Transgender Becomes Mayor; Anti-Choice Laws Rise

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Indian Hijras, a term used to refer to transgender people in South Asia

Credit: Daniel LofredoRota on Flickr, under Creative Commons 2.0

Indian Hijras, a term used to refer to transgender people in South Asia


(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

A transgender Dalit in central India has become the country’s first transgender to be elected mayor, Agence France-Presse reported Jan. 5. Madhu Bai Kinnar won the municipal election in Raigarh in the central state of Chhattisgarh. Kinnar, a member of the caste previously known as "untouchables," had been earning a living by singing and dancing on trains, the Press Trust of India reported, but she stopped when she was asked to represent her community.

More News to Cheer This Week:

A new law in Illinois aims to protect new mothers and expecting mothers in the workplace. The Illinois Pregnancy Fairness Law took effect on Jan. 1, KSDK reported Jan. 3. "The law creates pregnancy as a protected classification under Illinois law," said Amy Blaisdell, a labor and employment attorney who practices in Missouri and Illinois. "That means women who are pregnant who are applying for jobs or who are employed in the state of Illinois, private employers included, are protected from discrimination as well as retaliation for requesting accommodation."

The U.K.’s Labor party will target the 9 million women who did not vote in the last general election after new figures indicated that more women than men have turned their backs on politics, The Independent reported Jan. 7. The party will publish a "manifesto for women," which will include: child care, help for older women who have to work as well as juggle child care duties as grandparents, domestic violence, equal pay and women’s representation in areas such as public life and business.

Geena Davis is starting the Bentonville Film Festival, a festival designed to promote female and minority filmmakers that will be the only competition in the world to guarantee theatrical distribution for the winners, Time reported Jan. 7.

Intel pledged $300 million to encourage women and minorities to join the tech sector, Wired reported Jan. 7.

Jeers

House Republicans are renewing their effort to ban abortion after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy on the disputed premise that fetuses feel pain at that stage, The Hill reported Jan. 6. On the first day of the new Congress, Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., reintroduced legislation to stop women from terminating pregnancies after four and one half months. The bill, known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, previously passed the House in June 2013.

In addition, Texas abortion rights advocates were in a U.S. appeals court on Jan. 7 to challenge state abortion restrictions they say are aimed more at shutting clinics than protecting women’s health, Reuters reported Jan. 5. A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans convened to consider whether a requirement under Texas law for abortion clinics to have certain hospital-like settings for surgeries is warranted.

Doctors would need to provide women more information about pregnancies and abortions before performing an abortion if a bill filed Jan. 7 in the Tennessee General Assembly becomes law, The Tennessean reported. The "informed consent" proposal comes from state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, and would restore a law that was in effect in Tennessee before a 2000 state Supreme Court ruling that drastically changed abortion laws in the state. Many women living in surrounding states with abortion restrictions seek care in Tennessee.

Against this backdrop, a Guttmacher report found that the number of states considered "extremely hostile" to abortion rights has more than tripled over the past four years. The number of states with at least a half dozen abortion restrictions rose from 5 in 2010 to 18 in 2014, the Washington Post reported. The number of simply "hostile" states — those with at least four abortion restrictions on record — has risen from 13 in 2000 to 22 in 2010 to 27 in 2014.

More News to Jeer This Week:

New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette has been charged with domestic violence/simple battery following an arrest at his Kenner home Jan. 5, USA TODAY reported.

Six women are murdered every day in Mexico, Al Jazeera America reported, quoting figures of the National Citizen Femicide Observatory, a coalition of 43 groups that document the crime. Yet only 24 percent of the 3,892 femicides the group identified in 2012 and 2013 were investigated by authorities. And only 1.6 percent led to sentencing.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior issued a ban on women from running spas, beauty centers and women’s sports facilities, The Saudi Gazette reported Jan. 4. Reacting to the ban, businesswomen in the industry demanded authorities reconsider. The businesswomen said the ban has caused them great losses and put them under much stress.

Noted:

California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a standard-bearer of liberal politics who has served in Congress for more than three decades, announced Jan. 8 she will not run for another term, The Los Angeles Times reported. Boxer has been an unyielding advocate for women’s rights groups among other progressive causes.

Two women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual offenses decades ago have joined a defamation lawsuit, The Associated Press reported Jan. 6. Cosby publicly branded them as liars through statements by his representatives.

A women-only minibus service has been launched in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to reduce sexual harassment on the city’s frequently overcrowded routes, BBC News reported Jan. 5.

In Memoriam:

Bess Myerson, the 1945 Miss America winner who became a celebrated media personality and public servant and then was brought down by scandal, has died, CNN reported Jan. 6. She was 90.

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