Her Side of the Story
March 23-March 30
A basic overview of current events this week involving women’s and gender issues in a social justice context.
- ** Starred stories contain disturbing content relating to sexual assault and violence.
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Last week, Al Jazeera aired a documentary, “101 East,” on “Malaysia’s Woman Warrior,” Ann Osman, a Muslim 28-year-old woman from Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Osman, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who learned how to defend herself after being tail gaited home one night, has “become an unwitting ambassador for the sport and, in the process, a role model for many Asian women.” Osman is the first Malaysian woman to sign a contract with ONE Champion, Asia’s largest MMA organization, and balances her daily training with a tourism business. She has garnered praise for volunteering internationally to teach self-defense to trafficking victims, but often faces criticism for not fulfilling her traditional Muslim role.
Last Sunday, hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of Farkhunda, a 27-year-old Kabul woman killed by a mob last Thursday. The mob, who gathered after Farkhunda allegedly burned the Qu’ran, beat her, set her on fire, and threw her body into the Kabul River. Afghan officials have condemned the attack and have found no evidence that the victim actually defaced the Qu’ran. According to women’s rights activists in Afganistan, a mullah accused Farkhunda of burning the Qu’ran after she criticized business of selling religious verses as anti-Islamic. Her funeral was the first time in Afghanistan that women have carried a corpse to a grave.
For more information, read this article by Frozan Marofi, Women for Women’s International manager for social empowerment.
A new International Monetary Fund report studied 126 countries and determined that in wealthy countries such as Qatar, integrating women into the workplace could boost the GDP by 34%. The IMF predicts that closing gender gaps worldwide could boost GDPs on average by 13.5%, compared to the current 3% average annual growth. One of the biggest barriers to equality in the work force, according to the UK nonprofit ActionAid, is that women are “usually responsible for unpaid caregiving,” such as “looking after children, the elderly, and the ailing.” Many countries, such as Saudi Arabia, do not bar women from working but impose indirect barriers, such as bans on driving. According to several studies, writes NPR’s Thomas Grose, “discriminatory practices that keep women out of the workforce are not only unjust, but economically nonsensical as well.”
After the Christian baking company “Ashers” refused fulfill a cake order for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, citing the pro-gay marriage slogan on the cake as a violation of Christian faith, The Equality Commission filed a civil suit against the bakery. Proponents of an Irish “conscience clause,” which would allow religious business owners and employees to opt out of offering services for LGBT causes, claim that their right to religious freedom protects them from having to make products that violate their beliefs. LGBT activists, however, argue that such laws persecute minorities more than they protect Christians. More and more Americans are signing a petition against the “conscience clause.”
Twenty-year-old Pradnya Mandhare alleges that she was molested in broad daylight last week at a Mumbai suburb train station. After realizing that no one would help her fend off her attacker, she began hitting the man with her bag. Upon realizing he was drunk, she decided to grab his hair and walk him to the police station. The alleged attacker, Chavan Chowdee, was taken into police custody. This case comes as activists shed light on an epidemic of violence against women in India, as evidenced by the brutal 2012 Delhi gang rape explored in last month’s India’s Daughter documentary.