Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sierra Leone: Women journalists stripped and paraded naked

Four women journalists were stripped naked in public in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone where they were covering events to mark the International Day against female circumcision (genital mutilation).They were snatched by members of a secret society, forcibly stripped and made to parade naked through the streets on February 9, 2009. They were only freed after the intervention of the police and human rights organizations. They were accused by their aggressors of reporting against female circumcision which is considered an insult to their culture.

Friday, March 27, 2009

South African women fall victim to 'corrective rape'

The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema.

 Eudy Simelane (Right)
Her brutal murder took place last April, and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterised by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbians of their sexual orientation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First All-Female U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Liberia

Members of the all female Indian Formed Police Unit of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) get ready to receive medals of honour, in recognition for their service. (UN Photo/Christopher Herwig)

Members of the all female Indian Formed Police Unit of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) perform martial arts exercise prior to receiving medals of honour, in recognition for their service. (UN Photo/Christopher Herwig)

Members of the all female Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU) of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) stand ready to receive medals, in recognition for their service. (UN Photo/Christopher Herwig)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A forgotten story : Slavery in Romania

An 1852 poster advertising an auction of Roma slaves in Bucharest, Romania.

Slavery of Roma people (Gypsies) existed on the territory of present-day Romania from before the founding of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in 13th–14th century, until it was abolished in stages during the 1840s and 1850s.

The slaves were considered personal property of the master. They were objects of exchange, sometimes sold by weight; a Rom could be sold for a smaller price than two copper pots, a Roma child could be bought for a smaller price than a cow, because she was not yet good capable of working full-time. Masters offered Roma girls as pleasure toys to their guests; they had the right of life and death over the slave.

The master was allowed to punish his slaves physically, through beatings or imprisonment. 1821, at a time when Boyars in Moldavia fled their country to escape the Eterist expedition, Austrian authorities in Bukovina were alarmed to note that the newly-settled refugees made a habit of beating their slaves in public, and consequently issued an order specifically banning such practices. A dispute followed, after which the Boyars received permission to carry on with the beatings, as long as they exercised them on private property.

A Shatra or Roma(Gypsy) slave village, Romania, 1850s.

Slavery was officially slavery was abolished in 1856. However, Roma people continued to suffer well after the abolition of slavery. They were evicted from their masters’ lands and their huts, with no means of survival, and no resources to carry on with their lives. Many of them went back to their former masters, begging for food and shelter in exchange for hard work. That way, they continued to be half-slaves, servants in the masters’ houses or working on the land, with no access to development resources or to school education.

In a gradual, step-by-step process, Roma began to lose their cultural identity and internalise their inferior status in society. Ashamed of themselves, perceiving their ethnic identity as damnation, they were stigmatised and excluded from the society of their former masters. Roma thus became a scapegoat for all the frustrations and failures of Romanian society.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sterile Dreams: Forced Sterilization of Romani women in Slovakia and Czech Republic

Romani women are being coerced or forced to undergo sterilization procedures in Slovakia’s government-run health facilities, according to a new report released today by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva, in collaboration with Ina Zoon. Two hundred and thirty in-depth interviews were held with Romani women in 40 settlements in eastern Slovakia. The investigative report documents grave human rights violations against Romani women in Slovakia, including about 110 cases where women were forcibly or coercively sterilized, or had strong indications that they had been sterilized. The report also documents extensive racism and verbal and physical abuse towards Romani women in public hospitals, including the denial of patient access to their own medical records and segregation in patients’ rooms, maternity wards, restrooms and dining facilities.

Agata, 28, from Svinia,Slovakia talks about being Coercively Sterilized:
"Doctors came and brought me to the operating room [for a C-section] and there they gave me anesthesia. When I was falling asleep, a nurse came and took my hand in hers and with it she signed something. I do not know what it was. I could not check because I cannot read, I only know how to sign my name. When I left the hospital, I was only told that I would not have any more children…I was so healthy before, but now I have pain all the time. Lots of infections…"

Alexandra from Richnava,Slovakia talks about Racial Segregation in Slovakia’s Public Hospitals:
"In Krompachy hospital, there are separate rooms for Roma—there are three Gypsy rooms, one shower and one toilet for us while white women have their own toilets. White women can go to the dining room but Roma cannot eat there. In Gypsy room, there is not even a dust bin. It is like in a concentration camp there."

Romani women in Slovakia continue to be subject to grave violations of their human rights, particularly their reproductive rights, even though a communist-era law offering monetary incentives for sterilization has been rescinded. A three-month fact-finding in late 2002 by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva (Centre for Civil and Human Rights), a Slovak human rights organization, reveals that not only do coerced and forced sterilization practices continue in Slovakia, so too does the widespread abuse and discrimination against Romani women in the country’s maternal health services. We conducted extensive interviews with more than 230 women in almost 40 Romani settlements throughout eastern Slovakia, the region with the highest concentration of Roma.
The interviews revealed numerous instances of coerced, forced and suspected sterilization of Romani women, along with physical and verbal abuse, racially discriminatory standards of care, misinformation in health matters, and denial of access to medical records.

Iveta Cervenakova, was forcibly sterilized after the birth of her second daughter 12 years ago. She was among possibly as many as a quarter of a million Roma (Gypsy) women sterilized against their will in the Czech Republic.
Since the end of the cold war and the opening up of central and eastern European countries in 1990, the living conditions of the Roma and Sinti minority have drastically deteriorated as a result of nascent racism. However, racist-motivated violence and discrimination against Roma and Sinti have significantly increased in a large number of countries in western Europe. As The New York Times correctly observed in a commentary in March 1996, members of the minority are today subjected to marginalization and racism to an extent that corresponds to the situation of African-Americans in the United States up until the mid-1950s.

A notable cause for the continued marginalization and discrimination of Roma and Sinti is the structures of prejudice and racist clichés, which have been substantially influenced by the misanthropic racial ideology of the National Socialists and the associated fascist regime. In view of these ideological lines of continuity, it is hardly surprising that Roma and Sinti minorities are not only socially disadvantaged to a considerable extent but are also repeatedly the victims of open violence. The authorities in eastern and western Europe have recorded a drastic increase in racist violence against minorities by neo-Nazis; however, such attacks increasingly emanate from the security forces themselves. Only rarely can the perpetrators expect consistent prosecution and conviction by the police and legal authorities. As an example, the police officers responsible for the obviously racist-motivated murders of two Bulgarian Roma in 1996 were not punished by competent authorities; only after a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in 2005 was the Bulgarian State obliged to investigate the racist background to this crime. The Court issued a similar adjudication in a comparable case, also in Romania; in all probability, however, the perpetrators will escape criminal prosecution appropriate to a State governed by the rule of law.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Racism still alive in the "Rainbow Nation": White students force black cleaners to drink urine soup

The alleged victims vomited after being made to eat fouled food
Watch Video

Several white students in South Africa face criminal charges after allegedly forcing black campus employees to eat food that had been urinated on. A video has surfaced last year (Feb 2008) which appears to show the students forcing elderly workers to eat dirty meat and drink soup into which they had urinated.

A violent backlash against the film caused all classes to be suspended yesterday as hundreds of staff and students marched in protest. Police fired stun grenades to disperse an angry crowd gathered outside the whites-only halls of residence where the film was shot. A narrative in Afrikaans indicates the video was recorded in protest at a new university integration policy to integrate black and white students in the same residences at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

In the video the white students, who make no attempt to hide their faces, order the black cleaners at the whites-only Reitz hostel to down full bottles of beer. They then lead them to a playing field where they are told to display their athletic skills. In the final extract a white man urinates on food and into a plastic soup container. Then, shouting: Take! Take! in Afrikaans he apparently forces the campus employees to eat the dirty food, causing them to vomit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Iranian students unveil book mocking Holocaust victims

An Iranian woman looks at a new book mocking the Holocaust in Tehran on September 26, 2008. Photo: AFP

A group of Islamist students unveiled the book today in an annual parade marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Featuring dozens of cartoons and sarcastic commentary, the book "Holocaust" was published by student members of the Basij militia. The book comes two years after an Iranian newspaper commissioned a competition of Holocaust-themed cartoons.

The book's cover depicted a Jew with a hooked nose dressed in traditional clothes drawing the outlines of dead bodies on the ground.
Inside pages have pictures of bearded Jews shown leaving and re-entering a gas chamber with a counter that reads 5,999,999.Another picture shows a hospital patient covered in an Israeli flag and on life support, breathing Zyklon-B, the poisonous gas used in the death camps.

A patient covered in an Israeli flag and on life support breathing Zyklon-B, the poisonous gas used in the extermination chambers.

The commentary inside the book includes anti-Semitic stereotypes and revisionist arguments, casting doubt on the massacre of Jews and mocking Holocaust survivors who claimed reparations after World War II.

One comment in a question-and-answer format reads:

"How did the Germans emit gas into chambers while there were no holes on the ceiling?" Answer: "Shut up, you criminal anti-Semite. How dare you ask this question?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beaten into silence : Battered women in Africa

Africa's highest-ranking female politician has spoken out about the beatings which she said were responsible for her separation from her husband. Specioza Kazibwe, Uganda's former Vice-President, serving from 1994 until 2003, being the first woman in Africa to hold that position said that she had been forced to throw her engineer husband out of their house - which she had built - when she decided enough was enough. Her comments have caused a stir in a society where the subject is largely taboo."Why should I continue staying with a man who beats me?" she was quoted by the New Vision newspaper as telling women legislators. However, the the reaction to Mrs Kazimbwe's action had been varied in Uganda. Mrs Kazibwe should have kept it in the family, said one woman, Diana. "I come from north of the country, where women are told to respect their husbands even if they are abused or beaten up," Diana added."I am happy with the tradition because men are more superior to us and I think, without men, we would not be what we are now."
Men feel free to assault women in public, with complete impunity. A Global Crescendo photographer caught this man beating his pregnant wife. The man in the background looking on appears to be laughing.

Wife beating has traditionally been swept under the social carpet. Few women, including those who are financially independent, have dared to come out and say that they're being battered. It has always happened, everywhere. Often it is accepted as a natural if regrettable part of woman's status as her husband's property. Throughout history women have been subjected to the whims and brutality of their husbands.

Women suffer from violence in every society. In few places, however, is the abuse more entrenched, and accepted, than in sub-Saharan Africa. One in three Nigerian women reported having been physically abused by a male partner, according to the latest study, conducted in 1993. The wife of the deputy governor of a northern Nigerian province told reporters last year that her husband beat her incessantly, in part because she watched television movies.

It is like it is a normal thing for women to be treated by their husbands as punching bags," told Obong Rita Akpan, former Nigerian minister for women's affairs, here. "The Nigerian man thinks that a woman is his inferior. Right from childhood, right from infancy, the boy is preferred to the girl. Even when they marry out of love, they still think the woman is below them and they do whatever they want."

In Zambia, nearly half of women surveyed said a male partner had beaten them, according to a 2004 study financed by the United States - the highest percentage of nine developing nations surveyed on three continents. About 80% of Zambian wives find it acceptable to be beaten by their husbands "as a form of chastisement", according to the Zambia Demographic Health Survey.

A World Health Organization study has found that while more than a third of Namibian women reported enduring physical or sexual abuse by a male partner, often resulting in injury, six in seven victims had either kept it to themselves or confided only in a friend or relative.

In South Africa, researchers for the Medical Research Council estimated last year that a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours - the highest mortality rate from domestic violence ever reported, they say. In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, domestic violence accounts for more than 6 in 10 murder cases in court, a United Nations report concluded last year.

Women's rights activists say that the prevalence of abuse is emblematic of the low status of women in sub-Saharan Africa. Typically less educated, they work longer hours and transport three times as much weight as men, hauling firewood, water and sacks of corn on their heads.

Some societies have the idea that women are foolish and childlike, and need to be beaten to be corrected. In one survey, 44.7 percent of Kenyan women said that men have the right to discipline their wives by beating. The women who are beaten often feel that it is their fault. Even many matrilineal and matrilocal societies accept men beating their wives as correction.

In some Sub-Saharan African countries where wife beating is widely accepted as a response to women's transgressing gender norms, women are More likely than men to justify wife beating. An analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data from in seven Sub-Saharan African countries found that 36-89% of women justified wife beating in at least one of five specified situations such as if she burns the food, neglects the children, argues with him, goes out without telling him or refuses to have sex with. The analysts contend that women's acceptance of wife beating "may be explained only by entrenched social and cultural learning processes that subjugate the position of women in the society, socially and collectively undermine their self-esteem and facilitate romanticisation of the 'ideal' gender role of women."

1946 Lynching Re-enacted in Georgia, USA

Rosie Crowley, center, portrayed the pregnant Dorothy Malcom Monday in a re-enactment of a group lynching in Monroe, Georgia., on July 25, 1946. No one was ever prosecuted for the four killings.The lynchings of Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey on July 25, 1946, have long been a source of racial tension in Monroe, a town about 45 miles east of Atlanta.
See and hear scenes from the re-enactment

On July 25, 1946, two black couples were riding in a car with a white farmer when they were ambushed by a group of about 20 armed men, believed to be Ku Klux Klan members. The four (Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey) were dragged from the car, beaten savagely and shot over 60 times while they pleaded for their lives. All four died, as well as Dorothy Malcolm's unborn child. The lynching was gruesome and the fact that George Dorsey had been a distinguished soldier in WWII infuriated the public. No one was ever charged in the lynchings, even though the FBI’s report named 55 suspects.

On July 25, 2005, fifty-nine years to the day after the incident a group reenacted the murders, with the hope that the federal government would reopen the case and bring those that were involved to justice.

Cold-case Convictions in USA

1977: Ex-Klansman Robert Chambliss convicted of 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls in Birmingham, Alabama
1994: Byron de la Beckwith convicted in 1963 sniper murder of Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers
1998: Former Klan leader Samuel Bowers convicted in the death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., killed in 1966 firebombing of his Mississippi home
2001, 2002: Thomas Blanton Jr. then Bobby Frank Cherry convicted of involvement in 1963 Birmingham church bombing
2003: Earnest Avants convicted in 1966 slaying of handyman Ben Chester White, purportedly to lure the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Natchez, Mississippi
2005: Edgar Ray Killen sentenced to 60 years in prison for the 1964 "Mississippi Burning" manslaughter of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi
2007: Former sheriff's deputy and Klansman James Ford Seale convicted in the 1964 deaths of two Mississippi teenagers
-- Sources: CNN, The Associated Press

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cat woman of Nigeria !!!

Aisha Ibrahim was involved in an auto-accident in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.,but case particularly attracted the media attention because an unusual occurrence was attributed to her. Eyewitnesses said she was hit by a car as a cat, but later transformed into a woman.As the story goes three cats were crossing the busy road when an okada (motorcycle taxi) ran over. One of them immediately turned into a woman. This strange occurrence quickly attracted people around who descended on the scene. A crowd soon gathered, accused her of being a witch and began to beat her up using whatever he came with or could lay his hands on right there. Finally, policemen arrived a the spot and fenced her away from the attackers wanted her dead.

However,another witness gave a completely different account of the incident. He said “I saw the accident as it happened, I saw the car hitting a woman. I didn’t see any cat and it was surprising when everybody said she was a cat and started beating her up instead of helping her.”

Pakistani lawmaker defends burying women alive

Five Pakistani women were beaten, shot and buried alive in the tribal region of Baluchistan on July 13 of this year. What was more shocking was the subsequent defence of these ‘honour’ killings from certain members of the Pakistan Senate.

Women's groups have expressed outrage over the killings

Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents province where the women died, told a stunned parliament that tribesmen had done nothing wrong in first shooting the women and then dumping them in a ditch."These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them,.Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid." he said.

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditchin what was a brutal episode of honour killing.They were still breathing as mud was shoveled over their bodies, according to media reports, which said their only "crime" was that they wished to marry men of their own choice, against the wishes of tribal elders.

According to details, the women were about to leave for the civil court so that the three girls could marry the men of their choice. Their decision to get married in court was the result of several days of discussions with the elders of the tribe who refused them permission to marry. As the news of their plans leaked out, a group of men abducted them at gun point. and taken in a vehicle to another remote area,. After reaching there, the men took the three younger women out of the jeep and beat them before allegedly opening fire on them. The girls were seriously injured but were miraculously still alive at that moment. They were hurled into a wide ditch and later covered with earth and stones. The two older women - an aunt of one of these girls and the other, the mother of one minor - when protested and tried to stop the burial of the girls who were still alive-further enraged the attackers. They were so angry at the interference that they pushed the elderly women in the ditch along with the injured girls and buried them alive too. After completing the burial, they fired several shots in the air so that no one would come close.

It is considered an insult in some conservative regions of Pakistan for women to have affairs or marry without consent, and rights groups say hundreds are killed by male relatives every year.Reaction of Dr Farzana Bari, a university professor and a human rights activist from Islamabad who is leading the outcry against these crimes:

Desire to control women’s lives and their sexuality is far greater in areas where feudal and tribal systems are prevalent. For example, you will not find the same oppression of women in Islamabad, Karachi or Lahore. But where there is a strong tribal or feudal hold you see that women’s sexuality is strictly controlled by the family – and particularly the male members of the family.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital

This strange event had occurred in Congo.

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

A penis panic is a mass hysteria event or panic in which male members of a population suddenly experience this belief. Penis panics have occurred around the world, most notably in Africa and south-east Asia Asia. Penis panic tends to reflect a certain xenophobia among some groups, whereby foreigners are often blamed as the ones behind the "attacks".The belief has triggered waves of panic in Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, , Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal and Zimbabwe at various times in the last decade.
Documented cases have not typically indicated actual instances of penis shrinkage or retraction. As one academic work states, in a culture where sexual anxiety is high and stories exist of death by genital retraction, a man in the right frame of mind could panic at the observation that his genitals are shrinking in response to cold or anxiety.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trokosi: Ritual servitude

Juliana Dogbadzi, a former Trokosi slave and recipent of the 1999 Reebok Human Rights Award

Ritual servitude is a practice in Ghana, Togo, and Benin where traditional religious shrines take human beings, usually young virgin girls in payment for services, or in religious atonement for alleged misdeeds of a family member. Tro means deity and kosi means slave or wife so Trokosi translates as slave or wife of the deity.

These shrine slaves serve the priests, elders and owners of a traditional religious shrine without remuneration and without their consent, although the consent of the family or clan may be involved. Those who practice ritual servitude usually feel that the girl is serving the god or gods of the shrine and is married to the gods of the shrine.

These girls are sexually abused, serve at hard labor without compensation, suffer harsh punishment, and are denied education and human affection. If a girl runs away or dies, she must be replaced by another girl from the family. Some girls in ritual servitude are the third or fourth girl in their family suffering for the same crime, sometimes for something as trite as the loss of trivial property. It is still practiced in the Volta region in Ghana, in spite of being outlawed in 1998, and despite carrying a minimum three year prison sentence for conviction. Among the Ewes who practice the ritual in Ghana, the practice is also called trokosi or fiashidi. In Togo and Benin it is called voodoosi or vudusi.

The most disturbing detail is that although the Trokosi system, alongside all traditional and cultural practices that violate the constitution of Ghana was banned in 1998 the practice is still very much alive. In some cases the practice has moved ‘underground’. Some members of the communities involved do not see Trokosi as a Human Rights violation but as a traditional and reliable way of dispensing and maintaining social justice. The researchers estimated the number of victims to be roundabout 1400. To date no one has been arrested or persecuted in spite of the law banning the practice. Tro means deity and kosi means slave or wife so Trokosi translates as slave or wife of the deity.

Beer drinkers sentenced to caning

A Sharia High Court in Malaysia has sentenced a man and a woman to caning for drinking beer. Mohamad Nasir Mohamad, a 38-year-old father of four, and 22-year-old waitress Noorazah Baharuddin (in picture), were each discovered last year consuming beer in Pahang bars. 's Sharia High Court fined Mohamad and Baharuddin each $1,400 and ordered that they be publicly whipped for their crimes.

Offenders are whipped with a long strip of rattan that cuts into the skin and leaves permanent scars to remind them of their punishment. According to the New Straits Times, the cane will be 1.22m long and 1.25cm thick. Mohamad and Baharuddin will be allowed to face their punishment wearing clothing.


Public Caning in Aceh and Sharia Tourism

An Acehnese woman kneels to be caned by Sharia law authorities Jan.12, 2007 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Tourism authorities in Indonesia's Aceh province hope that this practice of Sharia or Islamic law will attract visitors. "We invite international tourists to visit Aceh to observe how an Islamic community lives and how the Islamic code of Sharia is applied," said Cipta Hunai, an Aceh tourism official, in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

He said that Sharia law in Aceh was a tourist attraction because it allowed foreigners to see a reality, that perhaps, they did not already know. "Here the tourists can visit many mosques and see how a community lives under laws based on the Koran," he said. "

Muslim-devout Aceh is the only province in Indonesia allowed to apply Sharia law. However observers say that the application of Sharia in the province has harmed the rights of the poor and women.The Indonesian government agreed to allow Shariah law in Aceh four years ago as part of negotiations to end the 29-year war between separatist rebels and the military.

Canning is carried out in Aceh for crimes including the sale or consumption of alcohol, gambling or meeting a person of the opposite sex, that is not your husband, wife or family member, in a private place.

For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

The Widespread Practice of Female Circumcision in Iraq's North Highlights The Plight of Women in a Region Often Seen as More Socially Progressive. Launch Photo Gallery

Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor's house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised.

There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. "I do this in the name of Allah!" she intoned.

As the midwife sliced off part of Sheelan's genitals, the girl let out a high-pitched wail heard throughout the neighborhood. As she carried the sobbing child back home, Sheelan's mother smiled with pride.

Read more at: washingtonpost.com

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Breast Ironing: A grim secret of Africa's women

"My mother took a pestle, she warmed it well in the fire and then she used it to pound my breasts while I was lying down. She took the back of a coconut, warmed it in the fire and used it to iron the breasts.I was crying and trembling to escape but there was no way."- Geraldin Sirri, a young student in Cameroon.

What is Breast ironing?
Breast ironing is a form of mutilation practiced in parts of Cameroon. A pubescent girl's breasts are flattened, usually by the girl's mother, in an attempt to make her less sexually attractive to men. This practice is believed to help prevent rape and early marriage. Grinding stones, pestles, belts, heated objects and breast bands are used to press or beat down the forming breasts. (Video)

Most tools are warmed before pounding the girls' chests

Is this really what women have to do to protect themselves from sexual assault? Some parents are just doing to so their daughters do not have consensual sex.

"Breast ironing is not a new thing. I am happy I protected my daughter. I could not stand the thought of boys spoiling her with sex before she completed school", one woman explained."Unfortunately, television is encouraging all sorts of sexual immorality in our children."


A pilot study by RENATA (a local NGO composed of teen mothers) suggests that:

*Breast ironing appears to be most widely-practiced in Cameroon. It's more common in the Christian and animist south of the country than the Muslim north, where only 10 per cent of women are affected.

*It also occurs in Guinea-Bissau, West and Central Africa, including Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry.

*Some 24 per cent of girls in Cameroon, about one girl in four, undergo breast ironing.

*Breast ironing occurs extensively in the 10 provinces throughout Cameroon.

*A sample survey published in January 2006 of 5000 girls and women aged between 10 and 82 in Cameroon, estimates that 4 million women had suffered the process.

*Today, 3.8 million teenagers are threatened with the practice.

*Up to 53 per cent of women and girls interviewed in the coastal Littoral province in the southeast, where the country's main port, Douala, is situated, admit to having had their breasts 'ironed'.

*More than half (58 per cent) of cases breast ironing were undertaken by mothers. Other relatives also participate.

Health and Socio-Economic Implications

*Breast ironing is terribly painful and violates a young girl’s physical integrity.

*Breast ironing exposes girls to numerous health problems such as abscesses, itching, discharge of milk, infection, dissymmetry of the breasts, cysts, breast infections, severe fever, tissue damage and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts.

*This painful form of mutilation could not only have negative health consequences for the girls, but often proves futile when it comes to deterring teenage sexual activity.

Female Suicide Bombers

What motivates a woman to carry out a deadly strike?
Many of the women are determined to avenge the deaths of loved ones. Islam Online featured an interview with Um Mustafa, a woman who was training to become a suicide bomber. After her husband and two children were killed in the U.S. offensive in Fallujah in 2004, Mustafa approached members of al-Qaida in Iraq and stated, "I will give my life to God wherever my leader tells me to do so."

However women may also turn to violence as a result of feeling depressed, or lacking a sense of purpose after the loss or detention of a family member. And terror experts also point out that as al-Qaida's network weakens in Iraq, it has turned to recruiting more women to keep its cause alive.

Slaughtered Apes

Officials of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the bodies of four mountain gorillas illegally slaughtered during the week of July 26 in this file handout photo released by International Gorilla Conservation Programme on August 10, 2007. Almost half the world's monkeys and apes are facing a worsening threat of extinction because of deforestation and hunting for meat, an international report showed on August 5, 2008. Photo: Reuters

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Woman beaten up by mob in front of police in India

Soraya Tarzi: Queen of Afghanistan

Queen Soraya Tarzi (1899-1968) was one of the most eminent woman of Afghan and Oriental history. She is the only woman to appear on the list of rulers in Afghanistan, although wife of King Amanullah Khan. She is credited to be one of the first and most powerful Muslim/Afghan/Middle Eastern female activists.

Queen Soraya was the first Muslim consort who appeared in public together with her husband — unheard of at the time. She participated with him in the hunting parties, riding on horseback, and in some Cabinet meetings. She was present at Military Parades with the king. During the war of Independence, she visited the tents of wounded soldiers, talked to them, offered them presents and comfort. She accompanied the king even in some rebellious provinces of the country which was a very dangerous thing to do at that time.

King Amanullah Khan publicly campaigned against the veil, against polygamy, and encouraged education of girls not just in Kabul but also in the countryside. At a public function, Amanullah said that "Islam did not require women to cover their bodies or wear any special kind of veil." At the conclusion of the speech, Queen Soraya tore off her "veil" in public and the wives of other officials present at the meeting followed this example.With the help of Queen Soraya, women were encouraged to get an education and in that attempt, 15 young women were sent to Turkey for higher education in 1928. Soraya was very instrumental in enforcing change for women and publicly exhorted them to be active participants in nation building.

In 1929 the King abdicated in order to prevent a civil war and went into exile. Queen Soraya lived in Rome, Italy with her family in exile, having been invited by Italy, which was a monarchy at that time.She died on the 20th of April, 1968 in Rome, Italy.The funeral was escorted by the Italian military team to the Rome airport, before being taken to Afghanistan where a solemn state funeral was held. She is buried in the family mausoleum in Jalalabad, next to her husband the King, who had died eight years earlier.

Mandaean woman in Iraq

(Photo by AFP/Getty Images)
A Mandaean woman is seen as they attend a ritual on the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad on September 21 2008. Baptism is the central sacrament of Mandaean religious life, revering several Old Testament characters especially John the Baptist. Since the invasion of Iraq by the US-led forces the 100,000-strong sect has depleted to 5000, with most fleeing the country. The Mandaeans have practiced their Gnostic religion for generations along the banks of the Tigris after they were driven out of Jordan and settled in southern and central Iraq around AD 67.

A short story of a woman

A Rwandan Tutsi woman Jeanne's story as written for the Women and War Project:
…On 18th May, four heavily armed soldiers knocked at the gate and took me back to my deserted home. They asked me, 'Is this your house? Do you love it? Now choose the best room where we can shoot you from.' I knew my day had come because they looked like hungry lions. Filled with anger, one of them opened the wardrobe and ordered me to enter and be killed.

Another opened a big envelope and found our marriage photo. He saw my husband Dr. Guillaume, and remembered him. 'Where is he?' he asked 'We separated when fleeing,' I answered. He dropped his gun. 'We must have killed many useful people who had been good Samaritans to us,' he regretted.

Then he showed us one of his legs that had been operated on. 'I was involved in a fatal accident and the doctors had decided to have my leg amputated but Dr. Guillaume objected,' said the soldier. 'Dr. Guillaume said, 'We shall amputate him if all efforts prove a failure. He is still young.'

'Now!' said the soldier, 'You are the only Tutsi who still survives in this area. Find where to escape to because you won't survive the next group.' I hadn't wept since the genocide, but this time I did because that's when I saw someone having mercy on me.

Rwanda - Since gaining its independence in 1961, Rwanda's major tribes, the Hutu's and the Tutsi's, have battled for control of the country. These struggles climaxed in April 1994, when the controlling Hutu army, the Intrahame (official death squads) and even some Hutu citizens, began killing Tutsi's and some moderate Hutu's in one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. In six months, nearly one million people died before the Tutsi army regained control of the country in October 1994.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Iranian Jews

Although Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, few know that Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel.While Jewish communities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have all but vanished, Iran is home to 25,000 Jews and most are determined to remain no matter what the pressures - as proud of their Iranian culture as of their Jewish roots. Jews have lived in Persia for nearly 3,000 years - the descendants of slaves from Babylon saved by Cyrus the Great.

"Khomeini, recognised Jews as a religious minority that should be protected. As a result Jews have one representative in the Iranian parliament. Imam Khomeini made a distinction between Jews and Zionists and he supported us," says Jewish community leader Unees Hammami. Just as it radically transformed Muslim society, the Iranian revolution calso changed the Jews. Families that had been secular before, started keeping kosher and strictly observing rules against driving on Shabbat. They stopped going to restaurants, cafes and cinemas - many such establishments were closed down - and the synagogue perforce became the focal point of their social lives.

Jewish women, like Muslim women, are required by law to keep their heads covered, although most eschew the chador for a simple scarf. But Jews, unlike Muslims, can keep small flasks of home-brewed wine or arrack to drink within the privacy of their homes - in theory, for religious purposes. Some Hebrew schools are co-ed, and men and women dance with each other at weddings.
Synagogue in Esfahan (photo by G. Ross)

Mauritania: Fat women are beautiful, Thin women are disgusting !!!

Obesity is so revered among Mauritania's white Moor Arab population that the young girls are sometimes force-fed to obtain a weight the government has described as "life-threatening".Now only around one in 10 girls are treated this way. The treatment has its roots in fat being seen as a sign of wealth - if a girl was thin she was considered poor, and would not be respected.

Mint was 4 when her family began to force her to drink 14 gallons of camel’s milk a day. When she vomited, she was beaten. If she refused to drink, her fingers were bent back until they touched her hand. Her stomach hurt so much she prayed all the animals in the world would die so that there would be no more milk.By the time Mint was 10, she could no longer run. Unconcerned, her proud mother delighted in measuring the loops of fat hanging under her daughter’s arms.“My mother thinks she made me beautiful. But she made me sick,” says Mint, who suffers from weight-related illnesses including diabetes and heart disease.

To end the brutal feeding practices, the government has launched a TV and radio campaign highlighting the health risks of obesity. Because most Mauritanian love songs describe the ideal woman as fat, the health ministry commissioned catchy odes to thin women.These efforts, combined with the rising popularity of foreign soap operas featuring model-thin women, has helped reduce the practice, especially among the country’s urban elite.

Although few women are force-fed today, many feel pressured to be bigger-than-average. Many have turned to a more scientific method of weight gain, using foreign-made appetite-inducing pills.

Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Missionaries

A tribe in Papua New Guinea has apologised for killing and eating four 19th century missionaries under the command of a doughty British clergyman.The four Fijian missionaries were on a proselytising mission on the island of New Britain when they were massacred by Tolai tribesmen in 1878. They were murdered on the orders of a local warrior chief, Taleli, and were then cooked and eaten. The Fijians - a minister and three teachers - were under the leadership of the Reverend George Brown, an adventurous Wesleyan missionary who was born in Durham but spent most of his life spreading the word of God in the South Seas.

Thousands of villagers attended a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul, the capital of East New Britain province, once notorious for the ferocity of its cannibals.Their leaders apologised for their forefather's taste for human flesh to Fiji's high commissioner to Papua New Guinea."We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement," said Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the high commissioner.

Cannibalism was common in many parts of the South Pacific - Fiji was formerly known as the Cannibal Isles - and dozens of missionaries were killed by hostile islanders.

Born at Barnard Castle, Durham, Rev Brown emigrated to New Zealand as a young man and served as a missionary in Samoa before moving with his wife and children to New Guinea.He was familiar with the cannibalistic traditions of the region and once described a visit to a village in which he counted 35 smoke-blackened human jaw bones dangling from the rafters of a hut."A human hand, smoke-dried, was hanging in the same house. And outside I counted 76 notches in a coconut tree, each notch of which, the natives told us, represented a human body which had been cooked and eaten there," he told the Royal Geographical Society.

Even so, he was shocked when told that four of his staff had been cannibalised."They were killed simply because they were foreigners, and the natives who killed them did so for no other reason than their desire to eat them, and to get the little property they had with them," he wrote.He reluctantly agreed to launch a punitive expedition, ordering his men to burn down villages implicated in the murders and destroy wooden canoes.At least 10 tribe members blamed for the attack were killed in an area known as Blanche Bay. Rev Brown claimed the raids made the region safe for Europeans.In a letter to the general secretary of the London Missionary Society he wrote: "The natives respect us more than they did, and as they all acknowledge the justice of our cause they bear us no ill will."

But the reprisals attracted fierce criticism from the press, particularly in Australia.The Australian newspaper said: "If missionary enterprise in such an island as this leads to wars of vengeance, which may readily develop into wars of extermination, the question may be raised whether it may not be better to withdraw the mission from savages who show so little appreciation of its benefits."

However, an official investigation by British colonial authorities a year later exonerated Rev Brown.

Justify Full

Tribes in Papua New Guinea still believe in the powers of witchdoctors and skeleton men but cannibalism is a thing of the past.

Israeli soldiers with Palestinians

“Yes, we can have Peace in the Holy Land"