Human Rights Badasses

So I completely abandoned the blog during the semester, as anyone who happens by can see. I think there was like one non-spam comment in that time that I didn’t approve for a while, sorry about that.

The obvious badasses that I would’ve mentioned had I been here were Aung San Suu Kyi, who was democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma but was put under house arrest by the military, which is now beating and killing the peaceful pro-democracy protesters; and Benazir Bhutto, who, well, if you’re not living under a rock, you know who she is and why she came to mind. Bhutto may have been corrupt. Not perfect. And not quite as cool as Suu Kyi, who, no joke, won a Nobel Prize while under house arrest. But you have to be a badass to go back into a country where people have already tried to kill you. And it’s pretty cool that she was the first female prime minister of an Islamic country. Hear that, islamophobes? Pakistan beat the US to a female head of state. Somebody wrote into my local paper in response to the assassination and ensuing chaos saying, I kid you not, “What do you expect? It’s Pakistan.” I just bet you that person turned around and said that Hillary Clinton isn’t fit to lead this country because she has cankles or something. I mean, yeah, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists suck, like all fundamentalists and terrorists – in fact, like Christian fundamentalists and anti-abortion terrorists. But it’s funny how people can ignore their own problems AND ignore Pakistan’s strong points so easily. Anyway. So far all this information is from Wikipedia and my memory of Guardian articles on Bhutto, but I’d like to read up more on Suu Kyi, so maybe I’ll give some real information. It’s definitely time to start focusing on badasses again; I’ve started getting depressed with US politics and I need to force myself to think about some good news.


Bob Allen (R-FL)!


Just kidding. Ah, whenever I get upset about the woman who was just charged for her own rape by the [expletive] military (please write your reps), I just think of this story, and it’s so friggin fantastic – if by fantastic you mean racist, wildly hypocritical, delightfully undermining, and not entirely surprising – that I can’t help but laugh. Really releases the tension.

: )

Malalai Joya is an Afghan woman. Being an Afghan woman is not easy. I’m not kidding. Anyway, at age 19, she started teaching literacy classes to women. She later opened an orphanage and health clinic. She is the director of the Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities and has received all kinds of cool awards. But kicking ass at life wasn’t enough for her. She went on to become a full-fledged Badass. She ran for Parliament and got the second highest number of votes in her province. What makes her a Badass is that she keeps speaking up no matter how many times people threaten to kill her, attempt to assassinate her (4 times so far), or generally defame her. She is the youngest member of the Parliament, under 30, but she’s brave enough to speak out against the warlords that still infiltrate the Afghan government. She gives in on one point: she wears a burqa when traveling, for her safety. I think this only serves to highlight her badassery. The woman covered head to toe is a sign of submission to the deeply patriarchal culture, a sign that their intimidation is working. But from underneath her burqa, she won’t shut up. My sources below quote her as saying “They will kill me, but they will not kill my voice.” I love it.

Info on Ms. Joya:
From BBC
From the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya
From The Omega Institute, for which Malalai and others will be speaking at a conference on Women, Power, and Peace in September.

Info on Afghan women (you can help!):
With the Feminist Majority Foundation
With Equality Now
Donate to Malalai Hospital (named after another female Afghan Badass, isn’t that crazy? Remind me of this name if/when I have a daughter)

I want to add something about the burqa.  If a woman wants to wear a burqa (as some point out, it’s a safe haven from men leering, at least, and some may like the religious symbol), that’s fine with me.  I have a problem with it when a woman doesn’t want to wear one but has to anyway because otherwise she’ll be assaulted.  Just to clarify.

et cetera