Women Young

Young Women Take a Frontline Role in Thailand’s Protests – The New York Times

Women, many of them students, are speaking out against a patriarchy that controls the military, the monarchy and the Buddhist monkhood, Thailand’s most powerful institutions.

Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

BANGKOK — As tens of thousands of people have gathered for a series of pro-democracy protests in Thailand in recent weeks, their ranks have been dominated by an emerging political force: young women.

Many of the earliest and most vocal organizers of the rallies have been female students. At recent protests, women appeared to make up the majority of participants, too.

While the demonstrations are aimed at urging Thailand’s old guard to embrace new ideas, they have also addressed concerns that often don’t make it to the national stage. Many of them are specific to women, including abortion, taxes on menstrual products and school rules that force girls to conform to an outdated version of femininity.

Most of all, women are increasingly speaking out against a patriarchy that has long controlled the military, the monarchy and the Buddhist monkhood, Thailand’s most powerful institutions. They have joined a broader range of voices calling for greater say in a country where democracy has been in retreat, though the challenges for women remain steep even within the protest movement.

“The monarchy and the military have all the power in Thailand,” said Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, one of a core of female students who have galvanized the political opposition. “I shouldn’t be afraid to say that men have almost all the power in Thailand.”


Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

The protests are rooted in resistance to the military, which most recently carried out a coup in 2014. The generals who led the putsch said that protecting the palace from critics was one of their major reasons for doing so.

The government’s stance on women’s issues in particular has galvanized some activists. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the coup leader, who retained his position after disputed elections last year, has dismissed the idea of gender parity, even though he serves as the head of a national committee dedicated to that ideal.

“Everyone says that we have to create justice, women and men have equal rights,” he said during a speech on vocational training in 2016. “Thai society will deteriorate if you think this way.”

Mr. Prayuth, a retired general, said that women had authority over the home.

“Outside the house, we are big,” he added, of men. “At work, we have the power.”

Such notions have irked women.

“The male supremacy society has been growing since the coup,” said Chumaporn Taengkliang, a co-founder of Women for Freedom and Democracy, a political alliance that has helped spearhead the anti-government rallies in Bangkok.

That needs to change, Ms. Chumaporn added.

“Women are not taking the back seat,” she said. “They are the front line.”


Credit…Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

It’s a phenomenon happening not just in Thailand. In Belarus, hundreds of women were arrested last week while marching in Minsk to protest the return to power of the country’s strongman, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. And in the United States, women and girls are often at the forefront of Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality.

In some ways, it should not be novel that women are helping to lead the protest movement in Thailand, which by some measures is one of Asia’s most equitable societies for women. It gave them the right to vote in 1932, one of the first countries in the region to do so. More Thai women than men go to college. They make up 45 percent of the labor force. About 40 percent of private enterprises are headed by women, higher than the global average.

But women lack a voice in institutions like the military and the palace. Their political representation is paltry. Women occupy just 14 percent of the seats in Parliament. (That, at least, is better than after the 2014 coup, when only 5 percent of the legislature was female.)

Although female warriors in Thailand’s history were famous for having helped repel foreign invaders, the nation’s top military academy does not accept women. Last year, the Royal Thai Police Cadet Academy, which had been open to women for about a decade, effectively closed its doors again to female applicants.

Women have taken part in previous protest movements. A core of so-called aunties, many from rural areas ignored by Bangkok’s ruling elite, were integral to an opposition force called the Red Shirts, who occupied downtown Bangkok for weeks before a bloody crackdown in 2010.

But in protest leadership, women had been mostly absent.

“In previous democracy movements, it was almost all men,” said Jutatip Sirikhan, a student at Thammasat University in Bangkok who was arrested this month for her involvement in the current protests. “Until now, Thailand has not had a gender political movement.”


Credit…Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

The involvement of social-media-savvy young women has shifted the tenor of the current protests. Many are well-educated daughters of the middle and upper middle classes, and they wonder why the #MeToo movement has bypassed Thailand.

They have brought their defiance to some of the country’s fanciest private girls’ schools, raising their hands during school assemblies in a defiant, three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” books and movies rather than paying respect to the national or royal anthem. Many of them are bound by school rules on hairstyles, uniforms and even underwear that they consider invasive.

As the rallies this summer grew bigger, women took to protest stages to criticize a persistent wage gap and denounce what they call rape culture. They decried the government’s classification of feminine hygiene products as cosmetics, which could make them liable for higher taxes.

They highlighted abortion laws that, in their view, fail to give women control over their own bodies by restricting the procedure to cases in which physical or mental health is compromised. And they spoke out against beauty contests, popular in Thailand, which they said dismissed women as demure, decorative objects. (A beauty queen who expressed support for the pro-democracy rallies was denounced online for having dark skin.)

“The young generation today has the vocabulary to name what’s wrong with society when it comes to gender issues,” said Duanghathai Buranajaroenkij, an expert in gender studies at Mahidol University in Bangkok. “When I began studying gender, most people in Thailand didn’t even know to use a gender lens to look at things.”

During an overnight rally last weekend, the largest since the 2014 coup, female speakers took aim at the patriarchal traditions of the Thai royal palace. Succession laws specify that the crown must go to a male heir. The Privy Council, a select group of advisers to the monarch, is all-male.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has been married four times. Two of his previous wives were purged. Last year, the king stripped titles from his royal consort, a position akin to an official mistress that, until he brought it back, had not existed since before the country abolished absolute monarchy in 1932.

The consort had been accused of “misbehavior and disloyalty against the monarch.” But this month, the palace announced that she had been reinstated to her former position. It is not clear why.

On a protest stage in front of the Grand Palace on Saturday night, Ms. Chumaporn, the co-founder of Women for Freedom and Democracy, raised an issue that is rarely discussed in a country where criticism of the king can earn people up to 15 years in prison. (The king was not at home because he spends most of his time in Germany.)


Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

“We ask you to add one more point,” Ms. Chumaporn said, to cheers from the crowd. “That is to destroy the male superiority structure under the monarchy.”

But the weekend rallies also showed that a movement powered by many leaders is now coalescing around fewer individuals — and most are men. Of the 18 keynote speakers on Saturday, only three were women. (Ms. Panusaya did present a protest letter meant for the king, however.)

One of the male speakers was Attapon Buapat, an activist who said that “women, honestly speaking, are a nosy gender,” to even greater applause than Ms. Chumaporn received. “That’s why God cursed women to have a weak body in order to effectively reduce their meddlesomeness.”

In a Facebook post, Mr. Attapon later apologized, saying he had not “considered the subtlety of this matter.”

Sirin Mungcharoen, a student leader at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said she had tried to promote feminism, along with L.G.B.T.Q. rights, as integral to democracy. When she did, some male activists who had been fighting alongside her began mocking her, she said.

Meanwhile, online harassers have been making fun of her appearance. They passed around her picture and said that her hair, dyed blond, made her look like a loose woman. She went off social media.

“They could not see that one person could work on the issue of democracy and women’s rights at the same time,” Ms. Sirin said. “Thai society is still very patriarchal.”


Credit…Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

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Belarusian Women

How Belarusian women became a strong presence in anti-Lukashenko protests – NBC News

A compelling and unavoidable theme of Belarus’ popular protest movement calling for the removal of Lukashenko, now into its sixth week, is the central role played by women.

From the weekly protests to the leaders organizing and calling for change, women have had a strong presence.

The photo shows Antoniuk and other women shielding some men behind their backs while linking arms — they hoped the security forces would remain lenient toward women. But unable to get to the men, Antoniuk said riot police and unidentified men wearing fatigues and balaclavas started detaining everyone.

“Now it doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or man, young or old,” she said. “Some of them laughed in our faces when we asked them to stop and show some mercy.”

Standing in the front row, Antoniuk said she was prepared to be detained because she can no longer live under Lukashenko’s government. “There is nothing to lose,” she said.

With protests carrying on, Antoniuk struggled to say how long the political crisis might take to resolve.

“I don’t think protests will stop, because there is nowhere for us to retreat to,” she said. “Too much strength and resources were thrown by Belarusians at these protests. I don’t think people will give up easily.”

Weeks ahead of the disputed election and protests that have roiled the nation, three women, all political novices, galvanized the public after all high-profile opposition male candidates were barred from running.

A now iconic image of the three posing with their campaign gestures — Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya with a clenched fist, Maria Kolesnikova with a heart shape and Veronika Tsepkalo with a V-sign — quickly spread.

Maria Kolesnikova, right, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, candidate for the presidential elections, and Veronika Tsepkalo, gesture during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, on July 17. Sergei Grits / AP file

In the run-up to the vote, they criss-crossed the country, their rallies attracting tens of thousands of people and taking authorities by surprise.

Tsikanouskaya registered as a presidential candidate after her husband, political blogger Sergei Tsikhanouskiy, was jailed.

She ran and lost to Lukashenko, although many consider her to be the legitimate winner, accusing the incumbent of rigging the results.

Lukashenko’s victory outraged thousands, making them take to the streets, only to be met by a violent crackdown.

Horrified by the violence, thousands of women wearing all white, carrying flowers and linking arms in so-called “solidarity chains” came out to defy the crackdown.

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Every Saturday since, there has been a peaceful women’s march, with thousands of women attending, condemning violence and urging Lukashenko to step down.

Earlier this month, the United Nations’ women’s rights committee hailed Belarusian women for their role in the political process and protests, saying their voices were not marginal, but central.

“It’s widely recognized that the continuing fight for democracy in Belarus has a female face,” the committee said in a statement.

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Protester Hanna Mirochnik told NBC News that although there is a female presence in the country’s government, women have never before been the face of the protest.

“But now, girls who have never been to a protest in their life, who have always been apolitical have suddenly understood that they can make history and change something,” Mirochnik, 32, said.

Mirochnik, who has attended numerous protests — including women’s marches — since the disputed election, said the female trio of Tsikhanouskaya, Tsepkalo and Kolensikova has opened many women’s eyes to the possibility of a woman calling the shots in high-level politics.

“It was unprecedented for Belarus,” she said.

Hanna Mirochnik stands in front of riot police officers during a rally in Minsk, Belarus.Evgenia Suhoverhova

“Each of them targeted her own audience,” Mirochnik, who works in public relations, added. “Tsikhanouskaya had an understandable narrative as a woman following her husband. She was close to your average woman. Maria Kolesnikova was a perfect image for the new elites. She has European education and elegance. And Veronika Tsepkalo, a female manager, was a woman of few words, but very targeted rhetoric.”

Lukashenko’s patriarchal rhetoric about women has angered many women, Mirochnik added.

Ahead of the election, the president said the country’s constitution was “not meant” for a woman. He later clarified it doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect women, but that “the poor things” would “collapse” under the weight of presidential duties.

“That dismissive rhetoric, that slap on the face was a real gift to the united female campaign,” Mirochnik said.

From the original female trio of opposition leaders only Kolesnikova has remained in Belarus. Tsikhanouskaya and Tsepkalo both fled the country citing safety concerns.

Last week, Kolesnikova’s aides said Belarusian authorities tried to forcibly expel her from the country, but she thwarted their plans by ripping up her passport. She was detained and has since been charged with undermining national security.

Her bold move and refusal to leave the country have cemented the 38-year-old musician-turned-politician’s status as a protest leader.

Kolesnikova, with her signature bleached blonde hair and red lipstick, has walked alongside protesters in rallies, boldly approaching riot police, demanding that mass detentions stop.

Maria Kolesnikova walks past riot policemen blocking the streets during protests in Minsk, Belarus, on Aug. 23.Dmitri Lovetsky / AP file

Mirochnik said while she thinks Kolesnikova’s arrest will not slow down the protests, people have taken her detention as “a personal insult.”

“It has turned people angrier,” she said. “It has increased their motivation to self-organize better.”

She is just one of thousands of people to be detained and thrown behind bars, where they complained of beatings and mistreatment.

Amid international outrage, the police and security forces have continued detaining protesters as the demonstrations carried on, but police have targeted mostly men, avoiding altercations with women — at least in front of the cameras.

Videos circulating on social media showed Belarusian women shielding men to protect them from getting detained — often kicking, screaming and, in some cases, trying to tear balaclavas off security officers, all while documenting police brutality from up close.

But as Lukashenko struggles to quash the unrest, it appears the government is changing its tactic — cracking down on female protesters.

Police officers detain Nina Bahinskaya, 73, during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk on Saturday.AP

On Saturday, police cracked down sharply on a women’s protest march, arresting nearly 400 people, according to Belarusian human rights organization Viasna.

Among the detained was Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old pensioner who has become one of the most recognizable faces of the protests.

The bespectacled pensioner with a boyish haircut has been attending rallies, walking around with a giant version of the country’s historical red-and-white flag and fearlessly engaging with riot police and security officers.

After she was filmed telling a police officer “I am just out for a walk,” many protesters adopted the slogan.

Asya Ilnitskaya at the first Sunday march on Aug.16 in Minsk, Belarus with a banner that reads, “Foreign puppeteers? Where are my 60 rubles?” in reference to remarks by Interior Minister Yuri Karayev that female protesters were getting paid 60 rubles by foreign powers to take part in the protests.

But despite increasing detentions, many women are choosing to press on.

Asya Ilnitskaya said the increasing crackdown on female protesters will not deter her from attending more demonstrations.

“I don’t know if I feel fear anymore. It’s more like desperation,” Ilnitskaya, 25, a social media manager, said.

She has protested since the election night on Aug. 9, managing to avoid detention after hiding from riot police in a car wash, and has carried on ever since.

“Because you either sit at home, shaking, calling everyone and trying to help, or you are on the barricades, so to speak. It’s equally unnerving and scary,” Ilnitskaya said.

“We don’t have fear, we just don’t have a choice,” she added.

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Pregnant Women

Pregnant women with coronavirus more likely to be hospitalized, CDC warns – Fox News

Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus might be at greater risk for hospitalization than women who aren’t pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday, a change from previous guidance that found no difference between the groups with respect to infections.

In its weekly report, the CDC said pregnant women who contract the virus are at greater risk to be hospitalized, admitted into an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator, according to a study of cases reported from January to June.

From Jan. 22 to June 7, the health body reported that 326,335 women, ages 15 to 44, tested positive for COVID-19.

Pregnant women were admitted to an intensive care unit at a 1.5 percent greater frequency than nonpregnant women, at 0.9 percent. A half-percent of pregnant women required mechanical ventilation, compared to 0.3 percent of nonpregnant women, the report said.

However, the research doesn’t conclude that pregnant women are more at risk of dying from COVID-19, as the death rate for both groups was reported at 0.2 percent, the CDC said.

Data was reported to the health agency either electronically or through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, which tracks disease trends. Both groups experience the same symptoms with respect to cough and shortness of breath, but pregnant women reported fewer symptoms of muscle aches, chills, headaches and fever.

The report also cited racial disparities among pregnant women infected with the virus.


Hispanic women had the highest infection rate at 46 percent, while 23 percent were white and 22 percent were black women, the report said.

The CDC previously said there was no data that suggested COVID-19 affected pregnant women differently than other women. They were still included with groups considered at-risk, such as those with underlying health conditions and the elderly before being removed.

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Little Women

‘Little Women: Atlanta’ Star Ashley ‘Ms. Minnie’ Ross Dies At 34 – Access

Published on 28-Apr-2020

“Little Women: Atlanta” star Ashley Ross aka Ms. Minnie has passed away at the age of 34. The news was confirmed on her Instagram account, where her management team posted a statement writing, “It is with profound sadness that we confirm on behalf of the family of Ashley Ross AKA ‘Ms Minnie’ if Little Women Atlanta has succumbed to injuries from a tragic hit and run car accident today at the age of 34.” She’s being remembered other ladies who have appeared on the “Little Women” reality series.


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‘Little Women: Atlanta’ Star Ashley ‘Ms. Minnie’ Ross Dies At 34




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