Credit: Michael Fleshman on Flickr, under Creative Commons
Nigerian activists this week succeeded in attracting global attention to the kidnappings three weeks ago of more than 260 schoolgirls. On May 8 representatives of the Council of Muslim Organizations, a regional coordinator of Muslim groups, spoke out against the extremist violence at the National Press Club, NBC reported. The leader of Boko Haram, the Muslim extremist group that has claimed responsibility for the abductions, has used Islamic teachings to justify threats to sell the girls into slavery. Police in Nigeria offered $300,000 for credible leads to assist the rescue effort, the Guardian reported. The United States is sending a team of military, law enforcement and hostage negotiators to help the effort, the Los Angeles Times reported. Read more in the Women’s eNews story “Outrage Grows at Boko Haram Seizure of Schoolgirls.“
More News to Cheer This Week
U.S. teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates fell to historic lows in 2010 in every state and every racial and ethnic group, found a May 5 study by the Guttmacher Institute. Think Progress reported that this latest data reinforces similar recent findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about new historic lows in 2009. Researchers attribute the declines to more teens using contraception to prevent pregnancy.
A bill called a hallmark update to Minnesota’s workplace protections for women is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton for his expected signature, the Associated Press reported May 8. The Minnesota Senate gave final approval to the measure on a 43-24 vote. Under the bill, parents would be allowed to take 12 weeks instead of the current six for pregnancy and parenting leave in conjunction with a child’s birth or adoption. Pregnant women would be entitled to reasonable accommodations to protect their well-being. Nursing mothers would be assured private space to express their milk. And “familial status” would be added to laws guarding against unfair employment practices, aimed at preventing women from being bypassed for promotions over doubts about their dedication to career over family.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation May 7 to form a Congressional Commission on the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C., according to a press statement. The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 863) passed by a vote of 383 to 33 and now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., are leading the charge.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a $41.1 billion affordable housing plan that city officials touted as the most ambitious in the nation, the New York Observer reported May 5. Female officials and leaders in New York emphasized that women are the majority of the city’s low-wage workers and badly needed more affordable housing, Women’s eNews reported April 8.
Activism is mounting against the dictator of Brunei, the Southeast Asian nation that just passed a Sharia penal code that includes the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians, the public flogging of women who have abortions and the jailing of women who become pregnant outside of marriage. On Twitter, protesters are using the hashtag #stopthesultan. Protesters gathered May 5 outside the Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. On May 8, Human Rights Campaign called on lawmakers, activists and allies of the LGBT community to speak out against the planned expansion to New York of a hotel chain owned by the anti-LGBT sultan, the group said in a May 8 press statement.
An Indonesian woman who was gang raped by men who accused her of having extramarital sex may be caned publicly for violating Islamic law, an official said, the Associated Press reported May 7. Indonesia allows localities to impose local religious laws. For background on how that infringes on human rights, see this Women’s eNews article from 2012.
More News to Jeer This Week
The Vatican official overseeing the crackdown on the largest umbrella group for U.S. nuns is pressing forward with the overhaul under Pope Francis, the Associated Press reported May 5. Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican orthodoxy watchdog, reprimanded officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for planning to honor a theologian who had been criticized by U.S. bishops and said the sisters must show more willingness to cooperate.
A jury found Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan guilty of assault on a police officer, the New York Village Voice reported May 5. The verdict has ignited widespread outrage among those who see the incident as exposing police brutality. A video widely available online shows McMillan being thrown to the ground and then surrounded by dark figures; an apparent onlooker says “Is she getting beat up?” Someone answers, “She’s getting beat up right now.”
The 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers report by Save the Children puts Finland, Norway and Sweden at the top of its annual ranking due to their high income levels per capita. In Somalia, at the end of the list, 1-in-16 women is likely to die of a maternal cause during her lifetime, according to a summary of the report. The United States and other developed countries, including Spain, New Zealand and Denmark, have seen an increase in lifetime risk of maternal mortality. Contributing factors may include an increase in the number of high-risk pregnancies in mothers with obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, as well as an increase in older mothers and the use of fertility drugs, which can result in more complicated multiple births. The report finds uneven global progress on lowering maternal mortality, part of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal No. 5, and warns that climate change could reverse progress in parts of Asia.
American women are becoming first-time mothers at a much older age than they were four decades ago, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, CBS News reported May 9.
On May 15, fast food workers plan to mount one-day strikes in 150 U.S. cities, accompanied by protests in 30 countries, labor sources tell Salon. Organizers expect the walkouts to spread for the first time to cities including Philadelphia, Miami, Orlando and Sacramento, Calif., and to involve thousands of total workers in numerous other cities across the country. Women are the majority of those working in fast food restaurants.
Monica Lewinsky has penned an essay for Vanity Fair about her affair with President Bill Clinton, the Huffington Post reported May 6. Lewinsky says she finally came forward about her experience because of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old who committed suicide after video of him kissing another man was broadcast online. “[T]hanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,” Lewinsky said.
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