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A Model’s Powerful Message About Her Down Syndrome Son and Other Notes from the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

The Presidential Debates Are Finally Over

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump addressed the nation in their third and final debate this Wednesday. Moderator Chris Wallace expertly kept the two in line in an exchange that touched on such issues as the Constitution, abortion, immigration, trade, jobs—and, of course, each candidate’s respective scandals. When asked about the questionable things discovered in her emails as recently posted by WikiLeaks, Clinton criticized the espionage that made those emails surface. When asked about the growing number of women accusing him of unwanted sexual advances, Trump claimed they were nothing more than attempts to hurt his chances at election. In a particularly low point, Trump interjected a comment at Clinton, calling her a “nasty woman”—and this coming in a debate most commentators called the most sober of the three! No matter one’s political affiliation, there’s one thing I’m sure many of us can agree on: Thank God these are over. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Girls Rescued from Nigeria Kidnapping Speak About What They Experienced

The world rejoiced with twenty-one Nigerian families as they celebrated the long-awaited release of their kidnapped daughters at a reunion ceremony in the nation’s capital Sunday. But the joy enveloping their Christian songs of praise was tainted by the knowledge that more than two hundred girls remain in captivity to the radical Islamic group Boko Haram.

On April 14, 2014, students were taking exams in a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, when Boko Haram—a group responsible for the death of thousands of civilians, countless rapes and beheadings, overrunning villages, and other violence in the region—stormed the school and captured approximately three hundred girls. About fifty escaped in the first few days following the kidnapping. The rest were taken deep into the Sambisa Forest and forced to convert to Islam and either marry their captors or become their slaves.

An ensuing social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls fueled an international advocacy effort, placing pressure on the Nigerian government to negotiate with the captors for the girls’ release. After two and a half years and a string of failed talks, negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram finally yielded results with the release of twenty-one girls, along with one of the girls’ 20-month-old son at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Currently in the custody of the secret police, the released girls are receiving medical and psychological care. But the majority of the girls are still in captivity, and their location and condition remaining unknown. “We want to ensure that we bring these girls back alive,” said Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a press conference. “At the same time we, of course, balance this against the overall safety and security of the country.” —Deanna Rosa

Lady Gaga’s Much-Anticipated Album Joanne Comes Out Today

Lady Gaga’s first album in years is released today. Joanne, which Gaga dedicated to her aunt Joanne who died long ago, includes the previously released single “Perfect Illusion,” a song that alludes to a turn from her previous theatrics toward more meaningful direction in her music. Other appetizing tracks include “Million Reasons,” “Sinner’s Prayer,” and “A-Yo.” As someone who has appreciated this change of course in Gaga's work, from her Oscar performances of the Sound of Music medley in 2015 to the powerful "Til It Happens To You" this year, I think it’s fair to say Gaga is continuing with this album what she’s been gradually proving the past three years: that pure creative talent is far more powerful than attention-getting gimmicks or meat dresses. —MRS

Model Amanda Booth Speaks on Her Down Syndrome Son

Model Amanda Booth has taken to social media to give a glimpse of what life is like with her son Micah, who has Down syndrome. Booth told Harper’s Bazaar, “When Micah was born, there were so many complications and doubts, but it was in those moments that I discovered his strength; and he taught me to see mine.” Booth was informed while pregnant that he had Down syndrome, after which she prepared to embrace her new role as a special-needs mom. But instead of focusing on his condition, she focuses on him as a person. “I need people to see him for who he is,” she says about sharing cuddly photos with him on Instagram. “I still know very little about Down syndrome, really, but I know a lot about Micah.” It’s refreshing to see love like this, the unconditional kind in the truest sense of the word—the kind that’s not diminished by one’s physical condition. —MRS

Hilary Swank Speaks on the Wage Gap

So apparently even an Academy Award isn't enough to secure women in Hollywood a higher pay grade than their male peers. In a recently released clip of an upcoming Netflix series called Chelsea in which stars swap industry tales, Hilary Swank describes how a male actor was offered twenty times her proposed salary: "I win my second Academy Award [for Million Dollar Baby]. The next couple movies later, I get offered a movie. The male hadn't had any kind of critical success but had been in a movie where he was 'hot,' and he got offered $10 million and I got offered $500,000." Swank turned down the film, and the producers reportedly paid a different actress $50,000 for the role. This is just getting painful now, guys. —Sophie Caldecott

More Backstory Coming Out on Birth Control’s Concerning History

The startling facts about birth control continue to shock as more light is shed on women’s health. A few weeks ago, Verily lifestyle editor Krizia Liquido reported on a Danish study recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association that links hormonal birth control use to depression in women, especially teenagers. Depression isn’t the only side effect caused by hormonal contraception. Nor is this the first time that women have been duped by doctors.

An article published this week at Vice’s female-focused vertical Broadly, revealed the history of birth control is laced with deception set against a backdrop of racism and sexism. In the 1950s an oral contraceptive had been developed as a way that doctors could prescribe birth control to everyday women. The original pill was tested on a group of women in Massachusetts who were not informed that the pill was meant to prevent pregnancy. Many women dropped out of the initial study due to the harsh side effects, including nausea, dizziness, and bloating. Because the initial studies couldn’t take off in America, researchers thought they would have an easier time manipulating poor, uneducated women in Puerto Rico. When those women began to drop out of the study because of hidden side effects, as well, the researchers turned to forcing women in mental asylums and threatening female medical students with expulsion to study the effectiveness of the pill. It was revealed that one of the lead researchers and pioneers for birth control pills originally looked into hormonal birth control for men. It was ultimately rejected because of the number of side effects. “It was believed women would tolerate side effects better than men, who demanded a better quality of life,” writes Bethy Squires in her article about the racist and sexist history of birth control.

In a 1970 court hearing about the lack of information provided to patients regarding the side effects of hormonal birth control, no women were asked to speak. Women’s voices have been silenced for decades when it comes to health, especially reproductive health. For something that is often flaunted as female empowerment, hormonal birth control has a pretty shady and sexist past. —Katie Faley

Kylie Jenner Opens Up in Complex Magazine

The youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan opened up about her life in the spotlight and its effects on her personal life in an interview with Complex magazine this past week. Kylie Jenner posed topless for the magazine cover—portraying a very different image of the 19-year-old than what her article dialogue reveals. “I didn’t know who I was a year ago, and I still don’t know exactly who I am now,” she tells Complex. “You’re trying to grow up and make mistakes, and everybody’s watching.” For Jenner, even at her young age, she’s dealing with the highs and lows of overexposure—certainly more exposure than any of us encounter on a day-to-day basis. But what her interview revealed was something more of a cry for help from the constant social media pressures.

From opening up about her middle school insecurity about her lips to the anxieties of having to upkeep her identity, Jenner confesses that her inherited fame as taken a toll on her. What we should take from her interview is a reminder that at the end of the day we’re all human. Despite our gravity to satisfy the media’s unceasing expectations of perfection, we are more than our Snapchats or others’ opinions of us. For Verily, Baleigh Scott shared her comments on the interview here. —Mary Brodeur

Good News of the Week

Imagine being in the middle of a cheerleading routine, and the grand finale consists of the girls being lifted up on the shoulders of their fathers—except your father isn’t there because he’s away serving in the Air Force. That’s exactly what happened to a young girl performing at a football game at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio recently. Finding herself alone, the young girl broke down in tears before a senior student leapt over the fence and asked her if she would like him to stand in for her father. Pass the tissues, please. —SC