Women’s Center promotes celebration and awareness

The Galerstein Women’s Center has ended the semester with a full calendar of events from art films to self-defense to seminars promoting social awareness.

“Tai Chi With Yvonne!” began March 22 and continued with seven weekly sessions throughout the month of April. Tai Chi, a Chinese system of physical exercises designed especially for self-defense and meditation, proved the perfect way to embark on the upcoming weeks of tests, projects and final exam cram sessions.

A short film series by filmmaker and artist Kaleta Doolin entitled “Women & Aging, Stages of Life” debuted March 23. This diverse group of films included “Alexander the Infant” and “Alexander Wiggletooth” – evocative films that feature the artist’s own son on themes of motherhood such as breastfeeding and nostalgia. Other films included “Coiffure Voyeur” and “Found Footage” which reflected the artist’s own stream of consciousness.

On March 24, the popular Self-Defense for Women class was held to empower women with the strength that accompanies their natural agility.

The spring events season ended by exploring some of the social realities of women worldwide.

According to Amnesty International, about 400 young women have been murdered over the last decade in Chihuahua, Mexico alone. In Yemen, Indonesia and 28 African countries, female genital mutilation (FGM) – partial or total removal of the female genital organs – is practiced.

The Gainesville chapter of Amnesty International (AI) presented “Human Rights, Human Wrongs” at the Woman’s Center April 7.

The booth primarily focused on the inaction of the Mexican government in dealing with the murders of young women in the city of Chihuahua and the continuation of the practice of FGM. According to AI’s report in August 2003, Mexican authorities in the city have provided “unjustifiable delays and a failure to follow up on evidence and witness statements” involving these cases.

FGM is a cultural tradition of certain African, Indonesian and Yemeni societies, according to AI. It is thought to cure lesbianism, masturbation and other hysterias. After the genital organs are removed the wound is then stitched shut. However, the practice often results in infertility, painful intercourse, infections and complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

President of the Gainesville chapter of Amnesty International, Shanelle Spakes, said getting the word out about these issues is her main priority. She hopes to help put political pressure on governments through petitions to force them to take action.

“We came up [to UTD] to get a more diverse crowd and I am pretty pleased with the turn out,” Spakes said.

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