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Mar 08
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‘No empathy’

Danish inventor Peter Madsen testified in court on Thursday in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he is on trial for the murder of journalist Kim Wall during a private trip on his submarine last year. Madsen, who has been accused of torturing the 30-year-old journalist before killing her and dismembering her body, told the court that Wall died because of a sudden pressure problem in the submarine.

Madsen’s testimony contradicted his previous accounts of Wall’s death. Initially, he had told authorities that his submarine had sunk due to technical problems, and that he didn’t know where Wall was because he had dropped her off on a Copenhagen island. After the discovery of Wall’s dismembered corpse, he amended his account, claiming that Wall had actually died on the submarine after he accidentally let the hatch fall and hit her on the head.

A court sketch shows Peter Madsen (L) and the prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, (standing) on the first day of the trial in Copenhagen, Denmark March 8, 2018. (Anne Gyrite Schütt/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS)

In court, Madsen strongly denied any sexual attraction to Wall, but acknowledged that he was “a promiscuous person.” He also admitted to dismembering Wall’s body, claiming that it had been necessary to get her body off the submarine. Prosecutors showed the court a drawing of the multiple stab wounds inflicted to Wall’s torso, and pointed out that they had found videos of women being tortured and killed on his computer. A court-order psychiatric evaluation found that Madsen, 47, had “no empathy or feelings of guilt” over what had happened to Wall.

Wall had studied at Paris Sorbonne University, the London School of Economics and Columbia University in New York City, before embarking on a career in journalism that saw her published in papers such as The New York Times and The Guardian. According to her friend, Caterina Clerici, Wall had “a soft spot for misfits, for places and people that did not conform.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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'They’re afraid’

A record-setting number of women sought political office in primary elections across Texas on Tuesday, as the number of women running for Congress has surged nationwide in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump. In Texas, nearly 50 women candidates participated in primary elections — more than half of whom won or advanced to runoffs, according to The Associated Press. Altogether, the number of Democrats voting in the Texas primaries doubled from the last midterm election in 2014.

“It’s Trump. It’s Trump,” explained Veronica Escobar of the big night for women in Texas, the first state in the nation to hold a 2018 primary. Escobar and fellow Democrat Sylvia Garcia are expected to become the first Latinas from Texas to be elected to Congress. “I’ve spoken to innumerable senior citizens, retirees, parents of disabled children, people who understand what this administration means to their families. And they’re afraid.”

“This is not my victory. This is all of our victory,” Garcia told supporters at her campaign headquarters in Houston. “This was for Latinos who for too long have sat on the political sidelines while the president sits in the White House blaming all of our problems on immigrants.”

Among the women to lose out on the campaign trail was Republican fundraiser Kathleen Wall, who came up just a little more than 100 votes shy of a runoff despite spending nearly $6 million on her campaign.

For more on the wave of women victories in Texas, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Hill.

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‘I was crying’

Acclaimed activist Sunitha Krishnan is embroiled in an ongoing battle with sex traffickers who continue to organize retaliatory attacks on her and her staff, as well as the women and infants she rescues. Most recently, a group of women posing as sex trafficking victims shattered windows at a nursery outside Hyderabad, in southern India. The facility was filled with babies and the assailants attacked the staff with shards of glass — injuring some of them severely.

“As I was sitting here, it suddenly sank in my brain: What if one of the children — what if one of them is hurt? I crashed completely. I was crying and crying and crying,” she told Kai Shultz in an interview for The New York Times. Fortunately, none of the babies were harmed.

Krishnan, the winner of one of India’s highest civilian honors and the longtime leader of Prajwala, has been working with the organization to rescue women and children from sex traffickers for decades. The rescue facility that was recently attacked can host up to 1,200 girls, providing them not only with safety and food, but also education and training so that they can find work to provide for themselves. Krishnan says that Prajwala has been able to remain in contact with 86 percent of the 20,000 women and children the group has rescued — proving “to the world that it is possible to change.”

Krishnan herself is no stranger to assault — at the age of 15, she was sexually assaulted by eight men while working on a literacy campaign in a village. And since she started her advocacy work, she said she has been assaulted 17 times, dodged an attempted acid attack, and witnessed the murder of one of her staff. Speaking with The New York Times, she explained why her work was proving so successful at combating sex trafficking, and elaborated on the difficulty of trying to help young women and girls who often have lost the ability to trust.

Krishnan has been a guest on the Women in the World stage several times over the years and is perhaps best known for her controversial “Shame the Rapist” campaign, in which she collected footage of Indian men shamelessly raping women and then uploaded that footage to the internet for the world to see, while blurring out the victims’ faces to protect their identities. At the 2015 Women in the World New York Summit, Krishnan talked about what motivated her to to begin the campaign. “The way in which these men were flaunting this inspired me to start the ‘Shame the Rapist Campaign,’ she said, referring to the brazen practice of men sharing videos with their friends that show themselves raping women. “The impunity of the act was shocking. Enough is enough. We cannot tolerate this anymore. They need to be shamed,” she said. Below watch a one-on-one interview with Krishnan recorded moments after her appearance onstage at the 2015 Summit.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Earhart’s island

New scientific evidence appears to strongly suggest that legendary aircraft pilot Amelia Earhart survived a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean before dying while marooned on a remote island. Speculation over Earhart’s mysterious 1937 disappearance during an attempted flight around the world has captivated researchers for decades, but a new forensic analysis by University of Tennessee professor Richard L. Jantz of bones found in 1940 on Nikumaroro Island may have finally solved the mystery for good.

Ric Gillespie, the director of the International Group for Historical Aircraft recovery, has argued for years that testimony from professional radio operators and a 1937 photo taken by a British expedition pointed to an Earhart crash on a coral reef off of Nikumaroro, where he believes she radioed for help for nearly a week before the plane and her equipment was pulled into the sea. Interest in Gillespie’s theory had wavered after a History Channel documentary featured a photo that purportedly showed the aviator in Japan — lending credence to theories that Earhart had actually been captured by the Japanese and later died in custody. But, as it turned out, the photo had actually been published in 1935 — two years before Earhart set out on her fateful trip around the globe.

A British expedition to Nikumaroro in 1940 had discovered human remains, part of what appeared to be a woman’s shoe, a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant and a bottle of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur. An analysis of the bones in 1941 concluded that the bones belonged to a man, but Jantz’s new analysis found that that Earhart’s bones were “more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 [percent] of individuals in a large reference sample.”

According to Jantz, his research shows conclusively that “the only documented person to whom they may belong is Amelia Earhart.” But after so many years investigating the mystery, proponents of alternative theories about Earhart’s disappearance don’t appear ready to let the matter rest quite yet. For more on Earhart, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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Flip flop

A campaign by McDonald’s to mark International Women’s Day has instead shone a harsh light on the company’s troubled treatment of women.

The fast food giant flipped its iconic golden arches, to resemble a W, across all their digital channels on Thursday, and announced that 100 of the fast food chain’s locations across the U.S. would also feature special packaging, uniforms and bag stuffers. One California outlet went so far as to physically invert its outdoor signs. Chief Diversity Officer Wendy Lewis said the gesture was “in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere,” reports CNN.

But the gimmick was swiftly derided by critics, including the underpaid workers’ organization Fight for 15, who accuse the company of failing to pay its female workers fair wages, offer family leave, respect union rights, or “protect poverty wage working women from sexual harassment.”

Hourly workers in eight states filed sexual harassment complaints against the chain in 2016, including an allegation by one woman that her manager sent an SMS offering $1,000 for oral sex, HuffPost reports. Workers also made complaints of having their breasts and backsides grabbed, as well as hearing obscene comments about their appearance or sexual orientation. The then-current and former workers — members of Fight for 15 in California, New York, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida — filed the allegations with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“One day, [my shift supervisor] Derek showed me a photo of his genitals. That was my breaking point,” reported plaintiff Cycei Monae, recounting a history of daily harassment by her boss.

A video released in 2016 by Fight for 15 shows McDonald’s and other fast-food workers sharing their allegations of sexual harassment suffered at work:

A 2016 survey conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by Futures Without Violence, the Ms. Foundation and the National Partnership for Women and Families in conjunction with Fight for 15, showed that 40 percent of women who work in fast food say they’ve experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behavior at work.

“We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed,” company spokesperson Lauren Altmin told CNBC ahead of International Women’s Day. “In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today, six out of 10 restaurant managers are women.

Read the full story at HuffPost and CNN.

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Cuffs

According to a report by The Daily Beast, NYPD detectives are ready to arrest Harvey Weinstein for felony sexual assault, but have one final hurdle in front of them before they can do so: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The report cited sources inside the department with knowledge of the case and quoted Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, who reportedly said the investigation of the disgraced movie mogul is “going very, very well.”

As for whether Vance will give the NYPD the green light to apprehend Weinstein, that remains a mystery as his office declined to comment when The Daily Beast reached out. Investigators have been probing five different allegations against Weinstein, including those made by two women who have spoken out publicly: actress Paz de la Huerta, who alleged that Weinstein forced his way into her apartment and raped her about seven years ago; and Lucia Evans, who said in a report by The New Yorker last October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 when she was a college student who was interested in pursuing an acting career.

According to The Daily Beast, at least one of the investigations has turned up “strong” evidence.

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.

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Justice

A Belgian man became the first person in his country to be convicted of “sexism in a public place,” for a verbal diatribe he unleashed on a female police officer who had stopped him for jaywalking. The man, whose name has not been made public, was also fined 3,000 euros ($3,725) by a Brussels criminal court and could face jail time if he fails to pay the fine. By law, he is permitted to appeal the verdict, which was handed down last November but had gone mostly unnoticed until this week.

The incident stemmed from an altercation in June 2016 when a woman police officer saw a man jaywalking on a street in Zaventem, a small town outside the capital city, The New York Times reported. When the office questioned the man, who was 23 at the time, he fled. She pursued him and apprehended him, at which point, he began to berate her.

“Shut your mouth, I don’t talk to women, being a police officer is not a job for women,” prosecutors said the man shouted at the female police officer, the Times reported. She then placed the man under arrest. By then, there were other officers on the scene, all of them men, but the suspect directed his invective only at the woman officer.

He was prosecuted under a sexism law that was enacted in 2014 following a documentary called Woman of the Street. The film shined a spotlight on the sexual harassment women in Brussels are subject to on the streets day in and day out, and ignited a public outcry, which resulted in the sexism law being added to a larger measure outlawing discrimination. Some have worried that the law could threaten free speech, but officials were happy with the first application of the law in a criminal case.

According to The Guardian, Gilles Blondeau, the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said, “This is the first time we have used this law to prosecute someone. It is quite common for people arrested by the police to insult and threaten. But to personally blame a policewoman because of her sex is special. It was a good case to test this law: a concrete and very clear case, with many witnesses.”

Watch the trailer for Women of the Street below.

Read the full story at The New York Times and The Guardian.

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03.08.18

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