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Tunisian women joined the massive protests that brought down Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, reported NPR Jan 27. These women have stronger legal rights than many counterparts in other Muslim countries. For example, Tunisian women have the same rights to divorce as men do and have had access to birth control since 1962 and abortions since 1965, eight years before the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the United States.

Many women of these women, however, are now questioning whether their rights can withstand the return of the long-banned Islamist movement Ennahdha, which prepares to re-enter the political scene, The Australian reported Jan. 24. The 23-year rule of Ben Ali was somewhat repressive, but observers say laws put in place by his regime had improved conditions for women. His widely loathed wife, Leila, was a prominent campaigner on women’s rights.

Dorra Bouzid, a well-known Tunisian journalist and feminist, said women had to be prepared to fight to keep the rights they had won. "We have to be careful and multiply our efforts to protect women," she said in The Australian article.

Ben Ali lost power in January in the wake of protests over unemployment, freedom of speech and poor living conditions.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • About 100 mothers in Montreal staged a "nurse-in" protest at a downtown shopping complex last week, where one of the stores had ejected a mother for breastfeeding earlier in the month. They breastfed as a group before a curious crowd of reporters, mall security guards and passers-by, reported AOL News Jan. 27.
  • To ensure that more low- and moderate-income families take advantage of federal and state income tax credits, the National Women’s Law Center, in partnership with organizations around the country, announced Jan. 27 the launch of a Tax Credits Outreach Campaign.
  • Sen. George Barker introduced a bill Jan. 26 in the Virginia General Assembly that would make it easier for individuals in dating relationships to obtain protective orders, reported Ms. Magazine.
  • The Asian Development Bank approved a $500,000 technical assistance grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which will support Bangladesh’s Local Government Engineering Department to further advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in rural infrastructure initiatives, reported the Financial Jan. 26.
  • More women are using birth control, and education may be a prime factor for the rise in usage, shows a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, The New York Times reported Jan. 24.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed housing regulations that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination, reported Ms. Magazine Jan. 24.




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Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was found dead in his home Jan. 26, reported Voice of America News. Kato died from a blow to the head; police say his murder is most likely the result of a robbery because items in his home were missing. Rights groups and fellow activists, however, believe that homophobia had a part in Kato’s murder. Amnesty International’s Uganda researcher Godfrey Odongo called for police to conduct thorough investigations immediately.

Following Kato’s murder, a Ugandan woman facing deportation in the U.K. said she fears for her life, reported the Guardian Jan. 27. Brenda Namigadde left Uganda eight years after she was persecuted for having relations with a woman. She says she had planned to return home when things got better, but now they are worse. Ugandan MP David Bahati, who proposed a bill to enact the death penalty on homosexuals, has warned Namigadde to repent or be arrested upon her return.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A Brazilian man was arrested on suspicion of keeping his wife locked in a squalid basement for 16 years while he lived with another woman in the same house, reported Reuters Jan. 28.
  • In South Africa, lesbians are often targeted for rape and violence in a phenomenon some perpetrators call "corrective rape"–a belief that a lesbian’s sexual orientation can be changed through rape and violence–Voice of America News reported Jan. 24.
  • Margot Wallstrom, special U.N. representative on sexual violence in conflict, has condemned sexual violence in the Ivory Coast as the White House met with leaders urging the nation’s incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, to give up power, CNN reported Jan. 27.
  • Thirty-seven percent of surveyed Alaskan women had been victims of sexual violence, and 4.3 percent within the last year, according to a study presented to Alaska’s legislature,Reuters News Agency reported Jan. 25
  • Women with saline or silicone gel-filled breast implants may be at risk for anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes and skin, the Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 26, the Clinical Advisor reported.
  • Kenya was scrutinized at the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s conference, held in Geneva, for violating women’s housing, land and property rights, according to a report published Jan. 27 by The Standard, based in Nairobi.
  • An anti-choice demonstration held in San Francisco annually on the Roe v. Wade anniversary brought 5,000 people this year, while pro-choice counter protestors dwindled to 100, reported SocialistWorker.org Jan. 26. Tens of thousands of anti-choice advocates also joined the March for Life Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C., reported Ms. Magazine.
  • Police have identified the bodies of four women murdered and dumped in Long Island, N.Y., The Long Island Press reported Jan. 24. All the victims advertised as escorts on the Internet, several on the Web site Craigslist, fitting the possible pattern of a serial killer.
  • England’s Devon County Council has said it plans to cut the entire $1,581,466 it currently gives to charities, including the county’s domestic violence and abuse network, putting them at serious risk of closure, The Guardian reported Jan. 25.


  • The United States women’s national team defeated China, 2-0, on Jan. 25 at the Yongchuan Sports Centre Stadium in Central China to win the Four Nations Tournament, The Miami Herald reported Jan. 25.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department has announced significant progress in the Grim Sleeper case, investigating two new potential victims and identifying 72 of the more than 180 women whose photos were found in the possession of serial killer suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr., The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 27.
  • Fifteen out of 1,000 studied women had a first-time psychiatric episode after their first-trimester-induced abortions, a study in Denmark found. Researchers followed the women for up to a year and concluded that women who undergo an abortion don’t seem to face a greatly increased risk of mental health problems after having the procedure, Businessweek reported Jan. 26.
  • U.N. Women, the superagency formed by the General Assembly last July, will be tackling a wide spectrum of issues, the U.N. announced Jan. 24. The agency is hoping to work towards its planned $500 million base budget by 2013, but doesn’t have that now.
  • English soccer talking heads Richard Keys, Andy Burton and Andy Grey faced disciplinary action by the Sky network following what many are calling sexist comments made during a broadcast of a soccer game in England, The Guardian reported Jan. 24.
  • Thirty-five protesters blocked the entrance of New Scotland Yard in London Jan. 24, demonstrating against undercover police officers having sex with members of groups they infiltrate, reported the Guardian.
  • Ann Pettway, charged with kidnapping a girl 23 years ago, turned herself into police in Bridgeport, Conn. Jan. 23, reported ABC News.

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