justice

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - Vigil & Speak Out

Friday, December 17 · 7:30pm - 9:30pm

Metropolitan Community Church of New York

446 West 36th Street,

Second Floor Sanctuary

New York, NY

This event is free and open to the public.

Map: http://bit.ly/dUenDt

Join us in remembering those we've lost to violence, oppression and hate, whether perpetrated by clients, partners, police or the state.

We stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world. Recently in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the United States during their Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay's recommendation to the Obama Administration – to address “the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses” - is the moral leadership we have been waiting for!

Join us in solidarity to fight the criminalization, oppression, assault, rape and murder of sex workers – and of folks perceived as sex workers.

December 17, 2003 was our first annual day to honor the sex workers who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. In Ridgway's own words, "I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught." (BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3245301.stm)

We come together each year to show the world that the lives of marginalized people, including those of sex workers, are valuable.

SPEAKERS

* Audacia Ray, Red Umbrella Project & Sex Work Awareness

* Chelsea Johnson-Long, Safe OUTside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project

* Michael J. Miller, The Counterpublic Collective and PROS Network

* Andrea Ritchie, Peter Cicchino Youth Project and Streetwise & Safe (SAS)

READINGS

* Reading of the names of sex workers we have lost this past year

* Memorial for Catherine Lique by her daughter Stephanie Thompson and read by Sarah Jenny Bleviss

* Speak out: Bring poetry, writings or just speak your truth.

Light snacks, beverages, and metrocards will be provided.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers' Rights and is increasingly used on December 17: "First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide."

This event is co-sponsored by: Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, MADRE, Peter Cicchino Youth Project, PONY (Prostitutes of New York), The Queer Commons, Red Umbrella Project, SAFER, Sex Work Awareness, Sex Workers Project, SWANK (Sex Workers Action New yorK), SWOP-NYC (Sex Workers Outreach Project), the Space at Tompkins, and Third Wave Foundation.

Babeland is also sponsoring our event and wants folks to know that they offer 10% off for Sex Workers always - ask for the "Professional Discount."

For more information, visit: http://www.swop-nyc.org/

For events outside of New York, visit: http://www.swop-usa.org/dec17

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Simone de Beauvoir Institute - A Feminist Position On Sex Work

(h/t Cybersolidaires)

Simone de Beauvoir Institute’s Statement:

A Feminist Position on Sex Work

The Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University supports the recent decision by Ontario Superior Court judge Susan Himel with regards to Canada’s prostitution laws.

We support this decision as feminists, and in particular as feminists who have taken a position of leadership with regards to sexuality.  The Simone de Beauvoir Institute is the oldest women’s studies program in Canada, established in 1978.  We were the first Canadian university women’s studies to offer a course on lesbian studies (1985), we helped organize La Ville en Rose, an international conference on lesbian and gay studies held in 1992, and were active in the implementation of the first undergraduate course on HIV/AIDS at any Canadian university (1994). Since 2006, we offer an elective course entitled “Framing the prostitute,” which considers the ways in which debates about prostitution are constructed – within feminist, policy, and activist sites.

For more than three decades, then, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute has provided leadership with regards to questions of sexuality. Our position in support of the Himel decision continues a long tradition of deep reflection and action with regards to sexuality.

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Gov’t Hems and Haws Over ‘Honour Killings’

By Sujoy Dhar

NEW DELHI, Sep 9, 2010 (IPS) - Instances of ‘honour killings’ in Indian communities still steeped in traditional beliefs continue unabated. Yet the government has not enacted tougher laws that will deal a decisive blow against this societal scourge.

For bringing dishonour to the family, couples defying time-honoured traditions in many orthodox Indian villages must flee for their lives lest they become victims of ‘honour killing’ committed by kin or members of their own caste.

Some of the couples on the run were either caught unawares or hounded out and killed by their families who were determined to restore honour to the clan.

"Young couples live in fear. They are often driven to suicide, if not killed," Nishi Kant, who runs Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organisation researching honour killings in India, told IPS.

Marrying outside one’s caste or within one’s lineage (‘gotra’), or outside one’s religion is still tabooed by many Indian families, who believe such "aberrant behaviours" deserve the most brutal punishment, often in the form of death.

Over the past months, horrific reports of honour killings have been pouring in. About 45 people have died as a result of such killings in the past 19 months, according to Shakti Vahini. Despite the spike in honour killings, the state remains a mute spectator, said Kant.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance has condemned the killings but has not acted decisively on the sensitive issue, fearing a dent in its traditional vote banks.

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U.N. Weighs Sanctions Against Perpetrators of DRC Mass Rapes

By Aprille Muscara

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 8, 2010 (IPS) - The U.N. Security Council is considering leveraging sanctions against the perpetrators of the mass rapes that occurred last month in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a meeting held on the recent violence Tuesday.

"From the U.S. point of view, we will take up the mantle of leadership… in ensuring that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable, including through our efforts in the sanctions committee – to add them to the list that exists and to ensure that they are sanctioned," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after the meeting.

Over 500 rapes have now been confirmed in the North and South Kivu provinces since Jul. 30, with scores more unconfirmed and still others certainly unreported, according to the deputy head of the U.N. peacekeeping department, Atul Khare, who briefed the council during the meeting. Khare was dispatched to the DRC after reports of the recent violence in the country surfaced in the media two weeks ago.

Members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, known by their French acronym FDLR, and the Mai Mai Cheka rebel groups systematically gang raped over 242 women during a four-day raid of 13 villages in the North Kivu province beginning Jul. 30. According to MONUSCO, the U.N.'s peacekeeping force in the DRC, they are believed to have continued their pillaging spree after 75 subsequent rapes were confirmed in neighbouring areas.

And in South Kivu, over 214 rapes of men, women and children as young as seven years old have been confirmed, with reports of the systematic rape of every woman in the village of Kiluma yet to be corroborated, Khare said. Included in this figure are 10 rapes committed by the official Congolese armed forces, known as the FARDC.

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“In Your Face And In The Trenches”: Southern Trans People Speak Out

Southerners On New Ground REPORT
250 Georgia Ave. Suite 201
Atlanta, GA 30317
Phone: 404.549.8628
Fax: 404.549.8642
www.southernersonnewground.org

Trans People Speak Out

Welcome to SONG’s report on our Southern Trans people’s Survey/People’s Movement Assembly. In concert with the US Social Forum, SONG set out to listen more deeply to our Trans base, membership and Trans Southerners living outside of the South. Listening campaigns have always been a core part of SONG’s strategy: prioritizing listening to marginalized and oppressed communities to honor them with hearing and dignity; analyze conditions; find patterns; and take action based on that information. (For more information on SONG and who we are, visit: www.southernersonnewground.org).

SONG was founded by Black and White Lesbians in 1993, and has worked (over its political evolution) on centering voices that have been marginalized; and that has meant taking concrete steps to not only include “Trans voices” but also create real processes that build power, leadership and self-determination for Trans people and gender non-conforming people in SONG. This work is one of our steps in that direction. It is a summary of stories and information, and it was anonymous. However, in the interest of giving the reader a direct relationship to the true voices of the people who shared with us, we include anonymous quotes throughout, wherever possible.

Who Answered the Survey

This survey was answered by 127 people who identified in the largest numbers as Transwomen, Transmen, and Gender Queer, as well as Two Spirit, Cross dresser, passable, Autogynephile, Non-op Transsexual, Women, and Men. The survey asked for information from Trans and Gender Non-conforming people who lived or have lived in the South.

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LGBT Centre of Mongolia's New Documentary

 

The Lies of Liberty (2010) is a new documentary, produced by the LGBT Centre of Mongolia.  It is a powerful series of interview with LGBTQ folks in Mongolia, telling in their own words, how they are treated. 

Part One:

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Beaverton Police Officer Caught Sexually Abusing Prostitutes

Emily Smith of the Oregonian writes of Beaverton, Oregon police officer, Joshua Jensen, who was convicted of two counts of prostitution, coercion, and two counts of official misconduct.  He was sentenced to 30 months in jail - a sentence I feel is not long enough.  As the comments on this story clearly show, there are those who think that people that sell sex are less than human; not worthy of respect; incapable of being victims.  I could not disagree with that line of thinking more, and this story embodies exactly why.

"When he first took me back behind the Dumpster ... my hands were shaking," one of the victims told The Oregonian Wednesday.

"I was scared – his whole demeanor was very intimidating," she said. "I really didn't know what to expect or what would happen."

In the first incident, Jensen told the woman what she was doing as a prostitute was wrong. Then he asked for oral sex. She asked if she had to, and he said she didn't. Afterward, he paid her $40.

But with the second woman, Jensen asked her why he shouldn't arrest her. She replied that she wouldn't do it anymore.

He said, "Well, if there's something I want out of it," then unzipped his pants, reports show.

The woman told investigators and The Oregonian that Jensen then "grabbed me by the back of the head and forced my head down, and I really didn't have a choice."

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Petition: Improvement of trans people's rights in the Quebec province

(h/t CyberSolidaires)

Down with STERILE civil status rules!
Trans people demand their citizenship

Today in Québec, trans-identified, or trans, people do not enjoy the same civil status rights as other citizens. Trans people are subjected to long, complex, restrictive, and not universally accessible regulations. Their right to equality and physical integrity is not respected, since they must undergo compulsory sterilization in order to obtain the right to have their designation of sex legally changed in civil status documents.

Moreover, because of these situations, many trans people are forced to wait long periods of time with official identity papers (civil status documents) that do not reflect their actual identity. This can lead to endless discrimination when looking for work or housing, seeking health care, opening a bank account, etc.

Some examples of the consequences these regulations have:

• Trans people who want to change the designation of sex on their birth certificate are required to undergo “medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural modification of sexual organs intended to change [their] sexual characteristics” – in other words, sterilization. Even though the Director of Civil Status does not explicitly require trans people to be sterile in order to change their designation of sex, these conditions necessarily involve forced sterilization of trans people.

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Introduction to the Yogyakarta Principles

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. Sexual orientation [1] and gender identity [2] are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.
 
Many advances have been made toward ensuring that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live with the equal dignity and respect to which all persons are entitled. Many States now have laws and constitutions that guarantee the rights of equality and non-discrimination without distinction on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
 
Nevertheless, human rights violations targeted toward persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity constitute a global and entrenched pattern of serious concern. They include extra-judicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, sexual assault and rape, invasions of privacy, arbitrary detention, denial of employment and education opportunities, and serious discrimination in relation to the enjoyment of other human rights. These violations are often compounded by experiences of other forms of violence, hatred, discrimination and exclusion, such as those based on race, age, religion, disability, or economic, social or other status.

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Are Namibian Women Being Forcibly Sterilised?*

By Servaas van den Bosch

REHOBOTH, Namibia, Jun 1, 2010 (IPS)- A landmark court case, alleging that HIV-positive women were forcibly sterilised in Namibian state hospitals begins in Windhoek's High Court on Jun. 1. Human rights groups claim the practice has continued long after the authorities were notified.

The Windhoek-based Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) is litigating 15 alleged cases of forced sterilisation. Three women's cases will be heard initially. Each woman is demanding the equivalent of 132,000 U.S dollars in damages.

The sterilisations were first uncovered by the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW).

"The first cases emerged during community meetings in early 2008. In the months that followed we interviewed 230 women, 40 of whom were sterilised against their will," says the ICW's Veronica Kalambi.

"In August 2008 we formally alerted the ministry during a meeting with the deputy Minister."

Although the State will argue that consent forms were signed in all three cases, the women’s lawyers maintain the process necessary for "informed consent" was not followed and the women were coerced, or did not understand the procedure.

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