Monday, November 30, 2009

Spiritus Anglican Women’s Hostel

From City North News:
IN THE 33 years it has been helping women avoid homelessness, the Spiritus Anglican Women’s Hostel has welcomed thousands of desperate clients off the street and into a warm bed.

The hostel provides crisis accommodation for up to three months for women at risk of becoming homeless, and manager Carol Birrell said the full house sign was always up.

``The demand has always been huge,’’ Mrs Birrell said.

``We would probably take anywhere between 15 and 20 telephone calls a day from women needing a place to stay. We cannot help all of them and we only house women who are unaccompanied by their partner and or children when they arrive here.

``Sadly we’re turning a lot of people away every day but we encourage them to ring up daily in case someone leaves.’’

The hostel provides shared accommodation including bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry and recreational areas for 14 women aged 18 and over.

Spiritus works closely with Foodbank and is part of the Quest Community Newspapers and Retail First campaign to collect 10 tonnes of food in the lead-up to Christmas.

Tsar: the bloody life & times of Ivan the Terrible

From the Telegraph:
Vyacheslav Manyagin has asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to outlaw the film, which he claims is an insult to Russian statehood.

The blockbuster, released earlier this month, has triggered an ill-tempered debate in religious and historical circles at a time when the Kremlin is encouraging Russians to take patriotic pride in their often brutal history.

The film's director, Pavel Lungin, has countered by saying he only showed a fraction of the bloodshed for which Ivan the Terrible became infamous. "We can see a lot of the characteristics of his power today," Mr Lungin told the Moscow Times. "After his reign, Russia was left behind in the process of progress. We have made no headway since that time."

Claudette Colvin

From the New York Times:
On that supercharged day in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., she rode her way into history books, credited with helping to ignite the civil rights movement.

But there was another woman, named Claudette Colvin, who refused to be treated like a substandard citizen on one of those Montgomery buses — and she did it nine months before Mrs. Parks. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his political debut fighting her arrest. Moreover, she was the star witness in the legal case that eventually forced bus desegregation.

Yet instead of being celebrated, Ms. Colvin has lived unheralded in the Bronx for decades, initially cast off by black leaders who feared she was not the right face for their battle, according to a new book that has plucked her from obscurity.

At the time, the arrest was big news. Black leaders, among them Dr. King, jumped at the opportunity to use her case to fight segregation laws in court. “Negro Girl Found Guilty of Segregation Violation” was the headline in The Alabama Journal. The article said that Ms. Colvin, “a bespectacled, studious looking high school student,” accepted the ruling “with the same cool aloofness she had maintained” during the hearing.

As chronicled by Mr. Hoose, more than 100 letters of support arrived for Ms. Colvin — sent in care of Mrs. Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery branch of the N.A.A.C.P.

Gretel Bergmann

From the Telegraph:
The German track and field association has honoured Gretel Bergmann for a 5ft 3in high jump she made in Stuttgart in June, 1936 - a record that was erased from the history books by the Nazis.

It said its recognition of her achievement after her snub by the Nazis was an "act of justice and a symbolic gesture of respect".

Bergmann moved to Britain from Germany in 1933 to find better athletics training. The following year, she became the British high jump champion.

Noticing her success and possibly concerned she might compete for Britain in the Berlin Games, the Nazis demanded she return to Germany.

German athletics officials, who acknowledged that their gesture "can in no way make up" for the Nazis' actions in refusing to acknowledge her sporting prowess, have also asked for her to be included in the national sporting hall of fame.

Reading for the New Year

Some interesting reads and soon to be released reads:
  • Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher
  • Child Life in Colonial Times by Alice Morse Earle
  • Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II by AN Wilson
  • The Lady in the Tower: The fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
  • The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
  • The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan
  • Women in India: Retrospect and Prospect by K. Shanthi
  • Women, Race & Class by Angela Y Davis
  • Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • Two Old Women by Velma Wallis
  • Queen Anne: A Biography by Anne Somerset
  • The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan
  • The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
  • Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Trans: Michael Hofmann)
  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C Heller
  • Dorothea Lang: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon
  • The Last Empress: Madam Chiang Kai-Shek and the Birth of Modern China by Hannah Pakula
  • When Everything Changed: The Amazing Jounrey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
Can't wait for some upcoming releases for 2010!

Maroon Chieftess - Gloria Simms

From the Jamaica Gleaner:
Maroon chieftess Gloria Simms has started a group to give voice to female Maroons as well as preserve and transmit their culture in Jamaica.

Simms, who is the founder and director of Maroon Indigenous Women's Circle, is from the Trelawny Town Maroons in St James.

Meetings started in 2007, but the group was formalised last year, and Simms said it could be the group's influence that resulted in the election of the first woman deputy colonel, in Accompong, St Elizabeth this year.

She said members hail from five Maroon villages in Jamaica, and numbered approximately 100 women, including those who work or reside outside the villages. Speaking confidently, she noted that those who have left the village are important because they have valuable views as well.

The chieftess is concerned that Jamaican culture is fast eroding, and is on a quest to ensure that future generations do not forget the rich history.

"When we look and see what is going on, we know that it is acculturation of our people taking on different cultures that were not designed for them, so sometimes it is hard for them to fit into other cultures and be themselves," she asserted.

Simms believes that the retention of the Maroon culture is also a problem.

"The culture that the Maroons preserve is sometimes based in the village, and the wider society is not being introduced many times to it and feel like they are an outsider to the culture."

She added: "Even as Maroon women sitting in the village, you don't know where your son who you have taught all the Maroon cultures is going to put his likeness in when he comes out as a youngster."

She explained that this could bring outside cultures into the village.

Simms said Maroon women still carry the sovereign integrity of what ancient African women used to be and the role they played in Africa as queen mothers.

"We need to take that stand and take that to our women," she said.

Women Unlimited

From the Telegraph:
Women Unlimited, the UK's fastest growing organisation focused on supporting women business owners, is calling out to the UK's female entrepreneurs to ‘be extraordinary'.

Julie Hall, founder and editor of Women Unlimited, believes that now is the time for women to step up and start leading the way in business. She comments: "As we come out of the recession, this is the perfect time for women to fill the gaps that have been created in the market and increase their contribution to the UK's economic recovery. Owning a business is the best way for women to break through the glass ceiling and take control of their earning potential.

Dr. Brooke Magnanti aka Belle De Jour

From South Dakota Politics:
Britain is making quite a fuss over Dr. Brooke Magnanti, who recently revealed herself as the infamous Belle De Jour. Magnanti as Belle ran a blog called “Diary of a London Call-Girl” that gained her a substantial following. It became a best-selling book and later a TV series.

Continue reading Miranda Flint's article "Ladies, Feminists and Women of Ill Repute".

UNESCO: Women Researchers Still A Minority

From the Gov Monitor:
The number of researchers, on the rise world-wide, jumped by 56% in developing countries between 2002 and 2007.

According to a new study published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

In comparison, their number increased by only 8.6% in developed countries during the same period*.

In five years, the number of researchers in the world rose significantly, from 5.8 to 7.1 million.

The greatest gain was made in developing countries: 2.7 million researchers were counted in 2007, versus 1.8 million five years earlier.

These countries increased their global share of researchers from 30.3% in 2002 to 38.4%.

The biggest increase was seen in Asia, whose share went up from 35.7% in 2002 to 41.4%. China is mainly responsible for the gain, having gone from 14 to 20% in five years.

The increase in Asia occurred at the expense of Europe and the Americas, whose shares went down respectively from 31.9 to 28.4% and from 28.1 to 25.8%.

“The increase in the number of researchers, notably in developing countries, is good news. UNESCO welcomes this development, although the participation of women in science, which UNESCO promotes notably through the l’OREAL-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science, is still too limited,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO.

Switzerland: Women Take On Politics

From SwissInfo:
Both houses of parliament have appointed women to chair their meetings over the next 12 months – a first in Swiss history.

Pascale Bruderer, a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, was elected speaker of the House of Representative.

The 32-year-old Bruderer entered politics at a local level 12 years ago and joined the Swiss parliament in 2002.

The Senate will be headed by Erika Forster-Vannini of the centre-right Radical Party. The 65-year-old businesswoman has served more than 20 years in parliaments on local, cantonal and national levels. She became a Senator 14 years ago.

The prestigious posts of speaker are rotated among the political parties.

On December 2, a joint session of both houses is due to elect Economics Minister Doris Leuthard next year's Swiss president. She succeeds Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz.

Swiss women obtained the right to vote and be elected only in 1971.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Samoa: Women Police Officers

From Australian Network News:
The Samoan chair of a Pacific women's advocacy group is pushing for more acceptance of women in the region's police forces.

Siripa Uelese, the chairwoman of the Women's Advisory Network which is part of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Secretariat (PICP), is leading the call for policewomen to be given equal opportunities in law enforcement.

She says many policemen believe law enforcement work is unsafe for women.

"But then we have the same skills, we have the same experience and yet we've been under-utilised,' she told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

She says they should not just be placed in desk jobs if they are capable of performing other roles.

The Secretariat Officer of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, Dave Potaka, says the role of women in police work needs to be assessed.

"Women are quite capable, and are getting paid the same amount of money as the men are, so there's no reason why they can't - they have the same abilities," he said.

"It's been pointed out to me that probably the only thing they can't do is search male prisoners, as men can't search women prisoners. Otherwise they should be able to do the job exactly the same."

Inspector Dave Potaka says the Chiefs of Police in the Pacific would benefit from discussions on how to progress opportunities for women.

Ghana: Women Police Officers

From Peace FM:
A two-day leadership training workshop aimed at encouraging female police personnel to play active role in all duties in the service opened on Thursday in Sunyani.

Fifty-five police women drawn from 17 districts of the Brong-Ahafo Region are attending the workshop.

Opening the workshop Deputy Commissioner of Police Seth Charles Oteng, Brong-Ahafo Regional Police Commander, stressed the need for refresher courses, workshops, meetings and other programmes to update the knowledge and skills of the female police personnel to add value to services they rendered.

The Regional Commander urged the police women to make good use of the opportunity and to share the knowledge they would acquire with their colleagues.

SA: Violence Against Women

From IOL:
Women in South Africa are six times more likely to be killed by their "male partners" than elsewhere in the world, says the senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, Lisa Vetton.

She said the rate of such killings by intimate partners in South Africa was six times higher than the global average.

"It translates into four women killed every day by their intimate partners."

This was one of the chilling statistics given by Vetton when she took part in SAfm Radio's discussion programme, the After Eight Debate, on violence against women and children.

The debate marked the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign.

Vetton said last year's statistics showed 52 000 rapes had been reported in South Africa. "But research from 1997 found that only one in nine women in the study was reporting. This suggests we are looking at closer to 450 000 rapes a year. If you compare our reported rapes with those in the United States, it is three times higher."

Sudan: Luba Cannot Return

From Capital News:
The Sudanese journalist briefly jailed for wearing "indecent trousers" said Wednesday she might not return to her country but instead continue her campaign for women's rights from abroad.

Lubna Ahmed Hussein, who said she defied a travel ban and sneaked out of Sudan wearing a full Islamic veil to hide her identity, said however she was not planning to ask for asylum in Europe.

"I am waiting for the network of women in Sudan (campaigning for women's rights)... to decide whether it is better for me to continue the campaign at home or abroad," she told reporters in Paris.

"I will follow their decision," she said, speaking on the UN-sponsored International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Hussein said Sudanese authorities had tried to stop her leaving the country but that she had contacts in Khartoum airport who helped her get past passport control and board an international flight.

Hussein was in France to promote her new book "40 coups de fouet pour un pantalon" (Forty Lashes for a Pair of Trousers), which is published in French and is set to be translated into English and other languages.

Guinea: More Violence Against Women

From Reuters:

Guinean soldiers raped at least 100 women during a crackdown on protesters in September, a human rights group said on Thursday.

The findings were released as United Nations experts began to investigate the repression, in which about 160 people were killed. The crackdown has drawn widespread condemnation and brought sanctions against the ruling military junta.

"We have recorded 100 cases of rape against women committed Sept. 28 and the two days that followed," said Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Organisation of Human Rights, which is working with the U.N. investigators.

"Most were schoolchildren, students, businesswomen, teachers, even journalists."

The organisation had found evidence that 20 victims were taken from a medical clinic to secret locations where they were drugged and raped repeatedly.

Three U.N. experts arrived in the West African nation, the world's top supplier of aluminum ore bauxite, on Wednesday to investigate the crackdown in which security forces used guns, steel pipes and knives on unarmed demonstrators gathered in a Conakry stadium.

Witnesses have said some soldiers violated women using gunbarrels and bayonets.

The demonstrators were protesting against the junta, whose leader Captain Musa Dadis Camara stepped back from a promise to opt out of elections intended to restore civilian rule.

Sth Korea: Fake Proposals

From the Herald Sun:
A COURT in South Korea has revoked a law that punished men for conning women into bed - by falsely promising to marry them.

South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday put an end to penal code 304 under which offenders who deceived women "with no penchant for debauchery" could be punished with up to two years in jail.

The law placed unnecessary restrictions on individual rights and ignored women's rights to make their own decisions concerning their sex lives, the court said.

It also pointed out that the old law forced "traditional, male-chauvinistic morals" upon women by protecting only those the law deemed had "no penchant for debauchery".

"Those who have been punished in the past under the old law can now ask for re-examination of their cases so that their criminal records may be wiped out," court spokesman Noh Hee-Bum said.

Female blackmailers had also used the 56-year-old law to extort money from men, Noh said, by threatening to sue after sex, claiming they'd only gone to bed with the men after they'd been proposed to.

Review: The Making of Mary Magdalen

From the Blog - Theophilogue comes this review of "The Making of Mary Magdalen in Medieval Legends" by Katherine L. Jansen:

The following is a book review of Katherine L. Jansen’s renown scholarly contribution to medieval studies that focuses on how so many legends developed during the Medieval period about Mary Magdalen to the point that she became second only to Mary (the mother of Jesus) in veneration. She doesn’t just tell us how these stories developed, but what they say about medieval notions of godliness/sanctity/piety. She shows how the supply and demand principle can also be applied to preaching during the medieval period (and probably to preaching in every age). That is, she shows how Mary Magdalen was shaped into all sorts of colorful legendary images to fit the needs of the day as perceived by the preachers of the day. The friars couldn’t help but let their imaginations run wild with the Magdalen stories in order to use her as the “model” alternative to whatever they perceived as the corruption of society. The legends developed because they were practical for preaching.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

White Ribbon Day

Today, Wednesday 25th November 2009 is White Ribbon Day - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

It is the start of a 16-day campaign that also includes Stop Domestic Violence Day on December 5 and World Human Rights Day on December 10.

White Ribbon Day is the biggest effort by men in partnership with women across the world to end men's violence against women.

White ribbons are worn on the day by men and the women as a way of speaking out against violence towards women.

Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi

From Associated Press:
Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi, known as the "Mother of Judo" partly for her role in bringing women's judo to the Olympic Games, has died. She was 74.

Her daughter, Jean Kanokogi, said she died Saturday at Lutheran Medical Center in New York following a three-year battle with leukemia.

Rusty Kanokogi competed in judo against men in the 1950s and helped create the first Women's World Judo Championships, which were held in 1980 in New York City.

"Rusty was the Gloria Steinem of judo, and women's judo would not be where it is today without her relentless efforts," Corinne Shigemoto, the U.S. team's coach at the 1996 Olympics, said in a USA Judo statement on Sunday.

Kanokogi coached the U.S. women's judo team at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea in 1988 — the year the sport was added to the games, according to Colorado Springs, Colo.-based USA Judo. She worked as a judo commentator for NBC during the network's coverage of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Jean Kanokogi said her mother worked hard to provide opportunities for women to compete in judo after she was stripped of a gold medal she won at the 1959 New York State YMCA Judo Championships. Women weren't allowed to compete.

Zimbabwe: Women face up to Mugabe

From Associated Press:
President Barack Obama praised representatives of a women's organization whose members have been beaten by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's police force and face court trials for challenging Zimbabwe's government. He said their grassroots efforts could improve the African country.

Honoring activists Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu, Obama said they empowered women of Zimbabwe to speak out on the desperate hunger, crumbling health and education systems, and domestic violence and rape in Zimbabwe. Obama said the women worked despite government repression and free speech restrictions.

"They often don't get far before being confronted by President Mugabe's riot police," Obama said in bestowing on them the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. "They have been gassed, abducted, threatened with guns and badly beaten — forced to count out loud as each blow was administered."

Tajikistan: Fails to curb violence against women

From Reuters:
The government of the Central Asian state of Tajikistan is failing to protect women from violence and abuse, human rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday.

Mostly Muslim Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, is the poorest former Soviet republic, its economy devastated by a civil war in the 1990s.

Observers see its government, led by President Imomali Rakhmon, as less repressive than those in neighboring Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but London-based Amnesty said the issue of women's rights was pressing.

"Women in Tajikistan are beaten, abused, and raped in the family but the authorities tend to reflect the societal attitude of blaming the woman for domestic violence," Tajikistan expert Andrea Strasser-Camagni said in a statement.

The group said one-third to a half of Tajik women have been regularly subjected to physical, psychological or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or in-laws and all women had very limited employment opportunities.

"Women are being treated as servants or as the in-laws' family property. They have no one to turn to as the policy of the authorities is to urge reconciliation which de facto reinforces their position of inferiority," Strasser-Camagni said.

"This experience of violence and humiliation in the family makes many women to turn to suicide."

Amnesty said many girls were being denied the opportunity to receive proper education, dropping out of school early to enter marriages, often polygamous or unregistered.

It urged the government to introduce laws and support services to tackle domestic violence and carry out public awareness campaigns addressing illegal marriage issues.

"By writing off violence against women as a family affair the authorities in Tajikistan are shirking their responsibility to a large part of the population," Strasser-Camagni said.

"They are allowing perpetrators of such crimes to act with impunity and, ultimately, denying women their human rights."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cambridge International Chronicles Symposium

From Cambridge University:

The second biennial Cambridge International Chronicles Symposium (CICS) follows the success of our inaugural proceedings held at Cambridge in 2008. The theme for CICS 2010 is Authority and Gender in Medieval and Renaissance Chronicles, which will be debated over the three days during open sessions of three twenty-five minute papers, alternating with longer keynote addresses. Selected papers will be published in a volume bearing the same title within two years of the conference. The 2008 inaugural proceedings appeared in The Medieval Chronicle, vols VI (2009) and VII (2010, forthcoming).

You've only got till 15th December 2009 to submit your article.

Book Reviews

From News on Sex: Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland by Lisa Bitel.

From Times Online: The House of Borgia by Christopher Hibbert and Martyrs and Murderers by Stuart Carroll.

From Medieval News: Manhood and Maidenhood: Sexuality, Homosociality, and Aristocratic Identity in Late Medieval Iceland by Henric Bagerius.

A Decade of Books

The Times Online has published its 100 Best Books of the Decade. Here are a few from their list that were of interest to me:
  • The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo
  • The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
  • True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
  • The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

November Blogs of Interest

From The Tyee - a review of "A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice" by Malalai Joya.

See also a review from Canadian Press posted here in October: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords

From Original Wavelength - Where can a Muslim woman show her face and the history of the veil.

From Reality Observer - a look at women in English literature (from Beowulf to Bronte).

From History Undressed - Kimberly Killion: Fiction vs. Fact: Did a woman’s virginity raise her worth on the slave market?

From A Striped Armchair - Women Unbound: A New Reading Challenge

Vaira Vike-Freiberga vs Men of the EU

From Times Online:
The leading female contender to be chosen as Europe’s first president yesterday challenged her male rivals to an open contest, and criticised the secretive carve-up of the EU’s top job.

Known as VVF, the formidable Vaira Vike-Freiberga is furious at the suggestion that there are no suitably qualified women to run the EU — and at the squalid selection process taking place behind the scenes.

Twice President of Latvia, she is one of the few openly declared candidates for the EU presidency and is well equipped to become the face of Europe among a field of grey men. Her remarkable early life, fleeing across Europe from the front lines of the Second World War, was followed by a distinguished academic career and eight years as President, steering Latvia into the EU and Nato.

Mrs Vike-Freiberga, who was nominated by the Baltic states to be UN Secretary-General after the departure of Kofi Annan in 2006, said that her programme for the EU presidency would be guided by pragmatism, rejecting ideologies such as federalism. Since leaving the Latvian presidency two years ago she has joined a group of senior politicians drawing up plans for the EU and is a frequent visitor to Brussels.

No, Sex & No Soap Operas Equals Divorce

From the Siasat Daily:
An Indian woman has successfully divorced her husband after he declined to have sex, spat on her and refused her permission to watch television soap operas.

A court in the southern city of Pune heard that the situation led to daily arguments and that the woman felt she had no other option but to file for divorce. Judge MG Kulkarni ruled that the husband's behaviour amounted to cruelty.

"From February 2005, the husband started picking up quarrels with the wife almost every day on the ground that she was seeing Hindi serials on TV channels," he said. "The husband was not allowing the wife to see programmes on TV as per her choice." As in many other parts of the world, soap operas have a huge following in India, especially among women and domestic servants. The court heard that the couple, who had been married for eight years and had a daughter, began fighting in 2005 as a result of their differences.

The divorce was granted in August but details only emerged this week when the husband appealed in the Bombay High Court against the judgment, which had also granted custody of their daughter to the wife. Lawyers for the husband, a software engineer, argued that the woman's claims of cruelty were false and that his treatment amounted to no more than the normal "wear and tear" of married life. The judges, due back in court next week, urged the couple to seek conciliation.

Exceptional Women in the Medieval Courtroom

From Legal History Blog.

A recent ".... panel focused on the unique place women had in the court room during the Middle Ages in Spain, France and Italy. Each paper presented a difficult legal situation involving women that required courts to adapt or change the law in order to properly address the issue."

Featured papers included:
  • “Facing off from the Margins: Female Slaves and Jews in Medieval Procedural Law” by Marie Kelleher
  • “Avoiding Great Harm, Danger, and Absurdity: Legal Protection for Wives with Absent Husbands” by Jamie Smith
  • “Abandoned Wives and the Law in Late-Medieval Champagne” by Sara McDougall
Grateful for any further details regarding this panel and any outcomes / findings.

Review: Women & Aristocratic Culture

Valerie Garver's book "Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World" is reviewd by Matt Liporata @ Northern Star Online.

Valerie Garver, assistant professor of history, wrote the book “Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World,” published earlier this month by Cornell University Press. The book, as the title implies, focuses on aristocratic women’s roles during the eighth and ninth century.

In the book, Garver illustrates that women played integral roles in Carolingian society despite legal and social restrictions. The Carolingian dynasty was one of the largest empires in medieval European history. Occupying much of western Europe, the dynasty served as an influence on many other empires of the era, bringing cultural renaissance to the area.

Review: Caliban & the Witch

Further to my September post Books: Women & History in which I brought to your attention the book "Caliban & the Witch:Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation" by Silvia Federici, comes this in depth review.

Alex Knight @ Toward Freedom wrote:
Silvia Federici’s brilliant Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation, tells the dark saga of the Witch Hunt that consumed Europe for more than 200 years. In uncovering this forgotten history, Federici exposes the origins of capitalism in the heightened oppression of workers, represented by Shakespeare’s character Caliban, and in the brutal subjugation of women. She also brings to light the enormous and colorful European peasant movements that fought against the injustices of their time, connecting their defeat to the imposition of a new patriarchal order that divided male from female workers. Today, as more and more people question the usefulness of a capitalist system that has thrown the world into crisis, Caliban and the Witch stands out as essential reading for unmasking the shocking violence and inequality that capitalism has relied upon from its very creation.
If this book is of interest, please read the article in its entirety. I did warn you - this book is heavy duty reading!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lakshmibai: Rani of Jhansi

From BBC News:
A previously undiscovered letter written by one of India's best known female rebels against British colonial rule has been found by academics.

The letter was written by Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi, shortly before the Indian mutiny - or first war of independence - in 1857.

It has been found in London in the archives of the British Library.

The Rani of Jhansi has often been called the "Joan of Arc" of the Indian independence struggle.

Academics say the discovery of the letter is hugely significant, because so little historical evidence from the Rani of Jhansi's lifetime exists.

In 1857 the Rani joined the rebellion against the British and personally led her troops in battle. At one point she was captured by EIC troops but subsequently made a daring escape from a fort.

"Whatever the truth, the story of a female leader battling for her kingdom against the might of the EIC fired the nationalistic imagination when the contested history of 1857 came to be written.

Books: Some Interesting Reading

More interesting reading ahead before the year is out:

  • Women of Flowers: Botanical Art in Australia from the 1830s to the 1960s by Leonie Norton
  • The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
  • Day After Night by Anita Diamant
  • A Woman of Seville by Sallie Muirden
  • The Lost Mother by Anne Summers
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Travelers Wife)
  • The Auschwitz Kommandant by Barbara Cherish (Review @ BBC News)
  • Secret Mussolini by Claretta Petacci (review @ the Telegraph)

Kathleen Martinez: One Step Closer to Cleopatra

From Dominican Today:
She said with Hawas’ support, she has found the largest mummy tomb uncovered so far and among the important sites found, she noted that of the Taposisirs Magna, or the temple of Osiris, and Isis, determined from the gathered evidence in Greek script, which she said reveal the link to Ptolemy.

Zahi Hawas is in the country to receive a decoration in the National Palace and a Doctorate degree from the Catholic University of Santo Domingo in the company of Dominican archaeologist Kathleen Martinez, who leads the team which searches for Cleopatra’s tomb.

Women in Climate Change

Women in Climate Change: A National Forum Series (VIC)

Where: Hilton on the Park, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
When: 3 December 2009
Booking: 02 9261 3566 /

The Women in Climate Change (WICC) series is part of the 1 Million Women campaign, which aims to empower a million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by collectively cutting 1 million tonnes of CO2 pollution in their daily lives, thus driving long-term behaviour change. WICC has been supported by the Australian Government through the Women's Leadership and Development Program. The inaugural WICC forums will explore the role of gender for Australia's climate crisis. In recognising both the need for behaviour change and the power of women in driving demand for solutions-related products, services and programs, these events will consider the issues through the lens of women in society, in the community and in business.

Mariane Pearl: Resilient

From Gulf News:
For someone who has symbolised courage and dignity in the face of personal tragedy, Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl, is currently busy producing a documentary on the lives of similar inspirational women.

Titled Resilient, it profiles women from around the globe who have battled war, abject poverty, sexual discrimination and tremendous odds not only to alter their own lives but also to transform the society in which they live.

The documentary traces the lives of women featured in Pearl's book In Search of Hope: The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl.

UN: Rise of Religious Extremism

From the Voice of America:
A senior United Nations official has voiced fears that rising religious extremism poses a new and major threat against women.

Noeleen Heyzer, the head of the U.N. economic commission for Asia and the Pacific, warns that religious extremism may be a more serious threat to women than other problems, such as warming temperatures.

"My greatest fear is that the rise of extremism - even more so than the financial crisis and the climate change agendas because what we thought were archaic and that we had actually been able to show that these are dangerous laws to have in our societies they are coming back; in terms of stoning of women and the public caning of women," she said.

She expressed that concern to 300 delegates from more than 60 countries in the Asia-Pacific region at the U.N.'s conference on the status of women in Bangkok this week. Delegates conferred on the progress the region has made in improving the status of women.

The economic crisis has taken a toll on jobs usually filled by women in Asia, especially making textiles and electronics. Heyzer says unemployment and volatile food and fuel prices together undermine the development gains made by women.

Australia: Women's Prisons

From The Age:
The Victorian Brumby Government is entirely ingenuine in its "concerns" about the women's prison. Its belated investigation into the prison has been prompted only by media embarrassment, because the Government has been aware of the many near-deaths, sex between senior officers and general disarray at the prison for months.

The fact that the Premier is asking for a full and detailed report into the incidents indicates that Minister Bob Cameron has himself been nodding off on the job, or completely failing in his duty of care to women prisoners.

It is a disgrace that media is again the prison whistleblower so as to force the hand of government because there is no independent public monitoring or transparency about Victorian prisons. Freedom of Information is also an oxymoron when it comes to prisons. Our community legal service has been in the courts for years to get access to a 2003 document produced by the Corrections Inspectorate — the body set up to monitor prisons — but not disclose what it finds. This ongoing dance of non-disclosure has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And from News Online:
ALLEGATIONS of a sexual relationship between prison officials and a large increase in drug overdoses have rocked Victoria's largest women's prison.

A department source aware of the incident said: "Who was supervising the prison while this was going on?''

In a statement, Corrections Minister Bob Cameron said: "These are serious issues and the Corrections Commissioner has assured me that every effort is being made by the prison authorities to resolve them.''

Israel: Women Arrested At Wall

From Reuters:
In a motion read by Ms Safina Kwekwe Tsungu, an Eala member from Kenya, the legislators further urged EAC member countries to ensure that women get comprehensive and accessible health services and programmes.

They expressed deep concerns on the plight of women in refugee camps and those internally displaced by armed conflicts in their home countries, saying they were chief targets of organised violence.

After a protest by Orthodox worshippers who spotted her, police escorted her to a police post and detained her for two hours before releasing her and ordering her to stay away from the holy site for 15 days, a spokeswoman said.

Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said Frankel was detained on suspicion of wearing a prayer shawl in violation of an Israeli high court ruling stating that women cannot wear religious garments at the site, in keeping with Orthodox rules. "Tensions flared, there was pushing and shouting and police intervened to prevent violence," Rosenfeld said. There were no other arrests and nobody was hurt, he added.

Frankel may face charges of performing a religious act that offends others, a statute that mandates a maximum six month jail term and a 10,000 shekel ($2,000) fine, said Anat Hoffman, director of a group that sponsors "Women of the Wall".

EALA: End Violence Against Women

From the Citizen:
The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) on Tuesday called for enhanced efforts to end violence against women.

The regional parliament also urged national assemblies or parliaments of the East African Community (EAC) partner states to reinforce existing legislations on violence against women so as to put the menace to an end.

Its members suggested the setting up of parliamentary bodies charged with overseeing implementation of violence against women legislations to make them very effective.

They urged the EAC to build strong institutional frameworks which would act as a plan of action against gender violence.

In a motion read by Ms Safina Kwekwe Tsungu, an Eala member from Kenya, the legislators further urged EAC member countries to ensure that women get comprehensive and accessible health services and programmes.

They expressed deep concerns on the plight of women in refugee camps and those internally displaced by armed conflicts in their home countries, saying they were chief targets of organised violence.

Uganda: Rights of Widows

From AllAfrica:
With northern Uganda at relative peace following years of war wreaked by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, activists are now worried about rising outbreaks of domestic violence.

"The situation is worrying and a majority of the cases are violence on women over land disputes," Sarah Apio, the Gulu legal officer of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Uganda, FIDA-Uganda, said recently.

She said most of the cases began with women being evicted from their husband's land after the husband had died, "Relatives want to strip these widows of everything despite them having children.

"Most of the widows have no income and they rely on agricultural activities for survival, yet they are being thrown off the land.

Paris: Pants are a No-No

From the The Telegraph:
The rule banning women from dressing like men – namely by wearing trousers - was first introduced in 1800 by Paris' police chief and has survived repeated attempts to repeal it.

The 1800 rule stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man "must present herself to Paris' main police station to obtain authorisation".

In 1892 it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted "as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse".

Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were "on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars".

In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city's police chief to bin the decree. His response was: "It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore."

As Evelyne Pisier, a law professor whose book Le Droit des Femmes (The Rights of Women) unearthed the curious decree points out, given that trousers are compulsory for Parisian policewoman, they are all breaking the law.

No to Women-Only Travel Co

From News Online:
A SINGLE-sex travel company for women who want to avoid boozy, bed-hopping mixed tour groups has been grounded.

A judge ruled yesterday that former tour guide Erin Maitland cannot advertise women-only holidays because it could breach the human rights of men.

The judge said Ms Maitland believed Travel Sisters would provide security for women, re-assure male partners who could not travel and be used by women who did not want to mix with men for cultural or religious reasons or because they were victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Her application was opposed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which said it would conflict with Victoria's Charter of Human Rights.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Travel Sisters

A little bit of a todo today about a new travel service in Australia that caters for women only - Travel Sisters.

Apparently this travel service which does cater predominantly for women and is tailored for women, has created a bit of a fuss with some who claim this service discriminates on the basis of gender.

Now, we have travel services that cater for families with children; we have services that cater for same sex couples; and same sex couple with families, why can we not have a service catering for women who wish to travel with other women??

Now men are quite welcome to join in the fun of manicures and pedicures; fashion and fashion parades; shopping; and gossip - so they are not excluded.

What do readers think. Should this service be banned on the basis of gender discrimination??

Sunday, November 15, 2009

China: Last of the Ladies of the Lotus Feet

From the Wall Street Journal:
In a courtyard of her crumbling house, Wu Liuying lifts her favorite pair of shoes from a dusty cardboard box. Hand-sewn from navy-blue cloth, embroidered with pink flowers, they are no bigger than a small child's slippers.

But they slip easily over the gnarled shrunken feet of the 90-year-old Ms. Wu. From the age of 5, her feet were bound tightly with cotton strips, warping them. The four smallest toes folded under the sole, which was squeezed into a high arch, creating a crevasse between the heel and the ball of the foot.

Hers was among the last of countless generations of Chinese women who bound their feet in search of an idealized form of beauty. Though banned in 1912 after the Qing dynasty fell and the Nationalists established a republic, the practice lingered, especially in remote areas of China. A 1928 census in rural Shanxi province found that 18% of women had bound feet; binding also hung on in Liuyi, in the frontier province of Yunnan.

Few of the elderly survivors care to try to explain to their grandchildren how they came to wear such dainty shoes, the agony they endured and what exactly was so sexy about a 10-centimeter foot that -- being hard to clean -- usually gave off a tangy smell and was prone to decay.

A symbol of China's past, foot-binding still exerts a pull on scholars, and collectors of "lotus" shoes scour the countryside for antique pairs. (The shoes were named for the lotus bulb that the foot was supposed to resemble after one form of binding; regional variations included the less-severe "cucumber" foot, which folded the four toes under but didn't force up the heel and taper the ankle.) The scholars and collectors both come mainly from outside China; the country's own official histories lack much interest in lotus feet.

Books and More Books

Yes, some more items of interest on the reading front:
  • On These Silken Sheets by Sabrina Darby
  • Alexander & Alestria by Shan Sa
  • The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon
  • The Bishops Man by Linden MacIntyre
  • All of Me by Anne Murray & Michael Posner

Japan: Queen Himiko

From the Telegraph:
Queen Himiko is a popular character in Japanese history. She was apparently able to wield great power in the Yamatai Kingdom from around the end of the second century. Legends handed down from the time describe her as "being skilled with magic".

Japanese revere her as a heroic Boadicea-type figure who unified the kingdom after years of fighting with rival tribes, before her death around 248AD.

The precise location of Yamatai has been one of the most bitterly disputed issues in Japanese archaeology, with some claiming the kingdom was in present-day Kyushu. The latest finding supports the claim of central Japan to the queen's lands.

From Asahi:
The site of a third-century building found in the Makimuku ruins here has reignited debate over the location of Yamataikoku, a mysterious and powerful country once ruled by Queen Himiko.

The discovery, announced by the Sakurai city board of education Tuesday, has strengthened the theory that the Kinai area was home to Yamataikoku, a country described in "Gishi Wajin-den," part of the Chinese book "Sanguo zhi" (History of the Three Kingdoms) written by Chen Shou in the late third century.

Proponents of the theory say the building, estimated at 19.2 meters by 12.4 meters with a floor space of 238 square meters, could have been a central facility in Yamataikoku.
Asahi News also has a number of images.

At Kyodo News - pictures

Peru: Priestess Discovered

From Thaindian News:
An archaeological excavation has uncovered the mummy of a young priestess, a member of the elite, with several precious items dating from the period of 300-450 AD in Cahuachi, Peru.

According to a report in Travel Culture History News, the mummy was found inside a series of rooms between the Great Pyramid and what is known as the Orange Pyramid.

The body appeared to have been painted and found with an additional vertebra added.

She also had slightly deformed forearms, apparently something self-inflicted by having the arms extended vertically for long periods of time - perhaps as a result of a praying.

She was wrapped in finely woven fabric that had patterns of orcas (killer whales) found in the southern pacific and contained obsidian arrow heads.

But the most impressive items are the jewels found in the bundle.

Of these one in particular stands out; a spectacular golden nose ring bathed in silver, which was found on her nose when uncovered.

Also found were necklaces and bracelets of precious spondylus shells among other precious items.

SA: Women Only Mosque

From Times Live (South Africa):
The Sandton Muslim Jamaat Mosque for women is the first of its kind in the country. Women worshippers now have a place to offer prayer adjacent to the men's mosque.

Rashid Mayet said they decided to build the mosque because of their large worship base.

He said people travelled from as far afield as Durban and Cape Town to attend the mosque.

"The ladies' facility will allow them to pray while their husbands and male family members are attending prayers at their mosque," said Mayet.

Construction started in January. The interior decor and landscaping was recently completed.

The building cost about R800000 and was funded with public and members' donations. Materials for the building were sourced locally.

The mosque accommodates about 30 women in the prayer room and includes a facility for babies.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cambodia: Women and the Girl-Child

Report from SOS Childrens Villages, Canada:
Cambodia’s biggest challenge at the moment is improving the status of young girls and women.

On the most basic level, this includes reducing the number of women who die in child birth—the maternal mortality rate.

While the country has gone to great lengths to reduce its child mortality rate (the number of children who die before their fifth birthdays) in addition to its infant mortality rate (the number of children who die before their first birthdays), it has failed to make substantial improvements to the maternal mortality rate (MMR).

Today, for every 100 000 births, 460 women die in child birth. The same figure for Canada amounts to only 7 deaths per 100 000. The goal for 2015, according to the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals, is to more than halve this number, bringing it down to less than 150 per 100 000. The main causes of death are massive blood loss and complications caused by high blood pressure. As such, access to skilled birth attendants and adequate medical care (both ante- and neonatal) is essential to improve the health of women of child-bearing age.

Reducing the MMR is also an important of means of reducing the number of children without parental care—orphans. Children without mothers are more likely to be neglected than children with both a mother and a father. Moreover, newborns—to be as healthy as possible and sustain the greatest chances of survival—depend on the nutrients obtained in breast-milk. The full complement of vitamins and minerals contained therein prevent malnutrition, stunting, and other early childhood development impairments. All in all, breast-milk is an important means of continuing the reduction of child and infant mortality rates.

As for girls, less than 15% continue their studies into secondary school and scarcely a half are enrolled in primary school. As such, their potential to gain higher-paying employment and to be empowered by the knowledge, confidence and access to information education brings is diminished. One Cambodian newspaper insists that traditional gender roles represent one of the greatest impediments to educating girls.

These problems of illiteracy and a lack of education can spill over into the maternal mortality crisis. For, if women don’t have access to medical care, they won’t learn the information that will protect them and their babies—including information related to sexual health, nutrition, healthy living, and environmental health.

However, one of the greatest dangers to girls and women in Cambodia and other parts of the southern and eastern Asian regions is human trafficking for the sex industry and for domestic labour, where they encounter some of the most brutal and violent forms of abuse, many of which violate the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

UK: Female Red Arrow

From BBC News:
Twenty years since women were first allowed to become pilots in the RAF, the Red Arrows have unveiled their first female aviator.

By their own admission, the inclusion of 31-year-old Flt Lt Kirsty Moore is an "historic" occasion for the renowned Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

Flt Lt Moore will fly as "Red 3" for three seasons from next May.

It's the culmination of an ambition that started as a school girl watching her father as an RAF navigator.

Flt Lt Moore joined the RAF in 1998, becoming a Hawk instructor and then Tornado pilot. She is not the first woman to apply for the Red Arrows, but she was the first to be shortlisted and then selected.

Women flew in the Air Transport Auxillery in the Second World War with Jean Bird later being awarded her RAF wings.

But it was not until 1989 that women could qualify as RAF pilots - Flt Lt Julie Gibson led the way followed in 1993 by Flt Lt Jo Salter becoming the first RAF fast-jet pilot.

Women of Vision

From Jewish Exponent:
A total of 55 members of Women of Vision -- Federation's Jewish Women's Foundation -- and Women's Philanthropy donors took part in the trip. They lobbied lawmakers and met with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all while forging bonds with each other during this one-day mission.

The group traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for three congressional bills that directly impact the lives of women: The Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, which would ensure that patients have adequate medical support after breast-cancer surgery; the EARLY Act, which would develop a nationwide public-education campaign to increase breast-cancer awareness and prevention, as well as provide support for young women diagnosed with the disease; and the CLASS Act, which would create a voluntary long-term-disability insurance program for adults.
From the Fiji Daily Post News:
His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has encouraged the women of Macuata to utilise their talents in order to upgrade their economical status and venture into small businesses.

In visiting the Seventh Day Adventist Women’s Association, ‘Namara Dorcas,’ in Labasa, His Excellency Ratu Nailatikau was impressed with their sewing and art and craft creation that has assisted many women in finding a source of income.

He reiterated Government’s continuous emphasis on the need for people to move away from reliance on government and make use of their skills and the self starting business programmes that Government has implemented and has continued to encourage in the various Ministries of Education, Youth and Employment, Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries.

The Commissioner Northern Colonel Inia Seruiratu told the Namara Dorcas that plans are in the pipeline for FTIB to provide a booth to display the arts and craft creation of women in the Macuata Province in future Tourism Business shows.

His Excellency the President reiterated the many ways of finding funds to support small businesses which are available in the market but people must first show the initiative by taking the first step forward before seeking help.

The Fate of African Women & Children

From Mmegi Online:
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) last week published a report on core labour standards in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

"According to the USDoS Trafficking Report 2008, one local non-governmental organisation (NGO) received reports from Batswana women that they were forced to provide sexual services to tourists at some safari lodges.

NGOs report that Botswana is a transit country for the trafficking of eastern African women and children to South Africa. Botswana is a destination for Zimbabwean women who are employed as domestic workers.

The report further states that even though the Penal Code of Botswana prohibits involvement of girls or women in production of prostitution and pornography, child prostitution has been reported particularly at truck stops and transit points in the large towns. However, the law does not protect boys from the same crimes.

It highlights that child labour exists in Botswana as boys are reported to manage cattle herds in isolated areas, sometimes staying without proper food and shelter for days, "whereas girls are largely involved in domestic labour, usually taking care of other children".

Nigeria: Girls Power Initiative

From AllAfrica:
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Girls Power Initiative (GPI), has called on the National Assembly to enact a law on violence against women.

The NGO also said the national assembly should stop debate on the Indecent Dressing Bill sponsored by Senator Eme Ekaette, saying the passage of the bill will increase violence against women.

The Co-ordinator of Calabar Centre of GPI, Professor Bene Madunagu, addressing the press in Calabar in reaction to the murder of Miss Grace Ushang in Maiduguri, Borno State while participating in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme said all Nigerians should condemn the death of the corps member.

Madunagu also expressed regret that the Director-General of the NYSC rather than condemn the rape and violence that led to the death of Ushang was blaming the late Corps member for not taking security precautions.

She said that at the public hearing on the Bill, it became obvious that the Bill proposes to "grant intolerably dangerous powers of arrest and invasion of the most intimate privacies of the woman's body imaginable to both police officers and ordinary citizens to undertake vigilante action against women they mere perceive to be indecently dressed".

According to Madunagu, "The compounded crimes that killed Grace Ushang painfully return our attention to the pervasiveness of violence against women in Nigeria and the growing resort to vigilante action to police vague notions of feminine propriety and decency".

Saudi Arabia: Women Lawyers

From Arab News:
Justice Minister Muhammad Al-Eisa said on Thursday the Kingdom’s efforts to revamp the judicial system were well under way and that women would eventually be allowed to practice as lawyers representing women clients.

Speaking about women lawyers, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Guwair, director of the Department of Lawyers at the Saudi Ministry of Justice, said they would soon be allowed to represent women clients.

“The women will be issued a restrictive form of license that will give them access to certain areas of the courts and in cases in which they are representing women clients only,” he said.

Women on Their Way

From CNN Money:
Women on Their Way is an online resource for business and leisure travelers to find everything they need to plan and book their next trip. The website includes expert advice on destinations, hotels, timeshare resorts and vacation rentals, plus special deals and packages.

Women on Their Way is the hospitality industry's longest-running branded program entirely dedicated to female travelers. Since the program's launch in 1995, Wyndham has supported women travelers as they've emerged from a niche market to a formidable force, listening and responding to women's feedback, which has resulted in a better hotel experience for all travelers, including the addition of various amenities to hotel rooms such as coffee makers, full-length mirrors and healthier room service menus.

While once a single hotel chain program, Wyndham Worldwide expanded the program across all brands and businesses offering over 70,000 hotels, vacation rentals and resorts in 100 countries.

Gaming Widows

From the Telegraph:
Something momentous took place in The World of Men this week, something that those living in The World of Women – that is, largely, The Real World – may yet be unaware of. At midnight on Monday, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 went on sale. Should you be a reader of the female persuasion your reaction is likely to be mystification followed by the dawning realisation that this accounts for your partner’s having since gone AWOL.

The gaming widow has become a fixture of contemporary culture in the way that the pub or football widow was wont to be, except that the extent of her abandonment is considerably more profound. He may be with you in (increasingly pallid and flabby) body, but his soul is elsewhere.

Aboriginal Women & Domestic Violence

From NT News:
A DARWIN magistrate has said Aboriginal victims of domestic violence have faces like "squashed tomatoes".

Alasdair McGregor was sentencing a man who kicked his girlfriend in the face while they were both in the back of a police paddy wagon.

He said many Aboriginal women bore the scars of violence.

"For a large part of the community, while the males may have more symmetrical faces, so many of the women have faces more or less like a squashed tomato," he said.

"This is not hereditary, this is not evolution. This is repeated thumpings, punchings, bashings, kickings, hitting with rocks, hitting with sticks."

Mr McGregor said he was "quite certain" the violence came from white men as well as Aboriginal men.

"And some of these women are so ugly that one has to wonder what sort of a self esteem that woman could have," he said.

"Yet they persevere. Some stick with their men."

Mr McGregor sentenced Craig Clayton to spend four months in jail before he goes to an alcohol rehabilitation centre over the September assault.

Clayton pleaded guilty to the charge, and his lawyer Glen Dooley asked that he go straight to the Katherine rehab centre.

But Mr McGregor said the community needed to see Clayton spend some actual time in prison.

Two days earlier, the magistrate told a court that victims were "bit players" in court proceedings, before moving a court case away from the alleged victim to Alice Springs where the defendant lives.

Breast Cancer Breakthrough

From Fox News:
A pioneering Australian surgery may make it possible for breast cancer patients to "regrow" their breasts.

Professor Wayne Morrison’s team at the Bernard O’Brien Institute in Melbourne will stage a trial that offers hope to more the thousands of women who lose their breasts to cancer each year.

Up until now, mastectomy patients have had the option of either getting breast implants, or forgoing replacement altogether.

This new breakthrough could also completely revolutionize the cosmetic surgery industry by allowing women to grow bigger natural breasts.

For the past two years, Morrison has successfully "grown" breasts on pigs by inducing the animals’ own fat cells to reproduce into molded chambers implanted beneath the skin on their chests.

The chambers are inserted under the skin and each is "sown" with a chunk of fat about the size of two adult fingers, which has been taken from the pig’s body.

A blood vessel is looped through the fat, feeding it and allowing it to recruit more fat cells until it fills out the chamber. After 6-8 months, the chambers are removed leaving perfectly formed, functioning breasts, complete with their own blood supply.

If the human trials follow the pigs’ success, the new procedure will result in breasts that look and feel perfectly natural — because they are perfectly natural.

Bernard O’Brien Institute CEO Dr. Phillip Marzella said the process could take longer in women because, unlike animals, humans stop growing at adolescence.

Morrison said the breast replacement technique could be the tip of the iceberg. "If it is satisfactory we could use this method to treat any type of contour defect whether it is breast, a congenital deformity or trauma such as where someone has suddenly lost chunks of themself," Morrison said.