Wednesday, January 20, 2010

portrait series : survivors

belen, amnesty international domestic violence spokesperson

linda, linda loaiza foundation-caracas, venezuela


international reportage for the new statesman/look magazine
mil gracias to all of the incredible women who contributed their story to this project.

exerpts from The New Statesman/Amy Stillman:

In cases of rape or domestic violence, justice is not easily won in Venezuela, a country where violence against women is widespread: last year the Venezuelan daily newspaper Diario Vea reported that five women are killed each week in gender-related violent incidents, and it is estimated that every 15 minutes at least one Venezuelan woman is attacked.

In March 2007, the government's Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence came into effect; it defines 19 forms of violence against women, including psychological abuse. The law has won praise from women's rights campaigners, but they say that the government has not provided enough resources for implementing it. According to data taken from the Venezuelan Observatory for the Human Rights of Women, only 4 per cent of cases of violence against women have been prosecuted since the law was passed.

Even in the event of prosecution, women rarely receive justice.
Venezuela's poor record on violence against women is not exceptional in the region: up to 40 per cent of women in Latin America and the Caribbean are physically or sexually abused at some point during their lifetime. But what sets Venezuela apart is that its leader is a self-proclaimed feminist.

Hugo Chávez calls for the empowerment of women through his socialist political project the Bolivarian Revolution. At the World Social Forum in January 2009 he announced that "true socialism is feminist". But women's rights groups say that the government is dragging its feet on the issue of violence against women. “If the president is really feminist, he should be investing in improving the system for women to access justice," says Sonia Obregón from the UN Development Fund in Venezuela.

A huge problem is the lack of training for police; domestic violence is not taken seriously because it is viewed as a private matter between husband and wife. "When we tell women to go to the police they often say, 'For what? If I go to the police my husband will know that and he will hit me again in a worse way,'" explains María Sierra from Unifem, the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

Only 10 per cent of women report cases of domestic violence, according to local NGOs.

Overall, violence in Venezuela has reached unprecedented levels. The country has the highest homicide rate in Latin America, with more than 14,700 murders committed in 2008, and an estimated 19,000 in 2009, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, an academic think tank. “Violence against women has increased, and the reason is simple," says Roberto Briceño León, the group's head. "There is an increase in violent behaviour in general, and a lack of respect for laws and norms fostered by the government itself. Violence has become a legitimate way of solving conflicts."

bailey for the nyt

nyt article: Caracas Journal: An American Household Name in Venezuela

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dennis Brutus, Poet, Dies at 85

Brutus' was easily one of the most fascinating interviews I've ever sat in on...incredibly humble, witty, inspiring thinker who spent his life devoted to political activism. He will be missed by many I'm sure.

-- South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus, who fought apartheid in words and deeds and remained an activist well after the fall of his country's racist system, has died. He was 85.

Brutus was an anti-apartheid activist jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. He helped persuade Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

Born in 1924 in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Brutus was the son of South African teachers who moved back to their native country when he was still a boy. He majored in English at Fort Hare University, which he attended on full scholarship, and taught at several South African high schools.

By his early 20s, he was politically involved and helped create the South African Sports Association, formed in protest against the official white sports association. Arrested in 1963, Brutus fled the country when released on bail, but was captured and nearly killed when shot as he attempted to escape police custody in Johannesburg and forced to wait for an ambulance that would accept blacks. Brutus was sentenced to 18 months at Robben Island.

His books ''Sirens, Knuckles, Boots'' and ''Letters to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison'' were published while he was in jail. He was confined, but unbeaten, writing in the poem ''Somehow We Survive'' that ''All our land is scarred with terror/rendered unlovely and unlovable/sundered are we and all our passionate surrender/but somehow tenderness survives.'' In ''Prayer,'' written after he left prison, he proclaims, ''Uphold -- frustrate me if need be/so that I mould my energy/for that one swift inerrable soar.''

Sometimes terse, other times dense and lyrical, his poems were political, but also emotional and highly personal. Forced to leave the country in 1966, he longed for home in the 1975 poem ''Sequence for South Africa,'' writing that the ''secret is clamping down/holding the lid of awareness tight shut,'' until ''some thoughtless questioner/pries the sealed lid loose.''

Brutus emigrated to the United States in 1971, but his legal troubles did not end. The Reagan administration, which began in 1981, changed the policy on political refugees, making it more difficult for them to remain in the U.S. Brutus fought deportation for two years before an immigration judge granted asylum.

Brutus taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh, a distinctive figure in old age with his flowing white hair and beard, engaged in protests against world financial organizations and in calls for stronger action against global warming.

Over the years, he completed more than a dozen collections of poetry, including ''A Simple Lust,'' ''Stubborn Hope'' and ''Salutes and Censures.'' In 2006, Haymarket published a compilation of his work, ''Poetry and Protest.'' His work was banned for years in South Africa, but one book, ''Thoughts Abroad,'' slipped through; it was published in 1970 under the pseudonym John Bruin.

He received numerous honorary prizes, including a lifetime achievement award from South Africa's Department of Arts and Culture. But in 2007 he rejected induction into the South Africa Sports Hall of Fame, stating, ''It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside its genuine victims. It's time -- indeed long past time -- for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation.''

Brutus remained engaged and became passionate about climate change in recent years.

In an open letter dated Dec. 10 about this month's U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, he warned against ''brokering a deal that allows the corporations and the oil giants to continue to abuse the earth.

''Better that there is no deal, so that ordinary citizens can make their choices and voices heard, against the marketing excesses for the rich allowing some to gorge themselves while others starve.''

He was honored with the Peace Award of the War Resisters League in New York City in September. Unable to attend the event, he sent a recording of his poem ''Gull,'' which reads in part, ''Gull gliding against gray-silver autumn sky sees a vast miasma of greed slowly encompass our entire planet cries out to unheeding stars to whom wails of children rise in shrill unending caterwauls.''

Saturday, January 2, 2010

mark & annie

some of my favorites from the super fun texas wedding of two of my all-time favorite friends, mark & annie. they share an incredible love that spawned in the UTexas photoj department; has taken them to Egypt, Virgina and now Washington! I miss you guys and am so glad to have had the opportunity to share your wedding day with you!