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Salma-Hayek-and-Francois-Henri-Pinault-pose
Women honoured at Cannes, as gender parity drive draws scrutiny
20 May 2019, 12:43 PM

Movie stars including Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria celebrated the role of women in cinema at a glitzy gala in Cannes on Sunday, amid a drive to promote gender equality in the industry that is still falling short of what many campaigners hoped for.

Cannes’ film festival, the world’s most important cinema showcase, last year signed a pledge to get an equal number of men and women in its top management by 2020 that is gradually gathering momentum at similar European and US events.

Actors and filmmakers participating in this year’s edition have joined activists in warning that while industry attitudes were changing, progress was still slow.

“We have so much work to do and I just think we can’t let up,” Longoria told journalists at the Women in Motion dinner at Cannes, part of a program set up by luxury group Kering to push for gender equality in cinema.

“Whenever we see something improving we can’t just say ‘Oh OK let’s relax, the momentum’s going to go that way’. It won’t continue to go that way; we have to continue to change the industry for ourselves.”

Chinese actress Gong Li, the star of “Farewell My Concubine”, was awarded a prize for her career at the event.

At Cannes, four women are contending for this year’s top Palme D’Or film prize, including Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop and France’s Celine Sciamma, out of 21 entries – or just under 20% of the total.

Elsewhere, the proportion has sometimes been higher, with over 40% of the films competing at Berlin’s festival in February made by women.

“We hear a lot about how times are changing and improving, and it’s true. The idea is to support that trend. (But) the figures still don’t look good,” said Delphyne Besse, a film sales specialist and one of the founders of 50/50 by 2020, the collective behind the gender parity pledge signed by Cannes.

Of the 47 film festivals that have so far backed the drive globally, 38% have female heads, according to the lobby group’s figures.

SHORT SHRIFT

Industry insiders said the slow progress was reflected in everything from the short shrift female directors still got in the media to their under-representation at industry events.

“Women have been making films for 11 decades now,” British actress and star of zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die” Tilda Swinton told a news conference earlier this week.

“There are countless films by women. The question is why don’t we know about them,” she said, adding that even obituaries for female filmmakers tended to be dwarfed by those dedicated to men. Cannes’ organizers have said they were not planning to introduce quotas dictating the gender balance of the films selected to compete at the festival.

“Cannes is only at the end of the chain. This needs to start with encouragement at film schools,” festival director Thierry Fremaux said last week.

The cinema showcase is looking to include more women its board, however, and the festival jury this year was more balanced.

“Atlantics” director Diop said festivals were still a logical starting point to highlight women’s work in the industry.

“It starts with the films, there is no festival without films, so it is an extraordinary exhibition that will give the films much bigger exposure,” she told Reuters in an interview.

Alabama Abortion law
Thousands protest strict Alabama abortion law
20 May 2019, 12:28 PM

Thousands took to the streets in the southern US state of Alabama on Sunday to rally against the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions in decades.

Around 500 women’s reproductive rights defenders gathered in state capital Montgomery, while in the cities of Birmingham, Anniston, Huntsville and Mobile around 3 000 more joined in denouncing the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” local media reported.

The act, known as HB314, virtually outlaws terminations of pregnancy.

Protesters in Montgomery held up signs reading “her body, her choice” and “we are not ovary-acting.”

A woman wearing beige underwear that made her look naked had a drawing of her reproductive system attached to her abdomen and a banner reading: “More than an incubator.”

Several other women were dressed as characters forced to bear children in the dystopian novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

One of them, who gave her name only as Amanda, accused Alabama’s legislators of “trying to imprison women and doctors.”

“Wearing the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ outfit is sending a message that you’re trying to turn us into slaves, reproductive slaves,” the 40-year-old-lawyer told AFP.

“They’re trying to fill prisons, more private prisons so that women will do hard labor after they get convicted of these ‘crimes’ of abortion.”

Last week, Alabama passed a law that prohibits all abortions – even in cases of incest and rape -unless there is a risk of death for the mother.

“Our call center’s been getting hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from concerned citizens asking us what this means,” said Barbara Ann Luttrell, director of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Planned Parenthood is not currently providing abortion services in Alabama. “We’ll be having abortion services up and running again as soon as possible,” she said.

There are only three clinics that perform the procedure. None of them responded requests of comments.

The Alabama law is likely to be blocked in state courts before its November launch date but Republican Governor Kay Ivey acknowledged when she signed it that it was part of as a wider Republican offensive to get the issue relitigated on the national stage.

“We’re going to return to the back alleys. We’re going to return to where women will do abortions to themselves,” 81-year-old Maralyn Mosley told the Montgomery Advertiser.

She had an abortion at 13 after her uncle raped her.

“We will return to the coat hangers and perforated uteruses. We will return to where women will bleed to death,” she warned.

Conservative activists hope to get a Supreme Court decision against the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v Wade that said unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.

Conservatives are counting on support at the highest court in the land, where liberal justices are in a minority after the arrival of two conservative members appointed by President Donald Trump.

Trump appeared to suggest Alabama lawmakers had gone too far in a series of tweets late Saturday in which he described himself as “strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother.”

He urged the anti-abortion side to “stick together and Win for Life” when it comes to voting in 2020.

While the Alabama measure is seen as particularly draconian, at least 28 US states have introduced more than 300 texts since the start of the year limiting abortion rights, according to activists.

Kentucky and Mississippi have banned abortions as soon as a fetus’s heartbeat is detectable, or around the sixth week of pregnancy. Similar measures are being adopted in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and Tennessee.

A judge has blocked the implementation of the Kentucky law, while the Mississippi law is set to come into effect in July.

The country’s largest human rights organization, ACLU, has said it will file suit against Alabama’s law as unconstitutional.

HB314 seeks jail terms of between 10 and 99 years for doctors performing terminations, which are counted as homicides. It stipulates no penalty for the mother.

Around two-thirds of Americans say abortion should be legal, a Pew Center poll found last year.

Royal Eagles.
Royal Eagles assistant coach admits to a difficult game
20 May 2019, 10:59 AM

Royal Eagles assistant coach Bafana Nhlapo has admitted that they had a difficult game against Maritzburg United on Sunday.

Eagle’s hopes of winning the Absa Premiership promotional play-off were derailed by a one-nil defeat to United in a game played at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

Royal Eagles were very confident before the game after claiming three points against Tshakhuma.

Nhlapo has expressed his displeasure about referee Victor Gomez.“There’s a lot, especially first half the referee was giving them everything.”

Meanwhile, Maritzburg United will now need to win their next two Absa Premiership promotional play-off games to save their status in the Premier Soccer League.

On Sunday, the team of choice took a giant step in returning their status for next season by beating Royal Eagles.

Maritzburg United will now play their second game against Tshakhuma in Limpopo.

United head coach Eric Tinkler says they need to treat every game as cup competition.

“We are going to treat them like a cup. Let’s threat this game as the quarter-final.”

Tinkler says their next game against Tshakhuma is a must-win. The former Orlando Pirates coach says they are targeting nine points to win these promotional play-offs.

The team of choice’s mentor says Tshakhuma is a good team.

“I don’t think they are a bad side. I thought they deserved something on that game.”

Edypt bus blast.
Call centre opened to assist the families of South Africans in Egypt
20 May 2019, 6:52 AM

A 24-hour call centre has been opened to assist the families of South Africans in Egypt, following a bus explosion which took place near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids.

At least 20 of the 25 South Africans who were on the bus are expected back in the country on Monday morning.

The Department of International Relations says three people are still in hospital. But the rest of the group decided to leave Egypt immediately. DIRCO’s Consular services is assisting the victims

The public can contact 012 351 1000 if they’d like to verify the whereabouts of their loved ones.

International Relations spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya says, “The Minister has directed the ambassador to gather all the information to engage with the authorities, but also to visit hospitals so that we can verify the number so that we can communicate with the families. At this stage, we are in the process where we are gathering the information, we are engaging with the families, and making sure that we have got everything that we need before we can confirm how many people are injured. That’s where we are.”

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Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng’s school online registration opens on Monday
20 May 2019, 6:24 AM

The Gauteng 2020 school online registration process starts at 8am on Monday morning.

The halted online applications will proceed after legal disputes caused a week’s postponement.

Applications for learners in grades one and eight were abruptly stopped last week Sunday following complaints from some organisations about the new feeder zones and language regulations in the province.

They included the Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa which on Thursday said it was giving the go-ahead for applications to start.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi told the media in Johannesburg on Sunday that struggling parents will be assisted.

“We’ll provide access tomorrow (Monday) that is why we are sending all our officials to all our schools. You’ll see community libraries and what you call these places, internet cafes. You must just go and see what is happening. Those internet cafes are flooded. All community libraries are providing this service free of charge, so where people do not have access, go to a community library or community centres, people will assist you.”

Lesufi says the registration process for the 2020 online applications will be rolled out over three phases.

“We are opening tomorrow (Monday) at eight until the 22nd of July at midnight – not at eight – at midnight. Immediately after that, on the 31st of August 2019, every parent that applied on time will have a happy SMS coming to their phones to say your child is placed in this school. And then the last phase then, that’s when the schools will then place your child after you’ve accepted because when we send that happy SMS, you must accept within 7 working days and give us all the documents.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools has welcomed the changes made to the online registration process for Gauteng schools.

The Federations CEO Paul Colditz says parents should log onto the website before admissions open to view the instruction video on how to correctly apply for admission.

Colditz says parents get to choose five schools from a list of schools within a 30-kilometre radius of their home.

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