Equality Now's 2005 Annual Report
Thursday, June 8, 2006 12:30 PM

Equality Now, an organization committed to ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women, has released its 2005 Report. The report details the organization’s work over the last year, highlighting victories that have been won and calling attention to obstacles still pending for women around the world.

The report applauds the repeal of an Ethiopian law that absolved a man from criminal responsibility for abduction and rape, provided he married the woman or girl afterwards. Another victory was won in Kuwait in 2005 where women were finally granted the right to vote. In Africa, a new Protocol addressing women’s rights was added alongside the African Charter. The protocol assures the right to abortion for women who are victims of rape or incest, or whose health will be endangered by childbirth. It includes a legal prohibition to female genital mutilation as well as delineating economic and social welfare rights for African women. Seventeen countries had ratified this protocol by the end of 2005.

Support was also expressed for several international efforts initiated in 2005 with regard to women’s rights. Notable examples include the creation of the International Women’s Commission which is comprised of Israeli, Palestinian, and international women and aims to ensure women’s role in the Israel/Palestine peace process; the UK-launched international meeting on women’s role in the media; and the United Nation’s renewed commitment to addressing laws around the world which discriminate against women.

Despite such hard-won successes and promising new beginnings, an immense amount of work is ahead in the fight for gender equality. The report calls attention to the Hudood Ordinances in Pakistan which not only absolve male perpetrators in cases of rape but attempt to blame and punish the victim of the assault. The discriminatory culture from which these ordinances arise also provides justification for honor killings. In Mexico, only scant attention has been paid to the vast number of rapes, abductions, and killings of women in Ciudad Juárez. Equality Now calls on the Mexican government to actively investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The report also focuses on sex trafficking and female genital mutilation as two issues of immense importance and advocates for the eradication of both. In regard to trafficking, the report notes that it is important to avoid drawing strict boundaries between women who are forced into sex work and women who “choose” it, pointing out that the poverty and lack of education that mark many women’s lives are coercive in themselves. Equality Now calls for all sex exploitation to be abolished.  The report also highlights Equality Now’s campaign to end female genital mutilation, a practice that causes extreme physical and psychological problems in women and young girls. The report advocates for the adoption of laws banning the practice in countries where it is still allowed, and calls on governments to be strict enforcers where laws already exist.

Compiled from: "Take a Stand, Make a Difference: Annual Report 2005," Equality Now, accessed 2 June 2006. (PDF, 32 pages).