On Women Bound

On Women Bound

With the fall of the Twin Towers on 9-11, suspicion of all things Muslim arose in the hearts of America; as the USA invaded Iraq, we watched aghast the video clips of burka clad women as they were caned by Taliban bullies for crimes we considered to be ridiculous: showing an ankle, or being outdoors without a male chaperon. While as a country we learned about fundamentalist customs, some of customed to flipping by in the page us explored more deeply to find out that more extreme acts of violence were going on not only in those countries that follow Islam, but in every country, across all cultures, women and girls suffer and sometimes die at the hands of their fathers, husbands, brothers, and yes, sons, in the name of honor. In adding to this sad report about women s lives, young women are abused by their own mothers when cultural tradition requires the mutilation of a pubescent s genitals in order for sex to be rendered unenjoyable, even painful, and to be able to deliver a virgin bride who will never be unfaithful.

Female genital mutilation, breast ironing with hot stones to keep the breasts from attracting the attention of boys, the abortion of female fetuses, the murder of undesired female babies, repeated gang rape at times leading to death, the rape of virgins as young as infants as an AIDS cure, the rape and impregnation of women by enemy soldiers, causing these women to be dishonored by their families and made unsuitable for marriage, giving birth to enemy babies nobody will touch. Women are buried up to their necks in the earth of a town square, and then stoned by a crowd of self righteous onlookers while slowly dying. This is a punishment for adultery. Alternatively, a woman may be stripped naked to the waist, ironic in a culture that demands head to toe coverings, and publically whipped. In the Middle East and quickly spreading to Indonesia and South Asia, acid attacks to the face are becoming commonplace, and with little available medical attention, the victims are blinded, or cannot eat properly because their mouths are distorted by scar tissue, their crimes? Perhaps not liking to do housework for a demanding mother in law, or being caught out running errands alone, or being too beautiful in the eyes of a jealous husband, or for being seen by a brother driving, or attending school to learn to read and write.

The outrage isn’t limited to countries where religion subsumes legal measures to protect women. In our  enlightened  USA, slavery continues unabated as young women are kidnapped and sold as sex slaves to Arab states, and to European countries as well.
Runaways find themselves working in brothels here, addicted to drugs by their keepers. Thailand is notorious for offering a menu of sexual services, the younger the prostitutes the more desirable they are. Poor farming families in Asia sell female children to traffickers for a small sum, enough to keep the rest of the family going for awhile. Let s not neglect to include the shipping containers left at dockside with a cargo of adolescent girls that are brought to this country for profit, left starving, sick and some dead by the men who have promised them jobs once they have reached our shores.

I believe that artists have a responsibility to enrich their cultures;

The aim of  On Women Bound  is to increase awareness of crimes against women, be they a world away or an instance of domestic violence in a couple’s kitchen. I want the paintings to start a dialogue, which w, where the whole body of other work with narratives is found.

The aim of  On Women Bound  is to increase awareness of crimes against women, be they a world away or an instance of domestic violence in a couple s kitchen. I want the paintings to start a dialogue, which will be carried from an exhibition out to others. The subject is as current as the recent rape in Delhi of a 23 year old woman, Denali, by a group of 6 young men, out for a drunken joyride. She died of extensive internal injuries 2 weeks after the attack. This horrific case and others like it is not unknown in India, where the aborting or murder of unwanted female infants has created a shortage of women so severe that unattached males roam the streets in groups, harrassing women who have made the miistake of being alone at night.
It would be a simple matter for me to choose an exploitive approach; lots of blood and torture scenes, grisly portrayals of the lives of the unfortunate. Having an audience of people struck dumb by what they re seeing is not my goal and with this in mind, I ve decided to  hint  at the violence for the most part, with the exception of several instances that need to be hung to demonstrate the emotional power of destructive acts. In juxtaposition I’m planning to illustrate scenes of victory over violence, such as groups of women protesting war in Liberia and the Congo, and Muslim women learning how to bring small industry to their outlying village in Pakistan.

Microloans, education, midwifery, methods of protection against HIV, crafts that can be sold, and digging wells to bring irrigation to famined areas are the beginning of safer lives for countless women.

Wired © Jane Caminos
Wired  Oil on linen 24″ x 30″

During the Serbo-Crotian War, it was commonplace for women and girls to be raped by enemy soldiers, who used this tactic to demoralize the population.They were notoriously successful in meeting this goal, because the conservative culture of the region would not accept the dishonored women, nor the bastard children born of these rapes, who were thought to cursed by the genes of the attackers.

Protected © Jane Caminos
  Oil on linen 24″ x 30″

In parts of war torn Africa, if a woman ventured to the outskirts of her village in search of the scarce firewood she needed for cooking, she risked being set upon by a marauding band of soldiers, who while high on speed, would rape her repeatedly, in some instances until she died, and so became useless to them as entertainment.

Acid Madonna © Jane Caminos
Acid Madonna  Oil on linen 16″ x 20″

In parts of the Middle East, SouthAsia, and Indonesia, should a male member of her family decide a woman has offended his honor by wanting an education, or is dressing provocatively, or is flirtatious, it’s acceptable to punish her by throwing acid in her face. More shockingly, if a mother in law thinks her daughter in law is lazy in completing her household chores, that mother may order a disfigurement.

La Voz © Jane Caminos
La Voz
  Oil on linen 14″ x 16″

In the mountains of Guatamala, small deposits of gold have been traditionally mined by those living there, who use the modest profits to finance their simple lifestyle. A few years ago, commercial mining companies paid off the government for the right to mine these claims, and the local inhabitants were told to abandon the sites. Instead of yielding, women banded together in protest, effectively barricading the mines. The story of their resistance reached world media, and the interlopers were forced to return the rights.

 Taketh Away © Jane Caminos
Taketh Away  Oil on linen 11″ x 14″

In famine starved Africa, lack of food and clean water have caused the deaths of a generation of children. Medical treatment is nonexistent, and what relief arrives is often stolen by profiteers. Here, a mother is resigned to the inevitable, she has lost children to starvation before and has grown numb to emotion.

 Noor No Moor © Jane Caminos
Noor No More  Oil on linen 16″ x 20″

Several years after her Iranian family had emigrated to Arizona,19 year old Noor was run over by her father for refusing to return to Iran to marry the old man he’d chosen for her. Instead, she preferred a young man close to her own age who lived locally. Noor’s mother, obedient to her husband, agreed with him that her daughter must be punished.

Vacation © Jane Caminos
Vacation  Oil on linen 24″ x 30″

In the fundamentalist Middle East, a family vacation isn’t much fun for this Muslim woman. Imagine going for a swim wearing a full burka, gloves included.

 Follow U © Jane Caminos
Follow U  Oil on linen 24″ x 30″

In parts of Sub Saharan Africa,women must travel in groups under the protection of UN forces. Should they need to travel alone, they risk being set upon by weapon toting men, who think of gang rape as a day’s entertainment.

Warning © Jane Caminos
Warning   Oil 24″ x 30″

Muslim women, living in areas where the Serbo-Croation War decimated their lives, were made to stand by as their homes and livelihoods were destroyed. If they tried to run, or dared to fight back, they could be raped, tortured, or shot, or if “unlucky”, they would suffer all three.

Time © Jane Caminos
Time   Oil 24″ x 28″

In this painting about wishful thinking, women long oppressed by their fundamentalist religious leaders gather to fightback against their lack of personal freedom.

A Leader Emerges © Jane Caminos
A Leader Emerges  Oil on linen 24″ x 30″

After ages of living in fear, and the deaths of so many who dared to try to be independent, hope is born as one brave woman steps forward as a guiding light for others to look to for hope.

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