August/September News Round Up

Wom*news’ bimonthly news round up of feminist and wom*n-related news, by the fabulous Laura Howden! This news round up will be featured in the upcoming “Bodies” issue of wom*news.

National

  • RU486 has been approved for wide(r) use by Therapeutic Goods Administration. It is now available for prescription by GPs as an option for women seeking termination, subject to the completion of online training. This will be of particular benefit to women living in areas with limited or no access to abortion facilities. Angela Taft, co-ordinator for the Women’s Health Special Interest Group, says the challenge now is to extend education around sexual health and contraception and ultimately, ensure the accessibility of good quality abortion services.
  • #destroythejoint, a feminist public media response to Alan Jones suggestion that women shouldn’t be participating in politics, has gathered considerable support among Australian women and men. Within days of the radio presenter’s now infamous rant, a ‘Destroy the Joint’ facebook page (now hovering at 6500 likes) and change.org petition had been established to put pressure on 2GB Radio and their advertisers.Public twitter feeds have overwhelmingly supported this movement: “Dear 2GB advertisers,” tweets TeineSamoa, “as a woman who’s #destroyingthejoint I’ll be boycotting any and all of your products until Alan Jones is taken off air.”
  • The recent cessation of funding to the ‘Queensland Working Women’s Centre’ by the Queensland government, has since been saved thanks to intervention by the federal government. Campbell Newman’s decision has been described by Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten as “short sighted,” and attributes the decision to save the centre as “the federal government standing up for working women in Queensland.”

International

  • Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy after a successful bid for political asylum, in light of possible extradition to Sweden over alleged sexual offences: including one count of sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual coercion. He has since commented that “the Swedish government could drop the case… I think this is the most likely scenario,” during an interview conducted inside the embassy.
  • U.S. Republican Senate Nominee Todd Akin’s recent, and highly controversial, statement on “legitimate rape”is not as isolated an incident as one might believe. Paul Ryan, a Republican representative from Wisconsin, framed rape as simply another “method of conception” in an interview just days after Akin’s comments.Conservative Columnist for the National Review, Mona Charen, took it upon herself to defend Akin’s views with a series of left-of-field comments. “[Although it] appears that there is no evidence that pregnancies are less likely in cases of rape… it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to me. Many things about the human body are peculiar and amazing.”
  • A collective gathering of 16 women’s social reform groups in the Togo have called for “sex strikes” protesting against the current regime, and recent electoral reforms aiding current president Gnassingbe’s bid to win seats in the upcoming October vote. “Women don’t have a lot of power in Togo, but everybody knows that men rely on us for certain things. This is a powerful way of expression,” said Astou Yabi, one of the protest organisers.

Celebrity

  • Despite the recent jailing of three of its members, over a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian punk group ‘Pussy Riot’ have plans for further protest action. We first of all want to do a new protest finally, so that we have something to talk about,” said two band members, nicknamed ‘Balaclava’ and ‘Tomcat,’ in a radio interview with Russian program Radio Liberty. The members, sentenced to imprisonment, will appeal their sentence on October 1st. Moscow police continue the search for two unidentified band members, who partook in February’s “Punk Prayer” action that led to the subsequent jailing of their three colleagues.

Sport

  • Four female athletes from the University of Sydney have collected, among them,one gold, four silver and two bronze medals in the British 2012 Paralympics. Swimmer Prue Watt qualified fastest for the final race, and subsequently beat that mark again with a time of 1:19.19 to secure gold. Psychology honours student and athletics competitor, Angela Ballard, won silver in the women’s T53 400m; her third medal from the London Games. Sarah Stewart and Katie Hill collected silver medals as part of the Australian Women’s Basketball Team.
  • Jacqueline Freney, a swimmer from Brisbane and competitor in the 2012 London Paralympics, won an incredible 8 gold medals in swimming at the London Paralympic Games. Bravo, Jacqueline!
  • The London 2012 Olympics was the first games in which all nations included women in their contingent of athletes. Winning four gold medals and one bronze, U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin became the most decorated woman of the 2012 Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee attributed the success of Ms. Franklin and her fellow national female athletes to Title 9: a 40-year-old federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in American school sports. It was also the first time in history that the U.S. contingent included more women than men.Like the U.S. the majority of medal winners from Russia and China were also women, sparking comments from several journalists that the 2012 London Olympics were “momentous” for the recognition of women’s sporting achievements.
  •  The first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympic Games, Sarah Attar, says her presence in the London 2012 Olympics could well prove a significant inspiration for women in her conservative home country.

Collective

  • Emma Di Bernardo, Rosie Cuppaidge and Caitlin Gordon-King, on behalf of the UQ and QUT Women’s Collectives, composed and sent a letter to Premier Campbell Newman expressing extreme concern and discontent around his decision to withdraw funding from the ‘Sisters Inside’ initiative. We hope that this will send a message to the Queensland LNP as to the vital nature of this service, for the welfare of women within Australian prison systems
  • The UQ Women’s Collective bake sale held on August the 9th, in honour of Bluestockings Week (celebrating the unsung academic accomplishments of women) was a roaring success! Members of the collective baked a range of vegan, gluten free and all-round delicious baked goods to fundraise for future Collective Events.
  • Johanna Qualmann, Emma Di Bernardo, Charlotte Audley-Coote and Joanna Horton penned a collaborative letter of concern on behalf of the UQ Women’s Collective, regarding several incidences of mistreatment and disrespect by the current UQ Student Union. 

References

Author not listed. 2012. Canberra Saves Qld Women’s Support Group. Retrieved from http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/canberra-saves-qld-womens-support-group-20120906-25gc8.html

Author not listed. 2012. Togo Groups Call for Sex Strike. Retrieved from http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1686243/Togo-groups-call-for-sex-strike

Charen, Mona. 2012. Akin and His Critics. Retrieved from http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/314718/akin-and-his-critics-mona-charen#

Herald Sun. 2012. Pussy Riot Members Announce New Protest. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/pussy-riot-members-announce-new-protest/story-e6frf7k6-1226473824141

Jill. 2012. The Republican Rape Problem. Retrieved 10th September from http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/08/27/the-republican-rape-problem/

O’Brien, Suzie. 2012. Time for Julian Assange to Face the Music. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/time-for-julian-assange-to-face-the-music/story-e6frfhqf-1226454432808

Pillai, Swaminathan. 2012. How Women Athletes Made History at London Olympics. Retrieved from http://zeenews.india.com/sports/london-olympics-2012/analysis/how-women-athletes-made-history-at-london-olympics_747558.html

Robinson, Martin. 2012. Assange Pledges To Hide in Ecuador’s Embassy. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2196256/Julian-Assange-pledges-hide-Ecuadors-embassy-long-takes-Sweden-drop-case-him.html (For Julian Assange)

Taft, Angela. 2012. RU486 Approval ‘A Great Leap Forward for Women.’ Retrievedfrom http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1687487/RU486-approval-a-great-leap-forward-for-women

The Wall. 2012. No No, When Alan Jones Said Women Are Destroying the Joint… Retrieved from http://thewall.com.au/topics/86692-no-no-when-alan-jones-said-women-are-destroying

The Guardian. 2012. Saudi Arabia’s First Female Olympic Athlete Hails Progress. Retrieved fromhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/aug/09/saudi-arabia-female-athlete-video

Wilson, Ben. 2012. University of Sydney Paralympians Bring Home Gold, Silver and Bronze from London 2012. Retrieved from http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newscategoryid=7&newsstoryid=10033&utm_source=console&utm_medium=news&utm_campaign=cws

 

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