Global Roundup: Indonesia Trans Trailblazer Dies, App for Black Women, Non-Consensual Nudes on Telegram, Standing in Solidarity with Muslim Women, Heart Beading Project for MMIWG2S Awareness,
Curated by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
Dorce Gamalama (center) leads a prayer for Suharto in Jakarta, 19 January 2008. Hundreds of orphan children held a prayer for former president Suharto who has been hospitalised since January 04. (AFP/Adek Berry) via Jakarta Post
Popular trans entertainer and trailblazer Dorce Gamalama, often referred to as Bunda (mother) Dorce, has died in Indonesia from complications related to COVID-19, but her family has decided she should be buried as a man despite her wishes.
58-year-old Gamalama, a well-known pop singer and TV presenter who even had her own talk show, the Dorce Show, passed away earlier this week. She had been diagnosed with COVID-19 three weeks previously, and other health conditions including Alzheimer’s and diabetes increased the severe complications associated with the virus.
Gamalama had been openly trans for decades, having undergone gender affirmation surgery in 1983 and winning a legal battle to have her gender legally recognized.
In an interview last month, she referenced her deteriorating health and announced her wishes to be buried as a woman. However, as a devout Muslim, she said the decision would ultimately lie with faith leaders.
[I would like to be buried] as I am now. Because after my surgery, I have a female genitalia, so women should bathe me, and bathe [and bury] me as a woman. - Dorce Gamalama
Indonesia’s top Islamic scholars body said that a trans person’s body must always be buried according to their gender assigned at birth. Thus, Gamalama was bathed and buried as a man.
Though Gamalama seemed willing to give the final say to religious leaders and her family, it is troubling that other trans people may not have autonomy over what happens to their body after their passing. One thing for certain, Indonesia has lost an inspiring trans rights leader.
I hope we can have more Dorce Gamalamas in Indonesia. She’s still a hero. Just by being out there and existing, she already has done more than half of what the rest of us have done. - Carahanna “Cara” Marianne Sam, trans campaign manager at an NGO in South Jakarta
Gamalama leaves behind a complicated legacy when it comes to whether she was an activist and for whom, as LGBTQ activists in Indonesia explained to the Jakarta Post. Queer writer Nurdiyansah Dalidjo, 35, who actively contributes to the Queer Indonesia Archive, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization that is building a digital archive to collect, preserve and celebrate the materials reflecting the lives and experiences of LGBT Indonesia, said that Dorce Gamalama had achieved many things despite not declaring herself as an activist.
“She managed to be accepted as a woman, a philanthropist, an artist and as a Muslim,” said Jakarta-based Nurdiyansah, referring to Dorce’s later life as a devoted Muslim. Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population. Nurdiyansah added that Dorce’s well-publicized struggle to be medically and legally accepted as a woman in the late 1980s was pretty much part of the LGBT movement.
Image Credits: She Matters via TechCrunch
After experiencing postpartum depression herself, Jade Kearney decided to develop an app called She Matters to help Black women experiencing the same struggles as her.
Kearney was experiencing postpartum depression when her daughter was six months old. She was trying to complete her second masters at NYU, while dealing with a mental health crisis. She realized how few therapists had been trained to help Black women deal with mental health issues.
While I was trying to finish my second master’s degree, I had to figure out how to navigate that space alone because between cultural stigma and medical neglect for Black women in the postpartum period, there was really no outlet for me. - Jade Kearney
The app takes a multifaceted view of Black women’s health problems. It has created a community of therapists who have been trained in a 12-week certification program, so that they make their therapy culturally relevant to Black women. The company already has 180 trained therapists on the site and another 700 on the waiting list, and when they opened the app out of beta to the public in January, 7,000 people signed up with 3,400 in the first 24 hours alone.
Kearney had to teach herself about running a company and figure out funding mechanisms on the fly, all while facing obstacles and roadblocks directly related to being a Black woman founder trying to found a company aimed at other Black women. People would not acknowledge she was a tech founder in publications or they would ask her to talk about being a Black woman founder, instead of helping her achieve her goals to build a successful startup.
There was $137 billion in venture funding in the first half of 2021 alone. Of that, Black founders got just 1.2%. Kearney recognizes these challenges.
It’s so challenging, but so is just to be at this level as a Black female. The whole thing is crazy and challenging. So if we’re in the room, we’ve clearly been able to jump over all of the hurdles to get there, and we’re usually one or two in the space. So then to say you’ve gotten here, you’re [unique], and we’re not going to give you money. It’s crazy, it really is. It’s a lot. - Jade Kearney
It has been frustrating for her to raise money, but she is determined to keep working. As she has navigated her own journey as a Black woman founder, she has attempted to help others by writing a book, conducting workshops and conferences and keeping the lines of communication open. She hopes to build a successful startup and be a role model for others who want to achieve similar goals.
I’ve cried more behind closed doors in the last 12 weeks than I have in my entire life, but I refuse to give up because Black women are suffering and the problem is fixable. It’s about community and communication, and it’s about making as much noise as possible in the healthcare industry so they know we will not stop until change in maternal morbidity and patient outcomes drastically improve. - Jade Kearney
Image credit KLAWE RZECZY via BBC
A BBC investigation has found that women's intimate pictures are being shared to harass, shame and blackmail them on a massive scale, on the social media app Telegram. The BBC has been monitoring 18 Telegram channels and 24 groups in countries ranging from Russia to Brazil, and Kenya to Malaysia.
The investigation found that personal details like home addresses and parents' phone numbers were posted alongside explicit pictures. They also saw group administrators asking members to send intimate images of ex-partners, colleagues or fellow-students to an automated account, so they could be published without revealing the identity of the sender.
Telegram has long been popular with pro-democracy protesters in countries with media censorship. Users can post without sharing their name or phone number, and create public or private groups with up to 200,000 members, or channels which can broadcast to an unlimited number of people. The platform attracts users seeking a less regulated space, but the research shows that this light-touch approach to moderation has led Telegram to become a haven for the leaking and sharing of intimate images.
Nigar, a woman from Azerbaijan, says she was forced to leave her homeland in 2021 after a video of her having sex with her now ex-husband was sent to her family, and then posted in a Telegram group with 40,000 members. In the footage, Nigar’s face is clearly visible but her ex-husband’s face is blurred. She believes her ex secretly filmed her to blackmail her brother, a prominent critic of Azerbaijan's president. She says her mother was told the video would be released on Telegram unless her brother stopped his activism. The video was reported to Telegram, but the platform did not respond.
I can't recover. I see therapists twice a week. They say there is no progress so far. They ask if I can forget it, and I say no. - Nigar
Telegram does not have a dedicated policy to tackle the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. None of the 100 photos the BBC reported as pornography on the in-app reporting feature were addressed by the platform. In addition, an account from Russia tried to sell them a folder containing child abuse videos for less than the price of a coffee.
It is clear that the removal of intimate images is not a priority for the Telegram, so some women have decided to take action themselves. For instance, Joanna found a naked image of herself from when she was 13 years old in a notorious Malaysian Telegram group. She created a fake Telegram profile to join the group, where she anonymously searched for nude pictures and reported them. Amid intense media pressure, the group was eventually closed down. But during the course of the investigation, the BBC found at least two duplicate groups sharing the same kind of images.
Sometimes you just feel so helpless, because we tried to do so much to remove these groups. But they're still coming up, so I don't know if there's an end to it, honestly. - Joanna
Evidently, Telegram must urgently increase its moderation and have a more effective system for reporting. In its negligence, many women and girls continue to be harmed by having their intimate images leaked, which has led to detrimental long term effects to their wellbeing.
A Muslim woman in Kolkata joins a candlelight protest against the ban on wearing hijabs at schools in Karnataka, India. Photograph: Rahul Sadhukhan/Pacific Press/Rex/Shutterstock via The Guardian
Anhaar Kareem is a 14-year-old student in Australia who wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian on standing in solidarity with her and other Muslim women who wear hijab and against against policymakers in France and India, where they are banning the wearing of hijab. Kareem reflects on how it is a privilege that she can wear her hijab to school, yet it should not be a privilege, it should be her right.
I feel for my hijabi sisters all around the world. What would I do if I had to choose between getting an education and wearing my hijab? - Anhaar Kareem
She mentions the recent incident of the young Muslim student in the Indian state of Karnataka who was taunted by a mob of male anti-Muslim protesters and how the footage made her feel “disgusted” and “scared.” Just last week, a hijabi high school student in New Zealand was filmed as other school students forcibly removed her hijab and proceeded to share the video of the taunting on social media.
What Muslim women are experiencing is known as “gendered Islamophobia” and is the hatred we receive with our intersecting Muslim and female identities. While this worldwide vilification of hijabis occurs, we’ve been simultaneously fed lies regarding the acceptance of hijab and the “progression” we are making. - Anhaar Kareem
Kareem notes the double standard of Vogue France sharing an image of Julia Fox wearing a balaclava and headscarf when the country actively undermines the right of women to wear the hijab.
Australia is no exception according to Kareem who has received Islamophobic Twitter comments such as “Dress and look like a real Australian” and “Perhaps if these people could attempt to assimilate rather than try and impose on us what they allegedly fled from.” She and her family have been yelled slurs at by random people on the street, mocking their religion.
Kareem believes that Muslim women like her need the recognition that this anti-hijab rhetoric is anti-human rights. Moreover, action needs to be taken against policymakers in nations such as France and India, where they are oppressing hijabis. She also calls for better representation of Muslim women in media, politics and literature in Australia.
From the perspective of a 14-year-old hijabi, I am urging you to stand in solidarity with us – to call out racist behaviour and attacks on hijabis anywhere you see it. Do not turn a blind eye to Islamophobia, especially on innocent hijabi targets. Advocate for our rights on social media and educate yourself about the hijab. - Anhaar Kareem
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is giving away beading kits to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Submitted by Hilda Anderson-Pyrz) via CBC
Beaders are encouraged to show their hearts for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and two spirit people (MMIWG2S) through a new awareness project that is being led by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). Earlier this week, the political advocacy group that represents 26 First Nations in northern Manitoba launched the Healing Hearts project. They plan on giving out over 200 beading kits to raise awareness of MMIWG2S. The project is also encouraging people to post their beadwork on social media using #healinghearts and #mkommiwg as hashtags.
It's an education tool to use for individuals to get involved and become part of the solution in ending all forms of gender- and race-based violence against Indigenous women and girls and gender diverse people…One of the key things is that the violence is still occurring and it's occurring at alarming rates against Indigenous women and girls and gender diverse people - Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, director of MKO's MMIWG Liaison Unit.
Isabel Daniels, a program coordinator at Velma's House in Winnipeg, a safe space for unsheltered and exploited women and people who identify as female, said as a frontline worker, she has seen life get tougher during the pandemic for many of the women.
We've lost nine clients since we opened [last year], and we just lost one last week…We still have a lot of work to do …. Our women are not victims of their own demise. We don't choose this life. We don't choose to live like this. But sometimes circumstances in life just don't work out the way that we plan. - Isabel Daniels
Nakuset, executive director at the Native Women's Shelter in Montreal, said projects like Healing Hearts should be brought to high schools across the country and go nationwide. She believes it is important to inform people who are not aware of these issues.
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.
There is always so much relevant, important information to unpack in these posts. I breathe a sigh of relief that religious "scholars" are not deciding anything about my life (or death). Such people are irrelevant and should be taken for what they are: pretenders.