News

The Clothesline Project

The idea is simple. The result is chilling. The Clothesline Project is collecting 250,000 shirts, designed by women survivors of violence, their families and friends. The shirts--T-shirts, sweatshirts, children's blouses--are sometimes decorated with poems or drawings by abused children, and sometimes with photographs of women who died from being battered. The shirts will be displayed during the Actions to Stop Violence Against Women in Washington DC, April 8-9, as an attempt to educate the public about violence against women. The Clothesline Project National Network has also produced a "Sounds of Sexism" tape, which beeps and whistles at appropriate intervals demonstrating how often US women are raped, beaten and killed.

Institute for Black Women

The 7th International Cross-cultural Black Women's Studies Summer Institute will focus its July 16-27, 1995 conference on "Pacific Women: Culture, Identity and Self-Determination". Among other issues, the conference will look at strategies activists are using to build a nuclear-free and independent Pacific. Emphasis will be placed on celebrating women's leadership. Contact: Black Women's Summer Institute, Information Headquarters, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, 1150 Carroll St., Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA. ATTN: Dr. A McLaughlin. Fax +1 718 270 5126.

War Crimes Against Women

The U.N.'s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia office of the prosecutor affirmed on September 8, 1994, that investigations of sex crimes against women are underway. Members of the Tribunal stressed their desire to prosecute "crimes against humanity and genocide."

The Tribunal also maintained that the majority of war crimes are committed against women and as a result, rape and sexual offenses are being addressed. However, prosecutor Justice Richard Goldstone stressed that the creation of a sex crimes unit would "belie the broadness of our approach." Instead of a separate unit focusing on the overwhelming number of sexual crimes against women, the Tribunal hired several staff members who are well trained in the area. In addition, Goldstone stated that a "cultural-specific gender training is under consideration for our lawyers, investigators and interpreters." The Tribunal is not willing to appoint a second Deputy Prosecutor; Goldstone stated that they are "committed to using the talent and experience of its female staff in senior and productive positions." Goldstone believes that an increase in Tribunal funds would facilitate the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes.

Action: Write to Goldstone, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Churchillplein 1, PO Box 13888, 2501 EW The Hague, Netherlands. Fax +31 70 344 5358. Urge him to see that sex crimes are dealt with effectively. Stress the importance of the cultural-specific gender sensitivity training. Recommend an increase in women involved in the investigation and prosecution processes.

Source: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Legislative Hotline, 1213 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107-1691, US. Tel. +1 215 563 7110; fax +1 215 563 5527.

Violence Against Homeless Women

During last summer, homeless women living on the pavement of Umgeni Road outside the Durban train station in South Africa was plagued by attacks from local thugs known as tsotsis. The violence was so bad that the women took turns sleeping at the end of the bench outside the station, knowing that the woman sleeping at the end is likely to be raped. One woman saw a tsotsi dragging a young girl toward the portable toilets, another dangerous area, and shouted that she would call the police. The station had no telephone, and the woman believed that even if she had been able to call, the police would not come. A police station is located a few blocks away from the train station, but police do not patrol the area, leaving the women without protection.

The new South African Bill of Rights sets forth in section 8(1) the right to equal protection of the law, as does article 7 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All women are entitled to police protection from rape and other violence, yet poor and homeless women are still vulnerable to attack. An international letter writing campaign was launched, asking officials to provide protection for the women by instituting a regular patrol, investigating reports of rape, and arresting those responsible. Contact: Equality Now, P.O. Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023, USA.