International Headlines: Society and Culture


Hong Kong Holds Bra Protest After Woman Jailed for ‘Breast Assault’August 3, 2015 The Telegraph Protesters displaying bras have taken to the streets after a woman was jailed for assaulting a police officer with her breast. Ng Lai-ying, a 30-year-old clerk, was sentenced to three and a half months in prison for assaulting a police officer during a demonstration against cross-border trading by brokers in mainland China. The magistrate found Mrs. Ng guilty of "assaulting" chief inspector Chan Ka-po, by using her chest to deliberately bump his arm, sparking widespread outrage. Around 200 demonstrators of both genders wore bras and protested the conviction by carrying placards and chanting “breasts are not weapons” in the city center. During the scuffle with police that left Mrs. Ng with a bloody nose, she claimed that the inspector's hand had landed on her left breast after failing to grab onto her bag strap, which lead her to initially shout “assault”. In court, Magistrate Michael Chan Pik- kiu said that Mrs. Ng had "used her female identity to trump up the allegation that the officer had molested" her, calling it a malicious act and harming the officer's reputation, according to the South China Morning Post. Mrs. Ng is out on bail pending an appeal.

Trash Crisis Sparks Clashes Over Corruption, Dysfunction in Lebanon August 23, 2015 The Washington Post Demonstrators clashed with police amid a crisis over garbage collection that has evolved into a broader protest against the government. Thousands rallied in downtown Beirut, calling on the government to resign. Lebanon has avoided the violent upheaval that has plagued other nations in the region in recent years, but many Lebanese say that the protests are a necessary and inevitable response to broader problems related to official corruption, deteriorating public services and increasingly dysfunctional institutions. The government struggles to provide such basic services as electricity and garbage collection, which halted last month because of the sudden closure of a landfill. Beirut’s streets, as a result, began to fill with putrid mounds of uncollected refuse. For more than a year, the country has gone without a president as politicians have continued to squabble. Last year, parliament decided to extend its own mandate until 2017, effectively re-electing itself because of an inability to resolve a dispute over formulating a new election law.

Could Black People in the US Qualify as Refugees? August 14, 2015 Washington Post Raha Jorjani, an immigration defense lawyer with the Office of the Alameda County Public Defender and former professor at UC Davis School of Law, opines Black people face such racial violence in the United States that they could qualify as refugees if they didn’t already live there. “Suppose a client walked into my office and told me that police officers in his country had choked a man to death over a petty crime. Suppose he said police fatally shot another man in the back as he ran away. That they arrested a woman during a traffic stop and placed her in jail, where she died three days later. That a 12-year-old boy in his country was shot and killed by the police as he played in the park. Suppose he told me that all of those victims were from the same ethnic community — a community whose members fear being harmed, tortured or killed by police or prison guards. And that this is true in cities and towns across his nation. At that point, as an immigration lawyer, I’d tell him he had a strong claim for asylum protection under U.S. law,” she says. To win asylum status and the right to stay for clients, Jorjani has showed that her clients have a well-founded fear of future persecution by the government or by groups that the government was unable or unwilling to control. According to US asylum law, persecution must be on account of race or membership in a particular social group. “The United States claims to be a country that protects refugees, not produces them; a country that chastises nations with poor human rights records. But what of our own human rights record, which shows how far we still have to go in eradicating racial injustice and violence? Black Americans should not have to flee this country to seek refuge,” she argues.

Amnesty International Votes to Recommend Decriminalizing Sex Work August 11, 2015 TIME Amnesty International voted to recommend the full decriminalization of sex work and prostitution in order to protect the human rights of sex workers. The resolution recommends a policy that would decriminalize all aspects of adult, consensual sex work, while still classifying coercion into sex work or having sex with a minor as a major human rights violation. The resolution is intended to protect adult sex workers from stigma and abuse by decriminalizing aspects of sex work including buying sex, pimping and operating a brothel. some are not happy with the idea of decriminalizing all aspects of the sex trade, arguing that the move would expand the sex industry, and sex trafficking would grow with it. Critics agree with Amnesty that sex workers themselves shouldn’t face legal consequences, but argue that pimps and sex buyers should.

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets August 9, 2015 The New York Times Coca-Cola is backing a new "science-based" solution to the obesity crisis: to maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. The company is teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coca-Cola has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise. Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coca-Cola to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and type 2 diabetes. They contend that the company is using the new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume.