Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Fears grow over Nepal's 'anti-women' constitution <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Nepal&#39;s proposed new constitution has sparked fury from women who say their citizenship, property and other rights are being curtailed by the document designed to draw a line under centuries of inequality.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lawmakers tabled a draft in parliament in June shortly after bickering political parties struck an historic deal on the long-awaited charter, spurred to negotiation by an earthquake in March that killed more than 8,800 people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But a series of sometimes violent protests have since hit the impoverished, Himalayan nation, with activists saying the charter has failed to address a string of concerns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Forty-year-old shop owner Rama Bista says the charter poses a major step back for women, in a country that has long favored men.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bista, who is married to an Indian man based in Nepal, has spent the last four years trying to secure citizenship for her two sons -- their legal right under the current constitution.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I cannot even speak of some of the things I&#39;ve been told. They tell me my children are not Nepali, that I should go to my husband&#39;s country,&quot; Bista told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Bista&#39;s already tough struggle is set to become impossible under the new charter which bars single parents from passing on their citizenship to their children and additionally says both parents must be Nepalese.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It will overturn a 2006 act that says children are eligible for citizenship as long as one parent is Nepalese.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Activists say the move could leave a million people stateless and will disproportionately affect women, who account for the vast majority of single parents in Nepal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bista says she is anxious about the future for her sons since citizenship is needed to get anything in Nepal from a driving licence to a bank account.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The draft also makes it easier for a Nepalese man to confer citizenship on his foreign spouse, while a Nepalese woman needs to be married 15 years to her foreign husband before even being allowed to apply.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Campaigners fear provisions could also be used to prevent Nepalese wives or widows from inheriting property unless stipulated in the deceased&#39;s will.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Instead of specifying that daughters can inherit ancestral property, the draft vaguely says &quot;all children&quot;. Activists are concerned this could be interpreted as sons and unmarried daughters only -- the wording used in the country&#39;s civil code.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The draft removes the explicit reference in the current constitution to &quot;sons and daughters&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The draft dismisses the identity of a woman and reflects our country&#39;s patriarchal mindset that seeks to maintain discriminatory practices,&quot; said Sapana Pradhan Malla who heads pressure group the Forum for Women, Law and Development.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Right to abortion fears</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Campaigners are also concerned the draft will be misused to restrict a woman&#39;s right to abortion which was legalized in 2002 in the socially conservative country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The charter bans sex-selective abortions, but activists say the provision is unnecessary since the practice is already illegal. They fear the charter will be used as a powerful tool to deny women abortions, by falsely accusing them of trying to abort girls in a country where boys are preferred.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This issue should not be dealt with in the constitution,&quot; said Sonali Regmi, Asia regional manager for the Center for Reproductive Rights.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We fear that the clause can be misused to limit a woman&#39;s right to safe abortion, a key reason for the decrease in Nepal&#39;s maternal mortality rates.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Parliament is expected to eventually vote on the long-awaited constitution which had promised to end years of political limbo in the impoverished nation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lawmakers were tasked with drafting the charter after a decade-long insurgency ignited by deep-rooted social, political and economic inequalities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A committee is now set to draw up recommendations for changes to the draft, following a series of public consultations around the country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In recent weeks, violence has marred the consultations, especially in the southern plains, home to the historically marginalized Madhesi community, many of whose members marry into families living across the border in India.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lawmakers have brushed off the protests and campaigners&#39; concerns, saying the draft is not intended to discriminate against anyone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The constitution is not anti-women,&quot; said ruling coalition lawmaker Bhim Rawal, who helped draft the document.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Every country has provisions to protect its nationality and sovereignty,&quot; Rawal told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Bista and others remain fearful the charter will close the door on rights they had fought years to get.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We call our country our motherland, and yet a mother&#39;s identity has no value,&quot; she said.</div> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:32:00 +0000 AFP 2455277 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/03/501010/nepal_08-03-15.jpg Tokyo's largest district OKs same-sex partner certificates <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Tokyo&#39;s largest district has said it will start issuing &quot;partnership&quot; certificates to same-sex couples from November, becoming the second in Japan to recognize such unions following a pioneering move by the capital&#39;s bustling Shibuya ward.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the certificates would not be legally binding, the Setagaya district council said it hoped they would encourage hospitals and landlords to ensure same-sex couples receive similar treatment to married people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Applicants must sign a written oath stating their intentions as part of the application process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The decision last week comes after next-door Shibuya district -- a business and shopping hub that is home to international firms and embassies -- passed an ordinance in March to start issuing the partnership certificates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was the first such recognition of same-sex unions in Japan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shibuya&#39;s certificates are expected to be issued from October.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Setagaya ward is the largest of Tokyo&#39;s 23 districts with a population of about 874,000 people, including a little over 6,000 foreigners.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The wards&#39; certificates will carry only symbolic significance, since the Japanese constitution identifies marriage as a union based on mutual consent of the parties from &quot;both sexes&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While Japan is largely tolerant of homosexuality, there is no specific legal protection for gay people, who complain that they may be prevented from visiting sick loved ones in hospitals or may be refused a tenancy because their relationship is not recognized.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:25:00 +0000 Abdallah Mostafa 2455276 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/03/501010/tokyo_08-03-15.jpg Survey reveals ambivalence of Turks to EU membership <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Turkish citizens have ambivalent feelings about their country&rsquo;s possible accession&nbsp;to the European Union, an EU sponsored public opinion poll has revealed.</p><p>Results of the survey, which was carried out by Eurobarometer, were published on Sunday.</p><p>Participants were asked whether Turkey&rsquo;s EU membership would be &ldquo;a good thing&rdquo;, a &ldquo;bad thing&rdquo; or &ldquo;neither good nor bad&rdquo; thing.</p><p>While 40 percent of the respondents said Turkey&rsquo;s EU membership would be &ldquo;bad&rdquo;, 33 percent said that the membership would be &ldquo;good&rdquo;, which was a five percent increase compared to the previous Eurobarometer results released six months ago.</p><p>However, 55 percent of the respondents also said that Turkey would benefit from being an EU member, with a 19 percent rise compared to the previous opinion survey, whereas 36 percent of respondents said that the country would not benefit from being a member in the 28-nation bloc.</p><p>The survey was carried out between May 16 and 27.</p><p>Turkey&rsquo;s EU accession talks began in 2005 and out of 35 policy chapters, 14 chapters have been opened and 17 remain blocked, including chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy and chapter 26 on education and culture, Turkey&rsquo;s Minister of European Affairs and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir said on November 11, 2014.</p><p>But the Cyprus issue remains a major political obstacle to Turkey&#39;s EU accession.</p><p>Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades resumed talks on reunifying the island following Akinci&rsquo;s election in April. Negotiations were resumed following a two-year hiatus in February 2013 but stalled in October last year after a row over mineral exploration around in the island.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:24:00 +0000 Anadolu Agency 2455265 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/03/499612/turks_to_eu_membership.jpg French beach returns to public after Saudi royal take-over <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Workers were busily returning a beach in southern France to its previous condition on Monday after the departure of Saudi King Salman, whose commandeering of the coastline had caused uproar among locals.</p><p>A few sun-lovers were replanting their parasols while the workers were dismantling controversial constructions, including an elevator from the beach to the king&#39;s grandiose villa, built only a fortnight ago for the royal visit.</p><p>King Salman made an early exit on Sunday from the Cote d&#39;Azur only eight days into what was billed as a month-long vacation.</p><p>At least half of his 1,000-strong delegation left with him from Nice airport to the Moroccan city of Tangiers, local officials said.</p><p>More than 150,000 people signed a petition against the closure of the strip of sand in front of the king&#39;s villa, which is located near Cannes, and the heavy security measures put in place during his stay.</p><p>Others were more welcoming, particularly local traders, who rolled out the red carpet for the monarch and his big-spending friends.</p><p>Only a few beach-goers showed up for the reopening on Monday, which is near the heavily populated sands of Golfe-Juan and also includes a nudist beach.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s the caprice of a billionaire,&quot; said retiree Jean-Paul, looking with disdain at the elevator and its unsightly concrete base.</p><p>&quot;I could understand privatising the beach for a week for security reasons, but a month is a bit much. It&#39;s a question of principle,&quot; he said before heading on to the nudist beach.</p> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:05:00 +0000 AFP 2455263 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/03/499612/french_beach_returns_to_public_after_saudi_royal_take-over.jpg