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Two weeks ago, 234 Nigerian schoolgirls, ages 12 to 17, were kidnapped by an extremist group called Boko Haram (which translates as "Western Education is Forbidden.")   Approximately forty girls managed to escape in the beginning; families state that the government is doing little or nothing about the rest.  The story just took an even uglier turn:  there are reports that the girls are being sold as "wives" to militants.  As Fred Clark at Slacktivist observes:

As much as I hope that searchers will find that missing Malaysian plane in order to provide some measure of knowing for the families of the 239 people who were on board, it also seems to me that this story of 234 abducted girls is also deserving of the kind of wall-to-wall media attention that story has received.
The good, the bad and the ugly below the orange whatchamajigger.

Reproductive rights:

Childbirth-related deaths are on the rise in the US.

Tennessee just became the first state where a woman can be jailed if drug use during her pregnancy is deemed to have harmed the fetus.  Every major medical organization opposed the bill, noting that it would keep substance abusers from seeking help.  

The sole clinic in Mississippi that provides abortions is now fighting for its existence in court over a law that requires it doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals.  The plaintiffs noted, among other things, a legal precedent that "it wasn’t enough for constitutional rights to be available in the next state over."

This is a few weeks old, but it's a good examination of how abortion was a noninssue for Evangelicals until the 1970's, when it became a political rallying cry, and how the same patern is repeating now with contraception.


If you only click one link this week, make it this one:  "Black Gurls and Suicide:  Loving Each Other to Stay Alive."


Montana teacher Stacey Rambold made headlines across the country when he was sentenced to just one month in jail for raping a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide.  Judge G. Todd Baugh suspended the rest of the 15-year sentence with the incredible statement that the victim was "probably just as much in control of the situation as he was."  The sentence was not only outrageous, it was inconsistent with Montana law, and has now been overturned by the Montana Supreme Court, which has sent it to a new judge for re-sentencing.  A formal complaint against Judge Baugh is pending.

A confessed rapist was given an absurdly light sentence and ordered to do community service at a rape-crisis center.  I have no words.  The DA has appealed, and the judge has recused herself, so it's possible a new judge may change the sentence.

An interview with Kate Mogulescu, who runs the Legal Aid Society's Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project in NYC.

Some thoughts on the weird media focus on a rapist's   "ruined life," as if the victim was the aggressor for reporting rape.

A small but important moment of bystander intervention:  "She said no, man.  Let's go."

One of the most intractable parts of rape culture is the way institutions - colleges, the military, and even the police - have built-in incentives to ignore the problem. Even when survivors do everything they're supposed to do - go to the hospital, call the police, etc - they can get stonewalled at every turn.

I've linked before to the research showing that acquaintance rapists are typically repeat offenders who target  acquaintances because the victims are less likely to report, or to be believed when they do.  An Arizona teen was recently arrested on suspicion of having sexually assaulted at least eighteen girls aged 13 to 17.  Every time I hear one of these stories, I think:  if we could learn to support victims when they come forward, make it safe for them, we could stop the perpetrator the first time.  


David Barton, Glenn Beck's favorite "historian," says that when the US originally denied women the vote, it "kept families together".

Speaking of Glenn Beck, he says that when Hillary Clinton becomes President, she'll be having sex with a woman on the desk in the Oval Office.

The media's woman problem.

For men who claim to be unable to tell the difference between flirtation and harassment, a handy checklist.

• Is the way in which I'm making this advance likely to scare or alarm the person?
• Has the person already made it clear to me that they are uninterested in my advances?
• Does the speed at which my vehicle is moving rule out any likelihood of a response to this advance?
• Is this "advance" actually just a shouted and uninvited assessment on my part of this person's attractiveness/body/genitals?
• Does the context of this situation (a job interview, for example) make a direct sexual advance offensive or inappropriate?
• Am I actually, all things considered, just being a bit of a dick?
Good News and Action Items:

Returning to college at age 69, a student reminisces about the rules for women when she was a student the first time around in 1962.  Perspectives like this help when I start feeling like we're not getting anywhere.

The White House debuted a new web site, Not Alone, aimed at addressing campus sexual assault.  Amanda Marcotte gives a succinct explanation of why, regardless of whether the victim chooses to report to law enforcement, the college is not relieved of its duty to enforce Title IX requirements and keep students safe.  Another White House initiative, 1 is 2 many, features PSA's by male celebrities opposing rape, domestic violence, and victim-blaming.  

Here's a petition for more action by the White House on military sexual assault.

Petition for California to stop sterilizing prisoners without fully informed consent.

Petition for a change in the Princeton Review ranking of colleges: include their track record on handling sexual assault.  this goes back to the "built-in incentives" issue:  they're a lot more likely to deal with the problem when it affects their bottom line.

Petition to the Iraqi government to reject proposed changes in the "personal status law," which would eliminate the age of consent for marriage for girls (which is currently 18).

Women cyclists are breaking taboos in Afghanistan.

Originally posted to This Week in the War on Women on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism.

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