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There’s nothing pro-life about exploiting a pandemic to further a political agenda | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 03:00

It’s already apparent a small minority of zealots will do everything they can to use the coronavirus crisis to eradicate the right to an abortion

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Free childcare is too good to be true. But could this start a revolution? | Eva Cox

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 15:51

The Morrison government’s announcement of free childcare is good PR but fails to address fundamental problems in the current model

Free childcare was one of the goals of second wave feminism, when we took up the cause of gender equity in the 70s. It seemed logical, because children need access to other children and expert care to develop the skills that parents can’t provide, and allowed particularly mothers, as the primary carer, time for paid work and other activities. After all, child rearing was not intended to be the sole responsibility of parents but a community: “it takes a village to rear a child”. But community child rearing was harder after urbanisation, and the contraceptive pill offered control over fertility, so women more time for other roles.

As an active early advocate for funding childcare, my hearing the prime minster on the radio announcing free childcare in the midst of the very scary Covid-19 pandemic was startling. It was obviously too good to be true, and my examination of the newly devised policy proved it.

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Why I'm celebrating the women in lockdown who get all dressed up with nowhere to go

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 20:00

Rihanna shows how it’s done with her durag on the cover of this month’s Vogue, while the #DontRushChallenge showcases black women’s makeup skills in all its diverse glory. I’m off to find a lipstick to match my slippers ...

Rihanna, the reigning queen of stay-at-home couture, made history yesterday, appearing on the cover of British Vogue in a durag, the choice of bedtime headwear for many black people. Way ahead of last year’s nightwear as a daywear trend, she previously donned one covered in Swarovski crystals at the CFDA awards in 2014. In 2013, she wore a doobie wrap – a common interim style black women use to keep freshly treated hair intact during the night – at the American Music awards. Her taste in headgear makes me feel much more chic as I work from home in a polyester durag and oversized shirt.

I miss going out, but I miss getting ready to go out probably just as much, if not more. And it’s not just me – as the #OOTD hashtag declines during lockdown, the @wfhfits Instagram account, which documents the showstopping outfits contributors are wearing to work from home, is now 18.4k strong. The #DontRushChallenge takes this to the next level. Started by Twitter user @lase_asoloo, participants go from drab to fab in the (slickly edited) tap of a makeup brush. Much like the DMX Challenge – which last year saw women showcasing various hairstyles synced to the 46 names the rapper lists on his song What They Really Want – the #DontRushChallenge is dominated by #blackgirlmagic and has been an utter joy to watch.

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Malaysian ministry apologises for 'avoid nagging' lockdown tips

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 07:45

Citizens mocked advice for women to wear makeup, dress neatly and not nag husbands

Malaysia’s government has apologised after its advice for women to wear makeup and not nag their husbands during the coronavirus lockdown sparked anger and mockery online.

The country has ordered citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of Covid-19. In a series of Facebook posts, the women’s ministry offered tips on how wives should behave while the restrictions were in place.

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Relaxation of UK abortion rules welcomed by experts

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 01:16

Rules eased during coronavirus crisis to allow women to be sent both sets of abortion pills

Leading UK healthcare providers have welcomed the government’s decision to allow women to take abortion pills at home without travelling to a clinic.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the government was updating its guidance to help women who need an abortion, but cannot access a clinic because of measures put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.

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The men who leave their spouses when they have a life-threatening illness

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 23:00

When relationships are hit by serious illness, such as cancer, it can bring existing gender inequalities shockingly to the surface

When Christie Sanchez was 12, she had the best stepdad in the world. He was charismatic and intelligent. He introduced her to new music and took her hiking every weekend. Then, her mom got sick.

For two years Sanchez’s mom, Sandra, battled stage four breast cancer. It was advanced enough that within days of her diagnosis she was having her breasts, lymph nodes and both ovaries removed.

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State control over women's bodies is an unforeseen outcome of the coronavirus crisis | Emma Barnett

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 00:00

A U-turn on women’s ability to access home abortions and the cancellation of IVF means they have less say over their fertility

It’s been quite a week to have a womb in the UK.

First, pregnant women were suddenly categorised as vulnerable, and advised to stay home by the government. But then some of them were told to come back into work by their employers – including the riskiest of all, the NHS.

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Why has the media ignored sexual assault allegations against Biden? | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 03:00

Conservatives who didn’t care about the multiple sexual assault allegations against Trump have seized on the accusations while liberals turn a blind eye

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Mothers say they are being kept at work in UK as fathers stay home

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 02:35

Charities hit out at firms’ unequal coronavirus stance as pregnant women also lose out

Mothers with school-age children are being told they cannot work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, while fathers at the same companies are encouraged to do so, according to organisations providing legal advice and support for parents.

Legal advice lines have also been inundated with calls from pregnant women who have been made redundant while male workers have been kept on, and others who have been told they must go to work or face the sack despite being categorised as a vulnerable group in government guidance.

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Japan Airlines ditches compulsory high heels and skirts in big win for #KuToo movement

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 18:09

Company becomes first major employer in the country to stop forcing dress code on women

Female flight attendants working for Japan Airlines will no longer be required to wear high heels or skirts, the airline has said, in a rare victory for Japan’s #KuToo campaign against workplace dress codes for women.

The airline is the first major Japanese company to relax its regulations in response to complaints from women that having to wear high heels was uncomfortable and often left them in considerable pain.

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Outrage in South Korea over Telegram sexual abuse ring blackmailing women and girls

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 18:29

Alleged ringleader forced victims to carve ‘slave’ into their bodies and send him degrading images that were shared with scores of others

A sexual blackmail ring that operated on the app Telegram and targeted dozens of women, including underage girls, has rocked South Korea and triggered demands for authorities to crack down on the rising number of sexual offences online.

Police on Wednesday took the unusual step of naming the man who allegedly ran an online network that lured at least 58 women and 16 girls into what authorities called “virtual enslavement” by blackmailing them into sending degrading and, in come cases, violent sexual images of themselves.

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UK abortion law briefly changes during Covid-19 outbreak

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 05:10

Guidance, deleted after a few hours, said women could take both early medical abortion pills at home

The UK government published then deleted changes to abortion law that would have allowed women to access medical terminations without travelling to a clinic, leaving women’s health charities “staggered”.

In the guidance, which was published for at least five hours on Monday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “The secretary of state for health and social care has approved two temporary measures in England to limit the transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19) and ensure continued access to early medical abortion services.”

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Clinics in Ohio and Texas ordered to stop ‘nonessential’ surgical abortions

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 14:00

State officials cited guidelines to conserve medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak as advocates call the move political

Ohio and Texas have ordered health care providers in the state to stop performing “nonessential” abortions, touching off a deeply contentious debate over reproductive rights in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Both states cited federal guidelines aimed at conserving necessary medical supplies to combat the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the US and argued that abortions do not qualify as essential surgeries. But advocates say the moves taken by two conservative attorneys general is about advancing a political agenda, not protecting public health.

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Today, more than on any other Mother's Day, I appreciate my mum | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Sun, 03/22/2020 - 02:00

Thanks to this crisis, I don’t know when I’ll see my brilliant mum again. I want her know how grateful I am to her

We emerged from isolation yesterday to post Mother’s Day cards, the short walk around the corner to the postbox offering a degree of novelty I never thought I would come to crave. I chose Matisse’s Woman in Blue: a red-headed woman who looks like a queen. Fitting, for my mum.

I once had an editor who didn’t like the word “mum”. Maybe she thought it was, I don’t know, mumsy, a word that is often used in a derisive tone. Mumsy is defined as “giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable”. How unfair that, on top of all the bum-wiping and wound-dressing and tucking-in and spoon-feeding, mothers should have to contend with an image problem for frequently performing those tasks.

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Parr’s makeup ad for Gucci has a brush with controversy

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 23:08

The shoot, featuring musician Dani Miller in mascara, has reignited debate about realistic standards of beauty

One is famed for warts-and-all realism, the other for high-end gloss, so there was always going to be something spectacular in the offing when British photographer Martin Parr was asked to shoot a make-up advertising campaign for the Italian fashion house Gucci.

The imagery – for the brand’s new L’Obscur mascara – features New York punk musician Dani Miller and her now-famous gap-toothed smile. With lashings of heavy black mascara, natural eyebrows (complete with, shock horror, regrowth), and minimal foundation, it has divided customers and started yet another debate about diversity, even in these times of increased body positivity.

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I loved appearing on University Challenge. Then I looked at Twitter…

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 21:51

There are few women on the show, and after receiving a torrent of abuse on social media, Lucy Clarke (Jesus, Oxford) isn’t surprised

After my team’s latest episode of University Challenge, I idly scrolled through Twitter. It was much as ever: old men telling me to wipe my nose (I have a septum piercing), some praise, and the usual criticism: “What a mess, did she get dressed in the dark”; “She deserved to mess that up after her poncey Kraftwerk pronunciation”. So far, so much as we’d been warned. But then came the real doozy. A man whose bio proclaimed him to be “grandad of six … married to my lovely teacher wife”, had tweeted: “All these knobs on here saying they got [a question on] massive attack along with everyone else, what other question have you answered ? Plus I’ll guess Clarke sucks like a fucking Dyson.”

I stared at it for a long time, trying to understand the bizarre conjunction of defending me and matter-of-fact sexual objectification.

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For some people, social distancing means being trapped indoors with an abuser | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 03:00

As more cities go under lockdown, activists are worried that attempts to curb coronavirus will inadvertently lead to an increase in domestic violence

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Rising numbers of UK mothers falling into long-term debt – report

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 00:12

Precarious employment and pension age increase among causes, say researchers

Precarious employment, low pay, the increased pension age and real-term reductions in welfare benefits are causing increasing numbers of mothers to fall into long-term debt, according to research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics and in-depth interviews.

The research, titled Mothers in Debt – Shame, Abuse and Resilience, by researchers at the University of Manchester, found that separated or divorced mothers aged 55 and over were more likely to have significantly worse financial problems than fathers of the same age.

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India executes four men convicted of 2012 Delhi bus rape and murder

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 15:02

Four found guilty of attack that shocked the world were hanged in capital on Friday morning

India has executed the four men who were convicted of the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman on bus in Delhi in 2012, a case which shocked the world and brought India’s problem with sexual violence against women into the spotlight.

Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh had been found guilty in a 2013 trial and sentenced to death by hanging, but their execution had been postponed multiple times due to Supreme Court appeals.

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This week we have brought New Zealand's abortion laws into the 21st century | Andrew Little

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 13:56

Seeking an abortion was a crime until now, but new legislation has removed the stigma and given women a choice

New Zealand’s current abortion laws are more than 40 years old and were enacted when there were more MPs in Parliament named Bill than MPs who were female. This week we brought the laws into the 21st century.

Up to now, women seeking an abortion in New Zealand were committing a crime under our main criminal statute but had a defence if they followed the requirements of the abortion legislation. These requirements included the woman being referred by their doctor to two specialists who each had to certify she faces a serious danger to her life or physical or mental health. Other conditions also applied, such as whether the pregnancy was a result of incest or the woman lacked capacity to consent. For abortions after 20 weeks, conditions were more stringent.

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