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Global Roundup: Women’s Safety in Ireland, Kenya LGBTQ+ Students Protest, Woman in Viral Dancing Video in Egypt, First Trans Male Sex Worker at Nevada Brothel, All-Women Garage in Nigeria
Compiled by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
Scoil Naomh Colmcille in Durrow, Co Offaly, where Ashling Murphy was a teacher. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times
The killing of primary school teacher in Ireland, Ashling Murphy this week has prompted discussions online about women’s safety. Many women on social media have shared their experiences and perspectives on violence and misogyny.
Murphy was out on a run when she was fatally attacked. Brigid, who is originally from the same area, said the pathway where Murphy was killed was “a familiar walk and running area” that she often took when she lived and worked locally. Fear of violence on the street has led Brigid to stop walking on her own locally.
It triggered in me so many familiar feelings of anger and anxiety. We should be safe to go out for a walk in broad daylight . . . we shouldn’t have to look behind us constantly. But this is the way it is…
It’s a minefield. Every woman is saying this is a man’s problem. Men should be out screaming at the top of their voices for the safety of their daughters, wives and mothers… I don’t know what women could possibly do differently. It’s the justice system that needs to change, and it’s men who need to call out misogynistic behaviour. - Brigid
Many people have noted that there was nothing Murphy could have done differently, as she was jogging in the afternoon in a well lit and well known area. Niamh Nic Ghabhann, a lecturer in the University of Limerick with an interest in the history of public space, said she was struck by how many people had mentioned that Murphy was “in the right place at the right time”.
It points to just how aware we are of what we think of as the wrong place and the wrong time. We have to start thinking about whether we’re building women’s safety into our cities, countryside and infrastructure. - Niamh Nic Ghabhann
Dr Nic Ghabhann said it was important for those involved in the design and planning of public spaces to “listen to the experiences of people experiencing gender-based violence, racial violence and violence based on sexual orientation”.
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWC) has organized a vigil in memory of Murphy to take place outside today.
Ashling Murphy’s killing is yet another tragic reminder that women can take all the supposedly right precautions and still face violence and death. It is unacceptable how normalized it is for women and other marginalized people to constantly fear for their safety. The onus of safety should not be put on women. Women in Ireland and around the world continue to demand for systemic change.
People march in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, during a protest organized by The Queer Republic in Nairobi, Jan.13, 2022. Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha sparked controversy after saying that homosexuals students should be barred from boarding schools/AFP
A group of Kenyan LGBTQ+ students protested this week against Cabinet secretary for education George Magoha’s suggestion that homosexual students be barred from boarding schools. The schools are common in Kenya and the students and rights groups say a ban would be discriminatory and compromise their safety.
Dozens of angry students took to the streets of Nairobi in a peaceful protest to Kenya's Ministry of Education. One of the protesters, MaryLiz Biubwa, said that Magoha’s comment is beginning to have an effect at some schools.
Because of the directive Magoha has given, I have two students who have reached out, one I am planning to start the journey of helping them tomorrow, because she was already sent out of school. She has KCSE [Kenya's certificate of secondary school examination] in March, she can’t go back because she will be told she is gay. - MaryLiz Biubwa
The protesters wrote a two-page petition to the education secretary, calling on him to withdraw his remarks, and to criminalize all types of phobias they say put people's lives at risk, including the lives of homosexual students.
Being a gay student going through high school already was a challenge all the way down to even being very close to being expelled. This already is discriminating me as a child when I was growing up. Now that the government is adding more pressure to institutions to continue discriminating [against] the kids [and] is something that we'll not stand. - Makena Njeri, founder of Bold Africa, a gay rights network
The LGBTQ+ community member leaders who presented their petition to the Ministry of Education are expected to meet with Magoha next week.
Magoha’s directives are blatantly discriminatory and will put young LGBTQ+ people in Kenya in increased danger, in a country that already outlaws homosexuality. LGBTQ+ students are making it clear that they will not accept the homophobic measures.
Egypt has witnessed several cases in which women have been subjected to defamation campaigns on social media [File: Amr Nabil/AP Photo]
In the widely shared video, Aya Youssef, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, is dancing alongside colleagues, smiling as she enjoys a river cruise on the Nile. Youssef, in a recent interview with a private TV channel, said she had been “happy” on the trip and that her moves were “spontaneous”.
Some critics accuse her of breaching the conservative values of society while others stand firmly with her in solidarity. It comes as rights groups warn of a broadening crackdown on freedom in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took office in 2014.
Youssef was sacked from her job initially, but was reinstated after the subsequent outcry. Nihad Abu al-Qumsan, head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, defended the teacher and offered her a job.
We will ask the court about the correct dance rules – so that all women would conform to the right rules if they dance in their brother’s or their son’s weddings, or at birthdays. - Nihad Abu al-Qumsa
Youssef’s husband divorced her after watching the video, which prompted an angry reaction from popular Egyptian actress Somaya el-Khashab, who noted the double standards as there are “so many women who stand by their men when they even go to prison, for example, or don’t abandon their husbands when their conditions deteriorate.”
The negative criticism and reaction to Aya Youssef’s video along with other recent similar cases, including the dozen social media “influencers” arrested in 2020 for “attacking society’s values” in Egypt, point to the pervasive misogyny that seeks to control women’s actions and make them feel shame. However, women in Egypt refuse to be submissive and accept the patriarchy’s control.
Mikayla Whitmore via them.us
Branden Hughes was working at a legal brothel in Nevada in 2019 when he revealed to his employers that he was trans and ready to transition. However, he was told to wait because they wouldn’t know how to market him. Presenting as female at work and male while off the clock took its toll, particularly because he lived at the brothel, which had a lockdown policy.
Eventually, he started feeling uncomfortable working at the brothel. Finally, he left and was faced with a choice: Continue working legally as “Bunnie” in another brothel — or work illegally as Braden, because no brothels at the time were hiring trans guys. It was a difficult decision as brothels protect trans people and sex workers from the cops. The third option, which was a long shot, was to try and find work in a brothel as Braden, making him the first legal trans male sex worker in the modern history of the United States.
Dr. Barbara Brents, a sociologist at University of Nevada-Las Vegas who studies Nevada’s prostitution industry, believes “the whole setup of brothels have traditionally been geared toward a male client, heterosexual gaze kind of thing” and they have done little to appeal to women. Brothels are typically not as open to gender fluidity. As such, there are rarely men in brothels.
In addition, Nevada brothels are wary of embracing trans workers for political reasons. Dr. Brents notes that the industry has managed to stay legal by being “as vanilla mainstream heterosexual as one can be.”
Hughes decided he was going to remain in the legal industry, so he scoped out the Chicken Ranch, a Nye County brothel, where they accepted him. With the brothel’s approval, he began medically transitioning as well. He changed his name from “Bunnie” to Braden, changed the gender marker on his Nye County Sheriff's card, and began working as a trans man, marketing himself as “Nevada’s First Boyfriend,” and “100% legal,” the latter more a necessary branding tactic than a point of pride.
I really hate that I have to emphasize [I’m] legal because it harkens to calling people illegals. Can we just decriminalize all this bullshit? – Branden Hughes
Hughes and the management have taken several measures to make the brothel safer for trans workers, hopefully laying the groundwork for more to come. Ultimately, Hughes hopes that his presence in legal brothels will lead “the next generation of trans sex workers [to] have a safe place to work.”
Hughes is breaking down barriers for trans sex workers. It is important to continue working towards a future where no sex workers are “illegal” and all sex workers can live freely and on their own terms, especially LGBTQ+, racialized and other marginalized sex workers.
Over a two-year apprenticeship, the young women are trained in all aspects of car maintenance. Photograph: Courtesy of NADDC via The Guardian
Nana Female Mechanic Garage is the first all-female garage to open in the northern Nigerian state of Sokoto, where 25 young apprentices work. The workshop aims to provide jobs for women in an industry dominated by men and challenge traditional gender roles.
It is not just an ordinary female mechanic shop. We want it to be of international standard, where women specifically can get the best services. And for that to happen, we must really train the girls. We want to be scientific. - Fatima Adamu, founder of the non-profit organization Nana: Girls and Women Empowerment Initiative
Over a two-year apprenticeship, the women are trained and given a weekly allowance of 2,100 naira (£3.75). They also have access to a shared computer to browse learning resources online. Most of the first cohort will stay on after the end of their apprenticeship. The program has been so successful that there is already a waiting list for the new apprentice scheme starting this month.
I want our women to get out of the societal norms that bind them. There are so many technology-related activities that women are excluded from in this part of the country. We cannot succeed in northern Nigeria without technology, and women must be part of that journey. - Fatima Adamu
One of the apprentices, Zainab Dayyabu, 23, says her parents were concerned that being a mechanic meant that she wouldn’t find a suitor as it is heavy work for females. She decided to apply anyway and didn’t want her gender to be a barrier to her goals. She says her parents are her biggest cheerleaders today.
At some point, I wanted to drop out … but my mum kept encouraging me. In the next few years, probably two or three, I want to be independent and have my own garage. - Zainab Dayyabu
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.