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Global Roundup: Girls Wrestling in India, ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen’ Film, LGBTQ+ Activism against Qatar World Cup, Women-Owned Brazilian-Japanese Brewery, Legalizing Same-sex Partnerships in Tokyo
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
The photo, sourced by Mijing Narzary, shows two female players participating in a local khomlainai competition. Photo via Feminism in India.
Young girls in Assam, India, are using khomlainai, a form of traditional Bodo wrestling, to build their strength and to support their families. Khomlainai comes from the largest ethnolinguistic group in Assam, the Bodo people. The practice was originally developed when Bodo people lived in the jungle – this form of wrestling was used as a self-defence mechanism to protect themselves from wild animals.
Every year in Kokrajhar, a town in Assam, a grand khomlainai competition is held during the Bhaokhungri festival. Organized by the Government of Bodoland Territorial Region, this competition aims to utilize the traditional sport to bridge the gap between the Bodoland region and surrounding communities.
Girls throughout Assam have joined khomlainai classes and have been practicing their skills to be able to compete in professional settings. A number of girls who participate in the sport, and live in the region, live in poverty and use khomlainai as an outlet for both their personal and familial battles. The prizes offered in wrestling competitions are large and they would have immensely positive impacts on the family of the winner.
Sangito Kisko, a teen from the Garbhasha village, began learning the sport around the age of 10 but was forced to stop when her father left their family and her mother’s salary could no longer support the entire family. She was in the tenth grade but decided against re-admission because of the price. However, shortly after, she began practicing again and entered a khomlainai competition where she won 5000 rupees, which then paid for her school tuition.
For me, khomlainai is everything. It has shown the path, giving me the confidence to continue with both the sport and studies braving all adversities. – Sangito Kisko
Khomlainai has become more popular in recent years and is practiced widely across Assam and beyond. In 2013, it was included in the Indigenous Games and Martial Arts Scheme in India, alongside a number of other indigenous games that have been practiced in communities for generations, instead of in formal settings.
Everyone associated with khomlainai in Assam wants a dedicated stadium to practice the sport, however many of the woman players feel that improvements must be made to support every player. For example, better accommodations are necessary as young girls are usually put up in schools with unclean rooms and bathrooms. Additionally, having a woman coach would attract more girls into the sport. Khomlainai is heavily dominated by men but these girls of Assam are redefining the sport.
Photo credit: Netflix via BeLatina
In 2020, Guillen was murdered at the Fort Hood military base. Her death sparked national attention not only because she was allegedly killed by another soldier at Fort Hood but because of outrage at the Army’s failure to fully deal initially with the sexual harassment she reported experiencing and its lack of attention to her case once she went missing.
Guillen’s death was made public in 2020 after she went missing while at Fort Hood – the military was not looking for her, but her family never stopped. Guillen’s family is the reason that she was found because they made noise and they did not stop. The hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen began trending, and countless women came forward to share their experiences of abuse within the military.
The film, ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen’, will showcase how Guillen’s sisters took her story to the streets to protest, and eventually to the halls of Washington, D.C. Interviews with friends and family, as well as elected officials, will also be featured. In particular, Guillen’s family is seen advocating for the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020, which enables protections for people in the military, including the ability to file a complaint outside the direct chain of command and receive protection against retaliation. This will ensure that the survivor is still able to carry out their position duties without compromising their safety, as many individuals who report violence within the military end up either murdered or missing.
Guillen’s story ignited a spark that remains lit. Her story is one of the thousands of soldiers who have lost their lives because of normalized violence within the military. As her family awaits the decision of their $35 million suit against the US government (which could take years), the advocacy to end military violence, the social media movement, and this film serve as frequent reminders that the fight is not over.
‘I Am Vanessa Guillen’ arrives on Netflix on November 17, 2022.
Photo Credit: AP. Photo via Sport Star.
Activists in Zurich protested outside the FIFA Museum on Tuesday to urge the football committee to defend and support LGBTQ+ rights at the World Cup in Qatar in just a few weeks. The activists represented the organizations All Out, Pink Cross, the Swiss Lesbian Organization, and Transgender Network Switzerland.
The purpose of the event was to encourage national teams, players, and sponsors to take a stand and showcase support for LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
It's up to FIFA to take responsibility and really take action for the rights and defence of LGBTQ people in Qatar -- not just fans, but for all the people who currently live there,– Gae Colussi, head of Pink Cross in Switzerland
Since FIFA is an international organization that is separate from the country the World Cup is hosted in, activists are hopeful that FIFA will intervene to an extent to showcase support for LGBTQ+ rights. In 2016, the organization signed a charter vowing to respect human rights – Qatar’s refusal to legalize same-sex relationships is a violation of human rights, but the organization has remained silent.
As we approach the World Cup in just a few weeks, activists are continuing to protest against Qatar’s lack of protections and the lack of support for the queer community by FIFA. There is no telling if FIFA will call out their host country, or if they will let the World Cup pass and sweep the issue under the rug.
Brazilian-Japanese brewers (left to right) Yumi Shimada, Maíra Kimura and Fernanda Ueno hope to ... [+]BRUNO FUJII. Photo via Forbes.
Outside of Japan, Brazil has the third-largest Japanese population. Japanese-Brazilian women Maíra Kimura, Yumi Shimada, and Fernanda Ueno co-founded the Brazil-based brewery, Japas. This woman-owned company brews, distributes, and sells beer in the US in 10 states.
Japas strives to combine Japanese ingredients and concepts into its recipes. For example, the next beers to be released will feature Kimokawaii, a strong sour ale with blackberries, dragonfruit and hibiscus; Sawa Sudachi, a sour ale with sudachi (a small citrus-y fruit); and Black Daruma, a Russian imperial stout with persimmon. Although only a small selection of Japas’ beers, these flavours focus on sharing Japanese culture through the delicate flavours of brewed beer.
The name ‘Japas’ is the term that is widely used in Brazil to describe Japanese people or people of Asian descent. The founders of Japas decided to reclaim the use of the word and use it to their advantage, to showcase their identities with pride.
Each of the founding women has a different reason for entering the business. Kimura has always loved beer and after obtaining her Brewer Certificate, she went back to Brazil to work in distribution and learn about the processes. Shimada has a background in design and marketing, and after attending a beer sommelier program, she became more involved in the design process within the beer market. Ueno credits her father for igniting her passion for beer, but she later studied food engineering and became a certified beer sommelier.
Kimura, Shimada, and Ueno each bring a valuable set of skills to the table, and they have collaboratively created a unique product that exhibits their care for their Japanese-Brazilian culture and their own personal interests.
Mamiko Moda (L) and her partner Satoko Nagamura, with their son, hold a same-sex partnership certificate as they pose for a photograph after a press conference at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on Nov. 1. Yuichi Yamazaki—AFP/Getty Images. Photo via TIME.
Same-sex relationships are now officially recognized in Tokyo. The government began providing partnership certificates for same-sex couples on November 1, for the first time in the city’s history. Many other Japanese cities have introduced similar legislation. Still, the legalization of same-sex relationships in Tokyo will mean that more than 60 per cent of Japan’s population will benefit from this legislation.
By the end of last week, more than 130 couples had applied online for partnership certificates. In order to qualify for a certificate, at least one partner must be living, working, or studying in Tokyo. Now that many same-sex partners will be officially recognized as partnerships, these individuals will be eligible for services and welfare programs that many heterosexual couples have benefitted from for decades. For example, couples will have greater ease applying for a mortgage, or giving consent for a medical procedure.
We always have to explain our relationship to get services. But now it will be easier. We don’t have to convince anybody that we’re a couple. – Soyoka Yamamoto, representative of the Partnership Act organization
Although same-sex couples will now benefit from programs and services within the public sector, the private sector is not required to follow the same mandates – this will pose a challenge for many couples.
Japan is the only G7 country which does not fully recognize same-sex partnerships, and the nation ranks second-to-last in LGBTQ+ rights in the OECD. Japan’s ruling conservative party continues to promote traditional family values and attempts to advance LGBTQ+ rights in the country have faced backlash. However, in recent years, the LGBTQ+ movement in Japan has gained momentum and young people are pushing for equality.
Tokyo’s new ruling is expected to put pressure on the federal government to take action to protect LGBTQ+ rights.
The influence over the judges is important since unless the national government or the Diet act swiftly, the supreme court will eventually be the institution which decides whether it is constitutional to leave the marriage law as it is or not, – Kanae Doi, director of Human Rights Watch Japan
Inaara Merani (she/her) recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Western Ontario, studying Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a specialization in Transitional Justice. In the upcoming years, she hopes to attend law school, focusing her career in human rights law.
Inaara is deeply passionate about dismantling patriarchal institutions to ensure women and other marginalized populations have safe and equal access to their rights. She believes in the power of knowledge and learning from others, and hopes to continue to learn from others throughout her career.