Global Roundup: South Korea’s 4B Movement , Southeast Asian App for LGBTQ+ Employment, Queer Ukrainian Soldier’s Advocacy, AI Developed by Young Malayali Girl, Topless Swimming in Berlin,
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Photo via The Cut.
A feminist movement in South Korea has stopped fighting the patriarchy, and instead is leaving it behind entirely. The 4B movement is a collective of thousands of South Korean women who have given up on heterosexual relationships and materialistic needs.
4B is a short term for four words which start with ‘bi’ or ‘no’. The first no is “bihon”, the refusal of heterosexual marriage. “Bichulsan” is the refusal of childbirth, “biyeonae” is the refusal to date, and “bisekseu” is the rejection of heterosexual sexual relationships. Women in the 4B movement are also known to shave their hair and turn away from conventional beauty standards.
Many women believe that practicing bihon is the only way that a Korean woman can live autonomously because Korean men are beyond redemption. Korean society continues to uphold the patriarchy and misogynistic standards, and despite advocacy and political efforts, there seems to be little change in the country. Women still feel unsafe and the institutions in South Korea are reliant on the patriarchal structures.
Practicing bihon allows women to eliminate any risks associated with heterosexual relationships, such as different forms of violence and trading one's career for housework and childcare. 4B promotes the ideals that women can live autonomously and support themselves without the assistance of a man, especially one who will reinforce misogyny instead of finding ways to combat it.
4B is a creative and badass way of completely denying the patriarchy of its power and taking one’s agency and autonomy back. The 4B movement is estimated to have anywhere between 5000-50,000 members, but the exact numbers are still unknown.
A new mobile app in Southeast Asia is helping members of the LGBTQ+ community find safe and equal employment. GetEqual launched last week in Thailand, and will be launched in Vietnam and Cambodia later this year.
Fearing discrimination in the workplace, many queer people in Southeast Asia turn to freelance work, which can sometimes be an unsustainable practice.
A lot of LGBTQI people in the region do freelance or gig work fearing discrimination in the workplace. They have limited access to jobs…The app is community run and driven, and will focus on building the connections and capacity of LGBTQI workers in the informal sector. It will be a safe zone for the community. - Ryan Figueiredo, founder and executive director of Equal Asia Foundation
The purpose of GetEqual is to tackle workplace discrimination by providing queer people with jobs postings in their area. Finding secure and sustainable work is difficult for queer people around the world, but this app is making the task a little bit easier. Based on the current app usage, GetEqual is expected to have 20,000 users by the end of 2023.
We see enormous potential to provide greater economic opportunities to LGBTQI communities in the region, and improve their access to quality work through the app. It will also allow employers to access the diverse talents and competencies of the community," – Henry Koh, executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Asia
Anna ‘Kajhan’ Zyablikova has called for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Ukraine. (Getty Images). Photo via Pink News.
Queer Ukrainian soldier Anna “Kajhan” Zyablikova is calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country. Given the precarious circumstances in Ukraine, she is advocating for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
Zyablikova is a 30-year old woman who has been serving in the 47th Brigade of Ukraine’s armed forces. She recalls that when the war first began last year, a number of couples got married to ensure their partners would be protected in a time of conflict (i.e. the decision to keep someone on life support or to administer any other treatment). Zyablikova’s partner left her when Russia invaded Ukraine because there were no ways to keep one another safe.
Any person in Ukraine could die any night because those rockets are coming. When you feel like you’re not doing enough for the person you love, it’s suboptimal. – Anna “Kajhan” Zyablikova
At the same time that heterosexual couples were getting married in February of last year to protect themselves and their partners, queer couples were fighting for marriage equality, and they still are. In Ukraine, homosexuality is legal, however same-sex marriage and civil partnerships are not recognized by the state. Last year, a petition was launched which calls for marriage equality to be introduced in Ukraine. President Zelensky has responded to the petition and has agreed to advancing the rights of all, however he wishes to wait until the conflict with Russia is over.
Earlier this month, MP Inna Sovsun proposed a bill which would legally recognize same-sex partnerships in Ukraine.
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Photo via She the People.
An 11-year old Malayali girl from Kerala, India has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that will detect eye disease and other eye-related conditions. Ogler EyeScan, created by Leena Rafeeq, will be a one-of-a-kind mobile app that will assist users around the world with their eye health.
Exciting news! I am thrilled to announce the submission of my new Artificially Intelligent mobile app, named Ogler EyeScan. I created this Ai App at the age of 10. Ogler is capable of detecting various eye diseases and conditions through a unique scanning process with your iPhone. – Leena Rafeeq
Ogler EyeScan uses sophisticated computer vision and machine learning algorithms to analyze different characteristics that can be useful in recognizing eye diseases and conditions (light and colour intensity, distance, etc). Once the scan of the eyes is complete, AI is used to identify any potential conditions such as melanoma and cataracts.
This monumental development in optometric technology has been applauded by individuals around the world. Rafeeq is currently awaiting review from the Apple App Store, but is hopeful that it will be listed soon.
Hana Rafeeq, Leena’s younger sister, is another young activist who is known for being the youngest iOS app developer, creating a storytelling app at the age of 9.
A protest in Berlin for the “equality of all bodies in public space”, in 2021. Photograph: Paul Zinken/AFP/Getty Images. Photo via The Guardian.
Berlin has just implemented legislation which will allow topless female swimmers in the city’s indoor and outdoor public pools. This change is the result of the advocacy and dedication of Lotte Mies, who experienced troubles whilst swimming topless at city pools, even after being given approval.
Mies was asked to leave Kaulsdorf indoor pool and the police were subsequently involved when she protested the rules. She had received approval to bathe topless at the pool, however she was discriminated against from the moment she arrived. She described feeling humiliated as she left, and ensured that she would not back down in her fight against patriarchal bullshit.
I felt very humiliated and that my dignity as a human being was discriminated against because I am a woman, so that certain things and premises were denied to me due to unwritten moral codes that men imposed on women that are still in effect today…It is important to understand that not allowing people the same rights because of their gender is not a matter of opinion, but an act of structural sexism. Everyone should have the same opportunity and, above all, freedom of choice, especially when it comes to their own body. – Lotte Mies
After her complaint to the city’s department for justice, diversity, and anti-discrimination, the department implemented a change to the rules. The department explicitly clarified that anyone, regardless of gender, can be topless at public pools. Now, the only requirement for dressing at pools in Berlin is to cover one’s genitals which means either wearing a full one-piece swimsuit, or just bottoms. Although the change is promising for women and gendered minorities throughout Berlin, Mies knows that there is still a much larger fight for gender equity and equality that lies ahead.
The main problem with the whole topic is that women are exposed to permanent sexualisation and this is equated with sexual availability, and they are treated accordingly. This is the real scandal. We as a society must counteract this socialisation and stop treating women as objects and [start] respecting them. – Lotte Mies
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.