Kuwaitis Gain Vote; Shooting Blamed on Turkish TV

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Cheers

The Kuwait parliament on Monday approved voting rights for women as well as giving them the right to run for elective office, reports The New York Times.

“It has been 20 years of work, but at last we got our rights,” said Lulua al-Mulla, general secretary of Kuwait’s Social Cultural Women’s Society, a women’s advocacy group. “It’s about time.”

Two weeks ago the parliament voted against the measure, leaving women’s rights advocates and their supporters disheartened and unsure when they might have a second chance at voting on women’s suffrage.

But on Monday members of parliament reintroduced the legislation and the government invoked a rarely used “order for urgency” to pressure legislators to vote on the matter in one session, thus curtailing heated debate with Islamist members.

The members voted 35 to 23 in favor to remove the word “men” from Article 1 of the election law, but added a clause with the phrase “females abide by Islamic law” to appease religious conservatives.

Analysts are unsure what the clause means for future elections, but it might simply translate to having separate voting booths for men and women.

Other Things to Cheer this Week:

— State Rep. LeAnna Washington, a pro-choice Democratic woman, was elected on Tuesday to a state Senate seat in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Washington won the seat in a special election held to replace Allyson Schwartz, another pro-choice Democratic woman who was elected to Congress last year.

— One in four wives in the U.S. are paid more money than their husband, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday. While a wage gender gap persists–full-time working women’s wages are 80 percent of men’s according to this report–women now contribute 35 percent of family income, the highest percentage ever. For the 8.3 million wives who make more than their husbands, the household contribution can be much more than half.

— Harvard University President Lawrence Summers–who came under fire earlier this year for his remarks about women in the fields of engineering and science–pledged $50 million over the next decade for programs to recruit more female and minority faculty, reports the London-based Independent.

For more information:

World Economic Forum–
Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap
:
http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Global_Competitiveness_Reports/Reports/gender_gap.pdf


Jeers:

A popular daytime television talk show in Istanbul, Turkey, which frequently hosted women facing violence at home, has been abruptly cancelled following the second violent incident blamed on the program.

The show, “Kadinin Sesi” (Women’s Voice), was Turkey’s most popular daytime show and one of a number of similar shows that covered women’s issues. The shows have created a stir in Turkey, where family life and domestic issues have traditionally been an intensely private matter, one rarely spoken about outside of the home.

For many of the women appearing on the programs, the shows had become one of the few places they can turn to for help. But critics have accused the shows, especially “Kadinin Sesi,” of exploiting the women for higher ratings and for failing to support and protect them after appeared on the show.

This criticism gained strength after Tuesday’s show that featured Birgul Isik, a woman who had run away from an abusive husband in her conservative eastern city of Elazig. Isik had come by bus to Istanbul, where she went to a police station near the city’s central bus station seeking help. The police told Isik they could not help her but offered to call up Yasemin Bozkurt, the host of “Kadinin Sesi,” according to the reports in the Turkish press.

Bozkurt featured Isik on her show and while on air called up the governor of Elazig to demand that he protect Isik. The governor promised his help and said Isik should return to Elazig. Upon her return, her 14-year-son met her at the bus and shot her several times, apparently under orders from his father. Isik, who survived, is currently in a coma.

A murder between two feuding families in the city of Izmir a month earlier has also been blamed on the show, which had previously hosted members of the warring families. Kanal D, the network which ran “Kadinin Sesi,” said it was canceling the show because it was becoming a “social problem.” ATV, another network with a popular women’s issues show, also cancelled its similar program.

Other Things to Jeer this Week

— The U.S. ranked 17th in a first of its kind report on global gender equality published by the Geneva-based think tank the World Economic Forum, reports the Financial Times on Wednesday. The report measures and ranks economic participation, political empowerment, educational attainment and access to health for women. Sweden, Norway and Iceland ranked highest while Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt scored lowest. The U.S. ranked below Canada, France and the United Kingdom. The report did not rank access to abortion.

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