December 24, 2011

Navy Kiss a First; Iraqis Lack Hope Post-Pullout

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A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on Dec. 21 when two female sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the dock after one of them returned from 80 days at sea, The Huffington Post reported Dec. 21. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill and shared a quick kiss in the rain with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In Madagascar legal aid clinics are playing an increasingly important role during the country’s current political and economic crisis, especially for poverty-hit rural women who are under-served by the country’s ailing judicial system, reported IRIN Dec. 22. The purpose of the clinics is to ensure that justice is within reach, especially for women.
  • Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party Dec. 23 for any upcoming elections, returning the Nobel laureate to the country’s political arena, reported the Associated Press.
  • Two Bahraini female activists were released from jail Dec. 20, but refused to leave until another woman, imprisoned since September, was also set free, Bikya Masr reported Dec. 21.
  • Saudi Arabia will open its first government engineering school for female students,Al Arabiyareported Dec. 21. The five-year bachelors program will include electrical and industrial engineering courses.
  • The number of women proposing marriage to men in Morocco has risen, Al Arabiya reported Dec. 20. Sociologist Abdul Samad al-Dialmi said the rise is part of a female campaign to promote gender equality.
  • President Obama on Dec. 19 issued a "national action plan" aimed at giving women a bigger role in resolving conflicts around the world, The Washington Times reported Dec. 19.
  • A Nevada state judge rewrote a misleading anti-abortion ballot initiative to make clear it was designed to ban all abortions and other vital women’s health services, said a Dec. 18 press statement from the ACLU of Nevada and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The initiative was originally worded in such vague terms that it failed to make clear the far-reaching effects the initiative would have on Nevada law.
  • The United Nations General Assembly voted to designate October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, TrustLaw reported Dec. 19. The day will promote girls’ rights, highlight gender inequalities between girls and boys and address the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls globally.
  • Israel’s political leaders and chief rabbis condemned persistent efforts by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men to shunt Israeli women to the back of public buses, reported the Associated Press Dec. 18. The outcry came in reaction to an Israeli woman’s experience of being asked to move to the back of a bus, which was posted on Facebook and was highly covered by Israeli media.
  • Thousands of women massed to protest against Egyptian military violence in Tahrir Square Dec. 20, reported The New York Times, after a video and photographs showing Egyptian army soldiers beating a young woman Dec. 17 went viral on the Internet. In response, the country’s military council reaffirmed "its respect and total appreciation for the women of Egypt and their right to protest, effectively and positively participate in the political life on the road to the democratic transition, Associated Press reported Dec. 20. The council also mentioned that reports of forced "virginity tests" on detained female protesters last April had been transferred to the Supreme Military Court, according to Bikya Masr.


Women in Iraq expect little to change for the better following the U.S. military pullout, reported The Times of India Dec. 22. Over the past three decades women in the country have suffered brutal violence, Islamic extremism and a run-down education system. The recent war increased violence harming their own physical security, and also resulted in husbands and sons being imprisoned, conscripted into militias or insurgent groups, or killed. Currently there are more than one million widows and female heads of households in Iraq.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, a Mexican citizen and former inmate in Maricopa County, Ariz., filed a lawsuit against sheriff’s officers for mistreating her during and after her pregnancy, including shackling her while she was in labor and after her Caesarean section, reported CNN Dec. 22.
  • Abortions aren’t performed in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Premier Robert Ghiz said there will be no change to the island’s abortion policy, reported CBC Dec. 23. The island’s Reproductive Rights Organization said it will continue to pressure the government for change.
  • French health authorities recommended that women who received potentially defective breast implants made by a now-defunct company called Poly Implants Protheses have the implants removed, reported The New York Times Dec. 23. More than 1,000 of the 30,000 French women who had implants made by this company have experienced ruptures or other problems. Germany’s medical safety board advised women with this brand of breast implants to consult their doctors but did not recommend their removal, reported Reuters Dec. 23. And the British government said women with these implants should not rush to have them removed, reported Reuters Dec. 23.
  • Vermont residents and same-sex spouses, Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda, were told by federal immigration authorities that Ueda must leave the United States for her native Japan by Dec. 31, despite their state-recognized marriage, reported The Washington Post Dec. 22. Their case illuminates the difficulties that binational same-sex couples face.
  • Fewer U.S. women ages 15 to 24 are receiving reproductive health care according to a study using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, reported the Sentinel Source Dec. 21. The decline was seen across all demographic and socioeconomic groups, though economically disadvantaged women are the least likely to get care.
  • Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul released a campaign ad highlighting his anti-abortion views and featuring testimonials from four of his female patients, USA Today reported Dec. 21.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law that would prohibit abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange, Reuters reported Dec. 21. The American Civil Liberties Union previously said it would sue the state if the bill became law.
  • Ethnic Tamil women in Sri Lanka’s former war zones face abuses, including sexual violence, trafficking and forced prostitution, CBS News reported Dec. 21. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said there have been credible allegations of sexual violence against women in those areas at the hands of both security forces and men from their own communities.
  • At least 675 women and girls were murdered during the first nine months of the year in Pakistan for allegedly defaming their family’s honor, The Express Tribune reported Dec. 20. Around 450 of the women killed were accused of having "illicit relations" and 129 for marrying without permission.
  • The Ukrainian organization of topless female activists, Femen, says three of its members were abducted by security officers during a protest against Belarus’ authoritarian president, beaten, humiliated and left naked in a forest, ABC News reported Dec. 20.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker cut funds to the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, which provided free screenings to women from 45 to 64 without health insurance, reported Jezebel Dec. 19.
  • Many of the 27,000 women involved in the fish trade in Nyanza, Kenya, are forced to have sex with fishermen in order to get the best catch of the day, reported IRIN/PlusNews Dec. 19. This informal system, known as ‘jaboya,’ has long been associated with the high levels of HIV infection in the area.
  • Six Zimbabwean women have been sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle cocaine–in their stomachs–to Asia, reported The Zimbabwe Reporter Dec. 19. Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs told state media that it tried to save the women from execution, but failed.
  • Retailers pay female employees significantly less than male employees, according to new data released by the City University of New York and the Retail Action Project. The project launched an online petition to address the discrimination and to ask for equal pay.
  • Saudi women do not want to file for divorce for fear of losing custody of their children, Arab News reported Dec. 16. Women say they would rather endure a bad marriage as in most child custody cases the father usually wins.


  • Somalia’s national women’s basketball team defeated Qatar to win the 2011 Arab Games, reported CNN Dec. 22. The win was monumental for the team, who faced severe threats of violence by religious militants in their country.
  • Human Rights Watch called for The Egyptian Supreme Council for the Armed Forces and the Interior Ministry to order an immediate halt to the escalating number of attacks by Egyptian military and police officers against protesters, journalists and activists in Cairo, some of which are sexual in nature.
  • Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, announced that new Canadian citizens will now be forced to remove the burka or niqab while taking their oath of citizenship, reported The Huffington Post Dec. 22.
  • Ten legal organizations submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting a Title IX Compliance Review of Penn State’s response to sexual harassment and violence allegations, said a Dec. 19 press release from Equal Rights Advocates, a group based in San Francisco. The letter follows recent reports that Penn State failed to properly respond to allegations of sexual abuse.

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