IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-2-2014

EFUA DORKENOO, WHO CAMPAIGNED AGAINST GENITAL CUTTING

Efua Dorkenoo was acting director of women’s health at the World Health Organization in the late 1990s.

Equality Now, a London-based women’s rights organization she helped lead, said the cause was cancer.

Ms. Dorkenoo started organizations to battle genital cutting and coordinated the effort more broadly as acting director of women’s health at the World Health Organization in the late 1990s.

She wrote articles and an influential book — “Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation” (1996) — and lobbied the British government and international organizations. She also knocked on doors in London immigrant neighborhoods and African villages to spread her message.

Jane Kramer of The New Yorker, writing on the magazine’s website, called Ms. Dorkenoo the “warrior in chief” of the struggle against genital cutting of women. “She inspired a generation of feminists across the world to take up the cause of banning the procedure,” Ms. Kramer wrote.

Last year, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to recognize female genital cutting as a human rights violation. This year, the British government prosecuted it as a crime for the first time, another of Ms. Dorkenoo’s objectives.

And an African-led organization she helped found, The Girl Generation: Together to End F.G.M., began work this month. Ms. Dorkenoo (Mama Efua to her admirers) was to have led the team, which is based in London and Nairobi.

Even more encouraging for her supporters, the practice is declining in many nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund reported last year. According to Unicef, teenage girls were less likely to have been cut than older women in half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated.

In Egypt, where more women have been cut than in any other nation, surveys showed that 81 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds had undergone the practice, compared with 96 percent of women in their late 40s.

Female genital cutting involves pricking, piercing or amputating some or all of the external genitalia. Sometimes the vulva is closed, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

The practice is believed to have originated about 4,000 years ago in Egypt or the Horn of Africa. Today it is prevalent in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan and to a lesser extent in communities of immigrants around the world.

Adherents come from a spectrum of faiths, including Christianity, Islam and African religions. The practice is performed on girls, often ages 4 to 8, as part of the pathway to womanhood.

The World Health Organization says female genital cutting has no health benefits and can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating and, later in life, cysts, infections and infertility. It is said to be intended to reduce women’s sexual pleasure — and does — and to preserve a woman’s virginity until marriage.

World health authorities say that more than 125 million women living today in the countries where it is concentrated have experienced such cutting.

Efua Dorkenoo was born in Cape Coast, Ghana, on Sept. 6, 1949, one of 11 children. She emigrated to London at 17 and became a nurse. She was aware of female genital cutting, she said, but did not personally experience it. She saw the procedure firsthand in the 1970s, when she attended a birth. The mother was so badly scarred, she said, that she could not deliver her baby through natural childbirth.

Ms. Dorkenoo began campaigning against the practice in the early 1980s. After earning a master’s degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she published one of the first reports on the practice.

That helped her secure funds to establish, in 1983, the Foundation for Women’s Health and Development to promote the health of African women and girls, with a focus on abolishing female genital cutting. Britain outlawed it within two years.

Ms. Dorkenoo’s work with the foundation led to her joining the World Health Organization in 1995. As acting director of women’s health, a post she held until 2001, she coordinated national action plans against female genital cutting in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. She also persuaded the organization to classify it as a human rights violation.

Ms. Dorkenoo grew impatient with the organization’s slow bureaucratic pace and returned to advocacy at Equality Now.

She is survived by her husband, Freddie Green; her sons, Kobina and Ebow; her stepsons, Galvin and Yanik; her stepdaughter, Fummi; and a grandson.

In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II of England named Ms. Dorkenoo an honorary officer in the Order of the British Empire.

SOURCE

****************************************************************

MARCIA STRASSMAN, WIFE ON ‘WELCOME BACK, KOTTER’

Marcia Strassman and Gabe Kaplan in the 1970s TV series “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Credit ABC, via Everett Collection

She had been treated for breast cancer for seven years, said her sister, Julie Strassman, who confirmed the death.

Ms. Strassman played Margie Cutler, a nurse, on the first season of “M*A*S*H” before landing her breakout role in “Welcome Back, Kotter.” The show, about a teacher returning to the tough Brooklyn high school of his youth to teach a classroom of misfits, including John Travolta, ran for four years.

Ms. Strassman’s biggest movie role was in the hit Disney movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” (1989) and its sequel, “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” (1992), in which she played the patient wife of an eccentric inventor (Rick Moranis).

Born on April 28, 1948, in New York City, Ms. Strassman began acting as a teenager, replacing Liza Minnelli in the Off Broadway musical “Best Foot Forward.” She moved to Los Angeles at 18 and landed a stream of roles on television.

In addition to being a cast member on “Welcome Back, Kotter,” she made regular appearances on the television shows “Providence,” “Tremors” and “Third Watch.”

She was a member of the Screen Actors Guild national board and an active fund-raiser for breast cancer research and other social causes, her sister said.

In addition to her sister, Ms. Strassman’s survivors include a daughter, Elizabeth Collector, and a brother, Steven Strassman.

Two other stars of “Welcome Back, Kotter” — Ron Palillo, who played Arnold Horshack, and Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Epstein — died in 2012. Mr. Palillo was 63 and Mr. Hegyes was 60.

SOURCE

*****************************************************************

BERNARD MAYES, STARTED FIRST U.S. SUICIDE HOTLINE

Bernard Mayes, a native of England, in Canterbury in 2006. Credit Matthew A. Chayt

Matthew A. Chayt, a close friend, confirmed the death, saying Mr. Mayes had had Parkinson’s disease.

Of all his varied endeavors — he was a journalist, a professor and a gay rights activist among other things — Mr. Mayes was most proud of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, the hotline he set up in 1961 with a single red telephone in the city’s gritty Tenderloin District.

He was already juggling careers at the time — as a priest in Marin County and as a correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation — when his alarm at learning of San Francisco’s high suicide rate prompted him to action.

“Thinking of ending it all? Call Bruce, PR1-0450, San Francisco Suicide Prevention.”

That was one of his first advertisements, posted on city buses. Bruce was a pseudonym. The phone rang once the first night. Half a century later, it rings nearly 200 times a day, and about 100 volunteers and 10 paid staff members are there to help.

Today, Suicide Prevention cites statistics showing that the city’s suicide rate is less than half what it was when the agency was founded. Hundreds of similar hotlines have since been set up in cities across the nation, and there is now a federally financed hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE, which receives tens of thousands of calls a month.

Mr. Mayes had no training in suicide counseling.

“I did feel that what was really needed was a compassionate ear, someone to talk to,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2012. “It occurred to me that we had to have some kind of service which would offer unconditional listening, and that I would be this anonymous ear.”

While leading the prevention center, from 1961 to 1969, he continued to report for the BBC, filing feature stories from the West Coast. He also worked for local radio broadcasters, including KXKX, which was owned by the Presbyterian Church and later was bought by KQED, a public television station in San Francisco.

Mr. Mayes became the first general manager of KQED-FM, and in that role he was named a board member of National Public Radio, formed in 1970 by Congress and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He became its first chairman, and his signature is one of four on its articles of incorporation.

In “Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio,” the author, Jack W. Mitchell, himself a former board chairman of what is now called NPR, wrote that Mr. Mayes and other early board members had tried to “solve the old conflict between ‘giving the public what it wants’ (commercial broadcasting) and ‘giving the public what it needs’ (public service broadcasting) by ‘giving the public the microphone.’ ”

Anthony Bernard Duncan Mayes was born on Oct. 10, 1929, in London. His father was a watercolor painter who worked for British railroad publications; his mother was a telephone operator.

After graduating from Cambridge University with degrees in ancient languages and history, he taught high school Latin, Greek and history.

In his autobiography, “Escaping God’s Closet: The Revelations of a Queer Priest,” published in 2001, Mr. Mayes said he had entered the priesthood after being seduced by a member of the clergy. In the late 1950s, the church sent him to the United States, where, as an Episcopal priest, he worked with students at New York University before making his way to San Francisco.

He left the board of National Public Radio in 1972 but remained involved with public radio as a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting throughout the ’70s. He lectured at Stanford’s Institute for the Mass Media into the 1980s.

He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1984 and spent two decades there, becoming assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1991 to 1999. He helped start the Serpentine Society, an alumni association for gay, transgender and bisexual students.

He has no immediate survivors. He was cared for late in life by Mr. Chayt, who was one of his students at Virginia, and Mr. Chayt’s husband, Will Scott.

As he grew older, Mr. Mayes abandoned his Christian faith and promoted a philosophy that he said was rooted in “scientific materialism.” He called it Soupism.

“There are no gods, no magic, no final judgment and no grand plan,” he wrote on his website devoted to Soupism. “Everything from planets to humans is composed of tiny particles, energy, and nothing else. All the particles are always moving and endlessly interacting with each other as in a soup.”

He discussed the philosophy in his autobiography as well, finding a kind of transcendence in the material world.

“We are,” he wrote, “already close to, surrounded by, enveloped, as it were, in immortality: sheets formed from the cotton of the fields or the wool of the sheep; plastics boiled from minerals dug from the earth or the oil of ancient vegetation; concrete and metal poured from the rocks of the planet; all moving within the endless interchange from which our bodies are derived and from which others are already being born. Never does the process cease; never does it fail us.”

SOURCE

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s