50.50 https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/5971/all en Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Leading feminist thinkers and UN staff, past and present, have articulated six key recommendations for&nbsp;<span style="color: #434343;">António Guterres, the new Secretary-General.</span></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/535193/swearingin.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/swearingin.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Antonio Guterres takes the Oath of Office at UN. Credit: Luiz Rampelotto SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>Last fall, many of us watched closely as the occasion of selecting the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations ushered in unprecedented public demand for the world’s first female — and feminist — leader of the international body, one who would recognize and tackle head on entrenched patriarchal norms, violence and discrimination both within and outside of the U.N. system.</p> <p>A feminist leader at the head of the U.N. is not only essential if we are to achieve the Global Goals and the United Nations’s founding principles of human rights, peace and dialogue, but also critical at a time of increased, and worrying, global trends in nationalism, xenophobia and crackdowns on women’s rights. And while the continual rotation of geographic regions from which the world’s top diplomat has been plucked has led to a system highly effective at ensuring equitable geographic representation of the preceding secretaries-general, no such measure has existed for gender representation.</p> <p>Surely, it was thought, by 2017 it was time for a woman to run the United Nations. Apparently not so —despite unprecedented <a href="http://www.womansg.org/">calls from civil society and governments alike</a>. The quick selection of António Guterres, who took the helm on January 1st, put that movement to rest. Or did it? </p> <p>Initial statements from the new secretary-general seem to imply that these calls have had some impact in bringing gender issues to the surface and, it at least appears at this early stage, in shaping his agenda. At his swearing-in ceremony and ensuing press conference in December, Secretary-General Guterres committed to achieving gender parity in the United Nations’s top posts by the end of his term, and to making this a key priority for his first hundred days. </p> <p>Secretary-General Guterres will no doubt be extremely busy in his first hundred days, focused on a number of pressing security and human rights concerns worldwide. It is encouraging to see him embrace gender parity as part of his agenda, from even before his first day at his post. But a comprehensive women’s rights agenda goes well beyond better numbers and representation at the top. It means — among a host of other things — taking on thorny and highly-politicized issues like violence against women by U.N. peacekeepers, reversing trends among some member states to shut out or clamp down on women’s rights activists and using all possible levers of influence to ensure sufficient investment in the gender equality commitments the U.N. has made to date.</p> <p>To chart a comprehensive path forward on these and other issues, ICRW convened a discussion among leading feminist thinkers in civil society, philanthropy and academia, as well as current and former U.N. staff. Together, the group articulated these <a href="http://www.icrw.org/publications/toward-feminist-united-nations-100-day-agenda-new-secretary-general/">six overarching recommendations</a> for Secretary-General Guterres, if he truly means to lead the United Nations to gender equality:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/ICRW.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/ICRW.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="246" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><strong>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Articulate and begin to implement a feminist agenda for the U.N.</strong> Secretary-General Guterres should set out an ambitious 100-day agenda, leading to a full-fledged women’s rights agenda for the duration of his term.</p><p><strong>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Ensure feminist implementation and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). </strong>The SDGs represent the single largest opportunity to focus concerted effort on achieving gender equality and to mainstream a focus on gender across global, sustainable development efforts, but they lack a meaningful accountability framework. Secretary-General Guterres should express his support for the full implementation of Goal 5 (gender equality) and the mainstreaming of gender throughout all 17 goals.</p><p><strong>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Finance for gender equality</strong>. Currently, the funds committed to gender equality in programming by all U.N. agencies, as well as within internal system operations and processes, are insufficient. Secretary-General Guterres should commit to promoting greater transparency in spending by publishing how much the U.N. spends on gender equality, gender mainstreaming and economic policy, and by working to secure full funding to support system-wide gender mainstreaming and the full funding of U.N. Women.</p><p><strong>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Utilize feminist leadership</strong>. The Secretary-General should increase the number of women and feminists in U.N. leadership positions, and protect women’s rights across the system. The U.N. has a wide set of existing policies to ensure equal access and representation within the U.N. system, but many are not followed. Secretary-General Guterres should ensure policies are clearly articulated to staff and followed by all of those who work in the United Nations.</p><p><strong>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Enable a feminist transformation for U.N. Women and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). </strong>U.N. Women and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) are at once the symbol of all that is possible for feminism at the U.N. and emblematic of all that is wrong with the system as it currently stands. The bodies’ very existence is the result of feminist organizing and they should be a platform for civil society to access&nbsp; United Nations dialogues, petition for their states to act and to work in coalition to meet common goals. Secretary-General Guterres should take concrete steps to reverse the <a href="https://iwhc.org/resources/nothing-about-us-without-us-statement-on-the-commission-on-the-status-of-women-methods-of-work-resolution/">closing space for feminist civil society</a> at the U.N. and empower these platforms to be all they were envisioned to be.</p><p><strong>6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Promote the freedom of information throughout the U.N. system</strong>. Understanding that transparency and integrity are feminist principles, within the first hundred days, announce system-wide reforms to increase transparency within the United Nations to build and reinforce public trust in the U.N. system.</p> <p>The new Secretary-General is off to a good start, but must embrace and sustain efforts on a broader gender equality agenda if meaningful — and long overdue — progress is to be achieved. </p> <p>Without intentional reform, the entire U.N. system risks failing in its mission and reinforcing entrenched inequalities that will destabilize social and economic development, perpetuate ecological imbalance and undermine the fulfillment of universal human rights. The United Nations also risks its own irrelevance and complicity in further exacerbating power asymmetries, chief among them gender inequality. Taking up these actions would constitute a much-needed signal of Mr. Guterres’s intent to carry early promises to full fruition.</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/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ?</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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Gender and the UN Lyric Thompson Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:57:46 +0000 Lyric Thompson 108191 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Through the eyes of a queer Arab man: a review of ‘Guapa’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/through-eyes-of-queer-arab-man-review-of-guapa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="BodyA">The novel Guapa by Saleem Haddad is set in the aftermath of the 2011 revolutions. Reading it during the fall of Aleppo, on the sixth anniversary of the Arab Spring, is a moving experience.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA"><strong>‘Guapa’ by Saleem Haddad was </strong><a href="http://www.europaeditions.co.uk/book/9781609454135/guapa"><strong>published in the UK</strong></a><strong> in October 2016 by <em>Europa Editions </em>and </strong><a href="http://www.otherpress.com/books/guapa/"><strong>in the US</strong></a><strong> in May 2016 by <em>Other Press</em>.</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Haddad_Guapa.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Haddad_Guapa.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>‘The morning begins with shame.’</p> <p class="BodyA">So begins Haddad’s revolutionary novel <em>Guapa</em>, a tour de force that encompasses themes of friendship, queer sexuality, state violence, revolutionary hope and revolutionary despair. I read it as the siege of Aleppo reached its horrifying and bloody nadir. To read a novel that explores the lost hope of the Arab Spring in such an unashamedly personal and political way is quite an extraordinary experience.&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">The novel<em> </em>tells the story of Rasa, a young gay man living in an unnamed Middle Eastern city in the aftermath of 2011’s Arab Spring revolutions. The location is never fully disclosed - sometimes the reader is tempted to think it’s Cairo, sometimes our mind drifts to Damascus. He spends his days working as a translator and interpreter for Western journalists determined to tell <em>the</em> story of the Arab Spring. At night, he and his friends inhabit the queer world of the <em>Guapa </em>nightclub with his secret lover Taymour - a man engaged to be married. The novel opens with Rasa waking up having been discovered in bed with Taymour by his grandmother. Since this crisis, Rasa hasn’t heard from Taymour. Soon after, he learns his best friend the drag artist Majid has been arrested by the authorities. These battles between queer lives, shame (or <em>eib</em>) and the state drive forward the novel’s narrative.</p> <p class="BodyA">The novel is set over the course of a day - with flashbacks to Rasa’s childhood and one extended flashback section to his time studying in the USA before, during and after 9/11. The conceit of placing all the action within one single day helps to encapsulate the personal chaos and the political intensity of both Rasa’s and the country’s moment.</p> <p class="BodyA">One of Haddad’s great achievements is his ability to synthesise the personal revolutionary moment, heartbreak and longing, with the wider political revolutions, heartbreak and longing that is happening on the streets around him. In this, the reader is confronted with the politicisation of queer bodies and lives - particularly in repressive states or in states that are seeing a hardening of repressive attitudes following a hope for liberation.</p> <p class="BodyA">Haddad explores the betrayal of the post-Arab Spring moment for many of the young people who gathered on the streets. The descriptions of the early protests are joyous and imbued with the promise of a new hope:</p> <p class="BodyA"><em>Only a few months ago I was on the television screen. My beaming face, along with thousands of others, all crammed together, waving flags and singing victorious songs. The camera panned across our nameless faces and we cheered back [</em><em>…</em><em>] For that moment we wanted to be nameless because we were one united mass against the bullshit we had thought was inevitable. No more hypocrisy, no more fear, no more staying put and shutting up.</em><em></em></p> <p class="BodyA">In an example of how <em>Guapa</em> blends the macro political landscape and the micro internal landscape, this is followed by a return to Rasa’s own personal battle with his longing for his lover, the man who he fears he now has lost thanks to the state’s repressive attitudes towards sexuality:&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA"><em>I turn off the television and pick up my phone. The dark screen of my mobile glares back at me. Still no word from Taymour. I want to call him, just to hear his voice.</em></p> <p class="BodyA">Both the Arab Spring and Rasa’s love for Taymour are celebrations of hope, love and a belief in a better, freer future. The loss of both love and the revolution are symbolic of a backlash against the progressive values Rasa and his friends fought for.&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">And so the protests go from:</p> <p class="BodyA"><em>I was willing to die for this. We were all willing to die for this. Because this was more important than one single life, more important than ten or fifteen lives. And when the president appeared on television that evening, scolding us like misbehaving children, I was sure of only one thing: that to stay at home would be to return to the fear and denial that had ruled us for a generation.</em>&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">To this:&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA"><em>When I arrived [at the protest] I realised I didn</em><em>’</em><em>t recognise anyone anymore. The beards had grown out, the women were segregated, and the chants had changed. I scanned the faces in the crowd and they looked back at me in a different way. The walls had returned. The trust had gone and I felt my own familiar walls rise once again. Looking around, I began to think: If we did manage to bring down the president, and if we tore down every damn picture and statue from the city, what would we replace him with? The protests had felt like the most authentic thing I had done with my life. Now they felt like a martyrdom operation to help a new generation of dictators come to power.</em></p> <p class="BodyA"><em>Guapa </em>shows how day-to-day life went on after the cameras left Tahrir Square or Pearl Roundabout, and that those involved in the protests are now negotiating a new life under a regime that does not reflect the hopes and freedoms they had imagined. It deals with the individual lives behind the headlines - complex, complicated relationships and friendships that existed within the political upheaval and outside of it too.</p> <p class="BodyA">We see Rasa as trapped between multiple identities that are imposed upon him from outside, as well as his own identity as a queer Arab man. Rasa’s relationship with his mother is a central theme - a relationship that is full of lost hope and betrayal. What’s more, Rasa is preoccupied with the question as to whether his sexuality and its discovery is a betrayal of his grandmother and her code of <em>eib</em> or shame. During his time living in the USA, Rasa is caught between the conflict between his sexuality, his desire to express that, and the pressures on him from students of Arab heritage to respect or conform to cultural expectations - while at the same time he is under suspicion from white students as a Middle Eastern Muslim.&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">One of the most upsetting episodes in the novel is perhaps the epitome of how Haddad brings together the personal and the political. Searching for his friend Majid, Rasa ends up in the police station where he is brutally beaten. Both Rasa and Majid believed that the protests would bring greater freedoms and acceptability of LGBTQ rights. In the thud of a police officer’s fist against Rasa’s cheek, it is brought home to us that queer bodies, as well as marginalised bodies and communities, are often among the first to be violently repressed during a backlash.</p> <p class="BodyA">Saleem Haddad’s debut is a pacey, character-driven novel where revolution, sexuality, friendship, family, history and geo-politics collide. It offers a fresh perspective on the Arab Spring and its aftermath, and tells the marginalised story of queer sexuality in the Middle East - a story that has too often been about exoticising the other. &nbsp;</p><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 Arab Awakening Sian Norris Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:28:43 +0000 Sian Norris 108180 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Guatemala: the democratic challenge https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/patricia-ard-n/guatemala-democratic-challenge <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After the unprecedented mobilizations which led to the overthrow of a corrupt president and vice-president, Guatemala now faces a challenge shared by democracies around the world.<strong><em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/patricia-ard-n/guatemala-el-reto-democr-tico">Español</a></em></strong><strong></strong></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/PA-26578077.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-26578077.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'>A demonstrator wears a Guy Fawkes mask on the back of his head at a protest against corruption outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, Saturday, June 11, 2016. AP Photo/Moises Castillo. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>When we think of democracy, we tend to envision a political and social model in which citizens are able to use representative tracks to channel their aspirations and proposals; in which the state responds to their demands, protects their rights and translates them into concrete policies and programs aimed at increasing both their private and public wellbeing; in which the state ensures that justice benefits everyone equally, and in which the people can participate in the decisions that affect their daily lives.<br /> <br /> In August 2015, Guatemala, a country of approximately 16 million people, mostly women and indigenous people, shuddered at the announcement of its President Otto Pérez Molina’s and its Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s arrest. The two were accused of running a large network of customs-related corruption that left the public coffers empty and prompted a severe financial crisis.</p> <p>The general feeling was one of triumph: by keeping up the pressure in the streets, the Guatemalan people had managed to overthrow of a president and vice president and opened up a new era for democracy in the country. The international media sent the message around that Guatemala was a democratic example for Latin America and the world - much as the Arab Spring.<br /> <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>Guatemala’s demonstrations against corruption – an interpretation&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Since April of 2015, social networks had been coordinating a powerful campaign demanding the vice president’s resignation first, and then the president’s. In Guatemala City’s central square, crowds of up to 70.000 people gathered each week to protest and demand an end to corruption. Guatemala was coming out of its lethargy and apparent indifference, particularly among the middle classes, and standing up against the unbridled corruption in all spheres of government and the metastasis of organized crime in the state structures.</p> <p>Since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, after 36 years of internal armed conflict, the country had not seen nor felt such a massive expression of public feeling in the capital city, the epicenter of political power. The armed conflict, one of the bloodiest and most silenced in Latin America, left a legacy of terror and impunity in the country. And silence continued to be the preferred language of the political and economic elite which maintained its power and privileges on the basis of one of the highest inequality rates in the continent.<br /> <br /> The demonstrations - mainly in Guatemala City, but also in other major cities - featured some elements that were unprecedented in Guatemala’s grassroots movements, particularly on this scale. First, they were called for through social networks, by ordinary people (a housewife outraged by impunity and indifference sent out the first call, so the story goes). Second, they brought together especially, but not exclusively, the urban middle classes. Third, mostly young men and women from a revitalized student movement were in the lead. Four, although leaders of "historical" social organizations took part in the demonstrations, they did so as citizens, without their own flags. Five, the movement broke down the barriers between the middle classes and other sectors of the population with whom the former did not have much contact, notably the indigenous population, which has been traditionally segregated by pervasive racism in the Guatemalan society. And although it was not involved from the outset, the country's powerful business sector eventually came out to demonstrate in the streets demanding the president’s resignation. Given the profound class and ethnic stratification that characterizes Guatemala since its colonial times, the voices from all these sectors chanting together "The people united will never be defeated" was quite surreal.<br /> <br /> However, in many different parts of the country, indigenous peoples, women, and rural workers had been protesting for years, marching and mobilizing for the recognition of their right of access to land, healthcare, and education. But their voices went unheard. At best, successive governments momentarily yielded to the pressure, only to break later on the promises made. During all these years, Guatemala held formal dialogues that revealed, yet again, the unequal distribution of power between the dominant sectors and the vast majority.<br /> <br /> Many, diverse and sometimes motivated by conflicting interests: these were the factors that came into play - and, this time, the voices of discontent were finally heard.<br /> <br /> <strong>Diverse factors </strong></p> <p>In 2006, under pressure from several human rights organizations, the government of Guatemala accepted the establishment of a UN Commission against Impunity in Guatemala - the CICIG. Its mandate was to focus on investigating paradigmatic cases of human rights violations and on strengthening the judiciary in fighting impunity. The commission uncovered major cases of violations during the armed conflict, including genocide, which led to the conviction of General – and former president – Efraín Rios Montt. As a result, the commission was attacked and maligned by conservatives and nationalists on the basis of the principle of non-interference in internal affairs by international organizations. Following the demonstrations and the imprisonment of the former president and vice president, the current head of the CICIG became an icon of the fight against corruption in the country, along with Attorney General Thelma Aldana, who has been consistently and explicitly backed by the CICIG. The CICIG publicly stated its support of the anti-corruption demonstrations throughout, and continues to do so today, as the demonstrations flare up again, albeit with much less belligerence.<br /> <br /> For its part, the US Embassy openly expressed its support for the citizens’ mobilization against corruption and pushed for the resignation of the Vice President and the President. As time passes, the role of the United States has become increasingly clear, and so have the factors that motivated that country’s active involvement: the historical migration flows to the US from the region, and the added embarrassment arising from allegations of the mistreatment of migrant children; the positioning of Pérez Molina at an OAS forum in favour of legalizing drugs; and the need to create a climate of stability in the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) to boost its "Alliance for Prosperity" plan - these are all key factors to ensure a relatively safe climate for US investments in the region, and to help offset the large investments by China and Russia in infrastructures and extractive projects.<br /> <br /> This was happening on the eve of the September 2015 elections in Guatemala. Some sectors, including feminist organizations, asked for the elections to be cancelled, for they considered that minimal democratic conditions for the holding of elections did not, and could not exist until the Electoral Law and the Law of Political Parties were reformed and suitable conditions were created for the participation of broad sectors of the population.</p> <p>But the electorate felt strong and ready to topple a president, and in that spirit turned out to vote for a candidate whose campaign slogan was: "Neither corrupt, nor thief". And this was how Jimmy Morales, a television and radio comedian, became Guatemala's new president.</p><p> <strong>Progress and limitations in the courts</strong></p> <p>In recent months, Guatemalan justice has made some progress on paradigmatic cases in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. The Sepur Zarco case, about the sexual enslavement of indigenous women during the armed conflict, resulted in the conviction of a former army officer and a military commissioner (the only case of its kind tried in a national court); the halting of the La Puya mining project, in which women have played a leading role, and the prosecution of other cases of violations of fundamental rights and crimes against humanity; the prosecution of members of Congress involved in corruption and of current and former Social Security and other state agencies’ officials, and of medium and large companies for tax evasion. This is all quite encouraging for justice in the country, as further revelations keep on surfacing on the depth of the deterioration of the state and on corruption linked to organized crime.</p><p> On the other hand, the threats, the imprisonment and even the murder of human rights defenders and activists, particularly those who defend the land against the extractive model (mining, oil palm, large hydropower plants), continues unabated. Attacks by the most conservative sectors are on the increase, targeting especially indigenous peoples, who are considered guilty of blocking the prevailing regional development model. Criminalizing social protest is a constant, except for the anti-corruption movement.<br /> <br /> What is happening in Guatemala reflects, in fact, the paradoxes of building different power relations in a democratic context. The administration of justice is a long-standing debt to Guatemalan society, but it does not transform its deeply unequal power relations.</p> <p><strong>Deepening the movement</strong></p> <p>While we applaud the progress on justice, we must not and cannot legitimize a state that has been built and structured behind the people’s back and which people feel does not represent them. We must not and cannot underestimate the mobilizations that have managed to break the inertia and that keep on focusing on the struggle for justice, but we must reflect on its limits, and on how these limits are being drawn by external actors and interests that converge at this historic juncture.<br /> <br /> We cannot fail to see also that, despite the important role played by social networks in mobilizing people, they are no substitute for the community-built grassroots movements, which are key to both the political action and the political education of the citizens, and to fueling the debates on how to build an equal society and a planet in balance.</p><p> We cannot fail to appreciate that these mobilizations have not had a unique or vertical leadership but, at the same time, we have not yet been able to build a collective leadership capable of guiding effectively the diverse energies of our peoples.<br /> <br /> In Guatemala and elsewhere in the region and in the world, the challenge of transforming power relations in an egalitarian way in the context of increasing, multifarious &nbsp;violence and constant misinformation, entails, among other things, to think strategically in the long term, while taking care and protecting ourselves at all times; it implies recognizing our differences and building on our coincidences; it means transforming ourselves so as to transform our relationships. Not a minor challenge indeed.</p><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"> Democracy and government </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta 50.50 Guatemala Civil society Democracy and government Ideas latin america Patricia Ardón Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:03:49 +0000 Patricia Ardón 108063 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Indian judiciary are paper tigers https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/indian-judiciary-are-paper-tigers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the final of a three-part series dealing with the law on domestic violence in India, we focus on the failures of a patriarchal judiciary to protect women adequately in cases of domestic violence.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><em>See Part 1 of the series: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/is-indian-law-on-domestic-violence-fit-for-purpose">Is the Indian law on domestic violence fit for purpose?</a>"</em></strong></p><p><strong><em></em></strong><strong><em>And Part 2: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/jail-not-shelter-women-s-refuges-in-india">A jail not a shelter: women's refuges in India.</a>"&nbsp;</em></strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Gujarat-High-Court.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Gujarat-High-Court.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="220" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Gujarat High Court. Only a fraction of domestic violence cases ever get here. Credit: Public Domain. </span></span></span></p><p>I focus on the lower Judiciary because all domestic violence cases start their life here, only a minute fraction of these cases progress to the High Court and an even more minuscule fraction make their way to the Supreme Court. Most women’s experiences of the judiciary is overwhelmingly determined by lower court adjudication which, based on &nbsp;experiences of survivors of gender based violence who I have interacted with, is far from satisfactory and very short of the constitutional ideals of gender equality.</p> <p>The <a href="///C:\Users\RahilaG\Dropbox\Writing\journalism\articles\Open%20democracy\India%20section\(http:\www.lawyerscollective.org\)">Lawyers Collective</a>’s (LC) sixth monitoring and evaluation <a href="http://www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Staying-Alive-Evaluating-Court-Orders.pdf">report</a> reveals gaps in the judiciary’s understanding, knowledge and application of the law. The law recognises the need for emergency response and relief and provides for: ex-parte and interim orders which give survivors protection from violence and threats; residence orders which provide women with somewhere to live or the option to continue to live in the shared-household; and maintenance orders, which give the woman some income to maintain herself and her family whilst the court proceedings are continuing.</p> <p>There is some evidence that the courts are beginning to take account of the comprehensive definition of domestic violence (see part 1) and exercising the considerable powers given to them to enforce women’s fundamental right to live free from violence in the home. However, the vast majority do not question the discriminatory context and norms of gender based violence and subordination of women. Judgements revealed a poor understanding of what constitutes abuse: one judge refused to accept that denying a woman the choice to have a baby in hospital and the pain she suffered as a result of giving birth at home could constitute physical or emotional abuse, hence all remedies sought were denied on the grounds that it was normal to feel pain at the time of delivery!&nbsp; In one case cited in the report, a woman who alleged that her husband had started drinking alcohol and beating and insulting her when intoxicated was met with disbelief, the Judge refused the protection order on the basis that ‘parties had been married for twenty-four years, and no person would start drinking alcohol and harassing his wife after so many years of marriage.’</p> <p>In Ganga’s case, for example, the magistrate was indifferent to Ganga’s need for interim relief. “Ganga” was worn out by the routine delays and an unsympathetic magistrate.&nbsp; Ganga’s application for a residence and protection order was scoffed at by the Judge who warned her that she was standing with her two legs in two different boats and that it was in her interest to keep both legs in one boat. He could not get his head round the idea that she had no choice but to live with her husband and in-laws in the shared household but she needed protection from the violence! Ganga was able to secure a protection order after much delay; had the Judge understood PWDVA’s purpose, he would have granted an interim order quickly to allow Ganga to sustain the will to continue her legal fight. </p> <p>The delay in Ganga’s case combined with the deeply misogynist culture and her economic condition led to a heart-breaking compromise. Ganga gave up all her claims and withdrew her application in its entirety, handed over Tanya, her daughter who was about three to her husband’s family not because her husband or family had contested Tanya’s custody, or made any efforts to have contact with Tanya after she left her father’s home almost two years before. No, the handing over of Tanya was brokered by influential community leaders to end the long running court saga. The responsibility of Tanya would transfer to the paternal family so that Ganga could remarry as, her parents explained to me, no one would marry her with a young child. I use this case study with the judiciary in training and some of them are shocked to realise that delay can have such tragic consequences. I understand delay is a complex systemic issue affected by lack of resources, budgets, number of judicial vacancies etc that the lower judiciary do not have control over. But what they can do by their words and actions is show some empathy and sensitivity and exercise their judicial powers to grant the necessary relief to women like Ganga.</p> <p>The report shows that, in most states, the judiciary is making interim orders in only 15 per cent of the cases. This is very significant because the failure to make interim orders denies women the key remedies of maintenance, protection and the security of housing to continue with the complaint till the final order which may take months or years. Survivors are therefore coerced to either withdraw or agree separation on terms that are far less generous than that provided by the law as in Ganga’s case.</p> <p>This needs to be addressed urgently given the failure of the lower courts to complete proceedings within the 60 days stipulated by the Act. In Gujarat, the average time for domestic violence proceedings is between 1-2 years, but there are cases continuing beyond two, and exceptionally, three years, which defeats the intention of providing a quick remedy to women. </p> <p>The law also provides that Judiciary can grant relief to a woman applying in person or through a service provider without ordering a DIR (Domestic Incident Report) by protection officers which, as discussed in part 1, causes considerable delay. However, there is no data to show the percentage of cases in which Judges are making emergency, ex parte or interim orders without ordering a DIR first.</p> <p>Another important aim of PWDVA was to provide women the option of securing all the immediate relief required in one court (the one window clearance system) rather than having to approach different courts for different reliefs as they had to previously, as discussed in part 1. The increasing popularity of PWDVA compared to other legislations shows that survivors prefer the convenience of securing all remedies in one court. There was a marked unawareness of this amongst the lower judiciary and resistance to its use. However, I feel with increasing familiarity with the law, training and conferences organised by the state and the National Judicial Academy, these technical issues will be resolved; what is much more difficult to change is their patriarchal ideology. </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.lawyerscollective.org/files/Stayin%20Alive%20Third%20M&amp;E%20Report%202009.pdf">third evaluation report</a> by LC revealed that many magistrates did not disagree with the idea that a women sometimes needed to be disciplined by their husbands. &nbsp;“Manilla”, one of the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Peace-and-Equality-Cell-634646713314333/">Peace and Equality Cell</a> cases, who had filed proceedings following a violent assault for the second time agreed to a compromise for the sake of her son’s educational and economic future. She was however extremely embarrassed when the Judge commented, in the presence of her husband, that in future she should not leave home and file court proceedings but tolerate a few slaps here and there to keep the family together. Such off-the-record misogynistic remarks, coupled with many discretionary exercises of power to grant adjournments which delay court proceedings endlessly, force many women into needless compromise. I wholeheartedly agree with the architect of this law, Indira Jaising, when she <a href="https://indialawyers.wordpress.com/tag/domestic-violence/">says</a>: “To see the lack of judicial will to get justice for victims of gender-based violence, as stemming from a deeply entrenched prejudice and misogyny in the justice delivery system, including the courts and their judges, is an exercise demanding a constant struggle. It is so much in front of our noses that we, women and men included, legitimize the presence of sexism in our lives and carry it to the corridors of the court and into the courtrooms and into judgements”.</p> <p>Finally, a word of caution. This analysis is largely based on experiences in Gujarat. Implementation is inconsistent even between two neighbouring states. However, there are some issues that apply to almost all states: insufficient budget allocation; lack of appropriate data collection; lack of suitable coordination and monitoring systems to measure infrastructural support; and training and functioning of the most important stakeholders, namely protection officers, counsellors, service providers and the lower judiciary.</p><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 Prita Jha Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:34:55 +0000 Prita Jha 108087 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A jail, not a shelter: women’s refuges in India https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/jail-not-shelter-women-s-refuges-in-india <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On the tenth anniversary of a major law dealing with domestic violence in India, we explore how the poor quality of refuge provision impacts on women’s choices. (Part 2 of a three-part series.)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><em>See Part 1 of the series: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/is-indian-law-on-domestic-violence-fit-for-purpose">Is the Indian law on domestic violence fit for purpose?</a>"</em></strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_20160908_144604.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_20160908_144604.jpg" 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'>A sign hung at an Indian national conference on women's shelters reads 'Respect, not violence, is our human right.' </span></span></span></p><p>The women’s movement has long recognised that shelters and counselling&nbsp; are crucial to enable women to leave violent relationships and rebuild their shattered self-esteem, to imagine a new life and new self, free from the shackles of patriarchal demands, control and violence.</p> <p>In line with all modern legislative frameworks targeting violence, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) mandates that states must provide shelters, counselling services and legal aid to survivors. Given that <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/179/5/602">research</a>&nbsp; reveals that that&nbsp; over 90 per cent of domestic violence incidents are never reported to any formal agency (such as police, social workers, lawyers) it is imperative that women suffering violence in their homes have a viable alternative that they can easily and voluntarily access to give them space to think about their future options in a warm, nurturing space.&nbsp;</p> <p>The chasm between warm, nurturing, safe spaces and the real spaces inside shelters could not be greater. “Preytna”, one of the cases of the NGO, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Peace-and-Equality-Cell-634646713314333/">Peace and Equality Cell</a>, who ran away to save her life after years of physical violence and psychological warfare by her violent, alcoholic partner was shocked beyond belief by the unhygienic conditions inside the women’s shelter in Ahmedabad. She filed evidence about her horrendous experience of staying in jail-like conditions to as party to a legal challenge to the way shelters were functioning in Gujarat.</p> <p>She would recall years after leaving that the shelter was a punishing and exploitative space where she and other residents felt deeply unsafe and unhappy. She was required to give baths to mentally disabled residents, clean up after those who did not have control of their bowel movements and, worst of all, she had to live in complete isolation, cut off from friends and family. Residents’ &nbsp;valuables, including phones, &nbsp;were taken away from “inmates” as part of admission procedures. The only person she could see was her lawyer and social worker and the only time she left the “ jail” was to attend court hearings.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike the West, where women’s refuges grew out of the feminist movement and women’s&nbsp; autonomy and right to make decisions about their lives, even in conflict with their families or community, are widely accepted, in Indian society this is largely not the case. Girls and women who go against their family or community&nbsp; find themselves abandoned in extremely difficult and vulnerable situations. Shelters were first established to ‘protect’ vulnerable women from prostitution and trafficking rackets under the <a href="http://www.protectionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/India_Acts_1986.pdf">Immoral Traffic and Prevention Act 1956</a>. The language and existing practices of shelters reflect the deeply troubling reality of jail-like conditions in shelters: ‘Superintendents’ are in charge of ‘inmates’ in institutions<strong>&nbsp; </strong>where no one is very concerned about the emotional wellbeing and recovery of survivors – there are no individual case files and certainly no long or short-term planning&nbsp; with survivors about their future options.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_20160908_144609 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IMG_20160908_144609 (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The Nari Gruhs (women’s homes) staff don’t exactly welcome the women with open arms. The moral framework of society penetrates that of shelters, where such women are seen as “immoral” or “ deviants” who transgressed social and community boundaries, thus deserving of the punishment of living inside a shelter. In one case, a 14-year-old girl “Pooja” was sent to the main state shelter in Ahmedabad after she and the man she ran away with were found by the police. Her grandmother explained that she was sent there basically to ensure that she could not run away, given the jail-like security of state shelters, to teach her a lesson so that she would never run away again and, last but by no means least, to coerce Pooja to agree to a&nbsp; marriage quickly so that the family honour could be restored.&nbsp;</p> <p>These conditions drove a number of residents of Odhav Nari Gruh shelter to escape from their prisons. The resulting <a href="http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/a-story-behind-midnight-journey-of-nine-women-to-find-freedom">media coverage</a> was used by Peace and Equality Cell in collaboration with the late fearless socialist and feminist Trupti Shah and activist Afroz Jahan (deceased) to initiate Public Interest Litigation(PIL), a unique tool that was actually developed by the Indian judiciary to ensure that those who were most vulnerable could access the courts directly especially where their fundamental rights to live with dignity were being violated. The court proceedings were initiated in September 2014 and have resulted in the court taking some substantive steps to ameliorate conditions in shelters.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The PIL drew the court’s attention to the inhuman living conditions inside Odhav Nari Gruh, lack of medical facilities, hygiene, freedom of movement, exploitation of residents and absence of rehabilitation plans for them. There was no evidence of any admission or exit procedure or policy. There were serious allegations of misconduct and misuse of residents by the government servants running the institutions. There was also a lack of transparency in the running of the institutions. </p> <p>The High Court eventually delegated a committee of citizens, including a judicial officer and &nbsp;women leaders ofprominent NGOs, to visit eight shelters and report to &nbsp;the court. The report documents the deep unhappiness of residents with the manner in which they were treated by staff and their lack of contact and communication with the external world. The court has appointed a committee to reframe the rules for all state shelters in Gujarat, recognising that the rules framed more than 30 years ago do not fit with the &nbsp;expectations and demands of modern society.</p> <p>It is impossible to present a coherent, uniform picture on operation of shelters at state and national levels, given the acute shortage of data capturing not just the facilities available but the experiences of women residents in state and NGO-run shelters. There are efforts underway by feminist groups to collect data in their respective states in order to bring about the required changes in the running of shelters that do exist and to demand shelters where they don’t. It is clear from the multiplicity of issues and diverse needs of survivors&nbsp; that bringing about institutional change is going to take a very long time indeed. Shelters in Gujarat, are dealing with a&nbsp; heterogeneous group of women, including Bangladeshi trafficked women, women from other states who speak languages not understood by staff, women with physical and mental disabilities, survivors of domestic violence and women who have been &nbsp;abandoned by their families.</p> <p>The quality of counselling services provided is poor; its availability is patchy. LCRWI (Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative) reported that on paper there are a number of service providers providing counselling services; many police stations and courts also have a counsellor, however there is little information on the nature of counselling, whether it is provided by professionals, what are the circumstances and stages at which counselling is provided, the objective of such counselling and whether it is at the request of the woman and respects her wishes.</p> <p>There is a need for a pool of senior qualified counsellors, psychiatrists and mental health experts to assess the mental health needs of survivors to ensure that they are given the appropriate level of support and to prioritise cases where there are risks of serious self-harm or suicide. Particularly, there is a need for counsellors to support survivors and families who have taken on the long-term stress of engaging with the justice system. The biggest obstacle to securing justice is the systemic problem of delay confronting the Indian judicial system.&nbsp;</p> <p>The provision of counselling services as mandated by PWDVA envisions empowering the survivor to choose a future without facing coercion to reconcile with the perpetrators of violence. Certainly my interactions with counsellors revealed that most counsellors and advocates are overwhelmingly committed to reconciliation and saving the marriage and family. Given the lack of infrastructure, economic and housing support&nbsp; and absence of reliable social security schemes for women fleeing violence, it is not surprising that many women “choose” to go for the reconciliation option.</p><p><strong><em>Part three is here: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/indian-judiciary-are-paper-tigers">The Indian judiciary are paper tigers.</a>"</em></strong></p><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 Prita Jha Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:33:49 +0000 Prita Jha 108086 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is the Indian law on domestic violence fit for purpose? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/is-indian-law-on-domestic-violence-fit-for-purpose <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the first of this three part series, we examine the effectiveness of one of the major planks of the domestic violence law in India: the post of Protection Officers.</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/535193/2014-06-13 16.19.42 (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/2014-06-13 16.19.42 (2).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="248" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Group discussions during training on women's rights legislation. Credit: Peace and Equality Cell </span></span></span></p><p>As women’s groups in India celebrate the 10th anniversary of a historic and monumental achievement in India – the coming into force in 2006 of a comprehensive law on domestic violence, the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act (<a href="http://ncw.nic.in/acts/TheProtectionofWomenfromDomesticViolenceAct2005.pdf">PWDVA</a>) – we reflect on the roadblocks encountered in three key areas: functioning of protection officers; provision of shelters and counselling; and the workings of the lower Judiciary. The passing of the Act was the culmination of a long campaign by the women’s movement, starting in the 1990s, demanding a civil law to address the multiple forms of violence affecting women in their homes. The first bill was drawn up by the <a href="http://www.lawyerscollective.org">Lawyers Collective</a> (LC) in 1992 and widely disseminated and discussed in public forums for 13 years. When UPA (United Progressive Alliance) came to power in 2005, it put the bill before the legislature and the PWDVA was passed.</p> <p>PWDVA is a mixture of civil and criminal law aiming to secure a range of remedies quickly for women suffering domestic violence from one court, as opposed to having to run to various different courts and importantly without having to file criminal cases against husbands or other close family members. Women needed civil remedies such as protection orders and residence orders that gave them some scope to renegotiate the extremely unequal and often abusive terms of the relationship, so that they could continue to live either without violence in their homes or live separately with assurance of safety and financial security provided by maintenance orders.</p> <p>PWDVA remains a ground breaking piece of legislation for many reasons: &nbsp;</p> <p>It recognises that domestic violence impacts women on a number of fronts; it<strong> requires </strong>a coordinated multi-agency approach to provide effective remedies to survivors in the long and short-term. &nbsp;An important feature of this law is the way it <strong>imagines </strong>connectivity, communication and involvement of district, state and national level nodal departments: Women and Child (overall implementation); Home department (Police); Social welfare/ Social defence department (responsible for recruitment and training of Protection officers;&nbsp; registration of service providers) and Health (Counselling and provision of medical facilities) and, of course, the judiciary and NGOs to raise awareness, provide training, monitoring and specific services.</p> <p>For the first time, it clearly defines domestic violence in terms that are not limited to physical violence and cruelty but extended to include mental, sexual and economic abuse. Unlike previous laws which were limited to married women, it covers live-in relationships and any women living in a shared household in a domestic relationship, not just wives. “Preytna”, a tribal woman from Madya Pradesh who sought the assistance of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Peace-and-Equality-Cell-634646713314333/">Peace and Equality Cell</a>, an NGO which I run, and who, as per tribal culture, was cohabiting but had no documents, proof or date as to the day she started living with her husband, was able to apply for a protection order successfully under PWDVA.</p> <p>Daughters, daughters-in-law, mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters and sisters-in-law can also use this law to escape domestic violence. Lawyers can now successfully negotiate suitable settlements for daughters facing threats and violence to coerce them to get married. In 18- year-old “Tanya’s” case, violence was used to force Tanya to discontinue her education.&nbsp; Peace and Equality Cell negotiated with Tanya’s family, using the possibility of filing a case under PWDVA as a last resort to stop her family from doing so.</p> <p>The law also creates the post of protection officers who are supposed to be the first port of call for women facing domestic violence: their role is not only to provide guidance and information on the available range of options but importantly to ensure that women can access courts, shelters and counselling services. It is their job to interview survivors of violence, investigate and write a Domestic Incident Report (DIR) to inform the court of the ground realities facing the survivor, details of the violence and the remedies sought. </p> <p>The law allows aggrieved women themselves, protection officers or service providers to file Domestic Violence (DV) cases – since there is a huge variance in the way in which the states are implementing the DV act, we have no idea how many cases are being filed by women themselves or through private advocates, how many by protection officers and service providers. &nbsp;This information is necessary to build an overall picture so that resources, training and capacity-building efforts can be directed towards those who are primarily responsible for helping women.</p> <p>But, thanks to the persistent efforts of LC to assess the functioning of the DV act, we have some amazingly useful data, research and information in various published evaluation reports. I rely chiefly on their reports, and the functioning of the DV act in Gujarat where I am based. The case study of Gujarat (see below) and the evaluation of LC concur on the main issue. There are not sufficient qualified and trained protection officers with the required three years security of tenure to do their multiple tasks efficiently.</p> <p>It was six years after the PWDVA came in to operation that I and my justice team were very perplexed to find that the very purpose of this woman-centric law was being subverted – women were facing a barrage of obstacles in securing access to a protection officer! Take the case of “Pragna” who was seeking protection, residence and maintenance orders both on an interim basis (till court proceedings were finalised) and also as final remedies. She was told by the protection officer in Ahmedabad to come back after three months as they were simply too busy to handle cases within a few days as stipulated under the PWDVA rules. We encouraged women in similar situations to Pragna to approach the newspapers who took up the issue which led eventually to the Gujarat High court ordering the state to appoint more protection officers. </p> <p>The Gujarat High Court concluded that the delay that survivors were experiencing in accessing emergency remedies was due to a shortage of protection officers. Additionally, the working conditions of protection officers left a lot to be desired as their contracts were temporary, insecure and they were not being provided with the basic amenities and facilities to be able to fulfil their multiple obligations under the Act. The High Court judgement stipulated that the Act should not be rendered toothless by starving the system of the required number of protection officers and the lack of facilities to fulfil their <a href="https://indiankanoon.org/doc/181356847">mandate</a>. The state was asked to put its house in order within eight weeks and it was directed to set up systems for monitoring the manpower needs of each district separately to enable effective implementation in the long term. To date there is no report publicly available of any system set up in compliance with this order, but after some delay a number of protection officers were appointed. However, we have no information regarding their caseload or performance.</p> <p>Since the local context varies district by district and state by state, any effective monitoring system has to be set up by the state itself and that requires political will backed up by action and resources. Sadly that appears to be missing as demonstrated by the lack of collection of data. At present, there is no national level data available from all states so we don’t know how many DV cases were filed from 2006 through to 2015. We don’t know in any detailed way, how the key stakeholders are functioning year by year in each state. The NCRB (National Criminal Record Bureau) data captures only criminal cases which include section 498A (cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, dowry death and rape cases. &nbsp;If it were not for the monitoring carried out by the LC we would have to rely purely on anecdotal evidence. There is lack of coordination and monitoring systems at state level demonstrating a clear lack of priority in preventing violence against women.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>See here for the second piece in the series: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/prita-jha/jail-not-shelter-women-s-refuges-in-india">A jail not a shelter: women's refuges in India.</a>"&nbsp;</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Part three is here: "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/indian-judiciary-are-paper-tigers">The Indian judiciary are paper tigers.</a>"</em></strong></p><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 Prita Jha Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:32:30 +0000 Prita Jha 108085 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The first transgender celebrity in China and her sexist dating show https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ting-guo/first-transgender-celebrity-in-china-is-now-hosting-sexist-dating-show <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jin Xing is a progressive icon, and the first person to openly undergo gender reassignment surgery in China. Why is she now hosting a show that helps parents select docile daughters-in-law?</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/535193/Chinese DAting.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Chinese DAting.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="283" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A still from ‘Chinese Dating’ shows host Jin Xing (left) introducing a female guest. Credit: Chinese Dating's Weibo account</span></span></span></p><p>Jin Xing is the first transgender celebrity in China, and a progressive icon for many. She enjoys many titles: an accomplished dancer, founder of a modern dance company, a single mother of three adopted children, a talk show host, a business woman, and a wife of an interracial marriage. Now, she is once again under the spotlight for hosting a new dating show: one that features parents choosing potential daughters-in-law for their sons.</p> <p>The first episode of <em>Chinese Dating </em>aired on Christmas Eve, and caused a storm of outrage on the internet that still continues. In the show, parents sit on chairs that move forward when they approve of one of the single girls on stage. Emphasis is put on youth (under 30), good looks, simple past relationships, a good career, a gentle attitude and family-centered values. And for men, wealth. When a girl with a doctorate degree stepped on the stage, the following caption appeared on screens: “but where’s the good looks that we agreed on?”&nbsp; The chauvinistic comments and the patriarchal, misogynistic standards led Quartz News to publish a video titled: “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/qznews/videos/369126170133460/?pnref=story.unseen-section">A new hit Chinese TV show proves sexist ideas still persist there</a>.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/houswork.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/houswork.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A still from the show 'Chinese Dating' with subtitles by Resonate @resonatevoices.</span></span></span></p><p>Yet Jin Xing has told the audience that she is proud of the show: “I told you, I don’t host average shows”, and presented it as in line with her harsh but fair attitude. (She once told <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/09/jin-xing-transgender-china_n_7034270.html">the Huffington Post</a>: “My words aren’t like massage oil — they’re like acupuncture needles, they go right to the nerve and twist it.”)</p> <p>What has happened to Jin Xing, once an icon of progressive attitudes around gender and sexuality?&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>The military male dancer turned woman celebrity</strong></h3> <p>Jin Xing was born in 1967 in Shenyang in northern China. Her father was a staff officer in the People’s Liberation Army, a highly privileged position in China, and her mother a translator. This background allowed Jin to enjoy many privileges. By age nine, she was admitted to a prestigious troupe and trained in traditional dance and acrobatics. Both are considered strong propaganda tools in China.&nbsp;</p> <p>With her dancing talents, Jin quickly rose to the high ranks in the military. However, her ambitions and visions for life were beyond the confines of the army. In 1988, she received a scholarship from the Asia Society and left for New York to study modern dance and improve her English. In 1994, after returning to China at the age of 26, Jin once again joined the establishment: she was hired by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, it might seem that she had chosen a life of mainstream success in the People’s Republic. However, Jin then felt increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin, and eventually made a decision: to have gender confirmation surgery and become a woman. In 1994, Chinese doctors had almost no experience with such operations, but she still she felt a pull to make the change at home. “I need the chi, I need the earth. I need them to protect me,” she said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/09/jin-xing-transgender-china_n_7034270.html">at the time</a>. “In a Western environment maybe the technology is there, but my soul is too lonely.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The news that Jin was to be the first person to openly undergo gender reassignment surgery became a national sensation in China. This is no easy task in any country, in particular Chinese society where one’s marital status is a dinner table topic and family is at the core of social values. Luckily, her parents were supportive, which she has said became the backbone of her confidence in her new life. However, a lack of oxygen to one of her legs during the 16-hour surgery put her whole career in jeopardy. The doctors were adamant that Jin would have trouble walking again, let alone dancing. They even signed her disability papers. In an interview with <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/meet-oprah-china-who-happens-be-transgender-942750">Hollywood Reporter</a>, Jin described this period as the most difficult of her life: “I almost committed suicide. I wanted to become a woman, but I didn't want to be handicapped. I didn't want to lose my leg… Maybe I needed to sacrifice more to get to what I wanted. It's not that easy to get what you want. If it was so easy, everyone would do it.”</p> <p>Her military experience proved to be useful and her own resilience paid off: after being released from the hospital in 1995, Jin immediately began intense physical therapy. Over the following year she made a full recovery and eventually — and rather miraculously — returned to the stage as a woman.&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/535193/PA-1861404.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-1861404.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jin Xing at rehearsals of her show 'Shanghai Tango'. Credit: ABACA PRESS /PA Images. </span></span></span></p> <p>A recovered Jin went through a re-incarnation. She founded her own modern dance troupe in Shanghai, and her story brought her nationwide fame. She was invited to be a judge on a local version of the show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Her sharp-tongued comments often brought aspiring performers to tears, which earned her the title of Poisonous Tongue and made her an even more beloved TV personality. Her popularity eventually led to her own show, the ‘Jin Xing Show’, a wildly successful programme featuring dance competition and viewed by an estimated 100 million every week.</p> <h3>A single mother who found a loving husband&nbsp;</h3> <p>In addition to her stage success, Jin also became well-known because of her adoption of three children as a single mother. In China adopting children and being a single mother are both rare, and Jin is considered exceptionally courageous.&nbsp;</p> <p>As<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/06/13/talkasia.xing.scirpt/"> Jin herself explained</a>, “I'm full of love. Of course I have love in my dancing, on the stage. But still I have too much love to give. I was deeply appreciative, I love kids. So I have no problem adopting.”&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-1861401.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-1861401.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="377" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jin Xing, 2004. Credit: ABACA PRESS /PA Images</span></span></span>Her family once again stood by her choice. When she adopted her first child, Leo, now 10, her mother was there to help look after him. And the family was soon joined by Vivian and Julian, now 8 and 7, respectively. In an interview on CNN, Jin said: “Children immediately centered me, grounded me. Wham! In one decade I became very family-oriented. No more wild party girl.”&nbsp;</p> <p>And then on a long transcontinental flight, she met a German businessman in the seat next to her in first class who is reported to have immediately fell for her, and later accepted both the fact that she was once a man, and that she was a single mother of three children. Upon recalling their encounter, Heinz-Gerd Oidtmann, who is now her husband, told the media that he was “swept away by the fantasy that was Jin Xing.” Although he was stunned by her “big package of the past”, after spending some time on his own, he went back to her and made ready to spend their lives together.</p> <p>What adds more flavour to this apparently fairytale story, is how open and confident Jin appears to be about her past and the nature of her parenthood, sexuality, gender, and family. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/06/13/talkasia.xing.scirpt/">As she once told CNN</a>, when her oldest son asked her “Who is this boy?” while looking at her old photo album, she replied, “That's mommy before”. And her son remarked, “Oh mommy so cute”. “Yes, mommy was a cute boy.” Jin followed the story with the comment:</p> <p>“I think it's very natural, I tell him the family how different...each family is different; the construction of family idea and parenthood is different.”</p> <h3><strong>The new dating show: “</strong><strong>I’m in charge of a good match for my son”</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p>Why has Jin now become the host of <em>Chinese Dating</em>? And how has modern Chinese society produced a show whose very <a href="https://qz.com/874908/the-new-hit-chinese-dating-show-lets-parents-pick-partners-for-their-kids/">first episode</a> included parents grilling the single girls with questions like “Can you do housework?” and the brutal rejection of a 40-year-old divorcee and single mom?</p> <p><em>Chinese Dating</em> has been slammed by critics both <a href="http://www.sixthtone.com/news/bachelorettes-vie-parental-approval-new-dating-show">within</a> and <a href="https://www.asia-wife.net/2016/12/family-involvement-in-dating-show-stirs-people/">beyond China</a> as a revival of outdated arranged marriages. Chinese netizens also expressed mixed reactions on social media, with some using the word “disgusting”, while others simply enjoyed the entertainment.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Cold womb.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Cold womb.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A still from the show 'Chinese Dating' with subtitles by Resonate @resonatevoices.</span></span></span></p><p>The show has been referenced in an ongoing discussion in China about the “Giant Infant” culture described by popular psychologist <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Giant-Baby-Nation-Chinese/dp/7213076825">Wu Zhihong in his recent book <em>The Giant Baby Nation</em></a>. In the book, Zhihong attributes the psychological and social problems in contemporary China to collectivism and blind filial piety. &nbsp;In interviews he has also highlighted the problem in the government’s decades-long experiment: the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ting-guo/end-of-china-s-one-child-policy-right-to-reproduce-and-right-to-live-well">one-child policy</a>. According to Wu, for over three decades, such nation-wide population control, the restriction of only allowing one child in a family, has led to cosseting and too much intervention by the family into the child’s adult life, including around marriage, career, and other major life choices. Subsequently, the single child often appears to be overly self-centred and dependent on family support, and often suffers from paranoia and insecurity. We might think of the male participant on&nbsp;<em>Chinese Dating</em>, aged 23, who rapped that, “I’m a childish guy, I enjoy Disneyland, I lacked calcium as a kid and I didn't get enough love after I grew up.”</p> <p>Sun Peidong, sociologist and author of <a href="http://ceas.yale.edu/events/son-also-risesstratification-personal-reading-among-educated-youth-during-cultural-revolution"><em>Who Will Marry My Daughter?</em> <em>Shanghai Parental Matchmaking Corner in the People’s Square of Shanghai</em> (2012)</a>&nbsp;insightfully describes the curious phenomenon that has been happening for over a decade, where hundreds of anxious parents gather in a public space—a large park in central Shanghai—holding the profiles of their kids to find marriage partners for them. The chances of finding a good match at the park itself are low, but the parents – who grew up in the Mao era (many of them were sent down to the countryside) and missed many life opportunities themselves&nbsp; –&nbsp; use the opportunity to share their worries with others who are in the same situation through regular meetings and thus get a special kind of social support. Sun points out the deeper social and political reasons underlying the over-involvement and intervention by parents into their children’s personal lives. People born in the 1950s share a collective anxiety as they once experienced great social instability. Therefore, Sun says, they hate the uncertainty of the future and are afraid that their children would pick the wrong person to marry.</p> <p>Curiously enough, <em>People’s Daily</em>, the official mouthpiece of the government, <a href="http://media.people.com.cn/n1/2016/1230/c40606-28987992.html">published an article defending the show</a>, in which the producer explained that their purpose was simply to facilitate good matches and to improve inter-generational communications. Jin Xing also told the reporter that she agrees strongly with the matchmaking mentality, because “marriage is different from dating, it concerns two families”, and that she has seen enough marriages of “successful elites” around her broken due to the fact that they were “unclear about what marriage is”. She even stressed that “having equal social and economic status is crucial for a marriage, for marriage is not a <a href="http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/zt/bps/t944138.htm">Poverty Reduction Programme</a>”.</p> <p>This attitude might go some way to explain why Jin Xing, someone who has been considered a progressive figure of family and gender in China and abroad, would agree to host a show that brands itself with conservative and reactionary gender and family values.</p> <p>Jin’s courage and resilience are certainly admirable, but she is also privileged in many ways. Born into a family of high-ranking military officials, she was part of the establishment, while at the same time someone who saw opportunity and was able to grasp it, with an outstanding ability to adapt to new and ever-changing environments. When she realised that she could no longer be a top dancer, she transformed and reinvented herself as a TV celebrity and a businesswoman. Together with her husband, she now overseas a transnational corporation, the Purple Star Culture and Communication. Her surgery and the public’s reaction to it were, by all accounts, extremely painful, but it also occurred at a time when China, in particular the entertainment industry and the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai where Jin has been residing since returning from the US, were becoming increasingly open-minded and hungry for change. The society at large might not have accepted her, but the social circle that she is part of has.</p> <p>Therefore, it might be useful to examine how progressive Jin’s story really is. She indeed represents many marginalised voices and disfranchised groups, but she herself has enjoyed many privileges by upbringing and by career. Hence, her success and the glamourised image of a transgender celebrity, could not and is not intended to speak for those who struggle with their gender identity but cannot afford the surgery or being open about it, or the single mothers who struggle to make ends meet and to bring up kids on their own, or young kids with artistic talents but without the necessary access to resources or opportunities.</p> <p>It is understandable that people tend to speak about issues from their own experience and backgrounds, just as political activists do not always value the same reforms, nor always agree on the nature of the problems at hand. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/31/gender-pay-feminism-working-class">A recent study</a> from the UK has shown how feminism has failed working-class women in Britain by focusing too much on gender equality in high-profile roles. The break the glass ceiling approach that simply promotes women in the boardroom has not been as successful in changing family-friendly working culture or providing opportunities for other women to advance. Gender still has a strong independent impact on women's earnings prospects – but class, education and occupational backgrounds are stronger determinants of a woman's progression and earnings prospects.</p> <p>It takes time and effort for any changes concerning social issues to occur, and we tend to focus on, and even glorify and glamourize, key figures who are seen as leading progressive movements or representing a recognised agenda. Meanwhile, the more ordinary stories and struggles are often ignored. The problem comes, as with Jin Xing today in China, when those figures become part of the forces that neglect grassroot-level issues, helping to prevent real change from happening.</p><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 Ting Guo Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:54:06 +0000 Ting Guo 108083 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Job: openDemocracy 50.50 Editor https://www.opendemocracy.net/opendemocracy/opendemocracy-5050-editor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We are looking for an experienced editor with the vision, drive and commitment to take openDemocracy 50.50's critical perspectives on gender, social justice and pluralism forward.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Salary: £30k per annum, hours/days per week negotiable.</p> <p>Duration: One-year contract, renewable. </p> <p>Location: Flexible</p> <p>Application deadline: noon, February 3rd 2017 with interviews the week commencing February 20th 2017</p> <p>Start date: April 3 2017</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/560130/5050_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Some rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/560130/5050_0.png" alt="" title="Some rights reserved." width="851" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong>openDemocracy 50.50 presents authoritative critical perspectives on social justice, gender and pluralism. It provides a platform for debate and analysis, embracing a plurality of voices from scholars to activists and citizens. </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>We are seeking a talented and creative editor who will be responsible for:</p> <p><strong>Editorial and publishing</strong></p> <ul><li>- Commissioning, editing, writing and publishing a minimum of three online articles per week and other content relating to the 50.50 project</li><li>- Working with other openDemocracy editors to grow the reach and impact of the site</li></ul> <p><strong><strong>Fundraising and Finance</strong></strong></p> <ul><li>- Raising funds to ensure the operation and sustainability of 50.50</li><li>- Managing funding relationships including communications and reporting responsibilities, and being responsible for complying with funders' contract terms</li><li>- Ensuring a sustainable operation by scaling costs to revenue and reporting through the Head of Operations &amp; Finance to the Board on 50.50 budgets and finance</li></ul> <p><strong>Communication</strong></p> <ul><li>- Managing communications with authors, regular contributors and partners</li><li>- Nurturing and maintaining external relationships and partnerships for both openDemocracy and the 50.50 project</li><li>- Promoting 50.50 content via social media and other distributed channels, and engaging in other promotional and outreach work to expand the reach of the project</li></ul> <p>For more details, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/files/5050%20Lead%20Editor%20JD%20Final.pdf">click here</a>&nbsp;to see job description and person specification.</p><p><strong><span>How to apply</span></strong></p> <p>Candidates must be able to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and experience:&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Essential</strong></p> <ul><li>- Ability to write clearly and accurately in English</li><li>- Proven track record in editing, commissioning articles and / or reports to deadlines</li><li>- Wide knowledge of and commitment to gendered analysis of current affairs</li><li>- An international and pluralist perspective</li><li>- Strong scheduling, forward planning and interpersonal communication skills</li><li>- Sound editorial judgement</li><li>- Ability to work independently with drive, vision and discipline to take the 50.50 site forward</li></ul><p><span><strong>Desirable</strong></span></p><ul><li>- Fundraising experience</li><li>- Strong networking skills</li><li>- Experience of working across different digital media formats</li><li>- Languages</li></ul><p> To apply please <a href="https://opendemocracy60862.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk0mfbj">click here</a> to submit your CV and a covering letter outlining how you fit the criteria for the role, including details of two referees. </p> <p><strong>Application deadline</strong>: noon, February 3rd 2017 with interviews the week commencing February 20th 2017</p> <p>openDemocracy welcomes diversity. In particular, we encourage people from groups who tend to be underrepresented in the media sector to apply.</p><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 Opportunities at openDemocracy openDemocracy Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:03:51 +0000 openDemocracy 108072 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Seeking justice for rape by the state in Bastar, India https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/raksha-kumar/seeking-justice-for-rape-by-state-in-bastar-indiai <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For tribal women living in the Bastar region of central India, sexual abuse at the hands of security forces has become routine. The state government has now been challenged to take responsibility.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13466340_10153448740022271_161734809847857776_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13466340_10153448740022271_161734809847857776_n.jpg" 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'>People gather in a village in Bastar to discuss atrocities by security forces. Credit: Raksha Kumar</span></span></span></p><p class="BodyA">I work as a reporter in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh is now home to the most militarized zone in India, Bastar, and has been mired in conflict for around three decades. The reason? The government wants to start work on one of the largest iron ore mines in India, among other industrial activity. The Maoists, a left-wing guerrilla movement that has operated in the country for more than fifty decades, are opposing mineral extraction in the region, as well as other forms of corporate industrialisation. The troops have been positioned in the state to contain the Maoist violence.&nbsp; However, as is the wont of militarised societies, the security forces are running havoc in the region. They are accused of extra judicial killings, fake arrests, pillage and sexual violence.&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">On the 7th of January, the National Human Rights Commission, a national statutory body tasked with upholding human rights, said that sixteen women were subjected to rape, sexual and physical assault by security forces in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh in October 2015. The onus is on the state government to prove the security forces did not overstep their duties. This is a step in the right direction, as rape in Bastar occurs so frequently that it is often ignored by the authorities, as well as the national media. &nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">For example, between February and May 2016, from the district of Kanker, the stories of five rapes in four villages in the Antagarh region of Bastar reached me through word of mouth. Local journalists and non-profit organisations claimed to be ignorant of the situation. I decided to do a tour of the four villages - Bade Pinjodi, Pusagaon, Hurra Pinjodi and Marma - on a motorbike and by foot.</p> <p class="BodyA">There are no roads that lead to these forest villages. Some of the houses are so scattered that each hill in the village has only one house. While most of the villagers knew of the stories, no one was willing to give any details. The fear of the paramilitary camps near their village was too strong. With polite offers of water and tea, they would change the subject. “This is a recent phenomenon. Villagers would never go mum earlier,” said Sushil Sharma, editor of Bastar Bandhu, a newspaper published from Kanker. “People don't speak anymore as they know that they will have to face the brunt of the situation later.” Finally, in a weak moment, one man from Bade Pinjodi said woefully, “no woman is raped in this village. Not even my wife.”&nbsp;</p><p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13510757_10153448780642271_5185413472859360223_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13510757_10153448780642271_5185413472859360223_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="530" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An old lady makes vessels out of leaves, used widely in the region of Bastar. Credit: Raksha Kumar</span></span></span></p> <h3><strong>A culture of silence and impunity</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p>A long history has led to the present culture of silence.</p> <p class="BodyA">One of the worst recent instances was in October, 2015. While on patrol, paramilitary forces reached Kunna, a sparsely-populated village in South Bastar, and forced themselves into the houses of the villagers. They began looting chicken, rice and other grains. However, they didn't stop at that. They demanded that the women of the village sleep with them, mockingly asking if the women wanted to conceive. They squeezed the breasts of several women to see if they were lactating or not.</p> <p class="BodyA">Such physical torture and sexual violence is common in Bastar. Justice for these women is a distant dream as state structures break down in this conflict-ridden region. The difficult terrain, scattered with remote villages, make it almost impossible for news of such exploitation to be made known soon enough.&nbsp; After three decades of conflict, it was only a year ago that the first police complaint was filed against some of the men in the paramilitary forces. Women from Bijapur district of the state, including a teenage girl, had filed the complaint against security forces.</p> <p class="Default">In January 2015, thirteen instances of gang rape were reported by the women of Bellamnendra village in Bijapur district. A report by an independent collective, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, on the Bellamnendra rapes reads:&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">“All rapes were gang rapes with many of the rapes happening simultaneously. At least four to five groups of men at different homes committed rapes. One would keep watch, some would pin down the woman and another would rape her. Some rapes took place when the women pleaded with the forces not to take their poultry and rations. Older women tried to help women who had been raped, sometimes even confronting the security forces, but even these women were targeted. In one case a mother and her daughter were raped in the same room.”&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"> Given the brutality of this crime and the pressure by civil society groups, FIRs (First Information Reports) were filed in these cases against ‘unknown armed personnel’. However, the investigations have not progressed much since.</p> <p class="Default">It is very difficult to ascertain the total number of women who have been sexually violated in Bastar for various reasons: police do not generally file FIRs, victims rarely report such crimes owing to taboos, and many villages are not easily accessible. Most women are routinely disrobed, molested, beaten and subjected to verbal abuse. They don't see the value in trying to lodge such complaints. Civil society takes notice and tries to protest only if rape is heinous. “Sadly, for people outside to take rape in Bastar seriously, it needs to be inhuman. Brutal,” said tribal leader Soni Sori. &nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">A report by, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), which conducted <a href="https://wssnet.org/2016/04/20/rampant-looting-and-sexual-violence-by-security-forces-in-villages-in-bijapur-chhattisgarh/">an independent fact finding mission</a> in the region, said:&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">“Sexual Violence in Chhattisgarh is reaching alarming levels. The combing operations of the security forces inevitably involve large scale sexual violence against adivasi (tribal) women. The police on the other hand refuse to file even an FIR, thus all the energy of women is directed into getting their complaints heard. The purpose of sexual violence then is not just to humiliate, but also display physical control over the body of the subjugated by male security forces.”&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Seeking justice</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p class="BodyA">The majority of those living in Bastar are tribal peoples. Seventy years ago, on the 15th of August, India ceased to be a British colony. However, many have questioned if all the citizens of this vast and diverse democracy have enjoyed the fruits of independence. Indigenous people of India certainly cannot claim to have benefited a lot from the freedom. Minerals, forests and land that they inhabit are being taken away for industrial purposes without their consent. In turn, they are subjected to physical abuse and torture.</p> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13528770_10153448737257271_8297056109310391843_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/13528770_10153448737257271_8297056109310391843_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="819" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A tribal woman in Bastar who spoke about large-scale sexual atrocity by the security forces in her village, Dornapal. Credit: Raksha Kumar</span></span></span></p><p class="BodyA">Following the rape and murder of 23-year-old Madam Hidme by security forces in July last year, the people of Bastar decided to draw attention to this point. About a hundred tribals and non-tribal people walked 180 kilometres to Gompad, Hidme’s village, and hoisted India’s national flag six days later on Indian Independence day.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">In May last year, about three dozen women made the treacherous journey on foot, in tractors and by bus from their village in Korcholi to the district headquarters of Bijapur to file complaints. But the police refused.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">One of these women – we will call her ‘Mangli’ – said she was raped by three security men [when? Where?]. She was initially reluctant to file a complaint. “I am scared for my husband’s life. If I file a complaint, they might come and attack us,” she said. Later however, egged on by activists and other villagers, she decided to approach the Superintendent of Police of Bijapur to narrate the traumatic incident. The officer asked her if she had any proof that supports her claim. He made her wait for three hours in the police station before he returned to say that he could not file the complaint.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Section 154 of the Indian criminal law makes it mandatory for a police officer to file a First Information Report upon receipt of any information of a cognizable offence such as rape. However the police told many villagers that they would need to conduct preliminary investigation before filing a report. “This is also in violation of the law as no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such cases,” said Shalini Gera, a human rights lawyer practising in the region. “By refusing to file an FIR, the police can be held culpable,” she added.</p> <p class="Default">However, those that raise pertinent questions about the police usually also find themselves under threat. For example, journalist Malini Subramanium, activist Bela Bhatia and lawyers Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal have all been forced to leave the region.&nbsp;</p> <p class="BodyA">Despite the damage it has done, the militarization of Bastar is only intensifying. In the past three years, paramilitary forces have almost doubled their presence in southern part of Bastar. There is now one armed personnel for every 16 civilians. As Somi Hidme, a 34-year-old resident of Sukhma district (no relation to Madam Hidme) asked: “They rape our women and walk away to receive medals from the government for bravery. Why is this irony lost on everybody?” &nbsp;</p><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 Raksha Kumar Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:40:10 +0000 Raksha Kumar 108066 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Uganda’s unsung heroes of refugee protection https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/georgia-cole/uganda-s-unsung-heroes-of-refugee-protection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As responses to refugees and asylum-seekers become a multi-million dollar endeavour globally, everyday acts of kindness continue to keep refugees alive and maintain their dignity, even in the face of death.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pppppp.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kampala. Photo: author"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/pppppp.jpg" alt="Kampala. Photo: author" title="Kampala. Photo: author" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kampala. Photo: author</span></span></span>T</strong>wice a week, the flight tasked with carrying bodies back to Eritrea departs from Uganda’s Entebbe airport. With tens of thousands of Eritreans in the country’s capital, many in relatively precarious positions, this service is in demand. Six weeks ago, it took a young man, most likely killed in a motorbike accident in the city’s busy streets. The following Thursday, it carried the body of another young Eritrean: Kifilit Yemane*.</span></p> <p>Nobody knows exactly why Kifilit, a healthy 34 year old, died; there was no money available for a post-mortem. He’d complained of feeling ill early in the day and went to rest. Somebody brought him some hot milk which he vomited up, and then he lay down and died. &nbsp;</p> <p>A week before this, I had entered a small sandal shop in Kampala to interview him. His story of why he found his way to Kampala was in <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/eritreans-flee-conscription-and-poverty-adding-to-the-migrant-crisis-in-europe-1445391364">no way exceptional</a>. After defying an order from his manager at the construction firm he had worked at in Eritrea, life had become increasingly hard for him. Recast as a political dissident, he spoke of the security forces slowly honing in. Fearing indefinite imprisonment at best, Kifilit had fled the country.</p> <p>Leaving Eritrea, however, had never been his wish. He had fought in the 1998-2000 <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36515503">border conflict</a> against Ethiopia, and served in national service with no thoughts of exiting the country for over a decade. His decision to flee arose from what he considered a direct threat to his life, he stressed, not the understandable yearnings for a life beyond the shackles of <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2014/03/national-service-eritrea">indefinite national service</a>. </p> <p>Afraid of what lay in Libya and the Mediterranean, he had travelled to Uganda. This was a land that welcomed refugees, he had been told, allowing them to live, work and move freely. The <a href="http://blogs.worldbank.org/nasikiliza/engendering-hope-ugandas-progressive-policies-on-refugee-management">country’s openness towards refugees</a>, particularly relative to its regional neighbours, has been widely noted. The <a href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Office%20of%20the%20Prime%20Minister%20-%20Statement%20following%20the%20verification%20process%20in%20some%20of%20the%20settlements%20-%2013.12.2016.pdf">latest statistics</a> from the Ugandan Government suggest the country may host 865,000 refugees. With a total population of around 40 million, that constitutes over 13 times more refugees per capita than the <a href="http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Refugee-support/Refugee-facts-and-figures">UK</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>What has been less widely noted, however, is that the government’s much lauded openness appears to come with a price tag for some, leaving the protection of these refugees largely a community affair.</p> <p><strong>Cash-for-status</strong></p> <p>It was only after three homeless months that Kifilit was informed about where and how he could apply for refugee status in Uganda. He had secured lodgings in exchange for helping at a local bar, and the neighbour there took the time to explain to him how the system worked. </p> <p>Several months later, his application was rejected. Unable to source the documents from Eritrea that evidenced crucial parts of his claim, the Ugandan authorities deemed his case ‘not acceptable’. As one staff member at the Ugandan government’s refugee directorate flatly told me, ‘they don’t have reasons for leaving their country’, so how can they expect refugee status? This was used to explain the low recognition rates for Eritreans in Uganda, which the same individual mused could not exceed 10%. Kifilit had appealed against this decision, but was not optimistic.</p> <p>The only other route to refugee status, acknowledged by multiple staff working at the refugee directorate, is a well-timed payment to the right members of staff. $700 – the cheapest going rate for a registered acceptance letter and refugee I.D. card – was, however, well beyond his means. </p> <p>While many of those working with refugees had treated him with respect, he made clear to stress, the business minds of a few have turned the acquisition of a refugee ID card in to a racket for Eritreans. From registering for asylum, through securing an appointment to discuss their claims, to acquiring the status itself, all the Eritreans I spoke to in Uganda had been asked to part with cash. This is in offices peppered with signs reading ‘refugees and asylum seekers are NOT supposed to pay for any service.’ When I called the ‘corruption hotline’ they recommend affected refugees to ring, the phone repeatedly went unanswered.&nbsp; </p> <p>Without family members outside of Eritrea to send him remittances, refugee status – and a secure, legal route to employment &nbsp;– &nbsp;were largely foreclosed to Kifilit. It was nonetheless better to ‘live with hope’, he suggested, than to get another inevitable rejection letter too soon. </p> <p><strong>Communities as ‘the first and last providers of protection’</strong></p> <p>With Uganda’s formal systems failing him, Kifilit had spent his first three years in Kampala surviving off donations from fellow asylum seekers and Ugandans. The first few months had been particularly hard. With no friends or relatives already in the city, and having exhausted his funds moving to Uganda overland from Asmara, he found himself sleeping rough. After three days without food, a Ugandan woman had knowingly placed a bag next to him containing a fresh chapatti.</p> <p>Later on, after some brief periods of casual labour, he had found a job at the shoe shop where we met. His salary there was modest: his employees did not need additional labour, but had seen him struggle to find an income. They had also given him free lodgings in the workshop behind the shop. </p> <p>Kifilit stressed his relief at having finally found some reliable work. Though he had been desperate to begin ‘a real life’, complete with education, a family and a home that was more than a friend’s couch, he was aware that having found any employment without the legal right to work was a blessing. </p> <p>This is especially so in a city like Kampala, where formal unemployment rates – especially of the youth – are high. In 2016, the <a href="http://www.ubos.org/onlinefiles/uploads/ubos/ULFS/ULFS%202015%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf">Ugandan Government estimated</a> that 1 in 6 under 30s were unemployed. Of the working age population with a job, 85% are in informal employment. When a distraught Ugandan man with an amputation above the right elbow interrupted our interview to recount his struggle to pay his daughter’s hospital fees, Kifilit and my Eritrean translator quickly dug around for some shillings. I commented that I was not confident that people would have responded that way at home in Britain. Everybody should be helped to survive today, they said, as then tomorrow, together, you can start the struggle again.</p> <p>When he suddenly died the next day, a few hours after leaving the government’s refugee directorate where he had been helping another Eritrean to process their claim, he left behind no family, no money and no way of confirming his Eritrean citizenship. The assurances of those he had befriended in Kampala, or knew from back in Asmara, were not the documents needed to ensure his legal repatriation to Eritrea. For that, other friends – those with no pressing protection needs of their own – approached the Embassy of his government: a government seen by him as a one-man-show towards which he could only express immense disappointment and anger. </p> <p>Beyond this, $5000 had to be found to cover the costs of his return to Eritrea for burial. While his friends called contacts off his retrieved mobile phone to ask if anyone could donate, his local Church held a collection and wealthy Eritreans anonymously came forward with more sizeable contributions. Even with Christmas approaching, and Eritreans regularly called upon by family members and friends to send through money, it took under a week for this sum to be found. </p> <p>With formal systems of protection increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible, every part of Kifilit’s experience in Uganda was shaped by friends, strangers and local communities who went out of their way to assist and care for him. Whenever he could, he too had tried to reciprocate. While this is clearly not an experience shared by all, with anti-immigration rhetoric periodically surfacing in Ugandan politics, Kifilit’s message had much wider applicability. As responses to refugees and asylum-seekers often become multi-million dollar endeavours, everyday acts of kindness keep thousands alive and guard their dignity, even in the face of death. </p> <p>Towards the end of our interview, I asked Kifilit what would be the best solution to his situation. While many answered that resettlement would be only feasible option for them right now, he instantly replied that if the situation changed, he would return to Eritrea tomorrow. One week later, on a plane from Entebbe and in circumstances not of his choosing, he did. This was due to the unrequited acts of a diverse community in Uganda who clearly believed that charity must start wherever people are forced to make home. In death just as in life, they kept his dreams alive. </p> <p><em>* Kifilit’s name has not been changed. He specified that he did not wish for anonymity and hoped that he might, one day, find his story being useful on the internet. &nbsp;</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/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/selam-kidane/eritrea-generation-in-flight">Eritrea, a generation in flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lily-jay/deaths-deportations-and-arrests-violence-against-migrants-in-morocco">Deaths, deportations and arrests: violence against migrants in Morocco</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fernando-betancor/mourning-hymn-of-republic">Mourning hymn of the Republic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/happy-kinyili/to-meet-nothing-that-wants-you-violence-against-migrants">&quot;To meet nothing that wants you&quot;: violence against migrants </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/leila-ullrich/doing-gender-justice-in-northern-uganda">Doing gender justice in northern Uganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lucy-hovil/israel-refugees-not-welcome">Israel: refugees not welcome </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"> Uganda </div> <div class="field-item even"> Eritrea </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 Eritrea Uganda africa 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Georgia Cole Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:05:51 +0000 Georgia Cole 108045 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ethiopian migrant domestic workers who give birth to children in Lebanon are caught in a trap between the struggle to bring up a child with no legal status, and the difficulty of exiting the country.</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/541754/lll.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/lll.jpg" alt="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons" title="Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beirut. Photo: Wikicommons</span></span></span>Rubka* is an Ethiopian migrant worker in Lebanon who is a live-in domestic worker for Tete Mona, an elderly Lebanese woman. Rubka also manages a ‘garderie’ for Tete Mona&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;an unregistered daycare where around 7 Ethiopian migrant women pay Tete Mona USD100 a month for daycare for their children aged between 1 and 6 years. The mothers all live and work locally, and drop their children off in the morning and pick them up as soon as they have finished work. The children are fed their lunch, and spend most of the day watching children’s TV and/or playing with each other in the small space.</span></p><p>It is primarily Rubka who looks after all the children – so she does domestic work and childcare; but this arrangement works for her too, as it allows her to also look after her three-year old son, Yafit (which she would not have been able to do in a ‘regular’ contract job as a domestic worker). Recent changes to laws affecting migrant workers in Lebanon combine racial and gender biases to put women like Rubka and their children in extremely precarious positions.&nbsp;</p><p>Yafit’s father is a Syrian man with whom Rubka had a relationship. Although this man is named as the father on the birth certificate, he was married with other children and soon after Yafit’s birth, he left the country. Yafit is a lively boy whose light-skin and long curly hair make him look Arab, rather than Ethiopian. This resulted in a harrowing encounter with the police. Yafit explains, ‘Once when I was with him on the street, when he was very young, the police stopped me and asked ‘Whose baby is this?’. “He’s mine.” “No, he’s not.” We started to argue. “Where is the paper to prove that you’re the mother?” “What is this paper that you want me to bring?” “So you’re roaming around without papers with someone else’s child? How do we know that you’ve not stolen him?”<em>’</em></p><p>It was only when the police phoned Rubka’s employer who vouched for her that she and Yafit were released. After that, she struggled for two years to get a copy of his birth certificate from the hospital, and to register his birth. While she was able to obtain a copy of his birth certificate, she had difficulties registering his birth, because she was asked for a marriage certificate, which she did not have. Without this registration, and given her irregular status, she understands that she will not be able to get Yafit into school, even with Tete Mona’s support.</p><p>Rubka therefore decided to try to take Yafit and return to Ethiopia; the only course of action she felt open to her was to pay a police a bribe of USD250 to be taken into detention, then deported. She wanted to take Yafit with her to prison, as she feared being separated from him and being deported without him, but she was unsure of whether she would be allowed to, and whether he would be able to survive the gruelling conditions of the detention centre.</p><p>Two weeks later, I heard that Rubka was in the detention centre. Yafit was staying with Tete Mona, who now had another Ethiopian migrant domestic worker (MDW) working for her and the daycare. However, Rubka could be in detention for a while before she can return to Ethiopia with Yafit, as the time it will take to process her case is entirely unpredictable, and contingent on the support of the Ethiopian Embassy in Lebanon. She is hoping that the Ethiopian Embassy will accept her claim that Yafit’s father has left the country, and support&nbsp;<em>laissez passer</em>&nbsp;papers for Yafit, so that he can leave with her once her deportation orders come through.</p><p><strong>Common tales of precarity</strong></p><p>Rubka’s story as a migrant mother in Lebanon is similar to that of many other Ethiopian migrant domestic workers (MDWs) who bear children while they are in Lebanon. Lebanon has been a destination for MDWs since the 1980s, and while initially Sri Lankan women were numerically dominant (to the extent that the word ‘Srilanki’ became almost synonymous with domestic worker), by 2015, there were 73,098 Ethiopian women who constituted 47% of the 154,757 documented MDWs according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.labor.gov.lb/_layouts/MOL_Application/Cur/stat1-2015.pdf">Ministry of Labor, Lebanon</a>.</p><p>The majority of Ethiopian MDWs are young, unmarried women in the sexually active and reproductive age group of 18-30 (unlike MDWs from Asia who often tend to be already married with children before they migrate). There is therefore a greater likelihood of Ethiopian women forming relationships and having children.</p><p>Officially, according to the terms of the Unified Contract signed by MDWs, they are not allowed to marry, become pregnant or have children while in Lebanon, yet there is a sizeable population of women migrants with children who often have ambiguous legal status. According to a representative of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/">Insan Association</a>, an estimated 15% of the MDW population have children in Lebanon. The numbers could therefore range between 20,000 and 30,000. The majority of MDW mothers with children in Lebanon have irregular migrant status, which may pre-date their pregnancy, or in some cases, have been propelled by it. Although MDWs are not allowed to register a civil marriage, some couples enter into a religious marriage (usually officiated by an Islamic Sheikh).</p><p>The Lebanese government’s restrictions on MDWs' rights to legally marry and have children has the unintended counter-effect of propelling these women and their children into irregular status and precarious single motherhood. Aida and Emebet are two such mothers who started out on regular contracts as domestic workers. They met and married Sudanese men, but after a few years Aida’s husband was deported and Emebet’s husband died, after which their residence statuses lapsed into irregularity. They live together with their three daughters, and both work part-time jobs as domestic workers, taking turns looking after the children. As Aida describes: ‘We help each other, pay the rent, and look after our children&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;in the morning I take them to school, she brings them back in the afternoon. We have a programme. Helping each other, we live together.</span><em>’</em></p><p>They live a precarious life, with incomes that are barely enough to meet the costs of rent, school fees, and keeping themselves and the girls fed and clothed. They face the constant risks of being arrested, held in detention and deported.</p><p><strong>Degrees of precarity</strong></p><p>The likelihood of single motherhood and the degree of precarity Ethiopian migrant mothers face depends to a great extent on the nationality, marital and migrant status of the men with whom the women have relationships, with four observable trends.</p><p>First, a very small number of Ethiopian women who have married Lebanese men, become Lebanese citizens and are consequently the most secure.</p><p>Second, more commonly, Ethiopian women marry and have children with Sudanese men living and working in Lebanon. Some of these Sudanese men have been successful in their applications to register as asylum seekers with UNHCR; if married to the Ethiopian woman, she and her children are considered his dependents and they are eligible as a family for eventual resettlement in a third country through the UNHCR.</p><p>Third, some migrant worker couples have managed to ‘buy’ their sponsorship papers and regularize their residence status as ‘freelancers’ (although they are technically infracting the law). This is what the husbands of Aida and Emebet did, at least initially. Until 2014, in cases where the father was a documented migrant worker and the couple had marriage documents, their children could be registered for residence permits with the General Directorate of the General Security (GDGS), the administrative body that controls immigration in Lebanon. The renewal of residency permits of children below 4 years old was permitted without cost and after 4 years, the&nbsp;extension of the residency permit was <a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Shattered%20Dreams-%20children%20of%20migrants%20in%20Lebanon.pdf">dependent</a> on school enrollment.</p><p>Fourth, and most precarious, are women like Rubka who have entered into relationships with men of different nationalities (Syrian, Egyptian or Sudanese) who are irregular migrants themselves and/or are unwilling to marry them. The children of such relationships often have ambiguous legal status if their father refuses to acknowledge them. The Ethiopian government requires documentation of paternity to register the child as Ethiopian, and requires the permission of the father in order to allow the child to travel out of Lebanon on&nbsp;<em>laissez passer</em>&nbsp;papers. For many such women, the only form of documentation of their child’s existence is a baptism certificate issued by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Lebanon.</p><p>The legal status of children is therefore contingent on the migration status of their parents.</p><p><strong>Registering births</strong></p><p>Migrants in Lebanon are at a disadvantage in registering their children with authorities. A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Unprotected%20Childhood%20Report%20-%20INSAN.pdf">survey by Insan Association</a>&nbsp;found that while 0% of Lebanese children are not registered, 10% of children of documented migrants and 63% of children of undocumented migrants are not registered. Migrant workers who have children born in Lebanon and manage to keep them in the country (particularly those that are undocumented) have very few alternatives in terms of childcare since they have neither the family networks nor the resources to arrange for their care needs. Migrant mothers in Lebanon usually cannot afford better quality childcare services given their low salaries. Further, as the Insan survey showed, 56.7% of children of documented migrants and 55.2% of children of undocumented migrants do not attend school. This stands in&nbsp;contrast to Lebanese children, <a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Unprotected%20Childhood%20Report%20-%20INSAN.pdf">(100%)</a> of whom are reported to be attending school.</p><p>In 2014, in a covert attempt to control what was seen as a burgeoning problem, the GDGS began obstructing the renewal of residence permits of children of migrant workers. Although GDGS did not make public any policy directive regarding non-renewal, civil society organizations noticed that this was systematically happening even when both parents were regular migrants working in Lebanon and had not had previous problems registering their children. Further, in October, 2014 GDGS also attempted to disallow any relationships engaged in by MDWS by requiring employers to ensure that no migrant worker under their sponsorship marries any person whether foreign or Lebanese while on Lebanese territories (GDGS Public Notice No. 1778 dated 10/10/2014).&nbsp;<span>The Ministry of Justice overturned this latter directive in July 2015&nbsp;due to </span><a href="http://www.insanassociation.org/en/images/Shattered%20Dreams-%20children%20of%20migrants%20in%20Lebanon.pdf">lobbying pressure</a><span> from civil society stakeholders and the media.</span></p><p>Although the advocacy of Lebanese civil society actors prevented the deterioration of the already precarious situation of migrant mothers and their children in Lebanon, the situation continues to violate the rights of migrant children under the Child Rights Convention (which Lebanon has ratified), many of whom are, in effect, stateless, and without access to education.&nbsp;<span>Migrant women workers and their children are thus the victims of racist and gender biased immigration rules, forced into informal and dangerous survival strategies and deeper marginality.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span><em>*All names have been changed in this article to protect anonymity.&nbsp;</em></span></p><p><em><em>This article is based on research conducted by the author with Ethiopian women migrant workers in Lebanon between June and September 2016. </em></em></p><p><em><span>The research was presented at '</span><a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/11/families-on-the-move">Families on the Move</a><span>', a conference on migration, gender and family relations, co-organized by UN Women and&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.nyu.edu/">New York University</a><span>,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://sps.nyu.edu/">School of Professional Studies</a><span>,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.scps.nyu.edu/academics/departments/global-affairs.html">Center for Global Affairs</a><span>, to inform UN Women’s upcoming flagship report&nbsp;Progress of the World’s Women: ‘Families in a Changing World’.&nbsp;</span></em></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="/5050/christina-lomidze/georgian-migrant-mothers-never-to-return-home">Georgian migrant mothers: never to return home?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ramya-ramaswami/why-migrant-mothers-die-in-childbirth-in-uk">Why migrant mothers die in childbirth in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tracey-reynolds-umut-erel/migrant-mothers-creative-interventions-into-citizenship">Migrant Mothers: creative interventions into citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/sarah-el-richani/lebanese-women-and-full-citizenship-rights-mesh-of-patriarchy-politi">Lebanese women and full citizenship rights: a mesh of patriarchy, politics and confessionalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/lebanon%27s-refugees-resisting-hegemony-through-culture">Lebanon&#039;s refugees: resisting hegemony through culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/transnational-marriage-abandonment-new-form-of-violence-against-women">Transnational marriage abandonment: A new form of violence against women? </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"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ethiopia </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 Arab Awakening Ethiopia Lebanon 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gender gender justice gendered migration women's human rights women's work Bina Fernandez Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:08:01 +0000 Bina Fernandez 108039 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On surviving the Christmas holidays as a lesbian in Bulgaria https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lora-novachkova/on-surviving-christmas-holidays-as-lesbian-in-bulgaria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"I recall the Christmas of 2011, when I was kindly asked by my family to consult an imam to break the 'evil curse', which had 'made' me a lesbian."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-10346003.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-10346003.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'How many homosexual couples let go of each-other's hands when they arrive in Sofia?' Credit: PA Images / Valentina Petrova </span></span></span></p><div>I am in Bulgaria for the Christmas and New Year holidays again and I am in a place that is supposedly my “home”, with my homophobic family who are convinced that they love me unconditionally. Last year, around this same time, I quit my job as a programme manager of the Bulgarian LGBTI-organization Bilitis due to a major burnout. I was frustrated with living in Sofia, a city covered in swastikas, and decided it was time to stop fearing getting attacked on the street. I moved to Spain, where I could hold my partner's hand in public again. However, as soon as it was time to come “home”, the illusion we lived in suddenly faded away and the cold thought of having to face my own family’s homophobia, as well as that of the entire society I was brought up in, settled in.&nbsp;</div> <p class="normal">Most LGBTI people in Bulgaria are forced to lead a double life, or migrate in order to express their sexual orientation “freely”. Although there are hardly any official national statistics on attitudes towards LGBTI people, the results of a European Union survey in 2015 showed that 68 percent of the population opposed same-sex marriage, which has been banned by the government since 1991. The vast majority of Bulgarians see these desires as a sickness or deviance, but never, ever, as something “natural’’ (whatever this word should mean).</p> <p class="normal">I recall the Christmas of 2011, when I was kindly asked by my family, who are Orthodox Christans like most Bulgarians, to consult an imam to break the ‘’evil curse’’, which had ‘’made’’ me a lesbian, because my family saw my homosexuality as the result of black magic. Ironically, my parents could not explain to him what were they worried about, and they expected him to ‘"see’’ it somehow. It is a widely spread practice in Bulgaria to consult imams of Turkish origin when there is a doubt of being under the influence of black magic. Normally, you visit the imam at his home and you leave a donation for his work. I don't know whether he was able to “see” the “issue”, but it seems that his work didn't achieve the expected goal. Thus, the procedure had to be repeated in 2014. This time we consulted a "vrachka", a female fortune-teller who also breaks spells. She asked me why, after dating a guy for some years, I started dating girls. She thought my response wasn’t convincing, but I didn't feel the need to get her to understand.&nbsp;</p> <p class="normal">While doing research for my master’s thesis, in which I was investigating the interconnections between societal and family homophobia in Bulgaria, I came across similar stories told by many other lesbians. I visited these "consultants" mostly out of a researcher’s curiosity, although if I hadn’t, my parents would always have seen my homosexuality as the influence of a dark spell. A psychological consultation is sadly also not the answer, as in Bulgaria, such institutions cannot guarantee a safe space due to the nature of the subject. Obviously, there are plenty of incompetent psychologists in this homophobic context who build an unethical business by reinforcing homophobia and traumatizing the young LGBTIs who end up facing the lifelong consequences. Since there are no LGBTI hotlines or any public resources to address the needs of LGBTI people in Bulgaria, we are pretty much left to deal with the processes on our own, in whatever way we can. In such circumstances (without the help of specialists), the family reaction becomes absolutely crucial to one's perception of themselves.</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Bulgariaqueer.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Bulgariaqueer.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'>'Being gay is not a sickness. Beating and killing is.' Credit: Vihren Georgiev</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">Returning to my Christmas thoughts, it has not been a merry one. The mental exercise of suppressing one’s anger towards their family’s ignorance is challenging, and having to play the role of a person happy to be returning “home’’, does not make it easier. For me, this word lost its meaning when a couple of years ago I came back to Bulgaria from Berlin with my then girlfriend, and we were asked not to come ‘’home’’. We were together for three years, and spent half of that time in Sofia - this did not lead my parents to want to get to know her. My mother never stepped a foot inside our flat. My father dared it, but never when my partner was there. When I was to meet them, I was supposed to go to their place alone. The legitimation for my family’s ‘’lack of sympathy’’ towards her was that she is thirteen years older than me. As we know, homophobia rarely comes alone. More often than not, it intersects with sexism, ageism, etc.</p> <p class="normal">Last summer my parents came to see me in Spain. I was genuinely excited about their visit since to me this meant that, for the first time, they were going to meet a partner of mine. We asked why they were willing to get to know her, but not my former partner of three years. It would have been better not to ask. My father explained that the age of my former partner led him to conclude that she really was a lesbian, but since my current partner is nine years younger than me, they viewed our relationship as a young person’s experiment. In other words, there was nothing to worry about since they didn't take our relationship seriously. I was shocked, offended, and wanted to cry out loud, but instead, I had to keep on as it was just their first day, and four more were coming. After this ‘’splendid’’ time, we flew back to Bulgaria where I was warned not to bring her home.</p> <p class="normal">This was in the summer, and now it's winter, but nothing has changed. My partner and I are in the same city for Christmas and New Year, but neither of us can bring the other “home”. I wonder how many homosexual couples let go of each other’s hands when they land at the airport of Sofia?</p><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 Lora Novachkova Mon, 09 Jan 2017 10:21:50 +0000 Lora Novachkova 107972 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Beyond ‘post-truth’: confronting the new reality https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/angela-phillips/beyond-post-truth-confronting-new-reality <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The term ‘post-truth’ is itself a product of seductive alarmism. It’s time we looked at the cold facts of our emerging news systems.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Angela Phillips is a Professor of Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London. This long-read is based on her inaugural lecture, 'On bubbles and streams: news audiences in the era of social media', which was held on October 25th 2016 at Goldsmiths.</em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-29624136.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-29624136.jpg" 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'>White House Correspondents Association President Jeff Mason speaks with the media at Trump Tower, Jan. 5, 2017. Credit: PA Images/Andrew Harnik.</span></span></span></p><p>We are told we are living in a “post truth” world in which fake news proliferates and the established news media, once a bastion of civil society and a pillar of democracy, has lost its influence. As we should expect, alarmist statements such as these, have one foot in fact and the other resting on a shifting foundation of clicks, likes and shares. Alarming headlines work better on social media but they also reduce complex ideas to a series of half understood slogans.&nbsp;</p> <p>Much is changing in the way in which we find and share news stories but these changes are a product of many factors.&nbsp; Some rest in national media systems, others are a product of technical changes and all are influenced by, or have an influence upon, the shifting geopolitical situation.&nbsp; Fake news is not responsible for the rise of right wing populism in Europe and America but it has certainly fed the fire.</p> <p>The decline of trust in the mainstream media is genuine but it is not global.&nbsp; In the Northern European countries, where commercialisation has been tempered by firm statutory intervention and clear professional conventions, trust is still relatively high. In the rampantly commercial systems of the UK and the USA trust has plummeted.&nbsp; The UK press has the lowest level of public trust of any <a href="https://www.ebu.ch/files/live/sites/ebu/files/Publications/EBU-MIS%20-%20Trust%20in%20Media%202016.pdf">European country</a> (with higher levels for TV) while the US media has low levels of trust for both TV news and the press &nbsp;(Aarts, Fladmoe, &amp; Strömbäck 2012).</p> <p>Lack of trust in news has, in the past, been mainly a problem of dictatorships and unstable democracies. The rise of “post-truth” news in Europe and the USA appears to be a symptom of news systems that are no longer able to command respect, coupled with a change in the way in which people access news.&nbsp; (Muller 2013)&nbsp;</p> <h3>Declining news consumption and the The Daily Me</h3> <p>The World Wide Web, invented by a British scientist who believed in public service, connection and democracy, opened the way to the reinvention, not of news or journalism itself, but the means by which it could be disseminated and consumed. For most people this change heralded a new democratisation.&nbsp; At last the idea of a public sphere in which all voices could be heard was capable of realisation. Once of the early enthusiasts was Nicholas Negroponte who said:&nbsp;</p> <p>“The monolithic empires of mass media are dissolving into an array of cottage industries…. Media barons of today will be grasping to hold onto their centralized empires tomorrow…. The combined forces of technology and human nature will ultimately take a stronger hand in plurality than any laws Congress can invent.” (Negroponte (1996 57-58).&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/535193/Tim Berners-Lee.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Tim Berners-Lee.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. Credit: olympic.org</span></span></span></p><p>Much of the optimism about the democratising effect of the internet and social media, came from people who were themselves interested in political matters and who found the ability to get online and sound off without the intermediary of an editor absolutely exhilarating.&nbsp; It was these scholars and pundits who captured the attention of journalists, with an equal interest in embracing the Internet, who looked mainly for the most optimistic voices to echo their own enthusiasm.&nbsp;</p> <p>But they often forgot the basic principle that you cannot take yourself and your mates as a model for the way the world works.&nbsp; There is no doubt that for many people the abundance of the Internet provided huge new opportunities for information gathering, but there is now also a growing mass of large scale, critical, research that has been flagging up for a decade or so, that there is a democratic downside to the abundance online. Broadly they flag up the problem that the greater the available choice of media, the less likely people are to pay attention to news at all. &nbsp;</p> <p>In a low choice environment, even those who were not interested in news, tended to be reasonably well informed about major news events because they would see the news headlines before switching channels.&nbsp; In a high choice environment it is very easy to avoid watching the news.&nbsp; In a <a href="https://www.routledge.com/How-Media-Inform-Democracy-A-Comparative-Approach/Aalberg-Curran/p/book/9780415889087">six country study</a> the USA had, by a very long way, the lowest level of TV news consumption. &nbsp;It is also the country where low levels of education are most likely to be matched by low levels of news knowledge.&nbsp; In this environment the growth of personalisation, via social media, has dramatically changed the way people understand the world.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Queen-Brexit-Sun.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Queen-Brexit-Sun.jpg" 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'>The Sun's headline 'Queen Backs Brexit' was found to be "significantly misleading" by Ipso. </span></span></span></p> <p><a href="http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/">The Pew Research Centre</a> has been monitoring news consumption and found that in 2016, the majority of US citizens (62%) were receiving news on social media and 18 % are doing so often.&nbsp; Usually this news consumption was unplanned.&nbsp; The users of social media (usually Facebook) don’t go to their news feed in order to read the news.&nbsp; They just bump into it there. Women and young people are particularly likely to find their news in this way.</p> <p>These figures are not out of line with other technologically advanced countries (<a href="http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Reuters%20Institute%20Digital%20News%20Report%202014.pdf">Reuters 2016</a>) but they have to be seen in the context of very low trust in mainstream news in the USA and very low levels of news consumption, in particular amongst those with low levels of education.&nbsp; People who have no interest in news and no background knowledge of news events, now get news stories passed on to them from their friends and relations.&nbsp; The news may well come from a mainstream source but it is consumed completely out of context and often with a negative comment attached. In some cases the stories may have been invented but they are presented as news in exactly the same way as a news story from an established news organisation.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Bubbles and machine learning&nbsp;</h3> <p>The concept of a filter bubble was coined by Eli Pariser, who noted that his Facebook feed was filtering out friends whose political views were not in accordance with his own.&nbsp; The same effect occurs on Google where the algorithm that organises search is personalised, to ensure that you get news that fits in with your own concerns, at the top of your news feeds.</p> <p>Personalisation is a means of helping people to sort material from the abundance of the Net but because it is organised by a computer programme that learns from our every, interaction, it tends to narrow down our searches to the point at which it is unlikely that we will come across information that makes us question our choices. The effect of the Filter Bubble is to narrow our interests.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/factcheck.og_.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/factcheck.og_.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: FactCheck.org</span></span></span></p><p>This machine learning is organised around not only our own personal choices but also the personal choices of our closest friends and this creates a double wrap of insulation against the world.&nbsp; Research into group behaviour has demonstrated just how much we are influenced by others.&nbsp; Most people prefer to avoid confrontation, so they tend to temper their views, or remain silent, when confronted by others with differing views.&nbsp; Researcher Noelle Neumann referred to this phenomenon as “The Spiral of Silence”.</p> <p>On Facebook this effect is exaggerated.&nbsp; People on Facebook tend to give way to the loudest voices. They are even less likely to venture an alternative view online than they would be around a dining table.&nbsp; This means that social media has become a perfect haven for bullies. Strident people, making extreme statements, often hear responses only from the people who agree with them.&nbsp; Where comments made are out of line with the dominant view, it is not uncommon for others to gang up and chase them away. The result is a reinforcement of the strident view.&nbsp; People who live inside these ‘bubbles’ may have very little idea that their beliefs are out of line with the dominant view. They have come to believe in their own propaganda.</p> <p>Where people have little exposure to mainstream news and tend to get their news only via the selection of their friends, they have little opportunity to test out their beliefs and into this structure it is easy to see how fake news could be used as a means of propaganda.&nbsp; So it is particularly worrying that those most likely to be getting their news via social media are young people, many of whom are just beginning to form their opinions.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Trump, Corbyn, and the power of the influencer</h3> <p>The Internet allows every voice to appear equal because everyone has access to easy to use, sophisticated, web applications and social media. For those who feel that the mainstream media fails to give them a voice, this equality of access has opened the door to new possibilities for directly influencing audiences. However the ability to speak does not equate with the likelihood of being heard.</p> <p>Most individuals with an axe to grind will simply sit on Twitter churning out one liners @their friend and foes in the hope of being followed. It takes a degree of sophistication, significant networks, or an extraordinary stroke of luck to promote a single post or tweet to more than a handful of friends. However the means to develop a following are freely available for those who do have the necessary personal influence.</p> <p>Celebrities are adept at using their personal following to talk directly to their fans, burnishing their image without the interference of mediators such as journalists, who might prefer to dwell on their cellulite rather than their new hit record or starring role. As a result, any celebrity with a fan base will be sought after by companies paying them to tweet material about their products.&nbsp; The companies understand that it is the power of the <em>influencer</em> that matters in the social world, more than the power of the message.</p> <p>Politicians also try to take control of their own messages by speaking directly to voters. This will only work if they are themselves charismatic influencers. A party apparatchik, churning out carefully crafted messages is unlikely to get much traction. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;President Obama was the first to use the Internet successfully in this way, more recently Donald Trump in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, have both made a particular point of campaigning directly, to supporters and party members, over the heads of the mainstream.&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/535193/fake news tweet.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/fake news tweet.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="214" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A national survey conducted on 6-12 December 2016 found that 52% of Republicans falsely believed that President-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote. </span></span></span></p> <p>This direct approach works very well for appealing to, and growing, base support because it cuts out opposing voices, ensures that the messages are heard without either interference or challenge, and exaggerates the popularity of your own position among supporters. Very often supporters, caught inside their own filter bubbles (see the last post on this subject), will not be exposed to opposition voices because they are getting all their campaign material inside the bubble.&nbsp;</p> <p>Trump has been hugely successful at using social media to speak directly to disaffected Americans but he had a number of additional factors to help his position. The first is that he was already a celebrity with a fan base from his role as the anchor of the TV show, The Apprentice. He was also a regular target for the derision of the political and media establishment and he understood how to manipulate social media so that his Twitter messages would be taken up and spread by the very journalists he affected to despise.&nbsp;</p> <p>Social media works <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2014/06/09/book-review-going-viral-by-karine-nahon-and-jeff-hemsley/">best</a> with messages that appeal to the emotions. So messages that merely correctly produce data are not nearly as potent as hate messages that may not be based in truth but are capable of firing people up.&nbsp; This is why Trump has done so well and why Corbyn, so far, has failed to break out beyond the circle of his core supporters.</p> <p>It was the combination of appealing to the base, while at the same time outraging the news media, that ensured everything Trump said was spread far beyond his own power base. This means that he benefited from the <strong>intensification</strong> effect of the bubble as well as the <strong>spreading</strong> effect of the mainstream. MSM may be critical of him but as long as it transmits the message then it will spread. In the event <a href="http://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-national-conventions/">Trump</a> was quoted about Hilary Clinton, in mainstream news, more often than she was quoted about her own policies.&nbsp;</p> <p>Given the tendency for the US media to produce <a href="http://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-national-conventions/">negative</a>, rather than positive stories, Trump’s propensity for producing negative tweets about his opponent meant that he automatically had the upper hand. The media reported the tweets even when they were clearly outrageous.&nbsp; Then both the tweets and the reports would be passed along on social media to Trump followers and also, via the mainstream, to those who had no reason to support him.&nbsp; This just produced an impenetrable fog of negativity that enveloped the Clinton campaign. &nbsp;</p> <p>Jeremy Corbyn has, so far, been a lot less successful in his attempt to speak directly to the electorate. In order to spread beyond the base of loyal supporters, he needed the cooperation of the mainstream media. Trump manipulated the mainstream to create outrage. Corbyn avoided the main stream. During the EU Referendum campaign, Prime Minister, <a href="https://blog.lboro.ac.uk/crcc/eu-referendum/uk-news-coverage-2016-eu-referendum-report-5-6-may-22-june-2016/">David Cameron appeared in 25per cent of items. Corbyn in 6 per cent of items</a>.&nbsp; When Corbyn managed to create outrage in the press, it was almost always by <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-traingate-virgin-trains-row-cctv-sitting-on-floor-passengers-overcrowding-a7217471.html">accident</a> rather than design, so that he was not actually in control of his message. The messages that travelled tended to hold him up to ridicule rather than establishing him as a fighter or a maverick.</p> <p>This tendency to spread messages that move the emotions, rather than the mind, has meant that the power of the Net has been harnessed more to the spreading of disinformation than the diligent mining of good information.&nbsp; Those Americans who were least likely to have been ‘inoculated’ by a steady diet of verifiable fact were the ones who were least resistant to the wave of fake news that was circulated online. Trump&nbsp; <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/">won 2:1</a> amongst those without college degrees. These are the people who are least likely to encounter mainstream news in any form.</p> <p>There have been calls for social media platforms to prevent ‘fake news’ getting through. However, in the UK, the right wing mainstream press was itself a key driver of fake news about <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/06/daily-chart-15">Europe</a>, which was then passed on via the platforms. In a fiercely competitive commercial environment, where news is used as bait to attract audiences, the proliferation of sensationalist news is an inevitable by-product.&nbsp;</p> <p>Censorship is not the way to stop unreliable news getting through.&nbsp; The only way is to ensure that there is always a more trusted alternative that people can rely on. &nbsp;As global social media companies move into a monopoly position in news distribution in Europe, the publicly funded broadcasters will have to do everything in their power to earn and retain public trust. This doesn’t mean moving towards a right-wing populist agenda. It means having the courage to take apart every statement that is made by politicians and pundits and to stand up for evidence-based reporting and democratic values.&nbsp; As with any computer based system it is worth remembering the old adage: junk in junk out.&nbsp;</p><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 Angela Phillips Fri, 06 Jan 2017 09:13:25 +0000 Angela Phillips 107949 at https://www.opendemocracy.net António Guterres: The Ninth Man https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How will UN Secretary-General António Guterres demonstrate the UN's intention to resist the rising tide of misogyny in the US and the global wave of misogynistic nationalism?</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/501857/PA-28906122(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-28906122(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaking at a press conference in New York. Photo/UN Women</span></span></span></p> <p>António Guterres takes office on 1 January as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations; the ninth man to take this role.&nbsp; He faces a greater concentration of crises than anyone can remember, at a time of growing skepticism about multilateral solutions, while the UN’s credibility as a trustworthy humanitarian actor has been crushed by sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.&nbsp; As the world’s&nbsp; <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/06/new-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres">'secular pope’</a> &nbsp;he will have to deal with inflated expectations about his capacity to resolve these crises and repair the UN in the process. Trump’s win in the November US presidential elections makes it urgent that the new SG fronts a powerful feminist agenda to hold firm against a rising tide of misogyny in the US and elsewhere. For Guterres to do this effectively, he must distinguish clearly between an internal UN project of achieving gender parity, and a wider project of democratising gender relations and enabling women’s leadership in national and global problem-solving.</p> <p><strong>Implications of the Trump win for multilateral work on gender equality</strong></p> <p>Feminist multilateralists <a href="http://www.womansg.org/">campaigned in 2016</a> for the appointment of a woman as SG.&nbsp; One of the factors mitigating their disappointment was a widely-shared hope, rising dangerously to the status of an expectation, that the next US president would be Hillary Clinton.&nbsp; The possibility of a feminist US president who had, as Secretary of State, framed increases in the US’s spending on women’s rights, autonomy and wellbeing as investments in national and international security, was expected to usher in a new era of funding and inclusion for the UN’s marginalised work on engaging women in peace processes and peacebuilding, and for its beleaguered ‘women peace and security’ (WPS) specialists. </p> <p>A feminist US president might also have spurred the UN to become a much more convincing leader on women’s sexual and reproductive rights, rights to property, decent employment and fair pay, freedom from gender-based violence and access to opportunities to compete for public office.</p> <p>Trump’s win threatens the precise opposite. It makes feminist achievements seem much less secure than we had thought. Trump’s win, coasting on global trends favoring pugilistic leadership styles, xenophobic and racist nationalism, has massively increased the burden of expectations on the new SG.&nbsp; Trump’s win has brought with it a range of threats to multilateralism in general, and specifically to efforts to slow climate change, promote human rights, cooperate on resettling refugees, and even, astonishingly, to freedom of expression. Trump’s win has also featured a threat to women’s rights. Trump’s own history of sexual harassment, his threat to de-fund Planned Parenthood, his dismissal of efforts to fight gender or sexuality-based discrimination as ‘political correctness’, his predilection for older white men - &nbsp;some with domestic violence charges - in government leadership roles, are expressions of an unapologetically Hefneresque reduction of women to sex objects. His vague proposals on paid maternity leave reflect not a feminist policy platform, but the hard ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/ivanka-trump-feminism-us-election">peak marketplace feminis</a>m’ of his daughter Ivanka; less about justice than about grooming women to consume. </p> <p>Ominously, Trump’s transition team has made gender the focus one of its astonishingly few requests for information about how the government works.&nbsp; Just before Christmas it asked the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/us/politics/state-department-gender-equality-trump-transition.html">State Department and USAID employees to outline</a> “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.” The Trump transition team also requested a list of positions “whose primary functions are to promote such issues”, as well as how much funding was directed to gender-related programmes in 2016. &nbsp;Considering how relatively isolated this request is in the context of his inexperienced transition team, that it was made at all suggests it is an area of significant interest.</p> <p>If the intention of the probe into the US’s gender equality work is to trim fat, Trump will be disappointed.&nbsp; Gender equality work in fragile and developing countries is not exactly a major money drain for the US. But if the intention is to contort or cut the US’s women’s rights work internationally, this is a much more serious concern.&nbsp; While perhaps the best known US policy on gender and foreign aid is the regularly renewed Helms Amendment barring federal funding for abortion services, the US otherwise plays an unsung but crucial leadership role in multilateral policy-making on women’s rights.&nbsp; An attack on the US’s role in this area could have repercussions around the world. </p> <p>The US has been at the head of efforts to push the UN to promote women’s rights since Virginia Gildersleeve was the sole woman on the US delegation to the 1945 San Francisco United Nations Conference, where she helped draft the UN Charter. In the annual Commission on the Status of Women the US has played a vital role in facilitating normative advances, but it often negotiates from behind partner countries from the South, building global coalitions on women’s rights to show that women’s rights are not just an advanced industrial nations preoccupation.&nbsp; In the Security Council, the US has been a consistent supporter of the ‘Women Peace and Security’ resolutions, in particular those aiming to prevent the use of sexual violence as a tactic of warfare. The US provides core financial support to the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.&nbsp; And though the US is hardly the biggest donor to UN Women, it was one of the prime drivers of the 2010 resolution creating it. Hillary Clinton personally interceded on its behalf to persuade Michele Bachelet, currently the president of Chile, to become its first Executive Director, a move that significantly elevated its profile.</p> <p><strong>Time for a feminist surge at the UN</strong></p> <p>In light of the seeming inevitability of a dilution of the US’s support for gender equality and LGBTI rights, and in the context of reversals of women’s rights achievements by regimes that may be nationalist, populist, authoritarian, post-Soviet kleptocratic, or influenced by fundamentalist religious ideologies, the UN must step up as the standard-bearer for women’s rights.&nbsp; This will be tough.&nbsp; As noted by a <a href="https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ICRW_FemUNRecommendations_WebReady_v4.pdf">group of feminists</a> convened in the autumn by the International Center for Research on Women in Washington DC: ‘the institution that has catalyzed […] breakthrough processes to secure visionary commitments to gender equality has consistently failed to implement these commitments in its internal policies and practices, as well as in the programs that it advocates for and supports.” Bringing attention to gender issues into top decision-making at the UN will require internal reforms to address the way this is constantly marginalized and sidelined, to significantly increase funding for women’s empowerment programming, to sharpen the influence of UN Women, and to address one of the UN’s most egregious failings: the impunity with which both uniformed and civilian peacekeepers as well as UN humanitarian staff sexually abuse host populations. </p> <p>Long before Guterres was selected, a range of UN observers and international civil society organisations began to generate priority agendas for the new SG’s consideration.&nbsp; Arguably these started with former Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury’s blistering March 2016 Op Ed in the New York Times, blaming the UN’s ‘colossal mismanagement’ on a sclerotic personnel system and spineless caving-in to political pressure in senior appointments.&nbsp; Disappointingly, Banbury called for an outside panel to review the situation – a classic UN method of doing nothing. Later, the <a href="http://cic.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/publication_sec_general_vexed_thant_min_u_apr11.pdf">Center on International Cooperation produced a paper</a> on methods of overhauling the personnel system and bringing real talent, not individuals owed a favour by their governments, into senior management.&nbsp; A priority list from the UK Overseas Development Institute <a href="https://www.odi.org/comment/10448-four-priorities-new-un-secretary-general">addresses migration and the SDGs</a> (<a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/">Sustainable Development Goals</a>).&nbsp; The <a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/fifteen-points-new-secretary-general">International Crisis Group prioritizes</a> reviving multilateralism, mediation in the Middle East, making the African Union more effective, building conflict prevention systems, and reviewing the UN’s counter-terrorism work. &nbsp;The <a href="http://www.cirsd.org/en/horizons/horizons-spring-2016--issue-no-7/the-next-un-secretary-generals-security-agenda-">Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development</a> calls for revising peacekeeping towards light-weight information-driven missions to make the UN more responsive to rapidly-evolving crises. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/06/new-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres">Mark Seddon of the Guardian</a> boils it all down to fixing Syria, ASAP.&nbsp; </p> <p>Not one of these many sets of suggestions mention gender issues, save sometimes to note the extent to which the <a href="http://www.cirsd.org/en/horizons/horizons-spring-2016--issue-no-7/the-next-un-secretary-generals-security-agenda-">UN’s credibility is sullied</a> by impunity for sexual exploitation by peacekeepers. Failure to mention gender equality by observers deeply steeped in the UN’s work shows that they consider it irrelevant to the desperate crises of the moment, as something to be dealt with later. </p> <p>This should make gender equality advocates worry.&nbsp; A great deal of research and advocacy has shown that gender equality is not a matter to be addressed at some point down the line, but an <a href="http://www.womenmajorgroup.org/high-level-political-forum-wmgs-brief-on-systemic-barriers-to-achieving-sustainable-development/">urgent immediate priority for poverty reduction and achieving the SDGs</a>, <a href="https://www.demworks.org/gender-women-and-democracy">for democracy-building</a>, and for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/opinion/womens-rights-are-a-national-security-issue.html">conflict prevention and building peace</a>.&nbsp; But clearly the data have failed to convince the many smart people puzzling out solutions to crises of our time.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Guterres’s immediate actions on women in leadership</strong></p> <p>If Guterres is <a href="https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2016/united-nations-real-feminist-next-secretary-general-antonio-guterres/">the feminist he says he is</a>, then he has to bring gender equality more centrally into the priorities for his tenure. In doing this, he also has to make a distinction between gender parity in staffing, and substantive efforts to advance women’s leadership, wellbeing and rights. </p> <p>Guterres has been careful to mention gender issues in his speeches since his appointment, most recently when he was sworn in as SG on December 13th. &nbsp;He has commited to gender parity in staffing, and makes a priority of the issue of women’s protection in the context of crisis and social upheaval. He made an immediate symbolic gesture cementing his commitment to women in leadership by <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55810#.WGezK7YrKb8">appointing</a>, right after being sworn in, Amina Mohammed (formerly Minister for the Environment in Nigeria) as his Deputy Secretary General; Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti as his Chef de Cabinet; and Kyung-wha Kang as special advisor. In a move never taken by any other incoming SG, he has appointed a gender adviser to his transition team, someone widely respected among gender specialists, the manager of the 2015 Global Study on Women Peace and Security. He has put the sexual exploitation and abuse problem centre-stage, appointing a senior adviser in this area. He has also asked the UN's human resources teams, particularly within the stubbornly male-dominated Secretariat, for proposals to bring forward the current gender parity deadline of 2030 to something closer to 2020.&nbsp; </p> <p>He is right to push: in 1993 the UN set itself a goal of gender parity across all staffing categories by 2000.&nbsp; Almost a quarter of a century later the UN has less than 22% women in senior management of the Secretariat.&nbsp; The percentages of women in some areas, such as UN peacekeeping and political mission management, has actually flatlined at under 25% level for years.&nbsp; </p> <p>This faltering progress means that Guterres is going to need to spend some political capital on moving beyond ‘best intentions’ efforts. That means rejecting candidate lists proposed by Member States for senior positions until there are more women on them. That means recruitment panels cannot get away with saying that not enough qualified women applied. They will have to go out and look for them. Recruitment panels will also need training in how to combat reflexive sexist discounting of women’s achievements. Even stronger measures such as insisting on all female shortlists for some stubbornly male-dominated positions will be needed. This will trigger howls of outrage from staff unions and Member States. </p> <p>The gender imbalance is even more extreme among the UN’s uniformed peacekeepers.&nbsp; Suggestions made in the UN’s <a href="http://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/files/un%20women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf?v=1&amp;d=20160323T192435">2015 Global Study on Women Peace and Security</a> on creating financial incentives for Troop Contributing Countries to send more women soldiers and police have not been taken seriously because of a longstanding aversion to privileges for specific categories of personnel (and also because of fear of male backlash).&nbsp; It is time to get over that. </p> <p><strong>It’s going to take a lot more than gender parity</strong></p> <p>But gender parity in staffing cannot be a main pillar of Guterres’s feminist project, and he seems to know that this is a long route to empowerment. While more women at all levels of the UN’s bureaucracy is desirable for the sake of diversity, it will not necessarily generate feminist policy actions. Also, a focus on gender parity in staffing risks being perceived as an elitist project; ‘jobs for the girls’ but not necessarily justice and opportunities for women around the world under harsh patriarchal regimes. </p> <p>So another priority for Guterres will be to bring gender priorities to his reiterated commitments to <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55285#.WGenQrYrJPM">peace, sustainable development, and management reform</a>.&nbsp; During his campaign, Guterres promised a ‘<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55343#.WGSPyrYrKb9">surge in diplomacy for peace’</a>.&nbsp; He meant not just that he would be getting on a plane to Damascus, but that he would mobilize the finest diplomatic talents the world over to build bridges in seemingly intractable conflicts.&nbsp; He should engage women peace-makers in this effort too. From the community to national level, women mediators are left out of conflict resolution efforts, even though there is evidence that <a href="https://theglobalobservatory.org/2016/11/peace-development-women-undp-africa/">peace deals last longer when they are involved</a>.&nbsp; Sustainable development will have to address the world’s greatest source of inequality and exploitation which is women’s unpaid labour and the impunity men enjoy for violence against women.&nbsp; Management reform efforts cannot leave out an urgent push to bring justice to victims of sexual abuse by UN personnel. While there are massive challenges in holding uniformed perpetrators to account, the UN can at least ensure that its own civilian staff answer for these crimes.&nbsp; </p> <p>Proposals to action these measures are found in the ‘to do’ lists offered to the new SG by feminist groups, such as the <a href="https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ICRW_FemUNRecommendations_WebReady_v4.pdf">ICRW one</a>, <a href="http://action.equalitynow.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23658&amp;utm_source=email&amp;utm_medium=takeAction_btn&amp;utm_campaign=UNSG_FeministAgenda">one by Equality Now</a>, and, unusually, <a href="https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-feminist-agenda-for-the-new-un-secretary-general.html">one from a feminist network of UN staff</a>. &nbsp;But these are all missing something. For the new SG to bring gender equality concerns to the front of the UN’s top decision-makers’ agendas, he needs a stronger internal gender equality advocate.&nbsp; UN decision-making needs a powerful feminist brain behind it, and only UN Women is mandated to provide it. UN Women itself needs to be much better positioned to influence all aspects of the UN’s work.&nbsp; Rivalries between gender units in different parts of the UN continue to lock UN Women’s efforts into ineffective cajoling, while stranding gender equality work at lower staff grade levels, away from strategic decision-making.&nbsp; Strengthening UN Women does not have to mean weakening all of these gender units, but it does mean that they have to accept monitoring by UN Women – something that they all resist.&nbsp; Strengthening UN Women also means opening the possibility for it to receive a portion of assessed funds (the required, rather than voluntary contributions that Member States make to the UN).&nbsp; Above all, it means building UN Women’s strategic analysis and planning capability so that it can engage effectively in the off-screen crisis response processes in top decision-making.</p> <p><strong>Guterres needs an early high visibility gender equality ‘win’ </strong></p> <p>At a mid-December informal meeting convened by the <a href="https://www.ipinst.org/2016/12/guterres-meets-civil-society-members-at-ipi">International Peace Institute</a>, about thirty five civil society organisations, had the opportunity to pitch their concerns to the new SG and his team for an hour and a half.&nbsp; A surprising majority of the statements insisted on the importance of sustaining the UN’s gender equality work.&nbsp; One of the first points raised was about the need to defend women’s reproductive rights and not lose ground on abortion rights.&nbsp; Others raised alarms about the growing threats to women human rights defenders, the need to salvage the UN’s reputation in fragile state contexts, and the need to pair the gender parity drive with a demand that senior leaders at the UN are accountable for promoting women’s rights.&nbsp; He listened intently, and while the reproductive rights issue was not addressed, there was little doubt that his new team is eager to identify an early high visibility ‘win’ on gender to demonstrate the UN’s intention to resist the global wave of misogynistic nationalism.&nbsp; Guterres’s first appointments are reassuring, but do not speak to the need for a specifically feminist achievement.&nbsp; Gender parity in staffing will not be reached for a long time.&nbsp; More visible, and more immediately reassuring to women around the world, would be a strong gender equality component in his ‘surge of diplomacy’- for instance through supporting women’s peace movements to engage in mediation efforts.&nbsp; Another high visibility action would be decisive steps against UN staff involved in sexual exploitation and abuse.&nbsp; It could make the UN a more credible defender of women’s rights. </p><p><em>Read more critical perspectives on openDemocracy 50.50's platform:</em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gender-and-un"><strong>Gender and the UN</strong> </a></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="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-cura-deball/un-peacekeeping-blue-banner-for-hope-or-red-flag-for-abuse">UN peacekeeping: blue banner for hope, or red flag for abuse?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jessica-dawn-wilson/is-there-real-commitment-to-women-peace-and-security">Women, peace and security: the UN&#039;s rhetoric-reality gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">Redressing the UN&#039;s gender gap: how do the SG contenders compare? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/un-gender-generation-and-counter-terrorism-in-women-peace-and-security-debate">UN resolution 2242: gender, generation, and counter terrorism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sophie-giscard-destaing/gender-and-terrorism-un-calls-for-women-s-engagement-in-countering-viol">UN calls for women’s engagement in countering violent extremism: but at what cost? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice women and power women's human rights Anne Marie Goetz Sat, 31 Dec 2016 18:33:27 +0000 Anne Marie Goetz 107910 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Autumn: writing the now as we live through it https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/autumn-writing-now-as-we-live-through-it-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Published this autumn, Ali Smith's latest novel&nbsp;<a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/285171/autumn/">Autumn</a>&nbsp;explores the political upheavals of summer 2016, as well as issues of love, loss, art and friendship.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Penguin Books Ali Smith.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Penguin Books Ali Smith.jpg" 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'>Ali Smith. Credit: Penguin Books</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">There are a number of reasons that make reading Ali Smith’s newest novel, <em>Autumn</em>, an uncanny experience. Two of them are personal, one is universal.</p> <p class="Body">Let’s deal with the personal first. </p> <p class="Body">Firstly, I am exactly the same age as Smith’s protagonist, Elisabeth. Reading the novel, her significant dates are my significant dates – from starting school to protesting the Iraq War to the age we share in 2016. This makes her timeline, my timeline. Her cultural markers are my cultural markers.</p> <p class="Body">Secondly: for a decade I have been close friends with one of the world’s only Pauline Boty academics – the artist whose life and paintings form a narrative arc throughout the book. As a result, I have witnessed first-hand the process of re-discovering and re-evaluating Boty’s work and the placing of her into art history’s canon where she firmly belongs. </p> <p class="Body">Then there’s the universal uncanniness – and the thing that makes Smith’s work so extraordinary. Because despite being called <em>Autumn</em>, Smith’s novel is set in the summer. This summer. Summer 2016 with all its violence and turbulence and uncertainty. It is an incredible feat to write a novel about a moment in history that is not even history yet. It is disconcerting and astonishing and, to my mind, no other novelist could have pulled it off. </p> <p class="Body">The novel follows Elisabeth, a young woman whose career is in limbo and who has gone home to her mother’s. Her childhood friend and neighbour, Daniel, is sleeping and dying in a nursing home. Through delicately placed flashbacks, the reader witnesses the inter-generational friendship between a young girl and a man in his 80s - a man who introduces her to art and storytelling. As a now-adult Elisabeth sits with him and remembers their early friendship, 2016 rumbles on:</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>All across the country, there was misery and rejoicing.</em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; […]</em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; All across the country, people felt it was the wrong thing. All across the country, people felt it was the right thing. All across the country, people felt they’d really lost. All across the country, people felt they’d really won.</em></p> <p class="Body">The passage continues, beautifully encapsulating the emotion and conflict of those post-vote days - where ‘all across the country, people looked up Google: <em>what is EU</em>? All across the country, people looked up Google: <em>move to Scotland</em>.’ Again, it is uncanny to read a novel that is so centred in the <em>now</em> of this summer and this political moment. As I write this review, the news ticker on Twitter is telling me about a new Brexit row post the Richmond by-election. As I was reading Smith’s version of Jo Cox’s murder, the trial verdict flashed up on my phone. </p> <p class="Body">The novel opens with a riff on Dickens:</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times. </em></p> <p class="Body">We are thrown into an unworldly place of limbo, where an ‘old old man washes up on a shore’. He’s dead, or, if not dead, in some place between death and life. </p> <p class="Body">It’s significant that Smith throws us into this limbo existence. After all, hasn’t 2016 felt rather like living in limbo? Uncertainty has defined the period since 23rd June - be it the uncertainty of the markets or the uncertainty of EU residents or the uncertainty of <em>what exactly happens when Article 50 is invoked</em>. There’s a sense that the country has been suspended in limbo, just as Smith’s Daniel finds himself in neither this world nor the next. </p> <p class="Body">It’s significant too that Smith has her character washed up on the shore. At the end of the first chapter, the reader is confronted with the horror of death on the beaches:</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>On the shore, though, there’s a washed up body. He goes to look. Is it his own? </em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; No. It is a dead person. </em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Just along from this dead person, there is another dead person. Beyond it another, and another. </em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; He looks along the shore at the dark line of the tide-dumped dead. </em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Some of the bodies are of very small children. He crouches down near a swollen man who has a child, just a baby, really, still zipped inside his jacket, its mouth open, dripping sea, its head resting on the bloated man’s chest. </em></p> <p class="Body">Even typing up that passage brings tears to my eyes (I burst into tears reading it on the bus for the first time). In Smith’s limbo we are confronted with the horrors of the refugee crisis - an issue Smith <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/27/ali-smith-so-far-the-detainees-tale-extract">has written on </a>before.&nbsp;There are no people living more in limbo, more stuck between one world and the next, than the refugees arriving on Europe’s shores. </p> <p class="Body">The graphic depiction also challenges the reader to consider how quickly we forget the news stories that at one moment seemed defining. A year before I read <em>Autumn</em> I was gaping in horror at the pictures of children washed up dead on Greek beaches. Now their struggle has almost been forgotten in the endless rush for fresh, new news. Smith explores this speeded-up, desperate news cycle later on in the novel, when Elisabeth hears that MP Jo Cox has been murdered:</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;&nbsp; Someone killed an MP, she tells Daniel’s back as she struggles to keep up. A man shot her dead and came at her with a knife. Like shooting her wouldn’t be enough. But it’s old news now. Once it would have been a year’s worth of news. But news right now is like a flock of speeded-up sheep running off the side of a cliff. </em></p> <p class="Body"><em>Autumn</em> captures the political upheaval of this moment and the disillusionment so many people felt in the run-up to, and the aftermath of, Brexit, as voiced by Elisabeth’s mother:</p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I’m tired of having to wonder whether they did it out of stupidity or on purpose. I’m tired of lying governments. I’m tired of people not caring whether they’re being lied to anymore. </em></p> <p class="Body">However, it is also a novel about love and friendship and art. </p> <p class="Body">The genuine warmth between the child Elisabeth and the old-man Daniel is written with real heart. Smith pulls off the clever trick of imbuing their friendship with joy and colour, while also using their dialogues to explore the political messages found elsewhere in the novel. Smith’s gift, of course, is that she is such a subtle writer. Her reader never feels hit over the head with politics. Instead, we understand how even our own individual choices within relationships and friendships are themselves political, or political metaphors:</p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I’ll tell you what will happen, Daniel said. This. You and I will know I’ve lied, but your mother won’t […] We’ll all be lessened by the lie. So. Do you still choose the ballet? Or will I tell the sorrier truth?</em></p> <p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I want the lie, Elisabeth said. </em></p> <p class="Body">It’s not a huge leap to go from that childish conversation to the mass desire to believe the lies offered in the run-up to the EU referendum, or during Trump’s election campaign. </p> <p class="Body">Art is hugely important in the book, as it was in Smith’s last novel <em>How to be Both</em>. Daniel introduces Elisabeth to the work of Pauline Boty, a woman he knew in the 1960s.</p> <p class="Body">Boty was a pop artist who created bold, beautiful paintings and collages that engaged with many of the key themes of pop: celebrity, sexuality, ‘low’ vs. ‘high’ culture. However, Boty was written off as a dolly bird, as someone who couldn’t paint, as a hanger-on in the movement. After she died tragically young, her paintings were lost until the 1990s. My friend Dr Sue Tate curated the first full retrospective of Boty in 2014, along with the publication of her <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pauline-Boty-Pop-Artist-Woman/dp/0947642307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1480758172&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=sue+tate">critical review</a> of Boty’s work.</p> <p class="Body">Smith writes a section of the novel in Boty’s voice. Through her eyes, we explore the struggle of trying to be taken seriously as an artist and a woman - particularly a woman who was not afraid of embracing both her intellect and her sexuality: </p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>rumour is, that one there’s actually read Proust, she put her arm around the boy and said it’s true darling and Genet and de Beauvoir and Rimbaud<strong> </strong>and<strong> </strong>Colette, I’ve read all the men and women of French letters, oh and Gertrude Stein as well, don't you know about women and their tender buttons?</em></p> <p class="Body">Boty is linked with Christine Keeler in the novel - one a woman who painted pictures <em>of pictures</em> of women, the other a woman who exists in the public imagination as <em>only</em> a picture, a surface. </p> <p class="Body">It’s hard to do justice to such an extraordinary novel in one short review. To fully celebrate its complexity, the trickiness of its narrative, Smith’s ‘deadly serious’ playfulness with words and phrasing, and the cleverness of writing the now as we live through it. It really is a stunning achievement to bring together the different threads and weave the news cycle throughout it; to write a novel about politics and death and friendship and art while never feeling heavy or ponderous.</p> <p class="Body"><em>Autumn </em>is the first in a series focusing on each of the four seasons. I can’t wait to see what her <em>Winter</em> brings.&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="/5050/sian-norris/ali-smith-public-libraries-civic-space-and-intimacy">Ali Smith&#039;s Public Library: civic space and intimacy</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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 newsletter Sian Norris Fri, 16 Dec 2016 09:33:27 +0000 Sian Norris 107701 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK National Security Strategy: security for whom? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>To make real progress on tackling insecurity, there needs to be far greater commitment by the British government to addressing its causes, and not just its symptoms.</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/501857/Nat Sec report image 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec report image 1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mushroom cloud from UK Air Support Bombing, Afghanistan. Photo: POA/Sean Clee.</span></span></span></p><p>Last week, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the publication of the government’s first <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-security-strategy-and-strategic-defence-and-security-review-2015-annual-report-2016">Annual Report</a> on its National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-security-strategy-and-strategic-defence-and-security-review-2015">SDSR 2015</a>). Given the current international climate, this is an important exercise. The report is potentially a significant opportunity for the government to update parliament on the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s responses to the major security challenges of the day, to justify its expenditure and to indicate what adjustments it is making to improve effectiveness.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, for a government exercise in marking its own homework, the assessment is overwhelmingly positive. Theresa May’s foreword describes “good progress in each area” and asserts that “time and again, it is British leadership – British hard and soft power – that is at the forefront of the world’s response to the greatest challenges of our time.” The report then lists actions taken in respect of each of three overarching objectives; it details all 89 of the principal commitments outlined in SDSR 2015, of which 12 have been completed and 38 “set in train”.</p> <p>This all sounds quite encouraging, until you look more closely at what is missing. First, the report operates in a strategic grey zone. The SDSR 2015 gave no definition of the “security” it is setting out to achieve. It failed to identify the principles by which this security would be built and sustained, and provided no indicators or benchmarks against which progress would be measured. Yes, it listed a set of objectives and actions, but there was no explanation of the intended cumulative outcome of all this activity and expenditure. This weakness has been picked up by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS), the main parliamentary body scrutinising the implementation of the strategy. In its first <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201617/jtselect/jtnatsec/153/15302.htm">report</a> earlier this year, the JCNSS commented that “the primary goal of the NSS and SDSR process is to set out (a) what the UK wants to achieve; (b) how it intends to achieve it; and (c) what capabilities are required. The NSS and SDSR 2015 does not achieve that presentational goal”.</p> <p>This is more than just a small PR problem. It is a serious obstacle to assessing the effectiveness of a major part of public expenditure on an issue of critical national importance. And it matters all the more because the government’s record in this area is decidedly mixed; many actions undertaken in the name of ‘national security’ have indeed been quite disastrous. The <a href="https://rusi.org/">Royal United Services Institute</a> has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/23/uk-military-operations-costs">judged</a> the UK’s recent military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as “strategic failures” – all of which continue to generate huge insecurity both for people in those countries and, to a far lesser extent, for people living in the UK. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec Report rpt image 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec Report rpt image 2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="317" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>What did you learn from Iraq? Photo: Flickr/Alisdair Hickson </span></span></span></p><p>The <a href="http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/">Chilcot Report</a>, published in July this year, described the UK’s actions in Iraq as “an intervention which went badly wrong, and which has consequences to this day”. Last week's annual report on SDSR 2015 acknowledges Chilcot’s findings almost as an aside, saying only that the lessons had mostly already been anticipated and incorporated. This assertion is in marked contrast to other assessments of the government’s ability to learn lessons from past foreign policy failures. As recently as last month, the Foreign Affairs Committee <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2015/libya-gov-response-16-17/">chastised</a> the government for, in its view, unwillingness to learn the lessons of the 2011 intervention in Libya, which it described as contributing to “the collapse of the state, failure of stabilisation and the facilitation of Islamist extremism”. Questions about the outcomes of the UK’s national security interventions both here and elsewhere in the world need to keep being asked.</p> <p>The second big omission in both the SDSR 2015 and the annual report is any serious effort to address the long-term drivers of insecurity. UK policy quite reasonably seeks to respond to what it perceives to be some of the immediate security challenges facing the country – a resurgent Russia, the threat of terrorism, and global instability. While these risks are real, they cannot be meaningfully addressed in isolation from the profound security challenges arising from how we organise our societies. Despite growing global awareness of the urgent risks posed by climate change, the issue is marginalised in the original government strategy and receives only two fleeting mentions in the annual report. The same is also true of economic inequalities stemming from the neoliberal model, the polarising effects of which Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/05/mark-carney-isolation-globalisation-bank-of-england">warned about</a> just this week. To make real progress on tackling insecurity, there needs to be far greater commitment to addressing its causes, and not just its symptoms. </p> <p>The third major gap in the report is the yawning chasm that sometimes appears between the UK’s rhetorical commitment to international norms and its actual practice. The report describes the UK as a “leading supporter of the international rules-based system”, and specifically notes that the government continues to lobby for and encourage ratification of the international Arms Trade Treaty. And while accusing other powerful states and non-state actors of “ignoring international norms that they believe run contrary to their interests”, the report fails to acknowledge concerns over the UK’s continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia, despite <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-led-coalition-could-be-committing-international-crimes-bombing-civilians-in-yemen-un-a6940701.html">warnings</a> from the UN that the Gulf Kingdom could be committing international crimes in the course of its bombing campaign in Yemen.</p> <p>But there are also omissions in relation to security issues that are far closer to home. Despite its 38 pages, and its repeated references to the threats posed by terrorism, the annual report makes not a single mention of the security situation in Northern Ireland. It makes no reference to the statistics quoted in the recent <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-terrorism-acts-in-2015">publication</a> by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, which describes three “security-related deaths” in the year to March 2016, as well as 36 shooting incidents and 52 bombing incidents. Paramilitaries are also <a href="http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/paramilitaries-in-northern-ireland-forcing-hundreds-from-their-homes-each-year">reported</a> to be responsible for more than 400 incidents per year of people being forced out of their homes. While these figures are of a significantly lesser order of magnitude than during the Troubles, they are statistics that simply would not be tolerated in Great Britain. </p> <p>With the UK spending more than <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-budget-increases-for-the-first-time-in-six-years">£35 billion</a> per year on defence, and with a <a href="http://www.cityam.com/229260/autumn-statement-and-comprehensive-spending-review-2015-george-osborne-promises-30pc-increase-in-counter-terrorism-spending-in-wake-of-paris-attacks">commitment</a> to increase counter-terrorism expenditure from £11.7 billion over five years to £15.1 billion over the same period, it seems reasonable to expect a proper reckoning of the impacts of that expenditure for the common security of people throughout the UK and beyond. But the annual report on UK national security policy is beset by the flaws of the strategy published last year. The government needs to be willing to define security and articulate the intended outcomes of its interventions. It should consider a much greater emphasis on addressing the long-term drivers of insecurity, rather than focusing only on short-term symptoms. It needs to live up to its rhetoric, consistently upholding international standards and recognising that it cannot build security for people in the UK at the expense of the security of people in other parts of the world. Only then are we likely to be able to see, and measure, meaningful progress. &nbsp;&nbsp;</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="/5050/celia-mckeon/uncomfortable-assumptions-about-security-uk-vote-on-support-for-saudi-arabia">Uncomfortable assumptions about security: the UK vote on support for Saudi Arabia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/celia-mckeon-diana-francis/story-of-moral-abandon">A story of moral abandon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/celia-mckeon/reimagining-security">Reimagining security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/new-narrative-on-human-rights-security-and-prosperity">A new narrative on human rights, security and prosperity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/military-intervention-in-yemen-international-system-in-crisis">Military intervention in Yemen: the international system in crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/foundation-of-human-security-in-every-society">The foundation of human security in every society</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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </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 UK Conflict Democracy and government 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women and militarism Celia Mckeon Thu, 15 Dec 2016 09:03:27 +0000 Celia Mckeon 107695 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sex work: not prohibited, not permitted https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/susana-t-fried/sex-work-not-prohibited-not-permitted <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers is validated. Cross-movement collaboration on decriminalizing sex work is needed, now, more than ever.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/sex work the nation.PNG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/sex work the nation.PNG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>AP Photo/Christophe Ena </span></span></span> </p> <p>In mid-November, I attended a RedTraSex meeting to review “<em>Advances, challenges and strategies of the RedTraSex: strengthening sustainability and advancing the recognition of our rights</em>.” <a href="http://www.redtrasex.org/">RedTraSex is the <em>Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinamérica y el Caribe</em> (Network of Sex Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean.)</a>&nbsp; RedTraSex, on the cusp of celebrating its 20th anniversary, is made up of organizations from fifteen countries - Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Dominican Republic. </p> <p>The UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS <a href="http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2012/20120402_UNAIDS-guidance-note-HIV-sex-work">defines sex workers as</a> “a group of individuals defined as female, male or transgender adults and young persons who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services on either a regular or occasional basis.” Most countries in South and Central America do not explicitly criminalize sex work.&nbsp; Yet, as many speakers during the meeting stressed, this doesn’t equate with freedom from stigma, discrimination or police harassment.&nbsp; Indeed, context is everything. </p> <p>In describing the situation of sex workers in Latin America, a number of speakers noted that in Latin America, sex work is not prohibited, but it isn’t permitted either. In saying this, they raised a critical issue for conversations about criminalization and decriminalization.&nbsp; While sex work is not a criminal offense in most of South and Central America, it also is not <a href="http://www.redtrasex.org/publicaciones/STUDY-ON-STIGMA-AND-DISCRIMINATION/index.html">considered to be a legitimate form of work</a>. Removing sex work from criminal codes is a critical part of improving the lives of sex workers and to their access to justice and to services.&nbsp; However, such a change in criminal laws is one step only in a process of ensuring that sex workers can exercise and enjoy their human rights.&nbsp; </p> <p>The process of ensuring access to services and access to justice for sex workers is similar to the situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in many countries. For sex workers of all genders, as well as people who engage in same sex conduct, discrimination has a strong impact on their everyday activities.&nbsp; Moreover, the persecution they face and the institutional violence they experience does not depend on their criminal or decriminalized status.&nbsp; Rather, the pervasiveness of stigma and social sanction results in harassment, extortion, and violence perpetrated by the police, the criminal justice system and by families and communities.&nbsp; </p> <p>Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers of all genders, people who engage in same sex conduct, and people whose gender identity transgresses social and cultural norms is validated.&nbsp; As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health reported, criminalization authorizes and normalizes <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=Special+Rapporteur+on+the+Right+of+Everyone+to+the+Enjoyment+of+the+Highest+Attainable+Standard+of+Physical+and+Mental+Health%2C+Report%2C+U.N.+Human+Rights+Council%2C+U.N.+Doc.+A%2FHRC%2F14%2F20+%C2%B6+1+(Apr.+27%2C+2010)%2C+available+at+http%3A%2F%2Fw">punitive laws and practices</a>. And it makes it more difficult to demand rights and redress.&nbsp; And it authorizes a range of abuses that operate outside of the criminal law, and instead through a series of regulations and ordinances that have a significant impact on sex workers’ lives, such as “vagrancy,” “loitering,” “obscenity,” and the like.&nbsp; On these vague and mutable ground<a href="http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2014UPRReportBPPPDASWOPNYC1.pdf.">, sex workers face harassment, extortion and sexual assault, especially by the police</a>. &nbsp;Some countries do not directly criminalize the exchange of sex for remuneration, <a href="https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/14539/3/Pitcher%20Wijers%20Impact%20regulatory%20models%20CCJ%20Apr%202014.pdf.">but they continue to criminalize all surrounding activities, including soliciting or “brothel-keeping</a>” (at times defined as two or more sex workers operating together), thus making it impossible for sex workers to avoid breaking a law. </p> <p>Sex workers note that anti-trafficking legislation and health regulations can significantly circumscribe their ability to exercise their rights.&nbsp; In many countries, the police routinely conflate sex work and trafficking and, as a result, use anti-trafficking laws to harass and penalize sex workers. The Global Network of Sex Work Projects describes the hype about trafficking that is often stoked around global sports events.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.nswp.org/sites/nswp.org/files/SW%20is%20Not%20Trafficking.pdf">They explain</a> “At the World Cup event held in Germany in 2006, unsubstantiated reports claimed that tens of thousands of women would be trafficked for the event, despite prostitution being legal in Germany. When the Berlin police raided over seventy brothels, no evidence of trafficking was found.”&nbsp; They comment that similar “sex panics” were whipped up at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the London Olympics in 2012.</p> <p>In other countries, health regulations are the mode of transmitting stigma and discrimination.&nbsp; For instance, in <a href="http://www.redtrasex.org/publicaciones/STUDY-ON-STIGMA-AND-DISCRIMINATION/index.html">a report on 15 countries in South and Central America</a>, RedTraSex recounts how in one clinic designed specifically for sex workers in Costa Rica, the staff person denigrates the women as they enter the clinic.&nbsp;&nbsp; In this case, because sex work is not criminalized, sex workers organized to address the mistreatment.</p> <p>The mixed status – not prohibited by not permitted – has led to innovative organizing strategies by sex workers.&nbsp; For instance, Girasoles (“Sunflowers”) is an organization of women sex workers in Nicaragua.&nbsp; In 2015, they launched a project in which Girasoles members are trained to <a href="http://redtrasex.org/spip.php?article2295">be judicial facilitators</a>.&nbsp; This initiative is done in collaboration with the justice system, so that the Girasoles members are formally recognized as “auxiliaries” by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).&nbsp; In this capacity, Girasoles judicial facilitators provided services to several hundred individuals and presented a formal report to the CSJ.</p> <p>In Colombia, sex workers are reclaiming their right to the city. <a href="http://www.nswp.org/featured/parces-ngo-colombia">PARCES is an organization of sex workers of all genders, based in Bogotá, Colombia</a>.&nbsp; Much of their work focuses on documentation in a context in which sex work is legal but sex workers, especially trans sex workers, face constant violence and harassment. In this project, “Reclaiming the Right to the City,” PARCES members document human rights violations against sex workers and other people on the streets, primarily by the police. It is important to note that not only is sex work legal in Colombia, but it is also <a href="http://www.nswp.org/featured/parces-ngo-colombia">recognized as decent work in Colombia’s Constitution</a>. </p> <p>The debate about sex work and decriminalization can be quite fractious.&nbsp; In the context of HIV, <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/series/hiv-and-sex-workers">evidence overwhelming points</a> to the negative impact of criminalization on sex workers’ health. <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(14)60931-4.pdf">Indeed, as one of the most extensive epidemiological studies of sex work and HIV notes</a>, “Decriminalization of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of HIV infections in the next decade.”&nbsp;&nbsp; Moreover, we also know the ways in which governments use criminal laws not just to contain and regulate the lives of individuals, but they also use it to circumscribe the work of civil society organizations working on these issue.&nbsp; </p> <p>Such efforts to control and minimize the impact of civil society links efforts on decriminalization across issues areas and movements, and especially those focusing on criminalization of sexuality, sexual conduct and sexual and reproductive rights. It is imperative, in this context, to build and strengthen cross-movement collaboration, now, more than ever.</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/susana-t-fried-sonia-correa/amnesty-international-should-sex-work-be-decriminalized">Amnesty International: should sex work be decriminalized? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/sws/giulia-garofalo-geymonat-pg-macioti/sex-workers-speak-who-listens">Sex workers speak: who listens?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aziza-ahmed-jm-kirby/preventing-hiv-decriminalisation-of-sex-work">Preventing HIV: the decriminalisation of sex work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/anne-gathumbi/helping-sex-workers-help-themselves">Helping sex workers help themselves</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nada-mustafa-ali/hope-pain-and-patience-hiv-and-sex-workers">Hope, pain and patience: HIV and sex workers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/international-committee-on-rights-of-sex-workers-in-europe/amnesty-international-adopt">Amnesty International: adopt the proposed policy on sex work</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/susana-t-fried/crosstalk-linking-across-areas-of-criminalization">Crosstalk: HIV and linking across areas of criminalisation</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> </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 Civil society 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy feminism women's health women's work Susana T. Fried Thu, 15 Dec 2016 08:33:27 +0000 Susana T. Fried 107692 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Sharia debate in the UK: who will listen to our voices? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/pragna-patel/sharia-debate-who-will-listen-to-us <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Over 300 abused women have signed a statement opposing Sharia courts and religious bodies, warning of the growing threat to their rights and to their collective struggles for security and independence.</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/501857/SBS-Statement-by-abused-BME-women-2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/SBS-Statement-by-abused-BME-women-2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>We are women who have experienced abuse and violence in our personal lives. Most of us come from Muslim backgrounds, but some of us come from other minority faiths. </p> <p>We are compelled to voice our alarm about the growing power of religious bodies such as Sharia Councils and their bid for control over our lives. We oppose any religious body - whether presided over by men or women - that seeks to rule over us: because they do not have any authority to speak or make decisions on our behalf and because they are not committed to women’s rights and social justice. Whether we are women of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian faiths or of no faith, we have much in common with each other in the face of cruelty, tyranny and discrimination in our families, in our communities, and in the wider society. Many of us are deeply religious, but for us religion is in our hearts: a private matter between us and our God. Religion is not – and must not be – something that can be used to deny us our freedom or the little pieces of happiness that we find by mixing and borrowing from many different traditions and cultures which give meaning to our otherwise difficult existence. </p> <p>We know from personal experiences that many religious bodies such as Sharia Councils are presided over by hard line or fundamentalist clerics who are intolerant of the very idea that women should be in control of their own bodies and minds. These clerics claim to be acting according to the word of God: but they are often corrupt, primarily interested in making money and abuse their positions of power by shaming and slandering those of us who reject those aspects of our religions and cultures that we find oppressive. We pay a huge price for not submitting to domestic violence, rape, polygamy and child abuse and other kinds of harm. For this reason alone, we are fearful of religious laws and rulings from such bodies. Our experience in our countries of origin and in our communities tells us that they are deeply discriminatory and divisive. They will weaken our collective struggles for security and independence. </p> <p>We struggle to fit into this country and to educate our children, especially our daughters, and to protect them and give them a better life. We struggle to have our experiences of violence and abuse addressed properly in accordance with the principles of equality and justice for all. We do not wish to be judged by reference to fundamentalist codes that go against our core values of compassion, tolerance and humanity. We do not want to go backwards or to be delivered back into the hands of our abusers and those who shield them. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/SBS-Statement-by-abused-BME-women-3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/SBS-Statement-by-abused-BME-women-3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Many of us have not made public comments on this issue, because we are afraid of the consequences of doing so openly. All of us have faced abuse and we are desperately trying to rebuild our lives in the face of constant and continuing threats and trauma. Some of us have used only our first names to support this statement, but we feel strongly enough about this matter to do so. </p> <p>We do not want Sharia Councils or other religious bodies to rule our lives. We demand the right to be valued as human beings and as equals before one law for all. We demand the right to follow our own desires and aspirations. </p><p><strong>Signed by the following:</strong> </p> <p>Bekhal Mahmod, Sister of victim of honour killing and survivor of honour killing. User of Southall Black Services (SBS) services</p> <p>Afsana Lachaux, Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kiranjit Ahluwalia,Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ravinder Kaur, Sister of victim of honour killing. User of SBS services</p> <p>Swinder Singh, Sister of victim of honour killing. User of SBS services</p> <p>Geeta Nazmi, Sister of victim of honour killing. User of SBS services</p> <p>"Nina Ather", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"H. Ahmed", Survivor of domestic violence and honour based violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Yasmin Hussein, Survivor of forced marriage. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sabah, Survivor of domestic violence and abandonment.&nbsp; User of SBS Services</p> <p>Yasmin Aijaz, Survivor of domestic violence and honour based violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ayesha, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Tayiba Shah, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Madiha Shah, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Namra Khan, Survivor of domestic violence and honour based violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Fateha Ali, Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses.User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nimo Abdulahi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Syeda Akbar, Survivor of domestic violence, honour based violence, Sharia Court abuses and victim of a fatwa issued by an Imam. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Salina Akter Ali Bebum, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shabana Chaudhary, Survivor of domestic violence and sexual grooming. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Tracy", Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Hiba Akhtar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sadia Khan, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Joelle Pott, Survivor of domestic and sexual violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Munir Ibrahim, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rubia", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rubina", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Farah Wyne, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ayesha Asghar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jane Doe", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shamsi Bokharisaz Hagiahghei, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS&nbsp;&nbsp; Services</p> <p>"Nabila", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Sara H", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Hiba N", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Soraya Arian, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Faith Pink, Survivor of domestic violence, forced marriage and honour based violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Aneesa K", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Anaya Jamal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Yousra Abdulla, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Fatima Rafeek, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Asgari Ebrahim, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Madihah Ebraim, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>Amirah Ebrahim, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>"Leila H.", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"M. H.", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"D.H", Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>"Nadia Khan", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Refat Begum, Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Iram Shah Nawaz, Survivor of domestic violence and forced marriage. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Shamim Akhtar", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"N. Karim", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nosheen Anwar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ayesha Rahman, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Amber", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Munira Quraish, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Malaika M", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Suhilla Ahmed,&nbsp; Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rabia G", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"N.J", Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>Amina Fajal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Anjumben Virani, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Amal Jamac, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Sara Malik", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Falak Khan", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shahida Iqbal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kulsoom Riaz, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rekha Kumar", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Gihan Dessouky, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Zaynub Hasina", Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>"Saima", Survivor of domestic violence and abandonment</p> <p>"Neelam", Survivor of domestic violence and abandonment</p> <p>"Rukhshana", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Mehnaz Ali, Survivor of domestic and sexual violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Mubeen S.", Survivor of domestic violence, forced marriage and abandonment.&nbsp; User of SBS Services</p> <p>Suraya Ahmed, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jannat", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Zartasha Azeem, Survivor of domestic volence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ayesha, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Hena Zaman, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Saida, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nadia F, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Syeda Neshat Jahan, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Shazia", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Maida Mansoor, Survivor of domestic and sexual violence.&nbsp; User of SBS services.&nbsp; </p> <p>"Ameena Mohammed", survivor of domestic violence and forced marriage.&nbsp; User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Muneera Shaam", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shahrukh Hussain, Witness to domestic violence and sexual, emotional and financial abuse</p> <p>Salma Emara Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Laboni Khondokar", Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of Nari Diganta services</p> <p>"Shirin Islam", Survivor of domestic violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of Nari Diganta Services</p> <p>"Sanjida Ahmed", Survivor of domestic violence. User of Nari Diganta Services </p> <p>"Nazmoon Nahar", Survivor of honour based violence.&nbsp; User of Nari Diganta Services</p> <p>Kully Malhi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Alice Vahdat, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Halina Marasinghe, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Ms D", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services </p> <p>Helena Kamra, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>Maria Laurenco, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Ms Lola", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Patricia Waterkemper, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Tina Tanna, Witness to domestic violence. </p> <p>Mamta Anand, Witness to domestic violence. </p> <p>Dorothy Udealor, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Annabella Ferreira, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Genevieve Lobo, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Alicia John, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Keisha Douglas, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Helen T", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Lauren Robeson, Survivor of domestic and sexual violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Elena Villarreal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jollie Joyce", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ronell Jacobs, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Elsie Blake, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shemika Joseph, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Delrosa Williams, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Marlene Folson, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Mithula Mariyathas, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Tina Hos", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nikova Webb, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jasmine", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Grace Wilson, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Jennifer, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Aisha Habib, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rebecca N, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Violet Antuan, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Agnes, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Razia, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Niru Prajapati, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sonia Devshi, Witness to domestic violence. </p> <p>Avni Maisuria, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Renu Khosla, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Jasmin Dhirajlal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Vaibhavi Szyszka, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kohilarani Kulalayagam, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Amritpal Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Shveta M.", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Vibha, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nabila Mujassam, Maan Witness to domestic violence, honour based violence and Sharia Court abuses. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sehur Chowdhary, Witness to domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rehana Zaman, Witness to domestic violence</p> <p>Mayuraben R Patel, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Anjali Makwana, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rekha Manani, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Jalpaben Pandya, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ganga Karki, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sunny Chhetri, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Zaynub McMurran, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>"P. Josh", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Alpa Patel, Survivor of domestic violence and forced marriage. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Teena Gupta, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rani V. Papi", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ruja Thapa ,Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kirti,Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jo",&nbsp; Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sonam Madhaan, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>S. Devi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Christine", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"R.K", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"R.S", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Seema Banga, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Saima", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Nisha F", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Resham", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Madhu, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shantini Chettiar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Balbir Kaur Hans, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>Rupinder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Gurdeep Jaggi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rupseshwar Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Manjeet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Savita Parmar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Maninder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jane", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Deepika", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"April Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kiranpreet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"May Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Jagkit Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence, harassment and stalking. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sudharshan Daffu, Survivor of domestic violence and criminal damages. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Navjot Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Harpreet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Kanwaljeet Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Sonia Singh", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Navdeep Rana, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"M.B", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Navjot Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Anita Anita, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Noori Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Suman Sund, Survivor of domestic violence. Ex-user of SBS Services</p> <p>"Baljit Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Baljeet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Parveen Aujal, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sukhwinder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kiranjit Talwar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Darshan Kaur", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Rose", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Harjeet Dhillon", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rajwinder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sawinder Das, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Raminder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kamalpreet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Manpreet Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Jasmin Kaur, Witness to domestic violence. User at SBS Services</p> <p>Tavnish Bajwa, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Aman", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rupinder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Jaswinder Kaur Kansall, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Sabrina, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ruby Ali, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Hind Elhinnawy, Survivor of domestic violence and financial abuse. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Nasima Chowdhury", Survivor of domestic violence and honour based violence. User of Nari Diganta services</p> <p>“Razia Begum”, Survivor of domestic violence, polygamy and Sharia Court abuses. User of Nari Diganta services</p> <p>"Rhea Ali", Survivor of Polygamy and Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Mrs Jabeen", Survivor of polygamy and Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Mrs Farhat Khan", Survivor of polygamy and domestic violence. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Ms Nadia Sadiq", Survivor of Sharia Court abuses.&nbsp; User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Mrs Soffina Rind", Survivor of Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Mrs Sajida Choudhury”, Survivor of ‘triple talaq’ (unilateral divorce) and Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>"Habiba Jaan", Witness to polygamous marriage and survivor of domestic violence. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Shabnam Khan, Witness to domestic violence and polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs T Khan, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Samina Javed, Survivor of domestic violence and polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Kanwal Hussain, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Parveen Khan, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Miss Komal Iqbal, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Miss Tanya Mahmood, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Miss Alisha Iqbal, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Mehvish, Witness of polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Four Choudary sisters, Witness to polygamy, ‘triple talaq’ and Sharia Court abuses. Users of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Saeeda Choudary, Survivor of polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Zohra Haq, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Tabassum Begum, Witness to polygamy and Islamic divorce in Sharia Courts. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Bajis Neighbour, Witness to ‘triple talaq’ and polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Kiran Dhanjal, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Nighat Hussain, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’ and domestic violence. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Mrs Selina Khan, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Einas Bassim, Survivor of domestic violence. User of Safety4Sisters services</p> <p>"Shazia T", Asylum seeker and survivor of domestic violence. User of Safety4Sisters services</p> <p>"Naz", Asylum seeker and survivor of domestic violence and. User of Safety4Sisters services</p> <p>"Amina", Survivor of domestic violence. Volunteer at Safety4Sisters</p> <p>"Dorcas", Survivor of domestic violence. User of Safety4Sisters services </p> <p>"Diane Pokua", Survivor of domestic violence. User of Safety4Sisters services </p> <p>"Sadia K", Survivor of domestic violence and asylum seeker. User of Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) services.</p> <p>"Fahret Khan", Founder of WAST, survivor of domestic violence.</p> <p>"Rutendo", Survivor of domestic violence. User of WAST Safety4Sisters services </p> <p>"Roze Lea", Survivor of domestic violence. User of WAST services</p> <p>Maimuna Ibrahim, Survivor of domestic violence. User of WAST services</p> <p>"Malvina B", Survivor of domestic violence. User of Safety4Sisters services</p> <p>"Angela", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Yegana Mammadova, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Neha Naghar, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Kamaldeep Dhesi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Beverley Hoskins", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Julie Zhang, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Deepa", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shahana Shanu, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Casherral Beltran, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Gabriella Aman", Survivor of domestic violence and trafficking. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nurjahan Ali, Survivor of forced marriage. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"A.M", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Vanessa Tigenoah, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>"Archie", Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rosana Ikeji, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Susan M., Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shaban Afzal, Witness to polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Shazia Hobbs, Survivor of polygamy. User of One Law for All Services</p> <p>Maryam, Survivor of domestic violence and abandonment. User of SBS services</p> <p>"Merita S", Survivor of domestic violence. User of WAST services</p> <p>Syeda Jahan, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS services</p> <p>"Sarah", Survivor of forced marriage, domestic violence and financial abuse. User of SBS services</p> <p>Blessing, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Mamie Malundama, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Theresa Osei, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ravendro Lall, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Fatima Akbar, Witness to domestic violence. User of SBS Services&nbsp; </p> <p>Evelyn Yaghoubi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Samina”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Ash”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nergiz Bekam, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ashima Arora, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Parmjit Soor, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Anam Azam, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Simi”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Mahnoor”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Hema Joshi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Inderjit Kaur, Witness to domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Rajwant Virdee, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Anna”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Maliha, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Sarah”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Laila”, Survivor of forced marriage and domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>“Georgina T”, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Selamawit Tadesse, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Nazia Shabbir, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Stella Appana, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Farnaz Moghanchi, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Ranjeet, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Shama Haram, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Gurvinder Kaur, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p>Tahia, Survivor of domestic violence. User of SBS Services</p> <p><strong>Supported by:</strong></p> <p>Mr Imran Khan, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr K Khan, Witness to Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr Zaid Hussain, Witness to polygamy. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr R Tahir, Survivor of polygamous family and witness to Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr Hader Mahmood, Father of three daughters who wishes to protect them from polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr Dawood Azhar, Against practice of polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Mr G. Choudary, Father of 4 daughters who wishes to protect them from practice of polygamy and ‘triple talaq’ and witness to Sharia Court abuses. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Dr Shaaz Hussian, Father of daughters - against practice of polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All services.</p> <p>Dr Amer Mukhtar, Father of daughter - against practice of polygamy and ‘triple talaq’. User of One Law for All services.</p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>This article is published in conjunction with a piece in Comment is Free entitled</em>: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/14/sharia-courts-family-law-women">Sharia courts have no place in UK family law. Listen to women who know. </a></p><p><em>Read more than 70 articles in openDemocracy's series on<strong> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-frontline-voices-against-muslim-fundamentalism">Frontline Voices Against Fundamentalism </a></strong><br /></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/rahila-gupta/one-woman-s-brush-with-sharia-courts-in-uk">One woman’s brush with Sharia courts in the UK: &quot;It ruined my life forever&quot; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/pragna-patel-gita-sahgal/whitewashing-sharia-councils-in-uk">Whitewashing Sharia councils in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gita-sahgal/sharia-security-and-church-in-uk-dangers-of-home-office-inquiry-into-sharia">Sharia, security and the church: dangers of the British Home Office Inquiry </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/transnational-marriage-abandonment-new-form-of-violence-against-women">Transnational marriage abandonment: A new form of violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/feminism-and-soul-of-secularism">Feminism and the soul of secularism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/use-and-abuse-of-honour-based-violence-in-uk">The use and abuse of honour based violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/%27shariafication-by-stealth%27-in-uk">&#039;Shariafication by stealth&#039; in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasmin-rehman/refusing-to-recognise-polygamy-in-west-solution-or-soundbite">Refusing to recognise polygamy in the West: a solution or a soundbite?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/faith-know-thy-place">Faith: know thy place</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-devi-leiper-o%27malley/young-feminists-resisting-tide-of-fundamentalisms">Young feminists: resisting the tide of fundamentalisms</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hannana-siddiqui/lasting-change-to-end-honour-based-violen">What will it take to end honour based violence in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/gita-sahgal/secular-space-bridging-religious-secular-divide">Secular space: bridging the religious-secular divide?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sajda-mughal/forced-marriage-in-uk-hidden-from-view">Forced marriage in the UK: hidden from view </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/freedom-to%E2%80%99-and-freedom-from%E2%80%99-rebalancing-tension-in-favour-of-gender-equality">Freedom &#039;to’ and freedom &#039;from’: rebalancing the tension in favour of gender equality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">Due diligence for women&#039;s human rights: transgressing conventional lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shirin-ebadi/shirin-ebadi-who-defines-islam">Shirin Ebadi: who defines Islam?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ani-zonneveld/progressive-muslims-in-world-of-isis-and-islamophobes">Progressive Muslims in a world of ISIS and Islamophobes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune-deniz-kandiyoti/your-fatwa-does-not-apply-here">Your fatwa does not apply here</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti-gita-sahgal/soft-law-and-hard-choices-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">&#039;Soft law&#039; and hard choices: a conversation with Gita Sahgal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sukhwant-dhaliwal-chitra-nagarajan-rashmi-varma/feminist-dissent-why-new-journal-on-gender-and-">Feminist Dissent: why a new journal on gender and fundamentalism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deepa-shankaran/right-to-have-rights-resisting-fundamentalist-orders">The right to have rights: resisting fundamentalist orders</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/musawah-solidarity-in-diversity">Musawah: solidarity in diversity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/email/musawah-there-cannot-be-justice-without-equality">Musawah: there cannot be justice without equality </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasmin-rehman/muslim-women-and-met-only-pawn-in-their-game">Muslim women and the Met: Only a pawn in their game</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasmin-rehman/death-in-woolwich-case-of-d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu">Death in Woolwich: a case of déjà vu?</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> </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 UK Equality 50.50 Frontline voices against fundamentalism Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy feminism fundamentalisms gender justice violence against women women's human rights young feminists Pragna Patel Wed, 14 Dec 2016 08:03:27 +0000 Pragna Patel 107566 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago: guardians of culture, tradition and the stability of the home https://www.opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The islands were&nbsp;<em>‘swept and&nbsp;sanitised’</em>. An albatross/ was spared, and the order given: ‘…<em>a few man fridays...must go</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/541754/photo.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Chagossian protesters outside 10 Downing Street (Photo: Saradha Soobrayen)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/photo.JPG" alt="Chagossian protesters outside 10 Downing Street (Photo: Saradha Soobrayen)" title="Chagossian protesters outside 10 Downing Street (Photo: Saradha Soobrayen)" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chagossian protesters outside 10 Downing Street (Photo: Saradha Soobrayen)</span></span></span></p><p>Extract from <em>‘</em><em>Sounds Like Root Shock’</em>: a poetic inquiry into the depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Guardians of culture, tradition and the stability of the home</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>'</strong><em>Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby</em>.’</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her deepest sleep, Madam Lisette Talate returns to Chagos,</p> <p>leaving the Mauritian slums, where so many continue to follow</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>her example, standing in protest against the lies and chaos&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>orchestrated by the officials, who claimed there were no</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>indigenous people on Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos,</p> <p>none on the sibling islands of Salomon, Egmont, and so</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>the islands were&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>‘swept and&nbsp;sanitised’</em>. An albatross</p> <p>was spared, and the order given: ‘…<em>a few man fridays...must go</em>’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The slave ancestors who fished, loved and prayed across</p> <p>the centuries, the generations who dried the copra,&nbsp;<em>coco</em>,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>extracting oil from the kernel of the nut, even the boss</p> <p>of the copra plantation struggled to see over the rainbow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the main island of Diego Garcia, the US base,<em>&nbsp;Camp Justice</em></p> <p>squats.<em>&nbsp;</em>The Chagossians are still chanting, ‘<em>Rann nu Diego’</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>thirty, forty years later, fighting for the right to return. Their loss</p> <p>is unimaginable, these guardians of the Chagos Archipelago</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Their homecoming is not yet out of reach, not yet out of sight</strong></p> <p><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home, a long way from home ’</em></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>The Archipelago is not where one man lived but is where</p> <p>they all remember living. Remembering is like that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Memory—a sliding door between adjoining rooms,</p> <p>old and young Chagos hearts, co-habiting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What were the last things you remember?</p> <p>The man appears wide-eyed. Only 4 or 5 years old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every time he slides out a memory, a child slips back,</p> <p>and boards the boat. The man considers what the child</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>knew then—the forced removal—the longing to return.</p> <p>The Archipelago remembers him as a boy and each generation</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>is charged to remember the Archipelago. The past is tidal</p> <p>in their minds or shall I say in their souls while the land waits</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>to recover the older selves,&nbsp;<em>tonton, tantinn, gran-per, gran-mer,</em></p> <p>a dying community, separated by unseen things,&nbsp;spirit from sea,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>hope from land and yet united by wishful thinking, mouth</p> <p>by mouth, their communal truths told in one continuous breath.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>‘UK ambassador lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition’</strong></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>What gives Diego Garcia its unique identity is not where it is situated </p> <p>geographically – south of the equator, 2200 miles east of the coast </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>of Africa and 1000 miles south-west of the southern tip of India––</p> <p>but how it is situated in the minds of the politicians who tell it slant, </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>circumnavigating the facts and the fiction: ‘embarrassed Miliband </p> <p>admits two US rendition flights refueled on British soil’––the legal minds </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>finding joy in metaphor and irony: ‘the land where human rights </p> <p>hardly ever happened’, Richard Gifford, lawyer for the Chagossians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Clive Stafford Smith, human rights campaigner: ‘on Diego Garcia </p> <p>you may be arrested for violating the rights of a Warty Sea Slug…</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>but no-one will object if you land a plane with a kidnapped, shackled,</p> <p>hooded man trapped in a coffin shaped box’. Legal expert, Peter H Sands: </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘a legal black hole’—Political Scientist, Peter Harris: ‘reforming Diego Garcia</p> <p>is entirely within the grasp of those in London. It is high time that action</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>was taken to do the right thing’—his paper ‘America's Other Guantánamo: </p> <p>British Foreign Policy and the US Base on Diego Garcia’ telling it simply.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Acknowledgements:</strong></p> <p>Over the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen and Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg (1939)</p> <p>Sometimes I feel like a motherless child from <em>American Negro Spirituals</em> by J. W. Johnson, J. R. Johnson, (1926)</p> <p>‘UK ambassador lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition’ <em>The Observer</em>, (16 August 2014)</p> <p>‘Embarrassed Miliband admits two US rendition flights refueled on British soil’ <em>Guardian</em>, (22 February 2008)</p> <p>Peter Harris. America's Other Guantánamo: British Foreign Policy and the US Base on Diego Garcia’© The Author 2015. </p> <p>The Political Quarterly © The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd. 2015 Published by John Wiley &amp; Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA</p> <p>Extract of ‘Sounds Like Root Shock’ originally published in the Long Poem Magazine Issue 14, Autumn 2015</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>See website for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chagossupport.org.uk/single-post/2016/12/10/Chagossian-struggle-marked-on-Human-Rights-Day?utm_source=Newsletter+Subscribers&amp;utm_campaign=0466a96d56-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_12_08&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_6f3f8212b4-0466a96d56-282202605">more information</a> about forthcoming Chagos Support activities including a protest at the Foreign Office in London which will take place from 10am-5pm on 16 December 2016.&nbsp;</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/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-charlotte-eagar-georgina-paget/trojan-women-in-twenty-first-century-women-in-wa">Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/militarism-and-non-state-actors-%E2%80%98-other-invasion%E2%80%99">Militarism and non-state actors: ‘the other invasion’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/graham-peebles/displacement-intimidation-and-abuse-land-loyalties-in-ethiopia">Displacement, intimidation and abuse: land loyalties in Ethiopia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fatou-gu%C3%A8ye/senegal-land-belongs-to-those-who-work-it">Senegal: the land belongs to those who work it </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/clearing-ground-planting-seeds-of-our-africa">Clearing ground: planting the seeds of Our Africa</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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 newsletter Saradha Soobrayen Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:23:16 +0000 Saradha Soobrayen 107576 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Deaths, deportations and arrests: violence against migrants in Morocco https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lily-jay/deaths-deportations-and-arrests-violence-against-migrants-in-morocco <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>EU policy is blocking routes to Europe for those suffering from the neocolonial and capitalist exploitation and nurturing of conflicts throughout Africa by western countries.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/th_sdc10158.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/th_sdc10158.jpg" alt="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)" title="Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Interception of migrants on the Moroccan/Spain border. (Photo: Beating Borders, 2014)</span></span></span>"We are in Morocco</em></p> <p><em>Here, many Blacks have lost their lives</em></p> <p><em>Here, it's Boukhalef</em></p> <p><em>The Moroccans call us </em>azzia<em></em></p> <p><em>They talk about us to scare their children</em></p> <p><em>And when they see us they flee</em></p> <p><em>Oh oh, it hurts us".</em></p> <p>Written by the Senegalese musician and no borders activist living in Tangier, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/xelu-baye-fall">Xelu Baye Fall</a>, these words (translated from Wolof) are written “for all the people who have died at the border/For all the people who have died at the fences." The song is about <a href="http://www.h24info.ma/maroc/scandaleux-apres-le-meurtre-des-expulsions-illegales/26906#.VAXyk9Uj2xA.gmail">Charles Paul Alphonse Ndour</a>, a 26 year-old Senegalese man who was killed by Moroccan men in Tangier in August 2014. The lyrics reference the racism and violence experienced daily in Morocco by sub-Saharan Africans. “Azzia”, meaning black-skinned, is a derogatory term used primarily against sub-Saharans, along with the taunt “Ebola”.</p> <p>It is crucial to connect the everyday racism experienced by sub-Saharans in Morocco with the overt racism of the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/04/spain-year-no-justice-migrant-deaths">deadly</a> EU border regime: the militarisation of the border as the EU spends millions to build fences (in 2015 Morocco built a fourth <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-migrants-melilla-idUSKCN0RH1QO20150917">razor wire fence and deep trench at</a> the border to Melilla with EU funding), the refusal of a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/alarmphone/ferries-not-frontex-10-points-to-really-end-deaths-of-migrants-at-sea">safe passage</a> to Europe to avoid the deaths of thousands at sea, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jackie-long/%27headbutt-bitch%27-serco-guard-yarl%E2%80%99s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">detaining</a> people who do reach Europe in prison-like conditions. It was, after all, the colonial powers of Europe <a href="http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/trans-saharan-migration-north-africa-and-eu-historical-roots-and-current-trends">who were the first to impose borders</a> across the Sahara where there had previously been none, stopping the previous high levels of migration that resulted in the collapse of trans-Saharan trade.</p> <p><strong>The outsourcing of European border control</strong></p> <p>As a key country of transit from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, Morocco has proven to be the most reliable partner out of all the countries in North Africa for the EU’s strategic policies of closing borders and controlling migration flows into Europe. Hidden behind a proclaimed humanitarian discourse of <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/morocco/index_en.htm">“supporting good governance and human rights”</a><strong> </strong>– <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/10/abused-and-expelled/ill-treatment-sub-saharan-african-migrants-morocco">daily (often violent) raids</a>, the <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/after-gourougou-and-boukhalef-destruction-of-migrants-camps-in-oujda/">destruction of migrant camps</a>, <a href="https://melillafronterasur.blogspot.de/">“hot deportations”</a> (the <a href="http://transformations-blog.com/migrant-mobility-the-contested-right-to-europe/">unlawful return</a> of migrants immediately after capture by the Spanish authorities before an asylum claim can be made), and <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/10/abused-and-expelled/ill-treatment-sub-saharan-african-migrants-morocco">inhumane deportations</a> to Morocco’s southern borders – are all carried out using money provided by the EU. It difficult to believe that EU member states are concerned for the development of civil society and integration of sub-Saharans in Morocco when they fail to offer adequate care for unaccompanied children within their own countries, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/27/calais-refugee-children-sleeping-rough-demolition-charities-france">as seen in Calais in recent weeks.</a></p> <p>The <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/morocco/index_en.htm">deals forged</a> between the EU and Morocco represent the neocolonialist outsourcing of border and migration controls from Europe to countries in Africa, whilst the former simultaneously avert their eyes from the human rights violations commited by state authorities – particularly sub-Saharan communities in the context of Morocco. These deals serve as a prototype for similar agreements, often made with dictators – who, <a href="http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no6/shell_nigeria.htm">as Shell has declared</a>, can often provide a “stable environment” in which investments and deals can be more easily brokered. Earlier this year, <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2016/05/europe-s-secret-deal-africa-s-dictators">The New Statesman</a> acquired documents regarding the EU’s secret plans to curtail migration from Africa, which openly acknowledged that they would face “criticism by NGOs and civil society for engaging with repressive governments on migration” including Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia – the former two both being investigated for war crimes by the UN and International Criminal Court.</p> <p>The very recognition of the governments of these countries as “repressive” highlights the EU’s explicit disregard for people migrating who would be classified as refugees under the European Convention of Human Rights. Rather, the EU is attempting to ensure that people suffering from the neocolonial exploitation and nurturing of conflicts throughout Africa by Western countries (Ivory Coast, Sudan, Central Africa, Congo, Libya) and many of Africa’s own repressive governments cannot escape. As noted by <a href="http://newirin.irinnews.org/extras/2015/7/28/morocco-the-forgotten-front-line-of-the-migrant-crisis">one Nigerian migrant</a> living in Morocco, “the Europeans taught it to us”, referring to how colonial European states acted as economic migrants en masse – exploiting and extracting resources and labour from their colonies.</p> <p>The offloading of responsibility onto countries such as Morocco permits people such as Juan José Imbroda, leader of the Spanish Melilla council, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/08/melilla-fences-spain-morocco-migration-europe">to declare:</a> “We’re no longer in the headlines for illegal immigration because it isn’t a problem any more” – while the hospital in <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/04/21/475079102/migrants-wait-in-a-moroccan-forest-for-a-chance-to-cross-into-europe">Nador</a> received over 742 people in 2014 for injuries sustained during attempts to cross the fences and the <a href="https://melillafronterasur.blogspot.de/">resulting violence</a> from Moroccan and Spanish authorities. <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-06-1121_en.htm">An arrangement</a> made between the EU and Morocco in 2006 – in which Morocco was given €67 million to strengthen its border controls – even allows EU member states to deport sub-Saharan migrants to Morocco rather than their country of origin.</p> <p><strong>Stuck in Morocco</strong></p> <p>Once in Morocco, people seeking to migrate find themselves trapped: they are neither able to enter Europe nor able to return to the country they travelled from. One woman, living in the makeshift camps in <a href="https://clandestinemorocco.wordpress.com/8-boukhalef/">Boukhalef</a> said, “We came here to pass through, not to stay, but we are stuck here…The Moroccans see us like sheep. They do not accept foreigners. There is no work or security for us in this country.”</p> <p>One year after the EU-Morocco Action plan was implemented in 2013 – approving a budget of €150 million for Morocco to create closer ties between the EU and Morocco – the <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/13/morocco-sets-unlikely-precedent-in-hosting-sub-saharan-migrants.html">regularisation program</a> was brought in. It lasted for one year from January 2014 and was heralded as an explicitly <a href="https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/05/158617/moroccan-regularization-program-a-gender-approach/">“humanitarian”</a> act by the Moroccan government and media.</p> <p>This masked the fact that the program – offering one year residency status – was selective and limited for sub-Saharan migrants. Many sub-Saharans were unable to prove that they had lived in Morocco for five years – the primary qualification needed – as it is common practice for police to stop people perceived to be sub-Saharan and strip them of their documents and deport them, in an attempt to give the impression that they are stemming migration flows into Europe. <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/sole-survivor-of-tragic-sea-crossing-blames-police-for-deaths-of-migrants/">Moroccan authorities are paid per migrant they “catch” by the EU</a>, allegedly to pay for the costs of “adequate” detention conditions, and deportation to one’s country of origin.</p> <p>However, many sub-Saharans living in Tangier – including those with regularisation status – describe the experience of being picked up by Moroccan officials who drive them to the sea, take details and a photo of them being caught “attempting to cross” to Europe as proof, and then drive them back to Tangier or further south within Morocco. The Moroccan police are accused of individually pocketing the money from the EU, raising questions about whether the EU should continue to fund these corrupt practices.</p> <p>Due to the regularisation program, a small number of sub-Saharan migrants are now theoretically able to access education, health and vocational support. However, daily structural and institutional discrimination and racism persist: many are still subjected to arbitrary arrests (regardless of whether they posses documents legalising their stay in Morocco or not) and are regularly denied employment opportunities or rental accommodation. <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/are-moroccan-gangsters-being-paid-to-beat-up-african-migrants-803">Individual and personal racism continued</a>; the fact that Charles Ndour had regularisation status in Morocco didn’t stop him from being attacked and killed.</p> <p>For example, after <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-spain-idUSKBN12V1H5">232 people managed to cross</a> into Ceuta (Spanish territory) on October 31st, Moroccan authorities <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com">responded with mass arrests</a> in Tangier a week later, injuring at least one person and holding over 80 people (all sub-Saharan) overnight in the police station, including people with UNHCR papers and valid passports (having stayed in Morocco for less than three months). 18 people were deported the next morning to Fez, a four-and-a-half hour drive away. Often the police take people’s phone, documents and any money the person has with them, so that when they are kicked out after a deportation they have none of their belongings with them or means to get back to Tangier.</p> <p>At the same time, the regularisation program has made it easier for the Moroccan government to monitor and persecute its citizens – as echoed in the words of Charki Draiss of the interior ministry <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/11/morocco-destroys-migrant-camps-melilla-spain-border">who asserted:</a> “We gave them many opportunities, and now if they don’t want to stay, Morocco will have to apply the law for the sake of security”. For these reasons, many who received the year-long residents card still want to reach Europe.</p> <p><strong>Arrests and deportations in the forests</strong></p> <p>Regular violations of human rights have carried on after the program. Early in February 2015, the Moroccan authorities <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/11/morocco-destroys-migrant-camps-melilla-spain-border">ambushed</a> migrant camps near the border to Mellila, <a href="https://vimeo.com/119286555">destroying and burning their camp and belongings</a>, and detaining over 1200 people including children. Three days later, raids, arrests and the total destruction of camps took place in numerous forests around Nador. Afterwards, many moved to forests further afield, and the Moroccan authorities continue to come and destroy the camps – where people live without access to drinking water or proper shelter – arresting and deporting people they find. Small material donations such as clothes or food, sent by supporters, are often intercepted and destroyed by police.</p> <p>As a result of these months of physical attacks and psychological terror, people living in the forests remain in a constant state of anxiety. One woman, living in a camp around Tangier said: “We live in the forest as if we were dead people… they treat us like animals… you cannot even sleep. Even if you rent an apartment, you have no security, then can come at any instant, break the door, burn your things, put you outside… it is total insecurity, especially for us, the women.”</p> <p>The developing European border regime – assisted by migration deterrence agency Frontex<strong> </strong>– demonstrates the active awareness with which the EU and its member states ensure that people cannot reach Europe or <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/2016-mediterranean-refugee-deaths-hit-record-3800-161026162734784.html">die trying</a>. But, regardless of how many new barriers are erected or border guards employed, <a href="https://www.youcaring.com/no-borders-morocco-675203#goto-fundraiser-details">resistance and the struggle for freedom of movement for everyone will continue.</a> People in Morocco dreaming of Europe are not going back; <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-spain-idUSKBN12V1H5">people continue to cross borders daily</a>. The increasing awareness with which Europe reinforces its borders is only resulting in <a href="https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/category/english/deaths-on-the-borders/">more fatalities</a> – deaths that lie in the hands of the EU and its member states.</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/vicki-squire/humanitarian-corridors-beyond-political-gesture">Humanitarian Corridors: beyond political gesture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alexandra-embiricos/back-way-to-europe-gambia-s-forgotten-refugees">The back way to Europe: Gambia’s forgotten refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/salma-refass/2016-moroccan-elections-past-never-happened">2016 Moroccan elections: the past never happened</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/mourning-dead-while-violating-living"> Mourning the dead while violating the living</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sadaf-rasheed/at-border"> The human search for a home</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emmanuel-blanchard/eu-forcing-politics-of-inhospitality-on-its-neighbours"> The EU and its neighbours: enforcing the politics of inhospitality </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nina-perkowski/more-frontex-is-not-answer-to-refugee-crisis">More Frontex is not the answer to the refugee crisis</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"> Morocco </div> <div class="field-item even"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ceuta </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"> 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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Ceuta Spain Morocco Civil society Conflict International politics 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Lily Jay Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:05:10 +0000 Lily Jay 107578 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Borderlands: words against walls https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both material and figurative walls are shaping our present. Now is the time for the arts and humanities to intervene with critical reflection and compassion into spaces of ‘crisis’<em>.&nbsp;</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_6.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Picture1_6.png" alt="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley" title="Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley" width="240" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pebble poetry. Photo: Agnes Woolley</span></span></span>The turmoil surrounding the presidential election in America has shaken the world: fear, terror, uncertainty and despair are some of the feelings generated by this new political turn, or what Cornel West has called a ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/17/american-neoliberalism-cornel-west-2016-election">catastrophe</a>’. Significantly, we are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/09/27-years-after-the-berlin-wall-fell-europe-wakes-up-to-a-president-elect-promising-one-of-his-own/">reminded</a> that ‘27 years after the Berlin Wall fell, Europe wakes up to a U.S. president-elect promising one of his own’. </p><p>Yet, another wall has already been erected in Calais, allegedly to<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/20/work-calais-wall-refugees-lorries-uk"> ‘stop refugees trying to board lorries to UK</a>’, while the Calais jungle in France has been shut down and evacuated, leaving many destitute and numerous unaccompanied children in limbo. As we witness the triumph of populism, racism and bigotry translated into a proliferation of frontiers and divisions, Gloria Anzaldúa’s <a href="https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Borderlands/La%20Frontera:%20The%20New%20Mestiza&amp;item_type=topic">words </a>from nearly three decades ago painfully resonate with our present times, which seem deaf to the harrowing cry of history: ‘the US-Mexican border <em>es una herida abierta </em>(an open wound) where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. […] Tension grips the inhabitants of the borderlands like a virus. Ambivalence and unrest reside there and death is no stranger’. The wall promised by Trump announces a curb on migration which will exponentially exacerbate already adverse and violent international migration politics and practices and, ultimately, disseminate fear. </p> <p>Nobel laurate Toni Morrison’s reflections in the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/21/aftermath-sixteen-writers-on-trumps-america#morrison">New Yorker</a> on this new political turn talk precisely of fear: ‘So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenceless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble’. Yet <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/no-place-self-pity-no-room-fear/">Morrison elsewhere reminds us</a> that while the ‘world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art’. In times of war and conflicts, the arts and humanities have played a vital role in enabling the healing process amongst communities, cultures and societies. As Gayatri Spivak says, the humanities <a href="https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/critical-intimacy-interview-gayatri-chakravorty-spivak/#!">‘are the healthcare system of cultures</a>’ and our work acquires an even more meaningful role in these times.</p> <p>Are we living through a period of crisis? It’s a term that has been used ubiquitously to describe current levels of migration and displacement. But what is the nature of the crisis we, in the West, are facing? Perhaps what’s going on is not so much a ‘refugee crisis’, but a crisis of values: a critical moment in our understanding of what we value as a society. This crisis of values has immobilised nation-states and intergovernmental bodies whose responses to current levels of migration in and around Europe’s borders has been increased militarisation and border controls, shady refugee exchange deals, and a reluctance to welcome refugees. <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9781509512164">Zygmunt Bauman</a> has called this a ‘crisis of humanity’ in his recent commentary <em>Strangers at Our Door.</em></p> <p>So, how can the arts and humanities help us in a crisis? Political theorist <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8079.html">Wendy Brown</a> makes the case for the importance of criticism and critical thinking at times of crisis. She notes the tendency to divide theory from practice by dismissing theorising as unnecessary at times of crisis. People say: “now’s not the time for theorising; we need action”. But, she says, the original Greek term – <em>Krisis</em> – describes a moment when urgent deliberation is required, when critique itself is urgent, or, from the same root ‘critical’. This sense still persists in medicine, when we say someone is in a ‘critical condition’. We also talk about a time being a ‘critical moment’. This sense of critical decision-making also extends to refugees themselves and the critical, often life-threatening, decisions they are making daily. Now, is perhaps a critical moment – one where urgent deliberation about Europe’s approach to refugees is required.</p> <p><a href="https://respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/sign-up-for-our-first-workshop/">The inaugural event of the network</a> engaged with the issue of ‘crisis’ and raised a number of other important questions: How can we enable productive collaborations on the issue of forced migration?; Who are the intended audiences of the artistic practices by or about refugees?; How can we create a third space for dialogue about refugees that is not political or personal, but <em>social</em>?</p> <p>Our aim was to share knowledge, skills and experience in the area of forced migration and we heard from academics, arts practitioners, and those who work in the voluntary sector. We gained valuable context in the form of the historical legacy of colonialism from Roger Bromley, who argued that a sense of history is a vital component of our response to crisis, and Neelam Srivastava raised important questions about contemporary and historical practices of commemoration for refugees, showing a clip from Dagmawi Yimer’s 2013 film <a href="https://vimeo.com/114343040"><em>Asmat/Names</em></a>. Taking us into the mechanics of seeking asylum, Anthony Good and <a href="http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/">Carolina Albuerne</a> spoke from their research and practice with asylum claimants, exposing the inadequacies of current systems for applying for asylum and raising crucial questions like: how can we get better at facilitating refugees to speak for themselves? What constitutes self-representation? And how can we be better advocates with a sense of our own positioning? Kristin Shirling, who has been working with <a href="http://goodchance.org.uk/">Good Chance</a> theatre in the Calais ‘Jungle’, voiced her strong support for the role of the arts in situations of crisis, arguing that when one is dehumanised, a place to ‘be a human being’ is vitally important. <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/">Detention Action’s</a> Jerome Phelps’s discussion of the spatialisation of power worked across scholarly and practice-based approaches to forced migration by grounding his comments in the campaign against the UK Government’s detention estate.</p> <p>An evening of poetry and film at Keele Hall (which, incidentally, had a brief incarnation as a refugee camp during WWII) forged connections between the arts and the ideas and questions that had arisen during the day. We heard from poets <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/james-sheard/1016642/">James Sheard</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">Saradha Soobrayen</a> and <a href="http://www.shearsman.com/browse-poetry-books-by-author-Robert-Hampson">Robert Hampson</a> and the audience were encouraged to participate through ‘Pebble Poetry’. Pebbles inscribed with words, phrases and thoughts from participants enabled mutual sharing and reflection on the meaning of welcome, arrival and displacement. Poetry was a means to collectively address the challenges of our present and to think about how our world is offering, or failing to offer, ‘refuge’. The pebbles will travel from Keele to Naples in Italy and to London – our next scheduled events – ultimately building a shore to safety and offering a welcome written in stone.</p> <p>Our project is fuelled by a renewed energy in these increasingly challenging times. As <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/no-place-self-pity-no-room-fear/">Toni Morrison</a> insists: ‘this is&nbsp;<em>precisely</em>&nbsp;the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal’.</p><p><em>Read <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">e</a><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">xtract</a> from&nbsp;‘Sounds Like Root Shock’: a poetic inquiry into the depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago by&nbsp;Saradha Soobrayen.</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/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/guardians-of-culture-tradition-and-stability-of-home">The depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago: guardians of culture, tradition and the stability of the home</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-charlotte-eagar-georgina-paget/trojan-women-in-twenty-first-century-women-in-wa">Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/lebanon%27s-refugees-resisting-hegemony-through-culture">Lebanon&#039;s refugees: resisting hegemony through culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/mourning-dead-while-violating-living"> Mourning the dead while violating the living</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gabriel/red-letter-days">Lampedusa: red letter days</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/philosophies-of-migration">Philosophies of migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/migrationsreconstructing-britishness-in-art">Migrations:reconstructing &#039;Britishness&#039; in art</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"> 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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Ideas Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Agnes Woolley Mariangela Palladino Mon, 12 Dec 2016 09:19:01 +0000 Mariangela Palladino and Agnes Woolley 107575 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.' https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/we-are-granddaughters-of-witches-you-weren-t-able-to-burn <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An art project on two narrow boats hitched together on a canal in northern England is celebrating co-dependency - countering both the racial divide and the massive cuts to women’s services.</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/501857/WP_20161103_16_30_56_Pro.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/WP_20161103_16_30_56_Pro.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'>The wall hanging seen through the window of the boat, Selina Cooper. Photo: Rahila Gupta</span></span></span></p> <p>I am going to visit <a href="https://www.idlewomen.org/">Idle Women</a>, an art project based on two narrow boats hitched together somewhere on the canals of Lancashire. When my train tickets arrive, stating destination, Burnley, my heart skips a beat. Why? Partly because my poor grasp of geography does not allow me to make the connection between the grimy reputation of Burnley with a romantic sojourn on the canals and partly the fear aroused by Burnley’s reputation for nurturing UKIP and the segregation of communities by race. I am about to discover that the art project aims to bridge the distance between these polarities.</p> <p>When I get there I find the boats are actually moored in Nelson, in a predominantly working-class Asian area of sloping, narrow streets with terraced houses, at the bottom of which appears to be a small park. As you turn into the park and walk down the muddy path, you come to the canal, totally invisible from the road, like a child’s magic world at the bottom of the garden. Nelson is one of the many small towns near Burnley, nestling in the shadow of the Pendle hills, infamous for its burning of witches in the 1600s which, according to <a href="https://libcom.org/files/Caliban%20and%20the%20Witch.pdf">Sylvia Federici</a>, ‘was a turning point in women‘s lives; it was the equivalent of the historic defeat … the cause of the downfall of the matriarchal world. For the witch-hunt destroyed a whole world of female practices, collective relations, and systems of knowledge that had been the foundation of women's power in pre-capitalist Europe, and the condition for their resistance in the struggle against feudalism.’ This too is connected with the art project, witches being a preoccupation of <a href="http://www.museumofnonparticipation.org/information.php">Karen Mirza’s</a>, currently artist-in-residence on one of the boats, who has designed a wall hanging with the words, ‘We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.’</p> <p>Cis O’Boyle and Rachel Anderson, the two artists who set up Idle Women felt, ‘a real sickness and exhaustion from working in the capitalist centre of the art world in London. The drive to produce products which were bigger and more ambitious and more expensive was about an artist’s ego.’ Rachel wanted to redress the inequality between artists and participants. She describes the last project she worked on at <a href="https://www.artangel.org.uk/">Artangel</a>, a cooking project with 80-year-old men, a theatre piece where the chef was an actor from East Enders. The designer used Farrow and Ball paint at £35 per tin to paint a piece of plywood and the people taking part lived on that kind of money in a whole week. ‘I thought I could work from within to change that, to hijack that, but found myself heading for a breakdown. At the same time, Cis and I observed an increased loss of women’s spaces including vital services like refuges.&nbsp; We felt frustrated about women’s representation in the arts, the lack of BME or lesbian women in the workforce, management, galleries and collections. We kept saying it was <em>their</em> fault. But who are <em>they</em>? Aren’t we <em>they</em>, so what can we do about it? We came up with the idea of a canal boat because we wanted autonomy over space and a space we could afford.’</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Rachel and Cis best LR.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Rachel and Cis best LR.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="462" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cis O’Boyle and Rachel Anderson, founders of the Idle Women project.</span></span></span></p> <p>I wondered about the name they had given the project, a name whose irony could be lost on misogynists. Its origins are indeed misogynist and the art project is trying to reclaim the words. When the men went to war during WWII and the canals were still a major form of transportation of coal, arms and ammunition, it was women who ran the canals and moved all the goods which entailed heavy labour. As Inland Waterway managed the canals, the women were given IW badges so that they could get access to secure spaces. They were immediately nicknamed Idle Women by the men. The project wanted to forefront this bit of forgotten history. </p> <p>Almost as soon as the boats were ready and the project was due to launch in September 2015, the central government announced budget cuts of 95 per cent to Lancashire county council! In that time, 45 libraries out of 73 have closed. Women’s health centres, services and refuges have disappeared. ‘We can see the first layer of it and the fallout is going to continue for a long time. From here I feel London is a totally different country,’ Rachel recalls from her time ensconced in London privilege. When they were moored in Church, on the edge of Accrington, so named because there’s a huge church there, even the church is boarded up. There are no shops. There is a very high unemployment rate. ‘But this area is rich in beauty, in friendliness and generosity. This was an area which was thriving during the Industrial revolution. Accrington had 12 picture houses at its height. The architecture shows you the beauty. Today, there are no public toilets; they’re doing refuse collection once a fortnight. When the Asian community arrived in the 70s and work was abundant, in social memory that was a very positive time. But what’s happened since is total segregation. Near the canal, Church is white. &nbsp;Across the main road, lives the Asian community but they don’t mingle – it’s really surprising.’</p> <p>These are the divides that the art project is navigating. They work with women at Humraaz, a South Asian women’s refuge and with Lancashire Women’s Aid which is meant for all women but in practice serves mostly white working-class women. They hold social events and invite women from both communities. ‘The first one we held was quite funny – at this end of the boat we had white and Asian teenagers, here white working-class women and there you had older Asian women – the boat was segregated like it’s out on the streets.’ In time, friendships were made across the racial divide but Rachel is hesitant to make too bold a claim about the permanence of the change they have brought about.</p> <p>At Humraaz, they run an all day, once weekly workshop where they might experiment with herbal tea-making to talk about stress or shadow puppetry to tell stories or walk along the towpath and stop to do a sketch. They have an associate programme in which artists are commissioned to do a specific piece of work within a less specified timeframe so, for example, Candice Purwen is documenting their work for a graphic novel she is working on. The art centre houses the artist-in-residence for three months at a time giving female artists, who have a social practice not a studio based artist like a painter, a paid supportive opportunity. &nbsp;They have had Mojisola Adebayo, the theatre maker and Martina Mullaney, photographer and writer, and currently Karen Mirza.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Screenshot 2016-11-29 10.59.44.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Screenshot 2016-11-29 10.59.44.png" 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'>A drawing from Candice Purwin’s graphic novel documenting the project.</span></span></span></p> <p>Karen is interested in intuition and exploring less celebrated types of knowledge.&nbsp;The Audre Lord quote, ‘As<em> women we have come to distrust the deepest power that rises from non-rational knowledge’ </em>is the guiding principle of her residency. She says that Pendle as ‘the historical site of the papist&nbsp;rebellions, working class labour struggles (industrial revolution &amp; slavery)&nbsp;and the 1612 witch trial’ dovetailed neatly with her growing interest, ‘into women's bodies as sites of resistance. I started to do research into Victorian mediumship through a class lens, working-class women and the parlour games of the elite/beneficiaries of Empire. This led me to Helen Duncan who was the last woman to be tried by the British state as a witch in 1944 under the 1735 witchcraft act. I came&nbsp;to Nelson to try to open up conversations to&nbsp;go deep into the roots of the practices of misogyny and patriarchy on a very local/geopolitical axis.’ To her disappointment, she found the figure of the witch popping up everywhere ‘as commodified tourist insignia’ rather than being used to discuss ‘rebel subjectivity and a dissenting spirit’. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562517/witch.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562517/witch.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="561" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span>The figure of the witch etched into the glass of a railway ticket office. Credit: Karen Mirza</span></p> <p>At the very least, Idle Women want to provide a respite of a women-only space, even for an hour, knowing ‘we can’t escape patriarchy: we are either colluding with it or resisting it or being shattered by it.’ Through their outreach work with women who are intensely creative but would probably believe that ‘art’ is not for them, Idle Women want the work to be mutually beneficial. In an age of individualism, the project refreshingly aims to celebrate co-dependency, as represented by the metaphor of the two boats. The motorboat tows the art centre around: neither boat serves a useful purpose without the other.</p> <p>Rahila Gupta is an associate artist with Idle Women and is writing an epic poem, <em>The Rubáiyát of Rojava</em>. </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="/ch-ramsden/artivism-art-as-activism-activism-as-art">Artivism: art as activism, activism as art</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/womens-library-in-london-kh%C3%B4ra-and-call-to-arms">The Women&#039;s Library in London: a khôra and a call to arms </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</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-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 UK 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Rahila Gupta Mon, 12 Dec 2016 09:12:39 +0000 Rahila Gupta 107548 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Are we all beheaded Copts? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/are-we-all-beheaded-copts-outrage-in-libya-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS in Libya associated with a broader political project of cleansing the region of religious minorities? Would this not deserve demonstrations of solidarity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The beheading of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians by ISIS on February 15 has triggered widespread international official condemnation. Human Rights Watch has <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/16/libyaegypt-murder-egyptians-war-crime">condemned</a> this atrocity as a war crime. However, the language is sufficiently opaque&nbsp; as to leave room for missing the point of who these civilians were and why they were targeted: “Egyptians – particularly those of Coptic faith and truck drivers carrying goods back and forth from Egypt – have been targeted for abduction or killing in Libya around a dozen times since late 2013”. Invoking Copts and truck drivers (even if non-Copt) implicitly suggests that they are both vulnerable to abduction and killing. Is this framing informed by an absence of knowledge of what is happening in Libya, or strategic - intended to underplay the explicit targeting of civilians on religious grounds?&nbsp; </p><p>An audit of the incidents of kidnappings that were announced in the Egyptian press since 2013, most of which were confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gives an unambiguous picture of what is going on. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/INfoTAble.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/INfoTAble.png" alt="Table of data" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Compiled by Akram Habib</span></span></span>Libya has for many decades been a country which has received hundreds of thousands of Egyptian migrants in search of livelihoods. While not all Egyptian residents in Libya are low income earners, it is likely that the majority are. Certainly, the twenty one beheaded Egyptian Christians fit that category. They came from a remote village in Minya, one of the Upper Egyptian Governorates with a low human development profile and high levels of poverty. Many Egyptians, Copts included, have often held low paid menial jobs in Libya, whether as day labourers or street vendors, with their poverty increasing their vulnerability. However, even when they are not in economically vulnerable situations (such as the doctor and his family who were murdered, see table above), they have still been targeted. </p><p>From the table above it is clear that of the 1,125 cases of kidnapping, only the Christian have been killed (though there may be more who were taken hostages, the whereabouts of which are unknown, undocumented in the media). This comparison of the predicament of captured Egyptians suggests that there is a pre-meditated plan of eliminating those who happen to be Copts on the basis&nbsp; of religion. The selective killing of the Copts, and the release of the others can&nbsp; only be explained by the will of the assailants. The BBC for example, reports that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2015/01/150104_egypt_warning_travelling_libya">eyewitness accounts</a> in one incident of kidnapping involved the armed group which dashed into a house full of Egyptian workers and asked whether there were any Christians among them, seized them, and left the rest. </p> <p>In view of the long history of Egyptian Christian migrant labour to Libya, why are they being targeted now? Writer Salwa El Zoghby provides an <a href="http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/665044">astute analysis</a> of the main drivers of the religiously-mediated targeting.&nbsp; She suggests that these attacks have taken place predominantly in the centre and east of Libya which are areas characterized by the near absence of state authorities,&nbsp; prevailing chaos, absence of rule of law and widespread circulation of weapons. It is in these areas that Islamist militias have established strongholds, and found the conditions that have empowered them to target Christians on ideological grounds. She also points that these Islamist jihadi groups have been responsive to the announcement by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansar_al-Sharia_%28Libya%29">Ansar Al Sharia</a> ( Libya) in February 2014 of an economic reward for anyone who clears Benghazi of any Christian presence. There is also a performative dimension to how ISIS has captured the beheading of the Copts on video, in line with its other videoed assassinations in Iraq and Syria. By beheading Egyptian Christians, as opposed to their Muslim counterparts, ISIS assumes (wrongly) that it is not alienating Muslims and is only enforcing their message of zero-tolerance policy towards those whom it believes to be infidels. </p> <p>Certainly all of Libya has suffered as a consequence of the disintegration of any functional state, the country now being the centre of geopolitical power struggles between different contenders: the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Italy - and the list goes on. </p> <p>There is also a vendetta between the Egyptian leadership and the Islamist movements which has its roots in the overthrow of President Morsi through a popular uprising that was followed by military intervention. There are a number of concentric circles which are underpinned by complex <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral">historical and contextual power dynamics</a> that have spill over effects on socio-political relations on the ground. </p> <p>However, to reduce the transparent targeting of Copts on religious grounds to an unfortunate fallout of a messy and chaotic situation is to deny the diffusion of an ideologically driven political project which is intended to clear the middle east of its religious minorities, and liquidate religious pluralism. Christians, being the largest religious minority in the middle east, become an obvious target, though not the only ones. There are strong resonances in the modalities of religious cleansing deployed by varied Islamist militant groups and ISIS in Iraq, Libya and Syria. The kidnappings, imposition of ransoms, the ultimatums of conversion to Islam or death in Syria and Iraq, have amounted to religious and ethnic cleansing according to the UN. A recently released <a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/02/04/mideast-crisis-children-idINKBN0L828E20150204">UN report</a> produced by the UN body responsible for reviewing Iraq's record for the first time since 1998, denounced "the systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive". </p> <p>So where does this leave us? In speaking with some progressive academics, social justice advocates, human rights activists, I have sometimes noted a certain reluctance to recognize this phenomenon as ideologically driven, or to analyse the particular modalities of violence identified above as associated with religious targeting of non-Muslim groups in the Arab world. This is not due to lack of evidence (UN, Amnesty International and others have released reports, UN officials have already spoken of a genocide in Iraq), but to the invisibility of the nature of these outrages in our debates. I do not claim to understand why, but here are some propositions. </p> <p>First, many proponents of post-colonialism have repeatedly reminded us that colonial powers have used the “religious minority card” in order to divide and rule. Moreover, in some instances the entanglement of missionary movements with the imperial powers’ political agendas, and their privileged position in society, has left a rather infamous legacy of Muslim-non-Muslim relations. However, this history has left a number of unfortunate imprints on contemporary discourses around religious minority matters in Muslim majority contexts in the middle east. The first is that it generates the false assumption that the middle eastern Christians are all remnants of the missionary movement, rather than ancient denominations founded in the first four centuries AD. like the Copts, predating missionaries by millennia. Second, it <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/religious-minority-women-of-iraq-time-to-speak-up">ignores</a> the very ancient non-Abrahamic religions whose ancestry goes back thousands of years and who are also at risk of extinction (the Zorastrians and Yazidis being cases in point). Could this past generate a reluctance to raise issues of religious diversity in case they smack of support of neo-colonialism?&nbsp; </p> <p>Second, many progressive western activists and thinkers are rightly conscious of their positionality - namely how they are perceived in the Arab world. There is a fear among some that appearing to be defending religious pluralism in the middle east would be equated with the American hegemonic project, often perceived to be strongly aligned with right wing Christian lobby groups. However, it is precisely the role of the US in aligning, supporting and nurturing militant groups in Libya, Iraq and Syria as a catalyst for the current existential threat to religious diversity in the region that we need to bring to the forefront. There is no longer a “western us” versus the “Muslim rest” – the entanglements of the US in deals and manoeuvrings with Islamist militants, not least in Libya, Syria and Iraq cannot be overlooked. </p> <p>Finally, our dread of&nbsp; Islamophobia at a time when right-wing political parties with racist overtones are on the rise in Europe, should not allow us to be cowed into the avoidance of anything to do with the&nbsp; “Islamic zone” in the name of political correctness. This reluctance to differentiate between the followers of the faith, and those who mobilize violently in the name of religion, may be a basis for exercising self censorship. It is what Bassam Tibi has termed Islamophilia: refraining from criticizing political Islamist groups so as not to offend. One classic example of this is raised by Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, who argues that there is a reluctance to talk about the contemporary political project of the instatement of an Islamic Caliphate. She <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-elizabeth-h-prodromou/a-basketball-guide-to-mid_b_5507894.html">argues</a> that skeptics from the middle east have been concerned understandably that the subject of ISIS formation of a new Islamic Caliphate “is freighted with neo-Orientalist attitudes and neo-imperialist designs, and critics in the US scholar-practitioner community have worried justifiably about the neo-conservative and neo-liberal ideological posturing and policy blowback embedded in the topic. However, considered skepticism and principled criticism need not foreclose historically-informed analysis and prudent policy planning”. </p> <p>We need the courage to reflect, discuss and debate how we can carve a space that would allow us to engage with religious pluralism issues in the middle east head on, without equivocation, and without falling into the traps of easy stereotypes and reductionistic explanations. </p> <p><strong><em>This article was first published in February 2015 with the title: Are we all beheaded copts?: Outrage in Libya</em></strong></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="/5050/mariz-tadros/religious-minority-women-of-iraq-time-to-speak-up">Religious minority women of Iraq: time to speak up </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/desolation-and-despair-in-libya-murder-of-salwa-bugaighis">Desolation and despair in Libya: the murder of Salwa Bugaighis </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-hard-road-ahead">Libya: a hard road ahead </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-tests-of-renewal">Libya: tests of renewal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/is-that-what-we-fought-for-gaddafis-legacy-for-libyan-women">Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi&#039;s legacy for Libyan women</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"> Libya </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> </div> 50.50 50.50 Arab Awakening Libya Civil society Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick patriarchy fundamentalisms 50.50 newsletter Mariz Tadros Mon, 12 Dec 2016 08:27:33 +0000 Mariz Tadros 90646 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The voice of Berta Cáceres has become the voice of millions https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/daysi-flores/voice-of-berta-c-ceres-has-become-voice-of-millions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Graffiti on the walls<em> </em>in Honduras <em>- Berta Vive! </em>Teenagers chanting as they march<em> - Berta Caceres Flores, sown in the heart of all rebellions ! </em>&nbsp;Berta didn’t die, she multiplied.</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/535193/Rostro8marzo13Berta_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Rostro8marzo13Berta_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="365" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Berta Caceres at the 8th of March Women´s demonstration in 2013. Credit: Daysi Flores/JASS</span></span></span></p><p>I spoke to Berta Cáceres the day she was murdered. I never imagined that later this year I would be in a demonstration along with almost a thousand women in Honduras asking for justice for her murder.</p> <p>That day we had been talking about a workshop we were doing together on collective healing and power.&nbsp;The last thing she said to me was, “Take care, <em>compita</em>.” She called some of us <em>compita</em> or <em>compa</em>, short for <em>compañera</em>, a political term we use for a friend in the struggle. She didn’t care who you worked for or where you came from. When she said, “This is a <em>compa, compa</em>,” it meant, “This person is one of us, an ally.” </p> <p>Sometimes, I still can hear her voice and this reality of having her gone forever feels like a dream. </p> <p>Nine months have passed already since she was murdered, and by now the world knows all about Berta Cáceres. Just as we know how <a href="http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/princesses/the-mirabal-sisters">The Mirabal sisters</a> fought against the regime controlled by a cruel dictator, Rafael Trujillo, in the Dominican Republic, and were killed on government orders on November 25th 1960. This is the reason why we commemorate that date every year around the world as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. </p> <p>Berta was an extraordinary feminist, environmental activist, and indigenous leader among the Lenca people in Honduras. She was a brilliant organizer and strategist, a firm and inspiring teacher, and a true <em>internacionalista</em>. </p> <p>Berta recognized how the Lenca communities’ struggle to protect their land and rivers was a global struggle, and at the same time she knew how to sow the love in her struggle in the heart of each person that she was involved with. </p> <p>For more than a decade, the <a href="https://www.copinh.org/">Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras</a> (COPINH) - the community-based movement she co-led, organized one community after another, building a network among 200 Lenca communities with allies across Honduras and in every part of the world. It is this movement that is giving us the hope that our future can be different. One of these communities fought for years against the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam, a hydroelectric project that would have destroyed water resources, livelihoods and displaced the community. Berta always knew they would win their fight to save the river, the river itself told her so. That was how COPINH, along with Rio Blanco people, managed to throw out a huge Chiñese company.</p> <p>After the 2009 coup in Honduras, Berta received dozens of threats for her activism, particularly in defense of the land and natural resources in Lenca territory when it seemed that every inch would be auctioned off (there are 49 concessions on their land today).</p> <p>On March 2, she was killed for her defense of the river Gualcarque. And she’s not the only one. Honduras is the <a href="https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/how-many-more/">most dangerous country in the world</a> for environmental activists, according to Global Witness.&nbsp;Between 2010 and 2015, 109 people were killed there for taking a stand against destructive dams, mining, logging, or agricultural projects. Of the eight people whose deaths were reported in 2015, six were indigenous leaders.&nbsp;</p> <p>I met Berta and COPINH when I was a teenager, and from 2011 onwards I worked closely with her and other <em>compitas</em> to support their struggles, and to create and activate her security and protection plan, while JASS and many other allies built the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras, and the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (known for its Spanish acronym, IMD). The IMD is a collaborative effort of six organizations that develops feminist movement-building strategies to address the specific forms of violence, stigma and sexism that women human rights defenders face. Berta survived every imaginable threat and harassment – that she would be raped and killed, and that her children would be raped and killed.</p> <p>In 2012, while organizing protests against the proposed dam on the Rio Gualcarque in the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Berta was picked up by a police truck, framed and taken into custody, and charged with illegal possession of weapons. Aware that she was in danger of being killed or “disappeared,” she called us, activating the network. Within hours, all of Honduras and more than 150 international and Latin American organizations began calling the Chief of Police demanding her release. After just two days, she was allowed to go home, although the charges remained. </p> <p>We fought the legal battle but she was never really safe. New accusations, charges of criminal behavior and slander about her personal relationships and her role as a mother became public. It was difficult for her, but her commitment to life, to saving the river, and to human rights activism never wavered. Nor did the attacks against her, right up until the time of her murder. </p> <p>When I first heard that this leader: my friend, my teacher, one of my political guides was assassinated, I didn’t believe it. In fact, I was not able to cry until I was coming home from the second demonstration mobilized to denounce her murder. I saw graffiti—<em>Berta Vive</em>—on a wall with her face, right there in front of me, and I burst into tears. I used to wonder, if they can kill a high-profile activist like her, what does that mean for the rest of us, for the thousands of other activists in Honduras who put their lives on the line every day to demand justice and respect for people’s rights and to protect the planet?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/25NHonMovFeminista2016.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/25NHonMovFeminista2016.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women's demonstration demanding Justice for Berta. 25th November 2016. Credit: Daysi Flores/JASS</span></span></span></p><p>Today, in this demonstration, nine months later, I undestand... her voice has become millions! Her assassination will never be forgotten, just like the Mirabal sisters who opposed the dictatorship they were living under, were assassinated for their activism, and became symbols of of both popular and feminist resistance. In this century when we are facing a global dictatorship performed by different actors, Berta embodies three different resistances: anti-patriarchal, anti-racist and anti-capitalist. </p> <p>Because Berta was one of Honduras’ most recognized human rights defenders, her murder captured worldwide attention, even in a country as violent as ours. In 2015, she received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize which honors grassroots activists.&nbsp;She and COPINH have many allies around the world because of their active involvement on so many issues that are important to indigenous peoples and to Honduras. The power of her story, and the vast networks tied to her and COPINH unleashed an explosion of activism after her murder, mobilizing environmentalists, feminists, indigenous rights leaders, and human rights advocates around the world, who are still calling - in a loud collective voice today - for those responsible to be held accountable, and for an end to construction of dams and other projects that threaten people's lives. </p> <p>FMO, the Dutch investors in the Agua Zarca dam project, earlier this year <a href="https://www.fmo.nl/k/n1771/news/view/28133/20819/fmo-suspends-all-activities-in-honduras-effective-immediately.html">announced</a> the suspension of all activities, and after a <a href="https://www.fmo.nl/k/n1771/news/view/33138/538/independent-fact-finding-mission-issues-their-report-on-agua-zarca.html">Fact Finding </a>mission they decided to seek what they call “a responsible exit from the project”. However this million-dollar commission delivered a <a href="https://www.copinh.org/article/el-fmo-y-su-informe-mentiroso/">report on the Agua Zarca project</a> in September that ommitted evidence, and did not adequately address the key issue of prior informed consent </p> <p>Two weeks after her murder, JASS worked with many international groups and donors to pull together a delegation of Honduran women defenders to the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">U.N. Commission on the Status of Women</a>. The delegation, which included the co-coordinator of COPINH, was led by Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, Berta’s daughter, who <a href="https://www.justassociates.org/sites/justassociates.org/files/speech_bertha_csw_eng.pdf">testified before the </a><a href="https://www.justassociates.org/sites/justassociates.org/files/speech_bertha_csw_eng.pdf">plenary</a> on March 18.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BertayLauraRioGualcarque.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BertayLauraRioGualcarque.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'>Berta's daughters (Laura and Berta) at the Gualcarque River on the 23rd Anniversary of COPINH, March 27th, 2016. Credit: Daysi Flores/JASS</span></span></span></p><p>In her testimony, Bertha Cáceres called for the creation of an independent expert group supported by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate her mother’s murder, and for the Honduran government to take steps to end a culture of impunity. She received a standing ovation.&nbsp;The trip to New York was the first international visit led by Bertha Cáceres, COPINH, and other Honduran justice leaders. Since then, there have been two other delegations to the US and a full tour of Europe. </p> <p>Five men have been <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/08/did-corporate-goons-plot-to-murder-activist-berta-caceres.html">charged</a> with Cáceres’ murder, including a mid-level employee of Desarollos Energéticos (DESA), the Honduran company leading the dam project. Despite our best efforts, Cáceres couldn’t be protected at all times. But people who work to protect the environment and their communities shouldn’t need protection. The Honduran government must come clean about its role in the systematic persecution of indigenous and environmental leaders under its watch. </p> <p>It must end the careless destruction of land belonging to indigenous peoples. It must end the persecution and criminalization of activists demanding justice and democracy, and start listening to local communities who have their own proposals for how to improve their own lives and simultaneously protect the planet. Cáceres called this idea “People’s power.”</p> <p>The murder of Berta Cáceres,&nbsp;and other members of COPINH,&nbsp;has provoked an enormous international solidarity response and a push for justice around the world, while also bringing to the forefront the responsibility of governments, banks, and corporations in human rights violations against communities that defend territories and natural resources. Based on JASS’s experience accompanying COPINH and Berta’s family, we experience the continuous violations against the Lenca community and women human rights defenders in Honduras, and the power of international solidarity.</p> <p>Nine months later, the search for justice has not gone cold dispite of the robbery of the case file on Berta Cáceres’ assassination, and the <a href="https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/honduras-roban-evidencia-e-informacion-clave-del-caso-berta-caceres">poor results on her case</a>. Numerous human rights groups, both in Honduras and internationally, have called for an independent investigation. Berta´s daugthers, friends, and organizations have been tireless <a href="https://www.copinh.org/article/copinh-y-familia-de-berta-caceres-pide-al-minister/">demanding justice </a>for her and all Human Rights Defenders who face <a href="http://criterio.hn/2016/12/01/denuncian-ante-la-cidh-la-ineficacia-del-mecanismo-hondureno-proteccion-personas-defensoras-derechos-humanos/">different kind of threats </a>- including death - just for doing what they have the right to do. That is why we have all <a href="https://www.justassociates.org/en/article/international-support-creation-group-experts-investigate-berta-caceres-murder-honduras">welcomed</a> the creation of an International Experts Advisory Group (<a href="https://gaipehonduras.org/justificacion/">GAIPE</a>) to support and pursue the investigation of the murder of Berta Cáceres Flores, and the attempted murder of human rights defender, Gustavo Castro Soto. </p> <p>On the 25th November this year, in the streets of this dangerous city (Tegucigalpa) a thousand women were demanding justice for Berta, not just because <a href="http://nacla.org/news/2016/10/27/environmental-activists-face-renewed-repression-honduras">COPINH</a> has <a href="https://copinh.org/article/alerta-intentos-de-asesinato-contra-el-coordinador/">been </a>increasingly <a href="http://copinhonduras.blogspot.mx/2016/11/el-copinh-denuncia-intento-de-entrada.html">targeted</a>, but because the demand for justice for Berta´s case is the demand for all of us. We know that any of us can be the next one. But inspite of the fear we face every day, the chant of the voices of a bunch of teenagers: <em>Berta Caceres Flores, sown in the heart of all rebellions</em> ” flowing right there on those roads, holds our hearts together and gives us the courage to shout the slogan that has been echoed around&nbsp; the world: “Berta didn’t die; she multiplied.”</p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy 50,50 in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.&nbsp;</a></strong></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="/5050/ndana-bofu-tawamba-kate-kroeger-tatiana-cordero/berta-s-struggle-is-our-global-struggle">Berta’s struggle is our global struggle…</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ana-abelenda/behind-murder-of-berta-c-ceres-corporate-response">Behind the murder of Berta Cáceres: corporate complicity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/daysi-flores/hope-as-survival-strategy-for-defensoras-in-honduras">Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/laura-carlsen/honduras-battle-to-protect-women-human-rights-defenders">Honduras: the battle to protect women human rights defenders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/defending-defenders-daunting-challenge">Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sarah-marland/women-human-rights-defenders-protecting-each-other">Women human rights defenders: protecting each other </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-reigniting-embers">Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers</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"> Honduras </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 Honduras 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice violence against women women's human rights young feminists Daysi Flores Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:03:36 +0000 Daysi Flores 107510 at https://www.opendemocracy.net To exist is to resist: Million Women Rise https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sabrina/million-women-rise-to-exist-is-to-resist <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>March 11th 2017 will mark the tenth&nbsp;anniversary of Million Women Rise's annual procession and rally to call an end to all forms of male violence against all women. It is more important than ever this year to show our resistance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/millionwomen.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/millionwomen.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="503" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></strong></p><p><strong>November 2002</strong> </p> <p>It was cold and dark, but the voices of the women lit the way as they roared, “Reclaim the night!”… the sea of women marching in central London in the streets that I had walked as a young woman when I lived in a hostel up the road … the irony … the shops and restaurants that I had so often walked past without money in my pocket. Here I was on this march … a woman in an orange jacket approached me … this is a women only march. Yes I know I replied, smiling at her to reassure her I was in the right place … she repeats It’s women only…. yes, I say, I know …. she double checks me … I can see she is still unsure. I am aware that there not many Black women on this womens march… but I persevere. I’m here because I believe the streets are not safe, that women are being beaten every day in their homes, being raped and objectified here in the UK and across the world.</p><p>As we reach the rally point I feel the fire of the outrage, anger and power of women. The rousing speeches spoke to the injustice I was feeling… the fight that we have on our hands and the power to bring about redemption. I also could see I was a lone woman here as a Pakistani Muslim Black Lesbian. Women looked at me with intrigue, suspicion, but I know who I am. I also know that Black women are at the heart of this revolution, we are the holders of the truth, we embody the truth and our blood is our truth.</p><p><strong>2005</strong> </p> <p>I talk to everyone I can about a critical mass of women to end violence against women … I speak with the women I work with, to the woman at the bus stop. I speak to my friends and lovers, I speak to my family. I feel possessed, driven, I am sick of feeling as if patriarchy is thriving and women are blaming themselves for male violence in all its forms ... capitalism, white supremacy, sexism, RAPE. “It's just the way it is Sabrina!... there's nothing we can do … they just don't care.”</p><p>But we do and we are they.</p><p><strong>2008 </strong></p> <p>Million Women Rise (MWR) organised its first annual march and celebration of International Women’s Day in central London. It can claim to have organised the biggest women-only march in the UK since the Suffragettes.&nbsp;At its heart are Black Lesbian Feminists, bringing together the most diverse group of women the UK feminist movement has seen, and in solidarity with women across the globe, calling for an end to male violence against women.<em> <br /></em></p> <p class="blockquote-new"><em>MWR provides a very specific activist space…one which is rooted in, and honours black women’s work, leadership, creativity, contributions. At a time when our voices are becoming increasing silenced by the State…at a time when women like me are compelled to self-censor (speak in an ‘acceptable’ way) in order to attempt to achieve policy shifts, MWR offers us space to speak our truths… from our hearts and bellies...without having to tone down our words. MWR creates space for connections between women and girls… a platform to raises our voices to use our bodies as sites of resistance… this is critical… as it’s also a reclamation of our bodies. </em>Marai Larasi</p><p>We make it our business to engage with all women but particularly encourage, support and engage with Black women’s group and individuals to have an active role and have their voices heard. MWR is a movement, self-funded and autonomous.</p><p class="blockquote-new"><em>I became a member of MWR on a personal level, having a drive and purpose to ensure that my voice as a survivor was heard and listened to, influencing change and impact whenever I am able to. On a professional level, being the voice of those women and girls who have not yet found their voices and being able to support them to do so</em>. Michelle Springer Benjamin.</p><p>Our commitment underscores our work in enabling the women we work with to find their voices, and carrying the voices of women and girls who are unable to speak out yet. MWR rose to create and define our own space, on our terms, with our voices at the forefront, not as the token ticking white boxes of diversity. We are not an after-thought. To self-organise is the courage to believe in ourselves, to stand outside the constraints and systems that oppress us.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/FB_IMG_1480418426392_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/FB_IMG_1480418426392_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'>Million Women Rise. Photo: Frederick Rapier. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>2016 <br /></strong></p> <p>I don’t feel like writing anything … the world is such a hostile place... a man with a name like a fart has just been voted by people in the US&nbsp; to be their president… I knew it was coming. Eleven days to the 25th November… International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women. I hear Malala wants to be prime minister of Pakistan.</p><p>There will be nothing about violence against women this month. This new Fart President has been accused of many sexual assaults by women. No one believes the women. What message does this send to women - it doesn’t matter if you are a rapist as long as you are good at making money. </p> <p>The Yazidi women are being raped in the name of Alla … it sickens me that these men are getting away with raping 8 year old girls. The violence in the Congo is increasing as the mining continues… women being macheted. A woman's arm has to be amputated after police blew it off at a peaceful protest in Dakota for protecting the water in sacred land from an oil pipeline company. Patriarchy and capitalism are out of control.</p><p>We rose in 2008 calling a million women to rise... I believed that a million women would come together, stop the traffic and the country in its tracks and say, we have had enough - the violence has to stop. Just like the way they stopped smoking in public places overnight. </p> <p>We were ten thousand women, but we marched and rallied and sent a message to the women who stood on the pavements that this violence is not ok. Rape is not our fault because of something we said or wore or because we were selling sex for money. That him beating you because you woke him up without a cup of tea or his football team lost is not ok or acceptable. That him meeting you at work and checking what you have done today and how much money you have spent or the way he constantly tells you have put on weight and are fat and ugly and no one will put up with you is not ok. All I know is that black women the world over having been surviving and resisting the violent onslaught, some of us have died a thousand times over and we are still here existing and giving, challenging and healing. </p> <p>Racism and sexism for us come hand in hand, and we have to draw the line. No more!<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>10 years and still rising <br /></strong></p> <p>Saturday March 11th 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Million Women Rise's annual procession and rally to call an end to all forms of male violence against all women.<em> <br /></em></p> <p>With ever increasing hate and violence against women, and especially against black women, minority, ethnic and refugee women and women who do not fit the so called norms of patriarchy, it is more important than ever for women to show our resistance and raise our voices - it is only together we can resist and ultimately end this persecution of women.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/FB_IMG_1480418262850(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/FB_IMG_1480418262850(1).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'>Million Women Rise. Photo: Frederick Rapier</span></span></span></p><p>Let the rise of women and girls continue I hope we see you in London or organising sister marches where you live.</p><p>“One woman, One body, One song, One love” </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</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/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">The Italian mafia and violence against women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/guilaine/since-i-gave-you-phone-it-s-not-rape">Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy everyday feminism gender justice violence against women women and power young feminists Sabrina Qureshi Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:03:33 +0000 Sabrina Qureshi 107277 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Suffragists, actresses and activists do it: 100 years of self-defence https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/irene-zeilinger/suffragists-actresses-and-activists-do-it-100-years-of-self-defence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Wherever women are confronted with violence, they try to protect themselves. When this resistance becomes collective, women's self-defence has at times been at the forefront of feminist efforts.</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/535193/jiujitsu.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/jiujitsu.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'>Illustration in satire magazine Punch by Arthur Wallis Mills, 1910</span></span></span></p><p>“Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.” </p><p>This was one of the many vindications of suffragist <a href="http://susanbanthonyhouse.org/her-story/biography.php">Susan B. Anthony</a> at the conference of Seneca Falls in 1871, a founding moment of the white US feminist movement. Depending on men for safety curtailed women's freedom and made them more vulnerable to the violence of their protectors. A hundred years later, Susan <a href="http://susangriffin.com/">Griffin</a> called this combination of male chivalry and rape culture a “male protection racket”. Women doing it for themselves took up martial arts.</p> <p>The first to do so within a feminist perspective was British gymnastics teacher <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34425615">Edith Garrud</a>. After learning <span>jiu jitsu</span> from a Japanese instructor, she opened her own dojo in London in 1905 where she taught women and children. Garrud was involved in several women's organisations and supported the suffrage movement. The radical wing of the <a href="http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the-role-of-british-women-in-the-twentieth-century/womens-social-and-political-union/">WSPU</a> movement embraced self-defence as a means of emancipation, and from 1909, Garrud trained activists in jiu jitsu to defend themselves against arrest and anti-feminist attacks. She drew on her creativity using newspaper articles, theatre and film, to communicate and developed original strategies to evade the police. In contrast to many feminists at the time, she also addressed domestic violence and promoted self-defence as a means to interrupt an assault. The main character in the film Suffragettes, played by Helena Bonham Carter, was <a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/helenabonham-carter-staple-of-the-screen/#_">called Edith in her honor</a>. </p> <p>The UK was not the only country in which women's self-defence took hold. It was practiced in the US in some sports clubs from the 1880s. But it took feminist social reformers to recognise its potential for women's empowerment, safety and independence. They brought <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-gilded-age-andprogressive-era/article/empowering-the-physical-and-political-self-women-and-thepractice-of-self-defense-18901920/298ACEB81251EFE67D904BD4E9A7BD51">self-defence to the White House lawn</a> and promoted it in schools and YWCA's across the country. By the 1920s, the “new woman” embraced self-defence just as enthusiastically as trousers, short hair and economic independence. On the other side of the world, New Zealand actress <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_LeMar">Florence Le Mar</a> included self-defence demonstrations and workshops for women in her vaudeville routine and wrote a fictive autobiography detailing many self-defence techniques. </p> <p>During this first golden era, women's self-defence was controversial. Proponents associated women gaining in physical strength and abilities with women's political empowerment. However, as with participation in other sports, there was strong resistance from the clergy, educators and the media women participating in boxing and jiu jitsu: they sought to maintain traditional gender norms and the social order. This resistance was framed as necessary protection of the weaker sex.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/actresspopo.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/actresspopo.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Edith Garrud demonstrating a jiu jitsu technique on an actor dressed as a police man. Health & Strength, December 1913</span></span></span></p><p>There was a hiatus until the emergence of the women's liberation movement at the end of the 1960s and, in its wake, a resurgence of feminist self-defence. Around the world, the same process repeated itself, leading to the creation of different methods: women participating in male-dominated martial-arts training, as students or instructors, tired of the sexism in those spaces, left. They took their knowledge and created women-only self-defence classes. Based on their own experiences and feminist theory on violence against women, they included consciousness raising and assertiveness training to provide women with new tools for strong body language and verbal self-defence. Highlighting that most violence was from known men was a means to deconstruct myths about stranger danger. </p> <p>The first such group was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_16">Cell 16</a>, a women's collective in Boston established in 1968. After some hostile encounters during direct actions in public space, the group realised that they needed to learn to defend themselves. They took classes from a male instructor, but left due to his paternalistic attitude and created a single-sex training group that later organised workshops for other women. During the 1970s, women's self-defence was an important part of the feminist actions against male violence: feminist martial arts magazines were published for networking and information; rape crisis integrated classes in their services; feminist pamphlets, resource books and conferences routinely included self-defence information. The demand was such that new trainers were needed and long waiting lists had to be managed. Homegrown self-defence schools&nbsp; emerged in the global South, such as <a href="http://www.shefighter.com/">Shefighter</a> in Jordan, and travelling and migrating activists brought feminist self-defence to countries in the global South including Brazil and India, and, after the fall of the Iron Curtain at the end of the 1980s, to Eastern Europe e.g. Serbia and Croatia.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/selfdefense.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/selfdefense.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women's self-defence class at the Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts Center, 1981.</span></span></span></p><p>More recently, following intense ambivalence and criticism, there has been a disconnection between many Rape Crisis Centres and feminists working on violence against women, and women’s self-defence. Concerns centred on the potential that if women were assaulted this would accentuate victim blaming and possibly mean women would not seek support. Critics also argued that training individual women to defend themselves individualised and depoliticised the issue of violence: putting the onus of prevention on women took the focus away from men and the need for them to change.&nbsp; Some of these objections can be seen as misconceptions, mistaking feminist self-defence for widely marketed mainstream self-defence methods such as Krav Maga.&nbsp; All feminist self-defence teachers ensure that survivors feel comfortable in training groups, victim blame is addressed explicitly and responsibility for any attack and its outcome is firmly placed with the perpetrator. Many instructors have worked in rape crisis centres or women's shelters and some offer survivor-only classes.&nbsp; There are research findings which show that that <a href="http://fap.sagepub.com/content/26/2/207.abstract">self blame decreases</a> following self-defence training. Self-defence participants also are <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/04/09/peds.2013-3414">more likely to disclose violence</a> and therefore are enabled to access support.</p> <p>Regarding the political and strategic objections, feminist self-defence practitioners have never claimed to be the only or even best means to stop violence against women, and many trainers across the globe are involved in other actions and organisations that provide support and advocacy to women who have lived through violence. </p> <p>Feminist self-defence is about creating a collective space to think and practice the potential for resistance to rape culture in general and to incidents of violence in particular. Women setting their boundaries, challenging gender stereotypes and gaining more freedom creates change in individual lives and in their social networks. An example of how individual and social change are connected is Tahrir Square in Egypt: male and female activists learned self-defence techniques to protect themselves and other women against the sexual violence used to discourage women from participating in the <a href="http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/tahrir-bodyguard-launches-free-self-defense-training-women">protest movement</a>.</p><p class="p1"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/modernsufraggetes_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/modernsufraggetes_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="629" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lancashire County Council poster by Kate Clements, 1990s.</span></span></span></em></p><p>Feminist self-defence is alive and well, despite limited recognition and funding. It depends in many places on the personal commitment of individual teachers and is a precarious practice. The past 110 years have honed its practices and made it more accessible to women and girls, including those with disabilities. </p><p>Let's hope that it won't take another 100 years to end violence against 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/liz-kelly/16-days-survivors-and-activists-at-centre">16 Days: survivors and activists at the centre </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/guilaine/since-i-gave-you-phone-it-s-not-rape">Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">The Italian mafia and violence against women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ana-bella/from-victims-to-changemakers">&quot;We are not the women with black eyes.&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/louise-pennington/transforming-victim-blaming-culture">Transforming a victim blaming culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hannana-siddiqui/lasting-change-to-end-honour-based-violen">What will it take to end honour based violence in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/what-will-it-take-to-end-violence-against-women">What will it take to end violence against women? </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy feminism violence against women women and power young feminists Irene Zeilinger Fri, 09 Dec 2016 09:33:27 +0000 Irene Zeilinger 107024 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 16 Days: survivors and activists at the centre https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/liz-kelly/16-days-survivors-and-activists-at-centre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The field of violence against women is an argumentative space. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days</a> offers an opportunity to reflect, to be inspired and moved by women who have survived, our tireless campaigners and re-sisters.&nbsp; </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/501857/lizItaly.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/lizItaly.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="193" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The demonstration against violence against women in Rome November 25th 2016.</span></span></span></p><p>Women in Latin America established November 25th as an international day to challenge violence against women in 1981: the date commemorates the assassination of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirabal_sisters">the Mirabal sisters</a> by the government of the Dominican Republic in 1960. Simultaneously the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991, coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University, brought together activists from across the globe.&nbsp; Together they expanded the idea to <a href="http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/about/activist-origins-of-the-campaign">16 days of action</a>, beginning on November 25th and ending on December 10th -&nbsp; World Human Rights Day.&nbsp; This linkage was one element in what would become an astonishingly successful campaign to locate violence against women within human rights thinking, policy and practice. Now, with that connection widely accepted, it is difficult to call to mind what a challenge this was to traditional human rights thinking, understood as protecting people from the powers of the state.&nbsp; What feminists demanded was that the UN and states recognise that for women their rights to bodily integrity and life were most often violated in the private sphere, and that states were systematically failing to protect them. The first 16 days campaign launched a global petition to recognise women’s rights as human rights, with VAW a key focus.&nbsp; The target was the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. The global coalition was so effective that the historic <a href="http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm">Declaration</a> on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was adopted by the UN at that meeting.&nbsp; The UN itself recognised November 25th in 1999, and this year called on member states to ‘<a href="http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolence/orangeday.shtml">turn the world orange’</a>. </p> <p>2016 is the 25th anniversary of the 16 Days. Globally thousands of meetings, marches and cultural events have been organised, only some of which are recorded <a href="http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/">here</a>.&nbsp; Perhaps the most stunning was in Italy where women’s organisations mobilised <a href="https://nonunadimeno.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/nonunadimeno-the-unexpected-force-of-an-international-feminist-movement/">200,000 people to march in Rome</a>, a historic event largely unmarked by the international media. </p> <p>An issue of contention is the renaming of 25th November as ‘White Ribbon Day’ by men’s organisations which support the ambition to end violence against women.&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.whiteribbon.ca/">White Ribbon campaign</a> began in Canada in 1991 in response to the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_Polytechnique_massacre">murder of 14 female engineering</a> students by Marc Lepine in 1989.&nbsp; Bizarrely in Canada December 6th is now the national day of action and remembrance of violence against women.&nbsp; This renaming, seen by some as a form of appropriation, has taken strongest hold in Australia, with <a href="https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2016/11/19/exclusive-white-ribbon-splits-direction/14794740003994">ongoing debates</a> between White Ribbon and feminist organisations supporting survivors. </p> <p>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">series of articles published on openDemocracy 50.50</a> this year sought to do four things: to reflect the range of forms and contexts of violence against women; to re-centre the voices of survivors; to bring diverse voices; and to explore current debates.&nbsp; </p> <p>Too often we conflate forms and contexts of violence: rape is rape, murder is murder.&nbsp; But the contexts in which such violence takes place make a difference to how it is framed and responded to. Guilaine Kinuani challenged the ways in which sexual abuse of African women and girls has been minimised through the weasel words of ‘transactional sex’.&nbsp; November 25th was chosen to recognise three women who were killed for their politics, part of what Rashida Manjoo, the former special rapporteur for the UN on violence against women, has called <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WRGS/OnePagers/Gender_motivated_killings.pdf">gender related killings of women</a>.&nbsp; Two pieces explore this from different places and spaces: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">the UK</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/mabel-encinas/femicide-in-mexico-and-guatemala">Mexico and Guatemala</a>. &nbsp;Both demand that we think beyond the recognised killings by current and ex male partners, to recognise a wider range of contexts in which women’s lives are devalued and worth less than those of men.&nbsp; The value of women lives is at its lowest when there is impunity, when states care so little that the murders are not even investigated. Another <a href="http://discoversociety.org/2016/03/01/theorising-violence-against-women-and-girls/">conducive context</a> for violence against women are honour codes: here the more familiar context of &nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/hannana-siddiqui/lasting-change-to-end-honour-based-violen">South Asian communities</a> in the UK is paralleled by that of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">mafia networks in Italy</a>.</p><p>The positioning of survivors has changed markedly since the 1970s, when campaigners used an inclusive ‘we’: we women who had experienced violence and we women who were part of the movement resisting it. Four decades later professionalisation within, and state funding for, support services has resulted in survivors being re-positioned as victims, dissipating much of the vitality of the movement. &nbsp;In several pieces women write as survivors and resisters, creators of innovative work and campaigns. Movements against violence against women are replete with survivors, each one so much more than what was done to her.&nbsp;&nbsp; Re-centering survivors questions the damage discourse which sits underneath all those images of women with bruises or curled up in corners: survivors turn nightmare lessons into energy, energy to resist, to create and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ana-bella/from-victims-to-changemakers">build organisations</a> and a different world. &nbsp;Another part of reclaiming our herstory involves &nbsp;celebrates key role <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/lepa-mladjenovi/at-heart-of-movement-to-end-men-s-violence">lesbians have played</a> in building and sustaining end violence against women movements.&nbsp; </p> <p>Campaigns are the ways feminists seek to create change. The online <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-pennington/transforming-victim-blaming-culture">Ending Victim Blame</a>&nbsp; has provided a space in which survivors can not only share their stories but also activate others to protest victim blame in the media and wider culture. &nbsp;The basic human rights responsibility is to protect women and girls from violence, and two current campaigns highlight the institutional responsibilities of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-green/all-day-everyday-where-is-protection-against-violence-in-schools-and-universities">schools</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/helen-mott/are-universities-preventing-violence-against-women-0">universities</a> to address sexual harassment and sexual assault.&nbsp; Success is not always forthcoming, but Turkish women effectively challenged attempts to create impunity <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/yakin-erturk/midnight-motion-to-set-free-child-sex-abusers-in-name-of-our-culture">for child sexual abusers</a> and it took Chinese women over a decade to attain a law on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yuan-feng/long-march-domestic-violence-law-in-china">domestic violence</a>. </p> <p>That the movement is global necessitates hearing diverse voices, seeking out and working with women whose first language is not English, but who can speak about/from their specific location.&nbsp; An intersectional feminism raises complex questions about the privilege of voice, who gets to speak, write and be heard.&nbsp; This series has included inviting contributions from women unused to writing for publication, but who had something important to say. </p> <p>The field of violence against women has, and continues to be, an argumentative space.&nbsp; We do not always agree about the direction of travel, or even about what words we should use. &nbsp;&nbsp;We stand on the shoulders of those who first named forms of violence, gave them social existence and recognition.&nbsp; But as we learn more, listen louder to women’s accounts, there may be more accurate, experiential ways to encompass the range <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/fiona-vera-gray/men-s-intrusion-rethinking-street-harassment">of intrusive experiences</a> women experience in public space.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maddy-coy-pala-molisa/what-lies-beneath-prostitution-and-policy-in-new-zealand">Prostitution</a> has been one of arenas where disagreement is most evident in recent years, where we need to ask deep and searching questions.&nbsp; Similarly the practice of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/irene-zeilinger/suffragists-actresses-and-activists-do-it-100-years-of-self-defence">self-defence</a> has been hotly debated, but feminist activists have drawn on it to assert their right to make political protest for over a century, and recent research suggests it offers <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/nov/ep-self-defence-study.pdf">something important to women and girls</a>. </p> <p>The 16 Days offer an opportunity to reflect, to be inspired and moved by women who have survived, our tireless campaigners and re-sisters.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</em></strong></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/ana-bella/from-victims-to-changemakers">&quot;We are not the women with black eyes.&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mabel-encinas/femicide-in-mexico-and-guatemala">Femicide in Mexico and Guatemala </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/guilaine/since-i-gave-you-phone-it-s-not-rape">Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">The Italian mafia and violence against women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/louise-pennington/transforming-victim-blaming-culture">Transforming a victim blaming culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/irene-zeilinger/suffragists-actresses-and-activists-do-it-100-years-of-self-defence">Suffragists, actresses and activists do it: 100 years of self-defence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maddy-coy-pala-molisa/what-lies-beneath-prostitution-and-policy-in-new-zealand">What lies beneath prostitution policy in New Zealand?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/asha-l-abeyasekera/gendered-dimension-of-space-singleness-and-world-of-not-belonging">Singleness and the world of &#039;not belonging&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lepa-mladjenovi/at-heart-of-movement-to-end-men-s-violence">Lesbians at the heart of the movement to end men’s violence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/midnight-motion-to-set-free-child-sex-abusers-in-name-of-our-culture">A move to set free child sex abusers: in the name of “our culture”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fiona-vera-gray/men-s-intrusion-rethinking-street-harassment">Men&#039;s intrusion: rethinking street harassment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yuan-feng/long-march-domestic-violence-law-in-china">A long road: domestic violence law in China</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hannana-siddiqui/lasting-change-to-end-honour-based-violen">What will it take to end honour based violence in the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sarah-green/all-day-everyday-where-is-protection-against-violence-in-schools-and-universities">&#039;All day, everyday&#039;: where is the protection against violence in schools and universities?</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> </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 Civil society Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy feminism gender justice violence against women women's movements Liz Kelly Fri, 09 Dec 2016 09:30:27 +0000 Liz Kelly 107501 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Syrian women migrants in Turkey face many forms of violence - sexual harassment, forced and early marriage, polygamy and trafficking for sexual exploitation. The perpetrators include soldiers, border officers and migration officers.</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/501857/YaseminPic1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/YaseminPic1.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'>Syrian refugees' camp in Cappadocia, Turkey. Image: Fabio Sola Penna / Flickr</span></span></span></p><p>There are three million registered migrants in Turkey, 90% are from Syria of whom one and a half million are women. Interviews with migrant women reveal that many are exposed to sexual harassment and assault during war, migration and resettlement processes, with the perpetrators including soldiers, border officers and migration officers. Turkish NGO’s have collected women’s testimonies, some of which are translated for this piece, such as <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/haber/265948/multeci-kadinlar-savas-en-cok-kadinlar-icin-zor">this one</a>, given by a 27 year old woman who came to Turkey two years ago with her husband and children: </p> <p><span class="blockquote-new">“The ISIS members used the women as slavery. They came to my neighbours’ door and said ‘Your daughter is beautiful; you must give her to us.’ They cut her husband’s head. My neighbour was forced to give her daughter to them because they are frightened to death. Then she came to us. She had been scared and looked crazy.”</span> </p> <p>A woman who lives in a camp in Turkey gave this <a href="http://www.milliyet.com.tr/suriyeli-kadina-tecavuz-etti-gundem-1890011/">account</a>:</p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“We were living a camp with my husband. I was working as a cleaner with one of my Syrian friends. She took me away to a field and she started to take off her clothes. I was scared. At that moment; a soldier’s car stopped in front of us and asked us ‘What are you doing?’. I started to cry. He said the other soldiers ‘go’, called me and took my identity card and started to say ‘Your eyes are beautiful.’ Then he threatened me: ‘I take possession of (Turkish ‘<em>genel’</em>) your identity card. If you report this, I could say you are a prostitute and they send you to Syria again.’ I was scared and didn’t say anything to anybody. He called me the next day in order to give my identity card. Then he took away me to a house and raped me. After that day, he threatened me again. He wanted me to have sexual intercourse with his friends too. Due to the fact that I was afraid of my husband, I didn’t speak. Whenever my husband asked questions about me, I said I was sick. It continued for 20 days. My psychological problems started and I attempted suicide. At last, I reported the event, but no one took action. I told everything to the authorities, but they only sent me to another camp.”</span> </p> <p>Without an identity card, women cannot access services. They cannot report sexual harassment, go to the police, or even go to hospital. If they try, the services don’t take any action, they take them away them to migrant offices first. </p> <p>Whilst Turkey has adapted international law into national law to offer some protection, there are major implementation gaps. Activists struggle with discrimination, racism and patriarchal values which mean that state agencies fail to fulfil their duty to protect against and investigate cases of violence. The Ministry of Family and Social Policies requires that shelters only work with women where the violence has taken place within Turkey. However, many women leave their countries due to violence, and are in need of accommodation when they arrive.&nbsp; They currently cannot access shelters, most of which in Turkey are run by the state.&nbsp; For the migrant women who are accepted, they can face discrimination and racism from other women (Turkish nationals) living in shelters, and their children are shunned. &nbsp;Women talk about shelter staff ignoring the abuse and choosing not to intervene.</p><p>Many shelter staff, police officers, and other officials are not trained in migration law, resulting in &nbsp;violations of the human rights of migrant women. Turkey is a party to the İstanbul Convention, but has failed to fulfil a number of its requirements, including training for professionals to ensure women’s right to protection from violence is realised.&nbsp; For example, in all legal procedures there should be access to interpreters, but the absence of them, especially in police stations and women’s shelters, limits access to justice.&nbsp; NGOs try to fill the gaps, but this is a state responsibility. </p> <p>Women migrants living in Turkey face discrimination and many forms of violence: sexual harassment; forced and early marriage; polygamy; trafficking for sexual exploitation.&nbsp; This is seen in this <a href="http://istanbul.mazlumder.org/webimage/files/The%20Report%20on%20Syrian%20Women%20Refugees(1).pdf">account</a> of sexual harassment given by a 16 year old young women living in Izmir: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“They treat Syrian girls as if they are cheap goods. They look at them with an evil eye. At work, our boss said to one of my Syrian friends, ‘Would you like to marry my son? Why are you working in this job? Come and be a housewife.’&nbsp; My friend didn’t accept this and so he offered one thousand Turkish Liras to my friend in order to marry his son.” </p> <p>Speaking about provinces where refugees live densely, Batman Bar Women's Rights Commission Member Lawyer Secil Erpolat <a href="http://istanbul.mazlumder.org/webimage/files/The%20Report%20on%20Syrian%20Women%20Refugees(1).pdf">states</a>: </p> <p>“…a new prostitution sector has been formed and Syrian refugees are abused in this sector. According to the information we got from the prosecution, girls are forced into prostitution in exchange for 20-25 TL (6-8 Euros). In some cases they don’t give any money; instead they give food or any other helping material.” </p> <p>Only one in 5 women are in paid employment in Turkey. Combined with this, language issues and gender based discrimination means that few women refugees can find paid work other than low paid cleaning or child care outside the formal economy, increasing their dependency on men. Women who migrate with their children face further barriers, as they cannot combine child care and employment: this is one of the contexts in which ‘early marriage’ of girls becomes a survival strategy.&nbsp; Marriages under the age of 18 are not recognised in Turkey, they are common among Syrian migrants for young women.&nbsp; Viewing this as a ‘cultural difference’ means that there is limited if any protective intervention. The experiences of NGOs indicate that the authorities ignore official complaints and are not willing to do legal sanctions. Some ‘early marriages’ could be understood as a form human trafficking: in the border provinces, young women are persuaded to come to Turkey with promises of a better life only to find they are forced to either marry a Turkish or Syrian man (possibly as a second or third wife), or forced into prostitution. </p> <p>Whilst there is no statistical data on the scale of sexual harassment among migrant women, NGO’s know it happens to both registered and unregistered women. Control of women within their own community prevents them from learning Turkish and means they remain unaware of their rights to protection from violence, as made clear by this <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/haber/265948/multeci-kadinlar-savas-en-cok-kadinlar-icin-zor">account</a> by a Syrian woman: </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“We shouldn’t go out of the house, we are in the houses all the day. We don’t have any connection with anybody. We don’t know the language. In Turkey, it is the same thing for us, existing or not.” </p> <p>Feminist NGOs in Turkey have undertaken studies and support work with women migrants, but the scale of the problems are so large that this is only a sticking plaster.&nbsp; It is for this reason that they are calling on the Turkish authorities to ensure that women migrants are afforded their rights under the Istanbul Convention: the European convention on Violence Against Women that was finalised in Turkey in 2011.</p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</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/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">Due diligence for women&#039;s human rights: transgressing conventional lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/gender-lenses-and-refugee-assistance">Gender lenses and refugee assistance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/setherfree-spectrum-of-solidarity-for-refugee-women">#SetHerFree: a spectrum of solidarity for refugee women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-chatty/aid-crisis-for-syrian-refugees">The aid crisis for Syrian refugees</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/happy-kinyili/to-meet-nothing-that-wants-you-violence-against-migrants">&quot;To meet nothing that wants you&quot;: violence against migrants </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tribunal-12-migrants%E2%80%99-rights-abuses-in-europe">Tribunal 12: migrants’ rights abuses in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/reem-assayyah/we-feel-that-we-found-our-self-after-we-lost-it-in-war">We feel that we found our self after we lost it in the war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-charlotte-eagar-georgina-paget/trojan-women-in-twenty-first-century-women-in-wa">Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy">Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dilar-dirik/erdogan-s-war-on-women">Erdogan&#039;s war on women</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"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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 Turkey Syria Conflict Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered migration gender bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Yasemin Mert Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:45:33 +0000 Yasemin Mert 107369 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "We are not the women with black eyes." https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ana-bella/from-victims-to-changemakers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women who have survived abuse are changemakers. It’s time to involve companies in creating a paradigm shift in labour integration, to stop the double victimisation and social exclusion of survivors</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/501857/FUNDACION ANA BELLA RED DE MUJERES SUPERVIVIENTES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/FUNDACION ANA BELLA RED DE MUJERES SUPERVIVIENTES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="232" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"We are survivors not victims." Image: Fundacion Ana Bella. </span></span></span></p> <p>More than a third of women worldwide have <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures">experienced abuse</a> at some point in their lives. I am Ana Bella. I was one of the abused women until one night I used my strength, my fear and my will to escape with my four kids. I started a new life because I broke the silence. But the majority of abused women are invisible and do not receive support. </p> <p>Only a small proportion of abused women in Europe report to the police.&nbsp; Campaigns to encourage victims to report, to seek support, often use images of the physical consequences of abuse - black eyes, scars.&nbsp; The media repeatedly broadcast interviews of crying and trembling women with disguised faces and distorted voices. &nbsp;Newspapers report on the murders of women in Spain every week. </p><p>When I was a victim of abuse I could not recognise myself as one of those women, I would never ask for support if it meant to be like them: dead or scared to death. Thinking about the huge number of invisible abused Spanish women, in 2002 I made a change: I appeared on television with no disguise, a positive message, a big smile telling other women that there is an alternative, if they speak out they can have the opportunity to make a new life, to be happy. </p> <p>I received more than 1000 phone calls from women wanting support after that first TV appearance. In 2006 I founded <a href="http://www.fundacionanabella.org/">Ana Bella Foundation</a>, a peer to peer survivor network. We use our empathy, love, sisterhood and positive testimonies to enable 1,400 abused women a year to break free from violence. </p> <p>But despite our strength as survivor women, we face social exclusion because society only sees our damage, and the kinds of employment that we are considered for carry low salaries and low status.&nbsp; </p> <p>This is also the case with formal programmes for labour integration. When I was in a shelter I was offered training to become a cleaner. I told them I could speak English and use a computer and that I would like training to be a bilingual executive secretary.&nbsp; The response was that the only option for abused women was to work in cleaning services.&nbsp; I know it is a decent job, but why can’t we have bigger dreams? &nbsp; </p> <p>We had already involved media and survivors to encourage others to come forward. It was time to involve companies to create a paradigm shift in labour integration, to stop the double victimisation and social exclusion of survivors. To say no to invisible jobs, to create visible positions as Brand Ambassadors, where women were recruited based on personal values as survivors, rather than positive discrimination for being victims. </p> <p>We believe that abused women are not victims any more, we are survivors. We are strong women, we overcome frustration, we persevere, we never give up, we are used to dealing with pressure and times of crisis. &nbsp;Our idea was that if we focussed all those skills within employment we could make a contribution to the social and economic growth of companies. </p> <p>Large companies have the capacity to influence policies that pioneer social change. We decided to use a co-creation model and find a multinational company with a dual social and business approach to partner with. </p> <p>I was an <a href="https://www.ashoka.org/our-network">Ashoka Fellow</a> when we contacted Danone (A French multi-national food company) to ask if they would work with the Ana Bella Foundation to co create a social solution to a business need, without any cost to the company. Companies need high‑performance motivated sales promoters and abused women need socially valued job opportunities to empower themselves. This was a potential win-win transformative partnership that could create social and economic value for companies, for women and for social welfare. </p> <p>Our Social School for Women Empowerment offers personal and professional training to women survivors to enable them to release their full potential. We can offer a trampoline job (one where they can jump to the next possibility) as a Brand Ambassador through which women can access the wider employment market and became changemakers in their communities. </p> <p>In collaboration with MTF and Danone, Campofrio, Bonduelle, Benefit, Bakery Solutions and other clients, 948 women in Spain have changed their lives through this programme.&nbsp; The companies have also increased sales, reduced absenteeism from 40% to 2% and reduced staff turnover from 63% to 2%.&nbsp; We received the best worldwide award Project for Women’s Empowerment by Ecosystem Fund, and our methodology has been designated a best practice in the European Guide of Companies for Social Change.&nbsp; Danone awarded us the Best Supplier award, and Ashoka awarded us the best Co-Creation Project (of 338 projects from 37 countries). </p> <p>For the first time in Spain we appeared in the news not because we had been killed but because we are changemakers. </p> <p>We are not the women with black eyes but assets for companies: we are not a problem to be solved, we are part of the solution. </p> <p>Gloria was 62 years old when she broke free from violence, on public assistance she would receive 400 euros a month. We didn’t see her black eye, we saw her potential as a human being and woman survivor. She was trained at the foundation and started to work as a Danone Brand Ambassador, her first job in her entire life. She did not know how to use a computer, but in one week she learnt how to do an Excel report. We trusted in her, Danone trusted in her, the clients trusted in her - saying thanks, thanks, thanks - so she started to believe in herself. Gloria is now an active social agent, paying taxes and acting as a changemaker into her community. She leads a Volunteers in Action Association, which organises visits to elderly people in her neighbourhood. She has recently retired and has enrolled at the university.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>Elisa touched me deeply. I met her in the shelter. She couldn’t talk without crying. She felt so small, so nothing, it affected her so much. She was an independent woman before she was abused. She was trained in our foundation, started working in our trampoline job as Brand Ambassador, jumped to a longterm job in Santillana, and last year she was elected as the Director of the Women Institute in Extremadura, Spain, influencing 500,000 women through her position. From victim to changemaker. </p> <p>In Ana Bella Foundation we believe we can redirect ‘energy’ away from violence towards productivity and empathy. We have proved that as women who can overcome years of violence we have the stamina needed to change the world. Survivor women took action in Spain, we invite you to take action with us to accelerate social change to eliminate domestic violence, to build a society free of violence.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</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="/liz-cooper/who-cares">Violence against women in Spain: who cares?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">The Italian mafia and violence against women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-cooper/no-more-%E2%80%98machismo%E2%80%99-domestic-violence-in-political-arena">No more &#039;machismo&#039;: domestic violence in the political arena </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-cooper/politics-of-sexual-harassment-in-spain">The politics of sexual harassment in Spain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-cooper/gender-violence-in-spain-electoral-tool-or-deciding-issue">Gender violence in Spain: from electoral tool to decisive issue ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/connie-agius/italian-mafia-and-violence-against-women">The Italian mafia and violence against women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yuan-feng/long-march-domestic-violence-law-in-china">A long road: domestic violence law in China</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"> 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"> Civil society </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 Spain Civil society 16 Days: activism against gender based violence violence against women gender justice feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter young feminists Ana Bella Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:27:33 +0000 Ana Bella 107366 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Are universities preventing violence against women? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/helen-mott/are-universities-preventing-violence-against-women-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sexual harassment of women students is rife and violence against women in universities is commonplace. Are universities reflecting cultural norms of violence against women instead of shaping new norms?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1">Universities are <a href="https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/909811/download">sites</a> for the production and reproduction of violence against women. Aside from the truism that they are microcosms of wider society there are additional reasons that explain the scale of violence against women<strong><em>. </em></strong>Most students are young adults: data for England and Wales tells us that <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http:/www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_394500.pdf">sexual offenders target women aged 16-19 and students</a> more than any other age group. Women aged 16-24 years have <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http:/www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_394500.pdf">the highest rates of domestic violence</a> and are most at <a href="http://eurogender.eige.europa.eu/sites/default/files/LMU_Forced_Marriage_Report.pdf">risk of forced marriage</a>. <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http:/www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_394500.pdf">Young men</a> are the largest perpetrator group.</p> <p class="Normal1">Yet universities, especially campus universities, are also sites where the physical and cultural environment are shaped and influenced: a university is not just a microcosm but also an organism - a space where cultural norms can be replaced, renewed, established. Just as cultures of sexism from <a href="http://www.dawn.com/news/1221007">paternalism</a> to “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/time-to-dismantle-fraternities-and-the-sexism-rape-culture-and-binge-drinking-they-encourage/2016/09/15/55dbc566-7b5d-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html">frat</a>” or “<a href="https://www.nus.org.uk/Global/Campaigns/That&#039;s%20what%20she%20said%20full%20report%20Final%20web.pdf">lad</a>” culture can thrive in universities, so cultures of cohesion, respect and leadership against violence can be built where there is the will to do so.</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HMott5050Nov2016 (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HMott5050Nov2016 (1).png" alt="" title="" width="458" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">The question of will is, perhaps, key.&nbsp; Nothing else can explain the relative inaction and lack of resources invested to date, certainly in the UK. It is possible to make a weak case for university leaders being historically unaware of the sheer scale of harassment, assault and violence given that so few women &nbsp;choose ever to make a formal report - research in the UK suggests <a href="http://vmrz0183.vm.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/gendercrime/pdf/gendercrime_country_report_united_kingdom_english.pdf">less than 15%</a> and this is high compared with other countries in Europe.&nbsp; Arguably then, the likelihood of a senior university manager with the power to effect change being fully apprised of the scale of the problem has been low.&nbsp; There is a serious data gap, worldwide: until recently the large-scale survey data came from North American universities, although there was a <a href="http://vmrz0183.vm.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/gendercrime/pdf/gendercrime_final_report_smaller_version.pdf">study</a> published in 2012 funded by the European Union which found high prevalence across universities in England, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Normal1">In the US, in addition to Federal support (for example the <a href="https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault">Justice Department</a>’s Office of Violence Against Women gave more than $15 million to university projects this year), there are state-wide and <a href="http://www.nationalcampusclimatesurvey.org/">country-wide</a> regular surveys which help universities to meet their obligations - enshrined in state and federal law - to monitor and prevent violence against women students.&nbsp; These obligations include having dedicated <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/title-ix-rights-201104.pdf">policies, procedures and staff</a> to address sexual harassment and violence.&nbsp; This picture contrasts sharply with the position in most other countries, including the UK where it is only relatively recently that governments have begun to integrate awareness of VAW in universities into their policies, strategies and action plans. Across the world, VAW prevention programmes in schools and colleges designed to change the culture are <a href="http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/status_report/2014/report/Country_profiles.pdf?ua=1">rare</a> - and vanishingly rare at a scale that will have lasting impact.</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HMott5050Nov2016.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HMott5050Nov2016.png" alt="" title="" width="455" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">The first task, then is to make visible the extent of VAW - and to make clear the impact caused.&nbsp; The will to do this work is present - among university <a href="https://1752group.com/">academics</a> who are no longer willing to be silent or silenced, but also and critically among student activists. In the UK, it was the national student body - the NUS - which <a href="https://www.nus.org.uk/Global/NUS_hidden_marks_report_2nd_edition_web.pdf">commissioned research</a> documenting the scale of some forms of VAW. Journalists in a number of the UK’s most widely-read news outlets including the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-37133196">BBC</a>, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/07/scale-of-sexual-abuse-in-uk-universities-likened-to-savile-and-catholic-scandals">Guardian</a> and <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10816682/Rape-isnt-really-rape-when-it-happens-at-university.-Is-this-really-the-view-of-certain-students.html">Telegraph</a> newspapers, took up the issues and have helped to amplify the voices of survivors, sometimes showcasing spectacular <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11343380/Sexually-assault-1-in-3-UK-female-students-victim-on-campus.html">institutional mishandling</a>. The global reach of new, social and feminist media has ensured that cases from around the world are shared (Emma Sulkowicz’s <a href="http://feministing.com/2014/09/11/photo-of-the-day-students-show-solidarity-by-helping-columbia-rape-survivor-carry-her-mattress/">mattress protest </a>and the <a href="http://www.feministcurrent.com/2016/06/06/rape-culture-is-brock-turner-father-20-minutes-action/">Brock Turner</a> case in the USA; the rape and murder of student <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Jyoti Singh/Nirbhaya</a> in India; the Baxter College <a href="http://junkee.com/women-talk-about-sexism-at-university/76319">chant</a> in Australia).&nbsp; In the UK, specialist women’s organisations through the umbrella body, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, have <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/women-students-safe-equal">called for change</a>. </p> <p class="Normal1">It is no longer possible to avoid or deny the scale of the issue: the Westminster government called upon Universities UK (the association for university leaders) to create a taskforce and produce recommendations.&nbsp; The taskforce <a href="http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2016/changing-the-culture.pdf">published its report</a> last month.&nbsp; The title “Changing the Culture” reflects the need for nothing short of system change.&nbsp; It also documents some very good (but nascent, not yet sustainable) practice.&nbsp; The report’s 18 recommendations are an excellent start, although of course as always the devil will be in the detail of implementation.&nbsp; The recommendations will be more, or less, applicable internationally depending on cultural, legislative and political contexts. They are grouped according to the themes in areas where universities are currently not performing well: Senior leadership; Institution-wide approach; Prevention; Response; Managing disciplinary/criminal offences; Sharing good practice, and online harassment.</p> <p class="Normal1">The importance of mandating good data collection, including regular anonymised student surveys, cannot be overstated, because without measurement and recording we are in danger of losing the voice of survivors and we have no way to track the impacts of interventions.&nbsp; Annexes to the UUK report show that good practice in data collection, including online anonymous reporting, is being developed by a number of universities including SOAS, Manchester, Coventry and Keele. &nbsp; </p> <p class="Normal1">A theme that runs throughout the report is the importance of working with specialist support organisations such as Rape Crisis, Women’s Aid, and local specialist services for survivors of all forms of violence against women. The University Challenge project at Coventry University has set up an online course for university employees for responding to disclosures, developed in partnership with Rape Crisis. &nbsp;Bystander intervention programmes such as <a href="http://www.uwe.ac.uk/interventioninitiative">The Intervention Initiative</a> are also contributing to preventing the violence and promoting a positive shift in culture away from social norms that support such violence. </p> <p class="Normal1">If the UUK report’s recommendations are implemented, there will be a sea-change in how victim-survivors are supported, and in the cultural attitudes – and consequently the prevalence - of violence against women in universities. In order for this to happen, the recommendations for “the development of a clear, accessible and representative disclosure response for incidents of sexual violence and rape, working with relevant external agencies where appropriate,” that universities “ take an institution-wide approach to tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime,” and “ adopt an evidence-based bystander intervention programme,” are essential. </p> <p class="Normal1">A future focus for UUK, not addressed in the report, is the chronic and complicated issue of staff-to-student harassment, violence and coercion. Vigilance is required to ensure that change and accountability are not blocked by vested interests: the weight of unequal power relationships here must not be minimised.&nbsp; Violence against women staff working in universities also requires attention, and should be seen in the context of <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/9/press-release-heforshe-university-parity-report">wider</a> and <a href="http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/only-17-black-female-professors-uk-universities">intersecting</a> discrimination and disadvantage faced by women in universities. In each case, again, anonymous data collection will be critical.&nbsp; I would argue for a dedicated VAW office in all universities with responsibilities to monitor, to coordinate investigation and support, and to drive prevention and culture change. </p> <p class="Normal1">Feminists and all those who are concerned – including every parent thinking of waving a daughter (or son) off to university – should grasp this moment to demand of each university that they share details of their plans, policies, collaborations and resources dedicated to ending violence against women. </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</em></p><p class="Normal1">&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="/5050/sarah-green/all-day-everyday-where-is-protection-against-violence-in-schools-and-universities">&#039;All day, everyday&#039;: where is the protection against violence in schools and universities?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/guilaine/since-i-gave-you-phone-it-s-not-rape">Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/asha-l-abeyasekera/gendered-dimension-of-space-singleness-and-world-of-not-belonging">Singleness and the world of &#039;not belonging&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/will-academia-ever-graduate-from-sexism">Will academia ever graduate from sexism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/what-will-it-take-to-end-violence-against-women-in-uk">What will it take to end violence against women in the UK? </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-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 UK 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Voices for Change violence against women feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter young feminists Helen Mott Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:09:57 +0000 Helen Mott 107439 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What lies beneath prostitution policy in New Zealand? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maddy-coy-pala-molisa/what-lies-beneath-prostitution-and-policy-in-new-zealand <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The rosy rhetoric that surrounds prostitution policy in New Zealand is being exposed by survivors of the prostitution system and the way that harm is glossed over by defenders of this approach.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/man-1461448_1920.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/man-1461448_1920.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Prostitution and trafficking are increasingly contested in international human rights and policy forums, with debates polarised around the question of whether the prostitution system entrenches institutionalised male dominance, or if its harm grows out of associated criminality and stigma. <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2016/04/12/4441722.htm" target="_blank">In April 2016 France joined other countries in adopting the approach now often referred to as the Nordic Model</a>&nbsp;– decriminalisation of selling sex alongside exit and support programmes, together with criminalisation of sex&nbsp;purchase.&nbsp;This human rights approach sits&nbsp;in sharp contrast to the endorsement of the New Zealand approach by Amnesty International and in the <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/26/26.pdf">interim report&nbsp;of&nbsp;the UK Home Affairs Select Committee</a>.</p> <p>So what do we know, and think we know, about the impacts of prostitution policy in New Zealand?&nbsp; </p> <p>In 2003, the NZ Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) decriminalised commercial sex businesses so that they now operate on a legal and legitimate basis. Defenders paint a rosy picture of this reform, claiming that decriminalisation of all aspects of prostitution minimises its harm, and makes the lives of women who are bought and sold for sex safer.</p> <p>This is not the reality of the NZ approach on the ground. </p> <p>It is chiefly through women who have written about their experiences of the prostitution system in NZ, that we know what we do about the gulf between rosy rhetoric and reality.&nbsp; For example, <a href="http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/the_evidence_from_new_zealand_the_new_york_times_ignored_20160601">Sabrinna Valisce, a survivor of the sex trade, has spoken powerfully</a> about the evidence that goes largely uncited and undocumented in research: the power handed to pimps when they became ‘legitimate businessmen’; &nbsp;increases in numbers of women in brothels; demands by men for cheaper prices and more ‘extras’; the normalisation of unwanted sexual practices like sex without condoms. <a href="http://www.feministcurrent.com/2016/05/02/working-in-a-new-zealand-brothel-was-anything-but-a-job-like-any-other/">Rae Story’s stirring account of her time in NZ brothels</a> indicates who really exercises the power in prostitution. Her<a href="https://medium.com/@raestory_23524/rae-story-interviews-prostitution-survivors-22c05f4b3329#.qp48ycuv7"> interviews with prostitution survivors</a> express scepticism and anger about decriminalisation. Sally (not her real name), a woman still in the sex industry, is blunt about the realities. She says: “Sexual assault and sexual harassment are part of the role. They are not isolated incidents. Our role is to be harassed, assaulted, raped. As well as to be an entertainer, counsellor, maid, masseuse”. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Silences that roar</strong></p> <p>The adulation of the NZ approach by its defenders masks the silence about women’s experiences of harm, with evidence glossed over or distorted. Take, for example, violence. </p> <p>The Westminster government<a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/26/26.pdf"> Home Affairs Select Committee</a> (HASC) interim report quotes several sources who claim that decriminalisation in NZ has ‘encouraged’ women to report violence, and that ‘women were allowed to report without fear of action by the police’. The HASC report cites a conclusion of the 2008 Prostitution Law Reform Act Committee (PLRAC) report: interviewees felt ‘women were more likely’ to report violence to the police under decriminalisation. These claims make a subtle but important elision: there is a difference between aiming to encourage women to report violence to the police, perceiving that women would be more likely to and/or were allowed to, and paying attention to the evidence that women are not actually reporting. Research cited by the PLRAC &nbsp;report for example, suggests that ‘few’ women across all sectors of the NZ sex industry had reported violence to the police. </p> <p>But let’s take a step back. The PLRAC report also states that the majority of women perceived that decriminalisation ‘could do little about the violence that occurred’. A <a href="https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/00PLSocRP12051/c62a00e57bd36e84aed237e357af2b7381a39f7e">2012 parliamentary paper</a> subsumes violence under ‘working conditions’ and cursorily acknowledges that violence and exploitation, including of children, has continued. The conclusion drawn in such reports is that violence is inevitable and that the best the law can hope for is to enable survivors to seek support in its aftermath. Exploitation of indigenous and Pacific women is glossed over, despite the role prostitut plays in entrenching colonisation and the knowledge of women’s organisations about coercion and trafficking of young Islander women. </p> <p>Why do we settle for this? At least four women involved in prostitution are known to have been murdered in NZ by sex buyers since 2003: Suzie Sutherland and Anna Louise Wilson in 2005; Ngatai Lynette Manning in 2008; Nuttidar Vaikaew in 2009. </p><p>Is all we aspire to that the one big achievement of decriminalisation is to help police solve the murders (as cited in the <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/26/26.pdf">HASC report</a>)? What has become of our goal of ending men’s violence against women, including lethal violence? Where is recognition that the prostitution system is built on misogyny and racism/colonisation? Where is women’s right to live free from violation? </p> <p>In 2012, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309823808_Prostitution_on_a_continuum_of_violence_against_women">Maddy and Janine Benedet</a> followed Sheila Jeffreys in extending <a href="http://nicolewestmarland.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/61214581/continuumNESV.ppt">Liz Kelly’s concept of the continuum of violence against women (VAW)</a> to the prostitution system. We argued that prostitution is a form of VAW in that it shares ‘common characters’ of gendered asymmetry; men’s entitlement; invasions of women’s bodies. Prostitution forms part of ‘a continuous series of elements or events’ of violence and violation in women’s lives. </p> <p>These ways of understanding prostitution and violence change how we make claims about, and how we measure, reductions of violence. If prostitution is a socially institutionalised practice of VAW, we can be much more ambitious about ending it. &nbsp;As the <a href="http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm">Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women</a> recognizes, violence against women is historically and socially constructed. That is, it is not natural and it is not inevitable. This means that harm minimisation is not the best we can do or the most we can hope for. If the violation at the heart of the prostitution system is socially constructed, then it can be socially un-constructed. </p> <p><strong>The erasure of men’s privilege </strong></p> <p>Now let’s go back one step further. Analysis of newspaper coverage of prostitution in New Zealnd from 2000-2013 by Pantea Farvid and Lauren Glass<a href="http://www.wsanz.org.nz/journal/docs/WSJNZ281FarvidGlass47-67.pdf"> found</a> that women who sell sex on the street were still ‘deplored’ and that men who buy sex were ‘noticeably absent’ in media reports. Decriminalisation has not dislodged the gendered stigma attached to the prostitution system. The PRA report and <a href="https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2014/vol-127-no.-1390/original-articles-abel">researchers </a>&nbsp;acknowledge this. &nbsp;This is no surprise to those of us who understand that stigma does not originate in the illegality of selling sex. In the prostitution system, women are literally ‘other’: dehumanised, disembodied for men’s sexual gratification. Casting women as criminals compounds this stigma. Its roots go far, far deeper. Not surprisingly, then, a key conclusion by Pantea Farvid and Lauren Glass is that NZ newspaper coverage individualises the issues at stake so that the context of persistent and ongoing inequality between women and men becomes invisible. This, as Pala has commented, echoes research on prostitution in NZ: ‘<a href="http://e-tangata.co.nz/news/breaking-the-silence">doesn’t look at sex as a way men can demonstrate</a> and enforce power over women.&nbsp;It’s research that paints a sanitised picture of the sex industry —&nbsp;a picture that doesn’t show the role of institutionalised male power in the sex industry’.</p> <p><strong>The need to choose – and choose again </strong></p> <p>Global debates over prostitution boil down to whether or not we can muster the courage to honestly confront the realities of systemic violence and structural power. The pro-full decriminalization lobby says prostitution is just “work”. But this can only hold by routinely downplaying and overlooking how prostitution is based on and reinforces oppressive systems of power. This can only be done if, deep down, we don’t really believe that women are truly human. If deep down, we don’t really believe that sexual objectification can be overcome. Or that male entitlement can be changed. If, deep down, we don’t really believe that men can change. Those who champion the NZ model choose to limit our visions to harm-minimisation while keeping the root causes of the harms in place. So we need to re-examine these choices. And choose again, differently. </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</em></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="/5050/susana-t-fried-sonia-correa/amnesty-international-should-sex-work-be-decriminalized">Amnesty International: should sex work be decriminalized? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/geetanjali-misra/feminist-defence-of-sex-workers%E2%80%99-rights">A feminist defence of sex workers’ rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/french-debate-on-prostitution">A French debate on prostitution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lucy-dixon/prostitution-and-drug-misuse-breaking-vicious-circle">Prostitution and drug misuse: breaking the vicious circle </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aziza-ahmed-jm-kirby/preventing-hiv-decriminalisation-of-sex-work">Preventing HIV: the decriminalisation of sex work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/laurie-penny-on-unspeakable-things">Laurie Penny on Unspeakable Things </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/issues-that-divide-building-diverse-feminist-movement">The issues that divide: building a diverse feminist movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alison-phipps/disappearing-sex-workers-in-amnesty-international-debate">&#039;Disappearing&#039; sex workers in the Amnesty International debate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-marisa-viana/our-bodies-as-battlegrounds">Our bodies as battlegrounds</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"> New Zealand </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 New Zealand 16 Days: activism against gender based violence bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Pala Molisa Maddy Coy Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:33:43 +0000 Maddy Coy and Pala Molisa 107234 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'All day, everyday': where is the protection against violence in schools and universities? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-green/all-day-everyday-where-is-protection-against-violence-in-schools-and-universities <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The scale of harassment and violence in schools means girls and boys need more than sex and relationships education. It’s time we used human rights law.</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/535193/Montreal.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Montreal.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'>Take Back the Night Protest at Concordia University, Montreal. Credit: Flickr / Howl Arts Collective</span></span></span></p><p>Women all over the world have used human rights law, whether domestic or in the international treaties, to challenge their Governments when they were not recognizing and respecting women’s human rights. Women lawyers have over decades used the core human rights treaties creatively to show governments that women’s bodies, freedom and dignity are as entitled to protection as men’s. The standards and precedents set by this agenda-setting work have benefitted millions of us. </p> <p>In 2014, the UK-based <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/">End Violence Against Women Coalition</a>, a group of more than 70 organisations including many who provide frontline support services to women and girls facing abuse in the UK, decided it was time to use these standards directly to challenge the abuse experienced by girls and young women in our education system. Women’s groups in the UK have campaigned for years for better policy and practice in our schools to both protect girls at risk of physical or sexual abuse in the home, FGM, sexual exploitation and more, and as a key way of disrupting attitudes that condone abuse in later life before they set in. But we felt there was a brick wall facing us as many of those in power insisted that what was in place to protect all children was enough. </p> <p><strong>A similar story in UK universities <br /></strong></p> <p>In 2014, when we were already campaigning for changes in the schools system in the UK, we were also made aware by women university student activists of high levels of assaults and harassment in universities here, and of poor responses by university leaders when these were reported to them. The EVAW Coalition saw an opportunity to test whether UK universities were acting unlawfully when they told women students reporting sexual assault, for example, that it was a criminal justice matter and that the university would take no action until the assault was reported to the police (and in some cases until there was a criminal conviction). </p> <p>We worked with a brilliant human rights and equalities specialist lawyer to write a legal opinion on UK universities’ obligations to protect women students. Our published and widely shared <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/resources/70/spotted-obligations-to-protect-women-students-safety-and-equality">legal briefing</a> referred to the UK’s Human Rights Act (1998) and to the Equality Act (2010), which is a powerful piece of legislation bringing together legal protections for many inequality strands and setting out the duties of all public bodies. It showed that universities, which are state funded in the UK, have an obligation to protect women students’ human rights, and that therefore responding to a rape allegation – an act disproportionately committed against women – by refusing to protect women students is unlawful. We also supported a <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11588353/Rape-case-Why-Im-suing-Oxford-University.html">woman</a> who took Oxford University to court over its failure to protect her human rights after she made a rape complaint. </p> <p>Our briefing helped to persuade the UK Government to instruct the representative body for universities in the UK to set up a Taskforce. We submitted evidence to the Taskforce and when it published its <a href="http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/news/Pages/Taskforce-publishes-recommendations-to-universities-on-dealing-with-violence-against-women-and-hara.aspx">recommendations</a> there was clear recognition that human rights law required a different response from universities. We know our legal briefing – and its clear instructions to women students on how to hold their institutions to account if they fail them– influenced those who had not been convinced. </p> <p><strong>The evidence on schools</strong></p> <p>The relatively swift recognition of the human rights case taught us a critical lesson. And the comparisons with the situation in our schools and girls’ human rights were obvious. </p> <p>5,500 sexual offences were reported to the police over a recent three year period as having taken place in British schools, including 600 rapes. Research carried out in 2010 found that almost one in three 16-18 year old girls had experienced ‘groping’ or other unwanted sexual touching when they were at school, and that 71% of 16-18 year olds said they heard sexual name-calling such as “slut” or “slag” towards girls every week. <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/sexual-harassment-and-sexual-violence-in-schools/written/33401.html">Evidence submitted by UK Feminista</a> to a Parliamentary inquiry stated that 25% of 11 to 16 year old girls say that concerns over potential sexual harassment make them consider whether or not to speak out in class. These figures describe endemic levels of sexual violence and harassment in UK schools. </p> <p>Attention has grown over the last two years as girls organisations, including <a href="https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/social-action-advocacy-and-campaigns/research/girls-attitudes-survey/">Girlguiding</a>, have highlighted experiences, and the UK Parliament has held multiple inquiries.&nbsp; Both &nbsp;uncovered damning evidence on harassment and assaults against girls in our schools alongside the failure of current schools policy and practice to deal with it. In September 2016 Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/91/91.pdf">published its report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools</a>, which included a recommendation that children have access to high quality and age-appropriate sex and relationships education (SRE). The curriculum should cover consent, healthy relationships, LGBT rights and relationships, gender stereotypes and online pornography. The report also noted, critically, that SRE lessons alone are not be enough. Teaching about respectful and equal relationships in the classroom would be meaningless if sexual harassment were to continue unchecked in the corridors outside. The committee recommended what the EVAW Coalition and many other women’s organisations were calling for: a “whole school approach” response to girls’ safety, including revision of child protection guidance, full engagement from school leaders, better teacher training and more. </p> <p>We commissioned our expert lawyer to produce an opinion on schools’ obligations to protect girls’ human rights. In September 2016 we published ‘<a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/resources/78/All-Day-Every-Day-Sexual-violence-in-schools-legal-briefing-Sept-2016.pdf"><em>All Day, Every Day’</em></a> which argued that schools are acting unlawfully when they fail to take action on sexual harassment and sexual assaults, leaving them open to potential legal challenges by girls and their families. </p> <p>The case studies in <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/resources/78/All-Day-Every-Day-Sexual-violence-in-schools-legal-briefing-Sept-2016.pdf"><em>All Day, Every Day</em></a> demonstrate that the level of harassment and abuse affects girls’ attendance and some drop out of school altogether. There is <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/91/91.pdf#page=13">clear evidence</a> that this violence is unequivocally gendered, and schools’ responses need to reflect this reality. </p> <p>Furthermore, within the category of ‘young women and girls’, certain groups are particularly affected by sexual harassment:<a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/91/91.pdf#page=14"> young women and girls from black and ethnic minority (BME) groups</a> and LGBTI young women and girls have specific experiences. </p> <p><strong>A vision for the future</strong> </p> <p>Our legal briefing showed schools were likely to be acting unlawfully when they failed to recognize the disproportionate threat of harassment and abuse faced by girls. Moreover, government guidance to schools which does not recognize specific threats to girls’ human rights is itself potentially unlawful. We recommended that schools urgently develop an understanding about sexual harassment. A zero tolerance policy should be introduced, alongside staff training and a review of existing policies (including bullying and child protection) to ensure that they include explicit, gendered reference to sexual harassment and abuse by peers.</p><p><br /> In addition, the&nbsp;government&nbsp;needs to provide clear leadership and guidance for schools and&nbsp;school&nbsp;governors. This needs to include legislation to make high quality, age appropriate&nbsp;sex and relationships education (SRE)&nbsp;compulsory: a failure to do so &nbsp;constitutes discrimination against girls.</p> <p>A range of ‘campaigning tactics’ have been needed to take on an issue of this scale – including the surveys which have exposed the scale of abuse, the development of policy on what good SRE looks like, the <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/-srenow-petition">publicity</a> and partnerships designed to bring the public on board. Making clear and bold human rights based arguments for change in schools has been absolutely critical. It shows that what we want for girls is not “aspirational” or “achievable in an ideal world”, but is already required under existing provisions which are connected to the global agreement on human rights standards. </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</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="/5050/harriet-williamson/not-just-banter-epidemic-of-sexism-on-university-campuses">Not just banter: the epidemic of sexism on university campuses </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/holly-dustin/preventing-abuse-in-uk-matter-of-education">Preventing abuse in the UK: a matter of education </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dalia-hajomar/sudanese-university-students-demand-campus-free-of-violence">Sudanese university students demand a campus free of violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/breaking-free-womens-movement-India-universities">Breaking Free: a women&#039;s movement in Indian universities </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/abiola-odejide/what-can-woman-do-gender-norms-in-nigerian-university"> &quot;What can a woman do?&quot; Gender norms in a Nigerian university</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sian-norris/sexual-harassment-in-uk-schools">Sexual harassment in UK schools</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/will-academia-ever-graduate-from-sexism">Will academia ever graduate from sexism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/harriet-williamson/sex-education-in-uk-time-for-farreaching-overhaul">Sex education in the UK: time for a far-reaching overhaul </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</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-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 UK 16 Days: activism against gender based violence violence against women feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Leah Cowan Sarah Green Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:07:12 +0000 Sarah Green and Leah Cowan 107049 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK? https://www.opendemocracy.net/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/whats-race-got-to-do-with-it-fight-against-domestic-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dedicated refuges were created to answer a desperate need. Now their survival is at risk.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p>Balancing her baby daughter on her lap, Leah* sits in a bright room on the top floor of an East London office block. It’s a lively part of town. Newly built luxury flats tower over streets lined with decades-old black beauty shops, one-stop mobile phone stalls. The storefronts of family-run greengrocers are piled high with yams and bowls of okra, peppers and coriander.&nbsp;</p> <p>Leah is waiting to get help and advice from <a href="http://lawadv.org.uk">Latin American Women’s Aid</a>. They’re a small charity challenging violence against women and working with survivors of domestic abuse. They rent three rooms — one for an office, a crèche space for children and a place to see women.</p> <p>Lawa, as the group is widely known, opened in 1986 and they run the only domestic violence refuge for Latin Americans in the UK. Like other refuges and organisations set up in 70s and 80s Britain, they arose from radical women’s rights and anti-racist movements. Domestic violence shelters specifically for black, south-Asian, Chinese, Latin American and other ethnic minority women, now bundled under the term BAME, were founded because these women weren’t getting support from statutory or mainstream places.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest2_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest2_1.jpg" alt="lead lead lead Young woman holds banner. It says: "BME refuges are bridges to safety."" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sisters Uncut block city bridges across the UK ahead of govt. spending statement. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Decades on, by the time the Coalition government made deep cuts in public spending in 2010, many BAME domestic violence organisations, including Lawa, relied on council funding to pay for part, if not all, of what they offered. Bed spaces, English as a second language classes, counselling, childcare, time intensive advice work, court assistance.</p> <p>But in the past six years, cash-strapped local authorities have cut back frontline domestic violence services, diverting money from small specialist providers and awarding contracts to larger organisations making promises to deliver more for less money. </p> <p>Each year Women’s Aid surveys the state of refuge and service provision, each year the numbers are worse and each year brings news of another refuge closed. </p> <p>Then, last month, in response to the worsening crisis, the government released a £20m pot of funding for local authorities to bid for, in partnership with local specialist domestic violence providers. “Domestic abuse knows no barriers,” said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. “It can happen to anyone of us, at any time. Our £20 million fund is designed to increase refuge spaces and ensure that no victim is ever turned away from the essential support they need.” The government said the fund was “also seeking to address the needs of diverse communities, including BME victims and those from isolated communities, so they can access support and help.”</p> <p>But there’s a problem.</p><hr /><p>It is a Tuesday when Leah visits Lawa’s drop-in session, and already she is dreading the weekend. Leah is 25 and lives in a two-bedroom flat with her husband Gabriel*, her baby and four other adults.</p> <p>Alejandra, one of Lawa’s case workers, sits across from Leah, taking notes at a table between them. </p> <p>Behind Alejandra, there’s a colour photo of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and a poster: “Unity, Strength, Resistance” splashed on red. Across the room Rosie the Riveter has been refashioned into four women: black, Spanish, white and Native American. The caption reads, Si, Se Puede! A Post-it note stuck to a cork noticeboard says, “Hey you don’t give up. Okay.” </p> <p>Leah tells Alejandra that she needs housing advice— that’s the purpose of her visit. But as Alejandra listens, another story emerges.&nbsp; </p> <p>Originally from Guatemala, Leah and Gabriel have lived in the UK for little over a year. Like nearly half of all Latin American migrants in London, Leah’s husband took an unskilled job. He cleans nine hours a day, and earns roughly £1,300 each month. Most weekends he drinks heavily, using alcohol to ease the disappointments of their life in London. </p> <p>Leah smiles and bounces her four-month old daughter on her lap. “He is a good man,” she says. “He is a good dad. It is just that the alcohol makes him aggressive.” </p> <p>Alejandra asks: “Are you frightened?”</p> <p>“No.” Leah shakes her head, still smiling. He is frustrated, she adds, the housing situation is unbearable and the family struggle to survive on his wages. </p> <p>It’s a familiar story to the women running Lawa. Men forced to work long hours in menial, ‘feminised’ jobs, become violent and abusive towards their wives.&nbsp; </p> <p>In Leah’s case the abuse is verbal. Malicious comments, name calling, heated arguments over money. Except the one time he grabbed her by the throat.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersuncutprotest9.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersuncutprotest9.jpg" alt="Protestors walk on Waterloo Bridge carrying large banner. It says, "Give migrant survivors access to D.V services."" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Waterloo Bridge, London. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>Between 2001 and 2011 Britain’s Latin American community grew fourfold. And though Latin Americans are not officially recognised as an ethnic minority, they experience the harassment, employment discrimination and problems that affect other minority groups in the UK. </p> <p>There are high employment rates for Latin Americans in London (85 per cent compared to the average for other foreign-born residents, 55 per cent), but much of that work, around 70 per cent, is concentrated in cleaning, hospitality and catering, despite professional training and experience acquired in their home countries.</p> <p>They face discrimination at work, 11 per cent are illegally paid below the minimum wage and the majority send a significant chunk of their low incomes back home. As with other poor and even middle income households in London, it is impossible to find decent housing, close to the centre where many of them work cleaning corporate buildings.</p> <p>These are the conditions revealed through research by Trust for London in the 2011 report No Longer Invisible. Few Latin Americans in London access public services, the report says, one in five never visit a GP. The restrictions on legal aid for poor migrants means few can get legal advice to regularise their migration status to access the full range of rights citizens receive. Settling into British life is difficult because of the unsociable hours in the typical jobs available, like cleaning and hotel work. English as a second language lessons are most likely to be during work hours or when people need to sleep because they work nights.</p> <p>When a woman in this community faces domestic violence, her experience intersects with the other problems she faces as a disadvantaged minority. The threat of homelessness, poverty, childcare, immigration, language needs, among other things.<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest8_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sistersprotest8_0.jpg" alt="Young women at protest. Banner says, "Black services for black sisters."" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Around 600 women and non-binary people took part in Sisters Uncut actions in Newcastle, Bristol, Glasgow and London. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>This is where Lawa comes in. “The language barrier is almost the smallest issue women face if they go to a generic service,” says Salma, Lawa’s senior development officer. She adds: “The most important thing is that when they come through our doors, they are believed, culturally understood and properly supported, rather than judged and discriminated. BME services play a key role in building a bridge between BME survivors, local services and the wider British society. In our last user survey, 85 per cent of women did not feel confident enough to access mainstream services prior to seeing Lawa.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Lawa has changed over the years as more Latin Americans have arrived in London, mostly from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, and often via Portugal or Spain. As Home Secretary, Theresa May promised to create a hostile environment for migrants, and migrant women fleeing violence were no exception. Many of Lawa’s cases are “European Economic Area cases”, that is Latin American women with an EU passport from Spain or Portugal. Lawa sees women who flee to the UK after some sort of crisis, abuse by a relative or spouse. Or the women might be living in the UK on a spousal visa, linked to their husband’s British/European Economic Area status.</p> <p>In both cases Home Office rules restrict their access to public services, which means they are more likely to be destitute, homeless and vulnerable to exploitation and further violence. Women can apply to have the restriction lifted, but the threshold for proving violence and destitution, thus entitling them to public support, is high. The recent changes to immigration law have created a culture of suspicion among public sector professionals who aren’t always sure what foreign born women are entitled to and so lean towards refusing services or charging for it. </p> <p>One of Alejandra’s clients lives in the UK on a spousal visa. Originally from Colombia, she is married to a British man. He’s ex-Army, has access to guns that he uses to threaten her. She wants to leave, but her spousal visa comes with the condition that she has no recourse to public funds. </p> <p>Alejandra found a bed for her at a shelter that accepts ‘no recourse’ women. She is lucky; there are few such refuges in the country. The next step is securing a non-molestation order to prevent the husband from contacting her. This is expensive — they’ll need legal aid. Even then, it’s a tall order. She’ll need to prove destitution and provide evidence of the domestic violence. This involves gathering and collating GP letters, a marriage certificate, passport, bank statements and evidence from the refuge. If and when legal aid is secure, Alejandra can go ahead and apply for the non-molestation order. All this could take weeks. </p> <p>“Working with women who have no recourse to public funds is tough,” says Victoria, Lawa’s violence against women and girls coordinator. “What happens after the initial help? There are so few places we can send the women to. There aren’t many organisations that work with no recourse women, so we have to do the work ourselves. But we are a small charity with limited capacity and can’t indefinitely support the neediest women with no extra funding.”</p> <p>On the day of Leah’s visit, Victoria is working across the corridor in Lawa’s office on the phone, trying to reach a local GP. Other Lawa staff dash in and out, speaking in Spanish and English, to each other and on the phone to clients. Camilla, Lawa’s counsellor, has just secured a grant to expand the charity’s mental health support next year. Nayane, originally from Brazil, rushes out to help an Angolan woman, who has arrived with letters from the Department for Work &amp; Pensions stopping her grandson’s Disability Living Allowance. She is his sole carer and unsure of what to do next. Nayane gets on the phone to the DWP. </p> <p>Victoria shushes her colleagues as the doctor answers the phone. He wants £20 for a letter explaining the domestic violence Victoria’s client has experienced. “My client has nothing,” Victoria tells me later. “She was totally dependent on her husband.” </p> <p>Without the letter, they might not secure legal aid, which the woman needs to fight her husband in the family courts for custody of their children. In the worst cases women are deported, made homeless or forced to stay with their abusive partner.</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST4_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST4_0.jpg" alt="Protestors shout while walking across Waterloo Bridge. " 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'>"You block our bridges, so we block yours." Rallying cry at feminist direct action protest against cuts to DV services. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>More women than ever need help. Lawa can’t keep up. Two years ago, Islington Council stopped funding Lawa’s work. “Since then we have been struggling to balance the books,” says Salma. “We continue to provide the service by going above and beyond, but there is great insecurity. We don’t know how much longer we will be able to provide the service women deserve without additional funding.”</p> <p>About that £20m funding pot from the government. The design and structure of the commissioning process may block access to the groups who serve “BME victims and those from isolated communities”. Groups like Lawa. </p> <p>Earlier this year, research among charities based in London where around 40 per cent of the population is from an ethnic minority, revealed a profound lack of trust in the people who commission services. Imkaan, a black feminist network of violence against women and girls organisations, reported that many of its members felt local commissioners did not recognise the importance and necessity of BAME services. </p> <p>In England last year 662 women were turned away from domestic violence refuges because they had no recourse to public funds, up from 389 the year before. These women would have already been denied access to social housing, benefits or legal advice because of their status. There are no safe places for them to flee to. “The women we work with are victims twice over,” says Victoria. “First of domestic violence and then of the system's refusal to help them.”</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST7_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/SISTERSPROTEST7_0.jpg" alt="Protestor holds placard. It says, "Trans services for trans survivors are bridges to safety."" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>One of Sisters Uncut demands is comprehensive DV services for all, especially underserved communities of black and brown, disabled and LGBT+ survivors. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><div>In May, MPs held a parliamentary debate about the future of domestic violence refuges. Labour MP Julie Cooper called the debate todiscuss the lack of ring-fenced funding for women’s refuges. Cooper directed her plea to George Osborne, the then Chancellor responsible for orchestrating Conservative spending cuts, said: “At the end of every cut he makes to local authorities, there is a woman who will die, avoidably, at the hands of a man who once promised to love her. Cuts to public spending are creating orphans who could have grown up with parents. I beg the Minister to ensure that this Government do not unravel 40 years of good work. I beg him to listen and to act without delay.”<br /> <p>More than one politician said they feared BAME specialists services would not survive. Sarah Champion, Labour MP, spoke up for Lawa and for Apna Haq, a small domestic violence charity in her own constituency of Rotherham. “Such dedicated services are vital for women,” she said. “They are experts in their provision, designed and delivered by, and for, the users and communities they serve. The women who seek shelter see themselves reflected in the staffing and the management of the services.</p><p>“ … specialist services are trusted by the women who use them. Their presence is known in the community, meaning that women will self-refer, enabling those women to leave a violent relationship because they know that support exists.”</p> <p>But what if that support is taken away?</p><hr /><p><br />Leah’s interview with Alejandra lasted about 25, 30 minutes, long enough to squash any dream of finding a rented flat for just herself, her husband and daughter by in London. “It’s going to be very difficult to find somewhere to live, especially on his wages,” Alejandra said. They might qualify for housing benefit, but they need to find a place to live first and a contract before applying. “It is impossible.” A look on Leah’s face suggests she knew this. She smiled, then more questions. If I go back to Guatemala without telling him? What will happen? And then: I would like to divorce him. A divorce would invalidate her right to remain in the UK. Leah gets up to leave and puts her daughter into her pushchair. She plans to come back to Lawa for the free English lessons. Alejandra has told her about a service in north London for families with drug or alcohol problems, the couple should attend together. If your husband refuses, she says, “Call me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</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/karen-ingala-smith/when-man-kills-woman">When a Man Kills a Woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/jeremy-corbyn-and-women-matter-of-policy-not-appointment">Jeremy Corbyn and women: a matter of policy not appointment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maid-in-london/exposing-daily-violence-of-womens-hotel-work">Exposing the daily violence of women&#039;s hotel work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rahila-gupta/assault-on-bme-womens-organisations-in-uk">16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women&#039;s organisations </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</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"> Economics </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk 50.50 uk UK Economics Equality Care and justice The attack on legal aid Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light 16 Days: activism against gender based violence gender justice Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 06 Dec 2016 07:30:59 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 107377 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Singleness and the world of 'not belonging' https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/asha-l-abeyasekera/gendered-dimension-of-space-singleness-and-world-of-not-belonging <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The repertoires about single women are unequivocal: without a husband and children, single women signify ‘lack’ - they are incomplete and therefore do not belong. 'Gender' and 'space' are both embodied experiences.</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/501857/Singleness3(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Singleness3(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="399" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Singleness. Image: pixabay.com</span></span></span></p> <p>Let me begin with a story, which is set in urban middle-class Sri Lanka. </p> <p>It had been six years since Ruwanthi (36) had left her violent and alcoholic husband after enduring five years of severe psychological and physical abuse.&nbsp; When I met her, Ruwanthi was living with her older sister’s family who had offered her refuge, reluctantly at first, after she could not “drag this along [sic] anymore”.&nbsp;&nbsp; She now had a full-time job at a Montessori and she also baked cakes to supplement her income.&nbsp; Ruwanthi presented herself as a resourceful person who her extended family, as well as friends, relied on especially in the organisation of events such as a birthday party or wedding. Yet, her life-history was redolent of a sense of being ‘out of place’.&nbsp; Two moments in Ruwanthi’s narrative stood out.&nbsp; Ruwanthi told me: </p> <p><em class="blockquote-new">“I love going on trips […] When my family plans them I am always the one organising […] and coordinating […] When I stop and look around, however, I feel so alone. Then I think, ‘if [my husband] were here, at least I would not be alone. I would belong somewhere.’ Everyone has someone. The children will play together, my mother will chat with my aunts […] I feel like I am drifting […] It’s a strange thing. Everyone needs me. I am the first to be called when there is a party or a funeral. I do all the running around.&nbsp; I am always in the kitchen helping out. I feel odd when I am doing nothing."</em></p> <p>The marginality Ruwanthi conveys here is visceral—an emotional response to the deep-rooted cultural expectation that a woman’s identity, status, and sense of belonging depend on her being married.&nbsp;&nbsp; Later, Ruwanthi’s narrative illustrated the deeply corporal dimension of her marginality when she described her living arrangements.&nbsp; Her sister and brother-in-law lived in a small three-bedroom house. They occupied the main room, their teenaged daughter shared a room with her grandmother, and the third room belonged to their adolescent son. Ruwanthi slept in the landing upstairs where the TV was installed.&nbsp; </p> <p><em class="blockquote-new">"Sometimes I crave a nap […] Just a few minutes when I have had a difficult day. I have to wait until everyone goes to sleep before I can even shower and change.&nbsp; If there is a [cricket] match, my brother-in-law watches TV till late […] If my niece is studying she will ask me to lie down on her bed, but I don’t like to impose […] I shouldn’t be ungrateful. They took me in. So, I am careful.&nbsp; I wait for everyone to finish their dinner before I start my cake orders […] I don’t want my sister feeling like I am invading her kitchen. I don’t want anyone to feel I am in their way."</em></p> <p>Ruwanthi’s narrative powerfully evokes how marginality is a deeply embodied experience.&nbsp; That Ruwanthi cannot fully occupy the space that she calls ‘home’, that she must continuously negotiate where she places her body in relation to others goes beyond a metaphysical experience.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>The theory</strong></p> <p>Feminists have highlighted how ‘single women’ as a category continues to be regarded as a ‘problem’ that must be rectified. Psychologists <a href="http://oro.open.ac.uk/2784/1/Discursive_climate_paper.pdf">Jill Reynolds and Margaret Wetherell (2003)</a>, for example, illustrate how the notion of singleness as a ‘deficit identity’ has a powerful influence over how single women present themselves: justifying their decision to be single, and claiming meaning and their life’s worth as originating outside of marriage. <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780230273825">Anthea Taylor (2012)</a> argues that single women are ‘pathologised’: their independence and autonomy often read as a poor ‘trade-off’ to marriage and family. &nbsp;In Sri Lanka, as in other parts of South Asia and elsewhere, the ideal of companionate marriage—imagined as a union of two persons and based on intimacy and pleasure—amplifies the marginalisation of single women. The repertoires about single women are unequivocal: without a husband and children, single women signify ‘lack’—they are incomplete and, therefore, do not belong. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Excel World-facebook generation.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Excel World-facebook generation.JPG" 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'>Facebook generation, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Image Asha L.Abeyasekera.</span></span></span></p> <p>The feminist discourse about gender and space in South Asia (and beyond) has tended to focus on women’s access to public space. Issues of women’s safety and security are central to these dialogues. It is explicit in the discussions about women’s mobility: the experience of sexual harassment on public transport and the imminent risk of sexual assault on the streets as women move between ‘the home and the world’.&nbsp; It is also implicit in the debates on women’s equality in the workplace where sexual harassment precludes women from fully enjoying the rights and privileges as their male counterparts. &nbsp;<a href="http://digital.lib.ou.ac.lk/docs/bitstream/701300122/1096/1/sandya%20and%20FTZ.pdf">Sandya Hewamanne (2003)</a>, commenting on the experiences of young women working in the Free-Trade Zone in Sri Lanka, argues that sexual harassment operates as a form of disciplining, a way of communicating that women do not belong in the public domain without familial guardianship. </p> <p>The idea that gender identities are relational—that they are constituted in and through our engagements with the social world—is now academic commonplace. Equally commonplace is the reconceptualization of space as relational. Feminist political geographers like <a href="http://oro.open.ac.uk/7224/1/Geographies_of_responsibility_Sept03.pdf">Doreen Massey (2004)</a> and <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262127061_The_Way_She_Moves_Mapping_the_Everyday_Production_of_Gender-Space">Shilpa Ranade (2007)</a> have argued that social space is not a neutral backdrop against which social relations are enacted, but that gender relations are constituted by socio-spatial constructs. &nbsp; </p> <p>For Ruwanthi these seemingly clichéd ideas in feminist theory about gender identity and gendered space become deeply salient in the way she feels she does not belong—not on her family trip, not at social events, and certainly not at home.&nbsp; Her life not only exemplifies how ‘singleness’ is a marginal identity and status, but her experience as a single woman is rooted in how she can inhabit space in the intimate sphere of kinship and family. Ruwanthi is accommodated by her family, but tolerance comes with an extraordinary price: her invisibility.&nbsp; She must be ‘inconspicuous’—and what this means in terms of her behaviour is very much about how and when Ruwanthi can occupy space.&nbsp; The spatial dimension of Ruwanthi’s marginality as a single woman—her sense of ‘not belonging’—brought home to me what feminists mean when they claim that ‘gender’ and ‘space’ are both embodied experiences. </p> <p><strong>Belonging</strong></p> <p>The <a href="http://genderedspace.blogspot.com/">‘gender and space project’</a> conducted in Mumbai focused on how men and women “locate themselves in and move through public space in their everyday negotiation of space” (Ranade 2007). The findings offer critical insight to my discussion about single women’s sense of belonging as an embodied experience. The study calls for a radical shift in the debates about ‘gender and space’ from the realm of ‘danger and safety’ to that of ‘risk and pleasure’. &nbsp;<a href="https://www.academia.edu/270062/Dangerous_Liaisons_Women_and_Men-Risk_and_Reputation_In_Mumbai">Shilpa Phadke (2007)</a> points out that “that even the most&nbsp;desirable of urban subjects [i.e., middle-class women] are offered only conditional access&nbsp;to [public] spaces (p.1510). Shilpa Ranade (2007) argues that by focusing on women’s safety, the debates ignore how women are denied the pleasure of ‘loitering’, i.e., occupying public spaces as men do when ‘hanging out’ or ‘gazing at others’.&nbsp; She asserts that ‘loitering’ is a ‘male privilege’, claiming that “women can access public space legitimately only when they can manufacture a <em>sense of purpose</em> for being there” (<em>my emphasis</em>).&nbsp; </p> <p>The idea that women must justify their occupation of public space speaks to Ruwanthi’s experiences in the intimate sphere.&nbsp; Ruwanthi, sans marriage and children, must justify her place in her family by helping out at family events.&nbsp; When she’s not doing anything useful—in the evenings after work—Ruwanthi must be invisible. Like the millions of women on the streets and in offices, Ruwanthi as a single woman can belong only if she has a purpose. </p> <p>My conversation with Ruwanthi was an extraordinary moment in which an abstract theory became crystallised in a respondent’s narrative: the feminist concept of gendered space. As Doreen Massey <a href="https://books.google.lk/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=X_uVogLRjQsC&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PR10&amp;dq=MASSEY,+D.+1995.+Spatial+divisions+of+labor:+Social+structures+and+the+geography+of+production,+Psychology+Press.&amp;ots=UKBpRoL1vD&amp;sig=Erd0zrpbr6cRN1dXeATEbEukSeY&amp;redir_esc=y#v=onepage&amp;q=MASSEY%2C%20D.%201995.%20Spatial%20divisions%20of%20labor%3A%20Social%20structures%20and%20the%20geography%20of%20production%2C%20Psychology%20Press.&amp;f=false">(1995)</a> observes, “things are more easily said than understood or thought through into practice”.&nbsp; </p> <p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.</a></strong></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sri Lanka </div> <div class="field-item even"> 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"> Culture </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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openIndia India Sri Lanka Civil society Culture Equality 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 newsletter gender women and power Asha L. Abeyasekera Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:27:36 +0000 Asha L. Abeyasekera 107278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Femicide in Mexico and Guatemala https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mabel-encinas/femicide-in-mexico-and-guatemala <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Feminists in Mexico and Guatemala working on femicide also use the concept of ‘feminicide’ to draw attention to state complicity in the killings of women. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/mabel-encinas/femicidio-en-m-jico-y-guatemala">Español</a></em></strong></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/535193/La Catrina Indignada FINAL.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/La Catrina Indignada FINAL.jpg" 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'>La Catrina Indignada (Incensed Catrina) by Mabel Encinas. Catrina collage of the women dead by feminicide.</span></span></span></p><p>The word ‘feminicide’ was popularised over twenty years ago to denounce the killing of women due to their gender. The crime is called ‘<a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/terrorizing-women" target="_blank">feminicide</a>’ (‘<em>feminicidio</em>’) in Mexico and ‘<a href="http://www.dianarussell.com/origin_of_femicide.html" target="_blank">femicide</a>’ (‘<em>femicidio</em>’) in Guatemala. Although there have been some&nbsp;<a href="https://dlynx.rhodes.edu/jspui/bitstream/10267/27456/1/The%20World%27s%20Most%20Dangerous%20Place%20to%20be%20a%20Woman%20Final.pdf" target="_blank">attempts to differentiate the two concepts</a>, both terms&nbsp;emerge as a form of resistance: to assert that women’s lives matter, and such crimes should not go unpunished. Impunity contributes to the <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=Pjhq3eGcO4EC&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PA5&amp;dq=femicide+in+ciudad+juarez+unsafe+streets+empty+lots+&amp;ots=K_a_fN_VFf&amp;sig=n5OYE3RCbsvdPV5UHe-x9kMsZvo#v=onepage&amp;q=unsafe%20streets&amp;f=false" target="_blank">normalisation of the feminicide machine</a>. This ‘machine’ is supported by gender inequality as the <a href="http://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r26767.pdf">Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights</a> have suggested.</p> <p>Feminicide is part of a wider issue within cultures of gender inequality; men’s violence against women and girls -&nbsp; violence which attacks&nbsp;<a href="http://equidadgenero9.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/isabel-claudia-martinez-alvarez.html" target="_blank">their dignity, their integrity and their lives</a>&nbsp;and is part of gender orders which accord little value to the lives of women. &nbsp;In Mexico and Central America <a href="http://observatoriofeminicidiomexico.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Iniciativa-Feminicidios-Federal1.pdf">murder is often preceded by beating, mutilations, burns, other forms of torture and by sexual violence</a>. Feminicide is an intentional crime, but too often impunity rules, especially when it is women living in poverty, and in the case of Mexico and Guatemala, indigenous women.</p> <p>In both countries, feminists challenge the indifference and<a href="http://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r26767.pdf" target="_blank"> negligence</a>&nbsp;of justice systems, connecting this to institutionalised gender inequality, victim blame, and terror inducing sensationalism. It is this complicity which leads activists to argue that feminicide should be considered a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r26767.pdf" target="_blank">state crime</a>. </p> <h3><strong>Mexico</strong></h3> <p>In 1993, a pattern of woman killing became evident in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua, Mexico. The first woman in the list of victims was actually a girl, <a href="https://hipertextual.com/2016/10/feminicidios-en-mexico">Alma Chavira Farel</a>. That year, the first coalition of organisations, mothers, feminists and academics <a href="http://www.sdmujer.gov.co/inicio/782-campo-algodonero-historica-sentencia-en-los-casos-de-feminicidio">denounced the systematic violence against women in Ciudad Juárez</a>.&nbsp; A number of civil society organisations have emerged since (<em>Casa Amiga</em>, <em>Nuestras Hijas de Regreso</em>, <em>Justicia para nuestras hijas</em>, <em>Red Mesa de Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez</em>, and <em>Ni una más</em>). &nbsp;Most of the dead women of Juarez have been adolescents and young adults, many of them workers in maquila factories.</p> <p>Maquila companies process raw materials from other countries, mainly the US, with products exported back to be branded and commercialised. Multinational companies benefit from the use of cheap labour, usually employing women from small towns and rural areas, who are presumed to be<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=7Kj-6T54PrcC&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PP1&amp;dq=write+Disposable+Women+and+Other+Myths+of+Global+Capitalism&amp;ots=IlnXQjlX8c&amp;sig=lPL_QTS83YNCRfdC1WPF5Yt8Amc#v=onepage&amp;q=write%20Disposable%20Women%20and%20Other%20Myths%20of%20Globa"> more docile than men</a>. The turnover is extremely high: women workers are squeezed to the last drop and then replaced by others. Their welfare is of little concern and their human rights are violated as a matter of course. Apart from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alternet.org/labor/after-20-years-nafta-thanks-nafta-what-happened-mexican-factory-workers-rosa-moreno" target="_blank">the working conditions</a>, factories are situated in deserted areas. It is this harsh reality, combined with a location on the border with the presence of <a href="http://www.cpcjalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Necropolitics-Narcopolitics-and-Femicide-Gendered-Violence-on-the-Mexico-US-Border.pdf">organised crime, drug trafficking and the presence of the army</a>, that creates a conducive context for the increase of feminicide.</p> <p><a href="http://juarez-the-city-where-women-are-disposable.deserial.com/ver-pelicula/dHQxMTU4NzIz/" target="_blank">In the wake of the <em>Dead Women of Juarez</em></a>, feminist groups highlighted the fact that feminicides happened <a href="https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/40998/Hietbrink%2c%20Eline-s1376705-BA%20Thesis%20POWE-2016.pdf?sequence=1">in many other regions</a>. The first data came from the most populated state (county), the state of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City, where 840 women were killed between 2011 and 2013. It is unclear how these crimes are classified. and <a href="http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/entrada-de-opinion/articulo/arnoldo-kraus/nacion/2016/03/13/feminicidio-en-mexico">only 145 were investigated</a> as feminicides. Additionally, 1,500 women have disappeared between 2005 and 2013, mainly adolescents between 15 and 17 years old. The pattern both in Ciudad Juarez and the state of Mexico is similar where <a href="http://www.fronterad.com/?q=bitacoras/javiermolina/entrevista-a-sergio-gonzalez-rodriguez-%E2%80%9Clo-perverso-y-barbarie-se-han-incrustado-en-mexico%E2%80%9D">organised crime, economic power and corruption coincide</a>. </p> <p>Between 2011 and 2014, the rate of feminicides increased five times, and between 2013 and 2015 <a href="http://www.economiahoy.mx/nacional-eAm-mx/noticias/7406635/03/16/Siete-mujeres-mueren-al-dia-en-Mexico-victimas-de-la-violencia.html" target="_blank">6488 women were killed</a>. In 2016, 3,000 women were been killed between January and mid-October, of which 1,185 have been identified as feminicides. &nbsp;In Mexico, a country of 120 million inhabitants, 77% of feminicides are not prosecuted, with a large proportion of bodies never identified. </p> <p>Community organisations and victim’s families have challenged state impunity and raised awareness, which has resulted in law reform. In 2007, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LGAMVLV_171215.pdf" target="_blank">General Law of Women’s Access to a Life Free from Violence</a>&nbsp;was passed, and the crime of feminicide was specified in the Federal Penal Code in 2011. Currently 49 human rights and women organisations form a coalition – the National Citizen Observatory of Feminicide (<a href="http://observatoriofeminicidio.blogspot.co.uk/p/organizaciones-integrantes.html"><em>Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional del Feminicidio</em></a>). This organisation monitors feminicides, the application of the law, and demands accountability from the institutions responsible for preventing and prosecuting violence against women.</p> <h3><strong>Guatemala</strong></h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Mujeres de Guatemala.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Mujeres de Guatemala.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'>Festival "Yo soy voz de la memoria y cuerpo de la libertad" (I am the voice of memory and the body of freedom), Guatemala, February 2011. Credit: Albertina Cabrera</span></span></span></p><p>Femicide is even more <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/guatemala/report-guatemala/">prevalent in Guatemala</a>, possibly&nbsp;<a href="https://dlynx.rhodes.edu/jspui/bitstream/10267/27456/1/The%20World%27s%20Most%20Dangerous%20Place%20to%20be%20a%20Woman%20Final.pdf" target="_blank">the most dangerous place to be a woman</a>. In a country of 15 million people, an estimated&nbsp;<a href="http://mujerguatemala.org/?portfolio=femicide-feminicide" target="_blank">6500 women</a>&nbsp;were murdered between 2000 and 2012 and that number <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/guatemala/report-guatemala/">continues to rise</a>. In 2014, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/guatemala/report-guatemala/">766 women were murdered</a>. An average of <a href="http://ggm.org.gt/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hist%C3%B3rico-y-tasa-junio-2016.pdf">2 women are killed every day</a> and only&nbsp;<a href="http://mujerguatemala.org/?portfolio=femicide-feminicide" target="_blank">2% of femicides are prosecuted</a>. &nbsp;Among <a href="http://mujerguatemala.org/?portfolio=femicide-feminicide">the most vulnerable are women</a> living in poverty or women in prostitution, who often have been victims of trafficking and live under the control of organised crime. </p> <p>The fact that Guatemala has been a pioneer in the recognition of feminicide is the result of the activism of groups of women fighting for their rights, such as <a href="http://ggm.org.gt/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hist%C3%B3rico-y-tasa-junio-2016.pdf"><em>Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres</em></a>, Women for Justice, Education and Awareness (<em>Mujeres por la Justicia, Educación y el Reconocimiento</em>) and CAIMUS (<em>Centros de Apoyo Integral para Mujeres Sobrevivientes de Violencia</em>). Despite having achieved the <a href="http://www.oas.org/dil/esp/Ley_contra_el_Femicidio_y_otras_Formas_de_Violencia_Contra_la_Mujer_Guatemala.pdf">Law against Femicide and other forms of Violence Against Women</a>, the legacy of the civil war of the 60s has been pervasive. The country has a weak democracy and <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/laps.12001/full" target="_blank">a corrupt government</a>, which has produced a culture where there is limited accountability of state authorities, which results in impunity for those who kill women.</p> <p>This combination of impunity and the devaluation of women in a society with ingrained <em>machismo</em> and misogyny is evident in the <a href="http://ggm.org.gt/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/monitoreoLeyContraElFemicidio.pdf">brutality against the bodies of the victims</a>, which show evidence of rape, torture and mutilation.&nbsp; Almost all (90%) of the indigenous population live below the poverty line. Their marginalisation is evident in the fact that despite indigenous people being <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/49749d163c.html">half the population</a>, the media still tends to portray European characters. </p> <p>Legal reforms in Mexico and Guatemala have recognised femicide but this has, so far, made little if any difference.&nbsp; Both countries still need to ensure that the perpetrators are detected and prosecuted. To support this, a <a href="http://observatoriofeminicidiomexico.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GUIA-PERITAJES-WEB.pdf">manual</a> has been produced to improve evidence gathering and how such cases are approached. It is unclear whether this is having an impact yet. Changes in law enforcement need to be connected to wider engagements on women’s equality, including the development of sustainable livelihoods and lifelong learning.</p> <p>Activism by women, families and communities continues, fighting for women’s rights - and literally for the right to life. Supportive links with international organisations are vital: the ‘international community’ needs to show that it is watching what is happening in Mexico and Guatemala, to bring pressure to bear on those responsible for law enforcement and join the struggle to end impunity. </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em> <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly</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/global-femicide-watch-preventing-gender-related-killing-of-women">Global Femicide Watch</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/audio/jane-gabriel/by-1">Femicide and Patriarchy in Lebanon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ana-abelenda/behind-murder-of-berta-c-ceres-corporate-response">Behind the murder of Berta Cáceres: corporate complicity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ndana-bofu-tawamba-kate-kroeger-tatiana-cordero/berta-s-struggle-is-our-global-struggle">Berta’s struggle is our global struggle…</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rita-banerji/deadly-politics-of-wealth-femicide-in-india">A deadly politics of wealth: femicide in India</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/daysi-flores/hope-as-survival-strategy-for-defensoras-in-honduras">Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sarah-marland/women-human-rights-defenders-protecting-each-other">Women human rights defenders: protecting each other </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/defending-defenders-daunting-challenge">Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge </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"> Mexico </div> <div class="field-item even"> 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> </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 Guatemala Mexico Civil society 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice violence against women women's movements Mabel Encinas Sun, 04 Dec 2016 14:27:45 +0000 Mabel Encinas 107044 at https://www.opendemocracy.net