WORLD VOICE: Egyptian Lawmaker Proposes Virginity Tests Before College Admission

WORLD VOICE: Egyptian Lawmaker Proposes Virginity Tests Before College Admission

Photo Credit: Sky2105 Sara Yap

Photo Credit: Sky2105 Sara Yap

Education and access to having one has always been a goal families strive for, but in Egypt, that access to education for women may be in jeopardy. Young adults who aim to continue their education in college are usually filled with excitement, but a new proposed law may change the future of many, especially young women.

In a recent article, a new law is being proposed in Egypt, which would mandate every young woman to be subjected to a virginity test before being allowed to attend a university. An MP lawmaker, Elhamy Agina, has tried to have this passed as a law to curtail “Urfi marriages”. Also known as “customary marriages”, they are perceived as secret marriages since they are performed by a cleric and only require two witnesses. In addition, these unions are not officially registered and are contrary to their culture of having both parents’ blessings.

Agina believes that prior to being admitted to any university, young Egyptian women should be subjected to a virginity test to ensure that they are indeed a “Miss”, which would indicate that they are still virgins. Once the test has concluded that the young woman is still a virgin, then and only then would she be given a document stating that she has passed and can be admitted to that specific university.

According to Egyptian culture, premarital sex is forbidden and while there are young couples who go through Urfi marriages, it’s a way of eliminating wedding costs and unwanted pressure from their families. For conservative clerics and officials like Agina, Urfi marriages are seen as a way to skirt around pre-marital sex.

I am not familiar with Egyptian culture, but I don’t think I’m far off in perceiving this proposed law as a violation of women’s rights. Why should anyone, let alone a government official have the right to control a woman’s body? What does a woman’s virginity have anything to do with one’s right to an education? How is withholding a woman’s education because she may not be a virgin not considered as a human rights violation?

As someone whose family and culture have  always placed education as a high priority, I find it scary and ludicrous how the views of one man can alter a woman’s scholastic future. Even worse, the views he espouses can hurt not only female students but every woman he feels should be controlled.

Since the publication of the article, Agina has come under fire and has changed his tune somewhat, citing that the virginity tests were a “suggestion”, not a “demand”. Changing the term from a “demand” to a “suggestion” does not diminish the intent of subjugating women to further one lawmaker’s desire for control.

Will this proposed law gain enough support to be passed? I don’t know the answer, but I sincerely hope not. As a mother of a young woman who, herself, is almost a college student, it is my hope that Egyptian women stand up against a law that will not only control their future, but those of generations to come.

To read the original article, click below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/01/egypt-lawmaker-says-women-should-prove-they-are-virgins-to-go-to-college/

This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Tes Silverman.

 

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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World Voice: The Current Status of #ChibokGirls #BringBackOurGirls

World Voice: The Current Status of #ChibokGirls #BringBackOurGirls

6th September 2016 is the day that  President Buhari of Nigeria decided to get his dictator skin back on by sending police to stop #BringBackOurGirls  peaceful procession. This same President who during the elections campaigns had said, “so before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigors of democratic elections for the fourth time”.
The most annoying part of it is that sending police against #BringBackOurGirls movement instead of rescuing #ChibokGirls was the failing script left by the former administration of President Jonathan and to think that President Muhammadu Buhari would adopt that strategy is simply unbelievable.
#ChibokGirls were abducted from their school where they were writing their final exams on the 14th of April 2014. On the 23rd of April the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls started and 30th of April 2014 the physical demands for the rescue of #ChibokGirls started. Instead of the then government to respect the rights of citizens to make demands decided to attack and malign the #BringBackOurGirls movement. We continued with our demands undeterred knowing fully well that the rescue of #ChibokGirls is the responsibility of government and it’s the right of #ChibokGirls as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We continued with demands for our #ChibokGirls inspite of threats to our lives.
On May 29th exactly 410 days after abduction of #ChibokGirls a new government was sworn in after the incumbent government was defeated in the elections.
#BringBackOurGirls movement is administration neutral and does not demand rescue of #ChibokGirls from the President or administration but from the Nigerian government irrespective of who is President. We continued with our demands for #ChibokGirls still in captivity.
We have continued to demand for rescue of our #ChibokGirls who unfortunately sadly and painfully are approaching 900 days in captivity.
For the government of the day to begin to attack on our movement even to the extent of using armed police against us is quite sad.
The President needs to understand that it’s not bullets that brought him to power but ballots and the people that cast those ballots are the bosses. Seeing police coming out to stop us as we march peacefully to make demands for our #ChibokGirls was pathetically funny. Couldn’t they at least learn from the failing script left by former Commissioner of Police Mbu who tried to ban us from marching? Mbu tried stopping us where is Mbu today? Former President Jonathan  government that hired thugs to stop us how successful were they? That President Muhammadu Buhari  decided to go that route is sad day for democracy.

Hundreds of police men and women were sent out to stop us. One of the officers said to us that there was directive to stops us from moving from the Unity Fountain a place were we meet daily for Sit Out to make demands for our #ChibokGirls  and that we should stay at Unity Fountain. When the Officer was asked directive “from whom” he refused to say. Police cannot infringe on our constitutional rights to peaceful protest. We cannot ask police for permission to protest. That would be disastrous. What the law asks is that the Police be given 48 hours notice of any planned peaceful protest and that we always comply with. The police we have in Nigeria unfortunately has allegiance to the President and ruling party rather than to Nigeria and Nigerians.

We embarked on our march and the only weapons we had were pictures of our #ChibokGirls. We surged on and when we got to where we were normally stopped when going to villa we met hirelings that carried Anti BBOG placards. I do hope they get their proper dues with all this talk of recession in Nigeria. Police that said it had banned all form of protest obviously forgot to add except when they have Presidential approval. The police looked sheepish when we asked them what explanation do they have for those who were there protesting?

We had no business with anyone coming to protest for or against anything. It’s a democracy and all are free to come and protest. We went directly to the business that brought us to the Presidential villa which was to paste the pictures of our #ChibokGirls on the wall of the entrance to villa. We went straight to work and did what took us there. When one comes with well coordinated thought out strategic plan one gets to work and doesn’t have time for distraction.

This I hope President Buhari would please take note of.

We did what we set out to do because we know our fundamental human rights.

I have a note for President Buhari:

The same way you kept coming back again and again asking for votes is the same way we would keep going again and again to demand #BringBackOurGirls and we would not stop Not Until Our Girls Are Back And Alive #NotWithoutOurDaughters.

The easiest way to get us to stop demanding is by rescue of our #Chibokgirls

#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE

WORLD VOICE: Raising White Children When #BlackLivesMatter

WORLD VOICE: Raising White Children When #BlackLivesMatter

The beginning, middle, and end of all conversations about race in my family of origin were that racism was bad and skin color didn’t matter. There’s a story my mother loved to tell: She was reading a children’s book to one of my brothers that asked the question, “Do you know anybody who has a skin color that is different from your own?” and my brother confidently replied that he did not, much to the amazement of my mother. One of her closest friends, a woman my brother saw nearly every day, was black. When my mother pointed this out he said she was silly, but the next day when mom’s friend came over, my brother grabbed her arm, stared at it, and then announced very seriously, “You’re black!”. This story was always told as a punctuation to an argument or conversation about how we’re all born colorblind.

Until I was in my 20s, I believed that this story proved, not only that we’re born colorblind, but that my family and I were not racist. After all, we didn’t even see color! And my mom’s best friend was black! Of course, now I know that a young white male child not seeing color only proves the existence of white privilege. If he’d been walking around this world in black skin, he wouldn’t have the luxury of not noticing skin color as his skin color would have had a profound effect on his experience of the world. (Also, the idea that children do not see color has been completely debunked.)

We do a great disservice to our children when we explain away racism as something that is simply “bad”.  If racism is bad, then people who are racists are bad people, so if you’re a good person, then you can’t be racist. We cannot frame racism as an individual choice rather than a systemic reality. Racism – specifically white supremacy – is the water in which we all swim.

In the wake of yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man here in the United States, I find myself discussing race a lot with my two children.

They are 5 and 2, and the challenge of having these uncomfortable and complex conversations-and answering the myriad of questions that come from them- make me understand why so many white parents stick to explanations that sound an awful lot like the ones I got.

As white folks, we like for things to be tidy. We like for things to be easy.  We have benefitted a long time from binary thought. Wading into the discomfort of naming and facing systemic racist oppression feels hard. There is a term for that: “White Fragility”.

I’ve seen a lot of white parents posting on social media, asking how to discuss racism with their children. I’m not an expert, but I can share what I tell my children.

  1. We are white, which means we have benefited from many unearned and undeserved advantages.
  2. Our experience of the world is greatly influenced by the fact that all of our systems are set up to uphold white supremacy. Our worldview is shaped by our experience of being white. We do not and cannot know what it is to be a person of color.
  3. Since we do not and cannot know the experience of being a person of color, we must listen, pay attention, and believe. We cannot make excuses or sweep things under the rug of good intentions.
  4. We are witnessing with our own eyes and, thanks to the internet and social media, hearing more and more stories that confirm what people of color have been expressing about their experience of the world.
  5. Black lives are in danger (as they have always been). Nobody is questioning or wondering if white lives matter. There does, however, seem to be some disagreement about whether or not black lives matter. So, we need to say, loud and clear, that yes, #blacklivesmatter.
  6. When #blacklivesmatter, (and brown lives, and queer lives, and the lives of all folks who are on the margins due to systemic oppression) then, and only then, will all lives matter.
  7. It is the job of white folks, not people of color, to end white supremacy. It is the job of white folks to educate themselves, and not the job of people of color to educate us.
  8. We are all complicit in racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. No amount of good intentions or meaning well will change that. There are a lot of good people who do not realize, or do not want to believe that they are racist. But does a fish know it’s in water? Or is water all it knows, so it can’t even comprehend or imagine any other reality? Racism is the water in which we all swim. We have to choose to see the water. #blacklives depend on it.
This is an original post by Ms. V., in the USA.
Picture Credit: Fibonacci Blue

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World_VoiceMy name is Aisha Yesufu and I happen to be a human being with the reproductive organs of a female so I am called a woman. When I demand for equality I am not demanding to change my womanhood for manhood. That would be an insult to the ME that I am. When I demand equality I am merely asking to be treated equally. When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to take over a man’s job I am merely saying I want to have my own job and not handout. When I demand for equality I want to be looked at as a human being with all her 5 senses and an accompanying brain and not as a toy to be toyed with.

When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to beat up a man I am just saying I should not be seen as one to be beaten with impunity. When I say I want equality I am not saying I want to take over the pay of a man I am just saying I deserve fair pay based on what I bring to the table. When I demand for equality I am not saying the Boy-Child shouldn’t be sent to school I am just saying that the Girl-Child has a place in the classroom. When I demand for equality I am not saying a Boy-Child born should be frowned at I am just saying the Girl-Child born should be heralded with joy.

When I demand for equality I am not saying the wife should be above the husband I am just saying the wife should have a place in the partnership. When I demand for equality I am not saying Men have to do the cooking I am just saying whoever wants to should be allowed to. When I demand for equality I not saying men should become Mijin Hajiya (Men controlled by women). I am just saying women should be matar Alhaji(a wife) with rights. When I demand for equality I am not saying men should be disinherited I am just saying women have a right to inherit and be inherited from. When I demand for equality I am not saying I am better than you. I am just saying you should not be afraid of who I am.

At the end of the day my demand for equality does not take anything away from you. It only ensures I get what is truly mine so why all the bad belle(hatred)?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.

World Voice: Play Like A Girl

World Voice: Play Like A Girl

Canadian_PM_Justin_TrudeauHockey is Canada’s national winter sport, with most Canadians huddled around the television on Saturday nights to cheer on their favourite teams being featured on “Hockey Night in Canada”. Boys love hockey. Girls love hockey. And, they love it equally. But the treatment of both genders in the world of hockey is very different.
I live in a country where gender equality is of such importance.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was applauded for electing equal numbers of men and women to Cabinet during his 2015 election. When asked why this was important, he simply said “Because this is 2015”.

So true.
But gender equality in hockey does not always exist in Canada. Not even in 2016. And this is incredibly frustrating for the many girls and women who live and breathe the sport throughout the year. I have three daughters, and two play hockey. I have overheard men in our community, as I was rushing into an arena on a cold winter morning with one of my daughters, making comments about how it is a waste for girls’ hockey teams to be given ice time, as it was taking away from the boys. Our highest ranking women’s Canadian hockey teams never get the media coverage they deserve. Most Canadians don’t even know these female leagues exist, despite the incredible talent and sportsmanship these young women exhibit game after game.
This inequality is trickling through to younger generations as well. My one daughter plays on a co-ed hockey team. At only 10 years of age, she is already having to hear the boys on the bench tell each other NOT to pass to her because she is a girl.

One of our greatest Canadian hockey players, Hayley Wickenheiser, has spoken about the challenges girls face in sport. When people would say to her, “Girls don’t play hockey; girls don’t skate”, she would say – watch this!

Staying true to her word, Hayley has won multiple Olympic medals for hockey. Decades later, however, little girls who look up to Wickenheiser are still having to defend their place in Canadian hockey.
This is 2016, so when someone says you “play like a girl” it should be taken as a compliment. After all, this is Canada, a nation that prides itself on equality.

This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.

Photo credit to the author

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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World Voice: #TryBeatingMeLightly #WorldMoms Speaking Against the Pakistan Bill

World Voice: #TryBeatingMeLightly #WorldMoms Speaking Against the Pakistan Bill

Violence against women in many countries occurs at an alarmingly high rate, but a new bill being proposed by a Pakistani Islamic council may just push the envelope further.

According to the proposed bill by Mohammad Khan Sheerani, the leader of this council, men will be allowed to “lightly beat” their wives with a small stick if they believe it to be necessary. Some of the criteria this council has listed as being necessary for disciplinary purposes are: not wearing a hijab, talking with strangers or men, speaking too loud or giving money to others without the husband’s permission. In addition to these, the proposed bill would allow husbands to “lightly beat” their wives if they refused to have sex, not bathe after intercourse or their menstrual period, and especially if they took birth control without their husband’s permission.

I can understand being reprimanded if one’s wife was not wearing a hijab, but to be physically punished for religious reasons or worse, for a woman’s perceived negligence of hygiene or opting for birth control is unbelievably demeaning and wrong. 

How is it okay for women to participate in politics, but be in danger of punishment for not obeying their husband’s desires?

If this bill were to pass, it would give way to other laws that are just as absurd and endanger women further.

As a woman and wife whose marriage stems from a partnership of equals, it is unbelievable to me that this law is even being proposed in this day and age. I understand that as someone who has grown up in the western culture, there are numerous laws in other countries that may not make sense to me, but if a law is used to subjugate women for the underlying purpose of harming them physically, emotionally and mentally, then it should not be passed.

I, myself, was born in the Philippines where patriarchy is dominant in a family setting. While I grew up in a family dynamic where the Father was the prominent figure in my nuclear and extended families, I was raised to believe that being married doesn’t diminish my rights as a person or self-worth..

Why must women continue to endure suffering at the mercy of patriarchal ideologies that are archaic and demeaning?

How is this proposed law deemed acceptable by a religious council when it calls for punishing women for saying “no” to their husbands, making it difficult for them to stay safe in their marriage?

Maybe I’m too much of a Western woman who believes that marriages are composed of men and women who value each other’s opinions and thrive from it, as opposed to beating one’s wife for not obeying what they believe as Islamic laws. As I sit here in disbelief and anger, I do hope that the women of Pakistan muster the courage to fight and make sure this proposed law doesn’t get passed.

To read the original article, click HERE:

What do you think of this bill? Please share your views about it in the comments section.

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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