How Rowena Chiu’s Story Helped Expose Harvey Weinstein—From ‘Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers’

Rowena Chiu began working for Harvey Weinstein in 1998, assisting in the London office with his European film productions. Later that year, at the Venice Film Festival, she found herself at a late-night meeting with the producer. There, she recalls, Weinstein told her “he’d never had a Chinese girl” before attempting to rape her.

After signing a nondisclosure agreement, Chiu spent nearly two decades in what she describes as “constant fear”—“fear of Harvey’s abuse, control and power; that the story would come back to haunt me; that I would inadvertently slip up on my promise to never speak of this.” She was finally inspired to speak out by the powerful testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, whose decision to “speak up” about Brett Kavanaugh in September 2018 made a lasting impression.  

“I can briefly glory in the relief that I am no longer sitting on a sickening secret,” she wrote. 

Backsliding Democracies and Women’s Rights in the U.S. and Around the Globe

Can a democracy where women have never been equal ever really thrive? How are attacks on democracy tied to gender equity? What can we learn from past fights to protect and expand women’s rights in order to chart a path forward?

A two-part virtual discussion hosted by Ms. magazine in partnership with NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Center and the 92Y explored these questions, plus how women’s rights are inextricably tied to the integrity and durability of democratic institutions—featuring Melissa Murray, Alexis McGill-Johnson, Ruth Ben-Ghiat and more.

An Introduction to Catalonia’s Feminist Administration

For many decades, sexual and reproductive rights have been at the core of the global feminist struggle—but only an unapologetically feminist administration puts them at the center of the political agenda. Such is the progressive turn the government of Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain, assumed in May 2021 when it created a Ministry of Equality and Feminisms.

In October 2021, this new ministry drafted the national strategy for sexual and reproductive rights. This was founded on the premise that the personal is political, so it must also be public policy. This strategy sought to guarantee the effective exercise of existing rights—particularly abortion, long-term contraception and sexuality education.

Many women are now asking: What about perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause?

The Rise of Deepfakes Demands Legislative Action

Women represent 99 percent of those targeted by deepfake “pornography,” which makes up 98 percent of all deepfake videos online. In 2023 alone, the volume of deepfake abuse videos surpassed the total of all previous years combined, with the number of nonconsensual videos doubling annually.

Those nonconsensual images are created and shared with the goal of humiliating and degrading the women and girls in them. The fallout is immense, and it goes beyond personal harm. The silencing effect leads to people stepping back from vital arenas like politics, journalism and public discourse. But that’s the point of this misogyny, isn’t it? It’s gender-based violence at its core.

Urgent action is needed, and effective legislation is a critical starting point.

Ms Global: Thailand on Track to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Denmark Mandates Military Service for Women and More

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.

This week: news from Hong Kong, Mexico, Denmark and more.

‘Invisible, Disappeared, Erased’: The Systematic Oppression of Afghan Women and Girls Since the Taliban Takeover

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, leaving the Taliban as the de facto authorities. Since then, the Taliban has issued hundreds of repressive decrees designed to systematically oppress and marginalize Afghan women and girls, from denying them education, to restricting their movement.

Ms. sat down with Dr. Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a nonprofit organization that supports Afghan women and girls by investing in basic education, literacy and technology for education; providing grants and scholarships and other financial support; and engaging in policy advocacy to restore Afghan women and girls’ fundamental human rights and dignity.

“The Taliban’s treatment of women is a threat to women everywhere. Other groups are taking note that the Taliban is getting away with these restrictions, that it can literally strip women and girls of all rights and there’s no consequences.”

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Ranked-Choice Voting Will Open Doors for More Women and Minorities; Women Leaders Convene in Tanzania

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week, read about Arlington’s preparations for RCV in the upcoming November elections; celebrate Shirley Chisholm, who continues to receive high recognition as a new stage play prepares for its debut; explore the impact of the increase in women mayors in Turkey; learn about women leaders advocating for women’s leadership in politics and global health; and uncover why the U.N. is concerned about Georgia’s removal of electoral gender quotas.

A rejuvenating family vacation only strengthened my resolve. With the Fair Representation Act and ranked-choice voting gaining traction, I am optimistic about achieving gender balance in government in my lifetime.

Can Beyoncé’s Foray into Country Music Change the Genre’s Conservative Views?

Beyoncé’s much-anticipated country album, Cowboy Carter, drops on Friday, March 29. Beyoncé’s immense success in country music is a clear signal that there is a huge audience for country music around the world, but that audience won’t settle for the music’s often conservative conventions. Black music and musicians are at the heart of country music, and recognition of Black women’s music on this scale is long overdue.

Beyoncé doesn’t need country music. But, if it’s going get the global traction the CMA and other parts of the industry desire, country music needs artists like Beyoncé.

As U.S. Faces a Rising Tide of Abortion Bans and Restrictions, France Enshrines Freedom of Access in the Constitution

In 2023, seeking “to avoid a U.S.-like scenario for women in France, as hard-right groups are gaining ground,” President Emmanuel Macron promised a constitutional amendment affirming women’s right to abortion and to control over their own bodies. The amendment subsequently passed by a crushing majority of 780 to 72 votes and was inserted ceremoniously into the French Constitution on March 8, 2024, International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile in 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade that held abortion as a protected right under the United States Constitution

How do we explain the radically different trajectories on this critical dimension of women’s rights between two countries with strong feminist and anti-abortion movements that decriminalized abortion within a few years of one another?  

Supreme Court Is Considering Nationwide Restrictions on Most Common Abortion Method: Medication Abortion

Not content with overturning Roe v. Wade, the anti-abortion movement now wants to restrict medication abortion—even in states where abortion remains legal.

But a decision to place more restrictions on medication abortion will not stop people from getting abortion pills—it will merely reshape, not extinguish, the landscape of access to abortion pills.