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The Taliban militia group sent a letter to Sergio de Mello, the United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, stating that they would no longer allow foreign Muslim women in the country unless accompanied by a close male relative. If the new law is enforced, U.N. programs for women and girls could face enormous setbacks.
The United Nations had been increasing the number of Muslim women working in Afghanistan. U.N. officials had believed that the women would be more accepted by the Taliban.
Although Mello wrote his own letter protesting the decree, no response has been received.
Stop Gender Apartheid
Sgt. Maj. Gene C. McKinney, the Army’s former top enlisted man, was acquitted of 18 counts of sexual misconduct by a military jury. McKinney was convicted on one count of obstructing justice in lieu of a telephone conversation in which he told an accuser to testify that no wrong-doing had taken place.
The women who testified against McKinney were “shocked” at the verdict. Plaintiff’s attorney Susan Barnes said, “Women were put on trial here. Eventually women will be able to get justice in an Army court. But they didn’t get it in here.”
Some of the women who testified will be leaving their Army posts. Sentencing for the obstruction of justice charge will be issued today. McKinney faces up to 5 years in jail, loss of rank and benefits.
Sgt. Maj. McKinney may have been acquitted for sexual misconduct, but the case is forcing military personnel to rethink their own behavior, says Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School. Retired Army Col. Harry Summers commented, “This case is a warning to us that something’s wrong .... And I think it’s a warning to everybody in the military to mind their P’s and Q’s.”
Coughlin also stated that women, who make up about 14 percent of the military, may be discouraged from bringing forth sexual misconduct charges, after the McKinney trial in which the plaintiffs’ character was routinely brought into question.
The Army shut down its sexual harassment hotline last year. The hotline, which was created after scores of women reported incidents at the Aberdeen Proving Ground training center in Maryland, received more than 8,300 calls. The hotline was discontinued in an effort to encourage military personnel to “go through the normal chain of command to lodge complaints,” said Army officials.
A survey issued by USA Today found that women totaled only one-fourth of law clerks hired by the U.S. Supreme Court, around 5% of clerks were Asian, less than 2% were African-American, and even less were Hispanic.
Investigators found an ‘old-boys club’ system of hiring law clerks, including hiring only Harvard, Yale or other elite schools’ top graduates, taking references from previous law clerks and from specific appeals court judges. The Supreme Court is immune to its own laws which prohibit discriminatory hiring practices.
Critics of the system worry that the country is misrepresented and that a majority of white male law clerks could produce a prejudice in draft opinions and in deciding which cases are heard. “Clerks are (the justices’) emissaries to the world .... People of different backgrounds bring in some different thinking for the justices. If they are all white males, you just perpetuate the dominance of males in the legal profession,” said former law clerk Stetson University law professor Mark Brown.
Catawba College professor Martha Swann said, “A case that doesn’t look important to a white male clerk from the Northeast may be important to a woman from California .... If you have all white males from Harvard as clerks, they won’t intentionally be biased, but they will be.”
A jury of 13 United Methodist clerics found Rev. Jimmy Creech not guilty of violating church rules when he performed a marriage ceremony for two lesbian parishioners. Creech has been reinstated as minister of the First United Methodist Church in Omaha.
Although the Methodist church’s “Social Principles” includes a 1996 order that ministers should not conduct same-sex marriage, jurors found that the principles are merely guidelines, rather than rules.
“I don't know the implications of their decision,'' Creech said in his sermon on Sunday, ``But I believe it's the beginning of a reversal of growing hostility and exclusion of gay and lesbians in the United Methodist Church.''
Feminist News Stories on Same Sex Marriage
3/16/1998 - FDA Approves Cheaper Osteoporosis Test
The Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of an ultrasound machine that tests for osteoporosis. Women can place their foot into the Hologic Inc.’s Sahara Bone Sonometer. The sonometer then measures the density of the heel by sending high-frequency sound waves through the bones, and comparing the speed of the sound waves through the heel.
The Sahara costs $30,000 and patients will pay around $40 for a test. Currently, physicians must use large x-ray machines that cost $70,000-$150,000 to test for osteoporosis. Women generally pay $127 for an x-ray test.
Around 10 million Americans, most of whom are women, suffer from Osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease.
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said, “Early diagnosis and treatment will improve the quality of life for millions of Americans who are at risk of fractures related to this condition.”
3/16/1998 - Delta Burke Launches Clothes Line for Real Women
Actress Delta Burke will be in D.C.’s Dupont Circle Crown Books on Wednesday to sign her new book, Delta Style: Eve Wasn’t a Size Six and Neither Am I. Burke is also launching a line of clothing for women sizes 14 to 26.
The average woman in the United States is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 144 pounds; around 50 percent wear a size 14 and larger.
3/13/1998 - Poverty in U.S. Strikes Women, Working Families
A survey released by the VanAmburg Group, Inc. concluded that the majority of hungry people in the United States are white, female, very old or very young and working. Director of Tufts University Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy J. Larry Brown said, “The data run counter to almost every stereotype we have of those who need assistance .... It’s mainly families that are playing by the rules -- working or trying to work.”
The study was commissioned by Second Harvest food banks, whose workers provided food to 21 million people in 1997. Researchers performed one-on-one surveys of approximately 28,000 recipients of food bank provisions and received 11,000 mail surveys from charities.
Researchers found that two-thirds of those in need of assistance were women, 54 percent were senior citizens or children and almost half were white. Thirty-six had a high school diploma or GED, and 39 percent of the families had at least one adult with a job.
Chairman of the House nutrition subcommittee Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) is pushing to increase federal funding for donations to food banks. Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH), who performed his own survey of food banks with the same results, is urging Congress to increase the minimum wage.
3/13/1998 - Kenya Women Suffer Most During Conflicts
The Kenya chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) found that women suffer the most during ethnic conflicts. A fact-finding mission revealed that women living in and around areas of repeated civil conflicts experience increased violence, poverty and health and hygiene problems.
FIDA-Kenya member Njoki Ndung’u reported, “There are many internally displaced people in Kenya today and it is unfortunate that the most affected are women .... We have even encountered cases of rape but the women are too poor to litigate.”
Interviewers talked to widows who are losing property because they have no way to prove that it belongs to them. FIDA also reported on 150 women and 400 children that are camped at a Catholic church in Lamurdiac. The women are being forced to protect the camp themselves, and are living on one meal a day.
Ndung’u added, “Special needs of women concerning personal hygiene and their health and dignity are undermined in such situations.”
FIDA-Kenya is urging the Kenya government to set up a relief fund for victims of the violence that would enable the women to gain access to their land and rebuild their homes.
A jury of United Methodist Church ministers will rule on charges that the Rev. Jimmy Creech disobeyed United Methodist Church rules when he performed a unity ceremony for two of his female parishioners. Rev. Loren Ekdahl said that the ceremony was an “unauthorized ritual conducted as if it were an official rite of the church.”
Creech responded, “These two women are members of [my church] and I was responding to them as a pastor, to give them pastoral care ... [the ceremony was] a celebration of two people’s commitment of love and fidelity to one another.”
The trial marks the first time the Methodist Church has pressed charges against a minister for performing a same-sex marriage. If found guilty, Creech could lose all his ministerial credentials. Rev. Creech has vowed to perform similar ceremonies if reinstated.
Feminist News Stories on Same-Sex Marriage
British prisons will release up to 150 sex offenders, including rapists and pedophiles, without supervision in the next two years. The release comes as a result of a loophole created by the British Criminal Justice Act of 1991, which requires people convicted of sex crimes after 1992 to be supervised after their release.
Sex offenders convicted before 1992 will not be added to a national British sex offenders register. The register is similar to the U.S. state-level registers created under Megan’s Law, which requires public notification when a convicted sex offender is living in their area.
Residents of Sydney, Australia attended the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras this week. This year marked the festival’s 20th anniversary. Sydney lawyer and journalist David Marr said, “behind the frivolity of the parade, the message is that there is unfinished business. In its outrageous, flamboyant way Mardi Gras is a reminder that the campaign for fairness and good sense goes on.”
Local politicians support the festivities, acknowledging the “pink dollar” that adds around $20 million to Sydney’s economy, and praised the parade for its reflection of “tolerance and diversity.”
The annual event began in 1978, when homosexuality was illegal and those convicted faced up to 14 years in prison. Sydney gay men held a street demonstration and coming-out party, protesting the law. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Australia in 1984.
In a White House ceremony marking International Women’s Day First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the Taliban militia group for its violations of women’s human rights in Afghanistan. She said, “We must give voice to women in Afghanistan, where women are brutalized and silenced by the Taliban -- where girls are barred from school, where thousands of women cannot go to work, leave home alone or get the health care they need. And were those who don’t follow every rule of attire or conduct are punished with beatings, whippings, even death.”
President Clinton commented, “You know, we always say that human rights must be a central pillar of America’s foreign policy, but that is meaningless if those rights are not fully enjoyed by half the people on the planet.” The United States government is withholding official recognition of the Taliban.
Clinton announced that the United States will provide $10 million towards alliances with governments and non-governmental organizations to help end violence against women. He said, “All too often, we know violence limits the choices open to women and young girls, damaging their health, disrupting their lives, obstructing their full participation in society.”
Clinton also announced that he was sending a letter to the Senate leaders asking them to ratify the women human rights treaty, CEDAW, that would ban all forms of discrimination against women.
Mrs. Clinton also commented on the one million women who are trafficked into the United States from Russia and elsewhere. “Those women and girls are desperate for economic opportunity .... They think they’re applying for jobs as babysitters, waitresses, and sales clerks. Many think they are following their dreams and instead, they find themselves in a nightmare, sold as part of an international trade in human beings and forced into modern-day slavery.”
President Clinton vowed to “step up our public education campaigns abroad in an attempt to stop trafficking at its source,” and announced that he had asked Attorney General Reno to investigate the efficiency of laws related towards violence against women in the United States.
Also in attendance were U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and U.N. Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette.
Remarks made by President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton marking International Women's Day
3/12/1998 - Mail-Order Brides Risk Domestic Violence Abuse
Western companies are making millions in a booming mail-order bride and “romance tour” industry that not only degrades women but also exposes many to domestic abuse. Mail- order bride companies feature women from Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America in catalogues and on Web sites. Many of the women are portrayed as “traditional, family-oriented” and “untainted by Western feminism,” said a recent Washington Post article.
Men pay up to $5,000 for “romance tours” through Russia that include socials, where women typically outnumber the men 5 to 1.
Men who have found a bride through the services can petition the INS for a visa that allows the fiancee to stay in the United States for 90 days. If the couple is not married at the end of the 90 days, the woman must return home. Although the U.S. Congress passed a 1996 bill that requires the agencies to inform the women about marriage fraud, legal residency and domestic violence or face a $20,000 fine, many of the women find themselves with an abusive partner.
Gillian Caldwell, co-director of Global Survival Network, studied trafficking of Russian women to the United States. Caldwell said, “These women are invisible unless some lunatic walks into a courthouse and shoots his mail-order wife.” In 1995, a man shot and murdered his wife, whom he met through a mail-order agency, in a Seattle courtroom.
The INS passed a rule in 1996 that allows women to file for residency on their own if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. However, foreign language barriers and ignorance of U.S. law deters many women from filing.
Leslye Orloff, program development director at Ayuda, a nonprofit legal service for immigrants, said that refugee advocacy groups want to require Americans to provide information on criminal records or any protective orders that may have been issued against them before seeking a mail-order bride.
Domestic Violence Information Center
3/12/1998 - DC Metro Female Mechanics Make Mark
Five of the six female mechanics working for the Washington, D.C. Metro are applying for six manager’s positions in the male-dominated rail maintenance division. Metro is trying to increase the number of women in higher-up positions.
Currently there are 1,446 women out of 8,173 employees. The mechanics’ supervisor, Lemuel Proctor, says he would like to see the women in his division so that they could make conditions better for all women Metro workers.
Sandra Barton, a 37-year-old mechanic, said, “I’d see my sisters coming home from their secretarial jobs, looking very nice but complaining about their jobs and their pay.” The top-ranked mechanics make $45,000 a year in base pay with chances for additional money in overtime and shift-work.
Mechanic Sherri Sims commented on the problems that persist as one of a few female workers. “Sexual harassment used to happen all the time. It was ongoing .... And it still exists, but I know how to deal with it. I let them know if it’s too blatant. I have to say, ‘This is not acceptable.’ Also in the past, I had to suffer retribution when I complained. Now I don’t. They know it’s against the rules.”
Several of the women mechanics received training from Wider Opportunities for Women, an organization which help women obtain non-traditional jobs.
Mechanic Sarah Reynolds leads a group of non-traditional women workers in a group called Women’s Work Inc. The women speak at high schools and community groups. “I tell them there are advantages, like the money. It’s much better than traditional jobs. And some mechanical work, you can do at home. But the most important this, is doing something you really want,” said Reynolds.
The American Association of University Women issued a report stating that girls-only math and science math classes did not improve test scores, but did improve girls’ confidence levels and attitudes towards science and math. Executive director of the AAUW Janice Weinman said, “We went in with an open mind, and what the research shows is that boys and girls both thrive when the elements of good education are there, elements like smaller classes, focused academic curriculum and gender-fair instruction.”
Teachers in California who took part in the same-sex class experiment said that the all-girl classes let the girls learn without “fear or ridicule.”
Critics of the study worry that without improved test scores, the all-girl classes will close. “Clearly this is an attempt to stop the public school single-sex experimentation ... And I think those experiments are a good thing,” said New York University research professor Diane Ravitch.
An earlier study released by the AAUW found that girls routinely fall behind in math and science skills and that female students often face discrimination by male students, teachers and in textbooks.
Vice-President Al Gore called on Congress to pass laws that would end discrimination against women in the health care industry. Gore said that the President’s health care quality commission had recently reported “very strong evidence of the unequal treatment of women in our health care system.” For example, Gore said, women are less likely to be referred to a specialist and three times more likely as men to be told that the problem is “all in their heads.”
Gore said that the administration had asked Congress to pass a law that would allow a woman to see the same OB/GYN throughout her pregnancy, regardless of insurance rules.
Vice President's Remarks on International Women's Day
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will perform a marriage ceremony for 50 same-sex couples at City Hall. The ceremony is open to the first 50 couples to pay the city’s $35 registration free to be recognized as domestic partners and $30 for the ceremony.
Brown said, “On March 25th, we will put a human face on same-sex relationships, challenging America to look at these couples who pay the same taxes, share the same hopes and dreams, contribute equally to society, and yet are denied equality under the law.”
More than three thousand couples have registered with the city as domestic partners since the passing of the 1992 ordinance. City laws also allow retirement and benefits to be extended to same-sex spouses.
Twenty-seven states have prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states since Mayor Brown performed the first same-sex ceremony in 1996.
Feminist News Stories on Same-Sex Marriage
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said that President Clinton has vowed to veto any IMF funding legislation that includes abortion restrictions. Daschle said, “We’re just not going to be blackmailed into accepting language that is totally unacceptable.” White House spokesman Michael McCurry said that President Clinton is “certainly moving” towards a veto.
House Republican conservatives continue to fight for language that would deny U.S. family planning assistance to groups that lobby for reproductive rights. Congress has agreed to allow $1.8 billion in funding for military operations in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf and $387 million for national disaster relief. Conservatives are still arguing for abortion restrictions to be placed in legislation that would provide $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund and approximately $1 billion in past due U.S. payments to the United Nations.
3/11/1998 - Military Rebuts Sex Segregation
Army, Navy and Air Force officials are rejecting a suggestion by an advisory panel of academics and retired military officers to separate men and women in basic training. A senior military official said, “We want to train as we fight ... We are not going to gender segregate.”
The panel, led by former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, based their recommendation on what they saw as a need for safety for the women, and a lack of military values.
Military officials from the three services agree that safety is a concern and will be putting more barriers between the floors in barracks where men and women are housed.
Women are still prohibited from serving in the infantry, tank units or special operations forces that would involve close combat with the enemy, but they are flying in combat aircraft and helicopters.
Women and men are still trained separately in the Marine Corps.
3/11/1998 - Democrat Lois Capps Wins House Seat
Democrat Lois Capps was elected to the House of Representatives in a bid for her late husband’s seat against Republican Tom Bordonaro. At 3 a.m., Capps had 66,424 votes and Bordonaro had 54,635, with 257 out of 356 precincts reporting.
Capps won despite a vicious campaign initiated by extreme anti-abortion groups. The Campaign for Working Families, led by conservative Gary Bauer, spent $200,000 on TV ads supporting Bordonaro and calling attention to Capps’ pro-choice views. The Christian Coalition and the Catholic Alliance handed out flyers and “voter guides” in churches the Sunday before the election.
Bordonaro, a California State Assemblyman, has vowed to compete against Capps in the November elections. “I will be going up against Congresswoman Capps, not the widow Capps,” said Bordonaro.
3/11/1998 - Vatican Will Not Consider Female Deacons
Vatican officials declared that they would not consider allowing women to apply for deaconships. The head of the congregation for Catholic education, Italian Cardinal Pio Laghi, and the head of the congregation for the clergy, Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, said that the church has no reason to change its tradition. When reporters pointed out that female deacons were allowed in early church history, the two replied that the women had been widows who had no real power.
Laghi said, “[the Vatican] believes that the cultural changes which have occurred over the centuries and especially in our time don’t justify rejecting Christian tradition concerning the role of the woman in church.” He added that the male-only decision is because “Christ was a man.”
Deacons are laymen who are ordained to aid in the work of the church when there is a shortage of clergy. Deacons are often called upon to work with the poor and help the priest administer the sacraments to ill church members.
3/11/1998 - Tree Honors Clinic Bombing Victims
The family and friends of Robert Sanderson and Emily Lyons planted a tree outside the Alabama abortion clinic that was bombed in January. Sanderson was killed and Lyons was seriously injured in the blast.
The tree was planted in the crater left by the explosion. Emergency Coalition for Choice member Stephanie Everett said, “In the past 10 years, over 200 life-threatening assaults on abortion providers, escorts and clinics have occurred .... It’s time to stop the agenda of hate.”
FBI officials reported that the brother of the man wanted for the bombing amputated his own hand with a circular chain saw and videotaped the event earlier this week. Officials do not know why he did this, and the family has not issued a comment.
call 1-888-ATF-BOMB with information regarding the bombing.
Pictures of Eric Robert Rudolph
Feminist News Stories on Clinic Violence
3/11/1998 - First Greek Sexual Harassment Conviction
In the first conviction for sexual harassment in Greece, a Greek court convicted Dimitris Assimakopoulos of sexual harassment and punished him with a 10 month suspended prison sentence.
Assimakopoulos, the head of the Veropoulos supermarket chain in Patras, was convicted of harassing a 23-year-old employee. When the woman complained about the harassment, he fired her and three other employees who had witnessed the repeated harassment.
A 1992 Greek survey found that 60 percent of women employees had suffered harassment in the workplace.
3/11/1998 - French Woman Attempts Row Across Atlantic
French woman Peggy Bouchet launched her 25-foot boat from the Canary Islands in an attempt to become the first woman to row across the Atlantic alone. Bouchet, a 24-year-old engineer, plans to row 3,000 miles to the Caribbean Islands in three months.
Bouchet is in contact via radio with the Ocean Rowing Society of Britain.
The Correctional Services of Canada issued a report recommending that apologies and settlement packages be offered to female prison inmates who were involved in LSD studies in the 1960’s. In 1964, psychologist Mark Eveson wrote in theCanadian Journal of Corrections that he had tested LSD on at least 30 women without their consent. Eveson wrote, “It is the fundamental responsibility for every professionally trained worker in this field to carry out such research -- to try to answer in an objective manner the questions posted by our inability to effectively and consistently deal with the offender.”
Although LSD was legal in Canada at the time, many of the subjects suffered disturbing hallucinations and the effects of the study caused permanent damage to at least two of the women.
Dr. Somerville of McGill University condemned the experiments. Somerville said, “You don’t lose your right not to be used as an experimental animal .... It is sometimes said that you can best test the ethical tone of a society by how it treats its most vulnerable, weakest and its most in-need members ... It’s not how you treat the people you like that tests your ethics; it’s how you treat the people you really despise.”