women

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.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Feminist Responses towards Fundamentalisms and Neo-liberal Economy

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

Episode - One

This is the time of globalisation – globalisation of capital, thought processes through information technology and fundamentalisms. Women are the first victims of the globalisation of the ‘triumph of invested capital’ and they are the worst victims of religious fundamentalisms. But women issues are almost missing in the contemporary mainstream socio-economic, political and communicative discourses; the woman’s voice is scant in the ‘public sphere’. This paper presents a comparative analysis of eastern and western forms of fundamentalisms with an especial emphasis on the inbuilt male-centric components of hegemonic constructions of both the fundamentalisms and how the eastern and western feminisms are addressing these issues. The paper casts light on how in the era of overwhelming information revolution, the all-controlling, and patriarchal nature of fundamentalisms and capital wash away the marginal voices and widens the gap between hegemonic discourses and the participation of women as ‘others’ in that process. Unless the social control on the means of production as well as information can be established, this only being possible in a participatory democratic process, this marginalisation cannot be reduced. Therefore, this paper suggests that despite significant differences between various streams of feminisms in the eastern and western perspectives, women movements throughout the world demands a three-sided fight: against religious fundamentalisms, all powerful capital and for democracy .

Key words: fundamentalisms, feminisms, neo-liberal capital, communicative discourses, public sphere, participatory democracy

Introduction

Today’s world is passing through “The Clash of Fundamentalisms” (Ali, 2002). Jensen (2006) argues that there are four fundamentalisms that interplay the threat to a sustainable democracy – religious, national, economic and technological. He mentioned these four types of fundamentalisms in the context of ‘threatened’ democracy of the USA. There might be differences of opinions regarding the taxonomy of fundamentalism, but there is hardly any confusion about two vigorous forces that are controlling the whole world right now (perhaps, they always did in different names): religious fundamentalisms and corporate capitalism or neo-liberalism, which is to some scholars “synonymous these days with economic fundamentalism, or market fundamentalism” (Jensen, 2006). While the threat of religious fundamentalisms is well discussed in public spheres and well documented and conveyed, a thought especially established in the readymade example of 9/11 and women’s position in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the threat of corporate capital still seem like a concern issue only among leftists and at the best within academia.

arvan's picture

Violence against Women and Girls in Haiti: The Enemy Within

Narrated by TV journalist Daljit Dhaliwal, this 21st Century short documentary goes deep into Haiti's makeshift camps to expose acts of violence and sexual assaults that women, especially young girls, have encountered since the country's devastating earthquake in January left 1.5 million homeless.

While measures are being taken by, for instance, the Haitian National Police, UN police and UNIFEM (part of UN Women), to curb such type of violence, this video underscores what has yet to be done to ensure the safety of women and girls as Haiti continues to build itself back from the ground up.



 

Publisher: 21st Century with support from UNIFEM (part of UN Women);

Date of Release: October 2010

lilith land's picture

The Female Horndog

Popular opinion has it that being a "horndog" is the exclusive providence of the male of the species, while the female of the species is way too refined to consider such shenanigans as casual hoo

arvan's picture

Insurgency Turns Malay-Muslim Women into Leaders

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

SONGKHLA, Thailand, Sep 23, 2010 (IPS) - When her husband was arrested for links to an insurgency raging in this southern region, Pattama Heemmima joined the ranks of Malay-Muslim women forced into the unfamiliar routine of visiting police stations, military camps and courts to secure the freedom of their imprisoned kin.

At the same time, there was no local organisation she could turn to for help regarding her husband, Nawawee Daohumso, who was taken in by the Thai police in March 2008 for his alleged role in a killing a civilian.

But by the time a court acquitted Nawawee in March 2010 -- enabling him and 34-year-old Pattama to rebuild a marriage that was only two months old when police made the wrongful arrest -- Pattama had found an answer to her search for a local helping hand.

She and her elder sister, Anchana Semmina, had resolved to take on new roles as activists for justice. In mid-2009, the two sisters had set up the Hearty Support Group in the southern Thai province of Songkhla to help families struggling to secure the release of their jailed fathers, husbands and sons.

"I wanted to help these women who were desperate after their husbands or sons were arrested by the police, the military," says Pattama. "I had learnt so much after my husband’s arrest that I wanted to share it with the others in my community."

arvan's picture

Is That an 'Honor Killing' In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy Not To Be Me?

There are some crimes that are just gut wrenching to think about.  "Honor" killing, the murder of a someone (usually a woman or girl) by family and friends over sex / marriage is an awful thing. 

I object to it personally.  as a father of a girl, I shudder to think what could bring a father or brother to slaughter their own kin.  It cannot end soon enough for me.

There are some great resources committed to ending 'honor' killing, listed at the end of this post.  If you know of others not listed here, please leave them in the comments field.

What has my mind today is not the 'honor' killings themselves but how the topic itself is discussed, presented and marketed in western societies - the EU and US.  The news reports and accounts of these killings reveal these deaths in terms of the way they are carried out, along with details of religious and cultural practices that seem primitive, cruel and that fly in the face of any rule of fairness, reasoning or legal structure.

Sure, we get upset by such murders, but are these 'honor' killing being used to reinforce a "single story" about the populations where these killings occur?  As Chimamanda Adichie illustrates well, repeated and dramatic negative images about a culture other than one's own, can reduce our own awareness to a "single story" of who those people are.  It lumps people into one-dimensional creations, not as complex and alive in our minds as we hold ourselves.  It strips individuals of identity and reduces people to "one of those people".

Chimiamanda talks about people being framed in a  "patriarchal, well-meaning pity" by holding them in a "single story of catastrophe".

arvan's picture

Announcing! LOVED BODIES, BIG IDEAS Contest

Tired of talktalktalking about how toxic our culture is for girls and women, particularly in relation to their bodies?  Craving to take action?  Brimming with good ideas but suffering from a lack of support?  Then this is your moment.

The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute is thrilled to announce the LOVED BODIES, BIG IDEAS Contest.

We need your BIG IDEA in response to the following question:

What is one bold action that could make the world truly value

the diversity of women and girls’ bodies?

All of the BIG IDEAS will be considered by a team of expert judges and the three most thrilling and original ones will be chosen as winners. These winners will be invited to present their ideas in 10-minute presentations at the Endangered Species Summit in March of 2011 in New York City in front of a power-packed audience of media representatives, philanthropists, public intellectuals, activists, therapists, and more. It is our hope that the energy in the room will propel these ideas into real, bonafide action!

All travel and accommodations for the three BIG IDEAS winners will be covered by the Women’s Therapy Centre Institute.

Note: if you don’t win, your idea will not go to waste! All of the BIG IDEAS submitted will be included in our online idea gallery as a resource for body image advocates across the world.

To submit to the contest, please email a 500 word (maximum) BIG IDEA essay to Contest Manager, Shirley Kailas: shirley.kailas@gmail.com by December 1, 2010, 6:00 pm.  Please include your name, age, email, phone #, and any organizational affiliation you have on the top of the page.

A few examples of the kinds of BIG IDEAS we’re hoping for include: A nationally-recognized curriculum on body image, disordered eating and exercise, and the limits of the BMI measurement for medical schools, legislation on body toxic advertising during television targeted at children and teens, or a campaign to end diet commercials on a show primarily targeting women.

arvan's picture

Spark Summit - Challenging the Sexualization of Girls

Friday, October 22 · 12:00am - 11:30pm

New York, NY- Hunter College

On the heels of APA’s task force report that found the sexualization of girls so pervasive that “virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence,” a coalition of organizations is taking action.

SPARK stands for Sexualization Protest: Action, Rebellion, Knowledge

Current SPARK partners include:

Women's Media Center
Hardy Girls Healthy Women
TrueChild
Ms. Foundation
ASAP Initiative at Hunter College/CUNY

The SPARK Summit will bring together girls and media professionals, thought leaders and funders, researchers and activists – and will serve as a national call to action and campaign for change.  As a first step towards building a broader coalition, a convening was held in May, thanks to generous funding from the NoVo Foundation. Participants included the Ford Foundation, Girls Inc, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and the APA, which will be a part of the summit’s policy/research committee.

Who: girls, girl-serving organizations, activists, media professionals, researchers, funders, thought leaders and allies

The SPARK summit is an exciting day-long event with the purpose of igniting a movement for girls' rights. Participants will have the opportunity to speak out, push back on the sexualization of girls, learn, and have fun with one another!

An interactive website is being developed for participants to take action in the months leading up to the summit.

If you are interested in partnering with us, supporting our work, or promoting the summit, please email SPARKsummit@gmail.com

For updates, follow the summit on Twitter: @SPARKsummit.

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