A gang rape happened in Ohio and no one heard about it. A gang rape happened in India and everyone heard about it (as we should). The American media has represented India as a misogynistic country where women need to be constantly wary of the men that surround them. And after that gang rape, large-scale protests blocked the streets and clogged the media. Now, I am in no way saying that rape and domestic violence are not problems in India. As an Indian-American woman who has been to India many times and is incredibly familiar with the culture, I am in no way denying that. Rape, in India, is a serious problem. Rape, especially in lower class areas in India, is an extremely prevalent problem that needs to stop being ignored and taken seriously. Violence against women in India is a serious issue.
But violence against women in America is also a serious problem. Violence against women in South Africa, and Sweden, and Chile, and Thailand, is a serious problem. Violence against women is a serious problem. Period. Full stop. While our media went out representing India as a typical place for these deplorable events to happen, another woman’s similar story went ignored and without subsequent societal action. This country outright refuses to admit that it is a rape culture.
Our media and our country are so obsessed with presenting foreign countries as worse than us or uncivilized or, most importantly, undemocratic, they will blast our radios and timelines and homepages with news of rapes in India, but refuse to acknowledge that the same thing happens here and is happening here.
Anisha Ahuja, Why Does America Pretend it Doesn’t Hate Women? (Feminspire.com)
Yesterday I read an infuriating piece by a Swedish man about International Women’s Day. He seemed to think it was only about women earning equally to men and being represented politically (all of which he referred to as “details”). The only time he brought up rape and violence was when he suggested we save “poor little villages of girls” instead of getting riled up over these “details”. Not one word how - on average - one woman dies every week in Sweden due to domestic violence; five women are raped every day, or that children living in poverty continues to increase. Because that only happens in ‘other’, ‘non-western’ countries, apparently.)
Happy International Women’s Day!
More coverage of the day: Interactive on world voices speaking on ending gender-based violence
Laura Bates writes on Comment is free about the sexist ‘laddism’ emanating from our universities
On Guardian data: see political rights around the world mapped
Powerful image from Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/EPA
A new group running for municipal elections in Hebron is offering residents an alternative to politics as usual in the conservative West Bank city: Women at the helm, instead of men.
The all-female list, which is called “By Participating, We Can,” is gearing up for next month’s vote with a campaign that aims both to win at the polls and to convince voters that women can lead just as well as men.
“Men here traditionally want their women to stay at home, and when they allow them to go out to work, they send them to do traditional jobs like teaching,” said Maysoun Qawasmi, the 43-year-old group leader, who entered the race this week. “But we want them to go further, to work like men in all possible jobs they can.”
Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property (UNICEF, ‘Gender Equality – The Big Picture’, 2007.)
So on point and just so perfect.
by Golnaz Esfandiari
Women have worn the hijab in Iran for three decades — some voluntarily, others begrudgingly.
To not do so would be breaking the law. But now women from both camps are going online to push back.
Dozens of Iranian women, and some men, living both inside and outside the country, have posted their pictures on the Facebook page of a newly launched campaign called, “No to Mandatory Hijab” that declares that women should have the right to choose whether or not to wear the Muslim headscarf.
Among the posters, according to the campaign’s organizers, are women living inside the country who voluntarily wear the chador — the long cloak with a head scarf — but believe that the hijab shouldn’t be compulsory.
The activists who launched the campaign describe themselves as “liberal university students and graduates” and say it’s meant to be an expression of solidarity with Iranian women, who they say should have the freedom to decide what they wear.
Dozens of intellectuals, journalists, activists, artists, religious and secular Iranians have joined the campaign by posting their pictures on the Facebook page of the campaign and expressing their opposition to the mandatory hijab. In just a few days the page has attracted more than 10,000 fans.
Campaign leader Alireza Kiani told RFE/RL that at least half of the people who have “liked” the page live inside Iran. Kiani, who left Iran about a year ago, says he was deeply bothered by the constant harassment of Iranian women over their appearance.
“It’s an insult to women but also men,” he says about the mandatory hijab.
Iranian officials claim that women who do not properly cover up themselves lead men astray. They also maintain that the hijab — especially the chador — is the best protection for women.
The 27-year-old Kiani said the campaign is aimed at stirring public opinion about the compulsory hijab and forcing political figures and others to take a stand.
“We’re especially targeting the reformists and religious intellectuals who in the early days of the revolution were either supportive of the mandatory hijab or kept silent about it,” Kiani said.
“We believe that if tomorrow Iran will be free, if in tomorrow’s Iran there won’t be any compulsion and mandatory hijab, those reformists, religious intellectuals, and, in general, political figures have to take a clear stance regarding it. So that if there are changes in Iran, we will have a document from them proving that they expressed their opposition to the compulsory hijab.”
The mandatory hijab — often described as one of the pillars of the Islamic Republic — has long been a challenge for authorities to enforce.
For the past 30 years, women in Iran have been harassed, arrested, and fined for not fully observing the Islamic hijab dress code — which requires them to cover their hair and body and dress modestly in public. But men, also, face pressure over their appearance or hairstyles, when authorities consider them inappropriate or un-Islamic.
Despite the state pressure, it’s not uncommon to see young women pushing the boundaries by wearing trendy and tight clothing, using make-up, and showing as much hair as possible. The state responds with crackdowns — usually in summer — and increasing the pressure on anyone who challenges the rules.
The participation of a prominent reformist cleric, U.S.-based Mohsen Kadivar, in the “No Hijab” campaign has been met with criticism by some who say his political affiliation and religious views could undermine the cause.
Kadivar has been quoted by an opposition website as saying that there is no religious reason to make the hijab compulsory. “We don’t have any verses in the Koran or saying by the [Prophet Muhammad] that gives anyone the right to take action against an individual that doesn’t wear the hijab,” Kadivar is quoted as saying by the opposition Jaras website.
Kiani sees Kadivar’s participation as a positive development.
“It’s natural for seculars to oppose the Islamic hijab because it is a religious issue. It is important that a cleric like Kadivar, who used to be one of the supporters of this regime, is today publicly opposing the mandatory hijab,” Kiani said.
“For this campaign it is an honor to have been able to create a [movement] in which Kadivar, along with, for example, the [popular Iranian singer] Sattar, says no to compulsory hijab.”
Not all opponents of the hijab are supporting the campaign. Posts on social media sites by activists reflect a distrust of the campaign organizers. There is some distrust of “liberal university students and graduates” who, in the past, have expressed support for tough Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which some fear could eventually result in military strikes against Iran.
One woman in Tehran who did not want to be named said that despite her strong opposition to the hijab, she was not planning to join the campaign.
“What’s the use of it?” she wrote. “It is not going to change the pressure we’re facing to cover up. I think our defiance is stronger than an online move. [Morality police] detain us, harass us, but we keep coming to the streets with makeup and small, colorful scarves.”
It’s true that in recent months, Iranian activists have launched a number of social media campaigns that burned brightly at first, but were quickly forgotten or fell inactive — including the “Iran Loves Israel” campaign and the “One Million Likes for [opposition leader] Mir Hossein Musavi,” which garnered only about 3,500.
Kiani said he and his colleagues are determined that the “No Hijab” campaign won’t meet the same fate.
THERE YOU GO WHITE FEMINISTS.
THIS IS HOW MUSLIM WOMEN FIGHT BACK.
THEY ACTUALLY DO FIGHT BACK YOU KNOW.
Since the “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala emerged as the main corridor for US-bound drugs, it has become one of the deadliest places in the world to be a woman, and the killings show little sign of abating.
In the first six months of this year seventeen clandestine graves were discovered in El Salvador, containing 48 bodies, 70 percent of whom were females, according to the Attorney General’s Office (FGR). All were aged under 25, and 90 percent are thought to have had links to criminal gangs, reported La Prensa Grafica.
The alarmingly high proportion of women among the victims in Salvadoran mass graves serves as a reminder of the high prevalence of “femicide” — gender-based killings of women, often marked by their extreme brutality — in the Northern Triangle.
The region has seen a huge rise in murders of women in the last decade (see graph, below). El Salvador currently has the worst femicide rate in the world with 13.9 per 100,000 women while Guatemala (third in the world) and Honduras (seventh) have rates of 9.8 and 7.2 respectively.
Last week Honduras released figures showing at least 150 women were killed in the first half of 2012, with police telling El Heraldo that many of the killings were linked to drug trafficking. In Guatemala, meanwhile, the national forensic institute (INACIF) revealed that 337 women were murdered in the first half of 2012. Though this represents an 11.5 percent drop from the same period in 2011, Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.
Red shoes display protests violence against women in Mexico
July 27, 2012
Mexican visual artist Elina Chauvet placed red shoes in front of the Mexican consulate today in El Paso as an artistic protest against violence against women in Juárez.
More than 200 shoes - from toddler boots to high heels - covered the sidewalk on the west end of the building, where people had lined up to conduct transactions at the consulate.
The ‘Zapatos Rojos’ (Red Shoes) art collective is a call to stand in solidarity with the escalating violence against women in Juárez,” said Chauvet, as she continued to place shoes on the ground. “This display is intended to give visibility to an issue that is no longer receiving the attention it merits. It’s also a way for anyone in the public to participate.”
Mexican officials said about 700 girls and women have been murdered in Juárez since 1993, with the numbers increasing since the drug cartel wars intensified four years ago. An uncertain number are missing.
Saudi Arabia has announced that it is to allow female citizens to take part in the Olympic Games this summer for the first time in the country’s history.
The Bold Pursuits of Saudi Women Activists (artwork by Saffaa)
Saudi Arabia is seeing a significant rise in the number of female activists who are vigorously working on changing laws that contribute to the marginalization of women. Samar Badawi and Manal Al-Sharif are two of the women whose names have been circulating in the Western media for their brave attempts in challenging Saudi law. On March 8th, 2012, the U.S. Department of State awarded Badawi an “International Women of Courage Award” for being the first Saudi female to file suit against the Saudi government and win. Subsequently Manal Al-Sharif made Time Magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” for inspiring a movement that encourages women to drive.
While Badawi and Al-Sharif are seen as heroes in the United States, their international recognition has ironically caused their efforts to be dismissed and devalued in Saudi Arabia because of their U.S. connections. In this body of work, my aim as a Saudi artist is to acknowledge the efforts and bravery of the many female activists in Saudi, while simultaneously highlighting the limitations present in the dialogue taking place between the East and the West.
Poster of RAWA founder, Meena.
Meena Keshwar Kamal commonly known as Meena, (1956-1987) was an Afghan feminist and activist on behalf of women’s rights. She founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) in 1977, a group organized to promote equality and education for women.
Women in Tahrir protest against street harassment, as reports of sexual assault during demonstrations rise. This Tuesday a woman was mobbed and assaulted by hundreds of men, fortunately rescued by other protesters who chased the men away. On Wednesday, activists met in Tahrir to discuss how to address the serious problem.
The suspicion is that these assaults being carried out on women are organized assaults coordinated by the revolutionaries’ enemies. During the Friday demonstration, journalist Nadia Abul Magd reports that she saw waves of men beset the protesters, both attacking them with rocks and harassing the women. ““Every few minutes there was a wave. It was definitely a coordinated attack,” she said. She believes the attacks are intended to both undermine the image of the protesters and drive women away from activism and demonstrations.
The protesting women explain that they believe their civil rights ought to come with the revolution and protest for them despite the threat of thugs and the disapproval of a few other protesters. A number of them went on a popular Egyptian talk show on Friday night to discuss their experiences.
Picture 1: The first sign being held by a banker named Marwa Salah, reads “I have the right to demonstrate in safety.” Picture 2: The foremost sign, held by engineer Lubna Ezzat, reads “The people want the hand of molestation cut.” (The people want to cut off the power of molestation/assault). Credit: Mohamed Muslemany.