Friday, July 30, 2010

France: Rise In Infanticide

From Time:
The question is as horrifying as it is important to ask: Why are a rising number of French women killing their newborn babies? Finding the answer has become a matter of urgency following the discovery on Wednesday of eight infants allegedly smothered to death and buried by their mother in northern France. And with that case marking at least the fifth instance of multiple infanticide reported in France since 2003, it has become vital for the nation to confront the phenomenon that appears to be behind it all: a mental condition known as pregnancy denial.
Experts explained those cases as resulting from pregnancy denial, an often misunderstood and minimized condition. According to Michel Delcroix, a former gynecologist who served as a court expert in the Courjault trial and others involving pregnancy issues, pregnancy denial is a quasi-schizophrenic condition in which women either don't realize or cannot accept that they are with child — not even enough to have an abortion. Whether these women are afflicted with the condition before they deliver or as they're suddenly giving birth, Delcroix explains, the psychological denial is so strong that they refuse to believe they're pregnant even when the reality confronts them.

Punjab: Violence Against Women

From the Daily Times:
From January to June this year, 2,690 cases of violence against women were reported across Punjab, in which 2,909 women were targeted.

Former MPA Misbah Kaukab said violence against women was increasing rapidly. She said this while addressing a press conference organised by Aurat Foundation at the Lahore Press Club on Thursday. Joint Action Committee Convener Shahtaj Qizilbash, human rights activists Abdullah Malik, Nabeela Shaheen and Abid Ali were also present on the occasion.

The aforementioned facts have been taken from the first bi-annual report on incidents of violence against women, titled “Situation of Violence Against Women in Punjab”, compiled by Aurat Foundation in collaboration with the Violence Against Women (VAW) Watch Group.

Out of the 2,690 cases reported, there were 913 cases of abductions, 381 murders, 102 honour killings, 377 rape and gang rape and 166 cases of suicide.

Geographically, 1,141 cases had been reported in the urban areas and 1,546 in the rural areas, while the area could not be identified in three cases. According to the status of first information reports, 2,353 cases had been registered in the police stations concerned, 96 were not registered anywhere, while there was no information regarding the registration of FIRs in 241 cases. Out of the total 3,066 victims of violence, 1,535 female victims were unmarried, 1,217 were married, 48 were widows, 39 divorcees, while no information was available for the remaining 227 victims. Almost 467 of the victims were under 18 years of age, 185 women were aged between 19 and 36, 58 female victims were above the age of 36, while in 2,356 cases, no information was available about the victims’ ages.

Maximum incidents: According to the report, the 12 districts where a maximum number of cases of violence against women were reported were Lahore with 458 cases, followed by Faisalabad with 393, Sargodha 161, Sheikhupura 157, Rawalpindi 139, Okara 134, Kasur 116, Sialkot 114, Sahiwal 88, Gujranwala 87, Jhang 76 and Multan with 71 reported cases of violence.

The six-month picture of the current year reveals that out of 2,690 various types of offences committed against women, abduction tops with 33 percent women and girls abducted in Punjab, followed by murder and rape and gang rape at 14 percent, suicide six percent and domestic violence four percent. Interestingly, the report also reflects the relationship of the accused with the victims, as the accused in all 2,690 cases had been found to be close relatives such as husbands, fathers, brothers, cousins, in-laws, besides local influentials, police or neighbours.

The cases of violence against women were collected from local sources of information, mainly local and regional newspapers, individuals and shelter homes, the report says.

US: Healthcare Reform Aids 30 Million Women

From UPI:
A U.S. non-profit group that analyzed the Affordable Care Act says 30 million women will benefit from healthcare reform.

Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund in New York, says the law subsidizes health insurance for as many as 15 million currently uninsured women and strengthens existing coverage for 14.5 million women who are underinsured -- coverage that does not protect the insured from high medical expenses.

Insurance carriers consider women, especially those of reproductive age, to be higher risk than men -- and women are charged higher premiums for the same benefits than men of the same age, Davis says.

Other provisions of the law important to women include -- subsidies to purchase insurance, limits to out-of-pocket expenses, and requiring new plans to cover maternity and newborn care.

Another provision of the law is estimated to help 100,000 uninsured women gain coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan -- temporary coverage for adults with pre-existing conditions who are uninsured during 2010 to 2013.

Mali: Women's Program Launched

From VOA News:
The Manu River Women Peace Network, a West Africa-wide association that works to improve living conditions for women, is launching a program in Mali's extreme north, where conflict, hunger and drought are affecting hundreds of thousands.

The desert region of Northern Mali is blighted by conflict, food insecurity and lack of water. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from acute hunger in this region that skirts the border with Niger. It is also the site of a long-running conflict between Tuareg rebels and the government.

As part of an effort to aid local women, the Manu River Women Peace Network is launching a program in the regional capital, Kidal.

Dicko Aminata Traoré, the president of the network in Mali, said peace in the region could lead to development, and development could help bring peace.

When the program is launched in September, the first challenge will be increasing access to water in the region, which has been suffering under the effects of a drought. Poor rainfall and a bad harvest in the area are severely affecting 258,000 people. A further 371,000 are at risk of sickness caused by dehydration and hunger.

Prostitution Pays For Mortgage

From ABC News:
A Sydney mother who forced 11 Thai women to work as prostitutes to help pay off her mortgage has been jailed for at least 13 months.

In March the 48-year-old pleaded guilty to bringing 11 women to Australia from Thailand for the purpose of sexual servitude between August 2005 and April 2008.

She also pleaded guilty to immigration offences.

The NSW District Court heard the women were forced to work off a debt they owed the woman for bringing them to Australia. She sent them to brothels in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide and Perth.

It heard the woman paid an agency in Thailand $20,000 to supply the women who knew what sort of work they would be doing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

South Korea: Women Put Marriage On Hold

From Bernama:
A growing number of South Korean women in their late twenties, considered as the ideal age for marriage, are reluctant to tie the knot, said China's Xinhua news agency citing a report by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA) revealed on Wednesday.

The unmarried rate among women aged between 25 and 29 surged to 59.1 percent in 2005 from 11.8 percent in 1975, the report said.

With the drastic growth in the number of single women in their late twenties, two out of three women hit their thirties without a spouse, it said.

Changed attitudes toward marriage are also apparent even among married women. Only 14 percent of married women saw marriage as necessary, according to the report.

The report said that 59.4 percent of singles, including both men and women, said they are not getting married because of value-related reasons, such as self-development and the pursuit of further education. Economic problems, with 31.9 percent, are the second most common reason for remaining unmarried.

South Korea in recent years has been grappling with the low birth rate. "Marriage-friendly policies along with reducing the age for first marriage should be devised," Byun Yong-chan, researcher at the KIHSA was quoted by local media as saying.

Japan: Female Life Expectancy Rises

From the Global Times:
Japanese women have held the record for the world's longest life expectancy for 25 years in a row, with an average life span of 86.44 years as of 2009, the health and welfare ministry said Monday, as the country struggles to cope with rising welfare costs in a rapidly aging society.

Life expectancy in Japan rose for the fourth straight year in 2009. Japanese men's average life expectancy came fifth globally with 79.59 years. Average life spans rose by almost five months for women and nearly four months for men, compared with the previous year.

The ministry attributed the extension of life spans to improved treatment of the three major causes of death among Japanese - cancer, cardiac disorders and strokes - as well as pneumonia.

The Big Issue

THEY are among the legions of Australia's less-visible poor: the 46,000 women who, on any given day, are homeless. Yet Sheynell Perry and Clarissa Hall have been more visible than most because they have worked as street vendors, selling The Big Issue.

About 85 per cent of the magazine's vendors - who must be homeless, vulnerable or marginalised to qualify for the job - are men. It is not a job that usually suits homeless women, most of whom have fled domestic violence. Many lack the confidence for such public displays; many consider standing on street corners too dangerous; others worry about the sex-worker connotations; and many have children in tow. Two-thirds of children seeking refuge in a homeless service last year were in the care of a woman escaping a violent partner.

Yesterday, Ms Perry and Ms Hall joined a ''round table'' discussion in a plush boardroom in Sydney where they were introduced as the real experts on homelessness. Here they met the federal Minister for Housing and the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek, who acknowledged their bravery.

Monday, July 26, 2010

TV Spat: Jezebel versus Jon

From the Guardian:
Talked about on numerous blogs and websites, covered by the New York Times, attacked by The Daily Show and attracting upwards of 38m global page views a month, the women's website Jezebel has clearly come of age.

It also needs to be noted that the site has overtaken its infamous sibling, the gossipy Gawker, in terms of notoriety after a public spat with Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Gaby Darbyshire, Gawker Media's chief operating officer, told the New York Observer that Jezebel "has received more complaints per year than any other [Gawker media] site", while Gawker's founder, Nick Denton, told the New York Times that it was no longer seen by advertisers as "a cute new entrant" on the blogging scene.

The spat with The Daily Show began with a report by the site's Irin Carmon on the programme's hiring policies, which highlighted the lack of women in senior writing or on-air positions and argued that it was "a boys' club where women's contributions are often ignored and dismissed".

Although The Daily Show had declined to comment for Carmon's original piece, a visibly flustered Stewart attempted to address the issue a week later stating: "Jezebel thinks I'm a sexist prick."

Women and Fertility

From the Telegraph:
Women living near an ancient fertility symbol produce the most babies in the country according to new figures.

The naked 180ft Cerne Abbas Giant though to be thousands of years old - is carved out in the chalk downs in North Dorset.

Women living near him have three children in their lifetime which is a national record.

They are the highest for anywhere in the country for more than 40 years.

Standing erect for locals to see the giant could be having an inspirational effect on couples in the area say locals.

And from Times of India:
A woman, as everyone knows, usually gives birth to a baby after nine months of pregnancy, but in Bihar 298 women claim to have delivered two to five children in a span of 60 days - at least that's what records of incentives amount given to new mothers under a government scheme show.

A woman gets around Rs.1,000 when she gives birth under the government's Janani Suraksha Yojana but a total of Rs.6.6 lakh was paid as incentive to 298 women who claimed to have delivered two to five children within 60 days under the scheme, says a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that exposes corruption in the state.

Islamic Scholars Weigh Into Burqa Ban

Muslim women living in or travelling to countries where face-veils are forbidden are allowed “to forgo covering their face". The statement came from a leading Saudi scholar Aed Al-Qarn, with the support of Mohamed al-Nujaimi, a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence and other experts in a country where almost all women wear face-veils, despite a tiny minority, so far tolerated, who do not wear full face-covering veils.

Al-Qarn’s statement began; " It is illogical and unreasonable that the French government undertakes such a thing, which is condemned by neutral people, not just Muslims, because the secular state assures freedom of religion" . "The State - he added - must respect the religious traditions, including those of Muslims."

That said, if Muslim women are in a country that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face harassment in such a place, "it is better that the Muslim woman uncovers her face."

Similarly, even though he only speaks in reference to the French case Nujaimi, in a statement posted on the Saudi Al-Watan, said that " For a woman who permanently resides in France or is a French citizen, if there is harm in wearing the veil ... it is permitted that she shows her face when need and necessity demand it".

Russia: Most Eligible List Angers Dads

From the Australian:

THEY are young, smart and fabulously wealthy but live largely in the shadows.
Now, to the fury of their billionaire fathers, they are exposed to scrutiny by the publication of Russia's first list of its most eligible women.

Compiled by the business magazine Finans, the list names the single daughters of Russia's richest tycoons.

The combined fortunes of the seven women identified total more than $17 billion.

The private lives of the rich and famous are generally considered taboo by the Russian press.

"Most (Russia's oligarchs) would be very unhappy to see their daughter's name on a list like this," said a businessman. "I know the fathers of two of the girls and they're very angry. The last thing they want is for their daughters to be viewed as commodities."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Obit: Cecile Aubry

From the New York Times:
Cécile Aubry, a French actress who had a short but glamorous film career and who later became a writer, creating a children’s television series, died Monday in Dourdan, outside of Paris. She was 81.

Her film career was short-lived, however: she made a half-dozen more movies in Europe, the last in 1960, and when she retired she reportedly said she’d been interested in making movies only for the opportunity to travel. She had married into a powerful Moroccan family in what some sources say was a secret marriage; her husband, Si Brahim El Glaoui, was a son of the pasha of Marrakesh.

UK: Cleric Urges Women Not To Defy Veil Bans

A popular Muslim cleric has said that women should forgo wearing the veil in countries where it is banned.

While he criticised efforts in a number of European countries to outlaw the veil, Sheik Aedh al-Garni said that Muslim women should not challenge the ban in such nations at the risk of breaking the country's laws.

His ruling, or fatwa, was published on Saturday in Saudi's Al-Hayat newspaper. The ruling was made in response to a question from a Saudi woman in France about how to respond to the recent vote in parliament to ban the full-face veil, or niqab. Governments in Spain and Belgium are also considering prohibition.

India: 200 Witches Killed Every Year

From the Hindustan Times:
Nearly 200 to 150 women are killed every year in India after being tagged as 'witches', a Dehra Dun based NGO has said citing National Crime Bureau statistics. Jharkhand tops the list with 50-60 witchcraft-related murders every year followed by Andhra Pradesh where the number is around 30, Haryana
25-30 and Orissa 24-28, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) Chairman Avdhash Kaushal claimed.

Jharkhand is not the only state where women are facing barbaric attacks in the name of witchcraft, such incidents are common in Orissa, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, Kaushal said.

In past 15 years, more than 2,500 women were killed after being accused of practicing witchcraft, according to a study conducted by RLEK.

Scholarships for Somali Women

From CTV News:
An Alberta journalist who was held prisoner in Somalia is never going back there, but the scholarship program she has set up for girls in the poverty-stricken country could bring change.

Amanda Lindhout says 11 young Somali women have been selected to go to one of six different institutions in the country. She hopes she will be able to raise enough money to have 100 women studying in four years time.

Originally she and the Global Enrichment Foundation panel members had planned on picking 10 women as the first scholarship recipients, but she says there were too many good applicants.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Veil On Bus

From the Independent:
A London transport company has launched an "urgent" investigation after two Muslim women claimed they were told to get off a bus because one of them was wearing a face veil.

The 22-year-old students said they were told by the driver of the bus – operated by Metroline – that they could not travel because they were "a threat". When the driver refused to give the women his name, they began filming him with a mobile phone. They said the driver then covered his face.

One of the un-named women told the BBC: "I said, 'It's okay for you to cover your face on my recording, but it's not okay for my friend to cover her face out of choice."

Tuesday's incident comes after Tory Phillip Hollobone caused controversy when he told The Independent he would refuse to meet Muslim constituents who covered their faces.

Women Protest Against Maoists

From the Hindustan Times:

Coming out in protest for the first time, thousands of tribal women in Maoist-affected Jhargram in West Bengal's West Midnapore district on Friday held a demonstration against a rebel-led tribal group for forcing them to join their agitations. The women also formed a committee to resist the
alleged torture of them by members of the Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities' (PCAPA).

Thousands of women from Radhanagar, Saktinagar, Gaighata villages of Jhargram held aloft sticks and brooms during their procession to oppose the PCAPA's diktat of joining their procession at gun point.

Sabitri Mahato, a housewife of Radhanagar village, said, "On Thursday night about 20 PCAPA members backed by the Maoists equipped with arms and bombs assembled at Radhanagar school playground and ordered us to join their procession to be held at Jhargram. When we opposed them, they started to beat us."

Investigation Into Trafficking Of Women

From the Indian Express:
While hearing a PIL on trafficking of women, the Calcutta High Court on Friday said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is an appropriate agency to conduct a probe in this regard, considering that it involves international racket.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharjee also asked the CBI to appear in the case.

This comes after Advocate General Bolai Roy, who appearing on behalf of the state government, told the court that a probe conducted by the CID found that an inter-state as well as international rackets were involved in trafficking of women, and consequently the state police took help from the Interpol.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

50 Great Voices

From Women's History Sources:

50 Great Voices, a new series from National Public Radio, profiles "singers who've made their mark internationally and across recorded history." Each of the profiles features audio recordings of songs and interview clips.

China: Female Imams Lead The Way

From KOSU:

It is 5:50 in the morning, and dark shadows scurry through narrow alleys to the mosque, as the call to prayer echoes from a minaret in Kaifeng. This city in central China’s Henan province has an Islamic enclave, where Muslims have lived for more than 1,000 years.

In an alleyway called Wangjia hutong, women go to their own mosque, where Yao Baoxia leads prayers. For 14 years, Yao has been a female imam, or ahong as they are called here, a word derived from Persian.

As she leads the service, Yao stands alongside the other women, not in front of them as a male imam would. But she says her role is the same as a male imam.

“The status is the same,” Yao says confidently. “Men and women are equal here, maybe because we are a socialist country.”

China has an estimated 21 million Muslims, who have developed their own set of Islamic practices with Chinese characteristics. The biggest difference is the development of independent women’s mosques with female imams, something scholars who have researched the issue say is unique to China.

Cancer Links To Cleaning Products

From WebMD:
Frequent use of household cleaning products may boost reast cancer risk, according to a new study that drew criticism from medical experts and the cleaning industry.

Air fresheners and products to control mold and mildew were particularly linked, says researcher Julia Brody, PhD, executive director of the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass., who led the study.

It is published in the journal Environmental Health.

The study is believed to be the first published report linking household cleaning products and breast cancer risk. "Many laboratory studies led us to be concerned about particular compounds in cleaning products and air fresheners," Brody tells WebMD.

While Brody sees a link, others are not convinced. ''What this study really shows is, when a study relies on people's memory of their exposure, and people are concerned about that exposure, you don't get reliable answers," says Michael Thun, MD, vice president emeritus of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

Schwarzenegger Appoints Davis To Key Role

From Imperial Valley News:
Governor Schwarzenegger announces appointment of Geena Davis to the California Commission on the Status of Women. Actress Geena Davis, 54, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the Commission on the Status of Women. She is an actor and has had roles in “Tootsie,” “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “Earth Girls are Easy,” “Angie,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Stuart Little.” Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1989 for her role in “The Accidental Tourist” and the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama in 2006 for “Commander in Chief.” She was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her role in “Thelma and Louise” and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in “A League of Their Own.”

Davis is a member of Mensa International, founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and its programming arm See Jane, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters and reduce gender stereotyping in media made for children 11 and under. She is a partner with United Nations Development Fund for Women in an effort to change the way media represents women and girls, to encourage media to present and investigate issues of grave importance to women and to use a “gender” lens when reporting. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Davis is a Democrat.

Canada: Funding For Missing Women in Limbo

From the Province:
After announcing in March that it would spend $10 million on the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada, the federal government has sat on its hands, doing nothing, federal Liberals charged Wednesday.

Speaking in Winnipeg at the site of the three-day Assembly of First Nations national meeting, Liberal MP Anita Neville called the Conservative government's response since its announcement "tepid."

"Nothing has been forthcoming and we're waiting," she said.

It's believed that 580 aboriginal girls and women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada since 1970, more than half of them since 2000.

"It is, in our view, sexualized, racialized violence, and it requires a comprehensive strategy," said Neville, speaking at a news conference along with federal Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Todd Russell.

Neville said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has promised a public inquiry into the matter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Burqa Question

From the Hindustan Times:

Syria has issued a directive banning women who wear full-face veils from attending public and private universities, the state-run news agency Sana reported today. The directive reportedly came from the country's Minister of Higher Education, Ghaith Barakat. The full-face veil, or niqab, that is worn by some Muslim women is "inconsistent with the values and ethics of academic traditions", he said.

The ministry had received requests for the ban from a large number of university students and their families, Sana reported. The ban applies to women wearing full-face veils, not those who only wear headscarves.

From the Guardian:

A government minister has signalled that a French-style ban on women wearing burqas is unlikely to be replicated in the UK, because, he said, the idea was "unBritish" and "undesirable".

The immigration minister, Damian Green, said banning Muslim women from covering their faces in public would be at odds with the UK's "tolerant and mutually respectful society".

The move to ban the burqa was backed by France's lower house last week. With public support, it is expected to pass through the upper house in September. The law will fine women who continue wearing the face covering €150 (£117). Men who make women wear the cover will be given a one-year prison sentence or £25,000 fine.

From the Times of India:

As debate intensifies across Europe on banning the Islamic full-body veil at public places, a British minister has defended a Muslim woman's right to wear the burqa and says it is empowering.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said women were "empowered" by the freedom to wear the face coverings.

Her comments came after her colleague, immigration minister Damian Green, resisted demands from within the Tory party to ban the burqa, according to Daily Mail.

Green said a ban would be "rather un-British" and run contrary to the conventions of a "tolerant and mutually respectful society".

Spanish lawmakers will debate barring burqas in public, joining other European countries considering similar moves on the grounds that the body-covering garments are degrading to women, the leading opposition party said Sunday.

Top officials of the ruling Socialist Party have indicated they will support the proposal by the opposition Popular Party, making a ban likely unless the country's highest court rules it unconstitutional.

A debate in Spain's lower house has been set by the Popular Party for Tuesday or Wednesday, the party said.

No vote will be scheduled until after the debate, and Spain's Parliament usually goes on vacation for a month starting in late July or early August.

LIBERAL senator Cory Bernardi has called for Australia to follow the lead of France and ban the burqa, describing it as "the most public symbol of fundamentalist Islam".

In a regular internet blog, the South Australian senator said there were supporters of fundamentalist Islam In a regular internet blog, the South Australian senator said there were supportes of fundamentalist Islam who wanted to impose sharia, or Islamic law, in Australia.

"This is a system where women are considered as second class citizens and homosexuals can be hanged," Senator Bernardi said.

"Why then are there defenders of what I consider the most public symbol of fundamentalist Islam in Australia the face-covering veil?

"It beggars belief that these civil rights activists don't recognise that they are defending a political agenda that has the cessation of civil rights as its ultimate goal."

Many feminists say the burqa is an instrument of the oppression of women and a "manifestation of misogyny", and thus should be prohibited. But there is also a xenophobic undertone to the anti-burqa lobby: such dress is seen as the rig-out of "bloody foreigners". Why should they be coming over here and imposing their weird/backward appearance on us represents that line of thinking.

By 335 votes to one, last week France’s National Assembly gave a first reading to a bill to ban the full-face veil, or burqa, in public places -- such as the street, shops, government offices and hospitals. The Socialists, Communists and Greens boycotted the vote. The Minister of Justice, Michèle Alliot-Marie, who presented the bill, described the vote as a victory for democracy and for France’s Republican values.

Among the bill’s provisions is a fine of 150 euros for those caught wearing a burqa, and/or a course in citizenship. Anyone convicted of forcing a woman to wear a burqa could face a fine of 30,000 euros and a year in jail.

The bill, however, is a long way from passing into law. It must first be approved by the Senate in September and satisfy France’s Constitutional Court, by no means a foregone conclusion.

Two journalists from Eesti Ekspress weekly who were wearing burqa, the traditional full-face veil of Moslem women, were banned from the government press conference last week.

The two journalists were planning to ask for the position of the government with regard to wearing burqas, but were stopped by the press office security service. "We have a small problem. There are..... some people," was how the security guard reported the situation over the telephone.

When prime minister Andrus Ansip saw the two journalists, he told them angrily: "The government press conference is no place for jokes!" He and other government ministers then entered the press conference room, leaving the two journalists behind the closed doors.

The journalists then asked the security guard why they were banned from the press conference and were told that "you cannot enter wearing this." When asked why, the guard said: "Because the PM said so!"

Canada: Women in Need House III

From the Edmonton Journal:
Located inside a hidden, highly secured Edmonton-area home, WIN III is the only shelter in the country specifically designed for immigrant women fleeing domestic violence.

The five-bedroom home, which can house two families or four women at a time, is the brainchild of Edmonton Women's Shelter Ltd., operated by Changing Together, a local centre for immigrant women, and staff say it's been full since they opened three months ago.

"To see women who thought they had no place to go come in and say 'Thank you for accepting me' -- that's the moment you know this project is important to our community," explains Sandra Danco, Edmonton Women's Shelter director.

Edmonton is home to more than 143,000 immigrants, just over half of them female. The United Way says one in 10 immigrant women in Canada is a victim of violence.

Japan: Legends of the Deep

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE elderly women sit in a semicircle by a smouldering fire, warming up after diving for shellfish delicacies in the cool waters off the coast of Toba in Japan. These women, called ama - Japanese for women of the sea - are part of a tradition spanning thousands of years. Their diving practice is mentioned in ancient classical literature and there's a reference to ama dating back to AD927 in Japan's Heian period.

Toba, at the north-eastern end of the Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture, once flourished as the castle town of the Kuki family, who ruled the region from the 16th century. Today, with its many offshore islands, Toba is a popular holiday destination for beach-goers, surfers and seafood lovers

Appeal by Comfort Women

From the Inquirer:
Elderly women, who were victims of sexual abuse by the Japanese invaders in World War II, on Monday asked President Benigno Aquino III to take up their cause and ask Japan to apologize and legally compensate the so-called “comfort women.”

The members of the Malaya Lolas, the remaining survivors of the Mapaniqui Siege of 1944, filed on a supplemental motion for reconsideration of a Supreme Court decision that dismissed their petition to compel the Philippine government to demand apology and compensation from Japan.

The group, through their lawyers Harry Roque and Rommel Bagares, also scored the high tribunal for plagiarizing the decision that dismissed their demand for an official apology and other forms of reparation against the Japanese government before the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Women's Role In Holocaust

From the New York Times:
Amid the horrors of the Holocaust, the atrocities perpetrated by a few brutal women have always stood out, like aberrations of nature.

There were notorious camp guards like Ilse Koch and Irma Grese. And lesser known killers like Erna Petri, the wife of an SS officer and a mother who was convicted of shooting to death six Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland; or Johanna Altvater Zelle, a German secretary accused of child murder in the Volodymyr-Volynskyy ghetto in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

The Nazi killing machine was undoubtedly a male-dominated affair. But according to new research, the participation of German women in the genocide, as perpetrators, accomplices or passive witnesses, was far greater than previously thought.

The researcher, Wendy Lower, an American historian now living in Munich, has drawn attention to the number of seemingly ordinary German women who willingly went out to the Nazi-occupied eastern territories as part of the war effort, to areas where genocide was openly occurring.

“Thousands would be a conservative estimate,” Ms. Lower said in an interview in Jerusalem last week.

While most did not bloody their own hands, the acts of those who did seemed all the more perverse because they operated outside the concentration camp system, on their own initiative.

Ms. Lower’s findings shed new light on the Holocaust from a gender perspective, according to experts, and have further underlined the importance of the role of the lower echelons in the Nazi killing apparatus.

Uzbekistan: Sterilisation of Women

Further to this post: Uzbek Women Sterilised By Stealth, comes this article from Associated Press:

According to rights groups, victims and health officials, Rakhimbayeva is one of hundreds of Uzbek women who have been surgically sterilized without their knowledge or consent in a program designed to prevent overpopulation from fueling unrest.

Human rights advocates and doctors say autocratic President Islam Karimov this year ramped up a sterilization campaign he initiated in the late 1990s. In a decree issued in February, the Health Ministry ordered all medical facilities to "strengthen control over the medical examination of women of childbearing age."

The decree also said that "surgical contraception should be provided free of charge" to women who volunteer for the procedure.

It did not specifically mandate sterilizations, but critics allege that doctors have come under direct pressure from the government to perform them: "The order comes from the very top," said Khaitboy Yakubov, head of the Najot human rights group in Uzbekistan.

Uzbek authorities ignored numerous requests by The Associated Press to comment on the issue. Most Western media organizations have been driven from the country, and government officials face serious reprisals for contacts with foreign journalists. However, the AP was able to interview several doctors, sterilized women and a former health official, some on condition of anonymity.

Hamas: Women Banned From Smoking

From Associated Press:
Gaza's Hamas rulers are banning women from smoking water pipes in cafes, claiming it violates tradition and leads to divorce.

Plainclothes security officials handed out the ban order to Gaza City cafes over the weekend.

Police spokesman Ayman Batneiji said Sunday that officers are enforcing Gazan traditions. He said husbands often divorce women seen smoking in public but offered no evidence to support that claim.

The pipes are popular with both men and women in Gaza.

Since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, the Islamic Hamas has been trying to impose its strict interpretation of Islam on residents. Schoolgirls, for example, have been ordered to wear modest attire and male hair stylists are banned from women's salons.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Lulu" - still a threat 40 years later

From CNN:

California's parole board Tuesday refused to release onetime Manson family acolyte Leslie Van Houten, finding the 60-year-old remains dangerous more than four decades after the group's Southern California murder spree.

The board found that Van Houten "still poses a risk to society," spokesman Luis Patino said. The decision marks the 19th time that she has been denied parole, and she won't be eligible again until 2013, Patino said.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira praised the decision.

"The crime itself was absolutely horrendous -- the brutal slaughter of two individuals in their home, in a cruel and very horrifying manner," said Sequeira. "It is our position that she never really has fully accepted responsibility for her crimes."

And there she should remain - no sympathy here.

Women Recount WWII Service

From the Jacksonville Patriot:
Dorothy Gardner, a former Army nurse, and Betty Krause, a former Navy WAVE, both Hot Springs Village residents, shared their World War II experiences with members of the Jacksonville Historical Society at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on Thursday.

Both women said they joined their respective services up to two years after the entry of the U.S. into World War II, not because of the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each said they knew where Pearl Harbor was, but distance softened the impact. They did not become aware of what the attack signified until later.

Women War Correspondents

From the Telegraph:
The early women war correspondents changed forever how conflict was reported. Here we tell their stories of courage and cunning.

'Blondes,' the American war reporter Martha Gellhorn was once advised by her father, 'only work under compulsion.'

It was early in the 20th century and a time when women were to be seen and not heard. Certainly not in print or on radio, and decisively not on a battlefield. But George Gellhorn's restive, enquiring daughter spent the bulk of that century following its wars, talking her way on to the fronts around the world.

She was not alone. During the Second World War more and more women reporters negotiated their way off the society desks and into the newsrooms, challenging head on the prevailing belief that women should neither witness battle, nor report it.

These women filed stories brewed in equal parts from exigency and personal vision, and in so doing changed how war was reported .

I stumbled on many of these female pioneers in war reporting while I was researching my novel, The Postmistress (Viking), and their grace and grit inspired my heroine, who is broadcasting from London on the Blitz.

Korea: Groom School

From the Chosun Ilbo:
Of the 309,759 couples who tied the knot in Korea last year, 33,300 or around 10 percent were of different ethnic origin. Some 110,000 women from China, Mongolia and Southeast Asian countries live in Korea, many of them married to Koreans they barely knew before marriage and headed for an acrimonious divorce.

In order to deal with these problems, the Justice Ministry on Sunday announced plans requiring Korean men who want to marry a foreign woman to attend classes on "marriage ethics." The classes will start this August at immigration offices before men head out to China or Southeast Asia in search of a foreign bride. Each class will last three to four hours and will focus on teaching men that it is wrong to think that they are buying a wife and to hide things about themselves like previous marriages or problems with alcohol. The government will not grant visas to foreign brides of men who failed to take those classes.

Ireland: Justice For Magdalene Women

From the Irish Times:
THE NATIONAL Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) is to write to all female TDs, Senators, and local councillors calling on them to support calls for justice for survivors of the Magdalene laundries.

Susan McKay, director of the NWCI, has written to the women public representatives reminding them that "justice must be done and a clear and resounding message must emanate from Government that the treatment of these women and their children was a severe violation of their human rights".

According to a statement yesterday from the Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) group, the NWCI passed a motion at its recent annual general meeting supporting the JFM campaign to bring about a formal apology and a distinct redress scheme for all Magdalene survivors.

Mari Steed of JFM said they were pleased to receive NWCI support "to correct a historic injustice, one that targeted women and young girls exclusively".

Ms McKay said the NWCI "stands firmly behind those seeking justice for women incarcerated in the Magdalene laundries and supports their call for the establishment of a distinct redress scheme for Magdalene survivors."

Over recent weeks the JFM campaign has received the encouragement of the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady while cross-party TDs, including those in Government, have tabled six separate parliamentary questions on the issue of justice for the Magdalene women.

Brazil: 10 Women Killed Daily by Domestic Violence

From CNN:
Far from the happy, melodic sway of the "Girl from Ipanema" stereotype, life is no beach for women in Brazil.

Every day, 10 women are killed in domestic violence cases in a country known for its glorious models, according to a new study released Sunday.

And it takes a high-profile incident -- such as the case against a Brazilian goalkeeper who is the prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of a woman -- to bring attention to the problem, said Women's Affairs Minister Nilcea Freire.

ARRESTED: Women of the Wall leader

From Haaretz:
Jerusalem Police on Monday arrested the leader of the Women of the Wall group for carrying a Torah scroll while praying at the Western Wall, Army Radio reported.

Anat Hoffman, the women's prayer group leader, was arrested and taken in for questioning after she was caught holding a Torah scroll in violation of a High Court ruling prohibiting women from reading the Torah at the Western Wall.

Dozens of Women of the Wall members arrived at the holy site on Monday morning for the traditional festive prayer in honor of the first day of the month of Av.

"This is another example of the ultra-Orthodox establishment imposing its stances on the public," a spokeswoman for the group said.

Friday, July 9, 2010

UPDATE: Iran Won't Stone Woman To Death

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Iran has announced that a woman will not be stoned to death after being convicted of adultery following an international outcry, according to British news reports.

The Islamic republic's London embassy issued a statement, saying "according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran [Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani] will not be executed by stoning", according to Britain's The Times newspaper.

But the statement did not say whether the 43-year-old would be spared or executed by hanging instead, the paper added.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said she was convicted in 2006 or 2007 and has previously received a flogging of 99 lashes.

The United States and Britain have led global condemnation of the planned stoning execution.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday labelled the punishment "medieval", saying it would "disgust and appal" the rest of the world.

"I'm appalled by reports of the imminent execution," he said. "I think that stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world and the continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates in our view a blatant disregard for human rights."

"I think if this punishment were carried out, it would disgust and appal the watching world," he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "Stoning as a means of execution is tantamount to torture. It's barbaric and an abhorrent act."

"We condemn in the strongest terms the use of the practice of stoning anywhere it occurs as a form of legalised death by torture," he said.

A host of prominent names from the worlds of politics and arts signed an open letter condemning the planned stoning on Friday in the Times, which has been running a campaign to halt the execution, Signatories included former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, three former British foreign ministers, and Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timorese president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

American actors Robert De Niro and Robert Redford also signed, as did French actress Juliette Binoche and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

"On top of what she has already endured, Ms Ashtiani faces a gruesome and agonising death," the letter said.

"We urge the Iranian government to overturn this unjust sentence and reconsider Ms Ashtiani's case."

Ethiopian Women

From All Africa:
Birtukan Midekssa, Ethiopia's foremost political prisoner and first woman political party leader in Ethiopian history, enjoyed talking about an allegorical 'future country of Ethiopia' that would become an African oasis of democracy and a bastion of human rights and the rule of law in the continent.

In Birtukan's 'future Ethiopia' women and men would live not only as equals under the law, but also work together to create a progressive and compassionate society in which women are free from domestic violence and sexual exploitation, have access to adequate health and maternal care and are provided education to free them from culturally-enforced ignorance, submissiveness and subjugation. But if the situation of women in the 'present country of Ethiopia' is any indication, Birtukan's 'future country' is in deep, deep trouble.

India: Delhi Women Fear For Safety

From SIFY News:
Nearly 80 percent of Delhi women fear for their safety in the city, a new survey says.

The Delhi government's women and child development department, NGO Jagori and international organisation Unifem conducted the survey.

The survey, released on Thursday, is based on interviews of 5,010 people, including 3,816 women and 944 men. The rest are common witnesses like bus conductors, shopkeepers and auto drivers, who have a probability of witnessing acts of sexual harassment against women.

'Nearly three out of every five women reported facing sexual harassment not only after dark but also through the daytime. But, it is a good sign that 68 percent of the women deal with harassment in some way like confronting the perpetrator or seeking help from family and friends,' said Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, who also looks after women and child development department.

Walia said public transport, buses and roads with faulty street lights are the spaces where women and girls face a high level of sexual harassment.

Malaysia: Islamic Courts Appoint Women

From the Times of India:
The appointment of the first two women judges to Malaysia's Islamic courts was hailed Thursday as a move to address the gender imbalance in the country's religious judiciary.

Premier Najib Razak announced the appointments, made by the king in May, as an example of the government's commitment to transforming the Sharia judiciary.

"The appointments were made to enhance justice in cases involving families and women's rights and to meet current needs," Najib was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama last week.

Islamic courts run in parallel with civil courts in this Malay Muslim-majority country but women say they face much discrimination in Islamic divorce proceedings, inheritance and child custody cases.

Kabul: Women's Prison - An Inside Look

From the Takeaway:
Western countries celebrated the liberation of women in Afghanistan from the Taliban-controlled government when the U.S. invaded in 2001. However, as the war in the country continues in the post-Taliban era, women's rights are not secure. Badam Bagh, Kabul's only prison for women is filled with stories about the violation of women's rights.

In one instance, a 16-year-old girl was sentenced to 18 months in prison after a boy came to her home to propose without sending his parents first; another was arrested when her husband accused her of adultery. The women's prison is an improvement of sorts, before it existed, female prisoners were incarcerated alongside men, and there were reports of rape. But even at Badam Bagh, "The Almond Garden," it becomes clear that Afghan women are still struggling without rights.

The BBC's Lyse Doucet was given rare access to Badam Bagh, Kabul's only prison for women. She found that both the crimes and the punishments are very different for Afghan women than men.

Rise in Trafificking In China

From VOA News:
More than three decades after it began, China's one-child population control policy has some unintended consequences. Because of a traditional preference for boys, thousands of couples abort female fetuses, and the Chinese government says that last year, 119 boys were born for every 100 girls.

The shortage of young women is pushing some families turn to human traffickers to find wives for their sons. The traffickers often go to neighboring Burma, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea to buy or kidnap women.

Members of Burma's Kachin Women's Association comfort three young women sold to Chinese families by human traffickers. The women, aged between 16 and 18, came to China with the promise of a better life. But they found themselves sold as brides to men in rural areas for as little as $700, and kept as virtual prisoners.

Norwegian Support For EAC Women

From the Daily Monitor:
The Norwegian government has pledged to continue supporting East African Women Entrepreneurs in accessing European markets.

Speaking at the passing out of over 20 female participants in the East Africa Women Entrepreneurship Development programme recently, the Norwegian Ambassador, H.E Bjerg S. Leite said: “Norway's contributions must also be based on considerations related to income distribution, fundamental social standards, the environment and food security.”

He said Norway is particularly interested in seeing the progress of the development programme and have products from women enterprises reach the Norwegian, European and other markets.

Villagers Fear For Their Women

From the Hindustan Times:
In yet another case of people being terrorised for falling in love, residents of Daula village have alleged that the khap panchayat of Maicha village in Greater Noida has given out a diktat threatening to abduct women from their village.

The panchayat wants that the upper caste girl who eloped with lower caste boy from Daula village be sent back.

What was supposed to be a matter between two families has blown into a feud between two villages. Following the threat, many residents of Daula village have fled from their homes fearing for the safety of their daughters.

Girls Force Fed For Marriage

This story made news yesterday, although this following article is over a year old, it is still quite relevant today:

the Guardian:

Fears are growing for the fate of thousands of young girls in rural Mauritania, where campaigners say the cruel practice of force-feeding young girls for marriage is making a significant comeback since a military junta took over the West African country.

Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it.

"In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart," said Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households. ''We have gone backwards. We had a Ministry of Women's Affairs. We had achieved a parliamentary quota of 20% of seats. We had female diplomats and governors. The military have set us back by decades, sending us back to our traditional roles. We no longer even have a ministry to talk to." Mauritania has suffered a series of coups since independence from France in 1960. The latest, in August last year, saw General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz seize power after the elected president tried to sack him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Iran: Woman to be stoned to death

From Entertainment Biz:
The political authorities of Iran are being constantly fuzzed by the religious who’s who of the country. Now, a woman is on the verge of being stoned to death as she is suspected to have committed adultery.

43 year old Sakineh Mohammadi was held guilty of having carnal relations with two men simultaneously and with those incumbents who were responsible for her husband’s death in 2005.

Sakineh hails from the Irania city of Tabriz, located in the north-western part of the country. Sakineh was first lashed 99 times for her involvement in infidelity and then she was transferred to the jail. Unfaithfulness is punished with imprisonment all over the world, but in Iran, it seems to be the revisit to the medieval times. Sakineh’s sons have long been endorsing a human rights movement to reach out to the Amnesty to save her life.

India: Military Women

From the Telegraph:
The government has sought a review of a Delhi High Court order that asks the army to grant permanent commission to women officers.

The defence ministry today filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court after the high court issued notices to the army chief, General V.K. Singh, the defence secretary, Pradeep Kumar and the Adjutant General, Lt General Mukesh Sabharwal, on Monday.

Women are recruited into the military only on short service commission (for a maximum of 14 years). Men can qualify for permanent commission depending on their service record.

The high court asked the government to explain its position on directions given by it on March 12 on a petition by 52 women officers of the army and the air force.

In March, the high court had directed that the women should be granted permanent commission in non-combat role.

Iraq: Grim Potwar Future For Widows

From Associated Press:
Three decades of wars, massacres and sectarian killings have left Iraq with as many as a million widows, by Iraqi government count. Hameeda Ayed is one of them.

At 45, with three children, she is part of a vast sisterhood in a tortured land, and for the more than 100,000 who lost their husbands in the U.S.-led invasion and violent aftermath, the struggling postwar government is of little help.

Ayed is entitled to 150,000 dinars (about $130) a month from the government, plus 15,000 dinars (about $12) for each of her children. But after two years of chasing after official papers and signatures on her application, having no friends in high places to grease the wheels for her, she says she is giving up; the endless standing in line was making her neglect the children, aged 10, 12 and 15.

Sport: Caster Can Run

From CBS News:
South African running phenomenon Caster Semenya, who blew past her competition at the Berlin world championships last August, has been cleared to compete as a woman - nearly a year after controversial gender tests put her career on hold. Semenya, 19, has not run competitively for 11 months. During that time she underwent a battery of psychological, gynecological and endocrine tests.

Kenya: Women In Slums Vulnerable

From the Daily Nation:
Women and girls in Nairobi’s slums live under constant threat of sexual violence, a new report says.

Because of this, they are too scared to leave their houses to use communal toilets, says the report to be released on Wednesday by human rights group Amnesty International.

Titled Insecurity and dignity — women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, the report details how the government’s failure to incorporate slums in urban planning has resulted in poor access to services.

“Women in Nairobi’s settlements become prisoners in their own homes at night and sometimes well before it is dark,” AI East African researcher Godfrey Odongo says.

“They need more privacy than men when using the toilet or bathing and inaccessibility of facilities makes them vulnerable to rape.”

Mr Odongo says inability to access the limited communal toilets also puts them at risk of illness.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Haiti: No Justice For Women

From AFP:
The inmates at Haiti's only women's prison cry out in desperation as warden Marie-Yolaine Mathieu makes her rounds, hoping that she will hear their case and perhaps, help secure their release.

This impoverished Caribbean country's broken judicial system has failed its citizens at every turn. But it has been especially delinquent in prosecuting those who face criminal charges but have never been convicted of crimes.

Haiti's main in prison in Port-au-Prince was virtually destroyed by the 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12, and almost all of its estimated 4,000 male prisoners escaped.

But the women's institution -- condemned years ago by UN officials as "cruel and inhumane" -- still holds its unhappy occupants. Built for around 30 inmates houses 300.

Women in Science: Suzanne Cory

From Nature News:
Suzanne Cory became the first elected female president of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) on 7 May. Hers is the latest in a string of recent appointments that have seen women installed in top Australian scientific posts, including that of the chief scientist for Australia and the head of CSIRO, the nation's largest research network.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Helia al-Qusayyer

From One India:
The arrest of the 'First Lady of Al Qaeda,' Heila al-Qusayyer, has rung the alarm bells for the Saudi authorities, who have continued to turn a blind eye to women's participation in the terror outfits, till the recent discovery about her was disclosed.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia believes that her capture signals a need to rethink counter-terrorism strategy and pay more attention to the activities and recruitment of female operatives.

Qusayyer's arrest is an indication how al Qaeda's new strategy has moved women up the jihadi ranks.