UK workplace harassment scandal
Michael Fallon, defense minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most prominent members of the Tory Party, stepped down last week following several accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Similar accusations have been leveled at thirty-six British lawmakers, including two other cabinet ministers. Many journalists, staff working for members of parliament, and female MPs have come forward with reports of workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse, with one woman alleging that Labour Party leaders pressured her not to report a sexual assault. Fallon’s resignation follows the expansion of the global #MeToo social media campaign that has spread across 85 countries and counting, with women in France, Italy, and nations across Latin America and the Middle East launching offshoot hashtags to share stories of workplace harassment.
Women in Mexico protest gender-based violence
Hundreds of Mexican women took to the streets to protest gender-based violence and femicide during last week’s Day of the Dead celebrations. Women in Mexico City and elsewhere dressed with their faces painted to look like the popular Mexican figure La Calavera Catrina, a female skeleton, to call attention to high rates of violence against women that have gone largely unaddressed by the government. Homicides of women have increased by almost 25 percent during Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidency and, according to federal statistics, 66 percent of women and children over the age of fifteen have reported sexual abuse, often leading to grave assault or death. This year, the 2017 Global Impunity Index grouped Mexico with Honduras and El Salvador – notoriously violent countries in Central America – as the region’s lowest performers with respect to justice and accountability for crimes.
Saudi government loosens restrictions on women
Saudi rulers announced last week that, starting in 2018, women will be allowed into three sports arenas in major cities. The announcement that women, long barred from sporting venues and many other public spaces, would be granted access to stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam came just weeks after the kingdom lifted its ban on women driving. In the future, women will be permitted entry into arena’s “family sections”— a term that authorities use to refer to public spaces, restaurants, and offices that accommodate women while still segregating them from the primary space used by men. While unaccompanied women reportedly will be allowed in participating arenas, many other locations still require women to be accompanied by men, hewing to the Gulf kingdom’s male guardianship system that remains on the books. Under this legal regime, women are functionally equivalent to minors and require the permission of a male relative to move around a city or access basic services.