Bike Messengers: A group of female college students in India recently completed a week-long motorbike trip to raise young people’s awareness about violence against women and HIV/AIDS.
Apeksha Todkari, a third-year student, said: “We want to change the mindset. We want to tell them to live equally and exercise their rights. There should be no discrimination. It is only then can the woman say no to unprotected sex.”
The story is particularly noteworthy because the women braved the reactions of their own families, who thought their daughters had no business traveling on their own.
Unbound: Jim Yardley of The New York Times talks with Wang Zaiban, 84, and Wu Xiuzhen, 83, whose feet are “historical artifacts,” as they are survivors of an era when bound feet were “considered a prerequisite for landing a husband.”
No available man, custom held, could resist the picture of vulnerability presented by a young girl tottering atop tiny, pointed feet. But Mrs. Wang and Mrs. Wu have tottered past vulnerability. They have outlived their husbands and also outlived civil war, mass starvation and the disastrous ideological experiments by Mao that almost killed China itself.
In recent years, drought drove them out of the mountains of Shaanxi Province to this farming village beside the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia. They now collect cigarette cartons or other scraps for recycling, or they help in the fields. They are widows, grandmothers, mothers and, more or less, migrant workers.
At this particular moment, they are resting.
Conference Against Female Circumcision: Also from the Times, a reprint of an article from Der Spiegel about the recent conference involving Muslim scholars and academics from Germany, Africa and the Middle East, who spent two days discussing female genital mutilation. The story’s unflinching description of female cicumcision can be difficult to read; kudos to the Times for reprinting it.
Anniversary of Montreal Massacre: On Dec. 6,1989, Marc Lepine entered the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on a mission to murder women. In the end, 14 women lay dead. Lepine committed suicide, leaving behind a lengthy anti-feminist rant in which he blamed all of his problems on women.
Plus: Amie Newman from RHReality Check on unsafe abortion as a human rights abuse; Broadsheet on Bollywood’s kissing crisis and the news, via the BBC, that an Indian village has given its blessing to a lesbian couple’s marriage (after payment of a pair of oxen among other items).
“But what’s a little bribery in return for changing the definition of marriage?” asks Broadsheet’s Carol Lloyd. “Considering that there’s virtually no amount of money that could persuade Mary Cheney’s community to sanctify her love, this story seems like a drop of enlightenment for our backward land.”