Two positive things before getting on to the yucky stuff:
Gardasil may be an effective HPV vaccine for men as well as women. This article made me smile, remembering a conversation I'd had with Dianne Fuller, a Salt Lake SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse, and one of my personal heroes. She occasionally does clinical hours at Planned Parenthood and I swear, every time I am around her, I turn into this starstruck teenager, stammering and stuttering awkwardly while trying to follow everything she does as closely as possible. ANYWAY, so we were having a discussion about Gardasil a while back and all the protests that parents have made, arguing that giving teens this vaccine will push them into having sex early. Dianne harumphed about how ridiculous it was and then snapped, "and you can BET if I had a son, I'd be shooting him up with Gardasil just the same as I would any girl. It never hurts to be cautious." Looks like her genius prevails again. :)
The International Criminal Court may be pressing charges against Omar al Bashir (Sudan's "president") for using mass rape as a weapon of genocide. If it passes, it will be the first time in history that rape as a weapon of genocide has been charged against anyone. As far as Darfur goes, there are complications with the ICC pressing charges against Bashir and everyone is not all on board with it, but as far as this particular charge goes, I think if it happens, it will truly be a victory for rape victims worldwide. Acknowledgement that rape is a weapon of genocide will help bring justice to the millions of women (and men and children) who have been victims of rape at the hands of oppressors. (The horrific circumstances in the Congo happening right now come to my mind.) It would be a small but significant victory if Bashir is prosecuted for rape.
Other than that though, it's been a bad week for women all around.
- Four Afghani girls were sprayed in the faces with battery acid on their way to school. The Taliban doesn't approve of women receiving an education and similar attacks like this have been reported 236 times this past year. All four of the girls were hospitalized and two of them are permanently blinded.
- A 13-year old Somali rape victim was stoned to death, while thousands of people watched and cheered.
- Duana Johnson, a trans woman, was shot and killed in an execution-style murder on the corner of her block. If you haven't heard of her before, she is the woman who was the victim of filmed police brutality after being arrested back in February. She was in the process of pressing charges against the Memphis police when she was killed.
We can support government officials who make international women's rights a priority. We can give money and time to organizations here and abroad that work with sexual violence and women's reproductive health. We can look at our own prejudices and biases regarding sex and sexuality and transgender people and make sure that these issues are something that we've worked through, rather than things we don't face until they bite us. We can teach our children to look at the world honestly and examine their prejudice and biases. We can talk about these things until people who would not normally listen, start listening. It's nothing as direct as I'd like- I'd like to rescue that poor little girl all alone in that stadium of so many angry voices, I'd like to offer protection to each brave girl and woman who keeps on going to school despite the risks, I'd like to warn Duana Johnson ahead of that gunshot. But I can't. I've got one life to live and it isn't in Somalia or Memphis or Afghanistan. It's here. So I do what I can here and pray it's enough.