Afro-Brazilian Women’s Mobilization Moment
The current global push for the redress of epidemic violence against women—from #NiUnaMenos to #MeToo—has long been of national concern in Brazil, with women sharing stories of sexual assault via #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarassment) and demonstrations for reproductive rights having sought to counter entrenched conservative religious interests. For Afro-Brazilian women, this is part of decades of mobilization that has attempted to draw attention to both material and ideological disparities threatening their security. High homicide and sexual violence rates, reproductive healthcare limitations, anti-black beauty standards, and lack of positive cultural representation have led activists to demand attention to institutions and cultural practices that they argue have marginalized their welfare. From mass demonstrations to digital organizing, black women have taken the lead in movements for both racial and gender justice, challenging Brazil’s deeply embedded ideology of colorblindness and calling instead for more research into and accountability for persistent economic and cultural disparities.
“Beyond #MeToo, Brazilian women rise up against racism and sexism” (The Conversation, via Salon | January 2018)
“Afro-Brazilian Feminists and the Fight for Racial and Gender Inclusion” (Black Perspectives | February 2017)
“Black Women March Against Violence in Brazil” (teleSUR | November 2015)
“Interview with Djamila Ribeiro: Fighting Racism and Sexism in Post-Coup Brazil” (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs | December 2017)
“Black Brazilian Feminists Say: ‘Autonomy is the Only Way.’” (For Harriet | July 2015)
“Brazil: Report Exposes High Rates of Rape Among Women, Girls” (teleSUR | January 2018)
“The campaigners challenging misogyny and sexism in Brazil” (The Guardian | December 2015)
Geledés Black Woman Institute
Black Women of Brazil
The Invasive “Virginity Tests” of Afghanistan
Despite its condemnation by international medical experts as scientifically unsound and official promises to ban the procedure, healthcare and judicial systems in Afghanistan have continued to rely on abusive assessments of sexual activity in women accused or suspected of extramarital sex. The potential social catastrophe that could result from a positive result has led to the development of a black market of so-called hymen reconstruction, which has led to further health insecurity for women who undergo the procedure. Even the administration of the test can bring social shame to those subjected to it, leading to poor outcomes in education and employment as well as a contracting social network. Afghanistan is far from the only country in which the tests continues, and globalized efforts to end the gender-discriminatory practice have encountered mixed success in changing deeply rooted cultural norms.
“The shame of Afghanistan’s virginity tests” (BBC News | December 2017)
“Despite Ban, Invasive Virginity Tests Remain Prevalent in Afghanistan” (The New York Times | January 2017)
“Here’s Everything You Need To Know About ‘Virginity Tests’” (BuzzFeed News | November 2017)
Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
- With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
- Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
- President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
“Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)
“‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)
“Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)
(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)
Designation of two new national monuments works to protect integrity of Native American lands
- President Obama designated two new national monuments, placing more than 1.6 million acres of land under federal stewardship and protecting the areas from development and looting.
- The Bears Ears National Monument comprises 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah, which includes more than 100,000 Native American cultural and archaeological sites and will be jointly managed by federal and indigenous leaders.
- The Gold Butte National Monument, located in southern Nevada, encompasses 300,000 acres that include sites of Native petroglyphs and critical habitats.
“Two New National Monuments Created in Utah and Nevada” (Scientific American | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (The New York Times | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (EcoWatch | December 2016)
(Image Credit: UIG/Getty Images, via Scientific American)
Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.
Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube
The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.
VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.
“Punished Twice” (VICE News)
“Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
“Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)
Budget cuts and proposed land rights and environmental rollbacks threaten indigenous communities in Brazil
- Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous communities, faces large budget cuts under President Michel Temer’s government that advocates say could increase the insecurity of indigenous groups, particularly of the more than 100 uncontacted groups in the country.
- A draft decree seeks to increase the level of scrutiny applied in the demarcation of indigenous land reservations, annulling certain previously secured land rights and making the recognition of new claims considerably more difficult.
- A proposed bill seeks to overhaul environmental licensing protocol, shifting from federally managed licensing procedures to flexible, state-based determinations of licensing necessity for agricultural and land-use projects.
“Temer government set to overthrow Brazil’s environmental agenda” (Mongabay)
“Brazil’s plan to roll back environment laws draws fire: ‘The danger is real’” (The Guardian)
“Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/The Guardian)
Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
- The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
- The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
- Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.
“Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
“Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)
(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)