Women Worldwide, Jan.-Feb. 2011

February 22, 2011

by Artemis

On Dec. 17, 2010, the Eighth International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was observed in 15 cities in the U.S., seven cities in Canada and six cities in other countries. In candlelight vigils, the names were read of 60 sex workers murdered in 2010. The speeches, discussions and video showings made statements on how violence towards sex workers should not be socially acceptable, as well as statements about the harm done by keeping sex work illegal.

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In the past five years, single women’s organizations have spread throughout India. They have a membership of over 58,000 women and represent over 36 million who are single (unmarried, divorced, widowed or deserted). On a local level, they use creative means to change social attitudes, and on a national level they work to get single women the rights to inherit property, to work, to participate in family rituals and to receive a pension and land from the government.

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Jan. 1 was the first working day of a new UN agency, UN Women, which will partner with UN member states to develop and promote standards for gender equality. Its goals also include fostering women’s equality, reducing violence against women, and empowering and providing greater opportunities for women worldwide.

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After years of struggle the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights passed the New York State Legislature in June. Domestic Workers United fought for the bill, the first to protect the state’s 200,000 domestic workers, documented and undocumented immigrants. It corrects the 75-year exclusion of mostly Black domestic and farm workers from labor law protections. It requires minimum wages, overtime pay, and sick, holiday, and vacation pay as well as 14-day notice or termination pay before firing a domestic worker.

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Luleki Sizwe is a Cape Town, South Africa, organization working to change negative perceptions of LBT women. Although South Africa has led the world in providing many legal rights for LGBT people, more than 10 lesbians a week in Cape Town are raped by men saying they want to “correct” the women’s sexual orientation. Luleki Sizwe has provided shelter and services to the victims and rallied 125,000 people from 163 countries to petition the government to make rape a hate crime with a minimum 25-year sentence.

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