Tag Archives: Foeticide

Celebrating women’s rights, human rights

2 Dec

November 25. This day marked the beginning of the celebration of the 16 days of activism worldwide. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign that was started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991. The 16 Days runs from November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women (VAW) to December 10, International Human Rights Day, to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women students were massacred by a lone gun-man opposed to the affirmative action policies promoted by feminists at the University of Montreal.

I attended an international conference at New Delhi, India from November 21-29 which is the Oxfam International Youth Partnership (OIYP) Kaleidoscope 2010 organized by Oxfam International, an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 99 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. OIYP is a global network of young people who share a vision of a just world and are committed to working for peaceful, equitable and sustainable social change within their communities.

To show our support to this campaign, I together with my “Gender group” went to Jahangeer Puri, North Delhi, as part of our community visit during the conference. There we joined the Action India, a group of feminists who campaign against foeticide, and its men and women allies who marched to fight for their rights, celebrate the lives of newly born babies and honor the mothers who fought for the right of their baby girls to be born.

In India, foeticide has been practiced as part of their culture of which female foetuses are being selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus avoiding the birth of girls. Female foeticide is an extreme manifestation of violence against women. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000. This connotes that the killing of women exists in various forms in societies all over the world. The Indian society pictures practices unique and particularly brutal versions among women which include dowry deaths (bride-burning) and sati (Hindu custom in India in which the widow was burnt to ashes on her dead husband’s pyre).

Seeing a group of men and women who marched together toward this cause was very inspiring. I may not know much about these customs in India but it is very clear that these are just but one of the many ways of which women’s rights are being violated and that those women are seen “menaces” in the society instead of being “part” of the society they thrive in.

November 26. Action partners from the Latin America initiated the “Light a candle to end Violence Against Women”. APs who are gender advocates from the different countries of the world joined the activity at the lobby of the Centaur Hotel, New Delhi. We convened to show our strong opposition on the abuses and violence suffered by women in different societies with different cultural practices.

We formed a circle while we pray for all the victim-survivors of abuses as we light up our candles. We echoed our support toward ending violence against women. I stepped up in the center of the circle, lift my lighted candle and prayed for all the victim-survivors of prostitution, domestic and intimate relationship violence, sexual abuses and harassments, killings and other forms of violence, and expressed my oneness to all the LGBTQs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queers), and men and women who are all working towards the same cause.

This simple activity unlocked the door toward understanding the different forms of violence under different contexts. It made us further realize that in this kind of inequality happening in our respective communities, women are the most disadvantaged. There enters our role to be their voices to be heard and their hands to be reached.
November 28. This day marked the celebration of the Third Queer Pride Parade. A large number of queer people, along with the ‘straight but not narrow’ allies of the queer community (and I belong to this ) came all together to celebrate the dignity and rights of sexually marginalized people all across India and the world.

The event was not just a celebration among the queer community. It was also an avenue to protest against the discrimination faced by queers and make a statement of hope for a world where all people live with freedom, dignity, and respect.
Originally, the word “queer” simply meant “odd” or “unusual”. In the past century, the word came to be used as a slur for anyone who isn’t gender normative or who deviates from society’s definition of sexually normal behavior. Recently, however, people across the world have reclaimed the word “queer” to empower, celebrate and unite all those who may feel marginalized because of their diverse identities and sexualities.

Queerness is about celebrating diversity. Queer people can be gay, kothi, lesbian, queen, dyke, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, hijra, butch, panthi, femme, fairy, MSM, FSF, genderqueer, androgynous, asexual, questioning, bicurious or even heterosexual queers. Queer Pride affirms diverse expression and calls attention to everyday struggle for respect and dignity.

The march was done to show that queer people in India face violence and discrimination from many different quarters. Queers and allies in Delhi marched with rainbow stripes to show diversity. People shouted for freedom, danced for joy, hugged for happiness, and held hands for oneness. Everyone shouted for equality among Indians, love over hate, and acceptance over tolerance.

Indeed, may they be lesbian, gay, or whatever we call them, still they are human beings who deserve to exercise their human rights.

Inequalities happen in many different forms in every part of the world. The battle continues toward attaining gender equality. It is still a long way to go, indeed. But as we see numerous groups of women and men, the feminist groups, rising in their respective communities for their rights to be recognized, and witness the queer community go out from their closets and freely express themselves, is highly gaining momentum to make us realize that winning this battle is not impossible.
As we join our hands to attain gender equality, it is very important to understand that gender equality is not only for men nor not only for women but both for men and women alike. We should understand that both genders play equally important roles in our society. After all, both are human beings and both need each other to survive.

It is then a challenge for us to keep empowered and stand tall on what we are fighting for. Inequalities happen in different contexts as different culture are also on the way. To all the women, we must believe in ourselves that we can stand for our rights and eventually believe in our co-women that they can stand for their rights too. To all the activists pursuing gender equality, kudos to all of you! It is still a long way to traverse but we can do it. WE WILL DO IT.

Let us show to the world that the partnership of both genders is indispensable to boost success, sustainable development and global change. We will serve as an inspiration to other marginalized men, women and queer community who also seek empowerment for success.
Thank you to Oxfam International for making me a part of the 8-day kaleidoscope in India. I learned a lot of experiences, diversities and respecting each other’s cultures. We will continue to work FOR and WITH our respective communities.// Joahna G. Goyagoy, Philippines