Women of the Wall
Women of the Wall have been pushing to wear prayer shawls and read from the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.


Credit: meghamama on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).



The Jerusalem District Court ruled April 25 that women praying at the Western Wall with prayer shawls and tefillin does not constitute a violation of “local custom” or a provocation, and therefore, no justification exists for detaining and interrogating women who engage in these practices, reported . The ruling is a major victory for the Women of the Wall organization in its ongoing battle with police and the Orthodox authorities in charge of prayer rules at the holy site. The district court also ruled that contrary to police interpretations of a previous Supreme Court ruling, no prohibition prevents women from holding their own prayer services at the Western Wall nor do the rules require that women congregate instead at the nearby Robinson’s Arch.

More News to Cheer This Week:

Washington state just completed a six-year effort to rewrite its laws using gender neutral language. Terms like fisherman and freshman were replaced by “fisher” and “first year student,” reported . “Penmanship” became “handwriting.”

A settlement was arrived at on April 26 in the Title IX class action lawsuit against Connecticut‘s Quinnipiac University. Under the agreement, Quinnipiac committed to retain all of its women’s teams (including volleyball, which it had previously dropped and attempted to replace with competitive cheerleading), provide more scholarships to female athletes and improve the overall benefits provided to its women’s teams, The National Women’s Law Center said in a statement April 26.

An off-duty U.S. navy sailor wrestled a Dubai bus driver to the ground and beat him into submission after he tried to rape her at knifepoint on Jan. 19, a courtroom heard April 24. The man, known as K S, has been charged with attempted rape, threatening to kill, assault and consuming alcohol illegally, reported .

Lebanon’s interior minister took the unprecedented step April 25 of registering a civil marriage contract after a years-long campaign to allow such unions in the religiously diverse nation, reported.

On April 23 all 20 female senators — 16 Democrats and four Republicans — showed up for dinner and legislative talk with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss a wide range of issues from the economy to immigration, reported . The discussion also included how women can play a major role in bringing people together on a budget deal and bring the debt down.

Nobel Peace laureates are calling on past and present Guatemalan authorities to “respect a legitimate, independent and transparent judicial process” and move forward in the trial of former President General Efraín Ríos Montt, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity (including rape), The Nobel Women’s Initiative said in a April 24.

French lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage April 23, despite vocal protests from some conservatives opposed to the step, reported.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has agreed to drop a request for documents about the government’s requirement of insurance coverage for birth control, a court filing April 22 said, reported .

Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii has signed a new law requiring all hospital emergency rooms in Hawaii to offer emergency contraception to female victims of sexual assault, the reported .

A California lawmaker, bucking a trend in other states to restrict abortion, has proposed to broaden access by permitting nurse-midwives and others to perform procedures now done only by doctors, reported .

The Dalai Lama said he would be pleased if a woman was his successor during an interview with Channel 4 News, reported .

Most U.S. pro-abortion rights advocacy organizations have “unequivocally denounced” Dr. Kermitt Gosnell‘s practice, reported . Leaders from Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation said that Gosnell’s abortion clinic was an affront to high-quality, safe abortion clinics that operate under proper regulations across the country.

Cherie Blair wants “to see women achieving full equality in the world” before she dies, the United Kingdom‘s former first lady said during an interview with published .

Senior Catholic cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to shake up the Vatican’s secretive bureaucracy have called for more key jobs at the Holy See to be given to women, reported .


Hillcrest Clinic in Virginia, which has offered safe, legal abortion care for four decades, announced it would not be seeking renewal of its license, reported . The clinic decided that the new architectural regulations required by the state–widening hallways, changing the size of rooms, adding specialized sinks and sprinklers–would be too much of a financial burden. It’s the first clinic in the state to close as a result of these new laws.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Wikipedia editors have started quietly moving female authors out of the “American novelists” category and into a newly-created sub-category for “American women novelists,” novelist Amanda Filipacchi reported in .

A critically ill young woman in El Salvador may have to decide between jail and a life-saving abortion, according to a new report from Amnesty International, reported .

A University of Arizona student sparked outrage April 23 for preaching against women while holding a sign proclaiming, “You deserve rape,” reported .

More than 20 percent of women in the U.S. military have experienced unwanted sexual contact, a report shows, reported .

A former Utah high school math teacher was arrested on charges of raping a 17-year-old female student, reported .

Steubenville High football coach Reno Saccocia has been approved for a two-year administrative contract in spite of allegations that he knew about a videotaped rape and tried to protect his players who committed it, reported .

Two policemen in Tharparkar, Pakistan, along with two other men allegedly, gang raped a married woman after subjecting her to torture, reported .


The Florida House of Representatives April 18 passed a bill, 71-44, that would make it a crime for abortion providers to knowingly provide an abortion to a customer seeking to abort their fetus because of his or her race or gender, reported .

Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has already picked up some powerful backing in her anticipated campaign for Senate, from the national Democratic women’s group EMILY’s List, reported .

Eden Foods, which describes itself as “the oldest natural and organic food company in North America,” is coming under fire from its customers after the company stood against Obamacare, reported .

Anne Sinclair, the newly named editor in chief of Huffington Post France, has divorced her estranged husband, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who was forced to resign after accusations of sexually assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper working for the Sofitel Hotel where Strauss-Khan was staying, the French press reported .

Egyptian Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb is facing pressure to halt issuing a document of women’s rights from an Islamic perspective, reported .

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