International Women’s Health & Human Rights
We've compiled a series of articles related to women and health/medicine, development, law, culture and human rights. Click the headlines to view the original articles.
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New Afghanistan Law to Silence Victims of Violence Against Women
The Guardian (Emma Graham-Harrison) – February 4th 2014
A new law in Afghanistan prevents family members from testifying against each other on issues regarding domestic violence. Because most violence against women takes place in the home, this new law, which has been passed by parliament but not yet signed by President Karzai, makes it nearly impossible for perpetrators of violence to be punished for their crime.
Mobile Phone Usage Explodes in Africa, Spurring Innovation
PBS News (Martin Seemungal) – February 15th, 2014
This fascinating news update describes the incredible impact and capability of the mobile phone in Kenya. The mobile phone’s ability to impact women, particularly on the use of SMS texts between a midwife and pregnant mothers as well as reducing the reliance of women upon middlemen, is incredibly inspiring and highlights the positive impact technology can have.
Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms
New York Times (Gina Kolata) – February 12th, 2014
A recent study of 90,000 women in Canada (which took over 25 years to complete) found that mortality rates of women who had breast exams and no mammogram and women who had breast exams and mammograms were the same. Thus, the study calls into question the effectiveness of mammograms. In fact, 1 in 5 of the women who received mammograms and were found to have cancer underwent treatment and/or medical procedures that were unnecessary, suggesting that sometimes mammograms can do more harm than good.
U. N. Report Says Progress for Women is Unequal
New York Times (Somini Sengupta) – February 12th, 2014
In the last two decades, women worldwide have fewer children, higher literacy, and are less likely to die while delivering babies. However, the improvements have disproportionately benefitted wealthy countries. In poor countries, childbirth is still the leading cause of death in women between 15-19, for example, and little overall progress has been made in women's health.
Is Some Talk Too Gay for Singapore?
Wall Street Journal (Chun Han Wong) – February 6th, 2014
Singapore's Health Promotion Board recently published an online brochure on sexuality, which sparked debate about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in Singapore. Petitions have emerged, some calling upon the government to remove the brochure because it promotes homosexuality, and others applauding the brochure.
In Pakistan, Valentines are Exchanged in Secret
Washington Post (Naila Inayat) – February 13th, 2014
This article describes Valentine's Day in Pakistan, a country where the punishment for adultery is death and public displays of love are banned. Couples celebrate the holiday secretly and use the day as a "form of rebellion."
Clinton launches data drive on women’s empowerment
Washington Post (Associated Press) - February 13th, 2014
The Clinton Foundation, Gates Foundation and New York University are evaluating the progress of women's rights since the 1995 Beijing conference. The effort is spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, who wishes to obtain data that guides what needs to be done to increase female presence in education, politics, and the economy across the world.
The president should clarify ‘Helms’ law to allow abortions for wars’ rape victims
Washington Post (Brian Atwood and Peter Fenn) – Febrary 13th, 2014
The Helms Amendment of 1973 restricts the use of U.S. foreign aid for abortions "as a method of family planning." This opinion piece argues that because pregnancies that result from rape have nothing to do with family planning, the law should be clarified to allow foreign aid to help victims of rape, incest, and life-endangerment find resources for abortions.
Women Who Are Refused Abortions More Likely to Face Poverty
The Wire (Lucy Wescott) – February 14th, 2014
This article comments on the declining rate of abortions in the United States. Abortion rates have reached their lowest level since 1973. Some 50% of pregnancies in American women are unintended, but only 21% end in abortion. Women who have had a baby, but did not intend to, are three times more likely to be living in poverty compared to women who have undergone an abortion instead.
Hong Kong’s Indentured Servants
New York Times (Gratiane de Moustier) – February 13th, 2014
This opinion piece discusses women in Asia who travel outside of their homeland to work as domestic laborers abroad. Lack of regulation and laws regarding the rights of these women often leave them vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment.
Kenya’s Battle To End Sex for Fish Trade
BBC News (Mark Lowen) – February 17th, 2014
Women in Kenya have been negotiating with fishermen for generations. When buying the fish sold at markets, they pay half with currency and half with their bodies. This practice is gradually being eradicated as women are empowered through micro-enterprise business practices to own their own fishing boats.
Spanish women protest against new laws limiting the availability of abortions
The Independent (Alasdair Fotheringham) – February 16th, 2014
Women across Spain are protesting prospective new laws that would limit abortions to only rape victims or those under serious health risks. To protest this prospective law, women's rights activists are symbolically "registering their bodies as property" at offices across the country to demonstrate how this new law treats them as property and strips them of fundamental human rights. Activists claim that this law is emblematic of women's treatment for years in Spain, stemming from the authoritarian Francoist period, and although thousands of protests have occurred and regional parliaments have voted against the reforms, the ruling Partido Popular party remains committed to passing these restrictions.
Embracing Shame: turning honour on its head
Open Democracy (Heidi Basch-Harod) – February 14th, 2014
This article, authored by a participant in the International Women's Health and Human Rights open online course (MOOC), discusses the concept of “honour” in many societies, and how upholding “honour” leads to violations of women’s rights. Basch-Harod explores the growing number of both women and men in these communities who question pre-conceived notions of “honour” (particularly in the context of FGMs and forced marriages) and instead “embrace shame” and act in a truly moral fashion.
This bulletin is a publication of International Women's Health & Human Rights (IWHHR). It was prepared by Ashley Jowell, Lara Mitra and Kevin Hsu. For more information, please visit www.internationalwomenshealth.org
A roundup of stories related to women's health, development, law, culture and human rights from around the world.