Search Feminist News by keyword
Incidents of female genital mutilation are increasing in the United States. Researchers and doctors in the Denver, Colorado area report that at least 6,000 immigrants from African countries that practice genital mutilation have moved to the area. “I know of one patient where it was clear it was performed in this country,” said Dr. Terry Dunn, director of a women’s clinic in Denver. Dunn sees mutilation cases approximately once every three months.
Colorado state Senator Dorothy Rupert, D-Boulder, is pushing a bill that would classify the practice as child abuse and would result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Rupert has proposed three similar bills in the past.
Feminist News Stories on Female Genital Mutilation
2/18/1998 - Peruvian Women Bribed for Sterilization
A month after women’s groups blew the whistle on a Peruvian government sterilization program, reports of women being forced or bribed to submit to tubal ligations continue. Government health workers reportedly offered gifts, including food and clothing, to poor women for undergoing tubal ligation.
Those who survive the surgery are sent away with gifts of clothes and food, however, fatal complications sometimes arise for women who cannot afford medical treatment. A neighbor of Magna Alva, who died ten days after the surgery, said “When you don’t have anything and they offer you clothes and food for your kids, then finally you agree to do it .... Magna told them that her husband was against the idea, but they told her, ‘Don’t worry, we can do it right now, and tonight you will be back home cooking and your husband will never realize what happened.”
The Peruvian government issued quotas for sterilizations in 1995 in an effort to curb the growing population and poverty in exchange for promotions and cash for doctors and nurses. Family planning officials in Peru, where abortion is illegal, say that abstinence, the IUD and tubal ligation are the most common forms of contraception.
A United States Congressional Subcommittee on International and Human Rights Operations has begun investigations concerning the reports of forced sterilization.
LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.
2/17/1998 - Cornell Professor, Lifetime Feminist Dies at 94
Retired Cornell University Professor Alice Hanson Cook, a lifetime feminist and supporter of equal rights for working women, died February 7 at her home in Ithaca, NY. Professor Cook was 94 years old.
Born in Alexandria, VA. in 1903, Cook attended Northwestern University, where she co-founded the Student Liberal League and became known as one of “the 38,” whom the Chicago Tribune branded as unwelcome at Northwestern due to their pacifist views.
Alice Cook graduated from Northwestern in 1924. She went on to work for a social service agency in St. Louis, taught at a cooperative farm in Arkansas, organized textile workers and became affiliated with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, and the Marine and Shipbuilding Workers.
Cook served as visiting expert on labor education with the office of Military Government in Germany in the late 1940’s, and was chief of the Adult Education Section of the United States High Commission in Germany from 1950 to 1952.
Cook joined the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell in 1952 and began teaching labor history in 1954.
Cook was later appointed as the university’s first ombudsman. Jennie Farley, a Cornell professor of industrial and labor relations, said “She was not only interested, but concerned in every aspect of the working woman’s life .... Alice made it clear that these issues were universal in their importance and that they affected every woman no matter where she lived and worked.”
The establishment of Cook’s Grove in Cornell’s quadrangle along with a plaque that reads “Teacher, Feminist, First University Ombudsman,” marked Cook’s retirement in 1972.
A prolific author, Cook wrote on many issues, including: unions, labor relations and sex discrimination. Her works include, Working Mother: A Survey of Problems and Programs in Nine Countries, Woman and Trade Unions in Eleven Industrialized Countries, and her autobiography, A Lifetime in Labor, which will be published this spring by the Feminist Press of New York.
2/17/1998 - Jury Awards $80.7 Million to UPS Employee
A Polk County jury awarded $80.7 million to Linda Channon, a 22-year-old former United Parcel Service worker. Channon was poked in the breast during an argument by a fellow employee. The driver was fired but then began stalking her. Channon alleged that following the incident she was treated unfairly by the company.
“I had different standards than the men had,” she said. “Every day I was being screamed at, being belittled, being humiliated. Those are things that are hard emotionally when you’ve worked at a place a long time and been very dedicated and done a very good job.”
UPS will appeal the verdict.
2/17/1998 - First Woman War Correspondent Dies at 89
The world’s first female war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, died at the age of 89. Gellhorn covered the Spanish civil war, Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli wars. Gellhorn witnessed the D-Day landings in Normandy, the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, and is also known for marrying author Ernest Hemingway in 1940.
Gellhorn worked until her late 70s and believed that a reporters’ job was “to limit yourself to what you see or hear and not suppress or invent.” Friend and journalist Marie Colvin said of Gellhorn, “Hers was a different kind of journalism. She was very passionate.”
2/17/1998 - US Women Win First Women’s Hockey Olympic Event
The United States won the gold in the first women’s ice hockey Olympic event. The US women scored 3-1 in their final game, winning all six games played during the Olympics. The win “closed the gap” on a US-Canadian rivalry.
Canadian coach Shannon Miller said, “I had a feeling of joy go through my body because I realized an Olympic gold medal was being hung on a female hockey player .... I couldn’t believe the impact it had on me.”
Filipino women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II are seeking a meeting with Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko in hopes of sharing their stories. The prince and princess are visiting the Philippines’ during the country’s celebration of independence.
Over 200,000 Asian women were forced to work in brothels provided for Japan’s troops. Japan denied involvement with what they called “comfort women” until recently, and refuses to compensate the women for their pain and suffering. The Japanese government has set up a private fund for the women who are now in their late 60s and early 70s. Most of the women are refusing the funds and insist that the government take responsibility for their actions.
“I hope the prince and princess will help us finally get justice before we die,” said Amonita Balajadia, a former slave.
Results of a new study suggest that girls who received chest radiation for childhood cancer should obtain mammograms starting as early as age 25 because they are more likely to develop breast cancer than other women. The study, published in the journal Cancer, found that women treated for cancer during childhood are 20 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not receive chest radiation during childhood.
Researchers traced the medical records of 3,463 girls treated for cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee between 1962 and 1995. They found that 12 of the girls developed breast cancer, four of them before the age of 25.
The Virginia House Courts of Justice committee approved a ban on D&X abortions and a law that would require women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion. Senators have given preliminary approval to a D&X bill, and are expected to debate on the “informed consent” bill that would require abortion providers to give women information about abortion and alternatives by telephone or in person at least 24 hours prior to the procedure.
Feminist News Stories on Abortion
2/13/1998 - Judge Rules City Can’t Block Clinic
U.S. District Judge Charles Wolle ruled that the city of Bettendorf, Iowa cannot use zoning ordinances to block the construction of a Planned Parenthood clinic. In the third attempt by the city to stall construction of the abortion clinic, the judge also ruled that no zoning changes need to be made for construction to begin. Wolle claimed that the city’s obstruction violated the constitutional rights of Planned Parenthood and “women who would be served by plaintiff’s medical clinic.”
Bettendorf is part of the “Quad Cities,” the largest metropolitan area in the country without abortion services. The nearest abortion clinic is in Iowa City, 50 miles away.
National President of Planned Parenthood Gloria Feldt said the decision was a “triumph for the health needs of women in the Quad Cities and a defeat for those trying to use bureaucratic obstacles to deny women access to safe abortion service.”
Communities in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia are giving out cellular phones to victims of domestic abuse and violence. The phones have been pre-programmed to dial 911. Programs to give out cellular phones exist in Arlington and Montgomery counties, Alexandria, Williamsburg, Lynchburg, and Virginia Beach, VA. Some phones were donated by local phone companies, but most were donated by county and city employees through donation drives.
Pendants with buttons that alert local authorities are also distributed to victims of domestic abuse. Although some phones and pendants have been used to prevent or stop attacks, authorities cite peace of mind as the most important factor in the new program. “This has made them feel safe and that’s a great leap forward,” said Sgt. Scott Gibson, head of the Alexandria police department’s domestic violence unit.
Domestic Violence Information Center
2/13/1998 - Portugal Abortion Foes Push Referendum
Abortion foes in Portugal are attempting to do away with a bill passed by Parliament last week that legalizes abortion. A national referendum backed by the center-right Social Democratic Party and the conservative Popular party will be voted on next week.
Currently, abortions can only be performed when there is a risk to the mother’s life. If the referendum fails, the new law allowing women to request abortions up to the 10th week of pregnancy will take affect in 90 days.
Feminist News Stories on Abortion
Egyptian Health Minister Ismail Sallam criticized Moslem fundamentalists for opposing Egypt’s ban on female circumcision. Sallam was routinely interrupted by Moslem extremists condemning the ban during a Cairo Book Fair. Sallam replied, “Growing a beard doesn’t give you the right to issue religious decrees. It’s the mufti’s prerogative and he said that female circumcision is not a religious duty .... We must protect poor and peasant girls because we know that the wealthy, officials, and senior clerics don’t circumcise their own,” said Sallam.
Egypt’s State Council ordered in December that a ban on female circumcision would stand. The court ruled that, “henceforth, it is illegal for anyone to carry out circumcision operations, even if the girl or her parents agree to it.” Offenders face up to three years in prison.
During female circumcision part or all of the labia and clitoris are amputated to remove a woman’s sexual desire. More than 90 percent of Egyptian girls are circumcised around the ages of five or six. Around 70 percent of the operations are performed in the home in filthy conditions, sometimes resulting in death from bleeding or infection.
Feminist News Stories on Female Genital Mutilation
Casa Alianza, a non-profit organization that works with street children in Latin America, will begin working with the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department to apprehend men and women who sexually abuse children in Central America. Bruce Harris, Regional Director of the Casa Alianza Programs for Latin America, stated “We have noticed a significant increase in the number of cases of sexual abuse against street boys and girls, perpetrated by foreigners who travel to the countries we work with ... the number of Americans is rising.”
It is illegal for Americans to travel to foreign countries with the intent of sexual abuse. If convicted, abusers can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000.
Dogs trained to detect bomb materials are being used to investigate the Alabama clinic bombing and to track down the lead material witness, Eric Robert Rudolph. The dogs detected possible explosive residue in Rudolph’s truck, and responded to potential residue found in a small warehouse that was once rented by Rudolph.
The FBI also believes that Rudolph may have been in Birmingham, participating in pro-life rallies during the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, five days before the explosion.
call 1-888-ATF-BOMB with information regarding the bombing.
Pictures of Eric Robert Rudolph
Feminist News Stories on Clinic Violence
2/12/1998 - Divorced Women Face IRS Assaults
“The American tax system mistreats divorced women,” said Elizabeth Cockrell before a Senate Finance Committee hearing, designed to aid in the examination of current IRS procedures and laws. Committee chairman William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del) has suggested that innocent spouse “provisions” will be addressed.
Four women delivered testimony claiming that they have all been pursued by the IRS for their former husbands’ debts. The women all signed joint tax returns during their marriages, but none of them made any tax decisions. The IRS is now claiming that the women owe $300,000 to $650,000 in back taxes. In many cases, when the women’s assets are being pursued by the IRS their former husbands are not.
Under current law, spouses who sign a joint return are responsible for the full amount of income tax due. The Clinton administration has announced plans to provide relief to innocent spouses of IRS investigations.
2/12/1998 - Anti-Abortionists Deny IMF, UN Relief Funds
Anti-abortion militants are once again threatening to strike down attempts to supply an $18 billion relief package to the International Monetary Fund. Abortion opponents are demanding that the U.S. prohibit funding to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that perform abortions or encourage family planning in foreign countries.
Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Al) told Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin that money would not be allocated without the support of anti-abortion Congressional members. New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher Smith claims that they will not back down. “These will not be de-linked,” said Smith, in reference to relief funding and abortion language.
2/12/1998 - Teenager Works for “Girl Power”
The March issue of YM features 15-year-old Ariel Fox, owner of Sticker Sisters. Fox designs and sells magnets, buttons, shoelaces and stickers that feature feminist phrases focusing on “girl power,” domestic violence and sexual abuse. Sticker Sisters’ clients range from grandmothers to rock bands and can be found in eight countries and across the United States.
Fox, a 10th-grader at Montgomery Blair High School, said, “A lot of girls aren’t really proud to be girls. That’s not something they’re really taught, that it’s fun to be a girl or it’s a good thing.” Fox creates the stickers and other products on her home computer, using the profits to create new merchandise.
Fox envisions a world in which girls do not need stickers to proclaim their own self-worth. “What would be nice to see is that they don’t need to feel that they need to rely on the stickers to make the statement .... What I want is for more people to get it on their own,” said Fox.
Contact Ariel Fox and Sticker Sisters at P.O. Box 11480, Takoma Park, Md. 20193, at email@example.com or on the Web, www.stickersisters.com.
2/12/1998 - Brazil Grants Gays Inheritance Rights
Brazil’s Superior Tribunal of Justice ruled that Milton Alves Pedrosa has the right to inherit property he shared with his male partner, Jair Prearo, who passed away. Prearo’s father had disputed Pedrosa’s claim.
Rep. Marta Suplicy said that the ruling will make it easier to pass legislation that would grant equal rights and benefits to homosexual couples already available to heterosexual, married couples. The proposed legislation will appear before the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies later this year.
A resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives requires that any new child care legislation include benefits for stay-at-home parents. Rep. Rosa DeLauor (D-Conn) commented, “I regret that this resolution has chosen to focus on one group of parents.”
The resolution is a rebuttal to President Clinton’s $21.7 billion child care initiative which would grant tax credits and subsidies to working parents. Although the resolution did not present particular policies benefitting stay-at-home and working parents, some Republicans are suggesting an across-the-board tax cut. Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, maintains that tax cuts would give little aid to poorer working families who often owe no taxes.
2/11/1998 - Senate Confirms Surgeon General Satcher
The U.S. Senate voted 63-35 to confirm Dr. David Satcher as Surgeon General. President Clinton commented, “No one is better qualified to be America’s doctor .... He is a mainstream physician who is an eloquent advocate for the health of all Americans.”
Satcher’s nomination overcame strong resistance from conservatives led by Sen. John Ashcroft, who condemned Satcher for supporting Clinton’s veto of a ban on D&X abortions.
Dr. Satcher has worked as a family practitioner, researcher, medical school dean and served for five years as the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Satcher said he plans to “work hard to engage all Americans everywhere in a lively, ongoing conversation about physical activity, good nutrition, responsible behavior and other passports to good health and long life.”
A Maine law prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians was struck down in a vote of 51.9 to 48.1 percent. The special election vetoed a law passed last year that would have criminalized discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, public accommodation and credit.
Discrimination law opponent Maine Christian Civic League President Michael Heath said, “It wasn’t out of a sense of wanting to hurt anyone ... it was out of a sense we’ve all had for a long time that there is a right or wrong in terms of human sexuality.”
Supporters of the law will continue their fight for anti-discrimination laws and gay rights. Maine Treasurer Dale McCormick said, “We’re going to have civil rights in my lifetime. I thought I was going to taste it tomorrow morning. We may still taste it.”
In Philadelphia, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese condemned three city proposals that would grant health and pension benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua hand-delivered a letter asking Mayor Ed Rendell and City Council members to reject the legislation. The letter claimed that the proposed laws, which would add the term “life partner” to existing ordinances concerning employee benefits, would be “destructive to our city’s moral and social structure.”
Supporter Councilman Angel Ortiz commented on the proposals, claiming that they addressed fairness, not morality. “We’re supposed to treat all citizens equally ... so no citizen is left out or discriminated against because of the relationships they’re in,” said Ortiz.
2/11/1998 - Search for Clinic Bombing Witness Continues
Investigators continue their search for Eric Robert Rudolph, wanted in connection with the Alabama abortion clinic bombing that killed officer Robert Sanderson and seriously injured nurse Emily Lyons. A convoy of federal agents and law enforcement officers moved from Murphy, N.C., through back roads, to the Georgia-Tennessee border. Agents combed the mountains with special heat-sensor equipment and two FBI bloodhounds along the way.
Authorities have asked the public not to approach Rudolph if he is seen. Rudolph is a 32-year-old white male with brown hair and blue eyes. He is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs 150 pounds.
Call the ATF hotline, 1-888-ATF-BOMB, with information concerning Rudolph or the bombing.
Pictures of Eric Robert Rudolph
2/11/1998 - U.S. Women Earn Gold, Victories in Olympics
The United States Women’s Hockey team beat rival Finland in a 4-2 victory. The team is tied with Canada, with six points in Olympic standings. Finland has four points, China has 2, and Sweden and Japan have zero. The top two teams will battle in a game for the gold medal immediately after the preliminary round.
Downhill skier Picabo Street won Olympic gold in the women’s super-G, with .01 seconds to spare. Street said “I made a mistake about midway through the course .... It made me mad and I just went for it.”
Street, a native of Idaho who now lives in Portland, Oregon, has recovered from knee surgery and grappled with headaches from a two-week-old accident that knocked her unconscious.
2/11/1998 - Evidence Supports Victims in Army Sex Trial
Prosecutors submitted an audio tape of a February 1997 telephone conversation in which Sgt. Maj. Gene C. McKinney asked Staff Sgt. Christine Fetrow to deny that he had sexually harassed her and claim that “no inappropriateness at all,” had occurred between them.
McKinney said, “All you have to do is tell them that we talked a lot. You call the office sometimes because you want to talk about career development and that kind of stuff. That’s it ... That’s all they need to know.”
Fetrow, the first of fifty to testify against the defendant, said that McKinney had reportedly made unwanted sexual advances and assaulted her since 1994. Fetrow also claimed that she has received “well over 40” anonymous, threatening phone calls since the start of the investigation.
McKinney faces 19 charges, including sexual assault and obstructing justice, stemming from the allegations of six officers. If convicted, he faces 55.5 years in prison, loss of retirement benefits and rank.
Feminist News Stories on Sexual Harassment, Assault and Discrimination in the Military