After the terrible loss of life on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, including six AIDS researchers and activists who were on their way to an International AIDS conference in Australia it seems that work in this medical field is particularly bleak right now. However, even though there has been much loss, there is some interesting news emerging from HIV and AIDS research. Namely condoms that have an antiviral compound to protect against HIV, Herpes and other STDs and the news that the Lancet has called for global action to protect sex workers from HIV and AIDS by decriminalising sex work.
"May God curse every one of those who has failed to free our girls", these are the words of Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces are missing, along with over 100 students abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in the Chibok area of the north-eastern state of Borno. The young women were abducted two weeks ago. Two weeks we have known about this. Since I heard about the abduction on the news I have been listening out for it. Call it bad timing, perhaps the media thinks we can only handle one disaster at a time but the story quickly fell to the end of the news, just before the sport. And I didn't say anything. Because I like to post slightly flip articles that tend to cover middle class white girl angst or males encroaching on female space. We're just a small feminist blog. I thought someone else would say something. Because I didn't know what to say.
I don't know anybody who has what can be described as a 'good' smear test story as such. Funny? Yeah, sure why not. Shocking? Yes. Embarrassing? Uh, yes. But I don't know one woman who can tell, or hear a smear test story without automatically crossing her legs. It isn't something that comes up much in polite conversation because eeeeesh! Charity PR don't seem to be able to make the entrance to the womb cute. Which is silly because, armed with my Biology AS Level I understand it to be pink. That's a lady marketing dream, no? And there doesn't seem to be much happening in way of making the test less invasive. Bar tips on demanding plastic speculums, or if it is metal, demanding it be warmed. A friend once got her labia nipped by a speculum. What can you recommend to solve that? Loose lips...Speculum nips.
It is the subject that divides feminists more than the subject of male presence in feminist spaces. More than what importance we place on being cis or not being transphobic. More than the luxuriousness of our bikini lines. More than whether or not we heat our communes by using putting bras in the brazier (I slay me). It is the subject of sex work. Should we support it or not? How do we define the peculiar line of 'selling your body' (if I seem biased, it's because I am)? Who is exploiting who here? Or are 2 (or more) consenting adults entering into an agreed service purchase? Argh, so many questions! What I do know as a responsible feminist is that we don't want the adult sex workers (note distinction from traffiked humans) who live this life, work this work, making any of the decisions over their lives.
Today is the first ever United Nations International Day of the Girl Child (The term 'Girl Child' here is used to highlight the particular struggles young women and girls under 18) . Today's International Day of the Girl was lobbied for by the people behind the Because I am a Girl...campaign Plan UK in order to have a “day in recognition of girls' rights and accomplishments”.
Plan UK hope, through new awareness, to generate more signatures for their petition to put pressure on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to “lead action by world leaders to make girls' education a priority.”
Global statistics show that 1 in 3 girls are denied a secondary education due to poverty, discrimination and violence. If that doesn't convince you to add your signature how about the statistic that every 3 seconds a girl is coaxed, coerced or forced into a marriage?
Social isolation is to be added Image: G Kovacs
It has been announced today that the definition of domestic abuse will be changed in March 2013 to include the term 'coercive control'. The addition means a pattern of behaviour that is psychologically, emotionally, socially or financially controlling can be considered as a form of domestic abuse.
This will be added to the 2004 definition of domestic abuse: "any incident of threatening behaviour, or abuse between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality"
A consultation on the definition of domestic violence is being launched by the government today. The main point of discussion is whether or not the definition should include the term ‘coercive control’. In addition to psychological abuse the government will be looking at widening the definition to include under-18s
The current definition of government definition of domestic violence is:
“any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse [psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional]4 between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
The family planning charity BPAS is preparing for the Christmas party season. The charity says women may find it harder to obtain the Morning After Pill over the season, instead BPAS are offering to post the pill.
Women will have to fill in an online form, speak to a nurse and the content of their uterus is in the hands of the Royal Mail or courier.
As with all projects that allow women to take control of their reproductive rights this scheme has its critics. The campaign has been described as a ‘cynical marketing exercise’. Business Studies was not available at my school but I am at a loss here. How is giving away an expensive medication free to those a nurse has deemed suitable could be cynical or a marketing exercise.
I didn’t notice it at first. Every time there’s a change in policy, or an opinion poll comes out, or a song reaches number 1 in the charts someone remarks on mothers and what Mumsnet thinks. So Gove and Cameron’s accusation of the unions plotting against mums kind of washed over me.
My brain has kind of filed this kind of mum discussion next to tirades ending in ‘won’t someone think of the children?’ These are stored next to the dull annoyance I feel every time I see “That’s why mum’s go to Iceland”. Unfair? Yes. Obviously we should be thinking of both mums and children and families. However as a single, childless woman it often seems I count for nothing.
Let’s save that point for another time.
Instead let’s focus on the crazed short-sightedness of Gove and Cameron. Gove’s claims that the unions, “want mothers to give up a day's work or pay for expensive childcare” is beyond bizarre.
Last week, just as the Movember moustaches began to take root (really, you haven’t shaved all month? Ok…I like your shadow moustache), a story came out in the news connecting the contraceptive pill to the rise in Western countries prostate cancer cases.
Newspapers and blogs reported that careless women had been taking their contraceptive pill and then peeing. Peeing everywhere. Contributing to a rise in the water’s oestrogen levels, water men drink. This in turn meant more men seemed to be developing prostate cancer. Well, you could you sci-fi it?