Latest News from Equality Now - April 2013

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Action Updates
LIBERIA - BAN FGM: The case of Ruth Berry Peal, who was kidnapped and forcibly mutilated by members of the Sande society (secret women’s association) in Liberia in 2010, was finally concluded in January. Although Ruth has finally gotten justice against her abusers, she continues to receive threats and has been advised by the gender ministry to relocate, which she is reluctant to do. The powerful Sande society continues to wield great political influence in Liberia and a climate of intimidation has largely influenced how FGM is perceived and written about. Therefore, please join us in calling on the Liberian government to support and protect Ruth, and to build on indications made by the Minister for Internal Affairs in 2011 to enact and enforce a law banning FGM as a matter of urgency. More than 58% of women have undergone FGM in Liberia.

MOROCCO - END LEGAL EXEMPTIONS FOR RAPISTS: Following our campaign to end the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties approved amendments to their Penal Code in February. Though full discussion of these revisions has been postponed, the changes would strengthen punishments for sexual violence, including revisions to Article 475. We will support the call of our partners for a full review of the Penal Code to remove provisions that discriminate against women, and to insert provisions that safeguard women’s rights. 

UGANDA - ADDRESS SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST THE DISABLED: In the continuing effort to ensure that Ugandan authorities properly investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence against the disabled, Equality Now and our partner LAPD have been advocating for justice on behalf of Sanyu, a severely disabled girl who had been raped and became pregnant as a result. The last of the four suspects, who had run away, was found dead in early 2013. We are strategizing with partners on next steps to set a precedent that the government take special measures to address and prevent sexual violence against girls with disabilities.

Equality Now & CSW 57

The two week session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), bringing together NGOs, Member States representatives, UN entities and activists from all over the world, concluded 15 March. This session, the 57th, addressed the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Equality Now was active throughout, including: co-sponsoring a panel with Arab women’s NGO, Karama; presenting at the European Women’s Lobby event on the realities of prostitution; participating on a Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice panel; and, as part of the Coalition on Adolescent Girls, helped draft an oral statement presented by an adolescent girl at UN headquarters.

While it was encouraging that, unlike last year, governments adopted agreed conclusions at the end of the session, reaffirmations of existing legal frameworks are not enough, especially in light of the backtracking on women’s rights that is playing out around the world. It is critical that governments, individuals, departments and organizations undertake explicit action to implement and deliver upon existing commitments to end violence and discrimination against women, and must be held accountable for doing so. Even at CSW, a forum created to promote women’s rights, several countries argued vociferously in an attempt to gut international law and to elevate the importance of religion, tradition and culture in ways that would negatively impact women. As we approach the 2015 target to achieve the UNDP Millennium Development Goals, steps must be taken to enact a Global Implementation Plan to End Violence against Women and Girls, as advocated by members of women's rights groups all over the world.

Chime for Change
Equality Now is proud to be a part of Gucci’s Chime for Change campaign which works to “promote education, health and justice for every girl, every woman, everywhere.”  Equality Now has several projects under their justice platform and Global Director Yasmeen Hassan is a member of their Advisory Board. On 1 June, The Sound of Change Live, “a global concert event to put girls' and women's issues on the world’s stage,” featuring world-renowned artists will be held at Twickenham Stadium in London. Learn more about the global campaign at www.chimeforchange.org.

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