4-7-21 Dubai deports group over nude balcony shoot
A group arrested in Dubai following a nude photoshoot on a balcony are set to be deported, authorities confirmed. At least 12 Ukrainian women and a Russian man were detained after a video posted to social media showed a group posing nude in Dubai's Marina area. They were accused of public debauchery, which carries a sentence of up to six months in prison and a 5,000 dirham fine (£981). Despite being a popular tourist hotspot, Dubai has strict laws. Any person who lives in or visits the UAE is subject to its laws: there are no exceptions for tourists. More than a dozen women and a photographer were pictured on the balcony. The nationalities of the others involved has not been confirmed. Police said the photoshoot did not "reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society". Ukraine's foreign ministry said consulate officials visited the 12 women on Tuesday as well as the head of Dubai's Criminal Investigation Department. Dubai's media office confirmed that the group will be deported. "The public prosecution office has completed investigations on a recently publicised photo shoot, which contravened UAE law. The individuals involved will be deported from the United Arab Emirates. No further comment shall be made on the matter," a tweet from Dubai's media office said. Rapid deportation is rare in Dubai, AP news agency notes. Cases such as these usually go to trial or are settled under adjudication before eventual deportation. The stunt came just days before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins. It isn't the first time foreigners have been arrested while in Dubai. In 2017, a British woman was sentenced to one year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn't married to. The relationship came to light when the woman reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages.
4-6-21 Harvey Weinstein appeals against conviction for sex crimes
Lawyers for disgraced US film producer Harvey Weinstein have launched an appeal against his conviction for rape and sexual assault. Weinstein, 69, was convicted in New York City in February 2020 and later sentenced to 23 years in prison. It was seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement against the sexual abuse and harassment of women. Weinstein, formerly one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has vowed to clear his name. Filed in New York State Supreme Court, the long-anticipated appeal signals the start of what is expected to be a lengthy attempt to have his conviction quashed. His lawyers argue that the judge made several errors that denied Weinstein's right to a fair trial. "With a year behind us and emotions subsided, the transcript of the case confirms what we always believed: that Mr Weinstein did not receive a fair trial," one of Weinstein's lawyers, Arthur Aidala, said in a statement sent to the BBC on Monday. Dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer. The allegations began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times newspaper first reported incidents dating back decades. Weinstein faces further criminal charges, for rape and sexual assault, in Los Angeles, California, where he is due to stand trial. He is currently being held in a maximum-security prison in New York state. He had heart surgery after his February 2020 conviction and tested positive for coronavirus a month later while in jail. Weinstein faced five charges in the New York City trial but was only found guilty of two. The first was a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006. The second was a third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. New York jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term.
4-5-21 Dubai police arrest group over nude balcony shoot
A group have been arrested in Dubai and charged with public debauchery after an outdoor nude photoshoot. Video footage posted online on Saturday shows a group of naked women having their photo taken on a balcony. Eight Russian women are among those detained, the Russian consulate said. The consulate described the charges as "serious". Public debauchery carries a sentence of up to six months in prison and a 5,000 dirham fine (£981). Many of the UAE's laws are based on Sharia Law, and people have been jailed in the past for public displays of affection and homosexual relationships. Roughly a dozen women were pictured on the balcony in the Marina district of Dubai. But Russian media reports say up to 40 people were involved in the photo shoot. "They turned to the Consulate General for help, but it is difficult to do anything here," the consulate said. The organiser of the shoot faces up to 18 months in prison, Ria Novosti reports. Police in Dubai warned that anyone publishing pornographic material or any material that "may prejudice public morals" faces imprisonment and a fine. "Such unacceptable behaviours do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society," a police statement said. Any person who lives in or visits the UAE is subject to its laws: there are no exceptions for tourists. There have been a few high-profile cases of tourists getting arrested while on holiday in Dubai. In 2017, a British woman was sentenced to one year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn't married to. The relationship came to light when the woman reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages. (Webmaster's comment: A woman is treatened and she is arrested!)
4-4-21 Marwa Elselehdar: 'I was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal'
Last month, Marwa Elselehdar noticed something strange. News had broken about a huge container ship, the Ever Given, that had become wedged across the Suez Canal, bringing one of world's major shipping routes to a halt. But as she checked her phone, online rumours were saying she was to blame. "I was shocked," says Marwa, Egypt's first female ship's captain. At the time of the Suez blockage, Ms Elselehdar was working as a first mate, in command of the Aida IV, hundreds of miles away in Alexandria. The vessel, owned by Egypt's maritime safety authority, runs supply missions to a lighthouse in the Red Sea. It's also used to train cadets from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), a regional university run by the Arab League. Rumours about Marwa Elselehdar's role on the Ever Given were largely spurred by screenshots of a fake news headline - supposedly published by Arab News - which said she was involved in the Suez incident. The doctored image appears to be from a genuine Arab News story, released on 22 March, which profiles Marwa's success as Egypt's first female ship captain. The picture has been shared dozens of times on Twitter and Facebook. Several Twitter accounts under her name have also spread false claims that she was in involved with the Ever Given. Marwa Elselehdar, 29, told the BBC she has no idea who first spread the story or why they did it. "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure," she said. It's not the first time she's faced challenges in an industry historically dominated by men. At present, women only account for 2% of the world's seafarers, according to the International Maritime Organisation. (Webmaster's comment: You can always blame a woman for anything and many men will believe it in spite of no evidence whatsoever!)
4-3-21 Deshaun Watson: Houston Texans quarterback being investigated by police amid 21 civil lawsuits
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is being investigated by police amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault. Watson, 25, is the subject of 21 civil lawsuits from female masseuses accusing him of assault or sexual misconduct. On Friday, Houston Police said it had received a formal report from one complainant and is now investigating. Watson has denied any wrongdoing and his lawyer said he welcomed the launch of the "long overdue" investigation. "I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect," Watson said in a statement released in March, before going on to allege one of the women was attempting to extort money from him. One of the latest lawsuits launched against Watson alleges he made "obscene sexual gestures" and exposed himself, before groping his victim and forcing her to perform a sex act on him. Last week, his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said his team had found "strong evidence" that one of the women's stories was false. "Now we will learn the identity of at least one accuser," Hardin said on Friday. "We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department." NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said it was "monitoring all developments".
4-1-21 Inside the lives of Asian massage workers: 'How can we not be scared?'
The Atlanta spa shootings have placed a spotlight on a part of the massage industry in the US. Asian massage workers say they often have to deal with the assumption that Asian spas provide sex services. Two female Asian massage workers tell us about the stigma surrounding their profession and the sexual harassment they endure.
3-31-21 Suspect held for repeatedly kicking Asian American woman in New York
Police in the US have arrested a man suspected of attacking an Asian American woman in New York City, kicking her repeatedly in the stomach as witnesses appeared to only watch. The 65-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with serious injuries. CCTV video from Monday appears to show staff of a nearby building watching without intervening. Police said Brandon Elliot had been charged with attempted assault as a hate crime. On Tuesday Joe Biden said he could not be silent "in the face of rising violence against Asian Americans". The president announced additional steps to address anti-Asian crimes. Six of the victims of a gun attack in Atlanta two weeks ago which killed eight in total were Asian women. In the latest incident in New York City, footage shared by police appears to show a man approaching a woman in the street and kicking her to the ground. While she is lying on the floor outside a building entrance, he kicks her again in the stomach and in the face. Several security staff in the building appear to watch the attack while one man uses a telephone. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has condemned the assault as "absolutely disgusting and outrageous". Police said the incident took place in Manhattan on Monday morning and asked for anyone with information to come forward. The suspect had made anti-Asian statements, they said. The managers of the building wrote on Instagram that the staff who witnessed the attack had been suspended while an investigation is carried out. "We are extremely distraught by the horrific attack that occurred outside our building," the Bordsky Organization wrote, adding that it condemns violence against Asian Americans. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was "absolutely unacceptable" that witnesses did not intervene.
3-31-21 The cost of speaking up against China
Women who made allegations last month of rape and sexual abuse in Chinese detention camps have been harassed and smeared in the weeks since. Rights groups say the attacks are typical of an aggressive campaign by China to silence those who speak up. Qelbinur Sedik was making breakfast when the video call came, and the sight of her sister's name made her nervous. Many months had passed since the two had spoken. In fact, many months had passed since Sedik had spoken to any of her family in China. Sedik was in the kitchen of her temporary home in the Netherlands, where she shared a room with several other refugees, mostly from Africa. Two weeks earlier, she and three other women had spoken to the BBC for a story about alleged rape and torture in China's secretive detention camps in the Xinjiang region, where Sedik worked as a camp teacher. Now her sister was calling. She hit answer, but when the picture appeared it wasn't her sister on the screen, it was a policeman from her hometown in Xinjiang. "What are you up to Qelbinur?" he said, smiling. "Who are you with?" In conversations with the BBC over the past few weeks, 22 people who have left Xinjiang to live abroad described a pattern of threats, harassment, and public character attacks they said were designed to deter them from speaking out about alleged human rights abuses back home. According to UN estimates, China has detained more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese state has been accused of an array of abuses there including forced labour, sterilisation, torture, rape, and genocide. China denies those charges, saying its camps are "re-education" facilities for combatting terrorism. Among the few who have fled Xinjiang and spoken publicly, many have received a call like the one to Sedik that morning - from a police officer or government official at their family home, or from a relative summoned to a police station. Sometimes the calls contain vague advice to consider the welfare of their family in Xinjiang, sometimes direct threats to detain and punish relatives.
3-30-21 Mexico police under fire after woman's death in custody
Outrage has been growing over the death in police custody of a Salvadorean woman in the Mexican resort of Tulum on Saturday as more details of the incident emerged. A post-mortem examination suggests Victoria Esperanza Salazar's neck was broken after a female officer pinned her to the ground. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said she had been "murdered". The incident comes amid growing protests against femicides in Mexico. The 36-year-old from El Salvador had been in Mexico since at least 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons. Her mother says she left her hometown of Sonsonate five years ago to escape the violence which El Salvador's notorious street gangs were spreading. Victoria Salazar lived with her two daughters, aged 15 and 16, in the resort town of Tulum, where she worked as a cleaner in hotels. On Saturday afternoon local time, she entered a small supermarket in Tulum. CCTV footage broadcast on Mexican media shows her walking around the store waving a large empty water bottle. The footage suggests most of the customers and staff continued about their business, but it later emerged that the store's manager had called the police. Four municipal police officers, three male and one female, attended the call and detained Victoria Salazar on the street outside for allegedly disturbing the peace. Unverified footage broadcast by news site Noticaribe shows her crying out as a female officer is kneeling on her back while the male officers stand by. The post-mortem examination has revealed that Victoria Salazar died from a broken neck, the attorney-general for the state of Quintana Roo said on Monday. Oscar Montes de Oca said that she had suffered "a spinal fracture caused by the rupture of the first and second vertebrae". He said that the officers had used "disproportionate force" against Salazar. Four police officers have been detained and will be charged with femicide, Mr Montes de Oca added.
3-29-21 Australia PM shifts rape-accused minister in cabinet reshuffle
Australian PM Scott Morrison has removed a minister accused of rape from his role as the nation's chief law officer, after weeks of pressure. Christian Porter will no longer be attorney general but will remain in cabinet in a new portfolio. Mr Porter has strongly rejected an allegation that he raped a girl in 1988 when he was 17. Mr Morrison promoted several female lawmakers as part of a broader cabinet reshuffle on Monday. The prime minister has faced intense pressure in recent weeks to respond to a series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations which have rocked Australian politics. Mr Porter will be replaced as attorney general and industrial relations minister by Michaelia Cash. He has been allocated the science and technology portfolio. On Monday, Mr Porter said he had to be replaced as attorney general after commencing a defamation lawsuit against the ABC. "[This] does not change anything in respect of the crucial principle that required me to instigate defamation proceedings," he said in a statement. Another senior minister who has faced criticism - Linda Reynolds - was removed from the defence portfolio, but she will also remain in cabinet as government services minister. Calls to fix accusations of a sexist political culture have swept the nation in recent times. A fortnight ago, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. In particular, scrutiny has fallen on the behaviour of male MPs and male advisers within the ruling Liberal Party. The issue was ignited in February, after Brittany Higgins, a former aide, said she had been raped in 2019 by a male colleague in a minister's office. Ms Higgins, 26, reported the allegation to her then boss - Ms Reynolds - but said she had felt pressure not to report it to police. Ms Reynolds has faced intense criticism for her handling of the rape allegation, and for calling Ms Higgins "a lying cow" this year - a slur for which she later apologised.
3-28-21 Bolsonaro: Brazil's president ordered to pay damages to journalist
A Brazilian court has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to pay compensation to a journalist after he made degrading comments about her. Mr Bolsonaro had suggested last year that Patrícia Campos Mello had offered sex to a source for negative information about him. The judge said Mr Bolsonaro's remarks had damaged the journalist's honour. The president was told to pay her 20,000 reais (£2,500; $3,500) in damages. He can appeal the ruling. In a tweet, Ms Campos Mello, an award-winning reporter for Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, said the judge's decision was a "victory for all of us women". The Journalists Against Harassment group said the ruling marked a "great day" for female reporters and professional journalism in Brazil. Ms Campos Mello brought legal action against him in response to comments made in February 2020. In its report about the remarks, the Folha newspaper accused Mr Bolsonaro of insulting Ms Campos Mello with sexual innuendo. Mr Bolsonaro said the journalist "wanted a scoop" at "any price against me", the newspaper reported the president as saying. Ms Campos Mello wrote a series of investigative reports about a group using WhatsApp to boost Mr Bolsonaro's campaign by denigrating his rivals ahead of the 2018 presidential election. In January, Ms Campos Mello won an almost identical case against the president's son, Eduardo, who is a member of parliament in Brazil's lower house of Congress. He had suggested in a YouTube video last May that the reporter had "tried to seduce" a source for damaging information against his father. A judge said the comments were an attack on the journalist's honour, and ordered Mr Bolsonaro's son to pay her 30,000 reais in compensation.
3-27-21 Andrew Laming: MP 'steps away from duties' amid harassment complaints
Australian MP Andrew Laming says he is stepping aside from duties to undertake cultural sensitivity training after allegations of harassing women online. Two women accused him of slandering them, with one saying it had left her feeling suicidal. PM Scott Morrison had ordered Mr Laming, a backbencher in his Liberal Party, to apologise in parliament for his "disgraceful" behaviour. Mr Laming has not stepped down as an MP. Any decision that sees him go will have consequences for the government, as it could cost Mr Morrison's coalition its parliamentary majority. In his statement, Mr Laming said: "I will step down from all parliamentary roles effective immediately and complete both the counselling courses I committed to; as well as additional clinical counselling, and ask for privacy while that is completed." He said he would have "more to say on my future" after his awareness training. The episode is the latest challenge to Mr Morrison's government, in a month when a series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations have rocked Australian politics. The prime minister has faced mounting pressure over his response to the allegations and broader cultural problems within politics. Last week, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. A Channel Nine TV report aired on Thursday heard from two women who said they'd been repeatedly harassed by Mr Laming - who is their local Brisbane MP - on Facebook. Alix Russo said he had targeted her with verbal abuse, and falsely accused her of fraud. The report included screenshots of Mr Laming's comments, many of which attacked Ms Russo and ridiculed her business situation."Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them," the MP wrote in response to one of her comments. Another woman, Sheena Hewlett, said she and her husband - a local councillor - were also harassed by the MP. Mr Laming apologised on Thursday for his social media posts.
3-26-21 USC to pay $1bn over abuse claims against gynaecologist George Tyndall
The University of Southern California (USC) has agreed to pay more than $1bn (£730m) to patients treated by a former campus gynaecologist accused of sexual abuse. It is the biggest sex abuse-linked pay-out in higher education history. George Tyndall was arrested in 2019 and charged with sexually assaulting 16 female patients, allegations he denies. More than 350 women have spoken out about their experiences as patients of the gynaecologist. Dr Tyndall, now 74, is awaiting trial. In a 2019 statement he said he "remains adamant" he would be "totally exonerated". Lawyers for a final group of 710 women suing the university told a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court they had settled their claims for $852m. USC had already agreed in 2018 to pay $215m in a class action case. "I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community," USC President Carol Folt said in a statement. "We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women." This is the biggest payment of its kind. Michigan State University previously paid $500m in connection with Larry Nasser's sexual abuse of gymnasts and others, while Penn State settled claims related to Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse for more than $109m. The case arose after the Los Angeles Times published accounts from former and current employees about Dr Tyndall's alleged sexual misconduct as a gynaecologist. Hundreds of women came forward to report misconduct by Dr Tyndall, according to police, though not all cases met the requirements for charges. The women claimed he made lewd comments, photographed and groped them during medical examinations. The case saw USC's president step down amid sharp criticism of how the institution responded to the abuse claims. Dr Tyndall worked at the university clinic for 30 years, where he was the only full-time gynaecologist. He left the university in 2017 after an internal inquiry found he had made inappropriate remarks to patients.
3-26-21 Andrew Laming: Australian MP apologises over comments to women
Another Australian government MP is under scrutiny for his actions towards women after he was accused of repeatedly harassing two women online. Andrew Laming, 56, was ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to apologise in parliament for his "disgraceful" behaviour, local media reported. Both women accused him of slandering them online, with one saying it had left her feeling suicidal. Mr Laming said he "unreservedly" apologised to both women. A series of rape, misconduct and sexism allegations have rocked Australian politics in the past month, dominating national debate. Mr Morrison has faced mounting pressure over his response to the allegations and broader cultural problems within politics. Last week, tens of thousands of people marched in protests against the mistreatment of women in Canberra and wider society. A Channel Nine TV report aired on Thursday heard from two women who said they'd been repeatedly harassed by Mr Laming - who is their local MP - on Facebook. Alix Russo said he had targeted her with verbal abuse, and falsely accused her of fraud and other business dealings. The report included screenshots of Mr Laming's comments, many of which attacked Ms Russo and ridiculed her business situation. "Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them," the MP wrote in response to one of her comments. Another woman, Sheena Hewlett, said she and her husband - a local councillor - were also harassed by the MP. Mr Laming apologised on Thursday for his social media posts. "I want to unreservedly apologise to both Ms Hewlett and Ms Russo and I express my regret and deep apologies for the hurt and distress that that communication may have caused," he said. Mr Morrison said: "I called him into my office yesterday, and told him to apologise and deal with it - and he has." Labor called Mr Laming's comments "shocking" and said he should resign.
3-23-21 Afghanistan: The women killed for working at a TV station.
Women make up a large number of those killed in a deadly campaign of targeted attacks on civil society in Afghanistan by extremist groups opposed to them working outside the home. One television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad has been forced to send all its female staff home for their own safety, after four young female employees were killed in recent months.
3-23-21 Aide fired after Parliament House sex videos shock Australia
The crisis engulfing Australia's politics has continued to grow following the emergence of videos showing staff members performing sex acts in parliament, leading to one senior aide being fired. One video showed the aide performing a sex act on a female MP's desk. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the videos as "disgraceful". It comes after a former staff member revealed how she feared losing her job following an alleged sexual assault. Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by senior colleague in an office in March 2019, but says she felt pressured not to report the incident to police. It sparked a wave of allegations, and last week, thousands took part in marches to protest against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in Australia. The videos were leaked to Australian media by a former government staff member, who said he had become "immune" to the pictures because of the sheer volume he received. As well as the videos - filmed two years ago - he said people had used the prayer room to have sex and even brought sex workers into parliament. The whistleblower described a "culture of men thinking that they can do whatever they want", describing some of his colleagues as "morally... bankrupt". Mr Morrison told reporters on Tuesday he was "shocked", adding: "We must get this house in order. We must put the politics aside on these things, and we must recognise this problem, acknowledge it, and we must fix it." He has previously been criticised for his response, including for declining to meet protesters last week. He had invited march leaders to meet him in parliament, but they rejected the offer saying they would not meet "behind closed doors". Questions over the government's handling of the crisis were once again raised after backbench government MP Michelle Landry said she "felt sorry" for the fired aide.
3-22-21 Domestic violence: US condemns Turkey for quitting treaty
US President Joe Biden has condemned Turkey for withdrawing from an international accord designed to protect women from violence. He said the move was "disappointing" and a "disheartening step backward" for efforts to end attacks on women. But Turkey said the Istanbul Convention - which seeks to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence - was incompatible with its family values. It had been "hijacked" by people trying to "normalise homosexuality", it said. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government unilaterally quit the convention on Saturday, nearly 10 years after it became the first signatory to the landmark agreement. The move sparked large protests led by women in the country. Women's rights activists say the Istanbul Convention was crucial to combating domestic violence in Turkey. The treaty, signed by 45 countries and the European Union, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse. Aside from Turkey, the treaty had only been ratified by 34 countries. On Sunday, he issued a statement to express his disappointment, joining a growing chorus of criticism. "Around the world, we are seeing increases in the number of domestic violence incidents, including reports of rising femicide in Turkey," Mr Biden said. "Countries should be working to strengthen and renew their commitments to ending violence against women, not rejecting international treaties designed to protect women and hold abusers accountable." He added: "We all must do more to create societies where women are able to go about their lives free from violence." The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Turkey was sending "a dangerous message across the world" about the rights of women. "We therefore cannot but urge Turkey to reverse its decision," Mr Borrell said. In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote: "Women deserve a strong legal framework to protect them."
3-21-21 Pakistan: Two men sentenced to death for motorway rape
A court in Pakistan has sentenced two men to death for a rape which triggered public outrage. Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali Bagga came across a Pakistani-French woman and her two children stranded on a motorway. The men broke into their car, which had run out of petrol on the road near Lahore, robbed them and raped the woman in front of her children. Later comments by a policeman, who questioned why the woman had been out late on her own, led to mass protests. (Blame the Woman!) On Saturday, a special court in the eastern city of Lahore convicted Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali of gang rape, kidnapping, robbery and terrorism offences. Their lawyer said they would appeal against the decision, according to the AFP news agency. On 9 September 2020, the woman - whose name has not been publicly released - ran out of fuel on a motorway leading out of Lahore. Her two children were with her. She called her relatives in Gujranwala who advised her to call the motorway emergency numbers and also set off to help her. According to the complaint registered with the police by one of the woman's relatives, the car was broken into by two men in their early to mid-30s who stole money and jewellery she had on her. They raped her in front of her two children in a nearby field, and then escaped. Police say the woman was traumatised, although she did provide them with some basic descriptions of her attackers. The next day the most senior police official in Lahore, Umer Sheikh, appeared in front of the media and implied that she had been partly to blame. He questioned why she had not taken a busier road, given that she had been alone with her children, or checked her fuel before departing. In several TV appearances he reiterated these points, also adding that the woman, who is a resident of France, seemed to be operating under the impression Pakistan was as safe as France. The reaction was like nothing seen in the country before and came from all quarters. On social media people called him out for his victim-blaming. (Webmaster's comment: We have ''Bad Days'' too, but you don't see us killing white people!)
3-21-21 Enforcing China's domestic violence law is an uphill battle
It's been five years since China issued its landmark national domestic violence law. But not enough people know about the protective orders — not even the police. his month marks the fifth anniversary of China's landmark national domestic violence law. Advocates say that making it actually work for survivors of domestic abuse is an uphill battle. A new pop song is raising awareness about the struggle. When Chinese pop star Tan Weiwei released her single, "Xiao Juan," in December, it shocked people. Pop songs in China usually don't take on difficult topics, but "Xiao Juan," or "Jane Doe," put the spotlight on something that often gets pushed under the carpet — domestic violence. The lyrics reference horrific stories of abuse that have made headlines in recent years in China before leading to a chorus: "Erase our names, forget us, the same tragedy repeats itself over and again." Feng Yuan, a longtime gender equality advocate, said this song opened up the conversation about domestic violence to a broader audience. "Tan Weiwei was able to string together all these incidents of domestic violence and speak out about them bravely. And advocates can use the song as a tool to move the conversation forward," said Feng, who runs a Beijing-based abuse support hotline. That conversation still remains largely unspoken in mainstream media even five years after the anti-domestic violence law was passed. Instead, survivors have been turning to social media to raise awareness and call for help. In 2019, Yuya Mika, a well-known beauty blogger, exposed the mental and physical abuse she suffered from her ex-boyfriend in a video that went viral. Last year, a Tibetan internet star was brutally murdered by her ex-husband while she livestreamed on Tiktok. And just last month, a former journalist used the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat to call out her husband for his abuse of her and her children over the past seven years. These shocking incidents are sounding the alarm on domestic violence, but advocates say there's not enough education on how the anti-domestic violence law works. A core piece of the law allows people to file for personal protection orders against their abusers. But not enough people know about the protective orders — not even the police. Lin Shuang, an anti-domestic violence volunteer in Shanghai who accompanies survivors to the police, said that before the law went into effect, the police saw abuse as a family dispute. "They would say, 'This is your family affair,'" she said. "'You just go back, talk to your husband. We have no reason to get your husband to our station unless he voluntarily comes, and we can talk to him. Otherwise, we have no legal reason to do that.'" Even with the law, Lin said that this response is still common. Before survivors go to make a report, she gives them specific instructions to save the text of the law on their phones so they can show it to police. "You would think now we have the national law, at least the government officials would know about this," she said. "But a lot of them still are not educated or not trained. Or this is not their priority. They just find 1,000 excuses to not do their job." Protection orders can shield victims from their abuser by barring contact with them or forcing them to move out of a shared home, but the barriers to getting one are high, Lin said. In the first three years of the law, less than 6,000 protection orders were issued in all of China. Lin said one woman she helped had to provide police with examples of the documents she needed just so they would know how to make one. "The victim is educating the police and is pushing for the police to do their own job or to even to learn how to do their job," she said.
3-20-21 Domestic violence: Turkey pulls out of Istanbul convention
Turkey has abandoned an international accord designed to protect women, despite objections from campaigners. It signed the Council of Europe's convention 10 years ago at its launch in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The pact seeks to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence. But Turkish conservatives argue its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality. Turkey's decision was described as "devastating" for efforts to combat domestic violence by the head of Europe's top human rights body, the Council of Europe. "This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond," Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said. On social media, Turkey's minister for family, labour and social policies, Zehra Zumrut, said women's rights were protected by the country's constitution. She did not give a reason for withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, which is the world's first binding treaty to prevent domestic violence. Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairperson of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party, tweeted that abandoning the convention meant "keeping women [as] second class citizens and letting them be killed". Ms Selcuk told the official Anadolu news agency that the authorities would continue their "fight against violence with the principle of zero tolerance". According to Turkey's We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered in the country last year but the number could be even greater, with dozens more found dead in suspicious circumstances. The rape and murder of 23-year-old student Sule Cet in the capital Ankara in May 2018 struck a particular chord, prompting demonstrations and widespread media coverage. Ms Cet was raped in a high-rise office and her body thrown from a window, with her attackers trying to disguise their crime as a suicide. Two men were jailed for the crime - one for life and the other for 18 years and nine months.
3-19-21 Armie Hammer: US actor accused of rape
US actor Armie Hammer has been accused of raping a woman in Los Angeles in 2017. The woman, a 24-year-old named only as Effie, made the allegations during a virtual news conference on Thursday. Hammer, 34, denied the allegations. His lawyer said they were "outrageous" and Hammer "welcomes the opportunity to set the record straight". Los Angeles police told the BBC Hammer was a suspect in a sexual assault investigation opened on 3 February. The accuser broke down while reading a prepared statement about the allegations against Hammer, known for films including The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name. She spoke alongside high-profile women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred, alleging she first met Hammer on Facebook in 2016, when she was 20. "I fell in love with him instantly," she said. The woman alleged that, as the relationship progressed, Hammer used "manipulation tactics in order to exert control over me". She said he would "test my devotion to him, finally removing and crossing my boundaries as he became increasingly more violent". The woman accused the actor of abusing her "mentally, emotionally and sexually". She said the alleged rape happened on 24 April, 2017. She said: "Armie Hammer raped me for over four hours in Los Angeles, during which he repeatedly slapped my head against a wall, bruising my face. "During those four hours, I tried to get away and he wouldn't let me. I thought that he was going to kill me. "He then left with no concern for my wellbeing. I was completely in shock and I couldn't believe that someone I loved did that to me." She said she was left suicidal by the alleged rape, adding she felt "immense guilt" at not speaking out sooner. In a statement sent to the BBC, Hammer's lawyer Andrew Brettler dismissed the allegations. The lawyer said all of Hammer's relations with the woman had been "completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory". That's a snapshot of a country in which the pool of potential heterosexual partners is quite a bit more constricted than it might first appear. A significant chunk of men are averse to becoming involved with the sizable portion of women who vote for Democrats, and a larger percentage of women apparently want nothing to do with men who support a Trumpified Republican Party.
3-19-21 Why Australian women are saying 'enough is enough'
Australia's political scene has frequently been called toxic to women, with a culture beset by accusations of misogyny and sexist intimidation. The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil explains how allegations of rape have now lit the fuse on a wider conversation.
3-19-21 Beware the lonely, angry men
We have so many mass shootings in this country, and so much gun violence in general, that those who come to a sweeping conclusion on the basis of any one massacre are playing a fool's game. Yet the facts wrapped up with Tuesday's rampage at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area nonetheless raise disturbing questions about relations between the sexes in the contemporary United States — and in particular about the complex and ominous interaction of loneliness and rage inside a certain subset of American men. In focusing on the gendered dimension of the attacks, I'm presuming they weren't racially motivated hate crimes, as many assumed in the hours after the shootings took place, so much as homicidal misogyny. It's understandable why people leapt to the other conclusion, given that six of the victims were women of Asian descent and the country has seen a nearly 150 percent spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans over the past year or so. Yet the confession of the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, seems to indicate he didn't explicitly choose his targets out of racial animus. Rather, he targeted women who worked at the spas he frequented, and those women happened to be Asian. Moreover, if the statement by the Cherokee County Sheriff about the perpetrator's state of mind can be believed, the shooting was proximally provoked by an impulse to lash out at the objects of his lust. That would place Long in the vicinity of incels — the "involuntarily celibates" who turn their failures at attracting women into an ideology of virulent misogyny that can inspire real-world acts of violence. Long supposedly frequented these businesses, so he wasn't celibate. But he apparently confessed to being a sex addict — and his actions on Tuesday demonstrate that he reacted to his own compulsion to seek sexual satisfaction in a form of prostitution (rather than in a stable relationship) by harboring and acting out in rage against the women who serviced him for money. Obviously this is the most extreme manifestation of pathological relations between men and women one can imagine. But it's still worth reflecting on more broadly because its murderous toxicity is a function of a combustible mix of emotions (loneliness, frustration, anger) that are experienced in less sociopathic form by plenty of men who don't become mass shooters — and because the distinctive way partisan polarization is interacting with sexual differences in our time is likely to produce quite a lot more of these unfulfilled men over the coming years. Marriage rates have been falling for years. Men and women are both unhappy with the dating scene. There are numerous reasons for both trends. But one of them is the country's growing political divide. Joe Biden won women by 15 points in 2020 while Donald Trump won men by 8 points. When this gender gap is combined with increasing cultural and moral animosity between the parties, the possibility of a couple negotiating a cross-partisan relationship or marriage seems increasingly remote. One especially noteworthy bit of evidence of this difficulty was captured last summer in a poll from the Pew Research Center. It found that 47 percent of single adults on the dating scene definitely or probably would not consider being in a committed relationship with someone who had voted for Trump. Twenty-six percent said the same about dating someone who had voted for Hillary Clinton.
3-19-21 The lies women internalize about the police
Like many white girls in America, I was raised on two myths: That everywhere I went, scary men would be out to get me, and that the police would always be there for me if I were in trouble. And so, when watching Emerald Fennell's five-time Oscar-nominated rape-revenge movie Promising Young Woman earlier this week, I recognized a familiar fantasy: The triumphant summoning of the police by the female protagonist, to put the movie's bad guys behind bars. Others have already remarked upon the unsuitability of this ending. I might've been able to generously read it as in keeping with the indulgent fantasy that is inherent to all rape-revenge films, in which a woman is able to exact a gloriously unrealistic payback on her abusers. But I watched the movie, specifically, on Tuesday — less than a week after a Metropolitan Police officer was charged with the kidnapping and murder of missing Londoner Sarah Everard, and the same evening that, though at that moment unbeknownst to me, a gunman in Atlanta was targeting and murdering Asian women. I don't blame Fennell for internalizing the myth that the police are a woman's deus ex machina, ready to spring forth to protect us from the boogeymen waiting in dark alleys and parking garages. But I do blame Fennell for perpetuating it, especially in a purportedly feminist movie like Promising Young Woman. Society, the media, and entertainment — including projects like Oscar-nominated movies — encourage women to trust that the police will be there for them, and that officers are the only thing standing between us and certain rape and murder at the hands of imagined strangers. Reality, though, tells us the tragic opposite. Most appalling and widely publicized is law enforcement's systematic failure of rape victims, all of which makes the cops' heroic appearance at the end of Promising Young Woman particularly jarring. After all, the police who arrest the rapists at the end of the film are meant to be the same ones who, in the United States, sit on a backlog of as many as 200,000 untested rape kits. Rape victims are sometimes forced to sue to even get police to properly investigate their cases, and describe being humiliated, shamed, or ignored in the process of reporting their trauma. "What the researchers found is a subterranean river of chauvinism, where the fate of a rape case usually depends on the detective's or (less often) prosecutor's view of the victim — not the alleged perpetrator," The Atlantic wrote in a 2019 cover story about this country's "epidemic of disbelief" in assault survivors. Though the myth of the police tells women that officers are here for our protection, it is not uncommon to hear stories about law enforcement making a situation for women far, far worse. In one study, conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, only one-in-five survivors who reached out to the police for help felt "safer" afterwards, while one-in-three felt less safe; two-thirds said that they were "somewhat or extremely afraid to call the police in future." Their fears aren't unfounded, either: "In some cases, the victim [who calls the police for help] is threatened with arrest rather than the offender," The Hotline found. All too common are stories of boyfriends and husbands murdering a woman after her repeated requests for help from the police. Police are also disproportionate perpetrators of violence against women. "Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population," a 2014 Atlantic report found, concluding that the police have a "bigger domestic violence problem" than the much more publicized one in the NFL. Another study, which looked at national records over a 10-year period, found that "an officer is accused of an act of sexual misconduct at least every five days," while another study discovered that "sexual misconduct is the second-most-frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force," The Washington Post reports (the statistics are even scarier if you're a transgender person).
3-18-21 Australia: Sex consent app proposal sparks backlash
Australians have derided a suggestion by the New South Wales (NSW) police commissioner that an app could be used to register sexual consent. On Thursday, Mick Fuller championed the idea of an app where people could digitally record their mutual agreement to have sex. He said the technology could be used to establish "positive consent". But many people have criticised the proposal as short-sighted and potentially open to abuse. Concerns have also been raised about whether it could be used for state surveillance. In recent weeks, Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, and on Monday tens of thousands of people around the nation marched in protest. NSW Police, in introducing the app idea on Thursday, said it was aimed at normalising the act of seeking explicit consent. "You may have a son or a brother and you think this is too challenging but this app... protects everybody," Commissioner Mick Fuller told the Nine Network. He said the need to prove explicit consent was a consistent problem in sexual assault court cases, and that an app's record could help achieve better legal outcomes for victims. He added that the idea had been raised with the NSW government. Less than 10% of the near 15,000 sexual assault cases reported to NSW police last year resulted in police charges, he said. "It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology," he wrote in Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. But women's advocates have pointed out that the app's use in reality could pose many problems. They said a consent record could be superseded simply if someone changed their mind, or it could be faked. "The abuser can simply coerce the victim to use the app," tweeted the head of the state's domestic violence service Women's Safety NSW. Female lawmakers also criticised the app as inadequate compared to efforts to improve sexual assault laws for victims, and improve awareness.
3-17-21 Demi Lovato says she was raped as a teenager in new documentary
Demi Lovato has said she was raped as a teenager while working for the Disney Channel. The 28-year-old revealed in her documentary Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil that the person faced no consequences after she came forward. The singer does not say who the offender was, only that she "had to see this person all the time" afterwards. Radio 1 Newsbeat has contacted the Disney Channel for comment. The documentary was shown at the South by Southwest virtual festival. This article contains details of an alleged rape. "My MeToo story is me telling somebody that someone did this to me and they never got in trouble for it," says Demi Lovato in it, according to Variety's review. "I've just kept it quiet because I've always had something to say, and I'm tired of opening my mouth." The YouTube docuseries tackles issues in Demi Lovato's life such as trauma, addiction and her relapse into a drug overdose in 2018. She speaks about her alleged rape saying: "We were hooking up but I said - hey, this is not going any farther. "And that didn't matter to them, they did it anyways. And I internalised it and I told myself it was my fault because I still went in the room with him." She says she coped through self-harm, and going through the eating disorder bulimia. In the series, she also talks about a "promise ring" which was worn by some young stars including herself and the Jonas Brothers, as a commitment to only have sex after marriage. "So what, I'm supposed to come out to the public after saying I have a promise ring? Six months later, I'm supposed to say, well I had sex, even though it was rape? Some people aren't going to see it that way." The series also shows the damage Demi's drug overdose had in 2018. She was taken to hospital after being found unconscious at her Los Angeles home. "My doctors said that I had five to 10 more minutes." After suffering three strokes and a heart-attack, she's previously said she had been "left with brain damage and I still feel the effects of that".
3-17-21 Atlanta shootings: Asian women among eight killed at three spas
Eight people, many of them women of Asian descent, have been killed in shootings at spas in the US state of Georgia. Police say the shootings took place at a massage parlour in Acworth, a suburb north of Atlanta, and two spas in the city itself. South Korea later confirmed that four of the victims were of Korean descent. Officials say a 21-year-old man was arrested and is suspected of involvement in all of the attacks. No motive has yet been established, but there are fears the crimes may have deliberately targeted people of Asian descent. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans spiked in recent months, fuelled by rhetoric that blames them for the spread of Covid-19. In an address last week, President Joe Biden condemned "vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated." The first happened at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Cherokee County. Two people died at the scene and three were taken to hospital, where two more died, sheriff's office spokesman Capt Jay Baker said. He later confirmed the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and said a Hispanic man had been wounded. Less than an hour later, police were called to a "robbery in progress" at Gold Spa in north-east Atlanta. "Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds," police said. While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead. Police quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said all four Atlanta victims were Asian women. Investigators who had studied CCTV footage then released images of a suspect near one of the spas. Police said that, after a manhunt, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240km) south of Atlanta. Capt Baker said investigators were "very confident" that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings. The identities of the victims have not yet been made public. Authorities in South Korea said they were working to confirm the nationalities of the four women of Korean descent.
3-16-21 Australia March 4 Justice: Thousands march against sexual assault
Tens of thousands of people have turned out to marches across Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the country. They were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around Australia's parliament. The allegations have focused scrutiny on the conservative government.
3-15-21 Australia March 4 Justice: Thousands march against sexual assault
Tens of thousands of people have turned out to marches across Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the country. They were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around Australia's parliament. The allegations have focused scrutiny on the conservative government. The protests were organised a week ago, after Attorney General Christian Porter revealed he was the subject of a 1988 rape allegation - which he denies. A separate case - that of Brittany Higgins, an ex-political adviser who alleged in February that she was raped in a minister's office in 2019 - has also fuelled public anger. Protesters feel the government's response to the sexual assault allegations has been inadequate. Ms Higgins spoke to the thousands of protesters outside Parliament House on Monday, saying: "There is a horrible societal acceptance of sexual violence experienced by women in Australia." "My story was on the front page for the sole reason that it was a painful reminder to women that if it can happen in Parliament House, it can truly happen anywhere." The protest rallies - known as the March 4 Justice - formed from noon on Monday across 40 cities and towns in Australia, including the major cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne as well as smaller country towns. Organisers suggested it could be the "biggest uprising of women that Australia's seen". Many attendees carried placards and wore black in protest. In Melbourne, protesters carried a long banner listing the names of women killed in acts of gendered violence in the past decade. Organisers at the Canberra rally also presented a petition to lawmakers with over 90,000 signatures calling for greater accountability over sexist behaviours in parliament. They have also called for Mr Porter - a senior government minister - to stand aside. Police have closed their case against the attorney general, but others have argued for a separate inquiry into the allegation against him.
3-13-21 Mississippi bans trans girls from school sports
Mississippi's governor has signed a law banning transgender athletes from competing in girls' sports at school. Activists say the "Mississippi Fairness Act" is the first law targeting transgender people to pass in 2021. The bill argues that boys and girls have "inherently different athletic capabilities". It is expected to face legal challenges. It comes as a swath of Republican states push back against pro-LGBT measures from the Biden administration. The law requires public high schools and institutions of higher education to "designate its athletic teams or sports according to biological sex". Coming into effect in July, it also calls for protecting schools that maintain separate sports teams from complaint or investigation. Supporters of the bill had argued that transgender women have an unfair advantage over those born female, because they have "categorically different strength, speed and endurance". It cites an article written by a trio of women's sports stars - including tennis champion Martina Navratilova - that said it would be "a denial of science" to ignore that those born male can "beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition". Ms Navratilova has since established a group that she says will seek a "science-based, ethical approach" to "establish a middle ground that both protects girls' and women's sport and accommodates transgender athletes". She has also proposed a special provision for elite sports. The bill passed through both chambers of the state legislature by overwhelming majorities, the House by 81-28 and the Senate 34-9. Its sponsor, Republican senator Angela Burks Hill, said she introduced the legislation after seeing issues arise in other parts of the country. Opponents of transgender women athletes competing in accordance with their gender identity frequently cite a lawsuit filed against two trans females who were champion sprinters in Connecticut. Ms Hill did not identify any similar local concerns but said "numerous coaches across the state" called to say pre-emptive action was needed. Critics say that examples of transgender girls outcompeting other girls are rare, which is why the Connecticut case is so frequently cited. (Webmaster's comment: Those who oppose LGBQs are full of fear! You can see it their face!)
3-13-21 Sri Lanka to ban burka and other face coverings
Sri Lanka has taken a significant step towards banning the burka and other face coverings in public, on grounds of national security. Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara told the BBC that he had signed a cabinet order which now needs parliamentary approval. Officials say they expect the ban to be implemented very soon. The move comes nearly two years after a wave of co-ordinated attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday. Suicide bombers targeted Catholic churches and tourist hotels, killing more than 250 people in April 2019. The Islamic State militant group said it had carried out the attacks. As the authorities tracked down the militants, an emergency short-term ban on face coverings was implemented in the majority-Buddhist nation. Now the government is moving to re-introduce it on a permanent basis. Mr Weerasekara told reporters that the burka was "a sign of religious extremism that came about recently". He added that it was "affecting national security" and that a permanent ban was overdue. "So I have signed that and it will be implemented very soon," he said. Mr Weerasekara also said the government planned to ban more than 1,000 madrassa Islamic schools which he said were flouting national education policy. "Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children. It must be as per the government laid down education policy. Most of unregistered schools "teach only the Arabic language and the Koran, so that is bad", he said. Hilmi Ahmed, vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told the BBC that if officials have problems identifying people in burkas "there would not be any objection from anyone to remove the face cover for identity purposes". He said everyone had a right to wear a face covering regardless of their faith:"That has to be seen from a rights point of view, and not just a religious point of view."
3-12-21 De Blasio: NYC mayor calls on Cuomo to quit over harassment claims
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct. Mr Cuomo, who is already being investigated after five women accused him of sexual harassment, is now facing allegations of assault from a sixth. Mr De Blasio called the women's accounts "absolutely unacceptable". The governor has denied all of the allegations against him, and said of the most recent claim: "I have never done anything like this." Mayor De Blasio, a long-time political rival of Democrat Governor Cuomo, told reporters on Thursday: "The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her, it's absolutely unacceptable. "It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor." Mr Cuomo, whose term in office comes to an end in 2022, was last year praised for his handling of the Covid epidemic in his state. However, this year he has been accused of obscuring the scale of coronavirus deaths in the state's nursing homes. Since the allegations of harassment were made a string of people have called for his resignation. On Thursday, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he had given the go-ahead for an "impeachment investigation" into the allegations made against Mr Cuomo. The investigation, which will interview witnesses and look at evidence, would be the first step towards impeachment. More than 55 Democratic legislators in New York have signed a letter calling on him to step down. In a statement Mr Cuomo called the new claims, reported by the Times Union of Albany on Wednesday, "gut-wrenching". He has previously said that he would wait for the results of an independent investigation into the allegations, which is being overseen by the New York's attorney general Letitia James.
3-10-21 Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi activist 'loses appeal against sentence'
The Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has lost an appeal against her sentence, her family says. Ms Hathloul was released on probation last month after almost three years in prison, but she is subject to a five-year travel ban and other restrictions. On Wednesday, her sister said a court had upheld her sentence for violating a counter-terrorism law. Ms Hathloul has insisted she committed no crime and vowed to bring to justice officials she accuses of torturing her. The 31-year-old was instrumental in the campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. She was detained in May 2018, just weeks before the ban was lifted, along with about a dozen other female activists as part of an apparent crackdown on dissent overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. For the first three months, she was held incommunicado, without access to her family and lawyer. Human rights organisations later reported accusations that interrogators had tortured her and at least three other women during that time, including with electronic shocks and whippings, and had sexually harassed them. The Saudi government has denied she was mistreated. Last December, a terrorism tribunal found Ms Hathloul guilty of "inciting change to the basic ruling regime" and "serving a foreign agenda inside the kingdom by using the internet with the objective of damaging public order". Saudi officials said the charges were related to Ms Hathloul's contacts with foreign diplomats, media, and activist groups. But UN human rights experts described the charges as "spurious". While the judge suspended part of her prison sentence of five years and eight months, paving the way for her release, he warned that the suspension would be annulled if she committed any crimes within the next three years. He also banned her from leaving Saudi Arabia for five years. At the first appeal hearing last week, Ms Hathloul was asked by the judge whether she wished to show repentance, according to her brother Walid. "She replied that she had proven in all her defences that she had not committed any crime based on local and international laws. So, on what basis would she present her repentance?" he wrote on Twitter.
3-9-21 Women's Day: Protesters clash with police in Mexico
Police and activists have clashed in Mexico City at a march to mark International Women's Day. Officers forced back protesters with tear gas and riot shields in the capital's main square, the Zócalo. Protesters were calling for the government to address the country's poor record on the murder of women, often referred to as femicide, and gender-based violence. Government figures suggest at least 939 women were victims of femicide in 2020. Thousands of women, some with their daughters, attended the march in the Mexican capital on Monday. One girl was seen carrying a sign reading "They haven't killed me, but I live in fear". At one point, some members of the crowd managed to pull down some of the large metal fencing around the National Palace using hammers and wooden poles. Authorities erected the barrier ahead of the march. It was then covered in the names of femicide victims by women's groups. Some riot officers used their shields to block the protesters from entering the Zócalo. Local paper El Universal said demonstrators set fire to the shields of some of the police officers, "but the flames were extinguished". Police used tear gas and batons to help disperse the crowd. At least 15 officers and four members of the public were injured, according to local media. There are reports of police detaining both journalists and those in the crowd. Clashes between women's rights campaigners and police are becoming more common in Mexico City as activists say it is the only way the government will pay attention to them. They have accused President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of ignoring the problem of violence against women. Last year, Mr López Obrador claimed the issue of femicides had been "manipulated" by critics of his administration. Last November, there was outrage across the country after police in the beach resort of Cancún fired shots during a protest against the killing of women. Two people were injured by bullets and two more protesters were also hurt in the chaos which ensued.
3-8-21 Women's day: Mexico barrier turned into women's memorial
Fencing erected to protect Mexico's National Palace ahead of a planned march to mark International Women's Day has been turned into a memorial. The names of hundreds of victims of femicides - murders of women because of their gender - have been painted on the metal fencing. The three-metre-high (9.8ft) barrier was put up to protect the palace "from vandalism", the government said. Women's groups say the government does not do enough to combat femicides. They also criticised President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for ordering the National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts to be surrounded by barriers, asking what he as afraid of. The president responded by saying that the barriers were put up "not out of fear, but to prevent provocations and to protect historic buildings". "Last time around, bombs were thrown against this historic building," he said, referring to protests over the brutal murder of a seven-year-old girl in February 2020 in which slogans were sprayed on to the walls of the National Palace and petrol bombs lobbed against a door. The president added women had the right to protest, but he said there was "much provocation, many people infiltrate [the protests] and seek to do damage, they use violence as a form of protest and throw Molotov cocktails, and we don't want anyone to get injured". He also said he was "not a male chauvinist", in response to criticism by women who say he has ignored the problem of violence against women. Women's rights activists say they want to draw attention to the hundreds of women that are killed every year in Mexico. Government figures suggest at least 939 women were victims of femicide in 2020. "We women want to ask for justice and that people understand, and that the president, who lives here, knows that we're fighting because they are killing us," one activist told Reuters news agency. Mexico City officials said thousands of police, including 2,000 female officers, would be deployed across the capital ahead of the planned marches on Monday. Women's groups are planning activities across the country. In Ciudad Juárez, a city infamous for the high number of women who have gone missing from there over the years, relatives of the disappeared held up pink crosses with the slogan "Not one more" in protest over the weekend.
3-8-21 'We women are pushed out of work because of childcare. It's hurtful'
International Women's Day on 8 March has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, while also raising awareness of continued inequality. In the US, women say they have been hit hardest at work during the pandemic, with their participation in the workforce at a 33-year low. We hear from two women who lost their jobs early on in the pandemic - and haven't worked since.
3-7-21 Switzerland referendum: Voters projected to ban face coverings in public
Switzerland appears to have narrowly voted in favour of banning face coverings in public, including the burka or niqab worn by Muslim women, following a controversial referendum. Projections by broadcaster SRF, based on partial results, show the measure passing by 52% to 48%. Sunday's referendum was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as "Stop extremism". The government argued against the ban. It said it was not up to the state to dictate what women wear. According to research by the University of Lucerne, almost no-one in Switzerland wears a burka and only around 30 women wear the niqab. About 5% of Switzerland's population of 8.6 million people are Muslim, most originating from Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo. Swiss people are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country's system of direct democracy. They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums. It is not the first time Islam has figured in a Swiss referendum. In 2009 citizens went against government advice and voted to ban the building of minarets - a proposal also put forward by the SVP which said minarets were a sign of Islamisation. The proposal in Sunday's referendum did not mention Islam directly and was also aimed at stopping violent street protesters from wearing masks. However, the vote was widely referred to as "the burka ban". The latest proposal predated the coronavirus pandemic which has meant all Swiss adults having to wear masks in many settings. Ahead of the vote, Walter Wobmann, chairman of the referendum committee and an SVP lawmaker, described Muslim face coverings as "a symbol for this extreme, political Islam which has become increasingly prominent in Europe and which has no place in Switzerland". "In Switzerland our tradition is that you show your face. That is a sign of our basic freedoms," he said.
3-4-21 India Supreme Court: Calls for Justice Sharad Bobde to quit over rape remarks
Calls have been growing in India for the chief justice of the Supreme Court to resign "without a moment's delay" after his recent remarks in two cases of alleged rape. In an "open letter" to Chief Justice Sharad Bobde, more than 5,000 feminists, rights activists and concerned citizens wrote that they were "outraged" and asked him to retract his statements and apologise. So what did the chief justice say that has angered people so much? He asked two "atrocious" questions. Justice Bobde, who was heading a three-judge bench, asked a 23-year-old man accused of raping a girl whether he would marry her. "If you want to marry (her) we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail," he said. His comments shocked many, especially considering the horrific accusations the girl - who was 16 at the time of the alleged rapes in 2014-15 - had made against the man, a distant relative. According to the letter, he "is accused of stalking, tying up, gagging, repeatedly raping a minor school-going girl, and threatening to douse her in petrol and set her alight, to hurl acid at her, and to have her brother killed". It added that "the rape came to light when the minor school-going victim attempted suicide". The girl's family also alleged that they had agreed not to go to the police because they were promised by the accused's mother that once the girl became an adult, they would marry the two. In a country where victims are often blamed for rape, and sexual assault carries lifelong stigma, her family agreed to the arrangement. But after the accused backtracked from his promise and married someone else, the survivor went to the police. The accused, who is a government employee in the western state of Maharashtra, had been granted anticipatory bail by a lower court after he pleaded that he would lose his job if arrested. But the Bombay High Court called the order "atrocious" and cancelled his bail. The man then approached the Supreme Court - which on Monday granted him protection from arrest for four weeks and where the infamous exchange took place between his lawyer and Justice Bobde.
3-2-21 Andrew Cuomo: Fresh calls for New York governor to resign over harassment claims
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing calls from colleagues in his own party to resign after a third woman accused him of sexual harassment. A photographer told the New York Times that the politician touched her face and asked to kiss her at a wedding. Mr Cuomo, 63, denied touching anyone inappropriately but apologised if his comments were misinterpreted. An investigation has begun after two former staff members also alleged harassment. Following the latest accusation New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice added her name to the list of people calling for the governor, who is one of the most influential Democratic politicians, to resign. New York City councillor Antonio Reynoso echoed her call on Twitter. In the latest allegations, photographer Anna Ruch said that Mr Cuomo put his hands on her back when they met at a wedding in 2019. She said he seemed "aggressive" when she removed his hands, and he went on to touch her face and ask to kiss her. A photograph of the incident was also published in the newspaper. "I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ms Ruch, 33, told the New York Times. In a statement released before Ms Ruch's accusations were published, Mr Cuomo apologised that some things he had done "have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation". On Monday New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the first steps in an external investigation of the allegations by former staff Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett against Mr Cuomo. The governor became a familiar face internationally for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, but he is now under scrutiny for allegedly hiding the true number of pandemic-related deaths in New York care homes. He has also been accused of bullying colleagues, including by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
2-28-21 New York Governor Cuomo faces fresh claims of sexual harassment
A second former aide has come forward with accusations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser to Mr Cuomo until November, told The New York Times that he had harassed her last year. Mr Cuomo has denied any inappropriate behaviour and ordered an independent inquiry into the allegations. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has previously accused the governor of sexually harassing her. Mr Cuomo, 63, who has been governor for more than a decade, has found himself under pressure on several fronts in recent weeks. He is under scrutiny from the Democratic Party - of which he is a member - for allegedly hiding the true number of Covid-related deaths in New York care homes. Mr Cuomo has also faced allegations of bullying, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Ms Bennett, 25, told the New York Times that the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life including whether she believed that age made a difference in romantic relationships. She said he had also suggested that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s. Ms Bennett said she believed the comments were clear overtures to a sexual relationship. In the interview, she said that in June last year Mr Cuomo had talked about feeling lonely during the pandemic and had asked her whom she had last hugged. She said she dodged the question by saying she missed hugging her parents, but she believed the conversation had been another overture. "I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared and was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job," she said. Ms Bennett said she informed Mr Cuomo's chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, after the interaction and less than a week later was transferred to another job.
2-24-21 Fashion designer Alexander Wang accused of sexual assault
American fashion designer Alexander Wang is facing further allegations of sexual misconduct. Keaton Bullen, 21, a student at New York's Parsons School of Design, has alleged to BBC News he was assaulted by Mr Wang at a club in the city in 2019. It comes as the high-profile lawyer Lisa Bloom says she is now representing 11 men with misconduct allegations against Mr Wang. Mr Wang robustly denies all the claims made against him. Mr Bullen, then 20, was with a friend at the Fishbowl club in New York City when he says he encountered Alexander Wang on 24 August 2019 at about 11:30pm. He told the BBC they had initially talked about their mutual alma mater, Parsons School of Design in lower Manhattan, where Mr Bullen is currently studying interior design. Mr Wang then invited the pair to his table and and offered them vodka by the bottle before eventually leading him to the dance floor, Mr Bullen said. In the early hours of the morning, Mr Bullen alleged, Mr Wang sexually assaulted him. "All of a sudden he unzipped my trousers, put his hands in my pants and started grabbing my penis in front of a bunch of people," he said. "I completely froze. "He then said: 'I want to take you home with me,'" Mr Bullen alleged. "I felt weirded out... and removed myself from the situation as fast as possible." Paul Tweed, one of Mr Wang's lawyers, said he was currently awaiting CCTV footage of the club from the night which he said "his client believes will totally disprove this allegation". Mr Bullen said he felt a duty to speak out to support others who had come forward with allegations and were being called "liars". He is not taking legal action and said he did not want his photo used, out of concern the public would accuse him of seeking attention. Allegations against Mr Wang previously emerged in December after a British model claimed on TikTok that the designer had groped him during a concert at a New York City nightclub in January 2017.
2-23-21 Disha Ravi: India activist, 22, granted bail by court
An Indian court has granted bail to a 22-year-old climate activist who was arrested for sharing a document intended to help farmers protesting against new agricultural laws. Police said Disha Ravi was a "key conspirator" in the "formulation and dissemination" of a protest "toolkit". They have accused her of sedition and conspiracy - charges she has denied. Activists have called her arrest a warning to those who want to show support for anti-government protests. Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for three months against new laws, which they say will benefit only big corporations. These protests have come to represent one of the biggest challenges faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Ms Ravi, one of the founders of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future climate strike, was arrested by Delhi police on 13 February from her home in the southern city of Bangalore. She was flown to Delhi where she appeared before a magistrate and was remanded in custody. In a statement posted on social media, police said she had "collaborated" to "spread disaffection against the Indian state". They said she was an editor of a document - "toolkit" - and had shared it with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who had tweeted it. On Saturday, a Delhi court asked the Delhi police whether it had any evidence against Ms Ravi or "are we required to draw inferences and conjectures". The police were opposed to Ms Ravi's bail application. Her lawyer told the court that "having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition". He asked the court whether, for example, it would be fair to consider someone who preferred "Kung Fu to yoga" a "Chinese spy" as a result. Police said the toolkit suggested there was a conspiracy in the run-up to a huge rally on 26 January, which saw protesting farmers clash with the police. In court, Ms Ravi broke down and told the judge she had merely edited two lines of the document. But police said she had shared the document with Ms Thunberg and then asked her to remove it after it was "accidentally" leaked.
2-20-21 Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint
A former political adviser, who alleges she was raped by a senior colleague in Australia's Parliament House, says she will make a formal complaint. Brittany Higgins spoke out in a TV interview on Monday that has prompted shock and outrage over her treatment. In the interview, she said she feared losing her job after the alleged assault in 2019 and had little support from her bosses. Ms Higgins has urged for a "comprehensive investigation". Speaking to Network Ten, she claimed she had told her employer and the minister told her she would be supported if she pursued a police complaint, but she felt pressured not to, believing it would end her career. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for the government's handling of her complaint and has called for a review into parliament's environment and culture. In a statement on Friday, Ms Higgins said: "I want a comprehensive police investigation into what happened to me ... and for my perpetrator to face the full force of the law." She called on the Australian Federal Police to act swiftly over the alleged attack "in what should be the safest building in Australia". "I believe that getting to the bottom of what happened to me and how the system failed me is critical to creating a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff." Ms Higgins, who was 24 at the time of the alleged assault, says she was weeks into her new "dream job" with Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds when she went out for drinks with a group including her alleged attacker, an older male colleague. She said the man offered her a lift home at the end of the night, but instead took her to Parliament House where she fell asleep in the minister's office drunk. The 26-year-old said she then woke up to the man sexually assaulting her. "I woke up mid-rape essentially," she told Network Ten. "I started crying... I told him to stop."
2-17-21 Nodeep Kaur: The jailed activist Meena Harris tweeted about
Earlier this month, Meena Harris, niece of American Vice President Kamala Harris, called for the release of Nodeep Kaur - a 25-year-old Indian labour rights activist who's been in prison for more than a month. Her arrest has caused global outrage. Tweeting with the hashtag #ReleaseNodeepKaur, Ms Harris wrote that the activist was "arrested, tortured & sexually assaulted in police custody". A few days later, Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, brought up Nodeep's arrest in the British parliament. Thousands of others have tweeted about her case, and farmers' leaders and student activists in the northern Indian state of Punjab have expressed solidarity with her. On Wednesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is due to hear her bail petition. Separately, the court has started another case, asking the police in Haryana state to explain her "illegal confinement" after the chief justice received emails alleging torture in custody. Nodeep was arrested on 12 January as she participated in a protest outside a factory in Kundli Industrial Area (KIA), on the outskirts of the Indian capital Delhi. One of the main reasons why her arrest led to a Twitter storm is the circumstances in which she was picked up and allegations that she was "sexually assaulted and tortured" - accusations that police have strongly denied. "She was beaten by male police officers publicly and they dragged her by her hair into the police van," her older sister Rajveer Kaur told me. "The next day when I met her in jail, she told me she was beaten inside the van and at the police station. She was slapped and punched, and hit with shoes and sticks, including on her private parts, resulting in heavy bleeding for days," she said. Her medical report is yet to be shared with her family. But an official who's seen the report told me that "her injuries indicate that she was tortured and hit on her private parts".
2-15-21 Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: 'I lost my hand when a soldier tried to rape me'
An Ethiopian schoolgirl has told the BBC how she lost her right hand defending herself from a soldier who tried to rape her - and who had also tried to force her grandfather to have sex with her. The 18-year-old, who we are not naming, has been in hospital in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region for more than two months recovering from her ordeal. The conflict in Tigray, which erupted in early November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive to oust the region's ruling TPLF party after its fighters captured federal military bases, has destroyed her dreams, and those of many of her classmates. Most of them, along with other families in their town, have fled to the mountains - even after Mr Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, declared victory following the capture of Tigray's capital, Mekelle, by federal forces on 29 November. This is because the security forces began an operation to hunt down TPLF members who refused to surrender, which has resulted in allegations of serious human rights abuses being committed against the residents of Tigray. The authorities deny the accusations. The schoolgirl and her grandfather remained in their home in the town of Abiy Addi, about 96km (60 miles) west of Mekelle, because it was difficult for them to travel far. On 3 December, the teenager said that a soldier, dressed in an Ethiopian military uniform, entered their house demanding to know where the Tigrayan fighters were. After searching the house and finding no-one, he ordered them to lie on a bed and began shooting all around him. "He then ordered my grandfather to have sex with me. My grandfather got very angry and... they started fighting," she says. The soldier, she says, took the old man outside and shot him in the shoulders and the thigh and then returned to her, saying that he had killed him. "He said: 'No-one can save you now. Get your clothes off.' I begged him not to but he repeatedly punched me." Their struggle continued for several minutes - though she felt disorientated from the blows - and in the end he became so angry that he turned the gun on her. "He shot my right hand three times. He shot my leg three times. He left when he heard a gunshot from outside." Thankfully her grandfather was still alive, though unconscious, and for two days they remained cowed and injured in their home too scared to seek help.
2-12-21 LGBT+ History Month: Eudy Simelane - the international footballer murdered for being gay
An international footballer, coach and aspiring referee, Eudy Simelane dedicated her life to the sport. She was one of the first openly gay women to live in her township of Kwa-Thema in South Africa and was a well-known LGBT+ activist. But because of her sexuality, Simelane was brutally raped and murdered in 2008, aged just 31. This is the story of her life and how the legacy of her death is still impacting South African society. Simelane was born on 11 March 1977, in Kwa-Thema, a township in the Gauteng province, south east of Johannesburg. Her interest in football started when she was only four years old, demanding her brother Bafana always took her to practice with him despite it not being a sport commonly played by women at the time. Passion soon became dedication as she honed her skills daily. "Five o'clock in the morning, she [would be] at the gym - football was her favourite and her priority", her late mother Mally recalled at a memorial lecture in 2016. Nicknamed 'Styles' because she was left-footed, midfielder Simelane joined her local team, Kwa-Thema Ladies, now known as the Springs Home Sweepers. Speaking to the BBC World Service in 2018 about Simelane's popularity on the pitch, her father Khotso said: "Everyone came to the ground when she played, number six". Springs Home Sweepers has produced a number of stars including Janine van Wyk, South Africa's most capped footballer and captain of the national team, known as 'Banyana Banyana', meaning 'the girls'. Simelane played several times for the national side, coached four local youth teams and wanted to qualify to become her country's first female referee. A campaigner for equality rights and social change, she was one of the first women to come out as a lesbian in South Africa. In the 2020 Eudy Simelane Memorial Lecture, her brother, Bafana said: "In sport she was a diamond, scoring beautiful goals. She was a marvellous person, intelligent, everything. It was a package. Everything you would find in Eudy. Jokingly she was playing, teasing others. That is what I miss about her."
2-8-21 Abducted, trafficked or killed: The life of a sex worker in Sierra Leone
Africa Eye has been investigating the treatment of sex workers in Sierra Leone and uncovered a world where many are abused, trafficked and even killed. In the city of Makeni, a group of sex workers, led by a woman called Lady P, are on a mission to fight for justice and to improve their rights. Although sex work is not illegal in the country, these women are seen as immoral outcasts and receive little support from the government or society. And, as Tyson Conteh reports, their survival has been made even more precarious since the coronavirus pandemic.
2-4-21 Uighur camps: US, UK governments condemn reports of systematic rape
The US government has said it is "deeply disturbed" by a BBC report detailing allegations of systematic rape of Uighur women in Chinese camps. "These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences," a spokesperson said. In the UK parliament on Thursday, government minister Nigel Adams said the report showed "clearly evil acts". According to estimates, more than a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China. An investigation published by the BBC on Wednesday contained first-hand testimony of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of women detainees by police and guards. China's foreign ministry has denied the allegations, accusing the BBC of making a "false report". The testimony given to the BBC detailed allegations of rape and sexual abuse of Uighur women detained in China's internment camps in the Xinjiang region. One woman told the BBC that women were removed from their cells "every night" and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled the region after her release and is now in the US, said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men. A Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men. The Chinese men "would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates", said Gulzira Auelkhan. "They forced me to take off those women's clothes and to restrain their hands and leave the room," she said. A former guard at one of the camps, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described torture and food deprivation of inmates. Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on China's policies in Xinjiang, said the testimony gathered by the BBC was "some of the most horrendous evidence I have seen since the atrocity began". "It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed," he said.
2-2-21 AOC: Ocasio-Cortez says she is sexual assault survivor
US Democratic politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said she is a survivor of sexual assault. The congresswoman revealed her trauma as she accused Republicans who deflect blame for last month's Capitol riot of using "the tactics of abusers". "I'm a survivor of sexual assault," she said, fighting back tears. "And I haven't told many people that in my life." She is one of the highest profile Democrats in Congress. Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist who represents the 14th district in New York City, is also often a target of conservatives. In an Instagram Live on Monday night, the 31-year-old disclosed little about her sexual assault ordeal, but said: "When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other." She blasted conservative Republicans like Texas Senator Ted Cruz for denying what she described as their responsibility for the storming of the Capitol complex, which left five people dead. After Mr Cruz last week agreed with Ms Ocasio-Cortez on a policy matter, she lashed out: "You almost had me murdered three weeks ago so you can sit this one out." In Monday night's Instagram Live, she criticised Chip Roy, a Texas congressman, for demanding she apologise to Mr Cruz. "These are the tactics of abusers," she said during the broadcast to 150,000 or so viewers. "Or rather, these are the tactics that abusers use. "And so when I see this happen, how I feel, how I felt was: 'Not again.' I'm not going to let this happen again. I'm not going to let it happen to me again. I'm not going to let it happen to the other people who've been victimised by this situation again. And I'm not going to let this happen to our country. We're not going to let it happen." She also singled out Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, who joined Mr Cruz in challenging the results of November's presidential election amid debunked claims from now-former President Donald Trump that the vote had been stolen. A pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol on 6 January as lawmakers gathered to certify President Joe Biden's election victory, and Ms Ocasio-Cortez described the ensuing mayhem as like a "zombie movie". During her Instagram Live, she said: "We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability. All these people telling us to move on are doing so at their own convenience." She added: "The folks who are saying, 'We should move on,' 'We shouldn't have accountability,' et cetera, are saying: 'Can you just forget about this so we can, you know, do it again?'" Ms Ocasio-Cortez described hiding in her bathroom at her congressional office during the chaos of the Capitol riot last month. "I thought I was going to die," she said.
2-1-21 Saba Sahar: 'I survived a Taliban assassination attempt'
There's been a series of targeted killings of journalists, activists and people in government jobs over the past few months in Afghanistan. One of the few to survive an assassination attempt is Saba Sahar. She is one of Afghanistan's first female film directors, as well as being an actor and police officer. Violence is surging in Afghanistan, even as the government is holding peace talks with the Taliban, and foreign troops are withdrawing. That's left many like Saba worrying about the future of their country.
1-25-21 Keira Knightley rules out sex scenes directed by men
Keira Knightley has said she will not appear in nude scenes for films that have a male director. Speaking to the Chanel Connects podcast, the actress said: "I don't have an absolute ban [on filming nude scenes], but I kind of do with men. "It's partly vanity and also it's the male gaze," the 35-year-old explained. The topic of how actors are treated while filming sex scenes has been put in the spotlight in recent years, particularly since the MeToo movement. Many studios now hire intimacy coordinators to oversee sex scenes and ensure actors feel comfortable and are treated respectfully during shooting. Knightley has previously revealed she has had a "no nudity clause" added to her film contracts since becoming a mother in 2015. During the interview, Knightley also said she felt strongly that she would want to work with a female director if a film focused on female life experiences. "If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body [acceptance], I feel like, I'm sorry, but that would have to be with a female film-maker," she said. "If it was about motherhood, about how extraordinary that body is, about how suddenly you're looking at this body that you've got to know and is your own and it's seen in a completely different way and it's changed in ways which are unfathomable to you before you become a mother, then yeah, I would totally be up for exploring that with a woman who would understand that. "But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze." Knightley said she appreciated the need for certain films to feature nude scenes. The actress said: "I don't want it to be those horrible sex scenes where you're all greased up and everybody is grunting. I'm not interested in doing that. "Saying that, there's times where I go, 'Yeah, I completely see where this sex would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot', so therefore you can use somebody else.
1-22-21 Julie Payette: Canada governor general quits amid bullying claims
Canadian Governor General Julie Payette has resigned amid claims she created a toxic work environment for her staff. The representative of the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, quit amid reports a highly critical workplace inquiry would be made public. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed he had received her resignation. He had recommended the appointment of the former astronaut in 2017, though her exit has no immediate implications for his Liberal government. The government had launched a third-party investigation of harassment claims after CBC News reported last July that several staff members felt bullied by Ms Payette. "Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances," Ms Payette, 57, said in a written letter to the public on Thursday. "It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry. "From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father's health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help," she added. Assunta Di Lorenzo, Ms Payette's secretary and a top bureaucrat, is also resigning, CBC News reports. Ms Payette has held a high profile in Canada for many years. In 1992, she was chosen from over 5,300 applicants to become one of four astronauts in the Canadian Space Agency. In 1999, she became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station. As The Queen's representative in Canada, the governor general is the official head of state in her absence. Although the position is largely ceremonial, the governor general presides over important state duties. He or she has the power to give a throne speech and suspend parliament, give royal assent to legislation, swear in the prime minister and is commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. "Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," Mr Trudeau said in a statement.
1-21-21 Christine Dacera: Police chief's removal ordered over 'botched' rape probe
An order has been made to remove a police chief of an affluent area of the Philippine capital, Manila, for his handling of a probe into the suspected rape and murder of an air stewardess. The case of Christine Dacera, found dead in a hotel room after a New Year's Eve party, made headlines for weeks. Police quickly said she had been raped and murdered, arresting three men. But the men have now been released while questions have been raised over officers' initial conclusions. The ordered removal of Makati Police Chief Colonel Harold Depositar is the latest development, and comes in the wake of massive criticism for their handling of the high profile case. Critics say the case represents a denial of due process, an issue that has been raised before in relation to their implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's "War on Drugs." On 4 January, police issued a statement that they had "solved" the death of the 23-year-old flight attendant, adding that she had been raped and murdered. The statement added that police had arrested three suspects arrested while nine others were "still at large". All 12 men had been with her that night. Despite a pending legal medical review of the death, Colonel Depositar confirmed they had "already filed a rape with homicide" case. Initially, outrage. The story exploded on social media and was trending for days. The hashtag #JusticeForChristineDacera went viral following the police statement, although there were those who blamed her for partying with so many men. General Sinas called on the nine "at large" to "surrender within 72 hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary". Senator, and decorated boxer, Manny Pacquiao offered a reward of US$10,400 (£7.600) for information related to the death. Senator Pacquiao, who is tipped to run for president in 2022, said the case was another example of why the death penalty should be revived in the Philippines.
1-20-21 Greece #Metoo: Women ending silence of sport abuse shake Greece
When former Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou revealed she had been sexually assaulted by an unnamed Hellenic Sailing Federation (HSF) executive, few realised her powerful testimony would prompt a #Metoo movement in Greek sport. She was addressing a little-advertised online conference after all. But when the sailing federation hit back at her allegations the following day, the whole story exploded. It said it had never received any complaint from Bekatorou and essentially asked her to name the man, since she had "taken the initiative to speak about this unpleasant incident after so many years". Inspired by Sofia Bekatorou's courage and angered by the federation's cynicism, more athletes began going public with experiences of sexual harassment and abuse using the hashtag #metisofia (on Sofia's side). Now the Greek president has praised the former champion for ending a "conspiracy of silence" and the government says her story has shaken not just sport but society as a whole. Bekatorou was 21 when she went abroad with the rest of the Greek sailing team in 1998 to compete in qualifying trials for the Sydney Olympics. The team was joined by a sailing federation executive who celebrated their qualification with them. Now 43 and a mother of two children, she told the online conference she had been subjected to "sexual harassment and abuse" in the official's hotel room. The transcript of her speech circulated online. Bekatorou went on to win two Olympic medals and several world championship golds and was given the honour of carrying the Greek flag at the Rio Olympics in 2016. But she also maintains that the official became an obstacle to her career. Her decision to stay silent so she could keep on sailing took its toll. It took "years with a lot of work and therapy", she said, before she could take responsibility for not speaking out and seeking the man's removal.
1-18-21 Nazi Ravensbrück camp: How ordinary women became SS torturers
"Healthy, female workers between the ages of 20 and 40 wanted for a military site," reads the job advertisement from a 1944 German newspaper. Good wages and free board, accommodation and clothing are promised. What is not mentioned is that the clothing is an SS uniform. And that the "military site" is Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. Today the flimsy wooden barracks for the prisoners are long gone. All that remains is an eerily empty, rocky field, about 80km (50 miles) north of Berlin. But still standing are eight solidly built, attractive villas with wooden shutters and balconies. They are a 1940s Nazi version of medieval German cottages. That is where the female guards lived, some with their children. From the balconies they could overlook a forest and a pretty lake. "It was the most beautiful time of my life," said one former female guard, decades later. But from their bedrooms they would have also seen chain-gangs of prisoners and the chimneys of the gas chamber. "A lot of visitors coming to the memorial ask about these women. There are not so many questions about men working in this field," says Andrea Genest, director of the memorial museum at Ravensbrück, as she shows me where the women lived. "People don't like to think that women can be so cruel." Many of the young women came from poorer families, left school early and had few career opportunities. A job at a concentration camp meant higher wages, comfortable accommodation and financial independence. "It was more attractive than working in a factory," says Dr Genest. Many had been indoctrinated early in Nazi youth groups and believed in Hitler's ideology. "They felt they were supporting society by doing something against its enemies," she said. Inside one of the houses a new exhibition displays photos of the women in their spare time. Most were in their twenties, pretty with fashionable hairstyles. The pictures show them smiling while having coffee and cake at home. Or laughing, arms linked, as they go for walks in the nearby forest with their dogs. The scenes look innocent - until you notice the SS insignia on the women's clothes, and you remember that those same Alsatian dogs were used to torment people in the concentration camps. Some 3,500 women worked as Nazi concentration camp guards, and all of them started out at Ravensbrück. Many later worked in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or Bergen-Belsen. "They were awful people," 98-year-old Selma van de Perre tells me on the phone from her home in London. She was a Dutch Jewish resistance fighter who was imprisoned in Ravensbrück as a political prisoner. "They liked it probably because it gave them power. It gave them lots of power over the prisoners. Some prisoners were very badly treated. Beaten."
1-17-21 Sofia Bekatorou: Olympic medalist's decision to speak out over alleged 1998 sexual assault sparks public outcry in Greece
Greek Olympic gold medalist Sofia Bekatorou's very public detailing of her alleged sexual assault in 1998 by a high-ranking Hellenic Sailing Federation (HSF) official has sparked an outcry in the Mediterranean country over the way her revelations were initially dealt with. Bekatorou did not name the person she is accusing. On Saturday, Aristides Adamopoulos -- the vice Chairman of the HSF Board -- resigned, according to the Greek sailing body. "It is expected that complaints against me made by a public figure, of great recognition and wide social impact, will gather public interest, create feelings of compassion for the complainant and disgust for the alleged 'perpetrator,'" said Adamopoulos in a statement as he called for due process. Later on Saturday, in a statement posted on the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) website, Adamopoulos said Bekatorou's accusation was "false and defamatory." "Nevertheless, I fully understand that due to the extensive negative publicity of the matter, it is very likely there will be damage to the status of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which must always remain high for the good of Greek sport," said Adamopoulos. "For this reason alone and fully aware of my responsibility towards the HOC, I declare that from today and until the full clarification of this case by the authorities I will abstain from meetings of the HOC bodies which I am a member and I will generally abstain from the exercise of my duties from any position I hold." CNN does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Bekatorou came forward publicly with her allegations. Bekatorou said the alleged assault took place in 1998 during preparations for the Sydney Olympics, that were held two years later. One of Greece's best-known female athletes, Bekatorou won a sailing gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and then bronze four years later at the Beijing Games. Now 43, Bekatorou said a male official performed a "lewd act" after inviting her to his hotel room to discuss preparations ahead of the Sydney Olympics. The athlete said the act was not consensual.
1-15-21 Rajini Chandy: The 69-year-old Indian actress trolled for ‘too sexy’ photos
When Rajini Chandy posted pictures from her glamorous photoshoot on Facebook recently, she didn't anticipate they would go viral and attract vicious trolls. The photos show the 69-year-old housewife-turned-actress, who's generally seen in colourful elegant saris, dressed in a jumpsuit, long dresses, a pair of distressed jeans, and a short denim dress. In some, she's wearing a crown of fresh white flowers picked from her garden. Described as "bold and beautiful" by the local press in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where she lives, the photoshoot has raised the hackles of many in a conservative state where most women still dress modestly in saris or traditional long skirts. The photoshoot, Mrs Chandy told the BBC, was the idea of Athira Joy, a 29-year-old photographer known for her unconventional work. Ms Joy said what attracted her to the actress was how she was so different from her own mother. "Indian women," she says, "spend their lives caged in this system of marriage and raising a family. Most give up on life once they reach 60. They become nannies to their grandchildren." Her 65-year-old mother, she says, is "a typical Indian woman who suffers from all sorts of health issues that 60 plus women face". "But Rajini is different - she takes care of herself, she's fit, she's bold, she's beautiful, she's fashionable. She's 69, but in her mind, she's 29, just like me." In traditional Keralan society, Mrs Chandy has always stood out. When she returned to Kerala in 1995 after spending decades in Mumbai where her husband worked with a foreign bank, she made heads turn as she stepped out in a pair of jeans or wore lipstick. Once, she tells me, she was reprimanded for wearing a sleeveless blouse. In the past few years, she's made news for her "unconventional choices" - in 2016, at the age of 65, she debuted as an actress in the Malayalam-language comedy-drama, Oru Muthassi Gadha (A Granny's Mace).
1-12-21 Irish government to apologise over mother-and-baby homes
The Irish government is to apologise after an investigation found an "appalling level of infant mortality" in the country's mother-and-baby homes. Established in the 19th and 20th centuries, the institutions housed women and girls who became pregnant outside marriage. About 9,000 children died in the 18 institutions under investigation. The government said the report revealed the country had a "stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture". Taoiseach (Irish PM) Mícheál Martin said the report described a very dark and difficult chapter in Irish history. "As a nation we must face up to the full truth of our past," he said. The greatest number of admissions was in the 1960s and early 1970s. Many children born in the homes were adopted or taken to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The report said "the women and children should not have been in the institutions" and that many women suffered emotional abuse. The investigators say it appears there was "little kindness" shown to the mothers and "this was particularly the case" during childbirth, which many of the women found "a traumatic experience". The Irish government will apologise for the hurt experienced by the residents of the homes. Mr Martin said "one hard truth" was that "all of society was complicit" in the scandal. "We did this to ourselves as a society - we treated women exceptionally badly; we treated children extremely badly," he said on Tuesday. "We had a completely warped attitude to sexuality and intimacy and young mothers and their sons and daughters were forced to pay a terrible price for that dysfunction. "As a society we embraced judgementalism, moral certainty, a perverse religious morality and control which was so damaging. "But what was very striking was the absence of basic kindness. Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the report showed that for decades a "pervasive stigmatisation of unmarried mothers and their children robbed those individuals of their agency and sometimes their future".
11-3-21 Racism in ballet: Black dancer's 'humiliation' at racist comments
Chloé Lopes Gomes says she has faced racial harassment while being a ballet dancer. The French performer is the first black female dancer at Berlin's principal ballet company Staatsballett. Ms Gomes claims she was told she did not fit in because of her skin colour, and was asked to wear white make up so she would 'blend in' with the other dancers. The company has responded by saying her allegation "deeply moves us" and an internal investigation is underway into racism and discrimination at Staatsballett.