GAO Blasts Abstinence Aid; Afghan Women Suffer

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersAn April 4 government study that evaluated the Bush administration’s program to fight HIV-AIDS found that a mandate promoting abstinence-only sex education worldwide was confusing for those who implement it and sometimes hindered comprehensive educational programs for populations at high risk for HIV.The Government Accountability Office, the congressional budget watchdog, said in its independent report that 17 out of 20 U.S. Agency for International Development teams in 17 surveyed countries told investigators the abstinence requirement hampered their ability to respond to “local prevention needs.” The mandate requires that individual teams spend at least one-third of their anti-AIDS funding on promoting sexual abstinence.The report also identified widespread confusion about whether USAID workers were allowed to teach about condoms, since the term “condom promotion” is prohibited by the legislation, while there is ambiguity surrounding the term “condom education.””Unfortunately, this report demonstrates the Bush administration’s willingness to make AIDS prevention policy a political plaything in their ongoing effort to appease the far right,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said. “We should be relying on science, not ideology, to stop this pandemic.”More News to Cheer This WeekThirty-one female employees bringing a sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the U.S. Mint in Denver won a $9 million settlement this week, the Denver Post reported April 1. Female employees described instances of discrimination in hiring practices, finding stashes of pornography in the office, being propositioned by managers and being offered money for sex. They brought the lawsuit after more than 100 complaints filed over the course of five years were met with silence by the mint’s equal-employment officer.Once or twice a month for seven years, a 70-year-old grandmother, Dr. Miriam McCreary, has flown from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, S.D., to perform abortions at the only clinic that offers the procedure in the state, CNN reported April 5.

Child Care Tax Credits Counter-Productive

(WOMENSENEWS)–Most corporations decline available state financial aid that would help employees find and pay for child care, according to a new review of state child care tax credits.Twenty-eight states offer tax credits to companies that provide on-site child care or help employees find or pay for off-site care. The National Women’s Law Center reviewed 20 states and found that in five states, no companies claimed the credits and in 11 others fewer than six did.The law center argued that the credits do not work because most corporations pay little state tax to begin with, and so tax breaks do not operate as effective incentives. More than 90 percent of companies in the states studied did not have enough tax liability to take full advantage of the credit.Most women with children–about 79 percent of women with children over the age of 6 and 65 percent of women with children under age 6–work outside the home. Many of those women are in need of paid child care, which is often expensive and difficult to find, the report said.The report’s authors argue that the tax credits, which were enacted in the 1980s and 1990s, take money away from more effective child care assistance programs.This tax year will be the first year that corporations may claim a new federal tax credit for assisting employees with child care. No data is available on the effectiveness of the federal program, but the study authors argue that up to 98 percent of companies will not have sufficient tax liability to take advantage of the credits.For more information:National Women’s Law Center–“Employer Tax Credits for Child CareAren’t Working, New Study Finds”: http://www.nwlc.org/details.cfm?id=1244&section=newsroom

Bahrain Elections

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