Women’s Rights

Lithuania Learns Important Lessons ― The Hard Way



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  WOMEN’S ISSUES  |  LGBTQ RIGHTS  |  OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  UKRAINE

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

The war in Ukraine has truly shaken everyday life in Lithuania. It has, among other things, pushed human rights issues to the background, or reframed them in a strictly military or geopolitical east-west perspective. When information about civilian women being massively and brutally raped by the occupying army reached our shores, a protest was organized at the Russian Embassy in Vilnius. The protest was very similar to the one in Estonia, where Estonian women similarly protested at the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, expressing their solidarity with Ukrainian women by placards depicting victims of sexual violence. They stood by the embassy with horribly blood painted groins and bags on their head. Lithuanian protestors echoed the image. Protesters in Lithuania also brought children’s toys and strollers with them to direct attention to the tragedies of women who got pregnant after being raped. The image was reinforced by “the red pond” because, before the protest, the performance “Swimming Through” took place, during which the famous Lithuanian swimmer Rūta Meilutytė swam across the pond near the Russian Embassy, the water of which had been colored with red dye, to remind the diplomats of the ongoing massacres and atrocities and mass murder in Ukraine.

Lithuanian women activists started organizing various forms of aid to Ukrainian women, from raising funds for mobile gynecological clinics to supplying Ukrainians with hygiene products and pregnancy terminating medication.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, LGBTQ Equal Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Comments Off on Lithuania Learns Important Lessons ― The Hard Way

Roma Heroism in Ukraine Eases Some Prejudice



OPINION  |  ROMA RIGHTS   |  WOMEN’S RIGHTS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

 

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

At the supermarket door here in Vilnius, I met Olga, a Roma woman. I was surprised that security had not chased her away, since she was begging. Even more, they brought her a chair to sit on, since Olga was pregnant. I thought to myself: “What unseen humanity of the security guards!” I have seen more than once how the begging poor were chased away even from outdoor supermarket surroundings. As I started talking to Olga, we were approached by a nice, well-to-do woman, who donated to Olga a lot of food: sausages, sweet curd snacks for children, pasta, and oil. I was again pleasantly surprised.

However, talking to Olga quickly disabused me of my illusions that perhaps there is now more good will towards the Roma. She told me about the new hardships in these years of crises, as well as about how hard it is for vulnerable people to make ends meet these days.

“Do you think I’m not ashamed to stand here with my hand stretched out?”, asked Olga in tears and added: “I have five children. What else can I do?”

It has been a long time since I asked Roma about work, especially mothers of many, because I know very well how their lives so often progress, traditionally married off in chosen matches while in their early teens and, at only say twenty years of age, a woman can be the mother of multiple children.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Comments Off on Roma Heroism in Ukraine Eases Some Prejudice

Finally, a “Feminine Government” for Lithuania



OPINION  |  WOMEN’S RIGHTS  |  FREE SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Finally, a “feminine government” for Lithuania. Having won the 2020 election, the right-wing parties formed a “feminine” government, led by Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, with liberal Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen taking the chair of the Speaker of the Seimas. One could be tempted to see this as a victory for liberalism and feminism in the Baltics, since the Social Democrats, who were in the majority for several terms, would either include no women in their government or at best, entrust to them one or two ministries of lesser importance.

Continue reading

Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Finally, a “Feminine Government” for Lithuania

Roma in Lithuania: When a Lavishly Financed Program has a 4-5% Success Rate, and Half the Inmates in Nation’s Only Women’s Prison are Roma



OPINION  |  ROMA RIGHTS   |  WOMEN’S RIGHTS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

 

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Back in 2017, I tried to acquaint the outside world, in Defending History, with some  issues concerning the “Roma Integration Program” that was initiated by the Lithuanian Government and Vilnius Municipality in 2016. I noted that the main goal of the program was to raze the Roma settlement in Kirtimai to the ground and remove the Roma that used to live there, resettling them in scattered different places through Vilnius County.

Several years have passed. We can see how this Program has impacted Roma living conditions.

“Around half of the inmates in Lithuania’s only women’s prison are Roma women—while there are only a bit more than two thousand Roma in Lithuania, less than one percent of Lithuania’s estimated population of 2,795,000 for 2021.”

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Roma in Lithuania: When a Lavishly Financed Program has a 4-5% Success Rate, and Half the Inmates in Nation’s Only Women’s Prison are Roma

Women’s Issues in Today’s Lithuania



OPINION  |  WOMEN’S RIGHTS   |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Women’s Day March in Vilnius, March 8, 2019. Vilma Fiokla Kiurė in the center, with a banner that reads “No to Fluffy Law Enforcement!!!” Banner on the right reads “We Love Men, but Politics Needs Some Competence”: a reversal of (then) Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ comment on why there were no women in the previous Cabinet.

In many respects women in Lithuania are in a far better situation than in our neighboring countries, Poland to the west , and Belarus to the east. In Poland, major efforts are underway to criminalize women for their personal reproductive choices. In Belarus, women stand in the front ranks of the struggle against Lukashenko’s regime. The imagery of Belarusian women and their stalwart protest that reaches us here, in Lithuania, is a powerful one.

We, on the other hand, live in relative peace and quiet. We are, moreover, rightfully  congratulating ourselves on the new Cabinet that has replaced the previous all-male one. Now, the percentage of women in our Government is similar to that in other European states, where gender balance is a norm.

But while we count our blessings, we must continue to fight where there is still major discrimination. Women in Lithuania still earn 14% less, on average, than men in the same positions; women continue to suffer from domestic violence; the pandemic, according to statistics, harmed them the most, too. Women and — children.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Women’s Issues in Today’s Lithuania

A National Gang-Up on our Country’s Leading Playwright



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  WOMEN’S RIGHTS

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Marius Ivaškevičius is a famous writer, theater and cinema playwright and director who has clearly stated his opinion on the Holocaust more than once. He also contributed substantially to the 2016 Molėtai (Malát) Holocaust remembrance march. He has even criticized the naming of Škirpa Street in central Vilnius after a Nazi collaborator who called for Lithuania’s Jewish citizens to be expelled.

Once the reports that Ivaškevičius was chosen to receive the National Prize for his achievements in literature became public, a public persecution of the writer got underway with rapidity and venom. Far-right groups appealed to the prosecutor’s office not only to stop him getting the prize, but also to start a court case against him, allegedly for violating Criminal Code in his writings, turning him into a potential criminal. The pretext was Ivaškevičius’ novel Žali (The Greens), written sixteen years ago and dedicated to exploring the topic of postwar anti-Soviet resistance. The prosecutor’s office rejected the call and Ivaškevičius received the prize.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Tagged | Comments Off on A National Gang-Up on our Country’s Leading Playwright

Purveyor of Racist, Misogynist, Antisemitic, Homophobic, Nazist “Art” is Alleged to Work in Lithuania’s Economy Ministry



VILNIUS—Defending History has still had no reply to its open letter of August 2013 to the Minister of the Economy, asking him to look into multiple media reports that the pseudonymous “Zeppelinus,” Lithuania’s best-known purveyor of hate-popart on the internet is indeed a senior civil servant in his own ministry. The issue came to the fore once again in recent weeks with his “appeal” to the head of the Jewish community, and his latest production following a recent controversial conference (conference report).

The following are samples of his “art” in the service of racism, misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism alongside glorification of Nazism. Samples can readily be found for other prejudices, including anti-Polish and anti-Russian hate. Hopefully human rights organizations will continue to counter such materials, first and foremost by establishing, in partnership with law enforcement, the identity of the purveyor of the hate materials, and the answer to the question about alleged continued high employment in a government ministry. An earlier smaller sampling with full translation is available here. Full disclosure: This journal’s editor has on occasion been a target of Mr. Zeppelinus, too.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, LGBTQ Equal Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, UŽGAVĖNĖS (SHROVETIDE), Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Purveyor of Racist, Misogynist, Antisemitic, Homophobic, Nazist “Art” is Alleged to Work in Lithuania’s Economy Ministry

The Neo-Nazis Hate the Feminists, Too



Protesters against ultranationalist groups must face police and prosecutors

O P I N I O N

by Lina Žigelytė

 

Lina Zigelyte

Lina Žigelytė

A spectre is haunting Lithuania — the spectre of feminism. All the powers of far-right Lithuania (this includes also far-rightists who know how to present themselves as center-right) have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: puritans and watchful police officers, bloggers and self-described patriots.

The word “feminist” has become the most recent label to define the enemy of the state. This is because grassroots strategies — theatrical protests, DIY media, art projects, and solidarity with social minorities — are rapidly changing the landscape of local feminism. What is important, these strategies also invigorate the broader fight against neo-Nazism.

Continue reading

Posted in EU, Film, Human Rights, LGBTQ Equal Rights, Lina Žigelytė, News & Views, Opinion, Symbology, Women's Rights | Comments Off on The Neo-Nazis Hate the Feminists, Too

An International Appeal from the Head of the Ukrainian Independent Council of Jewish Women



O P I N I O N

by Eleonora Groisman

The author is president of The Ukrainian Independent Council of Jewish Women, and edits the newspaper Jewish Kiev. Authorized translation into English provided by the author is by Mr. Valery Novoselsky (executive editor of Public Diplomacy Network and of Roma Virtual Network). See: 

http://evreiskiy.kiev.ua
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jewish_Daily_News/message/92
http://www.facebook.com/evreiskiy.kiev.ua


Appeal to the representatives of international governmental and non-governmental organizations by a group of social organizations and citizens of different countries concerned about the growth of antisemitism in Ukraine:

In the 2012 elections to the Verkhovna Rada the far-right nationalist Svoboda party passed. To date, the Svoboda fraction has 37 parliament members, within the total of 450 parliament members.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Eleonora Groisman, Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Ukraine, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on An International Appeal from the Head of the Ukrainian Independent Council of Jewish Women