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5/2/1996 - Kenya Program Offers Help to Battered Women

A Kenyan organization called the Women’s Rights Awareness Program (Wrap) has released a survey which reveals high awareness of widespread violence against women but little willingness to take action against the problem. More than 70 percent of the women and men surveyed said they knew wife beating occurred in their neighborhood, yet nearly 60 percent said that women were responsible for the beatings, and 51 percent said the male perpetrators should not be punished. Only 3 percent of those surveyed said women should seek help through law enforcement. One woman who recently left her husband of 30 years to take shelter in Wrap’s home for battered women said that she expected her husband would have bribed authorities if she had reported the crime, and then he would have beat her again.

Women, typically less educated than men in most African societies, are looked upon unfavorably if they get divorced. Since August 1994, some 60 women have taken shelter at Wrap’s home which provides medical help and legal and psychiatric counseling. The International Federation of Women Lawyers has launched an campaign to educate the public about violence against women and to sensitize lawmakers, police, and others.


5/2/1996 - Japanese Women Challenge Sexual Harassment

On Wednesday (5-1), Washington Post printed a feature article on the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in Japanese companies. In Japan, the women men deal with on a regular basis are either office ladies” who are to do whatever their male bosses ask of them, or workers at hostess bars who are expected to treat the male customers graciously regardless of the men’s conduct. Women in both positions can expect to hear men comment on their beauty or breast size.

Japanese law does not provide victims of sexual harassment with much hope of receiving damages, and companies face little threat of being forced to change by costly litigation as in the U.S. In fact, only 20 sexual harassment suits against companies have been filed in Japan, and one of the largest cases only awarded $16,000 in damages to the victim. Most cases settle out of court for less than $10,000 after the company apologizes to the woman. Rarely do women get the transfers they request, and perpetrators are almost never fired


5/1/1996 - Anti-Affirmative Action Hearings Held in Congress

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday (4-30) on the proposed California initiative that will end affirmative action and gut sex discrimination if passed by California voters in November. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) publicly denounced for the first time the self-titled California Civil Rights Initiative”calling its language extraordinarily misleading.” Feinstein cited Clause C of the measure, which would gut sex discrimination law in the state and said the clause is considered an invitation to new discrimination.” Senator Carol Mosely-Braun also spoke out against the measure and made note of recent findings that preferences are given to children and friends of VIPs in the University of California system. Attending the hearing to support the initiative were UC regent and CCRI co-chair Ward Connerly and California Gov. Pete Wilson.

Another hearing was held Tuesday by the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee on pending federal anti-affirmative action legislation introduced by Senator Dole (R-KS) and Representative Canady (R-Fla). Testifying against the measure were District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center. The Justice Department has indicated it would urge President Clinton to veto the measure if it passes Congress


5/1/1996 - Abortion Waiting Period Signed into Law in Wisconsin

A law signed Tuesday (4-30) by Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson will require women seeking an abortion to consult with a doctor twice at least 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. Victims of rape who have filed a police report are not subject to the law, nor are victims of incest who have filed a police report in cases where one of the parties involved is a minor. Women who are incest victims of adult males are forced to adhere to the waiting period. Doctors violating the law could be subjected to fines up to $10,000.

Arguing that the law is unconstitutional, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin planned to seek an injunction Wednesday to prevent the law from taking effect. According to PPW president Severa Austin, the Wisconsin law goes further than similar laws in about a dozen states because it requires two visits rather than one. It also requires doctors to follow specific procedures in their discussions with patients including giving her booklets with pictures of fetuses and providing oral and written information about alternatives to the procedure and its risks.


5/1/1996 - Georgia Plans to Dismantle Black Majority Districts

A plan to reduce the number of state legislative districts in Georgia with black majorities has been approved by a federal court. The Justice Department and voting rights groups advocates have opposed the plan which is an interim plan that only applies to the 1996 election. The plan reduces the power of black constituents to elect black candidates. Redistricting plans have jeopardized the future black candidates such as Rep. Cynthia McKinney in Georgia and Corrine Brown in Florida.


5/1/1996 - Rapist Sentenced to 28 Years for 11 Rapes

A Sebastopol, California man convicted of 11 counts of rape and sexual assault against five women was sentenced Monday (4-29) to 28 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible. Lonnie Victory drugged the women, tied them up, and videotaped the rapes. The videos were shown in court and showed the drugged victims choking and vomiting, some while hooded and gagged. Victory’s ex-girlfriend, who turned Victory in to the authorities after discovering the tapes, agreed with the Deputy District Attorney that the sentence was appropriate.”


4/30/1996 - Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling Against Parental Notification Law

On Monday (4-29), the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 against hearing an appeal by South Dakota to restrict abortions for minors. The South Dakota law, which had been found unconstitutional by a U.S. appeals court, would have required minors to notify their parents 48 hours before getting an abortion. It was the only such law in the country that did not allow girls to obtain permission from a judge in place of a parent. The court also let stand a ruling that said the state cannot enforce criminal and civil penalties against doctors who fail to comply with the law.

Dissenting Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas have records of voting to let states outlaw abortion. A review of the appeal would require dissenting votes from four justices. The Court’s refusal to hear the case was regarded as a sign that it is not ready to take up the issue of abortion again after the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.


4/30/1996 - Togo Woman Speaks of U.S. Prison Conditions Upon Release

At a news briefing on Monday (4-29), Fauziya Kasinga said she would like the whole world to end the practice of female genital mutilation. The case of Kasinga, who fled her native Togo in 1994 at the age of 17 to escape FGM, will be heard by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals on Thursday, May 2. Kasinga is seeking political asylum in the U.S. because she says FGM amounts to persecution in Togo. Released from jail on April 24 after being detained for two years, Kasinga spoke softly and said, I thought the United States was a place of justice...Instead of receiving protection, I was punished by being put in jail.”

A year after Kasinga’s case was dismissed by a judge who called her claims unbelievable,” federal immigration lawyers now say her persecution claim may hold up, due to the deeply objectionable” nature of the tribal ritual which can result in severe health complications including death. According to an INS spokesperson, the agency will recommend that the case be used to set guidelines for immigration judges. Kasinga’s lawyer, Karen Musalo, said that the dehumanizing conditions” Kasinga endured in the U.S. immigration system could get worse if proposed immigration legislation passes Congress


4/30/1996 - Religious Leaders Support Veto of Abortion Ban

Protestant and Jewish leaders have signed a letter sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in support of President Clinton’s veto of a bill to ban a form of abortion used to save the life, health or future fertility of the woman. The letter, signed by nearly 30 leaders, was to be released at a news conference Tuesday as a response to criticism of Clinton from Catholic bishops who supported the abortion ban. Rev. Philip Wogaman received a transcript of the veto-signing ceremony from Clinton, who attends his church, and said he found the stories of the women who had to have the procedure compelling. Wogaman signed the letter which stated that the decision to undergo the procedure can only be made by the woman, who must be free to decide. Congress has not yet scheduled a vote to override the veto.


4/30/1996 - Detroit Man Convicted of Woman’s Murder

The man who attacked Deletha Word after a minor auto accident and forced her to jump off a bridge to her death has been convicted of second-degree murder. On August 19, Martell Welch, Jr. pulled Word from her car after it stalled on a bridge over the Detroit River. He proceed to rip her clothes off and slam her head against his car. Word jumped off the bridge as Welch approached her with a car jack. A jury deliberated less than five hours before convicting Welch of the most serious charge against him, a verdict that could lead a sentence of life in prison.


4/30/1996 - Breast Cancer Research Setback

According to research to be published in the April 30 issue of Nature Genetics, there may be unknown genes that cause familial breast cancer in addition to the identified genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. In December 1995, scientists had estimated that BRCA2 would play a role in 45 percent of inherited cases of breast cancer. However, a recent study of 49 families in Canada expected to carry the gene found that BRCA2 was responsible for breast cancer in only eight of the families. Other articles in the journal show that different ethnic groups have different mutations of BRCA2 and suggest that the gene may cause other forms of cancer in addition to breast cancer and may act in conjunction with another gene.


4/30/1996 - Religious Leaders Support Veto of Abortion Ban

Protestant and Jewish leaders have signed a letter sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in support of President Clinton’s veto of a bill to ban a form of abortion used to save the life, health or future fertility of the woman. The letter, signed by nearly 30 leaders, was to be released at a news conference Tuesday as a response to criticism of Clinton from Catholic bishops who supported the abortion ban. Rev. Philip Wogaman received a transcript of the veto-signing ceremony from Clinton, who attends his church, and said he found the stories of the women who had to have the procedure compelling. Wogaman signed the letter which stated that the decision to undergo the procedure can only be made by the woman, who must be free to decide. Congress has not yet scheduled a vote to override the veto.


4/30/1996 - Detroit Man Convicted of Woman’s Murder

The man who attacked Deletha Word after a minor auto accident and forced her to jump off a bridge to her death has been convicted of second-degree murder. On August 19, Martell Welch, Jr. pulled Word from her car after it stalled on a bridge over the Detroit River. He proceed to rip her clothes off and slam her head against his car. Word jumped off the bridge as Welch approached her with a car jack. A jury deliberated less than five hours before convicting Welch of the most serious charge against him, a verdict that could lead a sentence of life in prison.


4/30/1996 - Breast Cancer Research Setback

According to research to be published in the April 30 issue of Nature Genetics, there may be unknown genes that cause familial breast cancer in addition to the identified genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. In December 1995, scientists had estimated that BRCA2 would play a role in 45 percent of inherited cases of breast cancer. However, a recent study of 49 families in Canada expected to carry the gene found that BRCA2 was responsible for breast cancer in only eight of the families. Other articles in the journal show that different ethnic groups have different mutations of BRCA2 and suggest that the gene may cause other forms of cancer in addition to breast cancer and may act in conjunction with another gene


4/30/1996 - Togo Woman Speaks of U.S. Prison Conditions Upon Release

At a news briefing on Monday (4-29), Fauziya Kasinga said she would like the whole world to end the practice of female genital mutilation. The case of Kasinga, who fled her native Togo in 1994 at the age of 17 to escape FGM, will be heard by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals on Thursday, May 2. Kasinga is seeking political asylum in the U.S. because she says FGM amounts to persecution in Togo. Released from jail on April 24 after being detained for two years, Kasinga spoke softly and said, I thought the United States was a place of justice...Instead of receiving protection, I was punished by being put in jail.”

A year after Kasinga’s case was dismissed by a judge who called her claims unbelievable,” federal immigration lawyers now say her persecution claim may hold up, due to the deeply objectionable” nature of the tribal ritual which can result in severe health complications including death. According to an INS spokesperson, the agency will recommend that the case be used to set guidelines for immigration judges. Kasinga’s lawyer, Karen Musalo, said that the dehumanizing conditions” Kasinga endured in the U.S. immigration system could get worse if proposed immigration legislation passes Congress.


4/30/1996 - Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling Against Parental Notification Law

On Monday (4-29), the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 against hearing an appeal by South Dakota to restrict abortions for minors. The South Dakota law, which had been found unconstitutional by a U.S. appeals court, would have required minors to notify their parents 48 hours before getting an abortion. It was the only such law in the country that did not allow girls to obtain permission from a judge in place of a parent. The court also let stand a ruling that said the state cannot enforce criminal and civil penalties against doctors who fail to comply with the law.

Dissenting Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas have records of voting to let states outlaw abortion. A review of the appeal would require dissenting votes from four justices. The Court’s refusal to hear the case was regarded as a sign that it is not ready to take up the issue of abortion again after the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.


4/29/1996 - Women’s Party Gain Seats in California Student Government

Candidates from a coalition of the women’s party and other liberal parties won six of 20 senate seats in the Associated Students of the University of California. Renee Dall was the first women’s party candidate to win one of five executive office positions. The only remaining autonomous student government in the U.S., the ASUC represents 30,000 students and manages a budget of over $60 million. Both Dall and winning senator Courtney Powers, a former Feminist Majority intern, were inspired to run for the offices by discussion of politics and the importance of participation in student government at the Feminist Expo in February. They plan to mobilize students to defeat the anti-affirmative action initiative in California and to promote other feminist causes.


4/29/1996 - Women Go Public With Stories of Sexual Harassment at Mitsubishi

In an extensive series of articles in Monday’s Washington Post, women detailed some of their experiences with sexual harassment at the Mitsubishi Motor plant in Normal, Ill. Sandra Rushing said in addition to the daily jokes she endured, male co-workers fondled her breasts and crotch, drew pictures of her engaged in sex acts for the whole plant to see, and threatened to rape her. Rushing’s many complaints to her supervisor fell on deaf ears, she said. Rushing left her annual salary of $70,000 after one of the men who groped her was to become her supervisor. Rushing’s fiance and co-worker also quit.

The Post also reported on other women whose complaints of sexual harassment resulted in disciplinary actions against the women themselves. A related article described a situation in which the daughter of a woman plant worker was raped and murdered by a male co-worker after the mother refused his sexual advances. The case closed when the man committed suicide in his jail cell.

Mitsubishi is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the alleged sexual harassment of at least 300 women since the plant’s opening in 1988.


4/29/1996 - White Middle- Aged Men Take Advantage of New Virginia Gun Law

Of the 4,854 applicants for a concealed weapons permit in Northern Virginia in February, 91 percent were men, almost 97 percent were white, and a majority were between the ages of 39 and 50. Only 84 of the applications were rejected due to lack of handgun safety certification or felony charges. Opponents of the law which took effect last summer favor an amendment which would allow judges more discretion to deny permits in other cases.


4/29/1996 - Women’s Party Gain Seats in California Student Government

Candidates from a coalition of the women’s party and other liberal parties won six of 20 senate seats in the Associated Students of the University of California. Renee Dall was the first women’s party candidate to win one of five executive office positions. The only remaining autonomous student government in the U.S., the ASUC represents 30,000 students and manages a budget of over $60 million. Both Dall and winning senator Courtney Powers, a former Feminist Majority intern, were inspired to run for the offices by discussion of politics and the importance of participation in student government at the Feminist Expo in February. They plan to mobilize students to defeat the anti-affirmative action initiative in California and to promote other feminist causes.


4/29/1996 - China Cracks Down on Abduction of Women

On Sunday (4-28), China launched a national campaign against crime which will aim to reduce gang-related prostitution and the abduction and sale of women and children. As part of a revival of Beijing’s war on crime, the campaign was prompted by public concern over criminal gangs and a deteriorating social order. According to Ministry of Public Security, Zou Chuanji, cases of rape, murder, and theft increased by more than 10 percent from January to March.


4/29/1996 - White Middle- Aged Men Take Advantage of New Virginia Gun Law

Of the 4,854 applicants for a concealed weapons permit in Northern Virginia in February, 91 percent were men, almost 97 percent were white, and a majority were between the ages of 39 and 50. Only 84 of the applications were rejected due to lack of handgun safety certification or felony charges. Opponents of the law which took effect last summer favor an amendment which would allow judges more discretion to deny permits in other cases.


4/29/1996 - GREAT CALIFORNIA CON GAME STARTS NATIONAL TOUR

HIGH-STAKES SHELL GAME BEING PLAYED OUT WITH UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA SEATS AS THE CHIPS


The great California Con Game announced the start of its national
tour. Ward Connerly and Pete Wilson, top spokespeople for the
deceptive "California Civil Rights Initiative", are
kicking-off the tour with an appearance in Washington, DC, testifying
before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Pete Wilson is fixing the game so nobody wins. Wilson is being
sued by a student newspaper for his under-handed attempts to circumvent
the open meetings act and pass a ban on affirmative action in
the UC System without due process. The suit claims that Wilson
lined-up support from regents before the vote took place, a direct
violation of the Bagley-Keene Act, which requires that such meetings
take place in public.


His long-time buddy Ward Connerly is in this game and knows which
shell to pick, and he's selling this information to the highest
bidder:


We have volunteers, everyday of this year who are out there
trying to use their 'connections' to raise money for this University
of California and they call up and say 'Will you give me some
special consideration on this', we have to be very careful we're
not a bunch of purists about this and that we don't cut off our
nose to spite our face so we should not be stampeded into doing
something that's harmful to the university. KFI-AM, 4/17/96


"The CCRI campaign is a disgusting attempt to trick the people
of California," said Pat Ewing, Campaign Manager. "Connerly
and Wilson are sacrificing the women and people of color in California
on the alter of big money and political paybacks."


4/26/1996 - Girls Gain Valuable Experience In The 4th Take Our Daughters To Work

Yesterday over 5 million girls in 14 different countries participated in the 1996 Take Our Daughters to Work Day. Sponsored by the Ms. Foundation, the event was a wonderful opportunity for girls to experience a career at some of the most prestigious in organizations in the world. Over 500 girls went to work at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where they visited the Security Council and the General Assembly during the debate on Lebanon. Two hundred and seventy five girls joined their parents at the Department of Labor and received a pep talk from the Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, who urged them to ignore the fact that some jobs have traditionally been dominated by men. The Department of Justice arranged for the girls to attend a news conference by Janet Reno, the first female U.S. attorney general. The White House sponsored a discussion on early career development and organized activities on the White House web page. Bill Clinton remarked that he thought the event was, "A wonderful thing." An organizer of the event at the Texas Instruments plant in Texas, in which over 1,000 girls visited, emphasized the importance of girls learning about careers in technology and engineering because they have traditionally been discouraged from math and science.

Related Story:

April 25, 1996


4/26/1996 - Death Threat Received By Plaintiff In Mitsubishi Case

A woman involved in the sexual harassment lawsuit against Mitsubishi Motors found a note attached to her locker yesterday saying, "Die B----. You'll be sorry!" The death threat is not the first act of intimidation surrounding the case. Ten days ago a fire destroyed the home of a U.S. official who is investigating the case. The female employees involved in the suit have asked Mitsubishi that they be provided with 24-hour protection. Yesterday a coalition of 10 congresswomen, lead by Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), wrote Mitsubishi a letter reminding them to treat the plaintiffs with dignity and respect because American women are watching. Mitsubishi has aggressively targeted women as potential car buyers in their advertising campaigns. If they lose the lawsuit, Mitsubishi could pay a settlement of up to $10 million, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says is the nation's largest sexual harassment case ever.

Related Story:

April 25, 1996