The number of police arrests for forcible touching, lewd behavior or sexual abuse in New York increased 131 percent during 2006, reported the Los Angeles Times Oct. 9. The New York City Police Department has stepped up its enforcement efforts and has coordinated undercover stings to catch gropers and flashers in the act.

“When you talk to women, you’d be amazed how many of them have had this happen to them,” said Assistant Chief James Hall. “To me, it’s a big quality-of-life issue.”

Last fall, Holla Back NYC, a Web site that exposes perpetrators, was launched. Women post camera phone pictures they take of men who harass them, accompanied by a written account of the incident.

In India, women are participating in night marches to rally for safer streets, Reuters reported Oct. 8. The marches are sponsored by Blank Noise, a group that organizes “night actions” and invites women to meet at a designated place at night and walk. The women are urged to wear “something they always wanted to but could not,” said the group’s Amrita Nandy Joshi. In defiance, they often wear spaghetti-strap tops and body-hugging outfits.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the case of Sandra Cano, a Georgia woman who sought to reverse the court’s 1973 decision that granted her the right to have an abortion, reported the Associated Press Oct. 10. Cano had been the anonymous plaintiff in Doe v. Bolton, the lesser-known case that accompanied the landmark Roe v. Wade. The Doe decision struck down a Georgia law that required a woman to receive the approval of three doctors to get an abortion. Cano later claimed that she had never wanted an abortion in the first place and that an aggressive attorney pushed her into the abortion case.
  • South Dakota’s voters will decide on Nov. 7 whether to uphold the state’s abortion ban, and a recent Zogby poll shows that opponents of the ban have a slight lead, the Christian Science Monitor reported Oct. 11. In the poll, 47 percent of respondents oppose the ban, which allows an exception only to save the life of the woman, while 44 percent support it. An Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll taken in late July showed 47 percent of voters opposed and 39 percent in favor, the Argus Leader, a Sioux Falls paper, reported Oct. 13.
  • The ExxonMobil Foundation, in Irving, Texas, has donated $1 million to the Chicago-based Society of Women Engineers, reported the Dallas Business Journal Oct. 13. The donation will support career guidance materials and outreach activities to help increase the number of women in engineering.

For more information:

“Women Strike Back Online Against Street Harassment”:

“Roe’s Sister Case Focused On Due Process”:

“Politkovskaya’s Duty Is to Cover Chechnya’s War”:

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The ouster of President Saddam Hussein does not appear to be improving the lives of Iraqi women, reported the British newspaper, the Observer on Oct. 8.

“We blame the militias,” says Aida Ussayaran, former deputy human rights minister and current member of the national assembly. “But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police. This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women’s lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped. And no one is mentioning it.”

Women receive death threats for working outside the home, even in government offices, and Iraqi women are slain for belonging to the wrong sect or for helping other women. They live in fear of speaking their opinions, and even live in fear of their husbands, in a post-war Iraq that has taken power from the family courts and given it to clerics, advocates told the Observer.

Iraq’s new constitution has increased the power of clerics and religious courts, creating what female activists now call a “human rights catastrophe for Iraqi women.” For example, in areas such as the Shia militia stronghold of Sadr City in east Baghdad, women have been beaten for not wearing socks. Some women have been threatened with death unless they wear the full abaya, the black, all-encompassing veil.

Members of groups such as the Iraqi Women’s Network told the paper that rape is being used as a weapon in the sectarian war to humiliate families from rival communities, and as a way of settling scores.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Nicaragua’s parliament is considering extending its abortion ban to include cases where the mother’s life is at risk, the BBC reported Oct. 13. Pro-choice groups fear that a complete ban of all abortions may become law in the near future. If it does, doctors could face a prison sentence up to 30 years for performing abortions to save a woman’s life.
  • An increasing number of Thai women are lured into marrying Japanese men in brokered arrangements only to end up as domestic slaves or prostitutes, reported the Bangkok Post Oct. 8. Traffickers prey on uneducated women from poverty-stricken areas. “The situation becomes worse because these women are forced to sign contracts in the Japanese language, which state they cannot leave the new families no matter what,” said one Tokyo social worker.
  • Three out of four characters in the most popular 101 G-rated movies between 1990 and 2004 were male, according to the See Jane program of Minnesota-based-Dads and Daughters. The group aims to increase the numbers of female characters and reduce gender stereotypes in media made for children 11 and under. Of 3,039 individual speaking characters examined in the films in a Sept. 21 report, 72 percent were male and 28 percent were female.


Gail Collins, the first female editorial page editor at the New York Times, is leaving her position after five years, the paper announced Oct. 13. Collins will take a leave of absence to write a book and will return to the paper as a columnist in July 2007. Andrew Rosenthal, currently deputy editor and son of the paper’s former executive editor, will replace Collins in the post.

In Memoriam:

Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken and fearless Russian journalist who was renowned for her coverage of the Chechen conflict, was murdered Oct. 7 in a contract-style killing in Moscow. Women’s eNews profiled Politkovskaya in January.

Politkovskaya was a special correspondent for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and documented Russian atrocities against Chechen civilians and the mass torture and killings of rebel prisoners. She was accustomed to death threats, was once poisoned, and once went into exile after she received a warning that a Russian officer might kill her in revenge for one of her reports.

The threats did not deter her from reporting, however.

“It’s a special Russian theory that if you can’t change the whole world, you need to do some little things to help specific people,” Politkovskaya told Women’s eNews. “Russian journalism was and now is the possibility to help people first of all in their everyday life and in their catastrophic life. I decided that it was a very nice theory for me.”

Irene Lew is the editorial intern at Women’s eNews.

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