Some good international news

from Women’s eNews:

* Portugal, one of four European nations where most abortions are illegal, will vote next month in a referendum to liberalize its laws. The election occurs amid efforts to challenge Portuguese and Irish anti-choice laws in European court.

* Three hundred men have joined a Burlington, Vermont, U.S., campaign against domestic abuse, the Burlington Press reported Jan. 23. Members of the White Ribbon Campaign, which was formed last December, wear white ribbons to symbolize their commitment to challenging violence against women. Members agree to speak to at least one boy and man to raise awareness.

* A group of Israeli women has petitioned the nation’s high court to prohibit bus companies from telling women to sit in the back in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Reuters reported Jan. 24. Some members of the Orthodox sects of Judaism follow teachings that ban any public contact between men and women. The Israeli government has recently backed transport companies that run gender-divided buses on 30 public routes.

* The United Nations will deploy its first all-female peacekeeping force to the conflict-torn West African nation of Liberia on Jan. 29, the Associated Press reported. The 103-member team, which has trained since September and is drawn from India, will help conduct local elections and assist with prison security.

* Under pressure from activists and eager for approval to join the European Union, Turkey has launched a major campaign against honor killings, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan 21. Pop stars and soccer celebrities have produced TV spots and billboard ads condemning violence against women, while Turkish imams have declared honor killings a sin.

* More than 500 international manufacturers of cosmetic and body care products have vowed to eliminate toxic ingredients from their products, the San Francisco-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics announced Jan. 25. The pledge’s signatories have agreed to replace ingredients linked with cancer, hormone imbalances and birth anomalies with safer alternatives by 2010.

* Saudi Arabia’s most prominent princess, Lolwah Al-Faisal, said that she would allow women to drive if she were queen for a day during comments made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Times of London reported Jan. 25. Al-Faisal is vice-chair of the board of trustees and general supervisor of Jeddah’s Effat College. Her remark was broadly received as a direct challenge to the nation’s driving ban, imposed by religious order in 1990.

* When Israel holds a high-level meeting on national security starting Jan. 21, Israeli women’s groups will meet on the sidelines to discuss the harmful effects of last summer’s war on Lebanon and recommend ways to defuse nuclear tensions in the region.

* A U.K. labor union plans to bring a barrage of cases that will test the significance for female workers of a recent European Court of Justice decision. Advocates hope it will ease the penalty for taking time out of the paid work force.

are women human ii

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Scrisoare deschisa adresata Excelentei Sale, Domnului Ambasador al Potugaliei la Bucuresti

De obicei, drepturile femeilor nu sunt recunoscute ca drepturi ale omului, ceea ce are consecinte grave asupra modului in care societatea priveste si trateaza chestiunile fundamentale legate de vietile femeilor.

Pe data 18 ianuarie 2007, s-au implinit 5 ani de cand 17 femei au fost judecate, in Portugalia, pentru ca au recurs la avort.
In Portugalia, din 1998, avortul – cu exceptia celui efectuat ca urmare a unui viol – este considerat infractiune, sanctionata cu pana la 3 ani de inchisoare. Anual, 40.000 de femei recurg la avort in secret, cel putin 5000 dintre acestea ajungand la sectiile de urgenta din cauza complicatiilor.
La sfarsitul anului 2006, Parlamentul Portugaliei a votat pentru un referendum, in data de 11.02.2007, in favoarea legalizarii avortului in primele 10 saptamani de sarcina.
Credem ca experienta tragica a femeilor din Romania poate fi invocata in sprijinul demersului nostru pentru respectarea dreptului femeii de a decide in privinta propriului corp.
Intre 1966 si 1989 avortul a fost interzis in Romania. Avand ca principala cauza avortul ilegal, in 1989, in Romania, rata mortalitatii materne a fost cea mai mare inregistrata vreodata in Europa. Femei altfel sanatoase au murit ca urmare a hemoragiei post-abortive, sepsis, traume abdominale si otravire. Numai intre 1976 si 1989 au murit din cauza practicarii avorturilor ilegale 7280 femei. In realitate, acest numar este mult mai mare intrucat, subiectul de referinta al acestor statistici fiind decesele materne, pentru a “rotunji prin diminuare” statisticile, femeile gravide care nu aveau copii nu erau incluse in numaratoarea statistica a acestei categorii de decese, ca si tinerele care ramasesera gravide fara a fi casatorite.

Recunoastem consecintele negative la care poate fi supusa o femeie ca urmare a efectuarii unui avort, insa consideram ca acestea pot fi diminuate sau eliminate numai prin educatie si nu prin criminalizarea avortului, arestand femeia care l-a practicat.
Semnatarele/semnatarii acestei scrisori deschise considera dreptul femeii la avort ca o inalta valoare a unei societati demoratice.
Cum problema efectuarii unui avort este una de constiinta si a carei rezolvare trebuie sa ramana, in mod evident, la decizia femeii, dorim sa ne anuntam solidaritatea cu persoanele, organizatiile sau institutiile care militeaza pentru decriminalizarea avortului in Portugalia.

Mihaela Miroiu, Profesor,
National School of Political Studies and Public Administration
Oana Baluta, Centrul Curricular de Studii de Gen FILIA, Bucuresti
Alina Dragolea, Centrul Curricular de Studii de Gen FILIA, Bucuresti
Emil Moise, Asociatia Solidaritatea pentru Libertatea de Constiinta, oficiul Buzau
[in curind, forma finala a scrisorii cu lista completa de semnaturi]

lectura suplimentara:
despre legalizarea avortului in portugalia (en)
– in romana “avortul: ‘ultima solutie’ in loc de ‘singura solutie'” din jurnalul societatii de analize feministe ana si in engleza “abortion” de bitch ph.d.
women on waves foundation

Anunt: Gender & Peacebuilding -Training la Cluj

Program international de training “Gender and Peacebuilding”

Institutul Roman pentru Pace (PATRIR) in colaborare cu reteaua TRANSCEND pentru Pace si Dezvoltare anunta programul international de training “Gender and Peacebuilding” ce se va desfasura in Cluj Napoca, intre 29 ianuarie si 2 februarie, 2007.

Programul ofera o introducere in studiile de gen si o analiza a complexitatii relatiilor dintre gen si constructiile sociale, dintre gen, rasa si privilegii de clasa. Pe parcursul cursului se vor explora interdependenta dintre gen si relatiile de putere, cu accent pe teoria si practica rolurilor de gen in diferite societati. Cursul va explica cum intelegerea constructiilor sociale de gen poate contribui la abordarea inegalitatilor de gen si la promovarea unei culturi a pacii. Cursul va aborda si notiuni de militarism, pace si sisteme de razboi – ca expresii ale unor constructii sociale de gen. Va demonstra o conexiune directa intre militarism si violenta bazata pe gen, pozitiile sociale ce au la baza diviziunile de gen si societatile violente, prin exemple din Orientul Mijlociu, Asia de Sud-Est, Europa de Vest si de Est, cu un accent pus pe SUA si zona balcanica.

Costurile cursului sunt acoperite de organizatori, participantii fiind responsabili de drum, cazare si masa pe perioada trainingului (5 zile). Organizatorii pot aranja cazarea si masa participantilor contra unei sume de 180 Euro (cazare pentru 6 nopti si masa pentru 5 zile). Limba de desfasurare a programului de training este engleza.
Trainer: Gal Harmat, Israel.

Cei interesati pot trimite un CV si o scrisoare de motivatie pe adresa pana joi, 25 ianuarie, 2007.

Informatii suplimentare: 0264-420298

–> the info in english: Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: “A Brief History of Misogyny” by Jack Holland

A Brief History of Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice, by Jack Holland
(London: Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2006, ISBN 1-84529-371- 1) 320 pp.

Book review by Joy Wood


Jack Holland gives a background to his perceived origins of the misogyny we see today. One of the main strands is ancient Greek thought, and the other is Christianity and related monotheistic religions. The Greek myth of Pandora (p13) echoes the Jewish Adam and Eve myth, in that the original human was man. In the Pandora myth, men were alone until the demi-god Prometheus, who had created men, stole fire from heaven so that they would not have to eat meat raw, like animals. According to Hesiod, Zeus punished the theft by creating Pandora as a ‘gift’ for men. When Pandora disobeyed the command not to open the box she let loose “pains and evils among men” (p14). She was to blame for men being subject to all the ills of life on earth. A central belief of both Greek and Judeo-Christian thought is that man was created separately from the animals, ie above them. This may be a key to misogyny; because men desire women, they ‘give in’ to their animal nature against their will (the Greek phrase for Pandora translates as ‘the beautiful evil’ (p13)) and then blame their lack of willpower on the ‘earthiness’ of women rather than accept their own human nature. Consequently men dehumanise women (by equating the latter with nature) and hold them in contempt. Compounding the effect of the Pandora myth, Greek philosophy and science affirmed this dualistic view of man -v- nature. Aristotle held that women’s role in pregnancy was as an incubator, to carry the male seed, which backs up the idea that men are independent of women, and that women are more animal-like. The so-called cradle of democracy, Ancient Greece, was a slave-owning state, as was Ancient Rome (p20).

Holland holds that “Plato’s Theory of Forms is the philosophical basis for the Christian doctrine of Original Sin” (p31). He maintains that the Theory of Forms (which elevated ‘thought’ as the true Reality, with a capital ‘R’) provided a powerful philosophical basis to the allegories of both Pandora and the Fall of Man and introduced the dualistic vision of reality, where man forever fights against the world of the senses and, because it was woman which caused the split from God, man despises her since she stands to remind him that he too is only human. Holland displays a dry sense of humour; on page 32 he quotes Bertrand Russell who said, in response to the claim by Aristotle (as proof of their inferiority) that women have fewer teeth than men, “Aristotle would never have made this mistake if he had allowed his wife to open her mouth once in a while.”

“Aristotle also introduced the concept of purpose as fundamental to science” (p32). He maintained that women were inferior to men and made to be ruled by men and to carry the man’s child. A ‘scientific’ belief that women are mere vessels led to the denial of their humanity. Moreover, Aristotle claimed that an excess of menstrual fluid in the mother’s womb means the child will not reach its full human potential but become female instead because, as Aristotle says, “the female is, as it were, a mutilated male” (p33). Deformed and sickly male babies and ‘mutilated males’ (ie girl children) were abandoned because of this Aristotelian belief, and the practice carried on throughout antiquity until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire (p33) (although of course selective abortion and abandonment of female babies goes on today in parts of India and China). Not all females died, however, since exposed infants were automatically reduced to slave status, so brothel keepers raised some of them as prostitutes (p34).

Holland moves from Ancient Greece, though the Roman Empire to the roots of Christianity. At page 72 he lightens the tone a little. After a quote from Isaiah, 3:16-24 where God lists the dreadful things he will do to women who dress up in finery and parade about, Holland responds with, “The God of the Old Testament was remarkable, if not unique, among divinities, in being both grandiose and extraordinarily petty, one minute creating the universe, the next making women’s hair fall out.” The Old Testament, in common with Platonic thought, disparages the pleasures of the flesh. As Holland puts it, “Homosexuality was forbidden, as was any wasteful spilling of man’s seed, including sodomy, masturbation and oral sex. Not a drop could be spared from the business of begetting” (p71). Holland finds similarities between St Paul and Plato, including that the equality they offered for women with men could only be granted if women became like men. For Plato, this was for the elite women who became Guardians along with the elite group of men and, for St Paul, sexual differences disappear in the Kingdom of Heaven (p79). According to Holland, when St Augustine read Platonic works he could equate The Idea, The Pure Form with God and although Origen was the first to begin to synthesise Platonic thought with Jewish scriptures, it was St Augustine “the greatest thinker since Plato” who established the philosophical edifice which propped up Christianity, “including its misogynistic vision” (p90). Augustine was concerned with breaking away from bodily desires. The only way Mary, the ‘mother of God’ could be venerated was if she was a virgin, and had not felt any sexual desire when conceiving Jesus (in other words, she was unlike any other woman) (p102). This echoes the doctrine of Plato – the dualistic split from, and denigration of, the body. As Holland puts it, “The ‘Word became Flesh’ signalled the end of dualism but the cult of the Virgin Mary meant that the old contempt for matter was perpetuated” (p103). Pope Innocent III permanently barred women from hearing confession and preaching and in everyday life he advocated that men make use of women as a necessary object “who is needed to preserve the species or to provide food and drink” (p112).
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Support needed for the women of Oaxaca, Mexico

4 January 2007
[edit: Traducerea si informatii suplimentare in romana]

In November the Global women´s Strike met with women from Oaxaca, Mexico, and we committed ourselves to spreading information about their struggle, their demands, their leading participation in the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) – Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, the great unity it has achieved and the harsh repression attempting to defeat it.

Your support is needed:

– Sign and return this letter. We will forward it to the authorities and the media. Send protest emails and faxes to the authorities.

– Donations. We are sending $1000 to the women of Oaxaca knowing that we can count on international support. We will send everything we collect.

To send a donation in US dollars make cheques payable to Global Women´s Strike, PO Box 11795, Philadelphia, PA 19101, USA; in pound sterling to Global Women’s Strike, Crossroads Women’s Centre, 230a Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AB, England; in euros to Huelga Mundial de Mujeres, Centro Las Mujeres Cuentan, Radas 27 Local, 08004 Barcelona, Spain or by bank transfer to Huelga Mundial de Mujeres, Caixa Penedes, IBAN: ES94 2081 0249 50 3300003442.
Please write Oaxaca on the back of the cheque.

– Circulate this information as widely as possible.


It is claimed that agriculture was born in Oaxaca (and in a few other regions of the world). Its historical has been given Humanity Cultural Heritage status. Oaxaca is a tourist city, expensive for its low income inhabitants. The majority live in Indigenous communities, poor neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city (colonias), often headed by women whose husbands or sons have emigrated to other states or to the US in search of employment.

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