The week in women: warrior reporters, crusading gymnasts, and an incredible response to the tragedy in Charleston

Travis Dove/The New York Times

On Wednesday night, six women and three men were murdered at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what has been called a racially motivated act of terror. We close the week with heavy hearts, but emerge somewhat hopeful: over the past few days, a slew of women have displayed true bravery in the face of hatred, corruption, and cruelty. Let’s take a look back.

The teenage children of Sharonda Singleton, one of the Charleston shooting victims, say that they have forgiven suspect Dylann Storm Roof. “I just feel a lot of love,” Singleton’s daughter Camryn told the BBC. “I’m a little bitter, but I’m overwhelmed with love.” As a very wise man once said, “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

North Carolina resident Debbi Dills was credited with facilitating Roof’s arrest. She spotted his vehicle during her commute to work on Thursday, and decided to follow it. While her boss phoned the police, Dills was able to confirm the license plate number. “It was God who made this happen,” she told CNN. “God heard the prayers of those people.”

Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani journalist who was imprisoned for exposing government corruption, called for justice from her jail cell. With Azerbaijan in the spotlight as the inaugural European Games got under way last week, Ismayilova wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, calling for readers to “stand up for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.” Ismayilova also wrote that she has continued to investigate her stories from behind prison walls, basically because she is a warrior reporter.

And speaking of awesome women warriors, a female police superintendent is at the helm of operations against the Bodo militant group in India’s Sonitpur district. According to a recent piece in India Today, Sanjyukta Parashar fearlessly leads her troops into the dense forests where Bodo groups hide. She has seized weapon caches, gunned down 16 militants, and made 64 arrests. The article does note, however, that Parashar and her team occasionally have to yield to grazing elephants.

A Malaysian gymnast is refusing to back down in the face of genital tyranny, which is far less laughable than it sounds. Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was criticized by conservative Muslim groups for wearing a leotard at the Southeast Asian Games—apparently the standard attire for world-class gymnasts revealed too much of Abdul Hadi’s anatomy. A Facebook page backing the gymnast received 20,000 likes, and Abdul Hadi posted a message of thanks for the support. Three cheers for standing tall against vagina vigilantes.

On a similar “silly, but not actually that silly” note, a bisexual Baltimore woman started a crowdfunding campaign to make her yard “even gayer” after her neighbor complained that the garden was “relentlessly gay.” Julie Baker had displayed a string of rainbow-colored fairy lights in her yard and for some unfathomable reason, this prompted a crotchety neighbor to leave her the following note: “Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down … Your kind need to have respect for GOD.” Baker’s GoFundMe campaign has raised over $33,000, which she plans to put toward a relentlessly gay rainbow roof.

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