Female genital mutilation- First suspects charged in court (UK)



Ever since I watched the biographical Film Desert Flower following the experiences of Waris DirieI feel very passionate about the subject of FGM. Female genital mutilation is defined by the WHO as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” This procedure has a long tradition in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, and to some extend in the Middle East and Asia. FGM is done on female children by the so called cutters who perform it without aesthetic and often only with a sharp razor or even a sharp piece of glass on children ranging in age from few weeks to puberty. The families, even the mothers who have undergone this torture, consider this an honour and take pride in this tradition.

In order to preserve the innocence by reduction of female sexual desire, and to secure the marriageability of the females their clitoris and labia have to be removed. Then the child is sawn together with a needle or another sharp object (without anaesthetics). The women are cut open on her wedding night by her husband (or a midwife) and during her labour. After childbirth the women are again sawn together.

There are a lot of complications following FGM. The immediate one is the fatal bleeding, followed by multiple types of infections. The WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA Joint Statement classified female genital mutilation into four types and depending on the mutilation undergone, the women have a series health related problems. These range from painful menstruation cycle, on-going urinal infections, inability to have intercourse, and the worst, most devastating problem is mother/child mortality.


But what does this have to do with the article linked above. In 1985 by The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 the FGM became a crime throughout the UK with the penalty of 14 years in prison. Due to no convictions but still a necessity, it was replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 which made it an offence to arrange FGM outside the country either for British citizens or permanent residents. This was an issue because many of the families who have immigrated to the UK from practising countries send their daughters to visit relatives, where they then undergo FGM. Though illegal many families or communities in the UK fly in so called “house doctors” to perform the procedure on multiple girls during a group ceremony. This led to a necessity of opening a 24 hours anonymous help line by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).







If you use google search, google always autocompletes your searches. For example if i´m searching the word gender google suggests me gender mainstreaming.

In March the UN women Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai had the idea to use this Autocomplete Function to to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. You can read here what they found out or just look at the picture.

UN-Women-Ad-1_495x700 jpg

To summarize it: the searches were full of sexism and stereotypes. You can try it by yourself. Just search women should.

For the UN women this findings were shocking but also confirmed the need to fight for womens rights. If you want to join the conversation on twitter you can use the hashtag #womenshould.

You can also watch a good video called the  Autocomplete Truth on You Tube, made by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai.

to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/ca/news/stories/2013/10/women-should-ads#sthash.631SVS9x.dpuf
Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai,
Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai,

News: Gunmen abducted 100 girls in Nigeria (15.04.14)

Around 100 girls have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria. The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram. The name Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” and they are fighting for an Islamic Nigeria. The attack happened on midnight of the 14. april at the boarding school in Chibok. They stormed the school and herded the girls onto vehicles. Around 10 to 15 girls seized the opportunity to escape. But over 100 girls are missing.  Even one student who managed to get away said at least 200 students were taken. Boko Haram frequently target schools and educational institutions in the North of Nigeria and are against western life style.

On Monday, bombings killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja and it is believed to be from the Islamist group.This year, the group’s fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north-east Nigeria, which are currently under emergency rule.




Gender imbalance

In many parts of Asia a disproportionate number of boys compared to girls are born since the 1980s. Especially in China and India the number of boys rose as quickly as never measured before. (1)In 2008 the police closed down many clinics in Mumbai that offered abortions if the woman was pregnant with a girl. A doctor explained that it´s a fact that urban slums have the worst sex ration and that Mumbai is no different because 60 % of its population resides in slums where sex ratio is rampant. (2)

This picture could lead to the conclusion that prenatal discrimination of girls is a problem of poor people and poor countries. For example in China, where wealth is rising, the sexual- proportion is by 121 born boys to 100 born girls since the 1990s. (3) A reason for this “Sex Ratio Transition” is an easier access to technologies that diagnose the sex of unborn children. These methods are mainly used by urban elites. (4)

Economic reasons are especially from a historic point of view the main cause for the disproportion. In South-Asia for example the tradition of the Dowry when a girl gets married was a big financial burden for a family. (5) In the same areas it was and sometimes still is the duty of sons to financially care for their parents when they become old. (6)

However change can be recognised because of women´s empowerment and their growing involvement at the labour market. Further the so called “bare branches”, which name the problem of many unmarried men, became a recognised issue in Chinas society. (7)The Chinese government estimates that by 2020 there will be about 30 million men in a marriageable age that will be unable to find a wife. (8) This leads to the possibility that the sex ratio will become stable again. (9) Professor Yuan Xin, of Nankai University’s Population and Development Institute suggests that it will take another 10 to 20 years of governmental work to end this preference that takes back thousands of years. (10)But although this development is happening, cultural, religious and ritual reasons for boy preferences are still present. (11)

(1) Husa, Karl; Rumpolt, Peter Alexander; Wohlschlägl, Helmut (2011): Die Weltbevölkerung zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts. Neue Schlüsselthemen- neue Mythen? In: Husa, Karl; Parnreiter, Christof; Wohlschlägl, Helmut (Hg.): Weltbevölkerung. Zu viele, zu wenige, schlecht verteilt? Wien, p. 275
(2) Husa (2011)p. 276
(3)Husa (2011) p. 276
(4) Husa (2011)p. 278
(5) Husa (2011)p. 279
(6)Husa (2011) p. 280
(7)Husa (2011) p. 280
(8) U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Annual Report 2008, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg45233/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg45233.pdf [13.04.2014]
(9) Husa (2011), p.  281
(10) Tania Branigan: China’s great gender crisis. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/02/chinas-great-gender-crisis [13.04.2014]
(11)Husa (2011), p. 281

The everyday sexism project

The everyday sexism project was launched by british journalist and feminist writer Laura Bates in 2012. One year later the site had collected 25,000 entries from 15 countries.

The website is a platform for women to share their stories about everyday sexism. You can simply upload your experiences (if you want of course anonymous). By sharing the stories women show that everyday sexism still exists. They share their stories of everyday sexism, from wolf whistles in the street to sexual harassment in the workplace, even stories of rape.

The project started in the UK but spreaded to 18 other countries (for example South Africa, Brasil or Austria).You can also follow the project on Twitter at @EverydaySexism.

What we should be aware of- Misogyny


We all know and face stereotypes and sexism on a daily basis, and I mean DAILY! On the street, commercials, Billboards… we even use them in our conversations. Those dumb blonde jokes or those “…well I’m a woman” ending sentences. But there is something even darker and truly evil. It is called MISOGYNY!

Misogyny is defined as hatred or dislike of girls and women. There is a fine, often not so clear, line between sexism and misogyny; they are definitely not the same. Sexism supports the discrimination and uses gender stereotypes against women, but in general with no hidden agenda or deep resentment that would make it misogyny. For example, one can say that, by default- women are bad drivers (and that is sexist), but when a man says that the only role a woman is destined to fulfil is to serve a man and bare his children (this is misogyny).

Misogyny has a long tradition and is different in every culture. It tends to surface when women start to gain a strong position in society or politics, or are seen as “intruders” in male territory. This action triggers the emotional response centre (amygdala) and it turns the emotions into hatred, personalises them and can result with violence. We can name as an example the witch-hunts against powerful women all over the world. Did it start because the women dared to enter the sacred healer/priest profession? On a subtle level, it is also the (re)programing of women into thinking bad of herself and being responsible for the failure of her husband. He blames her when he fails to get his promotion (because she “nags” all the time or something similar) and if she succeeds in something he doesn’t give her the right of that success, making it irrelevant.

 What are your thoughts on this matter?

The World´s First officially Genderless Person

Norrie May-Welby is the first person who received an official designation of gender neutrality. The High Court of Australia decided last Wednesday that it is now possible to be registered as neither women nor men.(1) “Non- specific” is now the official appellation for Intersex- people who don´t want to belong to one sex.(2) May- Welby claimed through all instances for hir(3) right to be a neuter. Norrie was born as man but in 1983 decided to do a surgery to become a woman. After the surgery she still did not feel comfortable and so declared hirself as neuter. (4) The court’s decision opens a new perspective for intersex people. Norrie got an official registration card for New South Wales with the description “sex not specified”. Now zie is fighting to get an international passport with the same description. May- Welby explains that a declaration as men or women would not be the truth because her physical appearance is a mix and therefore a legal problem would arise (5) :

“If I need to show identity documents, I certainly don’t want details that are false, for this will only cause trouble when officials realise I don’t match my documents. Those concepts, man or woman, just don’t fit me, they are not my actual reality, and, if applied to me, they are fiction. “(6)

The Organisation Intersex International (OII) defines Intersex people as persons who are born with biological sex characteristics, including hormonal, genetic or anatomical differences that are not typically female or male. That means that intersex is not about gender identity but about biology. (7)

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy & Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, said in a statement, that the Australian Court´s decision was of great importance. According to her, birth certificates and other identity documents are an important foundation to equal rights before the law for Intersex people.(8)

“Sex and gender diverse people face problems every day accessing services and facilities that most Australians can use without thinking twice. It’s essential that our legal systems accurately reflect and accommodate the reality of sex and gender diversity that exists in our society, and the High Court has taken an enormous leap today in achieving that goal.” (9)(Anna Brown)

The case of Norrie May- Welby shows a step in the right direction and brings the topic of Intersex people in the media. I hope that other countries will follow Australia´s example and make create equal laws for genderless persons.


(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/18/norrie-may-welby-the-worl_n_502851.html [06.04.2014]

(2) http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2014-04/australien-neutrales-geschlecht-norrie [06.04.2014]

(3) In an interview May- Walby said that she wants to be called “hir” (for her/his), and “zie” for “he/she”.  

(4) http://diestandard.at/2000001057989/Oberstes-Gerichterlaubt-dritte-Geschlechtsangabe [06.04.2014]

(5) http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2010-03/geschlecht-adrogyn [06.04.2014]

(6) http://www.genderacrossborders.com/2010/03/16/sex-not-specified-victory-for-norrie-may-welby/ [07.04.2014]

(7) http://oiiinternational.com/ [07.04.2014]

(8) http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/national/norrie-ruling-high-court-recognises-third-category-of-non-specific-gender-13457.html [07.04.2014]

(9) http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/national/norrie-ruling-high-court-recognises-third-category-of-non-specific-gender-13457.html [07.04.2014]

Polyandry and knowing about different perspectives

Polygamy is something everyone has heard about. But what’s about Polyandry? This form of marriage where a woman has several husbands is a really unknown phenomenon, which was or eventually still is common in the Himalaya-Region (especially Tibet), some parts of India or Africa. [1] However even in Europe and North America existed cases of Polyandry. [2]

In the Himalaya-Region this tradition is explained with the reason of limiting descendants (reducing the reproductive capacity of women) and the scarce land resources. Often brothers are getting engaged with the same woman (= fraternal Polyandry [3] ) and therefore are able to nourish the family and land. [1] There are also explanations which see the origin of the tradition in an unequal number of women and men. [2] Marriages are often still arranged, however as the video and text bellow show, some women are happy with their situation:



Of course there are also discussions about the definitions and differentiations of Polyandry and similar traditions (depending on the definitions of marriage and men’s rights, See more: [1] ). I discovered also the term “Cicisbeism”, a sexual alliance between a woman and a man (in addition to her husband), who is choosen by the woman and existed (still exists?) in Nigeria. However even this phenomena is explained by economic/security reasons. [4]

Finally I also found an interesting article of the newspaper “Zeit” about women today and why women are actually not that fond of monogamic relationships although society pressures them to be:


I personally found it really interesting, not only to get to know a little bit about Polyandry and different perspectives about the relationships of women and men existing in other cultures, but I wondered also how little is said and known about those issues! In my opinion Gender (In)Equality is connected deeply to the knowledge of Gender issues and perspectives.


[1] Lukas, Schindler, Stockinger (1997). Interaktives Online-Glossar: Ehe, Heirat und Familie. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://www.univie.ac.at/ksa/cometh/glossar/heirat/ida.htm

[2] Klüter, M. (1997). Eine Frau und viele Ehemänner – Die Polyandrie oder Vielmännerehe. In Bertels (Hrsg.) (1997). Mutterbruder und Kreuzcousine: Einblicke in das Familienleben fremder Kulturen. Münster: Waxmann. p. 59; 60.

[3] Lukas, Schindler, Stockinger (1997). Interaktives Online-Glossar: Ehe, Heirat und Familie. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://www.univie.ac.at/ksa/cometh/glossar/heirat/idab.htm

[4]Kurian, G.(1980). Abstract. Journal of Comparative Family Studies. Vol. 11, No. 3, 1980. Retrieved April 6, 2014, fromhttp://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/41601141?uid=3737528&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103807895047


International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance

Scarcely I found this video and I’m still speechless…
The video is from UNMAS (http://www.mineaction.org/unmas) and shows the work of Betty, a deminer in South Sudan, a country which has been ravaged by war.
Betty’s community is one plagued with fear, and everyday, Betty sifts through the land for any trace of a mine just waiting to kill or injure an innocent life.

I’m favourably impressed by Betty.
Till now I didn’t deal with this theme but it gives me food for thought.

How do you like the video?

Women in the Syrian War

In every war and in all societies women are the untold victims. Women are kidnapped, raped and murderd during the war. While they escape they loose their husbands and parents. They disappear and nobody care where they have gone.

Especially the situation for the women in the refugee camps are even more dangerous. 74 % of the refuees in camps across the boarder of Syria are women and childen. Women are being sold to rich sheikhs in Arab countries or used as sex workers. In Jordan’s refugee camps there is also a thriving sex trade and even the camp’s security guards take the offer to pay for the girls. There are also short-term marriages for the Islamic militants who can do with the women whatever they want. If they get tired of the woman he can divorce her and leave her without anything.

On the other side many women have joined the Kurdish YPG militias to fight against Islamic terrorists also in other parts of Syria and has established an all-female force, named the “Lionesses for National Defense”.But apart from that the majority of women are suffering from the war in Syria.