Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Heroine: "Samia"

After years of failed appeals, Samia and the human rights society are gearing up to face the Saudi Supreme Court which, according to Amnesty International's Saudi Arabia researcher Dina el-Mamoun, will be a tough battle.

"It's difficult to win these cases because there are no clear guidelines in terms of what they have to prove. The judges have huge discretion in relation to these cases. The outcome really depends on which judge gets the case and who rules on it," says Ms Mamoun.

Samia's case is not a one off. Across the oil-rich desert kingdom, dozens of women are taking guardianship grievances to court. And they are gaining public support.

"I think in terms of public opinion, you do see a lot of sympathy with these women," says Ms Mamoun.

Samia, now 43, is still clinging to her childhood dream of having a family. Her special man, she says, is waiting for her and fighting bravely alongside her.

"I'm still dreaming," she says. "The flame will be alive until my death."

BBC News - Saudi Arabian woman challenges male guardianship laws

Friday, June 24, 2011

Michelle Obama's Africa Trip: Why It Matters

Michelle Obama to young women leaders in Soweto: "You can be the generation that holds your leaders accountable for open, honest government at every level, government that stamps out corruption and protects the rights of every citizen to speak freely, to worship openly, to love whomever they choose."

Michelle Obama's Africa Trip: Why It Matters

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pakistani woman forced to parade naked

In Pakistan, targeting a woman for the alleged crimes of her family members is not uncommon. There are regular reports of feuds being settled through women being burned with acid, mutilated, raped or even killed.

Pakistan's penal code even has a specific law relating to stripping a woman and exposing her in public. It is punishable by life imprisonment or death.

"I want them punished, though it won't help me much," says Shahnaz Bibi.

"Before all this, I was poor but I had a respectable life, I was happy. But after something like this, my life is finished," she weeps.

"How can I go back to a village where every single person has seen me naked? I feel ashamed even to show my face to my own brothers and sisters."

BBC News - Horror story of Pakistani woman forced to parade naked

Friday, June 03, 2011

Albertina Sisulu

Mrs Sisulu rose to prominence in 1956 when she played a leading role in a mass protest against racism laws in the city of Pretoria, then the citadel of white power.

Her political career reached a peak in 1983 when she was elected co-president of the United Democratic Front, then the internal wing of the banned ANC.

The apartheid regime detained and put Mrs Sisulu under house arrest on numerous occasions, but she remained resolute in her commitment to the anti-apartheid struggle.

"She was very brave," Ms Tolashe told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Working as a nurse in between her activism, Mrs Sisulu remained loyal to her husband, Walter, while he was jailed for nearly 30 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.

The twice-divorced Mr Mandela once recalled that the Sisulu couple shared a "generosity of spirit".

"Because they as a couple were totally giving of themselves, they have at all times been secure in their relationship," Mr Mandela said.

BBC News - Albertina Sisulu: South Africa loses a moral compass