Democratic leaders plan to let $50 million drop from the Title V federal funding stream earmarked for abstinence-only education programs after a recent study released to Congress reported the programs did not dissuade teens from having sex. Congressional Quarterly reported May 15 that lawmakers, who say they would rather see funding focused toward comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence, will not reauthorize the funding when it expires on June 30.

“Abstinence-only seems to be a colossal failure,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which controls the earmark, adding that the deficit and the war were also factors.

Abstinence supporters said the move would only embolden their efforts to maintain abstinence-only education.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • New Hampshire has skirted controversy with its distribution of free HPV vaccines, United Press International reported May 12. Although other states initiating mandatory vaccine measures have encountered controversy, New Hampshire has dispensed more than 14,000 doses on a voluntary basis to girls ages 11 to 18 without significant opposition. The state has spent $4.9 million on the vaccine, Gardasil, so far, the New York Times reported May 12.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has appointed seven women to his 15-member cabinet, Agence France Press reported May 18. Women will oversee the ministries of the interior; justice; agriculture; higher education; culture; health, youth and sports; and social cohesion.
  • Two women from different walks of life jumpstarted a fund for women in southeastern Ohio, reported the Zanesville Times Recorder May 12. Annie Warmke, from Ohio’s Appalachia, and Yvette Livers, from northern Kentucky, joined 20 other women to form the Southeastern Ohio Women and Girls’ Funding Network. The organization will raise funds and provide grants to nonprofits or individuals who are working to serve women, specifically in impoverished Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties. Women living in poverty make up nearly one-fourth of the population in southeastern Ohio.
  • At the 60th World Health Assembly in Geneva Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, head of the United Nations Population Fund, called for increased investment in health systems. She cited 10 million women who died and 300 million who have suffered long-term disabilities in the last two decades from mostly preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications. WHO chief Margaret Chan also called for a “health legacy” for women, saying they need special attention as caregivers with a reproductive role.
  • The Jordanian chapter of the International Women’s Forum gathered 500 female scholars and business leaders from around the world in order to bridge the gap between Middle Eastern and Western societies, the Jordan Times reported May 14. During an event held in Amman, participants clarified and exposed myths and pre-conceived ideas on complex issues pertaining to democracy, educational systems and the role of women.

For more information:

“Some States Abstain From Abstinence-Only Funding”:

Plan International, “Because I Am a Girl”:

“Hereditary Toxins Spur Scientific Concerns”:

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Nearly 100 million girls die each year because males are valued more in their counties, according to a report released by the Because I Am a Girl campaign. The campaign, sponsored by the British child development agency Plan International, says female feticide is on the rise and gender discrimination is still “deeply entrenched” across the world, the Independent reported May 15.

Two million girls undergo genital mutilation each year, half a million women die during pregnancy, and about 7.3 million girls and women have HIV-AIDS. A million girls are victims of human trafficking. The campaign highlights discrimination and will follow 125 girls born in 2006 until 2015.

“The study shows that our failure to make an equal, more just world has resulted in the most intolerable of situations,” said Graca Machel, a children’s rights campaigner from Mozambique.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A Muttontown, N.Y., couple was charged with kidnapping and enslaving two Indonesian women for up to five years, Newsday reported May 17. Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and her husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani were charged with enslaving the women, whom they hired as housekeepers. They also are accused of torturing and threatening them. The two women were discovered when one escaped the house and was found by police officers wearing only pants and a towel. They later found the other woman, Nona, hiding inside the home.
  • The European Union lags behind the Americas for the portion of women who hold top jobs in legislative and business management positions, Belgian news site EUobserver.com reported May 14. A report by the International Labor Organization found that North American women hold 41 percent of senior positions overall, Latin American women hold 35 percent and European women 30 percent. South Asia’s female representation increased the most, doubling from 1995 to 2004, but women still hold only 8.6 percent of top jobs.
  • The number of U.S. women age 40 and older who have mammograms fell 4 percent between 2000 and 2005, the Washington Post reported May 14. In 2000, 70 percent of over-40 women had had a mammogram. Reasons for the decline are unclear, but researchers cited factors such as increasingly long wait times for appointments, fears about breast cancer, the drop in hormone use after menopause and public debate over the benefits and risks of mammograms.
  • The suicide rate for women in China is 25 percent higher than for men, the Washington Post reported May 15. The rate is three times higher in rural areas, where consuming pesticides is a common method, than in cities. Suicide is increasing among young, married women. A study indicated that women who committed suicide had an average of five years of school and lived in households with monthly incomes of $13. Thirty-eight percent experienced domestic violence.
  • University of Toronto researchers found that women who show what many consider to be traditional male traits such as insolence, independence and ambition are more likely to be targets of sexual harassment than “feminine” women, the Sydney Morning Herald reported May 14. The study supported the presumption that sexual harassment was provoked by a desire to punish “gender-role deviants” rather than by sexual need.
  • About 216 chemicals, some found in urban air and everyday consumer products, cause breast cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported May 14. Of the chemicals identified in an American Cancer Society study, 29 are produced in quantities over 1 million pounds annually, 35 are common air pollutants, 25 are found in workplaces where more than 5,000 women are employed and 10 are in food additives.
  • A “nude” car wash named Bubbles’n’Babes that offers X-rated lap dance sideshows and topless women to clean the cars has opened in Brisbane, Australia, Reuters reported May 18. Officials said they were powerless to prevent the car wash from opening, although it is required to use recycled water in order to meet water conservation rules.

Alison Bowen is a New York-based reporter with Women’s eNews and Nouhad Moawad is managing editor of Arabic Women’s eNews.

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