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For the next 40 years she made her living as a sex worker on the corners of the Plaza and surrounding streets. The area is known as the Merced - bustling blocks that form part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, containing some of the city centre's oldest buildings, its main commercial hub, and the biggest of the city's seven red light districts.
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One night, she passed by a dirty, moving tarpaulin on the side of the street. What she found instead were three elderly women huddled together for warmth. She recognised them as fellow sex workers. She helped the women up, bought them coffee, and got them a room in a cheap hotel. It made her realise how many elderly women were working in the Plaza.
Once their looks had faded, because of their advancing years and the hard life on the streets, many ended up destitute. Their families didn't want them so they had nowhere to go. Munoz became determined to do something about it. Carmen tells Outlook why she wanted to help women such as Marbella Aguilar. For the next 13 years she lobbied the city authorities to provide a retirement home for elderly and homeless sex workers.
With the support of several well-known artists, neighbours from the Merced and fellow sex workers, she finally persuaded them. The city gave them a large 18th Century building, just a few blocks from Plaza Loreto. The women's feeling of elation when they first walked through the doors was immeasurable. Norma, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, rests in her bedroom. It took a lot of work to clean up the building, a former boxing museum, but in the first women moved in. They named the shelter Casa Xochiquetzal, after the Aztec goddess of women's beauty and sexual power.
When I leave the Merced's cacophonous streets and enter Casa Xochiquetzal, the women are listening to music. Jewellery and flower-making workshops are under way and the smell of baking fills the air - a dozen residents are busy baking cakes. While teaching the women new skills, Casa Xochiquetzal also aims to improve their health and well-being by providing self-esteem workshops, medical check-ups and counselling. Marbella Aguilar's room off the central courtyard is filled with books - her favourite authors are Pablo Neruda, Leo Tolstoy and Franz Kafka.
As a child, nearly 60 years ago, her parents threw her out. Fortunately another woman took her in but when she died, Aguilar - now 16 - had to find the rent and pay for her studies by herself. When this proved impossible, she began to sell her body. Through a mixture of jobs and occasional sex work, Aguilar managed to support her own three children through school. But when a teenage daughter died of leukaemia, she fell into a deep depression, could not work and was thrown out of her home for failing to pay the rent.
A woman can lose her honour, but never her dignity. At this point Casa Xochiquetzal rescued her and she now makes money selling jewellery in nearby markets. Canela and Norma, both residents of Casa Xochiquetzal, at the shelter.
There are currently 25 other elderly or homeless women living in Casa Xochiquetzal - aged from 55 to their mids. Though many have retired, some still work the streets. Over the past 11 years, more than sex workers have been given shelter here. There have been big challenges though. Casa Xochiquetzal's finances are precarious - its grant from the city government has been cut back and it is reliant on charitable donations.
On top of that, not everyone gets along. Although the women are friends and roommates now, some were formerly competitors and enemies on the streets. And if not harmony, at least a sense of peace, and the reassurance that they will not die uncared-for on the streets. We deserve a place where we spend the last days of our lives with dignity and tranquillity," says Munoz.
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Behind a steel gate on a dusty side street in Kathmandu, there's a rather good bar. It's run by the Belgian consulate and offers a superb selection of rare Trappist beers. It's an odd place to meet Nepal's next sporting superstar, a former child soldier who ran away from home to escape a life of repression and has since risen to the top of one of the most extreme sports on Earth.
Two things strike you upon meeting this young athlete. First, there are those eyes - twinkling with self-amusement at an absurd life. Secondly, there's the fact that Mira Rai is a woman. Nepal has a shocking record on gender equality. The World Economic Forum puts the Himalayan republic st out of countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, and women here are considered paraya dhan - someone else's property. Violence against women is rife, and Nepal's long-awaited new constitution denies unmarried females the right to pass on their citizenship to their children.
It makes the fact that Nepal's new international sporting hero wears a skirt even more extraordinary. Mira Rai running up a mountain. In the village of Sanu Duma 9, high in Nepal's eastern region, opportunity never knocked for girls. While her brothers went to school, Rai was expected to stay at home and do the chores. Then she was supposed to get married and have children. Rai, however, had different ideas.
She forgets to mention that the bags weighed 28kg 60lbs , and she was just 11 years old. By her mid-teens, she had become what parents refer to as a handful, but while a rebellious streak in a Western year-old might manifest itself as a matt-black bedroom or unsanctioned piercings, Rai expressed her defiance by joining Nepal's Maoist guerrillas. It was then that she learned that her mother had attempted suicide in her absence.
When Rai enlisted in , the Maoists were on the run. Summary executions, torture and disappearance were rife, and Rai describes a time of "constant uncertainty" that was "always dangerous". But what impressed this impossible child most were the insurgents' sports facilities.
Her first race was a 21km event. With no money for food, she ran on an empty stomach and collapsed m from the finish line. When she moved to Kathmandu, charity from a kindly karate teacher allowed her to keep running.
Coached by telephone, she would train on the capital's ring road - one of the most polluted stretches of tarmac in Asia. Mira running at the top of a mountain. Photo - Mira standing on a rock on a mountain. Then she discovered ultra-running - gruelling races of up to 80km or more in the extreme mountain terrain.
Her first race - a 50km event in the Kathmandu Valley - was in March Japanese runner Miki Apreti recalls a "smiley, woefully under-equipped girl, like an elf running in the jungle". Halfway round, on the point of collapse, Rai borrowed 50 rupees 50 cents, 30p to buy noodles and a carton of orange juice. And then won the race. Event organiser Richard Bull knew instantly he had found a prodigy. Then Bull hatched a plan to send her to compete in Europe. Then we realised she'd never been in an aeroplane before.
Victories in Hong Kong and seven other events followed. It's one of the toughest races in the world and she breezed it, coming home 21 minutes ahead of the runner up. Winning her first international race - 57km through the Italian Dolomites - in record time. With a sponsorship deal and the potential to become the most famous Nepali after Sherpa Tensing, Mira Rai's future looks increasingly dazzling.
She giggles at that notion, but her smile is tinged with incredulity. Under this "Equality" label Women are persuaded to take the rule of this dying Planet into their hands and to continue to play the Planetary Game! A lot of words, but not much of a change for Women wordwide! It's an irony. Why don't they do the changes in Japan now, but prepared to wait till April ?
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Hibo, now 46, was subjected to what is defined by the World Health Organization WHO as "type three" mutilation when she was six. This means all of her labia were cut off and she was then stitched together, leaving a tiny hole she compares to the size of a matchstick. Her clitoris was also removed. It's coming out as droplets, and every drop was worse than the one before. This takes four or five minutes - and in that four or five minutes you're experiencing horrific pain.
Her translator didn't want to interpret her request, but the GP managed to understand. Eventually Hibo underwent a procedure called defibulation, when the labia is opened surgically. This widened the hole and exposed her urethra. It is by no means an outright fix, and can never restore sensitive tissue that was removed, but it did make it slightly easier to urinate.
Sex, however, presented a new hurdle. So the hole that you have is very small and sex is very difficult. You do get pleasures - but it's once in a blue moon. First you have a psychological block because the only thing you associate with that part of you is pain. So anything that's happening down there, you never see it as a good thing. Last year the government introduced a new law requiring professionals to report known cases of FGM in unders to the police.
Activists and the police have raised awareness about the risk of British school girls being flown out of the UK specifically to be stripped of their genitals during what is known as the "cutting season" over the summer. However, little is known about how the millions of survivors - including at least , in the UK - cope. The repercussions of a procedure that either involves removing the clitoris type one , removing the clitoris and the inner smaller labia type two , removing the labia and a forced narrowing of the vaginal opening - usually, as in Hibo's case, removing the clitoris too type three , or any kind of harmful mutilation in the genitals sometimes referred to as type four , are wide-ranging.
The symptoms are not normally discussed in the open, partly because FGM is so normalised among some communities that women don't think of it as a problem, or even connect their myriad health problems with their experience of FGM as a child, says Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives RCM. I remember taking the pillow and just putting it on my face because I didn't want the humiliation, the pain.
The day-to-day reality for survivors can be bleak. The NHS lists urinary tract infections, uterine infections, kidney infections, cysts, reproductive issues and pain during sex as just some of the consequences.
A "reversal" surgery, as defibulation is sometimes termed, can help to relieve some of the symptoms by opening up the lower vagina. At the time, she was the first FGM survivor that staff at the hospital in Surrey had seen. Neither she, nor they, had any idea how to try to make the birth easier. My son actually ripped parts of me as well because he was coming with such a force," Hibo recalls.
It was horrific, and I ended up having a long time to recuperate. The woman was right. There was only one word for it - devastating. For the first time, I could see what I had been left with. It was just a hole. Everything else had been chopped off and sealed up. Despite the doctor opening my skin up to expose my urethra so I could wee, there were no fleshy labia like other women had. No protection, no beauty, the area between my legs looked like dark brown sand that someone had dragged a faint line through, then as if someone had poked a stick into the sand, there at the bottom of the line was a hole.
My vagina. I could see it was a little bigger than it had originally been stitched thanks to the doctor who opened me slightly. But there it was. The only clue that I was a woman. The rest of my genitals had been sliced off and discarded. In the UK, a defibulation procedure is now offered as a matter of course before birth, along with psychological support and contact with survivor groups. Midwives say this is vital to those women who may have suppressed memories of the attack and find it difficult to even recognise what was done to them.
Hibo credits her husband Yusuf, who she met just a few months after having her medical procedure in the UK, for his unwavering support in her decision to have surgery and speak out about a practice that is so common in the community she is from. Despite her worst fears, she has found more happiness and intimacy than she ever thought possible.
But the couple and their family have not managed to escape the expectations of the culture they are from. Hibo's decision to make a stand against FGM meant confronting her mother's beliefs and put a huge strain on their relationship. In her early years, they had "such a close bond". And yet it was her mother who took Hibo to have her genitals cut off and sewn up, reinforcing a widespread cultural belief that such a practice is essential for girls' reputations and future marriage prospects.
She thought she was protecting the family honour. She herself was a victim - [and] her mother, her grandmother. Generations have undergone FGM - they didn't see anything wrong with it. You're going to be seen as someone who sleeps around with other men. For them, it was protection for the family and protection for you.
But her in-laws have been "up in arms" about the couple's decision not to cut their three girls. Do I want them to suffer what I've suffered? Do I want them to go through what I go through? Faced with FGM, many had nowhere to turn - until now. A safe house has opened in the north of the country to offer protection when they need it most.
Joanna Giannouli, 27, has a condition which means she has no womb, cervix and upper vagina. Apr 17, She won the match by winning two games with the remaining ending in draws. Henley on Live TV https: Oct 10, Judit Polgar played chess in Netherland, Wijk an Zee in Her opponents were for expamle Karpov, Ponomariov, Anand, Kramnyik. She also won the brilliancy prize for her game against Pavlina Angelova. After gaining two gold medals with the women team, Judit Polgar went to win a silver medal in the men's team competition in the Olympiad, in , in Bled.
While the Hungarians had the best won--loss record of the tournament as a team and lost only a single game of the 56 they played, they had won most of their https: World Blitz Championship! Garry Kasparov. Strongest female player ever. Boris Spasski. Anatolii Karpov. Segregation, the prime minister says, is allowing "appalling practices" such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage to exist, and increasing vulnerability to recruitment by so-called Islamic State - also known as Daesh.
He is also announcing a review of the role of Britain's religious councils, including Sharia courts, in an effort to confront men who exert "damaging control over their wives, sisters and daughters" Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on language was "about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there's genuine opportunity for people".
He said some "menfolk" in Muslim communities were fostering segregation by preventing women from learning English or leaving home alone, and that could not be allowed to continue. There is "a connection with combating extremism" too, he argued, and improving English was important "to help people become more resilient against the messages of Daesh".
New rules will mean that from October, people coming to the UK on a five-year spousal visa will have to take a test after two and a half years to show they are making efforts to improve their English.
Asked what would happen to those who failed, Mr Cameron told Today: But in the end it is not enough just to say the government is going to spend more money and it is our responsibility. People coming to our country, they have responsibilities too. Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police who now works with families whose children have gone to fight with IS, told Today the investment in language lessons was welcome.
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Soon Qingling: China's feminists undeterred by detentions. Where women are killed by their own families - video. A British adventurer has completed an epic 14,nautical mile flight from the UK to Australia in a vintage open cockpit bi-plane. She retraced pioneer Amy Johnson's flight, flying over 23 countries and making some 50 refuelling stops.
After landing in Sydney she tweeted it was the end of a "huge adventure". Ms Curtis-Taylor - the self-styled "Bird in a Biplane" - also thanked "everyone who supported me". Some early reports suggested it was a solo flight - Ms Curtis-Taylor was the only pilot to fly the vintage bi-plane, but she had a support team of engineers travelling with her in a separate aircraft, as well as a camera crew, who would sometimes sit in with her.
She admitted she had "lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground" during frequent refuelling stops, but added: Map of the flight path. She flew over 23 countries and made some 50 refuelling stops. Ms Curtis-Taylor attempted to recreate the essence of Ms Johnson's era by flying with an open cockpit, with basic period instruments and a short range between landing points.
On flying, Ms Curtis-Taylor said: She has flown across 23 countries, including Myanmar - formerly known as Burma Bi-plane flying past Uluru. Ms Curtis-Taylor piloted her bi-plane past Uluru, in central Australia. Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1 Drawing the horror of a Syrian detention centre - video This article is not just about the tortures of human males, but also about Women, who are not afraid of death of their bodies, who can help, who can sacrify themselves for thier beloved men!
LM http: Some readers will find his account disturbing. It is dark, cold and there is an overpowering smell of death and disease. Nearly 70 men are cramped in a room measuring 3m by 4m - one of hundreds of cells inside Syria's notorious detention centres. The men are skinny, naked and shivering with fear.
They have no dignity. Day in day out, death and fear surrounds them till they accept it as normal. After a week I managed to get closer and count the number written on a body's forehead. It was 5, - and after a month and a half, the number on another body was 5, The first night I saw a dead body and smelled it, I felt so sick and sad I couldn't sleep.
But later on we were eating while a dead body was next to us. I remember leaning on a dead body and thinking, 'When are they going to remove it so I can have more space? His crime was coming from a town, a religious group and a family that had revolted against President Bashar al-Assad. This modern look was a sign for the government that I belong to the co-ordination committees that organised protests. The security officer dragged me by my hair and told his boss, 'We've got one of the co-ordinators sir,'" Sami told me.
I don't know where they took me but they put me in a hall while my hands were tied with wires. They started beating me up madly. Then I reached the detention centre. I was bleeding, bones broken, ears damaged so that I couldn't hear properly. The place was like Dante's inferno. You are constantly tortured and you hear the cries of people being tortured. I was kept in the basement maybe seven storeys down. He spent three months in a detention cell before being referred to terrorism court, set up under an anti-terrorism law issued in He was accused of inciting terrorism and threatening state security.
He was imprisoned awaiting trial for nine months. Eventually, Sami was able to bribe his way out. Then she had to pay money to ensure that Sami would not continue to be tortured. One of the people who promised to help ensure Sami's release disappeared after a week, forcing her to look for another contact who might help. Sami recounts the horror of prison in Syria to Lina Sinjab. Then one day she got a call from a relative saying that Sami was in fact being held somewhere else.
I spent the next 18 days in a terrified state until I managed to locate him. At that point she was taken to see him by her contacts. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a different person - almost a third of his size. When he ran towards me I realised it was him. I didn't know what to do, cry or laugh with joy. During that time Fidaa made 38 dangerous journeys to Adra prison to see him.
You want to cry and you can't - it was dead body of a city. The car was driving so fast. We were told there were snipers. So you go to visit a prisoner, and you might end being killed. Sami has lost 40 members of his family, all killed by the regime. He moved home twice inside Syria looking for a safe place to live with his wife and daughter.
His own house and another belonging to his family were burned down by government forces in the Damascus suburb he comes from. For nearly two years before his second period in detention he went everywhere he needed to go in Damascus on foot, rather than using a car, to avoid being picked up at checkpoints.
The Syrian government says it is fighting terrorism, but Sami says none of the people he met in detention were terrorists. I just saw ordinary Syrians," he says. Men from the city with money are treated differently than those coming from poor and rural areas. The more money and connections you have, the less tortured you are.
Many have argued that this sort of treatment drives poor young Sunnis into the arms of Islamist radicals - though Sami says he personally never encountered any Islamists in Syria. The threat to him, he says, came exclusively from the Assad government, and it was the government that drove him eventually to leave the country.
He and his wife and daughter are now in Europe, where Sami is recovering from his ordeal. But can we just abandon women like Bibi Aisha to their fate? Bibi Aisha, whose nose and ears were cut off by her Taliban-sympathising husband, pictured on the cover of Time magazine, 9 August ; and in California in October, with a prosthetic nose made by the Grossman Burn Centre. In , at the height of the Soviet suppression of Afghanistan, National Geographic ran a cover photograph of a stunning Afghan girl.
She had no name, but her haunted, mesmerising green eyes and her dramatic features framed by a crimson head shawl, seemed to capture a story of suffering, lost innocence and unrealised potential that went far deeper than the experience of just one girl. Twenty five years later, Time magazine ran a cover of another beautiful Afghan girl.
She too had captivating eyes — brown, not green — lustrous black hair and a striking expression. However, what gave the photograph its narrative and political power was something that was missing from her attractive physiognomy: In its place was a yawning hole, a hideous second mouth in the very centre of her face.
If those eyes in that now famous National Geographic cover spoke so eloquently of a forsaken nation's plight, then what did this grotesque wound say about the state of the country in ? For Time the answer appeared to be in the cover line, which referred to the debate about the continued presence of Nato troops: There was no question mark. The girl without the nose was Bibi Aisha, an year-old from the southern Afghan province of Oruzgan.
In she had fled her husband's house, complaining of beatings, maltreatment and a life, not uncommon among women in Afghanistan, that amounted to abject slavery. She had been given to her husband when she was 12, as payment to settle a dispute — a practice in Afghanistan that goes by the fitting name of "baad".
Having endured six years of torment and abuse, she escaped to the only place she could go, back to her family home. It was here that the Taliban arrived one night and demanded that the girl be handed over to face justice. She was taken away to a mountain clearing, where the local Taliban commander issued his verdict. She was then held down by her brother-in-law, while her husband first sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose.
Aisha passed out from the pain but soon awoke choking on her blood, abandoned by her torturers and the ad-hoc judiciary of the Taliban. According to Time, the Taliban commander who awarded the punishment, later said that Aisha had to be made an example "lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing". There she remained, under the care of trained social workers, until August of this year, at around the time the Time cover appeared.
She was then flown to California to undergo reconstructive surgery at the Grossman Burn Centre in California. However, following psychological assessment, the medical staff at the foundation decided that Aisha required more counselling and therapy before she could give her informed consent to the gruelling series of operations, that surgery would entail.
When she got to California, she regressed somewhat. We think it was because she really missed the friends she had made in the women's shelter in Kabul. It was also a big culture shock, and there was some problem getting her situated. And she has a prosthesis that they made at Grossman Burn. It's really a work of art. We encourage her to wear it, but she doesn't always put it on. For example, I bought her a map of the world and she had no idea where she was. She couldn't find Afghanistan or Pakistan either.
But the point I want to stress is that she's an amazingly intelligent person. The one problem this presents is that she's inclined to search for sites with photographs of the Taliban, says Hyneman. So we try to discourage her from doing this. Consigned to the status of a domestic slave, she rebelled and felt the brutal force of male-dominated tribal society.
And there is no doubt that this is the context in which this vicious crime against a teenage girl took place. However, it's not the only context, and for many critics of the Time cover, it's not the most significant context. Because, of course, Afghanistan plays host to tens of thousands of foreign troops, most of them American, and as such any efforts to remove the troops are seen by critics of the occupation as all part of a legitimate anti-imperialist cause.
From this perspective, to put it crudely, national liberation always trumps female emancipation. Thus, for those who wished the Nato troops to remain, the photo of Aisha acted as a symbol of what they were fighting against, and for those who wanted to see them withdrawn, it was a piece of emotional propaganda or "war porn".
Writing on the Guardian's website Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches English at Cambridge University, viewed the Time cover in terms of a "cynical ploy" to justify the occupation. People need to realise that she represents those women who are already dead, or under threat of attack or face being stoned to death.
She concluded that America has nothing to offer Afghanistan except more war and "bikini waxes". The notion, fashionable in radical circles, that Afghan women are better off without American protection or influence is one that Hyneman is particularly keen to contest. Under the Taliban girls were not allowed to go to school after the age of eight. Now there are more girls attending school in Afghanistan than at any time in its history.
Under the Taliban, women's voices were banned from radio TV was completely forbidden and now they take up a leading role in the broadcast media. Before, sports were off-limits to women, now there are female athletes competing in international events. Adultery was punishable by being stoned to death, and women were beaten on the street for anything short of total enshrouding. The picture is far from perfect, and there are powerful forces within a weak and corrupt government that still wish to turn back the clock.
There is currently an attempt under way to close down women's refuges because religious conservatives, without any evidence, have accused them of operating as brothels. WAW has five women's refuges throughout the country — and plans to open three more — as well as five family centres where men, who may be a threat to their wives, can receive counselling.
And it is also active in seeking protection and compensation through the courts. Hyneman believes that if the Taliban regains control not only will all these benefits be lost, but there will also be a bloodbath against women.
It's also their military strategy. They're the ones who are using women for military and political gain. Where does she go now? Her mother died when she was very young, and according to Hyneman, she "does not have loving thoughts" about her father, who gave her up in the first place.
She also has a younger sister, says Hyneman, who WAW believe may soon be turned over to the same family that mutilated Aisha as part of the outstanding blood-money debt. No amount of foreign troops can change the status of Afghan women. An enormous amount of work must be done to shift culturally and religiously sanctioned codes of behaviour, and then to raise life expectations. But it's hard to imagine that such efforts could be waged without the protection of the Nato troops.
Even then, many Afghan women may still see security in tradition, no matter how unkind it has been to them. In National Geographic tracked down the girl with the green eyes. They found her living near the mountains of Tora Bora, which had been targeted by American bombing to flush out al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.
Her name was Sharbat Gula. She had lived a life almost permanently disrupted by war and dreamed of her daughters one day attending school. But Gula also said that "life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order".
The Taliban, who have minimal support in Afghanistan, understand the deep yearning for peace in the country after decades of fighting. That's why they are prepared to commit the most monstrous violence, particularly against women, to force the Afghans to submit to their order. Human Rights Watch has collected letters sent by the Taliban to intimidate and terrorise women.
One reads: Anyone who is serious about challenging misogyny in Afghanistan is required, at the very minimum, to acknowledge this depressing reality. Equally, regardless of whether the troops stay or are withdrawn, it's important, if only for the sake of honest debate, to state clearly what's at stake. Aisha's experience is not the whole story, but it does symbolise a critical subplot that ought not be neglected.
That much, at least, is as plain as the nose that is missing from her face. Josina Machel was beaten in October in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, on her mother's 70th birthday. Inside Islamic State: Life for women in Islamic State's Raqqa - video. The small band of pioneering women farmers in India - video. Desperate not to have children Holly Brockwell with niece Holly with mum. Kenyan domestic workers 'abused in Saudi Arabia' - video.
Brazilian women react after sexual comments are directed at a year-old girl. An Australian court has found two women guilty of carrying out female genital mutilation FGM on two young girls, in the country's first such conviction. The incidents took place in separate incidents in and in Wollongong, New South Wales when the girls were each about seven years old. A man, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, was found guilty of covering up the acts.
FGM is when a girl's genitals are partly or wholly removed for non-medical reasons. It usually carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons, and is associated with ideals of femininity and modesty in some societies.
The women, who cannot been named, belong to a Muslim sect. One is the girls' mother, the other a year-old former nurse. The court heard they had cut the genitals of the two young girls in ceremonies known as "khatna". Vaziri, a leader of the sect, was accused of ordering members to tell police they did not practice FGM.
The three were released ahead of sentencing in February. They could face up to seven years in jail. FGM has been illegal in Australia for 20 years, but the case marked the first time such offences had come to trial, according to the Australian Associated Press. Afghanistan's first female conductor. Desperate to leave the country, one Filipina maid who was raped found a dramatic way to escape. There wasn't much in the village Monica left behind.
No clinic, no school, no street lights - just a crossing of dirt roads and a few concrete houses roofed with tin. What really troubled her, though, was the lack of prospects. She had three young children and a husband who barely made enough to feed them. If she could work in the Gulf for even a few years, she thought, perhaps she'd be able to give those kids a different kind of life.
It took 10 hours for the bus to reach the capital of the Philippines, Manila. There, Monica signed up to an employment agency and flew to the United Arab Emirates, where she began work as a maid for an Emirati family. The malls and skyscrapers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi were a world away from the rural poverty of her village, and at first Monica was excited to have a job.
Gradually, though, she began to miss her children, and to feel ground down by the drudgery of the work and the meanness of her employers. There was another servant in the house, a driver from Pakistan. A few months after Monica arrived, the family went out for the day, leaving her alone with the driver. Then he came in… He was holding a knife while he forced himself on me… there was nothing I could do. I was alone. Even if I screamed, I was alone. Under the laws of the UAE, sex outside marriage is a criminal offence.
Since Monica had no way to prove she had been raped, the pregnancy stood as evidence of her guilt. Fearing imprisonment, Monica hid the pregnancy as long as she was able. Maids photographed in Abu Dhabi. Human rights groups have voiced concern on the treatment of domestic servants in Gulf States.
Under Islamic Sharia, which forms the basis of the UAE's Penal Code, extramarital sex is classified as Zina - a category that also includes adultery, fornication and homosexuality. There are no official figures on the number of people prosecuted under the Zina laws. What is clear, though, is that the weight of these laws falls overwhelmingly on the thousands of Asian and African women who have been brought to the Emirates to cook and clean in the homes of the rich.
Rights groups also point out that the Zina laws are applied disproportionately to women. Although domestic workers have been sentenced to flogging - and, in extreme cases, stoning - for Zina crimes, there is no evidence that these punishments are actually carried out in the UAE. The BBC's investigation does confirm, however, that women accused of sex outside marriage are routinely shackled and chained.
Footage, filmed secretly in a UAE courtroom, shows a young Filipina woman shuffling along a corridor with her feet chained together. Sharla Musabih, an American activist who spent more than 20 years in the UAE running a shelter for vulnerable and abused women, says that in Abu Dhabi she saw an Ethiopian domestic worker chained to a hospital bed by her ankles just hours after giving birth. Like Monica, the Ethiopian woman had been raped.
Rothna Begum, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, reported the case of an Indonesian woman who, having jumped from a balcony in an attempt to escape an abusive employer, was cuffed to a hospital bed by her hands and feet. The shackling and chaining of women accused of running away or of breaking the Zina laws is, Begum says, "standard practice in the UAE".
For Monica, as for other pregnant women facing jail for unlawful sex, the obvious way out is to leave the country. But here again, Monica found herself trapped by the laws of the UAE. Domestic workers are brought to the Emirates under something called the Kafala system - an arrangement in which a migrant's right to work, to change jobs, and to go home is entirely dependent upon the employer who sponsors their entry into the country. The dependency created by the Kafala system, as well as the lack of adequate legal protections, leaves domestic servants vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The scale of that abuse may never be fully known. Most reported working long hours of unpaid overtime - in extreme cases, 21 hours per day - and many said that their wages had been withheld. Others had been confined to their employers' houses, or deprived of food or rest. Twenty-four reported physical or sexual abuse. Almost all had had their passports confiscated, despite this being unlawful in the UAE. Some of the women, HRW concluded, "described situations that may amount to slavery under international law.
Several workers said their employers seemed to think they had purchased them. Her employer, invoking her rights under the Kafala system, said, "Why should I send you home? You haven't finished your contract. But almost seven months into her pregnancy, she found a dramatic way to escape. Using Facebook, Monica contacted the host of a popular radio talk show in the Philippines. She gave him the number of a mobile phone that she kept hidden in the kitchen.
The talk show host called Monica a short while later. The radio show that helped a trapped Filipina maid escape the UAE. Live on air, locked in the bathroom of her employer's house, Monica told thousands of listeners that she had been raped, that she was pregnant, and that she was desperate to get back home. In the lion's den: The Indian women who answer cat calls. Violinist highlights a decade of online abuse - video.
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Ethel Smith: Weird Organ Lady or Mondo Organista? The extraordinary case of the Guevedoces. Mike Mosley. Japanise Women-Warriors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reported to be eager to find a definitive solution to the "comfort women" question. Japan is reported to have proposed setting up a government fund to resolve a longstanding disagreement with South Korea about sex slaves during World War Two. The "comfort women" were forced to work in Japanese military brothels.
PM Shinzo Abe has instructed his foreign minister to sortout the issue during a visit to Seoul next week, Japanese media has reported. The issue has dogged relations with South Korea for decades. South Korea has previously maintained that Japanese apologies do not go far enough and has been critical of what it sees as Japan's reluctance to atone for its brutal wartime past. But relations between the two counties have improved recently after they agreed to accelerate talks.
South Korean former 'comfort woman' Lee Yong-Soo C , who was forcibly recruited to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, and her supporters demonstrate near the Japanese embassy in Seoul on 30 October Relations between Japan and South Korea have improved recently after they agreed to accelerate talks.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was reported on Friday to have arranged a surprise visit to South Korea in the hope of finding an early resolution. He was speaking after Japanese media reports said that Mr Abe had instructed him to hold ministerial talks in Seoul as early as Monday to resolve the question.
Any fund will follow a similar one set up which ended after a decade. At that time it was made clear that the money was raised from donations, not from the Japanese government. It reports that South Korea is pushing for an apology from Mr Abe that includes recognition of Japan's responsibility.
The website says that some in the Japanese government support a plan which would entail Mr Abe sending letters to "comfort women" which will allude to Japanese "responsibility" and referring to an "apology". It has also been suggested that Japan's ambassador in Seoul may meet former "comfort women".
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