A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Domestic Sex Trafficking Bill Passed in the House...Then Shot Down

The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), passed the House on Tuesday night. The bill would have established shelters in six regions of the country and provide treatment and services to victims and new resources to law enforcement to prosecute sex traffickers.

Mary Ellison, Director of Public Policy at Polaris Project, clarified, "This passage is a sign that America is starting to realize that children in prostitution are victims of a horrific crime called human trafficking and are in need of services and support."

Unfortunately, an amendment that was attached to the bill  killed it because it differed from the Senate bill and time ran out for the lame duck session.  Politics and politicians.  So far removed from the real world. This was a bill to help save children who had forced into human trafficking.  These are the very people we voted in, and now they turn their backs on children in need.  What is wrong with this picture?  How can they sleep at night?

According to the FBI, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for commercial sex in the United States each year. But despite this incredibly high number of  victims, there are only a handful of shelter beds.  Right now, there aren't enough aftercare facilities to serve even 1 per cent of estimated victims. This bill would have not only helped to prevent pimps from victimizing young girls and but would have provided  a safe place for victims to heal.

To our politicians....Shame on you!!!!


Although Christmas is perceived as a time of peace and happiness for families, stress, debt and alcohol levels can create a far from happy holiday season. In fact, even if things are going well, tensions  run high during the holiday season. And when Christmas rolls around, domestic violence seems to escalate, and not only do the victims suffer, but also the children who must bear witness to the abuse, and through the eyes of children, the boundaries between abuser and victim are not always clear.  Often as a means of coping, they take sides or they try to defuse the violence, and when they fail, they blame themselves for not being able to do so.  Some children pretend that it isn't happening.

In many families, there will be no gifts because the abuser will not allow them.  Abusers are self-centered,  and if there is no gain for them,  then they generally classify such expenditure as frivolous. Hence, there is very little joy in Christmas for the children of these dysfunctional relationships.
Examples of financial abuse include: withholding money for Christmas presents and food; where the relationship has ended the abusive partner may withhold child maintenance; and forcing the woman to take debt in her name to meet the family financial needs.  My goodness, that not only happened to me, but 20 years later, when a lien was placed on my bank account and my paycheck garnished....not for a bill I was responsible for, but because I had been bullied to co-sign for a credit card.  It took me over a year of struggling to pay off something that was never mine to begin with.

Domestic Violence victims are not a small minority.  At least 25 percent of all women will experience some sort of domestic violence in their life.  This means that most of us, if we are not a victim ourselves, know someone--sister, friend--cousin--who is a victim.  It affects each and every one of us.  

Here are some suggestions on coping with domestic violence:<

Keep yourself safe. Find a safe place - like a bedroom - where you can hide until the violence is over.

Only step in to help the person who is being hurt if it means you WILL NoT place yourself at risk

Talk to someone you trust about what's happening at home. If you want independent help, contact a service like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800)SAFE
Try to get the person who is being hurt to seek help from the hospital, battered women's shelters, etc.

If the situation gets really bad, get out of the house and find help. Go and tell a neighbor or call the emergency services.


What is the Cycle of Abuse

The cycle of abuse is cyclical; it has been proven time and time again. When something is characterized as being cyclical, it means that it occurs in a repeating pattern. Abuse is identifiable as being cyclical in two ways; it is both generational and episodic. Generational cycles of abuse are passed down, by example and exposure, from parents to children. Episodic abuse occurs in a repeating pattern within the context of at least two individuals within a family system. It may involve spousal abuse, child abuse, or even elder abuse.

A son, who is repeatedly either verbally or physically abused by his father, will predictably treat his own children in the same way. When a daughter hears her mother frequently tear down, belittle, and criticize her father, she will adapt a learned behavior which involves control through verbal abuse. Similarly, a child who witnesses his parents engaging in abusive behaviors toward one another, will very likely subject his or her spouse to the same abusive patterns. These are examples of generational abuse:

The episodic cycle of abuse is characterized by distinct periods of behavior that eventually result in an extreme episode of verbal and/or physical abuse. Typically, victims of abuse live in denial of this reoccurring pattern.
The cycle of episodic abuse begins with a major abusive behavior such as loud verbal abuse, screaming and/or verbal harassment and even a threat of physical assault. 

A period of remorse follows. The abusive individual will go to great lengths to seek forgiveness and offer assurances that the abusive behavior will never occur again. The abusive spouse may bring flowers or expensive gifts. “Oh honey, you know that I would never hurt you. I am so sorry. You know how much I need you."  One of my clients has recently gone back to an ex who abused her terribly. She says that he is treating her so good right now, and she believes she has it all under control.  Does she really? 

The third portion of the cycle is characterized by a period of "normalcy." During this time frame the abusive spouse may appear to be truly living out his or her repentance. Great effort will be expended to please and lull the victim of abuse into believing that the worst is now over. 
Over time, tension will begin to replace the easy atmosphere in the home. Irritability will increase, followed by veiled accusations by the abuser, blaming the other spouse for his or her frustration and unhappiness. Eventually, this escalating behavior will give way to another episode of full-blown verbal and/or physical abuse.

Remember, the  cycle of abuse is rarely broken without outside help. Victims need to learn how to set boundaries that protect them and help them to break free of the cycle of victimization. Abusers must confront and take responsibility for the verbal and physical abusive patterns of behavior. I have run groups for both victims and batterers and sadly, most of the batterers do NOT take responsibility for their actions.  It is always HER fault. Both victim and abuser need to consider professional counseling as a means to stop the cycle of abuse. Individuals who are living in environments characterized by a cyclical form of abuse should make personal safety a matter of urgent priority. Verbal abuse can quickly escalate into a related, but more deadly form of abuse, physical violence.


Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a very real form of abuse.  It can take many forms ranging from denying the woman all access to funds or making her solely responsible for all finances while he spends money irresponsibly himself. Money thus becomes the tool by which the abuser is able to further control the victim by ensuring either financial dependence on him, or shifting the responsibility of keeping a roof over the family's head onto the victim while simultaneously denying your ability to do so or obstructing you.   In any relationship, financial control is one of the earliest signs of future abusive behavior.  The  husband has control the purse strings and refuses to share financial information with his wife, doles out an allowance to her, and expects that she account for every cent that she spends. 

These  behaviors are designed to isolate the woman by forcing her into a state of complete financial dependence. The most important thing to remember  is that is that the abuser is not out of control.  In fact, he is so in control that he can change his behavior to suit the social circumstances. Although he may appear charming and persuasive, his objective is actually to isolate his partner and make her dependence on him total. He is making a decision to control his partner's life by eliminating her ability to make choices, have access to money and be able to get around.

Financial abuse can and does often lead to physical abuse as well, and it knows no boundaries and can within all age ranges, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds, and financial levels...from the  rich socialite who lives in the penthouse apartment to the poorest wife in the toughest section of town.  Some of the signs of financial abuse are as follows:
  • Controlling all of the family's finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Giving an allowance.
  • Making you  accountable for every penny you spend.
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.
  • Withholding basic necessities such food, clothes, medications, shelter.
  • Preventing you from working.
  • Sabotaging your job by making you miss work or call in constantly.


Sexual Assault

Yesterday I had a speaker from Safe Haven come to my women's group.  Safe Haven is a a victim's assistance program for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.  Safe Haven is located in many states throughout the country.  Yesterday she spoke of sexual assault, and I thought it is something important enough to share it with you.  

Sexual assault in the United States can be all too often a taboo subject that rarely gets brought up in conversation or in other formats. Sadly, many victims feel don't want to talk about it because they feel too ashamed and embarrassed.  And, when we hear the news surrounding high profile cases in which celebrities or sports start are accused of sexual assault, the women who bring charges against these celebrities often find themselves brutalized by the media and society at large. Rape is one of the few crimes in which the victim is attacked instead of sympathized with. These cases are often so severe  that the women drop all charges in order to regain their normal life, land when victims of rape are attacked by the media, the cycle of guilt and shame regarding assault is intensified and more and more women fail to report incidences.
What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault and abuse is any sexual activity that one party does not agree to. This can include:
  •  Inappropriate touching
  •  Vaginal, anal or oral penetration
  •  Sexual intercourse when one party says no or is drugged
  •  Rape
  •  Attempted rape
  •  Child molestation
One form of sexual assault the speaker did not discuss was not discussed was exhibitionism, when someone exposes themselves in public. Several years ago--when I was much younger and thinner--I was traveling on the subway to visit a friend.  There was a man seated by the door, the side of the seat hid all but the upper part of the body.  I was reading my book, but you can sense when someone is watching you.   I thought nothing of it...until I got up to exit the train and saw exactly what he was doing.  It sickened me, and even though there was no contact, I found the entire episode extremely degrading.

The following have been deemed unable to give consent:
  • Anyone under the age of 17
  • Those who are mentally disabled
  • Those who are mentally incapacitated i.e under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Those who are physically helpless
The above is New York State Law, but I am sure it pertains to just about every other state as well.


Marital Rape

Sex should not be by force. It must not be under duress never give room for 'marital rape.' You can encourage each other, you can influence and seduce, but never have sex by force.

Married? Rape happens within marriages also. For many years women were expected to put up with it simply because it was not against the law. Our archaic laws actually stated that it was not illegal for a male to rape his wife.  In many countries, this law still stands.  But  rape is rape, regardless of the relationship between the rapist and the victim. It can be a total stranger; someone you recognize by sight, but have never really communicated with;  a neighbor or a colleague; a friend, a boy-friend or a former boyfriend; a live-in partner, or a former partner; and, yes, someone you are married to or have been married to in the past.  Ask yourself the following:

Has your partner ever made you have sex when you didn’t want to?

Have you ever been uncomfortable with a sexual request from your partner, but did it anyway?

Have you ever had sex with your partner because you were afraid Have you ever given into sex because your partner would not stop harassing you about it? 

Marital rape is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship, because it questions every understanding you have not only of your partner and the marriage, but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated and, above all, very confused.  Of all sexual assaults, marital rape is the most under reported. Many women who are victims of marital rape have great difficulty in defining it as such. The traditional idea that it is impossible for a man to rape his wife and that somehow, in taking our marriage vows we have abdicated any say over our own body and sexuality, basically denied ourselves the right to say 'no', is still prevalent amongst wives as much as amongst their husbands. A wife being raped will often question her right to refuse intercourse with her husband, and while she may realize that legally it now constitutes rape, there are many reasons which may prevent her from perceiving it in such a light.

The loss of control over her life becomes an issue. If forced sex becomes an ongoing pattern the feeling of powerlessness becomes intense and being able to feel safe in the confines of the home is totally shattered.

In marital rape, the short-term effects can include the following:
  • Feelings of betrayal
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Humiliation
  • Denial

Longer-term effects can include:
  • Inability to trust
  • Flashbacks
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Nightmares
  • Acute fear of being assaulted again
  • Sexual dysfunction 
Healing begins with having a safe place or person to talk with about the sexual assault. Since victims may not recognize the assault as "rape" and may be confused by their feelings, it is important to open a line of communication.


Three Women Lawyers Arrested in Iran

Iranian authorities have arrested three female human rights lawyers on  for so-called security related offenses. Maryam Kianersi, Maryam Karbasi, and Sara Sabaghian were taken into custody after they arrived on a flight from Turkey.  Sara Sabaghian reportedly represented Hossein Ronaghi in court after his arrest for blog posts which criticized the Iranian government. Ronaghi is currently appealing a 15-year jail sentence for his alleged crime. All three women had previously signed an open letter advocating for the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a well-known human rights lawyer imprisoned in Evin Prison.  Kianerswas on the defense team of Kobra Najjar, a woman sentenced to death by stoning who was acquitted and freed about two years ago. 

Sotoudeh is scheduled to go on trial on November 15 and faces charges of acting against state security, assembling, and collusion with intent to disrupt national security, and working with the Center for Human Rights Defenders, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Nasrin Sotoudeh who has been in the notorious Evin Prison since September 4, went on a hunger strike for 27 days to protest the conditions of her illegal arrest. After ending her hunger strike for a few days, she started a dry hunger strike since her case was mishandled and she continued to be deprived of her legal rights such as the right to telephone calls and visits from her family members and her two young children. As of November 12, Sotoudeh began drinking water on advice of her friends and lawyers, but remains on a hunger strike.


Iranian Woman Ends Dry Hunger Strike But Continues Hunger Strike

The husband, sister and brother of the imprisoned Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, visited her yesterday at Evin Prison in Tehran for ten minutes. The husband, who had not seen his wife for over two and a half months, said that on the advice of friends and lawyers, she ended her dry hunger strike, but that she will continue her hunger strike and only drink water until she gets what she wants.

is scheduled to go on trial November 15 and is facing charges of acting against state security, assembling, and collusion with intent to disrupt national security, and for working with the Center for Human Rights Defenders, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.


Sotoudeh, who has been in Evin Prison since September 4, went on a hunger strike for 27 days to protest the conditions of her illegal arrest. After ending her hunger strike for a few days, she started a dry hunger strike since her case was mishandled, and she continued to be deprived of her legal rights such as the right to telephone calls and visits from her family members and her two young children.


Women's Rights Gravely Threatened in Iran

Two Iranian women, Sakineh Ashtiani, currently facing an execution sentence, and Nasrin Sotoudeh,  a human rights lawyer and colleague of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, are in danger in Iran.  Ahtiani,who was originally sentenced to death by stoning after an adultery conviction  faces a possible execution by hanging, while prominent human rights lawyer, Sotoudeh, has been on a dry hunger strike (no food or water) for more than a week while protesting her imprisonment.

Ashtiani was scheduled to be executed by hanging last Wednesday, but due to massive international protest started by her son and daughter, her execution was suspended, and according to Iranian officials, her file is "under review,"... but the regime has been known to execute people whose files were under review in the past. In 2006, she was convicted of having extramarital relations with two men who killed her husband. No names have ever been documented for the two men. While she initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery, during an appeal of her case, the court sentenced her to death by stoning. After worldwide outrage, this sentence was commuted to death by hanging.  Her sentence still stands, and she is still living with the knowledge that she could be executed at any time.

Sotoudeh, the mother of two children,  has defended many political activists and campaigners in Iran's presidential elections last year, has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since September 4, when she was arrested and charged with "acting against state security" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."   She is currently in solitary confinement;  Sotoudeh has been refusing food and water to protest the intolerable conditions of prison and the improper investigation of her case; she is in grave physical shape as a result. Activists are concerned she will soon fall into a coma or die.

Prominent political figures, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, have issued statements expressing concern and dismay over the treatment of the women. 

Please Contact your State Department or Foreign Ministry with the following message.

Sample letter:

Dear [the correct name]

I demand that this government exert the utmost diplomatic pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to:

1) to immediately release Nasrin Sotoudeh and drop ALL charges against her.

2) stop the persecution of all Iranian human rights lawyers and adhere to the international human rights laws in which the Iran government is a state party.

3) allow Nasrin Sotoudeh to continue her work as a human rights attorney uninterrupted and allow her to visit her clients and give her access to her clients files and paperwork as guaranteed by judicial law.

[your name]



Rape is not an act of sex and will never be an act of sex.  Rape is purely an act of violence and control. Plain and simple...violence and control are the key goals of most rapists. They want to control their  victim, and most times,the rapist  gains that control through violence or threats or both at one time. Once you begin finally realizing that rape has nothing to do with sex, then you finally might really be coming to terms about what rape really is.   Anyone can be a victim of rape. You can be white, black, Spanish, Irish, male, female,, g old, young, paralyzed, drunk, sober,fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly...you get the picture.  There is no set pattern of physical appearance, clothing, nationality, or age or religion or nationality that is excluded from the crime of rape.

No rape victim asks to be raped nor wants to be raped. When society does not understand the crime of rape, then society ignorantly states that the victim asked for it. No victim asked to be attacked. If someone is stabbed or shot, society does not say the victim asked for it. If someone is run down by a hit and run driver, society does not say that the victim asked for it.  Yet, when a woman is raped, according to society, she must have asked for it.  Why is it that our focus is on those raped and not  on those who rape? Rape victims are not only subject to generally more scrutiny than other crime victims, but they are often thrust into the spotlight and into the position of having to prove their cases   more than victims of robbery, shootings, murders, scams, exploitation, or harassment.  This is why many rape cases are never reported. 

I want to share something you with that I've never shared to anyone, not a sole,  other than a therapist.   Even hubby doesn't know.  It's something I never talk about, but something today I feel I HAVE to talk about.   I was raped 45 years ago.  I was 18 years old.  The police told me it was MY fault, and I totally believed them.  I'd been out with a group of friends.  We'd gone up to this little bar in Port Jervis, New York.  At that time, legal drinking age in New Jersey was 21, in New York it was 18, so we'd often cross the border.  Well,  at some point of the night I lost my friend.  Later, I had found out that she went out to the car to 'neck' with her boyfriend.  Well, I'd had a bit too much to drink that night and really wanted to go home.    I was getting lightheaded and nauseous.

So, there were young men who I knew, maybe not very well, but I knew them.  They were acquaintances.   They, too, were from New Jersey, and when they offered me a ride home, I gladly accepted.   After all, they were acquaintances, weren't they?  It was supposed to be safe....only  hadn't taken into account that they, too, had been drinking...and alcohol lowers the inhibitions.  People do things they normally wouldn't do.  

All I can remember about that night is  being pulled from the car and tossed onto the ground.  I already suffered from a back injury, so when I hit the ground it was like a knife shooting through me.  I must have blacked out or disassociated myself because the next thing I remember was being tossed from the car.  It was dawn; the sun was coming up.  My clothes were ripped and dirty; my hair matted.  Black lines from mascara ran down my face from sobbing.  I was in severe pain.  I hobbled over to the nearest house and rang the bell.  

They brought me into the home and showed me to the bathroom, giving me a towel and washcloth to clean myself up.  Meanwhile, they called the police.  From there, I was brought to the police station where I was questioned, and when I told my story, I was told I didn't have a case.  I SHOULDN'T have been at the bar; I SHOULDN'T have been drinking.  When women do these things, they are ASKING FOR IT.  And after all that, I was asked if I wanted to press charges.  What would you have said?  Don't forget, we were in a different era.  It was common belief at the time that if a woman went to a bar alone, she was after one thing.  The fact is, I would have been put on the stand and been torn apart, and NOTHING, absolutely nothing would have happened to the rapists.

Times have changed somewhat since that time, but women still have to prove themselves. It is time that we all wake up about rape, the stats, the facts, and know that a woman who goes out for a drink and gets raped did not ask for it, a woman who wears tight jeans or short clothes did not ask for it, a woman out late at night did not ask for it. There has to be a time for compassion and now is that time.


Quotes by Women

"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race."
—Susan B. Anthony

"We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever."
—Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." —Margaret Mead

"Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade."
— Constance Baker Motley
(First Black Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge)


Early Signs That Your Partner Just May Be Abusive

The truth is, all relationships all start beautifully ; we meet, he sweeps us off our feet and fall in love, and get married.  He is the One.  Then the honeymoon stages ends, and suddenly He has changed...for the worse.   We think this can never happen to us, that these relationships happen only in women who lack an education, but truth be told,  even highly educated and well-accomplished women undergo abuse as well. 

Indeed, recent studies have shown that most men who abuse women were often abused themselves  in their younger years, and since it is strongly believed that childhood experiences may have played a role in turning these men into abusers, it is quite possible that they have been raised to believe that in order to make women follow their whims, they should be subjected to physical pain. Furthermore, in  some cases, the abuse is also a reaction or a form of rebellion against females...especially when the male had a negative experience with his mother.  Unconsciously, he rebels against his mother through his partner especially when he sees some similarities between the mother and his spouse's attitudes.

Although many of these men may initially be charmers, the following  are just a few early indications that  your partner just may be an abuser?
  • He tells you sob stories about how a previous relationship ended and how his girlfriend broke his trust. Watch out if he has had several failed relationships.
  •  He is overly jealous and possessive of you.  Even the time you spend with your family and friends becomes a threat to him.
  •  He  treats you as if you you are incapable of making your own decisions. He needs to control you and your actions so that you become dependent on him.
  •  He has unrealistic expectations of you, and when he thinks you have "failed", he becomes very increasingly disillusioned about you for not meeting his expectations.
  • He believes  that there is nothing wrong with the way he is treating you.
Remember.  Men who are abusive by nature rarely change how they view things. You might  try to slowly introduce him to the concept of him undergoing therapy, but get ready for  the tirades that will be coming from him.  An  when you realize that he is  not going to change--EVER--take  charge of your life and move on.


Brazil Elects First Woman to its Presidency

On Sunday, October 31st, Dilma Rousseff of the Worker's Party defeated Jose Serra of the Social Democratic Party by a wide margin and became Brazil's FIRST woman president.  Although she has never held elective office before, Rousseff, an economist, was strongly backed by Brazil's highly popular current President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. She formerly served as da Silva's Chief of Staff and a member of his cabinet as Energy Minister.

Following her historic win, Rousseff spoke passionately about her goals to eliminate poverty and promote gender equality, telling CNN  "I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say yes, women can." She also outlined her plans to improve education and public healthcare. 

During the 1970s, Rousseff was jailed and tortured for her membership in the left-wing guerrilla group called National Liberation Command, which opposed the military dictatorship ruling Brazil. She was allegedly tortured for 22 days by punching, being hit with sticks and pieces of wood, and electric shock devices. Later, Dilma denounced the torture she suffered in court proceedings, citing even the names of those who tortured her.  Dilma left jail at the end of 1972.


Study Shows Women Still Excluded from Peacemaking Processes

According to a recent report, women still have not been fully included in the peacemaking and peace-building processes in many countries. The study was released the day before the tenth anniversary of the enactment of United Nations Resolution 1325, which calls on nations to ensure women's "full involvement" in peacemaking and national security decision-makin. a

The report based on research by  the MIT Center for International Studies and the International Civil Society Action Network, focuses on six nations and regions affected by conflict... including the Indonesian province Aceh, as well as Colombia, Israel,   Liberia,  Sri Lanka, and Uganda. The Associated Press reports that although legislation was passed in some of the countries to increase women's participation, it was either never implemented or was basically ineffective. The report identifies three main problems in the implementation of Resolution 1325
  • the UN's failure to create an education campaign about its goals; 
  • the failure of governments and international conflict resolution bodies to actually integrate women;
  • and aid donors' failure to support female participation in peace processes.
Nevertheless, the study does indicate that in some countries women have begun to break into the peacemaking process, but there is still a long way to go.  For instance, in Sri Lanka and Uganda, women participated in peace negotiations   even though the negotiations eventually  failed. The report also asserts that the peace in Liberia, although quite unstable at the present time , is "largely thanks to the mass action of its women literally sitting outside the negotiations, and not giving up on peace," as quoted by the Associated Press. In addition, women's groups have led peace movements in Colombia and have  been at the forefront of peace advocacy in the Middle East, although they have been excluded from all peacemaking efforts in that region.

UN Resolution 1325 was passed unanimously on October 31, 2000.  In addition to its call for women's participation, the resolution asserts that women and children are most adversely affected by armed conflict and calls for special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict. The Associated Press reports that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, "Resolution 1325 will never be implemented successfully until we end sexual violence in conflict," while US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called women's participation in peacemaking "a necessary global security imperative."


Court Rules Spousal Abuse Permitted in UAE

Unbelievable!!! Never ceases to amaze   me when I hear things like this. It seems that one of the top courts in the United Arab Emirates ruled on the 19th that under Islamic law, a man has the right to beat his wife and children as long as no marks are left, and he has tried other forms of discipline, such as verbal reprimands or abstaining from sexual intercourse. Discipline? Hey, this is the 21st century or didn't anyone bother to clue them in? 

According to CNN, the ruling was a result of a case in which a man had slapped his wife and 23 year old daughter, resulting in marks and bruises on their bodies. Though the court maintained the man's right under Shari'a law to beat his wife and children, it ruled that in this case the man exceeded his authority by beating his wife too severely. Now, had he not left a bruise, it would have been okay.  That doesn't sit too well with me.

After news of the ruling, the Human Rights Watch called upon the government to repeal all discriminatory laws, including those that sanction domestic violence. Several experts said it is against Islamic law to permit wife-beating; however, Shari'a Law is complex and lends itself to multiple and competing interpretations.

The word sharia means "the path to a watering hole". It denotes an Islamic way of life that is more than a system of criminal justice. Sharia is a religious code for living, in the same way that the Bible offers a moral system for Christians. It is adopted by most Muslims to a greater or lesser degree as a matter of personal conscience, but it can also be formally instituted as law by certain states and enforced by the courts.


Congolese Women March Against Mass Rape

Thousands of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo marched against mass rapes on Sunday , which have become increasingly prevalent in the country as a weapon of war. According to CNN, many of the marchers were rape survivors. The march took place in Bukavu, located in eastern Congo and followed a peace and development forum.

World March of Women, together with several local women's groups, organized the march which aimed to use the event to fight the societal stigma often faced by rape victims and draw global attention to the use of rape as a tactic of war.  Many women left hospital beds to join in the march. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been named the "rape capital of the world" by the United Nations. According to CNN, there were 15,000 women raped by armed rebel groups in eastern Congo in 2009. Between July 30 and August 2 of this year alone, more than 300 people, mostly women, were raped in the country's North Kivu province. The United Nations has condemned the lack of civilian protection provided by Congolese police, military, and UN stabilization forces in the area. Since the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo began in 1998, tens of thousands of civilians have been raped.


Why Do Some Women Continue to Get Involved With Abusive Men?

You don't have to say a word. She already knows he is bad news, but she loves him and honestly believes that he loves her. Doesn't he bring her flowers and tells her he loves her, that it will never happen again?  And she believes him because she wants to believe. She wants to be loved, and she has a need TO love.  Women as nurturers often find themselves saving relationships.  He is just misunderstood, she says, no one ever loved him right, so he just doesn't know how.  The list of excuses is endless,and the danger we see them in is very real.

What makes it even worse is that we see them repeating the pattern...over and over again...going from one abuser to the next, and each one worse then the last.  They really believe that if they love him enough, they change him. More than likely you know someone, or suspect that someone, or even you yourself may be that someone who lives in an abusive home.  Why do women choose men abusive men?  There are many reasons. 

Some women with extremely low self-esteem believe that THEY are at fault, that they are the ones to blame for abuse. Many have been brainwashed for so long that when he validates their own feelings of lack, they cling to him, needing that reminder of their lack of worth.  They make every excuse under the sun for their partner and twist the truth around until it does  appear that she is at fault, and when this continues to happen, over and over again, she eventually starts to believe it herself. 
Women who grew up in abusive homes are also susceptible. They women reach adulthood believing that this type behavior is normal and acceptable. They've grown up watching their mother get hit and shoved around by their father...and saw that that they always made up, so she is more inclined to put up with the same kind of abuse. It is simply a matter of not knowing that is abnormal and should not be tolerated. In some of the saddest cases, there are women who deliberately seek out domineering men for there is something about being treated badly that satisfies some need within themselves. Perhaps they feel as if they deserve to be abused.  Some women feel they may never be able to find someone better so they settle.

We can only hope and pray the day will come when they finally realize who they are and recognize their true value. Sometimes we reach out to help, and it backfires on us.  I had a neighbor, a friend, and one day She was screaming and I found her husband with his hands around her throat.  I called the police as she asked. She never spoke to me again after that day.  So, what do we do? In the meantime, we must continue to remind them they are never alone. They are worthy of love, honor, and respect. Let them know that we may not love their choices, but we will always love them. Speak to them in a way that they know that regardless of what they may be feeling, they are loved, and that love should never hurt.


Two Indigenous Mexican Rape Victims Awarded Damages

Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued separate rulings that the Mexican government must pay damages to two indigenous women who were raped by military soldiers in 2002. The court stated that Mexico failed to uphold "the rights to personal integrity, dignity and legal protection of Ines Fernandez and Valentina Rosendo," according to the Latin American News Dispatch.

Rosendo was 17 years old when she was raped. At the time of the incident,she was approached by eight soldiers who asked her if she had seen a masked suspect. Rosendo, unable to answer their question, was then beaten and raped by the soldiers. A month later, eleven soldiers approached Fernandez at her house, and faced with a language barrier, Fernandez was unable to answer their questions and was subsequently raped

The women, both from the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, will each be compensated with judgments upwards of $100,000. Rosendo told the
Associated Press, "If the government has a little bit of dignity, it should accept they were mistaken so I can go on with my life...They didn't want to hear me in my own country." Additionally, the court ordered Mexico to take public action to acknowledge its international responsibility to victims of sexual violence and modernize their legislation so that violations of human rights will not fall under military jurisdiction in investigations.


Mary Harris

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living! "- Mother Jones 

Mary Harris was born on May 1, 1830 in a small town near County Cork, Ireland.  She was  the daughter of a Roman Catholic tenant farmer who got himself into trouble for his political activities and in 1838, made the decision  to move the family to Toronto, Canada. 
Mary graduated high school and became a school teacher and a dress maker in Michigan before settling down in Memphis, Tennessee.  In 1861 she married George Jones, an iron molder and union organizer. . Like her father, Jones held left-wing political views and was an active member of the Iron Molders' Union.  The couple had four children.

Then, in 1867 an epidemic of yellow fever swept through Memphis,  killing Mary's husband and her four children. She returned to Chicago where she worked as a dressmaker until her shop was destroy in the Chicago Fire of 1871.  Destitute and alone, Mary identified strongly with the working people who had no protection against low wages, long hours, and dangerous working conditions. She now began to see the members of the labor movement as her family and committed herself to the labor struggle for humane wages and working conditions.

She reconstructed herself as “Mother Jones", a radical organizer. Specializing in helping miners in their fight for decent wages and and end to child labor, her work involved making speeches, recruiting members, and organizing soup kitchens. Standing only five-feet tall with snow-white hair, all black dress and confrontational style, she  was indeed a fierce maternal presence, and from the late 1870s through the early 1920s, she participated in hundreds of strikes across the country.  Living by the philosophy, “wherever there is a fight,” she supported workers in the railroad, steel, copper, brewing, textile, and mining industries, and after the formation of the United Mine Workers Union in 1890, she became one of its officials. By now, she was in her sixties.

In 1905 she helped organize the Industrial Workers of the World and traveled across the country helping workers form themselves into unions. In 1912-1913, she played a leading role in the violent mine strike in Paint Creek, West Virginia, and when a company guard was murdered, Jones was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.  Now aged seventy-eight and suffering from pneumonia, Jones was found guilty  sentenced to twenty years in prison. A senatorial investigation discovered she was innocent of the charges and the sentence was overturned.

In 1925 Jones published her autobiography, defiantly writing: "In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders the cause of the workers continues onward. Slowly his hours are shortened, slowly his standards of living rise to include some of the good and beautiful things in life. Slowly, those who create the wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The future is in labor's strong, rough hands." 

Soon after celebrating her 100th birthday, Mary Harris Jones
died on November 30, 1930. After being celebrated in a mass attended by over 20,000 peopleshe was buried in the United Mine Union Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois. 

According to a West Virginia District Attorney named Reese Blizzard, Mother Jones was "the most dangerous woman in America", and according to Clarence Darrow, she was "one of the most forceful and picturesque figures of the American labor movement". Sixty-five years after her death, her name is still part of current culture, as the title of a magazine.


Leader of Mass Rapists Arrested in Congo

Self-proclaimed Lieutenant Colonel Mayele was arrested by the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  for his leadership of an armed group that allegedly raped up to 500 people in late July. Mayele was taken into custody yesterday in a military operation carried out by the Congolese military and the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the DR Congo.

The arrest was welcomed by UN Special Representative Margot Wallstrom, the top UN official dealing with sexual violence and armed conflict,reports the United Nations Radio. Wallstrom arrived in the DRC last Tuesday to investigate the mass rape of civilians that occurred in late July and early August of this year. While in the DRC, Ms. Wallstrom has met with UN agencies and Congolese officials to develop a a strategy to reduce sexual violence.

Al Jazeera reports that the use of rape by groups of fighters in eastern Congo to intimidate and control the population has been increasing...especially in the mining areas. Wallstrom told Al Jazeera that Mayele's arrest "should send out a signal that sexual violence will not go unpunished."


The Law's of Manu

Compiled over the years between 200-400 C.E., the Laws of Manu  are thought India's most famous and earliest legal code.  The text
itself deals with four subjects: 

  • the origin of the world, the sources of dharma, 
  • the rules of the four varnas (social orders) 
  • four asramas (spiritual orders)
  • karma-yoga. 
Mythology  claims that Manu was the first man who ruled justly and wisely over his subjects.  However, some of these laws pertaining to Indian women have been pointed out as paternalistic and chauvinistic arrogance, but a good number of them also reflect the freedom and respect that women in ancient society enjoyed. The laws found therein are obviously not modern. Thus to be fair, they should not be compared to modern laws, but rather to socio-religious rules that pertain to an ancient culture. 

Here then is a selection of some of his more famous laws that touch the lives of women:

*"A girl, a young woman, or even an old woman should not do anything independently, even in her own house. -In childhood a woman should be under her father’s control, in youth under her husband’s and when her husband is dead, under her sons."

*“A husband should be worshiped as a God.”

*“If the female members live in grief, the family is destroyed. If the female members are happy, the family flourishes in all directions.”

*“Women shall receive one-quarter share of the inheritance of their parents. If a man has no sons, his daughter may inherit everything he had.”

*“Brothers should give one-forth of their inheritance to their sisters for their sisters’ dowries.”

*“A father sins unless he marries his daughter off when she reaches puberty.”

*“A man can leave a barren woman after eight years and one who only gives birth to daughters.”
*“Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; they give themselves to the handsome as well as to the ugly just for the fact that he is a man.”

*“A woman should not go to a meeting place; and they should not dance like the young, but sit at their proper places.”

*“A wife, a son, and a slave, these three are declared to have no property. The wealth which they earn is acquired for him to whom they belong.”
*“Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling they may appear to be; for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on both the families. Considering it the highest duty of all castes, even wealthy husbands must strive to guard their wives....lest the seed of others be sown on your soil.”

*“It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world, for that reason the wise never remain unguarded in the company of female.”

*“A virtuous wife who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she have no son, just like those chaste men.”

*“If a woman should happen to merely to overhear recitations of Vedic mantras by chance, hot molten glass should be poured into her ears.”


UN Official to Investigate Mass Rape in the Congo

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallstroem, arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday; she flew there to investigate the mass rape of civilians that occurred there in June and July of this year. The main objective will be to coordinate an appropriate response to the mass rape by rebels of more than 300 people, mostly women, in the country's North Kivu province when rebels allegedly entered the town of Ruvungi on July 30 and pillaged the town, systematically raping its occupants for several days and blocking the road that connects the town to the UN peace keeping troops.

The United Nations first condemned the use of mass rape as a weapon of war  on August. At that time, Wallstroem told reporters that using rape as a tool of war is no more acceptable nor inevitable than committing mass murder. While in the Congo, Ms. Wallstroem intends to meet with UN agencies and Congolese officials to speed up the enactment of an effective strategy against sexual violence.


This Should Get Your Dander Up

“Instructing a woman is like holding a sack of sand whose sides have split open.”
- Ankhsheshong, scribe. Late Period Ancient Egypt

“Neither wives of lords, nor widows, nor Assyrian women who go out on the street, may have their heads uncovered.....when they go out on the street alone, they must veil themselves.”
- Middle Assyrian Law, 1383-1000 B.C.E.

“A proper wife should be as obedient as a slave...The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities - a natural defectiveness.”
- Aristotle

“A woman...cultivates the skills required in the women’s quarters and has no ambition to manage affairs outside the house...She must follow the ‘three submissions.’ When she is young, she must submit to her parents. After her marriage, she must submit to her husband. When she is widowed, she must submit to her son.”
- “The Mother of Mencius,” Waring States, 475-221 B.C.E, China

“Women, even though they are of full age, because of their levity of mind shall be under guardianship.”
- The Twelve Tables, Rome, 450 B.C.E.

“You must be like the heart in the body. You must not leave the home...You must be like embers in the hearth.”
- Advice given Aztec girls at ceremonies honoring their birth.

“Women are as different from men as earth from the heaven. She depends on the light of her husband to shine.” and “Woman’s virginity and chastity are more important than her life.”
- Neo-Confucian Sayings, China.

“If you have a son, you can say you have a descendant. But you cannot say thus, even if you have ten daughters.”
- Vietnamese proverb

“Even though you sleep intimately on the same bed and under the same cover with him, you must treat your husband as if he were your king.”
- Upper Class Confucian marriage manual, Vietnam

“There are only two places for a woman, the house and the grave”
- Pakistani proverb

“Women have long hair and a short mind.”
- Swedish proverb

“The best way to keep a woman is barefoot in the winter and pregnant in the summer”
- American proverb