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Crusaders for have-nots

They have all done their bit for their kind and on Tuesday last they took the centrestage at an awards function at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center. Four women were honoured for their leadership in advancing human and economic rights for their sex in their home countries. Among them was Jaya Arunachalam from India who helped start a bank for poor women. Once disparaged as a 'group of devils', Arunachalam said her 27-year crusade now covers 7,00,000 women from 3,000 Indian villages. The three other winners were Latifa Jbabdi from Morocco, Mu Sachua from Cambodia and Natalia Dmitruk from Ukraine. While Jbabdi fought for equal rights in marriage in Morocco, Sachua devoted her life to stop trafficking in southeast Asia through dialogue between the governments. Dmitruk, a sign-language interpreter for state-run television, helped spark Ukraine's 'orange' revolution when she took a risk on air and informed the deaf community that the recent Ukrainian election was a 'fraud'. (Reuters)

Last resort

Kenya has opened the way for a new sexual offence bill to be introduced. Kenyan members of Parliament have unanimously passed a motion calling for convicted rapists to be castrated. In recent years, the African nation has been shocked by horrific rape cases. According to Njoki Ndung'u, the member who moved the motion, two women are raped every hour in Kenya and that police are too lax in prosecuting the offenders. A women's rights lawyer, Ndung'u commented that rape is being under-reported in Kenya, which has become a haven for sex tourism.

No-win situation

It's a no-win situation for pregnant women with a history of epilepsy. They have to make a difficult choice ' to continue treatment with anti-epileptic drugs or risk uncontrolled seizures that can harm the foetus. According to a report in the journal Epilepsia, the use of drugs increases the risk of birth defects. But most women with active epilepsy continue their drug therapy and more than 90 per cent of them give birth to healthy babies. However, the article indicated that the effects of such therapy may not become apparent till the child reaches school age.

Beat this

Wife-beaters take note. Members of mahila panchayat might just drag you to the court. They meet and hold court every Wednesday evening in the Capital. The maroon sari-clad crusaders issue formal notices to the accused in marital disputes to be present during hearings and also deal with the offenders as the situation demands. Supported by the Delhi Commission for Women, these officials do not find the going very easy, given the 'egoistic male attitude, which refuse to take a women's group seriously'. The 150 volunteers of the group are mostly victims of domestic violence and marital discord. (PTI)

MARIA SHARAPOVA

GAME, SET AND MATCH

The gender gap at Wimbledon is narrowing. But even after all this the Maria Sharapovas and the Venus Williamses are going to be worth less than the Roger Federers and Andy Roddicks. This year, the women's champion at the Mecca of tennis is going to win '600,000 ' still '30,000 less than the men's winner. The gap remains even after the All England Club announced this week that the prize money is going to be raised in recognition of the 'current stature of the women's game'. Incidentally, the prize money at the US Open and the Australian Open are equal.

 

 

Overheard' that a jury in Connecticut, US, ordered a charter airline company to pay $27 million to a woman for failing to keep her ex-husband from taking her children out of the country

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