From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
Sisters Uncut is a direct-action group founded by survivors of abuse and their allies in 2014 to protect domestic violence services from austerity cuts in the UK. Shelters there turn away two-thirds of women seeking help. In May, they occupied the closed Holloway Women’s Prison, holding workshops and demanding the space be used for domestic violence services and affordable housing. One activist stated, “If the government has money for mega prisons, they have money for domestic violence support services. Forty-six percent of women in prison are domestic violence survivors—if they had the support they needed, it’s likely they wouldn’t end up in prison.”
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In 2015 Lola Omolola started a facebook group, Female in Nigeria, now called FIN, for women to tell personal stories without judgement. She was compelled by Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 200 girls from the rural Nigerian town of Chibok. She stated, “I knew the cause of it. When you grow up in a place where a woman’s voice is not even valid, everything reinforces the idea that we’re not good enough. Between the ages of three and six I noticed that whenever a girl shows any sign of self-awareness she gets silenced. When I said anything, I got a pinch.” The group now has over a million members who describe experiences of abuse, rape and the isolation of being single mothers or lesbians. The facebook setting is secret because Omolola has been called “the devil” and a “corrupter of young women” by church groups. If she gets funding, she wants to build physical centers where women can have these discussions safely.
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In June, the chancellor of the University of Colorado received a slap on the wrist: a 10-day suspension without pay for his failure to report to authorities the allegations of domestic violence by an assistant football coach. The athletic director and the head football coach were each ordered to pay $100,000 from their salaries of about $2 million per year to domestic violence organizations. The university denied that their motivation for not reporting the assistant coach to university or law enforcement authorities was so he could participate in an upcoming game. After the game, the assistant coach was suspended and resigned. He was charged with five felony assaults for repeated, severe physical and verbal domestic abuse.
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Maddy Rasmussen, an 18-year-old high school student who interned at a women’s rights organization and an abortion clinic, created the first online map showing all of the abortion providers in the U.S. Previous maps by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Fund only included clinics in their own networks. The map’s website, Safe Place Project, has a list of restrictive laws that Rasmussen plans to keep up to date.