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Sisters doing it in the Middle East

11 June 2005

This week I've happened on a few articles about women in the Middle East that are worth sharing. I wish more of it were good news. But I definitely get the feeling things are getting shook up a little. Call me an optimist. There is still a long way to go.

First, the news of Iranian women busting into a stadium in Tehran for a pre-qualification game for the World Cup in spite of a stupid ban on women attending sporting events in Iran. Keep an eye on Iran Scan 1384 for more about the role of women in their upcoming election.

Second, a brave Saudi legislator, Mohamed al-Zolfa put forward a proposal on lifting the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia. If you can't chain women's legs, at least you can chain their wheels. The proposal has not been welcomed by the men in power.

Then there was this article from Egypt about several hundreds of men and women coming together to protest a sexual assault that happened on a small group of women in plain, daylight view of the police. "Overnight we have become national symbols," said one of the women, a lawyer, who was "groped" in the attack.

Finally, depressing news about the dangers women still face in Afghanistan. A female television host of a popular music programme was shot in her own home after receiving numerous death threats. And this woman's "shelter" in Kabul reportedly beats women if they try to escape. Check out Amnesty International's new report on the systemic failure to protect women in Afghanistan.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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