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9/30/1997 - Feminist Majority Commends Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban's First Year, Calls For Stepped Up Enforcement

Washington DC -- Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal joined Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and other women's rights and domestic violence leaders at a Tuesday, September 30 news conference in praising the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban on the law's one year anniversary.
"The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is one of the most significant advances in the drive to end domestic violence. This law has already saved some women's lives by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. In 1997, over 2,000 gun permits were denied because applicants had previous domestic violence convictions," said Smeal.

"With this record of success, how can anyone even attempt to argue that the law should be repealed or weakened? Allowing convicted abusers to possess guns invites deadly abuse. Allowing police officers who have been convicted of domestic violence to keep their guns and to remain in a position responsible for intervening in domestic violence disputes creates a public safety crisis of major proportions for women."

"Rather than eliminating retroactivity from the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, we should focus on how the law can be more aggressively enforced. We know that 2,000 is just the tip of the iceberg."

"And rather than seeking exemptions for police officers and military personnel who are abusers, we should be concerned with why we are recruiting so many abusers for these positions. One half of all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer to respond to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself. Police family violence is a horrific problem that threatens the lives of women and children associated with the abusing officer and undercuts legal protection for all domestic violence victims within the officer's jurisdiction," Smeal concluded.

The Feminist Majority has worked over the past year to stave off attempts to gut the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. The Feminist Majority's sister organization, the Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsors the National Center for Women and Policing, an organization of women police officers committed to improving police response to domestic violence and increasing the representation of women in law enforcement.


9/30/1997 - Feminist Majority Commends Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban's First Year, Calls For Stepped Up Enforcement

Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal joined Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and other women's rights and domestic violence leaders at a Tuesday, September 30 news conference in praising the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban on the law's one year anniversary.

"The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is one of the most significant advances in the drive to end domestic violence. This law has already saved some women's lives by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers. In 1997, over 2,000 gun permits were denied because applicants had previous domestic violence convictions," said Smeal.

"With this record of success, how can anyone even attempt to argue that the law should be repealed or weakened? Allowing convicted abusers to possess guns invites deadly abuse. Allowing police officers who have been convicted of domestic violence to keep their guns and to remain in a position responsible for intervening in domestic violence disputes creates a public safety crisis of major proportions for women."

"Rather than eliminating retroactivity from the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, we should focus on how the law can be more aggressively enforced. We know that 2,000 is just the tip of the iceberg."

"And rather than seeking exemptions for police officers and military personnel who are abusers, we should be concerned with why we are recruiting so many abusers for these positions. One half of all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer to respond to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself. Police family violence is a horrific problem that threatens the lives of women and children associated with the abusing officer and undercuts legal protection for all domestic violence victims within the officer's jurisdiction," Smeal concluded.

The Feminist Majority has worked over the past year to stave off attempts to gut the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. The Feminist Majority's sister organization, the Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsors the National Center for Women and Policing, an organization of women police officers committed to improving police response to domestic violence and increasing the representation of women in law enforcement.


9/30/1997 - Taliban Detains Officials and Journalists in Afghanistan

Armed police of the Taliban extremist group arrested and detained European commissioner Emma Bonino and 18 other European representatives and journalists, including Christiane Amanpour of CNN, for allegedly making a videotape inside a Kabul women's hospital on September 29. The Taliban has imposed a rule against photographing people. Taliban police detained the group for three hours before they were released unharmed.

Bonino, the highest-ranking Western official to visit Kabul since the Taliban took over a year ago, is in charge of the European Union's humanitarian office. The European Union has committed $40 million for emergency aid in Afghanistan.

In response to the arrests, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) held a press conference condemning the Taliban's oppression of women. The Taliban controls the southern two-thirds of Afghanistan, where they have prohibited women from working, going to school, leaving their homes without a close male relative, or appearing in public without a burqa, a head-to-toe garment with only a mesh opening to see through. Maloney has introduced a House Resolution expressing concern for human rights violations in Afghanistan. A similar resolution has already passed the U.S. Senate.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy announced last week that 5,000 Canadian women have written letters protesting women's oppression in Afghanistan. Axworthy will deliver the letters to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


9/30/1997 - Eastern European Women Sold Into Sexual Slavery

Anita Gradin, the European Union's commissioner for Justice and Immigration, said Monday that Eastern Europe was replacing Asia, Latin America and Africa as the top source of female sex slaves. "I would say that proportions now are one-third of the women come from developing countries and two-thirds from Eastern Europe," Gradin estimates. She is seeking U.S. cooperation in fighting the problem, and has asked Hillary Rodham Clinton to warn women about female slavery when she visits Ukraine in November.

Gradin estimated that half a million women are involved in the sex trade each year, with two-thirds coming from Eastern Europe and the rest coming from developing countries. "Young girls from countries such as Poland are promised good-paying jobs in the West in restaurants and beaty parlors, their papers are taken away and then they are forced" into the sex trade, she said.


9/30/1997 - Phillipine President Signs Rape Bill

In an attempt to "ensure that no woman -- including wives -- or man is subjected to sexual acts against his or her will," Phillipine President Fidel Ramos signed a new bill Tuesday that allows both men and spouses to sue for rape.

The bill's author, Sen. Leticia Shahani, said the law makes rape a public rather than a private crime, meaning that anyone can sue on a victim's behalf. The law also adds oral sex, anal sex, and penetration with a foreign object to the definition of rape. When the bill was first introduced in 1989, Shahani said lawmakers objected to the inclusion of marital rape as a crime.

Under the new law, rape is punishable by death in three instances: when a minor is raped, when the rape is committed against someone in police custody, or when the rapist knowingly transmits the AIDS virus.


9/30/1997 - Female Genital Mutilation Banned in New York

New York Gov. George Pataki signed a bill Monday that makes female genital mutilation a felony when performed on a minor. Pataki stated that female genital mutilation is "a practice that disfigures the body and results in lifelong suffering and dysfunction" and will not be tolerated.

Female genital mutilation, practiced mostly in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa, can range from cutting off the foreskin on the clitoris to complete removal of all external genitalia, which often results in infection, life-long pain, or even death.

The Centers for Disease Control says that 27,000 females in New York alone have been or will be mutilated. Several U.S. cities have fought immigrants trying to get doctors to perform the procedure in the past few years. Cosmetic piercing and tattooing of adult women's genitals are not covered by the law.


9/30/1997 - Domestic Violence Rising Among Teens

Florida police say juvenile domestic violence has doubled in Dade and Broward counties, and risen 150 percent statewide in the past two years. In a recent Ft. Lauderdale case where a 17-year-old beat his stepmother with a table leg, police and prosecutors said they were not surprised, given that at least one case of juvenile domestic violence is filed every day.

The adult parents of teens are especially vulnerable to assault because they are unable to solicit legal protection from their children. Adults who abuse other adults can request restraining orders against their abusers, but parents who are at risk for abuse cannot legally keep their children away. Local experts were unsure what may have caused the rise in domestic violence.


9/30/1997 - Child Pornographers Identified in Internet Sting

Attorney General Dennis Vacco announced Monday that a federal and state investigator "cybersting" operation has identified more than 1,500 people suspected of sending child pornography over the Internet.

Vacco said child pornography "threatens the safety of our children" and that such illegal activity will not be ignored. In the cybersting, investigators worked the Internet under aliases and posed as adult bookstore owners. The sting was nicknamed "Operation Rip Cord" after investigators became so disgusted with the child porn they were receiving on the computer that they ripped the cord from the wall.

Vacco believe that the sting was "a tremendous leap forward in our battle to protect children from exploitation by child pornographers and holding accountable those responsible for peddling and profiting from this despicable trade." Authorities have already prosecuted 31 people nationwide, including an Albany, NY student training to become a kindergarten teacher.


9/30/1997 - Teens Receiving Free Condoms Don't Have More Sex, Study Says

A study conducted by the NYU Department of Health Studies, the Hunter College Center on AIDS, Drugs and Community Health, and the Academy for Educational Development has concluded that free condom giveaways in high schools do not encourage more sexual activity among students.

The study of nearly 13,000 students in Chicago and New York, released today in the American Journal of Public Health, said "The fear that making condoms available will increase sexual activity, a primary obstacle to making condoms available to high school students, appears to be unfounded."

The study showed that whether or not condoms are given away at high schools, rates of sexual activity are the same. The difference between the high schools was that when sexually active students had access to condoms, they used them more often. In terms of AIDS and STD prevention, the study's findings reinforce the teachings of safe-sex advocates. "This is a very low cost AIDS prevention program," said Sally Guttmacher, principal investigator of the study.

New York City schools were the first to distribute condoms in 1991, and many cities have adopted the practice since then. "We have found that making condoms available doesn't do harm and does some good," said Guttmacher.


9/29/1997 - Pakistani Feminist Activists Help Arrest Violent Husband

After several days of protest and campaigning, the Progressive Women's Association (PWA) of Islamabad, Pakistan prompted police to arrest a man for cutting off his wife's hair and nose.

On Sept. 19, Nazeer Khan became upset with his wife, Nusrat Perveen, and beat her. She appealed to his mother for help when he left. When he found out, he tied her to a bed, cut off her hair with a pair of scissors and then took a kitchen knife and chopped off her nose. He forced her to tell police it was an accident. When women's rights activists heard what had happened, they visited Perveen in the hospital and asked her to tell the truth. Shahnaz Bokhari, PWA's chief coordinator, said "When we knew the facts, we went to police and asked them to register a case against her husband. But they were not willing to do so." Eventually, their efforts resulted in Khan's arrest and PWA hired a lawyer for Perveen.


9/29/1997 - UAE Restricts Dowry Payments

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates approved a draft law that limits bridal dowry payments.

To curb "soaring wedding expenses which burden the youth" and to slow the rate of UAE men marrying foreign women to avoid dowry payments, the Cabinet set the maximum dowry at 20,000 dirhams ($5,500) and the length of wedding parties to one day. The average amount sought is 100,000 dirhams ($27,250), but it can go much higher, and include extras such as houses and cars.

The UAE government has already established a multi-million dollar wedding fund to help men pay the dowries, with little impact on the rate of foreign marriage. They are considering banning marriage between UAE men and foreigners.


9/29/1997 - Clinton Names Women's Health Advisor

President Clinton announced Friday that Susan Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A., will serve as Senior Adviser to the President for Women's Health. She will develop of medical, scientific and health initiatives and policy relating to women's health. Blumenthal will move from her current job as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and begin her work at the White House Nov. 1.

Blumenthal is Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral in the United States Public Health Service, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown School of Medicine.


9/29/1997 - Algerian Militants Massacre 11 Women Teachers

In the latest of a series of vicious attacks on civilians, members of the Armed Islamic Group slashed and shot to death 11 female teachers in front of students Saturday. They also killed one male instructor who tried to stop the killing.

The militants have previously bombed schools and killed schoolgirls who refused to wear veils.


9/29/1997 - Criticism of Promise Keepers Rising

As the Oct. 4 rally at the Washington Mall quickly approaches, opponents of the evangelical men's organization Promise Keepers are speaking out.

The National Organization for Women is organizing an action during the Promise Keepers "Stand in the Gap" event this Saturday. The NOW group will stage their counter-protest very close to the Promise Keepers' stage, using large signs with quotes from the Promise Keepers leaders to expose the group's political agenda.

The NOW website features some comments from the Promise Keepers' leadership, such as Tony Evans' comment "I believe that feminists...are frustrated women unable to find the proper leadership." Both Evans and McCartney have stated their belief that women have too much influence in our already "effeminate" society. "The demise of our community and culture is the fault of sissified men who have been overly influenced by women," Evans said. Women are supposed to submit to men's leadership "even if we know they are wrong," said one female member of a women's Promise Keepers auxilliary. Diane Webber, whose husband Scott has become an ardent Promise Keeper, told the Washington Post that it was God's will that she should submit to Scott, who should lead the household. In an apparent criticism of feminists, Promise Keepers supporter S. Patrice Sheppard told the Post that God made her to be a "helpmate" and that "Women who belong to NOW tend to lean on their own understandings for survival, earn what men earn, do the same jobs as a man."

Alfred Ross, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy Studies, said the Promise Keepers' views of women will help to destroy families, not build them. "There are real problems in our society, but Promise Keepers is not a real answer for real men to solve real problems. The solution to a bad marriage is not to put your wife into submission."

Warren Hern, author and expert on late-term abortions, said McCartney offered "psychological protection" to those who made death threats and shot at the Boulder abortion clinic where Hern works. "I think this is a fascist movement," he said. "Coach McCartney is an absolutely primitive man who wants political power and has considerable political power. He's an incredibly ignorant man and a very bigoted man. He's poison."

With a $680,000 house in Boulder, almost $42,000 in speaker's fees from last year, and other unreported income, Promise Keepers leader Bill McCartney is being criticized for more than just his views on women, lesbians and gays. NOW cites enormous financial support from the Religious Right as evidence of Promise Keepers' political agenda. In Boulder, where he was once a $350,000-a-year football coach and publicly defended two of his players who had been charged with rape, some refer to him as "McCartney and his Penis Keepers." While McCartney fervently preaches against "sexual sin," which includes sex outside of marriage and the use of birth control, his unmarried daughter had two children by two of his players.

"Their call for 'submission' of women is one that doesn't have a place in either the pulpit or the public sphere in the 1990s," said NOW President Patricia Ireland.


9/26/1997 - WNBA May Expand to D.C., Detroit

The Women's National Basketball Association plans to announce next week that they may expand to Washington, D.C. and Detroit if those cities meet the approval of the NBA board of governors.

In order to join the eight-league team next summer, Washington and Detroit must solicit 3,000 season ticket commitments, local television and radio contracts, and must reserve $250,000 for promotions by Nov. 3.

Susan O'Malley, president of the Washington Wizards, said she thought Washington would embrace the opportunity to go for an expansion team, and that "There's a real level of excitement here."


9/26/1997 - Marv Albert Pleads Guilty to Assault and Battery

After three days of testimony that graphically recounted NBC sportscaster Marv Albert's unusual sex practices, from cross-dressing to group sex, Albert pleaded guilty to assault and battery for biting a 42-year-old woman with whom he had had a previous sexual relationship. He accepted a plea bargain in exchange for prosecutors dropping the more serious charge of forcible sodomy.

Albert faces up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine for biting the woman and forcing her to perform oral sex. The guilty plea came soon after the prosecution produced a second witness who alleged Albert had violently bitten her as well. DNA evidence proved that Albert had bitten the victim and engaged in intercourse with her, but the prosecution depended on proving that the encounter went far beyond what the woman wanted. After the guilty plea, NBC fired Albert.

Judy Mueller, executive director of the Women's Center in Vienna, VA said the case represented a victory for women because it "demonstrates that even in a consensual relationship, violence and assault are not acceptable."


9/26/1997 - Abortion Foes Will Protest RU-486

On September 27th, over 2,000 anti-abortion activists will descend upon 12 U.S. cities to protest RU-486 medical abortions.

Christopher Slatterly, head of Legal Defense for Life in Manhattan and organizer of the protest, called RU-486 "a chemical weapon against women and children." Demonstrations are planned at clinics with FDA-approved trials on a RU-486 clone. RU-486 has been used for years in France, Great Britain, and Sweden, where women have found it to be a safe, effective method of medical abortion.


9/26/1997 - Judge Defends Sexually Harassing Speech at KFC

In a ruling released earlier this month, Judge Charles Schaefer wrote that "Use of vulgar and obscene language and terms can serve to promote group solidarity" and that such language, used at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Wisconsin, was meant to "achieve a legitimate business goal."

KFC employee June Lauer left her $9.10-an-hour job after 13 years last summer because her managers referred to women managers as "bitches," discussed oral sex and male genitalia, and asked Lauer if she was "on the rag." One manager would announce on the store loudspeaker that he wanted to turn the KFC into a strip bar and that female employees should get tattoos of Col. Sanders on their breasts. She said their behavior caused her great stress and humiliation. "I don't feel anybody should have to put up with that kind of behavior," she said.

The ruling surprised even the KFC's owner Jim Bratley. He said he didn't know how Schaefer could think obscene and vulgar language would improve worker morale. "Management doesn't condone any of that," he said. The ruling has been appealed, and a sexual harassment complaint filed with Wisconsin's equal rights division is pending.


9/26/1997 - Many Nepal Women Dying, Imprisoned From Illegal Abortions

The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) stated Wednesday that Nepal has the highest maternal death rate among South Asian countries, with 515 deaths per 100,000 women. Abortion is illegal in Nepal, where 75% of women in jail are imprisoned for having an abortion.

FPAN said women were dying from illegal abortions and subsequent infections. FPAN said poverty, illiteracy, and lack of knowledge about family planning were the main reasons behind illegal abortions. FPAN is planning to increase their free family planning services to reach every district in the country.


9/26/1997 - 50 Million Chinese Females "Missing"

A study of women and health presented to the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Conference yesterday stated that sex-selective abortion, infanticide and neglect were responsible for China's skewed birth rate of 117 males for every 100 females.

The study revealed that despite the fact female babies naturally have better survival rates, more girls die in infancy because they are neglected, malnourished and mistreated while boy babies receive the best medical care.

The authors said that girls recieve less schooling than boys, are less literate, and are victims of pervasive violence. Each of these factors contributes to Chinese women's ignorance about health care. They said that gender discrimination of this kind "inhibit the assertive capacity of women in all aspects of life, affect their ability to institute changes and hamper their access to health-related information. Sex-role stereotyping begins at a very early age and contributes to girls and women being accorded lower status in many areas of life."


9/26/1997 - Lesbian British Nurses Sentenced in Saudi Arabia

British Nurses Lucille McLauchlan and Deborah Parry have been sentenced to 500 lashes with a whip and eight years in prison in Saudi Arabia for the murder of fellow nurse Yvonne Gilford, an Australian. Some accounts say that Gilford's family has reached a $1.2 settlement with Parry. If they do not reach a settlement, Parry and McLcuhlan face death by beheading. They would be the first Western women to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

The Western press has harshly criticized Islamic law for being unnecessarily barbaric. The Saudi law says that the family of the victim can take "blood money" from people sentenced to death in exchange for granting them clemency.

The details of the murder are unclear, with several confusing accounts regarding the exact nature of the relationships between the three women and the circumstances of her death, which occured during a fight between Parry and Gilford. McLauchlan said Parry and Gilford were in a lesbian relationship, but Parry denied it in one confession and admitted to it in another. She said Gilford had fallen on the knife she had intended to attack Parry with, but McLauchlan said Parry stabbed Gilford intentionally. McLauchlan claims innocence, but Parry says McLauchlan was the one to stab Gilford.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the 500 lashes were "wholly unacceptable in the modern world." Fouad Nahdi, editor-in-chief of the Islamic publication Q-News, said while he was critical of the Saudi regime, the British press was being unfair to Moslems. "Beheading is barbaric in Saudi Arabia but the death penalty and the electric chair in the U.S. is not?" he said.

The AFP offered several contradictory reports, some saying that a financial settlement had been reached, others saying it had not. Some articles said only Parry faced beheading, while others said McLachlan was the one. Gilford's family has apparently released several confusing statements regarding whether or not they had waived the right to demand the death penalty. The full details on the situation are currently unknown.


9/26/1997 - Women's Military Memorial To Open Soon

With the two-year, $21.5 million female-headed construction effort drawing to a close, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA) in Arlington National Cemetery will be dedicated Oct. 18. The WIMSA education center, honoring the 1.8 million women who have served in the U.S. armed forces, will feature a Hall of Honor, 14 display bays, a 196-seat theater and a computerized registry of members. The memorial area will also include a fountain, a reflecting pool and 11 etched glass tablets that light up at night.

Thirty-eight year old Margaret Van Voast, on-site project manager, was never in the military, but her experiences in the mostly-male construction industry gave her a common bond with the honored women. Van Voast, who with several other women managed the entire endeavor, from its construction to locating women veterans and fund-raising. She states, "This building is going to be a part of history, and we are a part of that history. It's pretty amazing to walk away and know that this will still be here generations from now."


9/26/1997 - Afghan Women Continue to Suffer After One Year of Taliban Rule

One year ago, on September 27, 1996, the Taliban extremist militia took over the Afghan capital city, Kabul, and made Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes. The Taliban banned women them from working, going to school, or leaving their homes without a close male relative. The Taliban claimed it would continue the women's paychecks and that the restrictions on women would eventually be lifted. However, paychecks to women stopped six months ago, and even in the cities of Herat and Kandahar, where the Taliban has ruled for two and three years, women are still under the same severe restrictions.

Foreign aid projects which provide food to Afghan widows and children have a hard time keeping up with the enormous numbers of people who need help because women cannot earn a living now. A high-ranking humanitarian official stated that up to 40 percent of aid cash spent in Kabul goes towards women's needs that did not exist before the Taliban entered the city.

The Taliban has hindered the work of these aid projects by issuing decrees that aid projects must not provide aid directly to women, but only through a male blood relative. It also temporarily closed down one feeding project when it was discovered that men were in the same compound -- but not in the same room -- as women attending a farewell dinner.

"One year ago many women expected things would change with UN and aid agency pressure, but what we've seen over the past year is them losing hope," said Niamh Murnaghan of the British relief group OXFAM. "Women are horribly depressed because they have had all social life and public interaction stripped away."


9/25/1997 - Grand Slam Cup May Allow Women

Grand Slam Cup tennis organizers said Tuesday that they would consider allowing women to play in the yearly tournament, which offers $6 million in prize money.

The Grand Slam Cup is reserved for the top players in each of the four Grand Slam events. Axel Meyer-Woelden, who founded the Cup in 1990 and recently died, had wanted women to participate in the Cup or to have their own version of the tournament. Tournament director Bill Dennis said Meyer-Woelden's plan was "definitely a good idea, and something we will work on."


9/25/1997 - Norway's Brundtland Seeks WHO Position

In her bid for director general of the World Health Organization, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland has hit the campaign trail.

In the next two months, she will visit WHO executive committee members in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan called Brundtland a "strong candidate" for the post, which will be decided at a WHO assembly in May.

Brundtland surprised Norwegians when she resigned as prime minister last October and did not run for Parliament this year. Improving health care has been a dream of hers since childhood. She said the WHO job combined her "whole life and experience and involvement in basic conditions in people's lives."