“The Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler has been speaking out about violence against women and girls with her V-Day movement for years. But she took things to a whole new level on February 14 of last year: One Billion Rising, her call to action that made headlines all over the world and even prompted celebrities like Anne Hathaway to speak out about gender-based violence. The premise was simple: on February 14, all over the world, women and men were asked to stop what they were doing and dance in the name of ending violence against women. Last year, one billion people “rose and shook the earth” through dance to strike back against the startling UN statistic that 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. One Billion Rising will be back in 2014 for a second round, and we are all invited to participate. This year, Ensler is screening a short film she created with Tony Stroebel about last year’s movement. “One Billion Rising” will be available to watch online on January 19, the same day it’s set to premiere at Sundance Film Festival. The film compiled footage of One Billion Rising from all over the world, and was put together with contributions of filmmakers from 207 countries. Check out the trailer and share it with everyone you know so we can make this year’s movement even bigger.
In the most recent episode of “Downton Abbey” to air in America, the lady’s maid Anna Bates — whose story through four seasons has almost exclusively focused on her romance with her husband — is raped by a visiting valet. It is not the first example of sexual misconduct on the show. But it is the most sexually violent act to occur to any character. Not surprisingly, the incident has been hugely controversial.
When it first aired in the UK, viewers complained about sexual violence on an otherwise fairly frothy PBS program. (I say “fairly frothy” in a nod to the deaths of Sybil and Matthew.) The UK’s media regulatory agency declined to investigate the over 400 complaints made to both the agency and ITV, the channel on which “Downton” airs, saying that it provided a proper warning before the show about the content. But now that it has aired on PBS here in America, a large share of the criticism is coming from feminist bloggers who take issue with how the rape was handled on the show. Keep reading »
Fund Texas Women, a nonprofit that helps support women who seek abortions, has warned that anti-choicers are encouraging members of Christian groups in Texas — where abortion rights have just been gutted — to join an email list of volunteers to take women to abortion appointments. But instead of actually taking women to their abortions, the group Abolish Human Abortion warns, “it’s a wonderful opportunity to minister to an abortion-minded woman for an hour while you DON’T take her to her clinic.”
Or, you know, like, kidnapping. Keep reading »
Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that parts of a new anti-abortion law in Texas were unconstitutional and could not go into effect on Tuesday. That part of the HB2 law, which would have been enacted on Tuesday, would have required doctors providing abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic. The presiding judge granted an injunction, ruling it was “without a rational basis,” as patients are admitted to hospitals regardless of who their doctor is.
The Texas Attorney General (who also happens to be a Republican gubernatorial candidate) appealed almost immediately. Late yesterday, an appeals court blocked the injunction, thus ruling the provision can go into effect. According to The New York Times, the court cited a past abortion case when ruling that “the incidental effect of [a regulation on doctors] making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate it.” Keep reading »
“It’s a very delicate question to answer because I’ll hurt some people and please others but you have to have an opinion. For me, it’s not about the veil — it’s beyond that. I’m not against what people wear but if you go to the hospital, and you are in Quebec and we have embraced you and opened our country for you to live in a better world, you have to adapt to our rules. If the doctor is a boy or a girl, you’re gonna see the doctor that [is] sent to [treat] you. You can’t just say, “My religion doesn’t permit me to see a woman or a male doctor.” That’s the problem for me. If I’m going to see a doctor and he is gay, I’m not going to have a problem with that. It should not be an issue. … It’s just that these women who practice the things they believe in have to adapt to our country. They have to not change our laws. Because you have a lot of Anglican or veiled women in a school—you can’t just take off the [Catholic] cross from the walls, or take down Christmas trees. If I go live in their country and have to be veiled, I will.”
Celine Dion did an interview with the Canadian magazine MacCleans and was asked, as someone who has been called Quebec’s greatest ambassador, what she thinks about the province’s new proposed charter of values, which would forbid veils and turbans. Amnesty International, as well as the province’s own Human Rights Commission, criticized Quebec for including in its charter of values a ban on public employees wearing the Islamic face-covering veil, such as the hijab, as well as turbans. The 600,000 public employees affected include medical professionals, educators and day care workers, among others. Amnesty pointed out that it would limit women’s rights, as some women will opt not to work at all if they cannot wear their religious garments. Keep reading »
Here’s a film that will bring tears to your eyes: the story of Malala Yousafzai, the then 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was attacked by the Taliban for advocating on behalf of girls’ education, is set to become a documentary! After being shot at last October in her head and neck while on her way to school, Malala was airlifted out of Pakistan to a hospital in the UK to recuperate. She has persevered despite her extensive injuries and serves a huge inspiration to young girls and women throughout the world as she continues to fight for access to education for everyone. Davis Guggenheim, director of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman,” will direct the film Malala’s documentary, which will follow her attack, her recovery, and the activism that has earned her a nomination for both the Nobel Peace Prize and for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Congrats, Malala! [Guardian UK]