Monday, April 26, 2010

Facebook or Facecrook? Holding Facebook accountable for so many things isn't easy. To Boycott or Not?

[A bit of this post has been changed/revised, on 27 April, 2010ECD, since being posted yesterday.]

 [image is from here, and can be found at site linked to by clicking on "HOW FACEBOOK STOLE MY FREEDOM", below]

This is a post about Facebook's silencing of acceptable speech, its unwillingness to do all it can to keep folks save from predators, and other problems with Facebook that, to date, they have not addressed or corrected.

I begin this post with a link to an account of Facebook's homophobia, written and reported by Darian Zam. (Darian, imo, could stand to learn how fucked up it is to use the term "r*tard". But it's not the use of THAT discriminatory and hurtful term that he got in trouble for. Oh, no.) You can click on the title just below read his story of being silenced by Facebook for really silly reasons. I wouldn't quite say Facebook stole his freedom, but you can read for yourself:


[Here's just the beginning of his story:]

So, people want to know, why did I get my account deleted from Assbook TM?
Isn't it obvious? I say what I am thinking, (but not usually before thinking about it). I'm very rude and it annoys the hell out of everyone!
Seriously, I made a sarcastic remark about the "sanctity" of traditional marriage having little merit as my status:

May 24 Darian Zam is dubious about straight marriage given the track record, but thinks they should still be allowed to.
I left it there for three or so days for a change, just simply because I have been WAY too busy with work to have time for recreational activities.

I had my account disabled [by Facebook]
*           *           * 

This is something to ponder: 410 MILLION people are members of one online social networking service: Facebook. Of them, 175 MILLION log on daily. WOW! That does present many options for many things to occur. Given that most people on Facebook are social dominants, by class, race, and/or gender, I have not been surprised to learn how many antifeminist groups have existed there. But some feminist groups are there as well. Does Facebook serve or do a disservice to radical activists? Who does it report and how? What is its stance with making safety issues for underage people and anyone else who may be victimised by a cyber-predator, who is also a sexual predator offline? More on that issue is linked to below.

But in all honesty, this may be the most self-serving post ever on my blog!!!

I have had a Facebook page for about three years. I've deactivated it when I wasn't visiting or using it much, but in the last weeks I've been more active on it, posting critiques of white het men, networking with radical feminists, and putting up links to some of this blog's posts. All of this is within the stated acceptable uses of Facebook.

I also have publicly warned feminists about an antifeminist man posing as a feminist woman, in order to gain access to personal information about feminists with Facebook pages. Again, this is acceptable to Facebook, according to their rules and regs. I have also witnessed people going on Facebook pretending to be a DECEASED radical feminist. This is against their policy. That page is still up.

But suddenly (a couple of days ago and currently, with no word or warning from them) I can't log on to Facebook, and a message page comes up when I try to telling me "your account has been deactivated". I have written to a couple of the most relevant departments about this, and have heard nothing back from them. I still have no reason, no explanation, for why my page was shut down. People, this is not the worst thing in the world. I promise, I'll get through this. Life does, as they say, go on.

But Facebook has been critiqued lately for not employing a "panic button" system to help protect victims of sexual predation. This button system is in place in many other online social networking sites. Why not on Facebook?

Also, as noted above and below, Facebook routinely and with no accountability or sense of  responsibility to its members, de-activates accounts without telling people what they did that warranted that action. Why? 

For those reasons and others, I'm posting what follows. I think there's about 8000 more important things that dealing with this, to be clear. The issue of providing a clear and easy way to sound an alarm about predators on Facebook seems like the most important issue that's come up to date, aside from the fact that sex offenders are all over the place, and rampant antifeminism, and gross features and fun personality test questionnaires that appear on Facebook, such as "Which Serial Killer are You?". And the practice of "buying and selling" people, just as a joke--[I'm not laughing]--on Facebook.

For more on the panic button/predation issue, see *here*. I'd like to see Facebook be more accountable and responsible about these issues and others. I'm not sure the Facebook addicts can get on board with a boycott. We'll see. It is worth knowing how much people are growing dependent on one website for social networking and connecting with family and friends, colleagues and activists.

Here's one person's (screenname: "mrblonde") call for a boycott, with comments to him below, about experiences they have had. Some of their concerns dovetail with mine, some do not. But here's the information, all of which is from, *here*. Whoooo knew there was a boycott owl??? ;) That attempt at humor was for Ellen Degeneres. She'll get it.

Boycott of Facebook

Facebook boycott details

Boycott Originator

mrblonde | Email this user

Boycott Title

Facebook Deactivating Accounts Without Notice

Boycott Description

There are posts all over the Internet about Facebook banning people and their accounts with absolutely no notice and no way to contact them to learn why. This is totally unacceptable. I know they are a free service but so many people depend upon their Facebook pages for both personal and professional reasons that they should offer some type of customer service. Facebook must have so many users that they don't to care about upsetting so many people so let's see if we can join together to make our numbers even bigger!

Boycott Demands

My demands are simple and are shared by hundreds (if not thousands) of other people whose comments I have read all over the Internet:
  • Implement a system to notify us when Facebook deactivates accounts
  • Provide a clear reason why the account has been disabled
  • Tell us specifically what we need to do in order to reactivate our account
65 people have joined this boycott

Boycotts of this company Total views of this boycott
Company responses
4 2,133
Boycott Comments
Click here to add a comment for this boycott.
Facebook Deactivated with NO warning - 4/12/10 12:00 AM
Facebook Deactivated with NO warning I was on my account on Saturday morning, updated my status, went back 2 hours later and my account had been deactivated!  There was NO warning! I then emailed them asking why they had done it. I have ALL my family photos on there, some on there that I lost when my previous laptop crashed so those are all I have. I have all my overseas friends from school on there!  I have had no warnings, they just deactivated the account! And no one bothers to get back to me!!!! I have just under 2000 contacts! I do charity work through Facebook as well as run my ladies events as well. This is not right!
Regaining HACKED Facebook Account - 3/10/10 9:54 PM
Regaining HACKED Facebook Account My account was recently Hacked. Someone requested a EMAIL CHANGE on my account and Facebook allowed this to happen. Now my account is in total suspension. Seems they want to place the responsibility on me for Malicious Software on my workstation. They even went as far as to suggest my EMAIL ACCOUNT was compromised. NOT! I reported this incident withing 45 minutes after my wife sent me an email stating that someone was on chat asking for money to get me back from LONDON! I was asked by Facebook to send an email with a scanned ID ( in this case a drivers license ) and answer a few questions regarding my DOB and residence. DONE. A week later and I am nowhere with Facebook after COUNTLESS EMAIL and sending all correspondence that has taken place with each of my attempts for some answers..but all I get is a reference BACK to the link from which I submitted the initial HACK. Geese...somebody must have removed all pages except 1-4 of their TECHNICAL SERVICES MANUAL used by the Facebook Team ( of losers ).
Customer Service? What a JOKE! - 3/9/10 12:14 PM
Customer Service? What a JOKE! 2 weeks ago Facebook disabled my account with NO warning. I went thru every step possible in the "help" section. I have never received an email concerning the issue. I had an old account that was unused for 2 years I had cancelled. I was able to go back to the old account which was STILL active and start using it again but I have lost everything on my main account and Facebook could obviously care less.
facebook is crap! - 2/28/10 11:05 AM
facebook is crap! Hello all,
My facebook account was hacked into this past week and the hacker not only changed my password, so that I no longer was able to acces my account, but they were also using my account to contact all of my friends/family and requesting money to help get "me" out of a foreign country. I went to the help and support page, which was a waste of my time. You can't even ask for help without either paying for it, or fitting into a pre-selected very very vague catagory. I didn't even get an e-mail response sending me the link to reset my password when I clicked on the forgot password link. Due to the overwhelming amount of complaints that have NOT heard a response, I was afraid to validate payment wondering if they would collect the money and still not respond. Now my account has totally vanished into thin cyber space, and there is nothing I can do about it.
AGREE WITH "WHAT A MESS" - 2/5/10 11:25 AM
facebook account Disabled - 12/22/09 1:50 PM
facebook account Disabled my facebook account has been disabled. I can not get any help at all!! I have put alot of time and effort into my account, having played mafia wars for along time now, and all my 2000 friends are gone. I got no warning or reason to why my account was shut down. I would like my account back before I lose my mafia wars game altogether, and if I have to start again I will NOT. use FB, thats for sure.
Ticked at FACECROOK - 12/9/09 7:12 PM
Ticked at FACECROOK I say somebody who has time to set-up a youtube video about facebook not getting back to us all would send a message to users of F.B. and to the MORONS that aren't helping us. The dude is a billionare and can't even set up HELP for us users that MADE him rich!!! Bull frogs!! I am a victim of this as well and I am NOT happy but I don't have the time to youtube, plus I am not that talented. Or, you can email fox cable news to expose those incompetent no good caring jerks!!!! I just want to get in my account delete everything and then tell them to go fly a kite somewhere crappy. Hopefully someone reading this who is creative and talented could come up with a youtube video that will spark interest in this matter and get a fire under their tushes to get this resolved last year!! Thanks! p.s. they are holding "our" information hostage.......


I've been posting about the magnificent and courageous work of feminist activist Malalai Joya, and now is your time to show one form of support. See below, and link back to the source of what follows if you wish, *here*.

VOTE TODAY-- help Afghan feminist Malalai Joya win People's Choice award Print E-mail

Published by Campaign for Peace and Democracy   
Monday, 26 April 2010
ImageWe're hoping you can take a minute to help Afghan feminist and parliamentarian Malalai Joya win the People's Choice Human Rights Award. ( The voting closes today -- Monday, April 26th -- and it's a very close race. Please vote for Malalai and pass this on to friends.

The Campaign for Peace and Democracy co-sponsored a public forum in New York City with Malalai last October, and she has been key to our work opposing the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition to the well-deserved recognition, Malalai would receive $1000 towards her humanitarian work in Afghanistan. You can vote here:

You will be asked for a password, but you can create it on the spot with no hassle.

This Wikipedia entry about Malalai will give you an idea of who she is:

Malalai Joya (born April 25th, 1978) is an Afghan politician who has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan." As an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga from Farah province, she has publicly denounced the presence of what she considers warlords and war criminals in the parliament. She is an outspoken critic of both the Taliban as well as the present Afghan government of Karzai and its western supporters.

In May 2007, Joya was suspended from the parliament on the grounds that she had insulted fellow representatives in a television interview. Her suspension, which is currently being appealed, has generated protest internationally and appeals for her reinstatement have been signed by high profile writers, intellectuals such as Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, and politicians including Members of Parliament from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. Joya has been compared to the symbol of Burma's democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Joya has written a memoir with Canadian writer Derrick O'Keefe.[6] under the title of Raising My Voice.

Please vote now at  -- and, if you can, send us a brief email at cpd@igc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to let us know you've cast your vote.

In peace and solidarity
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Campaign for Peace and Democracy       cpd@igc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. Remember that the Campaign for Peace and Democracy now has a Facebook group. Please join us!

Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12 | New York, NY 10025 

"Man Boobs", or Oh, Please, with "Boobquake" and the White Het Guys selfishly being ALL FOR IT!

[this image of yet another obnoxious WHM jerk, is from here]

Mild warning: another man boob is featured below.

Please click on the title of the piece that follows, to link back to the original source. I don't think extensive analysis is needed here.

Russell Blackford thinks he's NOT a "pseudo-feminist" by defending and promoting the Boobquake phenomenon. Clearly, Russell Blackford is a big boob. Here's his very silly (but apparently well-argued because he mentions a feminist, discusses feminism, and tells us all what really smart people--white het guys--think about this matter.

In Support of Boobquake

Russell Blackford
Russell Blackford
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club

Posted: Apr 26, 2010

Good for Jen McCreight of Blag Hag for coming up with the idea of Boobquake.
For those who don’t know, this little meme ridicules the idea that “immodest” dressing by women leads to lascivious thoughts from men, which results in fornication and adultery—which, in turn, cause earthquakes. The idea was proposed a few days ago by a senior cleric in Iran, but of course it’s in line with the common thought in Islam that there’s something wrong with a woman “showing her beauty to the world”. Christianity is not much better, of course: there’s a long tradition of Christian theologians problematising women’s (and men’s) bodies, deprecating sexual beauty, and expressing anxiety about sex itself.

Go back to the Church Fathers, to Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome, for example, and look at what they have to say. Their writings are saturated with ideas of sexual sin and shame. Those ideas have carried right through to the present day, but they are absurd, miserable, and life-denying ... and they deserve our mockery. They exemplify the way that religion does dirt on the good things that this world has to offer.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of 1980s pseudo-feminism that took a similar attitude to that of Christianity and Islam, problematising displays of female beauty and even expressing disgust with heterosexuality itself. The worst offender was the egregious Andrea Dworkin—who died relatively young back in 2005. In her case, good riddance. These pseudo-feminists merely use feminist-sounding language to rationalise the religion-based anti-sex morality into which they were socialised. But they lack the self-insight to understand that it’s what they’re doing.

Get it clear: there is nothing wrong with the beauty of the human body, male or female, nothing wrong with enjoying it, and nothing wrong with displaying it to the world. If you’ve been blessed with physical beauty, then for Aphrodite’s sake display it; take pleasure in your good fortune, and let other people take pleasure in it. Strut your stuff, and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed about so-called “immodesty”. Feel free to scorn the moralism of Islamic clerics and anyone else who tries to put you down.

I find it incredible that there’s still so much irrational, religion-based shame and guilt about the body even within Western societies: so much fear of the body’s beauty, and of its power to arouse sexual feelings. We see this shame, guilt, and fear even among atheists, many of whom have not fully liberated themselves from traditional morals. (For Zeus’s sake, what’s the point of being an atheist if you still buy into the same morality as the religionists? You need to get beyond that.)
Let’s return to a healthy pagan value-set. For the Greeks, beauty, creativity, analytical intelligence, athletic ability, and many other things would have been seen as excellences that it’s good for a human being to have. Unfortunately, few of us possess them all (I most certainly don’t!), but all of them are worthy of enjoyment and celebration wherever and whenever we do encounter them. All of these human excellences open up possibilities of one kind or another, and give a sort of power to those who possess them; all of them are admirable; and all of them can be used to bring pleasure to others.
Anxiety about the body and its beauty is sometimes rationalised on the basis that we should value cognitive abilities above physical beauty, though I’d love to see a rational argument as to why we should adopt any particular hierarchy of values. In any event, this is not a zero-sum game. You can have many of these human excellences; they don’t exclude each other; and you can take a proper pride in them all. (As it happens, most of the beautiful women whom I’ve been fortunate enough to know have also been highly intelligent and creative. But why expect otherwise?)
Apparently, judging from this follow-up post, Jen McCreight has been given a hard time by some of the remaining pseudo-feminists—Dworkin has gone, but they’re not quite extinct—who still purvey a miserable 1980s ideology. Well, let them, but they deserve no more respect than Islamic clerics, or Vatican officials, or irrationalists of any other species.

Russell Blackford is a fellow of the IEET, an attorney, science fiction author and critic, philosopher, and public intellectual. Dr. Blackford serves as editor-in-chief of the IEET's Journal of Evolution and Technology. He lives in Newcastle, Australia, where he is a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle.


I am trying to get a patent for 'artificial cleavage' which will let anyone get the boobs they want without surgery. It would be a holographic projection from a necklace.

Hi Russell,

Are you referring to Andrea Dworkin's work to hold pimps accountable for what they do when trafficking women? Or her work to challenge rape as natural and inevitable? Or her work to show that pornography is an industry comprised of gross sexual exploitation, profiting corporate pimps, not women as a class.

I'm unclear from your statements. She was not affiliated with or supportive of any major patriarchal religion, that's for sure. She wrote a whole book critiquing the U.S. Christian-dominated Right-wing, in fact.

Are you talking about her pointing out the tyranny of the "Beauty Industry" which tells women incessantly that beauty requires buying products and modifying their bodies, because, naturally, women are supposed to think of themselves as unattractive? Are you talking about the feminist critiques of beauty that are racist and anti-lesbian?

And, what background do you have in Feminist Studies to make yourself an authority on what is and is not "pseudo-feminism". What is legitimate feminism, to you? The variations that don't critique systems of oppressive power and privilege and entitlement, such as those based on white supremacist and male supremacist ideologies?

I look forward to your reply.

From a man named Kyle, and not from Russell himself.

Posted by Kyle Munkittrick  on  04/26  at  12:12 PM


Dworkin allied herself with Christian conservatives to get porn censorship bills pushed through state legislatures. Those bills ended up largely ignoring the kind of porn that subjugates and objectifies women. Instead, the laws were excuses to declare lesbian and BDSM erotica and pornography obscene. Duggan and Hunter's "Sex Wars" make it clear that Dworkin and MacKinnon's efforts were both wrong in principle and in practice.

I agree with you, however, that neither Russell Blackford, nor anyone, has authority to declare some specific brand of feminism heterodox.

As for the other questions, I'll let him dig himself out or down deeper, as the case may be.

Dworkin allied herself with Christian conservatives to get porn censorship bills pushed through state legislatures.

That's entirely incorrect. I was there.  The activists who worked on this issue worked with many city councils, and, surprise, some city councilors are liberal and some are conservative. Some of those who "got it" about pornography being harmful to women on civil rights grounds, not criminal ones, were conservative men, just like some conservatives get that abuse of animals is wrong. If someone appeals to a conservative city councilor to get any animals rights or human rights ordinance passed, does that mean the activist is, themselves, "right wing" or "conservative" or promoting right wing policies and politics. I don't think so.

What you are stating is consistent with media misunderstandings and academic sloppiness (and antifeminism) in its telling of history on the matter of feminist antipornography activism in North America.

Dworkin was quite on record for opposing state censorship approaches to regulating pornography. She co-drafted a civil rights law--she could have drafted a censorship law, yes? The law she co-drafted and supported politically supported women harmed in and by those who use misogynist pornography to sue the harmers on sex discrimination grounds, not on criminal ones. It did not empower the state to remove pornographic materials. Have you read their law? You can find it here:

Those bills ended up largely ignoring the kind of porn that subjugates and objectifies women.

Wrong again. The Dworkin-MacKinnon ordinance was designed specifically to address and provide recourse to most of the women used and harmed in and by the industry. It defined pornography in terms of what pornography, at the time, regularly and routinely did to women. Where are you getting your information from? A secondary source, perhaps?

Instead, the laws were excuses to declare lesbian and BDSM erotica and pornography obscene.

You're speaking about what Canadian legislators decided to do with the Dworkin-MacKinnon law, which Andrea Dworkin did not support. You're aware of that right? How is Dworkin responsible for what Canadian legislators do? That's giving her a bit too much power, yes? You know she did not approve of what they did, yes?

Duggan and Hunter's "Sex Wars" make it clear that Dworkin and MacKinnon's efforts were both wrong in principle and in practice.

Right, Duggan and Hunter's misreading and misunderstanding of the whole matter. Gotcha.

I agree with you, however, that neither Russell Blackford, nor anyone, has authority to declare some specific brand of feminism heterodox.

As for the other questions, I'll let him dig himself out or down deeper, as the case may be.

I welcome him to try.

News from Amnesty International, Canada. Is this new to you? Much of it was new to me. Why?

 [image is from here]
Also wanted for gynocide, pimping, 
starting sexual slavery and 
the international trafficking 
of women and girls of color
to white het men.
This poster could and should read: 

As is clear to many who do human rights work, who work to end violence against women, it becomes obvious, with a kind of never-ending re-introduction, that what U.S. white men know about the world, generally, is very little. We protect ourselves from feeling what the effects are of what we do. We block out, or sexually fetishise, our violence against other people. We pretend the world revolves around us. We worship a god who looks strikingly like us. This is woeful and wretched enough.

But that U.S. white men frequently proclaim ourselves the most knowledgeable people on Earth, as well as the smartest, the wisest, and the most politically and economically capable (cough), as well as the most moral, the most ethical, the most fair, the least criminal, the least diseased, the most honorable, the most honored, the most celebrated, and the most revered, what ought become clear, with increasing sharpness, is how full of shit white het men are about what they say about themselves as a group. And note: they have no opposition to being thought of a group when they misperceive THEIR rights being threatened. When they delusionally feel threatened, which is often, they organise, whether in White Nationalist groups or Men's Rights groups, to protect what's "theirs". That anything at all is "theirs" exclusively is only so due to white het men's illegal, corrupt, immoral, dishonorable, and utterly inhumane commitment to and committing of gynocidal and genocidal atrocities, to this day.

What follows is cross-posted from *here*.

SVAW demonstration at the 'Youth in Activism' event in Pokhara, 
Nepal 15-16 June 2007

Amnesty International and Women's Human Rights

Amnesty International regularly documents a range of violations of women’s human rights through reports, news releases, public statements, and letter writing actions. We work with women human rights advocates and like-minded organizations to encourage governments to enforce women’s human rights as defined in various international and regional human rights standards. This blog covers the full range Amnesty's concerns in the arena of human rights for women, including sexual and reproductive rights; violence in armed conflict, the community and the home; women human rights defenders; and protection of women’s economic, social and cultural rights.

Algeria: Investigate and prosecute attacks against women

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
Urgent action is needed by the Algerian authorities to investigate a series of attacks against women and to bring the perpetrators to justice, Amnesty International said today.

Over the past two months, women living in Hassi Messaoud – an oil-rich area 627km south-east of Algiers– in the “36 dwellings” and “40 dwellings” areas, are reported to have been the target of a spate of attacks by groups of unidentified young men. The attacks allegedly take place at night, when the groups (usually composed of five to six people) forcibly enter the homes of women, apparently in order to rob them. Women caught by the groups have been physically assaulted, including with knives, and have had their cellular phones and jewellery taken from them. There are also reports that some women have been sexually abused, including by being disrobed and verbally insulted, such as being called “prostitutes”.

Amnesty International is particularly alarmed that the attacks appear to have deliberately targeted women. Most of the women attacked had come to Hassi Messaoud to find work and either live alone, with other female relatives or with their children. There are concerns that single women are being targeted not just because they are women, but because they are living alone and are economically independent. It has been reported that the attacks were also motivated by the perceived failure of law-enforcement officials to provide effective protection and prosecute perpetrators.

Read the Public Statement

Bans on full face veils would violate international human rights law

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
Over the last few months there has been growing public debate in Europe on the wearing of full face veils, such as the burqa and the niqab, by Muslim women. Two countries, Belgium and France, are currently considering the adoption of legislation that would prohibit the wearing of full face veils.

Amnesty International believes that such general prohibitions on the wearing of full face veils would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to wear a full face veil as an expression of their religious, cultural, political or personal identity or beliefs.

Under international human rights law everyone has the rights to freedom of expression and freedom to manifest their religion or beliefs. States must therefore not impose generally applicable requirements that women dress or do not dress in a certain way, and they must protect women from the imposition of such requirements by third parties. It is wrong for women to be compelled to wear a headscarf or veil, either by the state or by non-state actors; it is also wrong for women to be prohibited by law from wearing it.

Read the News Release

Haiti’s emergency response must include protection from sexual violence

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
(Port-au-Prince) Thousands of women living in temporary camps around Haiti are threatened by sexual violence and have inadequate protection from any authorities, Amnesty International said today after concluding a three-week visit to the country.

Sexual violence is widespread across the hundreds of spontaneous camps that sprung up in the capital and other affected areas of Haiti following the massive earthquake that struck the country in January.

Amnesty International said that the lack of measures to prevent and respond adequately to the threat of sexual violence is contributing to the humanitarian crisis and urged the Haitian authorities to take immediate and effective measures to curb sexual violence and protect women living in the camps.

Read the News Release

Read the Facts and Figures

Take Action

Justine Masika Bihamba questions the effectiveness of Canadian aid for survivors of rape in DRC

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
In a recent article by Geoffrey York in the Globe and Mail, Justine Masika Bihamba, a human rights defender who works for the protection of women and girls from sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), questions the effectiveness of international programs to support survivors. 

Read the article

Of particular importance to Amnesty International is ensuring that survivors of sexual violence receive adequate support services, including health and psycho-social support, and that perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice in accordance with international standards.  Support for a justice system that adequately functions is essential to prevent sexual violence and provide redress for survivors.

Letter by AI Member Linda Murray: Still work to be done on behalf of women

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
Amnesty member Linda Murray responded to an article in the Kingston Whig Standard with respect to the need for celebrating International Women's Day and continuing to push forward for women's rights around the world.  In her words: "Honouring International Women's Day will always combine celebrating gains made with focusing on where the next challenges lie. It is a day for working together to improve conditions on the home front and to ensure that women worldwide gain the rights and freedoms most of us in Canada enjoy."

Thanks to Linda for this article.  Read the letter here.

Amnesty members in Barrie took action on International Women's Day!

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
From Fieldworker Marilyn McKnight:

The Barrie Amnesty International Action Circle participated in a well-attended community event on International Women's Day. This year the event was organized by the Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie and Calibri: Centre des femmes franchaphones of Simcoe County. The Barrie Action Circle members were guests along with many other non-profit groups in this region. The evening was a wonderful celebration with food, refreshments, local entertainment and interesting speakers.

The Barrie Amnesty International Action Circle highlighted the plight of indigenous women from Guerrero State in Mexico. We had maple-leaf shaped greeting notes, a letter and a petition highlighting the plight of Ines Fernandez Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantu. We also had letters written on the behalf of Mao Hengfeng and her work defending women’s reproductive rights in China, and another letter advocating for the safety of women and girls in Haiti.

In addition, we also had letters in support of Bill C-300, the corporate accountability legislation currently being reviewed by members of a Canadian Parliamentary Committee. We think that the success of this Bill is crucial to the well-being of women in developing countries.

In all, we mailed 69 letters and petitions as the result of our efforts on March 8. We also had many interesting discussions with the evening's participants.

Mexico: Indigenous human rights defender Obtilia Eugenio Manuel is in danger

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
On 6 March, Obtilia Eugenio Manuel, President of the Me'phaa Indigenous People's Organization (Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me'phaa (OPIM)), received a written death threat at the offices of the OPIM in Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero state.

After repeated threats and harassment, in April 2009 the Inter American Court of Human Rights issued a protection order on behalf of Obtilia Eugenia Manuel, her husband and her children as well as other members of the OPIM and other human rights defenders in Guerrero.

Take Urgent Action to call for her protection!

Chad: UN Mission mandate must be extended

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
The UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) until 15 May 2010, despite the request by the government of Chad for the withdrawal of the Mission.  Amnesty International is calling for the Mission to be extended further to ensure, in particular the protection of civilians, including women and girls.

If MINURCAT is forced to withdraw, the level of violence, insecurity and grave human rights violations in Eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic will almost certainly increase substantially. Even with recent improvements, conditions in eastern Chad remain precarious for the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians who are living there in camps. A premature UN exit will expose them to further human rights abuses.

Read the news release

Urgent Action: Iran: Women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami detained in Evin Prison

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
Women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami has been detained in Evin prison in Iran's capital, Tehran, since 2 March. Amnesty International believes she is a prisoner of conscience, held because she campaigns for human rights. She is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Mahboubeh Karami has been a member of the Campaign for Equality since its foundation in 2006. The Campaign aims to end discrimination against women in Iranian law.

Mahboubeh Karami’s house in Tehran was raided by three security officials at 10pm on 2 March. Prior to her arrest, they searched the house and confiscated some of her personal belongings.

Mahboubeh Karami has been arrested four times before on similar charges. Each time, she was detained for several days before being released.  She was later acquitted of all charges.

Her arrest is part of a wave of arrests of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists which have been carried out since the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 2010, and which have stepped up since the start of March 2010. click for more...

IWD 2010 Film: "What if it was International Men's Day?"

Posted by: Lindsay Mossman
Photo Credit: A short film presented at the International Women's Day event in Ottawa, March 8, 2010.  The film is a parody on "International Men's Day".

As part of the Ottawa International Women's Day event, "I'm Still Not a Feminist, But...", this short film was shown.  The film asks: what if our roles were reversed? What if it was International Men's Day?

This film raises questions about women's rights and gender equality through a parody of the issues. It's funny how things might look different when you change perspective. Please welcome this segment from our favorite (imaginary) national news program. Over to you Petra Womansbridge....

View the Film

Decolonising Rape Law, by Sarah Deer

[image of book cover is from here]

What follows first is a cross post about Indigenous Women's Rights, and part of it is an introduction to the work of Indigenist Feminist activist/writer Sarah Deer, who offers a critique of the White Third Wave feminism when it comes to approaching the issue of rape and support of survivors with sensitivity to and awareness of the particular needs of Indigenous women and many other women whose lives and needs as survivors do not fit with what is assumed by more dominant views of white rape survivor-support activists.

As a white male profeminist blogger, I'll point out that there is a group of very powerful activists, writers, academics, lawyers, judges, priests, doctors, and others within this demographic who have been particularly egregious and blatant in their complete lack of adocacy for any women survivors of rape, of any color, and who refuse to organise at all, as a group, to end rape or white men's war against all women, of which rape is a key form of terrorism and domination. That political group is White Heterosexual Men, and if feeling ashamed of themselves would result in them getting off their privileged, entitled asses and doing something to stop one another's crimes against global humanity, I'd wish them to feel shame 24/7. But by all accounts, white het men feeling "bad" about themselves doesn't lead to productive activism that benefits women. It leads them to feel angry that they have to feel "bad" and so many of them form Men's Rights groups to pretend the problem is the critics of sexual violence perpetrated and perpetuated by patriarchal men.

You can find this at its original location, *here*.

Helping Survivors Survive

Rose Simpson Sculpture, Santa Clara Pueblo, NM
The numbers are staggering: according to the Department of Justice, Native American women experience violent crime three-and-a-half times more often than the national average, and one-third of Native American women will be sexually assaulted in their lives. As horrific as that sounds, the problem may, in fact, be even worse than these official statistics suggest, as 70 percent of all rapes typically go unreported, especially when the crimes involve family members or acquaintances. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many Native American women are unable to receive the medical treatment they require following an instance of sexual assault. The Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center found that 44 percent of Indian Health Service facilities do not have sexual-assault nurse examiners or access to rape kits—a particular problem because more than half of the sexual assaults on Native women involve violence severe enough to require medical care. Not only are Native women unlikely to get the medical care they need, they are also very unlikely to see justice or resolution through the legal system. Nine out of ten sex crimes reported on reservations are perpetrated by non-Native men, and federal law severely limits the ability of tribal justice systems to prosecute non-Natives, while the justice system outside the reservation is often reluctant to get involved in these cases. As a result, most violent crimes committed against Native American women, perpetrated by either Native or non-Native individuals, go unreported and unpunished. In fact, the Department of Justice has found that the United States fails to prosecute 75 percent of all reported cases of violence on Native American land. 

This injustice has created a perception among Native American women that violence against them is both acceptable and sanctioned by the state. Moreover, it is contributing to the decay of Native American women’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. This affects not only the individual survivors of sexual assault, but also entire Native American communities as they struggle to deal with the state’s continuous marginalization of their civil rights.

Enter Sarah Deer, a Muscogee woman who has devoted her life to advocating for the rights of Native American women across the country. Sarah began her involvement with domestic and sexual violence prevention work in Native American communities when she was a 20-year-old undergraduate at the University of Kansas. Today, she is an assistant professor of law at William Mitchell College of Law and only the eighth female tribal member in the United States to become a tenure-track law professor. Sarah has worked as a victim-advocacy legal specialist with the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and has served as a grant program specialist with the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. She is a board member of both the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Additionally, she has co-authored several ground-breaking reports, including Amnesty International’s “Maze of Injustice” and the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Sexual Assault in Public Law 280 States.”

Her journey to the forefront of Native American women’s-rights advocacy has not been an easy one. Throughout her work in the field, Sarah has had to reconcile her Native roots with the mainstream education she received in urban communities. For example, as a college student, Sarah was trained in mainstream “third wave” feminist rhetoric, a doctrine she had to seriously reevaluate when she began working primarily with Native American women. While her mainstream feminist colleagues placed a heavy emphasis on speaking out publicly against sexual violence, her Native colleagues had a different view.

“There was lots of rhetoric about breaking the silence, taking back the night, etc.,” she says. “They promoted the notion that in order to be empowered, in order to combat sexual violence, a survivor had to name names, had to report directly to the police, had to speak out in the public arena. But throughout my work, I have met many Native women who have chosen not to speak out publicly, and this should also be honored and celebrated in its own way.” Deer is not arguing that survivors of sexual assault should all remain silent. Rather, she is saying that the context in which sexual assault occurs needs to be examined. When context is considered, it becomes clear that neither all women, nor the communities that support them, will—or should—respond to sexual violence in the same way. “Many tenets of the mainstream rape crisis movement do not always hold true in Native American communities,” she says. “To speak out is not necessarily how Native women see empowerment. Silence can be empowering in itself.”

For Deer and other Native women, one of the important aspects of sexual assault is the echo of America’s colonial legacy. “There is a psychological pass-down of trauma that has occurred,” she says. But even agencies designed to support survivors of sexual violence continuously fail to consider historical context. “Non-Native shelters do not understand that a particular instance of sexual assault is not an isolated event,” she says. “It is a history—a legacy—of oppression and violence. I see so many good rape crisis centers that do great work around issues of oppression, patriarchy, subjugation, racism, sexism, and all of these other ‘isms,’ but not a single mention of colonialism. Native women must talk about colonialism because it is such an important aspect of our experiences.”

Deer practices what she preaches: “Currently I am doing some historical exploration of rape and sexual abuse during the forced removal of tribes from the Southeast to Indian Territory,” she says.  “I believe that this traumatic experience, which occurred over 150 years ago, continues to play a significant role in tribal communities in Oklahoma today.”

Deer has found that in addition to illuminating current problems, studying the past may offer insight into solutions. For example, programs that help Native perpetrators relearn their traditional cultures may help curb violence within Native communities. Deer gives the example of the Cangleska, Inc. Men’s Re-Education Program, run by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, where participants “are required to examine their behavior in the context of their culture.” Sarah also believes that Native American language revitalization projects can improve tribal responses to sexual violence.

“I help tribal governments write better laws to address a variety of issues,” Deer says. “But there is no requirement that tribal laws be written in English. I’ve been told that in many tribal cultures, English can’t adequately describe tribal conceptions of justice and accountability. I am intrigued by the idea of cultural revitalization as a response to and a result of responding to sexual abuse.”

Another aspect of using culturally appropriate methods for dealing with sexual violence is strengthening tribal justice systems. “It would be ideal if tribal communities had the resources, the power, and the authority to prosecute crimes against women in whatever way is most meaningful to the community,” Deer says. “Though we are working towards this, the reality of the situation is that this cannot happen overnight.” Nor is this necessarily the only tool that needs to be used. “Though nontribal adjudicatory systems can never address the spiritual justice that so many survivors desire,” she says, “the Western system can (and should) get the dangerous people off the streets. Many tribal justice systems have been so assimilated or so weakened that there is no tribal response to felony crimes. Native women, like all women, deserve to have action taken when lives are in danger.”

“Tribal governments should and will be able to deal with these crimes,” she says, but they need support to reach that goal. “Native communities are ready to deal with these issues on a larger scale. They are ready to address not just the symptoms of sexual violence but the causes as well. But how can you do that if you can’t keep the electricity on at the local shelter, if you do not have enough blankets and enough beds? I meet Native women every day who tell me that they could tackle these problems if they could just keep the lights on in the shelter. These activists need to have the resources to keep these places open in order for them to do long-term, systemic work.”

Though Deer places a heavy emphasis on support networks for survivors of sexual violence, she disagrees with the popular notion that survivors of sexual assault, regardless of their ethnic background, need to be “healed.” Placing too much emphasis on healing, she argues, can divert attention from those accountable for the violence and place the onus of the experience on the survivor.

“One of my mentors, Bonnie Clairmont (Ho-Chunk) has really encouraged me to challenge the assumption that survivors of sexual violence need healing. What we need is justice. Justice has different forms, and certainly healing can be part of justice, but I always want to resist the labeling of victims as damaged or defective,” she says.

As Deer herself will attest, sexual violence against Native American women will not disappear quickly. Even if the epidemic of sexual violence against Native American women was to suddenly cease, the scars from centuries of sexual violence would continue to burn in the memories of all those effected—even indirectly—by the experience. But Deer’s view for the future is not a grim one. While too few people recognize the importance of combating sexual violence against Native American women, those who do are more informed and passionate than ever. Despite challenges, many Native and non-Native women are working together to bring about meaningful changes for all women affected by sexual assault. In February 2009, the Obama administration even allocated roughly $22.5 million to the Department of Justice’s Violence against Women Grant as part of its $2.5 billion stimulus package for all of Indian Country. As violence against Native American women becomes an increasingly public concern, we can expect to see even more from Sarah Deer, without whom today’s improvements may have been impossible.

“I want to be out there, always,” she says. “I always want to be doing something.”

Nora Lawrence is an intern at Cultural Survival.

*          *          *

What follows is from the blog Turtle Talk, an activist pro-Indiginist blog dedicating to news about legal battles for Indigenous sovereignty and rights. I link to it in my blogroll.

You can link back to this cross post by clicking *here*. I post this with gratitude both to Turtle Talk's contributing writers, and to Sarah Deer.

Sarah Deer on Decolonizing Rape Law

Sarah Deer has published her excellent paper “Decolonizing Rape Law: A Native Feminist Synthesis of Safety and Sovereignty” in the Wicaso Sa Review. (Deer Decolonizing Rape Law)
Here is an excerpt:
The question I raise is–should the tribal government itself respond to such crimes? If yes, how–and what might a Native feminist analysis have to offer in addressing this crisis?
Many people will argue that such crimes are too serious to be handled by contemporary tribal justice systems. (3) Given the numerous legal and financial limitations faced by tribal court systems, they might say, tribal governments must simply rely on the federal (or state) system to prosecute and sentence such rapists. However, this over-reliance on foreign governmental systems has often been to the detriment of Native women. Today, Native women suffer the highest per capita rates of sexual violence in the United States. (4) Conservative estimates suggest that more than one of three Native women in America will be raped during their lifetime. (5) Rape was once extremely rare in tribal communities. (6) Arguably, the imposition of colonial systems of power and control has resulted in Native women being the most victimized group of people in the United States.7 Moreover, statistics indicate that most perpetrators of rape against Native women are white. (8) As a result of a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision, tribal governments have been denied their authority to criminally prosecute non-Indian perpetrators.
 [image is from here]

Amnesty International-sponsored effort to make public the harm done to Indigenous women, particularly but not only in North America, who are raped at a higher rate, primarily by white men, than any other population of women in North America.