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9/12/1997 - Aide to Conservative Congressman Comes Out
Tracey St. Pierre, the chief of staff for Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.), announced that she is a lesbian and has quit to work as a lobbyist for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). St. Pierre told this week's The Hill that she will lobby Congress for gay rights through HRC, the nation's largest homosexual organization.
Her announcement stunned her conservative colleagues, as Canady is known for his strong stance against same-sex marriage.
9/12/1997 - Romanian Rape Rates Double
A new study reports men rape a Romanian woman every six hours, according to the Romanian newspaper Adevarul.
Researchers Sorin Radulescu and Dan Banciu of the Sociological Institute of the Romanian Academy said that the number of rapes doubled between 1990 and 1995. They concluded that "Romania seems at present to be a sick society" and that Romanian women "are one of the most victimized groups."
9/12/1997 - Many German Women Victimized, Few Report It
A study commissioned by the German government has found that one in seven women in Germany is raped or sexually harassed at least once in her lifetime, yet only five percent report it to the police.
The regional officials who published the study estimated that between 150,000 and 300,000 women are victimized each year, with 75% under the age of sexual consent. Hesse state prosecuter Wolfram Schaedler said 83% of rape victims know their rapist, and that because many court proceedings are suppressed or delayed until at least two years after the crime, only 52% of suspects are ever indicted.
At a conference Sept. 7 in Saarbruecken, experts warned that repeated questioning and harassment by police and the legal system could lead to psychological disorders in rape victims. Saarland social affairs minister Barbara Wackernagel-Jacobs said that women often experience sexual violence for years before reporting it. "Only when perpetrators are no longer sure of the silence of their victims can violence be reduced."
9/12/1997 - First Lesbian British Minister Comes
In an interview for the Independent in London, junior environment minister Angela Eagle said that she was in a happy, long-term relationship with a woman.
She said the Labour party and her family, including her twin sister who is also a Labour MP, had always been supportive.
While she made the announcement "to get things sorted out," she has no plans to become active for gay rights, or to bring her "very busy" partner to governmental functions.
In a report highly critical of Army officers, an internal investigative panel of senior officials declared in a report released yesterday that "passive leadership has allowed sexual harassment to persist" and that the Army "lacks the institutional commitment" to treat women equally.
Rep. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the reports were "a scathing indictment of the climate and leadership that permits sexual harassment to permeate at all levels of the Army."
The panel recommended 128 actions to help resolve the problems, such as adding more staff to basic training and changing the power structure that allows combat arms personnel (an area forbidden to women, and where men have the least experience dealing with sexual harassment issues) to hold key command positions.
The comprehensive investigation was launched eight months ago after the sexual harassment and assault charges against officers at Aberdeen training grounds. The panel visited 59 Army facilities around the world and surveyed 30,000 troops about their experiences and attitudes about gender relations. A surprising finding was that while 84% of women had experienced unwanted sexual attention, coercion or assault, only 22% said they'd been sexually harassed. 51% of women felt they experienced sex-based job discrimination.
The Senate voted 98-1 Wednesday to grant domestic abuse victims a temporary exemption from welfare work requirements. This provision waives the current welfare reform law's requirement that abuse victims to return to work after a year. Although the Senate has approved the proposal three times before, it has been removed from House-Senate negotiations each time.
The Army has reprimanded the former commander of the Aberdeen training base in Maryland for sexual harassment and misconduct that occured while he was there.
Major General Robert Shadley plans to contest the action, given that military reprimands have been known to end careers. Twelve staff members at Aberdeen were charged with crimes, ranging from verbal harassment to rape. Shadley's defenders claim he was too high in the chain of command to know about their actions, while some members of Congress assert that senior officials need to be held accountable.
Army leaders also recommend that basic training be extended another week to teach "ethics and values" and combat sexual misconduct at military bases worldwide.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., are sponsoring bills that would require insurance companies to pay for 2-day hospital stays and reconstructive surgery for women who have had masectomies.
Because the bill has stagnated in the House Commerce Comittee, the two women are using the Internet to start an online petition to pressure Congress to act.
Chancellor Robert Berdahl of University of California-Berkeley said that over the long term, ending affirmative action in admissions will have a devastating impact on the school's diversity.
Since affirmative action programs in graduate schools were banned starting this fall, the number of blacks and Hispanics in Berkeley's law school has dropped from 52 in last year's entering class to 8 this year.
While Berdahl does not expect undergraduate diversity to plummet as much, he predicts banning affirmative action will spread to other public universities, leading to a nationwide decrease in the number of non-white college students.
D.C. Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby has promised to fire any police officer who has pleaded guilty to or been convicted of domestic abuse. Soulsby, along with hundreds of police chiefs across the nation, is preparing to enforce the federal Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. This law went into effect on September 30, 1996, and prohibits convicted domestic abusers from possessing firearms or ammunition. The ban applies police and military officers as well as to the general public.
Soulsby also will examine police records, court files and personnel records to identify other officers that have been accused of domestic abuse but were not charged or were acquitted. Soulsby may weed out some of these officers as well, depending on the particular circumstances of each case. "Domestic violence is one of our worst behavioral problems," said Soulsby. "Officers are paid to keep the peace, and some of them can't keep it in their own households. We can't have that kind of behavior. It's illegal, it's inappropriate and it's unprofessional. We're going to stop it."
Eighteen D.C. officers are currently on administrative leave for domestic violence incidents and at least 100 officers have been accused of domestic violence in the past.
9/10/1997 - House Protects Teens' Contraceptive Rights
By a vote of 220-201, the House defeated a bill that would have required federally funded clinics to notify parents in writing five days before providing birth control to minors.
While conservatives argued that government aid to clinics encouraged teen sex, opponents of the bill said it would frighten away teens and increase the rates of STDs and pregnancy.
District of Columbia Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said, "It's impossible to pretend today that families need only get together and they can straighten this out. There is no family life for many I represent, let alone communication within the family."
An international survey of 1,332 employees and managers in Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand found that women managers were thought to work harder than men, to better encourage innovation and change, and to give superior positive feedback to their employees. Women managers were judged better at soliciting new ideas and instituting procedural changes, inspiring employees, and being "open about unpleasant facts." Women were equal to men in mediating conflict, allowing employees to make their own decisions, showing confidence in and "not blaming" an employee.
The survey was conducted by DDI Asia Pacific, a consultancy firm which specializes in executive testing and selection. DDI consultant Linda Bisnette reported, "These results help to discredit the myth that women are unsuited to leadership positions and suggest that men might have something to learn from women about empowering leadership."
Harvard University has created a chair for Gender Studies within its Graduate School of Education. "It is an important statement that the issue of gender is now permanently a part of the university, an enduring and vital part of Harvard and its research program, " said Harvard psychologist and education professor Carol Gilligan, who will hold the position. Gilligan holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard and is best known for her studies of women's psychological development and of the ways girls learn.
Four women are endowing the chair, two of whom wish to remain anonymous. The other two are Elisabeth A. Hobbs and Emily H. Fisher, both graduates of the education school and members of its visiting committee. The four sponsors donated a total of $2.5 million.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, found that survivors of rape and other interpersonal violence were more likely than others to develop health problems and to increase their use of health services. The study, published in a series of three articles in the journal Behavioral Medicine, followed survivors for 3 years after the violent attack and found health problems ranging from psychological disturbances to chronic physical problems.
"You have a person who uses a set amount of health care and then they get raped. That next year, their health care utilization will increase 18%. They're going to their doctors, they have general complaints, they have panic, they have anxiety-related gastrointestinal distress," said Dr. Ron Acierno, co-author of the study. Use of health care services increased 56% in the second year after a rape and 31% in the third year.
Acierno stated that his report encourages doctors to be proactive in asking patients whether they have been assaulted, given that societal stigma prevents many from openly offering that information. "The people doctors are more likely to see -- especially on a repeated basis -- are assault victims, yet it's not being addressed." Acierno further recommends that medical schools begin training their students about violent assault and its effects on patient health.
9/10/1997 - AHA Says Women Unaware of Heart, Stroke Risks
In a phone survey of 1,000 women released yesterday, the American Heart Association (AHA) said only 8% view heart disease and stroke as their biggest health threat, despite the fact women are twice as likely to die from heart disease than from all types of cancer combined.
Dr. Martha Hill, president of the AHA, said that women tend to seek reproductive rather than comprehensive medical care, and believe only older women suffer from heart disease. The AHA says in 1995, 505,440 women died from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
To counter women's lack of knowledge about their heart disease risk and to encourage preventative measures, the AHA has started a national campaign called "Each One, Reach One!" By calling their toll-free number (1-888-MY HEART), callers can get an informational brochure and a phone card that will allow them to call three other women for 10 minutes to tell them about the program. AHA chapters nationwide also will be sponsoring activities and information campaigns.
To help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, women should exercise, stop smoking, keep at a healthy weight, get their blood cholesterol levels checked regularly. Estrogen therapy can also be considered.
Last Thursday, Anita DeFrantz became the International Olympic Committee's first woman vice president and Gianna Angelopoulos of Athens on Friday became the first woman bid committee president to win hosting rights for an Olympic Games. The achievements of these women are especially impressive given the Games' history of sexism in the Olympics. International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin believed that including women athletes in the Games would be "impractical, uninteresting, unattractive and incorrect."
"It is not the first challenge of my life," said Angelopoulos, "but it is the first challenge that has to do with my country in total, with Greece, with Olympism." If Angelopoulos chooses to head the Olympic organizing committee in Athens, she will become the first women to hold that position. DeFrantz stated "It shows that women's contributions are welcome and valuable and can be significant."
Former Citadel Cadet Jeanie Mentavlos on Monday filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations by The Citadel, the Citadel's governing board, the officer who oversaw the barracks where she was assigned, and five male cadets. Mentavlos stated, "I'm seeking justice. The major goal here is to make sure that it doesn't happen to anybody else."
Mentavos alleges that, during her one semester at the Citadel, she was subjected to taunts, attacks, and other abuses. One cadet allegedly approached her with pictures of lesbian sex and another cadet once entered her room wearing only underwear. An unidentified cadet reportedly rubbed his penis against Mentavos' backside and another told Mentavos that the first freshman to have sex with her would be deemed an "honorary upperclassman."
Mentavos further asserts that male cadets published digitally altered pictures of her on the Internet. The cadets altered the pictures of Mentavos so that she would appear to have a penis and exposed breasts.
The school disciplined 14 male cadets in response to Mentavlos' accusations, but a local prosecutor determined that there were no grounds for criminal charges. The Citadel has not yet made a public statement regarding the lawsuit.
9/9/1997 - Ten-Year Sentence for U.S. Anti-Abortionist
On Monday, September 8, James Anthony Mitchell was convicted for a Feb. 18 anti-abortion arson attack on the Commonwealth Women's Clinic in Falls Church, VA. Mitchell plead guilty to the crime and received a mandatory 10-year sentence. The clinic had just been firebombed in 1994.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert F. Parrish of the 1st Engineer Brigade, accused of having sex with a female trainee and failing to obey two general regulations, avoided a court-martial and was granted an "other than honorable discharge," per his request. The court-martial was scheduled to begin today in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Parrish is the third man to avoid a court-martial for sex-related offenses at Fort Leonard Wood. Another sergeant and drill instructor, Christopher L. Burns, is scheduled to face a general court-martial tomorrow for adultery, committing an indecent act, and failure to obey rules.
9/9/1997 - Auto Parts Maker Charged in Sex Bias Lawsuit
Former sales representative Lorrie Beno has charged Magna International Inc. with sex discrimination. Beno contends that, while employed at the auto parts manufacturing company, she was routinely grabbed and verbally harassed by male employees, and that her male colleagues regularly entertained auto executives at Detroit-area strip clubs in efforts to gain sales. The suit, filed last year, further contends that salesmen were reimbursed for thousands of dollars spent at strip clubs, while Beno was denied reimbursement for $70 ice pageant tickets.
A U.S. federal appeals court upheld the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in a ruling issued Friday. The ruling consolidated two separate appeals cases involving the Army's Lt. Andrew Holmes and the Navy's Lt. Richard Watson, both of whom were discharged from the military after disclosing their sexual orientation. Counsel for Holmes and Watson argued that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy infringed on their constitutional right to free speech. The court rejected this argument, claiming that the men were discharged based on their conduct, and not their speech.
Friday's ruling reinforces the military's right to discharge a service member "based on an inference of homosexual conduct from his admission of homosexual orientation, without corroborating evidence of conduct or intent." According to the appeals court, persons who identify as lesbian, bisexual or gay will be assumed "guilty" of homosexual acts or intent to engage in homosexual acts unless they can prove otherwise.
A new holocaust museum in Manhattan may not open its doors on September 15, as was expected. Sixteen Orthodox Jewish rabbis have sued the museum, claiming that an exhibit honoring gay and lesbian Holocaust victims is offensive to them and should not be supported with public funds. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, lead plaintiff and vocal opponent of gay rights, angrily objects to "the elevation of homosexuals to the martyred status of the six million Jews."
The museum is reviewing the lawsuit and has not yet issued a public statement. A hearing will likely be scheduled for this week.
U.S. Vice President Al Gore promised working women "labor rights, civil rights and human rights" in a speech delivered to an AFL-CIO conference this Saturday. "We can't be satisfied until the notion of equal pay for equal work is not just a theory but a reality in the lives of working women," Gore said. The three-day conference, a project of the AFL-CIO's Working Women's Department, concerned major issues facing working women and their families and drew more than 1,700 attendees. Women discussed ways to bring change, both on the job and in their communities.
9/8/1997 - Jones Rejects Settlement, Seeks New Counsel
Paula Corbin Jones is interviewing new counsel in her 3-year-old sexual harassment dispute with U.S. President Clinton after refusing a $700,000 settlement proposed by her lawyers. Jones counsel, Joe Cammarata and Gil Davis, asked for permission to withdraw from the case if Jones refused to settle. Jones refused to grant this permission, and Cammarata and Davis have since asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright for permission to withdraw from Jones' case, citing a "difference of opinion."
A spokesperson for Jones, Susan Carpenter McMillan, claims that Cammarata and Davis are "are hell-bent on settling" and "don't really want to go to trial." According to McMillan, Jones rejected the latest settlement because she disagreed with the wording of Clinton's apology. Cammarata and Davis have refused to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.
Venus Williams, a 17-year-old tennis star from Florida, on Sunday became the first African American women to play in the U.S. Open Women's Singles Final in 39 years. Williams follows Althea Gibson, who in 1957 became the first African American woman to play in the prestigious tournament final. Gibson won the U.S. Open two years in a row, in 1957 and 1958.
Although Williams lost her match on Sunday against top-seeded Martina Hingis, she won a great victory for people of color in a sport that is largely considered white and upper-middle class. Many speculate that Williams might become a "Tiger Woods of tennis," by stirring up new interest in the sport and by serving as a role model for young African American women.