Tonight I lit a candle and set it in my window
then laid a rose beside it, in memory of our loss.
with thanks to JJ for the rose image.
JimBobby, Impolitical, Scotian, POGGE, and 900ft Jesus are all over this spinning top. It is yet another piece to be added to the AECL/MDS Nordion medical isotopes scandal that Prime Minister Harper, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn and Health Minister Tony Clement have created.
Harper’s support of Lunn is reprehensible.
In praising Lunn for his mistreatment of Ms Keen, Harper blatantly condones abusive behavior towards women. (Review Keen’s day in Parliament, too, for more examples of that abusive behavior. And then there are all the changes around Status of Women Canada) I guess it is part of his support for the War on Women. Harper’s support for Lunn also demonstrates support for a brand of fascism which many of us believed to be a thing of the past. But then Harper studied Stalin, not Hitler.
The light in this, for me, is it is helping me to understand why so many men in recent weeks think they have the right to scold women who challenge sexism and abuse, who work for change and get “uppity” on their behavior. Not that I accept the scolding, just that I understand it a little more clearly. It becomes even more acceptable in the mainstream, regardless of ideological bend, when even the Prime Minister approves of it.
I can’t help but wonder what got Harper and MDS-Nordion all worked up. Perhaps it was this US story, in December, in which a new supplier of medical isotopes announces its forthcoming launch. If alternatives to the isotopes MDS Nordion supply will be available to the huge US market in March of this year, then MDS Nordion will lose money. That would not make Harper’s friends happy. (If we know anything about the Cons, it’s that they like to keep their friends happy.) And if no one wants what AECL and MDS Nordion offer, then who will want to purchase AECL when it’s on the chopping block?
For feminists today, there is a before and after the Montreal massacre.
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.
View Working TV webcasts
(Courtesy Vancouver Rape Relief Shelter)
And let’s not forget that these women live on despite the depleted uranium radiating their lands.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
OWFI has spoken in a recent report over the CNN about the masses of Iraqi
women who are part of human trafficking currently inside and outside Iraq.
The report shows OWFI executives challenging the officials who choose to
look the other way.
OWFI has also challenged the rapists of 7 Iraqi female prisoners who are
still free and work in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
OWFI has initiated a secular youth movement based on Poetry, Music and Art
under the name of “Freedom Space”. Hundreds of youth from the so called
“Sadre City” are enthusiastic members and some are leaders of this rapidly
OWFI is still sheltering women who are threatened by honor killing or
retaliation from militia members / after these militias kill the males of
As a result, the Iraqi government decided on September 4th to freeze the
funds of OWFI in the Iraqi banks so as to paralyze our movement and make our work impossible.
Dear Friends and supporters do not let the intimidation of the Iraqi
officials stop you from supporting one of the few freedom initiatives inside
We are writing you this letter so that you do not send us any funds or
donations into our official bank account in Iraq as the government has put
its hand on it.
As for our activities, do not worry. We will still voice the pains of Iraqi
women and keep on creating bigger “freedom spaces”, especially that we run
mostly on volunteer will-power.
The farce of “Democracy” in Iraq will not sway our determination to a free,
secular and egalitarian life for all in Iraq.
Freedom and equality for all
September 6, 2007
some of the recent CNN reports:
and a previous one on NPR:
I guess oil is soooo important that women and girls lives don’t really matter to GWB & Co…
The Independent on Sunday ~~ June 24, 2007
‘50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are
being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria
By Nihal Hassan in Damascus
It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian
capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor,
lit up by flashing disco lights.
They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but
the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their
mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but
this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.
Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A
Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats
it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of
girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear
outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.
To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over
the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more
conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me
here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.
Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare
midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this
club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t
like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in
Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after
my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black
hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in
the club two months ago.
As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush
against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not
just providing the floor show – they have paid to be here, and they
need to pick up a client, or they’ll lose money. If successful,
they’ll earn about $60, equivalent to a month’s wages in a factory.
There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women
whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working
legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how
many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi
women’s group Women’s Will, puts the figure at 50,000.
I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in
Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions
of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet
Mohamed’s granddaughter. “I came to Syria after my husband was killed,
leaving me with two children,” Fatima tells me. “My aunt asked me to
join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go.” She didn’t realise
the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.
Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi
children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian
Women Observatory says: “Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but
others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here
under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are
brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way.”
Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir’s report will appear on
‘More 4 News’ at 8pm tomorrow
Does anyone get the fact that by supporting the military action in Afghanistan they are now supporting the reversal of democratic rights and freedoms?
Human Rights Watch has responded to the censure of outspoken Parliamentarian, Malalai Joya:
Afghanistan: Reinstate MP Suspended for ‘Insult’
Censure of Malalai Joya Sets Back Democracy and Rights
(New York, May 23, 2007) – The Afghan parliament should immediately reinstate Malalai Joya, a member suspended for criticizing colleagues, and revise parliamentary procedures that restrict freedom of speech, Human Rights Watch said today.
On May 21, 2007, the Lower House of the Afghan parliament voted to suspend Joya for comments she made during a television interview the previous day. It is unclear whether Joya’s suspension will run until the current parliamentary session ends in several weeks or whether she will be suspended for the remainder of her term in office, which ends in 2009. In addition to her suspension from parliament, several legislators have said that Joya could be sued for contempt in a court of law.
“Malalai Joya is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice for Afghan women, and she shouldn’t have been suspended from parliament,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Joya’s comments don’t warrant the punishment she received and they certainly don’t warrant court proceedings.”
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
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
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
If I knew what to do I would embed the video here, but alas and alack, I don’t so you’ll have to click the link to see Dispatches: IraqThe womans story at Google Video.
This makes me sick. It’s probably old news, but it’s news that shouldn’t slip by anyone. Our culture is teaching potential journalists to belittle a serious crime. May the young woman and her friends be safe and strong and may the young men learn to show more respect to women.
Here are some press releases to get you up to speed on some of the
scary stuff that’s going down right now on the UWO campus — and the
Miss G__ Project is at the front lines of the battle (which, by the
way, we’re totally winning ;) , as one of our most prominent members,
Jenna Owsianik, was directly targeted in this attack.You can take immediate action by writing letters to the Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette Ian Van Den Hurk at email@example.com, the UWO Students’ Council President Fab Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org, theUWO President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Davenport, at email@example.com,and UWO Equity Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and support, and we appreciate your help in
passing this information on to your contacts and networks!
Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator
PS More information and recent updates can be found at
Western Students Up in Arms After Campus Newspaper “Spoofs” the Rape of Student Activist
LONDON, ON – April 8, 2007 – Many students at the University of
Western Ontario are up in arms about an article published on March
30th by the daily campus newspaper, The Gazette, as part of its annual
Spoof Issue. The article depicts the London police chief (who is
explicitly named) dragging a prominent member of the UWO Women’s
Issues Network (WIN), depicted under the pseudonym “Jennifer Ostrich,”
into an alley to rape her to “teach [her] a lesson.”
The article, titled “Labia Majora Carnage,” was published
anonymously under the pseudonym, “Xavier.”
Students angry and offended by the article have been mobilizing
through letter writing campaigns to The Gazette Editor-in-Chief Ian
Van Den Hurk, the university, and the media, and through a protest
held on campus last Thursday.
Some students have also written to Police Chief Murray Faulkner to
ask him to make a public statement about his portrayal in the article
and his stance on violence against women. Faulkner couldn’t be reached
Most students believe “Jennifer Ostrich” to be a caricature of
Jenna Owsianik, chair of the Western chapter of the feminist group The
Miss G__ Project and an active member of WIN. She has also been vocal
about criticizing The Gazette, and in the October issue of the
Grapevine (another campus publication at Western), Owsianik wrote
about what she sees as The Gazette’s tradition of “negative sexual
stereotypes and sexist attitudes” — and cataloged the offenses.
In addition to being angry and upset, Owsianik is disappointed that
this is the response to her criticisms and to the challenge she issued
to The Gazette and all student journalists in the Grapevine article
“to be more responsible.” Though she’s not terribly surprised – The
Gazette has been brushing off her criticisms and making fun of her and
other WIN members all year – the severity and violence of this article
still shocked and terrified her.
“I feel like I was raped by that article,” Owsianik said candidly.
The article also satirizes “Katie Conservative,” a pretty clear
allusion to WIN Internal Relations Manager and active UWO Conservative
Association member Kathryn Mitrow, who says that she is “appalled and
ashamed” by The Gazette’s actions.
In a letter to the editor published in the April 5 edition of The
Gazette, graduate student Corey Katz takes issue with the Spoof
Issue’s jokes about rape, violence against women and homosexuality.
“These jokes are used every day to justify violence against women and
queer people. How many jokes like these has someone read, heard,
laughed at or told before they’re able to overcome their conscience
enough to rape or assault someone?”
Recent UWO alumna and Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator Sheetal Rawal
also thinks that the targeting of Owsianik in this article is a way to
silence activism about women’s issues on Western’s campus.
“For The Gazette to level a threat of rape at a student activist on
campus, one who has had the courage to speak out against the shocking
misogyny, homophobia, racism in the paper, as away to “teach [her] a
lesson,” is highly irresponsible of a campus newspaper and absolutely
unacceptable,” Rawal said. “This is hate speech.”
Rawal also said that she is “embarrassed” that, between this and
other events like the “Saugeen Stripper” issue last year, Western is
coming to known for its rape culture. “I refuse to allow for my degree
to read “Rapist University,”” she said.
Not all students are upset about it though, and even some of those who
are continue defend The Gazette’s right to publish articles like this
under freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is a fundamental pillar of our society, even if
we don’t like it,” Western student Noah Desjardins wrote on the
discussion board of a Facebook group created around this issue. “Any
restrcitions placed on it lead to a slippery slope of censorship.”
Western student Fiona Martin thinks that freedom of speech should
have its limits though.
“The debate continues on whether jokes against feminism are funny.
Some people think they are, some don’t. What is not funny is the
verbal attack against specific people that The Gazette article made.
That is hate speech,” she wrote on the discussion board.
So far, The Gazette’s only official response to the backlash from
the Spoof Issue has been “get over yourself.” In an April 4 editorial
they defend the “satire” of the issue, writing that those offended
should “know a joke when they see one.”
However, several students have been demanding more extreme action,
including calling for Van Den Hurk’s resign and the withdrawal of
student funding (through the University Students’ Council) to The
Student Kate Barthes suggests that The Gazette’s funding be revoked
for one year, to match the USC’s actions against the Society for
Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) when it was accused of hate speech
Throughout all this, Owsianik has been told by several people to
‘take a joke.’
“That article was about me getting raped and liking it,” she said.
“When you live your life in my body and experience the violence that
my body has felt, then you can tell me if satirical intention merits a
diffused reaction,” she said.
Controversy is continuing to dog the University of Western Ontario’s
student run newspaper The Gazette
LONDON,ON. April 9,2007 – Each year the University of Western
Ontario’s student newspaper, The Gazette, publishes a spoof edition
which is released on April 1st. This years’ edition targeted women,
and in particular, groups who advocate women’s issues on campus.
The article in question, titled “Labia Majora Carnage”
depicts a supposedly satirical portrayal of the Take Back the Night
rally. The author, who refuses to be identified, laces this ‘humorous’
article with vulgar depictions of women and sexually suggestive
themes. In it, known UWO activists are alluded to in morphed
Current London Police Services Chief Murray Faulkiner
is named in the article. Chief Faulkiner is described “…greasing his
nightstick”. The author adds: “He [Chief Faulkiner] grabbed the
loudspeaker from Ostrich’s wild vagina and took it into a dark alley
to teach it a lesson.”
The Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk, responded
citing Freedom of Speech and re enforced that the article was intended
to be humorous and instead of apologizing he called the complaintifs
“convoluted” and told them to “get-over” themselves.
Outraged students have taken several steps to air their
frustration with the student-funded Gazette’s article that was neither
factual, newsworthy, nor relevant to the Gazette’s mandate.
“Ian Van Den Hurk must be reminded that the Gazette is
published and supported with student fees appropriated by the UWO
University Students’ Council,” said Kate Bartz, former President of
the Women’s Studies Student Council.
Kathryn Mitrow, who is a member of the Women’s Issues
Network at UWO stated:
“Such an attack and slanderous piece of writing has no place
appearing in a newspaper funded by and supported by students.”
Van Den Hurk’s personal web-blog featuring many sexualized
themes can be viewed at: http://hurk.blogspot.com/