Her knees ‘broken beyond repair,’ Vonn retiring after worlds
By PAT GRAHAM and ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writers
Saturday, February 2
Lindsey Vonn transcended her sport in a way only a handful of Olympic athletes could even imagine. She was about more than skiing. She was about more than medals. She was about more than winning.
She was often in the spotlight, appearing in the pages of mainstream and sports magazines, walking the red carpets, mingling with A-list celebrities and dating high-profile sports figures.
The record-setting racer who grew up in Minnesota, then relocated to Colorado, became a household name in mountain towns and big cities — to people who knew a lot about racing and those who only tuned in every four years.
But now, conceding her body is “broken beyond repair,” Vonn is nearing the finish line for the final time. The woman who won more World Cup races than any other female is calling it quits at 34. On Friday, she said she’ll retire after the world championships this month.
“She’s accomplished so many things and has overcome so much adversity in her life, with her injuries, and comebacks, and setbacks and comebacks,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard CEO Tiger Shaw said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Very few people can focus and train as hard as she does. We’re all in awe of what she’s accomplished in her career.”
Vonn’s original plan was to step away in December, after one final charge down the course in Lake Louise, Alberta — a course she won on so often it’s now named in her honor.
She was forced to move up her retirement due to persistent pain in both knees, which she fully realized after failing to finish a race in Cortina d’Ampezzo , Italy, last month.
Now, she’s down to two races: The women’s super-G on Tuesday in the Swedish resort of Are, and the downhill scheduled for Feb. 10.
That’s it. That’s all her knees have left.
“My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of,” Vonn wrote on Instagram . “My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.
“It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life,” she wrote, “but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing.”
Vonn’s impressive resume: three Olympic medals, including downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Four overall World Cup titles. And 82 World Cup wins, leaving her four behind the all-time mark held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden.
Her off-the-slopes portfolio includes: Appearing in the pages of everything from Vogue to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, earning sponsorship deals with companies such as Red Bull, meeting actors like Dwayne Johnson and even being an extra on one of her favorite shows, “Law & Order.” The spotlight only increased when she dated golfer Tiger Woods. She’s now seeing Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban .
She’s big on social media, with 1.6 million Instagram followers.
A recent post from Vonn was cryptic in nature and yet all-too-insightful as she quoted the French philosopher Voltaire: “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”
Translation: She simply had no more cards to play. Her aching knees and beat-up body finally applied the brakes to her hard-charging ways.
Vonn’s right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes. She has torn ACLs, suffered fractures near her left knee, broke her ankle, sliced her right thumb and had several concussions — to name a few. She’s limited to about three runs per day, and her body just can’t handle the workload of other skiers.
“Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever,” Vonn said. “However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!”
Her first World Cup start was Nov. 18, 2000, in a slalom race in Park City, Utah, and she didn’t qualify for the second run. She was Lindsey Kildow then, before changing her name to Vonn after marrying her now ex-husband and ex-coach, Thomas.
Her first World Cup win came four years later, in a downhill event at Lake Louise.
Retiring in Sweden brings Vonn full circle. She won her first two major championship medals — two silvers — at the 2007 worlds in Are.
As for how she will be remembered , that’s simple for U.S. coach Paul Kristofic: Her comebacks.
“That never-give-up attitude is something that everyone can take away from,” Kristofic said. “She has created that character and lived it. Those are life lessons that everybody can take. Give it your all and never give up. That’s a very strong legacy.”
Associated Press writer Eric Willemsen in Maribor, Slovenia, contributed to this report.
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#MeToo movement was not 1-year phenomenon in state capitols
By DAVID A. LIEB
Sunday, February 3
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — In the first week of 2019, an investigation by Oregon’s labor agency deemed the state Capitol to be a hostile workplace because of an unchecked pattern of sexual harassment among lawmakers.
A few days later, two Washington state lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct resigned. Then came new allegations of sexual wrongdoing in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, where a veteran male lawmaker was accused of groping a newly elected female colleague during a pre-session reception.
“We’ve heard for a long time that this is the culture in the building, and then of course we get there and it immediately surfaces,” said Massachusetts state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, a first-time lawmaker.
Barely a month into the 2019 legislative sessions, it already is clear that the #MeToo movement was not a one-year phenomenon in many state capitols. New claims of sexual misconduct are continuing to be made public concerning actions ranging from a few weeks ago to many years ago.
The latest came Friday, when Montana legislative leaders revealed that a previously unpublicized allegation of sexual harassment helped drive their current push to update policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Although half of all state legislative chambers updated their sexual harassment policies last year, an Associated Press review found that many are still looking to make changes this year.
Some states are taking their first steps since the October 2017 media reports alleging sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked a national movement of people coming forward with accounts of sexual assault or harassment. In other states, lawmakers and women’s advocates are looking to take the second or third steps in what they say is a long trek toward changing attitudes and behaviors.
Sabadosa is sponsoring legislation that would create an independent commission to investigate complaints of workplace harassment by Massachusetts lawmakers. She said a House rule change adopted last year didn’t go far enough when it created a new staff position for an equal employment opportunity officer to investigate complaints.
“It feels important for the first-year class to come in and say, ‘We are done, this is enough, that culture needs to end and we’re going to be the people to make sure that it happens,’” she said.
Across the country, at least 90 state lawmakers have resigned or been removed from office, faced discipline or other repercussions, or been publicly accused of sexual misconduct since the beginning of 2017, according to an ongoing tally by The Associated Press. Sexual misconduct allegations also have toppled high-ranking executive branch officials, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
More than a half-dozen members of the U.S. Congress accused of sexual misconduct also resigned. A new federal law that took effect in January extended sexual harassment protections to congressional interns, gave victims access to confidential advisers and made lawmakers personally liable for financial settlements stemming from harassment or retaliation.
An AP review last August found that about half of the 99 state legislative chambers had updated their own sexual harassment policies since the #MeToo movement began (Nebraska has just a single legislative chamber). The most common response was to boost their own training about sexual harassment, typically by making it mandatory or providing it more frequently. Only a few legislatures passed measures that apply to private-sector workers.
Indiana legislators passed a law last year requiring them to take at least one hour of sexual harassment training annually and creating a committee to develop new sexual harassment policies.
In January, the House and Senate followed through by adopting policies expressly forbidding unwanted sexual advances and retaliation against those who make complaints. The policies also ban any sexual contact between lawmakers and interns.
The new Indiana policies come after a year in which the state attorney general and House speaker both were named in sexual misconduct allegations, which they denied.
“We want to make sure people understand we realize the importance of these issues,” said Republican Sen. Liz Brown, an attorney who helped draft the new rules.
Brown, who is chairwoman of the Senate’s ethics committee, said the rules were “thoroughly vetted and very thoroughly researched,” protect confidentiality and provide flexibility for legislative investigators to get outside help if needed.
But Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University law professor who has written a textbook on sexual harassment law, described the new policies as disappointing. She said they use outdated definitions of sexual harassment, require a higher standard of proof than most civil cases and fail to require an outside investigation of complaints.
“What they have adopted is a late-20th century, lukewarm approach to the problem,” Drobac said. “It’s not committed, it’s not rigorous, it’s not up to date, and it does not instill confidence in my mind.”
Other states also have received both praise and criticism for their responses to sexual harassment.
The Missouri House generally was praised for working with the nonprofit Women’s Foundation to rewrite its sexual harassment policies after a House speaker resigned in May 2015 while acknowledging he had sent sexually suggestive text messages to a Capitol intern.
This past week, the House revised its policies again, allowing its ethics committee to close preliminary hearings that were previously public. Although some lawmakers objected to the potential secrecy, others said it’s intended to protect victims.
“Preliminary hearings, particularly involving sexual assault and harassment, should be not politicized,” said Democratic Rep. Gina Mitten, who supported the change.
As one of his first acts in office, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, issued an executive order that strengthened the sexual harassment reporting processes and mandated training for executive branch employees.
But that same day, the Republican-led Georgia Senate changed its rules to make it harder to bring some sexual harassment complaints. The new rules require misconduct complaints against senators and staff to be made within two years of the incident, raise the burden of proof for investigations to go forward from “reasonable grounds” to “substantial credible evidence,” require accusers to keep complaints confidential and allow penalties against those who publicize complaints or make frivolous claims.
The changes came as Republican state Sen. Renee Unterman, who was removed from a committee leadership post, publicly declared that “in the last couple of weeks, I have had sexual harassment against me.” Unterman has not provided any specific details about her allegations.
Other states have moved in the opposite direction on transparency.
The Massachusetts Senate this past week amended its rules to prohibit nondisclosure agreements, which have been used in some states to keep sexual harassment settlements secret.
In Oregon, House and Senate leaders facing a civil rights complaint over the alleged culture of harassment have pledged a variety of improved policies. One bill would establish an “equity office” to conduct outreach programs and investigate complaints. Another would allow courts to temporarily exclude an elected official from the Capitol, if a judge determines that the person’s presence creates a hostile environment.
Legislative chambers in Idaho, Louisiana and North Dakota already have enacted updated sexual harassment policies for 2019. The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly in January to make sexual harassment training mandatory, although some male lawmakers said that carried an insulting implication that all lawmakers were harassers.
The California Legislature opened an independent office to handle investigations of alleged workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment or discrimination. A panel of outside experts will be responsible for evaluating the unit’s findings and advising the Legislature on whether to take disciplinary action against accused colleagues.
The nonprofit National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., is spearheading a coalition seeking to strengthen protections against sexual harassment in workplaces, schools and communities in at least 20 states by 2020. About 300 state lawmakers from 40 states, including men and women of both major parties, have signed on to the pledge.
“The outpouring of #MeToo stories shows how profoundly inadequate our laws have been for so long,” said Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center. She added: “It’s not something that gets fixed in one session.”
Associated Press writer Tom Davies in Indianapolis and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.
Follow David A. Lieb at: http://twitter.com/DavidALieb
Sexualized violence as a weapon of war
Rape of females has been an aspect of war as long as war has existed, but only in recent years has rape in war been acknowledged as a weapon. The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution identifying rape as a war crime in 1993.
Sexual assault in the United States armed forces continues to receive media coverage. The U.S. Army Study Guide states: “Sexual assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual Assault includes: Rape; Non consensual Sodomy (oral or anal sex); Indecent Assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling); and Attempts to commit these acts.”
The Invisible War by director Kirby Dick is an investigative documentary about “one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. Today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.” www.pbs.org/.
“Many of these stories involved a culture of male soldiers attacking women in the desert by ganging up at an outhouse with other men, or by assaulting a woman when she had stepped into the field to relieve herself,” reported a 2016 article in The Guardian.
There is a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program guided by Department of Defense. Active duty sexual assault survivors have access to health and mental health care within the military system.
Courageous Nadia Murad. A story of terrorizing trauma. A story of demoralizing despair. A story of horrifying hell. A victim. A survivor. A thriver.
In 2014, Murad along with thousands of young women and girls (from the Yazidi community in Iraq) was captured and forced into sexual slavery by ISIS. Three months later, she escaped.
In 2016, Murad was named the U.N.’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
In 2018, Murad became the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. By channeling her suffering into activism, she has become a voice for the captive females.
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State is Murad’s 2017 book. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves.
Dr. Denis Mukwege fights against sex crimes. Congolese physician and recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, he stands for justice for victims of war-related rape and sexual violence. His plan is to sponsor retreats for women from 14 different countries who have survived war-related sex crimes. CBS’s 60 Minutes program, “War against Women,” aired on January 11, 2008, and interviewed Dr. Mukwege.
“Throughout history, rape has been used as a weapon of war on all continents. The problem is not limited to a certain time or region but has been employed in countries such as Bangladesh, North Korea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri-Lanka, Uganda, Vietnam and the former Yugoslavia. Sexual violence was also widespread during World War II in different parts of Europe and Asia.” www.mukwegefoundation.org.
Why Do Men Commit War Rape?
The United Nations asserts that “Rape committed during war is often intended to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities, and, in some instances, change the ethnic makeup of the next generation. Sometimes it is also used to deliberately infect women with HIV or render women from the targeted community incapable of bearing children.”
Why is sexualized violence used as a tool of war? Power and dominance over women. It is physical and psychological torture. Rape is used to instill fear, humiliate, punish and destroy.
Women Under Siege (WMC) shows how sexualized and other violence is being used to devastate women and tear apart communities around the world, conflict by conflict, from the Holocaust to Burma. www.womensmediacenter.com.
Rape is a global epidemic and laws are failing women and girls. Call on governments and policymakers to fix laws on sexual violence and to ensure justice for survivors of sexual violence.
Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world. www.equalitynow.org.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.
Opinion: Exploitation Is Not Just a Super Bowl Problem
By Natalie Gonnella-Platts
The Super Bowl garnered attention for more than sport and advertising, with anti-human trafficking advocacy making notable headlines across the last decade. Now, whether mega-sporting events like the Super Bowl and World Cup yield a sizable increase in sex trafficking remains an ongoing debate, increasingly challenged by experts and advocates alike.
Empirical evidence is lacking, further demonstrating the immense need for greater research and data analysis on the issue overall. Regardless, the outpouring of awareness and mobilization year over year is impressive.
But if you were outraged by the perceived threat of exploitation in the midst of one of the most watched events in the world, you should be outraged by exploitation period. Though the forms may look different, every day in every country people are enslaved and abused. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, especially young women and girls.
When it comes to modern-day slavery, women and girls together account for more than 70 percent of trafficked persons globally, with girls representing two out of every three child-trafficking victims. Imagine how different these numbers could be if even a fraction of the advocacy and attention human trafficking receives ahead of a football game was sustained and expanded upon globally.
As Polaris Project’s Bradley Miles pointed out ahead of Super Bowl LII in Minnesota, “All this is a one-day snapshot into what otherwise is a 365-day problem. The same traffickers that are committing trafficking … during the Super Bowl, they’re going to wake up in the morning on Monday and do the same thing.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in the United States “of the nearly 23,500 runaways reported to (the Center) in 2018, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking.” And a 2011 analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics on suspected trafficking incidents revealed that nearly 50 percent of victims identified over a two year period were 17 years of age or younger. In Sub-Saharan Africa, children accounted for 55 percent of identified victims in 2016, with forced labor being the most common form of abuse. And in Central America and the Caribbean, more than two-thirds of detected victims were girls.
While stronger coordination, legislation, justice systems and improved data collection and survivor services are very much needed, so too is prevention support for those at risk generally. Efforts to educate and build resilience and opportunity among vulnerable communities are important mechanisms for curtailing modern-day slavery and manipulation from the outset.
Traffickers notoriously play on vulnerabilities. Poverty, isolation and displacement further exacerbate the danger. In the face of inequality, lack of opportunity and desperation, young women and adolescent girls are married off as child brides, sexually exploited, or subjugated to domestic servitude. Amid ongoing conflict, youth are recruited for use as forced laborers, child soldiers and armed combatants, at times even being coerced to serve as human shields and suicide bombers.
As the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime stressed in the latest iteration of their annual report on human trafficking, “from girls forced to wed to boys made to cook and clean, militants are using trafficking as a tool to boost their control in areas where the rule of law is weak.”
Greater prioritization and investment in programs that support at risk populations, like young women and adolescent girls, can yield significant effects. For example, in the United States organizations like PCI are working to educate vulnerable youth on the signs and risks of trafficking. The organization provides services like mentoring and social-emotional learning to better equip young people with resilience and the ability to make positive life choices.
Internationally, organizations and social impact brands like NOMI Network, Beulah London, and others not only raise awareness of the widespread issue of modern-day slavery among consumers, but also work to break cycles of poverty. This includes investing in skills training, social services, and economic opportunities for survivors and those at increased risk of exploitation.
Drawing attention to human trafficking is critical, but it is a gross disservice to those affected to limit advocacy and action to a single event like the Super Bowl. From the media to public and private sector stakeholders, concerted and sustained efforts are needed now more than ever.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Natalie Gonnella-Platts is the director of the George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.