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This week:

Stats to know for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the House approves the Paycheck Fairness Act, and Joe Biden releases a statement regarding allegations of unwanted kissing.

Women launch petition to add an Afro hair emoji

Two women have launched a Change.org petition calling for the creation of an emoji with Afro hair. While nearly 3,000 emojis are recognized by the Unicode Consortium, the body that oversees emojis, there are no emojis of any person with an Afro. After hearing about a successful campaign to get an interracial couple emoji added, Rhianna Jones, 28, set out to get one with Afro hair, too. Her friend, Kerrilyn Gibson, 25, created the emoji, and the duo submitted the design to the Unicode Consortium last week. Unicode allows for about 60 emojis to be added per year.

“The beauty of culture inclusivity in this political climate is that our people are awakening,” Jones told the New York Times. “What is amazing about our culture is that we have big hair, big energy, big stories and big voices. Emojis are the best way we can encapsulate our personality in digital conversations.”

After hiding in Hong Kong for months, Saudi sisters receive emergency visas

In September, two sisters, 18 and 20, tried to flee their allegedly abusive family in Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International. On a trip to Sri Lanka, they attempted to escape and seek asylum in Australia. But on their way there, they were intercepted in Hong Kong by Saudi officials and spent six months in hiding there. They detailed their story under the name #HKSaudisisters.

Last week, the women, who go by the aliases Reem and Rawan, left Hong Kong for an unknown country of residence. Lawyer Michael Vidler said they were granted emergency humanitarian visas and are now “beginning their lives as free young women,” Al Jazeera reported.

Lanita Carter talks publicly for the first time about R. Kelly allegations

(iStock/Lily illustration)
(iStock/Lily illustration)

Lanita Carter is one of the four alleged victims in the criminal case against R. Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. In a televised interview with CBS News that aired Thursday, Carter spoke publicly for the first time about the alleged 2003 sexual assault, which she says occurred when she was 24 and working as a hairdresser. Carter said Kelly, a client of hers at the time, asked her for a massage and then forced her to perform oral sex. Carter cited Kelly’s recent explosive interview with CBS’s Gayle King as a motivating factor in coming forward 16 years after the alleged assault. “I don’t want to be in the public,” she said. “But this is my life. … If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth.”

House approves bill addressing gender pay gap

When Democrats took control of the House in January, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the gender pay gap would be a priority. On Wednesday, the House voted on the issue for the first time in nearly a decade: It cleared a bill that aims to tackle gender-based wage discrimination. The bill, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, has been introduced every year since 1997 by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.). She said that the vote was “a game-changer.”

The bill passed 242-187, with seven Republicans joining Democrats in backing the measure. The bill — which strengthens penalties for businesses that dole out unequal wages for women and prohibits pay secrecy in workplaces — now heads to the Republican-held Senate, where it is not likely to pass.

Career opportunities are limited for spouses of military members

(iStock/Lily illustration)
(iStock/Lily illustration)

Nine out of 10 active-duty military spouses are women. In the Atlantic, Julie Bogen, whose own husband is training to be a Navy doctor, writes about the “dismal” career prospects facing these spouses. A recent Defense Department survey, for example, found that a quarter of military spouses are unemployed; a separate White House report also found that they’re underpaid. Bogen cites frequent moves as a primary contributor to this disparity — they create gaps on resumes, prevent professional licenses from carrying over state to state, and force families (often the non-active-duty partner) to find new schools or nannies for their children.

Military families report financial difficulty at twice the rate of civilian families, and more than half of the families said the main reason was because the family’s nonmilitary partner struggled with unemployment or underemployment. “When it comes to supporting military families in the most tangible way — financially — the U.S. falls flat,” Bogen writes.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, which aims to bring attention to the widespread issue: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three U.S. women have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives. The CDC defines sexual violence as any sexual activity where consent is not freely given, and says its mission is to stop the violence before it begins. Here are a few more stats to know from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

• About half (49.5 percent) of multi-racial women and over 45 percentof Native women experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.

• Between 20 and 25 percent of college women are victims of rape during college.

• In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.

• The prevalence of false reporting is low: between 2 and 10 percent.

The NSVRC’s campaign for April 2019 is called “I Ask.” It champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy and normal part of everyday interactions. Head to their website for resources including more stats and guides on how to ask for and teach consent.

ICYMI

Joe Biden. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg)
Joe Biden. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg)

• In a piece for New York Magazine, Democrat Lucy Flores alleged that former vice president Joe Biden kissed her on the back of the head without her consent. She says the alleged incident took place at a 2014 campaign event when she was running for lieutenant governor of Nevada. On Sunday, Biden released a statement saying that he did not believe he has ever acted inappropriately toward women but will “listen respectfully” to suggestions he did.

• After 10 months in prison, three Saudi women’s rights activists were temporarily released on Thursday, according to the Saudi state news agency, but their charges were not dismissed. Two people identified the women as Aziza al-Youssef, Eman al-Nafjan and Rokaya Muhareb.

• Students at the University of Notre Dame staged various protests after a mother wrote a letter to the school’s newspaper editor chiding a group of young women for wearing leggings. In the letter, titled “The legging problem,” Maryann White writes: “Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?”

• Amid findings that dense breasts raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and make it harder for health-care providers to see malignancies on mammograms, the Food and Drug Administration proposed requiring providers to notify women with dense breasts about the effects of the condition.

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

For the first time in U.S. history, a state National Guard is being led by a command staff of all women. Since 2015, Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh — the first African American and the first woman to hold the position — has led Maryland’s National Guard as adjutant general. The three other top leaders in the Maryland National Guard are now all women: Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead is assistant adjutant general for Army; Brig. Gen. April Vogel is assistant adjutant general for Air; and Command Sgt. Maj. Perlisa D. Wilson is senior enlisted adviser for the state’s National Guard. Three of them are African American, and all four are mothers.

The all-female staff was unintentional, according to Singh. “What I didn’t want is to have a female leadership team that’s not competent,” she said. “They had to be competent — just as competent, if not more competent, than their peers.”

Editorial cartoon

Below is a single-panel editorial cartoon by artist Katie Wheeler. All views expressed are the opinions of the artist.

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended the administration’s budget proposal that eliminated federal money for the Special Olympics. On Thursday, amid bipartisan outcry, President Trump abruptly reversed his position, saying that he wants the federal government to continue funding the charity.

I have a very tiny apartment. So what better way to spruce up the space than with petite bouquets from Trader Joe’s? I buy a bouquet a week (which, at $3.99, certainly doesn’t break the bank). During the winter, they helped brighten up the space; now that we’re entering spring, I can’t wait to see the new flower combinations.

—Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor

*Have an idea for a news-inspired baiku? Send us your creation at lily [at] washpost [dot] com, and you might see it in the next Lily Lines. We follow 5-7-5.

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