Female Genital Mutilation Violates Fundamental Rights, Says Supreme Court
Hindustan Times - New Delhi, India, 7/31/2018
The Supreme Court on July 30, 2018, questioned the prevalent practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) of minor girls in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community, saying women cannot be ‘subjugated’ to the level where they have to only ‘please’ their husbands. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, while hearing a plea seeking a ban on the practice – filed by two Bohra women and an advocate – also referred to fundamental rights, including Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds like caste, creed and sex) under the Constitution, and said a person has the right to ‘have control over her body’. Attorney general K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said the government supports the plea against the practice of FGM.
First-Of-Its-Kind in India: 17 Masters Students Move into New Gender-Neutral Hostel at TISS
Indian Express, India, 7/28/2018
Seventeen Masters students at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have moved into the new gender-neutral hostel on the campus. University officials say many students had sought residence in the hostel, but only 17 have been allotted spaces up till now. In a significant step towards a gender-inclusive campus, the institute introduced what could be India’s first gender-neutral hostel space in April 2018. As a result, the ground floor of an existing girls’ hostel has been marked as a gender-neutral space with the capacity to accommodate 20 MA students who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. The institute also set up a committee recently to create guidelines and filter applications so as to ensure that a safe space is created.
Philippine Cities Pledge to Fast Track Response to Combat AIDS Epidemic
Xinhua - Manila, Phillipines, 7/27/2018
The League of Cities of the Philippines and UNAIDS signed a cooperation agreement on July 27, 2018, that commits the network of member cities to advocating and supporting local leaders to fast track the response to HIV to reverse the current trend of the epidemic in the country. Both sides vowed to strengthen the engagement of civil society, including people living with HIV and key populations, to scale up and expand local responses. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), in its newly released report found that the annual new infections have more than doubled in the Philippines in the past seven years, and cities and urban areas were the ones most affected. Hence, the need arose to begin preventive efforts.
Bihar Orders CBI Probe into Shelter Sex Scandal
Gulf News - Patna, India, 7/26/2018
Bihar's Chief Minister has ordered an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the reports of sexual misconduct against 29 out of 42 girls who lived in a shelter for young girls in the Muzaffarpur district. The incident, which was exposed after a team from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences conducted an audit of the shelter in February 2018, rocked both the Bihar State Assembly and the Parliament. ‘The State Government is committed to an impartial probe into the reprehensible incident at the shelter home for girls and hence, has ordered a CBI probe,’ a press statement issued by the State Information and Public Relations Department said on July 26, 2018.
Singapore: Gay Activist Barred from Giving TEDx Talk
New Indian Express, Singapore, 7/25/2018
A Singapore gay activist said on July 25, 2018, that she was barred from giving a TEDx talk at a prestigious school, sparking fresh criticism of conservative attitudes towards homosexuality in the city-state. Rachel Yeo, the research and advocacy director of the Inter-University LGBT Network, told a local news source that she had been invited to speak at an event organised by St Joseph's Institution, an independent Catholic school, but was contacted by organisers at the last minute, informing her she could no longer participate due to Education Ministry regulations. Though the ministry has denied its involvement in the decision, Singapore has a history of conservatism around LGBTQ issues; and Yeo herself has faced similar kind of discrimination in the past.