Her Side of the Story

Week of October 2

A basic overview of current events this week involving women’s and gender issues in a social justice context.

  • Please click on hyperlinked titles for original articles. Each blurb is a paraphrased summary of the hyperlinked article.
  • *** Starred stories contain disturbing content relating to sexual assault and violence.
  • Please contact Gracie at gibsogd0@sewanee.edu with any feedback or ideas for next week’s stories!

***Egyptian Prime Minister Proposes Virginity Tests for Female Students

A month after declaring that female genital mutilation is necessary to curb desire, Egyptian lawmaker Elhamy Agina stated, “Any girl who enters university, we have to check her medical examination to prove that she is a Miss.” Agina says this measure will reduce the prevalence of Urfi marriages, or unofficial religious partnerships that do not require the costs or pressures of a legal wedding. Virginity tests are widely considered a form of sexual abuse and rely on misconceptions about female anatomy.

Tajik Women Pursue Outdoor Guide Jobs

Although the majority of families in Tajikistan rely on money sent by family members working in Russia, the country is investing in eco-tourism infrastructure as a possible boost for the economy. A French development worker is teaching Tajik women outdoor skills to prepare them for careers as guides in the Pamir Mountains, even though the mountains are largely considered men’s territory. Tajik women are usually afforded more freedoms than their counterparts in neighboring Afghanistan, but still subscribe to some traditional Islamic gender roles.

Miss and Mr. HIV Positive Pageant in Uganda

Image from Jacquelyne Alesi/Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV&AIDS, via NPR.

This past weekend, more than 150 HIV positive men and women competed in the Y+ beauty pageant in Kampala, Uganda. Although participants wore typical pageant garb and strutted for judges, contestants were said to be judged for inner beauty. In a country where one out of every 14 people is HIV positive and infected people often face discrimination, AIDS activists say the pageant reduces stigma and provides ambassadors for addressing the health issue and educating the public.

Thai Women Protest Road Conditions by Bathing in Potholes

Image from BBC
Image from BBC

A Bangkok-based model decided to protest the poor condition of roads by sitting in one of the puddles and taking a bath. Her demonstration has inspired women across the country to follow suit. Protesters complain that roads haven’t been repaired in 30 years, but local agencies have now promised to begin repairs after the rainy season.

***Indian Comic Book Hero Fights Acid Attacks

Artwork by Dan Goldman. Image from BBC.

A new comic book called Priya’s Mirror is calling attention to acid attacks in India and around the world. Created two years ago and inspired by Hindu stories, the series’ main character is a gang rape survivor who confronts her attackers and liberates acid attack victims with the help of her tiger, Sahas. In India, acid is commonly used against women in misogynistic attacks and is relatively easy to find and cheap to purchase. The series targets teenage boys in order to spark discussion about partriarchal gender roles.

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