Recent Resources for Feminists
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Put the date in you diary!
Wednesday 25 November 2015
Wednesday 25 November 2015, at Federation Square Melbourne for the annual Walk against Family Violence (WAFV).The United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to domestic violence, rape and other forms of violence. A key aim of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.
This year’s event is expected to be bigger and stronger so please join us, and encourage your friends, family and friends to do the same. Look forward to seeing you there!
Sunday March 22nd, 2015
The lynching of a woman in broad daylight in present-day KabulBy Carol Mann
On March 19th 2015, Farkhunda, a 27-year old woman completing her studies, was lynched by a mob in a Kabul street for being suspected of setting alight a copy of the Q’uran or a Tawiz (an amulet, it’s not clear). The family ‘s first reaction (that is to say, before demanding justice), seems to have been explanatory, nearly apologetic, claiming she was suffering severe mental problems and depressiona condition which according to research affects a significant proportion of the female population in Afghanistan. One hardly needs to wonder why.
Farkhunda’s fate reminds me of the execution of Zarmina in a public stadium in Kabul by the Taliban, in the closing years of the XXth century. This was the time that I came into contact with a then very active, but still unknown, militant group in Afghanistan, RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. This secular, egalitarian group was the only one fighting the Soviet intervention not from a religious point of view but from a socialist alternative standpoint.
Documenting Taliban abuses was one of its aims. Thus, one brave woman smuggled in a camera to the stadium and hid it in the folds of her blue burqa to film Zarmina’s execution. Had she been spotted, she would have been killed along with her comrades. I was sent this film in Paris with the hope of showing it on TV. This being pre-9/11, it did not interest anyone at the time, one company telling me that the quality was too poor to be aired on public media! Naturally when Afghanistan became the flavour of the new millennium, these images were immediately appropriated by prominent spokespeople in the name of self-righteous, if tardy, indignation. It took me several years to get the real hero over to Paris to tell her tale on TV. Just to remind you: the images show a female figure in a burqa being dragged to the centre of the stadium by other similarly clad women (presumably policewomen) , made to sit and then shot by an executioner in a turban behind her, firing with a Kalashnikov. Apparently thousands were forced to look on, including the hapless victim’s seven children. Zarmina’s fate became a cause célèbre after 9/11, it was shown as a true example of Taliban evil, complete with sinister beards and head-dresses. The film went global and served to legitimate the US and Allied intervention on the promise, as G.W. Bush repeatedly mouthed, of liberating Afghan women from such outrages and bringing them Western-style democracy and human rights, etc.
Fast forward to now, Now Ruz 2015. Zarmina’s twins (whom she was allowed to wean before being executed) are now adults. The US intervention has come and practically gone, purportedly having created the basis for democracy. Admittedly schools, hospitals have been built, a class of urbanized educated women has been somewhat empowered, the foundations for a possible state have been laidat least on paper. The only overriding achievement is that henceforth Afghanistan is the world capital for the cultivation of the opium poppy and cannabis and provides over 75% of the planet’s consumption of these drugs, despite the billions spent in attempted eradication.
Compared to the modest statistics in Taliban times, this, in terms of cynical numbers, is the single greatest Afghan success story of recent times, far more considerable than the reduction of maternal and child mortality which continue to be catastrophic.
Look (if you can stomach it) at the horrific images of Farkhunda’s lynching. Again a totally veiled woman, no face showing, like Zarmina, savagely beaten with sticks, and stoned until she is but a bleeding rag-doll. But scrutinise the henchmen shouting Allah-u-Akhbar. No bearded Taliban here or shalwar-kamiz, but young men, some teenagers, slick short hair, leather jackets, jeans, wielding sticks and cell phones to film the scene. One executioner proudly posted the scene on his Facebook page. Looking just like their contemporaries anywhere on the planet, these kids do not appear to be older than 25, which means that they all benefited, however diminutively, from the possibilities afforded to them by the nascent institutions of Post-Taliban Afghanistan. Something comparable could be said for all the thousands leaving Europe and parts of North Africa (especially Tunisia) to join the ranks of ISIS. They are not all illiterate and starving, nor victims of some imperialist plot. Nor were the uniformed and armed Kabuli policemen, however poorly paid, who were calmly watching the lynching.
Are we asking the right questions? For a start, there is no real ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Taliban but a continuum of abuse against human rights in Afghanistan, which started to escalate more dramatically as from the Civil War, (after the collapse of the pro-Communist regime) between warlords, some of whom are still in power. Should one be surprised that officials in the government and clerics came out in support for the lynching? As far as I am aware, the public murder did not make the immediate headlines in Afghanistan or Pakistan. From Thursday when it happened until Saturday evening, I hardly saw it posted on any Afghan Facebook pages that I subscribe to either, except from a couple of outraged individuals not representing anyone. I am willing to be proven wrong. There were more details to be had from the Western press, suitably and predictably horrified..
My permanently angry friend FS suggested that one should think the situation out in the light of the Charlie Hebdo issue. Hapless Farkhunda, it seems, was not burning anything at all but the suspicion of sacrilege seems to have been enough to warrant and justify her public lynching with the tacit blessing of the authorities. Three interlocked features have been normalized here: first the undefined notion of blasphemy overriding constitutional law which in turn removes citizenship and human dignity from anyone suspected of committing what any other (male) individual may consider a felony. This in turn allows any (male) person the right to represent divine justice and turn himself into an executioner. For what it was worth, Zarmina went through some semblance of a Taliban-style trial but Farkhunda was murdered point-blank in broad daylight, in a crowded neighbourhood.
The notion of state, already moribund with Karzai, seems to have entirely disappeared in Ashraf Ghani’s Afghanistan. Like everywhere else, the condition of women’s rights constitutes the only valid indicator for the maintenance or absence of true democracy and human rights. In Afghanistan once again, this tragedy with a woman’s death at its epicentre is a symptom of the potential collapse of the state if real justice is not carried out and human rights not enforced by law. The women clad in black carrying Farkhunda’s coffin today may well be burying their hopes and futures for a better world.
London ~ Monday 23 March 2015
Women break with tradition in Afghanistan to help bury 'completely innocent' Farkhunda who was beaten to death by Kabul mob
A mob beat the 27-year-old woman to death before throwing her body off a roof, running it over with a car, setting it on fire and then throwing it in a river
By Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
The burial of a woman who was brutally killed in Kabul for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran, saw Afghan women break with tradition on Sunday and help to carry the 27-year-old’s coffin to its final resting place.
The woman, now named as Farkhunda, was beaten to death by a mob in Kabul last week following accusations she had burned a copy of the Koran. The mob of men threw her body off a roof after beating her, ran over it with a car, set it on fire and then threw it into a river next to a well-known mosque in their brutal attack.
Farkhunda, a veiled woman who had just finished a degree in religious studies and was about to take up a teaching post, had got into a dispute with a group of men who sold amulets at the Shah-Do Shamshera shrine, her family said. She had told women not to waste their money on the amulets, calling the sellers parasites.
Farkhunda had been wrongly accused of burning a copy of the Koran People chanted 'we want justice' as Farkhunda was buried
A man holds up a picture of Farkhuna as he attends her funeral
Her father, Mohammed Nadir, said the men responded by claiming Farkhunda had torched the Koran, causing people to believe she was “not a Muslim” and for her to be beaten to death.
But authorities have been “unable to find any singly iota of evidence to support claims that she had burned a Koran,” the country’s top criminal investigator, General Mohammed Zahir said.
“She is completely innocent,” he added, revealing that 13 people had now been arrested in connection with the killing, including two men who sold amulets. Thirteen policemen have been suspended pending investigation following allegations members of the force stood by and did nothing to stop the attack from happening last Thursday.
Hundreds attended the funeral, which was broadcast live Farkhunda has been found 'completely innocent' of her alleged crime
Activists called for justice and claimed the killing demonstrated how women are treated as second class citizens in Afghanistan
Farkhunda’s funeral was broadcast live on Sunday and was addressed by politicians, officials and senior police officers. Hundreds of people gathered at the graveyard chanting “we want justice” while the women who attended to help bury her carried the coffin from an ambulance to an open-air burial ground and finally her grave.
The women attendees, who are usually excluded from these rituals, were surrounded by a group of men who had formed a chain to offer them protection and support as they carried Farkhunda’s coffin.
Farkhunda’s brother Najibullah told the crowd: “She is a sister to you all, and it is your duty to bury her.”
Men formed a protective chain around the female pallbearers
Farkhunda had completed a degree in religious studies and was about to take up a teaching post
Farkhunda's brother denied reports his sister had suffered from mental health issues Najibullah said he is changing his second name to Farkhunda in memory of his sister, and denied media reports his sister had been mentally ill. He said this claim was a made-up defence by his father, who had wanted to protect his family after police told them to leave the city for their own safety.
President Ashraf Ghani, now in Washington on his first state visit to the United States since taking office in September, condemned the killing as a “heinous attack” and ordered the current investigation.
Activists have condemned the killing, calling for justice for Farkhunda and for women in Afghanistan.
Thirteen men have been arrested and as many policemen suspended in connection with the killing.
Activists lay in Farkhunda's grave before she was buried
Women do not traditionally attend burial rituals “We want justice for Farkhunda, we want justice for Afghan women. All these injustices happening to Afghan women are unacceptable,” a prominent women’s rights activist, known as Dr Alima, said.
“In which religion or faith is it acceptable to burn a person to death? Today is a day of national mourning and we will not keep quiet.”
Despite the end of the Taliban’s rule in 2001 following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the supposed end to the restrictions placed on women under the previous regime, activists claim women are still treated as second-class citizens.
Under the Taliban, women could neither attend school nor work, and were forbidden from leaving the house without a male guardian.
While the last decade has seen much progress, with millions of girls now attending school and women entering employment, particularly in major cities, some rural areas have seen little changed and hard-won rights are at risk of being reversed as aid and foreign troops are withdrawn.
Additional reporting by agencies
Sunday March 15, 2015
Afghanistan: Woman wears metal underwear to protest against sexual harassment, goes into hidingAP
Afghan performance artist Kubra Khademi was just 4 years old the first time she was molested by a stranger on the street, and recalls thinking one thing "I wish I had a metal underwear". (AP)
Kabul: Afghan performance artist Kubra Khademi was just 4 years old the first time she was molested by a stranger on the street, and recalls thinking one thing: "I wish my underwear was made of iron."
So more than 20 years later she donned a suit of armour with large breasts and buttocks and wore it on the streets of Kabul to protest Afghanistan's endemic harassment.
The eight-minute performance was not well received: She is now in hiding and afraid for her life. But after a lifetime of being pinched and prodded on the streets and being told to keep quiet about it the 27 year old is determined to break her deeply conservative society's silence on sexual harassment.
Women, even those who wear the all-encompassing burka, regularly endure verbal abuse and unwanted touching in Afghanistan, where the fight for gender equality is still in its infancy. After more than a decade of activism, girls are still sold into marriage, domestic violence goes largely unpunished, and few women occupy positions of public responsibility.
Khademi was four when a stranger touched her bottom while she was walking to a shop near her family's home in Quetta, Pakistan, where they had joined a tide of refugees fleeing war and the brutal rule of the ultra-conservative Taliban. She was molested in the streets on many other occasions throughout her life, including one instance shortly after she had returned to Afghanistan in 2008 to take entrance exams to study fine arts at Kabul University.
On that occasion, she screamed, assuming someone would come to her aid. Instead, the crowd turned on her.
"All the people stared at me and even started yelling at me: 'You whore! How dare you scream! Did you enjoy it?'" Khademi told The Associated Press.
"Nobody saw that man. Maybe he was among the people shouting at me. This stuff happens daily and I see it. But if I am a 'good girl' I shouldn't say it, not to my mother, not to my brother, I shouldn't say it in public. But I will say it."
The repeated harassment and other deeply personal experiences inform her exhibitions, which can take years to evolve and yet last just minutes. A late 2013 performance at a Kabul gallery, which many viewers found distressing, consisted of her slapping both sides of her own face for almost an hour. She said she wanted to highlight her country's tolerance of violence after more than 30 years of war.
Ahead of her Feb. 26 suit of armor performance, she spent four months interviewing women about sex, sexuality and identity. Many stories were about cruelty and loss, but none of the women seemed to own their own experiences, she said.
"What I felt was the same: women do not have the right to enjoy, and should not have the right to enjoy. It's like food you desire to eat, but good women should not talk about it, good women should not enjoy it, good women should not have the right to think of it as her right," she said.
There undoubtedly have been improvements since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001. Billions of dollars in aid have poured into projects aimed at cutting maternal mortality rates, boosting women's access to health care and schooling, and educating police and the judiciary in enforcing constitutional guarantees of equality.
Khademi said the angry reactions from both men and women to her performance including death threats and accusations that she is an American spy are proof that Afghan society is changing.
But change is slow, and fear of change remains deeply entrenched.
When she put on the suit of armor and returned to the crowded Kabul neighborhood where she had been harassed in 2008, the crowd turned on her again. People threw stones and threatened to beat her, and after just eight minutes she declared the performance over and returned to her car, which was surrounded and damaged by the angry mob.
But amid the melee at least one person seemed to understand the message.
"Look at that girl," she recounted a boy saying who was about 10, not much older than she had been on that distant day in Quetta. "She doesn't want to be touched."
(Australian Edition) ~ Wednesday 25 February 2015
Sexual assault offender numbers in Australia jump by 19% in 2013-14
Australian Bureau of Statistics’ report, Recorded Crime – Offenders, shows 93% of offenders were male
The charge includes offences such as child sexual abuse and possessing child sexual abuse material. ( Dave Hunt/AAP)
By Melissa Davey and Nick Evershed
The number of people charged with sexual assault offences increased nationally by 19% in 2013-14, new data shows.
The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed people aged 10 and over with a principal charge of “sexual assault and related offences” increased to 7,175 in 2013-14, up from 6,006 the year before. As a rate per 100,000 people, this is an increase from 30.1 to 35.3 year-on-year.
Of those, 93% were male, the figures published as part of the Recorded Crime – Offenders report found.
As well as aggravated and non-aggravated sexual assault, the charge includes offences such as child sexual abuse and possessing child sexual abuse material.
A spokesman for the men’s family violence prevention organisation No to Violence, Rodney Vlais, said while it was difficult to say why there has been such a marked increase, he believed more people may be coming forward to report the offences.
“My sense is that the increasing community and public attention to violence against women occurring across much of Australia might be resulting in increased reporting of sexual [violence] against women in general, as well as violence against women in intimate relationships,” he said.
“Of course, reported sexual violence to police is just the tip of the iceberg, as most assaults go unreported, including sexual violence that men use against their intimate partners.”
The data also showed the number of youths with a principal offence of sexual assault and related offences increased from 1,369 in 2012-13 to 1,855 in 2013-14. That represented a jump of 36%.
The director of the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said this was driven by an increase in non-assaultive sexual offences of 48%.
“While we did see an increase in the number of youths reported for sexual assault and related offences, overall there was a 4% decline in the number of youth offenders,” he said.
There was also an increase in the rate of people charged with illicit drug offences, which rose from 322 per 100,000 people in 2012-13 to 351.4 in 2013-14. This increase was across all subcategories, including dealing or trafficking illicit drugs, manufacturing or cultivating illicit drugs, and possessing and/or using illicit drugs.
The rate of other categories of offences, such as homicide, property damage, and robbery and extortion have decreased over time.
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