American Feminism: Alive and Kicking and Unfortunately, Need Now As Much as Ever

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 6:24 PM EST

If you want to sign Katha Pollit's Open Letter from American Feminists (as at least one commenter does), check out her posting at The Nation. As of a few days ago, she's up to 700.

Need a reason why? Try this: Paraguay's Traffic Hub Imperils Female Teeens, from womensenews.

Ciudad del Este's surrounding Tri Border Area--where Paraguay meets Brazil and Argentina--has over the past five years attracted notoriety as a major hub in international people-trafficking.
Eighty-five percent of trafficking in Paraguay is for sexual exploitation, the International Organization of Migration estimates.
"Women are the victims," says Martha, who doesn't want her name mentioned. She says she has received anonymous death-threats for her anti-trafficking work in Paraguay and the wider region. "More than 90 percent of the victims are women, and more than 90 percent of the exploiters are men."

Or This: In Somalia, Refugee Rape Left to Clan Justice. Also from Womensenews:

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...But the fetid camp where she and her family share the tiny shelter of a generous stranger--a man in his 30s who gave his name as Hassan--is hardly safe, particularly for minorities like her.

"I was very sorry after my wife went out to use the toilet. She was raped by a gang," said Hassan. "I saw and I could not say anything because I would have been killed. You can't try to fight with them with sticks. Unfortunately they have guns. Our wives are being used by them."

Many gangs carry knives in case they come across a girl who has undergone female genital mutilation and then had her vagina stitched nearly shut to safeguard her chastity, a custom of many families here.

A woman is only as safe as her clan is formidable....

The man who raped Amina was charged with robbery and taken to jail for a couple of days. Though a minority himself, the man had been born in Galkayo and had influential relatives, who quickly let the child and her neighbors know they'd best stop talking about rape.

Amina's mother cannot afford to run. Work is scarce for displaced people who live in Galkayo. She still depends on the man who raped her daughter for the dime a day he pays her for the rubbish she collects from the town's roads. She sees him every day.

"When I see him, I cry," she said.

"Elite, out of touch, liberal" feminist that I am, I care about this, will help as best I can while jetting between Paraguay and Somalia and making a living. Most of all, I will vote accordingly.

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