Women’s groups within Pakistan have lobbied for years for the government to strengthen the Women’s Commission and give it autonomous status.
On 2 February 2012, the Pakistan Senate unanimously approved the “National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012″ to protect women’s rights against every kind of discrimination. The new bill replaces the National Commission on the Status of Women Ordinance from 2000 and strengthens the Commission by giving it financial and administrative autonomy through an independent Secretariat.
The Commission will investigate and gather information on issues regarding women’s rights, as well as have increased responsibilities to oversee the international commitments made by the government on all women’s issues. The newly adopted bill also changes the status of the Commission’s Chairperson who will now have the seniority of a State Minister, making recommendations directly to the national cabinet. The Comission will also have enhanced membership with two members from each Province and one member each from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan, Islamabad and two members from minorities.
The UN Commission on Women is hopeful that this restructuring will help promote women’s rights within Pakistan, but as always, its success will depend in large part on how the bill is implemented and if adequate funding is provided.
The following is the newspaper content I quoted from the Yahoo! News.
SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday upheld a military law banning homosexual behaviour, saying the need to maintain discipline takes precedence over individual sexual freedom.
In a 5-4 split decision, the court ruled that the military criminal code which punishes homosexual behaviour with up to one year in prison is constitutional.
“The legal code cannot be seen as discrimination against gays because such behaviour, if left unchecked, might result in subordinates being harassed by superiors in military barracks,” it said in a statement.
The law’s purpose was to ensure discipline within the whole military organisation, the court said.
The ruling came after an army military court filed a petition with the Constitutional Court. It asked whether the military criminal code, written in 1962, was discriminatory against gay soldiers and thus unconstitutional.
Homosexuality is not illegal under the civil legal code.
Still, we have long ways to go.
This article from the BBC details a the Malaysian Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s response to a camp that claims to “un-gay” young Muslim boys. She maintains that characterizing these supposedly effeminate teenage boys as gay or transsexual, and then attempting to “correct” their behavior will be detrimental to their mental and emotional health.
Though this is the first time I’ve heard about any Muslim attempts at “curing” perceived homosexuality, it is definitely not the first of its kind, as we have such camps and programs here in the United States, and unfortunately they also exist in Europe (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well).
The 2011 census in India has brought attention to the continual gender gap in the country. The percentage of girls has rapidly dropped in the past two decades causing a social catastrophe throughout the region. Every since the arrival of ultrasounds, two decades ago in India, there has been more the 20 million female fetuses aborted to secure a male heir. India’s law banning doctors from disclosing the sex of the baby has had no effect on the decline of girls born there. Doctors facing this crime “in theory” will face having their medical license suspended. With this distorted gender ratio it will become more difficult for men to find wives. As the price of medical equipment becomes cheaper, more and more families are aborting their girls. In 1999, the ratio was 945 women for every 1,000 men, but since the last census in 2011 the ratio has dropped to 914 women for every 1,000 men. Researchers found that in India it is socially acceptable to have a girl if you already have a boy, but if there is already a daughter in the family welcoming another girl is often discarded. They also found that lack of education had no effect on this practice and wealthier families often found ways of breaking the law on prenatal sex selection. Well educated families face the same if not more harsh urgency to have a boy than poor families because in a family expecting five or six children the birth of a girl is disappointing but to one expecting only two or three kids it’s a calamity. The women who have only daughters are desperate for a son and will continue to have kids until they get a son and Midwives are even paid less for delivering girls. In most of the developing countries, just being women is a frightening thing.
With the transition from extended families to nuclear families, elderly women have lost their support from their children. Money, contraception, and education has changed the institution of the family. Elderly women are showing up are orphanages that were traditionally for children. Now, the orphanages are becoming packed with elderly women without family members to help them. The government has not done anything to correct the social problems that are been created from the transition of the extended family to the nuclear family. Private donations have been keeping the orphanages operating. The elderly women constantly talk about the change in values of the culture that has lead to them having to live in the orphanages.
Girls who leave their families are being promised a paying job as a domestic worker or as a babysitter, but they end up being used as cybersex chat girls in the Philippines. The Philippines is an established sex trade country, because of high levels of poverty and because the population can generally speak basic English. In the Philippines, internet sex is such as pornography is illegal, but the National Bureau of Investigation has a hard time enforcing the law. First, the places where girls are living in and talking on the cybersex chat rooms are hard to find. Second, informants are the best way to find where the girls are being kept, but usually the informants are girls who have escaped. The girls who work in the cybersex industry are underage, which in the Philippines is 18 years old. Law enforcement officials say that the population does not understand how much sex trade is hurting their country, and they say that the laws on enforcing illegal acts are out date so much that it makes it hard to fight against the industry.
The following link goes to the e-Museum for the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery.
It provides some precious testimonies including late Hak-soon Kim’s historic confession in the year of 1991. It was the first confession for ‘coming out of the closet’ that she was a comfort women in Korea. And it definitely exploded the anti-Japanese mass protests and concentrated people’s awareness on this issue in Korea (in combination of some political troubles). The following figure presents the newspaper coverage of comfort women issue in Korea.
(Compilation Source: the Kyunghyang Daily, 1960-2010)
(Click to see a larger image)
When you visit this homepage, instead of Firefox, Explorer or Google Chrome is more recommended to use videoclips and some photos. Unfortunately, almost all videoclips do not have English subtitle.
Hyun Woo Kim
There are an estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan because of war that ends up killing their husbands. Women are also widowed because of low life expectancy and early marriage that leave women widowed in their 20s and 30s. When women in Afghanistan who become widows do not come out into public spaces, so a unit of military women has formed in order to help widows start businesses and get jobs. The female military unit has formed because the Afghan widows cannot talk to the male military soldiers. Communities have been suspicions of the motives of the female military units, but there have been some success; for example, a woman named Saragama is being trained to become a police officer that will give her more money than working as a cleaner. The military is hoping that by empowering women that Afghanistan will become a more stable country.
Recently I become interested in women’s activism for the comfort women in Korea. Especially, I think some issues regarding the comfort women (such as comfort women organizing, protest repertoires, funding, and confession) provide us very interesting examples of social movements in a marginal position, not of a middle class women’s movements. Although I don’t have a thorough knowledge of the comfort women in history, the contemoprary activism for the comfort women can be an interesting topic.
Here is the homepage of The Korean Council for th Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.
Really long name. isn’t it? We call this organization Jungdaehyup in short in Korean. If you are interested, please visit here:
Hyun Woo Kim