From the May-June 2019 issue of News & Letters
In March, about 30,000 demonstrators from 70 Italian human rights organizations marched through Verona, Italy, protesting the 13th annual conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF), an international Christian religious Right group founded in the U.S. The WCF has backed worldwide legislation against women’s civil, human, and reproductive rights and against LGBT rights. It claims it is “natural” for women to be submissive to men and produce as many children as possible. Openly fascist Italian political parties supported the gathering of politicians, aristocrats and clergy claiming to speak for the people, while the demonstrators were joined by local citizens of all ages. Signs read “I Decide,” “Born Free,” “Lesbian Passion,” “Reeks of Clerical Fascism,” and “They Shall Not Pass!”
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“A Peace of Her Mind,” Sudan’s first female-run radio show, was started by Loice Kiden, a refugee from South Sudan who returned as a feminist activist. It broadcasts countrywide, bringing attention to issues intensified by war and poverty, including child brides, domestic violence, rape, the dangers of early child-bearing, and the importance of girls’ education. In a country where many are illiterate, Kiden stated, “The radio is changing people’s minds. People are listening to the show and learning. It is also important that the show is independent (not affiliated with any political party).”
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Survivors of prostitution, organized by the international Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP), marched from Strasbourg, France, arriving in Mainz, Germany, on April 2, Survivor’s Day. They chanted, “Nordic Model now!” “Germany is a pimp state, shame on Germany, shame on men!” “Protect our dignity!” “Women and girls are not for sale!” Signs read, “End Male Violence,” “Prostitution Kills Women,” “Prostitution Is Sex Without Pleasure Nor Desire” and “The Human Body Is Not Negotiable.” The next day CAP held its third World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls, titled Prostitution: Neither Sex Nor Work! International speakers—including survivors, academics, politicians, and members of NGOs—called upon Germany, “the brothel of the world,” to criminalise buying and pimping without criminalizing prostituted women.
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The Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center is a Nigerian organization providing pro-bono legal services and research to fight civil rights violations and violence against women. It is calling attention to the illegal practice of hospital detention in Nigeria and other African and Asian countries in which healthcare is not free or insured. People who cannot pay their medical bills are imprisoned in the hospital and may be denied medical care, abused, and starved. Women are especially affected due to childbirth, and their deaths from detention and from avoidance of hospitalization have contributed to Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate.