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AIDS activists dare to go bare

MANILA, 1 December 2009 (PlusNews) - On 1 December, World AIDS Day, activists in the Philippines will be wearing nothing but the red AIDS ribbon in a campaign to raise awareness about the growing threat of HIV.

Some of the activists are HIV-positive, but they all hope the daring photographs will serve as a wake-up call while HIV prevalence in their country is still below one percent. UNAIDS estimated that 8,300 people were living with the virus in 2008, but the population is almost 90 million.

The "Dare to Bare Campaign" will be featured in a leading national daily newspaper and several online magazines until 5 December 2009. Every picture is accompanied by a personal story, because either that individual or someone they care about is living with the virus.

Shame and silence

Carlos Celdran, a performing artist and one of the "models" in the campaign, told IRIN/PlusNews that his youth was marked by living a carefree life in New York. "We may have been a bit promiscuous back then, but we were careful and always used condoms. Now, there is a whole new generation of young people who no longer see HIV/AIDS as a death sentence, and are more reckless."

According to the National AIDS Registry of the Department of Health, HIV cases among young people have been increasing at an unprecedented rate: newly reported cases in the 15-24 age group tripled from 41 in 2007 to 110 in 2008.

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Life's a drag act for the TV presenter challenging homophobia in Pakistan

(via The Independent)

Arifa Akbar meets the unlikely celebrity forcing an intolerant society to confront its prejudices

A finely groomed woman in a sparkling turquoise sari sashays through the doors of Asia House to rapturous applause. Her sari twinkles under the glare of TV cameras and a queenly smile breaks through heavy face-powder. She bows to the audience of British Asians and Pakistani embassy dignitaries, then looks Wajid Shamsul Hassan, the high commissioner, squarely in the eye. "I'm so sorry I'm late, my dears, but this," she says, casting her hand over her face and outfit, "took two hours. The pressures of being a woman: men expect so much from us."

Some of the audience titters. This impeccably dressed guest, was introduced as Begum Nawazish Ali, the stately widow of an army colonel, and he is Pakistani's first television transvestite. Begum, otherwise known as Ali Saleem, is a 30-year-old television presenter who has made a name for himself as Pakistan's first open bisexual, a highly transgressive act in a country where overt homosexuality is banned under sharia law. 

His show has become a flagship series for Aaj channel, and he has gained an unlikely fan-club of Pakistani politicians, film stars and army dignitaries in Pakistan who tune in or turn up as guests to his Dame Edna Everage-style chat show every week.

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The Heart of Polyamory: Not Half the Parent You Used to Be

By Millie Jackson

A common argument against polyamory is that it is not a healthy life-style for the children involved. I have never found this argument to hold up. Although I do not have children, I have been involved with people who do. What I have witnessed are very content children getting a lot of positive attention. They are being raised in a diverse and accepting environment while witnessing communication, negotiation, and a team mentality. Often times, they are completely unaware that their “extended family” includes partners of their mommy and/or daddy.

The same guidelines of what is appropriate in regards to what children see and hear about sex are basically the same whether parents are monogamous or polyamorous. How parents portray sex and relationships to their children and how they approach conversations about sex varies greatly from one parenting style to the next. A room full of parents who are proclaimed monogamists will disagree, perhaps passionately, on when and how to approach these topics with children. There will, similarly, be a variety of approaches among polyamorous parents too. Keep in mind that there are not wild orgies happening in front of the children. Nobody should be having sex in front of children regardless of the family dynamics.

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A First Timer's Guide to Playing with Trans Guys

eros: the center for safe sex published this.  I found it over at Trannywood Pictures recently and think so much of it that I am posting it here in its entirety.  It's a written for participants in public sex gatherings, but really it applies to anyone.  You can download the .pdf original here.  They also have a guide to safe sex here

By Niko Kowell

So, why a first timer's guide to playing with trans guys?

In San Francisco, and many other places around the world, more and more transguys are coming out as gay men.  Since transguys are now a much bigger part of the gay male community, we thought it was time to sketch out a bit more of a road map.  We developed this guide in a gay safer-sex club setting that is trans-inclusive in its employment, policy and environment.  In an effort to make the guide accurate and comprehensive, it was developed by transmasculine people and reviewed by those in the gay community, both trans and non-trans.


Transmasculine folks come in all different packages.  We are incredibly diverse.  We are femme, butch, faggy, masculine, straight and queer.  We all fuck differently; some of us are tops, others bottoms or switches.  It's important to note that you can't always tell transmasculine folks apart from non-trans men just by looking.  Don't assume that someone is or isn't trans or non-trans.  Sleeping with a transguy is different but only because everyone is different.  It still requires communication about sex and boundaries.  Our hope here is to give you some insight on some of the specific concerns of the transmasculine community.  Please be aware that because we are all different, so are our concerns.  When in doubt ask, but do it respectfully.

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Women Should Be More Than Window Dressing

Jedi Ramalapa interviews Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 (IPS) - Women in developing countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of crisis - be that climate change, food price hikes, the HIV/AIDS pandemic or the global recession. It is becoming more commonplace to hear women's testimony, but are women's voices heard when it comes to deciding on solutions?

IPS spoke to Ingrid Srinath, chief executive officer and secretary general of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, about women's exclusion from decision-making in global forums. Excerpts of the interview follow.

IPS: How do you think the issue of women and climate change has been dealt with so far?

INGRID SRINATH: I think with most of the global issues we're dealing with, whether it's climate or financial reform or any of those global issues, women continue to be under-represented.

In the climate debate, this is partly structural. I think civil society per se is largely marginal and within civil society at some level women continue to be marginalised.

Especially when the debate gets technical, there is an attempt with some of these global issues to make the focus of the debate the economic impact, and restrict it to (questions of) where is the money is going come from to fund mitigation and adaptation, rather than take a holistic view of the impact of any of these crises.

And as soon as that happens, there is a tendency for this to become more Northern, more male, more technical, and then marginalise women even further.

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[Survey] Sexism as Experienced by Transgender Individuals

Here is a survey being conducted to measure sexism from a trans perspective.  The link is at the bottom and some information about the staff and the survey should indicate if this is something that you can add to. -a

Hello, my name is Caitlyn Benoit, and I’m a member of a research team out of the Psychology Department at Southwestern Illinois College, an accredited school in the St. Louis Metro East area.  Our research group is conducting a study about sexism as experienced and viewed by transgender individuals.

The best way to address what we hope to learn from this study is by starting with what we’re not trying to accomplish.  We are not trying to document the transgender experience; we are specifically studying sexism.  We believe that transsexual individuals – having experienced life as both genders – can offer valuable insight as to how members of each sex are perceived and treated in the workplace, relationships, schools, and other areas.

This study is being headed by Dr. Barbara Hunter, a psychology professor and active ally to the LGBT community.  All student members of the research team are psychology students and either allies to or members of the LGBT community.

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New IOM publication addresses violence, women migrant workers

 Working to Prevent and Address Violence Against Women Migrant Workers

Almost half of the total number of migrant workers in the world today are women.  It is important to acknowledge that labour migration may benefit them through economic and socio-cultural empowerment, however, due to their dual vulnerability as migrants and women, they are still disproportionately exposed to a variety of risks arising from their mobility.  At every stage of their migratory experience, women migrant workers may be more exposed to human rights violations such as discrimination, exploitation and abuse compared to their male counterparts.

This publication presents the approach IOM takes toward the protection and empowerment of women migrant workers.  By displaying key IOM activities in that area, the report seeks to better inform policy makers, practitioners and the public of the vulnerability of these women and of good practices for the protection of their human rights throughout the labour migration cycle.

IOM actively contributes to protecting women migrant workers from violence by implementing a range of activities in the following areas:

Promotion of legal and safe migration for women migrant workers
Promotion of policies that regulate the recruitment and deployment of women migrant workers
Promotion and protection of women migrant workers’ human rights
Counter-trafficking activities including capacity building and direct assistance to victims
Research and data collection on women and international labour migration
Promotion of gender-sensitive international migration policies
Fostering interstate dialogue and enhancing bilateral, regional, interregional and international cooperation

Download the publication in .pdf format here or go here to order printed copies.

International Organization for Migration

17 route des Morillons
1211 Geneva 19
Tel: +41.22.717 91 11
Fax: +41.22.798 61 50

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Women weighed down by culture in Kenya

GARISSA, 16 November 2009 (IRIN) - Armed with a university certificate, Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji returned to her pastoralist community in Garissa, northeastern Kenya, expecting to serve as a veterinary health assistant.

But she was refused the job. "When I came back to Garissa [Northeastern Province capital], I was told you [a woman] cannot treat our animals because you menstruate - it will make our cows perish," she told IRIN.

Al-Haji and a colleague then started a local NGO, WOMANKIND Kenya (WOKIKE) to provide leadership training to women. They also set up a sanctuary for girls at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

"Girls are often seen as an object for the pleasure of men," Al-Haji said. In her community, FGM is a highly valued ritual, marking the transition from childhood to womanhood.

At present, the centre is supporting 120 girls aged around six years old because they are at risk of FGM/C from age eight. The girls, most of whom have escaped FGM/C, are enrolled on the recommendation of the government children's department and the community.

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Fat Studies Reader Book Signing & Reading

Friday, December 4, 2009
8:00pm - 11:00pm
Re/Dress NYC
109 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY

Published by NYU Press, The Fat Studies Reader is a milestone achievement, bringing together fifty-three diverse voices to explore a wide range of topics related to body weight. From the historical construction of fatness to public health policy, from job discrimination to social class disparities, from chick-lit to airline seats, this collection covers it all.

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Disabled should claim rights in UN convention

NAIROBI, 12 November 2009 (PlusNews) - The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) should be used as a tool to improve access to HIV services for disabled people, who are often marginalized in national HIV policies, says a new report.

"PWDs experience all the risk factors associated with HIV, and are often at increased risk because of poverty, severely limited access to education and health care, lack of information and resources to facilitate 'safer sex', lack of legal protection, increased risk of violence and rape, vulnerability to substance abuse, and stigma," the authors noted in HIV/AIDS and Disability: Final Report of the 4th International Policy Dialogue.

HIV/AIDS was implicitly included in the CRPD under article 25a, where "State Parties shall provide PWDs with the same range, quality and standard of free, affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes," the authors noted.

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