Kathrine Switzer

Published on May 15, 2012 Kathrine Switzer on the prejudices women athletes faced, her historic Boston Marathon run, and the doors it opened for other women athletes. http://www.makers.com/kathrine-switzer Kathrine Switzer wasn’t the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, but … Continue reading

Published on May 15, 2012

Kathrine Switzer on the prejudices women athletes faced, her historic Boston Marathon run, and the doors it opened for other women athletes. http://www.makers.com/kathrine-switzer

Kathrine Switzer wasn’t the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, but her presence as an official entrant made her a visible and potent threat to the sports world’s status quo. The simple gesture exploded when an official attacked Switzer on the course. The incident was broadcasted worldwide and put a shocking face on the hostility to women’s full participation in athletics. Her 38 subsequent marathons (she’s still running them) include a win in New York in 1974. She led the successful drive to get the women’s race into the Olympic Games, has won an Emmy for her TV commentary, and is the author of three books, including her memoir, Marathon Woman. Switzer’s ongoing campaign to help women around the globe empower themselves through the simple act of running made her a 2011 Inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


Women vs. ISIS

Published on Jun 21, 2015 In the face of the deadly threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, many Kurdish women decide not to leave their survival to fate. Instead, they fight for their lives and their future. Taking up … Continue reading

Published on Jun 21, 2015
In the face of the deadly threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, many Kurdish women decide not to leave their survival to fate. Instead, they fight for their lives and their future. Taking up arms, they join the YPG – Kurdish People’s Protection Units that defend their town’s borders from the militants. The enemy fears female warriors. Jihadists believe if they are killed by a woman they will go straight to hell.


Hobby Lobby

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA. While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could … Continue reading

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA.

While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could be further from the truth. The door is now wide open for corporations to run to court saying they can discriminate in a variety of ways.

Some key points about Hobby Lobby:

As Justice Ginsberg noted in her dissent, “‘Closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small.’” America’s five largest “closely held” corporations alone employ more than 436,000 people — one of those companies being the $115 billion, 60,000-employee Koch Industries. And the Washington Post reported that, according to a 2000 study, “closely held” is a term that covers as much as 90 percent (or more) of all businesses, and studies from Columbia University and New York University showed that closely held corporations employed 52 percent of the American workforce.
The duplicitousness of pretending that limiting the ruling to “closely held” corporations really limits it substantially in scope goes beyond just the size and number of “closely held” corporations. In providing no actual reasoning as to why only “closely held” corporations would be afforded religious rights under RFRA, Justice Alito’s Hobby Lobby decision certainly could pave the way for all corporations — even publicly traded ones — to claim these rights.
Many on the Religious Right are already asserting employers’ right to discriminate against LGBT people. While Hobby Lobby states that employers cannot claim religious objections in order to discriminate based on race, it says nothing about sex or sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court ponders the contraceptive mandate

ON March 25th the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”, was back before the Supreme Court. Two years ago the justices upheld most of the law. This week they heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

The legal merits of these cases revolve around the concept of  Corporate personhood


Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:

  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.

(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this “sociopathic” entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving too much power to corporations to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

Campaign finance law in the United States changed drastically in the wake of two 2010 judicial opinions: the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SpeechNow.org v. FEC.[42] According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service report, these two decisions constitute “the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades.” [43]

Citizens United struck down, on free speech grounds, the limits on the ability of organizations that accepted corporate or union money from running electioneering communications. The Court reasoned that the restrictions permitted by Buckley were justified based on avoiding corruption or the appearance of corruption, and that this rationale did not apply to corporate donations to independent organizations. Citizens United overruled the 1990 case Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in which the Supreme Court upheld the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections.

Two months later, a unanimous nine-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided SpeechNow, which relied on Citizens United to hold that Congress could not limit donations to organizations that only made independent expenditures, that is, expenditures that were “uncoordinated” with a candidate’s campaign. These decisions led to the rise of “independent-expenditure only” PACs, commonly known as “Super PACs.” Super PACs, under Citizens United and SpeechNow, can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors and use those funds for electioneering advertisements, provided that the Super PAC does not coordinate with a candidate.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Just as an example, Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did.

The Standard Oil group of companies, in which the Rockefeller family owned a one-quarter (and controlling) interest,1 was of critical assistance in helping Nazi Germany prepare for World War II. This assistance in military preparation came about because Germany’s relatively insignificant supplies of crude petroleum were quite insufficient for modern mechanized warfare; in 1934 for instance about 85 percent of German finished petroleum products were imported. The solution adopted by Nazi Germany was to manufacture synthetic gasoline from its plentiful domestic coal supplies. It was the hydrogenation process of producing synthetic gasoline and iso-octane properties in gasoline that enabled Germany to go to war in 1940 — and this hydrogenation process was developed and financed by the Standard Oil laboratories in the United States in partnership with I.G. Farben.

Evidence presented to the Truman, Bone, and Kilgore Committees after World War II confirmed that Standard Oil had at the same time “seriously imperiled the war preparations of the United States.”2Documentary evidence was presented to all three Congressional committees that before World War II Standard Oil had agreed with I.G. Farben, in the so-called Jasco agreement, that synthetic rubber was within Farben’s sphere of influence, while Standard Oil was to have an absolute monopoly in the U.S. only if and when Farben allowed development of synthetic rubber to take place in the U.S.

Fanta is a global brand of fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks created by The Coca-Cola Company. There are over 100 flavors worldwide. The drink originated in Germany in 1941.

Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.[2] To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and pomace – the “leftovers of leftovers”, as Keith later recalled.[2][3] The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith exhorting his team to “use their imagination” (“Fantasie” in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted “Fanta!”[3]

While the plant was effectively cut off from Coca Cola headquarters during the war, plant management did not join the Nazi Party. After the war, the Coca Cola corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product — as well as the plant profits made during the war

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth–because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.

Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea Party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

Republican Jodie Laubenberg, who co-authored Texas strict anti-abortion laws in 2013, (because she says she believes that “life begins at conception”) also opposed healthcare for newly developing fetuses. Laubenberg testified that the unborn should not be entitled to health care, because “they aren’t born yet.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) the single most important factor for a healthy pregnancy is a healthy mother. This means that every woman who is of child-bearing age should have regular health screenings, as well as access to services and medications which can help diagnose, prevent, treat or cure chronic or temporary health conditions.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.

In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.

“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


She is Malala

In a young age, Malala had earned the respect and support of the world. On October 09, 2012, the taliban shot her in the head while she rode home on a bus. In attempting to obliterate Malala’s words, the Taliban instead, just amplified her message far beyond the Swat Valley, calling attention to the justice of her cause in every corner of the world. During that incident, when Malala was about to be shot, the Taliban asked “Which one is Malala?” Now the whole world knows which one is Malala.

Born on the 12th of July 1997, Malala was given her first name after a famous Pashtun poet and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan, Malalai of Maiwand. Her last name, Yousafzai, is that of a large Pashtun tribal confederation that is predominant in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where she grew up. At her house in Mingora, she lived with her two younger brothers, her parents, and two pet chickens.

Malala was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner, and an educational activist himself, running a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. She once stated to an interviewer that she would like to become a doctor, though later her father encouraged her to become a politician instead. Ziauddin referred to his daughter as something entirely special, permitting her to stay up at night and talk about politics after her two brothers had been sent to bed.

Malala started speaking about education rights as early as September 2008, when her father took her to Peshawar to speak at the local press club.

«How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?» Malala asked her audience in a speech covered by newspapers and television channels throughout the region.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is a thought provoking book.

Malala spoke with telling affection about her home country, and about the Pakistani people’s desire for prosperity, dignity and peace. Of the Taliban, whose threats against her continue, she expressed only the prayer that their children, all of their children, will have access to a real education as well. Mixed with the courage in her words, there is both personal humility and profound confidence; with passion in her voice, she summons everyone to unleash the power of young minds; to fight back against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism; and to know in our hearts that – again, in her words – “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

“Education is the only solution,” she declares, adding that, with sufficient bravery and respect for one another “No one can stop us.”

The first thing that impressed me was the universality of the story. The specifics are different but there is a parallel between Pakistan, The US, and the Taliban, and Mexico, The US, and the drug cartels.

The origin of the Taliban can be traced to the CIA, The grandfather of the modern Mexican drug cartels was Nassar Haro, a director of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad.  According to Peter Dale Scott, the Dirección Federal de Seguridad was in part a CIA creation, and “the CIA’s closest government allies were for years in the DFS”. DFS badges, “handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers, have been labelled by DEA agents a virtual ‘license to traffic.’” Scott says that “The Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nassar (or Nazar) Haro, a CIA asset.

The Pakistani government makes a show of fighting the Taliban, harassing the populace, while high ranking generals regularly have  lunch with the Taliban leadership. The Mexican government makes a show of fighting the Drug Cartels while high ranking government officials regularly have lunch with the Cartles leadership.

But the main message is that Malala is just a regular, tough hard driven, teenage girl. She describes how when in Abu Dabi, she started to panic  just at the look of Arabic men filling the street, and how she calmed herself by recalling that she already came back from the dead. If she can fight for her rights, could we?



In a young age, Malala had earned the respect and support of the world. On October 09, 2012, the taliban shot her in the head while she rode home on a bus. In attempting to obliterate Malala’s words, the Taliban instead, just amplified her message far beyond the Swat Valley, calling attention to the justice of her cause in every corner of the world. During that incident, when Malala was about to be shot, the Taliban asked “Which one is Malala?” Now the whole world knows which one is Malala.

Born on the 12th of July 1997, Malala was given her first name after a famous Pashtun poet and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan, Malalai of Maiwand. Her last name, Yousafzai, is that of a large Pashtun tribal confederation that is predominant in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where she grew up. At her house in Mingora, she lived with her two younger brothers, her parents, and two pet chickens.

Malala was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner, and an educational activist himself, running a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. She once stated to an interviewer that she would like to become a doctor, though later her father encouraged her to become a politician instead. Ziauddin referred to his daughter as something entirely special, permitting her to stay up at night and talk about politics after her two brothers had been sent to bed.

Malala started speaking about education rights as early as September 2008, when her father took her to Peshawar to speak at the local press club.

"How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?" Malala asked her audience in a speech covered by newspapers and television channels throughout the region.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is a thought provoking book.

Malala spoke with telling affection about her home country, and about the Pakistani people’s desire for prosperity, dignity and peace. Of the Taliban, whose threats against her continue, she expressed only the prayer that their children, all of their children, will have access to a real education as well. Mixed with the courage in her words, there is both personal humility and profound confidence; with passion in her voice, she summons everyone to unleash the power of young minds; to fight back against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism; and to know in our hearts that – again, in her words – “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

“Education is the only solution,” she declares, adding that, with sufficient bravery and respect for one another “No one can stop us.”

The first thing that impressed me was the universality of the story. The specifics are different but there is a parallel between Pakistan, The US, and the Taliban, and Mexico, The US, and the drug cartels.

The origin of the Taliban can be traced to the CIA, The grandfather of the modern Mexican drug cartels was Nassar Haro, a director of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad.  According to Peter Dale Scott, the Dirección Federal de Seguridad was in part a CIA creation, and “the CIA’s closest government allies were for years in the DFS”. DFS badges, “handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers, have been labelled by DEA agents a virtual ‘license to traffic.’” Scott says that “The Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nassar (or Nazar) Haro, a CIA asset.

The Pakistani government makes a show of fighting the Taliban, harassing the populace, while high ranking generals regularly have  lunch with the Taliban leadership. The Mexican government makes a show of fighting the Drug Cartels while high ranking government officials regularly have lunch with the Cartles leadership.

But the main message is that Malala is just a regular, tough hard driven, teenage girl. She describes how when in Abu Dabi, she started to panic  just at the look of Arabic men filling the street, and how she calmed herself by recalling that she already came back from the dead. If she can fight for her rights, could we?



Nakusa

Jan. 26, 2014 9:12 AM EST

NEW DELHI (AP) — In the hours after her 6-year-old daughter was kidnapped, screaming in terror as she was dragged away from home, Rimaila Awungshi appealed for help from the most powerful authority she knew — the council of elders in her rural Indian village.

In her anguish, Awungshi told the village leaders what happened. She was a single mother to a beloved little girl named Yinring, whose name translates as «living in God’s shelter.» Her ex-boyfriend had refused to marry her or care for their child. But as the years passed and he never found a wife, his family demanded custody.

«But I am poor, and I have no brothers, and the village authority doesn’t care,» Awungshi said in a telephone interview from her home in remote northeast India.

Across much of rural India, these powerful and deeply conservative local councils are the law of the land. They serve as judge and jury, dictating everything from custody cases to how women should dress to whether young lovers deserve to live or die.

They often enforce strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

These unelected and unregulated courts now are coming under fresh scrutiny after police say a council of elders in West Bengal ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman as punishment for falling in love with the man from a different community.

«We are going back to the 16th century,» Pradip Bhattacharya, a politician in West Bengal, said this week as news of the gang rape began to spread in a country already reeling from a string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against women.

Village councils are common in India with vast rural communities, serving as the only practical means of delivering justice in areas where local governments are either too far away or too ineffective to mediate disputes. Often, the elders try to halt the march of the modern world, enforcing strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

In some of the most extreme cases, the councils have sanctioned so-called honor killings, usually against women suspected of out-of-wedlock sex. Known as khap panchayats in northern India, the councils act with impunity because villagers risk being ostracized if they flout the rulings.

The courts can be especially harsh toward women, enforcing the most conservative aspects a patriarchal system that is deeply entrenched in Indian society.


5 January 2013 Last updated at 01:07 GMT

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi’s posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.

Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

«There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There’s a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers – stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape.»

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused – they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have «voluntarily» consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as «second-class citizens» and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.


She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital. 
Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now hasconvinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.
The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita’s petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there’s a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.
The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long. 
According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them. 
Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Kristiane and the Change.org team


Prawesh Lama & Bhuvan Bagga

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/a-woman-is-raped-every-18-hrs-in-delhi/1/125779.html

This is what you feared but hoped was not true – crime-prone Delhi has turned against women, making them the target of assault each day. There are hard facts to prove this.

New figures released by the Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the Capital. Shockingly, the majority of the attackers are below 25 years.
The crime graph is heading north. Expect it to rise further in 2011, says Delhi Police commissioner Brijesh Kumar Gupta.

Girl molested every 14 hrs in Delhi.
A girl is molested every 14 hours in Delhi.

The number of rape cases in the city increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009 there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours.

Provocation for murders.
Provocation for murders.

The cases of molestation of women have also increased in 2010. While there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009, such cases went up to 585 in 2010 – or once every 14 hours. Police investigations have established that the attackers were overwhelmingly from within the circle of family and acquaintances of the victims. Of the persons arrested for rape, only 4 per cent were strangers and 96 per cent were known to victim or her family.
A staggering 56 per cent accused in rape cases were below the age of 25. Similarly in molestation cases, 92 per cent accused were known to the victims. Of the 765 accused arrested, 58 per cent were below the age of 25, the police figures show.
Police chief Gupta said the rise in crime figures in the coming months will also be the result of higher registration of cases to make sure that criminals are pursued and caught.
Acknowledging how the non-registration of cases has played a key role in suppressing the crime rate in the city, the police commissioner felt this also allowed criminals to go scot free.
«The Delhi Police have a detection rate of 87.86 per cent in heinous crimes,» Gupta said, adding that the registration of cases will mean that the police would have to investigate and bring criminals to task. This would go a long way in making Delhi a safer place for women.


29 December 2012 Last updated at 12:39 GMT

Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests in India’s capital, Delhi, following the death of a woman who was gang-raped in the city.

The 23-year old woman, who has not been identified, died of her injuries on Saturday in Singapore, where she had been taken for specialist treatment.

Six men arrested in connection with the rape have now been charged with murder.

The attack on 16 December triggered violent public protests over attitudes towards women in India.

Two police officers have already been suspended.

There has also been an angry reaction in the Indian media, with one editorial in the Times of India calling for wider changes in society and an awareness that as well as attacks on the street, there are «a thousand unheard voices» of women who face sexual violence at home.

Our correspondent says that over the past two weeks, the anonymous woman has became a symbol of a much larger cause than her own, with protesters focusing on the wider issue of how women are treated in India.

Even after her funeral, the sentiment will continue, he adds, with the public pushing the government to take steps to make people feel more confident about the way women are treated.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was «very saddened» by the woman’s death, and that the angry public reaction was «perfectly understandable».

«It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action,» he said in a statement.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside «narrow sectional interest» and work together to make India «a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in».

The woman – a medical student – and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.


MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean «unwanted» in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.
A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony Saturday that it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespreadgender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.
The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.
In shedding names like «Nakusa» or «Nakushi,» which mean «unwanted» in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars such as «Aishwarya» or Hindu goddesses like «Savitri.» Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as «Vaishali,» or «prosperous, beautiful and good.»
«Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,» said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name «Ashmita,» which means «very tough» or «rock hard» in Hindi.
The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year’s census showed the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.
Maharashtra state’s ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower, at 881.
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.
Over the years, and again now, efforts have been made to fight the discrimination.
«Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned,» said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.
Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.
Activists say the name «unwanted,» which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.
«When the child thinks about it, you know, ‘My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,’ she will feel very bad and depressed,» said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.
«We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat,» she said.





Jan. 26, 2014 9:12 AM EST

NEW DELHI (AP) — In the hours after her 6-year-old daughter was kidnapped, screaming in terror as she was dragged away from home, Rimaila Awungshi appealed for help from the most powerful authority she knew — the council of elders in her rural Indian village.

In her anguish, Awungshi told the village leaders what happened. She was a single mother to a beloved little girl named Yinring, whose name translates as "living in God's shelter." Her ex-boyfriend had refused to marry her or care for their child. But as the years passed and he never found a wife, his family demanded custody.

"But I am poor, and I have no brothers, and the village authority doesn't care," Awungshi said in a telephone interview from her home in remote northeast India.

Across much of rural India, these powerful and deeply conservative local councils are the law of the land. They serve as judge and jury, dictating everything from custody cases to how women should dress to whether young lovers deserve to live or die.

They often enforce strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

These unelected and unregulated courts now are coming under fresh scrutiny after police say a council of elders in West Bengal ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman as punishment for falling in love with the man from a different community.

"We are going back to the 16th century," Pradip Bhattacharya, a politician in West Bengal, said this week as news of the gang rape began to spread in a country already reeling from a string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against women.

Village councils are common in India with vast rural communities, serving as the only practical means of delivering justice in areas where local governments are either too far away or too ineffective to mediate disputes. Often, the elders try to halt the march of the modern world, enforcing strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

In some of the most extreme cases, the councils have sanctioned so-called honor killings, usually against women suspected of out-of-wedlock sex. Known as khap panchayats in northern India, the councils act with impunity because villagers risk being ostracized if they flout the rulings.

The courts can be especially harsh toward women, enforcing the most conservative aspects a patriarchal system that is deeply entrenched in Indian society.



5 January 2013 Last updated at 01:07 GMT

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi's posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.




Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

"There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There's a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers - stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape."

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused - they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have "voluntarily" consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as "second-class citizens" and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.



She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital. 
Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now hasconvinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.
The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita's petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there's a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.
The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long. 
According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them. 
Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Kristiane and the Change.org team



Prawesh Lama & Bhuvan Bagga

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/a-woman-is-raped-every-18-hrs-in-delhi/1/125779.html





This is what you feared but hoped was not true - crime-prone Delhi has turned against women, making them the target of assault each day. There are hard facts to prove this.

New figures released by the Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the Capital. Shockingly, the majority of the attackers are below 25 years.
The crime graph is heading north. Expect it to rise further in 2011, says Delhi Police commissioner Brijesh Kumar Gupta.
Girl molested every 14 hrs in Delhi.
A girl is molested every 14 hours in Delhi.
The number of rape cases in the city increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009 there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours.
Provocation for murders.
Provocation for murders.
The cases of molestation of women have also increased in 2010. While there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009, such cases went up to 585 in 2010 - or once every 14 hours. Police investigations have established that the attackers were overwhelmingly from within the circle of family and acquaintances of the victims. Of the persons arrested for rape, only 4 per cent were strangers and 96 per cent were known to victim or her family.
A staggering 56 per cent accused in rape cases were below the age of 25. Similarly in molestation cases, 92 per cent accused were known to the victims. Of the 765 accused arrested, 58 per cent were below the age of 25, the police figures show.
Police chief Gupta said the rise in crime figures in the coming months will also be the result of higher registration of cases to make sure that criminals are pursued and caught.
Acknowledging how the non-registration of cases has played a key role in suppressing the crime rate in the city, the police commissioner felt this also allowed criminals to go scot free.
"The Delhi Police have a detection rate of 87.86 per cent in heinous crimes," Gupta said, adding that the registration of cases will mean that the police would have to investigate and bring criminals to task. This would go a long way in making Delhi a safer place for women.




29 December 2012 Last updated at 12:39 GMT


Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests in India's capital, Delhi, following the death of a woman who was gang-raped in the city.

The 23-year old woman, who has not been identified, died of her injuries on Saturday in Singapore, where she had been taken for specialist treatment.



Six men arrested in connection with the rape have now been charged with murder.

The attack on 16 December triggered violent public protests over attitudes towards women in India.

Two police officers have already been suspended.

There has also been an angry reaction in the Indian media, with one editorial in the Times of India calling for wider changes in society and an awareness that as well as attacks on the street, there are "a thousand unheard voices" of women who face sexual violence at home.

Our correspondent says that over the past two weeks, the anonymous woman has became a symbol of a much larger cause than her own, with protesters focusing on the wider issue of how women are treated in India.

Even after her funeral, the sentiment will continue, he adds, with the public pushing the government to take steps to make people feel more confident about the way women are treated.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "very saddened" by the woman's death, and that the angry public reaction was "perfectly understandable".

"It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action," he said in a statement.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside "narrow sectional interest" and work together to make India "a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in".

The woman - a medical student - and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.





MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean "unwanted" in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.
A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony Saturday that it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespreadgender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.
The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.
In shedding names like "Nakusa" or "Nakushi," which mean "unwanted" in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars such as "Aishwarya" or Hindu goddesses like "Savitri." Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as "Vaishali," or "prosperous, beautiful and good."
"Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy," said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name "Ashmita," which means "very tough" or "rock hard" in Hindi.
The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year's census showed the nation's sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.
Maharashtra state's ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower, at 881.
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.
Over the years, and again now, efforts have been made to fight the discrimination.
"Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned," said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.
Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.
Activists say the name "unwanted," which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.
"When the child thinks about it, you know, 'My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,' she will feel very bad and depressed," said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.
"We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat," she said.

a controversial scrap of papyrus

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor, CNN (CNN) A team of scientists has concluded that a controversial scrap of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus referring to “my wife,” is not a fake, according to the Harvard Theological Review. “A wide … Continue reading

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor, CNN
(CNN) A team of scientists has concluded that a controversial scrap of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus referring to “my wife,” is not a fake, according to the Harvard Theological Review.


“A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, ‘Jesus said to them, my wife’ is an ancient document, dating between the sixth to ninth centuries CE. Its contents may originally have been composed as early as the second to fourth centuries,” Harvard Divinity School said in a statement.
Tests of the papyrus and the carbon ink, as well as analysis of the handwriting and grammar, “all indicate that the existing material fragment dates to between the sixth and ninth centuries CE,” Harvard said.
“None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery,” the divinity school added.
Unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, the scrap sparked a heated debate over Christian history, archaeological accuracy and modern media coverage of contested ancient history.
The scrap does not prove that Jesus actually had a wife, said a Harvard historian, Karen King.
“The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus — a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued,” King said in a statement.


women in Islam

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.

It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.


PUBLISHED: 14:41 GMT, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 14:42 GMT, 24 January 2013

Saudi Arabia’s feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear – but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women’s dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country’s strict Islamic laws.


Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful «mutaween» police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn’t happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent «mistreatment» of the girls. He asserted that they didn’t interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls’ education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls’ education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards «reform».


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.


(CNN) — Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women’s rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

«The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can’t be established if women are left behind,» said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

«At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, ‘It’s not the time to discuss women’s issues — we are at war, it’s a revolution,’ or whatever. It’s our time to say ‘We need our rights,'» she added.


RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.


International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC’s warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don’t issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas’s participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn’t not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she’d have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.

Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East -- setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.




Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.



|

Saudi Arabia's feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear - but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women's dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country's strict Islamic laws.




Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn't happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent "mistreatment" of the girls. He asserted that they didn't interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls' education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls' education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards "reform".


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.





(CNN) -- Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women's rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

"The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can't be established if women are left behind," said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

"At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, 'It's not the time to discuss women's issues -- we are at war, it's a revolution,' or whatever. It's our time to say 'We need our rights,'" she added.



RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.



International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they're clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC's warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country's all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can't produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don't issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas's participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn't not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she'd have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.


Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

hyper-fertile baby machines

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.

Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
«The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth». Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References


A Frightening Analysis

We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American’s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, «Mexifornia,» explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, «If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'»

«Here is how they do it,» Lamm said: First to destroy America, «Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.»

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, «Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, «We could make the United States a ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'»

Lamm said, «I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.»

«Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.»

«My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.»

«My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.

A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.

«E. Pluribus Unum» — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.»

«Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘x! xenophobes’ halt discussion and debate.»

«Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.»

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, «Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.»

There was no applause.

A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate ‘diversity.’ American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s book «1984.» In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: «War is peace,» «Freedom is slavery,» and «Ignorance is strength.»

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don’t get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:


Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.



What is the future of Spanish in the United States?

BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).






Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name «Mexifornia» comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means «the race.» There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of «Das Volk.» Any time you have a word for «the people,» but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was — it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women’s Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as «hyper-fertile baby machines» who «breed like rabbits.» Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific «breeders.»

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, «That is such an important topic. They have so many children!» Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the «huge problem» of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women’s fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to «Save Our State» from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition’s backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and «hyper-fertility» of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as «breeders» over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as «breeding like rabbits» was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women’s childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women’s lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women’s reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as «breeders.»

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of «Mexican-origin women’s fertility» through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women’s hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the «indirect effect» of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women’s reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women’s fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

«I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case.»

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women’s Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker’s observations confirmed Hernández’s argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was «socially motivated.»

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women’s Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women’s fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as «hyper-fertile» that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation’s population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the «dramatic rise» in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the «soaring» rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the ‘strong family ties’ of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan’s much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women’s reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico’s population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico’s women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or «medicalized,» practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, «Once Puerto Rican women’s reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women’s reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control.»

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California’s Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the «Save Our State» initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and «stealing» health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition’s expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out «poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education.»

Fear of the «Latinization» of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects «the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times.» Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that «every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency.» According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on «The Hispanic Challenge.» In Who Are We? The Challenge to America’s National Identity, Huntington wrote that «the single most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American ‘natives.'» Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these «floods» of immigrants are not stopped, the country’s cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a «new twist» in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 «all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism (‘scientific racism’), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant ‘problem.'» In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women’s reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a «social problem.»

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are «constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process.» Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that «analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues.» My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to «turn the camera around» to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the «truth» of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating «truths» about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one’s primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their «unusually high rates» and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women’s fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of «fertility.» Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis «can be used to analyze ‘reproduction’ as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control.» Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the «ideological effects» of these discursive constructions implies that «these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced.» Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as «the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed,» and as «a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.» Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as «hyper-fertile» must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts’s treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, «Regulating Black women’s fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women’s childbearing.»

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that «controlling images» such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins’s ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as «powerful ideological justifications» for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that «schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images.» It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as «bad mothers,» the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women’s procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda’s research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: «the texts described California women as ‘remarkably fecund’ and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children.» These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled «Perils of the Mexican Invasion,» published in the North American Review: «At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children…. This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?» Concerns about a possible «Mexican invasion» of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies’ ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading «The Mexican Conquest»: «The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot.»

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite «fecund.» Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that «it would take 14,641 American fathers…at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence.»

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, «It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits.» The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented «the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women’s potential role in Americanization was most highly valued.» Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a «Christian Americanization» program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: «If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride.»

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women’s values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, «the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a ‘greaser invasion,’ while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world.» Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, «An exaggerated ‘super-mother’ figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce.»

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women’s motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, «Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming.»

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women’s lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a «generalized ideology of domination,» by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women’s fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between «ideas» about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women’s fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as «breeders» in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.
Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
"The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth". Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References




A Frightening Analysis


We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.



Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"



"Here is how they do it," Lamm said: First to destroy America, "Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans."



Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.



Third, "We could make the United States a 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'"



Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."



"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."



"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."



"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.



A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.



"E. Pluribus Unum" — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."



"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'x! xenophobes' halt discussion and debate."



"Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."



In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."



There was no applause.



A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."



Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.



Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:



Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.






What is the future of Spanish in the United States?



BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).





Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name "Mexifornia" comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means "the race." There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of "Das Volk." Any time you have a word for "the people," but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was -- it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women's Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as "hyper-fertile baby machines" who "breed like rabbits." Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific "breeders."

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, "That is such an important topic. They have so many children!" Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the "huge problem" of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation's racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women's fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to "Save Our State" from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition's backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and "hyper-fertility" of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as "breeders" over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as "breeding like rabbits" was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women's childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women's lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women's reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as "breeders."

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of "Mexican-origin women's fertility" through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women's hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the "indirect effect" of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women's reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women's fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

"I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case."

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women's Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker's observations confirmed Hernández's argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was "socially motivated."

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women's Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women's fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as "hyper-fertile" that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation's population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the "dramatic rise" in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the "soaring" rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the 'strong family ties' of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan's much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women's reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico's population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico's women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or "medicalized," practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, "Once Puerto Rican women's reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women's reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control."

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California's Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the "Save Our State" initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and "stealing" health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition's expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out "poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education."

Fear of the "Latinization" of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects "the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times." Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that "every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency." According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on "The Hispanic Challenge." In Who Are We? The Challenge to America's National Identity, Huntington wrote that "the single most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American 'natives.'" Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these "floods" of immigrants are not stopped, the country's cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a "new twist" in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 "all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism ('scientific racism'), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant 'problem.'" In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women's reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a "social problem."

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are "constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process." Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that "analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues." My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to "turn the camera around" to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the "truth" of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating "truths" about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one's primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their "unusually high rates" and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women's fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of "fertility." Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis "can be used to analyze 'reproduction' as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control." Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the "ideological effects" of these discursive constructions implies that "these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced." Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as "the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed," and as "a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized." Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as "hyper-fertile" must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts's treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, "Regulating Black women's fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women's childbearing."

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that "controlling images" such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins's ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as "powerful ideological justifications" for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that "schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images." It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as "bad mothers," the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women's procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda's research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: "the texts described California women as 'remarkably fecund' and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children." These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled "Perils of the Mexican Invasion," published in the North American Review: "At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children.... This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?" Concerns about a possible "Mexican invasion" of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies' ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading "The Mexican Conquest": "The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot."

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite "fecund." Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that "it would take 14,641 American fathers...at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence."

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, "It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits." The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented "the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women's potential role in Americanization was most highly valued." Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a "Christian Americanization" program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: "If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride."

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women's values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, "the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a 'greaser invasion,' while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world." Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, "An exaggerated 'super-mother' figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce."

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women's motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, "Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming."

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women's lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a "generalized ideology of domination," by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women's fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between "ideas" about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women's fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as "breeders" in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity

Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.


Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.

The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.


A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country’s ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.
Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.



Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.



The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.




A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.