This Week in Women: Pushing Back on the Political Debates Over Women’s Lives

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.

This is a Movement—Not a Debate

Immediately after New York attorney general and famed Democrat Eric Schneiderman resigned on Monday over domestic abuse allegations published only hours earlier, we saw a “debate” emerge in media over who is worse to women: Democrats or Republicans. But is this really a political story? Domestic abuse and sexual assault are heinous crimes, not fodder for debate about culture wars and politics.

Some journalists are doing real reporting. USA Today, for example, evidenced that the US military still doesn’t take abuse of women seriously. Other reporting shows that the #MeToo movement hasn’t yet changed anything for too many of the world’s women who are poor, illiterate and employed as garment workers, domestic helpers and agricultural farm hands.

Here’s something else real to report on: The week of May 28th, the International Labour Organization will meet to vote on a possible global convention aimed to end violence and harassment in the workplace by empowering women to hold employers, trade unions and governments to account for harassment or worse. And in Kenya, Reuters reported Thursday that women there are so disinclined to report sexual assault, an NGO has created an app so they can report their rapes confidentially by text.

The nascent convention could spark the beginning of a worldwide legal movement to protect women—and you can read about it in this Op-Ed from The Guardian on Thursday. Stay tuned for more.

Other Stories from This Week

As Attorney General Jeff Sessions ponders keeping out asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence, The Nation reports there’s “a war on women at the US border.”

Children entering the U.S. illegally will be separated from their parents, the Trump administration confirmed this week. Transgender women in the caravan of asylum seekers from Central America are facing discrimination and violence in Mexico, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. Detroit mothers in jail facing deportation just want one thing: to talk to their children. Most of them have no criminal history, according to The Detroit Free Press.

And the detention of pregnant immigrants is “both inhumane and unnecessary,” writes Katharina Obser of the Women’s Refugee Commission in an Op-Ed for the Texas Tribune. Her piece is part of The Fuller Project’s “She Journeys” series on the intersection of U.S. immigration policy and women’s issues.

For every woman in the U.S. who dies in childbirth, 70 women almost die. The latest in a series on maternal mortality from NPR and ProPublica shows that more than 50,000 women almost die each year due to childbirth.

Gina Haspel testified in front of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in an effort to gain confirmation as the first female head of the CIA. Conservatives spent the week painting Democrats as hypocrites for opposing her, while her critics decry her as a proponent of torture. Here’s a good rundown of the details.

This video showing a TV journalist being groped will be way too familiar to many women.

Afghan women may be in danger as the government could take over funding of shelters currently run by NGOs, leaving women vulnerable to abuse.

Has the debate over legalizing abortion in Argentina opened up a new conversation on women’s rights in the South American nation?

Back in the U.S., women donors set a new record for political giving in the midterm Congressional elections. More women than ever before are running for office this year. “More than 36,000 women have reached out to EMILY’s List about running for office since the presidential election,” up from 920 similar requests during the 2016 cycle, USA Today reported Wednesday.




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.