A widespread outcry spurred the firing of radio host Don Imus after he slurred members of a women’s college athletetic team on his “Imus in the Morning” radio show and simulcast.

CBS and MSNBC pulled Imus from the schedule after he referred to female Rutgers basketball players as “nappy-headed hos.” The comments caused a wave of advertisers to withdraw support and angry letters demanding stronger action than the initial two-week-long suspension Imus received.

CBS chief Leslie Moonves, in a memo announcing the firing, said Imus flourished in a culture that permits demeaning speech. “In taking him off the air, I believe we take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our company.”

The National Congress of Black Women and other prominent African American advocacy organizations held a press conference in Washington, D.C., April 13 to discuss the denigration of women in media and entertainment.

“That these ad hominem attacks occur repeatedly–from the mouths of Imus, rappers, some entertainers and other racists and sexists–can be attributed to the low esteem in which women and blacks too often are held,” Yvonne Scruggs, executive director of Sojourner Truth Center for Interactive Justice, wrote in a an e-mail to Women’s eNews.

Imus received word of his firing shortly before he met with the Rutgers basketball players April 12 for several hours.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • More states are turning down sex education funding that focuses on abstinence without permitting funds to teach condom or contraceptive use, the Los Angles Times reported April 8. Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana, New Jersey and California all refuse to participate in the controversial State Abstinence Education Program, under the Department of Health and Human Services umbrella. Abstinence-only groups say shunning the funding will hurt nonprofit sex education groups and inhibit progress against teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Maryland is the first state to pass a living wage law that would require companies with state service contracts to pay workers a set pay, the Baltimore Sun reported April 10. The bill sets up minimum pay of $11.30 per hour in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and $8.50 in more rural areas. The state assembly passed the bill April 9, with votes of 31-16 in the Senate and 91-49 in the House. Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill includes two exceptions: state construction projects and employers with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Uganda’s Constitutional Court nullified a discriminatory law that allowed married men to have affairs with unmarried women, Reuters reported April 5, but prohibited married women from having an affair with unmarried men. The ruling also abolished a law that gave men more rights than women after a partner’s death.
  • Brazil’s minister of health wants to open a national abortion discussion, calling for a debate on the issue as a public health topic. Under Brazilian law, abortions are only legal if the woman’s health is at risk or in the case of rape. Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said 200,000 women are treated for abortion complications each year, according to an April 9 BBC article. The remarks likely will prompt a strong response from the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil; the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Eusebio Scheid, interrupted a play April 6 to tell the audience that the massacre of innocents could not be allowed.

For more information:

“Some States Abstain From Abstinence-Only Funding”:

“Livable Wage Movement Finds Momentum in States”:

“New York’s Rape Statute Challenged as ‘Archaic'”:

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About 70 percent of rape victims do not receive specialized care in New York City emergency rooms, according to research released April 12 by the advocacy group New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

The care a rape victim receives depends on whether the hospital’s emergency room has a sexual assault response team or a sexual assault forensic examiner program. Known as SAFE programs, these procedures ensure that victims have access to vital resources, including specialized equipment for forensic evidence collection, specially trained nurse practitioners, and physicians and victims’ advocates.

“I suspect more people in my situation would have a very difficult time explaining (what they need) without a victim’s advocate,” said Cheryl Wheeler, a rape survivor during a press conference announcing the research findings. She said she was taken to the emergency room wearing only a coat, which was taken away as evidence, had to repeatedly ask for something to cover herself, was questioned and photographed by male detectives and accompanied by men in the ambulance and cab ride home.

Debi Fry, the alliance’s research director, said the group’s goal is to ensure victims the option of transport to a hospital with SAFE services and to expand those services to five more hospitals, adding to the 17 that currently exist in New York City.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • An appointee of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz ordered reproductive health references to be deleted from an anti-poverty proposal for Madagascar, the Financial Times reported April 12. An internal document obtained by the newspaper indicated that Juan Jose Daboub, a conservative politician from El Salvador, instructed staff to delete references to family planning, even though the Madagascar government requested assistance in that area. Wolfowitz said the revelation did not indicate a change in World Bank policy on reproductive health issues. The news came as the 10,000-member Bank Staff Association called for the resignation of Wolfowitz for helping to secure a raise and promotion for a woman with whom he was romantically involved.
  • One in 3 women are undertreated for ovarian cancer, according to research published by the University of Washington April 9. Reuters reported that women over the age of 70, African Americans, Hispanics and Medicaid patients often do not receive the comprehensive recommended treatments including aggressive surgery or chemotherapy.
  • Female civil servants in India must now provide information about their menstrual cycles on employee forms. New nationwide requirements on forms from the federal Ministry for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions also require women to give the date of their last maternity leave. Government officials say the questions were recommended by health officials.


More women than men will use the Internet this year, Reuters reported April 12. About 97 million women will log on, edging out the 91 million male users. Reuters reports that men who watch videos online surpass women, however, with 78 percent of men compared to 66 percent of women.

Alison Bowen is a New York-based reporter with Women’s eNews.

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