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1/7/1997 - Women Make Slow Progress in Russian Politics

The traditional role of women as the family's backbone continues to dominate Russian society. Nonetheless, women are beginning to enter into the political and career-track doors as the country reshapes itself. Irina Khakamada, a rarity in that she is a female member of the Russian parliament and a political party leader, recently commented, "Politics is not a fair game, and gender is a great obstacle. But Russia is doomed to success. It will definitely, eventually, start accepting the values of the civilized world if it wants to avoid isolation." Another woman moving up Russia's political ranks, Galina Starovitova also commented that progress will be slow. "The current price of participation is just too high [for women]. For most of us, it is still a choice between a career and a family, because men here still expect their wives to cook dinner for them, and the 20 hour days of a politician do not allow that," Starovitova said. In the 450-seat Duma, there are 44 women (10%); in the 189-member upper house, only one woman serves (.5%); most recently, Yeltsin has not appointed any women to his top level posts.


1/7/1997 - Anti-Domestic Violence Law Disarms Abusive Cops

A recent law enacted to curb the continuing spread of domestic violence has begun to affect police officers. The law makes it a crime for anyone convicted of domestic violence to carry a gun. Many officers who had been convicted of such a crime have been reassigned to desk positions which do not require the use of a gun. While some police groups and officers have criticized the law, many others continue to support the law as necessary for the protection of abuse victims. Dallas Police Chief Ben Click commented, "I don't want people on this police department that don't have the maturity or self-control that is necessary to do this job." Jan Langbeing, also of Dallas, who works with domestic abuse victims commented, "If my husband hits me, and I call the police, it doesn't affect his job at all. If my husband is a police officer and I know that they would also by involved, maybe I wouldn't make the call, maybe I'd stay in that violent home just a little bit longer.


1/7/1997 - Sports Illustrated to Publish Magazine for Women

In the past five years, Sports Illustrated's women readership has increased by fifteen percent and now constitutes more than five million women. To meet the demand of the new readers and of a society which is increasingly interested in women's athletics, Sports Illustrated will issue a female version of its popular sports magazine in April. It will print two editions in 1997 and decide based on response how many to issue in 1998 and beyond. The magazine will target the "Title IX Generation" - women who have grown up with legislation requiring that males and females they have equal access to sports in schools receiving federal funding. The magazine will cover the personalities and issues in female athletics.


1/7/1997 - Dallas Cowboy Victim's Hospital Records Confirm Rape

An official familiar with the case of the woman who says she was raped by Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin and Erik Williams told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she had bruises consistent with rape. The doctors who examined her found bruises on the woman's back and thighs and found "vaginal bruising that's not consistent with voluntary sex." Police are still investigating the allegations


1/6/1997 - United States Abortion Rate Lowest in Two Decades

The rate of abortions in the United States in 1994 was the lowest reported since 1976. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has tracked abortions since 1972, reported that in 1994 21 of every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 had an abortion. In 1976 there were 312 abortions per 1,000 live births; in 1994 there were 321 abortions per 1,000 births in the U.S. The Center did not cite causes for the apparent decline, but other groups have stated that the causes include: an increase of women between the ages of 35 and 44 who are less fertile; increased availability and effectiveness of birth control, resulting in fewer unwanted pregnancies; and reduced access to abortions.


1/6/1997 - Citadel Invites Congressional Probe Into Hazing Incidents and Votes in New President

The Citadel's interim president Clifton Poole announced on January 3 that the school would welcome a Congressional probe into allegations that female cadets were hazed. U.S. Representative Steve Buyer (R-IN) had raised the possibility of a Congressional probe after cadets Jeannie Mentavlos and Kim Messer reported being severely hazed by male cadets. The two women reportedly would like to return to classes for their second semesters, but they have not yet made a final decision.

On the evening of January 5, The Citadel's governing board voted unanimously to appoint John S. Grinalds to serve as the school's President. Grinalds is a retired Marine major general and West Point graduate who has most recently served as the headmaster for an all-male, non-military boarding school. Grinalds is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Oxford University and the Harvard Business School. Commenting on the hazing allegations, Grinalds said, "I'm not that concerned about the immediate problems the Citadel has. We can fix those. The answers to the problems are within the corps of cadets and the faculty and The Citadel will be able to address those and make it through this transition."


1/6/1997 - Rwandan Women Wait to See if Attackers are Prosecuted

A study released in the fall of 1996 has found that during the 1994 genocide which left more than 500,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda dead, attackers also raped hundreds of thousands of women. Some were impregnated, some infected with AIDS, and others were sexually mutilated. The Rwandan government and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, however, has yet to charge a single war criminal with rape. Rene Degni-Segui, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Rwanda concluded in a 1996 report that rape was used as a partner to genocide. Member of the Hutu militia and soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forces systematically raped women, "Rape was the rule and its absence the exception," stated the report. The study found that at the very least 250,000 cases of rape occurred during the genocide. Another report, issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch/Africa, criticized the Rwanda Tribunal for failing to bring rape indictments. The new lead prosecutor for the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals, Louise Arbour, has vowed that rape prosecutions will occur, "It is definitely on the agenda. Maybe we haven't been sufficiently directed, but we have taken initiatives." Though international aid has poured $572 million into Rwanda to help victims, little of that money has been used to help women who comprise approximately 70 percent of the population.


1/6/1997 - Clemency Granted to Nine Battered Kentucky Women Raises Awareness of Domestic Violence in Legislature

In December 1995, then-Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones granted clemency to nine women convicted of murdering their abusive husbands and to a tenth woman convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband (See Related Story). The clemency allowed the women to be paroled before they had served half of their prison sentences; subsequently the ten women were paroled. A year later, the parole board has released information on all of the women's current statuses. Seven of the women have steady jobs, one is enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program and two others are receiving social security disability benefits. None of the women have violated any terms of their parole.

The women's release and their subsequent progress drew statewide attention to a law enacted to help victims of domestic abuse. The law holds that victims of domestic violence should have a special hearing to decide sentencing and parole. Despite the law, the ten women were never awarded such a hearing. When the Governor commuted their sentences, their supporters claimed that he did what others should have done for the women earlier, Kentucky Parole Board Chairwoman Helen Howard-Hughes commented, "I think the one thing we found was it was in the statutes, but a lot of people were not aware of it." Since the women's release, the General Assembly has passed a series of laws to help victims of domestic violence. For example, health and legal professionals are now required to receive training on domestic violence.


1/3/1997 - PBS Airs Abortion Pill Documentary

On January 3rd PBS will air, "The Abortion Pill". This documentary reviews the history of RU486 and the fight to introduce it into the United States. It looks at both sides of the issue in the continuing debate on abortion and the use of RU486. The show provides interviews with medical doctors, the producers of RU486, women who have taken the pill and activists on both sides of the issue.

Check your local program guide for air time information.


1/3/1997 - Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of Federal Law Used to Prosecute Sexual Harassment Claims

On January 7th, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in United States vs. Lanier and consider the constitutionality of using a Reconstruction-era federal statue for prosecuting state and local officials. The case involves Tennessee Judge David W. Lanier who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting five women who worked at the courthouse, including forcing them to engage in oral sex with him,. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, however, because federal prosecutors used a federal statute originally intended to protect African-Americans from local government brutality during the Reconstruction era.

Federal prosecutors have used the statute to bring to justice state and local officials who have victimized citizens but who are not generally prosecuted because of their ties to their states’ criminal law system. As a case in point, Lanier is a judge, the brother of the local prosecutors and his family has dominated Democratic party politics in the area for decades. The federal law states that it is a crime for anyone acting under the "color of law" to deny someone his or her "rights [as] protected by the Constitution." Federal prosecutors have used interpreted this Civil Rights Law to cover sexual assault because women have a right to bodily integrity. They have also used the law extensively in prosecuting prison guards who abuse prisoners. The Appeals Court ruled that, because the Supreme Court has not interpreted the law to cover such abuses, federal prosecutors cannot try persons under it because they cannot extend or create criminal law. U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger commented in response that, "it is clear beyond all doubt that an intentional sexual assault by a state official, lacking any conceivable justification, is a deprivation of liberty without due process of the law, and therefore may be prosecuted under Section 242 as a willful violation of rights protected by the Constitution."


1/3/1997 - Ireland Consider Reforms in Handling Violent Crimes Committed Against Women

A working group established in 1995 by the National Women’s Council of Ireland and funded by the Department of Justice has recommended eighty-four reforms to the Minster of Justice in dealing with violent crimes against women. Minister of Justice Mrs. Owen has pledged that some of the recommendations will go into effect immediately. Some of these reforms include giving rape victims their own teams in court and keeping them appraised of each step in the legal process. The report found that, "men’s violence against women and children is at crisis levels" in Ireland. It also found that too little attention is focused on the violence women face in the home (most of the legal and media attention is focused on "stranger danger"), only ten to fifteen percent of domestic abuse if reported. And, while half of rapes are reported, the conviction rate remains small.


1/3/1997 - Girl Expelled From School for Wearing Lipstick Files Suit

A thirteen-year-old girl, suspended from a Pikeville, Kentucky school for wearing black lipstick, is back at school, sans lipstick, but is filing suit against the school. School officials suspended Karla Chapman on November 13th for wearing lipstick which caused a "distraction" to other students. She was suspended for three days and was then turned away three times when she came back to school wearing the lipstick. She is currently being transferred to a school where wearing black lipstick will not make her a student in bad standing. The American Civil Liberties Union has helped Chapman file a lawsuit which claims that the school’s dress code is too vague.


1/3/1997 - Women Slowly Making Progress in Workplace

A new study conducted by the Population Reference Bureau has found that women have made slow progress toward achieving equity with men in the workplace. The study found that between 1970 and 1995 the share of women 25 to 54 who work outside the home climbed from 50 percent to 76 percent. Women have also continued to increase their numbers among college graduates. In 1993, among whites, women earned 54 percent of bachelors degrees and 44 percent of doctoral degrees in 1994. Among African-Americans, women earned 63 percent of bachelor degrees and 55 percent of doctoral degrees in 1994. The study also found, however, that women continue to remain responsible for the majority of housework, even as their hours at work are increasing. Women also continue to face a large wage gap.


1/2/1997 - Oklahoma Abortion Clinic Bombed

Two bombs were thrown inside of a Tulsa, Oklahoma abortion clinic on New Year's Day. No staff or patients were injured because the clinic had been closed for the holiday; the clinic did sustain minor smoke and fire damage. Sherri Finik, director of the Reproductive Services Clinic said that the clinic has added motion sensors to its security system and will remain open. The police are investigating and have not yet identified any suspects.


1/2/1997 - Dallas Cowboy Stars Accused of Sexual Assault

A twenty-three year-old woman has accused Dallas Cowboy players Michael Irvin and Erik Williams of sexually assaulting her at Williams' home in Dallas. The woman claims that Irvin held a gun to her head while Williams and another man raped her. Irvin is already on probation after pleading no contest to a cocaine possession charge.


1/2/1997 - Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Washington Times Appeal in Sex Discrimination Suit

On December 15th, the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in The Washington Times Corp. vs. Derman, a sex discrimination suit the newspaper lost in lower courts. Last year, a federal jury awarded Julie Berman $47,185 in compensatory damages and $789,185 in punitive damages after finding that the Washington Times had discriminated against the graphic artist in its promotion department. The paper alleged in its appeal that Berman's lawyer improperly addressed the jury in the closing arguments by alleging that the paper had tried to cover-up the discrimination and deliberately destroyed paperwork. The appeals court upheld the award, stating, "The jury had sufficient evidence before it to support the conclusion that the Times deliberately created intolerable working conditions for Berman, either in retaliation for her internal complaints of harassment or because of her sex."


1/2/1997 - Female Cadets' Lawyers Ask for Hazing Evidence from the Citadel

The lawyers of female Citadel cadets who were hazed during their first semester by upper-class cadets have requested evidence from the military institute. The lawyers are asking for a cassette tape taken from one of the women, Jeanie Mentavlos, when the upper-classmen discovered a concealed tape recorder she wore to prove the harassment occurred and the names of anyone who came in contact with the tape. The lawyers are also asking for a statement and anyone who came in contact with it that Mentavlos reportedly made to the school after she was hit across the face with a cardboard and wounded. And, the lawyers are requesting documents related to the confiscation of pornographic materials, weapons, alcohol, branding tools and fire-making material taken from cadets. The lawyers want to assess whether it is safe for the women to return to campus after the December break.


1/2/1997 - Supreme Court Asks Clinton Administration's Advice on Same Sex-Harassment Suit

The Supreme Court has asked the Clinton Administration to consider whether or not same-sex harassment violates federal law. The Court has put on hold a decision of whether or not to hear a case involving a man allegedly harassed by his male co-workers and supervisor at an oil rig until it hears an opinion from the Justice Department. Joseph Onacle alleges that his direct supervisor, John Lyons, and another supervisor, Danny Pippen, sexually harassed and threatened to rape him while he worked at the Sundowner Offshore Services oil rig. Though he reported the incidents to the companies top level officials, no action was taken. A federal judge throw out the case, stating that same-sex harassment is not covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the case, Oncale vs. Sundowner Offshore Services last May.


12/23/1996 - Department of Justice Enters Prop 209 Legal Fray

President Clinton's Press Secretary, Mike McCurry, announced on December 20th that the Department of Justice will intervene on behalf of opponents of the anti-affirmative action California Proposition 209. McCurry said that the President, who strongly opposes Prop 209, and lawyers for the Department of Justice examined the Constitutional issues involved in the proposition thoroughly before deciding to intervene. The department now contends, along with opponents of the Prop 209, who have brought suit against it, that it denies women and people of color opportunities available to other groups, such as veterans. The department is basing its case mainly on a 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Washington vs. Seattle School District in which the Court struck down a local ordinance limiting school busing. The Court ruled that the ordinance made it harder for African-Americans to petition the government for remedies against discrimination. Though the President opposed Prop 209, he did not want to act against the voters of California unless he had a Constitutionally sound basis; McCurry said, "the president as the chief constitutional officer has to act."


12/23/1996 - Three College Basketball Players Taped Alleged Gang-Rape

After watching a videotape made by three former college basketball players accusing of recording their gang-rape of a female student, a judge has decided the men will stand trial. Four men accused of raping or helping to rape the woman were expelled from Southwestern Michigan College on November 7, six days after the alleged attack on a 19-year-old woman who had passed out in an apartment near campus.


12/23/1996 - Jury Award Upheld Against Anti-Abortion Groups

The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas decided on December 19 to uphold a $1 million jury award against two anti-abortion groups who staged demonstrations at Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas during the 1992 Republican Convention. The three-judge panel ruled that the group's use of firebombing and death threats was "highly offensive and repugnant


12/23/1996 - South Carolina Naval Brig Under Investigation for Sexual and Racial Harassment

The Navy and Air Force are investigating charges of sex and race harassment at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station. The Post and Courier papers said they received two written Navy reports indicating a climate of racial and sexual tension at the brig. The report did not recommend immediate punishment for the military prison's Navy Commander George Admire, but it did acknowledge that he might not be able to resume his post beyond a scheduled command change in April.


12/23/1996 - South Carolina Naval Brig Under Investigation for Sexual and Racial Harassment

The Navy and Air Force are investigating charges of sex and race harassment at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station. The Post and Courier papers said they received two written Navy reports indicating a climate of racial and sexual tension at the brig. The report did not recommend immediate punishment for the military prison's Navy Commander George Admire, but it did acknowledge that he might not be able to resume his post beyond a scheduled command change in April.


12/23/1996 - Serial Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Exposed

The Washington Post reported Sunday, December 22, on a number of sexual harassment cases in the workforce. One major incident of “serial” sexual harassment in which a harasser’s actions impact numerous women involved Dan Wassong, chief executive of cosmetic company Del Laboratories. After 15 women told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Wassong had asked them for oral sex, assaulted them, urinated with the restroom door open, worked in his underwear and used offensive language, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Del and Wassong alleging that Del tolerated the harassment waged by Wassong. Without admitting wrongdoing, Del settled the case in 1995 for $1.2 million.

In another case of serial sexual harassment, women at Baker and McKenzie, the largest law firm in the U.S., complained that partner Martin Greenstein inappropriately touched them, pressured them for sex, made sexual remarks, and caused their ultimate resignation. A judge significantly reduced the $7 million settlement granted to the secretary who was harassed by Greenstein after he was transferred to another office; Baker and McKenzie have appealed the verdict with a decision expected next year. A number of witnesses testified that Greenstein talked about hot-tubbing and made other inappropriate gestures or comments, but lawyers for Baker and McKenzie expect further reduction of the settlement.

Though Baker and McKenzie terminated Greenstein in 1993, the Post reports that many companies prefer to allow harassers to stay on than risk an accusation of wrongful termination. Sexual harassment expert Freada Klein said that she has been told by companies who pay off women who bring complaints, “this is the cost of doing business ... this guy brings in millions of dollars in business a year,” refusing to acknowledge the cost to the women who are harassed.


12/23/1996 - Women Demand Resignation of Indiana Representative from Army Sex Scandal Panel

Vice President of the National Organization for Women Karen Johnson said that Rep. Steven Buyer (R-Indiana) should step down from the Congressional panel investigating claims of pervasive sexual harassment at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ordnance Center in Maryland. Buyer, an Army Reserve major, said that the scandal was the result of a "few bad apples." Johnson said Buyer's Army position represented a conflict of interest.