Saturday, December 16, 2017


A Tribute to brave activist we have lost

 A Tribute  to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)  no longer with us

We bring into our collective memory and carry their legacy of struggle as our torch in feminist and women’s rights movements.
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Friday, December 15, 2017


Impaired fertility or infertility includes the difficulty or inability to get pregnant and/or carry a pregnancy to full term. It is difficult to determine exactly how many people experience impaired fertility. Overall there are more studies about male than female infertility due to the difficulty in finding the right endpoints and measurement techniques. The percentage of women in the US who have difficulty in achieving and maintaining pregnancy has increased between 1982 to 2002. 
The main increase over the last two decades is among women under the age of . There are various causes of impaired fertility. “A woman´s fertility depends on several body parts working together to produce and transport a healthy egg and nurture the developing foetus. Conception and foetal health also depend on the quality of the father´s sperm.” Disorders, which can impair fertility, include abnormal numbers of chromosomes in the eggs, menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovarian failure, and disorders associated with pregnancy, of which the three most common are miscarriage, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction. Studies have linked fertility problems to exposure to chemicals like DDT, DES, BPA, cigarette smoke and PCBs, and chlorinated hydrocarbons (includes PCBs, some pesticides, dioxins and furans), disinfection by-products, ethylene oxide, glycol ethers, heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, solvents, PFOS and PFOA, octylphenol and nonylphenol. These chemicals are linked to infertility directly or to various diseases which can lead to infertility among women. One example is endometriosis, a chronic disease where tissue, which lines the uterus, grows abnormally in other locations. This can cause infertility, inflammation and pain. Estimates for the incidence of endometriosis vary. Most of them find that between 10 and 15 per cent of reproductive-age women have endometriosis. Animal studies show a clear link between endometriosis and exposure to organochlorine compounds. A few studies link endometriosis in humans with dioxin, phthalates and PCBs.

 Male infertility is also influenced by chemical exposure. More information can be found in the WHO and UNEP “State of the Science Report on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals”, and in the ChemTrust report “Male reproductive health disorders and the potential role of exposure to environmental chemicals”.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lala Rukh artist, minimalist, activist and feminist

This is Lahore, 1982, and a group of fifteen jovial women pose for the camera – 1982: General Zia ul-Haq’s regime, i.e., the time when the anti-women laws were established. There’s laughter, there are smiles, there’s liberation; of like-mindedness but the salient feature of this photograph as I read is undying, maddening – power. The photograph was taken at the Women’s Action Forum, WAF’s national convention. The WAF which was in direct response to the inequity of the prevalent system went on relentlessly for its cause of justice for all the years to come – it nurtured women of substance from entrepreneurs and educationists to more…
Lala Rukh (center space/on the ground) with the short haircut that she has maintained till now and her pair of glasses, seems like the fulcrum of this group of confident ladies. She covers (almost) the entire foreground of the photograph, she chooses to be at the forefront. ..
The scope is endless and although the sense of horizon prevails because of the larger foreground I cannot differentiate between the sky and the sea, the clouds or the waves. They stand together and alone. Artist, minimalist, activist and feminist, Rukh has been infinitely true to her ideology. Her drawings and photographic works are simplistic in form yet the magnanimity is such that rivers within oceans stream on paper… “Rukh is the pioneer of photographic, minimalist tradition” Blackness is the environment of the work but lightness steps forward. Earlier director and founder of the National College of Arts MA Visual Arts department, cofounder All Pakistan Music Conference (1960), Women’s action forum 1981 and Vasl artists trust (2000), Rukh has been looking at horizons and impossibilities throughout her practice. She has done it with poise, like the ocean – there was noise only where it mattered. The visuals stretch beyond (I may say) even the mind’s eye. It’s a travelogue of ‘nothingness’, fulfilment and resurrection… Rukh’s surface is her medium, from acrylic and carbon paper, to photographic paper and serigraph print – there is no separation of form and content, structure and substance.
The artist’s observations as true to her imagery don’t hold tangible parameters. Her serigraph prints depict the ancient city’s water gardens at different times of the day. It is environment in its wholeness, through the gradient/shift of time. What is borrowed and what is left behind and how invisibility and visibility play games with each other – all is seen in the dawn and dusk Sigiria 11 prints where the ancient city’s water gardens are a constant through a day’s images.
Defying inequality has been her purpose – and so drawing a balance comes in. The visual titled mirror image is a 1997 work where two newsprints, equal images are pasted on graph paper. There’s parallel confrontation. Babri Mosque (destroyed in 1992 by Indian fundamentalists) and a Hindu temple (violently demolished in Pakistan as a response) are somewhere camouflaged in a permanent blackness. This is activism on paper.
The artist is a devotee of nature and has found meaning in particles, points and shapes….to oblivion and transcendence. Through her life, ‘less’ has been the supreme answer to more. Water knows which lines can take it to the sky…
Sound is the sublime of free space. From our ECG’s; the systematic ‘rhythm of the heart’ to waves of waves, from overlapping of shrieks to echoes in distance – Rukh has touched all in her visuals. Hieroglyphics IV and V take the square angled qat (one unit of measure) that is the beginning and cord of calligraphic writing, its form and size and compose it with the fixed rhythmic patterns of south Asian Raga on carbon paper. So in retrospect Lala Rukh’s deep-rooted affiliation with calligraphy and music is unified and hence taken to the point – where a visual begins to play its own music.

I was at this aftaar-meeting (in a local restaurant) yesterday with a group of artists/activists from a collective I’m a part of. I opened the menu and we laughed a bit at this section of drinks(normal juices) titled ‘Detox drinks’ and the tagline with it that promised a cleansed/detoxified body. ‘Detoxification’ is the latest and ‘in’ thing nowadays and strangely while sitting there I thought about this person/artist and the piece I was writing on her… I smirked in my mind. If we have to search for the antithesis of excess baggage and actual detoxification of character, Lala Rukh maybe the definition. A life that stands for what it stands – does what it does and carves, paints, draws the lines that make the real mark; where light becomes visible in-between all that is around it.
by Sehr Jalil Raja
All work images courtesy of Grey Noise Gallery.

Sehr Jalil Raja is a visual artist and writer based in Lahore (BFA, NCA 2006) and (MA HonsVisual Arts, NCA 2015), She is currently teaching at NCA and The City School.
“New Art from Pakistan Press « Thomas Erben Gallery – New York, NY.” Thomas Erben Gallery New York NY. 2010. Accessed June 20, 2015.
“Women’s Action Forum National Convention, Lahore 1982.” Connecting the Dots. November 17, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2015.
“The Painter and the Sea.” The Painter and the Sea. Accessed June 20, 2015.
“Pakistan.” The Stunning World of ‘s Minimalist Art. Accessed June 15, 2015.
“Nazreen Sansoni.” Nazreen Sansoni. Accessed June 27, 2015.
“Artist Gallery | GreyNoise.” Artist Gallery | GreyNoise. Accessed June 16, 2015.
“Lala Rukh, Sharjah Art Museum. Sharjah Biennial 12.” Lala Rukh, Sharjah Art Museum. Sharjah Biennial 12. Accessed June 27, 2015.
– See more at:

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Demands for achieving rural women’s RTFN.

1. Guarantee rural women producers’ access, control, management and ownership of all natural and productive resources on which they depend. 
2. Recognize and support rural women’s knowledge, culture, traditions and practices (in relation to agriculture, fisheries, forestry, livestock rearing and other food producing sectors) and their ecological understanding and sustainable practices should inform the management and conservation of resources. 
3. Guarantee and implement decent work for rural women workers based on existing international instruments in a non-discriminatory manner. 
4. Guarantee that systems are put in place to ensure that rural women who engage in domestic work are seen as significantly contributing to the economy and receive social security benefits. 
5. Recognize the “intertwined subjectivities” of woman and child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding framed through the lens of women’s rights throughout their lifespan – especially women’s and girls’ rights to SRHR. 
6. Introduce policies and laws that enable States to regulate and avoid any undue interference of for-profit or commercially-motivated non-state actors in rural women’s RTFN. 
7. Guarantee the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 
8. Guarantee an adequate legal framework for the realization of rural women’s fundamental rights and freedoms based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
 9. Ensure the independence and transparency of monitoring mechanisms in the context of the 2030 Agenda: these must be based on human rights, be free of any commercial or corporate undue influence and conflicts of interest, and ensure the full participation of the most affected by hunger and malnutrition, especially rural women. 
10. Ensure the full realization of the RTFN of rural women within the framework of food sovereignty.

The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Women’s rights have been historically isolated from the human RTFN within legally-binding language of key international human rights treaties

This structural isolation within human rights treaties has further aggravated the realities of rural women. Women are invisible in the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the women’s RTFN – beyond its limited link to the right to health – was omitted in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and both CEDAW and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) only gave mention to pregnant and lactating women’s nutritional status. This poor reflection of women’s RTFN in international treaties has contributed to the marginalization and exclusion of women from decision-making processes that affect their local food systems, with a particular impact on the social groups most affected by hunger and malnutrition, especially rural women and girls. This neglect and exclusion combined with a wide-spread lack of knowledge of international human rights frameworks that could support rural women’s claims result in women and girls being unaware of and unable to access the powerful tool that is human rights to hold those in power to account. As a result, governments fail to implement effective measures to protect and advance the RTFN of rural women and instead implement country-level economic and development plans that directly respond to the demands and orientation of the neoliberal global economy and governments and that violate the RTFN by enabling the grabbing of affected groups’ natural resources, discriminating against women small-scale food producers and their food systems.

The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Indigenous women and girls are most vulnerable and marginalized in many countries of the world, where they make up an important part of the rural population.

Progress on the rights of indigenous women and girls is central to the reduction of poverty, food security and nutrition, access to land and natural resources, and the protection of traditional knowledge, among others. While the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017, its implementation is lagging behind and today, indigenous communities continue to suffer higher rates of poverty, discriminatory support policies and health services. For example, breastfeeding rates are the lowest in First Nations communities in Canada, in aborigines’ communities in Australia or Maori communities in New Zealand. In isolated communities and on reserves, reproductive health services, prenatal, birthing, post-natal and breastfeeding supports are often not available, or not culturally adapted, let alone in local languages, requiring women to travel to urban centers, isolating pregnant women and new mothers from their families and communities at very vulnerable times in their lives.

 The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are central in women’s RTFN.

Rural women’s right to food and nutrition (RTFN)

 The gender dimension of poverty – 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls13 – and its interlinkages with food and nutrition security and SRHR cannot be dismissed.14 Discrimination against women results in all rural women facing difficulties in their ability to make informed decisions related to their SRHR and in their own nutrition and that of their children and families, with intergenerational and community-wide repercussions for the RTFN. These difficulties are particularly serious among rural girls and are exacerbated by interference from commercially-motivated non-state actors who introduce industrial/corporate diets that lead to non-communicable diseases, and push the corporate-driven narrative that emphasizes medicalized technical solutions to structural problems of a political, economic, and social nature.

 The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

The livelihoods of rural women producers are particularly under threat

Access to resources by rural women producers who depend on farming, fisheries, livestock rearing, gardening and the gathering of forest food often lack recognition and support by the State,7 the natural resources8 on which they depend are threatened by climate change, and land grabbing9 and other forms of natural resource grabbing severely undermine rural women’s food and nutrition security and food sovereignty. To make things worse, efforts that aim to respond to the degradation and over-exploitation of natural resources often ignore rural women’s roles and dependence on these resources for their livelihood.

 The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Rural women workers are employed in all sector of the rural economy, yet lack access to decent work

While rural workers are often denied access to even the most basic of rights covered in the ILO’s core conventions10, in particular to freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, the situation of rural women workers  is even more detrimental as rural women’s jobs are usually seasonal, part-time and low-wage.11 While the unequal division of care work12 is a result of the patriarchal norms and practices that discriminate against women, it continues to serve as the backbone of the formal economy without any of the needed social and legal protection systems in place that would enable rural women to adequately care and provide for their children, families and communities.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The global food economy has been both gender-blind and male-biased

Gendered threats to rural women’s RTFN are inextricably intertwined with the pervasive patriarchal norms and practices that discriminate against women and girls, as well as the current economic and development model, which is generally known to be rent-seeking, exploitative of people and natural resources, and highly growth-oriented.4 The current neoliberal trajectory of the global economy encourages an agribusiness-dominated food system, which views rural populations and their natural resources as production banks, results in rural-to-urban migration, and weakens the ability of States to hold third parties accountable for human rights violations within the economic sector.5 While women are involved in all aspects of production, processing and distribution of food, their voices have remained marginal in macroeconomic policy decisions in this area.6 Cuts in spending – particularly in the context of the global economic crisis – has further aggravated rural women’s access to food and increased gender inequalities as key services and social protections became and remain unavailable. While the formal adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks the beginning of a new phase of monitoring development as all countries work to translate the SDGs – including Goal 2 on Zero Hunger and Goal 5 on Gender Equality – into their respective national contexts, monitoring systems need to maintain human rights, the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition, and the effective participation of women directly affected at the center in order to overcome these threats to women’s RTFN.

 The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

Reinforcing rural women’s rights amid 2030 Agenda adoption

Gendered threats to rural women’s right to food and nutrition are inextricably intertwined with the pervasive patriarchal norms and practices that discriminate against women and girls, reads a civil society submission to the Commission on the Status of Women.

On the occasion of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, FIAN International, as Secretariat of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition (GNRTFN), together with another 25 organizations, submitted a written contribution on rural women’s right to food and nutrition.

The submission highlighted that gendered threats to rural women’s RTFN are inextricably intertwined with the pervasive patriarchal norms and practices that discriminate against women and girls. It also pointed to the current economic and development model, as it is generally known to be rent-seeking, exploitative of people and natural resources, and highly growth-oriented.

In particular, the submission focused on the threats to the livelihoods of rural women producers, the lack of access to decent work for rural women workers, and the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights for the full realization of women’s RTFN. It also looked into the precarious situation of indigenous women and girls, the historical isolation of the RTFN from women’s rights within legally-binding language of key international human rights treaties, and finished with key demands for achieving rural women’s RTFN.

The submission takes place in the context of the formal adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This marks the beginning of a new phase of monitoring development as all countries work to translate the SDGs – including Goal 2 on Zero Hunger and Goal 5 on Gender Equality – into their respective national contexts. At the same time, it offers an opportunity for civil society to remind States of the need to maintain human rights, as well as address the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition, and the effective participation of women in all monitoring.

1. Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)*
 2. Urgenci
3. Women’s UN Report Network (WURN) – The Tandem Project*
4. Society for International Development (SID)*
5. World Council of Churches (WCC)
6. Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA)*
7. Terra Nuova
8. YAC Nepal
 9. POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)
10. WhyHunger
11. Women Lanka Network in Sri Lanka
 12. El Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM), member of Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD) 13. Sindicato Andaluzo de Trabajadores/as (SAT) – member of La Via Campesina
14. ACTUAR - Association for Cooperation and Development
15. Biowatch South Africa
16. Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS)*
 17. CIDSE*
18. Programme on Women’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (PWESCR)*
19. ACTUAR - Association for Cooperation and Development
20. REALIMENTAR - Portuguese Civil Society Network for Food Security and Food Sovereignty  21. REDSAN-CPLP - Regional Civil Society Network for Food Security and Nutrition in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries
22. ICCO Cooperation
23. International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP)
24. Geneva Infant Feeding Association (GIFA)
25. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM)

 The present document is based, inter alia, on the joint FIAN International submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its General Discussion on Rural Women during its 56th Session in October 2013 and highlights the structural causes for violations of rural women’s right to food and nutrition and related human rights.
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Empowerment of Rural Girls

A vital prerequisite to global development is gender equality. Women’s empowerment begins with girls. Too often the deprivations and inequalities suffered by girls are accepted as their preparation for womanhood. The continuity of traditional inequities will make it impossible for girls and women to contribute to the fundamental changes needed for creating more equitable societies and sustainable development. In the case of rural communities in particular,  rural women will be instrumental as role models for girls of dynamic leadership to help remove gender-specific barriers in rural areas and villages.

Rural girls need to be included in decision-making at all levels, including at the level of the family, community, and in political processes. The experiences, perspectives and solutions that rural girls bring are unique, and governments have much to benefit from girls’ input when policies and programs affecting the wellbeing of societies are under consideration. Rural girls rely on the implementation of the SDGs to be able to flourish, as doors open to their education and empowerment. In addition, as has been repeatedly affirmed at the international level, the empowerment of girls has a ‘multiplier effect’—it results in exponential benefit to society as girls are able to contribute and make decisions that affect the social and economic prosperity of all. For example, the empowerment of rural girls leads to reduced chances of early marriage, greater likelihood of girls’ informed and active role in family planning, decreased infant and maternal mortality, and enhanced participation of girls in social, economic and political decision-making. These all contribute to the advancement of development processes. We must listen to the voices of girls, include them in our consultations, empower them, build their capacities and embolden them to play an active role in collective life.

“Girls: Breaking Barriers”
Statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women 2018 
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Girls: Breaking Barriers

The empowerment of all girls, including those in rural areas, is critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but extreme poverty, systemic inequalities, and discriminatory practices persist. Despite the commitments enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), among other laws, resolutions and statements on the empowerment and rights of the girl child, rural girls still face barriers to education, health, and safety. These barriers prevent them from breaking the cycle of poverty, fully enjoying their human rights, and contributing meaningfully to the achievement of the SDGs. The Working Group on Girls, a coalition of seventy non-governmental organizations, with strong grassroots engagement with girls in all regions of the world, urges the international community, including the United Nations and all Member States, to ensure that rural girls are not left behind, and that they are meaningfully engaged in policies that enable them to reach their full potential.

As the Secretary-General noted in his report on The Girl Child (A/72/218), Member States will need disaggregated data to review progress made towards commitments in Agenda 2030 and other treaties and resolutions, and to ensure that rural girls are included meaningfully in the implementation of the universal, integrated and indivisible development agenda.

“Girls: Breaking Barriers”
Statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women 2018 
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Extreme Poverty and Women

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Stop Sexual Harassment In the Workplace Campaign

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Responses to State Party Reasons for Non-compliance

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Monday, November 13, 2017

CEDAW and Muslim Family Laws

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

What are the core principles and provisions of CEDAW?

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

How does the CEDAW reporting process work?

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What are reservations to the Convention?

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Monday, November 6, 2017

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Who is involved in CEDAW

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Friday, November 3, 2017

What is the history of CEDAW

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists - 2 November

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

CEDAW and Muslim Famiy Laws

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Monday, October 30, 2017

The full cost of experiencing IPV, sexual violence, and stalking is unknown. 5/5

 One study estimates the cost of IPV to U.S. society, including health costs and productivity losses, to be $5.8 billion, including $4.2 billion for physical violence, $320 million for partner rape, and $342 million for partner stalking, in 1995 dollars.25 Converted to 2017 dollars, the cost of IPV in the United States would be $9.3 billion. Other researchers have calculated the costs of rape victims’ health care utilization and lost productivity, and societal costs of criminal justice system interventions using differing methodologies.26 No study provides a complete picture of the full cost of violence to victims, both in terms of direct and indirect costs across the lifespan. Furthermore, research on violence has seldom examined varying economic impacts by race or ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, or geographic location. Further research is necessary to ensure that practitioners and policymakers have a more complete understanding of the costs of abuse in order to provide appropriate responses and remedies so that survivors can break free, have a healthy recovery, and live full lives.
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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Debt and poor credit due to financial control and exploitation restricts access to safe housing and can lead to homelessness. 4/5

 Victims of IPV, sexual assault, and stalking often incur a number of other direct costs while seeking safety and rebuilding their lives. Using data from the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey’s Supplemental Victimization Survey, researchers found that three in 10 stalking victims accrued out-of-pocket costs, such as attorney fees, replacing or repairing damage to property, child care costs, moving expenses, or changing phone numbers—12.9 percent of victims incurred out-of-pocket costs exceeding $1,000.19 A Kentucky study of the economic costs of abuse experienced by protective order petitioners estimated that victims had incurred an average of $1,114 in property losses during the six months prior to obtaining an injunction.20

A survey of IPV survivors enrolled in the Allstate Moving Ahead financial literacy program found that nearly all survivors (99 percent) experience economic abuse, including financial control and exploitation, such as having their earnings taken or being given an allowance.21 Thirty-nine domestic violence service providers in New York State participated in a study on the costs economic abuse had on their clients; half of the providers reported that approximately one in four of their domestic violence clients were saddled with debt created by their abusive partner.22 Furthermore, nearly one-third of providers reported that at least 25 percent of clients were unable to open bank accounts or suffered poor credit as a result.

Victims of IPV who seek to break free from an abusive relationship are often faced with housing instability and homelessness due to high housing costs, economic insecurity, damaged credit, and poor tenant history. One analysis of the 2003 California Women’s Health Survey found that IPV was correlated with housing instability. Thirty percent of the 297 respondents who reported IPV experienced housing instability in the prior year.23 Another study of 110 victims receiving service from shelters, criminal justice agencies, and/or welfare programs in Georgia found that 38 percent reported homelessness after fleeing abuse, and 25 percent were forced to leave their homes due to financial problems or partner harassment.24
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Physical, psychological, and economic abuse often lead to job instability. 3/5

 A 2005 national telephone poll of 1,200 working adults found that 64 percent of those who identified as victims of domestic violence reported that their ability to work was affected by the violence.11 Constant distraction and fear of abuser’s intrusions at work make it difficult for victims to concentrate and perform their job duties.12 Nearly all (96 percent) of 120 employed women IPV survivors surveyed by the Maine Department of Labor indicated that abuse affected their performance and productivity, including being constantly harassed at work, delayed getting to work, or prevented from going to work (Figure 1). As a result, 60 percent of victims in the study reported having either quit their job or being terminated as a result of the abuse.13

Analysis of NVAWS data found that victims of IPV who were stalked lost an average of 10.1 days of paid work per year, those who were raped lost an average of 8.1 days per year, and those who experienced physical violence lost 7.2 days per year.14 Another study analyzing the obstacles impacting the number of hours worked by welfare recipients in Michigan found that experiencing IPV was associated with significantly fewer hours worked per year—victims reported working more than 10 percent fewer hours annually than nonabused women.15

Reduced work hours and lower educational attainment lead to significant income losses for those experiencing IPV. Interviews of female participants in Pennsylvania’s Work First Program in 1998 and 2001 found that women who reported increased abuse when they started their job worked fewer weeks and had lower wages. Women who experienced work-related control, abuse, and sabotage faced an 88 cent per hour “wage penalty” compared with those who had not.16 When comparing wages in the 2000 NYS, authors found that adolescents who experienced physical or sexual assault earned more than one dollar less per hour than their peers; between 50 and 71 percent of these effects can be attributed to lower educational attainment and occupational status as a result of experiencing violence.17 Expected lifetime income losses for adolescent victims of sexual violence was $36,000 in 2000 dollars, in 2017 this would equate to $52,242.18
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Physical and psychological trauma and partner interference impede educational attainment 2/5

 One analysis of seven waves of data collected between 1976 and 1987 from the National Youth Survey (NYS) of adolescents 11–17 years old showed that having experienced victimization as an adolescent was associated with a decline in effort put into schoolwork and poorer academic performance, even when controlling for income and other factors.6 Data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey that measures the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to leading causes of death and disability among high school students, showed that students who experienced dating and sexual violence were more likely to skip school due to safety concerns than their peers.7 The Campus Sexual Assault Study, a web-based survey from over 6,800 undergraduate students on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault on college campuses, found that in response to sexual violence, victims often avoided or tried to avoid the assailant, dropped a class, moved their residence, or sought counseling.8

Using survey data from 498 single mothers who received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits in Michigan, researchers found that women who experienced IPV during adolescence obtained, on average, 0.5 fewer years of education than those who did not experience violence.9 Experiencing violence as an adult can also deter victims from continuing their education through job training. A 1998 study of 122 welfare recipients in western Pennsylvania enrolled in job training found that partner violence increased the likelihood of dropping out of the program. Psychological abuse in particular had a significant impact on whether enrollees completed their training—individuals who were told that “working women are bad mothers” were five times more likely to leave their program than women who did not receive this message.10 A 2016 survey of five job training programs in the greater Cincinnati region found that 30 percent of participants reported experiencing IPV. Participants reported that abusive partners frequently discouraged their enrollment in workforce development programs, some of whom reported experiencing physical violence to prevent them from participating (Partners for a Competitive Workforce 2016).
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Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Economic Cost of Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking 1/5

Intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault, and stalking have profound economic effects on victims and survivors. The physical aspects of violence often result in significant medical costs and time off from work. The long-term psychological consequences may hinder victims’ ability to study or hold a job; in some cases, perpetrators directly sabotage their victims’ employment. Economic abuse, which can take a range of forms—including preventing access to financial resources and generating unauthorized debt—can leave victims facing economic insecurity and poor credit. Seeking safety is often financially prohibitive, reducing a victim’s ability to leave the abuser and recover.

This fact sheet summarizes findings from research literature on the economic consequences and costs of IPV, sexual assault, and stalking for victims and survivors. The costs highlighted include medical expenditures, lower wages resulting from diminished educational attainment, lost wages from missed work and job loss, debt and poor credit, and costs associated with housing instability. 
 IPV assault, rape, and psychological abuse increase health care utilization, resulting in high out-of-pocket costs and medical debt.
 Assault, sexual violence, and psychological abuse can result in a range of physical and mental health needs, which produce costs both in the immediate aftermath of violence and over the lifespan. Analysis of the 1995-1996 National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) revealed that 41.5 percent of IPV assaults resulted in physical injury, 28.1 percent of which led to medical treatment, and approximately 28 percent of those who experienced physical assaults, rape, and stalking by an intimate partner received some type of mental health counseling.1 

Compared with their nonabused peers, victims of IPV are at higher risk of health problems, including gynecological dysfunction (such as pelvic pain), sexually transmitted infections, gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.2 These health consequences often continue long after the abuse has ended.3 Analysis of a randomized phone survey of 3,333 women aged 18-64 and enrolled in an insurance plan in the Pacific Northwest found that health care costs for those experiencing abuse were 42 percent higher than the costs for nonabused women. Women who were abused five or more years prior to the survey still faced costs that were 19 percent higher than their nonabused counterparts.4

Using data from the NVAWS, the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), and Medicare 5% Sample Beneficiary Standard Analytic Files, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) estimated that the mean cost of medical care for those who sought treatment after a physical assault by an intimate partner was $2,665 per incident, or $4,273 in 2017 dollars. Of those seeking mental health services, the mean cost was $1,017 per incident ($1,631 in 2017 dollars).5 The mean per incident cost of treatment for IPV victims of rape was $2,084 for medical care and $978 for mental health care ($3,342 and $1,568, in 2017 dollars, respectively). Mental health costs for IPV stalking victims seeking treatment was $690, or $1,106 in 2017 dollars. 

The Injury Center study also found that IPV victims experiencing physical violence paid 28.6 percent of medical costs and 32.0 percent of mental health costs out of pocket; IPV rape victims paid 29.2 percent of medical costs and 33.6 percent of mental health costs out of pocket; and IPV victims experiencing stalking paid 32.0 percent of mental health costs out of pocket.
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Friday, October 20, 2017

13 Subtle Ways Women Are Treated Differently At Work

How can you fight an enemy you can't see? That's the challenge professional women face in today's workplace.
"Discrimination today is not as in your face as it was before; it's often harder to see," says Caryl Rivers, coauthor of recent book "The New Soft War On Women." "Legally, you cant say 'I'm not going to hire you or give you this assignment because you're a woman and you can't do it,' but the old attitudes still run deep and are expressed subtly."

Both men and women hold these views but often don't even realize it. "It's hard to fight this," says Rivers, but awareness is key.

Here are 13 subtle ways women are still treated differently at work.

If women are assertive, it can be seen as aggressive. "It's a Catch-22," says Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of new book "The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match." "Whatever women do at work, they have to do it nicely. But the more you back off, the more they don't take you seriously." Women have to walk a thin line between being too nice and too forceful.

When women are successful, they're often called "bitchy" and seen as less likable. In one well-known 2003 study, business students were given two identical resumes, one using the name Heidi and the other Howard. "Howard was judged as terrifically competent, but Heidi was judged as bitchy," says Rivers. When the experiment was repeated 10 years later, the woman was found to be slightly more likable but less trustworthy than the man.

Women are more likely to get lower initial offers. In another study using identical resumes, female scientists were offered a starting salary of $26,500, and men were offered $30,200. "Hiring managers will offer a slightly lower salary because they think they can get away with it," says Rhodes. And because women are often so grateful to get the position, she says they are less likely to negotiate the offer, which compounds and perpetuates the cycle of lower pay.

Women are less likely to get credit in group projects. When men and women work together, the men are more likely to get the credit — even if she did the bulk of the work and he's junior, says Rivers. It may be a combination of men being assumed more competent and women not actively taking credit for their work. "Women undersell themselves, and people undersell women," adds Rhodes.

Women are assumed to be incompetent until they prove themselves. As Linda Hudson, former CEO of security and defense company BAE Systems, recently told the authors of "The Confidence Code": "I think the environment is such that even in the position I am now, everyone's first impression is that I'm not qualified to do the job. When a man walks into a room, they're assumed to be competent until they prove otherwise." Women, however, are automatically assumed to be incompetent.

Women get promoted on performance, and men get promoted on potential. Research shows that women must prove that they are capable of succeeding in a role before they are promoted into it, whereas men may be promoted on their perceived potential. That means men often move up faster in organizations. "When a men walks in the door, he gets the benefit of male stereotypes," says Rivers.

Talkative men are seen as competent, and talkative women as incompetent. A study comparing the volubility of powerful men and women found that male leaders talk more — and with good reason. When men and women talked the same amount, she was seen as significantly less competent and less suited to leadership.

When women show anger, they are often judged as too emotional. Research shows that both men and women think women should be nice and kind and nurturing, says Rivers, and that men should be strong. When men show anger it looks like strength, but when women do the same, they are perceived as too emotional and out of control. "These stereotypes are deeply ingrained," she says.

Men get a fatherhood bonus, and women a motherhood penalty. While employers believe men will put more effort into succeeding at work once they become fathers, they believe women will direct more effort towards their kids. "The minute women become mothers, the attitude towards them changes," Rivers says. "When women become mothers, they suffer financially. Women make significantly less over a lifetime."

Women are often interrupted or ignored in meetings. Especially when there are only one or two women around the table, their voices can easily go unheard. Rhodes says it's very common that others may interrupt them, finish their sentences, or not give them the focus and subtle encouragement to continue. More frustrating is when a woman offers her idea, and no one responds. Then, a few minutes later, a man in the room presents the same idea, and only then is it heard and received well. When Beth Brooke, global vice chair at Ernst & Young, experienced this at a board meeting, she pulled the leader aside to mention it, and he hadn't even noticed that it happened.

When speaking in public, women have to take command of a room. Women presenters at male-dominated events have a harder time getting the attention of the room, says Rhodes. For example, one of her clients, a woman in her late 20s who works for a financial company, says when she stands up to give a presentation, she can't get the guys to settle down. "Women don't command that kind of attention," she says. "They have to take control."

Women may not be invited to social events. Getting together to drink, watch the game, or play sports is typically how social bonds are formed at the office and when valuable information, like who's position might be opening up or how to get in the graces of a certain boss, is shared. When women aren't included in these events, says Rhodes, it can marginalize them and limit their knowledge.

Women are judged more harshly on their appearance. In a major survey conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation and detailed in the book "Executive Presence," senior executives listed twice as many appearance blunders committed by women than men. Additionally, women were judged more harshly. For example, a woman might be seen as lacking leadership skills if she's overweight, while a man receives the same judgment if obese.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

7 unique challenges homeless women face — and what you can do to help

Uncertainty, struggle and stigma are just some of the threads that knit together the shared experiences of the homeless community.
But for women who are homeless, there are several unique challenges only they know: What it's like to have a period without access to supplies. What it's like to monitor your behavior due to fear of sexual assault. What it's like to be pregnant and not have the services you desperately need.
Although many of us think homelessness is rare, living without access to stable housing is more common than you think. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 1 in 194 people in the U.S. will experience homelessness at some point over a year-long period.
Women and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
As of 2015, there were about 565,000 homeless people living in the United States on any given night. It’s estimated that women comprise a little under 40% of that population. But that number may shift. Women and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with 85% of homeless families headed by single women.
Though homelessness is not only a women’s issue, there are some issues only homeless women have to navigate, which deserve our attention and action.
Here are seven unique challenges homeless women face..

1. Access to menstruation products is often limited.
For homeless women, coping with menstruation is a monthly challenge — and often a nightmare. The majority of shelters aren’t allocated governmental funds to put toward period products, and pads and tampons often rank low on the financial list of priorities for homeless women.
Anyone with a period knows products are costly, with a box of tampon or pads costing around $5 to $10, plus tax. Even in public restrooms, a pad or tampon, which can be used for around 8 hours at most, will set you back at least 25 cents. Over the course of a week-long cycle, that money adds up — and fast.
Many homeless women say the cost is unmanageable, often using ripped pieces of cloth or toilet paper instead of sanitary napkins or tampons, risking infection.

2. Access to comprehensive maternal health care can be difficult.
Research has shown the rate of unintended pregnancies among homeless women is much higher than that of the general population — and complications in birth are far more common for homeless women and their babies. Notably, homeless women are almost three times more likely to have a preterm delivery than housed women, often leading to costly health complications for their infants.
For any woman, the path to motherhood is often an expensive one, full of doctor’s appointments, medication and high-priced products for infants. Though there are services where homeless, expectant mothers can get free care, many put off accessing services out of fear of losing their newborn to child protection agencies, or because they are under-informed about which particular services exist.
Aside from the care, the system is often overwhelmed, leading many to believe homeless women are receiving care of a lower quality.

3. Homelessness only exacerbates the burden of childcare on women.
Women often carry the burden of childcare — and homelessness certainly doesn’t change that. With the overwhelming majority of homeless families headed by women, there’s pressure on women to create a more stable housing situation for not only themselves, but their children. If they don’t, many fear their children will be taken away from them by the state.
But homeless women, especially mothers of young children not yet in school, have to juggle the need of working to save up money and caring for their children. It’s a balance that’s complicated — if not impossible — to obtain, which is why support services dedicated to women and children are essential.

4. 1 in 4 women consider domestic violence to be the main factor in their current homelessness.
For many women, the immediate impacts of domestic violence are a major contributor to unstable housing. It’s estimated that about 63% of the sheltered homeless population are survivors of domestic violence, with 1 in 4 homeless women reporting domestic violence the main factor in their current homelessness.
Women, especially stay-at-home mothers who are out of the workforce and rely on their abusive partners financially, are especially at risk for unstable housing after leaving an abusive relationship. Notably, some women, fearing homelessness, stay in dangerous relationships to avoid the hardships of unstable housing.

5. Being homeless often means decreased personal safety for women.
Homeless women don’t only have to deal with financial stresses, but they also have to deal with concerns for their personal safety. Not having a home often means sleeping in shelters, many of which are male-dominated, given that the majority of homeless populations are male.
Many women report they have felt unsafe in shelters, or are survivors of gendered trauma stemming from stays in shelters. And life on the streets, especially in major cities, doesn't provide more safety by any means.
Homeless women have shared harrowing accounts of being sexually assaulted in showers at general intake shelters, and avoiding public restrooms late at night in fear of harassment or abuse. Women also rarely panhandle, often fearing doing so will make them a target for gender-based crime and violence.

6. Homeless women are living with mental illness at much higher rates than the general population.
About 1 in 4 of all homeless people live with a severe mental illness, which often goes untreated given low availability of mental health resources to low-income populations.
In the U.S., 47% of homeless women meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder alone, which is twice the rate of women in the general population. High rates of violence and assault toward homeless women also contribute to mental health disparities, with trauma often left unaddressed.
With mental health both underserved and stigmatized in the general population, it’s no surprise homeless women have an especially hard time accessing care.

7. Gender inequality in jobs makes escaping homelessness even more difficult.
From the gender pay gap to sexism in the workplace, gender inequality in jobs is not a new conversation. Although gender inequality in the workplace impacts all women, the way it impacts homeless women is rarely talked about.
The financial hardship associated with homelessness is a burden often only lifted by stable income, which usually means stable employment. But more than half of all homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma, meaning programs that help homeless women gain job skills or more education are essential.
By Katie Dupere - April 13, 2016

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Costing the Economic Impact of Violence against Women in the Arab Region

Beirut, Lebanon - UN Women; The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); the Swedish Institute in Alexandria; and the Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) have joined hands to launch the outcome of the first phase of a project on “Estimating the Cost of the Economic Impact of Violence against Women in the Arab Region”. The two-phased regional project aims to support Arab States in estimating the costs of violence against women (VAW)and using such costings as an instrument for policy reform and advocacy.

Taking place in Beirut, the event brings together concerned top officials in the Arab governments, namely ministers of women's affairs; heads of national institutions for the advancement of women, as well as representatives of the Arab and foreign diplomatic corps, the United Nations agencies and civil society organizations, with a special appearance by Tunisian Actor Dhafer L'Abidine and Media Personality Ricardo Karam.

The project produced a report on the status of violence, as well as an operational model to estimate the cost of violence as a key priority for Arab States, based on the recognition that VAW is a critical human rights violation that has negative multiplier effects on the rights of women, economic growth, public health and societal wellbeing. This model is based on a review of available methodologies and regional specificities to cost VAW in the Arab region. It accounts for the direct and indirect tangible costs of marital violence, including the total household cost, the total cost of service provision (at the community-level, and total cost to businesses.

Recognizing that despite most Arab states having ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), progress at policy level remains slow and uneven across the region, the report also provides an overview of the policy context of VAW and sets forth recommendations targeted at State Institutions, UN and other International Organizations, and Civil Society Organizations.

“For UN Women, this project is incredibly important as a tool in our programming to drive policy development. When policymakers understand both the economic and social burdens of a problem, and the cost savings that can be generated by strategies designed to address the problem, the likelihood of endorsing a policy addressing the issue is expedited.” says Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director for Arab States, UN Women.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim comments that the project is the product of continuous work carried out by ESCWA and its partners over the past two years to provide an economic model for calculating the cost of violence against women in line with the needs of the region. He emphasized that the model not only helps decision-makers to know the economic consequences of violence against women and their effects on the national economy, but also supports the comprehensive reform process against the phenomenon. This is in full conformity with international obligations that require States to protect women from violence and punish those who cause harm.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Emily Nasrallah: The “peasant woman” who wrote about her land and won the heart of the world

“I am a peasant woman, the daughter of villagers” says the writer Emily Nasrallah about herself. This modesty and connection to the land is one of the most evident traits one notices upon sitting down to talk with Nasrallah. But she might also point out to a cupboard, all full of books that she has authored—books that have impacted readers in Lebanon, and that have touched people from around the world. On August 28, 2017, Nasrallah will receive the Goethe Medal for a remarkable body of work, in different genres, from novels to short stories, from poetry to autobiographical prose. And it is this expansive and remarkable oeuvre and her position on women’s and human rights that makes one understand why Goethe would award Nasrallah with this honor— along with feminist publisher Urvashi Butalia from India, and historian Irina Shcherbakova, from Russia.

I am a Story

Speaking about her German readers, Nasrallah says that they regularly ask about her personal life, because as she states, “I am a story. We are from simple village and my family are peasants; I lived my childhood working in the fields with my family, planting, and harvesting olives and grapes.”

Nasrallah was born in 1931 in the village of Kfeir in South Lebanon. “I put an effort into continuing my education,” she says. She attended Kfeir’s public school, and that meant that she had to repeat the third grade three times—for the simple reason that the school did not offer any classes after that level. When her family could not pay for her education, she wrote a letter to her uncle in the U.S., asking him to pay her school fees, which he did. Nasrallah thus became the first girl in her village to leave home to live and study outside the village. She attended the elite “International School of Choueifat,” (also known as the Charles Saad school). To save money for her university education, she began working as a journalist, in the women’s magazine, Sawt al Mar’a (Voice of the Woman), and in the political magazine, Al Sayyad, and as a teacher. And indeed, she was able to finish her university years with a degree in education.

She spent seventeen years working at Al Sayyad Magazine. After marriage, she left teaching, but she stayed in journalism, and she also dedicated time for her family. She continued to write fiction and non-fiction. She would find the time to write when she was done taking care of her house and family—with the help of someone who helped her with housework; and when she was working on a novel, she would designate specific times to write. She also talks about the tremendous support of her husband, who would always tell her “You are free, you do what you want, you write what you want,” and he always encouraged her to write better. “Now he has passed away six years ago, after 55 years together,” she says. Nasrallah has four children, and she would proudly talk about them and their accomplishments.

Writing Is an Act of Love

Nasrallah describes writing as an act of love. Her love of language and stories may have started with her grandmother, who would sit her on her lap and tell her stories— “she was the first storyteller,” Nasrallah says. But the author also credits one of her maternal uncles, who initially lived in the U.S, but was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and came to live with them when she was little. It was this uncle who gave the author her first taste for writing, asking her to write things, and to describe “who is this house for?” “who is this tree for?”
Before she turned six—which was the age that her school would permit her to enroll, she would hide under the window to listen to what the teacher was saying. Her mother would ask the teacher for her daughter to sit in class—“as long as you disappear when the inspector comes,” she laughs.

But it was the deep sadness she felt when her siblings immigrated that she wrote her first novel, Birds of September, published in 1962. She remembers how the pages were soaked with tears when she finished writing. Nasrallah would explore themes of immigration, war, women’s rights, and social issues in her novels, short stories, and personal writings. And she would write for a wide audience that included adults and children. In What Happened to Zeeko, Nasrallah channeled the perspective of her daughter’s cat, Zeeko, and its life with the family, until their house was bombed in 1982. In Flight Against Time, she wrote about an older couple from the village who travel to Canada and New York, and experience alienation from the language and the way of life, and a different relationship between people, and to the land and environment. In Min Hasad al Ayyam-- or From the Harvest of the Days, a collection of articles in three parts, Nasrallah reflects on a multitude of social and cultural issues, from violence against women, to women poets and politicians, her village, life in Beirut and its artistic perseverance, to immigration, among other topics.

Yet it is her writing about immigration that she is most known for. And it is something she recognizes as well: “It is something I lived through… and I wrote a lot of novels all against immigration,” she explains, as she quotes her grandmother: this is “the land that does not hold its people.”

I Stood by Women

Although Nasrallah does not identify as a feminist herself, she states that “no doubt in my writings I have stood by the woman to save her from some of the suffering she had experienced in our society.” Calling attention to the discrimination women face, starting from within the family, she declares, “I wanted women to be equal to men… I lived, I grew from a peasant woman in the fields to elite schools, and I saw that women can advance” when they have opportunities. Nasrallah explains that she does not preach to women, because women know themselves and their areas of work, but she stands against injustice. And she acknowledges that her love of justice, of women’s and human rights, is something that she has inherited from her family—to value every person, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, and the work that they do.


It is no doubt that Nasrallah’s work has made an impact, as her books are widely read around the world, and they are taught in many schools in Lebanon. But she also has a strong connection to her German readers, a mutual admiration that started in the 1980s and continues to this day. She believes that German readers have been very interested in her writings. And she keeps in touch with them through the seminars that she attends, but they also attend discussions and talks in Lebanon, she explains, through committees that organize “cultural tourism,” and people always visit her and inquire about how she wrote her books. They are interested in stories about women, and in her personal story.
And so it is that this willful and generous woman from the village of South Lebanon, with a deep love of the land and a strong sense of responsibility and justice, is now being honored by the Goethe Institute. She is grateful for the Medal, although as she states, she does not work for the reward, but for the love of writing: “Just as a rooster has to crow,” she says smilingly, “so we have to write.”

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