Monday, February 28, 2011

Criminal Records of Victorian Women Online

From the Times of Malta:
Thousands of Victorian criminal records giving details of female convicts, including a teenager jailed for five years for stealing an umbrella, were published online for the first time.

Family history website said more than 4,400 criminal records and 500 mugshots will be included in the collection.

Women and young girls featured in the records include Mary Richards, who was jailed for five years in 1880 at the age 59 for stealing 130 oysters valued at eight shillings; Elizabeth Murphy, 19, sentenced to five years of hard labour in 1884 and seven years of police supervision for stealing an umbrella; and Dorcas Mary Snell, 45, who was sentenced to five years of imprisonment with hard labour in 1883 for the theft of a single piece of bacon, although she was paroled two years later.

The website said the records, the originals of which are held by the National Archives, provide a picture of the “harsh” British judicial system at the time.

The site’s international content director Dan Jones said: “Crime is more often associated with men; however, these intriguing records shed light on some rather colourful female lawbreakers of their day and, given the petty nature of many of their crimes, also serves as a reminder of how harsh our judicial system was not so very long ago.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Justice for Noor Faleh Almaleki

An Iraqi man in Arizona accused of killing his daughter because she had become too westernized was convicted on Tuesday of second-degree murder.

Faleh Hassan Almaleki was found guilty of running over his daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, with his SUV in October 2009.

Prosecutors claimed the 50-year-old Muslim man committed an "honor killing" because his daughter had dishonored him by living with her boyfriend and his mother.

Almaleki was also found guilty of aggravated assault for seriously injuring Amal Edan Khalaf, 43, the mother of his daughter's boyfriend.

He was acquitted of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted-murder charges.

Noor Almaleki, 20, died at a hospital on Nov. 2 after fighting for her life for nearly two weeks.

She was run down by a Jeep Cherokee in a parking lot in suburban Phoenix while walking with Khalaf on Oct. 20.

6 Generations - Story of Chumash Women

From Santa Ynez Valley News:
Audiences at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival applauded “6 Generations,” a movie that brings Chumash history to life.

The film, available on DVD at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, features performances by Ernestine Ygnacio De Soto, a living Barbareno Chumash descendant.

Her mother was the last Chumash native speaker, and her grandmother and great-grandmother helped anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and John P. Harrington understand the Chumash language in the early part of the 20th century. These early recordings can also be heard at the museum.

The film’s producer, museum anthropologist John Johnson, shares screenwriting credits with De Soto.

“History is often told using information from the dominant culture,” Johnson says, but De Soto’s story is told through the voices of generations of Chumash women.

With “6 Generations,” De Soto says she is “honoring her children, her ancestors, and herself,” by keeping the flame of Chumash history alive. She and her family are not members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

This film enhances her one-woman performance with rare, historic photographs and recordings of the Chumash language and songs, as De Soto becomes each of six women in her family covering 200 years of Chumash life in Santa Barbara.

Women Live in Fear During Chechnya's Islamic Revival

From VOA News:
Many Chechen women are the first in three generations to cover their heads. In the officially atheist Soviet Union, women in the Caucasus burnt their headscarves, in an effort to dissuade youth from falling under the sway of religion.

“The headscarf is a symbol of purity and worth,” says Malika Omarova, head of the Union of Chechen Women in Grozny. “When I was a student, I never wore a headscarf, not one person forced me. But, I want our women to wear them - it is in our blood. That is what makes us Chechen.”

The Russian republic of Chechnya has seen two of modern history’s most brutal separatist wars in the last two decades, with atrocities committed by both rebels and federal forces. But Mr. Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides after the first war, has brought a semblance of stability to Chechnya, which has seen massive investment by the Kremlin. But Mr. Kadryov’s reign has also seen a resurgence in Islamic belief and practice.

In today’s Chechnya of cafes and fashion boutiques, the mandatory headscarf symbolizes this Islamic revival.

“Chechnya is already among one of the world's most repressive societies, with the state controlling almost every aspect of daily life," wrote Jennifer Windsor of Freedom House in a report on Chechnya “With the Kremlin largely out of the picture, the culture of impunity we have seen develop under [Mr.] Kadyrov is likely to worsen, leaving the population more vulnerable to abuse.”

The battle is being played out in universities, state buildings and now in the street, where a wave of attacks last year took place on women for not wearing headscarves. Mr. Kadyrov denies his men were involved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Françoise Giroud - Warrior

To many, Françoise Giroud, born Lea France Gourdji in September 1916 to Turkish-Jewish parents, was an example of a woman who handled power with uncommon grace. Giroud, who died in January 2003 at age 86, served as France’s minister of culture. In 1953, she co-founded the influential political weekly L’Express to advance the agenda of French-Jewish politician Pierre Mendès France, who soon after was elected prime minister. Journalist for a number of leading weeklies and author of more than two dozen books, from novels to biographies (of Alma Mahler and of Karl Marx’s wife, Jenny, among other liberated women), and advocate of women’s rights, Giroud epitomized a successful career woman at a time when such were still rare in France.

Yet, as “Françoise,” an admiring, unsparing new biography that appeared from Les editions Grasset on the anniversary of her death, January 19, underlines, Giroud’s success came at the cost of genuine inner torment. The book’s author, Laure Adler, herself a noted journalist, quotes eminent French-Jewish statesman Robert Badinter, who states that Giroud was a “warrior.” And indeed, she had plenty to fight against during her long and storied career.

Memorial: Triangle Waist Company Factory Fire

From the New York Times:
In the Cemetery of the Evergreens on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, there is a haunting stone monument to the garment workers who died in the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 but were never identified. It contains the bas-relief figure of a kneeling woman, her head bowed, seemingly mourning not only the deaths, but also the fact that those buried below were so badly charred that relatives could not recognize them.

Almost a century after the fire, the five women and one man, all buried in coffins under the Evergreens monument, remained unknown to the public at large, though relatives and descendants knew that a loved one had never returned from the burning blouse factory.

Now those six have been identified, largely through the persistence of a researcher, Michael Hirsch, who became obsessed with learning all he could about the victims after he discovered that one of those killed, Lizzie Adler, a 24-year-old greenhorn from Romania, had lived on his block in the East Village.

Lost Daphne du Maurier story found after 70 years

The Doll, billed as “a dark story of obsession and jealousy”, is the peculiar tale of a man who becomes infatuated with a woman he meets at a party. He visits her home only to discover the real object of her affection: a life-size, mechanical male doll.

The story was written around 1928 and the female character was called Rebecca, a name du Maurier would use a decade later in her most famous novel.

It is one of 13 du Maurier short stories to be published in a new anthology.

The author made reference to The Doll in her autobiography but biographers and academics failed to find it. Ann Willmore, a du Maurier enthusiast, spent years on the case and finally unearthed it in a 1937 compendium, The Editor Regrets, featuring short stories that had been rejected for publication.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vanishing Women of Natural Beauty

I was reading Vincent Akanmode's article " Vanishing Women of Natural Beauty " when I came across this pargraph right at the conclusion:
Physicians in ancient India are reckoned to have used skin grafts for reconstructive works as early as 800 BC, but it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that plastic surgery began to gain recognition in Europe and America, with Dr. John Peter Mettaeur as America’s first plastic surgeon of note.


John De Lisa - Looking At Ancient Cultures

From SILIve:
John De Lisa can combine modern technology with primitive artifacts.

A teacher at St. Joseph Hill Academy, he recently gave a PowerPoint presentation on what he learned last summer as the recipient of a Fulbright-Hayes Summer Seminar Abroad Scholarship.

One photograph was of a helmet mask from the Mende people of Sierra Leone, which De Lisa explained represented the queen and was worn during the initiation of young girls into the status of womanhood.

"It is believed that the spirit of the queen possesses the wearer of the mask and speaks through her, giving instruction to the initiates in the lore of the tribe and the knowledge she will need as a wife, mother, and adult member of the community," De Lisa said.

Another artifact was an Akua-Ba from the Asante people of Ghana. A woman who wants to become pregnant straps the carved, wooden fertility statuette to her back and carries it as she would a real baby. The Akua-Ba is thought to ensure not only conception but a healthy infant.

India: Pongala Ritual

From the Times of India:
Thousands of women today performed the 'pongala' ritual of the famed Attukal Bhagavathy temple here today, one of world's largest all-woman religious gatherings which made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records due to its uniqueness.

Cutting across class, caste and even religious barriers, devotees congregated around the temple and beside the highways and by-lanes to perform the annual ceremony of cooking of rice-jaggery mix in fresh earthen pots as their offering to the presiding Goddess of the shrine, seeking her blessings for year-round peace, plenty and prosperity.

For the last few years the festival has been attracted an average 2.5 million women, which prompted the Guinness to record it as the biggest gathering of women on a single day for a religious ritual.

Major Mitali Madhumita - Gallantry Medal

On February 25, only a day ahead of India observing the first anniversary of the attack on its officials at a guest house in Kabul, a woman officer of the Army would be creating history. Major Mitali Madhumita will become the first woman officer to get decorated with a gallantry medal and that too for her act of bravery during the same attack in Kabul.

Major Madhumita will be receiving the Sena Medal for gallantry at the annual investiture ceremony to be conducted at Hisar. Lt Gen SK Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Command, Jaipur, will be presenting the award.

It was on February 26 last year that Major Madhumita, an Army Education Corps officer, displayed exemplary courage while rescuing injured officers as Taliban-backed militants attacked the Noor Guest House in Kabul. The attack venue was host to (Indian) personnel working at the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Nineteen persons, including seven Indians, had lost their lives then.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: 21 Days with the Mistress of King Midas

From PRLog:
Love and Bliss will find it's way into your heart and soul as you follow along the path of ancient wisdom and lighthearted fun, leaping for joy for the Mistress, who comes to the rescue of a fallen King. In the latest book by Dr. Marcia Ann Mims Coppertino, "21 Days with the Mistress of King Midas" weaves the story of how a common prostitute shares her modest abode and heart with a stranger whom she recognizes as great, but who has lost his way and his kingdom, and how she transforms him for his return to victory, strength and valor in the 21 days alloted her.

Working with a vivid imagination and the love for "women of mystery" Dr. Coppertino states that she wanted to bring due justice to the personality of women who are unsung heroines, and to showcase the fact that people from all walks of life can be used to come to the aid of another, with kindness and helpfulness. The Mistress character, according to Dr. Coppertino, sought a way to re-develop and re-tool a man who came from a different walk and status in life, but who in fact shared three common traits all possess: A need for caring and sharing, shelter from the storms of life and help to attain triumph over seeming unsurmountable odds! Dr. Coppertino says "no one is immune from the trials and pitfalls in life" and that biblically speaking, two are better than one, in all cases and under all circumstances.

China: New Laws For Aggrieved Wives

Sallying forth into the ancient battleground of extramarital affairs, China's top court appears poised to side with wronged wives against philandering husbands and greedy mistresses.

Under a draft interpretation of China's marriage law, expected to be issued in coming weeks, mistresses would not be allowed to sue their married lovers for reneging on promises of money, property or goods, said legal experts.

Nor would wayward husbands be allowed to seek the courts' help in retrieving money or goods that they bestowed upon mistresses. But wives could sue to recover money or property that ended up in the hands of a mistress.

The Supreme People's Court decided to clarify the marriage law after a spate of lawsuits over the exchange of goods, money or property during extramarital affairs, Mr Yang Xiaoxin, a marriage law specialist in Beijing, said.

The Fatwa Scourge

This is a tragedy that the whole nation should mourn and protest. The national conscience was savagely traumatised. Hena Akhter is a victim of the gender discrimination that prevails in our country. It is an indictment of the poverty that the underprivileged of our country suffer, and the injustice and bigotry that hold them in thralldom.

Much can be said about the law of the land, the uprightness of the judiciary and the vigilance of our non-government organisations. But the bestiality continues to prey on the underprivileged of the society. Only tragedies like that of Hena come to the light. We rise when a life in its bloom is lost.

It is a fact that Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. But there are Muslim countries like Malaysia and Turkey that can pride themselves on their civilised societies. Our problem is that ours is an impoverished country with a large population caught in illiteracy. The rural society carries all the vestiges of feudal setup with lesser lords making the most of political power, money and religion. They strike down the weaker of the tribe. Darbesh Kha and his daughter Hena Akhter of Chamta village of Naria Upazilla belonged to this struggling lot. So, Hena was hunted down and the most sanctified among the weaponry, fatwa, was used.
  • See these links for more on Hena Akhter:
  • The Guardian - Bangladesh whipping case: three doctors investigated for claiming teenage girl had no signs of injury.
  • The Independant - Hena's death: Probe body completes task
  • The Mid-Day - Bangladeshi family demands justice for 'whipped to death' raped daughter
  • CNN - Bangladesh court orders fresh probe into death of teenage girl

Ethiopia: Campaign Against Female Circumcision

From Ezega:
In recent months local and national initiatives have shown a clear intensification of the struggle against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision.

The ancient practice of removing the outer female genitalia and “sewing” the vaginal opening shut has long existed in the region under the pretext of cleanliness and religious piety.

After years of United Nations and international NGO advocacy, recent “homegrown” campaigns have signaled a local increase in the struggle to eliminate the practice in Ethiopia. For example, recent Ethiopian Television programs have targeted the practice by assembling both religious scholars and traditional leaders to advocate against FGM.

Witchcraft in Modern Africa

A human rights group in Malawi is causing a stir as it embarks on a mission to gather 10,000 signatures from locals to force President Bingu wa Mutharika free several jailed witches.
Association of Secular Humanism (ASH) says most of the convicts are women jailed for teaching witchcraft to children. Reports say some are doing jail time of up to six years.

“I’m asking you to sign this petition to help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts,” a senior official of the association, Harold Williams is quoted saying.

The petition reads: “Belief in witchcraft is widely held in Malawi by people of all levels of education and stature in society. Whereas the law does not accept the reality of witchcraft, the Police and judicial authorities, many of whom share the belief, distort the law to punish those who are accused of witchcraft”

“It is mainly the elderly, men and women, who are accused of witchcraft and there are many very elderly and infirm imprisoned throughout Malawi - sentenced for up to 6 years without anything that would pass as substantive evidence in courts which do not accept superstition and suspicion as adequate."

And from the New York Times:
Accusations of witchcraft in Africa have gained increasing attention because of the severe impact they can have on the lives of those accused, including imprisonment, deprivation of property, banishment from villages and in some cases physical violence.

The human-rights law program I direct recently partnered with an N.G.O. in Malawi to run a mobile legal-aid clinic focusing on witchcraft cases in two rural communities.

Men, women and children flocked to our clinic seeking legal assistance. The cases were challenging and engaged the question of how to confront accusations of witchcraft, particularly when children and elderly women disproportionately bear the brunt of such accusations.

The persecution of accused witches has not historically been confined to Africa. Witch-hunts have occurred in Europe, America, ancient Rome, Aztec Mexico, Russia, China and India. But the practice persists in poor settings in part because witchcraft can be used in communities without routine access to modern medicine and science to explain seemingly inexplicable instances of death and misfortune.

The Subjugation of Women in 1904

Their Existence, from Cradle to Grave, is One of Unspeakable Horror and Degradation

A Hindoo grandmother, with a red sahree drawn close around her, told her life’s story recently to 100 Chicago mothers who had gathered tin a little room in Handell hall to hear it.

It was a story that might have been told in Nero’s court, while Christians, burning like candles in their jackets of tar, were illuminating the gardens—it might have been told then because the flames would have made a perfect setting for the story of Sukhiva Vannerjee. is Hindoo grandmother’s hair was as black as ebony and her eyes were the eyes of youth with the fire of a hope burned out. The mothers who hear her story were white-haired, many of them.

Twenty-one years ago Sukhiva Vannerjee was married. She is now 27 years old. The man who took as his bride a girl of six was over 30, was prosperous, and belonged to India’s high caste, as did the child wife.

The woman told her story in broken English. Now and then she was prompted by Miss Josephine Holmes, a Los Angeles woman who brought her to this country to arouse sympathy in American in the movement to abolish the child wife practice in India.

Noor Inayat Khan

From VOA News:
A campaign is underway to honor Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian woman who spied for Britain during World War II.

Born in 1914, she favored India's independence from Britain. But she put her feelings aside to help the British fight Nazi Germany. She was eventually caught in occupied France and executed at Dachau concentration camp.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Songbird: Barbara Smith Conrad

From the New York Times:
Barbara Smith Conrad, a black child of the segregated South, did not seek to vote or to ride in the front of the bus. She just wanted to sing.

But in 1957, when this mezzo-soprano from a small East Texas town was cast opposite a white male student in a University of Texas, Austin, opera production, that was just as controversial. Suddenly Ms. Conrad was thrust into the drama of the larger struggle for civil rights. Her story is now the subject of “When I Rise,” a documentary scheduled to have its national television premiere on PBS’s “Independent Lens” on Tuesday night.

WWII's Female Computers

From CNN News:
It was 2003 and Erickson was interviewing sisters Shirley Blumberg Melvin and Doris Blumberg Polsky for her documentary, "Neighbor Ladies," about a woman-owned real estate agency that helped to peacefully integrate a Philadelphia neighborhood. The twins, long-retired by then, reluctantly mentioned a different sort of job they'd held during World War II: Female "computers."

Computer, at that point, was a job title, not a machine. Long before the sisters were businesswomen, community activists, mothers or grandmothers, they were recruited by the U.S. military to do ballistics research. They worked six days a week, sometimes pulling double or triple shifts, along with dozens of other women.

The weapons trajectories they calculated were passed out to soldiers in the field and bombardiers in the air. Some of their colleagues went on to program the earliest of general-purpose computers, the ENIAC.

It wasn't factory work, but they were "Rosies" nonetheless, filling jobs that men would've taken if they hadn't been at war or wrapped up in other military research.

The Iron Lady: Meryl as Margaret

From BBC News:
Film fans have been given their first glimpse of Hollywood actress Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in upcoming film The Iron Lady.

Shooting has just begun on the film, written by Sex Traffic's Abi Morgan and directed by Mamma Mia's Phyllida Lloyd.

The film follows Baroness Thatcher as she broke through class and gender barriers to become prime minister.

The film also stars Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher. The cast also includes Richard E Grant and Anthony Head.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stone Age Fertility Artifact

A Stone Age-era artifact carved with multiple zigzags and what is likely a woman with spread legs suggests that fertility rituals may have been important to early Europeans, according to new research.

The object, which will be documented in the March issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, is made out of a large elk antler and has been radiocarbon dated to about 10,900 years ago.

"The ornament is composed of groups of zigzag lines and a human representation, probably a woman with spread legs with a short zigzag nearby," lead author Tomasz Płonka told Discovery News. "The woman may be nude, but the geometrical style of representation does not allow us to answer (this question)."

The researchers aren't yet certain if the images on the carved antler are associated with Venus figurines, statuettes of women with exaggerated sexual features that date to as early as 35,000 years ago. Some Venus figurines have been excavated in Poland not too far from the Swidwin site.

The Bone Collector

From IOL News:

Like many Taiwanese teenage girls, Lee You-fang likes to sing pop songs and play with her pet dog, but she has an unusual job: working with the bones of the dead.

For five years, 19-year-old Lee has honed her craft as a “bone collector,” assisting her father in an ancient funerary rite that involves collecting, cleaning and arranging human skeletons for reburial.

She began working full-time after graduating from high school last year, following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather who started the family business eight decades ago.

Bone collecting is linked to a belief that the feng shui of ancestral graves will affect the lives of the descendants and that a reburial can help turn around luck in difficult times.

The Sisterhood of Avalon

The sisterhood, a Celtic tradition, is exclusive to women in which followers honour five goddesses who each represent a station in a cycle of healing.

The sisterhood is about “gathering the tools for self-empowerment,’’ said Lazic, a holistic therapist in private practice, who meditates several times a week and journeys to Avalon in her mind twice a month.

Pagan faiths, often described as earth-based religions, adhere to ritual practices and follow different mythologies including Celtic, Norse and ancient Greek traditions.

Some follow the phases the moon, celebrating equinoxes and solstices. They practice in groups, alone or today more commonly on the internet in covens, circles or hearths.

Common forms of paganism include Wicca and witchcraft. Paganism was a label European Christians gave to villagers who followed traditional folk practices outside the mainstream religions.

The Sisterhood of Avalon is a mix of Arthurian legend, folklore, stories passed on from the druids and goddess spirituality. It’s not known if Avalon really existed but its followers believe the spiritual energy of ancient times remains alive today.

Within history, Avalon is a place with pagan and Christian roots. According to Arthurian legend, a mortally wounded King Arthur was healed on Avalon and the island is his final resting place.

Legend also has it that Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ uncle, returned to Glastonbury after the death of Jesus to establish the first Christian church in the British Isles. It is said that Joseph brought Jesus with him on trips to the British Isles.

The Lady Chapel in Glastonbury is dedicated to Jesus’ mother Mary and still exists today. The tower of Saint Michael, that stands on Glastonbury Tor, is the remains of the second church built there in the 15th century.

Indian Brides Victims of Fake Grooms

An investigative team from the Calgary Herald travelled to India recently to report that, in the province of Punjab alone, it is conservatively estimated that over 30,000 young women, some as young as 16 to18, have been defrauded and abandoned by fraudulent grooms from Canada.

The exploitation of these young women is never a one-man operation; typically it involves a whole kinship network. The Herald reported that abandoned brides now constitute an epidemic and concluded that they are victims of “organized crime”

Fraudulent grooms make stringent demands of enormous dowries, proof of a woman’s youth and virginal status, and a swift passage from agreement to marriage. Then, shortly after the wedding ceremony and a brief honeymoon, the fraudulent grooms beat a hasty exit from India back to Canada, dowry in hand.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 - 1960)

Flamboyant, bold and outrageous were Zora Neale Hurston’s writings, as was her life. As the diva of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was the most prolific black woman writer of her times and a brilliant chronicler of African American life.

A literary ancestor of the contemporary canon of African American women’s writings like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou, etc., Hurston helped to create the art of black women’s narrative voices.

Hurston’s genius for storytelling and drama derived from depicting the lives of her subjects in the poetic cadence of black idiom, and her art form won her critical acclaim in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hurston’s explorations of black female characters, her analysis of women’s concerns, and their romantic quest for personal wholeness and female autonomy influenced a generation of writers.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret

TO hide her identity from the men around her, she docked her hair, bound her breasts so tightly she could hardly breathe and gritted her teeth against starvation and seasickness for 18 months at sea.

For all these trials, the passage of nearly 250 years has relegated Jeanne Baret's story to a curious historical footnote: in the mid-18th century, on an expedition ship led by famous French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Baret hid her gender and became the first woman known to circumnavigate the globe.

Until recently, that was where Baret's place in history began and ended. But in her second book, British academic Glynis Ridley scoured fragments of historical evidence to uncover a deeper tale: one of a poor but brilliant French herb-woman who, working alongside the prominent man she loved, left a lasting mark on modern botany.

The book: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret - A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe by Glynis Ridley

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shari`ah Laws and Women

From OnIslam:
Women issues are the real test for the current Islamic reform. The reason is that groundless and unfair differentiation between men and women is deeply embedded in many popular opinions that we inherited from the eras of decline of the Islamic civilization.
Continue reading the article by Jasser Auda.

Women Falsely Punished For WWII Collaboration

Veteran Polish film director Feliks Falk has said that many women were punished unjustly for charges of collaboration with Nazi Germans during World War II.

Falk discussed the theme in Kielce on Saturday at a special screening of his latest film, Joanna. The movie won two of the top awards at last year's Polish Film Festival in Gdynia.

Joanna tells the story of a Cracovian woman whose husband was interned by the Germans in a POW camp for officers. One day she meets a Jewish child in a church, and decides to take her in. However, Joanna is shortly denounced by her fellow countrymen. Her fate seems sealed, but a German officer gives her the chance of survival, if she is prepared to collaborate with him.

“The parents and neighbours who accused the heroine of hiding a Jew were not bad,” the director reflected. “They were simply terrified.”

“The decision to hide Jews was a difficult one,” Falk continued. “Joanna conquered that fear.”

The film went on general release in Poland before Christmas. Joanna is not based on a specific historical case, but explores the dilemmas of many Poles during German occupation. The penalty in Poland for hiding Jews was death, a sentence that was invariably meted out to the entire family.

Big Dig - Boston's Infamous Brothel

From BU Today:
Boston’s infamous Big Dig construction project, which rerouted the city’s central artery, unearthed a trove of archaeological treasures in a 19th-century brothel’s outhouse. Buried there were items of importance to the women who made their living outside the margins of polite society: hairbrushes, medicines, and vaginal syringes used for self-medicating and cleaning.

Now, a team of archaeology students from BU is studying these artifacts to find out what they reveal about how the residents of one Boston brothel lived. The building, long since torn down, existed on Endicott Street, near Boston’s North End, just two blocks from what was then the city’s red light district. The team hopes that by studying the more than 3,000 artifacts recovered from the outhouse and using old city records, they can gain insight into the day-to-day lives of prostitutes believed to have lived at the property between 1852 and 1883.

Progressive reformers wrote of brothels as dens of iniquity, vice, depravity, and filth, “but yet in this site we see a very high concern for personal health and hygiene,” Beaudry says. “This is understandable given the inevitable side effects of the sex trade, which is conception, disease, that sort of thing. These findings are the reverse of shocking; they show that these women were making a living as best they could.”

Penny Feiwel - International Brigade in Spain

Penny Feiwel was the last of the British women who served as volunteers on the side of the Spanish Republic during the civil war of 1936-39.

She was one of about 75 women from Britain who joined the International Brigades following the military coup launched by Francisco Franco and other generals with backing from Hitler and Mussolini. Like Feiwel, known in Spain by her maiden name of Phelps, most of them were nurses and worked in makeshift frontline hospitals in conditions of great hardship and danger. Phelps herself suffered serious injuries in a bombing raid that put an end to her service in Spain.

In 1992 she published her memoir, English Penny, under the pen-name Penny Fyvel. In 2009, she and a small group of surviving International Brigade veterans attended a ceremony at the Spanish embassy in London to be awarded Spanish citizenship. Ambassador Carles Casajuana told them: "Your efforts were not in vain. Your ideals are part of the foundations of our democracy in Spain today."