Chile Offers Plan B; Trafficking Big Biz



Chile announced it would offer emergency contraception pills free to women 14 years of age and older, reported Sept. 6. This comes two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B pills for over-the-counter sale to women 18 and older.

Chilean Health Minister Maria Soledad Barria said women can get the prescription pills from a physician for free without parental consent. She said the initiative is intended to reduce teenage pregnancy. In 2004, 14 percent of pregnant women were teens, resulting in 40,000 births, the minister said.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The Illinois Department of Health expanded a state program to ensure that at least 3,000 women will be able to receive cancer screenings and treatment, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sept. 8. Women with an annual income below $50,000 and between the ages of 35 and 64, will qualify for the pelvic exams and Pap tests.
  • Nigeria's senate will consider a bill to stop domestic violence, the Tide News, in Port Harcourt, reported Sept. 7. The bill offers a definition of domestic violence and stipulates fines for various offenses. Anyone convicted of trafficking, prostituting or enslavement faces a two-year prison sentence. The bill calls for the creation of two commissions, one to monitor violence against women and another to collect funds to help survivors.

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“More Services Reach Abused Immigrant Women”:

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Sex trafficking of women and girls is the third-largest form of international trade, following the sale of arms and drugs, according to a report released Sept. 6 by the United Nations Population Fund, based in New York.

Of the 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked a year across international borders, 80 percent are women and girls, said the report on women and international migration. Worldwide an estimated 2.45 million people are trafficked. In most cases, they work as sex slaves who earn nothing and suffer physical and sexual abuses.

Female domestic workers often work in slave-like conditions, receiving little pay and often trapped by employers who threaten to revoke their visas or expose their illegal immigration status. Many migrant women, who make up about half of all migrants, work to support families back home. In 2005 they contributed $232 billion in remittances, half of which went to the developing world.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The Women's Health and Wellness Act that bars discrimination against women seeking insurance coverage for contraception was challenged in the New York State Court of Appeals Wednesday by Catholic Charities, a social services network, based in Alexandria, Va., and two Baptist churches, the Albany Times Union reported Sept. 7.
  • Sixty-eight parliamentarians in Pakistan threatened to walk out if the government amends the country's rape law that requires four witnesses be present to prosecute the crime, the Associated Press reported Sept. 5. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's 344-member National Assembly has been studying ways to stiffen its prosecution of rape. Under the existing law, a woman alleging rape who can't provide four witnesses can be convicted of adultery, which is punishable by death.
  • Census Bureau data analysis shows that in 2005, women earned less than men in every U.S. state and region, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 30. The gap between male and female wages was most narrow in Washington, D.C., where women's average wages were 91 percent of men's. Women working in finance and insurance earned only about 55 percent of men's earnings, the widest gap.
  • Japan's national debate over whether a woman should be eligible to take over Japan's 1500-year-old royal empire, ended Wednesday when Princess Kiko, 39, and mother of two daughters, gave birth to a boy, news agencies reported Sept. 6.
  • The Texas Medical Board, based in Austin, passed regulations requiring minors seeking abortions to obtain written and notarized parental consent forms, the Associated Press reported Sept. 1. The six-page form was created after the state passed legislation in 2005 requiring unmarried women under 18 to obtain parent permission for an abortion. Previously, minors were required only to inform their parents. Young women can circumvent the requirement if they prove that gaining parental permission could put them in danger.

  • Muslim women in the United Kingdom face job discrimination because of their religious garb, the Guardian reported Sept. 7. According to a study by the Equal Opportunities Commission, about 1,500 women have experienced job discrimination for wearing the hijab-a religious scarf used to cover the head and body. The study also found that 90 percent of women from Bangladesh and Pakistan-a group that is in turn 90 percent Muslim-are the most poorly paid. The study indicated that the majority of the surveyed women are determined to achieve good education and career.


  • Katie Couric made her debut Tuesday as the first woman to take over as permanent anchor of a major U.S. broadcast station's evening news show. The CBS network broadcast attracted more than 13 million viewers, various news sources reported. This was the largest evening news audience since February 1998 when CBS aired the Winter Olympics in Nagano.
  • In Florida, Democrat Kathy Castor won her Democratic primary bid for the 11th congressional district Tuesday, reported, Sept. 5. She won against Senate Minority Les Miller, with 54 percent of the votes. In the November General Election, Castor will face Republican Eddie Adams Jr., an African-American architect. Despite party opposition, Republican candidate Katherine Harris won Tuesday's primary for the Senate seat, where she faced three male opponents.