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Executive Summary for June 22nd

In this week’s gender equality news: the troubling relationship between sexual violence and work in India, Saudi crackdown on women’s rights activists continues and new findings on domestic worker exploitation in Hong Kong.

Published on June 22, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Threat of Sexual Violence Prevents Indian Women From Working

Rising rates of sexual violence in India are preventing women from joining the workforce, according to a new study.

The authors compared the increase in reports of violence against women with the country’s declining labor force participation rate for women, and found that there was a correlation between the two phenomena. The effect is compounded by the stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence.

Women’s employment has fallen from 36 percent to 24 percent in the past 10 years, while crimes against women jumped 26 percent in 2016 alone. This only accounts for reported cases; an estimated 99 percent of incidents of sexual violence go unreported in India.

In regions where rates of sexual violence are higher, the authors found, women are more likely to stay at home than travel to work. That does not mean they are safe from violence, however. The majority of sexual abuse in India is perpetrated by husbands.

Saudi Arabia Arrests More Activists Before Lifting Driving Ban

Saudi Arabia has stepped up its crackdown on women’s rights activists, days before the driving ban for women is lifted. As of June 24, Saudi Arabia will lose its status as the only country in the world to prohibit women from driving cars.

But in the lead-up to the ban’s lifting, the government has detained prominent gender equality activists, many of whom had long campaigned for the right to drive. Human Rights Watch reports that following a wave of arrests last month, another two activists have now been arrested. Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, Mohammad al-Rabea and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal are among those facing charges of treason.

Women in the kingdom have flocked to take driving lessons in time for the ban’s lifting, despite the lessons costing four to five times more for women than they do for men.

Hong Kong Domestic Workers Exploited by Agencies – Study

The majority of Hong Kong’s 380,000 domestic workers are exploited by predatory recruitment agencies, a study by the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions has found.

A full 96 percent of workers surveyed were employed under conditions that contravened the government’s Code of Practice, introduced in January 2017.

Of the 452 domestic workers who participated in the study, 57 percent had illegally been charged excessive fees by agencies, 25 percent had had their I.D. confiscated and 85 percent were not given the full 24 hours of rest they are entitled to each week.

Migrants’ rights activists and unions in Hong Kong are leading a campaign for better conditions for its domestic workers – most of whom are from the Philippines or Indonesia.

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