6-5-20 #WeAreTired: Nigerian women speak out over wave of violence
There is widespread outrage in Nigeria following the murder of a 22-year-old university student in a church where she was studying in the southern city of Benin. The family of Uwavera Omozuwa, known as Uwa, say she was brutally raped and bludgeoned to death. It is one of several shocking cases in the past week which have led to street protests, an online petition signed by thousands and a Twitter hashtag #WeAreTired. Many Nigerians point to a legal system they say makes it hard to convict suspected rapists and blames women when they are victims of sexual assault. (Webmaster's comment: Just like in the United States!) The first time 36-year-old Wanda Ebe was sexually molested, she was under six years of age. She says her nanny, a middle-aged woman, forced her to repeatedly perform oral sex on her when they were alone. At the age of six, an attempt by Ms Ebe to stop the abuse by threatening to report the nanny to her parents almost cost her her life. "She [the nanny] poured a bucket full of hot water on me that left me in excruciating pain. I had to be taken to the hospital and I missed a year of school," Ms Ebe told the BBC. Ms Ebe said the nanny told her parents it was an accident and so, fearing for her safety, she did not say anything more at the time. The second time Ms Ebe was sexually abused, she was a 21-year-old student in her second year at university who was recovering from a recent surgery. She recalls being raped by a doctor, who made an excuse to take her to his house for an appointment instead of a medical centre. "He tore off my clothes, and raped me," she said. "I was weak from the surgery and could do little to resist him." "I did not go to the police or anyone for that matter. I did not even know that rape cases were to be reported to the police." In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for rape to go unreported. Some victims and their families, fearing stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the judicial process, choose not to report cases to the authorities. There have also been instances where those brave enough to report are targeted with derogatory comments at the police station.
5-29-20 Harvey Weinstein: Four more women accuse producer of assault
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by four further women as he serves a 23-year prison sentence. Court documents filed in New York on Thursday allege several sexual offences dating from 1984 to 2013. One of the four anonymous women was 17 at the time of an alleged attack. Weinstein's legal representative told BBC News: "Mr Weinstein intends to defend against the claims filed anonymously against him yesterday." The lawyer, Imran H Ansari of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, added: "Some of these claims, including those alleged to have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and not subject to any exceptions under the law, as these plaintiffs do not appear to be complainants in Mr Weinstein's criminal case." The latest legal cases allege multiple sexual offences against four women, who currently reside in Tennessee, New York, Ecuador and Hungary. Some of the attacks allegedly took place after meetings with Weinstein at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when The New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades. At least 80 women have since accused him of sexual misconduct, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek. The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men. Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had "caused a lot of pain", but denied any allegations of non-consensual sex. In February, Weinstein was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act, and later sentenced to 23 years in jail. (Webmaster's comment: It might be easier to determine who he has not abused!)
5-29-20 Coronavirus: Italian minister Azzolina targeted with sexist abuse
Tensions after more than two months of lockdown in Italy have boiled over into sexist attacks and threats against Education Minister Lucia Azzolina, who now has police protection. DRight-wing Senator Giuseppe Moles of Forza Italia spoke out publicly, warning the minister that credibility was like virginity and "easy to lose". Furious senators in her Five Star party demanded that Mr Moles apologise. A deputy health minister and a regional governor also have police guards now. The deputy minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, had received threats linked to coronavirus aid. Like Ms Azzolina, he is in the anti-establishment Five Star movement, part of Italy's coalition government. Attilio Fontana, governor of the Lombardy region - epicentre of Italy's coronavirus crisis - was also assigned police protection after being threatened on social media. Graffiti in Milan labelled him a "murderer". He is in Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration League, and his Lombardy government has been heavily criticised for shortcomings in its crisis response, such as shortages of some medical kit in the severely stretched health service. Austria's Justice Minister Alma Zadic, a Green politician, was reported to be under police protection in January after being targeted by far-right threats on social media. During question time in the Senate on Thursday Senator Moles unleashed a tirade against Ms Azzolina, 37, who is battling to address widespread frustration over the paralysis in education caused by the coronavirus crisis. "We've heard so much: school closing yes, school closing no; in April all students will be promoted, in May some students will fail; in September lessons can be half at school, half at home," he said. "I remind you minister that school requires credibility and seriousness. And credibility is like virginity: easy to lose, difficult to maintain, and impossible to recover."
5-29-20 Uzma Khan: An actress assaulted, a jealous wife and a viral video in Pakistan
Police in Pakistan are investigating three women over the assault of a well-known actress in her home, after footage posted on social media went viral and the actress lodged a case. The video shows three women and about a dozen armed guards entering Uzma Khan's house in Lahore. They smash up property and interrogate and assault the actress and her sister. Despite her celebrity and such a dramatic sequence of events, the incident has barely made it into the Pakistani media. This is probably because two of the women alleged to be involved in the attack have been named as the daughters of one of Pakistan's most powerful property magnates, Malik Riaz - and the media is wary of running stories about his family. The influential property tycoon has distanced himself from what happened, saying he had no involvement in what he called "disgraceful incidents". His daughters have not made any public comment but the other woman who has been named in the police report, Amena Usman Malik, has. She has defended her actions in another video, and accused the actress Uzma Khan of having an affair with her husband. Although there is little in the mainstream media, social media has been consumed by the drama, which provides some insight into the personal enmities and politics of the country's elite - as well as the media's reluctance to tackle certain issues. The incident happened on Saturday night, just before the Eid festival at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. After a number of videos were shared on social media, police announced they were launching an investigation on Wednesday. They have registered a formal complaint against the three women and their guards for allegedly breaking and entering the actress's residence, beating up her and her sister and damaging their property.
5-25-20 Nikoloz Basilashvili: Georgian tennis star charged with assaulting ex-wife
Georgian tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili has been charged with assaulting his former wife. Basilashvili, 28, is accused by Neka Dorokashvili of attacking her in front of their five-year-old son. Basilashvili, ranked 27th in the world, denies all the allegations, saying that the truth will be proven in court. On Sunday, he was released on a 100,000 Georgian lari ($31,300; £25,700) bail by the court in the capital Tbilisi. If guilty, he faces three years in jail. A preliminary court hearing has been scheduled for 16 July. "I feel your support and love," the tennis player told followers on Facebook, adding that he did not want to make any further comment. During his career, Basilashvili won three ATP titles, but is yet to progress further than the fourth round in any of the four majors. His highest singles ranking was 16th in the world in May 2019.
5-18-20 Coronavirus: They grabbed my breasts and said, 'You're not a woman'
Lockdown in Panama is strictly enforced, with men allowed out one day and women the next. But this has been used by some as an excuse to harass members of the trans community. Monica is an excellent cook. Like a lot of people, during the coronavirus lockdown she has been making elaborate meals to distract herself during the long hours spent inside. One Wednesday last month, Monica fancied making some marinated chicken in a rich spicy tomato sauce with rice. She had most of the ingredients already, but needed the chicken. So she left the small detached house near Panama City airport that she shares with her extended family to go to the local corner shop. She passed groups of women on her way, some of them linking arms with their children. It was quieter than usual in the neighbourhood, as the government had just introduced a new measure to curb the spread of coronavirus, allowing women to leave their homes to buy necessities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and men on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Sundays, everyone has to stay at home. Monica walked into the shop. She knew the Chinese family who ran it well. They adored her. But as she entered, the atmosphere changed. The owner approached her silently, his face not breaking into the smile she was used to seeing. "We can't serve you, Monica," he said. "The police said we can only serve women today. They said, 'No maricon.'" The transphobic term made Monica shudder, but at the same time, it wasn't a complete surprise. The police in her neighbourhood had targeted her before for being a trans woman. Monica started going to school dressed as a girl from the age of 12. She had never felt like a boy, and now she wanted to be open about her identity. Coming out as a girl wouldn't have an impact on her home life - it was hard enough already. "My father was a macho man," Monica says. "He needed no excuse to beat me, my two sisters or our mother."
5-18-20 Coronavirus: Health workers face violent attacks in Mexico
Mexican nurse Ligia Kantun says that in 40 years of work, she has never witnessed such a poisonous reaction to health workers. While in many countries doctors and nurses are being praised for their work on the coronavirus front line, in Mexico dozens have been attacked. Ligia, 59, says that she has worked during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and an outbreak of cholera in 2013, but some people are "behaving psychotically in response to this virus. It is terrible". She was attacked on 8 April after leaving work in her hometown of Merida, Yucatan. Someone drove past her and threw hot coffee down her back. "Infected!" they yelled through the car window before speeding away. She says that luckily she was not badly injured but recognises it could have been worse. As of 28 April, there have been at least 47 attacks against health workers, particularly nurses, in the country, the Mexican government says. And the authorities recognise the true figure may be higher - reports on social media of discrimination range from nurses stopped from getting on buses to doctors assaulted by relatives of Covid-19 patients. "It made me sad… to see how people are attacking us," says Ligia. "That hurt me more - the psychological damage." Some of the attacks appear to have been motivated by a misguided attempt to disinfect health workers. Alondra Torres, an ear, nose and throat specialist, had diluted bleach thrown over her on 13 April while walking her dogs in the city of Guadalajara. She does not see Covid-19 patients in her clinic, but is convinced her uniform made her a target. Alondra, who suffered conjunctivitis and contact dermatitis on her neck and shoulder as a result, says she was "disappointed" that some people seem to believe she needs to be bathed in bleach. "My eye was burning a lot, I couldn't see well."
5-15-20 Afghan maternity ward attackers 'came to kill the mothers'
The cold-blooded murders of 24 women, children and babies at a hospital in the Afghan capital were horrific enough But as Frederic Bonnot made his way through the bullet-riddled maternity unit, he realised something more. The attackers had walked straight past a number of other wards, all closer to the entrance of Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi hospital, and made straight for the maternity unit. To him, it meant one thing: this was no mistake. "What I saw in the maternity demonstrates it was a systematic shooting of the mothers," Bonnot, Head of Programmes for Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan, said. "They went through the rooms in the maternity, shooting women in their beds. It was methodical. "They came to kill the mothers." Amina was just two hours old when the attack started. The little girl was the third child for Bibi Nazia and her husband, Rafiullah. Back at home, they already had a girl and a boy. Nazia had gone to the hospital with her mother, and Amina was born at 08:00. It should have been a day of celebration for Rafiullah. But at 10:00, the attack began. Explosions were heard by people outside the hospital complex. Those with family and friends inside rushed to the scene - including Rafiullah. "He ran from side to side. But he couldn't do anything: no one allowed him to go inside," his cousin Hamidullah Hamidi told BBC Pashto. Inside the walls of the hospital, three gunmen were moving through the 55-bed maternity unit, which has been run by MSF since 2014. A total of 26 mothers and mothers-to-be were inside at the time. Ten managed to flee to safe rooms; the other 16 - including Bibi Nazia and Amina - were not so lucky. Three of the 16 mothers were shot and killed in the delivery room, along with their unborn babies. Bibi Nazia was among the other eight mothers killed; little Amina was shot in the legs. Five more were wounded. Two young boys were also killed in the carnage, along with a midwife. One woman, named only as Khadija, told Reuters news agency how one of the gunmen had pointed his weapon at her, before turning it on two other people.
5-12-20 Joe Biden assault claim: What does 'believe women' mean now?
The debate over what it means to "believe women" - the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement - has escalated in recent weeks over a sexual assault allegation lodged against Joe Biden. The accusation by a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, raises uncomfortable questions for Democratic voters who previously said women's complaints should be listened to and treated as credible. It also means that both presidential candidates have been accused of - and denied - sexual assault. The expression "believe women" - and its sister phrase: "believe survivors" - rose to prominence in tandem with the #MeToo movement, beginning in the autumn of 2017 when famed producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment, abuse or rape. Advocates say it is a reaction to a historical assumption that women are prone to deceit. Critics see it as a dangerous overreach, a licence to ignore evidence. "The reason that became a mantra was because interwoven so deeply in our culture was the idea that women and survivors were lying," said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Law Center. Their concerns were deemed "so inherently suspect they were not worthy of being treated seriously". Less than a year later the phrase gained momentum when, in the midst of his confirmation to the US Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford when the two were in high school. MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke led a national walkout in solidarity of Blasey Ford three days before her testimony, with participants using the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors. "We believe Dr Blasey Ford. We believe survivors," Burke wrote on Twitter. It became a refrain among high-profile supporters of Blasey Ford and a number of high-profile Democrats pushing for further investigation of her claims, including Joe Biden.
5-8-20 Tara Reade: Biden sex attack accuser urges him to quit race
A woman who accuses Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her 27 years ago has called on him to quit the presidential race. In an interview, Tara Reade urged Mr Biden to "please step forward and be held accountable". She added: "You should not be running on character for the president of the United States." Mr Biden, who is set to challenge President Donald Trump in November, has denied Ms Reade's accusation. Ms Reade, now 56, worked as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93 when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. She has said that in 1993 he forced her against a wall and put his hands under her shirt and skirt, penetrating her with a finger, after she delivered him his gym bag. In her most graphic, detailed account yet of the alleged assault, Ms Reade told US media personality Megyn Kelly that Mr Biden kissed her neck and told her he wanted to have sex with her, using an obscene term. "So, he had one hand underneath my shirt, and the other had, I had a skirt on, and he went down my skirt and then went up and I remember I was up almost on my tippy toes," she said. "When he went inside the skirt, he was talking to me at the same time, and he was leaning into me and I pulled this way away from his head." When she refused his advances, she said: "He looked at me and said, 'What the hell, man, I heard you liked me'." She added: "He pointed his finger at me and he said 'You're nothing to me. You're nothing'." Ms Reade was asked by Kelly if she wanted Mr Biden to withdraw from the race. "I wish he would, but he won't, but I wish he would," she said. "That's how I feel emotionally." Ms Reade offered to take a lie detector test about her claim, on condition that Mr Biden do so also. "I will take one if Joe Biden takes one," she said.
5-1-20 Joe Biden denies sexually assaulting staff assistant Tara Reade
US Democratic candidate Joe Biden has flatly denied sexually assaulting a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, nearly 30 years ago. "I'm saying unequivocally: it never, never happened," he said of the allegations during a TV interview on Friday. He asked for a search of the Senate archives for any record of a complaint Ms Reade allegedly filed at the time. Ms Reade made a criminal complaint to police last month. She said she was a victim of sexual assault without naming Mr Biden. The police complaint, she said, was filed "for safety reasons only" as the statute of limitations for her claim had expired. Mr Biden is running against Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by some 25 women. The Democrat put out his statement before speaking on Morning Joe, a show on US cable channel MSNBC. She was working as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93, when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. Ms Reade, now 56, says that in 1993 he forced her up against a wall in the halls of Congress, and put his hands under her shirt and skirt, penetrating her with a finger. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she told podcast host Katie Halper in March. "That phrase stayed with me." Ms Reade says records of Mr Biden's 36-year career as a US senator will contain evidence that she complained to her superiors about him. The records are being held at the University of Delaware, which has said it will not release any papers until two years after Mr Biden leaves public life. It appears there were no witnesses to the alleged assault but three people have backed Ms Reade's account. Her brother, a former neighbour and a former colleague have all said that they heard her give it shortly after the alleged incident. Former neighbour Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider: "This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it." "I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolised him," Ms LaCasse said. "I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated." Ms Reade is one of more than half a dozen women who have forward over the last year to accuse him of inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, though none described his actions as sexual assault at the time.
4-28-20 Tara Reade: What are the sex attack allegations against Joe Biden?
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden faces mounting calls to respond to a sexual assault allegation against him by a former employee. Tara Reade, who worked for the former US vice-president nearly 30 years ago, says he sexually assaulted her in the halls of Congress. Mr Biden has been accused of being "touchy feely" by multiple women, but this is the first public accusation of serious sexual misconduct against him. The White House hopeful's camp has denied it, but acquaintances of Ms Reade have confirmed she confided in them about her alleged ordeal. With the claim looming during a presidential election year - the first such vote since the emergence of the #MeToo movement - let's take a look at what exactly Mr Biden is accused of and how he has responded. Tara Reade, 56, worked as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93 when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware. In recent interviews, she has said that in 1993 her former boss forced her against a wall and put his hands under her shirt and skirt after she delivered him his gym bag. "There was no exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall," she said to podcast host Katie Halper in March 2020. "I remember it happened all at once... his hands were on me and underneath my clothes." He then penetrated her with his fingers, she said. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she said. "That phrase stayed with me." Ms Reade filed a criminal complaint on 9 April 2020 with police, saying she was a victim of sexual assault but did not name Mr Biden. She said in a tweet that she filed the complaint "for safety reasons only", as the statute of limitations for her claim have expired and she had begun to receive online threats.
4-26-20 Should women be eligible for US military draft?
US women may soon achieve a level of equality not everyone wants - ending 40 years of all-male precedent by becoming eligible to be conscripted in a time of war, writes James Jeffrey. One of the starkest ways American women have achieved equality with men in the workplace has occurred in the military. The decision five years ago by then Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to open all positions in the armed forces to women - including combat duty - was largely applauded as a necessary step that benefited the military and society. But this levelling of the military playing field has led to a more divisive consequence - at the end of March the government's National Commission on Military, National and Public Service declared it is now time that women become eligible for the military draft - the procedure by which individuals are chosen for conscription - just like their male counterparts between the ages of 18 and 25. Currently, all male US citizens in that age bracket, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants - documented and undocumented - residing within the US, must register through the Selective Service System. These registrations create a pool of men who could be pressed into service if the US needs tens of thousands more troops to fight a war or if the country faces an existential crisis. Women have also been serving the US military for generations, from sewing uniforms during the Revolutionary War to nursing the wounded in World War II. But they have never been required to register for the draft, a stance increasingly at odds with the reality of American's modern military. "The mere fact that women would have to register would signal a national recognition that everyone is expected to serve if needed and that everyone's service is valued equally," says Kara Vuic, a war studies professor at Texas Christian University, who is writing a book called Drafting Women.
4-15-20 Biden campaign denies ex-aide's sexual assault allegation
Former Vice-President Joe Biden has denied an allegation that he sexually assaulted a former aide nearly 30 years ago as a US senator. Tara Reade, who worked briefly as a staff assistant in Mr Biden's office, has said that her former boss forced her against a wall, putting his hands under her shirt and skirt. "This absolutely did not happen," Mr Biden's campaign said this week. Mr Biden, 77, is now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. "He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard - and heard respectfully," said his campaign spokeswoman. "Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue." Ms Reade, 56, described the allegation in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper in March. She was asked to deliver a gym bag to the senator in the spring of 1993, she said, and found herself alone with Mr Biden. "There was no exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall," she said to Ms Halper. "I remember it happened all at once... his hands were on me and underneath my clothes." He then penetrated her with his fingers, she said. "I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it 'Do you want to go somewhere else?' and then him saying to me, when I pulled away... he said 'Come on man, I heard you liked me,'" she said. "That phrase stayed with me." The fact he was a champion of women's rights in her eyes made the experience all the more shattering, she said. Ms Reade filed a criminal complaint on 9 April with police, saying she was a victim of sexual assault but did not name Mr Biden. She said in a tweet that she filed the complained "for safety reasons only", as the statute of limitations for her claim have expired. Ms Reade was one of eight women who came forward last year to accuse the candidate of inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, though none described his actions as sexual assault at the time. In response, Mr Biden pledged to be "more mindful" in his interactions.
4-14-20 US McDonald's workers file $500m sexual harassment lawsuit
Two McDonald's employees in Florida have filed a $500m (£400m) class action lawsuit, accusing the fast food giant of fostering "systemic sexual harassment". Jamelia Fairley and Ashley Reddick are named on behalf of some 5,000 women from over 100 US McDonald's outlets. It is backed by Time's Up, a high-profile legal charity set up as part of the #MeToo movement. McDonald's said it is "committed" to addressing all harassment claims. "McDonald's has always been committed to ensuring that our employees are able to work in an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment," the company said in a statement. Ms Fairley and Ms Reddick join 5,000 other women who have worked at corporate-run McDonald's restaurants across Florida since April 2016 and experienced sexual harassment on the job. The suit, filed in the company's home state of Illinois, centres on a particular McDonald's restaurant near Orlando, Florida, and alleges "extensive illegal harassment that went ignored by management". The plaintiffs say that numerous women were subject to "pervasive sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, including groping, sexual assault and sexually-charged comments" at the Orlando restaurant. Ms Fairley, 24, claims she was harassed by two colleagues. One made sexually-explicit comments towards her, she alleges, saying she had a "fat ass" and that he would "take [her] on a ride". Ms Fairley says the comments escalated to unwanted touching. The colleague would pull her into his groin area and "[rub] his genitals on her", the suit claims. Ms Fairley reported the behaviour, she says, and had her hours cut as a consequence of speaking up. "McDonald's did not take my complaint seriously," she said. Ms Reddick, 28, a former McDonald's worker, also allegedly faced verbal and physical harassment from a male co-worker. The colleague would rub his groin area against her, she says, and touch her thighs. On one occasion she alleges he put his phone in front of her face and showed her a picture of his genitals. Ms Reddick says she told her managers and was fired as a result.
4-13-20 Coronavirus lockdown spares Czech women an Easter whipping
The coronavirus lockdown has led to the suspension of a controversial Czech Easter tradition where men lightly whip women with a switch made of willow branches to ensure fertility.(Webmaster's comment: this is beyond sick, it is EVIL.) It is an Easter Monday ritual of pagan origin, popular in rural areas. Men go door-to-door, singing a ditty and whipping women's legs and buttocks. They are rewarded with painted eggs and shots of plum brandy. However, for many Czech women the ritual is far from harmless. "It hurt like hell," said Ladka Bauerova, who grew up in Prague, not a village. "Even as a child I felt acute embarrassment at the heavy-handed symbolism (you're giving men your eggs to stop them from being violent!?) It just wasn't right," she told the BBC. It can be seen either as a quaint rural custom with roots in pagan fertility rituals or an unacceptably sexist reminder of the power of the patriarchy. On Easter Monday, male villagers spend the morning going from house to house, whipping the village women. Frankly as the brandy-fuelled morning wears on, their ability to administer any kind of physical punishment is somewhat diminished. But wherever you stand on the tradition, it's not likely to be happening much this year as Interior Minister Jan Hamacek has urged Czech men to leave their whips at home. The Czech Republic has so far been only lightly affected by coronavirus - there were just 89 new cases on Sunday and a total of 139 Covid-19 deaths. However, the authorities are urging people to keep their guard up, including with the compulsory wearing of protective masks.