Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Apparently Misinterpreted

LGBTQ balloonsLately, a lot of media attention has surrounded the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sotji, Russia, where concerns have been raised over the new anti-gay laws recently passed by President Vladimir Putin. These laws make it illegal to distribute gay/bisexual propaganda and information to minors, making the “crime” punishable with a jail sentence.

Apparently, Putin’s laws are being backed by Alexey Sorokin, who is in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, also taking place in Russia. Sorokin meant that the laws are being misinterpreted and that they are intended to protect minors against gay/bisexual propaganda (whatever that is) and thus are not meant to discriminate against gay people and are not therefore really against homosexuality. But, the laws are going to be implemented simply if a person carries the LGBTQ flag or displays a non-traditional relationship with a same-sex person which then means that they will discriminate against gay people since they will not have the same rights as their straight peers do. This is called discrimination. Sorokin, however, defended the new laws by stating that people do not want a World Cup where people run around naked (like gay people usually do?) and market their homosexuality.

How can someone be against the displays of homosexuality but not homosexuality? The very act of being gay or straight (or other identities/preferences) means that you are displaying an identity and often a sexual preference. The laws basically mean that you can be gay if you never “live it”. You cannot be gay outdoors or wear the flag, especially so not around minors, which are basically everywhere. The laws mean that you can basically never have a social life together with a partner and that you can only hold hands or share intimacy at home. If there is not a minor around that is. If there is a minor around, the laws suddenly make it illegal to be gay in your own house around minors, like your  children, since the very act of kissing or holding hands would be enough to prove that you are not in a traditional relationship (I am guessing that a traditional relationship means marriage between a woman and man). How absolutely ridicilous. As if the laws are not bad enough, the pathetic attempts to defend them by stating that discriminatory laws are not intended to discriminate is laughable.

Women, You Are Your Looks

Right now the Euro 2013 Games are underway, and women’s soccer is receiving loads of attention. The Swedish soccer team has already played a few games, and a sexist backlash of homophobic comments immediately followed the first match, where Sweden and Denmark tied.

According to The Local, post-match comments on Twitter focused not on the Swedish players’ competence, but rather on their attractiveness. Some comments included, “Women’s football is small breasts, lesbians and short hair” and “Swedish women’s football… lesbian whores is what you are.” Swedish handball coach Andreas Stockenberg also weighed in, writing that “When the Swedish squad in women’s football has dinner with their partners there are 40 women and 4 guys” and that “they can hardly trap a sandbag.” Stockenberg defended his comments by saying that the team received “far too much undeserved media attention.” [Read more...]

Sterilized Swedish Trans People Will Not Receive A Government Apology

We’ve previously discussed how trans people in Sweden were forced to undergo sterilization procedures before being allowed to transition, as well as a new law in which this discriminatory regulation was removed. In June, the  Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) and many of the trans women and men who were sterilized sued the government for compensation.

The Local recently published an article about the controversy.  The trans community has asked the Swedish prime minister to apologize on behalf of all the women and men who were sterilized; according to Aleksa Lundberg, an actress and trans woman, the prime minister’s response has been that “the government can’t apologize every time a group wants an apology.” It is terrible that the prime minister will not apologize to the men and women who were treated so poorly  and robbed of a future involving biological children. He is not acknowledging the treatment these women and men faced, and is not treating their suffering as anything significant. [Read more...]

Court Claims Victim Of Sexual Assault Could Have Just Been Shy

An article in one of our local papers discussed the assumptions and beliefs of the Swedish legal system as three men were acquitted of rape charges. Two men sexually took advantage of a young woman while a third held a camera, filming the assault, which took place at a party. The assault also involved the attackers using a wine bottle. As if this was not degrading and horrifying enough, acquittal in the case did not pertain to lack of evidence as much as flimsy and stereotypical assumptions about women’s intent and consent. The court stated that: “The men could have mistaken the woman’s attempts to keep her legs together as simply a sign of her being shy or initially hesitant.” The court also stated that: “People involved in sexual activities together sometimes act spontaneously and without asking the other person involved for consent.”

The three men were freed from charges even though the court claimed the woman’s testimony to have been believable, logical, consistent, detailed and more probable than the stories given by the men during their testimonies. Despite this, the court believed that the men were unaware of the fact that the woman did not express consent.  [Read more...]

Guttmacher: Abortion Worldwide

This week, thousands of women’s health and empowerment advocates are in Kuala Lumpur for the Women Deliver 2013 conference. The conference, hailed as the largest global event of its kind this decade, is bringing together policy makers, advocates and researchers alike who are committed to reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to reproductive health.  The Guttmacher Institute’s staff and research are among those featured throughout the conference, including a short video presenting key evidence on abortion worldwide:

This video packs a punch with some very compelling statistics: [Read more...]

Laws and lawmakers that do not help women

Content Notice: This piece discusses sexual assault and violence.

The past weeks news and headlines has us tired and upset. We have been constantly reading about Swedish lawmakers disappointing responses to the suffering and harms of women. Sweden often prides itself in being one of the top countries in the world when it comes to equality between men and women. Still, lawmakers seem to be doing very little to protect women and their rights. Last week we blogged about a story reporting on a man who forcefully inserted two fingers into his girlfriend to check for evidence of her cheating, but was not sentenced for rape. According to the court, the crime was not “sexual enough” to be considered rape.

This week is however not proving much better. Just the other day we read an article in our local newspaper that discussed the murder of a woman by her former boyfriend. The woman and man had previously been in a relationship in which he physically abused her and she reported the abuse to the police. The woman thereafter filed for a restraining order since she was afraid that the man would contact, visit, or abuse her further. However, she was never granted a restraining order and only a few months after the request, he took her life by shooting her in the face and back.  [Read more...]

“Keep Calm and Rape a Lot”

Content Notice: This piece discusses rape culture, sexual assault and violence.

Rape culture is something that we have discussed at length here at Feminists For Choice. Rape culture normalizes and trivializes rape and sexual abuse. Still, there are some people who believe that rape culture does not exist and is a concept made up by angry man hating feminists. We believe that rape culture does exist in many forms and is perpetuated by a culture in which rape is not taken seriously.

So to the critics, read the following and state if rape culture is all in our heads:

Amazon has over the last few days removed t-shirts from the company Solid Gold Bomb, launched in Australia, with slogans that read: “Keep calm and hit her”, “Keep calm and rape a lot” and “Keep calm and rape them” that were on sale on the company’s website. Other t-shirts by Solid Gold Bomb also read: “Keep calm and knife her”, “”Keep calm and choke her” and “Keep calm and grope on”.

Amazon received hundreds of angry complaints about the t-shirts and the message that these t-shirts encourage. Many people are also very upset that Amazon has been making money out of encouraging and trivializing rape, sexual assault and violence against women. Suggestions have been made that Amazon should donate a substantial amount of money to women’s shelters and organizations that work to end violence against women.

There is hardly any better example than this to show how accepted rape culture is. Here we have a giant worldwide company selling t-shirts that perpetuate the notion that violence and sexual violence against women is acceptable. In short, we find it sickening.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation is a Global Issue

In many ways, we would like to think that the days of indentured servants and slavery are a thing of the past. But human trafficking–the selling and buying of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor–is a widespread practice, and it takes various forms. The most common types we usually think of include trafficking, prostitution, and pornography. But we can also include child labor, the buying and selling of organs and tissue, forced marriages, forced pregnancies, mail-order brides, dowry and bride price, human smuggling, and kidnapping, among others.

The buying and selling of humans for various reasons has been, and continues to be, big business all over the world. And this is steadily increasing, though as the United Nations reports, there are regional differences in the types of exploitation: “Countries in Africa and in Asia generally intercept more cases of trafficking for forced labour, while sexual exploitation is somewhat more frequently found in Europe and in the Americas.” The report also states that “[t]rafficking victims from East Asia have been detected in more than 60 countries, making them the most geographically dispersed group around the world.” In Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, Richard Burger writes that human trafficking and kidnapping in China is “… more lucurative than even the trafficking of drugs or weapons.” Droves of European men, especially Scandinavians, travel to Thailand to buy sex even though prostitution is illegal–officials often look the other way because of tourism profit–or search for wives. At the same time, the trafficking rates for young girls and boys is increasing: “Girls now constitute 15 to 20 per cent of the total number of all detected victims, including adults, whereas boys comprise about 10 per cent,” according to the UN report.

Human tracking laws have been established in many countries to protect the victims and punish the offenders, but these can be difficult to implement. The forms of human trafficking vary, but they are spurred by the same objective: monetary profit combined with a complete lack of human rights and value.

The Path to Choice: Abortion in France

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wadedecision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

The right to choose and perform abortion in France dates from 1975, thanks to the Veil Act (named for the Minister of Health Simone Veil, who proposed and defended the law). Before that, the 1920 Act forbade any incitement to contraceptive and abortion, which was considered a crime. Under the Vichy regime during the World War II, abortion was a crime against state security and punishable by the death penalty—in 1943, for example, Madame Marie-Louise Giraud, who practiced abortions to provide for her family during German occupation, was guillotined. During the early 1970s, the country saw an increase in activism in favor of the right to choose abortion; the 1972 Bobigny Case, in which a teen rape victim risked her life to obtain an illegal abortion, caused a groundswell of opinion that led to the Veil Act.

[Read more...]

Sexual Assault Laws That Discriminate Against Women

Every now and then we read or hear about outrageous laws dedicated to protect patriarchy, defend rape culture, restrict women’s sexuality, or that are just plain discriminatory. We have three examples of such outrageous laws and proposals. One has been overturned (Italy’s rape law); one is being considered (Indonesia’s motorcycle law); and one continues to be both discriminatory and horribly sexist (Iran’s rape law).

The province of Aceh in Indonesia is proposing that women riding behind a man on a motorcycle should no longer be allowed to straddle the bike, since this might “provoke the driver.” A woman riding on her own may straddle the bike, but only if she is wearing proper attire. Not only is the law absurd in its own and reminiscent of the days when women had to ride “sidesaddle” on horses, but it also seems that “side saddling” a motorcycle could be a great safety hazard. The proposal also infers that in order for men to not to get “excited” and act on that excitement, women need to control their sexuality, while men are assumed to not be able to–or need to–control theirs.  [Read more...]