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Apr 10
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‘Gwen went light’

Fosse/Verdon, a new FX miniseries on the life and work of famous Broadway director Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon, is being billed as a post #MeToo examination of the myth of “the auteur, usually male, who is doing everything himself.”

Originally intended as an adaptation of Sam Wasson’s 2013 biography Fosse, the film’s concept was revised after producers decided that the story would be incomplete if it ignored the vital ways Verdon, Fosse’s wife, contributed to his success.

“The series, as it goes on, is really about the unsung role that Gwen, Bob’s wife and collaborator, played in forming his work,” producer Steven Levenson told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s about how things actually get made.”

The series also examines the stark differences in how Fosse, an infamous womanizer, and Verdon capitalized on their individual and collaborative successes.

“We felt that in telling this story now, we have an added responsibility to really talk about abuse of power,” said Levenson. “Bob used his power for good and bad, and we want to be honest about the way that he interacted with young women especially, and the pressure that those women were under to go along to get along.”

Actress Michelle Williams, who will play the role of Verdon alongside Sam Rockwell as Fosse, said that a key aspect of their respective characters was the alleged emotional and sexual abuse they both endured as children.

“Sam and I would talk about them as twins,” she recalled. “They come from this very similar place, these abusive backgrounds, and it manifests inside of them in different ways. Bob went dark, and Gwen went light. Gwen wanted to rise above everything, she refused to feel pain, whereas Bob wanted to delve into it.”

Read the full story at the Hollywood Reporter.

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Factually fraudulent

Unplanned, an anti-abortion propaganda film released in a limited number of theaters last week, earned more than $6 million during its opening weekend after being promoted by evangelicals and top Republicans.

Based on the factually questionable memoir by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who claimed she became an anti-abortion activist after witnessing a 13th-week abortion that records show never took place, the film has been hotly criticized for its gory and medically impossible depiction of the procedure. In the scene, a 13-week-old fetus is depicted fighting to escape from doctors during a surgical abortion, despite the fact that scientists say it’s impossible for a fetus to feel pain or sense danger at that stage of development.

“There is no neurological capability for awareness of danger,” Jennifer Villavicencio, a fellow at the nonpartisan American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explained to the New York Times. “That part of the brain is simply not there yet.”

The film takes other liberties with reality, including by depicting Planned Parenthood as a “billion-dollar corporation” that encourages women to get abortions so they can profit off of them — despite the organization’s status as a nonprofit with only 3 percent of its budget allocated for abortion services. Still, the film has been embraced top conservatives such as Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr., and Senator Ted Cruz as anti-abortion activists continue their push to make the procedure illegal nationwide.

Read the full story at the Cut.

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‘Telling the story’

A mysterious young woman dressed in white has become the symbol of resistance against Sudan’s autocratic president Omar al-Bashir after she was seen leading a massive protest from the top of a car in Khartoum. As tens of thousands of people crowded the roads in front of the country’s military headquarters, the young revolutionary could be heard calling for an end to Bashir’s systematic oppression of women through Sharia law.

Speaking to CNN, photographer Lana Haroun said she was at the protest on Monday night when she took a picture of the woman that has since gone viral internationally.

“She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it. She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women … she was perfect,” Haroun recalled.

According to interfaith educator Hind Makki, the young revolutionary’s garb appeared to be carefully chosen as “a callback to the clothing worn by our mothers & grandmothers in the ’60s, ’70s, & ’80s who dressed like this while they marched the streets demonstrating against previous military dictatorships.”

Bashir, who took power in Sudan with the help of Islamists in 1989, has faced rising protests since the government tripled the price of bread in December. According to Jehanne Henry, a representative of Human Rights Watch in Sudan, women have historically been deeply involved in the country’s political uprisings and movements.

“For many women this regime is synonymous with all types of repression,” said Henry. “It is not surprising that they are seeing this as an opportunity to change things that matter to them.”

Watch video of the mystery woman leading the protest below.

Interested in stories about women fighting for gender equality in Africa? Hear more about this topic at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit from the panel “Toppling Taboos” on Thursday, October 11. Watch the livestream on our website, and see the full agenda here.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

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'Let her come home'

A British woman who flew to Dubai for her ex-husband’s funeral has been arrested there over Facebook comments she made three years ago about her former husband’s new wife.

Laleh Shahravesh was with her 14-year-old daughter Paris at the Dubai airport when authorities apprehended her and confiscated her passport for violating the country’s cyber-crime laws. Paris was forced to fly home to the U.K. alone, and is now working to put together an appeal for her mother’s case, according to activist group Detained in Dubai.

“I cannot emphasize enough how scared I felt, especially after losing my father just a week before, as I was having to worry about losing my mother as well,” said Paris in a letter written to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. “I ask kindly: please, please return my mother’s passport, and let her come home.”

Shahravesh, a British citizen, was married to her husband for 18 years and lived with him for eight months in the United Arab Emirates, according to Detained in Dubai. But after Shahravesh chose to return to the U.K. with her daughter, Paris, her husband stayed in the country and the pair divorced. In 2016, Shahravesh learned that her former husband had remarried after he shared pictures of himself and his new wife on Facebook. From the U.K., Shahravesh, wrote, “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.”

According to Detained in Dubai, the U.A.E.’s cyber-crime laws allow for people to be jailed or fined for defamation on social media — even if the comments were made from outside the country. After the new wife opted to press charges against Shahravesh upon her arrival the U.A.E. for her ex-husband’s funeral, the British resident is now facing up to two years in prison and a fine of $65,000.

Read the full story at BBC News.

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How convenient

India’s ruling party promised cheap sanitary pads, workplace child care centers, and quotas to get more women into parliament on Monday, seeking to woo female voters ahead of a general election.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) devoted an entire chapter to what it called women’s empowerment in its election manifesto, published days before voting starts on Thursday.

About 432 million of India’s voters are female and they are a major focus for parties competing for power in the world’s largest democracy.

Women’s safety is a particular focus, with the main opposition Congress Party promising to set up a separate agency to investigate crimes against women amid concerns that they have been neglected in the past.

But women’s rights advocates accused both parties of tokenism, saying they had taken little concrete action while in power.

“The need of the hour is to focus on women as many more women are [now] talking about these issues,” Geeta Menon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“But this is tokenism. What does it mean in the real sense,” said Menon, secretary of Stree Jagruti Samiti, a charity that promotes domestic workers’ rights.

The BJP said it would set up fast-track courts, promising “strict provisions” to ensure speedy prosecutions for rape and other offenses against women.

Six years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi sparked national outrage, safety remains a key concern among Indian women.

Government data show reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016, when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.

QUOTAS

Both major parties vowed to improve women’s participation in the workforce, with the BJP promising to increase the number of workplace daycare centers to free women up from child care.

Congress promised a series of measures including night shelters for female migrant workers, hostels, and safer transport services.

Both parties pledged to make it easier for women to access sanitary products — a key issue in a country where many cannot afford them. The BJP said it would expand an existing scheme offering pads for just one Indian rupee (1.5 U.S. cents), while Congress said it would install sanitary pad vending machines at public places, schools and colleges.

The two main parties committed to reserving a third of seats in the national parliament and state assemblies for women.

Women currently hold just 12 percent of seats in the lower and upper houses of parliament combined, compared to a global average of 23 percent, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global body.

A bill to introduce a quota was passed by the upper house in 2010, but has since stalled despite pledges by successive governments to enact the legislation. And only 668 of the 8,251 candidates in the last election were women.

“Both parties have had the chance to pass this bill. The BJP had [an] absolute majority [in the] past five years, so why do they have to promise it now,” said Kalpana Sharma, a journalist who writes on gender issues.

The BJP is widely expected to retain power after the election, though with a much smaller mandate, hit by concerns over a shortage of jobs and weak farm prices.

(Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Claire Cozens. Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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04.10.19

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