Love ‘Em All: A Bisexuality-Affirming Playlist

March, in addition to being Women’s History Month, is also Bisexual Health Awareness Month. Bisexuals (pan/poly/omnisexuals et al.) of all genders face discrimination and health issues at rates way beyond monosexuals of any gender. If you want to check out #BiHealthMonth and some of the depressing statistics you can do that here. To combat all the shit bisexuals deal with I wanted to make a playlist of songs (in precisely zero order)–interspersed with art–that affirm bisexuality, whether they are performed by bisexual artists or not, so get your sewing circle together and enjoy!

Bi Cartoon

Some Days, Some Other Days by Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too

Rhythm by Tamara de Lempicka (1924)

Rhythm by Tamara de Lempicka (1924)

Las Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo (1939)

Las Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo (1939)

Fwew! That’s a lot of music to soothe, energize, and delight your bi little souls. What other songs would you add? Which musicians am I missing? Let me know in the comments, and here’s an infographic for your troubles. Be safe, be well!

BHAM 3 ts to safer sex


February: the Pinnacle of Intersectionality

For being the shortest month of the year February certainly packs a lot into its 28 days. I apologize in advance if some of this is discombobulated. Of course February is Black History Month, and it’s also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and a time for LBGTQAI+ visibility. So how do all of these factors interact? I’m glad you asked! Unfortunately the data on dating abuse amongst black queer youth is practically non-existent, so that’s something to get on before next February rolls around. Here’s a quick primer on why feminists need to talk about race (as if Black Feminists haven’t been), and a good list of books covering race, gender, sexuality, class and culture. Don’t tell me you’re colorblind either.

health relationshipsFebruary started off with 68 survivors of human trafficking being rescued before the Super Bowl, including sixteen teens between ages 13-17, with epic timing the nation’s first home for sex trafficked boys also broke ground this month. Of young Queer people who have sex for survival a startling 89% identify as people of color, with homelessness amongst Queer youth being a leading cause of needing to trade sex for food or shelter. Transwomen are especially likely to be targeted in prostitution stings, even if they are not actually sex workers. Even though transgender folks can safely use long-term hormones and can no longer be discriminated against in receiving help from federally funded shelters, the Ali Forney Center in NYC for homeless LGBT youth remains a rare safe haven.

Additionally rates of abuse and domestic violence in Queer relationships have increased, but help for Queer folks seeking shelter hasn’t. Here you can check out some things that make abuse and domestic violence invisible in the Queer community. And while reporting of sexual assault and domestic violence is low in most communities the fear of reporting is confounded by systems of racial and class bias, making Asian-Americans are very unlikely to report either. Luckily the newest (and second in history) Asian-American TV comedy Fresh Off the Boat has already tackled how to teach consent, and it was funny! In other domestic violence news NASCAR has suspended Kurt Busch indefinitely for violence he allegedly committed against his girlfriend in September. Abusers who strangle their partners are twice as likely to kill them, so to see NASCAR react in such a responsible way is refreshing.

#BlackLivesMatter, a movement that started more than three years ago with the murder of Trayvon Martin and was fueled by Ferguson, churns forward with San Francisco’s Queer #BlackLivesMatter Action today in the Castro, and Americans across the nation waking up to realize the Prison-Industrial Complex is a terrible idea. While the police in this country are killing more people than ever–unidentified womenveterans, Queer Latina girls, black boys, Native Americans, black women–Trayvon Martin’s murderer (like so many other killers who start with violence against the women in their lives) seems invincible.

Zimmerman Always Arrested AliveWhile trans visibility is becoming more of a reality and some women’s colleges are adjusting their admitting policies, the sickening rate of murder of trans women this year has been overwhelming. You can donate here to Sumaya Dalmar’s legacy. And while young people are more likely to see gender as a spectrum rather than a binary, trans kids are apparently ruining the bathroom situation for everyone else *massive eye roll* and high schoolsuniversities, and Indiana are still discriminating against the LGBTQ community. Kids throughout the Queer community are also committing suicide at alarming rates, which is one reason visibility matters. Hopefully something from the 2015 Rainbow List of books for Queer young people will help, and efforts like Transforming Gender and these photo essays on transgender elders can show young people that life after 25 is possible, for some.

leelah-alcorn-suicide noteNative American children have also been committing suicide at terrifying rates, and were showered in racial slurs and beer at a hockey game this month too. But Native American Queers are reclaiming history in pushing for marriage equality, and Native American women are reclaiming history in A Thousand VoicesDiane Humetewa made history this month as the first Native American woman appointed as a federal judge and other Native Americans are fighting back against assimilation in their own ways, quietly, everyday.

Black women in both the anti-racism movement and the unfortunately often separate white feminist movement are doing amazing things this year, like creating #WeAreBlackHistory, running companies in corporate America, sharing thoughts on being black women writers, launching the “Because of Them We Can” photo essay, examining the state of black girls in education and juvenile justice systems, spearheading the Manhood Development Program for black boys, defending their hair and their culture with nothing but class, dropping the mic on rape culture, and superimposing bell hooks quotes over 90s pictures. Check out a discussion on wage equality, glass ceilings and interracial dating here.

Here are some of the black feminist authors and Queer Black Women you should know, and here is an A-Z children’s book of Radical American Women, and a short history of four Queer African BAMFs. Here is an amazing Black woman scientist. Black girls are making history too, in sports, and in education. And an African-American military history museum in Mississippi is honoring women veterans through March in honor of both Black History and Women’s History months. Here you can take a look at what has and hasn’t changed for African Americans since segregation was law.

Catwoman-bi.0

Catwoman, like these badasses, is a bisexual woman of color now! And everyone is talking about her. High school girls are also talking about the subject of slut-shaming, and even though ridiculous violations of girls’ privacy are apparently legal and politicians don’t seem to understand sexual assault girls understand #TheresNoPerfectVictim. Twitter admits that they “suck at dealing with abuse” but the social media giant can do good, with #50ShadesOfAbuse spurring a movement to give to local domestic violence agencies.

President Obama’s immigration reform actions, expansion of FMLA, and creation of a Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights have been good, but not enough. Freeing transwomen–hell, all women–from immigration detention centers, and granting amnesty to the women and girls fleeing violence, child marriage and abuse around the world is the right thing to do. New York is also finally doing the right thing by putting a stop to asking about students’ immigration status in admittance paperwork.

Although science has made massive leaps in reproductive technologies which benefit everyone, including the Queer community, Latinas are still dying from breast cancer at an alarming rate. Some thoughts on being Afro-latin@ address intersectionality in race and class that can compound discrimination in healthcare. Here are a few Latinas making history today.

10616064_812322468823418_3635888886299626207_nOne hand washes the other as some politicians are pushing for college campuses to take action against sexual violence while students are lobbying for a bill which would educate young people about sexual violence. Indiana is also in the news this month for punishing a(nother!) Asian-American woman for having a miscarriage. Want to hear black voices in the Reproductive Justice Movement? They’ve always been here, it’s time we stop silencing them.

Reproductive Justice is the term created by black women in 1994 to bridge the gap between reproductive rights and other social justice movements. Reproductive Justice, the human right to not have children, to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments and the human right to bodily autonomy and to express one’s sexuality freely, insists that we see abortion and reproductive health in the larger context of the overall health and wellness of women, our families and our communities. – Monica Raye Simpson, SisterSong

Female Genital Mutilation, a clear violation of human rights and good medicine, is a problem that’s not usually discussed in an American context, unfortunately that’s probably because it’s more likely to happen to immigrant women of color. This new law book on reproductive justice is the first of its kind and shockingly a Texan politician is pushing for medically accurate sexual health education in the Lone Star State, because as we learned in Colorado, it works. And we’ve talked about them before, but we really don’t need a reason to push the Native Youth Sexual Health Network‘s awesomeness on you, but Teen DV Awareness Month is a good excuse. Here’s a coming of age film centered on black girls for you and a short film history on Arab feminism, because after reading through all that’s happened this month, you deserve it.


Reflections on Being an Abortion Provider

After well over two years with Austin Women’s Health Center providing abortion care and reproductive healthcare to the women of Texas I learned many lessons I’d like to share with you, dear reader, and to leave for myself as a reminder why I must always remain in the fight for Reproductive Justice and bodily autonomy. It was a lot to learn, and will be a lot to take in, so bear with me.

AWHC

Austin Women’s Health Center

  1. All women have abortions. Every age. Every race. Every religion. Every class. Every marital status. Every sexual orientation. Every ability. Every education level. Everyone has abortions. Period.
  2. If someone does not want to be pregnant she will go to extreme lengths, even risking her health or life, to terminate the pregnancy. All the ridiculous laws do is make it more difficult for women to obtain a safe, timely abortion.
  3. October 3rd 2014 was the worst day of my life. On that day my colleagues and I were forced to call, and face, patients who had scheduled abortion procedures with us to tell them the state of Texas would not allow it. We referred them to what was (and could be) the only provider in Austin-Planned Parenthood, and providers in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. It was utterly heartbreaking and many times many of us erupted into tears alongside our patients, because even though we were not the ones needing an abortion, we were also furious that Texas had allowed this to happen.20130712_195121
  4. While the cost of an abortion in Austin this year has gone up for the first time since the 1970s, the $600-1,200 it costs to have an ultrasound and terminate a pregnancy is insurmountable for so many individuals and families.
  5. Many, many women have more than one abortion. And that’s totally ok.
  6. A majority of women who have abortions already have children. They get it, they know how emotionally, physically and financially draining parenting is.
  7. The range of emotions around abortion is as varied as the human experience. For some women their abortion is the most difficult, tragic thing they have ever done; for others the idea of being pregnant is laughable and therefore their easy decision comes with overwhelming relief. I’ve learned that people who have abortions feel like they don’t have the right to grieve because they are choosing to end their pregnancies. This is just so wrong on so many levels. There is no “should” when it comes to emotions.
  8. Women expect to be treated like shit by their healthcare providers, both their abortion provider and their regular doctor, because they chose abortion.20130701_112707
  9. It takes an especially thick skin, a sick sense of humor, and a fierce passion to be an abortion provider, whether you’re “just answering phones” or the MD performing the surgery.
  10. All people deserve quality healthcare from providers who respect their choices and their knowledge of what is best for themselves, their families and their lives.
  11. Adoption is not an alternative to abortion. Adoption is an alternative to parenting. A huge number of women who have abortions do so because they do not want to be pregnant.
  12. The smallest bit of kindness, whether from healthcare providers, from friends or family, or just in general conversations about abortion, can make a huge difference to someone facing an unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy. Try compassion, I promise, you’ll like it.
  13. A majority of folks who have abortions were using birth control when they got pregnant. I’ve talked to patients using every single kind of birth control from the pill to vasectomy.
  14. Don’t trust doctors who tell you that you cannot get (someone) pregnant. The human body is an incredible thing and folks who were told that their endometriosis or bike accident as a kid meant they would never have children can and do. Tubal ligation and vasectomies can and do heal. The only way for sexually active folks to prevent all pregnancy is to only engage in homosexual sex. Now if only we could prevent rape….
  15. The Republican Party does not care about women’s health, nor respect our individual autonomy as human beings, therefore if someone votes Republican they are saying that they too do not care about human rights. If you think that women deserve to make their own medical choices, that all consenting adults have the right to marry whomever they love, and that education and medical care should be prioritized over border patrol and prisons, it’s time to vote with your conscience.Where are the women
  16. Laws restricting abortion, birth control, cancer screenings and access to general reproductive healthcare are not really about women’s health given that abortion is one of the safest procedures in the country. Hell, they’re not even about abortion, or god, or the church, they’re about greed. Forcing women to give birth to children they cannot afford ensures a cheap labor force by perpetuating the cycle of poverty. This ties into for-profit prison systems, lack of solid public education, etc. The whole thing is disgusting.
  17. Women trust their doctors… and the internet. Factual, reliable, medically accurate information around abortion and its risks is not easily accessible, especially when doctors are forced by the state to lie to their patients.
  18. Women who have abortions for medical reasons are generally truly heartbroken. They are not looking for understanding or blessings from the Religious Right but silence would be appreciated.
  19. Protesters just piss people off. With the exception of umpires, referees and prison guards I can’t think of any other profession where people are yelled at and have their lives threatened just for doing their jobs.1469799_780493158693927_3089968049188411259_n
  20. A huge number of anti-choice protesters and outspoken opponents of abortion have had abortions!
  21. Most patients who choose to view their fetal tissue after a surgical (machine vacuum aspiration) abortion are shocked by it. Early in the pregnancy, under 9-10 weeks or so, they are shocked by how small it is. Later in the pregnancy they are shocked by what they can identify. As we know many of the photos of fetuses that end up in protesters’ signs were late-term miscarriages so don’t think that at 12 weeks you’re dealing with a newborn, but being able to identify appendages and facial features is normal. Viewing the tissue is an incredibly personal decision, and one that most patients don’t even consider, but anyone reading this who is going to have an abortion, I strongly encourage you to ask yourself what it is you’re hoping to gain from viewing the tissue, and prepare yourself for what you might see.
  22. The medical abortion, abortion pill, Mifeprex, Mifepristone, RU-486, Misoprostal, Cytotec or Cyto–whatever you want to call it–is a long, drawn out process for many people. I would not choose it unless a surgical abortion was unobtainable but for many people, this very safe, very effective method of termination is the preferred choice. For women who live in places where abortion is illegal or practically unobtainable Cyto may be a lifesaver.
  23. The ONLY good thing about a mandatory waiting period and Texas’ requirement that the same doctor who will perform the abortion is the one who does the ultrasound is that it gives patients a chance to meet the staff and the doctor and take some of that initial fear of the unknown away.20130701_122950
  24. Many women do want to see their ultrasound, some even want a copy of it. There are medical reasons for ultrasound dating of the pregnancy, but politicians want to force women to have –and view– vaginal ultrasounds to embarrass, humiliate and shame them. Does humiliating someone into becoming a parent sound like a good idea to anyone?
  25. The sentimentality around getting “a picture of the baby” and the fetal “heartbeat” are overwhelming. We forget, or were purposely never taught, that a single cell can beat like a heart in a petri dish, so the idea that a five-week embryo has a “heartbeat” does not mean what politicians want us to think it means.
  26. LMP vs. conception: When dating the pregnancy the doctor want to know when the FIRST day of a woman’s last menstrual period was, thus LMP. Doctors date pregnancy from this point, not from when a patient thinks conception was, because the date of sex ≠ the date the egg was fertilized. Sperm can live in the human body for up to three days, that’s why Plan B can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex (but seriously the sooner you take it the more effective it is!). Therefore when your doctor tells you that the pregnancy is measuring 6 weeks and zero days, that means roughly one month from intercourse. And at that point the embryo is about the size of a single grain of rice.
  27. Most people feel the need to justify their decisions to the staff at abortion clinics because there is so much stigma around abortion. While I love hearing people’s stories, and they all matter, why you’re having an abortion is none of my business, all I need to know is that you don’t want to be pregnant right now.Bedsider-Birth-Control-Effectiveness-Poster
  28. Women will always have abortions. BIRTH CONTROL WILL FAIL, partners will change their minds or leave or die, pregnant folks will change their minds, illness will come up, jobs will go away, partners will be abusive, etc. Even for women who planned to get pregnant, things can and do and will always come up that make continuing the pregnancy a non-option. Abortion will always be a necessity.
  29. I want science to figure out a way to put a pause button on pregnancy. Of course if the pregnancy is with the wrong person or there are health reasons or if someone simply doesn’t want children pausing it won’t do any good, but if someone just wants to finish school, or get ahead in their career, or make enough money to pay for diapers, being able to pause the pregnancy could reduce the number of abortions.20130701_111334
  30. No one gets pregnant to have an abortion.
  31. Not wanting to be pregnant, or not wanting to parent, or not wanting to be pregnant or parent *right now* does not make you a bad person. Sometimes… a lot of the time, abortion is the responsible choice.

Day 16 of 16 Days of Activism: Nigeria

#Day16 of #16Days–our final exploration of resources around the world for those affected by gender-based violence–leads us to Nigeria. Thankfully the resources available to folks facing violence and discrimination in Nigeria are much more plentiful than yesterday’s exploration of The Bahamas! Unfortunately these resources are much-needed as statistics show that at least one of every three women in Nigeria suffers from domestic violence and in some areas even physical violence against one’s spouse is not considered a crime. As many as 56% of women in parts of Nigeria are also subjected to female genital mutilation-FGM.

International non-governmental organizations, like Pathfinder International and CEDPA, are working in Nigeria to provide reproductive and maternal healthcare due to the astronomical rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Nationally the Women’s Rights and Health Project engages “community leaders, policy makers, religious/traditional leaders and other stakeholder[s] in the promotion of women’s rights and health.” Their “Gender Based Violence programme is a comprehensive rights and health intervention which engages community based social structures in mitigation, prevention and control, access to Justice for survivors and general support.” They offer counseling services to young couples, provide marriage counseling, and referral services, and hold workshops and training in

  • HIV/AIDS prevention and control
  • Planning and implementation of community level interventions
  • Economic empowerment
  • Gender sensitization and awareness
  • Leadership for community women
  • Conflict Resolution and Management
Prof J. Odey facilitating a Focus Group Discussion with representatives of Women’s Groups at CIRDDOC Community Information Centre, Ikwo

Prof J. Odey facilitating a Focus Group Discussion with representatives of Women’s Groups at CIRDDOC Community Information Centre, Ikwo

The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) “is an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation established in 1996 for the protection and promotion of human rights and women’s human rights and the strengthening of civil society. CIRDDOC is also committed to the institutionalization of good governance, gender equality and the rule of law in Nigeria.” Through public outreach, training, capacity building, the media, seminars, conferences, research, public hearings, civic education, counseling, advocacy, litigation, advice on budgeting and MANY other projects CIRDDOC hopes

  • To promote human rights, women’s rights, gender equality, and good governance.
  • To facilitate access to justice and the rule of law.
  • To build capacity of civil society to demand accountability from leaders and policy makers.
  • To facilitate networking, collaboration and partnerships among civil society organisations, and between government and civil society organisations.
The Gender and Transformative Leadership Training in Nigeria from WOCON

The Gender and Transformative Leadership Training in Nigeria from WOCON

The Women’s Consortium of Nigeria holds a United Nations special Consultative Status for their work to enhance the status of women and their commitment to “related feminist goals and ideals.” They focus on human trafficking (in women and children), gender violence, civic education, grassroots advocacy, conferences and meetings, and political empowerment. They also offer a number of resources and explain how you can help. The aim of their work is

  • To monitor the implementation of Women’s Rights for the attainment of equal status of women in all aspects of social political and economic development within the community and the nation at large.
  • To organise and establish resource centres from which individual and organisations committed to feminist goals can share space equipments facilities and information on women issue or matters.
  • To monitor and ensure the implementation of all commitments made by Government Bodies and Agencies through conventions charters regulations geared towards the welfare and enhancement of the status of women.
  • To educate the public on the rights of women and the means of enforcing such rights for the achievement of equality, development and peace.
  • To co-operate with National and International NGO’s and agencies by networking and co-alligning for the achievement of specific goals for the welfare and development of women.
  • To set up temporary abode for distressed girls and women including battered women and to prepare such girls and women psychologically be counseling and other forms of therapy and education for a re-orientation towards attaining a better and more purposeful life in the society.
  • To work for peace Women’s Rights and economic and social justice.

Regionally the West African Women’s Rights Coalition and in Nigeria WACOL- WomenAid Collective, was formed “to promote and advocate for the rights of women in the West African Sub Region using the African Union mechanisms, in particular the African Commission and ECOWAS.” They “are dedicated and committed to helping women and young people in need,” and envision “A democratic society free from violence and abuse where Human Rights of all, especially Women and young people are recognised in law and practice.” They provide shelter and legal aid to those affected by abuse and offer free legal aid hotlines at: 042-303333, 09-2340647, 084-572948 +234-0704-761-837, and +234-0704-761-839. 

seyi law

Project Alert on Violence Against Women opened the first battered women’s shelter in Nigeria, Sophia’s Place, back in 2001. In addition to shelter they offer legal aid and counseling services. Other work focuses on research and documentation and human rights education. They can be reached by phone at 234-1-8209387, 08052004698, and 08180091072, and by email at projectalert@projectalertnig.org and info@projectalertnig.org. Check out their blog here and join the conversation on Twitter with #speakupendabuse. 

So many inspirational organizations exist in Nigeria and around the world that are striving everyday to end gender-based violence. The message of today’s International Human Rights Day is #HumanRights365 because everyone deserves all their human rights every single day of the year. It’s truly been my pleasure to virtually travel the globe as your tour guide over these past 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence! If you or someone you know needs help escaping abuse what we’ve learned is that it’s imperative you speak up. There is help- it’s here.


Day 15 of 16 Days of Activism: The Bahamas

#Day15 of #16Days focuses on another Caribbean country, the islands of The Bahamas. Shockingly 45% of all homicides in the 20 years leading up to 2012 could be attributed to domestic violence in the islands. The government, under the Ministry of Social Services, does operate the Bureau of Women’s Affairs which presumably handles the Assistance for Persons Experiencing Domestic Violence where assistance is free to those who are willing to comply with the eligibility requirements: willingness to attend and participate in counseling and “willingness to share information.”

The government also offers community development like support groups and classes for the disabled in Braille and sign language, counseling, rehab and welfare services including rent assistance and discounted daycare. A two-day Symposium on Gender Equality and the Law in The Bahamas was held in September of this year, yet a constitutional referendum has been ongoing since 2002 to try to make citizenship laws and gender equality in The Bahamas more in line with the 21st Century. You can find a document outlining laws in The Bahamas regarding sexual assault and domestic violence here.

Men too

Of note is the legal definition of spousal rape: “Any person who has sexual intercourse with his spouse without the consent of the spouse —
(a) where there is in existence in relation to them — (i) a decree nisi of divorce; (ii) a decree of judicial separation; (iii) a separation agreement; or (iv) an order of a court for the person not to molest or co-habit with his spouse, or any other order made under Part II; or
(b) where the person has notice that a petition for judicial separation, divorce or nullity of marriage has been presented to a court, is guilty of the offence of sexual assault by spouse and liable to imprisonment for a term of fifteen years.” Yet the sentence for “unnatural connection with any animal” is twenty years….

According to the US Department of State 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in The Bahamas “The law does not provide women with the same right as men to transmit citizenship to their foreign-born spouses. The law also makes it easier for men with foreign spouses than for women with foreign spouses to transmit citizenship to their children but more difficult for unmarried men (even if able to prove paternity). The law does not include gender as a basis for protection from discrimination. Women were generally free of economic discrimination, and the law provides for equal pay for equal work.” Additionally, pregnant girls in state-run schools are removed and put into special programs until after they give birth, and “The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, although girls may marry at 16 and boys at 17 with parental permission.”

There is no specific law protecting persons with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. Provisions in other legislation address the rights of persons with disabilities, including a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. Although the law mandates access for persons with physical disabilities in new public buildings, authorities rarely enforced this requirement, and very few buildings and public facilities were accessible to persons with disabilities. Advocates for persons with disabilities complained of widespread job discrimination and general apathy on the part of private employers and political leaders toward the need for training and equal opportunity. In one case authorities denied access to public educational facilities for a mentally sound child with only physical limitations confining him to a wheelchair.

Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals occurred, with some persons reporting job and housing discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Although same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal, the law defines the age of consent for same-sex couples as 18, compared with 16 for heterosexual couples. No domestic legislation addresses the human rights concerns of LGBT persons. LGBT NGOs can openly operate in the country. The 2006 Constitutional Review Commission found that sexual orientation did not deserve protection against discrimination. LGBT NGOs reported that LGBT persons faced some discrimination in employment, and victims were frustrated at the lack of legal recourse.

Stigma and employment discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were high, but there were no reports of violence against persons with HIV/AIDS. Children with HIV/AIDS also faced discrimination, and authorities often did not tell teachers that a child was HIV-positive for fear of verbal abuse from both educators and peers. The government maintained a home for orphaned children infected with HIV/AIDS.

All Saints Camp claims to be a refuge for those affected by HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas but the US Human Rights Report cited deplorable conditions and extremely substandard care. Their Facebook page argues that they do not have access to government funding but through the generosity of donors “the daily life at ASC has become worth living on a very very basic level – to maintain this goal is a constant and revolving challenge for all involved.”

Bahamas Crisis Centre

The Bahamas Crisis Centre is not easy to find online, and their Facebook page doesn’t offer a lot of insight either, but they do operate a 24/7 hotline at 242-328-0922. It’s difficult to gauge how active they are currently but it looks like they have participated in a number of community events from toy drives for children at Christmas, to their Silent Witness Campaign to Take Back the Night. They and others throughout the Caribbean are listed here under Caribbean Crisis Centres and Women’s NGOs. Similarly elusive is the Bahamas LGBT Equality Advocates, or BLEA, but it is unclear what their role is or how they go about advancing equality.

Silent Witness

Unfortunately for a country facing incredible amounts of gender-based violence and general inequality there are few organizations or resources there to help. Let’s hope the situation in Nigeria–for the last day of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence–is less bleak.


Day 14 of 16 Days of Activism: Belize

From the multicultural islands of Singapore we head to the equally multicultural, albeit exponentially smaller, Central American country of Belize for #Day14 of #16Days. With an estimated 340,000 people in its borders statistics on Belize are much simpler to attain than many countries. One shelter in Belize sees 40-50 walk-in clients per month. A 1998 study stated that 50% of all women in Belize have been subject to domestic violence.

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According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Gender Gap Report Belize ranked 102nd of 135 (the third worst in Latin America) in gender equality, despite tying many countries for first place in health and survival, because it ranked 77th in Economic Participation and Opportunity, 100th in Educational Attainment (the lowest rank in the region) and 131st in Political Empowerment. (The US ranked 8th, 33rd and 55th respectively, to give you a comparison.) Unfortunately for Belize since 2006 their score has just continued to fall.

The Women’s Department of the Ministry of Human Development aims to promote gender equality and equity. They propose doing this through:

  • Community Development- The Department develops and coordinates services that are primarily aimed at assisting women to take on greater roles and responsibilities within the local community and enhance their skills and economic independence.
  • Education- The Department organizes and facilitates educational workshops throughout the country on issues of interest to women and men. It participates in radio and television programs and hosts a resource library that houses books, reports and magazines and research papers that relate to women.
  • Policy Development- The Department works along with NGO’s and other Government Ministries to lobby and advocate for the development of gender-sensitive policies and programs that will enhance the lives of women.
  • Training- The Women’s Department offers course in Computer Literacy, Sewing, Cake Decorating, Arts & Craft,Personal Development and Gender Awareness.

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The National Women’s Commission–appointed by the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation–”is a body of individual women and men appointed by the Government to function as a strategic guidance and oversight mechanism for the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in Belize.” A number of publications regarding women’s rights and gender equality are available on their website.

The Ministry of National Security operates the Belize Police Department Family Violence Unit. Their goal is to “assist the public in dealing with issues of family violence by offering direct services or in doing referrals to other relevant governmental agencies and NGO’s as the case may call for based on needs and the victim’s decision.” They can be reached at 501-227-2222. The government also provides a list of emergency numbers–city-by-city–here

BODinvitation

Two shelter programs are available to those seeking freedom from violence in Belize. “There is no direct line for Haven House shelter, however members of the public can contact the shelter through the women’s department at the Domestic Violence Unit, Police department. The numbers are 011-501-227-7397 and o11-501-227-3888.” Mary Open Doors also provides shelter to survivors of all genders who have faced abuse and violence. Their office is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm and their Emergency Number is 629-6315. They offer:

  1. Education on the dynamics of domestic violence and your rights
  2. Immediate temporary shelter
  3. A fresh start to an independent and positive future
  4. No less than 21 days stay with basic needs
  5. Initial meeting with qualified social worker/ counselor
  6. Basic counseling
  7. Supportive parenting classes
  8. Referrals
  9. Court Advocacy
  10. Skills Training

The Cornerstone Foundation offers a number of programs. In addition to its Women Program which focuses on financial dependency, inadequate education and vocational skills, size of families, and domestic violence, they also have programs dedicated to Health, Youth, HIV/AIDS, Relief & Aid, Literacy and Community Linking.

WIN Belize

WIN Belize–the Women’s Issues Network–hosted a 12-week National Women Leaders Training this year for women interested in a political career. “Over the years, WIN-Belize has worked on programs in the areas of: Organizational Development, Community Outreach and Communication, and Advocacy. The Network has, for example, implemented a successful Minimum Wage Campaign to raise the minimum wage for female-dominated jobs and eliminate gender disparities in the minimum wage levels for men and women. The Network has created awareness nationally, on the impact of globalization and trade issues on women. Several joint women’s empowerment projects involving the constituent groups of member agencies were also implemented.”

For such a small country the quality of their resources is impressive. Let’s hope their capacity continues to grow and that equality in Belize outpaces all other aspects of development. Keep up the good work!


Day 13 of 16 Days of Activism: Singapore

As one of two places in Asia where English is the primary language, Singapore takes center stage on #Day13 of #16Days of Activism. Arguable one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world with a population nearing 5.5 million, the government of Singapore encourages multiculturalism, and recognizes English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil as official languages. Singapore shines in some areas–like boasting the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and being the world’s most religiously diverse nation–and lacks in others–there is no minimum wage in the country and all public gatherings of five or more require police permits.

While reporting of domestic violence and the collection of statistical data related to gender-based or interpersonal violence has been difficult to assemble in Singapore, estimates currently state that nearly one in 10 women in Singapore were victimized at some point in their adult lives, and more than one-third of the survivors surveyed were afraid for their lives during the most recent incidence of violence. There are a handful or organizations on the 277 square mile island nation dedicated to helping everyone live free from fear and violence.

we can

We Can! Singapore “uses interactive theatre, intimate workshops, and collaborative projects to reach out to individual Change Makers as well as community groups, provoking thought and discussion on the less obvious forms of violence against women…. [and] builds on the belief that change can be achieved when people recognise the problem of violence against women as their own, know that there is a better alternative, and feel empowered to make that change happen.”

A number of organizations exist that specialize in aiding folks with disabilities. The Asian Women’s Welfare Association “strives to empower caregivers and caregiving families of the disabled, the elderly as well as the chronically and terminally-ill through the provision of information, training and support programmes. We also work with caregivers to advocate for more caregiver-friendly policies, support and services for caregivers and their loved ones.” Care Corner operates Project START- Stop Abusive Relationships Together which aims to “provide community-based services for mentally incapacitated persons of family violence, and/or vulnerable persons with disability, etc. Care Corner Project StART handles various types of complex family violence cases that comprise of high risk. Care Corner Project StART provides family protection intervention work in the west and south region of Singapore.”

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The National Council of Social Services “with the goal of enhancing the quality of social services for the disadvantaged, works closely with VWOs [Voluntary Welfare Organizations] to build their organisational capabilities for better management and delivery of social service programmes.” NCSS operates:

  • Family Service Centres
    Family Service Centres (FSCs) are a key community-based focal point and social service provider for families in need. The objectives of FSCs are to promote and improve the social well-being of every individual in the family, at every stage of life. FSCs are staffed with social workers and other professionals to provide a helping hand.
  • Single-Parent Family Support Services
    The objectives of a Single-Parent Programme are to support and promote the psycho-emotional well-being of single-parent families towards stability, growth and acceptance of the new family unit. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
  • Services for Remarriages and Step-families
    The holistic programme helps remarried couples and their families cope with their new roles and adjust in their reconstituted families. The services provided include family casework and counselling, support groups, programmes for children, and public education.
  • Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme
    The Family Violence Prevention and Intervention Programme aims to help victims, perpetrators and witnesses of family violence. It also aims to create greater awareness in the community about issues on family violence through public education and outreach. The programme involves services ranging from remedial services to preventive and developmental programmes. These include casework and counselling, group work, and workshops.
  • Counselling Services
    Counselling services aim to help those suffering from psychological issues, anxiety, and behavioural difficulties arising from relationship problems, addictions, bereavement and lifestyle pressures. Counselling helpline services are also available to provide a listening ear to anyone who needs to talk about their concerns. Information and referral are also available for those with specific needs.
  • Suicide Prevention Service
    Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides confidential 24-hour emotional support by trained volunteers to people in crisis, thinking of suicide or affected by suicide.
  • Aftercare Case Management Service
    The objective of the aftercare case management service is to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders into families and the society. Such service also aims to harness greater community resources in efforts to reintegrate ex-offenders.
    The aftercare case management service assists ex-offenders in attaining employment/job training, securing accommodation, developing social support and coping skills, and attaining a positive lifestyle.

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The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations is the umbrella over 57 organizations in the country. Their aims and objectives include:

  1. To co-ordinate and act as a federation for women’s organisations, and to bring together all women leaders of Singapore;
  2. To create opportunities for member organisations to share information and collaborate with each other;
  3. To identify areas of common interest , and purpose, and furthering these through unified effort;
  4. To foster friendly relationships, goodwill and understanding amongst women, irrespective of origin, race, or religion;
  5. To provide leadership and work positively towards peace and understanding throughout the world by actively participating regionally and internationally with other like-minded organisations which subscribe to similar aims and objects;
  6. To promote and improve the status of women in Singapore in all fields, and where necessary, seek legislative and policy changes to ensure justice and equal opportunity for women as embodied in the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  7. To serve as a resource centre for information about women in Singapore and carry out research and training programmes that will benefit women;
  8. To provide direct and support services that address the needs of women in Singapore, with special focus on the needs of vulnerable women.

PAVE–the first family violence specialist centre in Singapore– was created with the goal “to promote a healthy community, free from violence through improvement, collaboration and advocacy.” They provide counseling services, support groups, referrals, safety planning, help with obtaining protective orders, public education, research and training. They can be reached at 6555 0390.

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AWARE- the Association of Women for Action and Research- is “Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group” whose aim is to “remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.” They do this through research and advocacy, education and training and by providing direct support services. AWARE operates the Sexual Assault Care Center Monday through Friday from 10am-midnight, the Helpline for survivors of domestic violence Monday through Friday from 3pm-9:30pm at 1800-774-5935 and a Free Legal Clinic. They also have a ton of great information on their website, including safety planning, getting a restraining order and contact information for a number of other organizations in Singapore dedicated to ending violence against women and promoting gender equality.

With all these great resources available for survivors of abuse and domestic violence in Singapore hopefully soon their human rights record will be on par with their education and healthcare system. If anyone knows of organizations within Singapore that are working directly on the justice system there please share them in the comments! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining few days of #16DaysofActivism!


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