Roundup: Women Fight Against Violence, Romney’s Sex Ed Hypocrisy

Brady Swenson

Women fight to put violence on global agenda; San Francisco Chronicle warns proposition 4 threatens choice; Mitt Romney's sex ed hypocrisy; British org publishes sex ed booklet for six-year-old students; Progress on fight against TB/HIV; Tyra Banks takes on teen pregnancy.

Women Fight to Put Violence on Global Agenda

Women are working to maintain momentum in the effort to curb the global epidemic of violence against women.  Earlier this year United Nations Secretary General reinvigorated the UN’s efforts in this area with a new resolution to "eliminate rape and other forms of sexual violence," and some stirring words:

Violence against women is an issue that cannot wait. A brief look at
the statistics makes it clear. At least one out of every three women is
likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her
lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless
others are denied the right even to exist. No country, no culture, no
woman young or old is immune to this scourge. Far too often, the crimes
go unpunished, the perpetrators walk free.

It is a
campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of
violence, today and in the future. It is a campaign to stop the untold
cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind.

This week UNIFEM director Inés Alberdi is working to keep the pressure on with testimony before UN committees from victims of gender violence:

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But it is an issue with a lot of faces, like Joyce, who
was raped during the post-election violence in Kenya, and Tanya, who is
a survivor of domestic violence in New York City.

"My husband beat me when I was pregnant with his son.
He isolated me from my family and held me like a hostage in our home,"
42-year-old Tanya told IPS. After about four years of fear and
suffering, when her husband killed the dog and threatened her children,
she left.

Progress is beginning to be made with member states working to create new laws and more strictly enforce existing laws to curb violence against women:

U.N. officials point out that the fight against
gender-based violence is making progress on some fronts. "More
governments than ever are having violence against women on their
agenda," Maria José Alcalá, a senior advisor at UNIFEM, told IPS.

Now is a "most historic opportunity" to "change hearts
and minds", to overcome "limited political will of many countries" and
to stop them declaring violence against women a private matter — a
women’s issue — she added.

Even though the problem is not explicitly addressed by
the MDGs, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized in his latest report
to the General Assembly that sexual violence is a human rights issue
that poses a serious obstacle to the consolidation of peace and the
achievement of the broader MDGs.

"The prevalence of gender-based violence has serious
repercussions, including exposure to HIV/AIDS, other sexually
transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy and the abandonment of victims
by their families," he pointed out.

With many member states starting to implement a
resolution on "eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence"
that the General Assembly passed in February, the secretary-general
will report on this progress at the General Assembly’s upcoming session
next week.

Thailand, for example, amended its criminal code to
expand the definition of rape so that all types of sexual penetration
are covered by the law. Fifteen of the 28 African states where female
genital mutilation (FGM) is prevalent have made it an offence under
criminal law. And Turkey, Venezuela and Mexico enacted laws to
criminalize domestic violence.

In Kenya, the so-called Waki Commission of Inquiry
is investigating acts of sexual violence committed during the
post-election turmoil at the start of this year. Countries like
Algeria, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia and Vietnam concluded several bilateral arrangements to fight
violence against women together.


San Francisco Chronicle: Proposition 4 Would Undermine Abortion Rights

The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle warns California voters that Proposition 4, the ‘parental notification’ proposition, "follows the basic approach of its predecessors," both of which were defeated:

As we have said before, the arguments for parental notification may
sound reasonable, but the real-world experience of the medical
professionals who deal with scared pregnant teens suggest its
requirements are unnecessary – and even insidious. Planned Parenthood,
for example, strongly encourages young women to overcome their
reluctance to tell their parents before an abortion is performed. The
vast majority do.

Once again, the architects of parental notification – which includes
dedicated foes of abortion rights – have crafted exceptions that were
designed to appease concerns, but are cumbersome to the point of
cruelty for a teen in crisis. In the latest version, a physician could
notify an adult relative other than a parent if the patient claimed
physical, sexual or severe emotional abuse – and the doctor reported those allegations to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.

More than a decade ago, the California Supreme Court clearly
affirmed that a young woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the
state constitution’s strong privacy rights. Proposition 4 represents
yet another attempt to undermine that right. The practical effect of
this measure would be to put many young women at risk by delaying
abortion procedures, and thus making them more medically complicated.

Supporters of Proposition 4 claim to have the best of motives:
promotion of family communication and prevention of teen pregnancies.
We share both goals, but not this method to achieve them.

Family communication cannot be forged by government edict, and
reckless teen behavior will not be deterred by merely making abortion
more difficult. Unplanned pregnancies occur because young people are
either ignorant of the consequences – or oblivious to them.

Proposition 4 will not change that. Voters should reject it.


Mitt Romney’s Political Hypocrisy on Sex Education

Think Progress has a great post up picking apart the hypocrisy in recent attempts by Mitt Romney to defend a misleading McCain campaign advertisement on sex education.  Click over to Think Progress to see video of Romney saying:

Well, the specific bill that he, the specific bill that Barack Obama
voted for calls for sex education beginning as low as the kindergarten
and it includes in that bill language which says that each class is to
learn about sexually transmitted diseases. And in my opinion,
and John McCain and I share the same view, the only sex education
that’s appropriate in kindergarten is no sex education

The problem is that Romney’s made-for-TV soundbyte does not match his record on sex education:

As ABC News pointed out recently, Massachusetts established a set of K-12 goals
for the teaching of sex education prior to Romney’s term as governor.
“Those standards remained in place” during his tenure and “he did not challenge them.”

Romney has also previously stated his support for “responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate” sex education:

Planned Parenthood: Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?

Romney: Yes.

The bill cited by McCain, which Obama voted for in the Illinois State Senate, mandated that all sex education “be age and developmentally appropriate.”
Additionally, as MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski told Romney, under the
legislation, “what kindergartners would have been learning is how to
protect themselves from predators.”


British Organization Publishes Educational Booklet For Six-Year-Olds

Britain’s FPA, a non-profit organization, has published a sex education booklet that aims to teach six-year-old students basic facts of human anatomy:

The 12-page comic-style booklet, which will be distributed to schools, asks
children to identify the physical differences between boys and girls and
name their body parts properly. 

The announcement has sparked concern and worry in some camps that teaching sex education to young students is the province of parents and that breaching the subject at such a young age will "break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty."  The FPA has countered by saying that six is not too young to begin teaching children about their bodies:

On the contrary it was a good chance to get the conversation going because
children were not self-conscious or embarrassed about their bodies at that

“The booklet answers the questions that six-year-olds are already asking about
themselves, their families and the world around them,” said Julie Bentley,
chief executive of the FPA.

“Introducing ideas about love, relationships and body names at a very basic
level, when children are inquisitive and want to learn, lays a foundation
for learning when they’re much older and ready to find out more.”

Mortality Can Be Significantly Reduced for TB/HIV Patients

A recently concluded three year trial in South Africa has shown that "mortality among tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-infected patients can be
reduced by 55 percent, if antiretroviral therapy (ART) is provided with
TB treatment."  The South African Center for AIDS Program Research is now looking to team up with other organizations, like PEPFAR, to bring these effective new treatment methods to scale in Africa:

"The study shows that integrating TB and HIV treatment and care saves lives…," said Karim.

"The results provide compelling evidence to support the World Health
Organisation’s call for the greater collaboration between TB and HIV
treatment services…"

The co-ordinator of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for
Aids Relief (Pepfar) Mark Dybul said the scaling up of collaborative
TB/HIV activities was a priority for the organization.

"We remain committed to increasing screening for both HIV and TB, which
will allow greater numbers of patients to benefit from these study


Tyra Banks to Take on Teen Pregnancy

Afternoon talk show host Tyra Banks will sit down with 10 teen girls, most of whom are pregnant, on her show today.  The show says that a recent web survey of 10,000 teens reveals that "64% of teen girls are having sex, one in five say they want to be teen
moms, and more than 50% of sexually active teens don’t use protection.
Some say they want ‘baby bumps’ like their favorite celebs, while
others feel a baby will restore a broken relationship." You can catch a video preview of the episode at the show’s website.


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