Turkey withdrew early Saturday from a landmark European treaty protecting women from violence that it was the first to sign 10 years ago and that bears the name of its largest city.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s overnight decree annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a blow to women’s rights advocates, who say the agreement is crucial to combating domestic violence. Hundreds of women gathered in Istanbul to protests against the move on Saturday.
Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the Council of Europe’s secretary general, called the decision “devastating.”
“This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond,” she said.
The Istanbul Convention states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent gender-based violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.
Some officials from Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party had advocated for a review of the agreement, arguing it is inconsistent with Turkey’s conservative values by encouraging divorce and undermining the traditional family unit.
Critics also claim the treaty promotes homosexuality through the use of categories such as gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. They see that as a threat to Turkish families. Hate speech has been on the rise in Turkey, including from Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who described LGBT people as “perverts” in a tweet. Erdogan has rejected their existence altogether.
Exit prompts protests
Women’s groups and their allies who have been protesting to keep the convention intact immediately called for demonstrations across the country on Saturday under the slogan, “Withdraw the decision, implement the treaty.” They said their years-long struggle would not be erased in one night.
Rights groups say violence against and killing of women are on the rise in Turkey, but the interior minister called that a “complete lie” on Saturday.
A total of 77 women have been killed since the start of the year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform. Some 409 women were killed in 2020, with dozens found dead under suspicious circumstances, according to the group.
Numerous women’s rights groups slammed the decision. Advocacy group Women’s Coalition Turkey said the withdrawal from a human rights agreement was a first in Turkey. “It is clear that this decision will further encourage the murderers of women, harassers, rapists,” their statement said.
Government claims commitment to issue
Turkey’s justice minister said the government was committed to combating violence against women.
“We continue to protect our people’s honour, the family and our social fabric with determination,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul tweeted.
Erdogan has repeatedly stressed the “holiness” of the family and called on women to have three children. His communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said the government’s motto is “Powerful Families, Powerful Society.”
Many women suffer physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or partners, but up-to-date official statistics are unavailable. The Istanbul Convention requires states to collect data.
Hundreds of women and allies gathered in Istanbul on Saturday, wearing masks and holding banners. Their demonstration has so far been allowed, but the area was surrounded by police and a coronavirus curfew begins in the evening.
They shouted pro-LGBT slogans and called for Erdogan’s resignation. They cheered as a woman speaking through a megaphone said, “You cannot close up millions of women in their homes. You cannot erase them from the streets and the squares.”
Turkey signed on first
Turkey — which applied to join the European Union in 1987 but is not yet a member — was the first country to sign the Council of Europe’s “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” at a committee of ministers meeting in Istanbul in 2011. The law came into force in 2014, and Turkey’s constitution says international agreements have the force of law.
Some lawyers claimed Saturday that the treaty is still active, arguing the president cannot withdraw from it without the approval of parliament, which ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2012.
But Erdogan gained sweeping powers with his re-election in 2018, setting in motion Turkey changing from a parliamentary system of government to an executive presidency.
The justice minister wrote on Twitter that while parliament approves treaties that the executive branch puts into effect, the executive also has the authority to withdraw from them.
Women lawmakers from Turkey’s main opposition party said they will not recognize the decree and called it another “coup” on parliament, which had unanimously accepted the treaty, and a usurpation of the rights of 42 million women.
Shootings at two massage parlours in Atlanta and one in the suburbs Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said.
The attacks began around 5 p.m., when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 50 kilometres north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said.
No one was arrested at the scene.
Around 5:50 p.m., police in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.
Suspect taken into custody
The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.
A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said. Baker said the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 240 kilometres south of Atlanta.
Baker said they believe Long is also the suspect in the Atlanta shootings.
Police said video footage showed the suspect’s vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks as well. That, as well as other video evidence, “suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody,” Atlanta police said in a statement. Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.
FBI spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, around 8:30 p.m., he said.
A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, manoeuvre, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said. Long was then taken into custody “without incident” and was being held in the Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities, who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.
Due to the shootings, Atlanta police said they dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and increased patrols in the area.
It’s International Women’s Day, which means it’s a great time to repeat this stat: women won 16 of Canada’s 22 medals at the last Summer Olympics, including three of the four gold. Based on the latest projections, there’s a good chance they account for an even larger share of the country’s podium spots this summer. So let’s look at some of the Canadian women who could star in Tokyo:
Kylie Masse: Since she swam to an Olympic bronze medal in the 100-metre backstroke in 2016, Masse has taken over the event. She won back-to-back world titles in 2017 and ’19, making her the favourite to take gold in Tokyo. Masse is also a podium threat in the 200 back (she took bronze at the ’19 worlds) and could add a relay medal or two.
Maggie Mac Neil and Sydney Pickrem: After Masse, they’re the two Canadians most likely to win individual swimming medals. Mac Neil is the reigning world champ in the 100 butterfly, while Pickrem won bronze in both the 200 breaststroke and 200 medley at the 2019 worlds and added another bronze in a relay. Penny Oleksiak’s individual results have dipped since her magical 2016 Olympics, but she’s a valuable relay team member who contributed to three bronze medals at the ’19 worlds.
Laurence Vincent Lapointe: Women’s canoe is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo with two events — a singles 200m and a doubles 500. Vincent Lapointe has a great chance to win both of them. She ruled those races for the better part of the last decade, taking seven world titles in the solo 200 and four in the doubles 500 with various partners. Vincent Lapointe’s dominance got cut off in August 2019 when she tested positive for a banned muscle-building drug and was provisionally suspended, causing her to miss that year’s world championships. Vincent Lapointe insisted she did not knowingly take the substance, and last January the world governing body for canoe threw out the ban, clearing her to return.
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes: Beach volleyball is one of the Olympics’ glamour events, and the Canadian duo is favoured to win the women’s gold. Pavan and Humana-Paredes are still the reigning world champions from their victory in 2019, and they’re currently ranked No. 1 in the world.
Rosie MacLennan: In 2016, the trampoline star became the first Canadian ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the same individual event at the Summer Olympics. She went on to win her second world title in 2018, and she took bronze at the 2019 world championships (the most recent to be held) despite breaking her ankle only seven months earlier. If MacLennan three-peats in Tokyo, she’ll join rowing teammates Marnie McBean and the late Kathleen Heddle as the only Canadians to win three gold medals in the Summer Olympics.
Ellie Black: No Canadian woman has ever won an Olympic medal in traditional gymnastics, but Black might do it in Tokyo. She took silver in the all-around (the sport’s marquee event) at the 2017 world championships in Montreal and placed fourth in 2019.
Team sports: Of the eight Canadian squads that have already qualified for the various team-sport events in Tokyo, five are women’s: soccer, basketball, rugby sevens, water polo and softball. And the best medal hopes are on the women’s side. The soccer team won bronze at the last two Summer Olympics, the rugby sevens squad also took bronze in 2016, and the softball and basketball teams are ranked, respectively, third and fourth in the world.
CBC Sports’ Anastasia Bucsis wants to know when society will address the injustices faced by women everyday. 2:05
The National Women’s Hockey League will complete its playoffs. Back in February, the NWHL “suspended” the Isobel Cup playoffs on the eve of the semifinals because of a COVID-19 outbreak in its Lake Placid hub. Today, the league announced the semis and final will take place March 26 and 27 in Boston. The top-seeded Toronto Six will play the Boston Pride in one of the semis, with the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Connecticut Whale facing off in the other. The winners meet the next night for the Isobel Cup. Read more about the NWHL’s return here.
Mikael Kingsbury won his third moguls world title. The 28-year-old reigning Olympic champion from Deux-Montagnes, Que., repeated as world champ by winning today’s men’s competition in Kazakhstan. Kingsbury missed the first three World Cup stops of the season after fracturing two vertebrae in a training accident, but he’s undefeated since returning. He won both the moguls and dual moguls events in his first (and only) World Cup appearance of the season last month. Tomorrow, Kingsbury will go for his third straight dual moguls world title. Watch the men’s and women’s events live from 4-5:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
And in case you missed it…
A few things from the weekend you should know about:
Kevin Koe got the upper hand on Brad Gushue. They’re the two main protagonists at the Brier, where Koe is trying to become the first skip to win it five times and Gushue is trying to match him with his fourth title. Koe took control from the defending champ last night by scoring three in the final end to beat Gushue 9-7 and improve his record to a tournament-best 4-0. Heading into today’s draws, which started at 3:30 p.m. ET, Koe’s wild-card team topped Pool B ahead of Ontario (John Epping) and Quebec (Michael Fournier), who were both 3-1. Gushue’s Canada rink was 2-1. The Pool B co-leaders were Manitoba (Jason Gunnlaugson) and Glenn Howard’s wild-card team, who were both 2-0. Former champion Brad Jacobs’ Northern Ontario and three-time finalist Brendan Bottcher’s Alberta were part of a four-way tie at 2-1. Read more about the Koe-Gushue showdown here and watch That Curling Show with Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones live at 7:30 p.m. ET on YouTube or the CBC Olympics Twitter and Facebook feeds. Tonight’s guests are Jacobs and Epping.
Charles Hamelin won another short track speed skating world title. Saturday’s victory in the men’s 1,500 metres gave the 36-year-old Canadian his 37th world championship medal and his 13th gold. He also won the overall crown at the 2018 worlds in Montreal and owns five Olympic medals, including three gold. This one may have come a bit easier with several top skaters and countries — including powerhouse South Korea — deciding not to travel to the Netherlands for the worlds. But, considering his age and the fact that he’s been unable to race for more than a year because of the pandemic, Hamelin said he ranks this gold among his “top three” world championship medals. He was the only Canadian man to finish on the podium. On the women’s side, Courtney Sarault took silver in the 1,500 and bronze in the 1,000, helping her finish second in the overall standings.
The biggest stars in women’s boxing and MMA both won their fights. On Friday night, Claressa Shields scored a unanimous decision over Canadian Marie-Eve Dicaire in the main event of what was billed as the first all-women’s pay-per-view boxing card (though that claim was disputed by some). On Saturday night, Amanda Nunes tapped out Megan Anderson in just two minutes to retain the UFC women’s featherweight title.
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The permanent birth control device Essure has been off the Canadian market for four years — but pain and serious complications linger among some women who are seeking compensation from a manufacturer that says it intends to defend its product “vigorously.”
Keri Ponace of Regina is one of the 10,000 Canadian women who opted for the device.
But Ponace, 43, said she believes that decision led to years of pain from a series of subsequent health issues.
“I didn’t know it was going to feel that bad, and I didn’t know I was going to be stuck in my bed for as many years as I was. Essure is like the worst thing I’ve ever been through,” she said.
Ponace is not alone.
More than 700 Canadian women have gone after Essure’s owner, multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer, for compensation as a result of complications they say are from the birth control device.
“I think they should still be held accountable, and they should be responsible [for] the products that they back up,” Ponace said.
Canadian women will have to fight for that accountability in the courts. But it’s a different story for women in the United States who had the same experience.
Claims handled differently in Canada, U.S.
Bayer doesn’t admit any liability despite pulling the device off the market in Canada in 2017 and everywhere else around the world by 2018, but it’s agreed to pay $ 1.6 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits in the U.S.
It hasn’t settled any lawsuits in Canada, though, and doesn’t intend to.
Watch “No More Tears: The Essure Legacy” on The Fifth Estate on CBC-TV Thursday at 9 p.m. or stream on CBC Gem.
In a statement to CBC’s theFifth Estate, Bayer Canada said that the U.S. settlement reflects a commercial decision driven in large part by the unique aspects of the U.S. mass tort system, including the high costs of U.S. litigation.
“The U.S. settlement announced on August 20, 2020, has no impact on pending litigation in Canada, as Bayer’s decision to resolve the U.S. cases is based significantly upon factors that are specific to the U.S. legal system,” read the February statement.
“Bayer believes that it has meritorious defences and intends to defend itself vigorously in the remaining litigation.”
Toronto personal injury lawyer Renée Vinett is representing just over 100 women in a mass tort lawsuit — which involves consolidating numerous similar lawsuits — against Bayer.
She says she’s not surprised by the response.
“We simply have to go through the litigation process and fight the good fight,” Vinett said.
“We will vigorously litigate this in hopes of getting some sort of relief, if you can call a monetary relief, relief in this situation … just to get some sort of justice for these women who have lost so much as a result of a product that should never have been on the market.”
The other approximately 600 women seeking compensation are part of a country-wide proposed class-action lawsuit. They’re appealing a court decision last year against allowing their case to be certified. A class action in Quebec with about 47 women represented by the same firm has been certified, allowing it to go ahead.
Chronic abdominal and pelvic pain, excessive bleeding and autoimmune responses in women who have metal allergies are just some of the symptoms experienced by Vinett’s clients.
“Oftentimes, at least the clients I’ve spoken to, have small children and they’re trying to get on with their life and care for their family, and they are incapacitated by the side effects or complications of Essure,” she said.
A non-surgical procedure
Like so many women looking for birth control, Ponace took the advice of her doctor to have Essure implanted.
Doctors and the company that manufactured Essure claimed it was a safe and easy option compared with tubal ligation, which is surgery to close a woman’s fallopian tubes — more commonly known as having the tubes tied.
Essure was designed to work by inserting a two-centimetre coil into each fallopian tube. Scar tissue would form around the coils, closing off the tubes and preventing sperm from meeting an egg.
It was promoted as a non-surgical, non-invasive sterilization procedure that could be done in the doctor’s office in just 15 minutes.
But six months after the implant in 2012, Ponace said she was in pain — leaving her stuck either on the couch or in a fetal position on her bed, which made work and caring for her five children difficult.
In 2016, she convinced her doctor to remove her tubes containing the coils, but that didn’t relieve the pain.
“It’s like I have two screwdrivers drilling me in the sides of my hips … or somebody just took a knife and pushed it and twisted it,” Ponace told the Fifth Estate in 2018.
WATCH | The experience of having Essure coils removed:
Regina woman Keri Ponace disappointed permanent birth control device led to a hysterectomy. 0:44
After asking for an X-ray of her pelvis, as advised by a large online community of other women struggling with Essure, it was discovered that Ponace had a one-millimetre metal particle left from Essure lodged in her uterus.
Unable to remove just the fragment, Ponace ultimately had to undergo a hysterectomy.
‘It was completely traumatizing’
Ponace first shared her story in 2018, when a Fifth Estate investigation found that insufficient information about Essure and the adverse reactions women were experiencing put some women’s health in jeopardy.
At the time, she was just weeks away from having the hysterectomy.
More than three years later, Ponace has been able to gain back what she values most — spending time with her kids.
“I can take my kids to the park and spend quality time with them, they’re not constantly seeing mom [in] pain … it was heartbreaking for them before. I can move on and move forward,” she said.
Although Ponace says she is feeling better physically, she hasn’t been able to completely put the ordeal behind her.
“Psychologically, I’m upset because I feel like there’s still a part of me missing, right?
“It was completely traumatizing all the way to the bitter end,” Ponace said. “That was the scariest thing in my life that I had to go through.”
New data backs claims
Essure, which came on the Canadian market in 2002, was originally developed by a small U.S. company called Conceptus Inc. and then sold to Bayer in 2013.
More than one million devices were sold globally, with the majority of sales in the U.S.
Bayer said it pulled the device because of commercial reasons driven by “a decline in patient demand.”
Recent data now backs claims that Essure wasn’t necessarily the safer, permanent procedure it was billed to be.
A post-market surveillance study of 1,128 women mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that 4.5 per cent of women who had tubal ligation experienced chronic pain, but for those using Essure, the rate was double at nine per cent.
The data published last year also found that 10 per cent of women with tied tubes had abnormal bleeding compared with 16 per cent for women with Essure.
The probability that women would have the coils removed after 21 months was one in seven, or 14.3 per cent.
They came out in the summer of 2020, only after women in the U.S. filed lawsuits against Bayer.
The company disputes it was obliged to report those complaints and says that some were actually duplicates.
Information about issues with Essure historically hasn’t always been easy to come by.
Health Canada, which approved Essure in 2001, maintains an online registry where patients and doctors can report complications. However, only manufacturers and importers were mandated to report what they refer to as “adverse events.”
As previously reported in 2018, It took CBC News two years through access to information requests to obtain raw data from Health Canada on problems involving Essure.
As a result of CBC’s reporting that was part of a larger global media collaboration called The Implant Files, it’s now mandatory for hospitals to report any side-effects from medical devices such as Essure.
There are currently 98 adverse event reports associated with Essure on the database.
Dr. Nicholas Leyland, a physician in Hamilton, says transparency would have been helpful.
“If we had known that there were many patients who were experiencing difficulty, we could have been looking into this and investigating it much more diligently in the early years of this device, rather than learning about it, you know, at least 10, 12 years after the fact,” he said.
The obstetrician-gynecologist at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has done about 100 Essure implants himself — and only reported adverse events to Health Canada when patients came back for removal.
“In fact, this is a huge deficiency in the system in the United States as well as in Canada, because it’s voluntary reporting of any adverse events, and many of the doctors really don’t know the definition of what an adverse event would be associated with such a procedure,” Leyland said.
“So I think that’s something that working with Health Canada and the U.S. with the FDA, that physicians in the medical profession really need to streamline this process to make sure that we’re always aware of any complications with devices or problems with medications, etc.”
Women have become ‘E-sisters’
It was online and in private Facebook groups that women began to associate their symptoms with Essure. It was a space where their claims were validated and it wasn’t all in their heads, like so many say they were told by their doctors.
They’ve banded together, some referring to themselves as “E-sisters.”
There are more than 500 members in the main online Canadian group, along with various other provincial groups.
Amy Vandermeulen, 46, of Regina says it’s important for women to be armed with information, which is why she decided to use her platform to talk about Essure.
She hosts a community television show called The Four on Access Communications and has recently dedicated one of her segments to discussing problems with the device.
“I feel it’s important to me because it’s bringing out awareness, like some women who may be going through the same [or] similar health issues and if they have those coils in them … I think they need to be informed,” she said. “I wasn’t informed. I didn’t know where to look.”
Vandermeulen says she suffered from a range of symptoms as a result of the implant in 2012, including headaches and cramping, and was hospitalized numerous times.
“The excessive bleeding just kept going and going.”
WATCH | Spreading awareness to women:
Community television host discusses Essure device on her program 0:51
She ultimately had to have a partial hysterectomy in 2017 to remove the coils. Vandermeulen says she just needed them out.
But coil fragments were left behind after the partial hysterectomy, which led to a second surgery in 2020.
“I hope people — other women will reach out, so I can maybe help guide them and send them in the right direction, if they’re not sure where to turn to,” Vandermeulen said. “Just to be that added support for other women.”
Derogatory comments about women made earlier in the week by Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and a former prime minister, could force him to resign.
It’s one more problem the postponed Tokyo Olympics don’t need as organizers and the International Olympic Committee try to pull off the games in the midst of a pandemic. They are to open on July 23.
The organizing committee said Thursday it did not have a statement but expected to have one later in the day.
In an online meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee board of directors earlier in the week, Mori was reported by the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun saying women talk too much in meetings. His comments have created a storm in Japan where women are grossly under-represented in politics and in board rooms.
In an interview with the Japanese newspaper Mainichi published on Thursday, the 83-year-old Mori apologized and suggested he could resign.
“I had no intention to disrespect women,” Mainichi reported him saying. “I believe I must carry out my responsibility, but if calls for my resignation grow, I may have to resign.”
He added: “It was careless of me, and I would like to apologize.”
WATCH | Understanding the Tokyo Olympics’ pandemic ‘playbook’:
With less than six months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, organizers have said the Games will go on no matter what. Now, they’ve released some preliminary guidelines explaining how that will happen. 1:37
On Tuesday in a online meeting, Asahi reported him saying: “Women are very competitive. When one of them raises her hand, they probably think they have to say something, too. And then everyone says something.”
His comment came when he was asked about the presence of few women on the board of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
“If we are going to have more women directors, someone has remarked, then meetings go on for a long time unless we restrict the comments. I’m not saying who that is.”
The Tokyo Olympics he leads are already swamped with problems.
About 80 per cent of Japanese in polls says the games should be postponed or cancelled in the midst of a pandemic. They also have spoken out on rising costs that may total more than $ 25 billion US to put on these Olympics.
Pope Francis changed church law Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during mass while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests.
Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: Women can be installed as lectors, to read Scripture and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved for men, even though exceptions were made.
Francis said he was making the change to increase recognition of the “precious contribution” women make in the church, while emphasizing that all baptized Catholics have a role to play in the church’s mission.
But he also noted that doing so further makes a distinction between “ordained” ministries, such as the priesthood and diaconate, and ministries open to qualified laity. The Vatican reserves the priesthood for men.
The change comes as Francis remains under pressure to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men even though historians say the ministry was performed by women in the early church.
Experts to study whether women could be deacons
Francis has created a second commission of experts to study whether women could be deacons, after a first one failed to reach a consensus.
Advocates for expanding the diaconate to include women say doing so would give women greater say in the ministry and governance of the church, while also helping address priest shortages in several parts of the world.
Opponents say allowing it would become a slippery slope toward ordaining women to the priesthood.
Phyllis Zagano, who was a member of the Pope’s first study commission, called the changes important given they represent the first time the Vatican has explicitly and through canon law allowed women access to the altar. She said it was a necessary first step to let women be lectors and perform other ministries on the altar before any official consideration of the diaconate for women.
“This is the first movement to allow women inside the sanctuary,” said Zagano. “That’s a very big deal.”
Noting that bishops have long called for such a move, she said it opens the door to further progress. “You can’t be ordained as deacons unless you’re installed as lectors or acolytes,” said Zagano, a professor of religion at Hofstra University.
Lucetta Scaraffia, the former editor of the Vatican’s women’s magazine, however, called the new changes a “double trap.” She said they merely formalize what is current practice, including at papal masses, while also making clear that the diaconate is an “ordained” ministry reserved for men.
“This closes the door on the diaconate for women,” she said in a phone interview, calling the change “a step backward” for women.
Canada will take part in the SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer tournament next month alongside the host U.S., Brazil and Japan.
The Feb. 18-24 event at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium will mark the Canadian women’s team’s first action since March 10, 2020 when it wrapped up play at a tournament in France with a 2-2 tie with Brazil.
A Canadian camp scheduled for England in October was called off on the advice of medical experts due to the pandemic.
It will also mark Canada’s first participation at the SheBelieves Cup, which started in 2016, and the debut of Bev Priestman as coach.
“I’m excited to get the team together for the first time to kick off an important 2021 season, as we build towards the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer,” Priestman said in a statement.
“The SheBelieves Cup gives us the opportunity to face some of the top football teams in the world in a tournament setting. It will be a great opportunity to get ourselves ready for the Tokyo Olympic Games, facing different styles of play and tight turnarounds.”
Priestman took over in November
Priestman took over in November from Kenneth Heiner-Moller, who stepped down to take a coaching job in his native Denmark. Priestman spent five years as a coach with Canada Soccer prior to returning to England in June 2018 as assistant coach of the English women’s team.
Canada, tied with Brazil at No. 8 in the FIFA world rankings, is scheduled to open against the top-ranked U.S. on Feb. 18 before facing No. 10 Japan on Feb. 21 and Brazil on Feb. 24.
All four competing teams have qualified for the Tokyo Games with Canada finishing runner-up to the Americans at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship last February.
And all four made the knockout phase of the 2019 World Cup in France. The U.S. won the tournament while Canada, Brazil and Japan were eliminated in the round of 16.
The defending champion Americans have won the SheBelieves Cup three times. France won in 2017 and England in 2019.
Spain, England and Japan also took part in the 2020 event.
The tournament is scheduled during a FIFA international window.
Canada led by Christine Sinclair
Canada will once again be led by star Christine Sinclair.
Much has happened in the world since Sinclair made soccer history in January en route to helping the Canadian women book their ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. The longtime Canada captain added to her remarkable resume by surpassing retired American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals, at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Edinburg, Texas.
WATCH | Sinclair’s record-breaking goal:
Canadian Christine Sinclair scores the 185th goal of her career, passing American Abby Wambach on the all-time goals list. 1:10
Sinclair’s record-breaking year also earned the Canadian soccer icon the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of the year for 2020.
The 37-year-old Sinclair also won the award in 2012 after leading Canada to a memorable bronze medal at the London Olympics. She is the only soccer player to have won the Rosenfeld Award.
There was no celebration when Becky Hammon took over as San Antonio Spurs head coach on Wednesday night.
When Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter, he simply pointed at Hammon and said “You got ’em.”
Social media, however, erupted.
Golden State guard Steph Curry tweeted: “Big Time.”
Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies wrote: “Salute Becky Hammon.”
Tennis superstar and breaker of glass ceilings Billie Jean King posted: “See it. Be it.”
Hammon became not only the first female head coach in an NBA game, but also the first female head coach in the history of four biggest North American pro leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB).
The 43-year-old’s night capped a year unlike few others for women’s sports, with some breathtaking highs. There’ve been some notable hirings, including Kim Ng as GM of the Miami Marlins and Bev Priestman, head coach of Canada’s women’s soccer team.
Viewership for the National Women’s Soccer League, which was the first North American pro league to return after the pandemic began, grew by a whopping 498 per cent, while the WNBA saw a 68 per-cent increase while battling the other major sports, including the NBA.
WATCH | What were the biggest women’s sport stories of 2020?:
CBC Sports teamed up with The GIST to review what was a huge year for women’s sports. Here’s the stories and headlines that made our list, from the NWSL leading the way and setting the bubble standard to the WNBA leading the way in the fight against racial injustice. 11:15
Hammon said she would have preferred a win Tuesday night — the Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. But what she called “a substantial moment” wasn’t lost on the six-time WNBA all-star, who’s been a Spurs assistant since 2014.
“I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming,” she told reporters after the game.
Lakes star LeBron James was among the players who applauded the historic moment.
“It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets. She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league,” James said.
Spurs guard Dejounte Murray said Hammon was “setting an example for every woman out there.”
COVID-19 ‘was potentially devastating for women’s sports’
But the year saw minuses as well. Already facing an uphill battle for equal opportunities in sport, COVID-19 halted major momentum, including women preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, a stage on which Canadian women traditionally shine.
“The disruption of COVID was potentially devastating for women’s sports, because they went into the pandemic at such a big disadvantage, less visibility, less investment, less power at decision-making tables, and ultimately just facing so many hurdles to be seen and to be valued and respected,” said Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, the CEO of Canadian Women & Sport. “And so COVID has had and still has the potential to really set women’s sport back.”
Sport participation numbers for girls, Sandmeyer-Graves pointed out, are bleak, and she fears the pandemic has only widened the gap.
The Rally Report, released in June, found that participation levels for Canadian girls are much lower than boys, with a dramatic dropout rate of one in three girls leaving sport late in adolescence — a number that has barely budged since a similar report in 2016.
By comparison, the number for boys in the same age group is only one in 10.
Despite the high-profile hirings, women-in-coaching numbers also remain grim.
Amy Stuart is one of four female head coaches — out of 600 teams — in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, the world’s largest youth competitive hockey league.
WNBA played major role in 2020
“I encountered one (other woman) in a training session. And another one found me over email,” said Stuart, a mom of three boys — she coaches her 11-year-old son Joey. “But I’ve never encountered one like out in the wild. I’ve never coached against, or seen another woman on the bench.
“It is kind of shocking, we’re 50 per cent of the population, and many of whom are athletes or hockey players, coaches with lots of great experience.”
She estimated that at least 80 per cent of games, unless the officials know her, they’ll speak to her male assistant before games, thinking he’s the head coach.
One positive is that Stuart has noticed significantly more conversation around getting women involved in the GTHL, and credited executive director Scott Oakman for reaching out to her several times.
On the business side, the WNBA’s orange hoodie was a beacon of hope, named the Sports Business Journal’s fashion statement of the year.
The WNBA also impacted the U.S. election. After Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler criticized players for their support of Black Lives Matter, they threw their support behind Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat running against Loeffler for a U.S. Senate seat
“We’ve had so many great on and off the field of play accomplishments in sport,” said Cheri Bradish, founder of the Ryerson University’s Future of Sport Lab, and director of sport business initiatives for the Ted Rogers School of Management.
“I still believe . . . there is still very much work to be done in building the business and economic case for women.”
Among some “really great” business moves, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) received a sponsorship of $ 1 million recently by the deodorant company Secret, and Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse signed with Jordan Brand late in 2019.
“I tend to err on all of this is great if we see the money starts to follow,” Bradish said.
2021 holds plenty of promise, including the Olympic and Paralympics in Tokyo, plus the much-awaited return of Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, among others.
Sandmeyer-Graves hopes the momentum of 2020 will continue to build.
“There’s some great storytelling ahead of us in the Olympics and Paralympics,” Sandmeyer-Graves said. “And I think that’s what we need more of, frankly.
“I do have some optimism in the sense that all the major pro leagues were up and running at the same time, and women were getting record ratings. I would really love to believe, and I do believe, that there is some capacity being built there. There’s an audience that was built over this year that I think we will still see into next year as well.”
Four pregnant women were among 20 migrants whose bodies were found off Tunisia’s coast after their smuggling boat sank, Tunisian authorities said Friday, as search efforts continued for 13 others believed missing.
Nineteen of the 20 migrants who died in Thursday’s sinking were women, according to Mourad Torki, the court spokesperson for the Sfax region in central Tunisia.
The boat, overloaded and in poor condition, was carrying 37 people — three Tunisians and others from sub-Saharan Africa, Torki said.
Coast guard officials and local fishermen retrieved the bodies and brought them to shore and transferred them in white body bags to a nearby hospital where autopsies were carried out.
Four migrants were rescued, Torki said: one remained under medical supervision Friday, and another fled the hospital.
Coast guard boats and navy divers were searching for the 13 missing but found no new bodies or survivors on Friday, amid strong winds and high waves in the area.
Tunisian authorities said they have intercepted several migrant smuggling boats recently but that the number of attempts has been growing, notably between the Sfax region and the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Migrant smuggling boats frequently leave from the coast of Tunisia and neighbouring Libya carrying people from across Africa, including a growing number of Tunisians fleeing prolonged economic difficulties in their country.