Reflections on Our Countries – April 2018

April 6, 2018


Every month RESURJ members collectively share and reflect on some news highlights affecting sexual and reproductive, environmental and economic justice from the different regions and countries we work in… Canada – Mexico – Pakistan – Rwanda

Women without status fight Canada’s racist immigration system

by Nelly Bassily

Lucy Francineth Granados is one among an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 people living without immigration status in Canada. Lucy, a non-status woman and sole provider for her three children who remain back home in Guatemala, has been living and working in Montreal, Quebec for nine years. In the early morning hours of March 20th, 2018, four Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents descended on Lucy’s home, violently arresting her and injuring her arm. She is now being detained in the CBSA immigration detention center in Laval, Quebec.

After nine years of living in precarity, Lucy filed a humanitarian application for permanent residency in an attempt to regularize her status but, the CBSA arrested her before her file could be studied by Immigration Canada. As a result, Lucy is now facing deportation to Guatemala, a country she fled because she was threatened by the Mara Salvatruchas, one of the most notorious gangs in Central America.

Lucy’s close family and friends say that in immigration detention, she was threatened with violence and psychologically abused. She also complained numerous times that she was having a hard time breathing, and that she couldn’t spend another night in detention as it was having tremendous ill-effect on her physical and mental health.

In detention, Lucy underwent a psychiatric evaluation that concludes that she is suffering from Acute Stress Disorder resulting from her arrest. She is also at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder if there are “ongoing life stressors” such as continued detention and deportation.

The estimates of up to 500,000 non-status/undocumented people living in Canada are in fact much higher. As the organization Women Act explains it in their fact sheet on non-status women in Canada, “People who live without legal status are forced to live underground and work under the table in order to avoid being noticed by the authorities and consequently deported.” Which puts non-status people in a precarious state of constant physical, psychological, emotional and financial stress and vulnerability.

This excerpt is from an article published on the South Feminist Voices blog. To read the full article, click here.

2018, a very complicated and confusing election year in Mexico

by Oriana López Uribe

This year, Mexico will experience the largest election in the history of our country. We will vote for a president, for members of both federal chambers; in some states for members of local chambers,and also for governor; and many other local administration members. It sounds like a great opportunity to change the country for good, however the problems are the options we are presented with.

In this election, we can no longer determine who is from a left party, and who is not. Alliances have blurred ideologies.

PAN (the traditionally conservative right wing party) and PRD (the traditionally kind-of-progressive left winged party) have an alliance, in which, of course, the candidate being put forward, is the conservative one. And Morena, the new left wing party, has an alliance with PES an evangelical, neoliberal, pro-Israel, right wing party. Even though the candidate is the leader of Morena (AMLO), he has expressed that abortion and equal marriage are not relevant issues for the country.

In this awful scenario of power games and contradictions, politicians like Mikel Arriola, running for mayor of Mexico City, are openly portraying how misogynistic, homophobic and machist they really are. This could be due to the influence of the current president of the US, and the shameless expressions and decisions he has made in the same tone, making  them feel as empowered to be as *^>%&* as he is.

Lastly, Margarita Zavala, independent candidate for president, is known for her conservatism and her position against women’s rights ever since her husband was president, so it will come as no surprise that she said “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman”.

What this means is that we need to be very careful in not voting, as some usually do, with closed eyes for the party that you thought had your interests at heart. With all these alliances, it is clear that they want to get elected no matter how. But, it is not about defending an ideology, it is not about making this country a better one, it is not even about changing the game but rather, it is about getting in power, for the sake of power itself. We must be diligent.

Advancing Trans Rights in Pakistan

by Sheena Hadi

In line with the contradictory nature of Pakistan’s public persona, the conservative nation once again made headlines by having the first trans newscaster debut on March 23rd, during Pakistan Day. The newscaster, Marvia Malik, who has openly spoken out about trans rights and the need to see transgender as “ordinary citizens” instead of a “third-gender”, commented on the importance of being able to raise awareness about trans rights through her public platform. Malik has also recounted the challenges she faced socially, including being abandoned by her family and prejudice from classmates at Punjab University, where she studied journalism. Malik’s appointment follows shortly after Kami Sid made headlines in the fashion world by becoming the first trans model in Pakistan to frequently be seen in runway shows and magazines.

The trans rights movement has slowly gained momentum in Pakistan picking up speed after a 25-year-old trans woman named Alisha died from gunshot wounds, due to a lack of appropriate hospital care in 2016. Earlier this month, the Senate passed the Criminal Law amendment bill on the Protection of Rights of Transgender Persons (2017), which criminalizes a range of discriminatory and violent offences against transgender persons. In 2017, the government also approved the addition of a third gender in national passports, which many trans activists felt was a significant win not only in the fight to claim their rights, but also to enable greater international movement for the community.

However, as Farzana Jan, president of Trans Action Pakistan, has stated, “The main challenge for us is to change society’s behavior. We have largely been confined to the four walls of our houses because we are harassed, terrorized and ridiculed by the people.” The introduction of more public figures like Malik and Sid who can challenge social perceptions is therefore perhaps the most critical step in advancing trans rights. As Sid has said, “I know how to break stereotypes, darling. I became a model; tomorrow I’ll become a mum. People think we’re just sex workers or beggars or dancers. After modelling, I’ve said we can become anything – doctors, engineers, teachers. We just need a platform.”

A Dangerous Trend of “Ifs and Buts” on Human Rights in Rwanda

by Chantal Umuhoza

Rwanda plans to throw “rights” under the bus in the new National Sexual and Reproductive Health strategy.

The recent rise of conservatism is not a myth, but a reality.  In different national, regional and global spaces and contexts, decades of progress that have been made to uphold all Human Rights are being reversed, and commitments that were made, are being broken.

This was evident at a recent validation meeting of Rwanda’s Family Planning, Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights strategy 2018-2024 (FP/ASRHR), on the 20th of March 2018, where a government official informed participants that “language on rights” will be stripped from the whole document. The participants, including development partners, civil society organizations and different government agencies, found this to be odd as there was no room for debate on the deletion of human rights references from the entire strategy.

This is not surprising given the trend of long held, as well as emerging positions of most African states in higher level policy negotiations, where they have expressed reservations and have often been outspoken against the inclusion of language on Human Rights in United Nations and African Union policy documents. However, it is surprising for a country like Rwanda, that has positioned itself as a progressive country and Gender champion, to take such a position openly.  The argument that is used, which often leads to increased opposition to Human Rights and Human Rights language, is that some rights are “problematic”, are ‘UnAfrican”, and that they contradict some values and traditions.

This excerpt is from an article published on the South Feminist Voices blog. To read the full article, click here.