1. Egyptian Activist Fights Women’s Exclusion
Prominent Egyptian writer, feminist, and activist Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, who was honored yesterday with the Women of the Year Outstanding Achievement award in London, spoke to The Huffington Post's Julie Tomlin about fighting against the exclusion of women from Egypt's ongoing revolution. "Tahrir Square was marvelous, we were like a family," she said, recalling the earlier days of the revolution with nostalgia. Now, she says, women are suffering in a post-revolution backlash and are being excluded from the new political committee to change Egypt's constitution. But she's determined to reform the Egyptian Women's Union, originally established in 1923 until it was banned by Suzanne Mubarak in the '70s, which she hopes will unite women and men and implement more female representation in the temporary government. "History has shown us that women can lose their rights after a revolution," she said. "We have to unite across the country and across the Arab world and internationally," she says.
October 21, 2011 12:16 PM
2. Cancer Groups: Annual Paps Unnecessary
A U.S. government–backed expert panel and major cancer groups including the American Cancer Society said Wednesday that annual Pap-smear tests for cervical cancer were unnecessary. The same cancer group that recently discouraged routine prostate-cancer tests for healthy men said one Pap test every three years was sufficient. The organizations considered specific screenings for HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer, in their decision, saying in "overtesting" they often found many benign infections and false cancer positives. All groups also agreed with the U.S. panel that women under 21 should not have required HPV screenings.
October 21, 2011 12:13 PM
3. Topeka Decriminalizes Domestic Violence
In the battle over who will prosecute domestic-violence cases in Topeka, Kansas, victims fear they will be the ones who lose. The city council voted Tuesday night to decriminalize domestic violence, shifting the responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanors to the state, where it’s still considered a crime. The move, which has received significant backlash from victims of domestic violence and their advocates, was spurred by forced budget cuts in the district attorney’s office. The D.A. even wrote that Topeka “does not have the staff or infrastructure to provide victims of domestic violence with the level of service they have come to expect.”
October 21, 2011 12:10 PM
4. Many Still Support Female Beating
A new study shows that a majority of people in Rwanda and India believe that a woman should endure domestic violence to keep her family together. This year’s Because I Am a Girl report revealed that more than 65 percent of respondents in the two countries did not express strong opposition to women being beaten. The report blamed pressure on boys to be “real men,” or aggressive, protective providers, while women are socialized to be submissive. The findings also showed that because of ways boys are socialized to be men in certain African and South American countries, they have the highest death rates.
Read it at The Citizen (Tanzania)
October 21, 2011 12:07 PM
5. Leymah Gbowee Wins Nobel Peace Prize
This year's Nobel Peace Prize goes to three women—Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. The three were awarded the prize for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Sirleaf is Africa's first female elected head of state, Gbowee is a peace activist, and Karman is a leading figure in Yemen's pro-democracy movement. Gbowee headlined the launch of the Women in the World foundation and published her first book, Mighty Be Our Powers, with The Daily Beast's book imprint, Beast Books. "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women achieve the same opportunities as men to influence developements at all levels of society,” said Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland.
October 21, 2011 12:04 PM
6. Film About Sex Crimes Enrages South Korea
A new film based on a real-life rape story has caused an uproar in South Korea. Based on a novel that tells the true story of a 13-year-old deaf girl who was raped by a school official in the southwestern city of Gwangju, The Crucible has inspired lawmakers to push for greater penalties for sexual crimes, which have been widely overlooked in the country. Since it was released on Sept. 22, 4.4 million people—including President Lee Myung-bak—have seen the film. Lee's cabinet has since vowed to check schools for teachers with records of sexual abuse, and the Education Ministry said it will shut down the school where the infamous rape occurred.
October 21, 2011 11:51 AM
7. Ousted Afghan M.P. In Critical Condition
Thirty-year old mother of three Semin Barakzai has been on a hunger strike outside Afghan’s Parliament ever since being expelled, along with 8 other MPs, on charges of vote rigging, and her health is now in serious risk. The former MP is insisting on the legitimacy of her election, and she’s garnered support from a number of MPs, officials, and activists. Hunger strikes, particularly for women, are uncommon in Afghanistan, where complaints and frustrations are more commonly voiced through violence. “We ask the president to solve this problem in a way that her protest should bring a result,” said the Free and Fair Election Foundation’s Jandad Spinghar. “We want the culture of peaceful protests to expand, especially for women, instead of self-immolation and violence.”
October 14, 2011 12:32 PM
8. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?
Prime time television has caught onto the fact that women have experienced a societal surge in recent years and is capitalizing on the fact that the majority of television viewers are female by portraying this surge in its nightly shows. While shows like “The New Girl,” “Two Broke Girls” and “Whitney” are almost entirely lady-centric, others like “Man Up,” “Last Man Standing” and “How to Be a Gentleman” focus on the modern man’s shortcomings. Once mocked for being too macho and out of the loop, “nowadays men get on their wives’ and girlfriends’ nerves by not being manly enough,” The New York Times observes.
October 14, 2011 12:21 PM
9. Abused Iraqi Women Fear Stigma
Domestic violence impacts at least one in five Iraqi women and the chances that this trend will change any time soon are slim. Current efforts to reverse abusive laws that permit men to “discipline” their wives have gained little traction with Iraqi politicians. Experts believe the domestic abuse of women has surged since the U.S. and allies first invaded Iraq in 2003. Iraq was recently given a $17.1 million grant by the United Nations to share with 33 other countries to put toward programs that aim to end the abuse of women. But despite the funding for shelters and counseling, very few Iraqi women report their abuse to the police, for fear of retaliation from their families. As one abused Iraqi woman described to the Associated Press, “the threat she faces from her own family, who feel shame because of her divorce, is just as bad as the abuse.”
Read it at Associated Press
October 14, 2011 12:16 PM
10. “Women, War and Peace” Debuts on PBS
On the heels of winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee is among a slew of remarkable women featured in a new documentary series on PBS. She and her fellow Nobel winner, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, will appear in the second episode of Women, War and Peace, a five-part series exploring how women around the world—from Bosnia to Liberia—experience war much differently than men, particularly in less developed countries, where battles are fought in homes and on the streets. Just as the female experience is different, so is the response—in Gbowee's case, bringing peace meant threatening to strip naked in the city streets. The series premiered October 11 and runs through November; and while the stories are devastating, its heroines prove equally inspiring.
October 14, 2011 12:14 PM
11. Do Men Dislike Elizabeth Warren?
Sometimes women get a bad rap in Washington (Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, to name a few). Elizabeth Warren has joined the ranks of rising women who have been snubbed by powerful men in politics, including President Obama. Though the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was her idea, she wasn’t picked to run it. Republicans called her a liar at congressional hearings last spring. Shunned in Washington, she’s now in Massachusetts battling Republican Scott Brown for his Senate seat—and she’s determined not to let bullying get her down. After a verbal spat over Brown’s nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan, the contenders are going head to head, with Brown leading by only three percentage points in one poll.
Read it at San Francisco Chronicle
October 14, 2011 12:11 PM
12. Iranian Actress Sentenced to 90 Lashes
Iranian Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in jail for her role in a controversial film, My Tehran for Sale. Vafamehr was arrested in July after the film was strongly condemned by conservatives in the Islamic republic of Iran and subsequently freed on bail. The movie tells the story of an actress in Tehran who is forbidden by authorities to perform in the theater and is thus forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically. Vafamehr’s lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was announced on Saturday.
October 14, 2011 12:08 PM
13. Manly Drinks Exclude Women
Men are apparently so opposed to drinking “girlie” diet sodas that the industry has been forced to come up with a macho alternative. Dr Pepper has unleashed the latest: Dr Pepper Ten. It has 10 calories, and an over-the-top ad campaign that practically screams “no girls allowed.” There’s even a Facebook page with an app called “Dr Pepper Ten Man’ments,” an aggressively macho spin on the Ten Commandments whose teachings include such pearls of wisdom as “Thou shall not post pics of your outfit.” It’s not clear whether Dr Pepper’s efforts are actually attracting its target audience, but it seems to have successfully ticked off at least a few female consumers.
October 14, 2011 11:58 AM
14. Woman Claims She Ran Away
A Syrian woman who was reportedly killed and mutilated while in the custody of security officials is alive and appeared on Syrian TV on Wednesday. Eighteen-year-old Zainab Alhusni was reportedly kidnapped by Syrian security officials in order to force her activist brother Mohammed to surrender. She was then reportedly killed and her body mutilated beyond recognition; her family even held a funeral for her. But Alhusni now says she ran away from home in late July. “I ran away because my brothers used to torture me and beat me,” she said. Her family confirmed that the woman on television is their daughter. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said, “It now appears that Zainab’s family misidentified the body that was presented to them due to the extensive damage to the body.” The groups also called for an independent investigation to determine the actual identity of the remains.
October 14, 2011 11:56 AM
15. Saudi Women Scoff at Voting Rights
Many Saudi women do not seem too excited about their new voting rights. One said, “I don’t think that voting in a process where we can’t effect change is a big deal at all. It sounds a lot more glamorous than it is, because at the end of the day even our men aren’t bothered with these councils or their elections. I read somewhere that only a fifth of registered voters bothered showing up, so this is all a bit of a show with no real substance at all.” Many women feel the ban on women driving is a more important issue, and they believe that the king should work harder to help them achieve this right. One woman commented, “What I feel is that like with King Faisal, who had the guts to introduce girls’ education in spite of the objections and disapproval of the same people who now object to women driving, our king must do the same.”
October 14, 2011 11:54 AM
16. Contraceptive May Double HIV Risk
This could be devastating news in the fight against HIV. A new study by scientists at the University of Washington shows that a popular contraceptive for women may double the risk of HIV infection in women and double the risk of infection in men who have an HIV-positive partner. The contraceptive is a hormone shot administered every three months, and it’s the most prevalent method used in eastern and southern Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, 6 percent of all women between 15 and 49, or 12 million women, use the contraceptive. Three percent of women in the U.S. use it as well. The World Health Organization will convene in January before issuing warnings. The study does have one minor pitfall: it uses some data that isn’t traditionally used to connect HIV.
October 14, 2011 11:52 AM
17. Was Marathon Mom Irresponsible?
Amber Miller had already run one marathon during her pregnancy and wasn’t about to let contractions stop her from finishing her second. Shortly after completing the 26 miles of Chicago’s Marathon (in six and a half hours), Miller gave birth to her second child. Amazing, yes, but was it dangerous? The web is buzzing with speculation over whether her physical feat might have been dangerous—not just for her, but also her baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, athletes can continue under their typical routines under doctor supervision, leaving commentators to admit that Miller might just be a supermom
Read it at The Chicago Tribune
October 14, 2011 10:40 AM
Unlikely Role Model
18. What Women Owe Palin (Really)
Whatever you think about Sarah Palin’s politics, in the three years since the Mama Grizzly stepped onto the national stage, she’s unquestionably helped women in one arena: self-promotion. As Slate's Libby Copeland points out, women have historically been bad at singing their own praises—and they've paid for it in their professional lives. Despite numerous gaffes that have made her fodder for media mockery, Palin has never been hesitant to tout her own greatness. Just last month, the former governor schooled Sean Hannity that she was missing from the list of most viable GOP candidates, saying some polls named her one of the top three candidates. Palin announced Wednesday night that she won’t be joining the 2012 presidential race, but she never once said she isn’t capable of running the country. “Even when her logic is frustrating, even when she contradicts herself, Palin’s unselfconscious brashness is a good thing for women because it is so needed and so exceptional,” says Copeland.
October 7, 2011 12:59 PM
19. Afghan Women Have Come a Long Way
Although Afghanistan is still one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, Fawzia Koofi, a female member of the Afghan Parliament, argues in The Guardian that Afghan women have come a long way in the decade since the U.S. and Britain first intervened in her country. Koofi, one of 69 female members of Parliament, notes that Afghanistan has more female M.P.s than the U.K. does, and that today 40 percent of Afghan schoolchildren are girls. Koofi, who plans to run for president, fears that by negotiating with the Taliban her country might “trade away” the progress that has been made for women, and appeals to Britain and the West to prevent this from happening.
October 7, 2011 11:53 AM
20. Surrogacy Could Be a Dangerous Business
India’s commercial surrogacy market has soared in recent years, contributing about $450 million a year to the country’s economy. It’s also provided a new avenue of opportunity to poor Indian women now able to make a decent living—not to mention the middle-class people from the West who otherwise couldn’t afford a surrogate. But the industry also poses dangerous threats to women’s rights, and India’s laws are ill equipped to protect them. A welcome new bill aims to regulate surrogacy, but some fear that it leaves too many questions unanswered: it does not give any rights over a child to its surrogate mother, nor does it clarify how much a surrogate would be paid in the event of health complications like miscarriages.
October 7, 2011 11:38 AM
Let's Be Honest
21. Ailes Hired Palin ‘Because She Was Hot’
Roger Ailes may not be a nice guy, but at least he’s honest. Reflecting on his 15-year career at the helm of the Fox News Channel, Ailes revealed that he hired Sarah Palin “because she was hot and got ratings.” But as he recently told Newsweek, she eventually became a “branding issue.” He also thinks Fox’s success is owed more to its television talent—hiring people because they’re hot and get ratings—than their political agendas. “I think we do better television than the other guys, and no matter how we do it, they don't seem to catch up,” he said. “We seem to out-invent them and think ahead of them, and have better story ideas, better graphics, better on-air talent. We just are better television producers.”
Read it at Associated Press
October 7, 2011 11:03 AM
22. 300 Women Saved from Sex Slavery
A Peruvian police raid resulted in the rescue of about 300 female human trafficking victims. The Amazonian city of Puerto Maldonado is the site of heavy illegal gold mining and, as over 400 police officers discovered today, about 50 brothels. At least 10 of those rescued in the raid were minors, the youngest 13 years old. According to the Save the Children charity, traffickers peddle sex slaves to those working in the community’s illegal mining camps.
October 7, 2011 10:47 AM
23. Homecoming Queen Kicks Winning Field Goal
Who says the homecoming queen has to wear a gown? Brianna Amat, a senior at Pinckney Community High School in Michigan, was crowned while wearing her football uniform and pads Friday night as her high school’s team played their powerful rivals, Grand Blanc. Shortly after winning the title, she returned to the field with five minutes to play and kicked a 31-yard field goal to give Pinckney the win, 9-7. Amat, a longtime soccer player, is the first girl to play on her school’s football team. She said her teammates have been extremely supportive: “They’ve been so accepting of me, it’s as if I’ve always been their teammate.”
October 7, 2011 10:20 AM
24. Queens Lawyer Defends Battered Female Killers
New York lawyer Michael G. Dowd has defended so many murderers who were battered by their husbands that he’s been nicknamed the “black-widow lawyer.” His clients have killed their husbands with carving knives, machetes, and semiautomatic handguns. Dowd first became famous for a sensational 1978 case in which he defended a woman who had stabbed her husband after he raped her at knifepoint in front of their children—a case that drew national attention to the moral dilemma of women who kill their attackers. Only one of Dowd’s clients has served prison time; the others have been exonerated or seen their sentences reduced. “It is very emotionally difficult to take such cases; they really get to me,” he said.
October 7, 2011 10:04 AM
25. Woman Sues Over Headscarf Removal
A Muslim woman is suing prison officials from Orange County, California, for forcing her to take off her headscarf in a holding cell. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Souhair Khatib to proceed with her lawsuit that she filed in 2007. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier rejected arguments that holding cells are not covered by a federal law protecting the religious practices of prisoners, and ruled Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless officials could show it was a security risk. Orange County officials tried to throw out the litigation, but the Supreme Court refused and the case will now go back to district court. "I think it's a pretty blatant example of discrimination against Muslims,” said Khatib's attorney, Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union.
October 5, 2011 6:55 PM