Sasha: UN decisions perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence

Wow, really? What the fuck was the UN thinking?

This past week a group of Arab and African nations succeeded in getting a resolution that condemns executions based on sexual orientation deleted from a list that includes "killings for racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons and killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups".

In case you're planning a getaway for the holidays and you don't like the idea of supporting a country that actively condones the murder of homosexuals, here is a list of who approved the removal of sexual orientation from the resolution:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This is bullshit. As mind-boggling, in fact, as a decision made the week before to grant Saudi Arabia, where women are famously not allowed to drive or vote, a seat on the UN's newly created Women's Rights Panel. Saudi women also require permission from a male guardian to travel, work and obtain certain types of medical care. This is not about opening the door to women living under highly oppressive regimes to dialogue with women from more equitable countries. If it were, Iran's bid wouldn't have been so resolutely rejected.

The UN, after having the gall to enact such dodgy decisions, then launched a video and press release to draw attention to the November 25 International Day To End Violence Against Women.

"Violence against women continues on a large scale across the world, much of it hidden, ignored or silenced," writes Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Way to go, UN, not only for insuring that this cycle continues, but also for offering a stamp of approval to nations that wilfully perpetuate violence based on gender and sexual identity.

On the home front, some good news for women's rights: "After two years of grassroots organizing with migrant women and trans activists, residents and users of anti-violence-against-women agencies and service providers, the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign has successfully pushed immigration officers out of spaces for women surviving violence and abuse."

So what am I doing about all this?

Lying around eating Korean food and testing sex toys for what would typically be called a Holiday Gift Guide (but for what I like to think of as an emergency supplies kit). When it comes to vibrators and such, I'm always on the lookout for something that will get me through a good chunk of the apocalypse. Wouldn't you know it, a company called Earth Angel has produced the world's first hand-cranked sex toy for those of us who harbour such concerns.

Earth Angel has got the smooth, old-fashioned looks of one of those neck massagers you'd see advertised in vintage women's magazines. It doesn't require disposable batteries or electricity -- just four minutes of spirited cranking will get you half an hour of one of three speeds of vibration. It's made of non-porous hard plastic, is recyclable and is phthalate- and latex-free. After my Magic Wand catastrophe in Europe, I sure could have used this thing. Never mind how a hand-cranked vibrator would have raised my political profile in the squat where I was staying. Of course, one of those cantankerous Dutch radicals would have no doubt had something choice to say about the rumours that Earth Angel is outsourcing production to China.

Speaking of sex and radicals, have a look at this blog post, from someone under house arrest for, among other things, G20 related activities.

Could it be true? With all they've had to endure, now G20 organizers have to be on high alert for potential lovers seeking "celebrity activist sex"?

This is terrible news. I thought one of the unspoken allures of being an activist was all the sex you could have with people who got off on how strident and confident and ethical you were.

Dear Stircrazy, as if you don't have enough to worry about. I wouldn't be so impudent as to offer you my ass but you are more than welcome to some of the sex toys I receive for review this season should they be deemed up to your political standards. Keep in mind they've been (not so) gently used by me, a woman who up until about two months ago thought when people talked about Turtle Island, they meant the recycling company.

I know for certain that I will not be re-gifting the Soraya by Lelo. Yes, at $200, it is prohibitively expensive. Yes, it shares a name with the Shah of Iran's second wife, whom he divorced because she was infertile. But holy Christmas, is this thing ever incredible. Check it out here. Waterproof, rechargeable, aesthetically pleasing and loaded for aneurysm-inducing orgasms (this is pretty much what happened to me when I gave it a whirl).

Thanks to Good Vibrations and Lelo for sending me these fine products. Check out their websites (goodvibes.com and lelo.com) for more seasonal cheer, and of course I will remain as committed as always to making sure your holiday gift needs are met by offering personal product reviews in the coming weeks.

Here's one last little suggestion for now.

This column was originally published in NOW Magazine. Ask Sasha:

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