El Salvador: prison terms for stillbirth

An El Salvador teenage rape victim has been temporarily released from prison. Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn. Cruz passed out from blood loss while giving birth in a pit latrine at her home in her small rural community. During her trial she said she had been raped repeatedly by a gang member, but was afraid to report it, and did not know she was pregnant.

Imelda Cortez was raped by her 71-year-old stepfather from the time she was 12. When she started bleeding heavily in the toilet, her mother rushed her to the hospital, where the doctor called police, who arrested her. The stepfather visited her in hospital and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported him.  The paternity was confirmed by DNA test, but he was not charged with any crime.

Some 30 other women have been freed, but there are at least 20 women still in prison after having miscarriages under El Salvador’s strict abortion laws.

Organizers have been trying to change the laws, like Sara Garcia Gross, of Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, or  Keyla Cáceres of Seguimos Unidos, or “Las 17” (the seventeen) for the 17 women originally identified in 2013.


MBS releases 2,000 Pakistanis from Saudi prisons, women drivers still in jail

Last October journalist Jamal Khashoggi was hacked to death inside a Saudi embassy in Turkey, and a few days later, international leaders boycotted a Saudi investment conference in protest.  But not Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Now Saudi Crown Prince “MBS” (Mohammed bin Salman) is visiting Pakistan.

During a joint public appearance, Khan asked MBS to look into the Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails, mostly on immigration and visa violations. MBS responded “Consider me ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia” and later his delegation announced the release of more than 2,100 Pakistani prisoners.

Pakistan also got $20 billion in aid from the Saudis.

But what about the Saudi women drivers? Who is their ambassador? Who speaks for all the women kidnapped and imprisoned in this region?

The most recent prisoner list is here, with some pics: “Female power in Saudi Arabia”: documentary or apologetic? The British Independent also published a list in January:

… “Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Saada, and Hatoon al-Fassi, all women’s rights activists. Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a lawyer; Abdulaziz Meshaal, a philanthropist, and Mohammed Rabea, a social activist, were also detained because of their outspoken support for women’s equality.”

(Another woman, an activist for the Shia minority, Israa al-Ghomgham, is no longer facing the death penalty. She actually has a Wikipedia article.)

International pressure is not going away.

On Sunday, Canada rebroadcast Escape from Dubai: Mystery of the Missing Princess, the story of Sheikha Latifa.  Sheikha Latifa, aka Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the daughter of Dubai’s leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, of Jimbo “knowledge award” fame.

And now, Friends of Loujain  @FreeLoujain, a Vancouver group, has taken up the cause of Loujain Hathloul, a Saudi woman driver who was kidnapped off the streets of Dubai, put on a plane to Riyadh, and put in a Saudi prison.  Loujain’s sister wrote an op-ed in the NYT that was widely missed, probably because it was published on New Year’s Eve:

Earlier, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had reported that both male and female human rights activists in Saudi prisons were being tortured and sexually  assaulted. No names were published for fear of further reprisals against the prisoners.  But now Loujain has been identified as one of the prisoners being tortured.  When her parents visited her at Dhaban prison,

“They asked her about the torture reports and she collapsed in tears….She said she had been held in solitary confinement, beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder. My parents then saw that her thighs were blackened by bruises.

“Saud al-Qahtani, a top royal adviser, was present several times when Loujain was tortured, she said. Sometimes Mr. Qahtani laughed at her, sometimes he threatened to rape and kill her and throw her body into the sewage system.”

Last summer Vogue Arabia ran a cover about Saudi women driving, featuring the daughter of the late king Abdullah, Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud, posed in a convertible.

Teen Vogue responded with their own cover, one of the Friends of Loujain posing in a convertible with a Free Loujain t-shirt, and wrote their own op-ed.

BBC’s 100 Women is back

So, I feel obligated to post something about this, but I have to admit I’m just not getting it.

What is 100 Women?

BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year and shares their stories.

Today’s inspirational story is about an elderly Japanese woman who is in prison for stealing grapes.

“This time I shoplifted fruit because I have diabetes and I love sweet things, and I couldn’t stop myself. The type of fruit I took [grapes] was something I couldn’t afford to buy.

“But I was also stressed because my son is living at home with us with his child after his marriage broke down, and hasn’t got a job.”

In the past the BBC used to write about actual named women who should have been “notable” but were not, because no one had bothered to write about them in a “reliable source”.  There were actual Wikipedia editing events centered on this series.

But it seems the series is morphing into something else, a sort of “soft news” or social news.  Why for example is there no byline?  Is it because it was written by a man and that wouldn’t look so good?  Or is this the kind of writing that doesn’t look good on anyone’s resume.  Sorry, BBC and WiR, this is just boring, but I’ll bookmark it — there will probably be someone out there who knows what to do with it.  It’s the beeb after all, and it *is* an important subject.

BBC 100 women

Secular earth goddesses

I’m not sure whether this is a spiritual exercise or not, so I’m posting it on a Saturday.

“Praying tonight to Earth Goddesses Who Inspire My Hope for the Overthrow of the Old-Boy Network..” lol.

On the right is Notorious RBG (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg), on the left is AOC (Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and in the middle I believe is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, doing one of her weird sideways karate-chop gestures. The occasion is Trump’s Friday “declaration of emergency” of a Mexican invasion, which he did not produce any evidence of, which he says will have multiple court challenges that he will eventually win at the Supreme Court, and which AOC has said she will introduce some kind of legislation against. Reaction from conservative pundit Ann Coulter: “the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.”

I find this all very unsettling for a weekend, and so soon after the government shutdown has been ended and federal contractors are still waiting to get paid.  Also unsettling because a saint is supposed to be dead, and therefore a conduit to the spiritual world and these three are very much alive.  Still in my own religious tradition, we can find saints everywhere and are encouraged to do so on All Saints Day.  Even your own grandmother might be a saint.

But maybe we better throw Saint Leia up there just to be on the safe side.


Following the new drinking gourd

According to the American folk song “Follow the Drinking Gourd“, escaped slaves from the South were able to follow the Big Dipper/North Star to freedom in the North.

Today’s path for asylum-seekers more often than not leads through social media, but it still apparently ends in Canada.

The latest fugitive is Hind Mohammed al-Bolooki, from the UAE, who was locked up in a room after her family refused her a divorce. When she was allowed to use the toilet, she escaped through a window without her shoes, traveled overland to Bahrain (she had already given her passport to a friend for safekeeping), and then flew through Turkey and Serbia, and is now detained in a place called North Macedonia. In case no one has ever heard of this country, it is the old Republic of Macedonia.  Two days ago it changed its name in an effort to get along better with Greece, which has a region also called Macedonia.

In January, Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun (red link) was granted asylum in Canada after escaping from a forced marriage while her family was on vacation in Kuwait.  She was trying to reach Australia, but was stopped in Bangkok where officials seized her passport and she locked herself in a hotel room and tweeted her predicament, until UNHCR intervened. She is now in Canada.

Two years ago, Saudi teenager Shahad al-Muhaimeed escaped from her family during a vacation in Turkey.  She took a taxi across the border to Georgia and asked for asylum. She now lives in Sweden.

Georgia is popular with Saudis since they can enter without a visa.  Australia is also popular because you can apply for a visa online, the only choice for women who are not allowed to go out.  One women used a Saudi website that notifies men by text message when women they have guardianship over try to board a plane – she used her father’s phone to give herself permission to travel, disabled his notifications and flew to Turkey, then entered Georgia, and bought a ticket to Australia via the UAE, which fortunately did not detain her in transit, and she landed safely in Sydney.

Ashwaq and Areej Hamoud are Saudi sisters who have been fighting deportation from Turkey since 2017.

Not all of the stories end well.

Sheikha Latifa, blue link for a change, Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (II), in 2018 left her native Dubai in a car and crossed the border to Oman, then boarded a yacht. After Sheikha Latifa posted to social media and contacted British-based attorney Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai,  the yacht was intercepted by authorities from India as well as two Emirati warships, two military planes and a helicopter.

What a small world.  Sheikha Latifa’s father is none other than the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who you may remember once tried to give Jimbo a “knowledge award”, which after some arm-twisting, Jimbo used to start his “Jimmy Wales Foundation” with Orit Kopel, who later joined him as a founding member of WikiTribune. After her failed escape, Sheikha Latifa was seen once more, inside Dubai, appearing in a photo at her home with British diplomat and former UNHCR commissioner Mary Robinson. According to Wikipedia, the meeting was at the request of “Princess Haya, one of Sheikh Al Maktoum’s six wives [6??? isn’t it 3] , an old friend of Robinson’s, and was requested to go to Dubai by Princess Haya and that Haya paid the fare…”, the Princess Haya being none other than the daughter of Jordan’s late King Hussein and the half-sister of Jordan’s current King Abdullah II, also the heart throb of hundreds of appreciative Jordanian men, who followed her uninspiring career as an Olympic horsewoman (okay she fell off the horse, but they didn’t rebroadcast that) with all the dignified reserve due a beautiful princess.

There was the double suicide drowning of sisters Rotana and Tala Farea in New York, who left an abusive family situation in Virginia, and killed themselves when their credit card maxed out.

Dina Ali Lasloom (WP) was a Saudi woman trying to reach Australia in 2017 when she was stopped during transit in Manila and sent back to Saudi Arabia, tied up in a wheel chair with duct tape. She has not been seen since.

Another women fugitive who gained international attention was Saudi Princess Mishaal (WP) who was killed by her family in 1977 after trying to leave the country in order to elope.

Meanwhile, war-torn Yemen has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 12-year-olds dying in childbirth.  Daughters as young as 8 years old are being married off.  “Fayrouz’s mother needed a blood transfusion… ‘We needed the money from the dowry,’ said her father….$2,000 in dowry, with a promise to pay $400 more at a later date.”

Who are these people?  “Washington-based Saudi women’s rights scholar Hala Aldosari” (red link) . Moudi Aljohani, a Saudi women’s rights activist who has applied for asylum in the U.S.

fly my angelSo back to Hind Al-Bolooki.  She now reportedly now has a visa for Canada, no surprise there, but no word on whether she will be released.  North Macedonia is a small country, not particularly wealthy, and may well be vulnerable to the kind of pressure that can be applied by the UAE.

UPDATE: Turkish sources now report that Hind Al-Balooki left North Macedonia on Feb. 15, boarded a plane with her French lawyer, and landed in Berlin, after the European Court of Human Rights asked the authorities of Northern Macedonia to “make the final decision free of charge” for her release and asylum. Twitter thread.

Forced marriage

If you could choose between your genitals or your education, which would you choose?

Globally, one in every five girls is married off before age 18.

But girls like Kakenya Ntaiya are rejecting this practice. “I grew up in rural Kenya. The traditional way of life for girls was to undergo female genital mutilation in preparation for marriage at a young age,” she told UNFPA. “I escaped child marriage and fought for my education.” She went on to establish Kakenya’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that uses education to empower girls and transform rural communities.

On this Valentines Day, while some of us in privileged countries are browsing online fashions for our amusement,  the U.N. is focusing on child brides.  The Wikipedia article for Kakenya Ntaiya was nearly deleted before it could even get off the ground.  Her organization, the Kakenya Center for Excellence, is still a red link, in spite of plenty of refs, including National Geographic, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the woke and edgy Teen Vogue, which continues to defy reports of its demise.

The Kekenya Ntaiya article unfortunately does use the term “circumcision” instead of “female genital mutilation”, which BTW has a most excellent article written and politely but very firmly maintained by the talented and scary SlimVirgin.

Lebanese marriage law protest

The article for Sudanese child bride Noura Hussein, whose death sentence for killing her forced husband was overturned last year, is now in four languages.

There are probably a lot of other ad hoc organizations and individuals we are not yet aware of, but to my knowledge no one has done any meaningful inventory of the field. Legal reform in Lebanon has stalled, for example.  The law in Lebanon allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victims.

The hashtag is #IDONT.

Dutch Wikipedia fails the global Wikimedia survey

The global Wikimedia report  singled out the Dutch Wikipedia several times for being below standard. (See Global Wikimedia survey: the number of women users drops to an all-time low of 9%.)

  • Dutch Wikipedia was lower in measurements of collaborative intent, awareness of self and others, feedback and recognition, individual commitment to diversity, and inclusive interactions.”
  • “…contributors from other Wikimedia projects (projects that are not Wikipedia, Wikidata or Commons) reported statistically significantly higher perceptions towards inclusive interactions than Dutch Wikipedia (-15.7%) …”
  • “Dutch Wikipedia contributors reported lower than at least one other project in two areas of diversity and inclusion: individual commitment to diversity and inclusive interactions.”
  • “On “Awareness of Self and Others” …Dutch Wikipedia was statistically lower from the strongest scoring community, Italian Wikipedia, and was consistently lower than all other Wikimedia projects (e.g. Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, etc.).

A recent comment here points to the global WMF office ban of a particular individual from the Dutch wiki. Small groups and small wikis can be particularly vulnerable to even limited disruption. If the problem is just one person, perhaps they can recover.

But I note that there still is no Dutch article for:

Feminism in the Netherlands [en.wiki]

Geerte Piening [red link] There are plenty of sources, including:

ZegHet hashtag

#ZegHet hashtag [red link] Again, lots of sources, it was reported internationally:

Anke Laterveer [red link] Not sure about the notabiity standards for NL.wiki, but she ought to be in there somewhere.  Sources:

Anne Faber (red link), murdered by a convicted sex offender with a violent background. This was a huge deal in the Netherlands, but if you are looking for the Dutch explanation from Dutch language sources, they haven’t put it together.

Netherland’s First National Public Urinal Urinating Day.  There is an article for Wildplassen, but where is the article for the protest?

Americans are not so complacent.  We have an article for Every. Single. Demonstration.

And where is the English translation for the “Plaskrul” article?  What exactly is this abomination? At least the article has a video of Geerte (on a talk show, not wild-peeing).

What on earth is “plaskruizen” (urinate crosses)?

And what are all these hashtags? #peehitsthefan #first #genderequality #publictoilets #hogenood #zeikwijf

Here is a “Krul”.  Women are expected to use this or the police will arrest them.  Ask Geerte Piening. (Oops, red link.)

How does a woman use this?  Well, here is a purple plastic fake penis.  It only has one star though, the text in Dutch says it doesn’t work and the lady ended up putting it in the barn to use as a funnel.

Did you know that Amsterdam is “a city where so many men urinate publicly each year that at least 15 of them drown by falling into canals while relieving themselves.” Wouldn’t that make a great DYK hook for the front page of the Dutch Wikipedia”.

But where is the Dutch Wikipedia article for “Dutch urination deaths“?

  • British tourist dies after falling into Amsterdam canal while urinating.(Okay, it looks like a Daily Mail type publication, but still. If the Amsterdam Public Health Service (GGD) has warned about the danger of urinating into canals, there must be some reliable source for it, somewhere.
  • “Guido Reijnen, forensisch arts bij de Amsterdamse GGD, hebben veel van die incidenten een gemene deler. Tachtig procent van de verdrinkingsslachtoffers is man – zo ook de slachtoffers deze maand.” Source.
  • Death by taking a piss: “These deaths are easy to spot: they find the body with the fly open.” Oh my.  What a terrible demise.  Does Wikipedia have no responsibility in this matter?
  • Yes, a reliable source has turned up, and once again, it leads back to Manchester, which also has canals.  From no less than BBC:  “The Dutch study also contains other clues to what may be happening in Manchester. Many drownings happen on Saturday night and Sunday morning. More than half of those who died had been drinking or taking drugs. Ten per cent of the men’s bodies recovered from the water were found with their zips open.” That must be a British word for zipper.

Yes yes I know “what about the men” is always an excuse not to talk about women, but in this case, what ABOUT the men? They are expected to act decently on the Dutch Wikipedia, but then the Dutch government turns around and builds men’s urinals right out on the street that come out of the ground when you push a button. What kind of mixed message is that?  They have to pee out in public, in front of God and everyone. 

amsterdam public urinals

Amsterdam will be cold this week, and there they are, out there in the cold cold air, with their fragile and delicate Gentleman Parts exposed to the icy winds.

Enough is enough.  I do not believe that Dutch Wikipedia’s  gender problem will be solved until the Dutch men have a proper place to pee.  With baby-changing stations.Maybe now that Amsterdam has its first woman mayor, Femke Halsema, there will be some action on this.  She will have to pee somewhere.

I have seen plans and proposals, and even engineering drawings for some of these infrastructure solutions.

The Dutch Wikipedia should be in the forefront of education, making this information easily available to the public, and to public officials. If necessary, they could even hold a few edit-a-thons to pry some of this information loose from whoever is holding it, and get it into the public domain.  And if there are not enough reliable sources, they need to hold some more meetups with the news services, so they understand the whole concept of sourcing, and their role in it.