Nigeria Takes a Step Forward for Women and Girls


Just when you thought the War on Women couldn’t get any worse, and that you have heard of everything, in April of this year, there were Federal charges brought against a doctor in Detroit, Michigan, USA, who works in an emergency room.  She had been arrested and charged with performing Female Genital Mutilation on two 7-year-old little girls.

Women in the United States have been fighting to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation from the world since the early 1990’s.  It is a terrible practice, done to control women and girls.  It is what makes women marriageable in many cultures in Africa, some parts of Asia, and parts of the Middle East.

As people immigrate to America, they bring a lot of pieces of their culture with them.  America has always been enriched by the cultures of other nations, but this is not a piece of culture that is enriching.  It is a method of subjugating girls and women.  It is against Federal and State laws.

The countries of the world have begun to respond to the outcries against this horrible practice.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan fell from power in 2015.  This was due largely to the fact that he seemed to be unable to search for or find the almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls abducted and enslaved by the Boko Haram.  Jonathan did, however, sign a law banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  This law also makes it illegal for men to abandon their wives and children without financial support.

This is a huge advance for women’s rights in Nigeria.

The United Nations, in 2014, confirmed what has long been known — FGM causes psychological and physical damage, including: infertility, loss of sexual pleasure, severe infections, fistulas, endangered childbirth labor and death.  In 2017, it is estimated that nearly 25% of Nigerian women are enduring the effects of the procedure.

The British newspaper, The Guardian, joined the United Nations in an effort to fight FGM.  With the support of the UN Population Fund, the paper helped local journalists cover the after effects of the procedure.  The new law in Nigeria can partly be credited for playing a part in this fight.

There have been at least five decades of humanitarian work on this issue in regional African and Middle Eastern women’s movements.  Feminists and the global women’s movement have also worked to end the horror of FGM.

This practice has also been confronted by women’s rights activists in the global North, where it occurs in some immigrant communities.  Even in the United States, where the procedure is called clitoridectomy, it is practiced as a “cure” for masturbation, lesbianism and to make a young girl marriageable.

Activists in Nigeria warn FGM in Nigeria and other African countries is a systemic culturally ingrained practice, and that eradicating it will take time.

With such a large population, Nigerian’s voice in favor of women and girls is very important.  Mary Wandia, FGM program manager of the International NGO Equality Now, states “We hope that other African countries, that have yet to ban FGM – Liberia, Sudan, Mali, among others – do so immediately to give all girls a basic level of protection.”

Stella Mukasa, Director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, adds, in Christian Today, “It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women.  Doing so involves laws and policies, as well as community-level engagement and programs that work to empower girls directly.”

There is still much work yet to be done, but the new law is encouraging.  It gives young Nigerian women opportunities to express themselves free from fear of this traditional practice which has been so oppressive to their health and spirit.  This practice has been handed down from one generation to the next by mothers and is usually performed by a wise woman, or a wise man, in the tribes.  It is done without sterile conditions, anesthesia, or proper equipment.  Usually, a straight razor is used.  The child is unprepared emotionally for the procedure.

The actual procedure varies from place to place. Some tribes cut out the clitoris only; others remove both clitoris and labia.  Still others would have nothing left but the meatus so that the child can urinate.  This it the reason these girls were considered marriageable, because this has been performed on them, so that they didn’t enjoy sex too much.  It gave the husband a sense of security when he traveled, that he could leave the wife at home and she would not turn to another man for satisfaction.  He could therefore be sure that any children would be of his bloodline and no one else’s.

The mentality of the mothers who brought their daughters for the procedure is that it was done to them, so it should be done to their daughters.  Therefore, education is a vital part of the process of eradicating FGM, as is more sex education for both genders.  This can help lead to a freedom from the pain, humiliation, pain and degradation of FGM.

The decades of work done to stop FGM, and the work that is presently being done, which must continue into the future to save girls from this violence against them, is one of the most important humanitarian efforts being done on behalf of women and girls.

With its new law, Nigeria joined 23 African countries in banning Female Genital Mutilation.  At least 200 million women and girls, worldwide, have already suffered genital mutilation and its long term consequences.  Nigeria’s law is good next step, but we still have far to g0.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

Every one of us can make a difference in the world!

Women don’t need Protection from Trans Women in bathrooms — they need protection from their Partners


Protecting Women Starts at Home—Not in Public Bathrooms

 

 

To some this post might seem lightweight, however, it is not. To the transgender men and women it is serious and represents a basic human right. From my point of view, how does one check? How do the conservatives plan on enforcing this law?  No public official that I contacted last year had a clear direct answer. Of course not. They would have to do a physical examination on every man and/or women who walked into a public restroom.

 

The bill passed this year by our new Democratic governor, is a compromise bill and it does not completely erase the HB bill or as we call it the bathroom bill. There are a lot of good, honest, hard-working people who are still being discriminated against or face the prospect of future discrimination.

 

While this legislative issue is not my only concern for men and women and it is very important, there is another issue near and dear to my heart. It is of Domestic Violence. Yes DV. The crime that didn’t used to be a crime. It used to be a right of a husband. He could hit a woman with anything as long as it was no thicker than his thumb. Check out the male thumbs around you.

 

That is all changed in 2017. It took a lot of hart work by concerned women, community leaders, religious institutions, and feminists to work together to say, NO. No you can’t beat a woman

 

If you care about women, then pitch in and speak up for transgender women and abused women. If you really care, when a bill is proposed, read it carefully and vote your compassion heart. A woman is beaten, in America, every 11 seconds. Every 11 seconds a woman or girl feels a hand, fist, slap, push, kick, pinch, twist on their bodies. This is not love. This has never been love and it never will be love.

 

Legislation is being proposed to cut funding for DV programs across the country. Please vote against cuts. Woman’s and girl’s lives are at stake. If Bathroom bills are brought up for vote in your state or country, please vote against them. These people can not hurt you. They will not hurt you. However transgender women are beaten and/or killed simply because they exist. Let’s us stop all violence against women everywhere.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

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The Quiet but Worsening War on Women


Betty Freiden wrote the Feminine Mystic

Betty Freiden wrote the Feminine Mystic

Every day I hear another story about women and what is quietly happening to the rights we already have, after a great deal of work. I also hear about what is happening to prevent our legal equality. Congress did not pass the Violence Against Women Act. It is a law that must be renewed every five years. Congress just decided not to renew the law. This law protects women from Domestic Violence, slapping, punching, kicking, pushing, being burned, having a jaw broken and worse. A woman is battered every 11 seconds. Congress, those guys who love their constituents so much voted no.

Some of them may be batterers, some may have come from families where violence was common in the home. Some think women need to be controlled and punished when they don’t do what the man in their lives. Violence will increase against women. Sexism and misogyny worsen every day. The answer is to have laws to protect us. Men need to treat us as equal partners. We need Congress to pass the law to make us legally equal.

I suggest you write, email, call your congress people and the White House. I do it. More women and feminist men need to let these people know how we feel and that we won’t settle for being second class citizens. Raise your voice with pride. “We are women, hear us roar.”  –Helen Reddy

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Often abuse begins when a woman becomes pregnant.

Often the abuse begins when a woman becomes pregnant.