By Emma Teitel - Friday, March 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Nothing says free speech like pulling the fire alarm. It was a quarter past seven last night when police emptied U of T’s George Ignatieff Theatre. Keynote speaker Dr. Janice Fiamengo, an English professor at the University of Ottawa, rolled her eyes and adjusted her blouse as the crowd poured out of the building and onto the sidewalk to mingle with the small throng of protesters—pretty girls with big placards and little patience. They wanted Dr. Fiamengo to take her message elsewhere. But firemen came and went, and the professor, once a radical feminist, proceeded to do what the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society, and the Canadian Association for Equality invited her to do: denounce women’s studies.
The discipline has devolved into an “intellectually incoherent and dishonest” one, she argued, replacing a “callow set of slogans for real thought.” It’s man-hating, anti-Western, and fundamentally illiberal. “It champions a “kind of masculinity that isn’t very masculine at all,” and shuts down freedom of debate, hence the fire alarm.
This message was quite pleasing to the minority in the room—greying baby boomers of the pro-Fiamengo, Men’s rights camp–and exceedingly distressing to the majority—by the looks of it, gender studies majors and people who would, if given the opportunity, personally execute Rob Ford. It looked like a small contingent of CARP wandered, bemused, into a Bon Iver concert.
Appearances aside though, it was a meeting of truly lunatic minds.
Fiamengo opened the lecture with a recording of a song written by a male friend: a satirical folk number about the need for men to rise up and take back their masculinity from gender-bending feminists. “Stand our ground/defend our den/it’s time we learned to be men again.” And then there was this: “You don’t have to sit down to pee.”
From here things got progressively awkward. She referenced the male to female death ratio on the Titanic, and declared that “self sacrifice and heroism are not exclusive to men,” “but they are distinctive to men.” Students scowled behind their wayfarers. She railed against affirmative action, a family court system skewed unjustly to favour mothers over fathers, and the deep vein of anti-Western sentiment running through academic feminism that makes it okay to decry gender inequality in the West, and keep quiet about vaginal mutilation and honour killings in the East.
The women’s studies crowd looked constipated. Fiamengo’s arguments weren’t going down easy, this one—her best—in particular: women’s studies “can’t be about the pursuit of truth” because it has an “ideological base.” Its goal is to push the ideology that women are victims and men are perpetrators. Therefore, any evidence to the contrary, regardless of its veracity, is unwelcome. In other words, ideology censors truth. “If you believe you are righteous,” she said, “you don’t challenge other views.”
But you can try. And many did during the question period. When the professor finished her talk on an inspirational note about being relentlessly inquisitive, students and men’s rights activists filled the aisles to lambast and laud her. One man bemoaned the “feminist dictatorship,” another, the legal system that bankrupted him after a divorce. A stout black man in the corner demanded to know what men’s rights groups were doing to help him, as “a racialized person,” exploring different “gender identities.” When a woman complained that the man who spoke before her got more time at the microphone, another woman stood up and yelled in her defence, something to the effect of “That’s because he’s a man!” A young woman with thick black hair in a yellow coat, irked by Dr. Fiamengo’s “heteronormative” answer to her question about lesbian moms, screamed “That is bullshit!” and stormed out of the lecture hall.
Free speech was alive and well at the University of Toronto last night, but in that moment I’d have welcomed its death with open arms.
It was clear that both the professor’s detractors and supporters were, overwhelmingly, nuts. And Dr. Fiamengo herself, was, standing at that podium, a buoy of relative reason in a sea of everything but. “Any movement can attract hysterical detraction and unsavoury allies,” she would tell me over the phone the next morning. “That is the risk one runs.” She’s right. Take this little Facebook diatribe from an active member of A Voice for Men, one of the men’s rights groups who support her.
There has never been a great female composer. Throughout history there has been plenty of privileged woman, who have had access to pianos, and violins, yet somehow we are expected to believe that men have somehow stopped them for being composers? Woman have the big lovely eyes, big tits, but mean [I think he meant “men”] are far more beautiful, they are more beautiful where it counts. In their wonderful creative souls.
Unfortunately, though, the other side is no more intelligent. They just use bigger words.
Almost every pro-women’s studies person who approached the mic last night, spoke another language, a jargon you might misconstrue as scientific–only the words they used weren’t shortcuts meant to simplify or summarize complex concepts, they were used to make simple concepts sound complex: Hegemonic, racialized, problematic, intersectionality. It was pure obfuscation, 1984 with tattoos and septum piercings. Some of the students couldn’t even string together a single lucid sentence. All they had were these meaningless, monolithic words. I felt like I was on a game show, the exercise being how many times can you say patriarchal, phallocentric hegemony in 45 seconds or less. It was frankly, for a feminist, depressing.
Slogans don’t make scholarship and being self-righteous does not make you right.
Going into the talk last night I wasn’t convinced women’s studies needed overhauling. Now I’m positive that it does. Not because I believe fighting misandry is a legitimate humanitarian cause (LOL) or because Dr. Fiamengo’s speech was particularly insightful, but because her detractors—presumably, women’s studies’ finest—were so profoundly, not.
Happy women’s day, everyone.
By Adnan R. Khan - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:11 PM - 0 Comments
Zahida Kazmi has survived deadly roads, a fatwa and family abandonment
When it comes to rating her driving skills, on a scale of one to 10, Zahida Kazmi considers herself an 11. “I’m a better driver than most of the men on the road,” says the 57-year-old. “That’s why I get all the good fares.” Kazmi’s confidence is the product of two decades of doing what no other woman in Pakistan does: drive a taxi. In such a deeply patriarchal society, surviving so long in an industry run by men—and in a country notorious for its deadly roads—is a cause for celebration.
Becoming a taxi driver never frightened her, Kazmi says, sitting upright in her modest house in Rawalpindi, 15 km from Islamabad. “I was a widow with six children. They were my only concern. I wanted to give them a good life and a good education. I had a gun and, being a Pashtun, I knew how to use it. Sure, it was tough at first. The male drivers didn’t accept me, and the taxi drivers’ union refused to help. But once they realized I was serious, and they understood the position I was in, they accepted me.” Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, September 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
The government is putting soap in mouths of citizens after a documentary showed how women are harassed in the streets
If you’re in Brussels and feel the urge to curse, be sure to have plenty of euros on hand: the Belgian capital has announced plans to impose fines for insulting and crude speech. “Any form of insult is from now on punishable,” declared a spokesperson for Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans, “whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise.” Police can impose fines of up to 250 euros when they believe they’ve heard citizens use offensive language. CCTV and witness testimony can be used in their hunt for offenders.
Thielemans’s socialist administration has increased its attempt to clean up the city since a documentary, Femme de La Rue, made secret recordings that called attention to the sexual harassment and ugly language being directed at women in Brussels. In addition to the anti-swearing ordinance, the mayor has proposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol in convenience stores: he says he’s trying to apply the same techniques that have already worked against “littering and peeing in the street.” Though he didn’t say whether using the term “peeing in the street” could now get you fined.
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM - 0 Comments
Golshifteh Farahani, a beloved and apolitical Iranian film star, went from pride to pariah
Golshifteh Farahani would have to choose between her country and her art—that much was clear even before the ayatollahs invited the Iranian film star to stay away from her homeland. It was retribution for baring her breast eight months ago in a video to promote the Césars, the French equivalent of the Academy Awards. But Farahani had already been banned from working in her homeland and fined $2.5 million for failing to wear a hijab at a Hollywood premiere. She’d been living in France for four years, a de facto exile.
The 29-year-old phenom has since come to embody the self-spiting nature of Tehran’s moralism and its growing distance from the liberal-thinking world. Celebrated before the hijab incident for her success in Western cinema, Farahani was a national icon whom Iranians had watched grow up on the screen. Her breakthrough performance at 14 in The Pear Tree set the table for a whirlwind rise in her own country, while opening doors abroad. Her roles include the lead in M for Mother, where she played a pregnant woman who had been gassed during the Iran-Iraq war, and a starring turn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies, a CIA thriller directed by Ridley Scott (it was the first appearance by an Iranian woman in a Hollywood film since the Islamist revolution of 1979). Versatility is Farahani’s meal ticket: she can summon smouldering heat or emotional isolation with equal alacrity—in the same scene, if necessary.
Will the international release this week of About Elly, Farahani’s latest film, directed by her compatriot, Asghar Farhadi, about the complex social dynamics hidden in the lives of middle-class Iranian families, give Tehran pause? Likely not. In the wake of the Césars scandal, the actress was denounced in government statements as the “hidden, disgusting face of cinema.” Her parents in Tehran got a phone call in their apartment from a man who identified himself as an official with the supreme court of the Islamic Republic, and who yelled over the line that their daughter’s breasts would be cut off and brought to them on a plate.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 14, 2012 at 2:46 PM - 0 Comments
In a speech in Montreal, John Baird lays out the Harper government’s international agenda as a champion of women’s rights and gay rights.
Speaking out when we see hate and violence also means we cannot be selective about which basic human rights we defend, nor can we be arbitrary about whose rights we protect. Sadly, this is something lost on too many people who hold power.
In my time as Foreign Minister, I have directly confronted some of these people, and I’ve done so because there are times when diplomacy must be balanced with tough, direct talk. Speaking the truth to power. I do so, standing firm on the principles that have made Canada economically prosperous and rich with diversity.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian author has given more than $1 million in royalties to charity
Back in 2000, when she first published The Breadwinner and dedicated the royalties from it to an Afghan women’s group, Canadian writer Deborah Ellis hoped, for its sake, the novel would earn back the entire $3,000 publisher’s advance. Today, after 9/11 and the shift of international focus to Afghanistan, The Breadwinner and its two sequels (Parvana’s Journey and Mud City) are one of the most famous trilogies in recent tween literature, and their royalties total more than $1 million. The money has all gone to causes dear to Ellis—mostly, via Canadian Women For Afghanistan, for girls’ education in the war-torn nation—although Mud City’s returns are dedicated to Street Kids International. “I don’t notice it going,” says Ellis, laughing, in an interview at Pomegranate, a Persian restaurant in Toronto. “It’s all whisked away before I see it, like an automatic savings plan.”
Ellis, 52, has now published 20 books, and even without the financial boost of her bestsellers, the Simcoe, Ont., author was able to leave her job as a mental health counsellor five years ago to become a full-time writer. But long before her writing career began, Ellis was passionately interested in what she calls “peace and justice” issues, from anti-war activism to women’s rights. They all coalesced in 1996 after the Taliban captured Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and gave free reign to misogyny. “Here I was,” says Ellis, “a woman in Canada, used to doing what I want, going where I want—I couldn’t imagine living under a government that restricted that because of my gender.”
Travelling on her savings, she went to an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan the next year, and again in 1999, and did what she could to help, which turned out to be recording the stories of the women in the camps. Ellis collected a depressingly familiar litany of war horrors, and a few stories specific to the Taliban’s rule: girls’ schools destroyed, women beaten for being out without male accompaniment, and young girls working dressed as boys, risking drastic retribution to bring home a little money or food. She put it all into The Breadwinner, about courageous 11-year-old Parvana, who assumes her dead brother’s place after her father is imprisoned in order to provide for her mother and sisters. The response, financially and critically, was massive, and Ellis can expect more of the same now that her iconic heroine is back in her newest novel, My Name is Parvana.
By Emma Teitel - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
But the country’s highest-ranking female official insists she always wears it
Saudi Arabia is not keen on women’s rights. Under their version of sharia law, women are not allowed to drive a car or even leave their homes without donning black robes. They must go everywhere with a male guardian and currently are not allowed to vote. At a United Nations summit in New York, Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarch, King Abdullah, once defended his country’s record on women’s rights: “It is absurd,” he said, “to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs and principles.”
In 2009, Abdullah changed his tune, appointing Norah al-Faiz, a female teacher and mother of five to the post of deputy education minister. She remains the highest-ranking female official in the Saudi government, the first woman made a deputy minister. Progressives in the country were thrilled; Faiz became a symbol of change, although she is forced to interact with her male colleagues via a closed-circuit TV. It allows her to speak with them from another room, but bars them from seeing her. Still, “there was lots of excitement,” says Tara Huda Silver, a researcher with the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, particularly from Saudi women. Finally, it seemed the country was relaxing its grip on women’s freedoms.
Then came the photographs. Ever since her appointment, Faiz has been dogged by one of the world’s strangest political controversies. After her appointment, the Saudi newspaper al-Watan published a photo of the new minister wearing a white headscarf, her face exposed. Faiz claims she always wears a niqab, a face veil worn by conservative women. “I am a Saudi woman from Najd, and thus I wear the niqab,” she said, alluding to her extremely devout home region, where the niqab is virtually compulsory. “I will never allow the publishing of my photo in newspapers and I will not accept that it be put up anywhere.”
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 1:38 PM - 0 Comments
“We naturally started decoding the rules of the game.”
That’s what Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso–co-hosts of the highly polarizing, “female friendly”, hockey broadcast While the Men Watch–revealed on daytime television last year, long before their CBC endorsed broadcast went on the air.
If you tuned into that broadcast Saturday night, and again on Tuesday, like I did, you’d know that they’ve succeeded with flying colours. Not only have Sutherland and Mancuso decoded the rules of the game: they’ve mastered them. They just don’t want you to know about it.
How do I know about it?
Because every so often during the broadcast, Sutherland and Mancuso would accidentally slip out of character, ditch their–OMG-hockey-is-so-boring-but-Lundqvist-isn’t-banter, to reveal, if only for a moment, just how naïve and ignorant about hockey they aren’t. In other words, comments like this–“If you can’t score on a power play something’s not jiving”—and this–”Gagne is coming in after being out since September”–were cut short and heavily overshadowed by obviously feigned questions about the rules of the game: i.e. making an observation about a team’s power play performance and then asking, naively, for someone to explain what exactly a power play is.
During Tuesday night’s broadcast, their eyes were fixed not on the camera, but on the game, as they tried their best to discuss whose celebrity wife was in the stands, or how much they used to “crush” on Wayne Gretzky.
And that’s what makes While the Men Watch so offensive to women. It’s not—as half the female Twitterverse would have you believe—the propagation of a myth that Canadian women don’t like or know about hockey—but the reality that women who do know and like hockey have based their broadcast on the premise that they don’t. This is clearly the subterfuge they figure they need to foster in order to appeal to all those hockey-disaffected women out in the Great White Beyond. That, and a tone of discourse that’s shallow and dumb—when obviously the best way to appeal to women and everyone else is to be shallow and clever.
The interesting thing? While the Men Watch may have emerged out of Sutherland and Mancuso’s “frustration with their sports-addicted husbands” but listen in, and it’s obvious that in the process the show has turned them into sports-addicts themselves. If only they’d stop pretending otherwise.
Which wouldn’t necessarily mean they’d have to ditch their gossip-rag analysis of hockey. Sports culture could use a little bit more gossip. But why steep the idea in ignorance? Why can’t you be a woman who is superficial and informed; knowledgeable about hockey and interested in dissecting the players’ looks or the coaches’ fashion faux pas.
I remember watching Leafs games at my aunt’s house when I was a kid (when the Leafs actually made the playoffs) and watching my aunt—who was just as glued to the game as her husband and all the other men in the room—repeatedly and mercilessly rag on Pat Quinn for his schlubby wardrobe and incessant gum chewing (which she found especially repulsive.) She didn’t have to feign ignorance about the game itself in order to have fun or be funny.
It’s too bad Mancuso and Sutherland think they do. Because though they haven’t (as their detractors like to claim) set the clock back on women’s rights 50 years, they’ve done something equally insidious.
They’ve proven that dumbing yourself down is a great way for a girl to get ahead.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Finding relief in a public toilet is free of charge for men but not women in the Indian city
Women in Mumbai can own property and vote. They even make up half of the city’s civic authority, a collection of elected and unelected officials. Something they can’t do, however, is pee for free. Women have to pay a fee to use their city’s public toilets, while men do not. And, not surprisingly, the women aren’t happy about it. As a result, 35 NGOs have teamed up to launch a campaign called “Right to Pee,” urging authorities to eliminate the public toilet fee and bring in other amenities for women.
A 2009 study by the Center for Civil Society found that Mumbai had only 132 public toilets designated for women—several of which required extensive repairs—while the men had 1,534. The situation is so dire, women often resort to carrying a bag with them, a solution known as the “flying toilet.” And because only half of India’s homes have toilets, public sanitation is more important than ever.
So far the 35 NGOs have collected over 7,000 residents’ signatures on the “Right to Pee” petition, which they are going to present to Mumbai’s civic authority—its female half, in particular.
By Paula Todd - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
A delegation goes after the region’s strongmen by using the clout of Nobel women
A filthy maze of streets crammed with battered cars and sullen soldiers is at the heart of one of the world’s most dangerous cities, but the first thing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams does is make herself a target here. In a baseball cap and jeans, she jumps from a rented van and climbs quickly onto a makeshift stage in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa to grab a microphone: “Feliz Día de la Mujer! Happy Women’s Day!” she shouts in fluent Spanish, acknowledging the 57th anniversary of the day Honduran women got the right to vote. “We are here to support you, to celebrate your courage.”
Women and girls of all ages clap and sing before her, while unsmiling men with cellphones hover and a ragtag circus of hawkers, tortilla-makers and red-eyed teens clutching soda bottles of glue watch in dazed curiosity from the sidelines. It’s not every day in this ravaged country, currently ranked No. 1 in the world for murders by the United Nations, and temporarily deserted by the Peace Corps, that two dozen prominent Canadian and American lawyers, analysts, businesswomen, activists, artists and journalists—led by a Nobel Peace Prize winner—commandeer public space. And in this region, where girls dodge a barrage of physical and psychological assaults just to reach womanhood, the air snaps with both exhilaration and anxiety.
“It is very bad no matter what government. Women are always raped, beaten, killed. Always humiliated,” says Francisca Romera, 58, opening her mouth to show smashed teeth bubbling with infection. “I was beaten when I talked against the government.” Nearby, Anna Amader begs for help as her hungry little girl fingers her breast through a thin blouse. “It’s very hard here,” she says. “There is so much crime, gangs. They use guns. I just want my children to go to school.”
By Erica Alini - Monday, December 6, 2010 at 3:20 PM - 0 Comments
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case became an international movement
“I am a sinner,” a woman wrapped in a black chador told TV-watchers in Iran in a public broadcast on Nov. 15. She said so in her native Azeri language, spoken in the country’s northwest region, but subtitles in Farsi, Iran’s language, made it clear to everyone: she was a sinner.
It was the second TV “confession” for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two who faces death by stoning for adultery and by hanging for complicity in her husband’s murder. Tragic as they may be, Ashtiani’s circumstances are not unique in Iran. According to press reports, since 2001 at least 27 female convicts have died the horrific death Iran’s sharia law prescribes to punish women’s infidelity, and another 12 await the same fate in prison. But it was the image of Ashtiani’s iconic pale face framed by the black chador that galvanized human rights activists across the world, from Laureen Harper to topless Ukrainian feminists. And it was the publicity around her case that caused Iran to lose its bid for a seat in the United Nations’ women’s rights body last month, while Saudi Arabia got in.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
A man has the right to discipline his wife and kids—as long as he does not leave his mark
The definition of what constitutes “beating” one’s family members is now a bit clearer in the United Arab Emirates. According to the country’s Supreme Court, a man has the right to discipline his wife and kids—as long as he does not leave his mark.
The judgment was made in the case of an unnamed man from Sharjah, the third-largest emirate of the U.A.E. He had beaten his daughter and slapped his wife, leaving bruises and minor injuries. (One U.A.E. expert on sharia says a husband can resort to violence as a form of punishment for an action that threatens the unity of his family, only if other options—like admonishments or abstaining from sex with his wife—do not achieve the desired result.) The highest court in the U.A.E. upheld the man’s right to discipline his family, but it decided his use of force was too severe and put him in breach of the law. Also, in the case of his 23-year-old daughter, the court declared that she was too old for such a punishment. “Although the [law] permits the husband to use his right [to discipline],” the ruling said, “he has to abide by the limits of this right.” In other words, the man could beat his wife and daughter—as long as he did so softly and within the legal age limit.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
What got Rona Ambrose upset, Jack Layton’s out-of-date bobble-head, and Another Newman says goodbye
What got Rona Ambrose upset
Rona Ambrose, minister for status of women, was recently in Israel where she met with her counterpart Gila Gamliel. Ambrose also toured the Israeli-Lebanese border and met three brigades of female soldiers. The women’s job is to protect the frontier through intelligence gathering and high-tech surveillance. The leader of the brigades told Ambrose that when the women are done serving, high-tech companies swoop in and hire them because their skills are in such demand. The minister also met the leader’s commander, 45-year-old Lt.-Col. Dov Harari. The two talked about the hardware store Harari owned with his brother and then chatted about his family. When Ambrose discovered the commander had relatives in Toronto, she asked whether he had ever been to Canada. He hadn’t he said. Ambrose encouraged him to come visit, but Harari pointed to the border he had been working to protect so much of his life, and said, “I have this to take care of.” Last week, Ambrose’s staff broke the news to her that Harari was killed in the recent skirmish on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Ambrose, who had been very impressed with Harari, was visibly upset by the news.
Among her other projects, Ambrose is now working with Governor General Michaëlle Jean on a special conference. The plan is to have a gathering of all the women who have influenced Jean to celebrate the end of her term.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
The calories on the bus go . . ., Aren’t you a bit young?, Honour killings and Rona Ambrose
The calories on the bus go . . .
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is in the midst of his Liberal Express bus tour across the country. The bus has a supply of granola bars, a fridge stocked with Red Bull and “whatever food we picked up at the last farmers’ market we visited,” notes Ignatieff’s press secretary Michael O’Shaughnessy. After the Barrie, Ont., farmers’ market, for instance, there were “fresh cherries and some cinnamon buns.” There’s a water cooler on the bus and everybody writes their name on a hard plastic water bottle to minimize waste. There are also lots of flowers: Iggy’s wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, receives a bouquet or two daily at stops. At Tim Hortons breaks, Ignatieff, who drinks black coffee before 11 in the morning and steeped tea in the afternoon, will often pick up a 40-pack of Timbits for everyone. The bus recently stopped at the hamburger joint Webers, a famous pit stop in Ontario cottage county. While he was there, Iggy met Mike McParland, a.k.a. “Key Man,” who has been flipping burgers at Webers since July 1963 and carries signature clanking jail keys. Key Man took Ignatieff behind the grill to try him out and “was impressed with the leader’s flip of the wrist.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 17, 2009 at 11:13 PM - 23 Comments
March 31. “If these reports are true, this will create serious problems for Canada,” said International Trade Minister Stockwell Day. ”The onus is on the government of Afghanistan to live up to its responsibilities for human rights, absolutely including rights of women … If there’s any wavering on this point from the government of Afghanistan, this will create serious problems and be a serious disappointment for us.”
April 1. Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he will use this week’s NATO summit to put “direct” pressure on his Afghan counterparts to abandon the legislation. “That’s unacceptable — period,” he said Wednesday. “We’re fighting for values that include equality and women’s rights. This sort of legislation won’t fly.”
April 2. Immigration MInister Jason Kenney reiterated the government’s deep concern about the law, but he did not raise the spectre of holding back aid money. Instead, he said the government plans to use its “significant influence” with the Karzai government. ”Obviously our men and women [of the Canadian Forces] have been in Afghanistan to defend human rights and that includes women’s rights. And we intend to use it in every way possible to ask that the right of women be protected,” Kenney said.
April 2. “We haven’t had a chance yet to talk with the other ministers, so we haven’t made any decisions or had any discussions on next steps,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said. “It’s very problematic. It’s a great concern and it is going to be a difficulty for Canada.”
April 4. “The involvement in the international community, and particularly Canada and our NATO allies, is based on the pursuit of very fundamental values in opposition to the kinds of values the Taliban stood for,” Harper told a news conference … ”If we drift from that, there will be a clear diminishment in allied support for this venture,” Harper said.
April 6. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says he has been assured by the Afghan government that it will remove “contentious clauses” from a proposed law that critics say legalizes marital rape. Cannon said he spoke to the Afghan foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on Sunday. ”He reassured me that the law will not be implemented as it stands now, the more contentious parts of the law have been taken out, and the minister of justice in Afghanistan has the obligation to rewrite the law,” Cannon told CTV Newsnet’s Power Play.
Today. Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families. Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”
By John Parisella - Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM - 11 Comments
The video depicting the abhorrent flogging of a Pakistani teenage girl by the Taliban…
The video depicting the abhorrent flogging of a Pakistani teenage girl by the Taliban in the Swat region has sent shockwaves around the world. Rightly so. The recent controversy over a law that was passed (and is now under review) by the Karzai government in Afghanistan illustrates that, eight years after the fall of the Taliban, there is still a long way to go for women’s rights in the region. We now know that Karzai is far from the patriot the Bush administration would have had us believe. Fortunately, Barack Obama has distinguished between his new Afghan strategy and the issue of women’s rights in that part of the world.
It would be tragic if the progress made to advance women’s rights, minimal as it is, was abandoned as part of a political deal to keep “American allies” in power. When we observe the atrocities that many women still face in many parts of the world—too often in countries where Islam reigns—it is time to state loud and clear that women’s rights is the human rights issue of the 21st century. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 4:43 PM - 16 Comments
During Jim Flaherty’s noon teleconference he was asked if his government had shown itself to be tone deaf to the present political situation and the profound economic turmoil would seem to supersede all else. I do not recall a subsequent admission of haplessness from the Finance Minister.
A short while later though, he was asked about opposition criticism for another part of his fiscal update: the proposed changes to the rules governing pay equity for women. Mr. Flaherty said he had not heard of such complaints, nor had he been informed by his staff of any such complaints.
That admission is altogether remarkable. Not least because the Prime Minister’s Office has just sent out a press release trumpeting its ability to eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of other parties. Continue…