From Iraq to North Dakota: The Global Sex-Trafficking Crisis

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Recent reports have surfaced about the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), an extremist group that has overtaken territories in Northern Iraq and Syria. Video footage appears to show ISIS men sitting around talking and laughing before they bid to purchase women and girls; price tables for […]

Ending the Rape Kit Backlog: What’s the Price of a Survivor’s Peace of Mind?

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A nationwide investigation spearheaded by USA Today has found that at least 70,000 rape kits sit untested in laboratories around the country. While Detroit and other cities have made headlines for their determination to clear rape kit backlogs (in Detroit’s case, only after the Department of Justice found its police department guilty of “negative, victim-blaming beliefs” in 2008) this […]

Kimberlé Crenshaw on Sandra Bland & Why We Need to #SayHerName

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The jailhouse death of Sandra Bland has her family and activists asking a lot of questions—which don’t seem to have good answers. Bland’s case is the latest example of police violence against black women, joining many other women and girls of color who have been harassed, abused or killed at the hands of law enforcement. […]

Bill Cosby Clearly Doesn’t Understand Consent

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This past weekend, a 10-year old deposition offered stunning new revelations about Bill Cosby’s sexual encounters from the 1970s onward. Obtained by The New York Times, the document is part of a civil suit filed against Cosby by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, and it shows that Cosby’s understanding of consent is highly questionable—at best. Constand first met Cosby […]

What You Won’t See on Orange Is the New Black

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When I heard that Piper Kerman wrote the book Orange is the New Black about her experience at the Danbury, Connecticut federal prison camp, I was excited. I served part of my 15-year sentence with her and I found the book an accurate snapshot of Danbury FPC. (Full disclosure: I am “Esposito” in Piper’s book.) […]

When an Unwanted Pregnancy Lands You Behind Bars

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Kenlissia Jones did what many women before her have done. Facing a pregnancy she could not or did not want to continue, Jones, a 23-year-old black woman from Georgia, went online in search of a solution. There, she purchased Cytotec, a prescription abortion-inducing pill, from a pharmaceutical company in Canada. She delivered a five and […]

Women’s Health Is in the Hands of the Supreme Court

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OK, I admit it. I’ve become obsessed with SCOTUS Blog. During the last week, I’ve spent hours at my computer, watching lawyers live blog as the Supreme Court announced its decisions. I’m a passionate women’s health activist, and this is not where I wanted to be spending my time. No complaints about SCOTUS Blog itself. […]

Passing the Test: Cities Chip In to Reduce the Rape Kit Backlog

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The following is from the latest Ms. To read the entire issue, get a print or digital subscription today! Helena Lazaro was washing the vintage Volkswagen Rabbit she had been gifted for her 17th birthday when a man appeared next to her, brandishing a knife. He forced her into the car and made her drive […]

Say Their Names

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I’m still reeling from the shock of the massacre that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the oldest black churches in this nation, its history is one of resistance and solace. And this history continues to bear witness to the horrors of white supremacy with the recent murders of nine African […]

A Girl Child Ain’t Safe

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“I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.” So said Sofia, the hefty, feisty woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (and immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation). In a novel highlighting protagonist Celie, an incest survivor who ultimately […]