Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chad: Female Refugees the Victims

From the Guardian:
Women and girls who fled Sudan's Darfur conflict for refugee camps in Chad continue to face "high levels" of rape and other violence, according to Amnesty International. The group says in a report that the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Chad has failed to stop female refugees being attacked in and around the dozen camps dotted along the border. "The rape that countless women and girls experienced in Darfur continues in eastern Chad," said the report. "These women fled Darfur hoping that the international community would offer them safety and protection. "

Celebrating the Cougar

From the Kathy Lette @ the Telegraph:
There's a new creature stalking the urban jungle – the cougar. She's a woman in her forties or fifties, on the hunt for younger men. A spate of American sit coms and movies are about to prowl onto our screens, documenting the mating habits of this predatory species. The tube announcement, "Mind the Gap", is about to take on a whole new meaning.

But before becoming too judgmental, let's look at the biological facts. The male of the species hits his sexual prime in his late teens, a woman in her late forties. You don't have to be Einstein to do the maths. I mean, 19 goes into 50 a hell of a lot more than 50 goes into nineteen. A toy boy's vocabulary may be small, but who cares, when he ends every sentence with a proposition?

By contrast, younger women are so insecure. They worry about breast size, body shape, cellulite, weight – they order one crouton for lunch and then share it. (Where do size zero bimbos keep their internal organs? In their handbags?) An older woman, on the other hand, is so much more relaxed in her skin. Once a woman hits fifty, a liberating "now or never" mentality takes over. Forget breast implants and botox and get a dimmer switch – the greatest sex and beauty aid known to womankind.

The statistical evidence of older man running off with younger women has been static for about thirty years. But the statistical evidence of older women running off with younger men is on a sky-rocket trajectory.

In truth, age doesn't matter – not unless you're a building or a Stilton or a grapevine. So, cougars, happy hunting. And just remember that age really is a case of mind over matter – if you don't mind, it don't matter.

Abortion - and Medication

From the Korea Times:
Many pregnant women make the hasty decision to have an abortion because of medication they were taking when they became pregnant.

The practice is often based on unfounded fears that the medicine could lead to fetal deformities, says Dr. Kim Tae-yoon, head of the gynecological department of Miz Medi Hospital.

"Though doctors assure them that most of the drugs are okay and recommend them to keep the baby, they just ask for the procedure," he said.

Kim's remarks came in response to the Korea Food and Drug Administration's report that about 96,000 women, 10 percent of pregnant women, were having abortions for drug-related reasons each year.

These women say they were unaware of their pregnancy when they were medicated and want to err on the side of caution by having the procedure.

Most had taken weight-loss pills, painkillers, antibiotics, cough drops and anti-histamines.

Abortions are a serious social issue, with the number of procedures reaching 339,818 in 2005. Professor Kim Hae-jung of Korea University said that one out of every five fetuses conceived in Korea is aborted. This rate is nine times that of the United States and 2.5 times that of Japan.

Guinea: Women Victims of Warfare

From Associaled Press:

Women were brutally raped by soldiers during violent repression of an anti-junta demonstration in Guinea that left more than 120 people dead, according to opposition groups and witnesses.

"They were raping women publicly," opposition activist Mouctar Diallon in an interview with French radio station RFI. "Soldiers were shooting everywhere and I saw people fall. They were live bullets," Diallo added.

An opposition party led by former prime minister Sydia Toure said at least 128 people had died in the violence and the junta was removing bodies in a bid to hide "the scale of the massacre". The party also accused junta forces of rape.

The rapes began in the stadium where opposition supporters had gathered Monday for a demonstration, said Mamadi Kaba, the head of the Guinean branch of the African Encounter for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO), based in Dakar.

Asked who was carrying out these atrocities, Diallo said "it's the presidential guard" and "police officers."

The United Nations, African Union, European Union and leading powers all condemned the killings which the Guinea opposition said was a deliberate attempt to eliminate them.

Women in Maths & Science

From CBC News:
The National Research Council reported this spring that women who earn Ph.D.s in science (though there are still far fewer of them than men) are as likely to land teaching positions, promotions and tenure at major research universities as their male counterparts. During the same week the National Academy of Sciences reported that girls in the U.S. have now reached parity with boys in mathematical achievement.

Currently universities are reporting marked increases in female enrollment in science, engineering and math degree programs. Engineering is now one of the most popular majors at the all-female Smith College in Massachusetts. (The college graduated 20 students from its new engineering program in 2004; today it enrolls 135.) Half of all MIT undergraduates are now women. And last year at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh women made up 30 per cent of undergraduate students in mathematics and science, up from 17 per cent in 1986.

The Ivy League's Brown University, which has had a highly regarded mentoring program called WISE (women in science and engineering) for more than a decade, has noticed a striking increase in female applicants who are interested in pursuing science degrees. The number of women intending to enroll in physical sciences increased about 40 per cent from the class of 2010 to the class of 2013. Brown is also is making a concerted effort to hire more women for its science faculty, according to Katherine Bergeron, a dean of the college. Toward that end the university recently received a $3 million US grant from the National Science Foundation to support women in the sciences.

US: Shriver Showcases Women

From Associated Press:
Maria Shriver and NBC Universal are teaming up for a weeklong programming series on the state of 21st-century U.S. women.

The programs, which will be distributed on NBC Universal TV channels and online, are based on "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything." Shriver, the first lady of California and a former NBC News correspondent, conducted the study with the Center for American Progress.

NBC Universal said Tuesday the series kicks off Oct. 18 when Shriver appears on NBC's "Meet The Press." Shriver and NBC News also will collaborate to bring her findings to MSNBC, CNBC, CNBC and Telemundo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Iranian Women Honoured

From Khaleej Times:
Three Iranian women human rights campaigners Monday received the Lech Walesa Prize.

Shadi Sadr, Ladan Boroumand and Roya Boroumand were honoured for their promotion of “human rights, freedom of expression and democracy in Iran”, the Lech Walesa Foundation said in a statement.

Sadr, a legal expert and journalist, is a leading figure in the campaign against stoning as a punishment in Muslim countries, the foundation noted.

The Boroumands, meanwhile, are in charge of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, which on its website logs human rights violations, and campaigns in particular against racism.

The 100,000-euro (147,000-dollar) prize was created in 2008 to “reward those who work for understanding and cooperation among nations in the name of freedom and the values of Solidarity,” the trade union which Walesa headed in the 1980s to combat Poland’s then communist regime.

Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his non-violent struggle. He became post-war Poland’s first democratically-elected president in 1990, a year after the collapse of communist rule.

Besides Walesa, the prize committee includes former anti-communist Czech dissident and ex-president Vaclav Havel, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and former Polish foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

The inaugural prize last year went to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah for his contribution towards inter-faith dialogue, as well as charity work including sponsoring an operation to separate conjoined twin girls from Poland.

Agentina: Catholic Bishop Defends Dignity of Women

From Catholic News Agency:
Addressing the more than 40,000 faithful gathered outside the cathedral for a Mass honoring Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of the archdiocese, Archbishop Luis Villalba of Tucuman in Argentina said the Church defends the dignity of women and denounces attacks against them.

Speaking in his homily, the archbishop explained that the Virgin Mary “is the archetype of authentic feminine promotion” as well as “the new beginning of the dignity and vocation … of each and every woman.”

He went on to say that “woman, as man, is made in the image of God,” but that “equality of dignity does not mean being identical to man. This would only impoverish woman and all of society by losing the unique richness and values that are proper to femininity.”

WWII WASP's Honoured

Women who flew military planes during World War II are finally getting their due.

Case in point: a ceremony at Long Island's American Airpower Museum honoring veterans of WASP , Women Airforce Service Pilots.

The trailblazers include 86-year-old Margaret Gilman of Manhasset, N.Y.

Her plane towed targets that gunners shot at for practice. Gilman, laughing, says it could be scary: They didn't always hit the target.

Eighty-eight-year-old Bernice Falk Haydu of New Jersey says WASPs had to pay for their own room and board, and even tickets to and from their bases.

Haydu says she's grateful they're now getting recognition.

WASP's on the Web
American Airpower Museum

Ghana: Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings

From Peace FM Online:
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, former First Lady at the weekend, observed that women are the only oppressed group in society that live in intimate association with their oppressors.

She explained that the struggle of women for equality has been a long and arduous task and asked African leaders not pay lip service to gender equity, but ensure its enforcement at all levels and spheres of society.

Nana Konadu Rawlings made the observation in an address on: “Mobilising African Women for Economic Development,” at the New York University, under the auspices of the Africa House Faculty and the Wagner School of Public Service.

The address made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said: “I am not here today (New York), to describe what women had to go through and continue to go through to obtain equality, but believe that some insight into the struggle of women yesterday, today and tomorrow forms part of the equation of women empowerment towards economic development of Africa,” she said.

“As President of the 31st December Women’s Movement in Ghana, I understand the problems women encounter first hand as my organisation has been at the forefront of women empowerment since 1982.”

Nana Konadu said poverty, trade and economic issues were very much related to women’s rights, due to the impact they could have in society.

She noted that gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand and to facilitate child survival and development.

India: Traffic Brigade

From Kamaal Saiyed @ Indian Express:
Justify Full
For the first time in the state, 75 women in Surat have been recruited for the city traffic brigade. At present, they are undergoing theoretical and practical training and will be deployed on traffic duty from Gandhi Jayanti, October 2.

As many as 52 women were present in the first phase of the training. The recruited women are all between the age group of 18 and 35 years.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffid) B M Chauhan said: “We have started training them. Both theoretical and practical training are been given to them for the last four days. We are also taking them to different traffic junctions as part of the training. We will deploy them on the job from October 2. The new brigades are giving excellent performance in their training. The second phase of another group will be started in the coming few month.”

Darshna Rathod, who has done MA, B.Ed, said: “My husband works in a textile factory at Pandesara and we stay in a joint family. I tried for jobs at many places in schools and tuition classes but they all demanded donations. We were not much financially sound. I was informed of the recruitment drive and decided to join the service. My in-laws had no objection and they supported me to take care of the children.”

Finnish Women

Article by Mary Nurminen @ Savon Sanomat outlining her take on what makes Finnish women ... Finnish .... and noting just a few comparisons between Finnish women and their worldy counterparts.

Uganda: Empowering Women

From Frances Emorut @ New Vision Online:
OVER 600 women in Hoima district were on Friday sensitised on marriage and property laws to make them aware of their rights.This follows complaints by the resident district commissioner, Martha Asiimwe, and the district chairman, George Tinka Bagoonza, that many women flocked their offices complaining of husbands abandoning them.

“Most of the complaints brought in my office are about marriage and property. Some women complained that their husbands abandoned them and ran to Kampala,” Bagoonza said.

He was addressing women at Holping Hotel in Hoima district during a sensitisation workshop organised by the Uganda association of women lawyers.

Rhonah Babweteera, a lawyer, told the women that they had a right to share property equally in case the marriage was dissolved.

She advised women not to allow relatives to grab property when their husbands die, saying the property belonged to them and their children.

Asiimwe commended the association for the help they rendered to the Hoima women.

Women: Tortured, Humiliated

From Dawn:
Three women, accused of prostitution, were tortured by an angry mob and were later forced to walk naked on Multan Road in Phoolnagar, Kasur, a private television channel reported on Monday.

A large number of people attacked a house in Jambarkalan village, torturing the women — including one Shahnaz — for alleged involvement in prostitution and running a brothel in the village.

The victims said the accusations against them were baseless. They said they had a property dispute ongoing with Union Council Nazim Ilyas Khanzada who wanted to occupy their house illegally. The women have accused him of planning the assault on their home.

Khanzada confirmed the women were tortured by the mob. He, however, denied plotting against them.

Jambarkalan Police Sub-Inspector Bashir said a case had been registered against the women for running a brothel on the local residents’ complaints. Meanwhile, no case was registered against the mob that attacked the women and publicly humiliated them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Charles the Bold Exhibition

From AFP News:
A stylish but ruthless ruler who failed to win the crown of the Holy Roman Empire but paved the way for the Habsburg dynasty, Charles of Burgundy, nicknamed "the Bold", is the subject of a new exhibition in Vienna.

"Charles the Bold: Splendour and Fall of the Last Duke of Burgundy", which opened on Tuesday, is an elegant, restrained display of medieval opulence -- some items shown abroad for the first time in half a millennium.

The exhibit, part of which is also held in the nearby Imperial Treasury, has been insured for 300 million euros (438 million dollars), according to KHM director Haag. Also offering lectures, workshops and guided tours for children, it runs until January 10, 2010.

Arab Women - Science & Technology

From Zawya:
Under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Honorary President of Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the conference on "Arab Women in Science and Technology" starts today at the Raffles Hotel in Dubai. The conference, including the opening ceremony, will last for a total of three days, closing on the 30th September 2009.

The conference is organised by the Arab Science & Technology Foundation (ASTF)Arab Science & Technology Foundation (ASTF)Arab Science and Technology Foundation ASTF, in cooperation with the DBWC, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) and Etisal Event Management company.

The Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTFASTFArab Science and Technology Foundation is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit regional and international organization. ASTFASTFArab Science and Technology Foundation ASTF was formed out of a need expressed by Arab scientists to develop practical means to advance science and technology (S&T) in the Arab region. During the first international symposium on "Scientific Research Outlook in the Arab World and the New Millennium: Science and Technology," which was held at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in April 2000, 400 Arab scientists from around the world decided to found ASTFASTFArab Science and Technology Foundation ASTF as a non-governmental, non-profit Pan-Arab organization. ASTFASTFArab Science and Technology Foundation ASTF plays the role of mediator between those who produce, develop and fund scientific research on the one hand and those who benefit from it on the other. In all its activities, ASTFASTFArab Science and Technology Foundation ASTF assumes the role of Catalyst, Mediator, and Supporter of innovation in Science and Technology in the Arab world.

Women Executives

From Emiliya Mychasuk @ Financial Times:
In examining the best and worst countries to be a female chief executive, what is most surprising is the continuing paucity of female chief executives in developed countries such as Germany and Italy. Stereotypes are especially reinforced in Italy, where many of the female chief executives are either at subsidiary companies, such as Patrizia Grieco at Telecom Italia subsidiary Olivetti, or running family-controlled companies, such as Marina Berlusconi as chief executive of Fininvest.

Peninah Thomson, founder of the FTSE 100 Cross-Company Mentoring programme, argues that childcare isn’t the only problem. In her research as an executive coach, she found that male executives were often “horrified that family-friendly policies were … only 25 per cent of the reason women left”. “They [senior women] look at the top and don’t see someone they want to emulate … They become weary of what they often describe as game-playing, as they discover a greater level of jockeying and competition.”

Financial Times:
Top 50 Women in Business
Financial Times:
Top 50 Women to Watch

Aborting Women's Rights

From Carolyn Cooper @ Jamaica Gleaner:
"If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament." This famous feminist prick (as in sharp point) goes straight to the heart of the current debate about parliamentary reform of Jamaica's backward laws on abortion. The reproductive health and rights of women are not taken seriously in much of the talk on this inflammatory subject.

Instead, male authority figures (and their female surrogates) pontificate on a pregnant matter about which they simply cannot speak authoritatively. Who feels it knows it, intimately. It is true that there are enlightened men who try to understand this contentious issue from the woman's perspective. But they are relatively few.

Data from the Ministry of Health confirm that approximately 1,200 women are treated each year for complications arising from unsafe abortions. And those are just the official figures. In the 21st century, women in Jamaica are still risking their lives in order to claim reproductive rights that women in other countries simply take for granted.

Pakistan: Protecting Women

From Zubeida Mustafa @ Dawn:
The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2009 adopted by the National Assembly in August won plaudits from women and human rights activists alike. ‘Landmark’, ‘milestone’, ‘victory for civil society’ and other such laudatory terms were lavished on it. Having been adopted unanimously, which is creditable given that it was a private member bill, the bill was a positive step in a society where women suffer the most violence. In fact violence from spouses is very often justified by conservative and orthodox elements as sanctioned by Islam.

Hence the euphoria. The sole voice of dissent came from the Council of Islamic Ideology which termed the legislation ‘ambiguous and containing few reforms’. It also criticised the draft on the ground that it would in its present form ‘fan unending family feuds and push divorce rates up’. Many saw this as a perverted form of reasoning and the National Commission on the Status of Women’s spirited response refuting the CII’s arguments is most welcome. One hopes that the Ideology Council will appreciate what the NCSW has to say. The Senate should not be deterred by the religious scholars’ objections which are not very convincing. The Senate has yet to adopt the bill which will then become law after it is signed by the president.

Unions Put Foot Down on Footware

From Inga Ting @ The Age:
Women may no longer need servants and canes to help them walk in high heels, but the difficulties and dangers associated with this ancient practice have caused British unions to put their foot down – and Australian unions and health professionals are backing their cause.

The British move was officially supported this month at a Unions NSW meeting, though a spokesman said no similar motion requiring employers to carry out risk assessments on footwear would be tabled.

Nevertheless, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon says if high heels are an issue for working women, the union would take it up.

Japan: Women to Keep Maiden Names

From Anna Kitanaka @ Bloomberg:
Japan’s government plans to submit legislation as early as next year to allow married women to keep their maiden names, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing unidentified government officials.

The bill will enable married couples to use separate surnames and children will be able to choose the surname of either parent, the Yomiuri said.

The change will make it easier for women in the workplace as more married females take up employment, the newspaper said in a separate article.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

FGM: New Operation Brings New Hope

From Olivia Sterns @ CNN Health:
Every day thousands of girls endure forced circumcision. It's a controversial cultural tradition common in parts of Africa, South America, Middle East and Asia and that regularly results in infection and even death.

The health dangers involved in this procedure, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), are increasingly well-known and have lead to international efforts to ban the practice.

But a new treatment pioneered by a French doctor, Pierre Foldes, offers hope for victims of this practice.

Dr. Foldes began working with victims of female circumcision almost 30 years ago while volunteering in Burkina Faso.

An estimated 130 million women have undergone female circumcision. The procedure is typically performed in unsanitary conditions and often results in infections and fistula, an open wound that can develop in victims of FGM between the vagina and the anus after a failed childbirth.

Increasingly international organizations and governments are working to ban FGM, despite protests from religious and cultural groups hoping to defend the practice.

UN Merges Women's Agencies

From Moni Basu @ CNN Politics:
A parade of world leaders took the lectern at the United Nations on Wednesday. But days before the speeches on a host of issues, the global body quietly undertook an issue that often flies under the radar: Women.

Last week, the United Nations consolidated four agencies that tackle women's issues and created a new super agency. Humanitarian workers around the world embraced the move. It was about time, they said, that the world got serious about how half its population lives.

Ahead of this week's U.N. meetings, UNIFEM issued a report on the progress of women's rights, part of a set of development goals that global agencies have committed to achieving by 2015.

Last week, the General Assembly voted to merge UNIFEM and three other U.N. women's agencies to better address glaring gender inequities.

The Enigma of Sonia Ganghi

Article by Aakar Patel @ The News International:
No leader in the world is like Sonia Gandhi. She is a European leading a major Asian power. A Roman Catholic, and perhaps a practising one though she makes no display of her faith, in a nation that is dominant Hindu and Muslim.

She has the sort of power in her country that few leaders in the west have. And though they do not seem keen to own her, not since Mussolini and perhaps not even since the Caesars has an Italian individual been this powerful.

Sonia isn't properly educated, but is seen by India's middle-class as quite sophisticated. There isn't any evidence to show that she's well- read either, but her manner is refined, even reginal. She met her husband Rajiv Gandhi at Cambridge, though she wasn't at the university. She was taking English language lessons at a school, having come there from her home in Italy. Rajiv was attending Trinity, and said in a famous interview that he had 'flunked out' without a degree. Their son Rahul attended Trinity, and passed.

Sonia was 19 when she met Rajiv and 22 when they married. He was only a couple of years older, and so it must have been a partnership of equals, particularly because Rajiv was relaxed and not chauvinistic.

Two attempts were made to delegitimise Sonia when the Congress was weak. The first by the ambitious Sharad Pawar, leader of the Congress in Maharashtra, a state with 100 million people whose capital is Bombay. He revolted in 1999, saying a foreigner should not head the Congress. Few joined him, and he has become a minor player now. Sonia showed pragmatism by later allying with Pawar's party, an act that kept Thackeray out of power.

The second attempt was made after the Congress won in 2004. BJP leaders, led by Sushma Swaraj, said they would not allow Sonia to take office.

Sonia Gandhi is 63, and has led the world's biggest political party, and one of its oldest, for 11 years. At her age, her mother-in-law had just come back to power and would spend another four years in office.

Author: Juanita Castro

From Yahoo News:
Juanita Castro, the exiled sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, is set to release a first-person memoir in which she talks at length about her brothers.

The more than 400-page book titled: "My Brothers Fidel and Raul. The Secret Story," is set for release Oct. 26. It is co-written by Spanish-language journalist Maria Antoineta Collins and will be published by Santillana USA.

Juanita Castro left the island in 1964. A longtime Miami resident, she has kept a low profile and for years could be found behind the counter of the small pharmacy she owned. She retired in 2007.

According to a Santillana news release, Castro dictated the story to Collins a decade ago but refused to publish until now.

Venus Figure

From Today's Zaman:
A 5,000-year-old Venus figure has been found as part of an excavation being carried out in Çanakkale's Ezine district.

The excavation began in the field three weeks ago in cooperation with Germany's University of Tübingen. Assistant Professor Rüstem Aslan, who is vice head of the excavation, told the Anatolia news agency that the aim of the dig is to find settlements outside Troy from the Bronze Age.

Some interesting findings have been unearthed during the excavation, Aslan said. “We found a 5,000-year-old Venus figure, which used to represent woman at the time, as well as a seal with which people used to mark their belongings in prehistoric ages. Such a seal is a rare piece. In addition to these items, we also found stone axes, well-processed and embellished pots and spindle-whorls, which were used for spinning wool.”

Books: History & England

Some upcoming and recently publications on the various aspects of and events in English history and medieval history:
  • Reassessing Anglo-Saxon England by Eric John
  • Joan of Arc: la Pucelle by Craig Taylor
  • Medieval Maidens: Young Women & Gender in England: 1270 - 1540 by Kim Phillips
  • Women of the English Nobility & Gentry: 1066 - 1500 by Jennifer Ward
  • Chronicles of the Revolution 1397-1400: The Reign of Richard II by Chris Given-Wilson
  • Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography by Paul Fouracre and Richard A. Gerberding
  • Court and Civic Society in the Burgundian Low Countries c. 1420-1520 by Andrew Brown and Graeme Small

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Feminists in Resistance

From One World net:
Hours after Honduras' ousted president returned to the country and sought refuge in a foreign embassy, the military-backed regime launched a brutal attack against supporters of the former leader. "Early this morning, military forces attacked those of us outside the Brazilian embassy.

There are no words to describe the brutality of the attack," reported a member of the group Feminists in Resistance. "They chased us, threw bombs, beat us, and now are hunting down everyone who took refuge in the surrounding area." The women say there are 65 members of their group "under siege," hiding in houses as military squads search the neighborhood. Their reports were sent by email during a brief period when electricity had been turned on. "We can hear the military movements outside, the cars, helicopters, bombs, shots, clashing of metal, stomping of boots, sirens -- and in a cruel joke on all Honduran citizens they are playing the national anthem at full volume over and over."

The women say they have little water and no food, and tear gas hangs in the air. Some have reportedly been detained and taken to Chochi Sosa stadium on the far eastern edge of the city.

Women's Charity to Close

From Yorkshire Post:
A charity which supports female victims of domestic violence in Leeds has opened a petition for council funding to avoid closure after vital charitable donations dried up.

Behind Closed Doors (BCD) offers support to victims of domestic violence, including help with access to legal, financial and social services, as well as providing information and training within communities.

The charity, which helped 500 women in is now making a last-ditch bid for funding to Leeds City Council – but if this is unsuccessful the service will shut in February next year.

Service manager Louise Tyne said: "These women are someone's mother, someone's daughter, someone's friend.

"It's estimated that one in nine women suffer abuse, so everyone knows someone that's a victim of domestic abuse.

Behind Closed Doors is still looking for donations as well as support for its petition – at
Behind Closed Doors.

Comanche Nation Honours Women

From KAUZ:
It's a long-honored tradition brought to life in Lawton. The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center paid tribute to the Comanche women who owned, built and moved their homes by building a full-size teepee in front of the museum.

The teepee is one of a kind, painted by a local Comanche artist. Organizers say the raising of the teepee has a great historical importance to the Comanche nation.

Phyllis Wahahrock-Tsi, Museum Director, said "The significance of Comanche women raising the tepee is one role that women played historically among the Comanche women, so this is one way we're able to educate the young children, especially the Comanche children and the Lawton/Fort s=Sill community here."

The teepee will be on display through Sunday (September 26th) in front of the museum located at 701 Northwest Ferris Avenue in Lawton.

Women in Banking

From the Wall Street Journal:
Now US Banker magazine is finding some bright spots in its annual “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” issue. Calpers, the giant California pension fund, hired the first female CEO, Anne Stausboll, in its 77 year-history, while Bank of America is said to be grooming Sallie Krawchek, who was recently hired as head of the bank’s Global Wealth and Investment Management unit, as a possible successor to CEO Ken Lewis.

At the top of the US Banker list, for the third straight year, is Heidi Miller, J.P. Morgan’s CEO of Treasury and Securities Services. One notable newcomer to the list is BBVA Compass retail chief Shelaghmichael Brown, who helped with that bank’s recent acquisitions in the US.

The magazine editors rank the women based criteria such as one-year performance, the results of business initiatives, management style and overall influence.

Full List @
US Banker

Nepal: Women Priests

From China View:

As Nepal celebrates its biggest Hindu festival Dashain with devotees worshipping the goddesses of power, there is an additional cause for women to rejoice.

Traditionally, only men from the Brahmin community -- who were regarded to be at the top of Nepal's caste society -- were appointed as priests at Hindu temples.

But now, in a sign of the changing times, at least two temples in the former Hindu kingdom have now opened their doors to women priests -- and that too, from the Dalit community, is regarded to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy and still treated as untouchables in some villages.

Girls: Future Investment

From ABC Online:
A new report says investing in girls is one of the best ways to end poverty, because women who are educated are likely to reinvest up to 90 per cent of their income in their family.

The report by Plan International Australia shows young women are the first to lose their jobs or have their education stopped so they can be placed in domestic work during an economic crisis.

Plan has been studying 140 girls since birth. The girls come from nine countries across the developing world.

Plan chief executive Ian Wishart says the report, called Because I am a Girl, shows many countries still have the attitude that girls are not as important as boys.

Mr Wishart is urging Australian corporations to encourage the equal participation of girls and young women in their offshore operations.

"For Australian corporates the message is if you're operating offshore, make sure that you have policies that encourage equal participation of girls and boys, or young women and young men, in your business, and make sure your supply chains do the same," he said.

Women of Jazz

From Mmegi Mobile:
Botswana's foremost women of jazz - Punah Gabasiane, Nono Siile, Nnunu Ramogotsi and Kearoma Rantao - will stage a concert at the Millennium Jazz Restaurant in Mogoditshane on Saturday. Punah said their concert will coincide with the Month of Women. The concert will culminate in a grand finale at the Botswana Marketing Craft on October 2. Punah promises that they are going to raise a storm during their concert.

The four divas, who are also going to stage shows in Francistown, organised a similar concert at Gaborone's Maitisong Hall last year.

Although they have always worked together, they will give individual shows. They might collaborate at the end of the show, however.

Punah who has released two albums, has been a leader when it comes to Afro jazz. Just this year, she scooped an award during the Presidential artists' competitions held in July. This was not the first time that she walked away with music awards. In the past, she was adjudged as the best jazz singer during the Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) Mascom-sponsored awards.

Sierra Leone Questions Maternal Deaths

From AFP:
Authorities in Sierra Leone on Thursday contested as outdated an Amnesty International report saying that one in eight women risks death during childbirth or pregnancy.

The west African nation's top medical officer, Kizito Dawo, told journalists that Amnesty's figures were "erroneous and based on information available long years ago."

"We have moved away from those statistics and they are no longer tenable," Dawo said, in the first official reaction to the Amnesty report published on Tuesday, which called the one-in-eight figure "one of the highest maternal death rates in the world."

"A lot of the statistics have been taken out of context, so this has made the report unacceptable. We would have imagined that we would have had first-hand information about the contents of the report but of course we were not. We only heard it through the media," Dawo added.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan launched a campaign in Freetown to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone, which is emerging from a brutal civil war between 1991 and 2002.

Saudi University Breaks New Ground

From the Christian Science Monitor:
For the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, men attending a university north of Jeddah will have special classmates – women.

The conservative country unveiled on Wednesday its first ever fully coed university, the King Abdullah Science and Technology University (KAUST). In the past, women in the notoriously gender restrictive kingdom were only allowed to take classes separately from men.

The inauguration of KAUST is meant to signal two important developments: a lauded, if politically volatile, softening of hard-line rules, and the kingdom’s rising ambitions of being a hub of scientific learning. Both aims, Saudi Arabia’s rulers hope, will help blunt the impact of extremism.

Women Moving Forward (WMF) Mentoring Program

From Transport & Logistics News:
Since 2007, the Women Moving Forward (WMF) Mentoring Program has become the largest, most effective mentoring program for women in Transport and Logistics (T&L). Over 260 women representing over 90 companies have completed a WMF program! WMF is a high-value, low-cost, self-paced mentoring program targeting the retention and development of women within the T&L industry and it can be accessed anywhere within Australia

The next program commences on the 7th October and due to the generosity and support of the following organisations, multiple free sponsored positions are available on the program. Nominate yourself or other women in your organisation by the 30th September 2009.

Women Face Mutilation

From Di Bain @ ABC News:
The Federal Opposition is refusing to support legislation that could protect two
young Kenyan women who fear they will be mutilated if they are deported from

The women came to Australia on tourist visas for last year's World Youth Day and have asked to stay, saying they will be persecuted if they are sent home.

For eight years, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCA) has been fighting for the Government to enshrine in law protection rights for women who faced genital mutilation in their own country.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says he is still waiting to receive the women's appeal, but has put legislation before the Parliament that would prevent the women being deported.

The laws known as "complementary protection" have been introduced but not yet debated in Parliament.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Women in Technology

This years winners of the Women in Technology awards are posted.

Check out the Women in Technology website to view and read about this years notable women.

Vision of Women in Technology
WiT's vision is to be an inconic orgainisation recognised by Government, commercial organisations and women at large as the voice of women working in the technology industries across Queensland. WiT will be evolutionary, visionary and acknowledged as an industry peak body that delivers a high standard of value to all members. Importantly WiT will smooth the pathways for future generations growing and strengthening the presence of women within the technology disciplines at all organisational levels, and be recognized as taking a pro-active role in linking industry to talent.

Women of Wall Street

From Kayla Hutzler @ Women's eNews:
The Museum of American Finance is showcasing 10 famous Wall Street women, two living and the rest historic. The exhibit, which opened June 9, runs through January 26, 2010. It spotlights 10 female financiers.

The exhibit also offers audio and video commentary by contemporary Wall Street women on how they got started, any discrimination they faced and what they're doing now.

Neera Desai [Neeraben]

Wonderful tribute to a woman who did much to pioneer the study of women in India.

Obituary @ Foreign Policy Association website:
Dr. Neera Desai [Neeraben] one of the pioneers of Women’s Studies in India, died on June 25, 2009 after a long struggle with cancer. Neeraben, born Neera Druv in Ahmedabad in 1924, lived most of her life in Bombay/ Mumbai where she founded India’s first Research Centre for Women’s Studies, called the Research Unit for Women’s Studies, at S.N.D.T. Women’s University in 1974. As the founder director of the Research Centre, she played a major role in designing and guiding research projects on women, linking academic Women’s Studies with women’s real-life issues, and introducing Women’s Studies to the curriculum. Trained as a Sociologist, she was also a pioneer in pushing her discipline to include women and gender in the analysis.

Ripper's Victims

I must admit that when it comes to Jack the Ripper, I am a bit of a ghoul. I have a fascination with the whole case and the mystery surrounding these brutal crimes.

So I was particularly interested by this article from the Mail Online about the earlier lives of the victims of the Ripper: How Jack the Ripper's five victims turned to prostitution after their marriages failed.

Over the last century they have passed into gruesome folklore, but Victorian census records on Jack the Ripper's victims cast new light on the lives of some of the murdered prostitutes.

An online genealogy website which trawled the 1881 census - taken seven years before their deaths - has pulled together information on the women that 'provides a small window onto the past' and dispels the myth that they had been teenage street walkers.

The five - Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly - were all brutally murdered in 's East End between August 31 and December 20, 1888. Their bodies were left horribly mutilated on the streets of Whitechapel. Their murderer was never caught.

Although prostitutes at the time of their violent murders, three of the five had previously been married, according to records taken on April 3, 1881.

And for those of you like myself, the Casebook Forum may be of interest.

Interview with David Starkey

For those with a love of all things Tudor, Iain Dale @ Total Politics interviews David Starkey.

The historian with an opinion on everything explains to Iain Dale why he was joking when he called Scotland a feeble little nation, his theory on the Californisation of the world and how Aneurin Bevan was deranged.

Medieval Items of Interest

Hope you enjoy these little items of medieval interest:

A celebration is taking place to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of a Welshman who helped develop the idea of a British empire.

John Dee, a scholar who excelled in science and maths, delved into early Welsh history to identify a common identity for the Welsh and the English.

But, despite being dubbed the "Renaissance Man" of the Tudor era, his achievements have gone unremembered.

John Dee and his contemporary and fellow-magi, John Kelly (Kelley), spent some time under the patronage of the Habsburg Emperors at Prague.

Fr. Serra by Dan Krieger @ the Tribune
St. Francis of Assisi is probably the best known and most beloved of the medieval saints. Francis was born in 1181 during the age of the troubadours. His life quickly became the stuff that poets sang about. These stories about Francis and his band of “little brothers” was eventually written down. In medieval Italian, the most popular account is known as the “Fioretti” or “The Little Flowers of St. Francis.”
A 13th Century copy of a medieval travel writer's book has returned to Wales for the first time in 20 years to form part of an exhibition. Gerald of Wales trekked more than 500 miles (804.5km) in 1188, primarily to recruit soldiers for the third crusade in the Middle East. A copy of his "Journey through Wales" has been lent to The National Museum in Cardiff by The British Library.

Nuremburg Mahzor by Jen Thomas @ Associated Press
A rare Hebrew manuscript written in 14th century Germany is going on display for the first time, just before the Jewish New Year, Israel Museum officials said Wednesday. The text, called the Nuremberg Mahzor, is one of the largest surviving medieval texts in the world. Written in 1331 in Germany, the prayer book remains mostly intact — only seven of its original 528 leaves are missing. Officials said the 1,042-page manuscript will be on display at the Israel Museum starting next Tuesday, days before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year holiday, which begins Sept. 18.

Women Sacked Over Leave

Women are being sacked for taking maternity leave, and told to quit if they can't juggle family and the work roster, the Fair Work Ombudsman's office has found.

The Ombudsman was given the power to investigate discrimination for the first time in July and is already receiving 30 complaints a week, and investigating 40 serious cases.

The Ombudsman's chief counsel, Natalie James, said she was concerned at the number of women losing their jobs for taking maternity leave.
New mothers are ''in a vulnerable position and often the last thing they want is to fight a battle with their employer''.

Professor Baird said employers need their female staff and companies ''risk very bad branding'' if word got out that they made life difficult for women taking, or refused, maternity leave.

Articles of Interest

Couple of articles that I found interesting - hope you do too:


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Maggie Anton: Rashi’s Daughters

From Heritage Florida Jewish News:
The Sabra Group of the Orlando Chapter of Hadassah and Congregation Ohev Shalom Sisterhood present Maggie Anton, author of “Rashi’s Daughters,” for an afternoon of discovery and discussion on Sunday, Oct. 18. It’s an opportunity to meet the author learn about Jewish life in 11th-century France. The event, scheduled for 3 p.m. at Congregation Ohev Shalom, will include a lecture, a tea and dessert reception with the author, book purchases and signing. The cost is $25.

Anton has written a trilogy of novels entitled “Rashi’s Daughters: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France,” based on historical facts known about Rashi’s life and extensive research by Anton about what life was actually like during the 11th century in France. Rashi (1040-1105) wrote the greatest commentaries in Jewish exegeses on the Talmud. It is a known fact that Rashi, who had no sons, secretly imparted his passion and knowledge of the Talmud to his three daughters.

Nepal: Human Trafficking

From Sindh Today:
Four Nepali women, three of whom were being trafficked to Muscat, have been arrested from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, officials said here Sunday.

One of the four women was part of a human trafficking gang and she was taking the other three to Muscat. They were nabbed by the anti-human trafficking cell of the police from the railway station Saturday evening while they were headed to New Delhi, from where they were to take a flight to Muscat, an official said.

They were caught with the help of NGO Manav Seva Sansthan, which aids the police in curbing human trafficking.

A couple of months ago, police in Gorakhpur had arrested five Nepali women along with a pimp who was trying to send them to the Middle East.

Kuwait: Womens' Political Journey

From Nisreen Zahreddine @ Kuwait Times:
MP Maasouma Al-Mubarak recently gave a speech at the British Business Forum's annual gathering, which was hosted by the British Embassy. MP Al-Mubarak touched on the history of Kuwait and the role of the United Kingdom in designing the borders between Kuwait and Iraq.

The parliamentarian said that in 1913, the British helped Kuwait separate from Iraq by signing a treaty with the Ottoman Empire that considered Kuwait a part of Iraq.

In 1932, Al-Mubarak continued, a second treaty was signed to design borders between Kuwait and Iraq. The MP then briefed the audience about women's history in Kuwait. She discussed several obstacles facing women's progress in Kuwaiti society, such as a backward mentality and limited employment opportunities in addition to all the norms and traditions that see the role of women to be limited to the house and raising children. She added that women were forced to pay the high price of social customs and traditions that control the society.

China: Women in Space

From Space:
For the first time, China has included women among the final candidates for the country's newest class of astronauts.

The China National Space Agency is in the process of selecting its second batch of astronaut candidates, and has narrowed down the pool to 30 men and 15 women, the official state news agency Xinhua reported Thursday. Ultimately, China plans to pick five men and two women as final candidates to join the country's space program as taikonauts.

The 45 preliminary candidates for the second class of Chinese spaceflyers are between the ages of 27 and 34, and all are Air Force pilots for the People's Liberation Army. The male candidates are all fighter pilots and the female candidates are aero-transport pilots, authorities said. Some flew rescue missions after the massive Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008 in China's Sichuan province.

Sicily: Women vs Mafia

From Dan MacDougall @ Times Online:
A group of young women is standing up to the mafia in its Sicilian heartland by refusing to contribute towards the £130m a year it demands from businesses on the island in protection money.

Five years ago businesses banded together to fight the mob and founded Addiopizzo, meaning Goodbye Pizzo — a reference to the notorious 10% levy imposed on the entire business community by the Cosa Nostra. At first Addiopizzo’s members were forced to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals. Now the women are coming out of the shadows.

The group is preparing to ask tourists and locals alike to support those business that refuse to pay off the gangsters.

It has the support of 300 firms in and around Palermo, including hotels, bars, restaurants and even a bank. Women, who make up 60% of the membership, have proved to be among its most courageous members.

Tonga: Female Discrimination

From Bruce Hill @ Radio Australia:
Tonga's parliament has decided not to ratify an international convention outlawing discrimination against women. It voted 18 to 1 with 4 abstentions to not ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW. The Tongan prime minister's office says he Legislative Assembly believed that to ratify CEDAW would cut across the cultural and social heritage that makes up the Tongan way of life, which is not based on individual rights and freedoms, but on the individual's relationship with the extended family and the wider community.

BBC Accused of Ageism

From Urmee Khan @ the Telegraph:
Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, has promised to put more older women on television following the backlash after axing Arlene Phillips from Strictly Come Dancing.

Thousands of viewers complained to the broadcaster about perceived ‘ageism’ as 30 year old Alesha Dixon, a pop star who won the competition in 2007, was brought in.

BBC One recently bought back Anne Robinson, 64, as the host of consumer programme Watchdog and Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC One, said that Victoria Wood would be returning to present a one hour Christmas special.

Television insiders have speculated that names such as Moira Stewart, Kate Adie, and Sheila Hancock could suddenly be in the mix.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kim Phuc Phan Thai

Article by Alan Mozes in Yahoo News:
It's a photo that many credit with helping to end the Vietnam War: A 9-year-old girl, naked and in obvious pain, runs through a street after suffering napalm burns over much of her body.

What the iconic photo -- snapped in 1972 by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut -- doesn't show is the girl's struggle to survive and thrive in the aftermath of that day.

Now 46 years old, Kim Phuc Phan Thai (Kim Phuc to most) spoke recently at a conference of burn survivors and burn care specialists in New York City on the physical and psychological struggle that she went through over the ensuing decades.

Phuc has come far and is now a public speaker, peace activist, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, child welfare advocate, married mother of two, and inspiration to burn injury survivors worldwide. She lives in Toronto, her home since seeking political asylum in Canada in the early 1990s.

From the Blogosphere

This week from the Blogosphere:

Afghan National Police - Female Recruits

From the GOV Monitor:
Thirteen extraordinary women are quietly making history in the most conservative corner of Afghanistan.Fearlessly, the first thirteen female Afghan National Police recruits in Helmand Province now stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in their fight against crime and the Taliban insurgency.

Fighting the Taliban on a daily basis is a dangerous job, but these women have the added burden of having to work undercover, terrified that their neighbours and, in some cases, their families might find out what they do with potentially lethal consequences.

The Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty is a positive step for the women of Ireland and will make Europe more open and equal, according to Labour Women’s International Officer Mary Flynn.

Speaking at the launch of the Labour Women Lisbon Campaign today, Ms Flynn said Europe would be more equal if the treaty was passed.

“The Lisbon Treaty has specific aims to combat social exclusion and poverty. It protects public service provision, and equality provisions are strengthened,” she said.

“Positive discrimination measures are allowed for under-represented groups. Finally, the Charter of Fundamental Rights is an equal part of the treaty strengthening our basic rights.”

Ms Flynn said if the treaty was rejected, the EU would have to operate under the Nice Treaty.

Fortune's Top "Women" Lists

Margaret Wade Labarge

Margaret Wade Labarge, a woman noted for her deep interest in medieval women, departed this life late August.

Lisa Fitterman @ the Globe & Mail, wrote this of Margaret:
... Margaret Wade Labarge, author, lecturer and long-time volunteer, had the ability to bring even the smallest historical detail to life. Combining a love of storytelling with a scholar's precision, she pored over arcane records to shed light on the more domestic side of a time most know for violence, damsels in distress and Joan of Arc.

Books: Women & History

Some more interesting reads this week:

Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici.
Review: "Explains connection between the Great Witch Hunt of the 16th and 17th centuries and Marx's concept of Primitive Accumulation of Capital. Relates these to Kropotkin's disscussion of the rise of the state. And to the Marxist conception of the Epoch of Capitalist Decay (Imperialism)." - Not for the faint-hearted.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier.
Alyssa McDonald interviews the author for the Australian: "Like each of its predecessors, it's a historical work: this one set in Lyme Regis in the early 19thcentury, when an otherwise unremarkable English coastal town became the setting for some of the world's earliest and most important discoveries of dinosaur remains. Many significant fossils were found by Mary Anning, a working-class local woman who, along with Elizabeth Philpot, another fossil collector living in Lyme Regis, is the focus of Chevalier's story."

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Elizabeth Renzetti interviews Philippa for the Globe & Mail: "In the same manner that she dusted off the historical figure of Mary Boleyn (in her 2002 bestseller, The Other Boleyn Girl), now Gregory turns her attention to Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen of the title. The wife of Edward IV (and mother to the poor princes in the Tower), Elizabeth was "an unpopular and controversial Queen," according to Gregory."

1940-1945, Erotic Years by Patrick Buisson
Review by Matthew Campbell @ Times Online: "An unusual history of the Nazis in France has trampled on one of the country’s most painful taboos by focusing on women who slept with the enemy during the occupation. Flouting a long-running convention of silence on what he calls “horizontal collaboration”, Patrick Buisson, the author, describes the Nazi occupation as the “golden age” of the French brothel, chronicling a dramatic growth in prostitution to satisfy German demand."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Last Letter of Mary Queen of Scots

From BBC News:
The last letter ever written by Mary Queen of Scots is to go on display for the first time in 30 years.

The 422-year-old manuscript - written six hours before her execution - will go on show at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh on 15 September.

The letter, which will be displayed for seven days, was written on 8 February, 1587 to the King of France, Henri III.

The Catholic Queen told her brother-in-law she would die a religious martyr and not for purely political reasons.

King Henri III was the brother of her late husband, Francois II.

The letter revealed that, just hours from death, Mary asked Henri to ensure her servants' wages were paid.

Women in the Blogoshpere

Some interesting articles pertaining to women from the Blogosphere:

Women and their Shoes

From BBC News:
Nearly four in 10 women buy shoes knowing they do not fit, a poll of 2,000 reveals.

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists found 37% would wear uncomfortable shoes as long as they were fashionable. And 17% of men admit buying shoes in the wrong size. Although 80% of the women said they suffered foot problems like corns or ingrowing nails, only four in ten of the men and women surveyed sought help.

Although "killer" high-heels can cause problems, slip-on shoes are one of the worst culprits, as they cause the foot to slide forward and cramp the toes.

Worst of all are court shoes, as they are low-fronted, giving no support to the foot, and tend to be too narrow in the toe.

Ms Jones said many people are wearing the wrong sized shoes on a daily basis without even realising it.

Celebrating Outstanding Women

From Tessa Prieto-Valdes @ Philippine Daily Inquirer:
ASTOUNDING women leave remarkable imprints on places and people that they encounter. They leave their mark and sometimes even change the course of history.

How profoundly these women impact the lives of those they touch vary, of course. But it is still a privilege to write about the one or two who come into focus every now and then.

This week’s column is dedicated to some examples of extraordinary women I know. I’ll preface it by saying that this is not a ranking or an exhaustive list. Rather, it is just a series of feel-good anecdotes.

You'll have to read Tessa's article to discover who her outstanding women are.

The Plight of Afghan Women

From Katherine Butler @ the Independent:
One reason for the widespread public support for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was genuine revulsion at the treatment of Afghan women under the Taliban. Shocking videos of women being flogged or executed by firing squads in football stadiums for "adultery" had been smuggled out by campaigners in the late 1990s. Many people assumed that with the disappearance of Mullah Omar and his extremist followers, women would no longer be regarded as lower in status than farm animals, fit only for household drudgery or reproduction.

Girls would be able to go to school, and their mothers or sisters allowed to work, or even just enjoy ordinary pleasures such as travelling in a taxi, singing, laughing in public, or venturing out of the home without a male relative or a heavy blue cloak covering every inch. Western leaders were eager too to play up the "liberation of the women" as one of the noble aims of the military engagement in Afghanistan.

Pervez Kambaksh has now benefited from a behind-closed-doors act of clemency from the Afghan president. But the fact that the student must flee in fear of his life because he circulated an article questioning attitudes to women in Islam suggests that the supposed introduction of democracy and eight years of war have delivered scant progress.