News

On the Move

The international feminist network Isis-WICCE (Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange) has moved from its office in Switzerland to Kampala, Uganda. The group's next exchange program between feminist action organizations, scheduled for early 1996, will focus on "Freeing Ourselves from Violence: Mechanisms for Change". The program will look how specific mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring accountability for women's human rights can be developed. Applications are due June 1, 1995. For more information contact Isis-WICCE, Box 4934, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. Tel./fax 256 41 268 676.

New Film on Witch Persecutions

'The Woman Betrayed', a new 40-minute documentary by Sehjo Singh, interviews three women believed to be witches in different parts of Bihar and West Bengal, in India. The film won the special Juoros Award for 1994 at the Earth Vision Environment Festival in Japan.

"Women who are helpless or hated by society for one reason or the other are often branded as witches and become the scapegoats of the society's anger and frustration," stated Singh in a recent interview. "All through my research and during the shooting of the film, I found that witch hunting reaches a new height each time there is a crisis in society."

One of the women interviewed was a labor leader of coal miners. She testified in the film that witch hunting intensifies whenever there were prolonged periods of hunger and unemployment. Another interviewee was an indigenous widow who was struggling to retain her dead husband's land. Under customary law, male relatives of the husband will inherit the land once the widow dies.

Independent Press Under Attack

Among the latest victims of Algeria's war against women are Rachida Hammadi, 32, and her sister Meriam Hammadi, 36. Rachida, a television journalist, was investigating activities of Islamic fundamentalists. Her sister worked as a secretary at the same state television company. On their way to work in March, gunmen drove by and shot them, killing Meriam immediately. Rachida was shot in the head and is in a coma. Some 30,000 Algerians have been killed in three years by Islamic underground or government forces, including 37 journalists. 200 other journalists have left their homes and gone into hiding.

Turkish Women Seek International Support

Although the constitution of Turkey states that women and men are equal before the law, other laws clearly discriminate against women. Husbands have the legal right to determine where a family can live and the final say over children. Women must also have the permission of their husbands in order to ask for a passport. Turkish women have collected 100,000 signatures demanding an end to such legal discrimination. The Turkish group Women for Women's Human Rights now seeks international support for a similar petition campaign. For more information and a copy of the petition, contact Women Living Under Muslim Law, Boite Postale 23, 34790 Grabels (Montpellier), France, or fax Women for Women's Human Rights at +90 216 3851262.

Changes in punishable offenses in Turkish schools were announced February 6 by the Ministry for National Education. Under the new rules, bringing pornographic magazines to school was no longer an offense, but losing your virginity (if you're a girl) was. The new rules allowed headmasters to send "suspicious" girls for a virginity check (a practice whereby unmarried girls are stripped searched to see if their hymen was still intact). Girls who were no longer virgins could be expelled from school. Teachers in Izmir, and the Izmir medical association, protested the new regulation, as did parents. Objections seemed based not so much on the fact that virginity checks violate young women's bodily integrity, but rather on the increased authority of headmasters. The Minster for National Education repealed the regulation on February 9.

Sisters of Venus, the first and so far only Turkish lesbian group, was established in Istanbul in July 1994. The group is cooperating with a women's project to compile a report on women's legal situation in Turkey. A comprehensive report on lesbians' legal rights will appear in this report. Sisters of Venus has also become part of a world-wide project on AIDS, started by the World Health Organization. They are planning to start a Health Care project, and are working with the AIDS Prevention Association in Istanbul to prepare education material an AIDS for Turkish women. They are interested in contacts with other feminist and/or lesbian groups, and in information about possible funding sources. Contact: Sisters of Venus, MBE: 165 Kayisdag Cad. No. 99, 81043 Ziverbey, Istanbul, Turkey.

New Publications

Making Women Matter: the Role of the United Nations (Zed Books, 7 Cynthia St., London N1 9JF, UK) is a comprehensive look at UN treaties and conventions about women, with recommendations as to how the UN can be used in the struggle for equality.

"Lola Press" is a new feminist news magazine, with editorial offices in Berlin, Montevideo and Windhoek. She appears twice a year, in English and Spanish, and is published by the German feminist funding agency Frauenanstiftung. "Lola Press", Friedrichstrasse 165, D-10117 Berlin, Germany. Tel/fax + 49 30 609 3719; email: Lolapress@ipn-b.comlink.de

Violence against women is a deadly disease, with more women dying each day from sex discrimination and violence than any other form of human rights abuse. That's the conclusion of an excellent new Amnesty International report Human Rights Are Women's Rights, available from AI's International Secretariat, 1 Easton St., London WC1, UK...."Violence Against Women" is a new quarterly English-langauge magazine. While aimed at researchers and academics, it is still interesting for the general public: Sage Publications, 6 Bonhill St., London EC2A 4PU, UK. Tel. +44 171 374 0645; fax +44 171 3748741....A report on the same issue, "Violence Against Women in Eastern and Central Europe", gives more practical advice for activists, with a country-by-country status report. This is a report on the 1993 workshop of the same name organized by the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (HCA). Cost US $7 from HCA, Milady Horakove 103, 16000 Prague 6, Czech Republic.