Women will vote on Saturday 12 December in Saudi Arabia for the first time in history. The municipal elections take place across Saudi Arabia where women are expected to vote for the first time. Many people are optimistic that women’s voices will finally be heard in Saudi politics – even if only at a local level.
The president of Muslim Women Association in Edinburgh, Tasneem Ali, said: ‘Every woman should have the right to vote. It’s a matter of democracy. Realistically is how it should be.’
Women were previously barred from voting or being elected to political office, but in 2011 King Abdullah declared that women would be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, as well as be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.
The first two female registered candidates were Jamal Al-Saadi in Medina and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat in Mecca, the Saudi Gazette reported. An estimated 70 women are planning to register as candidates and an additional 80 as campaign managers, according to local media in Saudi Arabia.
Neither male nor female candidates will be allowed to use pictures of themselves in campaign advertising and on election day there will be separate polling centers for men and women.
Women’s rights activists had long fought for the right to vote in the oil-rich gulf kingdom.
‘Female participation in December’s elections is an important step towards creating greater inclusion within society’, said Nouf al-Sadiq, Saudi citizen and graduated student in Middle East studies at George Washington University.
Women’s rights in Saudi Arabiaare limited in comparison to many of its neighbors in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most restrictive countries for women by the International Community. The World Economic Forum in 2013 ranked Saudi Arabia 127th out of 136 countries for gender parity.
Many women has been registered across the country, especially in the capital Riyadh. The government also requires voters to have personal ID cards, and many Saudi women do not.
Ali supports the advances that Saudi Arabia women are getting, she insisted that it’s a democratic matter separated that it not just a problem for Islamic states, she said: ‘Islamically women have the right to vote but when a country prohibits it, it’s not about Islamism. This is how every society can go forward’.
Saudi women still have to contend with limits on their freedom of movement, and since it is illegal for them to drive, many of them will have to rely on male members of their family to take them to register and vote. Male relatives who oppose female voting rights could also be a barrier.
Despite the right to vote suppose an advanced for women in the Middle East, international media such as CNN have reported that ‘public political dissent is illegal in Arabia Saudi’. According to Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties; Saudi Arabia is a mainstay of the 10 worst countries in the world for women’s civil rights. Citizens that even hint that political and human rights should be expanded are considered as a terrorist action by the monarchy.
Domestic abuse campaigners yesterday called into question the effectiveness of Clare’s Law, a scheme which will be piloted across areas of Scotland today.
Domestic abuse charity Refuge expressed concerns that the Law is not enough to help protect women from violence.
The scheme is named after Clare Wood, a 36-year old woman who was murdered by her abusive boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009. She was not aware of his history of violence against women.
“Clare’s Law” will be piloted in Ayrshire and Aberdeen today and will last for six months. It will allow people suffering from domestic abuse access to information on a partner’s potential violent history. If successful the scheme will then be rolled out across Scotland.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said:
“Clare’s Law sounds good on paper, but in reality it will do very little to help the hundreds of thousands of women and children who experience domestic violence in this country.
“Some people will say that if Clare’s Law saves just one life, it is worth it. But let’s be clear – two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales. Saving just one life is not enough.
“What will happen if a woman is told that her partner does have a history of violence? Will she be expected to pack her bags and leave straight away? At Refuge, we know that it isn’t that simple.
“Leaving a violent partner is an incredibly difficult step to take. It is also extremely dangerous – women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. And if women do leave, where are they supposed to go? Refuges are closing up and down the country because of huge funding cuts.
“Clare’s Law may help a few individuals but we need to help the majority of victims – not the few. The most effective way to save lives on a large scale is to improve police practice and protect the vital services run by specialist organisations like Refuge. Let’s get our priorities right.”
Lily Greenan, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, fully supports the scheme. She said:
“Clare’s Law allows people who are concerned about the behaviour of their partner now have the right to ask if they have a history of abuse.
“We are supporting it because anything that potentially helps to prevent domestic abuse against a person is worth having a go at. The levels of domestic abuse in Scotland are very high, and these can become quite extreme before people feel that they can contact the police about it.
“We see the law as a pro-active approach to try and encourage people who feel uncomfortable about what their partner is doing to quietly enquire about whether or not there is a history of domestic abuse.
“Obviously it is not a replacement for a criminal investigation if what is happening to them is already definable as abuse but it may be helpful to some people to have that information in advance.”
According to the Scottish government website, the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse last year reached 60,080, a rise of almost a third in a decade.
Half of all incidents recorded in 2012-13 led to the recording of a crime or an offence, and of these, 78 per cent were reported to the procurator fiscal.
Factors which may increase women’s vulnerability to some types of violence include age, disability and poverty.
Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, believes that had his daughter been able to access information on Appleton’s criminal history it may have saved her life.
Universities are working in conjunction with Lothian and Borders Police to raise awareness around the increase of rapes taking place over the festive period. The campaign sees students as their “target market”, but some students are questioning why this hasn’t been an on-going campaign.
‘We Can Stop It’ aims to increase awareness about the Sexual Offence Act Scotland 2009, which defined several new offences relating to sex without consent.
Changes in the legislation included the acknowledgment that someone who is incapable through drink or drugs is considered unable to consent; the ability to consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time and male rape being legally classified as such for the very first time.
The emphasis of the campaign will be on 18-27 year olds and will focus primarily on men, hoping to provoke a change in values when it comes to rape so that men’s role in preventing rape can be brought to the forefront of peoples’ attention.
Chief Superintendent Malcom Graham, Divisional Commander for the City of Edinburgh said: “With the festive holidays fast approaching, we know that there will be significantly more young people out in bars and clubs.
“I hope that by working with educational establishments and receiving their support for the campaign we can reach our target market effectively and educate them about the key areas of change in the legislation.
“Our officers will also be in and around a number of campuses in the coming weeks speaking to students about the campaign and I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming involved to speak to them.”
Lesley Johnstone, Chair of the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership, is an advocate of the campaign and said: “Sexual abuse can have a devastating impact upon victims and their wider families, and we strongly support this initiative and the activity the police are doing at Edinburgh’s Universities.”
Students and staff at Napier University responded positively to the campaign, recognising the gravity of the issues at hand. However, some people raised concerns about why the campaign was only being run over the festive period. Napier Student President Tom Zanelli echoed these concerns: “Rape is a disgraceful act and needs stamping out, I do agree that rape and what actually is rape is still very much unknown, so hopefully this campaign can help raise awareness and also stamp it out.
“To be honest students will always drink and I’m not convinced they will drink any more or less over the festive period, the campaign should on-going throughout the year and always targeted at students.”
Former student Robert Piper said: “A lot of them are too busy studying or going home for Christmas and everything, but yes I think it’s a good thing. They should realise that whenever they go out and have a few drinks, being social, they might let their guard down. They should still be aware of what’s going on around them and everything else that’s going on, not just for themselves but for other people as well.”
Computer Security and Forensics student Jake Gregg said: “Most of the students are going home at Christmas, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do this during term time when there’s more students here. Some students understand the issues, but others maybe need their awareness raised.”
Financial Advisor Zara Lochrie: “I think if there’s enough promotion and awareness is raised enough then I don’t think this campaign will be overlooked, I think it’s something that’s quite prominent just now. If students are aware of it and if there’s enough awareness around the university then it will definitely take off I’d say.
“I’d say students would be the perfect target audience, especially over Christmas with all the Christmas parties and things like that, but student and staff alike over the Christmas period where everyone’s drinking a little bit more. I think it’s a good time to get in there when it’s relevant to them.”
Placements Administrator Lindsay Morgan: “I guess this is a good time for the campaign, because it’s the time when everyone’s drinking and partying. I wasn’t aware of that legislation change so I dare say there are a lot of students out there who aren’t aware of the change either.
“A lot of students will have gone home already, but then there’s local students too, and students still keep in touch with all the things going on at university so it may not be too late.”
Today women are celebrating their decolletage as they take part in National Cleavage Day.
The unusual event takes place in March or April each year and has been running since 2002. It is sponsored by well known bra maker Wonderbra, and according to them, “is a day for women to acknowledge that their cleavage is something unique and encourage you all to be proud of it.”
In a recent poll of 1000 women carried out by Wonderbra, 50% of women admitted to flashing some flesh in order to get served quicker in bars. 28% revealed that they wear a bust enhancing bra on a first date to impress a potential suitor, while one in seven admitted to wearing revealing necklines at work to get a career boost. A further 8% found that showing some cleavage helped them escape a parking fine.
Wonderbra also compiled a list of the top ten most boobilicious celebrities in their celebrity cleavage hall of fame. Television presenter Holly Willoughby came top of the list.
Wonderbra’s celebrity cleavage hall of fame:
1. Holly Willoughby
2. Scarlett Johansson
5. Marilyn Monroe
6. Dita Von Teese
7. Katy Perry
8. Brigitte Bardot
9. Kim Kardashian
10. Lara Stone
National Cleavage Day has remained one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Here’s what some Tweeters have been saying:
@wonderbra_uk Happy National Cleavage Day to everyone!!!
@NotBillWalton Today is NationalCleavageDay! Ladies, be proud of your twins, be bold, show them off, throw them down, and set the world on fire!
@moonsez What’s different on NationalCleavageday? Do the men look at your face while talking to you?
@ollyofficial Just heard NATIONALCLEAVAGEDAY!!! Excited about getting out of this studio…. #schwing
@AnnSummersPR Happy NationalCleavageDay…we are all rocking our best bras today 😉
@stuheritage Is it NationalCleavageDay? Finally, a nationalday that I have a chance of winning.
@Charles_HRH Camilla, one doesn’t care if it’s ‘NationalCleavageDay‘. You’re not having your “crown jewels” on display. #nationalcleavageday
Women can feel sexual pleasure or even have an orgasm when exercising, a new study proved. The research group from the Indiana University Bloomington found that about 40 % of the 370 women responding to the survey had experienced exercise-induced orgasms or sexual pleasure in more than 10 occasions. The most ‘rewarding’ type of exercise in terms of sexual pleasure was found to be abdominal exercising. Debby Herbernick, a well-known researcher, advice columnist and author told EurekAlert that the study might help women to feel more comfortable and normal with their exercise experiences.
With Edinburgh International Festival’s much-anticipated summer programme being launched on Wednesday and the first Fringe tickets already on sale, March is the time when the buzz of Edinburgh’s summer festivals really kicks off.
But there’s a new festival in town which is getting the tongues of arts enthusiasts wagging: the Festival of Erotic Arts (FEA).
Running for three days in June, FEA is the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a growing number of cities who have begun hosting such festivals in recent years; Seattle’s Festival of Erotic Art is now in its tenth year, and attracts over 10,000 visitors, while similar events take place annually in Paris, Berlin and New York among others.
As with any new and controversial event, FEA’s programme announcement sparked furore over the weekend, with both the city council and the Church of Scotland voicing concerns over the potential risks posed to vulnerable women and the impact advertising could have on children.
But rather than reinforcing and perpetuating clichés, the festival’s organisers, Itsy Live Events, promise to give a platform to erotic art in all its forms, as well as creating a place for art and performances not otherwise seen in mainstream venues.
Events are typical of any other arts festival; exhibitions and talks include Erotic: Surreal and Abstract and A Spoken History of the Erotic Arts. The innocently named Arts & Crafts Fair is being plugged as “a one-of-a-kind sexy fair” with everything from books to accessories to clothes being sold by craftmakers and artists alike.
For those keen to dip their toe into the erotic water, there’s a beginner’s workshop in Japanese style bondage, which involves decorative ties with ropes. Run by a bondage professional, the ticket price includes a goody bag with lesson sheets, 15 metres of rope, and an all-important pair of safety scissors.
Despite being a short, weekend festival, many of the names involved in the FEA are the crème de la crème of the UK’s fetish scene. London-based Torture Garden’s fetish, burlesque and body art club nights for “alternative arty weirdos” are the biggest in the world, with previous visitors including Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese and Jean Paul Gaultier. A debate on the nature of human sexuality will be hosted by award nominated cabaret act, ArtWank, while internationally bestselling author and blogger extraordinaire, Zoe Margolis, will be giving a Q&A on the art of sex blogging.
With Margolis a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, the FEA is going out of its way to make sure this festival is taken seriously. Describing it as “a sleaze-free celebration of a thriving art form”, there’s an undeniable absence of smut in the way it’s being marketed – and if nothing else, it’s good advertising for Itsy Live Events’ other specialist service, “reputation management”.
A new iPhone application has been launched that aims to help women choose the clothes they should wear. “Body Shape” by Diva Dressing, is available on the Apple AppStore for £5.49. It says it will give a clear depiction of what clothes suit them based on their body shape.
Sally Inkster, the owner of Dressing Diva says, “Beauty only shows through when women are confident.”
“The way to achieve self-confidence is to wear an outfit that truly compliments your body shape”.
It works by women inputting their vital statistics such as height and hip measurements. Once these are recorded it calculates what clothes they should wear and which to avoid.
It is being dubbed ‘the style guide for your pocket’. It is continuing the debate on the amount people are relying on technology. This comes in the wake of a report over the weekend that mums are spending too much time on social network sites and not with their children.
Key research in the link between sex hormones and brain functions is currently underway at Durham University. Scientists have discovered that there is a positive correlation between elevated levels of hormones and performing mental tasks. These findings have come out of tests conducted on women currently involved in hormone therapy (HT). The study is being lead by Dr. Markus Hausmann who is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the university. This has been ongoing for the last eight years and the most recent results have been discovered in the past week.
Dr. Ulrike Bayer is a research fellow with the project and states that the most recent findings have come from their tests of fine motor skills in post-menopausal women. “There are two conditions with the motor tasks. One simple and one difficult. We compare the performance of the left hand with the right using the finger-tapping tests.” The subjects involved in the study are divided into three comparison groups. There is a control group of women without the hormone drug, a group who only take oestrogen and a third group who take both oestrogen and progestin. The findings indicate improved motor functions in the third group of women.
The elevated levels of hormones apparently boosts the cognitive skills of women using the therapy. Their brain functioning works on an equal level with that of younger women who would have the same amount of sex hormones in their bodies. Dr. Hausmann says that this is due to better co-ordination between the right and left sides of the brain. “The tests with post-menopausal women show that HT can help both sides of the brain pull their weight, much in the same way the brain organises itself in younger women.” Visual tasks are also set to women to measure their level of cognitive functioning. The subjects are presented with images and they have to press a button to compare how similar they are to each other.
It has also been suggested that hormone therapy such as this may have a role in protecting against strokes. Higher brain functioning due to increased hormone levels help to combat conditions which impair motor skills. This good news is limited to women for the moment as the study is being conducted with female hormones. Fortunately, Dr. Bayer is confident that future research with men of a similar age will yield similar results to the current project.
Women who enjoy a weekly glass of wine during pregnancy are not putting their child at risk according to the findings of a new study led by University College London. One glass of wine can be equal to 2 units.
This new research conflicts with the Government’s advice that women should avoid alcohol altogether whilst pregnant. This was decided in 2007 after research found that 1 in 10 women were exceeding the recommended limit. The government line will not be changed in light of this study.
Dr. Yvonne Kelly, a lead author of the study, says, “There’s now a growing body of robust evidence that there is no increase in developmental difficulties associated with light drinking during pregnancy”.
A Department of Health spokesperson says, “as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol.”
Around 11,500 5 year olds were involved in the study published by The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which says that children of mothers who drink up to 2 units of alcohol a week during pregnancy are “not at increased risk” of emotional problems or learning difficulties.
Today marks the point in the year when women in Britain effectively start working for free, according to a report published by the Fawcett Society.
The report states that women are still being paid on average 20% less than men, with the highest gender pay gap in West Somerset where women are paid over 50% less than men.
As a result of the 17.1% full time gender pay gap, October 30th marks the point in the year when women across Britain can be said to be working for free.
Ceri Goddard chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Today women will effectively receive their last pay cheque of the year.”
Anne Haggarty an Edinburgh Napier employee said: “It annoys me. There’s no job a woman can’t do. In the past men’s physical strength determined rates of pay but with technology today this shouldn’t be the case.”
The findings follow the statistics earlier this week that Britain has slipped down the international league table for gender equality again.
It is now ranked 15th out of 130 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap.
Dropping to 78th in the world’s pay inequality league behind countries including Egypt, Malawi, Tajikistan and Malaysia.
We asked some female students at Edinburgh Napier’s Merchiston campus their opinion and found they were shocked that this inequality still exists.
Edinburgh Local Government cut funding for black minority ethnic women’s refuge by ten percent.
Shakti Women’s Aid are experiencing cut backs in funding as a direct result of the recession.
Cutbacks in funding will mean services that were previously available to women experiencing and/or fleeing from domestic abuse will be reduced.
Reductions in the hours staff can work have been made in order to curb spending.
Information and education officer Mridul Wadhaw explained:
“Staff can no longer work as many hours. This means extra services such a social activities have had to stop.”
Mridul highlights the set backs Shakti Women’s Aid are experiencing:
“The cutbacks have not effected our core one on one service. It is the extra services that we previously offered that we have had to stop. These were therapeutic activities, such as a women’s group and parties for children and the women.”
The extra social activities helped to increase the support given to the women and minimize the feeling of isolation women fleeing domestic abuse may feel. Now that these services have been reduced the sense of unity these activities previously provided will be significantly less.
Shakti Women’s Aid provide a unique service for BME women and their children. They provide a wide range of services for these women. From safe refuge for both woman and child to stay, legal advice and even translations.
“Over 10 years Shakti has made a positive difference to the lives of over 1600 women and their children.”
The new UK regulations on in vitro fertilization (IVF) will erode the role of fathers, a senior Church of Scotland minister has warned.
The new rules shortly coming into force allow the women who conceive a child through in vitro fertilization or sperm donation to put any person as the second parent on the birth certificate. Reverend Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, says he finds it deeply disturbing that the new rules have no requirement that the person named
as the second parent have any biological relation to the child.
“The Church of Scotland is stunned at the potential further erosion of the role of fathers, and is concerned that the falsification of information about one’s identity is the denial of a very fundamental human right”, Reverend Galloway said.
The updated regulations by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) remove the previous clause that encouraged fertility clinics to consider a child’s “need for a father”. From April 6 it will be possible for women to name anyone as the “second parent” or “father”, as long as they are not in close relation to the woman giving birth. This allows friends or partners to be listed on the birth certificate, but not sisters or uncles, as they are within the “prohibited degrees” set out by the HFEA.
Reverend Galloway said it creates a “legal fiction”.
“At a time when parental responsibilities are in the spotlight, what message does this send to fathers, who are in danger from being erased from history”, he said.
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe also underlined the role of fathers. She said: “Every child has got a right to a father and this bill for the first time quite deliberately creates a situation where children are born without a father.”
“A father plays a unique role in a child’s life. The effect is quite simple. You’re going to deprive a child from the outset.”
Apart from the implications the child conceived through IVF may meet in the society, concerns have been raised regarding the lack of genetic history in relation to illnesses. Also, there is a potential risk when the child grows up that related people may marry each other, which implies consequences for their children.
The new regulations on in vitro fertilization only affect women. Homosexuals that want to have a child through surrogacy will have to wait until next year for both of the men to be listed as parents of the child.
To read more about in vitro fertilization click here.
For oriental women, the ability to access cosmetic methods to enhance a more western look has reached another level as they embrace eyelash extensions.
In Japan, women have become fanatical with the new craze. The painstaking specialist salon procedure involves a hair by hair attachment of synthetic lashes taking at least 45 minutes to apply. This has become the latest beauty fad for Japanese women as they attempt to adopt a more western look.
The new cosmetic procedure has become widely popular with women of all ages. For the 20 somethings, this is the chance to emulate their manga heroines and for the middle-aged, a more sophisticated appearance.
Asuka Miyajima, 24, who works for a fashion firm said: ‘I do it for fun. Your eyes look so much wider and bigger. It looks like mascara but lasts about two weeks. And you don’t have to put on too much make-up.”
The common interpretation of the oriental facial feature has been frequently manipulated by many beauty crazes. Women are already undertaking other cosmetic procedures such as painful operations to lengthen their legs as well as skin peels or laser treatments to adopt a paler feature. Now, with the new phenomenon of permanent eyelash extensions to make eyes look bigger, it can be anticipated that other options to make an oriental person look more western will appear in the market.
It appears that this paranoia to disguise oriental features has become a common thing within the oriental community and it can be argued as to how far women will go to look more ‘westernised’.