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Police search for the names of 22 women murdered

The faces of 12 of the unidentified women

Police in three European countries are asking for help to identify 22 murdered women whose names remain a mystery.

The bodies were found in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany between 1976 and 2019.

An unsolved murder of a woman in Amsterdam, found in a wheelie bin in a river, sparked the move by Interpol.

It’s the first time the international police group has gone public with a list seeking information about unidentified bodies.

The so called black notices, released as part of the campaign known as Operation Identify Me, are normally only circulated internally among Interpol’s network of police forces throughout the world.

The woman found in the bin in Amsterdam in 1999 had been shot in the head and chest.

Forensic detective Carina Van Leeuwen has been trying to solve the mystery since joining the city’s first cold case team in 2005.

Dutch police say a case typically becomes “cold” when it remains open and unsolved after about three years.

Having exhausted all efforts, she and a colleague contacted police in neighbouring Germany and Belgium and learned of many more possible murder cases with unidentified women victims.

A clay reconstruction of the victim's face from 1999, compared to a much more accurate digital image from 2023 which uses new technology.
Image caption,

The original reconstruction of the Amsterdam victim’s face from 1999, alongside a much more accurate depiction using new technology

The three countries compiled a list of 22 that they were struggling to solve and asked Interpol to publish the details. Belgian police put forward seven cases, Germany six and the Netherlands nine.

Most of the victims were aged between 15 and 30. Without knowing their names or who killed them, police say it is difficult to establish the exact circumstances of their deaths.

The full list – available on Interpol’s website – includes details about the women, photographs of possible identifying items such as clothing, jewellery and tattoos, and, in some cases, new facial reconstructions and information about the cases.

Ms van Leeuwen says finding answers in such cases is vital. “If you don’t have a name, you don’t have a story. You’re just a number. And nobody’s a number,” she explains.

In the Netherlands, almost all of the unidentified bodies of women appear to be murder cases, while – say police – unidentified men died in a range of circumstances.

In that part of Europe, people can go between countries very easily because there are open borders.

Increased global migration, and human trafficking, has led to more people being reported missing outside of their national borders, says Dr Susan Hitchin, coordinator of Interpol’s DNA unit.

It can make identifying bodies more challenging, and women are “disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking”, she says.

“This operation aims to give back to these women their names.”

Victim number one

The body of the woman found in the bin now lies in a cemetery in central Amsterdam.

Her grave is tucked away close to a train line and behind rows of graves with personalised inscriptions and freshly cut flowers laid out.

She is in an area for those whose names are not known. There, small plaques stick out of the soil with the words “unidentified deceased”.

The woman was found when a local man, Jan Meijer, went out on his boat to retrieve a wheelie bin that his neighbour had spotted floating in the river that runs next to his home on the outskirts of the Dutch capital.

But when he lashed the bin to the boat he noticed it was heavier than he had expected and, as more of it surfaced above the water, he could smell “something awful”.

As a firefighter, Jan had been around dead bodies before. But this stench was visceral. It took him back to an incident in his childhood, when he had found the rotting carcass of a slaughtered sheep.

Upon closer inspection, he noticed the bin had been nailed shut. He towed it to his decking and called the police.

When the bin was prised open, officers found bags of washing powder stacked on top of concrete.

Jan Meijer standing by the river where he found the wheelie bin.
Image caption,

Jan Meijer found the woman’s body more than two decades ago

They turned the bin upside down and a body fell to the floor. One of the hands was partly encased in concrete.

An officer who was there tells me the body was grey and looked like a “sand sculpture”. It was impossible to tell from looking if the person was a man or a woman, he says.

The investigation at the time established that the woman was probably in her mid-20s and “partly western European and partly Asian”.

More recent forensic investigations, using isotope analysishave narrowed down her place of birth to either the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg or Belgium.

“It all has to do with the food that you eat and the water that you drink, but also the air that you breathe,” Ms van Leeuwen says of the technique.

In the weeks following her discovery, police released details of her clothing and shoe sizes and what she was wearing, but they were still unable to identify her. Her dark lace-up shoes with crepe soles were not on her feet but had been put in the bin with her body.

Details of what was found with the body have been released by Interpol as part of Operation Identify Me.

She was wearing a gold-coloured watch on her right wrist and a snakeskin print bag was also found in the bin.

Men’s clothes were also found in the bin – police believe they belonged to the perpetrator. They include a jacket with a red circular symbol sewn into it. Efforts to identify the symbol led to dead ends.

No suspect was ever questioned or arrested in connection with the case, and an initial flurry of media interest soon evaporated.

But for those there on the day the body was found, it was not so easy to forget the woman with no known name. They still wonder who she was – and who might be missing her.

‘They all had somebody who missed them’

When detective Carina van Leeuwen first visited the victim’s grave in 2007 to exhume the remains she felt shocked and saddened at the idea of people falling into obscurity in death.

The owner of the cemetery asked the detective what she planned to do about “all of the others”.

It was then that she realised the scale of the problem with unidentified bodies

Detective Carina van Leeuwen crouches in a cemetery to examine the plaque of an unidentified woman
Image caption,

Detective Carina van Leeuwen says she will never give up on finding the names of the women she is investigating

Identifying the dead became her specialism and she has gone on to identify 41 people who died from various causes.

All of the bodies she has identified had one thing in common. “No matter how long it took to identify them, they all had somebody who missed them,” she says.

“Even if it’s 25 years later, people are very happy to have something that they can bury and pay their respects to.”

Operation Identify Me

Only four of the bodies Carina has helped to identify in the Netherlands were people from that country, which is why she believes working with police forces across borders, and wider public awareness, is so important.

One of the Operation Identify Me cases is a woman found in Belgium with a distinctive tattoo of a black flower with green leaves and “R’NICK” written underneath.

She was found lying against a grate in a river in Antwerp in 1992. Police said she had been killed violently, but they never discovered her name.

An image of the flower tattoo on the unidentified woman
Image caption,

An image of the flower tattoo on the unidentified woman from Belgium

In another case from 2002, a woman’s body was found in a sailing club in the German city Bremen, wrapped in a carpet and bound with string.

Interpol says it hopes that issuing the public list of these black notices will help to prompt memories and encourage people to come forward with any information they may have.

“Perhaps they’ll recognise an earring or specific item of clothing that was found on the unidentified woman,” says Interpol’s Dr Susan Hitchin.

In some of the 22 cases, police forces are using technology that wasn’t available at the time the bodies were found to boost their chances of identification.

A new facial reconstruction of the woman in the bin in Amsterdam has been produced by Dr Christopher Rynn, a forensic artist in Scotland.

He remembers seeing the original post mortem photographs of the woman when he was a student, and they’ve never left him.

He is hopeful that the new image, produced using advanced computer software to reconstruct the face around the skull, will help uncover new leads.

Carina says that – while she would like to solve the case and find the perpetrator – for her “it’s all about [the woman’s] identity, just to give her back to the family”.

She says she will “never give up” on the woman in the bin, or the others she is investigating.

“You’re a person, you have a name, you have a history, and the history has to be told until the end, even if the end is tragic and horrible.”

Women’s World Cup: Fifa president Gianni Infantino threatens tournament blackout in Europe

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has threatened to not broadcast the Women’s World Cup in five European countries unless TV companies improve their rights offers.

Infantino said “disappointing” offers from the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France were a “slap in the face” of the players and “all women worldwide”.

He added it was Fifa’s “moral and legal obligation not to undersell” the event.

The World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, starts on 20 July.

Infantino said European broadcasters had offered world football’s governing body $1m-$10m (£800,000-£8m) for the rights, compared with $100m-$200m for the men’s World Cup.

“Should the offers continue not to be fair, we will be forced not to broadcast the Fifa Women’s World Cup into the ‘big five’ European countries,” Infantino said at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva.

“I call, therefore, on all players, fans, football officials, presidents, prime ministers, politicians and journalists all over the world to join us and support this call for a fair remuneration of women’s football. Women deserve it, as simple as that.”

Rights offers for previous tournaments were bundled together with other events including the men’s World Cup, but Fifa has now separated the bidding process.

In calling for improved offers, Infantino said all TV revenue for the tournament would be reinvested in women’s football and that public broadcasters in particular, such as the BBC, have a “duty to promote and invest in women’s sport”.

The BBC held the sole broadcast rights in the UK for the 2019 Women’s World Cup but shared the rights for the recent men’s World Cup in Qatar with ITV.

It has widely been reported that the BBC and ITV will share broadcasting rights for this summer’s tournament, although no announcement has been made.

A BBC Sport spokesperson said it did not comment on sports rights negotiations.

Last year the Women’s World Cup and European Championship were both added to the ‘crown jewels’ of British sporting events, which require free-to-air coverage.

The official spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he had not seen Infantino’s comments but added: “I think the Prime Minister, like everyone in the UK, would want to see such an important event televised, not least following the huge success of our Lionesses.”

Infantino added that Fifa had trebled the total prize money to $152m compared with the 2019 tournament in France and reiterated the organisation’s desire to have equal pay for the men’s and women’s World Cups by 2026 and 2027, first announced at its annual congress in March.

According to Fifa’s data, 1.12 billion people watched the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France – the most watched women’s tournament ever.

Almost half of total viewing hours were from Europe, with the average viewing time of 4.14 hours per person across the whole tournament more than double the average of the rest of the world.

That could be partly attributed to the favourable time zone and that seven of the eight quarter-finalists were European, with England reaching the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners the United States.

Kick-off times for the 2023 World Cup are less favourable, ranging from 01:00 to 12:00 BST, though England’s three group games start between 09:30 and 12:00 and the final is scheduled to kick off at 11:00.

“Maybe, because it is in Australia and New Zealand, it’s not played on prime-time in Europe, but still, it is played at 9am or 10am, so it is quite a reasonable time,” added Infantino.

Interest in women’s football continues to rise, with a record global audience of more than 365 million watching last summer’s Euro 2022 in England, with 50 million tuning in for England’s victory over Germany in the Wembley final.

Domestically, the Lionesses’ triumph was watched by a peak BBC One television audience of 17.4 million, making it the most-watched women’s football game on UK television. There were a further 5.9 million streams of the game on the BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.

Research from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) revealed that the amount of time the average UK viewer spent watching women’s sport in 2022 was more than double the 2021 figure.

In a statement, the WST said: “Given this is the first women’s tournament that Fifa has sold broadcast rights unbundled from the men’s, it is hugely significant. Broadcasting major events like the Fifa WWC are key to igniting fandom.

“British broadcasters have been big supporters of women’s sport over the last few years so this roadblock won’t be about not wanting to show the tournament. Going forward it’s important to have more open conversations about value.

“We hope that all parties involved will find a solution that gives the players, fans and sponsors the World Cup they deserve.”

BlackRock and UN Women to Promote Gender Lens Investing

New York, 25 May 2022 – BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) and UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to cooperate in promoting the growth of gender lens investing. As part of the agreement, signed at the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, BlackRock will develop strategies to mobilize capital in support of economic opportunity for women. UN Women will serve as a knowledge partner and collaborate on data and research.

BlackRock and UN Women to Promote Gender Lens Investing

Gender lens investing is defined by UN Women as the intentional allocation of capital and alignment of investment strategies, processes and products, to achieve positive and tangible contributions against women’s empowerment objectives and that has the potential to generate a financial return.

By bringing together BlackRock’s deep investment experience across public and private markets and UN Women’s convening power and gender equality expertise, the partnership aims to catalyze the growth of gender lens investing and inspire greater mobilization of capital into companies that address women’s needs in education, financial services, childcare, healthcare, and other sectors. BlackRock and UN Women are united by the conviction that investing to help enhance the lives of women and girls around the world can increase their economic participation, realizing value and unlocking greater economic growth. [1]

BlackRock, as an asset manager on behalf of clients, will aim to invest across a broad array of asset classes, regions, and investment styles. At their core is a “dual bottom line” investment thesis that aims to drive or support positive real-world outcomes while delivering attractive, risk-adjusted returns for investors. An initial set of funds will launch gradually over the coming quarters and will be available to a global investor base, across institutional and wealth channels.

Looking ahead, BlackRock and UN Women will engage the broader ecosystem of public and private sector organizations focused on gender equality, seek to strengthen data collaboration and research, and continue to explore additional opportunities to collaborate on and promote return-generating and market-based solutions that improve the lives of women and girls.

Isabelle Mateos y Lago, Global Head of the Official Institutions Group at BlackRock, commented: “We are excited to partner with UN Women, a global champion for women’s empowerment, to help scale the nascent field of gender-lens investing. We believe this partnership will help meet the growing appetite of asset owners around the world to focus more on the “S” pillar of ESG and their growing interest in investing for positive real-world outcomes alongside competitive financial returns.”

Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, commented: “UN Women’s mission is to achieve a world in which all women and girls can exercise their basic human rights and can unlock their full economic and social potential. Achieving gender equality is at the heart of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and requires strong public-private partnerships that will direct greater flows of financing towards gender equality objectives. We are pleased to partner with BlackRock, a leading global asset manager, to make a real impact and to catalyze global markets to bring gender lens investing to the fore.”

UN Women and Blackrock representatives speaking at the press conference.

Later this year, BlackRock and UN Women will co-host an event, “Scaling Up Gender Lens Investing: Examining the Economic Case,” which will bring together leading institutional investors, policymakers, nonprofits, and academics to discuss how market-based strategies can help improve women’s economic participation and close the gender gap in funding.

About BlackRock

BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, BlackRock helps millions of people build savings that serve them throughout their lives by making investing easier and more affordable. For additional information on BlackRock, please visit www.blackrock.com/corporate.

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations (UN) organization dedicated to gender equality, and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women works to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. For more information on UN Women, please visit www.unwomen.org.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

As the war in Ukraine continues to take its toll on women and girls, UN Women reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s urgent call for peace. The war must stop now.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

Since the war began, more than 10 million people have been forced from their homes in search of safety and security. UN Women applauds Ukraine’s neighbours who have already received more than 4 million people.

Women and girls constitute approximately 90 per cent of all those displaced from Ukraine, they are uniquely exposed to gender-specific risks such as trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and denial of access to essential services and goods. Reports of some of these risks already becoming reality have begun to surface. This demands an urgent gender-intentional response to ensure the specific rights and needs of women and girls are prioritized.

Women’s civil society organizations inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries are uniquely qualified to help meet these needs. The majority of these organizations remain operational, committed to supporting Ukraine’s women and girls, increasingly at the risk of their own lives.

They are providing food and shelter, legal assistance, mental health support, and help for those evacuated and on the move. Supporting these organizations must be a priority. Ensuring safe humanitarian corridors for this work, and for the work of humanitarian agencies is imperative. We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Women’s organizations lie at the heart of UN Women’s response in Ukraine. We have directly allocated immediate funds to women’s civil society organisations, with more to follow, alongside additional funds coming through the United Nations Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund for which UN Women is the Secretariat.

We are making efforts to ensure that women’s priority needs are addressed, specifically, safety; access to shelters; necessities such as food, medicine, and hygiene products, accommodation, water and access to power and connectivity; and access to livelihoods, including the ability to work and earn an income.

We are conducting rapid gender assessments to ensure that up-to-date data and analysis on the gender dynamics of the war and its impacts are available to all those working on the response. And we are providing experts to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council. Our experts are equipped with the skills and experience to investigate sexual violence, abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the context of war. We invest in this work because our experience has shown that to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, it is imperative to investigate these crimes and hold perpetrators to account against these fundamental abuses of the rights of women and girls.

UN Women remains determined to give all we can of our energies, expertise and resources, alongside our partners within and outside the United Nations family. We use our voice in international political fora to ensure that women’s rights, interest, voices and leadership are fully built into the global response to the war in Ukraine.

UN Women is committed to playing our part to ensure that all women and girls everywhere are protected from the consequences of war, and will take every opportunity to support their resilience and leadership.

In Focus: War in Ukraine is a crisis for women and girls

The war has severely impacted social cohesion, community security and the resilience of local communities, especially women and girls. Lack of access to social services including schools and strained community resources have increased the care burden of local women who responsible for the care for children, disabled and elderly family members.

Recent estimates indicate that 54 per cent of people in need of assistance from the ongoing crisis are women. More than 2.3 million refugees from Ukraine – the vast majority women and children – having fled to neighbouring countries, and others displaced within the country. These numbers are expected to increase significantly as the offensive continues.

As women continue to bear different and additional burdens of war, they must be represented in all decision-making platforms on de-escalation, conflict prevention, mitigation and other processes in pursuit of peace and security for the people of Ukraine and beyond.

Ukraine: New UN Women and CARE report highlights disproportionate impact of the war on women and minorities

After more than two months of war in Ukraine, which has forced millions of refugees and displaced people to flee their homes, a new Rapid Gender Analysis by UN Women and CARE reveals that women and minorities are facing immense hardship when it comes to health, safety, and access to food as a result of the crisis. In Ukraine, women are increasingly becoming heads of households and leaders in their communities as men are conscripted, yet they remain largely excluded from formal decision-making processes related to humanitarian efforts, peace-making, and other areas that directly impact their lives.

Moldova - People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.
Moldova – People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.

The analysis, based on surveys and interviews with people in 19 regions in Ukraine between 2 and 6 April 2022, sheds a spotlight on the gender dynamics of the crisis and recommends actions for governments, the international community, and other actors to implement in their humanitarian response.

“When it comes to humanitarian needs of displaced people, locals, and households, women do most of the work: they drive, provide hospitals and locals with medication and food, they care about their disabled relatives and children,” said a woman who participated in the survey.

The report reveals that the impact of the war is particularly disproportionate for internally displaced people and marginalized groups such as female-headed households, Roma people, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities. Many respondents from Roma communities gave testimony of severe discrimination, both in their daily struggle and in access to humanitarian aid.

The analysis also reveals that gender roles are changing in Ukraine. While many men have become unemployed and are primarily engaging in the armed forces, women report taking on new roles and multiple jobs to make up for the lost family income. Women are also performing vital roles in the humanitarian response in local communities. However, despite taking on increasing leadership roles in their families and communities, they are largely excluded from formal political and administrative decision-making processes.

With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women’s unpaid care burden has increased significantly. Backtracking on gender equality is already evident in the ongoing crisis. The war is increasing unemployment among the entire population and will likely push women into the unprotected informal sectors of the economy and increase poverty.

Women and girls also highlighted poor access to health care services, especially for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and pregnant, expecting, and new mothers, as well as rising fears of GBV and lack of food, especially for those in heavy conflict areas. Many respondents also spoke of the challenges and barriers they face in accessing humanitarian aid and services, and around 50 per cent of both women and men indicated that mental health was a main area of life impacted by the war.

“It’s critical that the humanitarian response in Ukraine takes into account and addresses the different needs of women and girls, men and boys, including those that are furthest left behind”, says UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “This timely analysis provides the evidence of those needs, and their urgency. Women have been playing vital roles in their communities’ humanitarian response. They must also be meaningfully involved in the planning and decision-making processes to make sure that their specific needs are met, especially those related to health, safety, and access to livelihoods.”

“Our Rapid Gender Analysis allows us to consult directly with affected populations in order to accurately identify what specific needs different groups of people have, and how to best meet them,” says Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of CARE International. “What we are hearing from the people of Ukraine is that certain groups—such as those with disabilities, Roma and other ethnic minorities, single mothers, and unaccompanied children—are each in need of different forms of protection and assistance. To keep our response effective and relevant, such groups must be consulted and prioritized across the aid ecosystem as this truly devastating situation continues to evolve.”

Key recommendations of the Rapid Gender Analysis:

  • Ensure that humanitarian assistance addresses the needs of women, men, girls, and boys in vulnerable situations and from different marginalized groups, especially the Roma community, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
  • Prioritize women and young people to equally lead the response and be part of decision-making.
  • Support women-led and women’s rights organizations engaged in the response through provision of financial resources and by amplifying their voices at national and international platforms.
  • Provide displaced women and men with options for vocational training and livelihoods, remaining mindful of changing gender roles.
  • Make access to shelters inclusive and non-discriminatory. Collective shelters should offer sex-segregated and/or family-segregated accommodation.
  • Alleviate home schooling burdens by encouraging families to redistribute care work.
  • Design cash assistance to reach the most vulnerable and at-risk women, especially in occupied territories, areas of active hostilities, and rural localities.
  • Fill gaps in services to respond to gender-based violence.
  • Make sexual and reproductive health and maternal, newborn, and child health care a priority, including the clinical care of sexual assault survivors and ensuring access to contraception.

‘Women are more emotional than men’: Kenny Shiels apologizes for his comments following Northern Ireland’s defeat to England

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels has been widely criticized for his post match comments.

Kenny Shiels — manager of the Northern Ireland women’s football team — has apologized for comments he said in a post-match press conference suggesting women are prone to conceding goals in quick succession because they “are more emotional than men.”

In a statement, Shiels apologized for the “offence oofos shoes that [his comments] have caused” and said that he is “proud to manage a group of players who are role models for so many girls, and boys, across the country.”
Shiels’ comments came after his side had been defeated 5-0 by England in a Women’s World Cup qualifier, ending its hopes of reaching the main draw. England scored its first goal after 28 minutes and second after 52 minutes.
“When we went 1-0 down, we killed the game, tried to just slow it right down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their head,” Shiels said. “And that’s an issue we have not just in Northern Ireland, but all the countries have that problem.”
His remarks were met with widespread criticism.
“I think we all know that the five minutes after you concede a goal — not just in women’s football, [also] in men’s football — you’re more likely to concede a goal,” former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told the BBC. “To just generalize that to women is a slightly bizarre comment.”
“Hearing a man talking about women being too emotional in this day and age, I just felt like I’d gone back 30 years, to be perfectly honest with you,” Yvonne Harrison, chief executive of Women in Football, said to the Press Association.
“It’s something women have had to face for years and years right across society, not just sport.”
Shiels has managed the women’s team in Northern Ireland since May 2019, overseeing its successful qualification for the Women’s Euro 2022 — the country’s first ever major women’s football tournament.
His press conference detracted from a record-breaking night as the match was attended by 15,348 spectators — the largest crowd thorogood boots ever seen at a women’s football match in England.
In Northern Ireland too, women’s football is growing in popularity. In an interview with CNN Sport last year, Northern Ireland’s most capped player, Julie Nelson, said that women’s football has “changed massively” in her lifetime.
When she first began playing football at age five, there was “nowhere that you would have seen women playing — and there were no local teams where I lived.”

World No. 1 Ko Jin-young shatters records in HSBC Women’s World Championship win

Ko Jin-young celebrates winning the HSBC Women's World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club on March 6, 2022 in Singapore.

South Korea’s largest dairy company apologizes over a video advert implying women are cows

The video sparked outrage among some internet users.

4 women testified at Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial that they were sexually abused. Here’s what they said

The case against Ghislaine Maxwell primarily relies on the testimony of four women who say they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein when they were under 18 — and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in that abuse, too.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to six federal charges: sex trafficking of minors, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a skechers outlet minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three counts of conspiracy.
Prosecutors said in opening statements Maxwell and Epstein created a system of sexual abuse in which they lured underage girls into sexual relationships with Epstein using the ruse of a massage and cash payments. Her defense, though, has argued she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s actions and has attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were abused.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell was arrested a year afterward.
Woman testifies Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein started sexually abusing her when she was 14
CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Paul Callan says Epstein’s death and the passage of so much time pose a huge challenge for prosecutors in this case. The government alleges the abuse occurred between 1994 and 2004.
“Proving sex abuse and rape cases from decades ago is generally an extraordinarily difficult task,” Callan says. “Proof in cases where children are involved are even more difficult. Memories of children are often unreliable and malleable.”
Maxwell said he expects the defense to call an expert witness to convince the jury that such testimony is inherently unreliable. The defense is expected to start its case on Thursday.
The government on Friday rested its case after prosecutors called 24 witnesses across 10 days of testimony.
“Despite substantial obstacles, prosecutors finished strongly” with Annie Farmer, the fourth and final accuser to take the stand, providing “vivid testimony,” Callan says.
“In the end a prosecution case which started weakly built to a strong conclusion,” Callan says.
Testimony from the victims began on November 30 with “Jane,” who said that Maxwell sometimes joined in on the sexualized massages. “Kate” testified December 6 that Maxwell set up those sexual meetings. Carolyn testified the next day that Maxwell once touched her breasts, hips and butt and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” She was 14 at the time, she said.
Finally, Farmer testified Friday that she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996.
Here’s a closer look at what these women said under oath.

What Jane said

In this sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, seated left, speaks to her defense attorney on Monday, December 6.

A woman identified in court by the pseudonym “Jane” testified last week she met Maxwell and Epstein in 1994 when she was 14 at a camp where he was a benefactor.
She and her mother met Epstein for tea in Florida and he said he could mentor her. She then started going to Epstein’s home by herself. At first, Maxwell and Epstein made her feel special — spending time with her, asking about her family and interests and taking her to do fun things, she said. For the first few months, Maxwell felt like an older sister, she said.
“It changed when the abuse started happening,” she said.
Jane described in graphic detail incidents of sexual abuse with Epstein that Maxwell would at times join in on, both in Palm Beach, Florida, and Manhattan when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.
At times, Epstein would masturbate on bluetooth headphones her and molest her, she said. Maxwell would sometimes be involved, touching her and Epstein, she testified. At least once, Maxwell “instructed” her how Epstein liked to be massaged while the three were in Epstein’s massage room, she testified.
“It seemed very casual, like it was very normal, like it was not big deal,” she said. “It made me feel confused because that did not feel normal to me.”
She said it took her years before she was able to tell anyone about what happened, saying she felt “shame and disgust and confusion.”
On cross-examination, defense attorneys combed through her statements to law enforcement since 2019 to try to show inconsistencies with her testimony in court.
In the statements, Jane told law enforcement agents that she wasn’t sure if Maxwell ever touched her and she didn’t remember Maxwell ever being present for any sexual activity between her and Epstein. Jane repeatedly testified she didn’t recall if she’d said that to investigators.
At other times Jane testified that the law enforcement notes from those interviews were inaccurate, inconsistent with her timeline and not an accurate transcript of her statements, which were not recorded.

What Kate said

Prosecutors introduced into evidence this photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein.

“Kate” testified on Monday she first met Maxwell through an older boyfriend when she was 17.
Maxwell invited her for tea at her London townhome and told Kate about Epstein and later invited her again to meet him, she testified.
There, Maxwell told her to give Epstein’s foot a little “squeeze” to show him how strong she was despite her small frame, Kate testified. Epstein approved of the foot massage and also had her massage his shoulders.
A couple of weeks later, Maxwell called Kate to ask whether she would do her “a favor” and come give Epstein a massage, sperry shoes even though she had no massage therapy experience. Maxwell led Kate upstairs in her townhome to a bedroom where Epstein stood in a robe, gave Kate massage oil, and closed the door behind her. Epstein disrobed and initiated a sex act with her, she said.
Maxwell called her back a second for another meeting with Epstein. “She said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. You did such a good job last time (that) he wanted you to come back,'” Kate said.
This time, Epstein was standing naked when Maxwell brought Kate to the same room and closed the door behind her. “Have a good time,” Maxwell said as she left the room, according to the testimony.
In her testimony, Kate testified she traveled at Epstein’s expense several times to New York; Palm Beach, Florida; and Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had property. Maxwell invited her to Epstein’s private island to give him massages and would inform Kate of the travel arrangements, she said.
During a visit to the Palm Beach residence when she was about 18, a “school girl” outfit — a pleated skirt, white panties, white socks and a shirt — was left on her bed, according to her testimony. When she asked Maxwell what it was for, Maxwell said, “I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit,” Kate testified.
Maxwell spoke of sexual topics often with Kate, asking her if she knew any other girls that could give Epstein oral sex. “She said that he needed to have sex about three times a day,” Kate said.
“You know what he likes — cute, young (and) pretty like you,” Maxwell said, according to the testimony.
Kate said she kept in contact with Epstein until around 2012. She was about 24 when she last traveled with Maxwell and Epstein, but she continued contact with Epstein through her early 30s, she testified.
She described staying in contact with him as a mix of denial and fear.
“I did not want to admit what had happened to me and I felt that by ceasing communication I would have to acknowledge the events that had taken place and I would have to say something,” she said. “I was also fearful of disengaging because I had witnessed how connected they both were and I was fearful.”
Kate is not considered a minor victim in the charges because she was over the age of consent at the time of the alleged abuse, but jurors were still allowed to consider her testimony, Judge Alison Nathan ruled.

What Carolyn said

Prosecutors say Ghislaine Maxwell conspired with Jeffrey Epstein to create a system of sexual abuse of underage girls.

Carolyn, who testified Tuesday using only her first name, said she was 14 years old when she began to go to Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, two or three times per week in the early 2000s.
On one visit, Carolyn was setting up a massage room for him when Maxwell came into the room. Maxwell touched Carolyn’s breasts, hips and butt, and commented that she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends,” according to her testimony.
Carolyn said she went to Epstein’s over a hundred times in all. Each time she visited, $300 in cash was left for her on the bathroom sink, she said.
“Something sexual happened every single time,” Carolyn said.
She said that she remembered bringing three different friends around her age with her over the years. On those occasions she’d receive $600 in cash as an incentive for bringing them, and her friends would receive $300.
Carolyn described a number of sexual encounters with Epstein. She also said Maxwell saw her naked in the massage room “probably three times” over the years.
Maxwell and Epstein separately invited her to go to an island, but she told them she was too young and her mom wouldn’t let her travel out of the country, she testified. She also didn’t have a passport.
Sometimes, Maxwell or another Epstein associate would call her to set up an “appointment” time, Carolyn testified. Other times she would call to ask if she could come over because she wanted the money, she said. She testified that Maxwell and the associate would call her on her mom or her boyfriend’s phone numbers if they couldn’t reach her.
She said she used the money to buy drugs.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca cross-examined Carolyn for more than two hours Tuesday and spent considerable time suggesting Carolyn made inconsistent statements about her timeline, including a 2007 FBI meeting and in a 2009 deposition for lawsuits she pursued against Epstein.
Carolyn sobbed when prosecutor Maurene Comey asked if she was trying to get money for her testimony.
“No, money will not ever fix what that woman has done to me,” Carolyn said. “Because what she did was wrong and she takes vulnerable young girls and traffics them and I’m so petrified that my daughters are going to be trafficked.”

What Annie Farmer said

Frustration grows over heavily redacted Epstein pilot's flight logs
Frustration grows over heavily redacted Epstein pilot’s flight logs 02:40
Annie Farmer, who testified under her full name, has spoken out publicly about Epstein and Maxwell for years. She spoke in open court during both Epstein’s 2019 bail hearing and Maxwell’s bail hearing a year later.
She testified for three hours Friday, the fourth and final accuser to do so. Her older sister worked for Epstein, and Farmer met him during the 1995 holiday season. Epstein paid for her commercial flight to New York and at a movie held hands with her and caressed her foot, she said in court.
She described going to the billionaire’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996 at age 16, salomon boots where she thought she would be joining other peers but she was the only teen there.
There, Maxwell told her to get undressed and gave her a rubdown, telling her she wanted Farmer to experience a professional massage, Farmer testified.
At some point as she lay on her back, Maxwell pulled the sheet down, exposing her naked breasts, and rubbed her chest and upper breast, Farmer testified.
“Once she pulled down the sheet I felt like kind of frozen,” she testified. “It didn’t make sense to me that that would happen. I just wanted so badly to get off the table and have this massage be done.”
On her last day at the ranch Epstein bounded into her guestroom where she still lay in bed telling her he wanted to “cuddle.”
“He climbed into bed with me and kind of laid behind me and reached his arms around me and like pressed his body into me,” she said.
Feeling uncomfortable, she made an excuse to get out of bed and went to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Farmer said that while in New Mexico they went to see the movie “Primal Fear,” where Epstein again caressed her in a more “blatant” way, seemingly making no effort to hide it from Maxwell, she recalled. Later that day, Maxwell insisted she teach Farmer how to massage Epstein’s bare feet, Farmer testified.
Under cross-examination, Farmer acknowledged Maxwell was not in the room when Epstein got into her bed. In addition, defense attorney Laura Menninger repeatedly pointed out that Maxwell was not present on Farmer’s trip to New York.
Menninger suggested that Farmer overstated what she alleges happened to her in her public statements and on her Epstein Victim Compensation Program application for personal gain.