Seven members of Bolivia's Mennonite Christian community have been detained over the alleged rape of 60 women or girls from their own community.
Alleged victims in the Manitoba colony, which is in Bolivia's eastern lowlands, include girls as young as 14, a prosecutor said.
The allegations emerged after the suspicious behaviour of one of the men alerted community elders.
All of those accused deny the allegations against them.
Some 30-40,000 Mennonites live as farmers in Paraguay and Bolivia.
While many Mennonites, particularly in North America, are indistinguishable from their neighbours and have religious beliefs very similar to mainline Protestant and Evangelical groups, others reject modern life and live in isolated communities.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Bolivia - Violence Against Women and Girls
They're known as the "black widows" - the women behind bars for some of the State's most unspeakable killings.
The victims were their husbands or their partners and, in a surprising number of cases, the bodies were mutilated after death.
According to the most recent inmate census undertaken by the NSW Department of Corrective Services, 38 women in prisons around the State are serving sentences for murder.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures, compiled for The Sunday Telegraph, suggest that as many as one third of those women were responsible for killing their husbands, boyfriends or former partners.
Robyn Cotterell-Jones, executive director of victim support group Vocal, said all human beings regardless of gender were capable of carrying out extreme violence.
"Human beings in general are capable of violence - including some women," she said.
A Short History of Women
The common thread in Kate Walbert's fiction is an exploration, at once intellectual and lyrical, of women throughout the 20th century (and into the 21st) coming up against society's limiting expectations and constraints.
Her new novel, "A Short History of Women," is a complex, exquisitely rendered consideration of what used to be called "The Woman Question." Told through the interwoven stories of five generations of highly intelligent but variously thwarted women, it considers women's place in society over the course of more than a century, a time frame that spans both world wars and our current multi-fronted wars.
Association of Covenant Clergy Women
The Association of Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) honored three people for their commitment to ministry excellence and furthering opportunities for women in ministry.
Award recipients were announced and awards presented during the business meeting of the Covenant Ministerium, which precedes the formal opening of the 124th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
- Linda Williams, pastor of Covenant Congregational Church in Waltham, Massachusetts, was awarded a Priscilla Pastorate Grant
- Grace Shim, Covenant missionary to Thailand, was awarded the Anderson/Nordlund Missionary Scholarship
- Richard Carlson, professor of ministry at North Park Theological Seminary was given the Mordecai Award for Outstanding Partnership
Ancient Female Solidarity
The beautifully sculpted relief panels at Tegowangi also show that female solidarity in defending their cause was a force to be reckoned with.
It was someone no less than Prince Sadewa, one of the Pandawa brothers in the Mahabharata Hindu epic, who had a rude awakening to the presence of female solidarity when he was literally dragged by his mother, Goddess Kunti, to address the case of Goddess Durga.
Though initially reluctant on being taken to face the hideous Goddess Durga and her ogress-like handmaids, Sadewa willingly conducted a purification rite. The relief panels show Sadewa sitting cross-legged and in deep meditation to undo the wicked spell cast upon Durga and her handmaids by Lord Shiva.
Shiva, Durga's husband, had cast the spell on his wife in a fit of anger, rendering the beauty into something hideous. Realizing his mistake, he decreed that the spell could be undone with the help of Sadewa.The purification rite instantly restored beauty to Durga and her companions. Durga's honor was restored, and she became known in a new role as benevolent Goddess Uma. As token of gratitude she awarded Sadewa the title of Sudamala, which means "savior".
Lady of the Well
Archeologists have discovered a water well in Cyprus that was built as long as 10,500 years ago, and the skeleton of a young woman at the bottom of it, an official said Wednesday.
Pavlos Flourentzos, the nation's top antiquities official, said the 16-foot (5-meter) deep cylindrical shaft was found last month at a construction site in Kissonerga, a village near the Mediterranean island nation's southwestern coast.
After the well dried up it apparently was used to dispose trash, and the items found in it included the poorly preserved skeleton of the young woman, animal bone fragments, worked flints, stone beads and pendants from the island's early Neolithic period, Flourentzos said.
The skeleton could be as old as the well itself, but archeologists don't know how the girl died or when and why the skeleton was left there, he said. Radiocarbon dating found the well is between 9,000 to 10,500 years old, he said.
Cypriot archaeologists studied the well in collaboration with Edinburgh University. The university has excavated in the area over the last three decades, unearthing several settlements dating from the Chalcolithic Period (3800-2500 B.C.).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Book Review: Queen Victoria
Now Gillian Gill has done it: follow up a distinctive portrait of Florence Nightingale, England’s sainted Lady With the Lamp, with a magisterial treatment of Queen Victoria. It’s the one-two punch of 19th-century British biography.
In “We Two,” Gill aims in the opposite direction: the Queen Victoria she gives us in this closely drawn portrait of a royal marriage is a more ordinary woman than we might have supposed. The longest-ruling monarch in British history suffered greatly under what the queen herself called “the yoke” of matrimony, enduring nine pregnancies in the first two decades of her reign — which left her an outsider at her own court, relegated to the “shadow side” of life ...
Patricia McMahon Houser
Patricia McMahon Houser of Carmel, an assistant professor of geography at Central Connecticut State University, is Putnam's new county historian.
Houser said she wants to engage the entire community in a discussion of what from Putnam's past is worth preserving and how it should be preserved. But she said that she understands the "value of rescuing" historic sites such as the Hill-Agor farm, with its "potential for development as a living museum."
On her to-do list as county historian, Houser said she hopes to strengthen the link between those involved in historical projects on the county's east and west sides.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Women of the Burnt City
Archeological studies have found that the female inhabitants of Iran's ancient site of Burnt City outlived the male members of their community.
According to head of the Burnt City archeology team Farzad Forouzanfar, men died between the ages of 35 to 45, while women lived well into their 80s.
Forouzanfar said that the area witnessed considerable population drops and that “the number of the female inhabitants of the area was more than the males.”
“The team also found that the remains of nearly 30,000 burials exist in Burnt City,” he added.
Demographical studies also showed that over 6,000 people lived in Burnt City. Previous research had estimated the number to stand at 5,000.
Located near the city of Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Burnt City spans more than 300,000 hectares and dates back to 5,200 years ago.
Four civilizations have lived in the city which was burnt down three times and not rebuilt after the last fire.
The world's oldest animated picture, dice and backgammon set, the earliest known caraway seed and artificial eyeball have been found at the site.
Meresamun - Priestess of Amun
ARCHAEOLOGY's March/April 2009 cover story, "A Mummy's Life," tells of new research on the mummified remains of an Egyptian priestess named Meresamun who lived in Thebes around 800 B.C. Ensconced in a skintight coffin made of linen and plaster for almost 3,000 years, the issue's "cover girl" is also the highlight of an exhibition, The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt, on view at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute Museum through December 6. In advance of the show, Meresamun was scanned using a state-of-the-art Philips Healthcare 256-slice Brilliance iCT scanner. She is the only mummy ever subject to such advanced technology.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Ethiopia's next national election is a year away, but tensions are already increasing as Birtukan Mideksa, one of the key opposition politicians has been jailed, possibly facing life in prison; and security forces have arrested several others, accusing them of plotting against the government on behalf of Geembot-7 conspiring with EPLF from Diaspora. With the recent election episodes taking place in Iran as a reminder, both the TPLF-regime and opposition leaders are seriously expressing their respective concerns about the potential for election-related violence in the 2010 election time within and outside Ethiopia.
Incidentally, in her long-standing history, Ethiopia is blessed in having women leaders coming to power from time to time. Since the time of Queen Sheba/Saba of the Old Testament few women of leadership caliber have happen to suddenly appear from no where and held power at times when Ethiopia faces critical danger and grave difficulties. Birtukan is one of those Ethiopian heroines in contemporary history without any parallel to draw in our time. I strongly inclined to have faith in that it is God's wisdom to have brought someone born in 1974 from an Oromo-Ethiopian humble household to lead this war-prickle country of ours to a peaceful transition and stability. That person is no one else but our Lady Liberty Birtukan Mideksa, who is charged not because she has done any criminal wrong but for telling nothing but the absolute truth to the whole world.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Believe It Or Not ....
Iran: Women March
Women, regarded as second-class citizens under Iranian law, have been noticeably front and center of the massive demonstrations that have unfolded since the presidential election a week ago. Iranians are protesting what they consider a fraudulent vote count favoring hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but for many women like Parisa, the demonstrations are just as much about taking Iran one step closer to democracy.
For the first time, women were allowed to register for the presidential race, though none, including Eshraghi, were deemed fit to run by the religious body that vets candidates. But women's issues surfaced in the campaign.
That was partly the result of a women's movement comprised of educated, urban, middle-class women that has grown in recent years with the addition of more conservative and poorer women, said Tohidi, a longtime observer of women's rights in Iran. Ironically, traditional women first gained voice under the clerics.
Sotomayor Quits Womens' Group
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned from an elite women's-only group Friday under pressure from Republican senators who suggested her membership could violate judicial codes barring judges from belonging to discriminatory groups.
In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering her nomination, Sotomayor reiterated her belief that the group, the Belizean Grove, "does not practice invidious discrimination and my membership did not violate the Judicial Code of Ethics, but I do not want questions about this to distract anyone from my qualifications and record."
The New York-based group, with about 120 dues-paying members, was little-known until Sotomayor disclosed her membership in a questionnaire submitted earlier this month to the Judiciary Committee.
Founded nearly 10 years ago as the female answer to the Bohemian Grove — a secretive all-male club whose members have included former U.S. presidents and top business leaders — the Belizean Grove's membership includes Army generals, Wall Street executives and former ambassadors.
Indonesia: No Maids To Malaysia
Indonesia may temporarily stop sending domestic helpers to Malaysia after an Indonesian maid was recently reported to have been tortured, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.
"We will likely stop it (dispatch of domestic helpers) temporarily. But we will first invite relevant ministers and parties to a meeting on June 23 to make a preliminary evaluation," Antara quoted Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno as saying here on Thursday.
Among those to be invited to the meeting were the state minister for women's empowerment, the foreign minister, the law and human rights minister, the home affairs minister, the national police chief and the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia as well as Malaysian representatives, he said.
As the decision to be taken at the meeting would have a systemic impact, his ministry could not decide on the dispatch of domestic helpers on its own without the input from other parties, he said.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Clare Island & Grace O'Malley
Grace O’Malley was at war with English lords attempting to control Connacht. She decided to sail to London and put her case directly to the queen. Official records tell little of what went on. They do note, however, that the women chatted in Latin, as O’Malley didn’t speak English and the queen had no Irish. Afterwards, Elizabeth requested Lord Bingham to leave O’Malley be. Perhaps the English monarch fully understood the pirate queen’s plight, given the scrapes in which she became embroiled during her first years in the job.
Pirate leader, chief of the O’Malley clan and director of land forces, Grace O’Malley was principally a trader who, at the height of her career, controlled much of the Irish west coast. She traded with Spain, Portugal and Scotland, and fought rival clans and the English forces sent to bring Connacht under control. At the height of her command she held 11 castles and a fleet that included captured Turkish corsairs. Exploits include dissolving her Celtic secular marriage to her second husband by slamming the castle door in his face and stealing his castles – girl power before it had a name.
Anna Julia Cooper
Educator, scholar, feminist and activist Anna Julia Cooper (c.1858-1964), who gave voice to the African-American community during the 19th and 20th centuries -- from the end of slavery to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement -- was immortalized on postage today [June 11th, 2009].
Cooper, best known for her groundbreaking collection of essays and speeches, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, also exhibited educational leadership, most notably challenging the racist notion that African Americans were naturally inferior.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller announced Thursday the appointment of Susan Cahan, the associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the newly created position of associate dean for the arts in Yale College.
Cahan, who will be charged with molding a vision for the undergraduate arts across the University, will begin work August 24. Her responsibilities will include developing new programs in the arts and managing current resources in collaboration with department administrators, residential college masters and the deans of Yale’s professional arts schools.
Understanding Bloody Mary
Executions were in the spirit of the age. Henry VIII had burnt Lutherans for heresy, and his daughter did the same in greater numbers. In less than four years her judges sent 280 Protestants to the stake. It was "the most intense religious persecution of its kind anywhere in Europe" writes Eamon Duffy in his new book Fires of Faith (Yale, £19.99). But he argues that the "received perception of the campaign of burnings, as manifestly unsuccessful and self-defeating, is quite mistaken".
Professor Duffy is our leading expert on religion in the Tudor period, and his account of the reign of Mary (1553-58) is an expansion of a chapter in The Stripping of the Altars (1994). That book was a lastingly influential picture of the vitality of traditional belief in England between 1400 and 1580. Now he has done for the policy of Mary Tudor (below) what Henry Kamen did in 1998 for the Spanish Inquisition in a book of his own – exploding myths and explaining thinking of the time.
Patricia Crawford, a pioneering historian and author whose seminal work in revealing fresh insights into 17th-century England won her the Royal Historical Society's prestigious Whitfield prize in 1979, has died in Western Australia after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. She was 68.
Crawford, emeritus professor of history at the University of Western Australia's school of humanities, illuminated life in that extraordinary period — in particular women in 16th and 17th century England— and opened up a whole new field of investigation and revelation from archival documents.
There was almost nothing in print about women of that period when she started writing on the subject in 1980; now, almost every aspect of ordinary women's lives has been written about, and in many cases, the groundwork was done by Crawford.
Jewish Women's Archive
The mission of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is to uncover, chronicle, and transmit to a broad public the rich history of American Jewish women.
A national non-profit organization founded in 1995 and based in Brookline, MA, the Jewish Women's Archive presents the stories, struggles, and achievements of Jewish women in North America. We create and disseminate educational materials, develop partnerships, and maintain an innovative website all designed to help us understand our past and shape our future.
And don't forget to check out their blog: Jewesses With Attitude
Medieval Women & Literacy
An intriguing manuscript recently surfaced in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples that sheds new light on the reading abilities and habits of women in late medieval England. The manuscript, which was serendipitously unearthed by Canadian scholar James Weldon while he was looking for something else entirely, has attracted some attention from the mainstream media*. This article rather flippantly describes the manuscript as a ‘medieval women’s magazine’, composed as it is of a varied collection of ‘articles’ (if you will) on topics of supposed feminine interest – as the subhead puts it, ‘Canadian researcher discovers historic document filled with romance and recipes’. The anthology is written in Middle English and includes extracts from a variety of different sources, including medicinal recipes, household tips, romances and a saint's life.
Role of Medieval Women as Patrons
Studies of the medieval world reveal a deeply hierarchical society in which wealth, freedom, and piety were among the marks of an individual’s status. An analysis of the ways in which people expressed their piety and used their material wealth reveals an age in which spiritual and worldly matters were closely intertwined. In addition, it sheds light on medieval ideas of class and gender, which were significant in determining an individual’s opportunities for the possession and disposal of wealth.For example, those with the resources to do so often ensured their salvation through the patronage of religious institutions. While both men and women became patrons, the role of women as patrons must be considered separately because of the social and legal restrictions placed upon them. Despite the often-limited sphere in which they operated and the challenges of carrying out a benefaction, many women were devoted to the support of religious institutions and emerged as important patrons of monastic activity.
Ten Inspirational Women Travellers
No, we likely wouldn’t publish a list of 10 inspirational male travelers. But men and women experience travel differently and face different obstacles in making travel a part of their lives, so let’s recognize a few women who have blazed the trail. Here, in no particular order, are 10 women—past and present—who have inspired others through their travels, whether by making the world a richer place, contributing to cross-cultural understanding, or simply pursuing their dreams.
Deanna Violette is also the first woman in Air Force history to take command of a squadron of tactical air controllers.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Revealed: Mona Lisa
The mysterious portrait of a semi-nude woman, looking straight at the viewer with an enigmatic smile and with her hands crossed, bears a remarkable resemblance to Leonardo's world famous painting.
Hidden for almost a century within the panelled walls of a library, the portrait appears to have been inspired by the Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris and was painted by the Italian master in the early 1500s.
It will form one of the centrepieces of a new exhibition at the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci, near Florence, where Leonardo was born in 1452.
On Trial: Florence Hartmann
Florence Hartmann, who was spokeswoman for the former chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, between 2000 and 2006, is accused of having disclosed confidential information about the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in a book and an article published after she left her post.
The publications allegedly cite confidential documents and court decisions made during the trial of former Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, which implicate the Serbian state in the 1995 massacre of thousands of men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
In his opening speech, ICTY prosecutor Bruce MacFarlane said he would show that the accused had consciously published information from classified documents.
But Hartmann's lawyer, Guenael Mettraux, says she did no wrong as the information referred to in her article and her book, entitled “Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice” was already in the public domain when her work went into print.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Dr Karl on Queen Cleopatra
The world is fascinated by Cleopatra. Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII to be exact) was the last pharaoh of Egypt — and has inspired books, plays, movies and 32 operas.
Most of us are not experts in Egyptology, but we all think that we know a few things about Cleopatra — something along the lines that this Egyptian woman was stunningly beautiful, and committed suicide by getting a small snake, an asp, to bite her.
The only correct belief in all of that is that she was a woman.
What is the image of an independent woman? It is one that conveys “I am self-sufficient”. But, is she is silently screaming, “Help me please”? This image is being redefined in our society. In this economy, the current state of affairs finds everyone in the position of wanting and needing help. For some independent women, it is becoming more of a struggle to assume all of the responsibilities that pertain to life. Does that mean that she is weak? Has she now become a damsel in distress? Not necessarily. It takes a great deal of courage to admit to needing help.
Needing assistance doesn’t mean loosing independence. The courage to ask for help reveals a strength that is required to be independent. For, there is strength in numbers. Ask for what you need and you will understand what being independent really is. Independence is having the liberty to make decisions that ultimately work for your good.
European Women Expolited?
European women are being forced to work like men, travel alone and sleep in hotels out of necessity rather than choice, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi lamented to an incredulous crowd of 1,000 Italian women on Friday. In a rambling speech that alternately drew boos and applause from the smartly-dressed women, Gadhafi said European women had been pushed into the workplace after wars in the last century because their men had been killed off.
The women in attendance, including ministers and prominent businesswomen, initially responded with boos but applauded when Gadhafi said he believed in equal rights for men and women, who should be free to marry and divorce at will.
And this from the Inquirer:
Women in the Arab and Muslim world are treated like "furniture" and the situation requires a "feminine revolution", said Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, ANSA news agency reported Friday.
"Women are like a piece of furniture you can change when you want and nobody will ever question why you did so," Kadhafi told an audience of women who included leading figures from the world of culture, politics and the economy.
"The world needs a feminine revolution based on a cultural revolution," he added, without elaborating.
Kadhafi, on the third and final day of a visit to Italy, evoked great women in Italian history, from the writer Matilde Serao to actress Claudia Cardinale.
Before his speech, Italy's equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna said she would call on Kadhafi to support moves to ensure that African women could benefit from the rights enjoyed by women around the world.
Kadhafi, who has in the past described himself as a defender of the feminist cause, has a unit of women-only bodyguards trained at an elite Libyan officers' academy.
Ghana: Girls Must Be Educated
This year's World Day Against Child Labour was celebrated last Friday, June 12 under the theme "Give Girls a Chance: End Child labour."
Sadly, studies have shown that the practice of parents using their children as child labourers is the single biggest cause of poor enrollment, especially of girls. This is affirmed by the sight of children hawking all kinds of goods, from ice water to dog chains on our streets.
Girls of school going age are engaged in all kinds of work including, porterage of heavy loads, traditional restaurants attendants, domestic servitude, street hawking and above all prostitution.
Making education attractive for girls requires a concerted effort and the state has a responsibility to create a learning environment conducive not only for boys but also girls.
For the majority of the past seven years, Sheila Hancock has been revered as a grieving widow.
After losing second husband John Thaw to throat cancer in 2002, she wrote a book about their relationship, The Two Of Us. Then came the sequel about her journey out of grief, Just Me.
Now Sheila, at 76, is headlining in the raucous, high-kicking musical comedy Sister Act. So is it more Irreverent Mother than grieving widow?
She starred in Annie in 1978, Sweeney Todd in 1980 and more recently in Cabaret in 2007 - for which she won an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.
Sheila's success as a writer is all the more remarkable since she left school at 15. Although she never went to university, her intellectual ability was recognised by her appointment as chancellor of the University of Portsmouth in 2007 - of which she is fiercely proud.
There is seemingly no end to Hancock's workaholism. She is vice president of St Christopher's Hospice, an institution she first volunteered to work for after the death of her mother and first husband nearly 40 years ago.
Interview: Meira Kumar
Soft-voiced, seemingly unfit to instil order in the often chaotic Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar dismisses the criticism that her vocal chords are a handicap. She is confident that she would be heard in the House. The first woman Speaker, also a dalit, says her election has struck a chord with the marginalised.
That Kumar is confident of managing Lok Sabha and projecting herself as a symbol of women and dalit empowerment is good news for Congress which has authored the surprise move.
In a freewheeling interview with TOI, Kumar touches on issues ranging from scepticism of her soft voice to the caste factor.
Ghana: Sexual Abuse in Schools
Recent findings by the UN suggest that sexual abuse in schools is widespread but highly unrecognised. In Ghana, there is a recognised child sexual abuse problem in schools but there is limited information and documentation of the extent of the phenomenon.
The study reveals that both contact and non contact forms of child sexual abuse was prevalent in the areas where the study was conducted. ‘’About 14% of school children, mostly 15 and 14 year olds had been sexually abused.’’ The main perpetrators of child sexual abuse included: classmates (89%), teachers (21%) and relatives (13%). Majority (41%) of the victims of sexual abuse were living with both parents. Girls were found to be more vulnerable to child sexual abuse in a ratio of 11:9.
The study also indicated that only 30% of the victims told someone about the abuse. The response, in most cases is either nothing is done to the perpetrators or they are warned not to do that again.
Source: Plan Ghana
Rapists: Students Demand Action
Emotional scenes were witnessed in the city when the students of Jeevan Bharati and Lourdes Convent schools, mostly girl students, jointly took out a silent rally on Monday, demanding the culprits of the gangrape be exposed publicly and severe punishments be meted out to them at the earliest.
Emotional scenes were witnessed at the police commissioner's office when the girl students broke down demanding justice for their co-student, who was gangraped in the moving car by three culprits.
Victim Should Have Been Raped
A teenage girl was stripped naked and beaten by members of a notorious girl gang.
The 16-year-old victim was humiliated by a gang known as 'Girls over Men' because she had supposedly 'disrespected' the leader's mother.
Later, one of the attackers said she wished the gang could have got a man to rape their victim.
A judge described the attack as 'ferocious, deliberate and chilling'.
Five Roses Thari Ya Sechaba
Despite global recession National Brands Limited (NBL), the company that distributes and markets brands such as the Five Roses tea, say they are continuing with the annual Five Roses awards this year.
Dubbed Five Roses Thari Ya Sechaba, the NBL initiative, which is in its third year, pays tribute to women who have contributed meaningfully to their communities. This year's awards to be held in November, will see a whopping P140, 000 paid out in cash prizes.
Rabbi Alysa Stanton
In 2001, three years before Barack Obama came to national prominence, Alysa Stanton embarked on her own audacious journey. She spoke about breaking barriers, building bridges and providing, calling on people to focus on their similarities rather than differences.
Now that stage of her journey has reached its end, with Stanton attaining the distinction of being the first black woman in America to become a mainstream Jewish rabbi. History was made last week at her ordination in the Plum Street temple in Cincinnati, one of the oldest synagogues in the US.
At 75, Gloria Steinem acknowledges her age, but yields little to it. The clarion voice of the 1970s women's movement demonstrated on Monday -- as the featured speaker at the annual Womenwinning fundraiser in Minneapolis -- that she has lost none of her passion nor her vision for a more gender-equal society. In a conversation with the Star Tribune's Lori Sturdevant, Steinem spoke about new wrinkles (pun intended) in the modern-day American feminist movement.
Taslima Nasrin, professionally a physician and a writer by fancy, a native of Bangladesh, lives abroad for years. As there was a report published in some media, she lamented that how come that she could not come to her motherland Bangladesh even when the Awami League and a lady like her, some years older in age, Sheikh Hasina is in power. She was certainly right. Her lamentation had genuine point.
None can take away anybody's birth right as living in one's own birth- place and country, and so leaving from or entering into. The government cannot deny much less restrict that right except recourse to due process of law.
I am not sure what legal restrictions she has against her. Even if there is any, she can come in and face the due process of law in the court just like any other citizen could be under. None should be outside the purview of law or without recourse to it.
She has however image problem in the society. In this case she has options. One, she could continue as she did in the past as a vulgar feminist writer not acceptable in the predominantly Bangladeshi Muslim society, but even so, being a pluralist state, the government may well provide her with the best possible security inside the country. Or else, she could well engage herself both in her original profession of physician to serve many in physical ailments. In case she wants still to do her writing as a feminist advocate she has to avoid vulgarism, particularly of sexuality, and instead do writing that would not offend the religious feelings and sentiments of the millions of her own countrymen living in Bangladesh.
Thus putting the ball in her court the government should welcome her back in the country.
Offical website of Taslima Nasrin
Wikipedia - Taslima Nasrin
Duchess Harris, PhD is a tenured associate professor of American Studies at Macalester College. She is the author of "Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton" and co-editor with Bruce D. Baum of "Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity." She is a 2009 recipient of the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship.Duchess' Blog: Sister Scholar
Kamala Das was one of India’s finest authors, the mother of modern English Indian poetry, and the first Hindu woman to write frankly about sexual desire. Admired by those seeking better living conditions and human rights for women, Das was a writer who could be tender and biting, sometimes in the same sentence.
Das died in Pune, in northwestern India, where she had lived since 2007 near the family of her youngest son, Jaisurya. Her body was flown to her home state of Kerala, where thousands of mourners of all ages paid homage, weeping and placing flowers on her hearse during her funeral procession. The proceedings were covered live on television, and the procession stopped at public halls in Trichur, Cochin, Alleppey, Kollam and Trivandrum.
A few months ago Hillary named Melanne Verveer as the one person – the most qualified and ready to represent our nation to the world as our Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues. This is the first time in our nation’s history that a position like this has been created, and with Hillary at her back I have every faith that Melanne will have the resources and support she needs to carry out her duties and represent our nation to the world on behalf of women and girls. Her work with Vital Voices – an organization that identifies, trains and mentors emerging women leaders all over the world – has given her the experience and the contacts to continue to speak out on behalf of women’s rights. And now she’s taking it to a much higher level, working side by side with Hillary.
Egypt: Parliament Quota For Women
The two houses of the Egyptian parliament this week approved a controversial bill, allocating 64 seats in the legislature for women, a move that has drawn mixed responses in this conservative Muslim country.
According to the bill, forwarded by President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, 32 new constituencies, comprising two seats each, will be created nationwide to accept applications for running for the parliament from women only. The amendment will take effect starting from Egypt’s elections due next year for at least two legislative elections.
Officials in the ruling party say the quota, which increases the number of seats in the Peoples Assembly (the lower house of the parliament) to 518, is aimed at empowering women in Egypt. They add that the new law would eventually enable women to independently run against male candidates in elections and win.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Just a quick note ...
Many of the articles are excerpts gathered from the various newspapers and online sources worldwide. By clicking on the name of the source (ie: Gulf News, the Guardian, the Austalian), you will be able to read the article in full and see who the Author / Reporter is. You will also, in many circumstances, be able to address your comments directly to the Author / Reporter through a "comments" section.
Other articles are my own, but you should have no trouble identifying those.
Again, many thanks to all who visit and leave comments - I do read them - eventually!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Caroline Flint said today that she had resigned as a minister after her loyalty was questioned by Gordon Brown.
Flint quit as Europe minister last week, accusing the prime minister of using women in his government as "female window dressing" and of running a two-tier government.
Asked if she thought the prime minister was "sexist", she said: "I think in politics women are in a minority and men dominate at every level. I just think we need to be very active to make sure we hear women's voices as well."
World's Richest Women
Topping the list is Christy Walton, who is worth US$20-billion. Walton is the widow of Wal-Mart scion John Walton, who died in a plane crash in 2005. Right behind her is Alice Walton, worth US$19.5-billion.
This year the 20 richest women on the planet have a combined net worth of US$160-billion derived from a diverse string of industries including manufacturing, finance, real estate and commodities.
While nearly all of their personal balance sheets took a hit in the past 12 months, most of the world's richest women have rehabbed their riches since the global equity markets bottomed out. Since we published our list of the World's Billionaires in March, this elite group has added US$20-billion in cumulative wealth.
Zambia: Violence Against Women & Children
HUMAN rights violations have continued to affect vulnerable groups especially women and children in Zambia, the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) 2008 report has indicated.
According to the report, a large number of women and children are exposed to violence and that most of the cases, especially those within the domestic sphere had continued to occur unreported causing the victims to suffer in silence.
Ms Siwale said the YWCA handled more cases of child neglect, which were at 26 per cent and that was an indication that children were the most vulnerable in most societies.
"Cases of child maintenance or neglect were the most prevalent at 26 per cent followed by marital relationship problems which were mostly reported by women and moderate men at 22 per cent a clear indication that more went unreported.
"Other cases were sexual offences, succession and spouse battering at seven per cent each, family problems were at four per cent while education assistance, employment issues, health and assault were at three per cent each," Ms Siwale said.
India: Women's Reservation Bill
Close on the heels of earning political points for appointing Meira Kumar as the country's first Dalit (untouchable) woman speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) last month, the UPA has now committed itself to a cachet of women-empowerment measures.
As showcased by President Pratibha Patil in her parliamentary address on June 4, the UPA has now promised to reserve 50% of its seats for the fairer sex in village councils and city municipalities in its 100-day action plan. The measure is a throwback to erstwhile Congress prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's move in 1992 to earmark 33% of all seats for women in panchayats (elected village councils).
Widely seen as a deft political masterstroke, this radical move will give a substantially larger representation to Indian women in a country with a population of 1.1 billion - an increase from their current entitlement to a third of the seats in urban and rural councils.
When viewed along with the government's commitment to push for the path-breaking Women's Reservation Bill - that seeks to reserve a third of the elected seats in parliament and in state legislatures for women - this move will ensure the largest-ever political space to Indian women compared to any other country in the world at any time.
Among the UPA's other women-centric welfare measures include 100% literacy for women (as against the current figure of 54%) in the next five years through the National Literacy Mission, fixing the women's quota in central government jobs and setting up of the National Mission on Empowerment of Women for the implementation of women welfare programs. All these items are listed as priorities in the government's "100-Day Action Plan" with the women's reservation bill leading the list of 25 promises for action.
Violence No Barrier to Status
A recent government survey said one in three Indian women were victims of domestic violence.
A total of 185,312 crimes against women were reported in India in 2007, compared to 164,765 in 2006. Rights groups say many more cases go unreported.
Domestic violence has long been in the public eye and the media regularly features cases of wife-beating over issues such as dowry, as well as torture and killings of women, especially in poorer homes.
India's economic boom has brought a rise in affluent women, often with careers, who enjoy greater freedom than their parents' generation. They dress in Western clothes and visit restaurants and night clubs.
These changes sometimes clash with hardline elements of what remains a largely conservative society. Even among India's upper crust, women's freedom can be superficial.
The domestic violence act was meant for the first time to give protection and compensation for all kinds of abuse in the home.
Plight of North Korean Women
For North Korean women who run off to China, rules are rigged on both sides of the border.
North Korea regards them as criminals for leaving. China refuses to recognize them as refugees, sending many back to face interrogation, hard labor and sometimes torture. Others stay on in stateless limbo, sold by brokers to Chinese men in need of fertile women and live-in labor.
The home-and-abroad abuse of North Korean women who seek sanctuary in China was a story U.S. TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were sentenced Monday to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp, were working on when they were detained in the border area. The circumstances of their arrest remain unclear, though a North Korean court convicted them of entering the country illegally.
Mass flight from North Korea dates to the mid-1990s, when hundreds of thousands of North Koreans fled a famine that killed perhaps a million people. But a recent human-rights report, based on interviews in China with 77 female defectors, details how their insecurity and statelessness can continue inside China as the price of escaping the North.
Forced marriage, abiding threats of deportation and a life without citizenship have become the norm for most female defectors living in China, according to "Lives for Sale," based on the research of Lee Hae-young, a Seoul-based human-rights researcher. Her work was paid for and published by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a nonprofit group based in Washington.
Once an anti-shah activist in a miniskirt, Zahrah Rahnavard is now a feminist in a chador. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and longtime Mideast correspondent Geraldine Brooks on how Rahnavard could revolutionize the role of first lady if her husband wins the election.
Women Key to Iranian Elections
Middle East Online:
"... while the young women of Iran made their voices heard -- believing, perhaps for the first time, that at least part of their destiny is in their own hands"Al Jazeera:
"In an unprecedented move, Mousavi, the leading reformist contender, introduced his wife Zahra Rahnavard onto the campaign platform alongside him. Rahnavard is an accomplished intellectual in her own right - a sculptor, author and chancellor of Tehran’s liberal arts-strong Al-Zahra University. She will also be Iran's first First Lady – in the public sense of the term – if her husband is elected. Already, she is being touted as a national heroine, her face gazing out alongside Mousavi's on posters and her name being chanted at rallies and demonstrations."BBC News:
"President Ahmadinejad often speaks of women as the heart of this society. He talks of empowering them and makes much of his plan to provide insurance for housewives and share Iran's oil wealth with poorer families. But Mr Mousavi has - for Iran - an unusual political asset; his wife, Zhara Rahnavard.
She is Iran's first top-ranking female university professor and like her husband is a respected painter. Their most daring move as a couple has caused a stir - they hold hands as they campaign together.
All four candidates are making promises to women. It makes political sense. Women make up about half the electorate. They were a key part of a groundswell that brought the reformist President Mohammad Khatami to power in 1997 and saw him re-elected in 2001. "
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Alice Award for Hillary
From Democratic Examiner:
I was able to attend an awards ceremony at one of DC's historic landmarks, the Sewall-Belmont House, home of Alice Paul, who formed the National Women's party during the fight for women's suffrage. Each year, they pay tribute to a distinguished woman who has made an outstanding contribution in breaking barriers and setting new precedents for women. This year's prestigious Alice Award was presented to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton for putting "eighteen million cracks" in the glass ceiling, and for her work in preserving our nation's historic treasures (one of which is the Sewall-Belmont House!).
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Rwanda: Women Promoting Peace & Security
Though Rwandan women have excelled on the political spectrum, their presence must also be felt in peace and security initiatives, Gender and Family promotion minister, Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamaria said on Friday.
She was commenting on the United Nations resolution 1325 that calls for a greater role of women in peace and security initiatives. Rwanda hopes to validate this resolution and launch a plan of action aimed at implementing it.
"Women in Rwanda have excelled in political and decision making positions in this country and there in no doubt on that, but when it comes to participation in promotion of security, the numbers become too small," said Mujawamariya.
"We need to see more Rwandan women taking part in peace keeping in the Sudan and other places where we are helping to bring back peace."
Nigeria: Empowering Women
The wife of the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hajiya Zainab Adamu Aliero has advocated for the empowerment of women because of the crucial role they play in family settings.
Mrs. Aliero stated this on Monday at Kuje Area Council, in continuation of her visit to the six area councils of the FCT in order to flag off the skills acquisition training programme for the less privileged.
She said the training programme will provide a platform to help address the thorny issue of poverty, especially at the grass root level, adding that it will also help the rural dwellers develop skills that will help them become self employed.
SA: Minister Needs Permission For TV Appearance
Saudi Arabia may have nominated its first ever woman cabinet minister - but she cannot appear on television without permission, it has been revealed.
Noura al-Faiz's appointment in February as deputy minister for women's education was hailed as a huge step for the integration of women in conservative Saudi Arabia, where a puritanical form of Islam bans women from driving, voting and mixing with unrelated men.
'I don't take my veil off and I will not appear on television unless it is allowed for us to do so,' Faiz told the daily Shamss, which published a picture of the deputy minister wearing a headscarf with her face showing.
Wajeha al-Huwaider, an outspoken advocate of women's rights in the country, welcomed her appointment.
She added that it was unclear if al-Faiz will have any real power, or if she will follow the path of other Saudi women who had been appointed to lower councils but were never heard from.
Denver: Female Politicians Seek Support
The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, based in Denver, said Monday it is seeking sponsors for its upcoming annual conference in Chicago.
NOBEL/Women's 24th annual legislative conference will be June 18-21 at the Sofitel Water Tower in Chicago’s Gold Coast area.
More than 250 black women serving as state representatives, senators, judges, commissioners, councilwomen, presidents and executives of organizations and corporations nationwide are expected to attend.
Former ambassador and U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun will address the conference June 19. Workshops will deal with such subjects as finance and economics, education, law and justice, health, technology, governing, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Gloria Travis Tanner is national executive director of the nonpartisan group.
For information on sponsorships and conference questions, call 303-355-7288 or visit www.nobelwomen.org.
Helen Zille - Politics in SA
Helen Zille has a sharp tongue and a short fuse, and she doesn't dodge a fight. In apartheid times she enraged South Africa's white rulers, and lately she has ruffled South Africa's black political establishment.
Having won plaudits as mayor of Cape Town, she is now leader of the main opposition and her province's premier—a striking example of democracy at work in a country that is ruled by blacks but leaves room for white politicians like Zille.
That's a tall order, given that her Democratic Alliance is still perceived as mainly white and most black South Africans are loyal to the ANC which liberated them from oppression. Zille says that 15 years after apartheid formally ended, race no longer should dominate politics.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Cambridge University Library: Online
A treasure-trove of books that are more than 500 years old are to be catalogued online by the University of Cambridge.
The selection includes a 1455 copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed in Europe using movable metal type, and the first printed edition of Homer's works, from 1488.
Currently only a small selection of the university's 4,650-strong body of pre-1501 works are included in its Online Catalogue.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The 9-inch tall stoneware bottle was hailed today as the most important discovery of its kind - the only one ever found complete and unopened.
It contained not just sharp objects designed to inflict pain on the witch, but human hair and urine, some fingernail clippings, and, curiously, some belly-button fluff.
One of the bent iron nails appears to have been used to pierce a heart-shaped piece of leather. Then the entire mixture was sprinkled with that customary seasoning so beloved by opponents of evil - brimstone.
The bottle was placed in a 5ft pit and covered with earth in what was probably undeveloped land at the time.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ghana: Promoting Women in Leadership
The media have been urged to give greater publicity and support to women in diverse leadership positions in the country, to help push the national development agenda forward.
The capabilities of women who form half of the population when made public would encourage more women to seek political and other key positions to enable them to also contribute their quota to national development.
Madam Anima Wilson, Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, made these remarks during a two day media sensitisation workshop on: “Promoting Greater Visibility for Women in Leadership,” in Kumasi.
It was organised by Women, Media and Change (WOMEC), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), which seeks to promote effective use of the media for the advancement of women, and was supported by Abantu for Development, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Women's Manifesto Coalition.
“The media wield influence in every society; the change can be realised when we partner and find innovative ways of promoting the cause of women in leadership”, she stressed.