In today’s WDD, we bring you the news that a new guide to vulvas has been launched for young women. Plus: a US park has been renamed in honour of one of the anti-slavery movement’s most important female figures, Germany is getting ready to debate a Nazi-era abortion law, and government data reveals the extent of the gender pay gap among Britain’s wealthiest people.
Sexual health charity launches online guide to teach girls about their vulvas
A new online reference tool has been launched to educate teenage girls about their vulvas, amid rising numbers of young women seeking labiaplasties to change the appearance of their genitals.
The resource is hosted by the sexual health charity Brook, and provides visual examples and advice about how female genitals change during puberty.
It was designed by health experts who say they want to boost girls’ body confidence and reduce the amount of teenagers seeking “designer vagina” surgery. According to NHS figures, more than 200 girls under 18 had a labiaplasty (surgery to reshape or shorten the vaginal lips or labia) in 2015-16. More than 150 of these girls were under the age of 15.
Louise Williams, a clinical nurse specialist at University College Hospital, was the co-lead on the Brook project. She said: “We hope it will reassure young people that vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and if they need advice and support, they know where to go.”
Read more on this story at BBC News.
A former Confederate site in the US has been renamed in honour of anti-slavery hero Harriet Tubman
For years, statues of Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Thomas J ‘Stonewall’ Jackson stood in a leafy section of Wyman Park Dell in Baltimore. The two men were leaders on the Confederate side in the US Civil War: Lee was vocally opposed to equal rights for African-Americans, and both men owned slaves.
Last summer, in the wake of the white nationalist rally over Confederate statues in Charlottesville, Virginia, the city of Baltimore quietly removed the statues of Lee and Jackson, as well as two other Confederate monuments in Wyman Park Dell. The area of the park where they stood has now been renamed Harriet Tubman Grove, in honour of the African-American abolitionist who rescued around 70 people from slavery in the 19th century.
Tubman was born into slavery in 1822, and subsequently made 13 missions on the Underground Railroad to help bring enslaved people to safety. She served on the opposite side of Lee and Jackson in the Civil War, working as an armed scout and a spy for the United States Army, and later became an activist in the fight for women’s suffrage in the US.
“This dedication of a grove of trees seems a fitting honour for a great abolitionist and US Army spy who travelled countless miles through Maryland forests,” said C Ryan Patterson, the president of the non-profit organisation Friends of Wyman Park Dell.
CNN has more on this story here.
German politicians are voting on whether to keep or scrap a Nazi-era abortion law
German ministers are getting ready to debate whether they should scrap a law that bans doctors from talking publicly about abortion.
Under clause 219a of the German criminal code, anyone who publicly “offers, announces [or] advertises” abortion services can be fined or jailed for up to two years – effectively blocking doctors from openly stating that they offer terminations. This clause was introduced by the Nazi party in 1933 as part of a raft of legislation targeted at the medical profession, including reforms to criminalise Jewish doctors, homosexuals and communists.
Germany’s complex abortion laws have been the subject of increased scrutiny after a gynaecologist refused to pay the fine she was given for advertising abortion services. In November, 61-year-old Kristina Hänel was found guilty of “advertising” the fact that she performed abortions on her clinic’s website, and slapped with a €6,000 (£5,315) fine.
Hänel has refused to pay the fine or remove the information from her practice’s website, and in December delivered a petition with 150,000 signatures to parliament, demanding that the law be changed. The German parliament is now set to debate the law later this week.
Read more on this story here.
Rich men outnumber rich women in the UK by four to one, according to new figures
New data released by HMRC shows that there are almost four times as many top-earning men in Britain than women – as well as a significant gap between the earnings of ‘ordinary’ men and women.
Some 681,000 men earned £100,000 or more in the year 2015-16, compared to just 179,000 women. In addition, some 17,000 men earned £1m or more in that time period, while only 2,000 women earned the same – a discrepancy of almost 90%.
The data also highlighted a large gender gap between the average man and woman, not just amongst the country’s highest earners. Male taxpayers had a median annual income of £25,700, in comparison to female taxpayers’ median annual income of £20,300.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, condemned the data. “These figures show inequality runs through every level of the economy,” she said. “It is scandalous that women still make up barely a fifth of top earners, and this discrepancy is not confined to those in well-paid jobs.”
Read more on this story here.
Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.
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