Feminist News Stories for 9-18-13

New Delhi Gang Rape perpetrators sentenced to death

Four men have been found guilty of the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi, India last December and have been sentenced to be hanged.

The victim and a friend were trying to taxi home after seeing a movie when the men lured them onto a private bus. They beat both of them and raped the woman. The victim died two weeks later of severe internal injuries. She was able to provide evidence against the attackers while on her hospital bed.

Another suspect, a man who was a juvenile when he committed the attack, was sentenced in August to three years in a reform facility.

The attack and death of the student led to huge protests across India about sexual violence and the status of women. It resulted in the introduction of tough new laws to punish sexual offenses, including allowing the death penalty to be used in serious cases of rape.

And our feature segment today will focus on the aftermath of  that much publicized rape and its implications and underlying causes. We’ll be speaking with reknowned Indian feminist Rita Banerji So stay tuned

Meanwhile, an unprecedented UN study of 10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific, has found that, on average, half of those interviewed reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner and that the major reason given by men for their actions was “male entitlement.” We will be discussing this study and other background conditions of global rape normalization with Huffington Post commentator Soraya Chemaly an activist and frequent blogger on these issues.

Guttmacher study on abortion and mental health

Abortion foes have claimed that abortion is bad for women’s mental health, but this claim has rarely been studied. The Guttmacher Institute has released a new study of 843 women who, between 2008 and 10, either obtained an abortion or were denied one because of applying after the time limit. The study focused on women’s emotions one week after they either did or did  not recieve the abortions.

Compared with women who obtained a near-limit abortion, those denied the abortion felt more regret and anger and less relief and happiness. 95% of women who had obtained the abortion felt it was the right decision, as did 89% of even those who expressed regret.

For a complete report on this study, you can get a link on our blog, below–or go to Guttmacher.org.


U.N. Women issues progress report

The new head of the U.N. agency promoting women’s rights says there is “a definite backlash” against equality for women despite some significant progress, pointing to an upsurge in violence against women and the uphill fight to escape poverty and crack the glass ceiling.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was South Africa’s first female deputy president, said that 18 years after world leaders adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women at a U.N. conference in Beijing, there are still major economic and social barriers and new crimes to confront including trafficking of women and girls–and cyber bullying.

“All of those means that we do need to go back to the drawing boards and strengthen the mechanisms and options that we have and that the campaign for women’s equality needs to be broadened to include boys and men as well as the private sector.

UN Women was created three years ago by the General Assembly to combine four U.N. bodies dealing with the advancement of women under a single umbrella. Ending violence against women and girls s one of its top priorities.

You can get a link to this entire story on our blog at http://www.joyofresistance.com


Women arrested over immigration bill

On Thursday, Sept. 12, More than 100 women were arrested on Capitol Hill after they blocked a busy intersection to press the House of Representatives to move on immigration legislation in a protest that rallied national women’s groups to the cause.
Organizers said 25 immigrants who are in the country without legal papers were among those arrested.

Also arrested were Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, and Linda Meric, executive director of 9to5.

Last week, House leaders said they would probably not take up contentious immigration legislation this fall.

Maria Hernandez, 37, an immigrant from Mexico who does not have legal status, said she participated in the protest even though she is raising three young daughters in San Francisco.

“Why not?” Ms. Hernandez said before her arrest. “I’m taking the same risk every time I go out of my house, every time I take my daughters to school.”

Leaders of the liberal women’s organizations said they were embracing immigration in a bid to expand their following among immigrant and Latina women, both fast-growing populations.


Wage Gap tool

The U.S. Census Bureau has released new data–which, unfortunately is not new–on the gender wage gap – In 2012, women still earned just 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men, with African American women earning 70 cents and Latina women 64 cents on that average white male dollar. The numbers haven’t  budged in the last decade.

According to the The American Association of University Women (AAUW), for two years, the U.S. Department of Labor has been saying it will develop a new tool to collect information on salaries, wages, and other benefits earned by employees of federal contractors. And since 2006, the federal government has had NO tool to effectively monitor wage discrimination based on race, national origin and gender by private employers – that means our tax dollars could be going to federal contractors who are not paying women fairly. Two months ago, the Department of Labor got a new leader, and this data collection tool should be one of the first items on Secretary Perez’s agenda.

The AAUW is urging people to go to their website: aauw.org and click Take Action tell the new Secretary of Labor to develop what they say is an essential tool in the fight for equal pay.


Australia “personhood” bill debated.

If a new proposal in the Australian state of South Wales becomes law, women who abort a fetus after 20 weeks could be charged with grievous bodily harm.

Australian women’s groups are calling this proposal to give a fetus personhood rights, the first step toward making abortion illegal in the state.

“This bill established personhood for a foetus and this is a very concerning precedent to be setting,” said Melanie Fernandez, chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia. “That kind of precedent has been used as a first starting point to roll back abortion right in other places, such as states in America.”

The bill is being called “Zoe’s law,” named for a 32-week-old unborn fetus that died when the mother was hit by a car in 2009. Because South Wales did not view the fetus as a person, the driver was not charged with its murder but rather with causing “grievous bodily harm.”


Obamacare and women

As Republicans threaten to shut down the government unless Obamacare is repealed, Planned Parenthood is publicizing that  many provisions of the new law–which will go into effect on October 1st–will specifically benefit women. These include: 1) No more denial of insurance for “pre-existing conditions”, a practice that especially discriminates against women, as both pregnancy and being a survivor of domestic violence have been considered “pre-existing conditions”. Being a woman , itself. was treated as a “pre-existing condition” as women were routinely charged 135% more for insurance than men. 2) 20 million insured women have already received free preventive care for which they formerly would have had to pay, 3) Birth control will be available without a co-pay, saving women using it about $600. a year. 3) Tax credits will be available to low income pregnant women.

While still a subsidy to the private insurance system, Obamacare does curb a few of the worst abuses of healthcare-for-profit, which is why Republicans hate it so much. Most developed countries have some form of Single Payer healthcare which is publicly financed by taxes and not run for profit. President Obama did not put that option “on the table” when proposing his healthcare reform plan, although many continue to fight for it in this country.



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