Dec 05
Her eye on the news
‘Inciting debauchery’

An Egyptian actress accused of “inciting debauchery” by wearing a revealing dress to a film festival will not face jail time after a group of the country’s muftis — Islamic legal scholars — reportedly conferred to watch video of the offending dress and concluded that they could forego legal action in exchange for a public apology.

“The artist Rania Youssef presented an apology to the Egyptian family and society for this incident and its affirmation that it was not intentional, that it was placed in circumstances beyond its control and that the behavior was wrong and unintentional,” read a statement from lawyers Wahid al-Kilani, Hamido Jameel al-Prince and Amr Abdel Salam.

Video of the 44-year-old actress wearing the offending garment — which was tame by Western standards — went viral last week. A widespread outcry from conservative critics ensued as did legal charges that could have landed her in prison for up to five years. Youssef had issued an apology on Twitter in response to the outcry over her wardrobe.

“I wanted to state that I did not mean to appear in a manner that would anger a lot of those who found the dress to be inappropriate,” she wrote. “I might have miscalculated because I wore that dress for the first time and I never expected that it would cause so much anger … I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society.” But that apparently wasn’t enough to quell the uproar.

Youssef also made an appearance on Egyptian talk show El Hakaya, where presenter Amr Adeeb reportedly demanded that she “look at the camera & apologize to the Egyptian people” for her immodesty. After she did so, Adeeb allegedly followed up by saying that the actress should pledge to never again wear “a dress without a petticoat.”

Read the full story at Egyptian Streets.


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Red card

Afghanistan’s government is leading an investigation of the country’s soccer federation after a former player accused the head of the Afghan soccer federation and other male officials of sexually harassing and raping players on the women’s national team. In a phone interview on Tuesday, Khalida Popal, a founding member of the women’s team and a longtime national team manager, alleged that Keramuddin Keram, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation, would trap players in a bedroom in his office that could only be opened from the inside by a digital scan of his fingerprint.

“The president of A.F.F. and some trainers are raping and sexually harassing female players,” she said.

Popal, who fled Afghanistan and found asylum in Denmark in 2012, had continued to organize international training camps for the women team despite her exile. At a February camp held in Jordan this year, she said, the Afghan federation broke with traditional protocol by sending a male trainer and a male official to chaperone the team’s trip. Both men, she said, sexually harassed the players. One of the men, she added, also tried to force himself on players inside the women-only dormitory after getting drunk. When the players objected, Popal told The Guardian, Keram himself beat them with a snooker cue and banned eight women from the team — including Popal herself — after accusing them of being lesbians. The male officials, she said, were not punished for their actions but instead “promoted to other federation jobs.”

Both FIFA and the Afghan government are now investigating her claims, which the Afghan soccer federation has denied. In a recent statement, the federation claimed that it has retained “the vocal support of its current female players, who have all published statements on the A.F.F. Facebook page.” There was only one statement of support on the Facebook page, from former team captain Farkhunda Muhtaj, and the post contained no mention of the abuse charges. The team captain before Muhtaj, Shabnma Mobarez, quit the position last month after accusing the federation of attempting to prohibit her from criticizing the organization as part of her contract.

In a similar case in 2016, the head coach of the Afghanistan women’s national team, Haji Abdul Sediq Seddiqi, was accused of repeatedly marrying and divorcing his cyclists under duress. Seddiqi was fired in wake of the claims, but never faced legal action for his alleged crimes.

For more on the story and to hear Popal discuss the accusations, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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‘No answers’

As a caravan of Latin American migrants seeking asylum and entry at the U.S. border continues to be met with indefinite delays, tear gas, and accusations from President Donald Trump claiming that they are mostly criminals or gang members, a new report has revealed the shocking magnitude of the risk faced by those who attempt to make the journey into the U.S. through Mexico. Over the past four years alone, The Associated Press has discovered, nearly 4,000 migrants have died or gone missing en route through Mexico — many at the hands of the same gangs that U.S. politicians like to claim the migrants are members of. Many more deaths, the AP reported, likely remain unidentified or unreported. And for Honduran mother Haydee Posadas, whose son disappeared en route to the U.S., it took more than seven years before she even knew for sure whether her son was dead or alive.

Posadas, a 73-year-old grandmother from Planeta in San Pedro Sula who is known as “Mama Hydee” to her local neighborhood, said her son Wilmer Gerardo Nunez first left for the U.S. in the 1990s at the tender age of 16 in an attempt to support the family after she lost her job at a factory. Nunez was deported twice from the U.S. but returned each time and eventually fell in love with a Mexican woman, Maria Esther Lozano, with whom he had a child, Dachell. But in 2010, with Lozano pregnant, Nunez was deported a third time. He returned home to Honduras to find that violence in the neighborhood, long overrun by dangerous gangs and seemingly governed by authorities with little regard for human life, had escalated to a shocking degree. At one point, Posadas said, one of her daughters was handcuffed to her house while men claiming to be police went inside and executed her grandson — apparently because they suspected him of involvement in a gang.

Nunez, Posadas said, was hoping to return to California and meet his new daughter when he set out for his fourth and final trip north. Facing threats from the local gangs — and with his ankle injured from fleeing the Zetas gang on a prior trip — Nunez took a shorter but more dangerous route to the U.S. border. Two weeks after he left, authorities discovered 72 corpses of migrants on a ranch in San Fernando, Mexico, near the Texas border. The Zetas, it was later revealed, had massacred the migrants after intercepting them and demanding that they join the cartel. Only one person in the entire group agreed to join the gang, according to an Ecuadorian who said he was one of just two migrants — the other being an unknown Honduran man — to escape the massacre.

Authorities released names of the victims — among them Posadas’ grandson and two neighbors who had been traveling with them — but Nunez was not among them. For years, Posadas engaged in a desperate attempt to find out whether her son was alive — was he the mysterious Honduran man that the Ecuadorian, now in hiding, had spoken of? Officials refused to confirm, deny, or even look into the matter. It wasn’t until 8 years later, when an Argentine investigative team exhumed the bodies at the ranch and arranged DNA tests, that Posadas finally had confirmation. Nunez, it turned out, had been one of the 72 who were killed. Almost as painful as the death of her son, she said, was “having to wait with no answers … like so many mothers who still have no answers about their sons.”

“My heart hurt so much … most of all because of the death he suffered, not even knowing who killed him, with his eyes blindfolded, hands tied,” Posadas told The Associated Press. “Why? Why, having the proof, did they hide it so long?”

Mexican officials have yet to publicly comment on what caused their failure to properly identify the bodies in the massacre. No one was ever convicted for the murder of the 72 migrants, and nine of the bodies remain unidentified.

Watch video of The Associated Press’ interview with Posadas below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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Soccer’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, had only been awarded to men for more than 60 years until Monday night, when 23-year-old Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg won the first ever Ballon d’Or for being the best female player in soccer. Unfortunately, the landmark moment was ruined almost instantly by the host of the evening, French DJ Martin Solveig, as he interviewed the young star following her remarkable achievement.

“Do you know how to twerk?” he asked.

“No,” said Hegerberg bluntly, before swiftly turning her back on the DJ. As the camera cut to the crowd, audience members — including male player Kylian Mbappe, the winner of the inaugural Kopa award for best young player — could be seen with their mouths agape in disbelief.

On social media, criticism was swift and furious as many accused the DJ of tarnishing the Ballon d’Or with misogyny by brazenly sexualizing Hegerberg on a night that was supposed to be about honoring her outstanding professional achievements.

“Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport,” wrote tennis star Andy Murray in an Instagram story. “Why do women have still have to put up with that shit? What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric (this year’s winner of the men’s Ballon d’Or)? I’d imagine something to do with football. And to everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke … it wasn’t I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”

“This is the crap female athletes deal with on a daily basis around the world,” added Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports contributor Grant Wahl in a tweet.

Asked about Solveig’s line of questioning after the fact, Hegerberg said that the DJ had later come up to her to apologize and that she hadn’t taken his comment “as sexual harassment or anything.”

“I was just happy to get a dance and celebrate winning the Ballon d’Or, to be honest,” she said.

Solveig has since posted a video of himself apologizing for the incident on Twitter, suggesting that the criticism leveled at him comes “from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level” — a slightly bizarre justification, especially since he actually asked the offending question in French.

“I’m a little bit amazed by what I’m reading on the internet. I, of course, did not want to offend anyone. This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level … I didn’t know this could be seen as such an offense especially if you consider the sequence in total where we ended up dancing to Frank Sinatra. This was a joke, probably a bad one, and I want to apologize for anyone I might have offended. Sorry about that.”

See Solveig’s apology below.

Read the full story at CNN.


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Young at heart

A Dutch “positivity guru” will have to remain young at heart — if not on paper, a court has ruled. The man, who sought to change his legal age because he identifies as someone 20 years younger, has seen his bid rejected after a court ruled that such a change would lead to “a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.” Emile Ratelband, 69, had argued that his official age was causing him to be discriminated against in the job market and on dating apps such as Tinder. Since people can change their legal gender or name, he told the court, changing one’s age so that it matched with how one identifies mentally should be permissible as well.

“When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car,” claimed Ratelband, characterizing himself as a “young God” who physically resembled a man decades younger. “I can take up more work. When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”

But in a press statement, Arnhem court explained that it had rejected his petition due to the complications that the ability to change one’s legal age would cause in other aspects of the legal system — particularly those that depend on one’s legal age, “such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school.”

“If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless,” the court wrote. “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”

In response to the judgement, the positivity guru said that he was just the first of “thousands of people who want to change his age,’ and was characteristically optimistic in announcing his intent to appeal the ruling.

“This is great!” he said. “The rejection of (the) court is great … because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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