The Dark Side of Virtual Reality: Sexual Harassment and the Lack of Body Agency

People often focus on the positives of virtual reality (VR): It can provide more immersive experiences. Players can visit outer space or a foreign country without ever leaving their couches. They can interact with other gamers in those virtual worlds. But VR enthusiasts often overlook, or never know about, VR’s darker sides: namely, the risk of unwanted interactions, which falls disproportionately on women and people of color.

New Report Reveals Six ‘Sinister’ Tactics of Extremist Anti-Abortion Centers

Anti-abortion centers target young, low-income populations who face difficulties accessing abortion care, further endangering them by delaying their access to necessary healthcare. A new report, “In The Grand Scheme: Six Sinister Tactics Employed by Anti-Abortion Centers,” documents the tactics used to aggressively spread anti-abortion propaganda and interfere with access to reproductive healthcare.

Ukrainian Victims of Wartime Rape May Be Forced To Give Birth—All Thanks to This U.S. Policy

Because the Ukrainian health system is drastically strained, international humanitarian aid is playing an outsized role in delivering healthcare throughout the country. But all humanitarian aid provided by the U.S.—the largest single-country donor of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine—is subject to the Helms Amendment, which limits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion. In this way, rather than alleviating their suffering, U.S. aid could be the reason that victims of wartime rape are denied abortions and forced to give birth.

Any lawmaker serious about their solidarity with Ukraine should commit to a full repeal of the Helms Amendment.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bills Groom Children for Sexual Abuse, and May Even Violate Title IX

“Don’t Say Gay” bills don’t protect children—they play into the hands of child abusers, while also putting school districts in violation of Title IX. Denying a school district’s right to define a curriculum based on evidence-based research plays directly into the hands of predators who want, very much, naïve and disempowered children to prey upon.

Melissa Lucio Granted a Stay of Execution in Texas

Melissa Lucio, who was set to be executed for the death of her 2-year old daughter Mariah, was granted a stay of execution and a new hearing on Monday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court ordered a new hearing to consider whether her conviction was based on an unreliable false confession which Lucio, a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, offered in response to threatening, hostile questioning by investigators.

“The court’s decision paves the way for Melissa to present evidence of her innocence that should have been heard by the jury that condemned her to death 14 years ago,” said Professor Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and one of Lucio’s attorneys.

For 50 Years, Title IX Has Transformed Girls’ and Women’s Education. The Job Is Not Yet Done.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in educational programs or activities. Because almost all schools receive federal funds, the law applies in nearly every educational context. Most people associate Title IX with athletics, where it has indeed had a profound effect on girls and women. Before Title IX, women and girls were virtually excluded from most athletic opportunities in schools.

The Pew Research Center did a national survey to gauge awareness and attitudes about Title IX 50 years after its passage. Among those who know about Title IX, there are both gender and political gaps in how they think about it.

Bipartisan Group Urges Reconsideration of Melissa Lucio’s Death Sentence

The state of Texas plans to put Melissa Lucio to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, April 27, which would make her the sixth woman executed in the U.S. in the last decade and the first Hispanic woman in Texas history.

But new evidence of Lucio’s interrogation reveals how unlikely it is that she is guilty—which is why a bipartisan group of Texas state lawmakers is asking authorities to reconsider the scheduled execution. They join hundreds of other Texans—including 225 anti-domestic violence groups, 130 faith leaders and 30 Latino organizations—in urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to grant Lucio a reprieve.

Female Genital Mutilation Isn’t Just a Foreign Issue

Texas Governor Greg Abbott waded into problematic territory when he called gender-affirming care for transgender minors “mutilation” and “child abuse.” His remarks generated lots of coverage and controversy, as he presumably knew they would. The irresponsible and incorrect use of the term “mutilation” takes attention away from the actual, serious problem of mutilation and cutting in the United States today. 

Worldwide, more than 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting. But it’s not just a foreign problem. More than half a million women and girls are either at risk or have undergone FGM/C in the U.S, including 51,000 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. must enact stronger legislation against the practice, while empowering and protecting those who have been subjected to FGM/C.