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Global Roundup: India Protests, Peru LGBT Activists vs Trans Man’s Death, Japanese Intimacy Coordinator, 150 Years of Canadian Queer Art, Trinidadian Singer Highlights Women
Curated by FG contributor Samiha Hossain
Protesters rally in New Delhi, India, against the Gujarat government’s recent decision to free 11 men jailed for gang raping a Muslim woman in 2002. Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA via The Guardian
CW: sexual violence
Hundreds of people demonstrated in several parts of India to protest against a recent government decision to free 11 men who had been jailed for life for gang raping a Muslim woman during India’s 2002 religious riots. The protesters in New Delhi, chanted slogans this weekend and demanded the government in the western state of Gujarat rescind the decision. They also sang songs in solidarity with the victim.
The whole country should demand an answer directly from the prime minister of this country. -Kavita Krishnan, prominent activist
The 11 men, released on suspended sentences on 15 August, were convicted in 2008 of rape, murder and unlawful assembly. The victim was pregnant when she was gang raped during communal violence in 2002 in Gujarat, which saw over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed in some of the worst religious riots India has experienced since its 1947 independence from Britain. Seven members of the woman’s family, including her three-year-old daughter, were also killed in the violence.
Asiya Qureshi, a young protester in New Delhi, said she participated in the demonstrations to seek justice for the victim.
Modi gave a speech on 15th August on the safety and protection of women of India and the same day they released the rapists. How am I safe in such a climate? -Asiya Qureshi
A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: "Justice for Seb and Rodri" during a protest to demand justice for Rodrigo Ventosilla REUTERS/Angela Ponce
LGBT activists in Peru held a protest on Friday questioning how their government handled the death of a Peruvian transgender man in Indonesia earlier this month who was detained at the airport upon arriving to celebrate his honeymoon. Demonstrators held up signs during the protest to demand justice for Rodrigo Ventosilla, a Peruvian graduate student at Harvard and activist for transgender rights who died on the island of Bali.
Ventosilla died of "bodily failure" days after being detained for alleged cannabis possession. Ventosilla's family said they did not know the cause of his death but said he was denied access to legal defence and information. They accused Bali authorities of "police violence ... racial discrimination and transphobia.”
LGBT activist Luz Manriquez said at a small protest in Lima the government's statement was biased because it adopted Indonesia's position and did not demand an investigation.
We reject and condemn the foreign ministry's statement. It lacks empathy because it does not recognize that a Peruvian has died in the hands of police from another country. - Luz Manriquez
Brenda Alvarez, a lawyer for Ventosilla's family, told reporters on Friday the foreign ministry had agreed to apologize over the statement and launch an investigation. The Indonesian police told Reuters this week the case is closed and that no violence was involved in Ventosilla's death.
Ventosilla was a founding member seven years ago of the Peruvian trans rights organization Diversidades Trans Masculinas and was pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
Even if you are detained in another country, it is unreal and painful that (the Peruvian government) can leave you like this. -Arturo Davila, a member of Diversidades Trans Masculinas
Photo courtesy of Intimacy Professionals Association via Kyodo
Chiho Asada is one of only two certified intimacy coordinators in Japan and her job is to create a safe plan for scenes that involve nudity, kissing, touching, simulated sex or sexual content, on screen and in theater.
It's still a new job title that many Japanese have not heard of. But I want intimacy coordinators to be as normalized as stunt choreographers…many actors have experienced some level of stress because they were afraid of listening to their feelings about what they are comfortable doing with their bodies. -Chiho Asada
Asada often facilitates difficult conversations between the cast, the director, wardrobe and production. Some of the ways she advocates for the cast are by requiring erotic scenes be shot on a closed set with as few crew as possible, making sure actors are given modesty patches to cover their private parts, and ensuring there are no surprises while the camera is rolling.
Though the concept is new to Japan and there are no institutions that provide training or certification programs, the #MeToo movement ushered in the role of the intimacy coordinator on Hollywood film sets. American cable television network HBO became the first to hire an intimacy coordinator for sex scenes in its 2018 film, "The Deuce." Currently, there are 40 intimacy coordinators listed on SAG-AFTRA's registry of qualified intimacy coordinators.
As with any new role it comes with challenges. My presence on set is not always welcome at the beginning, and it's a surprise for many that it's a creative opportunity. The safer the actors feel, the better work they do. -Chiho Asada
During Asada’s training, she had to cover subjects like trauma awareness, sexuality and gender literacy, and communication and conflict negotiation skills, then pass an exam and interview to become certified with Los Angeles-based IPA. The 46-year-old came across her dream job by chance. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she was working as an entertainment industry interpreter when she was asked by Netflix to become a certified intimacy professional.
In the past two years, Asada, who is self employed, has worked on seven shows and is looking to fill her calendar with more as she sees increased demand and recognition for her work. Today, the Japanese entertainment industry does not operate under best practice conditions, Asada says. But people are gradually paying more attention to how intimate scenes are being handled behind the scenes and that is definitely a step in the right direction, she said.
In the past, actors have been harassed and disempowered, and they had to try and figure out sex scenes on their own. But I'm here to change that. This isn't just about preventing harm, it's about creating the space for everyone to do their best work. -Chiho Asada
Cassils, Advertisement: Homage to Benglis, 2011. Photo: Cassils with Robin Black, Courtesy of the artist via CBC
Exhibiting historic works is invaluable, as it shows that queer relationships have always existed and are far from being a contemporary manifestation. -Renata Azevedo Moreira, AGO Assistant Curator of Canadian Art, who put together the exhibit.
Moreira also points to Toronto-born, Montreal-raised artist Cassils, whose 2011 archival pigment print "Advertisement: Homage to Benglis" pays tribute to Linda Benglis's historic 1974 feminist artwork "Advertisment." In collaboration with photographer and makeup artist Robin Black, Cassils appears in the work in all their ripped, transmasculine glory.
I think that no work in this grouping symbolizes resistance more than Cassils' 'Advertisement,’ it is a direct confrontation on the very definition of what a feminine or masculine body is supposed to look like, and if these concepts even make sense nowadays. -Renata Azevedo Moreira
Cassils and Watson's work is displayed alongside the mighty likes of General Idea, Will Munro, Zachari Logan, Frances Norma Loring, David Buchan and Robert Flack. Collectively, their work makes up the 13 installations of the exhibit — which, while by no means massive, is a towering presence in one of North America's largest art museums, the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Going forward, Moreira says she is excited about seeing more spaces and artists that "resist rigid classification and definitions, reflecting, as it does, a new generation brought up to see identity as not fixed or stable, but transient." She encourages people to do research about artists "they find particularly unconventional in a museum, even if not openly declared."
They might bathe in queer perspectives that will definitely surprise you. It is much more common than one may think. -Renata Azevedo Moreira
Via Caribbean National Weekly
Keba Williams’ hit single Loco for the Coco has been dubbed an anthem for women of color. It’s a soulful homage to her Trinidadian roots and Caribbean culture by blending the sweet sounds of old school Calypso with an R&B, pop twist. The song beautifully highlights the topic of female sexuality, women empowerment and the marginalization that comes with being a woman of color today.
When I created the song, I was thinking specifically about an incident that happened to me while I was performing, when this guy came up to me and tried to kiss me and just being very inappropriate. And one of the things I love about Caribbean music is that it can touch on a serious topic like consent but keep it light and conversational…-Keba Williams
Born in Trinidad, Keba grew up studying classical music and learning how to play clarinet, steelpan, singing in choir along with other forms of musical extracurricular activities. Her journey then took her to the United States to pursue pre-med studies to eventually become a doctor. She later decided to complete both a degree in chemistry and music. After completing an internship with a recording company, where she learned advanced production and songwriting skills, she opened her own recording studio and began mentoring young artistes.
I think that throughout the years women have almost had to like apologize for their sexuality or for their bodies….I think it’s really important to talk about it now but to keep talking about it….we should wonder why these women in our folktales were often demonized for being in control of their sexuality or for being single, unmarried, or just living a life that didn’t follow convention. -Keba Williams
Keba is now focusing on working on new music which will be a fusion of the things she loves musically. Her dream collab would be with Nailah Blackman, Kes the Band or Chloe Bailee, or Afro-Beats artistes. She is also preparing for her upcoming performance in her home country, Trinidad in November.
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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.