Tag Archives: Egypt

CNN – Egyptian general admits ‘virginity checks’ conducted on protesters

Sexual assault as justice for protest has been around forever, but when I heard this story I was reminded of Chana Kai Lee’s biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, For Freedom’s Sake

After protesting for African American civil rights alongside other SNCC members, Hamer and others were taken into jail and brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by police and prison staff.  Hamer’s beatings in jail left her with a limp, blind in her left eye, with her kidneys permanently damaged (listen to her speech before the Credentials Committee at the ’64 Democratic National Convention here). 

Here, however, the tactic was presented as a “precautionary” measure rather than the demeaning and sexually objectifyng act it truly was.

And think Egypt is the only one doing virginity tests?  Think again.  Try Britain and India.  And really idiotic young American boys.

___________________________________

From Shahira Amin at CNN > Read the whole story there.

Cairo (CNN) — A senior Egyptian general admits that “virginity checks” were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests.”

But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice.

“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”

Read about Salwa Hosseini’s experience undergoing stun-gun-enduced virginity-testing here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Chinese Government Responds to Call for Protests

When I went to China there were heavily armed police at every metro stop, every tourist site, and especially at Tiananmen Square where the 1989 protests took place.  Every university has a party member censoring what they lecture, and it is strongly discouraged to speak about any rebellion against the government.  Not only is the information everyday Chinese citizens receive censored, as the news media is controlled by the state, but information about the recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain was especially limited.

Which makes this really interesting!

And no, don’t blame this on communism – this is totalitarianism.

According to BBC News:

Figures published last year suggested the Chinese government spent almost as much on maintaining internal security as on defence.

A leading government think-tank has said there have been 90,000 so-called “mass incidents” – examples of public unrest – in China every year since 2007.

A revolt seems to be fomenting!  If only the story could break in China…

_____________________________________________________

New York Times, Andrew Jacobs

BEIJING — Skittish domestic security officials responded with a mass show of force across China on Sunday after anonymous calls for protesters to stage a Chinese “Jasmine Revolution” went out over social media and microblogging outlets.

Although there were no reports of large demonstrations, the outsize government response highlighted China’s nervousness at a time of spreading unrest in the Middle East aimed at overthrowing authoritarian governments.

The words “Jasmine Revolution,” borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on Internet search engines, while cellphone users were unable to send out text messages to multiple recipients. A heavy police presence was reported in several Chinese cities.

In recent days, more than a dozen lawyers and rights activists have been rounded up, and more than 80 dissidents have reportedly been placed under varying forms of house arrest. At least two lawyers are still missing, family members and human rights advocates said Sunday.

In Beijing, a huge crowd formed outside a McDonald’s in the heart of the capital on Sunday after messages went out listing it as one of 13 protest sites across the country. It is not clear who organized the campaign, but it first appeared Thursday on Boxun, a Chinese-language Web site based in the United States, and then spread through Twitter and other microblogging services.

Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press - A man, center, was detained by the police near a planned protest site in Shanghai on Sunday.

By 2 p.m., the planned start of the protests, hundreds of police officers had swarmed the area, a major shopping district popular with tourists.

At one point, the police surrounded a young man who had placed a jasmine flower on a planter outside the McDonald’s, but he was released after the clamor drew journalists and photographers.

In Shanghai, three people were detained during a skirmish in front of a Starbucks, The Associated Press reported. One post on Twitter described a heavily armed police presence on the subways of Shenzhen, and another claimed that officials at Peking University in Beijing had urged students to avoid any protests, but those reports were impossible to verify Sunday.

The messages calling people to action urged protesters to shout, “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness,” an ostensible effort to tap into popular discontent over inflation and soaring real estate prices.

In a sign of the ruling Communist Party’s growing anxiety, President Hu Jintao summoned top leaders to a special “study session” on Saturday and urged them to address festering social problems before they became threats to stability.

“The overall requirements for enhancing and innovating social management are to stimulate vitality in the society and increase harmonious elements to the greatest extent, while reducing inharmonious factors to the minimum,” he told the gathering, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. Mr. Hu also urged those gathered to step up Internet controls and to better “guide public opinion,” a reference to efforts aimed at shaping attitudes toward the government through traditional propaganda and online commentators who masquerade as ordinary users.

Human rights advocates said they were especially concerned by the recent crackdown on rights defenders, which intensified Saturday after at least 15 well-known lawyers and activists were detained or placed under house arrest. Several of them reached by phone, including Pu Zhiqiang and Xu Zhiyong, said they were in the company of security agents and unable to talk, while many others were unreachable on Sunday evening. Two of the men, Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, remain missing.

Many of those subjected to house arrest had met in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss the case of Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer under strict house arrest in rural Shandong Province. The plight of Mr. Chen and his family gained widespread attention last week after a video he and his wife made about his arrest emerged on the Internet.

Mr. Jiang, one of the missing lawyers, was forced into an unmarked van on Saturday night, his second abduction in recent days, his wife, Jin Bianling, said by telephone. She said the police had also searched the couple’s home and confiscated his computer and briefcase.

In an interview after his first detention on Wednesday, Mr. Jiang said that he was taken to a police station and assaulted.

Most of those who thronged the McDonald’s in Wangfujing, the Beijing shopping district, said they had no idea what the commotion was about. Some thought that perhaps a celebrity had slipped into the restaurant for a hamburger. But a young man, a Web page designer in his late 20s, quietly acknowledged that he was drawn by word of the protest.

Despite the absence of any real action, the man, who gave only his family name, Cui, said he was not disappointed by the outcome, in which police officers tried in vain to determine who was a potential troublemaker and who was simply a gawker. He predicted that many people, emboldened by the fact that an impromptu gathering had coalesced at all, would use social networking technology to stage similar events in the future.

“It’s very difficult to do this in China, but this is a good start,” he said. “I’m thankful to be able to participate in this moment in history.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Blog Post Blizzard

Women’s Media Visibility in Egypt’s Protests – Sociological Images

Coverage of the Egyptian protests this week disproportionately interviewed and photographed male protestors, occasionally using the terms “Egyptian men” and “protestors” interchangeably (excellent example here).  What images we did receive of women depicted them as separate from the demonstrations if not dependent on male guardianship.  The paucity of images or stories about women activists excludes them from the national uprising and silences their protests.

These Attractive Sneakers Become Trees When You’re Done with Them – Good Magazine

The second-place winner at Amsterdam’s Green Fashion Awards last week, OAT’s “Virgin Collection” is the world’s first line of sneakers that, upon disposal, will biodegrade and sprout trees. The materials—some developed by OAT itself—are all easily broken down, and tree seeds packed in the lining will hopefully leave saplings where your sneakers once stood.

The ‘Black History’ of America’s White House – NPR

Vodpod videos no longer available.

For many Americans, the White House stands as a symbol of liberty and justice. But its gleaming facade hides harsh realities, from the slaves who built the home to the presidents who lived there and shaped the country’s racial history, often for the worse. In The Black History of the White House, Clarence Lusane traces the path of race relations in America by telling a very specific history — the stories of those African-Americans who built, worked at and visited the White House.

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum – New York Times

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times - Katricia Gray, left, of Detroit, brought sculptures to Tulani Salahu-Din, a researcher for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, at a November event to appraise possible donations to its collection.

As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Bunch, 58, is charged with creating an institution that embodies the story of black life in America.

The pressure couldn’t be greater. To open in 2015, in a $500 million building designed to evoke the art of an ancient West African kingdom, the museum will stand at the geographic center of American civic identity, on the National Mall.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Blog Post Blizzard

I have too many interesting articles to share with you and so little time.  So, in honor of the snowcalypse in the Midwest, here’s a blizzard of fabulous things to read.  Choose your poison:

 

Why Keeping Little Girls Squeaky Clean Could Make Them Sick – NPR

WESTLAND, MI – JULY 6: Hannah Rose Akerley, age 7, of Grosse Point Park, Michigan, gets some relief from the heat by playing in a gigantic lake of mud at the annual Mud Day event July 6, 2010 in Westland, Michigan. The lake was created by mixing 20,000 gallons of water with 200 tons of topsoil. The event, which is sponsored by the Wayne County Parks Department, draws about 1,000 children each year. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

 

Middle Eastern and North African Protests Shatter Myths About Muslim Women – Ms. Magazine

Young people are coming out in full force to fight for democracy, and women are at the forefront of these protests, breaking a huge stereotype that Muslim women passive, voiceless or apathetic.

 

THIS PICTURE IS SO BADASS!!!

 

 

Beauty and the Double Standard of Aging – Sociological Images

Today I had the pleasure of reading a 1978 essay by Susan Sontag titled The Double Standard of Aging. I was struck by how plainly and convincingly she described the role of attractiveness in men’s and women’s lives: “For women, only one standard of female beauty is sanctioned: the girl. ”

 

Brisenia Flores, Another Nine-Year-Old Girl, Was Shot and Killed in Arizona – Village Voice

Brisenia Flores, 9, was killed on May 30, 2009, when a group led by anti-immigration fighter Shawna Forde raided the girl’s family home in the border town of Arivaca, Arizona. Allegedly, the attack was organized in the name of the Minutemen, a crew of vigilante border patrols, who hoped to steal money and drugs to fund their revolution against immigration. The Flores household was attacked mistakenly, for they had no drugs or money, but according to reports, Forde and her cronies commenced to shoot Brisenia’s father in the head, killing him, before wounding her mother and eventually, shooting Brisenia in cold blood…

 

 

 

The Black Power Mixtape – Democracy Now

We broadcast from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. One of this year’s selections that is creating a lot of buzz is a documentary called The Black Power Mixtape. The film features rare archival footage shot between 1967 and 1975 by two Swedish journalists and was discovered in the basement of Swedish public television 30 years later. We speak with renowned actor and activist Danny Glover, who co-produced The Black Power Mixtape.

 

Oscar nominations an all-white affair – The Gazette

It’s a wonder that the security guards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t stop Mo’Nique and make her show ID when she arrived to help announce the Oscar nominations early Tuesday at the organization’s Beverly Hills headquarters. After all, she was the only person of colour involved with the extravaganza, since the 83rd annual Oscar nominations have the dubious distinction of being an all-white affair…

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Knowing cultural view of virginity, Chinese women try surgical restoration

Having just been to China and spent numerous hours discussing transnational gender issues, I found this article fascinating.  For Chinese women these unrealistic expectations of virginity are a real problem, and result in Lolita-like fashions, baby-doll pornography and a booming child sex-trafficking trade.  This also trickles down into personal relationships as women are prevented from feeling sexually liberated due to the double standard.

As much as I would like to agree with Zhou Hong, the doctor performing these surgical restorations, in saying that this is a liberating act, these surgeries avoid the consciousness raising that could come from direct communication.  Read about the stir this caused in Egpt, here.

We could also learn something here, Americans, that virginity before marriage isn’t all that important and it’s far from immoral.  But safety first!

________________________________________________________________

By Keith B. Richburg in Beijing, The Washington Post
Tuesday, August 17, 2010; A06

China has long been known as the land of fakes — Rolexes, DVDs, handbags and designer clothes.

Add a new one to the list: fake virgins.

A growing number of Chinese women — mostly in their 20s and about to get married — are opting for a surgical procedure called “hymen restoration,” which returns the hymen to its condition before it was ruptured, which typically occurs during first sexual contact but can also happen while playing sports or doing other strenuous activities.

Even as China has flung open its doors to the West and modernized, a deeply conservative and chauvinistic attitude persists. Many men, including white-collar professionals, say they want to marry a virgin. And increasingly liberated Chinese women have found a way to oblige them.

“We can fix it so everything is perfect, so the men can believe they are marrying virgins,” said Zhou Hong, a physician and director of gynecology at the Beijing Wuzhou Women’s Hospital. “We don’t advertise it; we don’t publicize it.”

Zhou, 44, said most of her patients are sexually active young women who are about to marry and have told their future husbands they are virgins. She said a smaller number want to forget a bad relationship and “start over,” and a few have been victims of rape.

Zhou is one of many Chinese doctors performing the procedure, which is also done in other countries. She said she restores as many as 20 hymens a month, and the number is increasing. For as little as 5,000 renminbi, or about $737, for a 20-to-30-minute procedure, Zhou is giving women a second chance at having a first time.

Does she worry that she is encouraging people to start their marriages with a lie? “It’s just a white lie,” Zhou said. And she blames men for having unrealistic expectations.

“I don’t agree with this value” placed on virginity, Zhou said. “It’s unfair to the women. The men are not virgins. But we can’t change this male-privileged society.”

The surgery, known as hymenoplasty, has been around for years, although it is considered rare and is illegal in some countries. It is performed primarily in Muslim countries, where the traditionalists place a high value on a woman’s virginity. It also has become common in France among French Muslims, usually for young women about to enter a traditional marriage. There are no statistics available in China on how often the surgery is performed. But sociologists and other experts, as well as anecdotal evidence, suggest it has gained in popularity.

For women who do not want to have surgery, a cheaper, faster path to “revirgination” is available in most sex novelty shops: a Chinese-made artificial hymen that purports to create a physical sensation for the man and emit fake blood when ruptured.

Good luck trying to buy a kit online! I was going to post a link for everyone but they're all but imaginary.

A 25-year-old woman from Guiyang recently bought several online, intending to resell them to young women in her circle. Some of her friends, she said, were worried that their boyfriends might leave if the truth about their virginity was known.

“It’s really worthless for couples to break up over this small issue,” said the woman, who asked not to be quoted by name.

Some sociologists and others have criticized the virginity obsession as emblematic of a male-dominated society in which women are viewed as sex objects. And they are equally critical of women undergoing potentially dangerous or painful medical procedures to conform.

“I think it is really stupid for women to do this kind of surgery and buying fake hymens,” said Li Yinhe, a sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the country’s preeminent sexologist. “It’s self-deception.”

The virginity topic has surfaced in recent newspaper columns and Internet debates. Several men posting comments on a popular Web site blamed women for what they called modern women’s materialism when seeking a mate.

“Women demand men have houses and cars, why can’t men demand women be virgins?” asked one man on the Tianya site. “So, greedy women, remember, you have to protect your hymens, because those are big dowries for you to exchange for money.”

Some men who were interviewed agreed about the importance of finding a virgin. “I really care about virginity,” said Xia Yang, product manager for a technology company. “If you go to buy a cellphone, of course you’d want to buy a new cellphone. Who would spend the same amount of money to buy an old cellphone that’s been used for two years?”

The virginity debate also underscores a contradiction in modern China: As the nation becomes more freewheeling, there remains a deeply conservative core.

“Since the reforms began 30 years ago, sexual relations in China are actually quite chaotic,” said Chen Lan, a novelist and social commentator. “One-night stands, extramarital affairs, prostitution. . . . All this means Chinese women have more frequent sexual activity, and at a younger and younger age. And this makes men feel women’s bodies are not as clean as before. In these circumstances, men care even more about a woman’s virginity.”

Zhou, the gynecologist, is unruffled by the controversy.

She said that she hears from satisfied clients after they are married, women who text-message her to say that the wedding night was a success.

“That’s the happiest thing for us,” she said.

Researcher Liu Liu in Beijing contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized