This Week in Women: Solutions to #MeToo Start with Better Representation—in Media and in Politics

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.

Harvey Weinstein was arrested and processed on charges of rape and sexual abuse against two women in New York this morning after turning himself in. Bail was set at $10 million. Authorities in California and London are also investigating Weinstein for sex crimes; Britain has no statute of limitations on rape cases. NYPD thanked the “brave survivors for their courage to come forward.” Live updates via CNN.

Actor Asia Argento delivered a powerful #MeToo revelation about Weinstein last week that left the Cannes Film Festival stunned, challenging the film industry to openly call out perpetrators of rape and sexual misconduct before it’s too late. In India, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that progress is being made to shed light on gritty stories about women and girls with the aim of raising awareness. A new film, Love Sonia, about the real-life story of a young Indian girl who gets trapped in the global sex trade, struggled to get funding because it was too controversial for some. The film, starring Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto and Demi Moore, will finally premiere in June as it opens Europe’s largest South Asian cinema gathering.

On Saturday, England’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle tied the knot in a star-filled ceremony at Windsor Castle. Writing from Kenya, here thousands of people gathered around television screens in local bars and restaurants to witness history: a biracial divorcee becoming a royal duchess. Markle’s new page on the British monarchy website proclaims, “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.” (Her wedding also declared such in kind, as she encouraged guests and the general public to celebrate by fighting period poverty in Mumbai.)

In a piece for Teen Vogue, feminist writer Jill Filipovic explains why Markle is such a symbolic choice: she’s an independent career-woman who is ushering a new era of inclusion and diversity into the royal family and giving young girls, “a different kind of princess to admire.” At Ms., Janell Hobson pondered the decolonization possibilities of Markle’s new standing in the world. And in a story in VOX, Sarah E. Gaither tells us why Markle’s identity as a biracial woman is so important for biracial girls who have, for too long, been placed into categories that do not capture the complexity of their identities. Finally, they have a biracial role model who they can identify with, without having to choose between black or white.

Closer to home, Fuller Project contributor Brittany King reported on Wednesday for The Lily on Tamara Parson, a woman of color who also began her activism young. Kicked out of school in fourth grade for challenging a teacher’s knowledge of black history, she is now a powerful force for equality in central Ohio. And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams just won a primary election, making her the first black woman ever to be a major party nominee for governor.

On May 18th, Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire on his school in Santa Fe, fatally shooting 10 and injuring 13. One of the mothers of the victims told the LA times how her daughter had “turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class a week before the shooting.” Charline Jao points out the absurdity of news outlets like Reuters referring to this statement to imply that the “spurned advances” was the root provocation for the shooting.

On the same day, Rep. Dave Joyce and Members of the congressional Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence introduced a resolution urging states to pass comprehensive reforms to improve the handling of sexual assault kits and expand access to sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) by 2020. Legislation such as this that focuses on the protection of women may become easier to pass if more women are elected to office. Yet women face challenges even while running for office in record numbers. Global Citizen reports on the difficulty women face raising money—which many say is directly related to gender norms and stereotypes.

Other Stories From The Week

On Thursday, a special investigation by CNN found that the number of backstreet abortions in the world’s least developed countries have increased since the United States cut aid to family planning programs that provide or advise on abortion services.

Two of the country’s leading experts on women’s issues have warned that federal efforts to prevent violence against women are in danger of sliding “backwards” under the Trump administration, leaving undocumented immigrants at risk of losing whatever protection they had previously under the Violence Against Women Act. In an op-ed for The Hill, Sharon Phillips argues that immigrant women and children need protection from gangs, not to be treated like them. PRI’s The World reports on how families that crossed the border before the “zero-tolerance” immigration policies are still affected by a backlogged immigration system. They follow the case of one pregnant Honduran woman and her child.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has personally intervened in the asylum case of a Salvadoran woman. Immigration lawyers are worried that Sessions is going to use this case to undo laws that have expanded who gets asylum in the U.S. In an exclusive interview with NPR, the woman known only as “Ms A.B.” spoke out for the first time. Buzzfeed News also reported that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent shot and killed a migrant woman in Rio Grande, Texas this past Wednesday.

In this MM.LaFleur feature, two-time best selling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon talks about her career as a reporter and author, her unstoppable grit and the community of single moms in her life that inspired her.

An Amnesty International investigation has revealed that thousands of women and girls who believed they were being led to safety from Boko Haram by Nigerian security forces were instead systematically abused in exchange for food and assistance. On Thursday, Amnesty also reported Saudi Arabia’s release of veteran women’s rights activist Aisha al-Manea following her arrest last week with several other activists. Previously, these activists campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

The Guardian reports that the Battlefield video game series is releasing its fifth edition, with a heavier focus on female soldiers. Single-player mode and multiplayer mode will now allow for female characters to be used in gameplay. This is due to their goal of showcasing the “unseen locations, untold stories and unplayed gameplay moments” of World War II.




Neha Wadekar is a contributing editor at the Fuller Project for International Reporting.