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China Seeks End to Public Shaming of Suspects –

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

"According to the state-run media, the Ministry of Public Security has ordered the police to stop parading suspects in public and has called on local departments to enforce laws in a 'rational, calm and civilized manner,'" Andrew Jacobs reports. Chinese police are under scrutiny with increasing civil unrest being expressed online. "Last October, the police in Henan Province took to the Internet, posting photographs of women suspected of being prostitutes. […] The police later said they were not punishing the women, but only seeking their help in the pursuit of an investigation."

The Chinese public was not placated: "Why aren’t corrupt officials dragged through the streets?" an Internet posting read. "These women are only trying to feed themselves." Public shaming was embraced by the Communist Party. If you think America is better, think again: public shaming is actually being considered in Massachusetts.

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Pushing ahead with sex education (via NewStraitsTimes)

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Pushing ahead with sex education (via NewStraitsTimes)

A pilot program for a new sex education curriculum in Malaysia is moving forward with hopes that it will prevent unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and lower STI rates. The program, called "I'm In Control," is a big step forward in the country, as its "public is ultra-sensitive about this subject, and some would rather sweep it under the carpet," according to Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, a government official and a proponent of the new program. "Once upon a time it was a taboo subject," Shahrizat said, "but today it's on the Net. So, we really have no choice—it's either our module or the pornographic materials available online."

"Through the pilot programme, Shahrizat hoped the teaching of sexual reproductive health would gain general acceptance," Aniza Damis reports, insisting that the programme, funded by the UN's Population Fund, isn't intended to promote promiscuity or even experimentation, both common fears in his country.

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The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights |

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights |

We don't always know much about the people we want to help; that's why it's important that we listen to them just as much, if not more, than we talk to them. Meena Seshu, co-founder of SANGRAM, a rights-based organization that helps vulnerable groups in India to mobilize and protect themselves against HIV/AIDS, discovered this when she first spent time with sex workers. She found that when she cleared her vision from the clouding of her background, she saw a community of women who knew how to manage themselves, their families, and their clients. They didn't need to be taught anything – all they needed were the proper tools, and they could manage the epidemic as well. This experience lead to the creation of SANGRAM's bill of rights – which includes "People have the right to say YES or NO to things that concern them," and "People have the right to reject harmful social norms." A bill of rights exceptional not only for HIV/AIDS vulnerable populations, but for everyone, everywhere.

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Lying to get sex: Is it rape? – Violence Against Women –

Posted: July 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments »

An Arab man in Jerusalem who pretended to be Jewish for the duration of wooing a woman into a quick shag now faces 18 months in prison for rape. It's rape, Jerusalem District Court Judge Tzvi Segal said, because, "If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated." Therefore, the precedent in Israel is set: lying to get sex is officially rape. Israeli public defender Elkana Laist said the ruling opens "the door to a rape conviction every time a person lies regarding details of his identity." Don't you just feel all warm and fuzzy inside now?

As Tracy Clark-Flory reports, "U.S. law has expanded to allow for rape by fraud, but interpretations are fairly strict." In other words, only certain lies about one's identity—such as pretending to be someone's spouse—can be considered rape in the US. But in a theocracy like (so many countries in) the Middle East, I guess you're just as married to your religion.

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French National Assembly approves ban on face veils –

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French National Assembly approves ban on face veils –

In what I hope will be judged by history as one France's most idiotic moves ever, "The French lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing face-covering veils in a public place," Alison Culliford reports. "[T]he ban would affect only an estimated 1,900 of the millions of Muslim women in France," like Kenza Drider, an outspoken critic who said, "The government can accept my decision or not, I am not an outlaw. If I’m fined by the police, I will take it to human rights in the name of my freedom."

French politicians are calling the ban a victory for "values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals." Y'know, like the freedom to choose one's own clothing. If the new ban survives a test of constitutionality, wearing a veil (a niqab) and "covering one's face in a public place will be subject to a fine of about $185 or community service."

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Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

Posted: July 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

This week, "some in Uganda are not waiting for the [Anti-Homosexuality 2009] bill to pass into law: a priest has vanished after delivering a sermon urging compassion for gays, and a young GLBT equality activist, who had also disappeared, has been discovered dead—his head severed from his body and thrown down a latrine." Although mainstream US media outlets have been silent on this issue, "[o]ne or more suspects had been arrested before the head’s discovery, according to a news report that has subsequently been posted at YouTube. The report noted that 'blood stained clothing' was discovered along with the head."

Killan Melloy reports, "The dismembered head of Pasikali Kashusbe, who, together with his partner—referred to only as "Abbey"—worked with GLBT equality group Integrity Uganda." Make absolutely no mistake: such horrors are partly the result of American conservatives' spewing hatred.

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Update: SayenCroWolf points us to this retraction by Box Turtle Bulletin: “We’ve worked hard at BTB in establishing our credibility, and I believe that a key component of that is also to maintain an atmosphere of transparency and accountability when we get it wrong. Along the way, I’ve learned that some sources on the Internet are trustworthy, and others are not worth the electricity it takes to power their servers.” It sounds like there’s still some mystery over what happened in Uganda but, either way, I’m really glad to see how quickly reputable sources can self-correct themselves when they receive new information. Good on you, BTB, and thanks to SayenCroWolf for the stunningly fast pointer, too!

Update: xMech points us to an even fuller explanation from Box Turtle Bulletin. Thanks!

2010 World Cup: Jemele Hil on HIV-Positive, Co-Ed Soccer Leagues – ESPN Soccernet

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on 2010 World Cup: Jemele Hil on HIV-Positive, Co-Ed Soccer Leagues – ESPN Soccernet

South Africa has garnered much praise, internationally, for its hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But in a suburb of Johannesburg, other soccer games are taking place, where the players are all female and all wear jerseys with bold lettering "HIV Positive." It's a game played by HIV patients from around the city and surrounding area, with doctors and activists in attendance, organized to help return some visibility to the issue of HIV in Africa generally and South Africa in specific. If everyone is looking at soccer, then HIV activists will play soccer. South Africa has the third highest rate of HIV among adult populations of any nation in the world – some 18% of adult South Africans are HIV positive. And while the current administration has generally had proactive and forward moving policies on this, activists and doctors fear that the World Cup has taken both attention and funds away from the struggle with HIV.

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Korean Sociological Image #42: Sunset for the Red She Devils? | James Turnbull

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Korean Sociological Image #42: Sunset for the Red She Devils? | James Turnbull

The story begins with a single-panel cartoon, showing a white woman wearing a low-cut top, jeans and flip-flops walking in one direction on a street, and a Korean woman wearing a high-necked t-shirt, very short shorts and heels walking in the other direction. A dotted line indicates that the white woman's vision is glued to the Korean woman's legs, and a thought balloon above her head reads "Geez, could you show any MORE skink?" A similar line-of-site depiction runs from the Korean woman's eyes to the white woman's chest, but the words in her thought bubble are in Korean. James Turnbull, the author of the article tells us they transliterate to "yahada" which means "too revealing" or "too sexual." This clash between Western and Korean ideas of what makes women's clothing "too skimpy," combined with the fact that pushing the boundaries on these norms doesn't fix underlying problems of sexual and gender repression or body image, makes for another great article from SexGenderBody.

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World Cup Fever: Has it Really Led to an Increase in Trafficking?

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on World Cup Fever: Has it Really Led to an Increase in Trafficking?

"Mainstream media outlets have been reporting that 40,000 women have been trafficked into South African brothels for the World Cup," Audacia Ray writes. "That’s a pretty horrifying statistic—except that there simply aren’t any good citations that confirm it." That statistic has, in fact, been a favorite of alarming news reports since 2006, and Laura Augustín points out that it was just as uncorroborated then as it is now.

"To be fair," Audacia says, "there is some critique of the World Cup trafficking scare happening in mainstream media…but the voices of South Africans, and particularly people who work in the sex industry, were entirely absent from the articles." According to South African Researchers Marlise Richter and Tamlyn Monson, "there is no evidence" that the World Cup increased trafficking crimes. Instead, they say, it's some people's expectation.

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STI Rates Among Swingers

Posted: June 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on STI Rates Among Swingers

New data from health clinics in The Netherlands shows 12% of people practice swinging, indicating far more couples swing (consensually engage in sex with different partners) than believed. In America, estimates put swingers at 2% of the population, but if the Dutch numbers are any indication, American swingers are way more prevalent. Also, Cory Silverberg writes, "swingers, particularly swingers over 45, had a higher prevalence of STIs when tested at the community clinics."

In fact, swingers "had the second highest rate of combined STIs" among the groups considered, which "included men who have sex with men, sex workers, [and] straight people who weren't swingers." Evidently, STIs don't only target sex workers, despite contrary claims from anti-porn activists. "The researchers rightly point out that swingers may be a population public health folks should start paying some attention to," Cory says, offering common-sense advice about STI risk.

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Update: Cory Silverberg wrote an interesting followup to his piece about this study, which includes more figures and notes that “sex workers as a group are no more homogeneous than any other group, and no more broken than actors in LA or psychiatrists in ERs.”