Her Side of the Story
Week of April 10, 2016
A basic overview of current events this week involving women’s and gender issues in a social justice context.
- Please click on the titles for hyperlinks to articles.
- *** Starred stories contain disturbing content relating to sexual assault and violence.
- Please contact Gracie email@example.com with any feedback or ideas for next week’s stories!
For weeks, women’s activists have protested being prohibited from the Shani Singhnapur temple in the Maharashtra state of India. The shrine is one of just a few temples in India that preserves the tradition of denying women entry. Although a Bombay court ruled that women have “a fundamental right to enter temples” and “those trying to prevent them would be handed a six-month jail term,” some in the temple have continued barring female worshippers. Authorities have stated that they will begin to allow women inside, although last year priests carried out a cleansing ritual to purify the space after a woman was accidentally granted access.
In the 1990s, then-president Alberto Fujimori instituted a birth control campaign. Three hundred thousand women were sterilized, and 2,000 of them, mostly rural, under-educated campesinas, have since come forward saying the sterilizations were forced or coerced. Now that Alberto Fujimori’s daughter Keiko Fujimori has launched a bid for the presidency, feminist groups have taken to the streets with blood-red paint smeared on their inner thighs shouting “we are the daughters of the campesinas who you couldn’t sterilize.” Keiko Fujimori has minimized the issue, saying that as few as 300 women were forcibly sterilized.
Theresa Kachindamoto, a former college secretary in Southern Malawi, is the newest chief of 100,000 people in her home Dezda district. Horrified by seeing twelve-year-olds with babies and husbands, the mother of five’s first imperative has been ending child marriages. Many families, especially in small villages like Chimoya where Kachindamoto has faced resistance, marry off their daughters for financial reasons and send girls as young as seven to camps where they learn how to perform sex acts. Although some say that Kachindamoto has no right to overturn tradition and have even threatened her, she has fired male chiefs complicit in child marriage and helped pass a law to ban early marriage. A 2012 United Nations report found that more than half of Malawi’s girls are married before the age of 18. Health risks for women married off early include premature Cesarian section, HIV, and lifelong psychological trauma.
Last month, Governor Mike Pence signed a law banning abortion motivated by fetal abnormalities, requiring that women seeking abortions view an ultrasound, and mandating that fetal remains be cremated or buried by a licensed facility. One feminist activist was so offended by what she sees as Governor Pence’s overreach into her private medical decisions that she started a Facebook page called “Periods for Pence.” The page invites women to call Pence to discuss their periods, saying “let’s make our bodies Mike’s business for real, if this is how he wants it.” Other women have called trying to schedule gynecologist appointments and ask questions about tampons. Pence’s office has not commented on the campaign.
On Tuesday, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Law.” The bill allows businesses to refuse service for the “celebration or recognition of any marriage, based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” The bill details scenarios under its jurisdiction — for example, a baker could deny service to a gay couple seeking a wedding cake. Bryant denies that the bill will cause discrimination against LGBTQ people aside from marriage-related services. The law also states that sexual relations “are properly reserved” for marriages between “one man and one woman,” allowing employers to fire employees for violating this belief by cohabitating before marriage, being gay, or dressing or grooming in a way contrary to gendered codes. Additionally, adoption agencies are now legally allowed to ban unmarried or LGBTQ foster parents. It also defines gender as being biological and defined by the sex listed on an individual’s birth certificate, allowing employers to fire transgender people for being transgender. Despite widespread opposition from business leaders, industry giants like Nissan, and Mississippi celebrities like Robin Roberts, Bryant defended the bill by saying it prevents “the government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs.” In other Mississippi news this week, an interracial couple were evicted because the landlord thought the marriage was a problem.
If you are a Sewanee student interested in fighting this bill, please contact Gracie Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.