Yesterday was International Domestic Workers Day, and you don’t have to look very far to find hardworking domestic workers facing exploitation and in need of your support. In America, labor law excludes domestic workers from basic protections, like the right to sick days, overtime pay, or notice of termination. The nannies and nurses who take care of our children, our sick, our elderly should hold a respected position in our society — in our families too — but instead they’re often underpaid and overworked. It’s all up to the whim of the employer whether they’re treated fairly.
But California domestic workers say: no more. Stephanie Hallett at Ms. Magazine’s blog reports that a rally yesterday called for the passage of a state bill that could change all this for them: a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This move has precedent in New York’s decision last year to pass their own DWBOR, which came about after years of effort by organizations like like Domestic Workers United and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who are also involved in the California push.
Bei Bei Shuai currently languishes in jail without the opportunity to even post bail. Her crime? Being deeply depressed and attempting to commit suicide.
But for anti-choicers in Indiana, where Shaui lives, what’s important isn’t this woman’s mental or physical health. They’re not disturbed that Shaui found herself so unable to cope with life that she swallowed rat poison, a slow and agonizing way of dying, or looking to help her get better since she survived after the intervention of friends. No, instead they want to toss in jail. Because Bei Bei Shaui was pregnant at the time, and after the failed suicide attempt, a c-section was performed on her — and a few days later, the premature baby delivered died.
As Robin Marty writes on RH Reality Check, in arresting and charging Shaui, “the state has just declared that any pregnant woman who is hurt in any way that could be seen as self-inflicted could be charge as a potential self-aborter and murderer.” Obviously, charging a pregnant woman with murder for either a self-induced miscarriage or premature delivery sets a dangerous precedent for women’s bodily rights.
Of course, there’s no evidence that we’ve seen that Shaui’s desire was to self-induce an abortion — the evidence perhaps only exists in the minds of anti-choice prosecutors. (Not that this should really matter, since, again, a woman’s body should still be her own.) The willingness to set such a precedent shows a callous disregard for individuals suffering from a mental condition. This is a tragic story, but Shaui certainly isn’t getting the help she needs while locked in jail, either for the initial depression or grief over the death of her prematurely delivered baby. And the I wonder where the justification for refusing bail lies — this disturbed woman hardly poses a danger to society. She wasn’t looking to harm anybody else, only, sadly, herself.
A huge milestone in the campaign for justice for Recy Taylor today: the Alabama State House passed an apology for authorities’ mishandling of the African-American woman’s 1944 gang-rape. This comes after over 16,000 Change.org members signed a petition run by Taylor’s brother, Robert Corbitt, asking for an official apology from the city of Abbeville and state of Alabama. And we’re closing in on our goals. “Change[.org] really made a change,” Corbitt said.
The resolution (HJR194), introduced by Democratic State Rep. Dexter Grimsley, an Abbeville native himself, offered now 91-year-old Taylor “deepest sympathies and solemn regrets” from the state for the travesty of justice that occurred when she was a young woman. The strongly-worded legislation further denounces the fact that the admitted perpetrators got off without even having to face trial as “morally abhorrent and repugnant.” In addition to covering up the assault, law enforcement at the time smeared Taylor’s reputation and were caught blatantly lying in order to discredit her.
Twenty-year-old Tiawanda Moore went to Chicago Police Headquarters to report being fondled by an officer. But Internal Affairs didn’t want to take her complaint. After asking for new investigators and being refused, Moore turned on her Blackberry recorder to document this second instance of police misconduct. When the investigators realized they were being taped, they promptly arrested Moore for eavesdropping, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 15 years.
Meanwhile, as Moore awaits trial in May, no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer who groped her. (Not to mention the officers who refused to accept her complaint. Moore’s lawyer, Robert Johnson, reports that officials “claim the investigation is not completed” — even though it’s been over half-a-year since Moore attempted to make her complaint. As the “investigation” drags on for no apparent reason, the police officer has not been temporarily suspended, and is free to continue assaulting and harassing other women.
The Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women has taken up Tiawanda Moore’s cause and launched a petition on her behalf on Change.org, calling for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to drop the eavesdropping charges and for the police sexual misconduct investigation to be undertaken in a timely manner.
On Tuesday, Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock and Alabama State Rep. Dexter Grimsley held a press conference in front of members of Recy Taylor’s family and offered personal apologies for her 1944 gang-rape and the failure to investigate or bring the perpetrators to justice. In addition, Rep. Grimsley — an Abbeville native himself — has vowed to introduce a resolution for an apology in the Alabama House, to bring about the formal recognition now Recy deserves. This is excellent progress, so keep the pressure up!
In an article by Ben Greenberg in Colorlines, Rep. Grimsley credits the Change.org petition, which now has over 14,000 signatures, with influencing his interest in Recy’s case. Danielle McGuire book, At the Dark End of the Street, was the first work to bring the case back to light. As a young African-American woman during the Jim Crow era, when Recy was gang-raped by a group of white men who admitted to the assault, racist law enforcement made certain none of those men (now all deceased except perhaps one) would ever see trial. Now 91, Recy has a final desire for some justice in the form of an apology from the city of Abbeville and state of Alabama. “I think more people should know about it … but ain’t nobody saying nothing,” Recy says. The petition on Change.org, sponsored by Recy’s brother, Robert Corbitt, is asking Alabama officials to fulfill her wish.
Over a year ago, I wrote about a law in Louisiana that treats oral and anal sex as felony “crimes against nature.” It’s a vestige of extreme homophobia that has been mainly struck down by the Supreme Court, but the law remained on the books and serves a new purpose: putting sex workers behind bars as felony sex offenders. It’s oh-so-tricky: it’s not the actual act of oral or anal sex that’s illegal now, it’s the solicitation of that comes with significantly higher penalties than only offering to sell plain ol’ vanilla sex, which does not qualify as a felony sex offense.
Jordan Flaherty at Colorlines, who first brought the story to national attention, has followed up with a heartening recent development: a coalition of civil rights advocates, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, have launched a lawsuit against the discriminatory law. Their plaintiffs include transgender individuals (who are disproportionately targeted, along with women of color and gay men), a mother of four, and a grandma.
After igniting a firestorm of controversy earlier this week with his suggestion that immigrants should be shot like wild hogs, Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck has been pressured into standing up on camera to offer a public apology for his deeply offensive remarks:
CNN reports his statement to their cameras: “I’m Virgil Peck, and on Monday, I made an inappropriate comment. For that, I’m sorry, and I apologize to anyone that I offended with my inappropriate comment. I’ll be more careful with my words in the future.”
When Peck’s comment first stirred up outrage, he brushed it off as no big deal. Questioned about by a reporter, Peck dubbed it “humor” and branded the controversy “over.” But since he deemed it “over,” more than 3,000 Change.org members have sent emails demanded a real public apology for his actions, joined in their call by bloggers and advocates concerned with immigrant human rights.
Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck couldn’t have been more wrong when he stated that the controversy over his suggestion that we shoot immigrants from helicopters like wild pigs was “over.” Since that statement, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and House Republican leadership squeezed a grudging pseudo-apology out of Peck (R-Tyro), but immigrant rights advocates (and decent human beings across the country) want him to say it like he means it — in public.
The entire text of Peck’s reluctant “apology”: “My statements yesterday were regrettable. Please accept my apology.” As Lawrence O’Donnell puts it in the clip below, “Apology not accepted.” O’Donnell continues, “Some apologies require more than a piece of paper. Getting most apologies accepted usually requires that you somewhere use the words ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I apologize.'” Though Kansas Republican House Leadership would like to dub this apology “sincere,” it’s clear to anybody paying attention that Peck doesn’t even care enough to pretend he feels bad.
Victory: Over 4000 Change.org members signed the petition demanding a public apolgy from Rep. Peck — and you won!
File this under “atrocious statement of the month”: Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro) piped up during a debate about feral swine control funding with a suggestion as unrelated as it was offensive to murder undocumented immigrants. “It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem,” Peck declared to gasps from the audience and fellow lawmakers.
Rep. Peck is not sorry. He was just making a funny, after all. Because nothing spells humor quite like advocating the murder of hardworking mothers, fathers, and children. Especially when you get to compare them to wild pigs at the same time! Ho ho ho, ha ha ha … eh.
Five months ago, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledges marched around Yale’s first-year dorms chanting: “No means yes, yes means anal!” They also shouted “sluts” a bunch and recited ditties about fucking dead women for good measure. This disturbing display of support for rape caused an outcry among Yale students and alumni, not to mention horrifying major segments of the population beyond those ivy-covered walls, including 4,500 Change.org members who took action. This month, the university finally pledged to take concrete steps against campus rape culture.
A campus task force created in response to this incident has released a report laying out what needs to be done to fix a culture where advocating rape seems like a laugh. According to an email from Dean Mary Miller to the Yale community, reprinted by Jezebel, the administration has already begun to implement these necessary recommendations: first-year orientation will feature a beefed-up education program, student organizations will be required to have officers trained in identifying and addressing sexual assault, and a University Committee on Sexual Misconduct will be created.