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Archive for the ‘Gender Equality’ Category

Religious Fundamentalism Is Wrong???

Via the BBC: “Officials in Pakistan are travelling to a remote north-western region to find out if four women, who apparently sang and watched as two men danced, have been murdered in an honour killing”. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur share their take on religious fundamentalism and judging a culture (11 June 2012).

The BBC reported this story some days ago: ‘Officials in Pakistanare travelling to a remote north-western region to find out if four women, who apparently sang and watched as two men danced, have been murdered in an honour killing. Video footage of the men and women, who gathered as part of a wedding celebration, has been widely seen. Villagers say the women were later killed. Local officials deny this. The men in the video appeared in court on Wednesday charged with creating conditions for tribal violence. Local officials not only failed to produce the women in the court on Wednesday [, 6 June] but were also unable to produce any proof they were still alive, as directed by the court earlier’.[1]  The events took place in the remote area of Kohistan (or the Land of the Mountains).

And as it turns out, the culprit is not necessarily the “culture” of the area, but more likely the influence of a man, namely Maulvi Abdul Haleem. This religious leader, able to issue fatwas among other things, is a well-known enemy of women’s rights.

People, men as well as women, seldom act as a result of their own volition. A certain degree of persuasion and manipulation always helps. Last May, for instance, Abdul Haleem issued this decree, as he told a diligent journalist taking notes: “I issued a decree during Friday sermon [on 4 May 2012] that getting education for degrees by women is repugnant to Islamic injunctions because if a woman gets degree, she may use it for job, an act which Islam doesn’t allow in absence of mehram [close relatives]”.[2]  Rather than simply blaming “religion” or “culture”, these facets of human civilization are easily manipulated by power-hungry leaders of men, such as Maulvi Abdul Haleem, who unscrupulously further their own cause by exploiting the weak. The fact that Mister Abdul Haleem uses the sobriquet maulvi, denoting a high rank of seniority as a scholar of Islam, discloses his envious grip on power of his fellow-men in Kohistan. In a proud voice, the Maulvi even stated that “That’s why girls are not going to schools in Kohistan and girl schools are used as cattle pen”, [3] obviously referring to his own decrees and judgements.

 In order to give an idea of the terrible power wielded by the frustrated maulvi, here is a clip of two Pakistani Girls who have the good fortune not to be living in Kohistan and formed a band called The Cheapmunks.

 And here is a clip of Zeb & Haniya performing their surprise  hit song “Chup”.


[1] “Pakistan probes ‘honour killings’ of four women” BBC News (06 June 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18341379.

[2] “Ex MNA from Kohistan Threatens Working Women” Dawn (05 May 2012). http://www.aboardthedemocracytrain.com/ex-mna-from-kohistan-threatens-working-women.

[3] “Ex MNA from Kohistan Threatens Working Women”.

DSK Go Away!!

Angry students chanted “DSK, go away” and “Shame on you” outside the Cambridge University Union Society on Friday, as former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn gave a speech inside. There were scuffles as a few protesters tried to scale a metal barrier outside the building. Police said two people were arrested on suspicion of assaulting police and disruptive behavior (9 March 2012).

 

The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men

In The Bro Code, filmmaker Thomas Keith takes aim at the forces in male culture that condition boys and men to dehumanize and disrespect women. Keith breaks down a range of contemporary media forms that are saturated with sexism — movies and music videos that glamorize misogyny; pornography that trades in the brutalization of women; comedy routines that make fun of sexual assault; and a slate of men’s magazines and cable TV shows whose sole purpose is to revel in reactionary myths of American manhood. The message he uncovers in virtually every corner of our entertainment culture is clear: It’s not only normal — but cool — for boys and men to control and humiliate women. By showing how there’s nothing natural or inevitable about this mentality, and by setting it against the terrible reality of men’s violence against women in the real world, The Bro Code challenges young people to step up and fight back against the idea that being a real man means disrespecting women. Featuring interviews with Michael Kimmel, Robert Jensen, Shira Tarrant, J.W. Wiley, Douglas Rushkoff, Eric Anderson, and Neal King (4 Jan 2012).

Egypt Revolution Aftermath: Elections, Violence against Women and the Army

Egyptian women have led a rally in Cairo against the army’s treatment of female protesters. Thousands took to the streets demanding the military be held accountable for their abuse of women. On Saturday, 17 December, a woman was stripped and badly beaten by Egyptian security forces, in an incident that was captured on camera and met with outrage around the world. Al Jazeera‘s Sherine Tadros reports from Tahrir Square (20 Dec 2011).

Ten-thousand women marched Tuesday in Tahrir Square after brutal attacks of women were reported during protests in Cairo. Margaret Warner discusses Egypt’s political struggles with corporate executive May Nabil, who participated in Tuesday’s demonstrations (21 Dec 2011).

The incident spurring the massive demonstration happened last week. Here is the contrarian RT’s report: ‘The blog-o-sphere is boiling at the cruel beating of a female protester by Egyptian military police, who continued battling protesters in Tahrir Square on Sunday. The clashes, into their third day now, have left 10 people dead and hundreds injured. ­The video uploaded on YouTube Sunday reveals the extreme cruelty of the country’s law enforcers during the crackdown. The army soldiers in full riot gear have been savagely beating a seemingly unconscious female protester with big sticks, kicking her and stomping on her chest. Security forces lashed out ruthlessly on armless civilians and burned down tents that had been put up by activists outside the parliament building to camp in protest against the military rule. The internet community therefore questions the methods of the military regime who took over power after the ousting of the ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February’.

 

The Pharaoh is gone, but his loyal servants are still in power . . .

The Bonn Conference: Whither Afghanistan???

More than 90 countries are gathering at that meeting in Bonn with the goal of plotting a path for Afghanistan, after NATO’s withdrawal. Pakistan may not be not attending, but Al Jazeera has learned that efforts to talk to the Taliban are continuing behind the scenes elsewhere in Europe. Al Jazeera‘s James Bays reports from Bonn.

Afghan women are concerned that their future prospects are bleak, in view of a re-emergent Taliban movement. The U.S. invasion supposedly initiated to capture Usamah bin Laden, resulting in a 10-year occupation of the Hindu Kush has yielded significant benefits to the U.S., namely the establishment of military bases to safeguard access to Central Asian energy resources while, at the same time, keeping a watchful eye on China.[1]  So, will the Taliban return to Kabul???  Will Afghan girls and women again be confined to a life of un-education and enforced indolence???  And, what about the TAPI project???


[1] “Ten Years in Afghanistan: Central Asia Blues or Building Bases” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (09 October 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/ten-years-in-afghanistan-central-asia-blues-or-building-bases/.

2050: The Year the World Goes Hungry

In a roundabout way, the UN has declared that 2050 will be the year the world’s population will start declining in a serious way as a result of food shortages: the ‘UN food agency has warned that a quarter of the world’s landmass is “highly degraded”, making it difficult to meet the food needs of a booming population’.[1]  From Rome, Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) elaborates: “Humankind can no longer treat these vital resources as if they were infinite . . . The time for business as usual is over”.[2]  Action needs to be taken, needs to be taken now, or else. In other words, by the middle of this century, serious food shortages worldwide will lead to hunger, starvation and death on a massive scale, unless the population growth is halted. Either way, the numbers of humans populating the earth is set to decline after the middle of the century, as apparently aleady predicted by Al Gore. The FAO has released a timely report entitled The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW), detailing how wasteful land management will lead to a necessary decrease in the global human population: ‘The report said land degradation was worst down the west coast of the Americas, across the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and north Africa, across the Sahel and the Horn of Africa and throughout Asia’.[3]  Apparently, Asia and Africa will once again supply the bulk of the numbers, due to its abundant populations and scarce food resources. The report declares that “Worldwide, the poorest have the least access to land and water and are locked in a poverty trap of small farms with poor-quality soils and high vulnerability to land degradation and climatic uncertainty”, adding that some 40 percent of degraded lands are found in high poverty areas. The rich world, Europe and the U.S., will probably experience a dramatic hike in food prices, which will result in a truly divided society: on top will be the ones able to feed themselves to surfeit, while below will be those who suffer hunger on a somewhat regular basis – Upstairs, Downstairs . . .

The ‘report called for more efficient water use by agriculture as well as innovative farming practices such as conservation agriculture, agro-forestry and integrated crop-livestock systems. It said developing countries will need around $1.0 trillion (755 billion euros) in investments between 2007 and 2050 for irrigation. Land protection will require $160 billion over the same period, it added. The FAO stressed that erosion, desertification and climate change were endangering key production systems across the world from the Mediterranean to southern Africa to Southeast Asia. The publication coincided with the start of UN talks on climate change in Durban, South Africa, amid signs of a deepening political rift on how to slow the carbon juggernaut’.[4]  In a way that would appear to absolve the UN of responsibility for the genocidal outcomes of the projected food shortages, Diouf stated that “These systems at risk may simply not be able to contribute as expected in meeting human demands by 2050. The consequences in terms of hunger and poverty are unacceptable”.[5]  The death of millions of people may be “unacceptable”, but under current conditions seems unavoidable.

The solution seems simple and obvious, population control. But the political will to enact such policies appears absent. The other day,[6] I posted an entry dealing with Turkey’s Prime Minister and his encouragement to families in Turkey and across the Balkans to produces “at least three children” . . . As a result, it seems fair to say that the future looks bleak in terms of over-population and food shortages. On the other hand, other countries and other leaders do encourage other actions: ‘Health officials in the Indian state of Rajasthan are launching a new campaign in an effort to reduce the high population growth in the area. They are encouraging men and women to volunteer for sterilisation, and in return are offering a car and other prizes for those who come forward’, as reported by the BBC last summer.[7]


[1] “Degraded land puts food supply at risk: UN” AFP (29 November 2011). http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1608771/Degraded-land-puts-global-food-supply-at-risk:-UN.

[2] “Degraded land puts food supply at risk: UN”.

[3] “Degraded land puts food supply at risk: UN”.

[4] “Degraded land puts food supply at risk: UN”.

[5] “Degraded land puts food supply at risk: UN”.

[6] “Turkey: Family Planning and the Dersim Massacres” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (28 November 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/turkey-family-planning-and-the-dersim-massacres/.

[7] “India: Rajasthan in ‘cars for sterilisation’ drive” BBC News (01 July 2011). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13982031.

Turkey: Gang Rape Victim and the Supreme Court of Appeals

Turkey’s public opinion has been outraged for days now, so much that even the nation’s President felt obliged to add his voice to the growing sounds of distress and frustration via his twitter account. As indicated in an earlier entry, Turkey has a terrible record with regards to women’s rights and violence against women. In fact, violence against women is on the increase in spite of official attempts to counter this trend.[1]  But now, a judgement in a rape case has taken the whole issue to a totally different level: not just women, but also little girls are under threat. Over the past days, the case of underage rape victim N.Ç. has caused quite a stir in Turkey – it has become a “high-profile case on the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl at the hands of 26 men”.[2]

Fevzi Elmas, head of the 14th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which handled the case, has decided that the 13-year old consented to being gang raped, thus allowing him to lower the already ridiculously low sentences. Elmas has since come out  fighting, saying “We believe the ruling is sound. We had no doubts about it in the first place”.[3]  The daily Hürriyet Daily News further elaborates that Elmas ‘referred to a forensic report that described the victim, identified only by the initials N.Ç., as “mentally capable of rejecting the [abusive] acts” and defended the Mardin court’s decision to mandate minimum jail sentences from one to five years against the suspects in view of “the way the crimes were committed and the fact that the victim went willingly to almost all encounters.” The suspects additionally benefited from the more lenient old penal code on grounds that the offenses were committed in 2002 and 2003, before tougher provisions were introduced in 2005. In 2002, N.Ç. met female suspects T. and E., who are only identified by their initials, and was cajoled by the women into prostitution with local men who included civil servants, shopkeepers, bank clerks, a teacher and a soldier’.[4]  In other words, the Judge deemed a 13-year old capable of fully comprehending what suspects T. and E. were apparently talking her into, while turning the pedophile rapists into duped clients who were only doing what came naturally – raping a 13-year old girl. Moreover, apparently unaware of such concepts as adult consent or pedophilia, Judge Fevzi Elmas rather cavalierly put forward the opinion that underage girls possess the ability to choose their illegal sexual partners, as he stated that N.Ç. “went willingly to almost all encounters” (‘kendi rızası´),[5] thus giving heart to pedophiles all over Turkey who now seem to have a legal precedent allowing them to pursue their illegal amorous interests. After all, children can also give consent, as eloquently argued for by Judge Elmas.

The 28 men, or should I say, the 28 pedophiles have since been identified by the journalist Fatih Altaylı in his column in the newspaper Habertürk Gazetesi.[6]  The list includes such local luminaries as the Gendarme Captain Ersun Erdemir or the Primary School Assistant Director Ümit Ergin, upstanding citizens who only want what’s best for their communities. The victim is now able to appeal the decision, a lengthy process which carries another danger in its wake, as explained by the daily Hürriyet Daily News: ‘Lawyers and activists . . . have sounded alarm that the case, which dates back to 2002, will soon fall under the 10-year statute of limitations and may result in all suspects ducking any penalty at all’.[7]


[1] “Violence against Women in Turkey: A 1,400% Increase in Seven Years” ?” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (21 September
2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/violence-against-women-in-turkey-a-1400-increase-in-seven-years/.

[2] “Top judge defends rape ruling as President Gül joins outcry” Hürriyet Daily News (04 November 2011). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=top-judge-defends-rape-ruling-as-president-gul-joins-outcry-2011-11-04.

[3] “Top judge defends rape ruling as President Gül joins outcry”.

[4] “Top judge defends rape ruling as President Gül joins outcry”.

[5] “Top judge defends rape ruling as President Gül joins outcry”.

[6] “N.Ç’ye tecavüz edenleri tek tek açıkladı” Para ve Kadın (03 November 2011). http://www.paravekadin.com/n-cye-tecavuz-edenleri-tek-tek-acikladi.html.

[7] “Top judge defends rape ruling as President Gül joins outcry”.