My Body: A Line Not To Cross
November 9, 2010 marks the annual international “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies.
The videos feature people from different walks of life talking about the various experiences they were subjected to in terms of sexual and bodily oppression and the ways they were able to overcome these imposed restrictions to achieve complete autonomy and independence in their sexual and bodily choices.
Adding another visual representation to their initiative, I developed this illustration that reflects on the line I’d like to draw in the face of the constant violations and intrusions on my body, and ultimately my life.
Human rights, including sexual and bodily rights and freedoms continue to be under fierce attack in Muslim societies. Rising conservatism fueled by militarism, increasing inequalities, the politicization of religion and Islamophobia have strengthened patriarchal and extremist religious ideologies that use sexuality as a tool of oppression. This has manifested itself in various forms over the last year, be it as the revocation of the permit for the regional Asia Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) by the police in Indonesia, or the harassment of conference participants by radical Islamist groups, or political pressure on a women’s group promoting women’s rights in Islam in Malaysia, or women like Sakineh Ashtiani being sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, or killings of hundreds of women and transsexuals in Turkey under the pretext of honor and morality.
Despite the differences among Muslim societies in terms of the progress made or the backlash encountered regarding sexual and bodily rights at the national levels, in the post 9/11 social and political context, religion is misused as a powerful instrument of control and sexual oppression with the goal of legitimizing human rights violations in the domain of sexuality. This indicates that sexuality is not a private issue but rather a site of political, social, and economic struggles for equality, human rights, democracy and peace at the national and international levels.
“One Day, One Struggle” was conceptualized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies in response to this context and launched on November 9, 2009, to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings.
About Sexual and Bodily Rights
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) working definition, sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:
- The highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;
- Seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;
- Respect for bodily integrity;
- Choose their partner;
- Decide to be sexually active or not;
- Consensual sexual relations;
- Consensual marriage;
- Decide whether or not, and when to have children; and
- Pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.
The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.
If you’d like to share your experience with sexual and bodily oppression, feel free to post your comments on Jismi.net.