Manhood, violence and coercive sexualities in men’s prisons: dynamics and consequences behind bars and beyond

16 September 2009

Over the last few years the CSVR in Johannesburg has conducted research on sexual violence in men’s prisons. One striking feature of this work, which initially jolted my assumptions, has been the relative readiness of perpetrators of male same-sex rape in prison to report this violence to us as compared to the bashfulness of victims. It’s the context of the situation where perpetrators seem more willing to talk about their violence than victims – that I’ll consider in this article, showing how it is actually well explained by the social place that sexual violence occupies in prison. This focus which has pertinence far beyond prison walls as well, sheds light on particular notions of gender and sexuality and their relations to violence.

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Trans-hate at the core of gender based violence?

16 September 2009

Gender DynamiX is a human rights organisation, the only in South Africa focussing its work on the transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming sector. The organisation was originally founded to work on a referring database system, collecting and archiving information from and about transgender people by transgender people to disseminate useful information (on request to other transgender people). Stealth living is in many trans[1] people in South Africa’s viewpoint the ultimate goal, hence the lack of information and silence around the prevalence and visibility of transgender role models. What was initially seen as the goal of Gender DynamiX was quickly exceeded and we were contacted by trans people from all areas in the country, indicating a much greater need than collecting and disseminating information. Soon after its inception Gender DynamiX initiated workshops, seminars, participated in the larger LGBTI sector in activism and contributed to the local and regional ‘pool of knowledge’ about transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming information. Most importantly Gender DynamiX hosts a very informative website which serves in many trans people’s lives as the first touch point to obtain information about medical and legal procedures.

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Post conflict recovery in Sierra Leone: the spiritual self and the transformational state

16 September 2009

“We need to get back to the old time mobilization of our grandmothers”, said Regina Amadi, Regional Director for Africa, of the International Labor Organization (ILO), May 8 at the 2009 African Women Changing the Global Outlook Empowerment Conference in Washington D.C. As she spoke before Somali intellectuals, Ugandan business women, Nigerian journalists, and Tanzanian political leaders, she and other global leaders shared their concerns about Africa’s political, economic and environmental and health condition. The British Embassy and National Geographic sponsored the conference by bringing together noted international panelists to respond to audience questions. While the usual suspects brought up age old hot topics such as good governance, the role of Ngo’s, and male political power structures, participants challenged female panel members on what they are doing to empower those who do not have the privilege to attend the conference. American Journalist, Makeda Crane asked, “What are we doing NOW to help the women in the Congo?” Makeda’s overarching question brought to light the complicated tier of injustices that make women’s goal to “help” and “improve” Africa a task bound by time, space, and resources.

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Searching for the will to conscientiously prosecute sexual crimes in Zanzibar

16 September 2009

The passage of the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions Act) (SOSPA) in 1998 intended to promote the prosecution of crimes of gender based violence (GBV) more broadly. Specifically, it sought to strengthen the protection of victims and survivors of sexual violence. In 2004, the Zanzibar legislature, the Zanzibar House of Representatives, amended SOSPA further including it in Part XV of the 2004 Zanzibar Penal Act with the objective of making the law more readily accessible to functionaries in law enforcement and the judiciary, and therefore facilitate its implementation.

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Zanzibar GBV advocacy: important lessons for future legal reform strategies

16 September 2009

The passage of the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 revolutionized advocacy for women’s rights in global, national and local spaces. Subsequent global conferences on women, especially those convened by the United Nations, squarely put women’s rights issues on national agendas. Specifically, the naming of violence against women a human rights violation to be considered as a moral and legal crime by CEDAW, the Vienna Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action (BoA) reinvigorated local activism against gender based violence (GBV).

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Untitled

16 September 2009

Megan Voysey-Braig is a South African writer, author of Till We Can Keep an Animal (Jacana, 2008), winner of 2007/2008 European Union Literary Award, shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Wrietrs’ Prize – Africa, longlisted for the 2009 Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She currently lives in Berlin.

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Sexual and gender based violence: everyday, everywhere, and yet …

16 September 2009

The mathematics of contemporary sexual and gender based violence offer a grim graph of today’s world. In a number of countries, evenly distributed across the globe, up to one-third of adolescent girls report forced sexual initiation. For example, a recent study suggests that in the United Kingdom one in three teenage girls has suffered sexual abuse from a boyfriend, one in four has experienced violence in a relationship, one in six has been pressured into sexual intercourse, one in sixteen say they had been raped. Mass rape of women and girls continues to be seen as somehow a legitimate military weapon. Reports suggest that, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a war that lasted a mere three years, somewhere between 10,000 and 60,000 women and girls were raped. Sexual violence against men and boys continues undaunted, unreported, understudied, and too often a source of ridicule and derision. According to a number of studies, somewhere between 5 and 10% of adult males report having been sexually abused in their childhood. Women suffer violence in health care settings, “including sexual harassment, genital mutilation, forced gynecological procedures, threatened or forced abortions, and inspections of virginity.” Sexual violence in schools is off the charts. In Canada, 23% of girls experience sexual harassment.

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To be a woman in Kenya: a look at sexual and gender-based violence

16 September 2009

In 2006, the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) – a non-governmental organization promoting gender equality and justice through the empowerment of women and elimination of discrimination and violence – took on the case of a woman who was brutally attacked while waiting for a bus at the country’s capital, Nairobi. She was dragged behind a bush and gang raped by 10 men for several hours. Later, in the public hospital, she was asked by the attending doctor (who said that he did not have gloves) to insert her fingers into her vagina and remove the semen with her own fingers and place it on the doctor’s laboratory slab for examination. Still ashamed, embarrassed, and sore from the attack, this completely inappropriate act by the doctor violated her all over again. It was as if she was attacked twice in one night.

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Poet’s note

15 September 2009

It is an honour to be here, though not physically, but spiritually I feel myself amongst you all through my poems. And I hope that the purpose for which I have had to share these poems with you opens an avenue for us all to seek right from wrong, and start a chain reaction in the fair treatment and justice for women in Africa.

From ACAS Bulletin 83: Sexual and gender based violence in Africa

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Onwu Di

15 September 2009

A poem by Chinwe Azubuike from ACAS Bulletin 83.

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