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Why Are We Ignoring The Missing Black Girls In Washington D.C.?

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Source : Kevin Banatte | Angela Marie

Following the monumental turnout for the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C., it is very clear to see, America is in position to have an open dialogue concerning gender-based conflicts.

Yet, this raises the question, why are we ignoring the missing black and latinx girls who are going missing in Washington D.C.?

Days preceding the march, there was a large outcry from women of color (WOC) who felt as if the march wasn’t very inclusive of intersecting areas like, race and culture.

One supporter stated, “The march was sanitized in a way, it didn’t challenge white [women] privilege, and was media sanctioned.”

Some believe that these missing girls weren’t seen as a focal point in most coverage because story didn’t align with the context of white women “feminism.” Rather it challenges it, and “makes white women put their privilege into context.”

Comparing this to the media sensation surrounding the disappearance of white women like Natalee Ann Holloway, in 2005, these black and latinx girls are nearly invisible to white America.

Women like Maya Angelique Moody, posted a thread on Twitter, based on her experience at the march. It was on the treatment of WOC from a handful of white women.

“It annoys me how many ww claimed to be marching ‘in solidarity’ for all women,” she wrote, “but sit silently and idly by while black and other woc are discriminated against, harassed, kidnapped, raped and killed.”

https://twitter.com/MayaAMonroe/status/823021529965457412

Events concerning the matter, like the one in the D.C Town Hall, depicted a room, of concerned citizens, who majorly consisted of African Americans.

Those meetings have been essential for the community to inform and educate their residents about the disappearances.

However, the community feels that this matter is not receiving enough coverage or support from their own authorities, as DC City Councilmember Trayon White openly stated in a media interview.

“What the community is alarmed about — we had a 10-year-old girl missing the other day, but there was no amber alert,” White said.

“We just feel like, you know, if this was a white person or from another neighborhood, there would be more alarm about it.”

“(A)ny time you have a 10-year-old missing for any amount of hours and no one knows where he or she is, that is rules for immediate attention, that’s an alert that needs to be sent out,” White added. “Because the more time that goes past, the less likely we are to find him or her.”

Yet this does not excuse those currently acknowledging the matter either. Many online sources, namely social media sites, have developed and shared misleading information.

These falsifications and bits of inaccurate pieces are helping create awareness of the matter, but dilute the overall process taken to help find these innocent victims.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, and Washington D.C. officials, there have been nearly 500 reported incidents of missing black and latinx adolescents in 2017, with these numbers being in a decline.

“The Truth is the number of missing Young Girls is declining in Washington and our police Department closes most cases quickly.” – Washington DC Mayor’s Office

Unfortunately, this information seems to clash with that of annual statistics, which depict a steady stream of cases from the years of 2014 to 2016.

Visibility will always be welcomed, while inaccuracies, and fraudulent media, only serves to mislead the overall goal to save these black and latinx kids.

By : Akeem Kearse

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Coronavirus Epidemic Ends Study Abroad Students’ Semesters

Katherine Feinstein

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Coronavirus epidemic gets serious to the point that college students' study abroad programs come to an end.
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People all over the world are unpredictably affected by the newest Coronavirus and its implications.

More specifically, abroad students are finding themselves being sent home from their study programs. Having to cancel personal travel, and living in the uncertainty of how their semesters in Europe will end.

Coronavirus started as a blip on the radar of students preparing to embark on a four-month journey to study in Europe.

The first mysterious case emerged in Wuhan, China on December 31st,  2019. And millions of American university students packed their bags and flew to another hemisphere without any worry of this ‘random’ flu discovered so far away. 

Fast forward to January 30th, 2020- just one month later- and the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Though COVID-19 has symptoms paralleling that of the common flu (cough, fever, shortness of breath). And only has a death rate of 3.4%, the virus has uncontrollably spread. The shutdown travel has students living in Europe wondering, what now?

The countries currently most dangerous to travel to are China, with a whopping 80,703 cases. Italy, South Korea, Iran, and France are also a threat. But perhaps the most alarming aspect of this virus is how quickly it spreads.

Similar to other contagious viruses, COVID-19 spreads by human-to-human contact. Or by coming into contact with respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Thus, the increases in cases in countries with patients concentrated in quarantined areas are skyrocketing. Just within the last 24 hours,  Italy has 1,492 new cases and 250 new deaths. 

The Coronavirus map displays countries that are the most at risk for getting the virus.
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Alex, a Junior at the University of Michigan, had been studying abroad in Rome for just four weeks before Italy was declared a Level 3 Travel Advisory by the US State Department.

Almost immediately after Alex’s program was canceled and his home institution called for all students enrolled in programs in Italy to return to the US. This came as a shock to Alex and other students in his program, as Rome itself was not an area with many Coronavirus cases. 

“Almost no one was wearing masks, even when we visited the Vatican the day after the announcement. It all felt so surreal that we were really being sent home, even though Rome hadn’t changed at all,” he recalls.

Many students studying in Italy were feeling similarly. Other universities like Syracuse and Villanova had pulled their students from Europe before programs abroad had even canceled themselves. 

The next steps in these types of situations vary from school to school. But one thing is for sure: many students are left financially and academically devastated by abroad programs being abruptly canceled.

For Alex’s specific program in Rome, students will be finishing the semester through online courses. And will receive no compensation for the canceled $15,000 program. The epidemic has other serious implications such as economic recessions and discrimination towards Asian people. Abroad students’ pockets have certainly felt the blow of this unpredictable virus. 

Similarly, several typically cheap airlines used by many American students studying abroad. Such as Ryanair and EasyJet, have not changed their “no cancellation of flights after 24 hours of booking” policy.

This means that students who had flights to now untravelable regions like Italy cannot get money back from canceled travel due to the rapidly escalating virus outbreak. 

Shannon, a Junior at American University, had dropped $450 of her own money on flights and $150 on housing for an unforgettable April spring break trip in Amalfi, Italy. Now, with Italy at an overall Level 3 Advisory and some parts at a Level 4, she and her group have been forced to cancel.

“When I contacted the airline about possibly getting some of my money back given the sudden situation, they refused to refund me. Now, I’m out $600, and don’t know if I should cancel other trips I had planned just in case,” Shannon said.

 Unfortunately, many students find themselves in a similar predicament: should they not take the risk of traveling at all outside their home country?

Georgetown Junior Ally and her parents have already considered the option of canceling all travel going forward. Her program is in Copenhagen, Denmark, a country that has a notoriously strong health care system. And only 35 cases on COVID-19 with none actually in Copenhagen.

Though Ally is most likely in one of the safest areas of Europe, her parents fear that if she were to leave for a weekend trip she would not be able to return.

“People all over Europe are in busy airports and then getting on planes with 400 plus people. My parents are just worried that my plane will land. Someone will have a fever, and all 400 of us will be quarantined or denied entry to Denmark.”

The Coronavirus advertisement informs people how to avoid the virus as much as possible.
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In situations like this, many parents are struggling to figure out how to best keep their kids safe while they’re living across the world. Some students’ parents are preemptively pulling them from their programs. Others aren’t as concerned about this virus that seems to only put infants and the elderly in danger. 

Nonetheless, the official advice from the World Health Organization as of now is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Wear a mask only if you are feeling sick, and self-quarantine if you feel sick or have traveled to Italy, Iran, South Korea, or China. However, different students are dealing with this unprecedented virus, the future of existing abroad programs is unknown.

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Tarana Burke discusses her founding of the ‘Me Too Movement’ at St. Olaf College

Anna Leikvold

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Tarana Burke is the founder of the Me Too movement. The movement has worked to expose gender-based violence across the world. This past week Burke traveled around schools in Minnesota and spoke about the movement and her other projects.

Among the schools, she visited was St. Olaf College where she went in-depth about the movement and what else can be done. 

Burke is also currently the director at Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn New York and the co-founder of Just Be inc. Both work to create safe spaces and opportunities for young women. 

Since a young age, Burke has been involved in social justice issues but she didn’t get into gender-based violence work until later in her life. 

As a survivor herself, “there is healing in acting”, Burke said. Even though the work she does is tough, “If there is just one little girl who doesn’t have to feel what I did then this was a success.”

Tarana Burke emphasized the importance of centering women of color in this movement. Burke said that if we focus on the most marginalized of us all, everyone will be benefited.

She acknowledged that many people are affected by this violence from all backgrounds. But what differentiates groups is how society responds to violence. 

“We understand sexual violence doesn’t discriminate. It is the responses to gender-based violence where we discriminate,” Burke said.

As an example of this problem, Burke compared the Weinstein and R. Kelly cases. Because Weinstein’s victims were high profile white women, the world responded much quicker than in the case of R Kelly, who victimized numerous women, mostly nonwhite, under the public eye without a reaction for years.

“We are socialized to respond to the vulnerability of white women,” Burke said. 

Burke emphasized the importance of treating every group’s experiences with gender-based violence differently because of the unique circumstances around situations. Along with this important separation, she said it is very important to qualify all survival experiences.

Tarana Burke, Me Too Movement founder, advocates the ending of gender-based violence.
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She reminded people that some stories are messy and complex but that trauma affects each person in unique ways. And that we should be more widely understood. 

Burke discussed the complications that come with reporting on sexual-based violence and retraumatization. Survivors shouldn’t need to relay all the gory details of their experience. It is unfair that “we need to cut and bleed for people to have empathy.”

Burke said, “me too can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation.” Understanding that survivors don’t owe anyone a rational unified story, or even one at all, is important to remember.

People are supporting the Me Too Movement, founded by Tarana Burke by carrying signs.
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According to Burke colleges, including St. Olaf college, can and should be doing better to deal with sexual violence. Burke also said that presidents of universities need to be consistently clear that they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual violence.

Further, she said that college students should be safe and should feel empowered to demand that safety. This safety should become a culture on campus that we can consistently rely on. 

She brought up the example of Rutgers University which requires a mandatory seminar every year for students instead of just an online session as a way to create that culture of safety.

The school should also be more transparent about its past failures and what they are consistently doing to improve. Title 9, according to Burke, should be completely overhauled, as it is not doing nearly enough.  

“When I walk around campus students should make me feel like they are safe,” Burke said. 

Along with making sure that students are safe and “don’t leave the school broken than they came”, Burke said, the institution has a duty to reprimand perpetrators so as to prevent them from harming more people.

Burke believes that we must, however, move away from a system of crime and punishment and move towards a more restorative and transformative process for the perpetrators. 

Burke reminded supporters of the movement that survivors need empathy and not pity. Survivors need to continuously live with what happened to them and “commit to healing work” Burke said, and “remember that there is strength in survival.”

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A Young Woman in South Africa Dies After Being Victim of Gender Based Violence at Her School

Anna Leikvold

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In a university in South Africa, one of the young women there dies, as a result of gender based violence.
Source: Anna Leikvold

Last fall Uyinene Mrwetyana, a Film and Media student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa was brutally raped and killed in a post office in the middle of the day. 

This tragedy shook the UCT campus deeply and became the tipping point for student activists and regular citizens alike to demand institutional and political change concerning gender-based violence. 

The event is not an isolated one, women and girls are disproportionately affected by violence in South Africa. 

According to the World Health Organisation, the age-standardized interpersonal violence death rate for women in South Africa is 12.5 per 100,000.  

One woman is estimated to be murdered every 3 hours in the country. 

According to Nomalanda Vilakazi, a third-year UCT student and activist who is making a documentary about gender-based violence in South Africa, gender-based violence has been prevalent for many years. 

“This situation is really fu** up in the way that we had to get to this point in order to talk about it. We had to get the heights of death in order to take it seriously when it has been happening for a long time,” Vilakazi said. 

Nationwide, people are demanding more protection, harsher sentences and better access to resources for victims of gender-based violence.

The women of South Africa are tired of being afraid, and rather than internalize the horrendous tragedies in a way that would feed that fear, they hope to fight for a better future for their generation and for their children’s generation. 

Last September, UCT shut down all classes for a few days in order to allow for campus-wide mourning and protest. Protesters took to the streets and marched to parliament, demanding their voices be heard.

These protests were interrupted by Uyinene Mrwetyana’s memorial service, a heartbreaking but inspiring event that drew in hundreds of solitary souls. 

Among the speakers was chancellor Graça Machel, the wife of late Nelson Mandela. Machel inspired listeners with words of hope and resistance.

The subsequent protests in the city center drew thousands of people and became violent when police used tear gas and shot rubber bullets at protesters who broke through police barricades. 

Students are very concerned by the lack of action taken by UCT to keep students safe and the greater South African government’s inadequacy in handling the crisis of gender-based violence.

“It’s frustrating when you put people who represent you in position and then they don’t act accordingly. They don’t use their power for what they are supposed to be doing,” Vilakazi said. 

The protests are continuing in the following weeks, as people boycott classes and continue to take to the streets, reflecting the powerful protest culture characteristic of UCT and the nation as a whole. 

Students and citizens have worked together to create a list of alleged rapists and abusers and, as a large group, have found these people and forced them to turn themselves in at local police stations. 

The president has been moved to declare the issue of gender-based violence in a state of emergency in South Africa.

UCT has also taken steps to address the safety concerns of students by adding security and support for students affected by gender-based violence.

 “In a parallel universe, at the vigil last night Uyinene was there, she was there standing, grieving another girl. It could have been anyone” Vilakazi said. 

The campus continues to mourn the loss of a life lost too soon. And to fight for justice for her and the countless other victims across the nation. 

Being that this is a global issue, it remains very important that people become aware of this movement and draw inspiration from it. The world should know her name and her story, and the overdo movement that is rising from her ashes. 

She is one of many victims of gender-based violence across the world, and people in South Africa have made the brave step of saying that enough is enough.

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