From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
In February, the Center for Disease Control released its Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted every two years with responses from 17,000 high school students. This 2021 data revealed “America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence, and trauma,” with one in three considering suicide, a 60% increase in the past decade. Nearly 15% experienced rape, and about six in ten stopped regular activities due to sadness or hopelessness. More girls (57%) reported depression than boys (29%) and were more likely to use alcohol and recreational drugs. Thirteen percent of girls attempted suicide in the past year compared with 7% of boys. The CDC recommended “school connectedness” by providing safe, caring adults, clubs and community outreach, mental health services, enforcement of anti-harassment policies, and inclusiveness for racial and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ students.
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In Japan in February, a package of reforms will form the basis for draft amendments to sex crime laws that could be enacted by parliament in 2023. This is the result of the Flower Demo, a countrywide movement of hundreds of people demonstrating and victims speaking out against rape on the 11th of every month. It began in August 2019, when feminist activist and author Minori Kitahara called for action on social media, responding to acquittals in several rape cases. The proposals include raising the age of consent from 13 to 16 and lengthening the statute of limitations for sexual violence against minors.
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Women throughout Iran are uncovering their hair and wearing regular clothes. Some let hair show or wear partial robes. Others continue wearing the hijab but support those who don’t. A video of Zeinab Kazempour taking off her head scarf at a convention of Iran’s professional association of engineers went viral. She denounced the group’s support of compulsory hijab to cheers and applause from the audience. (See “The revolution in Iran continues to develop,” page 1.) Spontaneous demonstrations break out daily. Authorities claim they disbanded the morality police but say they plan to deny services and freeze bank accounts of noncompliant women. Feminist activist Fatemeh Shams stated, “The core and heart of this movement is really the revolutionary act of these women turning their headscarves into the most effective and powerful weapon against religious dictatorship and deep layers of misogyny and patriarchy.”
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In February, in Orlando, Fla., the World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team played the SheBelieves Cup match against the Tokyo Olympic gold-winning Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team. Before playing, they linked arms with the Canadian team in solidarity with their labor disputes, forming a heart on the field. The Canadians wore purple, the color of women’s equality, over their uniforms with the words “Enough is Enough.” The Canadian Soccer Association has planned cuts due to lack of funds, but only to the women’s and youth programs.