12 December 2021
• Catholic Women Urge Vatican To Sign Europe Rights Convention
• The WalkSafe App Helping Keep Women Safe On The Streets In UK
• Incarcerated Indigenous Women Find Hope For The Future Selling Beadwork From Jail
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Catholic Women Urge Vatican to Sign Europe Rights Convention
Pope Francis delivers his speech during an audience with members of the Italian Air Force, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (Vincenzo Pinto/Poo
By Nicole Winfield
Dec. 11, 2021
ROME (AP) — A consortium of Catholic women’s groups is calling on the Holy See to join the Council of Europe and to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the Vatican should show consistency by expressing its firm commitment to protecting human rights.
In a petition marking the Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations, the groups said the Holy See is recognized internationally as a sovereign state and presents itself as a firm promotor of human rights and dignity. Yet they noted the Vatican hasn’t followed up by adhering to the European Convention, regarded as the gold standard for rights protections around the world.
“For years, the Holy See has acted like a state in its own right. This gives rise to rights, but also to duties,” wrote the signatories, which are European members of the Catholic Women's Council, an international umbrella group, .
The Holy See enjoys observer status at the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and has ratified a host of U.N. and Council of Europe conventions. They include the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. Convention against Torture, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other weapons conventions.
The convention obliges signatories to respect human rights, including the right to life, liberty, security, freedom of expression, assembly, religion and conscience. It prohibits torture, slavery, forced labor and discrimination based on race, religion, gender or political beliefs.
Signatories must also ensure that defendants receive fair trials before independent and unbiased judges. The convention provides recourse to the European Court of Human Rights for ultimate appeals after national appeals are exhausted.
The Vatican is an absolute monarchy in which the pope wields supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power. It would be loath to allow European commissions to evaluate its policies forbidding the ordination of women, for example, or to subject decisions of the Vatican’s criminal or ecclesial tribunals to appeals at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
Yet the pope frequently lectures European leaders on protecting human rights and human dignity, most recently during a visit this month to Cyprus and Greece where he chided Europe for its failure to welcome migrants.
The women's groups that participated in the petition include Catholic Women Speak in Britain; We Are Church in Ireland, Germany and Austria; Women for the Church in Italy; Voices of Faith in Rome and Liechtenstein, as well as similar progressive Catholic groups in Spain, France, Croatia and Switzerland.
The WalkSafe App Helping Keep Women Safe On The Streets In UK
Founder Emma Kaye came up with the concept after experiencing harassment, groping and flashing.
By Shiona McCallum
Half of all women have felt unsafe at some point walking alone in the dark, according to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Sexual harassment against females has been under the spotlight for most of this year, with women across the UK turning to their own methods to feel better when they are out at night.
Since the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, the WalkSafe app has had a surge in popularity, and is now the fastest-growing safety app in the UK.
"Our app is really bitter-sweet because, of course, we love that we're busy. However, we really wish it didn't have to exist. No-one wants to live in a world where we need a safety app, but sadly there is a place for it," she said.
WalkSafe will have a new sat-nav feature coming early next year, which will include a live map where your family and friends will be able to track your journey and chat with you in real time. For now its unique selling point is a map which allows people to plan their safest route home, by looking at recent crime data.
Ms Kaye said: "Our app encourages people to have precautionary measures to avoid crime, rather than reactionary measures when in an unfortunate situation.
"We have senior ex-Metropolitan Police detectives and crime analysts comb through this data, and categorise it into areas the user would want to know about. By looking at the crime patterns, users can identify crime hotspots so they can plan safer routes."
At the University of Bath, researchers are trying to solve the problem of safety products which are difficult to physically activate. They are developing a women's smartwatch app called Epowar which would automatically send alerts if it senses the user is in distress - by monitoring heart rate and body motion.
Co-founder, student E-J Roodt, said the idea came to her while jogging in a badly-lit park, and worrying about the risk of an attack.
"When I saw that smartwatches were being used to detect heart attacks I thought, well, maybe that technology could be applied to women's safety," she said.
Although the sample size is small, the app uses artificial intelligence to recognise distress, and responds if a user is attacked when walking or running alone.
Ms Roodt said: "It occurred to us that a smartwatch with this app may be a way to alert others if a woman is restrained or struggling.
"The key is that it would all happen automatically, and an assailant would have little or no time to prevent this - which is not always possible with conventional panic buttons, rape alarms or your mobile phone."
It has an emergency alarm feature which is voice-activated. It then automatically starts live-streaming video and audio to chosen contacts, and records everything that is happening.
The features of the app are based on the experience of his daughter, Charlen, who was raped. Charlen - who's waived her right to anonymity in order to speak out on the issue - thinks if she had had bSafe, she wouldn't have had to struggle as much with the guilt and shame she felt.
Crown Prosecution Service data for 2020 shows that of the 58,845 rapes recorded, only 2,102 were prosecuted, with 1,439 resulting in convictions.
bSafe has also been of interest to other app companies. Mr Larsen said: "We are currently developing a API-platform so we can easily implement these features in other apps."
In July the Home Office launched a £5 million fund to help improve the safety of women in public spaces at night. Some of the successful bids include initiatives involving technology.
Cheshire police are improving current call handling technology to provide an instant visible and reassuring response to a female calling for support.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority is promoting access to an online link with safety information for women on public transport, such as bus tracking, so there is no longer a need to stand alone at a bus stop.
Technology can also be misused by those seeking to harm or frighten people. So, for instance, the same technology that allows you to find your lost smartphone can be used by someone wanting to track or stalk someone.
Rachel Horman-Brown, chairwoman of the charity, said: "Many victims are tracked and monitored through their phones or tablets by spyware.
"Spyware is concerning as it can enable a stalker to switch on the camera on a victim's mobile phone, so that they can see and hear what is happening. They can also read and send text messages from the victim's phone, as well as tracking their whereabouts."
The proliferation of tracking devices, like Apple AirTags or The Tile, which help you find your wallet, keys or luggage, has also led to an increase in fears of stalking.
"These small inexpensive tags can potentially make it very easy for a stalker to hide one in the victim's car or personal possessions, and then be able to track their victim's whereabouts," said Ms Horman-Brown.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive at Women's Aid, believes the issue of safety cannot be solved by tech alone: "Whilst technology - such as safety apps on phones and smartwatches - can play a role in helping women feel safer on the streets, these interventions are temporary sticking plasters, which ignore the real cause of male violence against women.
"Women feel unsafe on our streets, not because of a lack of street lighting or safety apps, but because of the culture of sexism and misogyny, which makes violence against women and girls all too common. It must not be tolerated any longer.
"Far too many women continue to tell us that their experiences at the hands of violent men are belittled, disbelieved and dismissed by police and the criminal justice system - the very services that are supposed to protect us.
"We must focus on challenging the sexist attitudes that are deeply rooted in these services and systems, so that women can walk home feeling confident that they are safe and protected."
Incarcerated Indigenous women find hope for the future selling beadwork from jail
Dec 11, 2021
Tryli Anderson's beadwork has come a long way since she first picked up the skill a few years ago from a roommate at the Women's Correctional Centre in Headingley.
Now, she's one of more than a dozen Indigenous inmates at the Manitoba facility finding pride, purpose and hope for the future selling their wares with the help of a friend on the outside.
"These women feel great that people want to buy their beading and people want to buy their art," Anderson told CBC's Weekend Morning Show host Stephanie Cram over the phone from the jail just west of Winnipeg.
The 40-year-old said some of her first beadwork went to her kids, who at first couldn't believe their mom had made what they were seeing.
She also sent a piece to her friend in Winnipeg, who posted a picture of it online. That's when the messages started to pour in from people asking where they could get one.
That friend, Sandra Burling, said she feels lucky to now be able to help Anderson and the 15 other women share their talent with people across the world on an Instagram account she's set up to showcase the items.
So far, orders for beaded items like lighter cases, rosaries, earrings and lanyards have come in from across Canada, the U.S. and even as far away as Australia.
Anderson said for her, that income means being able to send some money to her kids and gradually save up for when she's released so she doesn't fall into old patterns and end up back in jail.
While she's originally from Pinaymootang First Nation, Anderson became a permanent ward of Child and Family Services at age eight. She spent most of her childhood being bounced around to different homes.
"It had a huge impact on me, being in care and not being wanted anywhere and being moved and moved and moved to numerous foster homes and placements," she said.
She was first incarcerated at age 18, and again a decade later when she got involved in drugs while battling addiction. Anderson said she's been in and out of jail since then — but she's determined to change her path.
"All this that happened to me, the trauma and stuff, it wasn't my fault. And I've learned to fully forgive myself, I guess, and try and live differently.
"Knowing that they've made this money on their own in a positive and good way [so] that they can actually set themselves [up] when they get out."
And while being disconnected from her home community growing up meant she didn't have traditional teachings about her culture, she said she's glad to have the chance to reconnect now.
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