The Sacramento Bee reports that from 2006 to 2010, nearly 150 female inmates in California prisons were sterilized, often agreeing to the procedure after coercion from prison staff. Former inmates and prison workers claim that medical staff pressured women into tubal ligations; most of the patients were repeat offenders with multiple children already. The revelation has drawn comparisons to the retired practice of sterilizing prisoners and the mentally ill, which was outlawed in California in 1979. Prison officials claim it was a matter of the women's health, and also helped prevent women gaming the system by returning to prison for better healthcare.
July 9, 2013 11:11 AM
Though there has been increased legislative attention to sexual assault in the military, the Coast Guard often gets left out. The surprising reason? The Coast Guard isn't technically part of the military branch, so none of the laws being passed or talked about apply to them. Meanwhile, sexual assault victims in the service are suffering; out at sea, harassment victims in the Guard have access to only flimsy support systems to handle both the situation, and their psychological health. Many accusers are diagnosed with personality disorders and discharged, in numbers that quadruple the military's discharge rate.
July 2, 2013 4:05 PM
In a marked change from the original revolution, Egyptian women constitute roughly half of the protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where they are calling for change. For two years, Tahrir Square has gained notoriety as an unsafe zone of intense assault, where local women as well as foreign reporters have been publicly raped. Despite the danger, women have joined the throngs of protestors rallying in the square. Monitoring groups report that on Sunday alone, nearly 50 women were attacked.
July 2, 2013 4:03 PM
Mothers in the U.S. are the second-youngest in the developed world on average, after Mexico. Though the age of giving birth in the States has been rising for years, largely due to increased participation of women in the labor force, things have taken a decided dip: in 2009, the latest conducted study, the average age of a new mother was 25. Mexico's mothers tipped in in at 21 years of age, and women from Germany and Britain were the oldest, at 30.
July 2, 2013 4:02 PM
The Netherlands has had legal prostitution for decades, but new restrictions may be coming soon. Politicians say that while they initially legalized the sex trade to stem trafficking, trafficking rates have held steady. The proposed measures don't outlaw prostitution, but all prostitutes would be required to register with the government and somehow prove they are not being coerced. "For something as simple as the lust for sex, we are tolerating modern-day slavery," said Myrthe Hilkens, a Labor Party legislator and supporter of the bill. Critics say that registering could violate the privacy of the prostitutes, who may prefer to keep their profession secret.
July 1, 2013 11:00 AM
America's maternity costs are the highest in the world, according to the New York Times. From prenatal through newborn care, the average cost of an American pregnancy is $37,341, says the paper. While the U.S. offers some of the most comprehensive care in the world, it also subjects mothers to a battery of fees for various procedures. Health care costs for delivering mothers and their children have tripled since 1996.
July 1, 2013 10:58 AM
In one of her last acts in-office, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has slashed the price of RU486, the pill used to induce abortion within the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Formerly upwards of $60 USD, the pill is now only $11 USD for health care card-holders. The measure will also fund a round-the-clock hotline for any women experiencing pain or other warning symptoms after the termination. Gillard, who is expected to step down soon to a male colleague, has been at the center of a national debate about sexism in politics.
July 1, 2013 10:55 AM
Muslim leaders in the UK have unilaterally condemned sexual grooming, the practice of cultivating a relationship with a child to sexually exploit him or her. Leaders across the nation read a sermon Friday morning drawing attention to the Koran's call to protect the innocent, and they urged Muslims to speak out if they see inappropriate behavior. Sexual abuse is a hot-button topic right now; Thursday, a child sex ring , made up of seven Muslim men, was arrested in Oxford. In response, Muslim leaders have sprung into action. "We have been horrified by the details that have emerged from recent court cases and, as Muslims, we feel a natural responsibility to condemn and tackle this crime," said Ansar Ali, a Muslim spokesman for TAG, an NGO that focuses on stamping out sexual grooming.
June 28, 2013 1:01 PM
The fight over abortion rights in the United States is well publicized, but in the rest of the world, things are much, much worse, a New York Times column reminds. Nearly 25 per cent of the world—large parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa—face highly restrictive abortion laws...in tandem with the highest global abortion rates. The Guttamacher Institute, an organization for reproductive health, says there were 4.4 million abortions in Latin America in 2008, and a staggering 95 percent of those were performed in unhygenic conditions using unsafe methods.
June 28, 2013 1:00 PM
Lost in Translation
By city law, the NYPD is required to provide translation services to anyone who needs them, but according to several Spanish-speaking women, the cops didn't get the message. The Wall Street Journal reports that five Hispanic women filed a lawsuit following separate domestic violence incidents in which the responding officers spoke only English and listened to a modified version of events from the women's abusive partners, with no attempt to find an interpreter. In some cases, the victim who made the call was almost arrested herself. Legal Services NYC and Violence Intervention Program are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit
June 28, 2013 12:57 PM
A recent Human Rights Watch report reveals that many women involved in the Syrian revolution have been arrested and held without charge. Prison conditions are horrific, and the women are often subjected to abuse. It's estimated that 54,000 women were incarcerated at one point or another, and 750 remain in custody. To protect themselves, many Syrian women have gone into hiding or left the country entirely.
June 28, 2013 12:54 PM
If you walk into most retail clothing stores, you wouldn't guess from looking around that more women in the US wear a size 16 dress than those that wear size 0 or 2 added together. Online retailer Modcloth surveyed 5,000 women about their size and shopping, and found that most stores minimize one of the largest parts of their audience. Almost all shops offered more sizing variety online than they do in their physical outlets, which could help explain Modcloth's finding that size 16s and above are twice as likely to shop online as their smaller counterparts.
June 25, 2013 2:43 PM
Sex scandals are nothing new for politicians, enough so that Anthony Weiner feels comfortable putting his behind him and running for office. The New York City mayor candidate has turned his past indiscretions into punchlines on the campaign trail—but the women he exchanged messages with say they've become the butt of the joke. The New York Times reports that the five women who were embroiled in the scandal are still suffering career and personal repercussions, enduring taunting and badgering from coworkers, press, and even just strangers. One woman was forced to leave school, while another admits to drinking regularly to cope. Yet another was fired, and is now writing a book about her experiences. They all say the mayoral run is stirring up fresh attention to the two-year old scandal, and has renewed harassment of them.
June 25, 2013 2:41 PM
A new study conducted for the Washington Post challenges the theory that voters care how female politicians look. For the study, The Post wrote sarticles about fictional male and female candidates, slightly altering the descriptions of the candidate in each. They found that negative or positive descriptions affected respondents' affinity for each candidate equally, and in the case of negative descriptors, the male candidate fared worse. Jezebel fired back with a sarcasm-laden piece calling the study unconvincing.
June 25, 2013 2:40 PM
In Egypt, the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, characterized by fasting, is also a time for…tv watching?
During the monthlong observance, Egyptian viewers devour soap operas, many of which are specially made for the period. But one new miniseries, Coffee Shop, has set off alarm bells, since it is being made with an entirely male cast and crew. Liberal Egyptians worry that the show reflects a rise in conservatism, but the show's creators say that most soap operas are oversexualized, and their creation displays a creativity and commitment to values that will help society. Yara Goubran, an Egyptian actress, sides with concerned progressives. “An all-male show can't be reflective of society if it doesn't have any women," she says.
June 25, 2013 2:33 PM
When Chuck Slaughter started Living Goods, he was looking not only to save lives, but help others make a living. Ambitious, to be sure, but his two birds, one stone approach has worked. A medical nonprofit he founded in Uganda in 2007, Living Goods relies on the “Avon lady” distribution model of buying life-saving medicine in bulk and selling locally. Living Goods provides local women with startup money and training, giving them the means to supplement their incomes. Due to the surplus of counterfeit drugs on the market, the Living Goods salespeople's low-cost wares are a more trustworthy option for Ugandans.
June 24, 2013 4:26 PM
Leader of the pack
On June 24, Bolivia's Constitutional Court will review a challenge calling for a broader protection of women's overall rights, including the right to abortion The ruling will be an important benchmark for Bolivia and South America at large, which has strict abortion laws, but has also had a number of high-profile cases that have drawn international attention—and criticism—to the restrictions. Even though abortion is specifically under the microscope, the challenge also encompasses laws regarding rape. Sexual violence is widespread in Bolivia; 4 out of 10 women have been assaulted. Many of the women who seek abortions became pregnant by way of rape. Technically, there is a procedure in place legalizing abortions in the case of rape, but since 2006 only one abortion has been approved by the measure.
June 24, 2013 4:25 PM
When pageant queens gain fame, it's often for negative reasons, as when Miss South Carolina and Miss Utah scrambled their answers in the Q&A segment of Miss USA. Not so with the ten-year-old Miss You Can Do It pageant, the subject of an HBO documentary premiering on June 24. Founded by Abbey Curran, a former Miss Iowa and the first Miss USA contestant with a disability, the pageant gives the stage to young girls with a variety of mental and physical challenges. “I was brought up my entire life that you don’t look, you don’t stare, you don’t ask, you sort of pretend they’re not there,” documetary director Ron Davis sys. “This pageant blows every preconceived notion out of the water about what a pageant could and should be about. This one is about empowering these little girls, about celebrating what is right about them; it’s about celebrating their beauty on the inside.”
June 24, 2013 4:22 PM
Bringing Down the Gavel
The UN has passed a resolution labeling wartime rape a crime agains humanity in an effort to prevent a historically overlooked yet chronic problem. While there are systems set up to support rape victims, not enough is being done to prevent rape, says actress and longtime refugee advocate Angelina Jolie. She appeared before the Security Council, telling officials that if they “set rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority it will become one.” Under the new measures, the UN will increase efforts to monitor sexual violence and process rapists through their justice system, as well as counting rape as a contributing act of genocide.
June 24, 2013 4:21 PM
In a working condition
“You know, a man could come back from a ski accident and it's like, 'Let me get you an ergonomically designed chair,' " said Dina Bakst, co-founder of a Better Balance, which advocates for low-income women and families. Pregnant women aren't so lucky. Because pregnancy isn't technically a disability, pregnant workers are often forced to endure taxing working conditions—or hit the road. Many avoid fiiing with the Human Rights Commission out of fear of backlash from the employer, or for the simple fact the ruling can take weeks to months to come through—too late for most women. Governor Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda hopes to change the conditions by explicitly targeting pregnancy discrimination. The bill is up for a vote later this month.
June 21, 2013 3:44 PM
When a sexual assault victim reports a rape, there are many factors which can count against them in court. Why did they show no emotion, or even laugh? Why can't they recall specific details? How can they be believed if they can't even form a concrete timeline of events? Often, these signs cast doubt on the legitimacy of the reports—but now, neurobiology research has formed a more complete picture of how trauma operates, and the research is being disseminated to help the first responders—police officers—understand the reactions. “That’s simply because their brain has encoded it in this fragmented way,” says David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and forensic consultant. Two-week trainings are being offered to law enforcement to ensure all claims are taken seriously—often the line between an arrest and conviction.
June 21, 2013 3:30 PM
Former Seattle councilwoman Judy Nicastro writes on her own abortion in the New York Times, describing the difficult choice of aborting her son at 23 weeks. She conceived late, at the age of 40, and 20 weeks into her pregnancy learned that one of her twins was malformed. Further investigation revealed his organs were misplaced, and if he were carried to term, he would be born with one partial lung and be on life support for as long as he could survive outside of the womb. She was crushed, and could only see suffering ahead. Nicastro writes, “We were good parents who wanted what was best for our children...these decisions belong with the mother.”
June 21, 2013 3:28 PM
Times, they are a'changin
Formerly, Americans who identified with a gender other than the one they were born with could change the assignment on their passport with a simple doctor's note; but for a matching social security card, they had to show they had actually undergone gender reassignment surgery. On June 19, however, the Social Security Administration enacted a new procedure that matches that of the passport office. Though social security cards themselves do not explicitly identify gender, social security info is used for everything from banking to education—making the new measure an important step for trans rights.
June 20, 2013 11:08 AM
Police in Cuyahoga County, which includes the Cleveland metro area, are cracking down on rapists with an energetic new initiative that relies on old rape kits to identify sexual offenders. Ongoing analysis of 3000 rape kits has been crucial to identifying the perpetrators in cold cases—and preventing them from striking again. At least 16 serial rapists have been indicted so far. Part of the credit goes to Cleveland's The Plain Dealer newspaper, which published several withering editorials and investigative stories about untested rape kits. Cleveland's success has inspired similar efforts in Detroit and Houston, which also have significant backlogs of rape kits.
June 20, 2013 10:38 AM
Put a ring on it
In India, a court ruling that equates sex with marriage has sparked a huge controversy. “If any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations,” said Justice C.S. Karnan. He also said that marriage ceremonies, or lack thereof, were inconsequential. Indian media outlets from talk shows to Twitter feeds have erupted in confusion: is it a liberal or conservative ruling? Young Indians expressed confusion over the weight of premarital sex and one-night stands. Others were concerned that the ruling may reinvigorate the archaic tradition of making a rape victim marry her rapist.
June 19, 2013 12:25 PM