COMPILED BY DANIELLE TATE-STRATTON
High-level officials in the US military are pushing to allow women to serve in submarines as part of a policy of widening opportunities for women within the service. Since being allowed into combat in 1990, women have been serving on some surface-based combat ships and aircraft, but as of yet haven’t been allowed under water.
The Democratic Party of Japan is hoping to introduce a bill in early 2010 that would amend the 1947 constitution and allow married women to keep their own names. Their children would be allowed to choose which surname to use.
A recently launched campaign in Florida is hoping to add a new amendment to the Florida constitution through a vote in the 2010 election. The proposed ballot revolves around the concept of personhood and essentially states that a fertilised embryo is a person, privy to the same inalienable rights as a living person. Anti-abortion activists have been pushing such amendments around the country, although none have passed so far. Should the amendment be successfully passed, some forms of birth control would be banned, as would all forms of abortion, even in cases of rape. In order to find a place on the ballot, 675,000 signatures in support of the measure must be gathered. Following that, in order to change the Constitution, 60 percent of voters would have to vote for the measure. A similar measure was recently approved by Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock for addition to the November ballot in that state’s upcoming election.
Contractors protecting the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, have been accused of human trafficking for sexual purposes, often frequenting brothels and even bragging about the profit one could make for ‘buying a girl for $20,000.’ Many of the victims are young Chinese women who have been brought to Kabul against their will to work in the sex industry.
In what is being called a tragedy by the head of the UN children’s agency, 12-year-old Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, a Yemeni child bride, died following childbirth recently. The girl was just 11 when she was married to her 24-year-old husband, and the event highlights the physical dangers of childbirth at such a young age—girls who give birth under the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to die than a woman in her 20s. Though Yemen recently passed a law making it illegal for girls under the age of 17 to marry, some law-makers have been calling the bill un-Islamic, and trying to have it overturned. As a result, it has been sent back to the parliament’s constitutional committee for review.
The University of Rochester Medical Center has recently discovered that gabapentin, a generic drug traditionally used to treat seizures, helps improve the quality of sleep experienced by menopausal women suffering from hot flashes. The use of this drug could be beneficial as it lacks the dependency issues related to other sleep medications and also avoids the use of hormone therapy.
A study from Indiana University has shown that women with higher ‘genital self-esteem’ are more likely to be able to orgasm, as well as visit the gynaecologist on a regular basis. Researchers found that women are concerned with the look and cleanliness of their genitals, a trend they attribute largely to marketing campaigns for products such as ‘sex wipes.’
One of Canada’s most celebrated writers, Alice Munro, recently became the winner of the third Man Booker International Prize, which comes with an award of 60,000 GBP and is awarded once every two years to a living author who has contributed internationally to fiction as a whole. Munro, 78, also recently withdrew her short story collection Too Much Happiness from contention for The Giller Prize, Canada’s national book award, saying that as she has already won twice she would prefer to give someone else a chance.
fdA school in England, the Bingley Grammar School in West Yorkshire, which has been open since 1529, has recently introduced a new uniform regulation that requires female students to wear trousers as the hemlines of some students’ skirts were so short they were beginning to elicit concern from both parents and members of the community. The change in the uniform policy applies to all but those in the sixth form, who are allowed to wear their own clothes to school.
A charitable handout of flour during Ramadan turned tragic in a small, disadvantaged Pakistani town as 18 women were killed during a riot. The flour was handed out in a small, cramped building, and as the crowd panicked, guards pushed back forcibly, adding to the panic and leading to the tragedy. The private donor who was giving away the flour was detained for failing to give prior notice of the event to area police.
A recent study has shown that among women with advanced cardiac failure, implanting cardioverter-defibrillators designed to detect abnormal heart rhythms and provide a life-saving shock, may not actually provide any measurable health-saving benefit. In an analysis of 934 women, there was no significant decrease in the rate of death amongst implanted women as compared to those on drug therapy. However, in a similar analysis of over 3,000 men, a significant increase in life span was observed.
A study conducted in Colombia and published in The Lancet has shown that women 24–65 also receive a great deal of benefit from receiving the Gardisil vaccine and, provided they haven’t previously suffered from cancer-causing genital warts or cervical disease, are less likely to contract HPV than those who didn’t receive the injection. The Merck-funded study also showed the vaccine could prevent men from contracting the virus in up to 90 percent of cases.