prison rapeThe Obama administration ordered federal, state and local officials to adopt zero tolerance for prison rape as it issued mandatory screening, enforcement and prevention regulations designed to reduce the number of inmates who suffer sexual victimization by other prisoners and prison staff, reported the Associated Press May 17.

A Justice Department survey found that 39 percent of men who were gay and 34 percent of bisexual men reported being sexually victimized by another inmate, while only 3.5 percent of heterosexual men reported incidents. Lesbian and heterosexual women both reported being sexually victimized by other inmates at the same rates, around 13 percent. However, 8 percent of lesbian women reported being victimized by prison staff, twice the rate of heterosexual women.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Mothers will receive one-to-one care from a named midwife during labor and birth as part of the British government’s plans to combat postnatal depression, reported the Guardian May 16.
  • Israel’s high court put the onus on employers to pay men and women equally in a landmark ruling that may help narrow wage gaps, which are larger in Israel than in most Western countries, reported Reuters May 18.
  • Maya Angelou will unveil the Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness in her hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C., Huffington Post reported May 15.
  • An Oklahoma law restricting the use of certain abortion-inducing drugs has been ruled unconstitutional by a district court judge, who said it violates “the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity,” the Associated Press reported May 14.
  • Army leaders have begun to study the prospect of sending female soldiers to the service’s prestigious Ranger school — another step in the effort to broaden opportunities for women in the military, reported the Associated Press May 16. Starting May 14, the Pentagon opened more than 14,000 combat-related roles to women serving in the Army, KKTV reported.
  • Barack Obama continued his outreach to female voters with a commencement speech at Barnard College, urging women to strive for leadership positions and become more politically involved. Read More: Obama Presses His 2012 Courtship of Women
  • Medics and human rights organizations condemned the actions of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, in raising a convoy providing mobile female genital mutilation services and vaginal inspections, The HuffPost reported May 16.
  • A week after President Obama said he supported same-sex marriage, a U.S. Senate panel cleared a bill that would give the same benefits to same-sex partners that spouses of straight federal workers currently receive, reported Politico May 16.


cannesThis year’s Cannes Film Festival, which opened May 16, features no female directors among the 22 films chosen to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or award, reported the Associated Press May 16. Last year, four women were in the running, but in the entire 64-year history of the award only a single woman –Jane Campion — has won. Festival director Thierry Fremaux said he’s not to blame that filmmaking remains mostly “a male sport.”

Meanwhile, women were “dramatically under-represented” in the United States’ top 100 grossing films last year, accounting for 33 percent of all characters, according to a study, The Los Angeles Times reported May 15.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent an “official inquiry” to the Girl Scouts of the USA to investigate whether the organization has ties or views that conflict with Catholic teaching, NPR reported May 11.
  • The number of women in senior technology positions at U.S. companies is down for the second year in a row, according to a survey published May 14, Reuters reported.
  • Two sex workers, one of whom was pregnant, were allegedly beaten by police before their arrest in April in the city of Satara in Maharashtra, India, The New York Daily News reported May 15. Human Rights Watch called on the government to halt such gender-based violence.
  • Experts say that aggressive fertility treatments practiced at IVF clinics in Britain are putting women and babies at risk, The Telegraph reported May 14.
  • Intrauterine devices are rarely recommended by clinicians as emergency contraception, even though researchers concluded that they are the most effective and safest method, reported the New York Times May 15.
  • Catholic officials and groups were outraged following the decision of Jesuit-affiliated Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., to invite Health and Human Services’ Kathleen Sebelius to speak on commencement day, reported the New York Times May 16.
  • The hundreds of thousands of immigrant farmworker women and girls in the United States face a high risk of sexual violence and sexual harassment in their workplaces, Human Rights Watch said in a report released May 16.


  • A federal district court in New York is weighing whether to force the federal government to lift the age restrictions on over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives, reported Politico May 17.
  • Ina Drew, head of JPMorgan Chase’s chief investment office and one of the most prominent women on Wall Street, is retiring following the disclosure of a $2 billion trading loss, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported May 14.
  •’s political wing launched a new TV ad that criticizes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s stance on women’s issues, CNN reported May 14.
  • The National Shooting Sports Federation reports an annual increase of over 83 percent in the number of women purchasing guns for what they cite as self-defense, Al Jazeera English reported May 15. The National Rifle Association, the controversial U.S. gun lobby, has also seen an increase of up to 20 percent in female attendance at shooting clinics.
  • More women pay their former husbands alimony and child support than ever before, according to U.S. lawyers, Reuters reported May 15.
  • Researchers found that of nearly 1.3 million U.S. women who had blood work done during pregnancy, only 59 percent were tested for chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause pregnancy complications or be passed on to newborns, reported Reuters May 17.
  • Republican Deb Fischer, a Nebraska state senator, won an upset victory in the GOP primary for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, according to ABC News May 16.
  • The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that breastfeeding should be continued through infancy and beyond, contrary to what last week’s issue of Time Magazine suggested.

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