Saudi Arabia’s Arbitrary Jailing of Women Activists, And More Feminist News

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Saudi Arabia’s Arbitrary Governance

Much is being made of the human rights record of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Women’s rights activists are speaking out to human rights advisors and the press about the Kingdom’s arbitrary treatments of women and those denouncing injustices. In a Wall Street Journal’s article, Margherita Stancati and Summer Said write about those mistreatments “saudi security officers physically abused them, including by electrocution, lashing and sexual harassment.” Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi activist, has been detained for over a 100 days alongside 9 other activists. Concerns for the safety of the detainees are rising, as the Kingdom recently sought death sentence for activist Israa al-Ghomgham for mere incitement to protest and providing moral support to rioters.

House of Representative Gender Count: Republican vs. Democrat

On the Year of the Woman, as 2018 closes. There are only 13 Republican women in the House of Representatives, the lowest number in two decades. "Keep in mind that the House GOP caucus is more than 90 percent male," writes Juan Williams. Contrast that with Democrats, who won nearly half — 47 percent — of their races. Republicans won just 24 percent of their races. Williams continues: "There will be 89 Democratic women in the House next year — 35 newly elected in the midterms, including the first two Muslim congresswomen and the first two Native American congresswomen.” He concludes: “The GOP has only one woman in an overwhelmingly white freshman class."

The gender gap between the Democrat and Republican parties is even worse than the initial numbers suggest. Just as the Republican party is appearing to be more exclusive, the Democrat Party looks like a paradise for the advancement of women. “According to exit polls, the gender gap was 12 percentage points in the midterm elections as female voters favored Democrats over Republicans,” write Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez. “The last time women voted for Democrats by anywhere near that margin was 1982, when the gap was 17 points.” Also: there will be only one woman in the Republican Congressional leadership – Liz Cheney – and a single ranking Committee chair. By contrast, the Democrats will have four female committee chairs as well as Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Finally, the Speaker of the House of Representatives will be a woman and at least four women are running for President in 2020.

Gender Parity: Lessons From European Film Industry

How do Europeans achieve greater gender parity in their film industry? "It’s much easier when you have a public funder because you can really demand equality since there are as many women paying taxes as men,” Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, told The Hollywood Reporter. “The European film industry should have an easier time pursuing gender equality than Hollywood, panelists suggested at a roundtable on the subject as part of the 31st annual European Film Awards weekend in Seville, Spain.” Rebecca O’Brien, from the UK and a member of the EFA board, “pointed to the British Film Institute’s diversity standards for on- and offscreen representation, creative leadership, industry access and training opportunities, and distribution and exhibition strategies. The standards are now a requirement for the majority of public funding for film in the U.K., have been adopted by Film4 and BBC Films, and also are an eligibility requirement for several top BAFTA categories.”

Jezebel: Most Inspiring Women of 2018

Jezebel just posted their annual Most Inspiring Women of 2018 list. Inspiring names included: #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Christine Blasey Ford, Ariana Grande, The eight-year-old Swedish girl who pulled a Viking sword out of a lake and, of course, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, who cornered Senator Jeff Flake in the Senate elevator. Regarding that now legendary elevator conversation: "My greatest hope for 2019 is more women yelling at men in elevators," writes Tracy Clark-Flory, journalist at Jezebel. Some names she wishes were included are: Meghan Markle, who delivered a fantastic feminist declaration, author Nadifa Mohamed, Minna Salami, founder of the MsAfropolitan blog, Ashley Judd and Margaret Atwood, who is publishing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale in 2019.

#MeToo Across the World

If 2017 is the year that the #MeToo movement exploded in America, then 2018 is the year that the #MeToo social media movement went global. "From Stockholm to Seoul, from Toronto to Tokyo, a torrent of accusations has poured forth,” writes Amanda Erickson in The Washington Post. “Survivors spoke out, and many were taken seriously. Powerful men lost their jobs. A few went to prison. How diverse societies — some liberal, others conservative — saw sexual harassment seemed to be changing.” Some countries that experienced a peak of the #MeToo movement this year are: India, China, Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan and Australia.

Argentina is the latest South American country wrestling with sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Argentinian actress Thelma Fardin, now 26 years old, accused Juan Darthés of raping her in 2009 when she was 16 and he was 45. "The accusations drew outrage on social media where tens of thousands have used the hashtag #MiraComoNosPonemos— which can be loosely translated as, ‘look at what you do to us,’ and is a variant of a phrase Ms. Fardin said her attacker had used — to share their own experiences and express solidarity with sexual assault survivors,” write Daniel Politi and Megan Specia for The New York Times. “The movement is seen as the country’s answer to the global #MeToo reckoning.”

Author Ron Mwangaguhunga. Cover photo via Time