Sep 072012

From two far-apart areas of the globe, under widely differing conditions, the grossly underpaid factory workers in Bangladesh and the jobless farm-workers in Spain have taken bold steps to assert their rights and to demand economic and social justice.

Since March this year, Bangladeshi workers have been protesting at their factory sites and in the streets of Dhaka, the capital, demanding wage increases and job security. On the other hand, the Spanish farmworkers — rendered jobless by recession since 2008 — have resorted to occupying and cultivating idle state lands to feed their hungry families.

Remarkably, these incidents replicate both the hardships and injustices that our own factory workers and farm-workers suffered and the courageous actions they have taken to redress their plight.

The Bangladeshi workers’ initiative closely reprises the united actions taken several years back by Filipino factory workers at the export processing zones in Mariveles, Bataan and in Cavite province. Defying the “no-union” policy, they organized themselves, braving the severe restrictions and reprisals, to fight against starvation wages and cruel working conditions.

In like manner, the Spanish farm-workers’ recent mass actions somehow follow the line of “occupy-and-cultivate” idle farmlands that our landless farmers have adopted, with varying degrees of success, in Negros Occidental, Batangas, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, and at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

In a back-to-back coverage, the International Herald Tribune recently provided an insight into these two manifestations of unrest and struggle. Here’s what happened in Bangladesh:

On March 25 the workers of two foreign-owned garment factories at the Ishwardi Export Processing Zone (in western Bangladesh) held a sit-down strike to protest their Chinese bosses’ arbitrary cutting of their wages, already abysmally low.

The minimum pay for garment workers, set by the government, is equivalent to $37, or P1,554 a month. It was raised to that level only last year by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, from about $20 (P840) that had prevailed until 2010. It is no wonder that over 50% of the population of Bangladesh live on less than $1.25 (P52.50) per day.

The protesting workers constituted but a small section of the three million workers — predominantly women — who produce 80% of the $18-billion worth of apparel that Bangladesh exports, mainly to the US and Europe. Products include leading brands, such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Gap, Calvin Klein, H&M, and Tommy Hilfiger.

When the strikers refused to return to work, the police tried to disperse them with tear gas. The workers fought back by throwing stones. A bigger force was called in, the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion, which attacked the workers by firing guns using rubber bullets and pummeling them with cane poles.

The protesting workers, several of them badly hurt, were subdued. The police arrested and filed charges against those suspected as leaders of the protest action.

But the unrest spread. Three months after that incident, tens of thousands of workers protested for over a week near Dhaka demanding wage hikes. In July, alarmed over the labor unrest, representatives from 12 major brand producers and retailers pressed the government to act on the workers’ demands. Yet Prime Minister Wazed refused to raise the minimum wage.

This week workers belonging to the Garment Sramik Trade Union rallied anew in Dhaka. They have raised the ante: besides wage increases they are demanding job security.

On the other side of the globe, hundreds of farmworkers in Andalucia — Spain’s largest farming region where agrarian disputes in the 1930s sparked the Spanish Civil War — have begun occupying and planting crops in idle state agricultural lands. They even raided two supermarkets for food.

Hundreds of them have been marching through the villages since August, protesting that the recession has put them out of work while so much land has been left uncultivated.

Chancing upon a vacant luxurious estate owned by a duke living in Seville (Andalucia’s capital), the farmworkers broke in and occupied it symbolically for 24 hours. Their action, the group leader explained, was meant “to denounce a social class who leaves such places to waste.”

Since March a group has occupied and grown vegetables in a government-owned farm in Somonte. Last month another group occupied another farm, owned by the defense ministry, for 18 days. But the police drove them away before they could grow any crop.

Remarked a woman farmworker: “In only a few months, we’ve already shown that, if people are given the right to work the land, they will be able to forget poverty and joblessness and take pride instead in forming a self-sufficient community.”

The Somonte occupy-and-cultivate group action is similar to what retrenched hacienda farmworkers in Bago City (Negros Occidental) have been doing. Since December 2008, they have camped out on a wide uncultivated section of the hacienda and planted rice, vegetables and tubers to feed their families.

When hacienda security guards and armed goons attempted to evict them, they resisted and fought back. I personally visited them there to see how I could help. With support from fellow farmworkers, other people’s organizations, youth activists and church people, the farmworkers have prevailed. And their families are eating.

By Satur C. Ocampo; Courtesy: The Philippine Star

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Aug 182012
The novel Fifty Shades of Grey may have Britain’s housewives experiencing something of a sexual renaissance, but women’s steamiest thoughts are still tame compared with the male imagination, scientists claim.

While men spend more time thinking about sex than their partners overall, a survey found that women have more fantasies which could be described as “pleasant”.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to occupy their minds with wilder and more exploratory ideas such as “swinging” with other couples or taking part in an orgy, researchers found.

Women more frequently imagined being forced into submission in a sexual scenario — but they also took less enjoyment from the idea than men.

Nieves Moyano Muñoz, who led the study, said: “These fantasies are not very frequent but compared with men, women have more. But they experience it in a more negative way.”

The researchers, from the University of Granada, questioned 2,250 Spanish people who had been in a heterosexual relationship for at least six months about the frequency and nature of their sexual thoughts.

Their results, published in the Anales de Psicología journal, showed that almost all participants had experienced a pleasant sexual fantasy at some point in their life, and 80 per cent had also had a negative one.

The team said there were not “significant” differences between men’s and women’s racy thoughts, but that there were subtle differences between the sexes in the scenarios that they imagined.

Although men had more sexual fantasies in total, women reported having “pleasant” fantasies “a few” times a month — a greater frequency than men.

Men were more likely to admit having either positive or negative thoughts about experimental activities, such as “being promiscuous”, “being a swinger” or “participating in an orgy”, although most said that they only had such fantasies once a year or at some point in their life.

Ms Muñoz added: “These are not very frequently experienced — in normal life men and women have very similar fantasies. They have this type of fantasy about one or two times in their whole life.”

Sexual submission was the least enjoyable fantasy among women, with most imagining it at least once in their life, while for men the most negative thoughts involved homosexual activities.

The survey was aimed at helping determine whether unpleasant fantasies harm the development of healthy sexual behaviour.

Researchers pointed out that imagining sex could be helpful in some ways, for example by encouraging sexual desire or arousal.

They suggested that therapists should not only ask whether or not people have fantasies about sex, but also consider their attitude towards them.

(By ; Courtey: The Telegraph)

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Aug 182012

Friday, 17 August 2012: For many women, pregnancy can be a monumentally joyous occasion. There are lots of positive things that expectant mothers can look forward to, but most would agree that morning sickness isn’t one of them. Fortunately there is a psychologist out there that may have found a cure to the ailment in sperm, specifically through ingesting sperm.

I have little doubt that someone out there right now is pondering to themselves “How can a person ingest sperm?” To put it tactfully, if you have to ask that question you’re not old enough to be reading this article.

Believe it or not, there is actually someone out there encouraging pregnant women suffering from morning sickness to perform oral sex to combat feeling sick. The hypothesis stems from the belief that women are sometimes sick during the first trimester of pregnancy because their bodies view the embryo as a foreign object that doesn’t belong in their body.

It is almost as if their bodies are having a strong negative reaction to the man’s sperm. The hypothesis (can’t stress it enough that it’s only a hypothesis) suggests that since the sperm a woman digests is the same chemical makeup as the sperm used to fertilize the mother’s egg, a woman could potentially ward off morning sickness by simply increasing her sperm intake. Yes, I did just say “increasing her sperm intake.” Try not to laugh.

The father of this theory (see what I did there?) is a man by the name of Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at SUNY-Albany. According to an article for the NY Daily News, Gallup specializes in human reproductive competition and behavior.

According to a Daily Mail article, Gallup is arguing that the more sperm a woman consumes while pregnant, the more tolerance that woman’s body will develop for the sperm in general, thus eliminating the nauseating feeling commonly referred to as morning sickness (which, by the way, does not only occur in the morning). There is somewhat of a necessary stipulation: the woman must perform the intimate act on the father of the child she is carrying, otherwise performing the act defeats the purpose. The genetic makeup of the sperm taken in orally must match that of the sperm taken in during normal sexual intercourse in order for the pregnant woman to build an immunity of sorts.

The psychologist’s reasons for urging women who are “with child” to engage in this highly personal activity are based off of research from the National Center for Biotechnology information, according to a CBS News article. That research made a correlation between oral sex and preeclampsia, a disorder that causes high blood pressure in expectant mothers and protein to be found in their urine, and states oral sex may decrease a pregnant woman’s chances of getting the condition. On the other hand, it is important to mention that Gallup’s theory, which tells soon-to-be mothers to perform fellatio on the baby’s father in order to build immunity to sperm, has never been tested.

Do you think it is a coincidence that the person behind this theory is a man? I think not, however, I’ll let you all decide.


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