Sports Women Make Gains; Sexy Media Harms Girls

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After years of pressure, the Wimbledon tennis championship agreed this week to pay female players as much as it pays men, the Washington Post reported Feb. 22. The organization said it will match other Grand Slam events and pay equally for each round at this year’s tournament, held every June and July in London. The purse will be announced in April.

“Tennis is one of the few sports in which women and men compete in the same event at the same time,” Wimbledon club chair Tim Phillips said. “We believe our decision to offer prize money provides a boost for the game as a whole and recognizes the enormous contribution that women players make to the game and to Wimbledon.”

Female ski jumpers in Canada are pressing ahead with efforts to be included in the Winter Olympics by filing a human rights complaint against the Canadian government, CBC Sports reported Feb. 5. On Nov. 29, the International Olympic Committee excluded women’s ski jumping from the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

Brent Morrice, chair of Ski Jumping Canada, vowed to back the Canadian team. “Truly these girls are ready to compete, and it is the right thing to do,” Morrice told the CBC.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Frances Allen became the first woman to win the A.M. Turing Award, the “Nobel of computing,” on Feb. 20 for research that led to advances in high-speed computing. Allen’s work for IBM helped develop computer models now used for genetic matching, weather prediction and global warming research. She told Information Week that, of all her work, she was proudest of aiding simulated nuclear bomb tests “rather than exploding” the real thing. With the $100,000 prize money, Allen, 74, will establish a fund for girls’ education.
  • A South Dakota Senate committee rejected a new bill to ban abortion with an 8-1 vote, Fox News reported Feb. 22. The bill was approved by the state House last week and included exceptions to the ban for rape, incest and health, which were expected to make the ban more palatable to state voters. Supporters of the abortion ban now in limbo had expected to use a new law to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to review its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
  • India’s government will set up orphanages for female infants to curb feticide and sex-selected abortions, the Hindustan Times reported Feb. 18. According to UNICEF, 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born daily in India, and about 10 million fewer girls were born in the past 20 years. Minister of Women Renuka Chowdhury said the government is treating the disparate sex ratio as a matter of national urgency.
  • Following the successful development of an effective HPV vaccine, scientists from the University of Texas-San Antonio are researching a cure for chlamydia, San Antonio Express News reported Feb. 20. After years of trial and error the team found a promising solution in mice, attaining 100 percent protection against chlamydia.

For more information:

“Missing Daughters on an Indian Mother’s Mind”

“Teens Call Hyper-Sexualized Media Images ‘Normal'”

American Psychological Association report

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Sexualized images of girls in advertisements and other media harm girls emotionally and physically, a Feb. 19 study by the Washington-based American Psychological Association says.

The report analyzed 300 studies over an 18-month period and found that suggestive images of girls and young women in television, music videos, song lyrics, magazines, film, video games and the Internet may cause them to develop negative self-images and views of their bodies, USA Today reported Feb. 19. Research data also found a correlation between sexualized media images and three of the most common mental health problems in girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.

The report cited the popular Bratz dolls as an example of a product aimed at children 4 to 8 years old that is “associated with an objectified adult sexuality.”

“Verbal harassment and social exclusion are other fall-out effects of this as well,” said Taneika Taylor, director of GenderPAC’S Children As They Are, a parent support network located in Washington, D.C. “This report is a wake-up call to parents who have been distressed by images of scantily-clad girls preoccupied with appearance and using sex to vie for young boys’ attention.”

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Two Iraqi women alleging they were raped by Iraqi forces emerged this week, sparking a political storm. A 20-year-old woman in Baghdad said in a television interview that she was raped by Iraqi police officers during a raid in her neighborhood, the Baltimore Sun reported Feb. 23. A second woman, who is Sunni, accused Shiite soldiers of entering her house in northern Iraq, interrogating her and raping her repeatedly. The allegations preceded a 100-year sentence handed down to a U.S. soldier for raping a 14-year-old then murdering her and her family last year, CBS News reported Feb. 22. The presiding military judge issued the maximum penalty to Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24.
  • A gunman killed Zilla Huma Usman, a provincial minister for social welfare in Pakistan, GulfNews reported Feb. 21. She was about to address dozens of people when she was shot in the head by Ghulam Sarwar Mughal, who was then immediately arrested and said he believes that women should not be involved in politics or government.
  • Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Soliman received a four-year prison sentence for expressing his views on the Internet, the BBC reported Feb. 22. The 22-year-old student condemned religious extremism and the government’s failure to protect the rights of religious minorities and women. Rallies were organized outside Egyptian embassies in Washington, Rome, London, Paris, Stockholm and New York on Soliman’s behalf.
  • Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., said he disapproves of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion while campaigning for the presidency in Spartanburg, S.C. McCain said that if he is elected president he will appoint judges who “strictly interpret the constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench,” the Associated Press reported Feb. 18.
  • U.S. bioethicists are worrying that increased demand for egg donations and higher compensation for the eggs will soon “drive an unregulated market for human tissue,” the AP reported Feb. 18. Ten thousand women donated eggs to federally monitored programs in 2004, up from 3,800 women in 1996. Compensation is capped at $5,000, with the rate doubled for special circumstances, such as requests for eggs of rare ancestry, but brokers sometimes pay more. “We worry that we offer people so much money that they are blind to the risk and their motivation is strictly the money,” said Jeffrey Khan, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics.

Toyin Adeyemi is an independent journalist based in New York City. Nouhad Moawad oversees Women’s eNews’ Arabic site.

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