Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

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.

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.

At least 5,000 women are subject to honour killings every year, although it may be many more.

At least 5,000 women are subject to honour killings every year, although it may be many more.

A Turkish mother, 36, shot dead her daughter, 17, after finding out that she was three months pregnant, media reports said on Saturday.

The mother, named as Emine A., found out that her daughter Meryem A. was pregnant during a visit to neighbours, the Hurriyet daily reported.

She then went back home to find a gun and returned to shoot her daughter — who worked as a cashier in a market — five times, it said.

Bystanders outside the apartment block in the Selcuk district of the southern city of Nigde rushed to help and took Meryem to hospital but she died on the way.

The mother was detained by police but then had a nervous collapse and was hospitalised. The investigation is continuing.

Turkish authorities acknowledge there is a grave problem of violence against women in the country, although the vast majority of cases involving attacks perpetrated by men.

According to the non-governmental Platform to Stop Violence Against Women, 286 women were murdered in Turkey in 2014 and 134 so far in 2015.

(From AFP)

 

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>

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

 

In the very recent past, Dear Reader, we have been vocal about the right of Muslim women to wear whatever they want. And to be free from abuse or violence for doing so.

This is in recognition of the facts of basic civil liberties, and of religious respect.

We don’t abuse Jews for wearing the kippah, do we? Many religions that originated in the middle east proffer wearing a head covering as a mark of respect to God, the idea being that something then separates man or woman from God – a physical barrier signifying a spiritual relationship. Within living memory, women typically wore a hat when attending Church. Many Christian groups … the Amish, for example, or various eastern European orthodox groups … wear hats habitually, and/or headscarves for women that look pretty much exactly the same as the hijab of Muslim women.

We are not entirely sure why historically men didn’t used to wear hats in Christian Churches, although we can guess. Patriarchy is a powerful and persistent force in society. It co-opts any excuse to place women in a slightly different position to men, and usually inferior.

 

Note this graphic is called "Muslim headgear" and then goes on to say that the religion doesn't mandate some of it. A classic example of the confusion surrounding this issue. In any event, this is a helpful graphic for those wanting to understand the names of the various pieces of clothing.

Note this graphic is called “Muslim headgear” and then goes on to say (with the Chador, for example) that the religion actually doesn’t mandate it. A classic example of the confusion surrounding this issue. In any event, this is a helpful graphic for those wanting to understand the names of the various pieces of clothing being discussed in the media.

 

The key point being that it is not only religion that dictates the clothing issue, it is culture. Religion is frequently co-opted to justify cultural norms. In fact, the religious norm that is frequently promoted is that somehow a woman’s eyes, face or body are inherently sinful, and likely to excite men to behave inappropriately. Or in other words, blaming half the species for the other half of the species’s inability to control itself.

The same logic used to lead the Victorians to cover the legs of grand pianos with cloths because they were too reminiscent of – horror! – womens’ shapely legs.

What we cannot understand is why so many on the left of politics will not tackle the issue of the burqa – the all body and head covering where the woman must look out from behind a grill or flap of cloth that emanates from Afghanistan – which has NOTHING to do with religion.

But it has everything to do we male patriarchy and bullying. If you doubt that assertion, try being an uncovered woman walking the streets of “liberated” Afghanistan if you agree. You might get away with it in parts of Kabul, in the rest of the country you will be abused, beaten or worse. The same is true of some areas (mainly in the country) in other states.

 

We think demanding women wear particular clothing in public is morally wrong, wherever the demand comes from. In Islamabad, for example, any woman attending the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca must now wear the burqua. Are we racists for saying we don't think women should be forced to wear a particular item of clothing to be allowed to be seen in public? We don't think so.

We think insisting that women wear particular clothing in public is morally wrong, wherever the demand comes from. It is the INSISTENCE we think is wrong, not the wearing of the item, whatever we may think of it. In Islamabad, for example, any woman attending the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca must now wear the burqua. Are we racists or culturally insensitive for saying we don’t think women should be forced to wear a particular item of clothing to be allowed to be seen in public? We don’t think so.

 

Here’s the question: in order to be “accepting” of people’s freedoms, why do we in the West (or in secular Muslim countries in the Middle East or Asia, for that matter) have to accept all cultural constructs as equally valid?

As an extreme example to make a point, we wouldn’t accept the right of some isolated rainforest tribe to continue with cannibalism after they came in contact with modern society … would we?

The burqa is medieval, and inappropriate in any society, let alone a pluralist Western one. We should be making that case strongly and sincerely to men (in particular) in our communities that originate in that area, and we should be encouraging women to speak up for themselves if they do not wish to wear it, if they can do so safely. The very fact that we have to add “if they can do so safely” makes the point, does it not?

Meanwhile, bleeding heart liberals and ignorant commentators continue to conflate religion and culture as if they were the same thing. They are not. We should be doing everything in our power to convince everyone in the world that our modern, feminist view of the role and presentation of women is the right model for women and for society as a whole.

Remember the same patriarchal cultural constructs that lead to the burqa in Afghanistan also result in the disgrace of honour killings (which are, by the way, most emphatically not limited to Muslims), to stonings of women accused of adultery (frequently as a way to get rid of an unwanted wife), to a persistent likelihood of being raped (or worse) merely for walking outside unaccompanied by a male, and also the savagery of female circumcision. Or as it should be called, female genital mutilation.

And yes: what should also be said is that virtually no women in Australia wear the burqa, and relatively few in Europe or America, too, although it is seen in pockets of cities with large numbers of immigrants from the areas where it is de rigeur. And yes, therefore, talking about it endlessly nowadays is part of a generalised distrust of “the other”, and at the moment, the “other” that concerns us most is Muslims, sadly.

But as we’re talking about it, we may as well talk about it. Or perhaps we approve of societies where women are banned from driving? That’s not in the Holy Koran, either.

 

stoning

In case anyone was wondering what the nature of the extreme Islamist groups running the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)” are like, reports are emerging that they just stoned to death a young Syrian girl for membership of the Facebook social network.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Arabic: الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام‎ ad-Dawla al-Islāmiyya fi al-‘Irāq wa-sh-Shām), abbreviated as ISIS, is an armed resistance group active in Iraq and Syria. It was established in the early years of the Iraq War, and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004, becoming known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq”. The group was composed of and supported by a variety of insurgent groups, including its predecessor organisation, the Mujahideen Shura Council, Al-QaedaJaysh al-FatiheenJund al-SahabaKatbiyan Ansar Al-Tawhid wal SunnahJeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, etc., and other clans whose population is of Sunni faith. It aimed to establish a caliphate in the Sunni majority populated regions of Iraq, later expanding this to include Syria.

In an unprecedented move in February 2014, al-Qaeda cut off all ties to the ISIS. The new generation of radicals appear too extreme even for what has hitherto been considered the world’s most extreme terrorist organisation.

The ISIL militants took the Syrian girl, Fatoum Al-Jassem, to Al-Reqqa religious court and the judge ruled that membership in Facebook is tantamount to adultery and sentenced her to death by stoning, the Iranian news agency FNA reported on February 12 quoting the Arabic news and opinion website Al-Rai Al-Youm.

ISIL, an Iraq-based militant group, is now fighting against Syrian government. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organised attacks by well-armed terrorists and militants against the Syrian army and civilians across the country.

Thousands of people have been killed since terrorist and armed groups turned protest rallies into armed clashes.

The Syrian Government – also one of the most murderous regimes anywhere in the world – blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

What is also certain, however, is that some of the groups fighting them make the cure look worse than the illness. How ironic, too, that the Syrian rebel forces are being armed by the West, and that many of those arms are now in the hands of groups like ISIL, which wages war against the West relentlessly in other countries.

syria-strangling

Alleged strangling of a young woman in Manbij, Aleppo

Ironically, rebel groups frequently make full use of social media including Facebook to publicise their beliefs and actions. YouTube is full of scenes of beheadings and, in one particularly tragic case allegedly involving ISIS, that came to light about two days ago, the unverified murder by strangulation with wire of a young woman who refused to agree with the prevailing philosophy of the group. We forced ourselves to watch the video out of respect to the woman concerned. If a death is not witnessed, the murderers live on with impunity.

As Syria lurches yet deeper into violence as the peace talks stumble, the West needs to choose its allies with great care, and a long view.

The image at the head of this article is a scene from the movie The Stoning of Soraya M. The movie makes horrendous viewing, but is strongly recommended, to understand how cultural influences rob innocent women in many situations of even the most basic human rights, condemning them to horrific deaths.

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 am indebted yet again to a contact made through social media for this fascinating discussion of both the need for, and the experience of, writing literature that uses strong female role models as the central character.

One of the most common complaints from women actors, for example, is the dearth of strongly-written roles, especially for older women. I wish Phyllis enormous good luck with her novel – and note, one of her books Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel is currently available as a FREE download for Kindle at Amazon

I am very impressed by all those women – and men supporting them – who have spent decades patiently chipping away at the ridiculous attitudes and barriers that deserve to be buried deep in the past. It is not the grand gestures or major campaigns that ultimately change the world, it is the work of individuals, talking person by person, sticking to their truth, demonstrating by example, that make change happen.

Today’s guest blogger: Phyllis Zimbler-Miller

“I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s in a small Midwestern town northwest of Chicago.  The only professional women I knew was one woman doctor who was generally considered somewhat crazy.  (Remember, these are memories – absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.)

I do recall in seventh grade choosing the foreign service as a career path about which to write a report.  Of course, I did not realize at the time that such a career path, besides a secretarial position, was not open to women.

As a newspaper journalist in Philadelphia in the early ’70s I became aware of how even respectable newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal were somewhat derogatory towards women.  In fact, I had quite a collection of examples of such “put downs.”

Then in the mid-70s I taught newswriting courses at Temple University Center City.  In order to get my students to write about women in the same way as my students wrote about men, I first had to do “sensitivity” training about women.  Literally, I had to convince both the women and the men in my courses that women were equal to men.

During this period the Equal Rights Amendment was being voted on by state legislatures.  I had the fearsome experience of being present at a taped debate in 1976 between Phyllis Schlafly (see below) and the women’s group NOW (the National Organization for Women, founded in 1966).

From Wikipedia:

“The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification. The ERA failed to receive the requisite number of ratifications before the final deadline mandated by Congress of June 30, 1982 expired, and so it was not adopted, largely because Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservatives to oppose the ERA.”

One of my accomplishments at the weekly newspaper at which I was an editor and reporter was to get the right for women to have their own name in their obituaries.  Until then a woman, for example, was Mrs. John Smith (nee White) and her first name was never mentioned.

Then around the time I started at The Wharton School to get an MBA, I had a “Women In Business” column in the Philadelphia Bulletin – at the time one of the two major Philadelphia newspapers.  I wrote on such topics as business suits now being available for women.   Yes, that was actually big news!

At Wharton I remember walking through the snow to the job interview center wearing boots with my skirt (no pants).  But when I got to the center I had to change into pumps.

Years later, when my husband Mitch and I started writing screenplays together, we wrote strong female characters because we both believe that fictional characters are often role models for people.

(In fact, in the early ‘90s I tried to convince people in Hollywood to portray safer sex scenes in films in order to encourage teens to follow the example of movie stars.  Unfortunately, this was not one of my successful projects.)

In the case of Mitch’s and my screenplay LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, we wanted to explore what it would be like for the first woman officer on a U.S. submarine.

We did a great deal of research for the story, and the screenplay was a 2005 Nicholls Fellowship quarter-finalist – the contest sponsored by the same organisation that puts on the Oscars.

We then wrote a prequel to the screenplay, A NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK.  Finally, I decided to combine the two screenplays into a novel because Mitch and I really like the character of Mollie Sanders.

Phyllis’s book – why not download one of her novels for free if you own a Kindle? (See above.) If not, just buy a copy of this one 🙂

In retrospect, if I had known the antagonism that the book would get from certain quarters against a strong female character, perhaps I would not have adapted the two screenplays into a novel!

If you read the positive and negative comments that the thriller gets on Amazon, you will see that in many cases the character of LCRD Sanders is held to a different FICTIONAL standard than a male lt. commander would have been.

In addition, some people comment that a lt. commander is a low rank when, in fact, in the U.S. Navy it is equivalent to a major in the U.S. Army.  Apparently people see the “lt.” and miss “commander.”

Other people insist a fictional character could not do what she does.  But she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, has a degree in the work she does for the Navy, and by her own admission she tries harder than the men around her!

On the other hand, there are both men and women who write reviews praising her as a fictional character.  I must admit, though, that I wasn’t prepared for the controversy over what is, after all, a fictional character.

Basically, I am saying that, just as there is still not equality for women in real life, there is apparently not equality for women in fictional life!

Oh, well, it is not for lack of my trying!”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON.  She is also the co-founder of the online marketing company Miller Mosaic LLC.  You can check out her Amazon Author Central profile at http://www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller

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.

 

Rona Shafia, 52, left and Sahar Shafia, 17, in a photo recovered from Sahar's cellphone, taken June 26, 2009 while the Shafia family was in Niagara Falls. This photo is a released exhibit from trial of Mohammad Shafia, 56, his second wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 39, and their son Hamed Shafia, 18 who were convicted of four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Rona and Sahar, and also Zainab Shafia, 19, and Geeti Shafia, who was just 13 years old.

A recent case in Canada when a father, his wife and their son were convicted of the so-called “Honour” killing of his other (childless) wife (in a polygamous marriage) and three of the convicted couple’s daughters has galvanised the blogosphere and news outlets with the unimaginable, surreal horror of the event. The murderers have each been jailed for 25 years, the maximum available under Canadian law.

Despite many arguments to the contrary, (and they are easy enough to find on the internet), it would therefore be timely to note, as blogger “Morale Outrage” points out in the article “Honor killings are murder not an Islamic teaching” – which I reproduce below – that this is a cultural phenomenon, and not a religious one.

Zainab

Zainab

This is not to excuse such appalling behaviour, merely to ensure that it does not fuel any further the already poisonous atmosphere between Islam and the “West”, whether by that we mean Christian opinion or secular.

What is most worrying to me is that, in the West at least, we are clearly failing to protect women from this miserable, cowardly violence.

As this story shows, the future murders of the wife and children concerned were well-flagged during an appeal to police for help.

http://www.canada.com/life/Shafia+trial+hears+call+about+threats+beatings/5750419/story.html

The court also heard that Geeti tried to seek help from teachers and child protection authorities, complaining of verbal, emotional and physical abuse at home.

In addition, child protection agencies now admit they failed the children and their mother. TV coverage and commentary here: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2012/02/20120201-150647.html

This is an increasing problem in the West as we welcome some highly traditional migrant families from these areas. At the very least, we need to provide safe refuge for these innocents and ruthlessly prosecute those within their families who threaten them. We also need to understand that it can take incredible courage for young, vulnerable people to make a complaint, and that they may well recant their stories under pressure or out of simple fear, and that once they have raised the issue of in-family violence they must be taken seriously.

Needless to say, the case, and others like it, has provoked an outpouring of opinion.

Language obscures core issue, says expert

Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said the language around the Shafia verdict is distracting from the basic fact that four women were murdered.

Instead, she prefers the idea that the deaths were “femicide”.

“Femicide just simply means the killing of women and girls just because they’re women and girls,” she told CTV News Channel on Monday. The term stems from the patriarchal idea that men are the guardians of women and can “do with them as they see fit”, Hogben said.

She said Canadians should stop focusing on the deaths as honour killings “because that makes it kind of exotic and different and therefore does not include them with all of us as Canadian women.”

By viewing the deaths as a female issue, not only that implies ties to any specific cultural group, Hogben said Canadians can focus on how to protect women in the future.

The Government reaction

But Rona Ambrose, Minister for Status of Women, told CTV’s Power Play on Monday that honour killings are real and society needed to “wake up” to the threat.

“I think (the Shafia) trial in particular was a wake-up call to a lot of people who thought honour-motivated violence doesn’t exist in Canada,” she said. “It sends a message that this is real. We need to educate prosecutors, we need to educate police officers, social workers so they understand what this is about.”

Ambrose said that’s already happening in some Toronto women’s shelters, where staff are learning about the phenomenon. Other programs for women and girls, such as those offered through the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association, can also help, she said.

While honour killings are rare in Canada, indeed, in most Western countries including the UK, Australia and the USA, they occur with worrying frequency, and “honour-motivated non-lethal violence against women is prevalent”, Ambrose said.

“Girls are being subjected to violence or intimidation because they wore jeans. This is the kind of thing that’s difficult for Canadians to understand,” she said.

(For many of us, not just Canadians, Ms Ambrose.)

She continued:

“This is an issue – and there’ve been a lot of very brave women in certain cultural communities who’ve come forward to say this is a problem – honour-motivated violence does exist and we have to address it,” Ambrose said, noting that Indo-Canadian and Muslim communities are working with the government to do just that.

The bigger picture
That is all only the beginning of the solution for Western countries, of course. A much longer and more intractable problem is to turn around the attitudes to women throughout much of the Middle East, Asia and Africa that permit such atrocities anywhere. As we shake our heads over the news coverage, we are left, ultimately, with the same, persistent, terrifying question. How can a father or brother look in the eyes of his daughter or sister and murderously wield a cudgel, a knife, or fire a gun? What is it that could conquer any normal paternal or filial duty of care? That such behaviour seems simply incomprehensible to us in the West should merely spur us on to greater efforts to understand, and counter, the cultural beliefs that permit such sociopathic attitudes. In short, not all cultural beliefs are equal. Some are just plain wrong. We need the courage to say this, unflinchingly. And also to remind ourselves that it has nothing to do with religion, which is merely used as a cover for such behaviour.
honor killing victims

All victims of "honour murders". How many more?

The eyes of those thousands of girls and women murdered every year throughout the world on the flimsiest of excuse stare back at us from our computer screens and the pages of our newspapers. They demand that we do more to help them, and to prevent others joining their tragic ranks.

And as we contemplate the mysteries of cultures other than our own, let us also not forget: women are terrified, injured or die every single day in Western countries at the hands of men who are supposed to love them. And that therefore, all over the world, only a fundamental alteration in men can finally, and irrevocably, change the future of all women for the better.

As John Lennon so pointedly remarked, “Woman is the nigger of the world. Think about it. Do something about it.”

The Moral Outrage blog follows:

Honor killings are murder not an Islamic teaching

Leading Muslim thinkers wholeheartedly insist that “honor murders” have no place and no support in Islam.

“There is nothing in the Quran that justifies honor killings. There is nothing that says you should kill for the honor of the family,” said Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in England.

“This idea that ‘somehow a girl has besmirched our honor and therefore the thing to do is kill her’ is bizarre, and Muslims should

Geeti

Geeti

stop using this defense,” he said, arguing that the practice is cultural, not religious in origin.

“You cannot say this is what Islam approves of. You can [only] say this is what their culture approves of,” he said.

Yet several Arab countries and territories, including Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian territories, do have laws providing lesser sentences for honor murders than for other murders, Human Rights Watch says. Egypt and Jordan also have laws that have been interpreted to allow reduced sentences for honor crimes, the group says.

Nadya Khalife, a researcher on women’s rights in the Arab world for Human Rights Watch, agrees that the practice should not be blamed on Islam. “It’s not linked to religion; it’s more cultural,” she said. “There have been several Islamic scholars who have issued fatwas against honor killing.”

Irshad Manji, the author of “Allah, Liberty and Love: Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom,” said there was another conflict at work in “honor murders”, a term that broadcaster CNN uses in preference to “honor killings” because the latter phrase does not properly describe the crime.

It is “a tribal tradition that emphasizes the family or the tribe or the community over the individual.” Although the practice may not be Islamic, she said, not all Muslims understand the distinction.

“It is a problem within Islam because of how Muslims often confuse culture and religion,” she said. “It’s Muslims who have to learn to separate culture and religion. If we don’t, Islam will continue to get the bad name that it gets.”

On the other hand, honor murders are not a problem in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population. “No such a practice can be found among Indonesian Muslims,” said Azyumardi Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Taj Hargey, the director of the Muslim Educational Centre, said violence was sometimes the result of painful transition. “Muslims are in a state of flux,” he said. “They are between two worlds: the ancient world and the new technological age,” he said. “Women are getting rights and the ability to choose their own spouses. [Especially Muslim families living in the West don’t] know how to respond to this: the conflict between the discipline of children and the new reality.”

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service has an expert devoted to prosecuting honor-based violence, Nazir Afzal. Convicting perpetrators can be difficult, he said. “There is a wall of silence around this, and people are not prepared to talk,” he said.

And along with the Islamic scholars and human rights advocates, he rejected out of hand the idea that religion justified it. “At the end of the day, murder is murder. There is no faith on Earth, no community on Earth that justifies this,” he said.

“Abrahamic faiths say ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ ” he pointed out. “At the end of the day, nobody should die for this.”

Nadya Khalife of Human Rights Watch says reliable figures of the number of honor murders are hard to come by, but she pointed to a United Nations Population Fund estimate of 5,000 per year.

Varying Canadian media comments on the case can be found here: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2012/0130/Honor-killings-in-Canada-5-responses-to-the-Shafia-verdict/Honor-killings-deserve-harsher-penalty-than-first-degree-murder

Innumerable blogs on the topic are also available. Sadly, I can hardly wish you “happy reading”.

If you’re female, and live in America, please read this http://www.rense.com/general83/whywomen.htm

Force feeding Suffragette in Prison

Force feeding a Suffragette in Prison - this is within living memory

Well, frankly, if you’re female anywhere you have the vote, please read it. Actually, we have compulsory attendance at a polling station here in Australia, which regularly comes under attack from the right as it inflates the centrist and left-wing vote, because they consider compulsory attendance as an attack on the purity of our civil liberties and right to choose. Which it is – but then so are speed limits and breathalysers.

I find it a small price to pay to ensure people are made to think, albeit momentarily, about who they wish to be governed by, once every now and then. The defence, in any event, is that we are not forced to vote, just attend. Once in the booth we are free to scrawl obscenities on the ballot paper, which many do, to the great amusement of those counting the votes, and to no political effect at all.

When in water-cooler or BBQ discussions on voting attendance with disenchanted friends, I usually stand quietly until I can contain myself no longer, and then blurt out something along the lines of ” Listen, you bastards, my Dad sat on destroyers for six fucking years, guarding convoys, waiting for a torpedo up his arse and a cold death and a watery grave, and then when I was just two he died a broken man – at 46 – riddled with anxiety and fear, all so you can stand here and pontificate freely about why you think you can’t be arsed to vote this time. If you’re going to spit on what he did, then you can fuck off home.”

That usually makes the point quite effectively.

Spread the word, Sisters.