JASS Blog Archives for January 2010

by Ana Luisa Ahern on January 27, 2010 on 4:14 pm

Pepe Lobo was inaugurated as the new president of Honduras today. After the inauguration, ousted president Mel Zelaya left Honduras with a "salvo conducto" pass from the new government. Although the Resistance opposed it, the new congress voted yesterday to grant amnesty to everyone involved with the military coup that took place on June 28th, 2009. Amnesty, however, does not extend to those who committed human rights violations during the oppressive coup regime, including the myriad violations against women that occurred, but as of yet there are no plans in place to persecute these criminals. 

Feminists in Resistance joined the greater resistance movement in a march to the airport to bid farewell to the ousted president. The massive group of protesters gathered at the end of the runway of Toncontin airport, the scene of a bloody conflict between protesters and the military on July 5th, 2009. Energy and spirits were high among the Feminists in Resistance, who chanted anti-coup slogans and shouted for women's rights and pro-democracy to be upheld by the new regime, and for justice to prevail. "The coup leaders and perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions, especially for the violence against women and human rights defenders that went on with impunity these past several months. No more coups, no more violence against women!" said a protester. Today marks a closing point for many and the mood was one of exuberance tinged with sadness and disappointment as the democratically elected president of Honduras leaves the country.

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by Patience Mandishona on January 21, 2010 on 9:22 am

Cabinet debates homosexuality draft law


By Barbara Among

THE Cabinet has debated the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill now before parliament and agreed to amend it.

In a heated meeting yesterday, chaired by the second deputy Prime Minister, Henry Kajura, the Cabinet formed a committee which will deliberate on the matter before reaching a final position on the highly contested legislation.

The committee, to be chaired by local government minister Adolf Mwesige, will come up with a proposal that will be forwarded to the legal, parliamentary, presidential and foreign affairs committees.

“It was a heated debate for over two hours. Those who expressed reservations fear the cutting of aid by western governments,” said a source who preferred anonymity.

“Those for it argued that we need to maintain our independence and values as a country,” the source added.

There were 21 Cabinet members in the meeting.

While broadly supported domestically, the 2009 anti-homosexuality Bill has caused a tempest abroad and anxiety from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda’s budget.

Those opposed to the Bill say it is discriminatory and violates human rights.

Breaking his silence on the proposed bill drawn by David Bahati, a member of the ruling NRM party, President Yoweri Museveni last week said it had become a “foreign policy issue” and needed further consultation before being voted on in parliament.

The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, said: “We took note of very strong feelings which both sides of the debate have expressed.”

Asked about the Cabinet’s position on clauses proposing a death penalty, Buturo said: “I can only speak in general that there are some clauses or provisions which can be modified.”

“There is a need to have a second look at some of the issues which have been raised by the international community and some Ugandans.”

Sources said the Cabinet was divided on the clause spelling out the death penalty. After failing to agree on a position, works minister John Nasasira reportedly proposed that the Bill be delayed. His position was rejected, sources disclosed.

“Once they have got a position, we will dialogue with the committees,” Buturo explained.

“The cabinet, however, reaffirmed the obvious, that the Bill itself is a private member’s Bill. That it’s not the property of the executive,” Buturo added.

He further disclosed that the meeting resolved not to withdraw the Bill from parliament, being a private member’s Bill. The meeting also agreed to uphold “traditional family values”, which they said was the spirit of the Bill.

The Cabinet also discussed how to proceed following the political pressure that has come with the proposed Bill.

The United Kingdom, Sweden, the United States and other countries have expressed strong concerns about the proposed law.

Bahati, who was asked to make his case before the Cabinet on Wednesday, declined to discuss details of the meeting but said “the process of legislating based on our values as a country moves on.”

The proposed law would impose the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality. Homosexuality was outlawed in Uganda by the 1950 penal code and 1995 Constitution.

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by JASS on January 20, 2010 on 4:47 pm

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. Estimates of the death toll currently exceed 200,000, and approximately one million Haitians have been displaced from their homes.

As a result of the gender inequality that permeates nearly all societies, natural disasters often have a disproportionately negative impact on women. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, women have less access to resources and are less likely to be involved in the decision-making processes critical to effective disaster preparedness, mitigation, and relief and recovery efforts. Furthermore, women’s gender-specific needs often receive short shrift in emergency relief planning, and numerous studies have found that the incidence of sexual and domestic violence often rises following natural disasters.

Women in Haiti suffer extremely high levels of poverty and discrimination, both of which will be greatly exacerbated by the effects of the earthquake. Furthermore, considering that 43% of Haitian heads of household are women, and that women are overwhelmingly responsible for housekeeping and childrearing, it is Haiti’s women who will be responsible for the survival of their families, of caring for and protecting their children in makeshift shelters, and of the reconstruction of their homes and communities.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, call upon all heads of state, the United Nations, and other multilateral agencies providing aid to the people of Haiti to prioritize aid for women, and to guarantee that aid reaches women and their families directly. One way in which this can be accomplished is to support civil society organizations working directly with Haitian women.

Likewise, we call upon Haiti’s government to ensure that humanitarian aid is distributed in an equitable manner, and in such a way that competition for aid does not increase women’s marginalization and gender-based violence.

Women are critical to reconstruction efforts following natural disasters. Governments and other donors must help ensure that Haitian women have access to the resources required to rebuild their families, their communities, and their country, and that their human rights are respected.

~ Las Petateras

If you would like to unite with us in calling on the U.N. and world leaders to prioritize aid for Haitian women in the wake of the earthquake. Please send your name and other information to maggie@justassociates.org.

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