Tag Archives: sexual violence

Another awful Republican rape statement

13 Sep

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/us/politics/behind-romneys-decision-to-criticize-obama-on-libya.html?ref=politics

As the crisis over the amateur anti-Muslim video spreads across the Middle East, its effects on the presidential campaigns here continue to gain in intensity. Romney’s premature statements criticizing the White House’s response (which had not yet occurred), have been widely mocked and ridiculed.

So in turn, Romney’s backers gathered around him, crowing about the American value of free speech, while happily ignoring the very real convergence of hate speech. As the haters manned the defenses: of Romney, of American values, of America’s never-having-to-say-we’re-sorry, Arizona Republican Jon Kyl had this to say:

“This is like a judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed,’ ” he said. “O.K.? That’s the same thing: ‘Well, America you should be the ones to apologize. You should have known this would happen.’”

America having to apologize to ANYONE is as ridiculous and horrific as a judge telling a woman she deserved to get raped. America is akin to a woman in hot pants walking down a dark alley and getting attacked….it’s like the First Amendment in an up-to-there mini-skirt getting jumped on an un-lit socialist cobblestone path.  Well, I hope that America as rape victim does not get pregnant, because America as Republicans will sure not pony up for an abortion.

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Rape is rape

22 Aug

There are connections currently being made between the recent Akin comments on “legitimate rape” and last year’s anti-abortion legislation–co-sponsored by Paul Ryan and Akin–that made emergency allocations soley for “forcible rape.”

What exactly is “forcible rape”? Is it like fatal homicide? Is it like a robbery theft?

Is the definition of rape not “any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person”? Rape is the malevolent use of force against another, for sexual ends. Because it is forced, it is rape.

What is a non-forcible rape? Perhaps Akin and Ryan intended to make sure that all those pregnancy cases via statuatory rape flooding the still-standing abortion providors would be turned away…or, Akin and Ryan were attempting to align their position with that of the federal government, which recently expanded the dated, narrow definition of “forcible rape” in order to more fully respond to victims and their needs?

Nah.

Akin and Ryan were undoubtedly using the definition in another attempt to narrow, and eventually destroy, reproductive rights all together. State by state personhood bills aren’t enough after all: start by declaring a zygote a person, proceed by limiting the definition of rape bit by bit until the qualifiers themselves are so overwhelming as to altogether prevent any victim from coming forward, seeking assistance, or doing anything other than welcoming an unwanted potential pregnancy.

Ryan has attempted to backpedal his support of the redefinition, declaring “rape is rape.” Has he recently volunteered for a rape crisis center? taken a women’s studies class? From where did this newer version come?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/244715-ryan-dodges-question-on-forcible-rape-language-in-house-bill

In a country where less than 10% of rapists go to prison and a victims’ suffering carries the potential to continue life-long, combined with the already massive amount of bureaucratic, psychological, medical, and legal disincentives to come forward in the hopes of prosecuting the perpetrator, how do these Ryan-sponsored measures and platforms help the actual victims of sexual violence?

They don’t, working instead towards the opposite ends. Until:

Of course, sexual violence will continue, but the ability to prove and prosecute would become so difficult, that overcoming these odds will no longer feel worth their enormous trouble. Is this the desired effect here? Attempting to redefine rape with terms like “forcible rape” gradually dilutes the term’s weightiness, rendering it affectless, or relative. If the re-definition is not used, does that mean the victim was not truly raped? Not raped by force? Should the victim proceed to mull the traumatic events over ever more in the hopes of discovering the perfect definitive qualifier?

Why would such a qualifier be necessary? Has there been such a procipitous decline in violent rape that when a person comes forward claiming to have been raped it is just as likely that it did not occur via force? Have the estimated 2% of fabricated rape claims caused so much damage to the legal system that the linguistic team of Akin and Ryan felt compelled to respond?
Of course not, such assertions are ludicrous. But that is what Akin and Ryan and their terminology have done–rendered the real act of sexual violence questionable, interpretable, trivial, in need of clarification.

Such a gesture is itself a deep and dangerous figurative violence to international struggles to prevent rape. Having to tread water and nitpick with Republican anti-choicers about how forced any victim was literally stops forward motion to change violent cultures and effect positive, peaceful progress.

Akin after the weekend

22 Aug

As mainstream Republicans have scrambled to distance themselves from the growing controversy, Missouri Republican Akin has himself refused the calls to quit the Senate race, or to disappear into the background. Akin has mildly disclaimed his previous statements concerning “legitimate rape,” but insists that his anti-abortion agenda is synonymous with that of the Republican party’s.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5glBmitf1lUorR_op1yYbSljxnU0g?docId=CNG.a3d8f6f6aa4c9643bffb399a9520db3d.441

And he’s right. The party is currently pressing for a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion in all cases, even for rape and incest. (The latter being the kind of catch-all clause, insinuating an admittance that it’s not just flighty career gals getting abortions on the fly). But the victims of the clause are no longer safe either. Akin and Romney’s vice-president Ryan supported a bill just last year pressing for a similar ban, making a vote for Romney akin to a vote for Akin. And now, the Republican party itself has voted to again make the amendment endemic to their platform (as they have done in 2000, 2004, 2008).

Despite Romney’s initial claims to be running for president to fix the economy, that jobs are Americans’ first priority, and that he wants to make our country productive again, the overriding theme in the election has become the fight to end abortion at any cost, and in all cases.

What’s this got to do with jobs? How does the Tea Party reconcile its anti-government stance with support for measures that fully assert the government’s right to interfere with half of its citizens? An interference that plays out physically, psychologically, financially, and permanently? How does less government translate into more government control of the female body? How does opposition to female reproductive healthcare butt up against anti-abortion policies? Because if the church/college/state government/shopping mall that you work at doesn’t provide any kind of female reproductive healthcare, this means not only that you are refused reimbursement for the birth control pill, but also refused any kind of neo-natal care.

Concern for the fetus only goes as far as an amendment and a billboard.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/opinion/dowd-just-think-no.html?ref=opinion

The 2 words that never belong together

20 Aug

In a televised interview this weekend, Missouri Republican Todd Akin defined his opposition to abortion in the strictest of terms, and including in cases of rape. Akin further hedged his bets with the following claim: 

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”  

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/20/us/politics/todd-akin-provokes-ire-with-legitimate-rape-comment.html

“legitimate” and “rape”: by stringing the words together Akin would seem to imply that rape isn’t always illegitimate; he further undermines the catastrophe of rape with the use of the word “legitimate” itself. Rape is devasting, violent, horrific, tortuous, and any other synonym available. It is not legitimate or illegitimate. “legitimate” is defined as lawful, valid, just. When considered thusly, the word itself should never be strung with “rape,” for a rape is never valid or just; whether or not it is lawful, is a confused term: does this mean if it is persecuted? or if a judge deems it actual? Where does the woman herself figure into this?

Further, by asserting that if it is “legitimate”/actual rape, the victim’s body will engage in a kind of “natural abortion” implies disastrous notions about the act of rape itself, and complete ignorance as to how the female sexed body actually functions. So, if the body of the victim doesn’t naturally abort the pregnancy, that then implies that an actual rape didn’t occur. Such confused magical thinking can be likened to the witchcraft trials that occurred centuries ago: if a woman accused of witchcraft drowns, she’s innocent.

And another further, Akin’s claims that the rapist should be punished, not the child, demonstrates the same muddled conception of biology and reproduction that I critiqued in last week’s post on Paul Ryan’s anti-abortion position. There is no child. There is a woman’s body with fertilized eggs at conception. Akin, like Ryan, does not even mention the woman in the equation here, the potential mother, without whom a fetus could not develop.

The Romney camp initially issued a tepid response, distancing itself from Akin. With the growing outcry however, Romney publicly stated his disagreement with Akin’s views. He should probably look over to Ryan and wonder wherein lies the disagreement…

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/us/politics/republicans-decry-todd-akins-rape-remarks.html?_r=1&hp

The Muslim Brotherhood and the female anatomy

19 Jun

Despite the fact that former authoritarian ruler Mubarak banned the archaic and brutal custom of female genital mutilation throughout Egpyt, there are recent reports that the Muslim Brotherhood has organized a mobile “medical” van that has been travelling through southern areas of Egpyt, with female genital mutilation as one of its principle “surgical” procedures.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been a subject of intense controversy and condemnation for decades now. At first, defenders of the practice referred to its “cultural” importance, decrying those western imperialists who sought to preach to others. Now, it’s being justified as a religious practice, which in turn renders those who attempt to curb its practice as Islamophobes.

But religion’s got nothing to do with it. And, even if it was a cultural practice, a tradition–who cares?! Traditions and cultures change and evolve as do their peoples. The slicing off of 1/4 to 1/3 of a female’s genitals do nothing other than lead to constant, chronic pain for the rest of a girl’s life. Intense pain during urination, sexual intercourse and childbirth; an increased susceptibility to disease and infection; an inability to feel anything other than throbbing, searing agony during sex: these are the after-effects of slicing off the external front area of the clitoris and lips of the vagina.

The tools: a few razor blades.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s commitment to the practice might mean that those knives are a little cleaner, but it must be demanded as to why they are propagating such brutal, hateful, torturuous practices? Why have The Faith and Justice Party members of parliament (including a female politician) denounced the existing law which criminalizes fgm, and stated their support for its continued practice?

The Muslim Brotherhood runs an extensive community outreach program, providing health, education and other social services. This benevolent arm of the party undoubtedly also serves as terrific propaganda for it, enabling its politicians to claim greater understanding of Egytian citizens’ needs and desires. So, if female genital mutilation is being done via the Muslim Brotherhood’s medical vans, this means that fgm is considered part of the party’s community outreach. Slicing off parts of a young girl’s body is part of the community outreach in which it is engaging.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/mutilating-bodies-muslim-brotherhood%E2%80%99s-gift-to-egyptian-women

Further, by providing the service via a “medical” van, the Muslim Brotherhood strives to give fgm legitimacy, supposedly rendering the procedure safe and presumptive. By advertising its services as “surgical circumcision for males and females,” it equates the two, and further attempts to justify fgm by referring to it as “surgery.”

See? It’s done to men too. Except male circumcision doesn’t lead to chronic pain, generally does not welcome numerous infections, and definitely doesn’t prevent sexual pleasure. Female genital mutilation is exactly what it describes: mutilation. A girl’s female parts are scarred for life; she is forced to bear the pain of her sex until the day she dies.

5 most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman

15 Jun

1. Afghanistan

2. The Congo

3. Pakistan

4. India

5. Somalia

Thomson Reuters has just published the results of its survey on the physical, emotional, legal, political and cultural safety of women throughout the world. The survey can be found in its entirety through TrustLaw, its non-profit international organization founded to assist in the proliferation of women’s rights everywhere:                                      

http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/womens-rights/dangerpoll/

India’s placement at 4th most dangerous country to be a woman is quite shocking considering its billing as the largest democracy on earth, and more importantly, that it remains the only country of the 5 who has been relatively free of violent conflict with both other countries and its own citizens. Its placement here emphasizes that war, starvation, religious turmoil, and a history of inherent violence are not the only precursors for placement on such an ominous list. Extreme poverty must be added to this cycle, and it is due to the ongoing catastrophe of poverty throughout India that the country appears within such an inglorious grouping.

The trading of young girls into marriage, the still-present custom of sati- the burning of a widow on a pyre, rampant female illiteracy, the prevalence of sexual slavery and prostitution in its major cities, the very common and culturally accepted use of ultrasound technology in the serviec of sex selection (i. e. the detected female fetus is often aborted), all of these components coagulate into a kind of unmoveable force against female progress, even in a country struggling to maintain and improve its democratic structures.  And then, even something as simple and overlooked as peeing becomes an overwhelming issue in such a poor and populous place:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/15/world/asia/in-mumbai-a-campaign-against-restroom-injustice.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

It is estimated that in some slums there is one public restroom for 300 people; male restrooms and urinals outnumber female restrooms by anywhere from 35%-90%. The budding Indian “Right to Pee” movement is attempting to revolutionize the public restroom structure, but in the meantime the average urban Indian woman withholds the amount of water she drinks, goes in packs at dawn to defecate, and holds it in as long as she can.

Living in the Western world, it is easy to forget how the simplest parts of daily life have the possibility to become so much more arduous when the structuring element of poverty enters. Not being able to have regular bowel movements, having nowhere safe to pee at any given time, risking one’s health merely by having to crouch over a hole somewhere: these remain daily hurdles for the average Indian female in the 21st century. In addition to everything else…

The fatal sin of a singing woman

6 Jun

When the United States first attacked Afghanistan, it claimed that one of its dominant reasons for entering the country was to assist in efforts to liberate Afghani women suffering under massive Talibani prohibitions, oppression and violence. Throughout the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan it has relied on its friend and ally, Pakistan.

But how different is the official and unofficial treatment of women in Pakistan from the obstacles, subservience, religious and tribal laws, sexual violence and prohibitions faced by women in Afghanistan?

http://www.watoday.com.au/world/sentenced-to-death-for-singing-and-dancing-at-wedding-20120529-1zfu3.html                                                                               Last  month 5 women and 2 men were sentenced to death (via throat slit) by a Muslim cleric in rural Pakistan. The offense: potentially singing and dancing together at a wedding. I write “potentially,” because the wedding occurred 3 years ago, and the video has only recently appeared, rendering its provenence suspicious. http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/05/pakistan-muslim-clerics-sentence-4-women-and-2-men-to-death-for-singing-and-dancing-at-wedding.html

A cursory internet search finds short stories concerning the death sentence, but highly conflicting reports as to whether the women have been killed or not (the men reportedly escaped). The cleric has since been brought into police custody, his authority being officially questioned.

This is not a rare occurence: the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan asserts that at least 943 women and girls were killed last year as a result of “dishonoring” their family.

Lawyer Asma Jahangir, founder of the Human Rights Commission, the first woman to lead the Supreme Court Bar Association, and a fierce fighter against corruption and human rights violations for thirty years now, has become increasingly endangered by tacitly sanctioned government-run military and intelligence groups seeking to assassinate her:                                                             http://www.euronews.com/newswires/1542356-rights-groups-rally-around-pakistan-lawyer-under-threat/

The Human Rights Watch report on Pakistan cites an increasing amount of terror, violence and intimidation against its women: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-pakistan 

Honor killings, child marriage, acid attacks, lack of access to education, sexual assault by tribal edict: all remain constant and worrying factors for the female Pakistani population. According to the United Nation’s WomenWatch, in 2012 the Pakistani government approved the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill and the Acid Control and Acid Prevention Act, but without proper infrastructure, funding, cultural education and general acceptance how can measures such as these stand against tribal courts and women-hating edicts? And, given the United States’ increasing number of unapproved drone and military attacks, it is unlikely that the Pakistani government would listen to U. S. advice on the treatment of its female population. But then again, I haven’t heard any U. S. government or military official comment on such matters anyway.

P.S. As of the 7th, 2 of the women have been located by human rights activists. And while the 2 men have reappeared in court stating some of the women were killed, the 2 located women claim all are alive.