Sex Workers Need Rights Not Rescue!

imageDecember 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From a feminist and also a trade unionist perspective, I know supporting Sex Workers’ Rights is the logical thing to do.

As I wrote in my blog post ‘Organising Sex Workers Within Mainstream Labour Movement’,  the stigmatization and consequent exploitation of sex workers would be minimized if sex work is accorded its recognition as a bonafide job; a real job which has its challenges, rights and protections under the law like every other job. Criminalization of sex-work in many countries and jurisdictions makes it difficult to create a safe, enabling environment and workplace for sex workers.

The continued criminalization of sex-work, rather than serves as a deterrent has only succeeded in exposing sex workers to violence, intimidation, harassment and exploitation. [Read more…]

THEY SAY IT IS CULTURE, I SAY IT IS TORTURE!

They say it is culturetag3

I say it is torture

Born a woman, a reason to be oppressed

It is culture, a woman must be suppressed

I must never be too forward

They will only drag me backward

As a woman I must learn to be submissive

For a man has the power to be dismissive

To be accepted

I must be subjected!

 

Different meals I must prepare

That’s what makes me special

They say teas I must make [Read more…]

8 year old Yemeni girl died on wedding night and Of Nigerian Child-Brides Apologists

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It was reported that a young girl in Yemen had died after having sexual relations with a 40-year-old man who became her husband in an arranged marriage. The 8-year-old was identified as “Rawan” and died from torn genitals and severe bleeding in the northwest city of Hardh.

 Some media reported that the practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and has attracted the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.

 Human Rights Watch reports that 14% of girls in Yemen are married before age 15, with 82% married before they are 18.

 It is said that Yemen’s gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to ‘bride-prices’ that can be hundreds of dollars for their daughters.

 Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation. [Read more…]

50 Shades Of Abuse: Ese Walter, Pastor Fatoyinbo, Coza and God

The scandal rocking Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) has brought to light another shade of abuse that goes on everyday; the constant abuse of authority by influential men who prey on impressionable women.

It is sad that once again, a victim of abuse is being blamed for the crime of the abuser. Sexual abuse is not only about violent rape, it could ensue through getting consent via emotional blackmail, psychological manipulations and the abuse of authority. [Read more…]

Pope won’t judge gays who share something in common with him: The Lord and Expensive Fabrics!

557878_702713299754730_334537535_nWell, the man in the stylish cape, silly hat and all that expensive fabrics says he won’t judge gays. How so cute!

Pope Francis magnanimously announced that:

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?

This news has been heartily welcomed in the LGBT community. Many now flash the statement like a sort of ‘divine’ approval of their sexual orientation and armor in their LGBT Equal Rights campaign.  Even I might just flash the quote at the next catholic who  rants about how gays, bisexuals and Trans are all going to hell, but isn’t that really the position of their Pope? [Read more…]

Senator Pedophile Sani Yerima, Bishop David Oyedepo and guilty Nigerians, She is a: #ChildNotBride, #ChildNotWitch, #ChildNotHouseGirl!

Nigerians have suddenly woken up to the ills of child abuse because of an obscure part of the constitution. While we are all getting self righteous and indignant about children’s rights, let us also look at ways we are guilty of perpetrating child abuse. After all Child abuse comes in different colours, shapes  and sizes.

Religion and child abuse: 

Rape is never funny and pedophilia is nothing to joke about. It sure baffles me how people who condemn rape, who would normally freak out at the thought of a 54 year old man raping a 9 year old girl, could still praise and worship a pedophile prophet who did exactly that!

It seems being a catholic priest or an Islam prophet is a shield from being scorned at as a rapist and pedophile. And now, you can add being a Nigerian Senator or diligent follower of the Islamic faith to the list.  Why the double standard?  Even when dead, pedophiles graves should be spit on not worshiped in holy pilgrimages! [Read more…]

On S29(4)b and the #ChildNotBride saga: Let’s get the facts right

It was one of those days when everything hits you at once. I was physically, intellectually, emotionally and politically tired.  I decided chldnotbrideto check my mails to take my mind off ‘issues’ but instead of some funny cat meme, the headline ‘Nigerian Senate Okays Child Marriage’ jumped at me. I screamed “Whaaatttt?” I clicked on the link to read the report and just out of nowhere I started laughing. Yeah, that was actually my first reaction, it was my first laugh of the day, actually my first laughter in days, I laughed so hard and it was very fulfilling. Now, you might wonder what was so funny about child marriage.  Honestly, nothing. Child marriage is simply child abuse and there is nothing funny about child abuse.  It was the report that gave me a lot to laugh at. Remember I said this was a day everything seemed out of my control and I was almost at a breaking point. I guess stress has a funny bone sometimes.

The news was about the dramatic proceedings in the Senate on Tuesday 16th July, 2013. The report stated:

The voting in the Senate, which lasted for about five hours, also witnessed the adoption of Section 9 of the draft bill of the amendment, which empowers the National Assembly to make an entirely new constitution for the country.

The senators also adopted Section 3A of the draft, which rejected the president’s assent to the amended constitution before taking effect.

Make new constitution for the country? Take away the power of the president to assent the constitution? I smell trouble here, the kinda trouble I would enjoy watching.  Power is hardly ever easily relinquished. Politicians will kick up a storm whenever their rivals propose to hack their powers. I eagerly await the drama that will definitely ensue.

The report further stated that the senators rejected autonomy for Local Governments, refused the proposal to make the office of the Attorney General of the Federation independent of the Minister of Justice and managed to end the day by  somehow ‘Okaying’ child marriage.

Hmm, my reaction was this laughter that went on uncontrollably for minutes. I was already picturing the president heaping abuses on the senators for daring to even suggest taking away his presidential power of assent. Also,picture the screaming Local government chairmen (well they are almost all men anyway and i am tired of complaining about the persistent use of ‘Chairman’ when it should have been changed to gender neutral ‘Chairperson’, even the few women ‘chairmen’ reject the ‘Chairperson’ tag, so much for girl power!) [Read more…]

Because I Am A Girl

Trembling she holds her tummytag3

Knowing this fourth baby coming

Will be her making or breaking

She moans, her world hanging

Groaning she strains

Not just from labour pains

With one more push, I came panting

With just a look, she screamed fainting

A reprieve from the moment of truth

Husband in-laws with new wife struts

Buckle up; it’s going to be a rough ride

Because I am a girl

 

In the kitchen I am taught to cook

While the boys read from the books [Read more…]

Stop telling black women what to do with their hair or skin!

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A woman’s body seems to be the one thing everyone wants to control. Country, religion or even gender is not a barrier, everyone wants to tell a woman what to do with her body and that include her fellow women.  No surprise there, even ‘gods’ seems obsessed with women, but really what is this growing trend amongst women who should know better, telling other women what to do with their hair and/or skin? Why are many black women focused on controlling other sisters’ bodies, hairs and skins? What is all this talk about black African women accusing other black sisters of not being African enough because of their choice of hair style or body cream?

Since the craze for Brazilian weaves, Chinese weaves and even human hair amongst black African women, with a large demand from Nigerian women, many African men and some women have come out to condemn this as a sign of inferiority complex. It is becoming mundane to come across yet another post from fellow women and some self-styled ‘Real Africans’, questioning the choice of black women who use chemicals on their hair or skin. [Read more…]

Rachel Jeantel is not on trial: Judging her accent is a show of your ignorance not hers.

What a sad society we live in with people valuing appearances more than content. Hypocrites who in their own actions and judgments are no less racist than Zimmerman who shot a black boy because he thought his black skin did not belong in his precious white neigbourhood. Now, those racists think Rachel Jeantel’s accent and mannerisms do not belong in their posh court.

Rachel Jeantel was herself in the courtroom when she bravely stood up to testify as a crucial witness in the court. Even though It was not a spotlight she wanted, it was not a scenario she hoped for, it was not even a publicity she embraced, yet she did her duty and stood up in that courtroom to ensure justice or at least the semblance of justice for a friend whose life was cut short by the bullet of someone who felt ‘threatened’ by his skin colour. Rachel Jeantel has every right to be herself in that courtroom. 171552081

And shame to all the self loathing blacks who says she gives a black woman a bad name. Her accent, her weight, her mannerisms, her skin or hair is not what is on trial; it is the murderer of her friend that is on trial.  You should be ashamed of yourself for being diverted by such trivial as her weight or accent which btw is none of your business.

Unfortunately some black people don’t get it too. The fact that she does not speak perfect English in a ‘polish’ accent does not make her a bad representation of Black American women. I have not watched her court testimony in full, but nothing, absolutely nothing justifies the terrible image many including some blacks are painting of her just because they think she exemplifies the stereotypical Black “hood rat”.

This 18 year old young woman should not be expected to suddenly transform into another person just because she is taking the witness stand to testify in the murder case of her 17 year old black friend Trayvon Martin, who was murdered by a racist. [Read more…]

I Am Reaching, Reaching For The Stars

reaching for the skiesI am reaching, reaching for the stars

Though I bear the brunt of the scars

I spread my wings for a flying spree

This cage I will break to set me free

Although the sky looks scary and vast

I will explore with bravery and a blast

So long my wings were clipped

Now I will fly even if I slipped

Bowed down by years of misery

Now tis time to show my mystery [Read more…]

Organising Sex Workers Within Mainstream Labour Movement

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The controversy of whether “sex work” can be defined and treated as real work or not is one that evokes a lot of emotion and sentiments. This is not surprising because the answer to this will determine whether or not this area of “Work” deserves to be acknowledged and given as much legal and social protection and recognition as any other type of work recognized under the auspice of labour laws.

It cannot be denied that “sex workers”, like them or hate them, provide a service. Since prostitution is commonly refersex-workers-rightsred to as the oldest profession, sex work is a service as old as humankind. With the advent of globalization, internet dating, chat rooms, cyber-sex etc, the world’s touted oldest profession has not been left behind in modernizing its trade and services to keep up with the ever changing technology; dynamism is indeed the name of the game. In today’s world, a sex worker is no longer just the woman in skimpy red dress and high heels, lurking at street corners in the middle of the night looking for a customer. Sex workers now include prostitutes, porn actors and actresses, chat room/telephone sex providers, escorts, gigolos etc.

However, like all work, especially in this era of neo–globalization and privatisation of anything that generate profits, prostitutes in many cases do not own their bodies anymore, many are not really in a position to negotiate the prices for their services. The big lords, hotel owners, club owners, chat room owners, internet warlords are now the real employer of sex workers’ labour. The money bags have the money to run the business, employ women and in a growing number of cases men too, to render sexual services, they act as the sub contractors, in fact, it is just another stage of pimping. [Read more…]

Free Amina Tyler NOW: It is her body, her choice, her right!

Few months ago, Amina Tyler, a Tunisian woman, posted two photos of herself topless on Facebook.Amina-Tyler

The first image showed Amina with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest.

The second image has the words “My body belongs to me and is not the source of anyone’s honor” written in Arabic.

Since that episode, she has been hounded by Islamist conservatives who felt she has violated their honour by posting nude pictures of herself.

Whose body, whose honour?

After months of reportedly going into hiding, the outspoken Tunisian feminist who sparked a trend of “topless jihad” has been found and arrested by Tunisian authorities earlier this week and may be charged for conducting “provocative acts.”

What part of “My body belongs to me” don’t these idiots understand? If a woman wants to post nude pictures of herself on the internet, it is her body, her choice, her right. It has nothing to do with your moronic honour. FREE AMINA TYLER NOW!

This is my body; I have the right to do whatever I want with it. If I am not harming you, the decisions have nothing to do with you.

I have the right to post nude pictures of myself online. I have the right to use my body as a canvass, tattoo it or pierce it.

 

This is my body, I have the right to birth control, to abortion, to have sex with consensual adults regardless of their gender. I do not have to put up with your sermonizing or attempts to legislate over my body. [Read more…]

Accents and the Tragedy of Self-Hate

I recently started Video blogging and with it came the barrage of opinionated comments on my looks, appearance and quite interestingly, my accent! YEMMY IN JAPAN

I have never been self conscious about my accent.  I started making guest appearances on National TV programs almost two decades ago as a young human rights activist and vocal feminist. I remember the first time I appeared on one of the ‘posh’ Women’s programs which at the time passed as a ‘feminist’ TV show, I was immediately approached after the show by the popular presenter who told me, “Yemisi, you were really brilliant on the show, it would be great if we could get you to lose the accent”. Well, it happened that the presenter also ran a ‘Finishing school’ for girls … hmm do not ask me why a “feminist’ TV show presenter had a “Finishing school for girls’’… well, this is Nigeria we are talking about, and feminism, like many assumed “imported” ideology comes with its colonial baggage!

Anyway, she was so impressed with myyemy ituc points but not so impressed with my accent that she offered me a free session in her ‘Finishing school’ to get rid of my accent. I remember asking her why I would want to be rid of my accent. I mean, I wasn’t self conscious about my accent, especially since Nigeria is a diverse country with many local dialects and accent is one of the ways you immediately identify where a person is from.  Well, the young me was told that getting rid of my accent would be great for my profile, I declined her ‘priceless’ offer and  insisted that  I’d rather keep my accent as it is an integral part of my identity.

That was almost two decades ago. I have since gone ahead to speak at many national and international events, sometimes with heads of states and diplomats present. I have made a few speeches at UN meetings, appeared on a live televised round table debate with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and some other world leaders, but I never for a minute felt self conscious about my accent, and well, my audience never really complained and they mostly seemed to appreciate what I had to say. Shows you should choose your audience well! [Read more…]

I AM A WOMAN AND I AM WEEPING!

I am a woman and I am weepingSDC11524

The tears won’t stop seeping

Like a river it keeps flowing

At my heart it tugs, nipping

My eyes are bleeding

My nose keeps running

They say I should slow it

But all they do is blow it

Teardrops just like crystals

Not mine alone but all sisters!

 

I am a woman and I am weeping

On my feet I keep thinking

The dreams I have to maintain

The tears I cannot curtail

From day to night I toil

In the fields I till the soil

Bent over with hands, this I can bear

Hoping my behind I won’t have to bare

For the children and the aged I have to care

The burdens sometimes leave me bare!

 

I am a woman and I am weeping

In the boardroom I am seething

They negotiate my seat

As I take in all the heat

It matters not that I have the brains

The body is what they want to drain

With my pen poised I stand on the stool

But they tell me brain is not the tool

As all they want is my body to drool

And for me to play the fool!

 

I am a woman and I am weeping

From the corners I am peeping

Paving the streets in my high heels

Hoping the deals I can now seal

My health and safety is at risk

But the children can’t eat sticks

In the boardroom, on the street

It matters not where I sit

My brain makes me an expert

But all they want is a Sexpert!

 Yemisi Ilesanmi speaking at the London 2010  July Pride

I am a woman and I am weeping

I fight the system but hope is fleeting

The streets I keep combing

While my heart keep sobbing

How long shall I be suppressed

Now they say I am depressed

I do not need a mental operation

What I hate is this oppression

You can keep your psychiatry

While I kick your patriarchy!

 BY © YEMISI ILESANMI