Category Archives: Freedom of women

Aftermath of abuse: When is it okay to share another’s story?

This particular article posted in the Guest column by News24, is about the aftermath of abuse. The headline asks, “when is it okay to share another’s story?” This is an interesting article to read because we always try to encourage the victims of abuse to speak out, but we never concern ourselves about it being okay to share someone else’s story.

For those victims who are lucky enough to escape their situation or even for those who were not it is important that everyone come together to we lead lives of those who bare a substantive amount of fear. Because as women, we never know whether we are even safe from being taken under the raft of an abuser or a rapist, we must stand together. For those who cannot speak, someone has to speak for them because we cannot continue to hide if we want to see a change.

So, my question to you guys is, when is it okay to speak out? When will enough be enough?

City Press. News24. Aftermath of abuse: When is it okay to share another’s story?. May 27, 2018. <>. June 14, 2018.

Valedictorian asked to not speak of sexual assault

Lulabel Seitz said that she was told by her administrators to not speak about her or other students sexual assault experiences in high school. Almost scared away she decided to still speak on sexual assault during her valedictorian speech. Her microphone was then cut off because the school said that her speech, “wouldn’t help”. When her sexual assault happened the school did nothing and would not comment on cutting off her microphone.



What do you think was the school’s motive for not wanting her to talk about sexual assault in her speech?

Incel: Movement to promote violence against women

WATCH: Inside the ‘incel’ movement inspiring mass violence against women


For the past couple of years, there has been a hate group called incel that promotes violence against women. The incel group started on various forms such as 4chan, reddit, etc. to increase awareness that women should give them sex. This group can be of any age range, as long as their males and have the same “issue”.These other issues would include rape, assault, and femicide. As stated before, this group’s main goal is to harm women because women are depriving these men of sex. There have been various attacks towards women, by this group, for years. The most recent was in Toronto in April.  Fortunately, Reddit eventually banned this group because of what it stood for. However, this movement is still out and is spreading due to the rise of feminists and other women right’s movements.

Let me just point out that this is the entire reason why women activists groups exist. Enough is enough with violence. It makes no sense that women have to be in danger because of sexists. This is also why the debate against women and violence still exists, because of men like this. Women and men will get nowhere as long as senseless groups like Incel exist. Just for an update, I also read that this group is now on the “darknet” and have had members successfully carry out their hatred towards women.


Population and forcible birthcontrol

In 2013 it was reported that Israel’s African female refugee population was given no option but to take the depo shot as a form of birth control. The idea was to forcibly keep the population in control. The article in from 2018 brings up the murmurings that from the U.S. recent involvement with Israel the refugee’s may be forced to leave the country.

This article brought up a long argument that I have had with my doctor and my friends have had with theirs, how in control are we as women over reproduction? Either through lack of education, lack of resources, or my favorite argument “you’ll change your mind and want kids later.” These women had their control taken from them and it is unclear if they even understood all the ramifications of taking that particular form of birth control.

My question is do you believe they should have given the refugees an educated choice to take the birth control(which is every 12weeks and can take up to a year to fully exit the system) or brought up safe sex practices to let women have the choice to have a family when they want?

Southern Africa’s Contraceptive Control

Abigail Detwiller

Puberty is a crucial step as girls prepare for the decisions and responsibilities of sexuality and reproduction.

Faridah Nalubega, a 26 year-old woman intended to have just two or three children, the most she felt she could afford by selling fried fish in Kampala, Uganda, according to PAI, a U.S.-based family-planning advocacy group. But she ended up with six children—in large part, she told PAI, because her husband forbade her to use contraceptive pills and her local family-planning clinic offered no suitable alternative. In this area of Uganda, men often become violent with their partners who show an interest in using contraception.

Two barriers that limit the access to and use of contraceptives is southern Africa are the myths and misconceptions of young people, and the attitudes of adults in these communities. If these can change then the use of contraceptives will increase and the number of unwanted pregnancies will decrease. The first step would be to expand the learning and accessibility of information on the many different methods of contraceptives. The young people need to understand that the myths and misconceptions that they are taught by their peers and adults are incorrect and hold no scientific grounds. If they could meet others who use contraception and ask questions it could be a very good experience for the youth, and for the adults who have the misconceptions. It is one thing to be able to reach the youth, but if you do not change the view ofthe adults have then all the work you did can be easily reversed because of the place they hold in their society over the younger generations. After being able to teach and give more factual based information on contraception they would need to focus more of their time focused on the older generation. If the older generation views contraceptives as bad and refuse to provide the youth with them then all the work teaching the youths would be of no use. The youth would not be able to get the contraceptives so their knowledge would be no help because without contraception’s no matter what they try it will be unsuccessful. Young people are seen by societies around the world as needing to be guided by the older generations to make sure they are not making immature decisions. Though sometimes the problem stems from the older generations decisions that are being forced upon the youth.

In South Africa the traditional view against contraceptive use is held by the men, so if a man does not want his wife on contraceptives then she cannot unless she hides it. Engelman writes that “unfortunately, helping women plan their families stealthily—by using contraceptive injections, for example—is a leading strategy because many male partners believe childbearing decisions are theirs alone to make. Men also tend to want one to three more children than women do, not surprising given who gets pregnant, gives birth and handles most of the child care.” Traditional values are taught to the next generation through multiple ways, but some traditional values are oppressive towards others and should not be implemented. If these traditions are stopped it does not mean that it is lost the tradition will be a part of the people’s history, and generations will be taught why they changed, and how it has helped the people grow. Just because people no longer apply that tradition does not mean they have lost who they are it just means there might have been a healthier way for them to celebrate.

When introducing new ideas and concepts some people can create myths and misconceptions about the information and make it so that the general population is against something without learning all the facts. Most youth are uneducated in the correct procedures, heavily influenced and trusting of their peer members, and so believe false information easily because of misplaced trust. In a study, Ochaco et al. found that “Many fears were based on myths and misconceptions. Young women learn about both true side effects and myths from their social networks” Most myths and misconceptions that were taught to the young girls is that if the use any contraception they will not be able to have children later. By creating these myths and misconceptions many girls are then later pressured to get rid of pregnancies that come from not being able to use contraception’s. To combat the myths and misconception education for both males and females is important. By continuing to go to school both genders will be able to learn the importance of contraception and how big of a role they all play. Though, at the moment, since South Africa is a patriarchal society, females are not seen as important enough to continue their education most of the time passed elementary level.

It is important to teach the younger generations because without access to contraceptives, unwanted pregnancies increase.. Hoopes et al. report that “Approximately one-quarter of women aged 15–19 years in South Africa report having been pregnant. Although teen fertility has mirrored a decline in fertility among all women in South Africa, South African teens experience a birth rate of 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years, twice that of teens in the United States.”

Though Africa has been more progressive in their abortion laws such as, “…nurses and midwives are trained and permitted to perform abortions, paving the road for accessible abortions at conveniently located facilities” (“Common Reproductive Health Concerns in Anglophone Africa.”), many girls have resort to extreme measures to get rid of unwanted pregnancies aborted because of the limited number of professionals.

If men and women are not taught the true information pertaining to contraceptives they will continue to have problems. Traditional values can still be part of who the people are but will just not be implemented. Women deserve the same education opportunities as men. By having these options available the knowledge about birth control will be more widely available and not seen as something bad, instead a positive.

Abigail Detwiller has an associate’s in Science and attends East Carolina University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. After graduation she plans to enroll into a Dental Hygienist program to obtain her license and work in the dental field helping others.

What is Female Genital Mutilation and How Do We Stop It?

By Giuliana Davis

            Let’s examine the average 12-year-old girl. Having just starting understanding how men will a play a role in her life, she spends her time day dreaming over the boy she met in school. She enjoys playing with her friends, and experimenting with makeup. She shouldn’t have a care in the world, unless you consider finding a dress for her first formal to be serious business. But this is not the reality for many girls around the world. In many parts of Africa and Asia, the 12-year-old you imagine, is actually spending time preparing herself for a very invasive procedure. She can’t scream, or cry. She’ll bring shame upon herself and her family. If she doesn’t have the procedure, she’ll become a social pariah and men will discard her like a piece of garbage. Every woman she has ever known has been forced to have the procedure. It’s tradition. She’s going to be circumcised. She’ll have her labia majora, minora, and clitoris removed while fully conscious and aware. Depending on where she lives, she may also have her vaginal opening sewn shut, allowing only a small hole for urine and menstrual fluids.

This is a shocking, but very real, glimpse into the lives of thousands of girls ages 12-16 throughout 29 different countries on Earth. And while their cultures consider it to be a necessity, there is absolutely no medical benefit for this procedure. On the contrary, it often causes infection and pain that can be deadly. The most common and severe complication that occurs due to female circumcision is known as obstetric fistulae. Obstetric fistulae occur when a woman is giving birth, but the blockage caused by her sewn vaginal opening causes her to be unable to push. Labor often goes on for days, and the newborn is almost always stillborn. Due to the pressure caused by her attempts to push, and the resistance due to a sewn vaginal opening, the baby’s head presses against the soft tissues inside of the birthing canal, causing a tear between the canal and the bladder or anus. Once she has finally pushed out her stillborn baby, she’ll fall into a deep, exhausted sleep, only to wake up to the realization that she has wet the bed. Thinking it to be a one-time accident, she’ll quietly wait for it to dry, but it never will. She has completely lost control of her bladder, and will forever be incontinent.

In this culture, the incontinence caused by obstetric fistulae is worse than death. These women face a life of shame ahead of them. They are isolated and treated as pariahs, and are forced out of society. They are the Untouchables of Africa. Their husbands want nothing to do with them, and they end up living out the rest of their lives in small huts on the edge of their villages, with virtually no contact with any members of their previous cultures.

But there is hope. Many organizations are taking active roles in the fight against female genital mutilation, and aiding in the recovery of those who have undergone it and may be suffering health consequences:

  • “28 Too Many”- this organization helps on 3 levels. First, they educate those in places like the U.S., who have likely never heard of the practice. Second, they educate influential members of the societies in which FGM is practiced, and encourage them to take a stand against it. And finally, they equip local people and organizations with the tools they need to oppose the practice.
  • “The Day of Zero Tolerance”- this is an international day introduced by the UN in an attempt to globalize the fight against FGM. Education is key, and this day makes it possible for people around the world to become educated.
  • “The Desert Flower Foundation”- started by a model who escaped the world of FGM and came to the United States, the Desert Flower Foundation strives to educate people and encourages governments to pass laws that ban Female Genital Mutilation.

So while the outlook may seem bleak, there is always hope for the future when people take a stand for what they believe in. But it is essential that we don’t just watch other people do the work. Each and every person needs to become part of the fight, because as Desmond Tutu so accurately put it, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Giuliana Davis is a double major in Criminal Justice and Anthropology with a minor in Forensic Science. She hopes to go into the field of forensic anthropology, and her dream is to work with the Smithsonian Institute.


Barriers Facing Women Running for Public Office and The Impact of Gender Quotas

Ellie Waibel

            Women make up about half of the world’s population, yet only make up about 23% of political participation globally. All over the world, the voices of women are being shut out and systematically ignored. In order to be an advocate for voiceless populations, we desperately need women in politics. However, this is more difficult to achieve than it sounds. Worldwide, women are being actively excluded from participation in government through social, institutional, and psychological barriers.

Globally, there is a perception of women as being irrational, emotional, and overall dependent on men. Societal norms push women to be homemakers who are dedicated to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. Even when women are encouraged to have careers, it is typically in the education, social welfare, or other “feminine” sectors. When women decide to pursue careers in public office, they are often viewed as neglecting their families and motherly duties. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister in the early 1990’s, had to keep her pregnancy a secret in order to keep her political opponents from using it against her. In order to give women a voice in politics, we must end the notion that women are selfish for wanting to pursue a career in public office.

The structural features of political life tend to exclude women from seeking and obtaining positions. Political parties want to present the candidate they believe will maximize its vote, which means they will more often than not choose men. Political parties seek individuals who already have visibility in the community through one’s career, leadership positions, or political roles. Considering community leaders and those typically in leadership positions are disproportionately male, women are put at an even further disadvantage. When women do run for political office, they are often times plagued with intimidation tactics from males. In some countries, women face physical violence for running. According to UN Women 2013, in Pakistan and Nepal, not only are women running for public office subject to physical and verbal abuse, but they also must worry about threats of abduction and murder. In Kenya, candidates running for office often carried concealed knives. They would also wear two pairs of tights under their dresses in order to buy more time in case of an attempted rape. Often times, these women are denied protection by police and law enforcement.

Thanks to a newer trend in politics, gender quotas, more women are finally getting the chance to make a change in politics. More than half of the countries in the world now use gender quotas to assist women in obtaining political positions. The three main categories of gender quotas are: reserved seat, electoral candidate, and political part quotas. Each of them intervene at a distinct point in the electoral process.  Reserved seat quotas have the potential to guarantee women’s representation by ensuring that female candidates will get a minimum number of parliamentary seats. Electoral candidate quotas are implemented by requiring that a certain percentage of candidates on electoral lists are women. Political party quotas reserve a certain percentage of the seats they win to women.

Although gender quotas are an effective way to guarantee women’s participation in politics, not all women have an equal advantage. In the United States, the majority of women political leaders are white. Black and Hispanic women are rarely encouraged to run for political office. In fact, these women are actively discouraged from running. Because minority women are victims of both racism and sexism, they have access to even fewer resources to run for office. This is also true for LGBTQ populations, who do not even have equal rights in every country. On a global scale, gender quotas are viewed negatively by many. Some people believe that female politicians elected through gender quotas will face hostility because they were elected based on gender, not qualifications. They claim that this backlash will make it difficult for female politicians to be given positions of leadership within parties, and might even make it difficult when it comes to passing legislation.

Putting gender quotas in place is only the start to ensuring the participation of women in politics. America, and virtually every other country, still has a long way to go. Social barriers are present in nearly every country, through the general view of women as inferiorand less qualified than men. Until women are seen as more than just homemakers, there will be a struggle with political representation. Political parties must embrace and protect female candidates, as well as local government and law enforcement. We must encourage the young women of our generation to pursue political careers and change history.

Ellie Waibel is currently a junior at East Carolina University, majoring in Social Work, and minoring in Ethnic Studies. After she graduates with her MSW, she hopes to work with foster children.


How One Girl and a Bicycle are Promoting Women’s Autonomy in Saudi Arabia

 Review of the film, Wadjda, by Haifaa al-Mansour

Lizz Grimsley

Ten-year old Saudi girl, Wadjda, is best friends with a boy, wears blue jeans and sneakers under her abaya, and longs for a bike. She is the subject of strikingly different kind of film about Saudi women, written and directed by Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, Haifaa al-Mansour. This film illustrates the influential role of the media on social institutions and the ways that it can impact how people view the world and think about their cultures.

Saudi Arabia is known for a strict interpretation of Sharia law that oppresses women by denying them the same freedoms and rights as men. As a result, Saudi women have had difficulty breaking out of the restrictive walls built around them. However, Haifaa al-Mansour, shows how the media is capable of challenging oppressive gender roles. It follows the story of a young girl who is interested in purchasing a bicycle that she has seen at a store in her town. Though she is faced with criticism from her family and peers, it does not deter Wadjda from finding ways to save money to purchase the bike. We are also shown an interesting friendship dynamic between her and Abdullah, a young neighbor boy with whom she spends a great amount of time with throughout the movie. As the film progresses, she navigates though her relationships with authority figures in her attempt to understand the world around her. As a result, Wadjda is placed in many situations that alert her to the roles and behaviors traditional Saudi culture views as appropriate for women and girls.

Saudi women have been oppressed by legislation that has denied them the same freedoms and rights as men. This form of systematic oppression has also been responsible for the harsh gender roles and the general mistreatment of women. As a result, Saudi women have little autonomy over themselves or their family units. However, the tides appear to be turning. Windsor reports that In September of 2017, women in the kingdom were finally granted the right drive, and in March of 2018, women who have been divorced were given the right to retain custody of their children without needing to file a lawsuit. But these changes alone are not enough in the fight for equality.

To show audiences the true nature of oppression that exists in Saudi Arabia, al-Mansour uses symbolism throughout the film. One example of this, according to al-Mansour herself, is the bicycle: it is an object that is meant to represent freedom. It is the freedom of adulthood and the freedom of women as separate beings from their male guardians. Thus, Wadjda’s attempts to purchase the bicycle are attempts to gain freedom and control within her own life. By creating an ending where Wadjda owns the bicycle, al-Mansour leaves the audience with a message of hope that things can change for women in Saudi Arabia. Though this is only one interpretation of the film, it has seemed to have a positive impact on the Saudi people. Nikki Baughan quoted al-Mansour in her article, The Reel World, saying “I have a lot of positive feedback from young Saudi women; it means so much to me when they say how much they loved and related to the film.”

As a Saudi woman, al-Mansour had the best knowledge on how to approach the issue of promoting women’s rights. She stated in an interview with Nikki Baughan, “If you try to be confrontational or scream at them about how stupid you think they are, you aren’t going to get through to them. You have to be respectful of the world they come from and present your ideas through that prism.” She said that she wanted her film to reach the average Saudi person, and she knew that she would have to organize her methods in a way that would not deter them. Al-Mansour emphasizes the importance of approaching this social issue with caution instead of as an outsider. Her identity was beneficial in that it allowed Saudi people to trust her and the message she was trying to portray in her film.

Thankfully, her hard work has paid off. Saudi women flocked to watch the film upon its release in 2012 by traveling outside the country. Al-Mansour’s sisters thought the film was “authentic” in the way it depicted the average life in Saudi Arabia. If the goal of the film was to change the perceptions of women and break away from traditional views of women, then Wadjda did just that. As the world inevitably progresses, so do countries like Saudi Arabia. Through social media and educational programs that send their citizens abroad, Saudi people have the opportunity to witness other cultures on a global scale. These interactions will inevitably cause ripples that will disrupt the traditional views imbedded in Saudi cultural practices. Women are being represented in government, legislation is changing, women are being represented in films that point out the flaws of their society. Change may come slowly and with resistance, but with people like al-Mansour advocating for women and girls, their voices are being given a platform that they have never had before.


Lizz Grimsley is a senior at ECU majoring in Sociology and minoring in Anthropology. She plans on graduating in May and has hopes to join the Peace Corps shortly afterwards. She is particularly interested in social issues and understanding how different media sources influence social norms and beliefs surrounding marginalized groups of people.

Saudi Women Gain Custody Rights

A couple of students in the anthropology class are writing about images of women in Saudi film and about progress in women’s education in Saudi Arabia. It was just announced a couple of days ago that Saudi women will not have to go to court to petition for custody of their children in event of a divorce. These petitions in the past could take years to be decided. This is a major step forward, but it does not negate the underlying rule, based on tradition, that custodianship goes to the father by default. Nonetheless it is progress and it comes in the wake of the earlier decision to allow women the right to drive. We may not think these changes are happening fast enough, but Saudi women have been working hard to make them happen.    –Holly Mathews

Single Moms’ Wage Gap – Paper Topic

The Cost of Being a Single Mother (Article by Aparna Mathur: Forbes)I decided to write my paper on the wage gaps for single moms.” The article included does a good initial overview, touching on some of the complexities of the issue. Its finger points first at one potentially misleading fact – that women are making up a majority of the workforce. Most of us know that and, even with this being true, we know that women are still statistically being paid less than men. Other stats support that both parents in a household are working more and collectively earning well above the average cost of living. Questions have been raised, though, about quality of life, specifically pertaining to work-life balance. Many households with two working parents report problems balancing work and home life. Quality of life can be called into question, even with those earning decent incomes.

So, what might this tell us about a household where a single mother’s income is the sole income for the home? Even though she’s earning one thousand more than a married woman, what’s the single mom’s work-life balance? How’s the quality of life shaping up in that household? In America, woman are still socially responsible for the lion’s share of household duties and caring for children. What’s a single mom’s work-life balance? How is she excelling in her career? Is she able to provide adequate support beyond finances for her home? Is she able to participate in networking developmental opportunities outside the home? Are her children able to do the same during their formative years? Is there a cloud of non advancement over these homes? Does this affect a single mom’s self esteem and willingness to pursue greater opportunities. How is her job responding to this challenge? Are they supporting her development are are they taking advantage of a loyal but stagnated employee. I hope to explore this story that is permeating our communities more and more, as American society trends towards more single motherhood.



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