3 – 10 June 2015
Picture of the Week
Wildfang started an inspiring campaign to show the “game face” of young (female) footballers aged 5 to 14. As the 2015 Women World’s Cup began this month, this is a good reminder that girls and sports are not at odds, and that the visibility of women in sports remains disproportionately small compared to men’s sports.
You can view more portraits here: http://coolerlifestyle.com/features/female-footballers-soccer-wildfang-got-gameface.html#pIrgl1dCPqDqHwtS.97
Depressing News of the Week
The Counted is an initiative launched by The Guardian and whose aim is to keep a record of people killed by the police and law enforcement agencies in the United States in 2015. This week, the total number of people since the beginning of the year reached 500. 500 people who were shot, tasered to death or struck down by a police vehicle because they exhibited erratic behaviors, brandished a knife, were running away or were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. 500 lives wasted, and 500 families never given the chance to see their loved one again.
Ridiculous News of the Week
Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney got into hot waters with anti-fracking activist Josh Fox as the activist pointed out the support of the Obama administration for fracking and Varney’s own hypocritical statements when it comes to fracking. Varney obviously felt threatened enough by Fox’s arguments that he decided to abruptly put an end to the interview, simply saying: “The interview is over, young man. I am not lying. I did it myself. Thank you. Goodbye. You are out of here, son. You are out of here. Don’t call me a liar. Don’t do that, son. Cut. That’s it. Thank you very much. Will you please leave?”
To know more about fracking and its links with an increase in earthquakes, read our article here.
Long Read(s) of the Week
This week, The Guardian gave us numerous interesting articles on Russia’s capital in its Moscow Week.
Amongst the essential reads, here is a noteworthy and balanced article on the effects of the EU sanctions against Russia and the counter-sanctions that resulted in the ban of various European products from the Russian market.
One quote in particular struck me by how well it summarized the situation that prevails in Russia nowadays. It comes from a former employee of state-owned Rossiya (one of the main TV channels in Russia) who resigned from her well-paying job as she felt that her job increasingly turned into producing propaganda for the regime:
Liza discussed her unease with a few of her colleagues. She says a small proportion of them agreed with her but were afraid to lose their jobs by taking an ethical decision and resigning. A small group were ardent supporters of Putin. “The majority, though, just don’t care. There is a sense of apathy, a sense that we have the leader we deserve. People say: ‘Well is it any better in the west? They have corruption there too.’ People are so used to conforming – we grew up in the Soviet era. Very few people resigned for political reasons. I thought there would be more – but even those who do feel uneasy, they have comfortable lives; it’s hard to give that up.”
In another thought-provoking article about the paradoxes of being a woman in Russia, women discuss how Russia both fosters successful women and rampant sexism.
One paragraph is especially worth stressing, as it pinpoints a very crucial aspect of the Putin years: the return to a macho, nationalistic and conservative conception of the nation.
The protection of traditional values and push towards greater social conservatism is one of the cornerstones of Vladimir Putin’s presidency. It allows him to not only unite Russians with a coherent ideology but to also reposition Russia as a global power in opposition to the liberal and morally lax west. As well as the widely publicised law banning “gay propaganda”, there is a new attack on abortion: in 2013, Russia banned abortion advertising, and parliamentary debate is now focused on removing abortion from health insurance coverage. “The government has been really ramping up the propaganda in terms of traditional gender roles, especially on giving birth,” says Maria Dudko, co-organiser of a gender studies summer school in Moscow. “They’re campaigning for women to have not just one but two or three babies. This is a stupid solution to the demographic problem.”
And finally, this article brought forward the issue of domestic violence in Russia, an overlooked and still taboo subject that urgently needs to be addressed: in 2008, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated that domestic violence was happening in 25% of all Russian families, and that no less than 14,000 women die every year as a result of domestic violence.
Read more about gender violence in Russia in this country report from The Advocates for Human Rights.
Video of the Week
In this week’s video, Mona Eltahawy discusses the lack of progress for women’s rights even after the Arab Springs, and highlights the necessity for men and women to embrace feminism both in the West and in the Middle East.