From the September-October 2019 issue of News & Letters
In August, Iranian authorities arrested two of 14 feminists who signed an open letter calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to resign. They stated the “patriarchal approach” of the “theocracy” of the past 40 years had created an “anti-woman system.” They wrote, “In a world where women in most countries move side by side with men…under the Islamic Republic women still fight for their basic human rights.” One activist’s lawyer stated the 20 million other women in Iran could count themselves as the 15th signatory.
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In August, in Mexico, four police officers raped a 17-year-old girl in a squad car, another raped a 16-year-old girl in a museum. As government action has been slow to nonexistent to these and numerous other rapes and murders of women, over 2,000, most of them women, flooded Mexico City. They chanted, “Attack One of Us and You Attack All of Us,” “Rapist Pigs,” and “Justice” and spray-painted slogans on walls, subways, and the Angel of Independence Monument. They sprayed the police chief with pink glitter and smashed the glass door of the attorney general’s office. When the mayor claimed they were trying to provoke the police to respond with violence, one stated, “It’s being fed up with a system that doesn’t listen to us, doesn’t protect us, and doesn’t offer solutions.”
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In August, a version of the “Girl of Peace Statue” by Korean sculptors Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung was on display at an arts festival in Japan. It is a memorial to thousands of Korean women forced by the Japanese government to sexually service soldiers during World War II. For the public’s safety, the director of the arts festival removed the statue and closed the section of the exhibit dedicated to controversial art works due to threats of violence.
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In Turkey, Canan Kaftancioğlu, the Istanbul chief of the secularist Republican People’s Party, is on trial and faces 17 years in prison. She allegedly insulted the fundamentalist Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the state, “provoked animosity,” and made “terrorist propaganda” on social media six years ago. She states investigation into her tweets started two days after her election, and is retaliation for helping her party’s candidate win the election for Mayor of Istanbul, ousting Erdoğan’s choice for this position controlled by fundamentalist Islamists since 1994.