Recent Resources for Feminists
Friday December 14, 2018
There could be a female Dalai Lama in future, says Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama. File photo
Mumbai: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Friday said Buddhist tradition is very liberal, having equal rights for both genders, and that there could be a "female Dalai Lama" in the future.
The Dalai Lama was addressing an audience at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.
The Dalai Lama, whose real name is Tenzin Gyatso, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is feted worldwide for his advocacy of independence for Tibet and other causes.
When asked if in the future, there could be a female Dalai Lama, he said Buddha had given equal rights to both genders and that both Tibetan and Indian masters of the highest ordination had been females as well.
"Around 15 years ago, the editor of a French magazine for ladies had come to interview me. She asked me if there could be a female Dalai Lama in future. I had said yes. The Buddhist tradition is very liberal," the Dalai Lama said.
The Dalai Lama said education from kindergarten should imbibe the importance of emotional hygiene because for physical health, the mind must be at peace.
"Physical hygiene is about keeping the body healthy, which is very important. A healthy mind is important as well. In India, the knowledge about mind and emotions is over 3,000 years old. Bharat is the only civilisation, which as early as 3,000 years back, developed concepts like Vipasana. These are techniques to bring peace of mind," he said.
The Dalai Lama said other countries accepted the concept of God but only prayed, while India had developed the technique for mental peace.
"Happiness is very much related with peace. There was too much violence and suffering in the 20th century. The 21st century should not repeat it and there should be peace. But without inner peace, you cannot develop genuine peace. Human intelligence must combine with warm-heartedness," the Dalai Lama said. PTI
Tuesday December 04, 2018
Afghan women's football dream turns into nightmareBy Jill McGivering BBC News, South Asia Editor
The women's team was celebrated internationally as a symbol of a new, more liberal Afghanistan (Image copyright AFP)
In post-Taliban Afghanistan, the women's football team was hailed globally as a symbol of the new freedoms enjoyed by the country's women.
But now one of Afghanistan's top sports officials has admitted that female footballers - who defied hard-liners and militants by daring to take to the field in the first place - have been sexually abused. And it's not only football - he admitted the problem extends to other sports too.
Most women athletes are too frightened to speak publicly about alleged abuse by coaches and sporting officials. But several have now disclosed privately to the BBC what they have experienced.
The scandal has exploded in the last few days. On Friday, football's governing body Fifa said it was investigating claims made by women in the national football squad. The Afghan Attorney General's Office then announced its own investigation too.
On Monday, President Ashraf Ghani addressed the allegations head on, saying they were "shocking to all Afghans".
"Even if mere allegations cause our people to stop sending their sons and daughters to sports, we need to act immediately and comprehensively," he said.
Hummel, a Danish sportswear company, has pulled sponsorship of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF), which is at the heart of the allegations.
Sayed Alireza Aqazada, the secretary general of the federation, whose president Keramuddin Karim is among the accused, repeated previous denials. The women's stories aren't true, he said. No sexual harassment had ever been carried out against any female player.
But the furore is showing no signs of abating. Questions were asked in both houses of Afghanistan's parliament on Monday. Then Hafizullah Rahimi, the head of Afghanistan's Olympic committee, made a surprising statement to reporters in Kabul.
"Sadly, these sorts of concerns have reached us," he said. "Sexual abuse does exist, not only within the Football Federation but in other sports federations as well. We have to fight it."
Former captain Khalida Popal says men have destroyed the team (Image copyright AFP)
It's the first formal acknowledgement that persistent allegations made by former members of the women's national football team of rampant abuse by male coaches and others in positions of power may be credible.
Many of the allegations have come from Khalida Popal, a former captain of the Afghan women's national football team who also served as its programme director. She risked her life as a teenager to play football in secret - when Afghanistan was still under Taliban rule. In order not to get caught she and her friends played in silence so the Taliban guards on the other side of the school wall wouldn't hear them.
Speaking to the BBC from Denmark, where she has lived since 2011, after fleeing death threats in Afghanistan, she said she had witnessed first-hand widespread physical and sexual abuse of girls and young women by coaches and federation officials. Girls complained to her about a range of abuse, from rape to sexual touching and harassment.
She says she almost lost hope of anything being done about it after she started to document abuse by two coaches. She took her findings to the Afghan Football Federation several years ago.
"Instead of removing them or punishing them", she said, "they were promoted."
Some of the key culprits, she claims, are powerful figures in Afghanistan with close links to government. Officials in the federation would tell players that they could get them on the team list and give them money if they had sex with them, she said.
The BBC has spoken to several young women still living in Afghanistan - including some athletes from sports other than football - who tell similar stories of sexual harassment and bullying. They say the abuse often happened when they were competing to get a place in the national team or for the chance to train or play overseas. One says she was told: "Show me how beautiful you are because only beautiful girls will get on the team."
The team's first game was against international troops (Image copyright AFP)
The allegations about the women's football team have particular resonance because it was earlier celebrated internationally as a symbol of a new, more liberal Afghanistan - and a showcase for the freedoms enjoyed by girls and young women after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
The fact that the football stadium in Kabul where the team trained was once the venue for Taliban executions only emphasised the contrast.
The irony isn't lost on Khalida Popal. When she was the football team's programme director, she recruited American female coaches and many Afghan women from the diaspora. The Afghan women, she said, "dreamed of doing something for their country, of supporting their sisters back in Afghanistan, of developing a strong national team that represents a positive image of the women of Afghanistan".
"But unfortunately men tried to destroy our programme."
She says that since her allegations were published on Friday in The Guardian newspaper (Scroll Down to Read), she's heard from a dozen men and women who have thanked her for speaking out, some tearfully, and said they had similar experiences but were too frightened to come forward.
"I know my voice can change so many lives," she told me. "I know my voice can change the system."
Additional reporting by the BBC's Afghan Service.
London ~ Friday 30 November 2018
Fifa examining claims of sexual and physical abuse on Afghanistan women’s team
• Team sponsor Hummel cuts ties pointing to allegations Exclusive by Suzanne Wrack
• Abuse allegedly perpetrated by men in Afghanistan’s FA
• Afghan FA says it ‘vigorously rejects the false accusations’
Allegations that players in Afghanistan’s women’s team have been abused by men from the country’s football federation are being looked into by Fifa. (Courtesy of Afghanistan women's national football team )
Fifa is examining allegations that members of the Afghanistan national women’s team were sexually and physically abused by men from the country’s football federation, including its president, Keramuudin Karim.
The claims have prompted the team’s principal sponsor, Hummel, to cut ties with the Afghan federation (AFF) and call for new leadership. The Danish sportswear manufacturer said it was “presented with strong allegations of severe mental, physical, sexual and equal-rights abuse of the female players by male AFF officials”.
Senior figures associated with the Afghanistan women’s team have told the Guardian that abuse took place inside the country, including at the federation’s headquarters, and at a training camp in Jordan last February.
Khalida Popal, a former head of the women’s football department at the AFF, who was forced to flee the country in 2016 and seek asylum in Denmark, has spoken to the Guardian, together with the players Shabnam Mobarez and Mina Ahmadi and the head coach, Kelly Lindsey, about the ordeal of players within the country and their frustrations with a system that, they feel, has failed to protect them.
The AFF said in a statement that it “vigorously rejects the false accusations made with regard to the AFF’s women’s national team”. It added that it has a “zero-tolerance policy towards any such type of behaviour”.
Fifa confirmed it was investigating the claims and a source at world football’s governing body told the Guardian it had been working with the United Nations on some players’ safety.
The source said: “Fifa has been fully aware of the situation in Afghanistan and has been working hard to secure the safety of the girls. They have been working very discreetly with those involved – given the sensitive nature of the accusations and danger to life posed – since March to pull together evidence for a formal investigation and have brought in the UN. Such is the extent of their concern for the girls still in the country and the need to bring in an organisation that can make political and legal interventions outside of Fifa’s abilities.”
In its statement Fifa said: “The serious subjects mentioned are being looked into by Fifa. As some aspects of these allegations involve sensitive topics linked to the protection of those involved, we have sought support from relevant parties who willingly offered their suppor”
Popal said that, in the course of an investigation she has carried out into the allegations, she heard claims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, death threats and rape. She said: “It was very difficult for us, living in the country, to talk about these things because these are very powerful guys. If a player from Afghanistan raised a voice they can get killed.”
Having fled the country two years ago, Popal organised national team training camps in Jordan, Japan and the UAE which have brought together players from inside and outside Afghanistan.
She told the Guardian that for the first such gathering, in Jordan in February, the players arriving from Afghanistan were accompanied by two men.
“They sent two male representatives, going under the title of ‘head of women’s football’ and ‘assistant coach’,” she said. “They were bullying and harassing the girls, particularly the ones from Afghanistan because they knew they wouldn’t speak up. I confronted them, told them they can’t do that and I’d make a complaint.
“It continued. These guys were calling on the rooms of the players and sleeping with the girls. AFF staff members would say to girls that they could get them on the team list and would pay them £100 a month if they would say yes to everything. They were pushing and forcing the girls. Coercing them.”
She said players reported to her what was going on and told her she needed to get it stopped. Popal said: “I phoned the president and said: ‘You should stop this. If you don’t stop it I cannot stop the girls from going to the media with their stories.’ He was promising that he would take serious action.
“He said to just keep playing football and we should keep it quiet until they come back and then they [the men] will be punished.”
According to the American Lindsey, the two male officials alleged to have abused players in Jordan “were promoted and moved to other areas within the AFF”.
Afghanistan’s Shabnam Mobarez has said a contract she was asked to sign by the FA is ‘taking away my basic human rights away from me, and my rights as a female’. (Haris Rahimi/Cloud 9 Productions)
Popal said that shortly after the camp in Jordan ended “nine players, who are based in Afghanistan, some of our best players, were kicked off the national team, accused of being lesbians”. It was, she claimed: “Because some of them were going to talk to the media. The president [privately] labelled them lesbians to silence them from speaking out about the sexual abuse in Jordan and abuses by coaches. He beat one of the girls with a snooker cue. He beat the player and said she was a lesbian and she was kicked out of the federation.
“If they spoke out, no one would listen to them because being accused of being lesbian or gay in Afghanistan is a topic you don’t speak about and puts you and your family in a lot of danger.”
Popal said that when she learned nine players had been sidelined she started an investigation and multiple allegations were made regarding Karim, a former governor of Panjshir province and chief of staff in the ministry of defence before he took over the presidency of the AFF in 2004.
She said: “While I was doing the investigation with these players I found out the huge extent of the abuse, sexually, mentally, physically, happening from the president himself.”
She claimed: “Not only that, he has a room inside his office that is a bedroom with a bed. The doors of his office [use] fingerprint recognition, so when players go in they can’t get out without the fingerprint of the president.
“I tried to search for the girls. I found some of the girls that were sexually abused, and physically abused if they said no. The federation would make an excuse to get rid of the player so that if they came out [and spoke publicly], it would look like they were just upset about being kicked off the team. That investigation took me half a year and there was physical abuse, sexual abuse, death threats and rape cases.”
Lindsey said they tried to raise the issue with the Asian Football Confederation. “They basically said: ‘We can’t speak to you about this because you’re not a member association, we need your president or your general secretary to speak with us.’”
An AFC spokesperson told the Guardian: “The AFC is looking into the various media reports which have been published and the complaints that some Afghanistan players have made on social media. There have been no reports of any sexual abuse to the AFC from any Afghanistan player.”
The Afghan federation said it would fight to support and protect all its players and that “these very serious allegations seem to come from former employees, without ever having directly contacted the AFF and/or provided any specific information to help the AFF to investigate”.
It added: “Should the AFF receive specific factual information and/or evidence, it will not hesitate to initiate further investigations immediately and to take all appropriate steps to prevent such actions and prosecute those responsible for them.”
A further development was the arrival of women’s national team contracts that those involved describe as “aggressive”, “one-way” and about “silencing” players.
Those that did not sign were kicked off the team. Mobarez tweeted that the contract prevented her from being paid for playing, limited their ability to get sponsorship elsewhere or pursue other promotional ventures, and removed mediation in disciplinary proceedings.
“I think this contract is very inhumane because it’s taking away my basic human rights away from me, and my rights as a female,” Mobarez, the captain, who plays in Denmark, said.
Ahmadi said: “It empowers us more and makes us more motivated to spread the message and accomplish great things. We all still have the same goal. They can’t break us.”
Hummel said it had “clear documentation of breach of contract as well as the fact that AFF leadership has been aware of the allegations since February this year without taking actions or informing sponsors. The documentation of unacceptable behaviour includes, but is not limited to, a new contract stripping player of several basic human rights.”
Sunday December 2, 2018
Bayer Slashes 12,000 Jobs As Monsanto Takeover Turns SourBy Sustainable Pulse.
NOTE: Sadly, in the Bayer takeover of Monsanto, it is the workers who will be hurt as they lose their jobs. We agree with Sustainable Pulse that glyphosate should be taken off the market. We also believe that glyphosate is only one of the damaging products made by Monsanto and Bayer. Monsanto is a leading producer of GMO seeds and is the largest owner of seeds on the planet, controlling almost a quarter of the world's privately-owned seeds. Bayer is a major pharmaceutical and plastics manufacturer. The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers has been educating the public about the harm Bayer does and using shareholder actions and the courts to stop them since 1983. Visit their website to learn more about Bayer's history of putting profits before people and planet and their current activities. - Margaret FlowersChief Executive Werner Baumann is under pressure to boost Bayer's share price after a drop of more than 35 percent so far this year, dragged down by concern over more than 9,000 lawsuits it faces over the cancer-causing effect of Monsanto's Roundup weed killer.
Sustainable Pulse Director, Henry Rowlands, commented on the shocking news on Thursday; "This just shows what happens when a company doesn't do its homework before making a huge investment. Bayer will struggle to recover from the Monsanto fiasco and investors in the company are obviously now very concerned. The only way out of this mess for Bayer is to stop selling glyphosate-based herbicides."
The group said it was looking at options - that could include a sale - for the Coppertone sunscreen and Dr. Scholl's foot care products from the consumer healthcare division it bought from Merck & Co in 2014 for $14 billion.
It will also divest its animal health division, the number five player in the industry, which analysts have said could fetch 6-7 billion euros ($7.9 billion).
The unit, the largest maker of flea and tick control products for cats and dogs and a supplier of livestock veterinary drugs, had sales of 1.57 billion euros in 2017, accounting for about 4.5 percent of group revenues.
Bayer will also seek a buyer for its 60-percent stake in German chemical production site services provider Currenta.
Monday November 26 2018
'Inspiration leader': Indigenous activist Bonita Mabo dies
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the below articles contain images of deceased persons.
By Biwa Kwan
Bonita Mabo, who fought for Indigenous land rights alongside her husband, Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo, has died.
Dr Mabo's family said she passed away peacefully at 12.30am this morning, surrounded by her loved ones.
Robert Cole described the achievements of his cousin, Dr Mabo, and her husband as extraordinary.
"What they achieved was not for themselves. It was for the nation," he said in a statement supplied to NITV News.
The Australian South Sea Islander Alliance also released a statement confirming the death of their honorary patron.
"It is with a heavy heart that the ASSIPJ Board write to extend our condolences to the Mabo family for the loss of their Mother, Sister, Aunty, Cousin and Grandmother on this very day," the statement said.
The Australian South Sea Islander Alliance says Australia has lost one of the greatest matriarchs of all time (Supplied)
"Aunty Bonita's contribution to social justice and human rights for First Nations People and the Australian South Sea Islander recognition was monumental and relentless. A formidable 'Woman Tanna' Aunty Bonita will be greatly missed as Australia has lost one of the greatest matriarchs of all time."
Last week, Dr Mabo's work was recognised by James Cook University with an honorary doctorate.
Robert Cole said Dr Mabo was very proud of that award.
"[She] was very happy that day but as soon as the James Cook University presentation was over, she went to bed and didn't talk much more afterwards," he said.
Bonita Mabo receives one of James Cook University's highest awards, an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Mikaela Smith/IERC/James Cook University)
The university award took note of her 45 years of campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians and Australian South Sea Islanders.
She co-founded the Black Community School in Townsville, the country's first Indigenous community school.
She also served 10 years on the Central Queensland Land Council during which time she assisted her late husband in the historic Mabo High Court case which acknowledged the presence and land rights of Indigenous Australians in Australia prior to British colonisation in 1788.
"We can all take inspiration from Bonita's courage and determination," James Cook Chancellor Bill Tweddell said at the time.
Bonita Mabo (The Australian South Sea Islander Alliance)
'Gentle and inspirational' - Tributes were posted on social media.
Chief executive of SA Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Cheryl Axleby described Bonita Mabo as "one of the most wonderful, gentle and inspirational Elder and Leader".
Just heard the sad news of the passing of one of the most wonderful, gentle and inspirational Elder and Leader! Sending much love, respect and condolences to the Mabo families xxxxx Cheryl Axleby (@AxCheryl) November 26, 2018
Co-Chair of National Naidoc Week Committee John Paul Janke invoked the slogan from this year's Naidoc Week: "Because of Her, We Can.": Vale Dr Bonita Mabo AO...Because of Her, We Can. John Paul Janke (@jpjanke) November 26, 2018
The national body representing Aboriginal health groups, NACCHO, passed on its condolences: "Our thoughts are with the Mabo family for your very sad loss," the group posted on Twitter.
Our thoughts are with the Mabo family for your very sad loss
Only this month Dr Bonita Mabo AO was recognised by @jcu for her advocacy work for Indigenous schooling and her campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians and Australian South Sea Islanders. #RIPDrMabo https://t.co/d3bnQhRfw5 - Aboriginal Health (@NACCHOAustralia) November 26, 2018
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad described Bonita Mabo as "an activist and a trailblazer" Vale Bonita Mabo. An incredibly important and enduring voice for change for First Nations and South Sea Islander peoples. A matriarch, an activist and a trailblazer, she will be greatly missed. https://t.co/XsVIwlU7Br Jackie Trad (@jackietrad) November 26, 2018
Greens senator Richard Di Natale said those in Australia and around the world are "mourning the loss of such a committed campaigner for human rights and social justice": Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Bonita Mabo and those across Australia and around the world mourning the loss of such a committed campaigner for human rights and social justice. - Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) November 26, 2018
Devastated to hear the news of the passing of Dr Bonita Mabo. May she forever Rest In Peace. My deepest condolences to her beloved family and all who loved her: Hadda Botfull (@mavsmum) November 26, 2018
In Mabo v Queensland, Meriam man Eddie Mabo challenged the notion of 'Terra Nullius' that Australia was a 'land belonging to no one', in the High Court of Australia.
His victory and the resulting decision recognised native title rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia for the first time since colonisation.
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ~ Monday November 25 2018
Bonita Mabo, prominent Indigenous rights activist, dies days after receiving accolade
By Indigenous affairs reporter Isabella Higgins
: Bonita Mabo, the wife of the late land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo, has died. (AAP/CLPR: Matt Nettheim)
Prominent Indigenous and South Sea Islander activist Bonita Mabo has died.
- Bonita Mabo remembered as "mother of native title"
- She was a Malanbarra woman and a descendant of Vanuatuan workers brought to Queensland
- In recent years, she had been fighting for South Sea Islanders to be recognised in Australia as their own distinct ethnic group
Mabo was the wife of Eddie Mabo and worked alongside him in the pursuit of Indigenous land rights.
Just days ago she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from James Cook University for her contribution to social justice and human rights.
"It's a big loss for us all," Indigenous WA senator Patrick Dodson said.
"I think Australia needs to honour people like Mrs Mabo who stood, to some degree, in the shadows of her husband, but who was the backbone and the steel that helped he and many others to continue the struggles.
"A person of great note; a great Australian and great contribution to the cause of justice to all.
"It's a sad day. It's a big loss for all of us. But she is a person who comes in the vain of the very recent recognition that 'because of her, we can do things'."
In a statement, The Australian South Sea Islander Alliance said she would "be greatly missed".
"Aunty Bonita's contribution to social justice and human rights for First Nations People and the Australian South Sea Islander recognition was monumental and relentless," the statement read.
"A formidable 'Woman Tanna', Aunty Bonita will be greatly missed as Australia has lost one of the greatest matriarchs of all time."
Twitter: Twitter: @congressmob "We lost a great soul. She fought for our peoples and our rights, Aunty Bonita Mabo will be sorely missed #Respect #AustraliasFirstPeoples"
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar remembered her as "the mother of native title".
"She was a woman of great strength. She was gentle, stoic and loving," Ms Oscar said in a statement.
"I will always remember her as the mother of native title. Her legacy lives on in our continuing fight for land and sea rights."
Indigenous education was a lifelong passion
Mabo was a Malanbarra woman and a descendant of Vanuatuan workers brought to Queensland to work on sugar plantations.
She was born near Ingham in North Queensland and married Eddie in 1959.
The couple had 10 children and Indigenous education became one of Mabo's lifelong passions.
Photo: Bonita and Eddie Mabo opened the Black Community School in North Queensland. (Supplied)
Twitter: Twitter: @JCU "Bonita Mabo has received one of James Cook University's highest awards, an Honorary Doctor of Letters, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the community."
In the early 1970s, she set up Australia's first Aboriginal community school and worked as a teacher's aide.
"For black children ... we could see how they were ... they used to go to school and they'd get blamed for different things," she said in a 2013 interview.
"I used to go up to the school and I used to have arguments with the teachers and many times they cried and I didn't care because I'd said what I'd wanted to say."
The Black Community School started in Townsville with 10 students and two teachers who volunteered for half pay.
The school taught children to read and write, and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.
At its peak in the late 1970s, 45 students were enrolled at the school.
It closed in 1985 due to a lack of funding.
The Mabo decision
Eddie Mabo spent a decade fighting for official recognition of his people's ownership of Mer Island in the Torres Strait.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Video: 'We're proud as punch' (ABC News)
Her husband did not live to see the result, but in 1992 Bonita Mabo was making her way from North Queensland to Canberra when the landmark decision was handed down.
In 2017, she recalled that moment.
"We were just outside of Sydney and we stopped and pulled up on the side of the road and Malita rang us and said 'dad won the decision, won the case'," she said.
"And we just jumped out and we just hugged each other.
Twitter: Marcia Langton tweet: RIP Bonita Mabo. Eddie and Bonita's fight and victory remade our world & secured rights unimaginable for 200 years. Condolences to family and Mer Nations.
"We were proud as punch."
The Mabo case was legally significant in Australia because it ruled the lands of this continent were not "terra nullius" or "land belonging to no-one" when European settlement occurred.
It found the Meriam people, traditional owners of the Murray Islands, including the islands of Mer, Dauer and Waier, were "entitled against the whole world to possession" of the lands.
The case paved the way for the Native Title Act of 1993.
In an interview with the ABC in 2013, Mabo said she had to be there for her husband "all the way".
"Thick or thin, we made it," she said.
"[I was] disappointed he wasn't there ... for the judgement to come down early enough.
"But on his deathbed he knew and he kept saying: 'when I win the case, when I win the case'."
Recognising South Sea Islanders
In recent years, Mabo had been fighting for South Sea Islanders to be recognised in Australia as their own distinct ethnic group.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Video: Bonita Mabo was awarded an AO in 2013. (ABC News)
She was recognised in the Order of Australia in 2013 for "distinguished service to the Indigenous community and to human rights".
"I feel so honoured to be part of it," Mabo said at the time.
Mabo was often asked about her work with Eddie, but while speaking about the Order of Australia, she said she made sure to tell people: "Well, I've got another side too."
"I'm a South Sea Islander descendent. My great grandfather came from the Tanna Islands and was stolen out here ... to come and clean the country up here," she said.
"And well, when I start saying that, they sit up and listen."
Jackie Huggins, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First People's, said Mabo was "a mother to all of us in the political struggle".
"She left a legacy of great compassion, of being the woman who was behind Eddie Mabo, her husband, in his fight for justice and human rights," she said.
"She was also an activist in her own right.
"She was a great legend across this whole nation.
"Like her husband, her legacy will always live on."
(Australian Edition) Tuesday 27 November 2018
Bonita Mabo: tributes pour in for 'mother of native title'
South Sea Islander hailed for her 'powerful contribution' to reconciliation in Australia
By Lorena Allam
Bonita Mabo co-founded Australia's first Indigenous community school and, with her husband Eddie Mabo, campaigned for land rights. Photograph: (The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
Tributes are flowing for the "matriarch of reconciliation", Bonita Mabo, an activist and reconciliation advocate in her own right who was the wife of the land rights champion Eddie "Koiki" Mabo. She has died in Townsville, surrounded by her family, at the age of 75.
The Aboriginal social justice commissioner, June Oscar, described Mabo as "gentle, stoic and loving. I will always remember her as the mother of native title. Her legacy lives on in our continuing fight for land and sea rights."
Australia's South Sea Islander community said: "Aunty Bonita's contribution to social justice and human rights for First Nations people and the Australian South Sea Islander recognition was monumental and relentless.- Linda Burney MP (@LindaBurneyMP)
Vale Bonita Mabo, an activist for social justice and human rights in her own right. One of the great First Nations Women of our time. Fighting 'til the very end for the great truth of this nation. My thoughts and love go out to the Mabo family.- November 26, 2018
"A formidable 'woman Tanna', Aunty Bonita will be greatly missed as Australia has lost one of the greatest matriarchs of all time. Because of her, we can."
Reconciliation Australia's chief executive, Karen Mundine, said Mabo had "made a powerful contribution to reconciliation in Australia - both in supporting her husband's work and through her individual efforts as an educator and advocate".
"Aunty Bonita's work shed light on the horrendous treatment of South Sea Islander Australians, which is an aspect of Australia's history that has long been hidden and ignored," Mundine said.
Mabo was a South Sea Islander who spoke frequently about the need for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander peoples to "work together as one to fight for our rights".
She co-founded Australia's first Indigenous community school, the Black community school in Townsville, where she worked as a teacher's aide and oversaw day-to-day operations, including providing continuity and cultural training to all children.
Only last week she received one of James Cook University's highest awards, an honorary doctorate of letters, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the community.
During the long years fighting the native title court case - which eventually overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius - Eddie worked as the gardener at the university, while Bonita worked night shifts at the prawn factory, riding her bicycle there each evening.
After her husband's death Bonita Mabo increasingly sought recognition for her ancestors and awareness of the harsh treatment they endured.
About 60,000 Pacific Islanders were brought to Australia - "blackbirded" to work on sugar and cotton plantations, sheep and cattle farms, and in the pearling and fishing industries.
A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India by Sheela Saravanan
Applies a reproductive justice approach to 'transnational feminism' in an attempt to build a global feminist solidarity
Provides ethnographical insights from the author's empirical research in India
Introduces 'humanitarian feminism' as a concept identifying humane thresholds that are crossed in asserting individual reproductive rights
About this book
This book takes a reproductive justice approach to argue that surrogacy as practised in the contemporary neoliberal biomarkets crosses the humanitarian thresholds of feminism. Drawing on her ethnographic work with surrogate mothers, intended parents and medical practitioners in India, the author shows the dark connections between poverty, gender, human rights violations and indignity in the surrogacy market. In a developing country like India, bio-technologies therefore create reproductive objects of certain female bodies while promoting an image of reproductive liberation for others. India is a classic example for how far these biomarkets can exploit vulnerabilities for individual requirements in the garb of reproductive liberty. This critical book refers to a range of liberal, radical and postcolonial feminist frameworks on surrogacy, and questions the individual reproductive rights perspective as an approach to examine global surrogacy. It introduces 'humanitarian feminism' as an alternative concept to bridge feminist factions divided on contextual and ideological grounds. It hopes to build a global feminist solidarity drawing on a 'reproductive justice' approach by recognizing the histories of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration oppression in all communities. This work is of interest to researchers and students of medical sociology and anthropology, gender studies, bioethics, and development studies.
About the author
Sheela Saravanan, PhD, has two master's degrees from the Universities of Bombay and Pune in India in Geography and Development Planning. Her Ph.D. from Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia in Public Health was on the influence of biomedical frameworks of knowledge on local birthing practices in India. She has worked and published on the status of reproductive health in South Asia, violence against women and female infanticide in India earlier and now specializes in new and assisted reproductive technologies in the context of Asia and Europe. Since 2007 she has worked in the Universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Goettingen in Germany. She has published on global injustice, exploitation and objectification in the process of commercial surrogacy in India. Since January 2016 she has been working at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg on a DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) funded project. The research aims to examine individual notions of 'desired children' (Wunschkinder/Vansh) shaped by social experiences in the German and Indian contexts that lead to selective abortions. She teaches Global Reproductive Technologies: Socio-Ethical and Legal Dimensions; Theories and Practice of Reproductive Technologies and Feminism and Public Health to bachelor's and master's students studying anthropology at the South Asia Institute, Department of Anthropology, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Table of contents (8 chapters)
Indian Surrogacy Biomarkets: An Introduction Pages 1-14 (Preview)
Surrogacy Globalscape Pages 17-46
A Feminist Discourse on Surrogacy: Reproductive Rights and Justice Approach Pages 47-78
Situating India in the Globalscape of Inequalities Pages 81-99
Surrogacy Biomarkets in India: Stratified Reproduction and Intersectionality Pages 101-127
The Postcolonial Paradox and Feminist Solidarity Pages 129-157
Transnational Feminism for Reproductive Justice Pages 161-172
Towards Humanitarian Assisted Conception Pages 173-183
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October 29, 2018
The Dangerous Effects of Surrogacy: A Review of A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India
By K. Blaine
The structure of the surrogacy market does not enhance individual freedom. Surrogate mothers are willing to abide by the rules imposed by the clinic and the intended parents in their desperation to bring their families out of poverty.
Imagine you live in India. You live in extreme povertypoverty like most Americans have never witnessed. The kind of poverty that leads you to sign a contract that you cannot read. You relinquish your home, your friends, your family, your children, your body. You leave your community to live in a dormitory where your every move is monitored and recorded. You have no control over the medical interventions performed on you. You are told what you can watch on television, what you can eat, where and how far you can walk, and even what you can listen to.
This is not a spin-off of the "Handmaid's Tale." It's the true story that Dr. Sheela Saravanan has studied and written about in A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India.
At the beginning of the summer I planned to read and write on Saravanan's book. Almost five months and several pages of notes later, here I am. My conclusion? This book is extremely important.
Saravanan studied two IVF clinics in Western India. She interviewed and observed thirteen surrogates, six of the surrogates' spouses, four intended parents, and two doctors. Her research "revealed several ongoing illegal surrogacy cases, near-death situations of surrogate mothers, neonatal and perinatal mortalities, unreported abandonment of disabled infants by intended parents and morbidities among surrogate mothers."
Surrogacy is a global problem. Men and women from places like the United States, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands travel to places like Thailand, Nepal, Mexico, Laos, Dubai, and Cambodia to take advantage of lax legislation, inequality, and indescribable poverty to build their families.
Cross-border surrogacy situations create unsafe conditions for surrogate mothers. Women and girls are trafficked out of their homes and captured to breed babies to be sold. Babies born with birth defects or simply the wrong gender are abandoned in the street by intended parents. Saravanan writes, "several cases of missing girls and trafficking" have been attributed "to commercial surrogacy in India." For example, "In 2015, a thirteen-year old girl was trafficked from Jharkhand into Delhi, forced into surrogacy … made to deliver six children … [and] made to breastfeed the babies for six months before they were sold." According to the National Crime Record Bureau, in India "almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in 2016, a rise of nearly twenty-five percent from the previous year."
Overall, Saravanan's research found, not surprisingly, that surrogacy is a money-making business that exploits both surrogate mothers and intended parents. She states, "surrogacy was a bazaar where everything about women's reproductive capacity and the children born was priced," including the number, weight, and gender/(dis)abiliites of the child(ren) born.
Dr. Saravanan's work shows how the combination of crippling poverty, limited educational and employment opportunities, and deep dedication or duty to the family unit create the vulnerability that #BigFertility likes to exploit. She found that "surrogate mothers were mostly women who were already involved in the biomarket … and were easy recruits into the process of surrogacy in India." In fact, fertility clinics comb these clinical sites to recruit women living in dire circumstances.
All the surrogate mothers she interviewed were "facing severe economic difficulties at home." Sarala, one of the surrogate mothers, explained that "this process is so distressing that I would not have done it even if someone paid me ten times the remuneration, had I been well-off, but I am so desperate [for money] that I would do it even if I was paid just one third the amount."
Although each of the surrogate mothers in Saravanan's study could read and write, none had studied beyond higher secondary level. These women had limited negotiation powers and were led into "unjust surrogacy arrangements." Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, argues that "the only reason they (the women backed by her family) come into [surrogacy] is poverty, that is their only choice."
Even though surrogate mothers are given constant medical attention, the medical care actually violates good medical practice. They were overfed (because bigger babies were more desirable), unable to exercise, and kept on bed rest for the first trimester. An unsafe and illegal number of embryos were implanted into the womb, leading to selective abortions and compulsory cesarean sections. These mothers also did not have health records pertaining to their time as surrogates, because all clinical records were registered under a pseudonym or in the name of the intended mother "without any mention of the role of the surrogate mother."
In addition to surrogate mothers, #BigFertility also exploits intended parents. Infertility has received a lot of publicity in the last twenty years. Unfortunately, we have created a world where "infertility and childlessness are considered unnatural and lead to a perceived sense of a 'an unfulfilled' life for the woman [and] 'emasculation' for the man." #BigFertility preys on these notions. In the United States surrogacy costs about $200,000. In India, it's about one fourth of that, including all travel and living expenses. Saravanan reports that intended parents were overcharged and the surrogate mothers were underpaid. There was a "difference between what was asked from the intended parents on behalf of the surrogate mothers and what was actually paid to her." So where is all of that money going?
Not only does #BigFertility exploit intended parents and surrogate mothers but, perhaps unknowingly, intended parents are also exploiting surrogate mothers. Saravanan explains:
those seeking surrogacy arrangements face social stigma, psychological problems, physical stress of infertility treatment, and violation of bodily integrity. However, opting for surrogacy is likely to put another woman (the surrogate mother) through the same set of problems … and also put the surrogate mother's health, freedom, liberty, and even life at stake. Violation of another person's dignity, integrity, economic needs, hence, cannot be a constitutional right.
Likewise, intended parents often feel superior towards the surrogate mother. Instead of calling her by her name, some refer to her as "the surrogate," "the nanny," or "the surrogate mother."
Children born from commercial surrogacy are frequently mistreatedor worse. Saravanan witnessed instances where "disabled [ children or] children of undesired sex were left in orphanages, sold or left on the streets in India." In 2012, an Australian couple had twins and decided to sell their baby boy and keep the girl. Cases like this are happening all over the world.
Saravanan explains that, in addition to disregarding the needs of the child, "some have suggested that surrogacy is a rebirth of scientific racism and eugenics driven by consumerism and reproductive choices that feeds into parental desires of a perfect child." Surrogacy requires gamete selection and embryo transfer. If the intended parents do not use their own sperm and egg, then they are able to select gametes from donors with certain skin colors, educational achievements, religious affiliations, etc. This "reinforces racist prejudices, with differing market rates and pricing based on which gametes are considered superior." She adds, "it is a well-known fact that human eggs of white-skinned women are worth more than those with brown and black skin, hence, the entire baby business is based on racism and colonialism."
These children may also never know they were born through surrogacy. Each of the surrogate mothers wanted to continue contact with the children she boreor at least know about "their well-being and progress." However, in most circumstances contact between child and surrogate mother was completely severed. The intended parents even gave out false contact information or fled India without warning. Many of the surrogate mothers "celebrate the birthdays of these children and feel the pang of separation for several years after relinquishment." How will the children feel if they ever find out their birth story?
Saravanan saw the dichotomy between the treatment of intended parents and surrogate mothers. Intended parents were treated as people, whereas surrogate mothers were referred to as "wombs in labor," "containers," and "rented wombs." Doctors and nurses were accommodating to intended parents but showed ridicule and judgment toward the surrogate mothers. The fertility clinic staff kept a close eye on the surrogate mothers that Saravanan spoke with; in one clinic there were cameras in every room. The surrogate mothers were given a set of instructions on what they could discuss with her. During interviews, if clinic personnel passed by, the surrogate mothers would start praising the doctor.
Finally, the medical practitioners seem to be completely ignorant of the maternal-fetal bond that develops while the surrogate mother is carrying the baby. According to Dr. Nisha, a provider at one of the IVF clinics, bonding doesn't occur between the surrogate mother and the child: it is "nothing but a false idea," and "the surrogate mother is prepared right from the beginning and taught that the child is not hers." This is in direct contrast to what the surrogate mothers felt and expressed to Saravanan. One surrogate mother states, "I felt as my soul is parting from my body. But it was my duty as a surrogate mother that I had to abide by, if I had to get the final payment." Another stated, "I have to give them away as a gift though my heart is hurting, these children are part of my life but the deal was made right at the beginning."
Saravanan's work provides an internal perspective on just how exploitive #BigFertility and surrogacy are. Saravanan, and the team I work with at the Center for Bioethics and Culture, call for a global alliance to #StopSurrogacyNow. Many more are "concerned that people, especially women, are becoming mere body parts in the flourishing global markets and that women may feel pressurized to become a part of it."
Saravanan describes the decision of a surrogate mother as a choice "between two evilsbeing poor and being exploited." Thus, the structure of the surrogacy market does not enhance individual freedom, it capitalizes on "socio-economically disadvantaged women willing to become surrogate mothers." These women are willing to abide by the rules imposed by the clinic and the intended parents in their desperation to bring their families out of poverty.
Thankfully, in 2015, commercial and transnational surrogacy was banned in India. Unfortunately, it has moved to countries where the laws are more lax.
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