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Article by Eva Csik | Published December 29, 2011

This Week’s Human Rights News

International Affairs / Leave a comment

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29 December 2011

Australian senator meets with Swedish officials to protect Assange’s human rights

Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has met with Swedish officials to discuss the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The senator has embarked on the European mission in order to secure guarantees that if Assange is extradited to Sweden, his human rights will be upheld. Senator Ludlam did not attempt to secure a guarantee from the Swedish Government that Assange would not be handed on to the United States after extradition to Sweden.

Peter Worthington – a Canadian columnist writing mainly on international crises and wars – believes Assange “has performed a considerable service by revealing ‘leaked’ analyses of what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Mr Worthington puts it bluntly that “WikiLeaks seems to have contributed to the military’s oft-declared policy of openness and transparency, which is often more rhetorical than real”.

Thousands rally against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism

Thousands of Israelis have rallied against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism. It has been reported that ultra-Orthodox extremists have campaigned to segregate men and women and this has resulted in an eruption of “verbal and physical abuse against women”. Ultra-Orthodox residents have recently been filmed spitting at women and harassing an eight-year-old girl.

A number of incidents were reported in Israel in which women were compelled to sit at the back of segregated buses serving ultra-Orthodox areas, despite court rulings that women may sit where they please.

Women’s rights activists have stated that the ultra-Orthodox, which consist of around 10 per cent of the population, have become increasingly radical over gender segregation and are winning concessions that harm women.

In related news, a Jewish Israeli MP is proposing a Bill be passed in Israel that would ban mosques from calling the public to prayer. It is expected that such a Bill would only increase tensions.

Court in Egypt orders end to forced virginity tests

The Cairo Administrative Court in Egypt has ordered that forced virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons be stopped. The Court ruled in favour of Samira Ibrahim, a protestor arrested in Tahrir Square, who sued the army over the practice. Human rights organisations have widely condemned forced virginity testing by asserting that it is sexual violence and used as a form of punishment.

A 25-year-old woman explained how she and other women were beaten, electrocuted and accused of being prostitutes. “When I came out, I was destroyed physically, mentally and emotionally”, she said.

An army general, speaking to CNN, defended the practice: “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place”, he said.

“On January 3, one soldier is to face court martial in the case of the so-called virginity tests, charged with ‘public indecency and not following orders’.”

This report was compiled using the sources attributed in hyperlinks listed throughout. Don’t forget to tune in to Right Now Radio each Thursday at 6 pm on 3CR 855 AM to hear more human rights news. You can also stream live at www.3cr.org.au.

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