House Democrats introduced Jan. 26 the proposed Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act that calls for six weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. The introduction of the bill follows a push by President Barack Obama, including in his State of the Union address. The bill is sponsored by several congresswomen including Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
"I remember being a young mother and asking about the leave policy when I became pregnant. I was told what leave? You just leave!" said Maloney. "It is outrageous that decades later we still don’t have the same basic right that most of the rest of the world enjoys. This is not only wrong; it’s bad for our economy. Smart paid leave policies improve employee retention, boost productivity and more."
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Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a longtime opponent of abortion, announced in an op-ed that he now supports abortion rights after having talked to women in difficult circumstances throughout his home state, The Huffington Post reported Jan. 28. "I have sat with women from Ohio and across the nation and heard them talk about their varying experiences: abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape and incest," wrote Ryan. "These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families."
Marissa Alexander has been released from jail after serving three years for firing warning shots in the direction of her abusive husband in 2010. The judge sentenced her to two years house arrest. Alexander will have to wear an electronic device on her ankle and stay employed or in school during these two years.
Dominican lawmakers are set to discuss a draft bill next month that would lay out the legal framework for women seeking to terminate pregnancies in certain conditions. Last year, President Danilo Medina recommended that lawmakers amend the criminal code to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, a deformed fetus or when a woman’s life is in danger, Reuters Trust Law reported Jan. 27.
Obama raised the issue of women’s rights as he ended a visit to India this week. At a meeting attended by students, the U.S. president told his audience that if countries wanted to develop effectively, they must educate and empower their daughters as much as their sons, Reuters reported Jan. 26.
Research, which tracked more than 13,000 women’s medical abortions at Planned Parenthood health centers in Los Angeles over a five-year period, has found that an off-label regimen for providing medical abortion is very safe, Think Progress reported Jan. 26. That finding stands in direct contrast to an increasing number of state laws that prevent doctors from prescribing this effective regimen claiming concerns over women’s "health and safety."
An Egyptian doctor has become the first person in the country’s history to be jailed for practicing female genital mutilation, after a 13-year old died in his care, The Telegraph reported Jan. 26. Reslan Fadl was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter, and a further three months for performing an illegal FGM operation. His clinic was also ordered to be closed for a year.
Three separate abortion bills were proposed by the Republican majority in Missouri this week. One of the bills, introduced by GOP Rep. Rocky Miller, will require both parents to be notified prior to an abortion. Currently Missouri law requires only one parent to be notified for a minor to complete an abortion procedure. In addition, a bill called The Parental Involvement Enhancement Act requires that the parent or guardian of a minor seeking an abortion prove their identity. A final bill, introduced by Rep. Linda Black, requires the Department of Social Services to produce a video that would provide such information as a narration of the gestational period of the fetus, the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus and alternatives to abortion procedures. Women would be required to view the video before undergoing an abortion.
In Connecticut, bills were introduced that would require physicians to notify parents or legal guardians 48 hours in advance of giving a minor an abortion.
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Nearly 20 percent of reproductive rights clinics were targeted by anti-abortion violence last year, according to the 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey. It is a slight decrease from the 23.5 percent registered in 2010. Severe violence includes blockades, clinic invasions, bombing, arson, chemical attacks, stalking, physical violence, gunfire, bomb threats, arson threats and death threats. The clinics also reported higher levels of threats and targeted intimidation of doctors and staff than in prior years. For instance, clinics reported that information and pictures of doctors posted on the Internet jumped from 9 percent to 17.8 percent between 2010 and 2014.
Homeless women in Melbourne, Australia, are being regularly preyed upon by men who demand they have sex with them in return for shelter, according to those who work in the homeless sector. Women have told of being raped and abused by men who offer assistance, with the expectation women will put up with these crimes because of the lack of affordable or safe shelter, The Guardian reported Jan. 27.
Women experiencing gender discrimination in STEM is not a novelty, however it gets worse for women of color, finds a report by the UC’s Hasting College of the Law. One hundred percent of the 60 scientists — all women of color– interviewed for the study reported encountering one or more patterns of gender bias, compared with 93 percent of white women.
Women now make up 20 percent of both the House and Senate, a record high for the U.S. Congress. However, that figure pales in comparison with most of its high-income peer nations, The Pew Reseach Center reported Jan. 26. The U.S. ranks 33rd when it comes to women in the national legislature among 49 "high-income" countries (those with per capita incomes above $12,615). Among a larger group of 137 countries with data available, the U.S. ranked just 83rd. The only country with more female legislators than males is Rwanda: 51 of the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies are held by women. Following Rwanda are Cuba, Sweden and South Africa.
Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl, billboard trucks started traveling around Phoenix with messages reminding football fans of what critics see as an inadequate NFL response to domestic violence involving star NFL players. Dispatched by the anti-sexism group UltraViolet to the airport, hotels and other venues, the trucks will bear slogans, including "55 Cases of Domestic Violence Unanswered," and call for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign. The UltraViolet ad campaign also includes a video featuring a woman being tackled by a football player as a voiceover reads "let’s take domestic violence out of football." The anti-sexism group released Jan. 28 a survey showing that 58 percent of women disapprove of the NFL’s handling of domestic abuse. The same poll showed that 67 percent think the NFL should be doing more to combat domestic abuse in the league.
The Newsweek cover issued Jan. 29 created an outrage online. The illustration has been described as sexist by many on social media. The story, titled "What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women," focuses on two female programmers — Lauren Mosenthal and her partner, Eileen Carey — who recently launched their startup in San Francisco. But to succeed, they have to beat the odds and fight off deeply entrenched misogyny. Critics on Twitter branded the cover "clickbait, designed to piss off women," "inappropriate" and "offensive."
A Guantanamo Bay military court order that bars female guards from touching an accused al-Qaida commander violates Pentagon sex discrimination guidelines and means inmates could set prison policies, a prosecutor argued Jan. 29 in a hearing on the ban. However, a lawyer for inmate Abd al Hadi al Iraqi said lifting the temporary order would violate the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court rulings on religious freedom.
Michelle Obama, who visited this week the Saudi Kingdom with her hair uncovered, has brought the media attention back to the status of women in the monarchy. The First lady, who has been traveling with her husband in India and Saudi Arabia, was both praised and criticized across social media.