The Week in Women: A robotics team comes to America, a federal official apologizes for remark on sexual assault, and the London Tube nixes a common phrase

Afghan teenagers from Afghanistan Robotic House walk towards Herat International Airport on July 13, 2017, before embarking for the United States. (HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP/Getty Images)

It was a turbulent week in news, with about-faces, changes of heart, and one-eighties dominating the headlines. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

An Education Department official has apologized for saying that most campus assault claims stem from drunken hook-ups and messy breakups. Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department, made the ill-advised comments during an interview with the New York Times. She quickly came under fire from critics who accused her of promoting harmful stereotypes of sexual assault victims — an especially grave charge because Jackson was responsible for organizing recent listening sessions about the impact of the Education Department’s Title IX sexual assault guidance. “What I said was flippant, and I am sorry,” Jackson later told The Associated Press. “All sexual harassment and sexual assault must be taken seriously.”

Six teenage girls from Afghanistan will be allowed to compete in a U.S. robotics competition after Donald Trump urged U.S. officials to revoke their rejection of the girls’ visa requests. The team had made two 500-mile journeys to the American embassy in Kabul, but had been denied visas for reasons unknown. (The robot they built, incidentally, was cleared for entry into the U.S.) News of their plight went viral, prompting Trump to intercede on the girls’ behalf. Lida Azizi, a 15-year-old team member, told the Associated Press that she was excited to fly to Washington, D.C. for the competition. “I am very happy,” she said. “This is such an important trip for us.”

But lest you think that the president has turned over a new leaf: Donald Trump arrived in Paris for Bastille Day celebrations on Thursday and, in signature fashion, made some pretty loutish comments about Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France. “You’re in such good shape,” Trump said upon meeting Macron. Then, turning to French president Emmanuel Macron, he said, “She’s in such good physical shape.” He also told Brigitte that she is “beautiful.” Call us crazy, but it’s almost as though Trump sees women as ornamental objects or something.

In an effort to be more inclusive to passengers on public transportation, the London Underground will no longer use the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” in announcements. Instead, Tube employees have reportedly been instructed to use gender-neutral phrases like “good morning, everyone” and “hello, everyone.” The move has been welcomed by LGBT groups like Stonewall, a U.K. advocacy group, which said the new announcements “can help ensure all people feel included.” It will be interesting to see if other transit organizations follow suit. And in the event that New York’s MTA is open to some additional upgrades, a remedy for the subway’s resident strains of bubonic plague would be much appreciated.

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