Male Ally of the Week: the BBC’s DJ Nihal (@TheRealNihal)

DJ Nihal
DJ Nihal

If you follow me on Twitter or know me in real life, you know how much I appreciate and treasure the support of male allies: those men who actively combat misogyny and support women against verbal, emotional and physical abuses. While many men don’t support abuses of women, it remains true that not enough men actually speak out against misogyny – not even when it’s right in front of their faces.

As a survivor of sexual violence, it hasn’t always been easy to look to men as allies. As an activist, this is further complicated by the fact that some men choose to respond to my views with threats of violence an other alarming behavior (like stalking). However, several amazing men have become absolutely central to my personal healing process — and even more men have been vital allies in my work.

As we address the abuses of women, it is important to highlight those men who refuse to remain silent as women are threatened, bullied, assaulted, or otherwise harmed. We cannot end abuses of women without engaging men in the struggle – and we cannot engage male allies without first identifying them. That is why I am taking a quick moment to recognize the BBC’s DJ Nihal.

I don’t know DJ Nihal. I don’t know his political views, have never seen his show, and don’t even follow him on Twitter  @TheRealNihal). When I saw this video, though, I had to share.

DJ Nihal was to judge the “Jump Off” rap battle in London. During the show, a male rapper who goes by the name Lighte the Boombox Genie (really?) was matched with a female sparring partner. He rapped the following “lyrics”: “No sexercise bitch. After this, in the alley, you gonna get raped.”

In the video, you can see several audience members expressing their disapproval. Then, DJ Nihal jumps onto the stage and intervenes. His response, edited for profanity and length:

“What the… idiot, didn’t you have a mum, didn’t you have a sister, why are you so dumb?…Misogynistic prick, talking you think you’re sick. You… idiot rapping on this chick. This is the jump off, this is the big stage, this is Nihal, feel this… rage…you’re not brave.”

Nihal’s original lyrics also contained several comments about the Genie’s weight. I don’t endorse that. But I DO endorse, wholeheartedly, his intent: to call out, challenge, and shame a man who thought it was appropriate to threaten a woman with rape.

Genie, if you need rape threats to rap, you don’t belong on the stage or in the booth.

Nihal, thank you for taking a stand. It is not uncommon to find misogyny in the music industry, but it gives me hope to know you’re there challenging the status quo.

Watch the video here (NSFW and explicit lyrics):  

Repost: “Measuring Self-Worth in Units of Male Approval: Marriage in India”

This blog by Vidyut over at Women Under Siege is an important read – and the dynamics discussed apply to many countries and several cultures.

Quote:

“In India, it is legal to rape your wife, but it is illegal to beat her—though you can usually get away with that too. Estimates of domestic violence in the country vary widely, but no studies peg it to less than one in five women experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in her married life…

Any conflicts within the marriage also come with a default of the woman having to adjust and not complain. Seeking help is ‘airing dirty laundry in public’ and subsequently bringing shame to family. Asking for help within the family usually results in advice of the “Men will be men” variety. Any support from parents is extremely unlikely, as divorce or separation is usually perceived as a rejection of the woman for not being worthy or as a reflection of her character that she did not ‘adjust.'”

Read more here.

Iranians protest honor killings after the death of another young woman

Iran Telegraf)
Iranians demonstrate against honor killings (photo: Iran Telegraf)

On August 14th, eighteen year-old Fereshteh Nejati was murdered by her father. Forced into marriage at 14, Fereshteh was seeking a divorce.

The details of her murder are gruesome. The response to the tragedy, however, shows signs of hope for Iran’s women.

Where am I finding this hope? Well, Fereshteh’s community decided that enough is enough. Some 2000 people – men and women – gathered in the streets to demand an end to honor killings, and to claim Fereshteh’s body for a respectful burial.

See photos of the demonstration here

As always, check out the International Campaign Against Honour Killings . There, you can join communities like Fereshteh’s in their efforts.

ACTION ITEMS:

* Please remember to keep taking action for Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman facing imminent stoning.

* Sign the anti-honor killing petition I’ve told you about here.

* Send letters to the Pakistani government demanding that they take action against honor killings.

* Work against the epidemic of rape in Afghanistan.

* Help protect women threatened with acid attacks.

Afghanistan: another brutal series of reminders

In a previous post, I reminded readers that the situation in Afghanistan has far from resolved.

If there is still any doubt lingering in your mind that the people of Afghanistan are not free from being terrorized, brutalized and dehumanized – there’s plenty in the news to set you straight. If the news is this awful, imagine what is going unreported.

Read this story of a twelve-year old girl – a survivor of gang rape. Her family has said that they will commit suicide if justice is not served.

Before you jump to conclusions: the family is not talking about persecution of their daughter for “honor”. They’re talking about wanting real justice for their precious, traumatized child – and their family.

Rape is becoming more and more of a problem in Afghanistan. Only recently, a three year old girl was kidnapped and raped. The assailants of countless women, girls and boys are roaming the country without punishment.

The infrastructure necessary for effective implementation of the law simply isn’t there.
Human rights workers are calling this the result of the war that’s been ravaging Afghanistan. Ironically and disgustingly, one of the justifications for war has been to “save Afghanistan’s women.”

Nice work. Not. I didn’t buy it in 2001, and don’t begin to buy it now. Especially not now. Not when mass violation is par for the course and death is called an “accident”.

I could go on – for this story has had me unable to focus on much all day. However, once again the important thing is to take action. Here’s what you can do to help:

* Educate yourself: Human Rights Watch covers the situation in Afghanistan regularly. For example, see this letter, in which Human Rights Watch urges the international community to put human rights at the forefront of conversations with Afghanistan’s government. 

* See this list of non-governmental organizations needing your support. This page is asking you to donate to the organizations, but I’m urging you to do what YOU can, even if you simply read more to stay informed. You can also sign up for mailing lists and blog about the work these organizations are doing.

* I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth reposting regularly: Al-Azhar University’s paper on how women and children must be protected under Islam. For those who don’t know, Al-Azhar is one of the oldest operating universities in the world, and the epicenter of Islamic scholarship.

(Feel free to forward this paper to George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai. If you’re going to be an Islamic republic or you’re just prone to bombing them, consider the inherent rights you’re going to either uphold or brutally violate, eh?)

* Spend some time searching for information about and work being done in Afghanistan. You’ll find things like RAWA and the Afghan Women’s Mission.

“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”

The Prophet Muhammad (At-Tirmithy)