Women confronting violence and impunity in Guatemala

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission is hosting Sandra Moran for this year’s Spring Speaker’s Tour. Here’s the schedule – please share it with you networks.

For Women’s Right to Live

Saturday March 26 : Washington, DC: Ecumenical Advocacy Days

10:30am: Latin America track Plenary Session

4:30pm: Workshop on Women Confronting Violence and Impunity in Guatemala

Sunday March 27 : Bethesda, MD and Arlington, VA

10:20am: Unitarian Universalist River Road

7:30-9:00 pm: Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington

Monday March 28 : Washington, DC

12:00-1:00 Society for International Development, Washington Chapter

2:30pm: George Washington University

7:00 pm: American University

 

Tuesday March 29 : Richmond, VA

2:00-4:00pm : Virginia Commonwealth University

 

Wednesday March 30 : Charlottesville and Winchester, VA

3:00pm: University of Virginia

7:00 pm: Shenandoah University

 

Thursday March 31: Philadelphia, PA; Ewing, NJ

12:30: Temple University

6:00pm: College of New Jersey

 

Monday April 4: Philadelphia and West Chester, PA

12:00 pm: Drexel University

7:30 pm: West Chester University

 

Tuesday April 5: New York City, NY

Events closed to the public.

 

Wednesday April 6: New York City, NY

1:30pm: UN Human Rights Offices

6:00pm: Columbia University (Rm 1102 of the International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th St.)

 

Thursday April 7: Ithaca, NY

7:00pm: Ithaca College

Tied up, raped, videotaped…and peed on

Okay, this is one of those articles that – if you’re like me – will get your blood boiling. You’ll wonder: Why do women have to suffer like this? When will the world recognize the horrific, often tortuous, treatment of women? When will it come into its consciousness?

Woman says raped by Gaddafi’s men, pleads with media

“Look at what Gaddafi’s militias did to me,” Eman al-Obaidi screamed with tears in her eyes, pulling up her coat to show blood on her upper leg.

After being intimidated by security men and hotel staff, who also beat journalists trying to interview her in the restaurant of the hotel, she was bundled into a car and driven away.

Obaidi said she had been arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli because she was from the city of Benghazi, bastion of the insurgency against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.

Obaidi, who appeared to be in her 30s and was wearing a loose black coat, slippers and a scarf, said she had been raped by 15 men and held for two days. Her face was badly bruised.

“They swore at me and they filmed me. I was alone. There was whisky. I was tied up,” she said, weeping and stretching out her arms to show the scars.

“They peed on me. They violated my honor.”

Libyan claims rape by soldiers, is dragged away

Guy gamers: privileged and misogynist?

Oh, these games really tick me off and make me feel disappointed in the male gamer population. When I read about this stuff, I wonder: What would they do if it was reversed? Can you imagine the outrage if feminists made a video game where you kicked guys in the balls?

Highly anticipated video game sequel glorifies violence towards women

In the game, Duke — a burly, blond action star-type known for his macho attitude, objectification of women, crude wisecracks and buckets of ultra-violence — faces down an onslaught of alien invaders bent on kidnapping and impregnating every female on the planet.

Even with a story that’s so purely camp, like something ripped out of a bad 1950s movie, anticipation over Duke’s return has reached a fever pitch among longtime gamers. But how will those same gamers feel about glorifying domestic violence?

According to a recent report by The Official Xbox Magazine (OXM), there’s at least one clear point of controversy: In the online “Capture the Babes” mode, if a “babe” can’t take the stress and “freaks out” while Duke saves her from alien rapists, he’ll have to “slap” some sense into her.

Some of the commenters are excusing the misogyny as just “controversy” or some harmful “butt slapping.” While most people see a red flag when misogyny raises its ugly head, these guys just see a women in need of a good f*ck or slap:

Duke Nukem Forever multiplayer replaces replaces flag with capturable, slappable women

Here’s another take on gamers:

Bioware tells straight men to “get over” being hit on by gay men in Dragon Age by Michael Jensen

…one gamer started a forum thread on the Bioware site complaining about having to put up with men hitting on him. Gee, now he knows how pretty much every woman in the world has felt at some point having to put up with unwanted advances from straight men. Poor baby.

Thanks for sticking up for us, Michael Jensen!!

And Bioware staffer responds to the situation:

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

And ends on this note:

And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.

A guy who gets it – a true ally in the human race. Thanks!

And here’s another one – using women to stir up controversy. It intrigues me that companies can use women’s bodies to get sales – but women can’t use their own bodies to get money (then they’re called sluts, whores, hos and/or face disease, abuse and homicide and/or are “asking for it”). And  then the other irony – they can make men money (the use of scantily-clad women in ads to increase sales or as paying consumers of products, services, or medical care) -but when they marry these same men (CEOs or doctors, for example), they can be called gold diggers –nevermind it could have been women who made the man rich.

Racy Serena Williams commercial won’t appear on TV   (this is a commercial for a video game)

New York Times: The Disposable Woman

The Disposable Woman by Anna Holmes

Kudos to the New York Times for getting a conversation started about our apathy towards misogyny.

Here’s the evidence of Sheen’s violence against women:

Our inertia is not for lack of evidence. In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)

In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.

Lies? Why is it the public hates a woman that “slanders” a man’s “reputation” yet allows men to do it – and get away with it, with ease? Holmes, the writer, notes how Sheen is idealized, while the women in his life, who’ve suffered from his abuse, are slandered

This hasn’t been the case with Mr. Sheen, whose behavior has been repeatedly and affectionately dismissed as the antics of a “bad boy” (see: any news article in the past 20 years), a “rock star” (see: Piers Morgan, again) and a “rebel” (see: Andrea Canning’s “20/20” interview on Tuesday). He has in essence, achieved a sort of folk-hero status; on Wednesday, his just-created Twitter account hit a million followers, setting a Guinness World Record.

But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)

Others, namely Ms. Richards and Ms. Mueller, are less-famous starlets or former “nobodies” whose relationships with Mr. Sheen have been disparaged as purely sexual and transactional. The women reside on a continuum in which injuries are assumed and insults are expected.

Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday.

I couldn’t even fathom hearing similar epithets from a group of women discussing men – first, it wouldn’t get aired; second, if they did it would be rightfully called a man-hating bitch session, to put it mildly. But slam women, most of whom have been victims of Sheen’s own misogyny, and get worshipped. What does that tell you about the climate we live in?

Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.

Sheen treats women the way he wants – getting his own way and attacking – verbally and physically – those that dare go against his wishes. His backtalk against his bosses is what brought him such media attention, while his treatment of women has gone virtually unnoticed. Even colleges are asking for him to be their commencement speaker. This would never be acceptable if he treated another group like this – it’s time we treat misogyny with the same contempt as anti-semitism and racism.

Charlie Sheen: Hollywood’s highest paid misogynist

The other day, on a talk show, I heard a host say Charlie Sheen was displaying arrogance, selfishness and anti-Semitism. And, I thought, how about misogyny?

It’s on blatant display both in his personal and work life. I stopped watching Two and a half men when they started having so many scantily-clad women on the show – I had been putting up with the horribly negative stereotypes of women (and often enough, men), but the stupid but perty women did me in.

And then today – finally, New York Times writer David Carr – and hallelujah it’s a male!! – wakes the public up to the misogyny in Sheen’s personal life:

Insulting Chuck Lorre, Not Abuse, Gets Sheen Sidelined

In 2006, his wife at the time, Denise Richards, filed a restraining order, charging that Mr. Sheen had pushed her down, thrown chairs at her and threatened to kill her in person and on the phone. The couple eventually divorced.

Mr. Sheen then had a series of very public relationships with sex film stars, which is certainly his prerogative — talent is as talent does — but he also continued to exhibit a pattern of violence toward women.

Mr. Sheen was charged with a felony for an incident on Christmas Day in 2009 in which he threatened to kill his wife, Brooke Mueller, while holding a knife to her throat. According to the police report, Mr. Sheen “started to strangle Mueller then he pulled out a knife he always carries on his person and held the knife to Mueller’s neck and threatened, ‘You better be in fear. If you tell anybody I’ll kill you.’ ”

Last fall, Mr. Sheen went on a rampage in the Plaza Hotel in New York. A hired escort who had locked herself in the bathroom claimed he had put his hands around her neck and threatened her while his former wife Ms. Richards and his children slept down the hall.

Yet none of these incidents got Mr. Sheen fired from his lucrative day job as a sitcom star, not even suspended. What did? He insulted his boss.

 Mr. Carr, we are familiar with this scenario. Violence against women teeters on one of the lowest rungs on the ladder of priority, especially when it comes to men who are celebrities, politicians, athletes, or anyone whose career is more important than assaulting women (and that includes almost all men). Even harming animals (remember Michael Vick?) gets more outrage than harming women. So, insulting a boss? Yeah, far more important than harming women.

Carr mentions some men who’ve lost their jobs due to committing violence against women; but in my experience, many men (even police officers with guns) get to keep their jobs and hit their women, too. (I’ll try to put some resources up on a post later.) After this, Carr says:

Is Mr. Sheen excused because he manufactures laughs, not widgets, for a living? For years on the show, Mr. Sheen has been playing to type as a naughty boy in a man’s body: the result was often scabrous and funny and a hit in the ratings. It also fits another depressing pattern. From “Animal House” to Howard Stern, from “Pretty Woman” to “The Hangover,” Hollywood has long had a soft spot for male misbehavior and, in claiming to parody childish misogyny, it seems to provide an excuse to indulge in it further.

Media and honor crimes

Haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but it looks interesting:

Religion, Culture and the Politicalization of Honour-Related Violence

The authors suggest that policy responses will be effective only insofar as gendered violence is understood within its social, cultural and political context and if that context is not seen as foreign but rather as part of the new social relations in the immigrant-receiving society. Hence, they argue that honour-related violence needs to be understood not as a “cultural” or “religious” problem that afflicts particular immigrant communities (in this case, often those perceived and represented as Muslim) but as a specific manifestation of the larger problem of violence against women (which concerns all communities, whether immigrant or not) that in the case of immigrant communities is shaped and informed by the immigration experience. Only a contextually specific approach allows for this understanding.

Violence against women: Progress or Propaganda?

I haven’t had time to read this yet, but it looks interesting:

Protection and Justice for Women, Progress or Propaganda?

Media headlines, as well as law enforcement rhetoric, frequently tout claims of the great strides being made in reducing and responding to rape, domestic violence, and other violence against women. But recent research and analysis of governments’ own figures suggest that, in reality, there has been little to no significant progress at all—not in the U.S., nor in other developed countries. And in developing countries the violence against women only seems to be getting worse.

Women human right defenders experience prejudice, exclusion and violence

There’s been a lot of talk lately about women in journalism facing risks their male colleagues don’t. (Even us female bloggers face more threats and intimidating comments than our male counterparts.) And, similar to female journalists, women human rights defenders face risks and attacks that are specific to their gender. I went to Guatemala on a human rights delegation and witnessed this first hand. Most of the women working in domestic violence (for instance Norma Cruz, recipient of the Women of Courage award), violence against women, and women’s issues/rights had received death threats or were attacked (either their person or their office was attacked). Here’s a recent report announced on AWID that provides more details:

AWID

The report affirms that “women defenders are more at risk of suffering certain forms of violence and other violations, prejudice, exclusion, and repudiation than their male counterparts. This is often due to the fact that women defenders are perceived as challenging accepted socio-cultural norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, sexual orientation, and the role and status of women in society.”

Report’s Findings

The risks and violations reported in the period 2004-2009 include (a) threats, death threats and killings; (b) arrest, detention, and criminalization; (c) stigmatization; and (d) sexual violence and rape. Some of the striking findings include:

  • “An alarming number of women human rights defenders and their relatives have paid the highest price for their work.” There were 39 communications to the Rapporteur regarding killings and 35 communications regarding attempted killings.
  • Defenders in the Americas are most likely to face threats, death threats, killings and attempted killings; more than half the communications relating to death threats concerned defenders working in the Americas, highlighting Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, and Peru. “Among the groups which appear to be most at risk are women defenders working to fight impunity for alleged human rights violations”. Special mention was made of risks to women trade unionists, women indigenous rights activists, and women environmental and land rights activists.
  • Violations against defenders working on LGBT issues were also noted.These ranged from judicial issues (arrests, judicial harassment, administrative detentions, etc.) to restrictions in freedoms of assembly, but also killings,rape and sexual violence, physical attacks, and stigmatization. Concern for LGBT defenders were specifically highlighted in Africa (Sudan and Uganda).

The report “reveals a worrying trend of criminalization of the activities carried out by women human rights defenders and those working on women’s rights or gender issues throughout the world.” This includes arrests and criminalization of the defenders’ work, as well as criminal investigations and irregularities relating to due process and fair trial procedures. “By contrast to Central and South America where threats and death threats are most commonly reported, arrests and criminalization were most commonly reported in Asia and the Pacific.” China and the Islamic Republic of Iran are mentioned in relation to concern for arrests and prison sentences. Europe and Central Asia are also mentioned regarding arrests, detentions and criminalization.

Colin DeVries: “Good tenant” who beat wife “shockingly” killed her and a police officer

Another “nice guy” article that describes the killer as a “good tenant”:

Poughkeepsie shooter, victim described by Catskills neighbors as ‘good tenants’ By Colin DeVries

The killer is described as somebody who: didn’t bother nobody, didn’t cause any trouble and was: a go-getter, always working, always doing something.

And the victim was described as: Well, she was lumped in with the killer as a good tenant who didn’t bother nobody.

Then this good tenant who didn’t bother nobody:

“Lee was always beating on his wife,” Komaromi said. “She came to my house a couple of times.”

In late January, Mr. Welch was charged with third-degree assault against his wife and, Komaromi said, there was an order of protection.

Mr. Welch violated the order and was charged Jan. 31 with felony criminal contempt and remanded to the Greene County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

And this good tenant who didn’t cause any trouble:

Mr. Welch, 27, fatally shot his wife and a police officer who attempted to restrain him as he fled toward the Poughkeepsie train station midday Friday.

City of Poughkeepsie police officer John Falcone, an 18-year veteran of the police force, was killed moments after wresting a 3-year-old girl from the arms of Welch.

Just shocking that someone who beat his wife and violated a restraining order would kill her and a police officer, isn’t it? We’ve never heard anything like it before! (sigh) Why can’t these reporters talk to a domestic violence expert? Why do they refuse to see a husband that kills his wife as anything but “good”?

Reporting – and many other jobs or activities – while female

There’s an article in the New York Times today about “Reporting While Female” by Sabrina Tavernise. Indeed, women human rights defenders face the same risks as reporters:

But women reporters face another set of challenges. We are often harassed in ways that male colleagues are not. This is a hazard of the job that most of us have experienced and few of us talk about.

Last week, CBS News said that its reporter Lara Logan was assaulted by a crowd of men in Cairo. CBS News did not detail the circumstances, but the network’s statement — that she had suffered a “brutal and sustained sexual assault” — said enough.

And, not only do reporters and women human rights defenders face these challenges but also Peace Corps Volunteers and many other women working, volunteering or travelling abroad. I’ve travelled quite a bit and have been harassed by men – groped, cat-called, and looked at like a lion looks at their prey. But I’d also caution that these actions happen in the US too – men asking women to show their breasts or butts, men  touching women inappropriatedly, or – as many of us female bloggers face – crude and threatening sexist remarks on our posts.

But – getting back on topic – the NY Times ran another piece similar to the above referenced artice:

Why we need women in war zones 

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

There is an added benefit. Ms. Logan is a minor celebrity, one of the highest-profile women to acknowledge being sexually assaulted. Although she has reported from the front lines, the lesson she is now giving young women is probably her most profound: It’s not your fault. And there’s no shame in telling it like it is.