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Women’s Rights News Brief – May 1st, 2017

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High Heels Petition: Work Dress Code Law Rejected

Image source: The Telegraph

After Nicola Thorp was sent home from work for wearing flat shoes, a petition was set up receiving more than 152,000 signatures and was debated in Parliament in March. Thorp began her petition after refusing to wear a “2-4in heel.”

A parliamentary investigation into heels and company dress codes revealed “widespread discrimination” in workplaces. On Friday, April 14th, the UK government said the law was “adequate” and aims to advise companies to have rules that are “relevant and lawful.”

Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said that this petition has, “reinforced the need for effective enforcement of legislation for employers and employees to be aware of their obligations and rights.” Ms Miller, Thorp and many Britons hope that the next government, which will be voted in at the June 8 election, will monitor how this will affect women’s experiences in the workplace.

 

Tambourine Army Fights Gender-Based Violence in Jamaica

Latoya Nugent, Nadeen Spence and Taitu Heron founded the Tambourine Army to fight gender-based violence. Photograph: Jean Pierre Kavanaugh

In Early January, a group of 14 activists entered a church in rural Jamaica and silently protested in support of a young victim of sexual abuse: a 15-year-old girl, who had been raped by the church’s pastor a few weeks earlier. This occurrence marked the start of the Tambourine Army, a new organisation aiming to fight gender-based violence in Jamaica.

Various protests have occurred within the region and similar marches are due to be held in solidarity with #lifeinleggings in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the Bahamas and Guyana.

“We want to change the culture we have of assigning blame and shame to survivors,” Latoya Nugent said, co-founder of the Tambourine Army. “We want to place it at the feet of perpetrators and change the current narrative.”

According to the United Nations statistics collected in 2015, the Caribbean has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world with one in three women experiencing sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives, with 14-38% experiencing intimate partner violence at least once.

 

Social Media Campaign in India Aims to Eliminate “Tax on Blood”

Image source: Twitter

In India, female menstruation is still considered a taboo, however, the hashtag #lahukalagaan – translating to “tax on blood” – went viral on Twitter throughout the country last week, as citizens implored politicians to make sanitary pads “more accessible to the 312 million menstruating women who still use rags during their periods.”

The social media campaign was spearheaded by women’s rights NGO SheSays and if successful, the campaign will assist in making India one of the few countries – like Canada and Kenya – to stop taxing female hygiene products which are categorised as luxury items and taxed at 12-14% in many Indian states (as well as in many other countries around the world).

The campaign also aims to increase awareness about menstrual hygiene in rural areas in India. Sushmita Dev, an Indian MP, who has created an online petition urging for the taxation to be scrapped has collected more than 200,000 signatures. Dev argues, “Women bleed, it’s natural. Why should they have to pay a tax every month for it? If we can afford to make contraceptives free why can’t we scrap this?”

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Dominic is a Greek/American writer & editor; English and Theatre Studies Graduate

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