Women's Place

In Pakistan:
MULTAN, Pakistan - Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers.

In Kuwait:
KUWAIT CITY, 8 March 2005 — Hundreds of Kuwaiti women rallied outside Parliament yesterday to press for their political rights.

“Women’s rights now,” “Shariah does not contain anything against women’s rights,” read placards, many of them in the blue color symbolizing the struggle of women in Kuwait.

More than 500 people, mostly women but also including a number of male liberal sympathizers, took part in the rally.

Young Kuwaiti women were among the demonstrators, several of whom expressed optimism that they would finally win the right to vote and run for public office despite opposition.

The Kuwaiti Parliament, meanwhile, agreed yesterday to a government request to speed up moves to look into the bill that would grant women the vote, but did not set a date for the proposed debate. The chamber yesterday requested its interior and defense committee, which is dominated by tribal MPs, to promptly consider the government-sponsored bill before referring it to the full house.

In Burma:
Charm Tong, now a poised young woman of 23, has been an enemy of the Burmese state since she was six. Her parents, members of the persecuted Shan nationality, sent her across into Thailand at that age to escape the pillaging Burmese army, notorious for raping girls as young as four.

Charm Tong grew up essentially an orphan, watching friends forced out of school to work as farmhands on Thai plantations, or as domestic workers or prostitutes. By the time she was 17 she had become a human rights activist.

While Burma's paranoid generals may reveal only their own insecurity when they lock up 84-year-olds, you can't help but think they are right to fear Charm Tong. As she talks about the suffering in her native country, she radiates coiled fury, disciplined determination and empathy. At an age when many Americans still bring laundry home to their parents, she has helped found a school for refugees, a network of women activists, a center to counsel rape survivors and to train other counselors, a program to educate women about writing a democratic constitution, and weaving and cooking enterprises to help fund all these ventures.

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