Take Global Action NOW
Acid Attacks in Bangladesh
Women and Girls in Afganistan
by Sarah Rabin, Special Projects Staff
News stories can educate, inspire and anger, but
they rarely give readers information on how to make a difference. Starting
in this issue, the National NOW Times will report on some of the most pressing
global women's issues and give you the opportunity to take action. Please
take the time to write, call, fax or e-mail the agencies listed below.
Your time and your words can help change the world.
Acid Attacks in Bangladesh
In the first three months of 1999, at least 12 women
and girls in Bangladesh were attacked with sulfuric acid thrown in their
faces. By the end of the year, authorities estimate that number will be
higher than 200. In response to the growing independence of the women in
the country, there are men who attack them with the easily-accessible and
permanently disfiguring acid for a rejected marriage proposal, dowry dispute,
domestic fight or similar reason.
In 1995, the Bangladesh government enacted legislation
that has failed to protect these women. In a study of the 174 attacks from
April to December 1998, 10 of the victims were under 10 years of age, 79
were between 11-20 years of age and 20 were between 20-30 years of age.
The government is working to strengthen laws to protect these women and
see that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Spread the word and write the following people. Demand
stronger and more effective legislation, better enforcement, and more comprehensive
social services to assist the victims of acid attacks: Mme. Sheikh Hasina/Honorable
Prime Minister/Prime Minister Secretariat/Old Shangshad Bhaban/Tejgoan/Dhaka,
Bangladesh/Fax: 880-2-811490; Mr. Abdul Matin Khasru/Minister for Law,
Justice and Parliamentary Affairs/Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliament/Bangladesh
Secretariat/Dhaka, Bangladesh/Fax: 880-2-868557
For more information, refer to the Sisterhood is
Global Institute (SIGI) web site at www.sigi.org.
Women and Girls in Afghanistan
The campaign to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan
continues as the U.S. Senate
Foreign Relations Committee introduces a bill condemning it and new
reports show that its terrorism is spreading to other countries. S.R.68
regarding the "treatment of women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan,"
was introduced by eight Senators, including Barbara
Boxer, D-Calif., at the end of March. The bill urges that neither the
United Nations nor the U.S. recognize the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan
as long as "gross violations of internationally recognized human rights
against women and girls persist."
Write your Senators and let them know that they should
support this bill and make ending the Taliban regime a priority.
Activists are also encouraged to create a will-and
therefore a way-to help. Humanitarian aid efforts need to focus on helping
women and children, not the Taliban Army. Aid should not be cut off, for
this will only hurt those who are already suffering. Let your Congressmember
and the U.N. know that the time is now and the need is urgent.
For more information, see the Feminist Majority web
site at www.feminist.org and the
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan site at www.rawa.org.
The United Nations Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
turns 20 this year, and the U.S. Senate still has not ratified this important
world treaty. But thanks to the efforts of a coalition in Chicago,
Ill., the local legislature will consider passing CEDAW legislation
for the city. Mayor Richard Daley
has been supportive, and Chicago NOW
will offer testimony for the treaty in May. This is encouraging and should
inspire grassroots activists to work on passing similar laws in local communities
as well as on a national level.
If you would like information about organizing coalitions
for local CEDAWs, e-mail email@example.com
or call 202-628-8669, ext. 728.
A "Dear Colleague" letter initiated by Sen.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is making its way through Senate offices.
Contact your Senators and let them know that they should not pass up this
opportunity to support women's rights. Currently 50 Senators have expressed
their support for ratification of CEDAW, eight are against it, and 43 have
not made their opinions known. Only 18 more supporters are needed for the
two-thirds majority required for Senate ratification. Your calls, faxes,
letters and e-mails are vital. To contact your Senators call the Capitol
Switchboard at 202-224-3121, write to The Honorable (full name)/U.S. Senate/Washington,
D.C. 20510 or check http://congress.org/search.html
for their e-mail addresses.
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