Choosing journalism as a profession in Syria in the late 1990s was almost as unusual for a young girl as choosing to become a professional soccer player. “There were a lot of women studying media, but we already knew that we [would] not work as journalists,” said Rula Asad.
As the Caribbean and Florida have been pummeled by Hurricane Irma these past few days, people around the world have been desperate for news of their loved ones, while those stuck on battered islands and coasts with no electricity, no information on rescue activities, and little hope that their lives and property will make it through this A-bomb-level storm are left trying to find cell phones that work to learn what they can.
That this horrific idea exists, floating in our collective ethos and demanding a refutation is shocking. But this is where we are, and the failure to address the horror only means a greater evil is sure to come.
Milia Eidmouni’s family didn’t want her to be a journalist. They wanted her to choose a more typical career for an educated Syrian woman, such as teaching. But as a feminist, women’s rights defender and human rights campaigner, she pursued her desire to become a working journalist in 2007
With Tuesday’s gruesome chemical attack in Syria all over the news, attention has suddenly turned toward the crimes of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime—and away, for a moment, from those of the Islamic State. It is about time.
On Wednesday, WMC Women Under Siege hosted a Twitter chat with Matisse Bustos Hawkes, associate director of communications and engagement for Witness. The chat was about documenting human rights violations and introduced the new Witness manual, “Video as Evidence Field Guide,” that can help people working in the field to potentially film human rights abuses.
Developing a full understanding of how sexualized violence plays out around the globe requires a lot of context. At its most basic, the issue is already difficult to comprehend, but when it happens in war, or when you begin to unpack its intersection with topics like gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or colonization, it can be intimidating just trying to figure out where to start.
On February 24, a friend of mine posted an editorial on social media about a bill passed in the Pakistani Senate four days earlier, which punishes individuals who hinder prosecutions in rape cases or stigmatize the survivor. My friend asked: “How was this story not all over the news?”
While the news cycle in January was dominated by reports on Japanese hostages held by the militant group Islamic State and the Paris attacks on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, some stories didn’t receive as much attention.
Following the end of the #16Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, WMC’s Women Under Siege has gathered some of the best tweets out there in the hope that this action, this dialogue, this advocacy doesn’t stop here. We can do more. We must.
We put out a call on social media last month asking you to send us your photos of women in war. In an email by Joanne Mariner, a senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, we found a stunning image. Mariner managed to capture the uncertainty of what it means to live in war in this photograph of the hands of a woman holding the keys to her home—now forever a part of her past—in the Central African Republic.
The war in Congo is like a snake. Sometimes it slithers by and you see it and feel terror; other times, it hides in the trees, waiting. Everywhere I traveled in the country with the Nobel Women’s Initiative in February, I felt that ever-present fear—and exhaustion from so many years of being either attacked or on the lookout.
Calling all photographers—professional and amateur! Send photographs you’ve taken of women in war, women facing violence or coping with it, or women empowered in conflict areas, and we’ll choose a winning photo and feature an interview with you and the image on our site.
Sometimes I look at the Google Analytics for this site. Usually while I’m doing research or working on our social media, I’ll click over to a window I have open and see who is on the site right now—what countries they’re reading from, what stories they’ve landed on, and, sometimes, what words they searched to get to our project. It’s pretty interesting overall.
Bloodshed, famine, rape, internal displacement. There are truly few things as awful as the reality of living through modern warfare. The horror, suffering, and pain caused by war are acutely felt on an individual level. Often though, that pain is endured quietly, out of view, while the media focuses on bombs falling and guns firing.
Our mission here at WMC’s Women Under Siege is to add to the public record on sexualized violence in conflict. But if you’re just setting out to learn more about a topic as complicated as this, figuring out where to begin might seem a bit daunting.
Recently, the U.S. media has been full of accounts of rampant sexualized violence and intimidation across all branches of the U.S. military. In Egypt, we hear how sexual violence is used against female activists during and around protests in the country. A major reason these systemic human rights violations are coming to light is because brave survivors of sexualized violence were willing to speak out and share their experiences.
Sometimes I read something that makes the movement of the world, the very air in the room, freeze to a stop. That’s what happened recently when I read a letter written by an activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo named Neema Namadamu. I read it once, then I read it again. Instead of describing why it had such a profound effect on me, I’m pasting it in full below.
With the verdict in on the Steubenville rape, we are now confronted with yet another case involving two 13-year-old girls in Torrington, Conn., who say they were sexually assaulted by three young men. Presumably, the media will say these boys had a “bright future” ahead of them just as it said of the Steubenville boys. And just as in Steubenville, I expect the mainstream media to play the same game it always does—ignoring the victim and focusing entirely on how this will impact the lives of the rapists.
In June 2011, I published a report at the Committee to Protect Journalists called “The Silencing Crime” about sexualized violence and journalists. I called it that because rape and other forms of sexualized assault are used constantly around the world to frighten women journalists into silence, and unfortunately, the method is effective, my research found.
Journalists took to Twitter Sunday to criticize the the media’s coverage of the two teenage boys who were found guilty in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case. Lauren Wolfe, Xeni Jardin and others called out CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Paul Callan for sympathizing with the men and highlighting that the woman who was raped was “allegedly drunk.”