India’s ad watchdog this week issued new guidelines barring commercials that portray dark-skinned people negatively, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 22. The Advertising Standards Council of India says people with dark skin shouldn’t be shown as “unsuccessful in any aspect of life,” especially “in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex, matrimony, job placement, promotions and other prospects.” Advertisers that fail to comply with the guidelines can be forced to take commercials off cable television under India‘s cable-TV rules. The new guidelines apply to regular advertisements but not to infomercials, which critics say are more likely to offer negative portrayals of darker-skinned people. Skin-lightening cosmetics are a $600-million-year-business in India.
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Visitors to three Ohio cities in the next few weeks will be welcomed by billboards drawing attention to the fact Ohio doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave and nearly 1-in-5 Ohio women live in poverty, Cleveland.com reported Aug. 21. UltraViolet, a national women’s rights group, bought the billboard space near airports in Cleveland and Dayton and near Interstate-270 in Columbus. The ads also will appear on travelers’ mobile phones while inside the airports.
Thirteen-year-old Mo’ne Davis, one of two girls in this year’s Little League World Series, is attracting attention from professional baseball players on Twitter, The Washington Post reported Aug. 19. Davis, who wants to play basketball for the University of Connecticut and the WNBA, has also gotten attention from basketball players. Davis plays for the Philadelphia Taney Dragons.
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has reversed an earlier decision to allow two Catholic universities to eliminate coverage of most abortions for employees, saying state law requires health insurance plans to cover all abortions, reported SFGate Aug. 22. The state had previously allowed insurance companies to offer plans to Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount universities that denied coverage for “elective” abortions, and allowed it only for abortions needed to save a woman’s life or prevent serious health damage.
Three high school students in Georgia have developed a mobile app to hold police accountable,ThinkProgress.org reported Aug, 16. Siblings Caleb, Ima and Asha Christian created the app, Five-O, for people to document and rate their encounters with police officers. The app is set to be released on Aug. 18, amid a national discussion over the shooting of Michael Brown and police brutality.
Women in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone comprise 60 percent of those who have died from Ebola, ForeignPolicy.com reported Aug. 20. Ebola, which spreads through contact with blood and bodily fluids, often affects women more than men. Women are exposed more often because they are the primary caregivers and contract the virus when they are looking after sick family members. Researchers say that despite the gender disparities, there is often a lack of focus on gender during epidemics.
“[When] research funding is coming in for Ebola, they will not even consider the role sex might play,” said Sabra Klein, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, in the article.
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Almost 300 Central American women and children have been deported from family detention centers that opened in the wake of a recent influx of people illegally crossing the Southwest border, reported the Los Angeles Times Aug. 21. As of the evening of Aug. 20, 280 women and children had been deported from the Artesia Family Residential Center in Artesia, N.M. Another 14 had been removed from Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas. Most of them have been repatriated to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and National Immigration Law Center have sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety, the groups said in a statement Aug. 22. The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia.
Comic-book publisher Marvel has provoked outrage by revealing an illustration of Spider-Woman drawn by a renowned erotic artist, The Guardian reported Aug. 22. Unveiled earlier this week at the site Comic Book Resources, Milo Manara’s variant cover for the forthcoming Spider-Woman series shows the superhero on all fours, in what Slate called an outfit that “looks more like a colonoscopy than a costume.” A senior Marvel executive has said that “a conversation about how women are depicted in comics is relevant at this point.”
Men can spy on women in the shower, an extremist cleric has argued in Egypt, prompting outrage from other Islamic scholars, The Guardian reported Aug. 22. According to Osama al-Qusi, a Salafist or ultraorthodox preacher, peeping toms can watch a woman wash as long as they are interested in marrying her.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, the biggest viral-charity sensation of the year, has raised millions of dollars for ALS research, but one group is not pleased by all the Facebook videos: anti-abortion activists, reported New York magazine Aug. 21. Some groups are upset that the ALS Association gives money to a group that supports stem-cell research. “Attention pro-lifers: be careful where you send your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donation,” read a headline on LifeNews.com earlier this week. And some anti-abortion activists have begun making their own “pro-life Ice Bucket Challenge” videos.
A Cincinnati-area abortion clinic, in Sharonville, has ended its fight with the state over a license revocation and will stop performing surgical abortions this week, clinic officials said Aug. 20, blaming Gov. John R. Kasich and accusing him of trying to end all abortions in Ohio, The Associated Press reported. The development will leave just one facility in the Cincinnati area offering surgical abortions and none offering late-term abortions.
An Iowa judge supports a ban on a videoconferencing system that allows urban doctors to dispense abortion drugs to women in rural clinics, The Des Moines Register reported Aug. 19. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sued the Iowa Board of Medicine, saying that the ban would limit rural women’s access to abortions. Polk County District Judge Jeffrey Farrell ruled that the regulators were within their rights to ban the system.
A New Jersey school will not allow a 13-year-old transgender teen to return to school if she continues to dress and identify as a girl, Think Progress reported Aug. 18. Thorne Middle School in Middletown, N.J., informed Rachel Pepe and her mother that she must come back to school prepared to dress and act like a boy despite the fact coming out as transgender helped relieve her depression. The school is also unwilling to support tuition costs of sending Pepe to a different school. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity is illegal in New Jersey but public schools are not required to provide accommodations.
The Obama administration has issued a new set of rules to provide contraceptive access to women whose employers object to their insurance plans covering birth control, which is required under the Affordable Care Act, MSNBC reported Aug. 22. Now employees of for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby will be able to access an “accommodation” where the insurer directly provides the cost-free coverage with no financial involvement by the employer. That accommodation was originally limited to religiously-affiliated nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor; houses of worship are fully exempt.
Under the umbrella #WEmatter, organizations and individuals nationwide are taking to social media on August 26, Women’s Equality Day, the national celebration of the day Congress stopped denying women the right to vote, the organizations behind the campaign said in a press statement Aug. 22. Together, the groups aim to send a message to lawmakers: Women’s economic issues – and their votes – matter. The groups believe economic security is intrinsically linked to community security.
A teenager who raped a woman in her 90s has been jailed for 16 years and will be registered as a sex offender, The Guardian reported Aug, 20. Lee-Joseph Dixon forced his way into his victim’s house after leaving a late night party and reportedly ignored the woman’s plea to leave her alone. Dixon has pleaded guilty to rape, but said he has no memory of the attack.
A Georgia woman has filed a petition with the U.S. Attorney General’s office saying that she should not be deported because she did not commit an aggravated felony. Expedited removal proceedings were initiated when the Department of Homeland Security classified Biuma Malu’s battery charge as an aggravated assault, according to the petition which was filed Aug. 19. An immigration judge has also declined Malu’s application for protection under the Convention Against Torture, a U.N. human rights law that prohibits sending a person back to a country where it is believed that person will be tortured. Malu claims she fled to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000 to escape female genital mutilation. She also claims she was stabbed and raped by her husband.
Six newlywed women in India have returned to their parents because their husbands’ homes had no toilets, The BBC reported Aug. 19. The women said they would return if their husbands built toilets in their homes. Nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilets at home, leaving women who relieve themselves in open fields at risk of attack.
The National Women’s Political Caucus is supporting candidates Staci Appel and Mary Rose Wilcox. Appel, who is campaigning for representative of Iowa’s Third Congressional District, would become the state’s first female representative. Wilcox will run for representative of Arizona’s Seventh Congressional District and has over 30 years experience as an elected official.
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