Monday, August 31, 2009

Jewish Women: Bus Protest

The protest against gender-segregated bus lines stepped up. Dozens of protesters, mainly women, rode en masse on buses labeled 'mehadrin lines' in Jerusalem in which women must sit at the back of bus out for modesty reasons.

Under the banner "Free transportation day – putting an end to discrimination in public spaces," the protesters flocked early in the morning on Sunday to 'mehadrin line' bus stops. When the buses arrived, they sat in the men's section at the front of the bus. The protesters, among them members of city council Laura Wharton and Rachel Azaria, wore red bracelets on their wrists as a sign of their protest and distributed to the passengers information booklets against the controversial separation between the sexes.

Women of Churchill's Bunker

From AFP:
It was cramped, gloomy, the air was thick with cigar smoke and outside, bombs were raining on London. But in their underground bunker, unsung heroes were working tirelessly helping Churchill's war Cabinet.

Until the end of World War II in 1945, British prime minister Winston Churchill and his closest aides and ministers plotted the downfall of Nazi Germany in the labyrinth basement of what is now the Treasury.

And alongside them, a secret army of backroom staff -- typists, secretaries, messengers -- slept and toiled without seeing daylight in the muggy warren of brick-walled rooms, facilitating world-changing decisions that shaped the war.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Women & History

For the Bookworms:
  • Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask (article @ Vassar Info News)
  • Wandering Women and Holy Matrons: Women as Pilgrims in the Later Middle Ages by Leigh Ann Craig
  • The Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations edited by Dan Terkla, Martin Foys and Karen Eileen Overbey (post @ Medieval News)
  • Women, Armies & Warfare in Early Modern Europe by John A Lynn II
  • The Marvelous Hairy Girls: The Gonzales Sisters and Their Worlds by Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Blogs of interest

NZ Women Recieve Awards

Four leading academics at the University of Otago have received Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research from the university.

The recipients, selected for "outstanding research achievement" are immunologist Dr Sarah Young, physiologist Dr Rebecca Campbell, and historian Dr Angela Wanhalla, all of Dunedin, as well as rheumatologist Dr Lisa Stamp, of Otago's Christchurch campus.

Prof Harlene Hayne, the university deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise, announced the awards on Wednesday.

SA Women Tackle Crime

From Bongani Fuzile @ the Daily Dispatch Online:
FED UP with crime in their village, elderly women from Kwalini in King William’s Town went on the offensive – and arrested a suspected criminal. On Thursday night they arrested a suspected robber – the son of one of them – who had run to their village seeking refuge.

And they warned this is only the start. “This is no joke,” said one of them, Cynthia Baleni. “We are are fed up with crime that has dented the image of King William’s Town, criminals must watch out.”

The women’s group started searching after being tipped off about a suspect in an armed robbery at nearby Upper Mthombe. “We heard that one of the suspects was hiding in the bushes not far from here. We can’t live with thugs. We took our sticks to search for him,” said Baleni.

Mali: Backflip on Women's Rights

From Daniel Howden @ the Independent:

Muslim leaders in Mali were declaring victory yesterday after seeing off a new law that would have improved women's rights in the country.

President Amadou Toumani Touré refused to sign a new legally binding family code, passed earlier this month by parliament, that would have meant women no longer had to obey their husbands. The new code instead called for husbands and wives to "owe each other loyalty and protection".

The President was forced to back down after a string of mass protests in the mainly-Muslim West African nation.

More on Birtukan Mideksa

Following on from my June post on Birtukan Mideksa, and an email from Jerry in the US, here are some links of interest:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton

Apparently the BBC has recently put together a program on the life of Enid Blyton, with Helena Bonham Carter in the leading role. It is due to go to air in the very near future.

Here's the only snippet I could find to date:

While considered Britain's moral guardian at the height of her fame, privately Enid was wrestling with her religious beliefs and also divorced her first husband Major Hugh Pollock (Matthew MacFadyen) in 1942 and married surgeon Kenneth Waters (Denis Lawson) the following year.

Plus Size Models: A Huge Plus!

From WSET:
A model in Glamour Magazine has caught the public's eye. She's only in a small photo on page 194, but it's an image, that has many celebrating. The image is in an article about body consciousness.The cover of Glamour's September issue includes flat belly secrets and a gorgeous Jessica Simpson, but it’s what’s deep in the magazine that that has people talking.On page 194 there is a picture of a 20-year-old plus-sized model with a belly roll. When asked if she's beautiful, many people said yes. "I like the picture actually. It shows real world people and not just models that you don't see everyday."
Maybe they should have been Down Under for the latest fashion shoot - plus size models looking more beautiful than the scrawny ones. Its only when we women start raging against the unrealistic portrayal of women on the fashion catwalk that "real" models may get their chance.

Muriel Duckworth

Canadian activist Muriel Duckworth, a passionate pacifist who for decades was an advocate for women's rights and social justice, has died. She was 100.

Duckworth died Saturday in palliative care in a hospital in Magog, Quebec, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Duckworth vigorously protested wars dating back to the Second World War, and was still attending peace rallies during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Malaysia: Caning Deferred

From Sarah Dingle @ ABC Online:
Tomorrow is National Women's Day in Malaysia, but women's rights in the country are in disarray after a Muslim woman who drank a beer in public was sentenced to six strokes of the cane this week.

Part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, was taken away to be whipped this morning, but the state government says the punishment was not carried out.

It is now saying the whipping was postponed because of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, as a Muslim in the eastern Malaysia State of Pahang this is a crime. Tried in a sharia court of law, Ms Kartika pleaded guilty.

"I want to talk about how very sad I am at that time. How they treat me like as what I did cannot be forgiven," she said.

She was fined $1,700 and sentenced to six strokes of the cane. The first woman to be found guilty under this law, and human rights groups say she is the only person, man or woman, to be sentenced to be whipped.

Mali: Fight for Equality

From ABC News:
Thousands of people in Mali are protesting against new legislation that strengthens women's rights in the west African nation.

The law, passed by parliament earlier this month, raises the legal age for marriage to 18 and also stipulates that children born outside of wedlock are entitled to a share of any inheritance.

But the head of the National Union of Muslim Women's Associations, Hadja Safiato Dembele, says only a few women support the law.

"A wife must obey her husband," she said.

"It's a tiny minority of women here who want this new law - the intellectuals.

"The poor and illiterate women of this country, the real Muslims, are against it."

The Godmothers

From Associated Press:
They go by such nicknames as "Fat Cat" and "Tomboy." Their simmering power struggles once drove them into the streets, guns blazing. They rule their crime families with steely determination, and also raise the kids and stir the pasta.

Move over, Don Corleone. Godmothers are rising in the ranks of the Camorra, the Naples' area crime syndicate.

Women have long played a strong role in Camorra crime families, muscling, sometimes murdering, their way to the top. Their influence stretches back as far as the 1950s when a pregnant former beauty queen dubbed "pupetta" (little doll) shot dead the man who had ordered a hit on her husband, and allegedly settled into a life of crime.

Now, as the state steps up its war against the Camorra, rounding up scores of mobsters, the women are increasingly taking over the helm from their men.

And from the
Women are "assuming ever-more leading roles," said Stefania Castaldi, a
Naples-based prosecutor who investigates organised crime.

One of them is Maria Licciardi, one of the victors of a long-running blood feud that in recent years left Naples littered with bodies.

"Signora Licciardi is a true 'madrina' (godmother), absolutely," said Miss Castaldi. "She was the sister of a boss, and she sat at the table with other bosses, she made decisions with them, she was right at their level."

Authorities are now investigating whether one of those decisions was an order to execute as many as 30 of her rivals.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Helping Women Worldwide

The New York Times has an article listing a number of organisations dedicated to helping women in developing countries.
Here are some of the groups that specialize in supporting women in developing countries. In addition, there are many outstanding aid groups, like International Rescue Committee, Unicef, Save the Children and Mercy Corps, that are not listed below because women and girls are not their only focus. This is not a rating, screening or exhaustive list; it is a quirky compendium of groups both small and large that we've seen in action. Consider it a starting point for further research.

Two useful Web sites to consult for more information about aid groups are and

Take a look through the worthy list then check out these inspirational stories in "The Women's Crusade".

Rwanda: Women Held Over Genocide

From AllAfrica:
Twenty seven women who were accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide were thrown into prison on Sunday by the Rwandan traditional court, gacaca, in the south-western Rwanda, it was learned from a local source on Thursday.

The women, who appeared before Kagano gacaca court, in Nyamasheke district, received sentences ranging from 19 to 30 years in prison, Hirondelle News Agency was told by a member of Rwandan association for the defence of human rights.

They were found guilty of having stoned to death several Tutsis who had sought refuge in the parish church of Kagano, added the source, who was speaking over the phone from Nyamasheke.

According to the Rwandan newspaper, The New Times, the court concluded that the women also burned Tutsi houses and looted their goods.

After the verdict, they were taken to the central prison of Cyangugu, in the same district, adds the newspaper.

On August 12, another woman, Elisa Mukanyangezi, 70, was sentenced to life in prison by a gacaca court of Huye district (southern Rwanda) after being found guilty of participation in the 1994 genocide.

Inspired by traditional assemblies during which village wise men, while sitting on the grass (gacaca in Kinyarwanda), settled disagreements, the gacaca courts are charged to try the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide, except for the "planners" at the national level.

They are not presided by professional magistrates but by "just" people elected from among the community.

Committed by Hutu extremists, the 1994 genocide resulted, according to the U.N. in nearly 800 000 people killed, primarily Tutsis.

Ladies, shake hands and come out fighting!

Yes, women's boxing is to make its debut at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

More from IPS News:
Thanks to Clint Eastwood's blockbuster film 'Million Dollar Baby', his heroine Hilary Swank helped raise significantly the profile of women who climb into the boxing ring.

And, when Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila took up her father's cloak, she lit up a whole new generation of boxing fans around the world, especially when she battled the daughter of her father's great adversary, Joe Frazier.

But the sport has grown worldwide following a concerted drive by the International Boxing Association. Fans of women entering the ring note that there are now more than 500,000 licensed women boxers in 120 countries.

Campaigners for women's sport and fitness celebrated the welcome into the Olympic fold as acknowledgment of the justice of their long hard fight for equality, while boxing authorities hailed the decision as "proving" that concerns about competitiveness and health issues have been once and for all discounted.

But, as there is with men's boxing, the medical profession and those against boxing, in general have come out in uproar over the decision by the IOC.

The Olympics are going to be a fantastic occasion for London and the UK, a celebration of competition and friendship for both the athletes and the public.

Women's boxing will be part of it. I appreciate their efforts and good luck to them - but I won't be watching.

Forbes: 100 Most Powerful Women

Its that time again - Forbes has released it's list of 100 of the world's most powerful women.

For the fourth year in a row, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, tops the list, followed by:
2: Sheila Bair, chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. US.
3: Indra Nooyi, chief executive, PepsiCo. US.
4: Cynthia Carroll, chief executive, Anglo American. UK.
5: Ho Ching, chief executive, Temasek Holdings. Singapore
6: Irene Rosenfeld, chief executive, Kraft Foods. US.
7: Ellen Kullman, chief executive, DuPont. US.
8: Angela Braly, chief executive, WellPoint. US.
9: Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive, Areva. France
10: Lynn Elsenhans, chief executive, Sunoco. US.

For those, like me, in the southern hemisphere, Australian Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Banking, came in at No. 18 whilst Helen Clarke, Prime Minister of New Zealand ranked No. 60.

See the full list at Forbes: 100 Most Powerful Women

Equal Rites Awards

Wonderful satirical article from Ellen Goodman at the Columbus Dispatch. Read as she doles out the awards in anticipation of the upcoming milestone in women's suffrage.
Every year at this time, we prepare to celebrate Aug. 26, the anniversary of women's suffrage, in our own quirky way. I cheerfully distribute the Equal Rites Awards to those who have done their best over the past 12 months to set back the cause of women.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Little Light Reading

A couple more books to add to the ever growing TBR pile:

  • The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West by Gary Macy
  • "Das KZ Bordell" (The Concentration Camp Brothel) by Robert Sommer (review @ Deutsche Welle)
  • The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon
  • The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillow

Mother Goddess

From Today's Zaman:
Archeologists unearthed 16,000 year-old mother goddess figurine during excavations in Direkli Cave in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.

Gazi University Archeology Department lecturer Cevdet Merih Erek told the Anatolia news agency on Monday that the excavations in Direkli Cave, 65 km away from Kahramanmaras, started on July 15.

Noting that it was the third cave excavation of Turkey, Erek said that the clay mother goddess figurine they found was 16,000 years old.

Erek said that the figurine showed that the social status of women was very important 16,000 years ago.

Erek noted that the oldest fired clay god or goddess figurines --unearthed in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Near East-- were made in 5,000 BC. He added that experts believed that the clay was used earliest in that period, however, the goddess figurine showed that this method was older than thought.

Madame de Staël

Wonderful article on Madame de Staël by Natalie Bennett at Philobiblon. Here's a tiny excerpt:

Napoleon feared her, the crown heads of Europe courted her, as did the intellectual elite, she was much quoted in her own time and ours, yet Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein – generally known as Madame de Staël, was a figure who had almost disappeared into the mists of history.

I’ve been obliquely bumping into her during my excursions through women’s history for years, but it was only when reading about her friendship with Juliette Récamier , and learning that she’s been the subject of no less than five recent books, led me to finally determine to read more.

I’d love to read all five books, but since that isn’t going to happen, I chose Angelica Goodden The Dangerous Exile, in part because it seemed to focus rather less on the romantic side of de Staël’s life, and if there’s one aspect of her I find rather repulsive, it’s her rather histrionically conducted love life.

That, of course, got her into trouble in her own time – having children to men not your spouse being rather frowned upon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Books of Interest

Some more books of interest:
  • Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by Jonathon Yardley - Review
  • Bluestockings by Jane Robinson - Review
  • Women in Pacific Northwest History edited by Karen J Blair
  • The First Women in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child by Caroline L Karcher
  • Under Two Dictators by Margarete Buber
  • Joan Crawford: Not the Girl Nextdoor by Charlotte Chandler
  • Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara
  • Destined to Live by Sabina Wolanski
  • Disgraced by Ahmed Saira
  • Slave by Mende Nazir & Damien Lewis
  • The Washerwoman's Dream by Hilarie Lindsay
  • Over the Wide & Trackless Sea by Megan Hutching

For the history buff:
  • Francis and His Brothers by Dominic V Monti - Review
  • The Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville by Giles Milton
  • Outback Pioneers by Evan McHugh
  • Prophets, Seers & Visionaries by Melanie King
  • Grey Ghosts by Deborah Challinor

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

The New York Times notes the passing of this amazing woman:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a member of one of the most prominent families in American politics and a trailblazer in the effort to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, died early Tuesday morning at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass. She was 88.

A sister of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy and the mother-in-law of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Mrs. Shriver never held elective office. Yet she was no stranger to Capitol Hill, and some view her work on behalf of the developmentally challenged, including the founding of the Special Olympics, as the most lasting of the Kennedy family’s contributions.

The first Special Olympics brought together 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada for competition. In December 1968, Special Olympics Inc. was established as a nonprofit charitable organization. Since then, the program has grown to almost three million athletes in more than 180 countries.

To Be Or Not To Be - Yet Another Question

In the ongoing quest to discover the "true" identity of The Bard, William Shakespeare, comes this article from the Telegraph:
A sarcophagus in an English parish church could solve the centuries-old literary debate over who really wrote the plays of William Shakespeare.

Parishioners at St Mary's church in Warwick have sought permission to examine the contents of the 17th monument built by Fulke Greville, a writer and contemporary of Shakespeare who some believe is the true author of several of the Bard's works.

In an echo of the blockbuster book and film, The Da Vinci Code, the search has been prompted by the discovery by an historian of clues in Greville's writings which suggest he had several manuscripts buried there, including a copy of Antony and Cleopatra.

Greville was an eminent dramatist and poet himself, as well as a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and Chancellor of the Exchequer under James I.

Analysis of the biographical details of his life and the style of his known writings show a very close match to those of Shakespeare, suggesting they could be the same person.

China's Terra Cotta Army - New Theory

From the Telegraph:
China's famed ancient terracotta army which surrounds the tomb of the nation's first emperor actually belonged to a female ancestor, a historian has said.

The army of life-sized figures discovered near the northern city of Xi'an was previously thought to be guarding the burial site of Qin Shihuang, who presided over the unification of China in 221 BC and declared himself the first emperor.

But historian Chen Jingyuan told the state-owned Global Times newspaper he believes the emperor's ancestor Empress Xuan, who died 55 years before Qin's birth, was the real mastermind behind the army.

Chen presents his evidence in his new book "The Truth of Terracotta Warriors," which details discrepancies such as the army's distance from Qin's tomb and the hairstyles and clothes of the warriors which he says indicate they belonged to the empress.

A Woman In Berlin

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Thursday, April 26, 1945, four days before Hitler's suicide. A woman huddled in a Berlin basement writes in her diary. Outside, the Russians are bombarding her beloved city to rubble. Soon they will be on her doorstep. Inside her makeshift home. Under her skin.

She will become one of uncounted thousands of German women raped by soldiers of the victorious Red Army during the last days of World War II. But she will live to record a moving memoir of the resilience and gallows humour shown by the women and children who survived without food or electricity and under the constant threat of sexual assault.

This film will finally open here in Australia on 25th August.
You can read my post from October 2008 - A Woman in Berlin

Notable Dominican Women

From Dominican Today:
The Dominican Telecom Institute (Indotel) today announced the premier of the documentary “Extraordinary Women, women in time, women without time” starting the 8 p.m. Thursday the 20th in the National Theater.

“This documentary narrates the history of six extraordinary women of the Dominican Republic, Mary Marranzini, Dedé Mirabal, Josefina Padilla, Tomasina Cabral, Ivelisse Prats and Gladys Gutiérrez, interlacing the data in their lives and an attempt to construct the reality of their stories and their eagerness to become independent people, women of solidarity, and committed mothers,” the Indotel statement says.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Virgin Sacrifices of the Mississippi Valley

For many years, American Indian life was viewed through a scrim of interconnected bigotry and romance, which simultaneously served to idealize the pre-contact societies of the Americas and to justify their destruction. Pre-Columbian life might be understood as savage and brutal darkness or an eco-conscious Eden where man lived in perfect harmony with nature.

Cahokians performed human sacrifice, as part of some kind of theatrical, community-wide ceremony, on a startlingly large scale unknown in North America above the valley of Mexico. Simultaneous burials of as many as 53 young women (quite possibly selected for their beauty) have been uncovered beneath Cahokia's mounds, and in some cases victims were evidently clubbed to death on the edge of a burial pit, and then fell into it. A few of them weren't dead yet when they went into the pit -- skeletons have been found with their phalanges, or finger bones, digging into the layer of sand beneath them.

Twisted History

Excellent article from Anne-Elisabeth Moutet @ the Telegraph:
According to a new study, Hollywood films that take liberties with the past damage people's knowledge of history – even when they once knew the correct facts. But while this is likely true, it's nothing new. Writers from Shakespeare to Walter Scott have fired our imaginations with gross but entertaining fallacies: Cleopatra, Richard the Lionheart and Richard III have never recovered from the extreme makeovers they received according to Elizabethan or Victorian tastes.

Alexandre Dumas rewrote the Counter-Reformation in France; Schiller created folk heroes from scratch (a revisionism abetted and amplified by the Italian librettists employed by Donizetti, Bellini or Verdi).

Dickens's image of the French Revolution was 100 times more powerful than Carlyle's, imprinting the English mind with a deep distrust of liberté, egalité et fraternité. And the best historians were unable to salvage the Emperor Nero's reputation after the hatchet-job in Henryk Sienkiewicz's best-seller, Quo Vadis.

On screen, too, for every painstakingly accurate – yes, superbly entertaining – I, Claudius, there are a dozen Troys, Gladiators and Romes. And yet even if they scramble the viewer's knowledge, these works still send people in droves to classical history courses, and fire up lasting enthusiasms. Old Carlyle can't have recruited a tenth of the amount.

Freedom for Manson "Harem"

A disturbing news item from the Telegraph, regarding a proposal that the three key women involved in the Manson Family murders should be released on compassionate grounds.

Take a look at the image displayed of the three women - note the "compassion" shown on their faces as they are led to and from court - this self same compassion shown towards their innocent victims. This is the same compassion that should be shown towards them.

Under no circumstances should these women be released on "compassionate" grounds - what an absolute travesty and mockery of the judicial system. Keep them where they belong until their sentences as served to their fullest. And remember that old adage: if you can't do the time, don't do the crime! How's that for compassion!

Iraq: Women Wrestling Team

From Sam Dagher @ New York Times:
It doesn’t happen much in the Arab world, but a coach here decided in January to start an all-female wrestling team, the first ever in Iraq. The wrestlers love it and already dream of competing in the Olympics.

But there are many in this town south of Baghdad, which like much of Iraq is religious, conservative and governed largely by tribal tradition, who want the dozen girls and young women on the team to stop wrestling immediately. One tribesman has said they should be “slaughtered” if they continue. A Shiite cleric says the team should be banned because wrestling can lead to promiscuity and “transgressions” against Islam.

As a result of the pressure, four wrestlers have quit. But the rest, for the moment empowered by the post-invasion promise of greater democracy and equality, are defying the threats.

But it is the women who have touched a nerve, perhaps partly because of their ambitions. Three other teams were set up in Iraq after Diwaniya’s was formed with the backing of Iraq’s wrestling federation. In June, all the teams took part in a championship, which the Diwaniya team won, qualifying for an Asian tournament in September in freestyle wrestling.

E-Book: Equal in Monastic Profession

E-Book of interest: Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in Medieval France by Penelope Johnson.
In this study of the manner in which medieval nuns lived, Penelope Johnson challenges facile stereotypes of nuns living passively under monastic rule, finding instead that collectively they were empowered by their communal privileges and status to think and act without many of the subordinate attitudes of secular women. In the words of one abbess comparing nuns with monks, they were "different as to their sex but equal in their monastic profession."

Johnson researched more than two dozen nunneries in northern France from the eleventh century through the thirteenth century, balancing a qualitative reading of medieval monastic documents with a quantitative analysis of a lengthy thirteenth-century visitation record which allows an important comparison of nuns and monks. A fascinating look at the world of medieval spirituality, this work enriches our understanding of women's role in premodern Europe and in church history.

Japan: Women Don't Count

From the Times Online:
The new chief executive of one of Japan’s larger companies sat up late into the night recently puzzling over the accounts. He simply could not work out why there seemed to be so many more people working in the office than appeared on the books.

An assistant explained it to him the next day: we don’t count the women.

Gender equality advocates and women’s groups say that, for as long as anyone can remember, the Japanese political world has done much the same — ignored the interests of half the population, discounted their talents and squandered an economic goldmine.

Those same groups believe that the August 30 general election, for which unofficial campaigning begins today, may represent the single biggest opportunity to subvert a system that feels structurally and emotionally pitted against women.

Rebiya Kadeer

From the Seattle Times:
An exiled Uighur activist whom Beijing blames for recent deadly riots in China said Saturday that she is a "woman of peace," as she attended an Australian film festival for the screening of a documentary about her life.

Rebiya Kadeer, a U.S.-based activist who has denied instigating last month's ethnic violence in western Xinjiang province, was escorted into the sold-out screening of "10 Conditions of Love" at the Melbourne International Film Festival through a back entrance as a small group of protesters demonstrated nearby.

China requested that Australia deny Kadeer a visa and asked the festival to drop her movie from the program. Seven Chinese-language films were withdrawn from the festival in protest.

China says the clashes last month between minority Muslim Uighurs and members of the dominant Han Chinese group left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured. Beijing blames Kadeer, 62, for instigating the unrest, a charge she denies.

The rioting in Xinjiang province's capital of Urumqi was the worst ethnic violence in China in decades.

The documentary's director, Australian Jeff Daniels, said the screening of the film was a victory for freedom of expression.

More on Rebiya Kadeer:

Theatre: Women of Substance

From the Manila Times:
Sheer beauty that can soften the most hardened of hearts. Will power and strength that can transform an entire nation. Pure love and wisdom that create a strong foundation of a home. Resilience through life’s difficult passages. These qualities and more make a woman of substance. Thus, four literary masterpieces featuring passionate, extraordinary, complicated, “women of substance” will come alive on stage as Tanghalang Pilipino opens its 23rd Theater Season 2009 to 2010 starting in August.
  • Apples from the Desert / Mansanas ng Disyerto
  • Mother Courage and Her Children
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Three Sisters

Founded in 1987, Tanghalang Pilipino is the resident theater company of the CCP. It aims to promote Philippine theater that is rooted in centuries-old Filipino culture and history while being responsive to evolving contemporary society.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

SA: National Women's Day

Tomorrow, 9th August is National Women's Day in South Africa:

On August 9, 1956 20000 women staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass laws) of 1950. They left bundles of petitions containing more than 100000 signatures at prime minister J.G. Strijdom's office door.

Outside they stood silently for 30 minutes, many with their children on their backs. Those who were working for whites as nannies were carrying their white charges with them. The women sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock). In the 54 years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”) has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

The march was led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn.

Since 1994 August 9 is commemorated annually and is known as Women’s Day in South Africa. In 2006 a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans attending.

Mary Carpenter

British Educational Reformer

Mary was the daughter of a Unitarian Minister, and was educated by her father. Mary worked as a governess, and then, with her mother, opened a small girls' school (as opposed to a school for small girls) in Bristol (1829). Mary became concerned with the needs of deprived children, and this led her to India (which she visited four times during her lifetime) to study the conditions there.

But it was in England that her greatest work was accomplished. Mary opened a "ragged school" in the slums of Bristol (1846). Here she stressed a mutual confidence between teacher and pupil, no corporal punishment or holding up to ridicule, for teachers to become acquainted with the child's home surroundings, the teaching of a trade as well as formal education, and filed trips to places of learning. Mary had nearly 200 children voluntarily attending. And for those more delinquent and unruly of children, Mary set up the Red Lodge Reform School (1854) and another school at Kingswood near Bristol (1857). Mary also paid great attention to after-care, maintaining contact and interest after placing the child with a suitable employer.

Many of Mary's proposals were incorporated into the Amendments to the Industrial Act of 1857 (1861 & 1866). Mary succeeded in persuading the Government to authorise school-boards to establish day-feeding industrial schools (1876). And it was Mary who virtually created the current English structure of childcare for deprived and delinquent children. Her educational work took her not only to India but to America (1873), Canada and France. In all three countries, Mary studied the prison system and pointed out any defects she had found.

In additional to her education works, Mary established the National India Association (1870) to promote India in England. Mary wrote many books and pamphlets designed to reform education from primary to higher levels.

Elizabeth Fry

Prison Reformer

Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Gurney (21/5/1780) in Eltham, near Norwich, England, to John Gurney a rich Quaker banker. She and her six sisters grew up to be carefree, clever girls, fond of music and dancing. But at age 17yo, Elizabeth became deeply impressed by a series of public addresses made by the American Quaker Savery - this had the effect of altering her daily life insomuch as she began to interest herself in the lot of the poor. She saw that the only true remedy for poverty and ignorance was in education. Elizabeth began a school for poor children - she not only taught in it herself but also managed the school, even when the school had over seventy scholars.

Elizabeth Gurney, aged 20yo, married a rich London merchant named Joseph Fry (1800). Joseph however, was a chilly, spiritless man who had none of her solicitude for her fellow-creatures. But awaiting in London was a great work for her. In Norwich Elizabeth had visited the local gaol/prison and had witnessed firsthand the evils which remained even after the reforming work of John Howard (d.1790). John Howard had brought about reform in the laws respecting prison wardens, he abolished the underground dungeons in which women and children were chained, and he abolished many of the dreadful conditions that made the prisons fever-pits. On Howard's death, the reforming zeal came to a halt - Elizabeth took it up.

It was only a few month's into her move to London that Elizabeth's curiosity led her the Newgate Gaol - it was here that she found prison conditions much worse than those she found in Norwich. In one small section she found 300 women and children - they were starving, ill-clothed and had no proper bedding or washing facilities. All type of female criminal were thrown together, from the most wicked and callous of villians to first-time offenders, to those imprisoned merely on the grounds of suspicion alone and those imprisoned solely because those they depended on for support were already imprisoned themselves. Elizabeth and her ladies entered parts of the prison that even the Prison Governor himself refused to enter on the grounds that it was most unsafe.

Elizabeth made her report of these dreadful conditions at Newgate to a committee of the English House of Commons. It was after this that Elizabeth embarked on a career of most ardent prison reformer. Elizabeth boldly went among the prisoners - she learned their stories of suffering and of their needs. Elizabeth immediately organized food and clothing, but realized that this was not enough. She set up a school for the children and a factory for the adults within the prison walls themselves. In this way she gave education and industry to those who had the most need. In addition to this she set about teaching the prisoners about the meaning of religion - there were many whose only knowledge of God was in the form of blasphemy.

Soon Elizabeth's fame spread. Many came to see firsthand the work that she was doing, including the American Ambassador to England and Sydeny Smith, the Scholar, who both gave her glowing testimonies.

But Elizabeth did not stop at Newgate Gaol - she devoted herself to getting rid of the whole vile system within the prisons. She travelled over much of the ground that had been previously covered by John Howard years before. Elizabeth visited all the chief prisons and detention houses. Wherever she went she found the need for reform. Elizabeth formed associations of workers who brought about amendments upon which the very foundations of prison reforms have been laid. Elizabeth determined that the conditions she had found in Newgate Gaol would never be sound again.

Some of the reforms that Elizabeth brought about included: the sepeation of male and female prisoners, the seperation of hardened criminals from first offenders, and she introduced the supervision of women prisoner by women wardens.

All over England, Ireland and Scotland Elizabeth went, advising local authorities, calling public attentions to the evils that she found, beginning reforms and forming associations everywhere to carry on the work that she had started. But she didn't stop in England - Elizabeth moved on to the European Continent, visiting France, Belgium, Holland (The Netherlands), Germany, Russia and Denmark. Her mission: the relief of suffering prisoners. And Elizabeth had success - many highly placed officials, and even the nobility acclaimed her work. Many sought her out and consulted her, many took her advice. Elizabeth even used her experience with the prisons to assist in the reform of hospitals in which methods of nursing were to be remodelled.

But her reforming work didn't stop - Elizabeth turned her attentions to outside the prisons, to the convict hulks and transportation ships. This was where prisoners were kept en route to transportation out of England to Australia - the conditions in these ships were appalling and overcrowding was the norm. Elizabeth so aroused public opinion that proper accommodations and supervision were provided for the duration of the extremely long voyage, the sexes were seperated, and homes and employment were provided on arrival.

In conjunction with her reforming work, Elizabeth combined the duties of a large household - she and eleven children. Elizabeth had wealth and she spent it ungrudgingly in the furthering of her projects. But in the midst of this important work terrible misfortune struck. Elizabeth's husband Joseph lost his fortune and became bankrupt, and Elizabeth spent the last seventeen years of her life in poverty. But this had little effect on Elizabeth - instead of giving her money, she gave wholely of herself, continuing to minister to the prisoners and help with her counsel right up until her death - shed died at Ramsgate (12/10/1845).

But her work didn't end with her death, it continued on in the form of those reforming associations that she fostered. Her memory has lived on - and so has her work.

Henriette Campan

(1735 - 1822)
French Educationalist

Henriette opened a "pension" (1794) at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France, and soon had 20 students, one of them the daughter of US Ambassador James Monroe (later US President). A year later (1795), she moved to a new location, though still in Saint Germain, and called her pension "Institution Nationale de Saint Germain". Emperor Napoleon sent his sister Caroline to her school (1798) - thus making it the most exclusive school in France.

The number of pupils at Henriette's school grew to 100; they wore uniforms of black and white, with color sashes depicting their grade - green for beginners and white for seniors. The girls took classes in writing, grammar, history, geography, drawing, singing, dancing and music. Older pupils were taught English, Italian and German. Her own daughters were taught to make their own clothes and learn household accounting. The girls were taught by those who were the most distinguished in their professions or arts.

Plans for schools under the patronage of the Emperor Napoleon were discussed (1805), and were to be for girls of modest families. The first "Maison Imperiale Napoleon" was established (1807) with Henriette was Superintendante, having given up her own pension at Saint Germain. However, most of the 300 girls were from high-ranking army, navy and diplomatic families - the more modest families not being interested in free education. A second Maison for another 300 girls was established (1809).

Henriette published a number of books on education, the most important being "De L'Education" (pub. 1824).

Anna Maria van Schurman

Flemish Educationalist & Preacher

Anna Maria was a prolific linguist. At age 7yo, she learnt Latin and by age 10yo could translate it freely. Anna Maria also acquired Dutch, German, French, Greek, Hebrew, Samarian, Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Turkish, Persian, in addition to English, Spanish and Italian.

Initially instructed by her mother who wished to confine her daughter to more conventional pursuits such as needlework, Anna Maria had her own ideas. She attended Utrecht University, where she was accorded special facilities. Although Anna Maria graduated in Law, she taught History and Philosophy. She also dabbled quite seriously in Medicine and worked in hospitals - though was unsuccessful in her attempts to find a cure for blindness.

In addition to working on her main academic subjects and indulging in a strong religious inclination, Anna Maria developed a wide variety of artistic activities - delicate engraving by use of diamond on glass, sculpture (which she became expert at), ivory and wood carving, wax modelling, and painting (especially portraits). Anna Maria soon acquired renown - she was consulted by scholars and honoured by royalty.

But Anna Maria was extremely modest and tried to avoid the adulation. She was even reluctant to publish her own writing for this very reason - in fact her first poem was printed 12 years (1636) before her death. This was soon followed by other works, including "Apology for the Female Sex" which was written in response to a paper entitled "Advantages of the Female Sex", and dedicated to her. Anna Maria was an early and influential supporter of women's rights.

Later in life, Anna Maria lived simply in Cologne. And it was here that she met (1664) Jean de Labadie, a Jesuit who had converted to Protestantism and who had founded a breakaway religious sect. Anna Maria was fascinated by Labadie and his ideas. He favoured a contemplative approach to religion - and was excommunicated (1670) for preaching this. Anna Maria became his principal helper with his work.

Anna Maria published her last work "Eucleria" (1673) with Jean's support. After Jean's death (1674), Anna Maria took the lead in preaching his ideas in Holland. She died (1678) having used all her wealth in service to the poor. Labadism became extinct 70 years later (1750).

Caroline Norton

Reformer for Married Women in Britain

Caroline married George Norton (1827), a parasite who depended on her income and political connections for his own advancement. George sued the British Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (1836) for seducing her after Caroline had sought Melbourne's aid in having George made a judge. The action went against George Norton, who then did all in his power to see that the existing marriage laws in Britain were fully implemented to Caroline's disadvantage.

Caroline discovered that any money or property she possessed or acquired before or during her marriage, was her husbands. And that after the break-up of the marriage, every penny that she earned to keep herself could, by law, be taken from her by her husband. Also, by law, she could never enter into contracts in her own right nor sue anyone. And finally, by law, her husband could take her children and never allow her access to them. That spurred her into action.

Caroline met and collaborated with Mr Telfourd, MP (1837), who had already decided to introduce the Infant's Custody Bill. Together they decided to pursue the Bill further. The Bill reached the House of Lords (highest level of the British parliament) - and there it stayed (1838). Caroline wrote a pamphlet "A plain letter to the Lord Chancellor" under the name "Pierce Stevenson", hoping that under a male persona the letter would carry more weight. The pamphlet was delivered to every MP and Peer (from the House of Lords) and actually received favourable reaction. The Bill was passed (1839). It laid down that a judge might make an order allowing a mother, against whom adultery was not proven, to have custody of her children under the age of 7yo and for access to older children - the Act was amended (1925) to give full equal guardianship.

Then husband George stopped Caroline's allowance (1855). Caroline took up the fight for the Marriage and Divorce Act - it was passed (1857), despite strong opposition from Mr Gladstone. Caroline's pamphlets and work behind the scenes in support of the amendments were of fundamental importance. The amendments included:- the protection of the deserted wife from her husband's claims upon her earnings, the payment of a maintenance allowance, permitting the divorced or seperated wife to inherit or bequeath property acquired after seperation (but not during marriage), and the ability of the woman to enter into contracts in her own right and to give her the power to sue, or be sued. Divorcees could now legally remarry, and the wife might now be entitled to custody of the children and a maintenance allowance. But despite all this, only men could sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Throughout her life, Caroline wrote books, articles, pamphlets, poetry and songs, and four novels. In the final two years of her life, Caroline did enter into a happy marriage.

Friday, August 7, 2009

History Books: What's New

Just a few history books that have just been or are due to be released that might be of interest:

  • Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg by John Guy
  • Golda by Elinor Burkett
  • Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage by Edith B. Gelles
  • Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom and Revenge by Edward Kritzler
  • The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King - A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson
  • Marked for Life: The Story of Hildegard Goss-Mayr by Richard Deats

Mexica Maize Goddess

From Art Daily:
A Chicomecoatl monolith found recently in Zempoala municipality, Hidalgo, 500 years old, which represents the goddess of maize, was restored by National Institute of Anthropology and History specialists and now historical research has begun.

The archaeological finding associated to Mexica culture dated between 1430 and 1520 was found in July 2009 by employees of a private company, notifying immediately the Hidalgo INAH Center, which proceeded to remove and guard it.

The 60 centimeters tall sculpture represents the Mexica maize goddess, Chicomecoatl, linked to fertility. She carries 2 corncobs on each hand, and has an orifice in the chest, where a greenstone or “chalchiutlicue”, which represents the flower of life, was inlaid.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme

From CNN - Crime:
The president she once pointed a gun at has been dead for nearly three years, and her longtime idol and leader, Charles Manson, remains in prison.

However, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is about to get her first taste of real freedom in more than three decades. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Fromme, now 60, is set to be released on parole August 16. Fromme is housed at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sotomayor - Confirmed

From the Huffington Post:
Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation Thursday as the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, a history-making Senate vote that capped a summer-long debate heavy with ethnic politics and hints of high court fights to come.

The third woman in court history, she'll be sworn in Saturday as the 111th justice and the first nominated by a Democrat in 15 years.

The Senate vote was 68-31 to confirm Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, with Democrats unanimously behind her but most Republicans lining up in a show of opposition both for her and for the president's standards for a justice.

The 55-year-old daughter of Puerto Rican parents was raised in a South Bronx housing project and educated in the Ivy League before rising to the highest legal echelons, spending the past 17 years as a federal judge. She watched the vote on TV at a federal courthouse in New York City, among friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blogs of Interest

A couple of noteworthy blogs that I have recently come across and thought you might enjoy:

History of American Women
Dedicated to the many women who contributed to the growing history of America.

Wings & Wasp
Dedicated to the many women aviators of World War II.

Naomi Sims

From Yahoo News:
Naomi Sims, a black model who opened the white-dominated fashion industry to African Americans in the 1960s, has died aged 61.

Sims - sometimes dubbed the first black supermodel - died of cancer on Saturday (local time) in Newark, New Jersey, the New York Times and reported.

Born in racially segregated Mississippi in 1948, Sims made history in August 1967 as the first black model on the cover of Fashion Of The Times - a supplement to The New York Times.

She scored another first when she made the cover of Ladies Home Journal and went on to feature on the covers of Life Magazine and Cosmopolitan.

"Thanks to her proven personal initiatives as a true pioneer, she succeeded in creating a real place for black women in the modelling industry," said Marcellous Jones, chief editor at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Author: JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

From JM Bown @ Mercury News:
At 65, longtime Alameda resident JoAnn Smith Ainsworth was sort of forced to pursue her dream of becoming a novelist.

The database administrator found herself unemployed and scared when the law firm where she had worked for 20 years abruptly went out of business. To stave off her sorrow, the divorcee turned her focus to books — not reading them as much as writing them.

Last week, Ainsworth, now 70, celebrated the paperback release of her second novel, "Matilda's Song." The medieval romance set in Britain after the Norman Conquest of the British Isles of the 11th century already has been published online.

Visit JoAnn's website

Bulgarian Princess

From Nick Illiev @ The Sofia Echo:
The tomb of a Bulgarian princess was discovered in the northern Bulgarian town of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria's medieval capital, the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) said.

Archaeologists Nikolai Ovcharov and Hitko Vachev have excavated on August 2 what has been described as the grave of a Bulgarian princess, buried in the courtyard of the St St Peter and Pavel church in Veliko Tarnovo.

According to the two archaeologists, they have concluded that the grave dates back to the 14th century or earlier, sometime after the reign of tsar Ivan Assen II. The princess was found wearing "luxurious clothes trimmed with golden ribbon; excellently crafted jewelry; a golden ring, earrings, silver and golden pins were also found around the buried body", the BNR said.

Archaeologists have discovered over 100 artifacts since excavation work commenced two months ago at the St St Peter and Pavel as well as St Ivan Rilski churches in Veliko Turnovo. Most of discovered finds consist of golden jewelry. Once the items are restored, they will exhibited at the town's history museum in autumn 2009.

UN Literacy Awards

From UN News Centre:
A newspaper produced entirely by women in rural India is among the four winners of this year’s Literacy Prizes awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of innovative programmes designed to teach women, adolescents and other marginalized populations how to read and write.

The fortnightly newspaper – distributed to more than 20,000 readers in Uttar Pradesh, northern India – is entirely created and marketed by newly literate “low caste” women who are training as journalists.

The award ceremony will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 8 September to coincide with International Literacy Day.

Empowerment of Muslim Women

From John Esposito @ Middle East Online:
Like the status of women in all the World's religions, in Islam and Muslim societies patriarchy played and in many cases continues to influence the status and roles of women. The place of women in the formative period of Islam reflected Qur'anic concerns for the status and rights of women as well as the patriarchal structure of the societies in which Islamic law was developed and elaborated. The status of women and the family in Islamic law was the product of Arab culture, Qur'anic reforms, and foreign ideas and values assimilated from conquered peoples. While the Qur'an introduced substantial reforms, providing new regulations and modifying local custom and practice, at the same time, much of the traditional pre-Islamic social structure with its extended family, the paramount position of males, the roles and responsibilities of its members, and family values was incorporated.

A new source of women's empowerment today has become active participation in the mosque and use of Islam's tradition to reclaim their rights in Islam. Reformers today emphasize that just as women during the time of the Prophet prayed in the mosque, so too today they actively exercise that right. In the centuries after the death of Muhammad, women played a small but significant role as transmitters of hadith (prophetic traditions) and in the development of Sufism (Islamic mysticism).

China: Girls Forced to Marry Soldiers

From Michael Sheridan @ the Times of India:
The film’s title, ‘8,000 Girls Ascend the Heavenly Mountain’, suggests that Chinese audiences will see a tale of joy when it is aired on television this autumn.

It dramatises the lives of thousands of girls aged 13 to 19 who went to China’s remote far west in the 1950s to follow soldiers sent to colonise the turbulent Muslim region. In real life it was a trip to purgatory. As shooting for the film unfolds in Beijing under the watchful gaze of party censors, an astonishing story of mass deception, forced marriages and suicides has come to light.

Women have come forward to tell how they were lured to China’s new frontier by false promises of training and education — only to find themselves locked in barracks and coerced into marrying soldiers.

Chinese journalists have also discovered that Chairman Mao Tse-tung approved the dispatch of 900 prostitutes from the brothels of Shanghai to undergo “thought reform”. Thousands of war widows were also conscripted to go forth and multiply with new husbands from People’s Liberation Army.

Uganda: Banning Female Circumcision

From Khadijah Rentas @ CNN News:
In many cases it's a woman that grips the blade -- maybe clean, maybe dirty -- that cuts a girl's path to womanhood.

The cutter, who works for a fee, can pursue any number of surgical options for the young girl's rite of passage. She can remove the girl's clitoris entirely, narrow her vagina with stitches, or make other excisions of the girl's genitalia.

A traditional symbol of a child's maturity to womanhood, the girl undergoes a circumcision. Often without an anesthetic, she feels every slice.

And sometimes girls that become women under the knife die under it, too.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni wants to outlaw female circumcision, and those that continue to perform the bloody practice would face the death penalty if a girl dies as a result of the procedure, Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi told CNN Wednesday.

Political Correctness Closes Women's Refuge

From Andy Dolan @ Mail Online:
Supporters of a women's refuge were 'shocked and stunned' to be told it is being closed - because it does not cater for men.

The emergency shelter was set up 13 years ago for women and children and adult males are not allowed to stay.

But council officials have now ruled that, because it does not serve both sexes equally, the money used to run the home would be better spent on an 'outreach service' to help battered husbands as well as wives in their own homes.

Brian Ellis, a councillor who helped set up the refuge in Weymouth, Dorset, in 1986, branded the move a 'step backwards'.

'It doesn't make sense,' he said. 'The women are there because of what men have done to them and their children. When people suffer from domestic violence they need an immediate escape and that's being taken away.'

Refuge, a charity for women and children affected by domestic violence, said: 'There are not enough refuges for women as it is.

'It's already difficult to get help and women often have to travel long distances. Losing beds that are already there is really devastating. It is a whole community that has lost that kind of safety.'

The shelter, which can accommodate six families, costs £82,780 a year to run.

Saudi Women Protest

From the Khaleej Times Online:
Scuffles broke out on Sunday when hundreds of Saudi women students held a rare protest at a university over alleged corrupt admission policies, local newspapers reported.

The protest erupted after students were turned away on admissions day at Taif University, south of the holy city of Mecca, Okaz and its sister paper the Saudi Gazette said on Monday.

Female security guards clashed with the students and female guardians as they staged a sit-in and blocked streets and the entrance to the university, they said on their websites.

Witnesses quoted by the Saudi Gazette said that Red Crescent relief teams treated the female guardian of one of the girls “who was beaten up by the security women.”

Al-Medina newspaper said the women and their guardians attempted to storm the university’s gate and were pushed back by security guards, resulting in some injuries.

The women accused the university of admitting less qualified students and closing admissions before the official registration date.

But the dean of admissions and registration, Hisham al-Zeer denied there was any corruption in the admissions process, the Gazette said.

Sudanese Women: Flogged - Part II

From Middle East Online:
A Sudanese journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing "indecent" trousers vowed on the eve of her judgment that she is ready to be whipped 40,000 times in her bid to change the country's harsh laws.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who works for the media department of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, is to be judged on Tuesday after waiving the immunity granted to UN workers.

She is to be judged under Article 152 of Sudanese law, which promises 40 lashes for anyone "who commits an indecent act which violates public morality or wears indecent clothing."

Police arrested Hussein and 12 other women wearing trousers at a Khartoum restaurant on July 3. Two days later 10 of the women accepted a punishment of 10 lashes, but Hussein is appealing in a bid to eliminate such rough justice.

Hordes of people, many of them female supporters and some also wearing trousers out of solidarity, crammed into the courthouse for the hearing.

Emma Watson No Muggle

The family-history experts at have discovered the actress' distant relative may have been a sorceress in real life. According to English records, Joan Playle lived in Essex County, England, during the 16th century and was convicted of witchcraft in 1592.

It is not known for a fact whether Playle really was a witch. Records, however, indicate she was not executed for her alleged crimes but was excommunicated from the Church of England. In Elizabethan times, women were more susceptible to being accused of witchcraft if they were poor, widowed or single. It appears Watson's distant family member was one of 270 known people who were accused and tried for witchcraft in England under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I.

Corazon Aquino

From David Randall @ the Independent:
Corazon Aquino, who was propelled by the assassination of her husband into a crusade that saw her defeat Ferdinand Marcos, the then president of the Philippines and one of the 20th century's most corrupt dictators, died yesterday. She was 76.

Later, as supporters scattered yellow confetti on the procession, her body was taken to a Manila school, where it will lie in state. Her funeral will take place on Wednesday at the capital's cathedral. She had been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer last year, and, for the past month, had been confined to a Manila hospital. Her old adversary, Imelda Marcos, even led prayers for Cory Aquino in the final weeks of her illness.

Interview: Bishop Peace Okonkwo

Interview @ AllAfrica between Yemisi Suleiman and Bishop Peace Okonkwo in the lead up to the Women of Global Impact Conference 2009.
The Women of Global Impact is an initiative that has different points of reaching out: Rehoboth Homes, Widows Empowerment Initiative, Children Educational Support and Orphanage Support.

The programme was actually aimed at getting women that are highly placed in the society to let them know that as women we could do more to complement what the men are doing; because, we are the ones carrying the brunt, the ones that give birth. It was to bring them together and thank them for what they are doing and inspire them to do more.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Online: Criminal Trials

From Chris Smyth @ Times Online:
...1.4 million criminal trials from the 18th and 19th centuries that feature in registers that go online for the first time today.

The records, published in a collaboration between the website and the National Archives, include every criminal trial in England and Wales that was reported to the Home Office between 1791 and 1892.

It was a deadly period to be a criminal — the “Bloody Code” when more than 200 different offences carried the death penalty was in place at the start of this era — and the documents detail 10,300 executions as well as 97,000 transportations and 900,000 sentences of imprisonment.

The documents, held in 279 volumes at the National Archives in Kew, were scanned in by volunteers for the genealogical website and can be searched by keyword. They are available only to subscribers, although the website is offering a free two-week trial.

Goddess Lakshmi

From Vijay Kumar @ Ground Report:
In Indian Kashmir, J & K Police department discovered an ancient and magnificent stone sculpture of Goddess Lakshmi from an ancient spring at Village Nagabal Lesser in Kokernag area of South Kashmir. The sculpture is brilliantly carved in limestone (slightly brownish in colour) measuring 9-inches in height and 5-inches in width. The deity is seated on a lotus throne placed in between two lions.

The preliminary study of the sculpture dates the artifact between 6th - 7th Century A.D. and places it very near to the sculptures previously found at Bijbehara, Anantnag, Kashmir. This is the only kind of artifact found from the Lesser Kokernag area of South Kashmir so far and the presence of pottery in an around Village Lesser reveals that there had been some ancient settlements which requires further examination.