Trans Day of Remembrance

Today is the Trans Day of Remembrance.

One of the professed goals of the Campus Women’s Organization is to “represent the women of the University of Pittsburgh and their interests, namely: education, empowerment, full representation, reproductive justice, and expression of all their identities.” To do that, we need your help. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to help. Here’s the play-by-play:

1. Attend an event and say their names (of the trans folk who have died/been murdered/committed suicide)

2. Uplift the work of trans and non-binary people

3. Support orgs that improve the lives of trans people

Because transwomen are women.

They’re also people worthy of love and respect just like you.

Terf wars: Trans Issues in Feminism

From Tuesday, November 10

Language etiquette 

Pronouns: Always use the pronouns that person currently uses



Xe/xir/xem // ze/zir/zem

Even when talking about them in the past

Terminology: never ‘when she was a man’

Uses of AFAB, etc. These should generally be avoided because its’s transphobic af to refer to a trans person by their birth sex, it should really be used for a description of how they were socialized when growing up. Unless you are a doctor who deals with a lot of trans patients, there’s really no need to know someone’s assignment.

Under the “does this even need to be said?” genitals. Never ask about a persons genitals, it is not your business unless you are sexually involved with them or you are their doctor (and even then be VERY respectful). Asking about a trans person’s body objectifies them by reducing them to their physical bodies, whereas gender is all about how you feel inside.

Transphobic language


  • It
  • She-man / she-male
  • He-she
  • Transvestite
  • Misgendering
  • “confused”
  • Using a dead name

These words are really harmful emotionally to trans folks because of their history and their connotations. They were made with the intention of dehumanizing and hurting trans folks

non binary identities

  • Agender
  • Genderqueer
  • Genderfluid
  • Demigender
  • Bigender
  • Trigender
  • Third gender
  • Hijra (South Asian) – only legally recognized in India but used around South Asia
  • Mahu (Hawai’i) – identity in Hawai’I that has evolved into a slur. Translates into ‘the middle’
  • Two-spirit (Native American) – Lakota and Navajo tribes are examples of tribes that use this

Disclaimer: This is a limited list. Genders are as infinite as the universe


  • Stands for Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism
  • TERF is branded within its community as “gender critical feminism” *groan*
  • Feminism’s problematic herstory
    • MichFest
    • The gender police
    • Passing and “realness”
      • “Real” is used to describe cis people
      • Trans people are often policed more than cis people, which leads to passing as a form of survival
      • Creates a hierarchy within trans community
    • Petition to remove the T from LGBT
  • Violence against trans women
  • 28 trans people have been killed this year
  • Failure of news outlets to cover these properly and respectfully
  • How can we combat these issues in feminism?

What TERFs look like

  • Outing a trans or nb person to their employer
  • “Trans women can’t be lesbians”
  • Assert that cis people aren’t privileged
  • Believes ‘cis’ is offensive
  • Uses normal in place of the word ‘cis’
    • Also assert cis people aren’t privileged in a world that’s hostile to trans people

Instead of using unnecessarily gendered language, you can use this alternatives!

  • Girl // boy // man // woman à human // person
  • Girlfriend // boyfriend à partner // date // datefriend // datemate // babefriend // person // significant other
  • Ladies and gentlemen à distinguished guests // folks // y’all // yinz // guests


  • Original meaning was peculiar
  • Came to be used as a derogatory term
  • Reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community
  • Usage varies

Media Representation

  • What are some examples of good representation? How about bad representation?
  • Transparent
  • Orange is the new black
  • Laverne Cox
  • Janet Mock
  • Sylvia Rivera
  • Marsha P Johnson
  • American Horror Story

PGH resources

  • Rainbow Alliance
  • Gay and Lesbian Community Center
  • Transpridepittsburgh
  • Project Silk
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • The Name Change Project


The Complex Lives of Sex Workers

From Wednesday, November 4th

Trigger warning

We will be discussing sex work, sexual abuse, and rape in this post.

Safe space

CWO is a safe space for everyone to express their opinions and share their experiences should they chose to do so. If an individual invalidates or disrespects someone’s experience, that individual will be asked to leave.

What is sex work?

The provision of sexual services for money or goods

Discussion question

What are the connotations (positive or negative) associated with sex work, sex workers, and those that solicit sexual services?

Different types of sex work

  • Commercial sex work
    • Indoor
      • Escort services
      • Brothel work
      • Massage parlor work
      • Bar or casino work
    • Street
  • Phone sex operation
  • Exotic dancing (stripping)
  • Webcam nude modeling
  • Pornography
  • Peepshow performing

What isn’t sex work?

  • Sex trafficking
  • Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt, bondange, or other forrms of coersion to force women, men, and children to engage in commercial sex against their will
  • Under federal law, any person under 18 that engages in sex work is considered to be a victim of sex trafficking
  • People that come from foreign countries to engage in sex work are all considered victims of sex trafficking



  • Commercial sex work – exchange of money or goods for sexual services which involves a sex worker and a client
  • Full service sex worker – prostitute
  • Survival sex
  • Harm reduction – methodology that seeks to reduce potential harms of high risk behavior, rather than restrict the behavior
  • Independent
  • Agency – the ability of a person to act for themself
  • Pimp
  • John
  • Incall
  • Outcall
  • Trick

The history of sex work in the U.S.

  • Present since the early American settlements
    • Some of the first women to arrive to the U.S. settlements
  • The introduction of Red Light Districts
  • Sex work was transformed into a “social evil” during the turn of the 20th century
    • Sex work becomes viewed as a “social disease” that can be legally prohibited and abolished

Discussion question

What are some of the reasons that people enter into sex work?

Why do people go into sex work?

  • Money
  • Autonomy/independence
  • Shelter
  • Drug dependency
  • Inability to escape
  • Survival sex
    • Sexual abuse as children
      • Girls that are survivors of sexual abuse are 3 times more likely to go into prostitution than girls that were not sexually abused
      • Given that one of the strongest predictors of engagement in survival sex is a prior history of sexual abuse by adult caregivers, some researchers theorize that rather than being driven to survival sex out of desperation, street children might be reproducing familiar behaviour and relationship patterns.[4]
  • Average age of entry into sex work: 16

The complexity of agency

  • Free will
    • Many people go into sex work of their own volition
  • Survival sex
    • Can be consensual
    • Can change what consent looks like for the sex worker

Locations of sex work

  • Indoor Sex Work
    • 63% Cisgender Women
    • 33% Cisgender Men
    • 4% Transgender
      • 70% Women
      • 27% Men
      • 3% Non-Binary
  • Street Sex Work
    • 83% Cisgender Women
    • 7% Cisgender Men
    • 10% Transgender Women
  • Indoor Sex Work
    • 44% White
    • 27% Latinx
    • 15% Black
    • 12% Asian
    • 2% Mixed
  • Street Sex Work
    • 21% White
    • 27% Latinx
    • 52% Black


  • Street workers
    • 50% experienced violence
    • 27% victims of rape
  • Indoor workers
    • 26% experienced violence
    • 8% victims of rape
  • Police
    • 14% of sex workers have been threatened with arrest if they didn’t sleep with an officer
    • 8% obliged and were arrested
    • 5% refused and were arrested


  • What it means: All aspects of full service sex work are illegal, including johns, pimps, and the workers themselves
  • Where in the World: Mostly everywhere! (Including MOST of America)
  • Pros: Some sex workers with drug addictions may appreciate being removed from their environment when in a downward spiral, and others resent stringent health inspections imposed in legalization
  • Cons: Institutionalizes workers both in prison and within sex work, increases incidences of violence and disease, unfairly targets transgender workers and workers of color, as well as people of low income, rarely targets johns and pimps


  • What it means: Johns and Pimps are illegal, sex workers are not so long as they display that they did not actively engage in their work
  • Where in the World: Sweden, with the Nordic Model
  • Pros: Potentially more helpful toward victims of trafficking than criminalization
  • Cons: Same cons as criminalization–workers can be arrested for carrying condoms, actively propositioning clients, negotiating prices themselves, etc., victims of trafficking may still experience police harassment


  • What it means: Legalized, but has special rules attached to it that aren’t applied to other industries (i.e. brothel work only, no independent work, certain health inspections across the board)
  • Where in the World: Nevada, since 1971
  • Pros: Police protection for brothels, ability to have open solidarity, violent crime no longer seen as an occupational hazard when working within a business
  • Cons: Unsavory working conditions, excessive health inspections, poor living conditions, reduces sex worker income by 30 to 50 percent


  • What it means: Everything is legal in regard to exchanging sexual acts for money/goods
  • Where in the World: New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, and parts of Australia
  • Pros: No difference in physical health, self-esteem, mental health, or “quality of social networks” between sex workers and non-sex workers in New Zealand. Also, allows sex workers easier avenues toward being able to find housing and other lines of work should they choose that
  • Cons: Does not appear to diminish stigmatization towards workers

The “War on Sex Trafficking” in America

  • Legislation meant to crack down on sex trafficking
    • Frequently targets sex workers in general
    • Legislation targets people that offer or solicit paid sex, people who live with sex workers, and those who run classified advertising websites
  • US government-funded sex trafficking sting operations
    • July 2015 – Homeland Security, the AZ Dept of Public Safety, and other AZ state agencies – “human trafficking enforcement operation,” stopped commercial trucks and checked license plates, 30 stops, 0 arrests
    • April 2014 – FBI released crime data on state-based trafficking investigations, 14 human trafficking incidents in 13 states, 4 arrests
    • 2008 – 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2515 suspected incidents of human trafficking, 6% of investigations resulted in arrests
  • Hurts sex workers
    • Wastes resources on “rescue” and sting operations that could be used to help sex workers and victims of trafficking
    • TVPA – 2006 – Bush administration gave US Conference of Catholic Bishops $19 million to oversee government services to women, no money given to counseling for abortion or birth control
    • Crackdown – Las Vegas – 2009 – received $500,000 federal grant to combat human trafficking, but money went towards paying cops overtime to arrest full service sex workers
      • Only resulted in 10 cases of trafficking
    • Victims – idea that sex workers wouldn’t go into their field voluntarily, affront to workers’ autonomy, workers get shipped off to counseling, which interferes with their work and ability to make money
    • Counseling is often religious – shaming, threats, and moralism
  • Anti-trafficking used to be a feminist issue
  • Used to be about sex workers’ rights, now it’s been co-opted by religious conservatives into an anti-sex movement that punishes sex workers

Global patterns of sex work: male sex tourism

  • Frequent destinations include regions where:
    • Prostitution is legal or decriminalised
    • The population of women is largely non-White
  • Men explain their solicitation of sex work as:
    • Satisfaction of immediate sexual needs
    • A way to select specific physical, racial, or sexual stereotypes
    • A way to make up for what is not being fulfilled in their current relationships
  • Women explain their participation in sex work as:
    • Their only option of work
    • Something during which they experience little positive emotion
    • Rape myth acceptance and rape endorsement

Global patterns of sex work: female sex tourism

  • Unusual in that it is a pattern of female – instead of male – sex tourism
  • Mixed reception to this growing trend
    • Fetishization versus Agency and Mutual Benefits
  • The sellers are typically of the following demographic:
    • Black men from Kenya, Gambia, the Caribbean, and Latin America
    • Moderate to Low socio-economic status
    • Young in age
  • The buyers are typically of the following demographic:
    • White American or White European women
    • High socio-economic status
    • Middle-aged

Women in the Middle East

From Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Some things to keep in mind…

  • The Middle East is HUGE and varied region, experiences of women differ greatly from one country to the next
  • The ME is constantly CHANGING, and and what we say today could well be outdated within the next few months
  • A woman’s experience in a more rural area is totally different than in a city
  • Tonight we are speaking from our own experiences in the Middle East and North Africa, and with Arab culture, this does NOT mean that we can ever know about a woman’s experience living in this region.
  • MidEast women don’t want your white feminism!

~Mindset Check~

The information that we as Americans are given about this region is skewed according to a particular political agenda, the stories that are told about this region and the information we are given is not the whole picture. We are the post-9/11 generation, which means that we have grown up in a country riddled with Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment. We must keep this in mind when approaching any topic surrounding people’s experiences in the Middle East, particularly those of women.

“The power of women is in their stories.”

Sharia Law

Countries that practice Sharia Law: Egypt, Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and certain regions in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

What it is: a set of laws based on the Quran, Hadith, interpretation, and precedent.

Some laws regarding women:

  • a minor does not have to give consent for her father to marry her to someone
  • a women can only divorce with her family’s approval
  • a man may take up to four wives at a time, but only if he can provide financially and treat them all without preference
  • if either a man or a woman commits adultery, the punishment is 100 lashes and being stoned to death

Islamic and Non-Western Feminism

  • Feminism grounded in feminist interpretations of Islamic texts
    • Islam preaches equality between men and women
    • No man should force a woman to cover herself
  • Reject patriarchal interpretations of the holy texts
  • Morchidat- Morocco, first trained Islamic women leaders
  • Focused on job opportunities and education, as well as putting an end to sexual violence and street harassment
  • Women in the home- women have tremendous power within the home, and often oversee all aspects of family life
  • Women often live in separate spheres from men, and though this is problematic it also creates community

(A few) Fantastic Women in the Middle East

  • Queen Rania, Jordan
    • Palestinian refugee from Kuwait
    • businesswoman who worked for Apple and Citibank
    • outspoken advocate for women’s economic empowerment and against honor killings
  • Fairuz, “The Jewel of Lebanon”
    • internationally famous vocalist and Lebanese nationalist
    • “First Lady of Lebanese Singing”
  • Nazira Zain al-Din, Feminist author, Lebanon
    • 1908-1976
    • One of the first people to speak out against forced “head-to-toe” covering and the seclusion of women in the home

Women Artists

  • Mona Hatoum, Lebanon
  • Emily Jacir, Palestine
  • Shadia and Raja Alem, Saudi Arabia

Women in Resistance and Revolution

  • Kurdish women fighters, Turkey and Syria
    • women fight on the front lines against ISIS
  • Women in Tahrir Square and the Streets of Syria
    • organized protests and stood on the front lines despite rampant sexual assaults in the streets
    • respect among male and female protesters
  • Salwa Bughaighis, Libya
    • lawyer, prominent organizer, “Day of Rage” protests which drove Libyan army out of Benghazi
    • shot in her home in 2014
  • Tawakkol Karman, Yemen
    • “Mother of the Revolution” and co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2011
  • Esra’a Al-Shafei, Bahrain
    • Bahraini activist and blogger working from within strict censorship laws
    • founder of CrowdVoice

Women in the Palestine-Israel Conflict

  • First Intifada, Palestine 1987-1991
    • Domestic and women-run
  • Palestinian and Israeli women are working jointly for peace and an end to violence and oppression.
  • Rawan Eghbariah
    • creates youth groups across the region to educate youth about constructive pathways to peace
    • opposes military education and fights for conscientious objectors in prison
    • fights for a peaceful, anti-militaristic Israel
  • Sahar Vardi
    • conscientious objector to required military service
    • server 3 prison terms
    • advocates for an end to oppression by military

Women’s Bodies: Policing and Choice

  • It is a common misconception that all women in all Middle Eastern countries MUST cover their heads and/or hair.
    • ACTUALLY, covering varies depending on country, law, religion, family, and personal choice
  • Women choose to cover their hair and/or faces for many different reasons, such as tradition, faith, religion, or family values.

Pop Culture Call Outs!

From Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Icebreaker Activity:

Cultural Appropriation: Headdress to Coachella

Cultural Assimilation: Black women perming their hair straight

Cultural Appreciation: Non-latinx taking a salsa class

  • Intro: Think about cultural groups that you identify with.
  • Halloween!
    • What are some Halloween costumes that you have seen to be culturally appropriative? Why do you consider them to be appropriative?
    • Kimonos
      •   During World War II, America found itself at war with the nations of Japan, Italy, and Germany. It was during this period that internment camps were established throughout the United States in order to isolate the Japanese American citizens from the rest of society, due to them being viewed as a possible threat to national security. The present day trend of Halloween celebrators wearing kimonos is an act that recognizes a culture without necessarily appreciating the individuals who are apart of it.
    • Dia de los Muertos face masks/sugar skulls
      • Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration during which families gather together in order to pay their respects to their deceased family members, and help to support them in their spiritual afterlife. A popular symbol that is used in celebration of Dia de los Muertos is the sugar skull. The sugar skull has become a frequent choice of costume for American Halloween celebrators. However, the use of the sugar skull as a costume is disrespectful to Mexican culture, as it takes away from the solemnity of honoring the deceased, and once again, serves as a way to display a culture without necessarily respecting the individuals who are apart of it.
    • Turbans
      • Following the events of September 11th, individuals who wear turbans have been inappropriately associated with the members of the terrorist group (Al-Qaeda) that was held responsible for the plane hi-jackings and subsequent destruction of the Twin Towers. However, it has been during the recent decade that America has seen an increase in non-Arab, non-Muslim, and non-Sikh individuals wearing turbans as a part of their Halloween costumes.
        • In January of 2013, Mr. Jagjeet Singh, a commercial truck driver, was pulled over by the police as he was passing through Mississippi. The police then called him a “terrorist” and harassed and humiliated him because of his appearance. He is a sikh. For those of you that are unfamiliar, sikhs wear turbans. Mr. Singh was also wearing a kirpan, a religious article that is comparable to a cross that a Christian would wear. This incident ended with Mr. Singh’s wrongful detainment. Flash forward to the court case to appeal this incident, Mr. Singh was dismissed from court “until he removed that rag on his head.”
        • As an observant Sikh, Mr. Singh wears a turban at all times as a reminder and public declaration of his connection to God. For him, the turban is an inseparable part of his Sikh religious identity: Like all Sikhs, Mr. Singh believes that a man cannot be considered a Sikh if he does not wear the turban and that unwrapping his turban and exposing his “naked” head in public is sacrilegious and shameful.
      • (numbers)
        • Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the number of hate crimes directed against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs escalated dramatically. In 2001, Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs were victimized in nearly five percent of the total number of hate crimes reported that year (481 out of 9,730), a seventeen-fold increase over the prior year. While the number of reported hate crimes against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs has declined from the peak of 2001, it remains substantially above pre-2001 levels. In 2007, for example, 115 hate crimes were reported — more than four times as many as were reported in 2000.
      • If the incident does turn out to be motivated by anti-Islamic sentiment, it would be one of dozens of such events that happen each year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the program typically recorded between 20 and 30 anti-Muslim hate crimes per year. But in 2001 that number rose more than tenfold to nearly 500. In the years since, annual hate crimes against Muslims have consistently hovered in the 100-150 range, roughly five times higher than the pre-9/11 rate.
  • Celebrities
    • Miley Cyrus wearing dreadlocks
      • At the 2015 VMA’s awards show, musician Miley Cyrus wore dreadlocks as a part of her many wardrobe changes. Historically, dreadlocks are a hairstyle that have been reserved for individuals of African descent, by virtue of a shared hair texture. The tightly curled follicle structure that is had by these individuals allows for the hair to be styled into locs without altering the texture of the hair. Although dreadlocks have long been a part of the cultures of individuals of African descent, there has been a significant number of instances where people who wear dreadlocks have been negatively stereotyped, and subsequently faced discrimination because of it. While Miley Cyrus – a non-Black celebrity – has been celebrated for wearing a hairstyle that has been deemed as “unique” and “trendy”, individuals of African descent – both famous and non-famous – have faced negative consequences. Miley Cyrus donning dreadlocks as a trend is an act that overshadows the discrimination that individuals of African descent have to combat, as well as fails to give credit to an entire group of people who have been wearing dreadlocks long before her.
        • In August 2014, a Rastafarian teen in Louisiana was sent home for having dreadlocks that extended beyond the collar of his shirt. He returned the following week with his hair pinned back. (No one make a Mean Girls’ reference.) School officials maintained that his dreadlocks were in violation of the dress code. Why not just cut them? Rastafarians believe according to Leviticus 21:5 forbids them to cut their hair, and dreadlocks are central to their religious beliefs. Just as in Mr. Singh’s case, his hair is directly related to his religion. This is blatant discrimination and although the school has not formally suspended the student, he has missed 10 of the first 11 days of the school year over his dreadlocks.
        • In late December 2014, Tamon George, an MBA student and President of the Graduate Student Government Association at the University District of Columbia, was informed that his dreadlocks were not a permissible hairstyle Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute. He wears them in commitment to his Caribbean heritage. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a non-profit that supports students attending HBCUs.
    • Iggy Azalea wears traditional Indian garb in “Bounce” music video
      • Similar to Miley Cyrus’s use of dreadlocks as an attempt to appear “trendy” and “innovative”, Iggy Azalea uses aspects of Indian culture in order to give her video a creative twist. The bindi, sari, and henna that Iggy is adorned with are all apart of Indian traditions. Iggy, not being Indian or having any direct ties to these cultural elements, is doing nothing more than giving representation to Indian culture, without giving proper respect to the people who are apart of it. Her lack of respect for the Indian community (as well as, more generally, the Asian community) is made apparent in the above Tweet that she wrote.
  • Cultural Appreciation
    • Taking advantages of opportunities to learn specific truths about cultures i.e. cooking classes, language-learning classes, dance classes

Women in India

From Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Overview of India
India has 29 states and 7 union territories
Ruled by the Union Government
India is approximately one-third of the size of US
The population is four times that of the US – 1,276,267,000


  • 79.8% Hindu
  • 14.2% Muslim
  • 2.3% Christian
  • 1.7% Sikh
  • 2% Other

Common languages: Hindi and English

  • Over 20 languages officially recognized
  • 29 languages have over 1 million speakers in India
  • Over 50 languages have over 100,000 speakers


1858 – British Rule in India begins
1891 – Age of Consent Act raises age of consent from 10 to 12 years
1927 – All India Women’s Conference is set up
1929 – Child Marriage Restraints Act
1947 – British Rule in India Ends
1949 – Women gain the right to vote
1949 – Age of consent is raised to 15 years
1966 – Indira Gandhi serves as first woman Prime Minister
1978 – Prohibition of Child Marriage Act passed
1982 – Age of consent raised to 16 years
2012 – Age of consent raised to 18 years
2014 – India elects its highest number of women Parliamentarians: 66

Education Inequality 

  • More than one-third of all women around the world who are illiterate are Indian women (187 mil).
  • Education in India is a privileged offering
  • Commit2Change is an organization that strives to help orphaned girls and other at-risk young women.
  • Aahana India is a non-profit organization created by a student at Drexel University in order to improve education in Gujarat.
  • Check out what’s going on at Pitt to combat the education inequality in India! Pitt Asha for Education

Sex-selective Abortion

906 girls per 1000 boys

Why? There is a son preference because of economic liability and the difficult lives women must lead.

Movements to fight this include #fight4thefoetus and the Pink Spot

Menstruation Discrimination

  • It is a common belief that menstruating women are impure or dirty
  • The use of cloth pads lead to poor hygiene and increased risk of infection, however, many women in poverty cannot afford sanitary pads
  • 66% of menstruating girls do not go to school
  • 20% of girls drop out of school

Arunachalam Muruganantham –  a social entrepreneur who started a sanitary napkin revolution!


Arranged Marriage and Child Marriage

  • Child marriage prevalence is defined as the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before age 18
  • 47% of Girls (UNICEF)
  • Our Daughter, Our Wealth aka Apni Beti Apna Dahn (ABAD) is a conditional cash transfer program in the state Haryana to incentivize families to delay their daughter’s marriages until 18.
  • Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2007
  • Legal age of marriage –18 for women, 21 for men
  • 74% believe it’s better

Dowry System


Sexual Violence

Eve-teasing is a term for street harassment used in South Asia

Times of India survey revealed

  • 90% of women experienced Eve-teasing
  • 70% of women were subjected to lewd comments or songs
  • 25% had been groped or molested
  • 8% had been stalked

Buzzfeed video:

Delhi bus gang rape

  • Rape and fatal assault of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi
  • Pandey was raped by six men
  • Accompanied by a male friend
  • Sparked protests against the state and central governments

BBC created a documentary called India’s Daughter, which is highly criticized by Indian feminists for sensationalizing the story and prioritizing the story of Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists, who genuinely believes he didn’t do anything wrong

Rape statistics

  • 24,923 reported in 2013
  • A woman is raped every 20 minutes
  • Approximately one in ten women raped is under 18 years old
  • 2 per 100,000 people
  • Large amount unreported
  • Much lower than other countries
  • In US, 18% of women report being raped at least once in their lifetime

Male rape: no way for man who is raped to find justice with India’s Penal Code

  • Only way is through anti-sodomy law if perpetrator is another man
  • Currently there is no way for women to be tried for raping a man

Gulabi Gang – Founded by Sampat Pal Devi in one of the 200 poorest districts in India in Uttar Pradesh

  • Stop child marriages
  • Increase education of girls
  • Train women in self-defense
  • Oppose corruption in administration
  • Create awareness about the evils of dowry
  • Report sex-offenders and abusive husbands
  • Publicly shame molesters
  • Encourage women to become financially independent

Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD)

  • Social campaign launched in 2013 Farhan Akhtar
  • Since then, actors like Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, and Hrithik
  • Roshan have joined the campaign
  • Akhtar has visited college campuses, sports stadiums, and the UN


  • Organization that educates women on self-defense
  • Supplies women with alarms and pepper sprays so they can defend themselves

Sex Trafficking

  • Placement Agencies sell girls for $600-$700
  • Girls work 14-16 hours a day
  • Perpetuated by little Knowledge of rights

Apne Aap – a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking


  • Transgender women, eunuchs, and intersex individuals
  • Targets of harassment and discrimination
  • Voting rights granted in 2003
  • Recognized as a separate “third gender” by the Supreme Court in April 2014
  • Experience significant rape and abuse at the hands of the police
  • Shabnam Mausi – first hijra elected to public office
  • Most work in the sex trade, beg, or sing and dance at birth celebrations to earn their living
  • Some hijras don’t want to be referred to as a “third gender”
  • Ancient myths describe special powers to bring luck and fertility

Chulein Aasman

Playing Catch Up

Remember the “Women in India” event from way back in September? Maybe you weren’t able to attend. Well, here’s your chance to catch right back up. We wanted to give you and everyone you know the opportunity to have access to the wonderful information that we received from this presentation. This isn’t the only one, though. Over the course of the semester (and beyond), the wordpress will be updated to include all the presentations from our GBMs. Enjoy!

Vagina Monologues 2016!

Calling all actors, directors, producers, ASL performers, and vagina lovers/appreciators!

It’s that time of year again: CWO’s 12th annual spring performance of the Vagina Monologues is now accepting applications!!! Don’t bother trying to contain your excitement. We feel ya.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Vagina Monologues is a series of…monologues originally written and performed by Eve Ensler, all of which pertain to women’s experiences with their vaginas. Ensler interviewed hundreds of women and produced monologues giving commentary on the female experience in humorous, poignant, and defiant tones. “Vagina” is not a bad word, and this series of performances moves to abolish the taboo.

Performances will be on February 11, 12, and 13.
To Download application: File > Download as > Microsoft word or PDF document (Pay attention, dear! Each link is specific to the position)
Applications Due by November 16th: Financial, Theatrical Producer, Director, ASL Director
Applications Due by November 26th: Actresses, ASL Performers, Board of Directors
Submission details: Drop it off in the CWO office during office hours or email it to us @ with the subject “VM application”

Here are the positions open to applicants:
[Disclaimer #1: Anyone can be involved in the show, however, those who identify as cisgender men cannot perform.]
[Disclaimer #2: It is possible to fill more than one role, however, the director should not be an actor. People can apply for both director and actor, but if someone is selected as director they cannot be considered for an acting part or ASL performance part. The director automatically sits on the board of directors]

  • Actress: Be available for all rehearsals, memorize their parts, work closely with director, help with fundraising/advertising at some point before show

  • ASL performer: Be available for all rehearsals, memorize their parts, work closely with ASL director, help with fundraising/advertising at some point before show, must have some experience with ASL (family member with hearing loss, completed ASL 1 at Pitt or are currently enrolled in an ASL course, the individual has hearing loss, etc)

  • Board of Directors members: be available for all meetings (usually set between 5 and 6 on Fridays before rehearsal), work closely with theatrical producer and financial producer, help with fundraising and advertising

  • ASL Director: Have completed or currently enrolled in ASL 3 at Pitt, work closely with director and theatrical producer, help with advertising specifically towards the deaf community, work closely with each ASL performer on their delivery

  • Director: Have some experience with acting, be available for all rehearsals, work closely with each actress on their delivery, help with fundraising and advertising, sit on the board of directors

  • Theatrical Producer: Have some experience with acting or event production (doesn’t have to be both), work closely with board of directors, be in charge of community outreach and advertising, work closely with director, ASL director, and financial producer

  • Financial Producer: Have some experience with fundraising or event production (doesn’t have to be both), work closely with board of directors, be in charge of fundraising and finances, work closely with director, ASL director, and theatrical producer

It’s an honor to be able to put on this show, and we would love even more if you were apart of it.

Peace, Love, Vaginas,
Pitt CWO