An Aspire look at some of the positive changes in women’s lives around the world.
Canada granted asylum to an 18-year-old Saudi runaway, who feared death if she returned home. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun had barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid being sent back home. She flew to Thailand, escaping from a family trip in Kuwait, but when denied entry into the country, she rallied worldwide support on Twitter to avoid being deported. The world was outraged to learn that she feared being killed by her relatives if sent home.
Yalitza Aparicio became the first indigenous woman to be nominated in the lead actress Oscar category and just the second Mexican actress ever to be recognized in that category. In Netflix’s Roma, Aparicio, in her film debut, plays a housekeeper and nanny of Indigenous Mexican descent. Roma, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. The Awards are presented February 24.
The Pakistan Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of a man accused of stabbing Khadija Siddiqi, nearly three years after the attack prompted a national debate on violence against women. Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, leading a three-member panel, reinstated the conviction of Shah Hussain. Ms. Siddiqi, who survived the attack and appealed the original acquittal, said that Mr. Hussain, a former classmate, had attacked her after she rebuffed his romantic overtures. The acquittal prompted an outcry in Pakistan. Ms. Siddiqi’s story and pictures of her wounded neck were widely shared on Twitter and Facebook, provoking outrage and condemnation and human rights activists expressed support for Ms. Siddiqi. A campaign with the hashtag #JusticeForKhadija grew louder, causing the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case.
A court in Sudan overturned the death sentence of a teenager who killed the husband who she alleges tried to rape her. It is being hailed as a major victory for women’s rights in the conservative country. In an Islamic court 19-year-old Noura Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging after stabbing and killing her cousin, whom she said her father forced her to marry. An appeals court commuted her sentence to five years in jail and a fine of 337,500 Sudanese pounds ($18,600). The new sentencing includes time served. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International began a ‘Justice for Noura’ campaign hoping to draw attention to Sudan’s discriminatory laws which leave women and girls vulnerable to child marriage and domestic violence.
Merve Erbay, 21, became the first woman firefighter at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) after outperforming competitors in the firefighting exam. While working as a workplace nurse, Erbay said she saw a vacancy announcement by the Parliament for firefighters and was inspired by her uncle – a firefighter at an airport – to apply immediately for the job.
British women forced into marriages abroad will no longer be required to repay the government for the cost of helping them escape. Instead, the government will use court orders to try to recover expenses for parts of the women’s rescue, like flights home and short-term shelter, from the people who sent them abroad — often their parents. If they can’t recoup the money, the UK Foreign Office will cover the costs itself.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will allow women who serve on missionary trips around the world the option of wearing pants instead of skirts in certain scenarios. The Church announced that the update to dress standards for female volunteers, known as “sister missionaries,” was approved by the First Presidency, the three male leaders who form the religion’s highest governing body. Previously, the option of wearing pants was only offered to sister missionaries in regions of the world affected by mosquito-borne diseases like Zika, dengue fever and Chikungunya. That change, instituted in June 2016, affected about half of the church’s mission regions. Now, women in all 407 of the church’s mission regions can wear pants while proselytizing.
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