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3/20/1998 - First Lady Announces National Women’s Museum

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced plans for the The Women’s Museum, a national museum scheduled to open in Dallas’ Fair Park in October 2000. The museum will highlight the achievements of women.

Rodham Clinton said that the museum is important, since American schools tend to skim over the history of women’s achievements.

The First Lady commented on the fight for women’s equality, stating “I hope that all of us know that the struggle is far from over,” and said that the museum will “help ensure that the struggle and the history of the struggle is told and continues.”


3/20/1998 - Museum Announces Permanent Ella Fitzgerald Exhibit

The National Museum of American History unveiled a permanent exhibit dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald, the country’s noted “First Lady of Song.” Museum Director Spencer Crew said “More than anything else, what the exhibit serves to convey is a glimpse of a highly individual performance style and personal warmth that was Ella Fitzgerald’s ability to sing and to reach across from the stage and to touch millions.”

The exhibit will include samples from some 250 albums she recorded, awards and sheet music, her trademark two-piece red suit and pill box hat and a 17-minute video.


3/19/1998 - Clinton Administration Urges Congress to Drop Anti-Abortion IMF Language

White House administration officials urged Congress to pass legislation without an anti-abortion provision to pay almost $1 billion in outstanding United Nations dues and grant $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin all urged House Republicans to drop the anti-abortion language from the fund legislation. The language prohibits money from going to groups that offer family planning or abortion services.

Albright said that the anti-abortion provision, which could result in a veto of the bill by President Clinton, should be considered separately.

Similar language killed U.N. and IMF funding legislation last year. Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said the situation “is about as bleak as it gets.”


3/19/1998 - Noted Feminist Author Anne Sayre Dies

Ann Sayre, the author who helped gain recognition for British crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, died on Friday from scleroderma, a rare rheumatoid disorder. She was 74. Sayre’s book, Rosalind Franklin and DNA, was published in 1975 and was hailed by feminists for helping to expose Dr. Franklin’s pivotal role in the discovery of DNA and the sexism in the scientific world that denied her recognition for this find.

Sayre’s book recalled Franklin’s diffraction X-ray photograph of a DNA molecule that was later given to Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick, who won recognition their discovery of the double helix that forms deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In Sayre’s book, Dr. Crick admitted that Franklin was close to discovering the double helix herself.

Sayre also wrote an honored young adult book, Never Call Retreat, in 1957. She received her law degree from New York University late in life, worked as a volunteer Legal Aid lawyer, and became town justice in Head of the Harbor, New York.


3/19/1998 - U.S. Companies Still Using Sweatshop Labor

A National Labor Committee (NLC) report reveals an increase in the use of sweatshop laborers, mainly young Chinese women, by U.S. companies for designer-label clothes. NLC director Charles Kernaghan said, “We found forced overtime, 60-96 hour work weeks, 10-15 hour shifts, six and seven days a week for below-subsistence wages of 13-28 cents an hour, without benefits.” The group also reported that the women were housed in crowded dorms and fed meals that consisted mostly of rice.

The 85-page report , compiled from interviews with workers that were conducted by local Chinese women, listed 18 big-name U.S. companies, including Kathie Lee Gifford, Ann Taylor, Wal-Mart, and J.C. Penney. NLC investigated 21 Chinese factories which all produced clothes for export to the U.S.

“Corporate America has taken gross advantage and is exploiting desperate people,” said Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Other companies listed in the report included Adidas, Bugle Boy, Dayton Hudson Corp., Disney, Ellen Tracy, Esprit Group, Federated Department Stores, Kmart Corp., The Limited, May Co., Nike, Ralph Lauren, Reebok International, Sears, and Liz Claiborne.

Feminists Against Sweatshops


3/19/1998 - Nicaragua Minister Signs Code of Ethics for Women Workers

Nicaraguan Minister of Labor Wilfredo Navarro signed a 10-point Code of Ethics that will regulate conditions and labor relations for women maquila workers in the country’s free-trade zone. The women work for maquiladora companies, which help foreign coorperations set up production operations in developing countries so that they can take advanatage of the lower labor costs and weaker laws.

Coordinator of ‘Maria Elena Cuadra,’ a group for working and unemployed women, and union leader Sandra Ramos said, “[The code] is the result of five years of hard work - a long and difficult struggle, in which the maquila workers gave the best of what they had.”

The Code acknowledges the “historical demands” of women maquila workers, prohibits hiring child workers under age 14, and demands: equal pay, protection from abuse and from discrimination because of pregnancy, periodical medical examinations, training programs and social security benefits.

The free-trade zone was activated in Nicaragua in 1992, employing 1,300 workers. Figures for 1997 report 15,000 maquila workers.

Ramos, author of an essay titled “Free-Trade Zone: A Woman’s Face,” said that this is the first Code of Ethics signed in Central America. “I believe that we have had enough confrontation; our women need jobs and employment stability and they need responsible organization to ensure employment and their rights .... The most difficult task will be to ensure that the companies abide by it,” said Ramos.


3/19/1998 - Sri Lankan Nuns Ordained as Buddhist Clergy

Sri Lankan nuns were admitted into the Buddhist clergy for the first time in 1,500 years. Women’s rights activist Sunila Abesekera said that the nun’s order was a victory but that significant Buddhist leaders still refuse to accept women as part of the clergy. Abesekera said, “It is important for people to invite these nuns for religious services at their homes and recognize them as part of the clergy .... I doubt if that will happen.”

Non-governmental organizations in Sri Lanka report an increased literacy rate for women at 87.9 percent, compared to 92.5 percent for men. Although Sri Lanka was the first country to produce a female prime minister there are still only 11 women in the 225-member parliament. Sri Lanka’s Women’s Affairs Minister, Hema Ratnayake said that she will introduce legislation that would reserve 25 percent of all political seats for women.


3/19/1998 - Three Women Assaulted in One Week at U. Maryland

Three women have been assaulted in a week at the University of Maryland in College Park. Police report that a freshman was beaten and raped, a graduate student was pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly and a man attempted to assault another graduate student, ordering her to get in her car. The most recent victim escaped after spraying the assailant in the face with pepper spray. University students are urging the police to step up security.

Police described one attacker as a 25 to 30-year-old white man with a deep voice, medium build, 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing around 200 pounds, wearing a dark jacket. The suspect in the most recent attack was described as a white man, 6 feet tall, weighing around 195 pounds, with blond hair in a ponytail, wearing a plaid shirt under a dark jacket.


3/19/1998 - Exercise Harmless During Pregnancy

A study released in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that women who exercised before they were pregnant may continue to do so during the pregnancies without negative effects.

Kristin R. Kardel and Dr. Trygve Kase of the University of Oslo in Norway reported, “Our results indicate that healthy and well-conditioned women may take part in exercise during pregnancy without compromising fetal growth and development as judged by birth weight or complicating the course of pregnancy or labor.”

Researchers studied 42 women who exercised prior to pregnancy and continued to do so until 6 weeks after delivery. The women exercised six times a week, wore heart monitors and kept diaries of their training.

There was no significant affect on labor, fetal birth weight or the health of the baby, although women who exercised more did gain more weight and went into labor earlier if they were having a girl.


3/18/1998 - Chiapas Widows Protest Sexual Harassment

Women whose husbands had recently been murdered in a December massacre demonstrated in front of the Mexican Senate, protesting the death threats and sexual harassment resulting from the women's and their husbands’ political beliefs. The women said that the government was ignoring the harassment claims and their demands to release Zapatista prisoners. A demonstrator said, “They (the widows) are still being threatened and are being told that if they don’t leave their homes they will pay the consequences; they will be raped.”

A group of paramilitary gunman opened fire on Indian supporters of the Zapatista rebels in a Chiapas town, killing 45 civilians in late December.


3/18/1998 - Chiapas Widows Protest Sexual Harassment

Women whose husbands had recently been murdered in a December massacre demonstrated in front of the Mexican Senate, protesting the death threats and sexual harassment resulting from the women's and their husbands’ political beliefs. The women said that the government was ignoring the harassment claims and their demands to release Zapatista prisoners. A demonstrator said, “They (the widows) are still being threatened and are being told that if they don’t leave their homes they will pay the consequences; they will be raped.”

A group of paramilitary gunman opened fire on Indian supporters of the Zapatista rebels in a Chiapas town, killing 45 civilians in late December.


3/18/1998 - Alabama Clinic, Atlanta Bombing Investigations to Merge

Federal officials announced that investigations of the Alabama clinic and three Atlanta bombings will be merged into the Southeast Bombing Task Force. The Task Force will combine the recourses of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and state and local agencies in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina.

The Task Force will investigate the January bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic that killed clinic security guard Robert Sanderson and seriously injured clinic nurse Emily Lyons, as well as earlier Atlanta bombings of an abortion clinic, a gay and lesbian nightclub and a pipe-bomb explosion outside the Centennial Olympic Park.

Officials did not mention Eric Robert Rudolph, who is wanted for the Alabama clinic bombing, but they are investigating Rudolph’s possible involvement in the Atlanta crimes.

call 1-888-ATF-BOMB with information regarding the bombing.

Pictures of Eric Robert Rudolph

Feminist News Stories on Clinic Violence


3/18/1998 - Taliban’s Atrocities Obstruct U.N. Aid Program

Daniela Owen, director of the World Food Programme (WFP) sub-office in Herat, near the Afghanistan border, says that the Taliban’s decree forbidding most women from working outside their homes is obstructing WFP work. Owen said, “The Taliban are not letting our staff monitor our projects.”

Although the WFP staff members revised their work methods so that they could work from home, they cannot continue the necessary house-to-house surveys needed to determine who needs food. Owen said that the agency also needs to hire more women who speak the local Pushtu language.

“It is a problem finding women to work under these conditions,” said Owen. “There is pressure from the community - neighbors will tell you ‘you will go to jail’. So there is cultural pressure. And nobody knows who is a Taliban informer and who is not.”

WFP members had considered hiring other Pushtu-speaking Muslim women to monitor projects and hunger needs, but are unable to since the Taliban’s recent verdict requiring all foreign Muslim women to be accompanied by a husband, father, brother or son while in public.

The non-governmental agency OxFam left Kabul after being told by the Taliban that their projects could not involve women.

Stop Gender Apartheid Now

Feminist News Stories on Afghanistan


3/18/1998 - Village Women Ban Female Genital Mutilation

Women in the remote village of Malicounda Bambara, Senegal have banned female genital mutilation (FGM). The village, approximately 40 miles from Dakar, is the first community in Senegal to prohibit FGM. Thirteen villages surrounding Malicounda have since prohibited the practice.

The women decided to ban FGM after taking classes offered by the government, religious groups, U.N. agencies and the non-governmental organization, TOSTAN. The classes were part of an intense anti-FGM awareness campaign focusing on excision, during which part or all of the labia and clitoris are amputated to remove a woman’s sexual desire, and its negative effects.

One Malicounda woman commented, “We do not want any more blood, any more suffering for our girls on their wedding night, no more girls dying from infection, hemorrhage or AIDS caused by excision.” Another Malicounda resident said, “We studied the rights of the individual, and we focused on the right to health that involves a woman’s freedom to make decisions about her body and to keep her body intact.”

FGM is practiced by approximately one-fifth of the Senegalese population. Political and religious leaders in Senegal have condemned the ritual.

Feminist News Stories on Female Genital Mutilation


3/17/1998 - Cohen Refuses to Segregate Training

Defense Secretary William Cohen declined a recommendation to segregate men and women during military training and instead called for the Navy, Air Force and Army to institute “corrective measures” intended to decrease the mistreatment of women. Cohen said, “We are not going to tolerate the abuse of women in the military.”

Cohen gave the services 30 days to draw up plans to increase female recruiters and trainers, to improve selection processes for trainers, to end harassment of women, and to “develop more consistent training standards between the genders.”

He also said that he would ask military chiefs to increase physical fitness standards for men and women and that he would reconsider the panel’s suggestion to segregate after changes had been made and the results were examined.

Cohen recognized that there has not been enough importance placed on attracting women to join as trainers and recruiters and that they are needed to serve as “role models” for incoming students.

Women make up 14 percent of the 1.45 million members of the United States military services.


3/17/1998 - McKinney Sentenced to Rank Reduction, Files Suit Against Plaintiff

Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney was sentenced to a reduction in rank and a reprimand for attempting to obstruct justice during a sexual misconduct trial. McKinney, who faced 18 charges of sexual misconduct and one charge of obstruction of justice, was acquitted of all sexual misconduct charges. Six women had testified against McKinney, claiming that he sexually harassed them.

McKinney will retire with an honorable discharge and has filed a $1.5 million libel suit against plaintiff Brenda L. Hoster. Retired Army Sergeant Major Hoster accused McKinney of grabbing her in a Honolulu hotel. McKinney was prohibited from suing any of the other women who testified against him due to a military rule that prohibits service members from suing subordinates or superiors.

Hoster told NBC, “I think this is a campaign of intimidation and I’m not intimidated by it.”

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


3/17/1998 - First Women Graduate from VMI Rat Line

Virginia Military Institute freshman, including 23 women, graduated from their long role as rats yesterday as they climbed to the top of a 30-foot mud hill that had been sprayed by fire hoses. This year’s rat line was the first to include women.

Twenty-three women endured the school’s long-standing ritual of abuse, which includes push-ups, hazing, and forced workouts in the middle of the night. Cadet commandant Col. James Joyner said that the bar was not lowered for the women, who proved themselves equal to the school’s “unforgiving traditions.”

The Supreme Court ordered VMI to admit women last year after a six-year-long court battle. Thirty women entered in the fall and the school expects around 40 freshman women next year.

Although seven women dropped out, none complained of sexual harassment or unfair treatment. Co-president of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger said that judgment of VMI’s assimilation of women would be premature since the school “hasn’t been very open in describing its practices.”


3/17/1998 - U.S. Justice Department Investigates “Sex Tours”

The Justice Department is investigating reports that United States “sex tour” businesses are sending people overseas to have sex with children in violation of a 1994 law. The legislation bans travel with the intent of having sex with minors with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Tour companies are offering tours of Southeast Asia and Latin America, where men are taken to red-light districts or brothels. Tour operators claim that clientele range from attorneys and school board members to clergy. Last year, New York-based women’s rights group Equality Now urged 2,500 of its affiliates to petition the government to stop sex tours and “expose this systematic exploitation of girls and women.”

Ken Franzblau of Equality Now said, “The women are basically a commodity ... You don’t know how they wind up in these circumstances.” He also noted that many of the companies deny the threat of AIDs or STDs, “I was told that the number of AIDs cases in Thailand is intentionally overblown ... by international health organizations to obtain increased funding.”

Carol Smolenski, an End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, U.S.A., coordinator, interviewed some American tourists and was shocked. Smolenski said, “some of the men just believe that it’s sort of a different class of human beings.”


3/17/1998 - Women Face Increased Risk of Intimate Violence

Women’s chances of being murdered by “intimates,” including current or former spouses or boyfriends, have risen since 1976, according to a Justice Department report, “Violence by Inmates.”

The report said, “Intimate violence predominantly affects women as victims .... Violence by an intimate accounts for about 21 percent of the violent crime experienced by women and about 2 percent of the violence experienced by males.”

Overall, reported murders by spouses or partners have decreased since 1976, from 2,957 to 1,842 in 1996. The number of male victims decreased by 62 percent while the number of female victims decreased by only 17 percent. Almost three-fourths of intimate murder victims in 1996 were women. Eighty-five percent of the victims of domestic violence in 1996 were women.

The report stated that 65 percent of the murders were committed using a firearm and that approximately 40 percent of those convicted for violence were on probation, under a restraining order, on parole, or other similar criminal justice status when the crime occurred.

Domestic Violence Information Center


3/17/1998 - Senate Staffer Elected as Planned Parenthood Federation National Chair

Mary Shallenberger, principal consultant to California Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, has been elected the next national chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Shallenberger will take over at PPFA’s full membership meeting in December. She will fulfill her chair duties on her own time and will not receive pay for the position.

Sen. Burton commented, “With the right to choose under constant attack from the far right, it’s great to see a Senate staffer in the front lines, fighting to protect women’s freedom.”

Shallenberger said, “Planned Parenthood has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of families and women for generations .... I am honored and excited to be chosen to continue the legacy.”


3/17/1998 - Senate Staffer Elected as Planned Parenthood Federation National Chair

Mary Shallenberger, principal consultant to California Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, has been elected the next national chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Shallenberger will take over at PPFA’s full membership meeting in December. She will fulfill her chair duties on her own time and will not receive pay for the position.

Sen. Burton commented, “With the right to choose under constant attack from the far right, it’s great to see a Senate staffer in the front lines, fighting to protect women’s freedom.”

Shallenberger said, “Planned Parenthood has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of families and women for generations .... I am honored and excited to be chosen to continue the legacy.”


3/16/1998 - Taliban Extends Gender Apartheid to Foreign Women

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


3/16/1998 - Sgt. Maj. McKinney Found Not Guilty of Sexual Misconduct

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.


3/16/1998 - U.S. Supreme Court Hiring Practices Reflects “Old-Boys Club”

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.”


3/16/1998 - Methodist Jury Permits Same-Sex Marriage Ceremonies

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