Sunlight kills many viruses…

As we all eagerly wait for treatments and a cure for the novel coronavirus, one bit of good news is that exposure to sunlight apparently slows the contagion.

Likewise, metaphorical “sunlight” continues to expose more of the ugly side of the world, including those who abuse women and children. Read on in our news roundup:

On Tuesday, Ghislaine Maxwell was denied bail. Maxwell has been accused of being a sex trafficker and predator of minors, including coercing at least one into an abortion to cover up the crime.

Maybe this time, she and the others will get justice. We sincerely hope that, unlike the suspicious death of Epstein in a New York jail, Maxwell will be protected so that justice may be served.

Also on Tuesday, a judge refused to approve a proposed $19 million settlement for victims of Harvey Weinstein:

“The idea that Harvey Weinstein can get a defense fund ahead of the claimants is obnoxious,” said Judge Hallerstein, who oversaw the 9/11 settlement case years ago. “The idea you can regulate the claims of people not in the settlement — I can’t subscribe to that….”

Estimated to have ended up being around $20,000 per victim when all the math was done, the agreement also would have totally absolved Weinstein, his brother and long-term business partner and their former board from any liability without having to personally pay a dime. In fact, the ‘one-sided and unfair’ settlement, as one critic called the long-festering negotiation, would have seen the Weinsteins haul in more than $15 million for their legal defense out of the deal — a reality that many including Hellerstein found “unconscionable.”

Unfortunately, there is a double standard with media coverage of statutory rape: Although much reporting has accurately reflected the terror Weinstein, Epstein, and Maxwell exacted on their victims, when the abuser is a woman and the abused a boy, the tone too often suddenly changes.

With the death of Mary Kay Letourneau last week came a devastating examination of the sympathetic media coverage her rape of a young male student garnered. Make no mistake: Statutory rape IS rape, and just as women and girls deserve better, boys deserve better, too.

Looking abroad, the University of St Andrews in Scotland has reported scores of claims from women who claimed they were sexually assaulted and/or raped on campus.

Every student during orientation, every college and university website, and every residential adviser and housemother and father needs to know that drugging a victim, sexual assault, forced drinking, and hazing of pledges before or during initiation will all be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It can happen in a dorm, club, or fraternity house, especially when heavy drinking is involved.

I was almost gang raped after being voted (against my will) homecoming queen of my alma mater. I called on one brother to rescue me and change the dynamics when a supposed prank was obviously a device for much worse. Thankfully, it worked, but it was absolutely terrifying and deeply disappointing — especially as I thought they were my friends. Women are not trophies.

Finally, we shared the horrific news of the Chinese government’s campaign against Uighur women and other ethnic minorities, who are being threatened with internment in camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas. Women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children reported being involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives, and some women said they were coerced into being sterilized.

For speaking out against this atrocity, Rep. Chris Smith is just one of four government officials who have sanctioned by China. Perhaps more than anyone else, Smith has been an outspoken advocate for victims of abuse, including trafficking, forced sterilization, and coerced abortion, both domestically and internationally. In addition, he has long been a leader in advocating microbusiness loans for women in developing nations.

The author of the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act has been vocal about the attacks on Christians in majority-Muslim countries, as well as those on the Uighurs, a chiefly Muslim ethnic group in China. He is consistent in his policies to protect the most vulnerable, while focusing on resources and support for those in need.

Help us continue our advocacy for the most vulnerable, at all stages of life. We hope this update was educational and informative. Stay well!

Because women deserve better,

Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America
Women Deserve Better
& The American Feminist