen stormed its offices and killed 12 people. The gunmen said their attack was revenge for previous cartoons the magazine had published mocking Islam.
Saeed urged traders to stop importing French products and for Pakistani leaders to try to get an international law against blasphemy passed.
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.
On Friday, protesters trying to storm the French consulate in the southern city of Karachi shot and injured a photographer working for French news agency AFP.
Saeed called for more rallies next Friday. He says he has no links to militancy these days and only runs a charity, which is banned by the U.S. government for suspected militant links. The U.S. government has offered $10 million for information leading to Saeed’s conviction.
A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.
Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country’s north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun.”
Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.
“God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on,” he wrote in his ruling.
Thanks to Brian F. for the tip!
The Associated Press has removed an image of Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph “Piss Christ” from its image library following Wednesday’s attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images. It is fair to say we have revised and reviewed our policies since 1989,” AP spokesperson Erin Madigan told POLITICO, referring to the year the AP first posted the photograph.
Until today, the AP’s policy allowed for Serrano’s photograph, which depicts a statue of Christ submerged in urine and has repeatedly caused controversy when exhibited. “Piss Christ” was once vandalized, and both Serrano and gallery owners have received death threats over the years.
Following Wednesday’s attack, the photo has been replaced on the AP’s website with a note that reads, “Oops! This image is not part of your portfolio. Please contact customer support.”
The AP was one of several news organizations to either blur or crop photos featuring a Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed. In an email earlier today, AP spokesperson Paul Colford cited the “longstanding policy” as its reason for not showing the cartoons.
Both the cropping of the Hebdo cartoons and the decision to remove Serrano’s photo have been interpreted by many as a capitulation to the attackers’ efforts to limit the freedom of expression. Though there identity is as yet unknown, the masked gunmen are believed to be Islamic terrorists.
An international Delta Airlines flight was reportedly delayed for roughly half an hour when several ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refused to sit next to female passengers.
Israel Radio first reported that Delta Flight 468, bound for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport from John F. Kennedy Airport, took off 30 minutes after its scheduled departure time due to commotion onboard. Several Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox men, refused to sit in their assigned seats, which placed them next to women. But other passengers also refused to swap seats with the men, causing the prolonged delay.
In Ultra-orthodox Judaism, physical contact between men and women is forbidden unless they are first-degree relatives or married to one another.
As BBC explains, the tradition of cooking albinos into potions is not a new one in Tanzania, and the parents of albino parents are forced to fear that, at any minute, a band of men may kidnap their children to sell to wealthy sectors of society for use in witchcraft.
It is estimated, the BBC notes, that 30,000 albinos live in Tanzania. Within that population, the number of violent attacks resulting in death in recent years is alarming: more than 70 albinos killed for their skin and hair. Of those, the BBC reports that only ten convictions have occurred, which activists attribute to the fact that well-connected and wealthy people were behind the attacks.
More than two million Hindus massed in a remote corner of Nepal on Friday for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals to honour a goddess, defying protests from rights activists.
Devotees turned the village of Bariyapur and its surrounding fields near the Indian border into the world’s largest abattoir for the two-day festival with animals ranging from buffaloes to rats sacrificed.
Parents and their children along with the elderly poured into the village, which resembled a carnival with stalls selling balloons, sweets, toys and religious paraphernalia.
“It has been a grand day,” said head priest Mangal Chaudhary near a temple devoted to the Hindu goddess of power Gadhimai.
“The buffalo sacrifice has ended, but we will continue the rituals with goats and other animals for one more day,” Chaudhary told AFP.
Animal carcasses and severed heads were piling up in the large fields where many devotees were handing over their animals to butchers and others to carry out the sacrifices, eyewitnesses told AFP.
“It is very bloody… you can hear the animals moaning,” said Rameshwor Mehta, 50, who was waiting to offer his prayers.
About 2.5 million devotees — arriving by bus, tractor and other vehicles — have turned out for the festival, according to local government official Yogendra Prasad Dulal, who said it was “impossible to estimate” the total number of animals sacrificed so far.
Worshippers on the first day slaughtered more than 6,000 buffaloes, which were coralled into holding pens in the fields, along with at least 100,000 goats and other animals, head priest Chaudhary told AFP.
Sita Ram Yadav, a 55-year-old farmer who had travelled three hours to attend the festival, said the atmosphere was “like a carnival”.
“I am offering a goat to Gadhimai to keep my family safe. If you believe in her, she grants your wishes,” Yadav told AFP.
The Indonesian government subjects female applicants for Indonesia’s National Police to discriminatory and degrading “virginity tests,” Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch interviewed female police and police applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the test, two of them in 2014. Applicants who “failed” were not necessarily expelled from the force, but all of the women described the test as painful and traumatic. Policewomen have raised the issue with senior police officials, who have at times claimed the practice has been discontinued. But the test is listed as a requirement for women applicants on the official police recruitment website, and Human Rights Watch interviews suggest it is still being widely applied.
“The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women,” said Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it.”
The tests contravene National Police principles that recruitment must be both “nondiscriminatory” and “humane,” and violate the international human rights to equality, nondiscrimination, and privacy. Coerced “virginity tests” can also constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment prohibited under international law.
Between May and October 2014, Human Rights Watch interviewed eight current and former policewomen and applicants, as well as police doctors, a police recruitment evaluator, a National Police Commission member, and women’s rights activists. Interviews were conducted in the cities of Bandung, Jakarta, Padang, Pekanbaru, Makassar, and Medan. All of the women who had undergone the test said it was applied to all other women in their police class as well.
The “virginity tests” are conducted under Chief Police Regulation No. 5/2009 on Health Inspection (Pemeriksaan Kesehatan) Guidelines for Police Candidates. Article 36 of the regulation requires female police academy applicants to undergo an “obstetrics and gynecology” examination. While the regulation does not specify that a “virginity test” is to be administered as part of the exam, two senior policewomen told Human Rights Watch that it has long been the practice. The test is given early in the recruitment process as part of the applicants’ physical exam. Police Medical and Health Center (Pusat Kedokteran dan Kesehatan) personnel conduct the tests primarily in police-operated hospitals. Human Rights Watch found that the examination has included the discredited and degrading “two-finger test” to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact.
Many Asian and African women working as domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates say their employers beat them with sticks or cables, punched and slapped them, and there’s little they can do because they’re excluded from the country’s labor law protections, a rights group said Thursday.
The abuse complaints are rampant throughout the wealthy Persian Gulf region that relies on foreign labor. The Human Rights Watch says the problem is that the migrant workers’ residency is tied to their employers through a sponsorship system that prevents them easily changing jobs.
It cited passport confiscation, non-payment of wages, excessive work, forced confinement, food deprivation and psychological, physical and sexual abuse.
The New York-based advocacy group said the report was based on interviews with 99 women domestic workers, recruitment agents and employers in the UAE. Twenty-two of the women said their employers physically abused them, beating them with sticks or cables, punching or slapping their faces, kicking or chocking them. Six said their employers or members of the household sexually assaulted or harassed them.
Some 146,000 migrant women are employed as domestic helpers in the UAE, one of the world’s 10 richest countries. Most of them come from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Ethiopia.
A 28-year-old Indonesian quoted in the report said her employer beat her every day and in March last year twisted her right arm behind her back so severely that it broke a bone above her wrist. The employer refused to take her to a doctor. Two months later, the employer threw a shoe at her foot so forcefully her foot bled. The worker managed to escape.
Another Indonesian worker said her employer raped her last year when he took her to clean a second house he bought. A Filipino worker said her employers would slap or punch her to make her “work harder.”
Almost all workers interviewed complained of long hours, up to 21 hours per day in extreme cases, the report added. Many complained of not being paid on time or in full. One said she was never paid for almost three years.
The report said workers often endure months of abuse and exploitation because of fear of deportation, of being banned for future employment or being charged for “absconding.”
Though homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, police have been using social media and smartphone applications to hunt down and arrest gays and lesbians. Two gay Egyptians, who hide their sexuality and live in fear of being arrested, tell us their story.
A week ago, seven men were arrested after they appeared in a video showing a marriage ceremony between two men. The footage showed a gay couple exchanging vows and rings under a traditional canopy on a boat on the Nile, in the presence of a small group of friends. The footage was shared across social media and was picked up by the local press, who condemned this ceremony.
At the beginning of the week, the public prosecutor’s office ordered the two men featured in the ceremony to undergo “medical tests” that were supposed to be able to determine if they were homosexual. However, after the men were “tested,” the authorities admitted that the results showed that they had not engaged in homosexual relations.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt. Despite this, numerous people have been arrested while taking part in festivities celebrating gay unions and accused of “debauchery.” In May, for example, four men were arrested during a party organised in Nasr City, located east of Cairo. One of them was sentenced to 12 years of prison, the heaviest sentence ever given to an LGBT person in Egypt.