A federal judge in New York has ordered the city to reform its welfare system after finding that it illegally prevents aid and food stamps from reaching battered immigrant women and their children, the New York Times reported Aug. 30. Welfare department workers operate from error-ridden systems; because they lack a category for ‘battered qualified aliens,’ the system automatically denies them assistance they are legally entitled to. In addition, agency training manuals do not address the situation.

Last year, 13 battered or disabled immigrant women and their immigrant children, sued the city after being denied aid. While the case continues, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered the city to stop its practice. More than 1,000 battered immigrant women are denied aid every year, said an attorney for the plaintiffs, Elizabeth Saylor.

Under state law, all battered immigrants are eligible for public aid. Federal law permits them to be eligible for food stamps in most cases, while other assistance programs are limited.

More News to Cheer This Week:


  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine Sept. 1, displacing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the list that ranks 100 women annually. Merkel was selected for her diplomatic achievements and free-market-friendly economic policies; she was elected Germany’s first female leader last year. Rice moved down to second place. China’s vice premier, Wu Yi, was third in a list otherwise dominated by business executives.


  • The leading supplier of birth-control pills in the United States–Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical, based in Raritan, N.J.–has slashed the price of birth control pills for West Virginia family planning clinics, the Charleston Gazette reported Aug. 30. A 30-day supply of birth control will be sold for $3.20, a drop of 90 percent. The change came after the state’s governor asked the company to reassess recent price increases to meet the needs of lower-income women, and the West Virginia Family Planning Clinic switched to generic pills to supply patients.


  • Ingrid Mattson is the first female to lead The Islamic Society, the largest and oldest Muslim organization with 20,000 members in North America based in Plainfield, Ind., reported United Press International Aug. 30. Mattson has urged women to become more involved in leading the Muslim community and teaches at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. "I want to make sure women are fully engaged. They should sit on boards and in mosque spaces equal to men so they can participate in discussions," she said.


  • The American Civil Liberties Union settled a 2004 sexual harassment and wage violation suit filed in federal district court on behalf of four female employees of the Broadway Plaza Hotel in New York, the legal organization announced Aug. 29. The Latina employees were $5.25 an hour housekeepers at the hotel and alleged sexual harassment and mistreatment by the hotel manager. The hotel did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.


  • The British Fertility Society, an organization of fertility professionals, recommended to the National Health Service that lesbians and single women receive the same fertility treatment as heterosexual couples, The Independent reported Aug. 30. The recommendations are a response to a National Health Service survey across England that showed inequalities and discriminations in fertility treatment. Other suggestions by the society would require obese women to lose weight before they are considered for treatment.


Broadcast journalist Katie Couric’s already small frame appeared to have shed 20 pounds for a CBS network promotional photo after the image was altered, Reuters reported Aug. 30. Couric, who will take over the CBS Evening News anchor slot on Sept. 5, received a slimmer waist, darker clothing, and thinner arms and face in the photo for CBS magazine Watch! CBS circulated a copy of the original photo during an earlier campaign to promote Couric’s new post.

The discovery of the doctored photo was made by TV Newser, a blog on the popular Media Bistro Web site, and other blogs quickly picked up the item. Feministing.com called it the "grossest Photoshopped diet ever."

More News to Jeer This Week:


  • An HIV-positive woman in eastern India was forced to conduct her own abortion after hospital doctors refused to treat her, the Australian newspaper reported Sept. 1. The 23-year-old woman, six months pregnant, was told to get an abortion after doctors learned of her HIV status. Staff at Kolkata Medical College then left abortion-inducing pills by her bedside. After she began to bleed from complications, doctors refused to treat and she was told to leave the hospital. She survived and the case is now being investigated.


  • Only 7 of 37 law clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court are women, the lowest number in 12 years, the New York Times reported Aug. 30. Women make up almost 50 percent of new law school graduates. In the past, at least a third of these clerks were women. While some justices attributed the low number of female clerks to random selection, others point to fewer women at the federal appellate level, who refer new lawyers to clerkships.


  • A leading figure in the Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate a medical team that performed Colombia’s first legal abortion on an 11-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather, the Guardian reported Aug. 31. Last May, The nation’s high court liberalized Colombia’s prohibition against all abortions by allowing exceptions in cases of rape, incest, to save the woman’s life or severe fetal disfigurement. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo later denied he made threats and said that only the archbishop of Bogota, not the Vatican, can excommunicate people.


  • The Saudi Arabian religious authorities have presented a plan to remove the women’s worship section in the Ka’bah, the holy place in Mecca, reported Reuters Aug. 28. This would place women far from the Grand Mosque, currently one of the few places where male and female Muslims can pray together in the same complex. Religious clerics claimed the new plan will ensure a better place for women to pray far from crowds.

Malena Amusa, from St. Louis, is an editorial intern at Women’s eNews. Nouhad Moawad is the Arabic site intern at Women’s eNews.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].

For more information:

Forbes, The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women:

"5 Latina Hotel Maids Sue Hotel for Sex Bias":

TV Newser, "Katie’s Extreme Makeover?":