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This week’s editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

‘We won’t give up’: 25 years of feminist resistance to the war on women’s bodies in Poland

In 1993, the Polish government took away our right to abortion – starting a war on women’s bodies which continues to this day.

A tribute to the fearless Laura Lee: freedom fighter for sex workers’ rights, and my friend

Laura Lee died on 7 February 2018. She was a leading activist who campaigned fearlessly for the decriminalisation of sex work in the UK.

Can Sierra Leone’s female secret societies be allies in the fight against female genital mutilation?

FGM is a deeply-rooted and widespread practice in the country. Can its locally-powerful practitioners help curtail it?

Evangelicals in South Africa are 'broadcasting hate masked as morality'

Christian right groups are adding to an already dangerous environment for women and LGBTQI individuals, by pushing 'family values'  but not for everyone.

Mexico City is an island in a sea of anti-abortion states – and the right to choose is threatened here too

Anti-choice activists are increasingly active in Mexico’s capital city, strategically targeting and “inciting fear” in women accessing services that were decriminalised a decade ago. Español, RU

Has Trump’s White House ‘resurrected’ Army of God anti-abortion extremists?

Christian extremism as a motivator for violence is often overlooked, while clinics providing abortion services are facing growing threats.

How Italian women are organising against ‘obstetric violence’

This gender-based violence, perpetrated by health workers, is widespread In Italy. A recent survey said it impacts one in five mothers.

How UK anti-abortion activists use American tactics to shock and shame women

50 years after the 1967 Abortion Act, the anti-abortion movement is consolidating – with transatlantic support.

Students hit the road to fight street harassment in Kuala Lumpur – in pictures

On a global day of action for sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, Malaysian students stood against harassment in public spaces.

“Mum, I am into kink”: why it’s so hard to talk to parents about sex

Talking about cunnilingus with parents may sound like a type of medieval torture. But we pay for silence in lost pleasure – and health risks.

Tracking the backlash: why we're investigating the 'anti-rights' opposition

Growing and globalising networks of conservative and fundamentalist groups are pushing back against our sexual and reproductive rights. Help us investigate.

How anti-abortion extremists are exploiting #BlackLivesMatter to vilify African-American women

Fighting anti-choice campaigns requires more than a gendered approach – reproductive justice demands direct anti-racist work too.

On the warpath: the young women leading Ireland’s campaign against abortion

Next year Ireland will hold a referendum on its controversial eighth amendment. Articulate, millennial “pro-life feminists” are leading the charge against reproductive rights.

Osunality: sex lessons from Africa

There’s what you think you know about sex in Africa. And then there are sensual and beautiful aspects of African sexuality and the African erotic.

“It’s so taboo but we want it so damn bad”: introducing 50.50 columnists Tiffany Mugo and Claudia Torrisi

These 50.50 authors will delight and challenge us with monthly comment and analysis about sexuality in Africa, and reportage on intersecting forms of oppression in Italy.

Reproductive rights on the move: refugee women in Greece struggle to access contraception

Half of female asylum-seekers in Europe are aged 18-34. With little control over their environments, how can they retain control over their bodies?

"They are coming for your children" – the rise of CitizenGo

The right-wing campaigning platform has coordinated mass online petitions – and offline actions. Its reach is growing, alarming human rights advocates. Español

The future of sex in Africa

Stigma and growing religious fundamentalism are preventing women from fully accessing a range of reproductive health services.

Coitus and conversation: the digital realm is taking sex to new levels

What is the future of sex? Forget robots and tech-enabled fornication. There is progressive potential in the digital world to engender healthier sexual practices.

Abortire in Italia: come l'obiezione di coscienza è diventata una minaccia per i diritti e la salute delle donne

Quasi 40 anni dopo la legalizzazione dell'aborto – tra proteste e movimenti di liberazione culturale – le donne faticano ancora ad accedere ai servizi essenziali. Read this article in English.

Abortion in Italy: how widespread 'conscientious objection' threatens women’s health and rights

Almost 40 years after abortion was legalised – amid mass protests and a broader cultural liberation movement – women still struggle to access crucial services. Leggi questo articolo in italiano.

Re-branding hate?: ultra-conservative organising under a "family-friendly" banner

Diverse groups are joining international “pro-family” alliances. Their common cause? To block and roll back feminist and sexual rights gains.

Sexual rights: off-limits for Indian women with disabilities?

Women with disabilities in India face routine violence, coercion and control over their sexual choices that would not be tolerated by non-disabled women.

How do we fight anti-rights fundamentalism at the United Nations?

An extract from the first report of a new initiative tracks how fundamentalist groups have embraced the UN as a site to foster conservative social change.

Monsters, jealousy and “sick love” — how the Italian media covers violence against women

Statistics give partial pictures of gender-based violence in Italy – but the language used to cover such violence can be even more misleading.

Older women living with HIV in the UK: discrimination and broken confidentiality

Women accessing HIV care services in the UK report being told to use separate cutlery, being refused help to shower, and having visitors being told by care workers not to associate with them.

'Faith and family': shrinking common ground at the UN CSW

The Worldwide Organization for Women took a hard line against all forms of comprehensive sexual education, often provided by UN bodies, highlighting ideological differences within the CSW.

Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW

The language of sexual orientation and gender identity remains absent from the draft conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women, despite progress made by LBTI advocates.

Feminist pacifism or passive-ism?

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. In the face of increasing femicide, sexual violence and rape culture, we need to confront the question of women’s self-defence.

Out of the box: Megan Prescott on Skins, bodybuilding and busting gender roles

Megan Prescott discusses her experiences of gender inequality, public scrutiny and subverting stereotypes as a young actress, writer and competitive bodybuilder.

India's female genital mutilation: a thousand-year-old secret

So little was known, until recently, about the secretive practice of FGM in a small  Muslim community that India is not even on the UN’s list of FGM countries.

Under Trump, we are all women

The same strategies used against women for decades by the Christian right and the anti-abortion movement are now, under Donald Trump's presidency, being turned on the American people as a whole.

A jail, not a shelter: women’s refuges in India

On the tenth anniversary of a major law dealing with domestic violence in India, we explore how the poor quality of refuge provision impacts on women’s choices. (Part 2 of a three-part series.)

Is the Indian law on domestic violence fit for purpose?

In the first of this three part series, we examine the effectiveness of one of the major planks of the domestic violence law in India: the post of Protection Officers.

Sex work: not prohibited, not permitted

Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers is validated. Cross-movement collaboration on decriminalizing sex work is needed, now, more than ever.

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