Category Archives: Gender-based violence

Op-Ed Intimate Partner Violence in China

Diamond Ragin

As reported by Emily Ruahala, Chinese woman Li Hongxia, age 23, was brutally strangled to death in a hospital by her husband after years of enduring physical abuse. Her own family members discouraged her from seeking a divorce despite knowing about the abuse because they believed it would give her a bad reputation in the community. Today her body rests in a refrigerated casket in the home she once shared with her husband as a reminder to the citizens of China to protect the victims of domestic violence rather than to reject their pleas for help.

Unfortunately, Li’s case is not uncommon. In China, thirty percent of women suffer from domestic violence at some point in their marriages. Many victims of domestic violence don’t divorce because their lives are being threatened by their partners. They also may have nowhere else to go, and many are pressured by family members and friends to stay married.

Victims of domestic violence in China have limited options for refuge. If they cannot get assistance from family members then they must resort to government-funded domestic violence shelters. These shelters provide temporary housing where victims can get legal, medical and psychological aid. However, there are not many of these facilities open and they are usually connected to homeless shelters; this causes female victims not to feel safe. There is also a fear of social criticism and community ostracism when going to stay at these facilities.

On February 1st, 2016 the day after Hongxia was murdered, the Chinese government passed a law aimed to protect the victims of domestic violence by making it easier for them to get restraining orders and government aid should they divorce their husbands. However, because of the lack of enforcement from local officials, this law is doing little to help the victims. Judicial officials are hesitant to provide restraining orders and disrupt families due to societal views on family that states a that a fully functioning home is one what has an obedient wife and a dominant husband. Therefore, it is seen as taboo for a woman to divorce or separate from her husband.

Unless these women get the help, they will continue to suffer. Unable to obtain divorces, many believe that their only hope of peace will come in the form of suicide. Forty-seven percent of suicides in China are the result of spousal abuse. To make this law more effective and protect the victims of domestic abuse, the Chinese government needs to make domestic abuse and other intimate partner-related violence crimes with punishable offences. The government must also take action to make sure that officials enforce the law. This could be done by implanting training courses on the proper protocal should a victim or bystander report a possible demotic abuse situation.

Another important step to protect women is to encourage more women to seek careers, so that they can contribute to family finances and gain more power relative to their husbands. Greater financial autonomy will also enable women to divorce if necessary because they will be better able to obtain custody and care for children. Building more domestic violence shelters made specifically for women and children will allow women to get the assistance they need without the worry of being attacked by predators outside the home.

As China is continues to change and modernize and adjust its laws to reflect its new outlook, the government must develop a way to ensure that its laws are being enforced. This is an ongoing issue many counties seen to have; especially when creating laws that diverge from a traditional norm.


Diamond Ragin attends East Carolina University and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She hopes to continue to research different cultures and incorporate her skills in her career field.

Op-Ed: A Call to Authenticity: The Plight of Transgender Refugees

Evander Jennings  

Picture this: You are looking out upon a scorched desert, humming the song your mother used to sing you to at night when you couldn’t sleep. As you hum this tune you realize there are many more sleepless nights ahead. You remember last night, like so many others. The memories flood back as you dab at the swollen eye you received from the men who beat and raped you, again. This is what you were running from; where you come from, people who are different, people like you, are better off being dead in most cases. Because you break down the barriers between man and woman, like your mother’s song, firm and unbreakable, yet soft and sweet. Because you are this other, Transgender, you were told to kill yourself or risk being killed by those you thought you could trust. Continuing on your journey you travel by foot across an endless desert to a neighboring country. The country of endless possibility, prosperity and most of all, safety. But sadly, this is only the beginning of your journey.

Transgender men and women already face impossible odds. They must steel themselves against wave after wave of hate, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, poverty, sickness, harassment and discrimination. They face a world that has no love for them, yet they cling to authenticity like a prayer. Transgender individuals in several countries across the globe are faced with the threat of death simply because they are living as their authentic and true selves. These individuals are unwelcomed within their home countries and in some vehemently criminalized, simply for trying to live as they are; as men and women. By increasing our knowledge about the issues transgender refugees face and trying to adjust the broken systems and laws that do this harm, we can play an active role in saving the lives of thousands of people coming into our country.

Transgender asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees all share a common and pronounced threat to their wellbeing, mental, and physical health. Not only are they subjected to inhumane treatment when being processed into the country, once allowed in they are subjected to horrors such as forced sterilization. Transgender refugees are detained for months and sometimes years at a time, as stated by the International Detention Coalition. Harassment, rape, and physical violence run rampant in the detention centers whilst they await processing into the country. They are often housed with those of their birth gender meaning for example, trans-women are housed with men, leading to sexual harassment and often physical abuse. There is often abuse from officers that are supposed to protect refugees into the country as well. One account from a woman named Tania Cordova from Michoacacan, Mexico stated:

“They didn’t have no place to house me, and they decided that if I wanted to be in general population, I was going to be housed with males,” she said. “I remember one day I went back to detention, and there was a female officer there who was supposed to search us, but not see us without clothes. She wanted to see what a transgender looks like.”

The way the system is as of now, the government is more willing to repatriate or relocate individuals back to their home countries than to allow them entrance into the country. Senior Director for Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission Dale Buscher explains that many LGBT persons are relocated instead of gaining the asylum though there are “76 United Nations (UN) Member States criminalize same-sex acts among consenting adults and seven of those states (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Somalia and Nigeria) maintain the death penalty for consensual homosexual acts.” In short this means there are potentially thousands of lives that have been lost due to repatriation, and relocation because authorities are not taking the possibility they are LGBT into consideration.

LGBT individuals that could potentially seek asylum are usually too frightened to reveal their identity due to fear of being turned away or discriminated against by officials. If asylum seekers are interviewed in a group setting, and it seems this is common, they may hide their identities due to this mixture of shame and fear. As Buscher states; “LGBT refugees risk having their claim denied if they are not able to speak openly about their sexual identity, how they were treated in their home countries based on that identity, and how it led to their flight.”. The fear that is a constant in the lives of these individuals doesn’t go away with leaving their hometown or village. Transgender people especially tend to be noticeably LGBT and yet are still turned away or repatriated back to their home countries. There seems to be a shift in blame towards the asylum seekers because of them hiding their identity, however this is an issue that needs to be addressed by those with the power to help instead of victim blaming.

These populations are overlooked and not taken care of in a proper way that shows them any human decency or respect. Until we change the way or immigration systems are set up and operated, more lives are going to be lost and shattered. We need to put legislators into office that don’t overlook or demean Refugees and asylum seekers coming into the United States. They are fleeing their oppressive countries to try live safely in the arms of this great nation and we are turning a blind eye to a people in need. They are being murdered, prosecuted, beaten, and raped because they are a little different from the norm. They are autonomous, emotional, human beings, simply because they look differently, sound differently, dress differently does not negate the fact they deserve basic human rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Evander Jennings is an Anthropology and International Studies double major with a focus in global diversity. Upon graduation he hopes to either work internationally, or on the home front to provide safety, aid, and support for those within minority groups.



The Wrong Debate: Substantive Blog Post #3

How do policies on immigration create an environment in which migrants can be targeted for human trafficking?


This article observes the complexities behind feminism and the distinction of women that are trafficked. The author argues that the word “force” is currently the primary factor in determining trafficking and the loose term benefits traffickers because many are often only prosecuted in extreme examples of human trafficking. While there are extreme and violent cases of human trafficking that deserve real attention, many are less “exciting” and involve more “routine power and control relationships.” Trying to create a divide between human smuggling and human trafficking leads to the ignorance of the often similar fates of both. Just as it occurs with human trafficking, the lives of the individuals being illegally smuggled into countries are at the mercy of their smugglers, who are often also traffickers. Many try to make the distinction between smuggling and trafficking by assuming that the women that are smuggled and end up prostituting, do so purposefully as their initial intention for moving to the country. The counterargument would be that it is unlikely that these women are moving to far away nations from often high poverty, simply to be a sex worker. Additionally, because these women are coming from poverty, it is unlikely that they are able to pay the smugglers outright, forcing them into whatever forced labour the smugglers/traffickers desire; often prostitution. The point of this argument is to say that each individual circumstance is hard to determine.


It is also important to note that the concept of “choice,” in terms of women choosing to migrate illegally is arguable due to the living circumstances of women in their countries of origin. This includes high female unemployment, sexual harassment and discrimination. While trafficking and exploitation is a huge problem for women coming from outside borders, the author points out that is also becoming an increasing problem within the borders of the EU. While many may view the definition of trafficking as a debate within politics and academia, a more inclusive definition serves to protect the victims that are marginalized by the current definitions that are limited to the use of “force” as a determining factor of trafficking.


An underlying question that contributes to this debate between those smuggled and becoming sex workers and those that are sex trafficked, is whether or not the sex industry exploits women. More so, under what conditions is it considered exploitation. One theory contributes any willful sex worker to be linked to previous abuse and the sex as a coping mechanism. Another looks to the deep gender inequalities and lack of opportunity as an additional reason for women to get involved in prostitution.


A solution proposed is to focus on gender equality as a primary concern in hopes that in turn, feminists will fight to create more equality and ultimately, create environments in which this exploitation would not be allowed to occur. Additionally, creating a more gender equality society would reduce the need for the disadvantaged women to migrate in the first place. If a common ground was met amongst feminist to focus on developing a more feasible framework in which women and girls are assisted in their integration or return to their country of origin, they could be left less vulnerable to traffickers.


This piece brings up a good point about the way that policies are worded and developed. Wording can limit or expand the way that a policy is enforced. By using the word “force” as a precursor for determining if a person is sex trafficked, the author argues that cases that are prosecuted are often those of extreme cases where “force” can be easily observed. This word neglects to really encompass other forms of abuse and confinement. This article takes a feminist’s standpoint which gives more of a perspective of the reason why women and girls are trapped by traffickers. By trying to have a better understanding of why this is, law makers will have a better understanding of how to combat the problem and who should be included as victims.



Kelly, L. (2003). The wrong debate: Reflections on why force is not the key issue with respect to trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. Feminist Review, (73), 139-144. Retrieved from

“Bro-Culture” at Google

A company perceived by many as “progressive” is now receiving backlash after neglecting to follow through on sexual harassment complaints made by their female software engineer.  Her complaints include having male coworkers spike her drink with alcohol, shoot her with nerf guns, send her sexually suggestive texts and one having slapped her in the face. This female employee, Loretta Lee, is most disturbed by her encounter with a male employee that she found hiding beneath her desk and whom she believes installed some sort of camera underneath the desk. Her suit accuses Google of continuously ignoring the pattern of sexual harassment and punishing the victim.


Google is facing an additional lawsuit from James Damore, after being fired for a controversial memo about gender: “advancing harmful gender stereotypes”. Damore’s firing created outrage amongst the right with claims that Google discriminates against white male conservatives. Tim Chevalier, Google’s site reliability engineer, in addition, is filing his own lawsuit after being fired for speaking out against the aforementioned memo.


Google’s biggest issue appears to be their inability to address and combat these issues. Loretta Lee’s biggest fears were realized when she finally filed a complaint after being continuously pressured by HR. She became ostracized by her peers and everyone in her group refused to approve her work which ultimately led to her termination.


Large companies such as these need to make a more intentional effort to combat such gender discrimination in the workplace. With the Google workforce already consisting of majority of men and an investigation into the disparity between men and women’s pay, they need to consider some serious changes to their infrastructure and their companies attitude. In order to set an example, a company with such recognition needs to be active in creating an equal workspace and continue to combat people who believe that a company with a technical workforce of 80% men and majority white and Asian (1% African American) are somehow discriminating against white male conservatives.

Op-ED 1- Jaylen

Jaylen Rodgers



Gender studies has opened up a whole new perspective from me, and the sad realization that people are still not able to express their views and sexuality freely and without social consequences even in these “progressive” times.    It is even more concerning that the patriarchal status quo ever prevalent in America has continued to allow powerful men to oppress women and bully them into submission.  I have read books, articles, and heard stories that have truly gave me chills thus far, though Hector Carillo’s text has definitely been the most shocking and impactful story so far.  Although my articles on the blog have focused on substance abuse and its effect on the different genders, I feel there is another topic that has tragically forced its way into the national spotlight and that I feel strongly about: School shootings and inevitably gun control.

The different reactions from both political parties to this party have been shocking to me.  Trump and the Republicans blast ridiculous ideas about arming teachers while giving them bonuses, meanwhile some Democrats continue to shamelessly exploit the tragedy for political means and preach about the mythical ideal of “Gun control” .  While the problem of FAR too easy access to military grade weapons definitely exists; we also have a problem with looking at events objectively and not through the lens of identity politics and personal biases.  The Republicans are also ridiculously hypocritical with their reactions to every event of Muslim “extremism.” Maybe it’s just me, but whether its a white/black/asian dude shooting up a school or blowing themselves up and killing innocent people, it’s a tragedy period.  The shooter should barely be a factor, the focus should be on the victims always and their families.  The media is plenty to blame for this problem but the personal biases shine through in everyone.

Here’s my view of things: To start off, I’m not a member of the NRA or anything but I devoutly support the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms.  I grew up in Rural Eastern NC hunting, fishing, and shooting cans in the backyard.  Guns were all around us; both genders were taught how to shoot, though we learned with pellet guns and shotguns instead of AR-15s.

In regards to this current debate however, guns aren’t going anywhere, period.   My argument is not that guns are socially necessary and that there aren’t other methods of self defense.  I could simply argue the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” cliche, which honestly is the simplest way I can get people to understand it but they still wouldn’t.  Maybe I’ll indulge in some satire….Boom, make guns illegal and no civilian can buy one.  Cool.  Will all guns start being collected, dismantled .and destroyed? Will there be a nationwide gun collection program? Do all the guys with illegal, unregistered guns have to give theirs back too? If so, I’m all for it.  

This is not reality however.  The bad guys have never registered their guns or did background checks.  In a world where there are billions of guns and bullets lying around, it’s either somebody can legally have them or none of us can.  That’s my only practical solution to guns.  I’m not even going to make the “take the guns from police” case either, what would it have done in Parkland? Nothing .  The Deputy didn’t even draw it.  Going back to the cliche, it’s really not guns that kill people, but people that kill people.  

Maybe this is toxic masculinity, maybe the feeling of power a gun gives to some people makes them overly violent and masochistic.  Is everybody too desensitized to violence? Why do men do the vast majority of mass shootings? The music I hear on the radio and the movies I see sure make guns seem pretty normal and even kinda cool! In case you haven’t noticed. I don’t seem to have a lot realistic solutions to guns either.  Humans unleashed a mechanism of control that they can no longer control, as with nuclear weapons.  Even through primitive times humans have had tools to end life, tools to defend themselves against others, but now it’s as easy as pulling a trigger.  20 lives can be taken as easily as one.  We have a problem we can’t seem to solve.  Feel free to comment and engage!

Censorship and Sexual Violence in China

About a month ago, this article was published on The New York Times website. It takes a look at how the #MeToo movement has impacted China and how it relates to perceptions on sexual violence. What makes this article interesting is that it informs readers about how the movement has affected people outside of the U.S. as well as informs us of how the lengths the Chinese government has gone to silence victims. As women have come forward to speak out on social media platforms and in their everyday lives, they are met with criticism and censorship.

How do these perceptions on sexual violence compare cross-culturally? What can activists in the U.S. do to fight rape culture and censorship at home and abroad?

Umoja – a village with no men

Umoja is a village in Kenya, I had seen a video on Facebook and decided to do a little more digging into this village. The name of the village in Swahili means “unity”. This village has banned men from itself, it was founded in 1990 by female survivors of rape and sexual violence, but also is a safe haven for women who flee these situations; they also welcome women who are fleeing genital mutilation and child marriage but also anything that causes harm emotionally or physically to women. The village only consists of 20 women and 200 children.

Umoja has inspired other women-only villages within Kenya.

“Building community through peace, love and understanding rather than fear and violence.”


Personally I thought this video was amazing, to find out that these women, even what they’ve been through have found strength to fight to get their lives back and help other women in Kenya and other fleeing women to do the same; it’s inspirational.

R*pe Culture: How Larry Nassar’s Trial Shows Us the Reality of Victims in the US

This is a Trigger Warning regarding the nature of this blog post and article. Contents discusses rape, sexual assault, and the trauma resulting from it based on an article about the recent trial of Larry Nassar.


In the article that I am sharing with you today, we are able to see the harsh reality of rape culture through the eyes of Rachael Denhollander, one of Larry Nassar’s victims. She uses the New York Times as a platform to speak upon her own experiences as well as advocate for victims who dealt with the same criticisms she faced. Denhollander informs her audience about the reality of rape culture, providing sufficient examples of its existence as well as offering ideas on how we can begin destroying the culture.

For those of you who are unaware, rape culture is the system of ideas, opinions, beliefs, and stigmas regarding victims of sexual assault. This usually includes people making excuses for the predator, placing blame on the victim by telling them what they should or should not have done, and even go as far to claim that the victim is lying. It is this culture that prevents victims, regardless of gender, to come forward. With the trauma they have already experienced, they often face more after revealing their stories. According Denhollander, the attacks she faced were “crushing.” Through her testimony, she explains how she became scrutinized by the public and lost her privacy, which is a common factor found in other victims’ stories.

Denhollander finishes the article by explaining how we can prevent rape culture and, thus, avoid silencing and harming victims any further. At the end, she questions her audience: “How much is a child worth?” As more people come forward about their experiences, it is necessary to recall this question and understand the reality of rape culture and its affect on victims.

Click here to read the article.

-Lizz Grimsley

I Am Jane Doe PSA to Amend the CDA


January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and this short video briefly describes the issue of websites that knowingly profit from sex trafficking advertisements of children. It calls viewers to action by asking you to contact you senator to ask that SESTA be passed to close the loophole that allows this heinous criminal activity to continue.

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) to protect children from exposure to Internet pornography.  The act included a defense, Section 230, for Internet providers, protecting them from liability for material posted to their sites by third parties. Thus, if pornography or other illicit material is posted to a site by someone not associated with the site operator, the site was to be held harmless.

In Volume 17, Issue 1 of the Berkley Technology Law Journal, Paul Ehrlich discusses the Communications Decency Act in depth and describes the results of Section 230:

“Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”)’ in 1996 to address the myriad problems surrounding the regulation of obscene, illegal, or otherwise tortious content found on the Internet. Many of the CDA’s provisions regulating decency have been struck down by the courts as violations of the First Amendment. One of the surviving elements is a congressional grant of immunity from suit to ISPs [Internet service providers] and other interactive computer services for content originating with third parties. The text of the statute relies on terms of art from the law of defamation, formally protecting interactive computer services from treatment as “publisher[s] or speaker[s].’ However, while defamation law recognizes a distinction between liability as a publisher and liability as a distributor, courts have unanimously read Section 230(c)’s grant of ISP immunity as covering both publishing and distribution liabilities. In doing so, courts took Congress’ desired balance between the competing interests of decency and efficiency and tipped the scales decisively towards efficiency. The effect of these rulings has been the emergence of a comprehensive immunity from suit for ISPs so long as the suits are based on content not authored by the ISP. Whether or not Congress intended this result, ISPs and other interactive computer services have used Section 230 as a complete defense against recent suits…”

Ehrlich continues in footnote 5 of this section, “Publishers are presumed to have more control over material disseminated and are therefore subject to strict liability. Distributors are subject to liability under a knowledge or negligence standard.” This interpretation would make it seem that once a distributor of third party information is made aware that there is a problem of defamation or otherwise illegal activity that then the distributor could be held responsible. Conversely, this is not the case.

Amending Section 230 is not an issue of free speech. This is an issue of illegal activity occurring in a public forum. Section 230 was well intentioned, but it has been used by companies as a place to advertise illegal conduct such as sex trafficking of women and children.  Congress likely never intended this result, yet some courts have ruled that the 230 defense provides, in effect, blanket website immunity for all material posted by third parties on the sites.

In The Children’s Legal Right Journal, Abigail Kuzma eloquently explains these issues in her “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Kuzma describes the issue in great detail, provides substantial evidence for the need to amend the CDA, and also proposes possible amendments. She writes, “…it is critical that legislative action be taken to require all hosts of adult services sections to take preventive action against the posting of abusive ads. Such a bill could be drafted as an amendment to the CDA itself, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), or as a state law amendment that could be called the Internet Protection Against Child Trafficking Act (IPACT).” Please refer to her letter to learn more about the issues of human trafficking as a crime and human trafficking via the internet.

Business owners claim that illegal activity on their websites is not their responsibility because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Businesses that profit from these types of advertisements are using ignorance as an excuse so that they can claim they have no role in either prostitution or human trafficking. In order to stop human trafficking, we must take action to make access to this crime more difficult. The ISPs will do nothing to help modern day slaves as long as they believe that they are not an accessory to the crime because they have no liability or legal responsibility. However, if they knowingly profit from crimes such as human trafficking they are in fact aiding and abetting those crimes. Section 230 needs to be amended—not so that free speech is tarnished or diminished in any way, but so that people who are being used and sold can have a voice separate from their abusers.

-Kari C.


Ehrlich, Paul. “Communications Decency Act 230.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 17.1 (2002). web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Kumez, Abigail L. “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Children’s Legal Right Journal 34.1: 23-58. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.


“Medical policies that stripped athletes of the right to say no to him”

I have decided to attach two articles because they each speak on different problems that are relevant to this specific problem. When I first learned about Larry Nassar, I was watching a video of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentencing him to 175 years. Without context to go with the video, I read a comment about the video that stood out to me, “I wish they would charge murders as seriously.” To hear someone be sentenced to 175 years in prison, it is hard not to have an interest. After searching his name and immediately seeing a reference to sexual abuse, my first thought was that I am glad that someone was getting a more severe punishment for a crime that I felt did not often receive a just punishment.


Upon reading the two articles, I was astonished to read that a medical professional had used his power to manipulate over 150 women. I have always known that sexual assault and abuse were prevalent in the world but to hear detailed stories of abuse that was so obviously hidden, makes me sad, but gives me a renewed sense of confidence for women. People are so unaware of the frequency of sexual abuse and assault and I believe that the bravery of these women is beginning a revolution to towards the ultimate goal of ending this serious problem.


Some significant points that I want to highlight from these articles provide a good perspective of the attitudes towards sexual abuse had by the parties involved in this case. The first comes from the President of Michigan State University, Lou Anna K. Simon who is quoted saying, “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.” To me, she  omits any fault through this statement and takes no responsibility for the crimes committed under her leadership. Another significant quote, referenced in my title is: “The cost of gold medal pursuit was signing medical policies that stripped athletes of the right to say no to him.” A major reason that the abuse continued for so long was because the women were only allowed to receive medical treatment from Larry Nassar if they wished to compete. As one of the gymnasts says, “He had been doing it for so long, and he had done it to so many of us, that we thought if it was really wrong he wouldn’t be doing it,” she said. “He was the ‘Olympic doctor’ and everyone praised him.” They had no idea what was happening was wrong because similar abuse had been done to each of his patients. To think that no one else had any knowledge that over 150 women were being abused is naive and others agree and are pushing for an investigation into others who were negligent during the decades that Larry Nassar served as a doctor.


A final quote that I wish to end with that stuck with me most comes from Larry Nassar in his letter in which he retracts his guilty plea, claiming that he was forced. He is quoted writing “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” in an attempt to argue that over 150 women, many of whom were children at the time of the abuse, came to him because they enjoyed the methodology of his treatment. All in all, fortunately, the judge saw through the unethical doctors lies and gave him a “death warrant.”


Taylor Hilliard

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