World

Female astronaut Liu Yang has come to represent the recent launch of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, a space mission for the manifestation of China's national glory. Prior to this, a decision by Southern People Weekly reporter Cao Linhua to crack dirty jokes about Liu and her fellow astronauts using China's largest social media platform, Weibo Sina, has resulted in his resignation.
A hospital in mainland China has advertised a special installment payment package for university students, for getting abortions conveniently, in the event of accidental or unwanted pregnancies. The hospital's marketing poster has caught the attention of Hong Kong's netizens. While abortion is a common practice in China, the poster has triggered a moral debate in Hong Kong.
"There are no official statistics on the number of women living by themselves in big cities in Iran. But university professors, real estate agents, families and many young women all say that a phenomenon extremely rare just 10 years ago is becoming commonplace, propelled by a continuous wave of female students entering universities and a staggering rise in divorces," reports the New York Times' Thomas Erdbrink. "The shift has left clerics and politicians struggling to deal with a generation of young women carving out independent lives in a tradition-bound society."
June 8 was “Determination Friday” in Cairo, and people gathered at Tahrir Square in protest against verdicts from former president Mubarak trial. Fewer remained for the anti-sexual harassment protest starting at 6pm, a clear stand against increasing sexual harassment female protesters suffer. Shortly after the peaceful gathering started, it was violently attacked by a mob of hundreds of men. A storm of outraged and worried reactions followed the announcement and didn't stop even after everything was over.
On June 3, 2012, about 65 girls were rushed to hospital [fa] after being poisoned at their school in the northeastern Afghan province of Takhar. The incident was the latest in a series of attacks against schools for girls in the province. On May 29, some 160 girls ended up in hospitals after a gas attack at their school. Earlier this spring, more than 270 girls were poisoned in anti-school attacks in two different locations. Overall, hundreds of girls throughout the country suffered in similar attacks last year.

Since the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, ala kachuu, or bride kidnapping, has become a common occurrence in Kyrgyzstan's provincial towns and villages. Although registered as a crime under Kyrgyzstan's criminal code, the government has consistently lacked the political will power to punish perpetrators, many of whom - mainly rural men - have come to regard the act as a ‘tradition' and a birth-rite. In recent months, civil society organizations and creative troupes have been harnessing the power of performance to try and educate the population and clamp down on the practice.

In Latin America, "[w]omen’s rights organizations have created spaces for women to transform their concerns and priorities into actions and policies," writes Erika Guevara-Rosas at Foreign Policy in Focus. However, "the presence of women in politics is more symbolic than anything else. These new women leaders are not transforming their societies in fundamental ways. Indeed, the feminization of politics in the region has not yet translated into the incorporation of feminist and women’s rights agendas, or even into improved conditions for the majority of women."
"The one thing that Egyptians know for certain is that their next president is not a woman," writes Hania Sholkamy for CNN. "It is women who attend rallies, who accept trivial bribes of sugar and rice and who stand in the very long queues to vote. Egypt segregates its polling stations, so the remarkable length of women-only queues is evident for all to see. Yet women are ignored as political agents and as citizens in all presidential programs."
Just months after the Zambian netizens were up in arms against UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for asking the country to be tolerant of homosexuals, President Joyce Banda says that Malawi will lift the ban on homosexual acts in the country angering some Malawi netizens over the pronouncement. In her first national address Joyce Banda told Parliament that her government will repeal laws that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation. “The indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed,” she said.
Maymun Muhyadine Mohamed loved to run and play football in the streets of Mogadishu. Her skills won her a medal and a cap at a local competition. But Somalia's Al Shabaab militia saw her enjoyment as an act of defiance. "They said 'women are not allowed to play sports. You have to stop playing and put on your hijab [modest Islamic clothing and head covering],'" Maymun said, recounting her story at the Ali Addeh Refiugee Camp in Djibouti. It wasn't as if Maymun was un-Islamic. She wore Islamic dress when she wasn't playing football. It was just that when she was running and manoeuvering on the field of play, the long garments impeded her movement. She was told that if she continued to play sports, she would be executed.

"Every 90 seconds a mother dies due to pregnancy related complications." reads the description for a new video from the Half the Sky Movement, an effort tied to the book by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The sobering video looks at the reality of maternal mortality around the world. In Africa, a narrator says, women often die of preventable causes -- anemia, fistula, and the like. And there aren't nearly enough medically trained midwives in many of these countries. You can donate to the cause at www.crowdrise.com/halfthesky.

In March of this year, 16-year-old Moroccan Amina Filali committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist, and Moroccans expressed their outrage at the incident. Now Jordanians are speaking up about a 15-year-old rape victim who has been married off to the man convicted of raping her, whose death sentence has been dropped as a consequence. The sentence was dropped thanks to Article 308 of the Jordanian Penal Code that allows convicted rapists to walk free if they marry their victims. A campaign has now been launched to get the law abolished.
Illegal abortion is a common practice in several provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in Goma, Nord-Kivu, where the number of deaths recorded as caused by these back-door procedures is increasing day by day at a worrisome rate. Several foetuses have been found in recent weeks in parts of Goma, located in the east of the D.R.C., alarming many in the community. Congolese law prohibits abortion in all parts of the country, and as such severe punishments are sanctioned to all those involved in the elicitation of illegal abortions.
Swarms of photographers surrounded a woman, blinding those near her with their flashes. Officials and journalists alike waited eagerly in a makeshift line to greet this woman who clearly was revered by those at the opening session for World Press Freedom Day in Tunis. The woman at the center of this attention was Tawakkol Karman, was a 33 year old Yemeni journalist, known in her country as the mother of the revolution, and now known throughout the world as one of three women to share the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. She has been in and out of jail, but still speaks out.

An article published in pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat on May 2, claiming that 90% of Yemeni women have been subject to sexual harassment, has caused a stir online. While many Twitter users admitted that there was a problem with harassment in Yemen, the percentage quoted in the newspaper divided them. Rather than addressing the issue and providing solutions, a lot of time and effort was wasted debating and dismissing the figure. But whether we like to admit it or not harassment in all its forms - stares, words or actions - is widespread.

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