Dec 5, 2022 • 6M

The Week in Women

Is Iran shutting down its Morality Police? Women protest in Poland and Spain. And Google promised to keep your abortion searches private, but it's not living up to that pledge.

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A rundown of the week’s most important gender and women’s rights headlines, followed by a deeper dive into the week's biggest story.
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Welcome to The Week in Women, a quick rundown of the women’s rights news from around the world, from me and my lovely researcher and co-author Tamar Eisen. This week, The Week in Women is a podcast and written out below as a newsletter — so if you prefer to read rather than listen, keep scrolling, and if you prefer to listen rather than read, you can get The Week in Women wherever you get your podcasts, or you can click the play button above.

A reminder that paid subscribers get The Week in Women early — so if that’s you, thank you, and I hope you enjoy. If that’s not you, and you want The Week in Women in your inbox as soon as it’s published, consider upgrading to a paid subscription.

Iran is maybe shutting down its Morality Police — or maybe not. The New York Times is reporting that an Iranian official said that the nation is closing down the hated police force, but the Iranian government hasn’t confirmed the story, and there are some indications at actually, no, the Morality Police will stay in business. Whatever the case, the government is still enforcing the mandatory hijab law that was the pretext for the detention of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old who was killed while in police custody. Amini’s death kicked off the months-long Women Life Freedom protests that have been roiling that country, and that much of the world hopes will take down this vicious regime.

France’s National Assembly passed a proposal to enshrine abortion rights into the country’s Constitution, in direct response to the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The bill will still have to go through a complex legislative process and could face opposition in the Senate. France is one of many nations worldwide that have tried to expand abortion access in recent years. Only a handful have made their abortion laws more restrictive, and nearly to a one those restrictions have come along with broader national shifts toward authoritarianism — including, unfortunately, in the United States.

In Senegal, a male MP hit a female MP in the face during a tense budget presentation. Feminist activists in Senegal are calling out the attack, particularly as it coincided with the week of campaigns to end violence against women. The slap kicked off a brawl as the woman defended herself.

Afghan women activists are secretly building networks to support vulnerable Afghan women who have faced increased marginalization since the Taliban rose to power in 2021. The return of the Taliban has been brutal on Afghan women and girls, who are barred from higher education, many jobs, and public life more broadly. And so some brave activists are forming secret networks to create safe spaces for women, and to promote democracy and human rights.

Thousands of women protested across Spain last week to demand an end to violence against women. These protests follow news that many men had their prison sentences reduced as a result of a loophole in a new law on sexual abuse.

Polish women are also fed up with misogyny and male violence. Hundreds gathered outside of the Polish ruling party leader’s house to protest his policies and comments that have diminished women’s rights. The ruling Law and Justice Party pushed for a near-total ban on abortion in Poland, and the country’s Constitutional Court — which at this point is basically an arm of Poland’s right-wing government — enshrined it into law. It went into effect last year, to devastating results.

When the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, feminist and data privacy groups warned that Google’s data- and location-gathering processes put women at risk. Now, new research shows that the way Google stores location and personal data has remain unchanged, despite pledges from the company that they would create new policies to protect people’s abortion related data. Google had promised to delete “personal” location searches, including “medical facilities like counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics.” But according to the Guardian, a tech advocacy group “found that searches for directions to abortion clinics on Google Maps, as well as the routes taken to visit two Planned Parenthood locations, were stored in their Google activity timeline for weeks after it occurred. At the time of this article’s publication, the information was still stored and available at”

Remember the story of the 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who had to travel to Indiana for a safe abortion? And remember how a bunch of bad-faith right-wing actors denied that she even existed? Now, Indiana’s Attorney General has asked the state medical board to discipline Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the OB/GYN who helped this traumatized child end a pregnancy that could have killed her. The Attorney General, Todd Roika, has spent months going after Dr. Bernard — and he’s failed, because she didn’t do anything wrong or illegal. But as I wrote last week, this is part of a broader effort to shut down abortion story-telling, and to prevent doctors from talking about what happens when abortion bans go into effect.

And finally, this is not a news story, but go read this poem right now.

xx Jill

The Week in Women comes to you thanks to research from Tamar Eisen (she/her/hers), an advocate for reproductive justice and gender equity. She lives in New York City and works for the Center for Reproductive Rights.