1. Iranian Actress Sentenced to 90 Lashes

Iranian Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in jail for her role in a controversial film, My Tehran for Sale. Vafamehr was arrested in July after the film was strongly condemned by conservatives in the Islamic republic of Iran and subsequently freed on bail. The movie tells the story of an actress in Tehran who is forbidden by authorities to perform in the theater and is thus forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically. Vafamehr’s lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was announced on Saturday.

Read it at The Independent

October 14, 2011 12:08 PM


2. Manly Drinks Exclude Women

Men are apparently so opposed to drinking “girlie” diet sodas that the industry has been forced to come up with a macho alternative. Dr Pepper has unleashed the latest: Dr Pepper Ten. It has 10 calories, and an over-the-top ad campaign that practically screams “no girls allowed.” There’s even a Facebook page with an app called “Dr Pepper Ten Man’ments,” an aggressively macho spin on the Ten Commandments whose teachings include such pearls of wisdom as “Thou shall not post pics of your outfit.” It’s not clear whether Dr Pepper’s efforts are actually attracting its target audience, but it seems to have successfully ticked off at least a few female consumers.

Read it at USA Today

October 14, 2011 11:58 AM


3. Woman Claims She Ran Away

A Syrian woman who was reportedly killed and mutilated while in the custody of security officials is alive and appeared on Syrian TV on Wednesday. Eighteen-year-old Zainab Alhusni was reportedly kidnapped by Syrian security officials in order to force her activist brother Mohammed to surrender. She was then reportedly killed and her body mutilated beyond recognition; her family even held a funeral for her. But Alhusni now says she ran away from home in late July. “I ran away because my brothers used to torture me and beat me,” she said. Her family confirmed that the woman on television is their daughter. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said, “It now appears that Zainab’s family misidentified the body that was presented to them due to the extensive damage to the body.” The groups also called for an independent investigation to determine the actual identity of the remains.

Read it at CNN

October 14, 2011 11:56 AM


4. Saudi Women Scoff at Voting Rights

Many Saudi women do not seem too excited about their new voting rights. One said, “I don’t think that voting in a process where we can’t effect change is a big deal at all. It sounds a lot more glamorous than it is, because at the end of the day even our men aren’t bothered with these councils or their elections. I read somewhere that only a fifth of registered voters bothered showing up, so this is all a bit of a show with no real substance at all.” Many women feel the ban on women driving is a more important issue, and they believe that the king should work harder to help them achieve this right. One woman commented, “What I feel is that like with King Faisal, who had the guts to introduce girls’ education in spite of the objections and disapproval of the same people who now object to women driving, our king must do the same.”

Read it at MSNBC

October 14, 2011 11:54 AM


5. Contraceptive May Double HIV Risk

This could be devastating news in the fight against HIV. A new study by scientists at the University of Washington shows that a popular contraceptive for women may double the risk of HIV infection in women and double the risk of infection in men who have an HIV-positive partner. The contraceptive is a hormone shot administered every three months, and it’s the most prevalent method used in eastern and southern Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, 6 percent of all women between 15 and 49, or 12 million women, use the contraceptive. Three percent of women in the U.S. use it as well. The World Health Organization will convene in January before issuing warnings. The study does have one minor pitfall: it uses some data that isn’t traditionally used to connect HIV.

Read it at The New York Times

October 14, 2011 11:52 AM


6. Was Marathon Mom Irresponsible?

Amber Miller had already run one marathon during her pregnancy and wasn’t about to let contractions stop her from finishing her second. Shortly after completing the 26 miles of Chicago’s Marathon (in six and a half hours), Miller gave birth to her second child. Amazing, yes, but was it dangerous? The web is buzzing with speculation over whether her physical feat might have been dangerous—not just for her, but also her baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, athletes can continue under their typical routines under doctor supervision, leaving commentators to admit that Miller might just be a supermom

Read it at The Chicago Tribune

October 14, 2011 10:40 AM

Unlikely Role Model

7. What Women Owe Palin (Really)

Whatever you think about Sarah Palin’s politics, in the three years since the Mama Grizzly stepped onto the national stage, she’s unquestionably helped women in one arena: self-promotion. As Slate's Libby Copeland points out, women have historically been bad at singing their own praises—and they've paid for it in their professional lives. Despite numerous gaffes that have made her fodder for media mockery, Palin has never been hesitant to tout her own greatness. Just last month, the former governor schooled Sean Hannity that she was missing from the list of most viable GOP candidates, saying some polls named her one of the top three candidates. Palin announced Wednesday night that she won’t be joining the 2012 presidential race, but she never once said she isn’t capable of running the country. “Even when her logic is frustrating, even when she contradicts herself, Palin’s unselfconscious brashness is a good thing for women because it is so needed and so exceptional,” says Copeland.

Read it at Slate

October 7, 2011 12:59 PM


8. Afghan Women Have Come a Long Way

Although Afghanistan is still one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, Fawzia Koofi, a female member of the Afghan Parliament, argues in The Guardian that Afghan women have come a long way in the decade since the U.S. and Britain first intervened in her country. Koofi, one of 69 female members of Parliament, notes that Afghanistan has more female M.P.s than the U.K. does, and that today 40 percent of Afghan schoolchildren are girls. Koofi, who plans to run for president, fears that by negotiating with the Taliban her country might “trade away” the progress that has been made for women, and appeals to Britain and the West to prevent this from happening.

Read More

October 7, 2011 11:53 AM

Baby Boom

9. Surrogacy Could Be a Dangerous Business

India’s commercial surrogacy market has soared in recent years, contributing about $450 million a year to the country’s economy. It’s also provided a new avenue of opportunity to poor Indian women now able to make a decent living—not to mention the middle-class people from the West who otherwise couldn’t afford a surrogate. But the industry also poses dangerous threats to women’s rights, and India’s laws are ill equipped to protect them. A welcome new bill aims to regulate surrogacy, but some fear that it leaves too many questions unanswered: it does not give any rights over a child to its surrogate mother, nor does it clarify how much a surrogate would be paid in the event of health complications like miscarriages.

Read it at The New York Times

October 7, 2011 11:38 AM

Let's Be Honest

10. Ailes Hired Palin ‘Because She Was Hot’

Roger Ailes may not be a nice guy, but at least he’s honest. Reflecting on his 15-year career at the helm of the Fox News Channel, Ailes revealed that he hired Sarah Palin “because she was hot and got ratings.” But as he recently told Newsweek, she eventually became a “branding issue.” He also thinks Fox’s success is owed more to its television talent—hiring people because they’re hot and get ratings—than their political agendas. “I think we do better television than the other guys, and no matter how we do it, they don't seem to catch up,” he said. “We seem to out-invent them and think ahead of them, and have better story ideas, better graphics, better on-air talent. We just are better television producers.”

Read it at Associated Press

October 7, 2011 11:03 AM


11. 300 Women Saved from Sex Slavery

A Peruvian police raid resulted in the rescue of about 300 female human trafficking victims. The Amazonian city of Puerto Maldonado is the site of heavy illegal gold mining and, as over 400 police officers discovered today, about 50 brothels. At least 10 of those rescued in the raid were minors, the youngest 13 years old. According to the Save the Children charity, traffickers peddle sex slaves to those working in the community’s illegal mining camps.

Read it at BBC News

October 7, 2011 10:47 AM


12. Homecoming Queen Kicks Winning Field Goal

Who says the homecoming queen has to wear a gown? Brianna Amat, a senior at Pinckney Community High School in Michigan, was crowned while wearing her football uniform and pads Friday night as her high school’s team played their powerful rivals, Grand Blanc. Shortly after winning the title, she returned to the field with five minutes to play and kicked a 31-yard field goal to give Pinckney the win, 9-7. Amat, a longtime soccer player, is the first girl to play on her school’s football team. She said her teammates have been extremely supportive: “They’ve been so accepting of me, it’s as if I’ve always been their teammate.”

Read it at The New York Times

October 7, 2011 10:20 AM


13. Queens Lawyer Defends Battered Female Killers

New York lawyer Michael G. Dowd has defended so many murderers who were battered by their husbands that he’s been nicknamed the “black-widow lawyer.” His clients have killed their husbands with carving knives, machetes, and semiautomatic handguns. Dowd first became famous for a sensational 1978 case in which he defended a woman who had stabbed her husband after he raped her at knifepoint in front of their children—a case that drew national attention to the moral dilemma of women who kill their attackers. Only one of Dowd’s clients has served prison time; the others have been exonerated or seen their sentences reduced. “It is very emotionally difficult to take such cases; they really get to me,” he said.

Read it at The New York Times

October 7, 2011 10:04 AM

Dress Code

14. Woman Sues Over Headscarf Removal

A Muslim woman is suing prison officials from Orange County, California, for forcing her to take off her headscarf in a holding cell. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Souhair Khatib to proceed with her lawsuit that she filed in 2007. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier rejected arguments that holding cells are not covered by a federal law protecting the religious practices of prisoners, and ruled Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless officials could show it was a security risk. Orange County officials tried to throw out the litigation, but the Supreme Court refused and the case will now go back to district court. "I think it's a pretty blatant example of discrimination against Muslims,” said Khatib's attorney, Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Read it at Associated Press

October 5, 2011 6:55 PM


15. Saudi King Revokes Flogging of Driver

Saudi King Abdullah has ruled against flogging a woman who was allegedly sentenced to 10 lashes after being caught driving a car—a major violation in the kingdom. It’s another sign that the country is gradually working to improve women’s rights. On Sunday, Abdullah announced two historic changes for women. First, he said they will be allowed to serve on his advisory council; second, they will be allowed to nominate candidates and run in the next round of municipal elections. It’s not yet known when the elections will take place.

Read it at CNN

October 4, 2011 1:01 PM

Ladies' Man

16. Cameron Apologizes to U.K. Women

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in the doghouse. In a bid not to alienate female voters, Cameron on Sunday apologized for comments he made to two female Parliament members that have been criticized as sexist. In April, Angela Eagle, Parliament's most prominent lesbian MP, interrupted Cameron's defense of National Health Service reforms, and Cameron told her: "Calm down, dear, calm down. Calm down and listen to the doctor." Last month, Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries called on Cameron to show his deputy Nick Clegg "who's the boss" on abortion reform, but Cameron responded by joking that he "knew" she was "very frustrated." Now, Cameron said at a party conference, "It came out wrong and I deeply, deeply regret that. I apologize for that and I want to put that right." He insisted that he's not just "one of the lads."

Read it at Daily Mail

October 4, 2011 1:00 PM


17. Clinton Pushes Women’s Rights Treaty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top female world leaders convened on Monday to sign a document calling for greater public female participation in developing countries, particularly in the Middle East. The document asks that the United Nations ratify the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Ironically, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that hasn't yet signed the treaty. Clinton didn't draw attention to America's glaring absence from the list of treaty signees, but she and President Obama have made it clear that CEDAW should be ratified in the Senate.

Read it at The Huffington Post

October 4, 2011 12:58 PM


18. Perry’s Wife Cheered HPV Drive

Rick Perry’s push to immunize girls in Texas against HPV has been seized upon by his opponents, and some have speculated that his motivation had to do with his political ties to the manufacturer of the vaccine. But could it have been his wife who convinced him of its merits? The New York Times looks at Anita Perry, a nurse, advocate for victims of sexual assault, and a proponent of immunizations. She has touted Perry’s HPV drive in speeches at women’s health summits, and Freedom of Information requests show Perry forwarding her emails supportive of the vaccination push. Perry has also claimed that Anita was key in pushing him into the presidential race; she opened his Des Moines headquarters on Tuesday.

Read it at The New York Times

October 4, 2011 12:56 PM

No Merci

19. French Feminists Launch Campaign

French feminists are launching a campaign to end the use of the word mademoiselle. In France, women typically choose to be addressed as madame or mademoiselle, a distinction feminists say is unnecessary and irrelevant. The president of the feminist group Watchdog says, “In old days, women went from the domination of their father to the domination of their husband. They were mademoiselle when they were girls and madame when they were married. For the men, there is no two states, only monsieur from the youth to the elder.” Feminists also think that this is the best time to launch the campaign. A spokeswoman for Dare Feminism says, “People have really woken up about inequalities and sexism since the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. And we think these issues will be a part of the presidential debate leading up to next May’s election.”

Read it at NPR

October 4, 2011 12:54 PM


20. Gov’t Uses Archaic Definition of Rape

Thanks to the federal government’s definition of rape, written 80 years ago, the prevalence of the crime may be underestimated. Hundreds of sexual assaults reported in cities like Chicago and New York each year are not classified as rape because of the narrow—and vague—scope of the current definition, which is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcible and against her will.” Critics say that definition leaves out oral and anal penetration, and all cases where the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “We prosecute by one criteria, but we report by another criteria,” said Nashville’s police chief of the FBI definition. “The only people who have a true picture of what’s going on are the people in the sex-crimes unit.”

Read it at The New York Times

October 4, 2011 12:51 PM


21. Doctors Use Vinegar Against Cervical Cancer

Doctors in Thailand and other third world countries are using a new, low-budget method to prevent cervical cancer. By highlighting precancerous spots on a woman’s cervix with a brush of vinegar and then freezing off the spots with a cooled metal probe, doctors are able to circumvent the lab work and waiting period a traditional Pap smear entails. Once the top cancerous killer of American women, 85 percent of cervical cancer’s victims now reside in developing and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization is promoting the freezing method, which is 90 percent effective, in hopes of diminishing the reach of cervical cancer in the third world.

Read it at The New York Times

October 4, 2011 12:50 PM


22. The Contradictory Lives of Saudi Women

Last week Saudi King Abdullah ruled that woman would be allowed to run for Parliament and to vote and run in future municipal elections. It’s a major victory for women’s rights in the notoriously conservative kingdom, but what about the age-old driving ban? The ban was implemented so that women would avoid getting into a situations where they could meet men, writes Eman al Nafjan in The Guardian. Ironically, since they’re not allowed to drive, women have to hire strange men to shuttle them to and fro on a daily basis. Several days after King Abdullah announced the political decree, a Saudi woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving her own car. Abdullah ultimately overturned the sentence, but the ban on women getting behind the wheel of a car remains. The events of last week demonstrated the paradoxical lives of Saudi women and highlighted a country of contradictions. Saudis have even coined a phrase that sums up the kingdom’s political and social contradictions: “Saudi exceptionality.”

Read it at The Guardian

October 4, 2011 12:44 PM

Yes We Can

23. Australia Lets Women Serve in Combat

Women in Australia will soon be able to serve in frontline combat, the government announced Tuesday—making Australia just the fourth country to do so. They will be able to serve in the infantry and artillery units, as well as in special forces, which are currently fighting in Afghanistan. Canada, Israel, and New Zealand are the only other countries with no restrictions on female enlistment.

Read it at The Australian

October 4, 2011 12:37 PM


24. Saudi Woman Gets 10 Lashes for Driving

Just days after Saudi Arabia’s king announced landmark voting reforms for women, female activist Sheima Jastaniah was sentenced to 10 lashes for defying the nation’s ban on driving, according to fellow activists. The ruling is the first of its kind—women have been jailed before for operating a vehicle, but not sentenced. There is no actual law on the books in Saudi Arabia that prohibits women from driving, but religious edicts have forbidden it. Women, King Abdullah announced on Sunday, will be able to vote in 2015.

Read it at Associated Press

September 27, 2011 8:44 PM


25. Perry’s Wife Cheered HPV Drive

Rick Perry’s push to immunize girls in Texas against HPV has been seized upon by his opponents, and some have speculated that his motivation had to do with his political ties to the manufacturer of the vaccine. But could it have been his wife who convinced him of its merits? The New York Times looks at Anita Perry, a nurse, advocate for victims of sexual assault, and a proponent of immunizations. She has touted Perry’s HPV drive in speeches at women’s health summits, and Freedom of Information requests show Perry forwarding her emails supportive of the vaccination push. Perry has also claimed that Anita was key in pushing him into the presidential race; she opened his Des Moines headquarters on Tuesday.

Read it at The New York Times

September 27, 2011 8:42 PM

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