Aug 15
Her eye on the news
‘Surely sexist'

Street harassment is a problem that persists across the entire United States — indeed around the world — with about 65 percent of all American women claiming they have been the subject of unwanted remarks or catcalls while moving around in public. Wondering whether there would be any regional differences in the language catcallers across America use, NPR asked their listeners about their experiences and found that words men use to verbally harass women remain rather consistent across the country.

Using gestures and sounds, as well as “vague” words such as “damn” and “baby,” allows harassers to deny they meant any harm, according to Benjamin Bailey, an associate professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bailey’s research focuses on street remarks. “My most striking finding is mostly it’s ‘Hi,’ ‘Hi beautiful,’ ‘Hi, sweetie,’” that are the preferred phrases of catcallers, he told NPR. “Very boring, surely sexist, but the vast majority of [street harassment] are these subtle things that are appropriate in other contexts and give an out to that person.” Bailey added that most of these men just want attention, and are subtly “reproducing the patriarchy” with these catcalls disguised as greetings. “It’s hard to fight back against. The threats of violence and extremely offensive ones exist, but 95 percent are these other things,” Bailey added. Of course if you’re walking down the streets of New York City, the language can get a tad more colorful than what’s described above, as this viral video from 2014, which now has more than 10 million views shows.

Read the full story at NPR.


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Fighting back tears, Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, gave a brief interview to The Guardian and reflected on her daughter’s life and tragic death. Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died on Saturday when a suspected Nazi sympathizer rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

“I love her and I miss her so, so much,” Bro said, after reminiscing about how she and her daughter used to watch the annual meteor shower that’s visible at this time of year. Bro went on to say that she doesn’t want Heyer’s death to be in vain. “I know people die everyday,” she said. “I’m not special that way. But if my child’s death was for a cause, I’m going to speak for that cause and I’m going to make that cause important.” She added, “I would grieve in private, but she stood for something, and, by golly, I’m going to advocate that … let’s make that a strong movement as my child was a strong child.”

Watch the full video below.



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Dr. Ruth Pfau, a formidable German nun who helped combat leprosy in Pakistan, died in Karachi on August 10. She was 87 years old, according to The Washington Post.

Born in Leipzig in 1929, Pfau came of age in Nazi Germany. When East Germany was occupied by the Soviets, she fled to the western part of the country, where she studied medicine at universities in Mainz and Marburg. In 2014, Pfau told The Express Tribune she was on the verge of accepting a proposal from a male suitor when she “received a calling from God.”

“When you receive such a calling, you cannot turn it down, for it is not you who has made the choice — God has chosen you for Himself,” she said.

Pfau joined the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a Catholic order. In 1960, she prepared to set off on a mission to India, but was diverted to Pakistan due to visa troubles. There, she visited a fetid leprosy colony that had been built on an abandoned graveyard in Karachi. During a 2010 interview with the BBC, Pfau said that she did not know what leprosy was at the time, but the scenes she observed in the colony convinced her that she had to stay and help. One patient struck a particularly strong chord.

“He must have been my age, I was at this time not yet 30, and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal, as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog,” Pfau said.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a bacterial infection that can cause damage to the nerves, skin, eyes and nose. It is curable, with early diagnosis, but leprosy is nevertheless one of history’s most stigmatized diseases. Sufferers of the condition are often shunned and sent to live in leper colonies.

When Pfau arrived at the colony in Karachi, she decided to turn its small dispensary into a fully functioning hospital. She was instrumental in founding the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC), which offered housing and treatment to leprosy patients. Pfau and her colleagues have been credited with virtually eradicating the disease in Pakistan.

In recent years, MALC has shifted its focus to treating and preventing tuberculosis and blindness. And when Pakistan was inundated by floods in 2010, Pfau was on the frontlines of the relief effort. She set up a camp for people whose homes had been destroyed, and was one of few people to offer help to Pakistan’s Hindu minority.

“The most important thing,” she told the BBC at the time, “is that we give them their dignity back.”


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In 2011, an Afghani woman named Mumtaz was doused with acid by a spurned suitor and his three brothers. The perpetrators of the attack were arrested and later jailed, a rare victory against perpetrators of gender-based violence in Afghanistan. Discussing the attack in an interview with Agence France-Presse two years ago, Mumtaz, who goes by one name, recalled the brutal ordeal. “He grabbed me by my hair and hurled the acid at my face with such vengeance, as if to say ‘now let’s see who will marry you’,” she said. At the time, she was living in a safe house in the northern province of Kunduz.

Now, six years after the attack, Mumtaz finds herself once again fearing for her life.

As The New York Times reports, Mumtaz, 23, lives in a territory that has been overrun by Taliban insurgents. Men who followed her attacker, the leader of a pro-government militia, have now joined forces with the jihadists and embarked on a mission to torment Mumtaz and her family.

When Mumtaz’s father, Sultan Mohammed, refused to withdraw the charges against his daughter’s attacker, he was badly beaten. And her husband, Mohammad Khan, was killed by relatives of her attackers, who beat him to death with the butts of their rifles.

Mumtaz is now alone with two daughters: an 18-month-old named Asma and a baby so new that she has not yet been named. With Khan gone, the family has no income. Shamila Sahibzada, a provincial director of Women for Afghan Women, told the Times that the organization would like to help Mumtaz, but that it cannot access her in dangerous Taliban territory.

“I have no hope,” Mumtaz said in an interview with the Times. “I have nothing.” She also explained to the Times why she’s come to regret having pressed charges against her attackers in the first place.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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Bernard Kenny, a former miner who was stabbed when he tried to save slain British MP Jo Cox, has died at the age of 79.

In 2016, Kenny was waiting by a local library when he saw a man named Thomas Mair attack Cox. During Mair’s trial, Kenny said that he tried to jump on the man’s back, but was stabbed in the stomach. He was unable to rescue Cox, who died after being stabbed 15 times and shot three times.

Kenny’s death is not believed to be related to the injuries he sustained during the attack.

When news emerged of Kenny’s bravery, a petition called for him to be awarded the George Cross medal for bravery, one of the highest honors in the United Kingdom. The petition received 80,000 signatures, and Kenny did indeed receive the medal.

This may not have been Kenny’s first act of stunning bravery. He reportedly participated in a rescue mission after the 1973 Lofthouse Colliery disaster, which saw a mine flooded with three million gallons of water.

MP Tracey Brabin said Kenny “will forever be remembered as a true hero, both as a member of the Miners’ Rescue Team and as a constituent of Batley and Spen who risked his life to protect Jo Cox.”

Read the full story at the BBC.


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Legal victory

A jury in Denver on Monday unanimously found former radio DJ David Mueller guilty of sexually assaulting Taylor Swift during a backstage photo op in 2013. As The Cut reports, the singer will be awarded the damages she sought — a total of $1.

Mueller’s lawsuit against Swift, which sought millions in compensation for his damaged reputation and the loss of his job, was dismissed by a judge last week.  The DJ was fired in 2015 after Swift told his employer that he had reached under her skirt and grabbed her bottom. Swift in turn filed a countersuit alleging assault and battery.

Although she remained steely during cross-examination, she reportedly broke down during the trial’s closing arguments. According to Variety, the singer began to cry when Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, accused her of lying about the incident.

“I don’t know what kind of man grabs or gropes a music superstar … But it’s not that guy,” McFarland, said. “Nobody saw what Ms. Swift said happened … because it didn’t happen.”

After the verdict was announced, Swift released a statement thanking her legal team for “fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault.”

“I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this,” Swift added. “My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

On Tuesday morning, Mueller spoke and maintained his innocence. In an interview with Good Morning America, the ex-DJ even tried to explain that very incriminating photo in which he appears to have been caught in the act of groping Swift. Seemingly unable to keep a straight face, Mueller claims he “wasn’t invited to be in the photo” at first, and the image shows him having moved into the shot “the best I could.” He declared he could “pass a polygraph” test proving he’s not lying. Watch the full interview below.

Read the full story at The Cut.


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