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News and Views: United States of America

UN Women: culture must not block progress on stopping gender violence

March 4, 2013

Commission on Status of Women opens in New York, but Iran, Russia and Vatican thought to be lobbying against key proposals.

Culture and religion must not be allowed to block proposals to eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls, the head of UN Women said on the eve of what is expected to be the largest global summit ever convened to discuss the issue.

USA: Modesty in Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads

January 29, 2013

The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys.

 

“The man said, ‘Do the neighborhood a favor and take it out of the window,’ ” the store’s manager recalled. “ ‘We’re trying to safeguard our community.’ ”

Delhi is different from Steubenville

January 14, 2013

Nicholas Kristof has a recent op-ed titled, “Is Delhi so different from Steubenville?” which makes the case that sexual assault is an international and universal epidemic. He writes,

LGBT Uganda Fights Back: The Case Against Scott Lively

January 7, 2013

The U.S. evangelist and anti-gay crusader's trial begins January 7 in Massachusetts. Lively is being sued for crimes against humanity by the organization Sexual Minorities of Uganda, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

America’s Rape Problem: We Refuse to Admit That There Is One

January 4, 2013

It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance. Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.

USA: SPLC Files Groundbreaking Lawsuit Accusing Conversion Therapy Organization Of Fraud

November 27, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.

Is Pleasure a Sin?

June 5, 2012

It’s hard to say what is weirder:

A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.”

Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of Amazon.com’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

Just the latest chapter in the Vatican’s thuggish crusade to push American nuns — and all Catholic women — back into moldy subservience.

USA: The Truth About Religious Freedom

June 7, 2012

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rarely lets the facts get in the way of their story.

USA: Chicago Islamic leader uses education as weapon against terrorism and discrimination

May 30, 2012

Education is the weapon of choice for an area Islamic leader in his fight against the radicalization of Islamic youth and the discrimination of American Muslims.

Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, 36, is the director of the Gain Peace project, an Islamic outreach program based in Chicago. Ahmed blames misinterpretations of the Quran and Islam for the dual extremes of Islamophobia and violent Islamist radicalism. He sees education as the way forward to both break down stereotypes and counter terrorist groups looking to recruit Muslim-Americans to commit acts of violence.

USA: The Campaign Against Women

May 19, 2012

Despite the persistent gender gap in opinion polls and mounting criticism of their hostility to women’s rights, Republicans are not backing off their assault on women’s equality and well-being. New laws in some states could mean a death sentence for a pregnant woman who suffers a life-threatening condition. But the attack goes well beyond abortion, into birth control, access to health care, equal pay and domestic violence.

 

United States: United Against the War on Women

May 1, 2012

We are not going back to the days of wide-scale domestic violence, even if 31 Republican men in the Senate recently voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it expanded coverage to the gay community and Native Americans.

When Black Women Get Hit, No One Cares

May 1, 2012

Few statements from an elected official characterize the amount of ignorance surrounding domestic violence as Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman’s loss for words when asked what the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was.  “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now,” was Steelman’s response to a reporter’s inquiry only days before a critical VAWA reauthorization vote in the Senate.

Striking at the Source of the War on Women

May 3, 2012

The generals of the opposing armies in the current political "War on Women" have had their radar and their reconnaissance patrols focused on battlefields on Capitol Hill, in state capitals from Richmond to Phoenix, from Concord to Austin, in Rome, and on the positions taken by presidential candidates. These battles over contraception, women's healthcare, violence against women, Vatican suppression of nuns, pay equity and a host of other matters, are of great importance.

Israeli Conservative Movement approves ordination of gay rabbis

April 30, 2012

Israel's Masorti (Conservative) Movement decided to approve the ordination of homosexual rabbis, in a dramatic vote on Thursday. The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, affiliated with the movement, will admit gay and lesbian students for training as spiritual leaders as of the upcoming school year. 'A very important development in Jewish law,' says President of the Israeli Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly.

Not victims of tradition: Women speak out and advocate for girls facing abusive fates

May 2, 2012

The two women met for the first time last week at a sleek Georgetown hotel, where they were speakers at a glittering charity dinner. They shook hands and hugged across a vast gulf of culture, geography and faith: one a devout Muslim from West Africa with her hair carefully hidden under a tight scarf, the other a gregarious South Asian in a stylish sari and costume earrings.

USA: White House is 'puzzling' on racial profiling

May 1, 2012

Seating was scarce at the April 17 Senate hearing on Ending Racial Profiling in America. Those left outside were directed to an overflow room. But there was one empty seat. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, who was presiding over the hearing, said that he had invited the Justice Department to testify, but “they declined.”

USA: The marginalized pay for the church's ideological battles

April 11, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.

USA: Bishop urges change in 'church teaching concerning all sexual relationships'

March 16, 2012

BALTIMORE -- At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for "a new study of everything to do with sexuality" -- a kind of study that he predicted "would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."

"If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change," he said.

Ugandan LGBT Activists File Case Against Anti-Gay U.S. Evangelical in Federal Court

March 14, 2012

Lawsuit Charges Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively with Persecution. Lively Also Connected to New Anti-Gay Bill Passed in Russia
 

USA: Republicans Retreat on Domestic Violence

February 9, 2012

Even in the ultrapolarized atmosphere of Capitol Hill, it should be possible to secure broad bipartisan agreement on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, the 1994 law at the center of the nation’s efforts to combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The law’s renewal has strong backing from law enforcement and groups that work with victims, and earlier reauthorizations of the law, in 2000 and 2005, passed Congress with strong support from both sides of the aisle.

Men Can Stop Rape Launches “Where Do You Stand?” Campaign

February 2, 2012

Yesterday, Men Can Stop Rape launched their new bystander intervention campaign geared towards addressing sexual violence on college campuses. “Where Do You Stand?” uses a number of tools such as trainings, posters, and media materials to encourage young men to become active bystanders to end sexual violence.

Research on Rape of Jewish Women during Holocaust breaks Decades of Taboo

May 30, 2011

Gender violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other conflict zones around the world is a subject of continual research and education through witness testimonials, podcasts and information presented by the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

But this year the museum took a look back, delving into a topic from history that, surprisingly, is entirely new–pivotal research about the rape of Jewish women during the Holocaust, described in a new book by two female scholars.

USA: Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

January 18, 2012

In 2008, African-American Muslim student Balayla Ahmad enrolled in Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Instead, she became of a victim of sexual harassment. Distressed by the repeated sexual advances and “graphic offensive comments” of a male student, Ahmad reported the harassment and “fears for her safety” to multiple teachers, who urged her to say nothing, and finally the university’s president and dean. The dean told Ahmad, “My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?”

USA: The Burning of an Abortion Clinic on New Years Day and a Call to Action on Abortion Rights

January 5, 2012

On January 1st, at 1:00 in the morning, an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida was engulfed in flames. By all accounts thus far, this was a case of arson.

But chances are you have heard nothing about this.

The fact that there has not been a single politician commenting on this violent assault on an institution that is essential to women's freedom and that this act of terror has not been picked up on in the national or mainstream media should only serve as a further wake-up call to those who care about women's rights.

USA: Justice Dept. expands definition of rape to include other forms of sexual assault

January 6, 2012

The Obama administration on Friday announced a significant expansion of the FBI’s definition of rape, which will now cover several forms of sexual assault and include male rape.

Justice Department officials said the revision would make reporting of the crime more accurate and provide a better understanding of its effects on victims.

Uganda: Gay and Vilified in Uganda

December 22, 2011

WHEN Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this month that the United States would use diplomacy to encourage respect for gay rights around the world, my heart leapt. I knew her words — “gay people are born into, and belong to, every society in the world”— to be true, but in my country they are too often ignored.

Israel: Women Fight Back Against Jerusalem Billboard Vandals

December 2, 2011

Jewish women in the Britain and the US are being urged to send photographs of themselves holding signs saying "women should be seen and heard" in a campaign against efforts by the ultra-orthodox to remove female images from advertising billboards in Jerusalem.

Frat suspended after surveying its members on who they would like to rape

December 15, 2011

Really, Sigma Phi Epsilon? There’s no way the University of Vermont frat really thought it was ok to send a survey to its members asking, “If you could rape anyone, who would it be?” Is there? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted

December 14, 2011

An exhaustive government survey of rape and domestic violence released on Wednesday affirmed that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and in some instances may be far more common than previously thought.

USA: Ending Violence Against Women is Defending Human rights and Dignity

November 14, 2011

“I was excited to come to US, but since my arrival I have not had one happy day. He needed a servant and a nanny for his kids. For everything, I had to ask for his permission. He beat me frequently (not in front of the kids) and he said bad words to me that crashed my self-esteem and self-respect. But, I think hitting is better than the words that mutilated my soul. Bruises will disappear but his words keep echoing in my minds, in my ears and even up to this day drive me crazy. He threatened to “ship” me back and revoke his application for my green card. How can I go back? In my community the woman is the one who always being blamed...”

USA: Laws "Not Enough" to Tackle Violence Against Native Women

July 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, Jul 25, 2011 (IPS) - Juana Majel Dixon, first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, said earlier this year that, "Young women on reservations live their lives in anticipation of being raped…They talk about 'how I will survive my rape‚' as opposed to not thinking about it at all."

USA: Women Ride in Back on Sex-Segregated Brooklyn Bus Line

October 18, 2011

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

UN: General Assembly Holds Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

October 10, 2011

On October 10, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, presented her first written report to the Third Committee at the 66th session of the General Assembly. Ms. Manjoo opened by giving a summary of her report on the continuum of violence against women from the home to the transnational sphere: the challenges of effective redress.

Documenting Violence Against Women in 10 Countries

September 19, 2011

Karin Alfredsson is spearheading a nongovernmental project to document violence against women around the world, and to highlight the shortcomings and successes of legislation and other initiatives aimed at helping to curb it.

Stockholm: Violence against women worldwide causes more deaths and injuries than traffic accidents, cancer, and malaria combined.

Dear Facebook: Rape is No Joke

September 19, 2011

According to Facebook’s terms of service, users are not permitted to post content that is hateful, threatening or incites violence. But it appears that, in the minds of the Facebook powers-that-be, pages that encourage rape don’t violate that rule.

Canada/USA: Investigation of Cross-Border Underage Polygamous Marriages

August 9, 2011

VANCOUVER — The RCMP is preparing to head to Texas to look for more than two dozen brides from Bountiful, B.C., who were allegedly sent across the border as teens to marry older men, including a polygamous leader now facing a life sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage girls.

The Mounties launched a new criminal investigation into Bountiful earlier this year after a constitutional case examining Canada's anti-polygamy law heard allegations of cross-border marriages in the 1990s and early 2000s.

USA: Women have abortions whatever their religion

May 16, 2011

We are in the midst of very painful debates in Congress over family planning and abortion care. It’s time to catch our breath, step back and take a broader perspective. There’s an ongoing search for “common ground” on abortion, dreams of reaching an agreement that, once and for all, satisfies everyone involved. For those seeking this elusive “common ground,” a recently released Guttmacher Institute study holds the key.

United States: Muslim clerics sign up for evolution

May 28, 2011

The Imam Letter, launched this week in the US, is the latest challenge to Creationists of the three Abrahamic religions who reject evolution in favour of Creationism.

Creationism is the religious belief that all species were created in exactly the form they appear today.

USA: Catholic Bishops' Attack on Book Concerns Scholars

April 11, 2011


Is God male? The Old Testament uses the masculine pronoun to describe him. Jesus refers to the divinity as Father. So does that make the creator a masculine force — and mean that men are more godlike than women?

USA: The Tea Party and the new right-wing Christian feminism

July 5, 2010


Why have American women become so active in the right wing Tea Party movement? Could it be that they are drawn to the new conservative Christian feminism publicized by Sarah Palin? Without its grassroots female supporters, the Tea Party would have far less appeal to voters who are frightened by economic insecurity, threats to moral purity and the gradual disappearance of a national white Christian culture.

Religious Divorce Dispute Leads to Secular Protest

January 3, 2011


This should have been a good New Year’s for Aharon Friedman, a 34-year-old tax counsel for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. He spent time with his 3-year-old daughter, and could have been thinking about the influence he will have starting Wednesday, when his boss, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, becomes chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee.

USA: Landmark legislation addresses sexual violence against native women

July 23, 2010


Amnesty International has welcomed groundbreaking legislation in the USA, which addresses the disturbing rates of acts of sexual violence committed with impunity against American Indian and Alaska Native women.

The Tribal Law and Order Act, which was passed by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, aims to address public safety issues in Indian territories.

USA: Two Female Priests Buried as Church Outsiders

May 30, 2010

Female Catholic priests, deemed excommunicate by Rome, buried two of their own this month, neither one in a Catholic cemetery. "They threw us away," says a surviving member of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which marked its first deaths.

CHICAGO (WOMENSENEWS)--Two funerals this month find women ordained as Catholic priests buried outside the church they were striving to change from within.

USA: Equality Now Press Release on FGM

May 27, 2010

Equality now welcomes decision by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to withdraw its 2010 policy statement on female genital mutilation (FGM) that endorces pediatricians' "nicking" of girls' genitalia.<--break->New York - International human rights organization Equality Now welcomes the AAP’s decision to withdraw its ill-conceived revised policy statement on female genital mutilation (FGM) issued on April 26, 2010.

USA - Many Women Are Target of Sexual Advances by Faith Leaders - Survey

One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009

The study, by Baylor University researchers, found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.

Outrage over graphic T-shirts degrading women

T-SHIRT slogans condoning rape and featuring semi-naked and gagged women have outraged anti-exploitation advocates.

JON PIERIK
January 24, 2010

India - "Holiday Brides" Abandoned by Husbands in UK, US, Canada

"Holiday brides" in India have been deserted by husbands from the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

By Soraya Roberts
November 23, 2009

A Collection of Statements Concerning the Murder of Aasiya Hassan

Many thanks to Muslimahmediawatch.org for linking to these statements.

From Muslimah Media Watch:

Update on Sandeela Kanwal Case

Police in Atlanta have been investigating the death of a 25-year-old Pakistani woman, who was allegedly murdered by her father in the name of family honor.

Islam Says 'No' to Domestic Violence

The perfect couple

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful. No need for formal introductions, you know exactly who they are.