Articles Tagged ‘activism - Sayoni’

The Activist’s Dilemma

The recent hoo-haa surrounding MM Lee’s statements on homosexuality has ruffled my feathers and poked at the idealist in me. It was heartening to see so many others rise up and stand up for who they are, by writing into forums, newspapers to defend themselves and others.

It’s for the future, or so we say.

We spend our time and effort and our brain cells into mounting a suitable defense against the homophobes, against the naysayers. Furiously spending hours crafting that perfect rebuttal, hoping, with whatever slim chance there is’ that it’ll be published in the papers.

But is it enough?

Advancing Our Rights in ASEAN

ACSC APF 2014
[Photo by Rainbow Rights Project]


Sayoni is participating in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference, or ASEAN People’s Forum, again this year – this time in Yangon, Myanmar. It’s a huge civil society gathering, larger than before, with some putting the numbers at 1800 activists from all over ASEAN.

In the words of ACSC/APF,

http://aseanpeople.org/about

Every year before the ASEAN Summit, a conference known as the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) is held independently, paralleled to the official ASEAN Summit. Myanmar’s bid for the rotating ASEAN chair was granted, so it is responsible as well to host the ASEAN People’s Forum where hundreds of civil society actors from the ASEAN region will gather to represent voices of civil societies.

This year’s theme is “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity towards Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratization and address issues around Peace; Justice and Human Rights; Development and Democratization; and ASEAN.”


Concerns at UN Review of Singapore's Gender Equality

AWARE, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.), Sayoni and the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) express concerns at the UN review of Singapore’s gender equality.

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From left: Vanessa Ho from Sayoni, IWRAW intern Kari Rotkin, Malathi Das from SCWO, Braema Mathi from AWARE, Jean Chong from Sayoni, Nadzirah Samsudin from AWARE, Kelly Then from Sayoni, and Laura Hwang from SCWO

 

1. Gender equality experts from the CEDAW Committee asked more than 100 questions during an intense, five-hour Constructive Dialogue with Singapore’s State delegation at the 49th CEDAW session on 22 July 2011, in the New York headquarters of the United Nations.

Hiding Behind Rhetoric: A Rebuttal of Thio Li-Ann

Dear Ms Thio

I am not as learned as you in law. I am but a first-year law student. A law student who happens to identify as queer, and has spent the last two years working in the queer activism scene, who now loves a woman, who now wishes to rid this country of the blight known as section 377A.

Ms Thio, I am sure you know this section very well… in fact, you dedicated an entire speech to the impassioned defence of it, not even touching on things like marital rape immunity. I am surprised… I thought an educated, feminist woman like yourself would have some feelings on this section which effectively takes away the right of married women to their bodies…. but I digress. You expounded in detail upon the merits of retaining this law. You showed us all how much you hate us gay people – like we couldn’t tell from the letters to ST. When I read your speech, my first impulse was to laugh. Then as I read on, cringing at the leaps of logic, and wincing at the palpable hatred pouring out of the paper.

I will now proceed to rebutt you: point by point.

 

MHA Women’s Focus Group Discussion on Penal Code Amendments (Singapore)

Last Thursday, gathering my Sayoni mates and a whole lot of courage, I went to the MHA Focus Discussion Group for women. Coincidentally, or maybe not, it was held at Ang Mo Kio Grassroots Club, right in the bastion of the PM.

Upon registeration at the welcome-desk, one of our members refused to give our IC as identification, which caused some amount of confusion for the desk-helpers. Apparently, no one had ever tried to hold on their privacy before]. She was eventually allowed to pass. We went inside, and waited for quite a long time for the event to start, even though we had arrived after seven. During this time, we went through the amendments like we were mugging last-minute for an examination.

Finally, people started coming in. AWARE members took up at least half the audience, and the rest was made up of Sayoni women and private citizens. Two girls, one of whom we recognised to be a PSC/President's scholar, started the event by welcoming everyone, and reading out the entire amendment in, all 8 pages of it, in flat tones. Before I zoned out, I noticed one comment on the powerpoint presentation: they explicitly stated that lesbian sex would not be criminalised. And the speaker added a comment that this was 'so as not to give the impression that we are regressive in the area'. We could only look at each in confused incredulity, aware of the glaring contradiction as 377A was still in place.

Playing Parts, Women's Parts: A Review of The Vagina Monologues

This post is by guest writer Jennifer Koh, about the activist reading of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues presented by Etiquette and Sayoni at The Arts House on 10 May 2013.

 

The Vagina Monologues


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one [wo]man in [her] time plays many parts [...]

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It (Act II, Scene vii)


How many names do we have for the vagina? Thirty-nine at my last count, according to the rendition of The Vagina Monologues presented by Etiquetteand Sayoni, staged at The Arts House on 10 May 2013.

This was a community reading that brought together 16 women of different ethnicities, sexual orientations and occupational backgrounds, all of whom are active in civil society, to stand in solidarity as part of V-Day 2013, an annual global campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence and raise funds for local beneficiaries whose work addresses gender-based issues.

Silent Protest at EEAS Human Rights Seminar

And this is what happened at the actual event, a day after the civil society statement. Thio Li-Ann, law professor and anti-gay rights crusader, was there to speak on the topic of international human rights law.

 

 

Activists stood in front of the stage with their placards and taped-up mouths, while two others positioned themselves with a rainbow flag in Thio's line of sight. Notably, they kept their silence, and their protest carried on alongside Thio's speech.

 

Statement of the Asian LBTQ Caucus – 8 December 2017 – Phnom Penh

asian lbtq caucus statement

Sayoni was pleased to announce the successful Asian LBTQ Caucus consultation on 8 December 2017 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Along with ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Justice for Sisters, UN Women Asia Pacific, we facilitated a 2 day session on lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s issues from 4-5 December 2017, ahead of the ILGA Asia 2017 conference.

 

An estimated 60 participants joined in the discussions, personal story sharing, queer movement history mappings, and the distillation of key issues and concerns for lesbian, bisexual, trans women, trans men and queer (LBTQ) persons. Activists came from across Asia, including from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The LBTQ Caucus was a first of its kind in Asia and took place due to the demands of LBTQ activists to address the consistent marginalization of LBQ women’s visibility and leadership within the wider movements for LGBTIQ+ human rights.

 

A collaborative statement was written to highlight core concerns and eleven recommendations on how to move forward towards strengthening movements for LBTQ rights across the region.

 

Statement of the Asian LBTQ CAUCUS*

 

8 December 2017 | Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Lesbian, bisexual, trans women, trans men, and queer persons (LBTQ) exist in all of human diversity. Our issues and concerns cut across diverse groups and communities, including other marginalized groups such as people with disabilities, refugees, migrant workers, and indigenous peoples.

 

LBTQ persons experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in multiple spaces based on our assigned, actual, or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). We face arbitrary persecution, socio-economic marginalization, and violation of our self-determination, sexual autonomy, and bodily integrity because of our SOGIESC. Our experiences are often invisible, silenced, and unaddressed.

 

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