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U.S. Under Scrutiny; Haiti Post-Quake Rapes Rise

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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(WOMENSENEWS)--

Cheers

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that, for the first time, the United States will participate in what's called the "universal periodic review" process, run by the U.N. Human Rights Council, The Washington Post reported March 18. The United States will submit itself to the process this fall, in which the nation's record, including that on women's rights issues, might be judged.

"Human rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves," Clinton said in the article.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. George W. Bush's administration refused to join the council, citing its nondemocratic makeup and its frequent criticisms of Israel, the article reported, but the Obama administration reversed that decision last spring.

More News to Cheer This Week:

     

  • Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest telecommunications company, said March 15 that it would more than double the number of women who are managers within five years, becoming the first member of the DAX 30 index of blue-chip German companies to introduce gender quotas, the New York Times reported. The company said it planned to raise the number of women in senior and middle management to 30 percent by the end of 2015, from 12 percent today. It said it had roughly 15,000 management positions worldwide.
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  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a U.N. gathering in New York that the world body must appoint more women to top jobs in order to raise the profile and understanding of women's equality issues, Reuters reported Mar. 12. Clinton also endorsed a U.N. program to field a "super agency," which will consolidate four bodies focused on disparate issues affecting women into one. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and U.N. Development Program Chief Helen Clark are among the highest-ranking women serving in the U.N., Reuters reported.
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  • President Obama plans to tap Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, for the No. 2 spot at the Federal Reserve, the San Francisco Chronicle reported March 15. He also named top candidates for two other vacancies on the board: Sarah Bloom Raskin, an attorney who is Maryland's commissioner on financial regulation, and Peter Diamond, an MIT economist who specializes in Social Security issues
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  • The Constitutional Court in Egypt supported the right of women to serve as judges in state courts despite protests by conservative leaders, the New York Times reported on March 15. Currently, women in the country are not allowed to serve as judges under Egyptian law.
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Jeers

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Women and children as young as 2, already traumatized by the loss of homes and loved ones in the Jan. 12 earthquake that hit Haiti, are now falling victim to rapists in the sprawling tent cities that have become home to hundreds of thousands of people, the Associated Press reported March 16.

With no lighting and no security, the city can become dangerous after sunset. Sexual assaults are daily occurrences in the biggest camps, aid workers say, and most attacks go unreported because of shame, social stigma and fear of reprisals from attackers, the Associated Press reported.

Rape was a significant problem in Haiti even before the earthquake and was frequently used as a political weapon in times of upheaval. But the quake has made women and girls ever more vulnerable, as they've lost their homes, being forced to live in close quarters with strangers. Also gone are many male protectors, with the deaths of husbands, brothers and sons.

More News to Jeer This Week:

     

  • Three Mexican women employed on temporary worker visas in North Carolina sued Captain Charlie's Seafood, Inc., a seafood processing company, March 17 for unlawfully restricting them to certain work solely because they are women, according to a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU. The lawsuit also claims that the company underpaid the women, unlawfully failed to reimburse their travel costs and wrongfully fired them. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the North Carolina Justice Center on behalf of the three women and other workers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
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  • The 2007 R.J. Reynolds' cigarette campaign, Camel No. 9, may have been effective in encouraging young girls to start smoking, finds a study released March 15 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study enrolled more than 1,000 10-13 year olds in 2003 and followed up with them five times through 2008, asking participants to report a brand of "favorite" cigarettes. Teens who reported having a favorite cigarette ad at baseline were 50 percent more likely to have smoked by the fifth interview, according to a press release by Legacy, an anti-smoking advocacy group in Washington, D.C. After the launch of Camel No. 9, the percentage of teen girls who reported having a favorite cigarette ad increased by 10 percentage points, with Camel accounting for nearly all of this increase.
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  • Torture survivors seeking sanctuary in Britain are being wrongly held in government detention centers, The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported March 14. One is Bibiche Lutete, 36, who was beaten and repeatedly raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the U.N. has confirmed rape is used as a weapon of war. Another is a 43-year-old torture victim from Zimbabwe, who is on hunger strike in the Yarl's Wood detention center, in Bedfordshire. She says she was detained despite independent verification of the abuse in her home country.
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Noted:

     

  • Catholic nuns are urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama's health care plan, in a public break with bishops who say it would subsidize abortion, the Associated Press reported March 17. Some 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns sent lawmakers a letter March 17 urging them to pass the Senate health care bill, the article reported. The bill currently contains restrictions on abortion funding that the bishops say don't go far enough. The letter says that "despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions." The letter says the legislation also will help support pregnant women and "this is the real pro-life stance."
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  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on March 12 that New York City's Department of Education discriminated against Debbie Almontaser when she was forced to resign as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an English-Arabic school in Brooklyn, reported The New York Daily News on March 17. The situation began in 2007, when critics called for her resignation after she was quoted in an interview in The New York Post for defending the use of the word "intifada" on a t-shirt.
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  • Former Olympic medalist Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Dubai received the Steiger Award for her contributions to the field of sport, reported The Khaleej Times on March 15. She was awarded for her work as a member of the International Olympic Committee, president of the International Equestrian Federation and as president of the Dubai Organizing Committee for the SportAccord Convention 2010.
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