The sexual harassment and discrimination that women in India often face has been well documented in this newsletter. Their ill treatment stems from “an extremely patriarchal way of thinking,” Anshul Tewari, founder and editor in chief of content publishing site Youth Ki Awaaz, told me recently. And those attitudes easily translate from the real world to the virtual one.
Many men feel that they command power over women, even in an online setting, Tewari says. One rampant problem is the unsolicited online messages that women receive on social media from men who try to befriend or control them. Pushback against such advances has, in some instances, prompted men to download women’s photos, create fake profiles based on the woman’s identity and post unflattering, even pornographic, content, Tewari says.
“There’s not clear information on how much it happens,” he says, but “a lot of people are struggling [with it].”
Facebook has caught on to this problem through research that showed that many women in India are uncomfortable posting profile pictures of themselves for fear they’ll be misused. So the social network introduced new tools late Wednesday that it hopes will make its female users there feel safer on the platform.
The new features will give users more control over who can download and share their profile photos—images that Facebook users can often see even if they’re not friends with the person pictured. The first feature is a photo guard that users can trigger that will keep others from being able to download, share, or send the photo in a Facebook message. The second feature is a design overlay that a woman can put on her profile picture, which, according to Facebook’s research, makes other users 75% less likely to copy it.
In explaining the rationale behind the two new tools, Facebook product manager Aarati Soman pointed to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s February manifesto, which called for the creation of a worldwide community. In it, he also mentioned the “real opportunity to build global safety infrastructure.” Soman says that in India in particular, the risk of photo misuse “is a top-of-mind concern for women.”
“A lot of what affects women offline affects women online,” she says.
|U.K. Labour MP Diane Abbott was the target of many Conservative attacks during the general election campaign this spring. At an event on Wednesday commemorating the 30-year anniversary of her becoming Britain’s first black female MP, she admitted that the abuse left a mark. “It was a tough campaign, and contrary to what you’ve heard about strong black women, even strong black women cry,” she said.|
|Skirting the issue|
|Bus drivers in the French city of Nantes asked to wear shorts as temperatures soared to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and their request was shot down. So they donned skirts—which their dress code allows—instead.|
|Staying in school|
|Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an amendment to the country’s education act this week that will give “free sufficient and quality sanitary towels” to every girl registered at school. The move is aimed at improving girls’ access to education. According to the UN, one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period, with some girls losing 20% of their education for this reason.|
|In a little-noticed decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a law that based a foreign-born child’s path to citizenship on whether his or her citizen-parent is the mother or the father. In an opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, six justices held that the differential treatment of mothers and fathers violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.|
|New York Times|
|The Trump treatment|
|Two Trump hotels—one in Vancouver and one in Washington, D.C.—feature spas “by Ivanka Trump,” the only facilities that bear her full name. Both opened in the past nine months, leveraging her sudden global profile to sell an experience—lavender-infused towels, tangerine and fig butter cream, Babor skincare products—that she curated. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said Ivanka Trump has taken a leave of absence from her role within the company, but her design influence on the spa business remains.|
|Keep your comments to yourself|
|It seems as though men cannot spot commenting on the body of gymnast Aly Raisman. When the three-time gold medalist appeared onstage with hockey legend Marcel Dionne at the NHL awards, he gestured toward Raisman and told the audience: “Look at those legs!” Raisman responded with an awkward laugh. The Olympian has spoken out before about the unwanted attention she gets because of her physique. In May, she criticized an airport worker who had questioned whether she was muscular enough to be a gymnast.|
|Like so many universities worldwide, Australian institutions are grappling with the issue of on-campus sexual assault and harassment. Each new scandal is prompting more women to speak out, but they often experience retaliation because they’re sometimes seen as suppressing what Australians consider a core element of the country’s identity: its hypermasculine culture.|
|New York Times|
|A mom, multitasking|
|Australian Senator Larissa Waters made history in May when she became the first federal female politician to breastfeed in parliament. She achieved another first on Thursday, when she breastfed while delivering a speech before the body. “First time I’ve had to move a Senate motion while breastfeeding!” she tweeted afterwards. “And my partner in crime moved her own motion just before mine, bless her.”|