Feminists in Iran

During all the fear-mongering about Iran and repugnance at the position of women in fundamentalist Islam, it’s good to read that amazing changes, mostly unseen in the West, are happening for the women of Iran.  Here from a BBC report

The revolution, Farah says, was very good for women.

“The revolutionists supported women coming out of their homes to demonstrate. They used women to show their strength, but they never anticipated these women also believed in their right to exist outside the home,” Farah remembers.

… Iran’s genies were let out of the bottle. The same genies have gone on to become active members of theological schools and hold positions as judges and engineers. “I don’t care what they spread, radical or fundamental, whether I believe in it or not, they have a voice, it makes me happy,” Farah says proudly.

There’s no greater evidence of women in the workplace, than where we’re sitting [on the Tehran underground], surrounded by women on their way to work. It’s another outcome the Ayatollah hadn’t expected, but with Iran’s economy battered by the revolution, women had no choice but to join the workforce.

Iran and Women

“It forced men to acknowledge that their wives could go out and earn money,” Farah says. Growing up, Farah only remembers affluent families allowing girls to work outside the home. Now, she says, “Nearly all boys prefer to marry a girl who has a permanent job and good salary. Often the women work harder, and longer hours than their husbands, so they do more of the housework – cleaning and preparing meals.”

Much more, with photos….

Right Wingers Crazy About Womens’ Libido

Mike Huckabee is only the latest to let his own libido out of his mouth as he opined that women couldn’t control theirs.


PTSD and Domestic Violence

Actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame, among other movies, has been a strong spokesperson against domestic violence.  Here he fields a question and links PTSD to much violence against women.


Originally found at Upworthy.com

Citizen Action in Cambodia

In the annals of brave and determined people, Tep Vanny, 31 year old Cambodian mother of two, will have a special place.  No matter that the terror of the Khmer Rouge genocides were barely over the year of her birth, she is standing up to the authorities for what most reasonable people would consider basic rights: a piece of land to stand on.

[In Cambodia] an economy left in ruins by the years of war and violent revolution in the 1970s and 80s grew at a rate of almost 10% a year from 1998 to 2008. Cheap land, cheap labour and rich natural resources have attracted big inflows of foreign investment, especially from Asian neighbours like China, Vietnam and Thailand. That has ignited a property boom.

For the first time in its history Phnom Penh’s skyline is being pierced by modern high-rise towers, offering new office space and luxury apartments. Land prices are soaring, and developers are constantly seeking out new possibilities for construction.

One area they targeted was the city’s largest lake, Boeng Kak. A company owned by a senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Shukaku, was given a 99-year lease to drain and build on the lake in 2007.

cambodia evictions… The bulldozers moved in to start demolishing the flimsy houses around Boeng Kak lake in 2008. There have been clashes with local residents ever since. Some have been beaten by riot police as they tried to block the developers, other have been arrested and charged. Many of them are women.

One of them, 31 year-old Tep Vanny, has become the leader of the women who are still protesting against their treatment by the company. A passionate and outspoken mother of two, she and her husband were previously evicted from land they lived on in Kampong Speu province near Phnom Penh, and moved to Boeng Kak in 2004.

Last year she was charged with rebellion and illegally occupying land, and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. She was released on appeal after two months.

Tep Vanny (left) protesting evictions

Tep Vanny (left) protesting evictions

“I’ve been detained by the police five times,” she told me in the house next to the drained lake that the women use as a campaign headquarters.

“The last time I was sentenced to jail. This is normal in my country. Before I started this work I thought hard about what I would face, but I knew I could not back down. I had to fight the corrupt officials and the greedy companies which are harming the lives of our people.” [BBC: Head]

Now this should be on the tourist routes in South East Asia….

Writing Women In — to Equality

An obituary of Beate Gordon, who died last week at the age of 89, shone a bright light on people who have made enormous differences in the lives of millions, and remained unknown to most of us. Gordon, as a 22 interpreter on General MacArthur’s post war staff in Japan, was assigned to work on women’s rights for the new, US drafted constitution.  Since she had lived in Japan prior to the war, she had seen how women were treated.

“Japanese women were historically treated like chattel; they were property to be bought and sold on a whim,” Ms. Gordon told The Dallas Morning News in 1999. “Women had no rights whatsoever.”

She drafted two articles that became part of Japanese women’s lives.

One, Article 14, said in part, “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

The other, Article 24, gave women protections in areas including “choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters.”

She went on to make further wide reaching contributions to Japanese and American lives with the Japan Society as director of performing arts.

Amazing woman.   NY Times  The Asia Society  Japan Times  and her memoir of those years is The Only Woman in the Room

Pearl Harbor: The Day After, 71 Years Ago

This report-it-as-I-see-it article never appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.  Too upsetting.  And it is upsetting, even 71 years later.  Amazing, and wonderful that the young reporter would still be here (and working) to see it in print.  Not only does she write directly for an unusual audience — women!– she pulls no punches in her descriptions.

For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.

The seven days may stretch to seven years, and the women of Hawaii will have to accept a new routine of living. It is time, now, after the initial confusion and terror have subsided, to sum up the events of the past week, to make plans for the future.

…from the neighborhood called Punchbowl, I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs. Suddenly, there was a sharp whistling sound, almost over my shoulder, and below, down on School Street. I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set.

For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death..

See All at Washington Post


Civilian Casualties at Pearl Harbor

Turkey’s Prime Minister: Abortions are Like Bombing Civilians

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey not only announced his opposition to abortions within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, which has been the law since 1983, he did it using incendiary language and added to it the utter confusion of opposition to cesarean births and the paranoia of ultra nationalism.

“I am a prime minister who opposes Caesarean births, and I know all this is being done on purpose. … “I know these are steps taken to prevent this country’s population from growing further. I see abortion as murder, and I call upon those circles and members of the media who oppose my comments: You live and breathe Uludere. I say every abortion is an Uludere.”

Uludere refers to an attack by the Turkish air force on Kurdish smugglers moving from Iraq into Turkey. Although it happened under his government, and Erdogan first defended the attacks, saying the US did not aid them with drone photos but his military had decided on their own, he has since claimed that apologies had been made to the victims. it would seem an enormous increase in admission of guilt to link the raids to his view of abortion as callous and unjustified murder.

[More on the raids and the confused government response.]

Women’s groups have mobilized and protested his remarks and promise to change the long-standing law. Some have been camping outside his office.

Protesters camped outside the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul

Contraception Crazed Bishops

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times is ever so much a better read when she is being serious than when she lets the snark fleas out.  Today she joins Gary Wills’ article on Sunday, going after the Catholic hierarchy for its assault on women.

The bishops and the Vatican care passionately about putting women in chastity belts. Yet they let unchaste priests run wild for decades, unconcerned about the generations of children who were violated and raped and passed around like communion wine.


Interesting comments about a new Gallup poll on what is considered moral and not moral…. see Maureen


Poetry In Afghanistan

A very good piece in the NY Times about girls writing poetry, in Afghanistan, secretly.

Lima stood to recite her latest poem: a rubaiyat, the Arabic name for a quatrain, addressed to the Taliban.

 You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
Remember this:
One day you will be sick.


Meena’s father pulled her out of school four years ago after gunmen kidnapped one of her classmates. Now she stays home, cooks, cleans and teaches herself to write poetry in secret. Poems are the only form of education to which she has access. She doesn’t meet outsiders face to face.

“I can’t say any poems in front of my brothers,” she said. Love poems would be seen by them as proof of an illicit relationship, for which Meena could be beaten or even killed. “I wish I had the opportunities that girls do in Kabul,” she went on. “I want to write about what’s wrong in my country.” Meena gulped. She was trying not to cry. On the other end of the line, Amail, who is prone to both compassion and drama, began to weep with her. Tears mixed with kohl dripped onto the page of the spiral notebook in which Amail was writing down Meena’s verses. Meena recited a Pashtun folk poem called a landai:


“My pains grow as my life dwindles,
I will die with a heart full of hope.”

Read all

Class War in Texas

This is the way the greatest country in the world treats its poor.  The Republican controlled legislature in Texas already has several mentions in the National Hall of Shame.  They are working towards having a wall all of their own.

Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer.

But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others in the state, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion.

It then goes on to say

As the case in Texas illustrates, such battles are affecting broader women’s health services. Some women have lost the only nearby clinic providing routine care.

Nationally, the newest target is Title X, the main federal family planning program. All four Republican presidential candidates support eliminating Title X, which was created in 1970 with Republican support from President Nixon and the elder George Bush, then a congressman.