Main global trends
Another mass shooting in Parkland (Florida) shocked the US and the world. Research findings that gained visibility after the tragedy reveal that most perpetrators of mass shootings reported in the country are white males, of which a large percentage has had a history of alleged or convicted domestic abuse. Most importantly, this new tragic episode prompted young people to take the streets and fiercely contest existing gun policies (check a compilation of articles).
The trail of #MeToo continues. In Australia, a sexual harassment case involving the leader of the National Party led to an executive norm banning sex between ministers and their staff. Concurrently, sexual harassment scandals flared up in humanitarian institutions and at the UN. Evidence has shown that the Oxfam male staff exchanged money and other benefits for sex with women and girls during rescue operations after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Similar episodes were exposed in other organizations — such as Doctors without Borders (MSF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), World Vision, Mercy Corps and Save the Children — and a sexual harassment case involving UNAIDS deputy director has reached the press. Some voices commenting these regrettable events remark how they further compromise the image and support to organizations that are already under constant political attack (check a compilation of news and articles).
As the #MeToo maze of trails continues to expand, it is worth asking about its effects in the global South. The impact of the campaign and of controversies around it have been definitely felt in Latin America. However, it is not so clear what is happening in Africa and Asia. As to begin filling this gap, SPW has prepared a preliminary compilation of articles on China, India, South Africa and also Latin America. In this list, in addition to Latin America, India is the context where the debate has been more intense, encompassing denounces of sexual harassment in academic institutions and Bollywood.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, the good news of the Supreme Court decision granting the right to gender identity is to be reported and highly appraised. But reproductive and sexual rights frays remain ensnarled by the uncertainties and paradoxes of the ongoing political crisis. Sonia Corrêa reports.
Encouraging news comes from Argentina, where the sustained feminist campaign for legal abortion underway since 2004 appears to be achieving its goal, as a reform draft bill began to be discussed by the National Congress on March 6. On February 19, feminists have taken the streets to once again call for legal change and five days later President Macri declared to be in favor of a legislative debate on the matter. Some observers suggest this step aims at blurring the dire economic conditions and the president’s descending popularity. But, at Congress level, a multi-stakeholder platform is being formed to support the legal change that includes the group led by Senator Cristina Kirchner who, as president, has not supported the reform of existing criminal laws. SPW organized a preliminary compilation of news and articles on these events in both English and Spanish that will be updated as the processing of the bill proceeds.
In El Salvador, where the criminalization of abortion is absolute, the Supreme Court issued a favorable decision on the appeal presented by the Citizens Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion and set free Teodora del Carmen Vasquez. Ms. Vasquez was convicted after undergoing a miscarriage and condemned to 30 years in prison. She spent eleven years in jail and her release is a major victory for the Latin American abortion rights struggle.
In Europe, the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe issued a public letter to Poland’s highest authorities condemning sequential regressions in regard to sexuality education, access to contraceptives and the right to pregnancy termination.
The best news of the month comes from Kenya where, on February 23rd, the High Court initiated a groundbreaking judgement of the constitutionality of the colonial penal code articles that prohibit same-sex relations.
In the U.S., a New York Court of Appeal ruled on the 26th that a federal law banning sex bias in the workplace also prohibits discrimination according to sexuality. The ruling is the second to contest the executive order limiting the scope of discrimination rules that were issued by the Justice Department in 2017.
During an interview in Davos, Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has sent contradictory signs in regard to the LGBTQ rights.
In Indonesia, where the many episodes of crackdowns on LGBT persons have been reported in the last few years, the country’s Penal Code is being revised and this poses a threat to the right to privacy, which may negatively impact on extramarital and same-sex relations. In response, roughly 80.000 people have already signed a petition and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has also expressed his concerns about his mission visit to the country.
Meanwhile in the Caribbean, is a very positive step the Jamaican Ministry of National Security banned the entry in the country of an anti-gay preacher. And, in Bermuda, the assault on Alice Hoffman, a trans activist, and the problematic handling of the case by police authorities sparked a campaign for LGBT rights. The episode was preceded by the rollback of same-sex marriage legislation approved on February 8th.
In Pennsylvania (US), seven prison guards were charged with sexually abusing female inmates for years.
In Brazil, on March 20th Jessica Monteiro gave birth in a prison cell while still waiting for trial, leading the National Bar Association (OAB) to present a urgent plea on the matter to the Supreme Court, which very rapidly granted pregnant women, mothers of children up to the age 12 and with disabilities, accused of non-violent crimes who were in pretrial custody the right to house arrest.
The Protocol of Santo Domingo, a key instrument for the promotion of rural women’s rights, was signed during the Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean preceding the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Across the world, feminist organizations are swiftly preparing International Women’s Day. In various countries, calls have been made for women’s strikes against the deterioration of female jobs and gender-based violence. And if few places demonstrations have already taken place on March 4th.
Gender, sexuality and religious politics in Latin America
Given the intensification of gender and sexuality frays in Latin America in recent years, Pope Francis visit to Chile and Peru were important events of January 2018 on which we have not properly reported. The visit to Chile is particularly relevant because it has been a major failure. In our next monthly announcement, in-country analyses of the visits will be shared. For the time being, a brief selection of articles has been organized to fill this gap.
Asma Jahangir, an icon of gender litigation and activism in Pakistan and worldwide, has departed. Jahangir has been the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, co-founder of the Women’s Action Forum, Pakistan’s first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, co-chair of South Asia Forum for Human Rights, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran. We mourn her passing and celebrate her strength, still so necessary in an ever more conservative world. Read the tribute made to her by Women living under Muslim Law and other articles on her departure. (Read more here and here)
Art & sexuality
In times when art censorship strikes everywhere, SPW makes a tribute to Egon Schiele.
And, because we had carnival in Brazil, we have the pleasure to introduce you to Ex-Miss Febem.
Papers and articles
In Latin America
The Reproductive Rights Counteroffensive in Mexico and Central America – Feminist Studies
Backlash podcast – Episode 1: Women and the far-right – openDemocracy
Why Antonio Gramsci is the Marxist thinker for our times – New Statesman
Feminisms and Women’s rights
Sexual violence and prostitution: The problem is your image of us – Research Project Germany
Jaha Dukureh: Don’t sensationalise FGM survivors – Al Jazeera
As Afrin burns, where is the left? – openDemocracy
Female Sexuality And Islam – A Think Piece – Feminism in India
Consequences for African countries close to France of the imminent withdrawal of Cytotec (misoprostol) from the market in France – International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
Sex workers rights
Publications and resources
Apps, arrests and abuse in Egypt, Lebanon and Iran – Article 19
International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
Check it out!
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights (RFSL), is recruiting an International Advocacy Adviser and a Training Program Manager. Apply here, Deadline: March 11th
The International AIDS Society (IAS) and AVAC invite you to apply for a fellowship to attend a three-day workshop in Uganda on HIV cure research literacy and advocacy. Deadline: March 22 nd
ISDAO, the West African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Activist-Led Fund is looking for an Executive Director. Deadline: March, 27th
Reproductive Health Matters Special Issue Call for Papers “Exploring Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Inequities Within Countries”.
Deadline: May, 1st