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3/24/1997 - American Cancer Society Urges Yearly Mammograms for Women in Forties

Revising earlier guidelines, the American Cancer Society announced on March 23rd that women in their forties should receive annual mammograms. The National Cancer Institute is expected to make similar recommendations this week. In January, a federal advisory panel concluded that women in their forties should consult their doctors and make their own decisions regarding the yearly mammograms. The finding was criticized by some in light of new evidence presented to the panel which shows decreased breast cancer deaths for women in their forties who receive the yearly mammograms.


3/24/1997 - Ellen "Coming Out" Episode to Air April 30; ABC Refuses to Air Lesbian and Gay Rights Commercial

On April 30th, Ellen Degeneres's television character Ellen will reveal that she is a lesbian. The hour-long episode, which will air in one or two segments, includes guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge and Billy Bob Thornton. Immediately following the episode, Degeneres will make her own sexuality clear during an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Prime Time Live.

Heralded for its progressiveness in airing the first sitcom to feature a lesbian or gay lead character, in an ironic twist ABC Network has refused to air an ad from a lesbian and gay rights group. The ad shows two co-workers surprised that their company has fired a fellow worker for being a lesbian. It is designed to garner support for a federal law banning job discrimination to persons based on sexual orientation. David Smith, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign commented that ABC, "determined that an actual depiction of a fact of life for gay people in this country falls under the judgment of controversial advertising. We strongly disagree with that judgment on their part." The Campaign has found 59 of the 79 local markets are willing to run the ad and will do so during local ad time.


3/24/1997 - Female Genital Mutilation Outlawed in U.S. as of March 29th

A law passed by Congress last September which outlaws female genital mutilation in women under 18 takes effects on March 29th. The law, shepherded through Congress by ex-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), makes the procedure a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. An estimated 100 million women worldwide have undergone the procedure and approximately 160,000 females have been subjected to the procedure in the United States. The procedure can involve cutting the hood of the clitoris or the more drastic step of removing the clitoris and tissue at the entrance to the vagina.


3/24/1997 - Former Miss USA Sues Sultan who Allegedly Kept her in Captivity

Former Miss USA Shannon Marketic has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and his brother, Prince Jaji Jefri Bolkiah held her against her will and tried to turn her into their "sexual toy." Marketic is also suing Kaliber Talent Consultants who sent her to the Sultan's palace promising that the engagement would be modeling and a promotion, while aware that she was being sent to work as a "prostitute" for the Sultan and his friends. The first day at the Sultan's palace, when Marketic realized sex was expected of her, she requested to leave but was allegedly put under house arrest. At night she was allegedly forced to dance at parties, engage in sex and during the day was forced to watch movies of prostitutes killed. One guest allegedly shouted at her, "What do you think you are here for? You might have been Miss USA but you're a whore now." After 32 days of being detained, Marketic was given her passport and return ticket and given twenty minutes to pack and leave.

Marketic is suing the Sultan, believed to be the wealthiest man in the world, for $90 dollars. The Sultan has denied ever meeting Marketic.


3/24/1997 - Petition Claims Phillip-Morris Women's Music Label is a Trick to Hook Women to Smoking

A circulating petition claims that The Phillip-Morris Tobacco Company has released a new music recording label entitled, "Woman Thing Music" in order to attract more women to smoking. The company will give away free CD's of its female recording artists to persons who buy two or more packs of Virginia Slims Cigarettes. Martha Byrne a soap opera star for "As the World Turns" began a ten-city tour in February to promote the new label and a petition aimed at her and "As the World Turns" has circulated to expose the hazards of smoking. In 1994, 25 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 smoked and smoking among teenage girls has increased for five consecutive years.

For more information about the petition or concert protests, e-mail info@wldf.org or contact National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids at 1-800-284-KIDS.


3/21/1997 - House Votes to Ban D&X Abortion

The House of Representatives voted 295-136 on March 20 to ban the use of the D&X abortion method except in cases where it would save the life of the woman. The ban makes no exception for using the procedure when the woman's health is at stake. Doctors performing the procedure could face up to two years in prison and a fine for performing the procedure. The father of a fetus can sue a woman who has undergone the procedure if he is married to her.

The margin in the House is sufficient to override a presidential veto. Numbers in support of the ban have risen in part due to the recent claim by Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, that he lied about the number of D&X abortion performed annually. At a congressional hearing on the bill, NCAP President Renee Chilliun and other abortion rights leaders stood firmly against the bill and demonstrated the need for reproductive rights decisions to be made between women and their doctors, and not by lawmakers. Rep. Nita Lowney (D-NY) said, "This ban will put Congress directly in the operating room and impose the federal government in the doctor-patient relationship."

The Senate currently falls some seven votes short of a veto-proof vote and will likely wait until late April to vote on the measure. Last April, President Clinton vetoed the same identical measure because it made no exception for the woman's health. He has stated he will veto this bill as well.


3/21/1997 - Complaint Filed Against University of California for Admissions Bias

Civil Rights Lawyers filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on March 19, alleging that the University of California, having abolished affirmative action in graduate admissions, discriminates against women and people of color. The complaint claims that criteria favoring whites and men are still considered in UC's graduate admissions, a violation of equal educational opportunity requirements which would make the UC system ineligible for $1 billion in federal funds. In UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School, added weight is given to the grade point averages of applicants from predominantly white Eastern colleges while grades from predominantly black Howard University and Cal State Los Angeles (where black and Latino students comprise one-third of the student population) are discounted. The projected enrollment of Boalt's applicants of ethnic and racial minorities other than Chinese, Japanese and Korean is likely to fall to four percent in the fall of 1997 down from 25 over the past several years. Minority enrollment at UC Berkeley's College of Engineering is expected to drop by 33 percent while women's enrollment will likely drop by 25 percent using the remaining selection criteria without affirmative action.

Arguing that the graduate admissions policies at UC "have a discriminatory effect" on women, blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the NAACP, the California Women's Law Center, and Equal Rights Advocates filed the complaint. Affirmative Action will be abolished in undergraduate admissions at UC for Fall 1998.


3/21/1997 - Aberdeen Officer Gets Light Prison Sentence on Sex Charges

Aberdeen Proving Ground's Capt. Derrick Robertson pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 20 to only four months in prison on charges of adultery, sodomy, conduct unbecoming an officer and failing to obey a general lawful order. Roberston admitted to having sex with a 20-year-old female private under his command who came to him seeking advice about sexual harassment and abuse she had experienced from another male officer. Robertson could have been sentenced to up to 10 and a half years in prison for those charges and was cleared of the more serious charges of rape, indecent assault, and the obstruction of justice.

Seven other Aberdeen staff members have been charged with criminal sexual offenses, three of whom face courts-martial. Two others have agreed to discharges. Robertson, the first to face a court-martial, was the highest-ranking officer accused of sexual misconduct at Aberdeen. Newspaper accounts of the trial described Robertson as "relaxed" and "smiling" during the proceedings. The plea-bargain stipulated one year in prison but suspended eight months of that sentence.

The Congressional Women's Caucus has called for prosecution of sex offenders to be the Army's top priority despite recent concerns that investigators have been overzealous. The NAACP recently criticized the investigation and held a press conference in which five white female recruits said investigators tried to coerce them into saying they were raped by black men despite the fact that they had never made such charges. Over 50 women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse since the Aberdeen investigation opened in November, and members of the Congressional Women's Caucus have urged that the Army investigation be allowed to run its course.


3/21/1997 - Two Male Cadets Say They Reported Hazing At Citadel

On CBS' "60 Minutes," to air Sunday, March 23, two male cadets at South Carolina's the Citadel military college said that they reported incidents of hazing suffered by former cadet Jeanie Mentavlos to their tactical officer and that they were told to keep quiet about the abuses. Mentavlos and Kim Messer, two of the first four female cadets to enter the formerly all-male college, left the school at the end of the fall semester because of alleged hazing and sexual harassment. Two men in their company, Echo Company say they when they reported the repeated incidents of hazing, which included the igniting of Mentavlos' sweatshirt, the active duty military officer told one of the cadets, "Your roommate needs to keep his mouth shut and you need to tell him to keep his mouth shut." Both cadets say they were threatened with the loss of their Marine Corps commissions if they pursued reporting the charges. The Citadel denies their story and says the two were disciplined for failing to report the hazing. The cadets will be named on the March 23 program on which Mentavlos, her brother, Michael, and parents will appear.


3/20/1997 - Keep Guns Away from Abusers, says New York Times

A New York Times editorial urges members of Congress to support the law that prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a gun, and reject two bills that would gut that law. The law has come under attack from police organizations because it does not exempt police officers from the gun ban. The New York Times responds, "If anything, officers should be held to higher standards of conduct than ordinary citizens. Domestic violence is also an indication of an inability to deal with anger, a sound reason to remove guns from officers with this problem." Police groups argued that the law would throw too many police officers out of a job. But the editorial points out that many police departments, such as the New York City police department, do not hire police officers with misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence anyway. The gun ban law was passed last fall by a vote of 97 to 2 in the Senate. Source:


3/19/1997 - Alexis Herman's Bid for Secretary of Labor Looks Good

After her "brief and gentle" confirmation hearing on March 18, propects for Alexis Herman's approval for Secretary of Labor look promising. Herman, who would be the highest-ranking African-American woman in the administration, is a strong supporter of women's rights and minority issues, and was the youngest person ever to head the Dept. of Labor's Women's Bureau.

Herman is the only member of the Clinton cabinet who has not yet been confirmed -- her confirmation hearings were delayed because of questions about her involvement in White House fundraising efforts. But at her hearing, fundraising issues were hardly mentioned, and she was introduced and praised by two conservative Republicans from her home state of Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Sonny Callahan.

The Senate will vote on Herman's confirmation after Congress returns from their two-week Easter recess on April 8.


3/19/1997 - Women's Faces Corrupt Men, Says Taleban in Afghanistan

The extremist Islamic group controlling much of Afghanistan, the Taleban, ordered Kabul residents to paint their windows opaque so neighbors would not see women's faces inside the homes. "The face of a woman is a source of corruption for men who are not related to them," said a Taleban official.

Women continue to be harassed and beaten for not wearing the burqa, a shroud that covers women head-to-toe with a patch of gauze over the eyes. Women are still not allowed to attend school or work.


3/19/1997 - Ban on Gay Bias in Schools Passes California Assembly Committee

A bill to ban discrimination against lesbian and gay students has for the first time passed a California Assembly committee. The bill was introduced by the California legislature's first openly gay member, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica).

Currently in California students cannot be discriminated on the basis of race, religion, education, national origin or disability. Kuehl said her bill simply adds sexual orientation to that list.

Kuehl's bill still must go through more committees and then be voted on by the full legislature. It is not clear whether the bill will pass.


3/18/1997 - D.C. Police Officer Resigns in Light of Domestic Violence Conviction

District of Columbia Police Inspector Adrian D. Barnes has resigned amid findings that he was convicted in the early 1990s of abusing his wife. D.C. Police Chief Larry Soulsby said the recently-promoted high-ranking official did not report serving a year's probation for domestic violence. Officers in the department said that Barnes' domestic abuse charge was well-known, even "common knowledge" according to one retired high-ranking official. Yet Soulsby says he did not know about the incident or conviction until one of his command officers informed him a few days after Barnes' recent promotion.

According to a federal law passed in September, persons convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from carrying a weapon. The U.S. attorney's office is going to determine if Barnes violated the law by carrying a weapon. Law enforcement officers are not exempted from the domestic violence offender gun ban, though there are moves in Congress to gut the ban or to do away with its retroactivity.

Background checks of D.C. police officers are currently done only upon hiring or promotion. Soulsby, whose department has been criticized for hiring officers without doing background checks, says he plans to implement checks every five years.


3/18/1997 - Woman Pilot Takes Off in Amelia Earhart Flight Recreation

Texan Linda Finch took off March 17 on the first leg of her flight to recreate Amelia Earhart's attempted around-the-world flight at the equator. Finch will fly a restored, modernized version of the same airplane Earhart used: a Lockheed Electra 10-E. Finch, a millionaire businesswoman who owns nursing homes, found the plane in Wisconsin, had it shipped to Texas and spent two years restoring it.

Earhart disappeared without a trace over the Pacific Ocean during her flight. Thanks to modern communications systems, Finch's plane will be in constant communication with the ground, and a global-positioning satellite receiver will tell her exactly where she is at all times. Finch will drop a wreath over Howland Island, near where Earhart disappeared.

Updates of the flight will be provided at http:/www.worldflight.org/youcansoar.



3/18/1997 - Kennedy School of Government Grapples With Hate Mail

Following the distribution of white supremacist and anti-homosexual hate mail in student mailboxes at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, faculty and students conducted a "teach in" on March 17 to condemn the acts of bigotry and intimidation. Two separate fliers from a group whose name contains a slur against gays and lesbians; the first flier was given to four students who called for diversity in the faculty and curriculum in a co-authored student newspaper op-ed article. The second letter, which contained slurs against lesbians and gay men as well as people of African, Jewish, Asian, and Hispanic descent, was put in the mailbox of the op-ed editor of the student newspaper, The Citizen. Some have pointed to the overwhelmingly white faculty and student body at the school and a curriculum that does not address issues of lesbian and gay rights or of race as the context in which the hate mail should be considered. The second letter asserted, "We are all in favor of a white, heterosexual school...Our members have been seated both in the faculty and student body for years." Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr. has ordered campus police to conduct an investigation.


3/16/1997 - Supreme Court Allows Clinic Injunction Against Protesters to Stand

In a 6 - 3 decision, the United States Supreme Court has allowed a California state order requiring anti-abortion protesters to keep across a four-lane road from a California abortion clinic. Christine Williams and Citizens for Life had challenged the 1991 permanent injunction, but the California Supreme Court let it stand. The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule, but upheld the California Supreme Court’s ruling by refusing to take the case. Lawyers for the Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo clinic in Vallejo had urged the court not to hear the appeal, pending since 1995, because the protesters carried out "a pattern of harassment and intimidation of (the clinic’s) patients and staff."

The case is Williams v. Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo, 95-576.


3/16/1997 - Gender Gap Emerges in Book Buying

Publishers have noticed that within the past five years, women have increasingly out bought men at bookstores. A 1994 Gallup Poll found that women made up 59 percent of the fiction bookbuyers and 53 percent of the nonfiction book buyers. Further, women are demanding that books they read contain strong female characters. As a result, of the 10 hardcover fiction titles on The New York Times bestseller list, seven feature central female characters and an eighth features a storyline targeted at a female audience.

Women writers are finding an increased audience. Jane Rosenman, the executive director at Scribner recently commented, "When I think of the novelists of our parents’ generation, it was the Mailers and the Roths and the Bellows. In the last 20 years there’s been an absolute burgeoning of first-rate women writers." The increasingly female market has also had a strong effect in the publishing industry’s job market; a Time Warner spokesperson says that approximately three-quarters of Time’s editorial and sale executives are women. The spokesperson noted, "I think it’s fair to say publishing is a business where the editors buy from their gut. And if those guts are female, the odds are you’re going to be getting a greater mix of books with female sensibilities."


3/16/1997 - Howard University Coach who Won Title IX Dispute Creates Championship Team

In 1993 a District of Columbia Superior Court jury award Howard University’s female basketball coach, Sanya Tyler, $2.4 million in a discrimination suit against the university. Tyler had sued because the university failed to treat women’s and men’s teams equally as mandated by Title IX, federal legislation mandating sex equity in sports. The jury found that the women’s team got fewer and weaker resources and money than the men’s team. For example, the facilities for the women were much worse than the men’s, and the coaches did not receive either equal salary or support staff. Though a judge later cut that award to $250,000, Tyler gained a moral victory, and her actions have helped universities throughout the country. Tyler commented, "At the upper echelon of this university, they say they understand what this program brings to the table. What I’m waiting for now is to see if Howard really wants a winner, and, if so, is it willing to puts its money where its mouth is?"

Today, with determination and talent, Tyler has turned out a championship team which it ended this year’s regular play with 23 straight wins and subsequently won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. Last year, team members wore a shirt Tyler had printed under game jerseys which read, "Destiny is not by chance, it’s by choice." This year, Tyler printed up t-shirts which read, "We are what we constantly do. Therefore, success is not an act, but a habit."


3/16/1997 - Howard University Coach who Won Title IX Dispute Creates Championship Team

In 1993 a District of Columbia Superior Court jury award Howard University’s female basketball coach, Sanya Tyler, $2.4 million in a discrimination suit against the university. Tyler had sued because the university failed to treat women’s and men’s teams equally as mandated by Title IX, federal legislation mandating sex equity in sports. The jury found that the women’s team got fewer and weaker resources and money than the men’s team. For example, the facilities for the women were much worse than the men’s, and the coaches did not receive either equal salary or support staff. Though a judge later cut that award to $250,000, Tyler gained a moral victory, and her actions have helped universities throughout the country. Tyler commented, "At the upper echelon of this university, they say they understand what this program brings to the table. What I’m waiting for now is to see if Howard really wants a winner, and, if so, is it willing to puts its money where its mouth is?"

Today, with determination and talent, Tyler has turned out a championship team which it ended this year’s regular play with 23 straight wins and subsequently won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. Last year, team members wore a shirt Tyler had printed under game jerseys which read, "Destiny is not by chance, it’s by choice." This year, Tyler printed up t-shirts which read, "We are what we constantly do. Therefore, success is not an act, but a habit."


3/16/1997 - Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Update: Second Round Scores

East Second Round: North Carolina 81, Michigan State 71; Alabama 61, St. Joseph’s 52

West Second Round: Virginia 65, Utah 46; Georgia 80, Arizona 74

Mideast Second Round: Old Dominion 69, Purdue 65; La. Tech 74, Auburn 48

Midwest Second Round: Colorado 66, S.F. Austin 57; Illinois 85, Duke 67


3/16/1997 - Annie Oakley Star Gail Davis Dies

Actress Gail Davis, who portrayed the "gun-toting, pigtailed rancher" Annie Oakley in the popular 1950s show has died of cancer at age 71. In 1994 Davis, who created the first western to star a female, Annie Oakley, and who starred in many Gene Autry Westerns, received a "Golden Boot" award for her contributions to Westerns. Davis was a skilled rider and crack shot who often did her own stunts.


3/16/1997 - Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Update: Second Round Scores

East Second Round: North Carolina 81, Michigan State 71; Alabama 61, St. Joseph’s 52

West Second Round: Virginia 65, Utah 46; Georgia 80, Arizona 74

Mideast Second Round: Old Dominion 69, Purdue 65; La. Tech 74, Auburn 48

Midwest Second Round: Colorado 66, S.F. Austin 57; Illinois 85, Duke 67


3/14/1997 - Peru Moves to Strike Law Allowing Rape Offenders to Marry Victims

The Peruvian Legislature moved on March 12th to pass a law which would strike down a a penal code section allowing men who rape women to escape punishment by marrying their victims. The law also allowed men involved in a gang rape to go free if one of the men married the woman. ``It was an important victory not only for women, but for all of Peruvian society,'' Gina Yang of the Manuela Ramos women's rights group told TV Frecuencia Latina after the committee vote. Congresswoman Beatriz Merino, who introduced the repeal measure, was quoted as saying in the government's Andina news agency that, "`A norm that for decades has offended the dignity of all women has been eliminated."


3/14/1997 - Superior Court Rules New Jersey Not Mandated to Provide Benefits to Domestic Partners

A three-member state appeals panel sitting in New Jersey unanimously has ruled that Rutgers University does not have to provide health benefits to domestic partners. The panel concluded that the state is only mandated to provide benefits to spouses of state employees under a law established in 1961. The law, however, does not cover live-in partners who are not married. The decision could ultimately affect all of the state’s 600,000 employees and comes at a time when the state legislature is considering two bills which would outlaw same-sex marriages. New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman is opposed to same-sex marriages, but a spokeswoman said that the governor would not necessarily fight a law which would extend benefits to domestic partners. The state supreme court is not required to review the case because the opinion was unanimous, but parties on both sides of the issue say they expect the state’s highest court will grant review.