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9/7/2000 - Turkey Bans Gay And Lesbian Tourists From Ancient Ruins

Some 800 gay and lesbian tourists were ordered to return to the cruise liner Olympic Voyager and denied access to the Turkish ancient ruins of Effuses by Turkish police. According to U.S. Department of State and White House officials, passengers of the Olympic Voyager "were rounded up from their locations ashore, ordered to board their buses and escorted by the (Turkish) police back to the ship." A spokeswoman for the Turkish Embassy in Washington attempted to dismiss suggestions that Turkish police were bias against gays and lesbians by commenting, "There are hundreds of gays in Turkey. Probably, ordinary people don't like it very much. But it doesn't make any difference."


9/7/2000 - U.S. Marine Sentenced For Sexual Assault Of Okinawan Girl

Kenny K. Titcomb, an U.S. Marine based at the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa was found guilty earlier this week by a military court and sentenced to two years in prison for "committing an indecent act, unlawful entry into a residence, drunken driving and underage drinking and disorderly conduct." Titcomb was charged in July for sexually assaulting a 14-year -old Okinawan girl. Police reports state that the girl's mother was awakened by her daughter's screams and found the Marine on top of her daughter. Women and other human rights activists in Okinawa have fiercely protested the level of U.S. military personnel after a number of assaults on women and girls. The Okinawa Women Against Military Violence reports that more than 4,700 crimes have been committed by U.S. troops in Okinawa, Japan since 1972. Last month another U.S. Marine was sentenced to four years in prison for the rape of an Okinawa woman.


9/5/2000 - Brundtland Announces Support Of Women's Political Quotas In India

Gro Harlem Brundtland the director-general of the World Health Organization vocally announced her unyielding support for a quota system that would reserve a third of the seats in India's Parliament for women. Ms. Brundtland stated that "many factors still worked against girls and women," and described the bill as a very important step for women. The proposed quota system for women has met considerable amounts of controversy and opposition within the parliament. The bill which aims at reserving a third of lower house seats for women has been rejected in the parliament twice and now awaits a scheduled date for discussion. Quotas are proving to be instrumental in the quest for women's political empowerment and ensuring women's voice in decision making. Since the introduction of quotas in Norway, for example, women represent 40% of political seats and in South Africa women account for 30% of seats in all branches of government.


9/5/2000 - Women In Sudan Banned From Working

The governor of Sudan's Khartoum state, Mazoub Khalifa, announced a decree banning women in the capitol city of Khartoum from working "in public places where they are in direct contact with men." Kalifa states that the decree, "is to honour women, uphold their lofty status and put them in the appropriate place that respects the values and observes the tradition of our nation." A survey conducted this week in Khartoum found that the decree was observed in public places where women university students worked.

Sudan has long held a less than favorable record on women's human rights that continues with its refusal to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The country was one of the five countries plus the Vatican that fiercely opposed advancing the Beijing Platform for Action during its five-year review held in June 2000. According to the U.S. Department of State, Sudan serves as a central hub for international terrorist groups including groups formed by Usama Bin Ladin, the Saudi national who remains in Afghanistan as a guest of the extremist Taliban militia. Like Sudan, the Taliban has also imposed a ban on women's employment.


9/5/2000 - Man Fined For Drugging Woman

An Australian man was fined $3,000 for using ecstasy to spike the drink of an unsuspecting young woman in a Melbourne bar. After consuming the spiked drink, the woman reported a jaw ache, difficulty opening her mouth, a racing heart, sleeplessness and could not work due to illness and shaking. The 33-year old man charged with disgraceful conduct and introducing a drug into the body of another person told an Australian court that he "felt sorry for the woman as (he) believed that she was not having fun and felt (he) was doing her a favor by slipping the tablet into her cocktail."


9/1/2000 - Fears Of Asian Sex Trade Increase In Case Of Kidnapped British Woman

A former British Airways fight attendant, Lucie Blackman, disappeared in Tokyo on July 1 and now is believed to been forced into sexual slavery. The father of the missing woman announced earlier this week that his daughter was drugged with heroin and "smuggled out of Japan as part of a sex trade in Western girls." "There is a belief that Lucie along with four other Western girls, was shipped out of the country to Hong Kong, which is the first stage along the road to other places," claims Mr. Blackman, father of Lucie Blackman.

Women's rights activists are urging the international community and governments to develop tougher laws on sexual trafficking that would include 1) punishment for all traffickers that profit from the recruitment, transport and sale of women into prostitution and 2) greater protections and rights for all women who are recruited, transported and sold into prostitution, regardless of their "consent".


9/1/2000 - Prosecutors In China Charge Man With Rape And Murder Of 19 Women

According to Chinese officials, Gu Guangfan launched a two-year killing spree targeting prostitutes in 1997 to avenge his 1989-rape conviction. "Not only did he not think about repenting, he held a woman responsible for his jail time and gradually came to hate all women," reports the Procuratorial Daily. Gu Guangfan was apprehended after he murdered the 19th woman in September 1999.


9/1/2000 - Taliban Announces Rules For United Nations Aid To Afghanistan

Taliban officials have drafted rules stating that the United Nations must base its humanitarian relief efforts in the capital city of Kabul, use the Afghan banking system for financial transactions and allow the Taliban to vet all staff. The United Nations has warned the rules, following the July 5 edict banning foreign agencies to employ women, severely jeopardizes its relief effort as the country faces a debilitating drought.


8/31/2000 - Australia Treatment Of Aborigines And Refugee Seekers Criticized By U.N.; Australia Threatens To Revoke Any U.N. Involvement Including CEDAW Optional Protocol

Earlier this year the Australian government came under criticism by the United Nations (U.N.) because of discriminatory policies. The U.N. Human Rights Committee charged that the Australian mandatory sentencing laws specifically discriminated against Aborigines, its indigenous population. In another close examination of Australia's policies since the termination of the "white Australia policy" that only European descent immigrants be admitted, the U.N. criticized Australia's policy of holding refugee and asylum seekers in detention camps while their refugee applications are reviewed. According to the Refugee Council of Australia, "(Australia) is the only country that detains all people that arrive without documentation, whether they are a risk to the community or not."

The brewing controversy over Australia's refugee policies draws a heightened level of concern for the growing number of Afghan refugee and asylum seekers there. Since 1999, more than 3,700 persons primarily fleeing Afghanistan, China and Iraq sought asylum in Australia. The Australian Department of Immigration reports that between January and July 11, 2000, approximately 1,345 asylum seekers arrived in the country, most of whom were Afghans and Iraqis.

During the U.N. Millennium Summit held in New York this week, Australia announced that it will not ratify the optional protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and asked that the treaty be removed from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's list of international covenants to be signed. On August 28, 2000, Australia announced that it would "veto nearly all visits by U.N. human rights investigators in response to criticisms of (its) treatment of Aborigines and asylum-seekers."


8/31/2000 - African Girl Assaulted During Racial Attack

A 14-year old African girl was assaulted by attendants of a store in the Republic of South Africa's Northern Province. Store attendants assaulted the 14-year old by taking off her blouse and painting white her stomach, chest, back, neck, arms and head. The report was made public by South African President Mbeki during the opening of a conference organized by the South African Human Rights Commission.


8/31/2000 - Prominent Burmese Woman Political Leader's Human Rights Suppressed

Aung San Suu Kyi, the first woman from Southeast Asia to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is currently protesting the Burmese (Myanmar) military restrictions on her freedom of movement. Elected in 1990 while under house arrest as leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi's human rights continue to be violated. She demonstrated against the Burmese military recently with a 7-day protest in her car. Aung San Suu Kyi is forbidden to travel outside the country or meet with her supporters. The United States Department of State and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan have publicly condemned the Burmese military for imposing restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom of movement.


8/30/2000 - Women's Rights Protesters In Mexico Force Legislatures To Overturn Anti-Abortion Bill

Earlier this month legislatures in the state of Guanajuato passed a bill blocking women's access to abortion even in cases of rape. Through the relentless efforts of women's rights and abortion rights protesters coordinated by 29 year-old Veronica Cruz Sanchez, the bill will be overturned and not become law. Also, the move to overturn the bill signals that president-elect Vicente Fox and the National Action Party (PAN) are forced to cautiously draft and consider national policies independent of the Roman Catholic Church. Members of Mexico's Roman Catholic Archdiocese have stated that "even on the case of pregnancy that is the result of rape, we must ask the woman to accept the mysterious designs of God." Women's rights and abortion rights advocates have suspected that this argument of the Roman Catholic Church greatly influenced legislatures of Guanajuato and members of PAN to create restrictions to abortions in cases of rape.


8/30/2000 - Woman In India Tortured For Two-Months Over Dowry

A 20-year old woman was chained to a bed, beaten and denied sufficient amounts of food for a period of two months by the family of her husband because of failure to meet the family's dowry demand. The torture of the woman was caused by her husbands feeling of insecurity about his impotence and fear that she would leave him because of his medical condition. She was able to escape by sheer luck when her mother-in-law forgot to secure the manacles that bound her hands.

The cruel and inhumane treatment of women over dowry disputes is not uncommon in India. Dowry, the act of giving or receiving, is considered illegal in India and punishable under law. However, the exchange of dowries remains widely practiced and dowry disputes are equally settled through torture and burning of women by their husbands and in-laws.


8/30/2000 - Six-Year Old Northern Ireland Girl Abducted By Sex Attacker

A six-year old girl was taken from her hotel room and sexually assaulted on the hotel grounds while vacationing with her family in Majorca. According to an Electronic Telegraph report, the attacker entered the girl's bedroom by climbing over a balcony and then took her to a dark corner on the grounds of the hotel near a swimming pool. The hotel where the six-year old and her family stayed, the Palmanova, has a reputation of being a "lager lout" destination for drunken young Britons causing violent disturbances.


8/29/2000 - Women Integrate Bangladesh Armed Forces

Bangladesh has become the third South Asian country to integrate it’s armed forces by allowing women to serve as officers. Nearly 15,000 women have submitted applications, which is twice the number of recent male applicants. Despite this step forward, Bangladeshi women still face significant obstacles to achieving equality. Only half as many women as men in the country are literate, and women make up less than a tenth of 1.1 million government employees in the nation.


8/29/2000 - Taliban Observers Barred From Olympic Games

Last week, after denying the Taliban’s request to send athletes to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to allow two Afghan observers to attend the games. However, following suggestions by Taliban leaders that this concession constituted IOC recognition of the Taliban, the IOC has revoked these privileges. “They have turned this into a political issue by making a statement that this is recognition…. Those arguments are completely wrong and totally outside what was agreed orally at the meeting. They are no longer invited,” stated IOC spokesman Franklin Servan-Schreiber.


8/29/2000 - Female Athletes And Viewers Central To Sydney Olympics

Women athletes will play a prominent role in the upcoming Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as 270 American women compete against 4,100 women from around the world, the largest number of females ever to compete in the games. Runner Marla Runyan will be the first legally blind athlete to compete on the U.S. team, marking a significant victory for disabled athletes. While female athletes make their mark in Sydney, women around the world are expected to dominate the TV viewing audience. As a result, television broadcasters plan to cater more to women’s interests, giving more air time to women’s sporting events.


8/25/2000 - Saudi Arabia Will Sign CEDAW, With Restrictions

Saudi Arabia announced earlier this week that it would sign the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Officials in the Saudi government stated that they would abide by those statues of the treaty that do not contradict Islamic Sharia law. This conditioning makes the Saudi commitment to the treaty unclear whereas women living in the country suffer from vast human rights restrictions. Women living in Saudi Arabia, including foreign visitors, must follow strict dress code or suffer consequences such as detention or ill treatment; are not allowed to drive; must walk with the company of her husband or close male relative; and must obtain written permission from a male relative in order to travel.


8/25/2000 - Workplace Obstacles For Women Force Government Birthrate Incentives

Japanese culture and work environment where business meetings often begin after 6:00 p.m., where working unpaid overtime is routine and expected, and where employee transfers to different cities are frequent, force many Japanese working women to prioritize their jobs over bearing and raising children. The country's birthrate fell to a record low of 1.34 babies per woman in 1999. In an effort to boost the birthrate, the Japanese government is offering incentives including subsidies for women raising children and extended paid leave for new parents. A few companies and government agencies are slowly beginning to accommodate working women's needs, but a large-scale shift in the Japanese business approach to working women has not yet been realized.


8/25/2000 - Women Sweep High-Level Constitutional Posts In New Zealand

The recent appointment of former high court judge Dame Silvia Cartwright as governor general of New Zealand marks a significant victory for women, as all of the country's top constitutional posts are now held by females. Dame Cartwright has previously broken barriers for women, serving as the first woman chief judge of New Zealand's District Courts and the country's first female high court judge. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote.


8/25/2000 - Smeal and Leno Unveil Back to School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Mavis Leno, chair of the Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan unveiled a Back to School Campaign - a new initiative to raise public awareness of the brutal treatment of women and girls under the Taliban, which has banned them from attending schools, working or leaving their homes unaccompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign includes an Adopt-A-School Project, an Afghan Women's Scholarship Program, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

"As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. Through our Adopt-A-School Project, the Back to School Campaign will make a human connection between girls and boys in the United States and Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban's brutal regime," said Smeal. "We want to help the heroic women who are running home-based schools for girls in Afghanistan, and schools in Pakistan for Afghan refugees" added Smeal.

"Here are some of the donations that people can make: $20 will pay for a classroom chalkboard. $36 would be a teacher's salary for a month," explained Leno. "It's also no small thing to let your child know that they can stand up for human decency and human rights, that they can make a real difference in the life of other people in this world," added Leno.

The American public response to the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign To Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan has been very encouraging. "We have been told by the State Department that our letter-writing campaign thus far has produced more mail than any other single foreign policy issue," said Smeal. The campaign is delivering some 211,000 petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Clinton, urging them to increase humanitarian aid and assistance to the women and girls of Afghanistan.

Frayba Wakili, the first Afghan Scholarship Program recipient who will start college this fall in Maryland, shared her courageous story with reporters. "Imagine being a teacher in a country where it is a crime to teach girls how to count. Imagine living in a country where a child could be killed for learning the alphabet or opening a book. This is what's happening in Afghanistan every day," said Wakili, as tears streamed down her face. "I am one of the fortunate ones, but I can't forget all the girls and women at home who are not as lucky as me," added Wakili.

Learn more about FMF's Back to School Campaign and get involved in the fight to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan.


8/24/2000 - Smeal and Leno Unveil Back To School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Mavis Leno, chair of the Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan today unveiled a Back to School Campaign – a new initiative to raise public awareness of the brutal treatment of women under the Taliban, which has banned women and girls from attending schools, working, or leaving their homes unaccompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign will include an Adopt-A-School Project, Afghan Women’ s Scholarship Project, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

“As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. The Back to School Campaign will make a human connection between girls and boys in the United States with Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban’s brutal regime,” said Smeal.

“We must do more to restore the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. We want to help the heroic women who are running schools for girls in Afghanistan despite the ban and desperately-needed schools for Afghan refugee girls in Pakistan,” added Smeal.

Leno remarked, “Through the Back to School Campaign students, teachers, parents, and Americans generally in the U.S. will have the opportunity to connect directly with Afghan women and girls and let them know that they are not forgotten. When people hear about the Taliban’s atrocities against women, they want to help.”

Local action teams comprised of high school and college students, YWCAs, members of community groups, and collections of friends and colleagues will participate in the three components of the Back to School Campaign:

The Adopt-A-School Project where action teams will “adopt” an Afghan girls’ school in Pakistan or Afghanistan in order to exchange letters, photographs, and drawings with Afghan women and girls who are teachers and students and to help support these schools financially.

The Afghan Women’s Scholarship Program for which action teams will recruit scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities.

A petition drive to urge the U.S. government and the United Nations to do everything in their power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls; to significantly increase education, health, and humanitarian assistance for women and girls in Afghanistan and those living as refugees in Pakistan; and to continue to refuse to grant recognition to the Taliban.


The Feminist Majority Foundation has gathered over 210,000 petitions urging more U.S. action for Afghan women. Smeal and Leno will present petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to coincide with the launching of the Back to School Campaign. President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have all spoken out against gender apartheid and the U.S. has refused to recognize the Taliban regime. “Even before this delivery of petition, the State Department told us that the issue of Afghan women had generated more mail and e-mails any other current foreign policy issue.”

Even before its official launch, the Back to School Campaign is taking off, with pledges from the American Federation of Teachers, YWCAs, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women to adopt schools. One of the first action teams to volunteer for the Adopt-A-School Project was the Olympia, Washington YWCA’s “Girls Without Limits” after-school program. The 60 participants in the program will exchange letters and pictures with students at an Afghan refugee girls’ school in Pakistan, and will help raise funds to help their sisters in Afghanistan purchase pencils, notebooks and other educational supplies.

The Women’s Issues Club at Friends’ Central School outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also will adopt a school. Spearheaded by hig


8/24/2000 - Hollywood Joins Feminist Majority Foundation Back to School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Mavis Leno, chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, joined by her husband Jay Leno, the Rugrat's Cheryl Chase, and Boy Meets World's Trina McGee-Davis, together with Katherine Spillar, national coordinator of the Feminist Majority Foundation, today unveiled a Back to School Campaign. This new initiative will raise public awareness about the brutal treatment of women under the Taliban, an extremist regime which has banned women and girls from attending schools, working, or leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign will include an Adopt-A-School Project, the Afghan Women's Scholarship Project, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

"As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. The Back to School Campaign will make human connections between children in the United States and Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban's brutal regime," said Spillar.

"We must do more to restore the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. We want to help the heroic women who are running clandestine schools for girls in Afghanistan," Mavis Leno remarked. "Through the Back to School Campaign, students, teachers, parents will have the opportunity to connect directly with Afghan women and girls and let them know that they are not forgotten. When people hear about the Taliban's atrocities against women, they want to help."

Local action teams comprised of high school and college students, YWCAs, members of community groups, and collections of friends and colleagues will participate in the three components of the Back to School Campaign:


  • The Adopt-A-School Project where action teams will “adopt” an Afghan girls’ school in Pakistan or Afghanistan in order to exchange letters, photographs, and drawings with Afghan women and girls who are teachers and students and to help support these schools financially.
  • The Afghan Women’s Scholarship Program for which action teams will recruit scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities.
  • A petition drive to urge the U.S. government and the United Nations to do everything in their power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls; to significantly increase education, health, and humanitarian assistance for women and girls in Afghanistan and those living as refugees in Pakistan; and to continue to refuse to grant recognition to the Taliban.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has gathered over 210,000 petitions urging more U.S. action for Afghan women. Smeal and Leno will present petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to coincide with the launching of the Back to School Campaign. President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have all spoken out against gender apartheid and the U.S. has refused to recognize the Taliban regime. “Even before this delivery of petition, the State Department told us that the issue of Afghan women had generated more mail and e-mails any other current foreign policy issue.”

Even at this early stage, the Back to School Campaign is taking off, with pledges from over 80 action teams, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the Children's Museum of Los Angeles. One of the first action teams to volunteer for the Adopt-A-School Project were students at the all-girl Ramona public high school in East Los Angeles. Students at Ramona High School will exchange letters and pictures with students at an Afghan refugee girls school in Pakistan, and will help raise funds to purchase pencils, notebooks and other educational supplies. School Board member David Tokofsky j


8/23/2000 - South African Women At Highest Risk For HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS, the leading cause of death in Africa, disproportionately affects African women. South African women in particular are among the highest risk groups in the world. Statistics indicate that between 23 and 33 percent of pregnant women in South Africa carry the virus. The high rate of infection among mother's results 70,000 South African babies born annually infected with HIV/AIDS. Although clinical trials have shown that the drug AZT administered during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission, the treatment remains widely unavailable to poor women who cannot afford its high price tag. The World Bank AIDS Trust Fund recently announced grants for AIDS prevention, care, and education available to countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.


8/23/2000 - Britain Supports Creation Of International Criminal Court

The British government is planning to announce later this week that it will support the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move by the British government leaves the United States, which opposes the ICC without full exemptions for its military personnel and officials, in stark contrast with the members of the European Union all of whom support the ICC. China, Libya, Saudia Arabia, and the United States represent four of the seven countries opposed to the court.

The establishment of the International Criminal Court would be momentous in the worldwide effort to protect the human rights of women and girls. The court's mandate presents clear language, fort the first time ever in international law, defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, crime of apartheid, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as crimes against humanity. Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Jesse Helms who has blocked U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also adamantly opposes the establishment and jurisdiction of the ICC. For a treaty to be ratified in the U.S., it must be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and by a 2/3 vote of the Senate.