Three Girls, Aged 5, 9, and 11, Raped and Murdered in India

The three girls, who lived with their mother in Lakhni village in Maharashtra state, disappeared on 14 February, on their way home from school. Their widowed mother is a poor labourer, and when the grandfather went to the police to report their disappearance there was no attempt to search for them.

The police found the bodies of the three girls in an old well two days later, and recorded the deaths as “accidental”. But it was only after people from the village blocked a national highway on Wednesday in protest against the police inaction that the state home minister finally took notice.

A few protests over a single gang rape aren’t going to change centuries of patriarchy for India; they’d better be in it for the long haul.

2 Charged in Papua New Guinea "Witch" Killing

Trigger/Content Warning: Torture, Misogyny, and a Disturbing Image

Papua New Guinea police have charged two people with the grisly killing of a woman who was tortured and burned alive in front of hundreds of people, including young children, after being accused of witchcraft.

Janet Ware and Andrew Watea were charged with murder over the slaying of Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother who was stripped, tortured with a hot iron rod, doused in gasoline and set alight on a pile of car tires and trash by a mob earlier this month.

Many less-advanced cultures still blame women for mysterious deaths or illnesses, and Leniata was accused of causing the death of a young boy through sorcery.

Via Jezebel.

An Everyday Campaign

In the wake of two high-profile murders of young women in South Africa, Sally Matthews responds to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, in which he mentioned the need for “an everday campaign” against gender-based violence.

Many call for harsher sentences for rapists and murderers, but there is little evidence that such sentences actually act as a deterrent for such crimes. Others respond to GBV by renaming Valentine’s Day “V-day” and dancing in protest against rape, but many feel that such trendy forms of protest are nothing more than “slacktivism”—actions, which make us feel better, but have little actual influence.

Some look to the establishment of new institutions, such as the National Council on Gender-Based Violence which Zuma mentions will change things, but the creation of such institutions may do nothing more than make government appear to be doing something.

All of the above—stronger laws, stricter sentences, protest events and new institutions—may well form a part of such an “everyday campaign”, but for such a campaign to be effective, we also need to think carefully about the everyday actions and attitudes that form the foundation upon which GBV is built.

Her thoughts on those actions and attitudes apply pretty accurately to the United States, as well.

Via Feministing.

Reeva Steenkamp, Model and Aspiring Lawyer, Murdered

Last Thursday Reeva Steenkamp, girlfriend of Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, was killed at the apartment she shared with Pistorius, who has been arrested and charged with murder.

Reeva Steenkamp, who was to have given a talk on Thursday at a Johannesburg school, had become a celebrity in her own right, said publicist Sarit Tomlinson. She was one of FHM magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running, appeared in international and South African advertisements and was a celebrity contestant on Tropika Island of Treasure, a South African reality show. She was also the South African face of Avon cosmetics.

She was “continuously breaking the model stereotype”, Tomlinson said, adding that Steenkamp was “the sweetest, kindest, just angelic soul” and “a very inspiring individual, very passionate about speaking about women and empowerment”.

Steenkamp graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Laws degree and planned to become a lawyer by age 30.

India Gang-Rape Victim Dies

The unnamed girl who was raped repeatedly by six different men then thrown from a moving bus has died of her injuries:

Those men have now been charged with her murder and could face execution. In the 12 days following the attack, the victim was breathing with a ventilator, her intestines were removed, and she suffered a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure. She had said she wanted to live.

Many are now calling for not only the execution of the perpetrators but an execution sentence for any rapist. I oppose the death penalty, but I sympathize with this mentality. Still, if this tragedy only results in stronger sentencing of rapists, the Indian government will have missed the point.

Afghan Women’s Affairs Official Murdered

This makes twice in six months that this post has been vacated by the assassination of the woman occupying it. The Taliban is likely behind the killing.

Aren’t we currently occupying Afghanistan?

A Wife Accused of War Crimes

The International Criminal Court has indicted Simone Gbagbo, wife of the former president of Ivory Coast on charges of “crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and persecution”. William Burke-White, writing for The Atlantic, explains why this could be a history-making decision:

The indictment is, therefore, an important symbol of unfortunate fact from a humanitarian perspective: women, as well as men, plan and commit horrific acts of violence. While there may be fewer examples of women committing these most heinous crimes, men are not the only ones capable of ordering such brutality. This indictment recognizes that reality and lays a marker that international criminal courts will hold any perpetrator—regardless of gender—responsible for his or her actions.

This may seem like an odd story to be posting on a feminist news site, but portraying terrorists as exclusively or near-exclusively male deifies women, and this is a form of objectification. Women are people, too, with all the susceptibility to corruption, greed, hatred, and violence that conveys.

Burke-White argues, though, that the significance of this case surpasses the gender component:

Most of the indictments handed down by international courts to date have focused on those at the top of standard hierarchies of power—military commanders, governmental officials, or the leaders of armed rebellions. In contrast, Simone Gbagbo held no official position in government; she wore no military uniform; she did not personally commit any of the crimes charged. Yet, the ICC Prosecutor alleges that Simone Gbagbo was part of “Mr. Gbagbo’s inner circle,” that she “participated in all the meetings during the relevant period,” and that she “instructed pro-Gbagbo forces” to commit crimes against individuals who posed a threat to President Gbagbo’s power.

Too many oppressors have been able to dodge justice by claiming, “I did nothing” simply because there was no actual blood on their actual hands. While the pendulum can swing too far the other way, as with the Reign of Terror, that probably should not stop us from prosecuting those who actively propelled others to commit atrocities.

The Montreal Massacre

Thursday, December 6, was the 23rd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, an act of terrorism perpetrated by a Canadian anti-feminist at École Polytechnique, an engineering school.

He ordered the 60 male and female students to separate by gender, forcing the men by gunpoint to leave the classroom. Only nine students remained, all female, all helplessly huddled together.

One of the nine women, Nathalie Provost, an engineering student, replied “we’re not feminist.” Bravely, she attempted to reason with Lépine, trying desperately to save herself and her fellow colleagues. We’re “just women studying engineering”, she replied, “not necessarily feminists ready to march on the streets to shout we are against men”.

Lépine shot all nine women anyway, six dying where they stood. He continued his rampage against women as he walked through the college halls, killing an additional 5 women and injuring several others before turning the gun on himself.

Kathleen Pye at Fem 2.0 commemorates the day by explaining why feminism still matters:

Sure, we’ve made improvements, but there is still much to be done, particularly in light of the following facts:

And is it any wonder, with sites like this one, that the violence goes on?

In case you didn’t click all the links, that last one is to a fansite for Marc Lépine, the terrorist responsible for the Montreal Massacre.

I’m going to go ahead and say we still need feminism.

The Taliban Strikes Again

Another schoolgirl gunned down for somehow threatening the Taliban’s regime. This time it was Anisa, a 10th-grader helping with the administration of the polio vaccine at her school, and this time, she died.

The Taliban, you see, is against polio immunizations–which, of course, could save some of their own children from a lifetime of paralysis. But they choose to believe that the health campaign is a coverup for espionage, as was the CIA-backed fake hepatitis vaccine campaign that was run in the town where Osama Bin Laden was suspected of being holed up in order to collect DNA samples and locate children of the Al Qaeda mastermind.

How long?

Rita Hester

Today (November 20) was Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Jeremy C. Fox at tells the story of the vibrant, popular Boston woman whose unsolved murder sparked the institution.