Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

ISIS execute 250 women and girls for refusing to become sex slaves

Mosul residents mourn the execution of women in 2015

The killings allegedly took place in Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, after the victims were hand-picked by militant soldiers.

The women were forced into temporary marriage, or sexual jihad, and those who refused were murdered, sometimes with their families, said Kurdish Democratic Party spokesman Said Mamuzini.

Daesh vehicles drive through Mosul. Photo: AAP

“At least 250 girls have so far been executed by the IS for refusing to accept the practice of sexual jihad, and sometimes the families of the girls were also executed for rejecting to submit to IS’s request,” Mr Mamuzini told AhlulBayt news agency.

Another official, Ghayas Surchi from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said women were not allowed to go out alone in the city or choose their own spouse.

IS forcefully gained control of Mosul in June 2014 after the fall of the Iraqi army, but US President Barack Obama said he was positive the city would be reclaimed “eventually”.

 An Islamic State fighter holds an ISIL flag and a weapon in Mosul. Photo: Reuters

An Islamic State fighter holds an ISIL flag and a weapon in Mosul. Photo: Reuters

“My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall,” Mr Obama said on Monday.

The executions echo similar killings that took place last August, when almost two dozen women from Mosul were slain for refusing sex with Islamic State soldiers.

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savannahAnd that’s the longest headline we’ve ever put on a post – hope it flagged you down.

Savannah Brown is a young American poet from Ohio living in London. She is articulate, anxious, honest and charming.

She is brutally frank about being a woman, being a writer, self image and awareness, and the human experience generally including how we relate to each other. She is also something of an internet sensation, with millions of views of her channel, making her one of the few poets in the world who actually make a living from their work, we suspect. And she’s only 19. Ye Gods, what might she achieve in the next 50 years?

You will be aware, Dear Reader, that we have complained before about the ludicrously different standards applied to women and men in our society. The difference, for example, between the way we view the public display of our bodies.

Anyhow, Savannah has fired off about the difference between men and women when it comes to sexuality, the total disconnect between expressed male attitudes and male desires, and it is raw, and truthful, and stark, and utterly convincing. “I am a Slut” is also damn good poetry, and a breathtakingly impressive performance.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for her work from here on in.

 

 

And Sav’s new book “Graffiti (and other poems)” was launched just half an hour ago (as we write) and can be pre-ordered here for under ten pounds plus postage. Looking forward to reading it.

 

She may have been around for 57 years, but Barbie has certainly received a lot of criticism over the last few decades for her unrealistic body measurements. The blonde blue-eyed doll is fast losing popularity, with manufacturer Mattel recording a 14% drop in profits last year alone.

It seems the company has finally taken note, because it’s just introduced three new body types and 24 new hairstyles to the Barbie range (baby steps). “We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice-president and Barbie’s global general manager.

 

In other news, a new “Corporate Barbie” will be produced too, showing a young woman juggling an iPhone, handbag and make-up, laptop with complex Excel spreadsheet running, supporting her boyfriend’s concerns that he is losing his hair too soon by making him an appointment with the local Hair Studio, between fielding important calls from her CEO.

In an extra effort to make her more “now” and “happening”, “Corporate Barbie” will also only earn 85% of the salary typical for a man at her level. She will have a number of direct reports who earn more than her. And if she should ever make a mistake or appear mildly irritable, everyone will assume it’s because she’s having a period.

(That’s enough sarcasm. Ed.)

 

derek-medina-and-jennifer-alfonsos-body

A Florida man who had admitted he killed his wife and posted a photo of the body on Facebook has been found guilty of murder.

Derek Medina admitted taking the picture on his phone and uploading it onto the social media site.

He failed to convince the jury that he had shot Jennifer Alfonso (eight times) in self-defence, after years of abuse.

He said his wife was threatening him with a knife when he shot her in their home in Miami, but prosecutors said she was cowering on the floor.

When he posted the picture, he wrote on Facebook that he expected to go to prison or be sentenced to death for the killing.

Prosecutors successfully argued that the 27-year-old wife was in fear of her life when she was shot in August 2013.

He had vowed to kill her if she left him and she had told friends she intended to do that, the court heard.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Rundle said: “No family should ever have to see their daughter killed and then exhibited worldwide on the internet like some macabre trophy to a husband’s anger.”

Medina, 33, could face a life imprisonment over the murder.

domestic violence

 

Yesterday was White Ribbon Day, to protest against violence against women, and domestic violence especially. We are not 100% sure if that is what this excellent and thought-provoking poem is about, (it’s a poem, after all, and therefore open to interpretation), but that’s how it speaks to us. Strongly.

We love the way the poem builds in intensity through a repeated motif. This is very skillful writing.

 

CREAKS IN THE FLOORBOARDS

Oh but to shudder at the hands of a lover

Is no fun

No no no

It’s no fun

Mmm and they say she’s oh so clever

Got some charm, keenness about her

It’s alright,

They keep proclaiming

She’s alright,

Yeah he’s alright,

So let them keep on livin’

Don’t intrude on others’ business

She’s alright,

Just keep dancin’ in that darkened corner

She just fine,

Keep on peeling those potatoes

and tossing that great salad

Keep on sending out those letters

Telling everyone about

How bright

How kind,

How wonderful it is

to be around her,

Don’t let them see the secrets

Buried deep beneath the floorboards,

They’re alright

We’re all just fine,

Quit losing sleep over this duo

It’s their battle

We shall not intrude, no

Regardless of what we hear or see, no

She’ll be alright,

Look at her beaming,

Great big grin

look, now they’re kissing,

They’re aright

They’re just fine.

 

From: http://wanderingthroughhersoul.com/

 

Mehdi Tutunchi, himself a sportscaster, said his wife Niloofar Ardalan could not lead out the national team at the September 21-26 championship in Nilai, because it coincided with their seven-year-old son’s first day at school.

Ardalan went public to plead her right to represent her country at the first women’s tournament of futsal — a form of five-a-side football — organised by the Asian Football Confederation, in a case that captivated Iran’s social media.

Niloofar Ardalan. Photo: Facebook

Niloofar Ardalan playing football. Photo: AFP

She appealed for a change to the law, in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979, that bars women from leaving home, let alone the country, without the permission of their male guardian.

“I wish authorities would pass a law for sportswomen so we can defend our rights in these circumstances,” Ardalan told Iran’s NASIM news agency.

“As a Muslim woman I wanted to raise the flag of my country, I wasn’t going there for fun.”

Just as Iranian boys who have not completed their military service get temporary permits to attend sport events abroad, “something must be done for us women too,” she said.

Niloofar Ardalan has played football for 20 years. Photo: Facebook

Iranians took to Facebook to express sympathy for Ardalan and condemn her husband’s decision.

“To publicise this in Iran… This woman is very brave and selfless,” Atefeh Amin wrote on a women’s rights Facebook page.

Another user criticised the husband.

“Mr. Tutunchi, you are depriving a human being of her first right to live her own life. Whatever the reason, you cannot do this,” wrote a user going by the name Samaneh.

But as the outcry intensified, Ardalan backed down, saying it was a private issue and that she was sorry that “anti-revolutionary media” had exploited her case.

The story has caused outrage on social media. Photo: Facebook

“I’m a Muslim Iranian woman and my absence from these games is a personal and family matter,” she told NASIM.

“I only described my problem and asked for a solution for it,” she said. “It’s no one else’s business.”

Unlike in some Muslim countries in the region, Iranian women enjoy the right to drive, vote and join a profession, and the majority of students enrolled in universities are female.

However, women are required to wear the Islamic headscarf and are barred from certain activities, such as watching men play sports in stadiums, singing solo at concerts or riding a bicycle on the street. And apparently, their husbands are incapable of taking a child to school.

Moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in 2013 on a platform of more social and political freedom, has three women vice presidents.

In their own words: why people were celebrating International Go Topless Day on Sunday

Women and men in approximately 60 cities across the globe took part in the International Go Topless Day on Sunday.

Demonstrators in cities like New York, Paris and London took to the streets in order to break taboos around female nudity, protest against double-standards and to make it easier for women to breastfeed.

In their own words, here’s why people were willing to bare their chests in public:

Null

We’re not protesting. We’re exercising our right to bring awareness to the subject. This is about equality. There’s no problem with men not wearing shirts at the beach. I made the drive here to take away the stigma for women.

As long as men are allowed to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.

  • Claude “Rael” Vorilhon, founder of GoTopless.org

Null

In our society, men and women are supposed to have equal rights. But women are commonly arrested, fined and humiliated for daring to go topless in public, a freedom men have had for decades. To protest this unconstitutional gender discrimination, GoTopless.org is holding National Go-Topless Day events in cities nationwide. Thousands of women will be baring their chests that day in the name of equal rights.

  • GoTopless.org statement

It’s logical. Why can a man go outside topless and a woman can’t? We should be able to do it without anyone harassing us. It’s just meat, it’s just breast and it’s nature.

  • A demonstrator in New York speaking to the Guardian

Null

It’s absurd that someone has judged topless women as obscene, and yet topless men is considered normal in our culture. We just abhor the double standard. We are practicing our rights. We think everyone should try it — it’s a lot of fun.

  • Carolyn Estes, a demonstrator in Austin, Texas, speaking to NBC

The significance is really to challenge the double-standard and to challenge this notion that there’s something morally reprehensible about women being topless when men have been able to be topless for so many years. It’s just about loving your body in whatever state it is in.

  • A demonstrator in New York speaking to the Guardian

Null

A woman’s nipple being criminalised and so hyper-sexualised make certain things like breast-feeding really difficult, especially in public … It is discrimination based on gender to tell women to cover up.

  • Demonstrators speaking in New Hampshire

The main problem people have with breast-feeding is they sexualise breasts, so it offends them. If we could make them less taboo, breast-feeding would be much more acceptable in society.

  • Jessica Wardell, a demonstrator in New Hampshire speaking to Reuters
Null

There should be no reason why my breasts should be different from his chest.

To which we can only say, “HEAR HEAR”. This is a topic we have discussed on this blog before, and will again. This double standard is simple sexism, and should be done away with. Womens’ bodies are not “dirty”.

Last but not least – have a look at this photo, doing the rounds in American media. Why the f*** do you have to PIXELATE a nipple? Have Americans never been on holiday in Europe?

Don't look too closely, the demons will get you.

Don’t look too closely, the demons will get you.

Bizarre. Simply bizarre. The human body, in all it’s wonderful and weird shapes and sizes, is beautiful. We should celebrate it. Most of all, we shouldn’t let one half of the population do something the other half of the population isn’t allowed to. Patriarchal bullshit. So there. Harumph.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

And meanwhile, our new Kickstarter project just went live – whoo hoo!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330314396/bringing-variety-back-to-melbourne-with-a-focus-on/widget/video.html

noose

In yet another brutal so-called “honour killing” in Pakistan, a young woman was hanged to death by her two brothers for marrying the man of her choice in Punjab province.

Aslam and Waqas kidnapped their sister Ayla last week from her home at Bhowana in Chiniot district, 250 kilometres from Lahore, and hanged her to death at a deserted place before dumping the body in a canal, according to a statement filed by Ayla’s husband Ejaz Ahmad.

How many more times?

How many more times?

The body of the woman was found in a canal nearChak-144-JB. Ayla wanted to marry Ejaz but the family was against her choice. However, she had contracted court marriage after eloping with him some time ago, said Investigation Officer Faisal Majid.

“Her family then swore to kill her for preserving its honour,” Majid said, adding that the couple had left their locality after marriage and remained in hiding. Last week Ayla’s family got information of her whereabouts and her brothers kidnapped her. They also wanted to kill Ejaz but he was not present in the house when they arrived there, he said.

The women of the world need us all - and perhaps especially men - to stand up for them. When will the Government of Pakistan act to stamp out this scourge?

The women of the world need us all – and perhaps especially men – to stand up for them.

Police have arrested both the brothers and registered a murder case against them.

The accused told the police that they had taken their sister to a deserted place and hanged her from a tree until she died, before dumping the body in the canal.They said they had no regret for killing their sister as she ‘dishonoured’ her family.

Some 760 women were killed in Pakistan last year in so-called honour killings – the most dishonourable murders imaginable.

We cannot imagine the courage of Ayla and Ejaz. We cannot but wonder at the utter despair Ejaz must feel now. And we cannot fathom the depth of depravity of Ayla’s family.

You may care to urge the Government of Pakistan to act more decisively in these matters to protect the women of that country. If so, please address a courteous email to the Legal advisor to the President, Mamnoon Hussain. His name is Mr Muhammed Faisal Kamal Alam, Consultant (Legal Affairs) to his Excellency the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and his email address is  consultant_law@president.gov.pk.

hanger

 

In a brilliant bit of agit-prop that we predict will give the lie to the arguments of pro-abortion activists in America, a pregnant woman has created a controversial website calling on pro-life advocates to pay $1 million to save the life of her unborn baby. As she says on the website:

The backward direction this country is headed in terms of its treatment of women I feel is due in large part to the influence of the religious right disguised as the pro-life movement. The pro-life movement cares very little about saving lives and far more about controlling women by minimising their choices in a wide variety of ways not the least of which is readily available reproductive health care. I will do my best to remain anonymous in this process as what I aim to prove has nothing to do with me personally. I hope to give the American public a concrete example that the conservative right in America doesn’t actually care about the life of a child, they care about controlling the lives and choices of women. We have to acknowledge this and we have to stop it.

The unidentified woman, who is seven weeks pregnant, says she will accept donations for 72 hours, which is how long women are required to wait for an abortion in some US states. If the target isn’t reached, the 26-year-old will go ahead with a scheduled abortion on July 10. The pro-choice advocate says she wants to draw attention to the “extremely restrictive” abortion laws that exist in the US state where she lives. “If one million dollars is raised in those 72 hours then I’ll have the baby, give it up for adoption and every cent of that one million dollars will be put in a trust fund for the child,” she writes. “Mathematically this means that every one of the 157 million Americans that identify as pro-life needs to donate less than one cent to stop this abortion.” As we have also often argued, the university student says the pro-life movement cares more about controlling women than it does about saving the lives of unborn children. “I hope to give the American public a concrete example that the conservative right in America doesn’t actually care about the life of a child, they care about controlling the lives and choices of women.”

This is an actual 7 week abortion.

This is an actual 7 week abortion.

Our position on abortion has been completely consistent. Women will get abortions whatever the law says, and we hope it is always safe, legal, and as rare as possible. When a woman does not want to carry an un-viable fetus to term that decision should be hers, and not one, I am sure, that the vast majority of women – or their partners – take lightly. This clever campaign – and the promise to donate the money into a trust fund for the child – is the perfect riposte to the hysterical animus of the “pro-life” campaigners. “Pro-life” campaigners who are very unlikely, you will note, to campaign against the capricious, racist and frequently incorrect application of the death penalty in the USA. Or to put it another way, hypocrites. As we have said so many times we are blue in the face, there is a difference between the potential for life, and life itself. Because I celebrate life I also celebrate the lives of women who won’t die at the hands of amateurs wielding knitting needles or coat hangers. Period.

 

An artists works on a banner calling for the death sentence for rapists in Delhi, 16 January 2012

The December 2012 Delhi gang rape which resulted in the victim’s death shocked India

A 14-year-old Indian girl has died and her mother was seriously injured when they were allegedly thrown off a bus by the staff who tried to molest them.

Three men, including the bus conductor and his assistant, have been arrested.

The girl was travelling in Punjab’s Moga district along with her mother and younger brother. The bus had a few passengers at the time of the assault.

The crime is horrifyingly reminiscent of the widely December 2012 gang rape where a 23 year old student was assaulted on a bus in Delhi and subsequently died from injuries sustained during the attack. The crime shocked India and the world and raised an ongoing public debate over the treatment of women in the country.

In the latest incident, the girl’s family had boarded the bus from their village to visit a gurudwara (Sikh temple) on Wednesday evening, reports NDTV.

“They kept abusing us. No one helped. They first pushed my daughter off the bus, then me,” the channel quoted the mother, who has been admitted to hospital, as saying.

Police said they had seized the bus and were investigating the case.

Anti rape in India

Rape is virtually endemic in India, as is violence against women generally. The patriarchal attitudes that lead to this were exemplified by one of the men convicted for raping and killing a woman in a shocking and brutal 2012 gang attack on a New Delhi bus said in a TV documentary that if their victim had not fought back she would not have been killed.

Instead, the 23-year-old woman should have remained silent, said Mukesh Singh, who was driving the bus when the woman was attacked.

“Then they would have dropped her off after ‘doing her,'” he said in a documentary being released next week. The filmmakers released transcripts of the interview, which was recorded in 2013, in early March.

Singh and three other attackers were convicted in a fast-track court in 2013. The appeals against their death sentences are pending in the Supreme Court.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he said, according to the transcripts. “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night …. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”

The woman and her male friend were returning home from seeing a movie at an upscale mall when they got on the bus. The attackers beat her friend and took turns raping the woman. They penetrated her with a metal rod, leaving severe internal injuries that caused her death.

India, where many people have long believed that women are responsible for rape, was shocked into action after the attack. The Indian government rushed legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.

In the interview, Singh suggested that the attack was to teach the woman and her male friend a lesson that they should not have been out late at night. He also reiterated that rape victims should not fight back: “She should just be silent and allow the rape.”

He also said that the death penalty would make things even more dangerous for women: “Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her.”

Singh’s interview is from the documentary “India’s Daughter” by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin. It was shown on March 8, International Women’s Day, in India, Britain, Denmark, Sweden and several other countries.

Yes means yes, no means no

Whoever we are, wherever we go, yes means yes, no means no.

As always, it is male attitudes that put women at risk, not womens’ behaviour.

If you want to make the point to those around you, we politely suggest you buy one of our most popular shirt designs and make your views known to the world

The male version of the shirt is here.

Other clothing items with the same message are also available.

Girls at Islamic school banned from running over virginity fears: report

Vic Islamic college allegedly bans girls from running over virginity concerns.

The principal of an Islamic school in Melbourne’s west has allegedly banned girls from running in sporting events out of concerns it may cause them to lose their virginity, causing a huge community blowback at the worst possible time for local Muslims.

Female students at Al-Taqwa College, in Truganina, were also barred from playing soccer as a sports injury could make them infertile, Fairfax has reported.

School’s regulator, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, is reportedly investigating the claims levelled at principal Omar Hallak, who earlier this year courted controversy when he suggested Islamic State was supported by western countries.

In a letter sent to education ministers and published by The Age, a former teacher at the college said:

“The principal holds beliefs that if females run excessively, they may lose their virginity.

“The principal believes that there is scientific evidence to indicate that if girls injure themselves, such as break their leg while playing soccer, it could render them infertile.”

The teacher claimed Mr Hallak stopped the female cross country team from participating in a 2013 and 2014 district event, Fairfax reports.

The girls had been training hard for the competition when Mr Hallak realised they were set to compete and cancelled it.

The girls were reportedly distraught by Mr Hallak’s intervention and penned hand written letters of complaint in which they expressed their disappointment.

“It was really shocking to find out it had been cancelled because the excuse girls can’t run,” one student wrote.

The teacher claimed she had worked at another school where both boys and girls had equally been encouraged to take part in sporting activities.

“I look back on my time at Al-Taqwa with frustration and anger, which is how I felt most of the time while I was working there,” she said in the letter.

“I did my best to stay committed to the students however in the end, I was unable to provide the same opportunities to students that I was given when I was at a primary school, more than 20 years ago.

“It was really shocking to find out it had been cancelled because the excuse girls can’t run,” one student said in her complaint to the principal.

Education minister James Merlino has told 3AW the reports are concerning and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority is investigating.

“If true these are very concerning reports and I have asked the VRQA to investigate and report back to me,” Mr Merlino has told 3AW on Thursday.

Mr Hallak courted controversy earlier this year when he reportedly told some students IS was backed by western countries as part of a plot to control Middle Eastern oil supplies.

Merlino labelled those comments ‘reckless and dangerous’.

“They’re reckless. They’re dangerous and it leads to confusion in young people … the best way to tackle radicalisation is through education of young people. The worst thing you can do is put reckless and dangerous ideas into their heads,” he told reporters at the time.

Wellthisiswhatithink doesn’t feel the need to comment further: frankly, we are speechless. In pursuit of fairness, we will provide a response from Mr Hallak if one is forthcoming and we are made aware of it.

(Yahoo and 7 News)

When will this end?

When will this end? When will the world truly care?

A Pakistani man and his father have been arrested in the country’s latest so-called “honour killing” after they set the son’s wife alight for leaving the house without asking his permission, police said Sunday.

Muhammad Siddique became enraged on learning that his wife, Shabana Bibi, 25, had visited her sister without first asking him if she could go out, her brother Muhammad Azam said.

Siddique and his father then beat Bibi before dousing her with petrol and setting her on fire in Central Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh district on Friday, Azam said.

Bibi had been married to Siddique for three years, during which time she had suffered repeated domestic abuse for the couple’s inability to have children, Azam said. Clearly that was the true “insult” received by the husband in this case.

Suffering burns to 80 percent of her body, Bibi died of her injuries in hospital on Saturday.

woman“We have arrested the husband and father-in-law of the deceased woman and charged them for murder and terrorism,” district police chief Rai Zameer-ul-Haq told AFP. The charge of “terrorism” is regularly applied in such cases so as to expedite the legal process.

Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year through domestic violence or on the grounds of defending family “honour”.

The Aurat Foundation, a campaign group that works to improve the lives of women in Pakistan’s conservative and patriarchal society, says more than 3,000 women have been killed in such attacks since 2008.

honour-killing-jpgWellthisiswhatithink does not, as some do, accuse the Muslim religion of being responsible for these outrages – so-called honour killings occur in many countries, and many cultural groups, including amongst Christians. Sikhs and Hindus. But the world needs to apply implacable opposition to this appalling practice wherever it occurs, and especially in Pakistan which accounts for more than half of such killings, and also to the oppression of women worldwide generally.

As John Lennon deliberately and pointedly remarked, “Woman is the nigger of the world”. How true.  And as he most appropriately urges: ” Think about it.”

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/VS78MX8Zmdk&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

 

bloodymachete2

 

In another appalling crime which will shock the world, Pakistani police Wednesday were looking for four men believed to have killed a couple and four of their children as retribution for a perceived “honour crime.”

Police officer Mohammed Aslam said the killings happened Tuesday in the town of Athara Hazari in central Pakistan.

Aslam said the men are believed to have hacked the family to death with axes and knives. One daughter, identified by police as Aisha, survived and relayed what happened to authorities. She and the other bodies were found after a man delivering milk to the house noticed that no one was coming to the door, Aslam said.

Astonishingly, and completely inexplicably to Western eyes, Aisha told authorities the killings stemmed from her mother’s first marriage nearly 30 years ago to another man, Aslam said. How can such hatred last for so long? Apparently it is a common cultural feature of life in some societies.

Another police officer, Mian Mohammad, said Ghulam Fatima’s son from her first marriage visited the family a few days ago. He was joined on Tuesday by three more men, who the police say helped him with the crime.

The surviving daughter told authorities that the son said he was taking revenge on her for leaving her first husband.

“It is an incident of honour killing,” said Mohammad.

In Pakistan, leaving one’s husband or marrying against a family’s wishes is extremely rare. Such actions are often perceived as crimes against the family’s honor and the woman can be killed in order to restore the family’s reputation.

Such retribution can be carried out years, even decades later. The killings are rarely prosecuted.

Action to outlaw such murders have frequently failed in the Pakistani parliament. The incidence of honour killings is very difficult to determine and estimates vary widely. In most countries data on honour killings is not collected systematically, and many of these killings are reported by the families as suicides or accidents and registered as such.

Although honour killings are often associated with the Asian continent, especially the Middle East and South Asia, they occur all over the world.

Although men are sometimes victims, the murdered are far more like to be women. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that 5,000 women were victims of honour killings each year. According to BBC, “Women’s advocacy groups, however, suspect that more than 20,000 women are killed worldwide each year.” Murder is not the only form of honour crime, other crimes such as acid attacks, (as we have previously reported), abduction, mutilations, beatings occur; in 2010 the UK police recorded at least 2,823 such crimes.

We do confess, Dear Reader, to occasionally being somewhat impatient with our feminist sisters.

Let’s be clear: we are totally on-side with equality of opportunity. Equal pay. Demolishing the glass ceiling. And freeing women from the need to constantly defend themselves from the appalling ingrained sexism that sees them the victim of unwelcome sexual advances, and worse.

And please note: fruit of one’s loins was sent to learn Taekwondo from the age of 11 to 18. Apart from the fact that Pop Pops will come after you with a machete, we doubt any male would survive assaulting her will leave the scene with their gonads intact.

But women shouldn’t have to become self-defence experts to protect themselves, and anyway, there are some attacks no one could defend themselves against.

 

Reshma before and after

Reshma before and after

 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-acid-attack-survivor-reshma

Like us, you may want to donate to help provide treatment for a much-loved 18 year old Indian girl hideously disfigured by an acid attack in Mumbai.

Her full story is here:

 

India's acid victims still suffer despite new rules

 

India’s acid victims still suffer despite new rules. The Indian teenager’s voice trembles as she recalls the day she lost her face when her brother-in-law and his friends pinned her down and doused her with acid.

Amid the horror of the attack, which followed a family dispute, Reshma Qureshi should have received swift state aid after India’s top court ruled that victims were entitled to 100,000 rupees ($1,600) within 15 days.

But, five months later, she is yet to receive a penny.

“One of my eyes is ruined, yet no help is coming,” the 18-year-old told AFP in her family’s cramped Mumbai tenement, as tears ran down her disfigured face, to which her mother applied cream to soothe the burning.

Acid attacks have long plagued India, often targeting women in public places as a form of revenge linked to dowry or land disputes or a man’s advances spurned.

 

Twenty-year-old Ritu was attacked by her cousin during a dispute over property about two years ago.

 

Those who survive the attacks face lifelong scars and social stigma. Reshma, once a pretty and outgoing commerce student, no longer socialises with friends but lies quietly on the family bed, saying and eating little.

Despite steps taken last year to help wipe out the scourge and improve financial aid for survivors, activists say little has changed.

“Still there’s no awareness on the issue,” said Alok Dixit of the New Delhi-based Stop Acid Attacks campaign group, accusing authorities of “buying time”.

The Supreme Court in July last year gave Indian states three months to enforce restrictions on the sale of acid, but campaigners say it remains easy to purchase.

The court also said victims should get 300,000 rupees in compensation, a third of it within 15 days of the assault.

Dixit said he knew of nobody who had received this initial sum so quickly, while only two in 100 cases had managed to win the full amount.

“People don’t know how to apply for compensation. The authorities don’t know,” he said.

Even if claims were successful, the figure is “not at all enough” for the costly and multiple plastic surgeries required, Dixit added.

 

Laxmi was 15 years old when she was attacked by her brother’s 32-year-old friend after she refused his marriage proposal.

 

Reshma, the adored youngest child of a taxi driver, was attacked in her family’s northern home state of Uttar Pradesh, and the fact that she lives in Mumbai complicates her claim.

Her relatives have clubbed together and taken out loans for her treatment, but doctors have said she may need up to 10 more operations.

Nothing will be alright.

“After that things will be better, but still nothing will be alright,” she said.

Relatives were in tears when the press visited the family home, reached by a steep ladder down a maze of alleyways.

Reshma’s elder sister Gulshan, whose estranged husband carried out the attack, witnessed the assault and suffered burns on her arms, but wishes she had been the main target.

The family believe Reshma was singled out because of her beauty and popularity.

“Reshma is very emotional and she wants to study,” Gulshan said.

While Gulshan’s husband was arrested and jailed, a juvenile in the gang has been freed on bail and two other accomplices remain at large, according to the family.

“The police don’t say anything, they don’t search anything,” said Reshma.

Last year, acid attacks were made a specific criminal offence in India punishable with at least a decade behind bars. But court cases can drag on for years.

Particularly in northern states, “police are not very cooperative and we have heard of cases where they try to get families to change their statement,” said Bhagirath Iyer, a member of the volunteer network “Make Love Not Scars”, which helps victims.

 

A fashion photo shoot featuring five acid attack victims is drawing wide attention in India, where open discussions about violence against woman are drawing attention to a long-ignored public scourge.

 

Crowd funding help

Frustrated with the lack of government aid, activists have meanwhile turned to online crowd funding to help raise funds for acid attack survivors.

“Make Love Not Scars” has set up a campaign on the website Indiegogo for Reshma, who returned to hospital for more treatment on Friday. The immediate target was $2,200, which has been passed, although her overall costs are expected to be much higher.

Iyer said donations usually came from wealthier Indians living abroad, but they were “bombarding” Indian celebrities on Twitter to spread their message.

“Crowdsourcing is possible but you have to market it really hard,” he said, adding that upper middle-class victims often won more attention in the Indian media than those from poorer social backgrounds.

Reshma, who describes her face today as “so scary”, is desperate to finish her treatment and hopeful that she will bring her attackers to justice.

“I want to tell them that they should not be able to do to other girls what they have done to me.”

The campaign site for Reshma can be found at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-acid-attack-survivor-reshma. Please donate; it takes a few seconds, and even a few dollars will make a huge difference to this poor girl and her family.

And to our feminist friends, let us say this. Yes, we know terrible attacks happen to women in Western countries too, but in less developed countries they are far more common, more culturally acceptable, and include, in some places, virtually no communal resistance to rape, lynching, spousal violence, casual murder, stoning, whipping, and more. They mean women cannot work for pay, are virtual slaves in their homes, cannot be educated and may be shot if they say they should be, may not leave home unaccompanied, are forced to wear uncomfortable and restrictive dress, are not allowed the same rights as men to a fair and independent trial, and are frequently jailed or executed for their “crime” of being raped and demanding justice.

The women of ALL the world need feminists from ALL OVER THE WORLD to campaign on their behalf. Now.

If you want to know why, watch this:

 

#itsagirlthing

 

The Pope has given his blessing to breastfeeding.

Telling a Vatican website that he encouraged a young mother to breastfeed her baby he said:

“There was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few month s old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it.

I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied.

“Please give it something to eat!” I said.

She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!”

The Pope kisses the feet of a drug-addicted youth. Quite a remarkable man: score one for the Holy Spirit.

The Pope kisses the feet of a drug-addicted youth. Quite a remarkable man: score one for the Holy Spirit.

"I was taken out of context." Yeah, right.

“I was taken out of context.” Yeah, right.

From the Rachel Maddow blog:

Radical TV preacher Pat Robertson has made a career out of making ridiculous comments, but yesterday, the televangelist broke new ground on his own Christian Broadcasting Network.

For those who can’t watch clips online (or if this clip is removed from YouTube before I can find a replacement), Right Wing Watch spotted a doozy: Robertson told his viewers that that gay men in cities like San Francisco attempt to spread HIV/AIDS to others by cutting them with a special ring when shaking hands.

Co-host Terry Meeuwsen seemed to want to move the conversation along, but Robertson stuck to his crazy guns. “You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” the TV preacher said.

“Really?” Meeuwsen asked, incredulously. “Yes, really,” Robertson replied.

And while the televangelist’s over-the-top rhetoric is painfully common, this one was especially interesting because of what happened next.

After Robertson’s comments were aired, the Christian Broadcasting Network posted the episode online — but edited out this portion of the program.

In other words, Robertson’s anti-gay hysteria was so ridiculous, even his own network was reluctant to allow people to see it. Indeed, CBN even forced YouTube to take down the clip posted by Right Wing Watch. (It was re-posted by many others, including the version included above.)

Robertson really shouldn’t say things on national television if he doesn’t want people to see them.

When The Atlantic asked for comment, Robertson said he “regret[s] that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said.” He added, “In no wise [sic] were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.”

There is no context in which it makes sense to accuse gay people in San Francisco of deliberately cutting others in the hopes of deliberately spreading the AIDS virus.

Robertson’s remarkably active imagination notwithstanding, there is no evidence to bolster his assertions.

Ends …

Senile? Barmy? Waste of useful oxygen? You tell us, Dear Reader. What is MOST worrying is people listen to this nonsense every day, and repeat it as if it is fact. In a week when a transgender woman was beaten to death outside a police station merely for wanting to be who she is, provoking the usual wail of ‘why are people like this?’ the answer is ‘people are like this because they are constantly fed rubbish from those who should know better’.

Rubbish? Spend a moment and consider some of Robertson’s other equally cautiously considered statements:

He wishes, for example, that Facebook had a ‘vomit’ button, so that he could click on it every time he came across a photograph of a gay couple kissing. (Why is he looking? Ed.) Anyhow, a viewer wanted to know how to address images of same-sex couples on social media sites, such as Facebook.

Robertson commented “You’ve got a couple of same-sex guys kissing, do you like that? Well that makes me want to throw up,” he said.

“To me I would punch ‘Vomit;’ not ‘Like,'” he added “But they don’t give you that option on Facebook.”

That was not the first time Robertson, 83, has used vomit to express his sentiments on homosexuality.

Robertson has also said the land would “vomit out” those who disobeyed the commandments of the Old Testament.

Here are some more controversial and colorful comments the “evangelist” has made that have gone viral:

To a man whose wife does not respect him as ‘head of the household”

Robertson  answered a question from a viewer named Michael about how to repair his marriage.

Robertson’s response: “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.”

Think I’m kidding?

Loathsome.

In case you cant see the video, bizarrely, this comment elicits laughter from Robertson’s co-host, Terry Meeuwsen.

Unfortunately, Robertson didn’t stop there.

“I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done to make her.”

He also called the woman a “rebellious child” who doesn’t want to “submit to any authority.” However, since the Scripture doesn’t allow for divorce, Robertson urged the husband to “move to Saudi Arabia,” where, ostensibly, presumably, beating the woman would be permissible.

To a woman whose husband committed adultery

“Males have a tendency to wander a little bit. And what you want to do is make a home so wonderful he doesn’t want to wander.”

(Hang on, no stoning? Ed.)

On a man with an Alzheimer’s-stricken wife

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care and somebody (is) looking after her.”

Asked what about the “Till death do us part” part of the marriage vow, he said Alzheimer’s is “a kind of death.”

On Walt Disney World’s “Gay Days”

“I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs; it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”

On the role of a man and a woman

“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household, and the husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.”

On feminism

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

On why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke

“God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.’ God says, ‘This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'”

(Not because he was a fat old guy under considerable stress, of course. Ed.)

On the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake

“They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story.

And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

On homosexuality

“Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists. Many were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.”

On assassinating Hugo Chavez

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

On the tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest in 2012

“If enough people were praying, (God) would’ve intervened. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You can still storms.”

playtimeIn my opinion this man is about as Christian as a housebrick, and as soon as he is gathered unto his Maker, which really can’t be all that far way now now, thank goodness, he will be going straight to his eternal reward, which, incidentally, will be to a loud and persistent soundtrack of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Robertson is in mo way a minor person, so far on the fringe that he can be idly ignored. In September 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

He said he would pursue the nomination only if three million people signed up to volunteer for his campaign by September 1987. Somewhat astoundingly 9and worryingly) three million responded, and by the time Robertson announced he would be running in September 1987, he also had raised millions of dollars for his campaign fund. He surrendered his ministerial credentials and turned leadership of CBN over to his son, Tim.

Robertson ran on a oft-adopted radical right platform. Among his policies, he wanted to ban pornography, reform the education system, and eliminate departments such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. He also supported a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

His campaign got off to a strong second-place finish in the Iowa caucus, ahead of George Bush Snr. He did poorly in the subsequent New Hampshire primary, however, and was unable to be competitive once the multiple-state primaries began. Subjected to the oxygen of publicity, Robertson ended his campaign before the primaries were finished. His best finish was in Washington, winning the majority of caucus delegates. He later spoke at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans and told his remaining supporters to cast their votes for Bush, who ended up winning the nomination and the election. He then returned to CBN and has remained there.

He appears to be – on many levels – a thoroughly horrible individual.

Of the time he spent at Washington and Lee University, where he received a B.A. in History, graduating magna cum laude. Robertson has said, “Although I worked hard at my studies, my real major centered around lovely young ladies who attended the nearby girls schools.” Ah yes, the gals. Nice.

In 1948, the draft was reinstated and Robertson was given the option of joining the Marine Corps or being drafted into the army; he opted for the first.

In his words, “We did long, gruelling marches to toughen the men, plus refresher training in firearms and bayonet combat.” In the same year, he transferred to Korea.

“I ended up at the headquarters command of the First Marine Division,” said Robertson. “The Division was in combat in the hot and dusty, then bitterly cold portion of North Korea just above the 38th Parallel later identified as the ‘Punchbowl’ and ‘Heartbreak Ridge.’ For that service in the Korean War, the Marine Corps awarded me three battle stars for ‘action against the enemy.'”

However, former Republican Congressman Paul “Pete” McCloskey, Jr., who served with Robertson in Korea, wrote a public letter which said that Robertson was actually spared combat duty when his powerful father, a conservative Democrat U.S. Senator, intervened on his behalf, and that Robertson spent most of his time in an office in Japan.

According to McCloskey, his time in the service was not in combat but as the “liquor officer” responsible for keeping the officers’ clubs supplied with liquor. Robertson filed a $35 million libel suit against McCloskey in 1986.* He dropped the case in 1988, before it came to trial and paid McCloskey’s court costs.

*”Evangelist sues over combat story”. The Globe and Mail. (Toronto, Ont.). October 23, 1986. p. A.16.

**”Rpbertson’s libel suit by judge ex congressman ruled the legal victor” Philadelphia Daily News. March 7, 1988. p. 14.

Pete McCloskey

Pete McCloskey

By the way, McClosky is himself an interesting man, warranting more than a footnote in American political history. One of McCloskey’s enduring legacies is his co-authorship of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. A highly decorated war veteran and one-time moderate Republican turned Democrat, he was the first member of Congress to publicly call for the impeachment of President Nixon after the Watergate scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre. He was also the first lawmaker to call for a repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed for the War in Vietnam.

He had sought the 1972 Republican Presidential nomination on a pro-peace/anti-Vietnam War platform, and obtained 11% of the vote against incumbent President Richard M. Nixon in the New Hampshire primary. At the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Rep. McCloskey received one vote (out of 1324) from a New Mexico delegate. All other votes cast went to President Nixon, thus McCloskey technically finished in second place in the race for the Presidential nomination that year.

Anyway. Never did two more more vividly demonstrate the ‘broad church’ that is the American Republican Party. Or as I prefer to categorise it, the divide between those worth listening to, and those who should be flung into the outer darkness by some avenging angel.

For reasons which elude us, Dear Reader, the irony of a bunch of women burning their bras while, er, wearing bras, was lost on this group of 1970s women. Oh, the humanity of it all.

For reasons which elude us, Dear Reader, the irony of a bunch of women burning their bras while, er, wearing bras, was lost on this group of 1970s women. Oh, the humanity of it all.

A study involving 330 women aged 18 to 35 has concluded that, “medically, physiologically, and anatomically,” breasts are not benefiting from the near-constant wearing of bras. That’s to say that, according to this study, women who didn’t wear a bra regularly actually experienced less “sagging” over time, greater comfort, and less back pain. Wait, what?

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez takes the campaign to the streets, suitably protected.

As you’ve probably noticed, this story is causing quite a stir on the internet, with many people not buying the research.

Here to add to the debate is Dr. Stafford Broumand, a plastic surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Says Broumand: “On the surface, this claim seems plausible. For younger women, not wearing a bra will lead to increased collagen production and elasticity, which improves lift in a developing breast.

Also, tension on the connective tissue and ligaments supporting the breast can be beneficial to prevent sagging.”

But, according to Dr. Broumand, the same is not true of older or pregnant women because that collagen and supportive tissue is going away no matter what — a bra provides the necessary support that your bust has lost with age.

As blog Refinery 29 notes: “We all love our bras — and while you might have originally signed on because your mom politely suggested things were getting, er, out of hand, chances are now you’re in it for the lace, the frills, the fancy patterns, and colors that look great under your favorite sheer blouse. But did you ever consider what your lovely lingerie is doing to your health? No? Well, that’s what science is for.

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan demonstrates that contrary to scurrilous assertions to the contrary, she cares very much about her health.

A study involving 330 women aged 18 to 35 has concluded that, “medically, physiologically, and anatomically,” breasts are not benefiting from the near-constant wearing of bras. That’s to say that, according to this study, women who didn’t wear a bra regularly actually experienced less “sagging” over time, greater comfort, and less back pain. Wait, what?

“If a woman begins wearing a bra from the moment breasts appear, the suspension muscles don’t work correctly, and tissues slacken,” explains a Mr. Rouillon, who oversaw the study.

So, it’s essentially an issue of dependence, in his view.

But, he notes, this is still a very preliminary study and not representative of women in general.

Women have ditched their bras in the past in the name of liberation, (see above), but will the trend now come back around under the guise of health and beauty? Frankly, we’re not so sure a bra is going to make a huge difference either way when it comes to your aged bosom, and certainly many women start wearing bras specifically to avoid back pain.

Well, for now, Refinery 29 is healthily sceptical. But I suspect, especially for young women, there may be some wise knowledge in this.

After all, if breasts are supported daily from the moment of their appearance, then it makes sense that the body doesn’t bother holding the breasts up for itself.

What Wellthisiswhatithink wants now is a study to see if women who discarded their bras (at least for a while) in the 70s have, er, less gravitational impact than women who wore them all the way through. They wouldn’t have been involved in this study, and frankly, we think the people should be told.

Meanwhile, we stress that our interest in seeing young women spending periods not wearing a bra is, er, purely out of an unselfish interest in their long-term health outcomes. Honest.

And don’t shoot the messenger. Our role is merely to report fearlessly.

Meanwhile, in related news, apparently smoking can make your nipples fall off – this is the astonishing claim by Dr Anthony Youn, one of American’s top plastic surgeons.

The practitioner from Detroit, Michigan, was quick to point out this applied to patients who underwent breast lifts to perk up their chests. He said the nicotine and carbon monoxide taken in during smoking can disrupt blood flow to different parts of the body and so disrupts the healing process following surgery.

The toxins can act as a ‘virtual tourniquet’ and effectively kill a body part by stopping blood from reaching it.

nipple bra

The perfect solution if you smoked after your breast implant. Sadly the product came and went in the 70s. In those days, presumably, it was so you could join your sistahs in demonstrating bra-less freedom while, er, still wearing a bra. Honestly, who knows? Anyone remember?

Speaking to CNN Health, Dr Youn said: ‘I cringe every time I see a patient for a breast lift who is a smoker.

‘I’m deathly afraid that despite my warnings, she will smoke before or after surgery and cause her nipples to turn black and fall off.

‘I’ve seen it before,’ he claimed.

Dr Youn said he treated one female smoker whose nipples had turned purple after smoking caused the tiny veins in the breast to fail, leading to a backup of old blood. Left untreated they could have turned black and fallen off.

He had to resort to using leeches over several days to suck out the old blood and so restore the woman’s nipples to a healthy pink.

He told CNN he now made sure all of his patients understood the dire outcomes that could result from smoking following a cosmetic operation.

‘If you are having a breast lift or reduction and you smoke, your nipples could turn black and fall off. If you are having a tummy tuck and you smoke, you may get an infection resulting in a big gross open wound that will take three months to heal.”

Crikey. Ladies, you have been warned.

Meanwhile, Wellthisiswhatithink has a courteous word of advice for all women.

Remember, 99% of men (or women so inclined) will love your breasts whether they are big, small, somewhere in between, pointy, point-less, looking up, looking down, sideways, inwards, outwards, one bigger than another … etc. etc.

It’s always a privilege if we get to see them, and we will be happy. There’s a reason that in moments of brazen cheeriness people have been known to call them “fun bags”. Please, relax. Just do what works for you. We are content.

But don’t smoke. That’s horrid.

In a case which starkly highlights yet again the plight of women in developing societies, a 17-year-old Indian girl who was gang-raped committed suicide after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers, police and a relative said on Thursday.

Amid the ongoing riots and uproar over the gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi earlier this month, the latest case has again shone a harsh spotlight on the police’s handling of sex crimes.

One police officer has been sacked and another suspended over their conduct after the assault during the festival of Diwali on November 13 in the Patiala region in the Punjab, according to officials.

The teenager was found dead on Wednesday night after swallowing poison.

Inspector General Paramjit Singh Gill said that the teenager had been “running from pillar to post to get her case registered” but officers failed to open a formal inquiry.

“One of the officers tried to convince her to withdraw the case,” Gill, the police chief for the area, told AFP.

Before her death, there had been no arrests over her case although three people were detained on Thursday. Two of them were her alleged male attackers and the third was a suspected woman accomplice.

The victim’s sister told Indian television that the teenager had been urged to either accept a cash settlement or marry one of her attackers.

“The police started pressuring her to either reach a financial settlement with her attackers or marry one of them,” her sister told the NDTV network.

Meanwhile, the Press Trust of India reported that a police officer has been suspended for allegedly refusing to register a rape complaint in the northern state of Chhattisgar.

The woman and her husband later brought the case to the attention of a more senior officer and a hunt has now been launched for her attacker, an auto rickshaw driver.

Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women.

The real figure is thought to be much higher as so many women are reluctant to report attacks to the police.

During an address to the chief ministers of India’s states on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to bring in new laws to cover attacks on women.

Pressure from feminists all over the world would assist Governments who seek to drag their male-dominated societies kicking and screaming into the 21st century. We need to make far faster progress throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and many places in Africa, in particular.

no_means_no_womens_t

And just for the record, rape is NEVER – under any circumstances – the fault of the victim. Whoever we are. Wherever we go. Yes means Yes. And No means No. Find this and other radical and feminist shirts at www.cafepress.com/yolly.

 

As you will see from the page I have linked to below, there is a growing movement in Canada and America to persuade people to stop buying crap for the sake of it. Indeed, frankly, to get out of the habit of buying stuff at all.

http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd

The campaign has received worldwide coverage on CNN, Al Jazeera and others. It is, essentially, an anti-consumption movement highlighting the deleterious global economic and ecological effects of consumerism. You can get the message by watching this little ad.

The anti-consumerist message has grown out of both the Occupy movement, which seeks to take back control of the narrative (and actions) of our society from big business and government, and also the ecological movement, the “think Green” or “think Small” thread which has been running now since about the later 60s or 70s.

Instinctively I think this is right. Which is why, on 26th November, which is “World” Buy Nothing Day, my 24th Wedding Anniversary gift to my wife will be to draw her my own greetings card, and give her nothing bought from a shop. I will, instead, dig the garden and cut her some roses, or do some extra housework, or cook her a lovely meal, or take her out for a nice long ramble somewhere we’ve never been before. And I know she will understand and approve, which is probably why we’ve managed to stay married for 24 years.

But my real problem is, I work in an industry which is dedicated to increasing consumerism, while being personally convinced that its effects are toxic. Not just to the planet, but also to people’s lives.

Is this really what we hope for ourselves and our children?

My problem is this. At one and the same time I can believe – sincerely – that advertising is a good thing because it promotes freedom of choice and informed populations, just as I simultaneously weep that it encourages us all to put value on things that are essentially unnecessary or value-less.

Stuff.

We all spend money on stuff we don’t really need, because we are encouraged relentlessly to do so. We are told, repeatedly, that the world judges us by how much stuff we have accumulated, and even though we don’t really believe it, we keep on accumulating just in case. We don’t really believe in the Joneses looking over our back fence, but we check for them from under hooded eyelids anyway.

And it’s not just a rich Western phenomenon. As soon as developing populations get wealthy enough, they enthusiastically show signs of the same sickness. It’s a combination of innate human greed and mass media manipulation, and it worries me deeply.

I don’t want consumerism to end, per se.

I am, on balance, a “growth” believer not a “no-growth” believer.

It’s easy in the West, for example, to sneer at consumerism but ignore the fact that much of the stuff we buy is now made by poorer people overseas, and if we didn’t buy it they’d be even poorer than they are. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that the rest of the world wants TV sets and air conditioning and motor cars, and transferring our wealth (accumulated over centuries of colonial exploitation) to their societies is one way to redress the imbalance of wealth in the world.

What the f*** happened? Why, WE happened, Barney. We happened.

But then as we do that, they become trapped in the same unsatisfying cycle of consumerism that has us in its thrall, and one day the whole planet will be rich consumers and then there won’t be any planet left to divvy up, and we will all sit around and look at each other confused and in mutual recrimination.

The answer, I believe, and it is a messy and slow and inadequate answer, is to prevail on private industry – through intelligent, thoughtful public pressure – and government pressure, acting as our representatives – to ensure that private business takes into account legitimate ecological fears, in particular, that they might not otherwise consider.

Just as we no longer produce lead-painted toys for children to lick, so we need to insist that those who feed our addiction to stuff do so with maximum thought about wise energy use, recyclable materials, smart technologies that have a lighter footprint on the planet, and labour and capital practices in developing countries that sees reinvestment in things they badly need, like decent housing, clean water, health care, and sustainable agriculture. And if they don’t, some sort of sanction is needed to ensure they do.

At the same time, we need to persuade consumers in the West to think more globally about the choices they make.

Hamilton Island Sailing by Jenie Yolland

We’re lucky: we’re rich. Maybe we can afford just a little more to buy a high-quality – read long-lasting – handmade item from around the corner, rather than just buy the cheapest possible item manufactured on a production line in India or China.

The result will be both to support local craftspeople and also to encourage overseas suppliers to up their game. Like, er, you could choose handmade beautiful glassware from my wife.

(Blatant plug going out to millions of Wellthisiwhatithink readers, please add that to your wedding anniversary gifts, darling.)

And we need to persuade Westerners to invest in people, rather than just in things, as ways to show our love for our folks back home. Such as giving the gift of food, books and education, technology support, medicine – or even just clean water – to overseas communities in lieu of just buying more crap every time.

Every now and then, as I wrote about a few days ago on World Toilet Day, I buy clean water for an overseas community and give a card with that message in to my gift recipient at home. It’s always appreciated.

And I know that my gift really is the gift that keeps on giving, to people for whom the basics of life are denied without our help.

Years ago, I was in South Africa soon after the ANC government first came to power.

As we sat drinking sundowners at our immaculately manicured whiteman’s house in a delightful English cottage garden, which required watering liberally every day, I watched a long line of Zulu women walking back along the dusty path by the house to their nearby village, singing to encourage themselves as they swung their arms in time to their song.

On their heads were red earthenware pots filled with water drawn from the nearby river.

Trust me when I tell you, these pots were so large and so heavy – empty – that you would have struggled to lift them, let alone walk along, seemingly unperturbed, with them full of gallons of precious water balanced on your head.

Their stoic dignity affected me greatly, and still does to this day.

They would perform this trek (how ironic that “trek” is a word so associated with the white Afrikaaner Boers) twice a day. Once before dawn, once before the evening meal.

The next day, I was privileged to be granted a discussion with a newly appointed ANC government official in Durban, the mother of an old family friend, and we spent much of the hour she graciously gave me talking about water.

She kindly and politely listened to my community politics experience from the UK and Australia, and then put it in the context of a society where maybe a third of the 35 million or so black people did not have access to running water.

We discussed the women with their pots and she sighed deeply. “Imagine the difference it would make”, she said to me, “imagine what it would mean as a feminist issue, if just one tap was centrally installed in their village, or one well dug”.

She made a note of the location on a pad. But she was overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the work to be completed.

“We don’t have roads to lots of these places,” she explained.

“No doctors. The homes are little more than corrugated iron sheets, and it gets damned hot. People don’t sleep properly. Do people think black people don’t feel the heat? Preventable disease is rife. The people can’t fix things up for themselves because in some communities unemployment is 100%.”

She looked at me directly. “I am damn glad the world stood up to the apartheid regime on our behalf, but now is when we need the help. We got rid of the Nationals; where is the help we need now?

It would be such a great start, you know, if those women didn’t have to walk there and back every day.”

As I left, her exquisitely beautiful young Zulu receptionist smiled at me with a sudden flash of impossibly white teeth, and shyly said “It must be nice in Australia, eh? I’d love to be in Australia. No money here.”

Yes, yes. Yes it is. It is nice to be in Australia. It’s so nice, I really don’t need anything else to make it any nicer, except maybe another few productive years and good health, please God. And that’s why, on Monday, I’ll be giving someone else that I dont know some water to thank my wife for 24 years of support. Because an ad guy persuaded me I shouldn’t buy my wife a gift she doesn’t really want or need, and another ad guy then reminded me I need to keep giving away water.

And I’ll try and feel better about myself, and my life, and my industry. You can too. Click the link.

Make it “Buy Something That Matters Day”.

http://www.charitywater.org/