Recent Resources for Feminists
Saturday August 29, 2015
Girl Trafficking Continues from State, Purpose Changes
By Express News Service
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and other dignitaries releasing a book ‘Justice for Women Legal Compendium’ at the national convention (express)
BHUBANESWAR: As human trafficking has emerged as a gigantic challenge for the country, Odisha has a new worry to tackle. A bizarre trend of girls being trafficked from the State to western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana has come to fore. An adverse sex ratio in the northern States could be reason behind it.
Earlier, women and girls from the State used to be lured on the pretext of employment and ended up as domestic maids in Delhi. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also shows that majority of those kidnapped or abducted are minors and less number of girls are rescued.
With trafficking of women and girls on the rise, representatives of State Commissions of Women (SCWs) of 16 States assembled at the ‘National Convention on Inter-State Coordination on Anti-Trafficking of Girls and Women’ here on Friday to discuss emerging issues and challenges so that a broad plan of coordination among the source and destination States can be arrived at.
The convention was organised by Odisha State Commission for Women (OSCW) with support from National Commission for Women (NCW).
After inaugurating the convention, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said trafficking being an extremely critical issue of national and international importance, the convention holds significance. Lack of education, poverty and unemployment are catalytic factors for trafficking while unscrupulous elements take advantage of poor socio-economic condition and indulge in organised trafficking.
Naveen said Odisha Government has taken a number of initiatives to check trafficking of girls and women. The State Crime Branch, he said, plays a crucial nodal role in ensuring coordinated efforts to prevent and detect the cases.
Chairperson of NCW Lalitha Kumarmangalam said trafficking is a business and the rich and powerful are involved in the crime.
Home Secretary Asit Kumar Tripathy said a greater coordination among the States and integration of agencies is the need of the hour to arrest the trend. He also informed that Odisha made significant achievements rescuing trafficked children through Operation Smile and Operation Muskaan which has been appreciated by Ministry of Home Affairs.
Speaking on the occasion, former IPS officer and Professor Chair of TISS PM Nair said every year, about 1.10 lakh children are reported missing in the county. Over 41,000 of them remain untraced. Child exploitation alone generates `21 lakh crore in India, he added.
During the convention, newer facets of trafficking were discussed. Sonal Jaitly of UN Women said commercial surrogacy among women is a major issue that needs to be tackled because it is being misused. Since economically weaker sections are vulnerable to trafficking, families coax women to go for surrogacy. Jaitly also emphasised that Witness Protection Scheme, rolled out by Delhi Government, should be emulated by others States and can go a long way in curbing trafficking.
Among others, Minister of Women and Child Development Usha Devi, Secretary Vishal Deb, Chairperson of OSCW Lopamudra Buxipatra also spoke. Later, ADG of Crime Branch BK Sharma also delivered a presentation on the role of Integrated Anti Human Trafficking Units in the State.
Saturday August 29, 2015
Women for efforts to check human trafficking
By STAFF REPORTER
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik releasing the book “Justice for Women: Legal Compendium” during the inaugural session of the National Convention on Inter-State Coordination on Anti-Trafficking of Girls and Women in Bhubaneswar on Friday.(PTI)
BHUBANESWAR: Experts and women activists here on Friday emphasised on coordinated action among States as well as neighbouring countries for bringing an end to human trafficking.
“Trafficking of girls and women is an extremely critical issue of national and international importance. Lack of education, poverty and unemployment are catalytic factors. Unscrupulous elements take advantage of poor socio-economic conditions and indulge in organised trafficking of girls and women,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurating the National Convention on inter-State Coordination on Anti-trafficking of girls and women here.
The convention was jointly organised by the Odisha State Commission for Women and National Commission for Women. Chairpersons of State Commission for Women from 15 States attended the meet for firming up strategy for making coordination effort.
“Trafficking is a horrible social issue which is worse than cancer and it needs to be stamped out. Both source and destination States are required to work in partnership with the government and non-government organisations to prevent trafficking,” said NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam.
Deliberating on Odisha achievement, Mr. Patnaik said: “During January 2015, ‘Operation Smile’ was launched by the State Police which resulted in rescue of 335 children from different parts of the State. During the month of July this year, the State Police launched ‘Operation Muskan’ in which 87 children were rescued by the joint teams of police and Women and Child Development department.”
The Chief Minister released a book on ‘Justice for Women: Legal Compendium’ written by senior lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy on the occasion.
According to P. M. Nair, a NCW resource person, of the 1.10 lakh children that had gone missing during 2011, 40,000 remained untraced. Most of the children, mainly girls, could have been forced into flesh trade, he said.
Usha Devi, Women and Child Development Minister, Lopamudra Baxipatra, Odisha SCW chairperson and State Home Secretary Asit Tripathy also spoke on the occasion.
Monday August 10, 2015
This woman ran a marathon without a tampon to fight period-shaming Kiran Gandhi trained for a year to run the 42.2 kms London marathon and nothing could stop her. (Picture Courtesy: kirangandhi.com)
When Kiran Gandhi, drummer for singer M.I.A. and the Thievary Corporation got her periods just the night before the London marathon, she wasn't sure at first if she would be able to run. But then she decided to go for it anyway - without wearing a sanitary pad or a tampon. By doing this, she felt that she could raise awareness about women, who have no access to feminine hygiene products and hoped to break taboos surrounding menstrutation.
"I ran the whole marathon with my period blood running down my legs," the 26-year-old wrote of her first marathon experience on her website. She went on to explain that she felt that a tampon would be uncomfortable while she ran. But apart from that she also wanted to run for her “sisters who don't have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn't exist."
This was her way to show to the world that "on the marathon course, sexism can be beaten." Admitting that though she had period cramps and was anxious about the race, she still “felt very empowered” finishing it on her own terms, as told to the Cosmopolitan.
Gandhi, who was clad in all pink for breast cancer awareness, finished the race in four hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds. She had spent a year preparing for the race. She also put up photos of herself with family and friends, after the race, wearing her period-stained running pants proudly, on her blog.
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ~ 21 July 2015
Obituary: Taboo-breaking doctor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith remembered as trailblazer for women
By Eliza Buzacott-Speer
Priscilla Kincaid-Smith identified the link between headache powders and kidney disease. (Photo Supplied)
Priscilla Kincaid-Smith was a world-renowned nephrologist and trailblazer for Australian female scientists, taking on breakthrough roles with the University of Melbourne and World Medical Association, and discovering the link between headache powders and kidney disease.
Dr Kincaid-Smith died at her Melbourne home on Saturday at the age of 88 from complications following a stroke.
She was the first female professor at the University of Melbourne in 1975, first female chair of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, first female chair of the Australian Medical Association and the first female and first Australian chair of the World Medical Association.
One of Dr Kincaid-Smith's most important discoveries was identifying the link between the overuse of headache powders Bex and Vincents and kidney disease in the early 1960s.
She then actively lobbied for restrictions on the availability of the analgesics.
"In doing that, she would have probably saved tens of thousands of people's kidney functions and therefore avoided them going on dialysis," her daughter, Jackie Fairley, said.
"Indeed, that condition has virtually disappeared."
Dr Kincaid-Smith was also heavily involved in setting up the renal transplant unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
During the 1970s, she concentrated on the prevention of renal failure before being appointed professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, a position she held until her retirement in 1991.
Remarkable achievements 'unparalleled'
Professor Rowan Walker, director of renal medicine at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne, was tutored by Dr Kincaid-Smith.
"For their time, [her achievements] were quite remarkable," he said.
"Her research endeavours and education endeavours are almost unparalleled in renal disease. She was very much bent on preventing patients reaching end-stage kidney disease."
Dr Kincaid-Smith's family said they would remember a talented trailblazer whose passion for her work never detracted from family life.
"Her success stands by itself, but I think the thing that stands out is that she was able to balance it all," her son, Professor Christopher Fairley, said.
"It sounds preposterous that a woman would have to give up her job just because she was married. She couldn't believe that there would be such a rule.
"She always had heaps of energy for us. My brother and I were quite dyslexic but she read all our schoolbooks onto tape for us.
"I couldn't read at that time and so the audio coming through, and seeing the words, almost certainly got me through my VCE exam and that meant that I got into medicine.
"People sometimes think you can't have it all. Well, she did."
'You had to jump a higher bar as a woman'
One of four children, Dr Kincaid-Smith was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on November 30, 1926.
A talented swimmer and hockey player, she was more interested in sport than attending classes, but being obviously bright she began university at just 16.
Though she wanted to study physical education, she was too young and ended up in a medical science degree where she topped most of her classes and ultimately discovered her love of medicine.
She studied and worked in South Africa and England, where she met her husband Ken Fairley, before relocating to Australia in the late 1950s.
But upon arriving, Dr Kincaid-Smith found that although in London she was a highly acclaimed, dual-qualified physician and pathologist, she was unable to work in Australia because she was married.
"It sounds preposterous that a woman would have to give up her job just because she was married," Professor Fairley said.
It was not just the law Dr Kincaid-Smith had to battle, with both subtle and outspoken gender discrimination rife in the Australian scientific community.
"She clearly fulfilled the criteria for promotion within the university but was held back by some men who were ideologically opposed to the idea that women can work," Professor Fairley said.
"Some women also felt she shouldn't be working, so she had to battle it on two fronts.
"She told me once she was at a swimming spot and one of the mothers turned around to her and said: 'It would be terrible to have to work.'
"This concept that you work because you loved your work, that you could love your family and your work and do both extremely well was almost foreign to Australian society at that time.
"You had to jump a higher bar as a woman than you did as a man to get recognition."
Despite the harassment, Dr Kincaid-Smith went on to play a pioneering role in renal disease research, working as one half of a team with her husband.
Professor Fairley said his father's support for his wife's career put him out of step with many other men at the time.
Priscilla Kincaid-Smith will be remembered as a trailblazer whose passion for her work never detracted from family life. (Supplied)
"It was really dad who was magnificent in his support for her at that period of time when Australia was riddled with entrenched sexism," he said.
"He is a man who was almost half a century ahead of his time in his thinking. With that support she flourished and got incredibly excited by the research and discoveries.
"When we as kids watched them at home interact about their research findings, it was like two kids in a honey pot and they just loved it."
Ms Fairley said: "She and my father together pieced together that causation between headache powders and this terrible lesion of the kidneys.
"She then lobbied the governments successfully to change the formulation of those products to remove the addictive components in them.
"She combined a remarkable career and contributed greatly to not only the health of the nation in Australia, but also internationally to the areas of research she was involved in.
Encouraged by her husband, Dr Kincaid-Smith went back to work just three weeks after having twin boys and later again returned soon after giving birth to her daughter.
When Dr Kincaid-Smith died on Saturday she was surrounded by family.
"You couldn't have hoped for more and that was testament to how close her family was to her," Professor Fairley said.
"She said: 'It is a challenge having kids and working, but just remember, there's only one thing that matters, that your kids know you love them.'
"And she certainly achieved that."
The Guardian ~ London ~ Tuesday 4 August 2015
Women in prostitution won't be protected by Amnesty's plan
By Julie Bindel
The organisation's flawed decriminalisation proposals will instead protect those who profit from the sale of women working in the sex trade
Scroll down for link to sign Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International's Petition: "Vote NO to Decriminalizing Pimps, Brothel Owners, and Buyers of Sex"
‘The gross mistreatment of women in this vile industry is clear to see. Why is it that Amnesty, supposed champion of the oppressed, fails to see this?' (Andrew Medichini/AP)
For the majority of people, the controversy surrounding Amnesty International and its proposed prostitution policy is a non-story. This is for the simple reason that most will assume that decriminalisation means not arresting the women. When Amnesty promotes the notion that the decriminalisation of sex workers will protect their human rights, they fail to explain that this would apply to all those whose business is associated with the sex trade: pimps, brothel-owners, pornographers, and others who profit from the sale of women.
A number of survivors who have left the sex trade have spoken about how they survived while still involved, which includes insisting to themselves and to others that they were making a free and happy choice to sell sex.
When I exposed Amnesty's plan to campaign on decriminalising the entire sex trade in a national newspaper, I did so in the knowledge that feminists had been fighting this battle with senior policymakers for some years. Amnesty had been experiencing pressure both inside and outside of the organisation to put the human rights of women on the Amnesty agenda. This was partially achieved when it launched its violence against women strategy, but prostitution was never a part of it. So long as Amnesty was condemning child sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women from across borders within the sex industry, they seemed fine to ignore the rest of the grotesque, state-sanctioned abuse of adult women.
The whistleblower who approached me with the policy paper told me that she and other women in the organisation could not convince many of the men that decriminalisation would harm rather than help women in prostitution. Following my exposure, and the outcry from survivors of prostitution and feminists, Amnesty responded by promising that it would properly consult interested parties before deciding on the appropriate policy. This consultation exercise was carried out by an academic who is a well-known adherent of the pro-decriminalisation argument. During the consultation, no survivor group or other abolitionist organisation that are critical of the sex trade was consulted. The result – the new draft policy – was a foregone conclusion.
Amnesty has only released a short summary of this research, emphasising the accounts of a few sex workers, especially in Oslo, who have complained about police brutality. All who oppose Amnesty's policy also oppose police brutality against any and all people. Amnesty was established to protect people against this.
In the draft policy document, New Zealand is cited as a paradise of egalitarian prostitution, but according to its own government report, that is not quite the true story. Senior police officials have admitted that policing of organised crime in legal brothels is "patchy" and the regulation of brothels is "often woeful". One investigator noted that because of decriminalisation police were not required by law to investigate the goings-on, and organised criminals infiltrated the off-street sex industry. The gross mistreatment of women in this vile industry is clear to see. Why is it that Amnesty, supposed champion of the oppressed, fails to see this?
It has been argued, by those who support Amnesty's position, that criminalising the men who pay for sex will make it dangerous for those selling sex. But there is no credible evidence to suggest that criminalising sex buyers in Sweden and elsewhere has resulted in further danger to women working in prostitution.
The right of men to buy sex appears to be paramount, according to Amnesty. For example, in the 2014 leaked document it is stated that: "Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalise those who are unable or unwilling to fulfil that need through more traditionally recognised means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health ." If Amnesty stays true to its founding principles, it should be concentrating on those whose human rights are violated – in this case the women in the sex trade – as opposed to those, such as the sex buyers and pimps who believe it is their human right to violate others.
At its International Council Meeting to be held in Dublin, from 7–11 August 2015, Amnesty International will reportedly review an internal circular entitled “Draft Policy on Sex Work,” which endorses the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including the legalization of pimping, brothel owning and the buying of sex.
Medical professionals, the testimonies of survivors and extensive research all demonstrate that the sex industry is predicated on dehumanization, degradation and gender violence that can cause life-long physical and psychological harm to those exploited at the hands of pimps, traffickers and buyers of sex (or “johns”). Prostitution is a harmful practice steeped in gender and economic inequalities that leaves a devastating impact on those sold and exploited in the sex trade.
Please add your signature to this open letter, signed by more than 600 national and international women's rights groups, leading survivors of the sex trade, human rights advocates, medical doctors, Hollywood actors and directors, fashion designers, faith-based leaders and concerned individuals from over 30 countries, urging Amnesty International not to adopt any policy that supports the full decriminalization of the sex industry. This would, in effect, strengthen the pillars of a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the most marginalized and vulnerable populations for commercial sexual exploitation.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) firmly believes and agrees with Amnesty that human beings bought and sold in the sex trade, who are mostly women, must not be criminalized in any jurisdiction by law enforcement or governments. However, what Amnesty’s “Draft Policy on Sex Work” proposes is in violation of long established human rights principles, and women’s rights in particular, including the right to live a life free of violence and with dignity.
Please join the signers of this petition and signal to Amnesty International that we must hold accountable those who prey on vulnerable individuals with histories of poverty, homelessness and sexual abuse and ensure that everyone has the fundamental right not to be bought and sold.
Read signatories of CATW's open letter to Amnesty International HERE
Wednesday July 22, 2015
Australian sex tourists taking advantage of young women in the Philippines
By ROHAN SMITH
Peter, 8, and his mother Grace, 35, with a picture of Peter's Australian father, Max, who stuck around and provided for the family but recently stopped his payments. (Dave Tacon)
IN tiny houses a stone's throw from the red light district in one of the Philippines' most heavily-populated regions, young boys and girls are growing up without their Australian fathers.
The children, born to young prostitutes, will never know their dads. They stopped through like thousands of other Australian men do, looking for cheap sex with young Asian women. They found it, but when the women fell pregnant, the men fled. Others don't even know their children exist.
It's no surprise the offspring of Australians are growing up in Angeles City, the entertainment capital of the Philippines. It's practically a home away from home for many Australians, with hotel names like the Boomerang, the Swagman, the Eureka and the Walkabout.
They attract hordes of Australian men, thirsty for a drink and something else: A young woman for the night.
Described as "blow row" and a "supermarket of sex", the red light district 85km north west of Manila is a hotbed of debauchery and fantasies fulfilled. Money changes hands quickly and sex is a commodity.
Nights out on the infamous Fields Avenue are sold as innocent fun for tourists. But beneath it all is an undercurrent of sadness and heartbreak and crime. It's sex tourism targeted at and propagated by lonely, rich Australian men, and the consequences are long lasting for families left behind.
Journalist Margaret Simons toured Balibago recently. She wrote in The Monthly that she was one of the only western women in a city of tens of thousands of people.
The Swagman Resort, Angeles City.
More concerning still was her discovery that Australian men were fathering children to prostitutes and leaving them behind, either with knowledge of their birth or otherwise.
"Some of the fathers paid to support their children, then stopped. Some never paid at all. Some don't even know they have children," she wrote.
On her visit, she met Kevin, 10, who wants to be a pilot, and Francine, 7, who she says wants to be a teacher. Kevin's father, she said, was a paedophile in his 50s who groomed his victim from Australia using social media.
"Kevin lives ... in a 9-metre-square shed patched together with scraps of building refuse," she wrote.
She also met Judith, 19, who recently gave birth to three-month-old Jaden. His father picked her up in a bar and, according to the Monthly, doesn't know he has a son.
The story paints a picture of a poverty perpetuated by Australian men and a sex industry dominated by them.
"In the front bar of the Walkabout Hotel on Fields Avenue, you sit elbow-to-elbow with middle-aged, board-short-wearing Australian men who could have been plucked from any suburban shopping mall," Simons said.
"More of them are on the street, surrounded by women, moving like lords of creation."
Tourism figures support what she saw first hand. Of the almost five million foreign tourists who enter the Philippines each year, Australians are the third biggest spenders. They're not buying T-shirts and fridge magnets.
Dr Caroline Norma visited the Philippines in 1998, where she worked with an outreach program going bar-to-bar. She told underage women they had other choices and prostitution wasn't the only way.
Seventeen years later, she says little has changed, and that Australian men are the biggest problem.
"Australian men were everywhere then," she told news.com.au.
Dr Norma, who teaches global and social studies at RMIT University, says Australian men are "taking advantage" of a sex industry driven by poverty and corruption.
"I did an internship with a women's organisation and we did outreach to bars in 1998. By that stage, Australian men were everywhere, even as bar owners," she said.
Francine, 7, doesn't know her Australian father. She lives in a slum with her mother and the rest of her family. (Dave Tacon)
"Back then I was surprised because Australia didn't have a military presence in the Philippines like America. There were Americans over there but that was slightly more understandable."
She said she was not surprised to learn Australian men are still flocking to the Philippines because the attraction to Asian women in prostitution is stronger than ever.
"Prostitution of Asian women has become almost the model for prostitution in Australia," she said.
"Rates of Asian women in Australian brothels are about 50 per cent. The research that's been done in Australia all points towards increasing numbers of Asian women in Australian brothels."
Margaret Simons wrote that in Angeles City, "the entire town with a population of about 350,000 is a brothel, and its support system".
Al Jazeera reported earlier this year that $400m is spent on prostitution in the Philippines each year, a large chunk of that from the pockets of Australian sex tourists.
A website promoting Balibago (balibago.com) makes it easy to see why. It promotes young women as sexual slaves.
"In a city that never sleeps, these women are desperate to show you a good time and are known for their love of recreational sex," the website declares.
"Praised for their tolerance to western culture, these girls are hungry to meet you regardless of your age, weight, physical appearance, interpersonal skills, wealth or social class."
Another website explains how a typical night on Fields Avenue might go and offers tips for visitors. It describes how to procure a lady for the night.
Men there pay bar fines an amount of money to a bar owner to secure a prostitute for the night or longer. The money buys them sex and even the "girlfriend experience".
Margaret Simons said Australian men are looking for underage women. That's the reason they go. Others don't ask the age of the prostitute, but are equally complicit in keeping the sex trafficking industry thriving.
"Australians are also one of the groups most active in child sex tourism, although in Angeles City, it seems, most of this is not "preferential" but situational men who have sex with prostitutes and simply don't care about their age," she wrote.
Judith, 19, and her three-month-old son, Jaden. (Dave Tacon)
Dr Norma agrees.
"This idea that western men don't know the age of Asian women because they look the same (as other Asian woman) is false," she told news.com.au.
"Even in western counties, the average age of entry into prostitution is 16, 15, 14. Men who seek to prostitute girls are looking for younger girls. Any pimp will tell you 'the younger the better'."
The Philippines, sadly, is the not the only Asian country where sex tourism has taken hold. It has been happening in Thailand for generations. Disturbingly, it has also increased in Nepal following the deadly earthquake that killed more than 9000 people in April this year.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), children who lost their families when entire villages were destroyed have been trafficked into the sex industry.
Tomoo Hozumi, working with UNICEF in Nepal, said he feared a surge in trafficking during the chaos of April and May and his fears were realised.
"Loss of livelihoods and worsening living conditions may allow traffickers to easily convince parents to give their children up for what they are made to believe will be a better life," he said.
"The traffickers promise education, meals and a better future. But the reality is that many of those children could end up being horrendously exploited and abused."
Trafficking in the Philippines happens for similar reasons.
Dr Norma said much of the problem is generational a young girls' mother is a prostitute and her daughter follows in her footsteps. It's mostly driven by poverty but she said Australian men can't shy away from their part in the problem.
"Poverty is one thing, but it's also lax laws on foreign ownership of businesses, there's lax laws in relation to employing children and having them on the bar plus corruption on top of that. Having said that, Australian men are taking advantage of the whole thing."
Pole dancers perform at 'Dolls House' go-go bar, one of the largest establishments on Fields Avenue. (Dave Tacon) .
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