Sportswomen Win in Court; Canada Teen Killed



It's been a fruitful fall for the advancement of women's sports equality.

This week, the New York Knicks agreed to pay $11.5 million to Anucha Browne Sanders, a former executive who sued both the team and its coach, Isaiah Thomas, for sexual harassment. A jury awarded Sanders $11.6 million earlier this fall, and hearings on compensatory damages were due to begin this week when the two sides settled.

Other major suits have been resolved recently at California universities where female employees sued under Title IX. Within the past five months, three women's coaches and athletic directors won three separate Fresno, Calif., cases. A volleyball coach won $5.85 million, a basketball coach won $19.1 million and a former athletic director won $3.5 million.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Over 1,000 Afghan women held peace prayers across six provinces to protest violence spreading across their country, the BBC reported Dec. 12.
  • In Kentucky, 21 women convicted for killing or trying to kill men-who they say abused them-have received clemency, pardons or partial pardons from Gov. Ernie Fletcher. The women said their original sentences failed to acknowledge the element of self-defense, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Dec. 10.
  • Female scholars of Reform Judaism mined the Torah to produce a comprehensive commentary reflecting their voice and experience to annotate religious readings. Women of Reform Judaism, a group based in New York, raised $1.5 million and spearheaded the project, the Jewish online publication JTA reported Dec. 9.
  • A Texan is suing Halliburton for covering up a gang rape two years after the alleged incident in Baghdad, the New York Daily News reported Dec. 11. The plaintiff, Jamie Leigh Jones, 22, says she was drugged and raped by several male coworkers who then locked her up in a shipping container. Halliburton, a multinational based in Houston, Texas, services the gas, oil and military industry.

For more information:

Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations:

Global Campaign for Education, “Global School Report 2008: No Excuses!”:

Department of Defense, Annual Report on Sexual Harassment andViolence at the U.S. Military Service Academies :

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The murder of a Toronto teen of Pakistani origin has torn up a devout Muslim family and reheated Canada's national debate over the Muslim veil, or hijab. Mohammad Parvez is accused of strangling to death his youngest daughter, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez, after an alleged family row over the girl's refusal to wear the religious headscarf, Canada's National Post reported Dec. 13.

Canadian Muslim groups have condemned the act of violence as un-Islamic. Others have called into question the practice of blaming Islam and the Muslim religious community when a Muslim person commits a crime.

Also this week, union leaders in Quebec called for a provincial law to prevent public servants, particularly judges and teachers, from wearing restrictive religious clothing such as the Muslim veil inside public institutions. Muslim groups criticized the move, which follows public discussion of women's right to vote while veiled, as an attack on Islam.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a Muslim woman arrested in 2005 for boarding public transportation without a valid ticket filed a federal lawsuit charging that the one-day period she spent unveiled in prison constituted a violation of her religious freedoms. This is the second case in Southern California this year over the forced veil removals in prison, the Southern California Press-Enterprise reported Dec. 7.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Only 18 of 113 countries are on track to meet the United Nations' goal of achieving equal education for girls by 2015. A Dec.11 report issued by the Global Campaign for Education found that 1 in 4 women lack basic literacy. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Somalia and North Korea fared worst on gender equality rankings. Afghanistan saw the greatest improvement in school enrollment. In the study's developing world ranking Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay shared first place for progress in providing equal access to education.
  • A Dec. 7 Defense Department report on sexual assault at military academies expressed concern that at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., four accusations of sexual assault resulted in no disciplinary actions. The report urged the institutions, which allow victims to receive counseling and file confidential reports without pressing charges, to follow up and discover whether intimidation or harassment keeps some women from doing so, the Washington Post reported Dec. 9.
  • Iranian police stations run by women will enforce the government's vice crackdown against women, the Agence France Presse reported Dec. 6. More than 300,000 women in Iran have been detained for breaking Islamic dress codes this year.
  • In Iraq, female police officers were ordered to turn in their guns, the Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 10. The Interior Ministry order dealt a blow to U.S.-led efforts to train and integrate over 1,000 Iraqi women into the police force.
  • In Australia, six juveniles were placed on probation and three older men received suspended sentences after admitting to raping a 10-year-old Aborigine girl in 2005, the BBC reported Dec. 10. The judge, Sarah Bradley, sparked a national outcry by telling defendants the girl had probably consented to sex with all of them. The lead prosecutor has been suspended pending an investigation of his decision not to seek jail sentences for the nine rapists.
  • In India, a law designed to protect women from in-laws' demands that they produce a dowry upon marriage is fueling a backlash, the Guardian reported Dec. 13. Men's groups like the Save Indian Family Foundation are organizing against what they say are abuses of the system. They say women are using the laws to extort settlements from them.


  • Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who led Ukraine's pro-democracy protests in 2004, lost her bid in parliament to become prime minister by one vote on Dec. 11.
  • Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was sworn in Dec. 10 as Argentina's first elected female president.
  • After the swearing-in of Jean Benson as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., on Dec. 13, the majority of the cities in Southern California's Coachella Valley have female mayors, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reported. Four other municipalities in the desert region are led by women: Yvonne Parks is mayor of Desert Hot Springs; Mary Roche is mayor of Indian Wells; Kathy DeRosa is mayor of Cathedral City; and Lupe Ramos Watson is mayor of Indio, the first Hispanic person to hold the position in 75 years.

Sarah Seltzer is the editorial intern; Dominque Soguel is Arabic editor.

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