Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

Feminist women’s groups and other leftist “social” organizations have accused the Knesset of sexism over the decision to strip Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) of privileges. The groups sent a letter of complaint to Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, part of which was printed in the Hebrew-language daily Maariv.

MKs who voted against Zoabi “are harassing her due to the fact that she’s a Palestinian Arab woman,”, the women’s group activists claimed. As proof, they said, “these same privileges were not revoked from men, either Jewish or Arab.” Israel does not call Israeli Arabs by the term ‘Palestinians’, but Zoabi calls herself by that term.

Activists also accused MKs hostile to Zoabi of making comments about the fact that she is single, “clearly demonstrating the sexism she faces and the significant discrimination against her due to the fact that she is a woman.”

The reference is to MK Yochanan Plesner (Kadima), who suggested that if Zoabi was so unhappy with Israel she should go to Gaza, saying, “We will see if you manage to live in Gaza as a thirty-eight year old single woman.”

MK Zoabi took part in a flotilla that attempted to dock in Gaza in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade on Hamas. She was aboard the Mavi Marmara, a ship that also carried members of the Turkish pro-terror group IHH. Members of the IHH attacked IDF soldiers as they came aboard, leading to a clash in which nine people were killed.

Zoabi later said she did not regret taking part in the flotilla, and would do the same thing again.

The activists who wrote to Rivlin on Zoabi’s behalf are hoping for a second vote on rescinding her privileges. Zoabi lost her diplomatic passport and her right to state coverage of any legal fees.

While the Knesset has not yet revoked privileges from male Arab MKs accused of anti-Israel activity, MK Michael Ben-Ari has led a campaign to do exactly that, with regard to Knesset Members Ahmed Tibi and Taleb al-Sana of Raam-Taal, Muhammad Barakeh and Afu Agbariya (Hadash), and Jamal Zahalka (Balad).

See also: Arab man who posed as Jew to seduce woman convicted of rape

General remarks made by an employer can be the basis of a discrimination claim, Europe’s highest court has ruled. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling says a discrimination case is possible even when no individual is involved.

The director of a Belgian firm that fitted garage doors posted a job advert and, when asked if he was “a bit racist”, indicated that he did not want to employ immigrants because his customers would not want to give them access to their houses.

Centrum voor gelijkheid van kansen en voor racismebestrijding (The Centre for equal opportunities and combating racism) sued the company, Feryn, claiming that the comments of the director were evidence of a discriminatory employment policy.

The director said, publicly, “I must comply with my customers’ requirements. If you say ‘I want that particular product or I want it like this and like that’, and I say ‘I’m not doing it, I’ll send those people’, then you say ‘I don’t need that door’. Then I’m putting myself out of business. We must meet the customers’ requirements. This isn’t my problem. I didn’t create this problem in Belgium. I want the firm to do well and I want us to achieve our turnover at the end of the year, and how do I do that? – I must do it the way the customer wants it done!”

The Centre for equal opportunities and combating racism took a case in the Belgian labour courts, but the President of the Brussels Labour Court rejected the case, saying that there was no proof of discrimination and that there could not be a presumption that a person had applied for a job and had not been employed as a result of his ethnic origin.

An appeal to the Labour Court resulted in a reference to the ECJ asking whether comments made publicly could be direct discrimination, and whether those statements could lead to a presumption of discrimination, which would force an employer to prove that they were not discriminating on grounds of race.

The UK and Ireland both made submissions to the Court in which they argued that public statements by an employer could not result in direct discrimination.

The UK courts had previously ruled in a case involving Cardiff Women’s Aid that a job advert which said that the employer preferred people of specified racial origin was not an act of discrimination itself, but notice of intention to discriminate.

In that case the Employment Appeals Tribunal said that individuals could not therefore make a claim for discrimination because of the advert, that only the Commission for Racial Equality could take a case.

The ECJ has found, though, that the director’s comments constituted direct discrimination. “The fact that an employer declares publicly that it will not recruit employees of a certain ethnic or racial origin, something which is clearly likely to strongly dissuade certain candidates from submitting their candidature and, accordingly, to hinder their access to the labour market, constitutes direct discrimination in respect of recruitment,” said the ruling.

“The existence of such direct discrimination is not dependant on the identification of a complainant who claims to have been the victim,” it said.

The Court also ruled on where the burden of proof should fall. The EU Directive on equal treatment says: “Member States shall take such measures as are necessary, in accordance with their national judicial systems, to ensure that, when persons who consider themselves wronged because the principle of equal treatment has not been applied to them establish, before a court or other competent authority, facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment”.

The ECJ ruled that the comments made by the Feryn director were enough to establish a presumption of discrimination, thereby placing the burden of proof on the employer.

“Public statements by which an employer lets it be known that under its recruitment policy it will not recruit any employees of a certain ethnic or racial origin are sufficient for a presumption of the existence of a recruitment policy which is directly discriminatory,” it said.

“It is then for that employer to prove that there was no breach of the principle of equal treatment. It can do so by showing that the undertaking’s actual recruitment practice does not correspond to those statements. It is for the national court to verify that the facts alleged are established and to assess the sufficiency of the evidence submitted in support of the employer’s contentions that it has not breached the principle of equal treatment,” said the ruling.

Corporate drive for profits is damaging girls, women and eroding healthy relationships

College-age women often come to Professor Gail Dines in tears after she lectures about how popular culture has become poisoned with a hyper sexuality that demands women offer themselves to any man who asks.

The young women feel isolated and alone because they refuse to degrade themselves in exchange for male companionship, said the professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and founder of the Stop Porn Culture movement. It’s time to end a corporate-driven effort to promote “slut culture” in the United States, Professor Dines said.

The oppression and misuse of women is not new to America, or American culture, but many see a crisis of misogynistic and racist elements that are damaging the soul of the nation and hurting children, women and men in the process.

Black women, in particular, have historically been portrayed as sexual objects to justify slavery, rape, sexual abuse and denial of respect and opportunity, advocates and scholars say. Negative messages solely concerned with “hotness” and sex appeal are also being pushed on adolescents and younger girls in a dangerous way, advocates warn.

Adolescence is the time when girls form an identity based on messages from society, said Professor Dines. If the messages focus on physical attributes and access to men, the young girls are not growing in a healthy way, she said. Professor Dines will be featured at “The Sexualization of Childhood” symposium, June 13-14, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

The American Psychological Association, in a study released last year, reported that girls and young women suffered intellectual, psychological and physical problems as a result of messages that push sexualization, which is defined as a “person’s value coming only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making, and/or; sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.”

Researchers looked at a wide form of media—television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the internet as well as advertising campaigns and found messages in advertising, merchandising and products aimed at girls.

According to the research, the sexualization of girls and young women:
* undermined feelings of confidence and comfort with their own bodies, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety;
* was linked with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood;
* had negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

Marketing sex to children

“A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids,” said University of Iowa journalism professor Gigi Durham. “I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives.”

“The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that,” she said.

When a teen TV sensation was pictured nearly nude in a Vanity Fair magazine controversy erupted. “Although Disney’s ‘Hannah Montana’ franchise was reportedly one of the most prolific in the industry, following Miley Cyrus’ recent photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in which she is pictured with her bare back, covered only by a piece of fabric, looking sensually at the camera, audiences for the latest episode of the show dropped 14% from the previous fresh episode, which aired just under two months earlier, New York Daily News reported,” according to writer Chris Georg of The piece was headlined “Miley Covers Up As ‘Hannah Montana’ Ratings Drop.”

“Compared to the first original show of the year, which aired in January, viewership for Sunday’s show was down 26%. An estimated 3.1 million viewers tuned in for ‘Hannah’s’ 7 p.m. Sunday edition, which aired out of the network’s usual pattern for fresh episodes,” wrote Mr. Georg.

Others appear less worried about public opinion and more obsessed with profits from pushing adult-style products on children. According to Ms. Durham, Abercrombie & Fitch sold little girls thong underwear tagged with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Young readers of the magazine Seventeen were offered “405 ways to look hot” like Paris Hilton.

The sexualization of ‘tween girls, girls between the ages of 8 and 12, is a growing problem fueled by marketers’ efforts to create cradle-to-grave consumers, Ms. Durham explained.

“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we aren’t protecting our children. Popular psychology said that this was OK,” explained Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a Spelman College English professor.

“As a result, we have really high rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, twice that of the U.K. and eight times that of Japan,” added Ms. Durham.

The increased sexualization of young girls coincides with the increase over time in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and single parent households. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate (134 per 1,000 women aged 15-19), followed by Hispanics (131 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic whites (48 per 1,000). Although the pregnancy rate among Black teens has decreased 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period, it still remains the highest in the country.

A March report by the Centers for Disease Control found Black teenage girls had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted disease at 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both Whites and Mexican Americans. “Moreover, one in four girls in this country have had a sexually transmitted disease. We are not doing it right; we are not giving these girls what they need,” said Dr. Stanley.

Oppression, racism and Black females

La Vida Davis, of the Chicago-based Asha Group, sees the use of sexual and harmful images as part of the historical degradation of Black women and oppression. Her group co-sponsored a Mother’s Day campaign in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that gave radio stations an approved playlist of alternative songs to counter corporate driven and sexually-oriented songs. She also quickly points out that music is only one part of the problem.

Historically women across all races have been seen as property, but Black women have been especially debased, she observed. During slavery, the Black woman’s value was connected to how many children she could bear and servicing the sexual needs of slave owners, Ms. Davis said. The current situation is consistent with America’s sad history and a White patriarchal society, she said.

Another problem is Black internalization of oppression, which is borne out in the “pimp and hoe” culture and even support for singer R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual crimes against a child, she said.

Singer Beyonce is talented, but her clothing line, which doesn’t show skin still sells lip gloss and grown folks clothes to children, Ms. Davis said. It’s unsettling that clothes are sold to children that look like clothes made for adults, she said.

“It says you are valuable for how you look,” said the activist and community organizer. Little girls are taught to trade their bodies for benefits and acceptance, Ms. Davis said. Their only value is what they can be used for and for boys the question is how many “hoes” do I have, she added.

“Boys as well as girls are put in boxes to play out this foolishness,” she said.

Professor Dines, of Wheelock College, believes the aggressive sexual culture and negative images of Black men promoted by White corporate execs is undermining Black male and female relationships. The Black community is the most besieged community in America and if you break down and undermine the relationships, just like Whites did in slavery, it allows for control of Blacks, she said.

The hyper sexual image of the Black woman was used to justify raping Black women in slavery, Professor Dines said. The self image of Black girls that traditionally rose during their teen years is being chipped away and all girls are engaging in more indiscriminate sex, she said.

“They are capitulating because they don’t know any alternative,” Professor Dines said.

Overall relationships are suffering as men find it difficult to have healthy relationships with women because of exposure to pornography, she added. These men are often very upset because they are experiencing real problems, Professor Dines added.

“While people protest the images they see on channels like BET, people are rewarded for these images. Girls see that the ones who do this get money, glamour, fame and power. The anti-BET message is just one in a whirlwind of thousands of messages about sex that girls receive,” said Dr. Stanley of Spelman College.

“Music is now all about sex. In order to groove to a beat, the body is moving, but what you are doing is the sex act standing up,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a lecture at Mosque Maryam, where he talked about the value of women.

‘Let girls be girls’

In Ms. Durham’s new book, “The Lolita Effect,” she identifies the myths of sexuality that are believed by many in society. Sexual representations of children are getting younger with images of girls as young as 11 or 12, Ms. Durham said.

Chris Richburg, writing on took on Beyonce and ads for her new House of Dereon kids clothing line, Dereon Girls. “The ads apparently show seven-year-old girls wearing feather boas, leopard hats, full make-up and high heels as they pose in front of the camera. … I know you got to make that money, but having a bunch of mini-yous on display may not be the best way to go. Tone it down and let the girls be girls.”

Black men and women need healthier relationships that are not so focused on looks and appreciate individual gifts everyone has, said Ms. Davis.

Blacks must become conscious consumers and parents must communicate with children about messages in the media, music and society, she said. “We got talk about it, it’s not enough to say this bad and censor it,” she said.

Alternatives in music, books and movies and need to be supported, Ms. Davis continued. Teen actress Raven Symone, who also has a show on the Disney Channel, has had an amazing career, she said.

Issues like sexual assault and domestic violence must also be included into larger Black agendas and not seen as separate, Ms. Davis added. The subjugation of women and girls is connected to failing education, lack of jobs and other oppression, she said. “How sisters go goes the race,” Ms. Davis said.

by Richard Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad (

“ … The Final Call Newspaper is the country’s leading source for news and information about issues and events relative to the Black community. … The Final Call Online Edition was initially started as a simple promotional tool developed by Nation of Islam college students for the historic Million Man March in 1995. Receiving millions of visits since its inception, it has grown into the online companion to the Final Call Newspaper. … ”

Earlier this year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the U.S. do more to “prevent and punish violence and abuse against women belonging to racial, ethnic, and national minorities.” Now, the New York Legislature can take action. A recently reintroduced bill, which the Legislature has let languish in various versions for the past two decades, would ensure that the state’s family courts’ doors are open to all who need civil protective orders against domestic violence.

Right now, the family court law keeps those doors open only to victims who are or have been married to or have a child in common with their abuser. This means that many domestic violence victims, including individuals in same-sex couples or dating relationships, have to accuse their partner of a crime before they can get protection.

Remarkably, New York is the only state in the nation with this narrow a law. Every other state, at a minimum, allows people who live with their abuser to seek a civil protective order. And many provide far more protection, enabling anyone being abused by a current or former intimate partner to seek civil law protection.

For many women of color and many immigrants, New York’s rule is particularly devastating. As reported in “Race Realities in New York City,” a volume submitted to the UN committee by New York City advocacy groups, the criminal protective order process poses risks that, for some, can be as serious as the abuse.

Before a criminal court can grant a protective order, the police must arrest the abuser and then turn the case over to a prosecutor. In family court, by contrast, the victim can begin a complaint on her (or his) own, and go before a judge trained to hear protective order petitions in domestic violence cases.

For many people of color who live in communities that fear police abuse, inviting the police to arrest a boyfriend or girlfriend may carry such serious consequences that they would rather suffer dangerous abuse in silence. For immigrants who live in fear of deportation, calling in the police is also often unimaginable, even when the abuse is horrific. Though victims want the abuse to stop, most do not want to put the abuser – or themselves – at risk of deportation.

Many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender individuals sense themselves to be similarly vulnerable, with fears that the police will not understand their relationships, or, worse, will doubt that domestic violence can occur between same-sex partners.

New York’s current law not only causes harm through its different treatment of similarly situated domestic violence victims, but it also violates the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, ratified by the U.S. in 1994. The Convention requires the states, as well as the federal government, to ensure equal treatment in courts and eliminate laws that have the “purpose or effect” of causing race- or ethnicity-based harms.

Again, there is an easy solution. The Fair Access to Family Court bill would ensure family court access to anyone who is abused by an intimate partner, regardless of marital status. The bill has already passed the Assembly. Now it is the New York state Senate’s turn to act.

Passing this bill would eliminate the disparate racial impact of the current family court rules. It would bring New York closer to complying with international obligations not to discriminate based on race. And, for those who are desperately in need of protection, it would bring the state a step closer to providing critical help and saving lives.

By Suzanne B. Goldberg Sadie R. Holzman Jonathan A. Lieberman
Suzanne B. Goldberg is clinical professor and director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School; Sadie R. Holzman and Jonathan A. Lieberman are students in the clinic. All three were involved in producing part of the report sent to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Home Office Appeals: Dubious Grounds

Asylum Aid has recently represented two appeal cases that were both successful in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) court of appeal but then contested and appealed by the Home Office. These cases both highlight significant issues regarding the types of cases the Home Office are actively pursuing to appeal and the grounds on which the courts are granting the Home Office further appeals.

For both cases, the Immigration Judges concluded after the Home Office appeal that “the original Tribunal did not make a material error of law and the original determination …shall stand”. Moreover, this process raises major concerns in relation to the emotional and psychological impact this has on appellants whose successful appeals are contested by the Home Office.

Case A – Appellant A is a single young female, with no family, who was a minor at the time of her appeal. Her asylum claim was based on religious persecution in India.

Case B – Case B concerns a mother and her child from Kenya who are both HIV positive.

This article will briefly outline two recent Asylum Aid cases. Both cases are very different however raise interesting issues regarding the interpretation of law. This article will discuss the Home Office appeal grounds, legal arguments used to maintain the original decision and key areas of concern.

The full report is in women’s asylum news – refugee women’s resource project @ asylumaid – issue number 74 – April 2008

The issue also includes:
* The Independent Asylum Commission launches interim findings
* Illegal detention results in compensation
* Returns to Zimbabwe
* Iraq Country Report 2008: Amplifying the Voices of Women in Iraq
* Afghanistan: Rise in violence against women
* Pakistan: Domestic violence
* Kenya: Displaced women still face threat of sexual violence
* ‘Gender Based Sexual Violence against Teenage Girls in the Middle East: A comparative situation analysis of honour violence, early marriages and sexual abuse in Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Yemen’. Save the Children, Sweden
* DRC: Rape continues to go unpunished
* “I am the lowest end of all”: Rural women with HIV face human rights abuses in South Africa
* ‘UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls’
* ‘Through the Eyes of a Child: Refugee Children speak about violence – A report on participatory assessment carried out with refugee and returned children in Southern Africa 2005-2007’ UNHCR

Asylum Rights Watch Update

In June 2007 Asylum Aid launched its Asylum Rights Watch survey in order to collect testimonies of asylum seekers’ in the UK. The web-based survey allows people to share their experiences of the UK’s asylum system with us.

A summary report of the submissions received by the Asylum Rights Watch project can be accessed at

From the information gathered we also compiled a supplementary submission to the Independent Asylum Commission

Asylum Rights Watch is an ongoing project and we are continually seeking information about your experiences of the asylum system in the UK. Visitors can make as many submissions as they like and we welcome further contributions.

The Asylum Rights Watch page is accessible from our homepage: Any individual who has experiences of the UK’s treatment of asylum seekers is encouraged to use the Asylum Rights Watch survey. We are particularly keen to hear from those who may come into contact with the asylum system through their work, such as healthcare professionals, teachers and social workers.

The information we receive will add to evidence we gather from our own casework services, and will help us to document the effects of recent asylum policies. This information will be used to strengthen our existing lobbying, research and campaigns work and identify priorities for future work.

All submissions sent before the end of April 2008 will be considered for a dossier of evidence that is being compiled and will be launched in May 2008.

For more information about Asylum Rights Watch, or if you would like to help publicise this project, please contact:

Asylum Aid provides free legal advice and representation to asylum-seekers and refugees, and campaigns for their rights. We rely on the generosity of individuals to help us continue our work. Your support would be greatly appreciated. A gift of just £5 each month could support our free legal advice line. Text Box: Any views expressed in this publication are those of the authors. Any legal information in this bulletin is intended as a general guide only, and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. Any contributions from, or references to, external sources (including website links), agencies or individuals do not necessarily reflect the views of Asylum Aid nor receive our endorsement.

All RWRP/ Asylum Aid publications are available at:

Please forward any information that you would like to include in the next edition of WAN to by the 2nd May 2008.

Open Letter 3/28/2008 Update: A New Underground Railroad is Born
Subject: The Dunbar Village Atrocity

In the past week, a rapidly-moving viral email campaign was launched, and thousands of concerned black citizens spread the word about a shocking crime against a Black woman and her 12 year old son, in which crimes against nature were committed.

This email, entitled “Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women,” described a stunning betrayal in which the NAACP and Al Sharpton held a press conference and demanded bail consideration for three suspects in custody for the crime.

Concerned Black citizens all around the country were outraged by the actions of the NAACP and Al Sharpton, and many vowed to withdraw volunteering and financial support from these agencies “until they make the safety of Black women and children a priority.”

For full story and links go to

See also:

Al Sharpton defends the Dunbar Village rape suspects, throws black women and children under the bus at

Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women!

This mass open letter is a call to action for all black people who care about the safety and welfare of black women and children in America. If you are concerned about the recent developments about Dunbar Village, please copy the post below, and email it to all of your friends and coworkers.


Make the title of your email: Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women!

Let us know in the comments section if you are supporting the movement to protect black women from black on black violence.

Read this is full at

Book Now! Early Bird Reductions Only Available To 28 March 2008! (* see below)

On the 10th anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s ground-breaking Akayesu judgment, an international conference is being held in Durham University to rethink rape law from national, international and European perspectives. The conference will debate rape law reform at the national level, where many countries are reconsidering their sexual offence laws; it will examine the different policies and practices across Europe; and it will consider recent developments in international law and policy. It will ask, how crucial are women judges, lawyers and activists to securing lasting change?

The conference will be opened by Judge Navanethem Pillay, of the International Criminal Court and formerly of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who will reflect on the part she played in securing, in Akayesu, the first international conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity based on rape.

Other plenary speakers at the conference include:
o Professor Catharine MacKinnon, a scholar and activist of global renown, has been one of the most important and influential commentators on the Akayesu judgment, as well as on sexual violence generally;
o Professor Karen Engle has written extensively on international human rights and sexual violence and particularly on the challenges for feminism in these fields of law; and
o Jessica Neuwirth is co-founder and President of Equality Now, the internationally acclaimed organisation campaigning to end violence against women and girls around the world;
o Vera Baird QC, MP is the Solicitor General for England & Wales and has played a central role in bringing about change in the way rape is prosecuted and in the treatment of rape victims;
o Professor Liz Kelly of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University will debate the first results of her comparative research on the policing and prosecution of rape cases throughout Europe.

The conference will also hold sessions entitled:
o Rethinking rape law: what can we learn from elsewhere?;
o Rethinking rape law: roundtable discussion on the role of women lawyers, judges and activists;
o Rethinking rape law: where next?

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, activists, policy-makers, lawyers and all persons interested in rape law and policy. The plenary speakers and wider sessions aim to spark debate among participants, so that there is full debate and discussion.

The conference is being held in the historic and picturesque city of Durham in the north east of England. The conference will be held in the recently opened Calman Learning Centre, with its unrivalled views of Durham Cathedral, and the Conference Dinner and accommodation will be in Durham Castle, which is part of the University.

* We have received an email saying the ‘early bird’ discount booking has been extended to 31st March – please contact for details. For more details about the conference please contact

Think of a neo-Nazi and you think of a man with a shaved head, pummelling a foreigner. But that image is outdated, some social researchers say. She may well be a woman — and a feminist, to boot.

At a recent conference of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin, researchers examined the role of the sexes in the extreme right wing. Their findings: there may well be a preponderance of young male neo-Nazis, but there are women in their ranks, too. And they are gaining in importance.

Renate Bitzan, of the University of Göttingen, has formed the Research Network on Women and Right-Wing Extremism. Her objective is to look into what sort of women join the far-right — and why. “Generally, it is not the image of women in the scene that draws women to be a part of it in the first place,” Bitzan said. “It is their ideology. Like the men, they are mainly attracted by ideas of togetherness, race and nation. Relations between the genders is of a lesser importance, so to speak.”

Producing the pure race, and raising it right

Nonetheless, she said, women tend to be assigned certain roles. And that is first and foremost that their job is to produce the purest possible offspring for the race, and raise them in the national spirit. The woman’s second-most-important job is to take part in the political struggle, as a “comrade” to the men, Bitzan said.

The triad symbol of the Gemeinschaft Deutscher Frauen is one of the oldest German symbols, based on Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The GDF’s logo is based on an ancient Germanic symbol. There are a wide range of approaches to combining these two roles, ranging from a strong identification to the mother-role to the creation of a so-called “national feminism.”

Groups like the nationalistic, right-wing Gemeinschaft Deutscher Frauen (Organization of German Women) promotes not only political activism but also strongly advocates motherhood and uses populist rhetoric. On the other hand, groups like the Mädelring Thüringen (Thüringen Girl Gang) exist to combat the patriarchy and political immaturity. “Today’s right-wing woman is not necessarily only the protector of hearth and home, but also an equal partner in creating a public life, which includes all areas of life and career equally,” Bitzan said.

Racist, nationalist — and feminist

Bitzan contends that this reflects a change of focus among right-wing women. Motherhood may still play a role, but independence, personal development, competency and challenging the patriarchy are more important. But while the women may be exactly as racist, anti-Semitic and nationalistic as their men, in keeping with gender clichés that also fit outside of the right-wing scene, they tend to leave violent public demonstrations to their men.

This doesn’t mean that women would never publicly demonstrate, Bitzan said. “Most frequently, they are included in mixed-gender groups — parties, clubs, fellowships,” Bitzan said. Some of them are members in right-wing women’s groups, which have seen a boom in the past years, the expert claims. “This could mean that the women themselves are starting to see cooperation among women as an attractive thing in itself,” she said.

Neo-Nazi girls “just wanna have fun”

The German Neo-Nazi leader Steffen Hupka, center, talks to unidentified participants of a Neo-Nazi rally in the city of Leipzig, eastern Germany, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2001. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: She looks like the girl next door — and she’s attending a neo-Nazi rally. One worker at a mobile youth clinic in Ostprignitz, a depressed area of eastern Germany, took a shot at explaining the attraction young women feel toward such right-wing groups.

“The girls want to have fun, they are totally bored — especially in the countryside,” said the worker, who did not give her name. “They are looking for something really attractive. That is the far-right scene.” As part of the far-right, the girls feel strong. They can terrorize people, and have the feeling they are influencing society — the same thing that draws young men, the worker added.

Outreach aimed mostly at men

There is a long-held misconception that young women are either not part of the scene or are just “fellow travelers” with their truly active male counterparts. This means outreach clinics and social workers are “overrepresented” in terms of being geared toward young men, said Esther Lehnert, a spokeswoman for the Mobile Outreach Against Right Extremism in Berlin. She warned that young women need to be taken seriously.

One way to reach young women in the scene is to go through the schools, said Gabi Elverich, of the German Youth Institute in Halle. But that is a hard nut to crack, because schools don’t deal with racism and discrimination at all, she said. “Teachers aren’t trained to deal with it,” she said. “There are few examples in practice. I think it is the area where there is a lot of need for information, where early intervention could help.”