Articles: Some interesting articles from today's paper

 Work is quiet so I just spent the last hour reading through today's paper, looking for something to write about... I started off with one article and ended up with 5, so instead of writing multiple posts about each one, I thought it would make more sense to make one post and provide my own comments/opinions. Most articles come from the New York Times, but I've added other similar articles from other sources in some places. It's quite Middle East-heavy, but, then again, why wouldn't it be?

Afghan rape case is brought before the authorities (NYT article can be found HERE)
I've followed the plight of women in Afghanistan for many years now, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of the country. In the late 90's (I think) Marie Claire published an article about the treatment of women by the ruling Taliban power, something that most news outlets never bothered with, forcing the world to acknowledge there was a real problem in the country. Remember the recording of public execution that was released to world, taken via stealth, the camera concealed beneath a burqa by RAWA in 1999? That was some amazing investigative journalism - because if the reporter had been captured, he/she would probably have been executed in the same fashion. The video was sent to different press outlets at the time, none of which wanted to publish it because of it's ability to shock the world. However, when foreign forces invaded Afghanistan, all of a sudden it was all over the news. Yes, we went in to save these women that a year before we were turning a blind eye to. Nothing more than the usual hypocrisy of the world, another country's plight only becomes important to us when we actually have something to gain in said country. Anyway, this article is interesting because it portrays a few different points; one being that in certain places the laws haven't really changed, even if the Taliban has lost most of its stronghold. Another being that instead of following the unwritten law of the ages, the victim's family have decided to bring it to the public and gain their daughter's honour back by seeking justice via trial.
What we all tend to forget is that Afghanistan is a very unique country, where different ethnic groups/tribes live together, all with different rules of living, many unwritten. In many places, especially remote, rural areas, the honour of the family remains of most utter importance. To destroy or tarnish that honour means certain death, as death is the only way to rectify the balance, and restore the lost honour. To us this may sound backwards and horrific, but this is the way it works, and has worked for generations. I find it admirable that Lal Bibi is looking for her kidnappers and rapists to be brought to justice WITH the support of her family. I hope that they succeed, because if they don't, she will die, either at the hands of her family, or by her own hands (as seen in the article). What a brave, brave woman.

Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison (NYT article can be found HERE)
Life in prison for the deaths of the unarmed protesters last year, however, all charges of corruption were dropped. I'm honestly not really surprised at either ruling, although I think that it is interesting that the police commanders who gave the orders to shoot at the crowds were acquitted. Surely there were more than two people who were responsible for all of the deaths? In any case, I suppose at least some sort of justice has been done, even if the country is still without a democratically elected government (when will those promised elections ever take place?!), although how real this justice is will be seen if the ruling doesn't fall down on appeal. With all other charges having been revoked, if Mubarak wins on appeal he could walk away a free man.
What I found the most interesting about this article is the comment section. They go from right to left, zig-zagging through different opinions, some highly well thought-out and others just plain stupid and actually laughable. Yes, Mubarak was a US ally, but that doesn't make him a saint, does it? Let's all think back to the lovely Shah of Iran people and look at what the good that did to the world. Mubarak wasn't all evil, but he outstayed his welcome for more than a few presidential terms, and stole way too much money from the people he was supposed to be protecting to not be punished for it.
For those commenting on how the world is letting fundamentalists take the power in Egypt by the removal of Mubarak: if this happens, then it is what happens. The Egyptian people fought for change, and will probably stand up and fight again if they feel the government they elect is not acting in their best interest. In the end, we don't have a say what should happen in Egypt - it's up to the Egyptian people to decide what to do. The median age in Egypt is 24 years old, meaning that the population is young and will not stand for any further domination. I'm interested to see how it all plays out in this country. Read all those comments - it's highly entertaining to say the least.
BBC News articles on the same subject HERE.

Russia refuses intervention in Syria (NYT article can be found HERE)
Quelle surprise! Although I am completely against any type of outside military intervention in Syria, I do feel that more pressure should be put on Assad to stop the massacres that seem to be happening on a regular basis in Syria these days. Then again, I understand the plight: if he listens to the UN and withdraws his troops from the areas of uprising it will most definitely lead to civil war. I mean, he could stand down, and be replaced by a democratically elected president, haha, but we all know that is not going to happen. If he continues to let his troops massacre men, women and children in villages it will just create a louder uproar around the world. It appears that the bloodshed is not going to end too soon, and we may just have to sit back and watch it happen. Although, I have no doubt that the West is already smuggling weapons and agents into Syria, and helping the rebels.
Another article on the subject, BBC this time, can be found HERE.

Oh, by the way, there is renewed fighting in the North Kivu area of the DRC, strongly reminiscent of what happened in 2008, see the Al Jazeera article HERE. As always, no one really cares about what is happening in this country, even after years and years of civil war and millions of deaths. It breaks my heart that it is still happening.

Last, but not least, American nuns fight back against the Vatican criticism they face (NYT article can be found HERE).
Interesting how the Vatican plays down all of the child abuse allegations and insists on covering them up, while at the same time accuses a large group of American nuns of challenging "church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” So it's OK for priests to sexually abuse children, but it's not OK to promote free healthcare for all?! Because, oh no, this may promote the usage of birth control, and even worse, abortion! In essence this criticism goes completely against all of the real teachings of Christianity. My own thoughts on religion aside (having had a mix of Anglican, Catholic and free spirit education in my youth I decided to go with the latter, without scorning any of the former), I think this is highly despicable. Nuns dedicate their lives to educating and helping others, while giving up everything to live with their faith. The Vatican condemning them for promoting homosexuality and feminism is just plain old gender bigotry. It's time for the Vatican to get with the times and stop acting like they have the right to twist religion in a way that suits them best. Religious freedom means that we have the right to choose our religion and to live by it in the way we see fit. There is no place in this world anymore, or at least in the world I imagine, for men to dictate how women should live their lives. If these nuns are promoting radical feminism, then I really wonder what my views would be called! More radical than radical? I'm SO happy these nuns are taking a stand and continuing to promote what they believe in.

"I was born a woman" - piece on Feminism

Written in June 2005.

I Was Born a Woman

I didn’t get into Feminism. There is no real moment in my life that I can say “that’s when I became a feminist”. I was born into it.

I was born a woman. I was going to be either a boy or a girl and I pulled the girl straw. No choice, no plan, no nothing. So there you go, you accept it and you live with it and you learn to be happy with what you’ve got. I never wished I were a boy. I never even dreamt about being a boy. I never wondered what it would be like to live as a boy for a day. I’m pure woman and I love it. Not only that, I’m damn proud to be a woman.

Feminism is not about being superior, or better, or worse. It’s not a closed discussion about how women are fighting against men. We all share this world, and it’s up to us to accept the fact that we are all different, to accept that everybody has different bodies, minds, faces and opinions. Feminism is about being a woman and being proud of whom you are. All humans are equal. It’s up to each and every one of us to fight for the consistency of this equality.

I can’t say how I “got into Feminism”. It’s always been a part of me. From a very early age both my mother and my father instilled deep in my heart the need to stand up for my rights and for my thoughts. Strong women constantly surrounded me. My whole family is full of strong women. We have not had it easy, but we have always managed to get over every mountain, build bridges over every river and make the most of every straight path. So I think it is right to say that I was born into a feminist family and make every effort to continue this line.

For me Feminism is not about ranting about how women are so much better than men, about how we should rule the world and about how we should stomp out men and male dominance.

No. Feminism is what you want it to be. In my opinion Feminism is regarded too often as something pejorative, and this is because of the way it is portrayed. Annoyingly, Feminism is looked down upon and challenged while, even today, male chauvinism is still accepted and seen as normal. This doesn’t mean that we are supposed to jump up and call all men pigs, but it means that it is up to us women to prove that we are not trying to show that we are better, but that we are trying to prove we are equal and therefore should have equal rights everywhere. We can get rid of the acceptance of chauvinism in society and move on to a new, more equal world where women don’t have to constantly fight.

Apart from the close female figures in my life; my grandmother who bought up her first three children on her own during the Second World War, who outlived her four husbands and still lives to tell her tales today; my mother who battled violent and addicted men and who has always been a role model and who shows everyone that they can accomplish anything in life; I also have a special woman in my life. She’s been by my side since I first came across her on my tenth birthday. I have never met her, but she has been a constant influence. Her name is Marge Piercy and she is a feminist and political poet and novelist. Her characters are always strong and rounded, but not without flaws. Real women who have to deal with the struggles of everyday life, who sometimes make the right choice, sometimes the wrong one, but they never let society pull them down. Whenever I feel that it is all getting too much, I pick up one of Marge Piercy’s writings and she helps me believe in myself again. We all have our own demons; it’s up to us to choose whether to fight or to flee.

We women have to deal with so much, learning to accept who we are and why we are, accepting our bodies, our wants and our needs, and learning to understand that although what we want might often be frowned upon, there is no need to not go out there and get it.

Feminism is all about being a woman and fighting for it. You want to have sex, have sex. You don’t want to sleep around? Then don’t! You want to have a career? Have one! You want to be a housewife, and stay at home to bring up your kids? Then do just that! We have to choose what is right for us, without letting pre-assigned unwritten and ancient social “laws” bring you down.

Feminism is not about fighting men, but about fighting for what’s right for YOU. This is what Feminism is to me. Being a woman is a right, and it’s up to us to make the most out of it.

We only live once, why not make the best of it, and be able to live to tell the tale to the next generations.

Be strong and be real. And never keep your mouth shut. Because once you have said it out loud someone is going to hear.