Monday, March 16, 2009

South-Korea's AIDS nonsense

Apparently in Jecheon in North Chungcheong Province, South-Korea, an AIDS-fear epidemic has broken out. Granted, South-Korea - like most parts of this world - has been all AIDS-fearish for the last couple of decades, still I do - as always - claim the right to rant about... call it an activist's prerogative if you will.

Okay short version to this latest episode: A cabdriver - who has tested positive for HIV - was arrested, and I quote, on suspicion of acting as a mediator in spreading HIV this Friday, ironically Friday the 13th. The guy went to sex workers, but also had sex with others... specifically, and I quote, ordinary housewives and others.

Now he did admitted on having unprotected sex. Bad? Yes, very. However he told this to the police after he actually was arrested and thus after the warrant was issued... Conclusion he still was arrested because of having sex with someone else, not for having unprotected sex.

Punchline: he got arrested cause he is HIV-positive and apparently in South-Korea you are not allowed to have any sex life then or you will be arrested as a mediator in spreading HIV, whatever that means...

Okay, a bad case of criminalization of HIV-positive people - duhh! no need to spell it out, says you... some of you at least... I hope and pray.

Oh and yeah, in this specific article they go on to quote an expert:

...the likelihood of catching HIV from unprotected sexual activity with someone who is HIV-positive is a mere 0.5 percent. "Since Jeon had been taking drugs to control the virus, the odds could be even lower,"

Ah! great incentive to start having safe sex this! and if you're quoting this, what's all this oh-dear-god-in-heaven-and-all-his-wacky-nephews we need to start prosecuting any HIV-positive people who have any sex fear??!!

And besides... in order to have consensual sex, you kinda need... well, eh... consent! You're in it together and you take responsibility together - ergo: use a frikkin' condom - and not shove it off on the other when the consequences start knocking down your door... or the fear of the consequences. Also, some education... s-e-x-u-a-l education might help with this, just a thought (please not the sarcasm here... please...)

The bottom line is: in a country with a legislation that states that all foreigners caught with HIV will be deported, without any reasonable sexual education, and where one third off all people who test positive for HIV commits suicide... well, I guess this comes off as something to be expected...

Nonetheless it makes me puke... and I really truly profoundly hate puking


Ref.

AIDS Fear Spreads in Jecheon County The Korea Times, March 15 2009.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

8 Mar: International Women's Day

In the line-up of "International Days", I'm sure there are more "Days" than there are days in the year nowadays, the 8th of March I guess is one of the better known: International Women's Day. First observed in 1909 on the 28th of February it now gained attention worldwide and recognition by the United Nations. In western society International Women's Day was observed through the 10s and the 20s but dwindled after that. Until it was revived by second wave feminists in the 60s.

Small side note of interest to some of you maybe: demonstrations marking the International Women's Day in Russia was the first stage leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Thus so far the history lesson, now let's get personal...

For me women's day would have been getting slammed into the pavement by a girl half my size (almost) and half my weight for a women's self-defense demonstration near City Hall in Seoul. You'd be surprised how far the prospect of a free lunch goes in convincing you to participate in such masochistic an event. In any case the event was called off due to people who were organizing it not really organizing anything... all I could think of was "damn, no free lunch!"

Though somehow the idea of being thrown down by a girl is enticing... Okay, I digress I digress...

But on this auspicious of days I do would like to give some critical comments to this women's movement. As a transgender woman, and a former sex worker, I guess I could say that this movement has it's issues, big issues, still... Especially here in South-Korea it seems that feminism too often equals anti-sex work, anti-let's-enjoy-having-sex (cause obviously all men who want sex are evil...), all about transgender-is-okay-but-you-aren't-women-and-you-don't-understand... Naturally I've gotten a bit of an aversion towards these radical second wave feminists that seem to dominate whatever movement here in Korea.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In Memoriam: Susanne Brink

" I would myself have preferred to stay in Korea instead of being adopted and doomed to a lifelong status as an outsider, becoming a lifelong object of racism and discrimination..." - Susanne Brink


On March 6th 2009 Susanne Brink was buried in her Swedish hometown Norrköping, after she died on January 23th 2009 at the age of 45 after a fight with cancer. Susanne Brink, a Swedish Korean adoptee, brought the issue of international adoption to attention in South-Korea in 1991 after a film on her life's story was released.

Poster of the film: Susanne Brink's ArirangThe film Susanne Brink's Arirang shocked South-Korea. It showed the story of a child sent abroad to face a childhood of abuse, discrimination and racism. With it's release the issue of international adoption from Korea gained attention for the first time in the country where international adoption itself was born.

Adoption from South-Korea started after the Korean War, when the Holt family went to Korea in 1955 and adopted eight war orphans. Since then estimates of Korean children that have been sent abroad range from 150,000, babies according to the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, and over 200,000 by other sources. Still Korea sends around 2,000 babies abroad yearly for adoption, despite being one of the top economies in the world and one of the most developed countries. A 1988 estimate shows the hard currency adoption brings to Korea: 15 to 20 million dollars a child...

Susanne Brink dedicated a lot of time to shedding light on the serious problems that international adoption entails, and on almost all accounts I agree with her... There is no need to send children abroad from a developed country such as South-Korea. The countries possesses all the resources to take care of it's own.

But the sad truth is that South-Korea, while considered a developed nation, is in many ways still struggling with obsolete traditions - and wrong traditions. Single mothers are still facing stigmatization, family planning and safer sex education are lacking extremely, centuries of Confucanism are still taking it's toll.

And international adoption cannot escape it's inherent racialized issues... children of color, exotic babies, welcomed in the arms of well meaning white parents and families in the rich and developed - civilized- West... For a price that is.


t'Was early in mornings past
I looked to the sky, to the east

Heared a soft drop of rain,
maybe it lost its way trying to find
its cloud again

I heared a soft drop of rain, falling
maybe you heared it as well


- He-Jin Kim
Seoul, March 7th 2009
Dedicated to all those who try to make sense of "home"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

rndm: "Brunch" mathematically contested

Just to vent a random thought that occurred to me today.

Earlier today I was making an appointment over the phone with a friend when something (not-physical) hit me. The premises was to meet food related during a part of the day which is non-food related (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Then there is a word for brunch, namely brunch (obvious), but what if you want to have a brunch-like meal in the afternoon? As the other Seitz mentioned when I raised this vocabularic issue: there should be... (that is: if vocabularic ever becomes a word of course)

In any case our aim was to meet at around 5-6pm, which isn't dinnertime (unless you live in the Netherlands... but then again, inhabitants of that country are not qualified to have a say in this). In Korea I guess you can say that dinner is between 7pm and 9pm, anything after 9pm is considered side dishes for the alcohol(called anju in Korean) it doesn't matter if the side dishes are equal in size and nutrition as the hypothetical dinner here: before 9pm that food is called dinner with drinks, after 9pm it's called drinks with side dishes. Lunch is more or less general everywhere, set around 12 to 1pm (I can never figure out if noon is 12 am or pm, no matter how often I wikipedia it - wikipedia is now officially a verb: to wikipedia).

Thus 5-6pm does not constitute dinner, and is several hours behind lunch, which is clearly illustrated by the following:

Lunch + circa. 6h = 7pm or 8 pm or 7pm or 8 pm - circa. 6h = lunch

So if we take into account that lunch = 12 or 1 pm + food... then we can surmise that 12 or 1 pm = lunch - food !!! (this is still completely logical and as far as I know mathematically correct!)

Okay, moving on...

If 7pm or 8pm - circa. 6h = lunch and lunch = 12 or 1 pm + food

...then 7pm or 8pm - circa. 6h = 12 or 1pm + food leading to 7pm or 8pm = 12 or 1pm + food + circa. 6h end then to 7pm or 8pm - 12 or 1pm - food = circa. 6h (again! completely accurate!!!)

But! 7pm or 8pm - 12 or 1pm is clearly 6h or 7h

Thus 6h or 7h = circa. 6h!!!

Okay so what about the food... eh...

Conclusion: I spend too much time reading xkcd and now have lost the majority of my readers. Notheless the issue remains:

...

What about linner? or lunner?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mar 3: International Sex Workers' Rights Day

The 3rd of March is observed as the International Sex Workers’ Rights Day by various sex workers' rights organizations around the world, but especially in South Asia where it originated. Together with the 17th of December - The International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers - which originated in the USA in 2003 as a memorial for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, it is one of two "days" that resonate within an international sex workers' rights movement.

The day originated in 2001 when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India at a sex worker festival organized by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (Meaning "Unstoppable Women's Synthesis Committee"), a Kolkata based sex worker group whose membership numbers upward of 60,000 sex workers and members from their communities.

Links

Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee

Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers

Network of Sex Worker Projects