Here is a small selection of confusing and horrifying things going on in the world:
The UK Home Office rejected LGBT activist Aderonke Apata’s asylum claim on the grounds that she can’t be a REAL lesbian because she has children. Here’s the thing, though. This isn’t just absurd for the obvious reasons. (Like, say, the fact that straight sex isn’t a magic, gay identity destroying bullet.) It’s also absurd as a matter of asylum law. It doesn’t actually matter whether Apata is, in fact, gay. What matters is whether, if sent back to Nigeria where homosexuality is a crime, she would face serious persecution on the basis of perceived gay identity. Given her high profile advocacy and open relationship with a woman, along with the fact that she has already been the target of anti-gay violence, this is an easy question to answer. Do better, UK Home Office. (Via Amanda.)
From Australia: The Queensland Liberal National party women’s group has decided to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8th) with a lunch in a men’s club. (Presumably women will be admitted for the day.) The organization’s vice president, who apparently booked the venue because it’s a bargain, said she didn’t have a problem with the club’s exclusion of women. She added:
“[H]ow can we celebrate international women’s day knowing that there’s not an international men’s day – and then when the men do want to have something that’s for themselves, we can’t respect it?”
And then, because things in Australia are truly upside down, Prime Minister Tony Abbott lauded the decision as an example of the ladies “smashing the glass ceiling”. (h/t GG.)
Oh, and ISIS is now chucking gay people (and those suspected of gayness) off of roofs. Ugh.
Here are some things that apparently happened this week while I was buried in research statements and cover letters. (The academic job market is super fun, you guys.*)
- Supporters of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election debuted a new campaign slogan: #BringBackGoodluck2015. Because nothing makes people more likely to vote for an incumbent than a reminder of his failure to take seriously the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls.
- The Pentagon announced a plan to build a spiffy new field hospital in Liberia to treat healthcare workers responding to the ebola epidemic, then clarified that they only meant * foreign * healthcare workers. USAID has since tweeted that the hospital will in fact treat “health workers of all nationalities”. Here’s hoping everyone’s now on the same page about that.
*No it isn’t.
On April 16, more than 200 teenage girls preparing to sit their final exams were abducted from their government-run boarding school in Chibok in northern Nigeria and taken deep into nearby Sambisa forest. The kidnappers are members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, who strongly object to secular education, particularly of girls.
Two days after the abduction, the Nigerian military announced that the girls had been freed in an “on-going search and rescue exercise”. They hadn’t.
In fact, some of the girls managed to escape on their own, but the rest remain unaccounted for and there have been no ransom demands. As Jina Moore documents, the families of the missing students have grown increasingly frustrated with the government’s lack of action. Several days ago, they mounted a private search operation, heading into the forest themselves. They had to turn back empty-handed, lacking the firepower to confront the terrorists directly. But as one father later told a Nigerian newspaper: “If soldiers had accompanied us to the forest, we were optimistic that our missing children would have been rescued.”
BBC reports that at a meeting on national security yesterday, the national government “vowed to do all it can” to rescue the hostages. But for many Nigerians, the delay in action reflects a devastating indifference to the fate of these young women, which, as Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani reminds us, may be bleak.
#BringBackOurGirls is now trending on Twitter, castigating not only the Nigerian state, but the international press for its disinterest in this tragedy. These girls have been missing for over a week; the least we can do is pay attention.
I love the internet (bringer of light and knowledge), but sometimes I don’t understand it.
For instance, why has this year old story of a Nigerian businessman, who died after allegedly being raped by 5 of his 6 wives, jealous over his preference for the sixth, suddenly gone viral this week?
Does it capture the zeitgeist in some manner I can’t quite follow? Is it a metaphor for our trying times? For Syria, maybe? Like, the businessman is Art. 2(4) and the first five wives are prohibitions on the use of chemical weapons and targeting of civilians. And the sixth wife is… Sergei Lavrov? No?
Somebody please enlighten me. And in the meantime, someone get cracking on a follow-up story clarifying whether the wives were charged or convicted. Inquiring minds want to know.
This zebra is not in Nigeria.
This week’s WTF Friday comes courtesy of young Abubakar Souleiman, a 15 year old Nigerian immigrant living in Boston with a creative sense of humor.
Apparently, Souleiman decided to have some fun with Yvonne Abraham, the Boston Globe columnist who interviewed him about his achievements in U.S. schools. He told her that his track and field skills were the result of a youth spent “hunting zebras with spears and trying to avoid antagonizing cheetahs.”
Abraham took his story at face value. Why, of course Souleiman would have spent his childhood dodging cheetahs and chucking spears at herds of zebra, because Africa.
Except, as blogger Bob Blewett points out:
“There are no zebra in the wild in Nigeria. (There are zebra on Nigerian postage stamps but that is about selling stamps to collectors, not zebra habitat.) While it is possible for a cheetah to exist in the savannas of northern Nigeria, this is extremely rare. Humans would frighten, not antagonize, any wild cheetah there. Besides, hunting is about accuracy; javelin is about distance”
Yesterday, Abraham issued a correction.
(Photo of zebra by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, made available under a GNU Free Documentation License.)
I must have been asleep for the past few weeks because Angelina Jolie’s movie that I thought was about a woman falling in love with the man who raped her but seems to have a slightly different (though still pretty disconcerting) angle has come out to mixed reviews. Spoiler alert: “In the film, a Bosnian Muslim woman and a Serbian Christian man find their carefree date interrupted by the outbreak of the war. Cut to: a Serbian prison camp where Muslim women are held in sexual bondage. He is the jailor and she the captive. A relationship develops — ‘consensual’ is not the right word since Danijel’s offer to make Ajla ‘his’ mistress saves her from the systematic rape of his comrades…Ajla’s physical survival is connected to her ability to sexually please Danijel…His emotional survival is linked to Ajla’s perceived redeeming love for him.” Not exactly what I expected but still feeling pretty weird about it.
Yo are you forreal with this article? It’s not all bad but I’m definitely gonna need some bullet points for this one:
- “Haiti: Miserable, but it photographs well”
- “The West’s eternal basket case…”
- “The Haitians outdid the stereotypical Israeli in pushing, shoving and trampling.”
- “A few of them wanted very much to help me with my suitcase but when I aimed the camera at them, two of them pulled a finger across their throats in a gesture that seemed to need no translation.”
- “Photographers say that the suffering and misery in these areas photographs wonderfully.”
- “Poverty, ignorance, disease are rampant.”
- “Life has a different value here.”
- “The entire country looks like one big slum”
- “It is impossible to leave this beautiful, sad country without attending a voodoo ceremony.”
- “…a few young men and many old black women wearing colorful dresses and red ribbons in their hair, who looked as though they had been taken from a slavery history museum…”
On a brighter note, hat tip to the FT for the pun of the week. Congrats. I’m sure it means a lot to you guys.
Two Lucky Charms four-leaf clover marshmallows to alert reader Julissa Milligan for this gem from Nigeria:
“Two men of God were over the weekend allegedly lured to patronise harlots at a popular brothel at Cable Point, Asaba, the Delta State capital, when they went there to preach to the ladies of easy virtue.
Leadership learnt that the pastors from a very popular church along Ibusa Road in the state had visited the area to convert and win over the sex workers to their church, but they were themselves seduced by the prostitutes who had sex with them and later burnt their Bibles and clothes.”
The poor defenseless clergymen were apparently focused on their proselytizing mission when they were “disoriented by the sudden display of breasts and other revealing body parts.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really looking forward to the day when “I swear, I was just trying to convert them” becomes the default defense to a solicitation charge…
(And yes, I’m ignoring the headline. Yeesh.)
Missed pun opportunity of the week: Demockracy. Am I the only one in journalism (erm…) trying anymore?
A U.S. appeals court has upheld the landmark September ruling that companies cannot be tried in U.S. courts for violations of international human rights laws. The suit, brought against Shell by families of seven Nigerians who were executed by a former military government for protesting oil exploration in the 1990s, may make its way to the Supreme Court. This is definitely one to pay attention to.
Are Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez trying to tell Evo Morales something? You knee one guy in the groin and all of a sudden it’s an international intervention…
PS, there’s also some other stuff going on.