There was much that happened over the holiday break in Asia, some of it good and some of it particularly devastating. Since it’s been so long, let’s get right down to it.
As many of you already know, a 23 -year-old woman was brutally gang-raped in the Indian city of Delhi and subsequently died of her injuries. The crime has sparked widespread protests and gained international attention. The victim was traveling to the movies with a male friend when both were attacked on the bus and the woman’s friend was severely beaten. There has been much analysis over the incident and BBC has several articles dealing with overall hostility and abuse Indian women face on a daily basis. This piece in particular documents how women in Delhi live in fear of being attacked. The women in this article are all considered middle to upper class and it is acknowledged by everyone that poor women in Delhi and elsewhere in India have it far, far worse. There’s also been analysis of how the attack is viewed in the Western world. A piece by Amith Gupta talks about how Orientalist feminism is making an ugly comeback in the midst of the tragedy. Finally, the victim’s father is speaking out, releasing his daughter’s name to serve as an inspiration for other victims. The link to the news story contains the victim’s name.
In more awful news, a human rights lawyer in Nepal is cautioning women to be wary of police and other officials amid protests after a woman was raped and robbed by government officials, declaring women may not be safe, even in government custody.
In better news, Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for her outspokenness in favor of girls’ education was released from the hospital this week. She will have to return on late January for reconstructive surgery. Until then, her family will continue to live in their temporary home in England.
While Malala has brought international attention to the issue of women’s rights in education in Pakistan, there has been little said in the mainstream media of the continued drone strikes in the country. Just this week, a US drone attack reportedly killed 8 Taliban operatives in Pakistan. The use of drones continues to be controversial because while the missiles may kill al-Qaeda and Taliban, it’s also becoming more apparent that innocent civilians, including children Malala’s age and younger, are also being killed in the strikes.
Speaking of Pakistan, troops of that country have been involved in a border clash with Indian troops in the disputed Kashmir region.
In a victory for women’s reproductive rights, Philippine’s president has approved and signed a family planning bill that has been blocked by the Catholic Church for more than a decade. According to Aljazeera, the law, which will take effect next month, allows government funding for contraceptives that would be made available especially for poor women. Of course, the Catholic Church balks at this, saying the availability of birth control will promote promiscuity.
Finally, it looks as if Taiwan is leading the way for gay rights in Asia. There is speculation that the island nation will be the first in Asia to approve same-sex marriage. Already, the issue has been brought up before the legislature and some predict that approval could come sometime later this year.