We are a group of EVS volunteers working for the Infinite Opportunities Association Ngo in Sofia, Bulgaria. We are part of a European campaign focused on the protection of human rights and the spreading of European values on the internet. This is our blog. Here you can find information about our experience in Bulgaria and other interesting news connected to the on-line tolerance platform. Sharing is Caring!
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Looking for freedom in Asia
The story: Saudi Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18 years old, was on vacation in Kuwait with her family. Without her parents knowing, she took a plane and tried to flee to Australia. She had renounced Islam, and she was afraid of her family, of her country, and for her life. As soon as she arrived to the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, to take a connection flight, she was held by Saudi embassy officials and had her passport confiscated. She asked for the protection of Thai immigration officials, which escorted her to a transit hotel. She then barricaded herself inside and posted several pictures saying she was seeking refugee status from any country that would protect her from getting harmed or killed due to leaving her religion. Her Twitter account attracted more than 50,000 followers in less than 48 hours and her story grabbed the attention of foreign governments as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which eventually granted her the refugee status. Al-Qunun's case reached the international community thank to a global social media campaign started by her supporters and human rights activists (using the hashtag #saverahaf), who are trying to urge the authorities in Thailand not to deport the teen back. The incident happens as Saudi Arabia faces scrutiny over the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Saudi Arabia and women’s rights: In Saudi Arabia, apostasy laws make it illegal for a Muslim to change his or her religion or to renounce Islam. The country adheres to strict interpretations of Sunni Islam, and has a long history of preventing women from taking on a larger role in society. Male guardians have the power to decide whether they can marry and get divorce, travel or get a job. Moreover, Saudi women who flee their families can face serious harm from relatives, especially if returned against their will. However, there has been encouraging news from Saudi Arabia in the past year, which leaves room for hope. In June 2018, Saudi Arabia issued driving licences to women for the first time in decades, just weeks before a ban on female drivers was lifted. On Sunday 6 January 2019, Saudi courts were enabled by the government to notify women by text message when they get divorced, in a new regulation aiming at ending the many cases of men secretly ending marriages without informing their wives.
In light of International Women and Girls in Science Day, we interviewed Marta Cortesão, a young female portuguese Astrobiologist. She is currently a PhD Student at the Space Microbiology research group at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. Marta deals mainly with the study of fungi and microbes and how they survive in extreme conditions studying their adaptation to spaceflight and outerspace conditions. Throughout your childhood and teenage years, did you have any career aspirations? When I was a kid I wanted to be a policewoman, and for many years I kept thinking one day I would be a musician. In my first year of high school I wanted to be a forensic doctor (CSI style) but I ended up quitting that aspiration soon after I found out that a forensic doctor was first and foremost a medical doctor. I guess what I wanted from the CSI life was to be the scientist in the lab doing experiments that help answer questions! What discovery or invention inspires you
Only 9 European countries legally define rape as “sex without consent”, all the others (including other 22 EU member states) consider that, for this type of sexual assault to be considered actual rape, there has to be some sort of form of force or violence involved. Some countries have even yet to criminalise marital rape. This means that, if a woman is raped but the perpetrator doesn’t use force, or if she does not fight back, if there are no signs of forced penetration or violence, it is not considered rape by the law. In 2020, rape culture is still very much alive and women’s safety continues undermined and overlooked. The shift in the legal definition of rape to “sex without consent” may seem not revolutionary enough to some but, the fact is that many women are raped without any signs of violence and when they do report it to the police, they realize that nothing can be done for them because the assault does not fit the definition of the crime they are reporting.