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Jun 15, 2013
“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!”
Jun 7, 2013
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.
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.
Jun 7, 2013
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!
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
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.”
May 31, 2013
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 Bureau, the 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.
May 31, 2013
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.
May 31, 2013
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.
May 30, 2013
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!
By Kwa Gaston
May 27, 2013
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 today‘s 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 UNFPA‘s 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 won‘t 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.
May 27, 2013
By Kwa Gaston
May 27, 2013
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.
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.
May 25, 2013
…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.’”
May 25, 2013
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.
May 18, 2013
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.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 13, 2013
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.”
May 11, 2013
“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.”
May 2, 2013
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.
And the Ugly:
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.
May 1, 2013
Apr 30, 2013
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.
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:
Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?
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?
What is wrong with you?
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.
I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?
Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?
Do you hate women?
If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.
Apr 25, 2013
(tw: rape, harsh language)
SEE THE VIDEO HERE:
Apr 25, 2013
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.
No woman should face life endangerment because she cannot access a medical procedure that is safe and legal in the United States.
Director of Public Policy and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
Apr 24, 2013
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.
Apr 21, 2013
“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.
Apr 20, 2013
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.
Apr 11, 2013
Apr 10, 2013
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!
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!
Apr 3, 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:
By Kamal Gautam
Apr 3, 2013
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.
Apr 3, 2013
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
Apr 3, 2013
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.
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 27, 2013
“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.
Mar 26, 2013
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.
Mar 23, 2013
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.
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
Mar 23, 2013
Talk about a no-brainer.
Mar 21, 2013
Mar 20, 2013
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.
Mar 20, 2013
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.
Mar 20, 2013
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 19, 2013
Let’s face the facts: We live in a victim blaming society when it comes to sexual assault and rape.
After the guilty verdict was announced following the Steubenville rape case in Ohio, my initial thought was worry.
I worry about the victim who spoke out against her rapists, condemning two boys who were the pride of the town for being star players on the football team. I worry not only for the trauma she faced during the rape act and the humiliating physical evidence via tweets, instagram, and video posts, but also for the aftermath she will face following the trial…
I worry for her safety because people don’t quite understand what rape is and will condemn her for it because she was drunk.
I worry that she will not have a much needed support system from peers or members of the community following the trial.
I worry if she will have a counselor to talk to in the upcoming months she will try to get back to living a “normal life”.
I worry that those two boys will never learn their lesson about what rape actually is. Being that mainstream media has taken their side and glorified them as victims because they were promising football players and students who got good grades. They just got caught up in a regrettable act (not regretting the rape, but the regretting the fact that it was recorded with photos).
The two young men will have to register as sex offenders and spend one to two years in juvenile detention, but that is not what I am concerned about, unlike other mainstream media outlets.
Instead of feeling sympathy that their promising football careers are essentially over, I feel actual sympathy for the victim of being raped without her consent and how she will cope and deal with the consequences living in a town that cares more about their football team than the well being of a 16 year old girl who was taken advantage of.
The rape victim, a 16 year old girl, should be our main concern. Not the future of rapists, but the future of a young girl, who has to deal with being a rape survivor in a patriarchal, misogynistic, sexist, victim-blaming society.
I shouldn’t have to worry about the well-being of a rape victim. She should know that this entire ordeal is not her fault. She should expect counseling and psychological services to help her cope with trauma. She should have support instead of backlash from her community of peers and adults.
That’s how it should be…but we live in a society that blames rape victims instead of sympathizing with them. And that is a shame.
Mar 19, 2013
The whole Internet is a-buzz (and rightfully so) over the Steubenville rape case. Check out this definitive guide to rape culture provided by Upworthy.
Trigger warning: the Upworthy link contains shameless, victim-blaming Tweets and news coverage collected by writer Kaye Toal. Some of this senselessness can may be triggering for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
By Kamal Gautam
Mar 18, 2013
Women in the ancient era were worshiped as the incarnation of goddess are now facing numeral sorts of violence. On each successive day\’s violence are occurring in women\’s life in different ways such as social, political, economic, sexual violence, and many more. Nowadays we can daily hear the media reports about the stories of violence against women in our society. This violence reflects itself in terms of abuses, rapes, sexual harassment\’s domestic violence (dowry death, marital rape, physical and mental torture), girls trafficking etc.
According to the data of Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), 648 women across our country were subjected to violence in the year 2011. This is only the reported cases as unreported cases are many. They recorded 272 cases of domestic violence, 114 polygamy cases, 111 rapes, 54 witchcraft accusation cases, 31 sexual abuses and 30 cases of women trafficking, among others. Besides, 379 girls under the age of 18 were affected due to these. These kinds of violence are the outcome of prejudice due to patriarchal attitudes and harmful traditional practices such as witchcraft, child marriage, dowry systems, son preference, polygamy, Chaupadi, jhuma, Deuki, Dhan khane, Ghumto pratha etc.
Why these kinds of violence are happening and why all the time women have to be a victim. Why??? Violence against women has been declared an illegal act and punishable by law in Nepal but still there is high prevalence. Every 8th of March women celebrate their day, only a day in 365 days. Are women any less human than man are? Why out of 365 days women should have just one attributed to them? Anyways everyday can be women’s day if gender based violence and traditional practices can be reduced or even eliminated. This can be possible through education and we man should stop being like superior whereas the women being like inferior because in reality we both know our capabilities.
Mar 17, 2013
Internet Lesson of the Day: Always blame the victim.
That girl was beaten up by her boyfriend? Well , what did she do to piss him off?
That boy was murdered? Well, why was he walking around in the dark, in a hoodie, in the first place?
That girl was kidnapped, drugged, urinated on, and raped? Well, was she drunk?
Does it matter?
Today we learned that the boys charged in the Steubenville case have been found guilty of rape. The fact that we were worried about this verdict in the first place is alarming in itself, but what is even more worrying is the response of the public.
Our culture, for some reason, encourages interrogating the victim. Our society demands victims prove their own innocence before we declare their attackers guilty. This girl broke a fundamental rule of being a victim: she wasn’t “innocent” in terms of societies standards of upstanding citizens. It is worth it to note, however, that she is most definitely innocent of rape and, interestingly enough, forcing someone to prove that they are worthy of not being raped before addressing their rape, is not justice. It is ineffective, pointless, cruel, yes, but it is definitely not justice.
However, as any supporter of the self-proclaimed Steubenville Rape Crew will tell you, the victim didn’t say no, and therefore she didn’t deny the advances of her rapists, and therefore she was not really raped. What any activist will tell you is that that doesn’t matter because she didn’t say yes, which is the definition of consenting. In order for consensual sex to have occurred she would have needed to have consented. Therefore the sex couldn’t be consensual, making it non-consensual, aka rape. Because she didn’t consent. And that is how consensual sex works. And the opposite of that is rape.
Are we getting this Internet?
Below I have decided to question some of the questions the Internet posed, just so we can really think about what we’re asking.
Reddit: “Was the ‘victim’ charged with underage drinking?”
How would the victim (your quotations disgust me) being charged with underage drinking affect the logic and justice of her rapists being convicted of rape? In fact, what would that do at all, other than possibly, for some inexplicable reason, make you more comfortable with rapists being imprisoned for rape? Furthermore, do you think that rape is a justifiable punishment for underage drinking? And if you do think that (you horrible person), is rape not enough for you? Must there be more punishment in addition to the rape for this girl to have adequately paid her dues for underage drinking?
Twitter: “Idk I feel about this Steubenville trial..not saying she asked for it but why did you consume so much alcohol in the first place?”
If you are not saying she asked for it what exactly are you implying with your statement and why did you feel the need to include that qualifier? Why not ask instead, “Not saying the rapists were rapists, but why did they rape her in the first place?” Isn’t the fact that they had sex with a girl who was unable to talk much less be an active willing participant in intercourse more important than the fact that the girl was unable to be an active willing participant?
Facebook (There are two because we all know how much I hate Facebook):
“I think they all should get underage consumption because they all shouldn’t been drinking if they weren’t underage drinking they would of never done a rape or she would of never got raped so they should all get a charge.”
So do you want the rapists to get charged with rape AND underage drinking, or do you think the underage drinking charge covers it? Do you think that the boys recognize they raped someone and are truly apologetic and horrified by their drunken actions, despite the fact that they took pictures of the event, kept said pictures as souvenirs even when they were sober, and vehemently denied, under oath, the fact that they raped this girl at all, just like all the sober rapists in the world? Do you think the fact that the victims rapists were drunk will affect the physciological repercussions that the victim will suffer? (The answer to the last one is no.)
“16yr old girl drinking & getting drunk…where are our moral societal values?”
What do you think is more morally reprehensible: Underage drinking or Rape?
Is it more important to stop a teenager from drinking or to stop rape? Is it more important to uphold societies “morals” or to stop rape? Is it more important to ensure that the victim has never in her life made a bad decision and meets every standard society places in front of her or to stop rape?
Activism Lesson of the Day: Never Blame the Victim.
Mar 14, 2013
Steubenville “Rape Crew” Lawyers Argue that Silence is Consent
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows a few details about this case. A teenage girl was drinking at a party, was drugged, became unconscious, and now two guys are on trial for “allegedly” raping her. (Man, I hate that word.) This particular case caught national attention after the internet crew Anonymous unveiled some of the shady business surrounding the actual case. The self-proclaimed Steubenville “Rape Crew” recorded themselves after the alleged rape, describing that the victim had been drugged, urinated on, and raped. They also took photos of themselves with the victim and tweeted before and after the crime, implying that this assault was premeditated. But apparently being on the Steubenville high school football team puts you on a pedestal, and being the alleged rape victim is a greenlight for a slew of death threats and attacks. It’s another case in which we get a glaring view into sports and rape culture, and how blurred the line can be sometimes.
Originally, the attackers (Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond) were charged with kidnapping. They had been moving the victim from party to party without her consent. I’m sorry to say that those charges were now dropped. In response to the rape charges, the attackers’ lawyers have decided to argue that silence is consent even though the victim didn’t have the ability to say no or yes since she was drugged by her alleged rapists and was unconscious. The lawyers of course wanted the charges dropped completely, but the attempt failed. So, they decided that this was the next best course of action: to argue that she didn’t affirmatively say no. It’s okay. Take the time to move away from the computer and scream.
Here’s a bit of light in this situation: protesters have gathered outside the courthouse, local or otherwise, for #OccupySteubenville and Operation RollRedRoll to support “Jane Doe” and other victims of abuse. They describe their occupation for March 13-15:
This will be a SILENT OCCUPY. There will be NO sound system, NO microphones, NO music, and NO guest speaking. ALL attempts from anyone trying to set up equipment will be immediately shut down. WE must now give Lady Justice, who stands on top of the Jefferson County Courthouse, her chance to speak the VERDICT. In doing so, WE will allow our voices to become…SILENT. Only our signs and banners will speak what’s on our minds. Imagine…hundreds possibly thousands of masks, dressed up, remaining peaceful, while occupying in silence. This will be a MASSIVE Anonymous presence that will speak VOLUMES.
This will be a time of standing united, in our support of Jane Doe, with our Anonymous family. We will enjoy each other’s company and act like family.
This is YOUR chance to be creative and artistic in support for Jane Doe. Let your signs, banners, and shirts speak what’s on your mind. Be Creative. Be Positive. Make the statement that YOU want the world to READ. Imagery is worth a thousand words. Let us not forget that we are a peaceful people and we are here to respectfully and peacefully support Jane Doe. Regardless of the verdict…we will remain calm and we will remain peaceful.
Though some media responses to this trial has brought this case forward and revealed tons of supporters out there, other responses haven’t been the most helpful in ensuring true justice for the victim with headlines and descriptions of the attackers like “the almost-certain demise of their dreams of playing football” and articles like this, heavy with sports glorification and victim blaming.
In the words of SPARK activist Carmen Rios:
“When athletes are accused of rape – and this is not the first or, unfortunately, the last time – often their teammates and coaches will scramble to defend them. That’s wrong. Athletes receiving preferential treatment is not uncommon and is undeniable at schools across this country, and in the case of Steubenville the safe haven of a team ready to go up to bat to defend two rapists has effectively squashed discussion around the central problem of the case: it doesn’t matter who rapes, or who is raped. It matters that a rape has occurred and that it occurred on camera and on the Internet and with great pride and joy from those allegedly involved. It matters that when these boys were publicly scrutinized for this behavior, which is undeniably tasteless and violent behavior stemming from probably equally tasteless and violent attitudes toward women, their teammates and coaches defended them publicly and privately. It matters because the only way people learn is by being told the truth – and the truth is that Coach Saccoccia and all of the Steubenville Big Red team should have stood in solidarity with what is right, and not who they know.”
Let’s hope this trial ends fairly and with great justice for those who deserve it.
By seye lydia
Mar 14, 2013
Having the opportunity to attend the event tagged “Young Men against Gender Based Violence”, organized by Education as a Vaccine, in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),was an interesting one for me. I kept wondering why the programme was organized for men but I realized that it was because men are the perpetrators of this “evil” act. Looking at the world today, young girls and even married women suffer all sorts of sexual violence in the hands of men, some of which include sexual abuse, beating etc.
Some men beat up their wives without concrete reasons. Even if they do anything wrong, they don’t deserve to be made punching bags. A woman is meant to be cared for and well looked after. An example was given at the meeting of a female student at Abia State University (ABSU) who was raped by five young men. Rather than the men being traced, caught and dealt with, the security agencies and some other Nigerians have been allocating blames on the poor girl. I just wonder what becomes of the girl now, after such a terrible incidence.
Video clips were shown to participants at the event to accompany the message and I saw pictures of young women, both single and married with scars and injuries of various magnitudes as a result of being abused by men. It hurt me so much because I’m also a female like them.
The young men who were present there also tried to defend themselves by saying it is the girls that cause them to rape them due to the way they dress. One of the participants also said something which I took note of. He said, “Men are moved by what they see and women are moved by what they hear”. Then I thought to myself, if men are moved by what they see, why can’t they control their eyes?
Though I know that the way some girls dress isn’t decent enough as they expose their cleavages and other parts of their bodies that could attract the opposite sex unduly, that does not give the men a right to rape them. Then I also asked myself that if men are moved by what they see, what of fathers who rape their own daughters? What did they see in them that they dint see in the body of their wives or is it not the same child he saw as she grew? All this questions keep running through my mind and I was happy to find some answers to my question during the course of the meeting.
I really hope that the participants learnt a lot just like I did and I also hope they’ll help to spread the news to their friends and family. That way, the world would be a better place with everyone having equal fundamental human rights, rights to justice inclusive.
Mar 12, 2013
“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”
-Zerlina Maxwell on Fox News Sean Hannity Show
ICYMI, here’s Zerlina’s fantastic article on 5 ways we can teach men not to rape. Read it at EBONY.
Mar 7, 2013
Dating violence is something that affects millions of people each year. It can be a touchy topic to discuss, especially with a loved one when you do not want to step on their toes.
When it comes to a violent sexual relationship, often times teens are pressured into not using contraception and thus being forced into an unintended pregnancy. That can be dangerous for the parties involved as well as the child. If you or someone you know is suffering from this situation reach out and find help – a counselor, domestic abuse hotline, a doctor or any trusted adult can help guide you or a friend in a safe direction. YOU and YOUR SAFETY (including your sexual health) is most important and using a condom each and every time you have sex will prevent transmission of STIs and unintended pregnancies. SAFE SEX is the BEST SEX so protect yourself.
Mar 4, 2013
As a man is given a naturally superior position to women, the effective tool in exercising this superiority lies in ignoring and stifling a woman’s being and trampling her very existence. While there are many who perceive this to be acts of physical violence only, it is a complete package with both physical and mental torment. What comes under its field ranges from forced prostitution to bashing the women, sexual abuse (rape and also marital rape), unnecessarily limiting her freedom and also includes threatening and intimidating her at work place and at educational institutes. And these are only broad categories, there’s a list of acts that falls under violence against women committed by even the so-called liberals and modernists as well as uneducated, rural men. Realistically speaking, we all women have undergone and are still undergoing one or the other forms of violence as a staple feed around the clock without even realizing our own sufferings.
Having every action a reaction, remembering this, let’s make a promise on the occasion of ‘international women days’’ that any violence related to women should be diminished and let them leave a life which they want.
Mar 4, 2013
Being a woman itself is a challenging job for the women especially in the developing countries. Talking about developing countries Nepal is one of the developing countries where the standard, knowledge, participation and consciousness regarding the sexual and reproductive health rights are very minimal among the youth population. In this circumstances the situation of the female youth of Nepal are even worse than the male youth. The women in the rural areas are still unknown regarding the negative impacts of child marriage, measures and prevention’s of sexual diseases like HIV, AIDS etc. We always come across the stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse of female. Not only the rural females, is the situation of the females in the field of sexual and reproductive health in the critical stage in the urban females also.
Every female in Nepalese society irrespective of their economic status, social status and educational status are repeatedly being sexually exploited once in their life time. Students are harassed by their teachers in schools, female colleagues are harassed by the male colleagues in the work place, maids are harassed by the house keepers, and female sex workers are forced to have sex without using condoms. The cases comes out in the general public only if the girl is capable enough to raise the voice against the harassment she faced if not so many of the cases are left hidden and remains as scary nightmare for the life time. If we want to improve the partition and standards of the women society then we have to make sure that no women in our community is left unknown with their sexual and reproductive rights, duties and responsibilities. Different policies, laws, are made to stop the discrimination, violence, exploitations, harassments to the females but the bitter tragedy is that to whom the policies are made that group of people are unaware about the policies. The reason behind this could be lack of proper communication and information system to the rural areas.
On the other hands the policies, laws couldn’t work itself if the women doesn’t have the strong determination to stop the discrimination we are facing. So the possible solution to stop the discrimination is to make the habit to speak about against the harassment, discrimination, violence we women face in our daily life and also to be aware about our sexual and reproductive health rights.
SEE COMPLETE IMAGE:
The Arkansas Legislature has approved the earliest abortion ban in the nation.
And it’s now up to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to decide what to do next. If he vetoes the bill, his veto could be overridden by a simple majority in the Republican Legislature as it was earlier Thursday on a similar 20-week abortion ban bill.
The Arkansas Senate gave final approval Thursday morning to the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which would ban abortions at 12 weeks into pregnancy if a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to save the life of the mother or for a lethal fetal condition. The bill now goes directly to Beebe.
Through “fetal pain” laws, other states have begun approving abortion bans at around 20 weeks into pregnancy — such a ban became law in Arkansas with the veto override early Thursday — but this bill would go further, turning Arkansas into the only state to ban abortions that early in a pregnancy.
Abortion rights groups immediately urged Beebe to reject the bill. “This extreme legislation would insert politics into women’s personal medical decisions, and we urge Gov. Beebe to veto it immediately,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
“Lawmakers in Arkansas are placing women’s lives on the line by passing the most severe ban on access to safe, legal medical care this country has seen in recent years,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
In vetoing the 20-week ban on Tuesday, Beebe said the bill violated Supreme Court precedent that establishes states cannot limit abortions before viability. That was one of 10 “fetal pain” laws that have been enacted in 10 states, based on the assertion that the fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks. Cases have been filed against such laws in Arizona and Georgia.
Mar 1, 2013
It passed with votes of 286 to 138.
The NY Times describes the legislation:
The newly passed legislation creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Most notably, the bill goes further by offering protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse, as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land.
And who are the 138 representatives who voted against this?
Here’s the name and shame:
Feb 28, 2013
As someone who is still suffering from the debilitating revelation that Mississippi has JUST NOW ratified the 13th amendment (the one that abolished slavery) my faith in Republicans in general has been on a serious decline. So when I found out that VAWA got through the House, which has a Republican majority, I was overjoyed! Finally, Congress was making sense.
When I found out that VAWA passed DESPITE the majority of Republicans who voted against it, I was disappointed.
Not surprised, but disappointed nonetheless.
Though I am overjoyed that VAWA got passed, as a citizen who knows her representative (I’m calling you out Steven Palazzo) did not vote for a comprehensive bill to protect women against domestic and sexual violence, it is hard for me to simply celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m celebrating, but I did want to take a minute to acknowledge how silly it is we had to fight for this in the first place. So, this blog is cut into two sections.
First: VAWA GOT PASSED DANCE PARTY!
*ecstatic dancing for as long as we want*
Second: My concerns
The Violence Against Women Act has been passed without significant political fanfare every time it has come up in Congress before. Like its name implies, it’s a bill that protects women against violence, but domestic violence and sexual violence, and as such the bill addresses an issue that has never been particularly partisan. No one wants to be that jerk that is FOR domestic and sexual violence.
Except apparently some of the people in this Congress. We all know this Congress has the remarkable ability to make everything partisan. *sigh*
When the Senate ensured extensions of the protections provided in the act to LGBTQIA members, Native American women, and immigrants, suddenly the bill had trouble getting through the House. This difficulty is comparable to the trouble Republicans had to getting women of color and LGBTQIA members to vote for them in the last Presidential election.
What a coincidence.
VAWA was not passed last year because of this difficulty, but it has been passed this year! It is interesting to note that 199 Democrats voted to pass the Senate version of VAWA, with two not voting, and that only 87 Republicans voted for it, with 138 voting against it. It is also interesting to note that this is the third time Boehner, the House Speaker, has brought legislation to the floor that does not have majority support. This is highly unusual for it forces the Speaker to rely on the minority party in order to pass legislation, which kind of defeats the purpose of being the majority. Although it would not be the first time a minority has majorly influenced public policy *cough cough*.
My problem: Why was it necessary for the Democratic minority to bully the GOP majority into voting for this bill? What is difficult about standing behind comprehensive legislation to protect all the women in the United States of America?
Representative Gwen Moore made a magnificent allusion to Sojourner Truth’s speech “Aint’ I a Woman”, asking House Republicans why certain people were excluded from the bill.
“Aint’ they women?” she asked.
Further to the point: Ain’t they Americans? Ain’t they part of the population you are representing? Ain’t they the ones you want to vote for you?
Do you think they will do that with no proof that you care about even their most basic needs, such as assurance of their safety?
There are far more difficult and complicated problems facing Congress, things that will require bargaining and compromise and the occasional strong-arming.
Protecting our women shouldn’t fall into that category. Protecting our citizens should always be an unanimous vote.
Democrats seems to have grasped this concept. I encourage the 138 Republicans who voted Nay to do the same.
Feb 28, 2013
Finally, I am crying tears of joy today, the House of Representatives, which has stalled in passing a version of the Violence Against Women Act that was inclusive of the LGBT community, finally passed the more inclusive Senate version.
Thursday’s votes reflected an emerging political reality in the GOP-led House, with a minority of Republicans joining Democrats to pass legislation supported by the public, including increasingly influential demographics such as Hispanic Americans.
By a vote of 166-257, the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act failed to win a majority after almost 90 minutes of debate. The House then voted 286-138 to pass the Senate version, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats to provide majority support.
Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims. Criminal prosecutions of abusers are generally the responsibility of local authorities, but the act stiffened sentences for stalking under federal law.
Supporters credit the act with sharply reducing the number of lives lost to domestic violence over the past two decades.
Last year, the House and Senate were unable to compromise on another extension of the act, with Republicans opposing Democratic attempts to specify inclusion of native Americans, undocumented immigrants and lesbian, transgender and bisexual women.
For the first time in our history, it will now be against federal law to tell a woman who is lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender that they cannot receive domestic violence services, and it will now be illegal to tell a transgender woman who is displaced by domestic violence that they cannot be in a women’s shelter. As a survivor myself, I now feel safe in mind that I will have a place to go if I ever am threatened by roommates again.
In other good news, Native American women will be protected from violence by provisions that give a “long arm” to tribal courts to prosecute sexual abuse against Natives by non-Natives.
Thank you to all those representatives who put the needs of LGBT, Native American, and/or immigrant women above petty partisanship, which included practically EVERY single representative in the Philadelphia area. You have made me cry tears of joy.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Feb 28, 2013
Today the House of Representatives reauthorized the Violence Against Women’s Act – a version we actually like which includes provisions specific to college students, native American women, LGBT people and immigrant women. VAWA covers a lot of territory. Some of its most known benefits include funding for shelters and programs to prevent domestic violence. Now the bill is off to the President to sign and become law, so take a minute to celebrate all your hard work in making this a reality!
Feb 28, 2013
By now, everybody seems to have heard of the misogynist behaviour of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of 3 animated TV shows, each containing a loveable idiot, an attractive wife, a loser son, a daughter who hates him, a comically sized sadist, and a non-human best friend, at the Oscars on Sunday.
According to the Huffington Post:
Two female California state lawmakers have condemned Oscar host Seth MacFarlane’s comments during Sunday’s awards presentation as degrading toward women and asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to use better judgment in the future.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson…. sent a letter to Academy President Hawk Koch on Tuesday, requesting that the organization disavow MacFarlane’s behavior.
They objected to the comedian’s focus on the physical appearance of several actresses and quips about nude scenes.
“Furthermore, there was a disturbing theme about violence against women being acceptable and funny,” the lawmakers wrote. “From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about `boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.”
Fun fact, I used to be a fan of the show Family Guy, in fact, as a young wild-eyed progressive activist in college, I found a spirit animal (no pun intended) in Brian Griffin, the Prius driving, Michael Moore reading, anthropomorphic dog. However, we trans people, for almost THREE years now, knew of MacFarlane’s misogynistic tendencies, except in that episode “Quagmire’s Dad“, he made fun of transwoman, probably the most marginalized subset of women there are. A few of the most egregious offenses from that episode include:
1) At the beginning of the episode, Quagmire’s father, Dan, who becomes Ida, who is visiting Quahog, the town where the show is set, is portrayed as a stereotypically flamboyant effeminate gay male. When Quagmire asks if his father is gay, he reveals he came to Quahog for gender confirmation surgery. In reality, transition is a long and hard process, I have been out since 2009 and my male genitalia is STILL intact and I still have man-face, even though hormones have helped alleviate such. No surgeon would operate on someone who has not come out yet, and there is no way that someone would go into the hospital presenting as obviously male and come out looking and presenting female.
2) There was a scene where Ida comes over to the Griffin household for dinner and brings a dish, which, unbeknownst to her, gets thrown out, demonstrating a view that we are somehow diseased and that we should be marginalized. I see that incident also as a metaphor for my life as a transgender/LGBQ and progressive activist. I feel like any achievement I might have accomplished is thrown out like that casserole due to the fact that I am a strong-willed transsexual woman.
3) Towards the end of the episode, Brian Griffin, who is absent from the episode as a whole and is unaware of the happenings around Ida, meets her at a bar and then develops a sexual relationship with her. When he finds out that Ida used to be “Dan”, Brian proceeds to vomit for a full forty seconds, as if we are somehow disgusting. He also proceeds to wonder why the neighborhood hasn’t been notified, which plays into fears of transgender women being sex offenders.
The whole problem with this show and Seth MacFarlane’s misogyny, both trans and cis, is that he is NOT your stereotypical image of a misogynist. MacFarlane and Brian Griffin, who is used often as a soapbox for MacFarlane’s Bush-hating, pro-gay, pro-environment view, is a supposedly progressive minded person who appears to be someone who fights for the rights of all, yet harbors deep misogynistic (both cis- and trans-) views. At least with the religious right, you know who the enemy is, MacFarlane’s just an enemy posing as a friend.
And yet, to various degrees, there are a lot of Seth MacFarlanes in my world. They are the people who marginalize me, who pat me on the head and tell me “that’s a good little boy” and then ignores what I have to say. I’ve been ignored and looked at funny at rallies for public education, I’ve been misgendered by people whom I have shared a bus ride with to Harrisburg to fight for a common cause, I’ve even been asked why I am wearing women’s clothing AT AN ANTI-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RALLY. Sadly, I have to say, these are not my people, and there are so few people that I am in my comfort zone dealing with, that it impedes any good I wish to do.
To all the people who are fans of Seth MacFarlane due to his edginess and his purported progressivism, please remember that if you base your views on social issues on his “comedic output”, you are marginalizing women, both cis and trans, and contributing to physical, emotional, and relational violence against us.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
“I suspect it’s difficult for men to imagine a world in which their bodies have long been inextricably linked to their value as an individual, and that no matter how encouraging your parents were or how many positive female role models you had or how self-confident you feel, there is an ever-present pressure that creeps in from all sides, whispering in your ear that you are your body and your body defines you. A world where, from the time of pubescence on, you can feel the constant and palpable weight of the male gaze, and not just from your male peers but from teachers and sports coaches and the fathers of the children you baby-sit, people you’re supposed to respect and trust and look up to, and that first realization that you are being looked at in that way is the beginning of a self-consciousness that you will be unable to shake for the rest of your life. Even if they are never verbalized, the rules of bodily conduct for females become clear early on: when school administrators reprimand you for the inch of midriff that shows when you lift your hands straight in the air or youth group leaders tell you that the sight of your unintentional cleavage is what causes godly young men to fall, you learn that your body is dangerous and shameful and that it’s your responsibility to cloister it in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. You learn that your body is a topic of public debate that everyone is entitled to weigh in on, from a male classmate telling you that those jeans make your ass look huge to the male-dominated United States Congress dictating the parameters that rape must fall within to be considered legitimate. To be a woman, and to live life in a woman’s body, is to be held to a set of comically paradoxical standards that make you constantly second-guess yourself and jump through a million hoops in pursuit of an impossible perfection.”
Feb 26, 2013
With the re-election of President Obama, there has been much discussion about the War in Afghanistan. Usually, this discussion focuses on troop withdrawal or American deaths in Afghanistan. While these topics are undoubtedly important, Americans often forget to consider the plight of civilians remaining in Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with extremely high maternal mortality, infant mortality, and under-5 mortality rates. Beyond the dismal health indicators, women and girls suffer tremendously. Behind the burqas are tales of domestic violence, sexual violence, and targeted killings.
The UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan recently released its 2012 Annual Report, entitled “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”. Inside are completely shocking numbers.
While these numbers are shocking by themselves, the report doesn’t even cover the number of women, girls, men and boys subjected to sexual violence annually. Every day, there are news stories in about girls getting their throats slit when they refuse a forced marriage, or girls choosing to light themselves on fire rather than marry a 60-year-old man. Forced marriages and forced intercourse are considered to be types of sexual violence. According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, there were more than 3,000 instances of violence against women between March and September 2012. Violence against women is truly considered an undeniable and widespread reality in Afghanistan. Sexual violence experienced by women and girls in Afghanistan includes forced sexual intercourse, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, demands for illegitimate sexual acts, sexual insults and humiliations, and forced watching of pornographic films.
While the U.S. and other Western countries consider the withdrawal of troops and cessation of military action in Afghanistan, they cannot forget the women, girls, men and boys who they have sought to protect for the past 12 years. The U.S. intends to hand over their reins to the Afghani government and police force. We must work hard to ensure that this government does not turn its back on the most vulnerable the moment the last troop leaves Afghani airspace.
Feb 22, 2013
On Valentines Day my daughter, Leilani, and I participated in a Flash Mob as part of the One Billion Raising Movement. We danced together and along side hundreds of women to end violence against women.
By Max Smith
Feb 21, 2013
Back in early October I had an unfortunate experience with a security guard on my campus. This post is an expanded version of when I originally wrote about it the next day on my Tumblr.
Due to my on-campus apartment’s new security procedure if I want to have a guest over (or even just have someone pick me up from my apartment) I have to walk down to the main entrance to sign them in. I wouldn’t have a problem with this except you only have to do this at night. Meaning if I want to go out to eat with a friend at midnight I have to either
I thought this was a bit ridiculous, but it didn’t really bother me until one night. My boyfriend at the time drove from Nashville to come visit me. He didn’t get to campus until around one, so the security checkpoint was in place. By the time I got to the checkpoint I had thought of a few ideas for a better system or a few improvements. (The procedure is that if you have a student ID they let you in, but if not someone has to sign them in. The reasoning behind this is that only non-students cause problems in the apartments [Not true.])
I tried to talk to the security guard about my observations and how they could be implemented. I asked who I would talk to about it. He said it was none of my business and wouldn’t even tell me how to get in contact with his superior. He was incredibly rude, so the conversation got heated. He insinuated I was lazy. He did not care about the risk. He said that I should just not have guests if I I had a problem with their “security” system. Three quotes from him that night:
There are so many reasons this is problematic. I left this conversation in tears. I’m not the only student who has problems with campus security.
One young woman I know asked public safety for a ride or escort across campus (There are signs all over ETSU that advertise this service.). The officer on duty called her lazy. He then transferred her to a non-working phone number. She ended up walking by herself. A couple guys in a car shouted sexual things at her, but luckily they were just hecklers and nothing came of it.
In a Diversity Educators meeting one black male student told us about his experience with Campus Security where the guard threatened to throw all of his friend “in jail if he got a single noise complaint from them.” This was just for pulling up to the apartment complex in a car full of young black men.
I feel that educating university staff and security on racism and sexual violence should be mandatory. I also feel that RAs should be educated on what to do if a resident tells them they have been raped, harrassed, or discriminated. Our campus claims to be very progressive and even with yearly events like “Civility Week” we have a very long way to go.
Feb 18, 2013
Human Trafficking is a major issue all over the world, happening not just in far flung nations, but happening here domestically. Although all people can be victims of this ugly epidemic, there needs to be more focus on how it affects the transgender community. The FBI, on a website devoted to human trafficking issues, actually mentioned the term “transgender”
Other young people are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. Once these children become involved in prostitution, they often are forced to travel far from their homes and, as a result, are isolated from their friends and family. Few children in this situation can develop new relationships with peers or adults other than the person victimizing them. The lifestyle of such youths revolves around violence, forced drug use, and constant threats.8
Among children and teens living on the streets in the United States, involvement in commercial sex activity is a problem of epidemic proportion. Many girls living on the street engage in formal prostitution, and some become entangled in nationwide organized crime networks where they are trafficked nationally. Criminal networks transport these children around the United States by a variety of means—cars, buses, vans, trucks, or planes—and often provide them counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. It is not only the girls on the streets who are affected; boys and transgender youth enter into prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13 on average.9
Here in Pennsylvania, the latest piece of legislation to address human trafficking in general is SB75, put out by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, which at a whopping 63 pages, seeks to overhaul the way sex trafficking is handled here. And, a search of the terms “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” indicates that it is one of four bills (as of February 18, 2013) to be LGBT inclusive.
On pages 45-46 of the bill, language is added in to include personal characteristics that should be considered and recognized.
(b) Personal characteristics to be considered.–In the
development of the State plan under this section, the council shall consider the following factors relevant to the human trafficking victim and the victim’s dependent children:
(3) Special needs.
(4) Sexual orientation.
(5) Gender identity.
(6) Racial and ethnic background.
So, I guess we have some recognition of the special focus that needs to be put on LGBT survivors of human trafficking. However, a statement about shelters on page 54 of this bill contains a chilling omission.
(a) Voluntary placement.–Residence of a human trafficking victim in a shelter or other facility shall be voluntary, and a human trafficking victim may decline to stay in a shelter orother facility.
(b) Restrictions on admission.–Admission to a shelter:
(1) shall be made without regard to race, religion,
ethnic background, sexual orientation, country of origin or culture
Note how there is no reference to gender identity in the part of the bill that actually puts teeth on regulations towards provision of services, rather, it is only a mention in terms of tracking statistics. And of course, a study by Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute mentions an all too familiar problem with transgender people and shelters.
It is crucial that police and other law enforcement work with informed human trafficking and LGBTQ organizations to increase sensitivity and the possibility of victim identification. And we must provide services and housing specific to the needs of LGBTQ persons who are survivors of trafficking in persons. For example, as far as we know, none of the trafficking shelter beds available in New York City are available for trans-women. The public dialogue is overwhelmingly dominated by discussions of “girls” leading us to believe that trafficking is a crime exclusively against under-age cisgender (one whose sex at birth matches her gender identity) women, resulting in a narrow focus by those most likely to be able to lend a helping hand. Meeting the needs of trans-women will also require specific outreach campaigns.
This is just another example of ill-informed “bathroom panic” threatening gender self-determination and throwing transgender people who have been rescued from human trafficking out of the frying pan and into the fire, and yet another example of bills which otherwise further LGBT people doing it wrong in terms of the most vulnerable.
It appears that the bill was voted out of committee as of February 6, 2013, however, I will not support this bill until they add in gender identity inclusive language in terms of shelter admissions.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Feb 18, 2013
On Valentine’s Day, I decided to take a ride to LOVE park, where Philadelphia’s One Billion Rising Celebration was taking place.
According to local activist Caryn Hunt:
Today all over the world, feminists – women and men, will gather together in solidarity against violence towards women. In Philadelphia, One Billion Rising will happen at Love Park, at 2:14PM.
The event is the creative juggernaut of Eve Ensler, the feminist activist and playwright best known for The Vagina Monologues. She has traveled the world speaking everywhere as a witness to the misery and horror that women face simply because they are women, and because entrenched patriarchal cultural “norms” ignore or discount violence against women and girls. There is no end to the injustice once you become aware of it. And trust me, at some point, almost every woman on the planet becomes aware of it.
Ensler’s event has drawn some criticism for not doing enough to actually deter violence against women, and for including men. It shows a kind of immaturity to whine about what Ensler hasn’t done, compared to what she has done. That aside, it is an old, old criticism of the feminist movement to slam privileged white women for their efforts to change things for more oppressed female groups.
While I do agree that it does not do enough to bring attention to the issue of violence, it is a creative way to bring attention to women’s issues around the globe. And also, some have criticized the event for including men. While I am understanding of the idea of women’s space, we have to be careful that transgender women aren’t lumped in as men.
This came true when an attendee asked me why I was wearing women’s clothes. I will admit that I am not the most passable transwoman, but that question made me feel so uncomfortable inside, as if I was some dudebro who was trying to make a mockery out of the event and to “appropriate” women’s struggles. Although the woman backed off when I told her I was transsexual, it is still a case study of transgender women and their relation to women’s rights.
I am a feminist. I support the rights of both cisgender and transgender women. I support the rights of cisgender women to have an abortion, to use birth control, and to have access to screenings for various cancers and domestic violence services. I also support the right of transgender women to be recognized as women and to be able to access all transition related medical care, as well as to access women’s spaces, and to not have to be thrown in the men’s side of things. I will always support both cis and transwomen’s issues, don’t get me wrong, but instances such as these make me potentially uneasy about organizing in mainstream feminist circles or attending events such as this, as there seem to be too many people who think I am some form of “male invader”.
But at any rate, a transgender woman whom I am friends with heard the exchange, and after a while, I just decided I couldn’t dance and that I was going to stand on the sidelines like a grumpycat while the women attended did some Zumba.
It is getting more difficult for me to identify as a feminist these days, even though there are a lot of good people associated with that label!!!
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Feb 16, 2013
Valentine’s Time’s Day has always been a weird holiday for me for lack of a better word. This Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013 I decided to do something different, something I will never forget – I attended One Billion Rising. The event was put on by Girls For Gender Equity (GGE) Youth organizers, a Brooklyn-based intergenerational grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the physical, psychological, social and economic well-being of girls, women and their communities. GGE partnered with the Brooklyn YWCA and Vibe Theater Experience, a performing arts organization that empowers teen girls through the creation and production of original performances.
Many others and I were invited to Strike, Dance and Rise with millions of women across the globe to demand an end to gender-based violence. I had no idea what that meant or how that would look when I RSVPed for the event. After leaving the event, I realized that the element of what we were doing could not be imagined but instead must be lived.
What I wasn’t planning to see was the large variety in ages present in the room. The youngest of us RISING, STRIKING and DANCING was seven years old. The room was filled with middle schoolers, high school youth organizers from GGE and the Sadie Nash Leadership Institute, adult organizers, and older women who were residents of YWCA.
After a game of GGE’s rendition of BINGO we were invited to learn the One Billion Rising Breaking the Chains Dance. Always taking the opportunity to get some aerobic exercise I decided to join in. After the umteenth step I decided it was better for me to take a seat and watch. I watched teenagers teaching both children and older women this dance. When someone missed a step complete strangers in the audience were there cheering them on. I even observed two teen women who had never met each before that day helping each other learn the steps. I highlight this because as an organizer who works with bullying and horizontal hostility, I can’t express the significant value of seeing two young women join hands to break the chains that seek to restrain them from achieving their potential to succeed in this world.
After dancing we were invited to share words on why we RISE today. Women and men of all ages took the floor to speak on why they were present. A young woman from Vibe Theater Experience spoke about wishing she could be there for a friend who had bruises “that were so strategically placed” in seventh grade. She expressed that she listened to everything her friend was saying, but not was she wasn’t saying. A resident of YWCA rose for her friend that died at the hand of her abuser in 1973. She made it a point to tell us “that sometimes we have make it our business.” Participants rose for their sisters, their mothers, their classmates and their friends. One of the youngest to rise was in middle school. She rose to commemorate the third anniversary of her sister who was killed by her boyfriend. Another middle schooler talked about being bullied in school and how that affected her. She left us with an important message about finding our space and how not only do we have to be there for each other but for also for ourselves. She said, “I have my room, and there I’m not nerd, I’m not geek, I’m just my beautiful self.” As a person who is at least twelve years older than her, those words still resonate with me and touched the 10-year old in me growing up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Exactly one day after the Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act was passed in the Senate, it is extremely clear that violence against women is very well alive and present right here in Brooklyn, NY. Like Natalie Gyte, I was skeptical about coming together for yet another Eve Ensler movement to “dance” away violence. Gyte says that the movement does not acknowledge the “root causes” of violence like patriarchy and the control and subjugation of women’s bodies. I argue that my experience with One Billion Rising did in fact address a major issue that leads to the maintenance and perpetuation of gender-based violence –Silence!
This event was a space where no one’s experiences were dismissed or discounted. I do not know a space where 10-year olds can stand in front of complete strangers and voice their reasons for rising against violence. I don’t know of many spaces where women of different colors, creeds and ages feel that their experiences are validated, seen as authentic and an integral part of what we need to move forward. A space where our elders murmur in agreement with a teenager in a pair of Jordan XIII’s when she talks about racing up a flight of stairs in her junior high school prom dress and ringing all the doorbells in attempt to save a friend involved in sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. So no this was not a space where women just “danced”! It was a space were we worked collaboratively, shared impromptu teachable moments, cried, laughed, took up space and demanded that our voices be heard. It was the space, where some of us did not have to speak because of our sisters shared our stories, although we had never met before. We were somehow singing the same song, in our own voices, each taking a different verse but always in harmony. My experience in breaking the chains was a divine moment in breaking the silence that Audre Lorde says will not protect [us]! It was the energy in that room that caused us to rise in voice, in song, in movement (a first language for some), in love, in vision and in solidarity.
Nearing the end of the event I convinced our birthday girl, a beautiful bright-eyed seven-year old to cupid-shuffle with me. It was while I held her hand to kick, kick when I realized why I do this work. Brushing a tear away from my face and walking it out, I realized that she is why I go hard in the paint everyday so that girls like her can live in communities free from violence. Where young black girls voices and experiences are validated. Where she has complete control over her body and the right to lead a self-determined healthy life!
“It is our Duty to fight….It is our duty to win. We must love… and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
- Assata Shakur
Feb 15, 2013
Beginning yesterday and extending through tomorrow, there is a symposium entitled “Missing Peace: Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings” taking place at the United States Institute of Peace in DC. As we discuss and take action around sexual violence for Valentine’s Day, and with the one billion rising campaign, it is important to have serious discussions about the impact sexual violence has on women, girls, boys and men worldwide. This symposium brings together NGOs, activists, and UN and government officials to discuss how to best persecute sexual violence and, more importantly, how to prevent sexual violence in conflict zones.
I spent the majority of the day yesterday watching the webcast (sadly, the event is invite-only). I learned that discussion about sexual violence is far from straightforward. While we all agree that sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings is a horrible and far too pervasive problem globally, the experts convened for the symposium differed widely in how they thought it should be dealt with.
Beginning with a keynote speech from the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, the symposium focused on national and international responses to sexual violence. The biggest controversy was how to deal with the perpetrators. Ms. Bangura and many other panelists advocated the “naming and shaming” approach; by putting the identities of perpetrators out in the open, the UN and activists hope to shame them into stopping. They also want to send a warning message to other potential perpetrators that what they are doing is not okay.
There were several points on each side concerning this naming and shaming approach:
The naming and shaming question is a hard one to answer. The important question to ask is if it has any impact on prevention, or if it exploits the victim in any way. In Rwanda, many women were exposed as victims through this process. As I mentioned above, if the perpetrator doesn’t actually care about being shamed, it will do nothing for prevention.
While most of the discussion concerned women, I was glad that a few panelists brought up sexual violence against boys and men. Boys and men may experience sexual violence as a way to be coerced into a militia. Once they are raped, they have two choices: join the militia, or be put to death for sodomy.
Sexual violence in conflict and non-conflict areas is a tragic problem, with countless victims on every continent. Action must be taken, and it requires the participation of religious groups, NGOs, military leaders, government leaders, and non-state actors.
Feb 14, 2013
Have you been watching coverage of today’s One Billion Rising events? Have you seen or participated in one of the hundreds of flashmobs taking place across the world? Check out the One Billion Rising website for some amazing live footage of these dance parties, and stay up to date by searching the #OneBillionRising hashtag on Twitter. If you’re participating in a V-Day event in your area, tell us about it in the comments!
Feb 10, 2013
(oldie but goody)
Feb 1, 2013
I just read an article online by Kenechi Uzochukwu on the online Nigerian magazine called “YNaija” titled “Men Can Do Nothing against Rape.” He was trite and came from the perspective of a bigot parading as an enlightened man.
I’ve been lead to believe that this type of behaviour comes from a society of men who thing that all men who rape are victims of the oppressive and taunting women-folk who parade themselves in too short, too skimpy outfits without understanding the consequences that their actions, and in some cases, inaction, can influence another person’s actions unto another.
I’m sure in his head he tried his hardest to explain that all rape victims were put into that position because men would rather not rape children (most of the time, anyway) and they’d rather not rape themselves. So, women turn out to be the privileged few worthy of their unwelcome advances or violence. And therefore, it’s left to women, that is, every single female on the planet who is, has or may be in danger of being raped. We started the teasing that leads to rape, therefore we have to stop men from raping us, from raping all of us. We attack their sensibilities by our indecent attires, so they attack us to retaliate.
What I have failed to comprehend from this person’s article is whether he even considered another, more viable, less involved in pointing fingers at women as being the predominant causes of rape. He never considered those being victims of sexual violence as a result of war or unrest at the areas, where the opposition make use of rape as a form of psychological warfare. A way of demoralising their enemies into submission.
He wrote that sometimes women are attacked as a result of other women’s indecent dressing so the rapist could assuage his burning desire. Even if that were true, is the victim in that scenario to blame for what someone, a person who she may not have seen or heard of, has done to influence the rapist to attack an innocent bystander?
What about victims attacked due to prejudice and discrimination? Are they to blame also for the colour of their skin, the religion they belong to, the class they were born into because they deserved it and were unworthy to be treated any better?
Jan 28, 2013
Everytime I saw a Bollywood movie, the culture used to fascinate me. To be honest, it still fascinates me now. For a nation filled with such rich culture and heritage and human resources – especially the women who are all so beautifully dressed in an attempt to match their outfits to the extent of their beauty – with their long hair flowing like black gold, one would think somethings wouldn’t be the norm in India.
They founded and polished technology, ideas and even the kama sutra (yes, I am that predictable) and for some reason, dowry killing still goes on? How does that work exactly???
In Africa, or at least Nigeria, the man and his family come over to the intended bride and her family to pay the dowry or bride price. Yep! You read it well…men pay dowries, not women and nowhere in history has anyone witnessed or heard about the woman’s family threatening, assualting or even killing the man because he couldn’t pay. Money first, bride after. Not before.
It never made sense to me why the woman had to pay to be married into her intended husband’s family. Even if it were a gift, why would one be so incensed as to actually hurt and murder the woman because she couldn’t pay?
In this day and age, why bother with the dowry? Shouldn’t it be some form of ritual demanded by custom yet executed to agreement of both families to be a symbol of the new couple’s commitment to eachother and the joining of two families?
Nigerians have started to do this now. The days of spending millions of naira for the dowry for a wife has passed. Why can’t the South Asians follow suit?
Jan 28, 2013
I always pity them, then I feel this feeling of derision at their situation and I always have this thoughyt in my mind:
“Why don’t you just leave ?”
I love him, they say. He loves me thats why he hits me, she says. I have nowhere to go…
And trust me, that fact isn’t at all reassuring.
Lately, I’ve been getting alot of emails and campaigns about the fight to end violence against women. I’ve even posted a blog about Orange Day and The Honour in Honour Killing. I’ve never let anyone I know who suffers or is in danger of being a victim of violence in the hands of her partner be let alone to take it, and I’m not about to start now.
Sexual violence transcends to young, underaged girls forced by family and culture to marry much other men, exposing them to sexually transmitted infections, and also fistulas.
These are incidences I see around me everyday. We say that we are moving forward, breaking boundaries and making progress. Yet that woman with the bruise on her face…yes, you know her. She always laughs it off. She’s so clumsy and keeps hitting her head against the door in her house.
Maybe, just maybe someone had his hands against her head so her head wouldn’t miss the door.
Jan 27, 2013
I once read a book in high school involving a sequence of events that highlighted a certain detective’s fight against sexual offenders interested in the participation of child as sexual objects physically while they filmed the act and distributed it to the black market. At one time, the detective watched a video where this poor little girl was cajoled into entering the pool or hot tub with this man, where he did things to her, and subsequently ended her life – while still in the water with him. That is how I recalled that book. And I pitied the detective. I felt so sorry that he had to see that and he was unshaken. I felt sorry for him that he’d spent years of his career seeing things like that as a pice of his soul chipped away when he saw young, innocent 6 years old being used, abused and murdered for some pervert’s pleasure and entertainment.
The possession of and distribution of child pornography is a criminal offense, so says the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
The child is groomed, in some instances to deliberately befriend and establishing an emotional connection with the child, to lowering their inhibitions, preparing them for the sexual activity to come. Exploiting their innocence. Damaging them, maybe irrevocably.
In Nigeria, it is the common belief that the sexual exploitation of a child, or at least a minor is often done in the hands of someone the child knows well, or at least, someone with access to the child without the reservations of the family. What’s worse, it is sometimes seen as the norm.
When I was a little girl, my best friend Anna and I knew this man who would always try to grab us and take us inside as a way of playing with us. He never caught me, but Anna did mention that the one time he drag her to his room, he tried to touch where she usually used to go to the bathroom to pee. We never thought anything of it; we even thought he was a bit strange, playing with little girls almost twenty years older than he was. Now that I think about it, if I were Anna’s mom, that guy would be missing the part of his body his kids would come out from.
In a country where some cultures have no problem with marrying still developing young girls, its not hard to find things like this happening. I am just thankful that we were somewhat protected (believe it or not) and weren’t exposed to worse violations.
The fact was, we didn’t know any better. And I am glad that more twisted things didn’t happen. But every day, one hears news about some poor girl being molested and abused by her father, or uncle or cousin and nothing being done about it. In Nigeria, I’m sure if women compared notes about growing up and the role of sex was assessed, we’d be really shocked about the similarities we had and forgot about.
Sometimes…playing isn’t just playing. Man has a dark side to them. And I hope our children never get to see the extent of which the darkness can reach. If they do, what innocence would we find, then.
Jan 26, 2013
Recently, in India, the public has raised the concern of sexual harassment and rape due the case happened on December 16th, 2012, when a 23 years old woman accompanied by a male friend after watching a movie “Life of Pi” , was later gang-raped and tortured by six men, and it was so violent that the girl died on December 29th in Singapore. Because of this high frequency of raping cases, one in every 22 minutes, according to data collected by National Crime Record Bureau, had many Indian women and women right activists to begin a nation-wide demonstration to force the government to take action to protect women’s right and their integrity. This issue was significant as for the year of 2012 alone there were 600 rape cases in New Delhi recorded alone which no doubt is the most-policed in India. The most problematic part was polices ignorance on this issue as only one out of 600 reported cases was convicted for crime last year. Therefore, the demonstration also call for the justice of these brutal gang-rapists and advocate for a change in Indian’s traditional attitude of gender inequality. In the first month of 2013, thousands of Indians began to take action on the street facing polices tear gases, water cannon to express their concern and outrage in this events. By now it is the most vocal protest against sexual assault within India, and it is believed that from this nation-wide demonstration it is possible to achieve women equality and rights from the government and force the policy maker and police system to take serious actions to prevent the probability of the future reported case of raping activities.
Jan 16, 2013
Keep this in mind the next time someone tries to tell you there’s no such thing as rape culture. Here are some choice excerpts from a satirical post on the Wronging Rights blog:
What If We Responded to Sexual Assault by Limiting Men’s Freedom Like We Limit Women’s?
Calls for Men to Be Blindfolded in Public
In response to claims that men are unable to restrain themselves from committing rape if they see women in skimpy clothing, members of law enforcement agencies around the country have called for men to blindfold themselves when they are in places where they might encounter a female wearing a tank top or a short skirt.
Unwise to Allow Men to Go Out Alone at Night?
A local coalition of religious leaders, concerned about recent studies showing that an average of 6% of men will commit a sexual assault during their lifetime, and that nearly all sexual assaults are committed by men on their own or in groups, are urging parents not to let their sons go out at night unless they are accompanied by a mother, sister, or trusted female friend.
Time to Admit That Some Jobs May Just Be Too Dangerous for Men?
Recent allegations that Jimmy Savile raped numerous children while working as a television presenter for the BBC, have led to widespread calls for television stations to avoid allowing men to do similar jobs.
“We know that not all men are rapists, and that some men can probably be trusted to present tv shows safely,” said the director of Televisions Within Borders, a professional group that promotes the welfare of TV hosts and the people they cover. “However, now we know that some men can’t. And why take the risk? There are plenty of qualified women who can do this job instead.”
Men in blindfolds? Female escorts for nighttime walks?? Ha! It sounds ridiculous until the gender roles are reversed again – then it just sounds like the victim-blamey garbage we hear from politicians, religious leaders, and media figues every single day. Are you as sick of it as I am?
Jan 16, 2013
There is a lot of fuss about school systems and what they are teaching students. Some schools are reportedly being biased to certain sexual orientations. Some schools are incorrectly educating the actual anatomy and physiology of the female sexual organs. Homosexual teens are being told to seek help and counseling for being openly gay, but those who admit to being sexually active aren’t. One School reportedly said,(and I paraphrase)” “If you get AIDs, you will die and that’s all we know.” Many parents are logically upset but isn’t it more the parents and less the public school’s responsibility to teach their children sexual health education. Why our opinions on this may vary, it is refreshing to know that there are many advocates working for comprehensive sex education in the school system, JUST IN CASE parents aren’t’ teaching this at home… we all have a right to information and guidance on how to be sexually healthy.
Jan 13, 2013
Click on the link to see the images in full!
Jan 11, 2013
Political Info and Laws in Brief
- Governor Rick Snyder (R) is anti-choice.
- The Michigan House is anti-choice.
- The Michigan Senate is anti-choice.
Michigan bans a safe abortion procedure and has unconstitutional and unenforceable criminal bans on abortion.
Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay
Michigan has a partially unconstitutional and unenforceable law that subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays.
Counseling Ban/Gag Rule
Michigan prohibits certain state employees and organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Refusal to Provide Medical Services
Michigan allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals.
Restrictions on Low-Income Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan restricts low-income women’s access to abortion.
Restrictions on Young Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan law restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent.
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
Michigan subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
Michigan law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception.
Low-Income Women’s Access to Family Planning
Michigan provides certain low-income women increased coverage for Medicaid-funded family-planning services.
Protection Against Clinic Violence
Michigan law protects women seeking reproductive-health care and medical personnel from blockades and violence.
OTHER RELEVANT LAWS
Post-Viability Abortion Restriction
Michigan restricts post-viability abortion.
83% of Michigan counties have no abortion provider.
*an issue that does not affect *just* women.
Jan 9, 2013
No one is a slut. “Slut” is a made-up word to keep women from having as much fun as men. A person who enjoys sex is just a person and a person who is a virgin is also just a person and everyone should lay off each other’s sex lives. Retire the word “slut” please.
From the article: 20 Things We Need to Stop Talking About in 2013
Jan 8, 2013
Jyoti Singh Pandey
Lots of commentary on the India gang rape case has floated past my computer screens. Even calling it the “India gang rape case” has an eerie, dehumanizing tone to it.
Then I came across this article http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/father-india-rape-victim-identifies-daughter-article-1.1234227 and realized it was the first time I read aloud or saw in print her name.
Her name is Jyoti Singh Pandey.
Learning her name jolted me back to this past December, when the name Kasandra Michelle Perkins was brought to my attention from The Crunk Feminist Collective. https://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/remember-their-names-in-memory-of-kasandra-cherica-others/
I’m sure that this name has not made international headlines, but I urge everyone to read more on the importance of naming female victims of violence and learn their names.
Jan 7, 2013
From reading the article from yahoo a indian women was raped by five men and left for dead.In the article it say her and a friend was picked up by the men it did not say nothing about the other women.It dont say that the men had use force our talk there way to her having sexual intorcours with them.It say the police do have dna evidence but dont that mean she give a ok to the men. I do wonder why they would kill her so they mite have u force are she of could walk,run away from the men.It say the men are turning against each other so what if the men did come by there self our the female was friends with men but i still dont understand why they would kill here if they did not rape here.
Jan 4, 2013
Check out this incredible Democracy Now segment on the reaction to India’s gang rape case.
In the first half of the segment, women’s studies scholar Elora Chowdhury offers a particularly relevant critique of the media’s coverage of this tragedy:
“I would suggest that we bring a dual critique to these events. On the one hand, we see in the Western media some reporters taking this moral high-ground and pointing fingers and demonizing Indian culture as though sexual violence against women is pervasive in only certain parts of the world, and that it’s somehow reflective of deeply inherent cultural traditions of that part of the world. Of course, what that obscures is that both rape and domestic violence are pervasive in the United States, domestic violence being one of leading causes of injury to women, and exceedingly high numbers of rape that mostly go unreported in the United States. Embedded in these kinds of reporting is a certain colonial mindset. There is a long history of these kinds of mindsets; [the notion] that women are the measure of the progress of a society emerges from colonial practices…[and] these ideas were used to legitimize both colonization and also imperialism. So that’s something that we have to keep in mind in reading these reports.
At the same time, however, I think that while the massive protests that have occurred in India around this particular case are very significant, and one can hope that this will lead to also significant changes in women’s position, I think we also have to think about the particularities of this case and how, embedded in the reporting on this case are also certain class-based assumptions about the poor. One of the things that I have found striking is how so many of the reports are referring to the slum colony where I think at least 4 of the perpetrators lived as some kind of a breeding ground for criminals…Referring to poor men as illiterate, as violent, somehow normalizes these kinds of violent attacks and associates them with poverty, and it ends up criminalizing the poor, whereas rape and sexual violence, of course, is pervasive, is systematic, is routine. And we also have to think about the ways in which rape attacks and violence against women reported in middle class communities, in certain elite communities are not exposed or talked about, or do not elicit quite as much moral outrage. So I think the class-based assumptions in this reporting are also…quite striking.”
Word. I’ve read a lot of internet chatter over the past few weeks that seems to fixate on patriarchal aspects of Indian culture and to make problematic class-based assumptions about migrant workers while conveniently ignoring the larger ethos of rape culture in which all cultures are complicit. While it’s true that there’s a lot of ground to be made up in India where women’s rights are concerned, this is hardly an excuse to feel warm and fuzzy about Western culture. Feministing blogger Maya pretty much sums it up:
“While India’s rape culture has its own culturally, historically, legally specific dynamics, it shares this with the rape culture in the US–which, I don’t think I need to remind you, is also really, really bad: It will only be truly defeated by those who believe that, as Laurie Penny recently wrote, “rape does not have to be a fact of life,” that male violence is not inevitable, and that women are not truly free until they are “free from fear.”’
Dec 23, 2012
Georgia HB 954, also known as “Women As Livestock,” passed. The bill caught national attention after State Representative Terry England (R) came to the bill’s defense and shared his thoughts a few months ago, “…if farmers have to ‘deliver calves, dead or alive’ then a woman carrying a dead fetus or one not expected to survive should have to carry it to term.”
Because that worked so well with Savita Halappanavar, right? And we thought the GOP couldn’t be any more openly misogynistic.
At first this bill criminalized all abortions after 20 weeks, regardless of health conditions. After weeks of negotiation the bill was revised in a way that an exemption will be made for medically futile pregnancies or if the health of the pregnant person is in danger. The revised bill still neglected to make an exemption for pregnant people with mental illnesses. So, those suffering with mental illnesses will still be forced to continue their pregnancy. The bill still has no exemptions for rape or incest.
According to Ms. Magazine and the bill itself:
In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.
And this “fetal pain” bill is just based on this silly notion that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, even though doctors and scientists keep coming up with new studies that the nervous system of a fetus does not register pain until much later in the third trimester–one of many sources being The Journal of the American Medical Association. But whatever point of the pregnancy the fetus feels pain is actually not an issue for me. Pain, sentience, and/or personhood of the fetus, etc, none of that matters to me in this discourse for reproductive health care and rights. Pregnant people continue to be erased from this conversation, and I’m done with that. We need to stop participating in this erasure of people who are actually affected by these restrictions. The focus of the conversation should always be about choice and the people who can make one. Actuality should always come before potentiality. And remember, no one–whether it’s a fetus, a child, or a grown adult–has the right to another person’s body without constant consent.
I post this with the understanding that this issue does not affect only women or all women. I post this with the hopes that we all continue this fight for reproductive health care and rights.
Dec 22, 2012
Congress Passes Amendment to Lift Abortion Ban on Military Rape Survivors
Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded Congress for supporting a provision sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would lift the ban on women in the military using their health insurance for abortion care in cases of rape or incest. Now, the bill makes its way to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
The Obama administration already has voiced its support for lifting the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance for abortion care.
“Sen. Shaheen and retired military leaders advocated tirelessly to end this discriminatory policy,” Keenan said. “Protecting those who serve our country is an American value. There is no better time than now for President Obama and Congress to remind the country of their commitment to protect and support our servicewomen by signing this bill into law.”
The Shaheen amendment has widespread support ranging from retired military officers to former Secretary of State Colin Powell to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
This ban is one of two unfair restrictions on women’s access to safe abortion care. Looking to the future, NARAL Pro-Choice America also urges lawmakers to repeal the ban on military women using their own money for abortion services in situations beyond sexual assault at overseas military hospitals.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is a longtime leader in advocating for servicewomen’s reproductive rights and has been working with lawmakers and other allies for more than 15 years to repeal this unfair abortion-coverage ban. Nearly 89,000 of the organization’s member activists have taken action to support lifting the ban.
Dec 22, 2012
H.B. 5711, the Michigan omnibus anti-abortion “super bill” passed last week during the lame duck session of the state legislature, is a hefty 80-odd pages worth of restrictions and regulations on abortions, providers, clinics, and medical practices. It was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of the legislature, but how many even knew what they were actually voting for?
Emily Magner of Social Work Advocacy Coalition of Michigan, shares a story onEclectablog of her late November meeting with one local legislator, state Senator Howard Walker, who voted in favor of the bill. A bill which as of the end of November he couldn’t even be bothered to read.
e went on to talk specifically about how this bill will harm Michigan women, disproportionately women living in rural areas like ours. After we brought up a few of these points he put up his hands and said that he couldn’t really speak to those topics … he had not read the bill.
In front of him was a one paragraph synopsis I assume was from the Right to Life special interest organization who drafted the bill.
Howard Walker had not even bothered to read it.
We spoke with him for 20 minutes, the whole time he was dismissive, misinformed, and rude. When his handler told him, “5 more minutes,” I told him that I would never ask him to change his beliefs on abortion, I would protect his right to believe whatever he wanted, but I did want him to consider the harmful implications that this legislation would have on women and consider his ethical obligation to his field to leave his personal views at the door.
Before I could finish my sentence, he waved his hand dismissively and interrupted, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT WOMEN! THIS IS ABOUT PROTECTING FETUSES!”
Republican Governor Rick Snyder has less than two weeks to decide whether he is just as dismissive of women as Senator Walker is or whether he will veto the bill.
Dec 20, 2012
By now, we have all heard of the terrible tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in which 20 young children and six adults were assassinated by a young person carrying an assault weapon. So, why am I mentioning this here? It’s because issues relating to gun control are relevant to me as an LGBT individual, and I feel that this tragedy is a catalyst for talking about our laissez-faire gun laws and the cisgender straight male privilege of the NRA.
Gun violence is everyone’s issue, but as an LGBT individual, we are disproportionately victims of this scourge. This is especially true for the transgender community, especially us transwomen. Just a little over a month ago, people all over the world read the names of transgender people whom have been murdered over the past year as part of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and some of their deaths (including that of Kyra Cordova, the most recent transgender murder victim in Philadelphia) had been facilitated by gun ownership.
To me, the world is a dangerous place. There are way too many people who have an animus towards me as a transgender person, and want to commit violent acts against me when they see me. Just imagine if those people had guns, and they are way too easy to get, they could take me away from you all. Furthermore, there are people out there who spread toxic hatred towards us, and this may drive some psychopath to get an assault weapon and, under an often autonomous banner, mow us down at a gathering. This hasn’t happened yet in the United States, but I don’t want there to be a first time.
People tell us that we should instead purchase firearms to defend ourselves, but the statements of pro-second amendment individuals come from a place of privilege. A few months ago, I blogged about the plight of CeCe McDonald, a black transgender woman who is now serving several years in a Minnesota prison for defending herself against a Neo-Nazi (although there were no guns involved in the case, the idea that transgender people can’t defend themselves without risking incarceration is still there). So called “stand your ground” defenses do not seem to apply to people who are NOT white, middle-class, cisgender, straight males. Not only does the court system have an animus towards transgender people, but upon a likely conviction, the correctional authorities are going to have a field day either perpetrating or allowing sexual assault happen to some of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged women, who will likely not even be put in the right gender setting. It is damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, and prison is probably worse on a transgender individual than anyone else.
There have been many organizations not necessarily directly relating to the issue of unfettered guns who have built coalitions to call for greater gun control.
From the Huffington Post:
Statistics show that gun violence disproportionately affects women. While women only account for about 10 percent of gun-related deaths in the U.S. each year, they make up less than one percent of gun buyers and users, according to the International Action Network on Small Arms. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted before the Newtown, Conn., massacre shows that 60 percent of women support stricter gun control laws, compared to 41 percent of men.
The Newtown shooting also had a domestic violence aspect to it that particularly hits home with women’s advocacy groups. The shooter, Adam Lanza, shot his mother in her home with a gun that was kept in the house.
The American Journal of Public Health found in 2003 that femicides, or intimate partner homicides, are five times more likely in homes where there is access to a firearm.
O’Neill said that her organization is reaching out to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence to join forces on the cause, even though she doesn’t believe that access to guns is to blame for these mass shootings. “It’s the mental illness that’s the problem,” she said. “Our pop culture is just astonishingly violent, and that needs to change. But the low-hanging fruit here is machine guns, for God’s sake, so you go after that first. They call them semi-automatic, but let’s be clear — they’re machine guns. It’s like Chicago in the 1920s.”
While NOW is using the feminist angle to galvanize its female members, other women’s groups are simply tackling the gun control issue straight on. Ultraviolet, a women’s rights group that fights sexism in politics and the media, circulated a gun control petition on Monday that makes no mention of women or gender.
There also is a disturbing image, linked above, which points to our society’s obsession with masculinity. I have posted to Equality Pennsylvania’s facebook wall that gun control is, indeed, an LGBT issue, but have not received a response. Here in Philadelphia, we have a large transgender population and a frequent animus towards us, yet, unlike New York City, the city of Philadelphia is not allowed, by Pennsylvania law, to pre-empt the weak sauce gun control laws statewide. Many lives, especially those who are vulnerable to violence, could be saved if we regulated long guns and handguns like cars and banned assault weapons altogether.
Gun violence is everybody’s issue, but like women and persons of color, LGBandespeciallyT people are heavily impacted by gun violence, and those whose work is centered around issues of gun violence and gun control should make room for us, because we are at risk every day. I, for one, cannot wait to get out of this state.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Dec 18, 2012
By Jordan Craven
I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with the dishonorable Todd Akin; you know, the one who thinks a woman’s body will prevent pregnancies in the event of a rape? Yeah, well he’s not the only one misinformed about sex.
Read it and weep. This survey from the Bristol Youth Project has shown that many young men and women still do not understand what ‘consent’ really means.
Well? What is consent? Good question. First of all, consent is more than just saying yes (or no). If you are not comfortable with having sex with someone, no matter how long you may have known them, you DON’T have to have sex with them. No joke. If you want to stop having sex while having sex, as disheartening as it may be to the other party, you still have the right to call it quits. Sex, like many have said over and over, should be something you cherish or enjoy, not something you must endure.
As for the ones who are a little too pushy about having sex… Stop it right now. There is never at time, ever, that it is okay to force someone into having sex with you. Like, never ever. Rape is very real, and it happens to people all the time. If the other person shows any inkling of NOT wanting to have sex (and yes, that includes: fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, or anything that involves sexual gratification), then, sorry pal, you’ve lost your pass. No means no (even if “no” was never said, but implied).
Communication is always important in any relationship involving sex, whether it be a one-night-relationship, or a long-term one. Always communicate what you want and what you don’t want. If the feeling isn’t reciprocated, well, that’s OKAY. If you’re not sexually pleasured, that doesn’t mean you’ll die. That just means you’ll be solo for the night… and honestly, we all know it wouldn’t be your first time on your own.
For the sake of learning, let’s role play.
Assume you’ve been out at the bar with a few of your friends. One of them has shown previous interest in you before, but neither of you have acted on it. Somehow, the both of you end up at the bar alone. A little drunk, you suggest it’s time to take a cab home. Both of you get in the cab, drive to your place, and walk inside. It’s too late to walk home, so your friend asks to stay the night; you oblige. You both talk, things get a little heavy, and before you know it, you’re putting the moves on. But wait! Are you still drunk? No? That’s good, you can make decisions. Cool. Oh, but your partner is still a little out of it? Hmm. Here lies the problem.
To give consent, you need to be ABLE to give consent. Both parties need to be sober & fully capable of letting the other know that “yes, it is okay to have sex with me” (granted, they may be a tad more suave in their wording, but you get the point).
Another point to be made, is body language. Does your partner seem like they want to consent? (Do you want to consent?). Saying just yes or no doesn’t cover it. Make sure, before you indulge in any intercourse or sex act that your partner isn’t just saying yes to please you; make sure they really do want to have sex. If your partner seems timid, shy, or reserved then they may not be ready. Talk first. Ask questions, and let them know that saying “no” is a real option.
Like I said before, sex should be enjoyable, not something you must endure. If you or anyone you know has been forced/coerced into having sex, then please report it. There are plenty of people out there willing and able to help you or your friends. No one should have to tolerate sexual abuse.
So, to all the previously uninformed young men and women (you too Todd), consider yourself informed & make sure you understand what consent really means.
Dec 17, 2012
Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.
Dec 12, 2012
I am a Native American woman. Yes, I may have a lot of European heritage in me and I am non-status, but I am still proud of who I am (I am descended from the Lenape people, who were indigenous to what is now eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and southern New York State). Recently, the issue of violence towards indigenous women, an issue that has been long brushed under the rug, has been gaining in awareness.
According to the Indian Law Resource Center:
“According to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, the U.S. Congress should make legislation protecting Native women an “immediate priority.” Following a month long tour to hear from indigenous peoples and tribal Nations within the United States, the Special Rapporteur presented his report in September on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The report recommended that the United States immediately address violence against women through legislation.”
This has come in the form of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, which is a multifaceted bill in Congress to overhaul the way we treat violence against women.
The tribal provisions proposed in Section 904 of S. 1925 and H.R. 6625 would restore concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit a limited set of misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence, dating violence and violations of protection orders and who have significant ties to the prosecuting tribe. Tribal courts exercising such specific domestic violence jurisdiction must provide all defendants, whether Indian or non-Indian, with the same protections they would get in a federal or state court. Nothing in the bill would alter or diminish existing federal or state jurisdiction. Its aim is simply to help tribes end the epidemic levels of violence against Native women—something to provide long overdue justice to Native women.
So, as it stands right now, a white male who has no ties to Native heritage whatsoever could go onto a reservation and engage in an unprecedented rapefest, get caught by tribal police, and said tribe WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PROSECUTE THE RAPIST. This is an outrage that must be remedied, us indigenous peoples have had our land and our livelihoods taken away from us, and we deserve self-determination in how the reservations, as a governing body, prosecute sexual assault, and to be able to do so no matter who the perpetrator is.
However, the passage of VAWA faces a procedural snag:
The House and the Senate have each already passed their own bills to reauthorize VAWA, but they differ in one major way: The bipartisan Senate bill includes new protections for members of the LGBT community, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans, and the House bill, which passed with only Republican votes, does not.
The Republican majority is claiming that the new protections are “politically driven”. I am somebody who is part of two out of three affected communities which are mentioned in the Senate bill but not the House bill, and it makes me mad that some of our elected officials believe that some people are political footballs to be thrown around in some demented, morbid game.
Currently, several Republicans have broken from Cantor and Boehner to support the inclusion of these provisions, and the only thing that people can do right now is speak out before time runs out.
I am Native American, I am a woman, I am transgender, I am human, please do not let this issue be swept under the rug.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
By seye lydia
Dec 11, 2012
Rape, sometimes also called sexual assault, can happen to both men and women of any age. The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim is known as RAPE.
Rape is forced and unwanted. It’s about power, not sex. A rapist uses actual force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being. Some rapists use drugs to take away a person’s ability to fight back. Rape is a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, or a family member.
No matter how it happened, rape is frightening and traumatizing. People who have been raped need care, comfort, and a way to heal. The first thing someone who has been raped needs to do is see a medical doctor. Most medical centers and hospital emergency departments have doctors and counselors who have been trained to take care of someone who has been raped. It’s important to get medical care because a doctor will need to check you for sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) and internal injuries.
Dec 5, 2012
Just in time for the Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show, a group of sexy activists hacked the company’s social media outlets and announced a new line of panties promoting consensual sex.
“PINK loves CONSENT” features panties with such slogans as “No means No” and “Listen to What I Want” worn by models of all sizes. Fans of Victoria’s Secret showered their Facebook page with support and, as suggested by the website, Tweeted “#loveconsent” to show their appreciation for Victoria’s Secret’s new line.
At first glance the website looks like the real deal, which was probably very disheartening for those all set to buy every pair available (myself included). But a closer look shows us that the organizers have put a lot of effort into critiquing Victoria’s Secret’s permissiveness of rape culture in their products, comparing the fake panties with actual Victoria’s Secret products. The site also offers plenty of information about safe, consensual sex and what it means to be a communicative partner.
We can only hope that Victoria’s Secret will see the amount of interest in this line and (fingers crossed) make it a reality.
Dec 5, 2012
Advocates for Youth campus organizers Kate and Reed wrote a piece for their campus newspaper the Harvard Crimson last week on how the campus can address “rape culture” or failure to take adequate measures to prevent sexual assault. Last night, they held a speak out, or “gathering of people dedicated to creating a safe space in which they can share their experience with rape culture and listen to the voices of others.” Crimson staff also covered the event.
“Rape culture really comes down to a set of social norms that constrain meaningful interaction and vilify sexuality that affects all of us as survivors and allies….The sheer act of talking about [rape] can be really empowering.”
Dec 5, 2012
Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.
Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international development agenda.
Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.
During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.
Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that stronger families, respect of youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.
According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.
Another day is come and gone, and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!
Dec 4, 2012
What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech decried the situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing out the importance of this event, and then inviting representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look at the young people around them and challenge how they relate to them, and then think of how they can release the potentials of these young people.
Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the world they have always dreamed of.
Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for discussion and adoption by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.
Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally the abolition of laws and policies that that hinder youth empowerment are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.
It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment after attending the plenary session that addressed the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.
Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.
Nov 30, 2012
On November 29, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—the government’s lead agency delivering foreign assistance to more than 100 countries around the world—officially launched its first-ever Youth in Development Policy. The policy, which has been posted on the USAID website since the beginning of November, provides the agency with important guidance recognizing young people as a driving force in global development efforts.
Nearly two years in the making, the policy seeks to strengthen youth programming, participation, and partnership while mainstreaming and integrating young people throughout all of the agency’s policies and programs. Such mainstreaming is critical because, while USAID supports some youth-focused programming, in the health sector for example, these efforts are often small-scale, short-term pilot projects that are limited in reach. In addition, broader initiatives that should be addressing young people’s needs do not necessarily do so unless there are youth champions within the agency or among implementing agencies who seek to proactively prioritize youth within the programming.
This policy has the potential to impact real change on the ground for young people by systematically integrating and mainstreaming youth while also engaging them in policy decisions. Whether it’s providing critical family planning information and services; promoting democracy, human rights, and gender equality; increasing employment and civic engagement; or delivering life-saving assistance following humanitarian disasters, every facet of USAID’s development agenda could (and in my opinion, should) include youth as a key component. In order to achieve this, the policy includes seven key principles:
The fact that there exists a youth policy at all, let alone such a multifaceted one, is certainly commendable. Furthermore, the extent to which it highlights young people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, including the prevention of unintended pregnancies, early marriage, and gender-based violence, is a positive development given the fundamental role sexual and reproductive health plays in all aspects of U.S. foreign policy. In addition to strong language on health, the policy also explicitly recognizes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, as well as the importance of pursuing gender equality and connecting with hard-to-reach populations, including young migrants and refugees, out-of-school and street youth, rural youth, married adolescents, and young people with disabilities.
No government policy is perfect, however. While this policy has made strides in promoting a more holistic and positive approach to youth, it lacks the teeth required to achieve its full potential. No additional funding is set aside to implement it and no mandate is given requiring the agency’s overseas missions to follow it, leaving it largely up to the discretion of individual missions and staff to decide if they have the time or interest in prioritizing youth. Without such mechanisms in place, the policy is just a piece of paper sitting on a shelf. In order to bring it to life, we need to get past this idea that doing youth work is too hard, that young people are too difficult to work with, don’t care, aren’t engaged, or don’t have the knowledge or experience to make change.
We cannot continue to let governments and others perpetuate the fear-based notion that, left unaddressed, youth will wreak havoc on communities and nations. We must remember that young people do not instigate civil strife and conflict; weak political systems do. Young people do not promote extremist ideologies; oppressive government policies do. Young people do not fuel crime sprees; inequitable distribution of resources and economic stagnation do. Young people are not the problem, they are the solution.
They have proven that they are resilient, innovative, and powerful agents of change who can achieve significant policy advancements when they work in conjunction with local, national, and regional stakeholders. Nepalese youth activists supported by Advocates for Youth and our local partner, YUWA, have successfully lobbied government officials to change Nepal’s national sex education curriculum to better reflect the needs of youth. After years of effort, Advocates’ youth council in Nigeria, Education as a Vaccine (EVA), won its campaign to have the Federal Ministry of Health create a stand-alone budget line in the national health sector budget that is specifically dedicated to adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health funding. And, the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) is working with the World Health Organization to develop guidelines for adolescents living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries. Involving young people and key stakeholders in their communities in these processes not only leads to innovative programs, it also increases success rates, while further helping young people build skills in communication, negotiation, and civic participation.
While young people have made tremendous progress in advancing their rights, they cannot and should not do it alone. National governments and the entire international community must not only recognize the rights of youth and respect them as equal partners and rights-holders, but they also have a responsibility to prioritize youth within all their development policies and programs. The USAID Youth in Development policy is one step in the right direction.
With nearly half the world’s population under the age of 25, a government policy recognizing the pivotal role young people play in the development of their communities, their nations, and the world is long overdue. The current and future direction of this planet will largely depend on how well we educate, empower, and engage the largest generation of young people in history. In no area is this of more paramount importance than in the realm of sexual and reproductive health and rights, where education, health, self-determination, and human rights intersect to create the foundations for healthy decision-making.