News roundup for April 2004

Cherie attacks the jailing of women

Observer Report

Cherie Booth called for women to be kept out of jail, warning of a bleak future unless more female criminals are spared a jail sentence. Two-thirds of female inmates have committed ‘dishonesty’ offences (cheque-book fraud, shoplifting) and pose no danger to the public. Booth urged sentencers to note mitigating factors and use alternatives to custody, warning: ‘It can’t be right… that prison, for example, separates over 17,000 children from their mothers… this can only reinforce a cycle of poverty and crime.’ Prisons Minister Paul Goggins backed her, and has ordered a review of judges’ training on gender issues.

Dove drop ultra-thin models in favour of women with ‘real curves’

Media Guardian Report
BBC Report

Soap brand Dove are using real women in their latest advertising campaign after their research showed many women feel bad about their bodies because of images used in beauty ads. Their brand action manager called it “a real step forward for beauty advertising.” The ad campaign shows women who are larger than the usual size 8 model, wearing white underwear with the tagline: “New Dove Firming. As tested on real curves.” Ok, so they’re celebrating real women and then telling them they’d be better people if they sorted their skin out – but still – it’s a start.

Channel 4 screens graphic abortion film

Observer Report

The Documentary “My Foetus”, shown at the end of April, showed an abortion on television for the first time as well as previously banned images of aborted foetuses at 10 and 21 weeks, where limbs and a face can be made out. The programme was hyped as one of the most controversial broadcasts in Britain. Film-maker Julia Black, who had an abortion at age 21, said she wanted to get out the ‘lazy debate’ about abortion and start an honest discussion.

Zulu women affected by body image worries

BBC Report

The Western belief that thinness equals beauty is now affecting African women whose ethos has always been that the fuller figure is more desirable. Psychologists interviewed students at the University of Zululand and discovered that TV images of Western women were having a profound impact. A spokesman from the Eating Disorders Association noted parallels with the introduction of TV in Fiji, which brought about a dramatic shift in perceptions of what was a good body image, triggering problems with self-esteem and bulimia in many women.

More news stories from this month in brief…

  • ‘Women’s genes could scupper attempts to give up smoking’
  • Tesco slammed for plans to recruit pregnant women as wine tasters
  • US court case: does a pregnant woman have the right to refuse surgery to save her unborn child?
  • Female circumcision ‘on the rise’
  • Female army officer loses sex discrimination case
  • Aspirin ‘fights ovarian cancer’
  • Housework ‘reduces cancer risk’
  • Natural births on the rise
  • Women demand entry to male surgeons’ club
  • Police to reopen two thousand gang rape cases
  • Sharp increase in teenage Pill users (a quarter of 16 and 17-year-olds now take the pill)
  • Drink testing kit available to test for rape drugs
  • ‘Queer Eye’ sets gaze on US women
  • Working men’s clubs still refuse female membership