Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality.  

 

Now, although it is early days, we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland. While initial data indicates that women are less susceptible to the virus than men, there are several key reasons why women are impacted more by this coronavirus. 

 

Firstly, front-line health professionals and workers are more likely to be women, which means women are more likely to be exposed to this virus (with all of the related impacts on their health, wealth and wellbeing). Globally, around 70% of the global health workforce are women. 

 

Secondly, women are more likely to be casual or part-time workers without sick leave or other work entitlements putting them at a higher risk of wage loss or unemployment.  This is especially the case for low income or migrant women who tend to be employed in hospitality, retail or other service industries. Women’s wages also take longer to recover than men’s after crises – as evidenced during the Ebola crisis. 

 

Thirdly, the coronavirus is being called a ‘disaster for feminism’ by The Atlantic – because as children are sent home, decisions will have to be made regarding who will mind them. This will likely mean a considerable increase in the volume of unpaid work carried out by women. Women are also likely to be responsible for looking after COVID-19 patients at home. It is feared that women’s work and incomes will suffer more than men’s during this period ‘making women’s independence a silent victim of the pandemic’. Globally, girl’s schooling will also be disproportionately impacted by school closures (including in non-obvious ways, e.g. moves to teleschooling due to the digital divide issues many women face).  

 

Fourthly, domestic and sexual violence rise during crises like these – termed the ‘silent epidemic’. Not all homes are safe, and so women are at heightened risk of controlling behaviour, verbal abuse and violence during times of quarantine and lockdown. Rights groups in Ireland have been working to draw attention to these issues

 

Fifthly, women face challenges in accessing the services they need, including sexual and reproductive services and services for maternal care. During the Ebola crisis, more women died of obstetric complications than the disease, but these secondary deaths attract less attention

 

I could continue because there are so many ways in which women are impacted differently to men – but I will stop there. However, it must be emphasised that already-disadvantaged women, including migrant women, homeless women, and women in direct provision, face double layers of discrimination and have more limited access to healthcare and protective items than the general population. During this time of collective stress and uncertainty, we can perhaps experience greater solidarity with these women whose daily experience already involves a high degree of stress from their living conditions and uncertainty about their futures. 

 

In Ireland, groups like the NWCI and Women’s Aid are doing Trojan work to remind women they are not alone during this time and making sure key supports for women are continued. Recent confirmations from the Irish government that it is safe for migrants (documented and undocumented) to access essential services are also essential. However, more needs to be done by our government to ensure the most vulnerable are protected during this crisis.

 

The increased burden faced by women during COVID19 highlights the ways in which women are disadvantaged within our society – still saddled with the brunt of unpaid care work and domestic work, at heightened risk of domestic violence and abuse, and faced with gender gaps at work and at home. 

 

While one might expect the unique experiences of women at times like these to mean they will be included in decision-making around the crisis, and in gender-proofing our decision-making, this is unfortunately not the case; in fact, gender issues are being largely ignored. And, valuable opportunities are being missed to gather data or conduct research on the gendered-impact of the coronavirus which could help us better prepare for future epidemics. 

 

As we face into the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis, it is important that we do not treat gender as a side issue – there is too much at stake. Rather, we might see this as a crucial opportunity for leadership based on principles of intersectionality and mutual care. 

 

More to come from STAND on how the coronavirus impacts women over the next few weeks and months – stay tuned. 

 

 

Photo by Tumisu from Pixabay

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference! As the adage goes, you can’t be what you can’t see. 

 

Emojis have faced much criticism in the past for a lack of diversity, which led to the introduction of emojis with different skin tones and genders, as well as same-sex and interracial couples, and emojis depicting persons with disabilities. In 2019, a period ‘blood droplet’ emoji became available following a campaign to combat period stigma.

 

Today, we are able to choose from over 3,000 emojis in Unicode Standard. It may seem as though there is already an emoji for everything: facial expressions, nature, food, sports, everyday objects, and other symbols. But the 2020 release of 117 new emojis is evidence that there is always room for more diversity and more creativity.

 

One very exciting aspect of this new release is the inclusion of a gender-neutral version of several emojis. New emojis include a woman feeding a baby, a man feeding a baby, and a person feeding a baby – representing various gender identities and expressions (a previous emoji release added a breastfeeding emoji for women, but the only alternative was a lone baby bottle). Increased representation of gender identities seems to have been a key focus of the new release which also includes the transgender flag and transgender symbol, as well as gender variations in bridal veils and tuxedos. There is even a new gender-neutral Mx. Claus to add to existing Mr and Mrs Claus. 

 

There is a myth that technology is neutral but emojis show how it can subtly reinforce values that are baked into our culture. Happily, these new emojis are challenging the limited binary conception of gender that is prevalent today. The representation of diversity in skin tone and gender of the new emojis is an important step towards equality and visibility of often marginalized groups.  Other exciting additions to emoji 13.0 include blueberries, bubble tea, a bison, and a boomerang. If you want to check out all the new emojis before they become available on our devices, see this released list

 

 

 

Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

 

 

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New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

An Interview with OurTable: “It All Comes Down to Integration”

STAND’s Cedric speaks to Ellie Kisyombe from Our TABLE Dublin about the history of Direct Provision in Ireland, changes to the system and the role of ‘OurTable’. 

The Challenges of Coming Out Later in Life

Ireland has experienced the AIDS epidemic, witnessed the Fairview Park murders and has seen same-sex marriage passed into law by popular vote. While these historical events have brought the idea of the existence of LGBT people into everyday conversation, are the resources out there benefitting all members of the community?

STAND Student Podcast Episode 6: The Gender Recognition Act review – Why were some people left behind?

In November last year the Gender Recognition Act 2015 went through a review which left some groups out – meaning certain groups won’t be able to have their preferred gender recognised by law.

Lack of Diversity Overshadows Another Award Season

For the last few years, award ceremonies have come under a huge amount of scrutiny for a lack of diversity in the talent which they choose to celebrate. Heading into a new decade it felt tempting to think that those behind some of the most prestigious awards in entertainment may have started to heed this calls for inclusion. Unfortunately, as the list of nominations came rolling in over the last month, we soon learnt that this was not going to be the case.

10000 students working towards a more equal future

One person alone might feel as though they can’t make a change, but what happens when 10000 third-level students come together to take one small action each for a better world? This is what STAND, a Suas Educational Development initiative, and the Unions of Students in Ireland (USI) are trying to encourage by partnering on a new platform called 10000students.ie.

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

 

The day began with a moving opening address from Sonia, a woman living in Direct Provision. Sonia shared her experience of living in an asylum seeker accommodation system which has been repeatedly called out for violating human rights, and emphasised the importance of asylum seekers standing together. She spoke of how those who stand up for their rights in Direct Provision often face retaliation from managers and said this is why residents must speak up in unity and act as “one force.” Sonia addressed the limiting roles and expectations placed on women, that keep them from taking up leadership positions and dissuade them from being assertive. She pointed out that this needs to be challenged and highlighted the role of men in standing behind women and supporting them in this process. She concluded by singing ‘Hustlers’ by Alicia Keys, a song which she said has given her strength and inspiration during her time in Direct Provision. The feeling was clearly infectious, as by the end of the song the whole room was on its feet, clapping along.

 

Catherine Lane, the Women in Local, Community and Rural Development Officer with the National Women’s Council of Ireland was the next speaker of the morning. She described the implications of Direct Provision for equality and human rights, as well as the gendered nature of forced migration and how women are disadvantaged in the asylum-seeking process. In particular, she criticised the failure of the Direct Provision system to meet the needs of victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Despite highlighting the many challenges faced by asylum-seeking women, Catherine concluded on an uplifting note. She encouraged the audience  not to lose sight of the resilience and courage of women and their power to bring about change. Fittingly, Catherine ended by reciting the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou.

 

Next up was a panel discussion on mental health, featuring Kate Mitchell, the acting CEO of Mental Health Reform, Mary Haynes from the NWCI and the sculptor Nicola Anthony. Kate Mitchell spoke of the intersection between the asylum-seeking process, gender, and mental health. She noted that asylum seekers are ten times more likely to experience PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)and that women generally face unique barriers to accessing mental health services. According to Kate, the Irish Mental Health system has failed to provide culturally competent services to meet the specific needs of asylum-seeking women. Mary Haynes, who is a women’s health policy officer at NWCI, emphasised that women are experts on their own health and said that asylum-seeking women are too often left out of the conversation on mental health, which leads to them facing greater barriers in accessing support and perpetuates health inequality. Nicola Anthony, a UK born artist, described her work that transforms the stories of migrants into sculptures, with the aim of promoting awareness and compassion. She spoke about the power of art and creativity to provide relief from mental suffering and to bring people together. She also spoke about her experience as a second-generation migrant, and the opportunities she has had as a result of her family’s migration to the UK. She ended by saying that future generations will be grateful for the courage of asylum seekers today.

 

After lunch, there were workshops on Youth in Direct Provision in rural Ireland, Career opportunities in Direct Provision, and Art and Loneliness. I attended the Art and Loneliness workshop run by Nicola Anthony. The workshop focused on how, even without a high level of artistic skill, creativity can be a source of solace and comfort. We made mandalas and talked about how art can be incorporated into daily life, even in the face of hardship. After the workshops, there was a group discussion about the challenges and needs of asylum seekers in Ireland today. People highlighted the main issues they faced in the direct provision system, including a lack of accessible information about their legal rights and the asylum-seeking process, mistreatment and manipulation from centre managers and the inaccessibility of the labour market. Ideas were suggested as to how people could face these issues collectively, share information and take action to better the lives of asylum seekers. This sense of commitment and solidarity in the face of adversity lies at the heart of International Women’s Day and underpinned the entire conference.

 

Overall the day highlighted that, while celebrating the hard-won freedoms many women in Ireland now experience, we must also recognise the women who have been left out of the process of liberalisation. There are thousands of women in Ireland today who are coercively confined in Direct Provision centres, where their needs are unmet and their rights are undermined. The lived experience of these women must be central to the progression of gender equality in this country. 

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision.  

 

There are four different types of FGM, from Type 1 being the least extreme to Type 4 being the most harmful. Within these types, there are many different variations: 

Type 1 – Partial or total removal of clitoral glans. 

Type 2 – Partial removal or total removal of clitoral glans and labia minora with or without labia majora. 

Type 3 – Narrowing of the vaginal opening with a covering seal. The covering is made by cutting and repositioning the labia minora or the labia majora. 

Type 4 – All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia e.g. piercing, pricking or incising. 

 

FGM is usually carried out between infancy and the age of 15. Many undergo this harmful practice before puberty or before they get married. It has no health benefits at all, is extremely painful and harms the physical and mental health of women and girls who undergo it. It has both short-term and long-term complications e.g. injury or trauma to adjoining areas, difficulties with menstruation and birthing, infection, or even death. There are many different reasons as to why FGM is carried out. In some communities, it’s an initiation into womanhood, whereas in others, the female genitalia is considered dirty and impure so the procedure is performed to “cleanse” the body. Some believe that the man’s sexual pleasure will be enhanced and will also reduce the woman’s sexual appetite at the same time. However, this does far more than just reduce a woman’s sexual pleasure and appetite, as it causes great discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. 

 

The procedure has been documented in 30 countries, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and is a well-established tradition in many communities. Girls who don’t undergo the practice are at risk of being ostracized and “dishonouring” their family. 

 

The latent purpose of this immoral practice is to teach women and young girls that they are inferior to men. In this day and age, where women are still fighting to be seen as equals by their male peers, why isn’t an old tradition that is not only dangerous but extremely misogynistic abolished? Why should women have to give up their control over their body, give up their right to make their own decisions to please a man? FGM, even if done without malicious intentions, is a form of torture and a violation of basic human rights. It’s not just a harmful practice, it’s a connotation for inequality and conveys the message that a woman’s purpose is to serve a man’s needs.

 

Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue. Organisations like AkiDwA, a national network of migrant women living in Ireland, are aware of women who have undergone the practice. According to AkiDwA, there is estimated to be 5,790 women and girls who have undergone FGM living in Ireland, as well as 1,632 women and girls at risk of it. In 2012, a Criminal Justice Act was passed that prohibited the practice of FGM in Ireland and also made it illegal to take someone to another country to perform FGM on them. However, it is still being done and many cases are never discovered. Multiple organisations are therefore trying to spread awareness about the practice and hope to combat the obstacle that it represents for many migrant women.

 

AkiDwA have trained “Community Health Ambassadors” that go around the country and bring attention to the procedure, the laws opposing it and the effect it has on women and children physically and psychologically. They have also held events on zero tolerance to FGM day for two consecutive years. In a partnership with ActionAid, they founded the “AFTER” project to raise awareness about how harmful FGM can be to migrant communities. During phase 1 of the “AFTER” project, 36 workshops were operated in Cork and 100 participants were reached. These workshops were held for men, women and girls. ActionAid composed a documentary called “Girls from Earth”.The testimonies of religious leaders, women and African activists against FGM are included in the documentary. Phase 2 of the “AFTER” began in May 2019. They hope to reach 400 people nationwide, facilitate 12 more workshops in direct provision centres and work with major organisations like An Garda Siochana, Tusla, HSE etc. Another goal is to provide members with the skills required to address FGM cases and engage “30 Champions for Change” to advocate for better services for survivors and against FGM.

 

Pembridge Pictures is releasing the film ‘A Girl from Mogadishu’ in April. The movie is based on  Ifrah Ahmed’s story and shows her own experience with FGM and how she got into advocacy. Ifrah Ahmed is also the founder and program director of Ifrah Foundation. Their goal is to eradicate FGM in Somalia, the country with the highest prevalence of FGM in the world, and spread awareness in Ireland. 

 

In my opinion, it’s simply unjust that women or girls have to endure this horrific procedure just to get married and then live with the long-term and short-term agony of it. And let’s not forget the psychological trauma that an event so cruel can do to someone. Whenever I read about the topic I feel upset that there are women and girls who are forced to damage their bodies to please a man and if disobeyed, are being ostracized by their community and family. It’s even more heartbreaking to hear that people are still practising this tradition when they move abroad. Ireland is a country that embraces other cultures and traditions but this is just plain abuse. I believe it’s a system put in place to bring down women, strip their fundamental rights and dignity away and show that men still have power over them.

 

Please sign this petition below to eradicate FGM in Ireland by 2030.

https://actionaid.ie/join-the-fight-against-fgm/

 

 

Photo by Gynelle Leon (This Little Light of Mine, 2015)

 

 

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Uyghurs Interned in Chinese Camps at Higher Risk of Covid-19

The Uyghurs in the northwestern region of China have undergone continuous and increasingly violent repression from the ruling Communist Party. Millions of them are currently imprisoned in “re-education camps” and aren’t given any protection from the novel coronavirus.

7 Things to do While we’re Stuck in Isolation

With a week and a half of quarantine already under our belts, it would be fair to say that most of you reading this have had your lives flipped over in a very short period of time. We have put together a list of things for you to occupy yourself with during this ever so strange time in our lives.

A Student’s Perspective: Sweden is Playing With Fire

I write from Sweden, a country which has chosen not to take strict measures as other European countries to fight COVID-19. I am an Irish masters student at Lund University and find the lack of movement worrying. If the virus is not contained here, we will encounter a health emergency as we have seen in Italy.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

A Student’s Call to Action on Climate Change

Climate change and environment issues, in general, are the most talked about topics these days, and for good reason. With all this news of despair and disaster regarding climate change it is easy to think that no matter what we do, nothing is enough. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Xenophobic Ideas Spread Along with the Novel Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus now has 75,000 reported cases and has claimed over 2,000 lives in China. In the midst of this recent outbreak, we might find ourselves more germaphobic than usual. While paying extra attention to hygiene is normal and even healthy, there is an insidious side to this newfound germaphobia.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. For some members of the Turkish ruling party however, this distinction doesn’t appear to matter. The government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law as part of a controversial new “judicial package” – as Berfu Şeker and Ezel Buse from the Turkish NGO Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways explained to STAND in a recent interview. This Bill would allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty through marrying their under-aged victims if the age difference between them is less than ten years (for this reason, the legislation is also being called a “child rape law”). Turkey’s current civil code views child marriages as illegal. 

 

This regressive legal step is largely inspired (according to Human Rights Watch researcher Rothna Begum) by Article 357 of the 1810 French criminal law, written under Napoleon, which states that if a girl is kidnapped and married to her ‘seducer’, he can only be prosecuted if the family declares the marriage void. Such laws consider rape not as a crime that should be punished in its own right, but as an act which is disrespectful to religious or moral laws. Besides increasing the risk of child abuse, passing this law could mean Turkey will witness similar situations to those seen in Morocco before it repealed Article 475 of its Penal Code. In Morocco, the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl who killed herself with rat poison after being forced to marry her rapist, shocked the country and acted as a catalyst for change. 

 

Child marriage is extremely damaging and, according to UNICEF, “often results in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupts schooling, limits the girl’s opportunities and increases her risk of experiencing domestic violence”. Approximately 15 million adolescent girls worldwide have experienced forced sex at some point in their lifetime (UNICEF). Under “marry your rapist” laws, victims, including children and teenagers, are considered to have a certain degree of responsibility for having been raped, even when they have not reached the legal age of consent (18 years of age).  This normalisation and downplaying of rape often prevents the victims from seeking professional help after enduring such trauma, with victims facing pressure from family members in some cases. General Recommendation 35, adopted in 2017, of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW) has called on states to combat social attitudes which falsely “make women responsible for their own safety and for the violence they suffer.” Sadly, these laws are not that uncommon, and in about ten countries worldwide rapists can avoid prosecution if the victim is underage or ‘forgives’ the rapist. 

 

In December 2019, some female members of the Turkish parliament protested the lack of action on penalizing and prosecuting violence against women by Turkish society, and specifically by the male-dominated political elite. They sang “Un Violador en Tu Camino” (’A rapist in your path’), the Chilean protest song which has been adopted by women worldwide to denounce the role various state actors (judges, the police, and other decision-makers) play in enabling a system that perpetuates rape and rape culture. By forcing women and children to marry their rapists, Turkey’s legislation is just one of many global examples of how women’s protection is not being taken seriously by governments. 

 

Kate Dannies, assistant professor of Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University, writing for The Washington Post, highlights how this bill is part of Turkey’s general aim of encouraging population growth. “As soon a woman is married, [the sooner] she can have children”, explains Berfu Şeker from WWHR – New Ways. Turkey’s ruling party uses excuses like religion and conservatism in an attempt to erase women as individual subjects and as economic and social actors, in order to constrain them to the role of mothers, she explains. 

 

As Turkey struggles with a severe economic crisis, the government is attempting to limit the increasing number of women joining the labour force and to advance a more traditional and nuclear vision of the family. While women are already disadvantaged within Turkish society, this shift would make them even more dependent on their husbands with even fewer  opportunities to be financially independent – yet another regressive step and a major attack on gender equality. 

 

Even if Turkish society and the international community manages to rally against attempts to pass the bill, another major issue Turkey faces is the lack of efficient and trustworthy democratic institutions and the absence of press freedom. Since the 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum, the parliament has lost almost all of its legislative power. WWHR – New Ways shared its concerns with STAND that, even if the parliament is blocked by protestors, bills can be passed “behind closed doors in the middle of the night” by the ruling party, allowing it to impose “its hidden agenda” on the Turkish population.                                      

 

The patriarchal attitudes which “Marry-your-rapist” laws are built around must be combated, and the line between victims and their aggressors should not become blurred. For Turkish women and their allies, the fightback might take the form of direct protest, or by becoming a member of a women’s rights organisation working on these issues; it might happen in the ballot box, or through difficult discussions with family and community members, or even through a tweet.  Even small acts of protest can spark change – but the message is clear – change needs to come! 

 

 

Photo from Piqsels

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. As a result, the United Nations Committee Against Torture has proceeded with an investigation into the treatment of Ms Coppin by the Irish State. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

 

Ms Coppin was born in Kerry to an unmarried 19-year-old in 1949. She was committed by the courts to an industrial school in Tralee at the age of two until the age of fourteen when she was transferred to a Magdalene laundry in Cork. Having escaped in 1966, she was returned to another Cork laundry. In 1967 she was moved to St Mary’s laundry in Waterford and was released in 1968 after which she emigrated to England.

 

Ms Coppin’s list of traumatic abuse during her years in institutions include “arbitrary detention, beatings, forced labour without pay, human trafficking, humiliation, denial of education, denial of identity, denial of family life, neglect, starvation and religious denigration” (Irish Times). The work was “exhausting” and the women were not even allowed to speak to each other, and were made to sleep in cells locked from the outside. Ms Coppin was “in perpetual fear”.

 

Ms Coppin’s case is admissible despite the fact that she received ex-gratia payments for the abuse she suffered while living in the laundries and signed a statutory declaration waving her right to take action against the Irish State. However, “what we got wasn’t good enough. We have been conned and scammed and they’re still denying our human rights were violated.” 

 

Ms Coppin feels as though she “has exhausted all available domestic remedies”: her statements to Gardaí in 1987  and 1989 went uninvestigated; her High Court proceedings in 2000 against the religious and the State were struck out due to time lapse; her award from the Residential Institutions Redress Board in 2005 did not admit liability; in 2011 the Interdepartmental Committee on the Magdalene laundries could not investigate criminal abuse; and in 2013 the Magdalene Laundries Restorative Justice Scheme only offered Ms Coppin an award based on the time she spent in laundries, again not admitting liability. According to Ms O’Rourke, this is simply “not enough.”

 

Dr Maeve O’Rourke is a leading lawyer on the case and acknowledges the raising of significant issues of accountability: “It is about proper acknowledgement of the legal wrongs done and the State’s role in the suppression of evidence.” Ms Coppin’s allegation is that her human rights are continuing to be violated by the refusal of the Irish State to “properly investigate” the abuses she experienced between 1951 and 1968 in the Magdalene Laundries. 

 

Ms Coppin is arguing, under article 12, 13, 14 and 16 of the UN Convention Against Torture 2002, that the continued failure of the Irish State in investigation her complaints or providing her means for proper rehabilitation, are continuing breaches of her rights. Under the Convention, she is guaranteed a “prompt and impartial investigation”, fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible” and the obligation of states to prevent “other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment . . . committed by or . . . with the consent or acquiescence of a public official.” 

 

In response to Ms Coppin’s action, a spokesperson from the Department of Justice said that “The Department of Foreign Affairs is  taking the lead on coordinating a response and a number of departments will be required to provide input” with the deadline for such a response being the 20th May 2020.

 

Ms Coppin feels that the Irish State “failed to protect me and thousands of other women like me, and they’re still bullying me.” According to Ms Coppin it “feels like all Ireland is doing is abusing us again. I’m hoping the UN will condemn Ireland for what they’re still doing to us.” 

 

It is likely the case that victims, survivors and those affected by the horrific conditions in the Magdalene Laundries will pay close attention to the progression of this case; and hopefully, justice will finally be delivered to all those who suffered.

 

Ms Coppin is one of many thousands of victims of Ireland’s ‘systematic institutional, gender-based and adoption-related abuses throughout the 20th century’. Ireland is failing to address its dark past and is determined to seal up records. The Retention of Records Bill 2019 proposes to seal records from survivors – including survivors of the laundries – for 75 years, which has sparked outrage and concern amongst survivors as it inflicts yet another injustice upon them and further attempts to silence them. Survivors are hoping the next government will commit to establishing a National Archive of historical industrial and care-related records, and they will continue to resist the sealing of their records. How these issues are handled has implications for how Ireland deals with human rights violations in the future. 

 

 

Photo by Frederic Köberl on Unsplash

 

 

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