Jan 11
Her eye on the news
'Cold-blooded murder'

The death of an teenager whose body was found dismembered and mutilated on Sunday has been ruled an honor killing by Indian police. Pictures of the 16-year-old victim’s mutilated body, which media reports claimed was also doused in acid, had spread widely on social media and prompted protests and vigils in her home city of Gaya.

After the teenager was first reported missing by the victim’s family on December 28, the family went on to claim that she had been raped and murdered and accused police of failing to conduct a proper search for her. But on Thursday, police said that evidence indicated that it was the girls’ parents who were actually responsible for the brutal killing.

“It’s a case of honor killing,” said Gaya police chief Rajiv Kumar Mishra, noting that the post-mortem had found no evidence of rape. “The girl eloped with someone on December 28 from her home in Patwa Panchayat but returned after three days. This angered the parents, who plotted the cold-blooded murder with the help of a butcher friend.”

According to Mishra, the victim’s sister told authorities that she had last seen her sister with the butcher on December 31.

“After the recovery of the body, we called the parents to the police station several times to record their statements, but they made lame excuses and didn’t show up,” Mishra continued. “Their dubious attempt to escape interrogation further confirmed our suspicions. In the meantime we picked up the butcher who narrated the entire incident.”

In 2016, there were 69 honor killings in India according to country’s National Crime Records Bureau, but activists say that the true number of such killings is likely significantly higher.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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'Roger's spy'

Former Fox News booker Laurie Luhn has launched a lawsuit over a planned TV series about Roger Ailes that she claims portrays her as ‘pimping’ women, including Fox employees, to the former Fox News chief, so that he could sexually abuse them. According to the suit, which was filed against Showtime, Blumhouse Productions, and reporter Gabriel Sherman, whose book The Loudest Voice in the Room serves as the basis for an upcoming series on the late Ailes‘ abrupt fall from power at Fox News, Luhn was a victim of Ailes, not an ally.

The lawsuit alleges that Ailes had forced her into a sexual relationship and demanded that she follow his orders, using compromising photos and videos of her as collateral to ensure her obedience. Luhn said she “was forced to purchase black garters and stockings to wear for Ailes, which he called her ‘uniform,’” and that after receiving a promotion in 2004 was ordered by Ailes to “put on her ‘uniform’ and thank him for the promotion” in a hotel room, where he forced her to “perform oral sex.” Over the course of 20 years, Ailes repeatedly told her, “I own you,” and “utilized Fox News’ management and media relations department to monitor, harass, threaten and gaslight” Luhn, the lawsuit claims. Co-workers and others in the news business, she added, would openly refer to her as “Roger’s spy.”

In an article written by Sherman for New York Magazine in late July based on 11 hours of interviews with Luhn, the reporter wrote that “Luhn denied ever setting Ailes up with her staff for explicitly sexual purposes, but she did send them in for private meetings with him where she knew they could be exposed to sexual harassment.”

But Sherman, the lawsuit alleges, “coerced and induced” Luhn into the interview and “capitalized on her very vulnerable state of mind, PTSD and exploited an already terrified, confused and emotionally shattered woman.” His report, the lawsuit says, was filled with “false, misleading and defamatory statements and innuendos.” The lawsuit further claims that the upcoming Showtime series — starring Russell Crowe as Ailes, Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson, one of the first women to publicly accuse Ailes of harassment, and Annabell Wallis as Luhn — used Sherman’s reporting to falsely portray Luhn as a co-conspirator in Ailes’ abuse of women at the network. The suit seeks $750 million in damages and a permanent injunction that would bar the defendants from profiting from her story.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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'She's with us'

The “Notorious R.B.G.,” also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is expected to return to the bench by February as she recoups from surgery following a recent bout with lung cancer. Ginsburg, who had half of her left lung removed on Dec. 21 in order to fight back against cancerous growths, missed her first oral arguments in more than 25 years on the bench this past week. According to top doctors familiar with the procedure, the 85-year-old justice appears to be recovering normally and should be able to make an official return to her duties in less than six weeks.

“She’s not even three weeks out. She’s barely two weeks out,” said Raja Flores, the chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “I think a lot of people are getting scared because they are concerned about the balance of the court, but I’m confident she’s not going anywhere. She’s going to be back on the court.”

Following the recent appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench, Republican judges now hold a 5-4 majority in the nation’s highest court. Should Ginsburg retire, Democrats fear that President Donald Trump would then be able to choose the third Supreme Court justice of his term, cementing a conservative majority for the foreseeable future.

But according to doctors, the fact that Ginsburg was recommended a lobectomy indicates that her health was good enough to handle a surgery. That the justice had left the hospital after just four days recovering at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York further implied that her recovery was going smoothly.

“This just seems completely normal,” said Flores. “She’s not going anywhere. She’s with us.”

On February 19, the court is slated to hear oral arguments regarding the Trump Administration’s attempt to add questions about citizenship status into the 2020 census.

A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed on Friday that no further treatment is required. “Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required,” said Kathleen Arberg.

Read the full story at CNBC.


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‘Absolutely unacceptable’

Senator Bernie Sanders issued an apology on Thursday to female staff members who allegedly suffered harassment from male senior aides on his campaign. In a New York Times report from last week, nearly a dozen women working on Sanders’ campaign alleged that they suffered harassment and that their complaints were not handled properly.

Sanders’ initially issued an apology on CNN last week, saying that he was sorry “to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately” but faced criticism after adding the caveat that he had been “a little bit busy running around the country, trying to make the case” for his presidency and hadn’t known of the allegations. On Wednesday, it was reported by Politico that Sanders’ deputy national field director had forcibly kissed a younger female subordinate, but that she hadn’t reported the incident because it occurred on the same day that Sanders’ campaign ended following his loss in the 2016 Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton.

“To the women on my 2016 campaign who were harassed or mistreated, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for speaking out. I apologize,” tweeted Sanders on Thursday. “We can’t just talk about ending sexism and discrimination. It must be a reality in our daily lives. That was clearly not the case in 2016.”

Attached to the tweet was a larger statement, reiterating that the treatment suffered by those who spoke out was “absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about.”

“When we talk about ending sexism and all forms of discrimination those beliefs cannot just be words,” the statement continued. “During my recent 2018 senate re-election campaign we established some of the strongest sexual harassment policies in the country. They included training on the issue for all employees and an opportunity for any woman who believed she was harassed to call an independent human resources firm, seperate from the campaign, to voice her concerns. Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior. I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process.”

Read the full story at BBC News.


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Power and privilege

A new report from The American Psychological Association cites 40 years of research in concluding that “traditional masculinity ideology” has a severely damaging effect on men’s mental health — a finding that likely comes as no surprise to women’s rights activists who have long warned about the dangers of “toxic masculinity.”

According to the APA’s new “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,” young boys exposed to “traditional masculinity ideology” exhibited limited psychological development, constrained behavior, confusion and stress about gender roles, and overall negative influences to both their “mental health and physical health.” In seeking to conform to “masculinity ideology,” the report said, young boys sought to avoid “the appearance of weakness” or femininity by suppressing their emotions, eschewing assistance from others, and engaging in risky and aggressive behaviors. Among the negative behaviors correlated with “masculinity ideology,” the report continued, were sexual harassment, bullying, increased propensity for violence against both others and themselves, and homophobia.

As evidence, the report noted that despite men being 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women, men were nonetheless significantly less likely to be diagnosed with internalizing disorders — a mental disorder associated with depression, anxiety, and loneliness that is characterized by an inability to communicate one’s problems with others. “Traditional stereotypes about men’s emotionality,” the report found, was likely interfering with such diagnoses. In the U.S., the report observed, men also commit 90 percent of homicides and account for 77 percent of homicide victims.

In order to help men raised in such a way, the report called on psychologists to encourage male patients to examine their own biases so that they could better perceive how “power, privilege and sexism work, both by conferring benefits to men and by trapping them in their narrow roles.”

Read the full story at The NY Daily News and The Daily Beast.


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Deadly tradition

A mother and her two young children have reportedly died of suffocation in a menstruation hut in western Nepal, a tragic story that unfortunately continues to repeat itself year after year during the country’s frigid winters. In accordance with the Hindu tradition of menstrual seclusion, known locally as chhaupadi, Amba Bohara had barricaded herself in the hut alongside her two children, aged 9 and 7, so that she wouldn’t spiritually contaminate her family’s house. After building a fire to avoid freezing to death during the night, the smoke within the enclosed space proved fatal, according to police. Their bodies were found by her mother-in-law the next morning, Bohara’s legs charred from the fire and foam bubbling out of the mouths of the children.

“This has broken my heart,” said Mr. Bohara, a manual laborer who was abroad working in India when he heard the news of his family’s death.

Annual deaths of women in menstruation huts as a result of suffocation, animal bites, or cold had prompted the Nepali government to finally pass a law forbidding the practice of chhaupadi last year. But no-one has yet to be prosecuted under the law, and women’s rights activists say that the tradition continues unabated — especially in western Nepal, one of the poorest regions in all of Asia. A 2010 Nepali government survey found that 50 percent of women aged 15 to 49 in midwestern and far western Nepal followed chhaupadi.

Police have said they are still investigating to see whether they would file any charges in the deaths. According to former lawmaker Rewati Raman Bhandari, who helped draft the bill criminalizing the menstrual huts, police and local politicians have been too concerned about facing potential controversy with locals and religious authorities to crack down on the practice.

“Tradition,” he explained, “is stronger than the law.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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