A senior Vatican official from Switzerland said this week that condoms could be used to fight AIDS in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia.

Cardinal Georges Cottier told the Italian news agency Apcom that the use of condoms was “legitimate” to save lives in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia, where there was no time to teach abstinence or faithful conjugal love. He is the most senior figure so far to argue that condoms should be admissible in exceptional circumstances, The Guardian reports.

Cottier does not, however, support the use of condoms in general. He reiterated the church’s official line, saying that condoms should not be used as contraceptives. But he emphasized that the threat of AIDS was so immediate that “the use of condoms in some situations can be considered morally legitimate.”

Another reason to Cheer:

–Girls in the southern city of Guangzhou, China, who have no male siblings will enjoy a 10 per cent reduction in education fees and medical costs as of this year. A senior official from the Population and Family Planning Bureau in Guangzhou told China Daily this week that the move is seen as a measure to address the discrimination many Chinese parents have against daughters. This effort is part of the “Care for Girls” project, which was launched in September in 2003 in the city along with the rest of the nation, aiming to provide a healthy environment for girls’ development and protecting the interests of women.


Approximately 30,000 women a year in the United Kingdom are fired, laid off or leave their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination, according to research from the Equal Opportunities Commission. The commission reported that its survey, published Wednesday, was the first to measure the level of discrimination against the approximately 441,000 pregnant women in the U.K. workforce.

Half of the 1,000 women questioned for the commission’s survey reported some level of bias against them. Twenty percent of respondents believed they lost out financially due to discrimination, and 5 percent said they were put under pressure to leave when they announced their pregnancy.

Another survey reinforced the commission’s study. In an online poll of human resource professionals by Croner Consulting, more than four-fifths of respondents said that their colleagues who make hiring decisions automatically think twice before employing a woman of “childbearing age.”

The commission is asking the government to provide more support to both employees and employers, according to reports from BBC News. The survey results were released as part of a commission campaign to improve the rights of pregnant women in the workplace.

Corrie Pikul is a correspondent for Women’s eNews.