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Ayoobi Stoned to Death

Despite thousands of protest letters and emails from around the world, the Iranian government stoned to death Maryam Ayoobi, a mother of two, on July 11 for allegedly committing adultery. (For background on this story, see “Struggles and Brutality in Iran” in Said It, May/June).

A wide-scale campaign to stop the stoning execution of Ayoobi had been waged, but the protest was not enough. Too many governments around the world have remained silent on such crimes, defending the current Khatami regime as “reformist.”

The number of stoning verdicts issued during Khatami's tenure has now risen to 17. Eleven of the victims have been women. The clerical regime stoned a 35-year-old woman in May, after eight years of imprisonment, for her alleged role in pornographic films. She denied the charges and professed innocence right up to her death. A 38-year-old woman, Robabeh, was stoned to death in the same month. On June 25, a Tehran court condemned another young woman to 100 lashes and stoning.

The Women's Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran is calling for international human rights organizations, especially women's rights advocates, to condemn the cruel and inhuman punishments of women.



FCC Censors Feminist Hip Hop Artist

For years, we’ve been told by feminist friends that misogynist hate speech should be countered by no more than own individual speech. Unfortunately, that strategy has proven to be about as effective as a fight against nuclear weapons would be after pledging to do nothing more than throw roses and home grown tomatoes at their metal casings.

The problem is, there are established laws, a power structure, and disparate ownership of property (the vehicle for speech), which facilitate and protect misogynist speech, while hindering, manipulating, and suppressing women’s genuine speech. As a consequence, we get hour after hour of woman-bashing radio, every day and every night throughout the country, while not a feminist word is heard on commercial radio, and seldom a word is heard on non-profit radio.

A rare break in radio land’s white-out of feminism occurred last October when Portland’s non-profit KBOO aired a song by poet-performance artist Sarah Jones called “Your Revolution.” The lyrics are a powerful objection to the outrageous sexism in popular hip hop, attacking men’s equation of sexual objectification of women with “revolution.” Perhaps not surprisingly, a listener filed a complaint with the FCC about the song, and the FCC, headed by Colin Powell’s son Michael, ordered an investigation. On May 17, the FCC fined KBOO $7,000 for “indecency.” Because of the FCC’s fine, other stations are now forced to suppress Jones’s song. Jones herself, whose main line of work is teen education, is now officially red-flagged. Read: censored.

The kind of radio that the FCC does not find “indecent” is the daytime Tom Leykis show, where Leykis encourages men to paper clip a woman’s mouth shut so she can’t say what she wants in sex. The FCC has found nothing indecent about male DJs’ constant jokes about women’s breasts, and whether they are “real.” The FCC also has not found indecent the misogynist lyrics of LL Cool J and Notorious B.I.G, whom Jones specifically criticizes, through imitating their offensive language and turning it back at them.

“The hip-hop game is very misogynistic,” DJ Deena Barnwell, who aired the song, told the Village Voice. “I’ve been totally disrespected as a woman in this game. Jones’s song is inspirational... I feel like it’s a personal responsibility for me as a B-girl to get it out there.”

With the exception of the Village Voice, the mainstream and popular alternative media have been silent about this censorship. We remember the loud and passionate defense of Eminem, and of Larry Flynt a few years before that. But the supposed lovers of free speech have no interest in Sarah Jones. Even the explicit governmental censorship of a feminist, who puts forth her speech against all odds, is ignored and erased.

For ideas on what you can do, see this issue’s Activist Alert. Also, check out Sarah Jones's website at http://www.sarahjonesonline.com, where you'll find some opinions about the FCC and a petition to sign.

From “Your Revolution” by Sarah Jones:

Your revolution will not find me in the back seat of a jeep
With L.L. hard as hell, you know
Doing it and doing and doing it well, you know
Doing it and doing it and doing it well
Your revolution will not be you smacking it up,
flipping it or rubbing it down
Nor will it take you downtown, or humping around
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not have me singing
Ain't no nigger like the one I got
Your revolution will not be you sending me for no drip drip V.D. shot
Your revolution will not involve me or feeling your nature rise
Or having you fantasize
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs



Sex Slavery in the Holy Land

Did you hear this about Israel: the sex trafficking of foriegn women has become so normalized and commonplace that Yaacov Shklar, a lawyer specializing in the interests of pimps, argued before a Knesset (Israeli parliament) committee that pimps should be able to charge other pimps “transfer fees” when women are sold from one brothel to another. "There is no difference between trading football players, hi-tech programmers, or surgeons, and selling women for purposes of prostitution." Okay, did you actually hear that?

One Russian woman, a physics teacher whose case has been documented by Amnesty International, was sold twice -- the second time for $4,500. This woman is but one of about 2,000 foreign prostitutes -- mostly illegal immigrants -- who work in Israel's $240 million-a-year sex industry. An estimated 25,000 paid-for sexual transactions take place in the country each day. That means the trafficked women are made to service an average of 12 to 13 men every day.

Shklar gave his spiel for pimps during the recent parliamentary investigation into Israel’s sex trade, which even the UN Human Rights Committee condemned back in 1998, pointing out that “women brought to Israel for the purposes of prostitution ... are not protected as victims of trafficking but are likely to bear the penalties of their illegal presence in Israel by deportation.”

The investigation found that many Russian women are flown to Cairo, made to walk through the desert, and then sold in Eilat, a major city at the southern tip of Israel, for $1,600 each. Some brothel keepers buy twice as many women as they need, and resell half of them at a profit to recoup their investment. The pimps keep most of the women's earnings, claiming this is to cover the expense of bringing them to Israel.

A bit of good news in all of this: the committee is expected to recommend the expansion of the Public Defence law, so that prostitutes who are arrested in brothel raids would have access to legal defense at the government’s expense. Currently, they can’t have free legal representation because they are charged with immigration offences.

source: The Observer, June 10

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