A Celebratory Kind of Day!

Today is the day that replaced Imbolc, an ancient celebration of the goddess, Brighid. Imbolc marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Today is the Feast Day of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  And, today is the birth day of Birth Pangs!

Last year, a group of “radical,” “militant” and “feminazi” feminists who hang out at the Bread and Roses discussion boards launched Birth Pangs, an irreverent and relevant blog that keeps a close eye on the anti-choice, aka fetus fetishist, aka compulsory pregnancy, aka zygote zealot crowd. Demonstrating that feminists do, indeed, have a sense of humour, Birth Pangs sheds a slightly satirical light on the ludicrous, illogical and just plain ridiculous arguments and ideas of those who would have women barefooted, pregnant and back in the kitchen.

Pop by for a visit. Stop in and say hi. And don’t worry, the feminists don’t bite. (Well, not very hard, anyway!)

And here’s an Imbolc poem, a gift to the scruffy band of feminists who dare to challenge and inspire.

Horoscope: Ground Hog Day

Brighid, ancient Hag,
in winter brings new life,
kindles sacred fires to melt Earth’s blanket.

She travels with you, as long ago
when she moved among Galatians and Brigantians.
Long before Patrick danced green among the Celts
Brighid quickened life.

Old Brighid, young Maiden, Mother, Crone
hides within Christianity’s cloak, blessing houses
with candles blessed at Candlemas, the cross-quarter feast day
to celebrate winter’s passing halfway through,
her fires lighting houses, whole communities.

Sainte Brighid, even after decanonization,
even after her fires were snuffed, still
lives. Christianity celebrates the purification
of their blessed virgin, Mary. A ground hog
carried Brighid’s memory across an ocean.

© 2008 BW

Remember, mourn, then organize

For feminists today, there is a before and after the Montreal massacre.

Lee Lakeman, March 1990

Today, December 6, 2007, I remember those women murdered on December 6, 1989, who dared to study engineering:

Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte

 

I also remember the 62 wives killed last year in Canada and the 500 Aboriginal women missing from Canada.  I remember all women, the world over, impacted by violent acts.

 

 

I mourn these realities.  I mourn for a country that removes the word “equality” from its mandate to support the actions of women’s organizations working for change.  I mourn for a world that is at war against half its population.

And I work for change, by simply telling you, dear reader, how one person can make a difference.  A former Executive Director at the Provincial Association of Transition Houses in Saskatchewan (PATHS) as part of her paid work, developed an initiative to help women find escape support in their local communities.  Since then, she has left that job, but not the work which has broadened from a Saskatchewan initiative to the world-wide Hot Peach Pages, “an international directory of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centres and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 75 languages.”

 

Now I will light a candle and place it in my front room window as my personal symbol to the world and my community.

 

——–

Read articles about December 6

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(Courtesy Vancouver Rape Relief Shelter)

Male Military Vets Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard.  Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians.  From AlterNet: War on Iraq:

Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

By Lucinda Marshall, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.

A recent DOJ report found that vets are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
  • Domestic violence
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
  • Honor killing

Read the rest of the article

Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmaker

Oh, look, Steve! See what we’re supporting in Afghanistan? I thought someone said that our troops are there to help women and girls.

HA! BRING THE TROOPS HOME!!!

Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmakerhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6649078,00.html
*Monday May 21, 2007 12:01 PM*
*Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmaker*
*By RAHIM FAIEZ*
*Associated Press Writer*

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament voted
Monday to oust an outspoken female lawmaker who has enraged former
mujahedeen fighters now in President Hamid Karzai’s U.S.-backed government.

The lawmaker, Malalai Joya, compared parliament to a stable full of animals
in a recent TV interview.

The video clip was shown in parliament on Monday, and angry lawmakers voted
to suspend her from the body, said Haseb Noori, spokesman for the
parliament. No formal vote count was held, but a clear majority of lawmakers
voted for her suspension by raising colored cards, Noori said.

A parliament rule known as Article 70 forbids lawmakers from criticizing one
another, Noori said.

Joya, 29, said the vote was a “political conspiracy” against her. She said
she had been told Article 70 was written specifically for her, though she
didn’t say who told her that.

“Since I’ve started my struggle for human rights in Afghanistan, for
women’s rights, these criminals, these drug smugglers, they’ve stood against
me from the first time I raised my voice at the Loya Jirga,” she said,
referring to the constitution-drafting convention.

It was not immediately clear if she could appeal against her ouster.

Joya, a women’s rights worker from Farah province, rose to prominence in
2003 when she branded powerful Afghan warlords as criminals during the Loya
Jirga.

Many of the commanders who fought occupying Soviet troops in the 1980s still
control provincial fiefdoms and have been accused of human rights abuses and
corruption. After ousting the Soviets, the militias turned on each other in
a brutal civil war that destroyed most of the capital, Kabul.

Some faction leaders, like former President Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul
Rasul Sayyaf, a deeply conservative Islamist, have been elected to
parliament. Others, like northern strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, were
appointed by Karzai.

Sayed Alami Balkhi, a lawmaker from the northern province of Balkh, said the
speaker of the upper house of parliament sent a letter to the lower house on
Sunday saying that Joya had humiliated and attacked both houses.

“If the lower house does not take a decision about her, we will take a
decision,” Balkhi quoted the letter as saying.

Joya’s outspoken ways have earned her many enemies in Afghanistan. In
February, during a rally to support a proposed amnesty for Afghans suspected
of war crimes, thousands of former fighters shouted “Death to Malalai
Joya!”

Last May, Joya called some lawmakers “warlords” in a speech at parliament,
prompting some parliamentarians to throw water bottles at her. A small
scuffle broke out between her supporters and detractors, and Joya later told
The Associated Press in an interview that some lawmakers threatened to rape
her as payback.

Joya said Monday that if she couldn’t remain in parliament, she would fight
against “criminals” independently. She said if anything were to happen to
her – a reference to a possible assassination attempt – that “everyone
would know” that the people she has criticized like Rabbani or Sayyaf would
be responsible.

“I’m not alone,” Joya told reporters. “The international community is
with me and all the Afghan people are with me.”

Updated to add a link to liberal catnip’s post regarding Peter McKay’s ridiculousity on this issue.

Canadian-led campaign unites women’s organizations on six continents

On the first anniversary of P’n’P entering the Blogosphere comes a call to sign on to the Nairobi Declaration:

Drafted by representatives of women’s rights organizations from six continents and endorsed by leading international human rights advocates including Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Nairobi Declaration is founded on the experiences of women and girl survivors of sexual violence and the expertise of activists and jurists who are helping them rebuild their lives. At the Declaration’s core is the belief that justice for women and girl survivors of sexual violence will never be achieved if reparations programs are not informed and directed by those they are meant to serve. The Nairobi Declaration aims to correct the systemic flaws of national Truth and Reconciliation initiatives and existing reparation schemes and to inform those being developed by the International Criminal Court.The Nairobi Declaration asserts that reparation programs must go beyond mere compensation and restitution. According to the Declaration, adequate reparation and remedy must:

  • Empower women and girls, support their efforts to rebuild trust and relations and foster their participation in social reconstruction. Decision-making about reparations must include victims as full participants.
  • Address social inequalities and discrimination in existence prior to conflict, which lie at the root of violence against women and girls in times of conflict.
  • Promote social justice and encourage the transformation toward a fair and equal society.
  • Emphasize the importance of truth-telling in order to allow women and girls to move ahead and become true citizens. Abuses against women must be named and recognized in order to raise awareness about these crimes and violations, to positively influence a more holistic strategy for reparation and measures that support reparation, and to help build a shared memory and history.

Reparations should provide women and girls with the tools to rebuild their lives not as they were prior to war or conflict, but in ways that address and transform sociocultural injustices and structural inequalities that predate the conflict,” says Ariane Brunet, coordinator of the Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations. “Women and girls’ right to reparation is not only about restitution, compensation and access to judicial redress, it is about women playing an active role in repairing the social fabric and building afresh a just and equal society.”

The Nairobi Declaration is the first stage in a long-term international campaign on gender reparation. It is intended as a tool to be implemented by States, multilateral agencies, regional agencies and national entities, such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

Read the Nairobi Declaration

Sign the Nairobi Declaration