Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

 

The treaty, the “Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence”­­ – known informally as the “Istanbul Convention” – is the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence. It sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution, and services. Countries ratifying must also establish services such as hotlines, shelters, medical services, counselling, and legal aid.


“This is a defining moment for women in Europe for whom the home is a place of danger,” said Gauri van Gulik, global women’s rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. “This treaty will oblige governments to take concrete steps to help women and girls facing violent attacks.”

One in three women in the European Union has experienced some form of physical and/or sexual assault since the age of 15, according to an EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey. An estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner, or sexual violence by a stranger. The World Health Organization calls this a public health problem of epidemic proportions.

The treaty was adopted in Istanbul on May 11, 2011. More than half (25 of 47) of the countries that are Council of Europe members have signed the convention (the initial step before fully agreeing to be bound by the treaty through ratification). To date, ten countries have ratified: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andorra, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, and Turkey.

The Istanbul Convention addresses gaps in national responses to violence against women. Across Europe, violence and the failure of governments to prevent it is a daily, brutal reality for women and girls, Human Rights Watch research over the past few years has shown.

Which Countries have ratified, signed or just ignored the treaty.

Number

Ratified

Signed but not yet ratified

Not signed

1

Albania

Belgium

Armenia

2

Andorra

Croatia

Azerbaijan

3

Austria

Finland

Bulgaria

4

Bosnia + Herzegovina

France

Cyprus

5

Denmark

Germany

Czech Republic

6

Montenegro

Sweden

Estonia

7

Portugal

Greece

Georgia

8

Serbia

Hungary

Liechtenstein

9

Spain

Ireland

Moldova

10

Turkey

Lithuania

Latvia

11

 

Monaco

Romania

12

 

Switzerland

Russia

13

 

Luxembourg

San Marino

14

 

Malta

 

15

 

Netherlands

 

16

 

Norway

 

17

 

Poland

 

18

 

United Kingdom

 

19

 

Slovenia

 

20

 

The Former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia

 

21

 

Slovakia

 

22

 

Ukraine

 

 “Violence against women is not a force of nature – it can be stopped,” van Gulik said. “This convention is set to bring about practical changes that should ultimately improve the lives of women and girls across Europe.” 

See the convention text here:   http://www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/treaties/html/210.htm

Further charts with more detail here:  http://www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=210&CM=&DF=&CL=ENG

Find the word version here:  http://www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?CL=ENG&NT=210

33 states have now signed the treaty with 11 going on to ratify.

Posted by Joan Taylor 30 April 2014

Are You Man Enough?

29th April The Shay Stadium 1.30 – 4.30

What a fantastic day we all had at the Shay Stadium, we had at least 200 people 159 of whom were men. The event was run by Calderdale Council and organised mostly by Brian Michelle of workforce development.  The event was part of Calderdale Councils initiative to do more work with the White Ribbon Campaign and was specifically designed for their colleagues.

We had several presentations including a very moving account of one women’s living experience of domestic violence. Many of us were reduced to quiet contemplation by the description of her life.

DCI Oldham of West Yorkshire Police gave an account of the rates of DV incidents in Calderdale , in the last 12 months alone there were 3700 incidents that were linked to DV. He also told us the although there are great services for women there is very little for men and nothing that would be useful for perpetrators. There is now a dedicated officer who deals exclusively with DV incidents, which is a step in the right direction. The afternoon was a very moving time but we did break this with a dance routine.

We were shown a video from Grease, great fun it was, we all sat talking about how old the film was having a great time . Then Brian Michelle announced that there was a purpose to showing the film. All the men were then told that they were going out onto the stand and dancing. Well a collective “What dance” went up and a resounding “Yes” came from Brian,”It’ll be fun” he said.   And here it is and it was terrific fun.

159 Men Dancing At the Shay To End Violence Against Women

 

These are just a few of the comments that came after the event:

This response from and lady after hearing about her colleagues difficult relationship:

I came over to you at the end of the event yesterday but was a bit emotional so didn’t say much!  I just wanted to say how brave that was, it brought back a lot of memories for me from a previous, unhappy, relationship, and I’m not sure that even after 10 years I could have done what you did yesterday. You are an amazing, strong woman and should be so proud of everything you’ve achieved. You are an inspiration

 

Here a series of texts from some in the room:

 

‘a really good afternoon and incredibly emotional’

‘a subject I never really gave much thought to, my reactions to people I love, clearly I need to from now on’

‘great event and really thought provoking’

‘ I hate dancing, how did that happen and just for the record I would do it again and again to get the message out there’

‘what just happened? – did we really just do that – what a brilliant way to get people thinking’

 

All names withheld 

As you can see a really passionate and fine afternoon.

 

The Shay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog posted by Joan Taylor April 30 2014

My wife was murdered by a ‘monster’ – but most perpetrators of violence are normal men

My wife, Jill Meagher, was murdered by a man who can easily be described as the sum of all evils – but we should not fall pray to the ‘monster myth’

Jill Meagher
Jillian Meagher. Photograph: Facebook/AAP

One of the most disturbing moments of the past 18 months of my life was hearing my wife’s killer form a coherent sentence in court.

Jill had been murdered almost six months earlier, and Adrian Bayley’s defence team were presenting a rather feeble case for a four-week adjournment of his committal hearing. Bayley appeared via video link in the Melbourne court as I sat flanked by two friends and a detective. The screen was to my right, mounted high up and tilted slightly towards the bench. It was uncomfortably silent apart from the occasional paper shuffle or short flurry of keyboard clicks. Bayley’s face appeared on the big-screen TV, looming over my seat. When that moment arrived, a jolt of nausea came and went. But the worst was to come, made all the more horrifying because it was unexpected.

The judge asked Bayley whether he could he see the courtroom. I don’t remember his exact words, but he replied that he was able to see his lawyer and half of the bench. I had come face to face with him before in court, but I’d never heard him manage more than a monosyllabic mumble into his chest. This was different. There was a clarity of communication, sentence structure, and proper articulation. It was chilling.

I had formed an image that this man was not human – he existed as a singular force of pure evil who somehow emerged from the ether. But something about his ability to weave together nouns, verbs and pronouns to form intelligible sentences forced a re-focus – one that required a look at the spectrum of men’s violence against women, and its relation to Bayley and the society from which he came.

By insulating myself with the intellectually evasive dismissal of violent men as psychotic or sociopathic aberrations, I self-comforted by avoiding a more terrifying concept: that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything, from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions. Bayley’s appeal was dismissed, but I left court that day in a perpetual trauma-loop, knowing I needed to re-imagine the social, institutional and cultural context in which a man like Bayley exists.

Three days after Jill’s body was found, 30,000 people marched respectfully down Sydney Road. I watched on TV as the long parade of people reacted to their anger at what happened to Jill with love and compassion, the very opposite of everything Bayley represents. I remember my sister’s voice from behind me as I fixed my eyes on the images saying, “wow, people really care about this.”

After the court date where I heard Bayley speak, that infinite conveyor belt of compassion replayed in my mind. People did care about this, and for whatever reason people identified with this particular case, it was something that I hoped could be universalised – not localised to this case, but for every instance of men’s violence against women.

The major difficulties in mobilising this kind of outrage on a regular basis is that most cases of men’s violence against women:

• lack the ingredients of an archetypal villain and a relatable victim

• are perpetrated and suffered in silence, and

• are perpetrated by somebody known to the victim.

The more I felt the incredible support from the community, the more difficult it was to ignore the silent majority whose tormentors are not monsters lurking on busy streets, but their friends, acquaintances, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers.

Since Jill died, my inbox has been overflowing with messages from thousands of women sharing their stories of sexual and physical abuse. Some were prostitutes who felt it pointless to report sexual assault because of perceived deficiencies in the justice system; some were women whose tormentors received suspended sentences and felt too frightened to stay in their home town. These are the prevalent and ongoing stories that too often remain unchallenged in male company.

While the vast majority of men abhor violence against women, those dissenting male voices are rarely heard in our public discourse outside of the “monster-rapist” narrative. Indeed, the agency of male perpetrators disappears from the discussion, discouraging male involvement and even knowledge of the prevalence and diversity of male violence against women. Even the term “violence against women” sounds like a standalone force of nature, with no subject, whereas “men’s violence against women” is used far less frequently.

While not attempting to broad-brush or essentialise the all too abstracted notion of “masculinity”, male invisibility in our discourse can be compounded by masculine posturing, various “bro-codes” of silence, and a belief, through the monster myth, in the intrinsic otherness of violent men.

The Canadian feminist and anti-violence educator Lee Lakeman argued that:

Violent men, and men in authority over violent men, and the broader public that authorises those men, are not yet shamed by the harm of coercive control over women … Maybe we can rest some hope on the growing activity of men of goodwill calling on each other to change. When that group hits a critical mass, the majority of men will be more likely to want to change.

According to an EU wide study conducted in 2010, one person in five knows of someone who commits domestic violence in their circle of friends and family. Perhaps it’s time we, as non-violent men, attempted to hit this critical mass.

One of the most dangerous things about the media saturation which followed this crime was that Bayley is in fact the archetypal monster. Bayley feeds into a commonly held social myth that most men who commit rape are like him – violent strangers who stalk their victims and strike at the opportune moment. It gives a disproportionate focus to the rarest of rapes, ignoring the catalogue of non-consensual sex happening on a daily basis everywhere on the planet. It validates a limitation of the freedom of women, by persisting with an obsession with a victim’s movements rather than the vile actions of the perpetrator, while simultaneously creating a “canary down the mine” scenario.

Men who may feel uncomfortable by a peer’s behaviour towards women may absolve themselves from interfering with male group norms, or breaking ranks with the boys, by normalising that conduct in relation to “the rapist”. In other words, he can justify his friend’s behaviour by comparison – “he may be a ___, but he’s not Adrian Bayley.”

The monster myth allows us to see public infractions on women’s sovereignty as minor, because the man committing the infraction is not a monster like Bayley. We see instances of this occur in bars, when men become furious and verbally abusive when women decline their attention. We see it on the street as groups of men shout comments, grab, grope and intimidate women, with friends either ignoring or getting involved in the activity. We see it in male peer groups, where rape-jokes and disrespectful attitudes towards women go uncontested.

The monster myth creates the illusion that this is simply banter, sexist horseplay. While most of us would never abide racist comments among a male peer-group, the trivialisation of men’s violence against women often remains a staple, invidious, and rather boring subject of mirth. We can either examine this by setting our standards against the monster-rapist, or by accepting that this behaviour intrinsically contributes to a culture in which rape and violence are allowed to exist.

The monster myth also perpetuates a comforting lack of self-awareness. When I heard Bayley forming sentences in court, I froze because I’d been socialised to believe that men who rape are jabbering madmen who wear tracksuit bottoms with dress shoes and knee-high socks. The only thing more disturbing than that paradigm is the fact that most rapists are normal guys, guys we might work beside or socialise with, our neighbours or even members of our family.

Where men’s violence against women is normalised in our society, we often we compartmentalise it to fit our view of the victim. If a prostitute is raped or beaten, we may consider it an awful occupational hazard “given her line of work.” We rarely think “she didn’t get beaten – somebody (ie a man) beat her”. Her line of work is dangerous, but mainly because there are men who want to hurt women. If a husband batters his wife, we often unthinkingly put it down to socio-economic factors or alcohol and drugs, rather than how men and boys are taught and socialised to be men and view women.

I wonder at what stage we will stop being shocked by how normal a rapistseemed. Many years ago, two female friends confided in me about past abuses that happened in their lives, both of which had been perpetrated by “normal guys”. As I attempted to console them, I mentally comforted myself by reducing it to some as yet undetected mental illnesses in these men. The cognitive shift is easy to do when we are not knowingly surrounded by men who commit these crimes, but then we men rarely need to fear such an attack.

The idea of the lurking monster is no doubt a useful myth, one we can use to defuse any fear of the women we love being hurt, without the need to examine ourselves or our male-dominated society. It is also an excuse to implement a set of rules on women on “how not to get raped”, which is a strange cocktail of naiveté and cynicism. It is naive because it views rapists as a monolithic group of thigh-rubbing predators with a checklist rather than the bloke you just passed in the office, pub or gym, and cynical because these rules allow us to classify victims. If the victim was wearing X or drinking Y, well then of course the monster is going to attack – didn’t she read the rules?

I have often come up against people who, on this point, claim that they’re “just being realistic”. While it may come from a place of concern, if we’re being realistic we need to look at how and where rape and violence actually occur, and how troubling it is that we use a nebulous term like “reality” to condone the imposition of dress codes, acceptable behaviours, and living spaces on women to avoid a mythical rape-monster. OK, this rape-monster did exist in the form of Adrian Bayley, but no amount of adherence to these ill-conceived rules could have stopped him from raping somebody that night.

When Bayley was arrested, the nightmare of the lurking evil stranger was realised. It was beamed through every television set and printed on every newspaper headline in the country. It was a reminder that there are men out there who are “not like us”, men who exist so far outside our social norms that the problem can be solved simply by extinguishing this person. Bayley became a singular evil that stirred our anger, and provoked a backlash so violent that it mirrored the society from which he emerged, that the answer to violence is more violence.

Many comments on Facebook pages and memorial sites set up in honour of Jill often expressed a wish for Bayley to be raped in prison, presumably at the arbitrary whim of other incarcerated men. Putting aside the fact that wishing rape on somebody is the perhaps last thing we do before exiting civilisation entirely, there is a point that these avengers may have missed – somebody has to do the raping. Vengeance by rape implies that rape is a suitable punishment for certain crimes. In other words, rape is fine as long as it’s used in the service of retributive justice. Indeed, we would be essentially cheering on the rapist who rapes Bayley, for ensuring that justice is done. Or, if we find this rapist just as abhorrent as Bayley, we’ll need another rapist to rape him, to avenge the rape he committed, and this would go on and on in an infinite loop. In essence, this “rape as retribution” argument invokes the need for far too many rapists.

For people like Bayley, rape is punishment – it’s how he exerts his dominance, and exhibits his deep misogyny through sexual humiliation. If we as a society then ask for Bayley to be raped as punishment, are we not cementing the validity of this mindset?

I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man, and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death. But wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Jill’s memory and other women affected by violence to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual?

Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person. I am the first one who wants to see him vilified and long may he be one of Australia’s most hated people, but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men’s violence against women.

What would make this tragedy even more tragic would be if we were to separate what happened to Jill from cases of violence against women where the victim knew, had a sexual past with, talked to the perpetrator in a bar, or went home with him. It would be tragic if we did not recognise that Bayley’s previous crimes were against prostitutes, and that the social normalisation of violence against a woman of a certain profession and our inability to deal with or talk about these issues, socially and legally, resulted in untold horror for those victims, and led to the brutal murder of my wife.

We cannot separate these cases from one another because doing so allows us to ignore the fact that all these crimes have exactly the same cause – violent men, and the silence of non-violent men. We can only move past violence when we recognise how it is enabled, and by attributing it to the mental illness of a singular human being, we ignore its prevalence, it root causes, and the self-examination required to end the cycle. The paradox, of course is that in our current narrow framework of masculinity, self-examination is almost universally discouraged.

Since Jill died, I wake up every day and read a quote by Maya Angelou – “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Male self-examination requires this courage, and we cannot end the pattern of men’s violence against women without consciously breaking our silence.

• This piece first appeared on the White Ribbon Ireland campaign website and is republished with permission

Pot Noodle – It’s not for Girls – so boycott them!

First published New Statesman 15-05-2013 http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2013/05/food-its-not-girls

Food: It’s Not For Girls

Pot Noodle joined the list of brands which seem determined to drive away women. They should realise that ironic hipster sexism is still sexism.
By Rhiannon and Holly Published 15 May 2013 11:33

Pot Noodle

Yesterday, the beautiful city of Newcastle – hometown of one half of the Vagenda, both halves of Ant and Dec, and the endless source of entertainment that was Byker Grove – was marred by the appearance of a terrible visitor: the Piri-Piri Chicken Van.

What is the Piri-Piri Chicken Van, we hear you cry. Well, it basically does what it says on the flimsy foil lid, being as it is a van launching a new flavour of Pot Noodle here in the lucky, lucky UK. Pot Noodle and its compatriots haven’t exactly been known for their sensitivity in the past when it comes to gender issues (it is, after all, the “slag of all snacks”), but this latest incarnation of their marketing strategy really does take the preservative-laden biscuit. “Peel the top off a hottie!” is the slogan, plastered alongside two closely aligned Pot Noodle lids that are deliberately juxtaposed to simulate breasts. And if that reference was too subtle for you, there’s a half-naked girl on the photo beside it, just waiting to have her top peeled off by the slathering consumer who’s in the mood for a walk down – in their words – “Easy Street”. It’s enough to make you crawl back to the Iceland store, apologising for any offence you saw in “Because mums are heroes” and begging them to employ you permanently in their managerial scheme.

Of course, we’re not the first ones to raise objections to this questionable campaign. One unfortunate young lady known only as Emma dared to stick her head above the parapet on the Piri-Piri Chicken Van’s Facebook page – prompting a response from official Pot Noodle social media that she didn’t understand “tongue-in-cheek fun for all” but “sorry you feel that way”. Our own attempts to contact Pot Noodle PR resulted in an email that similarly told us they were “sorry if they had caused offence”, which, as anyone who has been forced to apologise against their will for a misdemeanor which they still view as entirely justified knows, is the biggest cop-out apology known to humanity.

Now, we all know that “hipster sexism” has been all the rage ever since American Apparel first launched their “now open” campaign, and it has been operating alongside the recent “new wave of feminism” as ostensible proof that we’re really not needed. We’re past all that now, you see. All this sexism stuff in the media might well be exactly the same as it was 50 years ago, but this time around it’s ironic. So can you leave us to stare at some tits in peace? You’re making too much noise at the back.

Except, of course, there’s nothing all that hip about Pot Noodle. Pot Noodle is Lad Culture in snack form, an edible Page Three; drooling, retrograde sexism, and any PR exec who tries to tell us otherwise (Hi, Alex!) can jog on. Pot noodle aren’t cleverly challenging sexist stereotypes by mocking them – they’re perpetuating those stereotypes, one “hot bird” at a time.

Such a lack of imagination in advertising is enough to make anyone as bored and jaded as a steaming hot model hired to “sex up” a pot of instant noodles. Is this really all that the collective human imagination can give? In a month where Cambridge University students have been celebrating the end of the long long-held tradition of bikini-clad women jelly-wrestling in a paddling pool to (mostly male) spectators to signal the end of their annual exams (yes, really), did nobody over at Pot Noodle raise a tentative hand when “Peel the top off a hottie” came to the drawing board? Or are they all actually, seriously a bunch of back-slapping misogynists who were raised in a vacuum and presumably laughed raucously at one customer’s response to brave old Emma on Facebook – “Feminist, get back in the kitchen and make me a Pot Noodle”? If so, then maybe they could use that line for their next product launch.

The failure of executives from the macho world of advertising to gauge the public mood is nothing new (just look at what happened to Femfresh last year), but surely it’s high time that they start listening. From Pot Noodle’s campaign, you’d think that no one with a vagina had ever ingested one, when in fact Holly once felt so strongly about her right to consume one that, after being shouted at during her snack break, she quit her job over it. Is she to be condemned to the fluorescent umaminess of supernoodles? It looks like it.

And thus, Pot Noodles have been added to the list of foods that women the country over are seemingly not permitted to consume. A list which includes McCoys (Man Crisps), Yorkie Bars (Not for girls), Irn Bru (weird preoccupation with mum’s boobs), Burger King (blowjob imagery) Weetabix (girls can’t be superheroes) and, thanks to the date-rapey tendencies of their advertising, microwaveable burger manufacturers Rustlers.

Are these companies, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, part of some kind of global conspiracy to keep the female sex hungry? Because, from where we’re standing, the only food we’re allowed to eat is a green smoothie and a fucking insubstantial Cadbury’s Crispello.

It’s all very well blaming magazines for our current food neurosis with their championing of emaciated bodies and their diet tips, but food manufacturers are some of the worst culprits for gendered advertising. It’s about time someone brought them up to date. The worst thing about the Pot Noodle campaign is its predatory sense of entitlement, as though ‘peeling the top off a hottie’ is as simple a transaction as picking a snack pot off the shelf. According to Alex from Pot Noodle, this is “not intended to demean women in any way”. “As a brand targeting a male, youth audience, we do push the boundaries”, he emailed from the 1970s.

The solution, of course, to this kind of thing is a easy one: don’t let anyone who eats Pot Noodle take your top off, ever. A philosophy that we’re sure many of you lived by anyway. As you were.

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Original article from The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9979877/Girl-guides-sign-No-More-Page-3-campaign.html?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email
 

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Girl Guides have thrown their support behind the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, in a bid to stop the perpetuation of the idea that “women are objects” in a family newspaper.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Girlguiding UK has signed the campaign to try and force the hand of Rupert Murdoch, who hinted a few weeks ago that he is considering ending the publication of photographs of topless models on page 3 of The Sun – which he owns, as chief executive of News Corporation.

The decision was made for the UK’s leading charity for girls and women, which has more than half a million members, by its advocate panel – which is made up of 16 girls between the ages of 14 to 26 who decide what issues matter to their fellow Guides.

Katie Wormald, 17, a senior Guide and a member of the advocate panel, told The Telegraph that their members felt strongly about the need to stop Page 3 as soon as possible.

“I believe growing up seeing images of naked women in a family newspaper makes young women feel insecure and that they cannot be successful unless they are attractive,” she explained.

“A poll we did recently of our members showed that two thirds of them believe that women are still judged more on their looks than their ability and this needs to change.”

Having now signed the campaign, which has nearly 90,000 signatures, Girlguiding UK has sent a letter to The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, explaining why the organisation believe Page 3 should be scrapped.

The letter says: “We know that The Sun is a family newspaper. Anyone can pick it up, turn to page 3, and think that it is normal for young women to be treated as objects. We feel this is just wrong and has to stop.

As a young woman in UK society, it is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you are not the same as your male equivalent. This is what Page 3 does. It is disrespectful and embarrassing.

We would like The Sun, as a leading UK newspaper, to promote positive role models to inspire girls and young women and help everyone to understand that women are never for sale.

We hope that the voice of Girlguiding members, combined with the rest of the signatories on the No More Page 3 petition, will convince you to finally take bare boobs out of The Sun.”

Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding added: “Giving girls a voice on issues that they care about is one of Girlguiding’s most important values. We are very proud that young women in Guiding are choosing to speak out and play a part in building the society they want to live in.”

Lucy Holmes set up the No More Page 3 campaign last year. Writing for Telegraph Wonder Women she said of her work: “I felt strongly that when the largest female image in the most widely read newspaper in the country is a young woman in her knickers, there for men to look at, it doesn’t send out a respectful message about a woman’s place in society. It says ‘what society values about you first and foremost is how sexy men find you in your pants when you’re about 20’.”

 

Girl guides sign ‘No More Page 3’ campaign

Girl Guides have thrown their support behind the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, in a bid to stop the perpetuation of the idea that “women are objects” in a family newspaper.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Image from the No More Page 3 Facebook campaign page.

Girlguiding UK has signed the campaign to try and force the hand of Rupert Murdoch, who hinted a few weeks ago that he is considering ending the publication of photographs of topless models on page 3 of The Sun – which he owns, as chief executive of News Corporation.

The decision was made for the UK’s leading charity for girls and women, which has more than half a million members, by its advocate panel – which is made up of 16 girls between the ages of 14 to 26 who decide what issues matter to their fellow Guides.

Katie Wormald, 17, a senior Guide and a member of the advocate panel, told The Telegraph that their members felt strongly about the need to stop Page 3 as soon as possible.

“I believe growing up seeing images of naked women in a family newspaper makes young women feel insecure and that they cannot be successful unless they are attractive,” she explained.

“A poll we did recently of our members showed that two thirds of them believe that women are still judged more on their looks than their ability and this needs to change.”

Having now signed the campaign, which has nearly 90,000 signatures, Girlguiding UK has sent a letter to The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, explaining why the organisation believe Page 3 should be scrapped.

The letter says: “We know that The Sun is a family newspaper. Anyone can pick it up, turn to page 3, and think that it is normal for young women to be treated as objects. We feel this is just wrong and has to stop.

As a young woman in UK society, it is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you are not the same as your male equivalent. This is what Page 3 does. It is disrespectful and embarrassing.

We would like The Sun, as a leading UK newspaper, to promote positive role models to inspire girls and young women and help everyone to understand that women are never for sale.

We hope that the voice of Girlguiding members, combined with the rest of the signatories on the No More Page 3 petition, will convince you to finally take bare boobs out of The Sun.”

Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding added: “Giving girls a voice on issues that they care about is one of Girlguiding’s most important values. We are very proud that young women in Guiding are choosing to speak out and play a part in building the society they want to live in.”

Lucy Holmes set up the No More Page 3 campaign last year. Writing for Telegraph Wonder Women she said of her work: “I felt strongly that when the largest female image in the most widely read newspaper in the country is a young woman in her knickers, there for men to look at, it doesn’t send out a respectful message about a woman’s place in society. It says ‘what society values about you first and foremost is how sexy men find you in your pants when you’re about 20’.”

Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap ‘rapist’

Original post from the Independent newspaper website http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cheerleader-must-compensate-school-that-told-her-to-clap-rapist-2278522.html

Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap ‘rapist’

A teenage girl who was dropped from her high school’s cheerleading squad after refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her must pay compensation of $45,000 (£27,300) after losing a legal challenge against the decision.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a review of the case brought by the woman, who is known only as HS. Lower courts had ruled that she was speaking for the school, rather than for herself, when serving on a cheerleading squad – meaning that she had no right to stay silent when coaches told her to applaud.

She was 16 when she said she had been raped at a house party attended by dozens of fellow students from Silsbee High School, in south-east Texas. One of her alleged assailants, a student athlete called Rakheem Bolton, was arrested, with two other young men.

In court, Bolton pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour assault of HS. He received two years of probation, community service, a fine and was required to take anger-management classes. The charge of rape was dropped, leaving him free to return to school and take up his place on the basketball team.

Four months later, in January 2009, HS travelled to one of Silsbee High School’s basketball games in Huntsville. She joined in with the business of leading cheers throughout the match. But when Bolton was about to take a free throw, the girl decided to stand silently with her arms folded.

“I didn’t want to have to say his name and I didn’t want to cheer for him,” she later told reporters. “I just didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing.”

Richard Bain, the school superintendent in the sport-obsessed small town, saw things differently. He told HS to leave the gymnasium. Outside, he told her she was required to cheer for Bolton. When the girl said she was unwilling to endorse a man who had sexually assaulted her, she was expelled from the cheerleading squad.

The subsequent legal challenge against Mr Bain’s decision perhaps highlights the seriousness with which Texans take cheerleading and high school sports, which can attract crowds in the tens of thousands.

HS and her parents instructed lawyers to pursue a compensation claim against the principal and the School District in early 2009. Their lawsuit argued that HS’s right to exercise free expression had been violated when she was instructed to applaud her attacker. But two separate courts ruled against her, deciding that a cheerleader freely agrees to act as a “mouthpiece” for a institution and therefore surrenders her constitutional right to free speech. In September last year, a federal appeals court upheld those decisions and announced that HS must also reimburse the school sistrict $45,000, for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against it.

“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”

The family’s lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions”.

15 Year Old Rape Victim to be publicly flogged

It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry.

The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.

Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/maldives_global/?cGWzVbb

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/president-mohammed-waheed-hassan-prevent-public-flogging-of-15-year-old-rape-victim#