This week’s edition of news from Asia has contains progress in women’s rights in India, a possible step back in South Korea and changes in the drone program in Pakistan. Plus, other news from around the continent.
[This post contains trigger warnings for rape and body issues]
A new bill quickly passed through the Indian Parliament this week, toughening the penalties for sex crimes. It’s unusual for any type of legislation to pass so rapidly through the subcontinent’s political system, but with widespread protests and international criticism over the gang-rape of a female student in Delhi last year, lawmakers seemed eager to calm the outrage. According to the New York Times, the new law creates harsher sentences along with other measures:
The law expands the definition of rape, substantially increases the punishment for sex crimes like gang rape, makes repeat offenders subject to the death penalty, and defines as crimes actions like disrobing and voyeurism. It also imposes stricter punishment for police officers who fail to properly register complaints of sexual assault.
While women’s rights advocate and lawyer, Vrinda Grover calls it a few steps forward, other activists complain that the measures do not completely protect women from sexual harassment.
It’s been reported that the Obama administration will shift implementation of the drone program from under the guise of the CIA to the Pentagon. The drone program has sparked outrage and protests both internationally and at home and by moving the program to the Department of Defense, it is hoped that there would be increased accountability. Under military control, the program will fall under international articles of war and remove one of the greatest criticisms of the program; the violation of sovereignty of another nation-state.
According to this piece in Foreign Policy Magazine (viewable with sign-up,) the U.S.’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan is placing the women of that country in a precarious position. Though advances were made after the first invasion, women fear the power vacuum left by the withdrawal will place them in great danger. Already, more than 200 female journalists have voluntarily left their jobs for fear of Taliban attacks and retribution.
In one of her first Cabinet meetings as president, Park Geun-hye signed a law banning overexposure in public, which many interpret as including miniskirts on women. Anyone who is found in violation of the law will be fined 50,000 won (roughly $50). The law has sparked mass criticism from Korean celebrities and political opposition leaders. Many see it as a throwback to Park’s father, who instituted a similar law under his rule. However, police say it has nothing to with clothing, rather public nudity and indecency. On a personal observation, Korean fashion among the non-celebrity types usually involves wearing short skirts, while keeping shoulders and cleavage covered, though there are exceptions in every case.
Finally, the Tumblr site I referenced last week has a series of charts and graphs that show the relationship between the U.S. and the ASEAN nations. If you’re on Tumblr, I highly recommend following the site for news and cool pictures.