Posts Tagged ‘international’

Mass female genital mutilation events held in Indonesia

January 19, 2008 7 comments

Female circumcisers

I was just going to heap this into “Lots of news”, but when I read it, I knew I actually had to do a piece about it. The New York Times has an article about female “circumcisers” who cut off a piece of a girls genitalia, in Indonesia. It is female genital mutilation, but it just looks more sanitary and humane because it’s sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation.

The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment.

Oh yay! A refreshment! That’s really going to make everything so much better. It’s like they think it’s so much better because the “area” is swabbed with some antiseptic and the girls are given a gift. Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

But the best part is, is that people actually think there are benefits to this. Benefits to cutting some girly genitalia off.

“One, it will stabilize her libido,” he said through an interpreter. “Two, it will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband. And three, it will balance her psychology.”

First, bull shit. Alright, my libido is perfectly fine, and I have all my genitalia. Then again, I guess these people want to take away her libido, so that the man’s sexual pleasure is the main focal point. And you know, that’s totally OK, because women are just baby makers! And yet again, something else that has to do with men. She’ll be more beautiful in the eyes of her husband? Seriously, that is the most messed up thinking one could ever have. I know I’m being potentially offensive here, but FGM is very offensive to me. The second “benefit” just reinforces that men are more important than women and always will be. And the third “benefit,” I don’t really get. Balance her psychology? Yeah, I don’t think so. It may definitely make her have psychological problems, but it’s not going to balance anything.

There are absolutely no health, sexual or psychological benefits for FGM. It is a disgusting practice, and unfortunately the mothers who bring their daughters to this “mass circumcising event” believe that this is the right thing to do and that it will actually improve their daughter in some way, or are just going along with the social expectations of it all.

This article is definitely a must-read and it has several pictures from the event (none are graphic), which do show how horrifying it can be for a young girl.

The war against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

January 14, 2008 Leave a comment

This absolutely breaks my heart and disgusts me so much at the same time. We know that a civil war is going on in Congo, but something we rarely hear about is the fact that women are continually and systematically raped during these kinds of conflicts. We know it’s something that happens, but we don’t like to think about and don’t bother to think about it because we feel like we can’t do anything about it. Maybe there are a few more reasons that you can come up with! But nonetheless, it’s important to know that this is going on. I’m not going to quote a lot of the gory details here, because it’s graphic, but please read the article. It’s a must.

Anneka Van Woudenberg, who is the senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch, explains the raping that is occurring in Congo.

I think what’s different in Congo is the scale and the systematic nature of it, indeed, as well, the brutality. This is not rape because soldiers have got bored and have nothing to do. It is a way to ensure that communities accept the power and authority of that particular armed group. This is about showing terror. This is about using it as a weapon of war.

I honestly don’t have too many words about this. It is disgusting and disheartening to know that thousands of women are becoming victims of “femicide” because of this war. But even further really, these women are having genocide committed against them. Many people simply think that killing is the only definition of genocide and just think of Hitler, but according to the UN Convention on Genocide, one of the definitions is “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.” This is clearly happening, and it’s clearly intentional.

When will this genocide end? And why is it being ignored?

Greek women protest by going in men-only sanctuary

January 10, 2008 Leave a comment

About six Greek women have protested the rule of the “all-male” monastic sanctuary in northern Greece. This is a 1000-year-old rule, and entering this sanctuary was a “purely symbolic act.”

Parliament member Litsa Amanatidou Paschalidou was among the women who entered the sanctuary. She called it a “purely symbolic act,” which was meant to send a message to the church to “pursue policies which serve the public and not its financial interest.” The protesters, who say the monks are making illegal claims on their property, broke away from a rally of more than 400 people and evaded a police cordon, entering Athos grounds.

So, this is a land problem, not a problem with the only-male sanctuary, but it’s pretty clear that if they violated a rule that has been around for 1000 years, then they would make some impact, as women. It’s impressive to see that women are taking the charge on this land and property issue. Hey, maybe women just have more of a sense at what’s going on is bullshit, considering they can’t enter the sanctuary…because they have a vagina, which makes them soooo inferior.

Uh, I freaking love these women!

January 7, 2008 1 comment

A group of women in India have started their own political party. Rock on. That’s so sweet! Suman Krishan Kant is the president of this 100 member (almost) all-women political party, who is also the widow of the former vice president, Krishan Kumar Kant.

“It is for the first time in the history of India that a national political party has been formed by women,” she says. “In fact it is the only party of women in the world. We need to ensure that the issues of priority concern to half of its population remain in the forefront of the pressing issues on India’s national agenda.”

Presently, women only hold 8 percent of seats in parliament, and the party wants that to change to 50 percent, which would be an amazing thing to see, but it’s also an amazing task to take on at the same time. It is true that some women do hold top seats in parliament, but that is few and far between, as gender inequality is still rampant in India, even though women have legal equality.

In November, the World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap index put India among the world’s 10 most gender-biased economies, with women’s participation in the paid work force at 36 percent.

Wow. These women are completely extraordinary and inspirational. And they make the point of “not hating men, and wanting and needing their support,” which is really great, because it’s about equality, and working together to create a better world; not squashing the other gender. It is just so encouraging to see something like this happen in India, and like Kant said, it really is the only (almost) all-women’s political party. Just, so cool. I love these women.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

December 27, 2007 Leave a comment

Most of you probably already know this, but it’s good to put it here anyway. Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan was assassinated after addressing a large group of her supporters.

Not only was she killed, but 22 others as well. The President said that the people who assassinated her, and killed 22 others, were the “extremists that Pakistan is fighting a war against.”

Luckily, I do not think that this is a true women’s issue. Her father and brothers were also assassinated. But all in all, we have to mourn the loss of this great woman who did so much for her country, and just by being a political leader, many women as well.

The sex slave industry in Britain

December 21, 2007 1 comment

Apparently there are human trafficking problems happening in Britain, and some political leaders are wanting it to stop before Britain becomes “the sex slave capital of Europe.” There is a new legislation being put forth that will make it illegal for a man to pay for sex.

Public prostitution and “kerb crawling” is already illegal in Britain, but this would go further.

The idea is to extend successful action against kerb crawlers to brothels and massage parlours where the majority of trafficked sex slaves in Britain are forced to operate.

It’s essentially hoping to stop the trafficking obviously, but it’s also hoping that men learn to take responsibility for feeding into the sex slave industry by visiting places like massage parlours and brothels.

I think it definitely has a good intention and should be commended…but after reading the comment section, it looks like people (mostly men) disagree with this. What do you all think? Bad idea? Good idea? Not looking at the real issues?

Zimbabwe women are forced to give sexual favours to survive

November 30, 2007 1 comment

Because of the economic state in Zimbabwe, women are having to give sexual favours to men to be able to support their families.

Miriam Madziwa writes that each time the Zimbabwe dollar tumbles, women’s survival chances take a corresponding knock, as it means more sexual favours to seal deals with men, who by virtue of their jobs or connections are able to make or break women’s survival attempts.

For the cash-strapped women, sex offers an easy and cheap, albeit risky, means of supporting their families. In return, they are able to secure scarce goods as well as discounts on transport and accommodation and their businesses flourish.

So sad.

Categories: international, sex Tags: ,

Rape victim almost strangled to death

November 26, 2007 Leave a comment

I hate hearing about rape stories, but new ones seem to pop up everyday. This one is from New Zealand, where the 21-year-old student was almost strangled to death by the rapist with a black nylon rope.

He tried to make small talk with her, then attacked her, Detective Senior Sergeant Steve McGregor said today.

The victim was dragged into a car park off Rattray St, where she was raped and repeatedly beaten about her face and body for two hours, he told Radio New Zealand.

“What is very much a concern is during the course of the rape it would appear that he has tried to subdue her by strangling her with a length of black nylon rope.”

At the end of the rape the man mislaid the rope but continued to manually strangle her, Mr McGregor said.

The police think it’s “lucky” that they aren’t looking at a homicide. Well, no, I don’t think that they’re necessarily lucky. This young woman is still going to be traumatized for the rest of her life, most likely.

Categories: international, rape Tags: ,

Brazil not down with abortions

November 22, 2007 Leave a comment

Brazil has rejected the government-supported proposal during the 13th National Conference of Health to legalize abortion in the country. Sad.

The proposal on abortion was introduced as a “recommendation” by feminist groups and portrayed abortion as “a public health problem” that should be addressed through the law. Supporters of the proposal were booed by the majority of the participants.

But, the NCH decisions don’t have any legal impact, which is a good thing…but they still affect public policy quite a bit. It really just seems like the Brazilian people are against abortions, not the government who can actually change things. Hopefully this will change in the future, because abortions are necessary for a woman’s health in some situations. And I think they know this full well, as in 2006, some major health issues were infant and maternal mortality. But Brazil is still very conservative in their Catholic ways, as 74% of the population are Catholic, so I see, although I don’t agree with, why they don’t want abortion to be legalized.

Venezuela to protect gay rights!

November 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Cool news.

The new Venezuelan Constitution, which will go to the vote in December, will be the first in Latin America to protect citizens on the basis of their sexual preferences.

Under the new amendments added to the constitution, sexual orientation will be added to the categories protected under human rights.

A step in the right direction! There’s no reason that sexual orientation shouldn’t be protected under human rights.

Pope watch!

November 20, 2007 1 comment

Ok. I think the Pope is…an interesting fellow. I won’t go too far, considering the outrage Sinead O’Connor caused with her whole “rip a picture of the Pope” on SNL. But, ok, I think he, along with the general philosophies of Catholicism are, well, off. At least a little. Probably a lot. This is the latest from the Pope’s trip to Kenya

Pope Benedict XVI accused international agencies of promoting abortion in Africa and blamed “disordered notions” of marriage and the family for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases there.

He blames the “disordered notions” of marriage and family for the spread of STD’s? Is he serious? There’s a spread of STD’s because people aren’t using protection! And unfortunately, sexual violence and rape are very prevalent in Africa.

It’s clear that he doesn’t want to see the spread of STD’s…maybe he, along with George Bush, should reconsider the condom. But will that ever happen? I doubt it.


November 20, 2007 Leave a comment

I’m going to India in May and I’ll be there for a month! I just had to come here and let everyone know! I’ll be working with women and children in Kolkata and surrounding areas. I’ll be teaching about the positive benefits of women’s empowerment and local capacity-building, as well as educating street children and orphans.

Soooooo excited!

Afghan girls get tough to beat the gender barriers

November 19, 2007 Leave a comment

A group of teenage girls are training in boxing, which they think will in turn help break down some of the gender barriers that Afghanistan has.

The boxers belong to a new generation of Afghan youth, challenging stereotypes that persist five years after the fall of the Taliban. They train in a room in Kabul’s main sports stadium, a venue for public executions during Taliban rule in the late 1990s.

Boxing is helping them gain confidence and self-respect, the girls say. Their goal: to be Afghanistan’s first women’s boxing team.

I think this is pretty cool. It’s awesome to see a group of teenage girls wanting to make a change and actually doing something about it. They aren’t just waiting for the change to come to them! They discuss how sports isn’t encouraged for girls and women, because it’s supposedly not good for them.

“Many people are trying to stop us from participating in sports by saying it is not good for women,” said 15-year-old Shabnam, who uses only one name. “But I think if you are interested in doing something, you should avoid listening to what people think about you. Sports is a way out of violence for Afghanistan.”

Seems like a confident, determined group of teenage girls about to make a difference!

Gender inequality increases in the United States

November 14, 2007 Leave a comment

According to the 2007 Gender Gap Report, the U.S. has dropped 8 places in the report, from 23th to 31st.

Sweden, Norway and Finland came in the first 3 spots. Neighbouring Canada got 18th place, while Mexico came in at 93.

1000 misogynist comments

November 12, 2007 Leave a comment

1000 Terrible Things...

Meredith Burgmann and Yvette Roberts, two of the top feminist academics in Australia have compiled a book that quotes 1000 terrible things that men have said about women. They call it a “portfolio of piggery.”

“We’d like this to be seen as a way of poking fun at these men but it’s also a serious piece of research into misogyny.”

That is most definitely is. Some examples include “”In the old days, you were a good guy if you lifted your feet when she was vacuuming.”, and “”Come back when your IQ is as high as your skirt?”

Of course that’s only two, so you’ll have to find out the other 998 when you read the book!

India is trying for gender equality

November 3, 2007 1 comment

India is one of those Asian countries that have “missing daughters” and the government is attempting to end this gender discrimination.

One of their fist plans is to have incentives for family with daughters. This has been submitted to the Planning Commission by the Women and Child Development Ministry.

In an effort to reduce gender discrimination against girl children, the government plans to provide cash and non-cash incentives to parents in backward districts to encourage them to register the birth of daughters, send them to school regularly and not rush them into marriage as soon as they are 18 years old.

Considering girls deserve to be registered at birth, just like boys and they also deserve an education, I am very much in support of this. I just hope that some Indian families will see these incentives as a good thing and take them!

The gross enrollment rate of the girl child in schools is still lower than boys’ and their dropout rate very high. According to the National Family Health Survey-3, 57 per cent of girls are married before the legally marriageable age of 18. In some backward areas, the proportion of child marriages is as high as 80 per cent of marriages of girls.

These statistics are definitely discouraging and shocking. Recently, I’ve been reading Gandhi’s autobiography, and he had a child marriage, of course this was in the 1800’s and it was hell. I can’t even imagine child marriages still occurring, as they obviously aren’t in the best interest of any child.

Anyway, this plan is going to discussed on November 8 by the Committee. My hope is that this will actually be able to bring some more gender equality, while it’s not much, it really is a start. Ultimately, no family should feel they need incentives to have daughters, or keep her in school, but if this is the way things need to be done, then so be it.

A “polite” rapist?

November 2, 2007 Leave a comment

In Australia, a man has been sexually attacking women (the article never says rape), while wearing women’s clothing. Three so far.

“His first words were `I’m not going to hurt you’. Then he asked me to undo my pants.”

The woman said her attacker was softly spoken and had a lisp.

“He had quite a distinct voice at the end of certain words, it was quite a gentle voice,” she said.

Kind of weird that he seems like a polite man, even though he’s a horrible man because he’s sexually attacking, possibly raping, several women. Police expect him to continue doing so, and are tryingn to link the crimes and figure out who the hell this disgusting man is.

Where have we seen this before…?

October 28, 2007 Leave a comment

This is pretty cool.

The first lady in Argentina will most likely win the presidency. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is currently the wife of President Nestor Kirchner, who stepped aside so that she could run. Sure, there might be political reasons behind it, as the article states that they might like the idea of “holding power for as many as four consecutive four-year terms.” But I’ll take it. She’s been a Senator for three-terms, so it definitely seems like this couple has been running the country! I sense some equality, which is fantastic. And it’s also great to know that the Argentine people are ready for their 2nd woman president!