Friday Double Dose: Katha Pollitt Pens List, Business of Beauty and 16 days of Activism

By Christine Cupaiuolo — December 1, 2006

Let’s Hear it for New Hampshire: This week, New Hampshire became the first state in the country to announce plans to provide the newly approved vaccine against cervical cancer to all girls between the ages of 11 and 18. The vaccine will be made available through the state’s universal children’s vaccine program, which offers free immunizations. Australia’s stepping up, too.

She’s Making a List …: Katha Pollitt writes: “We all know the reason boys don’t read is that female teachers assign books about girls, and girls have cooties; and the reason half of all marriages end in divorce is that women have outrageous expectations, like that their husbands should talk to them; and the reason the Democrats lose elections is that they pander to female voters instead of being manly and tough. Oh, wait a minute, the Democrats won the last election. Women aren’t just evil, they’re powerful.” Read what else women are responsible for …

Business of Beauty: “[O]bstetricians, family practitioners and emergency room physicians are gravitating to the beauty business, lured by lucrative cosmetic treatments that require same-day payments because they are not covered by insurance and by a medical practice without bothersome midnight emergency calls,” reports The New York Times.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: From Amnesty International to Take Back the Tech, which encourages users to take action using information and communication technologies (cell phones, instant messengers, blogs, digital cameras, etc.), organizations around the world are mobilizing around the issue of violence against women. The 16 Days of Activism began Nov. 25 and runs through Dec. 10.

In South Africa, Bishop Israel Malele plans to simply give a sermon on Sunday in support of women. “I want our people to know that God never said women are inferior or that they should be abused. […] I will confront the situation seriously on Sunday, because, deny it or not, some believers don’t see anything wrong with domestic violence,” Malele said.

The United Nations Population Fund is highlighting five under-reported stories relating to gender-based violence for 2006: the rise of bridenapping in Central Asia; breast-ironing, which is practiced in some West African countries and is just as bad as it sounds — it involves flattening the breasts of young girls to deter male attention; the epidemic of traumatic fistula in Africa; the ongoing femicide of women in Guatemala; and girls forced into marriage.

Plus: Be sure to read The New York Times front-page story on sexual abuse against girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. “In much of the continent, child advocates say, perpetrators are shielded by the traditionally low status of girls, a lingering view that sexual abuse should be dealt with privately, and justice systems that constitute obstacle courses for victims,” writes Shannon LaFraniere.

Some Good News: Young African women are reporting an increase in condom use. Voice of America reports on a recently published study in Lancet, the British medical journal: “The Lancet study surveyed the sexual behavior of 130,000 young single women from 18 African countries between 1993 and 2001. Abstinence and fidelity rates among this population aged 15-24 remained relatively unchanged, while the percentage of respondents who said their male partners used condoms more than tripled from 5.3 to 18.8 percent.”

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