50.50 https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/5971/0 cached version 14/11/2018 14:19:23 en Why drug policy is a feminist issue https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/fenya-fischler/why-drug-policy-is-feminist-issue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Like feminism, harm reduction is a philosophy that encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-1762800.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-1762800.jpg" alt="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003." title="A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003." width="460" height="289" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A spokesperson from the Legalise Cannabis Society, UK, 2003. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>People who use drugs face widespread stigma and criminalisation. This is well-known. But drug policy discussions<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/drug-policy-women-in-uk-accessing-treatment-a8081876.html"> often centre on men</a>. The experiences of women, trans and gender non-conforming people who use drugs are ignored and silenced – though they face particular<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> challenges</a> accessing care and the gendered<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> stigma</a> of being perceived as unfit parents and<a href="https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/impact-drug-policy-women-20160928.pdf"> ‘fallen’ women</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">In May, I participated in a meeting that<a href="https://www.awid.org/"> AWID</a> (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) co-organised in Berlin with feminists and women who use drugs from across eastern Europe and Central Asia. We carried very different experiences and backgrounds, but had a common purpose: to learn from one another and connect the dots between drug policy and feminism in the region.</p><p dir="ltr">Women shared their experiences with using drugs including shaming and violence from doctors, sexual violence, criminalisation and stigma within their communities. We looked at how feminism could help push for responses centred on their unique experiences. Three days and many conversations later, I was convinced that drug policy was a feminist issue.</p><p dir="ltr">Feminism calls on us to see the specific experiences of all women, including women who use drugs. Women face particular challenges because of the oppressive structures within which we live. For women who use drugs, their identities as women and people who use drugs are intertwined.</p><p dir="ltr">It would be “impossible to separate what is more important for me – accepting myself as a person, who enjoys psychoactive substances, or as a woman, whose transformation is scary for other people, and a joyous process for me,” said one of the participants at the Berlin meeting. She challenged us to understand that, used safely, drugs can contribute positively to people’s lives.</p><p dir="ltr">Harm reduction, rather than repression and punishment, is one response that allows us to put feminist values into practice. It destigmatises drug use while curbing harmful impacts. It’s a philosophy that embraces a whole range of practices, including needle exchanges to reduce disease transmission and providing safe environments to use drugs and avoid violence or other stresses.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Like feminism, harm reduction encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women”</p><p dir="ltr">Like feminism, harm reduction encourages us to do away with the false distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women: those that deserve support and those that don’t. It rejects solutions that see people as disposable and exploitable, and helps us understand how<a href="https://medium.com/@melgarejo/international-womens-day-and-harm-reduction-why-should-we-care-98cb4c7138ae"> prison-based responses do not work.</a></p><p dir="ltr">These responses don’t end drug use, but they do penalise those most marginalised in society and make them more vulnerable. They disproportionately impact black and brown, indigenous people, trans people, sex workers, poor communities and<a href="https://medium.com/@melgarejo/international-womens-day-and-harm-reduction-why-should-we-care-98cb4c7138ae"> other historically oppressed groups</a> already at higher risk of violence and criminalisation.</p><p dir="ltr">The narco industry, complicit in extreme levels of violence against women, must be challenged too. But militarised responses like the US-led so-called “War on Drugs” put those already experiencing oppression because of their gender, immigration status, class, race and other factors, in the crosshairs of<a href="https://longreads.com/2017/08/03/the-war-on-drugs-is-a-war-on-women-of-color/"> even more violence</a>. Feminist responses must recognise this.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FF2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FF2.png" alt="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011." title="Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011." width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rally to End the War on Drugs, Los Angeles, 2011. Photo: Flickr/Neon Tommy. CC BY-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Women who use drugs are also at<a href="https://www.iwraw-ap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGO-Reporting-Guidelines-on-CEDAW-Rights-of-Women-who-Use-Drugs.pdf"> higher risk of domestic and sexual violence,</a> but they face more barriers in accessing support. They may face humiliation and discrimination in accessing healthcare, including during pregnancy and childbirth. Too often they're not treated as individuals with autonomy and dignity.</p><p dir="ltr">They may be<a href="https://www.hri.global/files/2013/03/19/Briefing_Paper_-_Access_to_Shelters_-_with_correct_fonts_07.03_.13_.pdf"> excluded from domestic violence shelters, or risk losing their children if they seek help</a>. Feminists created these shelters to support all women facing violence. But many cannot respond to the specific needs of women who use drugs. When women cannot access support in shelters, they may stay in violent and abusive situations. We can and must do better.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Some people treat you with pity, and the majority with contempt and disgust. Sometimes you think that the best option is to die from an overdose” </p><p dir="ltr">Alexandra* is one of the women I met in Berlin. She's used drugs including heroin and cannabis, on and off, for most of her adult life. It's an important part of her identity, she said, allowing her to “live in harmony” with herself. But, she can’t share this with relatives or friends, because of how they may react.</p><p dir="ltr">“Some people treat you with pity, and the majority with contempt and disgust. Sometimes you think that the best option is to die from an overdose,” Alexandra said, describing pervasive shaming and judgement that is the natural result of drug policy that stigmatises and punishes people who use drugs.</p><p dir="ltr">In the Central Asia country where Alexandra lives, women detained for drug possession face an impossible choice: bribing someone (if they have access to funds), providing sexual ‘favours’ to police officers, or prison.</p><p dir="ltr">In most countries in the region, and beyond, responses are similar: people who use drugs face violence, punishment and harsh prison sentences or even death. This only perpetuates cycles of inequality and violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Alexandra is a loving parent and hard-working community member who fears the repercussions on her children if the authorities discover her use of drugs.</p><p dir="ltr">As feminists, we must listen to women who use drugs and stand for solutions such as harm reduction that challenge systems of oppression. All people are entitled to responses centred on care, compassion and individual autonomy.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Names changed to protect privacy.</em></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Ideas women's movements women's human rights women's health gender feminism Fenya Fischler Mon, 12 Nov 2018 09:44:37 +0000 Fenya Fischler 120313 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trans rights: Woman’s Place UK responds to 50.50’s report https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kiri-tunks/trans-rights-womans-place-uk-responds <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A co-founder of the women’s group responds to openDemocracy’s report analysing opposition to potential gender recognition reforms in the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">I am a co-founder of<a href="http://www.womansplaceuk.org"> Woman’s Place UK</a> (WPUK), one of the women’s groups named in a misleading article published on openDemocracy 50.50, “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights</a>”.</p><p dir="ltr">WPUK members are women of the left with long records campaigning on progressive issues. Our supporters include lesbians who feel their identity and rights are under attack. We campaign for women's sex-based rights under the law. </p><p dir="ltr">Previously, I was active in the<a href="https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/4864c211-82cf-3f39-8731-5f04a55d7d00"> Campaign Against Pornography</a>. I co-edited<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6118472-dear-clare"> a book of letters to the British politician Clare Short</a>, written by thousands of women on their hatred of page 3 (a page in the tabloid The Sun which until 2015 featured large pictures of topless women) and its impact on their lives.</p><p dir="ltr">As with potential<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004"> changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA)</a>, much of the left’s position was poor on this issue. We were denounced as prudes and told that sexually explicit materials are liberating; you can’t legislate against the dehumanisation, hatred and violence in porn; women just need to get over it. </p><p dir="ltr">Those anti-porn campaigns also attracted religious support, including from some right-wing organisations. We made no links with them but we could not stop them from campaigning on this issue. Why did more of the left not engage with women’s concerns? Why did they leave this to the right?</p><p dir="ltr">Now, with various reports from<a href="https://neu.org.uk/latest/sexual-harassment-girls-widespread-schools"> unions</a>,<a href="https://plan-international.org/news/2018-09-24-sexual-harassment-biggest-city-danger-girls-across-globe"> NGOs</a> and the<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/sexual-harassment-public-places-17-19/"> government</a>, tackling sexual harassment and violence are mainstream concerns. People like the Conservative party MP Maria Miller are fronting calls for change.</p><p dir="ltr">Like many high-profile Tories, Miller also supports the proposed GRA reforms. Yet no-one questions those on the left siding with the right on this issue, despite their different stances on welfare rights or immigration.</p><p dir="ltr">WPUK are quoted in 50.50’s article as saying: “The proposed reforms may have ‘unintended consequences for the safety and well-being of women and girls’ as ‘predatory men could demand access to women-only spaces and services’.”</p><p dir="ltr">This is a perfectly reasonable position. Women’s routine experience of sexual abuse is being acknowledged at the same time as they are being told they cannot determine what a woman is or where her boundaries should be.</p><p dir="ltr">The vilification and denunciation of left wing women with trumped-up charges of alliances with the far right is shameful. For us, this is the latest in a long line of let-downs by the left which seems afraid of debate on these issues. It adds to a climate in which our meetings have been subject to intimidation and threat including by some who call themselves left wing. </p><p dir="ltr">It is to the detriment of our movement that – with the few, honourable exceptions of the Morning Star and, more recently, Left Foot Forward – coverage of our concerns has been left to publications like the Times, the Telegraph, the Economist and the Spectator.</p><p dir="ltr">It gives the impression that the left is incapable of connecting with women who won’t feel reassured by the Scottish Trans Alliance officer’s claim, quoted in 50.50’s article, that “the proposed reforms won’t affect access to single-sex spaces, which is covered under separate equality legislation”. </p><p dir="ltr">After all, this organisation <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19659.pdf">called for the removal</a> from the 2010 Equality Act of provisions that grant some exemptions to providers of single-sex services. </p><p dir="ltr">It's only because groups like Woman’s Place UK campaigned to keep these provisions that the government committed to retain them. We demand explicit clarification of how GRA reforms will interact in practice with this act. </p><p dir="ltr">Any change to a law must consider the views and concerns of everyone. And while the proposed reforms will clearly impact on the rights of trans people, it must also take into particular account the views of those with other protected characteristics (especially age, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation). We have a responsibility to get it right.</p><p dir="ltr">The truth is that our campaign against the proposed GRA reforms is based in material reality and the everyday experiences of women. We will continue to plough our own furrow according to long-held political principles.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Kiri Tunks Fri, 02 Nov 2018 08:40:50 +0000 Kiri Tunks 120403 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK sexual politics have become ‘profoundly authoritarian’ says Beatrix Campbell https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/beatrix-campbell-uk-sexual-politics-profoundly-authoritarian <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I interviewed the prominent feminist amid ‘heated and toxic’ debates over proposed reforms to the UK’s Gender Recognition Act.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-7926615.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-7926615.jpg" alt="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009." title="Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beatrix Campbell receives OBE honour from the Queen, 2009. Photo: Johnny Green/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Beatrix Campbell is a prominent feminist with 14,000 Twitter followers and an OBE (Order of the British Empire) honour from the Queen. </p><p dir="ltr">In October, she was one of nearly 200 people who signed an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/14/observer-letters-theresa-may-siren-words-fool-no-one">open letter</a>, published in the Observer newspaper, arguing that debate about <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">potential reforms</a> to the UK’s 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was being silenced. </p><p dir="ltr">I spoke with her amid a consultation in England and Wales into these reforms, which would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. It was <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004#history">extended</a> by three days until 22 October “due to the high volume of responses”. </p><p dir="ltr">A previous Scottish consultation also attracted an avalanche of responses – with opposition to the reforms dominated by <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights">two groups</a>: conservative Christian organisations, and some women’s campaigns. </p><p dir="ltr">Several of these women’s campaigns signed the same Observer letter that Campbell did. Though, for her part, Campbell told me: “I don’t have a problem with the Gender Recognition Act”. </p><p dir="ltr">She said “it’s important to make it as appropriately easy as possible for people for whom their transformation… [from] a woman to a man, is vital to their wellbeing. You’d want to facilitate that”.</p><p dir="ltr">Rather, she said that her concerns focus on sexual politics in the UK and what she describes as “a profoundly authoritarian, dogmatic, culty turn in the representation of sex and gender”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“there is no human right to be not offended” </p><p dir="ltr">Campbell told me that her “route” into these debates was when Julie Bindel, another well-known British feminist, was “no-platformed” and prevented from speaking at an event organised by university students. </p><p dir="ltr">Bindel has been repeatedly criticised for “<a href="https://thequeerness.com/2017/01/08/julie-bindel-transphobia-source-trauma/">abusive</a>” “<a href="https://laurie-penny.com/on-feminism-transphobia-and-free-speech/">hate speech</a>” and a “<a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/01/09/lgbt-history-month-organisers-defend-julie-bindel-event/">crusade against the trans community”</a>. But Campbell has repeatedly defended her. “There is no human right to not be offended,” she told me.</p><p dir="ltr">Not allowing Bindel to speak meant that “students wouldn’t be allowed to listen to this woman… [or] challenge her,” Campbell said, asserting: “That’s the point of politics… [for people to] engage in the art of peaceful conflict”.</p><p dir="ltr">She also dismissed trans rights activists who have explained why it’s hurtful to have their identities treated as choices that can or should be up for debate. </p><p dir="ltr">“To challenge the idea that a man is a woman, if he says he’s a woman… is represented as exterminating a person, denying their existence,” she said, “which seems to me is an abuse of language”.</p><p dir="ltr">And she accused the Green Party of shutting down the “gender debate” too, saying: “I don’t know what planet they live on, but there is a debate”. To be “ordered” not to have these debates, she said, is “offensive” and “bonkers”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I don’t know what planet they live on, but there is a debate” </p><p dir="ltr">Campbell said there are lots and lots of people who have a feeling that there is something very odd going on at the moment,” when a “a man for 60 years, suddenly has a couple of operations and… is a woman”. </p><p dir="ltr">She also pointed to an “interesting critique” by an American political scientist Adolf Reid Junior,” who compared the story of Caitlin Jenner, a trans woman, with that of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identifies as black.</p><p dir="ltr">This controversial comparison has been drawn, and rebutted, before. Though both are “absolutely social constructs,” Kat Blaque, a black trans woman <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZEsCWWskbY&amp;feature=youtu.be">said</a>, “while my gender has certainly changed, my race will always remain the same”. </p><p dir="ltr">Trans rights debates, Campbell claimed, are “at their most intemperate… in the United States and the United Kingdom. And it’s not an accident. These are the two pioneering neoliberal states in the world”.</p><p dir="ltr">Trans identities, she suggested, are “a kind of an exemplar of a neoliberal version of what it means to be human, at its most idiosyncratic, i.e. you can choose! You can choose to be anything you like. Well, I’m sorry, you can’t”. </p><p dir="ltr">She said she doesn’t know any woman comfortable with “the eternal obsessive scrutiny of her body,” but “now there’s an invitation – transition, become a boy! Have your breasts cut off. I mean, are we serious?”</p><p dir="ltr">“Hailed as a new frontier of human rights and of emancipation, [this] is actually hugely conservative,” she argued. “What it represents is a very conservative, traditional, reinstatement of polarised masculinities and femininities”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“well-intentioned and compassionate feminists have been caught up by the rhetoric”</p><p dir="ltr">With her arguments, it seems clear that Campbell is speaking to women on the left with themes that resonate with them: threats to democracy; impacts of neoliberalism; conservative gender binaries. </p><p dir="ltr">She appeals for “the battle of ideas” and “democratic debate about some of the great themes of our time”. But, underneath this seems to be the premise that trans identities are chosen, rather than part of who trans people are. </p><p dir="ltr">This is a running theme in UK debates, and seems to be what enables people who’d never openly discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, to ridicule, debate and challenge the identities of trans people.</p><p dir="ltr">The context for Campbell’s comments is a climate that trans rights activist Paris Lees has <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43255878">likened</a> to previous “undignified public discourse around gay marriage,” that was “just an excuse for people to vent really ugly homophobia".</p><p dir="ltr">Amnesty UK’s LGBTI network has <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/lgbti-network/its-time-speak-trans-day-visibility">described</a> trans rights debates as marked by “unfounded fears” that “feed into the negative rhetoric around trans people”.</p><p dir="ltr">“A depressing aspect of the debate,” <a href="http://www.thenational.scot/news/16993203.gender-recognition-act-debate-is-being-used-to-roll-back-trans-rights/">added</a> journalist Stephen Patton, is how some “well-intentioned and compassionate feminists have been caught up by the rhetoric” while trans voices have been “remarkably absent”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“a heated and often toxic debate”</p><p dir="ltr">The government’s gender recognition consultation became “a focal point for a heated and often toxic debate over what we as a society owe to trans people,” wrote a trio of feminist academics in a recent <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4090-i-m-not-transphobic-but-a-feminist-case-against-the-feminist-case-against-trans-inclusivity">essay</a> published by Verso.</p><p dir="ltr">“There is no shortage of unvarnished transphobes who continue to depict trans people as perverts, freaks or monsters”, they said, describing the arguments of reform opponents as “at least in principle distinct from this rhetoric”.</p><p dir="ltr">Though they noted how these opponents and racist, anti-immigrant campaigners similarly “leverage” fear of “‘bogus asylum seekers’ or ‘fake’ trans women” and criticise “excessively inclusive or ‘politically correct’ attitudes”.</p><p dir="ltr">These arguments have had some success, the essay warned, “in raising doubts about reform among people who are broadly sympathetic to trans rights and who would therefore reject overtly bigoted arguments without hesitation".</p><p dir="ltr">Like Campbell, its authors also discussed free speech and neoliberalism. But, they stressed, “the right to ‘free speech’ does not include a right to say racist or transphobic things without anyone pointing it out”.</p><p dir="ltr">With neoliberalism “widely agreed to be in crisis and new movements… across Europe in opposition to austerity,” now is not the time for feminists to “make enemies” with others who are struggling, they added. “We could instead join with trans women in trying to bring about a different kind of society.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is tracking the backlash against trans rights as part of the ongoing series <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash</a> against women’s and LGBT rights. &nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender feminism Nandini Archer Thu, 01 Nov 2018 08:59:22 +0000 Nandini Archer 120160 at https://www.opendemocracy.net This is how anti-abortion propaganda gets into US cinemas https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost/anti-abortion-propaganda-cinemas-america <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Amid open war on reproductive rights, anti-choice supporters of the new Gosnell film want it to change hearts and minds. Will they succeed?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPG1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPG1.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cinema sign. Photo: Flickr/weegeebored. CC BY-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>A police officer approaches a cupboard in a dark room and opens it, shining a light inside. His face contorts at what he sees. Another officer asks: “Is this normal?” The first answers: “I don’t know, I’ve never been in an abortion clinic before”. This is the opening scene of the trailer for a new film out in cinemas across the US, <a href="http://www.gosnellmovie.com/">Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer</a>. </p><p>At first glance, it looks like many other cop and courtroom dramas. But this film is different. It was made by a pair of conservative pundits, commentators for right-wing outlets like Breitbart and Townhall.com, with a track record of making films attacking “<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/film-makers-taking-on-our-global-warming-hysteria-1.910809">global warming hysteria</a>” and critics of <a href="http://fracknation.com/">fracking</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/nov/01/film.filmnews">mining</a>. With their new film, they've inserted anti-abortion propaganda into a formula proven to attract moviegoers: the suspenseful, true crime genre. </p><p>This is no accident; Gosnell is aiming at wide audiences, with big ambitions. “This movie will change hearts and minds about abortion”, <a href="http://www.gosnellmovie.com/press/">claims</a> Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion lobby group. It shows “the brutality and inhumanity of abortion”, she said, “and it achieves this in a movie that looks as good as any Hollywood film”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“a movie that looks as good as any Hollywood film”</p><p dir="ltr">Gosnell is just one of several anti-abortion films to hit US screens in the coming months, amid open war against women’s reproductive rights. It dramatises the story of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/15/philadelphia-abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-sentenced-life">convicted</a> in 2013 of the murder of three infants after failed, illegal late-term abortions, and of the involuntary manslaughter of a patient. He was imprisoned for life. </p><p dir="ltr">Reproductive rights groups did not defend Gosnell. They <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/19/gosnell-abortion-trial-pro-life-activists-to-blame">condemned</a> him and warned that restricted access to safe, legal abortion is what drives women to such “<a href="https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/2013/05/13/statement-kermit-gosnell-verdict/">back-alley butchers</a>.” Meanwhile, anti-choice activists used his case to present all abortion as dangerous, and all providers as untrustworthy rogues, in campaigns for even more restrictions on these services. </p><p dir="ltr">The new film's promotional posters feature a bloodstained image of the title character and the words: “THE DOCTOR IS SIN.” It uses classic character types, virtuous heroes who must battle their institutions to do what’s right, and some adrenaline-pumping music, to rattle viewers and present Gosnell’s case as the inevitable result of legalised abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s far more sophisticated than holding a graphic image of a foetus on a sidewalk. But the film’s creators, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, are professional media-makers. Previously, they've done work for outlets like the BBC. Though they have <a href="https://www.lifenews.com/2018/10/22/theaters-censor-gosnell-movie-profiling-serial-killer-abortionist-over-200-stop-showing-movie/">complained</a> of censorship by movie theatres, <a href="https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gosnell-producer-blasts-new-york-times-for-rejecting-ads-participating-in-m">movie reviewers and advertising departments</a>, Gosnell is in hundreds of cinemas.</p><p>It's distributed by GVN Releasing, a Sony Pictures partner, and stars Dean Cain, who millions of Americans watched on television in the 1990s series Lois &amp; Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. “It is not gory, it’s PG-13, it’s a Law and Order episode,” <a href="https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/11/gosnell-media-censors-dont-want-see-true-crime-drama-abortion/">said</a> McAleer, referring to the popular, long-running television crime series.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“It is not gory, it’s PG-13, it’s a Law and Order episode"</p><p dir="ltr">McAleer also <a href="https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/11/gosnell-media-censors-dont-want-see-true-crime-drama-abortion/">claimed</a> that Gosnell is “not a pro-life film. It’s a journalistic film.” Yet, these filmmakers have a clear position on this issue. They’ve celebrated Donald Trump’s administration as “<a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/author-trump-pence-most-pro-life-ever-in-white-house">amazingly pro-life</a>,” for example, and <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/author-trump-pence-most-pro-life-ever-in-white-house">met</a> Vice President Michael Pence at last year’s anti-abortion March for Life.</p><p>Before its 12 October cinema release, Gosnell was screened at US anti-abortion events and <a href="http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/prayer-and-campaigning-intensify-as-irelands-abortion-referendum-draws-near">in Dublin</a>, ahead of Ireland’s historic abortion referendum. The anti-abortion US National Right to Life group has called McElhinney a “<a href="https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2018/08/an-important-message-about-the-upcoming-gosnell-movie/">dear friend</a>.” At a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDGCe0c1Rik&amp;t=1s">Texas Alliance for Life event</a> earlier this year, she said to applause: “There’s no such thing as neutral on abortion".</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ann_McElhinney_speaking_at_CPAC_2012_about_Fracking_and_promoting_her_upcoming_movie_titled_“Frack_Nation.”_(6859886797).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ann_McElhinney_speaking_at_CPAC_2012_about_Fracking_and_promoting_her_upcoming_movie_titled_“Frack_Nation.”_(6859886797).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>McElhinney at a Conservative Political Action Conference. Photo: Mark Taylor/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The “true story” the Gosnell film presents is that all abortion is murder and legalisation enables doctors to defy medical ethics. As writer Robin Marty noted on the NBC News website, this movie is “<a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/legal-abortion-vilified-pro-life-gosnell-movie-which-inadvertently-shows-ncna919486">purposefully misleading</a>”. Gosnell does not represent all abortion providers, just like paedophiles in schools or churches don’t represent all teachers or priests. Nor are late-term abortions the norm: <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm">91.5%</a> of abortions in the US happen before 13 weeks.</p><p>Just as <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/12/there_is_no_gosnell_coverup/">anti-abortion activists</a> did during Gosnell’s trial, the film claims there was a “cover-up” of his case and a “media blackout”. It suggests that his crimes went unchecked because pro-choice people in power turned a blind eye to them. And it goes further. “Gosnell is a pro-life movie,” <a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/gosnell-movie-depicts-reality-of-abortion/">explained</a> one writer for the conservative National Review, because it “exposes the fact that all abortion necessarily involves the death of a human being”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">This movie is “purposefully misleading”</p><p dir="ltr">Who funded this film? Its press packet says it was “primarily crowd-funded” – but doesn’t disclose its final budget or other investors.</p><p dir="ltr">The crowdfunding platform <a href="http://go.theguardian.com/?id=114047X1572903&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indiegogo.com%2Fprojects%2Fgosnell-movie%23%2F&amp;sref=https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/29/abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-the-trial-of-americas-biggest-serial-killer-release">Indiegogo</a> says the film raised $2.3 million – with more than 15 donations of $10,000, one of $25,000, and many smaller sums including from chapters of anti-abortion groups from Nebraska to California. Another report cites <a href="http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2018/02/thorner-sneak-preview-of-gosnell-film-stirs-anticipation-of-nationwide-october-2018-release.html">$4 million</a> raised from different sources. This summer, <a href="https://townhall.com/columnists/annmcelhinney/2018/07/05/deranged-antitrumpers-need-to-get-out-more-n2497503">McElhinney wrote</a> about meeting an (unnamed) “substantial donor” at his house where “he asked if we could pray… thanks to God that Trump was president”.</p><p dir="ltr">Behind Gosnell is a whole team of conservative media-makers. Its executive producer has worked with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/31/dinesh-dsouza-who-is-he-trump-pardon-filmmaker">Dinesh d’Souza</a> on right-wing political films. Last year, its director guest-hosted the conservative Rush Limbaugh radio show. Conservative media personalities also helped promote the film – including Breitbart UK executive editor <a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/04/james-delingpole-the-lefty-liberals-may-be-losing-their-hold-over-the-arts-world/">James Delingpole</a>, who invited readers of right-wing weekly The Spectator to donate to the project.</p><p>In the US, Kevin Sorbo (who played the title character in the 1990s TV series Hercules), made a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9xMsKae10w">YouTube video</a> encouraging donations. Sorbo, and Cain, have previously hosted editions of the annual '<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-christian-oscars">Christian Oscars</a>’ put on by Movieguide, a <a href="https://profam.org/world-congress-of-families-leadership-memo-australia-marriage-pro-life-doctors-uk-gender-movieguide-awards/">partner</a> of the anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights World Congress of Families. Movieguide, which also publishes film reviews, <a href="https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/gosnell-the-trial-of-americas-biggest-serial-killer.html">praised</a> Gosnell as “a compelling, well-acted drama from a pro-life moral perspective”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“A compelling, well-acted drama from a pro-life moral perspective”</p><p dir="ltr">There are large gaps in what the film shows its viewers, according to a 50.50 researcher who watched it in a cinema on its opening weekend. These include the stories of women who went to Gosnell's clinic, she said. Why were they seeking abortions in the first place? And how, in a state where abortion was legal, did they end up here?</p><p dir="ltr">The movie also doesn’t show what happened after his conviction – how new laws were introduced, amid pressure from anti-choice groups, that placed new restrictions on abortion providers. In <a href="https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-pennsylvania">Pennsylvania</a>, where Gosnell operated, there were only 42 abortion-providing facilities in 2014 – an 11% drop from 2011 – and almost half of women lived in counties with no providers at all. </p><p dir="ltr">2018 has seen further restrictions brought in, including in Pennsylvania. This is the context in which this film has come out – amid emboldened anti-abortion movements and open war against reproductive rights. During next week’s midterm elections, three states (Alabama, West Virginia, and Oregon) will also vote on ballot initiatives that would <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/three-states-vote-abortion-measures">restrict abortion access</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Next year, two other anti-abortion films are expected to hit US screens – <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/07/nick-loeb-and-secret-hollywood-roe-v-wade-movie">Roe v Wade</a>, about the 1973 Supreme Court judgement that legalised abortion, and <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/unplanned-planned-parenthood-documentary-works-gods-not-dead-writers-1144994">Unplanned</a>, about the reproductive rights charity Planned Parenthood. </p><p dir="ltr">So far, the Gosnell film has made more than <a href="https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=gosnell.htm">$3 million</a> at box offices. Though the filmmakers continue to present it as under attack,<a href="https://www.lifenews.com/2018/10/22/theaters-censor-gosnell-movie-profiling-serial-killer-abortionist-over-200-stop-showing-movie/"> complaining</a> that some movie theatres have dropped it, that reviewers have ignored it, and that they've struggled to place advertisements for it. McAleer <a href="https://www.wnd.com/2018/10/cinemas-drop-gosnell-film-despite-success/#A0V5TKYP4w0RLMdY.99">said</a> some cinema workers are also advising customers "not to go, that it's propaganda."</p><p>Despite this, the film has “changed people from pro-choice to pro-life”, they claimed in <a href="https://mailchi.mp/gosnellmovie.com/gosnell-movie-has-saved-a-life-335305?e=380e3518f7">a recent email newsletter</a> to subscribers. It also “saved a life", they said, when one group of moviegoers was “so moved and motivated by the film that they decided to go and stand at a nearby abortion clinic” where they “met a woman going for an abortion and... inspired her not to go in”.</p><p>We're at “one of those rare moments in time when the pro-life movement has the opportunity to make serious impact on the hearts and minds of Americans”, McElhinney <a href="https://www.wnd.com/2018/10/cinemas-drop-gosnell-film-despite-success/">said</a>. “So what can you do? Keep buying tickets".</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-lara-whyte/revealed-christian-group-netflix-spring-break-sex">Revealed: the US ‘Christian fundamentalists’ behind new Netflix film on millennial sex lives</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Culture Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's health bodily autonomy Claire Provost Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:58:18 +0000 Claire Provost 120187 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Attacks on women's ministries are a threat to democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/gillian-kane/attacks-on-womens-ministries-are-threat-to-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women’s ministries in Brazil and beyond have been under attack from the right for years – foreshadowing wider threats to democracy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1024px-Jair_Messias_Bolsonaro_(rosto).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Jair Bolsonaro"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1024px-Jair_Messias_Bolsonaro_(rosto).jpg" alt="Jair Bolsonaro" title="Jair Bolsonaro" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo: Jair Bolsonaro, poised to become Brazil’s next president. Photo: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>In February 2016, a few months after Brazil’s only female president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached, the country’s newly installed interim-government under President Michel Temer issued one of its first directives.</p><p dir="ltr">With political leaders embroiled in <a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/brazils-corruption-fallout">a massive statewide corruption scandal,</a> and the country anguished over the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/zika-virus">Zika health crisis</a>, few noticed the official mandate to &nbsp;dissolve the Ministry of Women and replace it with the Secretariat of Policies for Women, now tucked away inside the Ministry of Justice. </p><p dir="ltr">This seemingly incidental administrative demotion, coupled with the appointment of an evangelical, anti-abortion congresswoman to lead the agency, has contributed to the abnegation of women’s rights in Brazil. </p><p dir="ltr">It also foreshadowed the rise of the right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, <a href="https://www.apnews.com/1f9b79df9b1d4f14aeb1694f0dc13276">a misogynist, homophobic, former military man</a> who may become Brazil’s next president after this weekend’s runoff election. </p><p dir="ltr">This experience is not unique to Brazil. Many countries with women’s ministries face right-wing and religious attempts to eliminate or downgrade their influence – and in some cases, to change their mandates altogether. When this happens, it’s a strong signal that other democratic structures may also be at risk.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Women and democracy </h2><p dir="ltr">The history of women’s ministries goes back to the 1970s, a time of democratic transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Women were key contributors to these movements yet their specific needs were often not addressed as new governments formed. </p><p dir="ltr">Protecting women’s human rights was an issue for new democracies, and more established ones. The United States had <a href="https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/u-s-abortion-history/">legalised abortion in 1973,</a> yet marital rape was exempt from the criminal code, women could be fired for being pregnant, and they couldn’t apply for a credit card. Irish women weren’t allowed to sit in pubs; women In Nigeria didn’t have the right to vote; divorce was illegal in Brazil, Chile, and South Africa. </p><p dir="ltr">Against this backdrop, the United Nations’ <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/otherconferences/Mexico/Mexico%20conference%20report%20optimized.pdf">1975 World Conference of Women called</a> for the creation of “national gender machineries” for the advancement of women. National machineries is UN-speak for government-recognised bodies such as ministries, departments or directorates. </p><p dir="ltr">This was a groundbreaking step and a critical necessity to ensure the health, security, and basic human rights of women and girls. It was also well-received by countries internationally. At the end of the World Decade for Women in 1985, <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/hist.htm">127 UN member states</a> had some kind of national institution focused on women. By 2010, <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/TechnicalCooperation/GLOBAL_SYNTHESIS_REPORT_Dec%202010.pdf">all but four countries</a> had an office like this. </p><p dir="ltr">Of course, not all offices fulfill their mandates. Their success varies depending on funding, political will, and where they sit within the government hierarchy. Still, by merely establishing such a mechanism, a government at least tacitly acknowledges that women’s human rights require a dedicated focus, and that they are willing to put some resources behind this.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Under serious threat</h2><p dir="ltr">The US is among the few countries without a dedicated women’s office. Though it has come close to creating one. </p><p dir="ltr">In 1995, President Clinton opened the Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach, which was <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-03-30-0103300301-story.html">swiftly shuttered</a> once President Bush took power in 2001. President Obama tried in again 2009, establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues. </p><p dir="ltr">Today, neither of these offices are listed on the White House website. Donald Trump’s administration has decimated their staff and senior leadership, refusing to appoint an<a href="https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/title/as/204538.htm"> ambassador-at-large</a> for Global Women’s Issues, or <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/20/one-small-step-for-feminist-foreign-policy-women-canada/">fill</a> other key vacancies. Meanwhile, many career staffers have left. </p><p dir="ltr">Women’s ministries throughout the world have enabled significant progress, especially on efforts to address violence against women, and increase women’s political participation. <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/TechnicalCooperation/GLOBAL_SYNTHESIS_REPORT_Dec%202010.pdf">Regional studies</a> show that effective gender machineries are a sign of a strong democracy. It’s alarming that these structures, to protect and promote women’s rights, are now under serious threat. </p><p dir="ltr">In<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/announced-croatian-demography-ministry-potentially-limiting-abortion-01-11-2016"> Croatia</a>, <a href="https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/proponen-crear-el-ministerio-de-familia-articulo-474725">Colombia</a>, <a href="https://www.laprensalibre.cr/Noticias/detalle/89047/diputado-cristiano-presenta-proyecto-para-cerrar-el-inamu">Costa Rica</a>, the <a href="https://www.elcaribe.com.do/2017/11/13/panorama/pelegrin-castillo-apoya-la-creacion-del-ministerio-de-la-familia/">Dominican Republic</a>, <a href="https://www.ultimahora.com/creacion-del-ministerio-la-familia-trataran-nuevos-legisladores-n1302223.html">Paraguay</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/JulioRosasH/photos/a.155871837800509.40157.153141901406836/979902568730761/?type=3&amp;theater">Peru</a>, ultra-conservative legislators and activists have called for new family ministries to be established, or for women’s ministries to be replaced by these. </p><p dir="ltr">They are part of a wider movement that wants the family – narrowly defined as a married man, woman and (ideally many) children – to have primacy over the individual rights and autonomy of women, girls, and LGBT people.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Open hostility</h2><p dir="ltr">Rising populist movements with regressive social agendas are widely seen as threats to democracy. They are often defined by their anti-free press, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim positions, but they also share an open hostility to women’s human rights.</p><p dir="ltr">Bolsonaro’s steady ascendency in the polls in Brazil has been accompanied by an alarming<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/11/brazil-election-violence-bolsonaro-haddad"> rise in violence</a> against journalists and activists – with women, including trans women, at<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/zika-virus"> particular risk</a> while reporting or protesting.</p><p dir="ltr">Democracy can only flourish with women’s full participation. Assaults on women’s rights, and government bodies dedicated to women’s protection and empowerment, is a seldomly-mentioned indicator of creeping illiberalism.</p><p dir="ltr">Protecting women’s human rights, by building and preserving legal safeguards in government, is a bulwark against the erosion of functioning democracy. Losing these entities is the Klaxon call that demands our immediate attention.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 World Forum for Democracy 2018 Tracking the backlash women's human rights women and power gender Gillian Kane Fri, 26 Oct 2018 15:17:30 +0000 Gillian Kane 120284 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK Christian ‘reactionaries’ mark 10 years of lobbying against women’s and LGBT rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/adam-bychawski/christian-concern-reactionaries-10-years-lobbying-women-and-lgbt-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At Christian Concern’s birthday party in London, lobbyists talked about their expansion plans and work to recruit young people.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_6312.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_6312.JPG" alt="Religious fruitcake: Christian Concern celebrated their tenth anniversary over the weekend" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Religious fruitcake: Christian Concern celebrated their tenth anniversary over the weekend. Image: Adam Bychawski</span></span></span>The scene at the tenth-anniversary celebration of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT lobbyists Christian Concern was a far cry from a typical religious service. </p><p dir="ltr">The evangelical organisation, one of the largest in the UK, hired a Grade II listed building a stone’s throw away from Parliament Square in London for the occasion last Saturday. At a drink’s reception in the building’s marble foyer, prosecco and canapés were served by waiters to hundreds of guests – including a MP and a member of the House of Lords – under the watchful eye of security guards. </p><p dir="ltr">The celebratory atmosphere reflected the group’s growth over the last decade. In 2008, Christian Concern comprised a handful of religious conservatives and, as its chief executive Andrea Williams admitted in a <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/media/andrea-invites-you-to-celebrate-10-years-of-christian-concern">video</a> posted online, it was struggling to pay its staff. Promotional material at the event listed its total expenditure as £1.9m last year.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the weekend, it marked a decade of public campaigning and legal support for conservative Christian beliefs in the UK, lobbying against reforms including liberalised abortion laws, LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, more inclusive sex education, same-sex marriage and an easier gender recognition process for trans people. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">It marked a decade of lobbying against reforms including liberalised abortion laws, more inclusive sex education and same-sex marriage.</p><p dir="ltr">In her keynote speech, Williams said Christian Concern, which boasts an 80,000-strong mailing list, was recently asked by an unnamed MP for help in campaigning against <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45955492">a bill proposing to decriminalisation abortion</a> which would in particular overturn the current regime in Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances. </p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/media/andrea-invites-you-to-celebrate-10-years-of-christian-concern">a promotional video</a> for the celebration, Williams states that Christian Concern has grown to around 25 employees. Outlining her vision for the organisation’s future Williams said: “I want to double because that’s what’s needed in the time to come.” </p><p dir="ltr">Between speeches from Christian Concern’s senior figures, attendees were shown short films. One illustrated the “social revolution” that has swept the nation through clips of news reports about proposals for civil partnerships, compulsory sex education, no-fault divorce bills, and an interview with a trans teenager and her mother.</p><p dir="ltr">The Conservative Party was specifically singled out with clips of David Cameron backing gay marriage and Theresa May denouncing gay conversion therapy as “an abhorrent practice”. Christian Concern call attempts to ban such therapy <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/sexual-orientation/why-the-bill-to-ban-gay-conversion-therapy-is-pernicious-and-a-threa">“pernicious”</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Among the attendees were DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson and House of Lords life peer Baroness Caroline Cox, both of whom have consistently voted against LGBT rights and same-sex marriage legislation. Michael Nazir-Ali, a former Anglian Bishop with a track record of offensive remarks about homosexuality and Muslims, was also there. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">He told attendees in a speech that gay marriage will lead to ‘legalising incest’.</p><p dir="ltr">Nazir-Ali told attendees in a speech that gay marriage will lead to “legalising incest”. He also said: “Someone once said to me that Christian Concern is reactionary, well we do have to react if lies are being told in our streets and in our newspapers, we do have to react. If that means being reactionary, so be it.”</p><p dir="ltr">The subject of trans rights was mentioned several times, prompting the shaking of heads in the audience. Christian Concern is one of several UK Christian conservative organisations that have recently filed submissions opposing proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. </p><p dir="ltr">Carys Moseley, a former university theology lecturer, and now policy researcher for Christian Concern, has written that being transgender is a “psychiatric disorder” and <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/our-issues/church-and-state/why-it-is-so-important-that-the-uk-government-has-admitted-that-trans-id">implied that transgender women are sex offenders</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">She also contributed to a collection of essays published by a division of Christian Concern titled The New Normal: The Transgender Agenda. Other contributors include an American college teacher who calls same-sex parenting “child abuse” and American conservative spokesperson Robert Oscar Lopez who describes himself as “anti-gay” and has previously written that the LGBT rights movement is <a href="https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/04/stop_crying_over_mozilla_and_start_fighting_back.html">a “world-historical evil”</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">‘Thousands of people come through our offices’.</p><p dir="ltr">Aside from public campaigning, Christian Concern’s sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, have offered legal support in a number of court cases challenging anti-discrimination and equality laws. </p><p dir="ltr">Williams told attendees “thousands of people come through our offices”. A promotional pamphlet said the group spent almost half a million pounds on legal cases in 2017.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_1251.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_1251.JPG" alt="Andrea Williams, Christian Concern's chief executive said she wanted to "double" the organisation." title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Andrea Williams, Christian Concern's chief executive said she wanted to "double" the organisation. Image: Adam Bychawski</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">A short film highlighting a few of these cases included Mike Davidson, who approached Christian Concern for help after the British Psychodrama Association revoked his membership for providing therapy for “unwanted same-sex attraction.”</p><p dir="ltr">Another featured case was that of Ian Sleeper, a street preacher who was arrested for displaying a placard with the message “Love Muslims, Hate Islam”. In a Christian Concern <a href="https://www.christianconcern.com/press-release/victory-for-street-preacher-held-in-cell-for-13-hours-for-sharing-love-for-muslims-and">press release</a>, Sleeper said "My hope is for the world to rid itself of Islam”.</p><p dir="ltr">A running theme in the evening’s speeches was concern at the lack of young people in the Church of England. Indeed, <a href="http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2018/september/church-of-england-numbers-at-record-low/">a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey</a> revealed a growing lack of religiosity among the young, with 70% of those aged 18–24 now saying they have no religion – a 56% increase from 2002. Only 2% identified as Anglican. </p><p dir="ltr">The congregation at the event appeared to be mostly middle-aged aside from a number of young volunteers and families with infants.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">An urgent need ‘to build the next generation’.</p><p dir="ltr">Williams spoke of the urgent need “to build the next generation” and said that 500 young people have attended its week-long training camp, Wilberforce Academy, where speakers have included Sam Soloman, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, who also spoke at this weekend’s event and is the group’s “Islamic affairs advisor”. </p><p dir="ltr">Soloman previously drafted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/04/ukip-mep-gerard-batten-muslims-sign-charter-rejecting-violence">UKIP’s “charter of Muslim understanding”</a> in 2014 – which was also shared online by Christian Concern. It proposed that Muslims should sign a special code of conduct rejecting violence. </p><p dir="ltr">A previous Wilberforce Academy attendee told me that Soloman once led a session on Islam in which students were taught that Muslims were “breeding” ten times as fast as the rest of the population and that much of the UK is following Sharia law.</p><p dir="ltr">Students were also given lectures by Canadian pastor Joe Boot who taught them that the impact of climate change is overstated and effects to reduce carbon emissions will simply lead to more poverty. Boot has called catastrophic climate change “a myth” and environmentalism <a href="https://docplayer.net/90296099-Spring-2014-law-of-life-ofdeath-joe-boot-nazi-environmental-ethics-mark-musser-is-man-the-cause-of-global-warming-michael-j.html">“indoctrination in service of a wider political and religious agenda”</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The evening’s speeches were rounded off with a video that painted a clear picture of the growing reach and international coordination of the Christian right. </p><p dir="ltr">It featured senior figures from South Africa’s Freedom of Religion who said they “would probably not exist but for the help and support we’ve had from [Christian Concern]” as well as Family Voice Australia, the Bread of Life Ethiopian Church and the South Korean Esther Prayer Movement, which has links to the International House of Prayer.</p><p dir="ltr">In her closing remarks about what lies ahead for Christian Concern, Williams said: “We need to build a visible church, a church that is vocal and visible in the public space that the authorities will take care of. We are going nowhere”.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Tracking the backlash women's human rights women's health sexual identities Adam Bychawski Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:16:25 +0000 Adam Bychawski 120282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Draft legislation in Ukraine targets same-sex relationships https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/ukraine-targets-same-sex-relationships <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A Ukrainian MP has introduced legislation to criminalise same sex relationships and protect traditional values. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tatyana-bezruk/nenavist-k-lgbt" target="_self"><em><strong>RU</strong></em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.32.29_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.32.29_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Oleksandr Vilkul. Photo CC BY-SA 3.0: Catrifle / Wikipedia. </span></span></span>Earlier this month, Oleksandr Vilkul, an MP from Ukraine’s Opposition Bloc party, the successor to Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, registered <a href="http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64775">draft bill No.9183</a>, “on the introduction of changes in certain legislation in Ukraine relating to the protection of public morals and traditional values”. </p><p dir="ltr">This is Vilkul’s first legislative foray into LGBT and gender issues. Most of Vilkul’s <a href="http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/pt2/reports.dep2?PERSON=8737&amp;SKL=9">draft bills</a> since Ukraine’s 2014 parliamentary election have concerned pensioners’ social welfare, the rights of temporarily displaced persons, education, budget amendments, taxes and land regulations. In June 2018, however, the MP filed several draft bills on the same subject areas as those he has revisited now — public morality and family values, changes to the Action Plan for the implementation of Ukraine’s national Human Rights strategy up to 2020, and creating a basis for the country’s family policies. </p><p dir="ltr">In the explanatory note to draft bill No.9183, Vilkul stresses the need for such a law, given that the state is paying particular attention to “the artificially created problem of discrimination against people with non-traditional sexual orientation”. The accompanying documentation to the bill makes no reference to attacks faced by LGBT activists in Ukraine or how the police classify these attacks. Ukraine’s Penal Code contains a specific article on hate crime, but it often remains unused in such cases, and most attacks are qualified under “hooliganism”. Vilkul also explains why equality marches, Pride events, gay parades and queer culture festivals must be banned as forms of “deviant behaviour”. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The bill proposes to remove the terms “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “gender equality” and “gender-based legal assessment” from Ukrainian legislation</p><p dir="ltr">The MP’s draft bill provides for a fine of an amount between 1,000 and 1,500 non-taxable minimum incomes for “demonstrating same-sex relationships”, which is to be raised to the amount of 3,000 non-taxable minimum incomes if the “offender” is a public official of any kind. A repeat offence may result in a three to five year custodial sentence, with officials liable to a four to six year sentence. Importing publications that “promote same sex relationships”, their distribution and possession will entail a prison term of up to three years. The bill also proposes to remove the terms “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “gender equality” and “gender-based legal assessment” from Ukrainian legislation. Vilkul dismisses these terms as anti-scientific and ideologically biased. He would like to replace them with “equal rights and opportunities for men and women”, “a legal assessment to ensure equal rights and opportunities for men and women” and “a culture of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women”.</p><p dir="ltr">Vilkul’s draft bill would provide different rights to balance its restrictions on LGBT rights: financial aid during pregnancy, childbirth and maternity leave and after the age of three (at present, women are entitled to partially paid leave until their child’s third birthday); social grants and financial help for students from large families and orphaned students and free school meals and transport for pupils in school classes 1-4 (7-11 year olds – ed.). The bill would also allow existing schools to be closed down only if the communities in their local villages and towns agree to this step. According to the MP, all the social welfare initiatives he proposes are designed to support families and the children growing up in them. But the bill’s logic, and evidently also Vilkul’s, excludes any connection between LGBT people and families, as if children, and consequently maternity leave and benefits, can only happen in heterosexual families. </p><p dir="ltr">The bill will be examined by a number of parliamentary committees, including the Committees on Family Issues, Youth Policies, Sport and Tourism and Freedom of Speech and Information Policies. But the most pertinent committee is the Committee on Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations. This is how a frankly homophobic bill designed to work on the “carrot and stick” principle, where criminal charges for same-sex relationships are matched with free school meals, will progress through hearings by a committee which is forbidden to permit any kind of discrimination in legislative initiatives. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.41.49_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.41.49_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>March of equality, 2018, Kyiv. Source: YouTube.</span></span></span>This particular initiative of Vilkul’s will probably not pass the first hurdle and will be sent off for reworking, if not rejected out of hand. But it’s worth taking not just the antidemocratic views of its creator into account, but the time at which it was registered in parliament. </p><p dir="ltr">There’s just over half a year left before Ukraine’s next presidential election and a year before its parliamentary elections. The approach of these dates is evident in the infinite variety of pre-election political PR and propaganda. The opposition is exercised by the number of potholes in the roads around the country, while the government stresses the number that have been resurfaced. For many years now, candidats have been buying voters’ support with food parcels containing buckwheat kasha, sunflower oil and conserves. Some parcels also contain election leaflets, to remind people who they should vote for. But while the free food is still a few months away, the Opposition Bloc MP has decided to target the voters with tales of the differences in value systems between Ukraine and the EU, which continues to “inflict propaganda of homosexual relationships” on the former. It’s easy, after all, to say that the government and media are hung up on the country’s LGBT issues, while forgetting the plight of children who require assistance. </p><p>One of the most vulnerable groups in society has become a punch bag, to be bashed at the slightest opportunity. Political propaganda, even in wartime, continues to polarise a society that is already divided by the physical borders of the occupying “governments” in Donbas and Crimea. Meanwhile, gay people <a href="https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/features-russian-45369500">take part in art projects</a>, showing that they too are volunteers, whether civil or military, and soldiers. In return, they face possible arrest and prison. And the people who are proposing this are former members of the party of fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych, whose case is currently being heard in Kyiv’s Obolonsky courthouse.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ivan-chesnokov/the-illuminator-project">Meet Illuminator, the online project making space for discussing LGBT issues in Russia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/nadzeya-husakouskaya/sex-change-commission-in-ukraine">The sex change commission in Ukraine</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/alexander-kondakov/putting-russia-s-homophobic-violence-on-map">Putting Russia’s homophobic violence on the map</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ganna-grytsenko/the-real-barriers-to-freedom-of-assembly-in-ukraine">What are the real barriers to freedom of assembly in Ukraine?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/tetiana-bezruk/liberal-democracy-hard-choice-for-ukraine">Liberal democracy: a hard choice for Ukraine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia 50.50 oD Russia Tetiana Bezruk Ukraine Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:08:26 +0000 Tetiana Bezruk 120273 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the United Nations security council must let women speak freely https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-allen/united-nations-security-council-must-let-women-speak-freely <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women’s civil society advocates were long excluded from the security council. This is changing, but they must be allowed to speak freely.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/33960074442_1d30b502e5_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hajer Sharief from Libya"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/33960074442_1d30b502e5_k.jpg" alt="Hajer Sharief from Libya" title="Hajer Sharief from Libya" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hajer Sharief from Libya, one of several women civil society advocates who have recently briefed the UN security council. Photo: LNU Photo. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Women civil society advocates from war-torn countries now have greater access to the United Nations’ security council. This means that, at last, women with lived experiences of dealing with conflict can inform the most powerful global body addressing peace and security issues.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://undocs.org/S/RES/1325(2000)">Resolution 1325</a>, passed in 2000, requires the security council to engage women in conflict resolution. Once or twice a year, an opportunity was created for one woman representing all of civil society to speak during open debates on women, peace and security. This year, these are being held on 25 October.</p><p dir="ltr">However, outside of these annual debates, from its inception in 1946 until just three years ago, civil society representatives were not permitted to brief the security council during country-specific meetings. This has changed.</p><p dir="ltr">In the first nine months of 2018, <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/our-work/peacebuilders/">more than a dozen</a> representatives from women’s organisations spoke to the 15 council members. Among them was <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/razia-sultana/">Razia Sultana, the first Rohingya person to ever address the security council</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Why does this matter? These briefings convey intel and perspectives that council members would not otherwise hear.</p><p><a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/justine-masika-bihamba/">Justine Masika Bihamba</a> from the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained how UN peacekeeping budget cuts directly affected local populations. <a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder/mariam-safi/">Mariam Safi</a> from Afghanistan warned that the constitutional changes considered in talks with the Taliban would erode Afghan citizens’ rights.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“These briefings convey intel and perspectives that council members would not otherwise hear.”</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/peacebuilder-resource-un-security-council-briefing-libya-hajer-shareif-january-2018/">Hajer Sharief</a> from Libya gave a briefing in January, facilitated by the NGO working group on women, peace and security (of which I was executive director, until the end of August). Afterwards, a diplomat told us her account had persuaded some council members to follow up with the head of the country’s UN mission to ensure that her policy recommendations were taken up.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">A growing number of UN member states have <a href="https://undocs.org/S/PV.8318">publicly stated</a> that they welcome such statements by representatives of women’s organisations.</p><p dir="ltr">But the UN – an organisation that defends national sovereignty – has long been reluctant to accept civil society testimony, particularly when it challenges government narratives. Expecting civil society to fit within such narrow parameters undermines the inclusion of women’s testimony and analysis.</p><p dir="ltr">A diplomat once relayed a request from their ambassador to identify a civil society speaker who had either been raped or was born of rape, lived through the stigma of their ordeal and had then had risen to become a leader in their community. The aim was to have someone who could ‘move’ the security council with her story.</p><p dir="ltr">This type of request reduces civil society participation to entertainment – a potentially exploitative or voyeuristic kind – not a partnership. Civil society's role is not to ‘move’ the council. The council and civil society alike must take great care when working with survivors of sexual violence, in order not to sensationalise an individual’s experiences or cause further harm by re-traumatising them.</p><p dir="ltr">This request was dismissed, and a robust conversation with the diplomats ensued to explain why. However, since then, many other council members have similarly asked civil society speakers to focus primarily on their personal experiences, suggesting a preference for personal narrative over local analysis and recommendations.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“This reduces civil society participation to entertainment – a potentially exploitative or voyeuristic kind.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNSC1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The security council, 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNSC1.png" alt="The security council, 2015" title="The security council, 2015" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The security council, 2015. Photo: Flickr/United Nations. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>On several occasions, member states have asked for recommendations of women civil society representatives who are compelling speakers, who speak English well, but are not 'too political', contentious or divisive. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">There are also frequent appeals, once invitations are accepted, for civil society speakers to focus remarks narrowly on specific areas, or not to discuss politically sensitive issues. New York-based civil society has countered this and advised that invited speakers should be enabled to give independent statements which best reflect the needs of their communities and the assessments of their organisations. &nbsp;</p><p>It takes political will in the first place for a member state to extend such invitations, as these briefings still do not enjoy universal support from all security council members.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2017, <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/20170310-burundian-peace-activist-barred-un-meeting">an activist from Burundi made headlines</a> when Russia and other members blocked her from speaking. To expect women civil society speakers to limit themselves to communicating a moving personal story is to assume that they are not political analysts and actors with urgent messages to deliver.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Powerful statements made by women civil society advocates over the past year have required real political courage”</p><p dir="ltr">The various powerful statements made by women civil society advocates over the past year have required real political courage, both from the women themselves and from the member states that invited them.</p><p dir="ltr">Sultana opened her statement in April by stating that the security council had failed the Rohingya people. She outlined essential recommendations related to the humanitarian situation in Bangladesh, accountability for the Burmese military and legal reforms required for an inclusive and equal Myanmar.</p><p>Afterwards, council members mentioned their surprise at her strongly-worded statement, but recognised that it had been vital for her to denounce inaction.</p><p dir="ltr">Such opportunities should be protected and promoted to further institutionalise women’s participation in this formal setting. Attempts to craft their statements into politically palatable messages contradict the very reason these briefings are so essential – and question whether the role of civil society is genuinely appreciated and understood.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Equality International politics World Forum for Democracy 2018 Gender and the UN women's movements women's human rights women and power gender Louise Allen Mon, 22 Oct 2018 10:13:41 +0000 Louise Allen 120206 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why UK trans rights debates are so frustrating, but I won’t give up hope https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/owl-fisher/uk-trans-rights-debates-so-frustrating-but-wont-give-up-hope <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act have led to a vile backlash in the media. But we all deserve freedom.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32446384.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-32446384.jpg" alt="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year." title="Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year. Photo: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Anyone following the debate about trans rights in the UK will have heard about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (<a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act">GRA</a>). Given the amount of energy and time spent debating this in the media, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this is the single most important trans rights issue in recent times. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />While reform opponents go on about how they will impact the safety of cis women, creating avenues for abusive men to pretend to be women, the GRA is just about trans people being able to get new birth certificates. The reforms are about updating the current intrusive, outdated, bureaucratic process. </p><p>The proposals would create a new legal process for people to sign a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/23/woman-wednesdays-transphobic-labour-trans">statutory declaration</a> in order to get a new birth certificate. This process already exists in other countries including Malta, Argentina, Denmark and Ireland.</p><p>The sky hasn’t fallen in these places, nor have abusive cis men seized the opportunity to put on a dress and lipstick and march into women’s toilets to abuse women. All that has happened: a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/15/monumental-change-ireland-transformed-transgender-rights">handful of trans people</a> have got new birth certificates without having to prove to complete strangers who they are.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Reforms, not revolution</h2><p dir="ltr">GRA reform will potentially include legal gender recognition for non-binary people as well, who are not currently recognised under the law in England (though they are in countries including Malta, Denmark, Norway and Canada). This means that non-binary people could get IDs that <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/09/gender-recognition-act-reform-im-non-binary-and-this-is-why-i-need-your-help/">reflect who they are</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">The reforms may also apply to younger people, at 16 or 17 years old. At this age, kids can already enter into marriages or civil partnerships, consent to medical treatment and join trade unions. Being able to change a letter on their IDs shouldn’t be seen as a massive concern. </p><p dir="ltr">Despite the relatively limited focus of the reform proposals – to make legal gender recognition more accessible and inclusive – it has led to a vile backlash in the media, with the opposition repeatedly framing it as cis women versus trans women, feminists versus trans people, even <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/09/anti-trans-protesters-pride-banner-march-london">lesbians versus trans women</a>. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Moral panic</h2><p dir="ltr">This opposition has drummed up a moral panic over trans women using women-only services or facilities, compromising the safety of cis women because of their “male bodies”. They have even suggested that young trans girls are potential abusers or rapists. </p><p dir="ltr">These are baseless – and harmful – narratives, but the media constantly gives platforms to them. Not only does the GRA have nothing to do with access to single-sex spaces, but trans people are already legally allowed to use these spaces in accordance with their gender identity under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents">2010 Equality Act</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Women and feminists at large are not concerned about this reform. Most who know what the GRA is actually about are wholly supportive. Trans women have been using single-sex services and facilities for decades. Services in Scotland publicly <a href="https://www.engender.org.uk/news/blog/statement-in-support-of-the-equal-recognition-campaign-and-reform-of-the-gender-recognitio/">recognise</a> rights of trans people, and many across the UK have diversity and equality policies.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p>This is what makes the debate so frustrating. People are allowed to spout complete nonsense on TV without evidence and get commissioned to write articles by mainstream media about the dangers of ‘<a href="https://medium.com/@juliaserano/debunking-trans-women-are-not-women-arguments-85fd5ab0e19c">transgenderism</a>’. In the process, the media endorses these views as if they are actually reasonable.</p><p>Opponents of GRA reform have bought <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/10/metro-newspaper-full-page-ad-attacking-transgender-reforms/">adverts</a> in newspapers. On social media, we’ve seen bizarre posts hoping, for example, that trans women will be <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/12/fair-play-for-women-tweets-1000-cancers/">afflicted by cancer</a> if they can, in the future, get pregnant via uterus transplants.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The real problems</h2><p dir="ltr">I really hope the GRA reform will go through – but I cannot wait for this to be over so that we can start focusing on the real issues at hand. </p><p dir="ltr">These issues include <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42774750">unacceptably long waiting lists</a> to receive trans-related healthcare, media silence over the <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/blog-naomi-hersi">brutal murder</a> of Naomi Hersi, a trans woman of colour, and a raft of worrying statistics. </p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, two in five trans people have experienced a <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">hate crime</a>; 25% have <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">been homeless</a> at some point in their lives; 12% have been <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt-in-britain-trans.pdf">physically attacked by a colleague or customer</a>; up to 45% of trans youth have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/trans-young-people-suicide-support-mental-health">attempted suicide</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">While the relentless media debate rages, in which we are constantly vilified or all made responsible for a few bad apples, it is easy to feel hopeless. </p><p dir="ltr">As a campaigner outspoken about trans rights, I get harassed on social media every day. I also get invited onto TV programmes to argue with people who think I’m nothing but a misogynistic bloke in a frock (confession: I don’t own a single frock. Do I have to hand in my membership card to womanhood?). <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">Still, I’m hopeful that we as a society will recognise each other’s shared humanity; that we as the feminist movement will continue to fight for all women from an intersectional perspective; that we as the LGBTI community will continue to <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/xw9537/why-i-cofounded-lwiththet">come together</a> and not let this rise in transphobia divide us. </p><p dir="ltr">In the end, this is all about the freedom to be yourself without persecution, judgement and discrimination. Isn’t that something we all deserve?</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Equality Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash gender 50.50 newsletter Owl Fisher Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:03:52 +0000 Owl Fisher 120109 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Christian right and some UK feminists ‘unlikely allies’ against trans rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-nandini-archer/christian-right-feminists-uk-trans-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New analysis shows that groups that traditionally disagree are now on the same side – against reforming the Gender Recognition Act.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA4.png" alt="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London." title="Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London." width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London. Photo: Sophie Hemery.</span></span></span>Christian conservatives have become the unlikely allies of women’s groups mobilising against trans rights reforms in the UK, openDemocracy can reveal. </p><p dir="ltr">There is no evidence that they are actively working together. But our analysis of <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/law/17867/gender-recognition-review/review-of-gender-recognition-act-2004-list-of-orga">responses</a> to a Scottish consultation on potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) found that <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cq4CzRgTso9Vc3o67T4rwAMKIOxrqpHzvuqScmJCWuA/edit?usp=sharing">opposition</a> came from these two groups. </p><p dir="ltr">Roughly half of the anti-reform submissions came from Christian conservative groups, which traditionally oppose abortion and same sex marriage; the other half were submitted by women’s groups that fight for these rights. </p><p dir="ltr">Some of their arguments in response to the consultation’s questions were also markedly similar: that reforms would threaten women-only spaces, marriages, families, and the safety of women and children.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK government is <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">considering reforms</a> to the 2004 law, which enables people to change their gender on legal documents, after a survey found the current process “too bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive”. </p><p dir="ltr">A public consultation on these reforms in England and Wales closes on 19 October. A separate consultation in Scotland earlier this year attracted an avalanche of <a href="https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004/">more than 15,500 submissions</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Our analysis of more than 150 published responses to the Scottish consultation shows that only about 20% opposed reforms – and how groups that sharply disagree on other rights issues have converged against this one.</p><p dir="ltr">Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Alliance policy officer at the Equality Network, said the opposition is likely to fail. “However, it is having a big personal impact on trans people at the moment,” as “many trans people feel under attack.”</p><p dir="ltr">Women’s groups opposing reforms “might want to consider what it says about their campaign,” Valentine added, that others taking similar positions are “conservative religious lobby groups [that] are no friends of women’s rights.” </p><p class="mag-quote-center">“Conservative religious lobby groups are no friends of women’s rights”</p><p dir="ltr">Valentine added that the proposed reforms won’t affect access to single-sex spaces, which is covered under <a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance">separate equality legislation</a>. </p><p>The reforms would “simply improve the process for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates – and when was the last time you were asked to show your birth certificate before using a toilet or changing room?”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CPNA3.png" alt="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms." title="Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms." width="460" height="274" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Submissions to the Scottish consultation, opposing reforms. Image: Claire Provost.</span></span></span>The <a href="https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004/user_uploads/sct1017251758-1_gender_p4--3-.pdf">proposed reforms</a> would enable trans people to legally self-identity their gender, “removing requirements… to provide medical evidence and to have lived in their acquired gender for two years before applying”.</p><p dir="ltr">The government’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004">web page</a> insists its consultation “does not consider the question of whether trans people exist”. People can already legally change their gender, it says, “and there is no suggestion of this right being removed”. </p><h2>Christian opposition</h2><p dir="ltr">The Scottish consultation asked questions including: if respondents agreed with a self-declaratory system; if reforms should apply to younger people; and whether spousal consent should be required for legal gender recognition. </p><p dir="ltr">Submissions came in from across the UK – as well as from groups in other countries including Canada, the US, and Australia. </p><p dir="ltr">ADF International, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-ella-milburn/christian-legal-army-court-battles-worldwide">the global branch of a US Christian ‘legal army’</a> that defends opponents of sexual and reproductive rights in courts around the world, <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539269.pdf">said</a> in its submission that “gender dysphoria” is “as rare as it is serious”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Persons with such presentations,” ADF International claimed, “have testified that they felt nothing less than their sanity to be at stake".</p><p dir="ltr">The Newcastle-based Christian Institute – which previously worked with ADF International to support a London registrar who <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">refused to officiate at same-sex civil partnerships</a> – also submitted to the Scottish consultation. </p><p dir="ltr">It <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539465.pdf">criticised</a> the “fundamental premise” that “a man can become a woman and that a woman can become a man”, saying the current law “creates a legal fiction” and that reforms could “abolish” women-only spaces.</p><p dir="ltr">Other Christian groups <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539279.pdf">warned</a> that women and girls could end up in “vulnerable and potentially risky situations” under the reforms and <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539283.pdf">cited</a> "the mental suffering of wives and children of men who decide to live as transgendered”. </p><p>The Maryburgh and Killearn Free Church of Scotland <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539377.pdf">said</a> gender is “decided by GOD… while in our mother's womb” and “that lovely woman they fell in love with and married who now wants to be a man – such horror is incredible!”</p><h2>‘Unlikely allies’</h2><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, women’s groups opposing the reforms include Midlothian Women's Spaces, which <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539381.pdf">said</a> “a man in a dress is not a woman” and the YES Matters group, which <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539509.pdf">said</a> “gender dysphoria is a mental health condition”. </p><p dir="ltr">Women's Place UK <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539502.pdf">said</a> the proposed reforms may have “unintended consequences for the safety and well-being of women and girls” as “predatory men could demand access to women-only spaces and services”. </p><p dir="ltr">Some women’s groups also argued that people are born male or female and cannot change this and that reforms could negatively affect marriages.</p><p dir="ltr">OBJECT – Women Not Sex Objects! <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539395.pdf">argued</a>: “We are a sexually dimorphic species, born (not 'assigned') male or female at birth. This is a scientific fact.” Recognising other genders “is a recipe for madness”, it added.</p><p dir="ltr">Lesbian Strength Scotland <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539371.pdf">said</a> that one partner in a same-sex relationship deciding to change their gender can affect “the nature of a marriage, and is likely to be linked to a distressing and sudden change in character”.</p><p dir="ltr">Fair Play for Women <a href="https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00539305.pdf">added</a> that if a woman’s husband changes his legal gender to female, “her marriage has fundamentally and dramatically changed” while divorce “may not be an easy option” for some, including “devout Catholics.”</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Would set trans rights back decades’</h2><p dir="ltr">Valentine, the Scottish Trans Alliance policy officer, told us that most of the largest Scottish women’s groups support the proposed reforms while a “small minority” is “organising a campaign, which relies heavily on misinformation”.</p><p dir="ltr">They said that groups opposing reforms are not focusing on the specific law and reforms under consideration “but seeking to repeal trans people’s protection from discrimination, which would set trans rights back decades”.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s not surprising to see Christian fundamentalists in this opposition, said Isabel Marler at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), describing them as “quick to deploy” whenever legal changes might grant marginalised groups more rights. </p><p dir="ltr">Their interest in this topic, she said, may be because “they see it as a ‘wedge’ issue” with less social consensus and “potential to whip up a moral panic.” </p><p dir="ltr">But she argued that anti-reform women’s groups should “reflect on the fact that they are aligned with some of the most patriarchal ideologies around, and ask themselves if their version of feminism is working for the liberation of all women and oppressed people”.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fopendemocracy5050%2Fvideos%2F2039472552776087%2F&show_text=0&width=476" width="450" height="450" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>* 50.50 is tracking the backlash against trans rights in the UK as part of our ongoing series <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash</a> against women’s and LGBT rights. </em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Equality Tracking the backlash women's movements gender fundamentalisms feminism young feminists Nandini Archer Claire Provost Thu, 18 Oct 2018 11:47:30 +0000 Claire Provost and Nandini Archer 120110 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Gay cake’ cases show strength of Christian right legal armies on both sides of the Atlantic https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-claire-provost/gay-cake-cases-strength-us-uk-christian-right-legal-armies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In UK and US supreme courts, freedom of speech has been the defence of bakers who oppose same-sex marriage. It’s no coincidence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39045567.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-39045567.jpg" alt="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court." title="Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court." width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ashers bakery owners outside the UK Supreme Court. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The owners of Ashers bakery in Northern Ireland, who refused to make a cake with the words ‘support gay marriage' on it, won their appeal at the UK Supreme Court this week. The court <a href="https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0020.html">ruled unanimously</a> that this refusal was not discriminatory.</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the UK LGBT rights group Stonewall <a href="https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/media-statement/stonewall-statement-ashers-bakery">said the</a> ruling was “a backward step for equality” which may be used “to justify even more discrimination at a time when LGBT people still face exclusion, abuse and discrimination every day.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44361162">similar case</a> earlier this year, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Christian baker in Colorado, whose Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.</p><p dir="ltr">On both sides of the Atlantic, the 'gay cake' cases used freedom of speech and conscience arguments to defend the bakers, who oppose same-sex marriage. Rights activists warn the verdicts could <a href="https://www.rainbow-project.org/news/the-rainbow-project-expresses-disappointment-at-supreme-court-ashers-judgment">set new precedents</a> for when businesses can discriminate against customers.</p><p dir="ltr">But what else do the two cases have in common? They show the strength of organised and internationally connected Christian legal armies with growing track records of successfully defending opponents of sexual and reproductive rights in US, UK and other courts.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">But what else do the two cases have in common? Increasingly organised and internationally connected Christian legal armies.</p><p dir="ltr">In the US Supreme Court case, the plaintiff, baker Jack Phillips, had been successfully <a href="https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/masterpiece-cakeshop/">sued in Colorado</a> after he refused to bake the cake for a gay couple in 2012.</p><p dir="ltr">He was represented by <a href="https://www.adflegal.org/">Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)</a>, described as an anti-LGBT “<a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/27/anti-lgbt-hate-group-alliance-defending-freedom-defended-state-enforced-sterilization">hate group</a>” by the Southern Law Poverty Center.</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK case, the Belfast bakery owners received <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/press_release/gay-cake-case-uk-supreme-court-belfast-first-time-ashers-baking-co-seeks-ni-court-compelled-speech-decision-overturned/">a £500 damages award</a> from their county court after they refused to bake the cake in that case, in 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">They were supported by the Newcastle-based <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/">Christian Institute</a> – a group that’s been <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">described</a> as an “allied organisation of ADF International,” ADF’s global wing, which also opened an office in London last year.</p><p dir="ltr">On Twitter, ADF <a href="https://twitter.com/AllianceDefends/status/1049990202859638784">called this week’s UK Supreme Court decision</a> “a great win for freedom”, while the Christian Institute <a href="https://mailchi.mp/christian/breaking-news-ashers-wins-in-landmark-victory-on-compelled-speech?e=f5840db50b">referred to it</a> as “thrilling news,” stating that “equality laws cannot be used to make people say things they don’t believe. That has always been our position.”</p><p>Previously, the two groups supported the case of a London registrar who <a href="https://adfinternational.org/legal/ladele-v-united-kingdom/">refused to officiate for same-sex civil partnerships</a>. The Christian Institute supported that case throughout, while ADF submitted legal arguments once it reached the European Court of Human Rights.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/GCC.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sharing cake."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/GCC.png" alt="Sharing cake." title="Sharing cake." width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sharing cake. Photo: Flickr/Loewyn Young. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>Same-sex marriage was legalised gradually in the US, starting with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/may/18/usa.uselections2004">Massachusetts</a> in 2004. In 2015, it was legalised nationwide as the result of a Supreme Court ruling.</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, Northern Ireland is the only part of the country where same-sex marriage isn’t legal. A bill to change this <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-44077962">was blocked</a> from moving to the next stage in the UK parliament earlier this year.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">What good are rules and regulations if they are treated as 'opt-in' by religious believers?</p><p dir="ltr">Internationally, freedom of speech, religion and conscience arguments are increasingly being used by conservative groups to challenge anti-discrimination and equality laws.</p><p dir="ltr">“Cases like these, funded by large and wealthy Christian lobby groups, taken up as an attempt to fan the flames of a culture war, are becoming far too frequent,” Liam Whitton from the charity Humanists UK told us, asking: “What good are rules and regulations if they are treated as 'opt-in' by religious believers?”</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, ADF International’s executive director <a href="https://www.christian.org.uk/news/gay-cake-cases-rubicon-free-speech/">Paul Coleman</a> wrote that the Colorado and Belfast bakers’ cases represented “a fork in the road” and that they would “shape the directions of Western freedoms in the years ahead”.</p><p dir="ltr">But, at the US LGBT rights group Equality Federation, Mark Snyder said that despite “emboldened” attempts from conservative groups to “undermine our core values of fairness and equality”, resistance to these efforts is also strong.</p><p dir="ltr">“I think there has been a renewed awakening to the importance of intersectional movement building,” he said, “as we see that it is the same cynical politicians and far-right activists attacking women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk United States UK Equality International politics Tracking the backlash sexual identities Claire Provost Nandini Archer Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:12:05 +0000 Nandini Archer and Claire Provost 120054 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nadia Murad may have won the Nobel peace prize, but the world failed her Yazidi people https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/nadia-murad-won-nobel-world-failed-her-yazidi-people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The international community could and should have done more to rescue those captured by ISIS. The media also failed in its coverage of this crisis.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26486088.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-26486088.jpg" alt="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016" title="Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nadia Murad Bansee Taha at the state parliament in Hanover, Germany, 31 May 2016. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Yazidi activist and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad has been named this year’s <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45759221">Nobel peace prize winner</a>, along with Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, for their efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.</p><p dir="ltr">Nadia endured more than three months in ISIS captivity after her village, Kocho, was overrun by militants on 3 August 2014. Troops from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga had left their positions all over the mainly Yazidi area of Mount Sinjar, in northern Iraq, to defend the city of Duhok after the fall of Mosul that June.</p><p dir="ltr">Her mother is believed to be buried in one of the mass graves found close to her village after it was retaken by the Peshmerga; she also lost brothers, sisters and nephews. Nadia’s niece, “sister and soulmate” was <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/150720171">killed by a landmine whilst making her own daring escape</a> from ISIS in 2016. Nadia took her passing particularly badly; by then she was <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/after-attempted-genocide-by-isis-yazidis-look-to-germany-1.2502704">safely ensconced in Germany</a> and already advocating for rescues and aid.</p><p dir="ltr">Of the 331 individuals and organisations nominated for the Nobel peace prize this year, Nadia is absolutely the most deserved winner. I will freely admit my bias here: I met her first in the summer of 2015, during a trip to the UK with the <a href="https://www.amarfoundation.org/">AMAR Foundation</a>. On this visit, she met the late Sue Lloyd-Roberts, whose <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33522204">last Newsnight dispatch</a> before she passed away featured Nadia and two other ISIS survivors (all anonymously).</p><p dir="ltr">Yazidism, prior to the 2014 genocide, expelled those who had any sexual contact with non-Yazidis. Baba Sheikh, the religions patriarch, changed this when he <a href="http://tracks.unhcr.org/2015/06/yazidi-women-welcomed-back-to-the-faith/">said </a>that those who had been in ISIS captivity should be honoured as “holy women”. This was hugely significant, removing some of the shame of speaking out about sexual violence and ensuring that ‘returnees’ were supported by their community.</p><p dir="ltr">In London, members of the Yazidi diaspora made long journeys from all over the UK to greet and honour Nadia and the two other girls, bringing small gifts, food and flowers. There was (almost) as much kissing and laugher as there were tears.</p><p dir="ltr">When Nadia talked, activists Ahmed Khuddiha and Mahar Nawaf and I struggled to retain the composure she kept throughout. Dressed entirely in black, she showed me scars still visible on her skin. Over the past four years, colour has slowly crept into her wardrobe and many of these wounds will have healed. But the toll of telling and retelling her story has left its own kind of mark. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Colour has slowly crept into her wardrobe and many of these wounds will have healed. But the toll of telling and retelling her story has left its own kind of mark.</p><p dir="ltr">Speaking out, Nadia explained that first day, is her way of fighting back. For her community, <a href="https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/z4jaye/every-part-of-me-changed-in-their-hands-former-isis-sex-slave-nadia-murad-speaks-out">she has told her story</a> again and again, expecting that assistance will follow. With notable exceptions including Germany’s Baden-Wuttenberg programme, that support remains largely elusive, inadequate, or in some cases, misdirected.</p><p dir="ltr">Inspired by meeting the survivors, I worked with <a href="https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-help-the-yazidi-women-and-girls-kidnapped-by-isis-yazidigirls">Change.org and the brilliant Yazidi activist Rozin Khahil</a>, a 17-year-old living in the UK, and in the middle of her A-levels at the time, to ask Theresa May, then Home Secretary, to help rescue 3,000 others still in captivity.</p><p dir="ltr">From <a href="http://www.yazda.org/">Yazda</a> activists, I received lists of missing people, including phone numbers (some of which still rang), and information about where they were being held. Yazda had shared this information with officials in Kurdistan, Iraq, the US and the UK, but no rescue missions were launched. They gave it to me in desperation, and I joined long email and whatsapp chains where people exchanged pictures of the missing and dead.</p><p dir="ltr">The advocacy and activism of Yazidi people in Iraq, and the diaspora, managed to free hundreds of those captured. In Duhok in late 2015, I visited camps where those freed from captivity lived, along with those displaced by the war. Conditions were appalling. I heard harrowing stories of sexual violence, torture and mass murder.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-24419933_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-24419933_0.jpg" alt="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015" title="A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A woman stands in the Sharya refugee camp near the Northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Iraq, October 2015. Photo: Stefanie Järkel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The only groups I saw providing aid in the camps – a year after the genocide – were the United Nations and the Germans. The UK Foreign Office told me at the time that our government was giving “support to all victims and vulnerable persons, including Yazidis, rather than specifically to Yazidis or any other group”.</p><p dir="ltr">Though the Yazidis had been singled out by ISIS as a minority ethnic group, efforts to help them from the UK did not. The same sectarianism and discrimination that the Yazidis experienced in war, and had experienced in Kurdistan for generations, was also evident in approaches to assist them in the aftermath of genocide.</p><p>The UK gave to a pooled UN humanitarian fund, and said it supported sexual violence awareness projects in the region – but couldn’t give me many details, due to safety issues of local partners.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">The same sectarianism and discrimination that the Yazidis experienced in war, and had experienced in Kurdistan for generations, was also evident in approaches to assist them in the aftermath of genocide.</p><p dir="ltr">Many Yazidis believe that money intended for them was siphoned off by the KRG to pay for the costly war their Peshmerga troops were, at the time, still losing. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) then consolidated their position in Sinjar, and took many Yazidis recruits within the ranks of their Syrian affiliate, the YPG. Some of these included ISIS escapees, to<a href="https://metro.co.uk/2017/09/27/escaped-yazidi-sex-slaves-hell-bent-on-revenge-join-squad-fighting-isis-6960988/"> more tabloid fanfare.</a></p><p>Nadia’s resolve and furious eloquence in sharing her story soon turned her into a spokesperson of her Yazidi people. In 2016, at just 23, she was named the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She has been lauded by politicians and supported by celebrities – notably Amal Clooney, who wrote a moving forward to Nadia’s recently-published book, <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/555106/the-last-girl-by-nadia-murad/">The Last Girl</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NM.png" alt="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017" title="Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nadia Murad with her book The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, 2017. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When we met again in 2016, when Nadia spoke at the UK House of Commons at the invitation of MP Brendan O’Hara, she was being showered with gifts.</p><p dir="ltr">As she became more famous, her story and that of the Yazidi genocide in general became easier for me to pitch to editors. But her message, in my mind, began to get lost. The terminology used to describe her – sex slave, ISIS hostage, sexual violence victim – was muddy and de-emphasised her and other survivors’ heroism.</p><p dir="ltr">What was lost was the reason that survivors spoke up: their wider concern for their community. Each of the escapees I met all conveyed this very clearly. They had made a simple calculation, waging that telling their story would help their families. Despite the intense personal toll, they persisted.</p><p dir="ltr">But instead of the stories of heroism in escaping ISIS captivity, the media focus shifted to the forms of sexual torture they had endured. As a feminist and a freelance journalist, newly let loose from the comforts of the newsroom, I found this disempowering in so many ways.</p><p dir="ltr">I had so much information I was expected to hand over to big-name media partners I knew well enough not to trust. Relationships I spent months building, with people I cared about, I was expected to hand over for a pat on the head and a day rate. I knew they wanted to make sexual victimhood horror stories and I felt complicit. If I couldn’t see the impact, what was the point? By that stage, no one could say they ‘didn’t know’.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">If I couldn’t see the impact, what was the point? By that stage, no one could say they ‘didn’t know’.</p><p dir="ltr">A low point was discussing a potential documentary with a male commissioner who insisted that Nadia (still maintaining her anonymity at the time) and the other girls would have to show their faces whilst detailing their experiences of sexual violence.</p><p dir="ltr">Otherwise, he insisted, we’d be denying viewers “anything to look at.” We discussed videos of sexual assaults I had heard that ISIS fighters were sharing. I got home and decided this wasn’t a search I wanted to undertake. I didn’t get commissioned.</p><p dir="ltr">I eventually stepped back, but Nadia kept on going, writing her book, meeting Hillary Clinton when she seemed about to be the first female US president, touring the world advocating on behalf of victims everywhere including meeting Boko Haram survivors. All whilst learning English and German and, earlier this year, getting engaged.</p><p dir="ltr">Like other Yazidi survivors I met, Nadia considers herself lucky. She talked more about what happened to her family and her community, than what happened to herself. She was in captivity for far less time than other girls, she would say. She’s safe and well in Germany; she has many nice things. I wasn’t to worry about her; there were many others.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Her Nobel peace prize deserves to be celebrated, but it cannot make up for the serious lack of international commitment to her cause. The tacit deal she made with us – with me, as with every journalist she spoke to – has been broken by our collective inaction.</p><p dir="ltr">Help to find those missing is still needed. Resettlement programmes must be supported along with adequate aid and meaningful education facilities in camps; medical treatment for the displaced, support for those who want to return to Sinjar; and some kind of dignified identification of remains that still lie <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22452&amp;LangID=E">decaying in open air mass graves</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">By telling her story so bravely, Nadia has done her part – again and again and again. Now it's time for the international community to do theirs. </p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and the media women and power violence against women Sexual violence young feminists Lara Whyte Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:47:03 +0000 Lara Whyte 119974 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Romanians didn’t show up to an anti-LGBT referendum. But the battle for equality continues https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/romanians-anti-lgbt-referendum-battle-continues <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A vote to make legalising equal marriage even harder was defeated this weekend. It’s a victory for progressive politics, but the fight isn’t over.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SN.R.1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Poster from LGBT rights group, ACCEPT, in Bucharest."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SN.R.1.png" alt="Poster from LGBT rights group, ACCEPT, in Bucharest." title="Poster from LGBT rights group, ACCEPT, in Bucharest." width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Poster from LGBT rights group, ACCEPT, in Bucharest. Photo: Sian Norris.</span></span></span>“VICTORIE!” declared the Romanian LGBT rights organisation <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/">MozaiQ</a> on their Facebook page last night, after a referendum this weekend to make legalising equal marriage even harder was lost following a nationwide boycott campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">The two-day vote, on whether to amend the constitution's definition of marriage to specify that it is between “a man and a woman” (rather than the current “two spouses” wording), failed to get the minimum 30% turnout required to be valid. Only <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-romania-referendum/romanian-vote-to-ban-same-sex-marriage-fails-on-low-turnout-idUSKCN1MH0XI">20.4% of voters</a> showed up. </p><p dir="ltr">The referendum followed a <a href="https://akademiai.com/doi/pdf/10.1556/AJur.55.2014.2.6">Citizens’ Initiative</a> petition and campaign by the ultra-conservative, anti-LGBT rights organisation <a href="http://coalitiapentrufamilie.ro/">Coalition for the Family</a> which wanted to frustrate any future attempts to legalise equal marriage. One of their founders, Pavel Chirila, has called homosexuality “<a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/orthodox-religion-unorthodox-medicine-the-rise-of-romania-s-christian-doctors-02-04-2018">an import</a>” from the West. </p><p dir="ltr">Equal marriage is not currently legal in Romania; homosexuality was only <a href="https://lege5.ro/Gratuit/gmzdanrr/ordonanta-de-urgenta-nr-89-2001-pentru-modificarea-si-completarea-unor-dispozitii-din-codul-penal-referitoare-la-infractiuni-privind-viata-sexuala">decriminalised</a> in 2001. If the Coalition had <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/romania-battleground-backlash-lgbt-rights">succeeded in amending the constitution’s gender-neutral wording,</a> any campaign to change this would have become much harder. </p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/photos/a.1228537373826607/2369760013037665/?type=3&amp;theater">statement</a> published by MozaiQ claimed the result shows “that Romanians have rejected hatred and division in society and have not identified with a political act aimed at stigmatising and discriminating against the LGBT community.” </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Romanians have rejected hatred and division in society.”</p><p dir="ltr">The result was hard-won. Ahead of the vote, activists reported an increase in homophobic and transphobic hate speech. </p><p dir="ltr">When I spoke to MozaiQ founding member Vlad Viski last year, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/strategy-visibility-lgbt-rights-romania">he told me</a> that his organisation had seen “an increase in violent physical attacks against LGBT people, with more people being beaten on the streets and coming to us.” </p><p dir="ltr">In the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/photos/a.1228537373826607/2369760013037665/?type=3&amp;theater">last few weeks</a>, the group said, LGBT people have “been demonised, put against the wall, made scapegoat for all Romania's social problems.”</p><p dir="ltr">What can we learn from what happened? The first thing: human rights should not be up for popular vote. It’s unacceptable, as though minority and oppressed groups can have their rights gifted and taken away by the wider population. </p><p dir="ltr">This was the message behind MozaiQ’s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/photos/a.1228537373826607/2369760013037665/?type=3&amp;theater">campaign</a> to boycott the referendum. Human rights are fundamental. The right to marriage is enshrined in the <a href="http://www.claiminghumanrights.org/udhr_article_16.html">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a>. It’s not a debate to be voted on.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Human rights should not be up for popular vote.”</p><p dir="ltr">The second is that minority and oppressed groups cannot be used as pawns to distract people from wider issues and discontent. </p><p dir="ltr">The timing of this referendum provided a government under attack from anti-corruption protests with a chance to <a href="https://euobserver.com/tickers/143035">deflect attention</a> from their own problems. By allowing the referendum, MozaiQ <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/photos/a.1228537373826607/2369760013037665/?type=3&amp;theater">argued</a>, “the political class has shown that it is disconnected from the daily realities” of Romanian people. </p><p dir="ltr">The third thing to note is that voters rejected outside interference in their democracy from international ultra-conservative anti-LGBT groups.</p><p dir="ltr">Since the launch of the Citizens’ Initiative, the Coalition for the Family has had support from the US-based <a href="https://www.lc.org/">Liberty Counsel</a> and <a href="https://www.adflegal.org/">Alliance Defending Freedom</a> (designated as anti-LGBT hate groups by the <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/liberty-counsel">Southern Poverty Law Center</a>). </p><p dir="ltr">Liberty Counsel submitted a grossly homophobic <a href="https://www.lc.org/newsroom/details/112316-liberty-counsel-defends-natural-marriage-in-romania-1">amicus briefing</a> on the supposed dangers of equal marriage – and supported a<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/13/romania-anti-gay-marriage-campaign-kim-davis"> Romanian tour</a> by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Davis">Kim Davis</a>, a US clerk briefly jailed for refusing to officiate same-sex marriages.</p><p dir="ltr">Speaking to Teodora Ion-Rotaru from LGBT rights group ACCEPT last year, she expressed resigned anger at how these groups “have no business” interfering in Romania. “Having failed to stop equal marriage from being introduced in the US, she <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/romania-battleground-backlash-lgbt-rights">said</a>, “they come to countries that are a lot more vulnerable.”</p><p dir="ltr">Viski echoed this sentiment, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/romania-battleground-backlash-lgbt-rights">saying</a> “these organisations see Eastern Europe as fertile ground to spread their anti-LGBT ideas.” </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">“These organisations see Eastern Europe as fertile ground to spread their anti-LGBT ideas.”</span> </p><p dir="ltr">The ballot box defeat of their agenda suggests that outside groups determined to undermine LGBT rights around the world have been rejected in Romania. </p><p dir="ltr">It also suggests that the influence of the Orthodox Church – whose <a href="http://basilica.ro/patriarhul-romaniei-cei-care-nu-ati-fost-pana-acum-la-vot-va-rugam-sa-mergeti-ca-sa-nu-fie-prea-tarziu/">Patriarch urged Christians to go and vote on Sunday</a> – has been overestimated. </p><p dir="ltr">So what happens now? The referendum is over, but the fight for equality isn’t. Meanwhile, the anti-rights opposition remains a threat to progressive values. </p><p dir="ltr">“The battle for the LGBT community does not stop here,” said <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mozaiqromania/photos/a.1228537373826607/2369760013037665/?type=3&amp;theater">MozaiQ</a>, which is campaigning for legalised civil partnerships, an end to homophobic bullying in schools and workplaces, and better support for those living with HIV and Aids. </p><p dir="ltr">After hearing the result of their failed referendum, the Coalition for the Family’s supporters went on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/coalitiapentrufamilie/">Facebook</a> to call for it to form a political party. </p><p dir="ltr">For its part, the Coalition has reacted to its defeat by <a href="http://coalitiapentrufamilie.ro/2018/10/07/partidele-politice-adevaratul-boicot/">accusing</a> the government of organising the vote in a “superficial and unprofessional manner” with “even basic information on [its] subject… not communicated to the Romanian public.” </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">“The referendum is over, but the fight for equality isn’t.” </span></p><p dir="ltr">It’s unclear at this stage what the Coalition will do next. But they are supported by powerful international forces, and won’t give up their fight for influence. </p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, eastern and central Europe have seen <a href="https://newsmavens.com/special-review/796/eastern-europe-s-blitzkrieg-on-gender-equality">a rise in populist, far right politics</a> determined to target minority and oppressed people. </p><p dir="ltr">Last month, we saw the transnational dimension of this backlash against rights at the 2018 <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/us-and-russian-religious-right-unite-against-radical-liberalism">World Congress of Families </a>in neighbouring Moldova, attended by hateful US and Russian groups as well as those from other countries.</p><p dir="ltr">So, while LGBT activists and their supporters can and should celebrate VICTORIE today, no one who believes in equality can rest on their laurels. Homophobic forces were beaten this weekend, but the battle continues. </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/romania-battleground-backlash-lgbt-rights">How Romania became a battleground in the transatlantic backlash against LGBT rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Romania </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"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Romania Civil society Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Tracking the backlash sexual identities gender Sian Norris Mon, 08 Oct 2018 11:35:02 +0000 Sian Norris 119962 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Sexual liberation, socialist style': an overlooked women's rights story? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/brittney-ferreira/sexual-liberation-socialist-style-overlooked-womens-rights-story <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New research by Kateřina Lišková places eastern bloc countries at forefront of twentieth century push for gender equality.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women in Prague, 1956."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF1.png" alt="Women in Prague, 1956." title="Women in Prague, 1956." width="460" height="294" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women in Prague, 1956. Photo: FORTEPAN / Nagy Gyula / Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.</span></span></span>In the early 1950s, communist Czechoslovakia embarked on pioneering, nationwide research into the female orgasm. In 1961, it decriminalised homosexuality. These are just two examples of an overlooked history of sexual liberation in eastern Europe’s socialist states, according to the author of a groundbreaking new book on the topic.</p><p>Kateřina Lišková, author of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/sexual-liberation-socialist-style/ECEFAB809A019B2F7D63267B9D95CEAD">Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style</a>, is associate professor in gender studies and sociology at Masaryk University in Brno. We must learn from the past to better understand the present, she told me in a recent interview. She described a “collective memory” of communism as a “horrible, gruesome, dark” time when “everything just went wrong” but warned against dismissing it entirely. Instead, her book tells a lesser-known story in which socialist states were pioneers of sexual freedom.</p><p>Amid Czechoslovakia’s show trials and judicial murders of political opponents, “there was also this incredible equalisation of gender within marriage,” she told me, “and also these new advances in sexuality, this new understanding of people and their lives and their happiness in sexual, intimate terms.”</p><p>The months that Lišková spent trawling through archival materials, from expert analyses and state-issued policies to divorce court arguments, revealed important changes that unfolded in Czechoslovakia’s “long 1950s” – the period from 1948, when the communists came into power, until the early 1960s.</p><p dir="ltr">Prague’s sexological research around fertility and the female orgasm, for instance, led doctors to conclude that the absence of love underpinned women’s lack of orgasms&nbsp;and brought experts to view gender equality as a necessary precondition for marital and sexual satisfaction. </p><p dir="ltr">“It’s a very socialist idea that people should marry for love and that love is the only reason for marriage,” Lišková told me. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">“It’s a very socialist idea that people should marry for love and that love is the only reason for marriage.”</p><p dir="ltr">But it wasn’t just Czechoslovak women who relished this new interest in gender equality; women’s rights were universally enshrined in constitutions across the eastern bloc.</p><p>Governments throughout the region also invested in public services, such as kindergartens and laundries, seeking to make women’s lives easier. Women enjoyed newly held property and parental rights, improved access to education and greater labour force participation that brought unprecedented financial independence. Abortion access was liberalised in all socialist countries over the course of the 1950s, with social and economic hardship instituted as valid grounds for terminating a pregnancy.</p><p>That the eastern bloc was a forerunner in legalising abortion may come as a surprise to readers, given the <a href="https://euobserver.com/health/140158">contemporary backlash</a> against women’s reproductive freedoms in a handful of formerly socialist countries, including Poland. The country <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/world/europe/poland-abortion-women-protest.html">once had some of the region’s most progressive abortion laws</a>; now it has some of the most conservative, restricting access to just a few circumstances: in cases of serious foetal anomaly; when the woman’s life or health is at risk; or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.</p><p>A proposal for a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/23/polish-lawmakers-anti-abortion-bill">near-total ban on abortion in Poland, tabled in 2016</a>, is just one example of efforts to even further restrict these rights. Another is a (rejected) 2018 bill to outlaw abortions where the foetus has a congenital disorder, such as Down syndrome, a permission that currently accounts for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/11/polish-mps-reject-liberalised-abortion-laws-but-back-new-restrictions">about 95% of Poland’s reported abortions</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Polish women protest a proposed near-total ban on abortion in 2016."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF2.png" alt="Polish women protest a proposed near-total ban on abortion in 2016." title="Polish women protest a proposed near-total ban on abortion in 2016." width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Polish women protest a proposed near-total ban on abortion in 2016. Photo: Zorro2212 / Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.</span></span></span>Such a backlash in the wake of relative progressivity seems jarring. When I asked Lišková about this, she described a series of regressive turns across the region close to or after the end of communism. Her research refutes ideas that increased sexual and reproductive freedoms unfold linearly. Instead, she recounts ebbs and flows of progress. </p><p dir="ltr">As people grew increasingly disenchanted with what decades of socialism had delivered, “there was this push against communism,” Lišková told me. “Everything communist was bad and it meant different things in different countries. And we can see this on abortion, on access to abortion. In Poland, it was deemed ‘bad communist’ that women had access; in Romania, it was deemed ‘bad communist’ that women didn’t.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Everything communist was bad and it meant different things in different countries... In Poland, it was deemed ‘bad communist’ that women had access [to abortion]; in Romania, it was deemed ‘bad communist’ that women didn’t.”</p><p dir="ltr">In Poland, opponents of communism sought to reverse so-called ‘imposed Soviet practices,’ including access to abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">Amid an overwhelmingly Catholic population, this access came to signify communists’ resistance to the church. In her book, Lišková writes that Poland underwent “a powerful reclaiming of pre-communist notions of private life,” characterised by a backlash against women’s reproductive freedoms and a re-traditionalisation of gender relations.</p><p dir="ltr">Conversely, Romania liberalised abortion after socialism ended. Then-leader Nicolae Ceaușescu had tightened abortion regulations in 1966 and women’s “non-access” became “emblematic of the state socialism they wanted to do away with,” Lišková said.</p><p>In the case of Czechoslovakia, Lišková describes a period of “normalisation” after the Soviet Union defeated the 1968 Prague Spring reforms. The 1970s saw a return to more conservative gender relations and another rolling back of women’s reproductive rights.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/BF3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protestors in Prague during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Photo: The Central Intelligence Agency / Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.</span></span></span>But, Lišková stresses, the progressive changes of 1950s Czechoslovakia were not entirely erased. The decade’s egalitarian social practices outlasted its policies, she explains; women’s independence had become the norm.</p><p dir="ltr">Lišková’s book describes these important and enduring steps towards gender equality in Czechoslovakia as a kind of “liberation from above.” Contrasting these with grassroots mobilisations for sexual liberation in the West in the 1960s, she challenges a common narrative that progress in this area is invariably achieved “from below.”</p><p>Lišková told me she does not dismiss the importance of social movements but rather seeks to show that, historically, “there are other modes of liberalising sexuality, that are not bottom-up… They just look different and occur at a different time and the dynamics are just rather different. And I think that we need to understand that also.”</p><p dir="ltr">But she was also careful not to romanticise what happened in communist Czechoslovakia. Even as equality became the new norm, she writes, “the reality of patriarchy coloured everyday lives” and there was a “necessary lag” between changes implemented by the regime and changes in social practices.</p><p dir="ltr">“I think it is generally very difficult to change people’s practices overnight the way you can change the regime overnight,” she told me. </p><p dir="ltr">“You cannot decree from above that men should treat women equally at home, that they should take up their fair share of household duties, that they should love and cherish their wives.”</p><p dir="ltr">“In the case of Czechoslovakia and other state socialist countries,” she added, “many of these rights were first instituted from above. But, of course, you need people… to adhere to those rights, to want to keep them, to practice them, to exercise them. And, of course, you need people to shout if these rights should be taken away.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/katerina-liskova/socialist-love-from-utopia-to-pragmatism">Socialist love: from utopia to pragmatism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/polina-aronson-julia-lerner/cold-war-hot-love">Cold war, hot love</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"> Czech Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 oD Russia Czech Republic Culture Equality International politics Tracking the backlash women and power gender Brittney Ferreira Romantic regimes Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:00:54 +0000 Brittney Ferreira 119783 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Anger is language of justice’ says author of new book on women’s rage https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/anger-language-of-justice-new-book-womens-rage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What have women got to be angry about? A lot, according to writer and critic Soraya Chemaly who talks about her new book Rage Becomes Her.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SN1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Soraya Chemaly. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/SN1.png" alt="Soraya Chemaly. " title="Soraya Chemaly. " width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Soraya Chemaly. Photo: Karen Sayre. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“What was striking for me was that people kept suggesting anger is irrational,” the US-based writer and critic Soraya Chemaly tells me down the phone during her recent trip to the UK. “That makes no sense. Anger is deeply rational response. It’s a warning. Anger is the language of justice and fairness.”</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly’s new book, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Rage-Becomes-Her/Soraya-Chemaly/9781501189555">Rage Becomes Her, </a>is a rousing battle cry in defence of women’s anger. In the forensic and well-evidenced study, Chemaly explores the inequalities that women face from birth to death, and how they make us furious.</p><p dir="ltr">The book covers issues from body image and pornography, reductive gender stereotypes, unpaid domestic labour, childbirth, workplace discrimination, and male violence. Chemaly reveals how women’s unequal status in the world is making us angry, how repressed anger is making us sick – and how it’s time for women’s justifiable anger to be taken seriously.</p><p dir="ltr">“I’ve written about the issues in the book for many years,” Chemaly explains, referring to a long career writing about feminism for TIME, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New Statesman and elsewhere, as well as her role as director of the <a href="https://www.womensmediacenter.com/">Women’s Media Center</a> in Washington DC. “But then the 2016 US election happened."</p><p dir="ltr">Women had warned about the coming of a sexist, racist and authoritarian leader like Donald Trump, she said, but their warnings had been dismissed and ignored. "I’d watched for a long time as women, feminist activists, women acting in social justice kept warning about what was happening," she says, referring to the veer to the right.</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly believes that Trump’s election in 2016 came as a surprise to some because "there was an ignorance about this in the mainstream media that stemmed from a denial of the legitimacy of what women were saying." She includes the anger of women who voted for Trump in this.</p><p dir="ltr">This denial came from the fact that women warning against mainstream misogyny were seen as "emotional" and "irrational" – and, she adds, "ironically of course we end up with this clown car of people in the White House, being driven by a person who seems to have almost no rationality."</p><p dir="ltr">"That’s why I wrote the book," she continues. "I wanted to ask: what is the problem we have in society about legitimising what women are saying. Because if we had listened to those women’s warnings in the first place, we would not be in this current situation."</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“If we had listened to women, we would not be in this current situation."</p><p>“What’s interesting to me is how gendered the word “emotional” is,” Chemaly tells me. “It’s a dismissive term for women. Emotional, hormonal… it’s just wrong.”</p><p dir="ltr">"Like so much sexism,” she continues, “it’s literally just stupid."</p><p dir="ltr">Her books opens by looking at how girls’ emotions are policed from childhood, with a focus on Western women. Chemaly writes that "anger remains the emotion that is least acceptable for girls and women because it is the first defense against injustice."</p><p dir="ltr">"What’s important to understand is by so thoroughly separating and detaching this powerful emotion from the notion of femininity," she tells me, "we take away from girls and women the ability to defend themselves and to assert their rights."</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly looks at the anger women feel about pornography and how the ubiquitous presence of the sex industry in society leads to women exhibiting what she describes as "higher rates of self-objectification, as well as body and sexual dissatisfaction. Women and girls are not supposed to be angry about pornography and its impacts, but women, when asked, report feeling anger about porn."</p><p dir="ltr">I ask Chemaly to expand on this point. "I’m all for good, ethical porn," she says. "But pretending that [pornography] doesn’t exist in the context of profound racism and misogyny is really unhelpful. The research shows that women get angry about pornography because it has an impact on their intimate lives. And yet we are not supposed to talk about any of that, and instead let men have their kicks."</p><p dir="ltr">"In order to express anger, you have to trust that the person you are in a relationship with is going to respect you enough not to mock or dismiss you," she continues. "Women don’t have that level of trust in a lot of their relationships and they worry they will be rejected if they express what is important to them."</p><p dir="ltr">This is something I have encountered when speaking to women survivors of violent relationships – where expressing any kind of negative emotion, let alone anger, is punished by violence. That’s the extreme end, but Chemaly is right that for too many women, "your intimacy precludes your honesty."</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly believes that the silencing of women’s anger, be it about porn, unequal distribution of domestic labour, or male violence, is making us sick.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Chemaly believes that the silencing of women’s anger, be it about porn, unequal distribution of domestic labour, or male violence, is making us sick. </p><p>She writes that "an inability to articulate anger is recognised as a significant component of both depression and anxiety", which women and girls suffer at higher rates than boys and men.</p><p>But it’s not just a question of mental health. Being prevented from expressing our anger is making women physically unwell, too.</p><p>"Repressed anger affects our cardiovascular system, it affects our mental state, our hormonal endocrine systems," Chemaly insists over the phone. "Understanding how our emotional and physical lives relate to one another is really important."</p><p dir="ltr">The data Chemaly presents in defence of this argument is persuasive, writing how "repressed anger… now considered a risk factor for a panoply of other ailments" including "disabling and painful autoimmune illnesses" such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, which women are three times more likely to experience than men.</p><p dir="ltr">She writes that "certain cancers, particularly breast cancer… have been linked to what researchers describe as ‘extreme suppression of anger’."</p><p dir="ltr">Her book is quick to point out that "anger does not cause these illnesses, but studies repeatedly suggest, and in some cases confirm, that its mismanagement is implicated in their incidence and prevalence among women."</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly also looks at racial stereotypes to reveal how our attitudes to women’s rage change depending who is expressing that anger.</p><p dir="ltr">"It’s very important to acknowledge that there’s no “one size fits all” when you talk about the category of women," she tells me, explaining how our anger is received in ways that are “completely contextual and socially constructed.”</p><p dir="ltr">“There’s an angry black woman stereotype, the crazy white woman stereotype, and the sad or passive Asian woman stereotype," she continues, adding as an example: "a black woman doesn’t have to be angry to be called an angry black woman… She just needs to get up in the morning."</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“A black woman doesn’t have to be angry to be called an angry black woman… She just needs to get up in the morning."</p><p>Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot to be angry about in a book about women’s anger.</p><p>It’s impossible to read about the statistics on women’s mental and physical health, the gender imbalance in everything from domestic labour to medical research, and the horrors of endemic male violence, without feeling that very burning rage at injustice which women are punished for expressing.</p><p dir="ltr">But knowing why we are angry can be an effective catalyst for change.</p><p dir="ltr">"In the anger there is knowledge, and in the knowledge there is anger," Chemaly tells me. "They construct each other and you need respect for one to have respect for the other. So long as women are not respected as authorities in their culture, their anger will not be respected."</p><p dir="ltr">Chemaly is determined to "find the good things" in our current political situation, such as <a href="http://time.com/5107499/record-number-of-women-are-running-for-office/">record numbers of women running for office</a> in the upcoming midterm elections. But "the real core problem is how sustainable" this new burst of activism is.</p><p dir="ltr">"The conclusion I personally have come to," she tells me, "is that the immense creativity of women is something we need to focus on. How can that creativity include politics, religion and the spaces that are currently thought of as men’s spaces?"</p><p dir="ltr">"It’s possible to consciously think about transformative uses of anger," she concludes. "Instead of letting anger control you, you can transform it."</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Rage Becomes Her, by Soraya Chemaly, was published 20 September 2018 by Simon Schuster. </em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Equality Ideas International politics Sian Norris Mon, 01 Oct 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Sian Norris 119799 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Dear reader, put yourself in the position of a child raped and denied an abortion’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/esperanza-meraki/dear-reader-i-urge-you-to-put-yourself-in-position-of-child-who-has-been-raped <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I am a 14-year-old aspiring human rights activist and this is why I believe in women’s and girls' right to safe abortion in cases of rape.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DR1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DR1.png" alt="Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. " title="Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. Photo: lusciousblopster/Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>I am a 14-year-old aspiring human rights activist and I support women’s right to safe abortion.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Abortion is a very complicated topic, as there is no black or white; there is an infinite amount of shades of grey in between. Many people across the world are anti-abortion and pro-life. Some believe that abortion is murder and women should not be given that choice, but I believe this is problematic and unfair because there are many cases when a woman should have the right to terminate a fetus.</p><p dir="ltr">Firstly, women can suffer serious health risks from unsafe abortions or if they are forced to continue a pregnancy. Every year, from South Korea to Nicaragua, <a href="https://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/irish-news/ireland-would-have-illegal-abortion-epidemic-without-access-to-uk-terminations-36240073.html">70,000 women die</a> from an unsafe abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">Recently, in India, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her father's colleague, who has been imprisoned. Dr. Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40996629">says</a>, "Her pelvis is not fully developed to carry a baby to full term and she will go through physical and mental trauma if she's not allowed to abort. There are definite risks to her health. It will be more troublesome for her the longer it's allowed to continue." This evidence shows how destructive the health impacts could be. No one deserves this.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"Her pelvis is not fully developed to carry a baby to full term and she will go through physical and mental trauma if she's not allowed to abort.”</p><p dir="ltr">Secondly, abortion should be permitted if a girl is raped because the mother may not be able to provide for her child (financially). An <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40753409">example</a> of this is when a 10-year-old girl gave birth in India. She was raped several times by her uncle, who was arrested. Luckily, in India, abortion is allowed, but she was too young to understand that she was pregnant until her pregnancy was visible to others. The law states that abortion will only be permitted after 20 weeks if the mother's life is in danger.</p><p dir="ltr">Neither the supreme nor the lower court gave her permission to terminate the fetus, as they believed it would hurt the girl. But, this 10-year-old isn't old enough to raise a child. Her family doesn’t have the money to support both children.</p><p>A lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40753409">filed a public interest petition</a> claiming that the mother and fetus were both in danger. This is one of many petitions concerning child rape and abortion which have been filed to Indian courts in recent years.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DR2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DR2.png" alt="Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012." title="Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012." width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012. Photo: Ramesh Lalwani/Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The final reason why I believe abortion should be permitted if a child is raped is that serious emotional effects can occur. There is no need to explain how terrible a crime rape is. In an interview with me, lawyer Praneeta Sharma explained that child rape is a disgusting way for (usually, but not all the time) men to show power and violate (usually, but not all the time) women.</p><p dir="ltr">In India, there have been cases of children being raped by their uncles, fathers, stepfathers, brothers and other people who may have power over them. <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40753409">50% of the time</a>, in India, child abusers are known by their victims.</p><p dir="ltr">I discussed this topic with feminist activist Ruchi Tripathi who said, "If a child is raped, and their health is at risk, the life of the mother is more important, as she is the one who is alive, who has suffered tremendously physically and emotionally.”</p><p dir="ltr">“The fetus is not a child until it's born in nine months – whereas the child will suffer if she is forced to deliver the baby, both physically with her body not being able to cope, as well as emotionally to be responsible for another life – or to live with knowing that her child is somewhere out there if it’s given up for adoption.”</p><p dir="ltr">Tripathi concluded: “Her family/doctors/governments must put the girl’s health and wellbeing first."</p><p dir="ltr">Many people identify strongly with religion (<a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/31/nicaragua-abortion-ban-threatens-health-and-lives">prominent in Nicaragua and Ireland</a>) and therefore do not support abortion. They think abortion is murder, even though the fetus is inside of the mother. I understand that some religions don’t support abortions and people can't be culturally insensitive, but women's rights should come first.</p><p dir="ltr">Overall, abortion should be allowed and accessible for women who have been raped, because women should have the right to choose what happens to their body and life, they may not be able to provide for a child and there are various negative physical and emotional effects from giving birth to an unwanted fetus.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Imagine that you live in a country that has a total ban on abortion and you feel stuck. The options you have are to have an illegal, unsafe abortion, or give birth.”</p><p dir="ltr">Dear reader, I urge you to put yourself in the position of a child who has been raped. Imagine that you live in a country that has a total ban on abortion and you feel stuck. The options you have are to have an illegal, unsafe abortion, or give birth. Unfortunately, you don’t have the financial support for either one of these options. You would be shunned from society for having an abortion, and you may hurt yourself. The baby (if born) would be a constant reminder of your violation and you cannot support him/her.</p><p dir="ltr">In addition to this, it has been proven multiple times that restrictive abortion laws don’t decrease the number of abortions; they just cause more unsafe, illegal ones.</p><p dir="ltr">At first, I wasn’t very educated on this topic. I was caught in between pro-life and pro-choice. After doing extensive research and interviews, I leant more towards the pro-choice side, but realised there shouldn’t be two sides, because I believe abortion is a human right.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 women's human rights women's health bodily autonomy young feminists Esperanza Meraki Fri, 28 Sep 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Esperanza Meraki 119770 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 28 abortion rights successes in 2018 https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer-marge-berer/28-abortion-rights-successes-in-2018 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For International Safe Abortion Day, on 28 September, we are celebrating 28 aspects of progress and success we’ve seen internationally this year.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 22.53.25.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Protest for legal abortion in Argentina, August 2018."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 22.53.25.png" alt="Protest for legal abortion in Argentina, August 2018." title="Protest for legal abortion in Argentina, August 2018." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest for legal abortion in Argentina, August 2018. Photo: Flickr/Fotomovimiento. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This year marks the 29th time our movement has celebrated 28 September as an international day for safe abortion. It has been a busy year for abortion rights campaigning, and a good one in many countries. </p><p dir="ltr">Much of the mainstream media <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-rocio-ros-rebollo/world-reaction-ireland-historic-vote-abortion-rights">reported</a> on the Irish abortion referendum and the almost successful Argentinian law reform, but action has been taking place all over the world, inside and outside government, on the streets and in the media, from South Korea to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).</p><p dir="ltr">Focusing on the increasingly organised and sometimes violent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">backlash</a> against women’s rights globally, and the myriad challenges we face, we sometimes lose sight of the many positive strides forward. This list celebrates these, and all the people who have worked tirelessly to make them possible.</p><h2>1. El Salvador commutes two women’s prison sentences</h2><p dir="ltr">In February, Teodora del Carmen Vásquez regained her freedom after <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/el-salvador-frees-woman-imprisoned-abortion-180215164922658.html">serving 11 years in prison</a> for aggravated homicide under El Salvador’s extreme anti-abortion laws. One month later, Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín was released after her own 30-year homicide sentence was commuted. “I am happy to be with my family,” <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/el-salvador-freed-after-15-years-in-jail/">she said</a>. “I want to study law to understand what happened to me and help other women.”</p><h2>2. New Zealand’s prime minister announces intended legal reform</h2><p dir="ltr">Also in February, Prime Minister <a href="https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/02/15/89105/labour-moves-to-legalise-abortion">Jacinda Ardern announced her decision</a> to launch a reform of New Zealand’s abortion law. The country’s current law permits abortion when a woman faces danger to her life, physical or mental health, or in cases of fetal anomaly. </p><h2>3. Macedonia also announces its intention to reform legislation</h2><p dir="ltr">On International Women’s Day, 8 March, recently appointed Health Minister of Macedonia, Venko Filipce, announced that he would start working to amend the abortion law <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/macedonia-macedonia-to-revise-restrictive-abortion-law/">to protect women’s health</a>. The current 2013 law is extremely restrictive and <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonia-to-revise-restrictive-abortion-law-03-08-2018">sparked widespread criticism</a> from women’s and human rights activists when it was adopted.</p><h2>4. The DRC publishes the Maputo Protocol in its legal gazette</h2><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/democratic-republic-of-congo-legal-access-to-abortion-expands/">Article 14 of the protocol requires that signatory states</a> protect women’s reproductive rights, including legal access to abortion. The DRC’s constitution states that ratified international treaties shall supersede national laws once published in the legal gazette. A coalition of national and local NGOs is now working to raise awareness of this change.</p><h2>5. Chilean feminists defend their new abortion law</h2><p dir="ltr">In March, <a href="http://www.rfi.fr/ameriques/20180327-chili-semaine-mobilisation-loi-avortement-ivg-pinera-bachelet">feminists mobilised in Santiago</a> to protect their <a href="http://mileschile.cl/5957/">new abortion law</a>. Last year, the right to <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/chile-legal-abortions-in-chile-since-the-new-law-was-passed-and-response-to-political-pushback/">abortion on three grounds was won</a> in Chile. Although the new conservative government sought to restrict the law, it has so far been unsuccessful. In August, opposition MPs presented a bill to further legalise abortion, inspired by Argentina. </p><h2>6. Cyprus reforms its abortion law</h2><p dir="ltr">Also in March, after <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/cyprus-the-parliament-has-changed-the-abortion-law-after-three-years-of-inaction/">years of discussion and three years of inaction</a> on a bill tabled in 2015, parliament reformed its law to allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without having to prove risks to the woman’s health and up to 19 weeks in case of rape. The <a href="http://cyprus-mail.com/2018/03/30/parliament-decriminalises-abortion/">vote in support of the bill</a> was 33 in favour, with eight against and five abstentions.</p><h2>7. Abortion clinic buffer zones established in Canada and London, UK</h2><p dir="ltr">In April, Ealing Council in west London unanimously voted to implement a 100 metre buffer zone around a clinic <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/10/ealing-council-vote-buffer-zone-near-marie-stopes-clinic-intimidation-anti-abortion-groups">to stop harassment of women and staff</a>, though in September the Home Secretary refused to make the buffer zones national. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/albertaprochoicecoalition/">No-go zones</a> for protestors were also established in Alberta, following several other Canadian provinces.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration for abortion law reform in Dublin, Ireland, March 2018. Photo: Sinn Féin/Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h2>8. French Equality Council proposes new constitutional rights</h2><p dir="ltr">Also in April, the French High Council for Equality Between Women and Men <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/france-stop-press-french-high-council-for-equality-between-women-and-men-recommends-a-constitutional-right-to-access-contraception-and-abortion/">published a call</a> to modernise France’s constitution to include rights to contraception and abortion, as a crucial way to guarantee gender equality.</p><h2>9. Women in government speak out in Zimbabwe for abortion law reform</h2><p dir="ltr">In May, there were fresh <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/zimbabwe-teenagers-are-dying-and-lawmakers-call-for-abortion-law-reform/">calls for Zimbabwe’s abortion law to be reformed</a>, including from women in the health ministry and the Parliamentary Committee on Gender and Youth Affairs. MP Jessie Majome also argued that although abortion in cases of rape is legal, the red tape women have to go through makes it almost inaccessible.</p><h2>10. Mexican Supreme Court confirms right to abortion in two rape cases</h2><p dir="ltr">On <a href="https://www.animalpolitico.com/blogueros-punto-gire/2016/04/18/aborto-por-violacion-y-nom-046-un-antes-y-un-despues/">15</a> and <a href="https://www.animalpolitico.com/blogueros-punto-gire/2016/04/18/aborto-por-violacion-y-nom-046-un-antes-y-un-despues/">18</a> May, the court ruled that two women had their rights violated when they were denied abortions after having been raped. Abortion is legal in cases of rape, but the women had to wait years for their appeals to be heard.</p><h2>11. Ireland votes to repeal its constitution’s eighth amendment</h2><p dir="ltr">On 25 May, the country voted in a historic referendum to repeal the amendment which had given a fetus equal rights to those of a pregnant woman. Two-thirds of voters said ‘yes’ to the repeal motion, which passed in all but one of 40 local constituencies.</p><h2>12. Action in Northern Ireland is also sparked by Ireland’s referendum</h2><p dir="ltr">There was an immediate <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/northern-ireland-the-north-is-next-proposals-put-forward-to-try-and-make-this-happen/">call for Northern Ireland to be next</a>, including from the regional director of the Royal College of Midwives, the Unite trade union, and more than 150 British MPs. The Irish Prime Minister said he couldn’t see why women from Northern Ireland couldn’t have abortions in the Republic, once procedures were legalised there.</p><h2>13. A motion tabled in Jamaica calls for debate on abortion law reform</h2><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/jamaica-experts-urge-repeal-of-19th-century-abortion-law/">group of experts on human rights in patient care</a> urged legislators in April to repeal sections of the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act which prevent Jamaican women from legally terminating pregnancies. On 5 June, a motion was <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/jamaica-a-necessary-personal-and-public-health-issue-that-needs-to-be-addressed-once-and-for-all/">tabled</a> in parliament calling for debate on the law that criminalises abortion with life imprisonment.</p><h2>14. Ireland finally grants justice for Ms Y</h2><p>A young woman, ‘Ms Y,’ sought refugee status in Ireland in 2014 after being kidnapped, beaten and raped by the head of a paramilitary organisation in her home country. She <a href="https://www.amnesty.ie/ms-ys-case/">discovered she was pregnant</a>, was denied an abortion even after threatening suicide, and was detained in hospital until told (falsely) that it was too late. In June, Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive acknowledged liability and offered her compensation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="264" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June demonstration for abortion rights outside the National Congress Building, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: Mariana Romero. </span></span></span></p><h2>15. Argentina’s House votes to reform its abortion law, but Senate votes it down</h2><p dir="ltr">In June, the House of Deputies voted to reform the abortion law by 131 to 123 votes. However, the Senate then voted against the reform in August, while hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, demonstrated outside in the pouring rain. There were <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/press-release-9-august-2018-argentina-no-turning-back/">66 solidarity events in 35 countries</a> across four continents.</p><h2>16. A medical college in Ethiopia opens a new clinic</h2><p dir="ltr">Also in June, <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/ethiopia-the-new-michu-clinic-adama-hospital-medical-college-adama/">a new clinic was opened</a> at a hospital and medical college in Adama, Ethiopia. On average, the clinic sees 100-120 girls and women every day. Teams of nurses and midwives provide contraception, counselling and abortion services. The clinic is a model of integrated sexual reproductive health services.</p><h2>17. A public meeting in Madagascar discusses abortion law reform</h2><p dir="ltr">On 1 July, a panel including the presidents of the National Association of Physicians and the Independent National Human Rights Commission discussed decriminalising abortion. Panellists highlighted the <a href="https://www.lexpressmada.com/02/07/2018/sante-de-la-reproduction-le-droit-a-livg-securise-reclame/">weight of the church</a> in opposition and talked about unsafe abortion as a major <a href="http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20180701-madagascar-legalisation-avortement-fait-objet-debat">public health concern</a>. </p><h2>18. Polish feminists stop debate on yet another anti-abortion bill</h2><p dir="ltr">Also in July, Polish feminists managed to <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/poland-widespread-opposition-and-condemnation-again-stops-fundamentalist-politicians-from-punitive-law-reform/">prevent the latest repressive abortion bill.</a> It <a href="http://en.federa.org.pl/barbarian-anti-abortion-bill-back-in-the-game/">aimed to criminalise abortion in cases of fetal impairment</a>, which under the existing restrictive law make up 95% of legal abortions carried out in Polish hospitals. Women had protested against the proposed bill throughout the year. </p><h2>19. South Korean doctors demand legal reform</h2><p dir="ltr">In August, the Health Ministry issued regulations which would have enabled authorities to suspend licenses of doctors providing abortions. In protest, nearly 2,500 members of the Korean College of Obstetrics &amp; Gynaecology went on strike. The ministry rescinded the order, but the doctors have demanded a more fundamental solution.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/28.1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>July rally against abortion restrictions in Seoul. Photo: Na Young.</span></span></span></p><h2>20. The Isle of Man successfully reforms their abortion law</h2><p dir="ltr">On 6 July, the legislative council <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/isle-of-man-legislative-council-has-approved-the-abortion-reform-bill-hooray/">approved their abortion reform bill in full</a>. One council member, a bishop, proposed 71 amendments (which <a href="http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=41616&amp;headline=Dignity%20clause%20incorporated%20into%20Abortion%20Reform%20Bill&amp;sectionIs=news&amp;searchyear=2018">all failed</a>). Now abortion <a href="http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=41616&amp;headline=Dignity%20clause%20incorporated%20into%20Abortion%20Reform%20Bill&amp;sectionIs=news&amp;searchyear=2018">is permitted</a> on request up to 14 weeks and in some circumstances up to 24 weeks.</p><h2>21. Amnesty International adopts a new policy on abortion</h2><p dir="ltr">A July members’ meeting in Poland <a href="https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/calls-mount-for-decriminalisation-of-abortion-15848749">called on states</a> not just to decriminalise but also to guarantee access to safe and legal abortion. In August, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.au/act-now/indonesia-raped-and-jailed/">Amnesty took up the case</a> of a 15-year-old girl locked up in Indonesia for having an abortion after being raped by her brother. She was released following international protests.</p><h2>22. Full text of draft bill to reform abortion law in Côte d’Ivoire is published</h2><p dir="ltr">In July, a news source <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/cote-divoire-ivoire-soir-net-publishes-an-exclusive-story-text-of-a-draft-bill-on-sexual-and-reproductive-health-including-abortion/">published the text of a draft bill</a> which would broaden the legal grounds for abortion, which is currently prohibited except to save the life of the woman. The draft bill would allow abortion, on the approval of at least three doctors, in cases of rape, incest, serious fetal malformations, and where the woman’s health is at risk.&nbsp;</p><h2>23. South Africa holds ‘unfinished business’ reproductive justice conference</h2><p dir="ltr">Rhodes University and partners hosted the Abortion &amp; Reproductive Justice III: Unfinished Business conference in Makhanda, South Africa, in July. It attracted significant positive media attention and brought together researchers, activists, policy makers, and healthcare professionals from 30 countries.</p><h2>24. Newly-elected Mexican government supports abortion law reform</h2><p dir="ltr">It was also announced in July that the new government-in-waiting of Andrés Manuel López Obrador <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/mexico-mexicos-new-government-seeks-abortion-on-request-up-to-12-weeks-across-the-country/">will seek to decriminalise abortion throughout Mexico</a>. The future Interior Minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, <a href="https://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/internacionales/469458-gobierno-lopez-obrador-despenalizar-aborto-mexico/">explained in a radio interview</a> that she supports abortion up to 12 weeks because women "should not be deprived of their freedom". </p><h2>25. More than 100 groups march for abortion rights in the Dominican Republic</h2><p dir="ltr">On 15 July, thousands of people participated in the "<a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/dominican-republic-march-against-the-criminalisation-of-abortion/">March for Life, Health and Dignity of Dominican Women</a>". They <a href="https://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/internacionales/469665-miles-dominicanos-manifiestan-despenalizar-aborto/">called for the decriminalisation of abortion</a> when the life of the woman is at risk, in cases of rape or incest, and when the fetus is not viable. Placards carried messages such as: “The rich abort, the poor die”.</p><h2>26. US survey shows strong voter support for constitutional right to abortion</h2><p dir="ltr">More than 75% of respondents to an online survey (from across the political spectrum) said that any new Supreme Court justice should uphold women’s right to abortion. The majority also said they believe that the right to abortion in the US is currently at risk.</p><h2>27. Brazil’s Supreme Court holds public hearing on criminalised abortion</h2><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://brasil.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,religiosos-discordantes-travam-embate-em-audiencia-sobre-aborto-no-stf,70002433985">public hearing</a> was in August held on the constitutionality of a 1940 law criminalising abortion. It <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/brazil-hearing-festival-in-pictures/">was convened</a> amid a case filed last year calling for decriminalisation of abortion on request in the first 12 weeks. The case <a href="http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/feature-supreme-court-of-brazil-to-hear-experts-on-decriminalization-of-abortion-on-3rd-and-6th-august-2018/">argues</a> that criminalisation violates women’s constitutional rights including those to life, dignity and equality.&nbsp;</p><h2>28. International abortion rights advocates gather in Lisbon, Portugal</h2><p dir="ltr">More than 100 participants from 58 countries met in September and discussed topics from medical abortion to decriminalisation campaigns at a three-day forum to “develop an advocacy agenda for abortion in the 21st century and make change happen.”</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Equality International politics women's movements women's human rights women's health gender feminism bodily autonomy young feminists Marge Berer Nandini Archer Thu, 27 Sep 2018 08:00:07 +0000 Nandini Archer and Marge Berer 119821 at https://www.opendemocracy.net US and Russian religious right unite against ‘invasion of radical liberalism’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/us-and-russian-religious-right-unite-against-radical-liberalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ rights activists, politicians, and religious leaders met in Moldova this month for the World Congress of Families.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180915_154649_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Moldovan President Igor Dodon, surrounded by speakers and dignitaries at this year&#039;s World Congress of Families. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180915_154649_1.jpg" alt="" title="Moldovan President Igor Dodon, surrounded by speakers and dignitaries at this year&#039;s World Congress of Families. " width="460" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Moldovan President Igor Dodon surrounded by speakers inside the Palace of the Republic.</span></span></span>Politicians and religious leaders met with die-hard anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights activists in the Moldovan capital of Chișinău for the <a href="http://worldcongress.md/en/home/">World Congress of Families</a> (WCF) this month. Organised by US activists, it was heavily attended by Russian politicians, including members of President Putin’s inner circle.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The US-based <a href="https://www.profam.org/">International Organization for the Family (IOF)</a> organised the event. It’s designated <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/world-congress-families">an anti-LGBT extremist hate group</a> by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This was their 12th annual congress, the third consecutive year held in eastern Europe, and the second <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost/global-anti-abortion-lgbt-rights">attended by 50.50</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">This year’s theme was “East and West coming together around the beauty of the family.” The event began with a high octane theatrical dance culminating in an incredibly well-behaved baby held in the air and bobbed across the stage.</p><p dir="ltr">White dancers in white dresses and bridal veils swayed in rhythm whilst a man and woman performed a duet about “love, your motherland and you,” accompanied by a live orchestra.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180914_094023.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Presidential troops guarded the entrance to the World Congress of Families. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180914_094023.jpg" alt="" title="Presidential troops guarded the entrance to the World Congress of Families. " width="460" height="356" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Presidential troops guarded the entrance to the World Congress of Families. </span></span></span>Moldova’s President Igor Dodon received the most applause of the opening ceremony when he suggested banning “propaganda festivals” that promote “sexual minorities” – how LGBT individuals were described throughout the event, though some speakers also used terms like “transgressions” and “perversions.” These festivals “should be restricted, or even outlawed,” he said.</p><p>Moldova is perhaps best-known internationally for its role in a number of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/the-global-laundromat-how-did-it-work-and-who-benefited">post-Soviet money-laundering scandals</a>, and Russian speakers and ideologues crowded the schedule. According to the SPLC, the WCF’s Russian representative Alexey Komov has “long networked with various extreme-right factions in Europe” and has brought the “Russian Orthodox oligarchs he is close to” into the WCF fold in recent years.</p><p>One such oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev, <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/84481538-1103-11e4-94f3-00144feabdc0">is thought to be a key funder </a>of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/moldova-to-host-world-congress-of-families-before-elections-01-23-2018">is rumoured to have footed some of the cost </a>of this year’s glitzy WCF. He runs Russia’s largest Orthodox charity, St Basil the Great.</p><p>Dodon’s wife’s foundation Din Suflet (‘From the Heart’) was the WCF’s official sponsor; its funding is “completely non transparent” according to Mihai Popsoi at the Washington DC-based <a href="https://jamestown.org/">Jamestown Foundation</a>.</p><p>“President Igor Dodon only acknowledged the Turkish and Chinese embassies as WCF sponsors, but Kremlin and Russian affiliated businesses are believed to provide the bulk of the funds,” said <a href="https://jamestown.org/program/is-moldova-moving-toward-russia-ahead-of-parliamentary-elections/">Popsoi</a>, noting that Dodon has made more than a dozen official trips to Russia since taking office but only one to an EU country (Hungary, where he attended last year’s WCF in Budapest).</p><p>Russian politician and member of Putin’s inner-circle <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/egor-mostovshikov/yelena-mizulina-creation-of-conservative">Elena Mizulina</a> was among several WCF delegates <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/20092c52-af91-11e3-a006-00144feab7de">sanctioned by the EU and US</a> amidst the Crimea crisis, and there was some head-jerking praise for Putin alongside repeated claims about the ‘natural family’ being the “backbone” of every society.</p><p>Mizulina is a bit of a WCF hero for introducing Russia’s anti-LGBT ‘propaganda’ laws that rights activists <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-lgbt-crime/lgbt-hate-crimes-double-in-russia-after-ban-on-gay-propaganda-idUSKBN1DL2FM">say led to a doubling of hate crimes</a> against LGBT individuals. She also sponsored a <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e523d036-e482-11e6-9645-c9357a75844a">law to decriminalise ‘moderate’ domestic violence</a>, arguing that previous legislation was “interfering with families”.</p><p>Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze struck a surreal note at the event when he called for action to defeat the “aggressive invasion of radical liberalism,” including de-urbanisation so that men and women can escape “their tiny apartments, the cages of concrete” that apparently erode their “natural” roles.</p><p>“We need to go back to the beauty of our lands in order to repopulate”, Vasadze said. “If we want to save the culture of a place, we need to start wanting more children, and this is not possible in the city.”</p><p>He ended his rousing speech on what emerged as a clear theme of the conference: a call for political action. In his case, he advocated for nothing less than “to enshrine the rights of the family in every constitution.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There was some head-jerking praise for Putin alongside repeated claims about the ‘natural family’ being the backbone of every society.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://worldcongress.md/en/about-the-congress/">Organisers claimed there were 2,000 attendees</a> from 50 countries but a count of seats in the opulent Palace of the Republic, where opening and closing ceremonies took place, suggested only hundreds attended. Plenary sessions had even smaller audiences, with several scheduled speakers also absent.</p><p dir="ltr">Panel sessions focused on how to roll back women’s reproductive rights; fight efforts for comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for young people; defeat ”gender ideology”; achieve success in political campaigns; and how to use social and online media to recruit and radicalise new audiences who can “stand for the natural family.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180915_141906_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Dimitry Smirnov, a representative of Russian Orthodox Patriarch, addressing delegates."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180915_141906_0.jpg" alt="" title="Dimitry Smirnov, a representative of Russian Orthodox Patriarch, addressing delegates." width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dimitry Smirnov, a representative of Russian Orthodox Patriarch, addressing delegates.</span></span></span>Attendees’ idea of the ‘natural family’ was summed up by Dimitry Smirnov, a representative of Russian Orthodox Patriarch.</p><p>“There must be a husband who is intelligent, hardworking, a teacher for his children, a wife that he carries in his arms, which helps him to nurture children,” he told <a href="http://www.zdg.md/ru/?p=21172">Russian website Zairul de garda</a>, promoting “as many [children] as God will give” and calling LGBT people “demonic” and “enemies of God”.</p><p>Sharing a stage with Smirnov was Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state and most senior official after the pope.&nbsp;</p><p>Other speakers this year demonstrated how the<a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/09/12/anti-lgbt-hate-group-world-congress-families-gather-moldova-week-reveals-details-last"> event is “slipping ever more to the far right”</a> according to the SPLC, which has followed the WCF for years.</p><p dir="ltr">“Ideology is political – it is not cultural. We have to recognise that it's not about culture, it's about power – it's about political power, it’s not about equality and it’s not about freedom, it’s power”, said Stephen Baskerville to delegates at a panel session on 'gender ideology'.</p><p dir="ltr">Baskerville is a professor at Patrick Henry College in the US, also <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2013/11/01/white-nationalist-academics-gather-weekend-hl-mencken-club-annual-meeting">previously addressed</a> the white nationalist Mencken Club along with white supremacist and Donald Trump cheerleader Richard Spencer.</p><p>Also on this panel was Benjamin Harris-Quinney, president of the UK’s oldest conservative think tank the Bow Group, <a href="https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/tory-think-tank-invites-anti-black-traditional-britain-group-anniversary-dinner-1610411">which made headlines last year</a> for offering discounted tickets to their events to members of Traditional Britain Group – which called for the repatriation of black people to their “natural homelands”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Ideology is political, it is not cultural. We have to recognise that it's not about culture, it's about political power. It's not about equality and it's not about freedom. It's about power.</p><p dir="ltr">During plenary sessions, speakers shared terrifying stories of success in their fights against sexual and reproductive rights. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Malawian MP Justin Majawa talked about standing “against the new phenomena of the moral decay and new behaviours that we see in the world today” and boasted that his party has “protected” the country against same-sex marriage (which is illegal in Malawi) against pressure from “bilateral [aid] donors”.</p><p>Croatian Zeljka Markic discussed successes she has had at the helm of ‘citizen organisation’ In the Name of the Family. These included banning CSE that taught “alternative lifestyles” of ‘sexual minorities’ in schools, in 2012, and organising a referendum to declare marriage as a union between a man and a woman in 2013.</p><p>“The state wants to use education to impose ideology”, she told delegates. “They try to impose new ideas through the education system. And I think in former communist eastern European countries, we recognise this problem faster than in some western countries because we had this experience that in school they teach you lies.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180914_104833.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Brian Brown, President of the International Organisation for the Family (IOF), speaking at the World Congress of Families."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564081/20180914_104833.jpg" alt="" title="Brian Brown, President of the International Organisation for the Family (IOF), speaking at the World Congress of Families." width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brian Brown, President of the International Organisation for the Family (IOF), speaking at the World Congress of Families.</span></span></span>Mexican politician Rodrigo Ivan Cortez spoke of ordinary people “rising up” against “attacks of degeneracy that try to impose its agenda in a global way”. Political rallies for the family are “a very important new reality that we have to see. Because it’s not only Mexico; it’s Costa Rica, it’s Panama, it’s Paraguay, it’s Colombia,” he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Back in Europe, Slovakian MEP Anna Zaborska, who previously described <a href="http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ZaborskaRevisionJan23.pdf">AIDS as “God’s vengeance for homosexuality”</a> spoke in the closing ceremony on the existential threat “the demographic change” in family life poses to the “basic principles and values that enable the construction of the welfare state.”</p><p>Brian Brown, the new president of the IOF, ended the festivities with a call for friendship as much as a call to arms, heaping more gushing praise on the Moldovan president and Russia in particular.</p><p>“Over 20 years ago, our founder Dr. Allan Carlson was in Moscow and the whole idea of the World Congress of Families occurred to him and I feel like this conference and other conferences are bringing us back to our roots”, he said.</p><p>“Back at the end of the Cold War, I think many folks in the United States would have said: “I don’t think I’m ever going to be traveling to eastern Europe and Russia and making new friends who believe the same thing that I do about family.” But the world has changed,” he said. “In so many ways we’re similar.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost/global-anti-abortion-lgbt-rights">&quot;This is a war&quot;: Inside the global &quot;pro-family&quot; movement against abortion and LGBT rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost/re-branding-hate-family-friendly">Re-branding hate?: ultra-conservative organising under a &quot;family-friendly&quot; banner</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"> Moldova </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"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Moldova Civil society International politics Tracking the backlash bodily autonomy Lara Whyte Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:03:33 +0000 Lara Whyte 119803 at https://www.opendemocracy.net These women are demanding their rights from inside Rome’s occupied buildings https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claudia-torrisi/women-demand-rights-rome-occupied-buildings <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Precarious labour and housing conditions have pushed many to squat Rome’s empty buildings, living in fear of eviction and homelessness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Viale delle Province. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT1.png" alt="Viale delle Province. " title="Viale delle Province. " width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Viale delle Province. Photo: Claudia Torrisi.</span></span></span>“Look at this one. This is me when I was young. Wasn’t I beautiful?” Naima, a 60-year-old woman from Tunisia, points at a portrait hung on the wall of her two-room apartment – a small space with cooker, table and sofa, and a bedroom – inside one of the biggest housing occupations in Rome, on the street Viale delle Province.</p><p dir="ltr">Since arriving in Rome 35 years ago, Naima has lived in this neighborhood. “I stayed in an apartment right there,” she says, pointing to the other side of the street from the window of the occupied building, where she has lived for the last five years.</p><p dir="ltr">This building was once used as offices for the National Institute of Social Security, but was abandoned for years. On 6 December 2012, it was occupied by a group called Blocchi Precari Metropolitani (BPM) who fight for the right to housing. That same day – labelled “Tsunami Tour” by activists – eight<a href="http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2012/12/07/studenti-movimenti-occupano-otto-edifici.html?ref=search"> buildings were occupied </a>around the city.</p><p dir="ltr">In just a few months, the buildings became home to people from all over the world: Italians, eastern Europeans, Africans, Latin Americans. Now, around 130 families live in the Viale delle Province occupation, including 60 children – and women are leading the fight for their right to housing. </p><p dir="ltr">“My husband and I had a small restaurant near the train station. We had a house and we paid rent. I did not have to worry about where I would sleep at night,” Naima tells me. But things changed: her husband died, she had to close the restaurant and started to work as a carer and domestic worker.</p><p dir="ltr">“I passed from one old woman to another,” she recalls. The physically demanding work caused a painful shoulder injury. “So when one old lady for whom I worked died, I didn’t find another job. And I didn’t find a place to live either.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside Viale delle Province."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT2.png" alt="" title="Inside Viale delle Province." width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inside Viale delle Province. Photo: Claudia Torrisi.</span></span></span>Naima first noticed the Viale delle Province occupation on a walk around the neighbourhood. “The people inside answered that it was possible to live here. I entered the building and they gave me a room,” Naima tells me.</p><p dir="ltr">“Living together with all our differences is not always easy, but we try. We use Italian as a common language,” she explains.</p><p dir="ltr">In the first weeks of the occupation, each family shared a room, with one or two bathrooms for each floor. After six months of collective work, each family was assigned an apartment, and the abandoned building began to look more like a house.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“This is a community that arises from a primary need: the need of a home.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“This is a community that arises from a primary need: the need of a home,” Umberto, an Italian activist from BPM who lives inside the Viale delle Province building, tells me. “We fight to regain possession of something that has been taken from us. There are thousands and thousands families who are not able to afford a home.”</p><p dir="ltr">Housing problems are not new in Italy, but the situation was worsened by the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, says Umberto. </p><p dir="ltr">“New subjects started to live in the occupation: Italian families who once were able to pay rents and a whole class of immigrants who had lived and worked in Italy for 20-30 years, who could afford a house, but from 2008 saw their situation worsen considerably.”</p><p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://www.nomisma.it/images/NEWS/Presentazione_per_il_sito_NOMISMA_Federcasa.pdf">research</a> by the Italian Federation for Social Housing, 1.7 million Italian families have difficulties paying rent. The Ministry of Internal Affairs <a href="http://ucs.interno.gov.it/ucs/download.php?f=Spages&amp;s=download.php&amp;id_sito=1263&amp;file=L0ZJTEVTL2RvY3MvMTI2My9TZnJhdHRpIEFubm8gMjAxNy54bHM=&amp;&amp;coming=Z2VuZXJhbGkvRG9jdW1lbnRpX3NjYX">recently released</a> data on evictions, which totalled almost 60,000 in 2017.</p><p dir="ltr">In Rome, there are now 7,000 evictions a year, involving 3,500 families. This means that 15 families are evicted from their homes every day, <a href="https://ilmanifesto.it/in-viaggio-nelle-occupazioni-la-lotta-per-la-casa-rigenera-roma/">explains</a> Massimo Pasquini, national secretary of the Tenants’ Union.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr"> “In Rome, 15 families are evicted from their homes every day.”</p><p dir="ltr">Four years ago, Alessandra was evicted from her house. She migrated from Ukraine 20 years ago and tells me: “I worked in a bakery workshop, but then they stopped paying me. All of a sudden I had no money to pay my rent.” </p><p>A friend told her about social movements for housing. “I decided to join the fight. And now I live here in the Viale delle Province occupation. And so do my sons and my grandsons. I share my apartment with my cat,” she adds, cuddling the animal. She shows me her apartment: “This place was a hole with rubble and dust. I worked a lot to make it decent.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Alessandra with her cat inside Viale delle Province. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/CT3.png" alt="" title="Alessandra with her cat inside Viale delle Province. " width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alessandra with her cat inside Viale delle Province. Photo: Claudia Torrisi. </span></span></span>Mercedes was here the day the building was occupied. “I remember that we immediately organised patrol shifts, every four hours,” she says, taking turns to watch for police. She had moved to Italy from Ecuador with her family 16 years ago. </p><p dir="ltr">“We lived in a small house outside the city. But then my husband lost his job and he couldn’t find another one, so I was the only one working in the family. We had two daughters and €500 of rent [to pay],” she recalls. </p><p>Mercedes also heard about housing movements and talked to her husband about occupying a building: “He didn’t want to do it. But I was sure this was our only chance to survive. On 6 December 2012, I simply told him: we have to take a king size mattress at this address if we want to sleep all together. And so we did it.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr"> “Women’s role is crucial in the fight for the right to housing. They are always on the front line.”</p><p dir="ltr">Umberto from BPM defines himself as “a long-time militant,” who “enjoyed many fights and movements” in his life, but he admits that “women’s role is crucial in the fight for the right to housing. They are always on the front line.”</p><p dir="ltr">Living in an occupied building means living with the constant fear of eviction.</p><p dir="ltr">Maria, a refugee from Eritrea, lives alone in a tidy room full of heart-shaped pillows. She’s afraid the police will throw her out. Alessandra reassures her, but admits: “This day will come. These are bad days for us.”</p><p dir="ltr">New Italian government policies are bad news for these women. In an <a href="http://www.interno.gov.it/sites/default/files/circolare_2018_0059445.pdf">official document</a> released on 1 September 2018, the interior ministry said occupied buildings across the country must be cleared as soon as possible, without offering alternative housing solutions.</p><p dir="ltr">Three days later, the police <a href="https://milano.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/09/04/news/sesto_san_giovanni_sgombero_aldo_dice-205574550/">evicted</a> a building in Sesto San Giovanni (near Milan), the former headquarters of Alitalia (Italian national airline), occupied by 200 people.</p><p dir="ltr">A few days later, the same scene was repeated in the suburbs of Rome. “They came in at eight in the morning, crashing the doors and not giving us even the time to take our things,” <a href="https://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/09/07/news/roma_al_via_lo_sgombero_del_palazzo_di_via_costi-205802218/">said </a>one of the people evicted from an occupation where he had lived for five years.</p><p dir="ltr">He said that authorities had “offered accommodation only to women and children, but we don’t want to be separated. We’d prefer to live in the streets, but together. They treat us like dogs, but we are people.”</p><p dir="ltr">Umberto confirms that this is the modus operandi of evictions: “They say they’ll find accommodation for fragile people, like pregnant women, old people, children or those who are ill. But this is usually a temporary solution. After a few months they are in the same situation.”</p><p dir="ltr">“The thought of a possible eviction is always with us,” Mercedes admits. “We don’t sleep well, we [also] have patrolling shifts at four or five AM. We need to be careful.”</p><p dir="ltr">Naima is afraid every time she hears the sound of a helicopter above her head. “Of course I think about the eviction, and I hope it will not happen”, she tells me. “But you know what? I am ready. I will chain myself to public buildings to have a roof over my head. I have nothing to lose: I am 60-years-old and I am ready to fight.”</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/brittney-ferreira/10-years-of-womens-resistance-to-austerity-across-europe-in-pictures">10 years of women&#039;s resistance to austerity across Europe – in pictures</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"> Italy </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 class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Italy Economics Equality International politics Women's rights and economic justice gendered poverty gender young feminists Claudia Torrisi Mon, 24 Sep 2018 07:01:00 +0000 Claudia Torrisi 119722 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Will the new crimes against humanity treaty protect women and LGBTI persons? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-davis/will-new-crimes-against-humanity-treaty-protect-women-and-lgbti-persons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It’s time for the international community to take a stand. A new treaty could affect people’s rights for generations to come.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LD1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Photo courtesy of Groundswell."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LD1.png" alt="lead " title="Photo courtesy of Groundswell." width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo courtesy of Groundswell.</span></span></span>If you haven’t heard about the <a href="https://www.madre.org/international-crimes-against-humanity-treaty">new treaty on crimes against humanity</a> that the United Nations has in the works, you’re not alone. Most haven't.</p><p dir="ltr">What you should know is that if this treaty goes forward for adoption in its current draft form, only some – not all – people will be protected from crimes against humanity like massacres, rape, torture and persecution. This is because the treaty adopts an outdated definition of gender that some states will inevitably use to shirk their responsibility for addressing gender-based crimes.</p><p dir="ltr">We need this treaty, first of all, because it could help bring such atrocities to light and perpetrators to justice. The only permanent court in existence for prosecuting such crimes, the International Criminal Court (ICC), doesn’t have a mechanism for interstate cooperation, and few states have crimes against humanity incorporated into their domestic legislation.</p><p dir="ltr">The problem is that the draft treaty adopts the definition of gender from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, stating: “it is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society.”</p><p>On its own, the definition does not make clear who is protected. While it’s understood to be inclusive of all gendered crimes that meet the threshold of persecution, there has never been a successful prosecution at the ICC. Not surprisingly, no other mechanism has adopted this opaque definition.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">If this treaty goes forward for adoption in its current draft form, only some – not all – people will be protected from crimes against humanity like massacres, rape, torture and persecution.</p><p dir="ltr">To understand how this definition of gender came about we have to go back about 20 years. During the 1990s, women’s rights advocates rallied for the term “gender” instead of “sex” to be listed alongside race, ethnicity, religion and other protected groups from persecution. A small, socially conservative opposition objected, fearing the term “gender” would more broadly affirm LGBTI rights as human rights. They also wanted to limit the scope of women’s rights.</p><p dir="ltr">Since then, two decades of international human rights law have solidified the definition of gender as a social construct across UN agencies and human rights mechanisms. The term sex is left for biologists. However, while the Rome Statute’s definition of the term <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3184815">gender is understood by legal scholars and the ICC prosecutor’s office to be inclusive</a>, there are states that would take advantage of its opacity to ignore conflict-related gender-based crimes.</p><p dir="ltr">How does an outdated definition for a protected group get adopted into a new draft treaty on crimes against humanity?</p><p dir="ltr">While oodles of rights and protections were taken into consideration during dialogues on the draft treaty, none of the states and experts involved thought to discuss gender. Perusing the comments over the last four years of discussions and debates, not one mentions the outdated definition that was cut and pasted into the draft. While issues concerning everything from the rights of witnesses and victims to the cooperation between states were discussed in great detail, there’s no mention of women, LGBTI people, or even sexual violence.</p><p dir="ltr">At the start of the drafting process, a small handful of legal advocates did point to the definition and call on drafters to either not include it – as no other protected category required such a definition – or adopt a clearer definition.</p><p dir="ltr">Valerie Oosterveld, an international criminal&nbsp;law professor, raised concerns about the problematic nature of adopting a definition into the treaty&nbsp;that was deliberately ambiguous (possessing “constructive ambiguity,” in diplomatic parlance) in order to resolve polarised positions during negotiations. Considering that she’s one of the foremost experts on the issue of gender under international criminal law, it’s astonishing that her ideas were dismissed.</p><p>Part of the problem stemmed from the fear that the controversy surrounding the definition 20 years ago would resurface and tank the new treaty if the debate on gender were reopened. Some states and treaty drafters have expressed the need to get the treaty passed expeditiously and to keep the original language from the Rome Statute intact. But does a new treaty that codifies an outdated definition of gender serve the interests of justice?</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LD2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LD2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Photo courtesy of CUNY Law School.</span></span></span>Fighting for recognition of gender-based violence is not new. Sexual violence crimes were not taken as seriously as other crimes in the early years of international criminal tribunals. Feminists had to struggle tirelessly to secure the recognition of rape as a form of torture in certain contexts.</p><p dir="ltr">In the 1990s, the Human Rights and Gender&nbsp;Justice Clinic of CUNY Law School, (then the International Women’s Human Rights Initiative Clinic) served as the secretariat for the&nbsp;Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, a global coalition of women’s rights activists working to address gender gaps in the then-draft Rome Statute. As there was push-back against the term&nbsp;“gender”, there was also opposition to recognising sexual violence as a serious international crime.</p><p dir="ltr">A key component to their success was combining advocacy with legal strategy. Gender strategies in the tribunals grew from the notion that “women’s rights are human rights.” Today, advocates are calling for a “gender equal world.”</p><p dir="ltr">This is a pivotal moment in history to affirm our understanding of discrimination, including when based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.</p><p dir="ltr">What we do now will affect people’s rights for generations to come. It’s time for the international community to take a stand. A treaty meant to protect people against the worst atrocities imaginable by its nature should protect all of us. </p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 sexual identities gender Lisa Davis Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:49:37 +0000 Lisa Davis 119726 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We simply said ‘enough’: the story of Spain’s ‘Las Kellys’ hotel cleaners https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/las-kellys-hotel-cleaners-spain-fight-back <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From gruelling working conditions to more limited access to healthcare, austerity policies have hit women hardest. But they are fighting back.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS1.png" alt="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros." title="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros." width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>From eight to nine o’clock in the morning, she cleans the hotel’s common areas. Then, she’s assigned around 20 hotel rooms to clean in six and a half hours. If a client has finished their stay, she has to fully dress the room, which takes an hour. &nbsp;Often, she skips her lunch to be able to finish on time.</p><p dir="ltr">“A cleaner doesn’t know what it is to be paid for extra hours”, says Ana Nacher, who has worked as a cleaner for 17 years in Lanzarote (Canary Islands). Workers must finish cleaning their assigned rooms, however long it takes.</p><p dir="ltr">Working conditions worsened since the 2012&nbsp;<a href="https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2012/02/11/pdfs/BOE-A-2012-2076.pdf">labour market reform</a>, Nacher added. This reform reduced penalties on employers for unfairly dismissing workers, enabling companies to fire and reinstate them through temporary employment agencies (TEAs) on short-term contracts.</p><p dir="ltr">The reform also loosened requirements on companies to abide by rights and wages collectively agreed across the country, granting individual companies the ability to decide on pay and conditions unilaterally.</p><p dir="ltr">Nacher has been directly affected by these changes. Now, TEA contracts in Spain’s hotel industry may have a base salary of just €800 (£710) a month, she said, whereas previously hotels paid her according to the sector’s national collective bargaining agreement; about €1,300 (£1,150) a month.</p><p dir="ltr">Amid greater insecurity and higher workloads, 96% of maids in Spain suffer from anxiety according to a <a href="https://www.ccoo-servicios.es/archivos/hosteleria/Estudio-Camareras-Espana-AUITA-CCOO.pdf">2015 study</a> by the CCOO labour union.</p><p dir="ltr">But anxiety is not officially recognised as a work-related illness under Spanish law, meaning that workers suffering from this can't access benefits while on sick leave. Nacher said this means many won’t take time off when they need it.</p><p dir="ltr">“We keep on going with antidepressants and muscle relaxants. We can’t get sick,” she told me, sure that taking time off for being ill can also result in being fired or not hired again, because workers on temporary contracts are more easily replaceable. “Where you are, there can be another one,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Fed up with their situation, some hotel cleaners started to share their complaints with each other in a Facebook group in 2016, marking the beginning of <a href="https://laskellys.wordpress.com/">Las Kellys</a> – a national association of women hotel cleaners who are fighting to reclaim their rights. Today, this group is increasingly on the national stage.</p><p dir="ltr">In April, Las Kellys <a href="http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20180405/rajoy-se-reune-kellys-moncloa/1709382.shtml">met with Mariano Rajoy</a>, the previous president of Spain; this month they expect to meet with Pedro Sánchez, the current president.</p><p dir="ltr">They've succeeded in obtaining official recognition of work-related hand and arm conditions, though they continue to fight for this recognition to be extended to also cover anxiety, back and spine injuries, and other health impacts of their jobs.</p><p dir="ltr">Now, Spain’s parliament is expected to <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/tenerifeahora/economia/Estatuto-Trabajadores-proteccion-Kellys-septiembre_0_805269749.html">change the workers’ statute </a>to require that TEAs apply collective bargaining agreements to wages and conditions. This change will be thanks to Las Kellys, but it will affect all workers.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS2.png" alt="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. " title="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. " width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. Photo: Ana Nacher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The so-called ‘Kelly law’ compiles the group’s demands, including regulating their workloads; banning the outsourcing of their jobs via TEAs; an earlier retirement age due to physical exhaustion; and official recognition of all their work-related illnesses.</p><p dir="ltr">Myriam Barros, president of Las Kellys, was part of the first Facebook group. When they decided to highlight working conditions inside hotels, she said “it didn’t sit well” with managers, major labour unions and some right-wing parties.</p><p dir="ltr">“We were only seeking dignity as professionals,” she added. “These [TEA] companies exist to steal from us, not only money, but also fundamental rights. We were simply women that said ‘Enough!’.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">These companies steal from us, not only money, but also fundamental rights. We were simply women that said ‘Enough!’</p><p dir="ltr">Over the past two years, Las Kellys have met with political parties and labour inspectors and have <a href="http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/europa/kellys-piden-ayuda-parlamento-europeo/4345369/">reported their working conditions to the EU Petitions Commission</a>, where EU groups can report rights violations by member states.</p><p dir="ltr">At Christmas in 2016, they sent coal to the hotels they considered to have the worst working conditions, following the tradition of giving coal to poorly behaved children.</p><p dir="ltr">What’s happened to the labour conditions of hotel cleaners like Nacher is an example of wider precariousness for workers in Spain since the 2008 global financial crisis, said <a href="http://singenerodedudas.com/quien/" target="_blank">Carmen Castro</a>, economist and co-founder of the Gender, Economy, Politics &amp; Development Observatory (<a href="http://genderobservatory.com/">GEP&amp;DO</a>).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">According to her analysis, Spain’s 2012 labour market reform has devalued salaries and encouraged companies to break up work into more short-term and part-time contracts. Women have been hit hardest by these changes; as in 2008, in 2018 they comprise the majority <a href="https://www.ine.es/jaxi/Datos.htm?path=/t22/p133/cno11/serie/l0/&amp;file=01004.px">of those with low salaries</a> and <a href="http://www.ine.es/jaxiT3/Datos.htm?t=4181">part-time contracts</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Spain’s 2011 <a href="https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2011/08/02/pdfs/BOE-A-2011-13242.pdf">pensions reform</a> also increased the minimum number of hours that individuals must work in order to receive a public contributory pension, which is more difficult for women to reach, given that they are more likely to have part-time contracts – and when they do, they receive a lower pension.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Spain’s largest unions, <a href="http://www.ccoo.es/noticia:271271--Informe_La_brecha_de_genero_en_el_sistema_de_proteccion_social_desempleo_y_pensiones_">CCOO</a> and <a href="http://www.ugt.es/las-discriminaciones-laborales-de-la-mujer-penalizan-aun-mas-en-la-vejez">UGT</a>, the gap between the amount of money that men and women pensioners receive is now 37%. Ten years ago, that figure was very similar, at 40%. It hasn’t grown, but it hasn’t improved much either.</p><p dir="ltr">Austerity-driven budget cuts have also hit the 2006 <a href="https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2006-21990">law of personal autonomy</a>. This was a “pioneering law,” said Castro, “because it considered caring as a right that must be provided by the state.” It called for the development of a public service of carers, and said that those caring for relatives should also receive public pensions.</p><p dir="ltr">Official data shows that <a href="http://www.dependencia.imserso.gob.es/InterPresent2/groups/imserso/documents/binario/im_062035.pdf">89%</a> of unpaid carers in Spain are women. Without the required budget for the public services proposed in the 2006 law, caring remains their responsibility – and they won’t receive public pensions for it.</p><p dir="ltr">Laura Martínez, an Argentinian woman who has lived in Spain for 15 years, has also been affected by public service cuts. Before 2012, immigrants like Martínez could access the public health system if they were officially resident in Spain.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2012-5403">2012 royal decree</a> denied primary care services to any adult who wasn’t registered as a worker in the National Social Assurance Institute (INSS). Those not registered can only be treated for free for emergency care.</p><p dir="ltr">Up to 68% of those excluded from public health services, as a result, are immigrants not legally resident in Spain (with almost two-thirds of them women), according to a <a href="https://www.medicosdelmundo.org/actualidad-y-publicaciones/publicaciones/informe-reder-radiografia-de-la-reforma-sanitaria-la">2015 report</a> from the REDER civil society coalition.</p><p dir="ltr">Martínez’s mother moved to Spain after the 2012 law was passed. She suffers a heart illness that requires regular examination, but says she has been denied the health service card needed to access primary care.</p><p dir="ltr">Martínez met others in the same situation as her mother through the campaign group <a href="http://yosisanidaduniversal.net/portada.php">Yo Sí, Sanidad Universal (YSSU)</a> – ‘Yes, Universal Healthcare’. When the 2012 reform was passed, YSSU campaigned to inform health centre staff of other ways in which they could legally provide healthcare to all patients.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, the region of <a href="https://elpais.com/ccaa/2017/01/18/madrid/1484768710_153582.html">Madrid</a> passed its own reform to provide healthcare to all those living there, with or without legal papers. This is a temporary and local solution, however; a person can still be denied care if they move from the region, for instance.</p><p>In July 2018, the government passed a <a href="https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2018-10752">new royal decree</a> that promises to restore universal healthcare. But Marta Pérez, from YSSU, says it doesn’t specify how to do this, so regions aren’t required to change their current systems.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS3.png" alt="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid." title="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid." width="460" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid. Photo: Marta Pérez. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The past decade of cuts and reforms in Spain reflects “a neoliberal turn of public policies” according to Castro, the feminist economist.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the government has used the excuse of saving money to send a message: equality is dispensable. It even <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2010/10/20/actualidad/1287562624_850215.html">eliminated the equality ministry</a> in 2010 that managed just 0.03% of the state budget. “Was that actually for economic reasons?” she asks. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">The past ten years of cuts and reforms in Spain reveals “a neoliberal turn of public policies.”</p><p>Against austerity policies which prioritise reducing public debt, Castro proposes feminist economic measures to guarantee “public services that look after people and ecosystems.” For instance, she says that equal, non-transferable and fully-paid parental leave “increases men’s participation in caring tasks.”</p><p dir="ltr">Society is on the verge of a profound change, says Castro, and so we must ask ourselves what our goals are. “Do we have the courage to move to a socioeconomic system that supports the sustainability of life,” she asks, “or are we, instead, going to reinforce even more neoliberal belligerence?” </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/brittney-ferreira/10-years-of-womens-resistance-to-austerity-across-europe-in-pictures">10 years of women&#039;s resistance to austerity across Europe – in pictures</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"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? Spain Economics Equality International politics Women's rights and economic justice women's movements gender women's work young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Tue, 18 Sep 2018 07:27:45 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119686 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Double discrimination: why Uzbek women in Kyrgyzstan are a minority within a minority https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/zhyldyz-frank/double-discrimination-in-kyrgyzstan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the aftermath of Kyrgyzstan's 2010 revolution, the country's Uzbek minority population has seen their position worsen — and Uzbek women have been marginalised most of all.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/1 (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Aravan village, Osh region, 2010. (c) Elyor Nematov. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Echoes of the 2010 conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks continue to be heard in the Osh region in southern Kyrgyzstan. The four days of clashes between the two communities <a href="http://www.osce-academy.net/upload/file/Policy_Brief_15.pdf">left hundreds dead and thousands injured</a>, and came on the heels of the violent change of government in the country in April 2010. Today, it is clear these events have strengthened nationalism and re-traditionalisation among the Kyrgyz people. In turn, this process has worsened the conditions of ethnic minority groups in Kyrgyzstan, especially for the country’s sizable Uzbek population.</p><p dir="ltr">This trend also affected gender issues among the Uzbek community. Kyrgyzstan <a href="http://hdr.undp.org/en/indicators/68606">ranks 120 out of 188 countries</a> in the world in UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (GII), just after South Africa and before Iraq. Albeit slowly, the struggle for gender equality has progressed in the country thanks to the efforts of a number of open-minded feminists among Kyrgyz women. Uzbek women, however, lag behind.</p><p dir="ltr">The disparity in experiences between Kyrgyz and Uzbek women can be observed just strolling through the streets of the southern city of Osh, where both ethnic groups live side by side but rarely integrate – a state of affairs that has only been exacerbated by the 2010 conflict. Compared to young Uzbek women, young Kyrgyz women even appear more emancipated. In the morning, they can be seen going to work or university wearing the latest fashion. By contrast, young Uzbek women often appear in public dressed as kelin (young wives) and accompanied by their husband or mother-in-law, with a look of resignation to their second-class condition.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“In 2010, Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan felt that they were not treated as true citizens of Kyrgyzstan. They felt that they were foreigners in their own homeland, so they became more religious, more traditional”</p><p dir="ltr">“Why should one pursue higher education or a career, if after graduating we Uzbek women have few prospects for employment?,” Nafisa, a 16-year-old Uzbek girl from Osh, told me. “Instead, I will try to master some kind of craft to make a living and, hopefully, marry a good person who will support me financially.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/IMG_5428.JPG__0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/IMG_5428.JPG__0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“Announcement: I am 25 years old and there is a 50% discount on me.” Photo courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A study conducted by the <a href="http://kg.one.un.org/content/dam/unct/kyrgyzstan/docs/Library/Youth%20Research_Final%20Report_ENG_26June2017.pdf">UN Women Country Office in the Kyrgyz Republic</a> on professional and marriage choices by Kyrgyzstan’s youth captures this disparity well. Compared to young Kyrgyz women, who pursue higher education and are career-oriented, many young Uzbek women tend not to negotiate their educational, professional and marriage choices with their parents, husbands, and in-laws. </p><p dir="ltr">This culture of obedience and subordination curtails their potential for educational and professional development, because of the preponderant influence of conservative and patriarchal principles among Uzbeks, according to which a woman needs to sit at home and early (and even forced) marriages are the norm.</p><p dir="ltr">On a hot Friday last July, the imam of the Al-Ansari mosque in one of Osh’s Uzbek neighbourhoods delivered a sermon that exemplifies this misogynistic discourse.</p><p dir="ltr">“You men are responsible for your wives, daughters, sisters, sister-in-laws, and mothers! You men should not be dayus (who let their wives go out, who “share” their women with others),” the imam said. “Do not let your wives wonder out and about! Do not let your wives go to cafes and restaurants, where they encounter other men, because they will look at your woman. Keep the women at home. If they need to go out, put their hijab on and accompany them,” he continued.</p><p dir="ltr">According to some people in attendance, this mindset is the result of the prevailing patriarchal culture and Saudi-inspired conservative interpretation of Islam which has gained currency among Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan. An increased focus on religion and traditions among Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbeks has significantly contributed to this misogynistic attitude. However, it is problematic to isolate Uzbek culture as the reason for gendered mistreatment, as it is very similar to Kyrgyz culture. Moreover, many Kyrgyz are also becoming more religious but, in spite of this, gender activism is growing among Kyrgyz women and even <a href="https://knews.kg/2017/03/30/muzhchiny-feministy-v-kyrgyzstane-malchikov-vospityvayut-seksistami/">male feminists</a>. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Strangers in their own land</h2><p dir="ltr">A crucial factor that contributes to limiting the space for gender consciousness and activism among Uzbek women is the growing marginalisation of the Uzbek population as a whole in Kyrgyzstan. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/georgina-rannard/in-osh-flames-have-died-down-but-not-discontent">Kyrgyzstan’s state-led discrimination</a> against Uzbeks, including the <a href="http://enews.fergananews.com/articles/3023">official policy to marginalise the Uzbek language</a> in favour of Kyrgyz, has worsened since the 2010 conflict, fostering gender inequality among Uzbeks in the country and severely damaging the Uzbek population’s trust in the state. Uzbeks now prefer to live in their own neighbourhoods, with little interaction with the majority Kyrgyz.</p><p dir="ltr">“In 2010, Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan felt that they were not treated as true citizens of Kyrgyzstan. They felt that they were foreigners in their own homeland, so they became more religious, more traditional. So, after the 2010 events, Uzbeks started relying on their traditions and Islam, which for them are the main sources of their identity,” Hurshida Rasohodjaeva, a rare Uzbek feminist from Osh, told me. “This trend in turn strengthened the existing patriarchal culture and reinforced traditional gender norms and values.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Gender could be a rallying point for women in Kyrgyzstan to act together for the common good, but ethnic identity has hindered the potential for solidarity, at least so far</p><p dir="ltr">Rasohodjaeva, 25, works for <a href="http://noviritm.org">Novi Ritm</a> (“New Rhythm”), an NGO where Nafisa also volunteers to promote a peaceful, democratic and equal Kyrgyzstan. Both girls are Russian speakers and do not consider themselves fluent in Uzbek. Yet the majority of Uzbeks are not fluent Russian or Kyrgyz speakers, which means they are excluded from alternative sources of information to religious and traditional literature, as this is not readily available in the Uzbek language.</p><p dir="ltr">Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan have suffered from limited access to information due to language restrictions fostered by Kyrgyz state policies. The number of high schools with Uzbek as the main language of instruction has drastically fallen since the 2010 conflict, and in 2014 the government <a href="https://24.kg/archive/en/bigtiraj/170455-news24.html/">abolished</a> university entry exams in Uzbek. This has discouraged students at Uzbek high schools from continuing their education, as they question the logic of studying in Uzbek for 11 years before taking a general university entry tests in Kyrgyz or Russian.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/IMG_5429.JPG_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/IMG_5429.JPG_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“Now the neighbors will not condemn.” Photo courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“All these developments happened too quick. Had there been a representative of the Uzbek population in Parliament, they could have publicly voiced that education is important to integrate the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks of Kyrgyzstan,” Novi Ritm project manager Guliza Abdyzhaparova told me. </p><p dir="ltr">“Sustainable development hinges on the fair representation of the needs and concerns of different people. Uzbeks, especially Uzbek women, are left out of development programmes. The combination of patriarchal culture, lack of information in the Uzbek language, and discrimination have led Uzbeks to turn inwards. Consequently, uniting Kyrgyz and Uzbek women through gender activism is becoming less feasible,” Abdyzhaparova concludes.</p><p dir="ltr">Civil society in Kyrgyzstan has not been immune from these trends. Relevant information on the importance of education, gender equality, female healthcare, early marriage and domestic violence are rarely available in Uzbek. In addition, the Uzbek population of Kyrgyzstan is often excluded from development projects, and is rarely encouraged to participate in awareness raising activities organised by international organisations and NGOs.</p><p dir="ltr">Kyrgyz women are slowly <a href="https://kloop.kg/blog/2016/03/07/feministki-bishkeka-nam-ne-nuzhny-tsvety-nam-nuzhny-prava/">organising to fight the injustices</a> society imposed on them, such as <a href="http://www.warscapes.com/reportage/my-sister-didnt-give-her-consent">bride kidnapping and forced marriages</a>. But this trend has not caught up among Uzbeks, where women-led activism lags behind. Kyrgyz and Uzbek women have proved unable to unite for female empowerment. Gender could be a rallying point for women in Kyrgyzstan to act together for the common good, but ethnic identity has hindered the potential for solidarity, at least so far.</p><p dir="ltr">As a minority, Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan are left outside development programmes initiated both by the government and civil society. This lack of support and inclusion encourages isolation and reinforces traditional ways of life. Both Uzbek men and women have seen their position worsen in Kyrgyzstan, but the latter face double discrimination: as ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan and as women within their own ethnic group. </p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/elnura-alkanova/kyrgyzstans-indispensable-women-are-undervalued%20">Kyrgyzstan’s indispensable women are undervalued </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ulugbek-babakulov/farewell-to-kyrgyzstans-island-of-democracy">Farewell to Kyrgyzstan’s “island of democracy”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/botagoz-seydakhmetova/fighting-patriarchy-in-kazakhstan">Fighting patriarchy in Kazakhstan: problems and perspectives</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia 50.50 oD Russia Zhyldyz Frank Rights for all Kyrgyzstan Mon, 17 Sep 2018 06:20:03 +0000 Zhyldyz Frank 119559 at https://www.opendemocracy.net En el Paraguay rural, las mujeres están al frente de una ‘carrera contrarreloj’ para conservar las semillas nativas https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-sanz-dominguez/paraguay-rural-mujeres-semillas-nativas <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">Ante la expansión de la agricultura industrial, los cultivos transgénicos y las patentes de semillas, las mujeres rurales están preservando las variedades nativas y enseñando sobre agroecología. <em><a style="font-weight: bold;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-sanz-dominguez/in-rural-paraguay-women-fight-to-preserve-indigenous-seeds">English</a>.</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/563303/_MG_2145.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/_MG_2145.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Native seeds preserved in rural Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>En Chacore, a unos 200 kilómetros al este de Asunción, la capital de Paraguay, Ceferina Guerrero (68) camina entre estantes de botellas de plástico y tambores de metal cuidadosamente etiquetados. Cada uno contiene una variedad de semilla nativa esencial para la dieta de las comunidades rurales.</p><p dir="ltr">Sus etiquetas enumeran los nombres de las semillas en guaraní, un idioma indígena y la segunda lengua oficial de Paraguay, junto con el español. Guerrero las presenta cariñosamente, como una madre lo haría con sus hijos: éste es un poroto, éste es maní, éste es maíz.</p><p dir="ltr">Conocida como Ña Cefe en su comunidad, Guerrero dice que su apellido le viene como anillo al dedo. Ella es una de las fundadoras de la Coordinadora &nbsp;Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas de Paraguay (<a href="https://www.conamuri.org.py/">Conamuri</a>).</p><p dir="ltr">Conamuri empezó como un pequeño grupo en los noventa. Hoy lo componen mujeres de más de 200 comunidades rurales en Paraguay. Además está conectado a otros aliados alrededor del mundo, al formar parte del movimiento internacional de campesinos <a href="https://viacampesina.org/es/">La Vía Campesina</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Aunque, asegura Guerrero, “no deberíamos olvidar nuestro primer objetivo”: recoger y conservar las semillas nativas en todo el país. Describe este trabajo como una carrera contrarreloj, y contra la expansión de la agricultura industrial a gran escala.</p><p dir="ltr">“Actualmente hemos perdido casi el 60% de las variedades nativas”, afirma. “Incluso tenemos comunidades en las que no se encuentra ninguna”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Actualmente hemos perdido casi el 60 % de las variedades nativas. Incluso tenemos comunidades &nbsp;en las que no se encuentra ninguna”.</p><p dir="ltr">Globalmente, entre el<a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/am307e/am307e00.pdf"> 60 y el 80% de los alimentos de la mayoría de los países en desarrollo, y la mitad de las provisiones de comida del mundo</a> son cultivadas por mujeres, según la Organización de la ONU para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO).</p><p dir="ltr">Por otra parte, el mundo <a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5609e/y5609e02.htm">ha perdido el 75%</a> de su diversidad en semillas durante el siglo XX. Ahora, únicamente nueve cultivos <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1136440/icode/">constituyen el 66% </a>de la producción agrícola mundial. Tan solo tres (trigo, arroz y maíz) comprenden casi la mitad de las calorías diarias que consume la población mundial.</p><p dir="ltr">Estas tendencias han alarmado a las ONG, las organizaciones rurales y las instituciones internacionales. Mantener la biodiversidad, <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1136440/icode/">insiste</a> la FAO, es “fundamental” para la seguridad alimentaria y la habilidad de adaptarse al crecimiento de la población y el cambio climático.</p><p>La pérdida de biodiversidad también tiene “impactos específicos” para las mujeres, quienes “tradicionalmente han sido las guardianas de un profundo conocimiento sobre las plantas, los animales y los procesos ecológicos”, agregó el <a href="http://www.ipes-food.org/images/Reports/UniformityToDiversity_FullReport.pdf">panel IPES de expertos internacionales en sistemas de alimentación sostenibles</a> en 2016.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/_MG_2136.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Guerrero holds corn seeds, in Chacore, Paraguay. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/_MG_2136.JPG" alt="Guerrero holds corn seeds, in Chacore, Paraguay. " title="Guerrero holds corn seeds, in Chacore, Paraguay. " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Guerrero holds corn seeds, in Chacore, Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>En Paraguay, solo el <a href="https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Paraguays-Campesinos-March-to-Demand-Right-to-Land-20170329-0041.html">5%</a> de la población posee el 90% de la tierra. La mayor parte de ella es utilizada por grandes agronegocios para cultivar solo un puñado de cultivos (incluyendo soja, trigo, arroz y maíz) en vastas plantaciones para la exportación internacional.</p><p dir="ltr">El año pasado, el país <a href="http://web.senave.gov.py:8081/docs/informes/ANUARIO%20ESTADISTICO%20SENAVE%202018.pdf">importó</a> casi 24,000 toneladas de semillas. La mayoría eran para estos cultivos de exportación. Menos del 1% eran para frutas o verduras, principalmente patatas. Incluso se importaron semillas de la fruta nacional de Paraguay: mburucuya (maracuyá).</p><p dir="ltr">Mientras tanto, <a href="http://www.senave.gov.py/docs/servicios/bioseguridad-agricola/2017/Listado%20de%20eventos%20de%20modificacion%20genetica%20liberados%20comercialmente%20en%20el%20pais.pdf">28</a> variedades de cultivos genéticamente modificados (principalmente variedades de soja, maíz y algodón) han sido aprobadas por el gobierno desde 2001, <a href="http://www.monsantoglobal.com/global/py/quienes-somos/Pages/historia-de-la-compania.aspx">cuando Monsanto comenzó</a> a producir en Paraguay su variedad de soja resistente al pesticida Roundup.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">En medio de la presión empresarial sobre la agricultura y la producción de alimentos, las mujeres que conservan variedades nativas, como Guerrero en Chacore, son “raras, como agujas en un pajar”, explica Inés Franceschelli, una investigadora de la ONG paraguaya <a href="https://henoi.org.py/">Heñoi</a> (“germinar”).</p><p>“Y si Paraguay es tan dependiente [de empresas extranjeras] para algo tan básico como la comida”, añade Franceschelli, “significa que este es un país subordinado”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Si Paraguay es tan dependiente [de empresas extranjeras] para algo tan básico como la comida, significa que este es un país subordinado”.</p><p dir="ltr">Tras una intensa campaña de megafusiones desde 2016, un pequeño grupo de solo <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/theguardian/alimentario-grandes-empresas-acaparen-semillas_0_564493892.html">tres supercorporaciones</a> (Bayer-Monsanto, DowDuPont y Chemchina-Syngenta) controlan ahora más de la mitad del mercado mundial de semillas.</p><p dir="ltr">Estos gigantes de semillas y agroquímicos también están activos en Paraguay, donde se les permitió <a href="http://www.senave.gov.py/docs/servicios/bioseguridad-agricola/2017/Listado%20de%20eventos%20de%20modificacion%20genetica%20liberados%20comercialmente%20en%20el%20pais.pdf">plantar</a> las variedades transgénicas de maíz, algodón y soja.</p><p dir="ltr">Guerrero me dijo que las semillas nativas crecen sin insecticidas, mientras que algunas semillas transgénicas pueden “producir una linda planta, con lindos frutos, pero si recoges las semillas y las plantas otra vez, no germinan. No podés reutilizar sus semillas y tenés que comprarlas cada vez”.</p><p dir="ltr">Lo que ella describió parece ser el efecto de una controvertida modificación genética que produce semillas estériles una vez que la planta ha dado sus frutos.</p><p dir="ltr">Llamadas a veces ‘semillas Terminator’, algunas ONG y organizaciones rurales advierten de que el uso de estas Tecnologías de Restricción de Uso Genético (GURT, en sus siglas en inglés) puede desplazar a las variedades nativas y amenazar la seguridad alimentaria local.</p><p dir="ltr">Paraguay también es un <a href="https://www.cbd.int/information/parties.shtml">signatario</a> de la Convención de la ONU sobre Diversidad Biológica, que en 2000 recomendó una moratoria de facto sobre las pruebas de campo y las ventas de estas semillas 'terminator'.</p><p dir="ltr">Se cree que las principales compañías de semillas del mundo tienen <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/12/brazil-gm-terminator-seed-technology-farmers">patentes</a> para tales tecnologías, aunque todas niegan estar utilizándolas.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/terminator-seeds-myth/">Monsanto</a>, por ejemplo, ha dicho que "nunca ha comercializado una característica biotecnológica que diera como resultado semillas estériles o Terminator” en los cultivos y afirma que no tiene “ningún plan o investigación que viole este compromiso”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/_MG_2139.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/_MG_2139.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="338" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ceferina Guerrero, in Chacore, Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>Actualmente, Paraguay también <a href="http://www2.mre.gov.py/index.php/noticias/el-canciller-nacional-recibio-en-audiencia-al-presidente-de-la-union-de-gremios-de-la-produccion?ccm_paging_p=91">está siendo presionado</a> para que adopte el polémico convenio sobre las semillas ‘UPOV 91’ como parte de un acuerdo de libre comercio que está siendo negociado entre la Unión Europea y el bloque comercial sudamericano Mercosur.</p><p dir="ltr">Las asociaciones campesinas temen que esto desate la persecución <a href="https://www.nodal.am/2018/02/12-razones-las-decimos-no-al-acuerdo-libre-comercio-mercosur-union-europea-alianza-biodiversidad/">judicial contra los campesinos por compartir o intercambiar sus semillas nativas </a>, ya que no podrán cumplir con los requisitos para registrar sus semillas bajo este convenio.</p><p dir="ltr">Durante la última década, Conamuri ha desarrollado sus propios proyectos de ley para proteger las semillas nativas y criollas (que no son autóctonas, sino que se han adaptado a las condiciones locales durante siglos). Estos proyectos fueron rechazados en 2012, poco después del proceso de <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-18553813">destitución del presidente Fernando Lugo </a>(quien se consideraba <a href="https://www.ultimahora.com/lugo-dice-que-monsanto-y-los-golpistas-son-los-sembradores-la-muerte-n562027.html">proclive a aceptarlas</a>).</p><p dir="ltr">“Entonces entendimos que el poder político era inestable, así que darle al gobierno control sobre nuestras semillas no era una garantía de protección de &nbsp;nuestra soberanía y seguridad alimentaria” explica Perla Álvarez, de Conamuri. “Las semillas tienen que estar en las manos de los y las campesinas”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción, 4 august_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción, 4 august_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'>Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>“Los y las campesinas conservan poder en su estilo de vida tradicional” cuenta Franceschelli, de la ONG paraguaya Heñoi, desde el poder de una nutrición saludable y una gestión sostenible de las tierras, hasta “vivir sin depender de las empresas”.</p><p dir="ltr">“La resistencia contra la estandarización y globalización se encuentra en las comunidades rurales e indígenas alrededor del mundo. Y esta resistencia es más fuerte en las mujeres”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr"> “La resistencia se encuentra en las comunidades rurales e indígenas alrededor del mundo. Y esta resistencia es más fuerte en las mujeres”.</p><p dir="ltr">En todo Paraguay, ante la expansión de la agricultura industrial, los cultivos transgénicos y las patentes de semillas, las campesinas como Guerrero lideran la lucha para salvar las variedades nativas antes de que sea demasiado tarde.</p><p dir="ltr">Están produciendo ‘abono verde’ que ayuda a las tierras de cultivo a recuperarse para la siguiente temporada, y enseñan a otros que la agricultura ecológica tiene en cuenta los ecosistemas naturales y promueve la siembra de diversos cultivos.</p><p dir="ltr">Cuidadosamente etiquetan los contenedores que almacenan las mismas variedades de maíz que sus abuelas cocinaban hace tiempo. También están redescubriendo y preservando semillas nativas que no han sido utilizadas en muchos años.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members 2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members 2_0.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'>Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>En Chacore, Semilla Róga ("la casa de las semillas") es un proyecto de &nbsp;Conamuri que recibe mensualmente a campesinos de todo Paraguay para intercambiar y aprender a preservar variedades de semillas nativas y criollas.</p><p dir="ltr">Aquí, Guerrero enseña técnicas sobre cómo cultivar alimentos sin pesticidas ni insecticidas. También tiene su propio almacén de semillas en casa, donde conserva más de 60 variedades de semillas que comparte con sus vecinos.</p><p dir="ltr">“Desde el comienzo de la agricultura”, explica, “las semillas nativas estuvieron asociadas a las mujeres, que fueron las primeras en recolectarlas, guardarlas y plantarlas”.</p><p dir="ltr">El proyecto Semilla Róga también tiene como objetivo preservar el conocimiento y las tradiciones de las comunidades que usan semillas nativas. “Cada variedad de maíz es adecuada para un tipo diferente de comida, y pertenece a un grupo de población diferente,” añade Perla Álvarez.</p><p dir="ltr">“Por ejemplo, indígenas como los avá y mbya guaraní utilizan maíz de colores para sus rituales, así que la planta también tiene un valor cultural”, explicó.</p><p dir="ltr">En Paraguay, las medicinas naturales derivadas de semillas no germinadas también son populares, y a menudo se usan como alternativas más baratas a los fármacos convencionales. (La semilla del cilantro, por ejemplo, se usa para aumentar las defensas naturales después de una enfermedad).</p><p dir="ltr">“Si perdemos el kuratu [cilantro], si perdemos el andai [una variedad local de calabaza], estamos perdiendo medicina, y estamos perdiendo también nuestra comida, una parte de nuestras tradiciones como campesinos, y una parte de nuestra cultura y nuestra identidad”, remarca Guerrero.</p><p dir="ltr">Mientras sujeta una gran mazorca de maíz nativo de color rojo, Guerrero explica que éste debe cosecharse cuando hay luna llena y la atmósfera es menos húmeda. Me enseña cómo tomar las pequeñas semillas en cada extremo para comer, y me explica que las que están en el centro, por el contrario, serán almacenadas para plantarlas en la siguiente temporada.</p><p dir="ltr">“Algunas personas me preguntan cuántos dólares me gasto al día. No entiendo esa pregunta, porque produzco lo que necesito, y por semanas no me gasto un dólar”, cuenta Guerrero. “Si tenés semillas en casa, nunca vas a pasar hambre”.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Este artículo forma parte de la serie sobre derechos de las mujeres y justicia económica de 50.50 y la Asociación para los Derechos de las Mujeres y el Desarrollo (AWID) que muestra historias sobre el impacto de las industrias extractivas y el poder corporativo, así como la importancia de la justicia fiscal sobre los derechos de las mujeres, transexuales y activistas disidentes del género.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Paraguay </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 DemocraciaAbierta Paraguay Women's rights and economic justice gender women's work Maria Sanz Dominguez Fri, 14 Sep 2018 13:08:36 +0000 Maria Sanz Dominguez 119614 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 10 years of women's resistance to austerity across Europe – in pictures https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/brittney-ferreira/10-years-of-womens-resistance-to-austerity-across-europe-in-pictures <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women across Europe have not been passive victims of austerity policies. From Paris, France to Nicosia, Cyprus, they have protested and organised for alternatives.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TopImg.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Woman protesting cuts in the UK, 2016."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/TopImg.png" alt="Woman protesting cuts in the UK, 2016." title="Woman protesting cuts in the UK, 2016." width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Woman protesting cuts in the UK, 2016. Photo: Ik Aldama/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It’s harder to ignore women’s mobilisations today, when smartphone cameras are ubiquitous and anyone can post images online. Even so, stories of women’s resistance remain underreported, and while impacts of austerity on women may sometimes make headlines, those affected are often portrayed as helpless.</p><p dir="ltr">They’re not; across Europe, women have mobilised against harmful austerity policies enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Here are 10 images that capture 10 years of women’s resistance.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.16118644.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.16118644.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em><strong>Nicosia, 23 March 2013</strong> - Confronted by mass bank closures, falling salaries and rising unemployment, women in Cyprus demonstrated in the country’s capital. The former offshore banking haven’s large financial sector and close financial ties with Athens left the country particularly vulnerable to economic collapse in the wake of the 2008 crash. The fallout included policies slashing social benefits, <a href="http://www.eif.gov.cy/mlsi/dl/genderequality.nsf/0/9D535C133413BC50C22579A70031224D/$file/CRISIS%20AND%20GENDER%20IN%20CYPRUS.pdf">with tremendous impacts on women</a>, particularly single mothers and domestic violence survivors.<em> (Photo: Florian Schuh/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.16758350.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.16758350.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Paris, 9 June 2013</strong> - By 2013, France had seen <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cs-true-cost-austerity-inequality-france-120913-en.pdf">several rounds</a> of austerity measures including cuts to public healthcare spending, public sector pay freezes and an increase in Value Added Tax on most goods and services, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/world/europe/french-austerity-measures-aimed-at-new-reality.html">including books and public transportation</a>. At a women’s march against austerity in Paris, women protested in the streets with signs saying “Austerity penalises women especially” and demanded rights for undocumented workers. <em>(Photo: Messyasz Nicolas/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-20154307.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-20154307.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Athens, 18 June 2014 </strong>- 595 women cleaners were dismissed after their jobs were outsourced by the Ministry of Finance, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-eu-29229555">a direct result</a> of job cuts ordered by the European Union after Greece’s near-bankruptcy. Adopting a rubber glove as a symbol of their resistance, with two fingers forming a V for ‘victory’, the women organised protests in Athens and demonstrated outside ministry offices. As their story gathered public support, 32 of the cleaners travelled to Strasbourg to lobby MEPs. Their jobs were <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-eu-29229555">reinstated</a> by the new Greek government.&nbsp;<em>(Photo: Georgiou Nikolas/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-21061416.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-21061416.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>London, 30 September 2014</strong> - In 2013, 29 single mothers formed the Focus E15 campaign after they were evicted from a Newham hostel and <a href="https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/focus-e15-mums-against-austerity-uk">deemed ‘intentionally homeless’</a> after refusing alternative accommodation far from their London-based communities. The next year, they <a href="https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/focus-e15-mums-against-austerity-uk">occupied</a> two vacant flats in Carpenters Estate. Outside, banners read: “These Homes Need People; These People Need Homes.” Developers eventually withdrew from the sale of the estate, which was then bought by an affordable housing charity.&nbsp;<em>(Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 16.00.59_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 16.00.59_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="321" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>London, 7 June 2016</strong> - Members of feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut protested in front of the UK’s Parliament, where an art installation paying homage to the women’s suffrage movement was on display. Protesting women’s deaths from domestic violence, the group chanted “Dead women can’t vote” and set off smoke flares in the suffragette colours purple and green. Amid UK austerity policies, several domestic violence refuges <a href="http://www.sistersuncut.org/2016/06/08/we-are-the-suffragettes-sisters-uncut-chain-themselves-to-parliament-at-government-art-launch/">have been forced to close</a>, with specialist support services for women of colour <a href="http://www.sistersuncut.org/2016/06/08/we-are-the-suffragettes-sisters-uncut-chain-themselves-to-parliament-at-government-art-launch/">disproportionately impacted</a> by funding cuts.&nbsp;<em><em>(Photo: Niku Gupta)</em>. </em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31833977.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31833977.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>London, 24 June 2017</strong> - Women rallied in front of Downing Street as leaders of the Conservative and DUP parties gathered inside. Many were dressed in red, a symbol of the blood of those who have died as a result of cuts to public spending – and tragedies like the Grenfell tower fire as well as opposition to, or restrictions on, women’s reproductive rights and LGBTIQ+ equality. <em>(Photo: Peter Marshall/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LasKellys.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/LasKellys.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em><strong>Madrid, 2 August 2017 </strong><em>-</em> In response to falling wages and increasing workloads, hotel cleaners in Spain have mobilised under the name ‘Las Kellys’ to protest the outsourcing of their jobs to agencies. The group’s most recent campaign, which aims to promote hotels with satisfactory employment practices and shame those without, puts pressure on leading travel site TripAdvisor to highlight hotels that receive the Las Kellys seal of approval. <em>(Photo: Diario de Madrid/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.32496613_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.32496613_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em><strong>Rome, 24 August 2017</strong> - Women occupied a small square in Rome, Italy, after they were forcefully evicted from a building in the centre of the city. The building had housed about<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/24/italian-police-water-cannon-refugees-rome-square"> 800 people</a>, most of whom were asylum seekers and refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The United Nations' refugee agency voiced “<a href="https://www.unhcr.it/news/aggiornamenti/roma-unhcr-esprime-preoccupazione-la-sorte-circa-800-rifugiati-richiedenti-asilo-sgomberati-via-indipendenza.html">deep concern</a>” as hundreds were left sleeping on the street. An associate director from the NGO Human Rights Watch <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/24/italian-police-water-cannon-refugees-rome-square">urged </a>authorities to provide alternative accommodation.<em>&nbsp;(Photo: Christian Minelli/NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-35426631_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-35426631_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Barcelona, 8 March 2018</strong> - Thousands of women took to Barcelona’s streets on International Women’s Day to protest precarious employment conditions alongside other women’s rights issues. In response to rapidly rising unemployment post-2008, and EU austerity requirements, the Spanish government <a href="https://www.thelocal.es/20160307/spains-unfair-labour-reform-unemployment">passed</a> a series of increasingly flexible labour laws with the <a href="https://www.thelocal.es/20160307/spains-unfair-labour-reform-unemployment">stated aim of facilitating job creation</a>. Particularly controversial reforms have included: the deregulation of firing procedures, the promotion of temporary employment contracts and a reduction in young workers’ rights under training contracts.&nbsp;<em>(Photo: Ramon Costa/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-36865380.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-36865380.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Athens, 31 May 2018</strong> - Widows protested outside of Greece’s highest administrative court, where judges had debated the constitutionality of the government’s most recent course of pension cuts. Their banner read “NO to the abolition of pensions for widows under 55,” condemning &nbsp;new legislation that would reduce pensions for widows under 55 years of age and scrap them entirely for those below 52. The reforms, due to take effect in 2019, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/business/economy/greece-europe-bailout.html">were enacted in order to</a> comply with international bailout demands.&nbsp;<em>(Photo: Robert Geiss/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved).</em></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 Women's rights and economic justice women's movements young feminists Brittney Ferreira Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:43:57 +0000 Brittney Ferreira 119430 at https://www.opendemocracy.net “This story rarely gets told”: 10 years of women’s resistance to austerity across Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/10-years-womens-resistance-to-austerity-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From the UK to Greece, women have been hit hardest by austerity policies since the 2008 financial crisis. This month, 50.50 will spotlight our stories of resistance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-35426631.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women protest for equal pay and dignity at work in Barcelona, March 2018. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-35426631.jpg" alt="Women protest for equal pay and dignity at work in Barcelona, March 2018. " title="Women protest for equal pay and dignity at work in Barcelona, March 2018. " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women protest for equal pay and dignity at work in Barcelona, March 2018. (Photo: Ramon Costa/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved).</span></span></span>I was 17 and dating a particularly sexist boyfriend when the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, sparking the global financial crisis and reshaping the world we live in. A decade on, I’ve lived the entirety of my ‘millennial’ adult life under austerity in the UK – and have found strength and friendship from families of resistance that women have created in response to years of harmful policies.</p><p dir="ltr">“This story rarely gets told,” political sociologist at the University of Warwick, Akwugo Emejulu, told me, of the resistance strategies of women of colour in particular. “Many activist women of colour are rendered invisible by their insistence on doing local community work,” she said, contrasting high-profile occupations such as Occupy London and Los Indignados with our “under the radar” organising. </p><p dir="ltr">Over the last decade, women across Europe have responded to austerity policies imposed on us since the 2008 crisis. We’ve fought to expose and challenge the specific impacts of austerity on women, creating new communities in the process, from <a href="http://www.sistersuncut.org">Sisters Uncut</a> in the UK to <a href="https://mwasicollectif.com">Mwasi Collective</a> (Paris) and <a href="https://soulsistersberlin.com">Soul Sisters</a> (Berlin). </p><p dir="ltr">These collectives, led by women of colour, are among Europe’s “most exciting and innovative,” says Emejulu. “They combine hard-nosed grassroots activism with cultural production to organise… and also create new cultural and artistic spaces by and for women of colour,” she explains, emphasising that resistance also consists of “self-help groups and sister circles where community and friendship can be built”. </p><p dir="ltr">Crucially, women, migrants, working-class communities, people living with disabilities, non-binary and trans people, aren’t passive victims to harmful economic policies: they resist. It’s this resistance that 50.50 will spotlight this month, in an alternative series to mark the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis, including special reports from Spain and Italy and a photo essay. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">A decade on, I’ve lived the entirety of my ‘millennial’ adult life under austerity in the UK. </p><p dir="ltr">I remember well the years following the financial crash – the horror of the coalition government coming to power in 2010 and student marches against rising tuition fees. But I was never massively taken by student politics, which I found male-dominated. </p><p dir="ltr">It wasn’t until 2014 when a friend dragged me to a protest that I felt politically at home. It was organised by Sisters Uncut – a feminist group that uses creative direct actions to highlight austerity as state violence. </p><p dir="ltr">On Valentine’s Day, we brought London’s busy Oxford Circus roundabout to a standstill. Dressed in funeral attire and holding placards saying ‘They Cut, We Bleed’, we read out the names of some of <a href="https://kareningalasmith.com/counting-dead-women/">the hundreds of women</a> in the UK who have lost their lives to domestic violence since 2010. </p><p dir="ltr">I remember being struck by the range of their ages, ethnicities and locations. Every week, <a href="https://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/forms-of-violence-and-abuse/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/">two women</a> are murdered by a partner or ex-partner in this country. Meanwhile, government cuts to domestic violence services and refuges have made it harder for many, and potentially impossible for some, to leave violent relationships. </p><p dir="ltr">While initial reports described the crisis as a ‘<a href="http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/10526.pdf">man-cession</a>’, focusing on men’s jobs at risk, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/women-bearing-86-of-austerity-burden-labour-research-reveals">burden of austerity</a> has fallen largely on women. As <a href="https://www.womenlobby.org/IMG/pdf/the_price_of_austerity_-_web_edition.pdf">elsewhere in Europe</a>, women in <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Development/IEDebt/WomenAusterity/WBG.pdf">the UK</a> use more public services; they are the majority of welfare benefit recipients – and the majority of public-sector workers; they’re also more likely to make up for lost public services with unpaid care work. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 16.00.59.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sisters Uncut protest in June 2016 outside parliament."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 16.00.59.png" alt="Sisters Uncut protest in June 2016 outside parliament." title="Sisters Uncut protest in June 2016 outside parliament." width="460" height="321" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sisters Uncut protest in June 2016 outside parliament. Photo: Niku Gupta.</span></span></span>Sisters Uncut’s ‘<a href="http://www.sistersuncut.org/feministo/">feministo</a>’ list of demands begins: “To those in power, our message is this: your cuts are violent, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted people who you perceive as powerless. We are those people. We are Sisters Uncut. We will not be silenced.” </p><p dir="ltr">Since 2014, we’ve blossomed into a national movement. Our actions have taken many forms – and have left us feeling exhilarated, united in our resistance, powerful and dangerous. <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38045460">We blocked Westminster bridge</a> in 2016, for instance, in a symbolic protest against cuts to domestic violence services. We also reclaimed an empty council flat in east London and <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sisters-uncut-occupy-council-house-in-hackney-to-fight-gentrification_uk_57838055e4b0935d4b4b2a76">turned it into a community centre</a>. </p><p>Last year, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/01/domestic-violence-services-occupying-holloway-prison-sisters-uncut-cuts-women">we occupied Holloway women’s prison</a> in north London to demand that it become a domestic violence service, rather than luxury flats. This February, <a href="https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/theresa-may-acknowledges-demands-will-continue-use-direct-disruptive-action/">we stormed the BAFTAs</a> red carpet to call ‘Times Up’ on UK prime minister Theresa May for years of devastating austerity policies. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">While initial reports described the crisis as a ‘man-cession’, focusing on men’s jobs at risk, the burden of austerity has fallen largely on women.</p><p dir="ltr">Across Europe, women have challenged waves of austerity policies and cuts to public services. They’ve led protests, occupied buildings, organised for employment rights and formed new communities of resistance, support and solidarity. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.32496613.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women protest an eviction in Rome, August 2017."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/2.32496613.jpg" alt="Women protest an eviction in Rome, August 2017." title="Women protest an eviction in Rome, August 2017." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women protest an eviction in Rome, August 2017. (Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images)</span></span></span>In Montenegro, <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/montenegrin-mothers-threaten-radical-action-over-benefit-cut-03-13-2017">thousands of mothers demonstrated</a> in February 2017 against cuts <a href="https://apnews.com/b223cde0c9824bb0ab9e6cd33fa25e7e">of 25%</a> to financial assistance for women with three or more children. Dozens camped outside government offices overnight. The new policy, they said, would impact more than <a href="https://monitor.civicus.org/newsfeed/2017/02/24/cuts-welfare-provisions-prompt-protest-in-montenegro/">21,000 women</a>. They held placards <a href="https://apnews.com/b223cde0c9824bb0ab9e6cd33fa25e7e">reading</a> “Gentlemen from the government, beware of the women — mothers” and “Our children are hungry.”</p><p dir="ltr">Women also camped outside government offices in Greece after <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-eu-29229555">hundreds of cleaners</a> were dismissed from (newly outsourced) jobs in 2014, amid <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/0115f5ea-2af2-11e5-8613-e7aedbb7bdb7">European Union austerity demands</a>. The cleaners drew attention to their specific experiences as middle-aged women and adopted the symbol of a rubber glove with two fingers forming a V for ‘victory.’ They also travelled to Strasbourg to lobby members of the European Parliament. In 2015, the new Greek government <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11375490/Greek-cleaning-ladies-claim-victory-in-jobs-protest.html">reinstated their jobs</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Workers’ rights have also been won at <a href="https://soasunion.org/campaigns/justiceforcleaners/">SOAS</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/12/college-cleaners-outsourcing-soas">LSE</a> universities in the UK through the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/25/lse-striking-cleaners-outsourced-university-injustice">‘justice for cleaners’</a> campaigns, as the workforce (made-up of mostly migrant women), has demanded better wages, sick leave and to be employed in-house. </p><p dir="ltr">As part of 50.50’s series, journalist Claudia Torrisi will report from Rome where many families live in occupied buildings amid a ‘housing emergency’. In the Viale del Policlinico occupation, 140 people of different nationalities (including children, women and old people) live in constant fear of eviction. </p><p dir="ltr">From Spain, journalist Rocío Ros will profile the ‘Las Kellys’ movement of hotel cleaners who have mobilised for better working conditions and against the outsourcing of their jobs. Their <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/02/spanish-chambermaids-seek-tripadvisor-help-to-fight-exploitation">recent campaign</a> promotes hotels with fair employment practices (and shames those without them), calling on the popular travel website TripAdvisor to adopt the Las Kellys ‘seal of approval.’</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 18.36.34.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Members of Las Kellys at an event in August 2017. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 18.36.34.png" alt="Members of Las Kellys at an event in August 2017. " title="Members of Las Kellys at an event in August 2017. " width="460" height="340" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Members of Las Kellys at an event in August 2017. (Photo: Diario de Madrid/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0).</span></span></span>I asked Emejulu, at the University of Warwick, specifically about the experiences of women of colour living under, and mobilising against, austerity. </p><p dir="ltr">She said they “have been all but erased from the narrative about who has been hit hardest by the crisis and austerity, who is organising to reverse these counter-productive cuts and who should be the target of policy action to address the misery that has been created because of the rollback of the social welfare state.”</p><p dir="ltr">Why? “Firstly and most importantly, there is a relentless focus on local conditions in neighbourhoods”, she said, giving as examples the community organising of women of colour against “the closure of community centres, the increasingly dirty streets and parks, the struggle for affordable housing and the cuts to benefits.” </p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Emejulu stresses, where women of colour “are routinely dismissed as alien Others,” their local organising and “creation of spaces of collective affirmation and solidarity is radical politics.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">Where women of colour “are routinely dismissed as alien Others,” their organising and “creation of spaces of collective affirmation and solidarity is radical politics.”</span></p><p dir="ltr">In London, the <a href="http://www.lawrs.org.uk">Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)</a> is one example of a community group that creates space for migrant women who feel increasingly isolated due to the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies coupled with austerity. </p><p dir="ltr">LAWRS provides advice, information, counselling and advocacy services for Latin American women, and safe spaces to talk about their experiences and interests. “By organising around issues that matter to the women they regain the power that they feel they have lost to an abusive system,” coordinator Ornella Ospino told me. </p><p dir="ltr">Through LAWRS, Ospino says, women migrant workers in precarious jobs have followed Latin American ancestral practices of collective support, offering advice on unions, resisting immigration raids and assisting with job searches. Survivors of domestic violence have organised to advise each other on how to navigate services. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/18471136634_203b7e2c26_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Anti-austerity protest in London, June 2015 amid the evictions of most residents from a Barnet housing estate. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/18471136634_203b7e2c26_z_0.jpg" alt="Anti-austerity protest in London, June 2015 amid the evictions of most residents from a Barnet housing estate. " title="Anti-austerity protest in London, June 2015 amid the evictions of most residents from a Barnet housing estate. " width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-austerity protest in London, June 2015 amid the evictions of most residents from a Barnet housing estate. Photo: Alan Stanton/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0). </span></span></span>Also in London is <a href="https://focuse15.org/about/">Focus E15</a>, formed in 2013 by 29 single mothers. After being served eviction notices and deemed ‘intentionally homeless’ for refusing to take accommodation offered in other cities, far from their communities, they occupied empty council flats. Developers eventually withdrew from planned sales. </p><p dir="ltr">The group continues to fight for better housing conditions for single mothers in east London. They organise an open-mic every week outside a local shopping centre where people can take the microphone and share their stories. </p><p dir="ltr">It’s important to support people “to have the confidence to directly challenge their circumstances,” said Saskia, one of the women involved in Focus E15. </p><p dir="ltr">“Their voice is very important, and they have a right to express anger about their situation and lead their struggle,” she said, adding: “We have become a solid family who share organising, thrash out differences, yet continue!”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We have become a solid family who share organising, thrash out differences, yet continue!”</p><p dir="ltr">The community spaces we’ve created at Sisters Uncut are among the most radical actions we’ve taken. They expose (and respond to) the absence of community contact we all feel in this neoliberal austerity-stricken society. </p><p dir="ltr">As part of this collective, I feel I am part of a resistance to the government’s austerity agenda. It’s here that I’ve now formed some of my closest friends and networks – even both of my (biological) sisters organise with Sisters Uncut. </p><p dir="ltr">The pernicious austerity policies of the last decade were not passed unopposed. Overlooking the resistance of women has enabled a “tired narrative of equating economic crisis with right-wing populism” that Emejulu argues “doesn’t hold water.” </p><p dir="ltr">“If it did,” she asks, “what explains this flourishing of European Black feminist activism among those women who are in long-term economic crisis?” </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/brittney-ferreira/10-years-of-womens-resistance-to-austerity-across-europe-in-pictures">10 years of women&#039;s resistance to austerity across Europe – in pictures</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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 Can Europe make it? Civil society Equality International politics Women's rights and economic justice women's movements gendered poverty gender justice gender young feminists Nandini Archer Thu, 13 Sep 2018 07:38:38 +0000 Nandini Archer 119492 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In rural Paraguay, women are on the frontlines of a ‘race against time’ to save native seeds https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maria-sanz-dominguez/in-rural-paraguay-women-fight-to-preserve-indigenous-seeds <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Amid the spread of industrial farming, transgenic crops and seed patents, rural women are conserving native varieties and teaching others about agro-ecology.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (1).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="336" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Native seeds preserved in rural Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>In Chacore, about 200 kilometers east of Asunción, Paraguay's capital, Ceferina Guerrero, 68, walks by shelves of carefully-labelled plastic bottles and metal drums. Each contains a native seed variety essential to the diets of rural communities. </p><p dir="ltr">Their labels list seed names in <em>Guarani</em>, an indigenous language and Paraguay’s second official language, as well as in Spanish. Guerrero introduces them warmly, as a mother would do with her children: this one is a bean, this one is peanut, this is corn.</p><p dir="ltr">Known as <em>Ña Cefe</em> in her community, Guerrero says her surname (which means 'warrior' in Spanish) fits her like a glove. She is one of the founders of the Coordination of Rural and Indigenous Women in Paraguay (<a href="https://www.conamuri.org.py/">Conamuri</a>). </p><p dir="ltr">Conamuri began as a small group in the 1990s. Today its members include women from more than 200 rural communities in Paraguay and it’s also connected to allies around the world as part of the international peasants’ movement <a href="https://viacampesina.org/es/">La Via Campesina</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Still, Guerrero says, “we should not forget our first objective”: collecting and preserving native seeds across the country. She describes this as a race against time – and the expansion of large-scale, industrial agriculture. </p><p dir="ltr">“Now we have lost almost 60% of native varieties,” she told me. “We even have communities where you can’t find any.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Now we have lost almost 60% of native varieties. We even have communities where you cannot find any.”</p><p dir="ltr">Globally, <a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/am307e/am307e00.pdf">60-80% of food in most developing countries, and half of the world’s food supply,</a> is planted by women, according the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). </p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, the world <a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5609e/y5609e02.htm">lost 75%</a> of its seed diversity over the twentieth century. Now,<a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1136440/icode/"> </a>just nine crops <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1136440/icode/">comprise 66%</a> of global agricultural production. Only three of these – wheat, rice and corn – account for almost half of the world population’s daily calories. </p><p dir="ltr">These trends have alarmed NGOs, rural organisations and international institutions. Maintaining biodiversity, <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1136440/icode/">the FAO insists</a>, is “fundamental” for food security and the ability to adapt to population growth and climate change. </p><p dir="ltr">Biodiversity loss also has “specific impacts” on women who have “traditionally been the keepers of profound knowledge of plants, animals and ecological processes,” <a href="http://www.ipes-food.org/images/Reports/UniformityToDiversity_FullReport.pdf">added</a> the IPES international expert panel on sustainable food systems in 2016. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (2).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (2).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Guerrero holds corn seeds, in Chacore, Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez. </span></span></span>In Paraguay, <a href="https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Paraguays-Campesinos-March-to-Demand-Right-to-Land-20170329-0041.html">just 5%</a> of the population owns 90% of the land. Most of this is used by huge agribusinesses to grow just a handful of crops (including soybeans, wheat, rice and corn) on vast plantations for export internationally. </p><p dir="ltr">Last year, the country <a href="http://web.senave.gov.py:8081/docs/informes/ANUARIO%20ESTADISTICO%20SENAVE%202018.pdf">imported</a> almost 24,000 tons of seeds. Most were for these export crops. Less than 1% were fruit or vegetable seeds, mostly potatoes. Others included Paraguay's national fruit: <em>mburucuya</em> (passion fruit).</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.senave.gov.py/docs/servicios/bioseguridad-agricola/2017/Listado%20de%20eventos%20de%20modificacion%20genetica%20liberados%20comercialmente%20en%20el%20pais.pdf">28</a> genetically-modified crop varieties (mostly soy, corn and cotton varieties) have been approved by the government since 2001, when Monsanto<a href="http://www.monsantoglobal.com/global/py/quienes-somos/Pages/historia-de-la-compania.aspx"> started to produce its soy variety resistant to the Roundup pesticide here.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Amid corporate pressure on farming and food production, women who preserve native varieties, like Guerrero in Chacore, are “rare, like needles in a haystack,” said Inés Franceschelli, a researcher for the NGO <a href="https://henoi.org.py/">Heñoi</a> ('to germinate').</p><p dir="ltr">“And if Paraguay is so dependent [on foreign companies] for such a basic thing as food,” Franceschelli added, “it means that this is a subordinate country.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“If Paraguay is so dependent [on foreign companies] for such a basic thing as food, it means that this is a subordinate country.”</p><p dir="ltr">Following an intense campaign of mega-mergers since 2016, a small group of just <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/theguardian/alimentario-grandes-empresas-acaparen-semillas_0_564493892.html">three giant corporations</a> (Bayer-Monsanto, DowDuPont, and Chemchina-Syngenta) now control more than half of the world’s seed market. </p><p dir="ltr">These seed and agrochemical giants are also active in Paraguay, where they have been <a href="http://www.senave.gov.py/docs/servicios/bioseguridad-agricola/2017/Listado%20de%20eventos%20de%20modificacion%20genetica%20liberados%20comercialmente%20en%20el%20pais.pdf">allowed to plant</a> transgenic corn, cotton and soy. </p><p dir="ltr">Guerrero told me that native seeds grow without insecticides, while some transgenic seeds may “produce a nice plant, with nice fruits, but if you collect the seed and plant it again, it would not germinate. You cannot reuse their seeds, and you will have to buy them again and again."</p><p dir="ltr">What she described sounds like the effect of a controversial genetic modification that produces sterile seeds once the plant has given its fruits. </p><p dir="ltr">Sometimes called “Terminator seeds,” some NGOs and rural organisations warn that the use of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURT) can displace native varieties and threaten local food security. </p><p dir="ltr">Paraguay is also <a href="https://www.cbd.int/information/parties.shtml">a signatory of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity</a>, which in 2000 recommended a de-facto moratorium on field-testing and sales of these 'terminator' seeds. </p><p>The world’s biggest seed companies are all believed to have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/12/brazil-gm-terminator-seed-technology-farmers">patents</a> for such technologies, though they deny dealing in them.</p><p><a href="https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/terminator-seeds-myth/"> Monsanto, for instance, has said</a> that it “has never commercialised a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or ‘Terminator’ – seeds” in food crops and that it has “no plans or research that would violate this commitment.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (3).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/viacampesina (3).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ceferina Guerrero, in Chacore, Paraguay. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez. </span></span></span>Currently, Paraguay is also <a href="http://www2.mre.gov.py/index.php/noticias/el-canciller-nacional-recibio-en-audiencia-al-presidente-de-la-union-de-gremios-de-la-produccion?ccm_paging_p=91">being pressured</a> to adopt the controversial ‘UPOV 91’ seed convention as part of a free trade agreement being negotiated between the European Union and South American commercial bloc Mercosur.</p><p dir="ltr">Rural organisations fear that this <a href="https://www.nodal.am/2018/02/12-razones-las-decimos-no-al-acuerdo-libre-comercio-mercosur-union-europea-alianza-biodiversidad/">could enable</a> legal prosecutions against country-people for sharing or exchanging their native seeds, as they will not be able to meet the requirements for seed registration under this convention.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the last decade, Conamuri developed its own proposals for laws to protect native and creole seeds (which are not native but have adapted to local conditions over centuries). These were rejected in 2012, after the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-18553813">impeachment of president Fernando Lugo</a> (seen as <a href="https://www.ultimahora.com/lugo-dice-que-monsanto-y-los-golpistas-son-los-sembradores-la-muerte-n562027.html">likely to accept them</a>). </p><p dir="ltr">“Then we understood that political power was unstable, so giving the government control over our seeds was not a guarantee for our food sovereignty and security,” Conamuri’s Perla Álvarez told me. “Seeds must be in country-people's hands.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción, 4 august.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción, 4 august.JPG" alt="Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción." title="Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Native seeds in a seed exchange in Asunción. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>“Country-people hold power in their traditional lifestyles,” adds Franceschelli, from the NGO Heñoi, from the power of healthy nutrition and sustainable land management to that of “living without depending on corporations.”</p><p dir="ltr">“The resistance against standardisation and globalisation is located in rural and indigenous communities across the world," she said. "And this resistance is stronger in women.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The resistance is located in rural and indigenous communities across the world. And this resistance is stronger in women.”</p><p dir="ltr">Across Paraguay, amid the spread of industrial farming, transgenic crops and seed patents, rural women like Guerrero are on the frontlines of the fight to save native varieties before it’s too late.</p><p dir="ltr">They are producing 'green fertilisers' that help farmland to recover for the next season, and teaching others about agro-ecological farming that takes natural ecosystems into account and encourages planting a diversity of crops.</p><p dir="ltr">They are carefully labelling containers storing the same varieties of corn their grandmothers used to cook, long ago. They are also rediscovering and preserving native seeds that haven’t been used for many years.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members 2.jpg" alt="Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members." title="Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members." width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Native seeds collected and classified by Conamuri members. Photo: Maria Sanz Dominguez.</span></span></span>In Chacore, Semilla Róga (“the house of the seeds”) is a Conamuri project that hosts country-people from across Paraguay each month to exchange and learn to preserve native and creole seed varieties. </p><p dir="ltr">Here, Guerrero teaches techniques on how to grow food without pesticides or insecticides. She also has her own seed store at home, preserving more than 60 seed varieties and sharing them with her neighbours. </p><p dir="ltr">“Since the beginning of agriculture,” she says, “native seeds were linked to women, who were the first ones to collect, keep and plant seeds.” </p><p dir="ltr">The Semilla Róga project also aims to preserve the knowledge and traditions of communities that use native seeds. “Each corn variety is suitable for a different kind of food, and belongs to a different group of people,” Álvarez explained. </p><p>“For instance, indigenous people such as the avá and mbya guaraní have coloured corn for ritual use, so the plant also has cultural value,” she said. </p><p dir="ltr">Natural medicines derived from raw seeds are also popular in Paraguay, where they are often used as cheaper alternatives to conventional drugs. (Coriander seed, for instance, is used to raise natural defenses after illnesses).</p><p dir="ltr">“If we lose kuratu [coriander], if we lose andai [a local variety of pumpkin], we are losing medicine, and we are also losing our food, a part of our traditions as country-people, and a part of our culture and our identity,” Guerrero told me.</p><p dir="ltr">Holding a big ear of native red corn, Guerrero explains that it should be harvested during the full moon, when the atmosphere is less humid. She shows me how to collect the little seeds on both ends for food; those in the middle will be stored for planting in the next season.</p><p dir="ltr">“Some people ask me how many dollars I spend per day. I do not understand that question, because I produce what I need, and for weeks I do not spend a dollar,” she says. “When you have seeds at home, you will never be hungry.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* This article is part of a series on women's rights and economic justice from 50.50 and the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), featuring stories on the impacts of extractive industries and corporate power, and the importance of tax justice for the rights of women, trans and gender non-conforming people.</em></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 Women's rights and economic justice women's movements young feminists Maria Sanz Dominguez Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:46:03 +0000 Maria Sanz Dominguez 119389 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Re-imagining the American Dream: a decade of sisterhood with Positive Women’s Network https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sonia-rastogi/decade-sisterhood-positive-womens-network <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">Women living with HIV are mobilising to demand visibility and rights in the US. Our collective voice, vision and leadership offer hope. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/rastogi (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/rastogi (1).jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Members LaTrischa Miles, Naina Khanna, Vanessa Johnson, Evany Turk and Pat Kelly at PWN’s 10 year anniversary and national summit for women living with HIV. Photo credit: Positive Women’s Network - USA, 2018.</span></span></span>“Imagine what it would look like to create a space for 300,000 women and girls living with HIV to have a political home,” Naina Khanna, executive director of Positive Women’s Network - USA (PWN), told me over Skype, this May. She explained: “We cannot only fight for space at existing tables, we also need to create new tables.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ten years ago, 28 diverse women living with HIV in the US, including women of trans experience, set out to create precisely this political space. Through PWN, a group of mostly women of colour leaders harnessed their collective power to fill a void in voice, agency and visible leadership by women living with HIV in America. </p><p dir="ltr">Around the same time that PWN was founded, I received an HIV diagnosis. As a young woman of colour and daughter to immigrants who was raised to believe in the white narrative of the American Dream, I was struggling to articulate my own politics, let alone process the anger, confusion and sadness of an HIV diagnosis. </p><p dir="ltr">It would take another year for me to meet another person living with HIV. Luckily, that first person was a woman of colour who guided me to PWN.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I came into myself when I linked into this collective voice of women living with HIV.”</p><p dir="ltr">I came into myself when I linked into this collective voice of women living with HIV. The power of language, of discovering your own truth, then speaking this truth to power with others is a cathartic experience. It is an experience that many women living with HIV have had when they’ve engaged with PWN.</p><p dir="ltr">Months after its founding in 2008, PWN members heard that other organisations were preparing policy recommendations for the incoming presidential team. No one had submitted recommendations on women living with HIV. Both McCain and Obama had made commitments to a national HIV/AIDS strategy, but it was unclear who would win. </p><p dir="ltr">For PWN, this was non-negotiable: women living with HIV had to be at the table defining their own priorities. Hundreds of hours of phone calls and many drafts later, PWN submitted the first-ever policy document authored entirely by women living with HIV to a sitting presidential administration. This marked PWN’s entrance onto the national stage. </p><p dir="ltr">Eight years later, the communities that PWN represents faced an increasingly hostile social, political and cultural climate in the run-up to President Trump’s election in 2016. </p><p dir="ltr">The evening after the election, PWN organised an emergency community call for people living with HIV to check-in, validate emotions and bridge the isolation so familiar to people living with HIV. “It made me realise we were going to have to be here for our communities in new and different ways,” Khanna told me.</p><p dir="ltr">As 2016 came to a close, PWN “took an intentional position to stand in active defiance [of Trump’s administration]. This is a dangerous place to be when you are a non-profit, but it is a characteristic response from PWN – we have to do it because our lives depend on it, not because we have a grant to do it,” said Barb Cardell, the board’s chair.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We have to do it because our lives depend on it, not because we have a grant to do it.”</p><p dir="ltr">This defiance <a href="https://www.pwn-usa.org/policy-update-jan-2017/">has included</a>: scaling-up community organising; promoting the leadership and expertise of women living with HIV; bolstering efforts to shift cultural narratives around women and HIV; and most importantly, committing to stand for human rights and dignity of all people living with HIV. </p><p dir="ltr">“We are dedicated to hearing our membership in whatever form it comes across,” Cardell emphasises. She explains that, personally, “PWN changed me into the person I wanted and needed to be – it unshackled me.” </p><p dir="ltr">“Often women living with HIV are dismissed if they get emotional or angry," she added. "PWN acknowledges and validates that this rage and pain is real – it comes from surviving traumas we never should have had to survive. We honour the lived experience of women living with HIV and support them wherever they are at.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/rastogi (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/rastogi (2).jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Barb Cardell advocating for the Affordable Care Act and the right to health. Photo credit: Positive Women’s Network - USA, 2018.</span></span></span>Last year, PWN launched a <a href="about:blank">six-part intersectional policy agenda</a> that responds to the political moment and linked with reproductive justice, disability rights groups and mainstream policy think tanks to fight against attempts to repeal the <a href="https://www.pwn-usa.org/issues/policy-agenda/universal-health-care/">Affordable Care Act</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">As the US now heads into heated midterm elections, in November, PWN has deepened its political engagement by launching the PWN Action Fund, to endorse progressive candidates. Five statewide chapters are also leading local ‘get out the vote’ efforts. </p><p dir="ltr">“There are over a million people living with HIV in this country. Imagine the power of those voters,” said Khanna, describing PWN as “committed to non-partisan, progressive voter organising to increase turnout of voters who are informed about our issues.”</p><p dir="ltr">Today, PWN is a recognised leader and key player in the US advocacy and policy landscape. It now has thousands of members nationally, with six statewide chapters and state leads in another 13 states, while remaining committed to working internally and externally to deconstruct the ways <a href="https://www.pwn-usa.org/old-policy-agenda/a-declaration-of-liberation-building-a-racially-just-and-strategic-domestic-hiv-movement/">race</a>, patriarchy and misogyny structure power.</p> <iframe width="460" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/l8PS5dSkGdI" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p dir="ltr">PWN started as a network unapologetically by and for women living with HIV. “Symbolism is everything,” founding member Vanessa Johnson told me. “Every movement has started symbolically. People say symbols don’t matter, but they do”. </p><p dir="ltr">Now, PWN is “laying the groundwork for the next phase,” she said. “Social justice has to be our focus. We have a roadmap of how we are going to take the next step, how we look at health in America, how we as women organise and how we ensure everyone is able to live a quality life and authentically express their power.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ten years on, PWN’s values continue to guide my own engagement with the world. These include the centering of the voices and leadership of the most impacted communities; practicing unbending accountability to your constituents; and changing the balance of power through a social justice lens.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015 and 2016 I was working on the frontlines of South Sudan’s civil war alongside many others delivering life-saving services to women, girls and communities affected by decades of conflict. It was PWN’s values, training and approach that give me hope and the will to know what to do in overwhelming and painful situations. </p><p dir="ltr">Where humanity seemed the darkest and most corrupt, these values let in a kaleidoscope of light.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Civil society Equality International politics 50.50 AIDS, Gender and Human Rights women's movements women's health Sonia Rastogi Wed, 05 Sep 2018 09:27:03 +0000 Sonia Rastogi 119490 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gender justice activists are organising against online violence – and they need your support https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/bonnie-chiu/gender-justice-activists-organising-against-online-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The burden of responding to violence should not fall on the most affected. We must do more to support these activists online, and offline.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMGBC.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Online harassment infographic. Image: Unesco/Wikimedia. CC SA-4.0."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMGBC.png" alt="Online harassment infographic. Image: Unesco/Wikimedia. CC SA-4.0." title="Online harassment infographic. Image: Unesco/Wikimedia. CC SA-4.0." width="460" height="359" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Online harassment infographic. Image: Unesco/Wikimedia. CC SA-4.0.</span></span></span>More activists are moving online to organise. This is especially true for women, given the sexual harassment risks and other constraints they face organising offline. Yet, the online frontier is not safe for them either. UN Women’s <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/cyber_violence_gender%20report.pdf?v=1&amp;d=20150924T154259">research</a> in 2015 found that “73% of women have already been exposed to or have experienced some form of online violence”.</p><p dir="ltr">There is no official or public documentation of the scale of this issue for women human rights defenders, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many have faced <a href="https://xyz.informationactivism.org/en/online-harassment-of-politically-active-women-overview">gendered online harassment</a> – the repeated or sustained use of digital tactics and technologies to harass, intimidate or silence women. Online violence can also precede or enable offline attacks.</p><p dir="ltr">One women human rights defender, whose identity cannot be disclosed for security reasons, told me that many activists in the Middle East and North Africa have chosen to maintain very low digital presences amid severe online risks. She said that some of the recently-<a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/women-arrested-saudi-ongoing-crackdown-activists-180609192341627.html">arrested</a> Saudi women’s rights activists had likely been hacked, as they had worked anonymously.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite these challenges, gender justice activists in this region and beyond are fighting back, with numerous groups and individual activists coming up with innovative solutions to risks they face organising online. Though the burden of responding to online violence should not fall on those most deeply affected by it. More must be done to support these women.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The burden of responding to online violence should not fall on those most deeply affected by it.”</p><p dir="ltr">In June, <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=23248&amp;LangID=E">the UN Human Rights Council</a> discussed online violence against women human rights defenders for the first time. While it was encouraging to see this discussion convened, governments and technology companies also bear significant responsibilities in this area – and have stayed largely silent.</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://tacticaltech.org">Tactical Technology Collective</a> (Tactical Tech), a Berlin-based non-profit that I have worked with, focuses on social and political implications of digital technologies. It was among the speakers at the UN meeting.</p><p dir="ltr">Since 2014, Tactical Tech has engaged specifically with women human rights defenders, organising <a href="https://archive2015.tacticaltech.org/GENDER-TECH-INSTITUTE.html">Gender and Technology Institutes</a> for more than 200 activists in Asia, Africa and Latin America, providing digital security trainings, and supporting the development of a feminist critical discourse on technology.</p><p dir="ltr">Gender and Technology Institute Asia participants told me that, given online threats, there is a high degree of self-censorship and isolation. They also described the value of safe, supportive communities to share challenges and solutions to these risks. Offline interactions and networks remain critical, and can enable online solidarity actions when fellow activists are targeted.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Offline interactions and networks remain critical, and can enable online solidarity actions when fellow activists are targeted.”</p><p dir="ltr">Tactical Tech has also created resources including <a href="https://xyz.informationactivism.org/en/">XYZ</a> which share digital security and privacy tools and tactics for women, trans and non-binary individuals. This project aims to be a growing repository of information and resources for those who use digital technologies to advance their activism.</p><p dir="ltr">Semanur Karaman, Tactical Tech’s project lead for XYZ, described its goal to become a go-to reference point for women, “demystifying these technologies in a cis-men dominated sector.” She said it will be “a democratic space where women do not only talk about their authentic experiences using these technologies, including opportunities and challenges, but also actively contribute to discussions on alternatives moving forward.”</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/565074/ASdrive (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/ASdrive (1).png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The XYZ platform. Image: Screenshot, August 2018. </span></span></span>Another resource from Tactical Tech, <a href="http://myshadow.org/">My Shadow</a> includes training curricula and helps users identify their individual digital footprint and reduce their exposure to threats. Women human rights defenders in the Middle East described these as critical resources, amid very limited access to other digital training and knowledge in their region. They translated some of them into Arabic so that they can be more broadly available to activists in the region.</p><p dir="ltr">These resources explain tactics which activists can deploy to protect themselves online, from using secure chat apps such as Signal rather than Facebook Messenger, to ‘self-doxxing’ – researching what is openly available about you online to anticipate what others might maliciously expose.</p><p dir="ltr">An activist I interviewed, working across the Middle East and North Africa, told me that in the region, bots are very commonly used to generate hate speech and make sexual violence threats against women human rights defenders. Many of these bots are “propaganda arms of governments,” she said, supporting specific politicians in the Gulf or promoting state ideologies.</p><p dir="ltr">To combat this, activists have come up with comprehensive plans combining technical tactics such as identifying bots and sharing their account names, with humour – one activist made memes out of the bots which went viral.</p><p dir="ltr">Community support and solidarity, resources and grassroots actions initiated by gender justice activists are responding to online violence. But digital technologies are evolving at such a rapid speed.</p><p dir="ltr">We must show solidarity now with these activists, as well as using our resources to support their work directly. This means providing monetary support, as well as showing up physically, joining offline protests. Online violence is real violence, and must be confronted with great urgency.</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 women's movements violence against women young feminists Bonnie Chiu Mon, 03 Sep 2018 07:38:05 +0000 Bonnie Chiu 119390 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Bad girls’ in Holloway prison: when being a ‘loud’ black woman was an offence in itself https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/caitlin-davies/bad-girls-in-holloway-prison-black-women-extract <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Black women were disproportionately jailed and mistreated in London’s infamous Holloway prison. This is an edited extract from <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Girls-History-Rebels-Renegades/dp/1473647746">“Bad Girls, A History of Rebels and Renegades”</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image2_8.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image2_8.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vigil outside Holloway prison in June 2017, London. Credit: Nandini Archer.</span></span></span>On 11 January 2016 Sarah Reed became the last woman to die in Holloway Prison. According to the Ministry of Justice, she was ‘found unresponsive’ in her cell at 8 am; prison staff ‘attempted CPR, but she was pronounced dead shortly after’.</p><p dir="ltr">The 32-year-old mixed-race woman had suffered severe mental health problems ever since the death of her baby in 2003, including grief, depression, schizophrenia and bulimia.</p><p dir="ltr">Four years before her own death, Sarah had been brutally assaulted by white police officer James Kiddie on the floor of a shop in Regent Street, accused of shoplifting. The assault was caught on CCTV cameras; the police officer’s punishment was a community order.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015 Sarah had been sectioned at a mental health unit, where she was charged with an alleged assault on another patient. She told her family she had been defending herself from attempted rape. Sarah was sent on remand to Holloway for psychiatric reports, where she was classed as at low risk of self-harm. She was placed in segregation, and then moved to C1, the psychiatric unit that had become notorious in the 1980s.</p><p dir="ltr">When her mother Marylin visited, she found her daughter looking unwell and acting strangely; it appeared she wasn’t being given her antipsychotic medication. One of her last letters home read: ‘Mum, this is just to say Merry Xmas . . . PS. Get me out of jail.’</p><p dir="ltr">Sarah Reed’s death quickly became linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, which had started in the United States and which highlighted deaths of black women and men in custody. Lee Jasper, who coordinated a justice campaign, wrote that: ‘This is a horrific tale of institutional racism, sexual violence, corruption and brutal incompetence/negligence that defies belief.’</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“This is a horrific tale of institutional racism, sexual violence, corruption and brutal incompetence/negligence that defies belief.”</p><p dir="ltr">On the night of 8 February, the day of Sarah’s funeral, hundreds gathered for a vigil outside Holloway Prison. Her name was marked out in candles on the pavement, and the crowd chanted, ‘Say her name: Sarah Reed. Black Lives Matter.’</p><p dir="ltr">Racism within the prison service had only been officially recognized in the year 2000, but there had been reports of racist treatment inside Holloway since at least the 1980s. Few records exist on the experiences of women from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups prior to this, and in the first 100 years of Holloway’s existence the vast majority of inmates were white.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_12.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_12.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Holloway prison, London 2008. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/booksnake/2223783958/in/photolist-7u7Mhg-bs5dPg-5112ez-9kX43f-5YHoLJ-57JvDR-oEuACp-rjqGmd-EyAkhB-x7NBvC-L4rnTC-Nnqne5-4ovtuJ">Matt S/Flickr.</a> CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>By the 1980’s an estimated 30% of Holloway’s prisoners were black. As in the United States, the number of black prisoners was increasing at a faster rate than any other ethnic group. Black women were more likely to be arrested and given custodial sentences than white women, especially for drug offences, and less likely to be given bail.</p><p dir="ltr">Black women experienced discrimination right the way through a criminal justice system that was dominated – then as now – by white male police, judges and QCs. Within prison, meanwhile, black women received harsher treatment – denied medical attention, excessively punished, and verbally and physically assaulted by both staff and other prisoners.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Black women received harsher treatment – denied medical attention, excessively punished, and verbally and physically assaulted by both staff and other prisoners.”</p><p dir="ltr">Adaku, jailed at Holloway in the 1980s, described being sent to the punishment block for two days after a fight with a white inmate: ‘She called me a black bitch ...then she hit me and I had to hit her back.’ Black women were refused baths, their visitors were more thoroughly searched and watched, and hair, skin and cosmetic products handed out on reception were only for white women. Aduku was also refused access to her inhaler for asthma, told she only wanted it to ‘make myself high’.</p><p dir="ltr">Another inmate, Abbena, spent the first five months of a 20-month sentence at Holloway in solitary confinement because the prison authorities wouldn’t recognize her Rastafarianism or its dietary beliefs. ‘They kept coming each meal time, each week, with a pork sausage. This one officer kept calling me all these names like gollywog and nig-nog . . . One day I was having a wash and she was standing at the door calling me a black bastard and I threw the soap at her.’</p><p dir="ltr">Prisoners were refused black magazines like West Indian World, as well as Marcus Garvey books, and staff tried to keep black women separated from each other: ‘They’ll put one black girl in among 30 white girls. It’s common practice.’ There were no senior officers who were black, and no black doctors, while ‘one racist doctor . . . used to prescribe Depixol for non-white prisoners. About two-thirds of the black women prisoners are drugged.’</p><p dir="ltr">Between 1994 and 2003 the number of black females imprisoned in the UK rose by nearly 200%, higher than all other ethnicities. Angela Devlin, author of Invisible Women, identified two main stereotypes when it came to staff attitudes to black female prisoners: ‘poor mules’ and ‘strong fighters’. Poor mules were women serving long sentences for importing drugs from abroad, often West Africa, and they were regarded with some sympathy.</p><p dir="ltr">British black women on the other hand were seen as physically strong, aggressive and potentially violent and were treated very differently from white women on admission, despite being charged with similar offences.</p><p dir="ltr">‘White women, especially if they were young, attractive and well dressed, were patted on the head and told to run away and behave better in future,’ writes Angela Devlin, while black women’s crimes were regarded more judgementally and ‘any attempt at assertiveness was quashed immediately.’ Black prisoners were more likely to be disciplined, and heavily supervised, and male officers described them as ‘loud’, ‘mouthy’ and ‘gobby’.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/blackprison.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/blackprison.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest outside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre, Bedford, May 2017. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/knox1013/34685799136/">Wasi Daniju/Flickr.</a> Wasi Daniju/Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The rate of foreign national women in prison was also beginning to rise in the 1980s and many were young black women, ‘poor mules’ charged with drug-related offences. Some had been forced to import drugs at gunpoint and made to swallow lethal amounts of heroin or cocaine in ‘fingers’ of rubber gloves. But instead of focusing on the traffickers, punishment fell on the victims and they were sent to Holloway.</p><p dir="ltr">Foreign national women were also charged under immigration laws – often initially arrested for a minor crime and then incarcerated at Holloway. By the beginning of the twenty-first century up to a third of its 500 prisoners were foreign nationals, and the prison was also a designated detention centre for alleged illegal immigrants.</p><p dir="ltr">One woman, ‘Ms K’, had come to the UK from Nigeria as a victim of torture. She took part in a five-week hunger strike over conditions and treatment at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, and in 2010 she was transferred to Holloway where she was told, ‘You are from the jungle, you should go back.’</p><p dir="ltr">Denise McNeil, a black woman from Jamaica who had left to escape domestic abuse, was labelled a ‘ringleader’ at Yarl’s Wood and held at Holloway for a year – without being charged. Prison was being used to control and punish ‘loud’ behaviour, and being black was almost an offence in itself.</p><p dir="ltr">Sarah Reed’s death in 2016 brought attention back to racism in the prison service. The last woman to die in Holloway Prison was working class, mixed-race and highly vulnerable, and like thousands of women before her, she should never have been jailed in the first place.</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 women's movements women's human rights violence against women gender justice young feminists Caitlin Davies Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:25:04 +0000 Caitlin Davies 119191 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women’s bodies have become a battleground in the fight for Iran’s future https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zaynab-h/womens-bodies-battleground-fight-for-iran-future <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A regressive law to boost the population has restricted the reproductive choices and rights of all Iranian women. Though some suffer more than others.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/zahnh.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/zahnh.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women in Tehran, 2017. Photo: Jochen Eckel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the early 1990s, Iran had one of best family planning programmes in the developing world. From 1980 to 2010, it managed to cut the average number of children each woman <a href="http://www.payvand.com/news/09/apr/1183.html">bore from six and a half to two</a>. But these gains have since been reversed and all Iranian women are suffering under regressive legislation passed in 2015. Though, of course, some are suffering more than others.</p><p>As a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate, I have been working with marginalised women's collectives in underserved districts of Tehran for five years. I have seen how laws like The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill (or Bill 315, as it is known) most directly and severely affect the poorest women: sex workers, those with drug abuse issues, rural, migrant and ethnic minority women – those who were highly dependent on state provision of contraception. </p><p dir="ltr">The first call for a <a href="https://www.populationinstitute.org/resources/populationonline/issue/8/53/">reversal of Iran’s de facto two-child policy</a> came in 2006, when President Ahmadinejad said the population should increase from 70 to 120 million, with women working less and devoting more time to their “main mission” of raising children. In 2012, Supreme Leader <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204741/">Ayatollah Khamenei said</a> the policy made sense 20 years ago, “but its continuation in later years was wrong,” because the country would face an aging and declining population “if the birth-control policy continues.”</p><p dir="ltr">And so <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2015/03/iran-proposed-laws-reduce-women-to-baby-making-machines/">Bill 315</a> was passed by Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly on November 2015, by 289 men and nine women. With it, a new chapter in family planning began, with women’s bodies positioned as a battleground in the fight for Iran’s future. This legislation aims to boost population growth by encouraging early marriage and repeated childbearing. It does this in a number of ways that disempower women and give them less say over their bodies and therefore their lives.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr"> “With Bill 315 a new chapter in family planning began, with women’s bodies a battleground in the fight for Iran’s future.”</p><p dir="ltr">The<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2015/03/iran-proposed-laws-reduce-women-to-baby-making-machines/"> law mandates</a> that all private and public entities give hiring priority, in sequence, to men with children, married men without children, and married women with children. Articles 10 and 16 prevent unmarried men and women from assuming teaching positions or obtaining licenses to practice family law.</p><p dir="ltr">Articles 17 and 18 call for the “de-judicialisation” of family disputes with a view to preventing divorce with “peaceful settlements” through a specialised police unit with “married, mature and well trained officers”. The law shows no regard for whether such settlements could put women at risk of re-victimisation in abusive relationships.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It also creates new barriers to divorce, described by Article 21 as “an anti-value with socially harmful consequences on spouses and children”. Articles 19 and 20 incentivise lawyers and judges to favour reconciliations with special bonuses. This adds an already discriminatory civil code where women (but not men) must provide reasons for divorce, like hardships that would make continuing marriage intolerable.</p><p dir="ltr">In practise, Bill 315 is an all-encompassing denial of women’s agency and their rights to decide freely whether and when to marry, divorce, or have children. It codifies women’s discrimination in the workplace. Family planning funding, which had significantly increased women’s access to modern contraception over the last two decades, was cut not long after the law came into force.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It is an all-encompassing denial of women’s rights to decide freely whether and when to marry, divorce, or have children.”</p><p dir="ltr">The government has since halted all free family planning services. Family planning information has been removed from health centres, which are no longer allowed to distribute contraceptive pills and condoms, insert IUDs (intrauterine devices) or perform permanent contraceptive surgeries.</p><p dir="ltr">Doctors and nurses are obligated to encourage women to continue unwanted pregnancies and have the large families our grandmothers were forced to have. At school, classes on the need for population controls have been replaced by those encouraging marriage and bountiful reproduction.</p><p dir="ltr">Since the physical, mental, and emotional labour around contraception is still "women's burden" in Iran, Bill 315 has significant impacts on women's lives. But of course, it will not affect all Iranian women in the same way.</p><p dir="ltr">Wealthier women can still buy contraception and get abortions on the thriving black market that has developed under Bill 315. For those who can pay for it, surgical abortion for an early pregnancy is available for between 10,000,000 and 40,000,000 Rial ($200-400), depending on where you go.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Wealthier women can still buy contraception and get abortions on the thriving black market that has developed under Bill 315.”</p><p dir="ltr">With consistent conservative attacks on women’s health and reproductive rights, responses from women’s rights groups need to take into account the different experiences of different women; too often Iranian feminists ignore the dimensions of class and race in the complex matrix of power relations that shape inequality.</p><p>A social researcher and feminist working across Iran’s north, northeast and central rural areas told me that women are particularly suffering from cuts to free contraception in these areas, where “the economy of marginalised and poor villages is totally collapsed as the result of neoliberal economic policies.”</p><p dir="ltr">“People are facing shortage of water, famine and starvation in many areas,” she explained, asking: “In this situation, how can a woman manage her fertility with no access to affordable service as well as no power of negotiation with her husband?”</p><p dir="ltr">Iran’s family planning program was one to be proud of, but the political climate towards women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights has become increasingly aggressive and oppressive. The population might be improving in terms of numbers, but the lives of women responsible for this gain are being diminished even further.</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 North-Africa West-Asia women's human rights women's health violence against women bodily autonomy Zaynab H Wed, 29 Aug 2018 08:24:06 +0000 Zaynab H 119380 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 25 alternativas feministas a los medios mainstream en España y Latinoamérica https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/25-alternativas-feministas-a-medios-mainstream-espana-latinoamerica <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>De los temas más divertidos a los más trascendentales, estas plataformas cubren la actualidad con una perspectiva feminista. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/25-feminist-alternatives-to-mainstream-media-in-spain-and-latin-america" target="_self">English</a></em></strong>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_6.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marcha del 8M en Argentina, 2018. Foto: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Segundo_Paro_Internacional_de_Mujeres_-_8M_-_Santa_Fe_-_Argentina_-_Bel%C3%A9n_Altamirano-4.jpg">Belén Altamirano</a>/Wikimedia. CC S-A 4.0. </span></span></span>Alrededor del mundo, las mujeres hacen uso de internet para expresar sus opiniones y debatir cuestiones sobre las que, históricamente, no han sido escuchadas. Entre ellas, las feministas han creado blogs para reflexionar sobre el movimiento y plataformas en las que coordinarse y organizarse. También en redes sociales hemos visto la fuerza de su activismo, por ejemplo, con el hashtag #MeToo, que tuvo más de 12 millones de post, comentarios y reacciones en Facebook en un solo día.</p><p dir="ltr">Esta revolución digital ha tenido su impacto en España y Latinoamérica, donde han surgido múltiples blogs y periódicos online con una mirada feminista. Durante la última década se han creado docenas de proyectos que muestran los diferentes puntos de vista sobre el feminismo, y hablan de aquellos grupos sociales aún infrarrepresentados en los medios mainstream.</p><p dir="ltr">Aquí, una lista de 25 medios y plataformas de España y Latinoamérica que combinan su compromiso por la información de calidad con sus valores feministas:</p><p dir="ltr">* La webs españolas <a href="https://tribunafeminista.elplural.com/"><strong>Tribuna Feminista</strong></a> y <a href="http://www.amecopress.net/"><strong>Ameco Press</strong></a> dan a las mujeres protagonistas de cambios políticos y sociales la atención que no reciben en otros medios. Además, aplican la perspectiva feminista en su información, inclusive en temas masculinizados como economía o deportes.</p><p dir="ltr">* La agencia de comunicación mexicana <a href="https://cimacnoticias.com.mx/"><strong>CIMAC</strong></a> investiga la condición y el papel de las mujeres en la sociedad para aportar datos y noticias a otros medios con el objetivo de que estos incluyan una mirada de género en lo que publican.</p><p dir="ltr">* Establecido en Argentina, pero dirigido a toda Latinoamérica, <a href="http://latfem.org/"><strong>Latfem</strong></a> es un medio feminista interseccional que, principalmente, cubre las desigualdades de género, clase y raza.</p><p dir="ltr">* <strong><a href="http://www.pikaramagazine.com/">Pikara</a> </strong>es una revista vasca con ocho años de vida que se ha convertido en un referente entre los medios alternativos. Informa sobre temas sociales y culturales, así como sobre aquellos colectivos escasamente representados por otros medios.</p><p dir="ltr">* Durante siete años, la <a href="http://revistafurias.com/"><strong>Revista Furias</strong></a> ha publicado artículos escritos por, para, y sobre transexuales, lesbianas y, en general, mujeres de Latinoamérica con el objetivo de deconstruir la sociedad patriarcal.</p><p dir="ltr">* La primera revista feminista de Ecuador, <a href="https://laperiodica.net/"><strong>La Periódica</strong></a>, es un proyecto aún en construcción que nació el año pasado para aportar una visión crítica de la actualidad.</p><p dir="ltr">* En <a href="http://www.mujeresenred.net/"><strong>Mujeres en red</strong></a>, expertas en género reflexionan sobre los feminismos y comparten recursos para activistas que van desde libros, hasta convocatorias de manifestaciones.</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/565074/40699734321_1ab096531d_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/40699734321_1ab096531d_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activistas feministas manifestándose en Madrid, España 2018. Foto: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/31112252@N00/40699734321">Gaudencio Garcinuño.</a> CC S-A 2.0. </span></span></span>* <a href="http://www.lavaca.org/mu/"><strong>Revista Mu</strong></a>, producida por la organización argentina La Vaca, analiza cada mes en profundidad un tema relevante para las argentinas, del aborto a los feminicidios, según la situación política del país.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://revistaemancipa.org/"><strong>Revista Emancipa</strong></a> publica artículos para toda Latinoamérica. Sus periodistas la <a href="https://revistaemancipa.org/emancipa-3/">describen</a> como una revista para “mostrar el punto de vista de las feministas del sur del mundo” y servir de inspiración para la transformación social.</p><p dir="ltr">* <strong><a href="http://lapoderio.com/">La Poderío</a> </strong>se ha propuesto representar a las mujeres de Andalucía (España); mujeres rurales y obreras en que han sido constantemente ignoradas por los medios convencionales.</p><p dir="ltr">* En Guatemala, la revista <a href="http://www.lacuerdaguatemala.org/"><strong>La Cuerda</strong></a> presenta los sentimientos y pensamientos de las mujeres de este país, así como propuestas políticas feministas.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://afrofeminas.com/"><strong>Afroféminas</strong></a> da voz a las mujeres negras de habla hispana. Trata temas que van desde la belleza hasta el emprendimiento, pero siempre enfocándose en las necesidades y perspectivas de las mujeres negras. También denuncia los casos de discriminación.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://www.rompiendoelsilencio.cl/"><strong>Rompiendo el silencio</strong></a> ha estado luchando por “la visibilidad política de las lesbianas y mujeres bisexuales” en Chile durante más de una década. <a href="https://sentiido.com/"><strong>Sentiido</strong></a> y <a href="http://agenciapresentes.org/"><strong>Agencia Presentes</strong></a> son otras dos plataformas online Latinoamericanas que buscan acabar con la discriminación del colectivo LGBTI contando casos particulares y experiencias personales.</p><p dir="ltr">* La juvenil revista brasileña <a href="http://azmina.com.br/"><strong>AzMina</strong></a> publica artículos de experiencias íntimas, como, por ejemplo, qué piensan las mujeres de sus vulvas, a la vez que reportajes más serios de temas como el racismo.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://malvestida.com/"><strong>Malvestida</strong></a> de México habla de belleza, moda y estilo de vida con una perspectiva inclusiva y diferente. “No encontrábamos la revista que queríamos leer, así que la creamos” es como se presentan en <a href="https://twitter.com/malvestida">Twitter</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">* La guatemalteca <a href="https://nomada.gt/category/nosotras/volcanica/"><strong>Volcánica</strong></a> (del periódico independiente Nómada), la española <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/badge/lola"><strong>Lola</strong></a> (de Buzzfeed) y la brasileña <a href="http://ovelhamag.com/"><strong>Ovelha Mag</strong></a> publican sobre temas muy diversos, desde series de televisión hasta la cultura de la violación. Son como esa amiga íntima con la que puedes compartir cotilleos y, al mismo tiempo, aquellos asuntos que te afectan profundamente.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Son como esa amiga íntima con la que puedes compartir los cotilleos y, al mismo tiempo, aquellos asuntos que te afectan profundamente”.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://ondafeminista.com/"><strong>Onda Feminista</strong></a> es un blog de noticias feminista creado en Venezuela con una sección específicamente dedicada a las emprendedoras.</p><p dir="ltr">* Otro blog de Brasil, <a href="http://www.siteladom.com.br/"><strong>Lado M</strong></a>, cuenta las historias de diferentes mujeres y escribe sobre el carácter feminista (o no) de películas, series o libros popularmente conocidos.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://cientistasfeministas.wordpress.com/"><strong>Cientistas Feministas</strong></a> (de Brasil) y <a href="http://economiafeminita.com/"><strong>Economía Feminista</strong></a> (de Argentina) publican piezas de expertas en economía, ciencia y salud para hacer estas materias más accesibles. También analizan cómo afectan a las mujeres, por ejemplo, las desigualdades económicas o las prioridades en la investigación sanitaria.</p><p dir="ltr">* La última (pero no la menos importante) no es una web, sino una serie de podcasts cuyas voces vienen de España. <a href="https://sangrefucsia.wordpress.com/"><strong>Sangre Fucsia</strong></a> cuenta la historia de las mujeres, y habla de cultura y activismo feminista. Sus creadoras se hicieron muy conocidas por &nbsp;<a href="https://sangrefucsia.wordpress.com/feminismos-reunidos/">“Feminismos Reunidos”</a>, un juego de trivial sobre las contribuciones de las mujeres a lo largo de la historia para el que recaudaron más de 70.000 euros (17 veces el presupuesto que necesitaban) en su popular campaña de <a href="https://www.verkami.com/projects/15984-feminismos-reunidos-la-revolucion-empieza-en-tu-salon-trivial-feminista">crowdfounding</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">¿Qué más añadirías a esta lista? Comparte tus sugerencias en el hilo de comentarios que hay abajo o en nuestro Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/5050oD">@5050oD</a>.</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 DemocraciaAbierta Women's rights and the media women's movements feminism everyday feminism young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Wed, 22 Aug 2018 15:17:48 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119377 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 25 feminist alternatives to mainstream media in Spain and Latin America https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/25-feminist-alternatives-to-mainstream-media-in-spain-and-latin-america <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From the most playful topics to the most serious, these platforms provide alternative coverage of current affairs – with a feminist lens. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/25-alternativas-feministas-a-medios-mainstream-espana-latinoamerica" target="_self">Español</a></strong></em>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_6.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marcha del 8M en Argentina, 2018. Foto: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Segundo_Paro_Internacional_de_Mujeres_-_8M_-_Santa_Fe_-_Argentina_-_Bel%C3%A9n_Altamirano-4.jpg">Belén Altamirano</a>/Wikimedia. CC S-A 4.0. </span></span></span>Women around the world are using the internet to express opinions and discuss topics about which, historically, they haven’t been heard. </p><p>Feminists have created blogs to reflect on the movement and platforms to coordinate and organise actions. We’ve also seen their strength on social media; in 2017, there were more than <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/metoo-more-than-12-million-facebook-posts-comments-reactions-24-hours/">12 million #MeToo posts, comments and reactions in just one day</a> on Facebook.</p><p dir="ltr">This digital revolution has had an impact in Spain and Latin America too, where there are many blogs and online newspapers with feminist perspectives. Dozens of projects launched over the last decade represent diverse points of view on feminisms, and issues and communities still underrepresented in mainstream media.</p><p dir="ltr">Here are 25 media platforms from Spain and Latin America that combine their commitment to quality information with feminist values:</p><p dir="ltr">* The Spanish <a href="https://tribunafeminista.elplural.com/"><strong>Tribuna Feminista</strong></a> and <a href="http://www.amecopress.net/"><strong>Ameco Press</strong></a> give women leading political and social change the attention they don’t receive from other media. They apply a feminist lens to their reporting, including on topics like economics and sports.</p><p dir="ltr">* The Mexican communication agency <a href="https://cimacnoticias.com.mx/"><strong>CIMAC</strong></a> investigates the conditions and roles of women in society to provide data and news to other media outlets so that they too can include feminist perspectives in what they publish.</p><p dir="ltr">* Based in Argentina, but publishing articles from across Latin America, <a href="http://latfem.org/"><strong>Latfem</strong></a> is a intersectional feminist media platform covering gender, class and racial inequalities.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://www.pikaramagazine.com/"><strong>Pikara</strong></a> is an eight-year-old Basque magazine that has become a key reference point in the independent media landscape covering a range of cultural and social issues. It also focuses on communities under-represented by other media.</p><p dir="ltr">* For seven years, <a href="http://revistafurias.com/"><strong>Revista Furias</strong></a> has published critical articles by, for and about Latin American women, trans and lesbians, deconstructing patriarchal societies.</p><p dir="ltr">* Ecuador’s first feminist magazine, <a href="https://laperiodica.net/"><strong>La Periódica</strong></a>, is a more recent project. It launched last year to provide critical coverage on current affairs and other topics.</p><p>* On <a href="http://www.mujeresenred.net/"><strong>Mujeres en red</strong></a>, women experts on gender issues reflect on feminisms and share resources, from books to calls for protest marches and demonstrations.</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/565074/40699734321_1ab096531d_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/40699734321_1ab096531d_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activistas feministas manifestándose en Madrid, España 2018. Foto: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/31112252@N00/40699734321">Gaudencio Garcinuño.</a> CC S-A 2.0. </span></span></span>* <a href="http://www.lavaca.org/mu/"><strong>Revista Mu</strong></a> is produced by the Argentinian organisation La Vaca. Each month, it looks in-depth at a different topic, from abortion rights to femicides, depending on ongoing political debates in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://revistaemancipa.org/"><strong>Revista Emancipa</strong></a> publishes articles from across Latin America. Their journalists <a href="https://revistaemancipa.org/emancipa-3/">describe it</a> as a magazine to “show the point of view of feminists from the South of the world” and inspire social transformation.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://lapoderio.com/"><strong>La Poderío</strong></a> is committed to representing Andalusian women – rural and worker women in Spain who have been consistently ignored by mainstream media.</p><p dir="ltr">* In Guatemala, the magazine <a href="http://www.lacuerdaguatemala.org/"><strong>La Cuerda</strong></a> represents the feelings and thoughts of women in that country, and presents feminist political proposals too.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://afrofeminas.com/"><strong>Afroféminas</strong></a> gives voice to Spanish-speaking black women. It deals with topics ranging from beauty to entrepreneurship, but always focusing on the needs and perspectives of black women, as well as reporting on discrimination against them.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://www.rompiendoelsilencio.cl/"><strong>Rompiendo el silencio</strong></a> has been fighting for “the political visibility of lesbian and bisexual” women in Chile for more than a decade. <a href="https://sentiido.com/"><strong>Sentiido</strong></a> and <a href="http://agenciapresentes.org/"><strong>Agencia Presentes</strong></a> are two other Latin American platforms focused on ending anti-LGBTI discrimination with content explaining personal experiences.</p><p dir="ltr">* Youthful Brazilian magazine <a href="http://azmina.com.br/"><strong>AzMina</strong></a> publishes articles about intimate experiences, like how women see their vulvas, as well as reports on topics like racism.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://malvestida.com/"><strong>Malvestida</strong></a> from Mexico, covers beauty, fashion and lifestyle with an alternative, inclusive perspective. “We couldn’t find the magazine we wanted to read, so we made it,” is how they introduce themselves on <a href="https://twitter.com/malvestida">Twitter</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://nomada.gt/category/nosotras/volcanica/"><strong>Volcánica</strong></a>, a section of the Guatemalan independent media platform Nómada, Spanish <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/badge/lola"><strong>Lola</strong></a> (from platform Buzzfeed) and Brazilian <a href="http://ovelhamag.com/"><strong>Ovelha Mag</strong></a> cover topics from mainstream TV series to rape culture. They are like that good friend with whom you can share gossip and, at the same time, the issues that affect you most deeply.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“They are like that good friend with whom you can share gossip and, at the same time, the issues that affect you most deeply.”</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="http://ondafeminista.com/"><strong>Onda Feminista</strong></a> is a feminist news blog founded in Venezuela with a section specifically focused on women entrepreneurs.</p><p dir="ltr">* Another blog from Brazil, <a href="http://www.siteladom.com.br/"><strong>Lado M</strong></a>, tells the stories of diverse women and writes about the feminist (or not) characters of popular films, TV series or books.</p><p dir="ltr">* <a href="https://cientistasfeministas.wordpress.com/"><strong>Cientistas Feministas</strong></a> (from Brazil) and <a href="http://economiafeminita.com/"><strong>Economía Feminista</strong></a> (Argentina), publish writing from women experts in economics, science and health to make these subjects more accessible and analyse how women are affected by, for example, economic inequalities or health research priorities.</p><p dir="ltr">* Last (but not least) is not a website, but a podcast series from Spain. <a href="https://sangrefucsia.wordpress.com/"><strong>Sangre Fucsia</strong></a> covers women’s history and other topics related to culture and feminist activism. Its creators are also known for <a href="https://sangrefucsia.wordpress.com/feminismos-reunidos/">“Feminismos Reunidos”</a>, a trivia game about women’s contributions throughout history that raised more than €70,000 (17 times the budget they needed) through a hugely popular <a href="https://www.verkami.com/projects/15984-feminismos-reunidos-la-revolucion-empieza-en-tu-salon-trivial-feminista">crowdfunding</a> campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">What would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the comment thread below, or on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/5050oD">@5050oD</a>.</p><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 Women's rights and the media women's movements feminism women's work young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Wed, 22 Aug 2018 09:37:07 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119345 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Cómo las periodistas feministas están sacudiendo el panorama mediático en español https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/como-las-periodistas-feministas-sacuden-los-medios-en-espa%C3%B1ol <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Cada vez nacen más medios y proyectos que informan de manera alternativa sobre diversos temas, desde economía hasta belleza. Aunque su sostenibilidad económica sigue siendo un reto. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/how-feminist-journalists-are-shaking-up-spanish-language-media" target="_self">English.</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (2)_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (2)_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="268" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>La nueva revista online española La Poderío. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>El año pasado tuve lo que Lucía Lijtmaer, periodista española, llama <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/cultura/libros/Manifiesto-chicas-listas_0_645336373.html">el Golpe en la Cabeza</a>: un momento de lucidez en el que te das cuenta de qué es realmente el feminismo y por qué aún lo necesitamos.</p><p dir="ltr">De repente conecté todas las experiencias de mi vida que me habían hecho sentir impotente por ser mujer: desde cuando mis padres no me dejaban salir con una minifalda “porque me podían violar” hasta el hecho de que, aunque me hubiese encantado hacerlo, no había viajado sola porque tenía miedo de lo que me pudiera pasar.</p><p dir="ltr">Estaba harta. En ese momento me convertí en activista feminista porque es indignante que la mitad de la población haya sido y sea discriminada, no importa dónde. Me pregunté por qué no me había dado cuenta de esto antes y, como periodista, solo había una explicación posible para mí: la falta de información y educación en feminismo.</p><p>Así es como, debido a mi necesidad de explicar qué es el feminismo y por qué aún nos hace falta, decidí crear mi propio medio feminista, <a href="http://proyectovmagazine.com">Proyecto V</a>. Mi intención es informar sobre las desigualdades en los llamados países desarrollados, donde hemos alcanzado una igualdad <em>legal</em>, pero no <em>real</em>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (3).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (3).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nosotras reímos, nosotras decidimos, enero 2018. Foto: Rocío Ros. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>El primer video-reportaje de Proyecto V, estrenado en enero, muestra estas desigualdades centrándose en nuestro sentido del humor. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy3iH0QQnvI"><em>Nosotras reímos, nosotras decidimos</em></a> explica cómo las mujeres han sido discriminadas en el humor y cuáles son las significativas diferencias entre el humor feminista y el que normalmente consumimos.</p><p dir="ltr">La mayor dificultad al emprender este camino es, sin duda, ser financieramente sostenible, ya que mis recursos son muy limitados. Muchos proyectos mediáticos con perspectiva feminista comparten esta problemática.</p><p dir="ltr">Lanzar un medio independiente es ya complicado porque es un sector muy precario. Pero además, lo hacemos priorizando la pluralidad y el rigor, evitando el sensacionalismo y el clickbait, y limitando la publicidad para ser coherentes con nuestros valores. Esto, al final, reduce nuestras posibilidades de financiación en comparación con los medios convencionales.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Priorizamos la pluralidad y el rigor, evitamos el sensacionalismo y el clickbait, y limitamos la publicidad para ser coherentes con nuestros valores”.</p><p dir="ltr">Activistas y profesionales mantienen muchas de estas plataformas feministas a cambio de poca (o ninguna) remuneración. Este es el caso de la mayoría de quienes he entrevistado o consultado online. Lo que reciben a cambio es la satisfacción de representar realidades que otros medios ignoran, así como contar con lectores leales que comparten sus ideales.</p><p dir="ltr">Aunque hay nuevas plataformas digitales creadas por periodistas feministas en España y Latinoamérica que han conseguido ser económicamente viables y dar una cobertura alternativa a diversos temas, incluidos aquellos típicamente escritos por y &nbsp;para hombres, como economía o deportes.</p><p dir="ltr">Para ello, han escrito sobre colectivos y puntos de vista infrarrepresentados, y han buscado formas creativas de financiar sus proyectos.</p><p><a href="http://pikaramagazine.com">Pikara</a>, la revista feminista vasca, es un ejemplo de éxito ya que ha llegado a ser económicamente viable desde su creación hace ocho años. Sus diferentes formas de financiación -desde subvenciones públicas, suscriptores, donantes, venta online y publicidad- son, en parte, la clave.</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/565074/mediafemspa (6).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (6).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June Fernández. Foto: screenshot de <a href="https://vimeo.com/130958626">video entrevista.</a> Credit: Mugarik Gabe. CC 2.0.</span></span></span>Al contrario que otros medios convencionales, la publicidad solo representa el 10 % de la financiación de Pikara. La revista online también limita el tipo de empresas que pueden publicitarse en ella. “Limitamos a grandes empresas, bancos… Además, los anuncios no pueden ser sexistas”, explica June Fernández, una de las fundadoras de la revista.</p><p dir="ltr">Las restricciones a los anunciantes permiten a Pikara ser consecuente con sus ideales de igualdad, diversidad y pluralidad, valores que les han convertido en un medio alternativo de referencia y les han generado una comunidad de lectores fieles que creen en su trabajo. “Para los medios independientes lo que importa es el compromiso con los lectores y buscar una coherencia”, afirma Fernández.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Para los medios independientes lo que importa es el compromiso con los lectores y buscar una coherencia”</p><p dir="ltr">Haberse adaptado a las nuevas formas de comunicación digital es otra de las claves del éxito de Pikara. “Nuestra revista fue la primera revista feminista nativa digital en España que usó el lenguaje de las redes sociales, un medio 3.0” añade Fernández, refiriéndose a su pronto y prolífico uso de redes como Facebook, donde actualmente cuentan con 118.000 seguidores.</p><p dir="ltr">Pikara nació de la necesidad de sus periodistas de aplicar una perspectiva feminista sobre la información de actualidad. Otros medios españoles también comparten esta meta, como los periódicos digitales <a href="https://tribunafeminista.elplural.com/">Tribuna Feminista</a> y <a href="http://www.mujeresenred.net/">Mujeres en red</a> de España, o las webs <a href="http://latfem.org/">Latfem</a>, <a href="https://laperiodica.net/">La Periódica</a> y <a href="http://www.lacuerdaguatemala.org/">La Cuerda</a> de América Latina.</p><p dir="ltr">Entre las plataformas feministas que han surgido en la última década también hay blogs para alzar una voz contra la violencia machista y llamar a la acción, como los de <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/autores/barbijaputa/">Barbijaputa</a>, <a href="http://www.locarconio.com/">Locas del coño</a>, <a href="http://mujeresenlucha.es/">Mujeres en Lucha</a> y <a href="https://www.laquearde.org/">La que arde</a>, y espacios digitales donde reflexionar sobre feminismos, sexualidad e identidades, como <a href="http://www.proyecto-kahlo.com/">Proyecto Kahlo</a> y <a href="https://lassimones.org/">Las Simones</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">También hay plataformas que buscan cubrir huecos informativos que otros medios, tanto mainstream, como feministas, han dejado. <a href="http://lapoderio.com/">La Poderío</a> es una nueva revista feminista española que arrancó en abril con la intención de representar a las andaluzas, mujeres rurales y obreras que han sido constantemente ignoradas en los medios.</p><p dir="ltr">Uno de sus primeros artículos trata sobre <a href="http://lapoderio.com/2018/04/11/jornaleras-de-huelva-el-sabor-amargo-de-de-los-frutos-rojos/">las jornaleras explotadas en los campos de fresas de Huelva (Andalucía)</a>. Este caso se hizo internacionalmente conocido más tarde, después de que Correctiv, un colectivo alemán dedicado al periodismo de investigación, publicara otro <a href="https://correctiv.org/en/blog/2018/04/30/rape-in-the-fields/">artículo que habla de agresiones sexuales a estas trabajadoras</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (1).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trabajadora en el campo, Andalucía. Foto: screenshot from <a href="https://vimeo.com/97816545">Red de Mujeres Urbanas y Andaluzas video.</a> Credit: Producciones Singulares. CC S-A 4.0.</span></span></span>La Poderío atrajo a miles de seguidores en redes sociales meses antes de publicar su primera pieza; a principios de abril su página de Facebook ya contaba con más de 5.900 seguidores.</p><p dir="ltr">“Esta gran bienvenida que tuvimos en tan poco tiempo para nosotras significó que el feminismo andaluz siempre ha estado ahí, solo había que ponerle un nombre” concluye Rocío Santos Gil, una de las periodistas fundadoras de la revista.</p><p dir="ltr">Cuando le pregunto por otros temas poco tratados en los medios feministas, Santos explica que, personalmente, ella siente que estos espacios “tienden a hablar de identidades, un tema que muy interesante, pero a mí me gustaría encontrar más información que hablara de lo que nos afecta como colectivo”.</p><p dir="ltr">Fernández hace una comparación similar. En Pikara les incomoda comprobar que los textos más leídos son los que hablan de temas que afectan a “mujeres blancas, urbanas, de clase media” (el perfil de la mayoría de sus lectoras) porque eso “invisibiliza otras propuestas editoriales”.</p><p dir="ltr">“Por ejemplo, un artículo [en Pikara] sobre mujeres refugiadas en el Líbano puede tener 500 visitas y otro sobre poliamor 30.000”, afirma.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Un artículo sobre mujeres refugiadas en el Líbano puede tener 500 visitas y otro sobre poliamor 30.000”.</p><p dir="ltr">Al otro lado del Atlántico, en Argentina, la plataforma <a href="http://economiafeminita.com/">Economía Feminista</a> cubre un hueco informativo diferente. Su objetivo es divulgar y hacer más accesibles la economía y la ciencia. Expertas en economía, ciencia y salud explican estos temas masculinizados, que suelen estar escritos por y para hombres.</p><p dir="ltr">“Estamos unidas por la desigualdad, para poner datos y argumentos y hacer más accesibles estos temas académicos”, cuenta Mercedes D’Alessandro, creadora de la plataforma.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (4).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (4).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="227" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>La plataforma digital Economía Femini(s)ta. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>D’Alessandro cree que son necesarios más mujeres y más feminismo en los medios para hablar de estas temáticas. “Cuando leo una nota sobre economía siempre está escrita por un hombre. No solo necesitamos mujeres hablando del impacto de género en la economía, también más mujeres analizando la economía en general” asegura.</p><p dir="ltr">Con el objetivo de generar más interés alrededor de cuestiones sobre género y economía es fundamental que más personas sean capaces de entenderlas y escribir sobre ellas, para evitar así que no sean solo “lectores pasivos” añade D’Alessandro.</p><p dir="ltr">“Yo me gradué en economía y en toda la carrera no tuvimos una sola materia de economía feminista; ¿cómo le vamos a pedir a un economista que sepa algo que ni siquiera está en su currículum de estudios?”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“No solo necesitamos mujeres hablando del impacto de género en la economía, también más mujeres analizando la economía en general”.</p><p dir="ltr">La perspectiva feminista no sólo es necesaria en temas masculinizados. La belleza y la moda son temas habitualmente copados por mujeres que también necesitan esta mirada según afirma Alejandra Higareda desde México, quien en 2016 creó la revista <a href="http://malvestida.com/">Malvestida</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Desde su punto de vista, las revistas para mujeres “reproducen estereotipos” demasiado a menudo y dejan de lado otros asuntos importantes “como política, ciencia o deportes”. Higareda solía escribir para este tipo de revistas y se dio cuenta de que no se identificaba con sus propios artículos.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (5).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (5).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="274" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Revista digital Malvestida. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>“Escribía sobre cómo quitarse la celulitis y pensaba: ‘¿Quién se cree esto?’, ‘¿a qué mujeres les estamos hablando?’” cuenta.</p><p dir="ltr">En Malvestida, Higareda también escribe sobre belleza y moda, pero con una perspectiva más inclusiva. “Tenemos artículos sobre por qué una chica ha decidido no volver a rasurarse; eso para nosotras es una forma de belleza”.</p><p dir="ltr">Higareda reconoce que artículos sobre “empoderamiento femenino” o “body positive” son más habituales ahora en las grandes revistas internacionales de moda, pero remarca que estas publicaciones “siempre tendrán lineas que no podrán cruzar”.</p><p dir="ltr">Asegura que las personas que escriben y leen estas masivas y comerciales publicaciones se enfrentan a “una burocracia y una estructura gigantes que, al final, responden ante una empresa multimillonaria manejada por hombres”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Tenemos artículos sobre por qué una chica ha decidido no volver a rasurarse; eso para nosotras es una forma de belleza”.</p><p dir="ltr">Incluso si llegase el día en el que la mayoría de los grandes medios incluyen la perspectiva feminista en su línea editorial y en su estructura empresarial, eso no significaría que ya no nos hiciesen falta medios feministas independientes.</p><p dir="ltr">El reto para quienes funden y mantengan medios independientes será, entonces, seguir buscando aquellos grupos y realidades olvidadas por el resto de los medios, así como continuar defendiendo la igualdad y estimulando el pensamiento crítico.</p><p dir="ltr">Más allá de esta posibilidad, las creadoras de medios independientes actuales debemos adaptarnos al competitivo y cambiante mundo de la información digital, y buscar formas creativas de financiar nuestros proyectos para que el peso de sostenerlos no siga cayendo sobre periodistas y activistas feministas poco o no remuneradas.</p><p dir="ltr">Nuestro objetivo común, tanto para los movimientos feministas, como los medios feministas en español, debe ser crear más plataformas con mejores recursos que nos puedan informar de cualquier temática desde una perspectiva feminista e interseccional que represente a todos los colectivos.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </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 DemocraciaAbierta Equality Women's rights and the media women's movements feminism women's work young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:18:10 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119363 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How feminist journalists are shaking up the Spanish language media https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/how-feminist-journalists-are-shaking-up-spanish-language-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">A growing number of new media projects are providing alternative coverage of topics from economics to beauty. But the challenge of financial sustainability remains. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/como-las-periodistas-feministas-sacuden-los-medios-en-espa%C3%B1ol" target="_self">Español.</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (2)_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (2)_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="268" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>La nueva revista online española La Poderío. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>Last year, I had what Lucía Lijtmaer, a Spanish feminist journalist, calls a golpe en la cabeza (<a href="https://www.eldiario.es/cultura/libros/Manifiesto-chicas-listas_0_645336373.html">“a blow to the head”</a>): a moment of clarity when you realise what feminism actually is and why we need it.</p><p>I suddenly connected all of the experiences in my life that had made me feel powerless because I am a woman: from when my parents wouldn’t let me go out with a skirt on ‘because I could be raped’ to the fact that – even though I really wanted to – I wouldn’t travel alone because I was scared of what could happen to me.</p><p dir="ltr">I was fed up. At that moment, I became a feminist activist because it is outrageous that half of the population is still discriminated against, no matter when or where in the world. I asked: Why hadn’t I realised this before? As a journalist, there was only one possible answer for me: the lack of information and education about feminism.</p><p dir="ltr">That’s how, due to my determination to explain what is feminism and why we still need it, I decided to create my own feminist media project, called <a href="http://proyectovmagazine.com">Proyecto V</a>. With this, my aim is to inform people about inequalities in so-called ‘developed’ countries – where we have reached <em>legal</em> gender equality, but not <em>real</em> equality.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (3).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (3).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nosotras reímos, nosotras decidimos, enero 2018. Foto: Rocío Ros. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Proyecto V’s first video-report, launched in January, presents these inequalities focusing on our sense of humour. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy3iH0QQnvI"><em>Nosotras reímos, nosotras decidimos</em></a> (We laugh, we decide) explains how women have been discriminated against in humour, and the significant differences between feminist humour and what we usually consume.</p><p dir="ltr">The main difficulty in taking this entrepreneurial path is, without a doubt, making it financially sustainable, as my resources are very limited. Many media projects with feminist perspectives share this problem.</p><p dir="ltr">Launching an independent media business is a very precarious activity. In addition, we do this prioritising pluralism and accuracy, avoiding sensationalism and clickbait, and limiting advertising to be coherent with our values. This, in the end, reduces our financing possibilities in comparison with conventional, commercial media.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We prioritise pluralism and accuracy, avoid sensationalism and clickbait, and limit advertising to be coherent with our values.”</p><p dir="ltr">Activists and professionals maintain many feminist communication platforms receiving little (or no) remuneration. This was the case for most of those I interviewed or read about online. What they get in return is the satisfaction of representing realities that other media ignore, and loyal readers that share their ideals.</p><p dir="ltr">Though there are new digital platforms, launched by feminist journalists in Spain and Latin America, that have succeeded in becoming economically viable while producing alternative coverage of diverse topics, including those typically written about by and for men, like economics or sports.</p><p dir="ltr">To do this, they’ve focused on finding and covering underrepresented angles and groups, as well as creative ways of funding their projects.</p><p><a href="http://pikaramagazine.com">Pikara</a>, a Basque feminist magazine, is an example of such success. Unlike many other projects, it’s managed to become economically viable since its launch eight years ago. Its different funding sources – from public subsidies, subscribers, donors, its online shop and advertisers – are a major part of this.</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/565074/mediafemspa (6).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (6).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June Fernández. Foto: screenshot de <a href="https://vimeo.com/130958626">video entrevista.</a> Credit: Mugarik Gabe. CC 2.0.</span></span></span>Unlike conventional media outlets, advertising represents only around 10% of Pikara’s funding. The online magazine also limits the kinds of businesses that can advertise on its platform. “We limit [adverts from] big companies, banks… Besides, adverts can’t be sexist,” said June Fernandez, one of the magazine’s founders.</p><p dir="ltr">Restrictions on ads allow Pikara to be consistent with its ideals of equality, diversity and plurality; these ideals have made them a leader in the independent, alternative media landscape and have generated a loyal readership that trusts their work.</p><p dir="ltr">“For independent media, what is important is to commit to our readers and try to be coherent,” Fernandez told me.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“For independent media, what is important is to commit to our readers and try to be coherent.”</p><p dir="ltr">Adapting to new, digital ways of communication is another of Pikara’s keys to success. “Our magazine was the first feminist digital-native media in Spain that used social media language, a 3.0 media,” added Fernández, referring to its early and prolific use of platforms like Facebook, where it now has 118,000 followers.</p><p dir="ltr">Pikara grew out of its journalists’ determination to apply a feminist lens to reporting about current affairs. Other Spanish feminist media share this goal, including the online newspapers <a href="https://tribunafeminista.elplural.com/">Tribuna Feminista</a> and <a href="http://www.mujeresenred.net/">Mujeres en red</a> from Spain, or the websites <a href="http://latfem.org/">Latfem</a>, <a href="https://laperiodica.net/">La Periódica</a> and <a href="http://www.lacuerdaguatemala.org/">La Cuerda</a> from Latin America.</p><p dir="ltr">Other feminist platforms that emerged over the last decade include blogs speaking out against gender violence and calling for action, like <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/autores/barbijaputa/">Barbijaputa</a>, <a href="http://www.locarconio.com/">Locas del coño</a>, <a href="http://mujeresenlucha.es/">Mujeres en Lucha</a> and <a href="https://www.laquearde.org/">La que arde</a>, and digital spaces to reflect on feminisms, sexualities and identities, like <a href="http://www.proyecto-kahlo.com/">Proyecto Kahlo</a> and <a href="https://lassimones.org/">Las Simones</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">There are also platforms that seek specifically to cover information gaps left by other mainstream and feminist news media. <a href="http://lapoderio.com/">La Poderío</a> is a new feminist magazine from Spain which launched in April with the aim is to represent Andalusian women – rural and worker women who have been largely ignored by other media.</p><p dir="ltr">One of their first pieces was about <a href="http://lapoderio.com/2018/04/11/jornaleras-de-huelva-el-sabor-amargo-de-de-los-frutos-rojos/">women workers abused in the strawberry fields of Huelva (Andalucía)</a>. This case became known internationally only later on, after <a href="https://correctiv.org/en/blog/2018/04/30/rape-in-the-fields/">a report published by the German investigative journalism collective Correctiv</a>, about sexual aggressions against these workers.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (1).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trabajadora en el campo, Andalucía. Foto: screenshot from <a href="https://vimeo.com/97816545">Red de Mujeres Urbanas y Andaluzas video.</a> Credit: Producciones Singulares. CC S-A 4.0.</span></span></span>La Poderío attracted thousands of social media followers months before publishing its first piece – their Facebook page had more than 5,900 followers in early April.</p><p dir="ltr">“This big welcome we had in a short time means, for us, that Andalusian feminism was always there, we just needed to name it,” Rocío Santos Gil, one of the magazine’s founding journalists, told me.</p><p dir="ltr">When asked about other topics undercovered by feminist media, Santos said that personally she feels these spaces “tend to talk about identities, a very interesting topic, but I would like to find more information that affects us as a collective.”</p><p dir="ltr">Fernández makes a similar comparison. Pikara, she said, has seen that its most read texts are about topics that affect “white, urban, middle-class women” – the profile of the majority of its readers – and that “makes invisible” other editorial proposals.</p><p dir="ltr">“For example, an article [on Pikara] about refugee women in Lebanon may have 500 visits, and another about polyamory 30,000,” she said.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“An article about refugee women in Lebanon may have 500 visits, and another about polyamory 30,000.”</p><p dir="ltr">On the other side of the Atlantic, in Argentina, the platform <a href="http://economiafeminita.com/">Economía Feminista</a> covers a different information gap. It focuses on making complicated economics and science topics more accessible. Women experts on economics, science and health explain these ‘masculinised’ topics that are usually written about by and for men.</p><p dir="ltr">“We are united by the [issue of] inequality, to provide data and arguments and make more accessible these academic topics,” said Mercedes D’Alessandro, the platform’s creator.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (4).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (4).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="227" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>La plataforma digital Economía Femini(s)ta. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>D’Alessandro believes that more women and more feminism are needed in the media to talk about these topics. “When I read a piece about economics it is always written by a man. We don’t just need women talking about the gender impact of the economy, but also women analysing the economy in general,” she told me.</p><p dir="ltr">In order to generate more interest around issues related to gender and the economy, it’s fundamental that more people are able to understand and write about them, so that they are not just “passive readers,” D’Alessandro added.</p><p dir="ltr">“I graduated in economics and, throughout the whole degree, I didn’t have one subject about feminist economy; how are we going to ask an economist to know [about] something that is not even in their studies curriculum?”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We don’t just need women talking about the gender impact of the economy, but also women analysing the economy in general.”</p><p dir="ltr">A feminist perspective is not only necessary for such masculinised topics. Beauty and fashion are topics that are often written about by women that also need this lens, said Alejandra Higareda in Mexico, who in 2016 created the magazine <a href="http://malvestida.com/">Malvestida</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">From her point of view, magazines for women too often “reproduce stereotypes” and leave aside other important topics “like politics, science or sports.” Writing for these magazines herself, Higareda found that she didn’t identify with her own articles.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (5).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/mediafemspa (5).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="274" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Revista digital Malvestida. Foto: Screenshot, August 2018.</span></span></span>She said: “I wrote about how to remove cellulite and thought ‘who believes in this?’, ‘which women are we speaking to?’”</p><p dir="ltr">For Malvestida (which means ‘badly dressed’), Higareda also writes about beauty and fashion, but with a more inclusive perspective. “We have articles about why a woman decided not to shave her body again; that’s a kind of beauty for us.”</p><p dir="ltr">Higareda noted that ‘women’s empowerment’ or ‘body positive’ articles are now more common in mainstream, international fashion magazines, but she said these publications “will always have some lines that they can’t cross.”</p><p dir="ltr">“In the end,” she said, writers and readers of these large, commercial publications are often dealing with “a giant bureaucracy and structure that answers to a multimillionaire enterprise managed by men.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We have articles about why a woman decided not to shave her body again; that’s a kind of beauty for us.”</p><p dir="ltr">Even if one day mass media includes feminist perspectives in their editorial plans and business structures, that doesn’t mean that the need for independent and feminist media will disappear.</p><p dir="ltr">The challenge for those who fund and create independent media would be to keep looking for groups and realities forgotten by the rest of the media, in order to continuously defend equality and stimulate critical thinking.</p><p dir="ltr">Independent media creators must also adapt to the competitive and changing world of digital information – and look for creative ways of funding projects so that the burden of sustaining them does not continue to fall on non-remunerated (or poorly-remunerated) feminist journalists.</p><p dir="ltr">Our common goal, for feminist movements and Spanish-language feminist media, must be to have more and better-resourced platforms with these perspectives to inform us on all topics of interest. These projects must also be intersectional in their approach, writing about the realities of all groups.</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 Women's rights and the media feminism women's work young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Tue, 21 Aug 2018 09:06:32 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119343 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tackling the trolls: how women are fighting back against online bullies https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sian-norris/tackling-trolls-how-women-fighting-back-online-bullies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Refusing to be silent, women are leading research, campaigns and new strategies to stop trolls and create safer online spaces.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Some of the abuse the author received on Facebook in 2012. Image: screenshot.</span></span></span>Back in 2012, I went to the police to report an incident of online harassment. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/09/closure-of-hooters-breastaurant-welcome">A man</a> had called me an obscene name, threatened to find out where I lived in order to post my details on 4Chan, and wrote “she must pay!!”. He accepted a caution.</p><p dir="ltr">This wasn’t my first incident of online abuse.</p><p dir="ltr">There was the rising academic and popular environmentalist who commented on everything I wrote, in a way that amounted to sustained harassment. When I wrote a piece on abortion rights, he called me a “fucking baby killer.”</p><p dir="ltr">In recent years, I’ve been told to <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-2/#topanchor">drink floor polish</a> and <a href="http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2012/07/i-hope-some-c-rapes-you-online.html">that I need to be raped</a>. I’ve been repeatedly called a bitch and a cunt. People have responded to my articles with images of dead babies. Last month, I was told to “shut my libtard cock-holster’.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/03/caroline-criado-perez-rape-threats-continue">Feminist activists </a>have received endless abuse leaving some with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms. I know of women who have received <a href="https://longreads.com/2018/03/28/who-does-she-think-she-is/">bomb threats</a>; friends who have had their faces Photoshopped onto obscene images.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“When I wrote a piece on abortion rights, he called me a “fucking baby killer.”</p><p dir="ltr">Women, however, are refusing to be silent, striking back against online abuse and taking action to tackle the trolls. From <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/intimidation-in-public-life">governments</a> to <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-1/#topanchor">NGOs</a> and grassroots <a href="http://www.troll-busters.com/">activists</a>, there is a growing effort to respond to online harassment.</p><p dir="ltr">One campaign is called <a href="https://yoursosteam.wordpress.com/about/">Troll Busters</a>. Founded in 2014, the project offers practical advice and support to journalists experiencing online abuse. It was set up with a clear message: “the trolls don’t have to win. We have your back!”</p><p dir="ltr">For founder Michelle Ferrier, this project is a chance to “create an anti-<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/gamergate-scandal-erupts-video-game-community">Gamergate</a>”. Gamergate was the notorious and vicious online attacks co-ordinated by Men’s Rights Activists against women in the gaming industry.</p><p dir="ltr">Ferrier had been targeted by an increasingly violent stalker ten years previously, when a columnist for a Florida newspaper. She’s also experienced abuse online.</p><p dir="ltr">“I noticed that attacks on women online were increasing,” she told me recently, over Skype. “It wasn’t just me who was being attacked – it was other women, and other women of colour, journalists.”</p><p dir="ltr">“I wanted to try and stem the hate that I had seen happening online around the Gamergate movement,” Ferrier continued. “And to try and find some way of helping those women.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Our strategy is to find and address online attacks when they’re happening, so we can diminish the severity and the pile-on effect,” Ferrier told me.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Our strategy is to find and address online attacks when they’re happening, so we can diminish the severity and the pile-on effect.”</p><p dir="ltr">“We do that in two ways. We have a reporting mechanism, so people can contact us and we can go and operate in their social media feed,” Ferrier said.</p><p dir="ltr">“And we use social media monitoring and machine learning to find instances where journalists are under attack, and get their consent to operate in their feed.”</p><p dir="ltr">Troll Busters helps journalists deal with attacks, but also offers “one-on-one support to help them gather evidence for law enforcement, and to deal with management so they can restore their reputations and be protected from further abuse,” Ferrier said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (2).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (2).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="219" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Troll Busters project website. Image: screenshot.</span></span></span>Recently, 50.50’s Lara Whyte experienced exactly the kind of pile-on that Troll Busters aims to tackle and diffuse. Following her report on a men's rights conference in London, she was subject to a coordinated online attacks.</p><p dir="ltr">"I suddenly had loads of new followers who had done so for the explicit purpose of abusing me, or liking or commenting on others doing so,” Whyte told me. “I felt threatened because fringe elements of the MRA movement can be explicitly violent,”</p><p dir="ltr">“Online, there was a real pack mentality and none of the empathy or reasonableness that I had experienced in some of my offline interactions with individuals at the conference,” she added.</p><p dir="ltr">Comments ranged from "telling me how stupid I was, or how much of a liar I was, and lots of words and comments that were specifically targeted in order to upset me as much as possible,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (1).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="280" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>One of the comments directed at Whyte. Image: screenshot. </span></span></span>“I felt that this group of men who feel disempowered and furious were taking revenge, collectively, in a space where they still have a disproportionate amount of power – the internet," Whyte added.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I felt that this group of men who feel disempowered and furious were taking revenge, collectively, in a space where they still have a disproportionate amount of power – the internet."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, the <a href="http://www.lwn.org.uk/">Labour Women’s Network</a> is currently putting together guidance on how to cope with trolling. This is, in part, a response to how during the 2017 election, women in all political parties were subject to torrents of online abuse.</p><p dir="ltr">One Labour MP received a staggering <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/05/diane-abbott-more-abused-than-any-other-mps-during-election">half of all abuse</a> sent on social media – Diane Abbott. The abuse sent to her was a toxic mix of racism and misogyny.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The discovery that Abbott received half of all the abuse sent to women MPs during the 2017 election campaign was made by <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/">Amnesty International</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The charity commissioned research to better understand the treatment of women on Twitter (declaration: I was interviewed about my own experience as part of this research). Their report, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-1/#topanchor">Toxic Twitter</a>, was a damning indictment of the social media giant’s failure to protect women users.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (3).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/online abuse (3).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Diana Abbott speaking at Corbyn leadership rally, 2016. Photo: <a href="https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diane_Abbot_Corbyn_leadership_rally_August_2016.jpg">Paul NUK.</a> CC 2.0.</span></span></span>Amnesty researcher Azmina Dhrodia said they approached online abuse from a human rights perspective to “ask what are the government’s obligations to protect women from violence online, and what responsibilities social media companies have to make sure women aren’t experiencing abuse on their platforms.”</p><p dir="ltr">“We wanted to understand any patterns or trends of how women experience abuse online,” she told me, “in order to use human rights standards to look at solutions.”</p><p dir="ltr">Their <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-5/#topanchor">research</a> warned that online abuse can have a “chilling effect on women speaking out online”.</p><p dir="ltr">The report <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-5/#topanchor">warned</a> that the “silencing and censoring impact of violence and abuse against women on Twitter can have far-reaching and harmful repercussions on how younger women, women from marginalised communities, and future generations fully exercise their right to participate in public life.”</p><p dir="ltr">“When women experience abuse online,” Azmina told me, “it can negate the future of women and girls engaging in civic and political spaces. We don’t want women forced into silence, we want to see women able to express themselves in a free and equal way.”</p><p dir="ltr">Amnesty is now campaigning to get Twitter to improve its recording of women’s reports of abuse, and be more transparent about how they moderate these reports.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We don’t want women forced into silence, we want to see women able to express themselves in a free and equal way.”</p><p dir="ltr">In March, a UK government report on <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/intimidation-in-public-life">Intimidation In Public Life</a> said: “the intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, and others in public life, has become a threat to the diversity, integrity, and vibrancy of representative democracy in the UK”.</p><p dir="ltr">The report reviewed the “intimidation of parliamentary candidates in July 2017” when it said that “a significant proportion of candidates... experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation.”</p><p dir="ltr">Its authors argued “that our political culture can be protected from further damage if action is taken now” at this “watershed moment in our political history.”</p><p dir="ltr">Social media companies, it said, should “implement tools to tackle online intimidation through user options”; “do more to prevent users being inundated with hostile messages on their platforms; and “support users who become victims of this behaviour.”</p><p dir="ltr">Some magazines and newspapers have taken their own steps to reduce the abuse sent to their writers.</p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, the <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/">New Statesman</a> was one of the first publications to remove comments from their website. Associate editor <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/writers/helen_lewis">Helen Lewis</a> explained the decision to me over email, saying that “in 2012, I argued that unfiltered, un-moderated comments were ruining news sites. I stand by that analysis.”</p><p dir="ltr">Lewis found that “topics such as feminism, race, identity politics and immigration all attracted big reactions, and it wasn't clear whether that was an authentic expression of the feelings of regular [New Statesman] readers, or whether some topics attract ‘drive by’ comments from a handful of people across all the major news sites.”</p><p dir="ltr">She’s introduced other avenues for reader feedback, including a digital letters page.</p><p dir="ltr">I’ve spoken publicly about the abuse I’ve experienced online, here and elsewhere. Sometimes I tweet about it as and when it happens. This can bring solidarity into your timeline at a time when you are enduring a pile on or being targeted.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Because social media companies and the authorities often fail to deal with online abuse, there’s a lack of trust from women that reporting will be effective. Beyond reporting to the police, I’ve never contacted Twitter about the abuse I’ve received.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Online abuse doesn’t exist because of the internet. It exists because of misogyny.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sharing our experiences can be a powerful antidote to that distrust of these platforms. It helps to feel heard, believed, and listened to – especially when those hosting the abuse, or responsible for prosecuting the abuse, aren’t paying attention.</p><p dir="ltr">But it is exhausting to disclose over and over again what happens to you, as a woman online. Worse, it can be triggering for women who have experienced more severe abuse than me.</p><p dir="ltr">Research, campaigns, one-on-one support and government-led recommendations are all part of the fight against online abuse. But fundamentally, online abuse doesn’t exist because of the internet. It exists because of misogyny.</p><p dir="ltr">The visceral hatred of women experienced by me and other women online is an expression of the deep-seated misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism and transphobia that permeates our societies.</p><p dir="ltr">Social media has given that hatred a platform, but Twitter didn’t invent sexism.</p><p dir="ltr">If we are to end online abuse, then we have to tackle the anger some men feel against women who speak up, and take up public space. Until we tackle the misogyny that brews offline, we won’t succeed in combating it in the digital sphere.</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 violence against women feminism women's work young feminists Sian Norris Wed, 15 Aug 2018 09:55:16 +0000 Sian Norris 119208 at https://www.opendemocracy.net