Today’s Lady News: French Muslim Woman Fined For Driving While Veiled

  • A French Muslim woman received a $29 fine from police in Nantes, France, for wearing a veil while driving a car. Police say the body-covering veil — called a niqab, which only had slits at her eyes — restricted her vision and could have caused an accident. However, the 31-year-old woman’s lawyer said this is part of a larger campaign by the French government to place restrictions on Muslims, which some say is religious discrimination. [BBC]
  • A California appeals court has blocked director Roman Polanski’s attempt to block his extradition to the United States from Switzerland, where he is under house arrest. Months ago, Polanski was arrested after 33 years as a fugitive from justice for raping a teenaged girl. Polanski only served 27 days in jail in 1977 for the incident. [New York Times]
  • Sarah Jessica Parker is going to narrate the “American Women: Fashioning a National Identity” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The exhibit looks at all the changes in women’s clothing from 1890 until 1940. []

  • Missouri’s State Senate passed legislation that adds more requirements to the existing 24-hour waiting period on abortions. Abortion providers would have to give a woman specific details about the development of the fetus and to offer them the chance to see an ultrasound and listen to a heartbeat. [KRCG]
  • Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to the CEO of the health insurance company WellPoint today to say she was “surprised and disappointed” at a recent bombshell that the company used a computer algorithm to locate and then drop breast cancer patients from health insurance coverage. “I hope you will consider these women and their families as you work to end this harmful practice,” Sebelius wrote. [Reuters]
  • William Barnason, 57, a former building superintendent in New York City, has been sued by the United States attorney’s office for allegedly sexually harassing female tenants and demanding sexual favors in exchange for reduced rent. Lawyers say Barnason made unwanted verbal advances and threats to female tenants of three buildings on the Upper West Side, grabbed several women inappropriately, and tried to get into their apartments while drunk. Barnason also allegedly yelled obscenities at female tenants, withheld their male and refused to make repairs. The buildings’ landlord, Stanley Katz, is also named in the suit for receiving multiple complaints about Barnason but taking no action. Barnason is also a convicted “high risk” child sex offender who served 14 years in prison for molesting or raping three girls, ages 5, 6, 7, and another female who was over the age of 17. I’ve said it once; I’ve said it a thousand times: Why do we let sex offenders — let alone child sex offenders — out of prison, again? [New York Times]
  • Andrew Hutson, 31, the manager of a topless bar in Detroit, Michigan, has been charged with hiring a 14-year-old girl to work at All Star on 8 Mile. Police said they were alerted to the girl’s hiring by her mother, who knew her high school freshman daughter had been sneaking out of the house at night and eventually followed her to the strip club. She is now hoping the club is shut down for good. [Detroit Free Press]
  • Sharon Sievers, a history professor who pioneered the women’s studies program at a California university, passed away earlier this month at age 71. Professor Sievers, a noted scholar of Japanese history, wrote that when she tried to establish a women’s studies program at Cal State Long Beach, the idea was met with “open antagonism.” The program was established, but radical conservatives balked when a student in 1982 complained about a class assignment that involved lesbianism. Phllis Schafly of the Eagle Forum took up the cause and numerous people, including the program’s director, lost their jobs. The American Civil Liberties Union then filed a sex-discrimination suit against the university on behalf of the fired director, students and faculty, including Professor Sievers. The ACLU eventually won. At the time, Professor Sievers told The New York Times, “We are not here to make people feel good. What women’s studies does is look at the unpleasant realities and contradictions of society.” [Los Angeles Times]


  • A forthcoming article in the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, says there is a “global glass ceiling” and argues that empowering women worldwide will be good for business. [Council on Foreign Relations]
  • Fourteen women are sexually assaulted each day on average in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the United Nation’s refugee agency. The DRC has struggled for many years as a war-torn nation. [News24]
  • Brian Jones, 63, of Teesside in the U.K. was convicted of murdering his 34-year-old ex-wife as she was in her home preparing a “divorce party.” Katrina Jones, 34, had hung a “pin the tail on the donkey” game with a photo of her ex’s face on it and hung posts that said “Katrin’s Divorce Party, free at last.” Brian Jones, who stabbed his ex-wife to death, claimed it was not murder because he was provoked. Katrina Jones had filed for divorce seven months earlier. [BBC]