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...]

Moroccan “Marriage After Rape” Law Might Finally be Overturned

Content notice: This piece discusses rape and sexual abuse.

Last year, a 16-year old Moroccan girl committed suicide after a judge ordered her to marry the man who had raped her (previously mentioned on Feminists For Choice). This practice is fairly common in parts of Morocco and attempts to restore honor to the family after the girl and her parents have been shamed by the rape. The marriage between the young girl and the man who raped her was believed to resolve the dishonor and sexual abuse of the girl.

The girl’s parents filed a complaint against the rapist and “won,” as the man said he would marry their daughter. But the girl was further mistreated and abused after she was forced into marriage. The man walked free as Moroccan penal code excuses rapists from punishment if they marry their victims.

According to an article in Yahoo! News: “A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of ‘corruption’ or ‘kidnapping’ of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame.”

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When in Doubt, Go for Sexual Abuse

WARNING: This post contains explicit, offensive, and sexual language.

The past week, a lot of people were talking about Chris Brown and his Twitter fight with comedian Jenny Johnson. Brown apparently deleted his Twitter account after sending of a series of sexually implicit and very vulgar tweets to Johnson when she posted a response to one of his tweets.

Brown posted a picture of himself and commented on his Twitter account that he looked old, despite only being 23. Johnson answered (with the assault of Rihanna in mind), “I know! Being a worthless piece of shit can really age a person.” Instead of ignoring her comment or providing a clever answer, Brown went straight for a sexual abuse approach: Take them teeth out when u sucking my dick HOE.” Brown also tweeted that “Mom says hello … she told me not to shart in ur mouth, wanted me to shit right on your retina” and “Don’t run for support now … Lol. Ur a comedic writer!!! If u can take a dick, u can take a joke.”

Brown does not seem to be the most articulate person out there, but it is both offensive and rude (and upsettingly common) to try to shut a woman up by referring to sexual abuse or sexual activity and by making crude sexual comments. It also appears typical to put a woman down by using masculine power and sexual dominance. For example, we know that most men are much physically stronger than most women and therefore the threat of sexual assault is often a real concern to women. Perhaps this is why Brown attempted to scare Johnson with violent and sexual behavior. Since Brown has obviously been violent before the threat becomes more genuine than if he had not.

Photo of Chris Brown shared by flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer under a creative commons license.

Women’s History Month: Dorothy Allison

Image courtesy of dorothyallison.net

“It is easy to be an entertainer as a woman. It is easy to tell stories to charm people. But mostly we believe our stories aren’t worth anything, that our stories aren’t important, and that if they are important, they’re dangerous, and therefore too dangerous to tell anyone. The only way I ever began to write was because there was a women’s movement. If there had not been a women’s liberation movement in the early 70’s, I would not only have not started writing. I would not be alive.”

-Dorothy Allison

I recently mentioned to a friend that I wanted to re-read Dorothy Allison’s 1992 masterpiece, Bastard Out of Carolina. “Hmm,” my friend, who admires Allison greatly, replied. “I don’t know if I’d want to re-read that book, even though I really like it.”

I know what she means. Bastard is written by a woman that knows how to tell a good story, filled with vibrant people and achingly realistic dialogue. But it is also a book about brutality, poverty, and the heartbreaking ways that families let each other down, no matter how much they love each other. The physical and sexual violence that the protagonist, a girl named Bone, experiences at the hands of her stepfather is difficult to read, even as you keep going, deeply invested in Bone’s survival and happiness.

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