Women's News from the Web

Creepy men slide into women's DMs all the time, but they can be shut down | Talia Jane

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 06:38

When I received an inappropriate message I didn’t hesitate to point out that it was not acceptable. Many women don’t – and then regret their silence

“You can confidently put ‘knows how to handle online sexual harassment’ on your CV,” a friend tweeted at me. “This is a master class in how to handle a painfully common situation,” wrote another. Both were reactions to screenshots I had posted from a conversation with a prominent male journalist.

The conversation started about reporter jobs and the media market at large and ended with him telling me “You have so much cum on your face.” After a few minutes of contemplation, I responded with “This isn’t acceptable or appropriate.” A short while later, I posted the messages (with his information cropped out) on Twitter to add to the never-ending scrapbook called “Things Women Deal With And How Much It Sucks.”

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The 2020 US elections will again expose the barriers facing female politicians | Martina Fitzgerald

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 23:00

No one knocks men such as Beto O’Rourke when they declare their ambition – but it’s a different story for female candidates

A recent issue of Vanity Fair featured a cover photo of White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke and his words about the 2020 US presidential race: “I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it.” One wonders what the reaction would be if O’Rourke’s female rivals made such a statement. Ambitious women in politics are treated differently. Voters are less likely to back female politicians if they perceive them as power-seeking, research from the Harvard Kennedy School suggests. More frustratingly, female voters are as likely to hold these negative views. Male politicians escape this “ambition backlash”.

Over the next 18 months these attitudes will be visible for all to see.

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Whose side is Twitter on: misogynists or women in public life? | Suzanne Moore

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 21:00

With death and rape threats escalating, the social media network needs to do more. Just ask Jess Phillips

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It’s the 21st-century proverb that also reflects our nonchalant attitude to social media. To those peculiar people to whom Twitter matters (in the UK an estimated 14 million) or who curate their pedicures on Instagram, or parade their holidays on Facebook, the relaxed riposte is: “None of this is real and everyone should calm down and do something meaningful.” Gardening? Reading novels? Talking to one’s own family? I have no idea.

While Carole Cadwalladr has exposed the enormous darkness within Facebook, the most toxic and overtly political of these platforms is Twitter. Everyone is talking about how our discussions are becoming increasingly polarised since Brexit. And it is on Twitter you see this most clearly, when antisemitism is expressed or Labour’s infighting is laid bare. But the biggest “polarisation” is that, to some, unadulterated woman-hating is still somehow permissible.

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I love swimming, but I’m sick of the sexist behaviour in British pools | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 21:00

The vast majority of male swimmers are no trouble, but there are still too many incidents involving men to ignore

A friend told me recently that of all animals, I most resemble a Shetland pony. In other words, my physique doesn’t exactly scream “athlete”. And so, when I go swimming, it comes as something of a surprise to others that I am actually quite good at it.

The more I swim, the more I notice that a not-insignificant number of men seem to take against my swimming abilities, and respond with an array of irritating behaviours. They push in front of me, they take up the whole lane, or – my personal favourite – they expend all of their energy on overtaking me, just to prove that they can, and then spend the rest of the lap swimming desperately slowly in front of me.

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Most poor people in the world are women. Australia is no exception | Emma Dawson

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:00

Women keep society ticking over then many retire into poverty because of the structured discrimination they face along the way

Most of the poor people in the world are women. In no country on earth are women economically equal to men, and Australia is no exception. Research from Acoss and the University of New South Wales last year showed that a higher share of people living in poverty in Australia are women.

The experience of living below the breadline in our very wealthy nation is a gendered one, for reasons that are complex and intertwined. As women progress through life, they encounter a series of barriers and setbacks that simply do not encumber men in the same way.

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Women dressed ‘provocatively’ are being arrested in Nigeria. The law’s still failing us | Sede Alonge

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 02:45
Those arrested in Abuja nightclubs were labelled prostitutes – despite there being no evidence. In this society, you don’t need any

Nigerian media has been awash with news of a recent police raid in the capital, Abuja, in which dozens of women were arrested in and around nightclubs on charges of prostitution. A city official said one way police assessed the potential guilt of the women was if they were dressed “provocatively”. No men were arrested in the raid. There was also an ominously conspicuous absence of any evidence of soliciting, which is a crime under Nigerian law. Most alarming of all, there are witness reports of rape, sexual assault and financial extortion of the women by the policemen who arrested them. Some of the women were taken to a mobile court and allegedly pressured to plead guilty to charges of prostitution on the spot.

Such arrests don't just disregard due process but send a clear message as to who's in charge: men

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From the Executive Director: In Tribute to Lenora Lapidus

Women's eNews - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 11:08

It is with much sadness that we report that Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, lost her battle with breast cancer on Sunday, May 5th. Lenora had a huge impact on the ACLU and beyond. I first met Lenora when I became Women’s eNews Executive Director in 2016, and quickly came to know her as a generous, tenacious, optimistic and joyous woman who was passionate about protecting the rights of women and girls, while mentoring young female lawyers to do the same. While I will miss her warm smile and glowing presence, I also know that her work will continue to improve the lives of women and girls for many generations to come. – – Lori Sokol, Exec. Dir.

Below please find the email that was sent from Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, to all ACLU staff yesterday morning:

***
Dear Friends,

I write with the very sad news that our longtime colleague, Lenora Lapidus, died this morning at her home, after a long struggle with cancer. The news will be a shock to many, because Lenora fought this battle privately, with incredible courage and dignity, while at the same time fighting valiantly and boldly in the public sphere for women’s rights. We will miss her sense of humor, her warmth and caring, and most of all, her firm commitment to making the world a more just place for all women. 

Lenora was a pillar of the ACLU. She began here as an intern in 1988, served as legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey, and led the Women’s Rights Project since 2001. As I have said before, Lenora renovated the house that Ruth built. She increased the Women’s Rights Project to nine staff, and reshaped its agenda to focus on eliminating gender-based violence, and furthering equality in employment and education. She spearheaded a Gender Justice Task Force of the WRP and ACLU affiliate lawyers throughout the country. Under her leadership, the WRP focused on the most marginalized members of society, including championing the rights of domestic workers trafficked by diplomats, farmworkers, nail salon workers, and women caught up in the criminal justice system. She was a globally recognized leader in women’s rights, and a powerful voice within the ACLU family for gender equity in the workplace. 

Lenora was a visionary lawyer. She litigated Lenahan v. USA, winning a decision from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights holding that the United States violated international human rights law for failing to respond adequately to gender-based violence. She represented military women in a lawsuit that led to the military’s repeal of its policy excluding women from combat positions, Hegar v. Panetta. She published many articles on women’s rights, and was the principal author of The Rights of Women, published by NYU Press in 2009. 

Lenora was recognized for her leadership on many occasions, including receiving a Wasserstein Fellowship from Harvard Law School for outstanding public interest contributions, and the Trailblazers Award from Women and Hollywood. In 2017, Women’s eNews honored her one of ’21 Leaders for the 21st Century.’

But it was her work as part of the team that brought a landmark challenge to human gene patents, resulting in a unanimous 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, for which I will most remember her. This case was initially controversial among the ACLU staff — with some staff worrying that our legal arguments would undercut the intellectual property regime that protected science and the arts. Other staff wondered how could we not challenge a practice that inhibited women’s and others’ ability to get the care and treatment they deserved for breast and ovarian cancer. Lenora demanded that I break the logjam. Her lived experiences as a cancer survivor and her unflinching demand for gender justice made clear that there was only one decision to make. We took the case and the Supreme Court ultimately rejected the notion that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 human genes could be patented. Because of Lenora’s courage and her unwillingness to accept no, and thanks to the work of her ACLU colleagues who helped bring the case with her, the health and lives of millions of women and men battling cancer would be improved. The Myriad case would come to embody the two battles that Lenora so valiantly fought: the battle against cancer and the fight against gender injustice. 

We recognize Lenora as our friend, colleague, and tireless advocate for justice. We will miss her terribly. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Matt, their daughter, Izzy, and the rest of her family.

Caster Semenya is a victim of rules that are confusing and unfair | Kenan Malik

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 19:00
Debate over the runner has been fierce. An even fiercer one awaits about transgender athletes

Should women with naturally elevated levels of testosterone be able to compete in women’s events? That’s the question with which athletics has been grappling over the past decade. Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), international sport’s highest court, ruled that such athletes could be banned unless they took medication to reduce their testosterone levels.

The Cas case had been brought by Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic champion, who, after winning her stunning 30th consecutive 800m victory in Doha on Friday, insisted that she would carry on racing in middle distance events, but would not take testosterone-reducing medication. From the moment she burst on to the international stage a decade ago, questions were raised about her sex. Semenya is hyperandrogenic – she has a much higher level of testosterone than most women.

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Nurse in trousers told her London Marathon record would not count

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 13:09

Guinness World Records says Jessica Anderson needed to have had a dress on to qualify

An NHS nurse who ran the London Marathon was told her Guinness World Record attempt would not count because she was not wearing a dress.

Jessica Anderson, who has been working for the Royal London Hospital’s acute admission unit for seven years, was aiming to become the fastest female marathon runner dressed as a nurse but her scrubs and trousers did not match the uniform criteria.

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Don’t shake off the Taylor Swift-Beyoncé controversy as just a performance | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 03:00

Swift’s Billboard Music awards set was reminiscent of Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella show – highlighting the history of black women’s achievements being ignored

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Feminist lawyers of South Asia rally to aid of #MeToo survivors

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 03:00
Facing down intimidation, women all over this traditional region are speaking out about sexual harassment and violence

Ali Zafar is famed across South Asia for his pop music, romantic comedies and even the occasional toothpaste advert. But last weekend he gave a particularly emotional performance on Pakistani television, tears welling in his eyes as he spoke of the effect sexual harassment allegations has had on his life. For the past year, the actor and musician has been embroiled in the country’s most high-profile #MeToo case: his initial accuser was the actress and singer Meesha Shafi.

Last April she issued a statement claiming that Zafar had sexually harassed her “on more than one occasion”. He responded by “categorically denying” the allegations and promising to sue.

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We don't need fraternities. Swarthmore was right to shut their's down | Jill Filipovic

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 00:00

Fraternities are pernicious forces for too many of the young men who join them, and for even more of the young women who walk through their doors

Here’s a line you don’t read very often: after evidence of truly egregious misogyny and bigotry was leaked to the public, two fraternities have decided to voluntarily disband.

The news comes out of Swarthmore, a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Internal documents from the Phi Psi fraternity, which were penned between 2010 and 2016, detailed a so-called “rape attic” at the fraternity, and included explicit and degrading details of sexual interactions with women. In response, several Swarthmore students staged a sit-in at Phi Psi, demanding that the university revoke their lease.

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Estonia minister calls first female president 'emotionally heated woman'

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:31

Kersti Kaljulaid criticised by far-right minister for leaving swearing-in ceremony of minister accused of domestic violence

Estonia’s new interior minister has called the country’s first female president, Kersti Kaljulaid, an “emotionally heated woman” for walking out during the swearing-in of a cabinet minister accused of domestic violence.

Mart Helme made the sexist remark at a news conference where he also accused domestic news outlets of applying a double standard in covering abuse allegations against a former minister from his far-right party.

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Women taking pill may be less likely to suffer ACL injury, study finds

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 13:01

Hormonal contraceptives potentially reduce risk of tear to anterior cruciate ligament

Women on the combined pill appear to be less likely to tear a key ligament in their knee, research suggests.

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee are common, particularly in people taking part in sport, where such injuries sometimes end careers.

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The ERA – Rising from the Dead

Women's eNews - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 10:37

The House Judiciary Committee held the first Congressional hearing on the amendment in more than three decades on April 30. Supporters of the ERA argued that its resurrection was desperately needed. Opponents wanted it to stay buried. The conservative National Review opined, The Equal Rights Amendment Is Deader than Marley’s Ghost.

But this epitaph is premature. Two states—Nevada and Illinois—have recently ratified the amendment, bringing the total to 37, just one short of the 38 needed for ratification. The key passage at the heart of the ERA is:  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA, if ratified, would provide a strong legal defense against a rollback of the significant advances in women’s rights that have been achieved since the mid–20th century.

MARCH 22: A woman hold up a sign as members of Congress and representatives of women’s groups hold a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) outside the U.S. Capitol March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a new version of the Equal Rights Amendment last year and called for it to be passed again. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Without the ERA, women regularly have to fight long, expensive, and difficult legal battles in an effort to prove that their rights are equal to those of the other sex.

But is the ERA necessary?

In a 2010 interview with California Lawyer magazine, the late justice Antonin Scalia said, “Women’s equality is not explicitly protected in the constitution or in the 14th Amendment.”  In his words, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” Some critics argue that we don’t need the ERA because women have done ‘just fine’ without it. This argument completely ignores a troubling reality. Every time women make great gains, a sustained period of backlash sets in and a retreat follows on women’s rights.  

After women were granted the right to vote in 1920, the drive for more gains slowed down. It would take another 45 years for women to win the right to simply use contraception to plan their families. The women’s movement of the 1970s was followed by an extended period of “Post feminism,” and young women avoided the term as if it were a swear word. In 1998, a Time magazine cover asked, Is Feminism Dead? and suggested the answer was ‘yes’.

In 1991, women were enraged over the sexist treatment of law professor Anita Hill when she testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in his Senate confirmation hearing. Hill, who said that Thomas sexually harassed her, was grilled about prurient issues. Senators insisted that she name the pornographic movie Thomas allegedly recommended to her, “Long Dong Silver.”

Women responded by running for political office in greater numbers in the next year than in the past, and winning. Never before had four women been sent to the Senate in a single congressional election. The year 1992 was even dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” but mass political activism around sexual harassment mostly faded, until the #MeToo movement surfaced in 2017.

The ERA could successfully diminish the power of backlash that builds after every major step forward, because when rights are embedded in the Constitution, they are hard to deny. Recall that in the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly, the ardent, strident and out-spoken enemy of the ERA, issued dire predictions about the aftermath of its passage. “She warned of a dystopian post-E.R.A. future of women forced to enlist in the military, gay marriage, unisex toilets everywhere and homemakers driven into the workplace by husbands free to abandon them,” noted the New York Times. Scare stories abounded, and the amendment fell short of the number of states needed for ratification.   

Although the amendment failed, the New York Times reported that, “Much of what she [Schlafly] recoiled from has come to pass: abortions are intact, albeit under siege in some jurisdictions. Same-sex marriage as a right has the Supreme Court’s blessing. Unisex bathrooms are a broadly accepted fact of life, notwithstanding struggles over transgender rights. And women today not only fill the ranks of the military but are also eligible for combat duty.”

But many of these changes resulted from legislation and, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reminds us, “legislation can be repealed, it can be altered.” Or it can simply ignored. In April, the U.S. Justice Department decided not to defend a federal law banning female genital mutilation. This is a barbaric procedure, unfortunately common in many areas of the world. The section of a women’s genitalia that is key to sexual pleasure is simply cut out of her body. Women’s rights activists have called for the reversal of the decision. (Women’s eNews alerted readers to this story on April 26.)

What difference would the ERA make if it were to be made law today? According to the New York Times, it would “guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It would also require states to intervene in cases of gender violence, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment; it would guard against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination; and it would federally guarantee equal pay.” During the 1970s and ’80s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped to persuade the Supreme Court to extend the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to prohibit unequal treatment on the basis of sex — similar to what the ERA would have done. But supporters said that clause didn’t go far enough, particularly when it comes to violence against women, sexual harassment and equal pay.”

Looking at the history of the gender pay gap shows us why the ERA is needed. This stubborn  gap persists despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. He praised it as a “significant step forward,” but acknowledged that “much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity” for women. His words were eerily prescient.

Since then, some gains were made. In 1963, “women who worked full-time, year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.” In the past six decades, women’s earnings have increased, but according to the National Women’s Law Center, the wage gap remains stubborn, with very little change over the past 12 years.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that “if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 41 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity.” For women of color, the rate of change is even slower. The gender wage gap persists in spite of passage of The Equal Pay Act. Gender discrimination, unequal opportunities for advancement, and lack of federal paid parental leave and childcare assistance all contribute to the unequal status quo.

And the fight goes on. Since the 1970s, five states – Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota – have attempted to withdraw their approval of the Equal Rights Amendment. There is heated debate over whether states actually have the right to rescind a ratification. Ultimately, the Supreme Court may have to answer this question. And this debate is likely to intensify as we approach the magic number: 38.

Why is it important now?

In 2017, Nevada ratified the amendment, led by democratic State Senator Pat Spearman,  “It was then that other states said, ‘Wait a minute, you mean we can still do that?” noted the New York Times. In 2018, Illinois did as well. Then, in February of 2019, Virginia came close to being the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment — until the State House killed its progress. “The drumbeat for the ERA is louder than ever before. Women are marching, protesting, running for office – and getting elected – in record numbers. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have shined a light on the discrimination that persists in this country. And it is up to us to harness the energy of these movements to break through the final barrier to finally ratify the ERA,” says Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). “Our rights cannot be subject to the political whims of legislators, judges, or occupants of the White House who do not see women as equal citizens. We will not quit until women are in the Constitution, where we belong. Women are not waiting any longer. We demand full equality now. We demand that it be spelled out in the Constitution. And you know how you spell it? E-R-A.”

Virginia’s Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, has led the new movement to defeat the ERA. The Washington Post reports, “Virginia was poised to become the 38th state to ratify it, filling in that three-quarters majority of states required for it to become official. In Richmond, the GOP-led Senate passed the ERA bill [in February 2019]. And celebrities, lawmakers and activists were touting its revival on Capitol Hill in Washington. “But then a tiny subcommittee in Richmond — the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee — voted along party lines to block the amendment from reaching the House floor after heavy lobbying from Cobb.” The Post goes on to note that, “(Cobb) has powerful place in the world of business is her family’s oyster company, where she has worked mostof her adult life. Good thing there’s no sexual harassment or gender discrimination there, right?” Cobb bases most of her objections on abortion, “convincing folks that somehow, if women were to finally be included in the Constitution, it would mean all kinds of public money would be funding abortion.” However, the ERA has nothing to do with abortion.

 “Today, we are witnessing a massive cultural shift for women around the globe. As the highest-ranking female elected official in New York – the birthplace of the women’s rights movement – we must lead by example and pass the Equal Rights Amendment now,” says NYS Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “From the workplace to our health care system, women are being held back by outdated institutional social and economic barriers. Because of our current climate, enacting an ERA on both the state and federal level is more important now than ever. Let’s take action and support women around our nation to achieve full constitutional equality. Our generation must take the torch passed on to us by our foremothers and enact a new ERA for the next generation.”

As the battle rages on, Justice Ginsburg, aka The Notorious RBG, has also made one of the best arguments for ratification: “I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion—that women and men are persons of equal stature—I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

The California jail where women say guards and medics preyed on them

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 21:00

Former inmates at a Los Angeles county prison allege a range of sexual abuses by employees – from overt assault to subtle misconduct – made easy by the toxic power dynamics

In 2011, Michele Infante was incarcerated for close to six months at the Century regional detention facility in Lynwood, California, a small city adjacent to Compton and Watts. The facility is Los Angeles county’s only jail designated for women and sprawls across an industrial zone in the shadow of the Imperial Highway.

Infante, now 58, says she was sexually assaulted and sexually abused by two different employees at Lynwood, as the jail is known locally.

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Why being pregnant while black can seriously damage your health | Miriam Zoila Pérez

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 20:00

In the US, women of color face more risks in pregnancy and childbirth than white women, and the reason for the disparity has become clear: racism

When Jessica Roach’s second daughter was born premature, at just 34 weeks and five days, Roach found herself living a statistic that she knew intimately. What began as dizzy spells, nausea and food aversion became a condition that called for bed rest; her cervix, it turned out, was dilating too early. An African American woman living in Columbus, Ohio, Roach experienced a pregnancy rife with health challenges, despite having a job as a nurse at Ohio State University and access to medical care just floors from where she worked.

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Cambridge University criticised for hosting anti-feminist group

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 19:00

Justice for Men and Boys event goes against institution’s values, say staff and students

The University of Cambridge has been criticised for hosting a self-proclaimed anti-feminist group that staff claim have harassed female academics and make people feel unsafe on campus.

A letter, written by more than 300 of the university staff, students and alumni, calls for an event featuring the political party Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB) to be cancelled.

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Twitter and Facebook told they must do more to protect female MPs

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:43

Parliamentary committee grills company representatives over violent and misogynistic abuse

Twitter and Facebook have been accused by a parliamentary committee of failing to do enough to protect female MPs and other public figures from violent or misogynistic abuse.

Representatives of the two social media giants appeared before the joint human rights committee on Wednesday, where one member – Joanna Cherry, an SNP MP – showed examples of the type of abuse that female MPs faced.

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Tarana Burke and Tracey Spicer win Sydney Peace prize for #MeToo work

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 08:00

Award honours the movement that has changed the way society understands and talks about sexual violence

Tracey Spicer, the joint winner of the 2019 Sydney Peace prize, is calling for an incoming federal government to overhaul Australian defamation laws to ensure sexual harassment survivors are not condemned to silence.

Tarana Burke, the US-based founder of the #MeToo movement, has been awarded the annual prize alongside Spicer, who helped spearhead award-winning investigations into sexual harassment in media workplaces in Australia.

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