Apr 19
Her eye on the news
'Till my last breath'

A Bangladeshi teenager was soaked in kerosene and burned to death less than two weeks after filing a sexual harassment claim against the headmaster of her school.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19, attended an Islamic school in a small, conservative town about 100 miles outside of Dhaka. On March 27, she said, the school headmaster called her into his office and touched her inappropriately. She filed a report with the local police, where an officer filmed her with his phone as she made her statement while visibly shaken and hiding her face in her hands.

That same day, the headmaster was arrested. But soon after that, a group that included male students from the school and local politicians gathered in the street to demand his release. Nusrat began to worry about her safety, but nonetheless went to school on April 6 to take her exams. That day, a female student tricked her into going up to the roof. When she got there, a group of four or five people wearing burqas set her on fire.

According to the police chief, Nusrat’s killers tried to make her death look like a suicide. “One of the killers was holding her head down with his hands, so kerosene wasn’t poured there and that’s why her head wasn’t burned,” he told the BBC. But she survived long enough to tell the story of what happened to her — in the ambulance, she recorded herself on her brother’s phone, identifying some of the attackers and saying, “The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath.”

She died on April 10. The case has gripped Bangladesh, and thousands attended Nusrat’s funeral. Thousands more have protested in the streets against the treatment of sexual assault survivors.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that police have arrested 15 people. And the case has attracted the attention of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who met Nusrat’s family in Dhaka and promised justice. “None of the culprits will be spared from legal action,” she said.

Read more at BBC.


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Favored sons

Men in their early thirties are much more likely than women to receive financial support from their parents, according to a new report from investment firm Merrill Lynch.

The study found that just under half of women in their early thirties are financially supported by their parents, while 62 percent of men in the same age group got support. Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of student loan debt is owned by women, women also reported receiving dramatically less support in paying off their loans than men did.

According to the report, men between 18 and 34 years old were roughly twice as likely to receive financial support compared to women of the same age group. This held across categories that included grocery shopping, vacations, rent payments and student loans. Interestingly, young women were also significantly more likely than men to list paying down their debt or saving for the future as their highest financial priority. Similarly, 40 percent of men reported that their highest priority was enjoying life, compared to just 28 percent of women.

But while young people are often criticized for depending on their parents for financial support, 79 percent of young adults who have been forced to move back in with their parents said that they were actually enjoying the experience — as did 87 percent of parents. And nearly all young adults said they were prepared to return the favor for their parents as they aged. According to Merrill Lynch, 89 percent of young adults said they planned to help support their parents financially once they got further into their earning years.

Read the full story at Quartz.


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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that the outpouring of support her city has received in wake of the fire at Notre Dame cathedral shows that the famous church is not just a religious symbol, but “a monument and a place that belongs to everyone who loves Paris.”

Speaking with journalists from the Leading European Newspaper Alliance, Hidalgo recalled meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit, Notre Dame’s rector Patrick Chauvet, and Jean-Claude Gallet, the general of the firefighters, as the fire raged nearby. The famous church’s spire had already fallen, and Gallet was explaining that 10 firefighters would have to climb into the cathedral’s iconic towers if they wanted to save those from destruction as well.

“The general said that action was needed to save the towers,” said Hidalgo, and that the 10 firefighters to be deployed would be taking an enormous risk. “It was a moment … Nobody speaks, we all trust him,” she said. “We will all remember that moment: his face and our own faces, together in a moment of reverence.”

In the end, they made the decision to risk the firefighters’ lives to save what remained of the church. Fortunately, they were successful and no lives were lost.

Within hours of the fire, wealthy individuals from across Europe helped raise more than $1 billion to restore the 1,000-year-old monument to its former glory. As a result, Hidalgo says, it should be possible to fix the church within five years. Asked what she thought about the disparity between the money pledged to fix Notre Dame and the relative lack of interest from the world’s richest families in contributing to the poor, Hidalgo insisted that charity was not a zero-sum game.

“They know I am in favor of redistribution policies and that I am a social-democrat who believes we live in a country and in a Europe where there is not enough social justice,” said Hidalgo. “But I also think it is important that the people with the most means, the large fortunes of France and the world, are deciding to contribute.”

Read the full story at El Pais.


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‘Driving us apart’

Investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr took leaders of social media companies to task this week at the 2019 TED conference in Vancouver, describing their platforms as “a crime scene” weaponized by the propaganda of authoritarians and far-right movements. And Cadwalladr should know: It was she who unearthed how Cambridge Analytica stole data from 87 million Facebook users and used it for targeted ads to promote Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Just a day before she was set to publish her expose on Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook user’s personal data, she recalled, she and her publisher were threatened with a lawsuit from the social network.

“Facebook, you were on the wrong side of history in that,” Cadwalladr told the crowd.

“It’s not enough to say you’ll do better in the future,” she continued. “To have any hope of stopping this from happening again, we have to know the truth … what the Brexit vote demonstrates is that liberal democracy is broken, and you broke it.”

Cadwalladr then called on Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to share what plans, if any, they have to prevent a repeat of the misinformation campaigns that helped swing crucial votes in the U.S. and U.K.

“It is not about left or right, or Leave or Remain, or Trump or not. It’s about whether it’s actually possible to have a free and fair election ever again. As it stands, I don’t think it is,” she explained. “And so my question to you is: Is this what you want? Is this how you want history to remember you? As the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise all across the world? You set out to connect people and you are refusing to acknowledge that the same technology is now driving us apart.”

Cadwalladr spoke on her groundbreaking journalism during her recent appearance at the 2019 Women in the World Summit in New York. Watch video below.

Read the full story at Fast Company.


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Not her fault

A middle school math teacher from Long Island, New York, who was fired after a topless photo she sent to her boyfriend, a male colleague, was spread around the school, is fighting back with a lawsuit accusing the school district and its administrators of gender discrimination.

Teacher Lauren Miranda says that her firing was not only unfair, but sent a negative message to girls that they should be ashamed — and even face social and professional retaliation — if a partner violates their trust by sharing nude photos of them with others.

“I was so proud of myself and so proud of everything that I’ve accomplished being 25 years old and about to be granted tenure,” said Miranda. “All of these milestones were ripped away from me because of a picture of my upper body.”

A letter recommending Miranda’s termination claimed she had “caused, allowed or otherwise made it possible” for the topless photo of her to circulate and blamed her for “failing to take adequate precautionary measures” to prevent the picture from being shared. According to her lawyer, John Ray, school officials also told her that the photo made it impossible for her to be a “role model” to her students.

But Miranda says that the only person she sent the photo to, a male teacher who she had been dating, faced no discipline from the school. And if it had a been a topless photo of a male teacher, she noted, it’s highly unlikely that he would have been fired. The idea that having taken a topless photo prevented her from being a role model, she added, was absurd.

“It’s always the boys hurting the girls and the girls taking the brunt of it,” she said. “Having this picture gain so much traction really shows the disparity between how women are viewed and how men are viewed, and how men can openly sexualize women and how it’s a real problem.”

See clips from her interview with ABC News below.

Read the full story at the Guardian.


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