Monday, March 30, 2009

Australian Brides - what's in a name?

"More Australian women are reverting to tradition by adopting their husbands' surnames when they marry.

And despite being an apparent nod to the past, the trend is said to be largely driven by technology - along with a loosening of feminist ideals.

American women's rights advocate Lucy Stone kicked off the idea of keeping maiden names when she refused to change to her husband's surname at the altar in 1921.

In recent years there have been several variations, with many women - and some men - embracing double-barrelled surnames when they marry.

But Melissa Johnstone, who sells name-change kits through her website, said there had been a20 per cent increase in the number of women changing to their husbands' surnames in the past year. "

The Song of the Cid

The movie "El Cid" is one of my favourites - I have this "thing" for Charleton Heston.

Anyway, this article from Medieval News caught my eye and I thought you might enjoy reading it too - El Cid written by an Arab

"The medieval epic poem "El Cantar del Mio Cid" (The Song of the Cid), a Spanish-language account of the adventures of a warlord and nobleman during the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims, is not as Spanish as generally believed but instead was written by a Arab poet, a scholar says."

Polio Women and Girl Development Organization

From allAfrica:
"The Polio Women and Girl Development Organization in Hastings has never received any help from government, and it is now hoping it could support itself with a new bakery.

Mariama Jalloh, the chairlady of the organization, said it started working for the polio women and girls in March 1997 but due to the war there was a setback. It started work again in 2002. In 1999, the ministry of lands and country planning gave the organization two acres of land.

Jalloh said the home is presently facing serious problem in terms of poor medical facilities, which have resulted in the death of many in the home. She said the main sicknesses are malaria and typhoid, along with complications with pregnant disabled women.

The home also lacks electric facilities, which could help them have light at night and even to do their jobs at daytime."

Ana Paula dos Santos: No to violence against women

From allAfrica:
"Angolan first lady, Ana Paula dos Santos, said Sunday in Luanda that men use violence against women as a way of showing authority and supremacy.

The first lady said so to the press after attending the "Health and Wellbeing" event, organised by Deana Day Beauty and Aesthetics Centre.

According to Ana Paula, in using force, men only get to have women more distant and their own (men) image damaged.

To the first lady, women are not fragile beings, on contrary they are just sensitive and men who practice acts of violence against them are cowards who feel inferior and seek ways to hurt them physical and psychologically.

Ana Paula dos Santos appealed to men to learn that women are a strong being that can be a partner and a friend within or outside the home.

As to the event, Ana Paula dos Santos said it is a call to all women to participate in physical activities, take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health that is essential for a good social performance.

The "Health and Wellbeing" event is part of the celebrations of the Women month (Março) and the Father's day."

Rally to Mourn DV Victims

From Adelaide Now:
"Mourners will gather at Parliament House this morning to highlight the deaths of women and children from domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Crisis Service executive officer Gilian Cordell said the rally would raise awareness of a problem that was underfunded and often hidden.

"There's been some very public deaths of women recently but there are an awful lot that never get publicised," she said.

On March 4, a woman and her son, 2, were stabbed to death in their Angle Park home. The woman's husband has been charged with their murder.

Ms Cordell said her service never had enough shelter vacancies to cope with the demand from women seeking refuge.

Last financial year, she housed 261 women in shelters and had to use motel rooms for another 581 women, who were accompanied by 761 children.

"When the two women died, they were referred to in the publicity as domestic disputes," she said. "We were rather concerned that we heard that terminology.

"It isn't a dispute; it's domestic violence, it's illegal and it has awful consequences. By softening the language, it takes away some of the real sting." Ms Cordell said she wanted women to report domestic violence. They were less likely to report a "dispute".

"When someone produces a weapon, it's no longer a dispute," she said. "It then becomes an attack."

The chairman of the coalition of Domestic Violence Services SA, Vicki Lachlan, said more needed to be done to address "systemic failures" in the justice and human services system.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who will speak at the rally, said domestic violence in any form was unacceptable."

See also: Measuring Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

21 Leaders for 21st Century

Women's eNews has a page dedicated to 21 leaders - 20 women and one man - who are considered to be notable people for this century.

Please drop by and check out 21 Leaders for the 21st century.

You might also want to see who made the list in 2008.

Women in Engineering

From the University of Wollongong, News & Media:
"Enrolments in the School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering (SECTE) have usually included only one or two women in each year.

But this year, much to the surprise of staff, that figure has soared to 12 – meaning that 20% of first year SECTE students are women.

To mark the occasion the school held a first-year women in engineering lunch today (Wednesday) so the students had a chance to meet each other and female staff in the faculty.

Lecturer in the School, Dr Montse Ros hosted the lunch and told the students about the different ways they can be a part of the traditionally male-dominated faculty.

“Throughout your degree, you should voice your ideas about how to make courses more female friendly,” she told the group.

She also encouraged students to apply for scholarships, attend Women in Engineering conferences, and get involved by becoming student representatives.

Dr Ros said the lunch was an important step in making the new students feel welcome in a traditionally male-dominated field."


From the ABC (Australia):
"A snapshot of Australian social trends shows couples are more likely to live together before marriage, but women are still doing most of the housework.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that while woman have taken on more paid work, they still do about two thirds of the housework, while men do two-thirds of paid work.

The report, called Australian Social Trends, is a quarterly analysis of Australian society."

They do say a woman's work is never done. We work even when asleep - it's called multi-tasking!

Saintly Relics

Now, a bit of news on the medieval front.

From the Guardian:
"The new medieval gallery at the British Museum is full of beautiful images of saints in ivory, stone, gold and wood - but invisible to visitors, it also holds the bones of 39 real saints, whose discovery came as a shock to their curator.

The relics, packed in tiny bundles of cloth including one scrap of fabric over 1,000 years old, were found when a 12th-century German portable altar was opened for the first time since it came into the British Museum collection in 1902.

It was in for a condition check and cleaning, before going on display in the gallery that opens tomorrow - but to the amazement of James Robinson, curator of medieval antiquities, when it was opened a linen cloth was revealed, and inside it dozens of tiny bundles of cloth, each neatly labelled on little pieces of vellum.

The most precious was the relic of St Benedict, an Italian who in the early 6th century was credited as the father of the western monastic tradition, founding monasteries and establishing guiding principles still followed at many monasteries. The relic was wrapped in cloth that was itself an extraordinary object, a piece of silk from 8th or 9th century Byzantium.

Each Roman Catholic altar-stone is supposed to contain at least one relic of a saint, usually in the form of minute flakes of bone. There was a clue on the back of the museum's altar in a list of names beginning slightly implausibly with John the Baptist, and including saints James, John and Mary Magdalene."

The Women's Orchestra of Birkenau

From Associated Press:
"When Gustav Mahler's niece greeted new arrivals at a Nazi death camp, she knew that any woman who stepped off the train with a musical instrument had a chance to live. Women in Alma Rose's orchestra were forced to entertain SS officers at the Birkenau concentration camp. All the women survived — except Rose.

Now, an American chorus and orchestra is paying tribute to those musicians with concerts in the U.S. and Germany titled "Music in Desperate Times: Remembering The Women's Orchestra of Birkenau."

On Saturday, Ars Choralis will play at Manhattan's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, whose Episcopal bishop had spoken against the persecution of Jews in Europe already in 1933."

See also: Ars Choralis

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Betsy Blair

From Times Online:
"Betsy Blair created one of cinema’s greatest mousy women when she played the lonely, tongue-tied spinster who begins a hesitant relationship with Ernest Borgnine’s “mummy’s boy” butcher in the downbeat American drama Marty (1955).

It was an unexpected critical and commercial success, winning Academy Awards for best picture, actor, director and screenplay, and Blair received an Oscar nomination and won a British Academy Award.

She got the role of Clara Snyder in Marty despite having been caught up in the Hollywood anti-communist witch-hunts and put on the notorious blacklist. But her husband was Gene Kelly, who was threatening to walk out on MGM if its executives did not start pulling some strings.

She and Kelly split up not long after Marty and she moved to Europe, first to Paris and then London, and worked mainly in European films. She never had another role that came anywhere near to the significance of Clara. "

Janet Jagan

From Gulf News:
"Janet Jagan, a Chicago native who became Guyana's first white and first female president, died on Saturday, a government official said. She was 88.

Jagan died at a state-run hospital of an abdominal aneurism, Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy said.

Jagan was elected president of the South American country in December 1997, succeeding her husband, Cheddi Jagan, who died earlier that year.

At 77, she was the first white president of a country whose politics are polarised between its majority Guyanese of Indian descent and Afro-Guyanese.

Citing reduced energy and stamina after suffering a mild heart attack, Jagan stepped down in August 1999, less than two years after taking office."

From the Star Tribune:
"Janet Jagan, a Chicago native who became Guyana's first white and first female president, died Saturday, a government official said. She was 88.

Jagan died at a state-run hospital of an abdominal aneurism, Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy said.

Jagan, a Jewish woman and a naturalized Guyanese, was elected president of the English-speaking South American country in December 1997, succeeding her husband, Cheddi Jagan, who died earlier that year.

At 77, she was the first white president of a country whose politics are polarized between its majority Guyanese of Indian descent — the backbone of her ruling party — and Afro-Guyanese, supporters of the opposition People's National Congress.

"My husband told me I should take over should anything happen to him," she told The Associated Press while contemplating her presidential run.

Opposition leaders repeatedly accused Jagan's government of racism and took to the streets in sometimes-violent protest. Jagan, in turn, claimed the opposition was trying to destabilize her government.

Citing reduced energy and stamina after suffering a mild heart attack, Jagan stepped down in August 1999, less than two years after taking office.

Jagan had lived in the former British Guiana, situated on the Caribbean in northern South America, since 1943. She met her husband in Chicago, where he was a dentist studying for his doctorate at Northwestern University. She was his assistant.

After they moved to his native Guyana, both hard-line communists became active in politics. British and American administrations blocked Cheddi Jagan from power for decades, alarmed by his ties to Cuba and Moscow. She endured three years of house arrest and five months in jail with her husband in the 1950s, when he first won an election.

Cheddi Jagan got to rule Guyana in 1992, but he died before serving a full term."

Hilary Clinton Honoured

From the Houston Chronicle:
"Helping women’s reproductive and health rights flourish is an important part of U.S. efforts to develop democracy around the world and defeat extremism, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a speech Friday.

“A society that denies and demeans women’s rights and roles is a society that is more likely to engage in behavior that is negative, anti-democratic and leads to violence and extremism,” Clinton said at Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s national conference in Houston.

Clinton spoke to the organization after being honored for her work on behalf of women’s health and reproductive rights. She was endorsed by Planned Parenthood during her unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton said she was grateful for being given Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award — the organization’s highest honor. It is named after the group’s founder."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Historical Women of USA

Great website that I thought I would share with you: Legends of America, which has a great list of Historical Women.
"Limited in their legal rights and accepted customs of society at the time, women mostly honored their husbands demands and spent their time cooking meals, tending to children, watering the horses and taking care of the household chores. But that was not always the case. There are hundreds of women who stand out in American history, due to their strong characters, contributions to society, or plain old interesting personalities.

From the hardy pioneers who crossed the vast prairies and mountains heading westward, to nurses, abolitionists, stagecoach drivers, and even a few doctors and soldiers, you'll find their stories here.

For those less fortunate, forced by circumstance, need, and sometimes adventure, you'll also find female outlaws, gamblers, powerful Madams, their brothels and a bevy of soiled doves.

In the days when the West was ruled by the gun, it took a woman of great character and strong resolve to survive."

Check out the alphabetical listing here.

Venetian Vampire - Part II

Following on from my post - Venetian Vampire, comes a bit more from National Geographic News by way of explaining the "brick in the mouth" scenario - and complete with picture:
"Belief in vampires was rampant in the Middle Ages, mostly because the process of decomposition was not well understood.

Since tombs were often reopened during plagues so other victims could be added, Italian gravediggers saw these decomposing bodies with partially "eaten" shrouds, Borrini said.

Vampires were thought by some to be causes of plagues, so the superstition took root that shroud-chewing was the "magical way" that vampires spread pestilence, he said. Inserting objects—such as bricks and stones—into the mouths of alleged vampires was thought to halt the disease. "

How delightful!

Petra Oderbrecht

From the Daily Tribune:
"A German-born woman is breaking new ground in Indonesia by running for parliament in next month’s general election, and is learning some tough lessons about politics along the way.

Petra Oderbrecht has lived in Indonesia for 20 years and is hoping to win a seat in the central parliament representing the resort island of Bali for the nationalist Democratic Renewal Party.

The first white candidate to contest an Indonesian election said she decided to run because she wanted to contribute to her adopted country, a sweeping archipelago in Southeast Asia with 234 million people, mainly Muslims.

Her priorities are equal rights for women and respect for cultural diversity in a country with significant Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu and animist minorities."

Egyptian Women

Excerpts from Marlene Phillip's article in the Phoenix Liberal Examiner: Egyptian Women - Image vs Reality

"According to an article in the March 30 issue of Time, more than 80% of Egyptian women wear the hijab, loosely defined as a head covering or modest dress. Based on my observations during a recent visit to Egypt, I would not agree with that figure; it is too low. Virtually every Egyptian women I saw covered her hair completely, most wore loose fitting clothes, and a smaller but surprisingly significant number donned a full burqa.

When seen in person, the difference between the woman on the Egyptian street and what is portrayed by the Egyptian media and marketers is so dramatic it leads to many questions."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pioneering Women of the East

From Outlook Online:
"Some think that women’s rights were recognized first in western states because of those rugged women who walked the Oregon Trail, gave birth in wagon beds, grubbed farms from raw land and wrestled a few wildcats when necessary. Having proved equal to the West, how could you deny them a ballot?

Wyoming, Utah and Idaho were front-runners. The state of Washington was the fifth state in the nation to give women the right to vote in 1910. In 1912, Oregon and Arizona fell in line.

Women in East Multnomah County were quick to grab up those rights and put them to use. Corbett school histories note that Lizzie Latourell served on the school board of Latourell and Mountain schools as early as 1901.

In rural communities where the talent pool was smaller and the gender gap not as wide, it was easier to elect a woman whom all voters, men and women, knew to be capable.

That happened to Troutdale’s Clara Latourell Larsson, one of a handful of first female mayors in Oregon. Like her relative Lizzie Latourell, she made an easy transition from the ballot to the gavel. Elected mayor of Troutdale in 1913, a year after women got the vote in Oregon, she served in city government in one capacity or another until shortly before her death in 1939.

Her good friend, Laura Bullock Harlow, became Troutdale’s second woman mayor in 1925. She was, said the newspapers, “of the Republican faith.” She lived in the house that is now the city’s Harlow House Museum and was mayor when Troutdale built its new school in 1926.

Lena St. Clair, sitting at a high bookkeeper’s desk in the front office, worked side by side with her husband to found The Gresham Outlook in 1911. She wrote about city government before she could vote for those who governed.

Margaret Weil became Gresham’s first woman mayor in 1983, resigning in 1987. In 1988 Norma Jean (Gussie) McRobert was elected and served the city for 10 years.

Beyond the political arena, Gresham can claim community builders such as the late Betty Schedeen, business women such as the late Mildred Fancher Hodges, who kept Fancher Auto Parts thriving after the death of her husband in a plane crash, and Dr. Corinne Trullinger Chamberlain, Gresham’s first female doctor who brought 5,000 children into the world.

All but McRobert and Weil were born to women who did not have full voting rights until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. "

Arkansas Business' 25 Women Leaders

From Arkansas Business:
"By any standard, the CEO of Arkansas Business Publishing Group, Olivia Myers Farrell, should be on the following list, but she graciously removed herself to make room for one more notable woman business leader from the past 25 years."

Read the article and discover a list of twenty-five women who have made an impact in the business world over the last twenty-five years.

Women & Economics

From Wicked Local:
"The Women’s Economic Summit will present the leading women authorities on ‘womenomics’ at Cumnock Hall, UMass Lowell on Monday, April 6. These experts will offer new insights to professional and business leaders on the increasingly powerful role of women in today’s economic world.

The Women’s Economic Summit is the inspiration of an unprecedented collaboration of seven different women’s networking organizations representing over 20,000 professional and business women throughout New England. The Summit brings together renowned national and international women leaders in a unique event designed to provide focus of where women have been, where women are now, and the new realities of women in the world of tomorrow.

The Women’s Economic Summit is the first of its kind, targeting an educated, influential audience of businesswomen and addressing the incredible impact of women on today’s economics. Come join us in a unique event designed to provide focus of where women have been, where we are now, and the new realities of women in the world of tomorrow. Explore the evolution of women in the business and economic worlds - from invisible - to visible - to the actual control of wealth. Chart the progress and influence women have on the world today, and illuminate the economic power of women of the future."

"Legends & Legacies"

From PR Newswire:
"Just more than one year after it was created, the office of Women Faculty Programs at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has introduced a collection of essays by leading women faculty aimed at inspiring generations of women scientists to come.

Legends and Legacies: Personal Journeys of Women Physicians and Scientists at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center presents the reflections of 26 current faculty women on their formative years and influences, their hurdles and opportunities as they pursued rewarding careers - and leadership roles - in science and academic medicine.

Anecdotes and insight shared throughout the book reveal personal struggles and bias based on gender, race or social/economic background, as the women sought to balance personal and professional lives, including the often competing demands of motherhood and the tenure track. The women profiled represent diverse ages, backgrounds and cultures and various professional roles, from clinicians and physician scientists to basic scientists and veterinarians."

The Maternal Inheritance

Article by Miri Rubin in the Guardian:
"While we share in the cultural heritage that made mother the quintessence of nurture and suffering, and are moved by Michaelangelo's Pietà or Schubert's Ave Maria, much has changed.

Mothers are no longer solely imagined as inhabiting and guarding the home and its mysteries. In societies where women have access to education, citizenship and careers, mothers inhabit the same sort of spheres of culture and politics as their offspring. They face the same challenges at work and on the streets.

Mothers are no longer made mysterious by their ageless dark garb, and are no longer solely dependent on the implicit backup of the father's sternness. This new motherhood is colourful, and it is messy. Mothers sometimes pose as the Madonna or the Pietà. But most of the time they write the scripts as they go along."

Miri is also the author of "The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Middle Ages"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Powerful Muslim Women

From Times Online:
"There are more than 100,000 Muslim women currently working in Britain, yet many feel misunderstood and misrepresented. These women share the ambitions and challenges of all working women: to succeed at a good job and often to combine marriage and motherhood with a fulfilling career. Yet searching for positive role models can be unrewarding work, and there has not, until now, been a professional social network for working Muslim women."

These women are:
  • Farmida Bi
  • Mishal Husain
  • Sabina Iqbal
  • Imtaz Khaliq
  • Baroness Warsi
  • Professor Farida Fortune
  • Bushra Nasir
  • Dr Gülnur Aybet
  • Mehmuda Mian
  • Reedah N. El-Saie
  • Salma Yaqoob
  • Rimla Akhtar
  • Zahida Manzoor CBE
Thereafter follows a long list of other notable Muslim women.

Phenomenal Women

From Jamaica Gleaner News:

Elaina Gonsalves
"... Gonsalves notes her most impactful accomplishment as the establishment of the unified non-bank financial institutions regulatory authority.

Jamaica is never far from her heart and in her work as a Methodist minister Gonsalves shares her experiences as a Jamaican woman in her interactions with women serving in the armed forces and counselling male/female marital relations."

Andrea Shaw
"Andrea Shaw is assistant director of the division of humanities and an assistant professor of English at Nova South-eastern University in Fort Lauderdale"

Interview with Lisa Vetten

From allAfrica, a snippet from Stephanie Nieuwoudt's interview with gender rights activist, Lisa Vetten:

"With its emphasis on gender equality, the South African constitution is regarded as a great example for many other developing countries. Yet, despite laws intended to protect the rights of women like the Sexual Abuse Act and the Domestic Violence Act, women in the country still suffer indignities at the hands of police and in court.

Lisa Vetten, a policy analyst at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, an organisation that protects the rights of women, has been fighting for the rights of women for most of her life."

Palestine: Female Judges

From Globe & Mail:
"Judge Khuloud al-Faqeeh's biggest fear when she became one of the first two female Palestinian Islamic judges was that men would refuse to stand before her. As in every Arab and Muslim country with the exception of Sudan, only men passed judgment in Islamic courts.

“They expect a man with a beard and a turban,” said Judge al-Faqeeh, smiling wryly from behind her desk as her hand made a circular movement above her cream-coloured satin head scarf.

Considered by many in this male-dominated society to be too emotional to serve as judges, women in Islamic courts were there to receive judgments, not to give them. The results were frequently unfair. But after the appointment of two women judges to Islamic courts in the West Bank last month, Palestinian women have begun to find an understanding ear – and more equitable judgments.

Women across the Muslim world consider the Palestinian women judges a milestone for women's rights. But some disagree, arguing that Islamic law prohibits equality of the sexes."

Queen Himiko

From Asahi:
"Researchers say they have found evidence of what may be an early third-century palace that could have been part of the Yamatai kingdom ruled by Himiko, the legendary queen.

The site is estimated to date from the late second century to early fourth century.

Researchers also uncovered evidence of fortified barriers stretching 40 meters.

It is the first time that such a sophisticated series of structures has been found from that period, said an official of the city education board.

"The site could have been the western end of an important place, such as a palace," said an expert.

In 1978, researchers with the Kashihara Archaeological Institute in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, discovered evidence of what appeared to have been a shrine measuring 5 meters by 5 meters, along with a 15-meter-long fortified barrier.

Excavations from February by Sakurai city turned up three holes for pillars measuring about 15 centimeters in diameter about 5 meters east of the shrine-like building, as well as a 25-meter barrier which presumably consisted of wooden stakes.

The evidence suggests a building of at least 6 meters in length stood from north to south.

An examination of past discoveries suggests that pillar holes found 10 meters to the west of the shrine-like building may have been part of a separate structure that measured more than 2 meters by 5 meters.

Hironobu Ishino, an archaeologist and director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology, said it may have been the site of a palace for Himiko.

"It is absolutely stunning to find three buildings dating from as early as the third century that were lined up straight," he said. "It is such a beautiful layout. I wonder if it reflects the influence of Chinese culture.

"If the site is really from the ancient Yamatai kingdom, then the remains might have been a palace of Himiko's."

Kaoru Terasawa, an official at the Kashihara Archaeological Institute, agrees the site is very significant.

"The fact that it was surrounded by a complex array of barriers would mean the place was very special," he said. "The pillar holes found so far are too small for a central building, but I hope the extended excavation to the eastern area will turn up evidence of a larger building."

Some experts say the Makimuku ruins, which lie 1.5 kilometers north to south and 2 km east to west, was the burial mound for Himiko, who is said to have died in 248."

Khadijeh Saqafi

From BBC News:
"Thousands of Iranians have attended the funeral of Khadijeh Saqafi - the widow of Ayatollah Khomeini, the architect of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Khadijeh Saqafi, who was known as the "mother of the Islamic revolution", died on Saturday at the age of 93.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior officials took part in the funeral prayer, led by current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

She was buried at Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine in Tehran.

The ayatollah, who died in 1989, became Iran's first supreme leader after the 1979 Islamic revolution and instituted the current cleric-led system. "

Marriage by Ruse

From the Australian:
"The Family Court has been forced to intervene in the cases of two women who say they were tricked into marriage with Muslim men who had recently arrived in Australia.

The women -- one of whom is Muslim-born and the other a convert -- claim they were told they were taking part in Islamic ceremonies that would enable them to spend time alone with the men without breaking Islamic law. In fact, the women were being legally married to men they had known for only three days in one case, and for less than a month in the other. The ceremonies were conducted entirely in Arabic by local sheiks.

In the first case, a woman told the court she had met her groom when he got off the plane at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport. Three days later, an imam turned up at her father's house in Melbourne. She was told to put on a headscarf, asked not to speak, told to "Sign here, here and here", and after signing a "bundle of documents", was told to leave the room so the men could have tea and biscuits. A year later, she found out she had been married to the man that day, although she had not seen him since.

The court annulled the marriage on February 9, after the bride produced a certificate from a medical practitioner to show the marriage had not been consummated.

In the second case, a Sydney woman told the court she took part in an Arabic ceremony a week after meeting a Lebanese-born man at a party. Immediately after the ceremony, the Lebanese-born man went to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, where he applied for permanent residency.

The woman told the court last month she had converted to Islam in November 2007, and met her husband at a party in Sydney early last May. She said that on May 20, he had told her: "If we are going to be serious and have a sexual relationship, we must see the sheik and make sure it is right byGod."

"She asserts the marriage was not to be a civil or state ceremony," the court documents say, "but an Islamic marriage only, not binding under civil law." She said there was "some pressure to go through the ceremony quickly". She admitted signing a document that clearly bore the words "Commonwealth of Australia Marriage Certificate".

She told the court: "I didn't realise he had done an Australian marriage. I assumed it was an Islamic marriage." She said the documents that she was given to sign were "in blank form". She said she would be "more than willing if someone loves me to go with an Islamic marriage, but not an Australian marriage straight away". "There's a chance they can use me and put me and my family in a bad situation," the woman said.

She failed to have the marriage annulled, largely because she admitted she had known she was going through some form of marriage. The judge said she "thought the ceremony she went through was not binding upon her under Australian law". This, he said, was a mistake, but not one he would undo."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jacobite Women

As the day approaches commemorating the march of the Jacobites to their doom on the battlefield of Culloden in 1745, I present this article from September 2008, on the women behind the men of the Jacobites.

From BBC News:
"The role of women during the Jacobite rising of 1745 and at the Battle of Culloden is to be explored during events later this month.

The National Trust for Scotland said it would be its first event to focus on women of the '45.

Author Maggie Craig will give a talk on the research for her book, Damn Rebel Bitches.

Nicole Deufel, learning manager at Culloden, said further events would look at women on the government side.

Strong Women - A Tribute to Heroines will be held at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre on 27 and 28 September.

Government spies:
Ms Craig studied letters and records from the 1700s in her research.

She said: "The research was quite difficult. I had to look for the men and then the women attached to them."

What she found were women playing key roles in raising men to fight for the Jacobite cause and going on to the battlefield at Culloden to tend to dying and injured men.

A follow-up book - Bare-arsed Banditti - looking at some of the rising's less well-known male characters will be published next year.

Ms Deufel said the two days follow the trust's efforts to recognise the roles of women in an exhibition at the new visitor centre.

She said a future event would investigate women on the government side, some of which she said put their lives at risk as spies."

Web Links:
Author: Maggie Craig
BBC News: Jacobites March Recreated

Anna Bligh

Congratulations to Anna Bligh - the first woman to be elected a State Premier in Australia.

From the Courier Mail:
"Ms Bligh has created history last night, defying every opinion poll, to easily win the Queensland election and earn the Labor Party a fifth consecutive term.

The 48-year-old mother of two became the first female politician to be elected a premier in any Australian state.

Labor suffered a 4 per cent swing across the state yesterday but it was half what the Liberal National Party required to win government."

From The Standard:
"Queenslanders yesterday elected Labor under Anna Bligh to a fifth term in government. Anna Bligh now becomes the first woman to be elected as Premier in Australia - Joan Kirner and Carmen Lawrence were both appointed after the resignations of Peter Dowding and John Cain respectively, and Anna became Premier in Queensland when Peter Beattie resigned.

The recently united Liberal/Country Party under Lawrence Springborg needed a swing of 7.6% to win government, and in the end achieved around 4%, much less than many had expected.

Bligh’s campaign was built around a relentless focus on protecting Queenslanders’ jobs."

Web Links:
ABC New South Wales: Anna Bligh
Queensland Government: Premier of Queensland

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Noblewoman's Tomb in Saqqara

From Al-Ahram Weekly:
"As for the sarcophagus, Yoshimura explained that this was partially broken but its shape was identifiable. It is a fine limestone sarcophagus inscribed in sunken relief and painted in a brilliant blue colour. It has a vaulted lid, and bears the name of its owner, Isisnofret, whose title means "the noble woman".

"This is a title that is very rare in the New Kingdom," Yoshimura said, adding that since Prince Khaemwaset had a daughter named Isisnofret and his monument was located on the same outcrop, then the owner of the sarcophagus could probably be this daughter of the prince."

From National Geographic News:
"The tomb has been identified as belonging to a woman named Isisnofret—possibly the granddaughter of Pharaoh Ramses II, who reigned during the 13th century B.C.

Hieroglyphics on a sarcophagus in the tomb identify Isisnofret as a spst, or noblewoman—an honorific reserved for women of the royal family or of otherwise exceptional status.

Isisnofret's identity remains a mystery, though Egyptologists see clues in the tomb's close proximity to a monument for Pharaoh Ramses II's son Prince Khaemwaset. The prince had a daughter named Isisnofret—a granddaughter of the pharaoh—though the name was common at the time."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Yemeni Queen

From the Yemen News Agency:
"A Yemeni archaeologist team has discovered a mosaic statue of a women sitting on a throne with here chest engraved with Musnad letters. The archaeologists also found other relics including a stone board with faith signs engraved on it.

Two pulls separated by a tree were carved on the stone board, a symbol that was know as "Life's Tree" in ancient Yemeni civilization, director of the authority Ali al-Sanabani said. Other symbols like crescent were imprinted on found relics.

The discoveries were revealed during excavations at a site in Dhamar province where the team found buildings that were used to give sacrifices. Al-Sanabani expected the site is a trace of the Yatrib city of the Sheba civilization."

Blogs: Haven for Egyptian Women

From BBC News:
"Young Egyptian women are using blogs and online radio stations to beat the censors and to fight for equality.

Despite making up only 24% of the workforce in Egypt, 30% of women use the internet.

But it is the middle and upper classes that have really taken to the internet as an alternative way to discuss topics and exchange information and air what many conservatives would consider to be radical views.

Often exploiting the anonymity afforded by the internet they tell personal stories, share political and cultural views, post favourite pictures, and talk about their daily frustrations. "

Women in Journalism

From the Columbia Journalism Review:
"When the team of Washington Post investigative reporters gathered in their editor’s office to put the finishing touches on a groundbreaking series on egregious housing violations in the nation’s capital, one thing caught their attention: all the people in the room were women. In a measure of how far women have come in the top ranks of journalism, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary to them. It was all in a day’s work.

The prominence of women in political and investigative journalism today was affirmed several times over Tuesday evening, as women for the first time dominated the winning Goldsmith awards in political journalism, handed out at the annual Harvard Kennedy School ceremony."

UNESCO Celebrates Women

From the Examiner:
"A woman, knowing it or not, plays a vital role at work, home and in society. While some women became part of our history and present day activism and achievement, other women are no any less important to a society. One would argue if raising a child is not an achievement – thus, it is; only it didn’t get to be mentioned in a history textbook. That’s the point of one of the photojournalists, Paola Gianturco, whose book Celebrating Women gives an appreciation to a woman of yours and mine lives."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Queen Cleopatra

From BBC News:
"Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, renowned for her beauty, was part African, says a BBC team which believes it has found her sister's tomb.

Queen Cleopatra was a descendant of Ptolemy, the Macedonian general who ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great.

But remains of the queen's sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an "African" skeleton.

There was plenty of sibling rivalry between Princess Arsinoe and her powerful sister Cleopatra - many believe the queen ordered Mark Anthony to murder her sister. "

See also my post on Princess Arsinoe

Casa Di Giulietta

From BBC News:
"The balcony where, according to William Shakespeare, Romeo wooed Juliet, is to be made available for weddings.

The authorities in the Italian city of Verona - setting for the tale of the two lovers - say they want to foster its image as a centre for romance.

The Casa Di Giulietta (house of Juliet) is in the heart of Verona. Folklore suggests it was once the home of the Cappello family - possibly the model for the Capulets in Shakespeare's fictional play, Romeo and Juliet.

Although some historians say there is scant evidence to back this up, the balcony on the 14th century building is still one of the city's most popular tourist destinations.

From next month, you will be able to hire it as a venue for weddings.

But before you rush to this most romantic of settings consider the price - up to $1,300 (£930) for non European Union residents. Officials say they want to enhance the city's image as the perfect place for love and marriage.

But remember two things: first, that Italian health and safety laws are likely to prevent modern day Romeos from climbing up the balcony to woo their brides; and second, that Shakespeare's immortal work ends in tragedy. "

Henry VIII - emotionaly dependent upon women

From the Telegraph:
"Unlike most early modern princes the Tudor monarch was brought up in a feminine household and was almost certainly taught to write by his mother, analysis shows.

This upbringing shaped Henry's "emotionally incontinent" personality, leading him to fall and love with – and marry – so many women, Starkey claims.

Starkey, a Tudor specialist who has presented several television series about English monarchs, has curated a new exhibition at the British Library where examples of the king's handwriting will go on show.

Henry's square, laboured letters bear a strong resemblance to those of his mother Elizabeth of York and sister Mary, but are different to the styles of his tutors and advisers, including Sir Thomas More.

The young prince was raised by his mother from the age of 11 following the death of his father Henry VII in 1509, and surviving papers indicate that she was the strongest influence on his education and personality, according to Starkey.

"Henry's handwriting shows how very close he was to females in his youth," he said.

"He was the only boy and became emotionally dependent on women. Or, to put it more bluntly, he was emotionally incontinent."

He added: "He could never be without women in his life and was always falling in love. He also married, at least when it comes to most of his six wives, for love. It is just that he would also fall out of love."

Starkey is updating his biography of Henry to reflect the new research. Henry VIII: Man and Monarch, opens at the British Library on April 23."

Just a quick note: Henry VIII's mother, Elizabeth of York died in 1503 giving birth to a daughter, Katherine - six years before the death of his father, Henry VII. So this theory is a little moot.

Handout for Russia's richest woman

From the Independent:
"She is Russia's richest woman, and one of its most despised. Now Yelena Baturina, who rose from life as a factory worker to become a construction magnate and wife of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, is seeking a state bailout – to the joy and consternation of many.

Some are happy to see her suffer. Since Ms Baturina built her firm, Inteko, into a construction and real estate powerhouse, Moscow's landscape has been transformed. Cranes and gaudy buildings line streets that used to house centuries-old buildings and relics of Soviet architecture.

But many are up in arms that Ms Baturina, who has fallen off the Forbes list of billionaires after two years as Russia's first and only female billionaire, could be saved by the state as average Russians continue to see their quality of life deteriorate."

Mayawati Kumari

From IOL:
"A firebrand politician, self-styled living goddess and champion of India's most oppressed class is making a powerful, and some say credible, play to become the country's first "untouchable" premier.

Mayawati Kumari, a member of the Dalit community at the bottom of India's caste hierarchy, is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state which boasts a population roughly the size of Brazil's.

Hugely popular with her regional power base, she has now taken her ambitions to the national level ahead of general elections that start April.

On Sunday, she announced her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP, the Dalit Society Party) would contest seats across the country on its own, challenging the two main national parties - the ruling Congress, and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)."

See my posts:

Boys: the new girls

A rather cheeky article from Nick Curtis of the Evening Standard:
"Confirmation that male beautification is on the rise came with the sighting this weekend of Prince Harry's nail varnish. We'd already grown acclimatised to footballers like David Beckham and comedians such as David Walliams plucking and painting like billy-ho. We'd become blasé about film stars and TV presenters, such as High School Musical's Zac Efron and Alex Zane, slapping on the slap. Thanks to Eddie Izzard we've even adjusted to the idea of a butch, bearded, heterosexual man in full maquillage.

But this was a strapping, martial male royal - a war veteran and a roister-doister of the first order - with the cuticles of his left hand varnished a fetching pink. The rest of us are clearly going to have to raise our cosmetic game."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stars shine in "Blithe Spirit"

"And for the most part, the starry cast of the latest Broadway revival of "Blithe Spirit" delivers the goods, artfully keeping the classic Noel Coward comedy spinning merrily at the Shubert Theatre.

But then it helps to have Angela Lansbury on hand to play Madame Arcati, the irrepressible spiritualist who delights in contacting those beyond the grave. She makes it look easy -- and blissfully funny -- as the woman who inadvertently sets up an otherworldly love triangle. The complications involve an urbane novelist named Charles Condomine (Rupert Everett), his second wife, Ruth (Jayne Atkinson), and his departed first wife, Elvira (Christine Ebersole), who returns as a ghost to haunt her hubby."

Biography: Angela Lansbury
IMDB: Angela Lansbury
Wikipedia: Angela Lansbury

Female Circumcision in Britain

Three stories regarding the practice of female circumcision - or female genital mutilation - from the Times Online:
"The NHS is to advertise free operations to reverse female circumcisions, with experts warning that each year more than 500 British girls have their genitals mutilated.

Despite having been outlawed in 1985, female circumcision is still practised in British African communities, in some cases on girls as young as 5. Police have been unable to bring a single prosecution even though they suspect that community elders are being flown from the Horn of Africa to carry out the procedures.

Female circumcision, which is done for various reasons, such as religious and cultural traditions, can cause severe health complications including infections and psychological problems. The procedure, predominantly carried out on girls aged between 5 and 12, can range from the removal of the clitoris to the removal of all the exterior parts of the vagina, which is then sewn up."

Case Study - the Husband
"It took a death threat to stop Abdi’s wife from circumcising their two daughters, aged 2 and 4. She called him from Somalia while on holiday to say she wanted to carry out the procedure."

Case Study - the Daughter
"Both she and her sister, then 10, had been taken there by their mother for a “holiday”. “When that happened to me, I immediately lost all trust in my mother and I think that hasn’t changed to this day,” Zarah said. “In fact, I’ve lost trust in both my parents because my father was also aware of what was going to happen to us.” Zarah said that the psychological scars were worse than the pain. She has nightmares, and relationships have been ruined by her fear of intimacy. "

Princess Arsinöe

From Times Online:
"ARCHEOLOGISTS and forensic experts believe they have identified the skeleton of Cleopatra’s younger sister, murdered more than 2,000 years ago on the orders of the Egyptian queen.

The remains of Princess Arsinöe, put to death in 41BC on the orders of Cleopatra and her Roman lover Mark Antony to eliminate her as a rival, are the first relics of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be identified.

The breakthrough, by an Austrian team, has provided pointers to Cleopatra’s true ethnicity. Scholars have long debated whether she was Greek or Macedonian like her ancestor the original Ptolemy, a Macedonian general who was made ruler of Egypt by Alexander the Great, or whether she was north African.

Evidence obtained by studying the dimensions of Arsinöe’s skull shows she had some of the characteristics of white Europeans, ancient Egyptians and black Africans, indicating that Cleopatra was probably of mixed race, too. They were daughters of Ptolemy XII by different wives.

The results vindicate the theories of Hilke Thür of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who has long claimed that the skeleton was Arsinöe. She described the discovery of Arsinöe’s ethnicity as “a real sensation which leads to a new insight on Cleopatra’s family”.

Fellow experts are now convinced. Günther Hölbl, an authority on the Ptolemies, said the identification of the skeleton was “a great discovery”.

The forensic evidence was obtained by a team working under the auspices of the Austrian Archeological Institute, which is set to detail its findings at an anthropological convention in the United States later this month. The story of the discovery will also be the subject of a tele-vision documentary, Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer, to be shown on BBC1 at 9pm next Monday.

The institute’s breakthrough came about after it set out to examine Thür’s belief that an octagonal tomb in the remains of the Roman city of Ephesus contained the body of Arsinöe. According to Roman texts the city, in what is now Turkey, is where Arsinöe was banished after being defeated in a power struggle against Cleopatra and her then lover, Julius Caesar. Arsinöe was said to have been murdered after Cleopatra, now with Mark Antony following Caesar’s death, ordered the Roman general to have her younger sibling killed to prevent any future attempts on the Egyptian throne.

The distinctive tomb was first opened in 1926 by archeologists who found a sarcophagus inside containing a skeleton. They removed the skull, which was examined and measured; but it was lost in the upheaval of the second world war.

In the early 1990s Thür reentered the tomb and found the headless skeleton, which she believed to be of a young woman. Clues, such as the unusual octagonal shape of the tomb, which echoed that of the lighthouse of Alexandria with which Arsinöe was associated, convinced Thür the body was that of Cleopatra’s sister. Her theory was considered credible by many historians, and in an attempt to resolve the issue the Austrian Archeological Institute asked the Medical University of Vienna to appoint a specialist to examine the remains.

Fabian Kanz, an anthropologist, was sceptical when he began this task two years ago. “We tried to exclude her from being Arsinöe,” he said. “We used all the methods we have to find anything that can say, ‘Okay, this can’t be Arsinöe because of this and this’.”

After using carbon dating, which dated the skeleton from 200BC-20BC, Kanz, who had examined more than 500 other skeletons taken from the ruins of Ephesus, found Thür’s theory gained credibility.

He said he was certain the bones were female and placed the age of the woman at 15-18. Although Arsinöe’s date of birth is not known, she was certainly younger than Cleopatra, who was about 27 at the time of her sister’s demise.

The lack of any sign of illness or malnutrition also indicated a sudden death, said Kanz. Evidence of the skeleton’s north African ethnicity provided the final clue. Caroline Wilkinson, a forensic anthropologist, reconstructed the missing skull based on measurements taken in the 1920s. Using computer technology it was possible to create a facial impression of what Arsinöe might have looked like. “It has got this long head shape,” said Wilkinson. “That’s something you see quite frequently in ancient Egyptians and black Africans. It could suggest a mixture of ancestry.”"