Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lady Judith Montefiore: A Brief History

It was, in the words of Charles Dickens, “The best of times and the worst of times.” While revolution and political strife roiled Continental Europe, Britain in the 1780s and beyond was home to progressive social change, and to a growing community of educated, cultured Jews who flocked to England.

This group of highly educated, ambitious Jews called themselves the “Cousinhood” – brilliant Jewish families who built empires of business and service, married into each other’s families and created a new, vibrant Jewish community. One of the most prominent of these immigrant Jews was the Dutch-born Levi A. Barnet Cohen who moved to London in the 1770s and eventually became one of a dozen Jews newly elected to Parliament, without compromising his Orthodox Jewish faith. He married a brilliant Jewish woman named Lydia and together they raised an observant Jewish family. Their daughter, Lady Judith Montefiore, became a great – and little known – patron of Jewish life.

Judith used her wealth to support poor Jews, helping build the Jewish Ladies’ Loan and Visiting Society, a Jewish orphanage in London, and educational programs for girls at Jews’ Hospital. Moshe also rose in British society. He was knighted in 1837 (Judith gained the honorific Lady then); that year he was also elected the Sheriff of London – only the second Jew ever elected to that post. Yet despite the Montefiore’s high social position, they were dogged for years by anti-Semitism and snide anti-Jewish remarks.

read more here @ aish dot com

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Local Mexican folk artist honors murdered or disappeared women

From SWNews4U:
Artist Gabriela Marvan’s ‘Dia de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) exhibit at VIVA Gallery in October is dedicated to the “souls of the 10 women who are killed or disappear each day in Mexico.” 

Gabriela Marvan is part of a collective of Mexican artists, which formed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to face their struggles together.

“The origin of this idea began when I realized that my artist friends in Mexico were struggling with the pandemic situation. I know how talented they are, and I know that the world would be interested in knowing more about their art. Our goal with this collective is to develop a connection between the Mexican folk artists living in Mexico and the Mexican folk artists living in USA, empowering our art through sharing our process, our towns, our inspiration.”

Was Senenmut Queen Hatshepsut’s Secret Lover?

Was Senenmut Queen Hatshepsut's Secret Lover?Hatshepsut had a glorious reign over Egypt, but her personal life did not seem as glorious. She never mentioned her husband after he died, and she became the king. Her daughter, Neferu-Re died when she was a teenager, and her name was erased from her temple by Tuthmosis III to show that he was the legitimate king, like his father and grandfather. Did she get in a secret relationship with Senenmut to compensate for all this?

Senenmut was a wealthy commoner, an overseer of works, and the tutor of Neferu-Re. Many believed that he was the secret lover of Queen Hatshepsut as well, judging by the graffiti on a wall: the female pharaoh being made love to by an overseer. Widowed women in ancient Egypt did not remarry, but it did not mean they could never fall in love again.

read more here @ The Great Courses Daily

Footprints tell story of woman carrying toddler while dodging sabre-toothed cats

Locally known as "ghost tracks" because they can only be seen under certain weather conditions, the adult tracks were first discovered in 2017, followed by the child's.

The prints tell the remarkable story of a woman and a small child as they made their way across the mudflats with large predators crossing their path.

An analysis found the woman was moving at a rapid pace, intermittently carrying and putting down the child.

Incredible details of 10,000-year-old trek revealed in fossil footprints

On the outward journey, her prints show that she was slipping, suggesting conditions were wet and treacherous. But on her return, following the same path almost exactly, she was alone and no slipping marks were detected.

read more here @ The Telegraph

New Zealand election: Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party scores landslide win

From BBC News:
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018.jpgNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a landslide victory in the country's general election.

With all votes tallied, Ms Ardern's centre-left Labour Party won 49.1%, bringing a projected 64 seats and a rare outright parliamentary majority.

The opposition centre-right National Party won 26.8% in Saturday's poll - just 35 seats in the 120-seat assembly.

The poll was originally to be held in September but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

Ms Ardern, 40, told her supporters after the victory: "New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years. We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."

read more here @ BBC News

US woman faces first federal execution since 1953

From BBC News:
The US is to execute a female federal inmate for the first time in almost 70 years, the Justice Department said.

Lisa Montgomery strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri before cutting out and kidnapping the baby in 2004. She is due to be given a lethal injection in Indiana on 8 December.

The last woman to be executed by the US government was Bonnie Heady, who died in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

US Attorney General William Barr said the crimes were "especially heinous murders".

read more here @ BBC News

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Horrifying Attacks On Indian Women

An Indian husband walked to a police station in India carrying the decapitated head of his wife who he beheaded after accusing her of having an affair. 

Chinnar Yadav attacked his wife Vimla with a sharp weapon after a heated argument in which he accused her of being unfaithful with their neighbour, according to police.

After killing and beheading his wife, Yadav was then filmed carrying her severed head to their local police station in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Similar scenes were captured in Uttar Pradesh in February when another man decapitated his wife and walked through the streets singing the Indian national anthem. 

This is not the only attacks on women in this region. You have the following horrific examples:

- husband kills wife he thinks is about to give birth to a daughter
- gang rape reported but not believed by police
- reporting sexual assault is termed a conspiracy
- rape culture criticised
- vulnerability of women
- acid attack on woman by neighbours
- cremation of rape victim under scrutiny
- high incidents of crime against women
- congress woman assaulted for speaking out
- another gang rape death
- sexual assault not believed, justice delayed
- woman beaten for resisting public molestation
- high level of crimes against women

The northern region of Uttar Pradesh is one of the four largest states in India, with a population to 200 million (and growing). With the fifth largest economy, the state is now dominated by the services industry. The service sector comprises travel and tourism, hotel industry, real estate, insurance and financial consultancies.

Uttar Pradesh also has the highest number of crimes among any state in India, but due to its high population. Uttar Pradesh also continues to top the list of states with maximum communal violence incidents. An analysis of Ministers of State of Home Affairs states (2014), 23% of all incidents of communal violence in India took place in Uttar Pradesh - this includes violence against religious minorities, social castes, and women. According to a post from NDTV, "... 4,322 cases of rape were reported in 2018, with almost 12 taking place daily ..." - and further statistics are provided in this article from The Hindu, with this alarming statistic that "... the conviction rate in rape-related cases stood at 27.2% even though the rate of filing chargesheets was 85.3% in such cases ..."

This is just over the last year or so; it boggles the mind to think of the brutality women and girls have been silently subjected to in years past. Something needs to be done!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

How the Mercury 13 Fought to Get Women in Space

Jerrie Cobb poses next to a Mercury spaceship capsule.
Only a month ago, it was announced that Jeanette Epps would become the first Black woman to live on the International Space Station—two years after she was originally supposed to go into space. Historically, NASA has not been the greatest at supporting women. It didn’t even accept women to its astronaut training program until Sally Ride in 1978.

When NASA opened its doors in 1958, it did not explicitly exclude women from applying to be astronauts. It did, however, require all applicants to be military jet test pilots—something women could not qualify for.

Physician William Randall Lovelace hypothesized that women—being smaller and lighter—might actually be better suited for space flight than men were. In 1960, he developed a secret “Women in Space” program at his research center in New Mexico. This project, which was not sanctioned by NASA, recruited over two dozen women and had them undergo the same rigorous physical and mental exams as the NASA astronauts. The first pilot recruited for this program, Jerrie Cobb, began referring to the others as her “Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees” (FLATs), but the final group would come to be known as the Mercury 13.

read more here @ JSTOR Daily

The Angel Makers of Nagyrév and the truth around murderous women of myth

From SYFY Wire:
In central Hungary lies a village named Nagyrév. A farming town to the southeast of Budapest with a sparse location of around 800 people, Nagyrév was, like many small villages in the country during the early 1900s, a quiet and unobtrusive place. Its community was tightly bound and its amenities simple. What it lacked, however, was a resident doctor. For those who were sick or in desperate need of medical advice, their options were limited. That changed in 1911 when a woman named Zsuzsanna Fazekas came to town. Within 15 years, she would become one of Europe's most infamous woman, the self-styled leader of a group of women who were accused of murdering close to three hundred people by poisoning. They became known as The Angel Makers of Nagyrév.

When she arrived in Nagyrév, Zsuzsanna Fazekas raised a few eyebrows. She had a murky background, her husband had apparently gone missing under curious circumstances, and nobody knew where she had come from. She did, however, come with some solid references and prior experience as a midwife.

The Angel Makers Of Nagyrev | Sword And Scale

It's unclear how the so-called Angel Makers were eventually detected. One account claim that a medical student in a neighboring town found high arsenic levels in a body that washed up on the riverbank, leading to an investigation. Béla Bodó, a Hungarian-American historian, said that the murders were made public when an anonymous letter to a local newspaper accused the women of mass murder. Whatever the case, the authorities were driven to exhume dozens of bodies from the local cemetery, and they discovered that 46 of the 50 corpses dug up contained massive traces of arsenic.

When the police came to arrest Fazekas, she was already dead, having taken some of her own poison. 26 women eventually stood trial for the murders. Their motives were varied, and their crimes became the stuff of local myth. Some women claimed they were sick of their abusive spouses. Others wanted to get their hands on land owned by their families. Many said they had wanted to keep their lovers from wartime. It was remarked upon with shock at the time that these women often seemed unrepentant on the stand, even bored by the drama of the courtroom. They felt that they had done what they had to do, regardless of the monstrous nature of their misdeeds. Eventually, eight of the Angel Makers of Nagyrév were sentenced to death but only two were executed. 12 others received prison sentences.

read more here @ SYFY Wire

see also: The Angel Makers by Jessica Gregson

Learn about the “secret” language that only women in China speak...

Hunan Province, in southeast China, is a unique painting that combines soaring limestone peaks, canyons cut by rivers and submerged rice fields covered in fog. Mountains cover more than 80 percent of the area, interspersed with small villages that arose on the slopes of the mountains in isolation from one another.

And in this province, among the embrace of rugged cliffs and small villages, the Nushu language, which is the only writing in the world created by women and used by only them, has emerged.

Nushu script, which means “writing women” in Chinese, flourished in the nineteenth century in Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, to enable women from the Han, Yao and Miao nationalities in this region to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, which were absent in many of these societies. at that time.

Some experts believe that the roots of this writing, which was the preserve of women, go back to the Song Dynasty from 960 to 1279, and some believe that it dates back to the Shang Dynasty more than 3000 years ago. Girls were learning Nushu writing from their peasant mothers and practicing it with their sisters and friends in feudal Chinese society at a time when women were denied educational opportunities.

Many of these women were illiterate. In order to learn Nushu, they had to train in transmitting the written text as they saw it. With time, the Nushu paved the way for the emergence of a distinct female culture that still exists today.

It is noteworthy that this non-spoken writing was known to anyone outside Jiangyong Province for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years, and it was only in the 1980s that it echoed to the outside world.

read more here @ Alkhaleej Today

First all-female team win Nobel Chemistry Prize for gene-editing tool

Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer Doudna of the US on Wednesday won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for the gene-editing technique known as the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA snipping “scissors”, the first time a Nobel science prize has gone to a women-only team.

Using the tool, “researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision,” the Nobel jury said.

“This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true,” they added.

The technique has been tipped for a Nobel nod several times in the past, but speaking to reporters in Stockholm via telephone link Charpentier said the call was still a surprise.

“Strangely enough I was told a number of times (it might happen) but when it happens you are very surprised and you feel that it’s not real,” she said.

Charpentier, 51, and Doudna, 56, are just the sixth and seventh women to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

read more here @ Khmer Times

King of This Ancient African 'Kingdom State' Picks a 'Virgin' Bride Every Year

From News 18:
Monarchy, even though mostly abolished, is still prevalent in few countries. Most of the monarchies around the world have reduced to ceremonial roles with limited or no constitutional powers. However, some of them still reign with absolute power and hold titular titles as Kings or Queens. One such ‘kingdom state’ from Africa is sure to leave you shocked if not baffled.

The kingdom of eSwatini formerly known as Swaziland, is one of the world’s remaining absolute monarchies. The small landlocked kingdom is bordered by the Republic of South Africa and Mozambique. King Maswati III is known for his polyamorous ways rather than ruling over his subjects with flair. As per Swazi tradition – the King is mandated to choose a new bride every year and he will continue to wed ‘virgins,’ as long as he is the king.

The annual ceremony dates to 1940s and was created to preserve women’s chastity before marriage and serve the Queen Mother. It also was propagated to strengthen solidarity among women to work together.

read more here @ News 18

Ancient kitchen, ‘women’s room’ found in Patara

Archaeological excavations carried out in the ancient city of Patara in the southern province of Antalya’s Kaş district, which is described as the cradle of civilizations as it has hosted many civilizations throughout history, have unearthed a kitchen and a “women’s room,” believed to be 2,400 years old.

The artifacts found during the excavations in Patara, the capital of the Lycian Union, where important traces of human life have been found in the archaeological excavations, have thrilled the world of archaeology.

Ancient kitchen, ‘women’s room’ found in PataraThe excavations are carried out in the Tepecik region, where the city’s settlements were formed. The kitchen was found in this area along with the “women’s room” with mirrors, ornaments and fragrance containers.

Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, deputy head of Patara excavations, Associate Professor Erkan Dündar said that the Tepecik settlement in Patara is an area where the earliest finds and architectural structures of the ancient city were found.

Emphasizing that thanks to the excavations there, they reached information about the residential life during the Lycian Union period, Dündar said that besides residential buildings, there was a military garrison in Tepecik.

read more here @ Hurriyet Daily News

Queen Nefertari’s Egypt to open at the Kimbell in December

At the heart of the exhibition is Queen Nefertari, who was renowned for her beauty and prominence, the museum said in a news release.

“Ancient Egypt has long fascinated the modern world,” said Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum, “and we are thrilled to present this remarkable exhibition that is altogether alluring, grand, exotic and captivating. We are especially grateful to the Museo Egizio for lending us this extraordinary collection of objects.”

Called “the one for whom the sun shines,” Nefertari and other women of ancient Egypt are brought to life through 230 objects from temples, tombs, palaces and the artisan village of Deir el-Medina, presenting the richness of Egyptian culture some 3,000 years ago.

Drawn from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, one of the most important and extensive collections of ancient Egyptian works in the world, these exceptional objects highlight the role of women – goddesses, queens and artisans – in Egypt’s New Kingdom period (c. 1539–1075 B.C.).

Queen Nefertari’s Egypt adds an exciting new show to the Kimbell’s special exhibition repertoire and casts light on royal life in the palace, the roles of women in ancient Egypt, the everyday life of artisans and the powerful belief system and ritual practices around death and the afterlife.

read more here @ Fort Worth Business Press

Dalit women: Rapes reveal double struggle of low-caste females in India

The victim of India's latest alleged gang rape faced the double discrimination of being born female and low caste, says her family, fearing she will get no justice in death either.

They say it would all have been different if the 19-year-old victim of a brutal attack came from an upper-caste family or if the suspects were all lower-caste Indians, known as Dalit.

India Dalit protest1

"The police are twisting facts," her brother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

"Things could have been different had we belonged to an upper caste." 

His sister - who cannot be named - died from her injuries last week after she was allegedly attacked by upper-caste men on 14th September in a field near her home in India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, sparking widespread outrage and protests.

Days later, another lower-caste Dalit woman died in the same state, also after being gang raped.

read more here @ Sight Magazine

The cases highlight discrimination and abuse against India's 200 million Dalits, who are on the lowest rung of an ancient caste hierarchy and suffer social and economic exclusion despite laws to protect them.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Happy Birthday Women of History

Women of History is coming up to another birthday milestone 

- its 22nd birthday!

Women of History was founded on 13th October 1998 as a fledgling website hosted by the now defunct Geocities.  It initially featured biographies of fifty historical women that fascinated me personally. 

After a few years, more biographies were added, with each biography being accompanied by some amazing art work and a list for further reading.  The research that I put into these vignettes was done the old fashioned way - through books - there was no such thing as wikipedia when I first started out.

Once Geocities finally closed down in March 2009, the old website morphed into the Women of History blog, hosted by Blogger since May 2007. The blog that you see today has undergone many changes - mainly theme related. Articles, newsworthy items, and biographies and books on notable women throughout history graced the pages of the blog.

In the end, I began cross posting reviews of related books onto my other blog - Melisende's Library - which is where you will find all literary related items.

I hope you take some time to visit and explore both my blogs.