Global Roundup: Protesting Rape Culture in Senegal, Capturing London’s Queer Community, Lil’ Libros, First Pride Parade at Mormon University, Economic Support for Trans People in Argentina 

Compiled by Inaara Merani

Women protest in Place de la Nation in Dakar, Senegal on 3 July 2020 | Fatou Warkha Sambe (Open Democracy) 

In Senegal, a 15-year old girl has said she was raped by the 19-year old son of a notable journalist in May. In late June, activists created #JusticePourLouise, a digital campaign to protest this horrific incident, as well as to protest a potential cover-up after police failed to immediately act on the complaint filed by the survivor’s mother. Louise’s case was the second high-profile rape case in Senegal in the last few months.

We protest today under the slogan #JusticePourToutesLesLouise [Justice for all the Louises]...We remember that Louise's case is one among thousands, and we are there for the Louises who are being raped as we speak – because we know that in Senegal there are still three rapes a day. - Sene, Senegalese Feminist Collective 

In February, a massage parlour worker accused Ousmane Sonko, a popular politician, of raping and threatening her. Although he was arrested, thousands of Senegalese people took to the streets to protest his arrest, leaving at least 10 people dead. The victim of this crime, however, became the target of harassment and was forced to go into hiding. 

Dozens of protestors gathered in Dakar’s Place de la Nation on Saturday to protest rape culture and impunity in Senegal. Many wore purple t-shirts reading ‘Justice for Louise’, demanding justice for the survivor. 

We saw the impunity […] We went out today for Louise and for all the Louises in Senegal. We are here to demand the culture of rape stop, for justice to do its work, and for the law that was passed to come into force. - Aïssatou Sen, Senegalese Feminist Collective

Rape was criminalized in Senegal in January 2020 after a campaign was launched by a number of civil society groups. Prior to this, rape was only considered a minor offense with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. This new law sets the prison time at a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life. However, activists have noted that this law is not being implemented and many assailants are not appropriately punished. 

The #JusticePourLouise campaign and the protest over the weekend have signalled a shift in attitudes within Senegal. Young people who had never previously been involved in feminist activism came and showed their support. 

This is the first time I’ve taken part in these kinds of events...Every year we hear of rapes – every month it continues – and it has to stop. I think it is important that men get involved because we have to support women. In fact, it must start with us. - Lassana Sané, student 

The community is much more perceptive to the need for more measures to protect survivors of sexual assault, and is also more understanding about the issue as a whole. Prevailing traditional and cultural norms dominated the nation for years, but change is on the rise.  

We cannot be feminist and complain in our houses, in front of our televisions. It is we women who must take charge of this fight, - Marie-Angélique Savané, well-known pioneer of feminism in Senegal and throughout Africa 

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Tender (2021) Photographer Heather Glazzard, Stylist Nathan Henry. (them)

The fashion industry has made progress in its approach to gender diversity, notably through its casting of trans and gender nonconforming models. Behind the scenes, however, these models are subject to queerphobic microagressions and discrimination. After experiencing this very discrimination themselves, creatives Heather Glazzard and Nathan Henry sought to capture London’s queer community how they wanted to be seen.

Glazzard and Henry created Tender, a new fashion photo zine. The publication showcases trans and nonbinary members of London’s queer community wearing looks by notable fashion designers such as Givenchy, shot entirely on film. The 40-page journal is a culmination of the cutting-edge talent of Glazzard, a Dazed 100-shortlisted photographer, and Henry, the Fashion Editor of the magazine Boys By Girls, as well as the countless models in the zine. 

After Glazzard and other queer friends faced microagressions at castings and photoshoots, Glazzard and Henry created Tender to make their community feel seen. They were tired of repeatedly facing discrimination and wanted to truly showcase the beauty of the queer community, authentically. 

There are so many white, cishet male photographers going into the queer community and taking photos. I’ve seen some of the photos of my mates and they look so vulnerable and scared. - Heather Glazzard

After 8 months of production, the independently-funded publication is available for purchase online. It will also be donating the proceeds to the See Me Safe FFS Fund for trans women and femmes and the Black Trans Foundation, as well as to crowdfunding for the zine’s models’ gender affirming treatments. 

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Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times. (Be Latina)

Historically, fictional literature has lacked inclusivity and representation of diverse communities. In 2020, only 6.1% of books focused on Latinx characters. Two Hispanic mothers recognized this issue, and also recognized the need for bilingual books in which children could learn their language, their culture, and their stories. 

Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein have always believed that children’s literature is more than just an educational resource; it also acts as a tool to celebrate inclusivity and different cultures. In light of this, they created Lil’ Libros, a company which introduces bilingualism and Latin American culture through picture board books. 

As mothers and women of color, our goal is to share our language, culture, and stories with our children. Quality and authentic bilingual children’s books are hard to find, a problem traditional publishers fail to prioritize, despite the fact that 1 in 4 children in the U.S. are Latino – a challenge millions of families continue to experience. - Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, Founders of Lil’ Libros 

Every publication by Lil’ Libros celebrates the American-Latino experience, reflecting the community’s history, traditions, culture and identity. Rodriguez and Stein wanted the company to be owned by customers, and therefore they chose to open the publishing house to those who wanted to invest, so as not to monopolize this growing industry. With this strategy, anyone who believes in Lil’ Libros’ mission can invest, which will allow the company to sustainably expand the catalog, implement memberships and subscriptions, and create additional products.

We believe in the American dream. We believe that we should own the companies we shop at...We believe that when we make money, you should also make money. That is how it should be. Become an owner of the company you have built! Let’s create the stories our children deserve while creating wealth for our families. Invest in Lil’ Libros today. - Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, Founders of Lil’ Libros 

With over 1.5 million books already sold worldwide and steady year-over-year growth, Lil’ Libros has financially succeeded, and it is also succeeding in informing the younger generation about American-Latino culture and history. 

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Over 1,000 people attended an unofficial LGBT+ Pride event for Brigham Young University (BYU). The event was organised by the anonymous group BYU Pride. (Pictures provided via Instagram/@byupride). (Pink News)

Students at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah held an unofficial Pride event, despite the Mormon university’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance. More than 1000 people gathered at Joaquin Park on June 28 to advocate for this cause, including current and former students, members of the LGBTQ+ community in the area, and allies. 

Members waved Pride flags and held signs reading ‘Love is the answer’ and ‘Hate has no home here’. Many also danced together to celebratory music and a ‘Free Britney’ banner was also seen. 

This event was not formally or officially sponsored by BYU, but was organized by the anonymous group BYU Pride. According to BYU Pride’s Instagram account, the group “aims to empower students to celebrate progress made by the LGBTQ+ community at BYU and to advocate for change through collaborative activism”.  

Kendra, one of the event organizers, said that she and others worked together to create BYU Pride’s Instagram account and the Pride event to show support for the LGBTQ+ community in the area, but she did not expect such a large turnout. Stacey Harkey, a speaker at the event, said that it was an exhilarating experience to see so many people show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. 

I worry about the queer kids and young adults growing up in intensely religious communities, but seeing that turnout let me know things are changing and it’ll be different for them. - Stacey Harkey, graduate of BYU and speaker at BYU Pride

At BYU, students can be expelled for not adhering to the university’s honour code. Although BYU changed the code in 2007 to allow students to openly identify as gay, students have been banned from being in same-sex relationships. Until last year, the code prohibited ‘homosexual behaviour’, and later clarified that same-sex relationships were also prohibited. 

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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - 2021/06/24: A person holding a placard waits for the vote of the law. (Photo by Manuel Cortina/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) SOPA Images. (them) 

Argentina already has steady protections in place for the trans community, however a new law passed last week will now guarantee jobs for trans people. The new law passed by the Congress of the Argentine Nation will reserve 1% of public sector jobs for trans people, passing with an overwhelming majority of 55-1. 

The law is in honour of the late trans activists Lohana Berkins and Diana Sacayán. Sacayán was killed in 2015, sparking international outrage. This led Argentina’s government to acknowledge her death as a hate crime, which was historic. 

In addition to employment in the public sector, this law also offers tax incentives and loans for private businesses which hire trans people. This law comes after Uruguay implemented a hiring quota for trans people in 2018.

This law will change our lives. Having a formal job, or a salary receipt and a credit card are natural things for a heterosexual person, but not for us. For us, having a formal job implies being able to study and to rent a place to live. - Claudia Vasquez Haro, representative of the Argentine Federal Transgender Convocation

Despite this new bill and the already existing legislation protecting trans people, the trans community in Argentina is still systematically marginalized. In 2016, the UN found that trans women in Argentina were often persecuted by the police, regardless of whether they engaged in sex work or not, which was considered a pretext for discriminatory harassment. Although these steps are paving the way for progress, Argentina still has a long way to go to support and fully accept the trans community. 

The reality has exceeded our expectations, because there is a great contrast. It is as if there were two Argentines, one lives without any rights. And I, who am already over 40 years old, am a survivor. - Alba Rueda, Argentina’s Undersecretary for Diversity, the first trans woman appointed to a senior government office 

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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. 

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