Female Activists Unite; Girls 80% of Unschooled

Almost 200 female activists from nearly 70 countries met in Sri Lanka Tuesday to address issues including violence, harassment and intimidation faced by female human rights activists, Amnesty International announced. The London-based human rights organization reported that women who advocate on behalf of human rights face increased challenges including growing fundamentalism and militarism, as well as hostility toward political activists.

Cancer Vaccine Works; Sex Assaults Flood Reserves

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersResearchers have produced an experimental vaccine that is 100 percent effective in preventing two types of cervical cancer caused by a sexually-transmitted virus, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., Inc., announced on Thursday.Over 12,000 women aged 16 to 26 in 13 different countries participated in the study of the Gardasil vaccine. The vaccine targets human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts.The women, none of whom were previously infected with HPV, were separated into two groups in which they received either a three-dose vaccine regimen or a placebo and were followed for an average of two years following enrollment. Among the women who received the vaccine, none developed pre-cancerous lesions or cancer cells, while 21 women among the placebo group did.”This is very powerful evidence that a vaccine can actually prevent cervical cancer,” said Carol Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 10,500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and another 3,700 will die from the disease this year.Other News to Cheer This Week:The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would reauthorize funding for a 1994 law aimed at preventing and prosecuting cases of domestic violence and assisting victims of abuse. The Violence Against Women Act keeps its focus on law enforcement but broadens its scope to include some new services, such as programs that would focus on Native Americans, immigrants and rural residents. The law stiffens penalties for repeat offenders, increases funding and helps break the cycle of violence through education, said Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., the bill’s sponsor.A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last week.

Chile’s New Sex-Harassment Law Takes Off

Three months after Chile’s passage of a law on sexual harassment officials report a big jump in the number of complaints. One woman’s testimony and lawsuit helped spur the law, which had been stuck in parliamentary debate for 14 years.