Writers

Michele Lent Hirsch

Michele Lent Hirsch

Guest Blogger

Michele Lent Hirsch draws on both science journalism and international experience to report on sexualized violence. In her previous role at Psychology Today magazine, she wrote and edited a wide range of pieces that made the latest research on behavior and the brain more accessible (and more fun). She is formerly an associate editor at WMC's Women Under Siege.

As a freelance writer before that, she worked by day at the global network of Soros foundations, where she helped social justice programs adhere to national and international regulations. A native New Yorker and graduate of Cornell University, she is also at work on a collection of essays. Find her on Twitter at @Lent_Hirsch.

Articles

No, war doesn’t have to mean rape

No, war doesn’t have to mean rape

By — July 2, 2013
Almost every day, readers write to tell us that women will always be targeted in conflict. Rape, they say, is just a natural part of war, and there’s no way to stop it. Yet research shows that this isn’t actually the case. more »

Nicaraguan women could be forced into mediation with their attackers

By — June 10, 2013
In June 2012, a Nicaraguan law aimed at protecting women from gender-based violence took effect. Called Law 779, it “stipulates that the state and its institutions have a duty to guarantee the physical, psychic, moral, sexual, patrimonial, and economic integrity of women,” Inter Press Service reports. But since last year, the law has been jeopardized by opponents, including the vice president of the country’s Supreme Court. more »
Inching forward against military sexual assault

Inching forward against military sexual assault

By — June 6, 2013
U.S. legislators voted Wednesday to help stanch the overwhelming problem of sexualized violence in the armed forces, Reuters reports. The idea is to make it easier for victims of sexualized violence to come forward while decreasing the threat of retaliation from superiors in the chain of command. more »
Report: Sexualized violence may disproportionately affect children in war

Report: Sexualized violence may disproportionately affect children in war

By — April 11, 2013
“They didn’t hit her, but they ruined her.” That’s how a young woman named Maimouna described the gang rape of her 16-year-old neighbor in Mali, according to a new report from Save the Children. The NGO has transcribed interviews with witnesses such as Maimouna and with dozens of firsthand survivors to illustrate their latest findings. more »
Now in their 80s and 90s, aging WWII sex slaves haven’t forgotten

Now in their 80s and 90s, aging WWII sex slaves haven’t forgotten

By — March 29, 2013
It’s a euphemism we still haven’t shaken. “Comfort women” refers to the women and girls—usually foreign, from countries like Korea, the Philippines, and China—forced by the Japanese military to do sex work mainly during World War II. more »
Reports surface of rape and torture in Iraq

Reports surface of rape and torture in Iraq

By — March 20, 2013
It has been 10 years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and stories of torture and sexualized violence are still coming to light. As Al-Jazeera reported Tuesday, Amnesty International’s recent publication, “Iraq: A decade of abuse,” is a horrifying, pain-filled heap of rape, sexualized torture, and other forms of sexualized violence. And the rights group is still gathering evidence. more »
New Holocaust findings highlight larger gap in conflict and rape research

New Holocaust findings highlight larger gap in conflict and rape research

By — March 5, 2013
One of the most emailed New York Times stories over the weekend was a piece about the Holocaust. In it, Eric Lichtblau explains new findings from experts at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: that the number of Nazi ghettos, camps, and other sites of systematic human misery is six times what the study authors had predicted. more »
Kenyan rape survivors sue government for inaction

Kenyan rape survivors sue government for inaction

By — February 25, 2013
Imagine if rape survivors held politicians accountable every time their government failed to protect them. In Kenya, eight survivors of sexualized violence are suing their country for its “non-action” in response to attacks following Kenya’s 2007 general elections. As we’ve written about previously, the post-election violence took place during a dispute over who had won, which developed into tribal clashes. more »
Placing blame: Report debunks misconceptions about wartime rape

Placing blame: Report debunks misconceptions about wartime rape

By — February 13, 2013
The media loves to generalize about war, and with it, wartime sexualized violence. But ignoring nuance does nobody any favors—neither the survivors themselves, nor those who are trying to stop it. more »
Video: WMC’s Women Under Siege director talks about the roots of rape on HuffPost Live

Video: WMC’s Women Under Siege director talks about the roots of rape on HuffPost Live

By — January 9, 2013
In this video hosted by HuffPost Live’s Abby Huntsman, our director, Lauren Wolfe, cites a finding that may get you riled up: that 65 percent of men surveyed in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe women should accept partner violence to “keep the family together.” More shocking is the finding she cites next: that 53 percent of girls in India think wife-beating is justified—girls who may one day be those very wives. more »

Does the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ matter?

By — November 29, 2012
You, as a reader, may not care about the behind-the-scenes debates over word choice, grammar, and punctuation that get journalists like me riled up. But readers and reporters alike are caught in an unusually public semantics discussion this week now that The Associated Press’ stylebook editors have announced that they’re dropping certain words. more »
How one (female) CIA operative would fix our wars

How one (female) CIA operative would fix our wars

By — November 25, 2012
Nada Bakos isn’t allowed to share most of what she learned in the CIA. But after nearly 10 years of working with classified intelligence, she can point squarely to one unfortunate lesson: Rape is used globally as a tool of war, and the United States tends to ignore it. more »

One man’s struggle to teach UN forces how to stop rape

By — November 5, 2012
Patrick Cammaert is often quoted as saying that it is now more dangerous to be a woman than it is to be a soldier in war. But perhaps he should be quoted more widely on another startling fact: that UN peacekeepers the world over turn away when they witness rape. more »

‘We do not need any more proof’: Leaders tell UN it’s time to act on rape in war

By — September 25, 2012
In a fluorescent-lit United Nations room full of suited bureaucrats, Nobel Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee raised a startling point. It had been a morning of declarations condemning sexualized violence in conflict and considerations of how we can better proceed to stop it when Gbowee said: “If I asked everyone in this room to explain to us about their last sexual encounter, they would be turning pink.” more »
Forced sterilization: Big media stories versus the big picture

Forced sterilization: Big media stories versus the big picture

By — September 4, 2012
Sweden. California. Peru. All three make lovely vacation spots, sure, but they share something more sinister, too: a state-sponsored violence so furtive, even victims don’t always know it’s taking place. Add to that list Norway, Finland, Kenya, Venezuela, and 31 more U.S. states, and you begin to see the scope of forced sterilization. more »
The fine line between ‘obedience’ and rape in North Korea

The fine line between ‘obedience’ and rape in North Korea

By — May 17, 2012
When Shin Dong-hyuk was 10 years old, he watched his mother be raped by her boss. In an attempt to fetch her for dinner, Shin approached the office where he had been told she would be. The door was locked. Through a window he saw her kneeling as she washed the floor, then saw her boss approach and grope her. Shin’s mother and the man took off their clothes, and the boy watched the rest unfold. more »
For Bosnia’s women, a slow justice

For Bosnia’s women, a slow justice

By — May 17, 2012
The first day of the Ratko Mladić war crimes trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was covered in many major news outlets on Wednesday. Interestingly, while The New York Times pointed out that Mladić is the "last of the major figures in the Balkan wars to face trial" at the ICTY, the Times piece contained no mention of the rampant torture and rape of women during the Bosnian War. more »
Q&A: How Susan Brownmiller fought the media on rape in war, and won

Q&A: How Susan Brownmiller fought the media on rape in war, and won

By — April 6, 2012
Back when the media was writing about the rape of a woman in war by describing the shape of her buttocks, Susan Brownmiller was busy preparing her offensive to change how we talk about this atrocity. more »

For women displaced by war, can a new stove spell safety?

By — April 2, 2012
Usually, headlines about women and kitchen appliances conjure anti-feminist rhetoric. But as we've reported previously, the cooking tools that women in refugee camps use—and lack—may have a key effect on whether they're targets of rape. more »

13-year-old rape survivor struggles to care for baby in Malawi

By — March 14, 2012
“I have lost hope,” a 13-year-old rape survivor tells Inter Press Service. After fleeing war in Congo, she was attacked by her own stepfather in a Malawi refugee camp, where she lives with 11,000 others. Now, she must care for the baby produced by the rape. more »
Ask before you tell: How to make the world better for girls in conflict areas

Ask before you tell: How to make the world better for girls in conflict areas

By — March 8, 2012
The most positive, most productive way to improve the lives of girls in conflict areas may appear to be to sharply steer them away from stigma and violence. But as researchers and fieldworkers, advocates and policymakers, we have to consider the pitfalls of thinking we know best. more »

The safest prey: When refugee camps become sites of violence

By — February 21, 2012
Even war is safer than this. Imagine it: Your family attacked. Your house teeming with soldiers. Your options running out. A protected area for victims of war sounds like a wise place to flee. more »