From the January-February 2015 issue of News & Letters
On Nov. 15, 22-year-old Tugce Albayrak intervened when she heard the screams of two teenaged girls harassed by three men in the restroom of a McDonald’s in Offenback, Germany. When she left, the men assaulted her, sending her into a coma. When she was pronounced brain-dead and taken off life support, thousands of Germans declared her a hero and held candlelight vigils across the country. After receiving a petition with 100,000 signatures, German President Joachim Gauck said he’ll consider awarding her the national order of merit posthumously.
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At the Abortion Rights Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on Dec. 7, three masked men yelling “fucking whores” threw a smoke bomb into a screening of Vessel. The award-winning documentary, directed by American Diana Whitten, is about Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts and her organization Women on Waves, which uses a ship to provide abortion and contraception to women in countries with restrictive laws. In response, the Gothenburg Film Festival, one of Sweden’s largest, added the film to its January line-up, stating that “violence must never prevail over a film’s freedom.”
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Youth from countries in conflict zones attended Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine, to get to know their supposed “enemies” as human beings. U.S. attendee Hannah Posner reported to womensenews.org that the most intense conversations were among the young women, who, unlike the young men, did not envision a future for themselves in their countries of origin due to intense patriarchal oppression. In contrast to sexists who claim U.S. feminism is a distraction from the more severe oppression of women in other countries, Posner discussed the past and current struggles of U.S. feminists, stating: “This experience demonstrated the importance of finding common ground and not idealizing womanhood in one nation while despairing over its state in another.”