Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views, Issue no. 7 March-April 2001

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Women briefly

Criminal Investigation into Sterilization of Mentally Disabled Women in France
The UK press in October widely reported that a criminal investigation had begun into a French home for mentally ill women on the basis that at least 13 of its residents had been sterilized without their consent. The establishment, called The Aid through Work Center, just southeast of Paris, has been accused of arranging sterilizations of residents between the ages of 25 and 30 at local hospitals during the period 1991-98.

A previous government investigation had concluded that the operations had taken place but had followed all procedures for obtaining consent. A local judge has since decided that a cover-up took place and ordered a new investigation.

This incident reflects an on-going dialogue in French society about what constitutes consent among patients or residents, as well as what constitutes a medical necessity, the only legal framework for sterilization in France. Activists representing mentally ill persons have claimed that the home was implementing eugenics by using sterilization illegally as a form of contraception. (Sources: Citizens for Responsible Care & Research, fax 212 595 9086, email veracare@erols.comand Telegraph, London, October 8)

Call for Presenters: Symposium on Women, Diversity & Sexuality University of Hawaii, March 2001
The University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies in Honolulu is recruiting women and girls with disabilities, University of Hawaii faculty, disability and diversity advocates, educators and service providers to participate in discussions at the March 3-4 symposium. The event title is "Dance Me to My Song: a Symposium on Diversity and Disability-Reflections on Women, Culture and Sexuality.

The symposium is part of a wider Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities, taking place March 3-6 in Honolulu.

"Dance Me to My Song" is a film selected by the 1998 Cannes Festival and the co-screenwriter and featured actress, Heather Rose of Australia will participate in both the Symposium and Conference. A public awareness event will be built around the screening of this film that centers on the sexuality of its main character.

Proposed topics for the symposium include: sex, love and relationships in the real world; the impact of cultural perceptions on images of women with disabilities; how to teach sexuality in the classroom; teaching youth about sexuality, pleasure and reproduction; how particular disabilities affect sexuality; fostering relationships and enabling romance; helping teachers and parents to foster social skills of children and youths; sexual orientation and self-image; and personal assistants-exploring boundaries and taboos of intimacy in adult helping relationships. Details: Susan B. Miller, Research Specialist, Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1776 University Ave., UA4-6, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA. Tel 808 956 3957; fax 808 956 7878; email millers@hawaii.edu

Opportunity to Join Research on Aging and Women with Intellectual Disability
The following announcement was distributed at the recent Rehabilitation International World Congress in Rio de Janeiro: "Interested in joining an International Research Team addressing Aging and Women with Intellectual Disability and contributing to a book on this subject?" Contact: Barbara LeRoy, Ph.D., Developmental Disabilities Institute, Wayne State University, 4809 Woodward Ave., Ste. 268, Detroit, MI 48202 USA. Tel 313 577 2654; fax 313 577 3770; email B_Le_Roy@wayne.edu

Call for Papers: Feminist Disability Studies, Due June 2001
A call for papers has been issued for a special issue of the NWSA Journal on the topic of Feminist Disability Studies, to be edited by Kim Q. Hall, Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Appalachian State University.

The deadline for papers is June 1, 2001 and contributors are encouraged to send scholarly papers on the following and other topics: what is feminist disability studies; race and disability; queer theory and disability studies; activism; gender, public policy and disability; class and disability; body image and disability; feminist theory and disability; aging and disability; HIV/AIDS; visible and invisible disabilities; construction of able and disabled bodies in literature; and gender and disability in popular culture.

Details: Kim Hall via phone 828 262 6817 or email hallki@appstate.edu

Anthropology Prize Awarded for "Venus on Wheels" Studies
This year's medical anthropology prize of the American Anthropological Association has been awarded to Gelya Frank for her publication, "Venus on Wheels: Two Decades of Dialogue on Disability, Biography and Being Female in America" (University of California Press 2000). Since 1976 Frank has been writing about Diane DeVries, a woman who was born without arms and legs but decided against prosthetic limbs. The book follows their relationship over 20 years. As Ms. Frank says, "The idea that medicine is always trying to fix you has been challenged by Diane and how she has lived her life." (Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10 or on the web: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v47/i11/11a01801.htm

UNIFEM Publication Highlights Programs to End Violence against Women
In December the United Nations Development Fund for Women launched a publication highlighting programs around the world that support activism against gender-based violence. With an End in Sight describes programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nigeria and the West Bank and Gaza. The book documents groups that are challenging cultural norms, forming partnerships, working to change attitudes that promote violence against women, and lobbying for new laws, policies and services to protect women's rights. Details: www.unifem.org

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