This week's editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Analysing Aaronovitch: a sceptical narrative

Prosecution and conviction rates for sexual crime are lamentably low in the UK. If David Aaronovitch cares about 'genuine abuse', why isn't this what worries him more? Part Two.

Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?

David Aaronovitch claims ‘unbelievable’ notions about child abuse that ‘bewitched’ professionals decades ago are echoed in the VIP historic abuse cases. Where is his evidence? Part One.

Conflict widows: agents of change and peacebuilding

The rise of religious fundamentalism and conflict is diminishing widows to the status of a chattel. Their key role as sole supporters of families must be prioritised in negotiations for conflict prevention and resolution.

Abortion in Chile: addressing the false debate of "pro-life vs pro-death"

Chile is one of only four countries in the world that prohibits all abortion, but for the first time in 25 years a law on therapeutic abortion is being seriously considered.

A window into women’s experiences in Kosovo

Isa Qosja’s latest film ‘Three Windows and a Hanging’ sensitively explores the taboo subject of the aftermath of war rape in Kosovo

Nepal's earthquake: grassroots women as first responders

Networks of Nepali grassroots women are reconstituting protective guards against increased violence against women, and have compiled core guidelines for relief workers to ensure the particular needs of women and girls are met.

World disarmament? Start by disarming masculinity

Massive world military spending is driven by the profit motive of the arms industry and politicians’ weaponized notion of ‘security’. But women peace activists also hold militarized masculinity to account.

There are more of us who want peace than want the killing to continue

The ‘utopian’ slur against peacemakers is defeatist propaganda for pro-war, pro-militarisation and securitisation interests and the military-industrial complex. Marion Bowman reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

A new narrative on human rights, security and prosperity

It’s up to us to ‘reframe the narrative’ of development, to move beyond the historic thrust of capital and war and to say no impunity for the murder of Indigenous women. Jennifer Allsopp reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

Speaking truth to power at the UN

"This may be the last time our voice is heard here…" excerpt from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Statement to the UN‘s Conference on Disarmament. WILPF's centeranry conference opens today in the Hague.

Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security

It feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of 'safety'  that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. Marion Bowman reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

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.

Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”

Sabeen Mahmud alleviated intellectual poverty until the day she was murdered, 24 April 2015. In an interview with Karima Bennoune in 2010 Mahmud explained why she founded a politico-cultural space in Karachi.

Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers

The profile of today’s front line activist is different to that of the freedom fighter of old. We need to see her in her wholeness. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Mairead Maguire: breaking the silence on Palestine

Palestinian women human rights defenders and peace makers, in resisting the injustices being perpetrated upon their people, deserve our support and we must each do what we can to break the silence.

A tribute to Joan Kagezi: the murder of a human rights defender

Joan Kagezi was a lead prosecutor in high profile cases in Uganda, including against a former LRA commander and those accused of terrorism. She was shot dead in front of her children last month.

Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge

Women human rights defenders are under attack. The Nobel Women's Initiative conference convenes today to deepen the understanding of the risks, and to develop strategies to strengthen efforts to defend the defenders.

Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice

In 1915 a thousand women met in the Hague to demand an end to war. A thousand women are doing so again this week. It is time the women were heard and their vision shared.

At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders

Every small act that stands up to patriarchy or to inequality, whether it is asking to go to school, or refusing to marry the man her father chooses, is an act of women's human rights defense.

Women human rights defenders: protecting each other

With the continued failure of the UN to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders twenty years after it was passed, women human rights defenders are still their own best support and protection network.   

"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.

Why we need a feminist foreign policy to stop war

Feminist foreign policy is au courant, but what does it mean in practice? Foreign policy informed by feminist analysis must confront masculine hegemonies in state military-industrial complexes that fuel and fund conflicts.

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.

Debating the long and the short-term view of sexual violence in war

Sexualized violence is an issue of security.  It is also an issue of women’s equality and rights. It's imperative that we use the traction generated by UN Security Council resolutions to move forward.

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.

"I am one of those foreigners": living with HIV in the UK

HIV is easily treatable with pills. But there are no pills for stigma. Stigma grows on the ignorance behind the statement by UKIP's leader Nigel Farage. There is no substance behind his words.

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.

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.

Farkhunda paid for Afghanistan's culture of impunity

How can we interpret the lynching of Farkhunda by an angry mob in the heart of Kabul city? What are its implications for the future of Afghanistan?

Building "a new Turkey": gender politics and the future of democracy

Can Turkey's government eschew gender equality, demonise the country's dynamic women's movement, and still prevent gender-based violence? Can a party that rejects gender equality be a force for democratisation?

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? 

Disposable Girls

The fight to protect the world's girls, whether from sexual exploitation or abduction, is not about saving individuals. It is about profound structural change in the hierarchical power relations of patriarchy.

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

The "best time to be born female": the worst to be a feminist advocate

Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - a pivotal moment in the women’s human rights movement - governments are arguably less able to serve as torch-bearers than celebrities, philanthropists and popular icons.

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