Kay SteigerFeb 22, 2007
RAPE IN IRAQ . In a horrifying convergence of events this week, Iraqi women are taking the center stage as rape victims. Two soldiers pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old Iraqi teenager and murdering her along with her family. From yesterday's testimony: "I lifted up her skirt and took off her stockings while Barker held her hands with his knees," [ Sgt. Paul E. Cortez , 24] said before admitting that he raped the teenager as she screamed. "After I was done, myself and [ Spec. James P. Barker ] switched spots." Meanwhile, Iraq has been roiled by a 20-year-old married woman named Sabrine al-Janabi who says she was sexually assaulted by Iraqi security forces. Political leaders have accused al-Janabi (a Sunni woman) of lying in order to make the Shiite-dominated security forces look bad. She was examined at an American hospital, which leaked part of her medical records (only one page out of a multi-page report that simply says there were "no vaginal lacerations or obvious injury") to...
Kay SteigerFeb 20, 2007
WORKING MOMS OR CONGRESSWOMEN? ALWAYS BOTH . The NYT features a profile today of freshman Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand . The article points out the balance of campaigning while in office and the struggles of Democrats to differentiate themselves from their Republican counterparts on Iraq, but the article also notes that Gillibrand is a wife and mother of a 3-year-old son. This leads me to wonder, how often do profiles of male politicians point out that they are husbands and fathers? It seems not nearly as often as profiles of female politicians. The reason for this is partially that it is somewhat politically advantageous to position oneself as a "working mother" in government, but it is also because women find themselves bound to their personal lives more than men. For men, it is an easy division, for women, it seems impossible to separate the two. -- Kay Steiger
Kay SteigerFeb 16, 2007
THE 30 PERCENT RULE. Women's E-News reported today that Chile is debating a quota law for women in congressional representation. The article noted that more than 50 countries around the world have laws requiring a certain percentage of women hold offices in congress or parliament. Opponents of the law in Chile say it will be tricky to implement because it may "threaten the political longevity of at least some male legislators." Clara Bingham pointed out that despite the new female leadership in Congress, women still fall far below quotas set in third-world countries like Rwanda and first-world countries like Sweden. Even the new constitution implemented in Iraq required quotas for women. This opens it up to discussion, especially considering our geographically based system of representation, how the United States could push for gender equality in government. -- Kay Steiger
Kay SteigerFeb 15, 2007
ON MINNESOTA POLITICS . Al Franken has been saying he's going to run for Senate for a while now. (As the aforementioned Minnesota native on staff, I especially love this colorful illustration of Minnesotans depicted as simpletons courtesy the New York Times .) The recent announcement just made it official. I'm going to venture out on a limb and say Franken actually has a shot. Remember, he's running against Norm Coleman , who got elected following Paul Wellstone 's tragic death. And Norm Coleman actually used to be a Democrat back when he was elected mayor of St. Paul. Really, it's going to come down to the DFL nomination, because although outstate Minnesota is fairly conservative, statewide elections are decided mostly by the residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul (overwhelmingly liberal). In fact, I remember Minneapolis' CityPages making the comment once that in Minneapolis, it's the Green Party on the left and the DFL on the right. The fact is, Minnesota suffers from Ralph Nader...