Suburban Philly Women Step Into Voting Spotlight

Pennsylvania women are expected to keep Clinton in the running as they vote in a primary that shares the date with Equal Pay Day. But a Pittsburgh analyst says suburban Philadelphian women are unpredictable and might just give their vote to Obama.

Women’s Rights Fight AIDS; Cardinals Warn UK Pols

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersA report from Physicians for Human Rights suggests that improving women’s rights could be the key to addressing the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa, Reuters reported May 25. The Massachusetts group, which investigates human rights abuses, studied 2,000 women in Botswana and Swaziland and identified inequality and gender discrimination as major problems in the region, where women are often forced into risky sex by men or by economic circumstance.”The impact of women’s lack of power cannot be underestimated,” said study co-author Karen Leiter.Women represent 75 percent of all HIV-infected Africans between the ages of 15 and 25; in Swaziland, 33 percent of adults are infected and in Botswana 24 percent of adults have the virus.In Washington, D.C., President Bush announced a five-year renewal of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief with a $30 billion funding package to fight the epidemic. The effort is targeted toward 15 developing countries and Bush’s proposal would double current funding levels for the initiative, which he launched in his 2003 State of the Union speech.The funding increase–with one-third earmarked for education programs that emphasize abstinence–would provide lifesaving treatments to 2.5 million people, according to a May 30 Washington Post article. The program’s original five-year, $15 billion-dollar commitment expires in September 2008. About 40 million people are known to be suffering from AIDS around the world; with more than half of those residing in Africa.More News to Cheer This Week:Hudie Joyce Walker left a California prison May 29 after 16 years in prison, the Los Angles Times reported May 30.

Laws Block Trafficking; Sexual Terror Ignored

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe Washington-based Center for Women’s Policy Studies published the first state-by-state evaluation of human trafficking legislation May 23. The “Report Card on State Action to Combat International Trafficking” honors lawmakers who have made positive efforts to halt human trafficking.The Center for Women’s Policy Studies issued the report card as a way to increase visibility of the human trafficking issue and spur new legislation in additional states.The report found that half of all states’ laws now make trafficking a felony, nine state laws provide restitution to victims and 11 states enacted laws providing for victim protection. Many Midwestern states, including Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, had additional laws such as those to regulate travel service providers that facilitate sex tourism.New York, a major hub for the more than 20,000 people trafficked each year, passed its first comprehensive state legislation May 22 to fight trafficking. The legislation creates a task force to fight trafficking and enforces punishments for the crime. The laws outlaws “prostitution tourism” and makes sex trafficking a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.More News to Cheer This Week: The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said he will investigate human rights violations committed during a 2002-2003 rebellion in the Central African Republic, the BBC reported May 22.

Dems Rebuff Abstinence Funding; Bias Harms Girls

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersDemocratic leaders plan to let $50 million drop from the Title V federal funding stream earmarked for abstinence-only education programs after a recent study released to Congress reported the programs did not dissuade teens from having sex. Congressional Quarterly reported May 15 that lawmakers, who say they would rather see funding focused toward comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence, will not reauthorize the funding when it expires on June 30.”Abstinence-only seems to be a colossal failure,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which controls the earmark, adding that the deficit and the war were also factors.Abstinence supporters said the move would only embolden their efforts to maintain abstinence-only education.More News to Cheer This Week:New Hampshire has skirted controversy with its distribution of free HPV vaccines, United Press International reported May 12. Although other states initiating mandatory vaccine measures have encountered controversy, New Hampshire has dispensed more than 14,000 doses on a voluntary basis to girls ages 11 to 18 without significant opposition. The state has spent $4.9 million on the vaccine, Gardasil, so far, the New York Times reported May 12.Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has appointed seven women to his 15-member cabinet, Agence France Press reported May 18. Women will oversee the ministries of the interior; justice; agriculture; higher education; culture; health, youth and sports; and social cohesion.Two women from different walks of life jumpstarted a fund for women in southeastern Ohio, reported the Zanesville Times Recorder May 12.

Wade Horn Departs; Rape Rate High in New Hampshire

(WOMENSENEWS)–Cheers Wade Horn, an influential fathers’ rights advocate whose views shaped much of the 1996 welfare law, resigned as assistant secretary for children and families, the Washington Post reported April 3. Horn oversaw a $46 billion budget and 65 programs that serve vulnerable children and families for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He will join the accounting firm Deloitte and ToucheWomen’s groups recently criticized Horn and Health and Human Services for providing discriminatory funding to men’s groups. According to a report from the Washington-based National Organization for Women, the department awarded $5 million to the National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization previously directed by Horn. NOW and Legal Momentum filed complaints on March 28 with the government alleging sex discrimination in program funding.”Wade Horn takes the cake.

Keroack Resigns; Pregnancy Bias Claims Rise

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersDr. Eric Keroack, who has been embroiled in controversy since he was appointed as the Health and Human Services Department’s chief family planning officer in November, abruptly resigned his post on March 29, Reuters reported.Keroack’s selection by President Bush was met with strong criticism from women’s groups over his anti-abortion stance and his previous work with five Massachusetts “crisis pregnancy” centers. Massachusetts state Medicaid officials took an undisclosed action against Keroack earlier in the week, which led to his departure.In his federal position, Keroack oversaw $283 million in family planning grants used to provide contraception to low-income women, but his opposition to contraception provoked 107 House Democrats and three Republicans to call for his resignation in December.”It’s a good day for women’s health,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said. “Keroack was unqualified to run the nation’s family planning program. The nation’s family planning program should be run by a champion for women’s health and safety.”More News to Cheer This Week: The ‘Yogyakarta Principles’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights were introduced at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva by a group of 29 advocates, the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission announced March 29. The principles recommend a strategy for how governments should treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and address rape and other forms of gender-based violence; extrajudicial executions, torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment; medical abuses; repression of free speech and assembly; and discrimination in work, health, education, housing, access to justice and immigration.Several thousand women marched in Mexico City to support a bill that would legalize abortion in the capital city, the Associated Press reported March 29.