Women WorldWide: July 2023

July 13, 2023

by Artemis

In June, a Netflix TV drama series about Taiwanese politics, “Wave Makers,” inspired a #MeToo movement there. When a woman tells her boss that a high-ranking party member sexually harassed her, he promises to help her report it. His line, “Let’s not just let this go this time,” has become a slogan. Over 100 women and some men have used social media to call out sexual harassment and rapes committed by prominent men in the political, judicial, academic, journalism, entertainment and arts scenes. Feminist groups call to make reporting these crimes to police easier by extending the statute of limitations for sexual harassment and addressing the sexist culture that blames victims. Lawmakers promise to hold workplaces and schools accountable for tracking complaints, protecting victims, and providing independent, third-party review panels.

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In July, an Indian trial court finally agreed to hear a case against Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), also a prominent politician. Seven top women wrestlers representing India in international sporting events including the Olympics accused him of sexual harassment and intimidation spanning over a decade. They reported it to the WFI, the Indian Olympic Association, the ministry of sports and the police, receiving no response. Since January, the women and their supporters have held marches and a 15-day protest in the capital of Delhi, even threatening to throw their medals into the Ganges River. But instead of help, they were beaten and arrested by police. Numerous young women athletes and their parents are demanding reforms from the WFI and other sporting institutions like appointing women to all levels of the organizations including as trainers. Wrestler Sakshi Malik stated, “We have staked everything that we have—our careers, our reputations, even our lives—in order to raise this issue. We are not raising this just for ourselves, it’s for all the girls who have faced harassment from powerful men and haven’t been able to speak out.”

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On June 11, Maine became the first U.S. state to join Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden in establishing the Equality Model, also called the Nordic or Abolitionist Model. Gov. Janet Mills signed into law An Act to Reduce Commercial Sexual Exploitation and An Act to Provide Remedies for Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Together, these laws decriminalize and end arrests of people bought and sold in the system of prostitution. They provide survivors services to rebuild their lives while sealing records of previous convictions for prostitution, thus preventing discrimination in housing and employment. The laws criminalize buyers, who fuel this global, multi-billion-dollar system and are 99.9% male, as well as pimps. This is the result of years of activism by survivor-led groups including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Rights4Girls, World Without Exploitation, Just Love Worldwide (JLW), and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Tricia Grant of JLW stated, “I am proud that Maine is the first state in the country to listen to survivors and understand that what we endured was not ‘work,’ but pervasive injuries and violence that destroy individuals’ lives and communities.”

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In 2015, the Canadian federal government created the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Following three years of federally ordered hearings and testimonies from survivors and victims’ families, the organization announced 231 calls for justice in June 2019. These are legally mandated directives aimed at government agencies. An analysis by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has determined that, four years later, only two have been completed and over half not even started. The calls range from protections for youth in foster care to specialized police units. Only a fraction of the money budgeted by the federal government for violence prevention and shelters has been spent.

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