rights

arvan's picture

Pat Condell: Human Rights Travesty

Pat's on fire again.  This time he goes after the UN and how it allows flagrant brutalizers of women to have a say in their policies toward the betterment of women.

arvan's picture

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Twelfth Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

November 20, 2010

I really don't look forward to this day at all. 

I dread the emotional impact of realizing the toll in human lives that sexism and misogyny take out as measured in human lives. 

I don't want to think about people being killed because of their identity.

I cannot stand thinking about the lies, gloating, pride, vanity, bullying, cruelty and inhumanity behind each death blow.

I am angered by the willingess of juries and judges to allow murderers to go free because of "trans panic" or some other abominable story about why killing someone is acceptable because of the murderers ignorant, hate-filled judgments.

I feel helpless against the millions of deaf ears and thoughtless insults that it takes to bring about the change in law, religion, culture and family that is needed for human beings to be accepted as the gender they know themselves to be.

But, I am alive and I have the chance to help end all of this that I abhor and dread.  So, I do not forget and I do not remain silent, because silence is murder. 

So, I remember and I speak out and I ask that you do the same.

-arvan

arvan's picture

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.

arvan's picture

Islamic Legal Tradition and Feminism: Opening a New Dialogue

Author: Ziba Mir-Hosseini (via SKSW)

Publication Date: October, 2010

(This paper was presented at the IV International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Madrid, 21-24 October 2010)

I am delighted to be here, and I would like to thank the organizers, in particular Abdennur Prado, for inviting me to the Fourth Congress on Islamic Feminism. I am sorry that my co-panelist compatriot, Ms Fariba Alasvand, whose scholarship and writings I have been following from afar for some time, was not able to be here. I am grateful to Mr Joaquin Rodriguez for presenting her paper.

The term ‘Islamic Feminism’ gained currency in the 1990s as a label for a brand of feminist scholarship and activism that was associated with Islam and Muslims. I was among the first scholars to use the term to speak of a new gender consciousness that emerged in Iran in the early 1990s, a decade after the 1979 popular revolution that led to a merger of religious and political power in the country. There has since been much discussion and debate and a growing literature on ‘Islamic feminism’, to which I have contributed. Inevitably, there are diverging accounts of the nature of this phenomenon, and of its origins and development.[1] Here I want to revisit this term and offer some reflections on the heavy political baggage that comes with it—as well as with its component elements: ‘Islamic’ and ‘feminism’.

I have two objectives. First, I want to set the record straight and to explain the context in which I have used the term myself, and the kind of feminism that is involved. I shall reflect on the term in the light of developments in the intervening years, culminating in two events in 2009 that, I believe, show how far the debate has moved on, both globally and locally, namely, first, the launch of Musawah, a ‘Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family’, and secondly, the emergence of the Green Movement in Iran. Musawah, launched in Kuala Lumpur in February 2009, brings Islamic and human rights frameworks together to build an overlapping consensus among Muslim women from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and to push for legal reform.[2] The Green Movement in Iran started in June last year as a protest against a fraudulent presidential election, but it soon became a broader civil rights movement in which Iranian women have been the most prominent actors.[3]

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Feminist Responses towards Fundamentalisms and Neo-liberal Economy

This is the final installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-Bangladesh.  

Last Episode

Discussion and Conclusion

Asian feminists’ problems are somehow different from that of western societies. The nature of their problem may be understood from an advertisement that Othman (2006) mentioned in the context of Malaysia. An advertisement (in Malay) on all local TV stations in 2003 portrayed a veiled beautiful Muslim Malay woman who in order to ‘please her husband’ groomed her hair with the shampoo being advertised. The advertisement never showed her unveiled head, only a frame of her husband supposedly admiring her beautiful recently shampooed hair! What could be a better metaphor than this advertisement to portray the combined attack of corporate capital and religious fundamentalism in one female body!

Throughout literature, the rise of religious fundamentalisms has been portrayed as the reaction to the failure of capitalist democracy. Mernissi (1989) argues that the spread of fundamentalism in the last two decades has stemmed from the political and social failures of the secular, authoritarian states of the post-colonial period, states that operate within the rules of the International Monetary Fund and the interests of the imperialist powers.  Again, feminism has been seen as the response to fundamentalism. Taking either side, i.e., fundamentalist side or corporate capital side, may prove to be fatal.

We need to consider that religious fundamentalisms are in rise in this region with help from rightist political parties in power who support unconditional foreign investment in most of the countries and women lack not only human capital but social capital too. Also their access to political power is limited though many countries of this region are headed by women with almost no impact on women’s life. This cast further insight that women’s participation in democratic process is important but more important is to understand what political agenda they are advocating for. A note of caution here is, almost all the renowned women leaders of this region are in politics by inheritance, either of their father’s or husband’s. They just carry out the patriarchal agenda set by the concerned political parties and do not want to loose their vote taking any pro-women action that might hostile the religious fundamentalism unless they have pressures from  foreign donor agencies.

arvan's picture

New Film from LGBTCentreMongolia: Tsenher tengeriin tsaana

Created as part of an exhibition at the Mongolian National Modern Art Museum, Behind The Blue Sky depicts an unmentionable love between two Mongolian boys - one from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, and the other, a nomadic herder from the countryside.

To protect the identities of the Mongolian actors, their faces are obscured by a khadag, a traditional blue scarf.

Created by Sean Devaney & Brandt Miller
.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Encagement of beauty and rise of two feminisms

This is the fifth installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Five

While on one hand this free market economy is prescribing national governments for cutting the provision of education, housing, healthcare and childcare that lessen the economic burden on women and assist their economic independence, on the other hand they are maximising their capital by exploiting women in entertainment and beauty industries.

Women’s Body Esteem is a big business worldwide. Billions of dollars are spent on the “weight loss industry” yearly. That industry is solely dependent on women’s self-hatred. Women are reduced to size, told to be less, told to shed big chunks of themselves for acceptance. Likewise, the “beauty industry” has convinced millions of women that chemical crap on their faces, and plucked eyebrows that are drawn back on, is “beauty.”

The modelling industry, as Ann Simonton (www.mediawatch.com), a former cover model for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Cosmo, Covergirl, etc., observed is promoting an unattainable standard of beauty for women.  In a quest for thinness, women starve themselves, vomit, have their stomach stapled, their jaws wired shut and fat sucked out. Not only are women told that they are too fat, but they are also told that everything else about their bodies needs improvement. Media images teach women that they need to inject collagen into their lips because they are too thin. They are told to inject botox into their faces to freeze nerve endings and iron out wrinkles. Their teeth are not white enough, nor are their skin, their eyes are not blue enough, their hair is not shiny or straight enough, nothing they do is ever enough. This trend is ever increasing.  Just for an example, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, 8.5 million U.S. cosmetic procedures were performed in 2001, increased by 48 percent since 2000. Growth is not confined to America, with cosmetic procedures in Asia estimated to be growing 20 percent a year. The German annual growth rate is 15 percent, according to the European Society of Plastic Surgeons, and in Britain there was a 30 percent rise just over 2000.

To sustain and increase this trend, an ideological warfare is always employed against women through mass media, not only in advertisements but also in drama, soap opera, film, magazine and of course in pornography to manufacture their consent. Virtually any mainstream magazine or television commercial shows women’s bodies being used not only to sell products like cosmetics and clothing, but also to sell products that bear no connection to women’s bodies, like cars, food and electronics. The images of women that are used to sell, well, virtually anything, are sexualized, commodified and objectified.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Exploitation wins in Fatwa and Neo-Liberalism

This is the fourth installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Four    

Another basic difference that the women under Islamic doctrine have to suffer from is though other religious fundamentalisms are rising worldwide, women may get the shelter of secular laws of respective countries, but the lives of Muslim women are guided primarily by religious laws. Islamic legal system regulating women-related issues, the family law (al-akhwal al-syakhsyiyyah), has remained static and immutable since its codification a thousand years ago. This same law has been used as a reference on issues like gender relations, polygamy, divorce, inheritance, women’s leadership role, etc. which, unsurprisingly, reaffirms the already patriarchal attitudes of these societies. 

However the most significant feature that has distinguished Muslim fundamentalism from others is as pointed out by Helie-Lucas (2005): “It is also a transnational political movement. This makes it different from most other religious rights that also use religion for political purposes but are more geographically located. ‘Religious’ demands made in Europe and North America to give visibility and specificity to ‘Muslims’ have all been done under the control of fundamentalists with an exclusive focus on the control of women. For an example, in France, Muslim fundamentalists demanded the end of co-educational schools, a different curriculum for girls in state schools that includes a banning of sports, music, graphic arts, biology (like Christian fundamentalists in the US, they refuse Darwinism and want creationism to be taught—at least to girls!), the ‘right to veil’ for girls under age.”

 Thus Islamic fundamentalism has a global character and imposes all Muslim women of the world to be conformed to that character. So if anybody even tries to leave her/his country to enjoy the privilege of secular law in the adopted country, the fear of death in names of ‘fatwa’ runs after them. Fatwa of persecution after Salman Rushdi, Taslima Nasrin, and Nawal el-Saadawi are only a few examples.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Women under Jewish and Islamic Fundamentalism

This is the third installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Three

There is a growing gap between secular and religious Jews in Israel, and there is a high degree of overlapping between positions on religion and the nation, observes Yuval-Davis (2004). In a very recent article O’Loughlin (2008) mentions that the Haredi sect has launched an aggressive campaign against the secular lifestyle of women in Jerusalem. Self-appointed moral guardians, dubbed the ’modesty police’ through Israel’s modern secular media, roaming through Jerusalem’s ultra-religious neighbourhoods, enforcing the voluminous and ever growing list of rabbinical laws such as the recent decree banning the sale of MP4 players.

Inside the Haredi neighbourhoods separation between the sexes is becoming increasingly strict. Husbands and wives socialise separately and during Jewish holidays men and women walk on opposite sides of the street. With the demographics skewed in their favour, government authorities are acquiescing to the growing demands of the ultra-orthodox. The transport ministry, has allowed operators to provide ’kosher’ or ’pure’ routes, where women are required to sit at the back and cannot board unless ‘appropriately’ dressed.

According to Menachem Friedman, a sociology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv (quoted in O’Loughlin (2008)), “They’ve built an imaginary idealistic world where everyone is pious.” Increasingly, Jewish women in Jerusalem are required to conform to that vision. Length of the skirt is increasingly being the test for the level and type of religiosity.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Women under Religious Fundamentalisms

This is the second installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Two

Fundamentalism has for long been associated with greater or lesser degrees of oppression of women. WAF felt that women were the main targets of fundamentalism. Its founding statement claimed that, “At the heart of the fundamentalists’ agenda is the control of women’s minds and bodies. [All] support the patriarchal family as a central agent of such control. They view women as embodying the morals and traditional values of the family and the whole community.” (WAF, 1990). Similar views were being developed in other places. For example, Hammami and Jad (1992:17-21), two Palestinian feminists, wrote, “The commonality between movements profoundly lies in their obsessive focus on the rights, rules and behaviour of women as pivotal to both their strategy of rule and as an aim in itself.”

The attempt of contemporary fundamentalist movements to control women can be seen not just as an idiosyncrasy but rather as a typical characteristic of authoritarian regimes and political movements, which have placed the regulation of women’s reproductive capacities and sexuality at the forefront of their agendas. The 18th century Enlightenment in Europe, with its emphasis on civil liberty, individual rights and political democracy, contributed the first great challenge to women’s subjugation. Throughout the 20th century, social change and ‘modernisation’ have had a significant impact on sex roles and gender relations, often giving rise to actual or perceived threats to traditional male supremacy. (Feldman and Clark, 1996). Industrialisation and the spread of capitalism have in many places opened new economic opportunities for women. Though women’s opportunities are still limited, population growth, land shortage and unemployment have weakened kinship solidarities, and men’s power in the family. Hence, the relative position of men and women may have changed, at least as much through the weakening of controls which men had, as because of real gains by women.

In 1930s Europe, economic depression and declining birth rates were frequently perceived in terms of ‘degenerate’ moral codes and cultural trends which justified the reassertion of strict regulation of the family and of sexuality, in order to promote fertility (Feldman and Clark, 1996).  In terms of effective state control this view found its most notorious expression in Nazi Germany but the subordination of women as a form of pressure to produce children has also occurred in the Soviet Union as well as in democratic states such as Britain and France.

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