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January 23, 1989 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-23

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OPINION
Monday, January 23, 1989

Page 4

The Michigan Daily'1*

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sanctioned sexual violence:

A

view from

Vol. IC, No. 80

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
thiopians exploi*ted

THE PLIGHT OF Ethiopian Jews has
recently become a campus issue, with
students from the American
Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ)
soliciting donations earmarked for,
among other projects, the "return" of
this community to Israel.
Years of media focus on Ethiopia
depict a situation of virtually unparalled
suffering, not only on the part of this
country's ten to fifteen thousand Jews,
btof all of its forty million citizens.
Tla solution, however, lies not in the
tr hsfer of a fraction of Ethiopia's pop-
ulation to another part of the world, but
rattjer in a comprehensive plan to end
th ebrutal civil war, and feed and shel-
ter lts victimized people.
The Ethiopian people have long been
ukd as pawns. The Soviet Union con-
ti iies to back the dictatorship of
Ethiopian Lt. Colonel Mengistu Haile
Mariam who, since his ascension to
pdver in 1974, has actively prevented
relief supplies from reaching those in
ncd.
Although the United States has chan-
neled a substantial amount of relief aid
tdEthiopia, according to Dan Cannell
of 3rass Roots International, "U.S.
aid to Ethiopia has been very selective,
w lh the aim of undermining Soviet in-
flgence rather than feeding starving
people."
Although individual efforts to bring
aid;into Ethiopia are necessary, a com-
ptiensive solution can be reached
ory with a recognition of the root
causes of this suffering: military ex-
papsionism and a profit-motivated
worldview aimed at causing third
world dependence on the superpowers.
An end to the Ethiopian tragedy must
comne about within Ethiopia itself. With
thr in mind, one must call into ques-
tikn the objectives of those who advo-

cate Ethiopian emigration to Israel.
The Israeli "Law of Return," one of
the country's Fundamental Laws, is
invoked in order to justify the tremen-
dous efforts expended to encourage
Jewish Ethiopian emigration.
Based on the zionist principle that the
Jewish people must "return" to their
homeland after having suffered a two-
thousand year diaspora, the Law of
Return provides all Jews with Israeli
citizenship and the right to settle in their
'promised land".
Whether or not one accepts this reli-
gious and historical argument, it is
clear that the Law of Return is, at the
very least, used for the purpose of cre-
ating a permanent Jewish presence on
the ruins of Palestinian villages and
lives.
The'forced exodus of the Palestinian
people from their historic homeland
began in 1947, and continues to this
day, with the torture and murder of the
inhabitants of the militarily occupied
Gaza Strip and West Bank, and expro-
priation of land and demolition of
homes both of these people as well as
of those of their compatriots who are
Israeli citizens, living in pre-1967 Is-
rael.
Whether in the Gaza Strip and West
Bank or within the internationally rec-
ognized borders of Israel, the Law of
Return and a myriad of equally nefari-
ous laws serve a common objective: ei-
ther the transfer of all Palestinians off
of their land, or their erasure as a peo-
ple and culture.
Given this reality, mass immigration
of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, at this
juncture, is but a ruse disguised as hu-
manitarianism, to provide more occu-
piers of Palestinian land.
In the name of justice and humanity,
it is the Palestinians who must return.

By Susan Fair
Women in the free world are complain-
ing and calling it sexual harassment when
males in positions of authority over them
do nothing more than verbally make sug-
gestive or degrading comments to them.
In women's prisons, however, male guards
are authorized to do body "shakedowns" on
us, where they run their hands all over our
bodies. They are allowed to feel the breasts
of a woman who is obviously not wearing
a bra and therefore could not concealing
contraband in the area of her breasts. They
may also feel the sanitary pad between a
woman's legs, and then send her to be
strip-searched to determine the nature of
this "unidentified object" they have dis-
covered.
Women's Words is a weekly column
which provides a forum for feminist per-
pectives and a voice for women in the
community. The Daily encourages re-
sponses and contributions from its readers.
Contact Amy or Betsy at the Opinion
Page for more information
Susan Fair is a student at the University
and is incarcerated at Florence Crane
Women's Correctional Facility.

Male guards are employed at all
women's prisons in Michigan. At Crane
Prison, approximately 80 percent of the
staff is male. At Huron Valley, approxi-
mately 50 percent of the staff is male.
These guards have total authority to do
almost anything they want to do to us.
They are allowed to walk in on us while
we are undressed in our cells or cubicles,
and while we are taking showers. The
officers' desks are located right next to the
bathrooms at Crane, and the bathroom
doors must be left open at all times. At
all of the women's prisons, the male
guards are permitted, even obligated, to
walk into the bathrooms on us.
Women must deal with these strange
men standing over their beds in the morn-
ings to wake them up, and ordering them
out of bed in their night clothes. When
they have had an unexpected menstrual
flow begin during the night, women must
ask male guards for sanitary supplies.
When women must take care of such in-
timate basic needs as changing protection,
or douching, or defecating, they must do it
with male guards in the bathrooms and
showers with them. Lotioning or
powdering their bodies after a shower is an
almost impossible task to complete with-
out a male guard walking in on them. At
times when the heat, humidity and lack of
ventilation is excessively uncomfortable,
women prisoners still must be sure their
bodies are fully clothed or covered even
while they sleep.
In addition to being subjected to all of
these "regular duties" of male guards,
women prisoners must also endure verbal

- 0
inside
sexual harassment. If the woman responds
to the verbal harassment or protests what
is done to them in any way, she may be
subjected to intense harassment by multi-
ple guards, even to the point of having her,
sentence prolonged. These actions and,
this retaliatory treatment are not only
sanctioned by the prison administration,
they are encouraged.
This attitude paves the way to even
greater abuses of women prisoners. At
least three or four women are raped by
male guards each year. Far more are
threatened into submitting to sexual
abuses. When such abuses are reported, the
women are punished severely, while more
often than not, nothing is done to the
rapist-guard.
This situation is even more tragic when
the demographics of the female prison
population are considered. It is estimated
that 80 percent of all women prisoners
were victims of rape and/or incest prior to
their incarceration. Over 70 percent of
women prisoners are incarcerated for non-
violent offenses, and of those incarcerated
for violent offenses, many were the direct
result of abuse or coercion by husbands or
boyfriends. These women are subjected to
endless sexual harassment and abuse of the
worst sort as punishment for their crimes,
then they are expected to return to the free
world and function normally.
In a civilized country, permitting and
endorsing this kind of treatment is an
abomination. It is long past time that the
public demanded that it be stopped.
This piece was originally published by
AGENDA.

S

0

No

funds

for bigots

A

By Linda Kurtz
Recently, the Michigan Student
Assembly (MSA) decided to derecognize
two student groups-Cornerstone Chris-
tian Fellowship (CCF) and Tagar (the
Tagar decision was later reversed)-for
their discriminatory conduct toward people
who are gay and people of Arab descent,
respectively. This has since been framed
as a free speech issue by Tagar, CCF, and
the American Civil Liberties Union.
Tagar and CCF claim that they have the
right to express their opinions and
thoughts on the Diag. With this I fully
agree. Those who attempt to smother any
speech, no matter how erroneous, preju-
diced, or reprehensible they may perceive
it to be, either become oppressors or open
the door to their own oppression. It is
important that progressive groups -
some of which are calling for the repres-
sion of all speech save their own, which
they hold to express more morally and so-
cially just values and goals than those of
conservative groups - consider this.
Lest we forget, lesbians and gay men
were once (and still often are) considered
sick and perverted. Speech advocating an
end to their discrimination or literature in-
corporating gay themes could easily be
banned in a society that wishes to protect
its citizens from ideas the majority
considers harmful.
The question of derecognition of CCF
and Tagar, however, is not a free speech
issue. Whether or not MSA derecognizes
either of these groups, each will still have
the right to speak on the Diag; to use
(albeit for a fee) University buildings; to
place posters on campus; to recruit stu-
dents and others to its group; and to hold
meetings. These groups are not being de-
nied the right to speak or associate, only
the right to use student funds to further
anti-gay, racist, sexist, and/or colonialist
causes.
The issue is whether we, as a university
community, will aid, sanction, and fund
groups whose members work actively to
repress other humans for being what they
inherently and unchangeably are - female
or male; heterosexual, gay, or bisexual;
Arab, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native
American, or white - or who advocate
the represssion of an ethnic or national
group such as the Palestinian people.
MSA has taken a stand and said that we
will not. Section 42.13 of the MSA Con-
stitution states that "[n]o group may dis-
criminate on the basis of race, color, sex,
sexual preference [orientation]...or any
other arbitrary or unreasonable considera-

day, Preacher Mike is out on the Diag,
calling every man who walks by a homo-
sexual and every woman who walks by a
whore. His comments perpetuate stereo-
typical notions amongst an already homo-
phobic populace, validate and sanction
anti-gay violence, and intimidate and
threaten lesbians and gay men or people
who are questioning their sexuality. They
also prevent gay people from using the
Diag, a hub of activity at the University.
What lesbian or gay man is going to feel
comfortable there when some preacher is
striding up and down screaming vitupera-
tions against her or him?
Tagar, in its support of Likud and
Zionist policies, advocates the repression

(PSC). It is ironic, then, that they shout
that their freedom of speech will be
abridged because they must pay $8 to rent
a megaphone from A-1 Rental or cannot
display a banner on the Diag. Every day
their heterosexist, racist, sexist, colonial-
ist ideals are manifested in our domestic
and foreign policy and in the news media.
Because these ideals are the ideals of the
majority in this culture, many of us do
not even notice their existence, and accept
them as "truth." To cite but one example:
the opinion page staff of the Daily who
views itself as liberal, anti-racist, and
supportive of the Palestinian cause. Yet
this paper chose to print a cartoon of
Ronald Reagan wearing a keffiyeh (Arab
headscarf) and saying, "I know a terrorist

61

'MSA would not fund a group that supported the policies of
the white supremacist South African government; neither
should it fund Tagar.'

*

JESSICA GREENE /Daily.
-A Palestinian woman flees her home after Israeli soldiers shot tear gas
into it.

Stop

the

A RECORD NUMBER of Palestinians
have been killed with Israeli "non-
lethal" plastic bullets in the past week.
This is the latest in a series of brutal re-
ptessive measures used by the Israelis
to quell the Intifadah, the Palestinian
struggle for recognition and a
homeland.
'The Israeli Iron Fist has produced
broken bones, live burials, death
squads, house demolitions, tear gas
provoked miscarriages, permanent
curfews, sniper fire on demonstrators,
settler brutality and murders, concen-
tration camps, school closures, food
blockades, deportations, well poison-
ings, and the list goes on. The gross
injustice perpetrated against the Pales-
tinian people is compounded by the
continued daily killings in the occupied
territories and the continuous Israeli
bombing of Palestinian refugee camps

bloodshed
possible with a yearly U.S. subsidy of
billions of dollars. The United States
must take responsibility for the crimes
the Israeli government commits. It is
time to force the Israelis to the negoti-
ating table and seek an equitable and
just solution. Land must be given up to
obtain peace. Israelis cannot demand
that Palestinians lay down their stones
without also laying down their guns.
There is an urgency for a negotiated
settlement in the Middle East. Human
decency alone should dictate that the
daily killings be stopped and that the
brutal and unjust acts perpetrated
against the Palestinians be brought to a
halt.
A conflict in the Middle East has al-
ways been considered the most likely
cause for the start of a nuclear ex-
change. The United States must not
allow intransigent Israel to hold the
w,,nrl A Ihnotna tote r~ ih of a

of and violence toward a particular ethnic
and national group - the Palestinian peo-
ple. It is highly ironic that Tagar chose a
bus to represent its cause on the Diag,
while every other group represented there
has chosen a shanty. A shanty because the
Black South Africans and the Palestinians
are being driven from homes which have
belonged to their people for centuries.
While the Jewish colonists were seeking
refuge in Palestine from the persecution of
anti-Semites in other countries, in finding
it, they wrested a land from its original
inhabitants and began a similar, although
not identical, sort of persecution.Tagar
supports the policies of the Israeli gov-
ernment, policies which differ only in
their particulars from those of the gov-
ernment in South Africa. MSA would not
fund a group that supported the policies of
the white supremacist South African gov-
ernment; neither should it fund Tagar.
The contention that derecognition, by
denying Tagar and CCF access to MSA
funds, University amplifying equipment,
the glassed-in bulletin boards in the
Union, use of University rooms free of
charge or for a nominal fee, and the right
to place banners and structures on the Diag
abridges these groups' rights of free speech
fails upon closer examination. No group
in Ann Arbor, whether comprised

when I see one." Many Middle Eastern
men wear keffiyehs; very, very few are
terrorists. At a time when the Daily was
condemning Tagar for its racist act on the
Diag, it was itself perpetuating the very
stereotypes it was decrying.
Actions and speech like those of Tagar,
CCF, and the Daily are the manifestations
of a deeper problem: economic, social, and
political structures that, by their very na-
ture, oppress. For this reason, repressing
the speech of more blatantly prejudiced
groups and individuals will not bring
about an end to discrimination. What will
end it is a change in our social and eco-
nomic institutions and a concomitant
change in the ideology that supports them.
Socioeconomic and ideological change are
involved in a feedback process, neither one
completely determining the other. La-
GROC, PSC, and their supporters are
calling for a change in the ideology that
helps support our social, economic, and
political structures. We are asking that
people take a leap forward in their think-
ing and acknowledge a fundamental truth:
sexual orientation, race, and sex are innate,
immutable characteristics. Other
characteristics - political affiliation, reli-
gion, and so on - are acquired or, if
learned from childhood, changeable.
Groups that discriminate against people on

A

Wi

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