The Church of England published draft regulations to allow women to be consecrated as bishops, Agence France-Presse reported Dec. 30. Bishops pushed through the proposal despite a looming schism between church factions and threats from 1,300 clergy members to resign if women become bishops. Women have been ordained as priests since 1994.
Under the proposal, a male "complimentary bishop" would be assigned to a female bishop’s jurisdiction and would serve any parishes that object to her in the compromise proposal struck by church leaders. The proposal will be reviewed at a February synod gathering.
Celia Thomson, a canon in the church, told the Times of London she believes the agreement should create equal authority for any female bishops in the future, and that the church needed to "truly reflect" the role of both sexes.
"There are so many parishes that would just not have a priest if it was not for the women serving the church. Those who have experienced the ministry of women priests cannot really understand why it is all taking so long," Thomson said.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the first woman to serve as prime minister of Bangladesh, regained her old job when her Awami League won a decisive victory in Dec. 29 elections, Reuters reported.
Hasina campaigned on a party platform of secularism and reform and said tackling poverty would be the highest priority of her government. She had been detained by the former government on corruption charges and went into a self-imposed exile before returning in November to run for office.
- Women’s voting and participation in elections that concluded Dec. 24, increased in the provincial polling for Indian-administered Kashmir the Inter Press Service reported. In neighboring Pakistan’s elections earlier this year, female voters faced intimidation in some rural areas. Women’s rights advocates worried that Kashmir women might be afraid to vote in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. But 60 percent of women turned out for the Kashmir polling–a higher turnout than men’s–and a record 67 women ran for provincial office among the 1,354 candidates. Final results are expected on Jan. 4.
- Eva Habil, the new mayor of Komboha, Egypt, is the first woman in the country to lead a city, the Daily News of Egypt reported Dec. 14. Habil’s father was once mayor of the town of 10,000 people, and the post is traditionally handed down through the generations. "I am the first woman mayor, but believe me there will be others," Habil said.
- Since an Egyptian court convicted a man for sexual harassment after he groped a woman on a Cairo street last fall, women are slowly beginning to speak out against harassment, the Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 28. In the two weeks after the court verdict, another four women have filed complaints, according to Nihad Abouel Qomsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, when previously no complaints would be filed over the course of a year. A survey from the center last year found that 87 percent of Egyptian women were harassed but 97 percent did not report it.
- The Pakistani government plans to create an "ombudsman for women" to help them negotiate hurdles to access the justice system, the Pakistan News reported Dec. 24. The ombudsman would also handle criminal cases that involve women as well as matters of family law, such as divorce or inheritance.
- A group of 20 women in Naples, Italy, were planning to stage a "sex strike" to prevent men from launching dangerous fireworks to celebrate the New Year, the Times of London reported Dec. 31. By withholding sex, the women believe they will prevent injuries and even deaths from fireworks. Their slogan: "Make love, not explosions."
A task force created to address alleged widespread problems in the California family courts system is taking flak from the same groups who have been calling for reforms, reported the Capitol Weekly, a newspaper that covers the state’s government and politics.
Such criticism was widely expected when the Elkins Family Law Task Force was created last May. Women’s and father’s rights groups have been fighting a highly-politicized battle for years over problems in the courts that decide divorce and child custody proceedings.
Advocates on both sides agree that the process has been too closed, that there have been problems with a series of focus groups and that the task force includes far too many insiders: 16 judges, 12 attorneys, 10 staff members of various family courts with no advocates or family court litigants.
“When you ask that same entity to investigate itself, and then you put on the panel judges who have historically protected the institution and themselves over the public good, how much substantive change is really going to occur?” said Patty Bellasalma, president of the California National Organization for Women.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Social-networking site Facebook has begun removing photos of mothers breastfeeding their babies from the pages of its members, saying that such photos violate its indecency policy, the Chicago Tribune reported Dec. 31. Facebook says photos of breastfeeding must not expose a woman’s areola, the part of the breast that surrounds the nipple.
In response to Facebook’s decision to remove "obscene" photos, 11,500 people posted shots of nursing mothers on their Web pages last Saturday and a group of mothers picketed corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. Over 85,000 people have also joined a Facebook group called "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"
"We challenge the notion that women’s breasts are dangerous or sexual, especially in the context of breastfeeding," said Stephanie Muir, organizer of the "virtual nurse-in."
- About one-third of the estimated 10,000 forced laborers in the United States are domestic servants working in suburban homes, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, the Associated Press reported Dec. 28. Many work for wealthy families who have immigrated and are accustomed to using girls as laborers and maids. Once in the United States the domestic workers are often confined at home and do not attend school, hiding their presence from immigration officials.
- A Saudi judge refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man, sparking outrage from women’s rights activists, CNN reported Dec. 26. The judge said the girl must wait "until puberty" before she is allowed the right to petition for a divorce. The girl’s father gave her to the man as a bride in order to settle bad debts. The judge extracted a promise from the husband that he would not consummate the marriage until the girl has reached puberty.
Jennifer Thurston is managing editor of Women’s eNews.
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