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A Day of Action: Activists "Wake-Up" the World on Sexuality and Human Rights

Written By: Kelly Castagnaro
November 23, 2009

 

Earlier this month, we wrote about “One Day, One Struggle,” in which hundreds of activists joined forces to take a stand for sexual and reproductive rights in Muslim societies.  Our colleagues in Turkey, Women for Women’s Human Rights- New Ways sent us highlights from the public demonstrations held by over 20 organizations in 11 countries:

In Istanbul’s Taksim Square, women’s rights and LGBTT organizations organized a street performance against sexual violence, discrimination and stigma.

Advocates protest "unjust provocation"

The performances protested the sentence reductions given by courts to perpetrators of violence against  women and members of the LGBTT community.  By unjustly applying  Article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code, judges have granted murder defendants reduced sentences if they were “unjustly provoked” by a woman’s short skirt or the refusal of their wives to have sex.   

 Women Against Violence(WAV) organized a series of events to bring public and media attention to honor killings, which have taken the lives of 112 women in the past 23 years in Palestine.  WAV carried out a public outreach and awareness raising campaign which ended with simultaneous public demonstrations and candlelight vigils in  in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva.  In addition to a media campaign and public demonstrations, Women Against Violence screened Maria’s Cave, a documentary film by Palestinian director Buthayna Khouri focusing on honor killings, which drew hundreds of men and women.

To strengthen the bond among the LGBTT community and initiate a dialogue around sexuality, Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) hosted an event entitled “Jaago”, or “wake-up.”  Met with enthusiasm by both LGBTT and heterosexual participants, the successful event, the first organized by BoB, also  A sexual rights advocate speaks out at Jaagofeatured a screening and discussion of Torch Song Trilogy

“One Day, One Struggle” was a milestone event in the struggle for sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies.  The courageous advocates gathered in university campuses in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon and the Sudan; at press conferences in Cyprus, Egypt and Malaysia;  in conference and concert halls in Tunisia and Pakistan and on the streets of Turkey and Palestine  have underlined the fact that sexuality is not a private issue, but rather, the site of a political struggle

Ultimately, securing human rights must be done at the country level, and most importantly, but women and advocates for sexual rights empowering themselves.  These are the advocates in whom we must invest in, in whom we must all rely. 

Pictured above: advocates protest “unjust provocation”; a sexual rights advocate speaks out at Jaago. Photos courtesy of Women for Women’s Human Rights. Find out more about the organizations involved in One Day, One Struggle here.

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