Archive for the ‘First Nations women’ Category

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Our Voices Matter

October 12, 2008

Our Voices Matter (OVM) is a new, grassroots, online project being launched to bring to the forefront the voices of individuals who have been harmed by prostitution, pornography, and/or trafficking. OVM seeks to provide a safe space for survivors to give voice to how prostitution, pornography, and trafficking have impacted their lives.

Our Voices Matter aims to shatter silences, create healing, raise awareness and incite action. OVM seeks to gather the pain, hurt, abuse, and horrors of survivors into a loud, overwhelming, and hopeful outcry that can and will be heard. OVM is an assertion that women and children matter; that the quest for a day when women and children are not bought and sold is worth fighting for; and that real social change is imperative to actualizing this goal.

Please help spread the word.

Go visit this new site. It is brilliant.

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Flesh Mapping

October 12, 2008

Great video put out by Vancouver Rape Relief against prostitution.

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Brisbane International Feminist Conference: Opening Ceremony and the first day

September 18, 2008

Well I’m back from the conference and it was very good and interesting. What I really appreciated most about this conference was the inclusion of many strong Black/indigenous feminist voices. The indigenous women speakers were amazing.

The first speaker on the first day (which we were late to, thanks to Dragort) was Judy Atkinson. Who has written a book called Trauma Trails. She was fantastic, incredible, passionate and funny as. She spoke of her frustrations with white male academic institutions and she told this really hilarious story about what she said to her white male colleagues at the university (they all sounded like a bunch of Phallosophers). You can read an interview with Judy here.

I bought her book Trauma Trails and am looking forward to reading it.

The other event that was herstory-making and so, so inspiring was the first panel on the third day. It was a panel of same-sex attracted indigenous women, the first time that indigenous lesbians have ever convened a panel of that nature in the herstory of this country. It was just so powerful. We were all crying from the stories that these women had to tell. They were all so strong, and so incredibly brave to share their life and experiences with us, mostly white feminist crowd. We were all on our feet clapping at the end of their panel, there was such an overwhelming depth of feeling created by that panel. I can’t describe it. Everyone who commented just couldn’t get past stammering our thanks. It was a very humbling experience, being in the presence of such courageous Black women.

I think that these two panels/speakers are the ones that have burnt themselves most firmly into my memory. I know that I’ll carry these with me.

But also of major note was Kat’s paper on the pornification of lesbian spaces. I met Kat long ago at the Townsville Feminist Summit. She was ‘queer’ back then and a little taken aback by radical feminism. I was probably very rude to her, I can’t actually remember, but I myself had only just dropped the ‘queer’ label and had gotten consumed by radical feminism.

Anyway we talked a little and swapped emails. She planned to attend the APEC protests and we planned to meet up and march behind a feminist banner. So we did, and got to know each other a little better.

When Kat was planning to write her paper on lesbian spaces she asked if she could quote my blog post about the same issue. I of course was very flattered. So when we met up again in Brisbane Dragort, Dissenter, Kat, Kat’s friend from Perth Heidi, and I kind of formed this little group and just talked heaps about everything. We went out for drinks after the Opening Ceremony and just hung out.

Our last day in Brisbane was Saturday and we got together in the park and talked for like 5 hours!!! And didn’t get bored!!! Then we went clubbing at a gay bar which was fun.

I also caught up briefly with Caroline Norma, another woman I met at the Townsville conference, but she wasn’t there for the whole conference so we didn’t get the chance to really talk.

I suppose I should recount this in order of how it happened.

Tuesday Night: Opening Ceremony

Had difficulty finding the venue. Were told to avoid the park. Too dangerous for us little women!!! Of course the Jagera Arts Centre was in the middle of the park.
A wonderful welcome to country.
Lots of brilliant indigenous performers. Really great women-centred atmosphere.
Dragort got Henna tattoos on her hands.
Met Kat and Heidi. Started connecting immediately.
Went out to drinks. I couldn’t believe that people paid $14 for a small amount of liquid in a fancy glass. I stood at the bar totally gobsmacked for a good long while. Um… I… don’t get out much.

Dragort spoilt my night by recounting all of my embarrassing exploits to Kat and Heidi. How rude!!! There is this story about Easter eggs that she tells EVERYBODY. It is so, so mean. Have decided never to introduce her to any of my friends again.

Wednesday

Got there late. Grr.. Dragort. Missed the welcome to country and another indigenous woman’s speech. Caught most of Judy Atkinson’s speech. She was brilliant: see above.

After morning tea there was a really fantastic paper by Bronwyn Winter, titled: Talked up and played down: The global rhetoric and realities of women’s lives. Really interesting examination of how while women’s rights are being championed by governments around the world, the reality of women’s lives keeps getting worse.

Lavender, a woman I met at the Townsville conference, was sick and was unable to give her paper on Intergenerational sisterhood. Very upsetting because Lavender is a really beautiful woman.

Ana Borges paper on ‘gender’ issues in education was interesting. Of course she highlighted the lack of any kind of gender awareness in many schools and pointed out the fact that gender is just a euphemism for boys. Phallic drift anyone, or is it just a wandering dick? (sorry: in joke for anyone who has read Radically Speaking). But it is too typical, when someone says, examination of gender, what they invariably mean is the examination of why gender is bad or limiting for boys. No one gives a shit about girls.

Merci Angeles’ paper Feminism Through The Eyes Of Filipina Urban Poor Women, was a very moving paper. I met Merci in Townsville. She is an incredible woman and she works unbelievably hard for the rights and freedom of women in her country. She is a member of a group of women in the Philipines called Peace Women Partners. Her paper was about sisterhood and community among Filipina urban poor women. Women who lived under bridges, alongside polluted rivers, getting shunted around by the government into houses built a long way away from any employment. She concluded with a poem which left many of us in tears. As I said, a very moving paper.

The next session was equally brilliant and eye-opening. Debbie Kilroy spoke with Kim Pate, both activists and advocates for the rights of criminalized women. Both staunch abolitionists of prisons and the criminal injustice system. They spoke of the conditions in prisons and of the way that women are mistreated. Debbie Kilroy runs a very successful Sisters Inside group, which is a support network of survivors of the criminal injustice system who work and advocate for women currently imprisoned. Very necessary and important work. Of course the Queensland government have made it difficult, currently the group is banned from going into prisons to work with women as the group was responsible for highlighting abuse happening in prisons which led to an enquiry. Of course the government did not like this being exposed so they banned advocate groups like Sisters Inside.

Kim Pate is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. The website seems to be down but there are some of Kim Pate’s speeches online here. She ‘attended’ the conference via Skype. Some kind of newfangled internet link up. She does similar work in Canada and says they face very similar problems over there. I found the abolition argument very compelling and I have to say that I completely agree. I have always felt that prisons were not good social practice. (DUH!!!) It is good to know that I am not alone in my opposition to them.

The last session was on women and poverty. I enjoyed Hirut Haile’s paper on The Effects of Married Women’s Access to Credit on Intra-Household Expenditure Responsibilities in Ethiopia. She wasn’t wholely positive or negative about the effects of credit, which I appreciated. I also got a lot out of Lillian Geddess’ paper, How much pain can a woman afford?

So that was the first day. Hope you all enjoyed the run down. Will blog about the rest of the conference. Later.

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Brisbane International Feminist Conference 2008

April 21, 2008

Yay another International Feminist Conference. This time in Brisbane where my mother and siblings live. I am so excited. The last one was so good and this one looks just as promising. I am going to try and force my mum and my sister Dragort to come along with me. They’ll love it.

I am also thinking of submitting a paper on Joss Whedon. Or more specifically, the pornstitution’s influence on ‘feminist’ representations of women in popular culture. If I don’t submit a paper on Joss Whedon’s Firefly then I will see if I can contribute my poetry as an artist. That would be very exciting. I might even sing. I haven’t done that in far too long.

The Brisbane International Feminist Conference 2008 aims to further feminist dialogues about the status of women and the continued violence against women and children as human rights violations. Conference organisers believe that the status of women in Australia and indeed globally, has been on the decline in the last decade.

The 2008 International Feminist Conference’s overall goal is to provide a forum to bring feminist thinkers, researchers, academics, service providers and community women together, to share information about pressing violations against women and children. 

Australian Indigenous Women

As the conference will be held in Brisbane, Australian Indigenous women will have a day and a session committed to their issues specifically. The 2nd of September will be an Indigenous women only forum, free to all Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander women. We hope to bring a contingent of women elders and activists from around Australia, including from areas most affected by the Federal Government’s recent interventions into their communities. There will also be a session within the conference program where Indigenous women can yarn up with their feminist sisters.

The Conference Program

At the moment we have defined key areas. Topics and sessions will be more refined as we gather responses to the call for abstracts between April and May, 2008.

  • Feminism
  • Women’s Health
  • Legal Issues
  • Violence Against Women and children
  • Women in Poverty/ Women in Work
  • Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Women’s Issues
  • Global Perspectives
  • Women in Prison/ Criminalized Women’s Issues
  • Sexuality

Venue

The Brisbane International Feminist Conference 2008 will be held at:

The Greek Convention Centre
29 Edmondstone Street,
South Brisbane.
Queensland. Australia. 4101.

The dates have been confirmed for the Tuesday the 2nd of September for the Indigenous women only day and Wednesday the 3rd of September, Thursday the 4th of September and Friday the 5th of September for the rest of the conference program.

Damn, it looks good doesn’t it? I especially love the fact that they are planning an indigenous women’s only day. That is just fantastic.

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Indigenous women speak out against the intervention

March 11, 2008

I can’t seem to make this video embed so here is the link. Please watch.

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Racism makes me sick

March 11, 2008

NT women cast out as scary

A GROUP of young Aboriginal women plan to file a racial discrimination complaint after they were asked to leave an Alice Springs hostel at the weekend because they had “scared” Asian tourists.

The six youth leaders from the remote community of Yuendumu were told they were “unsuitable” guests by the manager of the Haven Backpackers Resort, Englishwoman Shelly Ball.

“The manager of the hotel came out and said that we weren’t suitable to stay there,” said Bethany Langdon, 19.

“The other tourists were all complaining because they were scared. I was upset because it felt like I wasn’t wanted by other people … I’m not wanted because of the colour of our skin.”

White flight leaves system segregated by race (or why white australia loves apartheid)

The findings are backed by research from the University of Western Sydney, which has identified evidence of racial conflict in schools in the wake of the Cronulla riots. It also suggests students of Anglo-European descent are avoiding some schools with students of mainly Asian background.

Not only have some public schools lost enrolments; they have become racially segregated. In pockets of rural and remote NSW, Aboriginal students fill public schools and white students attend Catholic and other private schools in the same town.

Around Sydney, the parents of some Anglo-European students are avoiding what they perceive as predominantly Lebanese, Muslim and Asian schools.

In New England, in towns such as Armidale, white middle-class students are flocking to Catholic and independent schools.

In their report, principals say this is so the students can “get away from their local school”.

“This is almost certainly white flight from towns in which the public school’s enrolment consists increasingly of indigenous students,” the report says. “The pattern is repeated in the Sydney region. Based on comments from principals, this most likely consists of flight to avoid Islamic students and communities.”

PROTEST

Protest March 13 – Stop the Racist Quarantines! End the Intervention!Support Aboriginal communities in the NT & demand an end to Howard’s racist Intervention legislation.

At the last federal election Aboriginal communities overwhelming voted Labor in a bid to end the racist, punitive and paternalistic intervention legislation, implemented by the Howard Government in a desperate attempt to hold onto Government.

Eileen Hoosan, resident of Mt Nancy town camp has argued, “These laws are like apartheid South Africa”, referring to the race based ‘welfare quarantine’ and dubbed these measures another ‘invasion’ that attacks fundamental human rights of Aboriginal people. “It’s reintroducing the ration system from forty years ago”.

Despite claims that the intervention was a response to rampant child sexual abuse no new services have received funding. Instead $88 million has been spent administering the welfare quarantining with 50% of all Centrelink payments to residents of ‘prescribed Aboriginal communities’ being withheld.

The race based intervention has required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act and has overridden the Northern Territory Land Rights Act.

Many women from ‘prescribed communities’ speak of the intense shame they feel and the difficulty people have had queuing with hundreds of others for hours for ration cards with many then missing out. Aboriginal community members must spend the exact amount of quarantined money which can only be spent at a limited range of stores, Woolworths, Kmart or Coles, with any unspent store voucher money returning to the Government.

Community members also complain that the welfare quarantines have caused problems getting food and many people are moving away from their communities to population centres as a result.

While the Federal Labor Government has reinstated some aspects of the permit system it has just announced the extension of welfare quarantining into many more Aboriginal communities, including the urban areas Darwin, Palmerston and Adelaide River, now impacting on some 6,500 people.

Aboriginal communities are calling for an end to this racist military intervention and for the Labor Government to honour its recent commitment stated in the Labor Government’s historic apology and at the ALP National Platform adopted in 2007, to work with Aboriginal communities and to adequately fund services and infra-structure in these communities.

Protest against the NT Intervention! Stop Racist Welfare Quarantines!
Rally 12:30 Thursday 13 March @ Redfern Centrelink, 140 Redfern st

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‘All mothers are important’: the prime minister apologises to the Stolen Generations

February 16, 2008

Sorry