Guest Workers Win Case; Reporter Assaults in Cairo

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

A North Carolina federal court has approved an agreement with a seafood company that will institute a gender non-discrimination policy and give back pay to three Mexican guest workers who claimed the company unlawfully restricted them to certain work solely because they are women, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a Nov. 21 press statement. The company will also reimburse the women and other guest workers for visa and travel costs and for wages the women, on behalf of a class of guest workers, claimed the company failed to pay them. Under a consent decree, the court will monitor the company for three years to ensure the terms of the settlement are enforced. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the North Carolina Justice Center filed the original lawsuit and charges of discrimination on behalf of the women.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Domestic violence awareness advocates are showing their support for the Domestic Violence Reform Act proposed in New York, The Brighton Pittsford Post reported Nov. 20. The act would give victims more time to report the crime–from one year to two years–and make judges review bail for alleged offenders.
  • Michelle Bachelet, UN Women’s executive director, outlined a policy agenda to end violence against women globally, according to a Nov. 22 press release. She listed 16 concrete policy actions, including ratifying treaties and revising laws, providing universal access to emergency services for survivors of violence and engaging men, boys and youth.
  • Occupy Denver voted on a statement that officially recognizes the roles of the female and LGBTQ members inside the movement, WestWord Denver reported Nov. 22.

Jeers

The French branch of Reporters Sans Frontieres was forced to withdraw a statement saying that the international news media should not send female reporters to Cairo, Egypt, following two cases of sexual assault in the past few days, the Guardian reported Nov. 25. The advice triggered a wave of objections from journalists and within hours the organization amended its website to urge media organizations “to make the security of their reporters and local correspondents their priority.” It added: “It is more dangerous for a woman than a man to cover the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. That is the reality and the media must face it.”

The move came the day after French television journalist Caroline Sinz was brutally assaulted by a mob close to Tahrir Square, the center of the protests. She was molested in a way that “would be considered rape,” she said.

The U.S.-based Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, a former Women’s eNews editor, said she was also repeatedly sexually assaulted while detained for 12 hours by Egyptian security forces this week. Both her wrists were broken.

Bothaina Kamel, Egypt’s only female presidential candidate, said that sexual harassment and extreme violence are being used against female protesters in Tahrir Square, reported Canada’s Globe and Mail Nov. 21. Kamel was attacked and arrested by soldiers on Nov. 20 before being released. Protesters in Tahrir Square continue to demand an end to military rule.

More News to Jeer This Week:

A Nov. 22 hearing on New York City’s decision in October to lay off 642 public school workers — predominantly women of color — gave unions and several New York politicians a chance to criticize the Bloomberg administration’s decision to outsource city jobs to private contractors, many of them based in foreign countries. Shortly after the layoffs — mostly of school aides, lunch workers and parent coordinators who earned between $14,000 and $18,000 annually –advertisements for their same positions were posted publicly, said Zita Allen, director of communications of District Council 37, which represents the workers.

Since 2005, New York City’s contract budget has more than doubled to $10.5 billion from $5 billion. At least 40 percent of the contracts in New York employ people out of state. Health statistics are kept in India and printed tags on library books come from Turkey, according to DC 37 Associate Director Henry Garrido.

Politicians discussed ways to keep more city jobs within the city. One idea: voting to override Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s early November veto of the Outsourcing Accountability Act. That measure would require city agencies to disclose their contracting plans for the next year and would also subject city contracts to a cost-benefit analysis.

–Amy Lieberman

 

  • Jennifer Fox, 19, a protester of Occupy Seattle, miscarried after police pepper sprayed her, The Stranger reported Nov. 21. Fox said she was three months pregnant when, during a march, a police officer kicked her in the stomach and another officer pushed his bicycle into the crowd, again hitting her in the stomach.
  • A law criminalizing abusive practices against Afghan women such as rape, forced marriage and the trading of women is being undermined by spotty enforcement, according to a U.N. report, the Washington Post reported Nov. 23.
  • Between 100,000 and 120,000 female Bulgarians are victims of domestic violence, mostly rape, a study revealed, Novinite reported Nov. 23. However, between 8 and 10 percent of victims do not report the abuses.
  • Herman Cain has signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion pledge, The Hill reported Nov. 22. The “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership” pledge commits candidates to abide by four anti-choice goals if elected to the presidency. All GOP candidates for the presidential have signed the pledge except Mitt Romney.
  • Thousands of immigrants have left Alabama, decimating the state’s economy and perpetuating an ongoing climate of terror and fear for women and their families after the state passed a harsh immigration law, the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights said in a Nov. 21 press statement.
  • A Denver-based anti-abortion group that sponsored an unsuccessful personhood amendment in Mississippi is mobilizing again to push a fortified measure in Colorado, Oregon and Montana, The Denver Post reported Nov.21.

 

Noted:

  • The Afghan government is trying to recruit thousands of women to join the national police force, ABC Radio Australia reported Nov. 21. Although female police officers have already been targeted and killed by the Taliban, police commanders say security across Afghanistan will only improve when there are more women in uniform.
  • A group of Israeli women have posed naked to show solidarity with an Egyptian student who received death threats after posting naked self-photographs on the Internet, News Track India reported Nov. 21. Last week, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy posted online pictures of herself to defy Islamic extremism in Egypt.
  • Pregnant women who ask for a Caesarean delivery should be allowed to have the operation, even if there is no medical need, according to new guidelines for England and Wales, BBC News reported Nov. 22.
  • Although he personally disagrees with abortion and same-sex marriage, Ron Paul set himself apart from other GOP candidates by saying he would not support federal bans of either practice, Des Moines Register reported Nov.19. Both issues should be decided at the state — not federal — level, he said.
  • Samira Ibrahim, who pursued legal action against the Egyptian military for allegedly forcing her to undergo a “virginity test,” awaits the verdict of the State Council Nov. 29, the Global Post reported Nov. 21. Her case, supported by five human rights organizations, could break ground for women’s rights, but Ibrahim has been warned by her lawyers that it is an uphill battle and that there is little in the way of physical evidence.

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