UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Africa News blog:

Must we see rape in Britain to understand rape in Congo?

I was left somewhat traumatised after going to see a screening of a controversial new Hollywood-backed short released this week, aimed at highlighting the link between minerals mined for British mobile phones and the use of rape and murder as weapons of war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The highly graphic campaign video - appropriately called Unwatchable - starts with a little English girl picking flowers in the garden of her family’s multi-million pound mansion in a picturesque Cotswolds village.

This tranquil scene is shattered in an instant when armed men descend on the house, gang-rape her sister on the kitchen table and then murder her parents. It ends five minutes later with the girl running for her life.

“We placed it in a sort of cliché idyllic countryside, and tracing it back to mobile phones would make it relevant to people on the street,” Marc Hawker of production company DarkFibre told AlertNet.

Changing the board? Start with the reviewers

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BRITAIN/The boards of British big business are a closed shop. Though women make up 46 percent of the UK’s economically active population — and do as well as, if not better than, their male counterparts throughout school, higher education, and into middle management, just 12.5 percent of FTSE 100 boards are made up of women.

Today, a government-commissioned review panel (led by a man, former trade minister Mervyn Davies) published its recommendations for tackling the problem. Central to the proposals is the recommendation that FTSE 100 companies aim to have women make up 25 percent of their boards by 2015. It eschewed recommending company quotas enforced by government legislation, as has happened in countries like Norway, saying that the majority of women it surveyed did not favour them. Business groups also object to quotas, arguing they risk a situation where the best person for the job might not get it. This is despite the fact, as the authors of Davies report argued, that there are plenty of well-qualified women for these positions who are simply overlooked because of an opaque, old-boys’ network attitude to recruitment.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Football still offside in attitude to women

The British media furore over two television presenters’ sexist comments over a lineswoman at a Premier League match at the weekend has thrown the spotlight on the subject of women in soccer – be it on the pitch or off.

Sky Sports duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray have apologised for saying female officials “don’t know the offside rule” when they were talking about lineswoman Sian Massey at Saturday’s match between Wolves and Liverpool when they thought their microphones were switched off.

from FaithWorld:

European human rights court faults Ireland on abortion ban

echr (Photo: European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, January 30, 2009/Vincent Kessler)

The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Ireland on Thursday for stopping a Lithuanian cancer sufferer from terminating a pregnancy, in a blow to the predominantly Catholic country and its tough abortion laws. In a final ruling, the rights court found Ireland had not respected the privacy and family rights of the Lithuanian woman, who was living in Ireland and feared a pregnancy could trigger a relapse of her cancer, in remission at the time.

The court, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, ordered Ireland to pay 15,000 euros ($19,840) in damages to the woman, who was forced to travel to Britain, where the laws are more liberal, to have an abortion. Terminating a pregnancy has long been a fraught issue in Ireland, where some of the toughest abortion laws in Europe allow terminations only when the mother's life is in danger.

from FaithWorld:

London marchers confront Pope Benedict in biggest protest of any of his trips

satprotest 1 (Photo: Protest against Pope Benedict in London, 18 Sept 2010/Stefan Wermuth)

Pope Benedict faced the biggest protest of his 17 trips abroad on Saturday when more than 10,000 people marched in London attacking his treatment of the abuse scandal in the Church, women priests and homosexuality. Some of the demonstrators were dressed in costumes, including black leather nuns’ habits and red cardinals’ robes. Posters bore the message: "Pope Go Home."

The pope has faced protests throughout his four-day visit to England and Scotland, often competing for attention with the faithful who are solidly supportive of the trip, only the second by a pope in history.

from FaithWorld:

“Ordain women,” London bus ads will urge Pope Benedict during September visit

CWO BUS

Pope Benedict will be confronted by posters on London's famous red buses during his trip to the British capital next month which will call for the ordination of women priests.

One group of women, Catholic Women's Ordination (CWO), will have its message plastered on the side of the buses as they travel along key routes, including past Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, where the pope is set to deliver a speech to Britain's civic society on September 17.

from FaithWorld:

Could Irish abortion case lead to a “European Roe v. Wade”?

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European Court of Human Rights,30 Jan 2009/Vincent Kessler

Ireland has defended its strict law against abortion at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in a case that could overturn that ban if the judges agree with three women who said it endangered their health and violated their rights.  The women, two Irish and one Lithuanian living in Ireland, had travelled to Britain to have abortions because traditionally Catholic Ireland allows the procedure only when the mother's life is in danger. Read our full story on Wednesday's hearing here.

The three women, named only as A, B and C, argued they had to terminate their pregnancies due to medical and social problems, and that being forced to travel abroad for abortions meant submitting to inhumane treatment that violated their right to privacy. They also said the law constituted gender-based discrimination.

from FaithWorld:

Anglicans, in row, may cut women bishops’ powers

schoriThe Church of England could restrict the powers of some women bishops under a plan designed to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy and liberals demanding equality.  The proposal has reignited the long-running debate over a supposed ecclesiastical "stained-glass ceiling" that stops women from attaining the most senior roles in the church.

The Church of England body reviewing the law on women bishops, the Revision Committee, has voted to change the rules to remove certain powers from female bishops in dioceses where they face opposition from traditionalists. Specially-appointed male bishops would assume those powers and the new system would be written into British law, the committee said in a statement.

from FaithWorld:

GUESTVIEW: Young British Muslims are speaking, but who’s listening?

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. Sughra Ahmed is a Research Fellow at the Policy Research Centre, which is based at the Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire and specialises in research, policy advice and training on issues related to British Muslims.

By Sughra Ahmed

hijab-flagIt may seem well and good to think children should be seen and not heard - there's nothing wrong with a touch of Victorian, especially true during a good movie! But what if the censored are not young children at all? What if they are flashpoints in our conversations on not so trivial subjects, you know, things like national security, integration and democracy. And what if, instead of listening, we systematically speak on their behalf, saying what they are thinking and how they fit into the whole social and political spectrum.

from The Great Debate UK:

Women firefighters are no longer a novelty

firefighter- During Dany Cotton's 20 years with the London Fire Brigade she has risen through the ranks to become a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and is the highest ranking operational woman firefighter in the UK. She was also the first woman firefighter in Britain to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal. The opinions expressed are her own. -

International Women's Day on March 8, is significant for me as it's a reminder how far women have come in all industries, but particularly my own.

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