This week's editor

Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Women living with HIV: a matter of safety and respect

Last month the results of a global survey on women living with HIV were published. The survey was designed and conducted by women, and commissioned by the World Health Organisation. Will the findings be acted upon? 

Roast or toast? Mapping changes in violent men

Recognising that we have reached a stalemate in dealing with violent men, and an impasse in policy and research on perpetrator programmes, there is fresh interest in whether men can be engaged in a process of change.

Ched Evans: football in the eye of a perfect storm

This feels like the first time that sex and violence, football, capitalism and democracy have crashed into each other in a perfect storm. Has the Ched Evans debacle not only shamed UK football, but changed it?

Laurie Penny on Unspeakable Things

Laurie Penny’s latest book ‘Unspeakable Things’ touches upon the unspeakable: “how sex and money and power police our dreams”, and why we need a mutiny against the social, economic and sexual counter-revolution.

HIV: witnessing the realisation of raw human rights

Fear of HIV disclosure and subsequent violent reactions are experienced globally. We know that rights-based approaches can create resilience and hope. So where is the political courage and will to make them happen?

British democracy and women's right to live free from violence

As the general election approaches in May 2015, women's organisations in the UK have issued the Women's Safety Manifesto. Politicians ignore it at their peril when it comes to the vote.

Sexualized violence in Iraq: how to understand and fight it

Sexualised and gender-based violence in Iraq, highlighted in recent weeks in relation to ISIS atrocities, has been at the heart of sectarian and authoritarian politics and developments since 2003. How can we talk about it and mobilise against it?

"It takes broken bones": authoritarianism and violence against women in Hungary

Right-wing discourse in Hungarian politics is matched by the government’s regressive handling of gender issues, as structural violence against the socially marginalised interplays with violence against women.

Responding to sexual abuse in the UK: class, race and culture

The failure of police to take seriously the young victims of sexual abuse in Rotherham who reported the crime, reveals the way in which who is and isn't taken seriously ties in with who is and isn't deemed worthless in Britain.

What will it take to end violence against women in the UK?

A decade on from the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, progressive policy, laws and attitudes are being undermined by draconian cuts to legal aid which are drastically reducing access to legislation put in place to protect women against violence.

Changing the behaviour of male perpetrators of domestic violence

Domestic violence shows no sign of abating. There is growing recognition that working with male perpetrators - alongside intervention and protection for women - is essential to reducing the violence that kills two women every week.

Masculine violence: call of duty, or call for change?

The much-hyped launch of a new gun-shooting video game this month reveals the thread of gender linking socially-endorsed militarism to criminal sexual assault. Where are the social programmes that would address the reshaping of masculinity?

The Handmaid's Tale of El Salvador

Poverty, misogyny, and Christian fundamentalism in El Salvador lie behind the prison sentences of up to forty years handed down to seventeen women who were arrested for the crime of abortion, but sentenced for murder.

The right to walk alone without fear

The Reclaim the Night marches through night-time city centres tap into a righteous and rising anger, and are a way to highlight that women have a human right to live free from the threat or reality of male violence.

Reeva Steenkamp: justice?

At the core of a global pandemic of violence against women rage two defining features of patriarchy: male privilege and male violence. Ché Ramsden argues that we must dig deeper to dismantle the culture(s) which make it acceptable to hate women.

A choir of lost voices: the murder of Loretta Saunders and Canada's missing women

The murder of Loretta Saunders, a young scholar who researched missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, reveals the structural violence that compounds violence against women, and the stinging injustice of Canada’s 825 lost Aboriginal women. 

Abortion: Ireland's reckoning with Amendment 8

Calling for an end to a constitution that bans abortion - and kills women, a deep and broad based movement has sprung up in Ireland to change the constitution, and finally release women's bodies from church and state.

State racism and sexism in post-war Sri Lanka

Central to the resurgence of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in post-war Sri Lanka is a redefinition of gender role and identities. Familial ideology is a key pillar of this discourse with serious adverse implications for women and gender equality

The right to feel safe in public: addressing the root cause of sexual harassment

A new poll reveals that 19% of women in London have been physically abused and 32% have been verbally harassed on public transport. The behaviour of perpetrators should be tackled, rather than the freedom of women curtailed. It's time to involve women in designing safe transport.

Frozen progress: beyond the egg-freezing debate

Behind the headlines of Silicon Valley companies offering female employees the chance to freeze their eggs lie more fundamental unresolved questions of gender in the workplace – and the role of work in our lives.

It's time for feminists to Get In, not Lean In.

The practice of patriarchy as a form of social governance has brought us to the brink of a planet crisis. The current model is bankrupt. In the run up to the UK general election in 2015, Finn Mackay urges feminists to engage in all forms of political participation.

A safe space to reclaim ‘normal’

When a distorted ‘normal’ oppresses our daily lives and experiences, Ché Ramsden says that feminist conferences like Feminism in London 2014 are not only useful for education and discussion, planning and strengthening activism, but are excellent forms of respite from mainstream misogyny.

Avoidable injustices: the way to prevent violence against women

We want to end violence against women, but is it really preventable? New research from Uganda adds scientific muscle to the political argument that we can, if we transform the gender power relations that sustain it.

The Fall: extreme violence as a distorted mirror of post-conflict Belfast

The most watched drama on the BBC for 20 years,The Fall, is about a serial killer in Belfast who murders and 'poses' his women victims in the nude. Is the violence gratuitous, or does it capture the current post-conflict mood and mindset of Belfast?

Confronting Ebola in Liberia: the gendered realities

In Liberia 75% of those who have been infected or killed from Ebola are women. Last month, a rapid assessment and gender analysis of the outbreak concluded that a gendered perspective on prevention, care, and post admission care is imperative.

Human trafficking: from outrage to action

If we are to have any chance of addressing trafficking, we should work towards the elimination of labour recruitment fees; advocate for a global minimum wage; and look at ways of criminalizing the knowing or reckless use of the services of a victim of trafficking.

The common factor: sexual violence and the Egyptian state, 2011-2014

We must conceptualise the epidemic levels of sexual violence in post-revolutionary Egypt at least partly as “state violence”, and resist the state’s attempt to selectively appropriate women’s rights. Every post-revolutionary Egyptian regime has the blood of women on its hands.

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era

While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas - secular feminists from Iran and Algeria - told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London.

Abortion rights: victory for women in Spain

As the political analysts get into their stride over the Spanish Government's decision to back down over mediaeval reforms to the current abortion law, citing everything from conspiracy theories to a feminist victory, the Catholic Church has taken a beating and is busy churning out hate messages.

A once in a lifetime chance to protect the world's girls

Every day, we see more headlines documenting the severe rights abuses girls suffer. The primary cause of death for girls age 15-19 is now suicide. As UN leaders open the debate on the next frontier of global development, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect the human rights of girls.

"What can a woman do?" Gender norms in a Nigerian university

Are universities necessarily transformative spaces for women students? Research at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, raises critical questions around how conservative gender norms are replicated by young students, in particular in the burgeoning culture of religious student organisations.

The body of Colombian women is a battleground

A catalogue of sexual violence has accompanied the armed conflict in Colombia. The peace talks must not brush it under the carpet.

"We will not be beaten"

It's twenty years since the US Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act which right-wing conservatives targeted as subversive, but which helped ignite a global movement against all kinds of violence against women and girls.

Facing up to bitter truths: Rotherham child sex exploitation cases

The scale and severity of the child sex exploitation crimes in Rotherham warrants a constructive response which is more concerned with truth than evading blame, and with empathy rather than insularity, says Tehmina Kazi

Out of the shadows: facing up to violence against women

Violence against women is always under-recorded, usually under-recognised and often spuriously justified by "culture" or "tradition". A new convention seeks a step change in Europe.

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