Sisters of the Earth – This Week in Global Women’s News

December 3, 2004

Sisters of the Earth – This Week in Global Women’s News

Body Found In Iraq Not Hassan’s

Dental records show that the body of a Western woman found in Iraq is not that of hostage Margaret Hassan. Foreign Office says that London still thinks she is probably dead. Hassan was kidnapped on October 19 as she was being driven to work in Baghdad, where she was director of the local operation of aid organisation Care International.

The Political Rights of Arab Women

A conference supporting Arab women’s right to participate in national political life is to be held later this month in Yemen. The organizers, the Arab Shakek Forum, hope this conference will help bring essential political and social reforms to Arab countries. Delegations from twenty-one Arab states will participate.

Violence Against Women in Colombia

Sources report rape, murder, torture, kidnapping, and sexual mutilation of women and girls by all groups involved in Colombia’s prolonged internal conflict. Some women’s organisations which provide aid and support to women victims have also found themselves the target of armed groups.

Pakistan Women on Bringing Decency into the Media

Speakers at a meeting last Tuesday (Women and Media: The South Asian Experience) organized by the Media Women Publishers and Journalists Organization pointed out that in many newspapers, particularly those in Urdu and regional languages, reports of crime involving women were sensationalized and sometimes even slanderous comments added to the facts. The speakers suggested that gender-awareness training be given to media people.

Women Worldwide on the Aids Pandemic

Speaking at the opening ceremony for the International AIDS Conference held in Bangkok from 11-16 July, 2004, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General said: “Over the past few years we have seen a terrifying pattern emerge: all over the world, women are increasingly bearing the brunt of the epidemic.” Empowering women and girls must be a top priority if the fight against HIV and AIDS is to be won, he stressed, calling for girls’
education, job opportunities and land and inheritance rights for women and girls, as well as full access to practical means to protect themselves against the virus. There is a growing body of research calling attention to the connection between violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

Domestic violence a Major Challenge Facing Public Health

Data soon to be released from the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence show that between 29% to 69% of ever-partnered women report having been physically and/or sexually abused by an intimate male partner in their life. The health consequences of gender-based violence against women include injuries, chronic pain syndromes, gynecological problems, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder, among others.

Violence Against Girls and Women Linked to Spread of HIV

More than 37 million people are living with HIV and almost half of them are women. Some have become infected through sexual violence and exploitation. It is estimated that one in three women worldwide will be raped or abused in their lifetime. UNICEF is working to confront the inequalities that leave girls and women particularly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. “Increasingly the face of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, is a female face and it is a young female face,” says UNICEF Child Protection Office, Pamela Shifman.

Japan Considers Female Successor to Throne

The Japanese government has begun formal discussions on whether to allow a female member of the Imperial Family to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Japan’s Constitution stipulates that the Imperial Throne “shall be dynastic.” The Imperial House Law states that the throne shall be inherited by a male son of a male member belonging to the imperial line. In discussing change to the current system, the government has taken the stance that an empress could assume the throne without any changes being made to the Japanese Constitution if a bill to revise the Imperial House Law won a majority in the Diet. Both Crown Prince Naruhito, the heir to the throne, and his younger brother Prince Akishino have only daughters.

Palestinian woman to run for president

A Jerusalem-based journalist has become the first woman to announce her intention to run for the post of Palestinian Authority president in the wake of Yasir Arafat’s death. Majida al-Batsh said, “I am announcing my intention today to be a candidate in the Palestinian presidential election. I do this as a Palestinian from Jerusalem and as a woman in order to exercise my democratic rights.” She said she had so far garnered two-thirds of the 5000 signatures needed to ensure her candidacy in the 9 January poll. “The signatures come from Jerusalem, Gaza, [the West Bank towns of] Nablus, Janin, and Tulkarim where the people that support me are doing very efficient work,” she added.

Redgrave Launches Her Own Party

Oscar winning actress Vanessa Redgrave has pledged to build a political party in England committed to human rights. Redgrave and her actor brother Corin, both known for their left-wing ideals, launched the party Peace And Progress. In its manifesto, Peace And Progress reads: “We shall work for a government of Peace And Progress and support all those who share that aim. We shall represent all those whose human rights are threatened or denied, and we shall speak for all who want a country where justice in law, social justice, and human rights are paramount.”

The withdrawal of British troops from Iraq was the party’s first pledge. It also called for the cancellation of all Third World debt, the removal of all weapons of mass destruction, and the repeal of anti-asylum legislation.

Peace Activist Acquitted

When the USA began bombing a disarmed Iraq on 20 March 03, Women for Peace and the Moreland Peace Group held a vigil outside the USA Consulate. On hearing the news of the bombing, Reta Kaur, 59, teacher and peacekeeper, started weeping, and in her moment of terrible grief, she wrote, “The Killing has Started!” in soluble paint on two marble statues outside the USA Consulate. She was arrested and charged with $9080.00 in damages as the clean up cost.

Reta Kaur pleaded Not Guilty at the contested hearing, resolved by magistrate Magistrate Hodgens who found that Reta had no intention of causing damage, and did not believe or know that the water soluble paint was likely to cause damage. He also accepted that she had offered to wash off the paint, but was arrested and charged. Magistrate Hodgens accepted that Reta was overcome with grief at the news of the bombing.

Private Parts

A growing number of women are asking their doctors for genital plastic surgery. The surgery can involve tightening vaginal muscles, plumping up or shortening labia, liposuctioning the pubic area, and restoring the hymen. The most popular of those are tightening of the vaginal muscles, or vaginoplasty, and reduction of the labia minora, called labiaplasty. The procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis in less than two hours and can cost from $3,500 to $8,000.

Doctors tend to hold aggressive marketing and fashion responsible for the increased interest. Some doctors warn that there is no scientific data to back up the claim that vaginoplasties can enhance sexual satisfaction and that painful intercourse can result if the vaginal muscles are too snug. Other risks are painful scarring or nerve damage that could result in loss of sensation or hypersensitivity.

Women of the Congo Speak Out Against Violence

Hundreds of Congolese women appealed to their government last Saturday for better protection against gender-based violence, a problem which persists despite the end of years of miltary conflict. “In recent years, young men have taken pleasure in flirting with immoral values,” Micheline Ngoulou, head of the Congolese Association Against Violence Against Women, said. “They used [the] period of chaos to inflict violence against those who are most vulnerable: women.”

More Young Women Drawn to Drink in Britain

While British men drink far more than women do, the number of British women who drink to excess is growing at a much faster rate than that for men. In Britain’s left-leaning newspaper, The Guardian, in an opnion piece titled ‘Free to vomit in the gutter’, Ms Angela McRobbie, feminist academic and professor of communications at Goldsmiths College, London, warned: “Second-wave feminists advocated sexual freedom, but these contemporary freedoms are a travesty of such ideals. The hard-drinking culture, along with the requirement to be `up for it’, even if this means casual sex in car parks, marks the corrosion of feminist values,” she wrote.

Illegal Abortions in Latin America

Five thousand women die from illegal abortions every year in Latin America, which has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, despite abortion being nearly universally prohibited.

For more information:
Alan Guttmacher Institute–An Overview of Clandestine Abortion in Latin America:

International Planned Parenthood Federation– Documents and reports:

Afghan Theater Revival Puts Women on Stage

Three years ago any woman in Afghanistan who dared set foot on the stage risked her life. But soon a theater festival opening in Kabul will include a play written by a teenage schoolgirl, with real actresses, about the brutal suppression of women under the country’s now-ousted Taliban government.

“To those people who want to keep us away from the stage, I say: You have no right to interfere,” says16-year-old playwright/director Naseeba Ghulam Mohammed, whose “Toward Brightness” is among the plays women will perform during the eight-day national festival. “In Afghanistan today, men and women are equal.”


For publications on women and development by, for and about women worldwide, write for Women, Ink’s catalogue, or view it at:

Contact Women, Ink. at 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: (1-212) 687-8633 ext 212. Fax: (1-212) 661-2704. E-mail:

Drawing Lines, Erasing Lines:
Feminism as a Resource in Opposing Xenophobia and Separatism – Cynthia Cockburn

This is a brilliant lecture and well worth the read!

Cynthia Cockburn, Department of Sociology, City University London

The Second National Battered Mother’s Custody Conference

The conference, titled “Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody:
A National Crisis” will be held the weekend of January 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2005, at Siena College, Loudonville, New York.

Irene Weiser
Stop Family Violence
331 W. 57th St #518
New York, NY 10019

Call For Papers

The Women’s Research & Education Institute has put out a call for papers on the subject “Women in the Military Today.” Papers and presentations are invited on U. S. and international perspectives on women in the military and women veterans. Members of the military, civil servants, scholars, and interested individuals are invited to participate.

Contact for suggested topics:

Send submissions to Captain Lory Manning, USN (ret), WREI 1750 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20006; by e-mail:; or by fax 202-628-0458. For additional information e-mail or call 202-628-0444 ex 12.

Frieda Werden, Producer,
WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service,
Box 95090, Kingsgate
Vancouver BC V5T 4T8 Canada

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