Tag Archives: Women

The Gambia bans female genital mutilation

President Yahya Jammeh outlaws practice that affects three-quarters of women in west African country

The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice.

The president, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the government would draft legislation to enforce it.

FGM involves cutting female genitalia often when girls are young to remove their labia and clitoris, which often leads to lifelong health complications, including bleeding, infections, vaginal pain and infertility. More than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure in Africa and the Middle East.

The practice is widespread in many African countries, including the Gambia, where 76% of females have been subjected to it. The age at which FGM takes place in the Gambia is not recorded, but it is reported that the trend of practicing FGM on infant girls is increasing. By the age of 14, 56% of female children in the country have had the procedure.

Highlights of the Guardians global media campaign to help end FGM

Jaha Dukureh, an anti-FGM activist whose campaign to end the practice in the country has been supported by the Guardian, spent the past week meeting cabinet ministers in the Gambia and sent them articles from the newspaper to inform them about the issue.

Im really amazed that the president did this. I didnt expect this in a million years. Im just really proud of my country and Im really, really happy, she told the Guardian. I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention.

Jammehs announcement came late last night, as the president was visiting his home village on Kanilai as part of a nationwide tour. The announcement was unexpected for both campaigners and public.

The amazing thing is its election season. This could cost the president the election. He put women and girls first, this could negatively affect him, but this shows he cares more about women than losing peoples votes, said Dukureh.

Dukureh will return to the Gambia on Tuesday to thank Jammeh for the ban and to help with drafting the legislation that will enforce it.

A ban on FGM would be a significant development on an issue that has proved controversial and divisive in the Gambia, with some arguing that FGM is permitted in Islam, the major religion in the country.

Senior Muslim clerics in the Gambia have previously denied the existence of FGM in the Gambia saying instead that was is practiced is female circumcision. In 2014, state house imam, Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty told Kibaaro News, I have never heard of anyone who died as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM)… If you know what FGM means, you know that we do not practice that here. We do not mutilate our children.

Jaha Dukureh: Im really amazed that the president did this. I didnt expect this in a million years. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

Mary Wandia, the FGM programme manager at womens rights campaign group Equality Now said: The ban is an essential first step towards ending FGM and we commend President Jammeh on finally announcing it.

A law must now be enacted and properly implemented to ensure that every girl at risk is properly protected. The government needs to show strong commitment and prioritise this issue in a country where three quarters of women have been affected and reductions in prevalence have been slow to materialise.

Though support for FGM is widespread in the Gambia, reports have shown that public support for the practice has dropped in recent decades among women across all age groups.

Support for the continuation of the practice is strongest among the countrys richest women and varies dramatically in different ethnic communities, with 84% of Mandinka women supporting the continuation of FGM compared with 12% of Wolof women.

This year FGM was banned in Nigeria, which joined 18 other African countries that have outlawed the practice, including Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa.

Somalia, which has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world, has indicated it would like to end the practice, with a spokeswoman for the ministry for womens affairs saying it was committed to make this happen despite significant resistance in the country. Currently, 98% of girls aged between four and 11 are subjected to FGM in Somalia.

The Guardian launched a major campaign to end FGM around the world in 2014, with the support of the campaign petition website, Change.org.

The Guardian Global Media campaign works closely with local activists in the Gambia, Kenya and Nigeria to help them provide education and awareness on the issue and hope to expand the campaign to Sierra Leone, Senegal and Uganda next year.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/24/the-gambia-bans-female-genital-mutilation

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If Men Breastfed

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I never would have thought to blog a commercial about breast pumps, or that something like that could be funny. But today is your lucky day, breast pump industry! “If Men Breastfed” by Naya Health is pretty entertaining and plays a lot with stereotypes (that mostly are totally true). Good thing I am a man – and doesn’t have to breastfeed!

“#IfMenBreastfed would we still be dealing with outdated breast pumps, closets that double as lactation rooms, and a work culture that treats pumping as an inconvenience?”

via: seitvertreib

Read more: https://www.viralviralvideos.com/2016/12/22/if-men-breastfed/

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8 Outdated, Horrid Rituals Women Are Still Subjected To All Over The World

Weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, communions…they’re all ritual practices we’ve grown accustomed to.

Rituals are created by societies to establish a sense of community and oneness.

But not every ritual ends with a party and a cake. Even in 2016, there are still some cultures that continue to enforce ancient ceremonial practices — often at the expense, belittlement, and abuse of women.

Here are some of the most bizarre and horrific rituals performed on women to this day.

1. Force-feeding

Women in Mauritania are expected to be full-figured, so young women are force-fed a diet of 16,000 calories a day before their wedding. Young girls are overfed as children in preparation for this. Naturally, the practice comes with countless health problems down the line and can even lead to death from burst stomachs.

2. Crying marriages

Getty Images

In Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, the Tujia people practice a strange Qing Dynasty custom called “Zuo Tang” that forces brides to cry every night before their wedding for a whole month. After 10 days of crying alone, her mother is supposed to join. Ten days after that, her grandmother. Soon, aunts, female cousins, and sisters join the cry-fest until the wedding day.

3. Female circumcision

Women in the Sabiny tribe in Uganda are forced to have part of if not their ENTIRE clitoris removed as a symbol of achieving womanhood. The process has a high chance of causing death by infection, but to Sabiny women, it’s all part of an elaborate test to prove their loyalty to their men.

4. Kidnapping

Certain sects of the Romani people — otherwise known as Gypsies and largely concentrated in Europe — believe that if a man kidnaps a woman he likes for three to five days, he has every right to marry her.

5. Teeth chiseling

The women of the Mentawai Islands in Sumatra have their teeth filed into points. This is said to make them more attractive to men. The local shaman bangs away at the teeth with a knife; later, they’re chiseled into something resembling shark teeth.

6. Beatings

In parts of Brazil, it’s customary to beat women in the streets as some kind of test for marriage. The woman is kidnapped and brought out naked into the town, where she is beaten by strangers until she passes out. This, of course, often leads to death.

7. Forced tattoos

Tattoos are cool…unless you’re forced to get one. That’s what goes on in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. When girls come of age, they’re expected to get either their stomachs, breasts, or backs tattooed in order to impress a mate.

8. Breast burning

There are cultures in Cameroon, Nigeria, and South Africa that press hot stones on young women’s breasts as a way to keep them from growing. Supposedly, the reasoning behind burning the flesh off the boob is so that the women don’t encourage men to rape them. This act is often commissioned by the girl’s parents.

While in most cases, these things only happen in extreme sects of certain cultures, the fact that the rituals are still performed is disgusting. What’s worse, if the women speak out about them, they are perceived as betraying their people.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/women-rituals/

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Hollywoods grim century of fat-shaming: from Greta Garbo to Chle Grace Moretz

The film industry has a long and unhealthy obsession with the weight of its female stars. The more who speak up like Moretz did this week the more chance there is of change

This week, 20-year-old actor Chle Grace Moretz said she had been body-shamed by a male actor on set when she was 15. He was her co-star at the time, in his 20s, cast in the role of her love interest, and he said he would never date her in real life, because she was too big. It was a comment that drove her to tears. Moretz is the latest in a string of Hollywood stars who are prepared to be more open about their experiences of sexism in the industry, from Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Watson. Like the late Carrie Fisher, who revealed she was asked to lose weight before appearing in the new Star Wars series, Moretz touches on something particularly troubling: the pressure on women on screen to maintain a body size that may be unrealistic or unhealthy.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Silent-film expert Pamela Hutchinson cites the example of Greta Garbo. Louis B Mayer hired her for MGM in 1925, when she was already a success in Europe, with the caveat that In America, we dont like fat women. Garbo ate nothing but spinach for three weeks and then dieted, rigorously, for the rest of her Hollywood career. There were even more extreme measures. An actor called Molly ODay had her excess weight cut away by a surgeon. In 1929, Photoplay magazine explicitly blamed the death of comic actor Katherine Grant on the Hal Roach studios demands for her to lose weight.

Carrie
Carrie Fisher, who said she was told to lose weight before appearing in the new Star Wars films. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP

The issue has persisted ever since. Emma Thompson recently said she threatened to quit the 2008 film Brideshead Revisited after a female co-star was asked to lose weight. I said to them, If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that. Troublingly, Thompson feels the problem is increasing. Its evil whats happening, she continued, and whats going on there, and its getting worse.

While male actors may be asked to lose weight for extreme roles such as Matthew McConaughey playing an Aids patient in Dallas Buyers Club women are routinely asked to slim down simply to play female leads. Ive heard of women on set being openly poked and prodded by male studio executives who discuss their unsuitable size and these actors are tiny in the first place. Jennifer Lawrence has spoken of being considered plus size or fat in Hollywood, while on Twitter, Amanda Seyfried said she had been considered overweight. X-Men: Apocalypse actor Sophie Turner also chimed in recently. There are often times when I have done jobs and theyve told me that I have to lose weight, even when it has nothing to do with the character, she told Porter magazine. It is so fucked up.

This infuriating pressure prompts the question: why? If this is about idealism and adulation, are audiences really asking for this? Actors such as Christina Hendricks and Sofia Vergara, who are curvier than the Hollywood average, have no shortage of admirers.

The feminist campaigner Laura Bates, who started her career as an actor, says this pressure is absolutely rife, both in and outside Hollywood. The pressures on Hollywood women lead to a screen ideal which then heaps more pressure on ordinary women and girls. That Moretz was just 15 when this happened, says Bates, also highlights how body-shaming can impact girls from an incredibly young age. We know that girls are just five when they first start to worry about their size and shape, and that a devastating one-quarter of seven-year-old girls has dieted to lose weight. They are also bombarded with airbrushed, unrealistic media and advertising images that repeatedly send them the message that their bodies are not good enough, that they will be judged by their looks, and that they must conform to a narrow, media-mandated notion of beauty.

Joan Smith, human rights campaigner and author of Misogynies, agrees. Making girls and women feel uncomfortable about their bodies is a way of attacking their confidence. It makes women defensive and inward-looking, and when you feel like that, you lose your sense of having a place in the world. It happens in Hollywood because the stakes money, fame are so high, but it goes far beyond that. At a time when we have a legal right to equality, its a way of restoring the old inequality women are permanently open to scrutiny. Its not always conscious but its nasty and effective.

Bates also points out the massive double standards in Hollywood, saying women are often more pressurised than men. Women who arent Hollywood thin are very rarely cast in mainstream thrillers, sci-fi or fantasy films, and in dramas they usually appear in character roles, often played by older actors. When bigger female characters are the lead in a film, their weight is never incidental, but rather a defining characteristic, such as the role played by Gabourey Sidibe in the 2009 film Precious. Meanwhile, male leads come in all shapes and sizes Jack Black, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill (now slimmed down) have all appeared frequently in a variety of leading roles, including drama as well as comedy, and stars such as John Travolta, Russell Crowe and Vince Vaughn have been allowed to change physically over the course of their careers.

Gabourey
Gabourey Sidibe, star of 2009 film Precious. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Comedy seems more welcoming of female actors such as Melissa McCarthy, though many of her lead roles have been in films made by her own production company, and others such as Rebel Wilson are usually relegated to the funny best friend role. Amy Schumer has something resembling an average body shape watching 2015s Trainwreck, I remember being startled to see someone who looked more like me and my friends on the big screen. I thought, perhaps, this signalled a cultural shift, but since then Ive mostly been reviewing romcoms with stick-thin heroines perhaps the kind that Moretzs cruel co-star was comparing her with. And sadly, his kind of body shaming isnt confined to Hollywood far from it.

Actor, comedian and writer Arabella Weir thinks Moretz should name and shame the man in question. The problems, as expressed by this particular guy, she says, are all his, not hers and her BMI. To allow comments about ones size to cause one pain is to validate them. Name, shame and circulate as widely as possible all comments of this nature and let their authors attempt to justify them theyre in the wrong, the subject never is. Until women refuse to be categorised by their size, and that includes naming the person, then well always be seen as participating somehow in the myth that thin equals good.

There is hope on the Hollywood horizon: the Sundance hit Patti Cake$ (out on 1 September) is a joyous celebration of a female rapper (Danielle Macdonald) that shows her character suffering from body shaming while she challenges expectations of what a performer should look like. While the story tackles the subject of her weight, its as much about her character and her career aspirations. Moretz herself is in an upcoming body-positive take on Snow White, although she spoke out after its poster seemed to body-shame her character. Also in animation, last years Disney teen Moana had a more realistic shape and this is in a genre previously well known for its preposterous female figures.

But animation is one thing, living, breathing actors another. Hollywood has the power to change things by showcasing a far greater diversity of womens body types, shapes and skin colours, rather than reinforcing suffocating stereotypes and impossible standards, says Bates. It has an opportunity to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Shes right. We need more female actors to speak out and for Hollywood to listen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/11/hollywoods-grim-century-of-fat-shaming-from-greta-garbo-to-chloe-grace-moretz

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The week in patriarchy: Trump clearly doesn’t understand health insurance

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If you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, nothing is going to change that. At least its Friday

If you want to be able to sleep this weekend, do yourself a favor and dont read the New York Times expansive interview with Donald Trump. The president makes little sense as he answers questions about everything from Russia to Jeff Sessions and healthcare and if you were already worried about whose hands the country is in, this piece will not put your mind at ease. For example, it seems pretty evident that the president of the United States has no idea how health insurance works.

I used to see interviews like this and be a bit pleased because the more coverage of Trumps stupidity the better. But if you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, theres no interview or expose thats going to change that. So join me this week in a good old fashion wallow: things are bad, the president is bad. At least its Friday.

Glass half full

Scotland just became the first nation to offer free sanitary products to low-income women. Access to tampons and pads arent just a hygiene issue but a health and rights issue. At least one country is getting it right.

What Im RTing

Amir Talai (@AmirTalai)

I read this brilliance on race and couldnt help thinking the world could really use Fran Lebowitz blogging or tweeting or something. pic.twitter.com/KLTHaZa6op

July 18, 2017

Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)

Most of the interesting women you know are far, far angrier than you’d imagine.

July 18, 2017

Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman)

Home care workers care for families, and sometimes deal with abuse, sexual assault, and only get paid $10 an hour. https://t.co/P6oream4xT pic.twitter.com/TNzJJn1HwK

July 20, 2017

Planned Parenthood (@PPact)

.@ppfa & @ReproRights are suing Texas over its latest abortion ban. Politicians make bad doctorshttps://t.co/zRfjG51i5t #WeWontGoBack pic.twitter.com/wmksAUMYmm

July 20, 2017

Who Im reading

Soraya Nadia Mcdonald on R Kelly and the truth behind why he hasnt been held accountable for his abuse we just dont care about black women; Daniel Kibblesmith with a humourous but way too real take on the expectation that Hillary Clinton disappear from public life; and ProPublicas incredible investigation into maternal deaths in the United States.

What Im watching

How Fox News is trying to normalize collusion. Oh good.

How outraged I am

I was already at a ni ne out of 10 over Betsy Devos listening to anti-women rape deniers, and this first person account at Vox from a sexual assault survivor put me at a full 10.

How Im making it through this week

A golden retriever in Long Island rescued a baby deer from drowning and Ive watched it at least 15 times.

Sign up for Jessica Valentis weekly newsletter on feminism and sexism

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/21/the-week-in-patriarchy-trump-clearly-doesnt-understand-health-insurance

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A study about how endometriosis affects men’s sex lives? That’s enraging | Imogen Dunlevie

Endometriosis affects 176 million women but there is no cure, no known cause and treatment is limited. There is no case for a study about its impact on men

Endometriosis is a disease that affects one in 10 women of reproductive age. It affects approximately 600,000 women in Australia and 176 million women worldwide. Yet endometriosis receives very little funding and attention from the medical world. In fact, many people have never even heard of it despite it being so common.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 15 years old. This only happened after I spent two years trying to convince doctors it wasnt normal that I had pain so bad during my period that I couldnt walk. (And my diagnosis was relatively quick the average time taken for diagnosis is eight to 10 years.) Since then, my life has been filled with surgery, doctors, medication, invasive procedures and constant pain that impacts everything I do. It took me longer to finish school because of endometriosis. I deferred university last year because I needed surgery. I cant do jobs that require me to stand for long periods of time. I often have to cancel plans because Im in so much pain.

A big part of the struggle with endometriosis is how little is understood about it. I see good doctors who care and want to help, but there is only so much that can be done when the funding and focus is not there. Researchers still do not know what causes the disease and there is no cure. Treatments are variable in their effectiveness.

On Tuesday, I was alerted to the fact that the University of Sydney has recently approved research into how mens sex lives are impacted by being in a relationship with someone who has endometriosis. This study is being conducted by masters student who wishes to explore the impact of endometriosis on mens sexual wellbeing.

Considering the tiny amount of attention and funding endometriosis gets, its enraging to see someone conducting a study into how this disease impacts men. Womens sex lives are far more impacted by endometriosis than mens are, and if any study on this area is being conducted it should look at how women and their sex lives are impacted. Endometriosis does not hurt a mans sexual wellbeing. It does however impact every aspect of your life when you suffer from it. It can mean that sex is often painful and unpleasant, penetration can cause bleeding and pain remains for days afterwards.

Studies like this one make it look like the only way endometriosis will get attention is if we highlight how it hurts men. Its not enough for women to share their countless stories of pain and suffering. How it limits their ability to finish study, work full time or even have sex. Its not enough to describe the surgeries, and the medications, the invasive procedures that provide little to no relief. The only way we can get people to care is to tell them that men are impacted too.

There are so many other things that should be looked at regarding endometriosis before we look at how it impacts sex for men: a less invasive way to diagnose, understanding the ways it impacts the everyday life of people who have it, proper pain management, raising awareness so women arent accused of lying, a cure.

Women have to fight to be believed that there is even something wrong. Then when they are finally diagnosed they have to fight for better treatment and pain medication just so they can live with some normality in their life. Doctors treat you like youre making it up or youre exaggerating.

Some doctors dont even know what endometriosis is. I once spent a night in the emergency room in so much pain I could not walk, and the doctor informed me that he had to google endometriosis because he wasnt totally sure what it is.

These are the things women have to put up with when they have endometriosis. These are the ways that women suffer because of endometriosis. So much of having this disease is trying to get some attention on it, and trying to get people to research it. In the past year, there has been more coverage of it in the news, but to see a study about how it impacts men, particularly their sex life, feels like one step forwards and two steps back.

This is not about attacking the researcher I contacted her to try to understand her reasons but she had not responded at the time of publication. Endometriosis affects about the same number of women as diabetes and costs about the same but receives 5% of the funding of diabetes. Theres no cure, no known cause and not even a reliable treatment. This is about frustration of how endometriosis is treated at the moment. This study fits into a wider context where womens pain is not always acknowledged.

It is damaging to set a potential precedent of male-centric studies into the impacts of endometriosis. There is no logical way that any discussion about endometriosis should focus on how it impacts men, or the partners of people who actually have it. We can barely get a conversation about endometriosis going in the first place. We should not start a conversation about endometriosis to see how men feel about it, particularly not to see how it impacts their sex life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/31/a-study-about-how-endometriosis-affects-mens-sex-lives-thats-enraging

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Cheap, widely available drug could stop thousands of mothers bleeding to death

Tranexamic acid could save the lives of a third of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, which kills 100,000 a year

A cheap and widely available drug could save the lives of thousands of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, one of the main killers of women worldwide.

The drug, tranexamic acid, is available over the counter in the UK to women suffering from heavy periods. In Japan and the far east, it is used as a skin whitener. But now a very large study of 20,000 women in 21 countries has shown it can stop a third of cases of bleeding to death after giving birth.

Haemorrhage after childbirth kills 100,000 women a year, mostly in low and middle-income countries. It is not only the women dying it is the impact on the child that has to grow up without a mother, children who might already be in the family and the husband, said associate professor Haleema Shakur from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the trial.

This is of absolutely huge importance. While a single mother is dying, we need to keep fighting for them.

The drug has already been proven to cut the death toll from bleeding after accidents in a trial of similar size. The latest trial, published in the Lancet medical journal, recruited more than 20,000 women who either gave birth in one of 193 hospitals involved or managed to get there after starting to bleed. They were randomly assigned either tranexamic acid or a placebo.

The researchers found that tranexamic acid was most effective when it was given soon after the bleeding began. The trial was originally intended also to find out whether the drug saved women from having to undergo a hysterectomy the removal of the womb. But the scientists discovered that in many countries, where anaemia is common and blood supplies are limited, surgeons operated immediately as the surest way to save the womans life.

If all women who haemorrhage after childbirth were given the drug, the trial suggests that 30,000 lives could be saved a year. In practice, that will be more difficult. Tranexamic acid was given in an intravenous injection in the hospitals, as the quickest way to have an effect. Many women give birth at home and may not get to a hospital in time.

It is available in the form of a tablet for heavy periods, but absorption may take too long, said Shakur. They are now working on new ways to get it rapidly into womens systems perhaps as an injection in the arm muscle or as a capsule under the tongue. It is also possible that women deemed to be at high risk of haemorrhage could be given a tablet before they give birth. The trials have shown no side-effects, making the drug very safe.

Of the two-thirds of women who died in spite of being given the drug, Shakur said some arrived at hospital too late, while others had underlying illness including severe malaria and anaemia which may have been the cause of death.

It has taken a long time to show that the drug does work in the context it was designed for. Professor Ian Roberts from the London School, who co-led the study, said: The researchers who invented tranexamic acid more than 50 years ago hoped it would reduce deaths from postpartum haemorrhage, but they couldnt persuade obstetricians at the time to conduct a trial. Now we finally have these results that we hope can help save womens lives around the world.

There are many next steps, said Shakur. We have to make sure tranexamic acid is available wherever a woman gives birth and is at risk, she said. We must make sure doctors and midwives are aware of the results of the study. And we need health ministers to make sure that the drug is available in their country and is on their shopping list of essential medicines.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/26/cheap-widely-available-drug-could-stop-thousands-of-mothers-bleeding-to-death-tranexamic-acid

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