Virginity protest graffiti
Graffiti in Cairo, Egypt, to bring attention to the virginity tests being used on female activists.

Credit: Darla ????? Hueske/sierragoddess on Flickr, under Creative Commons



A campaign led by a 17-year-old student in the United Kingdom that calls for a new way to combat female genital mutilation has gathered more than 150,000 signatures since it was launched on Feb. 5, The Guardian reported. Fahma Mohamed is calling on the British secretary of state for education to write to all head teachers in the country asking them to inform teachers and parents about FGM, as the ritual is called, before the next summer holidays, in a bid to protect girls from being mutilated during the “cutting season.” The campaign is backed by the The Guardian and a range of campaigners and FGM activists.

Another initiative to combat FGM is taking place in Burkina Faso, where the world’s first clitoral repair hospital for victims of the cutting will open on March 7, according to a statement released Feb. 9. by the U.S.-based nonprofit Clitoraid.

More News to Cheer This Week:

In addition to male or female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither,” CNN reported . Users also now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her or the gender-neutral they/their.

Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a new partnership to measure and analyze the advancement of women and girls around the world, The Washington Post reported . The Clinton Foundation is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to gather and study data on the global progress of women and girls and the gaps that remain.

Tomiichi Murayama, Japan‘s prime minister, visited South Korea this week, during which time he met with former comfort women in Seoul, CNN reported . Murayama attended an exhibition of art made by women who had endured sexual slavery at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army.

A Kansas House committee has approved abortion legislation that addresses legal issues raised in state and federal lawsuits filed by abortion providers, the Associated Press reported . One part of the bill revises a requirement that the pages of abortion providers’ websites link to a state health department site with information about pregnancy and fetal development. Providers would no longer have to say that the state’s information is accurate and objective. The bill also revises language in various provisions of state law dealing with medical emergencies in which abortion restrictions are waived.

A new global poll surveying the world’s Catholics finds that most of them don’t agree with the Church’s strict positions on issues of reproductive health. Specifically, most Catholics around the world actually support birth control and abortion rights, two “family values” issues that the Catholic hierarchy opposes, Think Progress reported .

Afghan women marched in Kabul on Feb. 13 to protest violence against women and to decry a new draft law that activists say will severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse, the Associated Press reported. Afghanistan‘s parliament recently passed a new criminal procedure code that would ban people from testifying against their own relatives. The legislation is currently awaiting signature from President Hamid Karzai.


The families of 12 female students arrested at the end of December 2013 in Cairo, Egypt, allegedly for disrupting exams at Al-Azhar University reported that the students were assaulted, tortured, sexually harassed and had their Islamic head covers removed by security and police officers following their arrest, according to a press release issued by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in U.K. on Feb. 10. Families reported that the girls were also subjected to virginity tests several times.

More News to Jeer This Week:

A law restricting access to abortion in Spain has survived the opposition Socialists bid to scrap it, Al Jazeera reported . The conservative ruling Popular Party contributed to a 183 vote against the Socialists’ proposal to “immediately withdraw.” The law’s opposition’s bill received the support of 151 politicians, while six abstained. Against this backdrop, polls show 80 percent of Spaniards, including practicing Catholics, support abortion on demand.

Darren Sharper, a former National Football League player, was charged in Los Angeles with two counts of rape by use of drugs and five other drug-related felonies, The Los Angeles Times reported . Los Angeles County prosecutors said they will ask a judge to increase the bail for Sharper to $10 million because he is suspected of raping women in four states: California, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana.

Lawmakers in South Dakota are beginning to take the first steps to advance a law that could end up banning abortions after just seven weeks of pregnancy, Think Progress reported . If it becomes law, it will be the second harshest ban in the nation, right behind the state’s neighbor, North Dakota, which passed a six-week abortion ban last year that’s currently blocked from taking effect.

Lawmakers in the Iowa House have voted in favor of a bill that bars remote distribution of abortion pills to pregnant women in Iowa, the Associated Press reported . The Republican-majority House endorsed the bill which now moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to advance.

Manoel Adail Pinheiro, mayor of Coari in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of running a child prostitution ring, Reuters reported . Five members of his cabinet were also arrested for allegedly assisting in the recruitment of children.

Iran‘s female soccer pros face random gender tests after seven people were disqualified from the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran, because they were deemed not to be women, NBC News reported . Iran’s teams are required to perform gender tests on any woman signing a professional contract and pass the results on to the federation.


The nonprofit TED attempted to clarify its position on abortion as a human rights issue after the group came under fire following a report by in which TED’s spokesperson told abortion doesn’t fit into TED’s focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights,” Think Progress reported . NARAL Pro-Choice America launched a petition pressuring TED to change its policy and commit to covering abortion-related issues. The organization quickly responded, writing in a blog post that there’s no official policy prohibiting talks related to abortion and that Valenti took the spokesperson’s quote out of context.

Women worldwide have fewer children, are less likely to die of childbirth and have made great strides in literacy, according to a major report released by the United Nations Population Fund. But a closer look at the report’s numbers reveals marked disparities. For instance, in the poorest communities, “women’s status, maternal death, child marriage” and other indicators of women’s well-being have “seen little progress in the last 20 years,” the New York Times reported.

A record number of American women are tying the knot with a husband who is less educated than they are, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the Los Angeles Times reported . Nearly 21 percent of married women in 2012 were better educated than their spouses, a threefold jump from 1960.

One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter-century, found that death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not, the New York Times reported .

Wendy Davis, who started a filibuster against new abortion restrictions in Texas last year, said in an interview that she could, in fact, support a law that bans abortion after 20 weeks, if only it protected women first, the Washington Post reported . The Democratic state senator said she opposed Texas‘s 20-week abortion ban, because “it didn’t give enough deference between a woman and her doctor making this difficult decision, and instead tried to legislatively define what it was.”

Hillary Clinton would “make a tremendous president” said former Gen. David Petraeus to the authors of a new book on the former secretary of state, USA Today reported .

In Memoriam:

Shirley Temple Black, who rose to fame as arguably the most popular child star in Hollywood history, died Feb. 10, her publicist said, CNN reported. She was 85.

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