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Le Weekend ➡️ Trial By Social Media: Trying (And Failing) To Scroll Past Depp v. Heard

June 4-5

  • The Balkans, next on Putin’s list?
  • Double standard for a trans soldier in Germany
  • La crème de la Mona Lisa
  • … and much more.
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Yes, Her Too: A Feminist Reading Of The Depp Vs. Heard Case

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation suit has become a Hollywood media (sh*t) storm, but there are troubling real consequences in the way domestic violence is being portrayed, when the victim is less-than-perfect.

First the background: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met in 2012. They started a relationship when Depp was still with Vanessa Paradis, and eventually married in 2015. Fifteen months later, Heard filed for divorce, accusing Depp of domestic violence and asking for a restraining order.

In the lawsuit, Heard said, ”I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him.” They then made a million-dollar settlement, and soon after, Heard asked for the restraining order to be dropped.

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Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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China To Mexico, COVID-19 Exposes Violence Against Women

People are dying, economies are tanking and politics are awry. But that's no excuse to short-shrift the struggle for equality and protections for women.

-Analysis-

PUEBLA — From politicians to activists to the news media, everyone, it seems, has something to say about the impact of the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns — mostly in terms of health care and the economy. But there are also social effects to consider, along with a pending question: What happens to gender policies in a pandemic?

Since the #MeToo movement of 2017, feminist movements worldwide have intensified their contacts as they share similar priorities of assuring justice, equality and security for women regardless of geography. But the quarantine that governments across the globe imposed to curb the pandemic have dramatically downgraded the living conditions of many women, especially in Latin America.

The vulnerability of women is reflected in the daily situations they encounter, both at home and in public spaces, and that are more prone to violence and therefore less safe.

What happens to gender policies in a pandemic?

While staying at home is one of the measures needed to mitigate contagion, most countries have not given due consideration to its consequences, which include increased marital violence and the defenselessness of women against their aggressors. World Health Organization (WHO) figures from May 7, 2020 showed that among WHO members, there was a 60% increase in emergency calls from women reporting violence by partners or by people with whom they were confined.

Experts warn that continued confinement could yield around 31 million incidents of domestic violence. In most cases, this is invisible and does not appear in the official count, which makes it difficult to act to help victims.

China and Mexico are two countries where domestic violence levels have risen with confinement. In China, feminist groups and activists have been working on particular strategies to help victims. One group, Free Chinese Feminists, has launched online campaigns and courses meant for women facing violence at home. With slogans like "Fight the virus, not your family," it seeks to foment a culture of prevention and reporting in China.

A Women's Day protest in Mexico — Photo: El Universal/ZUMA

The Yuanzhong organization has in turn created a manual with steps to take to receive legal assistance for a divorce and phone numbers to call for immediate, cost-free psychological support. The country's oldest feminist group, All China Women's Federation, founded in March 1949 and official in nature, is in turn contemplating creating a database of people with histories of violence or abuse against women.

Beyond government and civil strategies, China's strict confinement measures — with entire cities closed down and a ban on leaving home for millions — had the effect of greatly impeding attention to isolated people and weakening the networks protecting those wanting to report abuses.

Domestic violence has also increased in Mexico, which already had an established and pervasive ocurrence of femicides. In spite of the existing Law for Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence, many victims have regrettably never enjoyed its protection.

In Mexico, domestic violence and murders of women complement a steady rise in criminal attacks and disappearances of women, and a range of systemic complications. Early in 2019 the government suspended payments to aid women's shelters across the country and is now threatening to end federal subsidies for another government initiative, the Gender Violence Alarm, in seven states.

Confinement could yield around 31 million incidents of domestic violence.

The pandemic situation is not only doing harm now; it's is also pushing back various socio-political advances made in favor of gender rights. While the fourth feminist wave and its various movements have made considerable progress in recent years, no country has yet to attain substantial gender equality.

The cases of Mexico and China show that the gender agenda cannot be put aside in a pandemic. Women need to strengthen their ties and protective networks and remain present in the formulation and implementation of public, gender policies, but also act to ensure that governments are following through on the commitments they already made.

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Russia
Anna Akage

Preserving Russian Values, Downplaying​ Domestic Violence

MOSCOW — In a recent letter to the European Court of Human Rights, the Russian Minister of Justice Aleksandr Konovalov declared that the level of domestic violence in the country is overstated, adding that there is no evidence that women suffer from it more than men. This was a response after the European court citing Russia law enforcement agencies failure to protect victims of violence and its tendency to ignore their complaints. Instead, a new bill on the prevention of domestic violence in Russia is aimed first and foremost at preserving what it says is the central traditional value of Russian society: the family.

Last month, three years after being first introduced, the bill entitled "On the Prevention of Domestic Violence in the Russian Federation" was finally published, though still not signed into law. This follows a 2017 bill adopted by the Russian parliament that decriminalized certain actions that are typically associated with domestic violence, including "beatings," sending more domestic violence cases to administrative courts.

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Sources
Natalia Cancian

In Brazil, Support Groups Also Help Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence

In a number of Brazilian states, judges are ordering those guilty of domestic violence to join group discussions. Participants say they're resistant at first, but eventually find the experience to be a real eye-opener.

PARANOÁ — In a public building in Paranoá, in central Brazil's Federal District, a group of 15 people meet once a week to talk about domestic violence. In this case, though, the participants aren't victims seeking support. They're the perpetrators themselves, abusers who've either been referred here by the justice system, or, in rare instances, come of their own free will.

"We have to give men their share of responsibility," says Lucia Bessa, the Federal District's undersecretary for women's affairs. "Normally we women, whether it's about reporting abuse or leaving an abusive relationship, bear all the responsibility. But what about the male partner? What about the abuser?"

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China
Abhijan Barua

The Limits Of China's First Anti-Domestic Violence Law

Abusive husbands are now criminally liable in China, and their victims can seek restraining orders. Rights advocates applaud the new rules, but say that many women are still reluctant to speak out.

BEIJING —The Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center in Beijing has been running its hotline service for more than three decades, counseling tens of thousands of women every year. But even now, two months after China implemented its first anti-domestic violence law, cultural factors continue to prevent many women from picking up the phone and reporting abuse, says Hou Zhi Min, who works at the center.

"Many people still don't think a husband abusing his wife is a big problem," she explains. "Usually, after the victims are abused, they go back to parents' house. But the response they get there is that they're not doing their job, that they're lazy, that it's their fault. It's not the man's fault."

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Sources
Mudassar Shah

Pakistan's Anti-Child Marriage Crusader Who's Just A Kid Herself

MINGORA — At 13, Hadiqa Bashir is herself just a child, but she's already working to save girls from child marriage in rural Pakistan. Though it's illegal in Pakistan, marrying young children to much older men is still widely practiced in the Swat Valley.

Visiting Hadiqa Bashir today is a young girl, Shabana, who is with her mother. A white gauze covers her nose, and she explains the horrific reason why. "My mother-in-law asked my husband to complete his job today and she left the house," Shabana says. "I had my young son with me, and my husband asked his sister to take my son to another room and soon after he cut my nose. The next morning my mother-in-law came, and when she checked my nose, she said that it should be cut some more."

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Germany
Josef Kelnberger

When Men Are The Victims Of Domestic Violence

STUTTGART — Very few topics are taboo in our society these days, but there is at least one subject people are reluctant to discuss: domestic violence against men. A Stuttgart pilot project known as "Save Men from Violence" is meant to offer much needed help to victims in this German city of 600,000.

According to police and aid groups, men are the victims in about 10% of all domestic violence cases. More often than not, these crimes happen in the kitchen, and the most common weapons are knives. Because women, not men, are much more often the victims of domestic violence, and because this issue challenges the notion of men being stronger than women, the topic can be a sensitive one to discuss.

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