A federal Jury awarded $11.6 million to a former executive for the Knicks, Anucha Browne Sanders, who charged Knicks coach and former NBA star Isaiah Thomas with harassing and insulting her. She said Madison Square Garden–the corporate entity that owns the team–fired her after she spoke up.

Lawyers for Sanders also cited a sexual relationship between a player, Stephen Marbury, and a team intern, as evidence of the team’s boys’ club mentality and the hostile environment faced by Sanders, the Associated Press reported Oct. 2.

The jury of four women and three men could not reach a decision on whether Thomas himself should pay damages to Sanders; her settlement will be paid by the parent company’s CEO, James Dolan, and by Madison Square Garden. “What I did here, I did for every working woman in America,” Brown Sanders told reporters.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The Supreme Court on Oct. 1 refused to hear a challenge by Catholic Charities of a law requiring them to cover employees’ contraceptives. The law, the Women’s Health and Wellness Act, mandates that birth control be covered by all insurance plans offering prescription drug coverage. Catholic Charities is a network of Catholic charitable organizations, but because it is not a church and serves and hires people regardless of religious affiliation, it is required to comply with the act.
  • A new Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, Ill., was allowed to open its doors on Oct. 2. The clinic was due to open Sept. 18 but local anti-choice groups accused Planned Parenthood of fraud for applying for building permits under the name of a subsidiary, Gemini. A group of city and county attorneys reviewed the permit and said no fraud was committed.
  • Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected a Muslim businessman’s appeal for greater flexibility in the practice of polygamy, the BBC reported Oct. 3. Indonesian men can legally marry up to four wives with the approval of Islamic religious courts, but permission for second, third or fourth marriages hinges on the first wife’s approval in most circumstances. Mohammad Insa, who made the appeal, argued that this and other restrictions deter men from registering second marriages, which jeopardizes the inheritance rights of out-of-official-wedlock children. In its rejection the court said the limitations were intended to protect the basic rights of wives and prospective wives.
  • Turkish girls can now join boys in beating drums during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of feasting and fasting, Al Arabiya reported Oct. 2. The coastal city of Anatolia gave three girls permission to work as mesarahatis: dawn drummers responsible for waking people up in time for souhour, the last meal before daytime fasting begins.
  • Nigeria’s ex-finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will join the World Bank as a managing director, the New York Times reported. Okonjo-Iweala used her ministerial post to fight corruption in Nigeria. She resigned after President Olusegun Obasanjo reduced her mandate last year.


Nicaragua’s abortion ban, enacted November 2006 and upheld in September 2007, puts women’s health and lives at risk, according to an Oct. 2 Human Rights Watch report. The ban criminalizes abortions even in cases of rape, incest and health or life-threatening pregnancies. Since its implementation doctors who fear prosecution have denied or delayed women’s access to emergency obstetric care, including post-abortion care and therapeutic abortions that prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. “Doctors in Nicaragua are now afraid to provide even legal health services to pregnant women,” wrote Angela Heimburger, the Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Division.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Militants blew up a girls’ high school in the North Western Frontier of Pakistan on Sept. 30. No casualties were reported by the state-run press agency. The school and other educational institutions in the area had been warned they would face serious consequences if girls went to class unveiled. The Pakistan education department issued a circular making the wearing of burka mandatory for female students after the bombing.
  • A burka-clad suicide bomber struck a police checkpoint in Bannu, in northwest Pakistan, on Oct. 1. At least 15 people died in what appears to be the first documented female suicide bombing in Pakistan, the AP reported.
  • The Supreme Court let stand an Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys, meaning that within a few days, those selling vibrators in the state may be prosecuted. Sheri Williams, who brought the legal challenge on First Amendment grounds, told the AP Oct. 3, “They are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up.”
  • President Bush followed through with his threat to veto the State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program on Oct. 2, angering many women’s groups. The California Nurses Association-National Nurses Organization issued a statement saying parents without insurance can delay needed care for their children. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of the motherhood advocacy group Momsrising, urged mothers to join Moveon.org’s nationwide protests, held Oct. 3.
  • During this fall’s fashion weeks in New York and Milan runway models suffered from an alarming lack of diversity, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan wrote on Sept. 30 after the close of Milan fashion week. Designers, she wrote, didn’t hire women of color–or even, in some cases, brunettes–because they did not want to distract from the clothes.
  • Women are protesting a series of T-shirts at Wal-Mart that say “Some Call it Stalking; I Call it Love,” for trivializing that form of sexual harassment, the Charlotte Observer reported last week.
  • An Iranian woman, wife and mother of three, was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery, a Persian daily reported Sept. 27. The man implicated in the case was sentenced to 100 lashes.

In Memoriam:

Lorraine Rothman, a leading activist for women’s reproductive rights, died of cancer Sept. 25, at age 75. Rothman, in partnership with Carol Downer, pioneered the feminist self-help clinic movement in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Self-help clinics taught women how to conduct basic gynecological procedures such as cervical self-examinations and pregnancy tests. Rothman also helped popularize safe home abortion with a procedure known as menstrual extraction before the 1973 Roe v. Wade court ruling established women’s legal right to abortion.

Sarah Seltzer is a New York-based freelance writer and the editorial intern at Women’s eNews. Dominique Soguel is the Arabic editor for Women’s eNews.

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