lifeisurgent

a platform for feminist topics and resources for international women's rights

Justice for Bei Bei!

Bei Bei Shuai, like so many women, found herself in an impossible situation. Abandoned by the man she loved, depressed, she attempted suicide. Thankfully, a friend found her and her life was saved.

When Bei Bei attempted suicide, she was pregnant. When she was saved, she tried to save her baby’s life as well, but sadly, after a Cesarean and much treatment, the girl she named Angel died. Bei Bei was charged with murder and arrested.

After spending a year in jail, Bei Bei is out on bail, but her ordeal is far from over. Her trial is scheduled for next month, and she faces up to 65 YEARS in prison.

As stated on freebeibei.org.:

But this prosecution, while directed against Bei Bei, affects all women and the people who love them throughout the world. It could have the effect of making all pregnant women criminally liable for any actions they may or may not have taken during their pregnancy. As in Bei Bei’s case, this could extend to actions or inactions involving the mother’s mental health.

Please sign this petition to show your support. Bei Bei is NOT a murderer.

Bei Bei Shuai

The Thin Line Between Violence and Art

Check out this post: The Thin Line Between Violence and Art.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – or more specifically, how mass media functions as a well-oiled grooming machine so adept at turning young women into objects that they (we) don’t even realize it is happening. I, for one, must admit that since turning off the television I am so much more comfortable with not just how I look but who I actually am. Imagine that!

Amina Tyler Update

In case you haven’t heard, Amina has been released from jail! The ordeal isn’t over yet (her trial will be held in October), but this is great news!! You can read more about her release, and see more pictures, on Femen‘s official website. For those who signed the petition or showed their support in other ways, THANK YOU! But remember, the fight for Amina and women’s rights in Tunisia isn’t over yet!

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Indepth Article: To Be or Not to Be, Nude! The Predictable Feminist Outrage

My thoughts exactly! And quite eloquent and well-researched to boot.

tunisia reader

To Be or Not to Be, Nude! The Predictable Feminist Outrage

By Swati Parashar on June 10, 2013

Feminism seems to be tracing its step back, and perhaps all for a good cause. The anxiety about location, positionality and authenticity, which feminists had thought was all resolved at the onset of the third wave and its emphasis on diversity of women’s issues and feminist voices, has resurfaced in no uncertain terms.[1] At the International Studies Convention in San Francisco (April 3-6) this year, many panels and round table discussions were devoted to feminism’s ongoing intellectual dilemmas and interventions around diversity, difference and authenticity. One significant argument that emerged out of such discussions was how anger can be instrumental in shaping feminist politics and its radical positions. After all, you don’t study, read feminism, you ‘do’ it, ‘live’ it. Feminist anger is very much in focus these days, but all…

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List of Shame: Vol. 1

WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING CONTENT

  • Tribal Leaders in Northwest Pakistan

There aren’t words strong enough to express my outrage towards the top offenders on my first List of Shame. Women’s rights activist Farida Afridi was murdered in cold blood on July 4, 2013 near Peshawar, in Pakistan. On June 23, 2013, Noor Basra, Noor Sheza, and their mother, Noshehra, were murdered for “staining their family’s honor” by dancing in the rain in Chilas, a small town in northwest Pakistan. All of the murderers have escaped punishment. By effectively sanctioning the murder of a young activist, two teenagers, and an innocent mother, tribal leaders in northwest Pakistan have robbed the world of four very important souls! Despite international condemnation, honor killings continue to go unpunished in Pakistan, and women are being threatened and repressed. Please support SAWERA and the Aurat Foundation to help put an end to these despicable acts of brutal violence against women and children.

  • Dubai and its Justice System

Nothing good can come of a justice system based on Sharia law. The most recent example is the case of Marte Deborah Dalelv, a Norwegian woman who was raped in Dubai in March of this year. She was sentenced to sixteen months in prison for reporting this brutal crime – three months longer than her attacker, I might add. Thankfully, due to international outrage, she was pardoned and allowed to leave the country, but the fact that she was sentenced in the first place shows that something is terribly, terribly wrong in Dubai. Women of the world, take note: the luxe spas, resorts, and hotels of Dubai are nothing but bait in a trap. Sadly, the only active women’s rights organization in the United Arab Emirates is controlled by the state. Support Freedom House and the Global Fund for Women. Use your imagination to help show women in Dubai that we support them! And please, boycott Dubai!

  • Ukrainian Special Forces, Parisian Police, and the Tunisian Justice System

Yesterday, an ally of Femen was beaten to a bloody pulp in what appears to be an attempt by Ukrainian Special Forces to bully the women’s rights activist group into silence. As reported on Femen’s website, Ukrainian police believe the attack was committed by trained professionals, and earlier in the week, Femen had made it known that they would be organizing a protest to coordinate with the arrival of Putin, Lukashenko, and Gundyaev. We all know how tolerant Putin is…(Pussy Riot ring a bell?) and Lukashenko is thought to be behind the 2011 kidnapping of Femen activists.

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Last weekend, the Paris training center of Femen was set ablaze. Femen France has received an amplified number of threats lately, due to the revelation that the design of the newest French postage stamp was largely based on activist Inna Shevchenko. One threat was “burn, witches,” yet Parisian police have declined to investigate. I wonder if this incident would’ve been dismissed so easily if it had occurred at a mosque…or anywhere else, really. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, at this point, but it still completely boggles my brain that such violence against non-violent activists is tolerated. I actually have a lot to say about the strange backlash to Femen, but I think blogger andrew macniven does an excellent job. You can donate to the recovery of Femen’s Paris headquarters here.

And in case you’re wondering, Amina Tyler is still in jail. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 29. Turns out she stood up to prison guards because they were beating a fellow inmate. This woman’s bravery is astounding. Please help raise awareness for her plight – we can’t afford to lose her!

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  • University of South Carolina

Shame, shame on you, USC, for humiliating victims of rape and allowing rapists to go unpunished! When one student reported a rape, she was allegedly told by a campus security officer, “Even though his penis penetrated your vagina, because he stopped, it was not a crime.” What planet does this guy live on? Unfortunately, the Complaint filed by students of USC is just evidence of a much, much larger problem. It seems that universities across America simply do not take sexual crimes seriously. Why? Because they would rather avoid potential scandal and financial fallout than behave responsibly. The way I see it, a university that takes a hard stance on sexual crime is a university I would want my children to attend, but I guess collegiate bigwigs don’t share my opinion. Sign this petition at Change.org and demand justice for survivors of rape!

  • Metropolis Country Club

On June 8, 2013, Tom Neijins and Roseline Remans were intimidated by the police and thrown out of the Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York because Ms. Remans was feeding her child with *gasp* her breasts! So obviously this infraction is not so bad compared with the other offenders on my list, but this involves a pet peeve of mine. The primary function of female breasts is to provide milk. Breastfeeding is not shameful, it is natural! Would the police have been called if, say, rather than sitting quietly at a table on a patio trying to feed her child, Ms. Remans had been on stage in a club gyrating and fingering her nipples? I think not! Interesting how threatened some people are by a woman using her body for any reason other than sexual provocation. More interesting still, the manager who called the police was female. I see this as evidence of a larger cultural problem. Breasts weren’t created to provide male stimulation, people! Women are not objects and breastfeeding is not pornography! Support Collective Shout and Object to help put an end to the sexual objectification of women.

Amina Tyler Update

Three weeks have passed since my first post about Amina Tyler’s unjust imprisonment in Tunisia. With great regret, I must report that the situation has escalated and Amina is in more danger than ever.

As reported on Femen’s official website, Tunisian officials have fabricated two more charges against Amina: insulting prison officials and slandering the Tunisian justice system. With these new charges, Amina now faces up to seven years in a Tunisian jail. A new hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, and I fear for her safety.

Please remember that Amina is not a criminal and has done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment. She is facing persecution for daring to stand up against a misogynist system, and it appears as though the leaders of free nations are turning a blind eye to her plight. Femen activists have been diligently trying to raise awareness for Amina, and Amnesty International, among other organizations, have called for her immediate release to no avail.

Please do not let Amina Tyler become a martyr. Show your political representatives that we care about Amina. Donate to Femen. Visit Change.org and add your name to this petition. Raise awareness in some other way. Do not let Amina slip through the cracks. Show the Salafists that we will not let women be persecuted! Show Tunisia that we are watching and we will not let Amina Tyler disappear without a fight!

Fighting Back: Support Our Indian Sisters

Unfortunately, India has been frequently featured in international headlines lately due to the government’s inability, or unwillingness, to protect its female citizens. Sexual attacks on women and girls are on the rise, and even if the perpetrators are arrested and tried, the justice system systemically fails to successfully prosecute and punish rapists. This impotence is a direct result of the indifference of high-level officials towards the well-being and safety of women and girls. More often than not, the women and children themselves are blamed for provoking the violence simply by existing, as if men were incapable of controlling themselves around anyone with breasts and a uterus. They view women as objects, rather than people.

Gangs of women have been organizing across India to directly combat sexual predation and defend the rights of India’s female citizens. One of the first such gangs to organize is called the Pink Gang, or the Gulabi Gang. This group was founded by Sampat Pal Devi in 2006 to combat the growing tide of sexual violence in Northern India. The Gulabi Gang campaigns for women by confronting abusive male authorities and persuading them to see reason. Just in case the men aren’t interested in listening, all members of the Gulabi Gang carry long bamboo sticks, and know how to use them. Their success has inspired other women across India to follow their example.

The Red Brigade is Lucknow’s answer to the growing epidemic of violence against women. With the help of trained martial artists, Usha Vishwakarma and her comrades turn the tables on their male aggressors. Like the Gulabi Gang, the Red Brigade starts by attempting to reason with male aggressors. If that is not enough, they physically confront the abuser, using martial arts techniques and solidarity to hoist him into the air and beat him with sandals and open fists. While the man is left unharmed, he is shamed and will likely think twice about harassing a woman again.

This new female revolution in India is focused on sustainable culture change. The Gulabi Gang aims to combat all forms of inequality for women, including the tradition of child marriage. By championing women’s rights in rural areas of India, they hope to give other women and young girls the confidence to stand up for themselves and join the fight to end sexual violence for good. Their practices are working, as younger and younger women across India are taking a stand for justice. Many of the Red Brigade’s members are teenagers. Vishwakarma herself is only twenty-five. The courage that they show comes from within, from refusing to give in to fear and intimidation, and from anger at seeing their classmates raped, their countrywomen murdered.

The sad fact is that each girl or woman who is murdered or cowed into silence is one less person, one less mind, one less spirit capable of great things. Who knows how many scientists, surgeons, artists, and philosophers we have lost already to this war against women? This fight belongs to all of us. I, myself, have heard the same misogynist rationality which is such a problem in India repeated among Neanderthal good ol’ boys in my neighborhood: Look at her. She must be asking for it. I say it’s time for women to unite and rise up against this backwards thinking, and I’m not the only one. Show your support by donating directly to one of the organizations I have mentioned, or one of your own choosing. Raise awareness. Show our attackers that we are not so easily intimidated. India’s women are fighting back. Let’s join them.

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Urgent Issue: Free Amina Tyler!

You may have heard about the recent release of three Femen activists from a Tunisian jail. While this is a victory for human rights, the battle is not won. Amina Tyler, a young Tunisian women’s rights activist, and the cause behind the three activists’ protest and subsequent arrest, remains detained beneath a cloak of secrecy in a Tunisian jail.

Amina had the courage to take a stand when she saw a dire threat to the safety and well-being of women take root in Tunisia. She bravely posted non-pornographic topless photographs of herself online, with slogans such as, “My body is my own” and “Fuck your morals” written across her torso. Local Salafist clerics immediately called for her death by stoning. To demonstrate she would not be cowed by this display of hate, she spray-painted “Femen” on a wall. She was arrested for vandalism, and held without bail. Her can of red spray-paint has since been deemed an illegal weapon.

Amina is being detained and prosecuted for unfounded crimes. Her trial is not open to public scrutiny, and she is at the mercy of fundamental Islamist judicial proceedings. When it comes down to it, she is being punished for standing up against the impending tide of Islamic fundamentalism in Tunisia. Her immediate release is of the utmost importance.

I implore you: demonstrate that we find violence against, degradation of, and persecution of women – regardless of nationality, religious preference, race, or sexual orientation – intolerable. Build women up, and we will have global peace. Being a woman is not a crime! Demand the safe release of Amina Tyler!

FREE AMINA TYLER NOW!

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