A weekly roundup of stories related to women, health, law and development from around the world. You are welcome to share this news brief with friends and colleagues, and to comment on the articles in the Piazza discussion forum.
A new law in Afghanistan prevents family members from testifying against each other on issues regarding domestic violence. Because most violence against women takes place in the home, this new law, which has been passed by parliament but not yet signed by President Karzai, makes it nearly impossible for perpetrators of violence to be punished for their crime.
Listen to this fascinating news update describing the incredible impact and capability of the mobile phone in Kenya. The mobile phone’s ability to impact women, particularly on the use of SMS texts between a midwife and pregnant mothers as well as reducing the reliance of women upon middlemen, is incredibly inspiring and highlights the positive impact technology can have.
A recent study of 90,000 women in Canada (which took over 25 years to complete) found that mortality rates of women who had breast exams and no mammogram and women who had breast exams and mammograms were the same. Thus, the study calls into question the effectiveness of mammograms. In fact, 1 in 5 of the women who received mammograms and were found to have cancer underwent treatment and/or medical procedures that were unnecessary, suggesting that sometimes mammograms can do more harm than good.
In the last two decades, women worldwide have fewer children, higher literacy, and are less likely to die while delivering babies. However, this article discusses how the improvements have disproportionately benefitted wealthy countries-- in poor countries, childbirth is still the leading cause of death in women between 15-19, for example, and little overall progress has been made in women's health.
Singapore's Health Promotion Board recently published an online brochure on sexuality, which sparked debate about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in Singapore. Petitions have emerged, some calling upon the government to remove the brochure because it promotes homosexuality and others applauding the brochure.
This article describes Valentine's Day in Pakistan, a country where the punishment for adultery is death and public displays of love are banned. Couples celebrate the holiday secretly and use the day as a "form of rebellion."
The Clinton Foundation, Gates Foundation and New York University are evaluating the progress of women's rights since the 1995 Beijing conference. The effort is spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, who wishes to obtain data that guides what needs to be done to increase female presence in education, politics, and the economy across the world.
Helms Amendment of 1973 restricts the use of US foreign aid for abortions "as a method of family planning." The opinion piece argues that because pregnancies that result from rape have nothing to do with family planning, the law should be clarified to allow foreign aid to help victims of rape, incest, and life-endangerment find resources for abortions.
This article comments on the declining rate of abortions in the US -- abortion rates have reached their lowest level since 1973. In fact, 50% of pregnancies in American women are unintended, but only 21% end in abortion. As a result, women who had a baby that did not intend to are three times more likely to be living in poverty compared to women who underwent an abortion.
This opinion piece discusses women in Asia who travel outside of their homeland to work as domestic laborers abroad. Lack of regulation and laws regarding the rights of these women often leave them vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment.
Women in Kenya have been negotiating with fishermen for generations, buying the fish being sold at the market half with currency and half with their bodies. This practice is gradually being eradicated as women are being empowered by micro enterprise business to own their own fishing boats.
This article, written by a student in International Women’s Health & Human Rights, discusses the concept of “honor” in many societies, and how upholding “honor” leads to violations of women’s rights. Basch-Harod explores the growing number of both women and men in these communities who question pre-conceived notions of “honor” (particularly in the context of FGMs and forced marriages) and instead “embrace shame” and act in a truly moral fashion.
Women in the News (WIN) is a weekly publication of International Women's Health & Human Rights.