This Week in Women: It’s Long Past Time We Took Gender-Based Crimes More Seriously

This Week in Women is part of a series produced in partnership between Ms. and the Fuller Project for International Reporting. This column is also part of a newsletter; sign up here to receive it regularly.

Gender-Based Crimes—and Places Where Gender Diversity is Still Absent

Two articles from very different countries grappled this week with how seriously we ought to take “gender-based” crimes. An Islamist in Mali is being tried by the International Criminal Court in a “groundbreaking case” for forcing hundreds of women into sexual slavery. Meanwhile, Trump is going the other direction. In Tuesday’s Politico, Julia Preston reported that domestic violence may no longer be cited as legal justification for those seeking asylum.

On Thursday, 32 male US senators joined 22 female senators by signing a letter demanding changes to how Congress handles sexual misconduct. Remember last fall when we all learned about the convoluted and lengthy process for reporting sexual assault? These changes could make members personally liable for misconduct.

“Nothing like this has happened before in human history.” So begins Thursday’s Washington Post story on the deep and vast gender imbalance across China and India, with an estimated 70 million more men than women due to femicide, abortion of female fetuses and other factors. The complications are enormous, and only just being felt.

Negotiations to end the 68-year conflict between North and South Korea pushed forward this week with almost no women at the table. On Thursday, North Korea dropped a requirement that the US remove nearly 30,000 troops from South Korea, and Axios reported that Trump is lining up to take full credit for any progress. Meanwhile, a small number of groups continue to point out that leaving women out of negotiations is wrong, and bad strategy. Peace negotiations are 64% less likely to fail when women participate. But sadly this a point sadly not raised in any of the ongoing reporting.

Women were also once left out of combat duties, but can you imagine putting any limits on Tammie Jo Shults? She’s the “steely-nerved” Southwest airlines and former Navy pilot who landed flight 1380 on Tuesday after shrapnel broke a window, and a passenger was fatally sucked partially out.

Other Stories From The Week

Fuller Project spoke at the War Stories Peace Stories Symposium in NYC last week, alongside Lynsey Addario, Sebastian Junger and others. Congratulations to the organizers on a thoughtful day about war, peace and media. (And you can join us for our inaugural Fuller Fete, a fundraiser in Washington DC on May 3rd featuring award-winning photographer Lynsey Addario and Jill Abramson, first female executive editor of the New York Times. For more information and ticket purchase, please see here.)

For the first time, Upstate NY immigration detention center is holding women after a new Trump directive that pregnant undocumented women be detained. More than 500 pregnant immigrant women have been detained. A marriage used to prevent immigration, not anymore. Border patrol detained an undocumented mom on her way to the hospital.

Hillary Clinton spoke at last week’s Women in the World conference with female journalists reporting in Turkey, Russia and China about the rise of “strongmen,” and they shared some brilliant advice. Nikki Haley made sure the world knows: she’s not “confused.”

Kenyan app developers are harnessing technology to take on a gender lens. In rural Kenya, Women Advancement Deeply reported on the women barred from mining gold even on their own land.

Saudi Arabia opened its first public movie theater in 35 years.

If you can, please help support Danielle Villasana’s Kickstarter campaign to publish “A Light Inside,” a photo book about the life-threatening challenges transgender women face throughout Latin America. The book will aim to reach police forces, medical institutions, religious practitioners, and lawmakers—sectors that are often complicit in the abuse against transgender women because of institutional prejudice and lack of understanding.


Christina Asquith is former editor for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World and founder/editor in chief of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, which contributed this story and which works with Peace Is Loud on women, peace and security issues.