DGI Brief - Oct 7, 2016
- POLAND: The protests of over 100,000 women who took to the streets in cities across the country wearing black – ‘black Monday’ – were successful. The complete abortion ban proposed by the conservative government & an anti-abortion group with the backing of the Catholic Church was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers 352-58. Why it matters: Poland already has the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe which many see as acceptable. In fact, many women who joined the protests agree with the strict laws on the books, but what they object to were the ludicrous proposals to punish women & doctors with up to 5 years in prison & the possibility that women who suffered miscarriages could fall under criminal suspicion. It remains to be seen if the country stays at the status-quo or if women’s rights groups will push for even less restrictions. We truly have such long way to go for equality between women & men.
- PAKISTAN has taken significant step forward towards improving human & women’s rights by passing legislature that imposes mandatory 25-year prison sentences for all convicted of killing in the name of family honor. The law also bans family members from forgiving killers, a loophole that has seen most of honor killers go free – since they are almost always family members themselves. A second bill passed now allows medical evidence & DNA to be admitted in rape trials, where previously no such evidence was allowed. Instead 4 witnesses to the rape were necessary under Sharia law. Why it matters: There were > 1000 women murdered in 2016 in the name of family honor & virtually no punishment for the murderers & rapists. Proponents are somewhat surprised that the bills passed through the ultra conservative channels, but this is indeed an important victory for human rights & women’s rights in particular.
- TANZANIA’s new President John Pombe Magufuli has been hailed as a champion of anti-corruption, government accountability & austerity – discouraging travel abroad, not serving refreshments during official meetings, firing absentee workers during surprise visits… but this man of the people has recently issued some truly worrying decrees, namely, banning all opposition rallies until 2020 (next election), 2 private radio stations & other free speech measures like a strict cybercrime law under which number of people were charged with insulting him in social media conversations. Why it matters: He seems very popular in rural areas, a true man of the people, but can you really have accountability without democracy? It sneaks up on countries very quickly… please take heed of the signs of a dictator in making.
- RUSSIA’s military issued a strong warning to the US Thursday against striking the Syrian army, suggesting Russia would “shoot first, ask questions later” referring to its air defense missile systems. Russia also refused to believe that the US airstrike on Syrian army on Sep 17 that killed 60 Syrian soldiers was a mistake. Why it matters: the tensions between Washington & Kremlin are becoming unbearably high. We should be coming together, finding common solutions, not drifting – or sprinting – farther apart. Because such a division will permeate all aspects of foreign relations & policies hijacking any possibility of a common-sense consensus on otherwise straightforward issues.
- WORLD: With a recent string of ratifications of the COP21 – Paris climate change agreement – we have reached the required threshold of >55 countries representing > 55% of global carbon emissions & thus the climate deal will enter into force on November 4, 2016. Why it matters: It is truly magnificent that an agreement of such magnitude goes into effect in record short time, less than a year. Now countries have to take concrete steps to limit their carbon emission & work collectively in reversing the massive climate threats ahead. We are late to the ball, but still, congratulations are in order – we have proof that together we can…
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