News from the Global South

UNFPA Highlights Need to Address Sexual and Reproductive Health of Women in Crisis Areas

Inter Press Service, 2/7/2020

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been attempting to raise funds to address sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls across 57 countries. Out of the funds raised, a significant amount would be directed towards UNFPA’s projects in Arab state regions, including countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia. They have been creating ‘women and girl safe spaces’ in the refugee camps in order to help women reach out for help. At these safe spaces, women are encouraged to come and meet with other women, share notes, relax, and have a safe environment to discuss concerns. UNFPA is also allocating funds for Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Sudan, Bangladesh, and Venezuela to address the SRHR needs of women in these countries.

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Allow Surrogacy to Single Women, Says RS Panel

The Tribune - Delhi, India, 2/6/2020

A Rajya Sabha select committee reviewing the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, which the Lok Sabha had passed in 2018, has said the surrogate mother need not be a close relative of the intending parents as mandated by the draft law. Recommending changes to the original legislation, the Rajya Sabha panel has batted for surrogacy services to be made available to single Indian women also. Currently, the law allows only married Indian and NRI couples who have failed to conceive a child within five years of marriage, to seek altruistic surrogacy. The Rajya Sabha panel has suggested removal of the provision of requirement of five years to seek surrogacy, apart from increasing the insurance cover for the surrogate mother from the present 16 months to 36 months.

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Male Troops Won’t Accept Women Commanders: Government to SC

The Times of India - Delhi, India, 2/5/2020

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that women may not be suitable for command posts in the Indian Army as male troops, who are predominantly from rural areas, are not ‘prepared to accept women officers’. Further, the Centre said that it is a greater challenge for women officers to meet hazards of service owing to prolonged absence during pregnancy and motherhood. Opposing the Centre’s pleas, lawyers Meenakshi Lekhi and Aishwarya Bhatti, representing the women officers, told the court that many women officers displayed exceptional bravery. In response to the Center, the court said that a change of mindset is required with changing times and women need to be given equal opportunity to serve in combat roles.

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Gay Community Targeted and Cut-Off from Healthcare in Tanzania

Sierra Leone Times, Tanzania, 2/4/2020

A report by Human Rights Watch entitled ‘If we don’t get services we’ll die’, outlines a systemic attack on LGBTQIA+ people under President John Magufuli’s rule since 2015. According to the report published on February 3, 2020, men in Tanzania have been forced into humiliating anal tests to check for spurious evidence of gay sex. The report describes how government officials have closed down HIV testing centres and banned the distribution of lubricants which would allow safer sex. In addition, police raids on meetings and training sessions which educate people about HIV have instilled fear within activist communities. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania under a colonial-era law which was later amended to allow for a life-sentence as punishment.

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Nepal’s Next Census to Count LGBT+ People for the First Time

Reuters - Nepal, 2/3/2020

Nepal will count LGBTQIA+ people for the first time in its next census scheduled for June 2021. The move will allow planning for social security and other rights, including government quotas, which were guaranteed to LGBTQIA+ people in the constitution, passed in 2015. However, gay rights activists voiced concern over the Nepalese government’s plan to combine sexual orientation with gender identity in the survey. They cited the last census in 2011, where authorities added a ‘third gender’ category for the first time but had counted all LGBTQIA+ people under it. Despite positive legislative changes, homosexuality remains taboo in Nepal, where an estimated 900,000 LGBTQIA+ people still face harassment and discrimination, campaigners say.

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