By Claire Zillman
August 24, 2017

U.K. Labour MP Chris Williamson likely didn’t know what he was getting himself into. (And that’s part of the problem.)

After reviewing a British Transport Police report that showed 1,448 sexual offenses on trains in 2016-2017—more than double the total from four years ago—he suggested exploring the idea of female-only train carriages to create “safe spaces” for women.

To be fair, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn floated this same policy in 2015, but later dropped it; perhaps the backlash Williamson received explains why.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said Williamson’s proposal was an “absolutely terrible idea.”

“It is essentially giving up on trying to prosecute assaults,” she said.

Former Labour Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis dismissed the idea, saying women would find it “grossly insulting.”

Indeed, someone was so offended that he or she posted a sign on Williamson’s office door that mocked his proposal: “Woman? Sexually harassed at work? How about working on your own floor?”

While countries like Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and India have piloted women-only transportation to cut down on assault and harassment, the approach is a version of victim-blaming. Rather than policing wrongdoing, it lets bad actors off the hook. Instead of demanding a change in attitude and behavior, it put the onus on women to cordon themselves off, lest they tempt men into issuing a sexist quip or committing an abusive act.

As Labour MP Stella Creasy put it: “We need to be clear [that the attackers] are the problem, not women’s seating plans.”

—@clairezillman


EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Just a little bit
As her bid for a fourth term heats up, German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to be baited into bashing Donald Trump. Whereas her challenger Martin Schulz has referred to the U.S. president as an “irresponsible man,” Merkel said that Trump “should be shown the appropriate respect, regardless of how I assess his views.”
Reuters
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Seeking protection
A new report shows that the prevalence of HIV in Uganda is more than 3% higher among women than men. While overall rates have declined, women remain disproportionately affected by the epidemic, in part because they are more likely to face discrimination when seeking preventative measures, such as condoms.
Guardian
.
Family affair
Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of ousted Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif (who’s running for her husband’s vacant parliamentary seat), has been diagnosed with lymphoma. She’s expected to undergo treatment immediately and doctors are hopeful about her prognosis since they caught the cancer early. Her daughter Maryam, once considered an up-and-coming political figure in her own right, will take over the campaign during her mother’s treatment.
BBC

THE AMERICAS

An open book
In an excerpt of her new book that’s been touted as a candid account of the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton delivered the goods, writing that Donald Trump attempted to “intimidate” her during the second presidential debate by standing behind her as she answered questions. “It was incredibly uncomfortable,” she writes. “He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. … What would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say, loudly and clearly, back up you creep!”
Fortune
.
Sinking like a stone
Emma Stone topped Forbes’ highest-paid actress list this year after earning $26 million in 2017, thanks in part to her role in the critically-acclaimed La La Land. But compared to the world’s highest-paid actors overall—male and female—she ranks No. 15.
Fortune
.
Still stings
Dating app Bumble, which requires women to make the first move, reportedly turned down a $450 million acquisition offer from Match Group. The bid may have undervalued Bumble, but there’s also this factor to consider: a sale to Match would have sent Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe back to the company she sued three years ago.
Forbes

ASIA-PACIFIC

Giving an ultimatum
Asian American groups are urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to either condemn the acts of white supremacists or resign. Chao, an immigrant from Taiwan, called the Charlottesville riots a display of “hateful behavior” that was un-American, but she didn’t distance herself from the president or call out the white supremacists involved in the violence specifically.
Huffington Post
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Pucker up
After Opportunities Party founder and leader Gareth Morgan of New Zealand tweeted that new Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern “should be required to show she’s more than lipstick on a pig,” female Kiwis used the hashtag #lipstickonapig to post photos of themselves pouting for the camera as a way to call out Morgan’s apparent sexism. Morgan refused to apologize for his remark, saying he was referring to the Labour Party as a whole, not Ardern specifically.
Huffington Post

IN BRIEF

Taylor Swift announces new album ‘Reputation’
Entertainment Weekly
Fired Google engineer hires lawyer shortlisted as Trump nominee
Fortune
Melania Trump thanks Chelsea Clinton for defending her son from Internet trolls
Fortune
The changing face of beauty in Northeast India
National Geographic
How one family inspired a football revolution for girls in a village in Pakistan
Guardian
New research is taking women’s sexual pleasure seriously
The Cut

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