JASS Blog Archives for August 2011

by Daysi Yamileth Flores Hernández on August 19, 2011 on 3:48 pm

En cada beso, una revolución “Arroz con leche me quiero casar con una señorita de la capital: que sepa coser, que sepa bailar, que sepa abrir la puerta para ir a jugar…” Era uno de los cantos más sonados a las 6 de la tarde, después de la escuela y antes del chavo del 8, en las calles de mi barrio. Todos los días entre gritos, pelotas, carreras y juegos terminábamos con rondas especiales como el Materinerero, que de la manera más normal del mundo nos permitía ofrecer y comprar la niña que quisiéramos. Claro, no sin antes enseñarnos que si ofrecíamos sapos muertos, no conseguíamos nada y que lo más efectivo sería ofrecer coronas de princesas con rubíes y diamantes ó tal vez una cadenita de oro. Todos los días era igual: las niñas bonitas se vuelven agachar y por supuesto que todas nos agachábamos, y ofrecíamos las cosas más lindas para que nos dieran a la niña escogida.

Ninguna de estas rondas tenía una explicación ó un pie de página o alguna señal que me advirtiera que yo no podría ni comprar a la niña del Materinerero, ni casarme con una señorita tan divertida que supiera bailar, jugar, pasear y sobre todo coser (cosa que para mi resultaba admirable debido a mi fracaso absoluto en las tiras de economía de la escuela). Tampoco decían las rondas, ni los juegos, ni las maestras, ni las escuelas, ni los libros… ni nadie, que si optabas por desear una niña, todas tus otras cualidades se desvanecerían y serías condenada a la marginalidad absoluta.

El debate generado por una hermosa campaña en las paredes de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, que pretende sensibilizar a las y los estudiantes en cuanto a la diversidad sexual y racial; me ha hecho recordar las rondas, los juegos, los deseos conscientes e inconscientes de la vida…me ha hecho pensar en Alexa de 18 años, quien al ver mi pulsera de colores me preguntó si yo estaba de acuerdo con la diversidad sexual y en Oscar mi amiguito de 9 hablando del lesbianismo con toda naturalidad ó Sebastían de 7 que dice: anormal sería encontrarme un dinosaurio en la calle! y me ha hecho desear que ESA sea la realidad. Sin embargo, a la hora del almuerzo al escuchar las tristes opiniones de padres, madres, hermanas y hermanos de nuestra Honduras, me doy cuenta de cuál es la verdadera verdá –como dirían nuestros amigos del notinada. La biblia salta por acá y por allá para justificar el odio y el miedo que le tienen al amor lésbico y homosexual. Mientras todos y todas hablan de “respeto” y de libertad; nos recetan el infierno después de la muerte, se quejan de que hagamos muestras de amor en público ó de que digamos abiertamente que amamos un cuerpo igual.

Dentro del Feminismo existe una corriente llamada El feminismo lésbico. Esta corriente se hizo popular en la década de los 60s cuando después de Stonwall, muchas lesbianas se unieron a organizaciones feministas y de alguna manera introducen el debate feminista más allá de las prácticas sexuales “normales” buscando una reinterpretación teórica-práctica de los valores heterosexuales como valores del patriarcado y rescatando como elemento clave del feminismo el análisis de la heterosexualidad como una institución. La diversidad sexual sigue siendo un tema tabú en nuestra sociedad, y sobre el cual debemos seguir hablando y debatiendo. No solo desde el feminismo sino desde las revoluciones, desde las concepciones más íntimas de las personas y en el caso de ésta Honduras, desde las principales aspiraciones de refundación. Después de todo ¿A quién no le gusta el arroz con leche?

Originalmente publicado en Las Bochincheras

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by Carrie Wilson on August 19, 2011 on 10:58 am

How does a woman have sex with another woman? Can a transgender person change both their internal and external sexual organs? Why would a gay person marry someone of the opposite sex and have children with them?

A lot of “awkward questions” came out into the fresh air at JASS’ discussion in East Timor about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues. Twenty young women (and two men) from JASS’ young women’s network gathered to clear up confusion. “We don’t always know how to respond to challenging questions like these,” said one woman, or how to talk about LGBTI.

The discussion was designed to help young people respond to these types of questions when they’re doing movement-building work on women’s rights in all sorts of communities. They also had some of their own questions, like whether sexual orientation is a choice or something we are born with, or whether HIV/AIDS can be transmitted during gay sex. Young Timorese women are expected to get married and have children – sometimes, it’s easier for a gay person to succumb to pressure than be open about their identity and risk rejection by family and peers.

Young Timorese Activists

In Timor L’este it’s a little easier to be a gay man than it is to be a lesbian as gay men are more visible, while lesbians have to hide their identity because of misunderstanding and stigma (and of course patriarchy). The approach to homosexuality in this predominantly Catholic country is heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. Sunday mass is often an opportunity to talk about the “immorality” of homosexual behavior. When Timor L’este’s constitution was formulated in 2002, an early version promised to guarantee rights for all sexual orientations but, under pressure from the Church, 52 out of 88 members of parliament voted against it. That left the gay community susceptible to marginalization, discrimination and even violence.

The JASS conversation finished with a broader understanding of sex and sexuality rights. The group agreed on the importance of an inclusive women’s movement dedicated to combatting discrimination in all forms. In a country less than a decade old, it is the responsibility of young leaders to reduce stigma and homophobia, and to contribute to a more tolerant society where ALL people can feel free to be themselves. Three key strategies to achieve this goal were recommended: 1. Take responsibility to get informed about the facts yourself so that you can educate others; 2. In your work with communities, create open and safe spaces like this one to promote discussion for greater understanding and acceptance; and 3. Speak up when you hear people making jokes or derogatory comments about the LGBTI community.

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by Carrie Wilson on August 15, 2011 on 12:16 pm

Members of CYWENI’m in Cambodia this week getting to know the women of the Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN) and their work around equipping young women with the confidence, information and skills needed to increase their participation in decision-making from the household to the legislature. CYWEN Chair, Chan Kunthea, says of the network: “We want to break the culture of silence in Cambodia, where young people are afraid to speak up. Memories of the time of Khmer Rouge are still with us so it is difficult for us to voice our needs and demand rights. Young women in particular are lacking the confidence to engage in politics, or even to speak up at home. We want to change this.”

CYWEN was launched in 2010 following JASS Southeast Asia’s first national-level workshop in Phnom Penh in November 2009. Since then, its 30 members have launched a strategy to strengthen young women’s political participation. They’re targeting high school and university students in Phnom Penh and the provinces by holding roundtable discussions on key issues for Cambodian women, including rape, migration, access to education, and maternal mortality. Beginning with open discussions to build women’s confidence and information, CYWEN members will support students to engage in joint action to educate others about these issues (e.g. through school campaigns), and to use social media tools like Facebook for greater reach. Media outreach is a key strategy of the group, whose members’ voices are featured on a radio talk show on gender-based violence. They already have plans for a new radio show highlighting young women’s voices and perspectives to raise public awareness, and they are in the process of launching a blog.

The CYWEN core team is made up of young women activists from different local NGOs who volunteer their evenings and weekends to get the network’s activities off the ground. “CYWEN members are committed to this initiative not because they are getting paid for it,” says Kunthea, “but because they care about the future of Cambodia. It comes from the heart” If the key to Cambodia’s future is equipping the next generation, who make up 70% of the population, with the confidence and tools to engage in decisions that affect their lives, then I’d say these young women are leading the way.

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