TIME India

Watch 2 Women Beat Their Alleged Harassers on a Bus in India

The men have been arrested and charged with assault

Two students in the northern state of Haryana wailed on three men on a bus who they say sexually harassed them.

The women, two sisters named Aarti and Pooja, were on their way home in the Rohtak district when 19-year old Pooja says the men “threatened and abused” them, according to the BBC. When the men wouldn’t stop touching them, and after no other passengers came to their aid, Pooja and her sister started beating them with their belts.

The men have since been arrested and charged with assault.

[BBC]

TIME politics

The Woman Who Broke the U.K.’s Parliamentary Gender Barrier Wasn’t Even Trying

Lady Astor
Lady Nancy Astor in Plymouth, England, in November of 1923 Gill / Getty Images

Dec. 1, 1919: American-born socialite Lady Astor is sworn in as the first female member of the British House of Commons

Lady Astor was an unlikely candidate to break the gender barrier in the U.K. Parliament. For one thing, she wasn’t British; for another, she wasn’t a suffragist. She took her seat in the House of Commons on this day, Dec. 1, in 1919, after running for her husband’s vacant spot when he was given the title of Viscount and elevated to the House of Lords. (She was the second woman to have been elected to the House of Commons, but the first to accept the position.)

She barely wanted the job, according to her election pamphlet. At times she seemed to go out of her way to alienate voters, as when she ended a campaign speech in front of a working-class crowd by saying, according to the New York Times, “And now, my dears, I’m going back to one of my beautiful palaces to sit down in my tiara and do nothing, and when I roll out in my car I will splash you all with mud and look the other way.”

But Nancy Astor had a flair for upending expectations. The Virginia native, whose father was a tobacco auctioneer, ascended to the upper crust of the British aristocracy but never lost her frank, outspoken manner or her earthy sense of humor. The latter was even more jarring when combined with her conservative politics: she was a strict teetotaler and a staunch anti-socialist.

History does not cast her as a particularly influential MP. Although she was re-elected seven times before retiring in 1945, the Times notes, “she accomplished nothing more noteworthy than the forcing through of a bill barring teenagers from entering pubs.”

Still, her witticisms made waves. Her sharp tongue could get her in trouble, but its overall effect was, if not endearing, then at least entertaining. Per the Times, “…she was capable in the House of Commons of doing anything from whistling to calling a fellow member a donkey.”

If she hadn’t pursued politics, Astor could have had a promising career as an insult comic. Her best lines became known as Astorisms, and they tended to take harsh aim at her rivals as well as her friends. According to her 1964 obituary in TIME, her favorite targets included “fellow politicians, her fellow rich (“The only thing I like about them is their money”), Communists, Socialists, Nazis, Yankees, liquor manufacturers, newspapers (her husband’s family owned two), antifeminists, the cult of the Common Man.”

Sometimes her attacks were personal — and borderline cruel. After voting to oust Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, an old friend and former political ally, she famously said, “Duds must be got rid of, even if they are one’s dearest friends.”

Her vote against Chamberlain helped pave the way for Winston Churchill to take office, but she had few kind words for him either. Churchill was, at least, her equal in trading barbs. In one exchange, she is said to have told him, “If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.” He replied, “If I were married to you, I’d drink it.”

Read the full obituary for Lady Astor, here in the TIME Vault: The Ginger Woman

TIME Parenting

Problems With Breastfeeding Triggered My Postpartum Depression

baby and milk
Getty Images

I really felt that my inability to exclusively breastfeed my son was a complete personal failure that would affect him for the rest of his life

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I was pregnant, I was all about breastfeeding. I knew it was the best, healthiest, smartest way to feed my unborn baby. I read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding” and I was convinced that my baby and I would be naturals at it. I scoffed at the price of formula in the pharmacy. I wondered who would choose to buy it when you have perfectly good, milk-producing boobs attached to you, giving out baby food for FREE.

I planned to nurse my baby wherever I was if he or she needed to eat and I DARED anyone to say anything nasty or ignorant. I even looked up the damn laws regarding public breastfeeding in NYC and whether anyone could legally ask you to cover up. I was just so sure that breastfeeding would come so easily to us; I didn’t even acknowledge the fact that it might not work out.

Then my son was born. The blissful, drug-free birth I hoped for turned into an elective C-section when my OB demonstrated for me exactly how small the opening between my hip bones was during a painful pelvic exam. Basically, there was little chance my 8lb 13oz baby was going to come out without significant trauma to both of us.

I went past my due date with my cervix still high, closed and tight. My doctor advised that we could induce (which I was not a good candidate for given the state of my cervix) where I would go through painful, drug-induced contractions for up to three days. If my big baby didn’t come out by then, I would have to get a cesarean. Or, we could just cut to the chase (pun intended) and I could have the C-section without the three days of hell prior to it. It was a no-brainer — I scheduled the surgery for the next day.

The C-section was successful and my beautiful, healthy boy was born kicking and screaming. In fact, he gave a brilliant demonstration of how well his kidneys were functioning by peeing on the doctor seconds after he took his first breath. We did skin-to-skin contact to stimulate milk production and he latched on like a champ as soon as we hit the recovery room. He nursed contentedly and everything was going just as I hoped it would, until our first night home from the hospital.

He nursed for close to two hours before we went to bed. Being the naive first-time parents that we were, we assumed he would sleep for HOURS after eating that much. We were quickly proved wrong when he woke up screaming 20 minutes later. After diapering him, burping him, rocking him, swaddling him, and trying every other trick the nurses in the hospital taught us to soothe his cries, we realized he must be hungry. I put him to the breast and he popped off, screaming.

After trying this for close to an hour with no success, and both my husband and I nearing exhaustion, we fed him a bottle of the ready-to-feed formula gifted to us by the hospital “just in case” he had trouble nursing when we got home. He sucked it down as if he hadn’t eaten in days and slept peacefully for hours, but I lay awake guiltily crying at how I had failed my son.

Things didn’t get easier as time passed. Even if he would nurse, he would scream minutes after finishing. It was clear he wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed from me. I used a breast pump round the clock since he continued to refuse my breast but had no trouble drinking from a bottle. Every mommy-blog I read said to withhold bottle feedings so he would take the breast but it broke my heart every time I heard his hungry cries and I would give in and feed him either pumped breast milk or formula. I became totally exhausted because the only time I could pump was when he slept, going against the age-old “sleep when baby sleeps” maxim.

When I wasn’t pumping, I was poring over articles about how to increase milk supply and drinking teas designed to increase production.

Exhaustion is one of the main contributing factors to postpartum depression and before I knew it I was crying multiple times a day about my perceived failings as a mother. I felt so much guilt every time I gave him a bottle that wasn’t breast milk, but pumping doesn’t maintain a milk supply the way that a baby nursing directly from the breast does.

In addition to my guilt, I felt rejected since my son wouldn’t nurse from me. I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with me that I couldn’t master breastfeeding, which I foolishly thought would be the most natural thing in the world. The blogs stressed that I should just continue to offer the breast and pump every two hours. I felt weak when I would choose a short nap over pumping. I hated myself whenever I allowed someone else to give him a bottle so I could get a few hours of sleep.

I constantly second guessed myself and my abilities as a mother. In my darkest moments, I wondered if it was a mistake to have a baby in the first place. I wondered where I got off thinking I was capable of caring for another human being. I wept for my poor son who was stuck with a mother who was so woefully unable to give him the care he deserved. It felt like a cruel joke. I felt miserable during the time in my life that should have been the most joyful.

I saw a lactation consultant and she confirmed that my baby was only getting a fraction of the milk that he needed by nursing. My milk supply was plentiful at that time as a result of my round the clock pumping, my baby’s latch was perfect, and his sucking reflex was strong. We just couldn’t find a reason why nursing was unsuccessful.

I felt some relief that my problems with breastfeeding weren’t entirely my fault. But I couldn’t get over the idea that maybe if I just tried a little harder or read a few more articles that I could get it right. I really felt that my inability to exclusively breastfeed my son was a complete personal failure that would affect him for the rest of his life. Every time he refused the breast and I had to give him formula, I was devastated.

This went on for two weeks, although it felt much longer. I didn’t know if I would ever feel happy again. I went to my OB to have my stitches removed and when she asked me how I was feeling, I completely broke down. Somehow she convinced me that giving my son formula didn’t make me a bad mother while dabbing my tears away with gauze.

She reminded me that motherhood didn’t equal martyr-hood and that I needed to take care of myself in order to give my sweet baby the best care possible.

Once I took that to heart, and allowed myself to sleep without feeling guilty that I wasn’t pumping, I felt better within days. I felt like my pre-baby self again and for the first time since we got home from the hospital, I really enjoyed being a mom.

My son just turned three months old and he is thriving. I still pump, and I still feel guilty sometimes. But my baby is happy and healthy and I know I’m doing the very best I can, for both of us.

My copious middle of the night research on formula vs. breast milk lead to me recent studies which suggest that maybe breast milk isn’t that superior to formula after all. I know that every time I heard “breast is best,” a little piece of my heart broke that I had to give my baby less than the best.

So much of the literature on baby care completely ignores self-care for mothers. Maybe instead of pushing something that is unattainable for so many mothers, we as a society should just advocate whatever is best for baby AND mom — even if that means formula feeding.

Kaity Garcia is an executive assistant working for an international investment bank in New York.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

The Most Destructive Gender Binary

gender equality
Getty Images

Gary Barker, Ph.D., is founder and International Director of Promundo, an international organization with offices in the United States, Brazil and Portugal and representatives in Rwanda and Burundi, that works to engage men and boys in gender equality and ending violence against women.

We need to show the world just how much each gender depends on the other, and how men, too, benefit from full equality

It was the latest setback for women’s empowerment. But you probably haven’t heard about it.

Part of the gender equality goal set to replace one of the U.N.’s soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals didn’t make it through. The target left on the cutting room floor? Engaging men and boys around gender equality issues.

Why, exactly, is this is a setback for women’s equality? Because the fates of the two genders are intertwined; for women to thrive, men and boys must be part of the gender equality agenda. Why, then, in 2014, are we still addressing gender issues as a binary, girls vs. boys, women vs. men? And how can we get beyond it?

We asked that big question at a conference last week in Delhi — organized by the global MenEngage alliance ( full disclosure: I’m co-chair and co-founder of the alliance). Our answer – to get beyond the binary, and to achieve the promise of empowering women — we need to show the world just how much each gender depends on the other, and how men, too, benefit from full equality.

Let’s start with violence. If you want to combat violence against women, you’ve got to understand, and address, violence against boys. Let me explain. Global data confirms that about one-third of the world’s women have experienced violence from a male partner. We have little evidence — with the possible exception of the U.S. and Norway — that any country has been able to reduce its overall rates of men’s violence against women. There are challenges with measuring violence, to be sure, but it’s far too early to claim that we have made real progress in reducing the daily threat to women and girls.

Why haven’t we moved the needle? Partly because we’ve been coming up with solutions for only half of the affected population. We know that men who witness violence growing up are nearly three times more likely to go on to use violence against female partners. Data also show that men who witness violence growing up are more likely to be depressed, contemplate suicide, and more likely to binge drink. In other words, men’s lives, too, are harmed by the violence of men. Ending violence against women must also mean ending violence against boys and men.

Unpaid care work is another area where we can see the same intertwined narrative playing out. Women do the majority of the unpaid care work in the world. And yet, studies show that when men take on those responsibilities, they’re happier, less likely to be depressed (and have better sex lives). According to one study in the U.S., we even live longer as men when we’re involved fathers. A study in Sweden finds that involved fathers are less likely to miss work, and are healthier. Not to mention all the data showing that children benefit when fathers are involved in caring for them.

Or consider this: a recent World Health Organization report confirmed that there are 800,000 deaths from suicides each year, about two-thirds of those are men. We know something about which men commit suicide: men who are socially isolated, who feel they can’t reach out for help, whose sense of identity was lost when they lost their livelihoods. Men who, in part at least, are stuck in outdated notions of manhood.

What’s more, entire economies benefit when women can devote more time to the paid workforce. If women’s participation in the workforce were equal to men’s, the U.S. GDP would be nine percent larger and India’s GDP would be 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars bigger. Yet right now, that disparity is arguably the single largest driver of women’s lower wages compared to men. Globally, 77 percent of men participate in the paid workforce, compared to just 50 percent of women—a proportion that has remained virtually unchanged for 25 years.

Even when women are in the workplace, they earn on average 18 percent less than men for the same work. Few countries outside of Scandinavia have created policy incentives to encourage men to do a near-equal share of unpaid care work. We know what it has taken in Scandinavia to push us closer toward equality in terms of care work: paid paternity leave. In other words, encouraging men to do a greater share of the care work.

Guess what? A little encouragement goes a long way. Today, with paid leave and “use-it-or-lose-it” leave for fathers only, the majority of men in Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Quebec (which has policies similar to the Nordic countries) are taking leave of six weeks or more. Iceland is the global leader: fathers there take an average of 103 days of paid paternity leave.

We’re stuck in a similar gender box when it comes to empowering women to control how many children they have. In 2005, women represented 75 percent of global contraceptive users and men 25 percent. In 2014, women represent 73 percent. Hardly numbers to celebrate and proclaim equality; indeed, that change does not even pass the confidence interval. Why does it matter? Well, last time I checked, reproduction involves both women and men. Anything less than 50-50 in terms of contraceptive use cannot be called equality. By not engaging men as equal partners in contraceptive use, we hold women back. This doesn’t mean giving men control over women’s bodies; it means engaging men to assume their share of reproduction as respectful, aware and supportive partners.

In terms of HIV/AIDS, the story is similar. We have made amazing strides in rolling out HIV testing and treatment. Treatment as prevention is working in many countries. One of the key remaining obstacles in reducing HIV rates and AIDS-related mortality rates even more is the fact that in much of the world, men are far less likely than women to seek HIV testing and treatment. The result is increased risk for women and higher AIDS-related mortality among men.

The arguments could go on. From economic empowerment for women to violence prevention, the evidence consistently affirms that engaging men as partners in gender equality is more effective than only tapping women. And the data is clear that men who support gender equality, are more supportive, democratic partners and get involved in their share of the care work are happier men.

Twenty years after one of the largest events to promote women’s equality in Beijing — where Hillary Clinton made her famous proclamation that “women’s rights are human rights” — the conclusion is this: we won’t achieve full equality for women until we move beyond binary us-versus-them, women-versus-men thinking. We must commit to ending patriarchy in the lives of women and in the lives of men. As men, we must acknowledge that we have an equal stake in gender equality. In fact, let’s acknowledge this: our lives get better when we embrace it.

Gary Barker, Ph.D., is founder and International Director of Promundo, an international organization with offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Washington, DC, and Kigali, Rwanda, that works to engage men and boys in gender equality and ending violence against women. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Shopping

12% of Black Friday Shoppers Will Be Drunk (and More Crazy Facts About the Holiday Frenzy)

141128_HO_Lede
Shoppers wait to enter the Aeropostale store in Tyson's Corner, Virginia during 'Midnight Madness' at the Tyson's Corner Center in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.. Tyson's Corner Center is the largest shopping center in the Washington, DC area. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

How many people will go shopping this weekend? What day actually has the best deals? How much will the average shopper spend? How many of them are tipsy while they're browsing for gifts?

Read on for answers to the above, as well as other nuggets about what’s in store for consumers during the annual Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend shopping extravaganza.

Less Than 5% The average discount on Black Friday for 6,000 items tracked last year by the deal-hunting site ShopAdvisor; researchers found that the average discount during the holiday period was highest on December 18 (17.5%).

5 Number of hours that RadioShack will shut down on Thanksgiving (noon to 5 p.m.); it had originally planned to stay open from 8 a.m. to midnight, but decided to close during the middle of the day after receiving complaints from employees.

10 Number of employees at a Virginia Best Buy whose sole job is to restock items as soon as there are gaps on store shelves on Black Friday.

12% Proportion of Thanksgiving Day shoppers who admit to hitting the stores on the holiday while under the influence of alcohol, according to a survey conducted on the behalf of the coupon site RetailMeNot.

16% vs. 50% Respectively, the percentages of shoppers ages 55+ and 18 to 24 and who think it’s “a great idea” for stores to be open on Thanksgiving.

22 Number of days before Black Friday that two women in California began camping out at a Best Buy in order to be first in line for deals. They hope to buy a cheap TV.

25% Amount of extra trash thrown away by Americans during the Thanksgiving-New Year’s period, compared to any other time of the year.

28% vs. 32% Percentages of women and men, respectively, who plan on spending $250 to $500 on Black Friday (yes, more guys than girls).

At Least 3 Dozen Number of national retailers, including Costco, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, and Nordstrom, that have decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

38% Percentage of shoppers who plan on purchasing holiday gifts with credit cards, up from 28.5% last year and the highest level recorded since the National Retail Federation has asked the question in surveys.

39% Proportion of Americans who feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season.

42 Number of consecutive hours that Kmart stores will be open, starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and lasting through midnight on Black Friday.

70% Percentage of consumers who say that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving this year, up from 60% in 2012.

70% Percentage of consumers who say that Black Friday is meaningless because “there will be more sales throughout the holidays.”

71% Percentage of consumers who say they may not like the gift they receive over the holidays.

96% Percentage of consumers who say that discounts are important to their shopping decisions during the holidays, up from 94% last year—and three in ten say that they’ll hold out for discounts of 50% or more before making a purchase.

$407 Average amount spent by consumers over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, down 4% compared to the year before.

$450 Minimum you must spend at one of two malls in southern California in order to receive a free Uber ride home, starting on Black Friday and stretching through Christmas Eve.

140 Million Estimated number of consumers who will shop in stores or online this weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, roughly the same as the expectations leading into the 2013 Thanksgiving-Black Friday period.

 

TIME Culture

Meet the Woman Who Invented Your Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving plate
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This vision of the overflowing feast represented mid-19th century ideals of the woman’s role in creating a perfect home

Thanksgiving betrays a need — which we see throughout American history — to create a shared national identity. And, in this case, we have addressed that hunger by creating shared food traditions. Because very little is known about what actually happened at the “first Thanksgiving,” we’ve been free to commemorate it based on what we’ve needed it to look like over time.

Most of what is known about the foods of the “first Thanksgiving” is based on what foods were common at that time in the region, and a letter written by Edward Winslow to a friend in England describing the feast in 1621. Winslow wrote that Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony sent men out to hunt wildfowl (most likely goose or duck) while Wampanoag Indians brought deer to the feast. While turkeys were plentiful in New England in the 1620s, historians agree that it is unlikely that they were the centerpiece of the “first Thanksgiving.” Turkeys were hard to catch and the meat was tough. Fish, however, would have been plentiful and almost certainly part of any harvest celebration.

Cranberries were native to New England and would have been in the native diet in the 1620s, so they could have been part of the Thanksgiving meal, too. We also know that pumpkins, a type of squash, were eaten in 1620s New England, though there was no flour and hence no pies.

With very little historical basis on which to create a shared national holiday, America needed someone to tell them how the holiday should be celebrated. And Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was just the woman for the job. Hale was the editor of Godey’s Ladies Book, a very popular women’s magazine of the mid-19th century.

She first wrote about the Thanksgiving meal in her novel Northwood: A Tale of New England, published in 1827. She described a “lordly” roast turkey at the head of the table, “sending forth the rich odor of its savory stuffing.” Her meal included “a sirloin of beef, flanked on either side by a leg of pork and a joint of mutton,” and “pies of every description known in Yankee land.”

This vision of the overflowing feast represented mid-19th century ideals of the woman’s role in creating a perfect home and her writings created the “classic” American Thanksgiving ideal. As the United States was divided by the Civil War, Hale wrote a letter to President Lincoln urging him to make the day a national event, one that would bring Americans together. On October 3, 1863, Lincoln did just that.

As America entered the 20th century, Americans tweaked their Thanksgiving food traditions to reflect the modern vision of America. Progress, innovation, and technology all became part of the Thanksgiving table. Cranberries too delicate to transport long distances from New England started getting packaged and canned in 1912, under the name Ocean Spray Preserving Company. Now cranberries could enjoy a longer shelf life and become fixtures on the Thanksgiving table far away from cranberry bogs. The vast majority of pumpkins grown in America today are turned into canned pumpkin puree, which takes away the need to bake and mash a real pumpkin for pie. So nowadays our Thanksgiving feast is as much a tribute to the mid-20th-century modernist ideal as it is to a 19th-century idealized view of our 17th-century origin story.

My Thanksgiving meal this year is going to be a mash-up. I can’t give up the canned cranberry sauce, even though locavores might shudder at the idea. But I’ve also ordered a “heritage” turkey — a bird that has more in common with a wild turkey than a Butterball — and added fish to the menu as a way to give those around my dinner table a taste of what the Pilgrims might have tasted back then. And I’m also going to add some mutton, as a nod to Hale’s Northwood feast. Thanksgiving not only reflects who Americans are, but also how creative we can be in putting new twists on old experiences.

Susan Evans is program director of the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She originally wrote this piece for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME gender

The Brutal Triple Murder Behind the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Busts of the Mirabal sisters at the muse
Busts of the Mirabal sisters at the museum in the village of Salcedo, north of Santo Domingo. The Mirabal sisters were assasinated in 1960 during the dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo. (RICARDO HERNANDEZ--AFP/Getty Images) RICARDO HERNANDEZ—AFP/Getty Images

Nov. 25 kicks off 16 days of activism to advance equality for women

The Empire State Building was lit up orange Monday night, but the color wasn’t a reference to a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. It was to mark Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which hits its 15th anniversary this year.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women isn’t just a single day — it’s the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which culminates on Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. The days are meant to “symbolically link violence against women with human rights, and to emphasize that such violence is the worst form of violation of women’s human rights,” explains Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the U.N. and Deputy Executive Director of U.N. Women. “Violence against women is one of the most tolerated violations of human rights. It’s unacceptable.”

And Nov. 25 wasn’t randomly chosen. Though the day now addresses the issue of violence against women everywhere, its story starts with one particular — and particularly brutal — act.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was started in 1999 to commemorate the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were assassinated on this date in 1960 for opposing dictator Rafael Trujillo. The three sisters started an anti-Trujillo group called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, named after a massacre reportedly ordered by the dictator. They called themselves, “Las Mariposas,” or “the butterflies,” and openly protested Trujillo and his regime. To retaliate, his henchmen beat the sisters to death in a cane field and faked a car accident to explain their deaths.

Puri says the day was chosen to commemorate the Mirabal sisters’ courage in taking political action despite the brutality they faced. “Violence against women in politics is also a very particular form of violence, to intimidate them so they don’t engage in politics,” she says.

The 16 Days of Activism are meant to raise global awareness of the violence endured by women and girls around the world, Puri explains. The 16 days will include marches, marathons and other public activism to promote gender equality and improve the lot of women everywhere. According to U.N. estimates, 35% of women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence, 700 million women alive today were married as children and more than 133 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation. The U.N. estimates that in 2012 over half of murdered women were killed by partners or family members, and that 120 million girls worldwide have been forced to have sex at some point in their lives. “Together, we must end this global disgrace,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said at a ceremony before the lighting of the Empire State Building.

“It’s a very difficult issue to tackle without a mindset change,” Puri says, adding that the 16 Days of Activism are intended to challenged the entrenched gender inequality in most societies. Activists in Mexico City will run a marathon to end the violence, a film series about women’s lives will be screened in Uganda and public spaces in India will turn orange to support the cause. But do any of these actions really help women who are trapped in forced marriages or subjected to brutal violence? “It creates a culture of zero tolerance,” she says. “It creates awareness, it shows the determination of people, and it becomes the new normal.”

The day has been celebrated every year since 1999, but it takes on extra significance this year. It’s not just the 15th anniversary of the first The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, but it’s also an occasion to look forward to 2015, which will mark 20 years since the groundbreaking Beijing Platform for Action. That’s where Hillary Clinton made her famous speech saying, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

The U.N. is also taking greater steps to include men in their mission to elevate global women, with their He for She program launched this year. Puri says they’re trying to challenge the idea “that it’s a right of a man to be violent and that it’s the fate of the woman to be subjected to violence.”

“These things,” she says, “have to change.”

TIME Turkey

Turkish President Says Men and Women Are Not Equal

It's not the first time he's publicly said something offensive

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has caused a controversy by saying women and men are not equal—at a women’s justice summit.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” Erdogan said. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

He went on to say that feminists do not understand how the Muslim faith honors mothers: “Our religion regards motherhood very highly. Feminists don’t understand that, they reject motherhood.”

This is not the first time Erdogan has gotten attention for saying something offensive about women. In the past, he has said that women should have least three kids, and he has tried to outlaw abortion, the Associated Press reports.

He also recently caused a stir by arguing that Muslims were the first to discover the Americas.

[AP]

Read next: Vote Now: Who Should Be TIME’s Person of the Year?

TIME women

I Was Catcalled While Pregnant

Walking with cars
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I naively thought a prominent pregnant belly would provide me with a protective bubble from street harassment

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I’ve been a victim of street harassment since I was a tween. It’s just par for the course. I usually dealt with it in a passive way: ignore it and get away as quickly and quietly as possible. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t acknowledge them. Just keep walking. Focused ignorance.

I was catcalled one day shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I blissfully imagined what my belly would look like in a few months time and how the harassment would stop. I was (and am) pregnant, and naively thought a prominent pregnant belly would provide me with a protective bubble, although admittedly temporary. Never did I imagine that not only would I experience catcalling while pregnant, but harassers would be even more aggressive.

I was walking to work the first time it happened. A man was walking toward me and I could feel his eyes examining every inch of me. He evidently decided my breasts were the best place to keep his gaze, and as I hurried to pass him, discontented, disgusted, a little afraid, mostly angry, he muttered comments about my body. Wonderful.

I wanted to scream at him to keep his eyes and comments to himself, and learn a little respect. Instead, I defaulted to my usual focused ignorance.

The incident left me shocked, disgusted and confused. My pregnancy was clearly showing, and I had assumed pregnancy would provide some relief from the sexually objectifying gaze of street harassers. Imagine, walking down the street without being catcalled — what a world!

Generally in American society, pregnant women are seen as beautiful, but in a non-sexual way. Because they are preparing for motherhood, pregnant women are to remain asexual, keeping a holy mind and body, focused solely on motherhood. But some men have found a way to separate pregnant women from their bodies. The pregnant body itself is no different than any other female body in that it is subject to inspection and commentary, including sexually, especially in public spaces.

One only has to look at the covers of entertainment magazines to realize that a woman’s body is never her own, including a pregnant one. Tabloids are always making comments about pregnant celebrities — who’s fat/sexy/rockin’ the bump — and are relentless in pointing out women who they claim have “let themselves go” during pregnancy.

But sometimes magazines overtly sexualize a pregnant woman, not in a powerful way, showing that the pregnant woman can be sexual, but in an objectifying way, creating a sexy image for the viewer’s gaze.

Interestingly, the first magazine cover to present a naked pregnant body was done so as a feminist statement. The now well-known 1991 Vanity Fair cover displayed a proud and pregnant Demi Moore, whose eyes gazed off camera, with little makeup or jewelry. A simple image that tackled complex issues surrounding the pregnant body, it was groundbreaking.

Fast forward in time and the pregnant cover and spread conveys a whole new message — sex. Heavy eye makeup, flashy jewels, seductive pose, and bedroom eyes are par for the course. The images scream “sexual object,” reminding our society that these bodies are here for our enjoyment.

When you’re pregnant, your body is not your own; complete strangers feel entitled to say something to you. Some of these comments are nice (e.g., asking when you’re due or saying congratulations), while other times the commenters should have probably kept their mouth shut (e.g., remarking how huge your belly is, asking if you’re having twins, etc.).

Usually I’m by myself when these comments are made, but once a dear friend happened to be with me. We were going to an art museum and the ticket collector made a comment about my belly. It was nothing offensive, and clearly intended as genial, but my friend joked “Gee, it must be great having everyone comment on your body at all times.”

I shrugged it off — I’d become used to the fact that people felt the right to discuss my body like it’s public property. But really, I was just glad that the comment wasn’t sexual in nature. Yup, my standards have been lowered. I never imagined that I would be sexually harassed while pregnant, but that’s the reality. A disgusting and frustrating reality.

As my baby bump continues to grow, each lingering gaze and crude comment continues to be a source of distress. I’m not certain what these men are thinking, but for some reason, they act like their advances are compliments.

For me and the women I know, these comments have never been perceived as compliments and they never will be — especially now. Each whistle, each lip-smack, each wink, each “Mmm, hey baby” feels like a threat aimed not just at me, but to my unborn child as well. No, I don’t need your praise on how good you think my body looks, or need to know what you would do to any part of my body. Bugger off!

Although I’ve always dealt with catcalling in a passive manner, this new violation brings out the angry mama bear in me. Still, I dare not say anything for fear of the repercussions. Sure, I might be able to get them to shut up, but then again, I could also trigger one of the harassers to do something extreme, something that we’ve seen in the news far too often this year (e.g., the woman shot and killed because she refused to give a man her number, or the woman whose throat was cut for, again, refusing her catcaller. Sadly, I could go on…).

This underlying fear is paralyzing. As a woman, there are too many risks in calling out your aggressor, especially when there is another life at stake. Not to mention I’m moving slower than normal these days, making it even more difficult to escape from the situation in a timely manner.

So what’s a girl to do?! I wish I had the answer. I’ve debated printing off “What would your mother think?!” cards, but again, I can’t waddle away fast enough to not fear retaliation.

But I have decided on one thing, I will not start wearing baggy clothes to cover up my body. I’m proud that I’m growing a human inside me; it’s freakin’ hard work, so you better believe I’m walking with pride! In the meantime, I’m working on my resting-bitch-face and walking without eye contact, belly-poppin’ pregnant-waddle and all.

Terra Olsen is a writer and game content manager for an indie mobile gaming company.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

I Am a ‘Conscious’ Black Woman Who Fell for a White Man

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Here I was: Ms. HBCU, Afro-turned-locs-sporting, ankh-wearing, and lover of all things Black — falling for a white man

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

In the words of my hero Maya Angelou, “I can’t believe my good fortune, and I am just so grateful, to be a Black woman. A Black American woman. I would be so jealous if I were anything else.”

I learned that “Black” was intended to mean “inferior” at the age of five and by the time I was ready for college I had only begun to learn why I should rejoice in my Blackness. I grew up in this spirit. I survived being “the smart Black girl” at majority white schools in this spirit, and rejected an opportunity for full scholarship at a predominately white institution to attend the best university on the globe (naturally a historically black one) — because of this spirit.

Being a Black person at an HBCU is nothing short of divine. A community of academics who understand you, instructors who are exceptionally hard on you because they know what you’re up against in this world, and an ever-present aura that dispels every negative thing that you were taught about your color from the moment you knew what it was.

I chopped off my chemically processed hair, took every class I could led by the master of Africana Studies, Dr. Gregory Carr, and wore an ankh on my body every chance I got.

Needless to say, I only dated Black men.

Though I find Black men physically attractive, what I really, really find attractive is the unspoken understanding that exists between me and a Black man of my choosing. I love not explaining why I tie my hair up at night, or that my skin would burn in beach sun without sunblock. I love arguing about whether “Love Jones” or “Love and Basketball” was the greatest Black love story of the ’90s. I could never date outside of Black men, I thought. It would never work.

But I was W-R-O-N-G! I could and I did.

We’ll call him Mazzi for discretion’s sake. He stood about 6 feet and 5 inches. He was handsome, funny, and a bit cynical. We worked in the same space, after I had graduated from college, for about a year. I hardly noticed him at the onset but eventually we began talking and sharing inside jokes and such. And one day he asked me on a date.

There was naturally some apprehension: 1) because we worked together AND 2) because he was unquestionably a white man.

I expressed my desire to keep it quiet at work and Mazzi agreed, so we went.

I laughed a lot that evening. Like from pick-up to drop-off. As our dates went on for some months, I began to notice the disapproving eyes of people around us when we were out together.

“Do you see how people look at us?!” I asked one day.

“Yeah,” he said nonchalantly. “It happens all the time. People don’t have shit going on in their own lives so that fact that I’m here with this ‘self-aware’ Black woman is earth shattering to them.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He smiled cautiously.

Time passed and we grew closer. I had just gotten into running and he was a thrower for his college’s track team so he would offer me advice on what I can do to get faster and stronger (he also gave awesome back rubs). He was a writer who never put his thoughts down and I encouraged him to do so. He had become my sounding board when I would get overwhelmed and met disappointments in my medical school application process, and I was his “therapist” who eventually got to the root of his cynicism. We were comfortable with one another. At some point in all this, I changed jobs to work in my field and we no longer had the “work thing” to consider.

Here I was: Ms. HBCU, Afro-turned locs sporting, ankh wearing, and lover of all things Black — falling for a white man.

He brought up the subject of a relationship and I retreated. I’d talk about my reluctance to get in relationships (which was true) and he didn’t push the issue. But of course eventually I entered a relationship with him because it only made sense.

My two closest friends were shocked but very supportive and liked him a lot. I liked him too. He was the ideal, except he wasn’t Black.

My family slowly began to pick up on the fact that this was more than a collection of dates and did not necessarily approve. This didn’t impact me so much though. I was good at being rebellious.

His family was really sweet to me and always invited and included me when going to dinners or family parties.

Though I never felt “inferior” throughout the course of our relationship, race was an issue.

I remember the first time it was brought to my attention. He was driving and talking to me on the phone with some friends in the car. His friends had been drinking one of them yelled into the phone.

“Tell Ashley I miss her! Wait! Do Black people miss people?”

Now you and I both know how idiotic of a statement that was, but my issue was not with his asshole of a friend, it was with his lack of response to the comment. He later told me he addressed it. I didn’t believe him.

When I would experience “exotic otherness” at work, I would talk to him about it and he would suggest that I was overreacting when I knew I wasn’t. He would never know the feeling I was describing and I really couldn’t expect him to understand.

Then once in an argument, he said that my beloved alma mater was “institutionally racist.” This was a HUGE mistake on his part. I don’t remember my exact response but I am certain it was angry.

These were tough issues we had to work through. And it was hard. In considering a future with him, I worried about these issues. And he got to a point where he would refuse to talk if he sensed that race would come up. I understood, it was tense between us.

But when it was good, which usually was the case, it was perfect. Then, during a period that I thought was a good one, he went through my phone while I was sleeping. He read messages between my friends and me about how I missed the comfort and familiarity of Black men… OUCH!

Race was an issue.

To know me is to know that a violation of my privacy is grounds for dismissal. I felt guilty, so I didn’t break up with him right way. But from that point forward, I stopped feeling like myself. I was no longer mentally present in the relationship and I strongly resented the phone incident. The race thing was too hard and I had stopped “trying” because I knew he didn’t trust me anyway. I ended it a few months later.

This was in August. And I would be fooling myself if I said I don’t sometimes think I made a mistake. In my relationship, I felt special, and I was loved — even though he wasn’t Black.

Someone made a comment to me recently: “I’m glad you came back to this side.” I replied, “I never changed,” because though Mazzi may not have been the guy for me, and though he was undoubtedly a white man, he never wanted anything from me, but me — locs and all.

Ashley Thomas is an aspiring writer from Baltimore, Maryland.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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