This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Don Juan of Kharkiv

Male western sex tourists who have long plagued Ukraine are now capitalising on the disappearance of local men, who have been called up to fight. Globalisation combined with sexism has left Ukraine with soaring HIV infections and gender violence.

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

"It starts with us": Breaking one of Canada's best kept secrets

A coalition of women human rights defenders in Canada is demanding an end to state complicity, and a culture of impunity in the genocidal violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras

We're living in an undeclared war, staring into the eyes of death daily. People who don’t know the kind of insecurity women human rights defenders confront every day can’t imagine how hope helps us to survive.

Violence compared: rape in Turkey and India

There are striking similarities in the responses to rape and murder cases of women in India and Turkey: a predilection for punitive measures without addressing the root causes of violence.

When scarred female bodies demarcate the Indian subcontinent's polity

The Lightning Testimonies, an acclaimed feminist exhibition, comes to Assam, and its powerful images speak to the region's own legacies and women's often-sidelined stories.

Sex education in the UK: time for a far-reaching overhaul

Sex education in British schools is failing to educate children about consent and healthy relationships, or include LGBT issues and address harmful gender stereotypes. Do the government’s new plans go far enough?

The gender wars in Turkey: a litmus test of democracy?

The pent up fury and grief released by Özgecan Aslan’s attempted rape and gruesome murder reveal deep fault lines and simmering sources of disaffection in Turkish society.

Challenging Northern Ireland’s abortion law

The latest challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law is a very small step in the right direction, away from a post-conflict settlement in which women can be treated as secondary citizens. 

Lives of endurance: sanitizing crime against girls

How much longer will it take the global community to recognise the human dignity and worth of the girl child, and ensure the full enjoyment of her human rights and fundamental freedoms? 

Podemos and gender: nods and winks

Are the politics of Podemos as revolutionary as they claim, or are they just the same set of rules in a new format for yet another club for the boys?

CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders

We deserve that you put aside your ideological, political and religious differences and fully recognize and affirm the human rights of women and girls and gender justice. Nothing less. Lydia Alpizar speaking at the UN CSW

Movements, money and social change: how to advance women’s rights

At the UN CSW underway in New York, a statement signed by almost 1000 women’s rights organizations calls out the lack of ambition for the scale of the issues at stake, and for real resources and accountability.

Our bodies as battlegrounds

From Kyrgyzstan to Brazil and Sri Lanka, young feminists are trying to shift the debate over sexual and reproductive rights away from a focus on population control and the family unit, to the right of women to have bodily autonomy.

Domestic violence in Sri Lanka: the power of alternative discourse

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act has opened up an important and new discursive ‘space of struggle’ to debate patriarchal privilege, the sanctity of the family, and the ‘meaning’ of domestic violence in Sri Lanka

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.

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