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JoopeA News > Money Seems to Matter for Teen Girls, Condoms Teen girls whose primary source of spending money comes from their boyfriends are less likely to use condoms, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

teenagers and condomsResearchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine obtained data from an HIV prevention study that included 715 African-American teen girls in the Atlanta area.

Almost a quarter of the females (ages 15 to 22) attending family-planning centers said their primary source of spending money was from their boyfriends, rather than from their parents or grandmothers or jobs. The teens were 10 percent more likely not to have used condoms in the previous 60 days.

Few girls reported using other methods of contraception, researchers said, and girls whose boyfriends owned cars were also about 50 percent more likely to not use condoms than those whose boyfriends did not own cars.

"After matching the groups on over 75 characteristics, the teens whose primary source of spending money was their boyfriend were still 50 percent more likely not to use condoms, and they were less likely to respond to the HIV prevention intervention," said Janet Rosenbaum, lead author of the study and research faculty at the Maryland Population Research Center in College Park.

Women with less relationship bargaining power -- and hence limited ability to insist on safe sex -- are particularly at risk of condom nonuse, the authors wrote.

In a way, these girls are trading unsafe sex for money, Rosenbaum said, even though most of them reported being in long-term and monogamous relationships.

"Medical interventions alone will not cure or solve the problem of nonuse of condoms," said Dr. Paula Hillard, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford School of Medicine. "We need societal changes and changes in the messages we provide to adolescent girls. … We need to provide alternative messages about power and self-efficacy that will counter the tendency to succumb to coercive relationships and unsafe sex."

To counter these societal norms, Rosenbaum said clinicians must consider teens' economic circumstances when conducting safe sex interventions.

"Teens may act unwisely in order to meet their material needs and wants," Rosenbaum said. "Interventions and clinicians may need to concentrate not just on safe sex behavior but also on helping teens to evaluate their needs versus wants."

Plan B, the emergency contraception pill that can be taken up to 72 hours after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancies, has made headlines as experts debate whether young teens should have access to it. But even with access, experts said, this would only be a drop in the bucket when it comes to preventing teen pregnancies altogether, particularly in the most underserved communities.

One solution would be to increase their trust of contraceptive methods that could not be detected or easily sabotaged by their partners such as intrauterine devices (IUD/IUS) or contraceptive injections to prevent pregnancy, at least, Rosenbaum said.

"Increased access to contraception including Plan B is always helpful for disadvantaged populations, but it's not enough," Rosenbaum added.

"The best solution would be economic empowerment for these girls and their families, so that they do not rely on their boyfriends for spending money and use condoms consistently. "

Source: ABC News

+ | by Admin | On: February 29, 2012 | At: 02:32 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > In India, a 'Blame the Victim' Mentality When the West Bengal sports minister, Madan Mitra, offered his opinion of the character of a woman who was raped after leaving a Kolkata nightclub, he joined a long line of Indian officials who appear happy to blame the victim.

“She has two children, and so far as I know, she is separated from her husband,” Mr. Mitra said on a national television show. “What was she doing at a nightclub so late at night?”

The woman had reported being raped in a moving car by a group of men, two of whom she had met at the nightclub. Over the next week, the news media would excoriate Mr. Mitra, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the police for their apparent willingness to discredit her. The men in the Kolkata case have since been arrested.

But Mr. Mitra’s willingness to suggest that the woman’s presence at a nightclub was in some way an invitation to rape, or Ms. Banerjee’s initial insistence that the victim’s story was a “fabrication,” was hardly new. In 2011, the chief of the Delhi police, B.K. Gupta, suggested that women should take their “brother or driver” along if they wanted to be out late at night.

Also last year, Dinesh Reddy, director general of the police in the state of Andhra Pradesh, said: “Fashionable dresses worn by women, even in rural areas, are among the factors leading to an increase in rape cases. The police have no control over this matter.”

The Karnataka state minister for women and child welfare, C.C. Patil, had expressed similar views, suggesting that women who work in information technology firms and call centers “ought to know how much skin to cover when leaving such workplaces.” (Mr. Patil recently resigned after he and some colleagues were discovered watching pornography on their cellphones during a session of the state legislative assembly.)

“If the woman victim can be held responsible for her dress or the late hours at which she is out, it is easier for officials to say that rape happens to women of bad character and loose morals,” said a female police officer in Delhi who asked not to be identified because she could be suspended for criticizing her department. “But that is not the reality of rape inIndia. Poor women are at the greatest risk of being raped. Also, most rapists are known to the victim. Dress and character have nothing to do with it.”

Data from the National Crime Records Bureau on crimes against women for 2010 record that victims knew their attackers in 97.3 percent of reported rapes.

Even accepting that the bureau defines “known to the victim” in the broadest sense, to include remote acquaintances, the figures are revealing. Parents and other close family members were involved in 1.3 percent of the cases, other relatives were involved in 6.2 percent and neighbors in 36.2 percent. As many Indian women are aware, home and neighborhood are by no means safe spaces.

For women in the state of Madhya Pradesh, caste is a far more significant factor than what clothes they wear. According to figures cited in the state assembly, 1,217 gang rapes were reported between 2003 and 2007. About 672 of the victims were from the disadvantaged Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, reflecting a statewide pattern of violence directed by upper castes against lower castes.

For women from the Dalit, formerly “untouchable,” community, sexual violence is often an inescapable part of their lives. In a 2006 survey of 500 Dalit women in four states, 116 of the women surveyed said they had been raped; an additional 234 had experienced sexual harassment or assault. In January in Maharashtra, a Dalit widow was stripped, tied to a tree and beaten after her son eloped with an upper-caste girl, by members of the girl’s family. This kind of retributive crime, by the powerful against the weak, is reported in many Indian states.

A third broad area of risk concerns women in areas beset by insurgency. As far back as 1993, Asia Watch commented on women’s vulnerability: “Women in the custody of security forces are at risk of rape. Rape has also been widely reported during counterinsurgency operations.”

For instance, human rights advocates have documented numerous cases of sexual violence against women by security forces in Kashmir, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. Convictions are rare. The use of rape to punish women in insurgency-ridden areas is seldom mentioned in more general debates on rape, even though this is one more case of the powerful casting sexual abuse as justified by the victim’s actions or status.

Last July, a 16-year-old tribal girl, Meena Khalkho, was caught in the cross-fire between the police and what were said to have been Naxalite rebels in Chhattisgarh. Her family says she was visiting friends; the police say she was a Naxalite. The post-mortem report showed signs of rape as well as gunshot wounds.

An inquiry is still under way. But this month, the state’s home minister, Nankiram Kanwar, said that Ms. Khalkho might have been a Naxalite — a charge her family denies — and explained her injuries by saying the medical report showed that Ms. Khalkho had “habitual sexual contact.”

“Why wasn’t she home at 2:15 a.m.?” the minister reportedly asked.

Whether it involves the ordeal of a woman who visited a Kolkata nightclub or the death of a girl in Chhattisgarh, the questions victims of sexual violence face seem to be the same.

Source: New York Times

+ | by Admin | On: February 29, 2012 | At: 02:03 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Harvard group seeks degrees for expelled gays Students and faculty at Harvard University are calling on the school to award posthumous degrees to seven students expelled nearly a century ago for being gay or perceived as gay, and they're timing a rally for their cause to coincide with a visit by Lady Gaga.

But Harvard says it doesn't award posthumous degrees, except in rare cases where students complete academic requirements but die before degrees have been conferred.

The university apologized a decade ago, after a student reporter found a file marked "secret court" in the university archives and wrote about the expulsions.

"In 2002, the University expressed its deep regret for the way the situation was handled as well as for the anguish experienced by the students and their families almost a century ago," Harvard spokesman John Longbrake said in a statement.

But some say the apology isn't enough and it's important for Harvard to confer honorary degrees.

"It's not reparations, it's more of a gesture to the present LGBT community that this university has cemented its values on the right side of history and it's willing to address - not just put in the past - the aberrations of the 1920s," said Jonas Wang, a 21-year-old transgender student. "You can say that the people of the court were the victims of their own culture, but this is something we are addressing in the present."

A group of students and faculty members plan a rally during a campus visit by Lady Gaga, who will be at Harvard on Wednesday to launch her Born This Way anti-bullying foundation. The singer has been a strong activist for the gay community.

The group wants Harvard to formally abolish the secret court, a tribunal of administrators that investigated charges of homosexual activity among students at the Ivy League school in 1920. The tribunal remained a secret for decades and only became public in 2002 after the report in the Harvard Crimson magazine.

More than 2,700 people have signed a petition on Change.org urging Harvard to confer the honorary degrees, and organizers plan to deliver the petition to Harvard President Drew Faust's office after the rally.

Lady Gaga's new foundation, named after her 2011 hit song and album, will address issues such as self-confidence, well-being and anti-bullying through research, education and advocacy. The singer is expected to be joined by Oprah Winfrey, spiritual leader Deepak Chopra and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during Wednesday's kickoff event.

"Given the Born This Way Foundation's commitment to this mission and their choice to launch their foundation at Harvard, we felt like this was an opportunity to ask for their support and would hope they would join us in asking Harvard to do the right thing here and help seek justice for these students," said Kaia Stern, a visiting faculty member at Harvard who plans to attend the rally.

In 2002, former Harvard President Lawrence Summers called the episode "abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university."

"I want to express our deep regret for the way this situation was handled, as well as the anguish the students and their families must have experienced eight decades ago," Summers said in a 2002 statement to The Harvard Crimson newspaper.

The Harvard tribunal began its investigation after student Cyril Wilcox committed suicide in his Fall River home in May 1920. Wilcox was having academic problems and had been asked to leave Harvard.

When Wilcox's brother, George, informed the acting dean of the college, Chester Greenough, of Cyril's suicide, he passed on letters that left no doubt that Cyril was part of a group of gay men at Harvard.

After consulting with Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell, Greenough convened a group of administrators to gather evidence.

The expelled students, including the son of former U.S. Rep. Ernest William Roberts, were told to leave the Harvard campus - and Cambridge - immediately.

One student, Eugene Cummings, 23, committed suicide at Harvard's infirmary after he was questioned by the tribunal.

A student movement called "Their Day in the Yard" was founded in 2010 to urge the university to grant the honorary degrees to the students expelled in 1920.

Source: AP

+ | by Admin | On: February 29, 2012 | At: 00:25 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > “Unforgettable Butterflies”, Women resistance movement of Iran a group of women activist inside Iran celebrate the International Day against Violence against Women by sending a statement on this occasion. In this message, they expressed their concerns about the widespread violence against women in Iran and criticized the confrontational and hostile policies, domestic and international, adopted in this regard by the officials and the government of Iran. Among the signatories of this statement one finds the name of activists from a broad spectrum of society, women like Minou Mortazi, Shahla Lahigi, Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipoor, Raskhshan Bani-Etemad, Farzaneh Taheri, Firouzeh Saber, Farideh Mashini, Elaheh Mojaradi, Noushin Ahmadi Khorasssani, Nargess Mohammadi, Jila Bani Yaghoub, Fatemeh Govaraii, Taherhe Taleghani, Banafsheh Hejazi, Shahrbanoo Amani, Nahid Tavasoli, and Maasoumeh Dehgha.

The International Day against Violence against Women is observed on the anniversary day of the “Unforgettable Butterflies” of the Dominican Republic, when three sisters, the Mirables, were killed in the struggle against the dictatorship in their country. It was this heartbreaking incident that caused the United Nations to designate one day for publicising opposition to violence against the women the world over. We Iranian women also have many “unforgettable butterflies” in our civil nonviolent resistance Movement, such as Parvaneh Eskandary, Haleh Sahabi, and Neda Agha Soltan, our three generations of Unforgettable Butterflies, who were victims of brutal violence that is blazing more heatedly today.

For almost two decades women activists have been struggling to tame the flame of violence. But unfortunately not only could we not have the support of our governing bodies, statesmen and politicians, but with implementation of unwise and male chauvinistic policies, domestic violence is extended to the public domain and the judiciary and now it has become a legal institution against the women, turning into legal violence against women. For example, while the excessive cases of sexual violence, rape, and female homicide should have given a mandate to our statesmen to pass laws to keep women from being the victim of such crime, unfortunately, the verbal abuse in some of the statements directed against women and immoral comments about them justified and even encouraged it. Instead of finding a workable solution to amend the rights of the citizens, the statesmen preferred to turn the tables on the women and blame them as the main cause of all the the country's problems and crises. To prove their point, instead of finding a remedy for existing gender inequality in civil and family laws, they even create more painful conditions for women, even regarding basic rights such as divorce, that makes them to turn to violence towards their family, thus making themselves into a tool of perpetuating violence.

In order to ameliorate and ultimately come up with a solution for any problem, the economic planners and strategists, by adopting a false policy and misallocation of resources for a special class, not only do not solve the problem, but marginalize the issue. Prostitution, with all the problem attached to it, such as the daily mounting numbers of younger and younger minors turning to this profession, is the direct result of poverty and addiction. It would seem that creating financial support, jobs and professional opportunities, equal opportunity for all or even affirmative action should have been a top priority to provide an honorable source of income for them. However, in reality none of these programs is on the government's agenda.

we see that some authorities, instead of finding a solution for preventing violence and removing the various social and economical difficulties against the women, very superficially have turned the women's dress code into an excuse for more violence against them. Unfortunately, not only do these kinds of misdirected policies not decrease violence against women, but they even spread the violence to the most inner corners of personal and social life and let its dark shadows fall ultimately over the lives of innocent children who are the most vulnerable segment of society.

The flames of violence which burns the heart of our society is rooted on the one hand in inequality and hostile gender confrontations existing in our educational and our public domain, and on the another hand in the hostile confrontation of our culture and our country with the international community. It is as if the confrontation and hostility --- that re-produces the violence in itself——is preferred by our male-dominated politics over the policy of employing dialogue and cooperation which in its depth breeds tolerance and peace. They separate men from women in order to maintain purity and prevent sin while in reality morality and humanity flourish only within a society based on cooperation, equality, and full responsibility. They isolate Iranians from the rest of world just to keep them immune from the maladies of international culture, while it is only in conjunction with others that a native culture becomes resistant and flourishing.

Today, by polarizing political discourse, domestic as well as international, and by adding fuel to the confrontational atmosphere, not only is the women's issue marginalized, but violence is extended to children as well. It is under this condition that we, the women activists in Iran, more than any other time, are concerned about the increasing violence against the women and children. In our opinion, under present conditions, there are three essential forces that are able to facilitate and decrease the confrontations existing in this polarized situation: various groups of people in Iran, the ruling government, and international community. In all these three forces there exists the potential of violence as well as the capacity of establishing a dialogue. That is why we, the women, on the occasion of the International Day against Violence against Women ask all statesmen to hear our plea and our warning, instead of turning to hostile and violent polarization, to emphasis dialogue and cooperation among these three forces. Undoubtedly, we should distance ourselves from polarized discourse that is based on vindication or right and wrong and focus on cooperation and dialogue both on the domestic and the international levels.

We hope that our present crisis would end to a peaceful conclusion through a dialogue and cooperation among these three forces. We believe that the eventual solution to all our problems will be resulted from the ending the hostile confrontation, respect to the rights of citizens especially women and children, dialogue between the ruling government and the authorities with international community, and respect to international laws and custom and norms which are the result of human experiences.

We also need to have a transparent dialogue and negotiation with the representatives and leadership of the existing social and political movements. We also need to create and maintain a safe and secure society by releasing the leadership of the Green Movement from house arrest, freeing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, especially the women and mothers, and providing a secure environment for all of them to resume their activity freely, and, finally, by opening up the space for civil societies to form. Undoubtedly, providing a suitable humane way of life, away from violence, for women and children, our country's future generations not only depends on constructive plans but needs peaceful and tolerant methods, on the domestic as well as international level, to fulfill them.

source: The Feminist School

+ | by Admin | On: February 29, 2012 | At: 00:09 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Pope: marriage only place 'worthy' for conception Pope Benedict XVI has called on infertile couples to shun artificial procreation, saying such methods are a form of arrogance.

PopeBenedict spoke Saturday at the end of a three-day Vatican conference on diagnosing and treating infertility. Reiterating Vatican teaching, he called marriage the only permissible place to conceive children.

Benedict also pressed a church ban against artificial procreation. He said infertile couples should resist resorting to any method to try to conceive other than sex between husband and wife.

He says the drive for profit as well as "arrogance" seem to dominate the field of infertility and warned against what he called the "fascination of artificial procreation technology."

Source: AP

+ | by Admin | On: February 26, 2012 | At: 00:35 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Gay Texas Judge Refuses to Perform Marriage Ceremonies Texas Judge Tonya Parker cannot legally marry a woman in her state, so she refuses to perform any marriage ceremonies until there is equality. She finds it "oxymoronic" to perform a ceremony that cannot be performed for her.

Tonya ParkerParker, an openly gay judge, told a group at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday that when she turns a couple away, she uses it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson about marriage equality.

"I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality and until it does, I'm not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn't apply to another group of people," Parker said in a video of the Tuesday discussion. "And it's kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so I'm not going to do it."

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the commission had no comment.

Parker is the first LGBT person elected as a judge in Dallas County and she is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state's history, according to the Dallas Voice.

Parker described examples of discrimination in the courtroom that she has seen and been able to stop.

She once heard a case involving a man who allegedly molested a young boy in which a participant used the terms "homosexual" and "child molester" interchangeably.

"When a man molests a little girl, people don't call him heterosexual," Parker said in the video. "So, when this man molests this little boy, assuming [the] allegations to be true, you are not going to stand in my courtroom and call him a homosexual."

Another example she gave was the Texas Supreme Court's jury instruction that dictates that jurors cannot discuss cases with their husbands or wives.

"Well, I might have modified it a little bit," Parker said to her audience. "And I said, 'Do not discuss this case with your husband, your wife or your partner.'"

She said these are small ways of making her point but she believes it is important to go out of her way to do things that others in the LGBT community might not be able to do because they are not in her position of power.

"I want to help those folks to have dignity, in that moment that they are with me, to know that I see you," she said. "I see you."

Parker wrote in an emailed statement that performing marriage ceremonies is not her duty as a judge, but, rather, "a right and privilege" that she chooses not to exercise.

"I do not, and would never, impede any person's right to get married," Parker wrote. "In fact, when people wander into my courtroom, usually while I am presiding over other matters, I direct them to the judges in the courthouse who do perform marriage ceremonies.

"I do this because I believe in the right of people to marry and pursue happiness," she wrote.

Parker has said in the video that her goal as a judge is to "make sure laws are applied equally to everyone who comes to court and that we take the opportunity to put issues on people's radar's that might not otherwise be there."

Seven states allow gay marriage and Maryland would become next one if the governor signs recently passed bill, as he has promised to do next week.

Source: ABC News

+ | by Admin | On: February 25, 2012 | At: 00:16 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > White House hosts policy briefing for Black LGBT emerging leaders The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has partnered with the Obama Administration, the National Black Justice Coalition and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in a White House policy briefing for black LGBT emerging leaders today.

“People of color face unique obstacles in the fight for LGBT equality,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “HRC is committed to working with LGBT leaders in the African-American community during Black History month and throughout the year in our fight for LGBT equality and social justice.”

“Now more than ever before, black LGBT people are taking the lead in the movement for LGBT equality,” said Donna Payne, HRC Associate Director of Diversity. “The struggle may be different for people of color, but we are all in the fight together. That is why HRC’s work in the African-American community is vitally important.”

HRC’s work in the African-American community includes the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program which launched in 2000 after a rash of anti-LGBT violence on two HBCU campuses. HRC holds an annual HBCU Leadership and Development Summit focusing on giving students the skills to be authentic leaders on campus and offers career development for entering the work force. The organization also partners with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) as part of its support for HBCU campuses. HRC’s partnership with UNCF is an ongoing initiative to address and recommend supportive policy and strategy changes posed by the presence of LGBT students, faculty and staff on HBCU campuses.

In Maryland, staff from the HRC Religion and Faith program helped develop the African American Clergy and People of Faith Coalition, a diverse group of clergy and lay leaders working in congregations and communities to gain support for marriage equality.

As a part of HRC’s ‘coming out’ campaign, a guide to coming out for the African-American community has been published for seven years. The guide includes sections on coming out in the workplace, in your Sorority or Fraternity, and in church. A copy of the guide is available HERE.

“As both the Black and LGBT communities make progress in the fight for social justice, it is important that we embrace each other. HRC will continue to support the African American community, and embrace our black LGBT sisters and brothers,” Payne said.

More information on the policy briefing is available at HERE.

To learn more about HRC’s HBCU program, click HERE.

Source: SDGLN

+ | by Admin | On: February 25, 2012 | At: 00:12 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Gay Marriage Close to Legal in Maryland Gay marriage is all but legalized in Maryland after the legislature gave its final OK Thursday to the law that's being sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who said he expects to sign it sometime this week.

The state Senate voted 25-22 for the law. The vote comes less than a week after the House of Delegates barely passed the measure.

Maryland will become the eighth state to allow gay marriage when O'Malley — who sponsored the bill — signs the legislation. The Democrat made the measure a priority this session after it stalled last year.

"This issue has taken a lot of energy, as well it should, and I'm very proud of the House of Delegates and also the Senate for resolving this issue on the side of human dignity, and I look forward to signing the bill," O'Malley said in a brief interview after the Senate vote.

Opponents, though, have vowed to bring the measure to referendum in November. They will need to gather at least 55,726 valid signatures of Maryland voters to put it on the ballot and can begin collecting names now that the bill has passed both chambers.

Some churches and clergy members have spoken out against the bill, saying it threatens religious freedoms and violates their tradition of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"The enormous public outcry that this legislation has generated — voiced by Marylanders that span political, racial, social and religious backgrounds — demonstrates a clear need to take this issue to a vote of the people," Maryland Catholic Conference spokeswoman Kathy Dempsey said in a statement. "Every time this issue has been brought to a statewide vote, the people have upheld traditional marriage."


"There remains a lot of work to do between now and November to make marriage equality a reality in Maryland," Joe Solmonese, HRC president said in a statement released Thursday. "Along with coalition partners, we look forward to educating and engaging voters about what this bill does: It strengthens all Maryland families and protects religious liberty."Leaders at the Human Rights Campaign, a group that joined a coalition of organizations to advocate for the bill, said they expect opponents will gather the required number of signatures.

Senators rejected some amendments to the legislation Thursday. Proponents warned that amending the bill could kill it because gathering enough support for altered legislation in the House would be difficult.

Last year senators passed a similar measure by 25-21, but the bill died in the House after delegates rescinded their initial support citing concerns that it could violate religious liberties of churches and business owners who do not support same-sex unions.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, the only Senate Republican to vote in favor of the legislation, said he is proud of his decision and not concerned about political consequences down the road.

"You don't worry about politics when you're dealing with the civil rights issue of your generation," said Kittleman, R-Howard, the son of the late Sen. Robert Kittleman, who was known for civil rights advocacy.

Christy and Marie Neff, who married in Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010, stood outside the Senate chamber Thursday evening as crowds surrounded O'Malley and other key supporters.

The couple, who lives in Annapolis, has lobbied lawmakers to support the bill in recent years.

"This is our victory and we're going to savor this because you can only really jump one hurdle at a time," Christy Neff said. "So we're going to savor this and then if they bring it to referendum, we'll match that effort with the same sort of effort we did today."

Source: ABC News

+ | by Admin | On: February 24, 2012 | At: 03:23 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Gay in the army A recent report of homophobia and harassment of a gay Canadian soldier in Afghanistan has one military observer warning the incident is just the tip of the iceberg.

gay soldiersOn Jan 30, Warrant Officer Andrew McLean told the CBC he found a note on his workstation at Kandahar Airfield that threatened his life because he is gay.

The note said, “You are gay. Because of this minus 2,” the metric equivalent of “six feet under,” McLean told the CBC.

He reported the threat to officials and was relocated. A full investigation into the incident couldn’t be launched because it is not known who wrote the note, officials told the CBC.

Former soldier Carl Bouchard says that while it’s disappointing to hear of homophobic threats being made in the military, he isn’t surprised.

Bouchard was in the infantry from 1994 to 2000. He says he didn’t see any overt gaybashing, but his colleagues would use homophobic slurs against weaker soldiers.

“In a platoon of 30 to 120 [soldiers], there’s always one or two guys that don’t fit in for some reason,” he says, noting he witnessed harassment based on race and physical weakness, though not sexuality.

Bouchard attributes much of the harassment he saw to the hyper-masculine culture of the military.

“It’s pretty much a guys’ world,” he says.

Most of the soldiers are tough young men, and the first phase of training, basic training and battle school, strives to make you tougher, he says. “That’s where they have these courses to weed out the weak.

“If somebody is the weak link in the family or the chain, well, after a while you’re sick of doing pushups with this guy,” he says. “The first thing is you try to help him, then after a while, you turn negative on the guy.”

It’s a macho environment to begin with, and when battle stress, mental fatigue and paranoia are factored in, things can get out of control, Bouchard says.

“Not to disgust you, but I’ve seen things where guys throw urine and feces and semen,” he says. “It’s crazy what 30 guys together for six months will do.”

Laurentian University professor Gary Kinsman says basic military principles and structure are at the root of heterosexist attitudes.

The military has historically been a male-dominated, hierarchical and “masculinist” institution, he says. One product of a masculinist attitude is the association of male sexuality with extreme hostility, especially toward those men and women who don’t fit in, including lesbians and gays, he says.

“We’re actually talking about very dangerous situations for women in general, but also for anyone who’s openly identified as being queer, whether they are or not,” he says.

McLean found the threatening note in September, right around the time the United States government overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the US military.

The end of DADT was big news in the US, but Canada has allowed gays and lesbians in the military for almost 20 years.

In 1989, Michelle Douglas was discharged from the Canadian military for being a lesbian. She challenged her dismissal, claiming her Charter rights were violated. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in her favour, overturning the ban on lesbians and gays in the military.

Kinsman wrote a legal affidavit at the time arguing that the military wouldn’t crumble if gays and lesbians were allowed to join, he says.

A study conducted in 2000 at the University of California found that the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Canadian military did not, in fact, affect military performance. It further found that none of the 905 assault cases reported between 1992 and 1995 involved gaybashing or could be linked to sexual orientation.

On Feb 12 the Canadian Forces (CF) implemented guidelines for commanders and supervisors on preventing discrimination and harassment toward transgender soldiers in the workplace and meeting the special requirements of those who are transitioning, according to online documents.

“CF transsexual members are a valued and integral part of the CF and have the same rights as any other person to work in a harassment-free workplace,” the document states.

“I truly believe it’s not as bad as it was when I was there, and it’s getting better year by year,” Bouchard says.

He says soldiers have access to more support now than they did 10 years ago. “There’s more channels than there were if [soldiers] need to speak to somebody,” he says.

A gay member of the Canadian Forces says harassment can be dealt with on a few different levels.

The member, who asked to remain anonymous because of CF rules that prohibit active personnel from speaking to media, says that depending on the group’s dynamic, the issue can sometimes be resolved between colleagues. If the issue persists or is more serious, the victim of harassment can go to a superior to seek his or her intervention or can ask for neutral third-party mediation.

If the issue is very serious, there is a formal complaint process. An investigation could result in corrective remedies, such as the harasser being charged or assigned to more sensitivity training, or the victim of harassment might be relocated.

The military source says that in every unit, soldiers can seek support from a harassment advisor, the chaplain or any person in a position of responsibility. Full-time soldiers can access free counselling through military health services, and all soldiers and their families have access to a short-term confidential support service called the Member Assistance Program.

Despite these procedures, the military source says most people don’t report homophobia unless it creates a toxic environment or is a serious threat, as in McLean’s case.

This can be attributed to the “tough-guy” attitude Bouchard refers to, but often it’s just easier to try to brush it off, the source says. For example, if a soldier is on a short-term assignment and faces a discriminatory colleague, it may not be worthwhile to complain.

The source has witnessed only a few incidents of harassment but says colleagues often use homophobic language: “You’ve got to let some things slide.”

Though there have been significant reforms to the military, including the acceptance of lesbians and gays, Kinsman says nothing has been done to change the character of the military.

“Rather than doing any popular education or talking to people in the military about lesbians and gays, they basically decided to simply deal with [harassment against gays and lesbians] as a disciplinary measure,” he says.

Formal disciplinary measures are one way of responding to harassment, but they do little to address informal discrimination or change attitudes, he says.

Harassment is treated as an individual problem. In McLean’s case, the remedy was to relocate the victim of harassment, rather than address the issue on a larger scale.

Formal equality measures have allowed gays and lesbians to enter the military, but they must still assimilate into the male-dominated culture, Kinsman says.

As a result, gay and lesbian soldiers aren’t always comfortable being open about their sexuality.

“Probably at least two guys came out when I was there,” says Bouchard. “The thing is, for these guys it takes a long time to be comfortable. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Kinsman says that even after the military officially recognized spousal rights in the 1990s, many gays and lesbians refused to identify their partners.

“They feared the military would now have a list, and therefore if they ever decided to take action or there was a regression in policy, they would know who to come after,” he says.

In some ways, cases like McLean’s show the limitations of the strategies of the gay rights movement, Kinsman says. Seeking inclusion in major institutions like marriage or the military without transforming them doesn’t create queer-friendly spaces, he says. “We need to go a lot further than that.”

Kinsman says McLean’s story is one of the first occasions where someone has come forward and confirmed what has long been said to be the reality for gays and lesbians in the military.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface there’s a lot more instances of violence and harassment,” he says. 

Source: Xtra

+ | by Admin | On: February 24, 2012 | At: 02:59 | Comments (0)
JoopeA News > Internet to Intranet in Iran Periodic disconnections for short moments plus Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail and all SSL websites being inaccessible, improved theories that the IRI government is going to unplug internet in Iran soon.

There was no access to any foreign hosted websites for Iranian users on Sunday from 11:40pm in local time for less than an hour except Wikipedia and Bing search engine.

Users couldn’t access their Webmails and all SSL web address as well on Sat and Mon for all day long.

“Internet is a treat to IRI regime.” Intelligence service minister Mr Salehi said on Tue.

This assessment had many bad feedbacks from politicians in IRI parliament and the government itself.

“Internet is not a instrument of treat, Internet is the treat itself.” Deputy Minister of IRI Intelligence service said two days ago with no attendtion to all feedbacks from other politicians.

Many of authorities talked about having National Intranet instead of internet in Iran recently but none of them explained what the limitations are of “Halal internet” and “Clean Internet”.

“Connecting to internet should be as less as necessity” Ahmadi Moghdam the chief of IRI Police forces said. But he didn’t mention what “necessity point” is, neither.

Through all this all Iranians are worry about the internet situation in Iran because internet is the only way they can access to information free of censorship.

+ | by Admin | On: February 22, 2012 | At: 05:03 | Comments (0)

 

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