Tunisian women’s victory

This video says about itself:

2 August 2017

In Tunisia, the Parliament has passed a new law to protect women and girls from violence including rape. Rape survivors and civil society organisations have welcomed the new legislation as a progressive step for the country. Adnen Chaouachi has the details.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

Tunisian Muslim women can now marry non-Muslims. The 1973 ministerial circular prohibiting such mixed marriages has been revoked.

While Muslim men had always been free to marry non-Muslim women. So, this anti-women government decision was by the pre-Arab Spring regime, known from dictator Ben Ali. A regime, often praised as ‘moderate’ and ‘secular’ by NATO country media, because wearing headscarves was illegal. In fact, stopping women who themselves want to wear headscarves is just as dictatorial as stopping women who themselves want to wear miniskirts.

The spokesman for President Béji Caïd Essebsi announced that on Thursday.

By Rob Vreeken September 14, 2017, 19:00

A month ago, on the occasion of the Women’s Festival on August 13, Essebsi had asked the government to annul the circular. That has happened now. …

Following the 2011 Arab Spring, which led to a democratic transition only in Tunisia, new steps were taken to anchor women’s rights.

A ‘historical project’

In July, Tunisian adopted a law that extensively prohibits all forms of violence against women. Not only physical violence is more harshly punished, but all acts of “moral, sexual, psychological and economic aggression” against women are now punishable. Human Rights Watch (HRW) human rights organization spoke of a “milestone” for women’s rights. Minister of Women’s Affairs Neziha Labidi calls it a ‘historical project’.

Tunisian women‘s groups had fought for a long time for such a law.


‘Male’ Viking warrior turns out to be woman

This is how the grave on Birka might have looked like where the female warrior was buried. Illustration by Evald Hansen based on the original plan of grave Bj 581 from Hjalmar Stolpe's excavations at Birka in the late 19th century. (Stolpe 1889)

From Stockholm University in Sweden:

An officer and a gentlewoman from the Viking army in Birka

War was not an activity exclusive to males in the Viking world. A new study conducted by researchers at Stockholm and Uppsala Universities shows that women could be found in the higher ranks at the battlefield.

September 8, 2017

Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, who led the study, explains: “What we have studied was not a Valkyrie [war goddess] from the sagas but a real life military leader, that happens to be a woman”.

The study was conducted on one of the most iconic graves from the Viking Age. It holds the remains of a warrior surrounded by weapons, including a sword, armour-piercing arrows, and two horses. There were also a full set of gaming pieces and a gaming board. “The gaming set indicates that she was an officer”, says Charlotte, “someone who worked with tactics and strategy and could lead troops in battle”. The warrior was buried in the Viking town of Birka during the mid-10th century. Isotope analyses confirm an itinerant life style, well in tune with the martial society that dominated 8th to 10th century northern Europe.

Anna Kjellström, who also participated in the study, has taken an interest in the burial previously. “The morphology of some skeletal traits strongly suggests that she was a woman, but this has been the type specimen for a Viking warrior for over a century why we needed to confirm the sex in any way we could.”

And this is why the archaeologists turned to genetics, to retrieve a molecular sex identification based on X and Y chromosomes. Such analyses can be quite useful according to Maja Krezwinska: “Using ancient DNA for sex identification is useful when working with children for example, but can also help to resolve controversial cases such as this one”. Maja was thus able to confirm the morphological sex identification with the presence of X chromosomes but the lack of a Y chromosome.

Jan Storå, who holds the senior position on this study, reflects over the history of the material: “This burial was excavated in the 1880s and has served as a model of a professional Viking warrior ever since. Especially, the grave-goods cemented an interpretation for over a century”. It was just assumed she was a man through all these years. “The utilization of new techniques, methods, but also renewed critical perspectives, again, shows the research potential and scientific value of our museum collections”.

The study is a part of the ongoing ATLAS project, which is a joint effort by Stockholm University and Uppsala University, supported by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences) and Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council), to investigate the genetic history of Scandinavia.

See also here.

Women’s rights victory in Chile

This video says about itself:

Chile court lifts total ban on abortion

22 August 2017

After years of debate, Chile’s Constitutional Court has approved a law to legalise abortion in some circumstances.

The development is seen as a major victory for women’s rights groups and President Michelle Bachelet, a former director of UN Women.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports from Santiago.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chile: Court upholds women’s right to a safe abortion

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Judges finally overturn Pinochet dictatorship’s assault on the right to choose

CHILE’S Constitutional Tribunal has partially reinstated women’s right to a safe and legal abortion after the US-backed Pinochet military dictatorship removed it 28 years ago.

Parliamentarians approved a Bill earlier this month allowing a termination when the mother’s life is in danger, the foetus is unviable or the pregnancy is the result of rape.

Despite the majority vote in Congress and widespread public support for the Bill, right-wing MPs filed two requests for review before the tribunal, claiming the law would violate the constitutional guarantee of “protection of the unborn.”

Judges voted six to four on Monday to dismiss both requests and uphold the constitutionality of the new law, handing victory to President Michelle Bachelet, whose government championed the Bill.

“What has prevailed is tolerance and that every woman may make decisions based on her values, religion, principles or real options.

“Today I am proud to say we have fulfilled a fundamental commitment of our government to the women in our country.

“It has been a long battle, fought with the weapons of democracy and dialogue, overcoming barriers and prejudice that prevented hundreds of women in the past from alleviating their suffering.”

Abortion was allowed in some circumstances under Chile’s 1931 health code and hospitals interpreted the maternal harm provision liberally under President Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government to offer virtual termination on demand, but this was outlawed in 1989 under the Washington-installed dictatorship.

The dictatorship, backed by the Catholic Church, argued that abortion was no longer necessary because of advances in modern medicine.

Legislators have introduced over a dozen bills to partly legalise abortion since 1991, but all have been shelved or rejected.

Until now, Chile was one of four countries in the Americas that banned abortion under all circumstances.

This video. om how the situation was until this recent decision, says about itself:

Chile: where all abortion is illegal

14 August 2015

Special report from Chile on the young girls who are forced to go through with pregnancies even if it’s the result of incest or rape, or to buy illegal abortion pills on the black market. Guillermo Galdos reports from Chile – which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

Worldwide women’s anti-Trump march, new book

This CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

21 January 2017

Hundreds of thousands attended the Women’s March on Washington to rally and spread their message. CBSN‘s Reena Ninan has the latest on the ground.

By Bernadette Hyland in Britain:

Striking signs of the times from women in revolt

Monday 21st August 2017

Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope — Voices from the Women’s March

by Various (Artisan Books, £11.99)

WHY We March is a pictorial history of the Women’s March on January 21 this year which took place worldwide.

The book includes 500 photographs, mainly from cities in the US, which demonstrate how millions of women, men and children raised their voices and placards on issues such as reproductive rights, migrant rights, police violence, climate change and feminism.

All the profits from the book are going to Planned Parenthood, the US organisation that provides reproductive health services.

Many of the signs carried by the protesters feature Donald Trump — his ascent to the presidency provoked a groundswell, particularly among women, against the way he flaunted his misogyny and issued threats against women’s rights.

“Trump, illegitimate, ignorant, intolerant, instrument of international interests,” is written on one placard, while a shorter one reads: “Love Trumps Hate.” Another one screams: “I will not go back to the 1950s” …

The homemade signs really stand out, with one child in London clutching a piece of cardboard with the message: “Babies against Bullshit.”

The authors comment that the marches brought a real mixture of ages, ethnicities, religion, sexual orientation, classes and gender identities on to the streets — though I’m not sure how they gauged the economic classes of the marchers — and it would have perhaps been better to tell us a bit more about who was demonstrating, rather than include comments from celebrities such as Helen Mirren and Barbra Streisand.

And missing from the photos are any trade union banners or political parties. Is that because they did not take part or were not chosen to be in the book? Great as it is seeing people expressing their anger at political events, the question remains: What happens next?

Women did march in January in my home city of Manchester but, apart from organising another march and even though austerity has hit women twice as hard as men, we have yet to see women leading an organised fightback.

United States teenage girls, more suicides

This video says about itself:

19 November 2016

A touching suicide note of a girl !!! will make you cry

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Suicide rate among US teenage girls hit all-time high in 2015

7 August 2017

A new analysis reveals that the suicide rate among teenage girls in the United States reached a 40-year high in 2015. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that between 2007 and 2015 the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 doubled, while it tripled for younger girls, aged 12-14. The analysis was based on government records kept since 1975.

The rate of young women aged 15-19 taking their own lives was recorded at 2.9 in every 100,000 girls in 1975. While this rate increased to 3.7 by 1990, by 2007 it showed a decline, to 2.4. By 2015, however, it had doubled, reaching 5.1.

While not showing as dramatic an increase, the suicide rate among teenage boys rose by 30 percent between 2007 and 2015, according to the CDC. However, the rate of suicide among teenage boys has been historically much higher than among teenage girls. The rate of young men aged 15-19 stood at 18.1 in every 100,000 people in 2015, compared to 10.8 percent in 2007.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In 2015, half of suicides of people of all ages were committed with firearms. The other leading methods were suffocation, including hanging, at 26.8 percent, and poisoning, 15.4 percent.

Behind these figures stand thousands of fractured families struggling to deal with the tragic deaths of their young family members. Teenagers committing suicide are likely to have a history of depression, a previous suicide attempt and a family history of psychiatric disorders. They are frequently suffering from substance abuse.

However, the reasons teenagers take the desperate action of suicide cannot simply be reduced to these very real mental health struggles. Factors driving young people to take their own lives must also be traced to the growing social and economic tensions in 21st century America.

The most obvious catalyst for the uptick in teen suicide between 2007 and 2015 was the global financial crisis that peaked in 2008. Tom Simon, an author of the CDC report, told CNN: “One of the factors that people have talked about as a potential contributor to the trend is the economic downturn that we saw in 2007-2009. As economic problems go up, suicide rates go up.”

The financial crisis, which the Obama administration declared over by mid-2009, has inflicted economic hardships on millions of US families that persist to this day. The effects on teenagers and their family members have been myriad: unemployment, poverty and hunger, student debt, unpaid medical bills, homelessness. These economic pressures are major factors contributing to mental distress among teens.

In the CDC’s suicide policy guidelines, violence is also regarded as one of the major factors leading to teen suicide: “Exposure to violence (e.g., child abuse and neglect, bullying, peer violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence) is associated with increased risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, suicide, and suicide attempts. Women exposed to partner violence are nearly five times more likely to attempt suicide as women not exposed to partner violence.”

While social media is pointed to by suicide prevention advocates as a vehicle for promoting bullying, prompting suicide and other self-harm, what young people post on Facebook, Snapchat and other social media outlets is itself often a reflection of the brutal realities confronting youth today. As the CDC points out, social media could be used as a tool to fight bullying, and would be used in this way under different social conditions.

The violence of the US ruling elite must also be included in the experience of teenagers. Teens aged 12-19 today have never lived in a world when the US was not prosecuting a war of aggression. The list of countries the US was at war in between 2007 and 2015 include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. If the actions of the US political establishment and its two big business parties are to serve as a model for US youth, the outlook is bleak indeed.

There is also the example of the thousands of young people who have been gunned down by police during this period. And there is the massive US prison system that incarcerates 2.4 million people, overwhelmingly poor and working class. From 2007 to 2015, the US states that continue to practice the death penalty have executed 365 death row prisoners.

AAP notes that psychosocial problems and stresses, “such as conflicts with parents, breakup of a relationship, school difficulties or failure, legal difficulties, social isolation, and physical ailments … commonly are reported or observed in young people who attempt suicide.” Gay, bisexual and transgendered adolescents also exhibit high rates of depression and “have been reported to have rates of suicidal ideation and attempts three times higher than other adolescents.”

Teenagers living through these problems will receive nothing but scorn and ridicule from the fascistic, misogynist psychopaths that currently occupy the White House. Treatment for young people suffering from mental illness is also woefully underfunded, while hundreds of billions are squandered on war. The CDC estimates that only 10 percent of those needing mental illness and substance abuse treatment receive it.

The staggering new figures on teen suicide must be viewed alongside declining life expectancy, rising infant and maternal mortality, epidemic levels of opioid addiction and other societal ills as an expression of the inability of the capitalist system to meet the social and economic needs of young people and workers in the United States.

Dutch women’s football team wins European championship

This 6 August 2017 video from Enschede, the Netherlands, says about itself:

Netherlands 4-2 Denmark – All Goals & Highlights – UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 Final – 6/8/2017

Afghan Danish Nadia Nadim made the first goal from a penalty kick. However, in the end, the Dutch home team won in a full Enschede stadium.

Until today, the only three national teams who had ever won a women’s European championship were Germany, Norway and Sweden.

One Dutch supporters’ sign read: ‘Who needs Neymar [Brazilian male football player very recently sold from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain for 200 million euro]? We have Lieke.’ Meaning Dutch team left forward [like Neymar] Lieke Martens, who won the prize for best player of the tournament. Like Neymar until recently, her club team is Barcelona.