Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yesterday I made my way into central London to meet up with family friends. On my way there I sat next to an elderly Irishman who wise quite the talkative man. He was charming and with a few words out of my mouth asked what nationality I was, commenting that he loved accents. He said they added something to a person. They made us different from eachother. He said he has often looked at a woman thinking she was beautiful until she opened her mouth and her course accent gave her away. Talking to him for the 5 minute bus ride to the train station was a treat. One of those unexpected people and conversations that was totally unforeseen on a journey you've done a thousand times without any kind of variation on the experience. He was charming, and sweet and liked my accent. We wished each other a Merry Christmas then I ran to meet the District line train to take me into central London.

Winter has finally come to London. Before last week it never dipped below the low 40's. This week it has remained in the mid to high 30's with bitter wind and lots of fog. I love it when it gets foggy here. It adds Winter weather has finally come to London. Up until about a week ago the temperature a romantical sense to the ghetto I live in over here in East London. The fog also reminds me of the fist time I lived here. Then it did not seem so enchanting to me as parent's had to drive 10 mph because the tail lights of the cars 10 feet in front of them could barely be seen. Walking from the front door of our house to the car 30 feet away had to be done on faith and memory. You could literally not see 30 feet in front of you. Now that, is some dense fog. But now that I travel by foot, bus and tube, I like the fog. It covers surroundings known to be less than aesthetically pleasing and replaces them with fuzzy mystical outlines in the distance adding a sense of mystery.

My Christmas companion is flying out of Chicago tomorrow and will join me in this foggy city on Saturday afternoon. I am giddy with anticipation and excitement as all who have talked to me know full well. I have made lists of things to do, places to take her and things she is to bring me. Unfortunately I still have a little school work to finish up. I say unfortunately but without it I would go insane with boredom. Two papers, one done and one with 700 more words to throw onto the page. But before I get cracking on that, I think I'll take a nice walk in the park. See what is out in the abyss the fog has created.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tonight I had my last class of my first semester of graduate school (big sigh). My grades for both classes will based on one paper each. I have already completed a first draft of one of them and have yet to start the other. One of my three dearest friends will be coming to spend her Christmas break with me and this has proved to be great motivation for working on them.

I will have a possible total of three visitors over my Christmas break which goes until the end of January. I can not begin to express how greatly I anticipate their arrival. With them will come not only oreos and presents from home but memories and a sense of familiarity. With them they will carry a sense of what I know, what I am used to and what I miss. They carry with them and are themselves a comfort to me, weather they know it or not. I have a created a list of all the places to go and things to see while they are here, in hopes of not only keeping us busy and allowing us to explore London, but also hoping it will some how help me to forget that I am not home this Christmas.

This year I will not be eating dozens of homemade Christmas cookies. I will not being going to a Christmas Eve service with my Mom. I will not hear my father read the Biblical Christmas story or pray with my family before opening gifts, nor eat our traditional Christmas breakfast of cinnamon rolls with tea as gifts are passed around. I will not sneak peaks at the Christmas tree hoping to find the pickle that my Mom hides allowing the finder to be the official passer-outer of gifts. All the traditions of my family, things that have been done for as long as I can remember will continue to be done but I will not be present for them this year.

There will be two absent from the Christmas celebrations this year. Mine is only a temporary one. The other will be a permanent absences. Hadi will not be there talking everyone's year off of what her father got her. She will not share the details of whatever new tweety thing she received from her mother nor the cool thing her cool older brother got her. Agian I feel as though I am not able to be there for my family when they so need someone else to help out, to share in sorrow and in laughter, to be there to be a comforter and cry with.

I will of course enjoy my Christmas adventure of spending it with a bestfriend in a great city. I will also ache for the family that is celebrating and grieving thousands of miles away.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

UN Human Rights Day...

Tomorrow Decemeber 10th is the United Nations Human Rights Day and across the globe people will gather outside Sudanese Embassies in protest to what is happening in Darfur.

If anyone is going to be in London on Sunday December 10, 2006 join me and more outside the Sudanese Embassy at 10:30am to hear women speakers talk on the situation in Darfur before marching through London on our way to Downing Street.

If you are going to be in D.C. go to the Sudanese Embassy there.

If your going to be at home I encourage you to tell someone that 'today is the UN human rights day, makes me think of what is happening in Darfur and the total lack of political will the international community has shown in taking action to stop the violence there'. The first step is raising awareness. The second is taking action. Join me in taking action.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

International Law, Women and the Feminist Perspective...

Until my Human Rights seminar tonight I had no idea there was such a misconception surrounding the issue of women's rights. So allow me to set the record straight. Before I do let me also add this, the following is not the ranting of an annoyed feminist, although I am both annoyed and a feminist, this is actually a widely accepted and I might add PROVEN and well DOCUMENTED FACT! Women do not have equal access nor representation under the law weather that be international or domestic law. International human rights law was written by men and primarily addresses concerns within the public sphere, while women's issues, such as domestic violence, happen with in the private sphere.

Ok, now that we have that cleared up let me now rant about the, some might say chauvinist, let us call him mis-guided soul that I heard share his opinion tonight. The discussion, as by now you have guessed was women and international law and the issue of equality. Let me set the stage for you a little, this is the seminar or discussion time that precedes our Int'l human rights law class. There are less than a dozen women in the class of over 40 students, in other words we are the minority by far. But back to the statement that had me speechless for a whole 30 seconds. The 'mis-guided soul' was making a counter "argument" to the point made by a fellow (female) classmate that women in Latin America were not treated equally under the law when bringing cases of rape against a man if they were thought not to be or were not actually virgins prior to the rape. The 'mis-guided soul' then made the statement that 'well women who bring evil against themselves by what they wear....' it was at this point that he was unable to finish his outlandish, ridiculous, chauvinistic and offensive statement because the room as a whole gasped while every woman in the room made an objection of disapproval. Disapproval hardly seems strong enough but you get the point.

It should go without saying, that to suggest a woman, or any person for that matter would invite any kind of violation of their body is absolutely absurd. As is the argument that her dress some how stands as an excuse or some kind of justification for the violation. One wonders if this mis-guided soul really is in pursuit of human rights or merely his interpretation of them. I hope my reasons for feeling not merely annoyed, but infuriated and offended have been made clear. For further documented evidence and feminist legal arguement within the context of international human rights law see my dissertation yet to be written but sure to be finished by September 2007.