December 30, 2010 § 1 Comment
An update on the case of Sakineh Ashtianti, the Iranian housewife who “confessed” to the crime of adultery and was sentenced to death by stoning.
It’s important to keep the media pressure up in this case, and the BBC report that was put out today and can be viewed here reminds us all as we face the new year, that this is another year the 43-year-old mother of three has been waiting in prison for the shambolic case against her to be finally thrown out.
December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
An interesting snapshot into post-Soviet Latvia here from the BBC. The country, which has 8% more women than men and more than ten years difference in life-expectancy, is struggling with the gender imbalance. The men are facing high levels of alcoholism and depression; the women have fewer choices of partners – leading to increased competition in a sense, with fewer men to go around.
As one Latvian woman puts it: “Here we have a war of beauty – the most beautiful wins” and certainly the BBC delights in showing a wave of trendy and well styled young women enjoying their work and social lives, rightly hailed as the country’s success stories.
The men, although referred to as the root of several of the country’s social problems, are sadly absent from the film.
What is filmed as basically a light-hearted piece (“Look how well these women are doing – although they’re all so beautiful and yet can’t find a boyfriend!”), it fails to address the real social issues at work. The transition to capitalism threw up many opportunities for women, but also placed a lot of pressure on men to succeed financially. The country has maintained its “macho” based culture that puts pressure on men to drink, smoke, gamble, earn lots of money – to live fast. Consequently, the country has the highest rate of single-mothers in the EU, more than 80% of suicides are committed by men, and highly-educated and intelligent women are often left choosing to be alone or to leave the country rather than settle with a man they see as inferior. And there is a sadly inevitable issue with the underground sex trade and human trafficking, not to mention cases of domestic violence and women stuck in abusive relationships where they feel are unlikely to find another partner if they leave this one.
More focus on education would have a positive impact on future generations of both men and women, and help to maintain the country’s emerging economic successes.
- The Latvian Man Shortage [Women’s World] (jezebel.com)
December 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
When it comes to human rights, life gets complicated. Someone being able to exercise their human rights might have a negative impact on the human rights of someone else – and thus the neverending debates around the subject.
Controversy surrounds the case, which is slightly more complicated than it sounds – three women took the case to the ECHR, and only one woman was ruled to have had her human rights breached.
The key piece of information however is that the Irish government is likely to now be forced to introduce new legislation.
According to the BBC’s Irish Correspondant, Mark Simpson: “Changing the law would also be a political minefield. Ireland is bitterly divided over abortion, and the Irish government has plenty of other priorities at present with the financial crisis and a general election early next year.
“The European Court ruling means Ireland must now reconsider its abortion legislation. The current government will be in no rush to do so.”
Of course a cynic might point out that addressing unwanted pregnancies could form a key part of the country’s economic policy, but its not economy that makes the Ireland government avoid touching this issue with a barge pole: its religion. And that’s far more complicated to address.
The key part of this case is how the women described that they felt stigmatised and humiliated by not being entitled to an abortion, and all three said they had suffered medical complications on travelling to Britain.
The court described the Irish medical system and courts as inadequate to considering the real effect on women’s health. The system is not fit for purpose – abortion is currently only allowed if it will endanger the woman’s life. But what, exactly, will that entail? Do they consider the physiological effects on the morther? Not adequately enough, according to yesterday’s ruling. It took a referendum in 1983 to establish that the mother’s right to life was equal to that out of the child.
So, for now, abortion remains illegal in Ireland – along with large parts of South America, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. It is, however, the only major country in Europe to maintain its anti-abortion laws (the only others being the Vatican City and Malta), and that’s interesting in itself: the rest of European countries have policies to address the seissue for the good of their women. Ireland must stop hedging away from this issue.
But, the pressure is rising, and it looks as though their might be a time in sight where women don’t have to make the distressing trip to another country and endanger their physical and mental health.