Following the murders of Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine on the 9th and 11 of July 2013, sex workers, their friends, families, and allies are coming together to demand an end to stigma, criminalisation, violence and murders. In the week since the two tragedies occurred, the feelings of anger, grief, sadness and injustice – for the loss of Dora and Jasmine, but also for the senseless and systemic murders and violence against sex workers worldwide – have brought together people in 36 cities from four continents who agreed to organise demos, vigils, and protests in front of Turkish and Swedish embassies or other symbolic places.

Petite Jasmine was a vocal activist who lost custody of her children because of her profession. During a custody visit, her husband killed her.

Dora Özer was a transgender sex worker in Turkey, where only women are allowed to be prostitutes.

Check out #stigmakills on Twitter for ongoing reactions throughout the day.

Federal Judges Strikes Age Restrictions for Plan B Over the Counter

Judge Korman stated in his opinion that the FDA’s refusal to lift restrictions was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.” “More than 12 years have passed since the citizen petition was filed and 8 years since this lawsuit commenced,” the judge wrote. “The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition. Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster.”

Would I be correct in assuming that children of any age can go into a store and buy, say, Ibuprofen over the counter? If so, this seems like a big "duh".

Opponents of Marriage Equality Want to Control Straight People

Audrey Bilger at the Ms. blog has an interesting take on yesterday's argument before the Supreme Court in support of Proposition 8:

When opponents of marriage equality talk about "traditional" marriage, they want to roll back the clock on equality between men and women in marriage–hence the fear of "genderless" marriage and their insistence that marriage is a "gendered institution" even though the state does not currently force married couples to play traditional gender roles. If we don't guard against such archaic views of marriage, the state might start requiring pregnant women to marry, forcing men to marry women who can prove paternity and possibly even counting the number of allowed children within marriages.

Tunisian Woman Sent to a Psychiatric Hospital for Participating in Femen

She posted topless pictures of herself to the Femen Tunisia Facebook page she created, so her parents took her to a psychiatric hospital. That may not be the worst thing that happens to her:

The head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Tunisia, Almi Adel, a Salafi Islamic preacher, has called for Amina to be "stoned to death" for posting the images. He warned that Amina's action could cause "epidemics and disasters" and "could be contagious and give ideas to other women." Media reports say Tunisian secular law would punish her with up to two years in prison.

I tend to be a little skeptical of Femen because their protests verge on grandstanding and their agenda seems confused or unfocused. Lately, though, I'm starting to wonder if it might be just the right kind of protest for the parts of the world in which the group is most active.

“You Can’t Just Come Over Here and Hire a Contractor”

Rachel Rose Hartman, White House Correspondent for Yahoo News, describes the hurdles of attempting to breastfeed at the White House. While The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that all businesses with more than 50 employees provide dedicated lactation rooms, this poses a conundrum when employees are stationed at non-company-owned facilities.

I tried to resist the bathroom-as-lactation-room as long as I could that first day. But when I couldn’t stand it anymore (read: pain from engorgement, leaking and discomfort) I gave in.

I checked out my options. Neither of the two single-stall restrooms had a chair or a place to sit other than a lid-less toilet seat, which was the first disappointment. There was no countertop where I could set up my equipment. I had no idea how I would make this work.

But I gave it a shot.

Do you ever think of this as a frivolous problem? Read Hartman’s article.

"He Was the First One to Lower His Head."

Trigger Warning for Rape, Murder, and Torture

Great profile of Nusreta Siva, a Bosnian concentration camp survivor who used her experience—and years of collecting and transcribing first-hand accounts of other rape victims—to persuade the international war crimes tribunal to classify rape as a war crime.

A young judge, Nusreta Sivac was one of 37 women raped by guards at a concentration camp in Bosnia. They never discussed the nightly traumas — their pained glances were enough to communicate their suffering. She also witnessed murder and torture by Bosnian Serb guards — and was forced to clean blood from walls and floors of the interrogation room.

She told herself to memorize the names and faces of the tormentors so that one day she might bring them to justice.

Why Is the U.S. Media Ignoring Rape in Syria?

Similarly, Soraya Chemaly piles on the evidence that, despite much attention being given to events in Syria of late, most of the coverage ignores the pervasive weaponization of rape or talks about it in sanitized terms.

Last Monday, for example, the Washington Post ran a lengthy story titled “In grim milestone, UN says number of Syrian refugees tops 1 million.” Like others pivoting around realization of the proportions of the crisis, the article was lengthy and detailed in its discussion of the causes, consequences and destabilizing regional effect caused by the massive out-flux of fleeing Syrians into neighboring states. The content and tone of the piece was similar to a July 2012 Congressional Research Service assessment summary to Congress, “Armed Conflict In Syria: US and International Responses.” It reviewed the Syrian state’s collapse and made recommendations for possible steps the U.S. should take. The report mentioned the importance of Syrian leaders’ “kinship ties” and fighters’ and community “morale” in the conduct and passage of ongoing conflict. However, it did not mention the fact that rape and sexualized violence, which at that time were already evident in humanitarian relief reports, are unique in the way they redefine “weapon” and “conflict,” affect kinship ties, communities and morale, and by extension, state security and disintegration.

The media is all about money. People publish what they think will get them more readers. I’m not saying this is right, but it is true. I suspect The Washington Post and others know that people don’t actually want to hear how widespread and hateful rape has become in Syria. And that statement—if true—is far more unsettling to think about than the errors of omission being committed by The Press.

UK Borders Agency Plays the "False Accusation" Card to Keep Rape Victims Out of Britain

Fiona Bawdon at The Guardian wants to know why the immigration authority perpetuates a “culture of disbelief” toward women seeking asylum in the United Kingdom because of sexual assault in their home countries:

[Activist organization Asylum Aid] says asylum seekers are still subject to the kind of questioning that would provoke outrage if it were police treating rape complainants in this way. In one case a male UKBA official asked a trafficked woman if she enjoyed working as a prostitute; another victim was asked if she had tried to stop a man raping her; a case worker had never heard of “female circumcision”. There were examples of women being interviewed for up to five hours without a break.

Dr Russell Hargrave, head of public affairs at Asylum Aid, says reforms introduced by police and criminal courts are not being applied to those going through the asylum process.

Rape culture is systemic and takes time to dismantle, but this is ridiculous. It’s hard not to imagine a racist component to this problem, as well—that non-white women may be seen as less trustworthy and more sexualized, and therefore less capable of being raped. (We all know only completely virginal women can be raped.)

Occidental College Betrays Own Sexual Assault Policy

The college, responding to requests from students and faculty, recently agreed to implement a system whereby any time a sexual assault was reported to college authorities, the entire college community would receive an email notification to the effect. Then, two weeks ago, a sexual assault was reported, and no notification was sent out. Many were naturally outraged and organized a multi-level protest.

In response, the president of Occidental College, Jonathan Veitch, wrote a letter to the campus community. In it, he confirms what the students of Occidental fear: He is inclined to disbelieve students who report sexual assault. He writes that OxyAlerts in cases of reports of sexual assault are not “possible or desirable” because:

In the first few hours, days or even weeks, it is not always clear what has happened in incidents like these. Investigators need time to sort through conflicting accounts in order to provide a clear narrative of what took place.

By suggesting that “incidents like these” need vetting, Veitch is reproducing a bias against sexual assault victims that feminists have been trying to eradicate for decades. He is saying that sexual assault reports must be “sort[ed] through,” but reports of all other crimes can be taken at face value.

As the Ms. blog’s Lisa Wade points out, a report is just that—a report. Informing students that there has been a report of a crime does not indicate that a crime has actually been committed. No “sorting through” needs to happen to verify that a report has been filed. Veitch is—deliberately or not—conflating “reporting” and “trying”.

Department of Education Opens Investigation into UNC Suppression of Sexual Assault Reports

Back in January Melinda Manning, former Assistant Dean of Students at the University of North Carolina, lodged a complaint with the Department of Education, claiming the University had under-reported the number of sexual assaults on campus. Last week the DOE decided to investigate the matter.

In a letter to Chancellor Holden Thorp dated March 1, Robin Murphy, a team leader on the Washington Office for Civil Rights, wrote that the office would open an investigation into the women’s complaint. She added that the office also found that there were individual allegations of disability discrimination. Those would be handled separately, she wrote.

“Please note that opening the allegation for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint,” Murphy wrote. “During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate.”

Can I hope that an organization with “civil rights” in their actual name will not contribute further to any oppression or silencing of victims? I’m going to hope it.

Via ThinkProgress.