thumb pointing up

In a landmark decision, an international tribunal has found the U.S. government responsible for human rights violations against a Colorado woman and her three deceased children, who were murdered by their father, the ACLU said in an Aug. 17 press statement.

Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States is the first case brought by a domestic violence survivor against the U.S. before an international human rights body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The ruling also sets forth comprehensive recommendations for changes to U.S. law and policy pertaining to domestic violence.

The case concerns the 1999 incident in which police in Castle Rock, Colo., failed to respond to Jessica Lenahan’s repeated calls for help after her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, kidnapped their three young children in violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Ten hours after Lenahan’s first call to the police, her husband drove up to the Castle Rock Police Department and began firing his gun at the police station. The police returned fire, killing Gonzales. Inside the truck, the police found the bodies of the three girls who had been shot dead. Local authorities failed to conduct a proper investigation into the children’s deaths, resulting in questions about the cause, time and place of their deaths that remain to this day.

"I have waited 12 years for justice, knowing in my heart that police inaction led to the tragic and untimely deaths of my three young daughters," said Lenahan. "Today’s decision tells the world that the government violated my human rights by failing to protect me and my children from domestic violence."

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Around 1,000 women’s rights supporters rallied in Tunis on Aug. 13 to the mark the anniversary of a key equal rights bill amid fears that gender equality may suffer if political Islam rises in post-revolution Tunisia, reported AFP Aug. 14.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Aug. 18 ensuring that sexual assault victims are not responsible for the costs of forensic examinations, reported the Atlantic Highlands Herald.
  • The HBO documentary on feminist icon Gloria Steinem, "Gloria: In Her Own Words," premiered on Aug. 15. The film chronicles Steinem’s life as a journalist and later a prominent feminist and activist.
  • On Aug. 15 the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill opened the country’s first free-standing perinatal psychiatry unit to prevent postpartum depression in new mothers, reported  NPR Aug. 14.
  • Seoul, the South Korean capital, plans to introduce female-only subway cars in response to sexual assault complaints, reported AOL Travel Aug. 18.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to block a new Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from including abortion coverage in comprehensive health plans, reported The Wichita Eagle Aug. 17.


thumb pointing down

Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina sterilized more than 7,600 individuals in the name of "improving" the state’s human stock, the Associated Press reported Aug. 15. By the time the program was halted, the majority of those who underwent the surgery were young, black, poor women. One of them, Elaine Riddick, continues to seek reparation and justice.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Planned Parenthood is ending abortion services in three Arizona cities to comply with recent state laws that restrict abortions, the organization said Aug. 18. Starting Aug. 19, women will no longer be able to terminate pregnancies at the Planned Parenthood clinics in Prescott Valley, Flagstaff and Yuma, which had offered abortions through medication, reported The Los Angeles Times.
  • In an editorial The Washington Times claimed that a recent "Slutwalk" in Washington, D.C., led to the "assault" of tourists at the Washington Monument because of the speech and attire of Slutwalk participants, reported Media Matters for America Aug. 19.
  • A lawsuit filed against the Republic School District in Missouri alleges school officials failed to protect a middle school girl from a male classmate who harassed her, sexually assaulted her and raped her, reported The Springfield News-Leader Aug. 16.
  • A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission blamed the "outdated" long-hours culture in many companies for forcing women out of contention for senior management posts and prompting many to abandon the corporate world in the U.K. altogether, reported The Telegraph Aug. 17.


  • A federal judge has dismissed claims that Bloomberg L.P., the financial and media services giant founded by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, engaged in a pattern of discrimination against pregnant women who took maternity leaves, reported The New York Times Aug. 17.
  • A college degree is seen more and more by the public as a credential women need to make it big despite a soaring price tag, research published on Aug. 17 indicated, reported Reuters.
  • Christian von Boetticher, 40, the successful German state legislator at the top of the Christian Democratic Union’s ticket in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, resigned after he admitted to an affair with a 16-year-old girl on Aug. 14, reported The New York Times Aug. 17.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a notice of claim against a Jefferson County public charter school that fired a teacher for asserting her right to pump breast milk while at work, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, according to an Aug. 15 press statement.
  • Elizabeth Warren, the former Obama adviser and consumer protection advocate, launched an exploratory committee on Aug. 18 , the next step toward a possible Senate challenge to Scott Brown, R-Mass., reported The Huffington Post.
  • Figures from Sex and Power 2011, a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, revealed that while women are graduating from college in increasing numbers in Scotland and with better degree results than men, they’re not entering management ranks at the same rate, reported STV Aug. 16.

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at

Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story?