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Jordan Combats Abuse; Arctic Pollution Skews Sexes

Saturday, September 15, 2007

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(WOMENSENEWS)--


Cheers

Jordan's Queen Rania launched a $1 million project to fight violence against women, the Associated Press reported Sept. 10. It aims to provide medical assistance and counseling to abused women and to raise public awareness. Eighty-seven percent of Jordanian women believe their husbands are justified in using physical or verbal abuse, according to a 2002 demographic and health survey.

"What's important now is that we're moving from theory to action," said Asma Khader, head of the Jordanian National Commission for Women. "The main obstacle is changing people's perceptions. But this is exactly what is needed to confront this practice."


More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Britain has launched a $141 million food-grant program for pregnant women. By 2009, all pregnant women will receive a pamphlet on nutrition along with a $242 voucher to purchase healthy foods in their seventh month. Critics say that the program is too low-impact to be worth taxpayers' money.
  • British agency Models 1 said it would not hire fashion model Charlotte Carter because she is too thin, the Telegraph reported Dec. 9. The 5-foot-10, size zero Carter, who has struggled with eating problems, said she was encouraged by the decision. "It helped me finally to realize that I was too thin," she said. "I was impressed that an agency was actually addressing my well-being." Meanwhile, at Fashion Week in New York, Reuters reported Sept. 12 that runway models still looked "emaciated" despite an industry-wide controversy about models' low weights.
  • When a Nebraska judge barred Tory Bowen from using the words "rape," "victim," "assailant" and "sexual assault" against an alleged attacker Bowen said it adversely affected her testimony. The case has ended in mistrial twice. Now she is suing the judge.
  • A South Korean judge has filed a court petition to overturn the national adultery law, JoongAng Daily reported Sept. 10. The law is rarely enforced but adulterers can face up to two years in prison if prosecuted.
  • The Australian state of Queensland has its first female premier after Anna Bligh of the Labour Party was selected to replace retiring premier Peter Beattie. Bligh is the third woman to be a state premier in the nation's history and pledged to focus on the economy.
  • A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the University of Colorado stemming from a 2001 athlete rape scandal, Inside Higher Ed reported Sept. 10. In the suit, two women claim the school violated sex discrimination laws by failing to monitor athletes and preventing their rapes despite general knowledge of past misconduct among members of the football team.
  • The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition announced that 230 major U.S. corporations have added gender identity and expression into their nondiscrimination policies. Lucent Technology was the first large company to adopt the policy in 1997.
  • The International Cricket Council named Jhulan Goswami Women's Cricketer of the Year. The 23-year-old bowler was the first Indian woman to bag 10 wickets in a match, helping India win a key match against England last summer. Goswami is the fastest bowler in the women's game.

Jeers

Arctic regions risk a gender imbalance. Twice as many girls as boys are born in Inuit villages that keep a traditional hunter-gatherer diet. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program--overseen by eight Arctic nations--links the gender shift to the hormonal impact of chemical pollution.

In one village, only girls had been born. In another, scientists studied 480 families and found high levels of hormone-mimicking pollutants in the bloodstream of pregnant women. These chemicals can alter the gender of a fetus in the first three weeks of gestation.

"This has become a critical question of people's survival," said Aqqaluk Lynge, an Inuit leader from Greenland. "But few governments want to talk about the problem of hormone mimickers because it means thinking about the chemicals you use."

In the United States, researchers have linked the falling age of female puberty to a higher risk for breast cancer. Girls today get their first periods a few months earlier than 40 years ago and develop breasts one to two years earlier, according to a Sept. 6 study by the Breast Cancer Fund. Girls who mature early are also at greater risk for hormonal imbalance, psychological disorders and sexual victimization. Previous studies have fingered environmental pollutants as one cause of early puberty.


More News to Jeer This Week:

  • For the sixth year in a row, President Bush withheld funding from the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family planning and maternal health programs. Congress appropriated $40 million for the fund this year; the Bush administration withheld it once again, claiming the agency supports China's one-child policy and coercive abortions.
  • Megan Williams, 20, was held captive and tortured for a week inside a West Virginia mobile home, the AP reported Sept. 11. She was forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked, sexually assaulted and repeatedly slurred for her African American ethnicity. Her captors--who include a mother and son, a mother and daughter, and two other men--have been arrested; the federal government is considering whether they will be prosecuted for hate crimes.
  • Doctors believe that 26 sewing needles embedded in a Chinese woman's body were an attempt by her grandparents to kill her as an infant because they favored a boy, the AP reported Sept. 11. Surgery was scheduled to remove six needles that dangerously worked their way into 29-year-old Luo Cuifen's internal organs.
  • The European Union's aid programs for former Soviet Republics are failing to do enough for women, a Poland women's rights network argues in a new study, the Inter-Press Service reported Sept. 13. European economic aid is described as "gender blind," yet does not address wage gaps, women's health or unemployment, and thus offers little chance for improving women's status. Ukraine, for example, receives EU aid but doesn't adhere to anti-bias policies. Job announcements are routinely segregated by sex in Ukraine, where women are 8 percent of parliament.

Noted:

  • Women are outpacing men in higher education enrollment as U.S. colleges and universities are experiencing an enrollment surge overall, USA Today reported Sept. 12. Graduate schools enroll six women for every four men. Women are expected to earn 60 percent of bachelor's degrees by 2012.
  • Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, says she will return from exile Oct. 18 in order to run for office again, the BBC reported Sept. 14. Bhutto may face charges of corruption when she returns.

Dominique Soguel is Arabic editor and Jennifer Thurston is associate editor.

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

For more information:

Jordanian National Commission for Women:
http://www.jncw.jo/introduction.html

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program:
http://www.amap.no/

"U.S. Girls' Early Puberty Attracts Research Flurry":
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3113/

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