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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs