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The military’s “good soldier” defense–in which a commendable record of service could be used against charges of sexual assault–is now set to become history, Time reported March 11. That’s one of the key changes approved by the Senate on March 10 in a wide-ranging bill to combat sexual assault in the ranks. It’s expected to pass the House.
More News to Cheer This Week:
President Obama has begun a new effort to highlight economic issues facing women, USA TODAY reported March 12. Women are a key voting bloc whose turnout will be crucial to Democrats chances in the November mid-term elections. Obama was scheduled this week to meet with several House and Senate Democrats and discuss issues such as raising the minimum wage, the pay disparity between men and women, the availability of affordable child care and early education programs.
The Marine Corps plans to establish an experimental ground combat force consisting of at least 25 percent women, USA TODAY reported March 12. It is the first effort to place women directly into such jobs, though the unit will not deployed overseas and will be used exclusively to gather data. The unit will, however, undergo extensive training that mirrors what a typical Marine task force would undergo before being deployed overseas.
Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts launched a campaign this week to encourage girls’ leadership by banning the word “bossy.” Here, a Washington Post columnist joins others in applauding the idea of closing the “confidence gap” but questions the tactic of word banning.
Iran appointed the first woman in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan to the post of deputy governor for administrative development affairs and humanitarian sources, the Arabic-language Sada Al-Balad news portal reported March 10. Zaha’a Arbabi, 49 years old, has a doctorate and is affiliated with the Free University in Zahedan.
A group of Greek Orthodox nuns held for three months by rebels in Syria after being taken from their convent in Maaloula were released, BBC News reported March 10. The nuns said they had been mostly well treated. They were freed as part of a prisoner exchange involving some 150 women and children held by the Syrian government.
March 10 was National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day and groups like Voice of Choice and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia have been using the Twitter hashtag Thx2AbProviders to tweet their appreciation for the doctors who enable reproductive freedom. Think Progress also published a story about the harassment that doctors face for performing abortions or working at abortion clinics. In honor of HIV-AIDS Awareness Day for Girls, Think Progress compiled a list that highlights the problems of U.S. women and girls in getting the information they need to be able to get help amid the stigma surrounding the diseases carry.
In Lebanon, 4,000 women, men, and children marched together on International Women’s Day demanding the approval of nation’s first law against domestic violence, Al Jazeera reported March 8. Following the deaths of two women, activists began to push for a bill that would criminalize abuse. Many took to social media to condemn the seven-month delay in passing the domestic violence law. Protesters also criticized judges and forensic specialists for allegedly falsifying reports on recent murders.
A report detailing the pattern of sexual violence Syrian women face in the war was released by MADRE and other groups, including the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, on March 13. The report discusses gender-based violence, challenges to reporting and the roles of women in the conflict, among other topics. Authors conclude that “there is a real danger that women who survive the rampant gender-based violence being committed in the context of Syria‘s conflict will continue to face ongoing sexual violence once the conflict ends.”
More News to Jeer This Week:
A Republican state lawmaker made a sexually explicit comment about victims of domestic violence on March 10 while defending another Republican state lawmaker who claimed some people “like being in abusive relationships,” Salon reported March 12. On Facebook, Republican state Rep. Kyle Tasker posted an image of two figures meant to be engaging in oral sex with the caption, “50,000 battered women and I still eat mine plain.” Tasker added the note, “This one’s for you Mark Warden.”
Tens of thousands of Americans are pressuring Dartmouth College to strengthen its sexual assault policies after the attack of a student on campus, Think Progress reported March 14. Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition spearheaded by the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet asking the school to “take action immediately to curb the sexual assault crisis.” The victim was sexually assaulted after her name appeared in a “rape guide” that was published on a student-run website.
The first confirmed case of a woman contracting HIV from another woman during sex was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, The Los Angeles Times reported March 13. Although there have been reports of women transmitting the human immunodeficiency virus to other women via sexual activity in the past, the reports have been difficult to prove.
In Jordan, an 11-year-old girl was beaten to death by her father after teachers accused her of stealing from school, Global Post reported March 12. “The father, in his 40s, brutally beat his daughter after teachers accused her of stealing things from school,” said a security official in Zarqa, in the northeastern part of the capital city of Amman. “After he calmed down, he went to check on the girl. She was in coma. He rushed her to hospital but she died.”
Jordanian prosecutors charged a female teen’s 40-year-old father and her 16-year-old brother with rape after she gave birth to a baby girl, SBS Online reported March 12. The two men repeatedly raped the victim. DNA tests proved that the baby girl was the daughter of the victim’s brother. Both men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
McDonald’s and several franchise owners face lawsuits from workers in California, Michigan and New York, the New York Times reported March 13. The lawsuits allege that the company has illegally underpaid employees by erasing hours from their time cards. It has also neglected to pay for overtime hours and ordered employees to work off the clock, among other offenses.
Human Rights Watch is calling on the Iraqi government to withdraw the new draft Personal Status Law and ensure that Iraq’s legal framework protects women and girls in line with its international obligations. The legislation would restrict women in matters of inheritance, parental and other rights after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives. It would also allow girls to be married from age 9.
Pakistan‘s top religious body declared the prohibition of child marriage incompatible with Islam and demanded that the government amend its laws, Agence France Presse reported March 12. The Council of Islamic Ideology also ruled that a man does not need permission from his wife if he wants to marry another woman. Activists have called on parliament to ignore both recommendations, terming them a violation of women’s fundamental rights.
A study conducted by three U.S. universities found that men are twice as likely to be hired for jobs in the STEM fields–science, technology, engineering, and math–even though averages for male and females showed that they both scored equally well, Think Progress reported March 12?. Women make up around a quarter of all STEM workers and progress has stalled since 1990. Women in these fields make $15,900 less each year on average than their male coworkers.
Female characters were “dramatically under-represented” in the biggest films of 2013, the BBC News reported March 11. The study found that women made up just 15 percent of lead characters, 29 percent of major characters and 30 percent of all speaking characters on film.
A U.S. Army judge has hit the brakes on the prosecution of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair on sexual assault charges, the New York Times reported March 10. The military judge said improper political considerations may have prevented the accused from being allowed to offer a plea deal. Sinclair is described as one of the highest-ranking officers ever charged with the crime.
A 14-year-old Syrian refugee girl committed suicide in the Korekosk camp in the suburb of Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan, ARA News Agency reported March 11. Sources in Karakosk said that the girl made more than eight previous attempts to kill herself after her family forced her to marry someone, “while she was in love with someone else.” Her family said she “took 150 diabetes capsules.”
A doctor in Egypt will face trial for performing a female circumcision that killed a 14-year-old girl, Middle East Online reported March 11. The girl’s father, who took her for the operation, will also face trial.
Human Rights Watch calls for the immediate and unconditional release of three female rights defenders unlawfully detained for their support of women, students and political dissidents, Eurasia News reported March 10. One of the three was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this month. The others were already serving prison terms in Iran.
Instead of opting for the traditional Pap smear to screen women against cervical cancer, an FDA committee has voted unanimously to replace it the with a DNA test, Fox News reported March 13.
On International Women’s Day, six women bared their breast outside the Louvre Museum to denounce the many legal and cultural restrictions imposed on women in the Muslim world, The Times of India reported March 8.
Tunisian prostitutes are calling to re-open a licensed brothel in Sousse city, which closed about a year a half ago after suffering an attack attributed to the Salafist militants, the Arabic-language Youm Esabe’e News portal reported March 11. A woman who identified herself as “SZ” said brothel prostitutes and their families are suffering hunger and poverty since the closure.
A woman who claims the University of Virginia brushed aside her sexual assault claim filed a federal class action challenging the Campus SaVE Act, Courthouse News reported March 11. Jane Doe, who claims the federal law undermines the rights victims of sexual assault and harassment, sued the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan in Federal Court, pleading to stop enforcement of the act.
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