Subject: [fem-women2000 698] FWD: WCAR: Double Discrimination: Women and Race
From: Makoto TERANAKA <>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 19:17:13 +0900
Seq: 698

Forward to

Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 11:18:35 +0800
>From: Kathy Clarin <>
Subject: WCAR Update 17 from Isis International-Manila

Double Discrimination: Women and Race
by Sonia Randhawa

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The 
slightly better off Dominican Republic has a native Haitian population, but 
also houses a shifting population of migrant workers from Haiti that works 
on the sugar cane plantations. According to information presented at a 
"'Women at the Intersection of Racism and Other Oppressions: A Human Rights 
Hearing', both men and women suffer discrimination.

Women, however, face double discrimination, according to the testimony 
presented by Solange Pierre, once due to race and once due to gender. This 
double discrimination, termed "'intersectionality', affects those who are 
discriminated against in more than one way. The hearing from women 
delegates from various communities at the NGO Forum on the World Conference 
Against Racism in Durban was a series of vivid examples of women who suffer 
disproportionately because of a mixture of racism and gender discrimination.

Solange Pierre told how her first experience of racism came at nine years 
of age, when she was kicked out of national day celebrations, as Haitians 
have no place in such celebrations. Nationalism is equated with 
anti-Haitianism. Doctors who help Haitian mothers bear children are fined. 
Haitian children are not allowed to attend school. She told tales of 
vicious rape, a mother forced to abandon her two young children, one aged 
15 days, the other aged two years. The younger child died, while the 
two-year old went missing. The mother, a human rights activist, ended up in 
a mental institution.

In another incident, 50 migrant workers illegally coming into Haiti were 
stopped by the police. Solange told their story.

"The people who were sneaking these migrants into the country, they tried 
to run away. At that point, the military started shooting at the bus and 
they kept on shooting and shooting. And among this group of the victims, 
there were two pregnant women, one of whom was seven months pregnant. The 
woman kept screaming, "'Please, I'm pregnant, please'. And she asked him to 
please protect her. Then he looked at her and he shot her stomach and said 
"'Finally we have eliminated another Haitian'."

Other cases of double discrimination were reported.

Roma, often termed gypsies, are still a little understood community. Roma 
number 12 million globally, with 700,000 believed to be in Serbia. The 
majority is illiterate. They marry and die young, living isolated from the 
rest of society, unable to fill out official forms, use public transport or 
make their way round urban areas outside Roma settlements.

But the Roma women, according to Vera Kurtic and Slavica Vasic, both Roma 
women themselves, suffer a double discrimination, once due to their race 
and once due to their gender.

Slavica, for example, related the story of Sevdija, who was sold by her 
parents at the age of 13, married to an alcoholic three years older than 
her. She was pregnant at 14. When the time came for her first child to be 
born, she was sent away from the first hospital she approached. She was 
accepted at the second hospital she approached. During labour, however, the 
mid-wife started screaming at her, telling her to shut up, that she had 
enjoyed having sex, so shouldn't be screaming now. Racism and sexism 
combined to ensure that Sevdija delivered her next four children at home.

Vera explained that child marriages and discrimination against women are 
considered necessary. Gender discrimination is told to take a back seat 
until the problems caused by racial discrimination can be solved.

The problem of double discrimination, or intersectionality, is faced by 
women, in different forms, across the world. Women from the US, Malaysia, 
Nepal and the Congo told their stories, each one pointing to the need for 
women's issues to be addressed alongside the issues of racism.

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