Recent Resources for Feminists
Turkey: Murder of Ozgecan Aslan who resisted rape, a tipping point for the country's feminists Print E-mail

 Istanbul ~ Sunday February 15 2015

Turkey rallies over murder of woman who 'resisted rape'

By Selin Girit BBC News

 A woman with a bullet hole painted on her forehead takes part in a demonstration against the murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan, who was killed after she resisted an alleged attempt to rape her in the southern city of Mersin, in Ankara on Saturday

Women on the protest argue that violence against women has become more acceptable in Turkey in recent years

Thousands of women in Turkey have protested at the murder of a young woman who allegedly resisted an attempt by a bus driver to rape her.

Police discovered the burnt body of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, in a riverbed in the city of Mersin, on Friday.

They have arrested three men in connection with her death - a minibus driver, his father and a friend.

The Turkish president and prime minister called Ms Aslan's family to offer their condolences.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu promised the family to hunt those responsible for the crime and punish them.

Ms Aslan, a psychology student, was kidnapped on Wednesday on her way home.

The driver allegedly tried to rape her. She reportedly fought him off with pepper spray, but was then stabbed to death. She was also hit on the head with an iron pipe.

The brutality of the murder caused an outcry across Turkey.

Thousands of women staged protests in several cities on Saturday, including Ankara, Istanbul, and Mersin - Ms Aslan's hometown in southern Turkey.

In Istanbul, women activists held two separate protests to show their anger at the murder.

During the day, hundreds gathered behind a banner that read "Enough, we will stop the murder of women!"

In the evening, the crowd got bigger. Thousands of women of all ages and walks of life poured out to the streets.

A young woman, Bulay Dogan, said Ms Aslan's murder scared her.

"I'm afraid, because the same thing could happen to me or my friends. But on the other hand, I'm furious too. How can they [the murder suspects] be so reckless to do something like this?" she asked.

Also on the protests was a gender studies academic who would only give her first name, Zeynep. She thought Ms Aslan's murder was of a political nature too.

"It is the result of the radical Islamic atmosphere created by the government. The men say that women should be conservative. They think if they are not conservative, they deserve this kind of violence," she said.

'Soaring violence'
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has its roots in political Islam and has been in power since 2002.

Women's rights organisations say violence against women has risen sharply in the last decade.

Last year alone, almost 300 women were killed at the hands of men and more than 100 were raped, according to local reports.

Sevda Bayramoglu from Women for Peace Initiative demanded new legislation to protect women from violence.

"Men kill and rape and torture women. The state, the 'men's state', is protecting them. We expect the parliament to stop this violence," she said.

Ms Aslan's murder may become a rallying cause for activists seeking to end violence against women in Turkey.
The Independent ~ London ~ Sunday 15 February 2015

Street protests across Turkey after woman 'killed for resisting rape'

Protesters took to the streets in Ankara, Istanbul, and Mersin

By Jon Stone

Thousands of women’s rights activists have taken to the streets in cities across Turkey after a woman was allegedly killed for resisting an attempt to rape her.

The burnt body of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, was found in a riverbed in the city of Mersin in the south of the country on Friday.

Women in Mersin shout slogans against the murder of a woman as they hold a picture of Ozgecan Aslan Police have arrested three men in connection with the death: a minibus driver, his father, and a friend.

Officers believe the driver allegedly tried to rape Ms Aslan, who fought back with pepper spray but was then stabbed to death and beaten around the head with an iron pipe.

A woman shouts slogans during a demostration in Istanbul The murder has caused an outcry across Turkey and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdo an has telephoned the woman’s family to offer his condolences, according to BBC News.

Women turned out to protest in the capital Ankara Protests took place in the country’s capital Ankara, its largest city Istanbul, and Mersin itself.

Banners at the protest read “Enough, we will stop the murder of women!”

Other demonstrators carried pictures of Ms Aslan, whilst some performed protest dances.

The vast majority of the demonstrators were themselves women.
The Women for Peace Initiative
The Women for Peace Initiative was formed in May 2009 as a collective struggle against male dominance and war. Since then, the members of the initiative have been trying to make streets, homes, schools, and businesses into peaceful areas in order to both heighten the demand for peace and open the doorway to peace all around Turkey. Women are the ones who feel the consequences of war most severely; in ways such as migration, poverty, violence, rape, and discrimination. This is a result of policies which exclude women, decided upon by administrations which also exclude women. Money that should be used for education, health, development of women, and environmentalism, is instead spent on war, military operations, and bombs. The initiative struggles for a world in which no one is subjected to discrimination or violence because of their thoughts, beliefs, identities or sexual orientations; a world in which we live in peace.

UK: Dementia - Underfunded, and a triple whammy for women as carers, victims, & researchers Print E-mail
London ~ Saturday 14 February 2015

Dementia hits women hardest - study

Research finds disease now leading cause of death in British women; many are also carers before succumbing themselves
An MRI scan of a human brain. Women over 60 are now twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer. (Alamy)

By Robin McKie, science editor

Women are bearing the brunt of the dementia epidemic that is spreading through Britain. A study by Alzheimer's Research UK reveals that the condition has not only become the leading cause of death among British women but that women are far more likely to end up as carers of sufferers than men - suffering physical and emotional stress and job losses in the process.

"Women are carrying the responsibility of care for their loved ones, only later to be living with the condition," states the report, entitled Women and Dementia: A Marginalised Majority. "Women are dying from dementia but not before it has taken a considerable toll on minds and bodies. In the UK, dementia hits women the hardest."

The study, to be published next month, calls for the government to make a significant increase in its funding of dementia research and an improved investment in care. It also reveals that:

More than 500,000 women are now affected by dementia. About 350,000 men have the condition.

Women over 60 are now twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer.

Women are more than two-and-a-half times more likely than men to be carers of people with dementia.

Most carers do not choose or plan to take on this role and often find the experience highly stressful.

A voice for Britain's dementia sufferers: how our campaign has built awareness

In addition, the report notes that many women play a leading role in dementia research in the UK but, in common with other branches of science, they are discouraged from staying on in academia. Thus the country loses, every year, some of the best talent that it possesses for tackling the illness.

"Dementia is a life-shattering condition and represents a ‘triple whammy' for women," said Hilary Evans, director of external affairs at Alzheimer's Research UK. "More women are dying of dementia, more women are having to bear the burden of care, while a disproportionate number of women currently working in dementia research are having to leave science."

Dementia has become increasingly common, partly because more people, particularly women, are living longer. Age is a major risk factor for the condition, and so it is now more prevalent, especially among women.

But there are other reasons why dementia has overtaken heart disease and cancer as the most common cause of death in women (though it remains in third place for men). For a start, there have been major investments in heart disease and cancer research in recent years and these have helped bring down death rates, said Matthew Norton, head of policy for Alzheimer's Research UK.

"Just look at the figures," he said. "The total UK spend - from charities and the government - on dementia in 2013 was £73.8m. By contrast, for cancer, that figure was £503m. And we can now see the effect this gulf in funding has on disease profiles in Britain."

This point was also emphasised by Evans. "In recent decades we've seen increased investment in areas like cancer have a real impact, and we need to emulate that success for dementia. Only through research can we find ways to treat and prevent dementia, and transform the lives of the hundreds of thousands affected."

The report also finds that between 60% and 70% of carers - who support dementia patients unpaid - are female and many frequently report finding the experience emotionally stressful.

In addition, the study reveals that women who care for dementia sufferers also feel less supported than their male counterparts. "Wives caring for their husbands with severe dementia reported receiving less support from friends and family than husbands caring for their wives in similar circumstances," says the report.

In turn, these female carers were more likely to be depressed, which is itself a risk factor for dementia. Of those women caring for dementia patients, 20% said they had been forced to go from full- to part-time work; 18% had to take leave of absence, while 19% said they had to give up work altogether to look after a relative or partner.

The report concludes that the grim situation regarding dementia and dementia care in Britain will get worse unless the government acts. "The UK already has a larger proportion of people over 65 than the EU average, and as the number of older people rises steeply, the need for carers will continue to increase," it warns.

Jordan: Impoverished women from Turkman communities left nameless in birth, marriage & death Print E-mail

 Jordan ~ Thursday 29 January, 2015

Born and buried without names in Jordan

By: Helmi al-Asmar

Amman is a city founded on recent immigration from inside and outside Jordan [Getty]

The Turkmen occupy makeshift dwellings in the wasteland of Jordan's capital, Amman. Without fixed homes, jobs, or ID cards, they live a separate existence from their Arab neighbours.

Her pale face and her piercing looks seared themselves into my mind.

These people are Jordanian citizens. Many of them have family registration cards, meaning they are long-standing Jordanians.

But these people appear as suddenly as they disappear.

Camping in the capital
They show up for a day or two, in strange-looking tents, and live between us - yet we know little about them.

I was led to their dwellings by sheer coincidence. I became curious to later discover more about this community. I visited them again, for a different motive; I thought they were of the Nawar people, but I found out that they are a different people. They are not Arabs.

Unlike the vast majority of Jordanians who speak Arabic, the people of this small community speak to each other in a Turkish dialect. Throughout the region they are known as Turkmen.

The community lives in the heart of the city, though, for all intents and purposes, they are on the margins of the city - if not completely outside of it. They are expelled from the city's "mercy", if it ever had any.

Harsh existence
I visited them for the first time in their dwellings on the outskirts of Amman, near the suburb of Sahab, with a guide who knows them well.

Wardeh's hair flowed freely; she did not cover her head. She said she was suffering from insomnia, and could not sleep until the dawn call to prayer. Her sister Monica smokes four packets of cigarettes a day and does not eat much.

Their father, Abu Hani, has no idea his daughter smokes so much.

Abu Hani says that his daughter had married years ago, but that her husband left her before she gave birth to her first son. When she gave birth, the father's family came and kidnapped the child. Since then, Monica has been desperate to see her son.

Unknown to authorities
Many people in the community are undocumented by the government, and so one can only guess how many Turkmen live in Jordan.

What is certain is that, without ID cards, they are some of the country's poorest, most discriminated against and most vulnerable residents.

Boys and girls in the community marry as children, sometimes before they reach 15.

Without documentation, their marriages go unregistered - which makes it easy for the men to leave their wives, marry other women, or to snatch away their children.

To limit the chances of this happening, fathers of divorced women sometimes register their grandchildren as their own offspring.

When they die, those without IDs are often buried under the name of another family member, whose documents they "borrow" for the ceremony and legal proceedings.

Although the Turkmen have two names, one for the family and one for strangers, in the eyes of the state and many in the city, they remain nameless and unknown.

Wadeh says she yearns for a permanent home and an identity card. This would allow her to live like other citizens in Amman - with a home, running water, electricity, access to school and perhaps even a job.

Moving on
On my second visit, Wardeh wore a headscarf. She was reciting with difficulty from the opening sura of the Quran and needed some help to finish it. Her enthusiasm for the religion seemed to be in the manner of someone freshly converted to Islam.

She had started praying for the first time in her life, thanks to a girlfriend who was teaching her about the pillars of the faith - even though Wardeh was way past her 20s and is a mother of two.

None of the ten members of her family can read or write.

They make a living collecting and selling junk and scrap metal, though what they make is barely enough to support them. It is possible to see men and youths from their community roaming the streets of Amman, selling leather coats, rugs, cameras and binoculars.

Women and children from their community also often beg, even though this is frowned upon among them. Most are without jobs and their children can't attend school. The only time they are likely to enter a government institution is if they are arrested for being "homeless"

But they do have homes, although their bare and simple dwellings exist between palaces, villas and apartment blocks. They can be uprooted at any time if a Jordanian neighbour makes a complaint against them.

If this happens, the bulldozers move in, flattening their makeshift homes and forcing residents onto the streets. Life will start again. They will find a new patch of wasteland in another part of the city, gather some straw, pieces of cardboard, and a unfold their tarpaulins, and build a new home in Amman.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

UK: 1.4 million women victims of Domestic Violence in 2014, 3 times more likely amid lowest incomes Print E-mail
 UK ~ Thursday 12 February 2015

1.4 million women suffered domestic abuse last year, ONS figures show

Office for National Statistics survey shows that rates remain stubbornly high, while violent crime more generally continues to fall

The most common types of intimate violence were non-sexual partner abuse (22%), stalking (21%) and sexual assault (20%). (Alamy)

By Alan Travis, home affairs editor

An estimated 1.4 million women and 700,000 men have suffered domestic abuse in the last year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS data also reveals a hidden link between poverty and domestic abuse, with women living in the poorest households more than three times more likely to be victims than those in higher income families.

The official statistics on violent crime and sexual offences in England and Wales, which are published annually, show a positive picture of a steady long-term decline in violent crime over the past 20 years.

The number of violent incidents in England and Wales has fallen from a peak of 3.8m in 1995 to about 1.3m in 2013/14.

With 526 homicides in 2013/14, the murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1989, when 521 were recorded. Gun and knife crime is also falling.

New figures on alcohol-fuelled crime, however, show that the number of violent attacks in which drink played a role remains stubbornly at around 53%, as it has for the last 10 years. Alcohol is reported to be a particularly key factor in incidents between strangers, two-thirds of which were drink-related.

The publication of the official violent crime analysis coincides with the launch of a £1m project by Cardiff University researchers to develop smart cameras to help detect fights brewing amongst night-time city crowds on the streets. Alerts will be used to get officers to hotspots as quickly as possible.

Prof Simon Moore of the university's violence and society research group, said: “Developing smart camera technology that can pinpoint violence is a really cost effective way of helping police to do their jobs. Officers can't monitor hundreds of city centre CCTV cameras all the time.”

The violent crime figures show that despite the long downward trend in violent crime, domestic abuse remains a widespread problem which affects more than 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men every year, according to results from a special module within the survey.

According to the ONS, 4.9 million women, or 28%, and 2.4 million men, or nearly 15%, have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.

For women, the most commonly experienced types of intimate violence were non-sexual partner abuse (22%), stalking (21%) and sexual assault (20%). Men also experience stalking (10%) and non-sexual partner abuse (9%).

The statistics show that a decline in domestic abuse between 2004/5 and 2008/9 seems to have levelled out. Figures have been fairly stable over the last five years, despite repeated police and Home Office campaigns.

The under-reporting to the police of intimate violence remains acute, though there is evidence to suggest a modest improvement.

Police recorded 64,205 sexual offences in 2013/14, the highest figure since 2002/03, which the ONS said reflected the increasingly willingness of victims to come forward.

It said evidence from the separate annual survey of England and Wales that asks people about their experience of crime, shows that there had not been a rise in the number of sexual assaults. If anything there has been a small fall in the number of sexual crime victims rates in the past year.

Interviewers also asked those who had experienced a serious sexual assault since 16 who they had told. A third said they had not told anyone about their most recent experience (33%). Among those who had told someone, 58% said it was someone they knew personally and 28% said they had told someone in an official position.

One in six - or 17% - of sexual assault victims in the latest 2013/14 survey said they had told the police. This is an increase on the 13%who said they had done so in 2011/12 and the 11% in 2009/10. Two-thirds of those went to the police said they were helpful but one-third of them did not share that view.

The main reasons given by those who told somone - but did not go to the police - were that they were too embarrassed; they did not want to face more humiliation; or they believed that the police could not help. Most of the victims who did not tell anyone said it was because they were too embarrassed.

The crime survey also found that while reporting rates of sexual offences are increasing, attitudes towards sexual violence are still slow to change. Although the majority (66%) of people did not think that victims were not responsible for someone raping or sexually assaulting them while they were drunk, 26% still think that the victim is responsible to some extent if they are drunk.

The size of the minority who thinks the victim is in some way responsible if they have been flirting heavily with their attacker beforehand rises to more than 33%. These proportions have not changed much in recent years and tend to be concentrated in the 16-19 age group and the over 55s.

India: Women left to recover in cold, wet conditions as tubectomy regulations again violated Print E-mail
  Saturday January 31, 2015

73 women sterilised in 4 hrs in Varanasi

By Sanjay Pandey:
Health officials in Uttar Pradesh have not learnt a lesson from the botched-up sterilisation surgeries in Chattishgarh that left several women dead.

Lucknow: On Thursday, 73 women were sterilised at a special camp in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in just four hours by a single doctor. The doctor took a little over three minutes for one operation. According to standard procedure, a doctor must not perform more than 30 such surgeries in a day.

The women were made to lie on the ground under the open sky amid biting cold. The agony of the women was compounded by the fact that the ground was wet owing to the rains that lashed the area the day before.

According to the reports, the surgeries were performed at Chiraigaon Primary Health Centre on Thursday. The matter came to light on Friday when pictures of the women lying on the floor appeared in local channels.

Sources said that 76 women had got themselves registered for surgeries at the special camp at the PHC, which has 30 beds.

The registration of three women was later cancelled after it was found that they were not well.

Though such special sterilisation camps were organised at the PHC almost every week yet there was no arrangement to provide post-operative care, sources said.

UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan has ordered a probe into the matter. "It is a very serious matter...we will probe it and stern action will be taken against the guilty officials," Ranjan said.

Earlier, similar reports had been received from some other districts as well. Barely a few months back, doctors had performed 42 tubectomy in a single day and then made the women to lie on the floor.

DH News Service
 Saturday January 31, 2015

73 sterilisations in a single day: Chief secy seeks report

Varanasi/Lucknow: Promising stringent action against doctors and officials for performing sterilization surgeries on women against the prescribed norms in Varanasi, chief secretary Alok Ranjan said on Friday the government would ensure there was no repeat of such incidents. On Friday, officials in Varanasi held a sterilization camp at a primary health centre where 73 women were operated upon in four hours. Due to lack of adequate facilities to accommodate the patients, the women were then asked to recoup on the floor before being discharged.

On Friday, taking serious exception to the incident, Ranjan directed officials to conduct a state-wide campaign between February 1 and April 30 to spread awareness about the need to improve neonatal and child health statistics in the state. In an open violation of prescribed norms, as many as 73 women were reportedly operated upon by a single doctor at a camp held at a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Chiraigaon area on Thursday. According to an office bearer of Provincial Medical Health Service (PMHS), the state government`s guideline permits a doctor to do maximum of 30 surgeries a day at the camp.

However, chief medical officer (CMO) Dr MP Chaurasia claimed that there was no negligence in sterilisation operations, and the operations were performed by two doctors. Fortunately, the incident of Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), where many women had lost their lives at a sterilisaton camp held in November last, was not repeated in Varanasi. What had happened in Bilaspur could have happened in Varanasi too as the health department had put the lives of several women at risk by performing family planning surgeries on a large scale without proper post-surgery facilities.

According to Dr Arvind Singh, secretary, PMHS, there is clear guideline of the state government that a doctor can perform 20-30 operations a day at the camp. The members of medical fraternity on the other hand feel that administrative pressure works behind such incidents, as the health department wants to meet the targets. Coming under pressure, doctors take the risk of performing maximum surgeries at such camps.

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