KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government hoped to increase the number of women in its workforce by 55% come 2015, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Musa said better access to higher learning has helped to empower more women and they has been seen to move to higher-paying jobs.

“Currently, women make up 47% of the workforce in Sabah, as compared to 30.8% in 2000.

“Flexible working hours is one of several issues discussed at the government’s Strategic Reforms Initiatives laboratories, aimed at encouraging more women to take part in the Economic Transformation Programme,” he said at the centennial anniversary of the International Women’s Day celebration and Parent’s Day recently.

Musa said he also hoped to see an increased representation of women in the local business scene.

“Women have proven to be good money managers and are generally better at repaying loans hence they can be successful when they venture into business.

“In Sabah, the women are just as able and have demostrated their ability to play a leading role. We have a number of women as elected representatives, in senior government posts and even a minister,” he said.

Musa was happy that there were a number of successful women in the fields of property, hospitality, wellness and pharmaceuticals.

He also acknowledged women had taken leading roles in NGOs, professional and charitable organisations.

“Their innate multi-tasking talents demand respect. I would like to take this opportunity to call on women-led organisations to reach out to those in rural areas who may need guidance in becoming effective players in the state’s development.

“I hope they will also offer help to women and children who fall victim to domestic abuse and other forms of violence, including human trafficking,” he said.

Later, Musa announced that the state would contribute RM100,000 to sponsor the International Women’s Day Celebration here.

“It is fitting that we take the opportunity to celebrate the countless achievements of women in Malaysia.

“In today’s world, women are considered co-developers of a nation and achieving gender equality is necessary in the social, economic and political sphere,” he said.



DHAKA (AFP) – A 40-year-old Bangladeshi woman cut off a man’s penis during an alleged attempted rape and took it to a police station as evidence, police in a remote part of Bangladesh said Monday.

The woman, a married mother of three, was attacked while she was sleeping in her shanty in Jhalakathi district, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Dhaka, on Saturday night, officers said.

“As he tried to rape her, the lady cut his penis off with a knife. She then wrapped up the penis in a piece of polythene and brought it to the Jhalakathi police station as evidence of the crime,” police chief Abul Khaer told AFP.

The woman has filed a case accusing the man — who is also 40 and a married father of five — of attempted rape, saying that he had been harassing her for six months.

The severed penis has been kept at the police station and the rape suspect was undergoing treatment in hospital.

“We shall arrest him once his condition gets better,” Khaer added.


Dr. Seham Sergewa distributed a questionnaire to 70,000 Libyan families living in refugee camps after being driven from their homes, originally to measure how traumatized children were from the fighting, the AP reports. The 59,000 responses she received begin to quantify the full extent of the horror suffered.

10,000 people suffering post-traumatic stress, 4,000 children with psychological problems. Then came the unexpected: 259 women said they had been raped by militiamen loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.

Sergewa’s survey originally did not ask about rape, but when women began approaching her, she added a question about rape on the survey. Some of the women described the attacks to her in terrifying detail, such as a woman in Misrata who said she was raped in front of her four children after Qaddafi fighters burned down her home. And although 259 women came forward, Sergewa believes the numbers is many times higher as women are afraid to report the attacks.

It’s not unusual for rape to be used as a weapon of war, but this is one of the first indications of the extent it has been used in Libya, since Iman al-Obeidi burst into the hotel housing foreign journalists in Tripoli in March and accused pro-Qaddafi militiamen of gang-raping her. Despite her story and reports of condoms and Viagra found in the pockets of dead Qaddafi solders, some have found the evidence of a concerted rape campaign thin. Doctors in Benghazi said they had heard of women being raped but had not treated any. A consultant for Human Rights Watch reportedly said that the organization has learned of “a few credible cases of gender based violence and rape, but the evidence is not there at this point to suggest it is of a systematic nature, or an official policy. On Viagra and condom distribution we have nothing so far.”

But these new testimonies indicate widespread trauma behind a heavy code of silence. Another doctor reported testing victims for AIDs “who were terrified their families would find out.” Some victims have already been abandoned by their husbands, while others fear seeking treatment will result in retribution from spouses or banishment. Dr. Sergewa said of the 140 rape survivors she personally interviewed, not one could she persuade to prosecute.


After previous denials by military officials, a senior Egyptian general has admitted to CNN that “virginity tests” were conducted on female demonstrators arrested in Tahrir Square.

During a March 9, nearly a month after Hosni Mubarak resigned, the Egyptian military targeted the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, arresting nearly 149 people. An Amnesty International report published weeks later claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges, and forced to submit to virginity checks.

Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests.” Now, a senior Egyptian general who asked not to be identified admits that “virginity checks” were performed, and his defense of the practice reveals a disturbingly bleak attitude towards women. “The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

He then offered the bizarre rationale that the virginity checks were done so that the women would not later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities. “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).” He did not further explain this confounding logic.

Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described how she and 16 other female prisoners were taken to a military detention center in Heikstep.  They were threatened that “those not found to be virgins” would be charged with prostitution. “The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public,” Amnesty reported.


LOWER MANHATTAN, NY (PIX11) — An angry crowd of roughly 400 gathered outside Manhattan’s Criminal Court on Centre Street Friday to protest the not-guilty verdict of Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, the two NYPD officers who were acquitted on felony rape charges yesterday.

“We are here to say rape is not ok,” chanted protestors. “NYPD shame on you.”

Other chants included, “Why a victim wouldn’t trust the justice system. Look no further than the acquittal of NYPD officers Moreno and Mata.”

Moreno and Mata were only found guilty of three counts each of official misconduct — for entering their accuser’s apartment three times back in 2008.

Friday’s rally exploded in size and popularity overnight over Facebook.

Once the non-guilty rape verdict of now fired officers came down, activist Lori Adelman started a Facebook page, called “Protest The Acquittal Of Officer Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata.”

In less than 24 hours, her planned protest had 1400 followers.

“People are just so angry and infuriated because the evidence seemed so overwhelming in this case,” said Adelman.

This wasn’t the only protest that surfaced today.

Outside city hall, city leaders explained their frustration with the not guilty verdict.

“As a former criminal defense attorney I recognize the verdict yesterday demonstrated the imperfections of the system,” said New York Councilwoman Latisha James

Both officers were fired Thursday after they were found guilty of official misconduct.
Commissioner Ray Kelly stood by the department’s actions to terminate the officers.

“The jury has spoken.”

But protesters say firing is not enough. They want Commissioner Kelly to implement new sexual assault and anti-rape policies within the department.

“We want him to respond one week from today,” said Adelman.


TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas legislators approved restrictions on private insurance coverage for abortions and adopted a state budget stripping funds from a Planned Parenthood affiliate, capping a string of victories Friday for abortion opponents only four months after sympathetic Gov. Sam Brownback took office.

This year, five major proposals favored by abortion opponents cleared the GOP-dominated Legislature as members heeded a call from Brownback to create “a culture of life.” But Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the target of much of lawmakers’ efforts, confirmed that it is consulting with attorneys over possible legal challenges

“Four or five anti-choice bills, as we would characterize them, is pretty significant,” said Tait Sye, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It would be in the top tier of anti-choice legislatures, which is probably what Brownback wants.”

Brownback, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill sent to him by the state House a mere 15 minutes before lawmakers adjourned their annual session. The House’s early-morning vote was 86-30 in support of a larger bill that included the abortion coverage restrictions. The state Senate had approved it Thursday night, 28-10.

The measure prohibits insurance companies from offering coverage of abortions as part of their general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk. If the bill becomes law as expected, starting in July, individuals and employers who want abortion coverage would have to buy supplemental policies that cover only abortion.

Supporters of the bill argue that it will protect employers who oppose abortion rights from having to pay for policies that cover the procedures. The legislation also says that no state or federally administered health-insurance exchange in Kansas established under last year’s federal health care overhaul law can offer coverage for abortions, other than to save a woman’s life.

The $13.8 billion budget approved by legislators, also early Friday, includes a provision diverting about $330,000 in federal family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri to public hospitals and health departments. The group’s top executive warned that it will be forced to reduce services dramatically at clinics in Hays and Wichita that don’t perform abortions without affecting one in the Kansas City suburbs that terminates pregnancies.

Brownback already has signed legislation to tighten restrictions on late-term abortions and require doctors to obtain written permission from parents before terminating minors’ pregnancies. Legislators also have sent him a bill to impose new health and safety standards specifically for abortion clinics, which the governor plans to sign Monday.

“Governor Brownback has never been shy about the fact that he’s pro-life,” spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said.

Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, said the state’s new laws will protect women who seek abortions from dangerous clinics and provide more accurate reporting by doctors about their activities.

“It has obviously been a good session,” Ostrowski said after lawmakers adjourned.

Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, who held the office before Brownback, blocked most major changes in Kansas abortion laws, vetoing legislation that is becoming law this year.

“There’s clearly a message here that women are dispensable,” said state Rep. Annie Kuether, a Topeka Democrat and one of the Legislature’s shrinking number of abortion rights supporters. “I’m sick and tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.”

The measures in Kansas are part of a wave of anti-abortion legislation across the nation, as abortion opponents have been encouraged by the election of new Republican governors last year and conservative legislators.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization supporting abortion rights, says Kansas and Missouri are among seven states now with restrictions on private health insurance coverage of abortion. Also, a dozen states, including Kansas, restrict coverage in health exchanges.

Planned Parenthood officials say moves to strip funds from affiliates are afoot in at least five other states; one in Indiana has filed a lawsuit there.

“Why would we want to continue to give Planned Parenthood tax dollars to ostensibly prevent pregnancy, when they make even more money performing abortions when that ‘prevention’ fails?” said Mary Kay Culp, Kansans for Life’s executive director.

But Brownlie said the Planned Parenthood clinics offer a wide range of services, including thousands of breast exams and tests for sexually transmitted diseases each year. The federal dollars account for about 10 percent of the budget for its Kansas operations, he said.


In the latest example of how difficult it has become for women in their late twenties and early thirties to find an eligible man in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, a dating agency has started sending busloads of single women out to country towns, where the ratio of men to women is far more favourable.

The weekend tours, named Thank Goodness He’s A Country Boy, involve eight hours of intensive speed dating at a country pub, where lonely farmers are introduced to single city girls.

Brie Petersen came up with the idea after visiting friends in the rural town of Mungindi in Queensland. During a night at the pub, the owner told her that he regularly received letters from single women in Brisbane and Sydney asking him to set them up with farmers. Similar pleas were being sent to the post office, he said.

“These women obviously needed help, it was simply a matter of putting the two groups in the same place,” Miss Petersen said.

The first tour, which took 50 Sydney women to the rural town of Tamworth was a success, with an “85 per cent pick up rate”, she said. More trips for the single women of Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are on the cards.

The tours are the latest symptoms of the chronic gender unbalance in metropolitan and rural areas, which has already spawned a highly popular reality television programme, The Farmer Wants A Wife. The programme matches single women with farmers from far-flung parts of the country and after six series it has generated four marriages and three babies.

Bernard Salt, demographer and author of Man Drought, said the programme and the tours were so successful because over the past four decades young women had fled Australia’s rural towns and communities.

“The farmer does want a wife because there’s no single sheilas in the nearby towns,” he said. While women in the 1960s would marry a local man after finishing school, they now head off to the city in search of work, leaving the men behind, he said.

“As soon as that 18 year old girl leaves she upsets the gender balance in the town, because there are not enough marriageable women, and she also upsets the gender balance in Sydney because there is an oversupply of women in the inner city suburbs.

“The problem is writ large in Australia which is sparsely populated and vast so you get a shift like this and it makes a huge impact.” But for 29-year-old Sydney woman Bianca Wignall, one of Ms Petersen’s clients, it is a matter of quality, as well as quantity.

“Country men are more gentlemanly, they hold the door open for you and if they see you with an empty glass they will be the first to offer to get you a drink, they are more attentive.”