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Day 5 of Men’s Health Week and there are plenty of other great examples of organizations working to promote healthy sexual behavior in young men through engaging and innovative programing. Today we speak with our colleagues at Men Can Stop Rape.

Why young men?

Promoting an understanding of the ways in which traditional masculinity contributes to sexual assault, relationship violence, power dynamics and other forms of men’s violence against women is one of MCSR key components towards the development of Healthy Masculinity for young men in our programs.  A young man that embraces  healthy masculinity, is able to think about: (more…)

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This post has been cross-posted on the collaborative blog Feminists-At-Large. 

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Glenn Beck, a conservative television and radio host, revealed his family history of rape and abuse today, on his network, The Blaze. This revelation, however, was not intended to demonstrate solidarity with or validate the experiences of survivors. Rather, it comes in response to criticism he has received after Stu Burguiere claimed that college sexual assault statistics are inflated and mocked scenarios representing sexual coercion and assault, on Wonderful World of Stu,a show on Beck’s own network.

Beck told the “Left-Wing Sites” who demonstrated outrage at the clip “Don’t youever preach to me about what I can say and cannot say about rape,” and defends the segment by saying that the supposed inflation of sexual assault statistics “cheapens the horror of real rape.”

Yes, “real rape” – we can add that to the list with Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “forcible rape” or former Congressman Todd Akin’s (R- MO) “legitimate rape.”

Beck continued on to say that the inflation was intended to make “every college-age male into Genghis Khan.” And while I’m not sure whether we’re referring to Khan as violent or sexually prolific, regardless, I’m unimpressed by another person more concerned about the rare men who are falsely accused of perpetrating sexual assault, rather than the inordinate and wholly unacceptable number of survivors.

The skit is absolutely deplorable and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the reality of sexual assault. In light of the Isla Vista shooting and the proliferation of literature on the effect of misogyny, and the Pick Up Artist (PUA) and Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) movements on the perpetrator, Elliot Rodgers, I can’t help but wonder how this video would be perceived by PUAs and MRAs alike. The invalidation of survivors’ experiences, the complete denial of evidence, the notion that the feminist movement is a threat to men- a video like this is exactly the type of ‘proof’ PUAs and MRAs use to justify their beliefs and behaviors.

My first issue with the video is the intended ‘debunking’ of sexual assault statistics; my second, is the mockery made of sexual coercion and assault ‘scenarios.’

A range of studies have been done on sexual assault, and while I haven’t scoured the methodology sections of the two surveys with which Burguiere takes umbrage, the data consistently shows that at least 15% of college-aged women experience completed or attempted sexual assault. The most comprehensive survey of 3,187 women on 32 college campuses indicated that the rate is 25%, with 84% being assaulted by someone known to the survivor, or what we call “acquaintance sexual assault.”

It is easy to get caught up in the numbers. As a Sexual Assault Peer Educator at Georgetown University, I was often asked how our statistics compare to the national average, assessing the severity of the issue on the basis of whether we were doing ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than other schools. However, as Nora West, feminist activist and a fellow Peer Educator says:

“Those numbers are huge and they are scary, but quite frankly I don’t care about those numbers, and you shouldn’t either. What I see in those numbers is that assault happens on Georgetown’s campus. It happens here.”

One is too many, however, people love to dissect the numbers, it is a defense mechanism, it is a way deny the reality of our rape culture and the epidemic of sexual assault in America and on our college campuses.

Burguiere takes issue with the wording of the questions on these surveys- he believes it is too inclusive. One question states “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had sex with you,” which Burguiere finds misleading because drunk sex happens all the time (!?!) and haven’t you ever seen a beer commercial that includes drinking and the “strong insinuation” of an impending hookup?!? Yes, Burguiere, drunk sex happens, and is not necessarily rape, that’s why the question explicitly asks the respondent if they were unable to consent.

Burguiere then challenges six phrases used in these surveys to ascertain if the respondent has been sexually assaulted, intending to ‘prove’ how inflated the stats are, intending to show how these scenarios are totally not sexual assault. He finds it absurd that “pressuring someone to have sex with you by telling them lies,” “making promises about the future you know are untrue to get sex,” “threatening to end your relationship to get sex,” “threatening to spread rumors to get sex,” “repeatedly asking for sex to get sex,” and “acting sad to get sex” are all considered to be forms of sexual assault.

What Burguiere doesn’t understand is that these scenarios don’t just involve a disappointed man and a traumatized woman [my use of “man” and “woman” are merely intended to reflect his use of a man and a woman as characters in these scenarios]. Burguiere does not recognize that these tactics involve coercion and often explicit threats. Survivors often recount being told “no one will believe you.” In other cases, when either the perpetrator or victim is in a committed, monogamous relationship, the perpetrator will threaten to tell everyone that they had sex, that it was consensual, and that the victim is a slut, whore, or home wrecker. Burguiere also clearly does not understand consent. Consent isn’t a lack of “no,” but rather an affirmative “yes.” “Maybe” isn’t consent. If you have to convince someone to have sex with you, it isn’t consensual. And consent is definitely not coercive.

The questions on these surveys may seem complicated, but that is becausesurvivors may not classify their experiences as “sexual assault.”Burguiere finds this preposterous, claiming “the President is saying these women were raped, and these women are saying they weren’t.” However, if we actually used the definition of sexual assault – unwanted sexual touching – then nearly one hundred percent of women would be survivors.

There are a multitude of reasons survivors may not consider their experience(s) “sexual assault.” For some, it is a defense mechanism- it is easier to believe that everything is okay, that it was consensual. Calling it sexual assault means acknowledging the reality of our sexual assault epidemic, recognizing that it can happen to me. Many survivors go into what we call “survivor mode.” Survivor mode is a defense mechanism as well- doing and believing whatever you have to in order to survivor or cope with the incident. Survivors may ask the perpetrator to use a condom, they may not fight back, they may continue or start to date the perpetrator after the incident. It is not our place to judge how survivors cope.

Many female survivors don’t classify the incident(s) as sexual assault because they don’t feel entitled to the term. We are taught that sexual assault is committed by a deranged stranger who corners an innocent woman in a dark alley. We aren’t taught that sexual assault can be perpetrated by a classmate, a friend, or a partner. We aren’t taught that it can happen when we previously consented to making out with the perpetrator, or when we consented to returning to the perpetrator’s residence. We are taught that if we dress or behave a certain way, we are “asking for it,” and that by wearing that sequined mini skirt, we have no right to call it sexual assault. We are taught that our bodies are not our own, that men and the media are entitled to examine, comment on, even touch our bodies.

While I recognize the validity of Beck’s experiences, his experience does not entitle him to define the experiences of others. Having experienced sexual assault either first hand, as a witness, bystander, or ally does not give one the authority to tell survivors what is and isn’t “real rape.”

Categories: Sexual Violence
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“Being in a patriarchal society, I often get to see the discriminatory act in between male and female. Not only have seen but have also often been the victim.” This sentence might reflect the thought of many girls of Nepal. And generations have been passed with the same thought.

In front of the other crucial/greater issues like rape, acid attack etc. very often the case of eve teasing is taken minor and is being neglected. But this is slowly forming a greater impact and is being established as culture. This is the issue that every girl has to face. As soon as she gets out of her house, she is used to with hearing some kind of comments, whistles or other forms of abusive language. Due to this many girls are very much concerned about their dresses and looks. Many girls often sacrifice their desire of wearing certain dresses to avoid such compliments. Beside this, such kinds of act affect the girl’s psychology in one or the other way resulting them to feel inferior and loose their confident level.

When we complain about these things we often get to hear that the girls themselves want such compliments and their vulgar or sexy style of dress up make boys to act in such way. But is this really the Justfiable answer? If it is so, haven’t they ever harassed to the girl who wears a formal kurta salwar? Above all, we have the right to wear what we want.

However, the major reason behind all this is the ‘Silence’ that we prefer to move on with. How many more years do we want to be suppressed by others? Now, its upon us whether to make our generation as same with just the dissatisfactory feeling upon the existing situation or to act upon it and end the discriminatory act for ever. So lets not just think, it’s Time to Act.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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How many of us(girls) have had to deal with the comment that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender or sexual orientation while we are out in the street? Yes, many of us. Street harassment is nothing new where we live in, be it developed, developing or under-developed country. It is a serious issue because it limits women’s ability to be in public as often or as comfortably as most men.

We have faced, if not, heard the different stories where we girls are the helpless victims of the street harassment. We hear quite a lot about girls being raped, misbehaved, followed, and threatened and so on. We have seen girls being chased down the street, whistled at, commented at their private parts, trapped against a wall, their crotch being grabbed suddenly, shockingly, in vitriolic entitlement. What does this mean? Does this mean that a man has the right to our body, a right to discuss it, analyze it, and appraise it whether we like it or not?

Even legally, street harassment has been overlooked. Yes, physical forms of street harassments are termed as illegal and police take them seriously. But verbal form of harassment is constantly not taken seriously as it is hard to term ‘hey baby’, ‘nice body’, ‘come to papa’ and so on as illegal words. But for us, street harassment (either physical or verbal) makes us feel violated and demeaned. The damage is still the same. We feel the range of negative emotions surging in us. Anxiety, Fear, Shame, Guilt, Headaches and Frustration.

Some people justify their deeds by ‘Freedom to Speech’. What an utter bullshit! No one is free to make a speech that hurts the other human being, that makes us feel sick about the world that we live in. What makes them make a comment on our body? Even though we are dressed decent, not anything particularly provocative, we are not spared. I don’t think ‘Freedom of Speech’ makes them that free to make a comment even on to the bodies of the 11- and 12-year–old girls about their breasts and developing bodies as they walk in their uniform to school.

Street Harassment is not a compliment. Never. A compliment is supposed to make us feel good and proud about ourselves. ‘Nice ass’, ‘woah! loot at those tits’, ‘sexy boobs and pussy’, ‘hey, whore’, ‘You sexy bitch’, ‘slag’, ‘slut’ and so on, do not sound as complimentary words to us; especially not when these words come out of the random hooligans in the street. A compliment doesn’t make you rethink your route the next time you walk down the street. A compliment does not make you jab your earphones on your ears and walk, ignoring the ones who is giving you one.

So what is Street Harassment? It is certainly not the compliment, not the right use of ‘Freedom to Speech’, not the harmless fun but the power and violence of certain men out there which not every girl can go and have the temerity to reject. Not every girl can go and throw her fist at them because both the nature and the character of the harassers can be unfavorable for her. Sometimes, it is not safe to respond. Sometimes, it is better to walk away without saying a word of discontent. But that is what making the harassers feel strong. They feel like it is their inherent right to make their so called ‘power’ strong and intimidate anyone in the street. Thus, instead of telling victims how to react, we all should focus on preventing it from happening in the first place.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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TW: Discussion of rape and sexual assault

Nonconsensual Sex: How Colleges Rebranded Sex

“It should not be called nonconsensual sex. Rape is rape. It’s a crime. It’s a felony.”

via Al Jazeera America

Categories: Sexual Violence
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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. FGM, which is often carried out with unsterilized instruments, can cause severe health and psychological problems and in some cases, girls bleed to death or die from infections. Later in life, FGM can lead to complications in childbirth and increase the risk of the mother and baby dying.

In East Africa, Female Genital Mutilation is practiced by several tribes with promoters of the practice arguing that it initiates girls into womanhood and increases their chances of being married off. Other tribes believe that cutting off some of parts of the females genitalia like the clitoris reduces cases of girls and married women engaging sex outside their marriages. Promoters of Female Genital Mutilation have little regard (if any) for girls and women’s lives lost or the suffering that they go through after undergoing this cruel and life-threatening ordeal. Girls between eight and fourteen years of age are cut by elderly women often using unsterilized razor blades or knives  to initiate them into womanhood and subsequent early marriages. This also exposes girls to higher chances catching HIV from unsterilized knives  because cutting is done by unprofessional cutters who are mostly old women who have been involved in cutting for decades.

Hundreds of infants, girls and women are still forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation in East Africa. Young girls run away from their homes for fear of undergoing FGM and miss school while others drop out of school. Local political leaders fear to publicly condemn the practice for fear of losing elections and in some cases they have helped offenders escape being prosecuted in Courts of law. Girls and women are not informed about their rights and protection provided by the available legislation. My visits to communities that practice FGM in Northeastern Uganda have exposed to me the need to continuously inform communities about the dangers of the practice and empower communities to directly take part in projects and efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation.

During my most recent trip in February to a community that practices FGM in Northeastern Uganda, I met girls who had been forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation and needed collective surgery. Most the girls pass out urine uncontrollably and require collective surgery to fix fistula. My trip also inspired  me to try and create positive change in these communities to help girls live in safer communities live to their full potentials. I decided to produce a documentary  film  called ‘Chasing the Cut‘ about girls and women forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation and bring their stories to the world.  I am now in my final stages to travel to Northeastern Uganda, Northeastern Kenya, Western Kenya and Central Kenya from April 15 through to May 15 to film and produce the documentary. I am trying to raise funds on Indiegogo to make this film, organize public screening across  East Africa, carry out FGM campaigns and organize a procession of hundreds of Activists to deliver a petition to the East Africa Legislative Assembly in  Tanzania. I am excited by the prospect of reaching to millions of people and inspiring change through film a to make a difference. My Indiegogo has only 6 days left. Please join me,  donate and share my campaign widely http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kata-ending-female-genital-mutilation

I think men must also actively take part in ending Female Genital Mutilation instead of promoting as is the case in communities that practice FGM where men promote it arguing than women who have been cut make better wives. I think that by exposing the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation, we can then shape plans to completely stop Female Genital Mutilation. I am committed to lead the demands for change and help girls live healthier lives.   Please support my campaign here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kata-ending-female-genital-mutilation

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The Big picture :

Rape- is a word which is supposed to be wiped out of existence. Most girls in the rural and urban ares extensively suffer from this dreadful cause. It’s a shame to see young girls go through this uncomfortable act.

Raped girls now have STDs , unwanted pregnancy and some may die as a result been bartered.

When parents mutter at words, ungodly things happen. And when girls feel reluctant they become victims to this cause. I blame non, it is simply because there’s no unity and the law holding the term for rape has almost been ridden off.

Every GIRL child DESERVES a brighter future. Why not share the word!

What\’s your say on RAPE !

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WWD 2

In the past years, I have volunteered my skills and time on a number of community projects. But the feeling I had this morning after digging for the laying of pipes which will convey potable water to  the community of the of the Bassa Industrial area especially those of the “Plateau Guinness” neighborhood was  special. Special because sparked by the smiles on the faces  of the adults of this community who had come out in their numbers to contribute to the building of the taps from which will flow this so much talked about “Precious” liquid which some have said is “Life”. The smile on their faces was as radiant as I have only seen on the faces of children enjoying every minute of their life on a school playground at break.

These persons have every reason to smile because Cameroon’s water sector is one of the most neglected and poorly maintained. According to a United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP), about 92% of Cameroonians living in cities have access to improved water while only 47% of Cameroonians living in rural areas can access potable water. This situation has not only been the cause of the repeated Cholera outbreaks that the country has experienced recently but caused untold damages in families and communities especially rural communities.

World Water DAY 2014In fact, these people who are not alone in their case have had their sisters, daughters, and mothers raped as they moved to the stream to fetch water, they have missed their lessons or being late to   school because of they have to move for long distances to fetch water for the family every morning while their peers are in class, and have lost a loved one to diarrhea and other water related diseases. This has no doubt contributed to the lamentable state of rural areas in my country Cameroon.

We must all make the progress our world is currently enjoying benefit all. It is only when the fruits of the progress the world is currently experiencing are enjoyed by all that the development we are so much clamoring for will really be sustainable.

Knowing that atrocities such as those described above are experienced by a countless number of people in other communities around the world is revolting because we live in a world of plenty and can all afford to make life better for all. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 800 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water .May the below extract from Reflections on Water  by the  Ecumenical Water Network, a project of the World Council of Churches, inspire you to act  in your own small way for this liquid as we observe World Water Day today, March 22nd  2014.

 

Like the ticking of a clock marking out time, water drips noisily.

Maybe it drips off the edge of a stone or roof in times of rain and plenty,

or perhaps from a badly turned off tap in societies where earth’s most precious

and vital resource is unconsciously wasted.

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Attractive Kalki Koechlin Images 2013

I may not know much about Kalki Koechlin, but there are two things I know for sure.

  1. She cannot dance to save her life and it’s adorable. Exhibit A: “Balaam Pichkari” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani.
  2. She is fiercely outspoken when it comes to women’s rights.

The following video is a piece the bollywood actress performed at the India Today Conclave titled, “The Truths of Womanhood“. It touches on everything from gender roles in history, societal expectations of women, objectification and rape. Her monologue is poignant in all of its shining veracity.

 

Kalki is also famous for starring in the All India Bakchod viral video titled, “It’s Your Fault”.

 

Bless her!

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“Nothing decisive,Nothing sustainable,can be done in our country as long as this important part of ourselves remains in the oppression imposed on them by different systems of exploitation….the true empowerment of women is that which makes the woman responsible,that includes her in productive activities, and in the fight against the different challenges faced by our people. The true emancipation of women is that which forces consideration and respect from men”
Though these words may sounds like those of a convinced women’s rights activist of the second decade of the 21st century, they aren’t. These are words from Burkinabe revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara to women gathered to celebrate International Women’s day on March 8th 1987 a few months before his assassination.
The above was not only an appeal for women to never lose sight of the fundamental role they play in the progress of a society, but above all, a call to men and society as a whole to support them as they selflessly invest in the nation’s future at times through acts of courage that are often taken for granted or ignored such as beautifully balancing their role as mother, caretaker of the family, and increasingly bread winner for most families in my part of the world.
Rural Women deserve more……
 The brave women of the rural areas of Cameroonlive what I call “A life of service to the community” by waking up early to prepare the children for school; prepare breakfast for the family; toil all day in farms; return home late and despite the hard day’s work prepare dinner for the family. This makes me so proud of these women and reinforces my conviction that they merit more attention than is currently being accorded them by politicians and policy makers in the far away capital cities and comfortable skyscrapers in Yaounde, Addis Ababa, and NewYork.
Women make up more than half of Cameroon’s vastly youthful population. A majority of this very “important part of ourselves” live in the most ignoble of conditions in its rural areas and are on a daily basis subjected to torture, rape, and abuses of all sorts by men who are themselves oppressed by a society in which the gap between the very rich and the very poor is ever widening.
Economic Injustice is an Effective fertilizer for the Oppression of Women
Yes, a man who is powerless in the face of  his family’s inability to eat to their fill; cannot pay  health bills for his family; and cannot afford to send his children to school,  transfers the injustice done  him by society to his wife, sister, and daughteronly  in the face of whom he feels  “a real man”.Non-inclusive redistribution of a country’s resources therefore leads not only to economic inequality among a nation’s citizens but aggravates the already existing inequality through abuses of all sorts on women and girls.
Achievement of Millennium Development Goals is impossible without women 
Thus, greater economic opportunity is to be extended to rural area dwellers if the Millennium Development Goals to which this year’s International Women’s Day is dedicated are to ever be achieved and this cannot be done without the brave women who though living in these socially challenged areas, have put their lives “at the service of the community”

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We open here the voice of structure of society like she was raped because she was walking alone. She was late at night and she was dressed provocatively. This is really silly logic. Walking alone does not mean that she was asked to be raped. So, let’s change those common excuses for rapist behavior. Does wearing a Rolex Watch mean asking to be robbed? Certainly not, so we cannot think a girl to be more responsible for the rape. Women’s cannot be deprived of the right to dress the clothes that she likes. However, the way that she dresses or behave can be a risk factor for the Rape. Therefore, we should avoid walking alone at night, Drinking when going out to unfamiliar places and letting someone buying a drink for you.

This view of mine was published in YES! Magazine

Himanshu Rayamajhi
Nobel College –Nepal (Bph 7th Semester)
YUWA-YALC 2014

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Sex is very important things for human beings. So all the people do sex,only rare people doesn’t. In the case of our Nepalease society.

Nepal is one of the country where having sex before marriage is illegal. Only marriage couple can have the sex. But if a girl and a boy have a sex before marriage it is illegal. If their parents or society will know about than it may be bring a very big issue about it. Sometimes their parents or the society case them cases like rape case. Because of this reason we Nepali people are not talking about sex freely in the society or with family or any other third person(stranger). In our society till 63% people are educated but no one can talk freely about sex. If say a word “SEX” our parents, teachers,society etc will scold us or they just move away form us. Due to the society and the parents their children are not being able to talk about sex. Going out and staying for a long time for Nepali unmarried girl this is totally banded by their own parents. Because of that also girls are dominated in this society. ‘Yes girls talk about sex openly’ no one can say this sentences. Not only girl but boy also can’t talk freely. Making a different sexual friends use to be uncommon but slowly slowly this is being change. For that change credit goes to school and collage. Now being a girl is blame or what??? Is our parents wanting us not to do any their without their mercy. Let’s think hard and stand for change.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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TW: graphic discussion of rape and sexual violence

Using Mapping and Twitter to Fight Rape in Syria

The Women’s Media Center has created a user-generated map to document and raise awareness of sexual violence in Syria.

“The goals are three-fold: Firstly, we want to put the stories of sexualised violence in Syria on the map, drawing attention to them.

Secondly, we want to highlight where these abuses are taking place, pinpointing where victims need help, so that they can be offered survivor and psychosocial services once the fighting dies down.

The third aim is a long-term one – we want to build up a documentation base that could potentially be used as evidence if there’s going to be war crimes trials.”

via Vice

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Ya’ll this is so awesome. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in such a long time. Do you remember that prank that FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture played on Victoria’s Secret last year? Well if you don’t here’s the quick version. FORCE launched a line of lingerie that talked about consent while looking like Victoria’s Secret pink line. It took the web by storm and many thought that Victoria’s Secret was changing their ways, and getting in the game to end rape culture. However, it turned out that it was just a prank, and Victoria’s Secret didn’t capitalize on the opportunity and actually create the underwear. However, NOW you can get consent underwear. Think Progress reports that a student up in Canada is actually making an amazing consent based underwear line.

You can get the new underwear here on Kickstarter, and you totally should! I’m planning on getting all of the different men’s underwear that I can. You should support this wonderful effort and buy some of their awesome products! Not only do they have puny things like “you mustache for consent” but they also have slogans to promote healthy body images, and good sexual practices like “ask me what I like”. They even have men’s underwear which is awesome because it attacks rape culture from all sides.

 

Here is a picture of the underwear on their Kickstarter

 

This is one of the cooler projects that I’ve seen for a while. You can proudly display them as you’re taking off your clothes, and make sure that you’ve had a conversation about consent. I have no more words for this because I love it so much Consent is so necessary in our society and there hasn’t been enough promotion of it. #Consentissexy and we should use it every day.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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What is rape culture? Is it a new dialect that researchers alike have studied and tested through social-interactions? Is it just another, “uptight” feminist perspective digging up new short-comings of men? These are the many questions people might ask as it is addressed more frequently today.

Rape culture is simple. It stems from language and actions that without conscious thought, maintain insensitivity toward sexual assault in our society. Rape culture is attitudes that normalize, excuse and even tolerate rape. Some examples of how it is manifested into our everyday behaviors and interactions are: blaming the victim, making light of sexual assault with jokes, and denial of rape accusations. Unfortunately, the list could go on. Here are some examples of what I have heard from: “Man, we are about to get raped!” He (friend of a friend) said, while playing Black Ops 2. And, “Now I know what it feels like to be raped. My bio test killed me.”

Statements like these have evolved into popular lingo to express the difficulty of everyday challenges. I have primarily witnessed men venting about their frustrations in this way. A countless number of men do not realize that they too can experience rape. Women are not the only “victims” in this equation; rape can happen to people of any gender.

Sadly, the word rape, like many other words in American culture has been desensitized. The nerves of society are numb to sexual violence. When I have attempted to have a conversation about how the word rape used in a joking context can be painful, defensive responses are nudged in my face, such as, “You don’t have to be so defensive! I didn’t mean anything by it. Plus you haven’t been raped, so why do you care?”

So, why do I care? It is easy to understand, I believe in working towards destabilizing the norm of accepting sexual violence and abuse in our youth culture.

Consider this
• Sports, contests of any kind, and videogame-athons are physically exhausting–like when I attempt to play racquetball. But they never equate to the trauma of rape.
• Taking a final exam or writing a paper is mentally draining. Fortunately for you, your final exam is not a traumatic experience.
• It is important to understand what rape is. It is a sexual action (penetration) that is forced and without consent from the other person.
• Jokes about rape “ain’t wassup.”
• There are alternative ways to illustrate your irritations about experiences and exclaim your competitiveness toward your opponents—rape is an unacceptable comparison.

 

A culture that supports abuse and violence by trivializing it with jokes, justifying rape by blaming the person who was attacked, and comparing rape to daily challenges you face only perpetuates that rape is “okay.” Why should that kind of power even be thought of as acceptable? One person’s story of being sexually assaulted is far too many. I am fed up with the lack of accountability placed on the person who commits rape.

I believe that it is important to combat rape culture by having honest dialogue about how it contributes to a vicious cycle of normalizing sexual violence and abuse. Having these conversations start with YOU. Making an attempt to be more inclusive with our language and intentional about our actions, and challenging our peers to do the same, promotes a more positive and enlightened culture. I believe that we have the POWER to reverse the normalcy of rape culture by supporting survivor\’s stories and together resisting the oppression of rape culture. Action is our most forceful weapon, silence is acceptance.

 

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Adrian Nava (18 years old) and Scarlett Jimenez (18 years old)

Colorado Youth CREATE Council Members

As educators, advocates, and allies of sexual health, we often ask ourselves why we are still having conversations about the implementation and support of comprehensive sexuality education for young people across the nation. For a lot of us, the issue of reproductive rights and justice is one that hits very close to home. As advocates, our stories and personal experiences hold immense power in our work. They allow us to break down barriers when interacting with others, and to create room for meaningful human connections and a space to share why we are so passionate about the work we do.

We share our stories with the hope that we will create awareness and support for comprehensive sex education. Having personal stories that reflect a lack of inclusion of all sexual orientations, or lack of information about healthy relationships and self–esteem, we – Scarlett and Adrian – understand and are optimal examples of why sexual health education is essential for all youth. During our years in advocacy, we have both been exposed to a world of possibilities, and have actively participated in various levels of advocacy.

From local to national participation, both of us have had the opportunity to express ourselves as young people. During the 2013 legislative session at Colorado’s State Capitol, we were actively involved in advocating for the passage of House Bill 1081, what has become known as Colorado’s “updated sex ed law.” We wanted to make sure that young people’s voices and concerns were included throughout the process. As part of CREATE, a youth advocacy council sponsored by Colorado Youth Matter and Advocates for Youth, we testified in favor of the bill during committee hearings and organized a youth advocacy day, which brought more than 230 youth to the capitol to speak to their legislators about the importance of passing laws that increase access to comprehensive sex education.

Adrian’s Story

Adrian NavaI consider myself an advocate not only for programs and policies that promote youth sexual health, but for change founded on social justice principles. As an advocate, a person of color, and someone who identifies as gay, I remember sitting in a crowded 7th grade health class during my glorious awkward pre-pubescent years, asking myself what the ladies at the front of the room were talking about. It turns out that these women were teaching the girls how to say “NO” to males who would only want to have sex with females. I then realized that this uncomfortable discussion was actually part of a “sexual health” class. Yikes! This situation was uncomfortable not only because I did not know what sexual health education looked like, but because I was being targeted as a male. I was expected to insist on having sexual intercourse with women. I was ultimately astonished and speechless at the sexist, and judgmental tone that was being set within a classroom environment.

As a student, I was genuinely eager to learn about what was going on inside of my body and mind. But after much talk about “male and female relationships,” I asked the teachers if it was possible for two boys to be together, and the teachers ignored my question and moved on to talk about the importance of abstaining from having sex.

I began to feel like it was wrong to ask that question – which meant that something about me was wrong, since I was attracted to people of the same gender as me. The following day, my peers and I participated in an activity in which one person was assigned to be a person with “AIDS.” To my surprise, that person was me. I learned later that gay men are stereotyped as having HIV, which only deteriorated my self-esteem and self-love because I was not exposed to positive messages about LGBT people.

My negative experience of feeling ignored and stigmatized in the classroom is the reason I became actively involved in advocacy work for increased access to comprehensive sex education. I was made to feel ashamed of being gay, which harmed my emotional health for a long period of time. I wish I could have received comprehensive, inclusive, medically accurate, age-appropriate information about my body and mind – but I didn’t.

However, just because my school did not provide me with that education, it does not mean that future generations should not have access. I am completely in love with my advocacy work and impacting my generation, for the better. I find empowerment through making my voice heard and mobilizing young people to speak about and advocate for their sexual health.

Scarlett’s Story

Scarlett JimenezI am an advocate for comprehensive sex education and reproductive rights and justice for young people, because I believe that the issues at hand should be considered as part of our basic human rights. I believe that young people should have the right to have access to accurate information about their bodies. Furthermore, youth deserve the opportunity to develop the life skills that are included in comprehensive sexuality education. I believe that my high school experience would have been a much happier and more successful time had that been included as part of my education.

On a daily basis, young women are bombarded with highly sexualized messages from the media that dictate the social norms. I think that it is absolutely essential for young women to learn that these messages are disempowering and are not actual expectations of women. All youth, regardless of their gender, deserve to hear that they are much more valuable than the media depicts them. High school is such a hectic and overwhelming stage for teens. Oftentimes, teens do not receive much needed positive and empowering messages about themselves or young people in general. I know that for myself, low sense of self-worth and a lack of basic sexual health information and the ability to communicate with my partner led me into an unsafe relationship and a very hard time in my life.

I am an advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, and all that it entails, because now I have a vision for future generations. Creating access to comprehensive sex education can inform and support youth to be empowered, inclusive, educated, compassionate, communicative, strong, and driven by their identified passions and goals.

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Drunk in Love = Safe in Love?

A few weeks ago, Beyonce quietly dropped an album (thanks for being awesome #QueenBey), and a hit single “Drunk in Love” is blaring from every angle. Corner stores, cars on the highway, my dentist’s office. You name it, and “Drunk in Love” is on everyone’s playlist. While the entire album is well received by her audience, “Drunk in Love” raises a bigger question about the role of sobriety in sexual encounters.

As a third-year college student in America’s biggest college town, I’ve seen and heard all the effects of alcohol in sexual encounters.

“It makes flirting easier.” “It makes cumming faster.” “It makes talking smoother.”

Easier. Faster. Smoother.

Things alcohol does to your hook-up/sex life (because not all hook-ups involve sex). Sounds good, right? But, then glance over at the role of alcohol in sexual violence and the role of alcohol in America’s rape culture, especially among young people. While there is no direct correlation between alcohol and sexual violence, is there a safe way to be drunk during sex and, of course, during love?

For Beyonce and Jay-Z, one of the most powerful couples in the entertainment industry, their marriage seems like something out of utopia: a child, money, love, fame, etc.

But most couples aren’t like this. In fact, how many women can say that they completely trust their partner when they are drunk? How many times are women left feeling comfortable in their vulnerability and sexuality with their partner?

That’s what struck the most in this song. Beyonce feels safe enough to trust Jay-Z when they’re both drunk. And that’s actually so rare. Society places so many preconceived notions of sex and alcohol, especially on the role of alcohol to get women drunk for sex. With sex comes vulnerability and trust, the trust to be with someone during your most intimate moments and the vulnerability to linger with your most intimate thoughts.

While “Drunk in Love” represents a part of a relationship rarely depicted in media, I would like to see other women feel more safe and secure in their relationships, sober or not.

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One year has passed since the high profile case in which a Delhi woman was raped and murdered. The case resulted in many changes in India, the most notable being more strict laws that doubled the prison terms for sexual assault, voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks, and trafficking. In addition, the minimum sentence for rape cases has increased to 20 years and the death penalty is now a possibility for cases in which death occurs.

It is exciting to see what local movements have achieved in a year, but as mainstream media rallies around this story, here are some points to keep in mind:

  1. India is not the only country where rape is a problem. While the highest number of cases were reported in the US and India between 2004 and 2010, these numbers are complicated. They are a mere fraction of the number of estimated cases by the CDC and US Justice Department and are not calculated based on population density. Looking at population density figures, there are dozens of nations with more reported cases than India. Sexual assault is not a problem unique to India. [1]
  2. Similarly, it is easy as outsiders to view Indian culture and life solely through this event and the response surrounding it. There are many positive, vibrant aspects of India and we cannot erase those out of our frustrations or cast stereotypes centered on violence onto an entire nation.
  3. This past year should not be marked as the year India ended all indifferent to rape. While the story of the urban woman who worked her way through college spurred outrage through its relatability, organizing around sexual assault has been happening for years. There are many established advocates and individuals who work on this issue. One of these groups is the Red Brigade, who patrol streets in groups and confront perpetrators. [2]

[1] http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/quick-click/which-country-has-the-highest-reported-incidents-rape-data

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/world/asia/india-rape-problem-udas/

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I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on.  And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention.  I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.

While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves.  I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational.  Oh, and guess what?  Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.”  There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime.  Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue.  There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.

I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website.  It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share.    There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting.  Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though.  An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:

Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…

What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?

How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?

There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series.  East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast.  And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into.  For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.

Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color.  Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious.  From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:

At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…

We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.

We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.

Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call  Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended.  Please use the number to the opposite.

(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)

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*This post speaks about sexually based crimes-specifically rape- and has the potential to be triggering for survivors of sexually based crimes. Please practice self-care before, during, after, and always* 

Scandal is known for its hard hitting fast paced story telling.  In one of the most recent episodes viewers found out that Mellie had previously been raped by her father in law. 

 
I remember watching the scene and basically having an absence of thought. The rape happened so quickly and the scene in which it was part of had no indication that a rape was about to take place. 
 
After thinking about it more I, never being the survivor of rape, felt okay with the scene. I kind of felt like the quickness of how the rape took place could be realistic to how a casual encounter with someone could turn sexually violent so quickly. I also felt that having a sexually based crime on a show that millions of viewers tune  into watch would cast a light on how pervasive rape is in the lives of many people. 
 
 
Reading the article I could see what the author meant but didn’t entirely agree. 
 
While talking to a few friends I learned that they were very upset about Mellie’s rape scene, how it had no forewarning, and how extremely triggering it was to them. 
 
I was blown away. I finally “got it”. 
 
Like it or not media has a sense of social responsibility to its viewers. Providing trigger warnings for viewers when an episode includes a violent sexually based crime should be paramount to “not spoiling the shock value”. 
 
In the past when an episode of Scandal had a consensual sex scene they warn the viewers that “viewer discretion is advised”  before the episode begins. However, for the episode that included a rape scene no warning was made.  NONE. 
 
When will the entertainment media stop using rape simply as a “shock value” way to rank in views? Rape is real so personally I do not feel it should never show up in shows however, including a sexually based crime in an episode with no warning, no real story line, and with no heads up to it’s viewers is disrespectful, lazy, rude, and dangerous. 

 

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There is a popular proverb from H. G. Bohn’s, “Hand-Book of Proverbs,” (1855), “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop”. This proverb can be a metaphor to the increment of gender based violence (GBV) worldwide and mostly well recognized in the countries where unemployment rate is high. Moreover, if the rate is high and female empowerment is low, there are evidences that relates rise in GBV. There are domestic violence, murder for property, human trafficking, polygamy, rape, sexual abuse and harassment, forced pornography and many more cases. But what if these devil’s workshops get engaged to some other issue, mission or task that could cut off the rise in GBV? The current election fever in Nepal can be the answer.

After a long waiting, a constitution is about to be formed in Nepal. The election campaigns overcame even the brightness of major festivals like Dashain and Tihar. Majority of the youths all over the country were seen campaigning in favor of their respective parties and candidates through miking, rallies, door to door visits. Many are engaged counting votes, celebrating the victory and bargaining the loss. Whereas, people are occupied watching live updates about election and waiting for the final result to be announced no matter wherever they are. Now keeping all these situations aside, let us give a glance to recent reports on GBV in Nepal.

In Nepal, either in some corner or front page of every newspaper we find number of news on GBV cases daily. Also, according to the data mapping on GBV initiated by YUWA organization, it shows 2 to 3 GBV cases reported per day in average. But reviewing the data mapping reports of November, 2013, a dramatic decrement on GBV is seen, i.e. 1 GBV case in eight days. Similarly consulting “INSEConline”, which is the first human rights news portal in Nepal, GBV cases are hardly seen in the list during the month of election. This could be a bizarre hypothesis relating election and decrement in GBV. But it certainly can be interpreted as, if people are indulged to something or are mobilized, GBV somehow decreases. And yes, it directly points to the mobilization of youths.

Unemployment is regarded as one of the major risk factors of GBV. In Nepal, unemployment rate was 42% in 2004, whereas it increased to 46% in 2008 according to CIA World Factbook. Thus, higher the number of unemployed people, GBV will rise up. Further justifying this statement, human trafficking is an example which is one of the alternatives for the idle heads. And reminding the fact, human trafficking is still high in Nepal. This is indeed a serious problem.  Therefore, the country should realize that it’s time for action in finding ways for mobilizing these idle heads to the right track, showing better alternatives rather than digging in for more justifications.

 By

Isha Karmacharya

YALC-YUWA

Nepal

http://www.yuwa.org.np/

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Why ’12 Years A Slave’ Is

Different From ‘The Help’

And ‘Django Unchained’–

And Why It Matters

[originally posted on ThinkProgress by Alyssa Rosenberg]

[TW: racial slurs, movie spoilers, rape]

This post discusses plot details of 12 Years A Slave in depth.

“Forgive me,” Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tells his wife Anne (Kelsey Scott) when he returns to Saratoga and to freedom after more than a decade of enslavement in Southern states. “There is nothing to forgive,” Anne tells him. And of course, Solomon is in no way responsible for being kidnapped into servitude and for being out of his touch with his family for twelve years, except for the errors of judgement he made in trusting the men who deceived and sold him. But the exchange between the reunited spouses reveals, in plain language, what makes Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave so strikingly different from many of the movies about slavery, race, and the South in recent years. 12 Years A Slave is concerned with Solomon’s character arc, rather than the moral development of a white woman like Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), the misfit socialite who becomes a reporter and goes to work for a publisher in The Help, or Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), the bounty hunter-turned-hater-of-slavery in Django Unchained. And the movie treats whiteness not as a neutral thing, but as a complex construct that, in its intersections with class and gender, creates a landscape more unstable and risky than any Palmetto swamp.

Unlike Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), the housekeeper in The Help, who goes from quiet acceptance of her lot to speaking her mind, or Django (Jamie Foxx), who begins Django Unchained in irons and ends it galloping off towards freedom with his wife, Solomon spends much of 12 Years A Slave traveling an opposite trajectory. At the beginning of the film, his freedom has granted him the privilege of being trusting when two men, Brown (Scoot McNairy) and Hamilton (Taran Killam) offer him a job playing his violin at an exorbitant salary with a circus. “Your generosity is extraordinary,” Solomon tells them over a rich dinner in Washington, DC, where he’s traveled for what he believes will be a two-week engagement. Even after he wakes up in irons, Solomon refuses to believe that Brown and Hamilton have betrayed him, protesting that “They were not kidnappers, they were artists.” And even more tellingly, he believes that some sort of justice is within reach. “I promise you, upon my liberation, I will have satisfaction for this wrong,” Solomon declares to one of his jailers.

For much of the next twelve years, Solomon spends his time being disabused of the notion that fellow artists are trustworthy, that his talent will save him, and that decency and fellow-feeling trumps race. And he comes into uncomfortably close acquaintance with he’ll do to survive, and to be free again.

Solomon’s education takes place in three acts, the first, and swiftest in a form of violent gaslighting designed to swiftly transition him from thinking of himself as a free man to accepting an identity as a slave. “You ain’t no free man. And you ain’t from Saratoga, you’re from Georgia…You ain’t nothing but a runaway nigger,” his jailer in Washington, DC tells Solomon as he beats his new identity into him. “You’re a slave. Your’e a Georgia slave.” That man’s partner teaches Solomon the other part of the essential lesson of servitude, that he’s meant to be surprised by any generosity show him, rather than feeling entitled to it. “Got no gratitude?” the man tells him, when he comes to offer Solomon a replacement for the shirt that’s been shredded and irreparably bloodied by his beating. And when Solomon arrives at his destination, the custody of a slaver named Freeman (Paul Giamatti), he’s punished when he doesn’t answer to the new name bestowed on him, Platt. “You fit the description. Why didn’t you answer when called?” Freeman demands of Solomon, making sure that his latest commodity will behave as expected before he’s sold off.

If Solomon becomes convinced of the value of docility to his survival in the first stage of his journey South, it’s in his second that he learns that his talents and intelligence need to be deployed carefully, and the extent to which race trumps class for Southern whites. The man who purchases him is a plantation owner named Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) who fancies himself a benevolent owner. Ford’s first attracted to Solomon in Freeman’s establishment when the slaver tells Ford that “This is a nigger of considerable talent,” and Ford hears Solomon’s playing. That respect extends beyond Solomon’s music. Ford is willing to accept Solmon’s advice on transporting lumber through the swamps around his estate. Tibeats (Paul Dano), a foreman who’s taken an instant dislike to Solomon on the grounds that he doesn’t know his place, asks Solomon “Are you an engineer or a nigger?” when Solomon volunteers his experience working on a canal crew as proof of his plan. “I’ll admit to being impressed even if you won’t,” Ford tells Tibeats and Solomon, giving Solomon a chance to prove his idea viable.

But Eliza (Adepero Oduye), who like Solmon was kidnapped in Washington, and has been sold to Ford along with him but away from her children, sees what Solomon cannot in these gestures of respect. “Ford is your opportunity?” she asks Solomon, recognizing that Solomon’s displays of his talents only make him more valuable to Ford, rather than convincing Ford of his humanity. Solomon’s first inkling of this comes when Ford gives him a violin, telling Solomon “I hope it brings us both much joy over the years,” envisioning a placid, and permanent, coexistence with the slave he’s come to enjoy.

Even if Solmon accepts that might be his lot, he fails to recognize that the means by which he expresses his usefulness may someday erode the risks Ford is willing to take for him. His error is in continuing to challenge Tibeats, treating the white man as if he’s foolish, telling him “I simply ask that you use all your senses before rendering judgement,” and when Tibeats criticizes his work, declaring “If there’s something wrong, it’s wrong with the instructions.” When their repeated confrontations finally become violent, Solomon acts as if his skills outrank the whiteness of Tibeats’ skin, beating him rather than allowing himself to be physically abused. When Tibeats declares after the fight that “You will not live to see another day…I will have flesh and I will have all of it,” it’s another layer of the instruction that Solomon first received when he was kidnapped: he’s in a place where reason matters very little, and race and class are everything.

In one of the most intellectually complex and visually harrowing sequences in12 Years A Slave, Tibeats rounds up a lynch mob, only to be interrupted by Ford’s overseer, who informs Tibeats that “You have no claim to his life.” This doesn’t, of course, mean that Solmon’s life is his own. And to remind him of it, the overseer leave Solomon hanging just low enough that he can relieve the pressure on his neck by pointing his toes in decidedly unstable mud. The slaves around him, better-trained in the art of self-preservation, largely go about their work as Solomon languishes there. Children play near the tree from which he’s hung. Mrs. Ford watches Solomon struggle, then strolls away from her viewpoint on the porch. A woman sneaks him a drink of water, but she can only ease his comfort, not relieve him of it. The one person who can do that is Ford, who ultimately cuts Solomon down with a machete. But that assertion of ownership comes paired with an acknowledgement that Solomon himself has transgressed so far in his beating of Tibeats that Ford cannot–or will not–assert his class privilege over the poorer man’s racist outrage in order to save a slave, even one he’s grown fond of. “You are an exceptional nigger, Platt,” Ford tells Solomon as he prepares to sell him to Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). “But I fear no good can come of it.”

It’s on Epps’ plantation that Solomon learns submission and compromise, which, paradoxically, are the qualities that will allow him to save his own life at the end of the film. On the Epps plantation, Solomon’s skills are turned against him. Far from being able to win Epps’ respect with any knowledge he might possess, Solomon proves poor at the one thing Epps wants of him, picking cotton. His musical skills, once a source of consolation, become part of Epps’ macabre entertainments, as Epps forces Solomon to play for grotesque dances he forces his slaves to hold in the middle of the night.

And amidst the brutality of the Epps plantation, Solomon learns to do what the people who saw him being hanged and did nothing did on that day: to ignore what he sees, and to keep quiet. When he contemplates running away when Mrs. Epps (Sarah Paulson) orders him to run her errands at a store, his flight through the woods brings Solomon upon a lynching party. Solomon effectively promises the white men in the group that he will forget what he saw. He tells Mrs. Epps that “No m’am. [He encountered] No trouble,” on his route, erasing the experience from his official account of the trip. And Solomon and Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), a slave Epps describes as “Queen of the Fields,” and who Epps rapes regularly, warning his wife that “I will rid myself of you before I do away with her,” are lectured on the value of patience and submission in Christian terms by Mistress Shaw (Alfre Woodward), a slave who accepted the role of mistress to another white man. “Where once I served, I have others serving me,” Mistress Shaw counsels the two younger people. “In good time, the Lord’ll manage ‘em all…The sorrow of the pharaohs is no match for what awaits the plantation class.”

This education saves Solomon when he is caught in a dangerous ploy, trying to convince a former overseer-turned-cotton-picker named Armsby (Garret Dillahunt) to deliver a letter to his family. “Well, Platt. I understand I got a learned nigger writes letters, tries to get white fellows to mail ‘em,” a drunk Epps tells Solomon, clearly eager to use this knowledge against a slave who’s irritated him, but not quite given him the excuse Epps needs to dispatch him by violence. Solmon, by this point, knows enough to play Epps’ class suspicions against Armsby. “He made the story out of whole cloth because he wants a situation,” Solomon insists, and Epps believes him.

But submission also means that Solomon is pulled deeper into complicity with Epps’ cruelties, nowhere more so than in the case of Patsey. At one point, Patsey begs Solomon to kill her and to make her body disappear, telling him “I ain’t got no comfort in this life. If I can’t buy mercy from you, I’ll beg it.” But Solomon declines, even as he becomes witness to her escalating suffering. When he returns from a stint on another plantation, where he was allowed to play his violin and earn money for himself, Solmon sees all the blood vessels in one of Patsey’s eyes broken, whether as the result of abuse from Mrs. Epps, or as an assertion of authority from Epps himself. Later, when Patsey is not available to Epps on a Sunday, a day she’s traditionally been free to go visiting, his wrath is dreadful. And it escalates when she explains that she was visiting Mistress Shaw to get some soap because Mrs. Epps has denied it to her. “500 pounds of cotton a day, more than any man. And for that I will be clean. That’s all I ask,” Patsey begs for her dignity. And Epps, telling her “You’re doing this to yourself, Pats,” orders Solomon to whip her, and then to whip her harder when he makes a show of the beating rather than administering it properly.

And when Mr. Parker (Rob Steinberg), Solomon’s white friend, comes to Epps’ plantation with evidence of Solomon’s freedom, 12 Years A Slave makes wrenchingly clear that Solomon’s freedom depends on his willingness to simply accept it and go. “Get away from him, Pats,” Epps warns Patsey as she insists on saying goodbye to Solomon. The price of her minor act of dignity is likely to be severe, and during her whipping and the treatment of her flayed back afterwards, we’ve seen what that cost looks like. And the price of Solomon’s freedom is his willingness to turn his back on her, as he looked away from her injured eye, as he refused to risk Epps’ wrath or his soul to kill her before she suffered more.

None of this is to say that the decisions Solomon makes are wrong, or to argue that he should have martyred himself on Epps’ plantation and died forgotten, rather than living to tell his story and to become an abolitionist activist, a chapter of his life that’s left out of the film. But 12 Years A Slave is a remarkable film because it examines the ways in which slavery coarsened the moral sensibilities not just of the white people who practiced it, but of the black people who were held in bondage. And unlike Aibileen Clark, who is a saint, or Django, who is an action hero, Solomon can be damaged by slavery, he can do terrible things to survive, and the movie extends to him the privilege of never sacrificing his claim on our immense admiration and respect. When Solomon tells his family “I apologize for my appearance, but I have had a difficult time these past several years,” he is speaking not only physically and emotionally, but with a veiled honesty about the terrible compromises he has made to return home to them. In between 12 Years A Slave and Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler’s remarkable debut film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), who was shot to death on a BART platform in 20009, 2013 may prove a waster-shed year for cinema in the long-overdue assertion that black men don’t need to earn the value of their lives or their dignity, that they simply possess them.

12 Years A Slave is also admirably corrective for sidelining the moral development or degradation of the white people in Solomon’s journey. This is not to say that the characters are poorly sketched. With the exception of a badly miscast Brad Pitt as Bass, a white Canadian who eventually delivers news of Solomon’s fate to his friends and family in Saratoga, McQueen has gotten remarkably rich psychological portraits from his cast. Fassbender seems likely to be a strong Best Supporting Actor contender for his performance of the louche, self-loathing Epps. And it’ll be a shame if his work overshadows Sarah Paulson’s enraged, humiliated plantation wife.

But for once, we have a film about the South where the highest concern is not whether Skeeter Phelan turns on her racist friends and finds fulfillment in the world of publishing, leaving the black women who gave her the material for her first book behind in Mississippi, or whether Dr. King Schultz acts in accordance with his newly-awakened conscience and dies in a blaze of spectacularly impractical glory that puts Django and his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) in greater danger than a show of deference to violent planter Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) might have done. To 12 Years A Slave, whether individual white people are good or bad, compromised or virtuous, cowardly or courageous is simply less important than their collective impact on black men like Solomon Northup, who must navigate their whims and class prejudices to survive. Really, what does the small kindness of a Mr. Ford matter when men like Epps live and bear lashes? 12 Years A Slave dismisses the moral myopia that governs movies like The Help and Django Unchained, which reduce the experiences of black people down to the importance those experiences play in white people’s moral educations.

Those learning experiences are not unnecessary to social progress. But the movies have often given the impression that this is a one-sided process, in which white people of good will must learn to recognize the ills that they have unconsciously done and benefitted from, and find some small way to renounce them. 12 Years a Slave is a powerful corrective in its illustration that racism in America is a matter of mutual, continual and detrimental education, in which all parties learn to read privilege and respond to their position relative to it, rather a monolithic and impersonal institution.

Excellent review, analysis, and description of this film I watched a couple weeks ago by Alyssa Rosenberg.  Though I would have ventured more in depth about Ford’s character and how even though he is much kinder than your typical slave owner, he is still a slave owner and in the film it was clear that his compliments and actions were still dehumanizing.  He represented another face of racism and oppression.  And that would be it, because I choose not to speak on a character whose role was only less than ten minutes.

And I say this as a response to the overwhelming amount of praises for Benedict Cumberbatch who played as Master Ford.  Admittedly, Benedict Cumberbatch did very well in his less than ten minutes on the screen.  Of course with personal perspective, I did not find it spectacular.  Not even close.

I see no reason to extend more than a few kind words for Benedict Cumberbatch’s role when the movie was not even about a somewhat kind, but very cowardly and oppressive white slave owner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon) and Lupita Nyong’O (Patsey) were the real stars of the movie.

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(Image reposted from Amplify Facebook – click here for more)

Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier.  Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound.  We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share.  We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world.  All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives.  But we celebrated our diversity.  And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.

I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first.  I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend.  It was a place I had never been to on my own.  I would be surrounded by strangers.  But these strangers quickly became my friends.  And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them.  And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well.  Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders.  And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives.  It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.

I even got to meet Janet Mock!  We talked and had dinner.  She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!

It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice.  And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource.  Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan.  I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore.  The realization was bittersweet.  But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.

 

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If you’re a cosplayer or con goer, you might know who Yaya Han is. She’s a costume designer who is known pretty well in the convention circuit. Recently, she became a cast member on the SyFy show, “Heroes of Cosplay”. Below are a photos of her cosplaying Fiora (League of Legends) and an art nouveau interpretation of Chun Li (Street Fighter) which is one of my personal favorites. As you can see, her work is amazing. I can’t imagine ever being able to perfect costumes the way she does.

 

 

Now sometime during one of my random meanderings through the interwebs, I stumbled upon a post criticizing Yaya Han. The criticism did not stem from a lack of diligence in her work or perhaps a nasty attitude, no. Rather, it was about the fact that she had expressed a desire not to be degraded because of her work and her physical endowments. The author of this post felt that Ms. Han should not have any objections to being the subject of wank sessions because her career “centers around her body”. Let’s put that up there with the rest of the justifications for cat-calling and rape now shall we guys? By this person’s logic, the moment Yaya decided to begin a career in cosplay, she was no longer in charge of her body.

Here’s another gem – “Practically all of her costumes have been of skimpily dressed characters with focus on her breasts. Of course, she has legions of guys wanking off to her. You’d think that this would be a well-known and accepted aspect to all successful models. And generally, all women should realize that dressing in a way that shows off a part of their body will attract attention to that part. But apparently Yaya missed the memo. After years of 14-30 year old lonely nerds splooging their mega milk all over their keyboards to her, she seems to have become irritated as she recently let out her thoughts on her facebook page.”

This is such an unbelievably stupid comment. Why are so many female costumes skimpy? Uhhh, because dudes duh. Men are the reason why Wonder Woman wears a bustier to fight le bad guys and female warriors in video games are expected to fight successfully in armor equivalent to a bikini. And don’t even get me started on the anatomically impossible poses. And apparently, the fact that Yaya had a breast augmentation is further justification of her “attitude problem”. The author goes on to list tips such as, “Don’t leave your tits hanging out if you don’t want to be stared at.”, “Don’t be a bitch if your boobs are just that awesome”, “Learn to take it as a compliment” and “Don’t get pornstar implants or try to “improve” your boobs if you’re just going to be in prudish denial about it.”. Tall, dark and rapist anyone? Are your alarm bells going off yet?

Now while I have no idea why Yaya chose to enhance her breasteses, that decision should in no way diminish anyone’s opinion of her. Learn to take a compliment? The breasts are not on your chest so why would you assume that you should have anything to say about it? I mean, really? What are you, a dog? I take that back. It’s an insult to dogs. Even they know what the word “No” means and obey when it is spoken.

NO-ONE should be subjected to such disgusting degradation because of the way they look. It’s really that simple.

 

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Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign.  What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out.  Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault.  Don’t be that guy.”  SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective.  From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:

Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)

Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults.  But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success.  An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.

(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)

What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting.  These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.

Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:

Definitely check out the other posters on SAVEdmonton.com!

With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world.  It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault.  SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.

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Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog.  It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr.  Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10.  And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session.  Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal.  Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education.  No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active.  If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!

The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:

I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.

Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!

My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice.  My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both.  I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources.  I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives.  Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me.  What’s your vision for sex ed?

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A team of YALC had organized a workshop on 23rd August, 2013 for grade 9 and 10 girl students at Vishwa Niketan School, Tripureshwore, Kathmandu. The main idea of the workshop was to aware students about Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Sexual Violence. There were around 30 participants.

The workshop was started by giving a short introduction about Yuwa and YALC. Then, there were sessions on SRHR and Sexual Violence. The sessions were open to discussion so the students poured out their experiences and concerns related to the subject matter. There were also one or two games in the middle to make the workshop fun which really re-energized the students.

After lunch, the students were divided into four groups and were given a task to discuss about issues related to sexual violence. They were asked to list down solutions and measures they would adopt to defend their dignity as a woman in the worst situations of abuse and violence. Each group got a chance to present their viewpoints after the group work in the form of presentation.  The students opened up to a great extent at this point. They even made slogans to fight against violence. One such interesting slogan was,” The world suffers not because of violence but because of silence of people.”

At the end, some protective techniques were shared by the council members. The council members who had facilitated this workshop were Smarika K.C, Alina Acharya and Rosy Wagley. All the participants of the workshop were very thankful to the team of YALC for being there and creating an atmosphere where their voices were heard.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Ireland Has Performed Its

First- Ever Legal Abortion,

And It Saved A Dying Woman’s

Life

(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)

The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.

Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.

The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.

The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”

Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.

The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.

SOURCE

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Yay Iceland!

How do you protest the appearance of an anti-gay preacher? Reserve all the seats at his event and then don’t show up. What was he thinking going to a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010?

“Why doesn’t feminist media treat immigration as an obvious feminist issue? Why doesn’t mainstream feminism seem to give a damn about undocumented women? Why aren’t more feminist organizations coming out in support of the Dream 9? As a comprehensive immigration reform bill is being butchered by Congress, accomplishing little more than further militarizing the border, and the Dream 9, largely led by women, continue making national headlines after participating in the most radical, risky act of civil disobedience in the history of the undocumented student movement, there is literally no excuse for the silence on behalf of feminist media.”

Great read! Aside from “Dostana” and “I Can’t Think Straight”, I hadn’t even heard about these.

Even though her latest book and other occurrences have changed my perception of her, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is still a voice that needs to be heard.

Why is there even a need to ask this question in 2013? Have you not heard all that we have been screaming about how taking advantage of women and girls in compromised situations is NEVER ok?

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One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.

The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:

  • 86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

Source: http://rhrealitycheck.tumblr.com/

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Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate

New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.

This article originally appeared on Salon.com.

Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.

But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.

Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)

“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”

Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.

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When I first started getting involved with Our Harvard Can Do Better, a campaign to dismantle rape culture at Harvard, I had no idea what Title IX was. Like many students, I thought it was a “football thing” and very skeptical as to how this football thing could be of any use to survivors of campus sexual violence. On university campuses, survivors faced not only interpersonal violence, but also administrative injustices: victim-blaming administrators dismissed the gravity of the violence and refused to make academic, residential, and extracurricular accommodations for survivors’ safety. Too often, survivors encountered two levels of injustice: one with their attackers and another with unhelpful administration. How helpful could this “sports thing” possibly be?

Actually, very. Title IX is a component of the 1972 Education Amendments that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding. Accompanying Title IX is the Clery Act, which requires education programs to disclose campus safety information and provide certain basic measures of handling sexual violence incidents. This means that the federal law mandates that colleges and universities to comply with Title IX and Clery Act requirements. For colleges and universities, these requirements include: having an established procedure for handling sexual violence grievances, taking immediate measures to ensure that survivors have continued access to education without feeling threatened, issuing no-contact directives to prevent attackers from approaching survivors, providing accurate data about on-campus crimes, and disclosing information about educational programs, disciplinary process, and survivor rights, among others. Moreover, schools cannot use intimidation to dissuade survivors from pursuing legal and/or disciplinary actions and cannot retaliate against survivors regardless of the choices they make about their assaults.

 

It is truly distressing that, despite the existence of federal laws that hold colleges and universities legally responsible for supporting survivors, most students do not know about their rights under Title IX and the Clery Act. At Harvard and other universities, survivors have not only been blamed for what happened to them, but also have had to interact regularly with their attackers because the schools refused to make accommodations. In some cases, students have even been kicked out of their schools–even though these are direct violations of federal laws.

Survivors and activists in universities all across the country have had enough, and we are doing something about it. Last week was the launch of Know Your IX, a legal education campaign, and End Rape on Campus (EROC), which provides free support to those who are filing Title IX and Clery complaints. Both resources have been created in entirety by survivors and activists themselves.

 

These are incredible resources. But they expose a disheartening reality that we don’t trust our schools. It seems absurd that, in addition to school work and extracurricular activities, we as students have to learn our rights so we can better advocates for ourselves. In a way, it’s almost like a defense strategy: we can equip ourselves with knowledge and fulfill the immediate needs of survivors, but at the heart of student activism on this issue is that rape culture exists on our campuses and that we have not been able to rely on our schools for support.

Yet, survivors and students continue their activism in ending rape culture, because care about our schools–we want to feel safe, we want to trust our schools, we want to graduate as proud alumni. This means that we need our schools and the Department of Education to keep their words. At universities all across the country, including Amherst, Harvard, OccidentalUC BerkeleyUSC, and Yale, students have been organizing. At the national level, activists of ED Act Now are demanding that the Department of Education hold universities accountable to making our campuses safe. I don’t believe that we can end rape any time soon, but this convergence of student activism, both on our respective campuses and at the national level, is a promising start. And we start with knowing our IX.

 

KS

Categories: Sexual Violence
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I must admit that I was completely and utterly surprised to read this article and hear this awful news about my wonderful alma mater.  Guess it goes to show that every institution has its flaws, but the fact that the college has not delved deeper into investigating Enrique Gaff until now, has truly surprised me.

Gaff was a music professor at the College of Charleston who has always had a great reputation working with students; helping them hone their craft and work on finding a successful career from playing the piano. However, secretly, (or maybe not so much) he has had a nasty habit of interacting inappropriately with male students on more than one occasion. Some articles even say that in some situations, he has provided drugs to some of the students as well.  Even in light of all these allegations, what seems to be a question on everyone’s mind is why nothing has been looked into.  He seems to have just gotten slaps on the wrist, and only now, under more serious circumstances, has he felt the pressure to resign so as to halt all investigations.

This story upsets me greatly because, so often is the focus on making sure female students are protected and making sure that they never fall victim to sexual misconduct;  however, we have seemed to neglect males and the fact that they too, can fall victim to sexual misconduct.  Unfortunately, it seems like their advocates don’t speak as loud.  Thankfully, this man is no longer working on the College of Charleston’s campus, but will actions be taken to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else? One can only hope. Perhaps, this case finally being brought to the forefront will decrease the chances of it happening again.

Be an advocate for what you believe an to find out more about how to be an advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights, visit www.advocatesforyouth.org.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Originally posted at Choice USA: Choice Words:

India just banned the use/exploitation of dolphins as entertainment, as they are now considered “non-human persons”Blackfish, a documentary about the psychological realities other animals face when confined in captivity, has just opened in theaters (at the distress of SeaWorld). Bird brain mapping has recently revealed that birds are “remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys,” but ‘bird brain’ is still an insult. And the U.S. State Department and President Obama have decided to push ahead with building the Keystone XL Pipeline’s southern half amongst numerous questionable building practices, even though the previous Keystone I Pipeline has leaked fourteen different times. But isn’t this the Choice USA blog? What does this have to do with reproductive justice? Everything.

feminist cat

Having grown up with cats my whole life and having a vegetarian mother, I guess you could sayI was predisposed: at age 10 I chose to become a vegetarian and at age 19 I chose to begin living a vegan lifestyle. Somewhere in between there I also became a sexual health peer educator and have dedicated all of my time and effort to the reproductive justice movement ever since— including my eating habits.

 I, like many of you, am pro-choice because I believe in each individual’s autonomy concerning their own body, lifestyle, and choices. I am pro-choice because I challenge any attempt to infringe on each individual’s freedom to control their own bodies and minds. I am pro-choice because it is not my place to coerce or use another being’s body as a means to any reproductive end she did not choose. And I am vegan for the exact same reasons.

(more…)

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When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”

Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”  State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this.  But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.

There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident.  Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things.  You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in.  It’s not just one old, white male politician.  It’s several.  And they’re not necessarily always white men.

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”

— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”

—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth.  The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education.  It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life.  And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen.  So, we advocate for the youth.  We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.

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Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.

The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise

  1. Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
  2. Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
  3. Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.

After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and  leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.

The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.

On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.

 

 

About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)

Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.

With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.

The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:

  1. “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
  2. “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
  3. “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.

As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).

Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.

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Workplace violence manifests itself in many forms, ranging from verbal abuse to physical violence to quid pro quo, a type of sexual harassment when sexual favors are requested or demanded in exchange for tangible benefits-like promotion, pay increase-or to avoid tangible harm like loss of job, demotion, etc.

Sexual harassment not only arises out of objective differences in the amount of power held in the workplace but also out of the “cultural power” which men exercise over women, in accordance with the predominant gender system which discriminates against women through the control, disposition and use of their sexuality and bodies. There are also cases, therefore, of sexual harassment among colleagues or on the part of lowerranking employees of women managers. In these cases, harassment is a mechanism used to debase their role in the work place, their professional capabilities and their leadership abilities and to draw attention to their sexuality, while at the same time undermining the exercise of power of authority by women.

According to a Business Week report (USA 2000/1), 42 per cent workers ‘witnessed others yelling and other verbal abuse’; it tops the list of the different types of workplace violence. The report recorded 29 per cent cases of ‘being yelled at co-workers themselves’, followed by 23 per cent incidents of ‘being cried over work-related issues.’ The cases of workers ‘purposely damaging machines or equipment’, and inflicting direct, ‘physical violence’ in the workplace stood at 14 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. There were 2 per cent cases of ‘striking a co-worker.’

Research in Santiago, Chile, based on interviews with 1,200 female workers in different branches of activity and of varying ranks, skills, incomes, schooling and occupations, found that 84.3% of the women thought that sexual harassment in the workplace was a fact; 20% reported having been harassed themselves, 78.4% said that sexual harassment should not be regarded simply as a personal problem, and 88.3% stated that it was clearly different from seduction or attraction. The study points out that it is possible to distinguish between more direct forms of sexual harassment, which affect

women in a situation of subordination to the hierarchical power of men, and the type of sexual harassment that consists of attempts to discredit women who occupy posts not traditionally held by women or other sorts of high-level positions, which takes the form of “putting the women in their place” (Délano and Todaro, 1993). In both cases, harassment performs the function of “disciplining” women in the working world.

Traditionally, employee stress caused by uncaring managers, long service hours, unrealistic deadlines and unnecessary work interruptions is attributed to the rise in workplace violence. Office layout designs with small rooms or cubicles amidst the noise and commotion from those around the employees are other factors contributing to such violence. However, for modern management experts, the dangerously dysfunctional work environment is the root cause of the workplace violence.

There are a number of factors that constitute the dysfunctional work environment. These factors include the rapid and unpredictable change (in which instability and uncertainty plague employees), authoritarian leadership (with a rigid, militaristic mindset of managers), repetitive and boring work, and double standards in terms of policies, procedures and human resource development opportunities for employees.

Likewise, another factor is the ‘destructive’ communication style in which managers communicate in an excessively aggressive, condescending, or explosive style; it takes the form of excessive workplace teasing and ‘scapegoating.’ Chances of violence rise, as managers make no attempt to get proper help for ‘emotionally troubled employees’.

Unresolved grievances tend to pile up dangerously when the management- because of personal favors or trade union pressures- protects ‘dysfunctional and problematic individuals’, only to increase work-related violence cases. Hazardous work environment as well as faulty operation process and equipment also results in a dysfunctional workplace where violence is most likely.

Sexual violence is not limited to the workplace. This form of abuse of authority and blackmail is also found in educational institutions, where it consists of imposing undesired sexual activity on female students as a requirement for passing a course. There is a tremendous lack of statistical information on this form of harassment in the region, due to the absence of studies on the causes, forms and consequences of sexual harassment of female students. Furthermore, when incidents of this nature do become known, they are usually extreme cases of rape or abuse of minors.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Over the past few decades, gender-based violence has increasingly come to be recognized as a serious problem at the international level, not only for women but also for the attainment of equality, development and peace (United Nations, 1986).  The issue has also become a priority for women’s organizations in the region and a subject for feminist thought during the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace  (1976-1985), and in recent years Governments in the region have also begun to devote attention to the issue.

Although in 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which incorporated women into the sphere of human rights, but it doesn’t denote all kinds of the discrimination or other issues. Since, the term gender based violence was such vague topic; the actual definition was not defined properly.

Later in 1980, another world conference was held, World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held in Copenhagen, adopted the resolution on “Battered women and violence in the family”, specific problem began to manifest, paragraph 288 of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985), issued by the Third World Conference, calls for specific measures to deal with violence against women. In 1989, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that member States report on violence against women and the measures adopted at the governmental level to eradicate it.

At the Expert Group Meeting on Violence against Women held in 1991, it was determined that the existing instruments did not give due consideration to gender-based violence and that a specific definition of this crime was lacking. At the region level, pursuant to the resolution entitled “Women and violence” adopted at the Fifth Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into the Economic and Social Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, 1991b) and General Assembly resolution 45/114 on domestic violence (United Nations, 1990), the documents and policy recommendations issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) have characterized the problem of gender-based violence as one of the obstacles that must be overcome in order to improve the status of women in the countries of the region and achieve development with social equity. Women’s groups in the region have carried out a variety of activities to promote respect for women’s human rights. This process intensified during the preparations for the United Nations World Conference on Human rights, held in Vienna in June 1993. In the year 1997, new international instruments was proposed which recognized that all forms of gender-based violence are human rights violations: declaration 48/104 of the United Nations General Assembly on the elimination of violence against women and an inter-American convention on the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women, which has been proposed by the Organization of American States through its Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW).

In summary, progress has been made mainly in two areas: dissemination of information about violence against women and violations of their human rights. Governments and nongovernmental organizations are also organizing information and sensitization campaigns that help to make the problem known and offer various informational and preventive measures. The media, too, are more open to publishing articles denouncing gender-based violence, editorials concerning the issue and the conclusions of studies on the subject. Gender-based violence is no longer reserved for the news sections devoted to police case reports. Professionals and students of various specializations are also showing more interest in the problem. The academic world has been slow to study the causes, consequences and characteristics of gender-based violence, but the fact that it is now doing so is an important advance.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Andy is Nigeria guy that has been living and schooling with his older sister for the past 15 months. Andy is in a relationship with his landlord’s daughter. Andy decides to be the chef in the house because his sister who is a banker always comes back home late from work, his sister is very grateful to him for saving her from the stress of doing more work, because she comes back home everyday to a good meal already served.

Unfortunately for her, Andy has his own “evil” intention. She realizes her period is 3 months late, and she goes for a pregnancy test and discovers to her dismay that she is 13 weeks pregnant and she doesn’t have a clue how it all happened.

One faithful day her colleague at work followed her home after work and as usual food was ready, she served her the food and didn’t have any left to eat. After her colleague’s departure she goes to sleep. Andy thought his sister ate the food and as usual started romancing her, when he undressed her and himself, she suddenly woke up and started shouting on top of her voice her voice. Her neighbors’ came to her aid just to discover them naked. She explains the whole scenario to them, and the neighbors call the police and got Andy arrested. Andy explains that he drugs his sister’s food daily just to have sex with her for the past 8 months.

As if this isn’t enough drama for Andy, the landlord’s daughter comes to tell him she is pregnant for him. Andy’s sister decides to go for an abortion, but is told that the procedure would be detrimental to her health, and she might lose her life if she proceeds with the option.

What decision would you make concerning yourself and your brother if in this situation?

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Military sexual assault is just now starting to come out of the woodwork. It seems just recently that we have to ask why it seems that nothing has ever been addressed. When you watch the documentary The Invisible War, the most shocking part is how long high ranking officials knew of these issues and did little to nothing to dissuade the issue. In fact, it was ruled that rape is actually an occupational hazard of the military. Military sexual assault is also an interesting problem because it makes people face that this is not just a women’s issue, for a variety of reasons. In this case, it is estimated that more men than women are actually raped statistically in the military. People wonder why this is, and your answers to their curiosity could be a positive factor in how they view rape and sexual assault in the rest of society.

 

When women are raped, many often fall back on the old standby of blaming the victim: what she was wearing, how much she was drinking, if she was walking home by herself etc. The list extends almost indefinitely. These excuses and myths rely heavily on societal sexualization of the female and her “weaker” disposition. These myths are directly challenged when men are raped because often the victim blaming questions don’t apply. When this happens, we are finally able to push the reality of rape not as a crime of sex motivated by attraction, but as a crime of violence motivated by power and control which can affect anyone regardless of any extenuating circumstances. Once we take into account the reality of rape in our society, the powerful change and societal shift should be to tell rapists DON’T RAPE instead of putting blame on victims!.

 

For information on sexual assault and domestic violence centers in your area, you can text SEXT to 74574!

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.

READ MORE HERE.

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The video below is about a wonderful movement I found called Everyday Sexism. Started by Laura Bates after she experienced a crippling instant of sexual harassment, it aims to combat the WHOPPING LIE that we as a society, have achieved gender equality. Women are constantly dismissed and told that we are being too sensitive. If we are raped, of course we asked for it. If we want control over our bodies, we are sluts and murderers. If we want to be treated like actual human beings, then we are accused of having a “political agenda”.

The stories told by these women are ghastly. It’s so disgusting that there are people out there who think they have every right to make such lewd advances.

If you have a story, share it here. Add your voice to the all the others and keep shouting back.

DESTROY. THE. PATRIARCHY!!!

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Amidst mass protests in Egypt over the past week, reports are emerging that dozens of women have been sexually assaulted. So far there have been 91 reported instances of harassment, assault, or rape according to Human Rights Watch. The number is estimated to be much higher, for a known global phenomenon is that most survivors do not ever report assault or rape.

Some believe these attacks have been executed to discourage women from joining the protests, while others believe attackers hope to benefit from the chaos and lawlessness the protests have created. We could point fingers all day at everything from Egypt’s unaccountable justice system to a patriarchal culture to the attackers themselves, and yet these attacks are still happening.

Sexual assaults not only hurt those who are attacked; they hurt families, cities, and nations. Women who are afraid to enter public spaces are stripped from their right to engage with civil society. Strategically isolating women “from fully participating in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development” devoids Egypt of potential organizers, activists and leaders.

Despite the incorrigible assaults, Egyptians are firmly sending a message to attackers. Photos from Tahrir Square depict a buffer zone between male and female protestors. The Associate Press believes this is to create an intentional human shield. While I am a bit wary of this tactic, I applaud protestors for taking action on the ground.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/human-shield-tahrir-square-egypt-sexual-violence_n_3540970.html

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Men being the potential perpetrators, shouldn’t they be banned from walking at night and restricted to doing things that could lead to raping a woman instead of women?

Why should being born as a man be a privilege and being born as a woman be a curse? If a man cannot control his sexual urges then how is being raped a woman’s fault?

I think the society has been preventing women to fully use her rights in the name of Protection. This has been running down since ages, but it does not have to continue. I advocate for gender equity before equality because women are still treated as 2nd class beings. And only after woman’s position is raised to the level of men in the society, equality can be attained.

If there are things women need to take care of in order to end rape, there are certain things MEN need to undertake too. Why should all preventive measures, precautions be focused only for women? If the points on the picture above sounds ridiculous to you,  I am sorry to say my dear but, you are blinded by this biased society.

 

Shristi Khadka

YALC 2013

Nepal

Categories: Sexual Violence
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 It is no mistake, and it is not mere happenstance, that Lifetime refused to allow me to make a show for them about complex, nuanced Latinas, yet greenlit a show about Latinas as sexy domestic servants. It isn’t a matter of me being too sensitive and lacking a sense of humor, and it isn’t a matter of me not liking maids. It is about the way the Latina maid stereotype beautifully cleaves to the time-honored imperialistic way this country has dealt with its Spanish-speaking neighbors in the Americas. My vision of us – as autonomous human beings – is simply too threatening to be considered realistic.”

Opinion: The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood

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A Chinese company is advertising “super sexy, summertime anti-pervert full-leg-of-hair stockings” that is “essential for all young girls going out”.

WHAT?!

I feel like a broken record on this subject. Conservations should not center on altering your appearance in order to avoid sexual harassment and assault, but rather on how to teach people consent and respect. On the surface these leggings may seem like a silly thing you would find in a joke shop, but it furthers the notion that ending harassment and violence is the receiver’s responsibility.

Attaching this message to products with the intention of profiting is bizarre. In addition, the attempt to make a “joke product” that depends on an entire system of fear and violence really upsets me.  Why are people capitalizing on violence and supporting rape culture instead of developing socially responsible products?

Categories: Sexual Violence
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“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”

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This week there has been a lot of discussion around sexual assault in the military. On June 4, the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first hearing this session and the following day the House Armed Services Committee approved legislation that will establish stricter prosecution and punishment measures for perpetrators of assault. The bill is expected to move to the House floor next week. The major theme that prevailed through these talks was the question of who should address sexual assault cases. Heated debates pursued, but the overwhelming response was clear: keep this issue within the chain of command.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill that would allow military prosecutors to establish separate courts and pick juries and judges to handle the cases. In addition, it forbade commanders from overturning convictions or reducing sentences. Allowing military prosecutors to decide which sexual assault cases will go to trial provides protection for service members to step forward without facing potential backlash from commanders. Gillibrand defiantly argued against those advocating for internal resolution stating that, “Not all commanders are objective. Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together”.

There was great support for Gillibrand’s proposal among the 7 women on the Senate committee and the 18 cosponsors. However, 18 out of the 20 witnesses, along with the Joint Chiefs, pressed that keeping cases within the military justice system was best.

A snapshot from the Senate hearing of the witnesses reveals that despite women’s elevated role in this hearing, their underrepresentation in politics and the military deters their ability to influence military culture.

Associated Press

We can see that 11 of the 12 presenting witnesses are aging military men. They’re talking to the Joint Chiefs who are also military men that were raised and socialized in a period when sexual assault was even more hushed up than it is now.

It is imperative to create a culture where people feel comfortable voicing their concerns without facing intimidation or retaliation. Most whistleblower programs are facilitated through uninvolved, third party institutions in order to encourage people to report problems while protecting their identity. These programs are a no-brainer, so why are leaders afraid to break from the rigid hierarchy of the military?

In my opinion, it is all about power and signaling. Overhauling the military justice system reflects a failure to successfully protect its members. Signaling weakness to the world would have implications for recruitment and the institution’s reputation among other nations. The irony of this is that the military does not care about the individuals experiencing sexual assault; it cares about upholding the “elite” image of the military. Most commanders are threatened by transferring some of their duties to military prosecutors. For an institution that modernizes slowly, this relinquishment of power would acknowledge the ineptitude of the military to manage itself and highlights how deeply institutionalized sexual harassment and assault is in our security apparatus.

A drastic and pervasive problem such as sexual assault demands an equally drastic plan to end it. That means securing justice for those assaulted, and challenging the aggressive nature of the military that harbors sexual assault. Thus far, the military has failed to internally address issues related to sexual assault, and the time has come for the military to forfeit their monopoly on the justice system.

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If you haven\’t browsed the #safetytipsforwomen hashtag on Twitter, you probably should. It consists of sarcastic tweets for women, highlighting the fact that women\’s behavior is not the cause of rape, rather people are just horrible.

Leigh Hofheimer at canyouralate.org (run by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence) posted this. She was inspired by ridiculous violence prevention tips targeted at victims, like they are the problem and not the attacker.

Ten rape prevention tips:

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.

10. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

This is satiric gold!

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Part one and part two of this series has outlined the structural nature of rape culture in the US military that is made of and results in severe lack of trust, abuse of power, and a staunch unwillingness to make necessary changes. Those outside the command structure of the military however are more than ready to force them in line. Since February, six pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress and the Senate that, together, tackle these problems in a comprehensive way.

The Ruth Moore Act

The first is the Ruth Moore Act, introduced on February 13th by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Jon Tester. It is named after a veteran who joined the service 25 years ago at the age of eighteen. When she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a supervisor, she tried to report the crime but was “attacked again in return and discharged…with a misdiagnosis of border-line personality disorder.”

(more…)

Categories: Other, Sexual Violence
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On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.

El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureauthe National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.

The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.

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This is the experience shared by a 22-year-old married woman regarding the marital sexual violence she is grappling with Living at Lalitpur,Nepal

 

 

I always tried to convince him that I was not interested in having sex. But he would not be convinced and used to force me into having sex unmindful of my mood. What could I do to resist him in such situation, except give up and tolerate?”He thinks that it is the right of the husband to demand sex at any time he wishes from his wife after marriage and he would not be convinced no matter how much I tried to drive home the point. He took me as his slave,” she said adding that her husband would not bother about her feelings, mood and sentiment.”Still I cannot raise my voice. If I talk about this with somebody, it would be disgraceful for me. If the society comes to know about this, then I will be looked upon in bad light. So, because of this only I am compelled to tolerate this injustice,” said this 22-year-old woman.

 

Not only her, another 21-year-old married woman who hails from the Tarai [the southern plains region of the country], is also the victim of the marital sexual violence. It has been only one year she got married. “If I was literate, may be I could speak out against this kind of exploitation,” she sometimes wonders. But she does not have the courage to speak out against her husband.

“I tolerated all this during normal period; but he would demand for sex even when I had my periods. With whom should I go and share these things? Sometimes I even went to my parents’ house to avoid him, but for how long? You cannot stay at your parents’ house for long,” said this woman from the Tarai. She said in the initial days after their marriage her husband would not force her into having sex. But she found her husband’s behaviour was gradually changing. She said her husband used to watch hardcore sex movies at night and also made her watch, and tried the same methods on her as shown in the porn movies.

“In the beginning I resisted him, but for how long could I stop him? So due to this we were not in good terms. I was fed up with all this. So, presently I have left my so-called husband and am staying at my parents’ house,” she said.

 

According to the Centre for Research on Environment, Health and Population Activities (CREPHA) , a study carried out  showed that 43 per cent Muslim women are victims of marital sexual violence followed by women of the Tharu community at 40 per cent, Tamang community 22 percent and Brahmin and Chhetri community at 20 per cent.

 

Women suffer from different physical and mental problems due to this kind of sexual violence against them. Most of the women suffering from sexual violence suffer mentally, they suffer from pain in the lower abdomen, swelling of the private parts and pain ,burning sensation in the sex organs ,excessive bleeding and have problems even during pregnancy.

 

When a 22-year-old Muslim woman shared her problems with other women members of her family, she was told to shut up and concentrate only on household work.She says her problems are far from over. “Neither did I get any consolation nor any treatment when I told them about my problem. When fellow women themselves have such attitude, what do you expect from the male members,” she wondered.

 

A majority of women suffering from sexual violence from their husbands have taken up various measures for avoiding that. Some 90 percent of women suffering from sexual violence try to convince their husbands that what they are doing is not the correct way and is against their will. Many women even lie about having their period or sleep with their children or sleep in a separate room and fake feeling unwell. But only 49.4 percent among them are successful to protect themselves f\rom the sexual violence of their husbands.

 

It was found in a study carried out by CREPHA from 2009 to July 2010 that mostly women whose husbands are illiterate, drunkards, have more than one wife and have extra-marital relations suffer more from sexual violence.
Married women could be protected from sexual violence by educating the husbands on gender issues. Various programmes could be brought to promote and improve interaction between wife and husband.

 

 Since only punishing an individual is not enough for addressing the problem of sexual violence within marriage, the policy makers should bring appropriate programmes discouraging the social and cultural habits that increase gender disparity, providing care and support to women affected by sexual violence and punishing the perpetrators.

 

The Act of Domestic Violence and Punishment has been formulated in 2009 since the planners, policy-makers and researchers have started paying attention to addressing the problem of sexual violence against women after marriage. According to this Act, marital rape is considered a violation of human rights and a punishable offence that carries jail sentence of three to six months depending on the nature of the offence.

 

Categories: Sexual Violence
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What’s wrong Jamaica?

 

Tell me .. what really is the problem?

The bodies of two female children, one four and one eight found dead, bodies severed .. in the space of one week?!? It’s ridiculous .. frightening and downright barbaric!

These tragic incidents are a sad note to culminate child’s month (May 2013) and also a stark reminder of how much we are yet to do to protect our children.

Its a very scary world we have come to live in where we realize that no life is considered sacred any more. The vulnerable, our children were ideally protected… so now if our children can be killed in such a barbaric fashion what says the rest of us?

We are not safe.

<3 kevz

Categories: Sexual Violence
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There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights.  One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action.  When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization.  According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.”  They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites.  To this organization, abortion is:

An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken.  But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous.  Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.

The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website.  Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on.  One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice.  The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth.  You can watch her video response here.  I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.

It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though.  Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action.  Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff.  The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident.  But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.

Seriously!  Click the link below to watch!

http://www.slate.com/articles/video/slate_v/2013/05/abortion_clinic_video_exposing_fake_selectively_edited_hidden_camera_footage.html

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WD time is now

What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in todays world are.   But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.

The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality, declared UNFPAs deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.

But well, we the youths of this generation wont sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.

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“To  free the people still under colonial  rule, let us  accept to die a little or even completely so that the  African Union doesn’t become mere words”.  These are the words of Ahmed Ben Bella one of those African leaders present in Addis Ababa on the 25th of May 1963 to form what is today known as the African Union.
Why do I quote Ahmed Ben Bella? and why am I talking about the African Union?, it’s exactly 50 years today that this historic event took place and I happen to be in the very historic town of Addis where African heads of states and other major decision makers from around the African continent have also gathered to celebrate this event.

50years is worth  celebrating no doubt, but what  do Africans have to celebrate the African Union for ? Economic growth ?,political independence ? social progress ?,or  technological advancement ? An answer to this will depend on which side of the board one finds his/herself. There is no doubt that strides have been made  in some of the mentioned above areas, but  if there one area in which the African Union has woefully failed is in the area of the empowerment of  girls, women, and youths.

 Having a woman at the  helm of the African Union-Nkosazana Nzuma, and another -Helene Johnson Sirleaf at the helm of one of its nations ;Liberia is the arguement many will advance to contradict my above assertion, but they are just two in  millions who are languising in poverty,dieing while giving birth,reduced to sexual slaves, and considered in many cultures  as good only for child bearing. Statistics on these issues in Africa abound and I will not like to come back to them here. Same arguement will be advanced as concerns the plight of African youths.But how many of them occupy posts of responsibility in the communities from which they hail or live in ? How many of them have been given the opportunity by policy makers to participate in the formulation and implementation of policies ;even on issues that affect them the most ? A very tiny proportion, is the answer I will give you.

In a write-up to mark this day titled : The Africa We Want to See,the current chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Nzuma amongst other things talks of this being an opportunity to take stock of Africa today,its assets, capabilities,opportunities , and challenges. She is definitely right and inorder  for the African Union not to become mere words as feared by Ahmed Ben Bella, Africa through the African Union and its people must deliver for its main assets which is its people- especially girls, women , and youths. The time is for African girls, women, and youths is now ! I am utterly convinced that the African delegates and other stakeholders at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference will make cristal clear and that concrete actions will be taken  to ensure that the plight of the African girl,woman , and youth takes  central stage in the various policy formulation and implementation processes accross our beloveth continent ;Africa.

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…And the Scandals Keep Coming

Two new scandals involving a Sergeant and a Lieutenant Colonel responsible for sexual assault prevention programs have come to light recently, adding to the three scandals I reported on last week. The two new reports from Fort Hood and Fort Campbell demonstrate again that sexual assault in the military is structural and demands fundamental changes. My next post, detailing the six pieces of legislation that have been introduced to combat this problem will be posted next week. This week, I’m looking at the new developments and examining the response they’ve gotten from the White House and the Pentagon.

Obama’s Press Conference; Response from Pentagon

Even before the two most recent scandals were revealed, President Obama was asked about the issue during his press conference with Korea’s President Park on May 7th. A reporter asked for his response on the culture in the military that perpetuates these problems and what can be done to fix them.

“[The President] warned that he wanted swift and sure action, not ‘just more speeches or awareness programs or training.’ Sexual offenders need to be ‘prosecuted, stripped of their position, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.’”

(more…)

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?

On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”

The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.

If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.

Mississippi’s manslaughter laws were not intended to apply in cases of stillbirths and miscarriages. Four times between 1998 through 2002, Mississippi lawmakers rejected proposals that would have set specific penalties for damaging a fetus by using illegal drugs during pregnancy. But Mississippi prosecutors say that two other state laws allow them to charge Buckhalter. One definesof manslaughter as the “killing of a human being, by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another”; another includes “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth” in the state’s definition of human beings.

The cause of any given miscarriage or stillbirth is difficult to determine, and many experts believe there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to drugs in utero can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. Because of this, prosecuting Buckhalter opens the door to investigating and prosecuting women for any number of other potential causes of a miscarriage or stillbirth, her lawyers argued in a filing to the state Supreme Court—”smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, exercising against doctor’s orders, or failing to follow advice regarding conditions such as obesity or hypertension.” Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King also raised this question in the oral arguments last month: “Doctors say women should avoid herbal tea, things like unpasteurized cheese, lunch meats. Exactly what are the boundaries?”

READ MORE HERE

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Respect. I think the word that best describes what I’m trying to get at with this blog. I feel like there’s this notion in society today that a women’s self-respect and self-worth lie completely between her legs, and because of this notion a lot of other social issues arise. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase have some respect for yourself ladies and keep your legs closed. Statements like this pigeonhole women and keep society in that outdated mindset that all a woman is good for is sex and childbearing. Self-respect, to me, has to do with self-love and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s like a reverse golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated” treating yourself that way too. Self-respect has nothing to do with how much sex you have or how revealing your clothes are.

So, “slut-shaming” is what I’m getting at now. “Slut-shaming” is the shaming or acting of woman, making her feel inferior or guilty for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that deviate from traditional norms or expectations. Girls do it, calling each other sluts with no self-respect because they make sexual decisions that are simply different from their own. And by doing this, they open a door for men and the rest of society to disrespect women and look down on women who simply have different viewpoints than their own. This just adds to the inequality of women and double standards, because you less often see anyone calling a man a slut with no self-respect.

So all of this serves to contribute to another, bigger societal problem which is “victim blaming.” It’s the mindset that women are responsible for being raped, or “they were asking for it,” because of the way they were dressed, the way they were acting or the amount of drugs or alcohol in their system. This culture in society emphasizes and teaches victims not to get raped, or not to do things that would promote getting raped, rather than punishing perpetrators and teaching not to rape. No matter what the person is wearing or how they may be acting, forced sex without consent is rape. Keeping in mind that consent cannot be obtained if the person is passed out drunk. So where did “rape culture” and “victim blaming” come from?  Well if we’re allowing society to look down on women as “sluts,” then we can’t be surprised when that same society isn’t sympathetic towards them when they are raped.

Back to respect. Respect is essential to stopping “slut-shaming” and the problems that emerge from it. Having respect is having an open mind towards understanding that not everyone’s opinion on sex and how and when to have it is going to be same as yours. Rather than resorting to calling each other names, we should open our minds and our hearts towards understanding people who are simply different than ourselves.

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Why Nothing has Changed…Yet.

Along with epidemic rates of sexual assault, a large part of the US military’s problem with these crimes is the rape culture that the structure of the military, under current rules, holds in place. We’ve known for a long time that the military had this problem, but things may have a chance of changing in the near future. Recent scandals have come to light over the past few months (and days) that demonstrate the structural failings that make this situation so dire. We’ve always been outraged that this kind of criminal behavior happens, but I don’t believe it’s until recently that those with the power to change things in the military have finally started to understand the real root of the problem.

To actually make a difference, to get real, positive results, you need to focus on how these crimes are permitted to occur, not just on the fact that they occur. The three examples below show why it’s so important that the way troops report their assaults and the way the military responds to these reports- changes.

1). Lieutenant General Craig Franklin
In early March, Lt. Gen. Franklin decided to overturn Lt. Col. James Wilkerson’s rape conviction. The jury of the military court had found him guilty of sexual assault; he was dismissed from the Air Force and sentenced to 1 year in prison. All of that went away, however, when Franklin, citing his “convening authority,” decided he wanted Wilkerson back at work. One man, without any legal training, overturned the verdict of a jury just because he wanted to. And under current military rules, it was perfectly legal. Not even the Secretary of the Air Force or the Secretary of Defense can undo Franklin’s decision.

In a letter, Lt. Gen. Franklin claimed that he would have been “entirely remiss of [his] sworn military duty and responsibility,” if he hadn’t overturned Wilkerson’s conviction. He lists a few reasons for his decision, several of which clearly place blame and suspicion on the victim. *Relevant Fact: The victim was staying the night as a guest at Lt. Col. Wilkerson’s house.

“The victim turned down three offers of a ride and seemed to have differing reasons why she wanted to stay.”

“The victim had trouble identifying and describing parts of the house, didn’t remember the attacker’s mustache, and didn’t correctly describe her path out of the house.”

As Senator Claire McCaskill correctly ascertains , “This letter is filled with selective reasoning and assumptions from someone with no legal training…” Andrea Mitchell also expressed her surprise at this policy on her MSNBC show.

“I don’t understand the Military Code of Justice, in that it was a reason for dismissal, for expulsion, from the military until last year if you violated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Yet if you were found guilty in a military court of criminal assault, of rape, you could go back to your unit. How is that possible?”

How can you have faith in a system when if your report is taken seriously and if your case goes to trial and if your attacker is found guilty, it’s still possible to receive no justice? These are structural problems.
2). Lieutenant General Susan Helms
In late April, Lt. Gen. Susan Helms’ nomination for promotion to Vice Commander of Space Command was placed on hold by Senator Claire McCaskill when she learned that, similar to Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, she overturned a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case. Captain Matthew S. Herrera was sentenced to just two months in prison, but apparently Helms thought this was too harsh. She reduced the charge to “an indecent act,” and, in an internal memo, explained her decision in a way even more offensive than Franklin.

Helms wrote that it was not unreasonable for Herrera to believe that the woman had given implied consent.

Remember, this legal decision was based entirely on Helms’ opinion of what may have happened. She also wrote:

“It is undoubtedly true that [the accuser’s] feelings of victimization are real and justifiable.”
“However, Captain Herrera’s conviction should not rest on [the accuser’s] view of her victimization, but the law and convincing evidence.”

This is stunning considering that the legal system did indeed feel there was enough convincing evidence to convict Captain Herrera. From these comments, Lt. Gen. Helms clearly has no understanding of what rape is, yet she is legally permitted to overturn legal convictions based on this flawed understanding. It is a fundamental, structural flaw in the system that this is permitted.
3). Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski
Earlier this month, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, head of the Air Force branch of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, was arrested in Arlington, Virginia and charged with sexual battery against a civilian woman he did not know in a parking lot. He has been removed from his position, which he’s held for only two months, pending an investigation. On Thursday, before a civilian court, his trial date was set for July 18th, though his lawyer had tried to get the date pushed back to October. He remained silent in the court room, only responding to Judge Richard J. McCue when asked if he understood the charge against him.
If the people in charge of preventing sexual assault commit it themselves, it’s no wonder that survivors have heavy doubts of their ability to receive justice. It is this fear, along with fear of retaliation and fear that accusing someone of sexual assault may cost the accuser their job or their chance at promotion. As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said to Andrea Mitchell on May 7th, “Our big problem here is structural.”
Response from Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh
During a hearing before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on May 7th, Gen. Mark Welsh was asked his thoughts on the military’s problem with high rates of sexual assault. His response is an example of why untrained commanding officers should not be the ones responsible for handling accusations of rape. This is what the Chief of Staff of the Air Force thinks the problem boils down to:

“Roughly 20% of the young women who come in to the Department of Defense and the Air Force report that they were sexually assaulted in some way before they came into the military. So, they come in from the society where this occurs. Some of it is, uh, a ‘hook up’ mentality. Junior high and even high school students now, which my children can tell you about from watching their friends and being frustrated by it. The same demographic group moves into the military. Uh, we have got to change the culture once they arrive, the way they behave, the way they treat other…”

Civilians choosing to have consensual, casual sex is the reason rates of sexual assault are so high in the military? If only female survivors of sexual assault would stay out of the military, there wouldn’t be this problem? Just because you’ve had sex in the past and just because you’ve survived sexual assault does not mean you’re the reason that sexual assault is so prevalent in your line of work. This is clear victim blaming. This is the reasoning of one of the top officers in the Air Force. Is it any wonder nothing gets done?! The. Problem. Is. Structural.

Two Steps in the Right Direction


1). Since April, those in “high-level military or intelligence positions” are no longer required “to disclose that they sought counseling when applying for a higher intelligence clearance.” This will be of great assistance to survivors of sexual assault, who “often forego counseling for fear it will effect their ability to rise through the ranks.” Think Progress shares the story of Jennifer Norris, former member of the Maine National Guard who got counseling after she was raped.

“But then it came time to renew the security clearance she needed for her job…”
“…she decided to leave the National Guard rather than ‘sharing that information with all those people when my husband didn’t even know.’”

This exemption now joins family, grief, marital, and post-combat stress counseling, which themselves have only been options since 2008. One study found that women in the military who had survived sexual assault were nine times more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so the ability to receive counseling without fear of your privacy being violated is essential for these service members’ mental health.
2). Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Barbara Boxer are preparing a bill to present to the Senate Armed Forces Committee that would make significant, structural changes to the way sexual assault is reported and prosecuted in the military. Gillibrand said in a statement to the Village Voice, “We have to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases and takes on the culture that perpetuates this kind of behavior.”

Gillibrand’s bill would apply [Secretary of Defense Chuck] Hagle’s suggestions by amending the Uniform Military Code of Justice’s Article 60 – the law would change so convening authorities cannot set aside convictions or change guilty ones.

She described the bill further to Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC on May 9th.

“We’re trying to write a bill that will change how men and women who are assaulted report these crimes so they feel that justice could be done. And so our bill is going to remove that from the chain of command and have them report directly to a trained prosecutor who knows these issues and knows how to investigate the cases and prosecute the crimes.”
“I think in that instance more men and women will feel comfortable reporting, you’ll have a better reporting rate, and justice will be done in more cases.”

Other Media on this Issue
The Invisible War- documentary
Lauren- online series
Senator Gillibrand- senate hearing

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“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.

Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.

Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.

Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”

READ MORE HERE.

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Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask?  Well, just about everything.

Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent.  And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion.  Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services.  As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.

So, how’d we do?  Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least.  Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies.  Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity.  Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.

From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so.  Here’s my take on it.

The Good:

  • Recognizes that human rights are universal and must be promoted and protected regardless of migration status
  • Mentions SRH/SRHR five times, with specific attention paid to the prevention of and response to sexual violence, including the provision of emergency contraception and safe abortion services where permitted by law
  • Calls for gender sensitive migration policies and actions that empower women and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, coercion, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation and abuse of women and girls, including protections for women migrant domestic workers
  • Urges special attention (albeit only in a preambular paragraph) to young people’s vulnerability to HIV due to social and economic inequities, stigma, discrimination, gender-based and sexual violence, gender inequality, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention as well as access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • Encourages governments to eliminate any remaining HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, and residence

The Bad:

  • Includes language in two places which restricts access to services based on migration or legal status, as well as an entire paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations in accordance with national laws, “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”—in essence rendering everything in the resolution optional if countries disagree with its tenets
  • Neglects young people, who are only mentioned twice, both of which are in the preambular paragraphs which carry less significance than the operational paragraphs; adolescents do get a minor mention in OP30 which calls for services to be provided to women and adolescents that are sensitive to their needs, with particular attention to sexual violence survivors

And the Ugly:

  • Rejected language suggestions from several countries that would recognize the rights of young people, including access to SRH services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education
  • Eliminated the only operational paragraph solely addressing the specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities of young migrants
  • Refused to include a single mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite three attempts to do so

After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

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According to WHO (1997), the gender violence throughout the life cycle are enumerated as follows

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Categories: Sexual Violence
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Hi!

My name is Karachi and I am here to share with you the wondrously-baffling gospel of Tyler Perry. Ladies, Mr. Perry would like you to know that if you cheat on your God-fearing, hardworking, high school sweetheart husband, you WILL feel the wrath of the almighty. This wrath will come in the form of HIV, which will be transmitted by the most evil man ever – the HIV-positive, craptastic, psycho of a man whom no woman would fall for…unless of course she was a character in a Tyler Perry movie. ‘Cos we all know that women, black women, are just spineless, money-grubbing hos who destroy perfect marriages and are only brave enough to pour a pot of hot grits on an abusive husband when Madea tells us to.

It is QUITE interesting to see how Perry chose to portray HIV-positive people in 2013. It is especially interesting considering that the immigration and travel ban on HIV-positive people was only lifted 3 years ago, and that the International AIDS conference was finally held in the US again after 22 years as a result of this lift. So imagine how it feels, after all this progress, to have Mr. Perry come along with this epic fail of a movie. No seriously, even if you take away the HIV stigma, and the ridiculous characters who must only exist in the alternate universe contained solely in Tyler Perry’s mind, the movie still blows. I am hopeful that Tyler Perry or one of his employees will see this post, and offer me my $10.50 back, along with their sincere apologies for the atrocities inflicted on my mind and eyes.

I tried unsuccessfully, to vlog about this travesty of a movie, but failed. I failed because the entire time I sat there laughing in incredulity or with this expression on my face.

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It was just difficult to flow from point to point without veering off into head-shaking and other assorted expressions of disgust.

So let’s talk about some of the other things that went on in the movie. Warning, there are spoilers ahead as I have to divulge some of the plot in order to create an understanding of the issues I am discussing.

The main character, Judith, is a young woman who has recently moved to DC with her husband; an equally religious man whom she has known since she was young. She dreams of becoming a marriage counsellor, but is working as a counsellor at a matchmaking agency owned by Vanessa fake-French-accent Williams. One day, a young, rich, handsome, black man comes in (after we have been subjected to Kim Kardashian’s forced acting and God-awful voice) and is revealed to be the founder/CEO/whatever of a social media platform. This man, who is to be known from this point onward as “The Devil”, wastes no time flirting with Judith and pointing out the many inadequacies in her marriage. If I ever met this man in real life, I would take off my shoes and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction because he’s a complete nightmare.

Long story short, the blissful marriage begins to sour when Judith finds that the Devil pays more attention to her, and could offer her a more exciting life. Eh-mah-gerd! Sex that doesn’t happen in a bed with the pillows previously fluffed and with the lights off! It’s a whole new life! Judith’s husband offers her the chance to leave a street altercation unharmed after she has been heckled by a group of young, black men, explaining that they could have had guns; the Devil on the other hand, nearly pummels an innocent cyclist after Judith is injured from running into the bicycle because she was too busy trash talking with her head turned backwards during a run. The Devil also offers creepy possessiveness, calling her at home one night and asking why Judith’s husband doesn’t question who she’s on the phone with. “If you were mine, I’d want to know who you were talking to”. *swoon* Yes, this is on the list of qualities a woman looks for in a man, right next to being watched while asleep Edward Cullen-style.

The icing on this grossly dysfunctional cake was watching the Devil semi-rape Judith on his private plane. I sat in the theater, mouth agape, “Wait! What? There’s MORE?!” He pawed her repeatedly as she protested, asking him to stop. He did stop. And then he said something that nearly shut my brain down because it was so hard to process, “Now you can say you resisted”. And because this is an alternate reality, what followed was passionate monkey sex. Douchetards of the world now have another handy technique for raping women. Thanks Tyler Perry. After all that, what came next was predictable…up to a certain point. Judith leaves her husband, the Devil shoves her mother as she tries to stop her erring child from making a mistake, Judith berates him for shoving her mother, and the boxing gloves come out. Her husband finds out the Devil is HIV-positive and swoops in to rescue her, finding her in a tub looking like she just came out of a match against Gina Carano. In the grand finale, Judith is HIV positive, and comes to pick up her medication from the pharmacy where her husband works, and encounters his new wife and son on her way out. The movie ends with Judith walking down the street, ALONE, going back to meet her mother at church. She dissed Jesus, and she was punished, and she has no other place to go but back to him. Yes I get that the entire movie was supposed to symbolize what Perry deems to be normal gender roles and traditional Christianity.

I have so many questions:

  1. Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?

  2. Are we supposed to believe that a woman who professionally advised people about their relationships completely failed to discuss the problems in her own marriage and vaulted over to the Devil’s side after he bought her roses for her birthday, noticed her new hairdo and took her on a private jet?

  3. What is wrong with you?

  4. Why does no one discuss the Devil’s mode of infection? The status of his health? The fact that this is ignored makes HIV-positive people out to be even more reckless. In this portrayal, they are either uncaring of their effect on the people around them or just plain evil and intentionally infectious. HIV is NOT a form of punishment and HIV-positive people live full, happy lives unlike what you would have us believe.

  5. I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?

  6. Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?

  7. Do you hate women?

 

If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.

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The two years I spent serving as a health volunteer with the Peace Corps in West Africa were some of the most formative years of my life. They fostered my sense of independence and resourcefulness, solidified my career and life goals, and taught me to question injustices, particularly those injustices that jeopardized the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls and placed them at an educational, economic, social, and political disadvantage. I never imagined that one day I would find myself questioning injustices faced by Peace Corps volunteers themselves.

More than 210,000 of us have served in the Peace Corps since its founding 52 years ago. As anyone can attest, Peace Corps volunteers provide an invaluable service to our country and the countries in which we serve, but we often do it at risk to our own safety and security. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 volunteers have experienced sexual assault. Women—who comprise more than 60 percent of the 8,000 currently serving volunteers—should never have to face the tragedy of a sexual assault, but if they do, they should be able to access comprehensive health care and support services. Yet, Peace Corps volunteers are now one of the only groups of women who receive their health care through the federal government who are denied coverage for abortion services in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

We must change this outrageously blatant discriminatory policy! Join me in demanding health equity and fairness for Peace Corps volunteers!

Denying volunteers a basic health care benefit that is extended to all other federal employees—including the Peace Corps employees who work with these volunteers—is grossly unfair and denies thousands of volunteers access to vital health services. Women serving our country deserve equity and fairness in access to health care, consistent with other areas of federal law.

Fortunately, Senators Lautenberg, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Boxer, Murray, Warren, and Murphy introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act (S. 813), which would repeal this inequitable restriction on women’s health and allow the Peace Corps to provide the same coverage for abortion care—in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment—as employees covered under other federal health plans currently receive.

Please contact your Senators today to urge their support for the Peace Corps Equity Act!

No woman should face life endangerment because she cannot access a medical procedure that is safe and legal in the United States.

In solidarity,

Janine Kossen

Director of Public Policy and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

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The entire town of Boston was on a lockdown because of one man: We can do everything we can to protect ourselves, but when someone is in a position of power over us, what we can do hardly matters. Likewise, the prevalence of sexual assault and intimate partner abuse further challenges the myth of personal space as safe space, especially because these are forms of violence that capitalize on intimate spaces.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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“Street Harassment, sexual assaults, gender violence, gang rapes, girls trafficking” These are nowadays grabbing the space in every daily newspapers and news channels. They are regarded as viruses and increasing cases predicts which are more to occur. Women are alarmed, young girls are alerted but still they are victimized by the devils, even five year old girl is not spared.

According to UN data, 80000 cases of rape are seen in United States from 2004 to 2010. Delhi is regarded as “THE CITY OF RAPE”, even Nepal is no exception. Relatives are not safe to be with, brothers are no longer our savior; it feels like a curse to be born as a woman.

Voices are  depressed by political pressures even police compensate with money for shutting cries of the victims. Where are we safe? Whom should we believe? It now feels like our savior exists just in fairy tales.

By

Isha Karmacharya

Nepal

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Street harassment is the term given to those activities when someone else does the activities to other without their permission. Generally we hear about the girls being victim of street harassment and the harassment is very rare to boys.

I know the incident where boy have become a victim of street harassment. My friend shared me his story of street harassment which happened when he was just been admitted to undergraduate studies. Same day alike while he was walking to his college destination, a man in his bike came along him and asked if he need a ride. He was in confusion whether he knows that man or not but the man was so confident to know my friend.  He told him not to worry, he was just passing through the road and he saw him and offered him a ride. My friend could not reply him back and sat on his bike thought that he might have forgotten who he is.

After few distance they travelled that man brought his one hand and touched his penis. He  thought that his hand just came with accident so did not give much attention towards it. After few seconds that man again brought his hand towards his penis and touching him again and again. Now he was shocked to encounter that. He could not think what to do as this was happened very first time to him. Suddenly he hold that man hand and said to stop the bike but the man said not to worry as if nothing have happened. But my friend keeps on saying and finally he stopped and walked silently towards his college without saying a single word to that man. He was in complete shock. I remember him that very that he was in the middle of nowhere, he did not even hear teacher calling his attendance. I asked him what happened to him but he gave no response to me.

Almost about 4 days he was in complete shock and I forced him to tell me what happened to him finally he told me every incident happened to him. As I was his bench partner, I told him let go through that way again and identify him so that we can arrest him and punish him but till now he does  not move through that road as he think that this is most painful event happened to him and don’t want to remember that occurrence again.

The reason of his long shock of the incident was because it happened to a boy, a boy who thought to be a tough and strong in society. Now he is much worried not because of that incident but afraid to think what will the society say him when everyone knows about that incident because in our society, if boys moves through such incident then that is the most shamefulness thing happen in boys life and he no longer though to be muscular and harsh.

This one of the strange incident I remember happened due to street harassment.

 

Categories: Sexual Violence
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I was dispirited by hearing the sharing; sorts and level of harassment faced by others. In a word, I was “inarticulate”. Thirty young mind under the roof of blue sky. Smiting own self with an issue of harassment.
This was the situation I perceived afore the event got breakthrough. Youth Activists Leadership Council(YALC) and YUWA were all set to give an outset to   “Khula Aakash” i.e. Khula Aakash is that platform where youth from diverse fields come together to share their thoughts, experiences and stories concerning the topic. The topic can be anything as long as it regards the being of youth all over. This setting currently workout with issues of SRHR, women right, empowerment, and gender based violence (GBV) and many more radiating issuance in the days to come.
Mr. Kanchan Kharel General Secretary of YUWA gave the breakthrough to the silence by the short introduction of the YUWA and clarifying the objective of Khula Akash. Mr. Kharel then agitated the discussion by stating that today the open sky is ready to discuss openly on the topic of Harassment referring that it was the 5th day of International Anti-Street Harassment week. After that the event proceeded with the sharing of any sorts of harassment faced by the individual in their lifetime.   More than 90% of the participants were the female and they started to share their suffering that led me to remain aback and silent.
The world is on transition similar is in the Nepal, urbanization, modernization and busy life had gazed the urban areas naming the capital city Kathmandu as well. Most of the populace of the city is following the same track resisting the busy world rush. Today After hearing others I came to conclude that some of individual make themselves busy in abusing and harassing others and taking it as fun or their joy while others are striving for their livelihood and future.
The    way a girl faces numbers of physical, psychological and sexual violence from her early childhood and most of abuser being a male. A girl is insecure from her safest place home to every public places. She had to face the problem like battering, teasing, intimidation and many more. The main thing that amazed me to this point is the level of suffering that a female had to bear in the public transportation. Although, I myself also traveling through the same places and similar crowd. Probably being a male in this male dominated society and being counted in the male domain, I was unaware about such pains of women and girls and conditions of being helplessness in the public places. Attributed by the crowd of public transport system many women and girls have been facing the problem of touching, rubbing the body of a female making her to feel the extreme level of distress.  Lack of proper legal protection by state of women and girls vulnerability, inefficient practice and implementation of limited provision on Gender Based Violence and gaps in level of awareness among the society to speak out against violence, injustice and exploitation had appended the problem to stand being deep rooted in Nepalese scenario.
The first  and foremost to be done to end the harassment  is to discuss openly on these issue share the experiences and get insight as well the learning from others sufferings to be prepared so as to avoid it on own life. So it’s all the point of inception from an individual being aware, loyal and sincere to stand against all sorts of violence.
We do shout out for own and let’s speak out for others as well to end all types of harassment. I stance as well expect you to be on my side.

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This month is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and unfortunately it feels very, very relevant lately. Rape culture has proven itself to be alive and well- from the recent suicide of Canadian high school student Rehtaeh Parsons after photos of her being gang raped were circulated online, to the biased  media coverage  of the Steubenville rape trial, which sympathized with the convicted rapists and blamed the victim. It can feel very overwhelming and depressing  to continually hear about, watch, and endure episode after episode of abuse, violation and degradation, which is why I’m proposing that this month, we self empower through ACTION! Here are some things you can do  to actively combat rape culture, and work towards a society in which sexuality is free from violence and full of love, respect, and pleasure:

1. Educate yourself about sexual consent, then pledge to only practice consensual sex by signing the Consent is Sexy pledge! While your at it, you could even bring the Consent is Sexy campaign to your campus!

2.Support victims of sexual abuse by going to a Take Back The Night event on your campus or in your community. If there isn’t one, get started planning your own for next year!

3. Know the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE). Post it in places your peers will see, such as on the doors of bathroom stalls, in dorm common areas, or health centers.

4. Speak up and Vlog about it! Make a video about the issue of sexual assault. Here are two great ones: WTF HAPPENED IN STEUBENVILLE? by vlogger Laci Greene and this Anti-Rape video by University of Oregon film student Samantha Stendel

These are just a few of a huge number of ways you can take action against rape culture and sexual abuse. There is no limit to the amount of passion and creativity you can draw on! Have some other ideas? Write them in the comments!

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Video From NAW 2013!!!

Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.

This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.

Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.

Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.

At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along.  It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.

 

For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:

Our Issues: Immigrant Rights

The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants

 

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The word Chhaupadi is Achham’s local Raute language word. The meaning of “chhau” is women’s condition of being untouchable. The meaning of “padi” is being. Likewise the term Chhaupadi is defined as the action of being untouchable, the condition of being menstruate, being away, and a woman in menstruation. Chhaupadi practice is mainly found in Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Kanchanpur, Bajhang, Bajura, Doti, Achham and Kailali District of Far western development region. Likewise it is found in Kalikot, Dailekha, Humla and Jumla District of Mid western development region too.

Females are forced to stay in the shed which is simple shelter made out of stone, grass or stick with no windows and doors for thirteen days during their first and second menstrual cycle, seven days in their third cycle and four days of every other menstrual cycle. The practice of Chhaupadi is also followed by woman during child birth and for up to eleven days after the delivery. Even their babies are sent to live in these sheds with their mother.  Kids who sleep with their mother have to be purified by giving them proper bath before entering the household. In the last day of their cycle women too have to properly shower and do some rituals to purify them.

 

The meaning and practice is the same all over Nepal in certain community. In far western and in some part of Midwestern region of Nepal it is known as chhaupadi and in other parts it is known as mahinawari hunu, rajaswala hunu, bahira sarnu, para sarnu etc. Women in certain part of Nepal are called Chhaupadi in certain time after menstruation and giving birth to a child and behaved as untouchable. They have to live either in a Chhau goth or in a cattle shed. In some rich family they are kept in the ground floor of the house. Women in Chhaupadi are barred from consuming milk, yogurt, butter and other nutritious food. The women must survive on a diet of dry foods, salt, and beaten rice.  In such condition women are deprived of certain facilities and respectful behavior.

Our traditional belief i.e. untouchability practice in menstruation period is the root cause of the Chhaupadi practice in Nepal. According to the report of the Chhaupadi Partha Adhyan Upa Samiti tha bad impact of chhaupadi  are: Women are suffering from mental health, even the death can be occur because of  attack of wild animal, they can be victimized of rape, reproductive tract infection and pneumonia, malnutrition, fall of uterus because of heavy work, disturbance in education because of untouchable behave, Humiliation, dysentery and hypothermia in children. Thus women are deprived from right to housing, right to food, right against exploitation, right to human inherent dignity, right to non discrimination, right to participate in cultural practice, rights to health, right to freedom. Thus this practice is against the women’s personality. It keeps women on the feet of humanity. To eliminate Chhaupadi awareness should be given in a scientific way about the menstruation flows.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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A middle-aged man has been accused by his wife of raping his daughter and granddaughter.

The wife alleged that her husband forcefully took advantage of their daughter when she was 13, and grand-daughter at 7. The daughter is now 23 years old, while the grand daughter’s paternity is shrouded in secrecy. It was learnt that the suspect “used threat, intimidation and promise of gifts to convince his daughter and grand-daughter to sleep with him.

The man denied the allegation, saying he was being blackmailed and maligned. He said the first time he was accused by his wife, they went to their village and tabled the matter before the elders and the daughter, who is now a sales girl, told them that it was her mother that asked her to say so.

He said: “I was surprised when this matter came up again and my daughter came to the police station to witness against me.”

The Police spokesperson, PPRO, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said: “the suspect is in the habit of sleeping with his daughter and now, his grand-daughter. We have the doctor’s report which shows that the girls have been defiled. The doctors advised that they be taken for HIV test. The wife, who was fed up with his act, reported the case to a Divisional Police Officer, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).”

The wife, a caterer, said: “In 2006, I went to Abuja for a catering job; I spent five days. But at about 1am, my daughter called me on the phone, crying that her father raped her that night. When I confronted him, he beat me up and he continued to molest our daughter. He would always beat me each time I confronted him. I had no choice but to leave him.”

According to her, she moved out with her six kids and started life afresh. However, in 2011, his family appealed to her to forgive him and take him back. Although she initially refused, she said she reconsidered her stand when the apartment she moved into was sold off.

She said: “They sold the house I lived in and I had no money to look for another accommodation because I had lost my job. I had no choice but to move back last year since he swore to keep off my daughters.

“I really thought he had changed. But in August, last year, I caught him in a compromising situation with our grand-daughter. I called her out and she revealed how the man had constantly been abusing her.

“Again, I confronted him and he beat me up. I had to pick my grand-daughter and run to his brother’s house where I stayed for three days before I went back home.”

The accuser said she did all she could to ensure she never left their daughter alone with him.

She said: “Because my daughter works, we decided to put her daughter at a day-care centre. I had always been the only one that brought our daughter back at 6pm everyday from the centre. But on a particular day, my husband went to the centre, but the teacher refused to release the child. He harassed her until she released her. He took her home and raped her. I didn’t know what happened until I want

Categories: Sexual Violence
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The failure’ of a pastor in the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) to control his libido has landed him in trouble. A Magistrate Court recently ordered him remanded in prison for allegedly raping a minor.

He will be in the custody pending the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The magistrate described the case as pathetic, especially as it involved a minor and a person that should be a father and shepherd of flocks.

The prosecutor, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), told the court that the accused committed the offence on July 12 at an Ekiti State community.

He alleged that the pastor’s unlawful affair with the girl, a member of the church, resulted in pregnancy, adding that the offence contravened Section 23 (d) of the child Rights Law of Ekiti State, 2007.

He said the duplicate case file had been forwarded to the DPP, Ministry of Justice, for advice.

Counsel to the accused urged the court to grand his client bail, assuring that he would not jump bail, but counsel to International Federation of Female lawyers (FIDA), Ekiti State chapter, Mrs Foluke Dada, opposed the application.

Dada said that the bail, if granted, would be a threat to other children in the church and the society at large.

She told the court that the accused had threatened that the victim would die within seven days if she confessed to anyone that he raped her.

The magistrate adjourned the case till April 4 for further hearing.

When proven rapists are not put where they belong – prison – they won’t stop the dastardly act.  Rape should be a criminal offence that carries a vey high penalty, and that of a minor should recommendedly carry life jail because any one who rapes a minor is psychologically destroying the minor’s today and tomorrow.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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“Put molly all in her champagne, she aint even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she aint even know it,”

These are some of the lyrics to a new Rick Ross song titled, “You Don’t Even Know It”. What’s “molly” you ask? Well that isn’t the focus here. The focus is the fact that Ross is endorsing date rape. Between the Steubenville trials, current trends in abortion rights and this, it’s like women woke up one morning to an alternate, utterly sh*tty universe, and things have been going steadily downhill ever since.

The song contains all of the things I don’t like about mainstream rap – references to all the possessions amassed, superior status and ownership of whatever geographical location the rapper in question hails from. And so you can understand when I say that it’s a lot scary to slip those two lines in there like they mean nothing and then just carry on. “Blah blah diamond-encrusted rims…blah blah blah *insert trendy alcoholic beverage*…blah blah blah guns and drugs…blah blah blah It’s totally okay to have sex with a woman without consent…blah blah blah…”

You would think that with the current focus on sexual assault and the fact that one of the Steubenville rapists is black, other black men would try just a little to present a non-rapey image; if just to show that unconscionable assault isn’t par for the course. But nooooooo. Rick Ross, because he is a famous rapper, thinks he is entitled to everything because he has money, and that women are disposable. Shame on you Rick Ross. Shame! Women have dealt with degradation and sexualization in hip-hop for ages and we are still in the process of trying to make people understand that all those things aren’t cool. This however, is on a whole ‘nother level of vile, disrespectful and repugnant. Rappers and hip-hop artists call women b*tches and hos in their lyrics, use scantily-dressed women as props and slaves to their money and then turn around to sing about how much they love their mothers. Really?

Women, being the awesome, no-nonsense people we are, are RAGING and have started a petition asking Mr. Ross to issue a pubic apology. Basically, we’re getting real tired of your sh*t and you crossed a MAJOR line. There are a couple floating around which you can find if you do a Google search. Feel free to tweet angrily at him.

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I have seen this post circulate on Facebook and loved its message. I apologizing for not crediting it since I am not sure who put it together. There is absolutely no way to sugar coat the rape stories that are happening today and we should keep doing our great work loud and proud until we no longer hear about these savage crimes happening in our world. It is about time we teach our fellow humans NOT TO RAPE. Full Stop.

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If you haven’t heard already, the law makers in North Dakota are pushing for another anti-choice bill.  This time it’s an abortion ban on the basis of personhood.  If passed, this would effectively give fertilized eggs all the rights of U.S. citizens.  And it would cut off abortion care completely.  Beyond abortion this bill would also charge doctors who damage embryos in any way with criminal negligence.  It also prevents doctors from being able to perform in vitro fertilizations.  Now you might be thinking an unconstitutional bill like this couldn’t possibly get passed by Senate or the House, but it did.  Shockingly, it passed the House by a vote of 57-35 and it’s currently making its way to the Governor’s desk.

The state’s recent six-week abortion ban is already in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and will bring about several legal costs for taxpayers when challenged.  This next measure of a total abortion ban will surely cause North Dakota to face the same results, costing the state more than they bargained for.  And how will they pay for these litigations?

During a recent debate between Senator Margaret Sitte and Dr. Kristen Cain about the abortion restrictions and pending abortion ban, Senator Sitte accidentally lets something slip.  When asked if these bills will cost taxpayers possibly millions, Senator Sitte unintentionally admits that there are outside interests behind the unconstitutional abortion bans who are willing to spend those millions to make sure people in North Dakota will not have access to reproductive healthcare and rights.  Watch as Senator Sitte tries to lie her way out of it.

Watch the debate between Senator Sitte and Dr. Cain!

This abortion ban won’t be a law until Governor Jack Darlymple of North Dakota signs it, and it’s unclear if he will or won’t.

To contact Governor Jack Darlymple:

Office of Governor

State of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100

701.328.2200: phone

701.328.2205: fax 

 

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  • A woman directed a fake Durex commercial and we all wish it was really a TV spot. Move over raunchy subtlety and sexy safety, functionality is here. The commercial basically says, “Condoms are for protection, and they’re very much up to the task.” We need more of this kind of advertising.
  • New Zealand campaign “Who Are You?” video highlights importance of bystander intervention to prevent rape. The viewer is taken through a young woman’s night out with a roommate and some friends. Throughout the night, there are 5 situations where people could have stepped up and prevented her rape (which occurred in the alternate ending without intervention). This campaign shows how easy it is to prevent some of these situations. One doesn’t even have to be a super close friend. You could be a total stranger who is concerned.
  • Melissa Harris-Perry wants you to know that the s0-called “Harlem Shake” phenomenon is cultural appropriation. She talks about how the original Harlem Shake spawned by P.Diddy (is that still what he calls himself?) is embedded deep in black cultural history. Disregarding the artistic boundaries by applying the name to a different kind of dance is kiiiinda disrespectful. There are already comments under the video dismissing her opinion. One of them is by someone who considers him/herself the voice of the black masses, and has ordained that since it is not personally offensive, it shouldn’t offend anyone else. “Everybody seriously just needs to chill”. Comments like these are the reason why micro aggressions run unchecked.

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I just found out that one of the rapists in the Steubenville case  is appealing on grounds of mental instability.

To be clear he isn’t saying he is mentally ill. No, he’s just sixteen and therefore is entitled to a few mistakes. After all, most sixteen year olds commit rape! It’s a part of growing up! (This, mind you, is sarcasm.)

Apparently sixteen year olds don’t have fully developed decision making centres in their brain and so its wrong to hold this boy accountable for his actions.

Funny how that didn’t matter when the rape victim was drinking. Funny how when we discussed the victim, she was a horrible person for making the decision to drink and deserved to get raped.

Yet when the RAPIST makes a bad decision, he should be excused.

The hypocrisy makes me sick. They use whatever argument is convenient. I am so over this.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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Kansas House rejects rape and incest exceptions for abortion

Kansas House members on Tuesday gave first-round approval to sweeping new restrictions on abortion after refusing to add exceptions that would allow victims of incest or rape — including children who are raped — to get late-term abortions.

READ MORE HERE!

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“To be clear, reproductive justice is not a label—it’s a mission. It describes our collective vision: a world where all people have the social, political, and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about gender, bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and families for themselves and their communities. And it provides an inclusive, intersectional framework for bringing that dream into being. Reproductive justice is visionary, it’s complex, it doesn’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker, and it has a lot to teach us about how to be successful in a changed and changing world.”

— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice