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Sexual violence in Pakistan
Twenty-five members of a village council in Pakistan were arrested this week for ordering the public rape of a sixteen-year-old girl. The rape was sanctioned by the council as punishment for a crime committed by the victim’s brother, who was accused of raping a thirteen-year-old girl earlier in the month. The Supreme Court of India requested an investigative report on the incident, which was reminiscent of a notorious 2002 case in which a teenage girl was gang-raped on a local council’s order. Although such village councils are considered illegal by Pakistani authorities, they frequently remain arbitrators in disputes in rural areas. The most recent case only came to the attention of the Punjab police force after the mother of the second victim filed a formal complaint. Both young victims and their mothers are now residing at a women’s protection center, where the girls have received medical services.
Women’s leadership in the UK
The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court—the highest court for all matters under English and Welsh law, Northern Irish law, and Scottish civil law—will be headed by a woman for the first time in history. The appointment of Brenda Hale, an expert in family law who has been the court’s deputy president since June 2013, to the presidency was announced last week, and she will assume the seat in October. Hale previously broke a barrier as the first woman ever to sit as a justice on the court; her appointment to the presidency was announced alongside the appointment of Jill Black, who will become the second-ever female justice. Hale is a longtime champion of diversity in the judiciary and an advocate for responsive and transparent courts, suggesting at her appointment that “we hope that this will help to create a broader understanding of how the judiciary serves society.”
Violence against female politicians in Kenya
This year, a record nine female candidates are running for gubernatorial seats in Kenya, which could result in the country’s first ever female governor. Yet women face significant barriers to gaining seats in government, manifested most recently in the expiration of a recent government deadline to implement a law requiring all elected bodies to be comprised of at least one-third women. Reports also confirm that female political candidates and their supporters face harassment, intimidation, and abuse in the weeks leading up to major elections. After several disturbing cases of arson, physical attacks, and a hostage situation went largely unanswered by authorities, Kenya’s Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) responded by creating an SMS hotline for victims. The country has endured a history of election-related violence, most notably following the disputed presidential elections of 2007, which resulted in over 1,000 deaths and half a million displaced citizens, as well as widespread reports of all forms of violence against women, including at least 900 incidents of sexual violence.