This Week in Women: Justice Calls

From the resounding victory of the U.S. Women at the FIFA tournament to the calls for justice against high profile abusers, this week is propelling action forward for gender equality and advocacy. It’s time for This Week in Women!

U.S. Women’s Victory Tour and the Inspired Ripple Effect

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less. We got to listen more and talk less. We got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility. Every single person here. Every single person’s who’s not here. Every single person who doesn’t want to be here. Every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree. It’s our responsibility to make this world a better place,” said Megan Rapinoe in a speech following a parade in New York City on Wednesday. Over 300,000 spectators joined the team in celebrating their FIFA World Cup victory.

The collective joy felt around the team’s accomplishments both on and off the field have rallied fans around the world. The team’s work is not done as they continue the efforts in the fair pay arena. Back in March, 28 of the national team’s members filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the U.S. Soccer Federation. This action was not just about paychecks for the players, it also included points around access to resources like coaching, practice, and medical care, as well as competition schedules and more. 

The battle for equal pay is part of the decade long pursuit of gender equality. On Wednesday, Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein (California) and Patty Murray (Washington) introduced the Athletics Fair Pay Act that would update the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to mandate that “the national governing bodies each Olympic sport pay female athletes fairly and equally. It also requires the national governing bodies to provide annual reports to Congress on amateur athlete pay to ensure they’re complying with their equal pay obligations.”

 “Not only did the U.S. Women’s National Team just dominate on the world stage in front of millions of people, they also inspired an entire generation of girls and boys to work hard, follow their dreams, and most importantly—stand up for what’s right,” said Murray. “I’m thrilled the best soccer team in the world is being given a hero’s welcome home, but the only way to truly honor our National Team is to pay them what they so clearly deserve: equal pay for their far more than equal work. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and I’m going to keep fighting to ensure every woman—on and off the field—is paid fairly for her work.”

Perpetrators of Abuse Against Underage Girls, Get Their Respective Days in Court

This week a storm of headlines gathered around hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein as new allegations came to light further illustrating decades of abuse against underage girls. The 2008 plea deal that imposed rather lenient penalties against Epstein has become a source of major controversy, making waves within the federal government as the U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned today. Esptein faces sex trafficking indictment more and more women come forward with accounts of their sexual assaults.

“My office will not rest until perpetrators of these types of crimes are brought to justice,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. “Victims’ voices, including the many voices of Epstein’s alleged victims, must be heard.”

R. Kelly is also facing new federal charges as he was arrested last night under a five-count indictment by the Eastern District of New York. R. Kelly has been the epicenter of controversy as he has repeatedly faced indictments and awaiting trial in Chicago; these new charges include sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor and violations of the Mann Act (legislation that makes it illegal to transport a person across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution”).

These stories illustrate how wealth and influence continue to affect victims’ justice, including their ability to speak out and access integral resources. “I have fought so long to finally see Epstein brought to justice. I didn’t believe the news that he was arrested until I saw him in custody with my own eyes. I want my voice to encourage others to come forward,” said Courtney Wild. “We are stronger together.”

Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.

Photo Courtesy of @ForTheWin.

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