On Aid Programmes Aimed at Women

Feminist philosopher Serene Khader brings some much-needed complexity to the discussions.

According to Dr Khader, men have traditionally been enabled to work because their wives take care of children, the house and the garden.

“Many of the women would ostensibly be empowered through work are women who already get up at 4:00am to fetch 20 kilos of water from a well that is miles away; who spend hours cooking, shopping for food, and tending to fields, children in tow, and can only go to sleep after an evening meal is cleaned up after at 10:00 or 11:00pm,” Dr Khader said….

But Dr Khader warns that, in some cases, the extra workload benefits children at the expense of their mothers’ wellbeing.

She calls for a new approach to tackling social issues in the Global South — one that involves men…”Women’s empowerment irreducibly means that men will have to change.”

Read the whole thing.

UN Panel Criticizes US for Police Brutality, Torture, Botched Executions

The US police force have been in the news a lot recently. Even those of us currently in hibernation mode, hiding from the big bad world outside, are painfully aware of the people (predominantly non-white) killed, beaten, and abused by the feds, who are repeatedly found not guilty whenever anyone manages to take a case to court. Now a UN panel has produced a report expressing “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.” The UN panel that produced the report periodically reviews the behaviour of those countries that ratified the Convention Against Torture. The report also slams the US for the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and expresses concern over a series of bungled executions carried out predominantly in Arizona, Ohio, and Oklahoma, which saw prisoners subjected to excruciating pain and prolonged suffering. You can read more here. The UN report is available here.

CFA: Gender and Globalisation: What do Intersectionality and Transnational Feminism contribute?

Call for abstracts: Gender and Globalisation: What do Intersectionality and Transnational Feminism contribute?

Stream Convenors:
Diane C. Farmer, Business School, Kingston University, ENGLAND
Evangelina Holvino, Simmons School of Management, USA
Jenny K. Rodriguez, Newcastle University Business School, ENGLAND

“The [intersectionality] framework remains important, but we have to pay attention to and elucidate the complexities of using this framework beyond Euro-American societies. Understanding and attending to the complexities of transnationalism—composed of structures within, between, and across nation-states, and virtual spaces—alerts us to look for other axes of domination and the limits of using “women of color” concepts, as we use them now, to look across and within nation-states to understand the impact of transnationalism” (Purkayastha, 2012, p. 62).

This stream aims to explore the relationship between intersectionality and transnational feminism in the context of globalisation by exploring the following key questions: what are the similarities between these two approaches to the study of gender and power relations? What are the differences between intersectionality and transnational feminist approaches? What can we learn from sustained generative conversations that explore these two approaches to gender as it is applied to work and organisations in a global(ised) world?
Read More »

This week’s Monkey Medal goes to…

…the major of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, who has decided to cut ties with Moscow over Russia’s treatment of LGBT people. Moscow and Reykjavik had agreed to co-operate on family issues, according to a contract drawn up in 2007. But Reykjavik city council have now issued the following statement:

In light of the developments concerning the affairs of gay, bisexual and transsexual people that have taken place in Russia over the last few months, the district attorney, Human Rights Office, Office of the Mayor of Reykjavík, and City of Reykjavík chief administrative officer propose amendments or the termination of the collaboration agreement between Reykjavík and Moscow, in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

What can I say except, Bravo!

Here is Mr. Gnarr addressing the crowds at gay pride:
Photo from the Guardian.

And here he is riding a truck bearing a Free Pussy Riot banner:

Photo from Twister Sifter.

You can read more from Gay Star News.

Dinner-time, Guantanamo Bay Style

Ramadan began on Monday.* More than one hundred of the people still being held in Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike. More than forty of them are being force-fed. This isn’t pretty. A tube is forced up the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. It’s incredibly painful. One of the men currently on hunger strike is Samir Moqbel. Prisoners’ written communications with their lawyers are apparently censored, but since Samir was allowed to speak to them on the telephone, they have been able to publicise his words.

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping. There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.**

And in case you can’t quite imagine what this might be like, actor and rapper Yasiin Bey, (Mos Def), has made a short film with Human Rights Organisation Reprieve, showing dinner-time, Guantanamo Bay style. Needless to say, some viewers might find some scenes upsetting.

*Ramadan is, of course, a time of fasting. Islamic leaders and those of other faiths have called on Obama to halt the force-feeding during Ramadan.

**You can read more of Samir Moqbel’s horrific story here.

…and then they came for the transpeople…

As readers will know, Greece is suffering as a result of the global recession. History has shown us time and again that with recession comes social unrest, and repression. Well, things are currently looking pretty ugly in Greece right now.

Operation Zeus in August last year marked the start of an ugly reminder of a European past that we thought we had long buried. Nearly 60 years after the end of the Second European War, migrants were round up from the streets of Greece and shoved unceremoniously into internment camps. In May, women working in the sex industry were pulled from the streets, forcibly tested for HIV, publically humilitated and imprisoned. In March, they rounded up drug users from the streets of Athens and put them too into camps. Last month in Thessaloniki they came for transgendered people.

You can read more from Second Council House of Virgo.

Violent land evictions in Brazil

Survival for Tribal Peoples reports that in one incident, Terena Indians had returned to live on their ancestral land, which now belongs to a rancher who is also a politician. The police turned up and carried out a violent eviction, killing one and wounding others. There are fears that there will be similar violence at the site of the Belo Monte Dam project, where Kayapo, Arara, Munduruku, and Xipaia Indians are currently protesting. Tribal peoples are supposed to be consulted about the use of their land before any decisions are made, but the government appears to have been pandering to powerful agricultural and mining lobbies who seek to undermine these rights.

Pensioner dies after care agency shut down

It’s difficult to know where to start with this. The bare facts, as reported by the BBC website, are that an eighty-year old woman was left without food, water, or medication for nine days after the company responsible for her care was raided and shut down by the UK Border Agency. Sadly, she later died in hospital. The agency, it seems, had been illegally employing folks without papers, although I don’t think that much has been officially confirmed. There are so many things about this tragedy that make me angry. First off, care work is one of the most poorly paid jobs going. A 2010 report by the Low Pay Commission found that 9% of care workers were paid less than the minimum wage. Many were not being reimbursed for their travel costs. No surprise there, as caring has been – and still is – associated with women, and what has traditionally been considered ‘women’s work’ is always more poorly paid than traditionally masculine roles, no matter how important it may be. In addition, few care workers are union members, and as private companies have taken over – and made to compete for – the provision of care, this has led to reduced pay and poorer working conditions. Second, migrants without papers are one of the most easily exploited groups of people – lacking any official means to support themselves, they have to take any work they are offered, and their illegal status means that they have no power over their pay or working conditions. They cannot join a union to fight for a better deal, and they cannot complain if their jobs fail to meet the legally required standards. Third, the existence of such a vulnerable group of people, living in the shadows of our society, makes it harder for those with papers. Their pay and working conditions are driven down by the exploitation of illegal migrants, and they must now compete for work with people who can be paid less, made to work longer hours, and so on – people whom, from a certain perspective, it makes more sense to employ. And there we have it: a matrix of oppression, which leads to the various sufferings of care workers, folks without papers, and those who require care.