Women members of Afghanistan’s parliament (MPs) have set up a “parallel parliament in exile” in Greece, where they fled after the fundamentalist Taliban regime took over their country in August. One goal is to bring to safety women judges, lawyers, security officers, activists, and the nine female MPs remaining in hiding in Afghanistan. Their lives are threatened by the authoritarian, misogynist regime which has stripped women of basic human rights. Another goal is to ensure aid reaches starving Afghans and that countries advocate for human rights when working with the Taliban. Mina’s List, a nonprofit supporting women’s political leadership, will facilitate virtual sessions between the MPs, the U.S. President and Congress members as well as UN security officials.
On Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, thousands marched in Istanbul, Turkey’s, Taksim Square demanding action against widespread violence but were attacked by police. Signs read, “Don’t Stay Quiet Against Male Violence” and “We Won’t Be Quiet.” Some called for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian government to resign over its withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. This agreement, known as the Istanbul Convention and signed by all European Union countries, provides a comprehensive legal framework against all forms of violence against women including rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and “honor” killings. President Erdoğan claimed the agreement was inconsistent with Turkey’s conservative values and that local laws were sufficient to protect women.
In November, thousands demonstrated in cities across Poland, renewing protest against January’s ban on most abortions, including a ruling that abortion on the grounds of fetal defects was unconstitutional. The protests were reignited when Izabela, a woman with a 22-week pregnancy, died of septic shock after doctors refused to abort a fetus with numerous defects because it had a heartbeat. Signs read “Her Heart Was Beating Too,” “Not One More,” and “Indifference is Complicity.” A protester stated, “The antiabortion law in Poland kills Polish women. It is cruel, it is terrifying. It is inhuman and I hope that this demonstration will contribute in some way so that Polish women will not have to die.”
On Oct. 23, 7,000 women from across Spain gathered in Madrid, protesting male violence against women, prostitution, surrogacy, and gender self-identification laws. The demonstration’s motto was “The Strength of Women is the Future of All”, and it was organized on social media by radical feminist organization La Fuerza de las Mujeres (Strength of Women). Its manifesto, posted on Twitter, is signed by over 170 Spanish feminist organizations. Organizers stated social media response from worldwide feminist organizations was “overwhelming” with a group in Norway holding a solidarity demonstration at the Spanish embassy.