TFC’s the Fem Column: International women-centered news update

Raleigh, NC. (TFC) – What’s been going on in the international worlds of women? TFC’s The Fem Column gives you a list of updates on news that’s impacting women around the world from January 2016.

1. The Zika Virus, Latin America and Mexico

After the large Ebola scare, the world has been on its toes for fast-moving and life-altering diseases, where memes and germs go viral. To summarize: the Zika virus is mosquito born and can cause serious brain damage and microcephaly in newborns. There were 2,782 cases of microcephaly in Brazil in 2015, whereas 2014 saw 147 cases, and 2013, 167 cases.

The Zika virus has further implications on the impacts of women’s lives, though. Countries like El Salvador, who’ve had an estimated 2,5000 cases of the Zika virus from April 2015, 2 days ago, abortion is illegal, and birth control is expensive and hard to come by. If anyone in the states was wondering what happens when abortion is illegal, El Salvador would be a decent case study. Women have been jailed in El Salvador for having miscarriages.

This virus is impacting women and their livelihood. Unsafe, back alley abortions cause female mortality rates to rise. Now, in El Salvador, the government is flat out telling women to stop getting pregnant for a few years. With little access to birth control and abortions standing as illegal, how is this a viable government solution to this epidemic?

In Brazil, the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, abortion is only legal if it puts the mother’s life at risk. Punishment for back alley abortions is prison for one to three years. Activists have started petitioning and protesting for an expansion of abortion options in Brazil, citing the Zika virus and the lack of access to birth control as primary concerns for altering the laws.

2. The Olympics changed its requirements for trans participation, International

The International Olympic Committee changed its policy on Transgender inclusion in Olympic games. Due to the policy change, Transgender people are allowed to participate in the games without undergoing secondary sex reassignment surgery. In other words: men with penises can participate in female games.

This has heavier implications for women and FtT Olympians because men have actual bodily advantages over women when it comes to the games, such as height, muscle mass and the impacts of testosterone. It’s a big reason why there are segregated games in the first place.

I’ve heard from several online opinioners, who would lie about being trans to get in the Olympics? and to them I say: Are you fucking kidding me? Who would lie to be famous? Is that a real question in 2016? People go through actual reconstructive surgeries to be famous that have nothing to do with gender dysphoria. This is just another way women’s spaces are being infiltrated by men according to the trans agenda. Here’s hoping that women will still have a solid platform to compete on in the Olympics before this liberal policymaking runs amok.

3. Meet-up for Rape Legalization of Females, International

You might think this was a joke if you don’t have a news feed that looks like mine does, because this is a solid 50% of the outrage that I’ve seen in the past couple of days. It’s totally true, there are actual dudes who will be attending protests in 42 countries, and 33 states right here in the US, to talk about their desire to make rape legal.

Daryush Valizadehor Roosh V, the villainous face of this antiwoman movement, has written books like Bang Iceland which Femínistafélag Íslands condemned as a “rape guide.” Roosh V is blatant about his views of rape on his website,, where he states, “I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property”, and, “Without daddy government to protect her, a girl would absolutely not enter a private room with a man she doesn’t know or trust unless she is absolutely sure she is ready to sleep with him. Consent is now achieved when she passes underneath the room’s door frame, because she knows that that man can legally do anything he wants to her when it comes to sex. Bad encounters are sure to occur, but these can be learning experiences for the poorly trained woman […]”.

It shouldn’t be surprising when looking at rape statistics that there are men from 42 countries and 33 states in the US who agree with RooshV. Funny enough, RooshV and his fanbase don’t mention that raping men should be illegal as well, and his distinctly gendered pro-rape message says a lot about how he knows the world to work: men are the sexual predators, and women are the victims. So, who’s gonna ask this guy if it’s okay if we rape him when/if he ever got a law passed?

4. Jacquline Sauvage pardoned for killing her abusive husband, France

This makes The Fem Column‘s international news summary simply because of one thing: justice. Women who fight back against their abusers, even one woman who just fired a warning shot, are often not believed about the abuse they face and are subsequently incarcerated.

Incarceration is really the least of it though, as independent studies have shown over the years, women’s human rights are completely ignored in prisons all over the world, “from Russia to Canada, France to Australia.” The abuse likely doesn’t end even after a woman has ended the life of her primary abuser in self defense. One would think that high security prisons, where absolutely everything is surveilled, kept on strict schedules, and highly monitored, would be the one place where social order would be able to be maintained. Sadly, this is not the case, and women who stand up to their abusers face a hard road of legal battles, human rights violations, and abuse.

But the French President Francios Hollande pardoned Sauvage, what France 24’s news network called “rare.” In a statement, the President’s office said he did this “in the face of an exceptional human situation.” The hard thing is, though, this is not exceptional. Violence against women is commonplace, even socially accepted. Fem solutes Hollande for this pardon, but calls him out for being woefully misinformed about the normalcy in this kind of a case.

5. Gyanna McMillen, 16, died in Police Custody, United States

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As the activist fight against police brutality rages on, spearheaded by black activists from Black Lives Matter and Campaign Zero, another young life was taken in the hands of police custody. The body count is sickening. This time, it was an underaged girl, Gyanna McMillen.

It was first reported that she died in her sleep, but soon the real story came out: a guard used a martial arts restraint against her, left her for the night ignoring scheduled checkups, and tried to wake her with verbal commands several times before checking her body. The injustices mount up much like in the viral case of Sandra Bland, the only difference is how much younger McMillen was. But it is no surprise for this kind of treatment to be found against young people, young girls, and especially black girls, in the States, where police violence against black children is a social phenomenon we all watch from the comfort of our screens.

Grand juries don’t usually indict on these kinds of charges, Bland’s family has sought justice and not had much luck. When will state sanctioned, systematic violence against black girls be addressed as the crisis that it is? How many girls have to be killed before we do something about it? Rest in power, Gyanna.

6. Women are attacked, tensions mount from refugee crisis, Germany

On New Year’s in Cologne, it’s been reported that gangs of men sexually assaulted, cornered, and robbed women. These reports were written off by police and the media in the days following the attacks, so women took to the streets in protest. Another prime example that if you don’t use disruption tactics, no one can hear you.

On the flip side, these attacks are mounting tensions in the region based on Germany’s acceptance of refugees, as the men who attacked these women are thought to be of Middle Eastern descent. While this raises a lot of questions about keeping women safe in the wake of these mass social movements, where women are more vulnerable in general, it also turns the tide of sentiment against a population that is largely made up of women and children.

So how do we protect all women from male violence, and not just get caught up in political rhetoric?

7. Horrific violence against women in ISIS ignored by media, Syria, Iran

When the media talks about ISIS and Islamic-inspired violence, women are largely left out of the story. Public killings, political prisoners and recruitment tactics are most of the focus, as well as calls of Islamophobia from the left, both of which leave trafficked and abused women out in the cold.

The violence women face in the Islamic State is too difficult to stomach, and even, difficult to fathom. Women and girls in the Islamic State are taken as sex slaves and passed around as rewards to fighters, or sold. Women and girls are raped by these men, beaten by these men if they resist, live in servitude of these men, and ordered to convert to Islam. As writer Kyle Orton reported for Verily, for these women, it’s hell on earth.

Of these women, some were recruited by manipulative means, and social media used to specifically target women, but others were taken from their homes, their families butchered in front of them. When the “U.N. Resolution 1820 specifically identifies sexual violence as a tool of war. U.N. Resolution 1325 […] admitted that women bear the brunt of war,” Reports Manal Omar from the United States Institute of Peace.

As the war against ISIS rages on, it’s ignored that selling women and children into sex slavery is one of their means of making money for the Caliphate. My guess would be, it’s heavily ignored because the demand is so large. Sex trafficking is a world-wide crisis, which has world-wide buyers.

Women locked in the throws of male violence and horror, just another day in the 21st century.

Charles Rae writes about social justice and power dynamics. Follow more women-centered news at TFC’s the Fem Column: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.