February 4, 2011

Egyptian Women in Protests; Shourd Summoned to Iran

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Egyptian Asmaa Mahfouz posted two weeks ago a video of herself holding a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down President Hosni Mubarak; now she is one of tens of thousands of protestors who were out on the streets this week, reported the New York Times Feb. 1. When Mahfouz posted the video, she said she was worried about the reaction it might generate in a society that expected women to behave in a more subdued and reserved manner. In the video Mahfouz says "do not be afraid." Many other people followed suit and started to post their own pictures, holding similar signs to their chests that declared their intent to take to the streets on Jan. 25 in what turned out to be a momentous national day of rage.

Hundreds of images of women actively involved in the political strife throughout the Arab region became available on the Facebook page Women of Egypt, created by Leil-Zahra Mortada. Meanwhile, Global Voices Online, an Internet-based community of bloggers and media from around the world, did a round up Feb. 1 of bloggers discussing women's roles in the Egyptian uprising.

More News to Cheer This Week:


  • Republican lawmakers have removed the term "forcible rape" from the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act after women's groups accused them of trying to change the widely-held definition of rape, reported the Washington Post Feb. 3. The bill, as now drafted, would permit abortion coverage in all cases of rape.

  • The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge, The New York Times reported Feb. 2.

  • Hollaback, an organization aimed at fighting street harassment through mobile technology, announced in a press statement Jan. 31 that local activists are launching 10 sites around the world.

  • Supporters of a Baltimore ordinance that requires pregnancy counseling centers to post a disclaimer if they don't provide abortions or birth control say they will appeal a court ruling that the law is unconstitutional, reported AP Jan. 30.




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Iran has summoned Sarah Shourd, an American woman who was held in custody and accused of spying when she was seized along the Iraq-Iran border, to return to the country and stand trial on Feb. 6, the Associated Press reported Feb. 1. Shourd was released on bail in September and returned to the U.S., but her two fellow hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, remained in custody in Tehran. Their families say the Americans were just intrepid travelers out on a hike in northern Iraq's Kurdish region when they were arrested on July 31, 2009. Shourd, contacted Feb. 1, has declined to comment on the summons. Shourd wrote a news story for Women's eNews days before she was seized.

The U.S. government has denied the charges against the hikers and demanded their release. Their lengthy detention has added to tensions between the two nations over Iran's disputed nuclear program, the article reported. President Barak Obama, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Noam Chomsky have all petitioned the Iranian government for their release, according to Freethehikers.org .

More News to Jeer This Week:


  • An anti-abortion group, Live Action, released an undercover video Feb. 1 that appears to show a Planned Parenthood clinic manager advising a sex trafficker on how to get medical care for prostitutes as young as 14, reported the New York Times .

  • Georgia Republican State Rep. Bobby Franklin introduced a bill to change the state's criminal codes so that in criminal law and criminal procedure victims of rape, stalking and family violence could only be referred to as "accusers" instead of "victims" until the defendant has been convicted, reported the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Feb. 3.

  • MPs from Canada's Liberal party held a press conference pointing to five specific actions undertaken by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that have weakened women's rights and widened the gender equality gap in Canada, The Northumberland View reported Feb. 3.

  • Minnesota Republicans introduced legislation that would repeal the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act, which directs local governments to ensure that women are paid the same as men, the Minnesota Independent reported Feb. 1.

  • Newly-trained female doctors in the U.S. are being paid significantly lower salaries-–about $17,000 less--than their male counterparts, found a new study published in the February issue of Health Affairs, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 3.

  • Sexual assault cases continue to be frequently on the dockets of military court rooms, with 8 out of the 19 pending courts martial at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri involving sexual assault by soldiers, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jan. 30.

  • Despite an official ban on mineral mining, the trading of conflict minerals from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo continues, according to a report released Feb. 1 by the Enough Project. It indicates that armed groups in the area, especially around the region of Walikale, where some of the worst incidents of mass rape have occurred, are profiting from the extraction and taxation of conflict minerals such as cobalt, gold, copper and tantalum.

  • The risk of breast cancer in the U.K. rose from 1-in-9 to 1-in-8 adult women, according to Cancer Research U.K., reported the Guardian Feb. 4.

  • Irish women's annual income is 70 percent of men's earnings, according to the Central Statistics Office's "Women and Men in Ireland" report for 2010, reported the Irish Examiner Feb. 2.

  • Hispanic women had the highest rate of cervical cancer in the United States in 2007, reported the Hispanically Speaking News Feb. 2.

  • Surveys suggest that less than 15 percent of Wikipedia's hundreds of thousands of contributors are women, reported the New York Times Jan. 31.

  • A year after Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Oscar for best director for "The Hurt Locker," the share of top behind-the-scenes positions held by women in Hollywood remains stagnant at low levels, The Los Angeles Times reported Feb. 1.
  • Electronics maker Toshiba Corp.'s U.S. business is facing a $100 million lawsuit for alleged "systemic" discrimination against its female employees over pay and promotions, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 1.


  • For insight into the psychology and managerial style of Egypt's embattled strongman President Hosni Mubarak, comments sent by Margaret Scobey, the Arabic-speaking U.S. ambassador to Egypt, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in May 2009, are worth reading. The cable comes from the trove of WikiLeaks documents on the Web site of the U.K.'s Guardian .

  • Two out of five pregnancies in New York City result in abortion, twice the national rate, shows the city's "Vital Statistics" report of 2009, reported the New York Times Feb. 3.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is launching a campaign Feb. 2 to educate women on the signs and risks of heart disease as part of American Heart Month in February, reported King5 News from Seattle.

  • ColorsofChange members called on Ohio Gov. John Kasich Feb. 2 to publicly denounce the conviction of Kelley Williams-Bolar, who sent her daughters to a better school that was not part of their district. She was convicted of lying about her residency and sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years probation, reported ABC News .

  • The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, based in New York City, announced Feb. 1 that it has named J. Bob Alotta as its new executive director.

  • The number of home births in the U.K. rose by 54 percent between 2000 and 2008, according to the National Health Service maternity statistics, but has since plateaued, reported the Guardian Jan. 30.

  • Affluent women expect to be more active than their male counterparts in retirement, but they are also more worried about outliving their money, according to a Bank of America and Merrill Lynch report highlighted by Reuters Jan. 31.

In Memoriam:


  • The world's oldest person, Eunice Sanborn, according to the Gerontology Research Group, died at the age of 114, reported CNN Feb. 1.

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2 thoughts on “Egyptian Women in Protests; Shourd Summoned to Iran

  1. What about the women with small children, are mothers able to get food for their children, are the men returning home at night in fighting humour and carrying that to how they speak and act at home? Are the children able to get to school? We are hearing nothing about how these women and children are coping.

  2. My question was in small part answered, the grocery prices are higher, with bread and other main foodstuffs at double the price of 2 weeks ago, and with more people out of work.