Stories from Quick Reads and Women & Gender
Former French Defense Minister Finds Excuses for the Alleged Rape of Central African Children by French Soldiers
Afrique Info reports that JP Chevènement, a former defense minister of France, stated on public radio Europe 1 on May 3 that the challenging conditions that French soldiers face in the Central African Republic could explain “behavior of that kind” (see video above). Chevènement was referring to the allegation of child sexual abuse by French troops posted in the Central African Republic. The allegations surfaced after disciplinary proceedings were taken against a United Nations employee accused of leaking the allegations to the French authorities.
This text is part of the 49th edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on April 13, 2015.
Underage pregnancy has been rising in Ecuador for the past several years, while abortion even in cases of rape or incest remains criminalized. According to the State Prosecutor, 98 percent of rapes in Ecuador last year occurred within family circles, and 271 took place on the campuses of schools and colleges.
Writing on the blog Plató Mundo, Valeria Coronel and Antonio Jurado took a look at a recent controversial statement by a government official:
El comentario realizado por Alexis Mera (Asesor Jurídico del Estado), en diario El Comercio: “El Estado debe enseñar a las mujeres que es preferible que retrasen su vida sexual y retrasen la concepción para que puedan terminar una carrera” […] denota una falta de conocimiento ante las estadísticas reales de esta problemática y sus causas. Su opinión es grave y alarmante porque solo se refiere a la mujer, […] esto es un reflejo claro de la sociedad machista en la que vivimos.
Nuestra cultura simboliza una falta de educación grave, que sigue atentando directamente a la imagen de la mujer dentro de la sociedad. Éste es el verdadero problema que se debería combatir.
The remark made by Alexis Mera (Legal Counsel for the State), in the newspaper El Comercio: “The state must teach woman that is preferable to delay their sexual life and postpone conception so they can finish their degree” […] denotes a lack of knowledge about the real statistics of the problem and its origin. His opinion is serious and alarming because he only refers to the woman, […] this is an obvious reflection of the sexist society in which we live.
Our culture symbolizes the serious lack of education, which continues directly attacking women image in society. This is the real issue that must be confronted.
In March 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) urged Ecuador to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape and incest.
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WACC, SocialTIC, WITNESS, La Sandía Digital, and Subversiones have called on women interested in telling the stories of strong women in their communities with the purpose of changing the way women are represented in the media.
As one of the representatives of the project told Global Voices, in Mexican media there is not only a lack of production and distribution of content produced by women, but lack of nuanced content, which only serves to replicate dominant stereotypes that do not reflect or promote diversity.
What does the project consist of?
The project consists of an audiovisual laboratory caravan where women will learn about photography, video, and text creation. The laboratory caravan will last six months, holding four three-day sessions in different Mexican communities during May, June, July, and August.
What are the participation requirements?
Women must be 18 and over, residing in central Mexico, involved in community projects, capable of dedicating 8 hours a week from May to September, available for travel during the scheduled dates, commited to sharing with the commuity what has been learned, and have access to a portable computer. Twenty applicants will be chosen.
The registration period for this project expired on March 27, 2015. Organizers are selecting the eligible entries from the ones received from all over Mexico and will soon publish the results. If any questions or inquiries please direct it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's well known that every aspiring beauty queen must answer a difficult question in the interview portion of the contest. Also well known are some of the answers that contestants have given, answers that earned them more publicity than their good looks ever did.
The most recent of those answers was given by Mexican Mariana Morres during the semifinal of the Miss Our Latin Beauty 2015, which has circulated online. The question: “Which partner would you choose to preserve the human species in case of a nuclear holocaust?” Torres answered: “A couple of chimpanzees… You know, due to the theory we come from there, so…”
As expected, Twitter users didn't waste any time in commenting:
— Wonderwall Latino (@WWLatino) abril 10, 2015
Mariana Torres, finalist in Miss Our Latin Beauty really stepped in it while answering a question.
Wonderful! Number 1 fan of beauty queen wisdom. Hahaha.
Mariana Torres makes a fool of herself and loses the final at Miss Our Latin Beauty.
Although some were sympathetic:
Ni se burlen de Nuestra Belleza Mariana Torres y su chimpancé, en un futuro puede llegar a ser pareja de algún político.
— Compa Fer (@fergarvaz) abril 10, 2015
Don't make fun of Miss Our Beauty Mariana Torres and her chimpanzee, in the future she could become the partner of some politician.
26 year old British-Iranian Goncheh Ghavami was arrested in Iran on June 2014 for protesting for equal access for women during sporting events. She was arrested after she attempted to attend a men-only volleyball match at Azadi Indoor Stadium in Tehran. International petitions have been ongoing for her release, until her release on March 31, 2015. Her brother Iman Ghavami posted on petition.org, where many had signed for her release of the news:
Mar 31, 2015 — I have big news for you.
Today I can tell you that Ghoncheh is free! As we were celebrating Iranian New year, Iranian Government wiped out the rest of my sister's sentence. Ghoncheh will not have to spend another day, another hour in prison.
This is amazing news and I wanted you to hear from me directly. You stood by us during those difficult months. You gave my family courage and hope. The uncertainty of autumn and the dark clouds of winter have gone. And the sun once again is shining for my family. Spring is here.
My mum has finally become her old happy self and has found peace again. My mum and I will not forget your generous support and thank you sincerely. Together we brought Ghoncheh home. Ghoncheh also asked me to thank you all for your support.
This has been the best spring for my family. Hopefully this spring brings happiness and peace to all Iranians and all of you.
The NGO Miles (Thousands) and the advertising agency Grey Chile are taking a provocative approach to showing the problem that thousands of women face in Chile with respect to abortion, using three fictitious tutorial videos that show the only legal way to have an abortion in the country.
The “advice” ranges from throwing yourself down the stairs to getting run over by a car.
Abortion is prohibited in Chile, which means that thousands of women have to resort to illegal means in order to abort. It is estimated that there are around 150,000 cases each year, some of which result in the death of the patient.
This campaign seeks to draw attention to this fact and persuade the Chilean government to approve the therapeutic abortion law that was rejected last February.
Warning before you click play: these videos contain graphic images.
Desireé Lozano, blogging for Voces Visibles, urges attention be paid to the extremely high rate of teenage pregnancies in Venezuela, where 25% of the pregnancies are among young people, and the lack of an appropriate public policy to counter this phenomenon and its repercussions. Venezuelan statistics are the highest in South America and remains in first place from two years ago.
Maternal mortality is an issue directly related to teen pregnancy. Desiree cited Venezuelan deputy Dinorah Figuera, president of the Family Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly, who said the state's responsibility is to provide prevention:
“Una de esas consecuencias es que las madres adolescentes son mujeres que pierden oportunidades para desarrollarse desde el punto de vista profesional y aceptan cualquier tipo de trabajo para tener algún tipo de ingresos. Por esta razón el Estado debe aplicar una gigantesca campaña de concientización para la prevención del embarazo adolescente”, señala la diputada venezolana
“One consequence of teen mothers is woman lose development opportunities from a professional viewpoint, take any job in order to make some income. For this reason, the state should mount a massive campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy,” the Venezuelan deputy says.
Additionally, teenage pregnancy contributes to an already established trend, the feminization of poverty. Furthermore, the phenomenon embodies a risk for the mother’s health, running a greater danger than the average. In her article, the writer collects interesting expert statements on the subject providing an overview of the problem.
Marita Seara, blogging for Voces Visibles, warns about the growing criminalization of abortion in Ecuador, one of the most difficult countries in Latin America for women to obtain an abortion, second only to Venezuela.
Hay dos únicos casos en los cuales es permitido el aborto: cuando corre peligro la vida de la mujer y cuando se trata de una “violación a una discapacitada mental”. A mi parecer, inaudito. Leo en el medio ecuatoriano, Plan V, y no salgo de mi asombro, el proceso en el cual se trata de despenalizar el aborto en dicho país, un país donde, según se señala en dicho medio, 380 mil mujeres aproximadamente han sido víctimas de violación, un país donde una de cada cuatro mujeres han sido víctimas de algún tipo de agresión sexual, un país en el cual ha aumentado un 74,8% los embarazos de niñas entre 10 y 14 años, muchos de los cuales parecen estar ligados a violación sexual; un país donde más de 3.600 niñas menores de 15 años son madres producto de una violación.
There are only two cases where abortion is allowed: when mother's life is in danger and when it's a “rape committed against a learning disabled woman”. To me, it's outrageous. I read on the Ecuadorian new website Plan V and I'm astonished [about] these attempts to criminalize abortion in that country—a country where, as Plan V points out, about 380,000 women have been raped, where one out of four women has been the victim of some kind of sexual assault, and a country where pregnancy in 10- to 14-year-old girls has increased by 74.8 percent—many of them apparently related to sexual assaults. This is a country where more than 3,600 girls younger than 15 are mothers as result of a rape.
Criminalizing abortion would have profound repercussions for doctor-patient confidentiality, not to mention aggravate the country's already staggering social inequalities.
The criminalization concept could be spreading, too. More than a dozen women now languish in El Salvadorian prisons, convicted of “aggravated homicide” after miscarrying. Some of these would-be mothers are serving out 30-year prison sentences.
Saudi historian Dr Saleh Al-Saadoon says women in the West drive because they “don't care if they get raped on the roadside.” He made the remarks in an interview with Rotana Khalijia, a Saudi-owned television channel aimed at Gulf countries, in his defense of a Saudi prohibition that bans women from driving. The video, which created an outcry online, was shared far and wide on YouTube.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving cars. There have been many efforts to break the ban, most recently on October 26, 2013, when dozens of women shared videos driving cars in the day they plan on defying the ban.
The Saudi “historian” notes that:
Unlike riding a camel, driving a car places a woman in danger of being raped, which for Saudi women is a much worse experience than for any women in the western world where women “don't care” if they are raped.
To make his interview worse, he suggested a solution to import “foreign female drivers” to drive Saudi women to prevent a potential rape by contracted male drivers.
Blogger Royayah Chamseddin, a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator, shares a list of books on Islam, feminism and racialization in this blog post on her blog Letters from The Underground.
The list, which will continue to be expanded, includes links to some books which are available for free download in PDF format.