As we rethink old harassers, let’s talk about Clarence Thomas

Joy-Ann Reid writes: Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

“The discussion” in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing “Christianity” that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Party’s radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile “groping” picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the “I just kiss beautiful women and grab ’em by the pussy” un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, we’d be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later. [Continue reading…]

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Low-wage workers have been fighting sexual harassment for years

HuffPost reports: Cecilia was working as a minibar attendant at a Chicago hotel when she knocked on the guest’s door and announced herself. The man’s response was quick and unequivocal: “You can come in.”

When she opened the door, “He was at the computer, masturbating,” Cecilia recalled. She was overcome with shock and embarrassment. Judging from the satisfied look on the man’s face, that was the whole idea.

“I felt nasty,” recalled Cecilia, who asked that her last name and the hotel not be identified. “You’d expect that to happen to people in a jail but not in regular work. I felt like crying.”

It wasn’t the only time Cecilia had dealt with extreme forms of sexual harassment in her three decades working in downtown hotels. A male guest once answered her knock by opening the door naked. Just a month and a half ago, a younger colleague confided to Cecilia that a male guest had tried to embrace her while she was in his room. Cecilia escorted the shaken housekeeper to the hotel’s security team to report the incident.

Since the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein were first revealed last month, more and more women have stepped forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault at work. Their bravery in speaking out has toppled powerful men’s careers in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington. But much less attention has been paid to the rampant harassment in blue-collar workplaces, particularly the hotel industry. [Continue reading…]

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700,000 women farmworkers say ‘you’re not alone’ as they stand with Hollywood actors against sexual assault

BuzzFeed reports: The vast majority of women harassed and assaulted in the workplace do not have famous bosses, social media platforms, celebrity, money, or power — like those in the entertainment industry. Hundreds of thousands of them are agricultural workers, who grow, pick, and pack food across America.

On Saturday an organization of farmworker women shared an open letter of solidarity with workers across industries who have been harassed and assaulted, in advance of a march in Los Angeles.

“For the past several weeks we have watched and listened with sadness as we have learned of the actors, models and other individuals who have come forward to speak out about the gender based violence they’ve experienced,” the farmworkers wrote.

“We wish that we could say we’re shocked to learn that this is such a pervasive problem in your industry. Sadly… it’s a reality we know far too well.” [Continue reading…]

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Brave enough to be angry

Lindy West writes: Not only are women expected to weather sexual violence, intimate partner violence, workplace discrimination, institutional subordination, the expectation of free domestic labor, the blame for our own victimization, and all the subtler, invisible cuts that undermine us daily, we are not even allowed to be angry about it. Close your eyes and think of America.

We are expected to keep quiet about the men who prey upon us, as though their predation was our choice, not theirs. We are expected to sit quietly as men debate whether or not the state should be allowed to forcibly use our bodies as incubators. We are expected to not complain as we are diminished, degraded and discredited.

We are expected to agree (and we comply!) with the paternal admonition that it is irresponsible and hyperemotional to request one female president after 241 years of male ones — because that would be tokenism, anti-democratic and dangerous — as though generations of white male politicians haven’t proven themselves utterly disinterested in caring for the needs of communities to which they do not belong. As though white men’s monopolistic death-grip on power in America doesn’t belie precisely the kind of “identity politics” they claim to abhor. As though competent, qualified women are so thin on the ground that even a concerted, sincere, large-scale search for one would be a long shot, and any resulting candidate a compromise.

Meanwhile, as a reminder of the bar for male competence, Donald Trump is the president. [Continue reading…]

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Female lawmakers allege harassment by colleagues in House

The Associated Press reports: For years, Republican Rep. Mary Bono endured increasingly suggestive comments from a fellow lawmaker in the House of Representatives. But when the congressman approached her on the House floor and told her he’d been thinking about her in the shower, she’d had enough.

She confronted the man, who she said still serves in Congress, telling him his comments were demeaning and wrong. And he backed off.

Bono, who served 15 years before being defeated in 2012, is not alone.

As reports pile up of harassment or worse by men in entertainment, business and the media, one current and three former female lawmakers tell The Associated Press that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments — by fellow members of Congress. [Continue reading…]

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Put women in charge

Michelle Goldberg writes: Most women I know — and probably most women you know — have stories about sexual harassment. Mine happened in college, with a professor who was older than my father and who made me think he was genuinely interested in my writing. One day in his office, he told me he wanted to “kiss and molest” me. I muttered something about having a boyfriend and fled.

As stories like this go, I got off easy. I remember thinking at the time, “Huh, so this is sexual harassment.” I wasn’t particularly traumatized, but it was a blow to my faith in my own talents. I felt ridiculous for having believed that this man, whom I very much admired, saw me as a person with promise instead of an easy mark.

Cumulatively, incidents like this erode women’s self-confidence and make it hard for them to find mentors as their male peers do. But in my case, there was no accumulation; I never again experienced anything like it. There’s plenty of harassment in the media; in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, some women passed around an anonymous, crowd-sourced Google Doc listing men in my industry accused of sexual transgressions. I’d heard some of these stories but have somehow been immune since that office visit so many years ago. Why?

I’m sure the friendly people on the internet will say it’s because I’m undesirable, but despite the Weinstein affair, it’s not just dewy bombshells who experience harassment. Maybe I’ve simply been lucky. But I credit the fact that I worked at a succession of publications — Salon, Newsweek and The Daily Beast, The Nation, Slate — headed, for most of the time I was there, by women. (This was unusual; as of 2016, according to the American Society of News Editors, women still made up only 37.11 percent of “newsroom leaders.”) The books I’ve published have been acquired and edited by women. For most of my 20s and 30s, I never had to worry that getting ahead in my career meant staying in the good graces of a straight man.

More women should have the same privilege. [Continue reading…]

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The fall of Harvey Weinstein should be a moment to challenge extreme masculinity

Rebecca Solnit writes: This past week was not a good week for women. In the United States, it was reported that a man who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl was granted joint custody of the resultant eight-year-old boy being raised by his young mother.

Earlier in the week, the severed head and legs of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who disappeared after entering inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine, were discovered near Copenhagen. A hard drive belonging to Madsen, Danish police said, was loaded with videos showing women being decapitated alive.

A Swedish model received rape threats for posing in an Adidas advertisement with unshaven legs. The University of Southern California’s dean of medicine was dumped after reports resurfaced that he had sexually harrassed a young medical researcher in 2003. A number of men at liberal publications were revealed to have contacted Milo Yiannopoulos, urging him to attack women – “Please mock this fat feminist,” wrote a senior male staff writer at Vice’s women’s channel, since fired. And, of course, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was described by the New York Times as a serial sexual harasser; his alleged offences, according to a TV journalist, including trapping her in a hallway, where he masturbated until he ejaculated into a potted plant.

This week, the New Yorker ran a follow-up story by Ronan Farrow (the biological son of Woody Allen, who has repudiated his father for his treatment of his sisters), expanding the charges women have made against Weinstein to include sexual assault. He quotes one young woman who said “he forced me to perform oral sex on him” after she showed up for a meeting. She added, “I have nightmares about him to this day.” Weinstein denies any non-consensual sex.

Saturday 7 October was the first anniversary of the release of the tape in which the United States president boasted about sexually assaulting women; 11 women then came forward to accuse Donald Trump. And last week began with the biggest mass shooting in modern US history, carried out by a man reported to have routinely verbally abused his girlfriend: domestic violence is common in the past of mass shooters.

Underlying all these attacks is a lack of empathy, a will to dominate, and an entitlement to control, harm and even take the lives of others. Though there is a good argument that mental illness is not a sufficient explanation – and most mentally ill people are nonviolent – mass shooters and rapists seem to have a lack of empathy so extreme it constitutes a psychological disorder. At this point in history, it seems to be not just a defect from birth, but a characteristic many men are instilled with by the culture around them. It seems to be the precondition for causing horrific suffering and taking pleasure in it as a sign of one’s own power and superiority, in regarding others as worthless, as yours to harm or eliminate. [Continue reading…]

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Why Saudi women driving is a small step forward, not a great one

Robin Wright writes: On a scorching day in August, 2006, Wajeha al-Huwaider threw off her abaya, the enveloping black cover worn by Saudi women, and donned a calf-length pink shirt, pink trousers, and a matching pink scarf. She then took a taxi, from Bahrain, to a signpost on the bridge marking the border with Saudi Arabia. She got out and, with a large poster declaring, “Give Women Their Rights,” marched toward her homeland. Within twenty minutes, she was picked up by Saudi security forces, interrogated for a day, and officially warned. An intelligence officer, she recounted to me later, had pointed at her mouth and said, “Control this, and we won’t have a problem.”

Two years later, on International Women’s Day, Huwaider went out in the Saudi desert and, illegally, drove. She made a three-minute video of it—coaching women to claim their rights—and posted it on YouTube. “The problem of women driving, of course, is not political,” she said, as the car bumped along a rural road. “Nor is it religious. It is a social issue.” The video, in Arabic, was viewed by almost a quarter million people. Thousands more watched with various translations. Again, she got in trouble.

Huwaider may finally be able to drive legally next year. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered that women be given licenses. The country is the last in the world—by many, many years—where women are forbidden to drive. In April, Saudi women launched a social media campaign—with the hashtag #Resistancebywalking—that posted films of them walking in the same streets where they can’t drive. The ban has long been a barometer of the oil-rich but ultra-conservative kingdom’s human-rights abuses, constantly referenced in the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report. The shift, on Tuesday, was sufficiently striking that the Times sent out a breaking-news e-mail about the king’s decree.

There are, however, caveats. The ruling will not go into effect until June, 2018. Women may have to get the permission of their male “guardians” to drive, as they do for many major activities in their life. The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith. The decree stipulated that new regulations must “apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards,” a reference to Islamic law. What that means was left unanswered. [Continue reading…]

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Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive next year

The New York Times reports: Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the repression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The change, which will take effect in June of next year, was announced on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington. The decision highlights the damage that the no-driving policy has done to the kingdom’s international reputation and its hopes for a public relations benefit from the reform.

Saudi leaders also hope the new policy will help the economy by increasing women’s participation in the workplace. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives. [Continue reading…]

 

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Google ‘segregates’ women into lower-paying jobs, stifling careers, lawsuit says

The Guardian reports: Google systematically pays women less than men doing similar work, according to a class action-lawsuit accusing the technology company of denying promotions and career opportunities to qualified women who are “segregated” into lower-paying jobs.

The complaint, filed Thursday on behalf of all women employed by Google in California over the last four years, provided the most detailed formal accounts to date of gender discrimination and pay disparities at the company after months of criticisms and a growing chorus of women publicly speaking out.

“We’ve been talking about these issues for a long time, and it hasn’t really changed,” Kelly Ellis, a former Google employee and a lead plaintiff on the case, told the Guardian in her first interview about the suit. “There’s been a lot of PR and lip service, but … this is going to be one of the only ways to get these companies to change how they hire and compensate women.” [Continue reading…]

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Anita Hill: Class actions could fight discrimination in Silicon Valley

Anita Hill writes: The recent leak of a Google engineer’s screed against the company’s diversity initiatives is a reminder that the notion of Silicon Valley as the seat of human progress is a myth — at least when it comes to the way the women behind the latest in technology are treated.

The tech industry is stuck in the past, more closely resembling “Mad Men”-era Madison Avenue or 1980s Wall Street than a modern egalitarian society. It may take the force of our legal system to change that.

The leaked memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” called on the company to abandon its efforts for gender diversity and replace them with a focus on “ideological diversity.” The author even claimed that biological differences make women poorly suited to engineering. While the document may be unusual in its explicit embrace of this kind of backward thinking, the attitudes that underlie it are nothing new in Silicon Valley. Google’s decision to fire the employee responsible for the memo neither dispels the notion that a systemic problem exists nor solves it. [Continue reading…]

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The lived reality of gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia

Mona Eltahawy writes: Just over a week after Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi Arabian, was dragged onto a plane from Manila to Riyadh with her mouth taped shut and her arms and legs bound, the United Nations voted to appoint Saudi Arabia to a four-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women. So much for the status of this Saudi woman.

On April 10, the authorities at the Manila airport — her stopover in the Philippines between Kuwait, from where she’d escaped a forced marriage, and Australia, where she’d planned on applying for asylum — confiscated Ms. Lasloom’s passport and boarding pass to Sydney and held her at an airport hotel until her uncles arrived. When they did, they beat her and forcibly repatriated her.

Saudi feminists believe Ms. Lasloom is being held at a women’s prison. She certainly was not present when Ivanka Trump told a group of Saudi women she met on Sunday that Saudi Arabia has made “encouraging” progress in empowering women. The round table discussion was led by Princess Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud, the vice president of Women’s Affairs at the General Sports Authority, a largely moot title in a country where girls and women are not allowed to participate in sports.

In response, a Saudi woman called Ghada tweeted: “Ivanka Trump only met and saw some of chosen puppets who are from the royal or high class, and they don’t represent the majority of us!”

Saudi women must be accustomed to seeing women who are protected by wealth and proximity to power exercise rights that the majority of them are denied. Such is the bargain: Ms. Trump’s father, President Donald Trump, sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia during his visit to Riyadh. Meanwhile, the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates pledged to donate $100 million to a women’s fund proposed by Ms. Trump. During the election campaign, her father criticized the Clinton Foundation for accepting money from precisely those two countries, which he said “want women as slaves and to kill gays.” [Continue reading…]

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Why it matters that the Manchester attack targeted girls

Emily Crockett writes: We don’t know the exact motivation behind Monday’s horrifying terrorist attack in Manchester, England, which killed 22 people, including an 8-year-old girl. And given that the bomber died in the attack, we’re unlikely to ever find out precisely what was going through his head as he detonated that device. But one thing we do know is the demographic he targeted: young girls and women. As is so often the case with acts of violence, misogyny was deeply woven into this attack.

ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, is of course notorious for its ghastly treatment of women and girls – for mass imprisonments, rapes and acts of torture. It’s not yet known if the suicide bomber, whom police have named as 22-year-old British national Salman Abedi, acted alone, or what his exposure to ISIS might have been. Regardless, the symbolism of his attack is clear and devastating. During Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour, Abedi gave the world a sick reminder of the dangers of being a woman in public in 2017, attacking largely female concertgoers for doing nothing but enjoying themselves while listening to music.

These girls and women weren’t just listening to any music, either – this was feminist music. Through her songs and public statements, Ariana Grande has taken a strong stand against sexism and the objectification of women, and she does so kindly, joyfully and without apology.

All of that is threatening enough. But Grande goes even further, daring to embrace sex positivity: the idea that sexuality is healthy, that it can and should be expressed in diverse ways, and that it deserves no shame.

It hardly takes being a member of ISIS to balk at women embracing their sexuality without shame – plenty of Republican lawmakers show their discomfort with the idea by attacking basic reproductive and sexual health for women. Take away shame, and you take away one of humanity’s most powerful tools for keeping women in line; suicide bombs and oppressive laws might put women in their place, but shame is the glue that holds it all together. [Continue reading…]

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The obstacles to gender equality in the Arab world

The Economist reports: Ahmed, who lives in Cairo, allows his wife to work. “At first, I insisted she stay at home, but she was able to raise the kids and care for the house and still have time to go to work,” he says. Still, he doesn’t seem too impressed. “Of course, as a man, I’m the main provider for the family. I believe women just cannot do that.”

Ahmed’s outlook is widely shared throughout the region, where men dominate households, parliaments and offices. Chauvinist attitudes are reflected in laws that treat women as second-class citizens. A new survey by the UN and Promundo, an advocacy group, examines Arab men’s views on male-female relations. (One of the authors, Shereen El Feki, used to write for The Economist.) It finds that around 90% of men in Egypt believe that they should have the final say on household decisions, and that women should do most of the chores.

So far, so predictable. But the survey sheds new light on the struggles of Arab men in the four countries studied (Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine) and how they hinder progress towards equality. At least two-thirds of these men report high levels of fear for the safety and well-being of their families. In Egypt and Palestine most men say they are stressed or depressed because of a lack of work or income. Women feel even worse, but for Arab men the result is a “crisis of masculinity”, the study finds.

Far from relaxing their patriarchal attitudes, Arab men are clinging to them. In every country except Lebanon, younger men’s views on gender roles do not differ substantially from those of older men. There may be several reasons for this, but the study suggests that the struggle of young Arab men to find work, afford marriage and achieve the status of financial provider may be producing a backlash against assertive women. In other words, male chauvinism may be fuelled by a sense of weakness, not strength. [Continue reading…]

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Workers endured long hours, low pay at Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump’s clothing-maker

The Washington Post reports: Workers at a factory in China used by the company that makes clothing for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and other brands worked nearly 60 hours a week to earn wages of little more than $62 a week, according to a factory audit released Monday.

The factory’s 80 workers knit clothes for the contractor, G-III Apparel Group, which has held the exclusive license to make the Ivanka Trump brand’s $158 dresses, $79 blouses and other clothes since 2012. The company also makes clothes for Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and other brands.

Trump has no leadership role in G-III, and the report did not give the factory’s name or location, or say whether it was working on Ivanka-brand products at the time of the inspection.

Inspectors with the Fair Labor Association, an industry monitoring group whose members include Apple and Nike, found two dozen violations of international labor standards during a two-day tour of the factory in October, saying in a report that workers faced daunting hours, high turnover, and pay near or below China’s minimum wage.

The inspection offers a rare look at the working conditions of the global manufacturing machine that helped make Trump’s fashion brand a multimillion-dollar business.

Its release also comes as the president’s daughter has sought to cast herself as both a champion of workplace issues and a defender of her father’s “buy American, hire American” agenda. Trump, whose book “Women Who Work” debuts next week, was in Germany on Tuesday for public discussions about global entre­pre­neur­ship and empowerment. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Trump was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at a women’s economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States. [Continue reading…]

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Marines have battled misogyny for years. Will it be different this time?

Marine Times reports: Although the Marine Corps was quick to condemn the secretive “Marines United” Facebook group, the Corps’ leadership has known for years about websites that encourage misogyny and cyber bullying of female Marines, veterans and other women.

Four years ago, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., warned then-Commandant Gen. James Amos that male Marines were harassing their female counterparts on Facebook pages.

“Back in 2013 then-Commandant Gen. Amos wrote to me saying, ‘We share your indignation,’ regarding deplorable images on social media that denigrate women in the United States Marine Corps,” Speier said in a Wednesday speech on the House floor.

“They were words — just words. I fear military leadership will say anything to placate Congress and an outraged public but then do nothing.”

While the Marine Corps is moving rapidly to deal with the fallout from the scandal, it is unclear whether the Corps will have any more success than it has in the past in stopping cyber bullying and online harassment.

The latest revelations have sparked a criminal investigation amid allegations that Marines and others were posting “revenge porn” and encouraging sexual assault, potential violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The potential crimes were first reported by Marine Corps veteran Thomas Brennan and published by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal on March 4.

Speier is now calling on Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general, to ensure that the Marines involved with “Marines United” face consequences for their actions.

“That means heads should roll,” she said. “Talk is cheap. Action is what is needed for the integrity of the military. Survivors must be supported, and that will only happen if those bad Marines are drummed out of the Corps — with no exceptions.” [Continue reading…]

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International Women’s Day

Phoebe Lett writes: On Wednesday, protesters around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day by showing their economies what a day without women’s work, paid or unpaid, is like.

Inspired by two strikes last October — one successfully quashing a Polish parliament bill banning abortion, the other drawing tens of thousands to protest violence against women and girls in Argentina — organizers in more than 50 countries have coordinated a day of global action, including strikes, rallies and other gatherings.

The United States strike will focus on “broadening the definition of violence against women,” says Sarah Leonard, spokesperson for the strike. In addition to protesting domestic, sexual and physical violence against women, Tithi Bhattacharya, a member of the strike’s organizing committee, says the strike on Wednesday focuses on rejecting the “systemic violence of an economic system that is rapidly leaving women behind.”

“This is the day to emphasize the unity between work done in the so-called formal economy and the domestic sphere, the public sphere and the private sphere, and how most working women have to straddle both,” says Ms. Bhattacharya. “Labor is understood to be work only at the point of production, but as women we know that both society and policy makers invisibilize the work that women do.” The strike calls for women to withhold labor, paid or unpaid, from the United States economy to show how important their contributions are. [Continue reading…]

Diddy Mymin Kahn and Sister Aziza Kidane write: International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. Most often, we take the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the great or exceptional women among us. But this day also offers the opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate the achievements of arguably one of the most invisible and marginalized groups of women in Israeli society: the 12,216 African asylum-seeking women in Israel who have fled crushing persecution and devastating war at home.

They have all faced and continue to face a range of challenges. A large proportion of these women have been victims of severe trauma, including torture, rape and the inhumanity of human trafficking. Many are single mothers, who face abject poverty and social exclusion and isolation. They work multiple low-wage jobs, and are forced to put their children in inadequate and overcrowded nurseries in their attempts to survive. Their attempts at survival occur largely in a pervading atmosphere of xenophobia and racism. None of these women have been granted refugee status by the state, and consequently none of them have any social rights – little to no access to welfare and health rights, and no permission to work.

In the face of all this, asylum-seeking women in Israel should be congratulated, celebrated and even emulated for their astounding resilience. Their strength is reflected in their life stories: fleeing the only homes they have known; their strength to survive unspeakable trauma, aggression and hostility; and their strength to continue each day despite the many adversities they face.

There are women in the community who despite all they have faced, fight to fulfill themselves and contribute to their community. Be they community leaders, interpreters, nursery school teachers, entrepreneurs, cooks and helpers. These are women like P, who was brutally gang-raped in the Sinai desert and subsequently gave birth to a child with severe disabilities; T, who had open-heart surgery a month after her baby was born; L, who fled Eritrea leaving all of her children, was diagnosed with cancer and despite initial treatment has no access to ongoing health treatment; B, whose husband abandoned her and her children, leaving her to fend for herself; K, whose child died tragically and did not receive a single day of compassionate leave.

But rather than being respected, they are mostly dehumanized, delegitimized, forgotten and ignored. Most Israelis are entirely unsympathetic, focusing on them as criminal infiltrators seeking economic advantage. Really? Does this sort of thinking really reflect the reality? This is how Jewish refugees in Europe were once viewed – over the past two generations they have more than proved this kind of thinking to be grossly wrong.

These asylum-seeking women have lessons to teach about resilience. These women can contribute to a stronger and more enduring future for our entire community. We should be encouraging and supporting women like this rather than adding to their burdens. Moreover, these women have a very real role to play in building the future. They play a pivotal role in the health, wellbeing and education of their children. By enabling asylum-seeking women and strengthening their resilience, we enable a whole generation of refugee children who right now, at this point in time, are not going anywhere. [Continue reading…]

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