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Rape is becoming decriminalised. It is a shocking betrayal of vulnerable women | Julie Bindel

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 06:22
Reported rapes have doubled in a year, yet prosecutions are at their lowest level for a decade. The CPS must be held to account

If I were a rapist, I would be laughing all the way to my next victim in the context of today’s news that rape prosecutions are at their lowest level in a decade. And if I was raped today, it pains me to say that I wouldn’t dream of reporting that rape to the police. As a lifelong feminist campaigner against male violence, I feel more pessimistic about the prospect of ending rape – which is what any civilised society should aim for – than I did 40 years ago.

For decades, the proportion of reported rapes that end in a conviction has been dismally low. But things are getting worse: today’s statistics show that although the number of rapes reported to the police has doubled in the last year, the number of rape cases charged and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has fallen dramatically. Out of 54,000 reports of rape in 2017-18 (thought to be a fraction of the rapes actually committed), only 1,925 ended in a conviction.

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NHS to open specialist FGM support clinics across England

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 13:01

Eight centres to aim to reach a broader group of women, including those younger and not pregnant

The NHS is opening female genital mutilation support clinics across England that will allow survivors to access expert care and treatment earlier.

More than 1,300 women are expected to benefit from the highly specialised FGM support being rolled out in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and five boroughs in London, according to NHS England.

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Women’s magazines are more progressive than ever – and they’re all closing down | Yomi Adegoke

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 06:09

Marie Claire is just the latest titan of women’s media to fall, following Lucky, More!, The Pool and Lenny Letter. Their absence will be keenly felt

Readers of women’s magazines have had a rough few years. Every few months another titan falls and today we are mourning the UK print edition of Marie Claire, which at 31 has had its life cut short by the prolific killer, “social media”. Its other victims include Lucky, More!, Look and InStyle UK. Marie Claire will live on in the digital afterlife (and in print in other markets where it continues to be published, such as Australia, France and the US), alongside Glamour, which went digital first in 2017, cutting its print edition to twice a year.

It is an epidemic. Cosmopolitan saw its print circulation drop by a third in the last half of 2018; weeklies Woman and Woman’s Own were down 20% and 19% respectively. Now magazine dropped 43%.

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Why you should think twice before sharing your sex life with an app

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 05:01

Millions of women manage their menstrual cycles with period-tracking apps - and it’s emerged that some of the trackers have been sharing personal data with Facebook

Not content with knowing where you have been, who you’ve been talking to, which of your friends you want to date and who you are likely to vote for, it now looks like Facebook also knows when you have been having sex – if you have been using a period-tracker app, that is.

Research published by Privacy International this week found that apps used by millions of women to track their menstrual cycles, including MIA Fem and Maya, had been sharing personal data with Facebook and other third-party services. The information included contraception use, physical symptoms and, yes, when users had sex. (Mercifully, it seems who we have been doing it with remains out of Facebook’s sweaty grasp.)

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What do all these ‘economically unattractive men’ tell us about marriage? | Arwa Mahdawi

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 01:25

Rush Limbaugh is wrong to blame feminists for the lack of ‘high-earning husbands’, but some women do have odd ideas about wedlock

I hope you feminists are happy! You’ve finally gone and done it. You’ve throttled the supply of high-earning husbands, and now there are severe mismatches in the marriage market. Yes, I regret to report that a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family (there truly is a journal for everything) has found that unmarried American women “face overall shortages of economically attractive partners”. Women are looking for husbands with an income 58% higher than those of the available men.

Hang on, I thought marriage was about love, not combined incomes? Sure, says Daniel Lichter, a Cornell professor and the study’s lead author, “but it also is fundamentally an economic transaction”. And, Lichter says, “Many young men today have little to bring to the marriage bargain, especially as young women’s educational levels … now exceed their male suitors.”

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Calls for testosterone to be licensed in UK for postmenopausal women

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 22:00

Hormone is critical treatment for those experiencing reduced libido in midlife, say experts

The lack of availability of testosterone for postmenopausal women in the UK is morally wrong, an expert has said.

The criticism comes after a taskforce brought together by the International Menopause Society (IMS) found testosterone could help women with hypoactive sexual desire dysfunction (HSDD), asignificantly reduced interest in sex after menopause.

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Frydenberg claimed the gender pay gap has closed. Job done! Except for the facts | Emma Dawson

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 19:36

The treasurer has claimed a victory that has largely resulted from lower incomes and fewer jobs for men

Fellow feminists, rejoice! According to no less an authority than the treasurer of Australia, “the gender pay gap has closed”. Josh Frydenberg said so, on Monday, in Question Time. It’s in Hansard, so it must be true.

Job done! We can all stop with the time-consuming advocacy and agitation, and just hit the shops to start spending the extra $241.50 per week we’re getting in our pay packets now that the government has brought our earnings into line with the blokes. Hurrah!

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Manchester Art Gallery tackles gender gap with female self-portraits

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 19:00

Untitled (Red) and In wake donated by Valeria Napoleone, who only collects art by women

An art gallery has unveiled two new works in an attempt to address its gender imbalance, where less than 10% of its permanent collection are by women. The self-portraits by the Cape Town-based visual artist Berni Searle have been added to the permanent collection at Manchester Art Gallery, in a move to extend “the discourse around representation and identity”.

Untitled (Red) and In wake were donated by the art collector and philanthropist Valeria Napoleone, who only collects art by women, as part of a scheme to redress criticisms of a historical lack of female representation.

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Margaret Atwood’s new work is full of feminist hope. But don’t dumb it down | Natasha Walter

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 19:00
The Testaments gives a vivid portrait of female resistance. But we should beware seeing women as merely angels or victims

In these dark and difficult political times, I often find myself craving clarity, looking for explanations and reassurances – and rarely, if ever, finding what I seek. When I got my hands on a precious copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments a couple of days ago I was surprised by the almost physical hunger I felt to step back into Gilead. Obviously, I’m not alone, and one reason why this dystopia has hit the spot for many of us is its clarity. I’m not saying that there isn’t complexity of plot in Atwood’s creation, but in Gilead there is also a great deal of moral certainty. There is good, and there is evil. There is oppression, and there is resistance.

Related: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood review – a dazzling follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale

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New Zealand Labour's president resigns over handling of sexual assault inquiry

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:33

Jacinda Ardern says allegations in question are ‘incredibly distressing’ and offers to meet alleged victims

The president of New Zealand’s Labour party has resigned over the handling of sexual assault allegations against a party staffer.

Jacinda Ardern announced Nigel Haworth’s resignation on Wednesday, two days after details of an alleged assault against a 19-year-old were published by the Spinoff. As party president, Haworth oversaw the investigation of the complaint and several others levelled at the staffer by a string of Labour members.

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Iranian female football fan who self-immolated outside court dies

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 05:26

Death of Sahar Khodayari, facing prison for trying to enter stadium, provokes outcry

An Iranian female football fan has died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom, after learning she may face six months in prison for trying to enter a stadium, a news agency reported on Tuesday.

Sahar Khodayari’s death immediately ignited an outcry in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, although they are allowed to watch other sports, such as volleyball.

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More Handmaid's Tale sequels? 'Never say never', says Margaret Atwood

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 03:23

Canadian author of The Testaments refuses to rule it out, saying she was pushed to writing the sequel by US moves to police women’s bodies

The growing similarities between the US and her fictional regime of Gilead, where women’s bodies are policed by a totalitarian state, helped prompt Margaret Atwood into writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, the author has said.

The Testaments was released worldwide today, 34 years after the story of Offred ended in the first book. Speaking about it publicly for the first time, Atwood said that there had been “many requests for a sequel” over the intervening years, but she “always said no”.

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NHS bosses apologise for calling single mothers a burden

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 07:41

Body says sorry for offence caused by its justification for denying single women IVF

NHS bosses have apologised for justifying denying single women IVF treatment by saying they would be a burden to society and “unable to bring out the best outcomes for the child”.

NHS South East London has said sorry for the “offence and distress” it caused, which prompted 175 single mothers to complain about its “misguided and offensive” language.

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Charging migrant women for maternity care puts us all to shame | Nell Frizzell

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 05:01

Asking vulnerable migrants to pay deters them from getting the help they need – even those who may be eligible for free NHS treatment

Rarely have I felt more ashamed of Britain than when having to provide passport details before my first ever midwife appointment.

There, alongside my name and address, close to the section about smoking and family history, I was asked to prove – what, exactly? That I was British enough to deserve a healthy pregnancy?

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End NHS maternity charges for vulnerable migrants, say midwives

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 13:01

Destitute women and their babies are ‘put at risk of avoidable harm’ by high fees

Midwives have called on the government to scrap NHS charges that can amount to tens of thousands of pounds for pregnant women who are refugees, migrants or visiting from overseas, amid concerns that “hostile environment” policies are making it hard for health workers to do their jobs.

The safety of vulnerable mothers and newborn babies is being put at risk by NHS fees that deter undocumented migrant women from accessing care, a new report from Maternity Action backed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has warned.

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Jennifer Gunter: ‘Women are being told lies about their bodies’

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 23:00

Dr Jennifer Gunter is the world’s most famous – and outspoken – gynaecologist. And she’s on a mission to empower women with medical facts, taking on wellness gurus, old wives’ tales, the patriarchy and jade eggs along the way

‘Dear Ms Paltrow,’ began Dr Jen Gunter’s open letter of 2017, regarding the jade eggs Paltrow was promoting on her website Goop. Paltrow claimed that inserting one into the vagina would improve a woman’s life, in at least four ways. “It is the biggest load of garbage I have read on your site since vaginal steaming. It’s even worse than claiming bras cause cancer. But hey, you aren’t one to let facts get in the way of profiting from snake oil.” And so it began. It was a war on wellness – an industry now worth more than $4.2tn (£3.5tn) – and every battle went viral, leading to Gunter becoming the most famous gynaecologist in the world.

When one of Goop’s “medical experts” wrote that Gunter was “strangely confident” in her thoughts on jade eggs, she replied: “I am not strangely confident about vaginal health; I am appropriately confident because I am the expert.” Many of her statements end with similar mic drops. It is a rare moment when a gynaecologist becomes an international celebrity, and it comes on a wave of misinformation, fear and continued attacks on the bodily autonomy of women. One Goop fan called Gunter the “vaginal Antichrist”.

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Could Rihanna’s new lingerie line turn out to be her greatest hit?

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 22:00

The star’s Savage X Fenty range is stealing the market from Victoria’s Secret

Flesh rolls, stretch marks and dimpled thighs aren’t a traditional mainstay of New York fashion week, nor are lingerie shows ever deemed to have a finger on the pulse. But if the hype around Rihanna’s new collection is anything to go by, the industry is bracing itself for a wobble.

This Tuesday the star, named the world’s richest female musician by Forbes, will be mounting her second Savage X Fenty show at an as-yet-to-be-disclosed Brooklyn venue. As per her debut last year, which was celebrated as a game-changing “festival of flesh of all skin tones” by Vogue, the spectacle is expected to be diverse, inclusive and attended by fashion and celebrity A-listers.

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Women’s football must be played in more big stadiums

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 08:20
Record crowds at this weekend’s WSL derbies proves the value of hosting matches at large venues – even if they are half-empty

Women’s football is having a lightbulb moment. With Manchester City hosting Manchester United at the Etihad stadium in the Women’s Super League in front of more than 31,000 fans, and Chelsea welcoming Tottenham to Stamford Bridge, change is afoot.

And the clubs are experimenting too: City charged for tickets, while Chelsea are giving them away. There are arguments for both plans. With around 40,000 tickets given out for the London game, even a 50% drop-off would see an impressive 20,000 people through the gates. But by not charging, Chelsea are choosing not to assign a value to a growing, competitive, elite sport played by international-level athletes.

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Put it away: Texas passes law against dick pics | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 03:00

The Lone Star state is leading the way with a cyber-flashing act outlawing unsolicited penis pictures

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

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Think Boris Johnson is toxic to voters? Don’t be so sure | Gaby Hinsliff

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 19:00
We can’t be certain that a tide of progressive votes will wash away the prime minister’s chances of winning an election

Boris Johnson has blown it, surely. Even the man who invariably gets away with murder – rising above things that would sink any mortal politician – can only push the Tory faithful so far. Or so I thought, at any rate, the night it emerged that police had been called to his girlfriend Carrie Symonds’ flat by worried neighbours.

Whatever happened between them – and the police went away satisfied it was nothing but a lovers’ tiff – the episode seemed at best embarrassing and distinctly un-prime ministerial. Surely older Conservatives, pens poised over leadership ballot papers, would worry about the risks of putting such a volatile character into No 10.

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