Thursday, April 19, 2018


On February 14, the Moroccan parliament adopted a new law on violence against women that criminalizes harassment, aggression, sexual exploitation or ill treatment of women. In addition, the new law obligates public authorities to take preventive measures and provides new protection mechanisms for survivors.  The adoption of the law came after 5 years since it was first drafted in 2013, and was ratified by 112 votes. 
Under the new law, tougher penalties are imposed for some forms of violence in the penal code when committed within the family. The law criminalizes forced marriage with a penalty of six months to one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 to 30.000 dirhams, or one of these two penalties. Furthermore, it imposes penalties for sexual harassment in public spaces and cyber networks.  
The law includes positive provisions, such as a definition of violence against women “any act based on gender discrimination that entails physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm to a woman” and it provides protection and safety orders for violence survivors. These orders can only be issued during a criminal prosecution or after a criminal conviction and they can be cancelled if spouses reconcile which will only add more pressure on women to drop such orders. 
Although the achievement is unfortunately far to be complete due to several shortcomings within the law, it’s still a positive step towards protection of women’s rights and curbing VAW in Morocco. Feminist concerns remain in regard to the law of violence against women, which is seen as not protecting women victims of violence and does not raise the question of prevention.  Furthermore, there is a critique that the proposals from the feminist movement have not been taken into consideration in the recent legislation, and no sufficient public debate has been engaged.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018


On 27th of February, the Lower House’s Labour Committee submitted several amendments on the draft Labour Law to the Parliament to make it more gender sensitive. They included a two-day paternity leave for fathers, the presence of daycare centres at workplaces if the total number of worker’s children is 15 or more and the introduction of new laws that criminalize gender-based wage discrimination.
Social attitudes and legal barriers posed by the traditional roles of women in society, the lack of daycare centers and gender-based wage discrimination adversely affect women’s participation in labour market. Jordan was ranked 138 out of 144 countries in women’s economic participation and 142 out of 144 countries in labour force participation at the Global Gender Gap Index issued on November 2 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the year 2017. 
In spite of these important steps, there are still remaining obstacles that slow down the progress towards gender equality. We hope the new amendments will be ratified to help the increase of women’s labour participation, reduce gender inequalities, decrease pay and earning gaps and foster the idea of joint parental responsibility between women and men.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Euromed Feminist Initiative urges measures towards improving the status of gender equality in the Euro-Med region.

Euromed Feminist Initiative IFE-EFI welcomes the new law amendments and recommendations in Morocco, Palestine and Jordan and expresses its full solidarity with women’s rights, civil society and human rights organizations and movements and their continuous efforts to attain equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination in law. The Gender Regional Platform, with policy recommendations to the decision makers that was developed during a one year process in the frame of the project “Gender Regional Platform” funded by the European Union and gathered over 1000 representatives from women’s rights CSOs, CBOs, gender experts, academics and researchers with decision makers and legislators, identified four priority areas of work among which ending discrimination and violence against women. Consequently, IFE-EFI appreciates the recent amendments as important steps to improve women’s rights status in the region and hope that these amendments will lead to annulling all discriminative articles in national legislations existing mainly in the Personal Status Laws and Penal Codes, such as the concept of guardianship in law, inheritance law and the current legal exceptions in the child marriage laws in Morocco, Palestine and Jordan, as well as legislation that exempts the rapist from sanctions if he marries his victim in Palestine. 

The  Gender Regional Platform underlines the necessity to strengthen the connection between legislations and actual implementation with follow up mechanisms.  Legislation is needed to challenge and change the deeply rooted gender-based discrimination against women but it must be translated in concrete actions. The Declaration of the Euro-Med Women’s Rights Civil Society Conference, which was handed to the Ministers in the Euro-Med Region during their 4th UfM Ministerial Meeting on women’s rights on 27th November 2017 in Cairo, urges and proposes concrete and tangible measures towards improving the status of gender equality in the Euro-Med region.
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Educating for Accountability 5/5

Adopting processes of accountability will require education. The International Rescue Committee (2013), for example, have developed a curriculum for educating men about accountability processes.  For them, accountability ‘is an active process where men listen to the needs of women and recognise when they act in a harmful manner, even unintentionally’ (page 14). They differentiate between personal accountability, where facilitators are required to monitor their attitudes, beliefs and practice, and relational accountability, where facilitators are expected to challenge power differences between men and women.

In terms of practical measures, Macomber (2014: 8) has five recommendations for integrating men as allies in anti-violence work that should form part of any curriculum on accountability: require newcomers to receive training and education before stepping into key activist roles; cap men’s speaking fees; link men’s organisations to women’s organisations and groups; institutionalise a process to address issues of privilege internally; and reconceptualise accountability to include an emphasis on building gender equity. 

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Forms of accountability 4/5

Barone (2007) distinguishes between three different kinds of accountability: symbolic accountability, practical accountability and structural accountability. Ideally, all three forms of accountability should be developed.
Symbolic accountability is where men let women know what they are doing and seek women’s feedback. Margaret (2010) talks about the importance of allies making their work transparent to those they are in alliance with.
Practical accountability is where men develop relationships with individual feminist women in their lives through ongoing conversations and alliances around particular projects. This involves making agreements with particular women about their aims and intentions and making a commitment to follow through on specific undertakings (Stoltenberg 2013).
At the international level, MenEngage (2014) have developed standards and guidelines on this practical level of accountability. For them, being accountable means:
• Being critically aware of one’s own power and privilege. 
• Being open to constructive criticism. 
• Being responsible for one’s actions. 
• Following through on what is said and done
•  Taking action to address behaviour or beliefs that go against MenEngage Principles, by individuals and groups both inside and outside the workplace. •  Openly acknowledging any harm caused, and developing and implementing solutions to make amends (page 4).
Structural accountability entails organisational relationships between the men’s programs and women’s services. One form of structural accountability would be for men‘s organisations to incorporate a women’s advisory group or a women’s caucus into the structure of their organisation. This would ensure that they are connected to the intended beneficiaries of their work (Macomber 2014).
MenEngage (2014) stress the importance of accountability as being proactive, whereby men take individual responsibility to behave in ways that are consistent with MenEngage Principles and Code of Conduct. Standards of accountability that relate specifically to relationships with women’s services require that MenEngage members:
•  Shall seek collaboration, open dialogue and constructive criticism from women’s rights organisations and other key stakeholders.
 •  Shall engage women’s rights groups and other key stakeholders to improve programs and initiatives on gender equality. 
•  Shall promote women’s leadership within the organisation, and/or include representatives from women’s rights organistaions on their boards or directors or similar governing bodies. (page 9).
When Men Against Sexual Assault (MASA) was formed in the 1990s, we developed formal accountability structures with Centres Against Sexual Assault in Melbourne. Before we organised a campaign against men’s violence, we consulted with CASAs about their views about such a campaign. When we ran workshops with men about men’s violence against women, we invited feminist women to observe our engagement with the men and give feedback and comments at the end of the workshop (Pease 1995).
It is important that profeminist organisations make their commitment to accountability to women’s services explicit on their external websites and materials. They should acknowledge the contribution and leadership of women in challenging men’s violence. They should also encourage local groups who are developing anti-violence projects to develop dialogue with women’s groups in their communities (Bojin 2012).
It is also important for organisations engaging men to develop processes within their workplaces to address male privilege and power (Macomber 2014). Work undertaken elsewhere on undoing privilege and advancing gender equality in public sector organisations (Flood and Pease 2005) is relevant here. Naming and critically interrogating men’s privilege in the context of an intersectional analysis provides a valuable framework for work towards gender equality within anti-violence organisations. Such an analysis provides a basis for designing training programs for men. These programs should include content that examines how men’s gender interests are socially constructed and psychically embedded, critique the routine accomplishment and reproduction of privilege and identify and encourage gender egalitarian orientations, identities and relations (Flood and Pease 2005: 134-135).

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Monday, April 9, 2018

The contested nature of accountability 3/5

One of the premises of accountability in campaigns against oppression is that groups who have been oppressed are in the best position to understand injustice because they are more able to understand the realities of oppression (Temasese et al. 1998). This is why they must be leaders in campaigns to address that oppression to ensure ally actions match the needs and desires of a marginalised population (La Caze 2008; Cohen 2012). 
While the concept of accountability is much talked about in the movement against men’s violence against women, it is a much misunderstood concept. Mudge (cited in Goldrick-Jones 2002) says that accountability is a complicated and contested process. Lack of clarity about the meaning of accountability, and lack of agreement about the importance of it, generates tensions between men’s anti-violence organisations and women’s services (Goldrick-Jones 2002; Funk 2008; Macomber 2014).

In the context of men’s violence against women, the most important dimension of accountability is that men involved in violence prevention should be accountable to women and should be guided by the leadership of women. This entails seeking feedback from women, hearing what they have to say and being receptive to their comments (Margaret 2010; Macomber 2014). To assist men in this regard, Funk (2008) poses the following questions:
• How do we keep the voices of women survivors in the work we do? • What does respecting women’s leadership really look like? How do men do it? •  What are the models that men have of other men truly respecting women’s leadership?   (Funk 2008, p. 166).
One way to frame accountability is to ask the questions: Who benefits from my work and who is potentially harmed by my work?  Part of the reason for accountability is to address the interests of women who are impacted by men’s violence.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ceija Stojka a gypsy Holocaust survivor, writer, poet and self-taught artist

Ceija Stojka (1933-2013) was a Roma (Gypsy) Holocaust survivor, writer, poet and self-taught artist who raised awareness of the plight of Roma people under the Nazis and in Europe today. Her paintings are vibrant affirmations of life.

StojkaCeija was one of six children born to Roman Catholic Gypsy parents. The Stojka family wagon travelled with a caravan that spent winters in the Austrian capital of Vienna and summers in the countryside. The Stojkas belonged to a tribe of Gypsies called the Lowara Roma, who made their living as itinerant horse traders.

Hundreds of thousands of Roma were rounded up and killed during World War II. As a young girl, Ceija was interned in concentration camps from which only five members of her extended family of over 200 survived.

Ceija-Stojka(1)Aged 12 when she was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, she bore her identification number tattooed on her arm for the rest of her life. Returning to Austria with a brother and sister, she lived for many years selling carpets before taking up painting. Most of her work depicts the death camps, but there are also idyllic pictures of family life before the War.

Ceija’s autobiography, We Live in Seclusion (1988) drew international attention to the plight of the Roma in the past and present. She also features in the film documentary Forget Us Not, to be released in 2013, which recalls the persecution and deaths of the millions of non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust – from the Roma and Sinti people who were targeted for complete annihilation to hundreds of religious people killed for speaking out. These lesser known voices are brought to life through historical footage and the stories of survivors.

Ceija-Stojka(2)The Budapest-based European Roma Cultural Foundation, describing Stokja’s concentration-camp themed paintings as reflecting “entrenched sorrow in the bodies and spirit of the victims”, called her a key figure in the history, art and literature of Romani culture in Europe.

In 2010, after a spate of Roma hate-killings in Hungary, Ceija asked a gathering of Hungarian university and high-school students, “How is it possible at the beginning of the new century that the Roma population is still humiliated and maltreated – and sometimes killed – for the sole reason of being Roma? Let my grandchildren live!”

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Obstacles to men becoming allies 2/5

There are important challenges to identity construction and obstacles facing members of privileged groups who become involved in solidarity campaigns (Macomber 2012). Being an ally involves a process of reconstituting one’s identity (Ferguson 1998). Whereas for oppressed groups, this involves a positive affirmation of who they are, for those in privileged groups, it means creating what can be experienced as a negative identity. Such a process involves a critical interrogation of the moral superiority embedded in privileged identities. 
It is not uncommon for men who speak out against men’s violence to be referred to as gender traitors. Rather than being experienced as a criticism, however, this could be embraced by male allies as a positive identity. That is, creating a traitorous identity (Bailey 1998; Ferguson 1998; Pease 2010) is a way in which men can challenge patriarchal manhood. Male gender traitors are those that refuse to reproduce their privilege and who challenge the world views that dominant groups are expected to adhere to.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018


           We, Bebaak Collective and concerned individuals who have been following the triple talaq judgement in various proportions and have been associated with various social movements, urge our fellow women’s groups and human rights groups to reflect on the role of conservative right wing forces in the aftermath of the triple talaq judgment of 22nd August 2017. The honorable Supreme Court of India invalidated the practice of instant one-sided triple talaq in its three–two division bench historic judgment implying that the Muslim couple continues to be wedded even when the man utters talaq arbitrarily. However, the standing government took a step ahead and introduced a Bill criminalizing the practice and bestows power in the hands any third party to complaint against the errant husband; this is a blatant move to criminalize the community without taking cognizance of the living struggles of Muslim women or questions of their social security. This Bill is introduced without going into any participatory process of consultation with women’s groups, or with expert committee. Besides, it is leaving no stone unturned to pass the Bill, and whoever critiques government’s move is being maligned.

            In the aftermath of this Bill, there is also serious backlash from various progressive voices and incessant mobilization of humongous numbers of Muslim women by conservative Muslim forces often led by AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) and other religious organizations, who are claiming the streets proclaiming 'Islam is in danger' and vociferously challenges the criminalizing Bill as is introduced by the government. These images of women occupying streets bring back the memory of Shah Bano’s times when Muslim men took out rallies demanding an overturn of the Shah Bano judgement of 1986. We strongly oppose the criminalization of Bill, but are not against interference in the Muslim Personal Law, which curbs women’s rights.

          While we unequivocally resist government’s move to criminalize the practice as we firmly believe that gender rights cannot be equated with criminalization of violence, we equally resist the role of conservative Muslim voices who are mobilizing women to defend the patriarchal practices and equating women’s rights with protection of the religion. Our engagement with AIMPLB has been for several years now, and it is astounding how they are mobilizing women now and did not occupy streets to protest beef ban or demand implementations of  Sachar Committee report that talks about educational, livelihood and economic condition of minority women. This framing of Muslim women within the context of marriage reinforces marriage institution as the sole contention of the women’s lives and marital crisis as the primary sites of violence going beyond the economic exploitation or other structural violence that disempowers her.

             We strongly believe that the right wing groups have united with various political parties and religious organizations to oppress the voices of all the progressive Muslim women who created democratic spaces for themselves, are talking differently and opposing the bill from a gender rights perspective, which is indeed away from the religious perspective and does not talk about taking pride in sharia. AIMPLB along with all other religious groups drew a conspiracy and mobilized Muslim women in the name of religion, by giving a call, Islam Khatre Mein Hai which is not just problematic but also propagandic as it sidelines the women’s issues and highlights the religious faith. Whenever women stepped and voiced their struggles, their issues have been forcibly shadowed by the arguments of ‘threat to religion’.  These groups have become successful in implementing their propaganda by mobilizing women to support the rallies and post photos of themselves saying ‘My Sharia My Pride’, who claim to be progressive and feminists. This is not just saddening but also threatening to the struggles of all Muslim Women who have been fighting against the patriarchal practices that occur under the blanket of religion by questioning the Personal Law and religious groups and also repressive praxis of state sponsored violence.

            We also believe that these majoritarian right wing groups feed the minoritarian right wings and give them strength to exhibit their tokenistic approach towards women’s rights by pushing away women’s voices in leadership/decision-making roles, in total. The role of AIMPLB, religious groups and political parties in the issues of Muslim women threatens the decades of Muslim Women Movement’s struggles and tries to further oppress Muslim women.

           In this conundrum, government’s equating of gender rights with retribution and AIMPLB’s face as the protector of Islam poses political impasses. The right wing government threatens criminalization which inadvertently makes Muslim women more vulnerable and treats them as the pawn in their larger Hindutva agenda, the conservative voices within the community move to protect religion, equating reforms in Personal Law with debilitation of faith and religion. While each of the stakeholders shows concern for gender rights and poses numerical strength to advocate its agenda, the history of women’s movement, which has imagined and re-imagined social realities of women, is getting muted. It is the connivance of the Hindu right wing forces and the conservatives of the community that mars the complexity of Muslim women's lived realities, discredits the female leadership of the community and also erodes the democratic spaces that have been created by them. We seek our fellow groups and concerned individuals to introspect the way things have unfolded and imagine newer ways in which gender justice can be articulated.

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The meaning of being an ally and being accountable 1/5

The premise of this paper is that it is inappropriate for men to take on leadership roles in violence prevention. Being an ally means having a supporting role in relation to campaigns under women’s leadership rather than as leaders or equal partners.  This is because of men’s dominance and privilege and the structural gender inequalities within which men’s violence takes place. 
Ayvazian (1995: 1) defines an ally as ‘a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she or he receives the benefit’.  Similarly, Borshuk (2004) defines ally activism as ‘outgroup activism’, where those involved are not direct beneficiaries. This is to differentiate allies from beneficiary activists, which is a term coined by Myers (2008) to describe people whose interests are directly impacted by social movements.
Margaret (2010) raises the question whether it is possible to proclaim yourself as an ally, as opposed to be defined as such by those you are in solidarity with. The Women of Color Caucus (cited in Messner et al. 2015) advise men that their ally badge runs out at the end of the day and that they have to give it back and strive to earn it again each day.  Thus I argue that it is more appropriate for men to refer to themselves as ‘aspiring allies’, as this is a state of ongoing political and personal development. However, even with aspiring allies, there are differing motivations and orientations.
Edwards (2006) differentiates between aspiring allies for self interest, aspiring allies for altruism and aspiring allies for social justice. Aspiring allies for self interest see themselves primarily as protectors of women, especially the women they have personal relationships with. Aspiring allies for altruism see themselves primarily as heroes and rescuers who are endeavouring to assuage their guilt for the privilege they have. Whereas, aspiring allies for social justice understand their privilege and complicity in the reproduction of oppression and work towards gender equality. Male allies should strive for the latter form of alliance with women.
In support of this more progressive form of ally activism, Macomber (2006) offers seven tips for allies:
•  Remember that your role is to support beneficiary activists, not call the shots. 
• Listen to beneficiary activists and learn from them about the key issues the movement is confronting. 
• Ally activists should be reflective about the privilege and power that they bring to activist spaces. 
•  If you are interested in taking on a key activist role in the movement, ask beneficiary activists what they think it should look like and who can best serve the movement. 
•  Create space to do ‘ally accountability work’ where beneficiary activists can hold you accountable and tell you about how your privilege ‘shows up’ in the movement.
• Be open and receptive to feedback and critique and resist the impulse to get defensive. 
•  Although it is important for beneficiary activists to be able to tell allies how their privilege shows up, it is important that beneficiary activists do not shoulder all of the responsibility for teaching allies about their privilege.
There are parallels between men becoming aspiring allies against men’s violence and white people becoming aspiring  anti-racist allies (Kessaris 2006; Green and Sonn 2006; Sonn and Green 2006). Anti-racist activists also talk about the ways in which white allies may unwittingly perpetuate racism and colonialism. They also emphasise the importance of allies critically interrogating their privilege as a necessary precondition to being allies. Similarly, in relation to gay politics, aspiring straight allies explore how to address their homophobia and heterosexual privilege as part of the process of becoming allies to GBLTI people (Berkowitz 2004; Eichlet 2007; Jip 2007).

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Lacking historical understanding of violence against women and men’s complicity in it 9/9

Another concern that women have is that many men who become involved in violence prevention do not do their ‘homework’ and often do not know anything about the history of the women’s movement response to violence against women and have little knowledge about the structural causes of men’s violence (Macomber 2014). Consequently, even with good intentions, they may end up reproducing the gender inequalities which cause the violence they are working against.
Thus, it is necessary for dominant groups to educate themselves about their own privilege and power (Temasese et al. 1998; Pease 2010; Macomber 2014). Men need to understand their role in the reproduction of gender inequality and their shared responsibility for the continuation of the structural gender relations and the patriarchal culture which supports men’s violence against women (Pease 2015). Such an understanding is essential if men are to become allies to women and to implement principles and practices that ensure their accountability to women’s services.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Impacting on women’s space 8/9

It has been demonstrated that the presence of even a small number of men in women’s organisations and campaigns has an impact on group dynamics (Schacht and Ewing 2004). Castelino (2012) has explored the issue of how the role of the family violence sector changes when men become engaged in the prevention of violence against women. She is concerned with how men’s involvement influences the ways in which violence against women is understood and how it shapes strategies of violence prevention. She argues that men’s involvement shifts the focus from addressing structural analyses of violence against women to developing new forms of masculinity. Linder and Johnson (2015) also interviewed feminist women who were working with men in violence prevention programs. They found that many of the feminists they interviewed regarded many of the men as operating through a framework of ‘enlightened sexism’. In their view, many men in violence prevention programs perpetuated sexism through both their own behaviour and through their failure to challenge the sexist practices of other men.
It has been widely reported that the presence of men in mixed-gender activism leads women to be very careful about what they say (Baily 2012; Castelino 2012). Women report that they modify their speech and behaviour so that men won’t get upset. This reflects the gendered expectation that women should care about men’s feelings and avoid upsetting them (McMahon 1999). Phylis Frank (cited in Messner et al. 2015) sees women’s praise of men as part of the process of women’s socialisation into supporting men and making them feel good. It should also be noted that women are often strongly sanctioned if they do not support and affirm men.

There is evidence that when men get involved in feminist campaigns, they often dominate in meetings. Linder and Johnson (2015) refer to ‘micro-aggressions’ as the form of men’s dominating and abusive behaviours, where they talk over women in meetings, assume a sense of superiority in relation to strategies and campaigns and use their male privilege to further their views. Such concerns expressed by women activists include the following: interrupting women when they are talking, dominating discussions and taking up the majority of time in meetings, presuming to have more expertise and knowledge than they do, receiving more praise than women activists, gaining greater status and money for the work that they do and in some instances, sexually objectifying women colleagues (Macomber 2014). This is not an argument against mixed-sex groups organising against men’s violence. However, the concerns raised in this paper need to be addressed if the potential harms of aspiring allies are to be mitigated in such groups.
Further, women are sometimes challenged about why they want women only spaces when men are interested in being involved (Castelino 2012; Goldrick-Jones 2002; Ruby 2001). In the work of engaging men, it is important to support the continuation of women-only campaigns in challenging men’s violence.

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