Court Hears Bias Case; Cairo Protesters Assaulted

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Cheers

A sex discrimination case against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department went to trial in federal court on Wednesday, reports The Sacramento Bee. The plaintiff, Elaine Stevenson, claims she was discriminated against and transferred out of the homicide bureau on Feb. 2, 2002, after working 25 years for the department.

“Things changed in 2000 when Craig Hill came to the bureau as the supervising sergeant,” said Stevenson’s attorney, Pamela Price, to the jury. Sgt. Hill is a defendant in the case. “He knew nothing about how the bureau operated and he made some mistakes, including contaminating a number of crime scenes.”

Under-sheriff John McGinness and the country government are also defendants

“When Elaine and her partner, David Wright, tried to educate him, he bristled against her,” Price said. “He sometimes complimented David, but never Elaine.”

Price said that Hill has called Elaine “darling” on occasion.

“Elaine went from being one of the most valued detectives in the department to being deemed out-of-control, unstable and insubordinate,” said Price.

Defense attorney Nancy Sheehan said Stevenson’s dismissal had nothing to do with gender, but rather with Stevenson’s behavior.

Other Things to Cheer about This Week:

— Michelob, the beer company, removed on Wednesday a controversial floor advertisement placed in the middle of a crowded PATH commuter train station in Hoboken, N.J., that featured a headless woman wearing a red bikini and standing next to a Michelob beer bottle her size, according to PATH police. Pedestrians had no choice but to walk all over the woman’s body. Advocacy groups, including New York-based Equality Now, joined forces with local police to pressure Michelob, an Anheuser-Busch company, to remove the “demeaning” ad. At first, Anheuser-Busch dug in its heels, saying the ad would stay there for the duration of the “media run.” The ad, however. was removed after the group’s letter was posted on the local police department Web site. An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Women’s eNews that the ad, which will continue to run nationally, was “switched” with a Bud Lite ad as part of a scheduled rotation. She added that the company contributes to women’s organizations.

“As a woman and a member of the professional panel for Legal Advocates for Abused Women, a St. Louis-based domestic violence organization, I am offended by Equality Now’s charges,” said Francine I. Katz, company vice president of communications and consumer affairs.

“Blaming advertising for domestic violence gives abusers an excuse they simply do not deserve,” she said.

— The Canadian government announced on Monday it will endow with $5 million the “Sisters in Spirit” initiative, which is part of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, according to a government press release. Aboriginal women in Canada are five times more likely to die violently as other Canadian women and are particularly prone to imprisonment, prostitution and suicide, according to reports. In recent years, Amnesty International and U.N. organizations have accused Canada of neglecting the concerns of Aboriginal women.

— The Irish Minister of Health, Mary Harney, ordered an urgent review of funds for services to victims of sexual violence, reports the Irish Times on Wednesday. Harney’s announcement comes on the heels of the publication of the first national statistics from the Rape Crisis Centers, which states that demands on services are increasing but funding remains limited.


Jeers

A pro-democracy demonstration in Cairo, Egypt, turned violent on Wednesday, particularly against the women in the crowd, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Egyptians went to the polls Wednesday to vote on constitutional changes that would codify the multi-candidate elections. Opponents criticized the new rules as setting standards near impossible for most contenders to meet. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak scheduled the first multi-candidate presidential election in September, after 24 years of renewing his dictatorship with referendums in which the choices are “yes” or “no.”

Pro-democracy demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Cairo for months, but Wednesday was the first time violence broke out. Uniformed and plain-clothed police looked on while pro-government individuals began to beat and harass the demonstrators.

Journalists and eyewitness accounts say the harassers surrounded, groped, beat, kicked and tore clothes off of female demonstrators. An unnamed Los Angeles Times Cairo correspondent, a British citizen, was pushed to the ground and kicked in the stomach and back before she escaped with bruises.

Rabaa Fahmi, a 38-year-old lawyer, also endured attacks while she was demonstrating.

“This is a message for us,” said Fahmi, as she struggled to close her torn blouse with safety pins while taking refuge in a nearby law firm. “They know we’re Eastern women and any kind of abuse makes us ashamed and embarrassed. It’s a clear message that if you take to the streets, you’ll be attacked.”

Other Things to Jeer this Week:

— Jobs in call-centers have grown five fold since 1987, and women hold most of them according to a study by Statistics Canada released on Wednesday, reports The Toronto Star. But the average pay in call-centers, $12.45 Canadian dollars per hour, is well below the average for the service sector, which is $18.10.

— Golf clubs in Scotland raised membership fees for women to equal those of men, prompting a sharp decline in women’s membership, reports Glasgow’s The Herald on Wednesday. Until two years ago, most clubs charged lower fees to women in return for restricted access and no voting rights. Women’s membership fell from 36,366 in 2002 to 34,876 in 2004, according to the Ladies’ Golf Union. “The decline in women’s golf is a major concern,” said Andy Salmon, chief executive of the union.

Rasha Elass, an intern at Women’s eNews and a freelance writer based in New York City, attends Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Women’s eNews’ Washington bureau chief.

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