50.50 https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/5971/all cached version 18/01/2019 22:33:57 en “We create space for freedom”: battling sexism in Ukraine’s media https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-sanz-dominguez/battling-sexism-in-ukraines-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gender stereotypes are widespread in the Ukrainian media. I talked to activist Oleksandra Golub about campaigns to change this.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="290" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G1U40lwBhQo" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p dir="ltr">Women are widely stereotyped in the Ukrainian media as financially dependent, “beautiful dolls” or merely “someone’s wife or daughter”, said Oleksandra Golub, who heads the NGO <a href="http://harmony.org.ua">women’s rights protection league</a>. Meanwhile, men are presented as unable to “take care of the family, or deal with children”. </p><p dir="ltr">Golub was one of hundreds of international speakers at the 2018 <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy">World Forum for Democracy</a> at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. The theme of that event, in November, was “Gender Equality: Whose Battle?” with Golub's session asking <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/lab-8-can-stereotypes-against-women-be-banned-from-the-media-">Can stereotypes against women be banned from the media?</a></p><p dir="ltr">Earlier that month, Christian conservative media-makers gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine for the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tetiana-kozak/christian-conservatives-media-influence-ukraine">Novomedia forum</a>. There, delegates discussed using the media to promote ultra-conservative ideas and gender roles to the exclusion of LGBT and other relationships that don’t conform to their vision of “traditional families”. </p><p dir="ltr">“We fight against these ideas, and try to create a space for freedom, where everyone could be themselves”, Golub told me, describing gender stereotypes, and rigid gender roles on TV, in magazines and advertisements as contributing “not only [to] inequality, but also for tolerance of gender-based violence”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Everyday we see a lot of violence in our screens, on the media, and of course it influences the behaviour of people”, she added, referencing <a href="http://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/fr/countries/europe/ukraine">high levels of gender-based violence</a> in Ukraine alongside a gender pay gap of about 27%. The percentage of women in parliament meanwhile stands at <a href="https://datos.bancomundial.org/indicador/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS">just 12%</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Golub is convinced that this low share of women participating in political institutions is influenced by sexist messages transmitted by the Ukrainian media daily. “Even voters during an election process have stereotypes of women’s roles, that women can't be good politicians”, the activist explained. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">When the media does interview a woman politician, they tend to show more interest in her clothes or husband, than her legislative proposals, she added. </p><p dir="ltr">High-profile, national politicians have also repeated such stereotypes. For instance, in 2010 Ukraine’s then newly-elected prime minister Mykola Azarov <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/mar/24/ukraine-mykola-azarov-women">stated that</a> conducting reforms in the country “was not women’s business”. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The former Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov stated that conducting reforms in the country “was not a women’s business”. </p><p dir="ltr">Golub’s organisation engages directly with media groups, parliament, governmental agencies and others to raise awareness about sexist content in the media and in statements by public figures. </p><p dir="ltr">On paper, Ukraine’s <a href="http://data.euro.who.int/tobacco/Repository/UA/Ukraine_Law%20on%20Advertising_1996(consolidated%20as%20of%202008).pdf">1996 advertising law</a> explicitly prohibits advertisements that contain “statements which are discriminatory” on grounds including gender.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite this, Golub’s NGO says that Ukrainian ads are full of objectifying and eroticising images of women and harmful gender stereotypes. To challenge this, in 2017 it launched a new campaign “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCD0oNrzBos">Ukraine without sexism</a>”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><iframe width="460" height="290" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TCD0oNrzBos" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">As part of this campaign, it's published descriptions of sexist content to help people to identify such messages. It also encourages the Ukrainian public to report sexist advertising to the <a href="http://harmony.org.ua">women’s rights protection league</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The group checks reports, publishes them on its Facebook page, and notifies government agencies to investigate potential violations of the advertising law. If these agencies agree that content is sexist, the companies responsible for it must remove it and face (small) fines. </p><p dir="ltr">In the first year of the campaign, Golub’s organisation sent more than 400 complaints to the government, which ruled that just 20 were discriminatory. </p><p dir="ltr">They also supported <a href="http://uam.in.ua/gkr/eng/?ELEMENT_ID=4157">amendments</a> to advertising laws to reinforce the regulation of sexist content – and the improvement of <a href="http://uam.in.ua/gkr/eng/?ELEMENT_ID=4044">procedures</a> by Ukraine’s ministry of social policy for imposing fines for violations of advertising law. </p><p dir="ltr">While Golub described some progress within public agencies, she sometimes faces heated talks with companies who don't understand objections to their content. It’s easier, she said, to produce sexist ads than high quality material. </p><p dir="ltr">Though, she described “one of the lawyers of a big advertisement company” who didn’t understand these complaints until the NGO explained them. In such cases, she believes they’ve “really changed minds of people” in the industry.</p><p dir="ltr">A year later, Golub said, she saw this lawyer commenting on another sexist ad on Facebook, saying: “Guys, don't do that, because it is prohibited by law”.</p><p dir="ltr">Golub told me that tackling gender stereotypes in the media is important for Ukrainian democracy. However, equality cannot be achieved by legislation alone, she said, and must come from “an everyday respect for women”.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 reported on these events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lidia-kurasinska/men-europe-violence-against-women-stop-blaming-migrants">Men in Europe must stop blaming migrants for ‘importing’ gender violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Ukraine Culture Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media women's movements gender Maria Sanz Dominguez Fri, 18 Jan 2019 09:08:31 +0000 Maria Sanz Dominguez 121311 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Men in Europe must stop blaming migrants for ‘importing’ gender violence https://www.opendemocracy.net/lidia-kurasinska/men-europe-violence-against-women-stop-blaming-migrants <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">From Germany to India, these campaigners are battling ‘toxic masculinity’ to engage men in fights for gender equality.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LK1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LK1.png" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Men on the Women's March, London 2017. Photo: Flickr/ Kathryn Alkins. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Men in Europe must push back against claims that gender-based violence is being ‘imported’ into the continent by immigrants, said Robert Franken, co-founder of the <a href="http://www.male-feminists-europe.org">Male Feminists Europe</a> network, based in Cologne, Germany. </p><p dir="ltr">Famously, Cologne witnessed a wave of sexual assaults on <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35231046">New Year’s Eve in 2015</a>, committed by men of immigrant and asylum-seeker backgrounds. In the aftermath, this was <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/20160109-germany-cologne-pegida-far-right-rally-new-year-violence-sexual-assaults-women-migrants-ref">used by German far-right groups </a>to fuel an <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/edited-1038-headline-works-well-a7512636.html">anti-immigrant backlash</a> and present migrants as inherently dangerous to women. </p><p dir="ltr">But, Franken noted, “according to a <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/domestic-violence-in-germany-woman-killed-every-3-days/a-46380446">study</a> recently widely discussed in German papers, the biggest threat to a German woman would actually be her partner”.</p><p dir="ltr">He made these comments at the <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy">World Forum for Democracy (WFD)</a> at the Council of Europe in November in Strasbourg, France, where politicians, researchers and civil society activists from around the world had gathered to discuss the conference’s 2018 theme, “Gender equality: whose battle?”</p><p dir="ltr">At the event’s opening session, delegates were warned that gender equality in Europe is <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">”advancing at a snail’s pace”</a> with little progress over the last decade. </p><p dir="ltr">Rigid ideas of manhood which fuel gender-based violence are present worldwide, but it’s not just women that pay the price – they harm men too. That was the conclusion of the session Franken spoke at along with others from the UK and India who are also working to mobilise men for gender equality. </p><p dir="ltr">Internationally, anti-feminist “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/young-men-should-be-furious-inside-worlds-largest-mens-rights-activism">men’s rights activists</a>” appear to be increasingly organised and well-connected. In contrast, Franken told the audience it was an ongoing challenge that “men haven’t yet organised on a global scale to change this toxic view of masculinity and what it is like to be a man”. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">For many privileged men “equality might feel like discrimination”</p><p dir="ltr">The problem, Franken said, lies in the fact that many men “just don’t think it’s their job to do something about gender imbalances. Whenever I bring up the idea of male privilege a lot of men freak out”. What’s more, he added, for many privileged men “equality might feel like discrimination”.</p><p dir="ltr">“They immediately ask: want is it you want me to do, do I have to be ashamed of my privilege? My answer is: no, you don’t have to be ashamed of your privilege, but you have to be aware of it. That’s the first step”.</p><p dir="ltr">This year’s WFD opened on International Men's Day, 19 November, when <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/whats-next-for-metoo-movement">50.50 met Harish Sadani</a> from the group <a href="http://www.mavaindia.org">Men Against Violence and Abuse India (MAVA)</a>, who said that “men’s rights” groups have mushroomed in India. </p><p dir="ltr">According to Sadani, this “disturbing” development fails to tackle the root causes of pressures facing Indian men, including the expectation to perform well economically. For instance, he said, these groups ignore systemic factors affecting men’s suicide rates, blaming women for them instead.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LK2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LK2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A world without violence against women: Peace, love, joy. Solomon Islands, 2014. Photo: UN Women/Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>On the WFD panel <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/asset-view-page/-/asset_publisher/Mien4uijrJTq/content/wfd-2018-lab-masculinities-reexamined-intro?inheritRedirect=false">“Masculinities Re-examined”</a>, Sadani presented his work to tackle gender-based violence in India by engaging with men. He also described how prevalent this violence is, and the attitudes that drives it.</p><p dir="ltr">“Over half of boys and girls aged 15-19 believe it’s alright for a man to hit a woman under certain circumstances”, he explained, giving as examples of such circumstances: “when the woman doesn’t do household chores, if she doesn’t get her husband’s permission to go out, or if she refuses sex”.</p><p dir="ltr">But Sadani maintained that men can and must play a central role in challenging toxic masculinity, as it harms them too. He shared, for instance, how his organisation provides “personal change plans” to help young men confront their privileges, and builds “safe spaces” for men to talk without fear of being judged. </p><p dir="ltr">The key to engaging men, Sadani argued, is to show that there are multiple different ways of being a man and performing masculinity. </p><p dir="ltr">“When you say men shouldn’t be violent, what is the alternative you are giving them?” he asked. “Young men are surrounded by images of toxic, hegemonic masculinity, and they don’t have any other role models”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“When you say men shouldn’t be violent, what is the alternative you are giving them?”</p><p dir="ltr">Sadani and Franken were joined on their panel by Chris Green, founder of White Ribbon UK – a branch of the global movement, <a href="https://www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk/what-we-do/our-history/">launched in 1991</a> by a group of Canadian men after the mass shooting of 14 women students at the University of Montreal. </p><p dir="ltr">When Green asked the panel’s audience to imagine what a world without gender-based violence would look like, their responses ranged from “peaceful” and “safe” to “harmonious” and “free from prejudice”. </p><p dir="ltr">“It’s men’s responsibility to stop gender violence”, he insisted, adding: “And since men listen a bit more carefully when the message is spoken by other men, we need to challenge each other to do better”. </p><p dir="ltr">White Ribbon UK runs a <a href="https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/ambassadors/">volunteer ambassador programme</a> which encourages men to promote its principles in their own daily interactions with other men. </p><p dir="ltr">It provides companies, public institutions and local governments with ‘action plans’ to challenge gender-based violence. Organisations can also apply for White Ribbon accreditation to show their commitment to tackling this issue. </p><p dir="ltr">“If we want to see change, we need to mobilise large numbers. We need to reach music venues, sports clubs, universities”, Green told WFD delegates. </p><p dir="ltr">“Celebrities speaking out is great, but we want police officers, bus drivers, the whole community to embrace our values. It’s baby steps”.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 reported on these events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Equality Ideas International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 violence against women gender Lidia Kurasinska Mon, 14 Jan 2019 09:05:29 +0000 Lidia Kurasinska 121086 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Twitter threats, abuse, murder: what women face defending the environment https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/b-reng-re-sim/murder-rape-twitter-threats-what-women-face-defending-environment <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Latin America is the deadliest region for environmental and land defenders. But murders often follow numerous threats, including online.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1b.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1b.png" alt="Community protest against dam construction in Ituango, Colombia. September 2018. Photo: Flickr/350.org CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rig" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Community protest against dam construction in Ituango, Colombia. September 2018. Photo: Flickr/350.org CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Isabel Cristina Zuleta is a human rights activist in Antioquia, northern Colombia, where she works for the Ríos Vivos&nbsp;<a href="https://riosvivosantioquia.org/">Movimiento de Afectados por Represas</a>&nbsp;(movement of people affected by dams). According to the NGO Global Witness, 27 activists were murdered in this country in 2017 alone.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Since 2010, Zuleta has opposed the construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric dam on the river Cauca, Colombia's second most important. Ríos Vivos is trying to raise awareness of problems the dam could cause – including environmental damage, forced evictions, and the impoverishment of local residents whose livelihoods rely on the river.</p><p dir="ltr">Because of her activism, Zuleta has faced threats, harassment, attempted forced disappearances, criminal charges as well as sexual violence. In 2013, she said she was kidnapped by agents of the government’s so-called Mobile Anti-Disturbance squad who also photographed her “<em>partes íntimas</em>” (‘private parts’) while she was in detention.</p><p dir="ltr">According to a 2018 report by the <a href="https://fondoaccionurgente.org.co/en/">Fondo de Acción Urgente</a> (Urgent Action Fund Latin America and the Caribbean, or FAU-AL) human rights network, when Zuleta reported this treatment to the Attorney General, she was told that it “was not the important thing”, and instead she was accused of promoting attacks against the company building the dam.</p><p dir="ltr">In August, Zuleta told 50.50 that activists had received a myriad of recent threats, including: people approaching them to say they cannot protest, or threatening to kill them; people tailing them on the streets; and death threats via text messages, phone calls and Twitter. The next month, two family members of activists from her organisation were<a href="https://riosvivosantioquia.org/asesinan-a-familiares-de-integrantes-del-movimiento-rios-vivos-antioquia/"> murdered</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">“I think that land and environmental defenders, we confront capitalist interests, and this means [our work] involves a higher level of risk”, Zuleta told 50.50 via a WhatsApp message voice recording. However, “without this land we don’t have any life possibilities”, she added. “We cannot negotiate our lives”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">We confront capitalist interests, and this means [our work] involves a higher level of risk.</p><p dir="ltr">In November, seven men<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/29/berta-caceres-seven-men-convicted-conspiracy-murder-honduras"> were found guilty</a> of murdering Berta Isabel Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous campaigner who'd long battled to block the construction of a dam on the Gualcarque river, considered sacred by the Lenca people.</p><p dir="ltr">The supreme court ruled that Caceres’ murder was ordered by executives of the<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/04/honduras-dam-activist-berta-caceres"> company Desarrollos Energeticos SA</a> behind the Agua Zarca dam project because of delays and financial losses linked to protests led by the activist.</p><p dir="ltr">Cáceres was 44 years old when she was shot dead in her home on 2 March 2016, after receiving death threats for years. Her murder shocked the world and brought greater international attention to the plight of human and environmental rights defenders in Latin America.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image2b.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image2b.png" alt="Berta Cáceres solidarity rally, Honduras 2016. Photo: Flickr/Daniel Cima/CIDH. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved. " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Berta Cáceres solidarity rally, Honduras 2016. Photo: Flickr/Daniel Cima/CIDH. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>According to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/defenders-annual-report/">Global Witness</a>, at least 207 human, land and environmental rights activists were murdered around the world in 2017 – 60% in Latin America. This region is also home to the country with the most recorded deaths: Brazil, where 57 people were killed, 80% defending the Amazon rainforest.</p><p dir="ltr">While most of these recorded murders were of men, the NGO noted that women activists also “faced gender-specific threats including sexual violence”.</p><p dir="ltr">It said in a report: “They were often subjected to smear-campaigns, threats against their children, and attempts to undermine their credibility; sometimes from within their own communities, where macho cultures might prevent women from taking up positions of leadership”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“They were often subjected to smear-campaigns, threats against their children, and attempts to undermine their credibility.”</p><p dir="ltr">The FAU network also monitors the situation of women defenders in the region and provides them with logistical and financial support. In 2018 they published <a href="https://fondoaccionurgente.org.co/site/assets/files/1073/resumen_ingles_web.pdf">another report</a> that highlighted the ongoing challenge of impunity for perpetrators of violence.</p><p dir="ltr">They also drew attention to the specific vulnerabilities and different types of violence that women activists face – including criminalisation, threats, harassment, attacks and femicides (gender-based killings of women and girls).</p><p dir="ltr">One of the cases covered in their report was that of Lottie Cunningham, at the Centre of Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (<a href="http://cejudhcan.org/">CEJUDHCAN</a>) civil society organisation.</p><p dir="ltr">She works with more than 100 indigenous communities who've faced attacks, assassinations, kidnappings, crop burning and forced evictions. Denouncing these human rights violations has earned her repeated death threats.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the messages she received said: “In our country trash exists like these people who dedicate their lives to diffusing trash… against the government… I’m sick of these trash [people] and if I have to defend my blessed Nicaragua against this trash then it will be an honour to do so”. </p><p dir="ltr">Cunningham was also followed in the streets and told there were “rumours” she would be murdered.</p><p dir="ltr">Another case covered by FAU's report was that of Macarena “La Negra” Valdés, in Chile. In August 2016, one of her children found her hanged from the beams of her own home. She had also received death threats for months before this.</p><p dir="ltr">Valdés had campaigned against the construction of another hydroelectric power station by the Austrian-Chilean company Global Chile Energías Renovables, in Paso Tranguil, where she was a leader in her community, the Mapuche.</p><p dir="ltr">Her former partner, Ruben Collío, told 50.50 that Valdés&nbsp;was murdered in "a clear attempt to delegitimise our fight and try to make us react with violence”. He said: “It is so hard to ignore this basic instinct and fight them with their laws”.</p><p dir="ltr">Collío insisted she hadn't shown signs of depression, but authorities claimed her death was the result of suicide. He said her family requested a second autopsy – which showed that her body had been arranged to simulate this.</p><p dir="ltr">He is still <a href="https://www.facebook.com/JusticiaParaMacarenaValdes/">fighting for justice</a>. <a href="https://radio.uchile.cl/2018/08/19/a-dos-anos-de-su-muerte-aun-no-hay-justicia-para-macarena-valdes/">Two years after her death</a>, state prosecutors have not acknowledged the second autopsy; Collío and the Mapuche community continue to search for evidence to prove she was murdered.</p><p dir="ltr">At the regional level, the FAU is calling for the <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/68/181">UN resolution 68/181</a>, which was adopted by the general assembly in December 2013, and focuses on protecting women human rights defenders, to be enforced and respected.</p><p dir="ltr">Cases of violence must be better documented, FAU says. It's calling for new observatories to focus on this – as well as more thorough, independent investigations into threats against women defenders of land and human rights.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and economic justice women's movements violence against women gender Bérengère Sim Thu, 10 Jan 2019 08:44:42 +0000 Bérengère Sim 121119 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Don’t forget the working-class women who made suffragette history https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/don-t-forget-working-class-women-who-made-suffragette-history <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A century after some UK women won the vote, most of the suffragette stories we hear still focus on the elite. But this was a diverse movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SNs1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Black Friday suffrage protest. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SNs1.png" alt="Black Friday suffrage protest. " title="Black Friday suffrage protest. " width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Black Friday suffrage protest. Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.</span></span></span>In October 1909, the aristocratic suffragette <a href="http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/suffragettes-on-file/lady-constance-lytton/">Lady Constance Lytton</a> was arrested and sent to Newcastle prison. When the police discovered that she was the daughter of Lord Lytton, former Viceroy of India, they ordered her release after two days.</p><p dir="ltr">Along with her fellow militant suffragettes, Lytton had gone on hunger strike in protest at her arrest and the continued denial of the vote to women. But she was already in poor health and authorities feared she would die and become a martyr to the suffrage cause.</p><p dir="ltr"> This was one factor in the decision to release her. But <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/force-feeding-of-hunger-striking-suffragettes/93438.article?storycode=93438">Lytton believed</a> that her class and status had led to her release – that she received special treatment for this, with the police treating her with more politeness and delicacy compared to many others in the militant movement.</p><p dir="ltr">When Lytton next attended a protest, outside Walton Gaol, she <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/force-feeding-of-hunger-striking-suffragettes/93438.article?storycode=93438">disguised herself as a maid </a>called Jane Warton. She was arrested and, again, went on hunger strike. This time, however, rather than be released, she was force-fed by the police eight times.</p><p dir="ltr">Force feeding was a common, brutal form of torture used against suffragettes, with food poured down the throats of restrained women or through nasal tubes. There is some evidence that women were even force-fed <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/force-feeding-of-hunger-striking-suffragettes/93438.article?storycode=93438">anally</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Lytton’s poor health was still evident at the time of this arrest, but because she was assumed to be lower-class, the authorities did not care.</p><p dir="ltr">She wanted to expose different attitudes from the police towards working-class women – she wanted the world to know that while the rich escaped some measure of brutality, the police routinely harmed and tortured poorer women. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">While the rich escaped some measure of police brutality; the police routinely harmed and tortured poorer women.</p><p dir="ltr">It was this determination to show solidarity with her fellow women that led the militant suffragette <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-45918651">Annie Kenney</a> to write that Lytton’s: “passion and devotion for the working-class women was extraordinary”.</p><p dir="ltr">These acts of solidarity reflect a suffragette movement that was defined by cross-class activism, where members of the elite stood alongside working class women to expose institutionalised misogyny and fight for freedom.</p><p dir="ltr">I researched stories of suffragette cross-class solidarity, such as aristocrats like Constance Lytton working with survivors of child labour like Kenney, while the Ben Pimlott Writer In Residence at Birkbeck University of London. </p><p dir="ltr">What I found was diversity – among the suffragettes and the broader political issues they campaigned on. I also found a lot that resonates with feminist struggles today.</p><h2>Child labourer to suffragette</h2><p dir="ltr">When Kenney went to work in a factory as a child, it’s unlikely she imagined that, just a few years later, she’d be addressing rallies, taking on male politicians, facing imprisonment, or finally writing in her memoir that “in the end, we won”.</p><p dir="ltr">Indeed, in that memoir <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Memories-Militant-Annie-Kenney/dp/B00085T9BI">Memories Of A Militant</a>, she wrote that in her early years “politics did not interest me in the least”.</p><p dir="ltr">A “factory girl”, Kenney became a trade unionist, later on noting that there were “96,000 women members of the trade union and not any women officials”.</p><p dir="ltr">This inequality was of course reflected in the voting laws of her time, when the lives of half the population were regulated by male voters and MPs, without their input. It wasn’t until Kenney was 38 years old, in 1918, that some women won the vote.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3suff.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3suff.png" alt="Annie Kenney. Photo: Bain News Service / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain." title="" width="460" height="567" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Annie Kenney. Photo: Bain News Service / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.</span></span></span>Kenney wasn’t unique in her position as a working-class woman fighting for the vote. She was joined by women like <a href="https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/the-leeds-suffragettes-who-valiantly-fought-for-women-s-right-to-vote-1-9202410">Mary Gawthorpe</a>, a fellow survivor of child labour who became a teacher and a union activist.</p><p dir="ltr">Gawthorpe had campaigned for free school meals and labour rights before the arrest of Kenney and the militant suffragette organisation Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) co-founder <a href="https://spartacus-educational.com/WpankhurstC.htm">Christabel Pankhurst</a> in October 1905 convinced her that the right to vote was needed to change things for women.</p><p dir="ltr">She quickly became a committed suffragette, writing to Christabel Pankhurst at this time that she “too was ready to go to prison”.</p><p dir="ltr">Cross-class solidarity mattered to Gawthorpe. In her book <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suffrage-Days-Stories-Womens-Movement/dp/0415109426">Suffrage Days</a>, historian Sandra Stanley Holton wrote that Gawthorpe found "a unity of purpose in the suffrage movement which made social distinction seem of little importance”, and experienced “sexual solidarity with women from other classes”.</p><p dir="ltr">Gawthorpe was paid £2 a week by the WSPU to rally her fellow working-class women to the cause. In her memoir, fellow militant suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=21ZGDwAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT47&amp;lpg=PT47&amp;dq=throngs+of+mill+women+kept+up+the+chorus+in+broad+Yorkshire:+shall+we+win?+Shall+us+have+the+vote?+We+shall!&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=DvADlOWvl2&amp;sig=_U_4cA8a3eDVO41aQh5SNXC-gkg&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwijltbPw5_fAhWkSRUIHbcbCIgQ6AEwA3oECAUQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=throngs%20of%20mill%20women%20kept%20up%20the%20chorus%20in%20broad%20Yorkshire%3A%20shall%20we%20win%3F%20Shall%20us%20have%20the%20vote%3F%20We%20shall!&amp;f=false">recalled</a> one of their meetings where “throngs of mill women kept up the chorus in broad Yorkshire: ‘shall we win? Shall us have the vote? We shall!’”</p><p dir="ltr">One of the best-known members of the WSPU was Kenney, who travelled across the country rallying women to fight for the vote. Addressing crowds in Manchester, or heckling Winston Churchill at an electoral rally, she an electrifying speaker.</p><p dir="ltr">Like Gawthorpe, Kenney knew the importance of reaching out to the poorest in society. For them, the vote was not to be won for the rich or the elite. It had to be a tool which could change women’s lives wherever and however they lived. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The vote was not to be won for the rich or the elite. It had to be a tool which could change women’s lives wherever and however they lived.</p><p dir="ltr">In her memoir, Kenney described with admiration the courage of women who joined the fight for the vote from the slums of London’s East End, amidst daily struggles with extreme poverty, reflected in their “thin, sallow, pinched, pain-stricken” faces.</p><p dir="ltr">Kenney thought that, through the struggle for suffrage, “we gave them [East End women] something to dream about, and a hope in the future”. She had felt this herself, describing with emotion how the movement “absolutely changed” her life and was a “school for experience... a chance for those who loved adventure”.</p><p dir="ltr">Kenney also spoke to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/oct/14/pit-brow-lasses-coal-mining-unsung-heroines-bishop-auckland-museum">Wigan pit girls</a>. These were women who worked in the coal mines in the town of Wigan, in the northwest of England. In 1908 they joined other suffragettes and campaigners in a historic march on parliament to demand the vote.</p><p dir="ltr">She knew that, for pit and factory girls like herself, risking arrest was a significant sacrifice. Working-class women – as Constance Lytton’s experiment exposed – were treated differently, and had more to lose, in prison and after.</p><p dir="ltr">But this didn’t stop the Wigan pit girls, and many other working-class women, who joined the movement despite these risks.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5suff.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5suff.png" alt="Sophia Duleep Singh. Photo: Unknown author/Museum of London/Wikimedia Commons. Public domain." title="" width="460" height="241" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sophia Duleep Singh. Photo: Unknown author/Museum of London/Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.</span></span></span>Kenney also recalled taking “fishwives, pit brow girls, East End women, laundresses, teachers, nurses, tailoresses, factory girls” to meet MPs. At one protest, she described meeting a “tin plate worker who said she had come alone, and [had been] determined to come whether she got killed or not”.</p><p dir="ltr">These women are not the popular representations of the suffragettes as middle-class, ‘middle England’ women that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/12/suffragettes-white-middle-class-women-pankhursts">we are used to</a> in the UK. While we celebrate the work of famous and class-privileged suffragettes such as the Pankhursts, the brave women from the pits, slums and factories who marched alongside them, and risked so much, have often been erased from the story.</p><p dir="ltr">But women from all walks of life, including those from the poorest backgrounds, with the least political and social power, recognised the need for the vote, and were prepared to sacrifice their safety and freedom to get it. The real story of the suffragettes includes the poorest women standing up to the most powerful men in the country to demand a better future.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, the <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/case-study-the-right-to-vote/the-right-to-vote/birmingham-and-the-equal-franchise/1918-representation-of-the-people-act/">1918 Representation of the People Act</a> denied those very women the vote by extending suffrage only to women over 30 years old who held property. It wasn’t until 1928 that all adult women won the right to vote. </p><h2>Beyond the vote</h2><p dir="ltr">Many suffragettes had radical aims that went beyond the vote. They saw suffrage as a tool to improve society for women’s economic and sexual as well as legal equality.</p><p dir="ltr">Lytton, in her 1909 satirical essay ‘<a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/21293281?q&amp;versionId=25441351">No Votes For Women</a>’, said that one argument against giving women the vote was that they didn’t contribute to society or the economy. Her stinging rebuke reflected Edwardian feminist views on unpaid labour.</p><p dir="ltr">“How could [men] be released and equipped for work”, she wrote, “but for the mother, wife, sister, daughter, who as housekeeper, cook, laundrywoman, needlewoman, nurse, who spare him the time and thought he would otherwise have to spend on these essential details of maintenance?”</p><p dir="ltr">Winning the vote was part of broader movements to build a better world for women – as it would give women a say in the laws that impacted them.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK’s most famous suffragette, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/pankhurst_emmeline.shtml">Emmeline Pankhurst</a>, made this argument in her 1913 <a href="http://spot.pcc.edu/~rflynn/HST_103/Online%20Readings/Pankhurst.html">article</a> ‘Why We Are Militant’, describing “women in my country who have spent long and useful lives trying to get reforms, and because of their voteless condition, they are unable even to get the ear of MPs, much less... secure those reforms”. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1suff_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1suff_0.png" alt="Suffragette Rosa Mae Billinghurst. Photo: LSE Library/Flickr. No known copyright restrictions." title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Suffragette Rosa Mae Billinghurst. Photo: LSE Library/Flickr. No known copyright restrictions.</span></span></span>The prison system was also a target of these women’s campaigns, for example. Following their arrests, suffragettes like Kenney and Lytton became even more determined to improve the conditions of women behind bars.</p><p dir="ltr">Kenney wrote in her 1907 <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/21293281?q&amp;versionId=25441351">article</a> ‘Prison Faces’ about the cruel treatment of pregnant inmates, which she also connected to women’s lack of the vote.</p><p dir="ltr">She declared: “Cowards! that you will allow laws to exist that will force a woman into prison on the eve of her confinement [an archaic term for going into labour] and at the same time withhold from all other women any power by which we could help abolish such a cruel and inhuman system”.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Lytton campaigned to ensure that women in prison received “sanitary napkins” after Gawthorpe wrote about the “nauseating undergarment – stained in a revolting and suggestive manner” she was forced to wear during her detention.</p><p>She also wrote an influential book, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prisons-Prisoners-Broadview-Editions-Constance/dp/155111593X">Prisons and Prisoners</a>, in 1914, exploring a range of different issues with the prison system.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4suff.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4suff.png" alt="Suffragettes carry a banner saying “690 imprisonments to win freedom for women”, 1911. Photo: LSE Library/Flickr. No known copyr" title="" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Suffragettes carry a banner saying “690 imprisonments to win freedom for women”, 1911. Photo: LSE Library/Flickr. No known copyright restrictions.</span></span></span>Both Lytton’s ‘No Votes For Women’ essay, and Pankhurst’s ‘Why We Are Militants’ article, also talked about prostitution – another key issue for some suffragettes.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In Lytton’s essay in particular, we can see echoes of what’s now called “<a href="https://nordicmodelnow.org/what-is-the-nordic-model/">The Nordic Model</a>” – policies that decriminalise the sale of sex while criminalising the purchase.</p><p dir="ltr">The idea that men should take responsibility for the sexual exploitation of women, rather than seeing women in the sex industry as immoral or sinful, was pretty radical then, as today, while debates continue to rage about this issue.</p><p dir="ltr">Laws like the <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/4048453?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">Contagious Diseases Act 1864</a> criminalised and stigmatised women who worked in the sex industry. Meanwhile, nineteenth century moral campaigners treated women in prostitution as “fallen” and in need of “saving”.</p><p dir="ltr">Neither was the case for suffragettes such as Lytton and Teresa Billington-Greig, who emphasised that a double standard was feeding this industry.</p><p dir="ltr">Lytton wrote in 1909: “If to provide the supply be so criminal, what about the demand?… Is it honourable to buy in the market where, according to universal principle, it is so ignoble to sell?”</p><p dir="ltr">I wouldn’t claim that all the suffragettes held radical views about the sex industry that identified this sexual double standard, male sexual entitlement, and the exploitation of women as drivers of women’s oppression.</p><p dir="ltr">There were suffragettes who would have shared punitive positions towards sex workers with the moral crusaders of their time – as well as those like&nbsp;<a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/04/kitty-marion-too-radical-even-for-the-suffragettes/">Kitty Marion who have recently been framed as “sex positive</a>” for their approach to the sex industry (a concept that I reject – all feminists are “positive” about women’s free expression of sexuality regardless of their views on this industry).</p><p dir="ltr">But I want to point out that the suffragettes were grappling with some of the same issues that feminists still campaign on today. They held diverse views on how to resolve women’s inequality, just as the current feminist movement does.</p><p dir="ltr">Whether it was about unpaid labour, prison conditions, or the sex industry, women like Lytton, Kenny and Gawthorpe promoted and campaigned for radical reforms for women that went beyond the right to vote. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">There’s no single narrative of the suffragettes.</p><p dir="ltr">There’s no single narrative of the suffragettes. These women came from different class backgrounds, fought for more than the right to the vote, and saw the battle for the franchise as a way to win greater equality.</p><p dir="ltr">A century since the 1918 act that began to widen the franchise to women, the suffrage movement has been (often rightly) accused of <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2018/02/184233/suffragettes-racist-whitewashing-working-class">ignoring working class women</a>, and of being <a href="https://inews.co.uk/opinion/munroe-bergdorf-race-wrong-tory/">racist and white supremacist</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">But, the picture is more complicated than that. There is no doubt that many suffragettes held classist and racist views – Edwardian Britain (as Britain is today) was a classist, racist, society. </p><p dir="ltr">That some of our feminist foremothers held such views, and in some cases fought to repress other women, must be acknowledged. At the same time, criticisms of suffragettes have often led to an erasure of the radical working class women who fought for the vote. When criticising the movement for not being diverse, we run the risk of ignoring the diversity that did exist.</p><p dir="ltr">That powerful diversity brought together women from different classes, ethnicities and sexualities to challenge patriarchal power and build a fairer world. It’s that same patriarchal power which is invested in, and benefits from, silencing women’s stories – especially those of radical working class women.</p><p dir="ltr">While we must not be afraid to critique feminist movements on crucial issues of inclusivity and diversity, we must be careful not to collude in the patriarchal project of erasing the diverse voices that helped to make history. To do so is to silence those radical, working class women who risked everything for a fairer, more equal world.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* This essay was written by Sian Norris while the Ben Pimlott Writer In Residence at Birkbeck University of London.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sian-norris/after-me-too-uk-government-sexual-abuse">After Me Too, can we trust the UK government to tackle sexual abuse?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sian-norris/excluded-stereotyped-abused-women-uk-politics-today">Excluded, stereotyped and abused: where do women stand in UK politics today? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media women's movements women's human rights women and power patriarchy feminism Sian Norris Wed, 09 Jan 2019 09:29:43 +0000 Sian Norris 121118 at https://www.opendemocracy.net After Me Too, can we trust the UK government to tackle sexual abuse? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/after-me-too-uk-government-sexual-abuse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If our lawmakers fail to confront abuse in their own workplace, how do we trust them to enact effective policies for the rest of us?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-33508211_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-33508211_1.jpg" alt="Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom responds to questions about allegations sexual harassment at Westminster. Picture: PA. All " title="" width="460" height="247" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom responds to questions about allegations sexual harassment at Westminster. Picture: PA. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On 12 December 2018, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2018/dec/12/tory-mps-trigger-vote-of-no-confidence-in-may-amid-brexit-uncertainty-politics-live">faced a ‘vote of no confidence</a>’ in her leadership. Her Conservative party MPs were invited to vote in a secret ballot, indicating whether they thought the prime minister should continue in her role. Conservative party rules stated that she would have to resign as party leader if she lost the vote.</p><p>May knew it was going to be a tight vote, as she needed the support of at least 159 out of 317 of her MPs to survive. The Conservative party then announced that two MPs who had previously been suspended following allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, Charlie Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths, would be <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46544328">reinstated ahead of the crucial vote</a>.</p><p>Earlier this year, the Sunday Times newspaper revealed that <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/conservative-mp-charlie-elphicke-accused-rape-allegation/">Elphicke had been accused of rape </a>by a former staff member. He had undergone a police interview under caution in March 2018, but no rape allegation was put to him on that occasion. Elphicke maintains his innocence and has <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/conservative-mp-charlie-elphicke-accused-rape-allegation/">denied any wrongdoing</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Griffiths had sent thousands of <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-mp-andrew-griffiths-lewd-12919733">text messages to women in his constituency</a> including explicit comments like his desire to “beat” a woman during sex. He subsequently said he’d sent these texts while having <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/04/tory-mp-andrew-griffiths-who-sexted-women-says-he-was-having-manic-episode">a manic episode</a>, and that he was “ashamed and embarrassed”.</p><p>The Labour party criticised the Conservatives for “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/12/tory-mps-suspended-over-sex-allegations-reinstated-for-confidence-vote">betraying</a>” women by reinstating the suspended MPs ahead of the vote. A year after a series of #MeToo allegations broke in parliament, in late 2017, this welcoming back of alleged harassers for political expediency begs the question: what has changed for women in politics? And can this government be trusted to pay more than lip service to our rights when it’s political crunch time?</p><p dir="ltr">On 12 December 2018, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2018/dec/12/tory-mps-trigger-vote-of-no-confidence-in-may-amid-brexit-uncertainty-politics-live">faced a ‘vote of no confidence</a>’ in her leadership. Her Conservative party MPs were invited to vote in a secret ballot, indicating whether they thought the prime minister should continue in her role. Conservative party rules stated that she would have to resign as party leader if she lost the vote.</p><p dir="ltr">May knew it was going to be a tight vote, as she needed the support of at least 159 out of 317 of her MPs to survive. The Conservative party then announced that two MPs who had previously been suspended following allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, Charlie Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths, would be <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46544328">reinstated ahead of the crucial vote</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, the Sunday Times newspaper revealed that <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/conservative-mp-charlie-elphicke-accused-rape-allegation/">Elphicke had been accused of rape </a>by a former staff member. He had undergone a police interview under caution in March 2018, but no rape allegation was put to him on that occasion. Elphicke maintains his innocence and has <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/conservative-mp-charlie-elphicke-accused-rape-allegation/">denied any wrongdoing</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Griffiths had sent thousands of <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-mp-andrew-griffiths-lewd-12919733">text messages to women in his constituency</a> including explicit comments like his desire to “beat” a woman during sex. He subsequently said he’d sent these texts while having <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/04/tory-mp-andrew-griffiths-who-sexted-women-says-he-was-having-manic-episode">a manic episode</a>, and that he was “ashamed and embarrassed”.</p><p>The Labour party criticised the Conservatives for “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/12/tory-mps-suspended-over-sex-allegations-reinstated-for-confidence-vote">betraying</a>” women by reinstating the suspended MPs ahead of the vote. A year after a series of #MeToo allegations broke in parliament, in late 2017, this welcoming back of alleged harassers for political expediency begs the question: what has changed for women in politics? And can this government be trusted to pay more than lip service to our rights when it’s political crunch time?</p><h2>Abuse in the lobby</h2><p dir="ltr">In October 2017, women around the world came forward under the MeToo banner, accusing powerful men of sexual assault, harassment and rape. From the Hollywood mogul <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/25/harvey-weinstein-latest-news-arrest-metoo-dam-burst-moment">Harvey Weinstein</a> to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/oct/21/bill-oreilly-32m-harassment-claim-fox-news-deal">news anchors</a>, <a href="http://www.thesecondsource.co.uk/">journalists</a>, and <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/inside-wall-street-complex-shameful-and-often-confidential-battle-with-metoo">Wall Street bosses</a>, it wasn’t long before MeToo came to <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/westminster-sexual-harassment-scandal-abuse-kate-maltby-ava-etemadzedah-kelvin-hopkins-bridget-a8157241.html">Westminster</a> – the home of the UK parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">This year, a survey commissioned by MPs found one <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/westminster-sexual-harassment-one-five-report-leaked-mps-lords-staff-a8199401.html">in five people</a> working in parliament had experienced sexual harassment. Women reported twice as many cases as men.</p><p>Following disclosures of sexual harassment from the journalist <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2017/nov/04/michael-fallon-lunged-at-me-jane-merrick">Jane Merrick</a> among other women, the defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon was the first to <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41838682">resign from his ministerial post</a>, in November 2017, admitting his conduct may have “fallen short” of standards.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-33852338.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-33852338.jpg" alt="Sir Michael Fallon resigned from his UK cabinet position in 2017 following disclosures of sexual harassment. Image: PA. All righ" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sir Michael Fallon resigned from his UK cabinet position in 2017 following disclosures of sexual harassment. Image: PA. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A few weeks later, the deputy prime minister Damian Green resigned amid allegations of <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/21/kate-maltby-told-pm-aide-damian-greens-pattern-behaviour/">inappropriate behaviour</a> towards a young Conservative party activist (which he <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/20/damian-green-i-wasnt-inappropriate-to-kate-maltby">denied</a>). A parliamentary inquiry had found these allegations “<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/downing-street-aware-damian-green-claims-kate-maltby-sexual-harassment-a8123651.html">plausible</a>” and that he’d previously made “misleading” statements about <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/damian-green-resigns-quits-latest-deputy-prime-minister-theresa-may-pornography-a8121271.html">pornography on his work</a> computer.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the last year, MPs, parliamentary staff, and activists from across parties have faced allegations of <a href="https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/welsh-mp-accused-sending-sexual-13826881">inappropriate behaviour,</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/15/westminster-mps-treated-staff-like-servants-harassment-inquiry-finds">bullying</a>, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cw5m7rq7z8rt/westminster-harassment-scandal">sexual assault</a>, and <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-party-rape-bex-bailey-jeremy-corbyn-sexual-harassment-nec-assault-conference-a8541831.html">rape</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The Financial Times journalist <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/5e6a296c-6e9e-11e8-92d3-6c13e5c92914">Laura Hughes exposed</a> wide-ranging abuses of power at parliament. One parliamentary staff member anonymously told Hughes that a Conservative MP had boasted that he’d had sex with researchers on her desk. Another former staffer told Hughes that she knew of 10 women who had been harassed at parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">With two MPs resigning from ministerial posts (although not their seats), and other MPs and party activists under investigation or facing allegations of misconduct, it had become clear to parliament by the end of 2017 that action needed to be taken to change a culture of widespread bullying and harassment at the heart of British politics.</p><p dir="ltr">The extent of the Westminster abuse scandal was chilling. It’s precisely these people in these corridors of power who make laws about violence against women and workplace sexual harassment. How could these lawmakers be trusted to create fair and just policies to protect people from sexual violence, when some were alleged perpetrators themselves?</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">How could these lawmakers be trusted to create fair and just policies to protect people from sexual violence?&nbsp;</p><div><p dir="ltr">Reports of sexual and sexually inappropriate behaviour are not new to the UK’s parliament. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">After the 1997 elections, which <a href="https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/parliament-and-elections/elections-elections/as-many-women-mps-ever-as-men-now/">doubled the number of women MPs</a>, researcher Professor Sarah Childs wrote <a href="https://www.amazon.com/New-Labours-Women-MPs-Representing/dp/0714656615">a book</a> about them. She quoted a report in The Times newspaper which said they “were subjected to sexual harassment: comments were made about women MPs ‘legs and breasts’ and when women MPs spoke in debates it was reported that Conservative MPs ‘put their hands out in front of them as if they are weighing melons’”.</p><p dir="ltr">But the MeToo movement threw harassment in Westminster under the spotlight, and the growing list of accusations meant that something finally had to change.</p><p dir="ltr">The leader of the House of Commons, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, set up a cross-party working group to investigate sexual misconduct at parliament. <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/commons/media-relations-group/news/statement-on-dame-laura-coxs-report-into-the-bullying-and-harassment-of-house-of-commons-staff-/">A separate inquiry into bullying and harassment </a>of staff in parliament was launched by Dame Laura Cox.</p><p dir="ltr">In July 2018, Leadsom’s working group <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/documents/news/2018/1%20ICGP%20Delivery%20Report.pdf">published its findings</a> which highlighted the lack of an independent grievance and complaints procedures for people working in parliament. This meant, for example, that if a parliamentary researcher were harassed by their MP boss, they were supposed to report it to their “line manager” – that same MP.</p>As one lawyer, Meriel Schindler, put it to Hughes at the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/5e6a296c-6e9e-11e8-92d3-6c13e5c92914">Financial Times</a>: “it’s almost as if MPs are like unregulated sole traders”.<p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It’s almost as if MPs are like unregulated sole traders”.</p></div><div><p dir="ltr">The working group’s report introduced a new “<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/documents/news/2018/1%20ICGP%20Delivery%20Report.pdf">behaviour code</a>” for parliament, underpinned by an independent complaints procedure. It said that implementing this code would require training as well as human resources support, and called for a “cultural change” in parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">The code states that MPs and staff should “respect and value everyone”; that they should “recognise their power, influence or authority and not abuse them” and “think about how your behaviour affects others and strive to understand their perspective”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are not tolerated”, it insists. “Unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with seriously, independently and with effective sanctions”.</p><p dir="ltr">Importantly, the working group noted that sexual harassment is “qualitatively different from other forms of unacceptable behaviour, including bullying and non-sexual harassment”.</p><p dir="ltr">Confronting this “therefore requires its own set of procedures and personnel”, said its report, which recommended that an Independent Sexual Misconduct Advocate should be contracted to support those reporting harassment.</p><h2>What’s really changed?</h2><p dir="ltr">Can the government be trusted to put its own recommendations into practice? Or does the reinstatement of Elphicke and Griffiths, ahead of a crucial vote the prime minister needed to win, demonstrate that women’s rights are easily brushed aside when politics demand?</p><p dir="ltr">The reinstatement of these MPs isn’t the first example of political manoeuvering amid abuse allegations. Earlier this year, bullying allegations against the speaker of the House of Commons, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/03/john-bercow-further-bullying-claims-emerge-against-house-of-commons-speaker">John Bercow</a>, were used as political footballs by his opponents and supporters.</p><p dir="ltr">In an article for the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/20/john-bercow-is-not-the-man-to-fix-the-house-he-should-go">Guardian</a>, a Labour MP wrote that many of her fellow parliamentarians “hate John Bercow and wanted rid of him and used the report as their opportunity”. They see victims of harassment as a “toy for them to play with for political and tribal ends”, she said.</p>Meanwhile, those who wanted Bercow to stay called it the “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/16/john-bercow-to-stand-down-as-commons-speaker-in-wake-of-bullying-inquiry">wrong time</a>” to change speaker.<p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">They see victims of harassment as a “toy for them to play with for political and tribal ends”.</p><p dir="ltr">Accusations of sexual misconduct have also rocked parliament’s House of Lords. </p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46227662">November 2017</a>, the Liberal Democrat Peer and human rights lawyer, Lord Lester, was accused of sexual harassment by a women’s rights campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera. The <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-financial-interests/house-of-lords-commissioner-for-standards-/house-of-lords-commissioner-for-standards-/">House of Lords Commissioner for Standards</a> conducted an investigation, upheld her complaint, and determined that Lester should be suspended for five years.</p><p dir="ltr">However, on 15 November 2018, Lester’s ally Lord Pannick <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/15/peers-block-lord-lesters-suspension-over-harassment-claims">voted to block the proposed suspension</a>. Pannick accused the Commissioner of not acting “<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-11-15/debates/2833F584-59E3-4E3E-89E0-4F67CEDD6635/PrivilegesAndConduct">in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness</a>” in her handling of the case.</p><p dir="ltr">In response, a House of Lords committee responsible for members’ privileges and conduct published a damning <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldprivi/252/252.pdf">report</a> on 12 December on how Lester’s case had been handled. Among other things, it expressed concern that the debate over Pannick’s amendment risked putting other women off reporting sexual misconduct in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">The report noted how during the debate, Lester’s supporters used their positions to “make wholly inappropriate comments about [Sanghera’s] character and behaviour”. It said: “We are concerned that some of the contributions to the debate will have deterred other victims of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct from coming forward”. </p><p dir="ltr">One of the report’s footnotes adds that the committee’s “attention [was drawn] to the fact that in the <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-11-15/debates/2833F584-59E3-4E3E-89E0-4F67CEDD6635/PrivilegesAndConduct">debate</a> on 15 November, ‘reputation’ was invoked positively 15 times to describe Lord Lester. It was not invoked once to describe the complainant. At the same time, the complainant’s credibility and motivations were questioned”.</p><p dir="ltr">This is important – so often in these cases, while men’s reputations are defended, women are deemed to lack credibility, or accused of having ulterior motivations. This obstructs women’s access to justice and can put women off reporting sexual misconduct or violence.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Sanghera <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/15/peers-block-lord-lesters-suspension-over-harassment-claims">said</a> that the investigation against Lord Lester had been thorough, and by blocking his suspension the House of Lords “undermined the whole process, and undermined the commissioner and me”. It also “undermined victims”, she added, saying that she wouldn’t advise other women to report cases of harassment if this is how they respond.</p><p dir="ltr">Lester did eventually <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46533883">resign</a>, though he maintains his innocence. A <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/17/lords-approves-motion-censuring-anthony-lester-sexual-harassment">further debate on 17 December </a>censured him – but as he had already resigned, he cannot face any sanctions in parliament. Meanwhile, Lester’s is not an isolated case. Rather it typifies the problems women face when reporting sexual misconduct against powerful men in government.</p><h2>What’s next?</h2><p dir="ltr">From reinstating MPs ahead of a crucial vote, to treating bullying allegations against Bercow as a political football, the UK parliament has not inspired much confidence in its ability to seriously handle accusations of misconduct and abuse.</p><p dir="ltr">Although two men did resign their ministerial posts following accusations of sexual harassment, they have remained MPs. One wonders what Sir Michael Fallon’s constituents make of his admission that his conduct may have “fallen short” of standards as defence secretary, while apparently deciding that he was still suitable to represent them.</p><p dir="ltr">The case of Lord Lester meanwhile highlights how the way sexual harassment claims are handled may influence whether other women will report cases in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">While it is positive that new complaints procedures are now in place at parliament – thanks in part to the work of feminist campaigners – if women do not believe their allegations will be listened to and respected, then many still won’t come forward.</p><p dir="ltr">Going into 2019, it remains alarming that those responsible for making laws on issues like violence against women and girls seem unable to deal with them in their own workplace.</p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sian-norris/excluded-stereotyped-abused-women-uk-politics-today">Excluded, stereotyped and abused: where do women stand in UK politics today? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk Democracy and government Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 women and power violence against women Sexual violence women's work Sian Norris Sat, 22 Dec 2018 11:04:27 +0000 Sian Norris 121075 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Excluded, stereotyped and abused: where do women stand in UK politics today? https://www.opendemocracy.net/sian-norris/excluded-stereotyped-abused-women-uk-politics-today <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>100 years since (some) women won the right to vote, they’re still marginalised in corridors of our power – and facing a backlash there too.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5sn_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5sn_1.png" alt="Feminists protest in Westminster, in 2012, dressed as suffragettes. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights rese" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Feminists protest in Westminster, in 2012, dressed as suffragettes. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Visitors at Westminster Hall are now welcomed into the British Houses of Parliament by a stained glass installation called “<a href="https://marybranson.com/newdawn/">New Dawn</a>”. Created in 2016 by the artist Mary Branson, and measuring six metres high, it’s an eye-catching, colourful celebration of the mass movement for women’s suffrage in the UK.</p><p dir="ltr">But how did Westminster exclude women before and after the 1918 Representation of the People’s Act? (Which widened the right to vote to include women over 30 years old, along with all men; it wasn’t until 1928 that all women won this right). And how does British politics continue to exclude women today?</p><p dir="ltr">Before an 1834 fire necessitated the reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster, women weren’t allowed to set foot in the House. Men – including those not permitted to vote – could attend debates and sit in the public gallery.</p><p dir="ltr">Women were shut out of the business of politics altogether, and couldn’t bear witness to the debates and discussions that happened between men in power.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4sn.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4sn.png" alt="The Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Photo: UK Parliament/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved." title="" width="460" height="289" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Photo: UK Parliament/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Some celebrated women still got involved in politics. Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire, for example, actively campaigned for male MPs, leaders and political parties. But even a woman as influential as Spencer wasn’t allowed into parliament to watch the men she advocated for debate.</p><p dir="ltr">Man-made laws have never prevented women from fighting for their rights. <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/parliamentary-collections/collections-19thc-and-suffragists/ventilator/">In the early 1800s, women found</a> a way to break through the patriarchal barriers that kept them out of the Houses of Parliament. They climbed into the building’s loft and watched the day's debates through an air vent.</p><p dir="ltr">At first, these women were removed from their perch by parliamentary guards. But, over time, their presence became known and even tolerated. Political activists brought influential women to the loft to watch the debates below, including the UK’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson. </p><p dir="ltr">Women had breached the House – and would continue to do so.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image2sn.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image2sn.png" alt="Watercolour sketch showing the ventilator, Palace of Westminster, attributed to Lady Georgiana Chatterton c.1821 (c) by permissi" title="" width="460" height="566" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Watercolour sketch showing the ventilator, Palace of Westminster, attributed to Lady Georgiana Chatterton c.1821 (c) by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. </span></span></span></p><h2 dir="ltr"><span>From the roof to the floor</span></h2><p dir="ltr">Following the great fire of 1834, the restored Houses of Parliament welcomed women into the public gallery for the first time.</p><p dir="ltr">No longer trapped in the smelly, hot and confined space of the loft, they could now watch debates from a gallery behind the speaker’s chair. But they still didn’t sit on equal footing to men, and were confined behind sturdy metal grills.</p><p dir="ltr">The all-male MPs were concerned that the presence of women would be “distracting”; their bodies were hidden away in order not to divert the men’s attention from the business of the day.</p><p dir="ltr">This seclusion of women in parliament in the nineteenth century reflected elements of Victorian prudery – the old myths about men being overwhelmed by the sight of a shapely ankle. How far have we moved on from this?</p><p dir="ltr">The prominent conservative journalist Toby Young, for example,<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/03/toby-young-quotes-on-breasts-eugenics-and-working-class-people"> famously tweeted</a> about the “serious cleavage” of an MP sat behind then Labour leader Ed Miliband.</p><p>How welcome are women in British politics today, when their bodies are still scrutinised and treated as distractions – much as they were in the 1840s?</p><h2><span>Women in the House </span></h2><p dir="ltr">In the early twentieth century, militant suffragettes chained themselves to the metal grills in parliament during a protest – using a structure designed to exclude them from political debates as a tool in their struggle for inclusion.</p><p dir="ltr">Westminster’s walls – or in this case, its grills – were starting to fall.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3sn.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3sn.png" alt="A suffragette protest. Photo: Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons." title="" width="460" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A suffragette protest. Photo: Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.</span></span></span>On 21 November 1918, a law was passed allowing women to stand for election. It was a historic change. However, due to her political affiliation, the first woman MP, Countess Constance Markievicz, refused to take her seat.</p><p dir="ltr">This act of protest is one that members of the Northern Irish Republican party <a href="http://www.sinnfein.ie/newsroom">Sinn Fein</a> – to which the Countess belonged – still follows today, <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/04/why-don-t-irish-mps-sit-parliament">in protest of parliament’s jurisdiction</a> in Northern Ireland and its oath to the Queen.</p><p dir="ltr">As a result, the Houses of Parliament didn’t have to worry too much about including women in their space – at first. But that soon changed, with the election of Lady Nancy Astor in 1919. </p><p dir="ltr">Now, there was a Lady Member of the House, who required a Lady Members’ Room in which to work and rest.</p><p dir="ltr">Unlike the Members’ Room for men, it was tiny. As more and more women MPs were elected, they had to sit on the floor in increasingly crowded conditions, notebooks balanced on their knees, struggling to get work done.</p><p dir="ltr">Women MPs from opposing parties had to work in close proximity. While one assumes there was some camaraderie between them, it’s hardly practical to prepare for political debates cheek-by-jowl with the opposition.</p><p dir="ltr">The crowded conditions of the Lady Members’ Room sent a clear message to women MPs: women were to be tolerated in parliament, not welcomed.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Women were to be tolerated in parliament, not welcomed.</p><div><p dir="ltr">Throughout the twentieth century, more women entered parliament, but their numbers remained low. Then came the historic 1997 election in which 120 women won seats – changing the makeup of British politics forever.</p><p dir="ltr">This election doubled the number of women in parliament overnight (only 60 had won seats in the previous 1992 elections). More than 80% of these 1997 women MPs came from the Labour party (101), followed by the Conservatives (13), the Liberal Democrats (three) and the Scottish National Party (two).</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image7sn.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image7sn.jpg" alt="Tony Blair and the 1997 influx of Labour women into parliament. Credit: Michael Crabtree/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserv" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tony Blair and the 1997 influx of Labour women into parliament. Credit: Michael Crabtree/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The larger number of women MPs required significant changes to the Houses of Parliament. An old men’s changing room was turned into a women’s loos. A decade later, a parliamentary bar was closed down and replaced by a crèche.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The presence of the formerly excluded in such greater numbers was symbolic and appeared to demonstrate that, finally, women were seen as the equals of men. But it wasn’t so simple. Forces still worked hard to exclude women.&nbsp;</p><h2>“Babies in a playpen”&nbsp;</h2><p dir="ltr">After the 1997 ‘Labour landslide’, women held 19% of the seats in parliament, which was remained dominated by adversarial, aggressive debates and what some consider a very “male” or macho style of politics.</p><p dir="ltr">One woman MP elected that year<a href="https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C5CHFA_enIT783IT783&amp;ei=WlgUXLXUAcLVkwXXuqeoCA&amp;q=New+Labour%27s+Women+MPs%3A+Women+Representing+Women+routeledge&amp;oq=New+Labour%27s+Women+MPs%3A+Women+Representing+Women+routeledge&amp;gs_l=psy-ab.3...805.2343..2638...0.0..0.234.1839.0j9j2......0....1..gws-wiz.0Zy0f0EqZG0"> told Professor Sarah Childs</a> that “a premium is put upon what is predominantly a male style of political practice, which is quite aggressive… a debating society style which men are often much better at, have more confidence in doing and are taught more to do”.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image6sn.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image6sn.png" alt="A 2018 protest calling for women’s equal representation in parliament. Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr. CC0 1.0. Public domain." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A 2018 protest calling for women’s equal representation in parliament. Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr. CC0 1.0. Public domain.</span></span></span>Many women MPs have been disheartened by the old-style politics that relied on masculine models of elite Oxford and Cambridge university debating societies. They told Childs how parliament was still a “boys club” that relied on “hitting the bars together and drunks going through the lobby at 10 pm”.</p><p dir="ltr">They argued that women’s different experiences should change how MPs conduct politics, moving away from what one called “babies in a playpen” debates to a more "feminine" or feminist approach.</p><p dir="ltr">But women found their colleagues punished them for not adopting the macho style that had shaped the House for hundreds of years. One MP told Childs how party whips said she was “too quiet”, without “enough barracking and shouting”.</p><p dir="ltr">Women MPs were accused of “whinging” about “laddish” behaviour and depicted in the media as unable to cope with the pressures of politics. This re-enforced assumptions about the unsuitability of women for political life. Women were in the House, but too many still questioned whether they should be.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Women were in the House, but too many still questioned whether they should be.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">An egregious example of this behaviour came in 1997, when those 120 women entered Westminster.</p><p dir="ltr">According to a report in The Times newspaper, they “were subjected to sexual harassment: comments were made about women MPs ‘legs and breasts’ and when women MPs spoke in debates it was reported that Conservative MPs ‘put their hands out in front of them as if they are weighing melons’”.</p><p dir="ltr">As we know from recent #MeToo allegations, which led to the resignations of former defence secretary <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/04/michael-fallon-defence-secretary-sexual-harassment">Sir Michael Fallon</a> and former deputy prime minister <a href="https://graziadaily.co.uk/life/real-life/damian-green-resignation-kate-maltby/">Damian Green</a>, parliament has not yet eradicated such behaviour.</p><p dir="ltr">Sexual harassment within the UK’s political structures remains a deliberate tactic to exclude women and reinforce male dominance in Westminster.</p><h2>Women representing women&nbsp;</h2><p dir="ltr">The election of more women into parliament has created new spaces where so-called “women’s issues” can be discussed in political life.</p><p dir="ltr">Before the 1997 election, some women MPs told Childs that “ministers were already responding to the pressure emanating from women”, and that “issues previously classified as ‘women’s issues’ such as education and the welfare state, [had] been prioritised as central issues by the current government”.</p><p dir="ltr">In her foreword to Childs’ book, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Labours-Women-MPs-Representing/dp/0714656615">New Labour’s Women MPs</a>, the Labour MP for Peckham Harriet Harman wrote about how women’s dramatically increased representation in parliament “changed the definition of what is political”.</p><p dir="ltr">It meant that issues like childcare, rape, domestic abuse and gendered labour were no longer fringe concerns – they were increasingly mainstream politics.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image8sn.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image8sn.jpg" alt="Harriet Harman in 1998, as social security secretary, with women pensioners in south London. Photo: Sean Dempsey//PA Archive/PA " title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Harriet Harman in 1998, as social security secretary, with women pensioners in south London. Photo: Sean Dempsey//PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>More women within government ministries also meant new opportunities for women’s perspectives to be included in these spaces, long controlled by men.</p><p dir="ltr">One example is the transport department, which had previously overlooked the gendered impacts of its policies. As one MP told Childs, this department’s ministers hadn’t thought about building policies that benefited women because it had been “so long since they got their buggies and tried to get on a bus”.</p><p dir="ltr">Including more women in parliament has led to more women-focused policies – though it doesn’t always follow that women parliamentarians will always represent women’s interests – in part as “women’s interests” are so varied.</p><p dir="ltr">Women are diverse and may experience different, overlapping forms of discrimination based on their race, religion, disability, class, and sexuality. These realities are still underrepresented in parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">If women’s interests are to be truly represented in UK politics, women who are openly gay, working class, disabled, or from black and minority ethnic communities, must be encouraged to stand for election and participate.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1sn_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1sn_0.png" alt="2018 March for Women in London. Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr. CC0 1.0. Public domain." title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>2018 March for Women in London. Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr. CC0 1.0. Public domain.</span></span></span>At the same time, women MPs have historically been wary of being pigeon-holed or portrayed as representing women only. Some women MPs in the 1997 intake, for example, &nbsp;told Childs they had to “distance themselves from women’s issues” because those who don’t “face criticism for doing so”.</p><p dir="ltr">They argued that “women MPs were acting in a hostile environment, one where acting for women has accompanying costs”. Later years have seen some progress on this front – though it remains true that having a woman MP will not guarantee feminist or woman-friendly views and policies.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Having a woman MP will not guarantee feminist or woman-friendly views and policies.</p><p dir="ltr">The number of women MPs has continued to grow since the 1997 election, with a <a href="https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01250">record of 208</a> elected at the 2017 election. But this is just 32% of parliament’s seats, and women are still campaigning for equal representation.</p><p dir="ltr">A lack of baby-friendly policies is a one example of how women are still shut out of politics. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/19/tory-whip-julian-smith-urged-to-explain-pairing-breach-that-caused-serious-damage">A recent scandal</a> showed how urgently change is needed for women to feel they can participate in parliament without being penalised for pregnancy.</p><p dir="ltr">This year, the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson was unable to attend a key Brexit vote having just given birth. But she had entered into a “pairing” pact with an opposing Conservative MP, who agreed not to vote either, to cancel out the fact that she would be absent. Then, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/18/maternity-leave-error-scrutiny-commons-proxy-voting-jo-swinson">he went ahead and voted</a> anyway.</p><p dir="ltr">Parliament depends on rules and breaking them like this suggests that MPs are prepared to play dirty to win. Now, women MPs are pushing for <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-baby-leave-proxy-votes-six-months-new-parents-men-women-18th-century-voting-attendance-a8189431.html">baby leave</a> and proxy voting for heavily pregnant women and new mothers.</p><p dir="ltr">This would end one aspect of gender discrimination in parliament, making sure that all women can remain involved in decision-making without having to rely on the pairing system. This is good news; it's a long-overdue change.</p><h2>A toxic culture</h2><p dir="ltr">Misogynistic online abuse is a further, ongoing scandal that continues to exclude women from political spaces. </p> <p dir="ltr">Women MPs receive a disproportionate amount of this abuse, particularly BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) women.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the 2017 general election campaigns, the veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott, received <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/05/diane-abbott-more-abused-than-any-other-mps-during-election">half</a> of all the abuse sent to women MPs online.</p> <p dir="ltr">She <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/14/diane-abbott-misogyny-and-abuse-are-putting-women-off-politics">warned</a> that risks of such harassment can deter women from entering politics in the first place, and that “even the young, recklessly fearless Diane Abbott might have paused for thought”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image9sn_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image9sn_0.png" alt="Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott, in 1987. Photo: Sport and General/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive. All rights reserved." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott, in 1987. Photo: Sport and General/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/intimidation-in-public-life-a-review-by-the-committee-on-standards-in-public-life">recent UK government report</a> on Intimidation In Public Life similarly warned that online abuse is limiting women’s political participation. It outlined suggested responses from political parties, the police and others. But it presented overly-modest or vague proposals on how to respond to this massive problem.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report asked social media companies, for example, to “implement tools to tackle online intimidation through user options” and “do more to prevent users being inundated with hostile messages on their platforms”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Women’s inclusion in politics is not inevitable.</p><p dir="ltr">We have come a long way since women snuck into the Houses of Parliament to watch political debates through an air vent in the loft. But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels when it comes to women’s inclusion in politics.</p><p dir="ltr">Polls before the 2017 election had <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/News/uk/politics/election-poll-latest-tory-win-results-corbyn-theresa-may-a7777781.html">predicted</a> a Conservative party landslide, with Labour politicians slated to lose a significant number of seats – and women’s representation set to shrink for the first time since 2001.</p><p dir="ltr">This did not happen, and Labour’s better-than-expected result led to a small increase in the number of women MPs instead. But it was a near miss.</p><p dir="ltr">There's a tendency to assume that progress happens in one way and one way only – that once we start to see more women or minorities included in public life, that their representation will just continue to get better and better.</p><p dir="ltr">In contrast, 2017 offered us a stark warning – that women’s inclusion in politics is not inevitable. It’s taken a lot of work to get us to where we are today. And it will take more work to bring more women into parliament.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* This essay was written by Sian Norris while the Ben Pimlott Writer In Residence at Birkbeck University of London.</em></p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/raksha-kumar/me-too-india-succeeding-at-last">Why the ‘Me Too’ movement in India is succeeding at last</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer/julienne-lusenge-congo-sexual-violence-metoo">‘Now, every woman knows she needs to fight violence everywhere’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sophie-hemery/were-seeing-backlash-to-policies-against-online-violence">&#039;We&#039;re seeing a backlash to policies against online violence&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Sian Norris Wed, 19 Dec 2018 09:05:31 +0000 Sian Norris 121028 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Feminist comedians are laughing at privilege – and it’s funny https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/feminist-comedians-laughing-at-privilege-its-funny <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Comedy that targets oppressed groups is outdated. These feminists are using humour to speak truth to power.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRFH1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRFH1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Comedian Tig Notario at the Family Equality Council's Impact Awards (California, 2017). Photo: Family Equality/Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0.</span></span></span>This summer, an old debate broke out again in Spain: should we put limits on humour? This time it was prompted by <a href="https://verne.elpais.com/verne/2018/08/27/articulo/1535376700_647287.html">a monologue</a> from comedian Rober Bodegas in which he mocked gypsies that steal cars, don’t know how to write, and marry 13-years-old girls. </p><p dir="ltr">The comedian <a href="https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3425281/0/colectivos-gitanos-denuncian-rober-bodegas-polemico-monologo/">was accused of racism</a> by gypsy people, whereas some of his colleagues <a href="https://www.mundodeportivo.com/elotromundo/gente/20180828/451518136212/rober-bodegas-jose-corbacho-dani-mateo-chiste-gitanos-humorista-amenazas-muerte.html">defended him</a>, arguing that humour’s purpose is to provoke and transgress social rules. Even if Bodegas was laughing at archaic stereotypes, they said, people should have taken it with humour and as a simple joke.</p><p dir="ltr">After receiving <a href="https://twitter.com/roberbodegas/status/1033793951034171393">more than 400 death threats</a>, according to Bodegas, and thousands of angry comments on Twitter, he apologised and the video of his monologue was removed – but the questions it raised remain live. </p><p dir="ltr">Jorge Cremades previously provoked a similar debate. He became famous with comic videos featuring a raft of sexist clichés. On Facebook, he has seven million followers. In June 2017, feminist groups asked people <a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/ocio-y-cultura/20170609/jorge-cremades-boicot-feministas-teatre-borras-6096063">to boycott</a> his show at a Barcelona theatre, calling him “macho and patriarchal”.</p><p dir="ltr">What’s the right answer? Should we stop making or ban jokes about groups that experience discrimination, or should we give comedians complete freedom to laugh at whatever and whoever they’d like?</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vY-Vly-qlw">According to presenter and comedian David Broncano</a>, jokes can’t be limited as there will always be someone offended by them. I understand his point: censuring some topics is contrary to the transgressive nature of humour.</p><p dir="ltr">But who says we must censure topics? When oppressed groups react against a joke, it doesn’t mean they want to put up limits in humour. The demand is rather that comedians bear in mind from which position are they making these jokes, and understand the effect of such a powerful weapon as humour. </p><h2 dir="ltr"> 'Such a powerful weapon' </h2><p dir="ltr">Humour is instrumental. That is, it can serve different purposes depending on how we use it. Usually we think about it as a way to make someone crack up by destroying social rules, but it can be used to marginalise people too. </p><p dir="ltr">“Who are the protagonists of most jokes? People that are excluded… Humour is used also to put people in [their] place”, said <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy3iH0QQnvI">Asunción Bernárdez</a>, director of the <a href="https://www.ucm.es/investigacionesfeministas/presentacion">Instituto de Investigaciones Feministas</a>, earlier this year.</p><p dir="ltr">In other words: when a comedian laughs at discriminated groups from a privileged position, what he is doing is re-emphasising difference and relativising the oppression that these groups suffer. </p><p dir="ltr">What outrages people is not the single jokes of a single comedian; it is the pervasive discrimination that comes to light through these jokes. The problem is not a comedian making a racist or sexist joke, the problem is a racist and sexist society that puts him on prime time and laughs along with him.</p><p dir="ltr">When you understand the violence behind humour that, using the excuse of being transgressive, plays with racism, sexism or homophobia, it starts to provoke anger instead of laughter. And you realise that making fun of oppressed people is the least transgressive thing you can do.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRFH2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRFH2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Maysoon Zayid in her TED Women talk (San Francisco, 2013). Photo: TED Conference/Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.</span></span></span>Against easy humour that uses stereotypes to laugh at others, the feminist writer Brigitte Vasallo <a href="http://www.pikaramagazine.com/2015/04/quien-teme-a-la-satira-lesbofeminista/">proposes to “point inside or to point up</a>” – and laugh about yourself or those who are more powerful than you. </p><p dir="ltr">This is not utopian; there are already feminist comedians that can make you cry with laughter like <a href="http://patriciasornosa.com/videos">Patricia Sornosa</a>, <a href="https://www.netflix.com/es/title/80101493">Ali Wong</a> or <a href="http://tignation.com/">Tig Notaro</a>. And some of them talk about minorities and oppressed groups too.</p><p dir="ltr">“If there was an Oppression Olympics, I would win the gold medal. I'm Palestinian, Muslim, I'm female, I'm disabled... and I live in New Jersey,” is how actor Maysoon Zayid starts <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/maysoon_zayid_i_got_99_problems_palsy_is_just_one?language=en">I got 99 problems and palsy is just one</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Zayid can make fun of her conditions and express irony that is actually empowering. This is what feminist humour is about.</p><p dir="ltr">Making fun of the privileged is not new for Spanish comedians who openly mock governments and establishments. But most are men who seem to have forgotten to laugh about themselves – and patriarchy.</p><p dir="ltr">Artist Lula Gómez commented on this in one of her feminist <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xm-0nNIGck&amp;feature=youtu.be">videos</a> called “Eres una caca” (You are poop): “Maybe unconsciously, maybe not, but they aren’t able to make jokes about their own privileges as men”. </p><p dir="ltr">Some people might not agree with my analysis. At least, you should agree with me that humour consists of distorting reality and, to do this, we need to start from the same reality, from the same common point. </p><p dir="ltr">When we make a joke, we must take into account the social context in which we make it, and we know that a lot of people are still discriminated against in our reality. That should be our common starting point.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Spain Culture Equality Ideas World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media patriarchy feminism everyday feminism young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Fri, 14 Dec 2018 07:56:20 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 120314 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Evangelicals in Guatemala on verge of ‘legalising homophobia’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/diana-cariboni/evangelicals-guatemala-legalising-homophobia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A "nefarious" bill on ‘life and family’ is the first-ever drafted by the country's evangelical churches, reflecting their growth – and ambition. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/diana-cariboni/los-evangelistas-en-guatemala-al-borde-de-legalizar-la-homofobia">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An evangelical group prayer, Guatemala 2014. Photo: Flickr/amslerPIX. CC BY-NC 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The first legislative proposal of evangelical groups in Guatemala would legalise homophobia, threaten women who have miscarriages with jail terms, and allow the criminal prosecution of abortion rights campaigners. </p><p dir="ltr">Bill 5272, proposed <a href="https://www.congreso.gob.gt/wp-content/plugins/paso-estado-incidencias/includes/uploads/docs/1528753491_Dictamen%205272.pdf">to 'protect life and the family</a>', “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).</p><p dir="ltr">It was introduced in congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).</p><p dir="ltr">The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It's now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation. </p><p dir="ltr">“Congress has more pressing deadlines... like passing the 2019 budget”, Rojas told 50.50 this fall. But, now the bill could be voted on next month. He said they will put it on the floor's schedule in January.&nbsp; </p><p>Legislator Sandra Morán, however, celebrated the postponement of the final vote as a victory. The feminist and rights campaigner describes the bill as a threat to progressive movements and her own legislative agenda. </p><p dir="ltr">“We’ve been battling to convince legislators this is a nefarious law with terrible consequences for women, girls and LGBTI community”, Morán told 50.50.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">“We’ve been battling to convince legislators this is a nefarious law with terrible consequences for women, girls and LGBTI community”</span> </p><p dir="ltr">The first feminist and openly-lesbian woman to win a seat in congress, in 2017 Morán announced plans to legislate on hate crimes, gender identity, same-sex civil unions and abortion rights for child and adolescent girls in cases of rape. </p><p dir="ltr">Then, Morán said, evangelical groups “quickly moved to introduce the 5272 [bill], mounted a huge public lobby, and <a href="https://www.soy502.com/articulo/denuncian-diputada-promover-ley-ninas-puedan-abortar-63338">took me to court</a>”. </p><p dir="ltr">Three legal cases were filed against her, accusing Moran of promoting abortions for nine to 14 year old girls. Two of these cases were rejected by the Supreme Court last year. One is still pending.</p><p dir="ltr">“There was a national movement”, she said, against her progressive agenda. Molina, the drafter of the conservative ‘life and family’ bill, tells a similar story. </p><p dir="ltr">“We anticipated legislator Morán’s initiatives, organised two rallies and all sort of social and political activities before introducing [our] bill”, he said, which will “protect our country and the Christian faith professed by 90% of our people”.</p><p dir="ltr">With their bill, evangelicals in Guatemala are taking aim at what religious conservatives internationally call “gender ideology” – movements for women’s and LGBT rights which they say threaten the ‘traditional family’.</p><p dir="ltr">“They promote this idea that human sexuality and traditional family are obsolete social constructs”, said Molina, describing it as a “postmodern philosophical trend seeking to invade our country and modify essential values of our culture”. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gay Pride, Guatemala City 2010. Photo: Flickr/ilainie. CC BY-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The evangelicals’ bill would establish jail terms of two to four years for women convicted of what it calls ‘culpable abortion’ – when a miscarriage occurs due to their negligence or reckless behaviour, a physician, or a third person. </p><p dir="ltr">Under this provision, any woman who has a miscarriage may be forced “to demonstrate in court that it wasn’t [the result of] negligence”, <a href="https://twitter.com/HumanistasGuate/status/1037136923024936961">warned</a> the non-profit sexual and reproductive health provider Aprofam.</p><p dir="ltr">Molina told 50.50 that miscarriages would not be criminalised but that currently “culpable abortions [currently] go unpunished”, with the bill allowing for their “investigation at least”.</p><p dir="ltr">Bill 5272 also stiffens existing penalties on abortion, with five to 10 year prison sentences, and introduces more obstacles to legal terminations. </p><p dir="ltr">Currently abortion is only legal in Guatemala if the woman’s life is at risk, but unofficial estimates suggest there are <a href="https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/GuatemalaUPIAsp.pdf">65,000 abortions</a> a year in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Campaigners challenging this restrictive regime could themselves receive six to 10 years in prison and fines under the new offence of “promoting abortion”. </p><p dir="ltr">The draft law also explicitly forbids same-sex marriages and civil unions (which are already unrecognised by Guatemala courts) and effectively legalises homophobia with its proposed provision that “no person can be criminally prosecuted for rejecting sexual diversity and gender ideology”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The draft law also forbids same-sex marriages and civil unions and effectively legalises homophobia”</p><p dir="ltr">Individuals’ rights to freedom of conscience, says the bill, mean they must not be “forced to accept as normal non-heterosexual behaviours and customs”.</p><p dir="ltr">This provision “just protects our right to conscientious objection… as gender ideology seeks to label as discriminatory any manifestation to refute it”, says Molina, giving the example of preaching against homosexuality at church.</p><p dir="ltr">The draft law further forbids public and private schools alike to “promote policies or programs related to sexual diversity and gender ideology” – including “teaching as normal sexual behaviours different to heterosexuality or incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features”.</p><p dir="ltr">If passed, this legislation would also require the national government and its diplomatic representatives to follow its provisions as Guatemala’s official stance on related issues at the UN or other international organisations.</p><p dir="ltr">“We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity”, said Molina, referring to agreements discussed at the Organisation of American States, which relate to all forms of discrimination and intolerance.</p><p dir="ltr">He wants this law to prevent the country from negotiating such treaties that, once entered into force, Guatemala would have to comply with.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DC3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Evangelical Church Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala 2009. Photo:Flickr/amslerPIX. CC BY-NC 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>Bill 5272 is the first piece of legislation drafted by the Evangelical National Movement on Pastoral Action (<a href="http://menap.org/portal/index.php">Menap</a>). </p><p dir="ltr">This coalition includes pastors from 33 organisations, each one representing dozens or hundreds of churches across Guatemala. One member<a href="https://www.facebook.com/principedepazcentral/">, Iglesia del Príncipe de Paz</a>, represents more than 1,400 congregations. </p><p dir="ltr">Menap is a legal and advocacy organisation for churches and pastors. It litigates court cases on tax, civil, municipal, criminal and environmental issues. It also defends pastors in legal trouble and advocates for <a href="http://alianzaevangelicadeguatemala.blogspot.com/">Guatemala Evangelical Alliance</a>’s interests.</p><p dir="ltr">Molina told 50.50 that Menap is funded by its members. The coalition also has international groups in its network, including the <a href="http://awf.world/">Christian and Missionary Alliance</a> which was founded in the US and is now headquartered in Brazil. </p><p dir="ltr">Menap’s chairman Marco Antonio Rodríguez also serves as representative of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Guatemala. </p><p dir="ltr">He said that Menap has this alliance’s “full support” including “among other things, the building for its offices, furniture and equipments, secretary, janitor and cook, payment of electricity, water and phone services, foods, etcetera”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Menap is funded by its members. The coalition also has international groups in its network”</p><p dir="ltr">Morán, the feminist legislator and rights advocate, had introduced a bill in 2016 to protect child and adolescent girls from sexual violence, abuse and exploitation, including by granting them abortion rights in cases of rape. </p><p dir="ltr">In the first six month of this year, more than 50,000 girls between 10-19 years old became pregnant, and 6,000 were between 10-15 years old, according to a <a href="https://osarguatemala.org/embarazos-y-partos-de-madres-entre-10-y-19-anos-enero-a-junio-2018/">report</a> by Guatemala’s Observatory on Sexual and Reproductive Health (Osar). </p><p dir="ltr">Every year, Osar <a href="http://osarguatemala.org/no-disfrace-la-verdad/">warns</a>, thousands of young girls are raped and don’t receive urgent medical attention to prevent pregnancies and sexual diseases. Rather, they’re often “forced to give birth”, and offered to their rapists in marriage.</p><p>Molina conceded that, “if a girl is raped, that’s a crime”. But, he said, “we can’t solve a crime with another crime”, referring to abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">Morán, whose own progressive agenda was shattered amid these evangelicals’ successful counter-campaigns, warned that it won’t be difficult for their draft bill to get the votes it needs to pass in congress.</p><p dir="ltr">“It’s a threat”, she told 50.50. While the law, if passed, could still be challenged at the constitutional court, Morán described it as “awful” evidence of how “religious thinking is more and more embedded in public institutions”.</p><p dir="ltr">“We thought this bill was so badly done that it wouldn’t pass, but now we are more and more concerned”, added Carlos Romero Prieto, executive secretary of the National Network of Sexual Diversity and HIV (Rednads).</p><p dir="ltr">“It would affect our organisation and legitimise intolerance”, he warned, in a country where violence is already part of many LGBTI peoples’ lives. </p><p dir="ltr">According to Rednads, 19 LGBTI people were murdered in Guatemala in the six months between May and November this year, including eight trans women. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/el-salvador-evangelicals-reproductive-rights">How El Salvador’s evangelicals have joined the backlash against women’s reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/diana-cariboni/argentina-abortion-vote-divides-nation-from-senators-to-doctors">Argentina abortion vote divides the nation, from senators to doctors</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/diana-cariboni/conscientious-objectors-threaten-abortion-rights-latin-america">How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Guatemala </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 DemocraciaAbierta Guatemala Civil society Equality International politics Tracking the backlash women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power fundamentalisms feminism Diana Cariboni Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:39:55 +0000 Diana Cariboni 120960 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How one woman is mapping femicides in Mexico https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/b-reng-re-sim/how-one-woman-is-mapping-femicides-in-mexico <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From her home and cafés in Mexico City, María Salguero is filling in the gaps left by official data on gender-related killings.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BS1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BS1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pink crosses mark the site where eight women's bodies were found in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Iose. CC BY-SA 3.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Whenever María Salguero, 40, has a moment to herself, she sifts through her Google Alerts and the local news in Mexico for reports of femicides. </p><p dir="ltr">This unusual pastime began in 2016 when Salguero, a human rights activist and geophysical engineer by training, decided to build <a href="https://feminicidiosmx.crowdmap.com/">a map tracking cases of femicide</a>, and filling in the gaps left by official data, in her spare time. </p><p dir="ltr">Femicide (also referred to as feminicide) is the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender. <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/2/take-five-adriana-quinones-femicide-in-latin-america">UN Women</a>, the United Nations’ gender equality organisation, notes that these gender-related murders may follow other violent acts including domestic abuse, describing the context in Latin America as one of “high tolerance” towards such “normalised” attacks.</p><p dir="ltr">In a café in central Mexico City earlier this year, Salguero told me that she “had already worked on a map of people who are disappeared [in Mexico]”, referring to the tens of thousands of missing women, men and children in the country, believed to have been abducted and likely tortured or killed. In 2018, the government’s own figures counted more than <a href="https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/10/mexico-desaparecidos-sistema-incompleto-recursos-suficientes/">37,000 ‘desaparecidos’</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">While working on this map, Salguero said, she “noticed that there were more and more articles about women who were being murdered”. Around the same time, some of her friends, who are journalists, told her that they were having trouble quantifying and tracking the number of femicides. </p><p>“Building a database is not that hard, nor is georeferencing it, I told them… I started my own”, Salguero explained. Over the last two years, her work has had a significant impact. Mexico’s mainstream press has <a href="https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/estados/de-53-feminicidios-en-q-roo-autoridades-reconocen-solo-21-informa-maria-salguero">cited</a> her data, for example. She has also been invited to the states of Quintana Roo, Michoacán and Zacatecas to present her findings to local governments.</p><p>Recently, El Universal, one of Mexico’s most important national papers, described Salguero’s project as “<a href="https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/estados/de-53-feminicidios-en-q-roo-autoridades-reconocen-solo-21-informa-maria-salguero">an important source to consult that contrasts with official figures, which try to minimise the problem</a>” of gender-based killings.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“‘An important source to consult that contrasts with official figures, which try to minimise the problem’ of gender-based killings”</p><p dir="ltr">Projects like these, based on aggregating news reports, are “so important,” added Carolina Torreblanca, director of data analysis at the civil society group <a href="https://datacivica.org/">Data Cívica</a>, in Mexico City, because they “give the context surrounding the femicide” which “official data does not provide”.</p><p dir="ltr">Opening her laptop in the café, Salguero gave me a tour of her colour-coded map, the information it brings together, and how she categorises cases. Hovering over different cities and regions in Mexico are red circles of varying sizes, indicating how many cases of femicide she has recorded. </p><p dir="ltr">When she updates the map, Salguero adds as much detail as she can. Where possible, she links the cases on the map to profiles including names of victims (if available), their ages, how they were murdered and by whom. She also includes links to local media articles.</p><p dir="ltr">When this information is available, she also details the crime scene (where the victim’s body was first found) and if the femicide left children orphaned.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BS2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BS2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot of Salguero’s map, taken on 4 December 2018. </span></span></span>Salguero has now recorded and mapped more than 6,000 cases of femicide dating back to 2011. In 27 cases, authorities were unable to establish the woman’s identity. In 70 cases, the victim was a trans woman.</p><p dir="ltr">In one case uploaded to the map, a woman’s body was found floating in a water tank in Guanajuato state, central Mexico, on <a href="https://feminicidiosmx.crowdmap.com/reports/view/6617">18 July 2018</a>. The 30-year-old woman, identified in media reports only by her first name María Guadalupe, had been shot and was found by a pastor who alerted police. </p><p dir="ltr">The various filters Salguero has created to categorise the cases on her map reflect dark realities about femicide in Mexico and impunity more generally. Under her category “status of the person who committed femicide”, she’s recorded convictions in only 128 cases. More than 4,000 perpetrators were listed as fugitives when I last checked the map, in early December 2018.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“More than 4,000 perpetrators were listed as fugitives as of early December 2018”</p><p dir="ltr">In October 2018, Mexicans were shocked by news of a couple who admitted to having murdered more than <a href="https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-45821520">20 women in Ecatepec</a>, a suburb north-east of Mexico City (the country's <a href="https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-45821520">most dangerous municipality</a> for women). This case catapulted the subject of femicide into the national spotlight once more, with the local press dubbing the couple the “monsters of Ecatepec”.</p><p dir="ltr">The sparse, international data that does exist on femicides suggests they are rampant in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the region accounting for <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/2/take-five-adriana-quinones-femicide-in-latin-america">14 of the top 25 countries</a> with the highest estimated rates of these killings.</p><p dir="ltr">In Mexico, an <a href="https://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/en-mexico-diario-asesinan-a-9-mujeres-denuncia-la-onu/1280023">average of nine women</a> are believed to be murdered every day, according to UN Women’s latest figures released in November 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">The country's <a href="https://www.gob.mx/conavim/articulos/que-es-el-feminicidio-y-como-identificarlo?idiom=es">criminal code</a> does specifically reference femicides, defining the crime as one “that deprives a woman of her life for gendered reasons”, evidence of which include signs of sexual violence; “degrading” injuries; a history of violence at home, work or school. </p><p dir="ltr">But there are significant gaps in official data on these gender-related killings. The information that Salguero has compiled highlights these. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">She gave me an example: Quéretaro, a conservative state in central Mexico, has one of the lowest rates of femicide in the country <a href="http://www.eluniversalqueretaro.mx/sociedad/24-11-2017/queretaro-cuarta-entidad-con-menos-feminicidios">according to National Institute for Statistics data</a>. This year, no femicides have been officially recorded there – while she has found and logged at least five cases. </p><p dir="ltr">Torreblanca, the director of data analysis at <a href="https://datacivica.org/">Data Cívica</a>, recently published an <a href="https://www.animalpolitico.com/blogueros-el-foco/2018/11/12/que-contamos-cuando-contamos-feminicidios/">article</a> on how femicide is counted in Mexico. She warns that there are issues with all data on femicide that must be acknowledged. </p><p dir="ltr">Data produced by projects like Salguero’s, which are based on news reports, do not reflect the exact number of femicides, but rather “the probability that a femicide is reported in the press”, Torreblanca told me. And this may depend on many factors, for example: where the crime took place; if the woman is indigenous; if the woman is white and privileged. </p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Torreblanca added, authorities’ official data on cases they considered femicides is also produced in an “opaque way”. </p><p dir="ltr">What is considered a femicide differs between states and has changed over time. What authorities considered a femicide in 2015 may not be the same as what they consider a femicide in 2018. “This makes it hard to measure how much the phenomenon has evolved using official data”, she explained.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Her body was found the next day in the passenger seat of the bus, which had been abandoned. She’d been sexually assaulted and murdered” </p><p dir="ltr">Many cases haunt Salguero. On <a href="https://www.excelsior.com.mx/comunidad/2017/06/11/1169158">8 June 2017</a>, for instance, 11-year-old Valeria didn’t get off the bus at the stop where her father and his partner were waiting for her, on a street in Nezahualcóyotl, east of Mexico City. </p><p dir="ltr">Usually, they’d pick Valeria up from school and cycle home together. That day, it was raining and she was put on a bus with strict instructions on when to get off. Her body was found the next day in the passenger seat of the bus, which had been abandoned. She’d been sexually assaulted and murdered. </p><p dir="ltr">Salguero shudders as she recalls Valeria’s case. “Girls are so vulnerable”, she said. Reading about this femicide in the news “was very disturbing".</p><p dir="ltr">Working on such a violent topic is hard, Salguero continues, explaining that when things get too much, she hops on her bike and rides through the city. “It has helped make sure I don’t go crazy”, she admits.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mexico </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 DemocraciaAbierta Mexico Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 violence against women Sexual violence gender Bérengère Sim Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:23:33 +0000 Bérengère Sim 120851 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What we talk about when we talk about gender in Armenia https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anna-bianca-roach/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-gender-in-armenia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Armenia votes in a new parliament after the revolution earlier this year, it seems the new authorities’ political opponents are uniting in an anti-LGBT campaign.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/C907_SyKkiI" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">“I’m asking you a simple question: Do you have any responsibility towards the LGBT community?” This was one of many inflammatory questions addressed to Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a <a href="https://youtu.be/C907_SyKkiI?t=13755">historic televised debate</a> this week ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Pashinyan and Vigen Sargsyan, the first deputy president of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), engaged in a vitriolic exchange about national values.</p><p dir="ltr">The conversation touches on one of the election’s hot-button issues: gender. The term “gender” does not refer to an identity marker, but rather acts as a dog whistle for anything that falls outside of gender norms. The prospect of liberalising gender norms, which for Armenia’s militaristic and traditionalist culture is seen as an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anna-nikoghosyan/in-armenia-gender-is-geopolitical">existential threat</a>, has caused some hand-wringing in the lead up to elections. A homophobic attack <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/lgbt-activists-reportedly-attacked-in-southern-armenia/29412726.html">that left nine people injured</a> in August and <a href="https://www.aravot-en.am/2018/09/07/218395/">draft legislation to ban “homsexual propaganda”</a>, put forward by the RPA, are but a few of the events that have catapulted the issue to the forefront of the political conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">Nikol Pashinyan’s stance remains ambiguous, but he has found himself associated with the LGBT movement. Many of Armenia’s human rights activists <a href="http://www.pinkarmenia.org/en/2018/11/hate-propaganda/">report</a> that this association was fabricated in another instance of the RPA and other powers using the fear-mongering power of “gender” to manipulate public opinion. Meanwhile, the anti-gender stance often depicts queerness as something wholly un-Armenian, an import from the West to undermine the country.</p><p dir="ltr">But while politicians argue over their positions in front of a largely conservative electorate, the threat of violence and stigmatisation that LGBT+ Armenians face is all too real.</p><h2>Gender and politics in Armenia: a troubled past</h2><p>The recent history of Armenia’s organised anti-gender movement starts in 2012, with <a href="https://armenianweekly.com/2012/05/15/hate-crime-targets-gay-friendly-bar-in-yerevan-mps-bail-out-assailants/">the bombing of Yerevan’s DIY Rock Pub</a> just two days before parliamentary elections in May that year. It was targeted because its owner, Armine Oganesova, was a lesbian and an active member of the LGBT community.</p><p><iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PvGtqaEqmhc" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Discussions surrounding the attack immediately entered the theatre of politics when two MPs of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) bailed out the assailants. The days and weeks following the bombing saw a flurry of discussions about homophobia and national values that was capitalised on by members of all parties, including the RPA. Among the politicians who justified the attack was Republican Party spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov, who <a href="https://eurasianet.org/armenia-a-blurry-line-in-yerevan-between-hate-crime-and-defense-of-national-interests">called</a> the bombing “completely right and justified”. Many of those who spoke up in support of Artsvik Minasyan, the ARF MP who bailed out the assailants and called LGBT people “destructive to Armenian society”, suddenly received a great deal of <a href="https://eurasianet.org/armenia-a-blurry-line-in-yerevan-between-hate-crime-and-defense-of-national-interests">popular support</a> on social media. The assailants were <a href="https://epress.am/en/2013/10/24/amnesty-granted-to-brothers-accused-of-bombing-gay-friendly-bar-diy.html">given</a> full amnesty later that year.</p><p dir="ltr">The following year saw another bout of “gender hysteria”. In May 2013, the Armenian parliament held hearings for <a href="http://www.parliament.am/drafts.php?sel=showdraft&amp;DraftID=28173">Law no. 57</a> about “Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women,” which was to institutionalise additional mechanisms to ensure gender equality. The bill was a slightly adapted version of a law proposed in 2009, which <a href="https://armenianweekly.com/2013/09/20/the-gender-equality-law-hysteria-in-armenia/">came up</a> again regularly throughout following years. It provoked no backlash until its reintroduction in 2013.</p><p dir="ltr">In July 2013, Armenia <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/armenia-chooses-russia-over-eu/">completed</a> technical talks over a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, paving the way towards an Association Agreement. But in September 2013, then-President Serzh Sargsyan drastically altered the course of negotiations when he <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/armenia-eu-customs-union/25095145.html">announced</a> that Armenia would instead join the competing Russian-led Customs Union. “It basically dooms projects for greater economic integration with the European Union,” Caucasus analyst Thomas de Waal <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/armenia-customs-union-eu--association-agreement/25095833.html">told</a> RFE/FRL at the time.</p><p dir="ltr">It is within this context that Arman Boshyan co-founded the Pan-Armenian Parent Committee (PAPC), an anti-gender group which organised a public campaign in support of national values in 2013 — just as Armenia’s leadership were occupied with geopolitical choices. The Parent Committee is no longer active, but Boshyan explains that it has left a legacy. “We created the Pan-Armenian Child and Parent Coalition in 2015,” says Boshyan, referring to a network of NGOs in Armenia committed to fighting LGBT activism and promoting traditional values.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 12.57.44.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 12.57.44.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arman Boshyan, 2014. Source: YouTube. </span></span></span>“I understood that gender identity norms were going to be implemented in Armenia, and I wanted to stop that,” says Boshyan on his reasons for founding the PAPC, referring to the 2013 equal opportunities legislation. Boshyan, a software developer, describes himself as “not pro-Russian, but pro-Armenian” – but for him, the safety of Armenia can only be provided by Russia. Outside of his involvement with the anti-gender movement, Boshyan has <a href="https://az.sputniknews.ru/radio/20170622/410803873/Arman-Boshyan-propaganda-izvrashcheniy-stalo-chastyu-nashey-kultury.html">written</a> extensively about “homosexual propaganda” spread by western agents, including for the Russian government-owned news agency Sputnik. The <a href="http://geoclub.info/">Yerevan Geopolitical Club</a>, which Boshyan also founded, is a Russian-language platform that hosts a staunch, if conspiratorial criticism of Europe and the United States in favour of Russia. “In the world today, there is a clash between two geopolitical poles, one is the west and the other is the Russian Federation with its allies […]. Today, only this eastern bloc has in this or that way presented a challenge to the values of dehumanisation,” he <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dG9S9U4TUw">told</a> TV channel Poznavatelnoe TV in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">Boshyan claims that the PAPC was always entirely self-funded, contradicting the <a href="http://www.womensupportcenter.org/publications/generalcommunity">assertions</a> of many gender activists, like FRIDA board member Anna Nikoghosyan, who strongly believes that it is backed by the Russian government. It was modelled off of the All-Russian Parental Resistance started by Sergey Kurginyan, a Russian public figure and founder of the nationalist <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essence_of_Time_(movement)">Essence of Time movement</a> who spoke with anger about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=169&amp;v=p-VSj08r6Lk">Russia’s lack of control over Armenia’s Velvet Revolution</a> earlier this year. Mamikon Hovsepyan, the Executive Director of PINK Armenia, says of the founding of the PAPC in 2013: “We found the same information, the same statements and articles [posted by the PAPC] in Russia. […]&nbsp;Then we found similar groups in <a href="http://rodkom.org">Ukraine</a>, Moldova, <a href="https://vk.com/club31866738">Belarus</a> – all with the same logos and the same information.”</p><p dir="ltr">In all these different countries, like in Armenia, local variations on the All-Russian Parental Resistance have popped up at times of critical negotiations with the EU. For Armenia in 2013, this meant that by the time &nbsp;Sargsyan unexpectedly <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/armenia-customs-union/25094560.html">rejected</a> the free trade agreement in favour of the Customs Union, the gender discussion had taken the forefront in political conversation. According to Hovsepyan, “very few people” were involved in protests against Sargsyan’s decision to go against the EU agreement in 2013. “We were 14 people and six or seven planners. […] The rest of society was not paying attention.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><h2>A New Armenia: hope at last?</h2><p>Armenia’s gender turmoil has not disappeared after 2013: public homophobic sentiment <a href="http://www.pinkarmenia.org/en/2016/06/prejudice-tolerance/">persists</a>, and there have been periodic outbursts of violence against queer people. In February 2018, a trans woman was <a href="https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/member-right-side-ngo-physically-attacked">brutally attacked</a> in her Yerevan apartment, which the assailant then locked her in and set on fire. In another case in April 2018, a man who <a href="https://armenpress.am/eng/news/929471.html">confessed</a> to stabbing a teenage boy who he believed to be gay. Both attackers have been <a href="https://epress.am/en/2018/04/05/demonstrators-in-yerevan-demand-fair-and-unbiased-investigation-into-hate-crimes.html">released</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The organised anti-gender movement in Armenia, however, has remained mostly stagnant until the Velvet Revolution this year. Since the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan, Anna Nikoghosyan says, violently homophobic sentiments have grown more common on social media, often linking homophobia to a nostalgia for Republican Party rule. “I’ve seen so many comments saying: ‘Of course I hated Serzh Sargsyan’s regime, but at least during his time nobody would dare to talk about LGBT rights.’”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/protest1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/protest1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>5 April 2018: a group of demonstrators, who held posters reading "We Demand a Fair Investigation," "No to Discrimination" and "Hatred Kills" gather outside the Armenian General Prosecutor’s Office in Yerevan to demand unbiased and comprehensive investigations into hate-motivated crimes and incidents. Source: <a href=https://epress.am/en/2018/04/05/demonstrators-in-yerevan-demand-fair-and-unbiased-investigation-into-hate-crimes.html>epress.am</a>. </span></span></span>As the revolution gained traction in April, and finally ended in a regime change in May, many queer Armenians had hope for a more egalitarian society. Yet the promise of a newly progressive society was definitively broken on 2 August, when roughly 40 residents in the southern village of Shurnukh broke into the home of queer activist Hayk Hakobyan. They then proceeded to <a href="http://oc-media.org/nine-queer-rights-activists-attacked-by-mob-in-armenia/">violently attack</a> Hakobyan and his guests, injuring nine people and sending two to the hospital. Police arrived an hour and a half later. “It seemed we would not survive,” Elvira Meliksetyan <a href="https://epress.am/ru/2018/08/04/%D0%9A%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%8C-%D1%87%D1%82%D0%BE-%D0%BD%D0%B5-%D0%B2%D1%8B%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BC-%D0%92-%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BC%D1%8F%D0%BD%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BC.html">told</a> Epress.am. “It was the first time that a big group of people were beating up LGBT people, and were not allowing them to escape,” says Nikoghosyan.</p><p dir="ltr">Hakobyan, who, like Armine Oganesova, has left Armenia after the attack, sees political motives behind the attack. He reports that the main assailant throughout the attack was Hakob Arshakian, the RPA-aligned village mayor, and his immediate relatives. Hakobyan’s family, a well-known family that had long opposed the RPA in Shurnukh and its surrounding region, had filed a complaint against Arshakian for corruption.</p><p dir="ltr">This was not the first time that Arshakian attacked Hakobyan. During the revolution earlier this year, Hakobyan and several other gender activists had organised a talk at the nearby Goris Press Club, where they previously held events featuring LGBT activists and representatives. The Press Club cancelled unexpectedly after Hakobyan posted a Facebook status calling his friends to the city around that time to protest against Serzh. At the same time, Hakobyan’s father and other relatives started receiving phone calls from Arshakian, who threatened them to stop Hakobyan from holding the rally. It was later revealed that the Goris Press Club had been threatened as well. The assailants from both the Shurnukh and the Goris attacks have since then been given collective pardon, and the investigation has been <a href="https://epress.am/en/2018/12/05/shurnukh-criminals-to-advantage-from-the-collective-pardon.html?fbclid=IwAR2v4lUiAwvZQLnC8axnCZQWASI3TfJICSpCbCNNcy3r7gvZikzil-j2LaA">closed</a>. Pashinyan has not spoken about the attacks.</p><p dir="ltr">Following the attacks, on 12 August, a rally was held in support of the villagers of Shurnukh, organised and attended by many supporters of the RPA. “I know it was an RPA event,” says Hakobyan, “because they were all there. Hakob [Arshakian], Pigh [conservative blogger Tigran Kocharyan], Artur Danielyan and Narek Malyan [both from the RPA-aligned online programme <a href="https://www.facebook.com/adekvadism/">Adekvad</a>] – they were all there.”</p><p dir="ltr">Throughout fall 2018, Yerevan has also witnessed several different protests that drew the link between the gender movement and Pashinyan’s government. “There were two,” says Women’s Rights Centre director Lara Aharonian. “There was one at Republic Square,” of about 50 people, including members of the Church, “and then a smaller one,” of around 30 or 40 people. A large anti-gender protest was planned for 15 November, the day that a Christian LGBT forum was to be held in Yerevan. The forum was cancelled when the Chief of the Police <a href="https://eurasianet.org/ahead-of-elections-armenias-opposition-attacks-lgbt-rights">announced</a> that he didn’t “consider it appropriate” to host the summit in Armenia, and the police released an official statement that it was not prepared to guarantee the security of the event. Only then was the anti-gender protest cancelled.</p><p dir="ltr">November also saw the appearance of rainbow stickers featuring Pashinyan’s face throughout Yerevan, with the slogan: “The gays support Pashinyan.” These stickers linked the viewer to the very scant website of an organisation called <a href="http://noahpride.org/">Noah Pride</a>, which boasts the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=37&amp;v=AVc81khoV8Y">organisation of a pride parade on 17 November</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 13.12.24.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 13.12.24.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A still from the Noah Pride video of a pride action in central Yerevan. Source: YouTube. </span></span></span>Investigating for Media.am, journalist Gegham Vardanyan <a href="https://media.am/en/fact-check-noah-pride">uncovered</a> that Noah Pride’s website was made on 1 November 2018, despite claiming to be founded in 2016. Neither PINK Armenia nor USAID, which the organisation lists as partners, have any existing links to it. It lists no names of team members or employees, and does not have any social media. It quotes an unnamed Noah Pride activist: “It is difficult to cope with a radically homophobic society, but there is no other way except a consistent and persistent explanation, appealing to the mind and sense of justice.&nbsp;[…] I am very pleased that the new head of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, perceive and implements this.” Activists and members of the LGBT community are highly suspicious of the organisation, which has had no history until now, and which nobody had heard of.</p><h2>The anti-gender movement united against Pashinyan</h2><p dir="ltr">“In Armenia, whenever there is an intense political situation, it is always the issue of gender and LGBT that are rising,” says Anna Nikoghosyan, and this has certainly been the case as the country leads towards elections. Though “gender” (and its anti-Armenian ramifications) have come up many times over the months since the revolution, they can be tied back each time to a party that benefits from discrediting Nikol Pashinyan. “It’s the same people who are leading [all the anti-gender movements], ever since 2013,” says Lara Aharonian.</p><p dir="ltr">In recent months, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/emil-sanamyan/saint-nick-of-armenia-how-nikol-pashinyan-rescued-armenia-and-made-it-merry">Nikol Pashinyan</a> has made statements that have ruffled feathers on both sides of the debate. “The LGBT issue is always a headache for a government,” he <a href="https://eurasianet.org/ahead-of-elections-armenias-opposition-attacks-lgbt-rights">said</a> in a recent speech. Pashinyan acknowledged the existence of LGBT Armenians, a radical step for those who consider queerness inherently unnatural to the country. Then, just a few minutes later, he also spoke about the USSR, referring to “sending [queer people] to prison,” or having them “hanged or shot” as at least “a solution” – as opposed to Armenia’s current atmosphere of denial.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/PA-36280309_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/PA-36280309_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>1 May: Nikol Pashinyan speaks in parliament. (c) Gevorg Ghazaryan/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“I’m not against minorities having rights,” says Boshyan, referring to gender and sexual minorities. “If you ask [them], if they are truthful, they will say that they are not oppressed, because the Armenian Constitution protects them.” Yet a deeper look at the various gender scandals throughout the years, and especially leading up to the elections, demonstrates both a great deal of homophobic violence, as well as a consistent trend of impunity for attackers.</p><p dir="ltr">Vigen Sargsyan’s question to the Prime Minister during this week’s pre-election debate hit on a sensitive issue. “Gender” has been ramped up to appear a serious threat to what many people consider to be defining Armenian values. In discussing the use of gender as a political tool, we must ask: Who is responsible for violence and impunity? Who has the most to gain from pulling the strings behind the hate?</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/anna-nikoghosyan/in-armenia-gender-is-geopolitical">In Armenia, gender is geopolitical</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/armine-ishkanian-maro-matosian/heated-debates-around-domestic-violence-in-armenia">Heated debates around domestic violence in Armenia </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/anahit-chilingaryan/restoring-faith-in-armenia-s-criminal-justice-system">Restoring faith in Armenia’s criminal justice system</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/anna-nikoghosyan/armenian-womens-place-protest">An Armenian woman’s place is at the protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ashot-gazazyan/on-border">On the edge: how rural Armenia is responding to the country&#039;s &quot;Velvet Revolution&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia 50.50 oD Russia Anna Bianca Roach Armenia Sat, 08 Dec 2018 12:59:30 +0000 Anna Bianca Roach 120911 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Attacks against women health workers show how workplace violence hurts us all https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ver-nica-mont-far/women-health-workplace-violence-hurts-us-all <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Violence in the health sector, where a majority of workers are women, accounts for a quarter of assaults at work – impacting societies at large.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image1_1.png" alt="Nurses and caregivers join a national strike in Auckland, New Zealand 2012. Photo: Flickr/Simon Oosterman. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nurses and caregivers join a national strike in Auckland, New Zealand 2012. Photo: Flickr/Simon Oosterman. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>The worldwide #MeToo movement has revealed how sexual harassment and assault are part of most women’s professional lives. However, we must not overlook other forms of violence that women suffer at work – and how this affects society at large. The experiences of emergency nurses and other health workers, a majority of whom around the world are women, shows this clearly.</p><p dir="ltr">Insults, humiliation, and discrimination have become ‘natural’ aspects of many work relationships. When attacked, many women do not report these incidents, not knowing who to turn to or out of fear of losing their jobs. Even worse, some women feel that violence is an inevitable ‘part of their jobs.’ </p><p dir="ltr">In Mexico, as many as <a href="http://www.inegi.org.mx/saladeprensa/boletines/2017/endireh/endireh2017_08.pdf">nine out of 10 women</a> who’ve experienced physical or sexual violence at work never asked their colleagues or supervisors for help or filed complaints to police or their employers.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Some women feel that violence is an inevitable ‘part of their jobs.’ </p><p dir="ltr">Men can also suffer violence and harassment in the workplace, but gender stereotyping and inequality in power relationships make women much more vulnerable to such abuse. They may find no relief at home either, with domestic violence a widespread problem. According to the United Nations' gender equality organisation, UN Women, <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/es/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures">35% of women around the world</a> have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Symptoms of violence at work include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, sleep disorders, attention deficit and memory problems. Women who face such abuse may leave their jobs, interrupting employment with consequences for current and future income (including fewer rights to pensions), exacerbating the already unacceptable global<a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/es/2017/03/onu-mujeres-afirma-que-la-brecha-salarial-del-23-entre-mujeres-y-hombres-es-un-robo/"> gender pay gap of 23%</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Even though workplace violence affects all sectors and all categories of workers, the health sector – where women make up the majority of workers around the world – best illustrates the seriousness of the situation.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/VMviolence2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/VMviolence2.png" alt="A protest of student nurses in Paris, France 2006. Photo: manu_le_manu/Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved. " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A protest of student nurses in Paris, France 2006. Photo: manu_le_manu/Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that violence in the health sector makes up <a href="http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/workplace/es/">a quarter</a> of all assaults that take place on the job. A 2011 <a href="https://www.ena.org/docs/default-source/resource-library/practice-resources/workplace-violence/2011-emergency-department-violence-surveillance-report.pdf?sfvrsn=5ad81911_4">report</a> from the United States found that 54% of emergency nurses reported experiencing violence at work within seven days of participating in this study.</p><p dir="ltr">When researchers ask nurses <a href="http://www.world-psi.org/sites/default/files/documents/research/en_gbvworkplacereport2018_final.pdf">where this violence comes from</a>, they point to patients and visitors on one hand, and colleagues and superiors on the other.</p><p dir="ltr">Work-related violence is also related to external factors. It intensifies in situations of war and economic crisis, for instance, and can be a consequence of privatisation and austerity measures which bring more deregulation and increased flexibility that enable more violence against workers in general. </p><p dir="ltr">The International Labour Organization (ILO) notes that risks of violence at work <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_dialogue/@actrav/documents/publication/wcms_117581.pdf">are seen to increase due to factors</a> like restructuring and other changes to production processes, insufficient staff numbers, excessive workloads, non-standard contracts and unsafe working environments. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">Violence at work can heighten fear and anxiety levels more widely in society.</span> </p><p dir="ltr">This doesn’t impact workers in these places only. As you can see in too many hospitals, exhaustion, depression and insufficient staffing affects the quality of services for patients and their families.</p><p dir="ltr">Violence at work can heighten fear and anxiety levels more widely in society. Victims and perpetrators can be employers and workers or “third parties” including clients, customers, service providers, users, patients and members of the public. Governments that introduce austerity measures, weakening public services, can also be considered third parties.</p><p dir="ltr">For this reason, <a href="http://www.world-psi.org/es/home">Public Services International</a> (PSI), where I work, has been advocating for the inclusion of this third parties’ concept in characterising work-related violence. We’ve seen how such violence can have a direct impact on the quality of public services – and how deteriorating work environments, and deregulating and dismantling the public sector to hand it over to private capital, can exacerbate risks of abuse. We must battle these forces.</p><p dir="ltr">Next year, the ILO will negotiate a new agreement to address violence and harassment against women and men at work. We’re celebrating the inclusion of the concept of ‘third parties’ that are impacted by such violence in this <a href="https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_637108.pdf">agreement’s draft text</a>. We must recognise how important dialogue and concrete action is, from employers, workers and governments. We are all victims of work-related violence. Eliminating it is a task for us all.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and economic justice violence against women women's work Verónica Montúfar Sat, 08 Dec 2018 08:05:00 +0000 Verónica Montúfar 120857 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the ‘Me Too’ movement in India is succeeding at last https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/raksha-kumar/me-too-india-succeeding-at-last <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Centuries of entrenched patriarchy cannot be upturned in a month. But this country finally looks ready for a feminist overhaul.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RK1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RK1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Students celebrating International Women's Day. Kolkata, 2017. Photo: Saikat Paul/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>This year, I've been a part of the Me Too revival in India, having joined countless other women in naming and shaming our abusers. </p><p dir="ltr">Like many Indian feminists, I've found the past few months exhilarating. Our gutsy movement might finally rewrite entrenched patriarchal norms, at least in workplaces. A government minister <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/17/indian-minister-mobashar-jawed-akbar-resigns-over-metoo-allegations">resigned</a>, a Bollywood production house shut down, senior newspaper editors stepped down, a millionaire casting director was sacked, academics were let go from universities – and <a href="https://thewire.in/women/all-you-need-to-know-three-weeks-of-metoo-and-its-big-impacts">the list of major impacts continues</a> with fresh allegations still unfolding. </p><p dir="ltr">Attempts in 2017 to ignite a Me Too movement in India were nowhere near as effective. These began in October 2017, shortly after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in the US, and scores of women drew attention to the scale of sexual abuse with #MeToo posts on social media. That month, an Indian law student at the University of California Davis, <a href="https://scroll.in/article/855438/name-and-shame-list-indian-women-students-explain-why-they-dont-trust-official-sexual-abuse-panels">released a list</a> on Facebook with names of senior academics accused of sexual harassment. </p><h2 dir="ltr">The LoSHA list</h2><p dir="ltr">Raya Sarkar’s LoSHA (List of Sexual Harassers in Academia, as it came to be known on Twitter) left many feminists uncomfortable, including myself. </p><p dir="ltr">It was a crowd-sourced list – an open Google spreadsheet, which could be edited by anyone with the link. It named perpetrators in one column and survivors in another, but in almost all cases it lacked details of specific allegations. In principle, its open-access structure also meant that anyone could add a survivor’s name to the list, even without their consent. </p><p dir="ltr">Not only did the alleged perpetrators not face any legal actions or university sanctions, some of the renowned academics named on the list even garnered sympathy: it was seen to violate their rights to due process. The Me Too movement in India failed to gain traction and eventually dissipated.</p><p dir="ltr">What’s different this year? Many feminists have <a href="https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/a-dalit-womans-thoughts-on-metooindia-5402538/lite/?__twitter_impression=true">contended</a> that Me Too allegations by Indian women weren’t taken seriously by the press or the public in 2017 because Dalit women, like Sarkar, led the campaigns. In contrast, women steering the 2018 movement are <a href="https://twitter.com/IndiaMeToo/status/1055418627955023872">from influential castes</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Dalits are <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CEDAW/RuralWomen/FEDONavsarjanTrustIDS.pdf">historically oppressed castes</a>. A Dalit woman who names her abuser is more likely to face social ostracisation, disbelief and stigma. But Sarkar’s 2017 LoSHA was vital. It laid the groundwork for this year’s advances. For many of us who outed perpetrators of abuse and harassment in 2018, it showed us precisely the landmines to steer clear of.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It showed us precisely the landmines to steer clear of”</p><p dir="ltr">This year’s movement began in September, when a Bollywood actor <a href="https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/after-tanushree-dutta-alleges-nana-patekar-harassed-her-while-filming-song-choreographer-says-it-nev-1923062">alleged that a senior male colleague had sexually harassed</a> her in 2008. Soon after, allegations of abuse surfaced among well-known <a href="https://www.newsbytesapp.com/timeline/Entertainment/33406/148154/comedian-utsav-chakraborty-allegedly-harasses-minor-girls-online">stand-up comedians</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.todayonline.com/world/metoos-twitter-gatekeepers-power-peoples-campaign-india?fbclid=IwAR1QGvB9c0MZmq0e9VB5Dbm3kCTe6AuhuWq10GFajPKl1Ilt0mEePqsmY58">first few women </a>who named perpetrators on social media were inundated with private messages from other women detailing their own experiences of harassment and assault. Some remained anonymous; others wanted their stories to be public. The women receiving these waves of allegations became ‘gatekeepers’ for the Me Too revival.</p><p dir="ltr">This is a crucial cog that was missing in 2017’s LoSHA campaign. This loose collective of gatekeepers spend time talking to survivors and learning more details of the time, place and nature of abuse before outing perpetrators. They ensure that survivors are not re-traumatised, but that their stories have enough details that other people can corroborate them. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RK2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RK2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Producer Vinta Nanda at a press conference discussing Me Too. Mumbai, 2018. Photo: Hindustan Times/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This time, the only Google spreadsheet is a list of lawyers and mental health professionals who have volunteered time and services to support survivors. </p><p dir="ltr">Another crucial difference in the ‘second wave’ of this movement is the larger number of women who have mustered-up the courage to name their abusers and harassers. Thanks to Sarkar’s work last year, the burden of stigma had already started to shift onto perpetrators. The first disruption was necessary for the second to make strides forward. LoSHA loosened the lid of the bottle.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“This time, the only Google spreadsheet is a list of lawyers and mental health professionals who volunteered to support survivors” </p><p dir="ltr">In October 2018, Mobashar Jawed Akbar, a former leading newspaper editor, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/17/indian-minister-mobashar-jawed-akbar-resigns-over-metoo-allegations">resigned</a> from his post as a junior foreign minister after <a href="https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/central-minister-mj-akbar-resigns-over-sexual-harassment-charges-90121">27 women</a> accused him of sexual harassment. More than half of these women were not anonymous. (Akbar denied all allegations and filed an ongoing defamation case against the first woman to accuse him). </p><p dir="ltr">More women are outing perpetrators online, but the Me Too movement in India is also pursuing court cases and knocking on the doors of Internal Complaints Committees at their workplaces. More than 20 women have also pledged to testify in court against Akbar, for example. </p><p dir="ltr">The 2017 LoSHA list was criticised for not following “due process” regarding alleged perpetrators. But this “due process” emphasis is also insufficient, too narrowly defining what justice looks like for survivors, and incorrectly assuming it means the same thing for all women. This year, many survivors have come forward about their experiences explicitly stating that they do not want to pursue legal cases. Some only want an apology, or their jobs back.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The POSH Act</h2><p dir="ltr">In 2013, India’s parliament passed the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Harassment_of_Women_at_Workplace_(Prevention,_Prohibition_and_Redressal)_Act,_2013">Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act</a>, also known as the POSH Act. But its implementation has been negligible. The Me Too movement’s current wave has pushed from its start for this to change – via Twitter and public <a href="http://www.nwmindia.org/component/k2/nwmi-statement-on-me-too-in-indian-media">statements</a>, <a href="https://www.newsnation.in/entertainment/bollywood-news/metoo-movement-mumbai-court-rejects-alok-nath-wife-plea-for-restraining-order-against-vinta-nanda-article-205765.html">letters</a> and petitions to government authorities. </p><p dir="ltr">In response, on 24 October the government <a href="https://www.livemint.com/Politics/2m9XF9azvk00SVpiFZzUPI/Govt-sets-up-GoM-to-look-into-sexual-harassment-at-workplace.html">convened a group of ministers</a>, headed by home minister Rajnath Singh, to examine legal and institutional frameworks for dealing with workplace sexual harassment. The National Commission for Women also <a href="https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/metoo-ncw-launches-dedicated-email-to-report-sexual-harassment-at-workplace/article25258112.ece">reached out to several women</a> on Twitter and accepted their petitions, promising to take action. </p><p dir="ltr">This may be nothing more than lip-service. But recent supreme court verdicts <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/india-decriminalises-gay-sex-landmark-verdict-180906051219637.html">decriminalising homosexuality</a> and <a href="https://www.firstpost.com/india/sabarimala-verdict-sc-says-women-can-visit-shrine-but-female-devotees-may-keep-out-to-protect-lord-ayyappas-celibacy-5285391.html">allowing menstruating women</a> into shrines suggest those in power are finally taking gender equality seriously. Though there are still many pressing questions. </p><p dir="ltr">Many of the men who have been accused of harassment or assault in both waves of the Me Too movement in India are powerful, yet supposedly progressive, figures <a href="https://www.inuth.com/india/theres-a-storm-coming-has-indian-medias-metoo-moment-finally-arrived/">the media industry</a>. What made these ‘liberal’ men ignore the basic principle of consent in their own workplaces? </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“What made ‘liberal’ men ignore the basic principle of consent in their own workplaces?”</p><p dir="ltr">For decades, the veteran broadcast journalist and editor Vinod Dua has criticised religious inequality, caste-based discrimination and undemocratic processes in India. He too has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. He has denied all charges. </p><p dir="ltr">Criticising government politics or social norms was easier for these men than looking critically at their own behavior, practices and thoughts. These men were not taught how not to be abusive, while women were told to be always on guard. These men could transgress accepted social boundaries, while women had to tolerate abuse today for the promise of a better tomorrow.</p><p dir="ltr">Women’s spaces, whether community spaces or friendship networks, have always had their whisper networks. Me Too campaigns have dared to share these online, using social media to alter the social order. Of course, centuries of entrenched patriarchy cannot be upturned in a month. But this country finally looks ready for a feminist overhaul. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/whats-next-for-metoo-movement">What’s next for the MeToo movement?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 India Civil society Equality International politics Internet World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media women's movements violence against women Sexual violence feminism Raksha Kumar Fri, 07 Dec 2018 08:02:44 +0000 Raksha Kumar 120856 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Christian conservatives are trying to influence the media in Ukraine https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tetiana-kozak/christian-conservatives-media-influence-ukraine <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Novomedia forum in Kyiv offered an up-close look at the communications strategies of internationally-connected ultra-conservatives.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39788983.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39788983.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>LGBT rights are under attack from Christian conservatives in Ukraine. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>At the entrance to the Kyiv conference and event centre, copies of the New Testament were on sale along with a handbook for followers of Ruslan Kukharchuk entitled “The Mandate”, and several books on journalism and “eternal values”, published by his organisation, Novomedia.</p><p>Kukharchuk, a Protestant minister, is a prominent “pro-family” figure in Ukraine who has led an anti-LGBT campaign in the country since the early 2000s. In early November, he opened the annual forum of <a href="http://novomedia.ua/">Novomedia</a>, an association of Christian media workers in Ukraine.</p><p dir="ltr">Journalism, he told his audience of around 350 current and future media workers, is “a civic profession, which is why values are important for it. These are eternal values — the values of truth, facts, goodness, Christian traditions and a balance of opinion that serves the search for truth”.</p><p dir="ltr">He contrasted a “fight for a balance of opinions which serves the search for truth” with “propaganda and popularisation of deviations and unhealthy inclinations”, giving as examples interviews “with both victims of violence and maniacs”, or “with a paedophile who says that’s his sexual orientation”.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“You know this is a new trend”, Kukharchuk elaborated. “Paedophilia is starting to be seen as a sexual orientation! And believe it or not, in five years time they’ll prove it! Then we have to save and preserve our children”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We have to save and preserve our children”</p><p dir="ltr">Conservative and far-right voices have become louder in Ukraine since the 2014 EuroMaidan revolution and the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych. Defending “universal” or “traditional” values, they’ve attacked proposed laws they don’t like, artists, feminists and LGBT rights activists.</p><p dir="ltr">Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and war in Donbass, also in 2014, these groups have increasingly looked west for ideas and support, from the US and other European countries where conservative and far right movements enjoy growing power.</p><p dir="ltr">The Novomedia forum in Kyiv offered an up-close look at the communications strategies of these internationally-connected movements – and how they’re trying to influence journalism, and politics, in Ukraine.</p><p dir="ltr">Along with frequent references to Christian values, speakers echoed US President Donald Trump’s obsession with “fake news”.</p><p dir="ltr">Kukharchuk claimed that few people in journalism, as in academia, are searching for truth anymore – referencing the recent case of three US researchers who published fake research in sociology journals to expose what they saw as <a href="https://phys.org/news/2018-10-real-fake-hoodwinks-journals.html">ideological bias</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">He also shared supposed examples of “fake science” – for instance, ideas he summarised as “we need to abolish all gender roles and differences between men and women. They are all the same, and daring to say that boys and girls are different is flagrant obscurantism”.</p><p dir="ltr">Further ridiculing struggles against gender stereotypes, he asked the assembled participants: “What has more value for an audience, a real event or the personal emotions and concerns of someone who interprets events?”</p><p dir="ltr">Answering his question, he said: “For men, as I understand it, it’s a question of events; for women, it’s interpretations. Of course, what I’ve just said is a blatant gender stereotype of the type that we need to ‘fight against’”. </p><h2>Preaching “eternal values”</h2><p dir="ltr">Novomedia was founded more than a decade ago, in 2004. It has preached about “eternal values” at its annual forum in Kyiv since 2011.</p><p dir="ltr">More than 100 media experts and journalists have attended these events, including those from leading Ukrainian publications. In 2017, the headliner was Seva Novgorodtsev, a former BBC radio presenter legendary in the Russian-speaking world.</p><p dir="ltr">This year’s programme mixed sermon-like talks from figures like Kukharchuk with popular master classes by prominent TV or radio hosts on how to become a professional radio DJ; live presentation techniques; conducting interviews; and working as a multi-platform journalist.</p><p dir="ltr">Discussions at the forum also touched on topical themes like the safety of journalists, freedom of speech, and war and political journalism – increasingly relevant subjects in Ukraine.</p><p dir="ltr">But the event’s links to Christian conservative movements were not hidden. On registration, participants received folders containing the conference programme along with “pro-family” advertisements, leaflets and magnets bearing the words “All together for the family”.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www1.cbn.com/">CBN</a>, a US evangelical TV and radio network, was among the forum’s sponsors along with a Ukrainian construction and investment company, NovaBudova, whose director-general Yevhen Savochka has <a href="https://www.epravda.com.ua/news/2018/02/13/634041/">participated</a> in the annual US National Prayer Breakfast.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-29956487.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-29956487.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump the National Prayer Breakfast, 2017. Photo: Win Mcnamee/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After Kukharchuk took the stage, the forum was blessed by Mykola Myshkovsky, a Roman Catholic priest and editor of a <a href="https://credo.press">Vinnytsa-based religious media outlet</a>. As the audience stood for the prayer, the room was filled with the sound of people repeating Myshkovsky’s words.</p><p dir="ltr">This year’s headliner was well-known Ukrainian TV presenter Olha Freimut, whose recent book (<a href="https://vivat-book.com.ua/non_fiction_literatura/etiket-shkola-pani-freymut">“Miss Freimut’s Etiquette School”</a>) was published to scandalous reception. Commenters on social media have slated Freimut’s advice on how to become a “real lady” as misleading and potentially harmful.</p><p dir="ltr">Brushing over this, Freimut talked at the forum about the long road from her childhood in a small village in western Ukraine to stardom in national journalism. It took more than hard work and daring to get there, she said.</p><p dir="ltr">“I always knew that I was being led by a higher force. And what is impossible for people is possible with God. Everyone has their own source of strength, but I have always followed my path with help from heaven”. </p><h2>“A global right-wing renaissance”</h2><p dir="ltr">A whole panel session was devoted to conservatism and the media, with Kukharchuk, Ukrainian MP Ihor Lutsenko, and editor-in-chief of the Vgolos news agency Yury Gritsyk. They talked about the need to create conservative media or the possibility that some existing outlets could swing to the right.</p><p dir="ltr">“The global right-wing renaissance is a revolution”, said Lutsenko, himself a former journalist and <a href="https://www.kyivpost.com/article/content/euromaidan/lutsenko-recounts-kidnapping-beating-by-death-squad-with-political-agenda-335605.html">prominent figure</a> in the 2014 EuroMaidan protests. This “sharp confrontation”, he said, “could also have quite an interesting future” in Ukraine, where there are “a wide range of possibilities”.</p><p dir="ltr">“But we lack the ability to translate these ideas into reality”, continued the MP, whose parliamentary advisor is Serhiy Mazur, a coordinator of the far-right C14 group which <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/26/ukraine-fatal-attack-roma-settlement">human rights activists say</a> is one of several radical groups that have recently attacked Roma settlements and LGBT people.</p><p dir="ltr">“And since this confrontation is already before us, in this context these media can give us an opportunity to reduce the level of hate and even prevent violence”, Lutsenko said, clicking through his presentation slides which included a portrait of Donald Trump.</p><p dir="ltr">“We know that there have been <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-lgbt-march/kiev-police-detain-56-far-right-protesters-against-gay-pride-march-idUSKBN1JD05H">attacks on Gay parades</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ganna-sokolova/can-integration-help-ukraines-roma">inter-ethnic clashes</a>”, he said, “but this was because these were the only possible form of protest and expression of Ukraine’s conservative renaissance”.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Lutsenko.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Lutsenko.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ihor Lutsenko, 2012. Photo: Leonst/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.</span></span></span>Lutsenko read out a list of left-liberal opponents for Ukrainian conservatives, starting with independent TV and radio station <a href="https://en.hromadske.ua/">Hromadske</a> (which was ironic, as its programmes have <a href="https://news.liga.net/all/pr/vosem-jurnalistov-i-redaktsiy---laureaty-novomedia-awards-2018">received</a> several Novomedia awards for their coverage of Christian themes). </p><p>Other named “agents of left-liberal influence” included the <a href="http://www.irf.ua/en/about/irf/">International Renaissance Foundation</a>, part of the Open Society Foundations network, “thousands” of sexual and reproductive rights organisations “with massive budgets”, and Ukraine’s <a href="http://www.cje.org.ua/en">Commission on Journalist Ethics</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">“This is a kind of lobbying industry, copied from the Western model”, Lutsenko claimed. Along with Kukharchuk, he accused left-liberals of vanity, antagonism towards dissenting views, and “double standards”.</p><p dir="ltr">“A particular model of thought is being promoted as an absolute truth which rejects any alternative thinking”, Kukharchuk said.</p><p dir="ltr">“We haven’t even got to the stage of creating a national education system, but we’re already readily accepting that which others are trying to force on us, those things that Europe itself is now starting to reject”, added Gritsyk.</p><p dir="ltr">Universities are dropping history and other courses that could raise responsible parents and “defenders of our fatherland”, he said, replacing them with those teaching tolerance of “sexually depraved minorities”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Liberalism is destroying Europe,” the Vgolos editor continued. “We are all being brainwashed into thinking that traditions are bad… We will all quietly, imperceptibly turn into liberals”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We are all being brainwashed into thinking that traditions are bad”</p><p dir="ltr">The specific, “pro-family” and evangelical rhetoric of the forum was hardly surprising, given Kukharchuk’s public and political activities.</p><p>In addition to leading the Novomedia association, Kukharchuk heads the “Love versus Homosexuality” movement, which holds counter-demonstrations during Kyiv’s annual March of Equality (for the fifth time this year), and the ‘pro-family’ <a href="https://vsirazom.ua">“All Together”</a> (<em>Vsi razom</em>) movement.</p><p dir="ltr">The “All Together” movement – which defines families narrowly, excluding those with LGBT parents – organises a “Marathon of Family Festivals” in cities around Ukraine. Its activists have also lobbied local and central government to pass laws protecting “traditional family values”.</p><p dir="ltr">This fall, more than 50 local councils <a href="http://vsirazom.ua/council">called on the Ukrainian government</a> to criminalise “homosexual propaganda”; delete the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the Labour Code; and preserve the constitution’s definition of marriage as between a man and woman only.</p><p dir="ltr">A recent draft bill, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/ukraine-targets-same-sex-relationships">aiming to implement most of these changes</a>, cited the work of “All Together” as evidence of social demand for them.</p><p dir="ltr">The Novomedia association has also <a href="https://blogs.pravda.com.ua/authors/zhdanov/5b2e985935318/">defended</a> Hanna Turchynova, a head of faculty at the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University, after she wrote a controversial series of articles against “gender ideology”, which prompted calls for her dismissal from human rights campaigners.</p><p dir="ltr">“The main aim [of gender ideology] is overcoming heterosexuality”, <a href="https://censor.net.ua/blogs/3070251/gomodiktatura_chastina_1_yak_rozbeschuvati_dteyi">wrote</a> Turchynova, who is married to Oleksandr Turchynov, the current Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council (who recently became <a href="https://nv.ua/ukraine/events/protestantskie-tserkvi-ukrainy-obedinilis-v-edinyj-obshchestvennoe-dvizhenie-kto-eho-budet-koordinirovat-2496206.html">coordinator of the country’s Union of Protestant Churches</a>).</p><p dir="ltr">As the Zaborona media outlet <a href="http://zaborona.com/interactive/radical-discriminators/8/">reported</a>, before the EuroMaidan revolution and the war in eastern Ukraine, Kukharchuk had also enjoyed friendly relations with Christian activist organisations in Russia, although later these groups supported the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass.</p><p dir="ltr">In his opening remarks, amid references to “His Excellency, the Fact”, Kukharchuk showed off his pastor skills, reproving his audience (“you’re missing the places where you need to clap”).</p><p dir="ltr">Several of the journalists who spoke at the forum, however, privately admitted they hadn’t realised quite what sort of event it was, and have no intention of attending again.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost/anti-abortion-propaganda-cinemas-america">This is how anti-abortion propaganda gets into US cinemas</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 oD Russia Ukraine Culture Equality International politics Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash gender Tetiana Kozak Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:58:31 +0000 Tetiana Kozak 120847 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Now, every woman knows she needs to fight violence everywhere’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/julienne-lusenge-congo-sexual-violence-metoo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Congolese activist Julienne Lusenge talks about the struggle to end wartime sexual violence and why she appreciates the MeToo campaign.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="300" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xSQ9aQqXxgk?cc_load_policy=1" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">‘Now, every woman knows she needs to fight violence everywhere’, the Congolese human rights activist Julienne Lusenge told me on the sidelines of the Council of Europe’s <a href="https://www.coe.int/web/world-forum-democracy">World Forum for Democracy</a>&nbsp;last month. </p><p>In a video interview with <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a>, she talks about the struggle to end wartime sexual violence and why she appreciates the MeToo campaign. A lightly edited transcript of this conversation is below.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Nandini Archer (NA): Tell me a little about your work.</strong></p><p><strong>Julienne Lusenge (JL):</strong> I’m Julienne Lusenge, and I’m an activist. We support women survivors of violence in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] and we promote peace in our country.</p><p><strong>NA: What do you think is the biggest misconception, or what’s the least understood, about wartime sexual violence?</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>JL:</strong> I think people don’t understand why violence continues to develop in the DRC. If we don’t work for peace, to restore peace in our country, we won’t put an end to violence against women, and so we need to work for peace.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NA: And what have been some of the biggest successes in recent years? Wartime sexual violence has been in the international news a lot.</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>JL:</strong> The big success is that each woman knows that she needs to fight violence, everywhere… And we saw survivors come together to fight sexual abuse.</p><p>We see young people denounce it, even if they have abuse from teachers or pressure, they denounce that. And we now see some judges engaged, to fight this violence, and we now we see our government recognise this situation. </p><p>In the past, our government did not accept to recognise that this violence is a big problem in our country. And now we see that in the world, people are coming together to say we need to fight violence. </p><p>I appreciate the campaign MeToo, because it allows each women to denounce this. In the past, people thought it’s only in poor countries, as the DRC, that violence, abuse or sexual abuse is a very big problem. Now we know that, even in America or Europe, it’s a problem. Women know that each woman, wherever she is, she can be victim – and we need to come together to fight this.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">In the past, people thought it’s only in poor countries, as the DRC, that violence, abuse or sexual abuse is a very big problem. Now we know that, even in America or Europe, it’s a problem.</p><p dir="ltr">In the DRC, war is about resources, they come to steal our resources, and they kill us. They need to take the space; they need to push people out. </p><p>Today, in Beni, Uganda’s rebels come and kill everyone. It’s not possible. But the European people know; the European Commission knows; the USA knows; they know. The leaders in the world know, but they don’t take action.</p><p dir="ltr">When Ebola happened in Beni, they came and said, ‘we need to fight Ebola, we need to fight Ebola’. But people said: How can you fight only Ebola? And you don’t fight those rebels who kill us everyday. You need you to fight to rebels and to fight Ebola. So we can be in peace and go to our field and work.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NA: And what do you feel most proud of in your work?</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>JL:</strong> Maybe I can give you just one example – I have many examples to give to you. Because we have today, I can show you, children who were born from rape, and today they grow; they study; they have diplomas; and they continue to study in university. Some of them have babies, today they are married, and some women who came to us as victims, today they are activists – they help themseves, and other survivors, to stand up to continue fighting.</p><p dir="ltr">But we aren’t finished, we continue to work; we continue to help women; we continue to mobilise money for the grassroots; and we continue to do advocacy everywhere, internationally, nationally and locally – we go to meet authorities to speak to them. When I went to the UN council, I spoke to them, I told them that they must understand that women in the DRC need peace. And we don’t need any other resolution. Now we have enough resolutions. We need just them to implement those resolutions – that can help. We have a big mission in the DRC and we need them to fight for peace. We need peace in the DRC.</p><p dir="ltr">We cannot understand how in the DRC women have no water, no electricity, no hospital. It’s not possible. This year, I went to a village in Beni. We gave women water; we organised that; we paid for that. Women came to me, they danced, they sang, they were very happy, because it’s the first time for them to have water in the village. Every time they went far to look for water, and rebels killed them, kidnapped them, raped them. Now they have water in the village. It gives me encouragement to continue to work, to continue to mobilise money.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">We cannot understand how in the DRC women have no water, no electricity, no hospital. It’s not possible.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><strong>NA:</strong> With the increased attention to sexual violence in wartime situations, has it changed anything in terms of the money you’re receiving?</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>JL:</strong> We cannot say that we have enough to continue to work, because it’s not enough. We need more money, and I need donors to understand that, even if we’re Congolese organisations, we have tools to manage money and we are clever and we are able to manage this money and to give reports. </p><p dir="ltr">Because every time they say ‘ah grassroots organisations, Congolese organisations cannot [do this]’. But we can do that, and we do that, because every year we do audits and we have some donors who gave us money ten years ago. We have this confidence. </p><p dir="ltr">But I need to say to donors to believe in us and to give us money. Congolese women’s group are able to manage money and change our country... We cannot have democracy in the DRC if women do not participate at the political level. And to have women in this place, we need to support them, we need to train them, so they can be able to participate in that way.</p><p><em>* 50.50 reported from the World Forum for Democracy (WFD) events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 WFD.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Democratic Republic of the Congo Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 50.50 Our Africa gender Sexual violence violence against women women and power women's human rights women's movements Nandini Archer Mon, 03 Dec 2018 08:40:03 +0000 Nandini Archer 120788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net #EscúchameTambién | 6 voices against gender based violence in Latin America https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta/esc-chametambi-n-maria-hermelinda-susana-taya-dora-and-bellanir- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We present 6 activists fighting against gender based violence across Latin America to give women a voice and to defend their dignity. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta/esc-chametambi-n-mar-hermelinda-susana-taya-y-dora-6-voces-contr">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Mujeres-2_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Mujeres-2_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The world is still very far from eliminating gender based violence. It’s estimated that around 35% of all women in the world have suffered some type of physical or sexual violence, an alarming figure given the international community proposes the eradication of the phenomenon by 2030, according to the 5th Sustainable Development Goal of the UN.&nbsp;</p> <p>The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is key in order to make this reality visible, however many activists in Latin America fighting against the grotesque rates of violence remain in the shadows.&nbsp;</p> <p>For these reasons we must go beyond the trends, the hashtags, and conventional media outlets, to commemorate the lesser known activists fighting for change.</p> <p>We present 6 of these activists fighting from North to South to give a voice to women who have experienced gender based violence and to defend their dignity.</p> <h3>1) Maria da Penha: she gave a name to the law against domestic violence in Brasil</h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/mariadapenha2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/mariadapenha2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="154" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Maria was shot by her husband whilst sleeping, leaving her paraplegic and in a wheelchair for life. The worst of all was his posterior attempt at electrocuting her after she survived the first attack. </p><p>Her case remained on hold due to an inefficient and highly sexist judicial system, whilst her husband remained free.</p> <p>Her relentless fight years later paved the way for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hold the Brazilian government responsible for her case, obligating the State to create a law to charge perpetrators with acts of domestic violence.</p> <p>This case gained significant media attention in Brazil and the government responded by creating the Maria da Penha law in 2006, which dealt with the issue of domestic violence.&nbsp;</p> <p>This law has guaranteed the rights of 3 million women who have since received assistance, and has ensured the prosecution of around 331,000 perpetrators.</p> <h3>2) Hermelinda Tiburcio: a strong indigenous voice against sexual violence</h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/hermelindatiburcio_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/hermelindatiburcio_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>In Mexico, in Costa Chica, Guerrero, Hermelinda represents the voices of indigenous women who suffer violence characterised by exclusion and social inequality.&nbsp;</p> <p>Her tireless struggle has led to her being threatened and chased to the point of suffering 3 assassination attempts. She was the first indigenous woman to publicly denounce a case of rape in which Mexican soldiers attacked two women from her community in 1999. </p> <p>Upon denouncing the government and the army, she was threatened until she received protection from the UN. Since then, her story has become a symbol of the fight to draw attention to the exclusion, violence and systematic discrimination indigenous women in particular suffer from.&nbsp;</p> <h3>3) Susana Chávez: she inspired the #NiUnaMenos movement against femicide</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/susanachavez_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/susanachavez_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>This activist and poet from Chihuahua, Mexico, combined her words with activism in defence of human rights and social movements in order to bring to light the horrific and systematic femicides that took place in Ciudad Juárez in the 90s.</p> <p>Her fight would later become a powerful movement that would spread across Latin America and the world. The hashtag #NiUnaMenos comes from a poem of the same wording she penned herself.</p> <p>However in January 2011, after denouncing members of the “Clan Azteca” as the perpetrators of a case of femicide, Susana became their next victim. She was only 36 years old.</p> <p>Thanks to Susana’s fight, femicide is now a recognised phenomenon throughout Mexico and the entire region of Latin America, and her poetry has become a driving force of one of the most powerful feminist mobilisations of the world.&nbsp;</p> <h3>4) Taya Carneiro: the Brazilian who fights to protect trans women</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/tayacarneiro_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/tayacarneiro_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>This woman from the outskirts of Brasilia is one of the voices that speaks out for trans women and the violence they suffer around the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2017, and at only 24 years of age, Taya became the president of the of the Libertarian Union of Trans Women of the District of Brasilia, leading a campaign to combat negative prejudices such as the idea that trans is a medical disorder.</p> <p>Her activism has focused on the investigation and creation of collectives that promote the rights of the LGBTI community and that improve general understandings of trans identity as a form of preventing gender based violence towards them, a significant problem in Brazil.&nbsp;</p> <p>Due to her activism and her research, she has presented her case of violence against trans women in New York for the UN International Youth Day.&nbsp;</p> <h3>5) Dora Coledesky: a key figure in the Argentine green tide movement&nbsp;</h3> <p>In Argentina, Dora is one of the most important figures that helped bring to life the green tide movement this year which mobilised millions in Argentina and across the world to demand legal abortion in the Southern Cone.&nbsp;</p> <p>From a very young age, her fight to legalise abortion thrusted her into the activist spotlight in order to change the law in Argentina through citizen mobilisation. Her aim was to gradually secure more rights and constitutional guarantees for women. </p> <p>She led the first ever organisation in Argentina that proposed the legalisation of abortion, the Commision for the Right to Legal Abortion in 1987, and her fight has prompted the articulation of laws that have gradually guaranteed more sexual and reproductive rights for women in Argentina even though there is a long way to go.</p> <h3>6) Bellanir Montes: the face of feminism in the periphery of Bogotá </h3> <p>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/bellanir_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/bellanir_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Bellanir Montes is a community leader in the locality of Ciudad Bolívar on the outskirts of Bogotá that has worked since the 90s fighting for women’s rights.&nbsp;</p> <p>She works tirelessly to promote the feminist cause and has been a part of numerous acts demanding an end to violence and the construction of peace in her community.&nbsp;</p> <p>After the tragic femicide of her daughter, Nayibe Reyes Montes, in 2011 who was killed trying to defend an abused woman, her fight only became stronger. Today, Bellanir is a part of the “Colectivo Nayibe”, one of the 13 organisations that make up the Network of Women of Ciudad Bolívar for Power and Peace.</p> <p>In this network, women fight to reverse the damaging gender roles that keep them in a submissive position and they advocate for the recognition of women in political and public spheres.</p> <p>They reinforce the value of women as active agents of transformation, participation and peace building, whilst redefining gender roles in the public and private space to mitigate acts of violence.</p> <p>These 6 stories of female activists that fight with passion and courage from Mexico and Brazil, to Colombia and Argentina have helped create international movements that define the new direction of women’s rights in the region and the entire world.</p> <p>There’s no doubt that their contributions, along with those of thousands of other brave women that risk their lives to fight for their rights, have been vital in order to move forward in the realms of women’s rights and the fight against gender based violence in Latin America.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta/abortolegalya-in-argentina-what-you-should-know">#AbortoLegalYa in Argentina: What you should know </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta/justiciaparaimelda-difficult-battle-for-women-s-rights-in-centra">#JusticiaParaImelda: the difficult battle for women’s rights in Central America</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta/justiciaparaberta-more-than-900-days-without-environmental-activ">#JusticiaParaBerta: More than 900 days without environmental activist Berta Cáceres</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta 50.50 Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality DemocraciaAbierta Wed, 28 Nov 2018 11:49:13 +0000 DemocraciaAbierta 120741 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Kenyan women are fighting for themselves in court https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-adam-bychawski/kenyan-women-fighting-for-themselves-in-court <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Winner of the Council of Europe’s 2018 Democracy Innovation Award talks about training women to represent themselves in Kenyan courts.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cqpDmKdaQOs" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p dir="ltr">“Access to justice in Kenya is still a very challenging thing for women and their children”, said Teresa Omondi Adeitan, from the <a href="https://www.fidakenya.org/">Federation of Women Lawyers</a> (FIDA) in Kenya, who knows more about this topic than most. </p><p dir="ltr">This challenge, she said on the sidelines of the Council of Europe’s <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy">World Forum for Democracy </a>(WFD), remains “because the government has yet to put in resources to ensure that everybody can be able to access justice in Kenya”. </p><p dir="ltr">Adeitan was one of 200 speakers from 80 countries at the WFD in Strasbourg, France earlier this week. The theme of the 2018 forum, attended by up to 2,000 people, was “Gender equality: whose battle?”</p><p dir="ltr">The Kenyan lawyer shared the experiences and approach of her organisation during a session on <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/lab-11-how-can-women-use-the-law-to-fight-gender-based-violence-">how women can use the law to fight gender-based violence</a>. On Wednesday, she was announced as the winner of the Council of Europe's 2018 Democracy Innovation Award.</p><p dir="ltr">Adeitan, who has worked at FIDA Kenya for seven years, told us about its work providing free legal aid services for women and children, so that they can access courts and justice systems and "get their rights".</p><p>“Self-representation of women in court is a key technique because we found out that the numbers of women who want to get justice in court are many more than the number of advocates we have”, she explained.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">"The numbers of women who want to get justice in court are many more than the number of advocates we have”</p><p dir="ltr">“As long as you can read, at least your literacy level is of average... then we can train you to be an advocate for yourself”, she said, describing how the organisation identifies and supports women to represent themselves in court.</p><p dir="ltr">This includes anticipating questions and tactics from the other side, Adeitan explained. “Like you know if you're in court and someone says 'you liar', the first thing you want to do is maybe cry and think 'how dare you call me [that]'”. </p><p dir="ltr">“That is a possible technique that will be used against you”, she said, with her advice to “be firm, be focused on what you want for yourself and your children”.</p><p>“We also teach them how to explain [their stories] to the judge without making assumption that the judge understands what they are going through,” she continued, for example in child maintenance and domestic violence cases.</p><p dir="ltr">“You have to take time and explain to the judge and produce your evidence step-by-step”, she said, describing other practical tips including dressing comfortably for the court and bringing something to eat.</p><p dir="ltr">So far, Adeitan said, this approach has been “quite successful".</p><p dir="ltr">"We have this joke in the organisation that they’re better lawyers than ourselves. Because they know what they experience, they know how to explain their issues, because it happened to them”. </p><p dir="ltr">“Especially in [child] custody and maintenance cases and domestic violence”, she said, women representing themselves seem to have higher success rates than those who have lawyers speaking for them. </p><p>FIDA Kenya has supported women to represent themselves in court for 15 years, providing training on key concepts and the steps in the legal process. </p><p dir="ltr">The Council of Europe’s Democracy Innovation Award is given each year to an initiative presented at the WFD, voted upon by forum participants.</p><p dir="ltr">Other nominees this year were <a href="http://strajkkobiet.eu/">Strajk kobiet</a> (Polish Women’s Strike), and <a href="http://www.musawah.org/">Musawah</a> – a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.</p> <p><i>* 50.50 reported on the World Forum for Democracy events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.</i></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 women's movements women and power gender Adam Bychawski Claire Provost Mon, 26 Nov 2018 08:15:45 +0000 Claire Provost and Adam Bychawski 120699 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'We're seeing a backlash to policies against online violence' https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/were-seeing-backlash-to-policies-against-online-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Asha Allen at the European Women's Lobby talks about perpetrators and forms of online violence – and what's needed to address them.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZDIx1Klf4pQ" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"></iframe></p><p>"To be clear, we see online violence [against] women and girls as just a continuum of all forms violence against women and girls", said Asha Allen, policy and campaigns officer at the<a href="https://www.womenlobby.org/"> European Women’s Lobby</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">At the Council of Europe’s<a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/"> World Forum for Democracy</a>, which this year was focused on gender equality, she spoke to us about perpetrators and different forms of online violence – and what needs to happen to address this.</p><p dir="ltr">"We have stalking, you have economic violence, you have psychological violence, sexual violence, so it’s a broad myriad of issues in regards to online violence", she said, describing work to study and address such cases.</p><p dir="ltr">"When we talk about this, there’s often not enough emphasis on the perpetrators, it’s often on survivors, on what they may need to do, or their experiences", Allen told us.</p><p dir="ltr">"And what we’re seeing at the moment", she continued, with a warning: "is an opposition movement, a backlash to policies on online violence against women and all forms of violence against women and girls".</p><h2>Online assaults</h2><p dir="ltr">The three-day World Forum for Democracy (WFD) in Strasbourg, France, closed on Wednesday. Addressing violence against women was a major theme. </p><p dir="ltr">More than 100 speakers presented their work and perspectives, including Allen who spoke along with a public policy and government relations analyst at Google during a session on how to <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/lab-6-how-to-create-safe-spaces-in-cyberspace-">create safe spaces in cyberspace</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">“In Spain, there are many feminist activists who have been harassed [online],” delegate Rocío Galvez Serrano <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/what-would-feminist-internet-look-like">told 50.50</a> after this session, adding that there seems to be “a kind of impunity to this”. </p><p dir="ltr">“The internet itself gives you the power to be anonymous and you have a free space to harass people,” she explained, arguing that “it’s the government’s responsibility [to address this]”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Independent legal oversight [of online violence] is important”, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/what-would-feminist-internet-look-like">added Menno Ettema</a>, from the Council of Europe’s Anti-Discrimination Department, but “how can this be done in a context where everything [happens] very quickly?”</p><p dir="ltr">Ettema described the goal as “an internet where everybody feels safe, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity… to participate, to express, to share information”, with reports of harassment taken seriously with quick responses.</p><h2>‘Protect and prosecute’</h2><p dir="ltr">Allen spoke to us about opposition to the Council of Europe's <a href="https://rm.coe.int/168008482e">convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence</a> (known as the Istanbul convention, which opened for signature in 2011). </p><p dir="ltr">This treaty, she explained, aims to protect survivors of violence, prosecute perpetrators, as well as to "make sure there are high levels of impunity to deter violence, to create prevention measures in terms of education".</p><p dir="ltr">Although more than 33 countries have ratified it, Allen described a loud and growing opposition towards this convention, including "a lot of misconception, a lot of misinterpretation, and deliberate creation of myths” about it. </p><p dir="ltr">This is “the first legally binding treaty we have that aims to eradicate violence against women,” Allen added, stressing its significance to create “a safer environment for all women and girls... [to] not need to live a life in fear”. </p><p dir="ltr">She blamed a deliberate “spreading of myths” for turning it “into a politically sensitive issue in several countries”, with “protests [against it] that include thousands of people on the streets of Croatia and Bulgaria”. </p><p dir="ltr">“The opposition forces we are seeing are coordinated movements that not only oppose the Istanbul convention but that maintain anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQI+, anti-migration, anti-European sentiments,” she continued. </p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">“The opposition forces we are seeing are coordinated movements that maintain anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQI+, anti-migration, anti-European sentiments” </p><p dir="ltr">She described this opposition as “berating the convention, the concept of gender as a social construct and denying that women and girls are at increased risk of violence,” claiming that the treaty “enforces a ‘gender ideology’”.</p><p dir="ltr">Opponents are also challenging the treaty’s education provisions, Allen said, “by claiming that the convention promotes homosexuality and gay marriage”.</p><p dir="ltr">The convention commits signatory states to include teaching material in formal curricula, at all levels of education, on issues including gender equality, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, and gender-based violence.</p><p dir="ltr">It doesn’t specifically reference online violence but calls on states to work with information and communication companies to create policies and standards “to prevent violence against women and to enhance respect for their dignity”.</p><h2>Hatred and ‘dehumanising’ messages</h2><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy's gender and sexuality section, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">50.50</a>, also organised a WFD<a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/roundtables-2018"> roundtable</a> with reporters from Poland and Italy involved in a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/tracking-backlash">special series</a> tracking the transnational backlash against sexual and reproductive rights. </p><p dir="ltr">This <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/tracking-backlash">series</a> has included several reports on how opponents of women’s and LGBT rights have used online and social media platforms to recruit new supporters and target people with hatred and ‘dehumanising’ messages. </p><p dir="ltr">While these platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, do have written policies against discriminatory and ‘hateful’ content there’s growing evidence, and recognition, that these <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/online-platforms-enable-deluge-hatred-against-trans-women-uk">aren’t working</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Amid an often toxic climate for women online, the European Women's Lobby has also produced<a href="https://www.womenlobby.org/IMG/pdf/hernetherrights_resource_pack_2017_web_version.pdf"> resources</a> to help internet users assess and address the risks they may face online, including from trolls and hate speech. </p><p dir="ltr">Their #HerNetHerRights resources were profiled by 50.50 in a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/ten-resources-targeted-hate-online">recent roundup</a> of tools and networks to help those facing 'targeted hate' online.</p><p dir="ltr">They recommend, for example, finding supportive communities online, collecting proof of abuse, blocking trolls and encrypting devices and files.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>*50.50 is reporting on this week’s events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the <a target="_blank" href="ttps://opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018">2018 World Forum for Democracy</a>. </em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Equality Internet Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's movements women's human rights violence against women young feminists Claire Provost Sophie Hemery Fri, 23 Nov 2018 08:08:43 +0000 Sophie Hemery and Claire Provost 120639 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What would a feminist internet look like? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/what-would-feminist-internet-look-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After World Forum for Democracy talks about creating safe spaces in cyberspace, we asked five delegates this difficult and pressing question.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3_0.png" alt="Florence Poilly at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Florence Poilly at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. </span></span></span>How to create safe spaces in cyberspace was one of the questions discussed at this week’s World Forum for Democracy at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. But what would a feminist internet really look like? After the discussion, we asked five delegates for their views.</p><h2>Florence Poilly, Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations</h2><p dir="ltr">We should begin by educating people in empathy. Sometimes we can’t have empathy when facing some hate speech, but we should be able to raise the standard and decide not to reply to hate speech. Because sometimes it is very difficult to not do it. But I think a feminist internet should raise the standard, and not answer to hate speech.</p><p dir="ltr">I think a lot of people do a wonderful job [trying to create safe spaces online] but it’s very hard to get funding and support because sometimes mostly male organisations don’t want to support the work because it gives women too much power.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I think a feminist internet should raise the standard, and not answer to hate speech”</p><h2>Arezoo Najibzadeh, Young Women’s Leadership Network</h2><p dir="ltr">Digital access is the biggest issue for me… We know in Northern communities and in rural communities it is much harder to [access] information, and access the internet, and in terms of education and being able to have a stronger voice within democratic and civic institutions and conversations, access to the internet proves to be a big issue for a lot of marginalised communities or countries with less access to global voices and the internet.</p><p dir="ltr">But also when we’re talking about global movements like #WeBelieveSurvivors and the #MeToo movement, we need to be more conscious of recognising the internet and websites like Twitter and Facebook as tools we can use to further our causes, and not necessarily credit these social media corporations for feminist work that’s been happening over ages.</p><p>And I think in the age of #MeToo, what we lose is the fact that it was a black woman [Tarana Burke] who was doing on-the-ground work who started the movement.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfdfeministinternet2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfdfeministinternet2.png" alt="Arezoo Najibzadeh at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arezoo Najibzadeh at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. </span></span></span></p><h2>Menno Ettema, Council of Europe’s Anti-Discrimination Department</h2><p dir="ltr">A feminist internet, for me, would look like an internet where everybody feels safe, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity… to participate, to express, to share information. And also that if you feel harassed, you can go somewhere to report [it] and it’s taken seriously and you get a quick response. Of course sometimes there are conflicts of opinion, conflicts of interest – and that should be fine, but this should be shared in a safe way for everyone.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“A feminist internet, for me, would be an internet where everybody feels safe, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity… to participate, to express, to share information.”</p><p dir="ltr">It’s also about respecting cultural differences and bridging these kinds of challenges to have a global community… For me the challenge is how do you do that in a space where you often communicate without faces or identities behind it… Intercultural learning, human rights education really needs space and time – people need to have safe spaces where they can grow and make mistakes and get positive feedback on how to see other perspectives and learn.</p><p dir="ltr">Internet companies own the platforms, but we should avoid them having a monopoly on what does and what doesn’t go. There are much broader discussions needed with NGOs that represent groups that are negatively affected at the moment… and governments, too… Independent legal oversight is important, but the question is how can this be done in a context where everything [happens] very quickly?</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfdfeministinternet1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfdfeministinternet1.png" alt="Rocío Galvez Serrano (left) from Spain and Andrea Toma from Romania at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rocío Galvez Serrano (left) from Spain and Andrea Toma from Romania at the World Forum for Democracy. Photo: Sophie Hemery. </span></span></span></p><h2>Andrea Toma, Amnesty International Romania</h2><p dir="ltr">I am a human rights educator and I’ve been doing trainings focused on gender equality and one of the workshops was actually focused on how to turn memes into something educational and something that benefits women, educating [people] on what women want and so on.</p><p dir="ltr">I believe that a feminist internet would necessarily be a safe space for women, which it’s not right now. But instead of saying ‘okay, memes can create more unsure spaces for women’, I wanted us to work on how we can use the memes to actually turn things [around]. We’re piloting this, so it was nice to have this friendly vision of ‘okay, memes can work like that’, can be thought through, can be documented, can make a campaign – including for feminist and gender equality campaigns. It was exciting to look at it from a different perspective.</p><h2>Rocio Galvez Serrano, Asociación Egeria Desarrollo Social</h2><p dir="ltr">I run a feminist organisation in Spain. I really don’t know how to create a safe space [online], because the internet itself gives you the power to be anonymous and you have a free space to harass people. I know that, in Spain, there are many feminist activists who have been harassed about their appearance, their dress… There is a kind of impunity to this. Maybe we can make specific laws to protect feminists, all activists… but I think the most vulnerable are women and feminist women. I think it’s the government’s responsibility [to address this].</p><p dir="ltr"><em>*50.50 is reporting on this week’s events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/whats-next-for-metoo-movement">What’s next for the MeToo movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sophie-hemery/online-platforms-enable-deluge-hatred-against-trans-women-uk">Online platforms have enabled “deluge of hatred against trans women” in the UK</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media feminism young feminists Sophie Hemery Thu, 22 Nov 2018 11:25:00 +0000 Sophie Hemery 120671 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What’s next for the MeToo movement? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/whats-next-for-metoo-movement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At the Council of Europe’s annual World Forum for Democracy, we asked five activists one simple question.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/WFD2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/WFD2.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Carola De Min and Valentina Corradi from the Council of Europe. At the World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg France 2018. Photo: Nandini Archer. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">What’s next for the MeToo movement? At the Council of Europe’s annual <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/">World Forum for Democracy</a> – which this year is focused on gender equality – we asked five activists one simple question.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Shiori Ito, Japan, freelance journalist </h2><p dir="ltr">Sexual violence exists everywhere in the world, no matter where you’re from, no matter what race or class you’re from.</p><p dir="ltr">[In Japan] we’re never taught what consent means. We live in a society where no sometimes means yes and how can we cope with that? We set our consent age as 13 years old and they don’t teach what consent is in school. </p><p dir="ltr">Only 4% of rape is reported to the police. 96% doesn't exist, it’s not there. Why? A lot of it is to do with the judicial system and how they handle the investigation, what kind of culture or idea they have against rape. </p><p dir="ltr">Personally, one of the hardest things I had to do in an investigation was I had to reenact the rape, I had to play around with a life-sized doll, to act out the rape, in front of three male investigators, and them taking photos.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Diana Bologova, Germany, European Youth Press</h2><p dir="ltr">The MeToo campaign for me was quite a big surprise. I first saw it from my Russian colleagues and I didnt believe that it’s for real. I thought that it’s a fake.</p><p dir="ltr">But this is very important, and that actually concerns every single girl, every single woman, and we have to go on. </p><p dir="ltr">And when I heard that this whole forum was based on that campaign and it was inspired by this campaign, I did everything to come here.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Joycia Thorat, India, the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action &nbsp;</h2><p dir="ltr">The MeToo movement is a cathartic moment for women, all the suppressed expression, the space was finally made available to speak about. Any space that allows women to be empowered is a good movement.</p><p dir="ltr">In India the main issue is that the MeToo movement is more limited to the upper class… Many times the experiences of violence against the Dalits or tribal children do not come out. They don’t have the media, they don’t have the social network, they don’t have the social means, the capacity, the power. </p><p dir="ltr">Recently we had a story of a 13-year-old young child girl who was killed because she said no to a man. Her neighbour was from the upper caste. She was a Dalit child. But no press, no paper, no-one, no judiciary, no governance system, wanted to mention the case. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/WFD3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/WFD3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Joycia Thorat from the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action. At the World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg France 2018. Photo: Nandini Archer.</span></span></span></p><h2 dir="ltr">Carola De Min, Italy, Council of Europe</h2><p dir="ltr">Women are now standing up for themselves, they feel a bit more confident. But there’s also this downside... there’s also an increase in bad comments, especially from men who accuse women of lying. </p><p dir="ltr">We need the authorities, the policemen and other systems to trust women and to know how to handle the cases because at the moment they don’t know. If the victims are asked what were you wearing, were you drunk, if someone says they were sexually harassed, for the most part, most of the time, it’s true. </p><p dir="ltr">The first step has to be education. Also to keep talking about it, and social media has a role here… because not talking about it will make it a taboo, which will enlarge the problem.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Harish Sadani, India, Men Against Violence and Abuse </h2><p dir="ltr">Toxic masculinity and male entitlement to power and privilege are the roots of all kinds of gender-based discrimination and violence against women.</p><p dir="ltr">This MeToo movement, we must understand the context in which it came. When the systems have not been working, the redressal or social justice mechanisms, which should have been formally placed in many establishments.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s a very strange thing in countries like india. You want to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, but without talking about sexuality. Can that happen? You are not addressing the root cause. And I find that strange.</p><p>In India, and I think in other parts [of the world] as well, the response of men to the MeToo campaign was not forthcoming… </p><p>[Some] raised their voice in support of the women, but not to the extent that the population was concerned, and there were large number of people from the literary field, sports, that were silent, who are still silent.</p><p><em>* 50.50 is reporting on this week’s events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018"" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace">Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Culture Equality World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media women's movements women's human rights women and power violence against women Sexual violence young feminists Sophie Hemery Nandini Archer Wed, 21 Nov 2018 08:09:27 +0000 Nandini Archer and Sophie Hemery 120638 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gender equality in Europe ‘advancing at snail’s pace’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-sophie-hemery/gender-equality-in-europe-advancing-at-snail-s-pace <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women's rights debates take centre stage at this year's World Forum for Democracy at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfd.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfd.png" alt="World Forum for Democracy delegates" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>World Forum for Democracy delegates. Image: Nandini Archer.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Gender equality in Europe is “advancing at a snail’s pace”, Thérèse Murphy of the European Institute for Gender Equality told delegates at the <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/home">World Forum for Democracy</a> in Strasbourg, France.</p><p dir="ltr">Murphy and other speakers reviewed different measures of gender equality in a fact-based introduction to the Council of Europe’s annual event, which is this year focused on the theme: “Gender equality: whose battle?”</p><p dir="ltr">Over the last decade, there has been very little progress made on gender equality in Europe overall, she said, warning: “There can be no democracy without mainstreaming gender into every aspect of public life and public discourse”.</p><p dir="ltr">“The decisions that are being made about our future and our environment are not being made in a gender equal way”, Murphy added, of the stark underrepresentation of women in environment ministries amid climate change concerns.</p><p dir="ltr">Up to 2,000 people from more than 60 countries are expected to attend the three-day forum, which began on Monday and is <a href="https://theshiftnews.com/2018/11/14/world-forum-for-democracy-dedicated-to-daphne-caruana-galizia/">dedicated to the Malta journalist</a> Daphne Caruana Galizia who was murdered last year.</p><p dir="ltr">More than 100 speakers are presenting their work and perspectives, including in plenaries on women’s public, political and economic participation and addressing sexism, discrimination and violence against women.</p><p dir="ltr">Other sessions will explore topics including faith and feminism, safe spaces in cyberspace, and masculinity and showcase initiatives to tackle gender inequalities and violence against women from around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">Spain’s Minister of Justice Dolores Delgado, Polish activist Marta Lempart, and Canadian educator and sexual violence support worker Farrah Khan were among those who spoke during the events on Monday.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfd2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/wfd2.png" alt="World Forum for Democracy speakers. " title="" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>World Forum for Democracy speakers. Image: Nandini Archer.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Links between democracy and gender equality, political polarisation and feminism, the impact of sexism on the planet, and the role of the #MeToo movement in forcing conversations on sexual harassment were among the topics discussed.</p><p dir="ltr">Annika Silva-Leander at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance surveyed figures on women’s political participation in different regions and cited several ‘concerning’ trends.</p><p dir="ltr">For the first time in more than 40 years, she said, more countries are declining rather than advancing in their democratic performance, while civic space is diminishing.</p><p dir="ltr">“We are deeply concerned about this because we know it has severe consequences for gender equality”, she said, though increased women’s participation is not enough to achieve more democratic societies.</p><p>Laura Silver, of the Pew Research Center based in Washington DC, spoke about the <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/03/08/strong-global-support-for-gender-equality-especially-among-women/">state of public opinion</a> towards gender equality in countries around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">While women are more likely than men to say that gender equality is “very important”, she said, in some places there seems to be an even more important “partisan gap” in people’s responses to such questions.</p><p dir="ltr">In the United States, Democratic party supporters are more than twice as likely to identify as feminists than Republicans, according to the center's research. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">From the audience, one delegate said that it was urgent to address the backlash in several countries against gender studies and feminism within education systems.</p><p>Another participant suggested that, amid concern over climate change, if women could “exercise more power that could prevent the destruction of humanity”.</p><p>On Twitter, another <a href="https://twitter.com/ArezooJaan/status/1064489286811168769">commented</a>: “Reminder: the 50/50 conversation about gender equality erases non-binary folks and dismisses issues faced by trans communities”.</p><p dir="ltr">The Council of Europe is the region’s largest institution focused on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The World Forum for Democracy was first held in 2012. </p><p>Previous editions of the event have focused on youth and politics, connecting citizens and institutions in the digital age, and the rise of populism.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is reporting on this week’s events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018"" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sophie-hemery/online-platforms-enable-deluge-hatred-against-trans-women-uk">Online platforms have enabled “deluge of hatred against trans women” in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gillian-kane/attacks-on-womens-ministries-are-threat-to-democracy">Attacks on women&#039;s ministries are a threat to democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 women's movements women's human rights women and power patriarchy young feminists Sophie Hemery Nandini Archer Tue, 20 Nov 2018 11:00:00 +0000 Nandini Archer and Sophie Hemery 120601 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ten resources if you’ve experienced targeted hate online https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/ten-resources-targeted-hate-online <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Online abuse of women and LGBTQ people is relentless. But there are resources to support you, from digital security to self-care tips.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/violenceonline (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/violenceonline (1).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Women deserve better' graffiti. Photo: Devon Buchanan /<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/divinenephron/6820220764/">Flickr.</a> CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>50.50 is increasingly exposing targeted hate online – and the findings have been distressing. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/us-evangelicals-target-lgbt-young-people-facebook-youtube-ads">Our investigation</a> into a US evangelical group found deliberate targeting of LGBT youth with ‘dehumanising’ Facebook and YouTube ads. Another report found that online platforms have enabled a '<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/online-platforms-enable-deluge-hatred-against-trans-women-uk">deluge of hatred against trans women</a>' in the UK.</p><p>We’ve also been on the receiving end of online abuse. One of our writers <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/tackling-trolls-how-women-fighting-back-online-bullies">has shared</a> some of the particularly nasty misogynistic abuse she’s received. 50.50’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/young-men-should-be-furious-inside-worlds-largest-mens-rights-activism">reporting</a> from an international conference on men’s issues in London unleashed a men's rights <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/feminism-is-cancer-mens-rights-activists-online-backlash">backlash</a> on social media and in the comments section of our article.</p><p dir="ltr">Amnesty International’s <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-1/">‘Toxic Twitter’</a> report, the Guardian’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/series/the-web-we-want">‘Web we want’</a> series, and the Women’s Media Centre <a href="http://www.womensmediacenter.com/speech-project">Speech Project</a> have documented how women of colour, LGBTQ people and women with disabilities experience the worst forms of online abuse.</p><p dir="ltr">But it’s crucial that trolls and other abusers don’t ruin the internet – which is also an important space for feminists to organise, learn from and communicate with one another and with wider communities of current or potential allies.</p><p dir="ltr">50.50 reached out to activists, journalists and allies for advice on responding to online abuse. Here is a round-up of some of the resources they shared with us.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1) #HerNetHerRights resources from the European Women's Lobby</strong>, including ‘<a href="https://www.womenlobby.org/IMG/pdf/hernetherrights_resource_pack_2017_web_version.pdf">The ‘Activist Toolkit</a>’, help internet users assess what risks they face, including trolls and hate speech, as well as how to take protective measures and respond to abuse. They recommend finding supportive communities online, collecting proof of abuse, blocking trolls and encrypting devices and files.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2) The Speak Up &amp; Stay Safe(r) guide from the non-profit <a href="https://onlinesafety.feministfrequency.com/en/">Feminist Frequency</a> </strong>responds to online harassment from “individuals, loosely organised groups &amp; cybermobs.” It includes bite-sized guides to setting up two-step verification, creating unique passwords and removing potential ‘doxxing’ information. (<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/technology/doxxing-protests.html">Doxxing</a> involves the broadcasting of personal information to shame, coerce, exploit, persecute or harass).</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3) <a href="https://www.ihollaback.org/blog/2017/09/27/counterspeech-dos-donts/">Counterspeech do’s and don’ts </a>from the anti-street harassment movement, ‘Hollaback’</strong>, is a guide in comic form to support internet users in countering online harassment. If you feel safe and calm, there are some instances where it is possible and appropriate to answer back to a cyber-abuser. It recommends remembering that behind each hateful comment is a person. The comic offers clear examples of recommended “Do’s and Don’ts”. For instance: label the comment, not the person.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4) ‘<a href="https://hackblossom.org/cybersecurity/">A DIY Guide to Feminist Cybersecurity</a>’ from activist group Hack Blossom</strong> shows how to reduce your visibility to malicious threats, prevent trolls from accessing private information, and stop private companies from collecting your personal data to target you with adverts. This group has also created a specific <a href="https://hackblossom.org/domestic-violence/">domestic violence guide</a>, for cases where cyber-abusers are partners or ex-partners, for example, harassing you via social media or your telephone, or by stalking your locations. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/violenceonline (2).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/violenceonline (2).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration against homophobia, 2013. Photo: Marco Fieber <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcofieber/9636054983">/Flickr.</a> CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><strong>5) <a href="https://iheartmob.org">HeartMob’s</a> platform offers resources and documents abuse</strong>, while enabling connections with allies. It provides <a href="https://iheartmob.org/resources/self_care">self-care tips</a>, including advice not to blame yourself for experiencing abuse, to ask for help, and to meditate on your feelings while thinking strategically about moving forward. Their <a href="https://iheartmob.org/heartbot">@theheartbot account </a>is a Twitter bot that logs reports of online abuse to dis-incentivise harassers. Another resource <a href="https://iheartmob.org/resources/rights">explains</a> what to expect if you want to prepare a case or file a police report in the US.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6) The <a href="https://xyz.informationactivism.org/en/">XYZ platform</a> from the digital security non-profit <a href="https://tacticaltech.org/projects/digital-security-and-privacy/">Tactical Tech</a></strong> includes resources for politically-active women who use digital technologies to organise, carry out their work and express themselves. This group also supports individuals and organisations in building digital security skills including through trainings and toolkits.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>7) <a href="https://datadetox.myshadow.org/en/detox">The Data Detox</a></strong>, while not explicitly focused on online abuse, offers a relevant, free course. Over eight days, in under half an hour a day, you can learn to control your digital self. For example, you look at how much Facebook knows about your interests, how to flush out publicly available data and how to deep clean your Facebook account.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>8) Take Back the Tech’s <a href="https://www.takebackthetech.net/be-safe/">‘Be Safe’ website</a> </strong>offers roadmaps for responding to cyberbullying, blackmail and hate speech online including real strategies people have used when faced with such abuse. It includes <a href="https://www.takebackthetech.net/sites/default/files/hatespeech.pdf">a section on what your human rights</a> are under international law when it comes to hate speech. A <a href="https://www.takebackthetech.net/be-safe/safety-toolkit">safety toolkit</a> explains how you can keep your devices secure and delete files, while the site’s <a href="https://www.takebackthetech.net/be-safe/self-care-coping-and-healing">self-care tips</a> highlight the importance of stress relief, sleep, nutrition and social support.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>9) <a href="https://yoursosteam.wordpress.com/products-services/">TrollBusters</a> calls itself ‘online pest control for journalists’</strong>. It promises to help you assess the threat, figure out what steps to take and where to report trolls. Their ‘<a href="https://yoursosteam.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/tb_infographic_watermark.jpg">What to do? Where to go?</a>’ infographic details some of these strategies in a condensed form. They also provide free lessons on ‘digital hygiene’ to help you protect yourself.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>10) <a href="https://www.glaad.org/resources/amplifyyourvoice/resourcekit#howcanibeanallyonline">Amplify Your Voice</a> is a resource kit</strong> from the US organisation GLAAD. It includes a section on how to be an ally to LGBTQ people online and provides tips on speaking out for equality through online media. It also advises internet users on how to stay safe on Facebook and how to report cyberbullies.</p><p dir="ltr">What would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the comment thread below, or on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/5050oD">@5050oD</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Special thanks to Shelley Buckingham from the Association of Women in Development (AWID) and Rashima Kwatra from OutRight Action International for their input into this list, as well as the multiple other women and non-binary people who shared resources with us.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's human rights violence against women everyday feminism women's work young feminists Nandini Archer Fri, 16 Nov 2018 13:10:09 +0000 Nandini Archer 119472 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Backlash podcast episode 5: targeted hate https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/backlash-podcast-episode-5-targeted-hate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">Social media propaganda. Data-mining. Foreign interference in Ireland's abortion referendum. The backlash against our rights goes online.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-39425378.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-39425378.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The backlash against sexual and reproductive rights is also online. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>For our fifth episode of the Backlash podcast, we take a deep dive into the murky world of social media targeting and how anti-rights groups are increasingly taking their fight against women's and LGBT rights online. </p><p dir="ltr">We talk to <b>50.50 fellow Sophie Hemery</b> about her investigation into how some evangelical Christians have used online platforms to target LGBT young people with 'dehumanising' videos.<b> Campaigner Liz Carolan </b>explains how activists in Ireland managed to force greater transparency on targeted adverts ahead of that country's abortion referendum.<b> </b>And we hear from <b>openDemocracy's editor-in-chief Mary Fitzgerald </b>about what it means for democracy when powerful groups can so easily target us online.</p> <p dir="ltr"><iframe width="100%" height="120" src="https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&feed=%2F5050od%2Fthe-backlash-podcast-episode-5-targeted-hate%2F" frameborder="0" ></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr"><b>Lara Whyte (LW):</b>&nbsp;Hello and welcome to The Backlash, a podcast series tracking threats against women’s and LGBT rights, brought to you by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/">50.50</a>, the gender and sexuality section of openDemocracy. I’m Lara Whyte and I am your host.</p><p dir="ltr">Grassroots, intersectional, feminist campaigning is how we&nbsp;realise&nbsp;our rights. Supported of course by investigative journalists doing their jobs. This month we wanted to take a look back at <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-rocio-ros-rebollo/world-reaction-ireland-historic-vote-abortion-rights">Ireland’s historic referendum to legalise abortion</a>&nbsp;as it was a rare moment to celebrate and one that we here at 50.50 spent a lot of time working on. </p><p dir="ltr">As part of our investigation into how international actors from all over the world gathered to support the "No" campaign, we learned a lot about how Facebook and Google adverts can be targeted directly into your newsfeed. They didn’t win, but these groups flexed new muscles, and&nbsp;its&nbsp;important to understand how these groups often do win on social, and how we can fight back against them.</p><p dir="ltr">Coming up we will be discussing the referendum and the online tricks played by the No campaign with Liz Carolyn from the <a href="http://tref.ie/">Transparency Referendum Initiative (TRI)</a> in Ireland and openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/mary-fitzgerald">Mary Fitzgerald</a>.</p><p>First, I am delighted to welcome our <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/sophie-hemery">feminist investigative journalism fellow Sophie Hemery,</a> who dug into the different ways LGBTQ+ individuals are targeted online by evangelical Christian groups who disagree with their right to exist. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/us-evangelicals-target-lgbt-young-people-facebook-youtube-ads">She investigated a group called Anchored North,</a> who make highly shareable, beautifully crafted videos that hide the ugliness of what they are actually saying. Sophie began by explaining how this Christain ministry use and abuse social media to spread their message of hate.&nbsp;</p><p><b>Sophie Hemery (SH)</b>: So they use various social media platforms and one of their founders Greg Sukert told me they’re always innovating and always looking for kind of new ways to reach people but, currently, they mainly use Facebook and also Google ads via YouTube. And they just use the standard paid advertisement capacities that are available on these platforms to kind of micro-target their adverts at what they call ‘interest groups.’ But those interest groups are basically potentially vulnerable communities, for instance, LGBTQ+ people or women seeking abortions.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/anchored north.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/anchored north.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot of Anchored North video. Credit: Anchored North. </span></span></span><b>LW:</b> How do they actually reach these users? Describe the process they go through to "find the lost", and how they spend a lot of money trying to do so...</p><p><b>SH:</b> So I found that, previously, Facebook was allowing advertisers to target adverts based on [users'] stated sexual preference. However, they did remove that ability a while ago but then people like Anchored North were using the ability to target based on groups that users had clicked ‘Like’ on Facebook. So, for instance, if they had clicked ‘Like’ on Pride or Planned Parenthood, they would kind of deduce likely characteristics about those people and target adverts accordingly. Due to recent scandals over user privacy and how Facebook was using users’ data, Facebook actually removed over half of these targeting options, which potentially could have kind of impeded Anchored North’s capacity to target adverts in this way. But, speaking to the founder, he said this basically hasn’t affected their ability to target these groups because of other capacities that Facebook offers paid advertisers. He said it’s basically changed nothing and they’re still allowed to target these people.</p><p><b>LW:</b> How much of their business model was based on Facebook, do you think?</p><p><b>SH:</b> Facebook is the main platform they use to target people, yeah.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> And did you find anything else out about how, you know, this type of targeting works on Google?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>SH:</b> So they also use YouTube and they’re able to target people who are searching for certain keywords and this has kind of been an increasing scandal on YouTube. Because YouTube is often where young or recently coming out or soon to come out LGBTQ+ people watch videos and it's, according to an organisation we spoke to, LGBT Tech, YouTube can provide kind of a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people, in particular, looking for supportive content. </p><p dir="ltr">And Anchored North and other similar organisations’ adverts were coming up before these videos as pre-roll content and certain users on YouTube had flagged this and, yeah, having spoken to the founder of Anchored North, he explained that that was, you know, something that was really great for them. You know, an anti-abortion video could come up before a supportive video about abortion or, similarly, for LGBTQ+ content, a gay conversion therapy video could come up before that content.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">An anti-abortion video could come up before a supportive video about abortion, or for LGBTQ+ content, a gay conversion therapy video could come up.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> So you watched a lot of these videos, I know, and really, are they hate? Because the problem is Facebook seems to be saying: 'We can’t control religion' or 'It’s freedom of speech'. What was your experience of watching them? Did you consider them hate?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>SH:</b> Yes, I do. But I think organisations such as Anchored North are very clever. For instance, specifically with Anchored North, you know, among their founders are really expert digital marketers who also work for corporates. Sukert says himself that, you know, Facebook has trouble defining hate speech, he’s well aware of this, and the way that they create their content is designed specifically to get around rules and to fall through the net. They use personal stories because, as Sukert says, Facebook loves stories and they are designed to not violate the hate speech policies. However, obviously there’s so much nuance in that and there is a big difference between somebody sharing their personal story, with no intention to evangelise or affect others, and what they’re doing, which is with that explicit intention. And I think, clearly, Facebook’s policies on hate speech are not taking into account that nuance and it’s only when, through investigations such as this, content and adverts that are violating that policy, that have fallen through the net, then they will remove them. But obviously, that is a completely unsustainable model for keeping users safe.&nbsp;</p><p><b>LW: </b>Scary stuff there from Sophie, and you <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/us-evangelicals-target-lgbt-young-people-facebook-youtube-ads">can read her investigation on our website</a>, go to the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash</a> page. To refresh your memory: here at 50.50, we revealed how No campaign groups were illegally accepting foreign donations online – and how foreign groups targeted Irish voters with anti-abortion propaganda using social media. It is illegal in Ireland for any foreign group to contribute to an election or referendum campaign. But online spaces, as have heard, seemed pretty much unregulated. Amid mounting concern about foreign groups trying to influence the vote, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/may/24/how-facebook-is-influencing-the-irish-abortion-referendum">Facebook introduced a ban</a> on foreign adverts ahead of the vote, and <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/google-bans-online-ads-on-abortion-referendum-1.3489046">Google banned all adverts.</a>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/keepireland.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/keepireland.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Keep Ireland Abortion Free banner, posted on Facebook by a US group which paid to have it targeted at Irish voters. Photo: Chris Slattery/EMC-Frontline Pregnancy Centers.</span></span></span>I asked <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/mary-fitzgerald">openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief Mary Fitzgerald</a>, who worked across our investigation and openDemocracy's dark money dig into the DUP, how significant do you think that ban was – and why do you social media companies think they took this step?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>Mary Fitzgerald (MF):</b> I think it’s hugely significant; it's the first time that had really happened. And it feels important that they publicly recognised&nbsp;their responsibility in ensuring that the integrity of elections and referendums was respected and that national decisions and national conversations should be national decisions and national conversations.</p><p dir="ltr">However, unfortunately in this case, certainly in the case of Facebook, it was very easy to circumvent their bans. They talked about a combination of human resourcing and machine learning and AI that was going to be deployed to protect the integrity of this vote and yet our journalists were able, in just a matter of hours, to circumvent these bans and post adverts aimed at Irish voters on the Irish abortion referendum question from locations outside of Ireland. </p><p dir="ltr">And this wasn’t done with any particularly sophisticated masking software or devices or IP addresses, so whatever they claim they were preventing, that they were deploying their vast resources to stop, they weren’t in any way succeeding in doing that.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> This was clearly not effective, as we saw – yet there’s something that I think got lost in the debate – the tech companies’ self-regulation didn’t – doesn’t – work. What did you think of their reaction?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>MF:</b> It seemed very knee-jerk. It seemed also that it was a PR effort and actually they weren’t really deploying anywhere near the type of resource that you would need to deploy to be able to make such a ban like this work and make such a guarantee to the Irish people effective.</p><p dir="ltr">And, you know, at the same time as Mark Zuckerberg was telling MEPs in Brussels about how they were taking all these measures to ensure the integrity of democracy and to help protect it – literally that day, I think – we were posting ads aimed at Irish voters and it was very, very easy to do so.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">At the same time as Mark Zuckerberg was telling MEPs in Brussels about these measures, literally that day, we were posting ads aimed at Irish voters.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> There’s also the legal case – which I think was overlooked unfairly: at 50.50, Claire Provost managed to donate to some of the biggest anti-abortion groups, from outside Ireland. And we at 50.50 worked with our colleagues on openDemocracy’s ongoing dark money investigation, digging up so much dirt on how foreign activists were trying to keep abortion illegal in Ireland, that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/six-ways-Ireland-abortion-vote-hacked-foreign-influence">we made it into a listicle.</a></p><p dir="ltr">And I suppose the thing that I couldn’t really get my head around was that I understood why Russia would interfere in the US election and why it might have an interest in Brexit, but what I have found difficult is why foreign groups would be interested in Ireland voting to do most other western countries voted to&nbsp;do 50 years ago. Why was it so important, do you think?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>MF:</b> Yeah, so I think the reason why openDemocracy as a whole is interested in this subject is that we didn’t take a position, let’s say, on the Brexit referendum but we were very concerned about the undisclosed, untraceable sources of funding that particularly appeared to have bankrolled the Leave campaign. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/dup-dark-money">We’d done a lot of work exposing the secret donation that was made to the DUP for their Brexit campaign</a>, which was done through a very secretive channel, involving a front company and a bag man and all kinds of nefarious goings-on.</p><p dir="ltr">And, to us, the question of the Irish abortion referendum raised some similar issues and concerns in that it seemed as though – and it was indeed proven through our investigation that – networks and groups outside of Ireland were able to deploy a lot of resource to support one side of the argument.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/irishabortionad.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/irishabortionad.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot of ‘fake’ Facebook page set up by openDemocracy 50.50 to test the ban on referendum-related ads ahead of the Irish vote. Credit: Facebook.</span></span></span>And despite there being rules and laws in place to prevent such things happening and I think despite the result, which was very emphatically pro-Yes – and most of the groups we identified were trying to influence and advocate for the No side, so they didn’t succeed in this instance – there is a much deeper question about how electoral processes can be interfered with. By whom? Through what channels? Are our laws robust enough? You know, do we have the accountability and transparency over political funding and through political campaigning that we need both here in the UK and in Ireland and in other European countries and in the US? And the answer is just emphatically no.</p><p dir="ltr">I mean, people were able to donate to the No campaign in Ireland, regardless of where they were based geographically, which is in direct contravention of the law. And really, if you broaden this out more, this raises massive concerns. Both the Facebook and Google issue and the funding issue and the sort of boots on the ground volunteers that were coming from all over the world to weigh in on this issue, raise huge concerns about, you know, who is trying to influence what we see, what we hear and what we read: and how successful are they? And what do we need to know about them?</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">There's a much deeper question to be asked about how electoral processes can be interfered with. By whom? Through what channels? Are our laws robust enough?&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">There is a great asymmetry of power here between very well-resourced networks and individuals and organisations and citizens who think that they’re engaging in a democratic vote, you know, in a contest that’s going to be democratically decided. And they’re not aware of all the forces at play that are trying to influence their decision.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> That was <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/mary-fitzgerald">openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief</a> talking about the foreign, but ultimately unsuccessful, interference in Ireland’s abortion referendum. </p><p dir="ltr">And I think some credit needs to go where it’s due here – there was this groundswell of pro-choice digital and activism and in the lead up to the vote. The tone was really gentle, at times I thought it was too gentle, but it worked, so that's the most important thing. There were some really great tactics used that women’s rights organisers should be studying, I certainly hope they are. </p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://tref.ie/">Transparency Referendum Initiative (TRI) </a>and their allies did a lot of the heavy lifting in gathering the data that our reporting on 50.50 dug into, revealing the range of illegal foreign and far right contributors to anti-abortion campaigns ahead of the vote.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Liz Carolan is a founder of the TRI, advisor at the <a href="https://opendatacharter.net/">Open Data Charter,</a> and associate at the <a href="https://theodi.org/">Open Data Institute</a>. I asked her how this initiative started.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>Liz Carolan (LC): </b>Yeah, so a group of friends got together and we sort of work in different areas that all seemed to come together around this question of digital ads. And we were having a chat kind of over Christmas about looking at the different revelations and at that point, it already started to come out about the sort of misuse of social media in order to try to disrupt democratic campaigns. And kind of looking at the Irish abortion referendum and the fact that it’s a highly contentious issue here at home but also of potential kind of symbolic significance to other people around the world. </p><p dir="ltr">And also looking at our really quite lax laws when it comes to kind of overseas activity. There were a few alarm bells going off there so we decided to try to do a concrete project to, at a minimum, sort of bring some of this activity into the public domain – the activity that was happening online – so it could be kind of exposed to scrutiny.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-35958243.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-35958243.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, testifying before a United States senate committee. Photo: Ron Sachs/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>I think actually one of the really kind of points when this idea sort of stuck in my mind was watching the US senate testimony, where there was a senate hearing and they were, you know, trying to figure out what had happened in the 2016 presidential election. And, you know, there were these, senators sitting around and they were looking at these kind of blown-up images – they were screenshots, really, or even kind of photographs of a computer – of some of the ads that they were then able to subsequently trace back to Russian interference. And, you know, just the thought that, if, in a context like that, what they ended up using to try to figure out what happened was these, you know, screenshots or photographs or computers – that kind of terrified me a little bit. And so that’s where sort of the idea came from, to (as much as possible) try to gather the evidence in advance, make it publicly available immediately, so that we could understand what was happening before people vote.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The idea was to try and gather the evidence in advance, make it publicly available immediately, so that we could understand what was happening before people vote.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW: </b>So why do you think Facebook took the decision to ban foreign adverts ahead of the vote?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LC:</b> So when it comes to sort of, you know, why Facebook took this decision: I think they were in a way left with no option. You know, we were able to bring some of the activity that was happening online to their attention, as much as to everyone else’s attention. And I think there was a lot of really, really fantastic journalism that took place using the data that we were publishing, that kind of, you know, really, really put pressure on for some sort of action to take place.</p><p dir="ltr">I think as well there were quite a few members of our parliament that we were working with who were also kind of raising the issue and trying to figure out what could be done about it. In terms of the action that they took I think, you know, that your experience and the experience of lots of other people indicates that it was pretty ineffective.</p><p dir="ltr">You know, there was an Irish [pro-choice] group here – they were registered; I was able to pull up their company registration details in about five seconds – who were refused the right to place ads, even though they had fundraised for it; they had done everything correctly. And, even when they appealed to Facebook, there was no moving. We were able to kind of use our channels into Facebook to get that unblocked.</p><p dir="ltr">So it seems to be that, you know, both: They were getting it wrong in terms of who was Irish-based and who wasn’t Irish-based. And also that, you know, in terms of its application, they didn’t really seem to be that open or willing to engage with people who were clearly being disadvantaged by the moves. I think overall, you know, the sort of attempts at self-regulation just didn’t work.</p><p dir="ltr">And Facebook talk a lot, like Mark Zuckerberg – when he was speaking to European parliamentarians and to the US congress – he, you know, kept talking about AI as a solution to these problems, as if it was some sort of, you know, magic trick that would fix everything. That was the basis of their response here and it just failed; it just didn’t work, you know. It’s too kind of complicated to do things. And I think there’s an increasing recognition with Facebook and some of the other companies that, actually, they don’t want to take this on themselves.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-39305032.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/PA-39305032.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Facebook's ban on foreign ads was easy to circumvent. Photo: FrankHoermann/SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In a way, they want legislation and rules there to kind of give them a bit of cover, you know. And we’re seeing that, even in the last couple of weeks, with this resurgence of the narrative around the company sort of censoring conservative or right-leaning groups. I think there’s a sense among the companies that they don’t want to have to do this; and it’s not what they were set up to do, you know.</p><p dir="ltr">Even now, Facebook have agreed to try to look back through their records and release some data on what happened during the referendum. We’re partnering with them and a university here to get that data. But, you know, they didn’t differentiate between an ad that was trying to change the outcome of a referendum and an ad for socks or flights or something else, you know, because they are a private company and their goal is to sell advertising space.</p><p dir="ltr">The realm of politics and of public opinion in these sorts of things is something they know nothing about. They don’t have the skills; they don’t have the capability to do it. And so then, you know, it really is little wonder then that when they try to take a self-regulatory step that they just, you know, that it fails.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">They didn't differentiate between an ad that was trying to change the outcome of a referendum and an ad for socks.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW: </b>So earlier, we heard how social media companies have been enabling targeted hate to be directed to those who would be most damaged by it, and I wanted to ask you about the kinds of adverts that were being reported to you. Have you been surprised by what you found through the TRI?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LC:</b> Yeah. I mean, it’s really disturbing to hear about some of the, you know, the use of this tool to basically attack and hurt people. And we saw that here during the referendum. There were really, really graphic images. There was one of, you know, basically a post-miscarriage scene that was being targeted at women, at young women, and at women who were campaigning. And that, to me, is just a deliberate attempt – and it sounds like some of the examples you’ve been uncovering of the kind of targeting of LGBT people – just a deliberate attempt to hurt, you know; it almost feels like an act of violence.</p><p>One thing I noticed about those ads that were happening here is that the groups behind the advertising, the targeting, these kinds of things, were anonymous. It was very difficult to trace who had done them. You know, we found that some of the more official campaigns, you know, they would never dream of engaging in that kind of activity, in part because they knew they had to go on the radio the next day and they had spokespeople. But also I think people behave very differently when they can hide behind a mask. In terms of where the companies are on this: I think they – and probably a lot of the rest of us as well – you know, they’re not very far along the learning curve.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">One thing I noticed about those ads is that the groups behind the advertising, the targeting, were anonymous.</p><p dir="ltr">I think they’re at the point where, you know, they recognise that they have kind of blindly wandered into a territory, which is dark; it’s, you know, terra incognita in a way. There are all sorts of consequences of the technology that they’ve been building that they did not anticipate. I think, you know, they’re starting to feel that, from what I’ve kind of heard anecdotally from people who work in these companies. They’re starting to feel that, to be honest, in terms of their recruitment and their retention, in terms of their staff morale.</p><p>You know, people joined these companies thinking that they were joining a force for good in the world and now they’re having to kind of reckon with the fact that it’s being used for ill. I’m not sure to what extent that process, almost like a psychological process, they’ve gone through to get to the point where they can start to think about it.</p><p dir="ltr">But I think, you know, these questions are… it comes down to questions of free speech, of, you know: to what extent is their identity as a public square or is it their identity as a publisher? You know, these are sort of quite existential questions and I think, to be honest, they would prefer if somebody else just took it on and told them what to do. And, you know, I think I’m with the first to push for a regulatory response to these things, rather than relying on private companies to do some of this work for us.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">There are all sorts of consequences of the technology that they've been building that they did not anticipate.</p><p dir="ltr">But, you know, looking at our regulators, they do not have the technical capabilities or insight to be able to do that on their own and I think there is going to have to be some sort of a collaborative response. One thing that I worry about quite a lot is, you know – in the UK, in Ireland, say, in Sweden at the moment, or even in the US – we can rely on our state institutions, to an extent, to respond to this sort of thing, even if it’s slow. And, you know, we can kind of get there in the end with a lot of pressure and hard work.</p><p dir="ltr">There are plenty of countries in the world where Facebook operates. I mean, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-46105934">look at what’s happening in Myanmar at the moment,</a> where the state institutions aren’t going to be on the side of, you know, the public good. And so we are going to have to rely on these companies who operate in all but ten countries in the world – as Facebook do – to be doing something themselves, to make sure that they have a lid on this.</p><p dir="ltr">But it’s very tricky and they’re not going to be able to do it with AI. What is the difference between, say – you know, you mentioned earlier an evangelical organisation sort of targeting LGBT people – how can an AI tell the difference between a group like that communicating with its own base about particular issues and an attack ad? There’s so much context in that, you know.</p><p dir="ltr">There’s so much kind of nuance that’s required to do that. And these companies make billions; they make a huge amount of money and yet they kind of cry that they don’t have, you know, the resources to be able to do some of that more nuanced work and that they’re going to have to rely on AI. I can see why.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">These companies make billions; they make a huge amount of money and yet they cry that they don't have the resources to be able to do some of that more nuanced work.</p><p dir="ltr">AI is a bit of technology; you pay your coders and you just kind of let it run. That’s not going to fly. It’s going to have to take more than that.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW:</b> So Google banned all adverts in the lead up to the vote – yet we haven’t heard a huge amount about them in the fall out. Why do you think that is?</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LC: </b>Yeah, so Google seem to be much more of a closed box than Facebook. Our engagement with Facebook… we were kind of given a dedicated email address; we kind of got the impression that they were, you know, willing to engage or at least that they saw it as important to appear to be engaging with us. Google are much more of a closed box and I’m not sure if that’s because they’ve kind of gotten away with it a little bit – you know, Cambridge Analytica... all the focus has been on Facebook – whereas I think the Google advertising network, and particularly YouTube, is one where, you know, there’s storms brewing there and they’re going to have to get their house in order.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">I think the Google advertising network, and particularly YouTube, is where there are storms brewing and they're going to have to get their house in order.</p><p dir="ltr">We have found it quite difficult to engage with them. They still haven’t given a proper reason as to why they – so, two or three weeks before the referendum, they pulled all advertising and this did lead to a very strong reaction, in particular from the No campaign. They kind of called a big joint press conference, which they hadn’t held before and, you know, there was a headline in I think one of the kind of US right-leaning newspapers the next day, talking about Silicon Valley sort of silencing the anti-abortion movement in Ireland. And, you know, you still see it kind of being used, that ban being kind of held up as yet another example of tech companies’ bias against conservative movements.</p><p dir="ltr">I mean, the ban equally applied to both sides of the campaign and the Yes campaign – so the kind of pro-change, bringing in abortion access – they had planned to launch their Google ad campaign the day that the ban came in. But I think it was pretty clear that this was going to be one of the main avenues through which the No campaign were going to push in the last final weeks.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/Ireland3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/Ireland3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An anti-abortion campaign truck picture, posted on Facebook. Photo: Save the 8th/Facebook.</span></span></span>I’ve asked the No campaign to sort of share what they had planned during the last few weeks and the kind of head of that said, “Oh well let’s not get into re-litigating the referendum,” which is convenient because they’re happy to keep using it as an excuse but they don’t want to get into the details of what they had planned. I mean, I think that’s what we really need to know: what was it that Google saw that made them take this decision? </p><p dir="ltr">Because if it was large amounts of overseas financing coming in then that’s something that citizens have the right to know. But if it was, in effect, an act of censorship of a legitimate campaign then that’s a very dangerous precedent and one that actually we need to have some information around to be debating. But until they give us that information, it is fueling a narrative on the conservative right, you know, here in Ireland, probably to a larger extent in the US, that Silicon Valley is sort of against them.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>LW: </b>Liz Carolan there, from the <a href="http://tref.ie/">Transparency Referendum Initiative,</a> and before that there you heard from Mary Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief of open Democracy, and Sophie Hemery, one of 50.50’s feminist investigative journalism fellows. Before you go, I wanted to draw your attention to some of our biggest stories from the past while on 50.50.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/zahnh.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/zahnh.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women in Tehran, 2017. Photo: Jochen Eckel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>We are very pleased to be introducing a new young writer inside Iran, going by the name of Zaynab. Her first piece for 50.50 – <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/zaynab-h/women-bodies-have-become-battleground-in-fight-for-iran-future">Women’s bodies have become a battleground in the fight for Iran’s future</a> – is a chilling read.</p><p dir="ltr">We also have a lot of great, front line reporting pieces on how women are fighting back against online bullies – all over the world – some good pieces on trolling, and how women are responding.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">One of these is by Sian Norris on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/tackling-trolls-how-women-fighting-back-online-bullies">how women are fighting back against online bullies</a>. The other is by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/nandini-archer">50.50’s Nandini Archer </a>on the angry backlash to our reporting on an international gathering of anti-feminist men’s rights activists (MRAs), and we also have a piece coming up on what to do if you have been the target of hate one – as we in 5050 have over the MRA work we did. Resources that help you feel safer, and how to protect yourself. </p><p>We here at 50.50 would also like to thank <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/roc-o-ros-rebollo">Rocio Ros,</a> who has been working with us this summer and helping us with this podcast, amongst many many other things. She will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/roc-o-ros-rebollo">continue writing</a> for 50.50 from Spain. Thank you Rocio!</p><p>You have been listening to The Backlash, by <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">50.50</a>, openDemocracy’s gender and sexuality section. This podcast was presented and produced by me, Lara Whyte, and mixed and sound edited with original music by Simone Lai. Big thanks to our feminist investigative journalism fellows for their work this month, and to Brittney Ferreira, who helped transcribe this episode.</p><p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">50.50</a> is an independent feminist media platform. You can find us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/5050od?lang=en">@5050oD</a>, and you can support our work by donating on our website. Help us track the backlash against women’s and LGBT rights.</p><p><i>This episode of The Backlash was presented and produced by Lara Whyte. Audio editing and music production by Simone Lai.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/isobel-thompson/irish-anti-abortion-campaigners-brexit-trump-data-companies">How Irish anti-abortion activists are drawing on Brexit and Trump campaigns to influence referendum</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/six-ways-Ireland-abortion-vote-hacked-foreign-influence">Six ways Ireland’s abortion referendum could be hacked this week</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ireland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Ireland Civil society Democracy and government Equality International politics Internet Podcast World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's human rights women's health young feminists Lara Whyte Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:05:24 +0000 Lara Whyte 119432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Online platforms have enabled “deluge of hatred against trans women” in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-hemery/online-platforms-enable-deluge-hatred-against-trans-women-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Social media platforms have policies against discriminatory and hateful content – but LGBTQ+ rights activists say they’re not working.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TR1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TR1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“I didn’t know where the next punch was going to come from,” said one trans woman. Photo: PA/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Trans people in the UK have faced a “deluge of hatred” and an increasingly “hostile environment” online, say LGBTQ+ rights activists. Social media platforms including Twitter and YouTube have policies intended to prevent discriminatory and hateful content, but activists say they’re not working.</p><p>“If I said I was transgender or supportive of transgender people on Twitter, I would just be pounced on”, said Claire Birkenshaw, a university lecturer and LGBTQ+ rights activist in Leeds, describing this “hostile environment”.</p><p>Adrian Harrop, an NHS doctor and LGBTQ+ activist, said that frequent, sweeping claims that present trans people as “sexual deviants and predatory criminals” appear to be “radicalising” others against trans rights online.</p><p>“I didn’t know where the next punch was going to come from and in the end I had a nervous breakdown”, said Sarah Brown, a former Cambridge city councillor, describing “psychologically exhausting and intimidating” abuse.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“I didn’t know where the next punch was going to come from”</p><p>Brown said there’s been a “deluge of hatred against trans women” in the UK over the last year amid potential reforms to the <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act">Gender Recognition Act</a>, which would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender.</p><p dir="ltr">“The change in public acceptability of transphobia has moved radically within the last six months”, added Ms X, a feminist who requested anonymity amid fears of such abuse and to protect the identity of her trans child. </p><p>Chiara Capraro, women’s human rights programme manager at the NGO Amnesty International UK, said rising transphobia has been fuelled by “misinformation and false statements spreading”.</p><p>Common forms of transphobic abuse include intentionally misgendering trans people or “<a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/truth-about-trans#deadnaming-misgendering">deadnaming</a>” them, said Capraro, while false statements include those that present trans women as abusive men.</p><p>Social media platforms have policies against ‘hateful content’ that targets people based on characteristics including gender identity. But they’re not working, said Brown. “It’s almost like they think the only thing that is transphobic is standing in the street shooting trans people”.</p><p dir="ltr">“You get a bunch of people abusing a trans woman, saying she’s a pervy man – pretty much the textbook definition of transphobia”, she said, “and the reports come back saying it doesn’t violate policies”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It’s almost like they think the only thing that is transphobic is standing in the street shooting trans people”</p><p dir="ltr">“Twitter lends itself very readily to people being bullied off”, said Harrop. He described one tactic called ‘dog-piling’, in which “networks of people… will go onto a post to hurl abuse and try to silence” someone.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s not unusual for harassers to protect their own identities with anonymised accounts, Harrop said, nor is it uncommon for them to “come back in another incarnation” if they’re ever suspended for their comments.</p><p dir="ltr">Brown meanwhile described a “proliferation of fake accounts” over the last year, apparently set up specifically to target trans people, echoing “the American far-right and the tactics in the Trump election”.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TR2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TR2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Critics say Twitter’s words aren’t met by action. Photo: screenshot of one of Twitter’s own accounts posting: #TransRightsAreHumanRights.</span></span></span>Like other platforms, Twitter has a <a href="https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hateful-conduct-policy">policy</a> against ‘hateful conduct’ that targets people based on characteristics including gender identity. It also does “not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories”.</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesperson said it “believes in freedom of expression, open dialogue and healthy conversation. That means respecting and protecting the voice of every user, regardless of background, sexual orientation or status”.</p><p dir="ltr">But Brown said this is poorly enforced. She described trying to report Twitter accounts for transphobia as “like playing whack-a-mole”.</p><p dir="ltr">When they happen, suspensions from social media platforms are often temporary. It’s also easy to return with different account names or email addresses – and it’s possible to be suspended from one platform but not others, despite posting similar things on all.</p><h2>‘Like playing whack-a-mole’</h2><p>“I don’t really give credence to the word transphobia,” says one woman, Lisa Muggeridge, in a recent YouTube <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98-l4hRJtVM">video</a>. In others, she <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2SQ3DIJV_8">compares</a> trans women to narcissists who construct fake identities and names specific trans women <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5G4Hzf2oh8">calling them</a> “mad as fuck they can’t be allowed near children”.</p><p dir="ltr">Muggeridge, who’s previously written about British politics for publications including <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/labour-party-working-class-support-jeremy-corbyn-next-labour-leader-567664">Newsweek</a>, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/27/corbyn-cares-rich-students-poor-inequality-activist-should-know/">the Telegraph</a>, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/profile/lisa-ansell">the Guardian</a>, is now known among trans rights and anti-trans activists for her outspoken opposition to the proposed gender recognition reforms and ‘aggression’ on social media.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I don’t really give credence to the word transphobia”</p><p dir="ltr">In June, she <a href="https://idgeofreason.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/twitter-accounts-suspended/">said</a> her plural “Twitter accounts have been suspended”. She appears to have joined and re-joined this platform several times including with slightly <a href="https://twitter.com/TheOnlySprout/status/1015252242721538049">different usernames</a>. @lisamuggeridge9 appeared in August.</p><p dir="ltr">Last month, this account was <a href="https://idgeofreason.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/hill-am-happy-to-die-on/">suspended</a> after tweeting that “prominent trans activists”, tagging specific individuals, are “deeply mentally unwell males” and that “all cause celebres are peadophiles, violent males, murderers”.</p><p dir="ltr">Muggeridge told me this account “wasn’t me, although I looked at [it] occasionally and tweeted from it. In the few months it was up it was subject to constant mass reporting”, by users saying tweets violated Twitter policies.</p><p>Others have been able to continue sharing her views on the platform. A clip of one of her videos, shared on Twitter, was watched <a href="https://twitter.com/window_truth/status/1052668540149481478">10,000 times</a>. One user responded: “I find her aggression and baseless sanctimony scary. It’s awful seeing her make these videos attacking trans people every week”.</p><p dir="ltr">Users who repeatedly violate YouTube’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/policies/#community-guidelines">community guidelines</a> can have their accounts terminated. A spokesperson said its “strict policies… prohibit hate speech against someone based on their gender identity”.</p><p dir="ltr">But, like other platforms, it relies on users to report content that violates its rules. "We care deeply about the LGBT community on YouTube”, they said. “We remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users".</p><p dir="ltr">Muggeridge said she’s “not a political activist or a public figure” and has been targeted for her comments online, with Twitter “complicit in my abuse”. </p><p dir="ltr">“There is nothing in my videos which is hateful content”, she added. Unlike Twitter, she said, “YouTube don’t seem to have the same issues or same need to censor... but it may be I haven’t come to anyone’s attention”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"There is nothing in my videos which is hateful content"</p><p dir="ltr">Another British woman, Venice Allan, is <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/09/26/linda-bellos-private-prosecution-trans-women/">currently</a> facing a private prosecution for posting a video online in which campaigner Linda Bellos (also named in the same court case) threatens to “thump” trans women.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, she was <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/feminist-campaigner-venice-allan-kicked-out-of-labour-christmas-party-pqkqnfr76">asked to leave</a> a Christmas party organised by the Labour party’s women’s network because of her anti-trans views. Not long after, she was reportedly <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/01/23/anti-trans-activist-suspended-from-labour-party-after-posting-transphobic-memes/">suspended</a> from the party.</p><p dir="ltr">Allan has also been <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/03/23/anti-trans-activist-suspended-from-twitter-following-transphobic-comments/">suspended</a> from Twitter; she told me her @DrRadFem account was permanently suspended, along with two others. She said she was “never given any reason” for this and had only “one tweet that I was asked to remove and a 12-hour ban months before I was suspended”.</p><p dir="ltr">Her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Bdqn6eq2A&amp;t=115s">video</a> was not taken down from YouTube, however, where she still has <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdOAL2_mpBKEW4YO4YAPNIA">a channel</a> under the Dr RadFem name. “I’ve never had any content removed from YouTube despite being currently involved in a private prosecution by a trans activist… for the content of one of my videos”, said Allan.</p><p dir="ltr">She added: “That video is also on Facebook and I have not been asked to remove it. I’ve had numerous temporary bans from Facebook but they don’t seem to permanently suspend users [as] commonly as Twitter”.</p><p dir="ltr">On Facebook, Allan has an account under her name and another under Offred Cohen (now Rose Allan). In one post, she asks followers if they’d “take on” trans rights activist Roz Kaveney, due to give a public talk.</p><p dir="ltr">Several responded with aggressive comments. One said: “Roz is so fucking vile. I hate him with so much fervour. Venice, fart on or near him please”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I’ve had numerous temporary bans from Facebook but they don’t seem to permanently suspend users [as] commonly as Twitter”</p><p dir="ltr">More than 700 leaked screenshots from a ‘secret’ Facebook group called Campaign Against the Takeover (CATT) also feature transphobic posts including some ridiculing specific trans individuals.</p><p dir="ltr">One CATT post says members should recruit more users of <a href="http://www.mumsnet.com">Mumsnet</a>, the UK’s largest parenting website, to join their group. Another shares tips on how to re-join Mumsnet after being suspended under its moderation policy.</p><p dir="ltr">“Just managed to get back onto Mumsnet under yet another fake email addy, tunnelbear to hide [my] ISP and another username”, it said.</p><p dir="ltr">Facebook’s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards">Community Standards</a> defines hate speech as attacks, including “violent or dehumanising speech” and “calls for exclusion or segregation”, towards people based on characteristics including gender identity.</p><p dir="ltr">“There is no place for hate speech on Facebook” a spokesperson told us. “When people break our rules, including in secret groups, we move quickly and take appropriate action. We are investigating the content brought to our attention by openDemocracy”, they added.</p><h2>“A breeding ground for overt transphobia”</h2><p>Mumsnet is “the paramount example in the online community of a breeding ground for overt transphobia”, according to Harrop.</p><p>Earlier this year, <a href="https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3302495-This-is-how-traffic-to-the-feminism-board-has-increased">one Mumsnet user said</a> there’s been an almost 12-fold increase since 2016 in the number of people entering the site through the ‘feminist chat’ forum, which is dominated by anti-trans messages.</p><p dir="ltr">Recently, some of its users <a href="https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3402805-bbc-children-in-need-7th-november-ask-them-not-to-fund-mermaids-allsorts#prettyPhoto">posted</a> about campaigning to stop the BBC Children in Need fundraising programme from supporting trans children.</p><p dir="ltr">“The way [Mumsnet users] highlight specific individuals and target them for abuse on other social media platforms and in real life is utterly disgraceful”, added Harrop, who says he has faced this personally.</p><p dir="ltr">He described threads where “hundreds of Mumsnet users” seem to “congratulate and cheer each other on” while uncovering and publishing personal details including his home address and workplace.</p><p dir="ltr">“This all happens under the watch of the moderators of Mumsnet”, Harrop said, pointing to a former local Labour party women’s officer and LGBTQ+ rights activist Lily Madigan as likely “the biggest victim”.</p><p dir="ltr">Frequent posts, he said, “make horrendous personal comments about her appearance and style of dress... essentially sexually objectifying her”.</p><h2>“At the moment we’re being ignored”</h2><p dir="ltr">Unlike other platforms, Mumsnet has <a href="https://www.mumsnet.com/info/trans-rights-moderation-policy">a specific moderation policy on trans rights</a>, which it introduced in June.</p><p>It says the website hosts “intelligent and different opinions” and “civilised discussion”, and doesn’t want to feel “inherently hostile to any group”, including ‘gender-critical feminists’ that oppose trans rights reforms.</p><p dir="ltr">In a statement, Mumsnet’s CEO Justine Roberts explained that its moderators are “likely to delete misgendering, the term 'trans-identified male'”, and “sweeping negative generalisations about trans people”.</p><p dir="ltr">But it doesn’t have “hard and fast rules” or “a definitive list of banned terms”. It’s also possible to be “banned elsewhere but… [not] on Mumsnet”, Roberts said, as “we can only moderate on our own site, to our own guidelines”.</p><p dir="ltr">For Ms X, the mother of a trans child, this is not good enough. She said Mumsnet and other online platforms are shirking their responsibilities.</p><p dir="ltr">These platforms must accept that they are “accountable,” she said, “for the individuals who are currently using their platform to mobilise activity to the obvious detriment of a vulnerable minority”.</p><p dir="ltr">Brown, the former Cambridge city councillor, added that social media companies need to urgently train moderators on trans rights.</p><p dir="ltr">“You have to actually engage with trans communities, find out what our concerns are, why we’re unable to speak, why we’re being driven off these platforms”, she told me. “At the moment we’re being ignored”.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is tracking the backlash against trans rights as part of the ongoing series<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash"> tracking the backlash</a> against women’s and LGBT rights. </em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Equality Internet World Forum for Democracy 2018 Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash gender young feminists Sophie Hemery Thu, 15 Nov 2018 10:49:36 +0000 Sophie Hemery 120307 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why drug policy is a feminist issue https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/fenya-fischler/why-drug-policy-is-feminist-issue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Like feminism, harm reduction is a philosophy that encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-1762800.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-1762800.jpg" alt="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003." title="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003." width="460" height="289" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>People who use drugs face widespread stigma and criminalisation. This is well-known. But drug policy discussions<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/drug-policy-women-in-uk-accessing-treatment-a8081876.html"> often centre on men</a>. The experiences of women, trans and gender non-conforming people who use drugs are ignored and silenced – though they face particular<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> challenges</a> accessing care and the gendered<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> stigma</a> of being perceived as unfit parents and<a href="https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/impact-drug-policy-women-20160928.pdf"> ‘fallen’ women</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">In May, I participated in a meeting that<a href="https://www.awid.org/"> AWID</a> (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) co-organised in Berlin with feminists and women who use drugs from across eastern Europe and Central Asia. We carried very different experiences and backgrounds, but had a common purpose: to learn from one another and connect the dots between drug policy and feminism in the region.</p><p dir="ltr">Women shared their experiences with using drugs including shaming and violence from doctors, sexual violence, criminalisation and stigma within their communities. We looked at how feminism could help push for responses centred on their unique experiences. Three days and many conversations later, I was convinced that drug policy was a feminist issue.</p><p dir="ltr">Feminism calls on us to see the specific experiences of all women, including women who use drugs. Women face particular challenges because of the oppressive structures within which we live. For women who use drugs, their identities as women and people who use drugs are intertwined.</p><p dir="ltr">It would be “impossible to separate what is more important for me – accepting myself as a person, who enjoys psychoactive substances, or as a woman, whose transformation is scary for other people, and a joyous process for me,” said one of the participants at the Berlin meeting. She challenged us to understand that, used safely, drugs can contribute positively to people’s lives.</p><p dir="ltr">Harm reduction, rather than repression and punishment, is one response that allows us to put feminist values into practice. It destigmatises drug use while curbing harmful impacts. It’s a philosophy that embraces a whole range of practices, including needle exchanges to reduce disease transmission and providing safe environments to use drugs and avoid violence or other stresses.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Like feminism, harm reduction encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women”</p><p dir="ltr">Like feminism, harm reduction encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women: those that deserve support and those that don’t. It rejects solutions that see people as disposable and exploitable, and helps us understand how<a href="https://medium.com/@melgarejo/international-womens-day-and-harm-reduction-why-should-we-care-98cb4c7138ae"> prison-based responses do not work.</a></p><p dir="ltr">These responses don’t end drug use, but they do penalise those most marginalised in society and make them more vulnerable. They disproportionately impact black and brown, indigenous people, trans people, sex workers, poor communities and<a href="https://medium.com/@melgarejo/international-womens-day-and-harm-reduction-why-should-we-care-98cb4c7138ae"> other historically oppressed groups</a> already at higher risk of violence and criminalisation.</p><p dir="ltr">The narco industry, complicit in extreme levels of violence against women, must be challenged too. But militarised responses like the US-led so-called “War on Drugs” put those already experiencing oppression because of their gender, immigration status, class, race and other factors, in the crosshairs of<a href="https://longreads.com/2017/08/03/the-war-on-drugs-is-a-war-on-women-of-color/"> even more violence</a>. Feminist responses must recognise this.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FF2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FF2.png" alt="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011." title="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011." width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011. Photo: Flickr/Neon Tommy. CC BY-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Women who use drugs are also at<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> higher risk of domestic and sexual violence,</a> but they face more barriers in accessing support. They may face humiliation and discrimination in accessing healthcare, including during pregnancy and childbirth. Too often they're not treated as individuals with autonomy and dignity.</p><p dir="ltr">They may be<a href="https://www.hri.global/files/2013/03/19/Briefing_Paper_-_Access_to_Shelters_-_with_correct_fonts_07.03_.13_.pdf"> excluded from domestic violence shelters, or risk losing their children if they seek help</a>. Feminists created these shelters to support all women facing violence. But many cannot respond to the specific needs of women who use drugs. When women cannot access support in shelters, they may stay in violent and abusive situations. We can and must do better.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Some people treat you with pity, and the majority with contempt and disgust. Sometimes you think that the best option is to die from an overdose” </p><p dir="ltr">Alexandra* is one of the women I met in Berlin. She's used drugs including heroin and cannabis, on and off, for most of her adult life. It's an important part of her identity, she said, allowing her to “live in harmony” with herself. But, she can’t share this with relatives or friends, because of how they may react.</p><p dir="ltr">“Some people treat you with pity, and the majority with contempt and disgust. Sometimes you think that the best option is to die from an overdose,” Alexandra said, describing pervasive shaming and judgement that is the natural result of drug policy that stigmatises and punishes people who use drugs.</p><p dir="ltr">In the Central Asia country where Alexandra lives, women detained for drug possession face an impossible choice: bribing someone (if they have access to funds), providing sexual ‘favours’ to police officers, or prison.</p><p dir="ltr">In most countries in the region, and beyond, responses are similar: people who use drugs face violence, punishment and harsh prison sentences or even death. This only perpetuates cycles of inequality and violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Alexandra is a loving parent and hard-working community member who fears the repercussions on her children if the authorities discover her use of drugs.</p><p dir="ltr">As feminists, we must listen to women who use drugs and stand for solutions such as harm reduction that challenge systems of oppression. All people are entitled to responses centred on care, compassion and individual autonomy.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Names changed to protect privacy.</em></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Ideas women's movements women's human rights women's health gender feminism Fenya Fischler Mon, 12 Nov 2018 09:44:37 +0000 Fenya Fischler 120313 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trans rights: Woman’s Place UK responds to 50.50’s report https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kiri-tunks/trans-rights-womans-place-uk-responds <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A co-founder of the women’s group responds to openDemocracy’s report analysing opposition to potential gender recognition reforms in the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">I am a co-founder of<a href="http://www.womansplaceuk.org"> Woman’s Place UK</a> (WPUK), one of the women’s groups named in a misleading article published on openDemocracy 50.50, “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights</a>”.</p><p dir="ltr">WPUK members are women of the left with long records campaigning on progressive issues. Our supporters include lesbians who feel their identity and rights are under attack. We campaign for women's sex-based rights under the law. </p><p dir="ltr">Previously, I was active in the<a href="https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/4864c211-82cf-3f39-8731-5f04a55d7d00"> Campaign Against Pornography</a>. I co-edited<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6118472-dear-clare"> a book of letters to the British politician Clare Short</a>, written by thousands of women on their hatred of page 3 (a page in the tabloid The Sun which until 2015 featured large pictures of topless women) and its impact on their lives.</p><p dir="ltr">As with potential<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004"> changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA)</a>, much of the left’s position was poor on this issue. We were denounced as prudes and told that sexually explicit materials are liberating; you can’t legislate against the dehumanisation, hatred and violence in porn; women just need to get over it. </p><p dir="ltr">Those anti-porn campaigns also attracted religious support, including from some right-wing organisations. We made no links with them but we could not stop them from campaigning on this issue. Why did more of the left not engage with women’s concerns? Why did they leave this to the right?</p><p dir="ltr">Now, with various reports from<a href="https://neu.org.uk/latest/sexual-harassment-girls-widespread-schools"> unions</a>,<a href="https://plan-international.org/news/2018-09-24-sexual-harassment-biggest-city-danger-girls-across-globe"> NGOs</a> and the<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/sexual-harassment-public-places-17-19/"> government</a>, tackling sexual harassment and violence are mainstream concerns. People like the Conservative party MP Maria Miller are fronting calls for change.</p><p dir="ltr">Like many high-profile Tories, Miller also supports the proposed GRA reforms. Yet no-one questions those on the left siding with the right on this issue, despite their different stances on welfare rights or immigration.</p><p dir="ltr">WPUK are quoted in 50.50’s article as saying: “The proposed reforms may have ‘unintended consequences for the safety and well-being of women and girls’ as ‘predatory men could demand access to women-only spaces and services’.”</p><p dir="ltr">This is a perfectly reasonable position. Women’s routine experience of sexual abuse is being acknowledged at the same time as they are being told they cannot determine what a woman is or where her boundaries should be.</p><p dir="ltr">The vilification and denunciation of left wing women with trumped-up charges of alliances with the far right is shameful. For us, this is the latest in a long line of let-downs by the left which seems afraid of debate on these issues. It adds to a climate in which our meetings have been subject to intimidation and threat including by some who call themselves left wing. </p><p dir="ltr">It is to the detriment of our movement that – with the few, honourable exceptions of the Morning Star and, more recently, Left Foot Forward – coverage of our concerns has been left to publications like the Times, the Telegraph, the Economist and the Spectator.</p><p dir="ltr">It gives the impression that the left is incapable of connecting with women who won’t feel reassured by the Scottish Trans Alliance officer’s claim, quoted in 50.50’s article, that “the proposed reforms won’t affect access to single-sex spaces, which is covered under separate equality legislation”. </p><p dir="ltr">After all, this organisation <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19659.pdf">called for the removal</a> from the 2010 Equality Act of provisions that grant some exemptions to providers of single-sex services. </p><p dir="ltr">It's only because groups like Woman’s Place UK campaigned to keep these provisions that the government committed to retain them. We demand explicit clarification of how GRA reforms will interact in practice with this act. </p><p dir="ltr">Any change to a law must consider the views and concerns of everyone. And while the proposed reforms will clearly impact on the rights of trans people, it must also take into particular account the views of those with other protected characteristics (especially age, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation). We have a responsibility to get it right.</p><p dir="ltr">The truth is that our campaign against the proposed GRA reforms is based in material reality and the everyday experiences of women. We will continue to plough our own furrow according to long-held political principles.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Kiri Tunks Fri, 02 Nov 2018 08:40:50 +0000 Kiri Tunks 120403 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK sexual politics have become ‘profoundly authoritarian’ says Beatrix Campbell https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/beatrix-campbell-uk-sexual-politics-profoundly-authoritarian <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I interviewed the prominent feminist amid ‘heated and toxic’ debates over proposed reforms to the UK’s Gender Recognition Act.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-7926615.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-7926615.jpg" alt="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009." title="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009. Photo: Johnny Green/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Beatrix Campbell is a prominent feminist with 14,000 Twitter followers and an OBE (Order of the British Empire) honour from the Queen. </p><p dir="ltr">In October, she was one of nearly 200 people who signed an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/14/observer-letters-theresa-may-siren-words-fool-no-one">open letter</a>, published in the Observer newspaper, arguing that debate about <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">potential reforms</a> to the UK’s 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was being silenced. </p><p dir="ltr">I spoke with her amid a consultation in England and Wales into these reforms, which would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. It was <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004#history">extended</a> by three days until 22 October “due to the high volume of responses”. </p><p dir="ltr">A previous Scottish consultation also attracted an avalanche of responses – with opposition to the reforms dominated by <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">two groups</a>: conservative Christian organisations, and some women’s campaigns. </p><p dir="ltr">Several of these women’s campaigns signed the same Observer letter that Campbell did. Though, for her part, Campbell told me: “I don’t have a problem with the Gender Recognition Act”. </p><p dir="ltr">She said “it’s important to make it as appropriately easy as possible for people for whom their transformation… [from] a woman to a man, is vital to their wellbeing. You’d want to facilitate that”.</p><p dir="ltr">Rather, she said that her concerns focus on sexual politics in the UK and what she describes as “a profoundly authoritarian, dogmatic, culty turn in the representation of sex and gender”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“there is no human right to be not offended” </p><p dir="ltr">Campbell told me that her “route” into these debates was when Julie Bindel, another well-known British feminist, was “no-platformed” and prevented from speaking at an event organised by university students. </p><p dir="ltr">Bindel has been repeatedly criticised for “<a href="https://thequeerness.com/2017/01/08/julie-bindel-transphobia-source-trauma/">abusive</a>” “<a href="https://laurie-penny.com/on-feminism-transphobia-and-free-speech/">hate speech</a>” and a “<a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/01/09/lgbt-history-month-organisers-defend-julie-bindel-event/">crusade against the trans community”</a>. But Campbell has repeatedly defended her. “There is no human right to not be offended,” she told me.</p><p dir="ltr">Not allowing Bindel to speak meant that “students wouldn’t be allowed to listen to this woman… [or] challenge her,” Campbell said, asserting: “That’s the point of politics… [for people to] engage in the art of peaceful conflict”.</p><p dir="ltr">She also dismissed trans rights activists who have explained why it’s hurtful to have their identities treated as choices that can or should be up for debate. </p><p dir="ltr">“To challenge the idea that a man is a woman, if he says he’s a woman… is represented as exterminating a person, denying their existence,” she said, “which seems to me is an abuse of language”.</p><p dir="ltr">And she accused the Green Party of shutting down the “gender debate” too, saying: “I don’t know what planet they live on, but there is a debate”. To be “ordered” not to have these debates, she said, is “offensive” and “bonkers”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I don’t know what planet they live on, but there is a debate” </p><p dir="ltr">Campbell said there are lots and lots of people who have a feeling that there is something very odd going on at the moment,” when a “a man for 60 years, suddenly has a couple of operations and… is a woman”. </p><p dir="ltr">She also pointed to an “interesting critique” by an American political scientist Adolf Reid Junior,” who compared the story of Caitlin Jenner, a trans woman, with that of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identifies as black.</p><p dir="ltr">This controversial comparison has been drawn, and rebutted, before. Though both are “absolutely social constructs,” Kat Blaque, a black trans woman <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZEsCWWskbY&amp;feature=youtu.be">said</a>, “while my gender has certainly changed, my race will always remain the same”. </p><p dir="ltr">Trans rights debates, Campbell claimed, are “at their most intemperate… in the United States and the United Kingdom. And it’s not an accident. These are the two pioneering neoliberal states in the world”.</p><p dir="ltr">Trans identities, she suggested, are “a kind of an exemplar of a neoliberal version of what it means to be human, at its most idiosyncratic, i.e. you can choose! You can choose to be anything you like. Well, I’m sorry, you can’t”. </p><p dir="ltr">She said she doesn’t know any woman comfortable with “the eternal obsessive scrutiny of her body,” but “now there’s an invitation – transition, become a boy! Have your breasts cut off. I mean, are we serious?”</p><p dir="ltr">“Hailed as a new frontier of human rights and of emancipation, [this] is actually hugely conservative,” she argued. “What it represents is a very conservative, traditional, reinstatement of polarised masculinities and femininities”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“well-intentioned and compassionate feminists have been caught up by the rhetoric”</p><p dir="ltr">With her arguments, it seems clear that Campbell is speaking to women on the left with themes that resonate with them: threats to democracy; impacts of neoliberalism; conservative gender binaries. </p><p dir="ltr">She appeals for “the battle of ideas” and “democratic debate about some of the great themes of our time”. But, underneath this seems to be the premise that trans identities are chosen, rather than part of who trans people are. </p><p dir="ltr">This is a running theme in UK debates, and seems to be what enables people who’d never openly discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, to ridicule, debate and challenge the identities of trans people.</p><p dir="ltr">The context for Campbell’s comments is a climate that trans rights activist Paris Lees has <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43255878">likened</a> to previous “undignified public discourse around gay marriage,” that was “just an excuse for people to vent really ugly homophobia".</p><p dir="ltr">Amnesty UK’s LGBTI network has <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/lgbti-network/its-time-speak-trans-day-visibility">described</a> trans rights debates as marked by “unfounded fears” that “feed into the negative rhetoric around trans people”.</p><p dir="ltr">“A depressing aspect of the debate,” <a href="http://www.thenational.scot/news/16993203.gender-recognition-act-debate-is-being-used-to-roll-back-trans-rights/">added</a> journalist Stephen Patton, is how some “well-intentioned and compassionate feminists have been caught up by the rhetoric” while trans voices have been “remarkably absent”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“a heated and often toxic debate”</p><p dir="ltr">The government’s gender recognition consultation became “a focal point for a heated and often toxic debate over what we as a society owe to trans people,” wrote a trio of feminist academics in a recent <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4090-i-m-not-transphobic-but-a-feminist-case-against-the-feminist-case-against-trans-inclusivity">essay</a> published by Verso.</p><p dir="ltr">“There is no shortage of unvarnished transphobes who continue to depict trans people as perverts, freaks or monsters”, they said, describing the arguments of reform opponents as “at least in principle distinct from this rhetoric”.</p><p dir="ltr">Though they noted how these opponents and racist, anti-immigrant campaigners similarly “leverage” fear of “‘bogus asylum seekers’ or ‘fake’ trans women” and criticise “excessively inclusive or ‘politically correct’ attitudes”.</p><p dir="ltr">These arguments have had some success, the essay warned, “in raising doubts about reform among people who are broadly sympathetic to trans rights and who would therefore reject overtly bigoted arguments without hesitation".</p><p dir="ltr">Like Campbell, its authors also discussed free speech and neoliberalism. But, they stressed, “the right to ‘free speech’ does not include a right to say racist or transphobic things without anyone pointing it out”.</p><p dir="ltr">With neoliberalism “widely agreed to be in crisis and new movements… across Europe in opposition to austerity,” now is not the time for feminists to “make enemies” with others who are struggling, they added. “We could instead join with trans women in trying to bring about a different kind of society.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is tracking the backlash against trans rights as part of the ongoing series <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash</a> against women’s and LGBT rights. &nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender feminism Nandini Archer Thu, 01 Nov 2018 08:59:22 +0000 Nandini Archer 120160 at https://www.opendemocracy.net This is how anti-abortion propaganda gets into US cinemas https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost/anti-abortion-propaganda-cinemas-america <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Amid open war on reproductive rights, anti-choice supporters of the new Gosnell film want it to change hearts and minds. Will they succeed?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPG1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPG1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cinema sign. Photo: Flickr/weegeebored. CC BY-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>A police officer approaches a cupboard in a dark room and opens it, shining a light inside. His face contorts at what he sees. Another officer asks: “Is this normal?” The first answers: “I don’t know, I’ve never been in an abortion clinic before”. This is the opening scene of the trailer for a new film out in cinemas across the US, <a href="http://www.gosnellmovie.com/">Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer</a>. </p><p>At first glance, it looks like many other cop and courtroom dramas. But this film is different. It was made by a pair of conservative pundits, commentators for right-wing outlets like Breitbart and Townhall.com, with a track record of making films attacking “<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/film-makers-taking-on-our-global-warming-hysteria-1.910809">global warming hysteria</a>” and critics of <a href="http://fracknation.com/">fracking</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/nov/01/film.filmnews">mining</a>. With their new film, they've inserted anti-abortion propaganda into a formula proven to attract moviegoers: the suspenseful, true crime genre. </p><p>This is no accident; Gosnell is aiming at wide audiences, with big ambitions. “This movie will change hearts and minds about abortion”, <a href="http://www.gosnellmovie.com/press/">claims</a> Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion lobby group. It shows “the brutality and inhumanity of abortion”, she said, “and it achieves this in a movie that looks as good as any Hollywood film”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“a movie that looks as good as any Hollywood film”</p><p dir="ltr">Gosnell is just one of several anti-abortion films to hit US screens in the coming months, amid open war against women’s reproductive rights. It dramatises the story of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/15/philadelphia-abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-sentenced-life">convicted</a> in 2013 of the murder of three infants after failed, illegal late-term abortions, and of the involuntary manslaughter of a patient. He was imprisoned for life. </p><p dir="ltr">Reproductive rights groups did not defend Gosnell. They <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/19/gosnell-abortion-trial-pro-life-activists-to-blame">condemned</a> him and warned that restricted access to safe, legal abortion is what drives women to such “<a href="https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/2013/05/13/statement-kermit-gosnell-verdict/">back-alley butchers</a>.” Meanwhile, anti-choice activists used his case to present all abortion as dangerous, and all providers as untrustworthy rogues, in campaigns for even more restrictions on these services. </p><p dir="ltr">The new film's promotional posters feature a bloodstained image of the title character and the words: “THE DOCTOR IS SIN.” It uses classic character types, virtuous heroes who must battle their institutions to do what’s right, and some adrenaline-pumping music, to rattle viewers and present Gosnell’s case as the inevitable result of legalised abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s far more sophisticated than holding a graphic image of a foetus on a sidewalk. But the film’s creators, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, are professional media-makers. Previously, they've done work for outlets like the BBC. Though they have <a href="https://www.lifenews.com/2018/10/22/theaters-censor-gosnell-movie-profiling-serial-killer-abortionist-over-200-stop-showing-movie/">complained</a> of censorship by movie theatres, <a href="https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gosnell-producer-blasts-new-york-times-for-rejecting-ads-participating-in-m">movie reviewers and advertising departments</a>, Gosnell is in hundreds of cinemas.</p><p>It's distributed by GVN Releasing, a Sony Pictures partner, and stars Dean Cain, who millions of Americans watched on television in the 1990s series Lois &amp; Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. “It is not gory, it’s PG-13, it’s a Law and Order episode,” <a href="https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/11/gosnell-media-censors-dont-want-see-true-crime-drama-abortion/">said</a> McAleer, referring to the popular, long-running television crime series.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“It is not gory, it’s PG-13, it’s a Law and Order episode"</p><p dir="ltr">McAleer also <a href="https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/11/gosnell-media-censors-dont-want-see-true-crime-drama-abortion/">claimed</a> that Gosnell is “not a pro-life film. It’s a journalistic film.” Yet, these filmmakers have a clear position on this issue. They’ve celebrated Donald Trump’s administration as “<a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/author-trump-pence-most-pro-life-ever-in-white-house">amazingly pro-life</a>,” for example, and <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/author-trump-pence-most-pro-life-ever-in-white-house">met</a> Vice President Michael Pence at last year’s anti-abortion March for Life.</p><p>Before its 12 October cinema release, Gosnell was screened at US anti-abortion events and <a href="http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/prayer-and-campaigning-intensify-as-irelands-abortion-referendum-draws-near">in Dublin</a>, ahead of Ireland’s historic abortion referendum. The anti-abortion US National Right to Life group has called McElhinney a “<a href="https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2018/08/an-important-message-about-the-upcoming-gosnell-movie/">dear friend</a>.” At a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDGCe0c1Rik&amp;t=1s">Texas Alliance for Life event</a> earlier this year, she said to applause: “There’s no such thing as neutral on abortion".</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ann_McElhinney_speaking_at_CPAC_2012_about_Fracking_and_promoting_her_upcoming_movie_titled_“Frack_Nation.”_(6859886797).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ann_McElhinney_speaking_at_CPAC_2012_about_Fracking_and_promoting_her_upcoming_movie_titled_“Frack_Nation.”_(6859886797).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>McElhinney at a Conservative Political Action Conference. Photo: Mark Taylor/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The “true story” the Gosnell film presents is that all abortion is murder and legalisation enables doctors to defy medical ethics. As writer Robin Marty noted on the NBC News website, this movie is “<a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/legal-abortion-vilified-pro-life-gosnell-movie-which-inadvertently-shows-ncna919486">purposefully misleading</a>”. Gosnell does not represent all abortion providers, just like paedophiles in schools or churches don’t represent all teachers or priests. Nor are late-term abortions the norm: <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm">91.5%</a> of abortions in the US happen before 13 weeks.</p><p>Just as <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/12/there_is_no_gosnell_coverup/">anti-abortion activists</a> did during Gosnell’s trial, the film claims there was a “cover-up” of his case and a “media blackout”. It suggests that his crimes went unchecked because pro-choice people in power turned a blind eye to them. And it goes further. “Gosnell is a pro-life movie,” <a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/gosnell-movie-depicts-reality-of-abortion/">explained</a> one writer for the conservative National Review, because it “exposes the fact that all abortion necessarily involves the death of a human being”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">This movie is “purposefully misleading”</p><p dir="ltr">Who funded this film? Its press packet says it was “primarily crowd-funded” – but doesn’t disclose its final budget or other investors.</p><p dir="ltr">The crowdfunding platform <a href="http://go.theguardian.com/?id=114047X1572903&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indiegogo.com%2Fprojects%2Fgosnell-movie%23%2F&amp;sref=https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/29/abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-the-trial-of-americas-biggest-serial-killer-release">Indiegogo</a> says the film raised $2.3 million – with more than 15 donations of $10,000, one of $25,000, and many smaller sums including from chapters of anti-abortion groups from Nebraska to California. Another report cites <a href="http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2018/02/thorner-sneak-preview-of-gosnell-film-stirs-anticipation-of-nationwide-october-2018-release.html">$4 million</a> raised from different sources. This summer, <a href="https://townhall.com/columnists/annmcelhinney/2018/07/05/deranged-antitrumpers-need-to-get-out-more-n2497503">McElhinney wrote</a> about meeting an (unnamed) “substantial donor” at his house where “he asked if we could pray… thanks to God that Trump was president”.</p><p dir="ltr">Behind Gosnell is a whole team of conservative media-makers. Its executive producer has worked with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/31/dinesh-dsouza-who-is-he-trump-pardon-filmmaker">Dinesh d’Souza</a> on right-wing political films. Last year, its director guest-hosted the conservative Rush Limbaugh radio show. Conservative media personalities also helped promote the film – including Breitbart UK executive editor <a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/04/james-delingpole-the-lefty-liberals-may-be-losing-their-hold-over-the-arts-world/">James Delingpole</a>, who invited readers of right-wing weekly The Spectator to donate to the project.</p><p>In the US, Kevin Sorbo (who played the title character in the 1990s TV series Hercules), made a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9xMsKae10w">YouTube video</a> encouraging donations. Sorbo, and Cain, have previously hosted editions of the annual '<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-christian-oscars">Christian Oscars</a>’ put on by Movieguide, a <a href="https://profam.org/world-congress-of-families-leadership-memo-australia-marriage-pro-life-doctors-uk-gender-movieguide-awards/">partner</a> of the anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights World Congress of Families. Movieguide, which also publishes film reviews, <a href="https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/gosnell-the-trial-of-americas-biggest-serial-killer.html">praised</a> Gosnell as “a compelling, well-acted drama from a pro-life moral perspective”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“A compelling, well-acted drama from a pro-life moral perspective”</p><p dir="ltr">There are large gaps in what the film shows its viewers, according to a 50.50 researcher who watched it in a cinema on its opening weekend. These include the stories of women who went to Gosnell's clinic, she said. Why were they seeking abortions in the first place? And how, in a state where abortion was legal, did they end up here?</p><p dir="ltr">The movie also doesn’t show what happened after his conviction – how new laws were introduced, amid pressure from anti-choice groups, that placed new restrictions on abortion providers. In <a href="https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-pennsylvania">Pennsylvania</a>, where Gosnell operated, there were only 42 abortion-providing facilities in 2014 – an 11% drop from 2011 – and almost half of women lived in counties with no providers at all. </p><p dir="ltr">2018 has seen further restrictions brought in, including in Pennsylvania. This is the context in which this film has come out – amid emboldened anti-abortion movements and open war against reproductive rights. During next week’s midterm elections, three states (Alabama, West Virginia, and Oregon) will also vote on ballot initiatives that would <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/three-states-vote-abortion-measures">restrict abortion access</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Next year, two other anti-abortion films are expected to hit US screens – <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/07/nick-loeb-and-secret-hollywood-roe-v-wade-movie">Roe v Wade</a>, about the 1973 Supreme Court judgement that legalised abortion, and <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/unplanned-planned-parenthood-documentary-works-gods-not-dead-writers-1144994">Unplanned</a>, about the reproductive rights charity Planned Parenthood. </p><p dir="ltr">So far, the Gosnell film has made more than <a href="https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=gosnell.htm">$3 million</a> at box offices. Though the filmmakers continue to present it as under attack,<a href="https://www.lifenews.com/2018/10/22/theaters-censor-gosnell-movie-profiling-serial-killer-abortionist-over-200-stop-showing-movie/"> complaining</a> that some movie theatres have dropped it, that reviewers have ignored it, and that they've struggled to place advertisements for it. McAleer <a href="https://www.wnd.com/2018/10/cinemas-drop-gosnell-film-despite-success/#A0V5TKYP4w0RLMdY.99">said</a> some cinema workers are also advising customers "not to go, that it's propaganda."</p><p>Despite this, the film has “changed people from pro-choice to pro-life”, they claimed in <a href="https://mailchi.mp/gosnellmovie.com/gosnell-movie-has-saved-a-life-335305?e=380e3518f7">a recent email newsletter</a> to subscribers. It also “saved a life", they said, when one group of moviegoers was “so moved and motivated by the film that they decided to go and stand at a nearby abortion clinic” where they “met a woman going for an abortion and... inspired her not to go in”.</p><p>We're at “one of those rare moments in time when the pro-life movement has the opportunity to make serious impact on the hearts and minds of Americans”, McElhinney <a href="https://www.wnd.com/2018/10/cinemas-drop-gosnell-film-despite-success/">said</a>. “So what can you do? Keep buying tickets".</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-lara-whyte/revealed-christian-group-netflix-spring-break-sex">Revealed: the US ‘Christian fundamentalists’ behind new Netflix film on millennial sex lives</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Culture Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's health bodily autonomy Claire Provost Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:58:18 +0000 Claire Provost 120187 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Attacks on women's ministries are a threat to democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/gillian-kane/attacks-on-womens-ministries-are-threat-to-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women’s ministries in Brazil and beyond have been under attack from the right for years – foreshadowing wider threats to democracy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1024px-Jair_Messias_Bolsonaro_(rosto).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Jair Bolsonaro"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1024px-Jair_Messias_Bolsonaro_(rosto).jpg" alt="Jair Bolsonaro" title="Jair Bolsonaro" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo: Jair Bolsonaro, poised to become Brazil’s next president. Photo: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In February 2016, a few months after Brazil’s only female president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached, the country’s newly installed interim-government under President Michel Temer issued one of its first directives.</p><p dir="ltr">With political leaders embroiled in <a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/brazils-corruption-fallout">a massive statewide corruption scandal,</a> and the country anguished over the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/zika-virus">Zika health crisis</a>, few noticed the official mandate to &nbsp;dissolve the Ministry of Women and replace it with the Secretariat of Policies for Women, now tucked away inside the Ministry of Justice. </p><p dir="ltr">This seemingly incidental administrative demotion, coupled with the appointment of an evangelical, anti-abortion congresswoman to lead the agency, has contributed to the abnegation of women’s rights in Brazil. </p><p dir="ltr">It also foreshadowed the rise of the right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, <a href="https://www.apnews.com/1f9b79df9b1d4f14aeb1694f0dc13276">a misogynist, homophobic, former military man</a> who may become Brazil’s next president after this weekend’s runoff election. </p><p dir="ltr">This experience is not unique to Brazil. Many countries with women’s ministries face right-wing and religious attempts to eliminate or downgrade their influence – and in some cases, to change their mandates altogether. When this happens, it’s a strong signal that other democratic structures may also be at risk.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Women and democracy </h2><p dir="ltr">The history of women’s ministries goes back to the 1970s, a time of democratic transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Women were key contributors to these movements yet their specific needs were often not addressed as new governments formed. </p><p dir="ltr">Protecting women’s human rights was an issue for new democracies, and more established ones. The United States had <a href="https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/u-s-abortion-history/">legalised abortion in 1973,</a> yet marital rape was exempt from the criminal code, women could be fired for being pregnant, and they couldn’t apply for a credit card. Irish women weren’t allowed to sit in pubs; women In Nigeria didn’t have the right to vote; divorce was illegal in Brazil, Chile, and South Africa. </p><p dir="ltr">Against this backdrop, the United Nations’ <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/otherconferences/Mexico/Mexico%20conference%20report%20optimized.pdf">1975 World Conference of Women called</a> for the creation of “national gender machineries” for the advancement of women. National machineries is UN-speak for government-recognised bodies such as ministries, departments or directorates. </p><p dir="ltr">This was a groundbreaking step and a critical necessity to ensure the health, security, and basic human rights of women and girls. It was also well-received by countries internationally. At the end of the World Decade for Women in 1985, <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/hist.htm">127 UN member states</a> had some kind of national institution focused on women. By 2010, <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/TechnicalCooperation/GLOBAL_SYNTHESIS_REPORT_Dec%202010.pdf">all but four countries</a> had an office like this. </p><p dir="ltr">Of course, not all offices fulfill their mandates. Their success varies depending on funding, political will, and where they sit within the government hierarchy. Still, by merely establishing such a mechanism, a government at least tacitly acknowledges that women’s human rights require a dedicated focus, and that they are willing to put some resources behind this.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Under serious threat</h2><p dir="ltr">The US is among the few countries without a dedicated women’s office. Though it has come close to creating one. </p><p dir="ltr">In 1995, President Clinton opened the Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach, which was <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-03-30-0103300301-story.html">swiftly shuttered</a> once President Bush took power in 2001. President Obama tried in again 2009, establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues. </p><p dir="ltr">Today, neither of these offices are listed on the White House website. Donald Trump’s administration has decimated their staff and senior leadership, refusing to appoint an<a href="https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/title/as/204538.htm"> ambassador-at-large</a> for Global Women’s Issues, or <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/20/one-small-step-for-feminist-foreign-policy-women-canada/">fill</a> other key vacancies. Meanwhile, many career staffers have left. </p><p dir="ltr">Women’s ministries throughout the world have enabled significant progress, especially on efforts to address violence against women, and increase women’s political participation. <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/TechnicalCooperation/GLOBAL_SYNTHESIS_REPORT_Dec%202010.pdf">Regional studies</a> show that effective gender machineries are a sign of a strong democracy. It’s alarming that these structures, to protect and promote women’s rights, are now under serious threat. </p><p dir="ltr">In<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/announced-croatian-demography-ministry-potentially-limiting-abortion-01-11-2016"> Croatia</a>, <a href="https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/proponen-crear-el-ministerio-de-familia-articulo-474725">Colombia</a>, <a href="https://www.laprensalibre.cr/Noticias/detalle/89047/diputado-cristiano-presenta-proyecto-para-cerrar-el-inamu">Costa Rica</a>, the <a href="https://www.elcaribe.com.do/2017/11/13/panorama/pelegrin-castillo-apoya-la-creacion-del-ministerio-de-la-familia/">Dominican Republic</a>, <a href="https://www.ultimahora.com/creacion-del-ministerio-la-familia-trataran-nuevos-legisladores-n1302223.html">Paraguay</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/JulioRosasH/photos/a.155871837800509.40157.153141901406836/979902568730761/?type=3&amp;theater">Peru</a>, ultra-conservative legislators and activists have called for new family ministries to be established, or for women’s ministries to be replaced by these. </p><p dir="ltr">They are part of a wider movement that wants the family – narrowly defined as a married man, woman and (ideally many) children – to have primacy over the individual rights and autonomy of women, girls, and LGBT people.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Open hostility</h2><p dir="ltr">Rising populist movements with regressive social agendas are widely seen as threats to democracy. They are often defined by their anti-free press, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim positions, but they also share an open hostility to women’s human rights.</p><p dir="ltr">Bolsonaro’s steady ascendency in the polls in Brazil has been accompanied by an alarming<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/11/brazil-election-violence-bolsonaro-haddad"> rise in violence</a> against journalists and activists – with women, including trans women, at<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/zika-virus"> particular risk</a> while reporting or protesting.</p><p dir="ltr">Democracy can only flourish with women’s full participation. Assaults on women’s rights, and government bodies dedicated to women’s protection and empowerment, is a seldomly-mentioned indicator of creeping illiberalism.</p><p dir="ltr">Protecting women’s human rights, by building and preserving legal safeguards in government, is a bulwark against the erosion of functioning democracy. Losing these entities is the Klaxon call that demands our immediate attention.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018"" target="_blank">Read more here</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Tracking the backlash women's human rights women and power gender Gillian Kane Fri, 26 Oct 2018 15:17:30 +0000 Gillian Kane 120284 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK Christian ‘reactionaries’ mark 10 years of lobbying against women’s and LGBT rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/adam-bychawski/christian-concern-reactionaries-10-years-lobbying-women-and-lgbt-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At Christian Concern’s birthday party in London, lobbyists talked about their expansion plans and work to recruit young people.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_6312.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_6312.JPG" alt="Religious fruitcake: Christian Concern celebrated their tenth anniversary over the weekend" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Religious fruitcake: Christian Concern celebrated their tenth anniversary over the weekend. Image: Adam Bychawski</span></span></span>The scene at the tenth-anniversary celebration of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT lobbyists Christian Concern was a far cry from a typical religious service. </p><p dir="ltr">The evangelical organisation, one of the largest in the UK, hired a Grade II listed building a stone’s throw away from Parliament Square in London for the occasion last Saturday. At a drink’s reception in the building’s marble foyer, prosecco and canapés were served by waiters to hundreds of guests – including a MP and a member of the House of Lords – under the watchful eye of security guards. </p><p dir="ltr">The celebratory atmosphere reflected the group’s growth over the last decade. In 2008, Christian Concern comprised a handful of religious conservatives and, as its chief executive Andrea Williams admitted in a <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/media/andrea-invites-you-to-celebrate-10-years-of-christian-concern">video</a> posted online, it was struggling to pay its staff. Promotional material at the event listed its total expenditure as £1.9m last year.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the weekend, it marked a decade of public campaigning and legal support for conservative Christian beliefs in the UK, lobbying against reforms including liberalised abortion laws, LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, more inclusive sex education, same-sex marriage and an easier gender recognition process for trans people. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">It marked a decade of lobbying against reforms including liberalised abortion laws, more inclusive sex education and same-sex marriage.</p><p dir="ltr">In her keynote speech, Williams said Christian Concern, which boasts an 80,000-strong mailing list, was recently asked by an unnamed MP for help in campaigning against <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45955492">a bill proposing to decriminalisation abortion</a> which would in particular overturn the current regime in Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances. </p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/media/andrea-invites-you-to-celebrate-10-years-of-christian-concern">a promotional video</a> for the celebration, Williams states that Christian Concern has grown to around 25 employees. Outlining her vision for the organisation’s future Williams said: “I want to double because that’s what’s needed in the time to come.” </p><p dir="ltr">Between speeches from Christian Concern’s senior figures, attendees were shown short films. One illustrated the “social revolution” that has swept the nation through clips of news reports about proposals for civil partnerships, compulsory sex education, no-fault divorce bills, and an interview with a trans teenager and her mother.</p><p dir="ltr">The Conservative Party was specifically singled out with clips of David Cameron backing gay marriage and Theresa May denouncing gay conversion therapy as “an abhorrent practice”. Christian Concern call attempts to ban such therapy <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/sexual-orientation/why-the-bill-to-ban-gay-conversion-therapy-is-pernicious-and-a-threa">“pernicious”</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Among the attendees were DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson and House of Lords life peer Baroness Caroline Cox, both of whom have consistently voted against LGBT rights and same-sex marriage legislation. Michael Nazir-Ali, a former Anglian Bishop with a track record of offensive remarks about homosexuality and Muslims, was also there. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">He told attendees in a speech that gay marriage will lead to ‘legalising incest’.</p><p dir="ltr">Nazir-Ali told attendees in a speech that gay marriage will lead to “legalising incest”. He also said: “Someone once said to me that Christian Concern is reactionary, well we do have to react if lies are being told in our streets and in our newspapers, we do have to react. If that means being reactionary, so be it.”</p><p dir="ltr">The subject of trans rights was mentioned several times, prompting the shaking of heads in the audience. Christian Concern is one of several UK Christian conservative organisations that have recently filed submissions opposing proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. </p><p dir="ltr">Carys Moseley, a former university theology lecturer, and now policy researcher for Christian Concern, has written that being transgender is a “psychiatric disorder” and <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/our-issues/church-and-state/why-it-is-so-important-that-the-uk-government-has-admitted-that-trans-id">implied that transgender women are sex offenders</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">She also contributed to a collection of essays published by a division of Christian Concern titled The New Normal: The Transgender Agenda. Other contributors include an American college teacher who calls same-sex parenting “child abuse” and American conservative spokesperson Robert Oscar Lopez who describes himself as “anti-gay” and has previously written that the LGBT rights movement is <a href="https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/04/stop_crying_over_mozilla_and_start_fighting_back.html">a “world-historical evil”</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">‘Thousands of people come through our offices’.</p><p dir="ltr">Aside from public campaigning, Christian Concern’s sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, have offered legal support in a number of court cases challenging anti-discrimination and equality laws. </p><p dir="ltr">Williams told attendees “thousands of people come through our offices”. A promotional pamphlet said the group spent almost half a million pounds on legal cases in 2017.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_1251.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_1251.JPG" alt="Andrea Williams, Christian Concern's chief executive said she wanted to "double" the organisation." title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Andrea Williams, Christian Concern's chief executive said she wanted to "double" the organisation. Image: Adam Bychawski</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">A short film highlighting a few of these cases included Mike Davidson, who approached Christian Concern for help after the British Psychodrama Association revoked his membership for providing therapy for “unwanted same-sex attraction.”</p><p dir="ltr">Another featured case was that of Ian Sleeper, a street preacher who was arrested for displaying a placard with the message “Love Muslims, Hate Islam”. In a Christian Concern <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/press-release/victory-for-street-preacher-held-in-cell-for-13-hours-for-sharing-love-for-muslims-and">press release</a>, Sleeper said "My hope is for the world to rid itself of Islam”.</p><p dir="ltr">A running theme in the evening’s speeches was concern at the lack of young people in the Church of England. Indeed, <a href="http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2018/september/church-of-england-numbers-at-record-low/">a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey</a> revealed a growing lack of religiosity among the young, with 70% of those aged 18–24 now saying they have no religion – a 56% increase from 2002. Only 2% identified as Anglican. </p><p dir="ltr">The congregation at the event appeared to be mostly middle-aged aside from a number of young volunteers and families with infants.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">An urgent need ‘to build the next generation’.</p><p dir="ltr">Williams spoke of the urgent need “to build the next generation” and said that 500 young people have attended its week-long training camp, Wilberforce Academy, where speakers have included Sam Soloman, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, who also spoke at this weekend’s event and is the group’s “Islamic affairs advisor”. </p><p dir="ltr">Soloman previously drafted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/04/ukip-mep-gerard-batten-muslims-sign-charter-rejecting-violence">UKIP’s “charter of Muslim understanding”</a> in 2014 – which was also shared online by Christian Concern. It proposed that Muslims should sign a special code of conduct rejecting violence. </p><p dir="ltr">A previous Wilberforce Academy attendee told me that Soloman once led a session on Islam in which students were taught that Muslims were “breeding” ten times as fast as the rest of the population and that much of the UK is following Sharia law.</p><p dir="ltr">Students were also given lectures by Canadian pastor Joe Boot who taught them that the impact of climate change is overstated and effects to reduce carbon emissions will simply lead to more poverty. Boot has called catastrophic climate change “a myth” and environmentalism <a href="https://docplayer.net/90296099-Spring-2014-law-of-life-ofdeath-joe-boot-nazi-environmental-ethics-mark-musser-is-man-the-cause-of-global-warming-michael-j.html">“indoctrination in service of a wider political and religious agenda”</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The evening’s speeches were rounded off with a video that painted a clear picture of the growing reach and international coordination of the Christian right. </p><p dir="ltr">It featured senior figures from South Africa’s Freedom of Religion who said they “would probably not exist but for the help and support we’ve had from [Christian Concern]” as well as Family Voice Australia, the Bread of Life Ethiopian Church and the South Korean Esther Prayer Movement, which has links to the International House of Prayer.</p><p dir="ltr">In her closing remarks about what lies ahead for Christian Concern, Williams said: “We need to build a visible church, a church that is vocal and visible in the public space that the authorities will take care of. We are going nowhere”.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Tracking the backlash women's human rights women's health sexual identities Adam Bychawski Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:16:25 +0000 Adam Bychawski 120282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Draft legislation in Ukraine targets same-sex relationships https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/ukraine-targets-same-sex-relationships <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A Ukrainian MP has introduced legislation to criminalise same sex relationships and protect traditional values. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tatyana-bezruk/nenavist-k-lgbt" target="_self"><em><strong>RU</strong></em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.32.29_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.32.29_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Oleksandr Vilkul. Photo CC BY-SA 3.0: Catrifle / Wikipedia. </span></span></span>Earlier this month, Oleksandr Vilkul, an MP from Ukraine’s Opposition Bloc party, the successor to Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, registered <a href="http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64775">draft bill No.9183</a>, “on the introduction of changes in certain legislation in Ukraine relating to the protection of public morals and traditional values”. </p><p dir="ltr">This is Vilkul’s first legislative foray into LGBT and gender issues. Most of Vilkul’s <a href="http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/pt2/reports.dep2?PERSON=8737&amp;SKL=9">draft bills</a> since Ukraine’s 2014 parliamentary election have concerned pensioners’ social welfare, the rights of temporarily displaced persons, education, budget amendments, taxes and land regulations. In June 2018, however, the MP filed several draft bills on the same subject areas as those he has revisited now — public morality and family values, changes to the Action Plan for the implementation of Ukraine’s national Human Rights strategy up to 2020, and creating a basis for the country’s family policies. </p><p dir="ltr">In the explanatory note to draft bill No.9183, Vilkul stresses the need for such a law, given that the state is paying particular attention to “the artificially created problem of discrimination against people with non-traditional sexual orientation”. The accompanying documentation to the bill makes no reference to attacks faced by LGBT activists in Ukraine or how the police classify these attacks. Ukraine’s Penal Code contains a specific article on hate crime, but it often remains unused in such cases, and most attacks are qualified under “hooliganism”. Vilkul also explains why equality marches, Pride events, gay parades and queer culture festivals must be banned as forms of “deviant behaviour”. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The bill proposes to remove the terms “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “gender equality” and “gender-based legal assessment” from Ukrainian legislation</p><p dir="ltr">The MP’s draft bill provides for a fine of an amount between 1,000 and 1,500 non-taxable minimum incomes for “demonstrating same-sex relationships”, which is to be raised to the amount of 3,000 non-taxable minimum incomes if the “offender” is a public official of any kind. A repeat offence may result in a three to five year custodial sentence, with officials liable to a four to six year sentence. Importing publications that “promote same sex relationships”, their distribution and possession will entail a prison term of up to three years. The bill also proposes to remove the terms “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “gender equality” and “gender-based legal assessment” from Ukrainian legislation. Vilkul dismisses these terms as anti-scientific and ideologically biased. He would like to replace them with “equal rights and opportunities for men and women”, “a legal assessment to ensure equal rights and opportunities for men and women” and “a culture of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women”.</p><p dir="ltr">Vilkul’s draft bill would provide different rights to balance its restrictions on LGBT rights: financial aid during pregnancy, childbirth and maternity leave and after the age of three (at present, women are entitled to partially paid leave until their child’s third birthday); social grants and financial help for students from large families and orphaned students and free school meals and transport for pupils in school classes 1-4 (7-11 year olds – ed.). The bill would also allow existing schools to be closed down only if the communities in their local villages and towns agree to this step. According to the MP, all the social welfare initiatives he proposes are designed to support families and the children growing up in them. But the bill’s logic, and evidently also Vilkul’s, excludes any connection between LGBT people and families, as if children, and consequently maternity leave and benefits, can only happen in heterosexual families. </p><p dir="ltr">The bill will be examined by a number of parliamentary committees, including the Committees on Family Issues, Youth Policies, Sport and Tourism and Freedom of Speech and Information Policies. But the most pertinent committee is the Committee on Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations. This is how a frankly homophobic bill designed to work on the “carrot and stick” principle, where criminal charges for same-sex relationships are matched with free school meals, will progress through hearings by a committee which is forbidden to permit any kind of discrimination in legislative initiatives. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.41.49_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.41.49_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>March of equality, 2018, Kyiv. Source: YouTube.</span></span></span>This particular initiative of Vilkul’s will probably not pass the first hurdle and will be sent off for reworking, if not rejected out of hand. But it’s worth taking not just the antidemocratic views of its creator into account, but the time at which it was registered in parliament. </p><p dir="ltr">There’s just over half a year left before Ukraine’s next presidential election and a year before its parliamentary elections. The approach of these dates is evident in the infinite variety of pre-election political PR and propaganda. The opposition is exercised by the number of potholes in the roads around the country, while the government stresses the number that have been resurfaced. For many years now, candidats have been buying voters’ support with food parcels containing buckwheat kasha, sunflower oil and conserves. Some parcels also contain election leaflets, to remind people who they should vote for. But while the free food is still a few months away, the Opposition Bloc MP has decided to target the voters with tales of the differences in value systems between Ukraine and the EU, which continues to “inflict propaganda of homosexual relationships” on the former. It’s easy, after all, to say that the government and media are hung up on the country’s LGBT issues, while forgetting the plight of children who require assistance. </p><p>One of the most vulnerable groups in society has become a punch bag, to be bashed at the slightest opportunity. Political propaganda, even in wartime, continues to polarise a society that is already divided by the physical borders of the occupying “governments” in Donbas and Crimea. Meanwhile, gay people <a href="https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/features-russian-45369500">take part in art projects</a>, showing that they too are volunteers, whether civil or military, and soldiers. In return, they face possible arrest and prison. And the people who are proposing this are former members of the party of fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych, whose case is currently being heard in Kyiv’s Obolonsky courthouse.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ivan-chesnokov/the-illuminator-project">Meet Illuminator, the online project making space for discussing LGBT issues in Russia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/nadzeya-husakouskaya/sex-change-commission-in-ukraine">The sex change commission in Ukraine</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/alexander-kondakov/putting-russia-s-homophobic-violence-on-map">Putting Russia’s homophobic violence on the map</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ganna-grytsenko/the-real-barriers-to-freedom-of-assembly-in-ukraine">What are the real barriers to freedom of assembly in Ukraine?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/liberal-democracy-hard-choice-for-ukraine">Liberal democracy: a hard choice for Ukraine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia 50.50 oD Russia Tetiana Bezruk Ukraine Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:08:26 +0000 Tetiana Bezruk 120273 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the United Nations security council must let women speak freely https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-allen/united-nations-security-council-must-let-women-speak-freely <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women’s civil society advocates were long excluded from the security council. This is changing, but they must be allowed to speak freely.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/33960074442_1d30b502e5_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hajer Sharief from Libya"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/33960074442_1d30b502e5_k.jpg" alt="Hajer Sharief from Libya" title="Hajer Sharief from Libya" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hajer Sharief from Libya, one of several women civil society advocates who have recently briefed the UN security council. Photo: LNU Photo. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Women civil society advocates from war-torn countries now have greater access to the United Nations’ security council. This means that, at last, women with lived experiences of dealing with conflict can inform the most powerful global body addressing peace and security issues.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://undocs.org/S/RES/1325(2000)">Resolution 1325</a>, passed in 2000, requires the security council to engage women in conflict resolution. Once or twice a year, an opportunity was created for one woman representing all of civil society to speak during open debates on women, peace and security. This year, these are being held on 25 October.</p><p dir="ltr">However, outside of these annual debates, from its inception in 1946 until just three years ago, civil society representatives were not permitted to brief the security council during country-specific meetings. This has changed.</p><p dir="ltr">In the first nine months of 2018, <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/our-work/peacebuilders/">more than a dozen</a> representatives from women’s organisations spoke to the 15 council members. Among them was <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/razia-sultana/">Razia Sultana, the first Rohingya person to ever address the security council</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Why does this matter? These briefings convey intel and perspectives that council members would not otherwise hear.</p><p><a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/justine-masika-bihamba/">Justine Masika Bihamba</a> from the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained how UN peacekeeping budget cuts directly affected local populations. <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/mariam-safi/">Mariam Safi</a> from Afghanistan warned that the constitutional changes considered in talks with the Taliban would erode Afghan citizens’ rights.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">“These briefings convey intel and perspectives that council members would not otherwise hear.”</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder-resource-un-security-council-briefing-libya-hajer-shareif-january-2018/">Hajer Sharief</a> from Libya gave a briefing in January, facilitated by the NGO working group on women, peace and security (of which I was executive director, until the end of August). Afterwards, a diplomat told us her account had persuaded some council members to follow up with the head of the country’s UN mission to ensure that her policy recommendations were taken up.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">A growing number of UN member states have <a href="https://undocs.org/S/PV.8318">publicly stated</a> that they welcome such statements by representatives of women’s organisations.</p><p dir="ltr">But the UN – an organisation that defends national sovereignty – has long been reluctant to accept civil society testimony, particularly when it challenges government narratives. Expecting civil society to fit within such narrow parameters undermines the inclusion of women’s testimony and analysis.</p><p dir="ltr">A diplomat once relayed a request from their ambassador to identify a civil society speaker who had either been raped or was born of rape, lived through the stigma of their ordeal and had then had risen to become a leader in their community. The aim was to have someone who could ‘move’ the security council with her story.</p><p dir="ltr">This type of request reduces civil society participation to entertainment – a potentially exploitative or voyeuristic kind – not a partnership. Civil society's role is not to ‘move’ the council. The council and civil society alike must take great care when working with survivors of sexual violence, in order not to sensationalise an individual’s experiences or cause further harm by re-traumatising them.</p><p dir="ltr">This request was dismissed, and a robust conversation with the diplomats ensued to explain why. However, since then, many other council members have similarly asked civil society speakers to focus primarily on their personal experiences, suggesting a preference for personal narrative over local analysis and recommendations.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">“This reduces civil society participation to entertainment – a potentially exploitative or voyeuristic kind.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNSC1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The security council, 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNSC1.png" alt="The security council, 2015" title="The security council, 2015" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The security council, 2015. Photo: Flickr/United Nations. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>On several occasions, member states have asked for recommendations of women civil society representatives who are compelling speakers, who speak English well, but are not 'too political', contentious or divisive. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">There are also frequent appeals, once invitations are accepted, for civil society speakers to focus remarks narrowly on specific areas, or not to discuss politically sensitive issues. New York-based civil society has countered this and advised that invited speakers should be enabled to give independent statements which best reflect the needs of their communities and the assessments of their organisations. &nbsp;</p><p>It takes political will in the first place for a member state to extend such invitations, as these briefings still do not enjoy universal support from all security council members.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2017, <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/20170310-burundian-peace-activist-barred-un-meeting">an activist from Burundi made headlines</a> when Russia and other members blocked her from speaking. To expect women civil society speakers to limit themselves to communicating a moving personal story is to assume that they are not political analysts and actors with urgent messages to deliver.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">“Powerful statements made by women civil society advocates over the past year have required real political courage”</p><p dir="ltr">The various powerful statements made by women civil society advocates over the past year have required real political courage, both from the women themselves and from the member states that invited them.</p><p dir="ltr">Sultana opened her statement in April by stating that the security council had failed the Rohingya people. She outlined essential recommendations related to the humanitarian situation in Bangladesh, accountability for the Burmese military and legal reforms required for an inclusive and equal Myanmar.</p><p>Afterwards, council members mentioned their surprise at her strongly-worded statement, but recognised that it had been vital for her to denounce inaction.</p><p dir="ltr">Such opportunities should be protected and promoted to further institutionalise women’s participation in this formal setting. Attempts to craft their statements into politically palatable messages contradict the very reason these briefings are so essential – and question whether the role of civil society is genuinely appreciated and understood.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018" target="_blank"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u565030/wfdsmalllogo.png" alt="wfdsmalllogo.png" width="140" height="107" /></a></p><p>This article was published as part of the World Forum for Democracy 2018. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/world-forum-for-democracy-2018"" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 Gender and the UN women's movements women's human rights women and power gender Louise Allen Mon, 22 Oct 2018 10:13:41 +0000 Louise Allen 120206 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why UK trans rights debates are so frustrating, but I won’t give up hope https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/owl-fisher/uk-trans-rights-debates-so-frustrating-but-wont-give-up-hope <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act have led to a vile backlash in the media. But we all deserve freedom.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32446384.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32446384.jpg" alt="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year." title="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year. Photo: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Anyone following the debate about trans rights in the UK will have heard about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (<a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act">GRA</a>). Given the amount of energy and time spent debating this in the media, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this is the single most important trans rights issue in recent times. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />While reform opponents go on about how they will impact the safety of cis women, creating avenues for abusive men to pretend to be women, the GRA is just about trans people being able to get new birth certificates. The reforms are about updating the current intrusive, outdated, bureaucratic process. </p><p>The proposals would create a new legal process for people to sign a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/23/woman-wednesdays-transphobic-labour-trans">statutory declaration</a> in order to get a new birth certificate. This process already exists in other countries including Malta, Argentina, Denmark and Ireland.</p><p>The sky hasn’t fallen in these places, nor have abusive cis men seized the opportunity to put on a dress and lipstick and march into women’s toilets to abuse women. All that has happened: a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/15/monumental-change-ireland-transformed-transgender-rights">handful of trans people</a> have got new birth certificates without having to prove to complete strangers who they are.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Reforms, not revolution</h2><p dir="ltr">GRA reform will potentially include legal gender recognition for non-binary people as well, who are not currently recognised under the law in England (though they are in countries including Malta, Denmark, Norway and Canada). This means that non-binary people could get IDs that <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/09/gender-recognition-act-reform-im-non-binary-and-this-is-why-i-need-your-help/">reflect who they are</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">The reforms may also apply to younger people, at 16 or 17 years old. At this age, kids can already enter into marriages or civil partnerships, consent to medical treatment and join trade unions. Being able to change a letter on their IDs shouldn’t be seen as a massive concern. </p><p dir="ltr">Despite the relatively limited focus of the reform proposals – to make legal gender recognition more accessible and inclusive – it has led to a vile backlash in the media, with the opposition repeatedly framing it as cis women versus trans women, feminists versus trans people, even <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/09/anti-trans-protesters-pride-banner-march-london">lesbians versus trans women</a>. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Moral panic</h2><p dir="ltr">This opposition has drummed up a moral panic over trans women using women-only services or facilities, compromising the safety of cis women because of their “male bodies”. They have even suggested that young trans girls are potential abusers or rapists. </p><p dir="ltr">These are baseless – and harmful – narratives, but the media constantly gives platforms to them. Not only does the GRA have nothing to do with access to single-sex spaces, but trans people are already legally allowed to use these spaces in accordance with their gender identity under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents">2010 Equality Act</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Women and feminists at large are not concerned about this reform. Most who know what the GRA is actually about are wholly supportive. Trans women have been using single-sex services and facilities for decades. Services in Scotland publicly <a href="https://www.engender.org.uk/news/blog/statement-in-support-of-the-equal-recognition-campaign-and-reform-of-the-gender-recognitio/">recognise</a> rights of trans people, and many across the UK have diversity and equality policies.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p>This is what makes the debate so frustrating. People are allowed to spout complete nonsense on TV without evidence and get commissioned to write articles by mainstream media about the dangers of ‘<a href="https://medium.com/@juliaserano/debunking-trans-women-are-not-women-arguments-85fd5ab0e19c">transgenderism</a>’. In the process, the media endorses these views as if they are actually reasonable.</p><p>Opponents of GRA reform have bought <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/10/metro-newspaper-full-page-ad-attacking-transgender-reforms/">adverts</a> in newspapers. On social media, we’ve seen bizarre posts hoping, for example, that trans women will be <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/12/fair-play-for-women-tweets-1000-cancers/">afflicted by cancer</a> if they can, in the future, get pregnant via uterus transplants.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The real problems</h2><p dir="ltr">I really hope the GRA reform will go through – but I cannot wait for this to be over so that we can start focusing on the real issues at hand. </p><p dir="ltr">These issues include <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42774750">unacceptably long waiting lists</a> to receive trans-related healthcare, media silence over the <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/blog-naomi-hersi">brutal murder</a> of Naomi Hersi, a trans woman of colour, and a raft of worrying statistics. </p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, two in five trans people have experienced a <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">hate crime</a>; 25% have <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">been homeless</a> at some point in their lives; 12% have been <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">physically attacked by a colleague or customer</a>; up to 45% of trans youth have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/trans-young-people-suicide-support-mental-health">attempted suicide</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">While the relentless media debate rages, in which we are constantly vilified or all made responsible for a few bad apples, it is easy to feel hopeless. </p><p dir="ltr">As a campaigner outspoken about trans rights, I get harassed on social media every day. I also get invited onto TV programmes to argue with people who think I’m nothing but a misogynistic bloke in a frock (confession: I don’t own a single frock. Do I have to hand in my membership card to womanhood?). <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">Still, I’m hopeful that we as a society will recognise each other’s shared humanity; that we as the feminist movement will continue to fight for all women from an intersectional perspective; that we as the LGBTI community will continue to <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/xw9537/why-i-cofounded-lwiththet">come together</a> and not let this rise in transphobia divide us. </p><p dir="ltr">In the end, this is all about the freedom to be yourself without persecution, judgement and discrimination. Isn’t that something we all deserve?</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Equality Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash gender 50.50 newsletter Owl Fisher Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:03:52 +0000 Owl Fisher 120109 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New analysis shows that groups that traditionally disagree are now on the same side – against reforming the Gender Recognition Act.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA4.png" alt="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London." title="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London." width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London. Photo: Sophie Hemery.</span></span></span>Christian conservatives have become the unlikely allies of women’s groups mobilising against trans rights reforms in the UK, openDemocracy can reveal. </p><p dir="ltr">There is no evidence that they are actively working together. But our analysis of <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/law/17867/gender-recognition-review/review-of-gender-recognition-act-2004-list-of-orga">responses</a> to a Scottish consultation on potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) found that <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cq4CzRgTso9Vc3o67T4rwAMKIOxrqpHzvuqScmJCWuA/edit?usp=sharing">opposition</a> came from these two groups. </p><p dir="ltr">Roughly half of the anti-reform submissions came from Christian conservative groups, which traditionally oppose abortion and same sex marriage; the other half were submitted by women’s groups that fight for these rights. </p><p dir="ltr">Some of their arguments in response to the consultation’s questions were also markedly similar: that reforms would threaten women-only spaces, marriages, families, and the safety of women and children.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK government is <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">considering reforms</a> to the 2004 law, which enables people to change their gender on legal documents, after a survey found the current process “too bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive”. </p><p dir="ltr">A public consultation on these reforms in England and Wales closes on 19 October. A separate consultation in Scotland earlier this year attracted an avalanche of <a href="https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004/">more than 15,500 submissions</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Our analysis of more than 150 published responses to the Scottish consultation shows that only about 20% opposed reforms – and how groups that sharply disagree on other rights issues have converged against this one.</p><p dir="ltr">Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Alliance policy officer at the Equality Network, said the opposition is likely to fail. “However, it is having a big personal impact on trans people at the moment,” as “many trans people feel under attack.”</p><p dir="ltr">Women’s groups opposing reforms “might want to consider what it says about their campaign,” Valentine added, that others taking similar positions are “conservative religious lobby groups [that] are no friends of women’s rights.” </p><p class="mag-quote-center">“Conservative religious lobby groups are no friends of women’s rights”</p><p dir="ltr">Valentine added that the proposed reforms won’t affect access to single-sex spaces, which is covered under <a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance">separate equality legislation</a>. </p><p>The reforms would “simply improve the process for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates – and when was the last time you were asked to show your birth certificate before using a toilet or changing room?”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA3.png" alt="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms." title="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms." width="460" height="274" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms. Image: Claire Provost.</span></span></span>The <a href="https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004/user_uploads/sct1017251758-1_gender_p4--3-.pdf">proposed reforms</a> would enable trans people to legally self-identity their gender, “removing requirements… to provide medical evidence and to have lived in their acquired gender for two years before applying”.</p><p dir="ltr">The government’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">web page</a> insists its consultation “does not consider the question of whether trans people exist”. People can already legally change their gender, it says, “and there is no suggestion of this right being removed”. </p><h2>Christian opposition</h2><p dir="ltr">The Scottish consultation asked questions including: if respondents agreed with a self-declaratory system; if reforms should apply to younger people; and whether spousal consent should be required for legal gender recognition. </p><p dir="ltr">Submissions came in from across the UK – as well as from groups in other countries including Canada, the US, and Australia. </p><p dir="ltr">ADF International, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-ella-milburn/christian-legal-army-court-battles-worldwide">the global branch of a US Christian ‘legal army’</a> that defends opponents of sexual and reproductive rights in courts around the world, <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539269.pdf">said</a> in its submission that “gender dysphoria” is “as rare as it is serious”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Persons with such presentations,” ADF International claimed, “have testified that they felt nothing less than their sanity to be at stake".</p><p dir="ltr">The Newcastle-based Christian Institute – which previously worked with ADF International to support a London registrar who <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">refused to officiate at same-sex civil partnerships</a> – also submitted to the Scottish consultation. </p><p dir="ltr">It <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539465.pdf">criticised</a> the “fundamental premise” that “a man can become a woman and that a woman can become a man”, saying the current law “creates a legal fiction” and that reforms could “abolish” women-only spaces.</p><p dir="ltr">Other Christian groups <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539279.pdf">warned</a> that women and girls could end up in “vulnerable and potentially risky situations” under the reforms and <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539283.pdf">cited</a> "the mental suffering of wives and children of men who decide to live as transgendered”. </p><p>The Maryburgh and Killearn Free Church of Scotland <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539377.pdf">said</a> gender is “decided by GOD… while in our mother's womb” and “that lovely woman they fell in love with and married who now wants to be a man – such horror is incredible!”</p><h2>‘Unlikely allies’</h2><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, women’s groups opposing the reforms include Midlothian Women's Spaces, which <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539381.pdf">said</a> “a man in a dress is not a woman” and the YES Matters group, which <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539509.pdf">said</a> “gender dysphoria is a mental health condition”. </p><p dir="ltr">Women's Place UK <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539502.pdf">said</a> the proposed reforms may have “unintended consequences for the safety and well-being of women and girls” as “predatory men could demand access to women-only spaces and services”. </p><p dir="ltr">Some women’s groups also argued that people are born male or female and cannot change this and that reforms could negatively affect marriages.</p><p dir="ltr">OBJECT – Women Not Sex Objects! <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539395.pdf">argued</a>: “We are a sexually dimorphic species, born (not 'assigned') male or female at birth. This is a scientific fact.” Recognising other genders “is a recipe for madness”, it added.</p><p dir="ltr">Lesbian Strength Scotland <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539371.pdf">said</a> that one partner in a same-sex relationship deciding to change their gender can affect “the nature of a marriage, and is likely to be linked to a distressing and sudden change in character”.</p><p dir="ltr">Fair Play for Women <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539305.pdf">added</a> that if a woman’s husband changes his legal gender to female, “her marriage has fundamentally and dramatically changed” while divorce “may not be an easy option” for some, including “devout Catholics.”</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Would set trans rights back decades’</h2><p dir="ltr">Valentine, the Scottish Trans Alliance policy officer, told us that most of the largest Scottish women’s groups support the proposed reforms while a “small minority” is “organising a campaign, which relies heavily on misinformation”.</p><p dir="ltr">They said that groups opposing reforms are not focusing on the specific law and reforms under consideration “but seeking to repeal trans people’s protection from discrimination, which would set trans rights back decades”.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s not surprising to see Christian fundamentalists in this opposition, said Isabel Marler at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), describing them as “quick to deploy” whenever legal changes might grant marginalised groups more rights. </p><p dir="ltr">Their interest in this topic, she said, may be because “they see it as a ‘wedge’ issue” with less social consensus and “potential to whip up a moral panic.” </p><p dir="ltr">But she argued that anti-reform women’s groups should “reflect on the fact that they are aligned with some of the most patriarchal ideologies around, and ask themselves if their version of feminism is working for the liberation of all women and oppressed people”.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fopendemocracy5050%2Fvideos%2F2039472552776087%2F&show_text=0&width=476" width="450" height="450" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is tracking the backlash against trans rights in the UK as part of our ongoing series <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash</a> against women’s and LGBT rights. </em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender fundamentalisms feminism young feminists Nandini Archer Claire Provost Thu, 18 Oct 2018 11:47:30 +0000 Claire Provost and Nandini Archer 120110 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Gay cake’ cases show strength of Christian right legal armies on both sides of the Atlantic https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-claire-provost/gay-cake-cases-strength-us-uk-christian-right-legal-armies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In UK and US supreme courts, freedom of speech has been the defence of bakers who oppose same-sex marriage. It’s no coincidence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39045567.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39045567.jpg" alt="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court." title="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court." width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The owners of Ashers bakery in Northern Ireland, who refused to make a cake with the words ‘support gay marriage' on it, won their appeal at the UK Supreme Court this week. The court <a href="https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0020.html">ruled unanimously</a> that this refusal was not discriminatory.</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the UK LGBT rights group Stonewall <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/media-statement/stonewall-statement-ashers-bakery">said the</a> ruling was “a backward step for equality” which may be used “to justify even more discrimination at a time when LGBT people still face exclusion, abuse and discrimination every day.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44361162">similar case</a> earlier this year, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Christian baker in Colorado, whose Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.</p><p dir="ltr">On both sides of the Atlantic, the 'gay cake' cases used freedom of speech and conscience arguments to defend the bakers, who oppose same-sex marriage. Rights activists warn the verdicts could <a href="https://www.rainbow-project.org/news/the-rainbow-project-expresses-disappointment-at-supreme-court-ashers-judgment">set new precedents</a> for when businesses can discriminate against customers.</p><p dir="ltr">But what else do the two cases have in common? They show the strength of organised and internationally connected Christian legal armies with growing track records of successfully defending opponents of sexual and reproductive rights in US, UK and other courts.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">But what else do the two cases have in common? Increasingly organised and internationally connected Christian legal armies.</p><p dir="ltr">In the US Supreme Court case, the plaintiff, baker Jack Phillips, had been successfully <a href="https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/masterpiece-cakeshop/">sued in Colorado</a> after he refused to bake the cake for a gay couple in 2012.</p><p dir="ltr">He was represented by <a href="https://www.adflegal.org/">Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)</a>, described as an anti-LGBT “<a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/27/anti-lgbt-hate-group-alliance-defending-freedom-defended-state-enforced-sterilization">hate group</a>” by the Southern Law Poverty Center.</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK case, the Belfast bakery owners received <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/press_release/gay-cake-case-uk-supreme-court-belfast-first-time-ashers-baking-co-seeks-ni-court-compelled-speech-decision-overturned/">a £500 damages award</a> from their county court after they refused to bake the cake in that case, in 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">They were supported by the Newcastle-based <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/">Christian Institute</a> – a group that’s been <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">described</a> as an “allied organisation of ADF International,” ADF’s global wing, which also opened an office in London last year.</p><p dir="ltr">On Twitter, ADF <a href="https://twitter.com/AllianceDefends/status/1049990202859638784">called this week’s UK Supreme Court decision</a> “a great win for freedom”, while the Christian Institute <a href="https://mailchi.mp/christian/breaking-news-ashers-wins-in-landmark-victory-on-compelled-speech?e=f5840db50b">referred to it</a> as “thrilling news,” stating that “equality laws cannot be used to make people say things they don’t believe. That has always been our position.”</p><p>Previously, the two groups supported the case of a London registrar who <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">refused to officiate for same-sex civil partnerships</a>. The Christian Institute supported that case throughout, while ADF submitted legal arguments once it reached the European Court of Human Rights.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/GCC.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sharing cake."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/GCC.png" alt="Sharing cake." title="Sharing cake." width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sharing cake. Photo: Flickr/Loewyn Young. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>Same-sex marriage was legalised gradually in the US, starting with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/may/18/usa.uselections2004">Massachusetts</a> in 2004. In 2015, it was legalised nationwide as the result of a Supreme Court ruling.</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, Northern Ireland is the only part of the country where same-sex marriage isn’t legal. A bill to change this <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-44077962">was blocked</a> from moving to the next stage in the UK parliament earlier this year.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">What good are rules and regulations if they are treated as 'opt-in' by religious believers?</p><p dir="ltr">Internationally, freedom of speech, religion and conscience arguments are increasingly being used by conservative groups to challenge anti-discrimination and equality laws.</p><p dir="ltr">“Cases like these, funded by large and wealthy Christian lobby groups, taken up as an attempt to fan the flames of a culture war, are becoming far too frequent,” Liam Whitton from the charity Humanists UK told us, asking: “What good are rules and regulations if they are treated as 'opt-in' by religious believers?”</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, ADF International’s executive director <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/news/gay-cake-cases-rubicon-free-speech/">Paul Coleman</a> wrote that the Colorado and Belfast bakers’ cases represented “a fork in the road” and that they would “shape the directions of Western freedoms in the years ahead”.</p><p dir="ltr">But, at the US LGBT rights group Equality Federation, Mark Snyder said that despite “emboldened” attempts from conservative groups to “undermine our core values of fairness and equality”, resistance to these efforts is also strong.</p><p dir="ltr">“I think there has been a renewed awakening to the importance of intersectional movement building,” he said, “as we see that it is the same cynical politicians and far-right activists attacking women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk United States UK Equality International politics Tracking the backlash sexual identities Claire Provost Nandini Archer Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:12:05 +0000 Nandini Archer and Claire Provost 120054 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nadia Murad may have won the Nobel peace prize, but the world failed her Yazidi people https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/nadia-murad-won-nobel-world-failed-her-yazidi-people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The international community could and should have done more to rescue those captured by ISIS. The media also failed in its coverage of this crisis.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26486088.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26486088.jpg" alt="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016" title="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Yazidi activist and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad has been named this year’s <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45759221">Nobel peace prize winner</a>, along with Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, for their efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.</p><p dir="ltr">Nadia endured more than three months in ISIS captivity after her village, Kocho, was overrun by militants on 3 August 2014. Troops from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga had left their positions all over the mainly Yazidi area of Mount Sinjar, in northern Iraq, to defend the city of Duhok after the fall of Mosul that June.</p><p dir="ltr">Her mother is believed to be buried in one of the mass graves found close to her village after it was retaken by the Peshmerga; she also lost brothers, sisters and nephews. Nadia’s niece, “sister and soulmate” was <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/150720171">killed by a landmine whilst making her own daring escape</a> from ISIS in 2016. Nadia took her passing particularly badly; by then she was <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/after-attempted-genocide-by-isis-yazidis-look-to-germany-1.2502704">safely ensconced in Germany</a> and already advocating for rescues and aid.</p><p dir="ltr">Of the 331 individuals and organisations nominated for the Nobel peace prize this year, Nadia is absolutely the most deserved winner. I will freely admit my bias here: I met her first in the summer of 2015, during a trip to the UK with the <a href="https://www.amarfoundation.org/">AMAR Foundation</a>. On this visit, she met the late Sue Lloyd-Roberts, whose <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33522204">last Newsnight dispatch</a> before she passed away featured Nadia and two other ISIS survivors (all anonymously).</p><p dir="ltr">Yazidism, prior to the 2014 genocide, expelled those who had any sexual contact with non-Yazidis. Baba Sheikh, the religions patriarch, changed this when he <a href="http://tracks.unhcr.org/2015/06/yazidi-women-welcomed-back-to-the-faith/">said </a>that those who had been in ISIS captivity should be honoured as “holy women”. This was hugely significant, removing some of the shame of speaking out about sexual violence and ensuring that ‘returnees’ were supported by their community.</p><p dir="ltr">In London, members of the Yazidi diaspora made long journeys from all over the UK to greet and honour Nadia and the two other girls, bringing small gifts, food and flowers. There was (almost) as much kissing and laugher as there were tears.</p><p dir="ltr">When Nadia talked, activists Ahmed Khuddiha and Mahar Nawaf and I struggled to retain the composure she kept throughout. Dressed entirely in black, she showed me scars still visible on her skin. Over the past four years, colour has slowly crept into her wardrobe and many of these wounds will have healed. But the toll of telling and retelling her story has left its own kind of mark. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Colour has slowly crept into her wardrobe and many of these wounds will have healed. But the toll of telling and retelling her story has left its own kind of mark.</p><p dir="ltr">Speaking out, Nadia explained that first day, is her way of fighting back. For her community, <a href="https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/z4jaye/every-part-of-me-changed-in-their-hands-former-isis-sex-slave-nadia-murad-speaks-out">she has told her story</a> again and again, expecting that assistance will follow. With notable exceptions including Germany’s Baden-Wuttenberg programme, that support remains largely elusive, inadequate, or in some cases, misdirected.</p><p dir="ltr">Inspired by meeting the survivors, I worked with <a href="https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-help-the-yazidi-women-and-girls-kidnapped-by-isis-yazidigirls">Change.org and the brilliant Yazidi activist Rozin Khahil</a>, a 17-year-old living in the UK, and in the middle of her A-levels at the time, to ask Theresa May, then Home Secretary, to help rescue 3,000 others still in captivity.</p><p dir="ltr">From <a href="http://www.yazda.org/">Yazda</a> activists, I received lists of missing people, including phone numbers (some of which still rang), and information about where they were being held. Yazda had shared this information with officials in Kurdistan, Iraq, the US and the UK, but no rescue missions were launched. They gave it to me in desperation, and I joined long email and whatsapp chains where people exchanged pictures of the missing and dead.</p><p dir="ltr">The advocacy and activism of Yazidi people in Iraq, and the diaspora, managed to free hundreds of those captured. In Duhok in late 2015, I visited camps where those freed from captivity lived, along with those displaced by the war. Conditions were appalling. I heard harrowing stories of sexual violence, torture and mass murder.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-24419933_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-24419933_0.jpg" alt="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015" title="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015. Photo: Stefanie Järkel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The only groups I saw providing aid in the camps – a year after the genocide – were the United Nations and the Germans. The UK Foreign Office told me at the time that our government was giving “support to all victims and vulnerable persons, including Yazidis, rather than specifically to Yazidis or any other group”.</p><p dir="ltr">Though the Yazidis had been singled out by ISIS as a minority ethnic group, efforts to help them from the UK did not. The same sectarianism and discrimination that the Yazidis experienced in war, and had experienced in Kurdistan for generations, was also evident in approaches to assist them in the aftermath of genocide.</p><p>The UK gave to a pooled UN humanitarian fund, and said it supported sexual violence awareness projects in the region – but couldn’t give me many details, due to safety issues of local partners.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The same sectarianism and discrimination that the Yazidis experienced in war, and had experienced in Kurdistan for generations, was also evident in approaches to assist them in the aftermath of genocide.</p><p dir="ltr">Many Yazidis believe that money intended for them was siphoned off by the KRG to pay for the costly war their Peshmerga troops were, at the time, still losing. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) then consolidated their position in Sinjar, and took many Yazidis recruits within the ranks of their Syrian affiliate, the YPG. Some of these included ISIS escapees, to<a href="https://metro.co.uk/2017/09/27/escaped-yazidi-sex-slaves-hell-bent-on-revenge-join-squad-fighting-isis-6960988/"> more tabloid fanfare.</a></p><p>Nadia’s resolve and furious eloquence in sharing her story soon turned her into a spokesperson of her Yazidi people. In 2016, at just 23, she was named the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She has been lauded by politicians and supported by celebrities – notably Amal Clooney, who wrote a moving forward to Nadia’s recently-published book, <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/555106/the-last-girl-by-nadia-murad/">The Last Girl</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NM.png" alt="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017" title="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When we met again in 2016, when Nadia spoke at the UK House of Commons at the invitation of MP Brendan O’Hara, she was being showered with gifts.</p><p dir="ltr">As she became more famous, her story and that of the Yazidi genocide in general became easier for me to pitch to editors. But her message, in my mind, began to get lost. The terminology used to describe her – sex slave, ISIS hostage, sexual violence victim – was muddy and de-emphasised her and other survivors’ heroism.</p><p dir="ltr">What was lost was the reason that survivors spoke up: their wider concern for their community. Each of the escapees I met all conveyed this very clearly. They had made a simple calculation, waging that telling their story would help their families. Despite the intense personal toll, they persisted.</p><p dir="ltr">But instead of the stories of heroism in escaping ISIS captivity, the media focus shifted to the forms of sexual torture they had endured. As a feminist and a freelance journalist, newly let loose from the comforts of the newsroom, I found this disempowering in so many ways.</p><p dir="ltr">I had so much information I was expected to hand over to big-name media partners I knew well enough not to trust. Relationships I spent months building, with people I cared about, I was expected to hand over for a pat on the head and a day rate. I knew they wanted to make sexual victimhood horror stories and I felt complicit. If I couldn’t see the impact, what was the point? By that stage, no one could say they ‘didn’t know’.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">If I couldn’t see the impact, what was the point? By that stage, no one could say they ‘didn’t know’.</p><p dir="ltr">A low point was discussing a potential documentary with a male commissioner who insisted that Nadia (still maintaining her anonymity at the time) and the other girls would have to show their faces whilst detailing their experiences of sexual violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Otherwise, he insisted, we’d be denying viewers “anything to look at.” We discussed videos of sexual assaults I had heard that ISIS fighters were sharing. I got home and decided this wasn’t a search I wanted to undertake. I didn’t get commissioned.</p><p dir="ltr">I eventually stepped back, but Nadia kept on going, writing her book, meeting Hillary Clinton when she seemed about to be the first female US president, touring the world advocating on behalf of victims everywhere including meeting Boko Haram survivors. All whilst learning English and German and, earlier this year, getting engaged.</p><p dir="ltr">Like other Yazidi survivors I met, Nadia considers herself lucky. She talked more about what happened to her family and her community, than what happened to herself. She was in captivity for far less time than other girls, she would say. She’s safe and well in Germany; she has many nice things. I wasn’t to worry about her; there were many others.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Her Nobel peace prize deserves to be celebrated, but it cannot make up for the serious lack of international commitment to her cause. The tacit deal she made with us – with me, as with every journalist she spoke to – has been broken by our collective inaction.</p><p dir="ltr">Help to find those missing is still needed. Resettlement programmes must be supported along with adequate aid and meaningful education facilities in camps; medical treatment for the displaced, support for those who want to return to Sinjar; and some kind of dignified identification of remains that still lie <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22452&amp;LangID=E">decaying in open air mass graves</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">By telling her story so bravely, Nadia has done her part – again and again and again. Now it's time for the international community to do theirs. </p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and the media women and power violence against women Sexual violence young feminists Lara Whyte Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:47:03 +0000 Lara Whyte 119974 at https://www.opendemocracy.net