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The biggest moments from the Grammy Awards, Sierra Leone declares a national emergency over violence against girls, and what skier Lindsey Vonn said after the last race of her career.
A proposal from Uganda’s ministry of tourism to create a “Miss Curvy Uganda” beauty contest — and to add “curvy and sexy women” as one of the country’s officials attractions — has sparked outrage from women’s rights activists and other leaders in the country. Godfrey Kiwanda, the minister of tourism, said women aged 18 to 35 would be eligible to participate in the pageant, with finalists to be selected in June. “We have naturally endowed, nice-looking women that are amazing to look at,” Kiwanda said at a launch event.
Simon Lokodo, the minister of ethics and integrity, meanwhile, called the contest “shameful.” “It demeans women and completely destroys their integrity,” he said. “I am already receiving a lot of support from women themselves, including [female] members of parliament. Everybody is against the competition.” Activists have also launched an online petition to scrap the pageant.
The 61st Grammy Awards aired Sunday night. Alicia Keys, who has won 15 Grammys over the course of her career, was the first woman to host the award ceremony in over a decade. Below are some the night’s most memorable moments; here are a complete list of the winners and a list of the night’s live performances.
• During an introduction to the show, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and Michelle Obama spoke about what music meant to them. When Obama began speaking, the audience erupted into applause. “We got a show to do,” she joked, imploring the crowd to quiet down. “From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side to the ‘Who Run the World’ songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story, and I know that’s true for everybody here.”
• Women won big. Kacey Musgraves’s “Golden Hour” won for album of the year, while Cardi B won best rap album for “Invasion of Privacy,” becoming the first woman to win the award as a solo artist. Brandi Carlile, the most-nominated woman with six awards, won three awards, including for best Americana album.
• Dolly Parton performed in her own tribute performance, while Fantasia, Yolanda Adams and Andra Day performed in a tribute for Aretha Franklin, who died last August at 76.
• Pop star Ariana Grande won her first-ever Grammy — best pop album for “Sweetener” — but wasn’t at the show. That came after she dropped out of a performance over a disagreement with the show’s producers.
On Sunday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced she’s entering the 2020 presidential race. At an event on Boom Island, a park in Minneapolis, Klobuchar said, “I promise you this as your president: I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.” During the speech, Klobuchar spoke about reforming election laws, addressing climate change and protecting online privacy.
Klobuchar, 58, became the first female senator from Minnesota when she was elected in 2006 and is considered less liberal than some of the other candidates. She joins four other women — Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — in the Democratic primary field. Last week, Klobuchar was in the news after anonymous former aides described a toxic office environment; supporters and other former staffers subsequently defended the senator and suggested those critiques were sexist in nature.
In a speech Thursday, Julius Maada Bio, the president of Sierra Leone, declared a national emergency over rape and other violent acts committed against young girls in the country. Bio said that hundreds of incidents of sexual violence are reported each month, and that about 70 percent of victims are younger than 15. To address the crisis, Bio pledged that all victims of sexual violence would be treated for free at state hospitals and that those found guilty of sexually assaulting minors could face life in prison.
“My government will ensure that men who rape have no place in society and also any man who rapes will be jailed forever so that a single rape becomes the last rape,” he said.
Last week, two women — Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson — came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D). Tyson said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention; Watson alleged Fairfax raped her in 2000, while they were students at Duke University. After Watson came forward Friday, calls for Fairfax’s resignation grew. But on Saturday, Fairfax maintained that the two encounters had been consensual and called for an FBI investigation into the claims.
Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said he will also remain in his post for the remaining three years of his term, despite many Democratic Party members calling for him to resign after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook showing two men in blackface and a Ku Klux Klan robe. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) also said Wednesday that he dressed in blackface during college, embroiling all three of the state’s top Democrats in controversy. Fairfax’s position puts him next in line for the governorship.
A report published in January titled “Tainted Garments,” written by contemporary slavery expert Siddharth Kara, looks at the Indian women and girls who work to produce “fast fashion” for chain clothing stores — from home. Researchers spoke to 1,452 of these workers, who were almost entirely low caste or religious minorities, and found that they work long hours and in dangerous conditions, with wages ranging from 39 cents to $1.05 per hour. The report also found that up to 19 percent of the workers were between 10 and 18 years old. While the vast majority of the workers produce supply for export to the United States and the European Union, many of the brands are unaware that the work is being outsourced to the women.
“These people are the most vulnerable of all,” Kara told the New York Times. “They currently have no other choice other than to accept the exploitative labor conditions offered to them by these fashion sub-suppliers.”
An investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found that about 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct in the last 20 years. These leaders, including pastors, ministers and Sunday school teachers, left behind more than 700 victims, the paper reported. Nearly 100 offenders are in prison across the country, while at least 35 who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches. The newspapers also built a database of former church leaders who have been convicted of sex crimes.
While President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday dominated much of the news coverage last week, many big stories were developing. Here are the moments not to miss:
• On the topic of the State of the Union, Trump renewed questions about “late-term” abortions in his address when he described “the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.” Here are some questions about late-term abortions, answered.
• Pope Francis for the first time acknowledged that members of the Catholic clergy sexually abused nuns. Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane Tuesday that “it’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have.”
• As it began its legislative session Monday, Nevada became the first state with a female-majority legislature.
• Ivanka Trump announced an empowerment initiative to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. This prompted questions, given that the president has repeatedly tried to cut funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which would provide the government funding for the project.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last week sought to answer the question: Were more women opting for long-acting reversible contraception (such as intrauterine devices, or IUDs) following Trump’s election in 2016, as many media reports described? Using data from a large sample of commercially insured women — and insertion rates during the 30 days after the election, compared with the 30 days before the election and the same period in 2015 — researchers found an increase of 21.6 percent in long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) insertion rates in the month after Trump was elected.
In their discussion of the study, researchers cited the Trump administration’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which eliminated cost-sharing for contraception for most women with private health insurance. “Our findings could reflect a response to fears of losing contraceptive coverage because of President Trump’s opposition to the ACA or an association of the 2016 election with reproductive intentions or LARC awareness,” the researchers wrote.
In the final race of her career, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn won the bronze medal in the downhill race at the world championships in Are, Sweden, on Sunday. Vonn, who became the first female skier to win medals at six different world championships, announced she would retire early because of knee injuries. She had crashed during her penultimate race, the super-G. “I knew that I was capable of pushing through the pain one last time and I did that,” Vonn, 34, said.
I know, I know. Another podcast recommendation. However, this one is only five minutes long. The host is Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith, and she has now become a staple to my morning routine. Each day, “The Slowdown” features a new poem. Smith spends a couple minutes explaining the poem through her own lens and then reads it. I love how approachable she makes poetry — it has gotten me interested in poetry in a way I’ve never been before.
—Rachel Orr, Lily lead art director
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*Listen to everything we’ve recommended here.