India to Recognize Third Gender

hijra-dance-chhath-festival-strand-road-kolkata-2013-11-09-source-wikipedia.jpg

INDIA - A decision was made on 15 April 2014 in favor of the 3 million Indians who are transgender. On legal forms, there is now a third category marked either "transgender" or "other." The Indian constitution orders against gender discrimination and more and more people are beginning to realize that that includes more than just men and women.

Transgender is defined as someone who has acquired physical characteristics of the opposite sex, who identify as neither male or female, or who present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

Among other things, transgendered people now have the legal right to adopt children and to have the same jobs as non-transgendered people. Before the law, the majority was either restricted to "show" careers -- singing and dancing -- or to a life of begging or prostitution. Now if needed they can be included in welfare programs that help provide jobs, education and healthcare.

Public toilets for the transgender community as well as transgender-specific health services are now available. India has also launched public awareness campaigns to fight the stigma against transgender people.

Since the ruling, 28,000 people have chosen to identify themselves as "other" on voter registration forms.

Follow Sarah on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @SJJakubowski

Related articles

Malala Yousafzai, Two Years After Attempted Assasination

Malala Yousafzai, Oval Office 11 October 2013, Photo Courtesy of White House

Malala Yousafzai, Oval Office 11 October 2013, Photo Courtesy of White House

UNITED STATES - On October of 2012, 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot for speaking up about women's rights to education. As an inside correspondent with BBC, subject of two documentaries and frequent guest in newsrooms, Yousafazai was becoming the poster child of youth activism and women's rights. A Taliban gunman attempted to silence her and to set an example. She was hospitalized for three months.

The attack failed to curb her passion for political activism and, with international support, she continued her crusade for education soon after her recovery. Instead of silencing her and the movement, the attack raised global awareness with spokespeople from the US, the UK and Canada showing their outrage and support.

The next time she spoke publicly was on 12 July 2013 -- her birthday. She celebrated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City where she spoke to a global audience about the role youth can play in ensuring worldwide education. She supported the Global Education First Initiative, which aims to have all school-age children, particularly girls, in school by year 2015. The day became known as Malala Day.

Another namesake is the Malala Fund, which has raised $7 million to spend on education projects in remote areas of Pakistan.

The most recent effort is the We Are Silent Campaign, to be held on April 17. She encourages the world to take a 24-hour vow of silence in honor of 31 million girls worldwide who are denied an education.

Since the shooting, Time magazine featured her in 2013 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She made history as the youngest nominee for the (2013) Nobel Peace Prize, and was nominated again in 2014. With help from journalist Christina Lamb she's written a memoir entitled "I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and was Shot by the Taliban." She's gone to Buckingham Palace and the White House and plans to continue her career in political activism.

AcroYoga - A Language of Perfect Union

acro-yoga-in-copacabana-3-photo-by-frc3a9dc3a9ric-ballart.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:43 p.m. EDT, 3 February 2014

Acro Yoga, Partner Yoga, Photo by Greg RobertsThe mission and focus of this website informs the presentation and dialogue about stories on gender relations with a particular emphasis on women’s’ rights. Consequently, we report on stories from around the world in which women are not allowed to realize their full potential either through force or circumstance.

Unfortunately, most of this aberrant and abusive behavior is perpetrated at the hands of men, though in some cases, like Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) or Leblouh, women also participate in abusing their daughters in an effort to make them conform to inhuman societal norms.

But, not every man is bad, nor every woman abused. In fact, the state of mankind is not as dire as it seems despite all our bad behavior, and millions of men and women across the globe experience healthy and loving relationships.

Balance in reporting is as important as it is in life, and the video below featuring a husband and wife practicing AcroYoga or partner yoga is a beautiful illustration of the best in us as humans. Though this is demonstrated through yoga, one need not be a practitioner to achieve the highest ideals of harmony and peace between all people as there are many paths to this destination.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL4kfGpa5E8] For some people, the path toward peace and enlightenment is achieved through religious observance and a belief in a higher power. For others it is meditation or actively living consciously by being aware of our impact on the world and other people so that we don’t accumulate negative Karma.

For others, it is a combination of all of the above and yoga. I fall into this category as I regularly practice yoga. In Western societies, most practitioners use yoga as a form of health and fitness similar to pilates which is an exercise created by Joseph Pilates to strengthen and stretch the body to achieve a strong core.

However "the traditional purpose of Yoga, has always been to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego," (Feuerstein, Georg. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice. Boston: Shambhala, 2003)

According to the Levy, “Yoga in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism means "spiritual discipline”…..It is an activity that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it is something that has evolved and changed overtime…..the exact history and origins of yoga is uncertain; however……the earliest signs of yoga appear in ancient Shamanism. Evidence of yoga postures were found on artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C.

Evidence of Yoga is found in the oldest-existing text, Rig-Veda. Rig-Veda is a composition of hymns. Topics of the Rig-Veda include prayer, divine harmony, and greater being. Yoga originally focused on applying and understanding the world. Its focus later changed to the self. Self-enlightenment became the ultimate goal.”

Though many may take umbrage, at the end of the day “When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” ~ Charles de Lint

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xECiTdgy9nE#t=93]

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Ethiopian Christmas Jan 7, 2014 | Melkam Gena!

ethiopian-cross-photo-by-ted-bobosh.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 20:00 p.m. DST, 04 January 2014

Christianity in PalestineADDIS ABBA, Ethiopia - Towards the end of each year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians begin to prepare for their holiday seasons.

During the last week of November until the beginning of the New Year on the Gregorian calendar, Christian families across the world prepare for cultural, regional, and national holidays that honor the best ideals of who we seek to be as humans.

In America, the end of the year is consumed with activities focused on preparing for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and finally New Year’s Eve, which concludes the annual calendar of major festivals.

Throughout the calendar year, running sometimes in synch, and at other times not close, are the major Muslim and Jewish holidays which are celebrated in accordance with the lunar calendar.

The Ethiopian calendar, also called the Ge'ez calendar, is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical calendar for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Orthodox Tewahedo churches, Eastern Catholic Church and Lutheran Orthodox Church.

It is a sidereal calendar based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar. A seven- to eight-year gap is created by the difference between the calendars results in an alternate calculation of the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. (Source: Wikipedia)

Thus, this year, the Ethiopian Christmas will be celebrated on January 7, 2014 on the Gregorian calendar. The Ethiopian holiday is not known as Christmas, but Lidet. Other names include Gena and Qiddus Bale Wold. As part of the tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus, Ethiopian tradition holds that one of the Wise Men who visited Jesus came from Ethiopia.

Christmas Eve features prominently in Ethiopian celebration, just as it does with all followers of Jesus. One difference is that Ethiopians fast on the day before Christmas, and then at dawn on the morning of Gena, the Ethiopian name for the holiday; people arise and dress in white.

Women wear dresses called Habesha Gemis, while the men complete their attire with a type of shawl called Netela, worn by both men and women. Then the entire family attends the early morning mass that starts at 4.00 a.m and officially commences the days events.

Following the mass, families go home to celebrate the holiday and participate in traditional festivities to break the fast. Similar to the American holiday, the Ethiopian Christmas is filled with happiness, the presence of family, food, and songs. But most of all, it is a time to reflect and thank God for all that He has done for us and will through His beneficent kindness, continue to do for us throughout the coming year.

Melkam Gena!

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Steve McCurry | Through His Eyes

palazzo-ducale-genova-by-steve-mccurry-photo-courtesy-of-matteo-galiazzo.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:48 a.m. DST, 23 December 2013

McCurry took his most recognized portrait, "Afghan Girl", in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the National Geographic magazine and her face became famous as the cover photograph on the June 1985 issue. . The identity of the "Afghan Girl" remained unknown for over 17 years until McCurry and a National Geographic team located the woman, Sharbat Gula, in 2002.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC6b6X-Tf_E] McCurry continued to cover armed conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, Lebanon Civil War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines, the Gulf War and the Afghan Civil War. His work has been featured worldwide in magazines and he is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1986.

McCurry focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face. “Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. I try to convey what it is like to be that person, a person caught in a broader landscape, that you could call the human condition.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Anti-Gay, Racist, Duck Dynasty Patriarch

phil-robertson-duck-dynasty-photo-courtesy-of-primative.jpg

Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 23:41 p.m. DST, 21 December 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Photo Courtesy of Best Movies Ever News

LOUISIANA, United States - Controversy began to stir this week when “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks during a GQ interview. Another statement has been released from the controversial interview; this time, the star addresses the black community during the pre-civil rights era.

On the show, Phil Robertson, 67, is portrayed as the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch. Over the years he’s beat substance abuse, devoted his like the God, and has become a small-screen celebrity from the backwoods of Louisiana.

During a GQ interview with Drew Magary, the star stated “…the pre-civil rights era was not bad for black people”.

GQ quoted Robertson, stating “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them.

I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field… They’re singing happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say ‘I’ll tell you what: These doggone white people’- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

According to Robertson, the African-American’s he witnessed before the civil rights movements of the 1950’s appeared happier than they do today. The Huffington Post states, “Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African-Americans in the South but upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation”. During this time, the Southern states were known for segregation and the many forms of oppression, which often included “race-inspired violence”, according to History.com notes.

Concern over Robertson’s remarks has been brought to A&E, the broadcast channel for “Duck Dynasty”. The Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP collaborated in a letter sent to the president of A&E:

“We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African-Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] -- it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.”

During the GQ interview, Robertson referred to homosexuality as a sin and continued to speak about the sexuality right in a negative light. After making headlines, A&E announced Robertson would be suspended from the show indefinitely. According to the Huffington Post, “The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network”.

Although times were very different during the pre-civil rights era, it is hard to believe Robertson thought blacks were happy, and he never witnessed the mistreatment of an African-American, whether verbal or physical. Louisiana, a Southern state known for many violent act during this time, still faces race issues today; even hosting several active Ku Klux Klan groups throughout the state of Alabama.

Broadcast stations are constantly faced with the embarrassment of their stars speaking out about their offensive experiences with African-Americans. Paula Deen, southern celebrity chef, was booted from the Food Network earlier this year, due to her use of the “N” word. CBS fired Don Imus, host of Imus in the Morning, in 2007, for his racial remarks toward the Rutgers women’s basketball team; calling them “nappy headed hoes”.

Although the Dynasty star was brought up during a time where homosexuality was not accepted, especial living in the South, it is imperative for these networks to make it clear to the small-screen stars, that these types of situations and statements are unaccepted and intolerable.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe