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Bibi Special: War of Words

The media today is full of stories about the arrest of British teacher Gillian Gibbons in Sudan after her young pupils chose the Islamic prophets name for their teddy bear. Arrested on a blasphemy charge she may face 40 lashes as punishment. Then theres the Guardians report that Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin has gone into hiding following a series of angry protests, which have erupted around her works; deemed insulting to Muslims. The protests by Muslim groups escalated into full-scale riots and she is now under police guard at a safe house in New Delhi.

Condemned for her extreme liberal views Nasrin has allegedly called for the Quran to be rewritten and has outspoken views on Islamic women and their place in society. Her novel Shame is currently banned in Bangladesh and she has faced condemnation from Muslim clerics and currently has a bounty price on her head.

Nasrin has received an outpouring of support from fellow writers but the case highlights the price of free speech when religious sensitivities and strict codes of conduct make it hard for women to express their views.

Another story that has received little coverage but is significant nonetheless is news that an initiative has been launched in Turkey enabling police officers to use their powers to combat violence against women. The new project to be launched next month was announced at a conference by the state minister for women and family affairs.

Meanwhile, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, of which Amnesty is a part, is set to release a report called Map of Gaps, which will examine the provision of services across the UK for women who have experienced violence. The report highlights huge differences across the country. Heres hoping therell be some good media coverage tomorrow.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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