March 9, 2005
Written by C.N.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day and as reported by Yahoo News, violence against women was the most significant topic of protest in several countries:
Asia has marked International Women’s Day with rallies and protests against a wide range of gender inequalities and acts of violence, although there were some celebrations for hard-won victories. In Bangladesh, where hundreds of women continue to be disfigured each year from acid attacks, victims were due to converge on the capital of Dhaka to call for greater government efforts to stop the brutal practice. Nearly 2,000 women in Bangladesh have had acid thrown on them since 1999, according to the Acid Survivors’ Foundation, with their attackers most often men who have had their advances rejected. . .
The United Nations-mandated Women’s Day was being marked in Pakistan by a similar battle to end “honour crimes.” In the central city of Multan, high-profile gang rape victim Mukhtiar Mai led a rally of several hundred women on the eve of Women’s Day, less than a week after a court controversially acquitted her alleged attackers. . .
In the Philippines, the decades-old campaign for justice by women who were forced into sexual slavery at the hands of Japanese World War II occupation forces, was again a rallying cry on Women’s Day. Twenty elderly women who say they were sex slaves staged a protest at the Japanese embassy because they were “still bereft of justice and recognition by the Japanese and Philippine governments,” women’s group Kaisa Ka said.
However it was not all bleak news for Asia’s women on Tuesday. In South Korea, women’s groups staged plays, dances and exhibitions to mark a victory for gender equality — the abolition of a century-old family registration. The National Assembly last week voted to abolish by 2008 the “hojuje” system under which children take the family name of their natural father. Women’s groups say the system adds to the stigma of divorce and discriminated against children of divorced women.
Events were also decidedly more upbeat in the modern city-state of Singapore, where the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations was due to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner on Tuesday night. Aside from raising money for traditional causes such as charities and women’s support groups, the council will for the first time also support a sporting cause — a planned all-women Mt Everest climbing expedition for 2008.
It’s nice to see Asian women at the forefront of activism to achieve gender equality. As with many issues of social justice, it looks like it’s going to be two steps forward, one step back in terms of improving the status and rights of women around the world.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "International Women’s Day" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/03/international-womens-day/> ().
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