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In The News

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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Peng Shuai, A Reckoning China's Communist Party Can't Afford To Face

The mysterious disappearance – and brief reappearance – of the Chinese tennis star after her #metoo accusation against a party leader shows Beijing is prepared to do whatever is necessary to quash any challenge from its absolute rule.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai's apparent disappearance may have ended with a smattering of public events, which were carefully curated by state-run media and circulated in online clips. But many questions remain about the three weeks in which she was missing, and concerns linger over her well-being.

Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, had been out of the public eye since Nov. 2. 2021 when she penned a since-deleted social media post accusing former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual misconduct.

In the U.S. and Europe, such moments of courage from high-profile women have built momentum to out perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault and give a voice to those wronged. But in the political context of today's People's Republic of China (PRC) – a country that tightly controls political narratives within and outside its borders – something else happened. Peng was seemingly silenced; her #MeToo allegation was censored almost as soon as it was made.

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Quitting Coal, China’s #MeToo, World’s Best Cheese

👋 Goeie!*

Welcome to Thursday, where world leaders pledge to quit coal, #MeToo accusations hit China's highest levels of power and the world's new best cheese has been elected. Our Bogota-based journalist Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra also shines a light on the violence against LGBTQ+ in some Latin American countries, following the murder of a trans activist in Honduras.

[*Frisian]

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Society
Daniel Murillo and Caroline Watillon

His Pill? We're Long Overdue For Male Contraceptive Alternatives

Male contraception, both pharmaceuticals and procedures, is gaining increasing interest. Yet to date, there is no male contraceptive drug authorized on the market.

If contraception has been a woman's business since the 1960s, it was in the 1990s that international bodies began to take an interest in the idea of sharing the burden of contraception. After the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), calls emerged for sharing the responsibility for birth control with men.

By affirming gender equality in all spheres of life — societal, familial, sexual and reproductive — men are challenged to take personal and social responsibility for their sexual behavior and fertility.

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Geopolitics
Sandy Hershcovis, Ivana Vranjes, Jennifer L. Berdahl and Lilia M. Cortina

In #MeToo Times, Cuomo Saga Shows Abusers Still Hold Sway

Putting New York Governor Cuomo's delayed departure in light of the #MeToo movement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resignation came after more than a week of bad news, starting with a damning report from the state attorney general's office that detailed his sexual harassment of 11 women, some of whom worked in his office. An executive assistant to Cuomo, Brittany Commisso, filed a criminal complaint against him with the Albany County sheriff's office. The state Legislature readied impeachment proceedings.

Then, top aide Melissa DeRosa resigned amid a flurry of questions surrounding her role in protecting Cuomo. Attorney Roberta Kaplan also resigned from the #MeToo advocacy organization Time's Up after the attorney general's report revealed that she helped draft a letter that denied Cuomo's wrongdoing.

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Egypt
Yasmin El-Rifae

Honor Killings, #MeToo And The Future For Egyptian Women

Women in Egypt have definitively broken the silence around sexual violence — but what comes next?

CAIRO — About two weeks ago, Dalia's doorman, landlord, and neighbors — at least three men in total — suspecting her of having sex or some kind of sexual interaction with a guest, forced their way into her apartment in the Cairo neighborhood of Salam, beat her and either threw her out of the window or terrified her so much that she jumped. The National Council for Women, missing the point, said in its press release that Dalia's body was found "fully clothed." Newspapers reported that the prosecution had ordered a vaginal examination of her corpse.

Two weeks earlier, a draft of a long-awaited personal status law was shown to the public. The draft does nothing that women hoped it might to advance their legal standing — it in fact regresses it in several areas. The bill further diminishes women's already embattled legal and financial guardianship rights over themselves and their children: Being of legal age is not enough to legally consent to marriage — a woman's male relatives can object to the marriage within a year. Being the mother of a child is not enough for a woman to issue their birth certificate, open a bank account for him/her, or consent to their surgery — a power of attorney granted by the child's father or court document is necessary.

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Sources
Hélène Jouan

Montreal's #MeToo Comedy Crisis Is No Laughing Matter

Long considered the 'capital of Canadian humor,' the Quebec city is currently facing simultaeous storms: the pandemic, #MeToo accusations and a deeper debate on the limits of comedy.

MONTREAL — At the Just for Laughs festival ticket office, on Boulevard Saint-Laurent, the windows are dirty, the walls covered with graffiti and the doors are decidely closed. An old poster announces the shows "from July, 10 to 28, 2019." Only a few red lanterns remain lit. The heart of humor in Quebec seems to have stopped beating.

For nearly a year, the coronavirus has frozen laughter. The curfew, in effect in the province since Jan 9, has once again forced local stars of the comedy scene — like Katherine Levac, François Bellefeuille and Rachid Badouri — to postpone their shows.

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Coronavirus
Samantha Montiel

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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LA STAMPA
Sandro Cappelletto

Tosca In The Time Of #MeToo

A new rendition of the famous Puccini opera opens this month in Milan, and it all revolves around the powerful and predatory Scarpia character.

MILAN — The title should be "Scarpia," not Tosca, because he's the protagonist, in life and in death, of Giacomo Puccini's opera, which opens the season at Milan's La Scala theater, on Dec. 17.

In this rendition, conducted by Ricardo Chailly and staged by Davide Livermore, some form of Scarpia's presence — be it a shadow or a grin — is alive and sealed into every character. He appears as a nightmare in every scene, every narrative junction of the opera's three acts, from the opening to the end.

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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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CLARIN
Nancy Giampaolo

The Feminist Case Against Catcalling Laws

'Nice legs baby!' Argentina has taken steps to make certain kinds of verbal harassment a punishable offense — much to the chagrin of some feminists.

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — Last month, the Argentine Senate — the same lawmaking body that squashed a highly touted abortion bill in 2018 — unanimously approved a law with provisions penalizing "verbal harassment on the street." Such behavior will now be considered a form of violence that can be reported and liable to prosecution.

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