Annabelle River's picture

The Bureaucracy of "Holy Matrimony"

About six weeks after my wedding, I'm finally getting around to legally changing my name.  Which is a highly personal and arguably an eccentric choice for me to make as a polyamorous feminist. I've heard all the arguments for keeping one's maiden name, and I confess that I have no rational argument against them.  My husband and I are still separate individuals. ...But for a few weeks after the wedding, every time I said, heard, or signed my name with my husband's last name, I did get a kick of girlish glee. It's a cool name.  And now that the novelty is wearing off of it, my maiden name has started sounding increasingly strange to me.

arvan's picture

Girl gets a year in jail, 100 lashes for adultery

JEDDAH – A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.

The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed.

According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother’s last name.

arvan's picture

Ban on Abortion Prevails in Philippines

By Stephen de Tarczynski

MANILA, Sep 30 (IPS) - Sitting in an apartment in central Manila, 70-year-old Lydia (her second name has been withheld to protect her identity) speaks in hushed tones. A manghihilot, or traditional midwife, she is wary when talking about her experiences of abortion, an often-taboo subject in the Philippines.

While Lydia, speaking through a translator, insists that for more than 50 years she has merely been "a local midwife who helps women give birth", she also reveals several instances in which she assisted in the termination of pregnancies.

In the most recent of these, a woman seeking abortion arrived at Lydia’s doorstep in August. Initially turned away, the woman returned three days later, this time bleeding from her vagina.

According to Lydia, the woman told her that she had received an injection and taken cytotec in order to abort her pregnancy. Cytotec is the trade name of misoprostol, a drug whose uses include the treatment of gastric ulcers but which is commonly used for self-administered abortions in the Philippines.

arvan's picture

Move to take domestic violence cases out of religious courts in Lebanon

BEIRUT, 23 September 2009 (IRIN) - As lawmakers struggle to form a government three months after Lebanon's parliamentary elections, women's rights activists await the opening of parliament to debate a new bill on domestic violence.

Ghida Anani, programme coordinator of KAFA, a Lebanese organization campaigning against violence and the exploitation of women, estimates that as many as three-quarters of all Lebanese women have suffered physical abuse at the hands of husbands or male relatives at some point in their lives.

In Lebanon's multi-confessional democratic system, cases of domestic violence are ruled on in one the country's 15 religious courts, or family courts, whose laws date back to the Ottoman era and which campaigners say almost always favour men over women.

The new bill proposes to take domestic violence out of the religious courts and into the civil system and will cut across confessional lines, giving both Muslim and Christian women equal rights under the law, and, say campaigners, will be a key step towards equality between men and women.

"The family courts don't treat men and women equally," said Nadya Khalife, a researcher on women's rights in the Middle East and North Africa at NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The law is a step in the right direction, but we still have far to go before we have equality in Lebanon."

Annabelle River's picture

Latest story: Mike Duvall's Family Values

By now on the blogosphere, Mike Duvall is becoming old news. But to re-cap for anyone who missed it, California state assemblyman Duvall is the most recent "family values" man to get caught on tape at a session of the legislature bragging about his kinky affairs with two different women - including at least one energy lobbyist.

It makes a good news story because it's explicitly sexy; it gives media sources like CBS an excuse to print: "She wears little eye-patch underwear, so I can see her eye patches. So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And so, we had made love Wednesday, a lot. And so she'll she's all, I am going up and down the stairs and you're dripping out of me." But while the country gets off on voyeurism of one California assemblyman, what's legitimately disgusting about him is his voting record. Even now, after the scandal, you can read on his dispatch to constituents: "As a supporter of Prop 8, I will be among the state legislators committed to defending California voters' definition of marriage." He has 100% approval ratings from the California Republican Assembly - whose website touts on the "What We Believe" page: " We believe that the traditional American family, defined as any persons related by blood, marriage of a man and a woman and/or adoption, is the cornerstone of our American society, and the government is duty bound to protect the integrity of the family unit through legislation and taxation policies," and from the Capitol Resource Institute - which issues official statements like, "All students should be safe at school, but promoting safety and promoting multisexuality are not actually the same thing." (Maybe no one has ever told them about the prevalence of peer violence against gay and transgendered teens. But I doubt it.)


ChrisMacDen's picture

The Separation of Church & State as an LGBT Issue

I have been sitting here for days, thinking about the state of queer rights in this country.

Christina Engela's picture

Identity Crisis

I read in the papers last Friday that an advocate - Zahir Omar - had publicly criticized a Judge solely on the basis of her sexuality. The title of the article was particularly amusing - "Lesbian judge lashed". This sounds very kinky. Can I join in?

Less amusing however, was the evident antagonism displayed by Omar, who seems to think a Judge unworthy of holding the position in the Constitutional Court simply because of who she loves. Omar is reported to have told the JSC: "Learned Judge Satchwell's unconventional lifestyle is not something that the majority of South Africans can relate to. The majority of South Africans are God-fearing and follow some or other religion. There is no religion that condones homosexuality. Therefore the major portion of the South African people will not be able to identify with the learned judge."

I wonder, who exactly is left in the world today that these "God-fearing South Africans" Mr Omar talks about can identify with?
arvan's picture

Film review: Equality U (2008)

Recently, I attended a screening of Equality U (2008) at The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as part of the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  This presentation's guest moderator was David Milhalfy.  He is a Ph.D. student at Univ. of Chicago Divnity School.  Assisting as always, was Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator for the Hull House Museum itself.

Equality U documents a group of 33 young activists traveling to Christian Universities that have a policy of denying access to gay students.  Most if not all these activists are themselves Christian in some fashion. 

I care very much for the ability for anyone and everyone to be able to choose their own sex, gender and body definitions and identity.  I think it is awful that students find themselves in these universities hiding, lying and living in fear.  One statistic mentioned that BYU has the highest gay student suicide rate.  I think that treating people like that - the gang intimidation and bullying that comes from the student body and faculty being directed at these isolated and vulnerable students (who happen to be paying their tuition) - is an awful, awful thing.

And, so is this movie...but for different reasons. 

arvan's picture

BAHRAIN: Seeking Gender Equality in Quran

By Suad Hamada

MANAMA, Aug 25 (IPS) For the first time, feminists in Bahrain are seeking new Islamic perspectives on gender and women's empowerment, and asking for modern interpretations of the Quran.

Through a series of four workshops, launched in May, the Bahrain Women Association for Development intends to engage the public in serious debate over the "true meaning" of Quranic verses that are used to assert male supremacy.

"We aren’t against Islam and don’t want to promote our perspective," explains Asma Rajab, an activist and member of its board of directors. "We want to make our society consider women as complete humans."

With the advances made by Muslim women in many countries including Bahrain, it is time to reinterpret the Quranic verses, she adds. "Islam is a renewable religion that fits all situations and periods, so its regulations should be re-interpreted to meet the advancements of Muslim women," she says.

sundanceroc's picture

Secret Sins

 Except for the birthday cards I received each year from both sets of grandparents, with a crisp one-dollar bill inside, Nov

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