Focus on Energy
From an article titled Worse than the Taliban:
Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan‘s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission.
The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution’s equal rights provisions.
The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex. [Emphasis added]
Reports of sexual assault by US military personnel against both fellow troops and civilians rose by 8% last year to 2,923, the Pentagon says.
The number of incidents reported in Iraq and Afghanistan rose by about a quarter on the previous year to 163.
Pentagon officials say the jump in reports suggests the department’s policy of encouraging victims to come forward is bearing results.
But they estimate that no more than 20% of attacks are actually reported.
“Given the fear and stigma associated with the crime, sexual assault remains one of our nation’s most under-reported crimes in both the military and civilian community,” said Dr Kaye Whitley, the director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office.
A UN-produced video on Fistula in Afghanistan. Apparently, there is only one facility in the whole country where obstetric fistula is surgically treated.
UPDATE: A reader corrects me: “Actually, the video reports that, in addition to the special unit in Kabul, surgery for fistula has also been performed at the provincial hospital in Badakhshan, in northeast Afghanistan (among other hospitals).”
The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health estimates that over a million people lose their lives to violence and millions more are injured and maimed every year. The report states that violence is “among the leading causes of death among people aged 15-44 years worldwide, accounting for 14% of deaths among males and 7% of deaths among females.” What’s so disturbing is the myriad forms this violence takes and how deeply pervasive and borderless it is. Across the globe and across the centuries, humans have committed the most barbaric acts, limited only by their imaginations, and the march of civilization has done little to change the grim reality that on any given day, in every corner of our planet, gruesome and ungodly things are done to women, children and men. In Beirut during the 70s and early 80s, I witnessed terrible acts of violence, car bombs at supermarkets and missile strikes on residential neighborhoods, bloody bodies and corpses in the street, the carnage of urban warfare. It has made me keenly attuned to the darker aspects of human nature, the willingness to brutalize one another. Four decades on this planet and I still cannot fathom how a man can rape a baby, how people can gas, hack, strangle, shoot, smother, burn, and torture their fellow humans. Rather than become dulled and inured from violence overload, I am ever more appalled and horrified by it. Take this CNN report on gang-raping little girls in Darfur:
Can we even imagine the anguish felt by these young victims and their families? Can words and images conjure their REAL suffering and fear?
IntLawGrrls reminds us that 29 years ago yesterday, on March 1, 1980, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was opened for signature. Since then, 185 countries have signed and ratified the treaty. Of the seven UN Member States not a party to CEDAW, the United States unfortunately remains the most glaring example.
But perhaps not for long. With a new U.S. administration that has already made clear its support for women’s rights and its desire to re-engage with the international community, fundamental UN human rights treaties like CEDAW may be closer than ever to ratification in the United States. Senator Barbara Boxer urged both Secretary of State Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice, during their respective confirmation hearings, to make progress on CEDAW a priority within the administration’s first sixty days. Senator Boxer is also working to get the U.S. signature on the UN treaty upholding the rights of children, and, by my count, those sixty days are about half up.
(In another anniversary of another common-sensical treaty that the United States shamefully still has not signed, March 1 marked ten years since the international convention to ban land mines entered into force.)
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.