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

January 14, 2004

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

The Global Fund for Women:
Tsunami Response

Some recent activities of the Global Fund for Women: contacting all 47 Global Fund grantees in Asia who are based in the disaster zones of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, to reassure them of their long-term commitment to them; contacting 27 Global Fund grantees in eastern Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Madagascar, and Tanzania), who have been affected by the tsumami; awarding several grants to groups in Asia affected by the disaster that are responding to the crisis in their communities. These groups include the Siyath Foundation, a group in Sri Lanka that organizes fisher women in coastal communities; Hapsari, a rural women’s group located in northern Sumatra; and Indira Female Peer Educators Collective, a grassroots women’s group on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu state in India.

Kiran Bedi on Women as Peacekeepers

“I think the very presence of a woman officer reduces violence. She is not standing armed to the teeth. She is standing as a symbol of peace, life, dignity, and reconciliation. Timor-Leste is an example. All peacekeeping directly benefits women, for they are most victimised by internal civil wars. When a woman in uniform wears a blue helmet or blue cap it empowers women and inspires girls. They don’t scare people. That’s why the larger presence of women in peacekeeping is so critical now. And that is where India’s potential must be given to the world.”

Kiran Bedi, Civilian Police Advisor in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations

Disappearing Act

A recent report shows that the Bush administration has taken twenty-five reports from its Women’s Bureau Web site, removing or corrupting important information on many issues of importance to women.

Shirin Ebadi Summoned by Iranian Judiciary

Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been summoned to answer questions by Iran’s judiciary. “I have received a summons to a revolutionary court,” the human rights activist and lawyer told AFP. “In the summons, it simply says that I must present myself to the court within three days to provide some explanations and that I will be arrested if I refuse,” she added. The 57-year-old was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in October 2003 in recognition of her campaign for increased legal rights for women and children in Iran.

Iranian Woman Pardoned for Killing Attacker

Afsaneh Norouzi, an Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a police official, has been pardoned by the victim’s family. Norouzi insisted she had acted justly in defending herself. The family of Behzad Moghaddam has agreed to accept compensation instead of seeking Norouzi’s execution.

In Iran, a married woman who is raped risks the death penalty for adultery if she cannot prove she was violated. If she kills her attacker, she may also face the death sentence for murder.

Women’s rights activist and lawyer Sara Irani told The Associated Press news agency she welcomed the resolution of the case. “Norouzi’s freedom will give new breath to women to find the courage to stand up for their rights and defend themselves,” she said.

Sister Helen Prejean’s Latest Work

Sister Helen Prejean, the real woman behind Susan Sarandon’s character in the 1995 film based on Prejean’s book, Dead Man Walking, says, “We have so much Christianity-lite in this country, and George Bush is the embodiment of that. People are abysmally ignorant about the Bible and about the gospel of Jesus because all they hear is this stuff they get at the pulpit.”

Prejean’s latest book, The Death of Innocents, voices her opposition to the six state-sponsored killings she has witnessed. One of her goals is to show the American public that the US criminal justice system is so heavily flawed as to make the application of the death penalty unconstitutional.

Prison Terms for Miscarriages in Virginia

Bill HB1677: When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman’s responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Delegate John Cosgrove is pushing to have HB1677 made law in Virginia. Failure to comply with this law can bring up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Swedish Paper on Trafficking and Prostitution

According to this recent paper, in Sweden, prostitution is officially acknowledged as exploitation of women and children, harmful not only to the individual prostituted woman or child, but also to society at large.

Texan Gets Four Months for Killing Wife, Sixteen Years for Wounding Man

Jimmy Dean Watkins was recently sentenced to just four months in prison for killing his wife after a jury concluded he acted in a blind fury. He received a 15-year term for wounding her boyfriend. Watkins pleaded guilty to attempted murder for shooting Keith Fontenot on December 22, 1998. Watkins’ estranged wife, Nancy, was killed by multiple gunshots as she tried to dial 911 during the attack.

The jury found Watkins guilty of murdering his wife but decided he acted with “sudden passion” when he discovered her with Fontenot.

Official Document System Finally a Go

After years of technical, financial and political hurdles, the United Nations “Official Document System” is finally open and free to the general public. The ODS is the main repository of 800,000+ UN documents dating back to the organisation’s earliest days, from General Assembly resolutions to UN agency memoranda, in all six of the UN official languages.
The ODS can be accessed at

In Search of Happy Endings

In response to what she calls a “wave of disillusionment” among young American social activists, Lisa O’Neill of San Francisco is advocating a proactive stance in building hope by sharing stories of success in what looks like a hopeless global predicament.

Arundhati Roy: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

New Global Feminist Online Publication

A new quarterly publication called DigitallFuture is looking for people willing to contribute to the publication on international events and to distribute the paper version of the publication. To contact, email: Lin McDevitt-Pugh –

American Women on Death Row

In August 1998 Kathleen A. O’Shea began writing and publishing a newsletter about women on death row and in international capital trials called “Women on the Row.” It is mailed out four times a year, and the next issue will come out March, 2005. Those working in prison ministry, chaplains, educators, students doing research or individuals involved in Peace and Justice issues may find this publication informative and useful.

Pulitzer nominee Kathleen A. O’Shea has been a nun for 30 years and is a social worker who does research on female offenders. MAILING ADDRESS: Kathleen A. O’Shea, 5505 Walnut Level Rd., Crozet, Virginia 22932.

Upcoming Events

Commission on the Status of Women meetings, 28 February – 11 March, 2005, New York. Information and registration forms now available for the 49th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women from 28 February to 11 March 2005

WIDE Annual Conference: Poverty, inequality and insecurity:
What solutions do feminisms have? 23-25 June 2005
Regents College Conference Center, Regent’s Park, Inner Circle, London UK,

The 10th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, October 27-30, 2005 Bangkok, Thailand. Submission Deadline: March 1, 2005

AWID offers grants to delegates with limited financial means. For more information, visit the “Access Fund” section of the Forum website.

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