A conversation with Essar Batool, co author of the book, Do you remember Kunanposhpora? Essar Batool works to develop leadership among young women and volunteers with Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, documenting human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. There have been over 60,000 cases of documented cases of torture in Indian administered Kashmir. Kuman and Poshpora are twin villages in Indian administered Kashmir. In 1991, 31 women were gang raped by the 4th Rajpuntana Rifles regiment of the Indian Army. No conviction have been made, despite survivors launching a new case in 2013. Do you remember Kunanposhpora? documents the stories, the horrors and the dignity of these women as they search for justice. This interview first aired on APEX Express, KPFA.
Recently, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a global emergency. Most cases of the mosquito-borne virus have occurred in Central and South America. Zika virus is believed to be linked to microcephaly in pregnant women, a condition where babies are born with small heads and often have neurological disorders. A group of Argentinian doctors believe that increased microcephaly in Brazil is not from Zika virus, but from a Larvicide manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical. Recently, the government of El Salvador issued a recommendation that women not become pregnant until 2018 to control the increase of microcephaly. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador and access to birth control is extremely limited. We discuss the implications with Suyapa Portillo, assistant professor of Chicana studies at Pitzer College.
Justin Chin, an award winning San Francisco based poet, died the day before Christmas at age 46. On APEX Express, we pay tribute to Justin Chin. In a world of very smart people, Justin was often the smartest. His style was vicious, wounded, cynical, and mournful, and he was among the the great poets. There are few gnarled fangs left in this toothless world. Few had a bite like Justin Chin. We are in conversation with Kirk Read and Philip Huang. This first aired on APEX Express.
On APEX we chat with Jeena Lee Walker, a former High School teacher at the School of the Arts, Imagination and Inquiry, who was fired after administrators stated that her curriculum about the Brooklyn Five could “rile up black students” and potentially lead to “riots.” Jeena Lee Walker created a unit that featured a documentary about how the 5 young men of color dubbed the Central Park 5 were wrongfully sentenced and convicted for a rape they did not commit. Jeena Lee Walker recently filed a case in Manhattan Federal Court, against the Department of Education and several school administrators. Check out the conversation that aired on APEX Express.
The woman next to me at the Vietnamese stand sent her food back because there was no curry powder in the curry. I wanted to say, I never put curry powder in my curry. I know nothing about making Vietnamese curry. In my curry, I use fresh garlic and ginger, cumin powder, and a dash of cinnamon. Curry powder in curry reminds me of college, where we used potent spices to overpower college budget food—pasta bought on Safeway sale, yellow kale, ramen noodles, and canned tomatoes. I almost told the woman about how I learned to cook curry from my mother who recorded the recipe from my grandmother. I wanted to explain that how I feel influences the way I cook, unlike my mother who follows the recipe with measured precision. But I didn’t say any of this. I sipped my pho enjoying the lime and cilantro—the perfect blend.
From mothering a child to mourning one, three women share stories of steadfastness and resistance.
Lidia Rimawi wanted a son. But her husband is a political prisoner, serving a 25-year sentence in an Israeli prison, and will be 50 before he’s released.
So she did the only thing she could think of under the circumstances: She smuggled his sperm out of the prison.
Thirty-seven-year-old Lidia lives in Beit Rima outside the village of Nabih Saleh in the occupied West Bank. It is the site of regular Friday vigils and Lidia sometimes brings her son, a round-faced boy with a shock of black hair. For her family, the birth of Majd and his daily growth is an act of liberation. Despite the odds, Lidia’s family continues to grow.
Priya had imagined that on her business trip to San Francisco, she would take a photo by the Golden Gate Bridge and go to a strip club in Chinatown. One of her housemates back in college swore by the Chinatown strip club and the dim sum next door. Priya thought that seeing the almost naked women, with all those men watching, might bite back the depression that sucked her sex drive away. Priya wanted to be wanted.
But instead of going to the strip club, Priya spent her afternoon off at the Palo Alto IKEA, contemplating what piece of flimsy furniture might better hold her files. Any purchase over $50 would be shipped back to her condo in Boston for free. She found a blonde side-by-side cabinet that would be perfect for Rico and her. Priya handled everything at their house—she paid the bills, coordinated luncheons with Rico’s parents, and even set his outfits out while he showered in the mornings. On the subway ride home every night, she texted him to see where to order take out from.
The alarm sounded on her phone. It was 8:00 p.m. back home, time for Rico to take his vitamins. She sent a quick text, reminding him, added a heart, and bought the IKEA files before heading back to the convention.
Priya’s contract with Takeda Pharma brought her to the convention in San Francisco. Well they’d called it San Francisco, but really it was the Crowne Plaza in San Mateo.
The dinners at these things were the worst. So many white men with knuckle hair, bad breath, and drooping earlobes. Priya wondered if these were prerequisites for management. Chuck was the youngest at her table. As if the inspirational speakers were not painful enough, they assigned seats, forcing Priya to endure the same tiresome conversation for three consecutive nights. At least Chuck flirted with her shamelessly. His uninhibited interest in Priya made his oafishness cute.
Priya and Chuck were the only two that were unbanded. But what Chuck did not know, what almost no one knew, was that Priya was married.
The silk dress that Priya wore to the convention dinner showed the curve of her shoulder blades and exposed her back. When Chuck leaned in she thought he might see the top of her nipple. What was there to see anyway? Priya was no more than an ironing board—thin and flat-chested. The dress did its part in concealing the dark spot over her heart—a brand left from working as an executive in the advertising industry for the last three years. It was long enough to get her salary into the six-figure range—earning enough money to put her sister through grad school and pay for her Grandmother’s knee surgery back in Mumbai.
Chuck grew bold as the talk on leadership continued. He’d made a special point of standing up and pulling out the chair next to him for Priya to sit in when she arrived at dinner. Priya wasn’t used to this type of attention. In high school, her beak of a nose and complete lack of breasts made her invisible to boys. She was one of those goodie-two shoes, never in trouble, always at the top of her class.
Something changed when she got to college. Men noticed her.
The speaker at the convention was some CEO who looked like an overdrawn Bill Clinton, wearing a bow tie. His claim was that what made a great leader was the first follower. “A leader without a follower was no more than a crazy person,” the speaker said, showing a slide of a man dancing by himself without a shirt.
Priya knew that advertising wasn’t about leadership; it was about manipulation. The truth didn’t matter if people followed along.
Chuck picked at his gums with a toothpick then put his arm around the back of Priya’s chair. His fingertips touched her bare skin.
He bought her wine from the bar. On the third glass, he put his hand on her thigh and squeezed, pushing up just enough so that she knew where he was going. Priya could have swatted him away. Instead, she pressed her legs together, but that only made the throbbing in her clit stronger. It was a sensation she thought was lost. She thought of her husband, Rico: usually thinking of Rico would be enough to kill the moment.
She’d met Rico in college. He was the tawny type that stuttered when they first spoke. They didn’t start dating until a year after she graduated college. They had the same circle of friends, or rather Rico was on the inside of the circle that Priya shuffled around. He brought her to fancy dinners, packed wine and cheese picnics, and took her to the coast. When they were together, Priya’s afternoons and nights were all accounted for— gallery openings, parties, boating, and vacations.
The first time she had sex with Rico was thrilling with newness, despite his awkwardness. Rico lost the condom inside of her. He hadn’t known he had to hold onto it when he pulled out.
Priya took the morning after pill and then got shot up with Depo-Provera. Still, she didn’t let Rico cum inside of her. At twenty-four, there was no way she was going to get pregnant.
When Priya moved in with Rico, the nightmares from back home still gripped her sleep. Priya got a cat that bit his back bald and she started antidepressants. The yellow pills took her dreams away.
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In conversation with Laila El Haddad, journalist, social activist, mother and author of Gaza Mom, a book on Palestine, politics, parenting and everything in between.
March 11, 2015 marked the four-year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which caused the meltdown of nuclear reactors. We speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action Japan about the continued contamination and cover-up in Fukushima. This interview first aired on APEX Express.
On APEX Express we speak with Leslee Udwin, the director of India’s Daughter, a new documentary of the 2012 brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a Dehli bus who died from the injuries caused from the assault. The film sparked massive debate: India banned it and many feminists critique the work. Padmalatha Ravi, Indian film maker and journalist, discusses her response within the context of India’s feminist movement. We also speak with the film director, Leslee Udwin, about her experience inside the jails, speaking with convicted rapists.