Ms. Global: Women in India Bear Brunt of COVID; Combatting Digital Sex Crimes in South Korea; U.K. Secures Paid Parental Leave

The U.S. ranks as the 19th most dangerous country for women, 11th in maternal mortality, 30th in closing the gender pay gap, 75th in women’s political representation, and painfully lacks paid family leave and equal access to health care. But Ms. has always understood: Feminist movements around the world hold answers to some of the U.S.’s most intractable problems. Ms. Global is taking note of feminists worldwide.


The United Kingdom

+ Despite financial difficulties from COVID-19, John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is the first major retailer in Britain to provide all employees, regardless of their gender, with six months of paid parental leave. Additionally, JLP will be offering two weeks of paid leave for employees who experience the loss of a pregnancy. Other companies and firms in the U.K., such as Monzo, Abel & Cole and Channel 4, are implementing similar policies. 

Australia

+ Olympic silver medalist, Maddie Groves, announced on Twitter and Instagram she will be dropping out of Australia’s Olympic trials due to “misogynistic perverts.” Although Groves doesn’t specify who she is talking about, she writes on social media that she is not giving up: “I’m looking forward to racing at some other competitions later in the year (yeah sorry/not sorry, you haven’t got rid of me just yet!).”

India

+ Self-employed women in India are bearing the brunt of the economic burden brought on by COVID-19, according to a report released on Wednesday, June 16 by the World Economic Forum. Combined with increased unpaid care work demanded by the pandemic, many women who worked as domestic workers, street vendors and manual laborers have lost employment.

However, women have been proactive in addressing their concerns. Women voters carried Mamata Banerjee to victory as head of the West Bengal state government. Her platform won the support of women across the board given her economic policies that include 250 welfare programs, with measures such as conditional cash transfers to mothers for their daughters’ education.

Germany

+ Prosecutors in Germany have dismissed 19 police officers and suspended one police officer from an elite commando unit due to suspicions that the individuals used glorified violence and referenced former Nazi organizations online. Three out of the twenty suspects are being investigated for obstruction of justice. It is not clear yet whether any charges will be filed against the police officers.

Russia

+ On June 16, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Geneva to discuss future plans between the United States and Russia. Although there weren’t major outcomes accomplished, both politicians stated that the meeting went well. The politicians discussed the problem of cyberattacks and the issue of detained Americans in Russia, among other topics. In Biden’s news conference, he stated that his “agenda is not against Russia or anybody else. It’s for the American people…I did what I came to do.”

Uganda

+ Julian Omalla, a Ugandan businesswoman, recently received recognition from the U.N. trade agency (UNCTAD) for her company, Delight Uganda Limited, which carries a popular custom juice brand called Cheers. Omalla has received a four million dollar grant to build a fresh juice factory and an additional six million to procure equipment. Omalla is now one of the most decorated businesswomen in Uganda, having won UNCTAD’s Empretec Women in Business Award and receiving a fellowship from the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.

Korea

+ Human Rights Watch released a report on Wednesday covering the growing “digital sex crime” epidemic harming women and girls in South Korea. Digital sex crimes—a form of gender-based violence that involves the non-consensual distribution of intimate images—demonstrate the shortcomings of the South Korean government in providing adequate rights-based protections for women.

Despite changes in the law following “My Life is Not Your Porn” protests in 2018, digital sex crime cases continue to rise. The overwhelming majority of digital sex crime perpetrators are men, who account for 98 percent of offenders in spycam cases. In these cases, women account for 80 percent of those who are non-consensually filmed in places like dressing rooms, bathrooms and hotels. In the report, experts recommend stricter regulations, fortified support systems for survivors, and comprehensive sex education that covers consent, digital citizenship and gender-based violence.

The United States

+ Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen helped persuade G7 leaders to enact a “landmark international tax agreement.” This agreement would require companies to pay at least a 15 percent tax on their income in an attempt to disincentivize offshoring and help fund some of President Biden’s economic policy plans. With a polarized Congress and growing resistance from business groups, the agreement is not certain to pass. However, negotiators hope that the agreement might be accepted at the Group of 20’s meeting in Italy next month—forcing all countries involved to change their laws.

Meanwhile, Linda Thomas-Greenfield—Biden’s new U.N. ambassador—is taking strides in rebuilding United States’ foreign relations after the damage inflicted by the Trump administration. On June 7, Thomas-Greenfield met with the director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) to rekindle the working relationship between the U.S. and the organization, which works to “address preventable maternal deaths and the unmet need for family planning, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence and harmful practices around the world.”

In April of 2017, Trump cut off U.S. support to UNFPA, which previously accounted for 7 percent of the organization’s entire budget. The re-establishment of this relationship solidifies a track for the U.S. to begin supporting reproductive health and freedom worldwide while easing global relationships strained under the previous administration. 

Colombia, Bangladesh and Uganda

+ In a piece for the New York Review, journalist Jill Filipovic explores why women raped in conflict overwhelmingly cannot access safe abortions.

“From Rwanda and Bosnia to Myanmar and Tigray, rape is now recognized as a genocidal crime. Yet its survivors rarely receive the health care they need—thanks to America’s deadly culture war.”

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About and

Juliet Schulman-Hall is an editorial fellow for Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College. She is majoring in English language & literature, minoring in sociology, and concentrating in poetry. Her beats include caregiving, mental health and disability advocacy, and criminal justice reform and abolition. Follow her @jschulmanhall
Lily Sendroff is an editorial fellow at Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She majors in the study of women and gender and government, with a concentrative subfield in comparative politics. Her work typically focuses on feminist economics, transnational feminism, and policy analysis.