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Japan’s health and labor minister has spoken out in defense of employers who require women to wear high heels to work, saying he sees it as “necessary and appropriate.”

Takumi Nemoto made the comments in reference to a recent petition from women who want the government to ban workplaces from forcing high heels on their female employees. “It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate,” Nemoto told a legislative committee on Wednesday, according to The Guardian.

The women’s petition is part of the “KuToo” campaign — a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain — launched by actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa.

In a tweet earlier this year, Ishikawa had complained about being required to wear high heels for a hotel job, and the tweet went viral, prompting the campaign, according to The Guardian.

Ishikawa told reporters after a recent meeting with ministry officials, “Today we submitted a petition calling for the introduction of laws banning employers from forcing women to wear heels as sexual discrimination or harassment.” She added that a female government official had said she was “sympathetic to our petition.”

A similar petition against mandating high heels at work was signed by more than 150,000 people in the UK, according to The Guardian, when receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home by accounting firm PwC on her first day of work in May 2016 for wearing flats.

In 2015, the director of the Cannes film festival apologized in the wake of a controversy over women being denied access to the red carpet for not wearing high heels, according to The Guardian. The festival kept the dress code, despite a protest from Julia Roberts, who went barefoot the next year.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Related

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Disturbing

Child marriage is decreasing in many parts of the world, with global rates dropping substantially over the past decade, according to The New York Times, largely because of progress in South Asia. Yet in Nepal, one of the region’s poorest countries, activists say these marriages are on the rise in some villages.

Nepal’s government is moving forward with a campaign to combat the practice, but serious challenges loom, activists say. In rural areas, for instance, some local elected officials who publicly oppose the practice still marry off their children as teenagers. In addition, literacy rates are low, while mobile phones and social media have made it easier to find partners, the Times reports.

Further, some villagers see the practice as economically necessary, according to the Times. Every year, for example, hundreds of thousands of men leave Nepal for construction jobs in the Persian Gulf to earn money for their families. Poorer families see logic in marrying their daughters to boys before they head abroad.

With villages devoid of men, “families need girls to take care of the elderly and handle household activities,” said Tarak Dhital, an activist in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.

Girls are often taken out of school once they start to menstruate, a sign to some families that they are ready for marriage.

“It is so hard to change people’s thinking,” said Ram Bahadur Chand, an official with Nepal’s child welfare board. “They do not see that child marriage destroys their futures. It is a kind of violence.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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‘Times have changed’

Former Vice President Joe Biden has said he no longer supports a measure that bans federal funding for most abortions, reversing course on an important issue for Democratic voters, after facing criticism for supporting the measure.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta on Thursday, Biden said the change was due in part to recent Republican efforts to restrict abortion access in states across the country, especially in the South, calling them “extreme laws,” according to The New York Times.

Recently his campaign had said he supports the measure, known as the Hyde Amendment. His decision to change course shows the pressure he faces as the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, the Times reports.

“I’ve been working through the finer details of my health care plan, like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said, suggesting that the amendment hinders his goals of “universal coverage” and providing the “full range of health services women need.”

He added, “Folks, times have changed. I don’t think these guys are going to let up.”

The Hyde Amendment, named for former Republican Representative Henry Hyde from Illinois, was first passed in 1976 and is renewed annually with occasional changes to the list of exceptions, the Times reports. The measure bans federal funding of abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. It also affects Medicaid funding of abortion, and critics argue that it puts a burden on poor women and minorities.

Biden has said he supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, but he has opposed members of his party on various abortion measures, ascribing his views to his Roman Catholic faith, according to the Times.

Speaking about the Hyde Amendment on Thursday, he said, “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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War of words

The editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, has clarified and apologized for remarks that drew heavy criticism when he appeared to suggest that only white men can write 10,000-word cover stories.

He made the controversial remarks in a Nieman Lab article on how the magazine has placed more women in editorial positions, The Guardian reports. Goldberg stumbled in the interview when he seemed to insinuate that assigning cover stories to women and minorities is problematic.

“We continue to have a problem with the print magazine cover stories — with the gender and race issues when it comes to cover story writing. It’s really, really hard to write a 10,000-word cover story. There are not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males,” he said.

His remarks sparked fire on social media.

“If Jeffrey Goldberg thinks there’s a lack of women who can write 10k word features, then he’s astonishingly ignorant about his peers & he should step aside for a woman to replace him,” wrote one editor, Lisa Goldman, on Twitter.

Goldberg later clarified his remarks on Twitter, saying, “I was trying to explain (and obviously failed to explain) that white males dominate cover-story writing because they’ve had all the opportunities.”

Of the 15 print issues The Atlantic has published since January 2018, 11 had cover stories written by men, according to Nieman Lab.

Goldberg later followed up again with an apology: “I’m sorry I didn’t make myself clear in this interview, and I’m sorry that I hurt anyone.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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Equal play

The Barcelona soccer club entered girls’ teams in local boys’ leagues for the first time this season, and the girls dominated, The New York Times reports, with star striker Celia Segura scoring 121 goals — more than twice as many as her closest challenger.

“When these girls play in boys’ leagues, they are pushed harder in their games,” Maria Teixidor, a Barcelona board member, told the Times. “It really makes them perform better.”

Barcelona is the third Spanish team to enter girls in boys’ leagues, following in the footsteps of Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.

So do the boys resent the success of the girls? No, said Teixidor. In fact, it’s the opposite. “There has been another effect. For the boys, it helps to normalize girls playing soccer at the same level as them,” she said. She added, “For the girls, it empowers them that there is no reason that they cannot play at the same level.”

Barcelona’s young female players have not always received that same kind of support, with one girl telling the Times that she was not allowed to play with boys while at school. A teacher told her that soccer was not a suitable pastime for a girl.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Alex Morgan leads U.S. women’s soccer into the World Cup — and in the battle for equal pay

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Girls’ amateur soccer club in Spain wins boys junior regional league

06.10.19

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