Global Roundup: Fighting divorce stigma in India, transphobia in Japan, and Amy Coney Barrett's nomination in the US

Compiled and written by Inaara Merani

PHOTO COURTESY OF MAHEVASH SHAIKH via HuffPost

In India, if a woman is not married before 30, it implies that there is something wrong with her or she’s past her “good days”. Another common belief in India is that divorce is shameful and wrong for women. Once a couple gets divorced, the woman gets branded as the divorceé forever. Take that in: only the woman is shamed for the divorce. What the fuck? Men do not experience anywhere near as much shunning, gossip or discrimination because of their divorce. Rather, as Mahevash Shaikh explains in this first-person essay about her experience with divorce, the burden is put onto women, The worst part of it is that it’s not just the men in society shunning these women, other women actively take on this role and spread the gossip. 

Divorce is a dishonor to the family name, especially for the parents of a female divorcée. A divorced woman is branded for life because she is no longer pure and is surely inadequate for not being able to keep her man. Even if she does manage to get remarried, people will always hold on to the fact that her first marriage died - Mahevash Shaikh 

It is time for Indian society to do better. First of all, no one should be shunned for their divorce. Marriage and divorce are private issues and should remain a matter for the couple to deal with. People need to stop poking their noses where they don’t belong! Second of all, no one takes into account the mental trauma that these individuals must go through. Not only may they be dealing with the mental and emotional stress from their divorce, but then they are also subjected to the emotional trauma of dealing with the gossip in their communities. This shit needs to stop! Women deserve better! 

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Credit: Still via YouTube / Triggernometry, Still via YouTube / Sky News, Still via YouTube / The Esther Krakue Show via gal-dem

The Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on right-wing BIPOC. There have been many Black people who have come forward and downplayed the institutionalized racism that Black people face daily. And honestly, what the fuck? It seems outrageous that BIPOC could support the fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, white supremacist (the list could literally go on forever) regime that is the United States presidency. Ava Vidal examines the rise of new media Black British right-wingers who downplay racism to aid their own careers in the UK, where the Conservative Party’s Boris Johnson mirrors many of Donald Trump’s list of bigotries and hate and the aftermath of Brexit is making life harder for communities of colour.

What is motivating these people? Do they honestly believe that once racists have rolled back the rights of those who look like them, they will have done enough to be spared? “And then they came for me” obviously rings no bells for them - Ava Vidal

She highlights that one right-wing, conservative Black person does not speak for every Black person and goes on to say that the Black people who are usually favoured as the “community spokespeople” by the mainstream media are those who downplay the reality of racism and anti-Blackness. Surprising as it may be, these supporters of right-wing governments do exist even though their race may be at the receiving end of racist and oppressive policy. 

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Yoriko Shono, a famous Japanese writer, has expressed sympathy for J.K. Rowling, the British author who has made transphobic comments. This is not the first time in that well-known women have come out as TERFs in Japan. Earlier this year, influential academic feminist Yuki Senda shared her transphobic views and even had an article published in The Journal of Japanese Philosophy, marking the first pro-TERF article published in Japan. The struggles of transgender people in Japan remain invisible and many of their compatriots are unaware of the rights violations the trans community must endure. In an era where trans people face discrimination and hatred, it is the duty of society to stand up against transphobia, rather than perpetuate it. 

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Illustration by Rawand Issa via IPS

The COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated already existing inequalities and made life more difficult for women around the world. For example, many women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have not been able to join the millions who have been forced to move their work online.

More often than not, women have less freedom of mobility and control over household resources than men. Therefore, barriers such as the lack of adequate broadband infrastructure, the spread of digital illiteracy and a wide digital gender divide are affecting women disproportionately - Farah Daibes 

A team of feminist investigative journalists tracked the impact of the pandemic on childbirth for Open Democracy and found that in at least 45 countries, women were forcibly separated from their newborns, were denied the ability to have a companion while giving birth, and had to forcibly undergo C-sections. Since the beginning of the pandemic and quarantine in many parts of the world in March, rates of domestic and sexual violence have increased. This is fucked up and unacceptable! Women should be free of violence everywhere, especially when they are pregnant, and must never have to experience lockdown with an abusive partner! 

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Photo via CNN

By now, many have probably watched videos or seen pictures from Amy Coney Barrett’s senate confirmation hearings last week. The Supreme Court nominee appeared before the US Senate to provide the committee with oversight into her opinions and what she plans to put into practice. With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, millions of Americans wondered what this meant for the future of abortion in the country. Barrett’s opinions on abortion are not unknown; she has been very public about her views towards abortions. After last week’s events, a few things were made clear: she opposes abortion, she declined to answer whether Roe v. Wade was correctly decided, and she does not believe that cases involving abortion should be considered precedence. 

It is evident that if this woman is sworn into the Supreme Court, women and people who can become pregnant in the United States will never have full control over their rights. No one, absolutely NO ONE should have a say in a woman’s abortion EXCEPT for that woman. The United States’ obsession with policing women’s bodies has gone too far and it must be put to an end. A woman’s decision is her own! Right-wing anti-feminists such as Barrett are exactly the type of women who should not be in charge of a country’s laws. Fuck the women who believe that other women should not have rights over their own bodies. It is our choice. 

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Inaara Merani (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa studying International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is a Muslim Canadian who is passionate about human rights, social justice and feminism. She is deeply interested in destroying the patriarchy and ensuring that all women have safe and equal access to all their rights. She hopes to pursue a career in law so she can fight for women’s rights! She also enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her beautiful cat.