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Human Rights



Human Rights Quarterly, 2007, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 346-367 (22)

Twiss, Sumner B.

Abstracted by Annmarie Barnes

There are various approaches associated with torture in terms of it absolute prohibition and some would argue exceptions that justify its use; this article outlines the notion that the prohibition against torture can occur without exception. The ticking time bomb scenario is used to illustrate the classic exception in which torture is justified. According to this scenario there is a bomb that can explode at any moment killing thousands of people, and a suspect is in custody who may know where the bomb is. In order to get information about the location of the bomb, the suspect is tortured as part of a "quick and dirty" technique to find the bomb as soon as possible. The author deconstructs the efficacy of this technique. The three approaches discussed in this article consist of an international consensus on human rights, the intuitive view of human rights that does not require a theoretical justification, and a cross-cultural consensus on human rights. However, each of these three approaches has limitations since they do not adequately account for the foundational beliefs of communities and their traditions. This article also refers to Philip Quinn's essay, "Relativism about Torture: Religious and Secular Responses," which argues that torture can be deemed as wrong all the time. Quinn asserts that people will see torture as wrong when torture is always shown in a negative light in the creative arts, which can be shared across cultures. This representation of torture is supposed to facilitate the development of a consensus that bans torture. However, Twiss acknowledges that there are some questions based on Quinn's discussion on shared morality, epistemic relativism, and morality by consensus that are unanswered in relation to the sustainability of building a consensus against torture. Understanding torture and its impact on a society at large is an attempt to answer the questions that are suggested in these approaches. Torture is linked to the violation of other human rights. Torture is never justified by virtue of the fallacy of the ticking time bomb scenario; the suspect may respond to torture and tell the inquisitor what he or she wants to hear. The inquisitor and the suspect are alienated, and enmity may define their relationship. The effects of the routinization of torture and the changing nature of torture provide a framework in which the absolute prohibition against torture is indeed a viable aspiration.




Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 31, No. 4, Fall 2003.

Greenwood , Scot W.

Abstracted by Cara Dilts

The effectiveness of humanitarian aid and nation-building in post-conflict situations is dependent upon protecting refugees and IDPs during reconstruction, and ensuring that a functioning legal system is in place. A strong judiciary is necessary to protect the human rights of returning refugees and IDPs, and thus ensure that humanitarian aid and nation-building efforts have sustainable, long-term positive effects. This article examines three recent post-conflict situations in order to demonstrate the importance of the judiciary in successful humanitarian operations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and East Timor. In Bosnia, despite the establishment of a Human Rights Ombudsman and Human Rights Chamber, the judicial system lacked enforcement mechanisms. In the case of the Ferhadija Mosque, the international community interceded after local officials repeatedly denied a Human Rights Chamber directive to rebuild the mosque in order to protect the religious rights of returnees. The international community responded, successfully exerting pressure upon officials to implement the directive. This event influenced the creation of an Independent Judicial Commission (IJC) to provide assistance in judicial reform. Positive effects of the IJC and the international community’s bolstering of the enforcement of Human Rights Chamber decisions can be seen in the marked increase in successful property claims made by refugees and IDPs returning to Bosnia. The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) recognized the importance of laws that created a sense of security and confidence in returned refugees and IDPs. UNMIK issued regulations that established domestic laws that consistently applied to human rights violations in Kosovo. Once the applicable law was established, the international community needed to rebuild the physical infrastructure and provide the resources for a functioning legal system. Although the latter tasks were slow to be realized, once the international community solved these problems, evidence of the gradual reduction in the numbers of returnees leaving the province, as well as the reduction in post-conflict violence, could be attributed to the stronger judiciary in Kosovo and the related increased protection of human rights. As in Kosovo, the United Nations assumed initial responsibility for administration of the judicial system in East Timor. In the beginning, the judicial system was burdened with a lack of resources and unfinished court facilities, so the international community established the National Return and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission alleviated the burden on the courts, strengthening the overall judicial system, and provided a means for returnees to quickly and adequately address human rights abuses. The success of the Commission is evidenced by the stabilization of East Timor’s transition to independence in May of 2002. These three case studies demonstrate that a strong judicial system that protects human rights is a key factor in ensuring that humanitarian aid and nation-building efforts are successful. As such, when developing plans for reconstruction and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and Iraq , the success of the operations will depend upon the international community’s commitment to ensuring strong judiciaries that protect the rights of refugees and IDPs.



Director: Aaron Matthews

Producer: Aaron Matthews

Distributor: PBS/POV

Runtime: 70 minutes

Abstracted by Morgan Marks

A Panther in Africa shares the story of two former Black Panther Party members and their ability to transcend borderlines and cultural boundaries. The Black Panther Party, an African American revolutionary organization, was originally formed to combat the mistreatment of African Americans, and advocate and fight for the recognition and respect of their rights. The group is often known for its" violent and bold statements and tactics, while its social activism and welfare programs, such as the feeding of multitudes of impoverished and hungry people on a daily basis, have often been overlooked.

The film centers on Pete O" Neal and his wife Charlotte O'Neal, two former Black Panther Party members, who are currently exiled in Tanzania. Pete is one of the original founders of the Black Panther Kansas City Chapter; after hearing of the Black Panther Party in 1968, he founded the Kansas City Chapter, as he wanted to stand up for his "black community," as well as lead efforts to better the lives of his community members. In the film, Pete describes the impact that the Black Panther Party had on his life; before his involvement with the group, his life consisted of making poor choices, filled with regrets and many mistakes. The Black Panther Party changed his life for the better.

However, in 1970, Pete was forced into exile after facing what he refers to as a "bogus charge" of carrying a gun across state lines. Both Pete and Charlotte were displaced to Tanzania, where they began their lives anew. The film depicts their struggle to cope and deal with their forcible displacement; both faced sickness, loss of self-identity, and had to overcome the difficulties of fitting into a new culture, and entirely new ways of living. The film portrays the extent to which the O'Neal's were challenged daily to find peace and purpose in their new home.

In particular, the film highlights Pete's struggle with self-identity and belonging in Tanzania, where his new roots are, and where his ancestors came from. However, because he grew up in the United States, and first considers himself an African American, he struggles with his identity and to reconcile a sense of belonging to multiple places with a new life in Tanzania. The film depicts how Pete and Charlotte, as forcibly displaced exiles, have emplaced themselves in Tanzanian society, and the ways in which they have constructed a sense of home and belonging in their country of exile.

A Panther in Africa shows an insider's view of the O'Neals" everyday struggles, their persistence in the face of adversity, their successes, and most importantly, their incredible transformation to find what they perceive to be their true calling and genuine selves. The O'Neals have truly established themselves as part of the Tanzanian community, and in doing so, have given back more of themselves than they ever could have imagined. Other forcibly displaced persons can learn from their experiences.




Film: 2007

Abstracted by Tessa Powell

In 2003, ethnic violence broke out in the Darfur region of Sudan. Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, travelled throughout the region killing entire villages of people, raping women, and preventing any survivors from returning by burning huts to the ground. This destruction continued without strong international forces in the region to stop the human rights abuses. A ceasefire ending a years-long civil war in Sudan was signed earlier in 2003, but had little effect on Darfur. This film follows Captain Brian Steidle—who joined the African Union as an international monitor of the Sudanese ceasefire after leaving the U.S. Marine Corps—as he travelled through the Darfur region monitoring the violence. Unarmed and based out of Nyala in Darfur, he was responsible for receiving complaints, investigating violations of the ceasefire, determining who was responsible, and writing reports to send back to the African Union office in al Fashir.

Steidle knew little about the region and was ill-prepared for the destruction he would witness; armed only with a camera (which provided the images for this film) he recorded all that remained in the wake of the Janjaweed’s campaign of terror. Those who had been displaced and later spoke with Steidle make it clear that the Arab militias were being armed and trained by the Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir and then sent to Darfur to attack non-Arabs in the region. In fear for their lives, an estimated one million or more people fled the region and found themselves in makeshift displacement camps. Not even this was an escape, as the Janjaweed found and attacked some of those in the camps as well.

Without permission from the African Union to defend the innocent lives at risk, all Steidle could do was document what he saw in pictures and film. The pictures are haunting, reminding him of the evil that would continue to happen if something were not done. Steidle finished his contract and returned to the U.S, but after much consideration, he met with Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times and shared his story, validating the dire situation through film. Steidle became a face for the campaign to end the genocide in Darfur, speaking on news programs, at rallies, testifying before Congress, and meeting with political leaders to push for action in Darfur.

Though President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that the situation was genocide, no steps initially were taken by the American government to do anything about it. Resolutions and sanctions were passed at the United Nations, but little was done in the way of enforcement. Despite the dismissive attitude of political leaders around the world, Steidle returned to Africa to learn more from the refugees who had made it across the border into Chad. These conversations brought to life the pain and suffering of his photographs. The documentary ends with little resolution, as violence continues to occur in Darfur and the international community remained ambivalent. The film serves as a call to action rooted in the dark tragedy of the worst possible human rights abuses.




The Applied Anthropologist, 2009, 29(1), 87-91

Marineau, J.

Abstracted by Logan Boon

Moving forward from Peter Van Arsdale's discussion of the state as a key player in the perpetuation of genocide, Josiah Marineau attempts to answer the question of what role should the state play in dealing with the aftermath of genocide, by looking at the case of Rwanda. Marineau analyzes the Rwandan government's role in the creation of the Gacaca Courts in order to "understand the role of the state in crafting an institutionalized response in the context of the period following the genocide" (Marineau, 87). The Gacaca Courts were constructed to tackle the incredible caseload that the country faced as well as to reconcile the people of Rwanda. Though the courts were designed while reinforcing traditional forms of justice, they varied in many important ways including the severity of crimes, the punishment sentenced, and non-voluntary participation.

One of the major goals in the implementation of the Gacaca courts was reconciliation. The government sought this by allowing victims satisfaction in knowing perpetrators have been punished while also integrating offenders back into society. However, Marineau points out that the punishment of the "perpetrators" may actually undermine the intended process of reconciliation. The design of the courts led to an overwhelming separation of Hutu perpetrators and Tutsi victims, despite the Tutsi government's abuses of Hutus directly after the genocide. Marineau explains that the state denial of these massacres after the genocide reinforces a collective guilt among the Hutu population, replacing ethnic distinctions of "Hutu" and "Tutsi" with the one-sided prosecutions of "perpetrator" and "victim." Furthermore, Marineau explains how the courts have unintentionally led to continued victimization of some survivors. While the government intended the courts to be a place of healing, by allowing survivors to share their stories, the lack of security and public participation in the proceedings has undermined it.

Marieneau's article shows the difficulties within the process of reconciliation in Rwanda through the Gacaca Courts, including collective guilt and continued victimization. The article shows important implications of a government's role in post-genocide reconciliation and while the Gacaca Courts were originally lauded in the international community for their uniqueness and traditional ties, they have now come under much criticism. Bridging off of other authors" analysis of the role of the state in genocides, Marineau attempts to analyze one of the first major modern attempts at state-sponsored reconciliation after such atrocities. He provides an important examples of the goals of the Gacaca as well as the problems that it has faced.




DVD: 2009

Runtime: 43 Minutes

Written by: Daniel Neumann

Produced by: Daniel Neumann, Otim Patrick, and Ann Chang

Refugee Law Project, Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Uganda

Abstracted by Vivienne Chew

In "Gender Against Men", the Refugee Law Project (RLP) explores the hidden world of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) against men. Drawing from testimonies of male survivors, the documentary provides powerful and thought-provoking narrative on the violence perpetuated against men in the conflicts of the Great Lakes region. Overt forms of violence- including sex-selective massacres and rape- as well as more subtle practices that erode and undermine the traditional male provider/protector role are explored. Sources of violence include soldiers and armed groups, as well as ineffective gender-equality policies implemented by relief agencies in refugee camps. The documentary depicts the psychological and physical trauma that is inflicted on male survivors, as well as the implications of such violence on family members and the stability of the wider community.

Through "Gender Against Men", the RLP highlights an issue that has been largely ignored by governments, non-governmental organizations, and humanitarian actors. Central to the documentary is the RLP's challenge of gender stereotypes that permeate mainstream discourse on SGBV; the RLP questions the perpetuation of a male-perpetrator and female-victim paradigm, and the portrayal of SGBV as synonymous with violence against women and girls. Dismissing such approaches as one-sided, the RLP argues that failure to consider both men and women in approaches to "gender", especially in SGBV intervention and gender-equality programs, will only work to the detriment of male survivors, their families and their communities.




Journal of Contemporary African Studies, February 2002, 20, pp 203 (20)

Susan Dicklitch

Abstracted by Simon Madraru Amajuru

Dicklitch’s article discusses with clear quotations from various reputable sources how the “internationally” respected no-party movement system in Uganda has failed to develop into a rights-protective regime (one that strives to ensure basic rights for all, including rights to physical security, minimal economic security and political participation) and rights-respective society (that which has an active civil society to act as watch dog of the state and of itself). With a human rights approach, the author concludes that Uganda falls short of both a rights protective regime and a rights- respective society thereby undermining prospects for consolidating the transition to democracy that seemed to have started in 1990s. The British Colonial regime in Uganda planted seeds of divide and rule that bred the negative ethnic classes and hatred that is being experienced to-date. The civil wars and many military coups that have characterized the history of Uganda are results of the colonial legacy. The post colonial regimes did not reverse this sad situation but instead consolidated it. In the 1970s the military government of President Amin forced Asians to leave the country. The governments after Amin did not help as the country went into more chaos. The rebel National Resistance Movement (NRM) of Museveveni took state power in Uganda in January 1986 and introduced a new type of democracy based on a Ten-Point Program. The NRM democracy that is based on a “no party system” where politicians are elected into power based on their individual merit promised parliamentary democracy, popular democracy and decent living for every Ugandan. The NRM government was generally accepted in most parts of the country and donors supported its positive economic growth policies and its toleration of existing political parties that were inactive. It established a broad based government, where key opposition members were invited to join the NRM in 1986 but this was short lived because NRM started to consolidate its rule and blamed previous governments and political parties for the past political instability of Uganda.

In what the author calls “the stability-democracy trade-off”, the article discusses how the NRM has contributed to more political instability with massive killings and displacement of civilians as more rebel and terrorist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) and many others formed. The “alternative democratic” systems created from the village level to the district level have not performed to expectations of many people. The Local Council (LCs) structures that were created are controlled from above, lack resources and became corrupt. The movement government has become more intolerable as exemplified by cabinet reshuffles being used as mechanisms to punish cabinet ministers who oppose the views of the government and the President.

The article gave credit to the NRM for a better human rights record than the previous governments. They established democratic institutions like the Constitutional Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Inspector General of Government and the Electoral commission. However, the limited civil and political liberties, repression of society, foreign driven economic and development strategies that are poor unfriendly and the chronic problem of corruption have hindered their development into a rights- respective regime. The paper also identified the weak and fragmented civil society, divided political parties and lack of human rights consciousness as impediments to the development of a rights- respective society in Uganda . The NRM government became an economic success story to many donors, especially the World Bank and IMF when the government started to implement the Structural Adjustment Programs.




The New Yorker, Aug. 30, 2004 pp56-73 (17)

Samantha Power

Abstracted by Alexandra Nichols

“Dying in Darfur ” by Samantha Power provides us with an extensive and thorough look into the current situation in Darfur, Sudan. Through the use of interviews with both government and janjaweed members and local accounts by Arabs and Africans as well as a brief historical background analysis Samantha Power begins to show us just how inextricably complicated the situation in Sudan is. Power explores not only the current situation in Darfur and the events leading up to it, but also addresses the issue of relative silence from the international community as a whole. Power asks what can be done to put an end to the ongoing atrocities. She sets the stage for the reader by providing essential background information dating back to the 1990’s and US government involvement in Sudan. The Clinton administration led a rather confrontational approach involving sanctions, the withdrawal of the US Ambassador in 1996 and followed by a tomahawk missile attack. This was carried out due to Sudan’s role in harboring terrorists. The US government approach then took a turn with President Bush, who restarted the multilateral peace process talks. It is however important to note as Power points out the significance of the 1997 executive order barring US companies from operating in Sudan. The civil war might have to come to an end with peace having to prevail before the US could begin to tap its oil sources. Peace talks were therefore pursued with vigor in hopes of soon opening the oil market. As the situation began to look promising however, things took a turn for the worse and those groups not involved in the US backed peace talks rose up. In response southern Sudan began a bombing campaign in western Sudan, thus bringing the peace process to a standstill. Power then brings us back to the 1980’s and the root of tension between Arab and African Sudanese. We see here that this is in fact a very deeply rooted problem. With the recent uprising in 2003, the Sudanese military began its bombing campaign while using Arab militia men on the ground to combat insurgents. This only added fuel to a fire already there. Through interviews with Musa Hilala, the implicit coordinator of the janjaweed in Darfur (appointed by the government) and later Salah Abdellah Gosh, the head of the National Security and Intelligence Service Power demonstrates just how linked these two are. She also provides us with accounts by young men recruited for what they were told were “border-forces” to bring peace. Power shows us to what extent the janjaweed and Sudan’s government are not only so incredibly intertwined but how they have developed methods for deflecting criticism of the current situation while also attempting to hide evidence of the ongoing ethnic cleansing. The Sudanese government has gone so far as to try to pass off previously arrested criminals as janjaweed members. What has remained unclear however is what the governments’ agenda is for leading this campaign in Darfur and for arming and funding the janjaweed. Power draws on two theories to try and answer this question. One holds that the campaign is part of a larger plan to “Arabize” the region while the second theory holds that the Sudanese government (following the agreement in 2002 to grant secession to rebels in the South) could no longer afford to assuage another rebel group.

Nonetheless Power points to the fact that of even greater importance is that of getting the international community which has remained divided on the issue, more involved. What currently appears to be the most realistic route for peace keeper intervention is that coming from the African Union.




African Security Review, 2003, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 81-89(9)

Fitzgibbon, K.

Abstracted by Elizabeth Stands

Human trafficking, the exploitation in men, women and children for forced labor and sexual exploitation, is a major threat and challenge for Africa. Fitzgerald provides a concise and thorough account of the various kinds of trafficking, the reasons for its growth, and the impact of trafficking on individuals, families, societies and states, focusing particularly on West and Central Africa . Much of the research used to support her points comes from reports from the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO), and UNICEF. The author notes how some African customs inadvertently play a role in the proliferation of trafficking. The traditional practice of sending children to affluent homes to afford greater educational opportunities, the custom of traveling to distant locations to engage in seasonal labor, and the more recent trend in seeking a fortune in “the West” make it easier for traffickers to mislead children’s parents and coerce individuals into a trafficking scheme, relying on promises of a better future. Once entrapped by the traffickers, enforced debt, physical brutality (such as beatings and rape), and forms of imprisonment ensure that those trafficked will rarely escape. In West and Central Africa , the ILO estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked each for forced labor and sexual exploitation; West Africa is the most prevalent location for women trafficked to Europe for prostitution. Fitzgerald emphasizes how the population of marginalized individuals most vulnerable to traffickers is increasing due to civil unrest, natural disasters and armed conflicts. People fleeing these situations (namely, refugees), facing physical and economic insecurity, are highly susceptible to manipulative promises of financial success and outright abduction. Traffickers receive high profits and face minimal risk in being captured or prosecuted. Government militaries and rebel militias often benefit from trafficking in the form of bribes, child soldiers, and sex slaves. Thousands of trafficked Africans die every year through mishap, disease, abuse or murder. State actors whose role it is to combat trafficking often are constrained by a lack of political will to effectively address the situation, limited funding, and an absence of a coordinated effort by agencies and organizations with similar mandates. The author notes the international community’s complacency in permitting trafficking by failing to mobilize around the human rights violations of the trafficked or to prosecute traffickers of war crimes in war crimes tribunals. The effects of trafficking on West African nations are devastating. Fitzgerald describes the myriad impacts of trafficking, including the perpetuation of poverty and illiteracy; inhibiting the creation of a future, skilled work force; depressed wages and an inability to fully engage in the global market; failure of the state to demonstrate its authority or protect its citizens; and the loss of cultural knowledge and tradition as adults and children pulled out of their communities are unable to give or receive their heritage. Unfortunately, without serious political will and the mobilization of anti-trafficking actors, traffickers will continue to “victimize African men, women and children, depriving them of their basic human rights, depriving countries of critical human capital to compete in the global economy, and depriving all governments of the ability to establish law and order within their own borders.” (p.88)



Contemporary South Asia, 2010, vol. 18, no.1, pp 25-42.

Evans, Rosalind

Abstracted by Trishna Shah

In this article, Evans expounds on Baud and van Schendel’s approach of considering the perspectives and active roles played by people living in borderlands, in protecting their distinct cultural and social identities in the nation-state. It presents an overview of such a struggle by the Lhotshampas or ethnic Nepalese of Bhutan through their own perspectives and narratives.

Evans outlines the history of the migration of the Lhotshampas from Nepal and Darjeeling, to the southern border area of Bhutan from 1865-1930. As the Lhotshampas differed significantly from the native Bhutanese population or the Drukpas, they were isolated, treated as non-citizens, and overtaxed. During the 1940s and 1950s, the Lhotshampas appealed for their political and civil rights and the government made efforts to address their needs.

However in 1989, the Royal Bhutanese Government (RBG) adopted the policy of “one nation, one people” based on Driglam Namzha or the traditional Buddhist code of dress and etiquette, to homogenize the Bhutanese population and build a uniform national identity. In the article, the Lhotshampas’ narratives illustrate their struggle to resist the policy and preserve their own cultural customs and traditions. In turn, their resistance was perceived by the RBG as their ineptitude to identify with the native Bhutanese population, which posed a significant threat to the national integrity. This mistrust was further magnified when violent separatist movements gained momentum in India and Sikkim, and revolutionary organizations were also established in Bhutan. Refugee accounts reveal how the revolutionary organizations used brute force and intimidation to coerce the Lhotshampas into joining the revolution against the government. Thus, the Lhotshampas became embroiled in the conflict between the government and the revolutionary organizations.

Following several violent movements and unrest, an estimated 80,000 Lhotshampas were forcibly expelled or fled the country to settle in refugee camps in southeastern Nepal. Evans further highlights the social, economic, and psychological problems faced by these refugees as they lived in the camps for a protracted period of time, before they were granted third-country resettlements.



European Journal of Migration and Law 2003 volume 4, pp. 399-424.

Brouwer, Evelien

Abstracted by Shanae Becker

This article examines the measures implemented by the EU, France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands to combat terrorism and their effects on immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. The study was completed in June of 2002 and the main stream of thought throughout the article pinpoints that the terrorist attacks on American soil served as a catalyst for introducing new measures and legislation for internal security, and expanding upon existing ones in the EU and some of its member states. The article raises the issue of the extent of the discretionary power of states to determine security priorities, and the extent of protection for immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Brouwers’ analysis of the post 9/11 measures to combat terrorism brings to light the current predicament of international law after the September 11 attacks. She writes that at the EU level there are two competing goals; one is that refugees and asylum seekers should not become victims to these terrorist acts, and the other is that security issues for the member states of the EU may encroach upon the first goal. At the end of June 2002, at the EU level, there were meetings to determine the relationship between internal security and complying with international protection obligations. Specifically, these looked at the legal mechanisms for excluding persons that are suspected of terrorist acts from the protection of refugee status. New grounds for refusal were introduced in May 2002 that makes possible the rejection of a renewal of permanent residence, and also, in vague wording, persons may be removed from the current country on the basis of “grave reasons of public security”. The conclusion that Brouwers draws is that at the EU level changes in immigration and asylum policies were not made, but rather that cooperation amongst member states was of main importance. Further, the terms “terrorist” or “terrorist supporting activities” account for the variations in the measures taken by different states, as well as the attitudes towards “inclusion” before “exclusion” as it relates to national security priorities. Thus, the measures taken to combat terrorism that affected immigration, asylum seekers and refugees were largely at the national level, illustrating states decisions to focus on the expansion of internal security measures. Therefore, the relative inaction at the EU level towards immigration/asylum measures indicates the philosophical and moral dilemma underpinning the legal dimensions of the obligation to protect.





Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 1, February 2004, pp. 106-125

Afary, Janet

Abstracted by Lucy Meliksetian

This article is divided into three categories. First, it looks at the different measures taken by various countries in North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East in upholding human rights for women. Second, it examines the different legal reforms that have been undertaken by women’s rights activists, feminists, non-profit organizations, and grassroots networks. Lastly, it focuses on the various institutions and movements that are occurring in these regions to further promote and raise awareness of women and human rights. Currently, there are a number of countries within North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East that are still denying women their basic rights. Middle Eastern and Muslim women have suffered myriad types of human rights abuses since the 20th century. They have been constant victims of rape, sexual slavery, debt bondage, domestic violence, and had limited or no access to legal, political, or economic rights. In Kuwait for instance, although women are active in the education and employment sectors of society, they still have limited rights when it comes to marriage or divorce, they cannot pass their nationality on to their husband or their children, and they are still prohibited from voting. In Pakistan, domestic violence still abounds, with Human Rights Watch reporting very high levels of such abuse, including rape and so-called “honor killings”. However, human rights and its effects on women have not been violated or suppressed in all countries of these regions. In Jordan in 2001, the government repealed Article 340 of the Personal Code which shielded men who participated in honor killings. In Turkey, thanks to women’s rights advocates and public campaigns, the Civil Code was reformed which made men and women equal partners in marriage, gave women the right to divorce, raised the legal marriage age to 18, allowed single parents to adopt children, and gave inheritance rights to children born out of wedlock. Although there are still many human rights occurring against women, improvements are being made and public awareness of women and human rights are spreading throughout these regions.




Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005, pp. 35-61

Shadad, W., P.S. Van Koningsveld

Abstracted by Lucy Meliksetian

Debates over the headscarf, whether it is a religious requirement of Islam or symbolizing a form of oppression for women, have raged throughout Europe since the mid-1980s. Currently, three different views are held when discussing appropriate dress for women. The first viewpoint, favored by most scholars, holds that the entire female body, with the exception of the face and hands, should be covered at all times when in public. A second viewpoint, held by a small group of conservative scholars, believes that the entire body, including the face and hands, should be covered with the exception of the eyes or one eye. Lastly is a viewpoint, held by many liberals and feminists, rejecting the headscarf altogether, questioning the legitimacy of such a covering in today’s society. Since there are a number of opinions on what constitutes “proper” female attire or whether such attire has any relevance in present times, many countries within the European Union (EU) have had a difficult time reconciling their laws on the role of the state with the basic human right of freedom of religion. In addition to the varied opinions regarding the headscarf, stereotypes propagated by the media have given the headscarf a negative connotation, which sees the headscarf as: an expression of fundamentalism, an act of religious propaganda, an act of women’s oppression, and/or a sign of the unwillingness to integrate. Because of these debates and assumptions, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and independent judges in a number of EU countries have needed to step-in to help balance the fine line between state neutrality and religious freedom. For instance, in a 2001 ruling by the Court of Strasbourg, members of the judiciary ruled against a teacher of Turkish origin to be able to wear her headscarf during class because it might infringe upon her students and their parent’s feelings about their own religion, or lack thereof, in addition to it violating Switzerland’s policy of state neutrality. In The Netherlands, the local courts have ruled that, in terms of Muslim students being able to wear their headscarf in school, students are allowed to do so if attending a public school but religious private schools can determine their own policy on whether to allow it. Additionally, in Belgium, there is no central rule with respect to students and the wearing of the headscarf. The local courts have given schools the authority to decide on the matter. Because of the debates on what role religion should play in the public sphere, the European Union has allowed for sovereign states to handle the issue and has no central policy with regards to wearing of the headscarf.