Global Roundup: Indonesian Muslim Metal Band, Tunisia’s Landmark #MeToo Case, Ghana’s First Openly Trans Musician, Supporting Latino/x Entrepreneurship, First American Gender Neutral Passport
Compiled by Inaara Merani
Voice of Baceprot, 2021. Photograph by Anton Ismael
Voice of Baceprot is an Indonesian metal band which found freedom through heavy metal. All three band members do not have professional training, which is not apparent whatsoever, and so they rely on the support of mentors to perfect their skills. In 2017, the band went viral after sharing covers of Rage Against the Machine, Slipknot, and Pearl Jam. However, before their music was the topic of discussion, coverage mostly focused on their sex, young age, and modest appearance as Muslim women. These traits also made the trio a frequent target for violent harassment.
Rather than letting this scare them into silence, Voice of Baceprot chose to use their so-called “bad reputation” as their platform. In “God Allow Me (Please), one of their singles, Kurnia, Rahmawati, and Aisyah directly respond to their critics. The trio wants to reclaim their narrative as Muslim metalheads and show the world that labels cannot stop them from doing what they love and sharing it with others. Voice of Baceprot also uses their platform to speak out against political issues, such as climate change and conservative religious schooling.
We feel that we actually already started to feel the impact of the lack of environmental awareness. Back in the village it's very hard for us to get clean water. "Caring about the environment is not just about being reactive now, but it's for the future. - Kurnia
Despite the barriers that they have encountered, they remain resilient and continue to create and perform music, with dreams of one day playing at Coachella. They encourage aspiring female metal musicians to remain brave and strong, and to not be afraid to dream big.
Protesters outside the courthouse in Nabeul [Hassene Dridi/AP Photo]
This week, a landmark #MeToo case in Tunisia reached court involving a legislator charged with sexual harassment and public indecency. In 2019, a schoolgirl posted photos online of the perpetrator, Zouhair Makhlouf of the Qalb Tounes party, and alleged that he performed a sexual act in his car outside of her school. This case prompted Tunisia’s #EnaZeda (#MeToo) movement, resulting in thousands of Tunisians sharing their experiences of sexual assault and harassment online.
Outside the courts, activists protested, chanting and holding signs reading “My body is not a public space”. Others wore t-shirts and badges with the #EnaZeda hashtag, each showing support for the victims of sexual assault in the country, while also protesting the length of time it took to prosecute Makhlouf.
Up until this case, no high-profile Tunisian figures had faced prosecution for allegations of sexual assault. At the time of the allegation, Makhlouf avoided prosecution because of his parliamentary immunity; however, in July, President Kais Saied froze the parliament and lifted political immunity for MPs, which resulted in Makhlouf finally being tried for his crimes.
Now it’s already more than two years and no decision was taken, there has been no step forward. It is time to say no to impunity. We must denounce this phenomenon of harassment and rape. - Sara Medini, Activist
Despite Makhlouf denying all the charges laid against him, allies and activists are hopeful that he will be convicted and that this will result in more perpetrators being held accountable for their actions.
We wanted to tell women that whatever powers your aggressor uses against you or has on you, you can always seek justice and retribution. - Sarra Ben Said, Executive Director of Aswat Nissa
Source: African Arguments
Angel Maxine is often referred to as Ghana’s first openly trans musician. As an openly trans woman, Maxine has been subject to discrimination and resistance, however this has not stopped her from doing what she loves: performing.
Maxine grew up in Tema, Ghana and quickly became interested in singing. As a child, she was bullied and insulted everyday, and her family was also targeted because she was straying from gender norms. Throughout her life, Maxine tried out many different performing styles, however, she was unable to secure a label and also continued to face discrimination as she performed. In university, she took on the name “Sexy Lagazee” and performed as a woman, gaining her popularity on campus and in the city of Koforidua. Maxine gave up performing in 2011, but Sexy Lagazee left a significant impact on the performer’s transitioning journey.
As I was doing the music, dressing, appearing on stage, and performing like a woman, these things informed my decision to fully transition. I just felt that if I am coming out to people, on the music stage, as a woman, why didn’t I do it well, truly and fully? - Angel Maxine
By 2017, Maxine had accepted who she was and began her career once again. After gaining popularity once again and completing an interview at a major radio station in Ghana, she began to understand what she wanted to do with her career.
Maxine is currently working on her debut album, scheduled for release at the end of the year.
Photo courtesy of businesswire.com
Despite the Latinx individuals creating businesses at a higher rate than any other demographic, the community encounters obstacles and faces difficulty in accessing funding, making it difficult to scale at the same rate as non-Latino/x businesses. Support Latino Business (SLB) is a national community-led initiative which is trying to change these practices.
SLB strives to “uplift, champion, and resource Latino/x businesses to scale and thrive for generations to come.” (SLB, 2021). The coalition recognizes that Latino/x businesses have immense impacts on the economy, and wants to ensure that their work does not go unnoticed and that generations to come will thrive.
Latino/x-owned businesses contribute over $800 billion to the American economy every year and start businesses at a faster rate than the national average across industries and yet still receive minimal funding. Resources and information are also not always made so accessible and understandable. That is why we are working with chambers and community partners across the country to build a space and community for digestible content and information to live, and that can be easily accessible and shared. - Support Latino Business
SLB is a volunteer-run organization, meaning that all of its funding goes directly to its Impact Fund, as well as to partnership grants. The coalition has used tools such as: a comprehensive business directory of Latino/x businesses, Support Latino Business Day - on September 14 - to celebrate Latino/x o businesses, and more.
SLB’s “Support Latino Business Day of Action” is one of the initiative’s more immediate outreach strategies. This national movement asks allies and entrepreneurs to work together to celebrate the important contributions that Latino/x businesses make to the US economy. This celebration not only recognizes the economic contributions of the Latino/x community, but it also recognizes the positive impacts that they have on American society.
Last week, the US State Department reported that it issued the first passport with an “X” gender marker - a huge milestone for the LGBTQ+ community and advocates. This comes after the Biden administration announced earlier this year that it had plans to implement gender-neutral passports.
Since 2015, Dana Zzyym has been fighting in court to receive travel documents which reflected their identity as an intersex person. As a result of being denied a passport which accurately reflected their gender, Zzyym was unable to attend work conferences outside the country. Zzyym has now become the first individual in the US to obtain a gender neutral passport.
When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect, - Jessica Stern, US Special Diplomatic Envoy for LGBTQ+ Rights
In June, the State Department announced that it would be taking steps towards creating the “X” marker on American passports after president Biden had promised to do so in his 2020 campaign. The department also announced, at the same time, that it would be removing the requirement for applicants to submit medical documents to confirm their gender.
Official documents that reflect an individual's true identity are essential to allowing them to lead dignified lives. The United States must encourage other governments around the world to follow suit in adopting inclusive policies that recognize and affirm non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. - JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign
Currently, only 20 states in the US allow for “X” markers on drivers licenses, whereas only 15 states offer the same designation on birth certificates. The US joins 10 other nations worldwide which offer a third gender option on passports, including Australia, Denmark, Nepal, and India.
Inaara Merani (she/her) is a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa where she studied International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is an Ismaili Muslim Canadian who is deeply passionate about human rights, social justice and feminism, and in turn, dismantling 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 that she can continue to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups everywhere. She also enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her beautiful cat.
I wish to attend a Baceprot concert at Coachella.