NEWS & LETTERS, July-August 2005

Women World Wide

by Mary Jo Grey

Legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate in June and must be approved by Sept. 30 or it will expire. No action has yet been taken. Does the right-wing Republican Congress, already intent on undermining women’s rights, also plan to deny us the right to life?

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The Feminism and Hip-Hop conference that took place over three days in April at the University of Chicago is the latest in a growing challenge to the sexual objectification of Black women in hip-hop music and videos. The national discussion was ignited last year by women students at historically-Black Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, when hip-hop star Nelly cancelled a charity event at their campus because they demanded a meeting with him to discuss the demeaning images of Black women in his videos. Response to the Chicago conference was so overwhelming that registration had to be closed early. Young music lovers were joined by feminist scholars, hip-hop journalists, video models and artists. They shared ways to combat this depiction of women as less than human, that results in women being treated that way; to stop broadcasting such images around the world "leading people to believe that's who Black women are," and to end the destruction of women's self-worth. Said one participant, "I was thrilled to see young women come together in a collective voice and say you have to be accountable."

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Quebec’s unanimous vote to ban the misogynist Shari’a Court is a "victory for all defenders of human rights," said Homa Arjomand, Coordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada. She called the decision a positive move towards elimination of interference of religion in the justice system. The struggle continues to overturn Ontario’s decision last year to adopt Shari’a law in that province.

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Women from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe met in Windhoek, Namibia to launch the Coalition of African Lesbians with a goal for African lesbian equality and visibility. They are working to secure full human rights and to be respected as full citizens in all spheres of life.

--Information from Women's Human Rights Online Bulletin

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