sexism

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Women's rights and Kenya's constitution: Challenging 'men of faith'

By Beth Maina and Cenya Ciyendi

What gives a church in which celibacy is equated with holiness, in which males have all the undemocratic power, the right to a place at the table where laws are made about women’s bodies?

A large number of contradictions have arisen in the Kenyan debate on the new constitution just passed through the Kenyan parliament in preparation for a referendum scheduled for 2 July 2010, and particularly around the clauses on the right to abortion.

We are Kenyan women in the diaspora who have struggled with other women in Kenya and other nations on the right to life for the mother as well as the unborn child. With CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, particularly the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, established, we wish to join a debate which is a fundamental concern over the fundamental right to life and which is critical in the bill of rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, we would like to state from the outset that this debate is currently moribund as far as the referendum is concerned as time has lapsed in relation to the act. Opening the door now to one group of people will raise further questions about democracy and the rule of law. As women, whose lives and bodies this is all about, we therefore cannot remain silent as we do not believe that those who purport to represent us either seek our view or care about our humanity. We have to question the protests by religious groups and politicians such as William Ruto, who hope to manipulate the ignorance and vulnerability of the faithful to jettison the new constitution on this specific aspect on emotive and pseudo-religious grounds. We believe that they are seeking power and hiding behind religion to derail what is a very important document in our lives as Kenyans, the new Kenyan constitution, which we unequivocally support as it gives all Kenyans greater protection, rights and freedoms than the old one.

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FPI sabotages transgender workshop

By Theresia Sufa and Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post

Dozens of members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) stormed a human rights training program intended for transgender individuals at a hotel in Depok, West Java, on Friday.

The program, organized by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), had just begun when dozens of FPI members forced their way (past police) into the room.

Nancy Iskandar, a participant, said after a coffee break at around 10:30 a.m, a number of police officers had come into the room.

The committee had then asked participants to take a snack break in the training room.

“Several people then suddenly banged on the door and shouted the name of God,” she said.

Nancy, who is also the head of the Transgender Communication Forum, said the group verbally assaulted participants disgracefully.

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Farah Malhass: Female Bodybuilder...from Jordan

"You are somebody when you stop being nobody"

I just read about Farah Malhass, a cis-female bodybuilder in the country of Jordan.  Yes, that Jordan.  The Jordan of  "honor killing", misogynist religious intolerance and many more culturally accepted forms of oppression to women.

Farah is one bad-ass human. 

She can bench press more than you, has awesome tattoos, wears whatever she wants, flexes her muscles and her boobs and she's taking her desire to compete as a bodybuilder to an international competition in Toronto, this September.

Farah is a sitting target for Jordan's hardliners, not least of all because her body is covered in tattoos: a bare-breasted angel is depicted on her upper thighs, angel wings cover her back, and edgy statements are branded across her arms.

"You are somebody when you stop being nobody," reads one. "Only the one who hurts you can heal your pain," reads another. [GulfNews]

Oh, and when she's not busting egos at the gym, Farah works at the International Organisation for Migration, assisting Iraqi immigrants who deal with relocation and the scars of torture and bloodshed.

Farah is a shining, perfect example of  the creativity, beauty, strength and limitless possiblity of individual expression that is in every one of us.  She is a glaring example of what is available to us all if we claim our own identity and declare it to the world.  She is also a great big "fuck you" to oppression, bullying and misogyny.  For that last point, she receives no end of discouraging remarks.  For the first point, she gets this writer's wholehearted approval, support and praise.

Rock on with your bad self, Farah!

- arvan

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Call for Submissions: Refuse The Silence

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Morgane Richardson and I'm collecting the stories of women of color currently attending elite liberal-arts colleges in the United States.

Refuse the Silence is a project that encourages women of color currently enrolled in elite liberal arts colleges in the United States to share their stories.  Being a woman of color myself and having attended Middlebury College from 2004 to 2008, my hope is to present these stories, in the form of a book, to college administrators with a suggested plan of action to improve the college climate for women of color.

I am looking for vivid and honest personal stories and essays about the experiences of women of color in elite liberal arts colleges throughout the United States.

I am looking to attract submissions that reflect experiences, friendships and realizations made during the college years. Themes to consider include but are not limited to,

•    identity
•    socioeconomic, cultural, racial issues
•    classroom dynamics
•    turning points
•    depression
•    challenging moments
•    friendships
•    dating
•    student/professor dynamics
•    sex, sexuality

Contributions will be accepted in the form of a poem, letter, journal entry, personal reflection and/or essay. Entries should not exceed ten pages. Your submisions will be cautiously edited for grammar and comprehensibility. Unfortunately, I will not be able to include everyone's submissions. Priority will be given to those who submit their work before the September 1st, 2010 deadline.

I hope that you will use your voice and share your story with me. Let us refuse the silence and show the world who we are, who we are becoming, and how we can help others.

I invite you to share this information with your friends, family members, and classmates so that we can have as many voices possible involved in this important discussion in our communities.

Sincerely,

Morgane Veronique Richardson

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To the Oklahoma Lawmakers: A poem about the impact of morality

A very powerful poem, read by Lauren Zuniga and directed to the oppressive, hypocritical and destructive anti-abortion laws recently passed in Oklahoma.

(h/t Her Authority)

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Sex Workers Rights in Macedonia: You Must Know About Me - Excerpts [video]

By: Violeta Krasnic

In Macedonia, as throughout the world, sex workers are pushed to the margins of society by a combination of prejudice, discrimination, and violence.  Yet, the fact that a person sells sexual services cannot be used as justification for the denial of their fundamental rights, to which all human beings are entitled.

“You Must Know About Me” is a first-hand account of sex workers’ experiences and aspirations off and on the streets.  While dealing with harassment and violence from clients, pimps, and the police, sex workers strive to counter hostile public attitudes by speaking out and fighting for their rights.  The video calls for zero tolerance of violence against sex workers and the coordinated response of institutions to the actual needs of sex workers.

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The National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon

The National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon is the first-ever national bowl-a-thon for abortion funding. 

The National Network of Abortion Funds is sponsoring the national component of this event, while individual member abortion Funds are hosting local bowl-a-thons in their communities.  

The dual goals of the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-thon are to raise awareness of economic barriers to abortion care and to strike down these barriers by raising money to pay for abortion care and to improve state and federal policies that interfere with access to abortion for the most disadvantaged women. 
 
Seventeen abortion Funds, members of the National Network of Abortion Funds, are hosting bowl-a-thons in their local communities during the month of April.
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Meet Salwa, a new mascot in the fight against sexual harassment.

The folks at League of Independent Activists – IndyACT have come up with a new campaign to fight sexual harassment.  Meet Salwa.

Salwa is the mascot and the image of the Anti-Harassment Campaign launched by a group of young feminists who have had enough of the sexual harassment (verbal and physical) women face on the streets, in public transportation, in homes, schools and jobs.

Salwa is an average Lebanese woman who is sick of sexual harassment that has become part of her daily life and decided to take matters into her own hands. Her superpower lies in her bag.


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Janice Raymond's Anti-Prostitution Screed Debunked in 2-part Video

I saw one of these excellent videos over at Harlot's Parlor this morning.  I think they both deserve to be seen. 

The anti-prostitution folks and abusive pimps have much in common - they all want to make money off whores without telling the truth or sharing the revenue.

I personally hope to see more from Laurel.  She has other videos on this topic at her youtube channel.

-arvan

Sifting Through B.S. Propaganda {Janice G Raymond Edition} Pt.1

{a video by Laurel}

Sifting Through B.S. Propaganda {Janice G Raymond Edition} Pt.2

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Healthcare Should Include Abortion Access, Women Say

By Armin Rosen

NEW YORK, Mar1, 2010 (IPS) - Last fall, the push to reform healthcare in the United States was all but hijacked by one of the country's most passionate recurring cultural debates.

On Nov. 7, 2009, Congressmen Bart Stupak, a liberal Democrat, and Joseph Pitts, a conservative Republican, sponsored a stipulation in the healthcare reform bill that would severely limit federal funding for abortions in a reformed healthcare system.

If Barack Obama's comprehensive reform bill were passed, consumers would be able to buy discounted health insurance from an index of government-subsidised providers. But under the Stupak-Pitts amendment, an insurer could only be included on the index if its plans excluded abortions from its coverage.

The amendment passed, 240-194, and the debate over health care reform turned into a debate over abortion rights. Suddenly, a vote for reforming health care was also a vote for curtailing lower and middle-income access to abortions in the United States.

Wendy Chavkin, a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, is a member of a group of academics that authored a position paper on the place of reproductive health in the healthcare reform process.

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