Archive for the ‘Appeal’ Category

An immediate and worldwide public outcry followed an urgent press release by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution giving notice of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s imminent execution. Shortly thereafter more than half a million people sent letters of protest, there were two million tweets on Sakineh, and rallies and events were held in a number of cities.

The International Committees against Stoning and Execution issued the press release after receiving credible information attesting to the plan to execute her on 3 November. Reliable sources within Iran confirmed having seen the actual execution order sent from Tehran to Tabriz prison’s office of sentence implementation and also seen Sakineh’s name on a blacklist of those to be imminently executed.

The Islamic Republic of Iran often executes people without any public warning or notice and even without informing lawyers and family members in order to avoid local and international condemnation. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights, at least 23 people have been executed these past few days alone without any official announcement.

Nonetheless the regime persists in concealing the real danger Ms Ashtiani’s life is in. Its Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that ‘the final verdict in the Sakineh Ashtiani case has not been announced by the Iranian judiciary.’ Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of the justice department in East Azarbaijan province, where Ms Ashtiani is imprisoned, also said that her case was under judicial review and she was in ‘perfect health.’

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a ‘judicial review’ often effectively means that the regime is waiting for the opportunity to carry out its executions. The regime has executed many people whilst their cases were ‘under review.’ One well known case was that of juvenile ‘offender’ Delara Darabi who was executed in 2009 during a two month reprieve.

Whilst Sakineh has been held incommunicado since 11 August and her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, been imprisoned and tortured since 10 October, the International Committees against Stoning and Execution will continue to act as their voice and their defence. And we will continue to raise the alarm when necessary until Ms Ashtiani’s stoning and execution orders are rescinded and she, her son and lawyer are unconditionally and immediately released.

International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

1. Contact government officials, MPs, MEPs, and the UN asking them to intervene urgently. Governments must immediately summon the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassadors and demand that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s execution and stoning orders be rescinded and that she along with her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, and the two German journalists be immediately released.

2. Sign on to a petition at: http://www.avaaz.org/en/24h_to_save_sakineh/?cl=820762599&v=7497 and http://stopstonningnow.com/sakine/sakin284.php?nr=50326944〈=en.

3. Send letters of condemnation to the Islamic regime of Iran:

Head of the Judiciary
Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Email: info@dadiran.ir or via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address

Head of the Judiciary in East Azerbaijan Province
Malek-Ashtar Sharifi
Office of the Head of the Judiciary in Tabriz
East Azerbaijan, Iran

Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Email: via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=letter (Persian)

Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986
Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com

For more information, contact:

Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Execution and International Committee against Stoning: minaahadi@aol.com; Tel: +49 (0) 1775692413, http://stopstonningnow.com, http://notonemoreexecution.org

Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity, iransolidaritynow@gmail.com, +44 7719166731, http://www.iransolidarity.org.uk, http://iransolidarity.blogspot.com

See also: Tehran regime starts to split over Ashtiani death by stoning verdict

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As the disastrous toll of the floods in Pakistan becomes clear, we are relieved to have heard from some of our grantee sisters that they are safe. Many are at the heart of relief efforts in Pakistan. Shirkat Gah, a grantee partner and a key Pakistan women’s rights organization is currently mobilizing support – please consider making an emergency contribution today to support women in Pakistan as they struggle to respond to this disaster and rebuild their communities.

Donate at https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6174/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=2583

Solidarity letter to our grantee sisters in Pakistan

GFW in Solidarity with Flood-Affected Communities in Pakistan on August 04, 2010

Dear Sisters in Pakistan,

The Board and staff of the Global Fund for Women would like to express our collective sadness at the destruction and loss of life that has resulted from the floods that have struck Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly the North Western Frontier Province) and other parts of Pakistan these past few days. We have learned of the tragic loss of life and physical devastation, through the media and our friends on the ground.

Donate now to support women in Pakistan.The Global Fund is writing to express our solidarity with you during this difficult time. We do not know to what extent you have been affected, but we can only hope that you, your relatives, friends, and colleagues are safe. Please send us an e-mail, if you can, to let us know how you are. We also know that some of these areas have spent many years in conflict, and that this disaster adds to the difficulties faced by women’s rights activists across the region, including increased fundamentalisms. We hope to support you as best we can in these circumstances.

As you know, the Global Fund for Women’s mission as a grantmaking organization is to strengthen women’s organizing and women’s groups in long-term efforts to advance the human rights of women and girls. The Global Fund is not a relief organization and does not have the capacity to provide direct aid in emergency situations. However, we do encourage current grantees in the region, who have been affected by the current natural disasters and their aftermath, to use the funds for whatever activities they believe are most critical at this time. In the coming months, we will be accepting grant applications to address the gender-specific needs in rebuilding and reorganizing communities affected by the devastation.

At your convenience, we would like your advice on how best to support women and girls in the affected areas. Please send us your thoughts on the situation of women and girl survivors, and guide us on what you feel should be Global Fund’s priorities in its long-term response to such disasters across the region. Do let us know if there is any other way we can be of assistance.

In solidarity,

The Asia/Oceania team on behalf of the Board and Staff of The Global Fund for Women

http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/find-out/media-center/point-of-view/1738-gfw-in-solidarity-with-flood-affected-communities-in-pakistan

The Global Fund for Women is a nonprofit grantmaking foundation that advances women’s human rights worldwide. We are a network of women and men who believe that ensuring women’s full equality and participation in society is one of the most effective ways to build a just, peaceful and sustainable world. We raise funds from a variety of sources and make grants to women-led organizations that promote the economic security, health, safety, education and leadership of women and girls.

http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/find-out/the-issues

Iran: URGENT call to authorities to stop imminent executions
Please write to the Iranian authorities calling on them to halt executions of nine people arrested in relation to protests following the disputed presidential elections. The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to halt the executions of political prisoners sentenced to death. The prisoners’ trials did not meet international or even national legal standards set up by the laws of Islamic Republic. The accused faced ambiguous charges of Mahrab, meaning “enmity against God.” Moreover, after the officially confirmed deaths of at least two while in detention, the Iranian public and the international community are greatly alarmed about the extent of torture used against Iranian political prisoners in an attempt to coerce confessions.

Iran: WLUML Supports Call for Solidarity: Freedom and Gender Equality in Iran
This is a copy of an original text that can be found on the Gender Equality for Iran website here. “We (a group of Iranian feminists and women’s rights activists) demand an end to state-led violence and repression, as well as the immediate release of all political detainees in Iran. We invite all women’s rights defenders, activists, organisations, and networks worldwide to demonstrate their solidarity with the Iranian women’s movement and the broader movement for democracy in Iran by organising initiatives under the slogan “freedom and gender equality in Iran” throughout March 2010.

http://www.wluml.org/section/action/latest

As a result of the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010, thousands of persons within Haiti and abroad have lost contact with their loved ones.

The aim of the Family Links website is to accelerate the process of restoring contact between separated family members.

It is managed by the ICRC, in cooperation with the tracing services of the Haitian Red Cross Society and of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies throughout the world.

The website offers the possibility for persons in Haiti and abroad to publish their own names and the names of relatives with whom they are striving to restore contact.

In Haiti, the Red Cross has not been able yet to collect and publish on the Website the identities and whereabouts of the persons affected by the earthquake. Nevertheless, with the current reinforcement of their activities, the ICRC, together with the Haitian Red Cross, will add on the Website more information on the affected population in Haiti. This will provide more responses to the queries of anxious families who remain without news from their loved ones.

Entries published on the lists can be modified only by the ICRC. If you want to modify details for a name that you entered or delete a name completely, please send us an E-mail.

http://www.icrc.org/web/doc/siterfl0.nsf/htmlall/familylinks-haiti-eng?opendocument

If your search is not successful, do not hesitate to revisit the website frequently, as everyday, new people are registering themselves.

http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/WFL_HTI.NSF/DocIndex/locate_eng?opendocument

Also in French http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/haiti/locate/fre

More than 800,000 people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Haiti in the wake of hurricanes Fay and Gustav and tropical storm Hanna. Houses, medical facilities, main roads and bridges have been destroyed, and an estimated 100,000 people have sought refuge in temporary shelters.

The crisis-affected population includes some 24,000 pregnant women. Eight thousand are due to deliver in the next three months and many need basic antenatal care and support for any complications. In any population, even in the best of times, about one in seven women will have complications that require emergency obstetric care or surgical delivery. Of the pregnant Haitian women in the disaster affected areas, over a thousand will need such care. Limited access to emergency obstetric care puts the lives of these women — and their babies — at risk.

In a Flash Appeal launched in New York, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is requesting $1.5 million to ensure pregnant women have access to emergency obstetric care, medical supplies, and skilled medical professionals, such as obstetricians and midwives, to ensure safe child delivery.

The funds will also help UNFPA protect women and girls affected by the crisis from exploitation and all forms of violence, and to facilitate access to both food and non-food items for marginalized groups, especially individuals living with HIV and disabilities, while monitoring human rights violations.

Tens of thousands of homes have been severely and partially damaged, leaving families without shelter and access to basic supplies, such as clothes, soap and toothbrushes. UNFPA will use the requested funds to distribute essential non-food items and provide women with access to sanitation stations. A rapid assessment, which will be conducted to establish the economic and housing needs of those affected, will serve to better inform the government and the international community responses.

UNFPA will work in close cooperation with the Haitian Government and civil society, with other United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, as well as with international and local non-governmental organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration and the Haitian Red Cross. UNFPA will also support these agencies in protecting vulnerable women and their families from all forms of violence, preventing separation of families, and providing individuals with psychosocial care, when needed.

These interventions will complement UNFPA activities in response to the impact of tropical storm Hanna on the island of Hispaniola. For the crisis-affected region of Gonaives, as well as the South-East and Central Plateau, UNFPA has already been working to identify and fund additional medical staff and provide medical teams with supplies for safe child delivery, and to ensure qualified care providers are available in shelters and health centres.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

For more information, please contact:
In New York, Shannon Egan: egan@unfpa.org; Tel.: +1 212 297 4975;
In Panama City, Trygve Olfarnes: olfarnes@unfpa.org; Tel: +507 301-7362.

SOURCE United Nations Population Fund

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/haitian-women-girls-require-life-saving/story.aspx?guid=%7B61A5F4AB-17F7-4F6F-B649-CC53FFAB09DB%7D&dist=hppr

July 8 -11, 2008
Boston, MA

We’ve had overwhelming interest in scholarships to the summer institute on Media Madness. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, we are offering a two and a half day training as an alternative to the full institute. This training is free, though if you can give $50 we would appreciate it.

We will start on July 9th at 1PM and go until July 11th at 4PM.We will be covering many of the same things as the full institute but focus more on fighting the porn culture and hands-on training in giving the anti-porn slideshow. Though we will be using space at Wheelock, there is no college credit available for this training. You can sign up to stay at the dorms, which are $45/night for a double and $35/night for a single.

If you are interested in attending this modified version, we need to hear back from you ASAP.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT call Wheelock as they are not handling this training. Contact us here are at the SPC email account.

If you want college credit, then you have to register and pay for the full, four-day Media Madness institute through Wheelock. If you want to attend the four-day Media Madness institute without credit, then you will also need to pay and register through Wheelock. There are NO scholarships available for the four-day institute.

Full details at http://www.wheelock.edu/professional/prof_institutes_desc.asp

We hope that one of these options will work for everyone. Feel free to email if you have any questions. http://www.stoppornculture.org/contact.html

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See also:

I will be racing in the 2008 Coeur D’Alene Ironman, a distinguished athletic event – one day, one race: swim, bike, run, 140.6 miles. I will be racing in an effort to raise money for Stop Porn Culture, a pioneering non-profit organization of which I am a cofounder.

Stop Porn Culture is dedicated to challenging the pornography industry and an increasingly pornographic pop culture by working to end sexual exploitation, sexism, and sexist portrayals of women and girls in the media.

Stop Porn Culture coordinates and presents social research grounded in feminist analyses of sexist, racist, and economic oppression.

Stop Porn Culture affirms a sexuality rooted in equality, free of exploitation, coercion, and violence, and brings attention to the loss of the sacred in real life everywhere.

Stop Porn Culture insists that we face this assault with courage, that we see it, feel it, and live it in such a way that creates transformation.

Gratefully,
Dominique Bressi

Go to https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=238897&supid=219704563

The RSPCA is seeking “foster homes” for the pets of people fleeing abusive relationships.

According to the welfare organisation, women – and sometimes men – who are being attacked can fear that if they escape the abuse their spouse will take out their anger on the pet.

Welsh Women’s Aid, which helped find safe refuge for more than 1,200 women and 1,000 children of abused mothers in 2006-07, welcomed the RSPCA initiative. Very few refuges for abused spouses can provide shelter for pets due to health and safety regulations and allergy concerns.

Spokeswoman Amy Kitcher said, “We’re all in favour of it. It’s removing a barrier to stopping women leaving abusive relationships.”

Since the pet-fostering scheme was launched in Wales, 15 families have been helped and the search is on for more volunteers.

It follows successful programmes in England. Bernice Dawes, from Bristol, urged Welsh families to look after pets; she has taken in 10 cats since 2004.

She said, “When the animals first come to you they are very traumatised. They will have seen a lot of violence or had very violent things done to them.”

But she added, “It’s very rewarding. You see them visibly relaxing.

“Just be patient and take your time and wait for the animal to come to you. Eventually the cat will come out and want to know you and be nuzzled and so on.”

Ms Dawes said she was sad to see the pets go, but delighted she could help people escape domestic abuse.

“I think a lot of women hold on for longer because they don’t want their pets to be harmed,” she said.

“Seeing an animal and owner happy when they are reunited makes it easier to part with the animal when it is time for them to go home.”

Carolyn Southwell, who manages the project, said, “It is thanks to people like Bernice that we are able to operate the PetRetreat scheme. The scheme is fully committed to the animals that are caught up in domestic abuse and fits hand in glove with the work that we already do within the RSPCA.”

All the costs of fostering are met by the RSPCA. Each animal is assessed before they go to a home.

Ms Southwell said, “By helping these animals, as we do in our everyday work, we are in a position to be able to help the families involved.

“A human victim of domestic abuse once said to us, ‘If I did not own pets then I would have left years ago.’ Our scheme offers such victims a safe home for their animals for as long as they need it. “If we can step in and break that cycle, we will be doing a tremendous amount to help both people and animals.”

Ms Dawes said abusive spouses often used pets as hostages, saying, “A lot of the time the perpetrator of the violence will use the cat as a lever: ‘If you go the cat gets it.’”

Research indicates that domestic abuse continues to be a major threat.

Women’s Aid said one in four women in Wales and England will experience domestic abuse by their partner or ex-partner at some time in their life. Across the UK, two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

Domestic abuse accounts for nearly a quarter of violent crime and a women will be assaulted on average 35 times before reporting it to the police.

Labour AM Carl Sargeant, a supporter of the scheme, said, “We mustn’t forget that pets are also in danger from violence in the home. They are frequently threatened, injured or killed by the perpetrator who uses violence toward the pet to frighten and intimidate their partner and children, so it is important that there are safe retreats for pets to go to too.”

A pet-fosterer will mainly care for dogs and cats but could have the opportunity to look after animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs or birds.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/03/27/foster-a-pet-to-help-owners-flee-domestic-abuse-91466-20678807/

On Sunday 30th March 2008 Honor Blackman will be reading the BBC Radio 4 Appeal to raise funds and awareness for the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge).

The Appeal will be aired on BBC Radio 4: 92.4 – 94.6 FM and 198 LW at:
– 7.55am and 9.26pm on Sunday 30th March 2008
– 3.27pm on Thursday 3rd April 2008

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/religion/radio4appeal.shtml

You can also listen again online for a week after the first appeal broadcast. Please help us to raise as much money as possible by listening in and helping to spread the word!

Spare five minutes of your day to listen to the Appeal and forward this information to as many friends and family as possible.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and to raise awareness of this important day, I shall be volunteering to go to jail on behalf of a very worthy cause: Cardiff Women’s Aid. (Marlene Shalton, Western Mail)

You may wonder why I should subject myself to such an “experience”, but the fact that I will be held captive until sufficient funds have been raised to release me means that I will not only be raising money for this worthwhile cause but saving tax for some of the donors too.

Cardiff Women’s Aid provides specialist support for women and their children who are survivors of domestic abuse in a professional, confidential and safe environment. They provide independent information and support, emergency temporary accommodation (refuge), outreach support and counselling.

Domestic abuse is a crime and many victims are unable to escape from their perpetrators due to lack of funding and emotional support. Cardiff Women’s Aid provides these specialist support services for women and children.

Gift Aid

If you pay tax in the UK, then Gift Aid is a simple way to increase the value of your gift to a charity. Making your donation using Gift Aid will enable the charity to reclaim the basic rate tax on your gift to them. This means that if you give £10 to charity using Gift Aid, that gift is worth £12.82 to the charity. You can make payments by cash, cheque, postal order, direct debit, standing order, debit or credit card or even in a foreign currency.

If you are a higher rate taxpayer, you can claim relief on the difference between the basic rate and higher rate of tax. If you do not pay tax, you should not use Gift Aid. You can still give the money to charity and not complete a Gift Aid declaration.

Example

During the tax year you give a total of £400 to various charities. With the basic rate at 22%, the amount of tax the charities can reclaim is £112.82. If you have paid tax totalling £112.82 or more then you can make the donations using Gift Aid, making your donation worth £512.82.

One declaration to HM Revenue & Customs will cover all the gifts you make to a charity for whatever period you wish. For example, it can cover gifts you might already have made to a particular charity since April 6, 2000 or it can cover the gifts you make in the future.

Gifts made jointly can also be declared, but you must tell the charity how much is from each of you and you will both need to give declarations. In addition, those who may be entitled to Age Allowance can also reduce their tax by gifting. The gross amount of any Gift Aid donations reduces the level of income when calculating any entitlement to the age-related personal allowance or married couple’s allowance. If you are aged over 65, or (for the married couple’s allowance) you or your spouse were born before 6 April 1935, it is important that you enter details of your Gift Aid payments on your tax return.

It is not too late to make donations before the end of the financial year and claim tax for 2007/08.

For those who wish to see me released from jail, so I can continue with my column, please send cheques, payable to “Cardiff Women’s Aid” to Chambers Morgan James, Freepost SWC4705, Cardiff, CF5 2GY.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/business-in-wales/business-columnists/2008/03/05/why-i-m-going-behind-bars-for-women-s-aid-91466-20557597/

I am organising an exciting and unique charity event next month to benefit the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organisation working with women who have been trafficked into this country and sold into sexual slavery and the impetus behind the recent ‘Journey’ exhibition in Trafalgar Square.

This event is a staged reading of a new play compiled by Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, entitled ‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer: Writings to End Violence Against Women.’ This year will mark the UK premiere of this new and remarkable play, featuring writing by Edward Albee, Michael Cunningham, Maya Angelou, and many more, and is in cooperation with ‘V-Day,’ an international campaign of artistic activism to highlight charities that work to end violence against women in all forms.

We are currently raising funds to cover the production costs and venue hire for this production: our target is a mere £1,000. We are seeking donations of any size and any kind from women in the community who are ready to take a stand against violence in a creative way.

Whether you are a business owner willing to provide event sponsorship or items for a raffle, an aspiring or established theatre producer, have a space that you can donate for rehearsals, or can offer any other assistance at all, we would love to hear from you. This event is groundbreaking and exceptional – please get in touch and help us celebrate, activate, and make London a safe place for women and girls!

For more information please see the following websites:
http://www.helenbamber.org
http://www.the-journey.co.uk
http://www.vday.org

Please get in touch for more information and to get involved.

Many thanks,
Annie Saunders
V-Day Organiser
07789 915 818

Dear Friends

Southall Black Sisters is under threat of closure

We are writing to you to request support for our organisation. We are currently facing threat of closure as a result of our local authority’s (Ealing) decision to withdraw our funding as of April 2008.

Since the mid eighties our ‘core’ funding has been provided by Ealing. Over the years we have on average received £100,000 per annum from the local authority and this is utilised to provide advice, advocacy, counselling and support services to black and minority women in the borough who experience violence and abuse. The experience and insights gained through this work has led us to become a strategically important service, providing advice on policy and legal developments to government, and international, national and local organisations and professionals. The Ealing grant has, of course, had to be supplemented by funds raised elsewhere.

The local authority’s decision is based on the view that there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women and that services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. This view fails to take account of the unequal social, economic and cultural context which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights. In effect the council proposes to take away essential life saving services provided by SBS. Ealing council suggests that we either extend our service to cover the needs of all women in the borough or that we set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money. The amount of funds available to the voluntary sector in Ealing has shrunk year in, year out, but the withdrawal of funds to SBS will have a number of far reaching consequences:

* The attempt to compel us to meet the needs of all women will mean that we will have to reduce our services to black and minority women across London and the country. Abused black and minority women, who already face considerable racism, discrimination and cultural pressures, will no longer have access to a specialist service. We have never denied our services to any woman who contacts SBS but our focus has out of necessity, and in recognition of the demographic composition of the area, been on meeting the needs of black and minority women who continue to be one of the most disempowered sections of our society. The suicide rates of Asian women for example, are already three times the national average and homicides – where abusive men and families kill their wives, daughters or daughters-in-law – are also high within some black and minority communities. In all likelihood, any reduction in our services will see a rise in suicide and homicide rates amongst black and minority women.

* We will no longer have the same national impact in terms of our input in policy and legal development in relation to black and minority women, which has been highly effective over the years. Our campaigns in such critical areas of work as forced marriage, honour killings, suicides and self harm, religious fundamentalism and immigration difficulties, especially the ‘no recourse to public funds’ issue, will have to be drastically cut back .

* A unique, specialist and experienced organisation (members of the staff and management committee have a combined experience of over 50 years) will lose its identity – an identity that has become synonymous with high quality service provision. We are seen as a ‘flagship’ organisation. Indeed Harriet Harman, the deputy prime minister in her speech at the House of Commons on 18 July 2007, made specific reference to SBS as exactly the kind of group that the State should support.

…we will work on the issue of empowering women in black and Asian communities. Women play a crucial role working together in their communities, whether they are working to reduce crime in their area, like Mothers Against Guns…, or whether they are Asian women, like Southall Black Sisters, working to support other Asian women. We want to do more to support and empower those women as they tackle problems within, and build bridges between, communities

This statement was made in the context of debates on cohesion in which she specifically identified groups like ours as key to building cohesion between and within communities. It is therefore of grave concern that at a time when all local authorities have a duty to promote cohesion, Ealing Council has chosen to undermine a group that has historically and effectively worked across religious and ethnic lines within black and minority communities precisely to bridge differences and build a sense of citizenship. Ironically, the Council is seeking to set up Muslim women only groups under its ‘cohesion’ strategy – the demand for which does not exist!

We also need to address the new challenges posed by immigration and asylum difficulties, growing racism and religious intolerance. But without adequate funding, SBS is now in danger of closing down.

Current Position

Following legal action, we have compelled Ealing Council to carry out a race equality impact assessment. This had not been undertaken prior to making a decision to withdraw our funding.

Although the Council has now undertaken such an assessment, it is only in relation to the new domestic violence policy. In other words it only assesses whether or not all women ‘may’ be able to access the new service. The Council maintains that withdrawing funding from SBS will have no adverse consequences for black and minority women! The assessment is also flawed since it does not consider the consequences for black and minority women if SBS services are cut or closed. We have submitted detailed representations pointing out the flaws in their assessment procedure with a view to taking further legal action if necessary, Over 50 users of our services have also written to the Council protesting at their high handed decision.

Your Support

The issues raised by the Council’s actions have wider ramifications for all black and minority women’s organisations. It is imperative that we act now. We ask you to write to the leader of Ealing Council, Jason Stacey whose details are to be found on the model letter that follows.

We would be grateful for any support that you can give us. If you do not have time to draft a letter, please contact Hannana Siddiqui or call 020 8571 9595 for more information. Please let us have a copy of any letter you send and any reply that you receive.

If you are able to support us in any other way please contact us. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Pragna Patel
Chair of Southall Black Sisters

Add: Southall Black Sisters, 21 Avenue Road, Southall, Middlesex UB1 3BL
Tel: 020 8571 9595
Fax: 020 8574 6781
Email: southallblacksisters@btconnect.com

Women in The Congo Need Our Help

Last month, Stop Porn Culture (SPC) was contacted by Groupe d’Action pour le Droit (GAD), a non-profit NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo that advocates for the human rights of children, youth and women affected by sexual violence. They do counselling for survivors of sexual trauma and community education about the issue. The conditions that GAD is working in are horrendous to say the least. The United Nations characterizes the conflict in the DR Congo as “one of the bloodiest the world has known since World War II.” According to Amnesty International,

“Tens of thousands of women and girls have suffered systematic rape and sexual assault since the devastating conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began in 1998. Rape, sometimes by groups as large as twenty men, has become a hallmark of the conflict, with armed factions often using it as part of a calculated strategy to destabilize opposition groups, undermine fundamental community values, humiliate the victims and witnesses, and secure control through fear and intimidation. It is not unusual for mothers and daughters to be raped in front of their families and villages, or to be forced to have sex with their sons and brothers. Rapes of girls as young as six and women over 70 have been reported. Young girls are also regularly abducted and held captive for years to be used as sexual slaves by combatants and their leaders.”

You can read more about the rape epidemic in the DRC in this New York Times article from October 2007: “Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War“.

GAD has identified pornography as a factor in these atrocities. GAD’s president, Kubuya Elie, has requested the help of Stop Porn Culture. He would like to come to our slideshow training in July (see below). We are deeply moved that GAD believes we can offer them assistance: there are no women anywhere who need our help more.

In order to bring Mr. Elie to Boston, we need your help. Besides the slideshow training, we plan to arrange meetings with human rights groups here that are working against trafficking and have resources for trauma victims. We estimate it will cost at least $4,000 to do this. As you know, SPC is an all-volunteer organization with an annual budget of zero. It can only happen if you make it happen. Please consider donating whatever you can to help us help GAD and the women of the DR Congo. The sooner you can do so, the sooner we will know whether we can make flight arrangements for Mr. Elie. No amount is too small to make a difference for the women enduring these conditions of sexual brutality and slavery. Please make checks out to Feminists Against Pornography, earmarked “for DRC.” And thank you for participating in this important work.

In solidarity,
Carol Corgan, Gail Dines, Matt Ezzell, Susan Falupel, Lierre Keith, Robert Jensen, Jesse Pierce, Denyse Snyder, and Rebecca Whisnant for Stop Porn Culture

Stop Porn Culture
PO Box 813 Northampton MA 01061
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Feminist Slideshow Training in July, 2008

Stop Porn Culture will be offering our third training for our slideshow this July. The training will be twice as long, more in-depth, and can also be taken for college credit.

* Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence and Commercial Culture on Adults, Children and Society
* A summer Institute for Educators, Students, Human Service Professionals, Activists and Parents
* July 8-11, 2008, Wheelock College, Boston.

For the 14th consecutive year, Wheelock College is offering a very popular summer institute on the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. The institute is taught by Dr Gail Dines, author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality, and Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming So Sexy So Soon

Participants in both tracks will learn:
* How media violence affects behavior and contributes to violence in society
* How media images perpetuate and legitimize sexism, racism, consumerism and economic inequality
* How political and economic forces shape the media
* How media affects children’s ideas about sexual behavior and relationships with others
* How to critically deconstruct media images and develop media literacy skills
* How to become active in advocacy, community building and grass roots organizing

As a way to accommodate the needs of the participants, this year two days of the institute will be split into the following tracks:
1. Fighting the porn culture: how to think about and organize against the increasing pornification of our society. Lead by Dr. Gail Dines with guest lectures by Dr. Rebecca Whisnant, Lierre Keith and Matt Ezell, founding members of Stop Porn Culture.
2. Combating the hazards of media culture with children, families and the community. Lead by Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming book, So Sexy so Soon

Credit Hours
* The institute is available as a 3 credit graduate course or a non-credit course. Scholarships are available.
* Housing is available on the Wheelock campus.
* For more information, please contact Gail Dines (write July Institute in the subject line)

See also earlier posting about SPC Free feminist anti-pornography slide show for group discussions etc.

Hello,

The “Say NO to Violence against Women” campaign counts on each of us to speak out by signing up. Now, the United Nations Foundation is counting too. It has issued a challenge: for each of the first 100,000 signatures to the campaign, the UN Foundation will donate $1 to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. We need everyone’s help to get 100,000 people to sign on to the UNIFEM campaign so that $100,000 will be contributed to the Trust Fund for local initiatives working to prevent human trafficking, assisting survivors of domestic violence or helping implement laws against rape.

We know gathering 100,000 names is definitely a challenge, but we know that together we can do it. So please join me once again. Let’s renew our efforts to reach out to our organizations, colleagues, friends and family and encourage them to sign on at: http://www.saynotoviolence.org/.

Let’s show the world that there is an ever-growing movement of people who say “NO” to violence against women. Click and be counted.

Thank you
Nicole Kidman
UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador