Monday, April 23, 2007

And the gender gap goes on and on and on...

I found this article on the CNN website - once again, thanks to Reuters:

On payday, it's still a man's world
Study: Females earn 80 percent of what men earn one year after graduating from college; falls to 69 percent 10 years later.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

U.S. envoy attacks female circumcision in Kenya

I came across this article in the NY Times, and Google News led me to - a very useful service that Reuters provides to alert "humanitarians to emergencies." One quote from the article in question is particularly disturbing:
"The other women threatened me if I did not do this. We must stop this. Young girls are living in fear," a Maasai girl in her early teens said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Click here to read the full article

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Meanwhile, in the Americas

According to this Truthout report, a grim new term has been coined for an age-old tragedy: "femicide"

House Tackles "Femicide" in Latin America

By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 09 April 2007

While headlines in the mainstream media front-page such controversies as Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria and lawmakers' standoff with the White House on timelines for American withdrawal from Iraq, the more mundane - but arguably no less important - work of the Congress goes on. Much of it continues under the radar, receiving little or no attention in the press. Some of it is actually bipartisan!

One example is an obscure measure known as H.RES.100. What is House Resolution 100?

It is an effort by a large bipartisan group of representatives to try to end a deadly phenomenon known as "femicide" in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central and South America.

Introduced by Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-California) and 84 co-sponsors, and unanimously approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the resolution urges the US government to bring pressure on Guatemala to address the unsolved murders of more than 2,000 women and girls since 2001.

Representative Solis says, "Very few of these crimes have been investigated, and even fewer perpetrators have been brought to justice for their crimes. Families of victims deserve honest answers and investigations into the murders of their wives, mothers and daughters, instead of being ignored and intimidated. H.RES.100 will raise awareness of the growing murder rate of women and girls in Guatemala, and increase the international pressure that is needed to stop the violence against women in that country."

Read the rest here

Conned, kidnapped or blackmailed

According to this BBC report, large numbers of Indian women from different walks of life are being lured or forced into becoming sex workers. Many are "purchased" from their parents, never to be seen again.
Assam's missing women and the sex trade

Monday, April 09, 2007

Veiled by force

Humiliating and discriminatory treatment of any kind, towards anyone, man, woman, black, Muslim, Asian or white, should always be denounced and reviled. I've been waiting for the hostage crisis to end before ranting about the treatment of Leading Seaman Faye Turney at the hands of the Iranian government. I was shocked but not surprised to see her stripped of her uniform and treated as a "woman" - i.e., obliged to wear a headscarf and "feminine" garments that covered her arms and legs - instead of what she was: a captured British seaman. In the end, the men were given "five-dollar suits" and she was costumed as what I can only describe as a homeless fashion victim. Fortunately, when the hostages returned to the "real world", they were all back in uniform. The fact that Turney was kept apart from the others and told that the men had been sent home, and she would never see her daughter again, just makes the entire situation all the more heinous. It's hard to think and write rationally when overcome with outrage, but I would like to point out one cold fact: women fighting in a war involving hardcore Islamic extremists are placed in special danger. Female soldiers are always exposed to more "up close and personal" violence than men (though men can, of course, be raped too). However, it is clear from the way the Taliban treated women in Afghanistan that the extremists' claim to "respect" women is completely hypocritical. Plainly, they see us as weaker, frailer, somehow "unclean" and unworthy of being treated as equals. Women have fought long and hard to wear the same uniform and receive the same treatment as men in the "Western" armed forces. Of course, this goal is still a distant dream, but not impossible. All of a sudden, by crossing an invisible border (or not, since it is much more likely that the Iranians staged an ambush in order to get hostages to trade for the members of the Republican Guard being held in Iraq), the one female, a serviceperson among her officers and peers, was obliged to follow precepts that are not of her faith - if she has one - and subjected to treatment that is alien to her culture and upbringing. If Muslim women in Britain are outraged because, in some circumstances, they are not allowed to wear the veil, I would like to see and express the same degree of fury at a non-Muslim being forced to wear one. A woman who is forced to wear any sort of garment - whether "modest" or "revealing" - is being objectified or, what is worse, made invisible. Turney's treatment was yet another example of the real-life reenactment of The Handmaid's Tale.
For more information, read the BBC article UK captive 'felt like a traitor'