Archive for January, 2009

Billboards in Ankara and 18 other major cities have recently been featuring an absolutely enormous and somewhat unusual photograph. The photograph has the chiefs of the three main political parties facing the people with wide smiles on their faces and the text “We agree. ” Deniz Baykal of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Devlet Bahçeli of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in opposition, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), have hardly been seen to agree on anything of substance.
In the picture, Erdoğan is embracing his two rivals, who look like age-old buddies, all wearing lilac-colored ties in support of women’s causes and seeming to have agreed to open the doors to greater participation for women while, in reality, the opposite is true. So what was this all about? Soon it was revealed that the Association for Supporting and Training Women Candidates (KADER), an NGO that works to get more women elected to Parliament and other offices, had had these posters printed to drive the point home that 50 percent of candidates should be women in the upcoming elections. This is indeed what women want because they form just 1 percent of local government representation.

According to figures from KADER, there is a single female provincial capital mayor, compared to 80 male mayors elected in the 2004 local elections. Among the existing 3,207 mayors nationwide, only 18 are women. Of the 33,678 municipal council members, those that are women number 799. Of the 3,152 members of provincial councils, there are 56 female council members.

In short, a group which makes up half of our population sees its members filling just 1 percent of seats and it is this discrepancy that makes Turkish women very unhappy. KADER representatives claim that candidacy is based on money and women lack the finances to back their attempts to stand. Furthermore, the decision makers are men and they prefer their own kind. This is why women’s names do not appear on the candidate lists of political parties.

It is this stark truth that led them to adopt the maximal target: They want a quota of 50 percent from political parties. Can they get it? Hardly, but they are still determined to make a point and be counted.

Islamic feminists

There is yet another current among women that are seeking their rights. We could call them “Islamic feminists.” Throughout the Islamic world, more educated women are trying to teach their counterparts about their rights, which is compatible with the human rights agenda of the West. They are enthusiastic about pointing out that their efforts are based on Islamic teachings.

Islamic feminism claims to reveal and to disseminate the egalitarian spirit of the Quran and the Hadiths. Islamic feminists have a much more limited but sounder target than classical or Western feminists, wanting gender equality to be adopted and observed within a family structure. They believe that if the family supports gender equality, they will stand firm in society to claim what is due to them by the male-dominated, traditional social culture. They want to secure the home ground first.

They make abundant references to the Quran and the Hadiths to demonstrate that Islam does not inherently discriminate against women. Their diligent work has revealed that the Islamic scriptures grant women more rights to inheritance and divorce than what is practiced today, as well as respectful treatment by a spouse and even choosing a husband of their own will. They even find evidence to support a woman’s professional career outside of the family.

What is most interesting and challenging for male scholars is that when Quranic verses appear to discriminate against women, Muslim feminist scholars stress the need to read the Quran within the socio-historical context of seventh-century Arab tribal society. This is indeed revolutionary, for what they press for is to make the distinction between God’s will and intent that would, undoubtedly, be just and equalitarian, and the values, mores and habits of an underdeveloped tribal society 13 centuries before ours. There is a potent message in this movement that is the harbinger of enormous change to come. Women are coming!

No longer will Michigan’s rape victims be handed medical bills as they leave emergency care. New laws passed in Lansing in December prohibit health-care providers such as hospital emergency rooms from billing sexual-assault survivors. Instead, providers can seek reimbursement from the state’s crime victims fund.

Other new laws will support and expand a statewide network of independent clinics that give free care to rape victims. Funding will come from a $7.50 fine tacked onto penalties assessed at the sentencing of anyone in Michigan who commits a serious criminal offense, starting this month.

News of the bills’ passage brought cheers from leaders of women’s groups, including Sue Coats, executive director of Turning Point, a nonprofit that serves Macomb County.

“We’re so grateful that Michigan is finally joining other states” in requiring that exams be free and in funding the free emergency clinics staffed by specially trained nurses called nurse examiners, Coats said.

Turning Point opened southeast Michigan’s first such clinic in 1999. It costs $160,000 annually to operate the clinic in Clinton Township that aids about 200 rape victims a year, she said.

Before it opened, police sent rape victims to hospitals, where they often were among the last patients seen by emergency doctors “because you’re not bleeding or having a heart attack,” Coats said.

“Afterward, they’d get a bill for anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000,” she said.

The nonprofit clinics offering free care — in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, as well as about 15 other Michigan counties — have depended on unpredictable grants and donations, forcing dozens of Michigan counties to do without them, said Beth Morrison, executive director of HAVEN in Oakland County.

“This is going to help us continue, but it will enable others to start up,” Morrison said.

That pleases police and prosecutors because nurse examiners provide superior evidence, leading to more convictions, said newly elected Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca, who for 10 years headed the Oakland County Prosecutor’s sexual-assault unit.

“These clinics are essential if we want to send a message” through convictions that deters would-be rapists, Gorcyca said.

The higher conviction rate was proven by new findings last month from Michigan State University.

Two days before state lawmakers approved the nurse-examiner funding bills Dec. 19, professor of psychology Rebecca Campbell presented results of a 12-year MSU study in Macomb County. Before the nurse-examiner program, 24% of sexual-assault cases ended with a guilty plea or conviction, rising to 29% after the nurse-examiner program began, Campbell said.

“That 5% jump may not seem like a lot, but it’s statistically significant,” she said.

The study reviewed 156 rape cases in the five years before the program started in 1999, and then 137 highly similar rape cases in the seven years afterward, said Campbell, the principal investigator.

Each case came from one of the five largest law-enforcement agencies in the county, and all were 1st- through-3rd-degree criminal sexual assaults — crimes of physical penetration that involve force or threat of force, Campbell said. She expects the study to be published by the National Institute of Justice and be distributed to law-enforcement groups.

The laws supporting nurse-examiner clinics passed the state Legislature at 4 a.m. on the last day of the 2008 session, after five years of legislative maneuvering, said State Rep. Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak, the main sponsor.

“It’s just such a relief to get these things passed,” said Donigan, who lives a mile from the nurse-examiner clinic run by HAVEN in Royal Oak. The new laws are projected to provide about $1.6 million a year for the special clinics across Michigan, she said.

Sexual-assault nurse examiners are on call 24 hours a day, ready to give medical and psychological care to a victim soon after an assault while collecting such evidence as semen, DNA, skin samples, hair samples and photographs of injuries, said Diane Zalecki, supervisor of the clinic in Royal Oak, which serves Oakland County.

The clinic is in an unmarked house owned by the City of Royal Oak and rented to HAVEN for $1 a year, Zalecki said.

“We see people at pretty much the lowest point in their lives,” she said.

In Japan, rape is often kept hush-hush. But the high-profile case of one rape victim is challenging the silent treatment and raising questions about police practices. ‘Jane,’ as the victim is known, is suing police who required her to re-enact the crime.

An Australian woman who was raped by a U.S. Navy sailor in Japan in 2002 has settled the score, at least for the time being, with her assailant.

“Jane” as she calls herself, filed a civil suit against her assailant, a Wisconsin man named Bloke Deans, after the police here failed to bring criminal charges against him. In November 2004, she was awarded $49,555 in compensation from Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Now she’s focused on what she calls her second rape by police officers at the nearby station where she sought help after the attack. The police didn’t literally rape her, but they asked her to re-enact the crime in a way that she says left her feeling doubly assaulted.

She is seeking $182,000 in compensation.

She also says she’s pressing the case to change a culture that prevents many women from bringing charges. “It is a silent culture where nobody says anything. But things are changing as more women begin to speak out,” she told Women’s eNews.

Although Jane has kept her real name out of news coverage, she has nonetheless become famous in Japan for talking about the taboo topic of her rape.

She sued the Kanagawa police for mistreatment and last week a judge dismissed her case in Tokyo’s High Court.

Jane’s lawyer, Mami Nakano, criticized the ruling. “If this kind of idea is tolerated in society, it would hinder rape victims from reporting their cases to police,” she said.

In statements to the courts, the Kanagawa police have argued they are not obligated to provide rape victims with underwear or showers and it is an unreasonable request that investigations require the participation of a female officer. The police also said that because rape victims do not need urgent medical treatment they are not required to take them to emergency rooms and they do not believe Jane’s assertion that she was too depressed by the crime to return to the scene. Taking re-enactment photos is normal protocol.

On Dec. 22 she appealed to Japan’s Supreme Court. Jane says more than 40 lawyers from Kanagawa, Tokyo and Yokohama have offered to represent her appeal for free.

In the port city of Yokosuka, Jane was raped six years ago in her van in a parking lot after she left a bar in the early hours.

She says Deans, who was discharged from the USS Kitty Hawk in November 2002, has been allowed to avoid punishment by an unresponsive U.S. government despite her requests to learn how his case would be handled.

“I have been asking since the day I was raped,” she says. “I even wrote letters to President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. military and government officials. They still have not gotten back to me.”

Jane alleges that after the rape, she went to the police who then kept her in custody for 12 hours. She was afraid they would arrest her if she left and says she was in shock. The police moved her from a small room, then to the scene of the crime, then back to the station in a large room with other people.

She claims she was not fed, allowed to see a doctor, or given fresh underwear.

“I went to the Japanese police to seek help, sadly they didn’t believe me,” said Jane, who made her standard request for anonymity to protect the privacy of her three sons. “They interrogated me for several hours and the entire time I begged them to take me to the hospital. But they said I wasn’t hurt enough and, if I was, then I had to show them where. I was told that on-duty doctors are for urgent patients and rape victims were not urgent.”

The worst offence, she says, occurred two months later, when the Kanagawa police asked her to return to the station to help investigators take re-enactment photographs. The photographer asked her to assume the various positions that the rape entailed. Incapable of doing so, Jane gave instructions to male and female officers so the photos could be taken.

“I was forced to become the director of my own rape,” Jane says. “Re-enactment photographs must be banned. No human being should have to go through that. The police treated me without compassion or dignity.”

Michael O’Connell, commissioner for Victim’s Rights Australia, a government advocacy group, calls it one of the worst cases of police re-victimization that he has ever encountered.

“On hearing about Jane’s plight, I was appalled that a victim of sexual assault would be treated with so little respect and dignity,” he said in an e-mail to Women’s eNews. “Internationally, the most progressive police know that their responsibilities to victims include protecting the victim, collecting and preserving evidence, and supporting the victim.”

A report in late October by the United Nations Human Rights Committee found Japanese police practices in rape cases insufficient under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also found a shortage of doctors and nurses in Japan trained to handle sexual violence and raised concern about weak-to-nonexistent punishment of sexual violence.

“Japan urgently needs to develop a national network of rape crisis centers and hotlines, linking different professionals to support sexual assault victims,” Dr. Hisako Motoyama, executive director of Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center in Tokyo, said in a recent interview. “We definitely need to reform our out-of-date criminal justice system, including review of the penal code, systemic training of judges and prosecutors, and enforceable guidelines.”

Rape is widely regarded as one of the most shameful experiences in Japan, said Dr. Hisako Watanabe, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at Keio University in Tokyo who has treated rape victims, including small children, for 35 years. Many victims, she said, suffer the aftermath on their own, without proper medical and mental care or any chances of suing the perpetrator.

In 2006, Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau released a study finding that of 1,578 female respondents around 7 percent said they had been raped, at least once. Of those, only about 5 percent–6 out of 114–reported the crime to the police. Of those who remained silent, nearly 40 percent said they were “embarrassed.”

“The public assumption in Japan continues to be that rape does not exist; therefore there isn’t any need for 24-hour rape crisis centers or support groups,” Watanabe said. “Rape is still considered rare and, even when it happens, the victim could be suspected of having enticed the perpetrator into the act. Such an attitude by people around the victim could be more detrimental than the trauma of rape itself.”

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at

Norway says the new law targets the clients and not the prostitutes

Norwegian citizens caught paying for prostitutes at home or abroad could face a hefty fine or a six-month prison sentence, authorities say.

The prison sentence could be extended to three years in cases of child prostitution.

The Norwegian authorities say they want to stamp out sex tourism and street prostitution by targeting clients rather than prostitutes.

“We think buying sex is unacceptable because it favours human trafficking and forced prostitution,” deputy Justice Minister Astri Aas-Hansen was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

The tough new measures go further than similar ones introduced by other Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland.

Norwegian police have been authorised to use wire-tapping devices to gather evidence.

There has already been a visible decrease in women working on the streets of central Oslo, local media report.

Prostitutes will be offered access to free education and health treatment for those with alcohol or drugs problems.

The government had already launched a publicity campaign before the law came into force.

Critics of the new regulations say prostitution will simply be driven underground and will be more difficult to control.

See also: Norway votes to outlaw paying for sex as from 1st January 2009

At least half of the women and girls in Africa are still living in some form of bondage despite the fact that the world marked the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights only about a month ago.

Experts on gender empowerment, poverty reduction and women rights advocacy said women and girls were not free to access and enjoy their basic rights in the homes, families, work places and in many places in the society, contrary to the universal declaration.

The declaration passed in 1948 recognises equality of rights for women and men as a basic principle.

The experts were speaking at a workshop on women empowerment held at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Aziza Abemba, the Executive Director of Women`s Self-Promotion/Women`s Learning Partnership in Zimbabwe together with Joseph Boomenyo, an expert from Tusaidie Watoto na Wanawake wa Africa (Tuwwa), said discriminatory laws and power relations that prevented women from leading and fulfilling their full potentials must be addressed.

“The implication is that more than half of our population is not maximised in addressing problems and challenges facing our (Africa) continent,“ said Abemba.

The workshop brought together 18 delegates from the Tanzania Commission For Human Rights and Governance, Tanzania Women’s Lawyers Association, Tanzania Women Teachers Association, Tanzania Women of Impact Foundation, Kiwota Women`s Health and Development Organisation, Centre for Widows and Children Assistance, Tanzania Media Women Association, Together for Peace and Development and Women Legal Aid Centre, among others.

It was aimed at building the capacity of local women and women`s organisations, with a view to helping them acquire skills and become resource persons in promoting women`s leadership, women?s rights, gender parity and equity.

Initiating practical strategies to stop gender based violence, violence against women and reducing poverty and unemployment among the disadvantaged women and communities living in rural and urban areas, was among the key objectives of the event.

The participants said they were prepared to implement what they learnt from the workshop to effect change of mindset and behaviour of people in their families, working places and communities.

They emphasised and urged women and girls to effect the change they see in others.

They emphasised on the need for decision-makers, religious leaders and other stakeholders to join hands and abolish, streamline and change discriminatory laws, policies and practices that were disadvantageous to other citizens.

“It is important for a young girl to be given freedom to choose own marriage partner without the interference of parents and family members.

Parents and family members should keep their hands off because true love should be based on choice and decision between partners (a man and a woman),“ she said.

“The truth is that most arranged marriages without the willingness and agreement of concerned partners are fuelling divorce, HIV/Aids pandemic leading to the suffering of innocent people, including children.

In order for one to make right choices, a girl needs to be at least 18 years old rather than below 16 years,? she said.

The implementation of this training of trainers` workshop was made possible through the support of Women`s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace (US).

Mothers for Peace in Iran ( are a group of women who came together to share their solidarity and belief in peace and harmony in the world and dialogue and understanding rather than violence and war. Today, Sunday, they demonstrated in front of the Palestinian embassy in Tehran.

The ladies were shouting “peace-peace, one two three peace-peace. The demonstration started around 11 am with about 40-50 people, most of them women about my age but there were some younger ones and a few children. On the placards that the ladies were carrying were slogans such as “children are the real victims of blockade and war”, “Unprecedented violence in Gaza – Why Silence?”, “Stop the genocide in Gaza”, “Where is my home?” Mahatma Gandhi’s words “resistance is the right of the oppressed and those who have been occupied”, “women and children are the victims of wars”, and others. These are slogans that we see in the demonstrations that have been taking place right across the world protesting against this most unbelievably violent retaliation and the silence of the superpowers about this catastrophic human tragedy.

The thing that made me more sad was the fact as these women stopped people and cars and gave them their short pamphlets about the war in Gaza, a group started to take over the peaceful demonstration with slogans of war and destruction and their number increased, such that the women moved to the other side of the road. It seems that the warmongers are found everywhere and even a peaceful demonstration by some middle-aged mothers can not be tolerated even if it is in agreement with the government. How many battles people must bear and how much pain can be endured in this world. Please join me and pray for a quick and peaceful solution to the conflict that is going on in Gaza.

First ladies from Muslim countries Saturday condemned the Israeli offensive on Gaza and called on the international community to end the suffering of women and children there in an Istanbul meeting organized by Turkish prime minister’s wife.

Jordan’s Queen Rania, Syria’s Asma Assad, Qatar’s Sheikha Mozah and Lebanon’s Wafaa Sleiman joined the Turkish prime minister’s wife Emine Erdogan to call for an end to hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s daughter, Aisha, and the Pakistani prime minister’s wife also attended the meeting entitled “Women for peace in Palestine.”

“We, in the name of mothers who attach great importance to peace and human life, request that the international community press Israel to stop its attacks,” said Erdogan, reading from a joint declaration issued at the end of their meeting.

“Israel must abide by the U.N. resolution (calling for a cease-fire). It must lift the embargo. Israel must immediately withdraw its forces from Gaza,” she said.

All participants wore white shawls with the word “peace” inscribed in Turkish, Arabic and English over their shoulders.

Before reading out the joint declaration, Emine Erdogan denounced Israel’s attacks on Gaza, breaking into the tears as she recounted how children were caught up in the war.

“I hope our meeting will be an instrument of pressure on Israel for the immediate halt of the attacks” on Gaza, Erdogan told participants in the meeting.

She spoke of a “humanitarian drama” in Gaza and urged the international community to put an end “to the sufferings of women and children” in Palestine which “attacked the most basic freedom, that of life.”

“They were killed while riding their bikes in parks. They sought refuge in schools but were killed there too. They were killed inside mosques. They were taken to hospitals but could not escape the death machines there either,” she said.

“I am speaking and expressing my pain as a mother,” she added.

Earlier those attending the meeting had met representatives of Turkish aid organizations operating in Gaza.

Israeli aircraft, tanks and ships on Saturday pounded the Gaza Strip into a third week, as a new round of diplomacy got underway to end a war that has killed more than 800 people despite a U.N. truce call.

In the political dialog regarding Gaza as is so often the case in war and violent conflict, the voices of women who stand in opposition to the reign of terror that is taking place are being all but silenced by both the media and governmental bodies. Despite mandates such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates consideration of the impact of conflict on women’s lives as well as the full participation of women in all peace negotiations, the wisdom and concerns of women are systemically ignored.

As Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, points out,

“We may have accepted in principle that politics should include both women and men, but this has not been adequately applied to foreign and security policy. A recent report by Operation 1325, a Swedish umbrella organisation working for women and peace, revealed that nine out of ten civilians sent to work in conflict areas are men. Women are not regarded as having enough knowledge or competence in security questions and, as a result, European peace-making missions remain a project by and for men.

Given the often determinate role that women’s organisations have played on the ground in conflict resolution, it is absurd that they are so under-represented in the international work in this field. Not only does it reflect an important limitation to democracy, it is also a threat to global security and to women across the globe. By excluding women from conflict management, we exclude a female perspective and experience that could contribute to peace building projects that better correspond to the real needs of all those affected by conflict.”

As the violence and its consequences continue unabated, it is urgent that we listen and pay heed to the brave and eloquent women in Gaza, in Israel and throughout the world who are speaking out and taking action to end the atrocities that are taking place in Gaza.

From Israel:

Feminist groups and pundits were the first to come out against the Gaza operation from its outset. In an op-ed for Maariv/NRG Sunday, feminist activist Dorit Rabinovich called upon Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to oppose the war.

“In a move that is nothing but pure chauvinism and sexism, made up of slogans about invasion, occupation, penetration and a disregard for the will of the public in the country, this is Livni’s time to say ‘enough’ to the government’s rape of society,” she wrote.

Rabinovich predicted that soon, hundreds of thousands would take to the streets against the war, and the pundits will also come out against it. As a precedent she cited the successful protest by women’s groups against the IDF security zone in Lebanon, which was aided by feminist journalists like Shelly Yechimovich (now a Labor MK). That movement is credited with causing then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.

On Monday, a coalition of Israeli women’s groups filed a complaint against Israel to the United Nations Security Council. The groups claimed that Israel is not complying with a law passed in 2005 that requires the participation of women in the Israeli government’s decision-making forums.

Gaza resident Dr. Mona El-Farra is providing updates on From Gaza With Love where she recommends donations to help Palestinian women and children be made via the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

From Palestinian mothers in the UK in a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

(W)e want to emphasise that the involvement of women in any peace negotiations is necessary. We would like to remind the UK about that On 31 October 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 which recognises the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women as well as recognizing the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building, and stresses the importance of their equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security. In view of this, we would like to know what steps are being taken to incorporate a gender perspective on any and all peace efforts. Is the UK government ensuring that appropriate women are involved in decision making at all levels in the conflict resolution and peace processes?
We look forward to meeting with you urgently.

The Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has a statement here that ends with this excellent quote from the Israeli Women’s Coalition for Peace:

“The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence as strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic, and social.”

In Jakarta:

About 200 Indonesian women protested against Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip outside the Egyptian embassy on Friday.

Carrying posters showing wounded and dead Palestinian children, they urged Egypt to open its border with Gaza for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Isis International

“Implores that women from both sides of the Gaza territories be bought into a peace process. Women from both sides have established peace principles long before men were shaking hands for television cameras. As leaders, mothers, daughters and citizens of their nations they are in the best position to bring about peace, best stated in a 2008 article by Israeli feminist peace activist Gila Svirsky “Our principles went beyond the general assertion of ending hostilities….not just ending the Israeli occupation, but shaping a shared future of cooperation….opposition to militarism that permeates both societies, an equal role for women in negotiations for peace and a society that cares more about education, health, art and the poor than it does about maintaining a deadly arsenal” (Off Our Backs/, June 2008).”

In Israel: Boycott, Divest and Sanction, Naomi Klein examines why an economic boycott of Israel is a potent tool for ending the violence and eloquently rebuts the arguments that have been made against this strategy.

And finally, Women of Colour Network Australia examines why what is happening in Gaza is a feminist issue, examining the following questions:

What is the value of a Palestinian life?
Is the current Israeli bombing of Gaza a feminist issue?
What actions can those of us who are far away from Palestine take to ensure solidarity with the Palestinian people?

The Feminist Peace Network will continue posting the wise voices of women addressing the crisis in Gaza.

Below is a list of earlier posts addressing the current situation. Here also are links to other recent posts regarding Gaza:
Feminist Perspectives On Ending The Israeli Occupation And Getting To Peace With The Palestinians By Gila Svirsky Jewish Women In Toronto: Gaza Is Not In Our Name (video of the sit-in at the Israeli Consulate in Toronto
Gaza: Diary of a Massacre
Jewish Canadian Women Occupy Israeli Consulate in Toronto
When We Are Persuaded That The Safety Of Our Nations Depends On The
Cold-Blooded Murder Of Children, We Have No Future-Tell Obama You Want The
U.S. To Support A Ceasefire In Gaza NOW
McKinney Calls On Obama To Speak Out About Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza
Joint Statement From Israeli Women’s Groups On The Violence In Gaza
Starhawk on Gaza: “I Just Don’t Get It.Or Rather, I Do.”
Statement On The Violence In Gaza

For links to these and other postings go to

Statement of Isis International on the ongoing conflict in Gaza – 8 January 2009

Isis International joins our sisters in Palestine and Israel and around the world in demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and destruction in Gaza, and the reopening of Gaza to facilitate the flow of much needed humanitarian aid. We extend our solidarity to the innocent civilians, and especially to the women and children, victims of the militarism and fundamentalisms on both sides of the conflict that are causing death, destruction and suffering. We demand that women be integrally involved in building a just and sustainable peace.

Isis International shares and supports the visions of peace and security of both Palestenian and Israeli women. Their voices, visions and aspirations are seldom reflected in the mainstream media. Their stories, struggles, faces and names are hardly known. Yet it is the women who have been speaking of peace between territories for years. It is an ongoing human tragedy that such visions have not been reflected in the formal peace process and agreements.

Today both Palestinian and Israeli women are once more calling for a just and sustainable peace.

The International Women’s Commission (IWC) for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian–Israeli Peace has issued a statement (January 2009) demanding “an immediate cessation of the aggression by the Israeli military forces in Gaza, which has already cost hundreds of lives” and calling for the “immediate resumption of peace negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative as the only way of bringing an end to the occupation and achieving sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine, and in the region.” The IWC, comprising Palestinian, Israeli and international women leaders, was established in 2005 under the auspices of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) as part of efforts to implement UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace
and security. ( )

The Coalition of Women’s Organizations for Peace in Israel issued a statement on 1 January 2009: demanding “an end to the bombing and other tools of death”, and calling “for the immediate start of deliberations to talk peace and not make war. The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence a strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic,
and social. “( statement-by-womens-organizations-in-israel/ )

Isis International implores that women from both sides of the Gaza territories be bought into a peace process. Women from both sides have established peace principles long before men were shaking hands for television cameras. As leaders, mothers, daughters and citizens of their nations they are in the best position to bring about peace, best stated in a 2008 article by Israeli feminist peace activist Gila Svirsky “Our principles went beyond the general assertion of ending hostilities….not just ending the Israeli occupation, but shaping a shared future of cooperation….opposition to militarism that permeates both societies, an equal role for women in negotiations for peace and a society that cares more about education, health, art and the poor than it does about maintaining a deadly arsenal” (/Off Our Backs/, June 2008).

And so with the knowledge and confidence that women as peace makers can make a difference in this conflict, Isis International reiterates their visions and echoes their voices in this turbulent time.

— END —

Cai Yiping
Executive Director
Isis International
3 Marunong Street, Central District, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. +63 2 928-1956
Fax. +63 2 924-1065
E-mail: yiping[at]isiswomen[dot]org

A diverse group of Jewish Canadian women are currently (7 Jan) occupying the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street West in Toronto. This action is in protest against the on-going Israeli assault on the people of Gaza.

The group is carrying out this occupation in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza and to ensure that Jewish voices against the massacre in Gaza are being heard. They are demanding that Israel end its military assault and lift the 18-month siege on the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

Israel has been carrying out a full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip since December 27, 2008. At least 660 people have been killed and 3000 injured in the air strikes and in the ground invasion that began on January 3, 2009. Israel has ignored international calls for a ceasefire and is refusing to allow food, adequate medical supplies and other necessities of life into the Gaza Strip.

Protesters are outraged at Israel′s latest assault on the Palestinian people and by the Canadian government′s refusal to condemn these massacres. They are deeply concerned that Canadians are hearing the views of pro-Israel groups who are being represented as the only voice of Jewish Canadians. The protesters have occupied the consulate to send a clear statement that many Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel′s violence and apartheid policies. They are joining with people of conscience all across the world who are demanding an end to Israeli aggression and justice for the Palestinian people.

The group includes: Judy Rebick, professor; Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst and president of Science for Peace; B.H. Yael, filmmaker; Smadar Carmon, an Canadian Israeli peace activist and others.

We, the members of the Women’s International League for Peace Freedom, are horrified at Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

We join with millions around the world in protests and call for an immediate cease fire.

We are profoundly distressed, knowing that the continuous bombardment will lead to further civilian deaths and suffering, and this massive escalation of violence could spiral out of control and engulf the whole region in war.

The massive air attack is a crime against humanity as it comes on top of the two-year inhumane siege that Israel has imposed on the one and a half million people living in Gaza, the world’s largest prison.
As US citizens, we call on our own government to use its decisive influence on Israel to stop the bombing and pledge not to do a ground invasion of Gaza.

We condemn “Operation Cast Lead,” which began around 11:30 A.M on Saturday, December 27, as 64 aircraft delivered over 100 tons of explosives upon 50 to 100 suspected Hamas targets in the Strip, and is the largest Israeli operation on Gaza since 1967. This operation represents major violations of International law, which forbids the collective punishment of a whole population, the targeting of civilian populations and civilian infrastructure, and the disproportionate use of military attacks against a civilian population which has no national army.

We condemn US complicity, as described by Phyllis Bennis:

“The United States remains directly complicit in Israeli violations of both U.S. domestic and international law through its continual provision of military aid. The current round of air strikes have been carried out largely with F-16 bombers and Apache attack helicopters both provided to Israel through U.S. military aid grants of about $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer money sent to Israel every year… In short, Israel’s lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military support of the United States.”
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, December 28 2008

We also call on President-elect Obama to use his influence to make a positive change in this situation.

We support the demand of the Middle East Quartet for an immediate 48 hour cease-fire fully respected by both sides. We support their call “for all parties to address the serious and economic needs in Gaza and to take the necessary measures to ensure the continuous provisions to address the serious humanitarian crisis.”

We call on the UN to adopt and enforce a binding resolution to ensure an immediate ceasefire, to lift the blockade of the territory imposed by Israel, and to provide immediate humanitarian aid.

As of this writing, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed and over 2000 have been wounded, the majority of whom are women and children, which is the natural consequence of bombing one and half million people enclosed in an area in which 50% of the population are children and 70% are refugees.

While we recognize the incredible military advantage of Israel, we also recognize the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel, as this threatens the lives of Israelis civilians and is used as a pretext to continue bombing.

We urge all parties to come to the peace table to negotiate an agreement that would restore a just peace, address injustices, and build long-term economic prosperity that would benefit all people living in the region.

Our WILPF Palestinian sisters state: “Israel and the International community should recognize the democratically elected representatives, and lifting all the economic siege imposed on the Palestinian government and people, and the release of all political prisoners among them 45 Palestinian Parliamentarians. Without these measures peace cannot flourish and Hamas cannot abide to the demands of the international community”.

The Israeli Women’s Coalition for Peace, which includes WILPF, states:
“The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence as strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic, and social.”

We women’s organizations from a broad spectrum of political views demand an end to the bombing and other tools of death, and call for the immediate start of deliberations to talk peace and not make war. The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence a strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic, and social.

It is clear that the highest price is paid by women and others from the periphery – geographic, economic, ethnic, social, and cultural – who now, as always, are excluded from the public eye and dominant discourse.

The time for women is now. We demand that words and actions be conducted in another language.

Ahoti: For Women in Israel
Anuar: Jewish and Arab Women Leadership
Artemis: Economic Society for Women
Bat Shalom
Coalition of Women for Peace
Economic Empowerment for Women
Feminancy: College for Women’s Empowerment
Feminist Activist Group – Jerusalem
Feminist Activist Group – Tel Aviv
International Women’s Commission: Israeli Branch
Isha L’Isha: Haifa Feminist Center
Itach: Women Lawyers for Social Justice
Kol Ha-Isha: Jerusalem Women’s Center
Mahut Center: Information, Training, and Employment for Women
Shin Movement: Equal Representation for Women
Supportive Community: Women’s Business Development Center
Tmura: The Israeli Antidiscrimination Legal Center
University against Harassment – Tel Aviv
Women and their Bodies
Women’s Parliament
Women’s Spirit: Financial Independence for Women Victims of Violence

1 January 2009

Press Release – 28 December 2008

The International Women’s Commission (IWC) for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace demands an immediate cessation of the aggression by the Israeli military forces in Gaza, which has already cost hundreds of lives.

This slaughter can only further fuel the conflict and quash any remaining hope for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people.

The IWC calls on the international community, and specifically to the Quartet, to immediately deploy an international force to bring an end to this madness, to protect innocent civilians and to alleviate the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The IWC further appeals to the Quartet, and in particular to the incoming US Administration, to press for immediate resumption of peace negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative as the only way of bringing an end to the occupation and achieving sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine, and in the region.

On behalf of IWC Members:

Palestinian Steering Committee
Wafa’ Abdel-Rahman
Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas
Samia Bamieh
Lama Hourani

Israeli Steering Committee
Naomi Chazan
Galia Golan
Anat Saragusti
Aida Touma-Sliman

International Steering Committee
Sylvia Borren
Luisa Morgantini
Jessica Neuwirth
Simone Susskind