The job in the textiles factory outside the Syrian capital would pay $300 (£160) a month, travel for the long journey was already arranged, a place for the girls to stay was ready and waiting and - best of all - Um Ahmad would pay Mona's father one month's salary in advance.
For the 26-year-old eldest daughter of eight children whose parents faced a daily despair of car bombs and poverty in their Baghdad slum, the offer sounded too good to be true.
Within a week of arriving in Damascus, Mona - whose name has been changed to protect her identity - had been plied with alcohol by Um Ahmad, required to dance for "friends of the factory owner" and had lost her virginity.
…Mona had become another victim of the growing sex trade among an Iraqi refugee community in Syria that local NGOs now estimate at 800,000 people, and to whose plight aid agencies say the international community continues to turn a blind eye.
…The [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] report found that prostitution among young Iraqi women in Syria, some just 12 years old, "may become a more widespread problem since the economic situation of Iraqi families is increasingly deteriorating".
"Organised networks dealing with the sex trade were reported," it said, finding evidence that "girls and women were trafficked by organised networks or family members".
President Bush is constantly reminding us that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have made it possible for 25 million women and girls to "go to school, vote in elections, and play an active role in their societies." Which sounds awesome -- but it's total bullshit. Not only are women and girls still being prevented throughout Afghanistan and Iraq from the full participation in society to which Bush claims they now have access, but the women and girls who have -- along with their fathers, husbands, and brothers -- fled Iraq for fear of their lives are not receiving nearly enough assistance as refugees, and when the men can't work for lack of proper permits (or lack of available jobs), the women are left to sell their bodies, ever the tradable commodity.
[F]or another 17-year-old from the Shia holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, an evening's work in an adult bar outside Damascus still brings her shame. But it is the only income her family has.
"No one in my family can shout at me, even though they know what I do, because I am the only one working," said the girl, who has changed her name to Ayman since arriving in Syria in June 2003 and who earns $60 a night dancing and sleeping with wealthy Syrians and Arabs from the Gulf.
"I drink a lot of wine before I have sex with the men. Sometimes I hate myself for doing this job, especially when men ask me to do unusual things to make them happy," said Ayman. "I want to be married to a good husband and to have a family of my own, but the war forced me to come to Syria. I keep thinking I should just run away to start a new life in Europe, or maybe even America."
In America…where she sees the freedom and opportunity that America said it was bringing to her.
From Shakespeare's Sister at Alternet.
So out here on St Pete Beach, there's a bit of a war being fought. But first, some background:
All up and down the Gulf Coast of Pinellas County, government and real estate developers have been colluding to tear down the old motels and apartment complexes in order to make way for luxury high-rise condos. The government says its good because it increases tax revenues, and developers say its good because, well, because they are vultures and that's what they do.
But what they fail to note is that most of these condos are sold to wealthy retirees who shutter their condos three quarters of the year, and that the communities around them have a way of shriveling up and dying as a result. Take a walk up and down Gulf Boulevard in North Redington Beach - it's dead. There's no one there. Oh, sure, they've got lots of big houses that look nice, but that's it. I don't even know if there is public beach access anywhere in NRB. There are no people, no restaurants, no bars, no nothing.
The folks in St Pete Beach saw all of this happening without the consent of the people in those communities, so they took action. A group called Citizens for Responsible Growth organized to put charter amendments on the ballot, with the intent of making the government accountable to the citizens. It's sort of an offshoot of the Hometown Democracy movement that has been springing up all over Florida, where citizens are saying, Hey, fuck you, you can't go and redevelop MY HOME and MY COMMUNITY without MY SAY-SO. I mean, shit, you can't open the paper nowadays without hearing about some new development gone bust, or some old ladies forced out of their homes, or some mobile home park being sold out from underneath them. These amendments would force the city to hold a referendum every time they wanted to change the comprehensive development plan, and it would force them to only pass changes with a unanimous vote.
Sounds fairly simple, right?
Well, the city of SPB FLIPPED OUT. They sued to have the amendments taken off the ballot, which eventually dismissed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. (Thank God.) So now, for the past three or four months, the city of SPB, along with developers and business owners, have taken to flooding the community with disinformation. At least once a week, we have people knock on our doors to explain to us how voting for these amendments will destroy our community. (Never mind that investigators found out that the majority of these canvassers aren't from SPB.) All of our favorite bars and restaurants have signs out urging us to vote no. (Never mind that most of them are raking in the bucks as is right now, and that they only reason they want a no vote is so they can sell out to condo developers and get the hell out of Dodge.) Our mailbox is always jammed full of shiny high-priced circulars telling us why voting yes will ruin our community. Meanwhile, CRG, being the underdog here, sends around photocopied, tri-folded fliers. (When you've got truth on your side, you don't need a fancy PR firm to do your dirty work.) The local weekly newsletters publish editorials against the amendments, and they publish nothing but anti-CRG letters (from local business owners, of course). The city has even paid to plaster city vehicles with "vote no" stickers and magnets. In fact, all told the city of SPB has spent over half a million dollars trying to tell us how to vote.
The funniest part is that, while all of the businesses have these 'Vote No' signs out, all of the houses and residences have 'Vote Yes'. It is literally a civil war, albeit a very polite, well-funded civil war. It's a civil war, nonetheless, and it's a war that is being fought against all of the greedy developers who have swooped down on Florida and tried to take our state away from us. Unscrupulous real estate developers are destroying this state - wrecking the economy, the environment, and the community - and I'll be damned if they destroy my lovely beach community, the place I love to be more than any other place in the world.
So last night, when I filled out my absentee ballot, I made sure to vote for the judges who threw out the lawsuit. I made sure to vote for candidates who support CRG. And most of all, I made sure to vote YES on every single one of those fucking ballot amendments. It felt SO GOOD I nearly cried.
I hope they lose. I hope we win. I hope those amendments get on the charter, and that we become a model for engaged citizenry fighting back all over the state. Because fuck those assholes, with their "tax base" and their "economic growth". Economic growth for who? Those few who are wealthy enough to fork over seven hundred thousand dollars for a condo? FUCK THAT. This is war.
From Jessica Valenti's awesome collection of feminist graffiti.
Has anyone ever ordered anything from the online store at Cat and Girl? If so, how long did it take your order to arrive?
City-Data.com lists all of the political contributions made by people in your city. For instance, in my city, I found out that only four donations were made to Democratic/liberal/left-leaning causes in the past year, and that three of them came from the same guy.
I know this is public record already, but still, I found it fascinating. I spent a good twenty minutes looking up people I know and seeing what, if any, political involvement they have.
Bush has admitted to only 30,000 dead Iraqis, after he disputed the methodology that provided us with over half a million fatalities.
Here's a blog entry that illustrates why 30,000 isn't that much better than 655,000.
I am nauseated and I am enraged by the knowledge that our country is responsible for the deaths of over six hundred thousand people.
Ever since I started paying my own taxes, I've become one of those people who complains about it. But not for the reasons you might think - if I knew my money was going to education, social welfare, environmental protection and humanitarian aid, I'd be just fine with that. I understand that taxes are a necessary component of keeping a society like ours running. But instead, when we write out those checks to the IRS I know full well that the bulk of it is going to fight this fucked-up war that is responsible for devastating countless numbers of people. And it makes me want to vomit.
I read a story yesterday that said the latest plan called for keeping us in Iraq until 2010. Another four years of this! Another six hundred thousand people - dead! Another six hundred thousand families - ruined! AND FOR WHAT? I don't feel any safer! Nobody does!
Well, I take that back - the Rethuglican sheeple claim they do. I don't believe them, though - I think it's racism, pure and simple. The entire party platform for the GOP depends on fear to work - fear of gay people, fear of brown people, fear of women, fear of sex, fear of the outside world, fear of TV, fear of popular music, fear of schools. If a certain section of our population didn't feel justified in writing off an entire nation of people as "terrorists" for the egregious crime of being born in Iraq, if they had perhaps spent more than five seconds at a time interacting with someone who wasn't exactly like them, then this would have never have happened.
I don't actually exist.
This woman was unable to gain access to EC, thanks to her slow-dragging gynecologist. She has taken heaps of abuse from fuckwad misogynists and pro-lifers because she dared seek out EC. Now it comes out that she is pregnant, and she will most likely abort the baby.
As I posted this morning the EC failed and I'm currently taking other steps while I gather the money I need to finish this thing once and for all. And you know what? Every time I think about it I refer to this fetus as a 'parasite', a 'tick' and other things I won't even mention. Z expressed frustration and wondered why women would do this and I can answer her question. The answer may not sit well with her, or with anyone else, but nonetheless it is the truth.
I am fucking angry as hell that around every corner I am faced with people who believe that the life of this fetus is worth more than MY life, or the lives of my children.
It becomes a question of how much shit can you take before you begin to actually hate the thing in your womb. Since the start of this I have been told repeatedly that I didn't deserve to live. I had a commenter tell me that if they ever met me they would rape me repeatedly before torturing me and murdering me in the most painful way they could (no, they didn't tell me exactly how they planned to do this, I guess that they wanted me to leave it up to my own imagination).
I have been called a 'filthy cum drinking whore who should do everyone a favor and stop breathing'. I have had emails sent to me in the guise of having helpful tips to cause a miscarriage but which really suggested lethal herbs. I have been given death threats, I have been called a murderer and I can't even count the number of times I've been called a whore or a slut.
Just a few choice excerpts:
you dumb slut
you fucking retard
Ha ha, you're a dirty whore
YOU DESERVED IT, YOU SLUTTY LITTLE WHORE
SHUT YOUR GODDAMN FUCKING MOUTH, CUNT
Your life is fucking worthless you goddamn slut
Please kill yourself now bitch
I hope you feel good about murdering your kid whore
Tough shit slut
You are a disgusting little shit of a woman
If I ever met you I'd fucking kill you like you murdered your baby, fucking whore
Die you fucking slut
Why don't you just kill yourself now. People like you don't deserve to live
Stupid whore. You spread your legs and now you want to murder a baby. I hope you get raped and murdered. Maybe then you'll feel what that innocent life felt
This is a tiny sampling and this was the response I received at taking EC. How much can one person take before they begin to hate the thing inside of them? How many times can you listen to people tell you that you deserve to die, that they want to kill you? Or they want you to kill yourself?
How often can one person hear that a fetus is more important than their own life? Than the lives of their children? How many times can you be reminded that you are, to them at least, a sack of shit and not worthy of even living?
Am I cold hearted about this? You bet your ass I am. I'm angry that my life is apparently worth so little because I had sex. I'm angry that people would literally try to fucking murder me by sending me a list of fatal herbs via a 'helpful' email. And that is to say nothing about the picket lines I will most likely have to cross. That speaks nothing to the shame that this society will attempt to thrust upon me for this situation. It speaks nothing to the anger and rage I feel that the penis which was actually attached to the condom apparently becomes utterly invisible.
I resent this fetus. I resent the fuck out of the fact that something which is 1/16 of an inch long and which looks amazingly like a reptile trumps the life of a woman and her three children. I resent that this glob of cells which is smaller than a wad of snot is clearly valued more than the life of a 34 year old woman who is trying like hell to support her existing kids.
So Z, I can answer your thoughtful question. Some women treat embryo’s like parasites and say the most awful things about them and act in seemingly cruel ways because they're fucking pissed that something that small can be worth so much more than the life they have struggled to build. And you know what? Maybe it's putting our anger into the wrong place, I know that argument could be made, but sometimes, after you've heard one more person tell you that you should die or be murdered you get fed up.
When you see that pregnancy stick you understand that if you're not willing to raise another child for 18 years and you need to get an abortion that you are about to become one of the most reviled and hated segments of society. When I looked at that fucking test and saw it come out positive I fell apart because I knew, in that moment, that I would be facing some of the most violent and horrific people out there. People who want to see me die, people who say the most vile, horrific things imaginable in the name of the 'life' that is inside of me.
Where is that anger going to go? When you know that you're crossing that fucking picket line where those protestors will be screaming the same sort of shit that those commenters did, well....where does the anger go? When you understand that there are those that would fucking KILL you, leaving your existing children to be raised without a mother you start resenting that potential life more than you've ever resented anything before.
I know I do.
I resent that Dubhe was forgotten. I resent that I continue to get emails and hate comments because I took EC. I resent the misogynist language that people are using to describe me. I resent that there are so many that would have me put a gun to my head, or, better yet, they'd do it for me all because I had sex. I resent that something which should be so simple will require me to go to that clinic 4 times and walk through those hateful, nasty protesters over and over again to fix. I resent that while I worry about a fucking clinic bomber the man, who was wearing that condom when it broke, only needs to worry about how he will take time off of work.
I resent that this potential life is given more consideration than any of the lives that will be poorly affected by it. I resent that I need to cough up $450.00 for the fucking abortion pill and that my insurance won't touch it. I resent that I am made to feel like I must explain myself or else face the wrath of the psychos. I resent that the same sort of shame is being forced onto me by this as the shame that was forced onto me when I was raped as a child.
I resent that if I talk to people about it, about my feelings, about my fear and my anxiety that I may very well be the target of death threats, hatred and condemnation.
I resent that so many people would like to see me hide myself because I was awful enough to consent to sex. I resent that this is an issue that, while I need, desire and want to talk to people about, I must hide from everyone because to tell them would mean that I instantly become a 'worthless cum guzzling whore' who deserves to be 'brutally raped before being slaughtered in the most painful way I can think of'.
I resent that something so painful to deal with, something so terrifying and life altering is something that instead of getting support over I am condemned over. Do you know why I haven't posted something long and thoughtful about this? Because I'm tired. I'm fucking tired. I can only be kicked back to the ground so many times before I start thinking that I need to just lay there and stop fighting against it.
I haven't done something about it because I know the hate mail and the hateful, horrible, disgusting comments I will receive. Quite frankly I'm tired. I'm tired of weeding them out and I'm tired of seeing them. How many blows can one woman face before they begin to become angry?
And so what happens is that the malicious and horrible way that women are treated builds up inside until they become angry and resentful. What do you do in the face of such hate? You strike back. You strike back by attacking the thing that they deem to be more important than you. More important than the years you have spent building memories and building security.
Don't think for a moment that there won't be horrific comments and emails sent to me as fallout for this either. Don't fool yourself into believing that it won't happen. It will. It has and it will happen again.
So yeah, I'm angry. I'm pissed as fuck and I resent the hell out of this zygote for having more right to life than I do. I resent it tremendously and I resent that I have to have it in me one more day.
So, to all of you who wonder about the seeming cruelty of women when they speak of aborting in tones of laughter. Try to think about the hatred that they've experienced and understand that it is a tactic intended as a huge "FUCK YOU" to those that would say that the embryo inside of them is more important than their lives and the lives of their children. It's the best they can do to fight back against people who want them dead. People who would seriously murder them.
Yeah, I'm resentful at this circumstance. But perhaps, to those of you who wonder why women are resentful, the more appropriate question would be, why do people feel entitled to strip these same women of all humanity and dignity for the sake of the fetus inside of them?
*sigh*. I know that this post will garner plenty of hate mail but I refuse to be shamed and to those of you who laugh and say I deserve it I say this: When the abortion pill starts working and I expel the parasite from my womb I shall dedicate it to you when I flush the toilet.
And THAT my friends, is a big FUCK YOU to everyone who thinks that this fetus is more important than my, or my children life.
How do I send an email to the people at PostSecret?