Global Research Project on Women in the News Media

August 13, 2008 – The International Women’s Media Foundation is launching a research project to examine the news media industry structure worldwide from a gender perspective. The project, called the Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media, will document the levels of involvement by women in the news media at professional, decision-making and governance levels.

“Women journalists’ full participation in the news media furthers freedom of the press,” said Jane Ransom, the IWMF’s executive director. “We want to be aware of gaps in women’s leadership so that we can continue to create opportunities for women to participate more fully in the news media worldwide.” Continue reading

vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation… and solutions

2 presentations about the vulnerability to sex trafficking and exploitation, one focused on moldova and one on the u.s.:

h/t londonfeministnetwork & discussion about organizations, like GEMS (whose mission is “to empower young women, ages 12-21 years, who have experienced sexual exploitation and violence to exit unsafe and abusive lifestyles and to develop their full potential”), that provide the most vulnerable girls and women “with empathetic, consistent support and viable opportunities for positive change” – which arose as a reaction to the news about the “Guide to Brothels” from the Women’s Institute in UK: “Women’s Institute ladies toured the world in search of the perfect brothel” (story also in romanian: “Doua bunici, reprezentante ale Institutului Femeilor din Marea Britanie, au facut turul pamantului pentru a gasi bordelul perfect”)

on the absurdities of nationalism, and more – situation in georgia

“Russia and Georgia: Darkness Falls”
by Natalia Antonova, GlobalComment

… The unthinkable is already happening before us, and history has entered a gloomy and bewildering chapter. This is the sort of thing that happens when empires fail; it’s bloody and vile. It reeks of gunpowder and rot and the dried-up glue that used to hold together our old, red memorial wreaths.

Now, for all the understandable grief surrounding the loss of life, I have found something to be bitterly amused about:

It’s hilarious how quickly some start shouting that “hey those are Russian citizens we are fighting for!!!” Yes, that is factually true, many South Ossetians do have Russian passports now, and Moscow has to take responsibility for these people whether it wants to or not.

But isn’t it funny how the people of that region, normally viewed as “black-assed thugs,” have suddenly become our brothers and sisters, our secret lovers and best friends?

Obviously this isn’t the philosophy of all Russian people, I am pointing this out because those I have seen beating their chests about how Moscow is being “overtaken” by “darkies” are the same people beating their chests over the fate of South Ossetians.

The absurdities of nationalism know no bounds.

The joy with which such people greet pictures of dead Georgians is diabolical. Their desire to see Russian soldiers fall due to some misguided notions regarding “glory” is equally diabolical. They do not value Georgian lives, but neither do they value the lives of their own troops or the lives of South Ossetians they are supposed to care about.

The loudest of the loud among us do not have sons serving in the Russian army, or so I have noticed.

This isn’t to say that I am a fan of Georgia’s President Saakashvili, however. I think it’s laughable that some writers are busy painting a picture of the genteel Saakashvili and uniformly bloodthirsty, fanged Russians. Have we learned nothing from Georgia’s squashed opposition? Do we really think that Saakashvili has the best interests of his people in mind? Or the best interests of the South Ossetians who are, predictably, almost invisible in this conflict?

Political elites benefit from grand-standing, regular people just lose their limbs in the process.

The West is no better in this regard. We have shouted all we could about Kosovo, OMIGOD Kosovo! The BBC quickly points out lawlessness in South Ossetia, but it takes years for anyone to mention lawlessness in aforementioned Kosovo. This is because it was easy to get involved in the Balkans, and not so easy to do the same in this part of the world.

Ultimately, the nations who have encouraged Georgia to join Nato will wash their hands of this conflict. When it comes to what matters more, Tbilisi or Moscow, Moscow will win out. It’s expedient to kick smaller nations to the curb in favour of the big guys, and I say this as someone who has a hell of a lot in common with the Russian Federation and its interests.

Who knows? Perhaps this entire conflict will serve to benefit Russian-American relations. On Air Force One, high above the toils of ordinary life and death, people who will benefit from this disaster can toast each other while the dead are being buried. …

see also: latest coverage on RFE/RL, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and Democracy Now!

misc. from the global feminist newswire

Proposed Legislation in Iran Would End Death by Stoning – 8/6/2008

Jailed Afghan Mothers Allowed to Live With Their Children in Prison – 8/5/2008

Indian Court Rejects Couple’s Plea for Abortion – 8/5/2008

First Afghan Woman Elected to CEDAW – 8/4/2008

Multiple HIV/AIDS Conferences in Mexico Begin – 8/4/2008

U.S. Government Accountability Office Releases Domestic Worker Abuse Report – 8/1/2008

Continue reading

Olympics & human rights

“China Unveils Frightening Futuristic Police State at Olympics” (Naomi Klein, Alternet)

Amnesty International: China Olympic Legacy


Despite promises, the 2008 Olympics will be marred by repeated abuses of freedom of speech.

Undermining the “Olympic Spirit” and reneging on their commitments the Chinese government has detained journalists, limited access to information and violently suppressed protesters. International and National Olympic Committees have also discouraged athletes from exercising their right to free speech and ignored international human rights standards.

According to the IOC Fundamental Principles, “Olympism is a…respect for universal fundamental ethical principles…The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

» Athletes condemn China human rights
» China denies visas to Olympians that write about Sudan
» IOC official accuses IOC of “betrayal”
» Human Rights worsening in countdown to the Olympics

To find out more, see which activists and jounalists are in prison, visit the ARTICLE 19 campaign.

Other sites about China and boycott (via): Continue reading

job for the boys

interesting, this almost seems like “Challenging Rape Culture” (and v.a.w. in general) at an institutional level:

“A huge job for the boys” (Guardian, July 30 2008) – The minister for police, security and community safety tells Julie Bindel how he wants men to take a more responsible attitude towards domestic and sexual violence against women – and to spread the word to others

and he’s hitting mostly right notes!

“The majority of men don’t abuse women, but there is a responsibility on men to speak up and speak out about it,” he says. “The noise that men have made about it in the past has never been loud enough. I think that’s a perspective I can bring to the whole discussion.”

Coaker is pushing forward the need to debate tricky issues such as rape, sexual assault and male demand for prostitution, and repeatedly emphasises how proud he is to be part of a process of engagement with citizens about a topic as emotiveas violence towards women. “I have always tried to be frank and upfront about things, and to go out of my way to engage,” he says. “For me, it is not about just maintaining the status quo, but looking at effective ways to deal with the problems.”

“This is about the sort of society and communities we want to live in,” Coaker says. “It is about men challenging other men’s behaviour.” Although he has become well-respected among women’s organisations that deal with domestic and sexual violence, there is nothing arrogant in his approach. “The women’s movement has done a fantastic job foregrounding this work,” he says, “What I want to do is to continue making it mainstream.”

Again, the key issue for Coaker is public education. “You make the absolute assertion that rape is a criminal act, one of the most heinous we know, and there will be consequences. It is about teaching respect, and educating men to bring about attitudinal change. It is a massive step forward to discuss these things. Now the challenge is how we move things forward.”

What about Coaker’s plans for the future? While acknowledging the importance of legislation and the role of the criminal justice system, his aim is to prevent crimes from occurring in the first instance.

Colombia: community leader, mother killed after speaking out against violence

The leader of a poor community on the outskirts of the Colombian city of Buenaventura has been assassinated by suspected paramilitaries after speaking out against violence at an event held to prevent young people from becoming caught up in the Colombian conflict. Martha Cecilia Obando, 45, was killed in front of the church in the main street of the San Francisco neighbourhood at 7.45pm on Sunday 29th June as she walked home. She was shot three times.

Ms Obando, who was also the President of the Association of Displaced Women (ASODESFRAN), had just finished speaking to a community event attended by some 300 children where women from San Francisco neighbourhood had been teaching the youngsters traditional games from their communities. Virtually all of the people in the neighbourhood are originally from the Charco River basin but have been forced from their homes by paramilitaries with links to the Colombian Army.

Mothers in the area, including Ms Obando, were worried that their children were playing games that included simulated gunfights and other violence rather than traditional children’s games. As a result workshops for kids were established with the help of the Church and Ms Obando. Following her murder the future of the project is uncertain.

The US human rights organisation Human Rights First has set up a web page from which people can protest direct to the Colombian authorities about this most recent killing.

source: Justice for Colombia
via la chola

UK: Defending secular spaces

Posted on August 6, 2008
Filed Under Faith, London, Opinion Comment, Women’s Group
by Pragna Patel, chair of Southall Black Sisters and a member of Women Against Fundamentalism

In the rush to be tolerant or sensitive to religious difference, the space is created for the most reactionary and even fundamentalist religious leaders to take control

On 18th July 2008 at the High Court, Southall Black Sisters (SBS) won an important legal challenge affirming its right to exist and continue its work. At stake was a decision by Ealing Council to withdraw funding from SBS – the only specialist provider of domestic violence services to black and minority women in Ealing – under the guise of developing a single generic service for all women in the borough.

The council sought to justify its decision on the grounds of ‘equality’, ‘cohesion’ and ‘diversity’. It argued that the very existence of groups like SBS – the name and constitution – was unlawful under the Race Relations Act because it excluded white women and was therefore discriminatory and divisive!