Monday, June 14, 2010

Feminist Cheers & Jeers of the Week: Female Teen Sailor Found; Iranian Journalist Jailed

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Saturday, June 12, 2010
Female Teen Sailor Found; Iranian Journalist Jailed
By WeNews Staff
Saturday, June 12, 2010


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Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old American teen who attempted to sail around the world on her own, has been found a day after she had gone missing in the Indian Ocean, reported the BBC June 11.
Sunderland sent distress signals after her yacht was pounded by huge waves nearly 2,000 miles off the south African coast and midway to her destination in Australia. Her father said Sunderland would not be resuming her round-the-world attempt.
Sunderland's story comes just a month after Australia's Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail around the world non-stop, solo and unassisted at age 16, reported Agence France-Presse.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.5 billion on June 7 in a joint push with the U.N. to improve the health of women and children, reported Reuters June 8. Melinda Gates and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described a comprehensive approach through 2014 to bring improvements in women's and children's health, including the areas of prenatal care, access to contraception and promotion of education on vaccination, nutrition and breastfeeding.
  • The National Center for Women and Information Technology released June 10 a report titled "Women in IT: The Facts." The report indicates that the technology industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S, with more than 1.4 million potential new computing-related job openings by 2018. As the industry has so far failed to attract highly-qualified women to move into these jobs, the report addresses the role of women's participation in the rapidly-expanding field. The report also documents the wage gap in the computer industry.
  • Democrats are looking to repeal a longtime ban on abortions performed at U.S. military hospitals overseas, reported FOX News June 9. The bill, part of an amendment to the defense authorization bill, threatens policy enacted during the Clinton administration that restricts abortions at military hospitals to only cases of rape, incest or if the woman's life is threatened.
  • Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa are the first in the nation to administer abortion pills by videoconference with a physician, reported The New York Times June 8. After an in-person exam with a nurse, the patient videoconferences with a physician. Afterward, the physician can press a button remotely that releases the drawer in front of the woman containing bottles for two pregnancy-ending pills--mifepristone and misoprostol. The concept was first promoted by Jill June, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2003.
  • Three anti-choice bills that would have had a detrimental impact on women's health and safety have been beaten back in the New York Assembly Health Committee, according to a Huffington Post blog June 7.
  • The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that same-sex couples must be treated the same as heterosexual couples under a feature of California tax law, reported The Wall Street Journal June 5. Advocates for the change say it is the first time the agency has acknowledged same-sex couples as a unit for tax purposes. Couples in Nevada and Washington--community-property states that also recognize domestic partnership--may also be affected. The IRS said the nearly 58,000 couples who are registered as domestic partners in California must combine their income and each report half of it on their separate tax returns. Same-sex couples account for an estimated 95 percent of the state's domestic partnerships.
  • The nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides announced the first trial among women in Africa to test a potential HIV-preventing vaginal ring, according to the organization's June 8 press statement. The ring contains an antiretroviral drug that may prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. The clinical trial will test the vaginal ring's safety and acceptability.
  • Faith Matters, an interfaith community cohesion and conflict resolution organization, has launched a report naming England's top 100 mosques that meet the needs of Muslim women, reported the organization June 7. The report is based on interviews with over 100 Muslim women living across England from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somali and Turkish communities and assesses approximately 500 mosques throughout the country. Criteria in assessing the mosques included the provision of separate prayer spaces for women, services geared toward women and an Iman or female scholar who is accessible to women.
  • Taking serious note of the fact that reproductive rights of women were still not guaranteed in spite of various schemes that are in place, the Delhi High Court in India has awarded compensation to two women who gave birth on the streets because of the government's negligence, reported sifynews June 6.


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Iran sentenced award-winning journalist Jila Baniyaghoob to jail for one year and banned her from writing for 30 years, reported Agence France-Presse June 9. Baniyaghoob was arrested a year ago and charged with propaganda against the Islamic regime over her reports on last year's disputed presidential election and the protests following the official results. In 2009, the International Women's Media Foundation gave Baniyaghoob its Courage in Journalism award.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A Saudi cleric has issued a decree permitting unrelated women and men to mingle so long as the man drinks the woman's breast milk, reported The Los Angeles Times June 10. Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, a scholar and consultant at Saudi Arabia's royal court, has called for women to give men breast milk--not directly from the breast--to establish maternal relations and get around the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on mixing between men and women who are unrelated. Islamic tradition stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a degree of maternal bond, even if a woman breastfeeds a child who is not her own.
  • Young children of women abused by their partners are at an increased risk of being obese, finds a Boston University study, reported Reuters June 8. The study looked at nearly 1,600 children born between 1998 and 2000, most of whom were born to unmarried parents. It indicated that the more often abuse occurs, the higher the risk that pre-school children--especially girls--will be obese. Children whose mothers reported being chronically abused by a partner were 80 percent more likely to be obese at age 5, compared to children whose mothers reported no abuse.
  • As an estimated half-million soccer fans descended on South Africa for the World Cup, which began June 11, there are increasing concerns that more people will become victims of human trafficking and that younger women and girls, in particular, will be at risk, reported ESPN's "Outside the Lines" June 7. Patric Solomons, director of the Cape Town-based children's advocacy group Molo Songololo, believes the magnitude of the World Cup will definitely have an impact and fears that a host of factors--including a huge, impoverished lower class and no laws specifically criminalizing all forms of human trafficking--make South Africa uniquely susceptible to exploitation by human trafficking syndicates, reported the article.
  • To care for the growing number of obese pregnant women, hospitals are buying longer surgical instruments, more sophisticated fetal testing machines and bigger beds, reported The New York Times June 5. The problem has become so acute that five New York City hospitals--one of which says 38 percent of its pregnant women are obese--have formed a consortium to determine how to handle the situation.


  • A study finds that children of women who took the epilepsy drug valproic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have serious birth defects, reported HealthDay News June 9. Specifically, babies whose mothers took valproic acid during the first trimester were 12.7 times more likely to have a spinal court defect, 2.5 times more likely to have a heart defect and five times more likely to have a cleft palate than babies of mothers who did not take the drug. The absolute risk of having a baby with any of these defects, however, remains small.
  • On Super Duper Tuesday female candidates from both political parties emerged victorious, reported The Washington Post June 9. Women winning nominations for U.S. Senate seats include Arkansas' incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), Nevada's former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) and California's former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina (R). She will face a female opponent in the general election, incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). Gubernatorial nominations included California's former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman (R) and South Carolina's Rep. Nikki Haley (R).
  • Research shows that cases of domestic violence increase by nearly 30 percent in England on soccer match days. In response, Greater Manchester has launched a domestic abuse campaign to run up to and during this year's World Cup, reported End the Fear June 9. The campaign includes a series of posters incorporating images of a football shirt, a remote control and a broken beer bottle, which will be displayed in locations such as hospitals, doctors' offices and licensed premises. The advertisements containing information on domestic abuse support services will also run on buses.
  • Singer Chris Brown has postponed his tour in Britain after being denied a visa to enter the country in a decision linked to his criminal record, reported Reuters June 8. In August 2009, Brown was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting then-girlfriend singer Rihanna. Britain's Home Office said: "We reserve the right to refuse entry to the U.K. to anyone guilty of a serious criminal offense. Public safety is one of our primary concerns. Each application to enter the U.K. is considered on its individual merits," reported Reuters.
  • A half-dozen Catholic reform groups pushing for women to be ordained as Roman Catholic priests marched on the Vatican June 8 to promote their cause, reported the Associated Press. The march on St. Peter's Square occurred on the eve of a three-day Vatican rally marking the end of the church's yearlong celebration of the priesthood.
  • Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas resigned June 7 over comments she made concerning Jews in the Middle East, reported The Guardian June 9. Thomas, 89, reported on the White House for half a century and through nine U.S. presidential administrations. She is recognized as a trailblazer for women in journalism and, among many firsts, was the first female officer of the National Press Club and first female president of the White House Correspondents' Association.
  • Kavita Ramdas, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, announced in a press release June 7 that she was stepping down as of September 15, after 14 years at the fund. Ramdas, a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2003, said she would be on sabbatical until June of next year. She added that the fund expects to have a new president in place by early 2011. Ramdas' announcement comes on the heels of Sarah Gould's announcement on May 26 that she would leave as head of the Ms. Foundation after 25 years. Gould is a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2009.
  • A Nevada state senator says he wasn't intending to bribe a rape victim's sister when he left her a message suggesting it could be "financially beneficial" if she told the truth, the Associated Press reports. Republican Sen. Dennis Nolan acknowledges making the May 19 call but says he just wanted to coax the woman to meet with him so he could wear a "wire" and record what she said. The rape case involves Gordon Lawes, a friend of the senator. The 28-year-old was convicted in 2008 of raping a 16-year-old girl; he was sentenced to life in prison with possible parole after 10 years.

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