Morocco: An amendment to Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code repealed a controversial clause which allowed alleged rapists to escape prosecution if they married their underage victims.
Philippines: In defiance of the influential Catholic Church, the Supreme Court of the Philippines upheld a law that requires the distribution of free contraceptives and condoms in government health centers. This law also mandates after-abortion care for women, mandatory sex education in schools, and family planning training for public health workers.
Papua New Guinea: Traditionally, a man could marry several women if he had an ability to care for a large family and if the marriages were mutually beneficial agriculturally and economically to both spouses’ families. Acknowledging that men often buy multiple wives in hopes of attaining “big man status,” the government banned polygamy. This change shows the government's concern over child- and wife-neglect, domestic violence, gender inequality, and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Kenya: In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a new law that allowed for polygamous unions within the country. The initial bill allowed a wife to veto a husband’s initial choice of potential wives, but male members of Parliament successfully removed the veto power from the final law.
Iran: In order to increase the birth rate in Iran, Parliament criminalized birth control surgeries, including vasectomies and tubal ligations. In protest of the bill, a young, female cartoonist sketched Parliamentarians as animals in suits. She was beaten for her actions and received a jail sentence of twelve years and nine months.
Egypt: The first trial in Egypt for an alleged FGM procedure ended in the acquittal of both the doctor and father, despite the death of the 12-year old victim and evidence of the circumcision. Following the procedure, the parents and grandmother all acknowledged that the victim had been taken to a clinic to undergo FGM. The acquittal sends a message to village doctors and parents about how seriously the courts take Egypt’s anti-FGM law.
On urgent instructions of village elder, teenage girl in India married a stray dog to ward off an evil spirit that would supposedly bring death and destruction. Once the evil spirit is warded off, she will be free to marry a man without divorcing her dog husband. Click HERE to read more.
Child rights law in the United Arab Emirates now requires mothers to breastfeed their children to the age of 2, reasoning that breastfeeding is a “duty, not an option, for able mothers.” Click HERE to read more.
For decades, the Indonesian government has required female police officers to undergo a virginity test to prevent women of low morals from corrupting the military. Click HERE to read more.
Who: The Gendercide Awareness Project prevents the systemic, cultural killing of female fetuses and babies by combining awareness, action, and art.
What: Prevents the systemic, cultural killing of female fetuses and babies by combining awareness, action, and art.
Problem: 117 million women and girls are missing in the world due to gendercide, “the silent elimination of females, young and old, through sex-selective abortion, infanticide, gross neglect, and for older women, lack of access to food and shelter.”
Approach: Commission cooperatives of at-risk women to make baby booties to improve the status of and love for female babies. The cooperatives also improve the status, education, and healthcare of these women.
Success: “Nearly 400 women in 31 cooperatives in 23 countries” have received “fair wages – enough for nearly 4,000 family meals.”
How to Get Involved: Watch the 2-minute video of the art installation of baby booties HERE. Join the project to end gendercide by focusing on micro-credit, education, and healthcare.
Who: Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital, situated in a war zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Accomplishments: Dr. Mukwege has treated 40,000 patients and performed over 15,000 operations. He saves lives and restores health to women “whose genitals and internal organs have been destroyed by sexualized violence.” After treatment, the girls and women receive socio-economic support to return to school or start jobs. Dr. Mukwege has been particularly vocal and frustrated at the international community’s failure to respond to the extremely high levels of sexual violence on account of insufficient evidence of rape as a method of war. When speaking publicly, he encourages everyone to see rape as a lethal attack on humanity and not solely a woman’s issue. Click HERE to read more.
Struggles: One day, rebels took Dr. Mukwege’s daughters captive in their home, killed Dr. Mukwege’s guard, and fired at Dr. Mukwege. He fled to Europe but returned when female patients and others begged his return and pooled together enough funding for his plane ticket. Dr. Mukwege calls the systematic gang rape and torture specific weapons of war, used to terrorize locals and to gain control of mineral-rich lands. “The result of this strategy is that people are forced to flee their villages, abandon their fields, their resources, everything. It's very effective.” Read more of Dr. Mukwege’s comments here. The government froze the hospital’s bank account following a statement he made about his government’s failure to stop the war. Somehow he remains centered and focused on his operations despite the increasing numbers of women who pour into the hospital and the knowledge that twice as many die before reaching aid.
Who: Bayan Mahmoud al-Zahran.
What: Opened Saudi Arabia’s First All Female Law Firm
The Journey: After several years as a legal consultant, Zahran made a first when she defended a client in 2013. After Saudi Arabia lifted the sex-based ban on obtaining a license, Zahran and three other women, Jihan Qurban, Sarra Al Omari, and Ameera Quqani, became the country’s first female attorneys and opened the first all-female law firm soon after. The firm welcomes employment, business, familial, and discrimination cases.
Her Comments: “I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.” Read more of Zahran’s comments HERE.
Film: Menstrual Man (2013) Story: Husband Arunachalam Muruganantham bought sanitary pads for his new wife, embarrassed that so many Indian women used dirty rags. However, eventually “[t]he exorbitant cost of the foreign-made pads cut into their families' meal budget. Given a choice between fresh pads and fresh milk, they chose the latter.” At the expense of his family’s pride, friends, and rumors, husband studied used pads and created a new pad. When no one would test them, he tested them on himself with animal blood. He then designed a low-cost, easily repairable machine that women’s groups buy to make and sell pads, pushing them over the poverty line. Read more about Menstrual Man HERE
Film: Belle (2014) Main Character: Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate, educated, British-African daughter of an admiral Story: Raised by aristocrat, Dido does not feel fully accepted with the black servants nor with her white relatives. As she comes of age, Dido seeks love, learns about her uncle’s judicial influence, and tries to understand why her uncle, the Lord Chief Justice, instilled in her a sense of limited privilege. As Dido comes into her own, she works with an idealist young man to influence her uncle to abolish British slavery. Learn more about Belle HERE.
Who: Rula Ghani, current first lady of Afghanistan Goal: In an interview with BBC, Ghani stated: "If I've achieved a higher respect for women and for their role in society then I would be very happy. That would really be my greatest wish." Accomplishments: Ghani is the first wife of an Iraqi government official to been seen in public at high-profile events and to speak out during election campaigns. She is the first Afghan First Lady to speak out for women’s rights.
Issue: Rape on Campus [End Rape on Campus]
￼Facts: “The number of college sexual violence complaints has increased more than 1,000 percent since 2009.” [U.S News]
“Almost one-third (31%) of survivors of assault develop PTSD sometime during their lifetime.” [End Rape on Campus]
According to Mother Jones, “Last May, the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for possible Title IX violations for mishandling sexual-assault cases. As of April 1, the number has grown to 106 institutions.”
How to Get Involved: File a complaint or report at https://www.notalone.gov/
Know the signs of “Dating Violence” Organize a teach-in. Encourage – but not bully – victims into reporting the assault. Join the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Campaign
Who: The Wedding Busters
Problem: Myrna Evora, Country Director of Plan Bangladesh, states: "Child marriages are a significant obstacle to development in Bangladesh…Early and forced marriage often drives girls into a cycle of poverty and powerlessness. They tend to miss out on an education, suffer from poor health and give birth to children who are also weak and malnourished."
Approach: “Since child brides are often isolated from their network of friends and family, the wedding busters go from village to village, holding courtyard meetings and staging amateur plays.” They
also meet with parents who want to marry off their children and explain the dangers of child marriage.
Success: The intervention of such groups is a key reason why all eleven of Jaldhaka's unions or local councils have been able to declare their respective localities "child marriage-free zones" – no small feat in a country where almost one in three children is married off before turning 15. Watch this VIDEO for more on the Wedding Busters.