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Vox Sentences: Switzerland’s women are on strike

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New York eliminates religious exemptions to vaccination requirements; thousands of Swiss women protest for gender equality.

No more religious exemptions from vaccines

George Frey/Getty Images
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Thursday that eliminates religious exemptions to vaccination requirements, which he hopes will help combat the current measles outbreak. [WSJ / Tyler Blint-Welsh]
  • Until yesterday, parents were allowed to cite their religious beliefs when forgoing mandatory vaccines for school enrollment. More than 26,000 kids in New York were excused from vaccination requirements for religious reasons last year. [NYT / Jesse McKinley]
  • The law takes effect immediately: Unvaccinated students will have 30 days to prove to schools that they have received their first round of required vaccines. [NPR / Bobby Allyn]
  • This isn’t the first time the state has tried to enforce vaccinations: In April, when Cuomo declared the measles outbreak a public health emergency, New York City officials said that parents of unvaccinated children could be fined up to $1,000. [ABC News / Mark Osborne]
  • The bill comes as the US is experiencing one of its worse measles outbreaks in decades. There have been 1,000 cases in 28 states so far in 2019, and New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities have been hit particularly hard by the disease. [Huffington Post / Lydia O’Connor and Nina Golgowski]
  • The debate over eliminating the religious exemption has been bitter and personal: Shouts of “shame” echoed in the Assembly gallery when lawmakers passed the bill. [BuzzFeed News / Claudia Koerner]
  • Opponents of the bill say it’s an attack on First Amendment rights. Cuomo, however, said the bill is a necessary measure needed to combat a deadly outbreak. [AP / David Klepper]

Swiss women march for gender equality

  • Thousands of Swiss women clad in purple, the color of gender equality, took to the streets today to protest the slow pace to equality. [AP / Jamey Keaten]
  • Women abandoned their work and household duties to “block the country with a feminist strike.” They are demanding zero tolerance for violence, more respect, and equal pay, including the introduction of a minimum national salary. [AFP]
  • 28 years ago, half a million women held a similar march for equality. At the time, there were no women in the Swiss government and no statutory maternity leave. [BBC]
  • There have been some improvements since 1991: The movement led to the passage of the Gender Equality Act in 1995, which banned discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. [UPI / Nicholas Sakelaris]
  • Although Switzerland is now ranked first in the United Nations Development Program’s gender equality index, activists say they are far from achieving a fair environment. Women still earn 19.6 percent less than men and are underrepresented in management positions. [CNN / Kara Fox]
  • The protest has broader implications: By raising the profile of women’s issues before the October federal elections, it could lead to an increased number of women elected to Parliament. [NYT / Anna Schaverien and Nick Cumming-Bruce]


  • A conceptual design for the planned (and now delayed) Harriet Tubman $20 bill was unveiled to the public. In it, Tubman is pictured in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf. [NYT / Alan Rappeport]
  • A court ruled that inmates can possess marijuana. The one catch? They can’t smoke it. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • Greenland lost 2 billion tons of ice yesterday. The sudden spike “is unusual, but not unprecedented,” but experts are worried about the ice melting at rapid levels so early in the summer. [CNN / Brandon Miller]
  • Have you been seeing blue profiles on social media? It’s part of a larger social media movement to raise awareness around the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Sudan. [BBC]
  • Child Protective Services caseworkers are overworked and underpaid, making their already difficult job even harder to accomplish. This could be affecting the quality of their work and the safety of children. [CBS News]


“We must fight for equal pay, fair distribution of care work, abortion rights, zero tolerance for domestic violence, and more. And most importantly: We must smash the patriarchy!” [Swiss protester Rahel Lüthy on why she’s marching]

Listen to this: Hong Kong in the streets

Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting in Hong Kong. CNN’s Matt Rivers is on the scene, and the BBC’s Helier Cheung explains how British colonialism complicated everything. [Spotify | Apple Podcasts]

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