Archive for the ‘violence’ Category

Speaking women’s rights to power

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Alison Brysk, Mellichamp professor of Global Governance in the Global and International Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In April, she spoke at the Elliott School on “Stopping Violence against Women.” Her talk covered a wide range of topics from honor killings to sex-selective abortion and sex trafficking of girls and women. Her presentation drew from her 2013 book, Speaking Rights to Power.

Speaking Rights to Power cover. Source: Oxford University Press.

Speaking Rights to Power cover. Source: Oxford University Press.

A foundation of her argument is that women’s rights are a category of human rights and must therefore be given similar attention. She presented basic facts and figures documenting the problem of unequal rights for girls and women around the world. She argued that girls and women live in a “climate of insecurity” that includes life in militarized contexts, refugee camps, and poverty. A new area of research is to highlight how urbanization, male youth unemployment, and political corruption are leading to high and rising rates of violence against girls and women in cities.

Beyond documenting the problems and their local dimensions, Brysk also discussed what various countries, global organizations, and civil society are doing to address violence against women. She talked about “information politics” which promotes women’s voices and self-determination by putting a human face on violence against women – “framing the claim” — and creating awareness and mobilizing support.

In conclusion, she noted that constructing political will to support women’s rights as human rights is key as well as engaging men in the campaign moving forward to change rape culture to gender justice.

Professor Brysk’s talk was sponsored by the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program through its Global Gender Forum Series. The Elliott School’s Web Video Initiative provides a taped version of the presentation.

New Report: “Like a Bird with Broken Wings”: Afghan Women Oral History

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

CaptureThis new UN Women Report, produced by the organization’s Country Office in Afghanistan, records women’s experiences with violence over three decades of conflict.

“The untold stories of Afghan women who have suffered great violence in the past three decades of the country’s turbulent history have been documented by UN Women in a report produced by its Country office in Afghanistan. The report provides a ‘voice to those denied a place in official history’ and chronicles the personal memories and recollections of women who have either experienced sexual and physical violence, witnessed that of a close family member, or indirectly suffered as a consequence of it, during the years of conflict. 

Harrowing tales of sexual violence during the years of conflict are a grim reminder of the suffering that Afghan women have experienced. As one woman puts it: ‘We have all suffered.’

The testimonies contained in the report cover the timespan between 1978, when Soviet Union tanks rolled into Afghanistan, up until 2008. The reporting itself took place between December 2007 and June 2008 in seven provinces: Kabul, Kandahar, Jowzjan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daikundi and Herat.”

GW event: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World – Let’s End Violence against Women

Friday, November 15th, 2013

This international video conference will link the George Washington University with Lahore College for Women’s University (LCWU) in Pakistan for a live student discussion to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It will provide the opportunity for students at both universities to share views about challenges and prospects for change. The event is part of a new three-year partnership between GW and LCWU funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Convenors/moderators: Professor Barbara Miller, Elliott School, GW

Professor Shaista Khilji, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, GW

Professor Sarah Shahed, Chair, Department of Gender and Development Studies, LCWU

When: Tuesday, December 3 | 8:30 AM-10:00 AM

Where: 1957 E Street NW, Lindner Family Commons, 6th floor

To RSVP for this event:

Sponsored by the Elliott School’s Global Gender Program (GGP). Coffee/tea/juices will be provided.


Neither War nor Peace in the DRC: Special journal issue

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

untitledThe latest issue of the Review of African Political Economy is devoted to articles on the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is entitled, Neither War nor Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Profiting and Coping Amid Violence and Disorder.

Articles discuss “Balkanization” of the Congo, minerals and violence, dealing with rape vs. health aid, the business of military, and the role of religious groups in post-conflict development.

DC conference: Student proposals sought on diversity in conflict/divided societies

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

GUpage1The Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program is calling for student papers, art, and videography for their conference, “Managing Diversity in Divided Societies.” Submissions should address the following questions:

What tools and mechanisms best promote diversity? How is diversity best approached in conflict societies? How can the arts be used to engage diversity and enhance societal well being?

Cash prizes will be awared to the top three finalists in the categories of diversity, conflict, and peace-building. Submissions are open to third and fourth year undergraduate students and graduate students.

Abstracts will be accepted until October 15th. Submissions are due on December 1st. The conference will be held on January 30-31st.

Send questions and submissions to:

New book: Sex and International Tribunals

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative by Chiseche Salome Mibenge has just been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series.

Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative, Photo courtesy of UPenn Press.

Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative, Photo courtesy of UPenn Press.

Mibenge discusses the book in an interview in August, saying that her book documents an undeniable fact: sex is a weapon of war and a weapon that is used frequently against both women and men.“Sexual violence is a strategy of war,” says Professor Mibenge, who is a member of Lehman College’s Political Science department.

But “The idea of making sex a war crime under international law, however, is a new idea.” It was only after the atrocities that were committed in two separate conflicts during the 1990s in Eastern Europe, where the former Republic of Yugoslavia was torn apart by religious and ethnic violence, and in the African nation of Rwanda, that things began to change. In each case, rape and sexual crimes were committed on such a mass scale that the international community took notice and acted.

“Sex is used as a way of degrading women,” she says. “It’s a form of physical and psychological torture.” During the Rwanda Genocide in the 1990s, male soldiers would tell their rape victims that they would die of sadness. “They would tell the women ‘I don’t have to waste a bullet on you,’” she says. “But men are not spared.”

View the book’s table of contents.

D.C. event: Ending Gender Based Violence presented by The New Republic and CARE

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

An accomplished panel of experts will create an actionable discussion on what it will take to end the cycle of violence. How can high-powered discussions evolve into on-the-ground solutions to Gender Based Violence? How can we harness the energy and reaction to the violence in a more systematic way to support the growing global movement?

8:00 am: Guest Arrival, Registration & Breakfast
8:30 am: Welcome Remarks, Chris Hughes, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The New Republic
8:35 am: Introductory Remarks, Helene Gayle, President & CEO, CARE
8:40 am: Panel Discussion: How can high-powered discussions evolve into on-the-ground solutions to GBV?
Cindy Dyer, Vice President of Human Rights, Vital Voices Global Partnership
Neil Irvin, Executive Director, Men Can Stop Rape
Carla Koppell, Chief Strategy Officer, United States Agency for International Development
Sujata Warrier, Director – New York City Program, New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Moderator: Jonathan Cohn, Senior Editor, The New Republic
9:40 am: Keynote: U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
10:00 am: Closing Remarks from Chris Hughes

When: Thursday, September 19th, 2013
8am to 10am

Where: The Knight Studio at The Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20001

More information and RSVP here.

Washington, DC event: A call to action – taking a stand against Gender Based Violence

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

genderviolence4One in three females will experience gender-based violence (GBV) in her lifetime. Fortunately, in the aftermath of the past year, the global movement to confront GBV has been invigorated. An accomplished panel of experts, including Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices, Carla Koppell of USAID, and Neil Irvin of Men Can Stop Rape will create an actionable discussion on what it will take to end the cycle of violence. How can high-powered discussions evolve into on-the-ground solutions to GBV? How can we harness the energy and reaction to the violence in a more systematic way to support the growing global movement? Senator Barbara Boxer will deliver the keynote address.

Who: The New Republic, CARE
When: Thursday September 19, 2013, 8 am to 10 am
Where: The Knight Studio at The Newseum
Washington, DC

RSVP here.

In the news: Somali women

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

This post presents extracts from some recent news articles about women in Somalia, one of the world’s most challenging places for the well-being of women and girls. Nevertheless, this handful of reports includes some signs of progress.

  1. Rape and injustice: The woman breaking Somalia’s wall of silence
    CNN-Aug. 5, 2013

    Somali Women and Children

    Somali Women and Children. Flickr/Expert Infantry

    Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) – Inside a brightly painted Mogadishu clinic, Salim (not her real name) sits alongside her seven-year-old son, waiting for a check up. Opposite them, a health professional listens to their nightmarish ordeal.

    Salim recounts how she was raped and then watched, helpless, as her young son was molested. Too afraid to seek assistance, she did what she thought would help. She washed her son’s wounds with hot water and salt for four excruciating days, until they were brought here, the Sister Somalia center.

    “There are so many stories; when you hear one, another one is even worse and that makes you think of it all the time,” says Fartuun Adan, co-founder of Sister Somalia, the first rape crisis center in the East African country. “I even dream about what I heard during the day.”

  2. Somalia Leads World in Per Capita Female Circumcision 1, 2013

    Approximately 6.5 million Somali girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) — otherwise known as female circumcision — according to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

    Although support for the practice is waning, the report indicates that 98% of Somali women between 15 and 49 have been cut or mutilated — the highest per capita percentage in the world.

    In addition, the report states that female circumcision is higher among Somalis even in countries where the practice is less common.

    For instance, 74% of Ethiopian women aged 15 to 49 have undergone the procedure, although 97% of Somali women living in Ethiopia have. Only 27% of Kenyan women in the same age bracket have experienced FGM/C, but Somali women living in Kenya have a 98% rate.

  3. (more…)

Ending child marriage and advancing U.S. policy

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik 

On Wednesday July 31 the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) held a panel event “Ending Child Marriage and Advancing U.S. Policy”. Janet Fleischman moderated the panel, which featured Rachel Vogelstein and Caren Grown.

Fleischman began by stating that the statistics on child marriage are “chilling”, with one-third of women between 20 and 24 reporting that they were married before the age of 18. She highlighted the timeliness of the topic, which has gained much traction in recent years. For example, the previous week, a photo exhibition on child marriage was held in Capitol Building sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dick Durbin. Additionally, the High-Level Panel’s recommendations on the post-2015 agenda specifically mentioned ending child marriage under proposed goal 2 of empowering girls and women to achieve gender equality.

Cover of Vogelstein's report

Cover of Vogelstein’s report

Vogelstein mostly spoke about her findings from a report she authored on child marriage and U.S. foreign policy that was published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in May 2013. She identified three key reasons why the issue is important for U.S. foreign policy apart from the moral imperative of taking action: child marriage stifles economic development through decreasing female education as girls leave school to get married, child brides are more likely to become single mothers through divorce or widowhood thus adversely affecting them and their children, and child marriage increases health concerns that seriously damage developmental prospects with a heightened danger of maternal and infant mortality as well as increasing the likelihood of early childhood diseases.

Vogelstein acknowledged two important aspects of child marriage. First, the practice of child marriage varies considerably across as well as within countries. For example, India accounts for 40% of world’s child brides and surveys from the Amhara region of Ethiopia suggest that at least half of the girls there are married before turning 15. Second, laws that establish minimum wage exist in all countries but four (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Gambia, and Equatorial Guinea) but the problem is with weak implementation. The task of implementation of law is often much harder than establishing law and thus presents a particularly difficult challenge that requires attention.   (more…)