News

UN Report Calls for End to Injustices Faced by Women

A mass rape victim comforts her son in the town of Fizi, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 20, 2011
A mass rape victim comforts her son in the town of Fizi, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 20, 2011

Women from minority groups are often victims of rape and torture and are specifically targeted because of their ethnicity or religion. That’s according to a report published in Britain on Wednesday. Women are also the focus of a report published by the United Nations on Wednesday.

Mark Lattimer heads Minority Rights Group International. He said that minority women are the most vulnerable to physical violence.

"What has personally shocked me is that for women from minority groups, that discrimination takes the form of actual physical violence. In countries right around the world, minority women are being targeted for rape and other forms of violence simply on account of their ethnicity or their religion," said Lattimer.

Minority Rights Group made those women the focus of its annual report on Wednesday.

Lattimer says in conflict areas the problem is acute. The report highlights Iraq, where it says Christian and other minority women have been forced to wear head scarves to defend against violent attacks. In Somalia, it says Bantu and other minority women suffer rape and perpetrators attack with impunity.

Rape as a weapon

The report says rape is a weapon of war and minority women, because of their often low social-economic status, are most vulnerable.

Lattimer says minority women also suffer in peacetime. It’s key, he says, that their rights aren’t forgotten.

"We have come a long way in the last ten, twenty years in understanding the need to focus on defending the rights of women around the world," said Lattimer. "I think the scale of violations of women's rights has shocked many people. But I think those who are focused on women's rights need to understand that not all women are the same and that particular groups of women are much, much more vulnerable than others."

The report on minority women comes on the same day that the U.N.’s recently formed Women’s Agency published its first report.

Focus areas

Minority women are one focus of a broad campaign to put women at the forefront of the global agenda.

It looks at a range of issues in countries around the world, including violence, political and economic power, and legal protection. What rights, it asks, do women actually have.

John Hendra is Assistant Secretary-General of U.N. Women. He was in London for the report’s launch. "There is a lot of evidence that to really achieve the global development goals, the greatest multiplier effect is women's empowerment: ensuring equal access by women and girls to education, basic services, health and decision making," he said.

'Good news, bad news'

The report says across the board there is good news and bad news.

Politically, in some countries women are surging ahead. In Rwanda, for example, 51 percent of the parliament is female. But globally, only one-fifth of women are parliamentarians.

In 173 countries women are guaranteed paid maternity leave, but that’s not the case everywhere - not, for example, in the United States.

Rape in marriage is criminalized in 52 countries. But 2.6 billion women live in countries where it’s legal.  

Hendra says the U.N. agency is designed to bring all this information under one roof so that governments and organizations can channel energy and resources where they’re most needed.  "Our pockets are not deep but our role is much more trying to bring a much more synergistic approach to the U.N. system," he said.

According to the U.N. report, the gender pay gap was 20 percent in 2010. Hendra says giving women economic equality is key to women’s rights.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs