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Impunity

She is married to a French diplomat, pregnant with their third child, and living in India. Her 3 year old daughter complains of pain in her genital area. She takes her to the doctor and the doctor tells her that her daughter has been raped. She finds out it is her husband. She discovers later that it started when she was 2.

She goes to the police to register her husband. No response. She presses them until they finally register the complaint. He is in jail, but pays off the police and is released. He is a diplomat and the French authorities protect him.

She is trying to have him convicted, to get justice for her daughter. This story is long, involved, and painful to listen to.

The father is Pascal Mazurier. Some articles cover the story as a diplomatic immunity legal issue, rather than taking the view that this is a horrific crime and the perpetrator should be in jail. In fact, the president of France has met with the lawyers of the husband but not for the wife and daughter. Do they not matter?

Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/2013/02/14/mazurier-case-french-president-bows-to-suja-jones-1150285.html

Impunity for sexual violence against women is the norm. It is now in the courts, only because of the brave persistence of this woman trying to get justice. And with the help and support of various organizations such as the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. CATW

Impunity for sexual violence is embedded in all cultures. We have it here. Elliot Spitzer. No Federal law against buying sex, but selling sex is a crime.

Lisa Williams relayed a story that a 10 year old girl in shackles was arrested for prostitution. Really? Are we that barbaric?

When I was younger and first understood what prostitution was, I naively assumed that buying sex was as much of a crime as selling sex. It was really beyond my comprehension that only the woman would be the criminal. How can that even make sense?

In a session yesterday, one speaker talked about the revolutionary idea, called the Nordic model whereby the buyer of sex – lets not soften the language here – the buyer of another person is a crime. It surprised me that she used the word revolutionary. Isn’t it obvious that the buyer should be a criminal?

From the CATW web site on Norway.

NORWAY
The Women’s Front is an independent women’s organization in Norway, founded in 1972. It is a radical feminist organization, working against all forms of oppression experienced by women and girls in a society dominated by men: economical, social, political, legal and cultural oppression. The organization has been active in the struggle against prostitution for thirty years. In 2009, Norway joined Sweden in passing ground- breaking legislation, the world’s first law to recognize prostitution as violence against women and a violation of human rights. The Nordic Model criminalizes the purchase of commercial sex and offers women and children an exit strategy.

Can we change our laws here? I believe California does have laws on the books for criminalizing the buyer, but are they enforced? Are they severe enough to deter it?

CATW said that making buying a crime severely curtails prostitution and trafficking. Is that the case for California?

What about the bucolic Poconos? Here is an article of some developments there. Keep in mind that where you see red neon signs advertising “massage,” trafficked women or children (most likely girls) are there.

article here

The speakers at CSW yesterday did not mince words: it is a war on women.

Women of the MENA region

Some things are just too hard to write about. Today 5 extremely brave women spoke out about the abuses and discrimination and violence against women that is going on now in the Middle East. It is getting so much worse for women there. Going from dictators to what they have now, which should not be called democracy, had caused a backlash against women and basic human rights for women.

You have heard about women getting attacked recently in Tahrir square. It is worse than you have heard. We heard first hand accounts of women getting “mod attacked” as they participate in peaceful protest against the new government. A woman will be separated from others, cornered, pulled away from her friends, a mob takes her away – strips her, naked, she is tormented by the men, beaten, raped. One woman was torn from her vagina to her anus and left.

The good news – this woman we saw today has a team of women and supportive men finding theses women, clothing them, and getting them to the hospital. These are brave, strong women.

Why go to the square if there is such risk?

Should half the population be removed from the streets? Should half the population be silent and invisible? Should half the population be forced out of the political process? Should half the population not have a voice?

Can we stand by and watch our sisters suffer? Should we be silent and let them fend for themselves?

What can we do?

Write to every politician you can. Write early, write often.

Tell them that you will not stand by and let your representatives exclude women from political discussions. Tell Pres. Obama that women need to be at the table of all foreign policy meetings and decisions, that any delegation from another country needs to have women – vocal women leaders. Our leaders need to be listening to the women of the regions to hear what they have to say.

Learn more. Go to ICAN. International Civil Society Action Network.

http://www.icanpeacework.org/

Go to their web site to see what you can do. We cannot be silent.

CSW Day 2

CSW is the most prominent gathering of women for bringing attention to the rights of women around the world. It is in effect a political process for member states to agree on policies and actions they will take to promote women’s rights and to eliminate all forms of violence against women. Bottom line, member states have already agreed to actions, but there is a gap between promises and action.

The US has some major issues – big surprise… As I understand it, the US has not ratified CEDAW (CEDAW) Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination of Women. From the web site:

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

Now, I don’t know the reason why the US has not ratified it, but my guess is that CEDAW includes reproductive rights, and the Republicans would not go for it. Sounds like the stupidity over VAWA and civil rights debates and lack of political will to protect half our population.

We should be pushing our politicians to ratify CEDAW and to transform our culture to pay attention to the issues facing women and girls, to eliminate rape, to prosecute perpetrators.

According to UNWomen, the 4 Ps are key:

Prevention
Protection
Prosecution of perpetrators
Provision of services

By the way, this is the largest participation at CSW with 6000 people gathering to show how important this issue is.

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FGM

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What a powerful experience to hear from a survivor of female genital mutilation. It was so overwhelming it is almost impossible to describe. Chiku Ali is beyond remarkable. Please learn about her. She is from a small village in Tanzania, of the Nyaturus people. She gave a powerful, forceful and passionate talk about the history of FGM in Tanzania. It was banned in 1969 (or there about) with a newly independent government from Britian, but her village refused to change because of such strong traditions, lack of education, poverty, lack of water that caused disease – it is a complex topic, but she explained it well.

Some girls are cut multiple times, 3 or 4 or more because adults believe that the cutting cures some diseases. Many die from loss of blood.

She herself was “cut”. She discovered when she was sent to boarding school that not all girls were cut and that it is not a good thing to do. It was a difficult transition for her to realize, and she now speaks out about it and educates women and girls and men that it is harmful and violence against women and girls.

These women are so inspirational – they are courageous, intelligent, and filled with passion to save others and to change minds through awareness.

Campaign in India to end domestic violence

this organization breakthrough.tv has some great videos on what you can do to stop domestic violence

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=relmfu&v=zmNz0cTcxFU

CSW Day 1

For some reason this didn’t get posted when I wanted to. Using an iPad instead of a computer, so it has taken me some time to get adjusted to using it. I think I have it now, so here are some random observations and thoughts on that first day/em>

Today is the first official day of the CSW – the NGO parallel conference. This year’s CSW has 6000 people registered – the largest gathering at a CSW – the largest gathering for elimination of violence against women. So many women are here who are actively working to fight against human trafficking, forced marriage of children, rape, forced prostitution, you name it.

The gathering today was the NGO CSW Forum 2013 Program for Consultation Day – a full day of panels on different aspects of ending violence against women. The head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet (former president of Chile) spoke and reiterated – women’s rights are human rights, the key point at Beijing in 1995. … Here are random ideas and thoughts from the day.

We can have no peace, no prosperity without full participation of women

Violence against women is a major obstacle to advancing sustainable development.

Inequality is the main challenge for this century.

(from Bineta Diop – Chair Femmes Africains Solidarite) We must also realize that people are not benefactors but partners in development Women do not start the wars but are in the middle of the receiving end of it.

Panel on Human Trafficking (HT): There are no signs of HT diminishing. Why? We are dealing with the consequences (and not all that well, my 2 cents), rather than the root causes.

$44.3 billion profits from forced labor – globally
$31.5 billion profits from trafficked victims

………..

There is so much to learn here. It’s too much to write about just now and I have only an iPad so it is a little difficult to post.

Then and Now – Here and There

I grew up Catholic.  In the Book of Daniel, there are 2 extra chapters in the Catholic Bible – one introduces Susanna, an extremely beautiful married woman who repelled two rapists, but was accused of sleeping with another man to cover the rapists’ story.  She was sentenced to death.   The two were older men, elders, judges of the Jews in Babylon.

Susanna’s husband, Joakim, was very rich and whose home was a center for the elders and others who frequently visited.   The two elders lusted after Susanna because she was so beautiful.     When guests would leave, she would go into the walled garden to walk.

One day after everyone had left, she went for a walk in the garden and decided to bath in the water.   The two elders had previously left, but snuck back into the garden and were hiding waiting for her.   When her maids left her alone, the two men tried to rape her.   They threatened her that if she didn’t comply, they would testify against her saying they caught her lying another man, which would end in death for her.   Rather than succumb to them, she screamed and fought them.   Others came out to the screaming and the two men claimed that they found her lying with another man who got away.  They said that they had simply been walking in the garden and witnessed the infidelity episode.

A trial ensued.  The two old men – the judges – accused her and also set the sentence of execution.  As she was led to her execution, she prayed to God for to help her.   Daniel was young at the time, and God spoke to the people through him.   Daniel yelled to stop and announced that Susanna was innocent.  Reminiscent of Solomon, he then separated the two elders to get their stories separately.  Their stories did not match, which was a clear indication they were lying.   Susanna was freed and God struck down the two elders.

——

Sound familiar?   This story was probably written between 64BC and the beginning of the Christian period, according to The Catholic Study Bible.    2000 years.

So one thing that struck me in the story is that when the household came to the garden because of the screaming, why didn’t anyone ask why the 2 men were there?  What’s with that?  Shouldn’t that have been a bit of a red flag?  But they were men, elders in the community, authorities, and not subject to question.

What a woman does, what she wears, her status in the community – none of these things matter to a molester, to an abuser, to one who is self serving, to one who is concerned only with self.    And the blameless victim is blamed.

What is so frightening is this continues to play out day after day, in all cultures.   Yes, in the US too.   (if you read the story about Stubenville, this will all resonate)

News from Egypt yesterday was startling.  On NPR Morning Edition, they covered that sexual violence against women is on the rise, particularly at political demonstrations, and now women are speaking out.

“Sexual violence has become a chronic problem in Egypt, a state where security is breaking down and mass protests are un-policed.

Here, a radical Salafi sheikh who goes by Abu Islam, mocks women who’ve been assaulted at protests. He was speaking on a satellite Arabic television channel that reaches millions of people. He says these women who get raped are goons, devils with no shame, and no men to hold them back from shameless acts.

But it’s not only the radicals who say these things. In the upper house of Egypt’s parliament, several Islamist legislators said basically the same thing. If they don’t want to get raped, women shouldn’t go to protests.

Some of the assaults the group has documented involved women in their 60s, some who covered every inch of their bodies, including their faces. On January 25 alone, the second anniversary of Egypt’s uprising, at least 19 cases of assault against women were documented at protests in Cairo.”

So – what can we do?

Be aware, Speak out, Help your sisters

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