The ‘butterflies’ above refers to the fact that on his travels around the British and Belgian colonial empires, and his sojourn in parts of Latin America investigating the brutalities of various rubber companies, Casement collected local lepidoptera (butterflies) for the Natural History Museum. This is a London-based institution, he may have felt it another part of his imperial duty to do such. The London University School of Slavonic and East European and the School of African and Oriental Studies were both a focussing of relatively disorganised studies in wartime, for wartime. The persons who ran The Empire were, as Pádraig Pearse put it, strong and wise and wary. There was nothing about their ill-gotten booty they weren’t interested in – and hanging onto, thus the centralising of knowledge about the east European and Slav world, as well as The Empire.
The ‘bones’ refers to a number of things, including Casement’s own bones. An introductory voiceover (repeated twice during the performance), quotes notes made by a bureaucrat in the course of Casement’s remains being disinterred to be repatriated to Ireland fifty years after his execution. The anonymous, disinterested, civil servant notes that, despite being told by (Pentonville) Prison personnel that the use of quicklime had been abandoned some year’s prior to Casement’s execution, there was a layer of the substance in the grave. It had been poured over the body, which was in a winding sheet, and had destroyed the flesh, and, half a century on, most of Casement’s bones.
Dance is not a medium designed to convey specific messages – there are times in this show when it is difficult to work out where in Casement’s career we are. There are no obvious references to his long sojourn as a minor imperial Consular bureaucrat. There are to his encounter with King (’of the Belgians’) Leopold – pictured as an un-regal, almost gangsterish figure. (He spent most of his life in a Paris hotel, living with his ‘mistress’, his devout Spanish wife lied with their children in the draughty Laeken Palace in Brussels.
This ‘show’ is well worth seeing, despite some obvious problems – most dancers have fine ‘toned’ bodies – most monarchs and bureaucrats don’t. There are moments when the cast appear in ensemble, at one or two points not overdressed, when most of the audience’s attention inevitably wanders away from the grisly climax of this story.
Which is, of course, Casement’s brutal execution.
This Project is one of the better – and unusual – products of the centenary commemorations of 1916.
This show was part of Belfast International Arts Festival 2016. In 1916, British peer Roger Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison and was shown in The MAC, Belfast on 13 October 2016
Free Dr. Homa Hoodfar, a 65-year-old professor of anthropology, who holds Irish citizenship was arrested in Iran on 6 June following months of questioning by the Revolutionary Guards. She is being held in the notorious Evin Prison with no access to her family or lawyer, and is likely in solitary confinement. She is a prisoner of conscience. Dr. Homa Hoodfar is a prominent and respected scholar and anthropologist at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, whose decades-long teaching and research activities relate to development, culture, gender, and electoral politics. She holds Canadian, Irish and Iranian citizenship.
Dr. Homa Hoodfar was arrested on 6 June in Tehran after being verbally summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor in Tehran’s Evin Prison. She went to the prison with her lawyer who was not allowed to be present when she was taken away for questioning by officials from the Revolutionary Guards. When her lawyer requested to see Dr. Homa Hoodfar, after several hours had passed, prison officials told him to go home. They told him he was no longer allowed to see her because she was a “security prisoner”. All subsequent attempts by her family and lawyer to see her, including giving her personal items such as clothes and medication, have been denied by officials. Though she has not been heard from since her arrest, Amnesty International believes that she may be held in Section 2-A of Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, as is common practice for such detainees.
Irish citizen, Dr. Homa Hoodfar travelled to Iran on 11 February primarily to visit her family but also to conduct historical research on women’s participation in elections since 1906. On the evening of 9 March, the day before she was due to leave Iran, officers from the Counter Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards raided her home and confiscated her personal belongings, including three passports, mobile phone and computer. For the next three days, she was repeatedly summoned for questioning. During these interrogations, in which she was not allowed to have a lawyer present, she was asked about her work and about the emails that the authorities had found in her computer. Her interrogators also asked her questions such as “Are you a feminist?” and “What is feminism?”
Dr. Homa Hoodfar has a neurological condition called myasthenia gravis, which is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that affects the nerves and muscles, causing certain muscles to become weak. Her family has not been allowed to take her the medication she needs to help control the symptoms. There are serious concerns that while in detention she may not receive the specialized medical care she needs for a neurological condition.
Research is not a crime. No one should be targeted for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty International considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience.
Join our call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar.
There has never been a documented case in which HIV was transmitted via saliva. But Willie Campbell, who is HIV positive, has been behind bars for nearly a decade and is serving a 35-year sentence for spitting at a Dallas police officer. According to the ruling, Campbell’s saliva was a deadly weapon, and spitting at the officer was akin to using a firearm.
In 2008, Daniel Allen, who is also HIV positive, bit his neighbor during a fight and was subsequently arrested and charged — with bioterrorism. Allen faced a possible 28-year prison sentence before the charges were thrown out.
That same year, Patrice Ginn was sentenced to eight years behind bars on charges that she didn’t tell her partner she had HIV. There was conflicting testimony at the trial about whether or not she told him; he brought the charges only after their relationship ended. Ginn’s partner never actually contracted HIV.
These are just three examples of how old laws still on the books all over the United States — laws whose very premises are contradicted by science — are still getting HIV-positive people arrested and sent to prison. Many of the behaviors that are criminalized have almost no chance of transmitting the virus.
“We’re not talking about cases from 10 or 20 years ago,” said Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy. “People are being arrested and prosecuted right now.”
At least 80 HIV-positive people have been prosecuted for having consensual sex, spitting on people, or biting people in the last two years alone, according to a report by the Center for HIV Law and Policy — and Hanssens says those are just the people of whom the center became aware. Thirty-four states have HIV criminalization laws, and even states without HIV-specific laws have been known to prosecute people with HIV.
Almost all of these laws were written shortly after HIV/AIDS was discovered in the 1980s. In some states, it’s a felony for a person with HIV to share a sex toy, spit on someone, or put their finger in someone’s ear, Hanssens says.
“These really came from the fear and stigma of the ’80s, when we knew very little about HIV,” said Jay Brown, director of research and public education at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) .
According to watchdog groups, criminal charges associated with HIV haven’t let up as the decades have passed, even though the retrovirus has become better understood and drugs to treat and prevent it have gotten better, says Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s top lawyer. In the 1980s, contracting the virus was a relatively swift death sentence with no medications to speak of.
“Today, we’re in a radically different environment,” Warbelow said, explaining that decades in prison doesn’t warrant the so-called crime of transmission, if transmission indeed takes place at all. “Individuals who are treating their HIV are living pretty close to normal life spans. It’s no longer debilitating. But people still perceive HIV as it was when they first learned about it.”
There are 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though about 12.8 percent of them don’t know they’re HIV positive. People can take a daily cocktail of antiretroviral drugs that can make their viral loads — the amount of virus in their blood — undetectable and virtually impossible to transmit. People at risk for contracting HIV can also take an antiretroviral drug called Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to help avoid infection.
“We talk about HIV now as a chronic disease that needs chronic management and chronic attention much the same way we think about diseases we’re more familiar with, like diabetes,” said Dr Wendy Armstrong, professor of medicine at Emory University and vice chair of the national HIV Medical Association.
Still, people with HIV must take drugs daily and undergo routine blood work and other testing to be sure their viral loads are under control and they don’t have any other health problems. Drug side effects can include diarrhea, headaches, and nerve problems in the short-term, as well as long-term blood sugar, cholesterol, and fat storage problems. Older patients may also have bone density issues and a buildup of cellular waste that can lead to liver failure.
This summer, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a survey in Georgia, which has the fifth-highest number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the country, and found that a large minority of people held several misconceptions about the way HIV is spread. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they thought HIV could be transmitted by kissing. Seventeen percent thought it could be spread by sharing a drinking glass, and 12 percent thought it could be transmitted by sitting on a toilet seat previously used by someone with HIV.
None of this is true.
In nine states, it is a felony for someone with HIV to have sexual contact without disclosing his or her HIV status, but most people don’t know the law until they get charged, Hanssens says — and many charges are brought after a break-up of some kind. Only some states require plaintiffs to prove that the HIV-positive partner intended to transmit the virus.
“In a number of cases, it seems pretty clear that the complaining witness knew about the person’s HIV,” she said.
Armstrong says one of her patients who’d been raped was afraid to report it to police because she feared being arrested for failing to disclose to her rapist that she was HIV-positive.
“She was concerned if her HIV-positive status came out, in fact, she would be considered a perpetrator in that setting because of the criminalization laws,” Armstrong said, acknowledging it’s an extreme example, but one that illustrates the fear the laws can generate.
Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, which are made up of physicians, health workers, and scientists, have come out against the laws, which they say discourage finding out one’s HIV status and encourage those who know they’re HIV positive to keep it a secret.
“Criminalization is not an effective strategy for reducing transmission of infectious diseases and in fact may paradoxically increase infectious disease transmission,” they said in a March statement. “We, therefore, urge state policy makers to promote public health by revising statutes that criminalize transmission of diseases, such as HIV infection, viral hepatitis, and other communicable diseases.”
While there is a movement to get the laws repealed, removing existing laws from the books is no easy task, says Boston University School of Law professor George Annas, who chairs the school’s Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights.
“Legislators just hate to repeal stuff because they’re afraid to be blamed if something happens,” he said, pointing out there’s still a law prohibiting “fornication” in Massachusetts that no one wants to repeal.
HIV-positive activist Josh Robbins, who runs ImStillJosh.com, helped develop an iPhone app called Disclosur+ he says can be used as proof of disclosure in court. Before engaging in consensual sex, an HIV-positive person can bring up the app, which displays the phrase “I’m HIV positive,” and the HIV-negative partner can tap to confirm that he or she understands. The app records a few seconds of soundless video to prove the disclosure and acknowledgment occurred.
Robbins says he finds existing HIV criminalization laws terrifying because cases involving disclosure often amount to court battles of he-said, she-said.
“You just have to think about in a jury situation, when I go to court and you are standing there accusing me and you’re crying and pointing your finger at me, and I’m the HIV-positive person,” he said. “I’m always going to get convicted no matter what. No one is going to believe me because of the stigma with HIV.”
A recent book and study have revealed what life is really like for LGBT inmates in UK prisons.
With an estimated 10,000 gay men in prisons across England and Wales, researchers say the study was conducted in an attempt to gain a true insight into the experiences LGBT go through during their time behind bars.
And even though a substantial amount of “actively engage in consensual or coercive sexual relations with fellow prisoners”, homophobia is still rife.
The Prison Service says that it dissuades sexual relationships, saying it “does not condone or facilitate sexual relationships between prisoners” – however every prison in the country has a “condom policy”, with staff claiming that they are encourage to follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy.
However, this ambiguous approach means that accounts of what prison life is actually like for gay men and women are almost impossible to come by.
Due to this rampant hypocrisy, the Howard League for Penal Reform – who were asked to conduct an independent commission to review sexual conduct in prison earlier this year – had to gain evidence from former prisoners, rather than serving ones, as requests by researchers to speak to current inmates were blocked by the Ministry of Justice.
Accounts varied, with one gay man stating he was forced to live under the “protection” of another prisoner and subjected to “sexual torture” over a prolonged period.
“I’ve wanted to talk about it for a long time,” he told the researcher, “but the means were not there. Because nobody wants to know, nobody wants to hear about this horrendous, horrendous abuse.”
However, another recalled a much more positive experience, telling the researcher that, “prison was a fabulous sexual experience.”
“I’ve never had so much sex. I was very popular, and I loved it.”
Others said they had sexual partners who were outwardly “macho” and “anti-gay” and were sustaining relationships with wives or girlfriends through letters and visits – these were “jail gays”, they said, “gay on the inside”, but apparently straight on the outside.
Journalist Erwin James – a convicted murderer who served 20 years in prison – writes about his own experience The Guardian: “As the years passed I became acutely aware of how painful, destructive and damaging the privation of opportunities for healthy sexual expression can be for prisoners.
“Gay men ashamed of being gay, straight men feeling forced to pretend to be anti-gay.”
He also highlighted the struggle for trans people in prison, who “were already struggling to come to terms with their own complexities, left to the mercy of an exaggerated macho culture, trying to cope with being objects both of derision and desire.”
However, James and others hope a “unique and enlightening” new book about LGBT prison experiences – written by prisoners and staff – may finally bring about a change in legislation and approach concerning LGBT prisoners.
Inside and Out, was the brainchild of the prison arts intervention and community inclusion manager of HMP Parc in south Wales, Phil Forder – himself a gay man who came out at work five years ago.
“I asked them [the prisoners] to write their stories in the privacy of their cells and bring them to the group,” Mr Forder said.
“It was incredibly moving to see how much similarity there was, and the support and understanding generated as a result was obvious.”
His boss at the prison, director Janet Wallsgrove, said: “This book is a statement – it’s saying that we at Parc recognise and support everyone’s right to be respected as an individual.
“It’s both about tackling homophobia and challenging people who express views that are unacceptable and about getting people to feel comfortable with themselves and more motivated to buy into a rehabilitative culture in prison and in society.”
In 3 days, two Moroccan men could get 3-year jail terms – just for being gay.
Join a global outcry to free Lahcen and Mohsine.