Recent Resources for Feminists
Jocelynne Scutt {Editor]: Women, Law and Culture - Conformity, Contradiction and Conflict Print E-mail

January 2017
Women, Law and Culture - Conformity, Contradiction and Conflict by Jocelynne A. Scutt (Editor)
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Crime and Society
Critical Criminology
Criminological Theory
Gender Studies
Ethnicity Studies
Criminal Law


Jocelynne A. Scutt is a Barrister and Human Rights Lawyer, member of the Inner Temple (London) and Victorian Bar (Melbourne), and Visiting Professor and Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Buckingham, UK, where she teaches Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Administrative Law, and Sex, Gender and Minorities in Law.

This book explores cultural constructs, societal demands and political and philosophical underpinnings that position women in the world. It illustrates the way culture controls women's place in the world and how cultural constraints are not limited to any one culture, country, ethnicity, race, class or status. Written by scholars from a wide range of specialists in law, sociology, anthropology, popular and cultural studies, history, communications, film and sex and gender, this study provides an authoritative take on different cultures, cultural demands and constraints, contradictions and requirements for conformity generating conflict.

Women, Law and Culture is distinctive because it recognises that no particular culture singles out women for 'special' treatment, rules and requirements; rather, all do. Highlighting the way law and culture are intimately intertwined, impacting on women - whatever their country and social and economic status - this book will be of great interest to scholars of law, women’s and gender studies and media studies.

Introduction – Jocelynne A. Scutt

Part I
Identity & Representation
1.       Robin Joyce, ‘It’s Time to Go’ ‘You’re Fired – Australian Big Brother (2005) and Britain’s The Apprentice (2014)
2.       Anna Morcom, Modern Laws, Human Rights and Marginalisation of Courtesan and Transgender Performers in India
3.       Susan SM Edwards, Targeting Muslims Through Women’s Dress – The Niqab and the Psychological War Against Muslims
4.       Nahda Shehada, The Asymmetrical Representation of Gender in Islamic Family Law
5.       Shadia Edwards-Dashti, War, Conflict and Gender Ideologies – Middle Eastern Images and Realities

Part II
Place & Space
6.       Karen Buczynski-Lee, Woman as Cabbage to Women as Prime Ministers and Presidents – Demanding Women’s Rightful Space in the Film & Television Industry
7.       Gisele Yasmeen, Accessing Urban Public Space for a Livelihood – India, Thailand and Philippines in Comparative Perspective
8.       Greta Bird & Jo Bird, ‘No Place Like Home’ – The Human Rights of Women in Aged-Care
9.       Amy Gaudion, Defending Your Country … and Gender – Legal Challenges and Opportunities Confronting Women in the Military
10.   Pragna Patel, ‘No Place for a Woman’ – Harmful Practices, Religion and State Responses

Part II
Bodily & Psychic Integrity
11.   Patmalar Ambikapathy Thuraisingham, ‘For the Husband is the Head of the Wife’: Ephesians 5 – Sustaining Violence Against Women – Past and Present, Law and Culture
12.   Cathryn Goodchild, ‘Why Does He Abuse? Why Does She Stay?’ – Social and Cultural Roots of Domestic Abuse
13.   Lynette Dumble, Commodification of Women and Girls at Home – The Festering of India’s Male Violence
14.   Jeanne Sarson & Linda MacDonald, Seeking Equality – Justice and Women’s and Girls Right not to be Subjected to Non-State Torture

Conclusion –
Up From Under – Women, Law, Culture - Jocelynne A. Scutt


Marie De Santis: Images Matter! Ditch the Demeaning Pink Pussy Hats! Print E-mail
  Tuesday January 17 2017

Betsy Hartmann: Ten Ways to Build a Broad Progressive Movement against Trump Print E-mail

 Monday, December 12, 2016

Ten Ways to Build a Broad Progressive Movement to Defeat Trump

by Betsy Hartmann

People rally as they take part in a protest against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. (Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty)

1. Figure out the whole recipe.

There are many reasons Trump won and Hillary lost. Rather than fight over what’s the most important one, it’s more productive to explore the insidious ways different ingredients -- class resentment, white supremacy, patriarchy, nativism, media bias, Clinton elitism, voter suppression, the Electoral College, to name a few -- blended together to produce such a toxic stew.

2. Cut people some slack, and network, network, network.

The holier-than-thou variety of identity politics has got to go. In building a broad coalition, we’ll have to work with people who don’t always pass the ideological purity test, but who will have our backs when push comes to shove. In Trump’s America, safety will be in our numbers. Without sacrificing core principles, we need to build political bridges whenever and wherever we can.

3. In watching the circus, strip the mask off the clown.

Mainstream media promoted the Trump spectacle to rake in advertising revenues. Now they’ll invite us to watch the daily circus of his blunders. As Trump acts like a deranged clown teetering on the tight rope, Steve Bannon will play the ringmaster and Mike Pence the loyal foil. But it’s not a circus and Trump’s not a clown. What’s going down is dead serious.

4. Speak the new F-word -- Fascism.

While it’s too soon to say we’re definitively on the road to fascism, we need to monitor and resist the possibility at every turn. One thing is clear: right-wing populism is on the rise in the U.S. and Europe, and around the globe. White supremacist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim forces are cooperating across national borders. As the Far Right becomes more transnational in focus and organization, so must we.

5. Support the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders’ strong run in the Democratic primary is just the beginning, not the end. However, it will take sustained political pressure from inside and outside the party to dislodge the old guard and move the party forwards. Now is the time to step in, not back.

6. Create positive models for the future.
While the Republicans now dominate national politics, many spaces to make change exist at the local, state and regional levels. We should prepare now for Trump’s defeat in 2020 by having progressive social, economic, labor, and environmental policies and programs in place that can be rapidly scaled up.

6. Stand up for your rights and those of others.
In the face of a Trump strategy to divide and conquer, we need to make a firm commitment to the indivisibility of basic human rights and civil liberties. While each of us may have a particular set of rights we work on, we should resist the idea that we’ll be stretched too thin if we support other struggles too. In unity there is strength.

7. Prepare to defend the communities most vulnerable to right-wing attacks.
The sanctuary movement is a positive example of what can be done in anticipation of Trump’s anti-immigrant crackdown. So is the strengthening of coalitions to fight hate crimes and hateful policies against people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, and people with disabilities. We need to plan now how to make critical health services, including abortion, available and accessible to people denied them.

8. Ramp up pressure on fossil fuel and other polluting industries.
Even under Obama, the political power of the fossil fuel industry put a brake on climate progress. Under Trump it will be far worse. But as Standing Rock and other pipeline struggles prove, protest is powerful. We all belong in the fight for climate justice and clean air, water, and food. At the same time we shouldn’t turn our backs on workers and communities dependent on these industries. The transition to renewable energy should include new jobs for those who will lose out.

9. Revitalize the peace movement.
Our country is in a state of permanent war. That wouldn’t have changed under Hillary who is more of a hawk than Obama. Trump’s national security appointments and cavalier attitudes toward torture and nuclear weapons pose grave new dangers, however. The time is ripe to come together to build a new kind of peace movement, one that opposes U.S. militarism at multiple levels – from police shootings of black people, to border enforcement, to the war on drugs, to the prison-industrial complex, to the arms and nuclear industries, to U.S. military interventions overseas. They all feed and bleed into one other. Alliances with veterans, first responders, and progressive law enforcement officials are essential. The veterans who came to Standing Rock are showing the way.

10. Stay optimistic.
It sounds like a truism, but it’s true. As the late, great radical historian Howard Zinn wrote almost 30 years ago, “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness… If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction…The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Betsy Hartmann is the author of The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Call to Greatness, forthcoming in spring 2017 from Seven Stories Press. The third edition of her book Reproductive Rights and Wrongs has recently been published by Haymarket Books. See

India: Despite Telangana's Vasectomy Fortnight women left bearing the brunt of crude family planning Print E-mail

 Sunday December 18 2016


The sterilisation skew

By Rohit P.S.

A public awareness campaign with banners about ‘Vasectomy week'.  (Special Arrangement )

A fortnight after the national ‘Vasectomy Fortnight', the Telangana experience reveals the gap in India's family planning programme

Sterilisation is simpler in men than women ­ recovery time and surgical risk are smaller, complications are rare and deaths rarer. Yet, as the national ‘Vasectomy Fortnight' came to end earlier this month, the writing on the wall is clear: men are unwilling to share the burden of birth control.

The government observed ‘Vasectomy Fortnight' between November 21 and December 4 with the hope to create awareness about male sterilisation and, more importantly, to facilitate district administrations reach sterilisation targets through campaigns. Of the 40 lakh sterilisation procedures done in 2014-15, vasectomies accounted for minuscule 1.9 per cent.

Experiments in the country's youngest State, Telangana, reveal the sterilisation gap in India's family planning programme. This fortnight, five men walked into the vasectomy camp in Ranga Reddy, a district adjoining Telangana's capital Hyderabad with a 25 lakh population. The district administration managed to convince them to opt for the procedure. A second camp on December 8 found no takers and officials have renewed efforts to draw more men before the end of the financial year. With an annual target of 2,500 vasectomies this year ­ the district's count stands at 5. Last year's numbers only seem marginally better with 37 men undergoing the procedure. The State paid them Rs.1,100 each for undergoing sterilisation while the 24,000 women who underwent sterilisation were paid Rs.880 per person.

Counselling the key
"Vigorous campaigning, efficient counselling and post-operative services as well as education are real differentiators," says Renu Kapoor of the Family Planning Association of India. She pegs the lack of willingness to share the burden of contraception on a misplaced sense of masculinity.

"Men who avail vasectomies at our centres are educated and from organised work sectors. They do not require much counselling but have queries. They have heard of it from other men," Dr. Kapoor says. She stressed the importance of counselling in understanding the strong likelihood of pregnancy for three months after the procedure. Her observations suggest most men from middle- and higher-income groups who decide to undergo vasectomy arrive with their partners for counselling and the procedure; most women who opt for sterilisation, mainly from low-income groups, seek counsel of other women.

India's total fertility rate of 2.3 is expected to sink below 2 within the next decade. Telangana's fertility rate reached replacement levels before the State came into being in 2014 ­ "replacement level fertility" is when the total fertility rate, i.e. the average number of children born per woman is the same as the dying population, implying that the population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next. The third round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) done a decade ago established that undivided Andhra Pradesh had recorded fertility rate of 1.8.

The latest survey in 2015 affirmed Telangana's fertility rate stood at 1.8 births per woman. "For men, concerns of losing sexual potency and physical vigour make them unwilling to discuss vasectomy," says Harish Chandra Reddy, health official in Ranga Reddy district. "A small number of unintended pregnancies and a few unfavourable post-vasectomy fallouts seem to have thrown it out of the reckoning."

Experts maintain that the gap between vasectomy targets and achievements remain unchanged over the years even as country's fertility and birth rates continue to fall, driven mainly by female sterilisation.

Tubectomies still the norm
Despite aggressive promotional campaigns over the last decade, only a small proportion of couples use State-distributed condoms (0.5 per cent in 7,786 Telangana households surveyed in 2015), oral contraceptives (0.3 per cent), intra-uterine devices (0.3 per cent) and male sterilisation to prevent birth. Of the 77,000 sterilisation procedures performed in the State' s public health sector till October 2016, only 1,287 or 1.6 per cent were vasectomies. In the two years since Telangana's creation, vasectomies as a percentage of total sterilisations stood at 3 per cent, unchanged over the last decade. The State's health administration, under no pressure to reach targets given that Telangana has achieved replacement level fertility, aims to perform around two lakh sterilisations this year. If last year's numbers are any indication, one lakh more Telangana women will undergo sterilisation in the next three months.

An analysis of family health data published in 2012 reveals that up to 5 per cent women who underwent sterilisation before 2006 regret doing so, either because they feel they were too young at the time or because they opted for it without having any sons. The study noted that in States with lowest fertility rates, including undivided Andhra Pradesh, the median age of women being sterilised was around 23.

"Lack of gender equality, vulnerability of women and early marriages makes them agreeable to mass sterilisation programmes," says women's rights activist Rukmini Rao. "In rural India, women are against their husbands undergoing vasectomies fearing it may rob the family of its means of earnings and cast aspersions on them should pregnancy ensue after vasectomy."

Women's rights activists across the country had discussed and commented on the National Policy for Women when the government introduced the draft in May. Among other things, the policy envisages shifting focus of the country's family planning programme to male sterilisations but those like Dr. Rao who participated in the discussions remain highly sceptical. She believes sterilisation should be the last option of birth control.

India: 2 yrs post-18 women's deaths in tubectomy camp, State's sterilisation obsession prevails Print E-mail

Scroll India ~ Saturday November 12, 2016

Two years after 18 women died at tubectomy camp, little has changed at India's sterilisation drives

Scenes from an event in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh.

(Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

In the second week of November 2014 ,18 women died in government sterilisation camps in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh. Two years later and 430 kilometres away, a camp was held in Parasia block of Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh that was similar in many ways to the one in Bilaspur.

It was November 9, a Wednesday, the day of the week when sterilisation camps are held at community health centres in the district. This camp, therefore, was a routine exercise and well-entrenched in the government health services system. On Wednesdays in Chhindwara, regular hospital check-ups and consultations are closed in order to conduct these camps.

Notice on the door about closure of out-patient services on the day of the sterlisation camp at the community health centre in Harrai, Chhindwara. (Nikhil Srivastav)

Despite being organised in an accredited health centre, unlike the camps held in an abandoned building in Bilaspur or at a school in Bihar, this camp was chaotic. Twenty eight women, none of whom looked older than 30, were lying sedated on the floor of a hall. A few auxillary nurse midwives and a female doctor were standing by to assist them.

Each woman was accompanied by an accredited social health activist or ASHA to an adjacent room where she was made to sit on the steps of one of the two inclined operating tables, ready to go as soon as woman before her was finished. Women who had been sterilised were carried back to the hall by one of the male assistants. No stretchers were available.

A team comprising of a male surgeon, two nurses and two male assistants worked with utmost speed. A sterilisation, timed from the moment a woman was made to lie on the operating table to being carried out, took an astounding four and a half minutes. The team moved swiftly between the two operating tables, doing two operations simultaneously. As soon as the surgeon finished the crucial cuts and moved to the next table, the nurses completed the procedure on the previous one.

Inclined operating tables used for tubectomies. (Nikhil Srivastav)

It is clear that given the time frame, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the medical as well as safety and hygiene protocols laid down in the Standards and Quality Assurance in Sterilisation Services of 2014 or those in the Reference Manual for Female Sterilisation, 2014.

The medical team also allowd little time between giving a patient local anaesthesia and making the incision. According to the Reference Manual for Female Sterilisation, 2014, which provides uniform standards for surgical technique, the onset of action of the usual dose of local anathesia is typically within three to five minutes. The effect of anathesia is to be confirmed before making the incision or surgery through continuous oral communication. None of this was done. It could very well be the case that to maintain the time, incision was made even before anathesia could have its effect, defeating the very purpose of pain management.

One of the guidelines from the Standards and Quality Assurance in Sterilisation Services of 2014 is that the camp timing should be between 9 am to 5 pm. This is particularly important in areas such as this where lack of public transport, early sunsets in winter, and remote locations of the villages around forests make it particularly hard for women and their families to reach home in the evening. At 7 pm not even half of the women had been operated upon. There was no arrangement for them to stay the night, either. The recently operated women, mostly in pain and still sedated, and their families were likely left to fend for themselves. So much for the government’s concept of “family welfare”.

The state’s claims of a target-free approach to family planning rings hollow when one speaks to ASHAs, who are often called the backbone of government’s rural health schemes. The ASHAs confirmed that they were expected to get at least two to three women from her village each month to one of these Wednesday camps. Many were worried about not having reached their target for this month due to festivals, and said that they would have to make up for it in the coming months.

Writing on the wall that says, "Chase away poverty and disease, get sterilised after having one or two children." (Nikhil Srivastav)

Female sterilisation continues to be the main method of family planning in India. The annual health survey of 2012-2013 reports that 59.4% women used any modern method of contraception in Madhya Pradesh. Out of that, 48.7% were sterilised, which is to say that out of total number of women using modern methods, almost 82% have been sterilised. For Chhindwara, it is 82.7 %.

Female sterilisation has been one of the most discussed topics and an area of substantial activism for decades in an otherwise neglected field of women’s health in India. Yet, things have not improved, indicating just how poorly India values the wellbeing of its women. The rhetoric of empowerment, choice and autonomy does not stand true when women, mostly from low-income, adivasi and dalit families, are herded into camps to be cut open and sewed back in less than five minutes. Some are lucky to survive. Others like those in Bihar, Bilaspur and Balaghat, die or suffer gravely to satisfy the state’s never-ending obsession with population control.

Kanika Sharma is an M.Phil scholar at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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