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Fair Pay Bill Proceeds; Congo Atrocities Continue

Saturday, August 4, 2007

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(WOMENSENEWS)--


Cheers

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225-199 vote, the Associated Press reported July 31, and is now scheduled for a vote in the Senate.

The bill seeks to remedy the May 29 Supreme Court decision that said workers cannot sue employers for wage discrimination that occurred in the past. The court's 5-4 majority ruling found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only allows a case to proceed if a complaint is filed within 180 days of the discriminatory event; the Fair Pay Act amends that law.

"The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the ability of women and all workers who are protected by anti-discrimination and civil rights laws access to our judicial system to vindicate their rights when they have been harmed by discrimination," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill.


More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Flozelle Woodmore, who has been in prison for the murder of her abusive partner for 20 years, was informed by officials that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will no longer oppose her parole. He has vetoed her parole for the last three years, even though the parole board has recommended it. Woodmore, who was jailed before a law allowing evidence of abuse at trial came into effect, will probably be released from prison in a week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 3.
  • A simple, inexpensive test to detect cervical cancer could prevent the deaths of millions of women, a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet has found. By washing a woman's cervix with vinegar, pre-cancerous cells turn bright white under a halogen lamp and are detected by the eye. About 250,000 women die annually from cervical cancer, primarily in developing countries where preventive care and early detection such as Pap tests are not easily accessible.
  • The Women's National Basketball Association received an overall A grade for diversity from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The league's grade for gender dropped to a B-plus last year because they lost women in some positions, but the numbers of women and people of color in management increased overall during 2007. The WNBA is the only professional sports league to have achieved A grades in three major categories three separate times and is the only one whose president is a woman.
  • Fourteen women will attend the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University this fall, three times more than usual, the Arizona Republic reported July 31. The school received a $200,000 donation to hire a female recruiter last year. Women make up 9.5 percent of the construction industry, a 1 percent decline from a decade ago.
  • The percentage of Qatari women in the work force rose from 14 percent in 1984 to 30 percent in 2004, the Peninsula newspaper reported July 31. The majority of employed women, 85 percent, work for the government, constituting one-third of the public sector employees. Qatari women also dominate health services, comprising about three-quarters of workers.
  • The U.S. House of Representative approved a resolution July 30 calling on the Japanese government to issue a formal, unambiguous apology for enslaving "comfort women," the system of forced military prostitution during World War II, and changes in how the country's history is taught in schools.
  • A bill aimed at halving global poverty by 2015 was approved by a House committee, CQ Today reported July 31. Introduced by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the bill would use the United Nations' millennium development goals--which target improvements in women's health and education--as a yardstick for progress. The bill also would direct policies to fight HIV-AIDS, improve trade policy and increase aid to countries with international debts.


Jeers

Congolese women in the South Kivu province are now facing sexual atrocities "far beyond rape," Yakin Erturk, United Nations special investigator for violence against women, told the Associated Press July 30. Erturk reported that the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst she has seen. The nation has been embroiled in civil conflict since 1994.

"Women are brutally gang raped, often in front of their families and communities," Erturk said in a statement. "In numerous cases, male relatives are forced at gun point to rape their own daughters, mothers or sisters. Frequently women are shot or stabbed in their genital organs after they are raped. Women who survived months of enslavement told me that their tormentors had forced them to eat excrement or the human flesh of murdered relatives."

There have been 4,500 cases of sexual violence reported to date this year--mostly committed by rebel groups--but the actual number of incidents are probably higher, she said.


More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The statue of Rosa Parks, a heroine of the civil rights movement, slated for the statuary hall in the U.S. Capitol is on hold because sufficient funding was not approved by Congress, the Detroit News reported July 31. The sculpture would put Parks, who died in 2005, in the company of presidents and historic figures.
  • Women in prison have higher health risks than other U.S. citizens due to their lifestyles prior to incarceration but also from the poor health services they receive as inmates, Science Daily reported July 31. Many of the women may arrive with illnesses, but do not receive adequate treatment. Routine gynecological exams, for example, are given to only 33 percent of female juvenile inmates.
  • Female journalists and civil society organizations in Yemen are conducting sit-ins to protest the government's July 16 decision to allow all news services to be distributed through wireless service providers with the exception of the news group, Women Journalists Without Chains, the Yemen Times reported July 29. The government said it is blocking that news service because it is produced by women.
  • An Ohio bill that would ban women from seeking abortions without written consent from the prospective father of the fetus, the Ravenna Record-Courier reported July 30. If the identity is unknown, women are required to submit a list of possible fathers and doctors would conduct paternity tests. A woman would also have to submit a police report as proof of rape or incest.
  • About 120 Kenyan women, ages 17 to 60, share their experiences of being verbally abused, sexually assaulted and neglected in unhygienic health facilities while giving birth in "Failure to Deliver: Violations of Women's Human Rights in Kenyan Health Facilities," released this month by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya. The report recommends the government outlaw the practice of health facilities detaining patients who cannot pay their medical bills and address the problems in delivery of maternal health care.
  • The Indian army has instructed 70,000 troops in Kashmir to stay away from women because they are "used as pawns by terrorists' outfits," the Hindustan Times reported July 30. Recent incidents such as an attempted rape by two soldiers have embarrassed the army and caused mass protests. The army has also been accused of directing violence toward women in Kashmir, whose borders are disputed by India and Pakistan.


Noted:

The number of U.S. women who breastfeed their infants rose to a record high 74 percent in 2004, Reuters reported Aug. 3, but the percentage of infants who were exclusively breastfed fell far short of targets set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding during the first three months was 31 percent; the government's goal is 60 percent. And the exclusive rate for infants up to six months was 11 percent; the target is 25 percent.

Jacqueline Lee is a Los Angeles-based reporter is an intern with Women's eNews and Nouhad Moawad is managing editor of Arabic Women's eNews.

Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at
editors@womensenews.org.


For more information:

"Maloney and Ginsburg Parry High Court Ruling": http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3190/

United Nations, Yakin Erturk statement:
http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/B5D0053875B01B8CC1257328003A8FEE?opendocument

Center for Reproductive Rights, "Failure to Deliver":
http://www.reproductiverights.org/ww_afr_kenya.html

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