All posts filed under: Rights

North-South Cooperation in Fighting FGM

In recent years, it has become apparent that international cooperation is important in promoting inclusive and sustainable development, especially to achieve global development agendas. African countries recognize the importance of partnerships for enhancing and consolidating the growth of the continent. Many African states have benefitted from the traditional North-South cooperation, through sharing experiences, technical assistance, as well as the cooperation of other  emerging economies. It is along such lines that the Anti-FGM campaign has picked up much-necessary momentum after years of lip service. The campaign against FGM has had a long history, but it has been confined to board rooms and workshops, with few targeted grassroots campaigns. For instance, as recently as 2010, Kenya did not have an official policy addressing FGM and relied upon Presidential decrees. However, with the Anti-FGM policy put in place, in 2011, there has been considerable investment of resources and strategies from the North. The international immigration crisis brought FGM to the doorstep of the developed north. Waves of migrants from nations that practice FGM began arriving and settling, and …

Enjoy Sexual Assault for it to be a Crime

Absurd though it may sound, for a sexual assault to be charged as such the perpetrator of the crime must gain sexual pleasure from the victim by doing so. Or so was the logic behind Judge Anuar Gonzales who, on March 28th, exonerated Diego Cruz for the crime of pederasty and, as understood in the sentence, even sexual assault. Cruz is one of the five men labeled by Mexican society and media as “Los Porkys,” who, on January 2015 in the state of Veracruz, sexually assaulted Daphne Fernández. She was a minor at the time. Seeing that the criminal system was getting nowhere with the case, Javier Fernández, Daphne’s father, approached these men and recorded their confession. In the tape, they acknowledge their crime and asked for  forgiveness, promising they would not do it again. But, to the Mexican judiciary, the confession was not evidence enough. Over a year later, Judge González Hemadi acquitted Cruz in a writ of Amparo. In the latter, he stated that “there was not enough evidence on [Cruz’] participation in the …

The FGM Conversation has to Change

It’s been roughly 100 days since 2017 began. Reflecting on the past year’s campaigns against FGM and early marriages, it is true that all who are involved have come a long way. There have been moments where the campaign may have faltered and made missteps – but we’ve also seen some significant progress. However, in the course of writing and campaigning, as well as visiting various communities across the country where FGM is practiced, I can attest that activists are increasingly encountering subtle resistance. A revisionist movement is slowly but surely pushing back, challenging some of reasons advanced in campaigns against FGM as well as approaches that do not seem not to fit with their local context. As such, the conversation at the global and national level is not making much needed impact at the community level. How is this possible, given the resources that are being channeled and renewed vigor among activists? To illustrate this, sometime in 2016 during a Rugby 7s event dubbed #EndFGMmaasai in Kajiado, Kenya, a group of elite young men …

What Would You Say to Your 19-Year-Old Self?

There are moments in life when you simply need to remind yourself that you are enough. In order to do that, you have to have enough self confidence to come up with the words that are both comforting and inspiring. I’ve been told that nothing is impossible, but also that certain things aren’t meant for me. I’ve been told to follow my heart, but also to always be mindful of others. I’ve been told to say what I really want and to move in that direction, but also to move with caution. I’ve been told many conflicting things, but I am finding out that the most important words come from within. What do I tell myself when I am not sure of the next step, or when I am scared to articulate my thoughts and turn them into actions? I tell myself to move. Just move. Take a step, and move. Be bold. Forget your failures and mistakes because they are over. Sometimes we have to fail over and over until our failures are no longer setbacks; they simply push us …

Hello Spring, Hello Sexual Harassment

London is at it’s most beautiful in the spring. After many dreary months the city fills up with candy-floss blossom and slightest breeze scatters pink and white confetti over the pavements. Parks fill with daffodils. Occasionally the sun shines for two days in a row – although this leaves everyone confused and suspicious. Londoners begin barbecuing everything within arm’s reach (and inexplicably wearing sunglasses on the tube). But one of the very best things about spring is the liberation from the shackles of the Winter Wardrobe it brings. Freed from socks and boots, toes wriggle joyfully in sandals once again. Coats are confidently packed away til next year (or ‘til it randomly snows in June). Legs escape the prison of thick black tights, shoulders are bared, noses are burnt. But flash so much as a bit of ankle in springtime and it won’t be long before you’re reminded of a far less welcome consequence of the warm weather. Not absent in winter by any means, just rarer – and more subdued. Welcome back, spring. Welcome …

My Views on Transgender Feminism

Feminism is alive and constantly redefining itself. It has long been an empowering roar fed by the voices of all kinds of women. Today, something else can be heard too. It’s the sound of thousands of women – transgender, transexual and intersexual women – who have found their own voice, strength and value with the help of feminism. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a renowned feminist, recently stated that the life experiences of transgender women can’t be the same as cisgender women, because, in her opinion, they have experienced male privileges before transitioning. “It’s about the way the world treats us, and I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I would like to explain why this is relevant for the trans community. …

Why Transgender Rights are Women’s Rights

Feminism is inherently controversial, even within itself. There is a political spectrum of feminism, from radical feminists on one end to what Roxane Gay describes, tongue-in-cheek, as ‘bad feminist‘ on the other. Where this political spectrum becomes hurtful is when it excludes or devalues certain women’s experiences over others, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the denial of transwomen’s rights as women’s rights. Radical empathy may render the thinking behind trans-exclusionary feminism understandable on a knee-jerk emotional level, if not still impolitic. It is easy to be a little bitter as a woman. Many of us have at least the occasional moment where we have a twinge of intense impatience or frustration when our male family members or friends or colleagues are surprised at the minute discrimination we experience daily. This resentment can spill over into a resentment of transwomen, for what some think of as their former privileged position as a man. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example, came under fire for her comments that “I think if you’ve lived in the world as …

Through Needlecraft Towards Revolution in Sweden

Right now, making a pair of relatively simple mittens, knitting feels methodical. Melodic even. Other times, knitting causes every muscle to strain and my temples to pound with frustration. Sometimes I would rather just burn the sweater I’m knitting since it’s turning out all wrong, but I don’t. Instead I keep knitting, because I know I’m backed by a needlecraft community that is spread out all around the globe. Nea Glad is one of the co-founders of ‘Unifying Progressive Handicraft’ – a needlecraft association based in Malmö, Sweden. She and her friends started the association in the summer of 2012. Since then it has grown and today they get together once a week to hang out and do needlework. Now and then they also participate in political projects or conduct workshops. Nea says: “Through our association we wish to create spaces that enable people of different ages, colors, nationalities and abilities to meet through their mutual interest. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are, as long as you like to needlecraft. In …

Women are our Best Support Group

The other day I overheard a group of women talking about something they’d seen on social media. A woman they all knew had reported a sexual assault she had suffered earlier that night on her Facebook page.  She had claimed a man, who the group of women were all acquainted with, had inappropriately grabbed her in a local night club. Immediately, the women started accusing the girl of being intoxicated, because she had posted her message early in the morning. They said that because of this she had no credibility, and they claimed the encounter she described was not even remotely close to what they considered to be sexual assault. They also criticized the fact that she was willing to humiliate the man through social media. While I sat there listening to their unbelievable lack of empathy, I started thinking about gender congruence amongst women in Mexico.  One out of three women worldwide will experience some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. I want to emphasize how important this issue is; these numbers are rising as I write. So, if you read the event …