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Hastings Women’s Law Journal

Abstract

In an era of seemingly endless discussions of human rights and human rights violations, women are often singled-out as targets solely because they are women. For example: in Iran, a fifty-five year old woman, her arms full of groceries, was arrested and imprisoned where she received eighty lashes with a whip because her head scarf had slipped back from her forehead and a lock of her hair was showing; in Pakistan, a fifty-five year old grandmother, arrested and imprisoned for opening her gate to two young females wanting to rent a room in her house, was gang-raped and sodomized by the prison guards, then charged with "zina" (sex outside of marriage - adultery) for which she was beaten with a wide leather strap; in India, though officially forbidden by the Indian government, a young widow is expected to throw herself on her dead husband's funeral pyre as Indian society no longer considers she has reason to exist without her husband; in Saudi Arabia a princess was executed by her grandfather, the brother of the king, for committing adultery in Nigeria and other African countries, female children are circumcised, in which all or part of the clitoris is removed, or infibulated - all female external sex organs are removed and the flesh is sewn together - all of which is done without sterilization or anesthesia; in Iraq, a brother murders his sister in order to uphold the family's honor because she failed "to bleed" on her wedding night; in Bosnia-Herzogovina, Serbian commanders order their soldiers to rape women and young girls as part of a scheme of "ethnic cleansing" so as to eliminate the Muslim populations; and in many other countries, government officials rape and otherwise sexually abuse women as a means of torture to extract information, to discourage political activity or as a means of punishing or discouraging the activities of family members.

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