Can Karachi’s women-only pink buses drive change in Pakistan?

Harassment by men on public transport is one reason why female participation in the workforce stands at only 20%

At precisely 1.40pm, the bright pink bus packed with women leaves the depot and snakes its way through Karachi’s traffic. Two female conductors walk the aisle collecting the 50 rupee fare. This is the first women-only bus service in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

Every 20 minutes during rush hour and every hour at quieter times, six pink air-conditioned buses run along one of the city’s busiest routes from Frere Hall to Clifton Bridge.

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Outcry as South Korean president tries to scrap gender equality ministry to ‘protect’ women

Yoon Suk-yeol courted ‘anti-feminist’ male voters during election, and opponents say latest move threatens to be a major setback for women’s rights

South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol, has defended his plan to abolish the country’s gender equality ministry, insisting it will lead to an improvement in women’s rights.

Yoon, a conservative who took office in May, is expected to encounter fierce opposition to the move, which will have to be approved by the national assembly, where the liberal opposition Democratic party has a majority.

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China mulls bolstering laws on women’s rights and sexual harassment

Draft safeguards would mark major development in women’s rights as China faces calls for gender equality

China is considering strengthening its laws on women’s rights to provide more robust protection against gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The draft regulations come amid the rise of a nascent #MeToo movement in China, which activists say has been hampered by the country’s strict regime of censorship and oppression against all signs of dissent.

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Tennis star accuses Chinese ruling party official of #MeToo abuse

Online censors blocked Peng Shuai’s post on Weibo of Zhang Gaoli’s alleged assault over several years

The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has apparently accused a former vice-premier of sexual assault, engulfing the highest echelons of Beijing’s ruling Communist party in a #MeToo scandal for the first time.

Authorities scrambled to stop the allegations from spreading, with online censors even appearing to block the word “tennis”.

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‘Every man was drinking’: how much do bans on alcohol help women in India?

Women’s protests led to prohibition in Bihar but can alcohol bans end domestic abuse and harassment?

Holding sticks and brooms, the women marched to the liquor shop in the centre of Konar village. It was a rare ambush in the staunchly patriarchal Bihar state in eastern India. But they were at breaking point.

“In every village women were troubled by alcohol. Men harassed them on the streets. Husbands beat them at home,” says Sunita Devi, 52, a former seamstress who led the crowd. “When they saw us they gained courage that we can come together and fight.”

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‘I’m scared of being killed’: sex worker activists speak out

Rights defenders describe threats and abuse while working to protect their communities

A report has found that sex worker activists are among the most at risk human rights defenders in the world. Published on Thursday by Front Line Defenders following a four-year investigation, it found activists face multiple threats and violent attacks. Their visibility within their communities makes them more vulnerable to abuse, the report said.

Here, sex worker activists from Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and El Salvador share their experiences.

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Kris Wu arrest raises hopes for China’s #MeToo movement

Analysis: public opinion shifting, but reaction from authorities may have related more to crackdown on fame culture

It felt like a turning point. The arrest of one of China’s biggest pop stars on rape allegations had raised hopes that authorities were finally addressing the country’s #MeToo movement.

So many recent cases of harassment, abuse or violence against women had been swept under the carpet, excused or smothered by political censorship. But this was Kris Wu, known in China as Wu Yifan: a ubiquitous megastar with numerous international high-end brand endorsement deals.

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Worker at H&M supply factory was killed after months of harassment, claims family

Fashion brand to investigate the death of 20-year-old Jeyasre Kathiravel, reportedly killed by supervisor at Natchi Apparels

The family of a young garment worker at an H&M supplier factory in Tamil Nadu who was allegedly murdered by her supervisor said she had suffered months of sexual harassment and intimidation on the factory floor in the months before her death, but felt powerless to prevent the abuse from continuing.

H&M said it is launching an independent investigation into the killing of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a 20-year-old Dalit garment worker at an H&M supplier Natchi Apparels in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu, who was found dead on 5 January in farmland near her home.

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Pakistan’s #MeToo movement hangs in the balance over celebrity case

A popular actor was accused of harassment – now those who spoke against him are being charged under law meant to protect women

It takes a lot to rattle Leena Ghani. As an artist turned activist helping to raise the voices of Pakistan’s women, she has often fielded abuse, threats and harassment.

But when she learned, on a morning in late September, that police had charged her for criminal defamation, linked to Pakistan’s most high-profile #MeToo case, Ghani says she was shaken. “In terms of silencing and demonising people speaking out against sexual assault, it was a new low even for Pakistan,” she says.

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To tackle sexual violence in Bangladesh the culture of victim blaming must end

There are still those who ask ‘what was she wearing’. An urgent conversation is needed about toxic masculinity and consent

There has been growing outrage among Bangladeshi citizens over the past two weeks at a string of gruesome gang rapes and sexual assaults reported in the media. There is a deep lack of confidence that the victims will ever get justice, as well as anxiety over the traditionally-held view that a woman and her family lose “honour” when she is raped.

The question remains: did the woman ask to hold this honour that has been bestowed upon her? Is a woman’s honour held in her body? According to Ain O Salish Kendra, an organisation in Bangladesh that provides legal assistance to victims of violence, between January and September this year, men raped 975 women, killed 43 women after raping them, and attempted to rape 204 others. This is not the actual number of rape cases, but the figure that has been reported publicly – the true toll will be a lot higher.

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India’s classical music and dance ‘guru’ system hit by abuse allegations

Female musicians say abuse by gurus has been an open secret for years in a culture where ‘toxic and old-fashioned patriarchy’ holds sway

One of India’s most venerated cultural traditions – the centuries-old guru-shishya (disciple) method of learning classical music and dance – has been hit by allegations of sexual abuse.

A group of 90 female classical musicians issued a statement in September, alleging sexual abuse and exploitation of female disciples by their gurus. They described a “fear-driven culture of silence” that forced women to submit to the sexual demands of their gurus for fear of having to end their careers.

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#MeToo Bangladesh: the textile workers uniting against harassment

Women routinely face sexual assault and exploitation in factories, many of which supply western brands. A grassroots movement is helping victims to seek justice

Dolly Akhtar was only 16 when she started work in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, stitching clothing destined for shop floors in western countries thousands of miles away. She accepted the long hours and low pay, but what she wasn’t expecting was the sexual advances of her older, married line manager.

“When the line manager at the very first factory I worked at tried to get me to sleep with him, I was terrified,” she says. She left her job and found another but encountered similar problems there. “At the other factory, the management would curse and hit us. The men leered at us,” she says.

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How technology can help stop groping on public transport

While changing attitudes to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place, Japan is taking yet more measures to tackle a serious problem

Groping on public transport is a problem the world over, but the scale of it in Japan, where it is known as “chikan, is infamous. According to Tokyo’s metropolitan police department, 1,750 cases of groping or molestation were reported in 2017, with more than 50% of sexual harassment cases occurring on trains, and a further 20% in train stations. Some reports suggest that more than 75% of all Japanese women have been groped.

No wonder women there are looking for a deterrent. Introducing the latest gadget: a stamp that brands gropers with invisible ink, which police can then reveal with UV light. It is the latest measure to try to fix the problem. Others have included women-only train carriages – which are still occupied by groups of men in protest, despite having been introduced over two decades ago – and an app that enables victims to play a voice shouting “Stop it!” at ear-piercing volume or bring up a full-screen message reading: “There is a molester. Please help,” to other passengers.

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Indonesia pardons woman jailed for recording harassment

Baiq Nuril Maknun had been sentenced to six months for documenting boss’s lewd calls

Indonesia’s parliament has unanimously approved an amnesty for a woman who was jailed for documenting sexual harassment by her employer.

Baiq Nuril Maknun, 37, who worked at a school on the island of Lombok, recorded a telephone conversation with the headteacher, whom she accused of making repeated unwanted sexual advances. A colleague used the audio to lodge an official complaint against the man.

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South Korea employers face jail for sacking harassed staff under new bullying law

Abuse by those in power is so widespread that there is a word for it – ‘gabjil’

New legislation has come into effect in South Korea that could see employers jailed if they unfairly dismiss employees harassed at work.

Employees in South Korea have traditionally been expected to turn a blind eye to abusive behaviour by those in power – a phenomenon so commonplace that there is a word for it, “gabjil”. A recent government survey found that two-thirds of workers had experienced harassment on the job, while 80% had witnessed it.

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