It is a crime that is perpetrated against the most vulnerable members of the world’s most broken societies – one that destroys the lives of its victims and rips apart the fabric of communities. Sexual assault is increasingly being used as a weapon of warfare, especially in clashes that are tribal or ethnic in nature. For that reason, Jody Williams decided it is time the issue was confronted head on. “There has always been rape in war, yes,” says Ms. Williams, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work to eradicate land mines. “But using it specifically as a tactic of war seems relatively new and on the scale that we’re seeing it in the Congo, in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, Burma.”Ms. Williams, an American, was joined in Montebello, Que., on Tuesday by two other female Nobel peace laureates – Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Ireland and Shirin Ebadi of Iran – to talk about rape in conflict zones. They invited more than 100 women from around the world to join them, many of whom have experienced sexual violence. “It’s something we all feel uncomfortable talking about,” Ms. Maguire said. “But we really have to face this as perhaps the worst form of violence next to actually killing someone.”
I looked at my husband, "the egyptian" and asked, "Why do Muslim women seem so oppressed?" He turned to me and said, "The Qu'ran offers more equality to women than any other Holy Book." I raised my eyebrow. So I researched it. For one thing, I live with a man who practices Islam and who happens to come from an "arab-centric" country. Two - he has sat in front of me and had heated debates about gender equality and Islam. My question is - is the oppression from Islam? Or the Arab culture? Turns out - a little of both, but more so - the Arab culture. There is actually an Islamic Feminist movement spreading across the Middle East, however it is moving slow, due to fear and lack of resources. But it does exist - even if on a smaller scale, and a century long over due. I found an article by Amina Wadud, an Islamic Studies Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, titled - "A'ishah's legacy." Wadud goes on to explain how in Islam, women were seen as different, yet equal. If that is so, then I asked myself the question - why all of the oppression? Why can't women drive in Saudi Arabia? Why are women denied an education in Taliban controlled parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan? Why? And if there is such a thing as women's rights in Islamic countries - how is that defined as opposed to the Western definition? She goes on to explain the two different sides of Feminists in Islam.
Recently I visited Hamleys, London's famous toy store. I entered the store happy and full of positive expectation, what I discovered made me sick to my stomach and really quite upset. But I am getting ahead of myself.Last week I visited London and I decided to do some research over the weekend. I was looking for soft dolls to get some ideas of textures and materials for our own 7Wonderlicious soft dolls (one of our future projects). I walked into Hamleys with a camera in hand ready to take pictures of materials and see how they combined together: cloth, felt, plush that sort of thing...It is a fun place full of kids, mostly 2 to 8 year olds. There were airplanes flying around, a lady pirate talking to children and lots of robot toys wondering in random directions all over the floor. I was as excited as the kids and felt a little like the original Dora Explorer with my backpack and camera ready to discover this wonderful world of play. A placard told me how the store was divided, I decided to explore all floors as the soft toy floor did not have anything to inspire my creative juices. I was encouraged to see preschoold, gadgets and games were not divided into gender sections. Soon I was in the GIRLS/PINK floor, and it took me about one second to lose the positive expectation I had when I first walked into Hamleys. The account of what I experienced in this floor and on the boys floor is quite comprehensive. I have not edited or missed out details to create impact. I literally went around the room and took photos of everything. As soon as I exited the escalator I was in front of a HAIR & NAIL bar.
Nobel Peace Laureate and honorary member of the Nobel Women's Initiative, Aung San Suu Kyi, sent her support to the 120 women gathering for the Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict conference.
The women divers of Jeju Island (known as haenyeo) are unique and rare workers. For centuries, they have harvested seaweed and shellfish at depths of 20 meters, holding their breath for as long as two minutes without any equipment other than their rubber suits, masks and nets. The Korean women divers of Jeju Island have faced the tempestuous tides of history and struggle for economic survival. Their intimate relationship to the land and sea, their shaman beliefs, and their communal village life have kept them protected from modern pressures. In return, many of the haenyeo live a life of purpose and resilience well into their 90s. They illuminate a steady, fearless course and most of all, an enduring legacy.
Blogging sparks activism, but I’m under the firm belief that these are not forms of activism in it and of itself. The people doing the activist work are working from the ground, quite literally Especially in underdeveloped countries, the majority of people using the internet are men, because after all in many of these countries, families cannot afford computers at home or internet connectivity. It’s not so much as the lack connectivity to the internet–there are internet cafes all around. Some countries have issues with power—power is not reliable and goes off frequently. Or they don’t know how to use a computer. Additionally, there are cultural norms that don’t allow women to access to computers. Whether they are not allowed or it is not the norm to be around men outside their family, women are prevented from using the computers. Women in underdeveloped or developing countries are not as educated as their men, providing another barrier to computers and the internet. Internet access is not just an economic privilege. While it is rooted in money, it also intersects with lack of education, lack of infrastructure, lack of foreign aid, cultural belief, and as articulated above, gender inequality. The discrepancy between men and women accessing the internet means that women don’t have the opportunity to voice their opinions like men do. This is a huge problem to address and I in no way can solve this issue. But seriously–how do you change a culture, for example, that believes in the dual roles of gender (women take care of the home and children while men make the money)? I don’t know, and you probably don’t know. Cultures can’t be changed just by people and I think it’s crossing a fine line when outsiders force their beliefs on a particular group of people. However, organizations and ideas can be created around a culture. For example, there are many internet cafes in underdeveloped countries that offer women-only hours. There are also places that have women-only internet cafes and offer training to women. This is a great start. I want to highlight some organizations and internet cafes that are jumpstarting this issue:
It took filmmaker and activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons 13 years to fund, produce, direct and release her inspirational and defiant NO! The Rape Documentary. NO! brings together archival footage, testimonies of rape survivors, performances and interviews with activists and scholars to examine rape in African American communities through a black feminist lens. The international acclaim for the film–it’s been screened in Africa, Asia and Europe as well as South and North America–confirms that black women’s stories resonate across all borders. In spite of differences in culture and language, many women see NO! as telling their own stories. NO! isn’t a new film–it came out in 2006–but in a climate in which rape makes daily headlines as a tool to subjugate and terrorize women, it’s as timely as ever. When DOXA invited Ms. magazine’s global editor, Robin Morgan, to guest curate a film for this spring’s festival in Vancouver, Canada, she immediately chose NO! And when the Spring issue of Ms. magazine challenged the FBI’s dangerously narrow definition of rape in bold neon letters, I too thought of NO! and Skyped Simmons to talk about her groundbreaking film, the FBI’s archaic definition of rape, the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, TX, sex trafficking and many other issues.
Global “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes”® Day is the first of several global events held in conjunction with The Pixel Project‘s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that will raise US$1 million for the cause to end violence against women by getting the global audience to collectively unveil a million-pixel mystery portrait collage of 4 world-renowned male role models for US$1 per pixel. Proceeds from the event will be split between revealing the male role models and each participating anti-Violence Against Women non-profit.
Wearing white for peace, a Ugandan women's advocacy group has appealed to the United Nations amid a violent police crackdown on protesters. Rita Achiro, executive director of Uganda Women's Network, an advocacy and lobbying network, says last week's protest march by hundreds of women wasn't aimed at threatening the government.Instead, she describes it as a peaceful show of the women's demand for the government's accountability. "This is not a politically motivated march," her group said in a press statement, "and that is why we are dressed in white because white shows peace. We demand strong policy measures to address issues of food security, unemployment, health and education." The women have handed the statement to Margaret Sekaggya, a Ugandan lawyer and current U.N. special rapporteur on human rights defenders, who was at the demonstration last week.
It doesn’t matter what she wears. It doesn’t matter how she dances or how much she has had to drink. Year by year, society’s discussion of sexual assault shifts from a critique of victims to prevention of the attack itself.“There are more people who feel they will be heard if they speak out,” says Karen Smith, executive director of the Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre. That, she says,inspires others. “When other victims hear that people have bravely come forward and theirattacker has been caught, then convicted, it encourages others to enter the same process.” In Canada, roughly nine of every 10 sexual assaults goes unreported, Statistics Canada says.“Historically, there was a wrong emphasis on victim-blaming. Just a couple years ago, the EPS website had prevention tips that told potential victims to lock their doors and not walk in the river valley at night. “Thank God we’ve now shifted to a message that simply says don’t commit sexual assault. The offender needs to take 100 per cent of the responsibility.” If someone wants to commit a crime of control, they do so whether their victim wears a potato sack or a cocktail dress, Campbell says. On June 4, Edmonton will host its version of Slut Walk, a national movement that protests the blaming victims based on their clothing.
On Good Friday 24-year-old Noxolo Nogwaza was raped, stoned and stabbed to death in the township of KwaThema, east of Johannesburg. Two years previously another young KwaThema woman, Eudy Simelane, was raped and murdered. Rape statistics are notoriously unreliable, but there is consensus that the rate of violence against women in South Africa is extremely high. The country also has the twelfth highest homicide rate in the world. Yet the cases of Nogwaza and Simelane stood out because they were butch lesbians who appear to have been victims of homophobic hate-crime. Their murders have been ascribed to an epidemic of "corrective rape" aimed at turning lesbians straight, or at teaching them a lesson for rejecting men. What makes this all the more shocking is that South Africa is officially one of the most tolerant countries in the world: its constitution explicitly outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and same-sex marriage is legal. In truth the fatal violence against lesbians like Nogwaza and Simelane is an extreme illustration of a truth about all rape: it is always "corrective". Rapists typically think they are teaching their victims a lesson, either for wanting it too much or for not wanting it enough. This has a particular resonance in South Africa, whereresearch suggests that a high number of sexually active teenage girls say their first sexual encounter was coercive. Dipika Nath is conducting research into violence against lesbians in South Africa for Human Rights Watch: "In a context where women are not allowed to say 'no' to sex," she says, "butch lesbians and transgender men can be seen as presenting the ultimate defiance – by their very identity." One of the wonders of contemporary South Africa is the flowering of an urban black working-class lesbian subculture. Raised with a post-apartheid consciousness of human rights, many young black women have rejected the traditional roles expected of them: they have claimed the right to live independent of men and taken their sexuality on to the streets with a particular subcultural look. This is part of a broader trend in sub-Saharan Africa. Sexuality has become a matter of identity ("I am lesbian") in the region, rather than mere practice ("I sleep with women"); an overt insistence on equality, rather than a covert satisfying of desire, accommodated by social norms and traditions. The result, inevitably, is social upheaval.
Former volunteers are going public about being sexually assaulted while serving, prompting a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.Jess Smochek arrived in Bangladesh in 2004 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer with dreams of teaching English and “helping the world.” She left six weeks later a rape victim after being brutalized in an alley by a knife-wielding gang. When she returned to the United States, the reception she received from Peace Corps officials was as devastating, she said, as the rape itself. In Bangladesh, she had been given scant medical care; in Washington, a counselor implied that she was to blame for the attack. For years she kept quiet, feeling “ashamed and embarrassed and guilty.” Today, Ms. Smochek is among a growing group of former Peace Corps volunteers who are speaking out about their sexual assaults, prompting scrutiny from Congress and a pledge from the agency for reform. In going public, they are exposing an ugly sliver of life in the Peace Corps: the dangers that volunteers face in far-flung corners of the world and the inconsistent — and, some say, callous — treatment they receive when they become crime victims. Founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has 8,655 volunteers and trainees, as young as 21 and as old as 86, serving in 77 countries. For most, service is, as the agency’s Web site boasts, “a life-defining leadership experience.” But from 2000 to 2009, on average, 22 Peace Corps women each year reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape, the agency says. During that time, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers reported sexual assaults, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes. Because sexual crimes often go unreported, experts say the incidence is likely to be higher, though they and the Peace Corps add that it is difficult to assess whether the volunteers face any greater risk overseas than women in the United States do. On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will convene a hearing to examine what its chairwoman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, called “serious crimes” committed against Peace Corps volunteers, including murder; in announcing the hearing, her office cited reports of “gross mismanagement of sexual assault complaints.” In an interview Monday, the director of the Peace Corps, Aaron S. Williams, said he was committed to revamping the agency’s practices to create a more “victim-centered approach.” He insisted that it was safe for women to serve in the Peace Corps. “We do not place Peace Corps volunteers in unsafe environments,” he said. But he said the agency must modernize its procedures to “make sure that we provide compassionate care” to crime victims. Already, Mr. Williams has made some changes, including hiring a “victim’s advocate” who began work on Monday and signing an agreement with a nationally known rape crisis group to re-examine his organization’s training and policies. The changes reflect the work of Ms. Frazee, who has spent the last 18 months tracking down Peace Corps sexual assault survivors by reaching out through social networking sites and her blog. Last year, her work attracted the attention of the ABC News program “20/20,” which ran a segment on the women in January. In recent months, Ms. Frazee, 28, has collected more than two dozen affidavits from other women, who have shared stories that Mr. Williams called “tragic.” In interviews and documents, they paint a picture of what many call a “blame the victim” culture at the Peace Corps.
On 8 March, Oxfam celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and encouraged everyone to make this an occasion for positive change. The date also marked six years of the international “We Can End all Violence against Women” – or simply, “We Can” – campaign. Mona Mehta, who works for Oxfam as a regional manager on women’s leadership, is heavily involved in the campaign, and has seen first hand the difference that has been brought to women’s lives. She first worked for Oxfam in the early 80’s in India and was one of the first female programme officers in India to work for the organisation. Mona was attracted to the organisation’s commitment to equal rights for men and women and its focus on alleviating poverty. Over the years she has seen many women’s lives changed by the We Can campaign. “There has been significant change with regard to violence against women. Recent We Can country assessments across South Asia have shown the positive impact of the campaign on individuals and communities. However, a lot more remains to be done,” said Mona. As well as working on women’s rights, Mona was involved in ensuring people had access to healthcare, clean water and medicine, and making sure people had ways to make a living. She also worked during emergency responses such as droughts. Today Mona works across India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal to focus on changing people’s attitudes and mindsets so that violence against women is made “visible” and deemed unacceptable. “Millions of women in South Asia are still undergoing violence and discrimination on a daily basis,” Mona said. “We need to be able to carry the message of change to the lives of those who remain excluded and marginalised. We hope that the campaign will remain active in each country and will work towards achieving a violence free society.” The project involves educational and government institutions in reducing levels of domestic violence, raising awareness and supporting families.
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday appealed for an end to rapes by troops in her country, in a video address to her sister Nobel laureates in Montebello, Canada. Violence against women, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said, “is a very real problem.” “Rape is used in my country as a weapon against those who only want to live in peace, who only want to assert their basic human rights. It is used as a weapon by armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and to divide our country,” she said. “Every case of rape divides our country between peoples, between genders, between the armed forces and ordinary citizens, between ethnic nationalities,” she added. “So we must do everything we can to put an end to this.” Suu Kyi, 65, was released in November shortly after the country’s first election in 20 years, having spent most of the past two decades in detention. In her recorded address to the annual conference of the Nobel Women’s Initiative at the Montebello resort 100 kilometres east of Ottawa she stressed the need for education and dialogue to eradicate rape as a tool of war. Suu Kyi also called for international pressure on Burma’s new government to free more than 400 women political prisoners. “All they have done is to work for democracy and human rights,” she said.
This weekend, Manal al-Sharif and her brother were arrested by Saudi authorities after posted a video on YouTube (has hence been made private) that shows her driving a car and convincing others to, on June 17th, in protest of Saudi Arabia’s ban against women driving. Sharif is one of the organizers of Women2Drive, a right-to-drive campaign to be launched on the 17th. Interestingly enough, there is no actual law that bans women from driving, but citizens have to use locally issued licenses that can’t be issued to women — so Women2Drive are telling their followers to use foreign-issued licenses. Nesrine Malik at the Guardian writes about the campaign and her own experience living in Saudi Arabia: There is nothing empowering or protective about not being allowed to drive. While I was living in Saudi Arabia, in a family of five females with no man in the household, we were permanently at the mercy of our driver to run even the most basic of errands. If he was late, indisposed or unable to tend to us for some reason, the only alternative was to hail a taxi – a very unpleasant prospect for a woman in a Saudi city. To stand on the side of the road in the city of Riyadh waiting for a taxi to arrive meant braving the harassing calls and jibes from passing motorists, and to be alone in a car with a cab driver in a country where that is rather rare posed its own risks in terms of the liberties the driver feels he may be entitled to take. Sharif herself claimed she was harassed by her driver. Needless to say, there is no public transport available for women. Sharif’s brother has been released thus far but no news on when she will be. In the meantime, follow Women2Drive on Twitter in support and for potential updates.
There is a vacuum left vacant by our sisters in the 70s. A woman's world is supposed to have moved on from the 50s, but has it really? I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this article. Neither could my fellow 'progressive' career women. If you couldn't be bothered reading it (or simply don't have the time) - here's the headline "Career women happy to do laundry". What is going on people? The 'struggle' has gone from attaining rights, to simply getting through motherhood and a career. That's what. Everyone's simply too exhausted to step back, think and have dialogue about where feminism is today. I'll tell you for free where it is these days, nowhere. Like a tumbleweed blowing across a road in an abandoned outback town. There are struggles to be had on the homefront as well as the workfront. You've heard them all before, but I'll name a handful. No senior part-time positions for women who return from maternity leave and that's if, only if, they keep the job open for you after 12 months. Being at home with a child is still seen as the soft option, as if you're on some kind of bludger because you're not at work. The real work of being a primary carer, housekeeper, is not recognised nor rewarded. And oh yes, if I whinge publicly, it's yet another one of those 'misery mumoirs'. How patronising! So it's perfectly okay to whinge about being single, not being happy enough, mortgage stress, but God help you if you complain about being a mother. Don't get me started on childbirth. If one sustained that kind of damage during a game of golf, it'd be two weeks in hospital on the best painkillers known to man, you try getting a panadeine after giving natural birth, let alone an epidural beforehand. Oh but you're having a child, you're lucky, you're glowing (cue 50s washing powder commercial) never mind that for many it's the equivalent of sitting on a landmine. Can anyone see a pattern here? It's called oppression. It's a conspiracy of silence in the home and in the workforce. How many women actually complain about how hard it is when a child's born outside of close knit friends and family (or fellow exhausted new mums). Why? Because you're still supposed to be that woman on the commercial for that 50s washing powder.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams arrived in Ottawa this weekend with a mission for Canada: to reclaim its image as the white knight of international human rights. A key player in a series of human-rights breakthroughs in the 1990s, including the ban on landmines that Williams spearheaded, recent setbacks such as the failure to get a seat on the UN security Council have cast doubt on Canada’s international cachet. Now, Williams is calling on Canada to take centre stage again: “Canada showed tremendous leadership in achieving the [treaty] banning anti-personnel landmines. … Now, Canada can play a key role in ending a horrific tactic of war: rape.” She and the six other women who now hold the peace prize want Canada to get behind their effort to push for an end to the ongoing epidemic of sexual violence against women in conflict zones and countries in crisis. Sexual violence has become an increasingly common weapon of war, they warn, because most wars are now internal clashes in which civilians are the main targets. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, at least 200,000 women have been raped in ongoing clashes, according to United Nations reports. “We all have a responsibility to do more in the face of this horrific violence against women, and we hope we can count on Canada’s leadership,” says Williams. Williams is hoping the Tories will embrace the push to end sexual violence with the same commitment their Liberal predecessors showed when then-foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy led the charge for the landmine ban.
Since the late 1800s, feminism has worked to advocate for (certain) women, fighting for equality, access, and diversity. There's been progress, setbacks, and stagnation, but one thing is clear: most women do not identify with the word “feminist,” even if they share its core ideologies. There’s been a shift in the definition of women’s empowerment and the contemporary agenda for achieving equality. Not only are most women tired of the hardcore oppression and patriarchy rhetoric, but also they’re ready to embrace their bodies and sexuality in public way. Simply put, 20-something-year-old women are ready to showcase the multidimensionality of womanhood: we can be intelligent, independent, powerful, family-oriented, and sexy without having an identity crisis. Enter Beyonce, one of the most talented, career-driven women that has ever graced the music industry. She’s a multi-platinum selling artist, songwriter, entrepreneur, wife, daughter, sister, and oh…she can also dance like no other. Ignoring all of the previously listed positions that Bey occupies, most people simply deem her a gyrating, sex symbol. And frankly, all of the traditional feminist criticism of her “Who Runs The World (Girls)” video is just another example of the disconnect between intellectual theory and real life. It is no secret that black women need more diverse representation in the media. Yes, it seems that every pop culture icon, actress, or singer can fall into the “hypersexualized” category. But truthfully, what does Beyonce represent as a whole, as a multidimensional human being? Taking bits and pieces of her is the same as reading a chapter of a book and claiming to know the whole story. Beyonce’s “Girls” video is an anthem for contemporary women that aren’t afraid of being powerful, driven, smart, and sexy. We can hold our own in the workplace, and later in the evening, pull out our garter belts and work it for our partner.
Civil society organisations from across the Arab region met in Kuwait, from 4 to 5 May, within the framework of the Forum for the Future 2011, and unanimously adopted a declaration calling for the governments of the region to take urgent measures to eliminate discrimination against women. The Kuwait Declaration was adopted as the winds of change have been sweeping through the region, as populations demonstrate forcefully their thirst for democracy, dignity and respect for universal human rights. Based on universal standards and international law, the declaration calls on governments to abolish all discriminatory legislation within the next two years ; to adopt laws to fight discrimination, violence and trafficking of women ; and to withdraw all the reservations they have entered to the Convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW Convention). The tide has turned : women of all backgrounds and beliefs, have been participating, side-by-side with men, in the revolutions and uprisings that have been shaking the region, in the streets and on the web, to claim liberty, equality, dignity and democracy. Today it is no longer possible to deny women full access to the public sphere or to ignore their essential role in the democratic process », declared Khadija Cherif, FIDH Secretary General, who participated in the Forum. « With the unanimous adoption of this text, the NGOs of the region have affirmed that there can be no democracy without equal rights for women and men », she concluded.
Labour MPs are attempting to set up a powerful parliamentary committee to vet government policy for discriminatory effects on women, claiming that the coalition has a "blind spot" when it comes to equal opportunities. Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said the justice secretary Kenneth Clarke's controversial comments on rape this week betrayed a lack of understanding of gender issues across the government, and that there needed to be a democratic institution to act as a safeguard for women's rights. Cooper and Fiona Mactaggart, the shadow minister for women and equalities, will meet voluntary organisations to unveil the plans. The idea is attracting support from both sides of the house. It comes amid mounting concern about the impact of government policies on women, and a furious debate over some of the language used by senior Conservatives in recent weeks, not least the prime minister's now infamous "Calm down dear" comment. The Home Office, which includes the government equalities unit, said that the government was achieving progress for women, citing a £10m fund for rape crisis centres announced in January as an example. Theresa May, the home secretary and minister for women and equalities, is known to have been annoyed by Clarke's comments on rape this week, describing them privately as unhelpful. Clarke's remarks came in the week that government statisticians put the number of women claiming unemployment benefits at a 15-year high, as public sector job cuts accelerate. Research published on Thursday by Coventry Universitysuggested that cuts to other benefits will cost women £30m, compared with just under £12m for men. Cooper said that the coalition had a blind spot on women. "This is not just about revealing remarks – be it from the justice secretary or the prime minister. Women are losing out every time from government policies," she said.
Nearly 70 years after Rosie the Riveter assembled munitions and 48 years after Betty Friedan articulated"the problem with no name," the topic of sex equality in America retains a constant place in the national discourse. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the largest sex-discrimination class action case in U.S. history, between retail giant Walmart and more than a million past and present female employees. Women still make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. And many industries, from nursing to construction, have dramatically uneven sexual representation. According to a U.S. News analysis of Census figures, Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., is the most equal metropolitan area in the country in terms of gender in the workplace, while cities in Texas and Utah make up a majority of the least-equal metropolitan areas. U.S. News compiled these rankings by comparing male and female representation in the workforce, representation across industries, median annual earnings, and educational attainment in each city. The figures point to several trends. The data indicate a correlation between education and earnings, but also shows that wage gaps persist between men and women at all education levels. Public sector employment may have contributed to certain cities' high rankings. Portia Wu, Vice President at the National Partnership for Women & Families, says that the pay policies at many public sector jobs tend to promote fairness: "You may face barriers to promotion [working in the public sector], but by and large, you at least know what everyone else is making, and the parameters are set by collective bargaining." This may help explain why four state capitals, plus Washington, D.C., rank among the 10 most equal cities. Race also plays a role in income and employment equality, according to Michele Leber, Chair of the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women's and civil rights organizations that works to end wage discrimination on the basis of race and sex. "Women of color tend to have larger wage gaps," she says, which could contribute to the lower rankings of several cities in Texas, which has a large Hispanic population. "Latinas earn 58 cents to the dollar of all men," adds Leber, compared to the national figure of 77 cents. There are also pronounced gaps between the sexes in education. men.
OTTAWA - A new study says the rate of violent incidents reported by aboriginal women was triple that of non-aboriginal women in 2009. Statistics Canada says nearly 67,000, or 13 per cent of aboriginal women aged 15 or older, reported they had been the victim of one or more violent crimes in the 12 months prior to the survey. Violent crimes as defined by the agency include sexual assault, robbery and physical assault. The agency says 223 of every 1,000 aboriginal women reported incidents of violence, while the rate among non-aboriginal women was 84 in 1,000. Most violent incidents reported by aboriginal women were committed by males acting alone. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of aboriginal victims were between 15 and 34 years old, yet this group accounted for less than half (47 per cent) the female aboriginal population (aged 15 or older) living in the 10 provinces. The proportion of native women who reported violence by a current or former spouse was about two-and-a-half times higher than the proportion of non-aboriginal women.
Although the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ended in 2002, the war on women and girls continues."Sexual and gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC," wrote U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer in a recent blog post, "includes the use of rape and sexual terror as a tactic of war in the conflict-affected eastern provinces, as well as pervasive violence against women and girls throughout the rest of the country." Such systemic sexual violence not only destroys women and young girls, but also entire families and communities. Men and boys are also victims of abuse, though they are often overlooked as a vulnerable population. USAID programs have provided care and treatment services for well over 100,000 SGBV survivors, including access to medical care, counseling and family mediation, social and economic reintegration support, as well as legal aid. Other programs seek to promote women's rights, acceptance of rape survivors and fight impunity through legal reform. However, said Ambassador Verveer, "it is clear that the low status of women in the DRC is a contributing factor to the high rate of sexual and gender-based violence in the county. "The DRC cannot move ahead without the full inclusion of women politically . . . . economically, through agriculture and beyond, and socially, through a robust civil society movement. "To achieve this, U.S. Government assistance programs in the DRC seek to promote women's participation in all spheres of political and economic life. Women are a powerful voice for peace and an instrument of development when given the opportunity," said Ambassador Verveer. "Investing in women is not only the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do."
A new study on the African nation of Congo reports on some very alarming news. The report, released on Wednesday, said that approximately 1,152 women are raped every day, which amounts to roughly 48 women per hour. It is widely known that rape is often used as a tool of war. But why use this type of torture? And why are the rebels carrying out this sort of terrorism against women? Could this form of terrorism be related to the patriarchal culture that exists in the Congo? There is a strong indication of that, since the onset of colonialism Congo society has been ruled by male domination. The Congolese rebels know all too well what they are doing. They are carrying out a strategic and systematic criminal act of war that is used to gain the upper hand against civilians. Rape is used as a tool of war to demoralize, eliminate the self-respect and pride of the victim. By killing the spirit of the victim without actually physically committing homicide, the aggressor gains more control over them. This is first and foremost psychological warfare. Many Congolese victims report that after the crime has been committed, their lives are forever changed by the way they view themselves and the way that the villagers see them. They are traumatized and humiliated physically and mentally.
The slutwalk phenomenon does more harm to women than good, warns international anti-porn campaigner Gail Dines. Professor Dines, a fierce critic of raunch culture who is touring Australia this month to promote her book Pornland, said that protest marches that aim to reclaim the word "slut" would only reinforce stereotypes. "By having a slutwalk, you have turned the focus onto what women are wearing," Professor Dines told The Age. "The men who are responding to this message are not getting the irony at all." By dressing in fishnets and push-up bras and brandishing 'slut" signs, she said, the organisers are playing into the hands of raunch culture. "Men want women to be sluts and now they're buying in." The day before before Australia's first slutwalk sets off from the front steps of Melbourne's State Library on Saturday May 28, the professor will be speaking at the library's Wheeler Centre on the pressure young women feel to live up to the images available on internet porn. "Young women today have two choices," she said, "to be f***able or invisible. If the only choice is to be hypersexual, you cannot call it a meaningful choice. In the US, even women who read the news, even politicians have to be [sexy]". The dozens of slutwalk protests being organised in North America, Europe and Australia were inspired by a Canadian policeman's advice to college students that they should not "dress like sluts" if they didn't want to be sexually assaulted. In response, women have been marching to reclaim the word "slut" in the same way that gay rights activists have reclaimed the word "queer". But the professor has been speaking out against the reclaiming campaign in The Guardian, on the BBC and in the Huffington Post. "'Slut' is an irredeemable word" she said, adding that as a Jewish woman, she had no desire to go on a "kike walk" — "some words come out of situations that are intolerable". While slutwalk organisers believed they were empowering women by embracing the word "slut", Professor Dines said they were sending the wrong message to adolescent girls in a culture that takes its cues from pornography. "Do you think that a young women is going to be helped if she looks in the mirror and thinks the word 'slut'?"