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Saudi Lashing Dropped; Global Gag's Impacts Shown

Friday, September 30, 2011



(WOMENSENEWS)--

Cheers

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Saudi King Abdullah has revoked a sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman for breaking the ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom, a Saudi princess said Sept. 28 via her Twitter account, The Express Tribune reported that day.

"Thank God, the lashing of Sheima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I'm sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am," said Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

The woman, Sheima Jastaniah, was sentenced Sept. 26 by a court in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, where she was caught driving in July.

A group of Saudi women launched a campaign on Change.org the following day, calling on Saudi officials to drop all charges against the woman.

The sentence came a day after the king announced women would be allowed to vote and to run in municipal councils in 2015.

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More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In reaction to a widely circulated video, posted earlier this month, of five men gang-raping a woman in Nigeria, more than 85,000 people worldwide have joined a Nigerian woman's popular campaign on Change.org calling on officials in Nigeria to arrest the five men, reported The Salem News Sept. 30.
  • Catholics for Choice now publicly advocates against any legislation that would permit religious organizations to deny health care insurance coverage for family planning to their employees, according to a press release from Catholics for Choice Sept. 30.
  • Following the Egyptian revolution, women there are evolving a feminist activism that weaves the values of education, women's rights and citizenship into an Islamist framework, reported The Huffington Post Sept. 29.
  • The FBI is moving to change the federal definition of rape for the first time in 80 years, reported The Baltimore Sun Sept. 29.  Authorities and women's advocacy groups hope it will lead to improved tracking of the crime and an attitude shift among investigators.
  • In North Carolina, new restrictions on abortions will face their first legal challenge, reported ABC Sept. 29. Several pro-choice organizations filed a lawsuit Sept. 29, against a new state law restricting abortions, which they say is unconstitutional.
  • In a Sept. 28 press release, The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women announced $17.1 million in grants to 34 countries, including, for the first time, Iraq and South Sudan.
  • The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize may recognize two female activists who helped unleash the revolutionary wave that swept through North Africa and the Middle East during the Arab Spring, Reuters reported Sept. 27.
  • To encourage more women to vote in the Oct. 23 Constituent Assembly elections, Tunisia launched a nationwide campaign, Africa Review reported Sept. 27. The media campaign, to run from Oct. 1 to 20, is airing on radio and television spots, plus on posters.
  • The White House announced Sept. 26 that the National Science Foundation will give researchers more workplace flexibility in a move to boost women's roles in the sciences, Reuters reported Sept. 26.
  • On Sept. 29, human rights activist Jacqueline Moudeina of Chad; Spanish-based nonprofit GRAIN; and American midwifery educator Ina May Gaskin were awarded with the Right Livelihood Awards, sometimes referred to as the alternative Nobel prizes, reported The Associated Press on Sept. 29.
  • Two Americans hikers released from an Iranian prison have landed in New York after more being held for more than two years on accusations of spying, the AFP reported Sept. 25. The two hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, had been with Sarah Shourd, a Women's eNews contributor, when they crossed from Iraq into Iran.

Jeers

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Analysis published Sept. 29 by the World Health Organization Bulletin reveals that abortion rates in Africa rose during the period of the global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. The policy prohibited U.S. aid from funding any group involved in abortion-related work.

"This evidence confirms what we have seen on the ground in the countries where we work," said Latanya Mapp Frett, vice president of Global, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a Sept. 29 press release. "Restricting access to providers of comprehensive reproductive health services does not reduce the need for abortion.  It drives poor women to risk death and injury by seeking unsafe abortion care from unskilled providers.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • African women still face legal and regulatory hurdles to participate fully in the economy, All Africa.com reported Sept. 28, citing a report by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.
  • On Sept. 29 the U.S. House of Representatives and several other agencies released their version of a FY 2012 appropriations bill. In it, funding for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant is proposed to be reduced by $1.8 million, according to a press release from The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs. The bill also proposes to eliminate Title X Family Planning grants ($337 million).
  • A federal judge has refused to block enforcement of a new Kansas law restricting insurance coverage for abortions, reported The Kansas City Star Sept. 29. The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans, except when a woman's life is at risk.
  • In Mexico, abortion opponents celebrated a victory on Sept. 27 when the Supreme Court narrowly upheld a provision of Baja California's state constitution saying life begins at conception, reported the Los Angeles Times Sept. 28.
  • In a letter addressed to SlutWalk organizers, the founder of Black Women's Blueprint and other black women raised the concern of finding "no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it."

Noted:

  • American Banker has announced its 2011 ranking of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance, Market Watch reported Sept. 26. This year, BNY Mellon Vice Chairman Karen Peetz has been named the "Most Powerful Woman in Banking" by the magazine.
  • Australia's female soldiers will soon be able to serve in all frontline combat roles, The New York Times reported Sept. 27. The move will make Australia one of a handful of countries that allow female soldiers to serve alongside their male counterparts in some of the most dangerous roles in modern warfare.
  • On Sept. 30 an NYPD officer told women in a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood not to wear short skirts or shorts to avoid being victimized by a serial sexual assaulter who has been attacking women in the area since March, reported Feministing Sept. 30.  This will likely add fuel to the fire at today's (Saturday) NYC Slutwalk, Feministing says.  Look out of photos from today's event from Women's eNews correspondents.
  • In an interview with Women's eNews on Sept. 24 at the Wall Street encampment in the New York financial district, Christina Gonzalez described being arrested and bullied by police officers when she tried to film the violent arrest of another protester. Earlier that day New York City Police's macing of young women was captured in this widely circulated YouTube video. The police and Manhattan prosecutors are separately examining the macing incident, reported The New York Times Sept. 29.
  • In France, several organization launched campaigns to do away with the word "mademoiselle," which they see as separating women into two categories — married and unmarried — in a manner men aren't subjected to, reported NPR Sept. 29.
  • In Islamabad, Pakistan, speakers at an interactive session on Sept. 27 stressed the need to educate the youth on reproductive health education, to help them better understand themselves both physically and mentally, reported The Express Tribune on Sept. 29.
  • Swiss lawmakers are considering a ban on wearing face-covering veils in some public situations, The Washington Post reported Sept. 28.
  • Pakistani actress Veena Malik made TV history when she retaliated after a Muslim cleric criticized her behavior on an Indian reality TV program, Radio Free reported Sept. 27.
  • Northern Ireland's health minister said that women who choose to have a Caesarean section for non-medical reasons may have to pay for the operation, BBC News reported Sept. 28.

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In Memoriam:

Kenya's Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai died on Sept. 25 in Nairobi while undergoing cancer treatment, BBC News reported Sept. 26. She was 71. Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for promoting conservation, women's rights and transparent. government - the first African woman to get the award. She was elected as a Member of Parliament in 2002 and served as a minister in the Kenyan government for a time. Maathai was named a Women's eNews 21 Leader for the 21st Century in 2005.