Global Roundup: Abortion Bill Could Make History in Argentina, Saudi Feminist to Stand Trial in "Terrorism" Court, Feminist Candidates in Uganda's Elections, Wives Kiss on Elle Cover

Activists participate in a demonstration in favour of legalizing abortion, outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A new bill to legalize abortion will go before parliament on Thursday in Argentina, a Catholic-majority nation and also the homeland of Pope Francis. The new bill has come as a proposal from President Alberto Fernandez — one of his campaign promises.

The approval of this bill will stop us from being used as birthing machines and allow us to be treated as human beings with a right to decide over our own bodies and destiny - Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, intellectual and author.

The push for reform in Argentina is part of a pro-abortion “green wave” sweeping through Latin America, symbolized by the green handkerchief that has become the campaign’s instantly-recognizable flag across the entire region.

This statement by #NiUnenos, a feminist collective that began amid protests against gender violence and which became a major force behind bill to decriminalize abortion has stayed with me from 2018 when the last bill was narrowly defeated:

If the law is not passed, we will not leave the streets, and they will not be able to leave the Congress building, because in the street Legal Abortion is already the law. We will not let ourselves be burned because this time the fire is ours.

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An illustration of Loujain al-Hathloul created by Moroccan artist Merieme Mesfioui Via The New Arab

Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul will stand trial on Thursday in a special court that deals with national security crimes and terrorism cases, her sister Lina said on Twitter.

Activists have said al-Hathloul’s referral to the special “terrorism court” is a sign of the challenge that feminism poses to the Saudi regime.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute theocratic monarchy, where only 'sons' of the King have a chance at the throne, only men can be judges presiding over a courtroom, only men can be legal decision-makers of households, and until now only men have ever been ministers or senior decision-makers. Feminism calls for equality for all regardless of gender, or religion - which is a foundational challenge to the core structure of every aspect of the Saudi political and legal systems - Bethany Al-Haidari, co-founder of SaudiJustice.org, 

Hathloul and several other female activists were arrested in May 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving. Her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, says Loujain has been tortured in prison and is denied phone calls or visits from her family. She has gone on two hunger strikes over the past year. Loujain and the other women's rights activists reported that they were subjected to torture, electrocution, waterboarding and sexual assault, which according to al-Hathloul's family, was overseen by Saud Al-Qahtani, a former royal court advisor who is also implicated in the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

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Dr. Stella Nyanzi on the campaign trail

In Uganda, female political candidates face structural and cultural obstacles including sexism, biases, and unequal media coverage. Many are held to a different standard compared to their male counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic has also presented additional hurdles with the transition to virtual campaigns. Stories4humanrights.com spoke to two feminists who are running for political office: Dr Stella Nyanzi who is running for the Kampala Woman Parliamentary seat and Rebecca AdileAchom who is aspiring to be the Woman Councilor V chairperson for Nakawa Division to examine the challenges they face.

Early on, one of the key questions that my campaign team and I toyed with was how I was going to present my single-motherhood status. I told them that motherhood was a good thing, however, singleness for a woman of my age can be used against me. I have had to deal with questions like, if she cannot manage a marriage, how will she manage a constituency? - Dr. Stella Nyanzi

Many of their answers are a reminder of how global patriarchal fuckery is.

I am contesting in an urban setting and the question I keep getting is whether as a young woman, I will still be marriageable enough when I get into office. The situation is even more challenging for single mothers who seek political office. In political spaces, patriarchy is at its highest. The space is toxic for any young woman. There will be a lot of judgment about how you dress or look - Rebecca AdileAchom

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An internally displaced girl holds a baby after her family left their village in the Achin district of Afghanistan. Mohammad Anwar Danishyar / AP Photo Via The National

As a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic threatens medical infrastructure across Afghanistan, many couples in the conservative country, where family planning is largely considered a taboo, have begun opting for contraceptive services out of fear of a risk to their health.

The Ministry of Public Health launched an awareness campaign in the early months of the pandemic advising Afghan women to space their pregnancies, or wait till after the end of the global crisis to have their next child. But such campaigns are falling short in a deeply conservative and patriarchal society like Afghanistan, where few women have a say over the number of children they conceive. Dr Khatol Hamidi, who manages a small family planning centre in Kabul, said the decision is usually made by a husband or mother-in-law.

It would help if Afghan laws were designed to protect women from physical, mental and sexual abuse - Dr Khatol Hamidi

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South Sudanese supermodel Aweng Ade-Chuol and her wife Alexus are sharing a kiss on the cover of the new Elle magazine to celebrate their love and support for each other after they were subjected to homophobic abuse for their marriage.

Congratulations to everyone involved for this timeless masterpiece. And to women who love women, who never realized that soul ties have been called by the ocean tides, love is as calm as the ocean gets - Aweng Ade-Chuol

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Mona Eltahawy is a feminist author, commentator and disruptor of patriarchy. Her first book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (2015) targeted patriarchy in the Middle East and North Africa and her second The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls (2019) took her disruption worldwide. Her commentary has appeared in media around the world and she makes video essays and writes a newsletter as FEMINIST GIANT.  

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