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Women’s organizations are outraged by comments made by Turkey’s Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Isilay Saygin, supporting forced virginity tests for young women. Saygin called the tests a “necessity." The practice, said Sirin Teteli, the president of women’s rights group, KA-DER, is a “nasty and patriarchal tradition” and has driven women to suicide. Saygin responded, “Girls who have committed suicide because they were forced to take a virginity test would have committed suicide anyway.”
The women's groups said Saygin’s comment is a reflection of oppression based on fundamental tradition and religion in the Middle East. “This is just one manifestation of the fundamental problem, that women are treated as objects of family honor,” Teteli said.
Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, has agreed to settle in a lawsuit brought by NOW and two abortion clinics 12 years ago. The permanent injunction agreed to by Terry prohibits him from committing violent acts against clinics, the staff and patients, and from belonging to any groups which commit these acts. Violating this prohibition will result in a $15,000 penalty and would allow NOW to reestablish the lawsuit against him. “This injunction will remove the godfather of the ‘Rescue Racket’ from the streets,” said NOW president Patricia Ireland.
Terry’s compliance is a partial victory in NOW v. Scheidler. The case was initiated by then NOW president Eleanor Smeal, after the President of the local Pensacola NOW chapter was injured during a clinic invasion. NOW filed against Joseph Scheidler of Chicago, his Pro-Life Action League, anti-abortion activists, and later, Terry and Operation Rescue.
The US Supreme Court allowed NOW to present a case against the anti-abortions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). NOW argued that anti-abortion extremists were hindering interstate commerce by trying to shut down the clinics. In NOW v. Scheidler, NOW represents its own members and all non-member women, “ whose rights to the services of women’s health centers in the United States at which abortions are performed have been or will be interfered with by defendants’ unlawful activities.”
Attorney General Janet Reno urged Congress to pass legislation that will expand the definition of hate crimes to include those related to disabilities, gender or sexual orientation. Currently, hate crimes include those based on race, color, religion and national origin.
The plea stems from an FBI report finding 8,759 hate crimes in 1996, an increase from 1995’s 7,947. The report, compiled from more than 11,000 police agencies, found 1,016 hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
During last November’s first White House conference on hate crimes, Reno announced plans to distribute prevention manuals to teachers for anti-bias training by the Justice and Education departments, and will be considering strategies for fighting these crimes.
Wilma Mankiller, the first female Native American chief, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next Thursday. Mankiller, who was elected twice as chief, has tackled such issues as the reduction of infant mortality, health and education, and business among the Cherokees.
Other female recipients include Brooke Astor, a philanthropist who contributed to the New York Public Library, Margaret Murie, an environmental activist who helped pass legislation which protects the Alaskan lands, and Mario Obledo, Latino rights advocate and founder of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Hyundai Motor America’s “Power of the Purse” workshops are empowering women and the press has taken notice. The free workshops, facilitated by Donna Kane, provide information on buying and servicing a car.
For years, women have encountered condescension, unfair pricing, and incomplete explanations in car dealerships. Today, nearly 80 percent of all car purchases are influenced by women, yet sexism still thrives in dealerships across the U.S. Women are using their economic power and newfound skills to their advantage. “Many women find that after attending our workshop they can walk confidently into any dealership and know exactly how to maintain control of the situation,” said Kane.
1/8/1998 - Mexico Names First Female Foreign Minister
Rosario Green was named the first Mexican woman foreign minister by President Ernesto Zedillo. Green, 56, known for her support of women’s issues, was also appointed the first coordinator of women’s issues for the United Nation in 1995 while serving as assistant secretary general for political affairs.
1/8/1998 - Cancer Risk Greater in High Estrogen Breast
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports a link between breast tissue that contains an “overexpression," or increased quantity, of estrogen receptors and a greater risk of malignant breast cancer. Researchers studied 376 women who had undergone breast surgery and found that those with more than 1% receptor-positive tissue had three times the risk of cancer.
Although Hormone Replacement Therapy increases the amount of receptor positive tissue, further studies need to be conducted as to whether there is any significant link, researchers said.
At a White House ceremony President Clinton proposed $21.7 billion in tax breaks and new spending for child care . The proposal is part of the new budget, which will be submitted to Congress next month. The child care initiative includes $7.5 billion towards subsidizing child care for low-income families, $5.2 for “expanding” the child and dependent-care tax credit, $3.8 billion for the Head Start program, $3 billion to improve the quality of child care, and additional support for after- and before-school programs. The proposal also features enforcement of state child-care standards and tax credits to businesses that provide their own or aid in the provision of child care for their employees.
In putting forth the proposal, which is aimed towards making child care more accessible and affordable for working parents, Clinton stated, “What the government is supposed to do is to help to create the conditions and give people the tools that will enable them to raise and love their children while successfully participating in the American workplace.”
1/8/1998 - Judge Orders Abusive Man to Marry Girlfriend
Judge Clyde Gober ordered Darrell Meadows of Georgia, who threatened to kill his girlfriend, Angela Whaley, and their daughter, to marry Whaley by mid-February. Meadows, who pled guilty to disorderly conduct to avoid charges for threatening to murder, has been released on probation.
Critics argue that marriage only gives an abusive man more power over a woman and children. The judge defends his position stating that Meadows will now be legally required to support the child.
Military judge Col. Ferdinand Clervi denied lawyer’s requests to dismiss a sexual misconduct trial against former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney. McKinney’s attorneys claimed the jury was unfairly “stacked” with women and senior officials. Three of the twelve jury members are women, 25 percent, while women make up about 14 percent of army personnel. Army prosecutor Lt. Col. Michael Child said, “There is no basis to suggest that if there are more women sitting on this panel that they couldn’t be just as fair.” McKinney, the Army’s former top enlisted man, is charged with 19 counts of sexual harassment and assault. If convicted, he faces a possible reduction in rank and 56 years in prison.
1/7/1998 - Stress Linked to Fight Against Breast Cancer
A study issued in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports a link between anxiety and a weakened immune system in breast cancer patients. Researchers interviewed 116 women after surgery for invasive breast cancer, but before starting radiation or chemotherapy. The researchers first conducted psychological tests to determine levels of stress related to the disease and then tested the women’s blood for immune cell levels. Those with high stress had weakened immune systems. The study is the first in several designed to determine if lowering stress can aid in the fight against cancer. Researchers noted, “it is hard to ignore” that support can favorably affect the course of some cancers.
1/7/1998 - Prisoner Mothers Separated from Family
Two hundred and forty female inmates are being transferred from the D.C. corrections facility this month to facilities 300 miles away in Connecticut. Part of a federal financial rescue plan for the District, the transfer will weaken the already-fragile bond between the women, the majority of whom are single mothers, and their children. Cynthia Seymour of the Child Welfare League of America said about 150, 000 children in the U.S. have mothers in jail or prison. “...To move the mother so far away really makes the possibility of visiting even less likely. That’s the most devastating piece of this,” Seymour said.
1/7/1998 - Disney’s Eisner Not Distressed By Boycott
Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner stated in an annual letter to Disney’s shareholders he “always will defend the right” of the company to produce entertainment that some might find offensive. Eisner alluded to the recent Disney boycott by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptists denounced Disney’s policy of offering benefits to partners of Gay and Lesbian Disney employees and ABC’s Ellen show which is the first primetime show to feature a Lesbian. “We are all fortunate to be in a country that protects ... free expression. We will not let a mayor, or a congressman, or a senator, or a particular interest group or even a President control our content,” Eisner stated. The annual report reflects no impact from the boycotts, with record-breaking revenues of $22.5 billion in 1997.
Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson urged party members to vote against a resolution that would deny funds to “any candidate or nominee of this party who opposes measures to end so-called partial-birth abortion.” Nicholson said that the party needs to remain broad enough for moderates, reacting to recent worries that a stance on such a controversial issue might drive away moderates and women. Last October, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly, 217 to 8, to pass a ban on the procedure. Although Congress has yet to override President Clinton’s veto on a ban of partial-birth abortions, Republicans promise to continue pressing the issue.
Chalauy Prathumasuth, a 41-year-old Thai woman, was set free Tuesday after being chained in a deserted hut for 13 years by her parents. The parents told the police that Chalauy began acting unusually when her husband left her, and took her baby son. They believed she was under the influence of black magic left by her husband. Prathumasuth was taken from the hut, located in Uthong village, 75 miles north of Bangkok, and is now in a hospital, police said.
Vice President Al Gore and Aida Alvarez, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, launched the SBA's Online Women's Business Center (www.onlinewbc.org) yesterday. The new Internet site provides information and free training to novice and established women business owners. Structured to "provide women the means of working together in creating possibilities and opportunities," its services include a marketing mall, finance center, management institute, technology tower and procurement place.
Alvarez said, "I am committed to increasing women business owner's opportunities for success with innovations such as this online center." According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners, businesses owned by women in the United States number 8 million, provide jobs to one in five workers and grow faster than all other businesses.
1/6/1998 - Nowen Wins Alpine Skiing World Cup
Sweden's Ylva Nowen celebrated her 28th birthday and placed first in the women's Alpine skiing World Cup slalom Monday. After seven years on the circuit with no wins, Nowen won the fourth successive World Cup slalom in which she competed with a combined time of one minute, 27.81 seconds. Nowen commented, "The snow was just perfect today, especially on the first run. I was fortunate to start third when the condition really couldn't have been better." Germany's Hilde Gerg took second with 1:28.53, Slovenia's Spela Pretnar finished third with 1:28.58 and America1s Kristina Koznick, along with Switzerland's Karin Roten claimed fourth with 1:28.67.
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has named a six-member panel to investigate and report on child care in the workplace. The group, comprised of business and labor leaders, will report to President Clinton this spring with examples of successful corporate child care programs and will also work to publicize those efforts. Panel member Sandy Weil said, "It's important that we surface what different companies or communities are doing so people can see it can be done." President Clinton plans to address the issue of child care in his State of the Union Address, proposing tax credits for businesses that offer child care, administration officials have said.
Welfare reform is changing the lives of women on Native American reservations. In the 61,000 Native American households on welfare in the U.S., recipients are now required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week or risk deductions in their checks. For many women on reservations finding work poses a challenge. Many of the largest reservations are located in the nation's most isolated areas, where unemployment is as high as 80 percent. Although many Native Americans have moved off welfare, how they are able to survive economically is still not apparent. Albert Hale, President of the Navajo Nation, worries recipients are leaving the reservations and moving to the cities to find work.
Great Britain's Times newspaper reported Sunday that scientists at the U.S. company Reprogenesis have successfully grown nipples and associated breast tissue using human cells and expect to create whole breast implants in the next five years.
The nipples were created using fat and blood vessel cells from the buttock or thigh. These cells were grown on pre-shaped scaffolding made of polymer plastic with the help of growth factors that promote cell division. The cells grew rapidly until the scaffolding was full and the tissue was complete.
Reprogenesis will begin transplanting nipples on patients sometime next year. Since the nipples are created from the patient's own cells, there is no chance that the patient's body will "reject" the tissue, as often happens when tissue from another individual is donated.
The "living tissue" implants will be available for women seeking breast reconstruction after surgery as well as for cosmetic purposes. Researchers hope that these implants will constitute a safer alternative to dangerous silicone implants, which have been linked to lupus, rhumatoid arthritis, and other diseases of the immune system.
1/5/1998 - Tennis Star Helen Wills Dies
Helen Wills, the winner of 8 Wimbledon singles titles, seven U.S. Open crowns, and four French Open tournaments died on New Year's Day at age 92.
Helen Wills, who later adopted the surnames Moody and Roark through marriage, dominated women's tennis in the 1920s and 1930s, winning a total of 19 major singles titles and 12 doubles titles. Her 8 Wimbledon wins, the last in 1938, remained unchallenged until Martina Navratilova surpassed her with 9 victories.
Wills was born in California and started playing tennis at age 14. She was never formally trained in tennis and learned by imitating adults. At age 17, she became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. women's singles championship and, at 18, won an Olympic gold medal in Paris.
Wills suffered a back injury in 1935 and retired in 1938. She wrote three books, including a biography published in 1937. She moved to a quiet oceanside resort in Carmel in the 1950s and lived there until her death, when she bequeathed her entire estate to the University of California-Berkeley, her alma mater.
Egypt's State council on December 28th upheld a July 1996 Health Ministry ban on female genital mutilation, a destructive and painful operation in which all or part of a young girl's genitalia is removed. The procedure is often euphemistically referred to as "female circumcision" and is performed to rob women of sexual pleasure and ensure their chastity.
An administrative court in Cairo overturned the Health Ministry's ruling in June 1997, but the Health Ministry appealed the decision to the State council, which is Eqypt's highest administrative court. The state council ruled that female circumcision is illegal except in cases of "medical necessity." "Circumcision thus falls under penal codes forbidding operations on the human body except when medically necessary," read the court's decision.
Violators of the law may be incarcerated for up to three years, regardless of whether permission to perform the procedure was granted by the patient or the patient's parents. In December of 1997, 32-year-old Egyptian doctor Rabih Ibrahim Mahjub was convicted of "gross negligence and wrongful death" when his 14-year-old patient died after she was circumcised.
Female genital mutiliation is often performed without anesthesia and in unsanitary conditions. It can lead to shock, hemorrhage, infection, urinary incontinence, painful sexual intercourse, infertility, and childbirth complications.
The Hamilton Spectator of Ontario, Canada, has received a second anonymous anti-abortion package threatening the murder of a local abortion provider.
During the past four years, three Canadian abortion providers have been shot and seriously injured by violent anti-abortion extremists. In each instance, the victim was shot through a window in his home around the time of Canada's Remembrance Day.
Police have investigated a possible link between the mailings and the shootings, but now believe the crimes were committed by separate parties. "The evidence seems clear to me that these letters aren't from the shooter," said Inspector David Bowen of the Hamilton-Wentworth police.
The first package contained messages threatening an unnamed abortion doctor and police, as well as other articles symbolizing war and the Apocalypse. The second package described anti-abortion extremists as an "army" in a war against abortion and promised death for doctors providing abortions. It also included pictures of Norman Schwarzkopf and Saddam Hussein and refers to the Army of God, a violent U.S. anti-abortion group that advocates murdering abortion providers.
Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, former vice-presidential candidate and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" program, announced at a press conference today that she has quit her "Crossfire" job and will seek Republican Alfonse D'Amato's U.S. Senate seat.
Ferraro has served three terms in Congress representing Queens, New York. She challenged D'Amato in 1992 and was narrowly defeated. Ferraro faired well in the cities of Buffalo and Albany during the '92 election and plans to campaign heavily there.
A poll conducted by the New York Post/Fox 5 showed D'Amato was ahead of the other Democratic candidates, Rep. Charles Schumer (Brooklyn) and city Public Advocate Mark Green, but trailed Ferraro by eight points.
Despite cuts in social services in France, high-quality subsidized day-care has grown. Unlike in the U.S. where parents are unsure whether day care is good for children, French parents believe day care helps children become more outgoing and better socialized. Recent studies have shown that children who attended day care and pre-school do better in elementary school.
French day care centers receive enough funding to properly staff and equip the centers. For example, one Paris day care center has 25 trained employees for 88 children -- a ratio of one adult to 3.5 children. Parents usually pay on a sliding scale depending on their salaries.
Although more and more day care centers have opened in recent years, demand continues to outstrip supply, with parents waiting up to a year for a spot in a day care center.