Archive for the ‘Sexual violence’ Category

Today, November 20th 2010, is the Twelfth Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day set aside for the trans* community and our allies to remember and to mourn our fallen in the past year.

So many are murdered because we are not seen as human in the eyes of the world. Trans people are talked about as freaks, as self-mutilators, as perverts, as unnatural. These attitudes are so prevalent in the culture at large that it is hard to force cis people to acknowledge transphobia, and harder to make them understand their own internalised transphobia and cis privilege. The terrible crimes that ended the lives of those we remember and mourn today are perhaps the ultimate proof of a transphobic culture.

Is it a coincidence that so many of the people we mourn today were women? Is it a coincidence that so many of them were people of colour? No. While our culture continues to be misogynist and racist (and several other -ists as well), there will always be a higher price paid by those who walk those particular intersections. That makes it worse. The people we mourn today were merely trying to live their lives as themselves, something that is hard for any oppressed person. They should never have been murdered.

The list of the dead makes for harrowing reading. Senseless brutality. Utter hatred. Rest in peace, our fallen comrades, by whatever faith you had in life. We must not forget.


Trigger warning for genital mutilation and consent violation.

What. The. Fuck. An Australian woman, in 2002, went into hospital to remove a piece of vulva tissue that had been identified as pre-cancerous. While she was under anaesthetic, the doctor who performed the surgery took it upon himself to remove her clitoris as well. He is claiming that had he not, the cancer would have spread; however, he did not announce his intention until she was almost anaesthetised, at which point she had no chance to refuse consent.

Now, I’m not a doctor; I certainly know nothing about cancer and whether indeed the extent of the operation was necessary. However, had it really been necessary, the principles of bodily autonomy and informed consent require him to have discussed it with his patient beforehand, when she was fully conscious and capable of understanding and objecting.

There are several issues intertwined here.

Firstly, we have the ableist idea that patients cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own care and therefore that doctors must high-handedly take control and have the full right to do so. The woman concerned has said, “If I had known that my clitoris was going to be cut off there is no way I would have walked through that hospital door,” and frankly, that should be her decision to make, no matter how severe or lifethreatening the cancer.

Secondly, we have the compromising of female bodily autonomy. His actions read as a sick, sadistic attack on a woman’s body, bodily autonomy and sexual agency, and the fact that he told her just as she was going under is even worse, a deliberate assertion of power and privilege, a deliberate sadistic attack on her. The fact that she is a woman and he a man is written in burning letters all over this story. A woman’s body is not the property of anyone else. It is her own. Rape culture makes its way into the operating theatre, where it has no goddamn right to be.

Thirdly, we have the words, “Her husband’s dead so it doesn’t matter anyway,” allegedly said to a theatre nurse. One, how sexist is that? That the only reason a woman needs genitalia is to satisfy her husband? Many women have thriving solitary sex lives, and there is nothing wrong with that. Women do actually want and like sex, and want and like their genitalia. Two, it’s also ageist – just because a woman is beyond a certain age, he assumed she will never have or want sex again.

There are probably many, many more issues and anyone’s welcome to point out more, although I don’t think we need to dissect every single atrocity here to agree that it is a terrible, terrible event.

This sort of thing is frightening and outrageous. Utterly, utterly appalling. Ms DeWaegeneire, what was done to you was completely wrong and inexcusable. I am so, so sorry you have been put through this nightmare and I hope that justice will be done as soon as possible.

Just no.

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Gender, Health, Law, Sexual violence
Tags: ,

Trigger warning for rape and rape culture.

Holy crap. A woman has been jailed for falsely retracting rape charges – the story seems complicated, but the outcome should not. It appears that she may have been pressured into retracting them by her husband (rapist?) and his sister.

Prosecutor Simon Parry is quoted as remarking that ‘alarm bells started ringing for prosecutors when the woman admitted she and her husband had consensual sex soon after the alleged rapes.’ Yeah but – no. The victim having ‘consensual’ (and if the rape allegations are true, I sincerely doubt the quality of consent there) sex with someone who has raped them is not a reason for alarm bells to go off. There are many reasons consent may have been given, and frankly other episodes are nothing to do with the case.

She should not have been jailed. Rape is a highly traumatic experience that no-one should have to go through. There is so much wrong with the judicial system’s treatment of rape, and so little empathy in the system’s approach to it. This verdict will only hurt. There is a clear lack understanding and compassion in the verdict, and it will, as the director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition Holly Dustin says, send out ‘a chilling message that parts of the criminal justice system are still in the dark ages in relation to sexual violence and do not understand the pressure women come under from perpetrators during the legal process. The potential threat of prosecution makes it less likely that women will report.’

Trigger warning for discussion of rape, war and sexual violence.

Apparently Iran looks set to get onto the UN Women body. As what, something to make the others feel better? Oh, at least we’re not using rape as a means of oppression and persecuting women for being women, we’re good then.

Another horrifying story has come to light; that of ‘Leyla’, who was kidnapped, beaten and raped (the details are horrific) because her fiancé, at the time in exile, had been involved in protests. Documents have been unearthed containing evidence that rape is often used as a weapon in prisons. The treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her supporters and family continues to outrage most of the world. There are other cases, many of them.

And yet somehow Iran is deemed fit to be on a board promoting women’s equality. And yet President Ahmadinejad is allowed to continue posturing around the world stage.

I do not advocate war because I am anti-war – and in Afghanistan, we saw what happened last time the West tried to go to war in defence of women’s rights (they did not communicate with women’s groups who knew the situation and how best to deal with it, instead just sending in the troops.)

The people of Iran do not deserve this regime. President Ahmedinejad needs to realise that his unapologetic disregard for human rights is unacceptable; needs to realise that these policies will damage his, and Iran’s, standing on the world stage.

Massive trigger warning for rape and rape culture on this link and post.


I can’t believe this. Just – no words. Just plain raw disbelief. Even for someone whose eyes have been opened to the rape culture, this is so hard to actually mentally process.

Any rape culture deniers should get linked to this story.

(thanks to the F-Word for the link)