Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Craigslist has closed down its adult services ads on a worldwide basis, just four months after shutting down the listings in the U.S. due to prostitution complaints.

The classifieds web site, started by entrepreneur Craig Newmark (pictured), came under intense pressure because many of the ads were thinly veiled prostitution solicitations. In September, Craiglist took down the adult services listings in the U.S. In doing so, it replaced the listings with the word, “censored.”

Opponents of the sexually-charged listings claimed victory. Evidently, it’s hard for companies that want to be recognized as legitimate to have any kind of association with something unsavory. That’s why companies such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon have also dropped WikiLeaks, which has come under fire for releasing diplomatic secrets.

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal confirmed that the adult services section is shut everywhere and he said, “This worldwide shutdown of erotic services sections on Craigslist is a victory in the fight against sexual exploitation of women and children and human trafficking connected to prostitution.”

Blumenthal fought the removal of the adult services from Craigslist after Boston University medical student Philip Markoff was accused of killing Julissa Brisman in April. Police said the killer found the woman through her Craigslist ad. Craigslist has not offered comment yet.

Newmark was ambushed in an Aug. 13 interview by CNN reporter Amber Lyon, who asked him what Craigslist was doing to protect young girls who advertised in the adult services section of the site. She told him that a number of child protection advocates have told her that Craigslist is the “Wal-mart of child sex trafficking.” Under further questioning, Newmark stared at her and referred Lyon to the company’s blog.

Lyon put Newmark on the spot, saying he was the “Craig in Craigslist” and was responsible. In a subsequent blog post, Newmark said that Jim Buckmaster, chief executive, has been running the site for the last 10 years and that his role is as a customer service rep. Newmark said he should have just referred Lyon to Buckmaster, but, instead, he froze on camera and looked “uncaring.” CNN aired the piece dozens of times. Buckmaster, meanwhile, lashed out at Lyonand wrote how Craigslist was trying to do the right thing, manually screening ads in its adult services site since May 2009. It has also pointed out how similar ads on eBay go unnoticed.

For earlier stories see

A scan of Craigslist’s Canadian websites suggests the U.S.-based classifieds website has taken down its controversial “erotic services” section, following months of political pressure.

On afternoon of Saturday 18th December 2010, most Canadian homepages did not display the section. Previously, the ads had shown blatant sex listings, which included prices and accompanying photos.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he was glad that the San Francisco-based company had taken the section out of its popular listings.

“Our government was concerned that such advertisements could facilitate serious criminal offences, such as living on the avails of child prostitution and trafficking in persons,” he said in a statement sent to The Canadian Press.

For the past four months, provincial and federal politicians have lobbied Craigslist to remove the ads following a similar debate in the U.S., where several attorneys general complained that the section promoted the illegal sex trade.

That public debate prompted Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley to write a pair of letters to Craigslist chief Jim Buckmaster, personally asking him to get rid of the ads in Canada. Governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta followed with the same request.

“It’s an important step and an important signal,” Bentley told CP. “We’re pleased Craigslist appears to have taken steps to protect women, children and the vulnerable.”

No official comment was immediately available from Craigslist, and some ads in Halifax and elsewhere were online Saturday afternoon.

Some advocates for a safer sex trade have said pulling the ads simply sweeps the larger issues of prostitution and sexual exploitation out of the public eye.

This is the result of a review by police following articles in a local paper that found a sharp drop in rapes in Baltimore – disproportionate to that of other cities – was a result of police too quickly dismissing complaints from women.

After the stories, city officials launched their own investigation and the results were revealed at a recent City Council hearing:

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the audit, along with other comprehensive changes in recent months, “has forever changed and improved the way sexual assault cases are investigated in Baltimore, ensuring that all victims of sexual assault have their complaints investigated fully and are treated with dignity and respect.”

Officials outlined a series of reforms, including barring beat officers from dismissing complaints without review, and police now work closely with rape crisis centers, even using counselors on interviews, to ease concerns of victims.

See also: Recognizing rape: Baltimore’s attitude about sexual assault has changed

There isn’t really such thing as a “masculine” and a “feminine,” says feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Because we’ve been so deeply propagandized with the notions about what it means to be male or female, we don’t even know what the differences between these groups truly are. What we do know is that individual differences are much greater than group differences she says: “The differences between two women are quite likely to be bigger than the generalized differences between males and females as groups for every purpose except reproduction, just as the individual differences between two members of the same race or ethnicity are probably greater than the differences between two races.”

In her Big Think interview, Steinem sets the record straight about the oft-demonized feminist movement. Its purpose is not to attack men but “to free the uniqueness of the individual and to understand that inside each of us is a unique human being who is a combination of heredity and environment.” And in this pursuit, tremendous headway has been made, but there is still much more to be done.

Feminism isn’t dead, says Steinem. That’s merely a lie spread by the right. In the 1960s and ’70s, critics of feminism said that it wasn’t necessary, that women didn’t want these new rights and freedoms, and they are still propagating anti-feminist narratives. “The idea that feminism has not succeeded or that this generation has rejected it is just a new form of the backlash,” she says. But their efforts haven’t succeeded. “Even though the opposition has tried very hard to demonize [feminism] and to call us Femi-Nazis and terrible stuff, there are still about a third of American women who self identify as feminists with no definition and with the definition it’s more than 60%.”

We must also reassess our assumptions about men, she tells us. “We’ve demonstrated in this and other modern countries or industrialized countries that women can do what men can do, but we have not demonstrated that men can do what women can do,” she says. “Therefore children are still mostly raised by women, and women in industrialized modern countries end up having two jobs: one outside the home and one inside the home. And more seriously than that, children grow up believing that only women can be loving and nurturing, which is a libel on men, and that only men can be powerful in the world outside the home, which is a libel on women.”

Another sign of positive change would be a change in the forms of pornography society consumes, says Steinem. Pornography is tantamount to female slavery: “It’s all about passive dominance and pain,” she says. “I want to pass a newsstand and see erotica, real erotica, which has to do with love and free choice, not pornography,” she tells us. The same is true of prostitution: men go to prostitutes because they need a certain kind of dominance, which she says is an addiction to masculinity. “What has been eroticized by male dominant systems of all kinds is dominance and passivity; we need to eroticize equality,” she argues. “I always say to audiences of men, ‘Cooperation beats submission.’ Trust me.”

Finally, Steinem tells us why Sarah Palin’s choice to brand “mama grizzlies” as the mascot for right-wing women is so ironic. Grizzly bears are actually the animals that most embody reproductive freedoms, she says.


Interview: Has feminism succeeded – interview with Gloria Steinem

One small study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, rather than take on the whole industry, the institute only focuses on what’s produced for children and who’s involved in those productions.

Over the years, the institute’s studies have shattered any illusion that children’s programming doesn’t share the same prejudices of adult entertainment.

The institute’s most recent study is the largest content survey ever done of U.S.-produced children’s films. And since the United States produces 80 per cent of all movies in the world, it’s the largest ever, anywhere. (Download

It was done by Stacy Smith and Marc Choueiti at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who analyzed films released in the United States and Canada between Sept. 5, 2006, and Sept. 7, 2009.

They and more than 80 students looked at all G-rated, English-language fictional narratives and the 50 top grossing PG and PG-13 movies.

What they found is that the world portrayed in kids’ shows is dominated by men — or at least males, since some of the kids’ characters are animals and even cars.

Of the 5,554 speaking roles, 71 per cent of the characters had men’s or boy’s voices.

But in three years’ worth of children’s movies ranging from fictional narratives to dramas and cartoons, the most shocking conclusion is how the few female characters are portrayed.

Whether they’re fish, penguins, stuffed animals or people, the female characters are mostly young, sexy, beautiful and passive sidekicks. Eye candy.

A quarter of the female characters wore sexy attire. One in five was partly nude.

The tiny-waisted female bodies depicted veer so substantially from the norm that researchers noted there is “little room for a womb or for any other internal organ.”

Even in their small numbers, female characters are disproportionately young. One in five is under 21, nearly double the number of male characters that age. But after 40? Women fall off the cliff, says Smith, who presented her research at Vancouver’s SexMediaMoney symposium.

Smith and the Davis Institute aren’t just interested in how females are depicted in children’s programming, they want to know why and how to change it. Again, they’ve got the statistics to make their case.

Women behind the scenes — the content creators who include producers, directors, writers, camera operators and so on — are even rarer than females onscreen. Again, the statistics seem shocking in an age when people have come to believe that the equality battles have all been won.

In those three years’ worth of children’s movies, the content creators were almost all men. They comprised 93 per cent of the directors, 87 per cent of the writers, 80 per cent of the producers.

So why does that matter? Because even where there was a single female director or writer, the percentage of female characters rose.

But here’s the more significant statistic — and it’s the point that Madeline Di Nonno, the Davis Institute’s executive director, drives home in meetings with media executives. When there are two or more women behind the scenes, the number of onscreen female characters jumps.

Two seems to be a tipping point akin to the 30 per cent that female politicians say is necessary for their voices and issues to be heard and taken seriously.

So why should it matter whether there’s a strong female character in Finding Nemo, Madagascar or Ice Age? Why does it matter if the female characters in children’s shows are hyper-sexualized?

A multi-year study by Rand Corp. found, for example, that the teens who watch the most sex on television are the first to have sex and the first to get pregnant.

Like little boys, girls need strong role models, too. They need more than just Dora the Explorer and teeny-bikini-clad Little Mermaid. And the way to get there is to provide more opportunities for those children’s mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and even grandmothers to write and produce those characters for them.

Part of a longer article at

See also: SEXMONEYMEDIA an international symposium on women in the media

The Syrian government should immediately release Tal al-Mallohi, a 19-year-old high school student and blogger held incommunicado without charge for nine months, Human Rights Watch said today. She has been held by Syria’s security services since being detained on December 27, 2009.

State Security (Branch 279), one of Syria’s multiple state security agencies, summoned al-Mallohi to Damascus for interrogation in December and immediately detained her. Two days later, members of State Security went to al-Mallohi’s house and confiscated her computer, some CDs, books, and other personal belongings. Since the arrest, the security services have not allowed her family to communicate with her and have not offered any explanation for the arrest.

“Detaining a high school student for nine months without charge is typical of the cruel, arbitrary behavior of Syria’s security services,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A government that thinks it can get away with trampling the rights of its citizens has lost all connection to its people.”

It is unclear why the authorities have detained al-Mallohi. According to her family, al-Mallohi, who is in her last year of high school, does not belong to any political group. Some Syrian activists have expressed concerns that security services may have detained her over a poem she wrote criticizing certain restrictions on freedom of expression in Syria. Her blog, which contains poetry and social commentary, focuses mostly on the plight of Palestinians and does not address Syrian political issues. Her homepage shows a picture of Gandhi with the quote, “you will remain an example.”

On September 1, al-Malouhi’s mother issued a public appeal to President Bashar al-Asad urging him to provide her with information about her daughter.

See also:

The Afghan blogosphere is small but female practitioners say their words are closely monitored. The backlash to what they say helps define a range of off-limit topics, from criticizing religion to advocating for women’s rights.

“Voice for the voiceless” is the slogan adorning the walls of Liberia’s first and Africa’s second radio station for women.

Situated down a bumpy, dirt track on the edge of the capital, Monrovia, the Liberia Women Democracy Radio (LWDR), claims it wants to advance women and promote change. In a country trying to rebuild itself after 14 years of civil war in which women bore the brunt of the violence, they remain the most vulnerable group in society.

“Before the radio station, we couldn’t get our voices heard. The big people wouldn’t take our problems seriously,” says Deborah Reeves, a mother of four in Monrovia. “Now they hear them over and over.”

The 30 year old lives on Pagos Island, a stretch of land surrounded by swamps completely cut off from the rest of the city. On an island without electricity, public schools, a police station and not one health centre, the four thousand inhabitants struggle to even make a living.

“I’ve seen things on this island that aren’t right in a civilised world,” exclaims Reeves as she shelters in the community church with around forty other women.

“We’re a forgotten community, just fending for ourselves.No one sees us. It’s like we’re not even here.”

Reeves has brought people from the community together to talk about how they, as women, can use the radio station to tell their stories in an attempt to get authorities to act. As they sit in the stifling heat, some with their babies strapped to their backs, others with a small child at their knees, slowly, one by one, they get the courage to stand up to tell their story.

One speaker, more a teenager than a woman, describes how she started walking to the nearest clinic when she felt her first contraction. It was dark, she was on her own and she had a two to three hour trek ahead of her. She ended up giving birth on the way.

As she stands in front of the women, with passion and sadness in her eyes, she explains how she tried to get the baby to take its first breath.She had no idea how to do it, so she lay there on the road as the baby died in her arms.

“I didn’t want to talk today,” she says. “But this is just disgracing women.”

This story is just one of thousands.

“In the rural areas, women are not heard,” says Lady Mai Hunter, as she looks over her microphone in the production studio at LWDR. These are the hard to reach groups the station wants to broadcast to. Funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and facilitated by the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), LWDR broadcasts to eight of Liberia’s fifteen counties. Their aim is to increase their transmitter power and reach out to women all over the country.

At 22 years old and already a young mother herself, Hunter knows all too well the struggles women in Liberia still face. “We have a female President and outside of Liberia people think that everything is okay for women here, but it’s not. Sexual exploitation, rape and wife battering are all big problems here.”

In 2006, Liberia voted in Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. While this in itself is a great inspiration for women all over the country, female voices are still rare in high level discussions on peace and security. For President Sirleaf, LWDR is a way to get those often forgotten voices aired.

“I’m extremely pleased and I understand we’re the second women’s radio station on the continent and that again pleases us in that we’ve broken ground in this regard,” says Sirleaf she.

However, the president is aware of the challenges Liberian women face. “We still have some serious problems in Liberia; serious problems regarding rape, regarding the retention of girls in school. I hope through this station they will be able to focus on these problems.”

Rape is the number one reported crime in Liberia and children are often the victims. A recent survey of rape survivors in Monrovia found three out of eight were under the age of twelve, while one in ten was under five. But issues like rape, teenage pregnancy, female genital mutilation and prostitution are rarely, if ever, talked about on other stations across the country.

The media, run almost exclusively by men, seldom touch on these subjects, preferring to pontificate about politics and policy making. With the next elections in October 2011, LWDR is calling for women to start playing a crucial role in shaping their country’s future.

And so far, the Liberia Women Democracy Radio station is providing a glimmer of hope for women like Deborah Reeves. “LWDR is an eye opener for us. To be frank, women face such terrible conditions in this country and their voices are never heard. Now, if I’m hurt, I can use the radio to tell my story and reach authorities who can help us.”

Campaigners against prostitution and sex trafficking appeared to have won a victory over the weekend when Craigslist, the powerful online advertising website, capitulated to mounting pressure and removed its “adult services” content from US servers.

The move is an important concession in the fierce debate in America between free speech and first amendment advocates and those seeking to clean up the web and protect vulnerable girls and women from exploitation. It follows a sustained campaign by prosecutors across the US to have the sex advertisements removed.

In the absence of comment from Craigslist, it is not clear whether the shift will be permanent. It is also unclear what the concession means for other countries, including the UK, where “erotic” services remained available today. However, the fact that the site’s executives placed a “censored” block over its adult services link in the US suggests that, in word at least, they have not given up the fight.

The sex services portion of the website, previously called its “erotic” section, was criticised as a thinly veiled clearing house for prostitution. It exposed Craigslist to several damaging scandals, the most serious of which was the killing in April last year of Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old masseuse from New York, in a Boston hotel. Philip Markoff, her alleged murderer, was dubbed the Craigslist killer because he had arranged to meet her through the site. He killed himself in jail last month.

Brandon Petty pleaded guilty last month to sexually attacking with a knife four women who had advertised for sex through Craigslist. He faces up to 45 years in prison.

Also last month, an advert was placed in the Washington Post and another paper under the headline “Dear Craig”, in which two women said they had been forced into prostitution with punters attracted through the website. One of the women said she had been sold by the hour at lorry rest stops while the other said she had been a victim of sex trafficking from the age of 11.

Chief prosecutors from 17 states across the US clubbed together on 24 August to write a joint letter to the website complaining that “ads trafficking children are rampant on it”. They accused the site of profiting from the “suffering of the women and children who continue to be victimised by Craigslist”.

Though Craigslist has faced an intensifying public relations crisis, it is shielded from prosecution by a federal law that protects internet providers from the actions of their users.

According to web advertising monitors AIM group, Craigslist made $45m from its sex ads last year, about a third of its total profits. The website insists it has responded to concerns by introducing in the past year a system of weeding out the most egregious adverts, claiming to have rejected 700,000 items since May 2009.

“Craigslist is committed to being socially responsible, and when it comes to adult services ads, that includes aggressively combating violent crime and human rights violations,” the chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, recently said on his blog.

President says ban is part of a strategy to fight people trafficking and sexual exploitation rife in Spain

The Spanish government has put itself on collision course with the national press with the announcement that it wants to ban adverts offering sexual services from their classified sections.

The explicit adverts, which fill at least a page in most of Spain’s dailies, are worth €40m (£34m) a year to the struggling newspaper industry.

President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero made the announcement during this week’s state of the nation speech, saying it was part of a strategy to fight the people trafficking and sexual exploitation that was rife in the country.

“As long as these advertisements exist, they contribute to the idea of this activity as normal,” he said.

The Association of Spanish Newspaper Editors responded by saying that the logical policy would be for the government to make prostitution illegal. “If it was illegal, then newspapers wouldn’t carry the ads,” a spokesman said.

If the ads are banned, newspapers will want to be compensated and, worryingly for Zapatero, El País, a staunch supporter of his socialist party, is the paper that earns the most from this form of advertising. With its left-liberal sensibilities and readership profile, El País is the Spanish paper that most resembles the Guardian, and yet it earns €5m a year from advertising prostitution.

Yolanda Besteiro of the Progressive Women’s Federation was scathing about what she regards as the newspaper’s hypocrisy. “No media outlet can proclaim itself a defender of human rights when it publishes this kind of advertising, which makes them directly complicit in this type of slavery,” she said.

The most openly religious daily, ABC, also runs the ads. El Publíco is the only national that does not run them as a matter of policy.

Spain is the only European country where the “quality” press carries adverts for sex. With the migration of most classified advertising to the internet, prostitution now accounts for 60% of the Spanish classified ad market.

Prostitution is big business in Spain, worth an estimated €18bn a year. There are about 200,000 sex workers in the country, nearly all of them immigrants, many of them illegal. Prostitutes are a common sight in cities, and it is impossible to go far along any main road before finding an oddly named “alternate club”, rural brothels that can house as many as 100 women.

Most of the newspaper ads are not placed by individual women but by the mafias – largely from Romania, Nigeria and various Latin American countries – who exploit them. Proof of this emerged this month when police broke up a prostitution network in Madrid after following up ads in various papers. The women were being forced to give half their earnings to pimps, and much of the rest went on paying for their lodgings, leaving them, the police said, “in a state of near slavery”.

See also: Newspaper and magazine editors have called for prostitution to be made illegal if they are to be banned from featuring advertisements for sexual services.

A national campaign that uses the power of pop culture, media and community mobilisation for outreach against domestic violence India has bagged the prestigious Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Right’s body Breakthrough’s “Bell Bajao! Campaign” against domestic violence has bagged the prestigious Silver Lion, India’s only win in the film category out of the five shortlisted entries.

The films have been created by Ogilvy & Mather and directed by Bauddhayan Mukherjee of Little Lamb Films.

“Bell Bajao” campaign was launched in August 2008 with the support of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and campaign ambassador and popular filmstar Boman Irani. The campaign is based on true stories of people who joined the movement against domestic violence.

“The Silver Lion provides us with a global platform to spotlight violence against women and to ask men and boys to become partners in ending it,” Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough said in a statement.

“What makes this win even more wonderful, is the fact that this work was not created because one wanted to win an award. But because everyone from the client to the creative team to the filmmaker believed this was what it would take to put an end to domestic violence,” said Ogilvy & Mather group creative director Zenobia Pithawalla.

The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is considered one of the biggest celebration of creativity in communications.

Italian television could finally be heading in the direction of feminism with the formation of a new anti-sexism watchdog that will crack down on the gratuitous use of young female flesh by state-funded Rai TV.

The new panel will work ‘independently’ for ensuring “the correct representation of people’s dignity, with particular emphasis on the distorted representation of women”.

Approved by ministers, if the panel spots too much flesh or female stereotyping, it will report back to the Rai commission in parliament, which has the power to censure programme-makers.

“Is this the beginning of a revolution? We hope so. With the creation of the panel to monitor the way women are portrayed on state TV we hope to curb the use of women as mere decorative images,” The Independent quoted Giovanna Melandri, the Democratic Party MP and a member of the Rai commission in parliament, as saying.

Silvia Costa, an Italian member of the European Parliament, agreed, “I’m very satisfied that this amendment that has been approved will allow a more realistic representation of women in our country.”

Even Mediaset, owned by the infamous Silvio Berlusconi, allowed a female presenter a stint on its top-rated evening satire show Striscia La Notizia (Hot off the Press), which despite its pretensions of sophistication, still employs dancing girls in hot pants to flesh out the programme.

“Every five years some politician realises that Italian TV is too sexist, and tries to change that. It never worked and I’m not sure it will work this time,” he said.

“It would be like trying to stop us eating pizza: showing sexy girls on TV is so ingrained in our daily life that it can’t be stopped anymore. I really believe that,” said one Mediaset comedy writer who declined to be named. (ANI)

Five female news presenters at the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite television channel have resigned over conflicts with management over dress code and other issues, a journalist there said last week.

“This collective resignation is not motivated just by the growing pressure on the presenters concerning their dress code, which was evoked by the media,” said the journalist, who asked not to be identified.

“The conflicts run much deeper,” the journalist added.

The news presenters who have reportedly quit are Jumana Namur, Lina Zahreddin, Lona al-Shibel, Julnar Mussa and Nofar Afli.

The Al-Hayat daily reported on Sunday that they had resigned in the past few days after petitioning management in January over repeated criticism from a top company official for allegedly not being conservative enough in their dress.

Management of the Doha-based channel told AFP it would issue a response later.

Established in 1996 by the government of Qatar, Al-Jazeera has revamped the Arab media scene by departing from the traditional government-mouthpiece news style and providing wide news coverage, and becoming a trailblazer for many subsequent channels.

But its editorial line has been strongly criticised by Washington, which has accused the channel of becoming a podium for Islamist extremists, mainly in Iraq, where it has been banned from operating since 2004.

The network has several channels, including Al-Jazeera English.

The First International Women and Film Festival for Gender Equity drew enthusiastic audiences this month in the Argentine capital, where movies from nearly 40 countries were screened.

In comments to IPS, the organisers said they felt they had achieved their goals of increasing the visibility of women’s problems, raising awareness among viewers about the debate on the inequality of the sexes, and promoting inter-gender dialogue.

“The results were more than positive,” said the artistic director of the festival, Cynthia Judkowski. “We had a great deal of active participation from male and female members of the audiences, at the screenings and at the debates, which were so well-attended that some people were unable to get in.”

The festival, titled “Mujeres en foco” (Women in Focus), was held May 5-10 at six venues in Buenos Aires that served as movie theatres or debating halls. There was also a retrospective, and a seminar on screenwriting, directing and producing.

The idea was to call on filmmakers to submit films that address women’s issues related to health, migration, cultural practices, violence, inequality, political participation, sexual diversity and family life.

“Over 200 films were entered, and we selected 68, five of which competed in the feature-length category and six in the short film category,” Judkowski said.

“Cholita libre”, a documentary on Bolivian immigrants by German filmmaker Rike Holtz, won first prize for feature-length film. The jury stressed that the film not only focused on issues of central interest to the festival, but that it did so with perception, humour and beauty.

Second prize went to Venezuelan director Clarisa Duque’s “Tambores de agua”, which portrays the lives of black women from coastal communities in Venezuela.

Among the shorts, prizes were taken by “Ana y Mateo”, by Natural Arpajou from Argentina, and “Il Corpo delle donne (The Body of Women) by Italian filmmakers Lorella Zanardo and Marco Malfi.

The films selected came from Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, among other countries.

Films by women directors included “Claroscuro” by Ana Faerrón of Costa Rica, about a women’s music group, “Fim do silêncio” (The End of Silence) by Thereza Jessouroun of Brazil, about unsafe abortion, and “Mémoire à la dérive” (Memory Adrift) by Pauline Voisard of Canada.

Films by male directors who tackled subjects from a gender perspective were also screened, such as “Lilja 4-Ever” by Lukas Moodysson of Sweden, and “Antiguos sueños de mujeres kichwas” (Quechua Women’s Former Dreams) by Santiago Carcelén Cornejo of Ecuador.

Entrance to the film shows was free, and there were no charges for registering films for the competition, each section of which was judged by a panel comprising two women and a man.

A retrospective of the work of Spanish filmmaker Helena Taberna, the director of “Yoyes” and “La buena nueva” (The Good News), was also shown. Taberna herself gave a seminar on screenwriting, producing and directing.

Debates were held on subjects like the place of women in the media, and “machista” violence. A meeting was also held for filmmakers wanting to explore how to promote gender parity and human rights.

“The aim was to create an opportunity for meeting, exchanging ideas and promoting movies by men and women directors that deal with gender issues and human rights,” Judkowski said.

In the medium term, the idea is to stimulate the making of films embodying commitment to a gender perspective and human rights.

Usually, festivals stressing women’s point of view include a broad variety of subjects, but show films made exclusively by women directors.

The Buenos Aires festival was organised on the reverse principle: the subjects of the films were limited to key issues about gender perspectives, while the sex of the directors was immaterial.

The organisers, a group of independent professional women filmmakers, were supported by a number of local and international institutions. They plan to hold the festival on an annual basis in Buenos Aires, as well as taking it abroad.

“We are convinced that the practice of art is transformational and revolutionary insofar as it modifies space and time, creating new situations… that challenge social relations of domination,” the festival announcement said. (END)

More than half of the 72 million primary school-aged children out of school are girls. These children mostly come from the world’s poorest communities and, in many cases, from nations with long histories of conflict.

For the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), UNICEF Radio podcast moderator Amy Costello spoke with Bob Prouty, Head of the Secretariat of the Education for All – Fast Track Initiative, a global partnership between donor and developing countries to speed progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015; and Suaad Allami, Iraqi lawyer and human rights activist.

The podcast discussion covered the ways poverty affects girls’ and boys’ access to education across the globe.

Mr. Prouty said the exclusion of girls from schooling is a result of many factors. Poverty, he added, is “highest in line.”

Girls are often put to work around the home or sent out to earn money. “The more the financial challenges are felt by families, the more likely they are to see the opportunities for girls to bring in some additional income,” Mr. Prouty said. The family income lost if girls are not working – coupled in many places with the high direct cost of schooling – is likely to be a major obstacle to educating girls, he added.

Culture and tradition can also play a “big role” in preventing girls from receiving a quality education, said Ms. Allami. In her native Iraq, she noted, “culture is one of the [biggest] challenges to face these girls when they want to continue their studies.”

Ms. Allami said she has witnessed significant changes in education levels overtime in her country. In the past, she noted, Iraqi women were highly educated compared with other girls in the region.

In contemporary Iraq, she said, “many families prevent their girls from going to schools, to universities. They are concerned about their safety, kidnappings, killings.” Today, literacy rates are low throughout Iraq, especially among women and girls. Violence and years of economic sanctions associated with past wars have made it particularly difficult for girls to receive an education, said Ms. Allami.

“Conflict disproportionately keeps kids out of school,” Mr. Prouty agreed, adding that it is “the single biggest remaining obstacle towards education for all.”

And armed conflict exacerbates the problems of poverty. “Conflict invariably has a larger impact on the poorest families,” said Mr. Prouty.

Despite these challenges, the Fast Track Initiative is leading to some improvements. “We’re seeing very positive movement in terms of parents trying to get their children started in school,” said Mr. Prouty.

But in developing countries, girls still drop out of school at higher rates than boys. As more children – including more girls – are enrolled in school, an increasingly central challenge will be to keep them there.

“The challenges we see, more and more, are in trying to get girls through schooling and up into higher levels of school,” said Mr. Prouty.

AUDIO: Listen now

Haitian women have been increasingly vocal and active in social, political, and economic issues since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Though it has not come easily, their progress in changing gender relations of power within the home, within social movements, and within the nation has been steady.

Women’s organizations have been key to these advances, helping create the space to foster and protect women’s activism. One network is helping women gain voice, literally: the Haitian Women’s Community Radio Network (REFRAKA by its Creole acronym).

The importance of radio cannot be overstated in a country where 45% of men, and 49% of women, are illiterate.[1] Nor can the significance of women taking the microphone, in a country where aggressive patriarchy in the home and society, as well as violence from male partners and the state, have tried to keep them silent.

Founded in 2001, REFRAKA includes 25 member stations in nine of Haiti’s ten geographic departments. The network has trained about 150 women as journalists, program hosts, and production technicians.

Moreover, REFRAKA helps women in various radio stations make programs about local issues, while also producing national-level shows which are then aired on member stations. REFRAKA staff produces a special radio-magazine each month, one hour each, on specific gender-related topics such as women’s political advocacy, gender relations, Haitian women’s social realities, violence, HIV-AIDS, and news about women from around the world. They also produce 30-minute shows especially for girls aged 11-15 in community schools, called Own Your Body, Care for Your Body which discuss issues including girl’s bodies and health, and relations between girls and boys.

REFRAKA’s office was destroyed and all their archives, materials, and supplies were lost in the January 12 earthquake. Their work is temporarily on hold as they reestablish their institution. Soon they will resume their programs, this time with a sharp focus on the status of women in this catastrophe phase and the participation of women in the reconstruction.

Marie Guirlene Justin, program director of REFRAKA, tells more.

“When we started working, it was very hard because of the machismo from men who couldn’t accept women’s voices getting out like this. Before it was hard to find women speaking on the radio; now it’s not.Now women are advancing. More women are trained in reporting and production. There are more women on the radio, and there are more women’s radio programs. Now we have women who are directors of radio stations, though there are still no women owners. Men are starting to understand, and gender issues are crossing over into other radio programs.

“More women are speaking their own truth. For example, you have CONAP [the National Coalition to Advocate the Rights of Women by its French acronym]… When CONAP hosts something in Port-au-Prince, REFRAKA does a radio program on it and gets it out into the countryside. That way rural women don’t feel alone. We cover what groups like SOFA [Solidarity Among Haitian Women] are doing, which gives the women’s movement a lot of strength.

“We’re taking small steps. Today on the radio, you hear less music and proverbs discriminating against women. This has to be reinforced so that we don’t go backwards. You know that relations between women and men are fragile today, especially with all the displacement since the earthquake.

“One of the new concepts following the earthquake is reconstructing another form of participation, where women can participate in everything, in the big debates about reconstruction, in planning national development for another Haiti. A process where women and men put their hands together to build something new in this country will be very different than one where men are making decisions for everyone. When we have a society where women have a say in what they want and need, we’ll be closer to having a society based on social justice, an equitable society. Then we’ll have balanced relations, with the possibility for everyone to live in peace.

“Popular communications is a big part of this. It’s an important form for people to have their own voice to speak about questions that impact their lives with the reconstruction. Community stations are close to the people, and they give people a chance to understand what’s happening and insert themselves in it.

“In the context of Haiti’s reality today, we really need solidarity. In the earthquake, our office was smashed and we lost everything we had collected over nine years: our computers, records, cameras, office furniture… It’s all gone. Myself, I was trapped inside the office alone and I thought I would die. My ear was sliced open when a cement block fell on it. My home was destroyed.

“We don’t want the kind of international ‘help’ that we’re seeing throughout Haiti today, much of which is about domination. We want an exchange of experiences in the North and South where we each bring our own contribution. Today we need that type of solidarity, especially globally in the women’s movement.”

The International Herald Tribune (IHT) today launched a viral campaign to raise awareness of its new editorial series, The Female Factor. Aimed at influential women in business and government around the world, its release coincides with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The viral, entitled It’s a girl, was developed by London based creative agency Karmarama and tells the stories of thee women across the globe, highlighting their contrasting experiences. It is targeted at online channels, primarily women’s networks and bloggers who write about women’s issues, and has a dedicated Female Factor channel on U Tube.

John Scully, head of marketing for the IHT, said: “This is a high impact, thought-provoking viral that not only brings into relief the huge divergences in women’s lives but also gives a true flavor of the Female Factor series, driving people to our content.”

Nicola Mendelsohn, chairman of Karmarama added: “We wanted to create a viral that could capture women’s imaginations and at the same time, make them aware of the fact that the IHT is covering the issues they really care about from its unique international perspective.”

The Female Factor is a year-long series in the IHT, examining the most recent shifts in women’s power, prominence and impact on societies around the world, and assessing how women are influencing early 21st century development. The “Female Factor” series aims to take the reader on surprising journeys where women’s worlds intersect, whether they are in the western or the developing worlds, and answer the question: How does the ‘’Female Factor’’ influence early 21st century development?

The Female Factor: Conversations

Share your thoughts about the most recent shifts in women’s power, prominence and impact on societies around the world, as part of The Female Factor series.

RIGHTS: U.N. to Focus on Global Epidemic of Gender Abuse

EAST AFRICA: Women Want Visibility in Regional Union

THAILAND: Temple Grounds A Venue for Curbing Domestic Violence

POLITICS-PHILIPPINES: Rice and Condom on the Election Agenda

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Women Traders Demand Support

POLITICS-MAURITIUS: Plea for More Female Candidates

EAST AFRICA: Improving Local Access to Family Planning

RIGHTS: Iran Rebuffs U.N. Criticism, Denies Abuses

THAILAND: Women with HIV Break Silence, Confront Stigma

BRAZIL: Carnival, a Complex Annual Revolution for Women, Gays

POLITICS-TOGO: First Female Presidential Candidate

DEVELOPMENT-ASIA: ‘Poverty Still Has a Woman’s Face’

EUROPE: Fight Female Mutilation Harder Activists Urge EU

CENTRAL AMERICA: Women Eke Out a Living in Informal Economy


On February 10, 2010 photographer and videographer Umida Ahmedova was convicted by the Mirobad District Criminal Court on charges of slander and insulting the Uzbek people.

The charges were brought against Ahmedova in January 2010 on the basis of a book of photographs published in 2007 and a documentary film published in 2008. These works reflect everyday life and traditions in Uzbekistan, with a focus on gender inequality, but were found by the court to “discredit the foundations and customs of the people of Uzbekistan” and “offend [their] traditions.”

Ahmedova was amnestied in the courtroom in honor of the 18th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence and will not go to prison. She plans to appeal the court’s guilty verdict.

Prior to this conviction HRW had said:

The Uzbek authorities should immediately drop the baseless slander and insult charges against the prominent photographer and videographer Umida Ahmedova and allow her to carry out her work and exercise her right to freedom of expression without government interference, Human Rights Watch said today.

The charges were brought on January 13, 2010, under articles 139 and 140 of the Uzbek Criminal Code. On January 23, investigators informed Ahmedova that the investigation had been completed and that the trial is expected to begin soon. The charges, specifically slander and insulting the Uzbek people, are based on a book of Ahmedova’s photographs published in 2007 and a documentary film produced in 2008. If convicted, Ahmedova could face up to three years in prison.

“The charges against Umida Ahmedova reveal the absurd lengths the government will go to silence independent expression,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The case sets a dangerous precedent and is a threat to all Uzbek artists.”

Ahmedova’s book, “Women and Men: From Dawn till Dusk,” portrays rural Uzbekistan and Uzbek traditions, focusing on gender inequality. The film, “The Burden of Virginity,” explores the social consequences for brides who are suspected of not being virgins.

Both projects were funded by the Swiss Embassy in Tashkent. Human Rights Watch has received information that other artists whose projects were funded by the Swiss Embassy Gender Program have also come under investigation by the authorities.

As part of the investigation, the prosecutor ordered a review of Ahmedova’s book and film by an expert panel, consisting of six specialists in the fields of religious affairs, spirituality, and psychology. The panel concluded that Ahmedova’s work was insulting to the people of Uzbekistan and portrayed Uzbekistan in a negative light to Western audiences.

The panel said that 90 percent of the photos in Ahmedova’s book “were taken in remote, backward villages” and concluded that “the author’s aim is to show the difficult side of life [in Uzbekistan].” The panel expressed concern that “a foreigner who has never been to Uzbekistan, but who is familiar with this album, would reach the conclusion that [Uzbekistan] is a country where people live in the Middle Ages.” The experts concluded that Ahmedova’s “photo album does not conform to aesthetic demands,” and that “[d]istribution of this film does great damage to the spiritual values of Uzbekistan.”

“It is not the role of the Uzbek government to dictate how artists should depict Uzbek society, Cartner said. “The charges against Ahmedova are utterly groundless.”

Ahmedova was first questioned about her work in November 2009. At that time she was summoned to the Mirobad Police Station in Tashkent, the capital, where she was told by the investigator, Nodir Ahmadjanov, that she was a witness in the case. However, on December 16, Ahmedova was verbally informed that she was a suspect in a criminal investigation that had been opened in response to a review of her work, including the 2007 photo album and the 2008 documentary film, by the State Press and Information Agency. She was told she should hire a lawyer.

Ahmedova later learned through official case documents that she had already been a suspect when she was first questioned. Suspects are afforded greater rights than witnesses under Uzbek law, and investigators have an obligation to inform anyone who becomes a suspect as soon as that is determined. Those rights were denied Ahmedova because the investigator failed to inform her of her status.

On January 13, when the prosecutor’s office formally pressed criminal charges, Ahmedova was required to sign a document acknowledging that she had been accused. The document was back-dated to December 20. She was also required to sign another statement acknowledging that she is barred from leaving Uzbekistan.


Ahmedova, a photographer and cinematographer, graduated from the All-Soviet State Institute of Cinematography in 1986. She is a member of the Cinematography Union of Uzbekistan and of the Uzbek Academy of Artists. She has spoken on several television and radio programs about her work, and exhibited her photographs and films internationally, including in Tbilisi, Georgia at an international conference on Gender and Mass Media, as well as in cities across Europe. Ahmedova has won several prizes for her photography, including at the InterPress Photo Competition in Russia in 2004.

At the end of December, artists, photographers, journalists, and others from around the world issued an open statement addressed to Uzbekistan’s Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs Ministries, calling for the charges against Ahmedova to be dropped.

PAKISTAN: Mental Illness among Women: Gender-Driven?

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: “Machista” but Valued by Feminists Nonetheless

BURMA: Ethnic Women Expose Opium Fields in Junta Strongholds

KENYA: Documenting Sexual Violence

BOLIVIA: Unprecedented Gender Parity in Cabinet

FRANCE: Burqa Ban Keeps Immigration Issue Alive

ARGENTINA: Slow Progress in Cutting Maternal Deaths

ZIMBABWE: One Million Casualties of Land Reform

DEVELOPMENT: Yemen to Lead South in U.N. Negotiations

RIGHTS: EU Faults U.N. for Slowdown in Gender Empowerment

INDIA: Lay-offs from Recession-hit Gulf Lead to New Lives at Home

HAITI: Displaced Women Face Double Jeopardy

MEXICO: Women – Casualties in Army’s Counternarcotics War

PERU: Women Combine Invention, Tradition to Improve Rural Diets

U.S.: Bill Pledges a Billion Dollars to Fight Gender Violence

UGANDA: Early Diagnosis of HIV Still Elusive

RIGHTS: New U.N. Envoy to Crack Down on Sexual Violence

COSTA RICA: Chinchilla to Join Club of Women Presidents

KENYA: Victory for Anti-Abortion Lobby

PAKISTAN: Community Midwives Gain Recognition But Concerns Remain


Women are not welcome.

Our list of macho shows is long and non-exhaustive, including:‘On n’est pas couché’ , the Laurent Ruquier’s show, ‘Vous aurez le dernier mot’, presented by Franz-Olivier Giesbert, ‘Mots Croisés’ Yves Calvi, ‘L’objet du scandale’ with Guillaume Durand, ‘Le plus grand cabaret du monde’ with Patrick Sébastien, ‘Vivement Dimanche’ of Michel Drucker, ‘Ce soir (ou jamais !)’ with Frédéric Taddeï, ‘la Grande Librairie’ with François Busnel, ‘C dans l’air’ with Yves Calvi, ‘Parlez-moi d’ailleurs’ with Franz-Olivier Giesbert, ‘Ça vous regarde’ with Arnaud Ardouin, ‘Bibliothèque Médicis’ with Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, and even ‘A vous de juger‘ with Arlette Chabot ;

In all these popular shows of French public broadcasting, the proportion of women to men reaches barely, and episodically, 15%. It is not unusual to find 100% men in most of these shows.

Women are not welcome on the shows of the biggest French public channels – France2, France 3, France 5 France 5, La Chaîne Parlementaire (the channel for the lower parliamentary house), Public Sénat (Channel of the Senate). However this is very different to the French private channels (TF1, M6) or Arte the Germano-french channel where there are lots of women and minority groups represented.


Ironically, France has many groups working against machismo in our society, including the High Council of the Audiovisual (CSA), the High Authority of the fight against Discrimination and for Equality (HALDE), an Observatory of the parity between men and women working under the special authority of the Prime Minister, a Minister of Work and Family, the State Secretary of the Family, the Delegation for the rights of women and the equality of opportunity between men and women, civil servant journalists working against inequalities, the political parties, the Unions, the Economic Council (CESR) that are supposed to foster equality!

Last but not least, the French Government wants to make a law to set a percentage of women in entreprise. However the participation of women in public broadcasting shows has still to be discussed.


From September to November 2009, we recorded more than 200 machismo shows on French public broadcasting and this research is not exhaustive.

Ruquier, Giesbert, Durand, Calvi, Taddeï, Drucker, Sébastien, Busnel, Elkabbach, Ardouin, provide machismo shows on French TV each week, all financed by the taxes of female and male citizen. both in English and French

See also: Sensation that Il Corpo delle donne (Women’s Bodies) has become in Italy