Brazilian court orders Bolsonaro to pay damages to reporter for sex proposition claims

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SAO PAOLO, Brazil – The president of the Republic of Brazil has been sanctioned by a court and ordered to pay indemnification for “moral damages” stemming from his use of sexual innuendo to discredit the veracity of reports by Folha de S. Paulo journalist Patricia Campos Mello, repeating an accusation that she had offered sex in exchange for damaging information about him. In Brazil, such a charge, when unfounded, is considered a sexual harassment offense.

Campos Mello’s report pointed out that digital marketing company Yacows’ possible participation in a message-triggering scheme through WhatsApp during the elections that fraudulently issued national identification numbers to generate texts in names of politicians, disseminating fake news. A former Yacows employee first made the accusation against Campos Mello without presenting any proof.

The reporter sued, asking for R$50k–about $8700–in damages for pain and suffering.

The judge’s ruling said, “It remained evident that the defendant’s individual exercise of the right to freedom of expression violated the plaintiff’s honor, causing her moral damage, and should therefore be held responsible.”

Bolsonaro was ordered to pay a $3,500 fine plus court and attorney fees. He has 15 days to appeal.

“It is a great day for women journalists. A great day for professional journalism,” said the Brazilian group Journalists Against Harassment, in a tweet.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Interpol disrupts Uruguay-Spain sex-trafficking highway but Montevideo remains a busy hub to Europe

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Six simultaneous raids in both countries resulted in several arrests in both jurisdictions and the conclusion by authorities that the small South American country is still a large source of origin, transit, and destination of women trafficked to Europe.

Uruguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a press release that the Interpol operation liberated four women and dismantled what it qualified as “an important human trafficking network.”

Three residencies in Montevideo yielded three arrests. Two raids in the city of Guadalajara, and one at an estate in Alcalá de Henares, a suburb of Madrid, in Spain yielded another five arrests. Seven of the eight arrested were of Uruguayan nationality and four were women. The group lured women in difficult financial situations with offers of well-paying job offers, only to force them into street and club prostitution in Europe under precarious conditions, said the announcement.

Structural inequalities and discrimination, says a report by Uruguayan NGO El Paso, are the main factors that make women in the country vulnerable to victimization. The country’s location on the Atlantic Coast naval corridors makes it ideal for international human traffickers, according to a report by Interpol. Around 17% of Uruguay’s trafficking victims leave the country, mostly bound for Spain and Italy, reported El Paso.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Uruguayan women take to the IACHR their 2011 case for sexual abuse and humiliation they endured as political prisoners

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Leftist female political prisoners were always kept hooded and submitted to gropings, forced nudity, sexual abuse of all types, rapes, etc., by members of Uruguay’s 1973–1985 military dictatorship, said the attorney for 28 women who presented their case Thursday to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR. It wasn’t easy for them to come forward, he said.

The women first came forward 10 years ago and 2 have already died, but their attorney said the investigations have gone nowhere and thus the decision to raise the case to a higher international tribunal. Their complaint identifies more than 100 former regime officials, doctors, psychologists, and security forces members, some of whom could only be identified by their aliases and voices, explained the attorney.

“In Uruguay, sexual violence was a weapon of war used by the state to humiliate and punish political prisoners,” Maria Noel Leoni of the Center for Justice and International Law told the online IACHR hearing.

Rapes, sexual humiliation, torture, killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations were reportedly committed by the 12-year dictatorship imposed after a 1973 US-backed coup. The doctors charged were present during the tortures, controlling to make sure they did “not overdo it,” and “advising,” explained the women’s attorney. “It was “very sadistic.”

“At this stage of the game, many of the women had lost hope that anything could be done,” said the attorney. “Now we have some expectations.”

By Milan Sime Martinic

Eight male student leaders accused of threatening mostly female university students to make them attend meeting that resulted in tragic deaths in Bolivia

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University students grieving the loss of classmates after the collapse of the barrier of a 4th story balcony that killed 7 and injured 4 say they were forced to attend the overcrowded student assembly under physical threats, and demand “justice.”

The Education Science students, mostly women due to the nature of their field of study, charge that a group of 8 male current and former student leaders seeking to gain political control of the student organization called the compulsory meeting. They ignored social distancing restrictions and threatened whippings, beltings, fines, and other “sanctions,” they say, and claim to have been beaten for being late or skipping previous meetings.

Seven of the 8 men are now in custody, charged with homicide, with calling the illegal gathering, and with inciting the confrontation that broke the guard railing.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Japan’s ruling party to allow women to watch its board meetings, but no talking

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Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party will invite up to five of its female members of parliament to board meetings, but they should not speak. This was announced by the party as it took what it said was a step toward equality.

“It’s important to fully understand what kind of discussions are going on,” said Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP general secretary. “Look. That’s what it’s about.” Nakai added that women should not have a say in the proceedings but can submit suggestions in writing after the meetings have concluded.

The party’s action has sparked criticism from the opposition, which charges male chauvinism and discrimination against women is ingrained in the LDP, which depends on the voices of Japan’s strong nationalist circles with their traditional role models. They are tentative in grappling with women-friendly ideas, according to women’s groups, and progress is slow. The party’s make-up is 40% female, but women only hold 10% of its parliamentary seats, a figure far below the 25% global average.

According to the World Economic Forum 2020 report, Japan ranks 121 out of 153 countries in its gender parity global ranking.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Fragrances are a woman’s secret, even from her friends

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A recent study by Dutch design aesthetics researchers has discovered that women closely guard their fragrance identity to the point that they will keep it secret from the entire world if they can — so secret that even their friends cannot copy their personal scent, and they certainly won’t buy perfumes they like for their friends.

“The question here is not only: how do you express you identity? But it is: what types of items can someone else buy for you?” Dr. Rick Schifferstein of Delf University of Technology in the Netherlands told The Speaker. Schifferstein and his team were studying what effects packaging has on fragrance purchase when they made the somewhat unexpected discovery.

“Everyone expresses their identity through their appearance and their actions,” he explained. “Apparently, your identity  is not only expressed through the way you dress or your haircut, but also by the fragrance you wear.

Women won’t buy perfumes for each other, the team found, unless they don’t like the scent themselves, or when they may have previously liked the scent but no longer have a purpose for it. Actually, the researchers found, women tend to “sabotage” their friends when they give this type of gift. Women will buy a scent they like for themselves or their boyfriend — which is something women like to do, the findings showed — but will only buy scents they dislike for their female friends.

“While women hold fragrances as personally intimate and respect other women’s intimate choices, they happily want to influence what fragrances men wear,” Dr Bryan Howell, co-author of the study, said. “Assuming it is for a spouse or boyfriend, they want to pick fragrances they also like since they’ll be around that person often.”

The issue is more complicated than a simple concept of “sabotage” though, according to the researchers, and has to do with the importance of personal identity. Schifferstein explained some of the complexity of the issue by referring to the gift motivations, concerns and preferences of women.

Rick Schifferstein
Dr. Rick Schifferstein

“Giving someone a fragrance might suggest that they need one because they smell bad. This could cause unwanted questions to occur between friends. Women prefer to avoid that possibility and look for a gift that is safer to share.”

In case women do give their friends fragrances, it may concern fragrances that are no longer working for themselves and that are passed on to their friends, in hopes that they will work for them. Alternatively, women may appreciate the personality or preference differences between themselves and their friends, and may decide to give them a fragrance that has a different character than what they would buy for themselves.

“Fragrance categories — for example, fruity, spicy, citrus, floral — may play an important role in this process: Some women identified themselves as belonging to a certain category and they would consider purchasing only fragrances from this category for themselves. Consequently, they would not recommend these fragrances for their female best friends.”

The gifts women choose for each other tend to be purchased with a strong motivation to play it safe: “The more intimate the item, the less likely it will be considered appropriate as a gift.” Gifts such as CDs, books, and flowers tend to suit this less intimate, more safe approach, Schifferstein told us.

The report, “Using color–odor correspondences for fragrance packaging design” was completed by Bryan F. Howell and Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein, and was published on Science Direct.

By Andy Stern