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Intimate letters reveal Simone de Beauvoir’s role as an agony aunt

Women | The Guardian

Inspired by the author’s unconventional love life, thousands of men and women wrote to ask for her advice on sex and sexuality, hidden correspondence reveals

She was the feminist icon made famous by her 1949 seminal treatise, The Second Sex, and her open relationship with fellow writer Jean-Paul Sartre, with whom she swapped sexual partners. Now a vast trove of 20,000 letters reveals that Simone de Beauvoir sparked an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from readers in Britain and across the globe.

Far from ordinary fan mail, these are letters filled with an exceptional author-reader intimacy. Both men and women sought her advice on everything from marriage to mistresses, sexual confusion to sex, abortions to affairs.

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August 9th 2020, 4:52 am

UK’s women’s refuges turn away victims who speak no English

Women | The Guardian

BAME sufferers of domestic abuse refused sanctuary despite available places at many sites

Women’s charities have raised concerns that victims of domestic violence are being refused places at refuges, even when there is capacity, because they do not speak English.

Those turned away include a mother with a 14-month-old baby who was fleeing violence after being held as a slave by her ex-husband.

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August 9th 2020, 4:07 am

'Polarised' debate on gender recognition is harming UK, says equalities chief

Women | The Guardian

David Isaac urges women’s groups and transgender campaigners to listen to each other and focus on consensus

The departing chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said the polarising debate around transgender rights will be damaging to the country if it continues.

In his final interview, David Isaac, who left his position on Saturday after more than four years in post, urged supporters and opponents of gender self-identification to recognise that they had much in common.

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August 8th 2020, 3:47 pm

Indian food delivery company Zomato offers 'period leave' to women

Women | The Guardian

Employer aims to remove stigma in a nation where menstruation is still taboo to some

Indian food delivery company Zomato has said it will give female employees up to 10 days of “period leave” a year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was stigma around the issue.

Zomato is the most high-profile organisation to institute the policy in India, a country where menstruation is still taboo to some.

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August 8th 2020, 2:47 pm

Pope appoints six women to top roles on Vatican council, in progressive step

Women | The Guardian

Former Labour minister Ruth Kelly is among the women who will oversee Vatican finances and address its cashflow problems

Pope Francis has appointed six women to oversee the Vatican’s finances including Ruth Kelly, the former Labour minister, in the most senior roles ever given to women within the Catholic Church’s leadership.

The appointments mark the most significant step by Francis to fulfil his promise of placing women in top positions. Up until now, the 15-member Council for the Economy was all male. By statute, the council must include eight bishops – who are always men – and seven lay people.

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August 6th 2020, 12:50 pm

Female doctors in menopause retiring early due to sexism, says study

Women | The Guardian

Experienced women leaving medicine early because of symptoms and lack of support

Female doctors going through the menopause are reducing their hours, moving to lower-paid roles or retiring early from medicine due to sexism and ageism in surgeries and hospitals, research has found.

The British Medical Association (BMA) found a strong pattern of highly experienced women leaving GP partnerships, ending their positions as clinical leaders and directors and leaving medicine early, because they were struggling to cope with menopause symptoms with no support from management or peers.

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August 5th 2020, 7:31 pm

‘Disgusting’ study rating attractiveness of women with endometriosis retracted by medical journal

Women | The Guardian

Fertility and Sterility took seven years to take down Italian study, which was criticised by doctors for ethical concerns and dubious justifications

A widely criticised peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.

The study, Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study, was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting”.

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August 5th 2020, 3:59 am

Dreary chat and no sexual spark: the couples who fell out of love in lockdown

Women | The Guardian

With coronavirus keeping us at home, many of us have been taking a long, hard look at our most intimate relationships – and deciding to end them

Hannah began to question her relationship when her boyfriend chose not to live with her during lockdown. They had been dating for two and half years but didn’t share a home. Now, forced to choose between not seeing each other for weeks on end, or being together 24/7, he had opted for separation.

“At first, I felt anxious about being apart,” she recalls. But friends reassured her that it was only natural not to want to start living together in such stressful circumstances. “We are both very young, in our early 20s, so I brushed aside my concerns and we went to stay separately with our families.”

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August 4th 2020, 5:20 am

I’m bisexual – but worry I'm not as attracted to men as I am to women

Women | The Guardian

I’d feel there was something missing in a long-term heterosexual relationship, but am concerned I am not attracted enough to men to have a monogamous gay relationship

I’m a bisexual man in my 30s. I greatly enjoy sex with women, but the thought of it doesn’t turn me on as much as the thought of receiving anal sex from a man. However, when I am physically intimate with a man I find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an erection. In some ways, this is fine, but I’m worried that the men I sleep with think I’m not enjoying it, or don’t know whether I am or not. I think the wider problem may be that I don’t find men as attractive as women. I don’t enjoy cuddling with men or kissing like I do with women. As a result, I treat the men I’m with like sex objects. I’m worried that if I end up with a woman, I’ll always have something missing from my sex life, but that I am not attracted to men enough to have a satisfying monogamous relationship with a man.

When people are grappling with such questions, what they are really comparing is not so much the qualitatively different sexual experiences, but rather who they experience themselves to be in the context of their relationships with people of different genders. But you do not have to make a choice – not now and not ever.

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August 4th 2020, 3:15 am

'A small but powerful signal': Mumbai installs female figures on traffic lights

Women | The Guardian

Campaigners in India say the move helps dispel the notion that only men should be out in public

Mumbai has become the first city in India to introduce female figures on its traffic lights, a move welcomed by campaigners as a step towards greater inclusivity.

Authorities are swapping the green and red male stick figures for female figures on more than 100 pedestrian crossings as part of a broader plan to make roads more pedestrian-friendly.

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August 4th 2020, 1:33 am

Women's prize for playwriting longlist is 'politically charged', say producers

Women | The Guardian

The £12,000 prize is a galvanising moment for industry that must ‘rejuvenate rather than regress’ after the Covid-19 pandemic

The longlisted writers for a new prize for female playwrights have created “satisfyingly puzzling” characters and “ambitious, politically charged” plays, say the award’s producers.

The Women’s prize for playwriting, open to writers in the UK and Ireland who identify as female, was launched last year. Submissions closed in early March and the prize has grown in significance in the wake of coronavirus, which led venues to close that month and has since devastated the theatre industry. Producer Ellie Keel, whose company launched the prize with Paines Plough (run by Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner), warned that fewer creative risks will be taken by the industry after the pandemic. “It is a historically well-trodden path that work by women can be seen as risky,” said Keel, who wants to “force the theatre industry to rejuvenate rather than regress”.

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July 31st 2020, 9:23 am

Democrats introduce bill to repeal anti-abortion rule for US overseas aid

Women | The Guardian

Critics of the Helms amendment, which currently prevents the use of aid to fund abortion services abroad, say it is ‘deeply rooted in racism’

The first bill to repeal a US law preventing aid from funding abortion services overseas was introduced to congress on Wednesday.

Democratic congressswoman Jan Schakowsky said the Helms amendment, a policy introduced in 1973, was “deeply rooted in racism” and must be replaced to allow US money to be used to support safe abortion services worldwide.

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July 29th 2020, 10:43 am

Gisèle Halimi, trailblazing French feminist MP and lawyer, dies aged 93

Women | The Guardian

Instrumental in decriminalising abortion in France, Halimi spent her life fighting for women’s rights

The Tunisian-born French feminist MP and lawyer Gisèle Halimi, described as a “trailblazer” and a “rebel”, has died one day after her 93rd birthday.

Halimi was instrumental in the decriminalisation of abortion in France and spent her life fighting for women’s rights. “Injustice is physically intolerable to me. All my life can be summed up with that,” she once said.

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July 29th 2020, 9:43 am

Mexico’s activists brace for landmark supreme court abortion ruling

Women | The Guardian

The ruling could set a precedent; in states that have restrictive regulations, injunctions could be granted to allow the procedure

Activists on both sides of Mexico’s abortion debate are bracing for a potentially historic supreme court hearing on Wednesday which could lead to decriminalisation across the country.

The case before the five judges of the high court’s first bench involves an injunction granted in the eastern state of Veracruz, which ordered the local legislature to remove articles from its criminal code pertaining to abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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July 29th 2020, 5:26 am

Keeping score of gender inequalities | Brief letters

Women | The Guardian

Women’s representation | Cricket | Garlic | Fake news and moths

It isn’t surprising that women are getting such a raw deal and feeling left out during the pandemic (UK working mothers are ‘sacrificial lambs’ in coronavirus childcare crisis, 24 July). Priti Patel is the only woman in the upper echelons of the government. Where it matters, there’s virtually no one to speak up for women and little recognition of the huge contribution they make to the country’s economy.
Dr Sylvia Dunkley

• Unlike Margaret Waddy (Letters, 27 July), my early cricketing experience was of my twin brother being allowed in the exciting score box as my dad played, while I was expected to help my mam make the sandwiches. My angry refusal led to the first stirrings of feminism and an abiding dislike of cricket.
Dyllis Wolinski
Mossley, Greater Manchester

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July 28th 2020, 12:53 pm

Venice becomes first major film festival to return after coronavirus lockdown

Women | The Guardian

Festival reveals 2020 line-up for physical event, with Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland one of eight films by female directors to compete for the Golden Lion

Helen Mirren, Shia LaBeouf and Greta Thunberg are among the big names due to be on display at the 2020 Venice film festival, as it gears up to be the first major festival to stage a physical event in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Inevitably the lineup has a slimmed-down feel, with many films delayed or held back, meaning there is little in the way of Venice’s traditional dose of Hollywood glamour.

Festival director Alberto Barbera announced the main list of titles on Tuesday, which drew together films by the likes of Alex Gibney, Chloé Zhao and Luca Guadagnino. Zhao’s film, Nomadland, is arguably the most prized: following her indie hit The Rider, Zhao has adapted Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction account of older Americans forced on to the road by economic crisis, with Frances McDormand acting as producer as well as taking the lead role. In a sign of the pressures on film festivals, Nomadland will simultaneously premiere at the Toronto film festival, as well as subsequently filling the prestigious Centrepiece screening at the New York film festival.

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July 28th 2020, 10:23 am

Free pads and tampons now available to all Victorian public school students in Australian first

Women | The Guardian

The initiative aims to boost inclusivity and break down ‘the stigma of periods’

Victorian public schools are the first in Australia to offer free pads and tampons to students as part of an attempt to boost inclusivity and break down “the stigma of periods”.

The initiative is aimed at “reducing discomfort and embarrassment around periods for girls” at school, and will provide pads and tampons for free in bathrooms at the more than 1,500 government schools in Victoria.

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July 28th 2020, 4:32 am

Egypt jails women for two years over TikTok videos

Women | The Guardian

Court sentences Haneen Hossam, Mowada al-Adham and three others for ‘violating public morals’

An Egyptian court has sentenced five female social media influencers to two years in jail each on charges of violating public morals, a judicial source said.

The verdict against Haneen Hossam, Mowada al-Adham and three others came after they had posted footage on the video-sharing app TikTok. The ruling, which can be appealed, included a fine of 300,000 Egyptian pounds (£14,600) for each defendant.

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July 27th 2020, 1:44 pm

Cheshire prison worker warned of problems before death of baby

Women | The Guardian

Manager of mother-and-baby unit at Styal Prison wrote to politicians about her concerns for pregnant inmates

The former manager of a prison mother-and-baby unit warned just months before the stillbirth of a baby there that such a tragedy was likely to happen because of concerns about conditions for pregnant women at the prison, the Guardian has learned.

Tamsin Morris, a lawyer, who previously managed the mother-and-baby unit at Styal Prison in Wilmslow, Cheshire, wrote to the MP for the area, Esther McVey, to the Ministry of Justice and to the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, in February of this year, raising concerns about conditions for pregnant women at the prison in the wake of the stillbirth of a baby at HMP Bronzefield last September.

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July 27th 2020, 12:12 pm

Poland to withdraw from treaty on violence against women

Women | The Guardian

Justice minister says Istanbul convention is ‘ideological’ and enforces the teaching of gender

Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the rightwing cabinet has said violates parents’ rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender.

The justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, told a news conference on Saturday his ministry would submit a request to the labour and families ministry on Monday to begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul convention.

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July 26th 2020, 6:32 am

UK working mothers are 'sacrificial lambs' in coronavirus childcare crisis

Women | The Guardian

Exclusive: Survey reveals lack of childare played role in almost half of female layoffs

Women are being treated as “sacrificial lambs” as the UK economy contracts, with half of working mothers unable to access the childcare they need to return to work, according to a survey exposing the scale of the UK’s childcare crisis.

As the government was accused by MPs from both sides of the political divide of ignoring and sidelining women in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the survey revealed a lack of childcare played a role in the job losses of almost half of the women made redundant since the pandemic hit.

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July 24th 2020, 11:56 am

Jenni Murray to quit BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour

Women | The Guardian

‘It’s time to move on,’ says broadcaster after 33 years presenting the show

Dame Jenni Murray, whose mellifluous voice has graced the airwaves as the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour for more than three decades, is to leave the programme.

Murray, 70, who is the longest-serving presenter in Woman’s Hour’s 74-year history, would be “moving on to a new stage in her long and distinguished broadcasting career”, the BBC said.

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July 23rd 2020, 7:19 pm

Covid-19 threatens access to abortions and contraceptives, experts warn

Women | The Guardian

Unplanned pregnancy rates have fallen globally, report finds, but coronavirus could endanger access to services

Rates of unplanned pregnancies have fallen around the world, according to new data published by health research organisation the Guttmacher Institute and the UN Human Reproduction Programme (HRP) on Wednesday.

Global rates of unintended pregnancies have fallen from 79 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 in 1990 to 64 in 2019, thanks in part to a concerted effort to increase access to contraceptives, but there are concerns that decades of progress in reducing the numbers risk being undone by Covid-19, as lockdown restrictions hamper health services.

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July 23rd 2020, 11:46 am

Women took on bulk of childcare during British lockdown, study finds

Women | The Guardian

ONS polls show impact of home-schooling on parents’ mental health, with women hardest hit

Women carried out significantly more daily childcare duties than men during lockdown, for an average of more than three hours a day compared with just two hours for men, in households with children aged 18 or younger, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The study also found that one in three women with school-aged children said their mental health had been negatively affected as a result of home-schooling, compared with 20% of men, although the ONS said women generally were more likely to report their wellbeing had been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

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July 22nd 2020, 10:07 am

Women at Google miss out on thousands of dollars as a result of pay discrimination, lawsuit alleges

Women | The Guardian

An ongoing 2017 case found that discriminatory practices may be pushing women into lower-paying career tracks

Women at Google lose out on thousands of dollars each year compared to men as a result of discriminatory practices including pushing female employees into lower-paying career tracks, a lawsuit has alleged.

The findings stem from an ongoing lawsuit brought against Google in 2017, which accused the tech company of gender pay discrimination between female employees – from coders to teachers in its in-house childcare department – and their male counterparts. More details about the extent of the pay disparity emerged in a memorandum filed in court on Tuesday to classify that lawsuit as class action, which, if approved, would mean it applies to 10,800 women who have been employed by Google at any time since September 2013.

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July 22nd 2020, 8:50 am

Reni Eddo-Lodge and Emma Watson to redraw London tube map with women's names

Women | The Guardian

Suggestions sought for public history project inspired by similar map of New York led by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

Londoners Reni Eddo-Lodge and Emma Watson are spearheading a project to reimagine the city’s iconic tube map, by renaming all 270 stops after the women and non-binary people who have shaped the history of each pocket of the capital.

Eddo-Lodge, author of the bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race, and the actor and activist Watson, were inspired by a similar project in the book Nonstop Metropolis by Rebecca Solnit and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, which featured a New York City subway map with all the stations renamed after great women. Both Solnit and Schapiro are working with Eddo-Lodge and Watson to help create the City of Women London.

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July 21st 2020, 10:25 am

IMF urges swift action to protect women from Covid-19 economic hit

Women | The Guardian

Pandemic could reverse progress for women all over the world without governments taking powerful measures

Governments around the world have been warned by the International Monetary Fund to take swift action to limit the economic damage for women that has been unleashed by Covid-19.

Sounding the alarm over the disproportionate impact on women amid the worst global recession since the 1930s Great Depression, the Washington-based organisation said the pandemic threatened to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities, widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress.

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July 21st 2020, 10:25 am

Avon reports big surge in UK sign-ups to be cosmetics sellers

Women | The Guardian

Number of new reps who sell products to people in their homes has more than doubled

Avon looks set to be calling at many more UK homes after the cosmetics company revealed that the number of people signing up to be sales representatives had more than doubled in the lockdown.

The company, which boasts 5 million “reps” globally, said it had seen a 114% “surge” in the number of new representatives joining its UK business since lockdown began.

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July 19th 2020, 2:58 pm

I forgot how to cry as a man. HRT gave me a range of emotions I never thought possible | Cadance Bel

Women | The Guardian

While many focus on the physical aspects of gender transition, for Cadance Bell, the greatest benefit was existential, like putting the right fuel into an engine for the first time

I forgot how to cry as a man. Laying in an economy box at the end of the funeral home was my departed grandmother. Flowers my mum had chosen hung from a borrowed vase. I sat with my family, numb. I knew I should feel something about her death, but I was empty.

A celebrant was riffing from a lectern. “Sharon, I hear, was a lovely woman,” she said. “It’s Shirl,” came a hesitant voice from the audience. I cringed. “Sorry, Shirl. And now, she’s up there in the Lord’s kingdom in a great big room, with all of the friends who got there before her, and they’re so happy. They’re laughing with Sharon and they’re smiling, and they’re all eating her favourite cake!”

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July 19th 2020, 1:41 pm

‘The guys were waiting for me to fail’: Annie Nightingale on battling the BBC

Women | The Guardian

Still doing a Radio 1 show at 80, the veteran DJ tells Desert Island Discs about Beatles secrets and breaking down a ‘wall of no’

Veteran DJ Annie Nightingale, the first woman to do the job on Radio 1, has spoken of her suspicion that the BBC wanted her to mess up at the beginning of her career with the station in 1970.

“I think the BBC wanted it to fail,” Nightingale said. “They thought, OK, we have got this woman DJ now … but they would have been quite happy if it had not worked out.”

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July 19th 2020, 2:57 am

The power of touch: I didn't hold my daughter until she was three days old | Salamishah Tillet

Women | The Guardian

I was afraid my inability to breastfeed her or engage in skin-to-skin contact would harm her, but I was also burdened by another history

Welcome to the Guardian’s Power of Touch series

I had to wait three days after my daughter Seneca was born to hold her. She arrived punctually just before sunrise on her due date, a fact I have interpreted as her over-accommodating me, because it enabled me to drive to UPS and mail off my tenure dossier on time.

Nine hours later, as my partner, Solomon, my sister, Scheherazade, and I drove to the hospital with a maternity bag filled with a lavender-scented eye mask, breastfeeding pyjamas and a white-noise machine, I noticed only a handful of cars on the highway, the glare of their headlights guiding us to the hospital, four suburbs and 30 minutes away from our New Jersey townhouse.

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July 17th 2020, 3:56 am

World population in 2100 could be 2 billion below UN forecasts, study suggests

Women | The Guardian

Changes in population structure due to improving equality and ageing societies will pose policy dilemmas

Global population growth may peak sooner than expected if the lot of women continues to improve, a new study has suggested, which says the world’s population could be 2 billion below UN forecasts by the end of the century.

Such a fall would remove some of the projected strain on natural resources, but present governments with stark policy choices over migration and the economy.

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July 15th 2020, 9:19 am

The power of touch: Having sex with another woman shook my brain and restarted my heart

Women | The Guardian

I had known her for a month or so, and ending up in bed seemed inevitable. The experience elevated touch to a whole new level

Everyone’s “first time” is different: a drunken, messy affair; a gentle experience with a committed partner; a huge disappointment; a satisfying endeavour – or a combination.

But some people, myself included, have had more than a single loss of virginity. (The description of “losing” your virginity is quite odd, isn’t it? As if it has been left on a train seat. Though, doubtless, that will have been the case for someone out there.)

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July 15th 2020, 6:41 am

US judge rules Georgia’s six-week abortion ban violates constitution

Women | The Guardian

Governor Brian Kemp has vowed to appeal the ruling against HB481, which bans the procedure once cardiac activity is detected

A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked the state of Georgia’s hardline 2019 six-week abortion ban, finding that it violates the US constitution.

US district judge Steve Jones ruled against the state in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers and an advocacy group. Jones had temporarily blocked the law in October, and it never went into effect. The new ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481.

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July 13th 2020, 6:58 pm

Women speak out about Warren Ellis: 'Full and informed consent was impossible'

Women | The Guardian

Scores of women are publishing details of their relationships with the Transmetropolitan writer, who they say offered mentorship in exchange for sexual contact. But they don’t want him cancelled – they want a conversation

‘Stories are what make us human,” comics writer Warren Ellis told an audience on 28 April 2005, as that year’s Toronto Comic-Con began. “They’re an advanced form of play. Cats have play. Sometimes very sophisticated, dramatised forms of play. But they’re not communicated or externalised. So far, only humans use stories to dramatise the way they see the world.”

Two days after that, on 30 April, a 23-year-old woman flew to the convention to surprise Ellis, whom she believed was her boyfriend. The pair had spoken on video chat and email regularly since they first met online in 2004, with some of their conversations lasting through the night. She alleges that Ellis, then 37, never told her that he had a long-term partner, and that he had asked her to keep their relationship secret because of his fame. They had sex in his hotel room that evening.

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July 13th 2020, 7:22 am

Seoul mayor funeral: anger at use of public funds for five-day service

Women | The Guardian

More than 500,000 people sign petition calling for quiet family funeral for Park Won-soon amid sexual harassment allegations

A row has broken out over whether the mayor of Seoul, who was found dead last week in an apparent suicide, should be given a publicly funded funeral amid allegations he sexually harassed a member of his staff.

The South Korean capital’s administrative court dismissed an eleventh-hour injunction to block the use of taxpayer funds for the funeral on Monday morning of Park Won-soon, whose body was found in mountain woods in Seoul on Friday.

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July 12th 2020, 11:34 pm

'We went to therapy to save our friendship'

Women | The Guardian

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman have been best friends for more than a decade. They care about each other so much they even saw a couples counsellor. Now they’ve written a book about what it takes to stay close for the long haul

When Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman first met, at a viewing party for the teen drama Gossip Girl in 2009, each recognised a kindred spirit. “I can tell you for a fact that I viscerally remember the moment Ann and I walked in different directions,” recalls Sow, 35. “I remember just the pang of… Ahh, when am I going to see this person again? That feeling. It’s such a vivid episode in my mind.” When Sow got home that night, she found a friend request from Friedman, now 38, on Facebook. She has heard other friends talk about that same feeling of excitement when it comes to the very beginning of a new, platonic relationship. “We just do not understand them to be an intense emotional experience on the same level that we would give to a romance, for example. But I think the excitement is the same, the butterflies are there.”

Those butterflies turned into a decade-long, and still going, best friendship. In fact, they like each other so much that they have written a joint memoir of their lives together as friends and colleagues (both are writers and have been co-hosting a podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, since 2014, “for long-distance besties everywhere”). You get the sense, though, that they are using their personal story, with its ups and downs – and there are such downs that at one point, they go to couples’ therapy to salvage their relationship – to sneak in a manifesto of modern friendship, and how to navigate big, emotional platonic relationships successfully. Anyone who has ever experienced the pain of a friendship break-up, yet lacked the words to describe it, will find plenty to take from Big Friendship.

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July 12th 2020, 5:24 am

‘They just got away with paying men more …’ Milestone looms in Asda equal pay fight

Women | The Guardian

On the eve of a supreme court hearing for the UK’s biggest joint claim, former women shopworkers describe their six-year quest

For years, Wendy Arundale was nicknamed Little Miss Asda. At one point her whole family, including her husband and two children, worked at the supermarket. She dyed her hair pink for an Asda breast cancer fundraiser. She ran a hotdog stand for Asda. The 62-year-old grandmother of nine from Middlesbrough spent 32 years of her life working at Asda. It’s fair to say she was a dedicated employee.

“It makes me feel sad, and I do get bitter now sometimes thinking of how I was treated,” she said, speaking to the Observer. “My husband was paid 80p more than me an hour. I was close to crying at times because I wasn’t valued. The girls were paid terrible compared to the men. It makes you feel stupid. I really loved my job, but I don’t know why I put up with feeling like this for so long.”

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July 12th 2020, 3:41 am

Women still face a medical minefield | Letter

Women | The Guardian

Jan Millington of the campaigning group Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure is saddened that women are still not receiving proper care, support and attention to complex needs

Baroness Cumberlege, who chaired the review into vaginal mesh, hormonal pregnancy tests and an epilepsy medicine that harmed unborn babies (Denial of women’s concerns contributed to decades of medical scandals, says inquiry, 8 July), was involved with my campaigning group Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure back in the early 1990s.

After a Guardian article in 1991, it was found that hundreds of women were suffering devastating injuries from breast and pelvic radiation. We had much media exposure and over the years interacted responsibly with the Department of Health, the legal profession, charities and royal colleges, as well as providing advocacy and support to our members.

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July 10th 2020, 12:03 pm

Anna Ford attacks ‘body fascism’ in the media – archive, 10 July 1980

Women | The Guardian

10 July 1980: The ITN newscaster and other members of Women in Media gathered in London to marshal their campaign against media mythology

Sexual stereotyping took a battering yesterday as an array of talented and successful women from television, radio, newspapers, theatre and advertising gathered in London to marshal their campaign against media mythology.

The conference, at the Knightsbridge headquarters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, was organised by Women in Media – a pressure group which for 10 years has fought “to improve the position of women at work, and make men and women aware of the distorted images presented in the media.”

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July 10th 2020, 12:40 am

'I trusted my doctors': the women fighting for justice after medical procedures

Women | The Guardian

An inquiry into the harmful effects of medical treatments prescribed to female patients in England has highlighted a series of scandals

Vaginal Mesh

After the birth of her daughter in 2013, Adèle Yemm, now 46, had mild stress incontinence. She initially planned on pursuing physiotherapy, but was persuaded to undergo pelvic mesh surgery – despite raising concerns that it was inappropriate for women who planned on further pregnancies. Despite consenting to a so-called TVT implant, she was given a different procedure, called a transobturator tape (TOT), which has been linked to nerve pain. “I was actively persuaded to have mesh surgery but never told of any of the risks of a TOT,” she said. “In fact, I was assured that as long as I had a caesarean section if I had more children, the known risks were minimal.”

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July 8th 2020, 12:26 pm

Supreme court upholds Trump rules letting more employers deny contraceptive coverage

Women | The Guardian

Ruling on expansion of religious exemptions could deny 125,000 women coverage, Sotomayor says

The US supreme court has upheld a broad expansion by the Trump administration of the pool of employers that can use religious objections to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

The ruling, which struck down a lower court decision, could deprive up to 125,000 women of contraceptive coverage, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned during oral arguments in the case in May.

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July 8th 2020, 11:58 am

Why I don't have a child: I cherish my freedom

Women | The Guardian

Every day I don’t buy diapers, I’m sticking it to the man. And I have the time to think, to be creative and to cultivate a career

Last autumn, I fell in love for the first time in at least 20 years.

That enormous feeling overwhelmed me like fall in New England or a natural disaster. I knew I was in serious trouble when I found myself patiently, even blissfully, ironing his shirts. Who the hell am I right now, my besotted self thought. In a flash of recognition, I knew: I was a woman taking care of a man.

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July 8th 2020, 4:20 am

Don't know if you want a baby? This is how I found my answer

Women | The Guardian

Kerry Eustice didn’t know whether she wanted to be a mother - so she consulted people from all walks of life to find her answer

In September last year, a few months before I turned 37, I started a list. It’s called “Reasons I Don’t Want to Have a Baby”:

Goodbye to weekend lie-ins

Might ruin my relationship with my husband. What if it makes us fall out of love with each other?

Bringing a child into a world that is getting too hot, too angry and too divided

Goodbye money: even with health insurance, it can cost $30k to give birth in the US, and that’s if there are no complications. And then, there’s childcare costs

Our families live in a different country

No more impromptu cocktails, yoga, solo trips to the movies or lazy Sundays

When I hear a toddler screeching on the street, I flinch

Fear of parent and baby groups.

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July 7th 2020, 5:24 am

Why I don't have a child: I watched my own mother struggle with parenthood

Women | The Guardian

When there were too many kid-related errands … my mother would break down and cry, calling out to no one in particular ‘When is it my turn?!’

Any time I try to make sense of my strong aversion to motherhood and my utter glee over having escaped it, my mind immediately turns to the “mother-daughter day” my mom took me out of school for in the spring of 1975, a year before she and my father split up.

Our mid-week adventure came as a complete surprise to me, although I was happy for the day off from fourth grade, as any nine-year-old would be. It was going to be a special day for just us, my mother promised. We were headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, and to lunch at a fancy restaurant.

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July 7th 2020, 5:11 am

A journey to mindful sex: how a new app is helping women find sexual wellbeing

Women | The Guardian

Ferly uses cognitive behavioural therapy and other techniques to help its users overcome sexual difficulties or to become more aware of their bodies and discover what works for them

When entrepreneurs Billie Quinlan and Anna Hushlak were developing their mindful sex app, Ferly, male investors said the idea was not worth funding: they claimed that women were a “niche market” and recommended the pair focus on porn to get ahead.

“We were told that as two women talking about sex, we’re never going to be taken seriously,” says Quinlan.

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July 6th 2020, 10:03 am

More women like me are choosing to be childfree. Is this the age of opting out?

Women | The Guardian

Ecological collapse is within sight – and yet parenting is still viewed as a moral imperative. But countless women like me are building a new normal: a life without children

Imagine a world in which, one day, you learned you’d eventually be expected to give birth to, then raise, an ostrich. It would be a long-lived ostrich, one residing with you inside your home for at least eighteen years. 

This large, growing bird would require a great deal of care – daily, exhausting, heroic care, for which you wouldn’t be paid, nor, in general, well supported. In fact, you’d probably have to take time off from work; if you’re a woman, your ability to earn a post-ostrich livelihood would most likely be curtailed, perhaps severely. Plus, there would be the expense of ostrich daycare, ostrich violin lessons; in the future, god help you, ostrich college. Did you catch the part where you’re physically birthing the ostrich? It would tear open your body as it emerged from either between your legs or a gash sliced across your stomach, this larger-than-usual, speckled ostrich egg.

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July 6th 2020, 6:16 am

Isn't that selfish? Introducing our new series on childfree women

Women | The Guardian

Guardian editors Summer Sewell and Jessica Reed don’t have kids – and probably don’t want them. With the US birth rate at a 35-year low, they figured out their own stances over drinks – this is a transcript from that night at the bar

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July 6th 2020, 5:31 am

Labour mayors back plan to make police record misogyny as hate crime

Women | The Guardian

Stella Creasy believes amendment to domestic abuse bill would make police take misogyny more seriously

Labour’s metro mayors have united behind a parliamentary proposal from Stella Creasy to force the police to start recording misogyny as a hate crime.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool city region, and Dan Jarvis, mayor of Sheffield city region, are backing an amendment to the domestic abuse bill tabled by the Labour backbencher Creasy, which she believes will lead to police forces taking domestic abuse more seriously.

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July 5th 2020, 12:08 pm

The death of the bra: will the great lingerie liberation of lockdown last?

Women | The Guardian

Working from home has been a chance to do away with uncomfortable, unnecessary underwear. And many women have no intention of returning to underwires and constriction

It was after a shopping trip, the first time for weeks that Louise Kilburn had ventured out during the lockdown, that she realised she wasn’t wearing a bra. “I’d completely forgotten to put it on,” she says. Kilburn, a university lecturer, had been shielding since the last week of March. She was still busy teaching online, although not usually by video, and had created a more comfortable work wardrobe of pyjamas, loungewear “and, more importantly, no bra”. Her bras were somewhere, she says, with a laugh, under a pile of pre-lockdown clothes – lost enough that she had to buy some bralettes, a more unstructured style, to try out. She had, she says, “mislaid my boob cages”.

Lockdown has changed a lot of things about the way we present ourselves to the world, and for many women, ditching their bra has been a particularly popular one. “I just don’t see bras making a comeback after this,” tweeted the Buzzfeed writer Tomi Obaro in May. Her tweet has been “liked” more than half a million times. The feminist satire website Reductress ran a headline last week reading: “Bra furlough extended.”

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July 5th 2020, 9:39 am

Gloria Steinem: ‘Go too far, or you’re not going far enough’

Women | The Guardian

The feminist activist, 86, on worldwide sisterhood, Spaceship Earth, sexual harrassment in the 1970s and being bitten by rats

My parents were kind and funny and taught me that kindness and a sense of humour are invaluable. Much later, I learned that in the oldest cultures laughter is the only free emotion. Obviously, fear can be compelled. So can love, if we’re dependent for long enough, we enmesh even with a captor in order to survive. But you can’t compel laughter. It’s a flash of recognition. Never go anywhere you’re not allowed to laugh, including church.

I became a grown-up too early, from 10 to 17, a small person responsible for a big person. My mother was ill and often couldn’t look after herself. I never knew what I would find when I got home. Since then I’ve had friends who were the children of alcoholics, and I’ve learned we share some of the same feelings.

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July 4th 2020, 9:29 am

Beauty sector angry and puzzled as pubs reopen, but not salons

Women | The Guardian

Ministers accused of sexism for overlooking industry in lockdown easing plan

After three months in lockdown, many had assumed the days of DIY pedicures would soon be over. But, unlike cinemas and hairdressers, nail bars and beauty and tanning salons will be forced to keep their doors shut on Saturday, with no idea when they can reopen them.

“It’s really disappointing,” said Alix Claxton-Wood, the owner of Sheffield’s Hudson & Wood beauty salon. “We had a fully booked diary for the day that we were going to open.”

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July 3rd 2020, 12:17 pm

Women's careers will suffer most if UK childcare sector collapses, say experts

Women | The Guardian

Fawcett Society flags economic imperative of supporting childcare sector in letter to Rishi Sunak

The childcare sector is facing unprecedented financial challenges due to a sharp fall in income from parents and social distancing putting limits on their capacity, MPs and business leaders have warned.

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July 2nd 2020, 7:20 pm

Woman loses legal challenge to NHS charges for pregnant migrants

Women | The Guardian

Charity and woman argued government policy hindered access to maternity healthcare

A woman who faces decades of repayments to the NHS for maternity care has lost a case in the high court challenging the government’s healthcare charging regime for migrants.

The woman, who cannot be named, brought the legal challenge along with the charity Maternity Action, which works to end inequality and improve healthcare for pregnant women.

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July 1st 2020, 10:19 am

Labour MP apologises to JK Rowling for sexual assault remark

Women | The Guardian

Lloyd Russell-Moyle accused author of using her experience against trans people

Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle has apologised to Harry Potter author JK Rowling after accusing her of using her own sexual assault as “justification” for discriminating against trans people.

Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, made a public apology to Rowling after he wrote a piece in the Tribune saying he felt she had used her past experience to pass comment on a group of people who were not responsible for it.

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June 28th 2020, 4:31 pm

Egyptian belly-dancer given three-year jail term for 'inciting debauchery'

Women | The Guardian

Sama el-Masry was accused of posting suggestive images that violated family values

A high-profile Egyptian belly-dancer, Sama el-Masry, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (£15,000) on Saturday for inciting debauchery and immorality as part of a crackdown on social media postings.

El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, that the public prosecution described as sexually suggestive.

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June 27th 2020, 5:26 pm

‘Parents can look at their foetus in real time’: are artificial wombs the future?

Women | The Guardian

Scientists are currently pushing on an ethical boundary. Will out of body gestation ever replace the experience of human birth?

The lamb is sleeping. It lies on its side, eyes shut, ears folded back and twitching. It swallows, wriggles and shuffles its gangly legs. Its crooked half-smile makes it look content, as if dreaming about gambolling in a grassy field. But this lamb is too tiny to venture out. Its eyes cannot open. It is hairless; its skin gathers in pink rolls at its neck. It hasn’t been born yet, but here it is, at 111 days’ gestation, totally separate from its mother, alive and kicking in a research lab in Philadelphia. It is submerged in fluid, floating inside a transparent plastic bag, its umbilical cord connected to a nexus of bright blood-filled tubes. This is a foetus growing inside an artificial womb. In another four weeks, the bag will be unzipped and the lamb will be born.

When I first see images of the Philadelphia lambs on my laptop, I think of the foetus fields in The Matrix, where motherless babies are farmed in pods on an industrial scale. But this is not a substitute for full gestation. The lambs didn’t grow in the bags from conception; they were taken from their mothers’ wombs by caesarean section, then submerged in the Biobag, at a gestational age equivalent to 23-24 weeks in humans. This isn’t a replacement for pregnancy yet, but it is certainly the beginning.

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June 27th 2020, 6:05 am

Unilever to rename Fair & Lovely skin-lightening cream

Women | The Guardian

Company agrees to change branding to promote ‘more inclusive vision of beauty’

The Indian arm of the consumer goods group Unilever says it will change the name of its skin-lightening cosmetics range Fair & Lovely and stop using terms such as “whitening” in its marketing, but will continue selling the popular product.

Hindustan Unilever announced the change on Thursday in response to years of calls to drop the branding or stop selling the creams, the advertisements for which have featured Bollywood celebrities and in the past promoted their ability to dramatically whiten complexions.

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June 25th 2020, 9:58 am

Why does Covid-19 kill more men than women? Researchers grapple with gender mystery

Women | The Guardian

Australian project to remove the sex and gender biases commonly seen in medical research to study global coronavirus data for men and women separately

Why Covid-19 seems to kill more men than women, and how the virus is impacting frontline health workers who are predominantly women, are some of the unanswered questions researchers are grappling with amid the global pandemic.

On Thursday, the Australian Human Rights Institute announced it had partnered with the George Institute for Global Health to undertake two Covid-19 research projects that will remove sex and gender biases so often seen in medical research that can prevent patients from getting the best care. Traditionally, medical research has been dominated by men in lead research roles, and their medical research has involved male cells, animals and humans. It means advances in treatments have been tailored to, and based on, male biology.

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June 24th 2020, 1:49 pm

Many US women want fewer children because of pandemic, survey finds

Women | The Guardian

Women also having increased difficulty accessing contraception, Guttmacher Institute reports

In spite of some early predictions of a baby boom, many American women want to delay pregnancy and have fewer children because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey from the reproductive rights-focused Guttmacher Institute has found.

But whether they will have the access to the reproductive health services they need to fulfil those wishes is another question. The same survey reported women are having increased difficulty accessing contraception. Shutdown orders to slow the spread of Covid-19 cost millions of women their jobs and temporarily closed health clinics they relied on.

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June 24th 2020, 9:13 am

I encouraged my wife to be dominant, but I’m worried it’s gone too far

Women | The Guardian

I haven’t managed to find a space where I, too, can have my sexual needs met. I’m not sure that being submissive is what I really want

I am having a little trouble with my marriage, sexually. While I am quite kinky and highly sexual, my wife is not as comfortable with her sexuality, or communicating about it. I accept that, and have been encouraging her to open up, feel pleasure and tell me what she wants in the bedroom more. This has recently taken an unusual turn, in that I have been encouraging her to role-play being dominant over me, with some success. This has led to a lot of massages for her and very little oral sex for me! I think this is positive, but I have not managed to find a balance or find a space where I am also able to express what I want and have my needs met. I wonder if being submissive is what I truly want.

Your aim might have been to encourage her to adopt a classic BDSM dominant role, but she has interpreted it as permission to demand that her needs be met – and this is not a bad thing at all. Try to view this as it really is: an important stage in her sexual development – and yours. I am sure you know that BDSM is an advanced sexual style and that an awakening to power-exchange sex is a gradual process. Be patient. Encourage playfulness. Continue to allow her to order her pleasure from you. Very gradually, introduce the notion of switching (between dominance and submission). Besides giving you some respite, this should help her – and you – to better understand and enjoy the pleasures of fluidity, rather than rigidity, in polarised games.

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June 23rd 2020, 3:41 am

The coronavirus backlash: how the pandemic is destroying women's rights

Women | The Guardian

Women are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout and taking on a greater share of domestic work and childcare – while visits to the Refuge website are up 950%. Is this the biggest ever leap backward for women?

When lockdown began, Naomi initially hoped she could muddle through. She was used to working from home as a management consultant, and her boss was flexible about when the work got done. But, as a single parent to two children, seven and six, a few weeks of home schooling by day and working late into the night left her exhausted.

“I’m the school cook, cleaner and caretaker, I’m the teacher, and as well I’m trying to be the consultant after they’ve gone to bed. I realised I was going almost 24/7,” she says. So, in April, she asked to be added to her company’s furlough list; when her boss agreed, she felt nothing but relief. “I tried; I really did try. But I’m only human, and I can only be stretched so far before everything falls apart.”

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June 23rd 2020, 1:41 am

From puberty to menopause: Dolly magazine grows up to bridge two eras

Women | The Guardian

The team that led the iconic teen mag in the 90s has regrouped to provide a new publication for women who have grown up with them

Head to the Facebook page of Tonic Magazine, the new online women’s publication aimed at women over 45 that launched last week, and one of the first things you notice is a black and white header picture of Alison Brahe.

If you are an Australian woman around the age of 45, you almost certainly know exactly who Alison Brahe is. The blonde, sunny beauty appeared on the cover of Dolly dozens of times in the early 1990s. She was the pinup girl of mainstream white Australian style in that era, a sort of Elle-Macpherson-next-door whose wholesome good looks seemed almost attainable if you went for enough runs on the beach and faithfully re-applied your apricot Body Shop lip balm. Even today she still invites delighted comments and cries of recognition from the women who once Blu-tac’d her to their Laura Ashley-wallpapered bedroom walls.

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June 20th 2020, 4:24 pm

'As vital as breathing': Idle Women's radical skills workshops

Women | The Guardian

The support group teaching women how to build houses, mend cars and work together

Idle Women cofounders Rachel Anderson and Cis O’Boyle originally wanted to open a touring arts centre exclusively for women. But, conscious of the many cuts to funding during a decade of austerity, they decided on something that couldn’t be “closed down or taken away”. This meant owning their resources.

They decided they could stretch to a narrowboat and, in early 2016, built the 55ft Selina Cooper and bought a permanent mooring in Nelson, Lancashire. The boat now houses artists in residence and provides space for floating workshops, skill exchanges, social gatherings and outreach projects for vulnerable women.

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June 20th 2020, 5:48 am

Death of baby in Cheshire prison prompts investigation

Women | The Guardian

Inmate at Styal prison had complained of stomach pains but was unaware she was pregnant

The prison service has launched an investigation following the death of a baby in prison, the Guardian has learned.

The stillbirth of a baby at Styal prison in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on Thursday has been confirmed by the Ministry of Justice. It is the second stillbirth of a baby born to a woman in prison in the space of nine months.

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June 19th 2020, 5:53 pm

UK society regressing back to 1950s for many women, warn experts

Women | The Guardian

Inequality has worsened during lockdown, says study, with women saddled with more not less childcare

The coronavirus pandemic is threatening to derail women’s careers and take UK society back to a 1950s style of living, experts have warned as research showed the proportion of mothers responsible for between 90-100% of childcare increased from 27% to 45% during lockdown.

Researchers at the University of Sussex found 72% of mothers described themselves as the “default” parent for all or most of the time during lockdown, while 67% of women with work commitments also described themselves as such. In addition, 70% of women reported being completely or mostly responsible for home schooling.

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June 18th 2020, 10:34 am

Women at risk of babies being put in care more likely to have mental health issues

Women | The Guardian

Wales study shows 53% have condition, showing need for early support for mothers

Pregnant women who are at risk of their babies being removed from their care in the first year of life are far more likely to have had mental health problems compared with other expectant mothers, a report has found.

A study of more than 1,000 women in Wales who were subject to care proceedings found that just over half reported an existing mental health condition at their initial antenatal assessment, and three-quarters had a GP or hospital contact or admission related to mental health at some point prior to their child’s birth.

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June 17th 2020, 1:30 am

Women stage 'mass scream' in Switzerland over domestic violence and gender pay gap

Women | The Guardian

Thousands of marchers screamed for a minute at 3.24pm – the time of day when women in effect start working without pay

Women across Switzerland have let loose with screams during a national protest demanding equal treatment and an end to violence at the hands of men.

Last year half a million people marched to highlight the nation’s poor record on women’s rights. This year’s version of what organisers call the Women’s Strike was more subdued on Sunday due to coronavirus restrictions.

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June 14th 2020, 9:20 pm

Doctors accused of blocking abortions in Northern Ireland despite legalisation

Women | The Guardian

Patients forced to buy pills online or go overseas for terminations

Women seeking abortions in Northern Ireland are still struggling to access services. Although abortion was legalised more than two months ago, claims persist that healthcare professionals are refusing to treat patients.

A leading reproductive rights group and a doctors’ organisation say that GPs are refusing to refer pregnant women to hospital services so they can access the tablets needed to undergo a medical abortion. They are also aware of midwives and nurses refusing to care for patients before and after the procedure.

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June 13th 2020, 7:53 am

Why is JK Rowling speaking out now on sex and gender debate?

Women | The Guardian

What are implications of Harry Potter author’s detailed essay expressing views on transgender law reform?

The Harry Potter author has published a 3,600-word essay which sets out in more detail than before the development of her already well-known stance on sex and gender debates. In it, she reveals for the first time her own experience of serious sexual assault and domestic violence which, Rowling explains, she felt compelled to write about after reading of the Scottish government’s latest progress towards reform of gender recognition laws.

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June 11th 2020, 1:08 pm

Chile's women's minister, Pinochet's great-niece, resigns following backlash

Women | The Guardian

Macarena Santelices oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend

Chile’s women and gender minister, a great-niece of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, has resigned after just a month following a furious backlash to her appointment and a string of misssteps in office.

Macarena Santelices stood down on Tuesday, tweeting: “The day it is understood that women’s rights are not political – that they belong to all and for all – we can move forward.”

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June 9th 2020, 3:50 pm

Domestic violence victim denied legal aid seeks judicial review

Women | The Guardian

Woman contests rules that could force her to cross-examine ex-partner in court

A victim of domestic violence, who is surviving on universal credit but has been denied legal aid in a battle to hold on to her home, is challenging strict regulations that could force her to cross-examine her former partner in court.

The woman, known as Claire (not her real name), has launched a judicial review of the refusal to provide funding made by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). Without legal aid, she cannot pay for a lawyer and will have no option but to represent herself. Her challenge will be heard in the high court on Tuesday.

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June 9th 2020, 4:16 am

Sexist forum posts hundreds of private images of Australian female journalists and celebrities

Women | The Guardian

Women whose social media pictures were uploaded to the site say they feel ‘violated’ by intrusion on their privacy

Female journalists say they feel “violated” by a sexist forum that has been posting personal images and lewd comments about women in the Australian media industry for more than a decade.

Hundreds of high-profile journalists and emerging reporters have had their images uploaded onto the forum, which also posts suggestive images of Australian actresses, female sports stars and models.

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June 6th 2020, 4:12 pm

New Zealand tackles 'period poverty' with free sanitary products for all schoolgirls

Women | The Guardian

More than 90,000 girls stay away from school because they cannot afford pad or tampons, Jacinda Ardern says

Girls in New Zealand high schools will no longer have to pay for sanitary products after the government announced it would foot the bill in an attempt to stamp out widespread period poverty.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity and too many girls were skipping school because they weren’t able to afford pads and tampons.

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June 3rd 2020, 1:11 am

‘Many girls have been cut’: how global school closures left children at risk

Women | The Guardian

Covid-19 lockdown made children vulnerable to abuses including FGM and child marriage say NGOs, as schools in England prepare to reopen

Covid-19 school closures have exposed children around the world to human rights abuses such as forced genital mutilation, early marriage and sexual violence, child protection experts say.

Globally, the World Bank estimates that 1.6 billion children were locked out of education by Covid-19. As schools in England and around the world prepare to reopen this week, NGOs warn that millions of the world’s most vulnerable children may never return to the classroom, and say that after decades fighting for girls’ education the pandemic could cause gender equality in education to be set back decades.

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June 1st 2020, 3:27 am

Covid-19 crisis could set women back decades, experts fear

Women | The Guardian

Concerns 50 years of progress could be put into reverse unless government intervenes

The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on gender equality and could set women back decades, experts have said on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. 

In a week during which it was revealed that women are bearing the brunt of extra childcare and housework and are losing jobs in greater numbers than men, campaigners, politicians and work experts said a dearth of female voices at the heart of government also risks putting 50 years of progress into reverse. 

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May 29th 2020, 2:36 am

'We are losers in this crisis': research finds lockdowns reinforcing gender inequality

Women | The Guardian

Campaign groups warn women across Europe risk being pushed back into traditional roles

Life during the coronavirus lockdown has reinforced gender inequality across Europe with research emphasising that the economic and social consequences of the crisis are far greater for women and threaten to push them back into traditional roles in the home which they will struggle to shake off once it is over.

Throughout the continent, campaign groups are warning that the burdens of the home office and home schooling together with additional household duties and extra cooking, has been unequally carried by women and that improvements made in their lives by the growth in equality over the past decades are in danger of being rolled back by the health crisis.

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May 29th 2020, 12:19 am

Argentina's abortion campaign launches virtual events to revitalise movement

Women | The Guardian

Activists seemed on the brink of victory when they were stalled by the pandemic and a historic bill wasn’t formally introduced

Feminists in Argentina like to say: “la lucha está en la calle” — the battle is in the streets.  But with the country under a strict coronavirus lockdown, the women’s movement can no longer flood the streets.

So on Thursday, activists have planned a series of virtual events to mark 15 years of their campaign to legalize abortion – and inject new momentum into a campaign which was stalled by the pandemic, just as it seemed on the brink of victory.

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May 28th 2020, 12:44 pm

MPs bring bill to ban late abortions for cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot

Women | The Guardian

Cross-party group proposes ending UK abortions after 24 weeks for minor disabilities

Abortion laws in Britain could be changed under cross-party proposals to ban late terminations on the grounds of minor physical abnormalities.

The abortion (cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot) bill, led by the Conservative MP Fiona Bruce and supported by 13 MPs, will be presented in parliament on 3 June.

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May 28th 2020, 11:58 am

Working mothers interrupted more often than fathers in lockdown – study

Women | The Guardian

Mothers are more likely to have lost jobs and are doing more childcare and housework

Working mothers have been able to do only one hour of uninterrupted paid work for every three hours done by men during lockdown, according to a study that exposes the work imbalance between men and women. 

A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education also says mothers are more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs during lockdown, increasing fears that the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated inequality and could lead to the gender pay gap increasing.

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May 27th 2020, 7:25 am

Gloria Steinem says TV drama of 1970s feminist history ‘ridiculous'

Women | The Guardian

In interview for Hay festival feminist writer says Mrs America misrepresents equal rights movement

It stars Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne in a glossy, big-budget TV account of 1970s feminist history but one key player who was there, Gloria Steinem, is withering: it is ridiculous, undermining and just not very good, she said on Friday.

Steinem, arguably the world’s most famous feminist, has revealed she is not a fan of the new Hulu TV show Mrs America, which premiered in the US last month and is coming to BBC2 in the UK later in the year.

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May 22nd 2020, 10:41 am

'Where are the women?' Outcry over all-male government meeting in Afghanistan

Women | The Guardian

Tweet showed 12 male political leaders after Ghani promised women would be involved in high-level decision-making

People in Afghanistan protested on social media that no women were present at a high-level government meeting, despite assurances from the president that they would be involved in important decision-making roles.

The outcry followed a tweeted photo of a meeting of 12 political leaders at the presidential palace – all of them men.

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May 22nd 2020, 9:26 am

UK women bear emotional brunt of Covid-19 turmoil – poll

Women | The Guardian

Results show women disproportionately affected by employment and risk concerns amid pandemic

Women in the UK are bearing the emotional brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, experiencing greater anxiety about its impact than men, polling has found. Although men are more likely to die from Covid-19, research by Ipsos Mori and the Fawcett Society found women were disproportionately affected in other ways.

Six out of 10 women said they were finding it hard to stay positive day-to-day, compared with just under half of men. Half of women were very concerned about the risk the virus posed to the country, compared with a third of men. Women were also more likely to have their employment impacted, with a third saying their workplaces had been closed, compared with a quarter of men.

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May 20th 2020, 3:06 am

FGM risk in Somalia 'heightened by coronavirus crisis'

Women | The Guardian

Female genital mutilation being inflicted on girls stuck at home, say campaigners

Somalia’s coronavirus lockdown has led to a huge increase in female genital mutilation (FGM), with circumcisers going door to door offering to cut girls stuck at home during the pandemic, according to Plan International.

The crisis is undermining efforts to eradicate the practice in Somalia, which has the world’s highest FGM rate, with about 98% of women having been cut, the charity warned.

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May 18th 2020, 4:08 pm

Florence Pugh and Simon Armitage record lockdown poem together

Women | The Guardian

Collaboration is a recording of the poet laureate’s Lockdown set to music, with proceeds donated to the domestic abuse charity Refuge

Simon Armitage, the poet laureate, has joined forces with the actor Florence Pugh for a charity release of his poem about coronavirus crisis. Lockdown, first published in March, has been set to music and will be sold to help raise money for the domestic abuse charity Refuge.

It features Armitage and Pugh reading the lines to music that starts ominously, and becomes more hypnotic and euphoric. Armitage has been making tracks of his poems with collaborators Richard Walters and Patrick K Pearson, collectively known as LYR, for a couple of years. The involvement of Pugh – nominated at the Oscars and Baftas for her role in Little Women this year – was wonderful, he said. “She brings such intelligence and crackle.”

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May 14th 2020, 12:19 am

Portrait of studious woman revealed to be of Millicent Fawcett

Women | The Guardian

Painting of suffragist working at her desk was misidentified as Royal Holloway ex-principal

A Victorian painting of a studious young woman working at her desk has emerged as a lost portrait of one of the most important figures in the British women’s rights movement history, the suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

The artwork in the collection of Royal Holloway, University of London, has long been identified as a depiction of another pioneer, but far less well-known figure, Dame Emily Penrose. There is even a plaque on its frame saying it is Penrose.

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May 13th 2020, 9:53 am

Naming of Pinochet's great-niece as Chile women's minister sparks outrage

Women | The Guardian

Macarena Santelices has praised the ‘good side’ of the 1973-90 dictatorship in which over 300 women were raped under torture

Chile’s rightwing president, Sebastián Piñera, has prompted a firestorm of criticism after naming an open supporter of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship as the country’s new minister for women’s rights and gender equality.

Controversy over the appointment of Macarena Santelices – who is also the dictators’s great-niece – has focused on a 2016 interview in which she praised the “good side” of the 1973-90 dictatorship in which more than 3,000 people were murdered or disappeared by security forces and many thousands more imprisoned and tortured.

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May 8th 2020, 5:14 am

My four miscarriages: why is losing a pregnancy so shrouded in mystery?

Women | The Guardian

After losing four pregnancies, Jennie Agg set out to unravel the science of miscarriage. Then, a few months in, she found out she was pregnant again – just as the coronavirus pandemic hit

I stepped out of Oxford Circus tube into mid-morning crowds and cold, bright sunshine. The consultant’s words were still ringing in my ears. “Nothing.” How could the answer be nothing? This was January 2018, six months since my third miscarriage, a symptomless, rather businesslike affair, diagnosed at an early scan. The previous November, I’d undergone a series of investigations into possible reasons why I’d lost this baby and the two before it.

That morning, we had gone to discuss the results at the specialist NHS clinic we’d been referred to after officially joining the one in 100 couples who lose three or more pregnancies. I had barely removed my coat before the doctor started rattling off the things I had tested negative for: antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, Factor V Leiden, prothrombin gene mutation.

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May 5th 2020, 1:13 am

Specialist support centre for female offenders to open in Wales

Women | The Guardian

MoJ to work with Welsh government with the aim of opening site by end of 2021

A specialist centre providing accommodation and support to female offenders is to open in Wales as part of the government’s strategy to send fewer women to prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The first residential women’s centre will help women who otherwise would have been sent to jail by providing services that deal with underlying causes of offending, such as substance misuse and mental health problems.

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May 4th 2020, 7:25 pm

Women launch legal action to stop military courts trying UK rape cases

Women | The Guardian

Exclusive: Two women from army and one from navy point to much lower conviction rate at courts martial

Three women serving in the armed forces have begun legal action aimed at preventing the military courts from trying UK rape cases, complaining that the conviction rate is five to six times lower than in civilian courts.

They are seeking a judicial review after the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in February he was ignoring a recommendation that rape and other serious cases involving the military in the UK should routinely be handled by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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May 3rd 2020, 11:51 am

Russian author defends gulag-era story as TV series provokes backlash

Women | The Guardian

Literary star Guzel Yakhina shocked by emotional ‘cabin fever’ response to dramatisation

The Russian novelist Guzel Yakhina had learned to live with the persistent buzz of controversy surrounding her bestselling debut novel, Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes.

Her coming-of-age story of a young woman deported to Siberia during the Stalin-era purges of wealthier peasants, or kulaks, had been picked over for its portrayals of Soviet repressions and national identity in the largely Muslim region of Tatarstan ever since it was published in 2015.

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May 3rd 2020, 3:44 am

New York mother dies after raising alarm on hospital neglect

Women | The Guardian

Amber Rose Isaac died less than four days after tweeting that she should write an exposé on ‘dealing with incompetent doctors’

Amber Rose Isaac tweeted on 17 April about how she would write an exposé on “dealing with incompetent doctors” in the Bronx while pregnant with her first child.

Less than four days later, she was pronounced dead after a caesarean section went wrong. She died alone as New York City battled with coronavirus.

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May 2nd 2020, 1:18 pm

Boots to provide help for domestic abuse victims

Women | The Guardian

Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls

Domestic abuse victims will be able to access safe spaces at Boots pharmacies across the country from Friday under measures to improve access to support during the coronavirus lockdown.

Multiple support services for domestic abuse have reported a surge in calls to helplines since the lockdown was imposed, while the Metropolitan police said it was making an average of about 100 arrests a day for offences linked to abuse in the home.

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April 30th 2020, 7:31 pm

PM's baby can help ease coronavirus pregnancy fears, says top doctor

Women | The Guardian

Obstetrician cites health of Carrie Symonds and son as reassurance for mothers-to-be

The healthy birth of Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds’s son can help provide reassurance for anxious pregnant women, a leading obstetrician has said.

Giving birth can be a cause of anxiety even without a worldwide pandemic. There has also been data – albeit inconclusive – from China suggesting Covid-19 could be increasing the rate of premature births.

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April 29th 2020, 1:12 pm

Three women killed in Spain as coronavirus lockdown sees rise in domestic violence

Women | The Guardian

A steep drop in police reports indicates isolation may be making it harder to get help

It was 2.30am when Daniel Jiménez was woken by his neighbour’s screams. When he went outside his home in the Los Pajarillos neighbourhood of Valladolid in north-east Spain, he saw a woman being dangled from a third-storey window by her husband. Another neighbour rushed out with mattresses to help break her fall but he was too late. She fell to her death.

Although the circumstances of the killing of the 56-year-old woman are still under investigation, the interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, declared it a crime of gender violence, making the woman the third victim of femicide since Spain’s strict lockdown came into force on 14 March.

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April 28th 2020, 9:58 am

Author of book about victim blaming bombarded with misogynist abuse

Women | The Guardian

Dr Jessica Taylor has been speaking about her book Why Women are Blamed for Everything, but has received thousands of abusive messages and seen her computer hacked

A British academic whose new book is about why women are blamed for crimes committed against them has been subjected to thousands of coordinated attacks from alt-right trolls over the last week, culminating in her personal computer being hacked.

Dr Jessica Taylor, a senior lecturer in forensic and criminal psychology, is due to publish her exploration of victim blaming, Why Women are Blamed for Everything, on 27 April. Looking into what causes society to blame women who have been abused, raped, trafficked, assaulted or harassed by men, the book has drawn increasing publicity, including an appearance on Woman’s Hour.

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April 24th 2020, 10:56 am

Sexism on the Covid-19 frontline: 'PPE is made for a 6ft 3in rugby player'

Women | The Guardian

Health professionals, experts and unions say poorly fitting equipment is risking lives of female workers

Some talk of abrasions on their faces caused by having to pull masks too tight, others about having to roll up the sleeves of their fluid-repellent gowns. Some have been left barely able to see, while others have used micropore tape to seal gaps around their jawline. The thing they all have in common? They are trying to save lives – and they are women.

NHS professional bodies, experts and trade unions have warned that female healthcare workers’ lives are being put at risk because personal protective equipment is designed for men. As one frontline NHS worker put it: “PPE is designed for a 6 foot 3 inch bloke built like a rugby player.”

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April 24th 2020, 9:03 am

'Every abuser is more volatile': the truth behind the shocking rise of domestic violence killings

Women | The Guardian

In the UK, the number of domestic killings has doubled during lockdown and frontline services report record-breaking cries for help. Here’s why the violence has increased – and what you can do to help victims

Alison Young lived in lockdown long before Covid-19. For most of her eight-year marriage, her controlling husband only allowed her to leave the house for “authorised trips”. “That was invariably food shopping and, when I got back, he always checked the receipts, the mileage and searched the car for crumbs in case I’d eaten when I was out, which I wasn’t allowed to do,” she says.

“If you bent the rules or argued back, you didn’t know how he’d react. Sometimes, he’d let me laugh it off, other times, he’d have a knife at my throat – so the fear never left. It was either just under the surface or spilling out of every pore.”

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April 22nd 2020, 5:09 am

Polish parliament delays decision on new abortion restrictions

Women | The Guardian

Proposal would ban terminations even on grounds of serious foetal abnormalities

Poland’s parliament has deferred a final decision on a bill that seeks to tighten the country’s already strict abortion legislation.

The bill would outlaw abortion on the grounds of serious foetal abnormalities, one of a small number of exceptions to a near-total ban on abortion currently in place in the country. It has been sent back to a parliamentary committee for further work.

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April 16th 2020, 1:30 pm

UK cases of domestic abuse by female family members double

Women | The Guardian

Despite rise of ‘Cinderella’ abuse offences, men are predominant perpetrators

Cases of “Cinderella” abuse involving attacks by women and girls on family members have risen twice as fast as those by men, new figures show.

The figures from the Metropolitan police, who are investigating a rise in the number of domestic abuse offences committed by female family members, show that domestic abuse offences committed by sisters have doubled from 641 in 2010 to 1,325 in 2018. The numbers have quadrupled for stepsisters and half-sisters from 33 to 142.

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April 14th 2020, 9:05 am
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