Women's News from the Web

Good on Meghan and Harry for letting the curtain fall on the royal birth media circus | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 01:20
The duke and duchess’s decision to keep the birth private is a modernising, feminist act that will incense the tabloids

News, if you could call it that, that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry will not reveal the location of or plans surrounding the birth of their first child. This will no doubt frustrate the swarms of paparazzi accustomed to camping out outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital in anticipation of the now familiar sight of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, groomed, trussed up and probably still bleeding in a pair of high heels, performing the whole Simba routine to the nation. The strangeness of the sight has never been lost on women; last year, when Prince Louis was born, women took to social media to share snaps of how they looked after giving birth: ecstatic, yes, but also exhausted, dazed, clammy, reeling. Trauma aside, these postnatal photos end up resembling a kind of freedom when put side-by-side with the stage-managed spectacle of the duchess.

Some of the press coverage of Meghan's pregnancy has been appalling, tinged with sexism and racism

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Why Andrea Dworkin is the radical, visionary feminist we need in our terrible times

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 00:00

She was labelled a man-hater, anti-sex and ugly. But she predicted both the ascent of Trump and #MeToo – and her unapologetic attitude is more relevant than ever

‘I can’t come here as a friend, even though I might very much want to.” These are the words of Andrea Dworkin, addressing an anti-sexist men’s organisation in 1983, in her acclaimed speech I Want a 24-Hour Truce in Which There Is No Rape. “The power exercised by men, day to day, in life is power that is institutionalised. It is protected by law. It is protected by religion and religious practice. It is protected by universities, which are strongholds of male supremacy. It is protected by a police force. It is protected by those whom Shelley called “the unacknowledged legislators of the world”: the poets, the artists. Against that power, we have silence.”

Dworkin, who died of heart failure in 2005 at the age of 58, was one of the world’s most notorious radical feminists. She wrote 14 books, the most famous of which was Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981). Now her work is being revisited in Last Days at Hot Slit, a new collection of her writing.

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L&G steps up action against firms with few female board members

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 13:01

Legal & General fund managers voted against more than 100 chairmen in 2018

The UK’s biggest fund management group voted against more than 100 chairmen last year, at firms including Barclays, Ted Baker and Sports Direct, for failing to boost the number of women in their boardrooms.

Legal & General Investment Management, which manages more than £1tn in assets, more than doubled the number of protest votes cast in 2018 over a lack of gender diversity. A year earlier the asset manager only voted against 37 UK chairmen.

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More women getting pregnant after 30 than in 20s for first time

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 07:47

Figures from England and Wales show long-term rise in pregnancies to women over 30

The number of pregnancies among women aged 30 and above in England and Wales has surpassed the number among women in their 20s for the first time since records began, the latest figures show.

The long-term rise in pregnancies of older women, which have more than doubled for those aged 40 and over since 1990, has been driven by women spending more time in education and in work, and by the rising opportunity costs of childbearing, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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Women to join Taliban delegation for first time in Afghan peace talks

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 05:40

Move follows calls for female representation in discussions aimed at ending 17-year war

Women will be included for the first time in the Taliban delegation for talks this month with US officials and Afghan representatives in Qatar on the future of Afghanistan, the movement’s main spokesman has said.

For a group known for its strictly conservative attitude to women’s rights, the move represents a step towards addressing demands that women be included in the talks, aimed at ending more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

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‘It’s not just a wolf whistle’: how catcalls became anti-harassment street art

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 02:25

With teenage girls a particular target of street harassment, Farah Benis is on a mission to document incidents and raise awareness

CatcallsofLdn is an Instagram account that raises awareness about street harassment using chalk art. Inspired by and working with @catcallsofnyc, founder Farah Benis collects submissions from the public then chalks them onto the pavement in the place where they happened. The hope is that chalking, documenting and sharing images of the words will help to raise awareness of street harassment and ultimately prevent it.

72% of submissions are from under 17-year-olds, 60% of those were wearing school uniforms and 100% of the perpetrators were adult men

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Why is the left blinkered to claims about Assange and sexual assault? | Nesrine Malik

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 19:00

In the hierarchy of progressive political causes, women seem to be relegated to the bottom of the pile

In case you’ve forgotten, or have been confused by politicians who failed to mention it, let me remind you why I believe Julian Assange was in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years before he was ejected and arrested last week. I don’t believe it was for being a journalist or a truth-teller to power, and it wasn’t for releasing evidence of America’s war crimes. He was in the embassy because, in 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant so that he might answer allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange would not accept extradition, jumped bail in the UK and absconded.

So it was curious to hear Diane Abbott, when answering questions about Labour’s enthusiastic objection to Assange’s possible extradition to the US to face charges of involvement in a computer-hacking conspiracy, say those sexual assault charges were “never brought”. The allegations were made, she generously conceded, but the charges were never brought.

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From Victim to Victor: Surviving Sexual Assault in Uganda

Women's eNews - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 12:53

I am a survivor of a sexual assault that happened in my village in Rwanda when I was just an 11-year-old child.

I thought I had put all that pain behind me until 2015, when I traveled to Uganda to visit my husband’s home—the site of his organization, Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. There, I learned that a 35-year-old man had raped a nine-year-old girl that weekend. The adults around her knew what had happened, but they did nothing. Instead, they sent her to school the following day, as if nothing had even happened. I soon learned, too, that a five-year-old girl in the same village was raped by her grandfather, leaving her HIV positive. Then I heard about a 14-year-old in a neighboring village who had been repeatedly raped by her father, starting when she was just four years old. The child had attempted suicide twice, and made futile attempts to seek help and safety, but she couldn’t get away.

This is the sad truth about my part of the world: Young girls are frequently sexually assaulted in sub-Saharan Africa, and justice is rarely served. I knew I needed to do something to help.

This turned out to be more difficult than I had thought. While working with young survivors, I learned how hard it is to gain justice in Uganda. Survivors are responsible for completing their own police reports, which often includes walking an average of seven miles to report the crime, and paying $12.00 in legal fees—half a month’s salary for most families—before the perpetrator can even be arrested. The rape victim then has to walk another long distance to a hospital where she has to gather her own evidence to take back to the police. It’s a maddeningly cruel system that seldom leads to justice for survivors. Even worse, a survivor’s case can easily be thrown out, and often is. Survivors must come to court, which often means walking and giving up a full day of work for family members, and court dates are often changed at the last minute. Once in court, the survivor is responsible for presenting the correct paperwork and bringing enough copies for the court. If anything is missing, the case is thrown out.

The process is frustrating, grueling, and embarrassing for survivors. One young survivor had become suicidal after facing threats from her perpetrator’s family and taunts from local boys. Without support of any kind, she came to believe all the evil lies claimed about her. I therefore created the EDJA Foundation, to help survivors heal by helping them at every step, beginning immediately after an assault and staying by their side long after the criminal trial. Working with the community, we added a Rape Crisis Center within the hospital to support survivors immediately after being attacked. Since then, every survivor is given a rape exam, medical attention, and life-saving medicine that can prevent HIV contraction.

As we know, however, a sexual attack causes more than just physical pain. To address the level of psychological healing every survivor needs, we also established a Sexual Assault Program to provide free counseling. We began with individual counseling, and have since added support groups to accommodate the increasing number of survivors coming to us for help.

Additionally, our Legal Advocate assists the police by first locating many perpetrators, and then providing the police with a ride to arrest them. He also provides transportation for survivors to court, files the police reports, and handles other issues with the court. He is a guide for families through this painful process, while offering them legal counsel so they know their rights.

Finally, I knew we needed to do more than just react to sexual assault; we had to change the culture — fighting for a world without violence. Now EDJA educates the entire community through a monthly radio show and group sessions about girls’ rights, sexual assault, and how to get help for survivors. We also teach the community’s boys about standards of behavior that respect the rights of girls, which we hope will begin to put an end to the enduring rape culture.

Best of all, we witness positive changes every day. Over 50 rape survivors—some as young as four years old—are receiving life-saving support from EDJA. And, appropriately enough during April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, that grandfather who raped his own granddaughter and infected her with AIDS received 32 years in prison. Today, over 30 perpetrators have received prison sentences.

Change like this is important for many reasons, including keeping the community safe. But most importantly, it’s a message to girls and women that they matter, they are valued, and they can fight for their dignity and for justice.

As a survivor myself, I can tell you that there is no greater gift to rape survivors than being believed and validated. That’s the message that EDJA intends to deliver to survivors worldwide, beginning with those in East Africa where women have accepted their fate of abuse for too long. Today, EDJA is saying in a loud and clear voice: Those days are over. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

About the author: Tabitha Mpamira-Kaguri is the Founder/Executive Director of the EDJA Foundation.To learn more about the EDJA Foundation to end sexual violence in Uganda, please visit their website, www.edjafoundation.org. To view the trailer of their film, Victors, click here.

Julian Assange’s case makes it clear women’s rights are still secondary to political games | Jess Phillips

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 22:00
It was shocking that neither main party pointed out he’d evaded facing sexual charges

Women’s issues are always the political side salad, never the main event. We are always told we have to wait until everything else is perfect and then we can focus on the fact that women are being sexually abused in their workplaces, beaten in their homes and sexually assaulted in their personal lives.

For example, in recent months I and others have been pushing the government to make it a legal duty on all employers to protect their staff from sexual abuse and harassment at work, just as they have to make sure their employees’ fingers don’t get chopped off or that staff aren’t doused in bleach.

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The heady intensity of platonic love between women in their 20s | Eva Wiseman

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 22:00

The story of Ilana and Abbi in Broad City is one of female friendship at its best

I’m not a poo joke kind of girl. No thank you. Yesterday I retched when someone described a smell. And yet the wild, warm effluviant humour of Broad City only made me like it more. This was a platonic love story about two women who adored each other. Rather than compete over boys or success, they supported each other unconditionally, and their very best days were spent yomping through the hot streets of New York complimenting each other’s bodies and/or choices. In the final episode, the two paused to stare out over the river, and Ilana told Abbi: “I’ve never felt so cool as when I’m with you.” Despite the fact that a filthy toilet they’d been dragging across town sat between them as they said goodbye, this was the first scene in 48 episodes that made me cry.

And it shouldn’t have taken me this long to realise it, but of course, of course, the gross moments were never just cheap jokes, never just plopped in for effect. It took five series to reveal to me the real role of poo jokes in this beautiful show but, yep, I realised that by opening the toilet door they offered two things. The first, an appreciation of women’s bodies as something other than sex-meat to be gazed at. In fact, as working machines, but ones that sometimes fart, and without shame. The second thing was a new authenticity, which reflected the grand honesty of the characters’ lives, and their insistence on being free. You saw it in their yomping, the way they danced down the street, and you saw it in the way they each had sex, both intimate and regrettable, but mostly in the way they’d decided to prioritise each other, their main relationship, despite all conventions advising otherwise. And not the kind of authenticity we often talk about today in relation to social media, with its careful absences and earnest crops, but a lifting, playful thing that leans into the vulnerability of youth. A way of being that is fearless and easy, if sometimes unhygienic.

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How our capacity for wonder was challenged by the black hole image | Tim Adams

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 21:00
We marvelled at the first image of an event horizon 55m light years away, but struggled to grasp its majesty and dimensions

A few years ago, during a period of insomnia, I briefly got into the habit of contributing to the online project Galaxy Zoo. I would log on to a website that presented, one after another, singular images of tens of thousands of galaxies observed by the Hubble telescope, each billions of light years away. There were so many of these images that cosmologists had opened them up to thousands of amateur volunteers to help narrow down the field of those galaxies that warranted closer study.

Peering at my dimmed computer screen in the early hours, at catherine wheels of stars that perhaps no human eye had ever seen, I ticked the relevant boxes that would assist in classifying them – “elliptical or spiral?”; “smooth or fuzzy?” – and then paused for a while over the open-ended final question: “Is there anything odd in this image?” (An inquiry that always seemed to beg the reply: “You mean, beyond the fact that it is a rotating mass of incalculable solar systems that likely expired untold millions of years ago?”)

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Period poverty: Wales schoolgirls to be given free sanitary products

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 05:10

Some girls are forced to miss school due to being unable to afford menstrual protection

Free sanitary products are to be handed out to tens of thousands of schoolgirls in Wales in a bid to tackle “period poverty”.

As many as 141,000 girls attending both primary and secondary schools in the country will benefit from the free menstrual products as part of the £2.3m scheme, the Welsh government has announced.

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There’s a dark side to women’s health apps: ‘Menstrual surveillance’

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 02:00

Employers and health insurers are using family-planning apps to gather intimate information about your fertility, menstrual cycle and pregnancy

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Upskirting law comes into force in England and Wales as cases rise

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 22:54

Police say 94 incidents reported last year for offence now punishable with jail term

Upskirting has become a specific criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment.

The scale of the problem has been laid bare by an investigation that reveals allegations reported by police have increased over the last four years, with a 70-year-old woman and schoolchildren as young as seven among the victims in 2018.

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Daily Star covers up its Page 3 girls, signalling end of tabloid tradition

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 19:00

Newspaper was last print daily using topless images but says it will trial non-naked pictures

Almost two decades into the 21st century, the days of the Page 3 girl look to be finally over, after the Daily Star announced it would no longer feature pictures of topless women.

The newspaper was the last daily print outlet maintaining the British tabloid tradition, after the Sun stopped doing so following political pressure in 2015.

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What ‘Career Barbie’ Really Needs

Women's eNews - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 10:04

Barbie first hit the toy market 60 years ago in March, 1959. Her creator, Ruth Handler, believed that by playing with this new toy, “little girls…could be anything they wanted to be.” This message continues to be a clear winner.

In 2018, the Barbie brand “generated gross sales that amounted to about 1.09 billion U.S. dollars, up from about 955 million U.S. dollars the year before.” Mattel hit the jackpot with Barbie, both here and across the globe . The website Statista reported, “The commercial success of Barbie has allowed Mattel to become the ninth most valuable toy brand worldwide as of 2018.”

It is not surprising that to commemorate her diamond anniversary, Mattel introduced a glamorous Barbie who, according to the company’s product website, “wears a cascading ball gown twinkling with silvery sparkles. Paying homage to the original Barbie® doll and her iconic fashion heritage, Barbie® 60th Anniversary doll wears a dramatic ponytail with an elegant twist, side-eye glance, hoop earrings and wrist tag.”

The original Barbie was unrealistically thin, blonde and built with impossible to obtain proportions. Critics noted that she was stereotypically, the “dumb blond.”

That conclusion was reinforced when, in 1992, Mattel introduced Teen Talk Barbie. A doll with a voice box programed with such phrases as “Math class is tough.”, “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “Let’s plan our dream wedding!”, ”Wanna have a pizza party?”, “Want to go shopping?”, “Okay, meet me at the mall”, and “Let’s have a campfire”.

With very few exceptions these phrases added to the picture of Barbie as a air-headed girl who could only think about enjoying today. She personified the stereotype of the day; a female who had no dreams of a future career, only thoughts about fun and marriage.

Since then, perhaps in response to changing demographics, Mattel has done a 180, and has embraced Ruth Handler’s message of choice, who once said, “Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” Mattel’s recent focus has been on Barbie’s choice of career. One report on the popular website TwentyTwoWords claims that Barbie has had “over 200 careers… she’s been everything from robotics engineer to journalist; a few more of her careers include a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, a paleontologist, a fashion editor, a sign language teacher, and a presidential candidate!”

Barbie was around when the percentage of women entering the labor force shot up dramatically., and Mattel’s decision reflected this change. “In 1970, about 43 percent of women ages 16 and older were in the labor force. By 2000, 61 percent of adult women were in the labor force ,” reports the Population Reference Bureau.

In another move to recognize women’s outstanding contributions, Mattel honored a number of female heroes (Sheros) with their own Barbie dolls, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay , tennis champ Naomi Osaka, fashion executive Eva Chen and Olympic fencer  Ibtihaj Muhammad.  The list of continues to grow by recently introducing big wave surfer Maya Gabeira; Kristina Vogel, a disabled Olympic Gold Medal cyclist from Germany who has gone into politics; Tessa Virtue, a Canadian Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing; Yara Shahidi , co-star of the popular sitcom Blackish; Vogue cover model Adwoa Aboah; Dipa Karmaka, an Indian visual artist; Chinese photographer Chen Man and Ita Buttrose, an Australian journalist and editor. And, in 2016, “Mattel went a step further and released a range of dolls with different body types, more hairstyles and seven skin tones, to better represent the world we live in.”

Mattel has also incorporated other changes to reflect the diverse world of today. As of 2016, Barbie is no longer universally slim, blonde, and pale skin. She is now brown, black, and Asian. She also mirrors society by featuring some dolls in wheelchairs and even wearing a prosthetic leg.

So Mattel is clearly getting some things right, but there is one glaring omission. Barbie may have Ken, but she certainly doesn’t have children. In that way, she is just as one-dimensional as the original Barbie. Apparently, she can choose to have a career, but she cannot choose to have a career and children. Yet the choice of being a working mother is the overwhelming choice of her target audience. In an important way, Mattel is sending the age-old message: Women cannot have it all.

But young women are ignoring that advice. A 2014 large-scale Gallup poll concludes, “There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that millennials — both married and single/never married — are putting off having children. Even among the small percentage (2%) of married 18-year-old millennials, less than half (44%) have no children, and the percentage decreases with age to just 17% at age 34. And while few single 18-year-old millennials have children (4%), that percentage rises to almost half by age 34. Essentially, almost half of the oldest millennials who have never married nonetheless have children. In 2000, the comparable number for Gen Xers aged 30 to 34 was just 30%.”

Regardless of whether they delay marriage or decide not to marry, millennials are definitely choosing to become parents. In fact, working mothers are now the norm, according to a 2017 report from the Department of Labor. Indeed, “Seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-tim Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11 percent in 1960.”

Women are clearly are opting to have it all, while Barbie is still stuck in the days when that option was not available. She may look different, she may not be tied to the house, but she is clearly out of touch with the life most of her target audience envisions for itself.

Maybe Mattel needs to add working mom Barbie to its cast of characters. She could be wearing a suit for the office, scrubs for the operating room, a police uniform or work clothes for the building site.

She would also come with a detachable snugli with a baby in it.

Dr. Rosalind C. Barnett is a senior scientist who has directed studies for the National Science Foundation, NIMH and the Sloan Foundation and Caryl Rivers is a professor of Journalism at Boston University They are the authors of The New Soft War on Women (Tarcher/Penguin) 

Death sentence for abortion? The hypocrisy of US pro-lifers is plain to see | Jill Filipovic

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 00:00

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. The repercussions are chilling

Do “pro-life” advocates care about life or do they care about punishment? The latest abortion debate out of Texas gives a clear answer: the goal is to hurt women, not defend life.

The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide. For context of how extreme that is, even in the United States before Roe v Wade made abortion broadly legal, the procedure was outlawed in most states but was not considered murder – abortion was its own crime. Texas in 2019 wants to be even more barbaric than that, and turn women who end their pregnancies into felons, killers, and even death row inmates.

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South Korean court rules abortion ban must be lifted

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 22:57

Historic decision sparks celebrations in Seoul following decades of campaigning

A court in South Korea has ruled that the country’s decades-old ban on abortion must be lifted, in a historic decision that sparked celebrations in Seoul.

Thursday’s decision by the constitutional court marks a major victory for pro-choice campaigners, 66 years after the country banned abortions in all but a few cases.

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I used makeup to appear lighter – until I redefined black beauty for myself

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 19:00

I followed YouTube makeup tutorials to feel more feminine but saw the errors of my ways

Colorism is more than being called a cockroach, having guys compare my nether regions to a medium rare steak, or seeing my crush preferring lighter-skinned women over me. No, it goes deeper than that. Colorism has programmed me to view myself as everything but beautiful, or even a woman.

Masculinity, ugliness and undesirability are traits that I have identified with since early adolescence. I was a tomboy, and being a dark-skinned black girl only added another layer to any discomfort I had regarding my appearance.

As a young teen, I was never comfortable wearing anything too feminine or skin-revealing. Hoodies, jeans, and sneakers were the only things in my closet. And yet, my bedroom was the opposite of this attitude: I had posters of the Jonas Brothers and the Twilight cast plastered over my walls, a large hot pink Hello Kitty blanket laid across my bed and a vast collection of Barbie and Bratz dolls. It was a stark contrast to the girl who mainly hung out with boys to play video games and football, and who liked riding bikes around Philadelphia.

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White House plans to screen anti-abortion film Gosnell

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 06:30

The graphic drama about Kermit Gosnell, a doctor found guilty of murdering three babies, will reportedly be screened by the Trump administration

The White House has plans to host a screening of anti-abortion indie film Gosnell this Friday, Slate reports. This screening takes place just weeks after the Donald Trump raised concerns about late-term abortions following the passing of New York’s Reproductive Health Act. Invitations to the screening of the film, which depicts second- and third-trimester abortions in graphic detail, have been sent to pro-life activists across the US.

Released last year, Gosnell (full title: Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer) follows the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a doctor prosecuted in 2013 for first-degree murder. Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphiawhere he performed illegal late-term abortions for disadvantaged women and was convicted for the killing of three babies born alive. Investigators noted a wealth of health code violations in the clinic, calling it a “house of horrors”.

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