Archive for the ‘U.S.’ Category

See All publications Tab on this blog for 2020- 2021 updates

Mediageode endorses (page 10 of 18): “700 civil society organisations and activists from 79 countries endorsed our campaign letter calling on the leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence (GBV) to commit to ending female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM)” – Orchid Project

Mediageode supports the Walk to End FGM 2020 in Washington DC by Global Women P.E.A.C.E Foundation (Virtual Walk). Please read more info about scheduled award recipients including my suggestion as a award-nominee, Ifrah Ahmed, Somalia/Ireland

Oct 16-17 2020 Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation Awards Ceremony and Virtual End FGM Walk 2020

Please support 2020 Campaign (Diane’s)

June 15, 2020

Walk to End FGM in 2020 will be virtual (COVID-19 considerations).

The award ceremony will occur on-line.

July 21, 2020 GWPF Awardees 2020

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation – @1globalwoman updates

“As a a member of the Awards Nomination Committee 2019 I have made a recommendation and submitted it for consideration: Ifrah Ahmed, Ifrah Foundation, Somalian-Irish Anti-FGM activist. Please stay tuned for logistical updates about the Walk and Award schedule.” – Diane Walsh (December 31, 2020 update).

Ifrah Ahmed, Ifrah Ahmed Foundation, Ireland/Somalia received her award on Oct 16, 2020 in a G.W.P.F. virtual ceremony. The event occurred on Zoom from Washington DC.

Pre-2020

Some history with #AntiFGMGlobal Activists

Hilary’s Burrage’s book: mentions and her books

https://www.ifsw.org/eradicating-female-genital-mutilation-a-uk-perspective/

https://www.fawco.org/global-issues/target-program/health/blog-health-matters/4337-fgm-recommended-book-list

Hilary Burrage’s Guardian Book Launch with E2E Founder Arifa Nasim

International solidarity links

My #AntiFGMGlobal art was exhibited at the University of Oxford thanks to Dr. Tobe Levin:

The G.W.P.F. Nominating Committee 2018 brings you this year’s Nominees

https://www.wizathon.com/walk2endfgm/?id=3136

What the awards are all about http://globalwomanpeacefoundation.org/2018/09/04/explaining-the-global-woman-awards/

For more info on #Walk2EndFGM 2018 hashtag #antiFGMGlobal on Twitter

Direct campaign 2018 link here https://www.wizathon.com/walk2endfgm/?p=display&action=team_Page&id=4809 Team Anti FGM Global – Women and Men Together  against FGM  @dwalshmedia

Please visit my FGM News Blog Page for more information. I hope you will consider attending this important event in Washington DC.

Update Oct 27:

Photo credit @1globalwoman G.W.P.F, Oct 26-27-2018 Washington DC #Walk2EndFGM

—  A print version of this interview is available in the Spring 2016 edition of the Lower Island News.  Republished with permission.

 April 19-2016

SeaWorld polishes its marketing message partnering with HSUS

by Diane Walsh

 Washington DC — Lower Island News has had the pleasure of conducting a one-on-one interview with Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society (HSUS) to find out more about their new partnership with SeaWorld announced on national television in April 2016. The announcement came as surprise to many – albeit an excellent surprise. The following Q & A examines the promises that have been made by SeaWorld and the role that HSUS will play in the partnership, in Mr. Pacelle’s own words.

Lower Island News: Can you describe what was the triggering event or culminating set of discussions which led Sea World to adopt this progressive arrangement?

Wayne Pacelle: Former Congressman John Campbell, who was a leader on animal protection issues during his terms in Washington, is a friend of mine. He suggested I talk with SeaWorld’s new CEO Joel Manby and see if we could find common ground. I think Campbell had a sense that as the new person leading SeaWorld, maybe Manby could be the change agent needed there. We decided to pursue discussions with the goal of ending — decisively — the possibility of further breeding of orcas; and addressing a series of other critical animal protection issues. 

We succeeded in this aim and won an agreement to stop breeding orcas and to phase out the undignified and unnatural theatrical performances with the whales. We also reached terms to have SeaWorld redouble its work in rescue and rehabilitation of marine creatures in distress, to invest in advocacy campaigns against whaling, finning, and sealing, and to revamp its food policies. These were terms that far exceeded the expectations of the activists pressing hardest on the SeaWorld front. In short, nobody had any real plan concerning how to stop breeding of the orcas in San Antonio, Orlando, or in Spain, for example, and nobody was really talking about the major step up in rescue and rehabilitation; campaigning against whaling, sealing, and finning; or changing the company’s internal food policies. 

LIN: News of the joint letter to President Obama regarding still-shocking Japanese whaling was equally moving – have you had a response from the office of the President?

 WP: No, but we know that officials at other levels of government with an interest in the issue were encouraged by the joint appeal and are optimistic about this administration taking some steps to apply additional pressure on Japan.  It’s no secret that our whale campaigners have been arguing that the United States needs to reclaim its leadership on this issue.  The International Whaling Commission will meet later this year and that’ll be the real test of the U.S. government’s resolve to do more.

LIN: SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby appears to be willing or at the very least open to assisting with the messaging for sea-hunt and shark finning eradication efforts which are often high-profile campaigns [noticeably affiliated with movie stars, e.g. Pamela Anderson]. News reporting has tended to impress on the idea that there has been some kind of shift in thinking and that Manby has nearly become an ally of the animal-rights movement — Is this overstated or has something major happened?

 WP: These commercial killing activities result in the death of millions of marine creatures every year.   If SeaWorld can give us a shot in the arm in our efforts to fight these terrible practices, then that’s a great development.  With more than 20 million visitors, SeaWorld can educate a lot of people about these subjects.

LIN: Was your book manuscript The Humane Economy  scheduled to be published or did the new arrangement delay or change the timeline in some way?

WP: The discussions with SeaWorld did not delay the publication of The Humane Economy, which came out on April 19.  The original manuscript was quite critical of SeaWorld, reflecting The HSUS’s long record of opposition to keeping orcas in captivity, starting with the hiring of Dr. Naomi Rose in the mid-1990s to lead a campaign against these practices.   It did forecast that SeaWorld had to change.  When I made the agreement with Joel Manby on the set of animal welfare reforms, I did add a postscript so readers would know that my forecast had come true.  There are close to 5000 words in the book on SeaWorld and the shift away from animals in entertainment and spectacle.   The humane economy is forming right before our eyes.

LIN: Readers have understood that the California Coastal Commission has been instrumental in placing pressure to end orca breeding in the state of California, with a state bill. What happens now? Does SeaWorld’s ‘promise’ just simply extinguish the need to do anything more in California state-wide? Will state-government efforts be channelled to Texas and Florida and elsewhere?

 WP: SeaWorld is fortunately looking to drop its lawsuit against the Coastal Commission, and it’s supporting a bill in the state legislature to ban orca breeding.  I doubt the other states will adopt similar statutes, but the key is that the company has publicly committed to ending breeding of orcas.

 LIN: What hold does HSUS have on Sea World other than an honour system?

 WP: The agreement received as much attention as any major animal welfare story in many years.  SeaWorld has declared its intention to chart a new course and has taken some concrete steps.  With each move, SeaWorld tracks more closely toward the values and approaches we support, and it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the company would backtrack or renege.  The public attention and scrutiny is so great, and the will to move forward is also strong on the part of SeaWorld’s management.

LIN: SeaWorld’s commitment/promise to end orca breeding is commendable. But given the animal-rights movement have been vilified thus far, is the shift believable?

WP: SeaWorld’s taken some definitive steps forward, advertising its commitment to end commercial whaling and signing the letter to President Obama, and it’s going to take additional steps in a number of areas in the months ahead – steps that will make plain its change of emphasis and its determination to play a positive role in producing reforms that benefit marine and terrestrial animals and their habitats.

LIN: The exhibition of orcas is to end in due course. Is there a date certain and if so, when? What leverage does HSUS have to ensure this promise occurs in the time-frame?

WP: SeaWorld has declared its intention to replace theatrical based performances and instead move toward demonstrations based on showing the natural behaviors of orcas by 2017.  We are looking forward to working with the company as it takes additional steps to associate its business and its brand with animal protection.

LIN: Please permit a few queries rolled together into one here, to enable further reflection. The idea of a research-medical facility where the public could learn science and nature is an outstanding one. A philosophical shift to rescue and provide veterinary aid to injured and distressed marine animals is promising on the face of it.

 However in this scenario, the so-described ‘un-releasable animal’ supposedly becomes the only permissible ‘contained’ animal able to-be-viewed by the public where education, about ongoing threats to orcas in general, can occur. Do you see any issue with this set-up? For instance in terms of the specific plans to revamp SeaWorld’s general setting; which is [performance-oriented at this time].

 Could you foresee any economic and capital forces that might come into play when determining whether an Orca ‘should be freed’? And moreover – what concrete steps could be taken right away, e.g. sea sanctuaries?

 WP: We’ve always viewed tanks and swimming pools as compromised habitats for wide-ranging, enormous animals like orcas, in spite of active veterinary care and proper feeding.  We were involved in the effort about 15 years ago to fund the release of the orca whale Keiko into a sea pen.  Keiko was, however, a wild-caught whale, and his circumstances are somewhat different than the SeaWorld whales. SeaWorld has nearly 30 orcas, with the vast majority captive-born. SeaWorld stopped live-capture of orcas 40 years ago. The sea pen discussion will play out over time, and this agreement did not end that discourse. We are committed to looking at all options to provide the best living environment for wild-caught or captive-bred orcas, and were going to support further investigation and research on whether the orcas can be safely and economically moved from their holding facilities to other settings in the future.

LIN: Can you expand on how HSUS will be involved in getting only sustainably-sourced food (e.g. seafood, free-range chicken/eggs) and additionally vegetarian food-choice sources made available on-site at SeaWorld?

 WP: There are supply chain specialists both within and outside of The HSUS who work on this kind of thing.  We’ll make all of our resources available to SeaWorld to move in this direction and have the company be a model one in terms of the food offerings at its parks.

LIN: News of the promise to protect coral reefs and reduce capture and exhibit of exotic and rare fish is engaging as well. How do you see this develop?

 WP: Most urgently, it would involve support for a campaign to educate consumers in the United States and abroad about the harmful and inhumane collection and trade of coral reef wildlife (in Hawaii and the Indo-Pacific) for the aquarium trade.

LIN: There is no doubt that these promises are impressive, the concern appears to be when and how, and HS becoming a sort of gatekeeper of other animal-rights groups. Quell the resistance – sort of idea. Please assure readers this is not the case.

 WP: There’s nothing that would prevent other groups and parties from reaching out to SeaWorld to discuss issues of concern, or pressing such matters through public campaigns of one kind or another.  But we are social reformers at HSUS, and this is what we do.  We’ve negotiated agreements to advance animal welfare in every sector of the economy, and we’re going to step up this work in the years ahead.

 LIN: The #Blackfish film-effect has been remarkable. It’s likely to have helped embolden the development on no-further Orca-breeding as well as centre the discussion on the plight of those life-long captive Orcas that SeaWorld maintains can’t be released.

 WP: Blackfish was a breakthrough phenomenon in shifting the landscape around orca captivity,  and it’s the primary reason we are where we are now.  We’ve encouraged SeaWorld to keep moving on its agenda of engaging the other issues on which we did agree, and to do more to educate the public about those concerns.

LIN: Thank you for sitting down with us, Wayne!

Readers can visit humanesociety.org/news – @HSUSNews and @humanesociety on twitter.

You can reach Diane Walsh, MA  @dwalshmedia  indydianewalsh.com

 

Unknown artist illustration in Blackie’s Encyclopedia, 1880
An academic essay on a more general topic, blogged here because of what it has to say about the human uses and abuses of the honey bee – including Jake Kosek’s excellent work in the area.

Essay on the subject of the abuse of bees_ copyright_mediageode_2015

 

Photo credit: Carl Court  Art by Banksy, Steve Jobs mural at Calais refugee camp, France. 

The Question before us:

“What are the potentials and limitations of social analysis of art?”

Banksy essay _copyright Diane Walsh _2015

My attempt at inserting Banksy into academic analysis. What fun!

 

https://tiddletaddle.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/dolphin-reflections-perspectvism/

photo

The Beluga’s Culture Shock

By Diane Walsh

Seeing the world through the ‘Bubble’— Musings from East Scotland.

Culture shock is something usually associated with a person feeling a sense of alienation or confusion when arriving in a new place that is strange or unfamiliar.

It would not be surprising if having difficulty adapting (to such a new environment) translated into a kind of after-effect. In this example, culture shock could be loosely defined as an experience disorder, a severe reaction to unusual surrounding. The human in turn feels that well-being is negatively affected.

But what if the concept of culture shock was applied to say placing the Beluga whitewhale, in a ‘Bubble’ such as an Aquarium setting — whose ancestors had lived in the Ocean Wide for thousands of years? 

Without falling into a debate about anthropomorphism, I would like to us to ‘problematize’ the idea of the ‘strangeness’ of having a huge Whitewhale in, arguably, a fishbowl.

An Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean, this Whitefish is also occasionally referred to, as the melonhead or sea canary.

I do not wish to be delving too deep into a discussion of Anthropology. If you would like to read more on the topic, ‘Beyond the Human’, Samantha Hurn (2012) researches the idea of animal exploitation, animal-rights theory and the anthropological implications of the evolving cultural ideas and concepts about animal personhood. She asks us to think about our own attitudes towards ‘other’ animals on earth (i.e. other-than-human) and relate this to what it might mean to be human. Perspectivism (e.g. Kohn; Descola; De Castro) asks us to take up seeing the world from the point of view of the ‘other’ in the natural world, while at the same acknowledging our thoughts as being, from a human standpoint (Key words; post-humanist, human exceptionalism).

With this all in mind, try and understand the example I have suggested, of ‘the foreignness’ of the fishbowl (Aquarium) from the perspective of the Beluga.

Granted we can never get into a cetacean’s mind, per se, but we can entertain the idea of ‘seeing the world from the perspective of the ‘Beluga’.

Here is an analogy. We’ve all likely observed the poverty and resignation of people who are on the wrong side of the ‘economic divide’. At times I have been there myself. What if this conceptualization of reality was applied to thinking about the Beluga? ‘Seeing’ the Beluga as being on the wrong side of the ‘divide’— whose fate is unlucky enough to have been captured — whose awesome and glorious natural-habitat nature/subjectivity modified into a mere object of money-making and gawk? Might I be able to force an argument that the Beluga is ‘ecologically impoverished’ i.e. trapped in a container?

Is this the Beluga’s ‘Bubble’ reality? It would be no surprise to see the ‘resignation’ of the Beluga in this scenario. I argue that there doesn’t seem to be a concerted effort to connect the ‘poverty’of the Beluga in the Aquarium setting. I mean the poverty of the identity of the Beluga in the Aquarium setting. Is the Beluga not powerless over its fate, resigned to its working conditions?

Applying social theory to an understanding of the captive Beluga might actually prove useful. I could even push for a focus on the idea of ‘discrimination’ against Belugas. Why not? The fate of Beluga has been shown to be ‘poor’. We need to consider Maris’ recent death in Atlanta.

Keeping Belugas in captivity is really more about controlling the population in order to allow money to be made. It is about the circuits of capitalism reaching the Beluga as an object of profit. We don’t hear much of this phenomena at the moment but it underlies much of what is happening. If a Beluga dies, it is always ‘a complete mystery’. Whether it’s Vancouver or Atlanta.

On October 24, 2015, I read, while in Scotland, that “Maris the beluga whale dies suddenly at Georgia Aquarium [emphasis mine] (Source: Faith Karimi, CNN).

We are told that Maris, who was born in the New York Aquarium, in 1994 lived for 10 years at the site in Atlanta and died on October 22, 2015.

It’s well known that Maris had given birth to two babies, both of whom died. The first baby died in 2012 only days after birth, and the second, after less than a month. There are two Belugas left at the Georgia Aquarium – Grayson and Qinu.

Karimi, the reporter from CNN, obtained this quote from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). “Maris was denied her freedom her entire life. She was transferred from one facility to another, and her babies died, one after the other. Whether or not she had a physical ailment that went unnoticed, she was killed by captivity, plain and simple.”— PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange.

Okay, we know the drill. Aquariums argue that belugas in captivity (modified, with the phrase ‘belugas in human care’) enable scientists to better comprehend them in the wild. Latest ‘ethical’ research, needless to say, focuses on how ‘underwater sounds’ affect belugas — including the human-created noise-pollution created by industrial or military activity? The Aquarium is a lab, effectively. Biologists from respected universities are involved in this project and do not have to wrestle with any sort of conundrum relating to ethics. It is taken as a given that this is, ‘good’ research – no questions asked.

Karimi continues to explain that “The data can be combined and applied to help conserve and protect wild belugas from threats in their natural habitats”, according to the Georgia Aquarium website.

It’s clear that the Georgia Aquarium has been very careful to maintain the position that Maris, 21, “showed no signs of illness before her death. She ate and interacted normally with Grayson and Qinu, the other two beluga whales at the aquarium.This is a case of sudden, acute animal death. Our animals receive exceptional care, and our dedicated team of experts responded to her within minutes to render aid.”— Dr. Gregory Bossart, Chief Veterinarian at the Georgia Aquarium.

All the public is told is: “An autopsy is underway”.

End of discussion.

What is curious is that only recently we heard of one Beluga death and then another at Vancouver Aquarium in Canada. It would not have been difficult to put a sentence about that. The second one was said to have been due to pneumonia.

Care2care.com reports “In 2012, the aquarium filed a controversial petition to bring 18 wild-caught belugas here from Russia who would be split up at different facilities under breeding and loan agreements. Unfortunately for those supporting the effort, in September a federal judge shut down the effort”. We’re told there’s pressure on “The National Marine Fisheries Service to declare the population of belugas, suffering from captures in Russia, as depleted, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act”.

In the context of another published CNN news article, “SeaWorld can expand its tank but not breed whales, board rules” all eyes are likely now focused on the Georgia Aquarium’s desire to ‘grow’ belugas.

I have reflected briefly on ‘animal/human’ interaction and the assumptions humans make when beginning to use models of observation. I have asked that readers reconsider the idea of Belugas in labs. I suggest here, that there may be a benefit in actually applying human social theory to the fate of the captive Beluga.

I will leave you with this final thought.The light/colour/frequency spectrum experienced by humans, that, compared with the receptors that cetaceans/animals/birds experience, confines us to a uniquely human world. We can never enter the complete experiential world that enables the ‘others’ in the animal kingdoms and the seas, to exist on the same planet. Technology will never enable us to ‘see’ the colours/frequencies that non-humans experience – not even with Hubble style magnification. To that extent we should understand an inherent disability — so is this the anthropological blind leading the blind?

If we see that our ways of seeing are blind to the ways that the Beluga sees — just one ‘animal’ example — we might be able to better understand their deaths in the aquarium setting. To understand if the Beluga and the baby beluga experiences culture-shock in the Aquarium fishbowl, the ‘Bubble’must first be burst.

News update: Jan. 20, 2018

“Vancouver aquarium won’t keep whales or dolphins captive after public outcry” by Ashifa Kassam

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/20/vancouver-aquarium-wont-keep-whales-or-dolphins-captive-after-public-outcry

additional reading:

https://www.academia.edu/16408468/Are_some_animals_more_equal_than_others_Animal_Rights_and_Deep_Ecology_in_environmental_education

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/events/2022/may/living-sustainability-higher-education-connecting-people-places-and-learning

May 1, 2015 – Dr. Morissanda Kouyate’s statement here.

The last two weeks of April 2015 saw the ground break in the global fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The regressive and regrettable article in The Atlantic, entitled ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised‘, is causing a major uproar on Twitter.

From the hidden depths of the #EndFGM twitter movement to the ears of Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation is an outcry of complaint. Melinda Gates is said to have wholly endorsed Olga Khazan’s article in a misjudged tweet and this is continuing to reverberate across Twitter and perhaps understandably so. FGM survivors (using hashtags #NoFGM #EndFGM) are gobsmacked by The Atlantic publication’s language-usage for a start.

An angry firestorm across twitter explained it was felt that the content of the article was more than questionable. It was believed to have had a hand in glamorizing FGM.

According to the undisputed definition by the World Health Organisation, FGM is all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-therapeutic reasons. (Including the Clitoris and inner two labia lips). Artistic rendition here.

All this ‘fuss’ has had the effect of galvanizing efforts on Twitter for a united front which presses for FGM Education specifically in the U.S.

We can find comfort in that the United Nations 2012 Official FGM Resolution is unequivocal. The goal is total eradication of FGM including any and all the efforts to justify it. Spearheading much of the unified response is one of the movers and shakers on the anti-FGM front. Hibo Wardere is a formidable anti-FGM activist based in UK London. She is FGM coordinator for Waltham Forest and a mediator-educator. Integrate Bristol Charity @FGMSilentScream and thousands of others in Europe, the U.S. and Canada also present themselves in solidarity, taking the bull by the horns as the United Nations has done, tackling the practice as an FGM with no excuses.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists @RCObsGyn has issued a statement about their concerns over The Atlantic article (see end of this post for details.

Having covered the subject and worked in the field myself, I too chimed in. Re-coining and revitalizing the term, anthro-apologists, shouting out, saying No to Anthro/Apologists, this very second!  Please see a more detailed discussion here.  Credit: Hilary Burrage FGM not FGC-FC - image credit Hilary Burrage Blog

I too join in challenging any apologist-anthropologist bleating on about the female genital cutting (FGC) as female circumcism (FC) and so-called ‘choice’. It’s Female Genital-Mutilation for goodness sake.

FGM is everyone’s fight. Here is the battle line:

On the damaging and poisonous message that the article-titled ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised’ communicates – The Atlantic was advised to issue a response.

Activists ask rather directly:

Is The Atlantic guilty of a subterfuge?

Condoning the use of overt apologetic language…defending FGM as circumcism…describing it as ‘choice’…holding water for the ‘choice’ defense… participating in the antic by publishing nonsense.

Is one of the most insidious of human-rights violations when the mainstream media posits the practice of FGM as a ‘choice’ and calls it cutting and circumcism?

In my view, yes. No worst evil than condoning the practice in this sneaky way.

Why did a longstanding, high-currency American publication in Washington DC brazenly publish disinformation? Sheer ignorance or something more sinister?

The UN Resolution against FGM passed in 2012 and the breath of the world-wide movement is moving against justifying slicing off girl’s private parts. Using ‘choice’ rhetoric as means of suggesting, a deeper-understanding, is beyond the pale.

When you click the Twitter share-button for The Atlantic article, it then takes you to this sentence, “What many people don’t understand about [Female Circumcism] sic”. A nuance, noticed by careful watchers concerned about the title of article in the first place; which still remains as ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised despite survivor’s protestations.

Please also read my 2014 article “We are the ones who can’t be ignored” on #GAFGM #AntiFGMGlobal global activists and the migration of FGM on Western soil and my 2013 UN Special Magazine article about the global context of the UN 2012 Resolution, UN Special.

————

Update: Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté is one of the signatories for 2012 UN Resolution. He is Executive Director of Inter-African Committee and a UN Expert. Given his strong diplomatic mediation skills and connections internationally, it made sense that the details of the uproar about The Atlantic article were communicated to him. He agreed to make a formal statement. Dr. Morissanda Kouyate’s statement is also included here below. Since then, The Atlantic responded in agreeing to post a blog re: concerns. Contact @hilaryburrage for more details on what was agreed.

Tweet to The Atlantic - follow up on Dr. Morissanda's statement_May 1-2015 Dr. Morissanda Kouyate _IAC - response to The Atlantic Article _2015

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

– @RCObsGyn

Joint statement on story about women choosing to be circumcised

News 23 April 2015

The Intercollegiate FGM Group, along with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) have read the article on why some women choose to be circumcised published on 8 April 2015. We are extremely concerned by the way FGM is treated in the article.

While we welcome new social scientific research into the complex reasons why FGM occurs across societies, since it helps us to better understand the phenomena and thereby enable us to prevent it, articles such as this are retrograde.

This is our collective position:

  • We agree that FGM is child abuse and a severe form of violence against women and girls.
  • We agree that FGM is a violation of the rights of the child and a violation of the rights of women and girls.
  • We agree that the medicalisation of FGM must stop.

We know that in some communities, FGM occurs because it is regarded as a tradition, a rite of passage. On the surface, it may appear that the girls themselves willingly subject themselves to be circumcised, with their families’ blessing.

However, this does not make the practice acceptable. It is wrong to suggest that children can chose to undergo FGM. Many of these girls are underage and therefore they are not in a position to give informed consent to a practice that has lifelong physical and psychological consequences. Similarly, they may be under intense social pressure to have FGM and may also be unaware of what the procedure truly entails and the long term impact on their sexual and reproductive health.

There is no compelling argument to excuse FGM. The long-term physical, psychological and emotional trauma from FGM (not fully addressed in the article, some of which are transgenerational) which healthcare professionals and the women themselves are only too aware of, mean that there are no benefits but significant harm attached to the practice.

Notes – The Intercollegiate FGM Group comprises the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) and Equality Now.

——

Diane’s suggested links to peruse in conjunction with the above FGM News update

UN 2012 United Nations Official FGM Resolution https://indydianewalsh.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/resolution-unga-english2.pdf

Global context: post by highly respected anti FGM activist Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, one of the signatories http://www.morissanda.com/mgffgm.htm

Florence Ali now sadly has died; worked with Inter-African Committee with Dr. Kouyté. Highlights the steep uphill battle fighting FGM and the apologists. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/fgm-in-ghana-what-local-african-organisations-are-doing-to-eliminate-female-genital-mutilation-8537898.html

International-migration factor: FGM in Western-countries

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10980268/FGM-affects-137000-women-in-England-and-Wales-reveals-shocking-new-study.html

(DW coverage)

UN Geneva/New York http://www.unspecial.org/2013/02/change-the-fate-of-girls-it%E2%80%99s-in-our-hands/ covers

U.S.A. context https://indydianewalsh.com/2014/11/17/we-are-the-ones-that-cant-be-ignored/ U.S.A context

University of Geneva first University FGM Chair 2015 http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/female-genital-mutilation_university-of-geneva-chair-to-fight-fgm/41256858

Canada http://thelasource.com/en/2014/03/03/canadian-artists-at-the-un-say-no-to-fgm/

With special emphasis now on Western soil, the UK is said to be leading the movement: “Tackling FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting” provides overview https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/news/tackingfgmuk.pdf

The strongest leadership we’ve seen to date; the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists allies with FGM activists/survivors. The ill-considered article in The Atlantic  ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised gets a response which can’t be ignored. Read statement above or at @RCObsGyn on twitter.

Social schism, journalistic angst

Posted: December 14, 2007 in Toronto, Canada, U.S., UK
Tags:

2023 The Guardian January 15, 2023

This preamble is a blog post about what happens behind the scenes to unpublished stories.

Green Party leader speaks to Anglican same-sex issues from a human rights perspective

This summer 2007 — on the heels of the Winnipeg Anglican Synod vote that, narrowly, defeated the call, for same-sex marriage acceptance — Elizabeth May spoke in an interview with me.

I dare say Elizabeth May did so candidly on this hot-button controversy still bedeviling the Anglican Church.

May is herself a declared Anglican and a gay rights advocate.

When asked about the ‘Anglican’ issue she was inspired to take a brief moment (away from answering questions about her party’s commitment to gay rights from a governmental standpoint) to describe — in fascinating detail ( as you see below ) the underlying history behind the old Anglican church’s position.

As you see from the interview excerpt (scroll down) it demonstrates that her ‘speak’ was intended not only for the ears of Anglican followers but equally all Canadian people interested in the larger more universal human rights debate.

Unfortunately no publication picked it up, albeit the piece was, as Ms. May herself described it, a tangent.

My personal thoughts, aimed for this blog post, are as follows:

As onlooking Canadians we’ve witnessed the United Church ‘come into being’ on gay rights and we’ve long seen the Unitarian Church accepting the gay community, unequivocally.

The problem I encountered with such a lengthy Anglican-focused quotation is it read as too religion-focused for alternative weeklies and gay magazines and too hot for religion-based publications — so in effect it fell between two stools.

At the time, I have to admit, I thought her informal speech was a journalistic gem. I was disappointed it didn’t fly as worthy of publication. The journey taken by the Anglican Global Communion over the last few years is part and parcel of the Canadian big-picture cultural landscape.

The Anglican Church in Canada is moving forward as a result of public insistence, though slower than many gay people say they would like.

The content is valuable and still current since the Synod vote has left everyone in limbo.

From a journalist’s perspective, where should one pitch such a piece?, I ask myself.

If one can’t find a home, how can one constructively open a discussion about the obstacles?

Where is multi-dimensional contentious journalism best suited for publication appearance, if it even is?

These are the sorts of questions J-Source readers may pose, for instance, and here are the steps I took:

A popular gay publication in Toronto was willing to take the time to read about the Anglican controversy from May’s perspective, but in the end explained that since (they) were primarily a gay men’s lifestyle magazine it just “didn’t quite suit”.

A city-weekly and a relatively new progressive magazine in Victoria BC were not moved to ask for a read, based on my pitch (that’s of course assuming my letter was read; the uncertainty of which frankly threw me because anything on Ms. May usually gets an acknowledgement at the very least, I would have thought).

Just as a side note: every other (non-Anglican related) word I recorded from my interview with Ms. May was published. Check out Outlooks Magazine, October 2007 Issue in Calgary, Xtra!West, July 19th 2007 in Vancouver.

My confidence had begun to sink. I tried to believe it was ‘the Green Party leader theme’ connection to the Anglican controversy which was making for an odd marriage. Pardon the pun.

I should point out that I initially approached the Anglican Journal .

The editor was interested. A British Columbia Primate Representative of the Diocesan wrote, in a comment in support, saying that the “depressing mood” resulting from the Synod aftermath should be explored. I was asked for the piece.

This is what I heard back from Anglican Journal: “Ms. May’s views are not particularly controversial, so that is not the reason we are declining the piece. We are doing so because it doesn’t suit us”.

Okay. I had offered the article on the assumption that there was a good chance it could be published there.

As a freelance journalist I worry about the danger of allowing a read, thereby giving up direct quotations on the mere hope for publication. It was a good fishing expedition for the other side in this case, anyway.

The obvious question: What have I learned?

Honestly, I’m mystified. I’ve learned that all I have is the motivation in me to ask more questions of myself and my society. What steps should I take on my journalism path?

Are contentious issues worth pursuing in the long run, if in the process one’s credibility is damaged, hence weakening opportunity for publication in a prestigious media outlet?

A independent journalist might believe it is critically important that the public hears about a specific issue from a particular perspective.

But that doesn’t mean editors will agree since the bigger picture might dictate a need not to publish the content for one undisclosed reason or another (e.g. simply deem it not worthy for printing). Such a decision could cynically be viewed by the journalist as a unilateral decision to block readers from hearing from a high-profile person on a contentious issue.

Perhaps the actuality is that the perspective, however it is perceived by an editor, simply isn’t worth any political currency at a particular time. Indeed, I’m willing to accept this point.

More generally I’m asking if there is a chilly climate for journalists in these strange political times. I hope you take the time to read the interview and enjoy it, folks. I have the following interview-article which I’d still like to share even though I personally was never able to find it a home. Hopefully this journalism story will promote discussion.

—starts here—

Liturgy, the Old Anglican Church and the never-ending controversy — Gay rights

Will the traditional train and gay twain ever meet? Many gay Anglicans feel a little askew at the moment — not really knowing how and what to feel since the Synod meeting results in Winnipeg.

In fact many progressive Anglican parishes in Canada empathize with the modern day cultural struggle for gay acceptance. Being the country’s model for spiritual acceptance, these distinct parishes are cohesively standing against homophobia.

The current cultural mood in Canada favours gay rights, even accepting the fact that the stand being taken by certain progressive Anglican parishes may be creating a possible permanent schism within the Global Communion as a whole. This is too high a price to pay. Some Canadian Anglicans are saying out loud they are touched by the spiritual and social struggle of gays seeking to choose to be “out” while at the same time deserving of being blessed by their preferred church, which may or may not support them.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, is one of these people. Sitting down with freelance journalist Diane Walsh, Ms. May (herself an Anglican) gives her take on the issue, not only for the “ears” of Anglican followers — all Canadians invested in this larger human rights debate. She is the only political leader who dares to speak out loudly in favour of gays while at the same self-identifying as a Christian.

Diane Walsh: Some Priests are choosing not to marry “gays” as a matter of “personal preference”.  It would be helpful if you could give an overview of the issues of today affecting gay Anglicans and other gay citizens seeking to marry within their Anglican parish of origin – be it liberal or conservative.

Elizabeth May: Speaking as a federal political leader, I have to say that it’s up to an individual church to figure out how they handle internal matters, because the Charter of Rights extends to rights in the state context and we don’t dictate to churches. But speaking as a practicing Anglican, it’s very distressing. We have at the international level the communion at the Anglican Church; but we have the potential for a serious rupture in a religion that’s already, let’s face it, dwindling in terms of the number of people that fill the pews every Sunday.

When you look at it globally, the fastest growth to the Anglican Church anywhere in the world is in Africa, where the bishops are extremely intolerant to the idea of women as priests and also to the marrying of same sex couples. Canada’s Anglican community for the most part is entirely accepting of women as priests and of same-sex marriages. So the debate as it happens is less within Canada than it is within say the US where there an openly gay bishop.

There is within Canada a retired bishop who performed a same-sex marriage ceremony within the church. He faced some ruptures locally. So within the Canadian Anglican church there are debates. I have an approach to this that I hope will work, and that is that I think even people who are opposed to same sex marriage in the church quite often aren’t actually homophobic, they’re just traditional.

Now, I know that may sound like I’m making apologies for them. But since I go to church with them, these lovely old people who can’t quite get their head around it – they’re not bad people but they’re old. And what I want to do is find a way to discuss it and bring them around. I don’t want to draw battle lines and start calling them names; I want them to understand.

This is a matter of the Anglican context again; I’m not speaking as a federal political leader. I know I have to draw these lines. Not speaking as the leader of the Green Party but speaking as a practicing Christian, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus Christ wouldn’t have done anything but embrace any loving couple that wanted to love each other, stay with each other and be faithful to each other: that is a good Christian relationship.

There is nothing in the Scriptures that says Christ would have felt otherwise. So it’s a question of education: working people through it and making them realize that this is really just a matter of treating people equally. And that’s what we should do.

Now beyond that, as a political leader in a political context I want to make sure that the Charter is observed, and that comes down to recognizing that we exist in a secular society. Whether you go to a justice of the peace or a priest, as a same-sex couple you have a right to have that wedding performed. If you go through your Rabbi or your parish priest you can’t argue that you have a Charter right [to be married by them], but you do have the hope that people will evolve and that the idea of gay marriage will be accepted.

DW: So if you’re gay and you want to get married and you’ve always been part of a conservative Anglican church is it your opinion that gay couples should simply go to city hall?

EM: Or they can find a different Anglican parish. The history of the church shows that it takes some time for it to get used to things. There’s a wonderful church in a community I love in Sydney, Nova Scotia called the African Orthodox Church, and when you go back to try to find out what on earth is the African Orthodox Church you find this very unhappy history.

The first blacks to live in Sydney NS were brought in from the Caribbean to work in the steel plant, and they were Anglican – real interesting little digression I’m going on here, but you’ll get the analogy. Most of the black population around Halifax were escaped slaves who came in the 17, 1800’s and were Baptists. But this little branch of Anglicans from the Caribbean moved to Sydney to work in the steel plant and they weren’t “allowed” by the Anglican priests in that community to sit anywhere but at the back of the church. They couldn’t get married at the church, they couldn’t sit in the front of the church. And they fluttered off and they formed their own church the African Orthodox Church.

Now, that’s a shameful period for Anglicans to imagine, that fellow Anglicans from another part of the world had been so grossly discriminated against.

I think this time in history will be seen similarly as a shameful period. You might have to do a little parish shopping to find a priest who will perform a same-sex marriage. Of course, bear in mind that most of the debate in the Anglican Church right now is about the blessing of same sex unions, not the actual marriage.

To put the blessing of same sex unions in context, bear in my mind that Anglican priests bless tractors, bless farm animals, there are blessings of inanimate fishing boats – there’s a tradition in my part of the world in Nova Scotia to have a blessing when you go out at the beginning of a fishing season, it’s a good idea bless the boats to make sure fishermen are safe.

But for the love of god, the blessing of same sex unions is already a significant level below the actual performing of the actual liturgy used in a marriage ceremony. Yet we’re talking about the blessing of same-sex unions being controversial in an Anglican church? I feel as a practicing Anglican that we’re going to look back at this and say, “Oh, that’s awful!” and try to imagine that there was ever a parish in Sydney NS where Caribbean Anglicans were told they should sit in the back of the room and not be allowed to go where weddings were performed. Ahhh, Interesting!

We will evolve, and my own view on that debate is moving along, and for the most part I think that Canadian Anglicans will be in a leadership role in fixing the problem – attitude problems and discrimination in the church.  Whether that leads to a rupture in the church globally is a worry but not so much that we shouldn’t move forward in the cause of human rights.

-30-

Article from UK

(more…)