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8/25/2000 - Smeal and Leno Unveil Back to School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Mavis Leno, chair of the Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan unveiled a Back to School Campaign - a new initiative to raise public awareness of the brutal treatment of women and girls under the Taliban, which has banned them from attending schools, working or leaving their homes unaccompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign includes an Adopt-A-School Project, an Afghan Women's Scholarship Program, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

"As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. Through our Adopt-A-School Project, the Back to School Campaign will make a human connection between girls and boys in the United States and Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban's brutal regime," said Smeal. "We want to help the heroic women who are running home-based schools for girls in Afghanistan, and schools in Pakistan for Afghan refugees" added Smeal.

"Here are some of the donations that people can make: $20 will pay for a classroom chalkboard. $36 would be a teacher's salary for a month," explained Leno. "It's also no small thing to let your child know that they can stand up for human decency and human rights, that they can make a real difference in the life of other people in this world," added Leno.

The American public response to the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign To Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan has been very encouraging. "We have been told by the State Department that our letter-writing campaign thus far has produced more mail than any other single foreign policy issue," said Smeal. The campaign is delivering some 211,000 petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Clinton, urging them to increase humanitarian aid and assistance to the women and girls of Afghanistan.

Frayba Wakili, the first Afghan Scholarship Program recipient who will start college this fall in Maryland, shared her courageous story with reporters. "Imagine being a teacher in a country where it is a crime to teach girls how to count. Imagine living in a country where a child could be killed for learning the alphabet or opening a book. This is what's happening in Afghanistan every day," said Wakili, as tears streamed down her face. "I am one of the fortunate ones, but I can't forget all the girls and women at home who are not as lucky as me," added Wakili.

Learn more about FMF's Back to School Campaign and get involved in the fight to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan.


8/24/2000 - Smeal and Leno Unveil Back To School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Mavis Leno, chair of the Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan today unveiled a Back to School Campaign – a new initiative to raise public awareness of the brutal treatment of women under the Taliban, which has banned women and girls from attending schools, working, or leaving their homes unaccompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign will include an Adopt-A-School Project, Afghan Women’ s Scholarship Project, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

“As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. The Back to School Campaign will make a human connection between girls and boys in the United States with Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban’s brutal regime,” said Smeal.

“We must do more to restore the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. We want to help the heroic women who are running schools for girls in Afghanistan despite the ban and desperately-needed schools for Afghan refugee girls in Pakistan,” added Smeal.

Leno remarked, “Through the Back to School Campaign students, teachers, parents, and Americans generally in the U.S. will have the opportunity to connect directly with Afghan women and girls and let them know that they are not forgotten. When people hear about the Taliban’s atrocities against women, they want to help.”

Local action teams comprised of high school and college students, YWCAs, members of community groups, and collections of friends and colleagues will participate in the three components of the Back to School Campaign:

The Adopt-A-School Project where action teams will “adopt” an Afghan girls’ school in Pakistan or Afghanistan in order to exchange letters, photographs, and drawings with Afghan women and girls who are teachers and students and to help support these schools financially.

The Afghan Women’s Scholarship Program for which action teams will recruit scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities.

A petition drive to urge the U.S. government and the United Nations to do everything in their power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls; to significantly increase education, health, and humanitarian assistance for women and girls in Afghanistan and those living as refugees in Pakistan; and to continue to refuse to grant recognition to the Taliban.


The Feminist Majority Foundation has gathered over 210,000 petitions urging more U.S. action for Afghan women. Smeal and Leno will present petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to coincide with the launching of the Back to School Campaign. President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have all spoken out against gender apartheid and the U.S. has refused to recognize the Taliban regime. “Even before this delivery of petition, the State Department told us that the issue of Afghan women had generated more mail and e-mails any other current foreign policy issue.”

Even before its official launch, the Back to School Campaign is taking off, with pledges from the American Federation of Teachers, YWCAs, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women to adopt schools. One of the first action teams to volunteer for the Adopt-A-School Project was the Olympia, Washington YWCA’s “Girls Without Limits” after-school program. The 60 participants in the program will exchange letters and pictures with students at an Afghan refugee girls’ school in Pakistan, and will help raise funds to help their sisters in Afghanistan purchase pencils, notebooks and other educational supplies.

The Women’s Issues Club at Friends’ Central School outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also will adopt a school. Spearheaded by hig


8/24/2000 - Hollywood Joins Feminist Majority Foundation Back to School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Mavis Leno, chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, joined by her husband Jay Leno, the Rugrat's Cheryl Chase, and Boy Meets World's Trina McGee-Davis, together with Katherine Spillar, national coordinator of the Feminist Majority Foundation, today unveiled a Back to School Campaign. This new initiative will raise public awareness about the brutal treatment of women under the Taliban, an extremist regime which has banned women and girls from attending schools, working, or leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign will include an Adopt-A-School Project, the Afghan Women's Scholarship Project, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.

"As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. The Back to School Campaign will make human connections between children in the United States and Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban's brutal regime," said Spillar.

"We must do more to restore the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. We want to help the heroic women who are running clandestine schools for girls in Afghanistan," Mavis Leno remarked. "Through the Back to School Campaign, students, teachers, parents will have the opportunity to connect directly with Afghan women and girls and let them know that they are not forgotten. When people hear about the Taliban's atrocities against women, they want to help."

Local action teams comprised of high school and college students, YWCAs, members of community groups, and collections of friends and colleagues will participate in the three components of the Back to School Campaign:


  • The Adopt-A-School Project where action teams will “adopt” an Afghan girls’ school in Pakistan or Afghanistan in order to exchange letters, photographs, and drawings with Afghan women and girls who are teachers and students and to help support these schools financially.
  • The Afghan Women’s Scholarship Program for which action teams will recruit scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities.
  • A petition drive to urge the U.S. government and the United Nations to do everything in their power to help restore the rights of Afghan women and girls; to significantly increase education, health, and humanitarian assistance for women and girls in Afghanistan and those living as refugees in Pakistan; and to continue to refuse to grant recognition to the Taliban.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has gathered over 210,000 petitions urging more U.S. action for Afghan women. Smeal and Leno will present petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to coincide with the launching of the Back to School Campaign. President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have all spoken out against gender apartheid and the U.S. has refused to recognize the Taliban regime. “Even before this delivery of petition, the State Department told us that the issue of Afghan women had generated more mail and e-mails any other current foreign policy issue.”

Even at this early stage, the Back to School Campaign is taking off, with pledges from over 80 action teams, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the Children's Museum of Los Angeles. One of the first action teams to volunteer for the Adopt-A-School Project were students at the all-girl Ramona public high school in East Los Angeles. Students at Ramona High School will exchange letters and pictures with students at an Afghan refugee girls school in Pakistan, and will help raise funds to purchase pencils, notebooks and other educational supplies. School Board member David Tokofsky j


8/23/2000 - South African Women At Highest Risk For HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS, the leading cause of death in Africa, disproportionately affects African women. South African women in particular are among the highest risk groups in the world. Statistics indicate that between 23 and 33 percent of pregnant women in South Africa carry the virus. The high rate of infection among mother's results 70,000 South African babies born annually infected with HIV/AIDS. Although clinical trials have shown that the drug AZT administered during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission, the treatment remains widely unavailable to poor women who cannot afford its high price tag. The World Bank AIDS Trust Fund recently announced grants for AIDS prevention, care, and education available to countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.


8/23/2000 - Britain Supports Creation Of International Criminal Court

The British government is planning to announce later this week that it will support the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move by the British government leaves the United States, which opposes the ICC without full exemptions for its military personnel and officials, in stark contrast with the members of the European Union all of whom support the ICC. China, Libya, Saudia Arabia, and the United States represent four of the seven countries opposed to the court.

The establishment of the International Criminal Court would be momentous in the worldwide effort to protect the human rights of women and girls. The court's mandate presents clear language, fort the first time ever in international law, defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, crime of apartheid, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as crimes against humanity. Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Jesse Helms who has blocked U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also adamantly opposes the establishment and jurisdiction of the ICC. For a treaty to be ratified in the U.S., it must be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and by a 2/3 vote of the Senate.


8/23/2000 - Lung Disease Rate Among Women Rising

A recent report reveals that chronic lung disease among women has almost doubled in seven years due to heavy smoking. Almost half of the 50,000 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease diagnosed in England and Wales between 1990 and 1997 were among women. These numbers constitute a steep rise in the percentage of women with the disease, from .8 percent of the total population in 1990 to 1.36 percent in 1997. Chronic lung disease is incurable and is the fifth most common cause of death world-wide, according to the 1998 World Health Report. Some doctors theorize that the current high rate of the disease among women is the result of smoking patterns from the 1950s and '60s when smoking among women was widely portrayed as fashionable.


8/22/2000 - Singapore Offers Financial Incentives For Maternity Leave

In an effort to increase fertility and replenish the country's population, the Singaporean government is offering substantial incentives to women to bear more children. The government is paying employers up to $20,000 to grant working mothers eight weeks of maternity leave for a third child. Altogether, the Singaporean government will be shelling out at least $260 million for new financial incentives and childcare arrangements to help mothers. Couples bearing a second or third child will benefit from the "Baby Bonus" of a Children Development Account which the government will fund until the child's sixth birthday, contributing from $500 to $1000 annually to the account. In addition, the government is offering huge tax breaks to working mothers of multiple children, cutting taxes as much as $20,000 to $40,000 for mothers of a third or fourth child. Singapore's current efforts mark an abrupt change from the country's former "Stop at Two" policy as the country now mobilizes an effort to increase child-bearing and strengthen Singapore's population.


8/22/2000 - British Study Contradicts Fear Of Increased Clotting From Pill Use

Contrary to popular beliefs about the birth control pill, a recent British Medical Journal study showed that new types of pills, specifically third generation pills introduced in the 1990's, do not increase the risk of blood clots. Fear of blood-clotting due to third generation pill usage has caused the percentage of women using the drug to fall from 53 to 14 percent among women using oral contraceptives. The recent study provides encouragement for women to resume usage of birth control pills containing desogestrel and gestodene, as the study found no evidence of increased blood clotting in comparing the rate of venous clotting in women between 1992 and 1998.


8/22/2000 - Women In Southern Africa Score Political Power

The 1997 gender equality mandate for Southern Africa, better known as the Declaration on Gender and Development, spearheaded a movement in which women can embark on the decision-making process with equal footing. The Declaration set forth provisions for women to achieve at least 30 percent of seats in Parliament and other governmental structures by the year 2005. Women in the Republic of South Africa now comprise 117 seats, or 26 percent, of the 442 seats in Parliament. In other parts of Southern Africa the numbers for women in decision-making positions are less promising. For example, only 8 women hold seats in Botswana's 44 member Parliament. Recent political elections in Zimbabwe did very little to increase women's representation in Parliament, in fact they undermined some advancement. Prior to the elections women held 22 seats in Parliament, today they hold only 12.

Women's rights activists argue that the difficulty in achieving the 30 percent goal by the year 2005 is due in part to "deep-rooted cultural and social attitudes" among their male counterparts. Representation by women in politics and other decision-making positions is critical for the removal of barriers to their human rights like inheritance rights, land and property rights and access to education. Statistics show that girls make up two- thirds of the 110 million children without education.


8/21/2000 - Taliban Target Afghan Widows Unmercifully

The Taliban militia's harsh new policies are compromising the lives of thousands of Afghan widows. In an attempt to enforce a system of gender apartheid, Taliban authorities imposed a new ruling that forbids women from being employed by foreign aid agencies. Many agencies provide food to thousands of poor Afghan widows and their families, and cannot operate without the help of Afghan women employees. Earlier this month, a public outcry prompted the Taliban to reverse a ruling ordering the United Nations to close bakeries run by Afghan widows that provided bread at subsidized prices to thousands of Afghan families.

Since 1996, when the Taliban militia took control of Kabul, women in areas under Taliban rule have been oppressed by a strict system of gender apartheid, under which they have been stripped of their visibility, voice and mobility. The edicts imposed by the Taliban, which have been brutally enforced, banished most women from the work force, closed schools to girls in cities and expelled women from universities, and prohibited women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. The Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan works to fully and permanently restore the human rights of Afghan women and girls.


8/18/2000 - Violence Against Women Prevention Projects Hindered by Lack of Funds

United Nations agencies are feeling the repercussion of a growing problem witnessed in the global women's movement - lack of resources to support and fund women's projects. Specifically, the United Nation's Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and its Trust Fund were forced to make narrow decisions on more than 200 funding requests totaling $12.5 million (US) dollars to fund only 17 projects with a total of $1 million (US) dollars aimed at eliminating violence against women. According to UNIFEM's Executive Director, Noleen Heyzer the biggest obstacle in sponsoring violence prevention "is not a lack of ideas" but " a lack of resources." Programs funded by UNIFEM range from a Women's Centre for Legal AID and Counseling in Jordan to promote dialogue among judges on issues like honour and crimes against women to the International Women's Judges Association to assist with the creation of a group of 300 judicial officers and academicians to lead training sessions for judges on making informed decisions on violence against women and gender discrimination.


8/18/2000 - Olympic Committee Rejects Taliban Plea

The International Olympic Committee officially rejected the Taliban's appeal to participate in the 2000 Sydney Olympics on the basis that the Taliban militia is not internationally recognized as a legitimate ruling group. The IOC defends its decision on the grounds that the Taliban's full-beard requirement for male athletes directly contradicts IOC clean-shaven regulations. Yet in the IOC's decision, it failed to cite its own code of ethics that prohibits "discrimination between participants on the basis of…sex," a code which the Taliban clearly violates due to its strict system of gender apartheid. Meanwhile, Taliban members argue that the IOC is discriminating against them for not including women athletes among their proposed Olympic delegation. Such an argument is ironic coming from an extremist militia that routinely discriminates against Afghan women and girls.


8/18/2000 - Birth Control Pill Celebrates Four Decades

Four decades after its introduction, more than 100 million women across the globe take the birth control pill. The preferred contraceptive for women between the ages of 16 and 49 was first introduced in 1960 in the United States but did not become available in the United Kingdom until 1961. Despite research that proves the pill as an agent in countering infertility and decreasing the risk of pelvic disease, the oral contraceptive remains under attack. Pro-life groups argue that the pill is "responsible for a rise in sexually transmitted diseases" that have reached "epidemic proportions" in cities. Many researchers and women's rights activists praise the pill for it use in deterring unwanted pregnancies, protection from ovarian cancer, and the liberation of women worldwide.


8/18/2000 - Female Genital Mutilation Continues Underground in Tanzania

Those seeking to abolish female genital mutilation (FGM) in Tanzania confront new obstacles as communities practicing FGM begin to carry out the practice underground. This recent underground movement has formed in reaction to the 1998 Sexual Offenses Act which makes genital mutilation of young women under 18 a federal offense. According to a recent World Health Organization report, two million females face potential mutilation of their genitals each year. Between 85 and 115 million women and girls worldwide have already undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia.

Female genital mutilation continues among many countries of the world including those in Africa due to cultural myths surrounding the practice that view it as a mark of chastity, a rite of passage into womanhood, and a link to increased fertility. Women that undergo the painful sewing of their vagina and or removal of clitoris face the risk of death from excessive bleeding or infection. For those who survive, further complications can occur during childbirth as scar tissue blocks the birth canal.


8/15/2000 - Taliban Seeks Inclusion In Sydney Olympic Games

Members of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan have issued a plea to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be included in the upcoming Sydney Olympics, claiming they will serve as “messengers of peace.” The Taliban, which was suspended from the IOC in 1998, has been anything but peaceful since it took over Afghanistan by force in 1996. The extremist militia has instituted a strict system of gender apartheid, banning all women and girls from school and work and requiring them to cloak themselves in a full-body covering, the burqa. This system of gender apartheid has been severely detrimental to the physical and psychological health of Afghan women.

“Due to the Taliban’s draconian treatment of Afghan women and girls, their plea for inclusion in the Sydney games must be denied until the full restoration of women’s human rights in the country is achieved,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.


8/15/2000 - South African Rape Rate Soars

A recent Medical Research Council study of South Africa found that incidents of rape may be as much as ten times higher than the previously reported 240 per 100,000 rapes annually. Date and marital rape were found to be especially common in the country, with a third of all rapes committed by relatives or male acquaintances of the rape survivors. The report sites patriarchal South African society as the primary social force behind the country’s high incidence of rape. Tolerance of sexual violence is reinforced by law enforcement officials who fail to treat rape cases with the seriousness they deserve.


8/15/2000 - War Crimes Tribunal Established In Sierra Leone

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to establish a war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone. The tribunal, the third of its kind to be created in the past decade, will serve as a forum for trying “crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.” The tribunal will hopefully bring to justice rebel leader Foday Sankoh and members of the Revolutionary United Front who are charged with the torture of civilians and hostage of 500 UN peacekeepers in May.


8/14/2000 - Mexican Legislators Deny Access To Abortion In Rape Case

President-elect Vicente Fox, of the Roman Catholic Church-supported National Action Party (PAN), is forced to make clear his position on abortion due to the recent case of Paulina del Carmen. Ms. Carmen, a 14 year-old resident of Guanajuato state who was raped earlier this year in her home, was denied what she thought was her legal right to an abortion. Until recently, Mexico allowed legal access to abortion is cases of rape or where a mother's life is endangered. Ms. Carmen's abortion denial marks an unprecedented turn in Mexico's less than favorable laws governing women's reproductive health. Health officials for the state who denied Ms. Carmen's access to abortion have commented that "state citizens have a right life, but no right to an abortion".

Women's rights activists were suspicious of Fox's position on abortion at the outset of the presidential elections that took place in July, but now are more fearful of his ties with the Catholic Church and their role in policy decisions. "This abortion controversy has become something of a thermometer. People see it helping determine if Fox's victory was for change, or a vote for conservatism," remarked Martha Pérez, member of the Mexico City's Free Vote Defense Council. Experts estimate that while abortion remains illegal in Mexico, more than 1 million are performed in the country annually and abortion remains the fourth-highest cause of death among Mexican women.


8/14/2000 - Women File First Class-Action Harassment Suit In South Korea

Combating pervasive and "degrading" sexual harassment from their bosses, 270 women union members sued their employers at a Seoul hotel in an unprecedented class-action harassment suit. The suit charged that approximately 70 percent of female union employees at Lotte Hotel were subjected to sexual harassment, citing 480 instances that include groping, fondling, suggestive remarks, and exposure to graphic Internet sex sites. The suit also condemned the hotel management for its refusal to respond to the women's regular complaints. "Sexual harassment has always been a fixture in Korean society but now there are more opportunities for the women to take loud action," affirmed Park Yeon-suk, a spokeswoman for the Korean Sexual Violence Consultation Center (KSVC). Equal employment legislation prohibiting sexual harassment was enacted last year in South Korea. If the suit prevails, the Seoul District Court could award the women US$1.6 million dollars.


8/14/2000 - Convicted Pedophile Walks Away Free In Britain

A convicted pedophile in Britain will not have to serve his sentence for sexually assaulting one of his female students. A judge ruled that Raymond Cullens had "suffered" enough because he had been named in Britain's tabloid News of the World. The ruling comes after a week of violent protests by anti-pedophile campaigners.


8/14/2000 - Women Win $745 Million In Lawsuit Against Bosnian War Criminal

Survivors of rape and torture won $745 million in a verdict against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The federal jury in New York came to a decision on August 9th after hearing grueling accounts of the rape and torture perpetrated by Karadzic and his supporters, who used everything from fishhooks, large sticks, and lit cigarettes to brutalize the women.

Witnesses also testified that they were forced to clean the blood of the walls from their own and other prisoners' beatings. "This case established ... rape is a form of genocide," said Maria Vullo, a lawyer for the women. One woman, who said she was singled out because she was a Bosnian Muslim, fainted on the stand as she described how soldiers wearing photographs of Karadzic raped and tortured her in front of her two children. Karadzic is believed to be hiding in Bosnia, and was indicted for genocide by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.


8/11/2000 - Women In The Middle East Fight To Boost Their Status And Human Rights

Women’s rights advocates in the Middle East are fighting to end “honor” killings, polygamy, and repressive marriage laws. Men convicted of “honor” crimes, frequently glorified rather than condemned, sometimes serve less than three months in jail. Asma Khader, a woman lawyer in Jordan, recounts a litany of horrific cases that she has studied; in one familiar situation, a man shot his sister to death when he learned that she had been raped. The killing, he says, was necessary to preserve family honor. Khader is one of the leaders in a movement to abolish article 340 of Jordan’s penal code, which allows judges to consider reduced sentences for so-called honor killings.

Coalitions of women’s rights and human rights organizations in the Middle East also aim to reform marriage law. Polygamy, though not a widespread practice, continues to exist in some regions. The Moroccan government proposed reforms that include banning polygamy, raising the minimum age of marriage from 14 to 18, and giving women equal inheritance rights. The Supreme Council on Family Affairs in Qatar may grant women more rights in divorce and inheritance disputes. In Iran, where fathers can marry off daughters as young as the age of nine, the Parliament is debating a bill, introduced on August 9th, that could possibly raise the marriage age of women to 18.

Despite these promising reforms, discrimination and rigid interpretations and distortions of Islamic principles continue to endure, often condoning polygamy and violence against women. Recently, a Turkish state-funded religious foundation published a book stating that men can beat their wives as long as they avoid the face and do not strike too hard. In his book, The Muslim’s Handbook, Kemal Guran states that polygamy is acceptable if the wife is ill and the man cannot afford a servant. “I am outraged that such a book was published with state funds – with money women paid in taxes,” said Zuhal Kilic, the head of Kader, a group which promotes women in politics. The Muslim’s Handbook is yet another addition to the genre of wifebeating books that have infuriated the public; in July women’s rights advocates in Spain sued imam Mohamed Kamal Mostafa, a prominent Muslim cleric, for inciting violence in his book Women in Islam, which offered men tips on how to beat their wives effectively.


8/11/2000 - Women In Burkina Faso Demand Fair Share Of Debt Cancellation Benefits

Although women constitute 52 percent of Burkina Faso’s population and contribute to 80 percent of the agricultural production, they may not receive their fair share of a 700 million dollar debt cancellation benefit. One of the poorest countries in Africa, Burkina Faso recently benefited from the Heavily indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which canceled half of the country’s foreign debt. Burkinabe women demand that the money be used to increase women’s economic independence through providing subsidies to women and increasing educational opportunities. In 1997 the rate of primary education in Burkina Faso was 25 percent for boys and only 16 percent for girls, according to the United Nations Development Programme.


8/11/2000 - Women In Brazil Visible In Local Elections, But Absent In National Politics

In three of Brazil’s state capitals women are running against women for the seat of mayor, a refreshing indicator that women’s participation in local politics is flourishing. Researchers point to a glass ceiling in politics, in which women’s leadership is only accepted at the local level. Women’s participation in local politics soar in regions where they are closely associated with community issues and where “family networks” are prevalent. However, at the municipal and federal levels, power is reserved for male clan members. The number of female lawmakers in Brazil’s national Congress has dropped from 34 in the 1994 elections to 28 in 1998. The number of female city councillors rose by 111 percent when a quota system that reserved 20 percent of candidacies for women was established in 1996. Women’s rights advocates in Brazil are urging reform of quota laws on a national level.


8/11/2000 - New Zealand Considers Monitoring Sex Offenders

The New Zealand government may make sweeping changes to its current policy towards sex offenders. It is considering to establish a register to track sex offenders and pedophiles, toughen sentencing laws against serious sex offenders, and enacting mandatory police checks on people planning to work with children. These proposed changes follow an incident earlier this year in which a convicted rapist attacked and stabbed to death a 23-year-old woman two months after he was released from prison.