Global Roundup: Brazil Election Trans Candidates, Jordan Women vs New Child Law, Remembering Trinbagonian Human Rights Advocate, Korea Deaf LGBT Activists, Disability Rights Advocates & Pandemic
Curated by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
Benny Briolli, a transgender councilwoman and candidate for Rio de Janeiro state deputy, attends a march in defence of religious freedom in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 9, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Trans candidates in Brazil’s divisive election cycle have been receiving increased threats and intimidation. Among more than 30 trans candidates tracked by the National Association of Travestis and Transgender People (ANTRA), about 80% have received threats or been intimidated during this election cycle period, said researcher Bruna Benavides.
Brazilian congressional hopeful Duda Salabert’s photo on newspapers have Nazi swastikas and profanities scribbled over them. The 41-year-old says all the threats are directly related to her identity as a trans woman, which has made her a target of scorn from right-wing groups.
Although political violence is on the rise in Brazil, there has been a dramatic rise in politicians targeted specifically for their gender identity ahead of the October 2nd election according to candidates and human rights groups. The candidates most targeted by political violence and threats tend to be Black women and LGBT people, especially trans women
Within the first 10 days of my campaign, I received four death threats, all signed with Nazi symbols. From 2018 to 2022, there was a huge increase in political violence against me. -Duda Salabert
Salabert and her family in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte now travel everywhere with a team of bodyguards, an armored car and bulletproof vests, measures she said cost around 20% of her campaign funds. City hall provided the security detail, but her campaign covers meals, fuel and other expenses. She notes how most other candidates do not have the same worries as her.
Despite the challenges, Salabert, who lost her job as a high school literature teacher in 2018 due to neo-Nazi threats, said such harassment was no match for her ambitions. In 2020, she received more votes than any other candidate for city council in Belo Horizonte's history.
Your threats won't intimidate us. I have all the potential to be the most voted person in history of this country. -Duda Salabert
Via The National
Three women in Jordan protested in front of the parliament this weekend against a new law that gives only fathers or male guardians a say over their children’s education. The provision is one of several amendments made to a child rights bill before it was passed by parliament on Monday. “I am a mother, not a child-rearing instrument,” read a placard carried by Avin Al Kurdi, one of the three women who responded to the call for a protest that was circulated on social media. She said the child rights law “comes on top of many other laws that exclude women.”
Many of the social legislation disadvantages women. Women in Jordan cannot give Jordanian citizenship to their children if the father is a foreigner. A divorced woman who remarries loses custody of her children from the previous marriage, but men who do the same do not. The consent of the father, not the mother, is required for children and minors to travel or to be admitted to hospital.
None of these issues were addressed by the new law. The initial version was modeled on the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but many clauses were removed before the government sent it to parliament, according to the Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs, an independent body headed by Queen Rania that played a key role in drafting the original bill. Activists say the result is a law that does not provide clarity on a number of issues, such as whether physical punishment of children is allowed, or what constitutes children’s privacy.
Ms Al Kurdi saya the law is “vague.” She and her fellow protesters stood on the pavement across the street from the parliament building in central Amman. They could have been easily missed in the hustle and bustle of the busy street if it were not for about six policemen and policewomen standing near them, with a police bus parked across the street. The call for a protest was carried by at least one Jordanian news site, as well as on social media, but no one else joined the protest. Haneen Assaf, another of the protesters, said many women in Jordan were afraid to speak out against their lack of rights.
I still think we are speaking for many. Women cannot continue to be excluded from making decisions when it comes to their children. -Haneen Assaf
Trinbagonian activist Hazel Brown at the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, March 16, 2017. Photo by UN Women/Ryan Brown on Flickr via Global Voices
On September 22nd, Hazel Brown, an outspoken advocate who led the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, passed away at the age of 80. Brown used her voice to advocate for issues connected to women’s rights including health, consumers’ rights and food security. In 2011, Brown was honoured with the Medal for the Development of Women for her dedicated efforts in advancing women’s rights in Trinidad and Tobago. Many people around the world paid her homage.
She was one of the pioneering voices of the Women’s liberation movement in the Caribbean and fought tirelessly for Women’s equality & liberation from misogyny & patriarchy. - Jason Jones, activist
Born in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port of Spain, Brown grew up in a family that was very involved in community work and believed in the positive changes activism could bring. After marrying at the age of 20, she joined the Housewives Association of Trinidad and Tobago (HATT), which was formed in 1971 with the aim of raising awareness about consumer rights. Three years later, its work would lead to the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards, the statutory body responsible for the quality of goods and services. HATT’s promotion of, and education around, breastfeeding also led to the formation of The Informative Breastfeeding Service (TIBS) in 1977, now called the Breastfeeding Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
Over the course of her life, she would advocate for the marginalized — from finding ways to allow HIV-positive women to support themselves, to heralding the benefits of solar box cookers as an environmentally friendly and affordable alternative for households, to advocating for the adoption of a National Gender Policy. She believed in sustainable development and the ability of NGOs to effect change at ground level. In 2017, the University of the West Indies (UWI) awarded Brown an honorary doctorate for her untiring work in women’s development, consumer rights and poverty eradication.
Hazel Brown was a gift to the Caribbean and the world. She was a world changer. […] Her analysis and advocacy was intersectional before the term became popular, because she was aghast at injustice of any kind. -Dr. Gabrielle Hosein, a colleague of Brown’s at UWI
Brown’s legacy will be remembered for generations to come as people in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world mourn her passing and reflect on her determination to create a more equitable world for marginalized groups.
Woo Ji-yang, left, and Kim Bo-seok, Korean Deaf LGBT activists, sign "LGBT" in Korean Sign Language. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Woo Ji-yang, 33, is a deaf gay man based in the southern city of Busan. For most of his life, he felt shame and humiliation when he introduced his sexual identity in Korean Sign Language (KSL). The manual sign for "gay" in KSL describes an act of anal intercourse between two men. Gyeonggi-based gay man Kim Bo-seok, 34, said he has lived through dilemma similar to that of Woo. He has been a bridge between the hearing and deaf community as a child of deaf parents and a sign language researcher studying KSL for his Ph.D., but the sign language expressions that contain overly sexualized and degrading connotations of sexual minorities have made him hesitate to come out and live freely for a long time.
Similarly, the sign language expression for "lesbian" in Korea visualizes a particular act of intercourse ― two women rubbing bodies against each other. Such expressions are often used with frowns upon sign translators' faces, although the sign does not contain any use of negative facial expressions by definition.
The two gathered with likeminded deaf sexual minorities in 2019 and formed an advocacy group titled Korean Deaf LGBT, to create alternative languages that they can use with pride and respect. Because they believe "language must be shaped by those who use it."
The group’s initial goal was to make four basic terms ― lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ― which make up the acronym, LGBT. However, once the project kicked off, they soon realized they needed a lot more than four expressions to create any meaningful discourse within the deaf LGBT community in the country. The group presented 37 new sign expressions associated with gender identity, sexual orientation and Korean queer culture in 2021.
Many new terms that are not in the KSL dictionary, including "queer," "non-binary," "coming out" and "ally," were newly created. The group also differentiated between HIV and AIDS, which had never been differentiated in the previous KSL dictionary, and have been wrongly used with frowns by translators. A total of 37 gender-neutral expressions that are free from prejudice against sexual minorities came to see the light of day in publications and websites.
The group has also been monitoring sign interpretations provided in events held by human rights groups since March of 2021 and provided detailed reports with suggestions to improve translation quality. Lee said that more feedback from deaf people on sign language interpretation services needs to be taken into account in order to advance the country's use of KSL. By the end of this year, Korean Deaf LGBT plans to file a formal complaint to the National Institute of Korean Language to remove the existing sign expressions, which they believe are based on prejudice against LGBT people, from the KSL dictionary.
In the future, the group wishes to bring more diverse deaf people together to lead human rights activism in the deaf community. All deaf people have double identities as minorities ― as they are deaf LGBT people, some could be deaf workers, deaf women and deaf youth ― and they wish to build a new momentum in the deaf human rights movement.
In reality, there is still a huge gap between the hearing and deaf communities. -Woo Ji-yang
Woo’s favorite KSL expression is "connection," which gestures a connection of two circles made with one's index fingers touching the thumbs of both hands.
GRID BY LIZ COULBOURN via Teen Vogue
Teen Vogue asked 11 disability rights advocates about their experiences during the various stages of the pandemic and what is next in the fight for disability rights and inclusion. As COVID restrictions are being lifted in the US and around the world, many Americans with chronic illness or disabilities — whose numbers have grown due to long COVID — feel they have been left behind, discarded as an acceptable consequence of the return to “normal.”
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, organizer and author, including Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, believes that the pandemic led to a mass consciousness-raising about disabled and chronically ill realities. She notes how because of the pandemic, all of a sudden things she had wanted for years became available including Target and her grocery store having elder/high-risk/immunocompromised hour right when they opened.
If society would have listened to disabled folks in the first place, our transition to a more digital world would have been smoother. I hope this showed us that accommodations benefit everyone. -Isabel Mavrides-Calderón, 17-year-old disability rights activist and organizer
Imani Barbarin, disability rights and inclusion activist, believes “disabled people have been cast aside by the pandemic and the government response.” She says that many people are more aware of ableism now, but it is too late for the hundreds of thousands of disabled lives that were lost because the virus was politicized and society views disabled people as disposable.
The activists shared what disability justice means to them and many said disability is not a monolith and linked it with other intersectional systems of oppression including homophobia, transphobia, white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism and more. Leah mentions how in police murders of BIPOC people, at least 50% of them are also disabled, Deaf or neurodivergent.
The structures of this country were created by white, cisgendered, nondisabled colonizers who were unable and unwilling to imagine a society that served BIPOC; queer and trans; or disabled lives. Disability justice is about justice for all people. It offers a better way forward, one which centers collective care and mutual aid, ensuring equitable access to all we need to experience and live in our joy, freedom, and humanity. -Sandy Ho, community organizer, activist, and resource mobilizer
In order to move forward, several activists highlight the importance of disabled people being centred in decision making processes, meaningful representation in media, health care systems being reformed and disabled people’s right to financial support. Mavrides-Calderón notes that the special education system for disabled folk has become a prison pipeline, particularly for disabled students with intersectional marginalized identities. 55% of white students with disabilities spend the majority of their time in general education classrooms, while only 30% of Black students do. This segregation of disabled students has created a society where only 75% of all disabled students graduate high school.
I believe it is imperative to focus on the use of ableism as the tool kit of white supremacy. Every single form of marginalization is meant to disable those at the mercy of this governing system. To build toward equity, we must unpack a history of eugenics, race science, and ableism that seeks to isolate, disenfranchise, and discard those deemed not valuable to society. -Imani Barbarin
Samiha Hossain (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She has experience working with survivors of sexual violence in her community, as well as conducting research on gender-based violence. A lot of her time is spent learning about and critically engaging with intersectional feminism, transformative justice and disability justice.
Samiha firmly believes in the power of connecting with people and listening to their stories to create solidarity and heal as a community. She refuses to let anyone thwart her imagination when it comes to envisioning a radically different future full of care webs, nurturance and collective liberation.