Saturday, January 23, 2010

WeNews 21 Leader Survives Quake; 4 Haitian Activists Killed: Feminist Cheers & Jeers of the Week

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Saturday, January 23, 2010


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WeNews 21 Leader Survives Quake; 4 Haitian Activists Killed

By WeNews staff
Saturday, January 23, 2010


Lambi Fund of Haiti's entire staff and advisory board in Haiti have been found and are safe, reports Karen Ashmore, the organization's U.S.-based executive director. "Our office is still standing and Lambi Fund work in Haiti resumes right away," she said in an email to supporters.
The co-founder of the Lambi Fund, Josette Perard, is a Women's eNews 21 Leader for the 21st Century 2006. Lambi Fund of Haiti, in Port-au-Prince, is a nonprofit that helps poor women create economically and environmentally sustainable communities throughout Haiti.
Also safe is Michele Montas, the former spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Montas had an emotional reunion with Ban on Jan. 17.
Montas, profiled as a Women's eNews Journalist of the Month in 2004, is Haitian and served at the United Nations after leaving Haiti in fear for her life. Montas and her husband founded a radio station in Haiti that broadcast in Creole, the language of the people, not the elite.
The 64-year-old journalist survived her husband Jean Dominique's assassination and the murder of her own body guard. After a December 2002 threat on her life, she moved to New York.
In 2004, she told Women's eNews: "I want to go back, but it's not yet time."

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • For the first time in its 88 years of existence, Uganda's Makerere University, East Africa's oldest university, has graduated more female students than males this year, WeNews correspondent Raymond Baguma reports. This week, a total of 13,677 students are graduating from the university, of which 6,936 are female (representing 50.4 percent of the graduates). Also, the best overall student this year is Emmerentian Mbabazi, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in construction management. Over the years, the Ugandan government, through its affirmative action program, has promoted women's access to higher education.
  • A court in Abu Dhabi has jailed 13 Syrians for trafficking Moroccan women to the United Arab Emirates to work as prostitutes, the BBC reported Jan. 19. Seven men were given life sentences, while five other men and one woman were jailed for 10 years each. According to court documents, the trafficked womensome as young as 19were lured with the promise of well-paid work.
  • France's leading newspaper, Le Monde, appointed a woman as executive editor on Jan. 18, a first in its 65-year history, the New York Times reported Jan. 19. The new executive editor will be Sylvie Kauffmann, 55, a former deputy executive editor and most recently a Southeast Asia correspondent for the paper. Kauffmann, who has been with the paper since 1988, will replace Alain Frachon, who was appointed in 2007.
  • A group of 30 Muslim leaders have issued a religious edict banning female genital mutilation in the West African country Mauritania, the Associated Press reported Jan. 18. Cheikh Ould Zein, head of the Forum of Islamic Thought, says the scholars believe the Quran does not endorse cutting young girls' genitals to limit their sexual activity as women, the article reported. He also said that the leaders agreed to preach against the practice at their mosques.


The international women's movement is mourning four Haitian leaders who died in last week's earthquake. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of the country's most active advocacy organizations working on behalf of women and girls, are confirmed dead, CNN reported Jan. 20.
Myriam Merlet was until recently the chief of staff of Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women and still served as a top adviser. She was also the founder of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media, collects stories and works to honor their names.
Magalie Marcelin, a lawyer and actress who appeared in films and on stage, established Kay Fanm, a women's rights organization that deals with domestic violence, offers services and shelter to women and makes microcredits, or loans, available to women.
Anne Marie Coriolan served as a top adviser to the women's rights ministry with Merlet. She was the founder of Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), an advocacy and services organization, and also helped bring the issue of rape to the forefront of Haitian courts.
Myrna Narcisse, director general of the Ministry of Women's Condition, was also killed, UNIFEM reported.
There is now concern about the future of Haiti's women and girls with these leaders gone. Even with all that's been achieved, the struggle for equality and against violence remains enormous, CNN reported.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • On Jan. 12 the feminist playwright and actress of Algerian origin, Rayhana, was doused with gas and narrowly escaped being burned alive when the lit cigarette thrown at her by two assailants failed to ignite, Women Living Under Muslim Laws said in a statement Jan. 21. The attack took place at a Paris theater as the 45-year-old actress was arriving to resume her role in a play about women in Algeria. The victim's family believes a link exists between the attack and the play's representations of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. In the weeks leading up to the attack, the actress said she had received threats and had filed a complaint with police on Jan. 5.
  • Ugandan women's organizations united to condemn what they termed "appalling" and "inhuman" police brutality against peaceful female demonstrators outside the Electoral Commission offices on Jan. 18, Uganda's Daily Monitor reported Jan. 21. The day of their arrest, several women from the cross-party organization, Women for Peace, clashed with police while demonstrating outside the commission's offices as they called for the resignation of the institution's chairman, Badru Kiggundu. More than 35 were arrested and 27 were later charged with unlawful assembly. A lawyer representing the women said that the suspects were allegedly ordered to remove their clothes and tortured by the police, Uganda's Daily Monitor reported Jan. 20.
  • An undercover study of Virginia crisis pregnancy clinics says women are not receiving accurate medical information, reported a local radio station WTOP on Jan. 20. The National Abortion Rights League found 35 of the 52 pregnancy counseling centers in the state were distributing inaccurate information on infertility, miscarriage, abortion, mental health, cancer, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. The misinformation included being told that abortions cause cancer and that when a doctor performed an abortion he could accidentally take out a woman's intestines. The unlicensed facilities, often run by abortion rights opponents, receive some funding through the state's "Choose Life" license plates. NARAL says 35 of the clinics do not have medically trained or supervised personnel on staff.
  • On Jan. 19 CBS approved an anti-choice Super Bowl ad produced by Focus on the Family, according to a Women's Media Center press release. The ad has already been filmed, is being celebrated in far-right religious circles and is ready for air. The Women's Media Center is crafting a campaign to address CBS' decision to air the ad and to protest the "unprecedented attack on women's reproductive rights during one of the most-watched televised events of the year," the release said.
  • Republican Majority for Choice announced shortly after the Massachusetts polls closed at 8 p.m. on Jan. 19 that Republican nominee Scott Brown defeated Democratic candidate Martha Coakley. Brown's win is the first time a Republican was elected to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since 1979. The Republican Majority for Choice reported that Brown had 53 percent of the vote and Coakley 46 percent, with third-party candidate Joe Kennedy holding 1 percent of the vote. The special election was held to replace Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died in August.


  • Newly-elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown introduced his two daughters in his victory speech by saying, "yes, they're both available," according to various media reports. He quickly corrected himself that Arianna, 19, a pre-med student at Syracuse University whose boyfriend was on stage, was not available, but that Ayla was. His unscripted comments quickly drew fire from conservatives upset that he offered his daughters on national TV, the U.K.'s Times Online reported Jan. 21.
  • An advertisement for an Air New Zealand competition that portrays older, single women as "cougars" who prey on young men at night is being pulled after incurring the wrath of both male and female rape victims in New Zealand, Reuters reported Jan. 18. "Cougar" has become a popular term for sexually aggressive older women on the hunt for younger men, but the term can be viewed either as misogynistic or a word of empowerment, the article reported. An online spoof documentary by Air New Zealand, promoting a competition for free tickets to a rugby tournament, tells of a so-called cougar starving herself during the day then "hunting large slabs of meat at night" by stalking young men at a bar. The voiceover says despite men's attempts to ward off the woman's advances, the cougar has "not tasted fresh meat for days" and drags her victims to her inner-city apartment, often forcing them to listen to "Enya or the Eurythmics."
  • A study released Jan. 19 by the Pew Research Center indicates that in 1 out of 5 married couples, the wife earns more than the husband, the Washington Post reported. The study shows a huge shift in 40 years, when this was the case in just 4 percent of American marriages. It used to be that marriage was one of the big ways in which women got an economic boost, according to Pew researchers. But today, more men than ever better their lot by marrying a smart, career-driven woman.
  • A 60-page booklet, called "Veil of Tears," was launched Jan. 19 by IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) News to showcase a collection of personal stories of loss and courage in childbirth as told by Afghan women, men and children. The stories in this booklet were originally recorded in local languages, Dari and Pashto, for IRIN Radio broadcasts from different parts of Afghanistan. They were transcribed into English for "Veil of Tears." Afghanistan is one of the riskiest places in the world for a woman in pregnancy or childbirth. An Afghan woman is 225 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in the United Kingdom, for example.

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