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This Week in Women’s Rights 2018–04–22


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/04/22

“Washington (CNN)The US State Department’s human rights report for 2017, released Friday, appeared to reflect the Trump administration’s worldview by scaling back on the reporting of women’s issues and choosing not to identify the West Bank or Gaza Strip as territories “occupied” by Israel.

The report did criticize US adversaries including Russia and Iran, but pulled punches when it came to key US allies such as Saudi Arabia.

The report’s introduction singled out political adversaries and pointed to four particular countries: China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. The report itself also singled out Russia, emphasizing once again the disconnect between an administration willing to criticize Moscow and President Donald Trump’s reluctance to do so. Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan said the governments of the four countries “violate the human rights of those within their borders on a daily basis and are forces of instability as a result.””


“The State Department’s annual human rights report released Friday drops references to reproductive rights for women and stops using the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank.

The report, which covers 2017, focuses less on societal attitudes and discrimination than in previous years and more on governmental actions that encourage or reward violence and bigotry. It is the first human rights report to reflect the Trump administration’s views and priorities.

In what is likely to be the most controversial change, the report strips a section labeled “reproductive rights” that outlined access to contraception and abortion, as well as maternal mortality rates, for every country. In its place is a section for each country called “coercion in population control,” documenting involuntary or “unethical” sterilization.”


“One would think that a woman going public with accusations of sexual harassment against a man and then facing a severe backlash would not be so common in 2018. But in Pakistan, it keeps happening.

On April 19, Meesha Shafi, a Pakistani pop-star, put up a thoughtful Twitter statement accusing Ali Zafar, Pakistani star actor-singer, of sexually harassing her.

“Today, I speak up because my conscience does not allow me to be silent anymore,” she wrote in the statement.

Her tweet was retweeted more than 5,400 times, got a little over 10,000 likes and garnered some 3,000 responses, many of them attacking her. The backlash Shafi is facing is quite abusive and much of it is rejecting the existence of sexual harassment or shaming her for making this public.”


“(CNN)Outgoing Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards is slamming the Trump administration, dubbing it “the worst for women that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Richards’ comments came during an interview with CNN’s Van Jones on his show Saturday, as she recalled a “disappointing” January 2017 meeting at the White House with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

“I wouldn’t say I had high expectations for the meeting going in,” Richards told Jones, “but certainly my position is that anywhere I can go to talk about the incredible work that Planned Parenthood does, particularly to provide affordable healthcare for millions of folks every year, then I’ll do it.”

Richards, who is planning on stepping down as president next month, told Jones that the meeting centered on what felt like a “bribe” offered by Kushner — if Planned Parenthood would stop providing abortions, the organization would be eligible for more federal funding.”


“To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, alcohol giant Diageo has given the world Jane Walker: a female version of its Johnnie Walker whisky brand. “In recognition of women who lead the way,” the company says on its website, “We are unveiling Jane Walker, the first-ever female iteration of the brand’s iconic Striding Man logo.”

There has been much debate about Jane. While some have lauded the Jane campaign as progressive and supporting gender equality, others have criticized it for appropriating the women’s rights movement to boost sales. An op-ed in the New York Times highlighted a deep irony of the timing of the campaign: The liquor industry was one of the most powerful opponents of votes for women, through the financing of political campaigns and even “the promise of a free beer in exchange for a no vote on a suffrage referendum.”

An equally ironic story can be told from a public health perspective. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 3 million deaths each year are a result of the harmful use of alcohol, and for those between 20 and 39 years old, approximately 25 percent of all deaths can be attributed to alcohol.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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