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2/24/1998 - U.S. Supreme Court Lets “Megan’s Law” Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear arguments against “Megan’s Law,” the New Jersey legislation that requires public notification of names and addresses of sex offenders. Petitioners argued that the law violates the double jeopardy and ex post facto clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The clauses provide protection from double punishment for the same crime and infliction of greater punishment, respectively.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sex offenders must be allowed to challenge their own classification with “clear and convincing” evidence. Higher classifications denote a higher risk to the community, allowing a greater segment of the public to be notified of the offenders’ whereabouts.

All 50 states have passed sex offender registration laws. Thirty-seven states require some level of community notification if a sex offender is living in the area.

2/24/1998 - Woman-Owned Restaurant Faces Discrimination Charges

A judge will soon rule on damages up to $1 million in a case of “unintentional sex discrimination” by Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. The Miami establishment, slated as one of the top 10 grossing restaurants in the U.S., was charged by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discriminatory hiring practices against women.

The EEOC claimed that between 1986 and 1991, the restaurant’s owners hired 108 male waiters, and no women. The EEOC offered evidence that 44 percent of the servers in Miami Beach were female. In July of 1997, U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley ruled that Joe’s employment practices had a “disproportionate impact on women.”

Although federal law allows companies to refuse to hire people based on age and sex when the position requires, the co-owners of Joe’s, Grace Weiss and Jo Ann Bass, claim that they simply hired the best-qualified applicants. The restaurant’s owners, known for their stands on social justice and feminist issues, are astonished by the ruling. Bass said that the low numbers of female applicants for server positions never seemed like a problem, “We had women working in all other parts of the restaurant. And there was always a preponderance of women in management.”

While no woman had accused the restaurant of discrimination, the EEOC initiated the case on its own. At present, 18 of the 80 restaurant servers at Joe’s are women.

Feminist News Stories on Affirmative Action

2/23/1998 - Female Doctors Increasingly Harassed

A survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that more than one-third of female doctors age 30-70 have been sexually harassed, while close to half have suffered from gender-based harassment. Out of 4,501 women surveyed, 36.9% reported sexual harassment while 47.7% reported gender-based harassment stemming from being a female in a traditionally male environment.

Younger women doctors reported higher rates of sexual harassment than older ones. Researchers reported that sexual harassment is “primarily a manifestation of power, rather than sexual attraction.”

The survey results indicate an increase in harassment in medical schools. Janet Bickel of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington said, “Many of us hoped that the increasing numbers of women -- now 42% in medical schools -- and the fact that virtually all medical schools and hospitals now have sexual-harassment policies, which we could not say 10 years ago ... would [cause the problem to] be going down faster. This shows that it’s still an issue.”

2/23/1998 - Top Regulator Describes Finance Industry as Old-Boys Club

Chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born, accused the futures industry of lacking sufficient minority and women members. “For too long many of these jobs have been filled based on friendships and family relationships, and an incidental characteristic of these relationships has been that they usually did not include persons of color,” said Born. “Likewise,” said Born, “there are very few Asian Americans or Hispanic Americans in these positions and few women.”

Born singled out the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) during a speech at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, noting that out of 6,000 CBOT and CME members, only 30 are black.

Born called for a “proactive recruitment” of minorities and women. She claimed that “the industry will do itself a disservice if it fails to seek out people from the broadest possible base of participation -- eliminating race, ethnicity and gender barriers.”

2/23/1998 - New Contraception for Women in 2000

The vaginal ring, a new form of contraception for women, is expected to be out on the market by 2000. The ring, developed by Organon Pharmaceuticals, releases hormones similar to those contained in birth control pills.

The ring is inserted into the vaginal vault, is comfortable and can be easily removed. Studies have shown that the ring is as reliable as the pill in preventing pregnancy.

The Population Council is also currently working on a new form of contraception for women that would release hormones through a device similar to a nicotine patch.

“In real life, I think both the patch and the ring will be more effective because the compliance will be higher. It will be easier for women to use it in an effective way,” said Dr. Elof Johnasson of the Population Council.

2/23/1998 - Turkish Commission Trashes Pasha, Recommends Equality

A Turkish commission is recommending that laws giving men a dominant role as pasha, or commander of the family, be thrown out. The commission, led by law professor Turgut Akinturk, wants to revise Turkey’s civil code, eliminating provisions that decree the husband as the head of the family, allow men to decide were the family should live, grant men final say over the raising of the children and force women to obtain permission from their husbands before working outside the home.

The commission is also suggesting a revision of marriage laws, raising the minimum age of marriage from 14 to 18 for girls, and from 14 to 18 for boys. The commission also hopes to reform divorce laws.

The proposals must be approved by the Parliament. If approved, the old laws will be replaced by provisions emphasizing equal rights and duties of both the man and woman.

2/23/1998 - Pro-Choice House Candidate Stands Firm

California Democratic US House candidate Lois Capps is appearing in an ad declaring her stance as a pro-choice candidate. In the ad, Capps claims, “outside interest groups are now attacking me ... So let’s be clear: I am strongly pro-choice. My opponent opposes a woman’s right to choose.” The commercial, now airing, is a direct rebuttal to attacks by a right-wing, Washington DC-based group.

The conservative Campaign for Working Families launched its own commercials, degrading Capps for her pro-choice views. Republican candidate Todd Harris is not running commercials due to a lack of campaign funds.

2/23/1998 - Promise Keepers Fires Staff

The Promise Keepers, a male-only, right-wing Christian group, announced that it will fire its entire staff due to a financial crisis. “Promise Keepers today gave its staff six weeks notice that they will be paid until March 31 and no further. As stable and sufficient donations are received, re-staffing will occur,” said a statement from the group.

The group previously charged a $60 attendance fee to its events, which contributed to 72 percent of its income. Last year Promise Keepers officials decided to stop charging admission to the rallies, counting on donations alone.

2/20/1998 - Great Britain Urges Caribbean Colonies to Abolish Anti-Gay Laws

British officials are putting pressure on the Caribbean colonies to eradicate laws criminalizing homosexuality. The request comes after Cayman Islands authorities refused to let a cruise ship carrying gay vacationers to land because they “could not be counted on to uphold the standards of appropriate behavior expected of visitors.”

Anguilla’s chief minister Hubert Hughes said, “We are a simple Christian society. That is the foundation of our society. People say homosexuality is sinful.” Britain has threatened to use its powers in Parliament to intervene and overturn the laws.

2/20/1998 - Cambodian Media Upholds Degradation of Women

A study conducted by the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia found that the Cambodian media consistently degrade women through stereotypes. Researchers found that women are the focus of only seven percent of the stories in newspapers, but are featured in 20 percent of the photographs and 92 percent of the cartoons and drawings. Eighty percent of the drawings were deemed “obscene,” while more than 50 percent of the cartoons portrayed women as sex objects.

The study also reported that 63 percent of the scenes in Cambodian entertainment portray women in traditional roles, such as wife, mother, lover or daughter.

Tive Sarayeth of the Women’s Media Centre said, according to the media “it looks like the Cambodia woman is concerned mainly with one thing: to find a man and keep him through her feminine charms so she can dedicate herself to suffering for her husband and children for the rest of her life .... It would appear that the media threatens women who do not behave in the way tradition dictates.”

2/20/1998 - British Elections Will Focus on Single Issues

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of allowing British campaign groups to spend unrestricted sums on leafleting and broadcasting before an election. Unlimited spending on propaganda will enable groups to support a specific candidate or deprecate a rival for their views on issues such as abortion and gay and lesbian rights.

Previously, the Representation of the Peoples Act passed in 1983 ordered a 5- pound (8 US dollars) limit on unauthorized campaign spending. Anti-abortion activist Phyllis Bowman brought the case to court after being prosecuted for spending 10,000 pounds (16,000 US dollars) while distributing 25,000 leaflets that condemned a local candidate for pro-choice views.

Amanda Callaghan, a member of the pro-choice Birth Control Trust, is not worried about the ruling. Callaghan said, “We have never shied away from a free and frank exchange of views on this subject.”

2/20/1998 - UK Working Mothers Call for Improved Childcare Options

More than sixty percent of parents in the UK want to see firmer childcare regulations, according to a survey conducted by the magazine Right Start. Colette Kelleher, director of the Daycare Trust, said, “British parents pay the highest childcare bills in Europe. Much more could be done by the Government and employers to help parents meet the costs of childcare.”

The survey found that more than half of working mothers in Britain spend more than 50 pounds (80 US dollars) a week on childcare. British Social Affairs Correspondent Glenda Cooper reported that one in seven working mothers spends half their wages on childcare.

Researchers surveyed more than 500 families and found that almost half rely on unregulated childcare such as friends or family and only 2 percent use workplace nurseries.

One working mother said, “Society still treats working mums as a nasty disease. I had great difficulty finding a childminder -- no help from social services and nobody willing to fit in with my shift work as a nurse.”

2/20/1998 - Free Eating Disorder Screenings Offered

Tipper Gore urged Americans to get screenings for eating disorders. Free anonymous screenings will be offered starting next Monday through the 28th of February. The National Eating Disorders Screening Program is sponsoring free screenings at hospitals, colleges, and treatment centers throughout the United States.

More than 5 million Americans, mainly women, are affected by eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. Around 80 percent of those treated recover.

[Source: AP - February 20, 1998]

2/20/1998 - Free Eating Disorder Screenings Offered

Tipper Gore urged Americans to get screenings for eating disorders. Free anonymous screenings will be offered starting next Monday through the 28th of February. The National Eating Disorders Screening Program is sponsoring free screenings at hospitals, colleges, and treatment centers throughout the United States.

More than 5 million Americans, mainly women, are affected by eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. Around 80 percent of those treated recover.

2/20/1998 - Free Eating Disorder Screenings Offered

Tipper Gore urged Americans to get screenings for eating disorders. Free anonymous screenings will be offered starting next Monday through the 28th of February. The National Eating Disorders Screening Program is sponsoring free screenings at hospitals, colleges, and treatment centers throughout the United States.

More than 5 million Americans, mainly women, are affected by eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. Around 80 percent of those treated recover.

2/19/1998 - Gay Service Members Face Increased Harassment

Gays and lesbians in the military face increasing harassment, according to an annual report released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The report cited 563 “command violations,” during which commanders harassed, pursued and asked members about their sexual orientation in violation of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy put in place by President Clinton.

Harassment by commanders led to 850 discharges from the military for gay, lesbian and bisexual members in 1996, the highest number in five years. No numbers were released by the Pentagon for 1997, despite repeated requests from the Network.

The report included recommendations for decreasing violations, including stricter limits on investigations into sexual orientation, punishing commanders who violate the limits, and offering recourse to officers who are being investigated. The report concluded, “It is time for military leaders to obey the law.”

Feminist News Stories on Sexual Harassment, Assault and Discrimination in the Military

2/19/1998 - Medicaid Recipients Obstructed From Sterilization

A study issued by the National Institutes of Health reports significant barriers for women on Medicaid who desire tubal ligation. The study found that only 59 percent of the 1,200 pregnant women on Medicaid obtained the sterilization procedure after filling out the required forms. Medicaid recipients who want a tubal ligation must first attend two counseling sessions and fill out two consent forms at least 30 days apart.

Andrew R. Davidson, a professor of public health at Columbia University, commented “We as a society have tried to put in place things to protect [the] poor .... The incredible irony is that we’ve created barriers to poor people getting what they want.” The “bureaucratic and institutional barriers” were put in place after government courts found that 100,00 to 150,000 poor women were being sterilized, and many faced threats of withdrawn welfare benefits if they did not undergo tubal ligation.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that about half of all married couples obtain sterilization as a form of contraception with the aid of private insurance. Unplanned pregnancies among poor women rate as high as 75 percent. Many cannot afford abortions, which are not covered by Medicaid.

2/19/1998 - Maryland Governor Vows to Veto Abortion Ban

Maryland state senators are gearing up to vote on a bill that would ban D&X abortions. The bill, which has been introduced three times by Sen. Larry E. Haines, is supported by seven of the eleven members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening (D) promised to veto the resolution if it passes the Senate, despite effects it may have on his reelection campaign and advised the Senate to “reject” the bill. Glendening said, “I obviously know this whole issue of abortion is very serious and is to be treated with the greatest attention and care. But I also believe in the right of a woman in consultation with her doctor to make the decision.”

Feminist News Stories on Aborton

2/19/1998 - United States Ranks Last in Providing Maternity Benefits

A study by the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that working mothers in the United States are given the least generous maternity and nursing benefits in the industrialized world. ILO researchers investigated maternity leave and health benefits required by law in 152 countries. Eighty percent of the countries offer paid maternity leave to women; approximately one-third of those countries allow the leave to last longer than 14 weeks.

The study found that designated breaks for nursing mothers are allowed by law in more than 80 countries, including 45-minute breaks for nursing each day in the Netherlands and a choice between two 30-minute or 15 minute breaks every three hours in Haiti.

The report stated that in 30 percent of the world’s households, women contribute the principal source of income, and 80 percent of women in industrialized nations are expected to work outside the home during their child-bearing years within 10 years. Alfred J. Kahn, a Columbia University professor in comparative social policies commented, “ has only been recently that the country has absorbed the fact that most women are working.”

The United States allows workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993. Many small business advocates oppose mandatory paid maternity leave and benefits, arguing that the government should not be telling them how to run their businesses.

2/19/1998 - Pakistani Woman Sentenced to Death for Marriage

Riffat Affridi, a Pakistani woman, is in hiding after being sentenced to death for marrying a man who is part of a different ethnic group. A Pathan council of tribal elders ruled that Affridi must be shot or stoned to death for violating Pathan “honor.” Affridi’s husband, Kanwar Ahson, is a member of the Mohoajir racial group that represents Indians who immigrated to Pakistan when it became independent in 1947.

Ahson was arrested and charged with having sex outside of marriage, after ethnic riots between the two groups shut down the city of Karachi in which two people died and eight others were seriously wounded.

2/19/1998 - Iowa Denies Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

The Iowa House Judiciary Committee ruled in favor of a bill opposing same-sex marriages. The law denies legal recognition of same-sex marriages obtained in another state. Anti-gay forces cite worries that traditional marriage will be devalued as reasons for the law.

The University of Iowa’s student government passed their own resolution the next day supporting legal gay and lesbian marriages.

Feminist News Stories on Same-Sex Marriage

2/19/1998 - Houston Mayor Prohibits Gay Discrimination

Houston Mayor Lee Brown signed an executive order prohibiting city service and employment workers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The order overturns a 1985 election decision that defeated an ordinance protecting gay and lesbian workers.

Previously, there was no protection from discrimination in local, state or federal law. Former Mayor Jim McConn had signed a similar law in 1979, but the law expired when he left office.

2/19/1998 - Anti-abortion Extremists Plead Guilty to West Coast Bombings

Peter Howard pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for attempting to blow up an abortion clinic. Howard drove a pickup truck into the Family Planning Associates clinic in Bakersfield, California at night and attempted to light containers of fuel in the truck on fire. Howard was stopped by a security guard.

Another anti-abortion extremist, Richard T. Andrews, is expected to plead guilty to setting fires at seven abortion clinics on the West coast between 1992 and 1995. Andrews is charged with eight counts of arson, and faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Under the terms of an agreement, the government is expected to ask for a seven-year term.

Authorities are still searching for Eric Robert Rudolph, a 32-year-old white male with brown hair and blue eyes. He is 5-feet, 10-inches tall, and weighs 150 pounds. Rudolph is wanted in connection with the recent Alabama clinic bombing that killed police officer Robert Sanderson and seriously injured clinic nurse Emily Lyons.

Call 1-888-ATF-BOMB with information regarding the Alabama bombing.

Pictures of Eric Robert Rudolph

Feminist News Stories on Clinic Violence

2/18/1998 - Operation Rescue Director Convicted for HS Demonstration

Flip Benham, director of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue National, was sentenced to a year in jail by Lynchburg, Virginia Circuit Judge Richard Miller for organizing a religious demonstration at a public school. Benham led more than 150 Liberty University students in an anti-abortion demonstration outside E.C. Glass High School. Groups stood outside the school, blocking the paths to the entrances and exits, waving signs and handing out religious and anti-abortion propaganda to the students.

Police officers testified that the demonstration posed a threat to public safety and that Benham refused to leave when he was asked to do so. Benham insists that he had every right to be there.

Benham and Liberty University student organizer, John Reyes, face a year in jail, with six months possible suspension for good behavior. Jeff Brown, another Liberty student and demonstrator, was also convicted of trespassing and will serve six months in jail, with fifteen days suspended.

2/18/1998 - D.C. Police Officer Charged With Rape

Two weeks after the incident was reported, authorities in Prince George County, Maryland arrested D.C. police officer Daniel Girard Coles, Jr. for second-degree rape. Coles, an eight year police veteran, is charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in his home and in his van.

Coles was released on a $1,000 bond and ordered not to have any contact with the girl, or other minors and to give up possession of his handgun. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.