Friday Links | May 10, 2013

Pakistan will vote on May 11, and women, both as voters and as candidates, are the subject of many articles in the news last week. First there is the question of women voters: IPS speaks with several Pakistani women and asks them what women voters really want. But not all women get a chance to vote in Pakistan: in the tribal areas leaflets have been spread urging men to not allow women to cast votes or to be influenced by any candidate and one village, Meetala, made the news when its men declared that they had decided that that their women will not vote during the elections; some question the mental abilities of women to make such an important decision. This resistance against women and voting is not uncommon, especially in the tribal areas, and activists in Pakistan are planning to deploy protection teams in order to safeguard women voters. But women are not only voters: in Khyber Pakhtunwa province, women have been campaigning actively, because their party has been instructed to leave the volatile area and not campaign there. Ruquiya Hashmi is a female Shi’a Hazara candidate from Balochistan and has received death threats, but she is determined to keep going, as she is, in her own words, a brave woman. Hijra’s or shemales are now also allowed to run for elections, and NewStatesman profiles some of the transgender candidates.

A greeting card with a Muslim doll depicted as a terrorist, which was originally published in 2011, has not met many laughs among many Muslim Americans.

Many women in Mali have said to have become victims of rape and sexual violence during the rebel takeover of northern Mali last year, but aid workers say there has been little support and virtually no justice for these women so far.

Mothers in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu are waiting for their children to be vaccinated. Somalia has one of the lowest child immunisation rates in the world, and an estimated one in five children dies from a curable disease before their fifth birthday. Image by Kate Holt/BBC

Turkish women activists have gone to the streets to demand male brothels for women, which has further heated the debate whether Turkey should continue to run brothels.

Corruption in Afghanistan does not only negatively impact growth and development, it seriously affects the lives of many individuals, women in particular.

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in Edinburgh, Scotland for shouting abuse to two Muslim women and trying to remove their hijabs.

A gendarme officer has been formally indicted on rape charges related to the 28 September 2009 massacre in Conakry, Guinea. It is estimated that 109 women were raped that day and over 150 people died.

Saudi Arabia allows private girls’ schools to offer some sports, as long as it in line with the Shari’a law.

Underage marriage is now punishable by law in Uzbekistan, with fines and even jail.

A remark during a news conference by the Egyptian Information Minister aimed a female journalist is just another example of how huge the problem of sexual harassment is in Egypt. And no apology issued, nor needed, according to the Minister.

Women activists who speak out against the practice of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) say that they face danger and abuse from their own communities.

The government in Tajikistan is proposing to ban marriages between first cousins in order to reduce the number of babies born with birth defects, but the proposed ban is already facing resistance in the country.

A severe water crisis at six camps for displaced people in Darfur, Sudan, is putting many women at risk for rape and sexual assault, as they have to walk now an average of 3 to 5 km in order to fetch water. speaks to Tunisian activist Saloua Guiga about the current situation of women in the North African country.

Six Uyghur women are held by Chinese authorities, after a violent crackdown on a Uyghur protest outside a mosque in Shanghai; the women were street sellers, who not normally sell their food after Friday prayers, but are now forbidden to do so.

Due to a lack of resources, and often a lack of support too, most divorced Muslim women in India end up in poverty and despair.

Afghanistan’s minister of education has said that he will punish schoolgirls who allegedly suffer from poisoning; many officials believe that these cases are actually examples of temporary psychological illnesses, as there are often no traces of poison found.

Despite stringent laws, polygamy, or rather polygyny, has regained popularity in Morocco, with almost half of the population supporting the practice.

The vast majority of Germany’s population regards Islam as a misogynist religion, but in reality the image of “oppressed Muslim women” does not correspond with the real life situation in which most Muslim women in Germany find themselves.

In the not-so-distant past, Iraqi women enjoyed more equality and opportunities than many other women in the region, according UN data, but due to the invasion and insecurity the status of Iraqi women has deteriorated.

Kuwait launches sports clubs for women, a first for the Gulf nation.

The factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed hundreds of (predominantly female) workers has so far not resulted in any meaningful changes in the international labour practices of U.S. based clothing companies.

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