Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gherkins and Tomatoes

For those with a taste for history and culinary treats, comes "Gherkins & Tomatoes"

"Gherkins & Tomatoes" revels in the lusciousness of food and culinary history. Cookbooks old and rare and new, recipes antique and modern, trends, morsels, tidbits … . History in the eating ... and the making.

Heloise - An Analysis

Wonderful article @ Medieval Image regarding Heloise:
Heloise was totally my perception of the difference in what women were like medieval. I felt that women in this period were weak-minded, obedient, chaste and ships. I hope that some women have been involved in sex before marriage, but I think these women have found this conduct as a disgrace. Heloise woman completely changed my misconceptions of the Middle Ages, it seems more like a woman of the twentieth century in his place and personal characteristics.

Women of Mystery

Another interesting blog that I would like to share: Women of Mystery.

A message from the gals:
The Women of Mystery share the trek, travail and tangles of writing and publishing, along with the magic of language and story. Don't just peek around the jamb, come on in and join the conversation.

Women Deacons

Inspiring article by Mimi Haddad @ Sorjourners: Women Leaders in the Early Church.

Here's a snippett:
As you may know, the question of whether women can serve as deacons has been recently debated among many evangelicals. Since scripture makes clear that Phoebe served as a deacon in the church in Cenchrea, there is an abundance of historical and archeological evidence that women deacons were upheld by the apostles. Both Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom recognize Phoebe was a deacon. This should give us pause. Why? Because the early church not only had the scriptures to guide them, they were also familiar with the oral teachings of the apostles. Since apostles, like Paul, supported the service of the deacon Phoebe, women’s service as deacons continued throughout the early centuries.

10 Truly Dangerous Women

Rather intriguing list of "dangerous" women from John, editor of Above 13:
Female criminals have captured headlines and imaginations since there were newspapers and people to say "holy crap, a woman did that?"

Not all the women on this list are necessarily criminals, but they are all dangerous in one form or another. They've written manifestos, murdered, maimed, run organized criminal operations, influenced hearts and minds, and even kicked a whole lot of ass.

India: Female Muftis

From Islam Online:
One of India's oldest and most conservative Islamic schools is opening its doors to train Muslim women to become muftis or jurists, a move hailed as a bold initiative for tracing Islam’s history in empowering women.

"On completion of fazeelat, these girls would be eligible for a one-year course of iftah," Mohammad Haroon, registrar of Nadwa-tul-Ulema academy, told The Calcutta Telegraph on Thursday, July 16.

Some 12 girls have already enrolled in fazeelat, a pre-requisite course girls have to complete before taking another one-year iftah course.

The prominent Muslim academy at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, is allocating separate buildings for the girl students inside its male-dominated institute.

According to Shari`ah, a woman is permitted to assume the highest levels of scientific and scholarship posts.

The history of Islam witnessed many women working as muftis and narrators of hadith.

Some women had special circles where they used to teach Islamic knowledge to men and women.

In 2006, Syria appointed first two mufti women to work in Damascus and Aleppo.

Blog: Women's Page Editors

Came across an interesting blog and thought I would share it with you: Women's Page Editors by Kimberly Wilmot Voss.

A blog devoted to women's page editors beginning during World War II (when many women were hired by the newsrooms until the war ended) through the early 1970s when the women's pages were transformed into lifestyle sections.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NK: NO Trousers for Women

From the Times of India:
North Korean women face hard labor if caught wearing trousers rather than skirts, under the communist regime’s latest crackdown on public morals, South Korean activists said on Friday.

Offenders can be punished with hours of forced labor or fines of 700 won, almost a week’s salary for the average worker, human rights group Good Friends said, citing its own sources within the isolated nation.

The Stalinist leadership’s campaign is angering women who see skirts as less practical than trousers, Good Friends director Lee Seung-Yong said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

NK Executes Christian Woman

From Fox News:
North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for distributing the Bible, which is banned in the communist nation, South Korean activists said Friday.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organizing dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon near the border with China on June 16, according to a report from an alliance of several dozen anti-North Korea groups.

Ri's parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in the northeastern city of Hoeryong the following day, the report said, citing unidentified documents it says were obtained from North Korea. It showed a copy of Ri's North Korean government-issued photo ID. It is virtually impossible to verify such reports about secretive North Korea, where the government tightly controls the lives of its citizens and does not allow dissent.

On Thursday, an annual report from a state-run South Korean think tank on human rights in the North said that public executions, though dropping in number in recent years, were still carried out for crimes ranging from murder to circulating foreign movies.

North Korea claims to guarantee freedom of religion for its 24 million people but in reality severely restricts religious observances. The cult of personality surrounding national founder Kim Il Sung and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, is a virtual state religion.

The government has authorized four state churches, one Catholic, two Protestant and one Russian Orthodox, but they cater to foreigners and ordinary North Koreans cannot attend. However, defectors and activists say more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to practice Christianity secretly.

The U.S. State Department reported last year that "genuine religious freedom does not exist" in North Korea.

"North Korea appears to have judged that Christian forces could pose a threat to its regime," Do Hee-youn, a leading activist, told reporters, claiming public executions, arrest and detention of North Koreans are prevalent.

"Girl Taxi" Service

Further on from my post "Pink Equals Women Only" comes this update from Don Duncan @ Wall Street Journal on the "women only" taxi service running in Beruit:
But these days the city's transport staple is facing some serious competition from a growing army of female taxi drivers, dressed in stiff-collared white shirts, dark shades, pink ties and small pink flowers tucked into their flawlessly coiffed hair.

All of them drive for Banet Taxi, or "girl taxi" in Arabic. It is Lebanon's first cab service for women, by women. You can't miss the company's signature candy-pink cars.

Ms. Fakhri cut her teeth in business running a pink- and pastel-hued beauty salon in east Beirut. The aesthetic legacy of that experience is clear in her current venture.

She launched Banet Taxi in March with just three cars and three drivers. Her fleet of late-model Peugeots has grown five-fold since then with enough drivers to provide 24-hour service. She is hoping to double her fleet this summer, to 24 cars.

The company is part of a regional trend. Entrepreneurs across the Middle East have recognized the business potential in offering secure transportation options for women. Banet Taxi follows on the heels of successful women-only transportation models in Dubai, Tehran and Cairo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recent Losses

Some recent losses of notable women as appeared @ Times Online:

Jean Lawrie: "Jean Lawrie campaigned for improved working conditions for medical women during a career which spanned 50 years. Lawrie pushed for key reforms to ensure that female doctors were able to pursue successful careers as well as assuming the responsibilities of family life."

Carmen Blacker: "Carmen Blacker was an outstanding scholar of Japanese culture. Throughout her life she did all she could for closer understanding between Britain and Japan. Japanese studies would not have survived at the University of Cambridge, where the bulk of her academic life was spent, without her efforts to attract support and students."

Anne Boutwood: "Anne Boutwood was the distinguished consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who helped to lead the campaign to fight to save the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA) Hospital, London, in the mid-1970s."

Natalia Estemirova

From Mark Franchetti @ The Australia:
Human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted from her Chechen home last week and murdered, had been forced to flee to Britain last year after the republic's President personally threatened her, according to colleagues.

Estemirova left Chechnya for four months because she no longer felt safe after a heated exchange with President Ramzan Kadyrov. He was angry that she had challenged his order that women should wear headscarves in public in the predominantly Muslim territory.

Estemirova, a former teacher, argued back but later felt vulnerable. Memorial, the Russian human rights organisation she had worked for since 1999, felt it was too dangerous for her to stay in Chechnya, so she moved to Britain in March last year but returned months later.

In the fortnight before her death, Estemirova reported on other abductions, the alleged murder of a Chechen woman suspected of links to rebels and an arson campaign that razed the homes of militants' relatives. "There was no one like Natalia in Chechnya," a friend said. "That's why they killed her. Now we won't hear of such crimes any more."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Peruvian Female Sacrifice

From Earth Times:
Archeologists in northern Peru have found the remains of a woman who was apparently killed in a 15th-century sacrifice to calm the wrath of nature. The find was made in Chan Chan, the oldest mud citadel in the Americas, archaeologist Raul Sosaya said Tuesday. The expert said the skeleton corresponded to a woman who was 1.55 metres tall and aged about 17. She died around the year 1460 and belonged to the Chimu culture.

Archaeologists found the body as they were working on the restoration of the outer walls of Chan Chan, around 600 kilometres north of Lima.

Sosaya said that one of the woman's feet had been amputated before she was hanged and her body thrown out near a wall. The gestures on her face suggest that she screamed before she died, and archaeologists think that she was sacrificed.

From what researchers know of the Chimu culture, the amputation of a foot was meant to prevent the sacrificed person from leaving the site in later lives.

Parion Princess

From Hurriyet Daily News:
Archaeologists in the Turkish Aegean town of Çanakkale are celebrating the new discovery of a 2,200-year-old sarcophagus in the ancient city of Parion, one of the most important centers of the Helenistic era.

Golden earrings, rings and crown pieces have been found in the sarcophagus, which is believed to have belonged to a princess. An archeological team headed by Prof. Cevat Başaran unearthed the sarcophagus three days ago during excavations conducted in the village of Kemer near Biga, northeast of Çanakkale.

"We have discovered an important finding at the necropolis, which is the cemetery of the ancient city," Başaran said. "This grave is most likely 2,200 years old. The golden jewelry shows this is the grave of a rich woman. We may call her the ’Princess of Parion.’"

Başaran pointed out that the sarcophagus contained a golden crown adorned with many gems, two golden earrings bearing the symbol of Eros and two golden rings. One of the rings was still on the finger bone of the skeleton, the professor added, noting that most of the bones were ruined due to moisture caused by the grave’s proximity to the sea.

Afghan Marriage Law Furor

Article from Heidi Vogt, Associated Press @
Activists yesterday rejected proposed revisions to Afghanistan’s marriage law, calling the new version just as oppressive as the original, which critics say legalized marital rape.

President Hamid Karzai signed the law in March but quickly suspended enforcement after governments around the world condemned it.

Though the law applied only to minority Shi’ites, critics saw it as a return to Taliban-style oppression of women by a government that was supposed to be promoting democracy and human rights.

The changes, which are not yet approved by Parliament, would delete sections that said a woman needs her husband’s permission to leave the house and must be ready for sex at least every four days. In a letter to the president, activists said other parts would change so little that the law is still unacceptable.

Issues such as polygamy and a woman’s right to work and to refuse sex have been addressed only with “slight changes in the wordings of the law, rather than changes in content,’’ the letter states.

The section about submitting to sex every four days was deleted, but other sections let a husband order sex, said Shinkai Kharokhel, a lawmaker involved in attempts to change the legislation.

A section explaining a husband must provide financially for his wife also says he can withhold support if she refuses to “submit to her husband’s reasonable sexual enjoyment,’’ according to Human Rights Watch.

That’s equivalent to saying a husband can starve his wife if she refuses to have sex, Kharokhel said.

Most Afghan women “are illiterate and they don’t have financial security and no one will give her money . . . shelter, medical, food, all these expenses belong to the man, and he can hold that back,’’ she said.

The revised law would also restrict a woman’s right to leave the house and to work, she said.

Even so, Kharokhel said, deletion of some of the most controversial articles showed the government was trying to address women’s rights.

Beloved Daughters

Article by Alice Thorson, Kansas City Star:
If you were appalled by the treatment of Indian children portrayed in the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” a new photography exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will break your heart.

Called “Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh,” the exhibit presents an album of pain.

It brings viewers face to face with victims of backward practices and attitudes that endure in parts of India, despite the country’s image as a modern democracy.

In some sectors of Indian society, girls are seen as a burden — mainly because of the dowry their families must produce when they marry — and the traditional preference for boy children has led to unspeakable abuses.

Sheikh, an award-winning activist photographer, worked with social-service agencies and street-level activists to get to know his subjects as individuals.

His black-and-white portraits of infants, girls and women come with text panels that tell their stories.

April Watson, associate curator of photography at the Nelson, admires Sheikh’s willingness to spend time with his subjects.

Sudanese Women: Flogged

Article by Sarah el Deeb of Associated Press at
Sudanese police arrested 13 women in a raid on a cafe and flogged 10 of them in public for wearing trousers in violation of the country's strict Islamic law, one of those arrested said Monday.

The 13 women were at a cafe in the capital, Khartoum, when they were detained Friday by officers from the public order police, which enforces the implementation of Sharia law in public places.

The force, which is similar to the Saudi religious police, randomly enforces an alcohol ban and often scolds young men and women mingling in public.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mary Hanson

--- a tale by Arthur L Hayward

Amongst the many frailties to which our nature is subject, there is not perhaps a more dangerous one than the indulging ourselves in ridiculous and provoking discourses, merely to try the tempers of other people. I speak not this with regard to the criminal of whom we are next to treat, but of the person who in the midst of his sins drew upon himself a sudden and violent death by using such silly kind of speeches towards a woman weak in her nature, and deprived of what little reason she had by drink.

This poor creature, flying into an excess of passion with Francis Peters, who was some distant relation to her by marriage, she wounded him suddenly under the right pap with a knife, before she could be prevented by any of the company; of which wound he died. The warm expressions she had been guilty of before the blow, prevailed with the jury to think she had a premeditated malice, and thereupon they found her guilty.

Fear of death, want of necessaries, and a natural tenderness of body, brought on her soon after conviction so great a sickness that she could not attend the duties of public devotion, and reduced her to the necessity of catching the little intervals of ease which her distemper allowed her, to beg pardon of God for that terrible crime for which she had been guilty.

There was at the same time, one Mary Stevens in the condemned hold (though she afterwards received a reprieve) who was very instrumental in bringing this poor creature to a true sense of herself and of her sins; she then confessed the murder with all its circumstances, reproached herself with having been guilty of such a crime as to murder the person who had so carefully took her under his roof, allowed her a subsistence and been so peculiarly civil to her, for which he expected no return but what was easily in her power to make. This Mary Stevens was a weak-brained woman, full of scruples and difficulties, and almost distracted at the thoughts of having committed several robberies. After receiving the Sacrament, she not only persuaded this Mary Hanson to behave herself as became a woman under her unhappy condition, but also persuaded two or three other female criminals in that place to make the best use of that mercy which the leniency of the Government has extended them.

There was a man suffered to go twice a day to read to them, and probably it was he who drew up the paper for Mary Hanson which she left behind her, for though it be very agreeable to the nature of her case, yet it is penned in the manner not likely to come from the hands of a poor ignorant woman. Certain it is, however, that she behaved herself with great calmness and resolution at the time of her death, and did not appear at all disturbed at that hurry which, as I shall mention in the next life, happened at the place of execution. The paper she left ran in these words, viz.:

Though the poverty of my parents hindered me from having any great education, yet I resolve to do as I know others in my unhappy circumstances have done, and by informing the world of the causes which led me to that crime for which I so justly suffer, that by shunning it they may avoid such a shameful end; and I particularly desire all women to take heed how they give way to drunkenness, which is a vice but too common in this age. It was that disorder in which my spirits were, occasioned by the liquor I had drunk, which hurried me to the committing a crime, at the thoughts of which on any other time my blood would have curdled. I hope you will afford me your prayers for my departing soul, as I offer up mine to God that none of you may follow me to this fatal place.

Having delivered this paper, she suffered at about thirty years old.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eileen Younghusband

From BBC News:
A woman whose talent for maths helped foil German V2 bombs in World War II has published her life story.

Eileen Younghusband, 87, from the Vale of Glamorgan, received the coded message that the first V2 rocket had been launched against Britain.

She had the secret task while in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

She said: "It was our information that gave air-raid warnings, it told the Royal Observer Corps where the aircraft were coming in."

Mrs Younghusband added: "The girls who worked on that section, many of them now nearly 90 years of age, have never felt that the work they did has been recognised, so this is one of the reasons that made me write this book."

Her book, Not An Ordinary Life has been published with the help of the Lifelong Learning centre at Cardiff University.

WWII WASPs Honoured

From NPR:
President Obama signed a bill Wednesday granting the Congressional Gold Medal to a group of women most Americans have never heard of: the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP.

These were the first women to fly military aircraft. During World War II, they volunteered for noncombat duty, as test pilots and trainers. They freed up their male counterparts to go to Europe and fight in the war.

But even though they wore uniforms and worked on bases, they were never considered members of the military. Their contribution to the war effort was so controversial, in fact, that all records pertaining to their service were sealed and deemed classified in 1944. That pretty much consigned the WASP to the dustbin of history for decades.

Vietnamese Women's Museum

Interesting article from the blog: Equal Writes - as the author takes us on a virtual journey through this museum.

The museum is under construction, so there were only three rooms open - one permanent exhibit, and two very limited temporary exhibits, one on women in war propaganda, and one telling the stories of female street vendors.

Society Minus Men

Article from Michael Hanlon @ Mail Online:
Despite all the twists and turns taken in the new world of reproductive medicine, the news that a scientific team is trying to make the male human redundant is still profoundly shocking.

For the first time, the possibility of 'parthenogenesis' - or 'virgin reproduction' - has come within scientific reach.

Put at its crudest, we now face the possibility of a world where women do not need men to make babies - with all of the immense moral, ethical and philosophical questions that raises.

Isobel Redmond

From Michael Owen of the Australian:
The troubled Liberal Party branch hopes its decision to install its first female leader will end the destabilising divisions that have dogged it in the lead-up to the next state election in March.

Reflecting how fractured the 22-member partyroom has become in recent weeks, Ms Redmond won the leadership on the second ballot rather than claiming an outright victory in the first three-way vote between herself, former deputy leader Vickie Chapman and former frontbencher Mitch Williams.

Ms Redmond ultimately won the day against Ms Chapman by 13 votes to nine.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

USA: Nuns on the Run

From David Usborne @ the Independent:
American nuns could be said to have their habits in a twist in the face of two investigations by the Vatican into whether they have come to espouse lifestyles and views on the Church that may just be a tad too modern. Except that many don't wear habits any more. They wear regular clothes, even jeans.

Many nuns have stretched beyond the cloistered life to enter professions like teaching, the law and social work, and often eschew convents in favour of living alone. But, for the Vatican, it seems that American nuns may have strayed a bit too far from the traditional path.

There was a warning shot in March when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a decree telling Catholics that they should desist from practising Reiki, an ancient Japanese healing technique increasingly favoured by nuns involving the laying-on of hands, and very far from the traditional approach that Rome seems to prefer.

Pressure on the nuns, whose numbers in the US have dwindled in the last four decades from 180,000 to just 60,000, has grown however since the launch of a so-called Apostolic Visitation ordered by the Vatican. With interviews and questionnaires, this is a formal inquiry into the activities of women's religious institutions being conducted by Mother Mary Clare Millea, an American nun who lives in Rome.

Pakistan: Women & Politics

From The Star:
The women wings of PAS, DAP and PKR have vowed to be the stabilising factor in Pakatan Rakyat in light of the Kedah DAP’s pullout from the state coalition.

Central committee member Dr Lo’Lo Mohamad Ghazali said the women wings had urged the central committee for the leadership to have more consultations and communication, and for each party to be more sacrificial for one another.

She said they had agreed to it.

“We are the stabilising factor and we will ensure that Pakatan will continue to be strong. These are common problems and I believe it would help Pakatan to mature,” she said.

Indigenous Women - Invisible Women

From Ramiro Escobar @ Latin America Press:
"Mother Earth gives us life, and women give life too, so to defend life is defend the Earth," said Leonilda Zurita, leader of Bolivia´s Bartolina Sisa Federation of Campesina and Indigenous Women. Speaking at the first regional summit of indigenous women in the Peruvian highland city of Puno, Zurita and other prominent indigenous women leaders spoke out about the state and priorities of native women in Latin America.

The summit was part of the fourth Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples Abya Yala, or "living Earth" in the Kuna language of Panama, during which indigenous women discussed their importance and new proposals that linked the Earth, communal lands and equality.

Croatia: Female PM - Jadranka Kosor

From IOL News:
Croatian President Stipe Mesic opened talks on Friday on a naming a woman as prime minister for the first time in the Balkan state after the unexpected resignation of Ivo Sanader.

Mesic held discussions with parties representing minorities and was later to meet with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which has proposed he appoint Jadranka Kosor as Sanader's successor.

The president told national radio earlier he would name Kosor as prime minister-designate once she proves that she has a majority in the 153-seat parliament.

Kosor, a 56-year-old former journalist, would be the first woman to occupy the most powerful post in Croatian politics since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Concentration Camp Bordellos

Article by Mareike Fallet and Simone Kaiser @ Spiegel Online:
Concentration camp brothels remain a hushed-up chapter of the Nazi-era horrors. Now a German researcher has probed the dark subject -- and has revealed the meticulous cruelty of the so-called "special buildings."

The prisoners' brothel at the Buchenwald concentration camp opened on July 11, 1943. It was the fourth of a total of 10 so-called "special buildings" erected in concentration camps between 1942 and 1945, according to the instructions of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. He implemented a rewards scheme in the camps, whereby prisoners' "particular achievements" earned them smaller workloads, extra food or monetary bonuses.

Altogether some 200 women shared the fate of the Mauthausen prisoners in the camp brothels. In particular healthy and good-looking women prisoners between the ages of 17 and 35 caught the eye of SS recruiters. More than 60 percent of them were of German nationality, but Polish women, those from the Soviet Union and one Dutch woman were transferred into the "special task forces." The Nazis didn't allow Jewish women for "racial hygiene" reasons.

History Today also has a feature on this dark passage of history:
Robert Sommer’s latest book The Concentration Camp Bordello: Sexual Forced Labor in National Socialistic Concentration Camps (Das KZ-Bordell) provides, however, for the first time a comprehensive study of this dark, hushed-up and largely ignored chapter of the history of Nazi Germany. Sommer is a cultural studies scholar based in Berlin. His study will be published in July by Schoningh Verlag, Paderborn. It is the result of a nine-year project based on the study of archives, concentration camp memorial sites and interviews with historical witnesses.

Review: Haunted Chambers

From Freemason Information:
“Haunted Chambers“, for the first time ever, presents not only the most complete list of early women Freemasons but also as much detail about their lives as can still be found. Here are their stories, long suppressed, ignored and marginalized. They include medieval women stone cutters; so-called “adoptive” women Freemasons; an aristocrat; a countess; an early New Brunswick settler; a war hero; a writer of women’s rights; an immigrant Irish girl; the famed sculptress of Abraham Lincoln’s statue in the US Capitol Rotunda and many whose names are now lost.

Some will find this book a challenge. Some would rather it never had been written, let alone published. “Haunted Chambers” is highly recommended to anyone who wants the actual history of these early women Freemasons and aren’t afraid to read it.