This US presidential election cycle began with six women democratic candidates: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and self-help author Marianne Williamson. With Harris, Gillibrand, Gabbard, and Williamson all dropping out of the race in the beginning few months, only Warren and Klobuchar were able to muster a strong enough following to qualify for debates in January and February 2020. However, with Senator Klobuchar dropping the race the Monday before Super Tuesday only Senator Warren was left standing. After a disappointing turnout on Tuesday, which included placing third in her home state of Massachusetts, Warren’s dream of being the 2020 Democratic nominee ended on March 5, 2020 when she announced the ending of her campaign.
The Women Riders World Relay, often referred to as WRWR (wer-wer), is a motorcycling group consisting of only women that has the goal to circumnavigate the globe by bike. At the moment, there are around 83 countries participating and over 19,000 female riders ready to pass the baton. The relay’s goal is to bring awareness to the growing number of women in motorsports and to encourage these women to continue to ride (as well as join) and show off what they can do. It officially started the 27th of February back in 2019, almost a year ago!
This relay is bringing women from all different backgrounds together. It spans over six continents and not all of the riders speak the same language or have had many of the same experiences, but that will not stop them from sharing their love of motorcycles. Together they are having fun and setting records: WRWR is the largest recorded women riders relay in history. The wooden baton that gets passed from country to country as they clear each one is a symbol of all the work they have put into the relay. The Relay is designed to allow women riders from each country on the route to ride a leg, but many international riders are taking the baton in one country, then flying into other countries and renting motorcycles. Unfortunately, organizers had to exclude Iran from the relay, because women in that nation aren’t allowed to ride motorcycles.
However, women in climate change have just begun to receive recognition for their feats. In 2014, women led the first International People’s Climate March. The March drew over 400,000 supporters worldwide, the majority, of them being women. September 20th, 2019 marked the most supported international climate strike in history, with more than 100,000 activists, also predominantly women. The climate strike was primarily dominated by women of color and indigenous groups. Continue reading “Women of Color Created Climate Activism”→
Sex work has remained a prevalent part of our society’s culture, but has been stigmatized to remain on the fringes of our society as “criminalized prostitution.” Sex workers prefer the label of “sex worker” over prostitute, because it legitimizes that the sex work is indeed work. Whereas, “prostitution” has the stigmatization of dehumanization which leads to sex workers’ being criminalized and not receiving
health, legal, and social services. The criminalization of sex work prohibits the sale and purchase of sexual services as well as management of these services. Criminalization decreases sex workers’ ability to report human rights violations due to fear of incarceration, where they face violence from police. Sex workers are also unable to effectively communicate with each other or their clients, and even fearing carrying contraceptives on the street, due to facing incarceration or violence by the police.
Why should sex work be decriminalized? Sex work is the right to your own personal autonomy of how you wish to exchange consensual sexual services. The government should not be able to tell you when and how, you as an adult, want to partake in consensual sex. It is also a myth that decriminalized sex work will raise the rates of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is a part of sex work whether it is legal or not. Illegal sex workers are the most at risk of being sex trafficked compared to the general population. Continue reading “Decriminalize Sex Work”→
You may have never heard of Uighurs, their religion, or where they live. I hadn’t until I saw a video from Now This, while scrolling on the internet. The video was of a woman explaining the stories that she had heard from loved ones who had survived these detention camps that the Uighurs are being detained in. It was only four minutes long, and I had learned about an extreme mass human rights violation that was currently occurring halfway across the world. How was no one talking about this? Did people know about this? Was it intentionally not being reporting on?
Let’s start with who Uighurs are. Uighurs, also spelled; Uyghurs, Uigurs or Uygurs, speak Turkic, and are commonly Muslim. They live in the interior of Central East Asia. They are a Turkic minority ethnic group that originates culturally from, generally, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in the northwestern part of the People’s Republic of China. Other, Muslim minorities including Kazakhs and Uzbeks also inhabit the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the Central Asian republics. More than 10,000,000 Uighurs lived in China, and at least 300,000 more in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in the beginning of the twenty-first century. Although,Xinjiang only represents two percent of the Chinese population, it accounts for twenty-one percent of all their arrests two years ago, and has only grown. Since April of 2017, between 800,000 and 2,000,000 Uighurs, Kazakhs and Uzbeks have been detained by the Chinese government.
Where are these millions of Turkic minorities being held? The Chinese government has worked hard to keep their existence a secret. They have created detention camps disguised as religious and political reformation schools. Most of the people they have arrested have been charged with crimes that have no legal evidence backing them. They are arrested for contacting people from and visiting the countries China considers “sensitive,” like Turkey and Afghanistan, attending Mosques, and having any affiliation with the Quran. The government has hidden their torturous practices by handpicking who sees these places. An anonymous visitor took a video of some of the torturous activities that occur within the camps. Watch here: https://youtu.be/inmP0LvZEhY
However, if a country is suspicious of China’s genocidal acts towards Uighurs and other minorities, then China threatens to cut off ties of peaceful trade and commerce. Once, a group of countries came together at the United Nations to address the mass genocide happening in Xinjiang. In Switzerland, this year at the UN Human Rights Council, around
twenty-four Western countries, and Japan, created a call to action on China to close the detention camps in Xinjiang. China rebutted their call by banding together thirty-seven of their allies praising China’s, “contributions to the international human rights cause.” China’s state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi stated, “There has not been a single case of violent terrorism in the past three years,” when defending China at the UN summit. “The education and training centers are schools that help the people free themselves from terrorism and extremism and acquire useful skills.”
Nothing been done at an international level to address the mass genocide of these Turkic minorities. But, nothing has been done for decades. China has been slowly attempting to
enact a cultural genocide against Uighurs by targeting Uighur women. The Uighurs, Kazakhs and Uzbeks contained in the detention camps which are around, one and a half million. Only twenty-seven percent of those detained are women. Within the camps, women are sexually assaulted and medicated without consent. “Gulbahar Jelilova, a businesswoman and another Uighur internment victim who was held in a cell with 40 other women, also stated that female inmates were injected weekly with a substance that stopped their periods,” reported in an article for the Washington Post. The forced sterilization of women is one of the first steps towards cultural genocide along with mass genocide. “Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh who was forced to work in one of the women’s camps in Xinjiang, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that every evening, the guards would take the pretty inmates with them, returning them in the morning. She also saw incidents of gang rape, including of one female inmate while other inmates were forced to watch.” Women in prisoner contexts, throughout history, have been routinely taken advantage of sexually to the point of dehumanization. The sexual assaults and forced sterilization against Uighur women is inhumane.
Not only does the Chinese government take their fertility from Uighur women, they also take their children. Uighur children are taken from their families at young ages to be raised by the Chinese government in boarding schools to be raised in the communist party of China. An expert on gender studies, Leta Hong Fincher, noted “the government has offered incentives for Uighur couples to have fewer children and for Uighur women to marry outside of their race. A large number of Uighur children have also been removed from their families and placed in boarding schools, according to a recent report, leaving the Chinese state to raise them.”
As the situation in Xinjiang continues to escalate, it is important to think about what we can do. Educate others around you about the issue and the atrocities the Chinese government are committing against Uighurs and other Turkic minorities. Speak out to your local government representatives or even nationally. Ask them what they plan on doing to address what is happening. Stop buying products from China, in solidarity with the mistreatment of Uighurs. Continue to stay updated, this is an international crisis that will only be addressed when we call it out.
Though it is heartbreaking to hear tragedies day in and day out, talking about the experiences of others and how their lives are affected by violence is crucial to understanding the impact. Something that is not often talked of is how American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women have higher rates of violence acted against them such as domestic violence, sexual assault, homicide and even stalking. The homicide rate of AI/AN women are second to African American women, but higher than white women. According to the Reclaiming Power and Place report, native women are 12 times more likely to experience violence in comparison to their white counterparts. All the research is accumulated over the past 30 years, documenting the statistics revolving around indigenous people on reservations, such as AI, AN, and within urban areas such as Canada and Mexico, where 71% of AI/AN live.
According to a 2016 Research report from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), 84% of AI/AN women have experienced violence in their lifetime. To put this percentage into further perspective, this comes out to over 4 in 5 AI/AN women. While the stats on crimes against indigenous women are documented, the data on missing and murdered indigenous women does not have a database, but a likely inaccurate number of 5,712 Native women and girls are missing. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, only 116 of those cases reported were logged in the US Department of Justice’s federal missing data base. These numbers, and rather the lack of, reflect a much-overlooked epidemic and institutional racism, despite past reforms that have tried to close legal loopholes that separate the responsibilities between Tribal and State Law.
Most of these cases are never solved which means Native women are not likely to have justice brought to them because, as stated by the Indian Law Resource Center, the “race-based criminal jurisdictional scheme created by the United States has limited the ability of Indian nations to protect Native women from violence and to provide them with meaningful remedies.” Distinguishing between tribal and federal/state law prevents these nations from having criminal authority over non-Indians simply because they are not of their tribe. The lack of criminal authority over non-Indians, the ones who commit the most acts of violence against Native women, is due to the prosecution being left to the state. Since federal and state officials have the authority over non-Indians vs. the tribes due to differences in jurisdiction and control, prosecutions are often declined. The U.S. Crime Victims Funds are not distributed equally among tribal lands as they are the rest of the states. The funds make up a billion dollars meant to update their resources and support services. According to the Department of Justice report of 2017, “from 2010 through 2014, state governments passed only 0.5 percent of the available funds to programs serving tribal victims, leaving a significant unmet need in most tribal communities.”
The lack of attention to the epidemic of violence against women was studied by the UIHI and found “the lack of quality data include underreporting, racial misclassification, poor relationships between law enforcement and American Indian and Alaska Native communities, poor record-keeping protocols, institutional racism in the media, and a lack of substantive relationships between journalists and American Indian and Alaska Native communities.” It seems these cases are not often talked about not only because of the lack of data documented, but also the lack of reporting by media outlets which come out to 95% of cases never covered by national or international media. UIHI analyzed the coverage that has taken place, concluding 50% of the 46 media outlets used violent language such as racial stereotyping, reference victim’s criminal history, victim-blaming language, or made excuses for the perpetrator. University of Kansas professor, author, and member of Muscogee Nation, Sarah Deer said,
“I think the reason that Native women may go missing at higher rates than other groups of people is very similar to the reason that they are at higher risk for domestic violence and sexual assault. The legal system is simply not functioning properly (to prevent) these types of things from happening.”
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 was implemented as a means of ensuring Tribes can access law enforcement databases, which in turn is meant to increase public safety within Indian country and decrease violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. Without this law, the funds to solve and bring justice to the crimes were not there. Tribes want to keep their members safe, but before this law they were lacking in tribal officers, whereas now the law increases efforts to recruit, train and keep them. Implementing this law enhances the authority tribes have to prosecute and incarcerate criminals through better data collection as well as provides resources for survivors, such as legal advice. Reports show how when tribes are given more funds for training and a means of investigation, such as control over investigating and persecuting nontribal members, perpetrators were arrested and convicted more often.
Because so many Native women go missing and are rarely found, Montana finally implemented a bill in the name of a missing Native woman, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind , 22, who was found floating in nearby water. A tragedy like this is one of many examples of state police not taking cases of missing women seriously. Though she was found dead, her body was found, which is better than not finding her at all. The Savanna Act is a federal bill meant to enforce collection of data on missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) cases between tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, but it does not address or take into consideration the difference between urban and federal jurisdiction which seems to be the basis of the problem of why violence against native women is not documented, resulting in the lack of criminal justice. Honoring Savannah Native women alike is the intention behind naming the bill after her, but according to the bill, the data on Savanna herself would not be logged under the federal government like the bill aims to do. Just last week, Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, spoke with the brother of a missing women, Olivia Lone Bear, who was recently found a mile from her house, dead in a truck submerged in a lake, 9 months after the report was made. The tribe urged for the lake to be searched by the state because they did not have the means of investigating water on their own. This story is one of many which reflect the lack of respect and seriousness taken for tribal peoples. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is the most recent step in restoring tribal jurisdiction because without further tribal authority, suspects and perpetrators will continue to go uninvestigated and therefore Native women and girls will continue to be victims at higher rates. The lack of attention to MMIW cases emanates a lack of care towards indigenous women therefore acting on the crisis of violence against them starts with seeing Native women as victims.
Now that September has come to an end; I think it is important to remember that it is designated as Latinx Heritage Month. Latinx Heritage Month is dedicated to honoring, respecting, remembering, and advocating for the Latinx community, not just in September, but every single day.
Latinx feminism is described philosophically as being rooted in definitions of political and social context by colonialism. Latinx feminism is focused on the work done in reaction to these contexts. It is in tension with itself because there are many Latinx feminisms, due to the diversity of cultures between the regions, histories, and people of each Latinx community’s society. These feminisms are rooted in the relationships between gender, ethnicity, socio-economic class, religion, citizenship, and sex. Continue reading “Modern Influential Feminist Latinx Activists”→