Monday, November 30, 2009

Fri, Dec 4: Join NOW in NYC as we Rally for Women's Reproductive Health Care!

Join NOW in New York City as we Rally and Speak Out for Women's Reproductive Health Care!

Press Release
November 30 2009
For more information contact: Marcia Pappas, 518-452-3944

National Organization for Women-NYS & Local NOW Chapters
Rally for Abortion Rights

ALBANY, NY (11/30/2009)On Friday, December 4, at 12:00 noon, the National Organization for Women-NYS, along with local NOW chapter representatives and prominent reproductive rights advocates, will gather outside the office of US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) at 757 Third Avenue (at East 48th St.) in New York City. According to NOW-NYS President Marcia Pappas, speakers will "recognize and commend Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Schumer for their pro-choice positions, but insist that women's reproductive health must not go back in time."

The focus is the Senate version of the Health Care Reform Bill, which restates the decades-old Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortion. Indeed, these Hyde Amendment restrictions are bad enough, having since 1976 forced many poor women into illegal, unsafe abortions with sometimes fatal results.

But a Stupak/Pitts provision in the House version of the Health Bill added restrictions far in excess of Hyde, preventing even privately-funded insurance plans from covering terminations of unwanted and/or unhealthy pregnancies. It is in this context that NOW-NYS President Marcia Pappas writes: "This worsening of Hyde restrictions must not be allowed in the Senate bill. There is no place in the health care bill for religious right-wing restrictions on women's health."

We further insist that our pro-choice Senator Shumer please never again endorse an anti-choice Democrat. The Democratic platform is stongly pro-choice, and had Democrats welcomed only candidates with this position, this grave danger to women's lives would not be rearing it's head in today's Health Care Reform Bill.

Pappas summed up the issue: "Feminists are not going to support a Health Care Reform Bill that throws fifty-two percent of the population under the bus."

Speakers include: Erin Matson, Action Vice President, National NOW, MarciaPappas, President, NOW-New York State, Sonia Ossorio, President, NOW-New York City, Julie Kirschner, Co-President, Brooklyn/Queens NOW, Rachelle Suissa , Co-President, Brooklyn/Queens NOW, Marilyn Fitterman, Former NOW NYS President, Mary Richmond, President, Albany Area NOW, Zenaida Mendez, President, National Dominican Women's Caucus, Jerin Alam, Chair of Young Feminist Task Force for NOW-NYS, Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can't Wait, Maretta Short, President, New Jersey NOW, Sandy Rapp, Feminist Performer, and Author Bill Baird, Abortion Rights Pioneer

Canadian Sex Workers Challenge Criminal Code

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Monday, November 30, 2009


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Canadian Sex Workers Challenge Criminal Code

By Wency Leung
WeNews correspondent
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sex workers in Canada are challenging the country's ban on activities associated with prostitution, arguing it conflicts with their constitutional rights. Opponents say decriminalization of sex work would increase sex trafficking.
Amy LebovitchVANCOUVER, Canada (WOMENSENEWS)--Amy Lebovitch has been a sex worker for roughly 12 years. She's offered sex for money on the streets of Montreal. She's worked for a proprietor of an illegal brothel. And now, she quietly plies her trade from her Vancouver home.
Working indoors allows her to screen her clients over the phone or Internet before meeting them, instead of furtively negotiating deals in strangers' cars, said Lebovitch, 30. It also offers her peace of mind to work in a familiar environment.
But the sense of security is relative, she said.
Although she now feels reasonably protected from the threat of violence she encountered on the streets, she worries that at any time authorities could charge her under a Canadian law that prohibits keeping a bawdy house and could seize her bank accounts and take away her possessions.
"Although I say, 'yes I feel safe,' there's another side to it, which is I don't feel safe (from) the police," she said, noting that she knows of many sex workers who have been charged under the country's prostitution laws. "It's very scary to think that you're not hurting anyone, you're working, you're making money . . . and in an instant, your life can be turned upside down."
Arguing for decriminalization, Lebovitch, Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott, two other sex workers, have brought their complaints before the courts.
In October, they appeared at the Superior Court of Ontario to challenge sections of the country's criminal laws that they say violate their constitutionally protected right to liberty and security. The sections in question prohibit keeping a bawdy house, soliciting sexual services in a public place and living off the proceeds of prostitution. The women are challenging all three sections.
They expect a court ruling in mid-2010.

Associated Activities Illegal

In the early 1980s, Canada's Ministry of Justice established a special committee to examine strategies to deal with prostitution. The committee rejected outright criminalization of prostitution because it concluded such a measure would lack public support, be nearly impossible to enforce and would "apply a narrow moral view by way of criminal sanction," according to government documents.
While there are no laws prohibiting the exchange of sex for money in Canada, most activities associated with prostitution are illegal, making it impractical to work within the law, the three women said.
That means sex workers are prohibited from taking measures to protect their safety, such as working indoors, even though the law drives them off the streets, Lebovitch said.
Because they can't be seen in the open, those working outdoors are forced to conduct business in secluded and dangerous places, she argued. It also means sex workers are barred from working in cooperatives and hiring private security.
Through their years of experience, the three women found the "laws were creating a lot of violence and a lot of deaths to ourselves and our colleagues," Lebovitch said.
The best known case of violence against sex workers in Canada is that of Vancouver's Robert Pickton, who was found guilty in 2007 for the murders of six women and is awaiting trial for the deaths of 20 others.
Lebovitch's colleague and friend was also murdered in Ontario more than a year ago, she said. She does not know whether a suspect was found.
"I don't believe that sex work is inherently dangerous," Lebovitch said. "It is the laws, the stigma (that are harmful)."

Others Oppose Decriminalization

Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice president of the Ottawa-based advocacy group REAL Women of Canada, which pushes to make prostitution itself illegal, disagrees.
Her organization, along with the Christian Legal Fellowship and Catholic Civil Rights League, submitted arguments to the court against Lebovitch's constitutional challenge, arguing that existing laws are "designed to protect the dignity of victims of prostitution" and that morality is the cornerstone of law.
Decriminalization does nothing to protect sex workers, but instead opens the doors for human trafficking and further exploitation, Landolt said.
"All it does is increase prostitution and it endangers women because far more women are out on the streets," she said. "They say that women are safe in brothels, but that's ludicrous. They're not safe there anymore than they are in the streets. It's just not a safe thing to do."
More effort must be made to help sex workers get out of the trade, since the majority does not wish to be in it, Landolt said.
Local media reported that the Ontario and federal attorney generals offered similar arguments to the court in favor of the existing laws.
"The global experience is prostitution remains dangerous regardless of the legal regime," Gail Sinclair, a lawyer for the federal attorney general, told the court.
Lebovitch, however, said sex work is much the same as any other occupation. She said she chooses to do it because she enjoys being able to work for herself and to earn money.
Sex work allowed her to pay for university, where she earned a degree in social work.
Lebovitch said she expects the attorney generals to appeal if the sex workers win their court case. If that happens, or if the court does not rule in their favor, Lebovitch said she's prepared for a long fight.
"I think people are somehow fearful of sex work," she said. "But what we fail to see is that there is a really bad situation going on right now. There are a lot of my colleagues being raped and murdered and the laws are not helping."
Wency Leung is a freelance writer in Vancouver.

For more information:

Sex Professionals of Canada
REAL Women of Canada

From Twitter 11-29-2009

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Wed, Dec 2: Take Action for Health Care Reform!


Hundreds of feminist, pro-choice activists are convening in Washington on Wednesday, December 2 to take our message directly to the decision-makers: Abortion is health care, STRIP STUPAK/PITTS!

The House of Representatives passed the House version of health care reform with the Stupak/Pitts amendment that guts abortion coverage for millions of women in the US. Stupak/Pitts not only restricts federal funds for abortion, but also restricts the type of coverage a woman could purchase with her own money!
We need your help! Millions of women across the country are at risk of losing abortion access and affordability at the hands of a few.
Looking for more details about how to make a difference on Stupak/Pitts and Health Care Reform? We're hosting a conference call this Monday to clarify what the Stupak/Pitts amendment does, opportunities for influencing the final bill, and easy suggestions for campus action! Please RSVP to join us!
Join us in DC on Dec. 2 for an Emergency Rally and Capitol Hill Visit Day! Make appointments with your legislators and demand they stand up for safe, legal, and accessible abortion! Then, between your meetings, join the rally from 11:30 - 1:00pm on Capitol Hill.
If DC isn't an option for you, take action where you are! Schedule a visit in the local offices of your congresspeople (especially when they're home during the week of Thanksgiving). Organize a campus call-in day and flood the phone lines of the Members' district and national offices. Write an op-ed. Hold your own rally. Circulate a petition and flood the fax lines while you're at it! Make your voice heard!
Women's rights and lives are not negotiating tools, and we will not stand for this!

In solidarity,

Wendy Matheny
Campus Program Director

P.S. If you're in the Los Angeles area, join us for a Stop Stupak Phone Bank at the FMF's Los Angeles Headquarters the evening of Dec. 1 and all day Dec. 2. For more information, email Allie at or call 1-866-471-FMLA.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Professor Urges More Translations to Arabic

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Sunday, November 29, 2009


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Professor Urges More Translations to Arabic

By Theresa Braine
WeNews correspondent
Sunday, November 29, 2009
A Saudi academic and a Moroccan politician outline what Arab women need. The list includes more translations of Western research to overcome regional isolation and longer careers. The academic also says women everywhere are facing a "happiness gender gap."
Muna AbuSulayman; Khalid Dawoud, Aljazeera New York correspondent; Fatiha Layadi (from left to right)UNITED NATIONS (WOMENSENEWS)--When Muna AbuSulayman started reviewing term papers from her college students that cited inadequately informed newspaper articles instead of professional journals and other more reliable materials, she had a small revelation.
Her students did not have access to scholarly publications.
The former co-host of a popular Saudi Arabian television show when she wasn't teaching at King Saud University in Rhiyad, AbuSulayman had been studying the papers her American literature students wrote for other professors and was wondering why they were of lower quality than what was written for her American literature class in English.
She realized that most journals and other professional publications were only available in English or French. However, in general, outside the enclave of the business world people grow up speaking only Arabic and students study for their college degrees in Arabic.
That got her thinking about intellectual isolation and the need for a huge translation effort to give Arabs access to information, something she raised at a recent session here on women's advancement in the Arab world.
These materials need to be made available not only to college students, she said, but also to those in high school, given that only 30 percent of Saudis earn a college degree.
"Otherwise we'll never be able to leave the isolated, underdeveloped, gray world we live in," said AbuSulayman, a U.S.-born Saudi who is currently the secretary-general of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, a Saudi-based charitable foundation focused on women's empowerment, poverty alleviation, disaster relief and dialogue between Islam and the West. She is also a world fellow at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund.
While arguing that Arab women need more access to a European sensibility, she said that that didn't mean they should adopt a Euro-style agenda.

'We Can't Cut and Paste'

"We can't just cut and paste," she said.
As an example she pointed to programs such as the Czech Republic's three-year paid maternity leave, designed to support families in a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union.
That wouldn't be relevant in most Arab nations because under population isn't a problem in the Arab states, she said.
"We don't have an aging population. We have a very young population, so we don't want a population explosion," she told Women's eNews after the panel, which was held at the New York offices of the U.N.
Of greater concern to Arab women, she said in her presentation, are early-retirement incentives that make women obsolete just as they are hitting their prime.
Across the Arab world, women are mostly teachers, she said, starting work immediately after college. They juggle their husband, kids and work for decades.
When they are 45, women all through the Arab Gulf states are offered early retirement and many smart, accomplished women take it. Six to eight months or a year later they want to go back to work and can't and aren't eligible for other jobs.
"Basically, at the age of 45 your life is over," AbuSulayman said, adding that the task is to combat the waste of women's talent that's "just due to medieval views of women's life trajectory."
AbuSulayman also called attention to the disconcerting findings of a study published in the American Economic Journal's Economic Policy section in August 2009 by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in Philadelphia.
In the "Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," authors Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers noted a growing "gender gap in happiness" between men and women in the United States since the 1970s. As women in the United States and elsewhere have gained more rights and social and economic opportunities, their happiness level has dropped while that of men's has risen.

Men's Happiness Surpasses Women's

By surveying the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Data Program for the Social Sciences since 1972, and other major studies around the world, the authors found that universally, men's happiness level has surpassed women's. (The study did not cull overall statistics from the disparate sources of data.)
"Although I'm happy that men are happy, it looks like the women's movement mainly benefited men," said AbuSulayman, drawing chuckles from her audience at the event sponsored by the American Moroccan Institute and the United Nations Correspondents Association.
She said this is not an indictment of the women's movement, but rather a sign that women's happiness levels need to be addressed worldwide--not a Pollyanna-style, blissful ignorance type of happiness, but the contentment born of an ability to move between work and home spheres without being penalized or excluded.
In tandem with this would be initiatives to make work more appealing to Arab women.
She pointed out that women still bear the brunt of housework and child care, even in the relatively advanced Netherlands.
Other speakers at the panel discussion emphasized the major advancements that have been made in women's rights, particularly in Morocco. Fatiha Layadi, a member of the Moroccan Parliament, noted a huge jump in political participation among women. However, she cautioned that social and political obstacles remain, despite one of the most progressive set of family laws in the Arab-speaking world.
Layadi said women's candidacies increased by almost threefold in June 2009, and female candidates won 3,406 seats, 60 more than called for by an Interior Ministry quota. In municipal government, meanwhile, women shot up to 12 percent of the country's 24,600 municipal offices, up from 0.5 percent.
"But to me it's not enough. This makes a very small 12 percent," Layadi said. "I have no choice but to remain vigilant about women's rights in Morocco."
Journalist Theresa Braine covers international and other topics from New York City.

For more information:

American Moroccan Institute
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Health-Care Reform Update: Joining Forces to Stop Stupak

November 2009

   From the desk of
    Kelli Conlin:

Kelli Conlin
I write in hopes that you enjoyed a much-needed Thanksgiving break.
I never would have thought that in 2009 we'd be fighting tooth and nail to hang on to insurance coverage for abortion services. Whereas we entered the health-care reform process hoping to expand women's reproductive-health care, the last few weeks have taught us we need to ensure that we don't lose benefits many women already have.
Despite the setback presented by the House's attachment of the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health-reform bill, I'm heartened by how swiftly and forcefully the entire pro-choice community has swung into action. Our activism ensured that the bill put forth by the Senate did not contain Stupak-like language. Now, we're standing with our partners, heading to Washington, D.C. on December 2, and working around the clock to ensure that further restrictions don't make it through to the final bill.
Have no doubt: we're in the midst of one of the toughest battles for abortion access we've faced in years. In the midst of it, it is important to recognize the accomplishments that have been made recently - such as pro-choice electoral victories and the passage of the Clinic Protection Act in New York State. Such successes show us that despite the threats and setbacks we face, continued support from supporters like you can and will effect change.
For Choice,
Kelli Conlin
Kelli Conlin

 Health-Care Reform Update: Joining Forces to Stop Stupak
NY anti-stupak presserWhen 240 House members voted to attach the Stupak amendment to the health-reform bill, the pro-choice community was determined to not let this setback go unanswered. On November 16, we stood with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gloria Steinem, and pro-choice leaders from across New York to oppose the Stupak amendment.
While, the bill put forth by the Senate doesn't repeal existing restrictions on abortion access, it does avoid Stupak-like measures, and we need to keep it that way. There are several ways you can join forces to stop Stupak. For starters:
  • Join us for a Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. on December 2. Contact Lalena Howard at or 646-520-3506 to find out how.
  • Send us your story. How will a ban on abortion coverage effect your life? Share your story with us. Email Lalena at and we'll carry it with us to Washington D.C.
  • Email Sens. Gillibrand and Schumer to stand firm against a ban on abortion coverage in the Senate bill.
For more ways you can take action, check out our "Action A Day to Keep Stupak Away" campaign on Facebook.
    Legislative Update: New York Passes Clinic Protection Act
NY AlbanyNARAL Pro-Choice New York is proud to thank Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and Senator Kevin Parker for sponsoring the Clinic Protection Act (S6112/A8924), which Governor Paterson signed into law last month. This legislation ensures appropriate punishment for those who commit violent acts against reproductive health-care providers, volunteers at health centers or the women seeking those critical health services. In the wake of the tragic shooting of Dr. George Tiller earlier this year, enactment of this law reinforces the fact that New Yorkers value both a woman's right to access reproductive health care and the workers who provide that care. 
    Electoral Update: Pro-Choice Victories Across the State
NY vote buttonState and local elections are important - and New Yorkers know that. On November 3, we made an important step toward building and sustaining a New York where women's health and rights are priorities. More than 90% of the candidates NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorsed were victorious!
We are particularly excited to celebrate the third term of pro-choice champion Mayor Mike Bloomberg as well as the success of Syracuse's first female Mayor, Stephanie Miner. NARAL Pro-Choice New York - and our wonderful activists - played a critical role in a number of races this year, canvassing, phone banking, and coordinating direct mail campaigns. See the full list of victorious endorsed candidates.
    Event Update: Choices Series
Over the past few months, NARAL Pro-Choice New York hosted our "Choices" speaker series to look beyond the right to abortion and explore other facets of true reproductive freedom. The final installment, "Choices: Adoption," took place on November 18 and highlighted the work being done to ensure that all people have access to and are supported in the process of adoption.
Cosponsored by Spence-Chapin and the LGBT Center's Center Kids program, "Choices: Adoption" featured representatives from Spence-Chapin and an expert on transracial adoption.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the informative and thought-provoking "Choices" series this year!
    NARAL Pro-Choice New York in the News
"Queens Party Is Expected to Dump Monserrate" – The New York Times
"Gillibrand vs. Stupak Amendment" – The New York Daily News (Daily Politics Blog)
"House Health Bill Would Lower Medicare Payments, Report Finds" – FOX News
"(VIDEO) Sen. Gillibrand and NARAL New York Host Anti-Stupak Media Conference" – RH Reality Check
"NARAL Pro-Choice NY Rips Rudy For Gillibrand" – The New York Daily News (Daily Politics Blog)
"Abortion Continues To Plague Obamacare" – The Bulletin
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From Twitter 11-28-2009

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Feminist Cheers & Jeers of the week: 16 Days to End Violence; Afghan Schools Threatened

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

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16 Days to End Violence; Afghan Schools Threatened

By Kimberly St. Louis
WeNews Correspondent
Saturday, November 28, 2009


thumb pointing up
Nov. 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Two international organizations used the occasion to jointly denounce the use of violence to silence outspoken women, according to a Nov. 25 press release. The Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists and 40 members of the Canada-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange are calling on authorities to investigate cases of violence against women.
Also, in commemoration of this day, the United Nations International Research, and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, or UN-INSTRAW, launched a media kit on violence against women and human security in Latin American and the Caribbean. The agency will also do a study on gender and security sector reform in the Dominican Republic. More than 50 percent of women in the region have been victims of some form of violence.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also unveiled a Network of Men Leaders to serve as role models in a campaign opposing violence against women, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Ki-moon said about 70 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence because of men. The 14 men in the network include Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He also announced $10.5 million that was awarded in grants for 13 initiatives to end violence against women and girls in 18 countries and territories.
Nov. 25 kicks off the "The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence," an international campaign to mobilize individuals and groups around the world to call for an end to all forms of violence against women.

More News to Cheer This Week:

Two Zimbabwe women received the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from President Barack Obama Nov. 23, The Associated Press reported. Together, Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu have been arrested over 50 times for leading non-violent protests against their government. Williams and Mahlangu are the co-founders of "Women of Zimbabwe Arise," whose acronym WOZA forms a word that means "come forward."
AIDS Accountability International, an independent rating organization, launched a global scorecard on women that analyzed country responses to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of women in the AIDS epidemic, according to a Nov. 23 press release from UNIFEM. Globally, HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age worldwide. The scorecard found that 75 percent of countries fail to report data on services for women and girls.
Women in southeastern Senegal are taking on the traditionally male task of raising and selling sheep at an annual feast so they can pay for their children's schooling, reported Nov. 23.
Starting in 2011, school children in Britain will be taught that domestic violence against women and girls is unacceptable as part of a new government strategy, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Research by a children's charity has found that 1 in 4 female teens, starting at age 13, had been slapped or hit by their boyfriends. It also found 1 in 9 female teens had been beaten up, hit by objects, or strangled. Next year two help lines will be set up to deal with sexual violence, stalking and harassment. Critics are accusing the government of inferring with how parents rear their children.
More than 30 women's advocacy groups from across the country have formed a coalition and announced Nov. 24 that it will lobby Washington Dec. 2, in an effort to ensure the passage of a health care reform that will not curtail women's reproductive choices, according to a Nov. 24 press release. The "Coalition to Pass Health Care Reform and Stop Stupak," will hold the lobby day as part of its National Week of Action, Nov. 30-Dec. 6. Members of the coalition include Black Women's Health Imperative, Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Latina Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition.


thumb pointing down
Girls' schools in Afghanistan face the highest risk of violence, a report by the Atlanta-based CARE, the Washington-based World Bank and the Afghanistan government found, according to a Nov. 23 press release.
The number of girls' schools is half that of boys', but attacks on them account for 40 percent of all school attacks. Schools with girls and boys represent 32 percent of attacks. Twenty eight percent of attacks are on boys' schools.
"Education-related violence is an alarming trend in Afghanistan, with girls at particular risk of attacks and other scare tactics aimed at keeping them out of school," said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, in a press statement. "In fact, in 2008 alone, 670 education-related attacks including murder and arson occurred, causing hundreds of schools to close and parents to keep their children home."
The study, "Knowledge on Fire: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan" suggests a community-based approach to the education of girls to improve social acceptance of education and lessen the risk of attack.
In southern provinces, between 65 percent and 81 percent of schools are currently closed due to lack of security.

More News to Jeer This Week:

An Ozark, Ark., woman gave a police officer permission Nov. 11 to use his stun gun on her 10-year-old daughter, ABC reported Nov. 24. Kelly King called the police when she was having trouble with her daughter, who has a history of emotional problems. The officer said in his report the girl was "violently kicking" and he delivered "a very brief drive stun" to the girl's skin when she kicked him in the groin.
Thirteen women and eight men were kidnapped and killed in the Philippines Nov. 23, in an effort to prevent a woman from filing her husband's nomination for elections next year, Reuters reported.
Thousands of Indian "holiday brides" are abandoned by their British husbands after marriage, BBC News reported Nov. 23."There are 15,000 to 20,000 abandoned brides in India," said Daljit Kaur, a lawyer and women's rights activist in India. Kaur told BBC News that she believes British grooms account for a third of all such cases.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski will be freed on $4.5 million bail from a Swiss jail, where he is being held for a U.S. rape charge, BBC News reported Nov. 25. Polanski, 76, has been wanted in the United States since he fled the country in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old female teen a year earlier. The court said Polanski could stay at his villa in the Swiss Alps and that he will be subjected to "constant electronic surveillance." An electronic tag would be activated if he tries to leave the premises.
Nearly half the women in Tajikistan are raped, beaten or abused by their families, according to a report by Amnesty International, BBC News reported Nov. 24. According to the group, women are regularly humiliated by their husbands and in-laws, causing many to turn to suicide. The report's authors say the government should introduce laws and support services to address domestic violence.
A Los Angeles man who posed as a Vibe magazine photographer is being investigated in connection with the sexual assaults of four young women, who he told he'd hire as underwear models, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 25.


Ten female U.K. soldiers were sent home from Afghanistan after becoming pregnant, the Daily reported Nov. 23. More than 100 pregnancy tests have been requested since April--double the amount of the previous six months--although the Army has strict rules banning intimacy between personnel.
Twelve years after women won the right to enroll at the Virginia Military Institute, the institution is a year into an investigation--which usually takes about six months--into accusations of sexism, The Associated Press reported Nov. 22. Of the 1,500 cadets on campus, 126 are women.
Seven U.K. women are suing a hospital after being misdiagnosed following breast cancer screening errors, BBC News reported Nov. 24. A total of 18 women were misdiagnosed with not having breast cancer.

In Memoriam:

The "Mother of Judo," Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi, who helped create the first Women's World Judo Championships, died Nov. 22 at a New York City medical center.
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women's eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.

From Twitter 11-27-2009

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Weekly Feminist Jobs Digest: DC, East Coast, Midwest, Southeast

Weekly Feminist Jobs Digest:
11/18/2009 - 11/25/2009

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(DC Metro Region - 11/24/2009)
Title: Senior Policy Representative/Policy Representative
Organization: NARAL Pro-Choice America
(East Coast - 11/19/2009)
Title: West Virginia Field Organizer
Organization: Planned Parenthood Health Systems
(East Coast - 11/19/2009)
Title: Film Distribution Internships
Organization: Women Make Movies
(Midwest - 11/19/2009)
Title: Director, Ann Ida Gannon Center for Women and Leadership
Organization: Loyola University Chicago
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Title: Assistant Director
Organization: Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence (SEMO-NASV)

New Feminist Internships

(DC Metro Region - 11/19/2009)
Title: Spring Internships
Organization: Marijuana Policy Project
(DC Metro Region - 11/24/2009)
Title: Affiliate and National Programs Intern
Organization: NARAL Pro-Choice America
(East Coast - 11/19/2009)
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Organization: Legal Intern - U.S. Legal Program - Spring Semester 2010

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Afghan Women Would Rather Talk About Recovery

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives
Friday, November 27, 2009


After fighting deportation threats, Francis Barrios can relax and spend Thanksgiving with her husband, an Iraq War veteran, Susan Elan reports today. A new federal bill would help many more families of U.S. military members stay together.

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Afghan Women Would Rather Talk About Recovery

By Rita Henley
WeNews Editor in Chief
Friday, November 27, 2009
As Obama mulls a U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan, three Afghan women who run social service efforts in their troubled homeland wanted to shift the topic. They prefer talking about schools, jobs, safety and health care.
Rita Henley Jensen(WOMENSENEWS)--As the world waits for President Barack Obama to announce next week his plan to send up to 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, three female leaders of civil society efforts focused their concerns on nation building.
The trio wanted to talk about something else: the country's recovery.
They also wanted to discuss individuals they came across in their work who showed why the country needs more international help providing education, jobs, health care and safety. Moreover, the fiefdoms of the Taliban, war lords, tribal leaders and drug traffickers leave the nation poorly equipped to reduce the corruption and violence.
The women interviewed were Sakena Yacoobi, founder of girls' schools throughout the country and neighboring Pakistan; Fatima Gailani, head of a major national nongovernmental organization; and Mary Akrami, the founder of shelters for women and survivors of domestic violence.
All three women said the situation in Afghanistan remains precarious, especially for women. U.S. troops weren't an issue they said they felt qualified to assess, but they did understand the country's struggle to provide its people with a functional society.
Press reports indicate President Obama will announce next week that he has determined not to leave Afghanistan, nor to continue the status quo, but to increase troop levels between 25,000 to 30,000 troops. The United States currently has 68,000 troops in Afghanistan--at a cost of $1 million per military member, or $68 billion per year. The additional troops would mean that U.S. spending would approach $100 billion a year.
In contrast, Reuters reported this week, quoting Oxfam International, that since U.S.-backed forces toppled the Taliban in 2001, international donors have poured more than $20 billion in development and humanitarian aid into the war-ravaged nation.
But the Reuters report, which backs up criticism from aid agencies and observers, said Afghans felt the funds were insufficient and wasted, and there needed to be more accountability to ensure aid got to where it was needed.

Yacoobi Runs Schools

Sakena Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning in 1995, after completing her education as an international student in California and relocating her parents and other relatives--a total of 17--from Afghanistan to the United States.
Yacoobi's institute operated 80 underground schools for girls during the Taliban era, when educating girls was banned; it now manages the education of 350,000 women and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition, she has established four medical clinics.
After her family members were settled, she went back to Afghanistan. "My family said, 'No. You will be killed.' But I went back." Yacoobi said.
Now she worries about the millions of refugees also returning from Pakistan and Iran, living in shipping containers without sanitary facilities, water or electricity, in most cases. This compounds the effect of decades of armed conflict, she says, and control by the Soviets and the Taliban, as well as war lords and members of organized crime.
"Billions have been spent. Where did it go?" Yacoobi asked.
"We need infrastructure," she added. "The snow from the mountains melts and runs into other countries. We have no damns, only wells, and the pipes break."
Women also need roads to access health care, electricity for economic development and most of all education that leads to jobs, she said.
When Yacoobi talks about the country's needs she said she thinks about a woman she simply called Malaka. Like the other two Afghan women, she only used a first name in her story.
"She was 24 when I met her, married with three kids. She wanted to go to school, but her mother-in-law said no, she had too much work to do," Yacoobi said.
When Yacoobi met Malaka as a young woman wishing to attend one of her schools, the younger woman lived in a three-room mud hut in Southern Afghanistan, along with her husband, her children and her in-laws.
Married at age 14, she pleaded with her husband for the opportunity to learn, despite her many duties on the small farm. In addition to caring for her children and in-laws, she tended the sheep, chickens and the crops. Eventually, her husband countermanded his mother's objections and made a bargain with Malaka: She could go to the center to learn if she finished all of her chores before she left for the center. Malaka began rising at 4 a.m., completing her work in time to reach school by 8 a.m.
Within a year, she was reading at a third grade level. She began a sewing class and learned she was a good tailor. Soon, she was reading at a sixth grade level and graduated along with 300 other women. Her husband was there, clapping along with everyone else. She became a manager of the center and then another center. She took on the duties of teaching the health class too, educating her village about birth control and reproductive health, Yacoobi says.
With that kind of education and leadership replicated by women around the country, which has produced a dramatic increase in the number of midwives, is how Afghanistan has significantly reduced its infant mortality rate since 2002. But Yacoobi notes that Afghanistan's maternal mortality is still the second highest in the world, after Sierra Leone.
"This is what the United States must do if peace is to come to Afghanistan. The U.S. should stay. We need assistance in skills training and capacity building," Yacoobi said.

Gailani Offers Humanitarian Aid

Afghan WomenFatima Gailani is president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) and considers herself a champion of democracy, for women's rights and all the marginalized.
Afghanistan, strategically positioned as a trade route, is a young nation, Gailani said, because the average life expectancy is 42 years old in a nation that has been at war for 24 years.
Gailani talked about a young man she called Nowroz, who appeared at the Red Crescent headquarters seeking help and insisted on seeing her, as she was the organization's president.
"He was a young man just out of prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had no money to return to his home village . . . He was thin, nervous with dark skin," Gailani said.
He was cold and begged her to help him get some clothing.
"I asked, what were you doing in that place where he was arrested. He said, 'Where am I supposed to be? At my job?' He is Pashtun and most of the schools and health facilities are closed in Pashtun provinces. The unemployment rate in Afghanistan is 40 percent."
The young man went on to tell her that he wants to get married. He said: "I want to live to see my children grow. I want a home. I want all this, but you tell me how? I am prepared to go back to school, but where?"
"How was I to answer him?" asked Gailani.
Young Afghan men are paid $200 to join the fighting, she said, but would gladly avoid it if they could find a factory job for $100 a month.
For her, the wrongly imprisoned Nowroz shows what needs to change in Afghanistan.
"They never experienced ordinary life," she said of the country's young men. "We must give them a taste."

Akrami Runs Shelters

Mary Akrami manages two shelters in Kabul for survivors of domestic violence, including a 6-year-old who ran away to avoid being sold into a marriage. She also manages a network of training centers in four provinces for women that teach literacy, English and computer skills
When she thinks of the women and girls she helps, she recalls Naghida.
Her family had tortured her and cut her hair, she said, and her father killed the young man Naghida wished to marry, in defiance of her father's wishes.
For now, Naghida lives indefinitely in one of the shelters, recovering from torture and grieving the murder of her fiance.
Not only is her life in danger if she leaves, her decision to select her own husband has set off a war between two Afghan tribes. After her father killed her intended husband, the tribe of her fiancé revenged the murder, setting off a series of slayings that has yet to end.
"If the international community goes back, what will happen to the women of Afghanistan?" Akrami asked. "Inside the country, we have powerful war lords, the Taliban. We don't want another civil war."
Rita Henley Jensen is founder and editor in chief of Women's eNews.

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Military Family Gives Thanks Mom Wasn't Deported

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives
Thursday, November 26, 2009


After fighting deportation threats, Francis Barrios can relax and spend Thanksgiving with her husband, an Iraq War veteran, Susan Elan reports today. A new federal bill would help many more families of U.S. military members stay together.

Story follows announcements.
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Military Family Gives Thanks Mom Wasn't Deported

By Susan Elan
WeNews correspondent
Thursday, November 26, 2009
After fighting deportation threats, Francis Barrios can relax and spend Thanksgiving with her husband, an Iraq War veteran. A new federal bill would help many more families of U.S. military members stay together.
VAN NUYS, Calif. (WOMENSENEWS)--This Thanksgiving the Barrios family will gather with relatives in Van Nuys, Calif., freed from the dread that Francis, 23, will be pulled away from her husband and children and deported to a country she barely remembers.
Francis Barrios, wife of Iraq War veteran Army Spc. Jack Barrios and the mother of the couple's two children, both born in the United States, has narrowly averted deportation to Guatemala, the nation she left as a young child.
"This past year has been really hard, but now we are able to relax and think of the future," she told Women's eNews recently.
Countless U.S. Armed Services families face the same struggle as Jack and Francis Barrios due to our broken immigration system, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said during a telephone press conference earlier this month. Jack and Francis Barrios and Ali Noorani, executive director of the Washington-based National Immigration Forum, were also present.
Menendez introduced The Military Families Act (S. 2757) on Veterans Day. The bill would grant lawful permanent residence status to the spouse, child or parent of an active-duty member of the Armed Forces or one who has served honorably.
The Barrios' story was used to illustrate the havoc current immigration laws can unleash on families, even those with members who serve in the military.

Unaware of Undocumented Status

Jack and Francis fell in love in high school. Francis came to the United States with her mother when she was 6 years old, but didn't know of her undocumented status until she was in high school.
"Because of her legal status she was not able to go to college and she had no papers so she couldn't work," said Jack Barrios, who was born in Los Angeles.
Francis was apprehensive when Jack joined the Army in 2004, but he told her that he wanted to give back to his country.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2006 when the couple's first child, Matthew, was just a few months old.
Jack vowed to help Francis clear up her immigration problems upon his return.
Readjusting to civilian life has been difficult for Jack Barrios. He returned from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder. He suffers from nightmares, insomnia and bouts of anger after what he witnessed there.
"I saw a lot of violent stuff in Iraq; kids bleeding and dying," he said. "It hurts me on a daily basis."
Jack receives treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder while working 15-hour days at two jobs--as a UPS driver and at an auto parts firm--to support his wife and two children.
In August 2008 the couple sought help from Studio City, Calif., immigration lawyer Jessica Dominguez. She discovered that paperwork submitted for Francis years earlier had led to deportation proceedings against her. Francis was due in court on Nov. 4, 2008, in Omaha, Neb., a state she had never visited and where she knew no one, Dominguez told Women's eNews.
"It was a shock for us all," Dominguez said. "Jack was holding his wife and crying. She was expecting their second child. It was heartbreaking." Their daughter Allanna is now 15 months old.

Providing the Proof

Dominguez got the case transferred to Los Angeles. To stop Francis Barrios' deportation, they had to prove she had been in the United States for more than 10 years, was a person of good moral character and that her removal would cause her U.S. citizen husband and children "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship," Dominguez said.
The first two were easy but proving the third to an immigration judge and the government is very difficult, Dominguez said.
If deported, Francis faced a 10-year ban from returning to the United States. That would have meant a decade of separation because the couple had decided the children would receive a U.S. education.
"I didn't know how Jack could take care of the kids and work two jobs when he is already so stressed," Francis Barrio said.
Luck was on their side. Attorney Dominguez received a request from a member of Congress (she did not disclose which one) seeking families to illustrate the hardships resulting from the failure to come up with comprehensive immigration reform.
"I have a lot of families in difficult situations, but a young soldier who was willing to sacrifice his life for his country and was now facing a battle to keep his family together was the one I chose," Dominguez said.
On Nov. 5, 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted Francis Barrios "humanitarian parole" that allows her to remain in the United States.
In about three months she is expected to have authorization to work and drive a car. In three years she can apply for citizenship, Dominguez said.
The Barrios family is relieved and grateful but the ordeal has taken its toll.
"It was so stressful and really hurtful to know they were trying to separate our family," Francis Barrios said. "It was hard to live normally with this on our minds all the time. There was so much fear I wasn't able to relax and play with the kids."

Fighting Two Battles

Jack Barrios puts it this way: "I fought two battles--for my country and for my wife. It was so hard. You have no idea what I went through to keep my family together."
Noorani of the National Immigration Forum said the personalized bill that helped Francis and Jack Barrios cannot resolve a problem that confronts hundreds, if not thousands, of military families.
In 2007 the Department of Homeland Security dropped plans to deport the Dominican-born wife of Army Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez, who served two tours in Iraq and was captured and killed near Baghdad.
Margaret D. Stock, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and an immigration attorney specializing in military cases, said hundreds of U.S. soldiers face a fight to legalize their spouses' status.
"These families are key to our military members' morale and effectiveness on the battlefield and military members' recovery when they return home from the battlefield," said Stock in a press statement issued by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Stock is the author of a new Immigration Policy Center report about immigrants serving in the military since 9/11.
Menendez said no accurate count of military family members facing deportation would be known until there is legislation to protect those who come forward.
The Menendez bill has the backing of several Senate Democrats: Mary Landrieu, D-La., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Kristin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
Menendez said he expects support from Republicans for what he considers an interim step towards the overhaul of the nation's immigration system.
President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to take up immigration reform next year.
Susan Elan covered politics at daily newspapers in the New York metropolitan area for more than a decade. She has also worked as a reporter for an English-language radio station in Paris, France.

For more information:

The Barrios family Web site
The National Immigration Forum
Immigration Policy Center Report, "Essential to the Fight: Immigrants in the Military Eight Years After 9/11"