Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Egyptian cleric, Yusuf El-Badry, landed a victory for Islam and took a huge step back for human rights when he recently won a court case in Egypt that reinstated female circumcision on grounds that it is in the religious doctrine of Islam. This barbaric and unspeakably violent practice is now protected through the government.
“The decision to criminalize circumcision means criminalizing something from Islam,” El-Badry bellowed in court. “This is a disaster.”
Female circumcision comes in 3 general forms: Clitoridectomy, or removal of the clitoris; Excision or clitoridectomy plus removal of the labia minora, the inner lips of the vulva; and Infibulation or removal of everything and leaving a hole between female legs.
El-Badry got involved in a case when a 14 year old girl died during one of these traditional Islamic procedures. The mother of the dead girl paid $9 so her daughter could have her vagina mutilated.
The FGM ritual is forced upon young girls on the brink of "womanhood" or marriage (usually arranged) to ensure the blushing bride's husbands are un-threatened by the girls sexual prowess and not be bothered with pleasing or satisfying them. It is considered dirty for a woman to be sexual aroused. It is not however, considered dirty to have your vagina destroyed (both internally and externally) with what is most commonly used, a razor, then crudely sewn up by an untrained professional, and be forced to menstruate and urinate through a hole the size of a pencil eraser. That is perfectly acceptable.
I strongly urge you to continue reading a more in-depth and educational study on FGM here: http://www.irinnews.org/IndepthMain.aspx?IndepthId=15&ReportId=62462
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.
Go hire a buggy. For six grivnas,
Race through the noice of bells and wheels
To where the ink and all you grieving
Are muffled when the rainshower falls.
To where, like pears burnt black as charcoal,
A myriad rooks, plucked from the trees,
Fall down into the puddles, hurl
Dry sadness deep into the eyes.
Below, the wet black earth shows through,
With sudden cries the wind is pitted,
The more haphazard, the more true
The poetry that sobs its heart out. "
- Boris Pasternak
Friday, September 18, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
“Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! how can I bear it?" was the first sentence he uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his despair. And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish: they did not melt.
"You said I killed you – then haunt me! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe… Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!
You teach me how cruel you've been- cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Catherine? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears; they'll blight you- they'll damn you. You loved me- then what right had you to leave me? What right- answer me- for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us. You, of your own will did it. I have not broken your heart- you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you- Oh, God! Would you like to lie with your soul in the grave?
It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,' he answered. 'Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?'" -Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I am an emptying vessel
Solstice of the page
I’ll swim up canals
Climbing like foam
From a sea, drained
I spoke to my hands
In a wrinkled way
Hung tightly on lines
On poems inside you
He was a vociferous husband
Chained like the night to my knees
You taste foreign
A bark in a mouth of a child
Too simple for me
I Am (2)
I am the roll of the hilltops
The stalk of the withering rose
Lived in lives over and over
Calumniate a simple time
You scavenge me for truths
Like a lamp
Hoping for a glint of light.
I cannot bring you with me
I cannot bind you
As hard as I try
This weight in my skull
Lends an unfortunate response
To any and every
mark that is less than my own.
You cannot reach me
Slip in to me
And out the other side
Distilled and dismembered
Your head got caught in the door.
No song moves me
Trees burn dark
I shall not let you move me
You are faded
I have no use for you.
Friday, September 4, 2009
"Backward we traveled to reclaim the day
Before we fell, like Icarus, undone;
All we find are altars in decay
And profane words scrawled black across the sun."
"Everyone in me is a bird
I am beating all my wings"
"Is it the sea you hear in me?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?
Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it."
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The departing Force Commander of UNAMID (United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur), General Martin Luther Agwai, has been widely quoted as saying so. And if “over” is taken to mean the end of large-scale clashes between heavily armed forces, then this statement is true. In his view, the problems are now essentially related to “security issues… banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that”.
Is this assessment substantially new?
Not necessarily. In the most recent July 13, 2009 report of Secretary General on the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNSG Ban Ki-moon also noted the reduced levels of force on force violence:
During June 2009, there was a decline in the reported levels of violence in Western Darfur, although the armed parties along the Chad-Sudan border remained on high alert… following attacks by the Justice and Equality Movement on positions near Umm Baru (Northern Darfur) in mid-May 2009, there have been no significant military operations, although Sudanese Armed Forces have maintained an increased presence and military patrolling activities in the areas of Umm Baru, Kornoi and Tine, Northern Darfur… large-scale violence stretching over a wide territory and for lengthy periods is now infrequent.
This reported reduction in fighting, should it last, can only be welcomed by those interested in seeing a possible breathing space open for some form of eventual negotiated peace.
But does that mean that Darfur, as the problems there are popularly understood, is “over”? Certainly not.
The same July 2009 report by the UNSG states clearly and unambiguously: “the situation for the civilians of Darfur continues to be deeply troubling, with 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDP) unable to return to their homes and some 4.7 million Darfurians in need of assistance. Meanwhile, banditry and sexual violence continue to plague civilians throughout Darfur.”
Conflict and the displacement of civilians within Darfur, and to Chad, continue to hamper efforts to protect and assist the region’s 2.5 million IDPs, as well as some 45,000 Chadian refugees and more than 3,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. The joint African Union and United Nations hybrid force (UNAMID) is present but unable to carry out all its responsibilities due to a lack of equipment and personnel… in Darfur, besides insecurity, violence against women and environmental degradation, the primary concerns of people are in access to land and other livelihood opportunities. Migration heightens rivalries over natural resources, and competition for water, firewood and grazing land can lead to conflict.
In other words, while fighting may be down currently, the underlying issues which lie at its root have yet to be addressed or resolved and the humanitarian consequences of this remains unabated. Coupled with the very serious challenges surrounding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which has led to a Government of National Unity after many years of North/South conflict, the UNHCR assessment remains all too true today: “The conflict in Sudan continues to affect millions of people and create a complex and volatile political and security situation that remains a challenge for the humanitarian community”.
Similarly unresolved, despite the current lull in major combat, are the very important issues surrounding impunity and the International Criminal Court indictments. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for cooperation on the indictments, which concern President Bashir and others, while rejecting the smoke screen neo-colonialist argument attempting to delegitimize the ICC:
Africa played a leading – indeed, decisive - role in 1998 in the establishment of the ICC. Thirty African states have so far ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. African states strongly supported the creation of the ICC as a court of last resort to ensure that African victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes receive justice and reparations whenever states were unable and unwilling to investigate and prosecute such crimes. Three African states, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, referred situations in their own countries to the ICC on such a basis. A fourth country, Côte d’Ivoire, has recognized the ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes in its territory or by its citizens abroad.
Until a real and lasting peace is negotiated which confronts the underlying conditions which have led to six years of war, allowing for the safe return of refugees and the internally displaced and including safeguards marking an end to impunity and a respect for the legitimate ICC process, it is not - and cannot be - “over” in Darfur.
Written by Gilbert Martin, East Africa Coordinator for Amnesty International USAhttp://blog.amnestyusa.org/darfur/is-it-all-over-in-darfur/