Some news items

First up this piece about a Saudi all-girl rock band, The Accolade, who’s music seems pretty good to me. Saudi Arabia’s strict laws mean they can’t perform publically, have photo’s taken for album covers and rehearse in secret but the band members want to perform in private houses (that’s allowed) and record an album.

Not so good is the coverage of the claim that Arab men should sexually harass Israeli women as an act of “resistance to Zionism” which came from female Egyptian lawyer.

Interviewer: Egyptian lawyer Nagla Al-Imam has proposed that young Arab men should sexually harass Israeli girls wherever they may be and using any possible method, as a new means in the resistance against Israel….What is the purpose of this proposal of yours?

Nagla Al-Imam: This is a form of resistance. In my opinion, they are fair game for all Arabs, and there is nothing wrong with…

Interviewer: On what grounds?

Nagla Al-Imam: First of all, they violate our rights, and they “rape” the land. Few things are as grave as the rape of land. In my view, this is a new form of resistance.

Interviewer: As a lawyer, don’t you think this might expose Arab youth to punishment for violating laws against sexual harassment?

Nagla Al-Imam: Most Arab countries… With the exception of three or four Arab countries, which I don’t think allow Israeli women to enter anyway, most Arab countries do not have sexual harassment laws. Therefore, if [Arab women] are fair game for Arab men, there is nothing wrong with Israeli women being fair game as well.

Interviewer: Does this also include rape?

Nagla Al-Imam: No. Sexual harassment… In my view, the [Israeli women] do not have any right to respond. The resistance fighters would not initiate such a thing, because their moral values are much loftier than that. However if such a thing did happen to them, the [Israeli women] have no right to make any demands, because this would put us on equal terms – leave the land so we won’t rape you. These two things are equal.

More here.

Back in the UK, the economic cost of domestic violence is now estimated to be £5.8 billion. This breaks down to being £2.7bn in direct costs to business (through loss of productivity, absence, turnover of employees etc) and £3.1bn to the public sector in medical and social services. If anyone is unswayed by the “women have rights” argument, try “the economy suffers” one instead.

Quick other round ups – apparently the government are considering changing sentencing guidelines for women to acknowledge family roles. There are reports that the female journalist shot dead in Somalia felt under pressure to go there to “prove her commitment” and because she felt there was an indirect threat to her employment contract if she didn’t. War reporting is a famously masculinist, “macho” occupation.

To her sister, mother and fiance Kate Peyton said

“She had been told there were doubts about her commitment to her job, she completely saw it that she had to go to prove that she was committed. When it comes to foreign news journalism, you can earn a lot of points by going to a dangerous place.”…”She explained to me that she was under pressure. She said ‘This will prove to him [her bureau chief] that I am committed…She explained to me that there had been a conversation about her contract.She saw this as a very direct link.”

From Guardian

The WI is in an interesting position – first off they report from research on their members that half have suffered violence or sexual attack or know a victim, a third of these were domestic violence and 18% were rape or sexual assault. Secondly Harriet Harman is trying to recruit them to challenge traffickers of women for sexual purposes by reporting adverts in local newspapers to editors which may well advertise trafficked women. Ms Harman has already won the backing of The Newspaper Society for this initiative.

Meanwhile Professor Heidi Safia Mirza is warning that schools are beginning to see ethnicity achievement data as the way things are rather than what needs to be changed.

Race-based statistics feed into racial stereotypes which can themselves become “self-fulfilling prophecies”. “What happens is that the teachers begin to think about children of these backgrounds in a different way. These tables become lodged in every day thinking. We see structures that categorise black boys as failing and having bad behaviour – and then it’s borne out…We have moved from biological notions of innate differences in the 19th Century to religious, national and cultural notions of inborn differences now. For example, people say: ‘Blacks are good at sport; Chinese are good at maths and make good food; Indians have good business sense’.”

From The Guardian

And the BBC has coverage of some interesting victim blaming from Cambodia which talks about endemic violence against women, gang rape as “sport” and that women are to blame for domestic violence. Lovely!

And over at BlogHer is an obituary for Playgirl magazine although it may be more in the stream of we come to praise Caesar not to bury him.