Search Feminist News by keyword
In response to United Nations demands that the Taliban ruling militia improve women's and girls' access to education in Afghanistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said that education for women "is a big infidel policy which gives such obscene freedom to women."
Currently, the Taliban controls two-thirds of Afghanistan, and has banned women and girls from working, going to school, and leaving their homes without a close male relative. Omar said that more rights for women would result in adultery and the destruction of Islam.
11/21/1997 - Statement of Chief Penny Harrington,Director of National Center for Women & Policing,In Support of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
Washington DC -- My name is Chief Penny Harrington, and I direct the National Center for Women & Policing, a Division of the Feminist Majority Foundation. I am the former Chief of Police of Portland, Oregon, and I was the first woman in the nation to become the chief of police in a major city. I have served as a member of the Gender Equity Task Force, a position appointed by the Los Angeles Police Commission, and I have testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on gender issues and policing. I make this statement in support of the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
For several years I had the opportunity to work with Bill Lann Lee while he represented women and minorities in employment discrimination claims against the Los Angeles Police Department. As a member of the Women's Advisory Council to the Los Angeles Police Commission, I co-chaired both the Sexual Harassment Committee and the Recruitment, Hiring, and Promotion Committee. The committees identified obstacles to the full utilization of female officers in the Los Angeles Police Department and made recommendations for implementing gender equity.
It is well documented that female officers have been subjected to discrimination within the Los Angeles Police Department for several decades. The Christopher Commission report concluded there was widespread gender bias in the department, which resulted in underutilization of female officers. More recently, the Mark Fuhrman Task Force Report documented a hostile work environment for women and minorities, including the operation of the group, "Men Against Women." I, personally, have interviewed dozens of female police officers working for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bill Lann Lee represented many of these female officers in the Tipton lawsuit, which involved sex discrimination in hiring, promotion, pay, and assignment. The Tipton lawsuit also claimed sexual harassment and retaliation against female police officers. The evidence in that case included a litany of hostile and offensive acts perpetrated by male officers against their female counterparts. These acts included unwelcome sexual advances and propositions, sexual and racial jokes, offensive name-calling, the posting of sexually suggestive photographs and drawings in the workplace, the touching or grabbing of female officers, and even rape. Many, if not all, of the women's complaints of harassment were ignored or never resolved. Female victims who complained were often retaliated against by failing to advance within the department, threatened with misconduct, or subjected to more of the same hostile behavior.
Throughout Bill Lann Lee's representation of the female officers in this lawsuit, he was recognized as a fair-minded, reasonable lawyer who advanced his clients' interests within the confines of the law. Even the opposing counsel in the Tipton lawsuit, Robert Cramer, wrote that he "respected Bill's candor, his thorough preparation, his sense of ethical behavior, and his ability to bring persons holding diverse views into agreement."
I have known Bill Lann Lee for several years and respect his legal skills and his ethical manner of dealing with people. I wholeheartedly support the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
Statement of Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal on U.S. Implications of Canadian Anti-Abortion Terrorism
Washington DC -- Dr. Jack Fainman, a Canadian OB/GYN in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was shot through a window in his home just after 9:00pm on November 11, 1997. Officials report that the shot, fired by a sniper hiding outside of Dr. Fainman's home, tore through the doctor's right shoulder. Missing his heart by only inches, the blast reportedly left Dr. Fainman wounded but in stable condition.
These repeated, now predictable, attacks in Canada against abortion providers should serve as a warning to the United States. As we move into our own historically explosive period -- the holiday season -- abortion providers, their staff, and clients; law enforcement officials; and the pro-choice community should be on alert and increase security. Currently, Canadian and American pro-choice groups are calling for greater cooperation between Canadian and United States authorities in combating anti-abortion terrorism and investigating this, the latest attack in a campaign of terror.
"These terrible shootings seem designed to 'take out' specific abortion providers and scare off other doctors who might otherwise provide this legitimate medical procedure for women," said Jo Dufay, the Executive Director of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL). It is a miracle no one has been killed by these vicious attacks," Dufay continued. "Some extremists will go to any lengths to oppose a woman's right to choose," concluded Dufay.
Pro-choice sources in Canada believe the shootings could be caused or inspired by United States anti-abortion terrorists. Canadian laws severely restrict the purchase and/or possession of firearms, including the high-powered rifles used in each of the attempted murders. Our research confirms the anti-choice extremists' broad range of travel. Each of the cities, Vancouver, Hamilton, and Winnipeg are easily reachable from cities near the U.S. border.
This sniper style attack marks the third of its kind in Canada in four years, each surrounding Canada's Remembrance Day. On November 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot in his home in Vancouver with a high-powered rifle by a sniper hiding outside, and on November 10, 1995, Dr. Hugh Short suffered a similar attack. To date, neither of these cases has been solved.
Last year's holiday season, marred by a late December stabbing of an abortion provider in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a New Year's Day bombing of a Tulsa, Oklahoma clinic, launched what has become a year of intense violence, reaching one of the highest levels since 1973.
Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) are planning a trip to Afghanistan to investigate the situation of women's human rights. Maloney and Rohrabacher made the announcement at a House Human Rights Caucus briefing on October 30. The Representatives, who sponsored a House resolution condemning the Taliban's discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan, also plan to write letters to the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, asking them to stop supporting and arming the Taliban.
Testifying at the briefing were Sima Wali, president of Refugee Women in Development; Rona Popal, President of Afghan Women Association International; Momina Qaiyomi, an Afghan nurse who lived under Taliban rule; and Zieba Shorish-Shamley, Director of the Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan. Qaiyomi testified that when the Taliban took over Jalalabad, where she lived, "they closed and put big locks on schools and hospitals." She saw a veiled woman and her husband being beaten with metal cables by the Taliban because a bit of the woman's feet were showing. She also witnessed the Taliban killing people by slitting their throats.
The House resolution on Afghan human rights is expected to pass next week. The Senate has already passed a similar resolution.
Take Action: Support Women's Human Rights in Afghanistan
10/31/1997 - Clinic Bomber Gets Life Sentence
For his role in bombing a Planned Parenthood clinic bombing, a newspaper office and a bank, as well as a bank robbery, alleged white separatist Verne Jay Merrell was sentenced yesterday to two life terms in prison without parole.
Merrell does not recognize federal authority and refused to stand for his sentencing. His defense lawyer plans to appeal both the conviction and the sentence.
Prosecutors said Merrell, along with the three other convicted men who were involved in the bombings and robbery, were members of a religious white separatist order opposed to homosexuality and mixed-race marriages.
On Thursday, October 30, members of Congress and representatives of the Asian-Pacific, Hispanic, African-American, and women¹s communities gathered on the Capitol lawn to voice their support for President Clinton¹s nominee for the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Bill Lann Lee.
Leading the way, Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii), chair of the Asian Pacific Caucus denounced opposition to Lee's nomination and pledged to support the civil rights nominee . "The Congressional Asian-Pacific Caucus is especially proud to support the confirmation of Bill Lann Lee," stated Mink, "He brings to this office the practical experience of an accomplished civil rights lawyer coupled with a deep understanding of and commitment to the human quest for equality." Joining Mink in her endorsement of Lee was Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chair of the Black Caucus, Xavier Beccera (D-Calif.), Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, other members of Congress and Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.
Lee is currently serving the State of California as the Western Regional Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. If confirmed, he will be the first Asian-American to serve in the position of Assistant Attorney for Civil Rights.
Nominated on July 21, 1997, Lee has faced criticism from Newt Gingrich and his Republican colleagues because of his support for affirmative action. Attorney General Janet Reno voiced support for Lee, stating "Bill Lee is a superbly qualified lawyer who epitomizes the American Dream. It would be a grave mistake, holding him hostage to political disagreements over policy."
10/31/1997 - San Francisco Law Firms Pledge to End Hiring From UC
In response to the plummeting minority enrollments at University of California law schools, San Francisco's top attorneys issued an ultimatum Wednesday. Representatives from 50 leading law firms and San Francisco's Bar Association said they would no longer hire UC graduates unless the school admits more students of color.
The group criticized UC because minority enrollment at Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles law schools dropped to almost nothing after the UC system ended its affirmative action program.
Attorney James Brosnahan asked if the UC Board of Regents intended "to tell the legal employers in the Bay Area that they will not be graduating minority lawyers in any great numbers any more?" Lawyer Steve Dunham said "A profession that doesn't reflect the citizens it serves doesn't work. We need diversity. Clients demand it, and the law firms must respond."
The group delivered a "Statement of Commitment" to the law school deans on Tuesday, saying that they would increase recruiting and interviewing at schools with diverse applicant pools.
UC Regent Ward Connerly disapproved of the lawyer's actions. "If you really want to hire a certain number of blacks, Latinos and people from Mars, employers should go out and give them scholarships when they're still in grades K-12, so the kids can become competitive," he said.
Lindbergh Porter, Jr., who is president-elect of the San Francisco bar and an African-American, said admissions committees should stop relying so heavily on test scores and grades. "We have to look at the individual to see who would make a good lawyer. When we hire attorneys, we rarely look at the indexes of how they scored. We as employers interview and look at the whole person."
On Thursday morning, Representatives Nancy Johnson (R-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) in conjunction with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, co-chaired a congressional hearing on women's access to contraceptive technology. At the hearing, members of Congress urged support for legislation which would require insurance companies to include contraceptives among prescription drugs already covered. The hearing began with opening statements from Johnson and Norton focusing on obstacles to the development and use of contraception.
Panelists Dr. Paula Adams Hillard, OB-GYN, a professor in the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati and Dr. Elizabeth Karlin, Director of the Women¹s Medical Center in Madison, Wis., provided testimony on the many forces that can limit access to effective contraception. Among the obstacles to contraceptive use cited by panelists was the cost of birth control methods, ineffective contraception, misinformation on the dangers of contraceptives, lack of insurance coverage, lack of provider training in contraception and the lack of contraceptive research and development.
Karlin said doctors often contribute to this culture and its consequences. She stressed the importance of contraceptive education in medical schools, since most medical schools teach nothing about contraception, and rely on outside pharmaceutical companies to train ob/gyn students. Doctors' ignorance and unwillingness to educate themselves and their patients about contraceptives was made very clear as Dr. Karlin told of tragedies created by misinformation given by untrained physicians.
She described one of her patients, an 18-year-old who had been on Depo-Provera for a year. When she missed an injection and became pregnant, she told Karlin that her doctor told her Depo-Provera prevented pregnancy for two years after one injection. Another woman told Karlin that her doctor refused to sterilize her when her first pregnancy caused a stroke. When she began taking birth control pills, she developed pre-stroke symptoms and had to stop taking them. Pregnant for the second time and at great risk, she asked her doctor about abortion. He refused to either perform one or refer her to another physician.
Other witnesses such as Dr. Florence Haseltine, director of the Center for Population Research, and Roderick Mackenzie, CEO of Gynetics, Inc., testified that family planning is much cheaper than the costs of unintended pregnancies, and that the U.S. has by far the highest rates of unwanted pregnancies and STDs among any industrialized nation. Women are sterilized twice as often as men, and men usually only get vasectomies at their wife's urging. One witness asked why men were not taking more responsibility for birth control. She said that although there have been two huge men's marches in D.C. in the past couple of years, she wondered why they did not discuss "which kind of condom is more comfortable" or "which is better, scalpel or no-scalpel vasectomy." "Lara," a graduate student, testified that every form of birth control she had ever used caused her serious health problems, and called for more contraceptive research.
Congresswomen at the hearing agreed with the panelists, and reaffirmed their commitment to making contraception a part of basic health insurance and health care, given that almost everyone in the country will need birth control at some point in his or her life.
10/31/1997 - Light Punishment for Israeli Rapist
In Israel, a man who raped and sodomized a pregnant woman received a light sentence because the assault was "extremely brief," said judges. Although the woman was late into her pregnancy, and the rape could have severely injured her and her baby, judges gave Reuven Vaknin a brief three-year jail sentence.
10/31/1997 - Indonesian Maid's Life Spared in Saudi Arabia
A Saudi Arabian court has spared an Indonesian maid from having her head cut off as a punishment for murder. The woman, Nasiroh, was convicted of shooting her male employer to death in 1994. She reportedly confessed to a closed court, even though Saudi police say she did not even know how to fire a gun. The wife of the victim has forgiven Nasiroh and exempted her from making a "blood money" payment. Her sentence was reduced to five years in prison.
Human and women's rights activists and Indonesians protested the Saudi closed judicial system. Indonesian and Filipina women often work illegally in Saudi Arabia as maids and servants. There have been many reports of widespread sexual and physical abuse of the women by their Saudi employers.
10/31/1997 - Mary McAleese Leads Irish Election
With votes from most of the Irish constituencies in, Mary McAleese of the Fianna Fail party will be the next president of Ireland.
McAleese was the first choice of 45% of the voters, while her closest competitor Mary Banotti trailed with about 30% of the vote. Banotti conceded defeat this afternoon. McAleese campaigned for reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants.
This year's race was unusual for Ireland because four women and only one man ran for the presidency. Although a neon sign on Ireland's City Hall reads "It'd be much better for the world to be governed by the women in it," from James Joyce's "Ulysses," women make up less than one-eighth of the lower Parliament, take home 61.3% of men's pay, and are still underrepresented in management positions.
10/30/1997 - Promise Keepers Founder Neglected Family, Says Wife
Lyndi McCartney, wife of Promise Keepers' founder Bill McCartney, revealed in a New York Times interview that her husband was frequently absent from home even while preaching to men that they should treasure their wives and families.
The Promise Keepers, a male-only evangelical Christian group, preaches that women should submit to their husbands, and that in return husbands would agree to become more actively involved with their families. But according to his wife, Bill McCartney did not practice what he preached -- he worked constantly, coaching college football teams and founding the Promise Keepers. He was like a plumber, said his wife. "A plumber never fixes anything at home. He's always out fixing everyone else's plumbing." McCartney's son said of his father, "we knew we were loved, but day-to-day he wasn't present."
In 1993, Lyndi McCartney spent the year suffering from bulimia and lost 80 pounds; her husband just thought she was on a diet. Bill gave up his coaching contract in 1994 and now tries to come home by 4:00 p.m., but Lyndi says "We've still got a long way to go" and was amazed on a recent vacation that they were able to talk to each other for three hours.
10/30/1997 - Sydney Olympic Games to Include Women's Water Polo
Women's water polo will be played at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, thanks to the efforts of Australian women players, who led a successful campaign for the sport's inclusion. The campaign included a picket at Sydney Airport in which the athletes, decked out in their swimming costumes, protested to visiting officials.
"It's just an unbelievable feeling. It's not every day that your dreams come true," said Liz Weekes, goalkeeper for the Australian women's team
10/30/1997 - Women Avoiding Pap Smears, Study Says
Almost 40% of American women did not have a Pap smear in the past year, according to a study by the College of American Pathologists.
The national survey showed that although nearly 90% of women over 18 knew they should be tested for cervical cancer each year, many did not find the time to do it. Other reasons women cited for not getting the test were that they were "too old," "embarrassed," "afraid of the results," that they disliked the doctor, or found the procedure too expensive. The study also revealed that older, poorer and less-educated women were least likely to have an annual gynecological exam. Almost half of all women over age 50 did not have a Pap smear in the past year, despite the fact that over half of all cervical cancers are discovered in older women. The researchers also found that about 40% of women did not know that cervical cancer develops over several years. "This is why an annual exam is critical: so that abnormalities can be caught and treated before they become cancerous," the study said.
In a Pap smear, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix to be examined by a lab, which checks the cells for abnormalities. Before the Pap test was developed after WWII, cervical cancer was the cancer most likely to kill American women. Since then, deaths from cervical cancer have dropped 70%. Today, 80% of the women who die of cervical cancer did not have a Pap smear for at least 5 years before their diagnosis.
To find out if the lab that analyzes your Pap smear test is accredited by the College of American Pathologists, call 1-800-LAB-5678.
10/30/1997 - Mathematician Mina Rees Dies
Mina Rees, a noted mathematician and the first woman to head the American Association for the Advancement of Science died at age 95 on Saturday.
In addition to more than ten years of teaching at Hunter College, Rees served as a presidential appointee to the National Science Foundation board and was later elected president, was head of math and later deputy director of the science division at the Office of Naval Research, and was the first dean of graduate studies at the City University of New York, where she was also a founding president of the Graduate School and University Center.
Rees studied rocketry and fluid flow on submarines, in addition to pure algebra. She received the President's Certificate of Merit and the British Medal for Service in Defense of Freedom.
10/30/1997 - NBA Hires First Full-Time Female Refs
On Tuesday, the National Basketball Association named Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner as two of five additional full-time referees hired for the upcoming basketball season, which is scheduled to open this Friday. The NBA decision, lauded as a groundbreaking move by sports enthusiasts and women's rights activists, marks the first time in U.S. pro sports that women officials will referee regular season games in an all-male league.
NBA vice president of basketball operations Rod Thorn stated that he was aware of the positive social significance of the decision, but stressed that gender had not been a factor; Palmer and Kantner had been chosen for their exceptional skill level. "In my opinion, they are among the best referees I can get."
Kantner played basketball while attending the University of Pittsburgh on a field hockey scholarship. Since graduating in 1982, Kantner has worked as a NCAA and international referee for more than a decade and has worked the last three NCAA women's championship games.
Palmer captained the basketball team at Cal Poly Pomona and began refereeing playground recreation games and high school games after her graduation in 1986. She later moved on to college basketball, where she has been officiating for eight years, along with working two NCAA women's semifinals and the past two NCAA women's championships.
Out of the four major U.S. sports leagues, the NBA is the first and only league to employ female referees. The National Hockey, Major league Baseball, and National Football Leagues have never hired female referees. Major League Soccer has used women as officials occasionally, but not on a full-basis. In this context, the NBA's long overdue decision to hire female referees is truly a landmark.
10/30/1997 - Asian Prostitutes, AIDS Experts Demand Condom Use
At the 4th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific yesterday, a group of prostitutes said that if men would wear condoms, the spread of AIDS could be slowed.
The sex workers told the conference in Manila that AIDS was not spread by prostitution, but by unsafe working conditions. "You need at least 20 minutes to negotiate condom use," said Khantini Slahnaih, a male prostitute from Malaysia. He said that sex workers often were forced into their jobs by poverty. "There are a lot of people thinking we like to sell our bodies. It's not true." Slahnaih also demanded that authorities end their harassment of prostitutes, including rape, assault, extortion and other humiliations. The sex workers also spoke out against Taipei's recent criminalization of prostitution, and said they were ordinary people who needed medical coverage and other job benefits.
A government study released in New Delhi on Sunday showed that only 3% of Indian men use condoms. The Indian Health Organisation estimates that a quarter of a million Indians have AIDS, and another 5 million have HIV.
Other experts said that, despite governmental promotion, condom use is still low. In Bangladesh, only 4.4% of men use condoms despite three decades of government promotion. In New Guinea, less than one-third of stores sell condoms, and more than half of those sell condoms that have passed their expiration date. An officer for UN AIDS in Vietnam said that prostitutes were unlikely to use condoms, in hopes of getting bigger tips, or because they couldn't afford them.
At the conference on Sunday, experts stated that the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS was being opposed in many Asian countries. Paula Kelly, an AIDS coordinator for CARE in Vietnam, said that "programs telling women to insist on condoms are a waste of time and money" because "insistence on condom use can easily be the precursor of violence" by men against women. Religious groups also posed problems, said Peter Piot of the U.N Program on AIDS. Before the conference, the Catholic church in Manila issued statements against using condoms to stop AIDS. "I don't expect the Catholic church to actively promote condoms (as long as) it doesn't object to them. I expect them not to be an obstacle," said Piot.
LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.
10/30/1997 - New "Magic Bullet" Cancer Treatment
New Scientist Magazine described a genetically engineered "magic bullet" that may effectively many common cancers. Initial tests reveal that the "magic bullets" effectively treated adenocarcinomas, which are found in cancers of the lung, ovary, breast, colon, and prostate. The bullets injecting tumors with a deadly bacterial toxin, killing the cancerous cells without harming the healthy surrounding tissue.
The "magic bullet" was developed by Jerusalem-based Medical Targeting Recognition Technologies. Clinical trials with colon cancer patients may commence by early 1999.
10/30/1997 - U.S. Census to Record Multi-Racial Ancestry
Franklin Raines, director of the U.S. government's Office of Management and Budget, announced Wednesday that the next U.S. census will not include a "multi-racial" category. Respondents will instead be allowed to check all the racial categories that make up their heritage. OMB officials believe that this change, along with the creation of new racial categories and the reclassification of others, will result in a more specific and accurate analysis of the U.S. population.
Past census questionnaires allowed respondents to list only one racial category. Growing numbers of mixed-race citizens prompted government officials to change this policy. The number of children in bi- or multi-racial families increased over 4 times from 1970 to 1990, from less than 500,000 to 2 million children.
The OMB's new policies will govern the census of 2000 and will be used in all federal statistical programs by 2003. Census statistics are used to determine district seats in Congress and legislatures and to verify enforcement of civil rights measures. The statistics are also used widely by private and public researchers to measure social and economic patterns.
10/29/1997 - ABC Again Puts Parental Advisory on Ellen
Lesbian and gay rights supporters are once again criticizing ABC after the network reversed its earlier decision to discontinue the use of parental advisory warnings on the TV show Ellen. Two weeks ago, activists protested the use of the advisory warnings, claiming ABC's application of the warnings was unfair and discriminatory. ABC backed down from its position and removed the warnings from Ellen's next episode. ABC has now stated that it will use parental advisory warnings on future episodes. Arguing that other heterosexual TV shows are far more sexually explicit, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is protesting ABC's decision, maintaining that the advisory sets a double standard for gays and lesbians.
10/29/1997 - Women in the Military: British Women To Serve On Front Lines, American Women's Fitness Standards Raised
Britain's women soldiers will now be allowed to have certain jobs on the front lines, Defense Secretary George Robertson said. Seventy percent of jobs will now be opened to women, up from 47% previously. New job opportunities include forward radio operators, combat engineers and artillery gunners.
"If we are to properly modernize our armed forces, we must also bring our personnel policies up to date. The armed forces must represent the society they defend if they are not to become isolated from it," said Robertson.
Women comprise about 6.3% of the British Army. Robertson has also launched a study into whether or not women should be allowed to fight in combat.
In another military policy decision, the U.S. Army announced it will raise the minimum physical fitness standards for women in order to reflect the better athletic performances of women today.
Men's requirements will not change, but the increased minimums for women will bring the different requirements closer together. For example, both sexes will be required to do the same number of push-ups and sit-ups in two minutes.
10/29/1997 - Dutch Panel Supports Gay Marriage
A Parliamentary committee in the Netherlands recommended yesterday that full civil marriage and parenting rights be granted to same-sex couples.
They found that "same sex couples can only be afforded equal treatment if they are allowed to enter into civil marriage. These members do not view the new type of marriage as a break with tradition. After all, marriage has always been a flexible institution which kept pace with social change."
The recommendation could be enacted in early 1998, at the same time that same-gender partner registration will go into effect. This registration will recognize couples but does not allow parental and adoption rights.
10/29/1997 - Women's Groups Demand NIKE End Sweatshop Labor
The Feminist Majority, along with the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, and other women's groups, held a news conference deploring the use of sweatshops in Vietnam, Indonesia and China by NIKE. NIKE has spent hundreds of millions marketing to women with empowering advertising about women and girls in sports, but at the same time has used sweatshops to produce their sports products. Over a dozen women's groups and individual women, including the Coalition of Labor Union Women and author Alice Walker, signed a letter to NIKE president Philip Knight asking him to use just 10% of NIKE's advertising budget to improve working conditions for factory workers, 80% to 90% of whom are women.
"The message in NIKE's women's empowerment ads is strong," said Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal at a press conference to release the letter, "but there's a disconnect between that message and the way NIKE pays and treats it workers."
The campaign against NIKE, organized by Global Exchange, reveals that sweatshop workers are paid less than a livable wage, are forced to work 12 hours a day, six days a week as well as frequent overtime, and are subject to verbal and physical abuse, unsafe working conditions, and sexual harassment. For example Vietnamese workers are paid $1.60 per day, when three basic Vietnamese meals cost $2.10 a day. The workers often live six to a small, cramped room and receive food from their relatives in the countryside in order to survive. Many of the workers are teenagers. Workers are often prohibited from talking and are allowed only one bathroom break per eight-hour shift, and only two drinks of water. Workers who break rules or make mistakes are punished by fines and/or by corporal punishment: being made to stand or run in the sun, being made to kneel down with hands in the air. Workers lose fingers and hands in unsafe machinery, and are regularly exposed to the carcinogenic chemical benzene, which has been banned in the U.S.
"These girls can't even eat three square meals or go to school, let alone wear NIKE shoes and play sports," said Smeal. "NIKE is robbing them of their lives."
A letter to NIKE, signed by the women's groups, demands that workers to be paid at least $3.00 per day. It also calls for workers to meet regularly with independent monitors who would make sure the factory is obeying safety and overtime laws. For more information or to sign on to the letter, contact Kim Miyoshi at Global Exchange: 415-255-7296. Or see the Global Exchange Web site: http://www.globalexchange.org.
10/29/1997 - Japan May Legalize The Pill
A government panel recommended Tuesday that Japan end its decades-old ban and legalize birth control pills.
Because of a legal loophole that allows birth control pills to be prescribed for menstrual pain, an estimated 200,000 Japanese women already use them. However, they must take higher-dose pills than ones that are made in the U.S., which leads to a higher risk of side effects.
Japan may legalize birth control pills next year, but remains worried that the use of oral contraceptives would decrease the use of condoms and therefore lead to an increase in AIDS. Japan is the only industrialized country that bans birth control pills for the purpose of contraception, although they have a huge abortion industry. Studies show that most Japanese women are ignorant about oral contraceptives.
LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will introduce the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act tomorrow at a press conference. The bill would make benefits such as health insurance and retirement benefits available to the domestic partners of federal employees.
Some of the bill's co-sponsors, Nita Lowey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Furse (D-Ore.) Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.), among others, will be present, as well as representatives from supporting organizations. Supporters include federal employee labor unions, gay, lesbian and bisexual rights groups, religious and educational groups and businesses in the private sector.
The bill would allow domestic partners who are financially responsible for one another to participate in retirement programs, have access to life and health insurance, and receive compensation for work-related injuries -- things which are all currently available to spouses of federal employees.