This week, I have women’s hearts and bodies more on the mind than before. Such tragic news this week about so many laws, structural violence, and cultural institutions that are vehemently against women. With each an every article I read that covers these issues, I feel that this week’s coverage should be read by all women and spoken out loud: to validate its existence, to ensure others hear it, and to find a way to safeguard these stories, this history, in the hope that this information is not lost. Say it out loud.
One Billion Rising Anthem – Break the Chain
Eve Ensler just keeps doing awesome things. One Billion Rising is a worldwide effort to get people to speak out regarding violence against women, on the V-Day 15th anniversary, 2.14.13. If you haven’t joined One Billion Rising, subscribe to the mailing list to stay in-the-know on what is going on, and plan to dance and join on V-Day 2013! Sister won’t you help, sister won’t you rise. Say it out loud.
Birth Under Fire: Israel’s Doulas Unite for the South – The Algemeiner
A beautiful uniting of women for women, particularly around pregnancy in a time of war. Say it out loud.
“Israeli doulas have formed a group of volunteers who are offering their services free of charge to the residents of the south, women whose husbands have been called to the reserves, and any pregnant woman feeling distressed due to the current situation. The doulas are divided into smaller groups based on their residence, offering immediate support to expecting mothers all over the south. These services include meetings in which the doula visits her client’s home and performs services such as reflexology, massages and shiatsu. In addition, women who wish to consult a doula can do so via their Facebook group called ‘Women Supporting Women- Operation Pillar of Defense.’…
Ravit’s goal is to reach as many women as possible to ensure that they receive the help and support they need. She was interviewed by Israel’s Arutz 1. They were impressed by the initiative and the readiness of the volunteers. “We’re making a lot of noise so that we can help as many as possible. We want to help; this is the purpose of our job”, Ravit said.”
By Choice, Not By Chance: Family Planning is Everyone’s Right – Nicole Cheetham from Advocates for Youth at RH Reality Check
Nicole’s great article below discusses the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2012 Report entitled By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development, available here. From the UNFPA website with the resource kit, they write as follows: “All human beings—regardless of age, sex, race or income—are equal in dignity and rights. Yet 222 million women in developing countries are unable to exercise the human right to voluntary family planning… The report asserts that governments, civil society, health providers and communities have the responsibility to protect the right to family planning for women across the spectrum, including those who are young or unmarried.” Say it out loud.
“…While the these numbers are important and give us a sense of the magnitude of need, as reflected in the report, family planning as a human right is about people and the urgent responsibility that we have as a global society to uphold this right. This is about Sharmila in Nepal who as a young woman in an arranged marriage, became infected with HIV, by chance, as was her son. This is about Nicolette in Jamaica who at age 14 became pregnant, by chance, because she did not feel that she could purchase condoms or negotiate their use. This is about Shandi in Nigeria who became pregnant, by chance, because she did not know how to use or access contraception and later experienced complications from unsafe abortion. This is about Savita, who just died in Ireland, by chance, because doctors would not perform an abortion to save her life. All of these women supposedly have a right to family planning and reproductive health, yet they have experienced unintended pregnancy, HIV infection, forced marriage, and maternal morbidity and mortality, by chance.
There is no excuse for this kind of “chance” in today’s society. We, as a global community have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has true choice when it comes to family planning and reproductive health—and that means unapologetically addressing barriers that continue to infringe upon this right, including barriers faced by young people. The report can help us promote true choices if it leads to policies and programs that are rights-based and address unmet need, eliminate barriers to choice, and consider the many social and economic benefits of family planning. As we begin to define a post-2015 sustainability development agenda, now more than ever before, we must ensure that family planning as a human right is at its core—unless of course we prefer to leave it up to chance…”
Justice for Savita – Jessica Valenti at The Nation
I still have not been able to wrap my mind or my heart around what happened to Savita Halappanaver in Ireland, and have been waiting until I have some clarity on the issue. I do not think clarity will come. My heart goes out to Savita, her family, and any woman who is caught in a horrible mess of reproductive rights. Which is to say, if it happens to one, that it happens to all of us. Say it out loud.
“…American women would do well not to dismiss this as a tragedy that could only happen in another country. This is what happens when you legislate something as personal and complicated as pregnancy. How do doctors decide when a woman is close enough to dying to give her an abortion? Or to what degree does a woman’s health need to be at risk?…
Savita’s death is a reminder that no matter how far we think women have come, to some we are simply not people. Our lives are worth nothing, valuable only for our bodies and what they can provide men, the state and the culture. Most days—even when there are constant reminders of our second class status through policy or the media—I can put this feeling aside. But every once in a while there is a stark, horrifying reminder of what it means to be considered less than. There is no way to describe the pain of knowing that to so many—to your country, even—you are nothing.
But we are not nothing. Savita was not nothing. She was a person and she was loved—as we all are. If we want to honor Savita we cannot stand by while others enshrine women’s dehumanization through policy…”
The Big Military Story No One Wants to Talk About Right Now: Rape – Akiba Solomon at Colorlines
Talk around the adultery case now in the news, which I am still unsure why it is public business besides interest in others’ sex lives, focuses on what appears to be consenting adults. The handling of assault and rape cases in the military is now under further scrutiny, given the illegality of adultery in the military institution, and recognizing the attention brought by this public affair could bring further attention. Below, the trailer from Invisible War. And I repeat, say it out loud.
“…Of course the epidemic of unpunished rape within the U.S. military—and the routine silencing of and retaliation against enlisted survivors who dare to report it—isn’t new. Due in large part to the release of the Academy Award-nominated “Invisible War” documentary, the sustained activism of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and several high-profile class action civil suits filed against former and current Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Leon Panetta, the issue has captured headlines. In April, the Pentagon made several changes to its dysfunctional sexual assault protocol, such as extending evidence retention for 50 years and granting service-people who have been assaulted immediate transfers so that they don’t have to report to or interact with their attackers while the crime is being investigated.
These shifts are the bare minimum.
In 2010 alone, there were at least 19,000 intra-military sexual assaults, according to the Defense Department. Further enhancing the trauma, there remains a ban on military insurance coverage of abortions even in the case of rape and incest…”