TIME

Girls Who Escaped ISIS Describe Systematic Rape

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on April 9, 2015.

Girls are forced into marriage and sold as gifts, aid group says

As they destroy antiquities and capture cities, ISIS fighters have also been engaged in a systematic campaign of rape and sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

According to the report, the widespread rape of girls and women from the Yezidi Christian minority group—is part of a organized system of abuse that includes slavery, forced marriage, and giving girls as “gifts” to different men. According to a recent U.N. report, about 3,000 people are currently in ISIS captivity, many of them Yezidi women. Last year, ISIS published an article that lays out its defense of sex slavery on religious grounds, despite the fact that sex slavery is condemned by the international community. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this week.

One 20-year-old Yezidi woman told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held her and about 60 other women in a wedding hall in Syria, to be raped at will. They were told to “forget about your relatives, from now on you will marry us, bear our children, God will convert you to Islam and you will pray.” Here’s how she described the scene:

From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.

As horrific as these stories are, they’re not quite new. Human Rights Watch published a similar report detailing ISIS’s forced marriages and conversions of Yezidi people last year, which focused less on specifically sexual abuse and more on widespread devastation of Yezidi communities. Still, international outrage has done little to stop the violence. “People feel quite powerless in the face of a group like ISIS,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Executive Director for Women’s Rights. “Traditional tactics like naming and shaming just don’t work for them.”

ISIS is not the only Islamist militant group to use sexual violation as a tool of terrorism. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. Based on how Boko Haram has treated other female captives, many fear that the schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sold into sex slavery. Shortly after the kidnapping, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted that he had taken the girls and planned to “sell them on the market.”

More: Boko Haram Has Fled But No One Know the Fate of the Chibok Girls

But despite the atrocities, there is a glimmer of hope in the latest report on ISIS and the Yezidi women. Yezidi religious leaders have issued statements welcoming abused Yezidi girls back into the community after they escape from their captors, a move that may ease the widespread social stigma against girls who have been victims of sexual assault. “That is unusual, and for me personally, that was a heartwarming part,” says Gerntholtz. “They need to be accepted back, they need to be supported. This was very important and very influential to make sure there were no honor killings or honor-related violence.”

TIME TIME 100

Here Are 11 Influential Women You Should Know

Rula Ghani TIME 100 Women
Newsha Tavakolian for TIME Rula Ghani

From the champion of #BringBackOurGirls to those leading the fight against Ebola

When we think of “influential women,” there’s a familiar rotation that comes to mind: Taylor Swift, Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton. This year’s TIME 100 is filled with bold-face names like those, and for good reason. Reese Witherspoon, Emma Watson, Kim Kardashian and Amy Schumer have used their fame to upend expectations about women in entertainment, and leaders like Janet Yellen, Angela Merkel, Elizabeth Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are all fixtures on the 24-hour news cycle. But of the 40 women on this year’s list, many exert a different kind of influence.

Here are 11 women who are slowly working to make the world a better place, whether or not you know their names:

Chai Jing: This Chinese journalist and environmentalist’s documentary, Under the Dome, calls attention to China’s massive pollution problem. It was viewed over 200 million times before government censors attempted to suppress it (although other, more environmentalist sectors of the government supported the movie). The popularity of the film and the intensity of the reaction has prompted comparisons to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, and environmentalists hope the film could nudge the country toward greener policies.

Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier: These two geneticists developed a gene-altering technique that could help fight countless diseases. Inspired by the way ancient bacteria evolved to fight viruses, Doudna and Charpentier created the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, which allows scientists to add or remove genetic material to fight diseases like HIV, sickle-cell anemia or even some forms of cancer. It’s not just one cure for one disease — it’s a major breakthrough that could help scientists fight hundreds of different illnesses by making any number of genetic alterations.

(Read more: Meet the Women Scientists on the TIME 100)

Obiageli Ezekwesili: Even before she became the champion of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Ezekwesili was already a leading voice in Nigerian politics. Known as “Aunty Oby” by some young Nigerians, she founded anti-corruption group Transparency International, served as Nigeria’s Minister of Education in 2006 and as Vice President of World Bank‘s Africa division from 2007-2012. After militant group Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls from a Chibok school, Ezekwesili helped organize a global campaign to demand their immediate return. The girls have now been missing for over a year, and the government’s failure to rescue them was a key issue that contributed to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s victory over incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in the recent Nigerian elections.

Aura Elena Farfán: Ever since her brother was abducted by the Guatemalan military in 1984, Farfán has dedicated her life to getting answers for the thousands of families whose relatives disappeared during the country’s long civil war. She founded FAMDEGUA, an NGO that helps relatives get justice for victims of army violence during the war. Thanks to Farfán, soldiers who committed atrocities during the 1982 massacre at the village of Dos Erres are now serving prison time.

Rula Ghani: She’s a Lebanese Christian, a Columbia graduate, an American citizen and the new First Lady of Afghanistan. The wife of newly elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is looking to start a new chapter for a country that has long been considered one of the harshest places to be born a woman. She was the only one of the presidential candidates’ wives to appear during the campaign, and she is poised to be more hands-on than any Afghan First Lady in recent memory. “I would like to give women out there the courage and the possibility to do something about improving their lives,” she told the BBC last year. “If I’ve achieved a higher respect for women and for their role in society then I would be very happy. That would really be my greatest wish.”

Mellody Hobson: As president of Ariel Investment funds, Hobson is one of the top African-American women in the financial sector. And if one high-powered job weren’t enough, she has several more on her resume: she’s the Chairman of the Board of Dreamworks Animation, and serves on the board of directors for the Estée Lauder Companies Inc, Starbucks and Groupon. Sheryl Sandberg said recently that meeting Hobson helped inspire her to write Lean In: “She said she wanted to be unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman.”

Chanda Kochhar: Kochhar is the managing director and CEO of ICICI, the largest bank in India’s private sector (and the second-largest in the whole country). In 2014, Kochhar oversaw nearly $125 billion in assets and announced an 18% profit increase, and is credited for helping the bank bounce back from the 2008 financial crisis, Forbes reports. Considered one of India’s most powerful women, Kochhar has also been an advocate for expanding mobile banking to more rural Indian communities.

Joanne Liu: As International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders), Liu led the global fight against the Ebola outbreak last year. Born in Canada, Liu has served in more than 20 missions on four continents since joining MSF in 1996. She was promoted to International President in 2013, just before the Ebola outbreak, and her quick and effective response is credited for helping contain the deadly virus. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says Liu and her team “repeatedly got it right,” which helped curb the spread of Ebola.

Kira Orange-Jones: As Executive Director of Teach for America in New Orleans, Orange-Jones helped rebuild the city’s education system in the 10 years since it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Under Orange-Jones’s leadership, the distinction between public and charter schools has virtually disappeared, on-time graduation has increased from 50% to 75%, and college graduation has more than doubled. New Orleans is the second-largest TFA corps in the nation, and under her guidance, TFA teachers and alumni reach 1 in 3 students in the region. And thanks to her, New Orleans is outperforming other cities on ACT tests.

Pardis Sabeti: Pardis led a team of geneticists from Harvard and MIT that performed real-time DNA sequencing of the Ebola virus, which proved that the disease was spreading human-to-human, and not through animals. This crucial piece of information helped doctors and communities curb the spread of the virus. “What people really need to be doing is reducing contact between themselves—because it wasn’t being spread widely by animals or contact with animals,” she explained when she was honored as one of TIME’s People of the Year in 2014. “We need as many minds working on this important problem as we can have. We will only beat this virus together.” She also happens to be a big fan of the band Nine Inch Nails.

TIME health

Watch Jemima Kirke Explain Why She Refused Anesthesia During Her Abortion

She couldn't afford the extra cost

Girls actress Jemima Kirke is opening up about an abortion she got during college.

In a new PSA for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Kirke says she became pregnant with her boyfriend’s child while at college in Providence, R.I. “My life was just not conducive to raising a healthy, happy child,” she says. “I just didn’t feel it was fair.”

Even though her family is well off (her father is former Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, and her mother is fashion designer Lorraine Kirke), she didn’t want to tell her parents about the pregnancy, so she had to pay for the abortion herself. She scraped together the money with her boyfriend, but they didn’t have enough for anesthesia, so she got the abortion without it. “The anesthesia wasn’t that much more, but when you’re scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it is a lot. I just didn’t have it.”

Kirke presents her story as an example of the various obstacles that are put in women’s way when it comes to making reproductive choices. “We think we do have free choice, and we are able to do whatever we want, but then there are these little hoops we have to jump through to get them,” she says.

The actress and painter said she talks about her story in order to reduce the stigma surrounding reproductive choices, and because she wants to protect reproductive rights for her two young daughters. “I would love if when they’re older, and they’re in their teens or their 20s, if the political issues surrounding their bodies were not there anymore,” she said, adding that settling the debate about reproductive rights would give them “one less thing to battle.”

TIME Startups

Snoop Dogg Just Invested in a Weed Delivery Startup

2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards - Arrivals
Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images Snoop Dogg arrives at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on March 29, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Eaze promises to deliver medicinal marijuana in less than 10 minutes

Snoop Dogg is one of several investors helping to fund Eaze, a California-based startup that promises to deliver medical marijuana to your doorstep in less than 10 minutes.

Eaze has raised more than $10 million in funding from DCM Ventures, Fresh VC, 500 Startups and Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital, Quartz reports. Founded by former Yammer employee Keith McCarty, Eaze raised $1.5 million of seed funding in November and became one of the first pot companies to get international investors, perhaps because the business only provides the technology, not the marijuana itself. In the nine months since its launch, Eaze has made 30,000 deliveries, and now the startup is looking to expand its team by hiring 50 people in the next 50 days.

The legal marijuana industry is growing fast: Alaska, Washington D.C., Colorado and Washington state have all legalized recreational marijuana, and 20 states have legalized medical marijuana. And other pot companies are also getting in on the action—according to CB Insights, weed businesses raised a total of $104 million in 59 deals over the course of 2014, with Privateer Holdings (the company selling Bob Marley-branded weed) raking in a $75 million investment from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.

[Quartz]

TIME animals

The Mountain Lion That Was Hiding Under a Los Angeles Home Has Left

This Nov. 2014 photo provided by the National Park Service shows the mountain lion known as P-22, the mountain lion living in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.
AP/National Parks Service This Nov. 2014 photo provided by the National Park Service shows the mountain lion known as P-22, the mountain lion living in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.

He left overnight

A mountain lion that had been hiding under a Los Angeles home since Monday is finally gone, officials said.

The lion, known as P-22, became famous in the area after National Geographic photographer Steve Winter captured an image of the animal in front of the Hollywood Sign. P-22 spends most of his time in Griffith Park, in the Santa Monica Mountains, but on Monday wandered into a crawlspace under the home of Jason and Paula Archinaco.

The big cat was discovered by two workers who were installing a security system in the home. “I didn’t think for two seconds that it was a mountain lion in my house,” Jason Archinaco told the Los Angeles Times. “If someone says Bigfoot’s in your house, you go, ‘Yeah,’ and you stick your head in there.”

P-22 had to cross two major freeways in order to reach Griffith Park, a feat that has made him into something of a big cat celebrity. The National Geographic shot turned him from wildlife celebrity to bona fide star, and scientists have attached a GPS collar to help track his movements.

To get P-22 out from under the home, officials from the Department of Fish and Wildlife poked the mountain lion with a pole, then threw tennis balls and bean bags at him on Monday. Ultimately, they decided to see if he would leave on his own overnight. By Tuesday morning, P-22 was nowhere to be found.

TIME Television

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Will Reunite With Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry and Elaine will grab a coffee just like old times

Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy talk show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is coming back for a sixth season — and this time Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be joining Seinfeld at the wheel.

The web series will be coming back to Sony Crackle on June 4, and Louis-Dreyfus is set to reunite with her Seinfeld co-star on a brief road trip to get a cup of coffee, according to the New York Times. Both Michael Richards (Kramer) and Jason Alexander (George) have got cups of coffee with Seinfeld on his web series — though Alexander’s segment was actually filmed for a Super Bowl ad, in which he appeared in character:

Other guests include soon-to-be-Late Show host Stephen Colbert, new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, Jim Carrey, and Bill Maher.

[NYT]

TIME celebrities

Rita Wilson Undergoes Double Mastectomy After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
Mike Marsland—WireImage Rita Wilson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. (Mike Marsland--WireImage)

Says husband Tom Hanks was by her side

Rita Wilson announced Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and has undergone a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in order to fight the disease.

The actress revealed her diagnosis and treatment in a statement to People, and said the prognosis is good. “I am recovering and most importantly, expected to make a full recovery,” she said. “Why? Because I caught this early, have excellent doctors and because I got a second opinion.”

Wilson has recently appeared on Girls and The Good Wife and recently took a leave from the play A Fish in the Dark because of her health. Wilson said that her husband Tom Hanks was “by my side” through it all.

Read more at People.com

TIME feminism

Here’s the History of the Battle for Equal Pay for American Women

Equal Pay Day
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post/Getty Images Activists gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver, CO, to mark national Equal Pay Day in 2009

The fight for equal pay dates back to the Civil War

Based on national pay-disparity numbers, a hypothetical American woman would have to keep working until roughly April 14, 2015, in order to make the same amount of money as a man doing the same work would have made in 2014 — which is why the activist group the National Committee on Pay Equity has selected Tuesday as this year’s Equal Pay Day. Though the topic will get extra airtime today, the debate about equal pay is nothing new.

In February, 1869, a letter to the editor of the New York Times questioned why female government employees were not paid the same as male ones. “Very few persons deny the justice of the principle that equal work should command equal pay without regard to the sex of the laborer,” the author wrote. “But it is one thing to acknowledge the right of a principle and quite another to practice it.” The author noted that the U.S. Government employed 500 women in the Treasury department, but that they made only half as much as their male colleagues:

“Many of these women are now performing the same grade of work at $900 per annum for which men receive $1800. Most of them, too, have families to support; being nearly all either widow or orphans made by the war.”

That year, a resolution to ensure equal pay to government employees passed the House of Representatives by almost 100 votes, but was ultimately watered down by the time it passed the Senate in 1870.

In 1883, communications across the country ground to a halt when the majority of the workers for Western Union Telegraph Company went on strike, partly to ensure “equal pay for equal work” for its male and female employees (among other demands). The strike wasn’t ultimately successful, but it was a very early public demand for fair pay for women.

By 1911, significant progress had been made. New York teachers were finally granted pay equal to that of their male counterparts, after a long and contentious battle with the Board of Education.

In the 20th century, war was good for women workers. In 1918, at the beginning of World War I, the United States Employment Service published lists of jobs that were suitable for women in order to encourage men in those occupations to switch to jobs that supported the war effort. “When the lists have been prepared…it is believed that the force of public opinion and self-respect will prevent any able-bodied man from keeping a position officially designated as ‘woman’s work,'” the Assistant Director of the U.S. Employment Service said in 1918. “The decent fellows will get out without delay; the slackers will be forced out and especially, I think, by the sentiment of women who stand ready.”

Since women were doing work that men would ordinarily do, the National War Labor Board decided they should be paid the same: “If it shall become necessary to employ women on work ordinarily performed by men, they must be allowed equal pay for equal work.” The same thing happened during WWII, as more women worked in munitions factors and the aircraft industry. During the war effort, equal pay was championed by unions and male workers, although not for entirely altruistic reasons—they were worried that if women were paid less for the same work, management could dilute male workers’ wages after they returned from the war.

After the war ended, the demand for equal pay seemed to lose some steam. In 1947, Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach tried to get an equal pay amendment passed that would apply to the private sector, arguing, “There is no sex difference in the food she buys or the rent she pays, there should be none in her pay envelope.” But as veterans needed work after the war and women were increasingly expected to stay in the home, Schwellenbach’s bid was ultimately unsuccessful.

National legislation was finally passed in 1963, when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law into effect, overcoming opposition from business leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who were concerned that women workers were more costly than male ones. When he signed the bill, Kennedy called it a “significant step forward,” and noted that, “It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.” The next year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion or sex.

There have been more legal wins for female workers since then. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protected pregnant employees, and the Family and Medical Leave act of 1991 allowed parents regardless of genders to take time off. But despite the fact that women made up almost 58% of the labor force in 2012, they still made only 77 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the National Equal Pay Task Force. In 2009, President Obama chose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation, which restores some protections against discrimination that had been stripped in a 2007 Supreme Court case, and incentivizes employers to make their payrolls more fair.

But progress is still slow. Last year, a bill that would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who discuss their wages failed in the Senate.

Read TIME’s 1974 take on equal pay, here in the TIME Vault: Wages and Women

TIME Terrorism

Kansas Man Arrested for Plotting Attack on Army Base, Pledging Loyalty to ISIS

"We will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep."

A Kansas man was arrested Friday for planning to detonate a bomb at a U.S. army base and pledging loyalty to the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), prosecutors said, the latest of several ISIS-related arrests on American soil.

John T. Booker, a 20-year old U.S. Citizen from Topeka, was planning a suicide attack on the Fort Riley army base in Kansas in an attempt to support ISIS, authorities said. A criminal complaint alleges that Booker, who also goes by the name Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, posted to Facebook “I will soon be leaving you forever so goodbye! I’m going to wage jihad and hopes that i die” and “Getting ready to be killed in jihad is HUGE adrenaline rush!! I am so nervous. NOT because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.”

The alleged plot comes in the wake of other home-grown terrorism arrests over the last two weeks. On Thursday, a Wisconsin man was arrested for trying to join ISIS, and last Friday a Philadelphia mother of two was arrested for trying to go to Syria to martyr herself for the group. And last week, two New York City women were arrested after allegedly plotting a Boston Marathon-style attack.

When the FBI questioned Booker about his Facebook posts, he said he enlisted in the U.S. Army with the intent to commit an insider attack like Major Nidal Hassan did at Fort Hood in Texas, according to prosecutors. He said if his army officer ever told him to kill a fellow Muslim, he would kill the officer instead.

After waiving his Miranda rights, Booker also told the agents that he intended to target high-ranking army officials, but that he didn’t envision using a machine gun—he was more interested in an attack with a small gun or sword. This led to Booker being denied entry into the military, but he was not immediately arrested.

Throughout his plan to attack Fort Riley, Booker was accompanied by two undercover FBI agents who he believed were helping him. Booker rented two storage units where he kept materials and explosives for a car bomb, and planned for the accomplices to build the bomb, prosecutors said. The plan was for Booker and one of the accomplices to bring the bomb to Fort Riley and for Booker to detonate it himself, since he wanted to be the one to flip the switch, prosecutors said.

Booker also asked the undercover officers to take care of his debts so he could enter paradise as a martyr after his death. In one of the videos he made about his plan, he said:

“Today, Inshallah, we are going to build this bomb with 1,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate… This message is to you, America. You sit in your homes and you think that this war is just over in Iraq… we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep. You think this is just a game… when this bomb blows up and kills as many kuffar [non-Muslims] as possible, maybe then you’ll realize it.

Booker was arrested by FBI agents Friday, as he drove in to Fort Riley to carry out the attack. As he was making preparations to detonate the device, he was taken into custody. He is facing federal charges for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. property. Booker, who is being represented by the Federal Public Defender’s office, will plead not guilty.

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