Entertainment

Rosario Dawson And Her Parents Are Being Sued Over Alleged Transphobic Assault Of A Family Friend

It’s a sad reality of the world we live in that trans men and women are put in danger every day just by existing as their true selves. Besides the disproportional amounts of violence they face, many are murdered purely for being trans. In 2018 alone, advocates tracked at least 28 reported deaths of trans people due to violence. Black trans women especially are victims of this brutality but any trans person is statistically more likely to be a target of harassment than cis-gendered people. 

Anew lawsuit being brought against actress Rosario Dawson and her family alleges this sort of severity against a trans person.

Twitter / @outmagazine

Dedrek Finey is a trans man who claims to have known Dawson’s family for decades. According to Finey, he was convinced back in 2017 by Dawson’s family to move to Los Angeles from New York in order to do renovations on their family’s house. At the time, he had yet to transition but opened up about being trans after the move.

Finey has filed a lawsuit against Rosario and her family claiming that the “Sin City” star repeatedly harassed him and helped to assault him. He’s suing on the grounds of assault, battery, trespass, discrimination, civil rights, and labor violation. According to the claimant, Dawson herself constantly misgendered him; referring to him with the wrong pronouns, even after being corrected. Allegedly, when Finey complained to Dawson about the misgendering, the actress replied, “Whatever. You’re a grown woman.” The actress also supposedly deadnamed Finey ⁠— meaning she called him by the name he used pre-transition.

According to the lawsuit, the hostility escalated from there into full-blown violence. 

Twitter / @NBCOUT

Finey says he was living in a separate house upon Dawson’s property in 2018. In April of that year, he reports that his work hours were reduced and he was told he had to move out of the home. One day, Dawson’s mother, Isabel Celeste, allegedly knocked on his door. The visit reportedly turned violent when Celeste ripped the screen door and pulled him through it in order to punch Finey.

The lawsuit reports that Celeste stated, “You’re not so much of a man now,” while assaulting the claimant. At this point in the assault, Finey claims Dawson participated. According to the man, instead of helping, the actress walked up and pinned him to the ground so her mother could continue to punch him.

The lawsuit also claims that Finey had a video recording of Celeste threatening him but she took his phone during the assault. 

Twitter / @WayneDupreeShow

He also planned on calling the police for assistance but was allegedly assaulted before he was able to make the call. The lawsuit states that Finey was able to escape into the house and call 911. Police arrived on the scene and he had to be taken to the hospital for treatment following the assault. According to Finey, he got a restraining order against Celeste. He continued to live in the house until September of 2018 when the family supposedly shut off the home’s utilities. 

While neither Dawson nor her boyfriend, Senator Corey Booker, have responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit, Twitter had plenty to say about the alleged attack. 

Twitter / @pankarazorel

This Twitter user reacted with frustration upon learning of the trans-phobic report. “Can I NEVER have peace,” the tweet rhetorically asked. For members and supporters of the LGBTQ community, news like this is always hard to stomach. The community receives more than it’s fair share of hostility from non-famous people so hearing that a favorite celebrity allegedly acted trans-phobic is especially upsetting.

This tweet pointed out the hypocrisy surrounding one presidential candidate’s significant other and not another’s. 

Twitter / @Sker4Lyfe

In this tweet, Twitter user @Sker4Lyfe brought up an incident from earlier this year somewhat involving Kamala Harris and her husband. In October, a report about sexual assault came out of DLA Piper, a law firm that Harris’ husband is a partner at. Though the report didn’t involve her husband, Harris was asked about accusations as if she had involvement with it. Since this is the case then why, the tweet asks, hasn’t anyone in the media asked Booker about these accusations that Dawson is being directly accused of?

This tweet pointed out that even liberal people and people who are members of the LGBTQ community can be trans-phobic.

As this person suggests, those who support queer rights might not necessarily support trans people. They might not even see things like misgendering and deadnaming as an act of aggression towards trans people. Whether they are liberal or claim a queer identity themselves, people can still be hostile, violent and harmful to members of the trans community. Obviously, the statistics show that there is no storage of violence against trans men and women and we as allies and LGBTQ members must call it out when it shows itself. 

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

Things That Matter

Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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How These Tech Start-Ups Are Fighting Gender-Based Violence In The U.S. & Latin America

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How These Tech Start-Ups Are Fighting Gender-Based Violence In The U.S. & Latin America

Gender-based violence is a global problem, and, in many ways, new media and technology have provided new paths for perpetrators. From social media to GPS tracking, abusers have used technology to monitor, harass, threaten, intimidate and stalk victims, and this online violence against women and girls is rising around the world. But efforts are also being made to use emerging technological tools to respond to the pandemic of gender-based violence, most commonly by providing information and services to survivors.

In the U.S., Latin America and beyond, innovators have been working with trained professionals, like social workers, psychologists and legal experts, to design mobile applications and products to help women and girls escape abusive relationships, notify loved ones if they feel unsafe and help them reclaim their lives after violence.

Below, find some tech startups operating in the U.S. and Latin America that aim to reduce violence against women and help survivors lead safe and healthy lives.

1. LadyDriver

According to the United Nations, a woman is abused in Brazil every 15 seconds, making it one of the most dangerous countries for women and girls in the world. In 2016, Gabriela Corrêa was harassed by a driver while using a taxi-hailing app in São Paulo. Upon dropping the young woman off at her destination, the driver told her, “I will wait for you outside, because you will be drunk later and I will take advantage of you.” Terrified by the experience, and the stories of other women who had encountered intimidation and violence while using public transportation, Corrêa was inspired to create LadyDriver, a Brazilian car-hailing app that only accepts women passengers and hires women drivers. With tens of thousands of drivers and hundreds of thousands of downloads in São Paulo, the app has been welcomed among women in the city. It has also inspired another similar all-women service in Brazil, FemiTaxi.

Across Latin America, similar women-only taxi services exist, including LauDrive in Mexico, She Taxi in Argentina and She Drives Us in Chile. In the U.S, ride-hailing apps like SheRides (available in New York) and Safr (operating in Orlando) are also popping up, and they’re centering vulnerable populations. For example, while Safr has temporarily stopped providing rides and deliveries amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still offering its services to battered and abused women through partner institutions.

2. Háblame de Respeto

In El Salvador, femicide, the murder of a woman because of her gender, occurs about once every 24 hours. In 2017, a national study found that 67% of women have suffered some form of violence, like sexual assault or family abuse, in her lifetime. Violence is so prevalent that the Central American country is the only nation in the world to have a law against “femicide suicide,” the crime of driving a woman to suicide because of abuse. With up-to-date government data around the problem of gender-based violence in El Salvador hard to come by, a group of journalists looking for responsible management of this information took the matter into their own hands in 2014 when they created Háblame de Respeto. Using data journalism and storytelling, the group of reporters, under the Latitudes Foundation, created a portal and platform to study violence against women in El Salvador and make the information accessible to everyday people in the country.

3. FreeFrom

Intimate partner violence is a public health crisis in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people are physically abused by a partner every minute. Data shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. One of the biggest reasons women stay in abusive relationships is because of financial dependence. In fact, when survivors leave their violent partner, they often have little to no cash, credit cards or bank accounts in their name. Learning about this financial abuse and instability, Sonya Passi created FreeForm, a startup that financially empowers survivors by helping them get compensation for their most pressing needs, like medical bills and property costs, and teaching them money and entrepreneurial tools to obtain financial independence.

4. No Estoy Sola

Ciudad Juárez, a city in northern Mexico, has long been called “the capital of murdered women.” From 1993 to 2005, more than 370 women were killed in the border town. An app called No Estoy Sola is hoping to protect the vulnerable population. The application, which acts as a panic button, can be downloaded on mobile devices. Whenever someone feels unsafe, they can shake their phones or click on a button that will alert their emergency contacts, which they set up ahead of time, with a message saying they are in danger along with their location. The same message is sent out to the contact every five to 10 minutes until the user deactivates it.

5. Não Me Calo

Back in Brazil, another app, Não Me Calo (I Will Not Shut Up), is encouraging women and girls to use their voices in order to keep others safe. The mobile app, which was created by Brazilian girls and won the Global Fund for Women’s International Girls Hackathon, ranks how safe users feel in certain establishments. Its primary goal is to warn women to avoid certain clubs, restaurants or businesses where they experienced harassment, intimidation or violence. However, the founders also hope that a bad ranking on the Yelp-like app can motivate business owners to take steps to alleviate the problem.

6. Revolver 

Like the No Estoy Sola mobile app in Ciudad Juárez, Revolver is essentially a panic button. However, this U.S.-founded gadget doesn’t require a cellphone. An oval-shaped clicker, Revolar can attach to a set of keys or can clip onto jeans or undergarments. The two-setting device sends out an alert to designated contacts when the user feels unsafe. A yellow alert, for instance, will send a message to their contacts with their location and a note expressing concern. A red alert, however, will indicate that the user needs serious and immediate help. The app was created by Colombian-American Andrea Perdomo, whose grandmother was kidnapped in the South American country, and Jacqueline Ros, whose sister was assaulted twice.

7. Paladin

While Paladin wasn’t created to serve survivors of gender-based violence, the startup is helping women in major ways. A justice tech company, Paladin is a portal that brings together legal teams looking to run more efficient pro bono programs with hotlines and organizations that help vulnerable communities gain legal representation and support. According to co-founder and COO Kristen Sonday, who’s part-Puerto Rican, the portal has been particularly helpful to communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for domestic violence survivors who were forced to isolate with abusers.

8. Mediconfia

Like Paladin, Mediconfia wasn’t created with the objective of helping survivors of gender-based violence; however, the digital platform, which connects individuals in Colombian cities like Cali, Medellín and Bogotá with gynecologists and allows them to rate their experience, has proven beneficial to women who have experienced sexual abuse or intimate partner violence and need a trustworthy health professional to confide in. 

9. Vantage Point

While Vantage Point doesn’t directly help survivors, it does provide a solution to workplace harassment. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of women have been sexually harassed in a professional setting. However, about 72% of survivors never report the harassment. Vantage Point is a sexual harassment training solution for corporations that uses virtual reality to educate employees on the identification of sexual harassment, bystander intervention and response training. For example, using photo-realistic characters, it immerses trainees in experiences where their personal space is being invaded or they are talked to or gazed at aggressively. The startup, founded by Morgan Mercer, a biracial woman of color who experienced and witnessed racial microaggressions, also uses emerging technology to communicate the nuances of diversity, equity and inclusion.

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