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Summary Trials Have No Place In Afghan Laws: Behrooz Jahanya

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government

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Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse.
Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse. VOA

Human rights organizations have voiced “grave concerns” over the rise in summary court convictions in Afghanistan after a video of one such trial was posted on social media last week.

In the video, which was filmed outside the capital, Kabul, a group of four men and a woman were convicted of adultery by men who called themselves “mujahidin,” a title the Taliban always uses to identify its fighters.

The men in the video, who appeared to have been beaten up, confessed to having been involved in the act of adultery, an offense that carries severe punishments under both Afghan and Islamic Sharia law, if proved.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said summary court convictions are grave sources of concern, “especially when it happens in areas under the control of the Afghan government.”

Afghanistan March 2009
Afghanistan March 2009, Flickr

“Lashing, beheading, killing and stoning are among the verdicts of the summary court trials conducted in Afghanistan,” Bilal Sidiqi, Afghan AIHRC spokesperson, told VOA.

During the past three months, AIHRC has recorded at least three cases of summary court convictions, while the number of such incidents reached eight last year.

Hinder justice

United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the conduct of such trials and criticized what it called “traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms.”

Responding to a VOA query, UNAMA stated: “The handling of criminal cases outside Afghanistan’s court system can hinder justice and the realization of human rights. Afghanistan’s laws and penal code do not include any legal provision allowing for the mediation of criminal cases. Traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms should not be used in criminal cases to replace the existing legal framework or court adjudication processes of the government of Afghanistan.”

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government for failing to prosecute the perpetrators.

Poster-Stop terorrism
Poster-Stop terorrism, Pixabay

“We call on the Afghan government to take serious measures to prevent such inhumane incidents,” Siddiqi said.

The Afghan government is striving to expand its control all over the country’s territories so everyone has access to the justice system, the Afghan presidential palace told VOA.

“The acts [summary trials] carried out by the Taliban and other terrorist groups against the people are criminal offenses,” Afghan presidential spokesperson Shah Hussain Murtazawi told VOA.

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are being widely accused of conducting summary trials in the country.

Also read:Taliban Ghani peace offer

“We have recorded a number of summary convictions in restive areas and frequently the areas under Taliban control. Efforts were made to investigate and prosecute those who conduct summary trials,” Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan interior minister, told VOA.

Against the law

Summary court convictions by the Taliban and other radical groups contradict the Afghan constitution and Islamic law, said Behrooz Jahanyar, a Kabul-based lawyer.

“What the Taliban is doing is absolutely against the Islamic law. Summary trials have no place in Afghan laws, either. No one can be convicted or punished without going through all court proceedings and access to appeal in a higher court,” Jahanyar told VOA.

Members of civil society organizations in Afghanistan allege that the issue of summary trials is more severe than it appears to be.

“Summary trials are conducted more in remote and hard-to-reach areas, where fear of retaliation prevents people from reporting such incidents,” Kabul-based civil activist Abdul Wodood Pedram, told VOA.

Although the authenticity of the videos posted on social media cannot be confirmed, disturbing footage is being posted periodically by militant groups in Afghanistan of women being stoned and beaten with batons, men being slashed, and Afghan soldiers captured by militants being shot to death. (VOA)

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“Jazz: The Music of Freedom, Human Rights and Liberation”, According to UNESCO

April 30 is marked as the International Jazz Day

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International Jass Day is coming up. Pixabay

Terming Jazz “the music of freedom, human rights and liberation”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has given a call to turn to jazz now more than ever; to get closer to one another on this ninth International Jazz Day, marked on April 30.

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 and recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30, to celebrate jazz and highlight its role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. International Jazz Day has become a global movement, reaching billions of people annually.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual International Jazz Day global celebration and the event’s flagship Global Concert, initially scheduled to take place in South Africa’s Cape Town will take place online. This will also be the case with the many other events planned around the world for the day.

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Herbie Hancock will be hosting the Global Concert this year. Wikimedia Commons

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue Herbie Hancock, is the host of the Global Concert this year, which features artists from across the globe, and will be streamed live on the Organisation’s site. Artists scheduled to perform at the concert include John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Alune Wade, John Beasley, Ben Williams, Lizz Wright, John Scofield, Igor Butman, Evgeny Pobozhiy, Youn Sun Nah, A Bu, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Joey DeFrancesco, among others.

Closer home, the popularity of jazz seems to be growing in India, as does its active listenership and practice.

NCR-based The Piano Man Jazz Club founder and Fulbright music scholar Arjun Sagar Gupta believes that Jazz, like another other form of art and culture, needs exposure to grow and gain popularity.

“The last five-six years has seen a renewed push towards the promotion of jazz in India, which is creating an ever increasing base of patrons and lovers of theart form. We hope that in the years to come this continues to grow, spurred on by more and more artists performing the music and more people supporting and listening to it,” Gupta told IANSlife.

During the lockdown, The Piano Man is also live streaming an online six-artiste concert to mark the occasion. Featured artistes are Bhavya Raj, Vatsal Bakhda, Manta Sidhu, Tatyana Shandrakova, Arjun Sagar Gupta and Elena Friedrich. “Jazz, for me, is at a point in India, where it is growing and we have people who want to explore this art form, both as musicians and as listeners,” Bakhda said.

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Jazz as a genre has been in the spotlight, thanks to endorsements by music’s biggest stars like Kendrick Lamar, whose album “To Pimp a Butterfly” prominently featured contemporary names from the new-age jazz world.

In celebration of the International Jazz Day, social music streaming app Resso has added a station to their latest song tab channel eQuaranTunes’ called eJazz At Home’. In addition to that, they will launch 10 mood-based playlists for every hour curated as per the vibe and time of the day. The station covers the pioneers as well as new age artists in the genre that include Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery to Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy and Flying Lotus among others. (IANS)

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Female Parliamentarians Have Increased Globally: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Women Represent One-Quarter of the World’s Parliamentarians

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Female rights
While female representation in national parliaments has increased, gender parity remains a distant dream. Pixabay

By Lisa Schlein

The number of female parliamentarians in the world has more than doubled since the groundbreaking U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 25 years ago, the Inter-Parliamentary Union said Friday. Part of the reason may be quotas.

While female representation in national parliaments has increased, gender parity remains a distant dream. However, significant changes have occurred. In 1995, the top-ranked country in terms of female members of parliament was Sweden, followed by other Nordic and developed countries.

This year, Rwanda, with more than 60% female MPs, beat 171 other countries for the top spot, followed by Cuba, Bolivia and United Arab Emirates. Sweden has been bumped down to seventh position.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union finds countries in the Americas have made the most progress in terms of representation of women in parliament, followed by Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and Asia. The Pacific, which holds up the bottom of the rankings, is the only region where some parliaments have no women. IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong said women fare best in countries that apply quota systems for their representation.

Female rights
Spectators chant “Justice” in Spanish after Chilean singer Mon Laferte was joined by Mexico’s Vivir Quintana and a chorus of dozens to perform an anti-femicide song titled “Song without fear,” during a concert by female performers on the eve of International Women’s Day, in the Zocalo in Mexico City. VOA

“Wherever quotas are being used during electoral processes, we see an increase in the women’s representation when compared with the countries where there are no quota systems. So, we continue to lay emphasis on the need for quotas to be legislated in order to achieve gender equality,” he said.

Chungong told VOA statistics show strong female participation in parliaments leads to better-designed and -implemented gender equality laws.

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“It is more often possible to address some of those issues that may be specific to women; such as, maternal and newborn and child health to be on the agenda, women’s political participation, violence against women, sexism. Those things tend to come to the fore when you have strong women’s participation in parliament,” he said.

Chungong said he believes the MeToo movement could help boost women’s political representation. He said the movement directly confronts sexism, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, which help keep women from seeking and winning electoral office. (VOA)

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Millions of Women Still Face Poverty, Discrimination and Violence: UN

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls himself a proud feminist

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Women rights
About 200 women form a human chain calling for an end to gender violence, on the eve of International Women's Day in central Mexico City. VOA

Calling himself “a proud feminist and supporter of women,”  U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lashed out at men who abuse power and declared before Sunday’s observances of International Women’s Day that the fight for gender equality is “the biggest human rights challenge we face.”

Twenty-five years after 189 countries adopted a 150-page road map for achieving equality for women, a new report by UN Women says the reality is that millions of women still face poverty, discrimination and violence. It notes more than 70% of lawmakers and parliamentarians and managers are men and nearly 500,000 women and girls older than age 15 are illiterate.

Bias against women

The U.N. Development Program’s new Gender Social Norms Index also had some bad news for women. It found that close to 90% of both men and women hold some sort of bias against women.

Women rights
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations headquarters. VOA

According to the index, about half the world’s men and women believe men make better political leaders and more than 40% think men make better business executives and have greater rights to a job. Further, 28% feel it is justified for a husband to beat his wife.

Guterres told the U.N.’s International Women’s Day observance Friday that “gender inequality is the overwhelming injustice of our day.”

“Deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems, our corporations, our societies and our culture,” he said. “Women are still very frequently denied a voice; their opinions are ignored and their experience discounted.”

The secretary-general cited examples in recent months, including high-profile peace agreements being signed with no women at the table and emergency health care meetings on the new coronavirus held with few or no women participating.

Scaled-down event

International Women’s Day is taking place a day before the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women holds a drastically scaled down one-day event so delegations in New York can adopt a draft political declaration commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1995 U.N. conference in Beijing that adopted the wide-ranging plan to achieve gender equality.

The commission had been expecting up to 12,000 people from its 193 member nations to be at its annual meeting. But it decided to postpone the major event until a later date because of the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bold platform, slow progress

The Beijing platform called for bold action in 12 areas for women and girls, including combating poverty and violence, ensuring all girls get an education, and having women at the top levels of business and government as well as at the table in peace negotiations.

It also said for the first time in a U.N. document that women’s human rights include the right to control and decide “on matters relating to their sexuality, including their sexual and reproductive health, free of discrimination, coercion and violence.”

The draft declaration expected to be adopted Monday reaffirms the Beijing platform for action and expresses concern “that overall, progress has not been fast or deep enough.” It pledges to take “concrete action to ensure the full, effective and accelerated implementation” of the road map.

Olof Skoog, the European Union’s top diplomat at the U.N., said the EU wasn’t happy with the initial draft but “we played hardball, I think it’s fair to say,” to produce “the most detailed and action-oriented political declaration ever adopted” by the commission.

He said there are advances in some areas and the declaration avoids “backtracking on some of the issues where there was huge push back.”

Among those issues was the definition of the family, with traditionalists insisting on a mother, father and children and progressive countries wanting to include LGBT families as well, he said. Another was on how to mention sexual and reproductive health and rights for females.

In the end, Skoog said, direct references to both issues were dropped in the declaration. But since the declaration affirms the Beijing platform, what that document says about the family and women’s rights and health will stand.

Women rights
Members of a civil society take part in a pro-women demonstration ahead of Women’s Day in Peshawar, Pakistan. VOA

‘Positive sign’

Francoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, said it was critical that governments recommit fully to the Beijing platform and called it heartening that they did so. She said governments also recommitted to achieving U.N. goals for 2030 that include sexual and reproductive rights for females, “so we feel that that is an extremely positive sign.”

What could really change the trajectory to achieve gender equality, Girard said, is ensuring that young girls can control their bodies, and there is still a long way to go.

“Controlling your body — sexual and reproduction and free of violence — is critical to everything else,” she told The Associated Press. “It’s critical to education, to employment, to political participation, to sitting on boards of companies. All these things won’t happen unless you control your body.”

Also Read- Know About the Similarities and Differences Between the Healthcare System of India and USA

On Friday, Guterres urged young women to keep up activism, and “please hold the world to account.”

“Twenty-five years after the Beijing conference, progress on women’s rights has stalled and even reversed,” he said. “We must push back against the push back. … It is more important than ever for men to stand up for women’s rights and gender equality.” (VOA)