(Source: Washington Post)
Indian feminists/activists respond to Harvard kids attempting to help the less fortunate ‘third world’ feminists
February 25, 2013
Globally, from the U.S. to the developing world, rape and other forms of violence against women remain at shockingly high levels. Focusing on the horrifying case of a 23-year-old Indian student who was gang-raped and beaten to death in Delhi in December, the Harvard College Women’s Center announced it would create a Beyond Gender Equality task force, “convened to offer recommendations to India and other South Asian countries in the wake of the New Delhi gang rape and murder.”
The group ignored the long history of Indian activists themselves fighting to end rape and sexual violence—including recent mass protests of South Asian women and men calling for a systemic fight against rape. And the Harvardites had nothing to say about the ample evidence of the problem of rape in the U.S.—from the sickening gang rape and subsequent cover-up at Steubenville High School in Ohio, to the systematic downplaying of rape and sexual assault at Amherst College and other universities.
In response to this “white (wo)man’s burden” take on the issue of sexual violence in South Asia, a group Indian feminists wrote the following response, first published at Kafila.org, detailing their own years of work fighting to end rape and gain justice sexual assault victims.
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Dear sisters (and brothers?) at Harvard,
WE’RE A group of Indian feminists and we are delighted to learn that the Harvard community—without doubt one of the most learned in the world—has seen fit to set up a policy task force entitled “Beyond Gender Equality” and that you are preparing to offer recommendations to India (and other South Asian countries) in the wake of the New Delhi gang rape and murder.
Not since the days of Katherine Mayo have American women—and American feminists—felt such a concern for their less privileged Third World sisters. Mayo’s concern, at that time, was to ensure that the Indian state (then the colonial state) did not leave Indian women in the lurch, at the mercy of their men, and that it retained power and the rule of the just.
Yours, we see, is to work towards ensuring that steps are put in place that can help the Indian state in its implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, a responsibility the Indian state must take up.
This is clearly something that we, Indian feminists and activists who have been involved in the women’s movement here for several decades, are incapable of doing, and it was with a sense of overwhelming relief that we read of your intention to step into this breach.
You might be pleased to know that one of us, a lawyer who led the initiative to put pressure on the Justice Verma Committee to have a public hearing with women’s groups, even said in relief, when she heard of your plans, that she would now go on holiday and take a plane ride to see the Everest.
Indeed, we are all relieved, for now we know that our efforts will not have been in vain: the oral evidence provided by 82 activists and organizations to the Justice Verma Committee—and which we believe substantially contributed to the framing of their report—will now be in safe American hands!
Perhaps you are aware that the Indian state has put in place an “Ordinance on Sexual Assault” that ignores many recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee? If not, we would be pleased to furnish you a copy of the Ordinance, as well as a chart prepared by us, which details which recommendations have been accepted and which not.
This may be useful in your efforts to advise our government. One of the greatest things about sisterhood is that it is so global—feminism has built such strong international connections, such that whenever our First World sisters see that we are incapable of dealing with problems in our countries, they immediately step in to help us out and provide us with much needed guidance and support. We are truly grateful for this.
Perhaps you will allow us to repay the favor, and next time President Obama wants to put in place legislation to do with abortion or the Equal Rights Amendment, we can step in and help, and, from our small bit of experience in these fields, recommend what the United States can do.
Source (with signatures)
By Jeanne Theoharis
Professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
February 4, 2013
(from The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis)
1. Parks had been thrown off the bus a decade earlier by the same bus driver — for refusing to pay in the front and go around to the back to board. She had avoided that driver’s bus for twelve years because she knew well the risks of angering drivers, all of whom were white and carried guns. Her own mother had been threatened with physical violence by a bus driver, in front of Parks who was a child at the time. Parks’ neighbor had been killed for his bus stand, and teenage protester Claudette Colvin, among others, had recently been badly manhandled by the police.
2. Parks was a lifelong believer in self-defense. Malcolm X was her personal hero. Her family kept a gun in the house, including during the boycott, because of the daily terror of white violence. As a child, when pushed by a white boy, she pushed back. His mother threatened to kill her, but Parks stood her ground. Another time, she held a brick up to a white bully, daring him to follow through on his threat to hit her. He went away. When the Klu Klux Klan went on rampages through her childhood town, Pine Level, Ala., her grandfather would sit on the porch all night with his rifle. Rosa stayed awake some nights, keeping vigil with him.
3. Her husband was her political partner. Parks said Raymond was “the first real activist I ever met.” Initially she wasn’t romantically interested because Raymond was more light-skinned than she preferred, but she became impressed with his boldness and “that he refused to be intimidated by white people.” When they met he was working to free the nine Scottsboro boys and she joined these efforts after they were married. At Raymond’s urging, Parks, who had to drop out in the eleventh grade to care for her sick grandmother, returned to high school and got her diploma. Raymond’s input was crucial to Parks’ political development and their partnership sustained her political work over many decades.
4. Many of Parks’ ancestors were Indians. She noted this to a friend who was surprised when in private Parks removed her hairpins and revealed thick braids of wavy hair that fell below her waist. Her husband, she said, liked her hair long and she kept it that way for many years after his death, although she never wore it down in public. Aware of the racial politics of hair and appearance, she tucked it away in a series of braids and buns — maintaining a clear division between her public presentation and private person.
5. Parks’ arrest had grave consequences for her family’s health and economic well-being. After her arrest, Parks was continually threatened, such that her mother talked for hours on the phone to keep the line busy from constant death threats. Parks and her husband lost their jobs after her stand and didn’t find full employment for nearly ten years. Even as she made fundraising appearances across the country, Parks and her family were at times nearly destitute. She developed painful stomach ulcers and a heart condition, and suffered from chronic insomnia. Raymond, unnerved by the relentless harassment and death threats, began drinking heavily and suffered two nervous breakdowns. The black press, culminating in JET magazine’s July 1960 story on “the bus boycott’s forgotten woman,” exposed the depth of Parks’ financial need, leading civil rights groups to finally provide some assistance.
6. Parks spent more than half of her life in the North. The Parks family had to leave Montgomery eight months after the boycott ended. She lived for most of that time in Detroit in the heart of the ghetto, just a mile from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit riot. There, she spent nearly five decades organizing and protesting racial inequality in “the promised land that wasn’t.”
7. In 1965 Parks got her first paid political position, after over two decades of political work. After volunteering for Congressman John Conyers’s long shot political campaign,
Parks helped secure his primary victory by convincing Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Detroit on Conyers’s behalf. He later hired her to work with constituents as an administrative assistant in his Detroit office. For the first time since her bus stand, Parks finally had a salary, access to health insurance, and a pension — and the restoration of dignity that a formal paid position allowed.
8. Parks was far more radical than has been understood. She worked alongside the Black Power movement, particularly around issues such as reparations, black history, anti-police brutality, freedom for black political prisoners, independent black political power, and economic justice. She attended the Black Political Convention in Gary and the Black Power conference in Philadelphia. She journeyed to Lowndes County, Alabama to support the movement there, spoke at the Poor People’s Campaign, helped organize support committees on behalf of black political prisoners such as the Wilmington 10 and Imari Obadele of the Republic of New Africa, and paid a visit of support to the Black Panther school in Oakland, CA.
9. Parks was an internationalist. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War in the early 1960s, a member of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and a supporter of the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in D.C. In the 1980s, she protested apartheid and U.S. complicity, joining a picket outside the South African embassy and opposed U.S. policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joined other activists in a letter calling on the United States to work with the international community and no retaliation or war.
10. Parks was a lifelong activist and a hero to many, including Nelson Mandela. After his release from prison, he told her, “You sustained me while I was in prison all those years.”
Copyright © 2013 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
[Photo: Rosa Parks with Martin Luther King, Jr., circa 1955.]
By Agence France-Presse
January 22, 2013
PARIS, Jan 21, 2013 (AFP) – An associate of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris has been charged with their murder, a French prosecutor announced following an indictment hearing on Monday.
The 30-year-old man was one of two ethnic Kurds detained last week by a specialist anti-terrorist unit in connection with the January 9 slayings.
He has been charged with carrying out the murders as part of a terrorist group and conspiracy to commit murder as part of a terrorist group.
“We believe he is is likely to have been the killer or one of the killers,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference.
The other man detained last week was earlier freed without charge.
The suspect accused of the murder was an occasional driver for one of the victims, according to police sources.
The three women, one of them 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were found dead on the morning of January 10 at a Kurdish centre in the French capital.
They had all been repeatedly shot in the head.
The killings came against a background of tentative peace talks between Turkey and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan aimed at ending three decades of conflict which have claimed 45,000 lives.
Turkey has suggested the murders could be the result of an internal feud within the PKK between opponents and supporters of the negotiations with Turkey.
Kurdish groups suspect Turkish extremists with links to the security services were behind the Paris slaying, which they say is part of a pattern of recent attacks on Kurdish activists.
French police are examining the possibility of the killings having been linked to extortion rackets used to raise funds for the PKK from the large expatriate communities in western Europe.
Turkey and its Western allies regard the PKK as a terrorist organisation while the outlawed movement defends its armed rebellion as a legitimate struggle for self-determination.
Copyright © 2013 Agence France-Presse.
[Photograph: The portraits of late Kurdish activists Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez are on display at the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Paris on January 11, 2013 in Paris, a day after they were found shot dead. (© AFP PHOTO/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)]
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
— Malcolm X