• Getty

    Persecuted

    Death Threats for Iraq’s Women & Gays

    Religious groups are threatening to kill the members one of the few Iraqi organizations dedicated to helping women and gays.

    BAGHDAD — A little girl toddles around shopping bags brimming with relief supplies that are heading for Iraqi refugees and into the arms of Dalal Jumaa, who heads this office of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Jumaa hugs the little girl and lets her go, then turns to me. “Today I am very scared,” she says in a low voice. “This morning they called and said if you do not move from this house we will kill you.”

    It was the police who phoned the organization Sunday morning, Jumaa said. They told her they had heard she harbored gay men and runaway girls. But the threat, which the police were relaying, came from Asaib Ahl al Haq, a powerful and notoriously brutal Shia militia in Baghdad. “I cannot stop Asaib Ahl al Haq,” the policeman told her, “they received this information and will kill you if you don’t leave.”

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  • A woman votes on November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Cengiz Yar Jr./AFP/Getty)

    SWING

    Win Women, Win the Midterms

    The female vote gave the House to Republicans in 2010 and to Democrats in 2006. No wonder we’re talking about pay equality six months before Election Day.

    You could be forgiven for looking at the 2014 election cycle and thinking you’re watching a rerun of 2012. “The 1 percent! The war on women!” In the latest episode, the White House signed an executive order on federal salaries billed as promoting equal pay, as a part of its effort to keep the political gender gap working in their favor.

    It makes sense that Democrats would want the coming election to be a replay of the last one. They won.

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  • Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Poster Child

    Is Malala A Puppet of the West?

    Humaira Awais Shadid, a leading campaigner for women’s rights in Pakistan, argues that Malala Yousafzai is being used by the West to criticize Islam.

    One of Pakistan’s leading women’s rights campaigners says Malala Yousafzai is a victim of the West.

    Humaira Awais Shahid, a former politician, Harvard fellow, and newspaper editor, said the schoolgirl has been badly damaged by Britain and America, who are taking advantage of her survival story. Malala is now a hate-figure in certain quarters in Pakistan while some secular Westerners have used her traumatic experience in the Swat Valley as an avenue to criticize Islam.

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  • Afshan 16, is a victim of domestic violence and self-immolation. (Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty)

    world news

    Kabul Could Legalize Spouse Abuse

    A proposed law would ban relatives of accused child abusers, rapists and murderers from testifying against them in court—and women’s rights advocates are terrified that it spells a return to Taliban-era repression.

    Nelosar was 15 years old when she was married off to a man more than twice her age. When she told her father she did not want to marry and wanted to continue her education instead, he replied that he would kill her if she didn’t comply. She entered into the marriage, but was ruthlessly beaten by her in-laws and her husband. “I never loved him, but I had to stay,” Nelosar (not her real name) says.

    Just two months ago, with the support of her children, she applied for a divorce from the man she says abused her their entire marriage. Now 41 years old, Nelosar works as a caregiver for senior citizens and lives in Queens, New York. Her husband stopped beating her when they moved here because he feared the police, but the verbal attacks continued. She couldn’t divorce him in Afghanistan, but says she’s thrilled to live in the United States where the law is in her favor. “There should be law that supports women, not abuses them,” Nelosar says.

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  • MTV

    Real Housewives

    ‘Teen Mom’s Shocking Abortion

    A new season of ‘Teen Mom 2’ is back, and no, shows like it did not reduce teen pregnancy rates, whatever the claims. But the series is so grim that we might believe in its powers.

    If watching Teen Mom 2 was mandatory for American teens, then maybe the MTV show really would reduce teen births by 6 percent. The show is grim. Really grim. Each episode is like watching The Empire Strikes Back on repeat, with no trilogy-ending, daddy-issues-resolving finale on the horizon. This documentary isn’t MTV’s The Hills or Laguna Beach. The show doesn’t resemble a show. It’s more like boring old life, strenuous and unyielding.

    In the vein of True Life, the show follows the girls from the second season of 16 and Pregnant as they grapple with adulthood, single-parenting, and deadbeat fathers. As a running PSA for abstinence (or whatever you have to do to avoid getting knocked up), Teen Mom 2 never misses a moment to drop wisdom.

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  • Rob Lewine/Corbis

    UK ABORTION

    The Gender Abortion Scandal

    A controversial report claims Britain’s immigrant communities are aborting female babies on a mass scale.

    A global war on girls, which is endemic in parts of the developing world, may have landed in Britain according to a study that claims some immigrant families are using selective terminations to choose the sex of their children.

    Afghan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain have been accused of aborting female fetuses by the Independent newspaper. An analysis of government figures suggests that the proportion of second and third born children within those groups is statistically abnormal—favoring the birth of boys.

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  • Jeremy Schoenherr

    Dark Confessions

    Sexual Medicine

    Ashley Cardiff’s essays are darker and even more embarrassing than Lena Dunham's or Chelsea Handler's, says Thomas Leveritt.

    These 23 essays arrive in paperback with a slew of metadata—cover, blurb, press release—that either e- or in-vokes short-form forerunners Aimee Bender, Sloane Crosley, and David Sedaris. Against this test it holds up pretty well: Cardiff is a professional blogger on the lady beat, so she’s had years of writing, writing that slips down easy—and at first blush these are deft and funny and sugary, often deliciously bitchy, and many short enough to wolf down in the bathroom during a slow dinner party. Good fun. I LOL’d.

    The problem is that it isn’t really that sort of book. It looks like it and reads like it—the rhythms are all flippant callbacks, withering cuts, and essay-ending buttons that play like piano tinkles—“Can you imagine what kind of hero you’d have to be to look noble while jerking off? I’d guess a fireman.” But the mask of facility slips from time to time, as this manifestly learned writer (gerunds, Lucretius) prances gaily for the cheap seats, treating heavy moments to a cavalcade of vagina gags and stooping to others still lower: Aerosmith, abortion, Zunes, MIDIs, rape, toddler dance recitals, all get drive-by zinged. This starts out delightful, then begins to feel minstrelish, then somehow gets tuned out, like Woody Allen compulsively cracking wise to an audience of one. No doubt this is clear policy, agreed at the highest levels at Penguin, her publisher, to keep the sugar-to-medicine ratio high. And if there’s a lot of sugar in here (there is; it’s funny), it’s because there’s also a staggering amount of medicine.

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  • Tobias Hase/Corbis

    BREAKING BARRIORS

    Cisco CTO Promotes Women in Tech

    Wants STEM jobs to be less male-dominated.

    Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, is one of the most high-profile women in technology —but according to Business Insider, even she found it hard to break into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) industry. She said when she took her first job she felt isolated, because of the shortage of women in such positions. Now, Warrior wants to bring change to her own company. Only 23 percent of workers in STEM jobs are women and of the top STEM CEOs, only 18 out of 100 are women. Warrior said though these may be discouraging, women should “stand out.” She said, “We gain a unique platform to demonstrate our knowledge and capabilities.”

    Read it at Business Insider
  • Women are faced with untangling the frequent contradictions of advice on workplace etiquette. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty)

    BUSINESS

    How Should Women Act at Work?

    Cheerful? Aggressive? No consensus seems to exist.

    I’ve always been an assertive person. I got it from my mama. In Girl Scouts, I once led a rebellion with just a 10-year-old’s willpower, an arsenal of white lies, and a now-vintage Nokia cellphone. Every time I start a new job, I’ll receive a speech from my parents along the theme of, “Remember to bite your tongue.” But at the same time, I’ve been told by friends that I am “too funny to be taken seriously.” How can an aggressively funny (or funnily aggressive) girl succeed in this world—especially in the workplace? As it turns out, when it comes to leadership and a woman in the office, the whole world—from scientists to computer technicians—has absolutely no idea.

    A recently-published article from The Economic Times of India advises us that doormats lose out at work: “Women who give a cheerful impression are judged to be less willing to undertake leadership roles than men who display similar emotions.” Win for me. But then a Forbes article, headlined “Why Aggressive Women Can’t Win at Work,” says that assertive females hurt their promotion chances because they’re held to a different standard than men. If a guy speaks up in a meeting, he’s just being forceful and decisive—but if a woman does, she’s either a hot, emotional mess or a straight-up b**ch. These two contradictory ideas, published within hours of each other, put my brain in knots.

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  • Denmark's Crown Princess Mary, second from right, speaks with a mother-to-be with diabetes as she visits a hospital in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Mary arrived in Malaysia to attend Woman Deliver conference from May 28-30. (Lai Seng Sin/AP)

    Special Delivery

    Birth Control Makes a Comeback

    Family planning returns to center stage at the Women Deliver conference. Michelle Goldberg reports.

    It’s hard to talk about women’s health worldwide without talking about birth control, but somehow, when the first Women Deliver conference convened in London in 2007, that’s largely what happened. At the time, support for international contraceptive programs had dried up for a number of reasons, including the urgency of the AIDS crisis and the hostility of the George W. Bush administration. Some feminist groups, meanwhile, shied away from anything that might smack of population control. And so while Women Deliver, a major global gathering devoted to reproductive health, helped draw attention to the scandalous level of maternal mortality in the developing world, it ended up sidelining one of the most important tools we have to address it. When it came to family planning, no one was taking the lead.

    At this year’s Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it’s clear that there’s been a huge change. In session after session at the largest international conference on women and girls in a decade, speakers from all over the world affirmed the need for universal access to birth control, and spoke excitedly of new programs to provide it. “The machinery of international family planning had been in a relatively low gear and now is ramping up again,” says Karl Hofmann, president of Population Services International, a group that distributes reproductive health supplies worldwide. “We feel more wind in our sails, and I think other organizations like ours do too.”

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