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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Edition 27: US Voters prefer Women candidates , Help against sexual harassment

Briana Blake/VOA

Twelve American states voted recently for candidates for elections in November. Tuesday was the busiest day of the primary season -- and women were the big winners.

In California, the Republicans nominated two businesswomen for governor and United States senator. Both are former heads of technology companies. They spent millions of their own money on their campaigns.

The nominee to replace Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who faces a term limit, is Meg Whitman. She led the online marketplace eBay. She will face Democrat and former governor Jerry Brown.

Carly Fiorina led Hewlett-Packard until she lost her job in two thousand five. She will try to deny a fourth term to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

In South Carolina, state representative Nikki Haley won more votes than the three men who sought the Republican nomination for governor. But she was just short of a majority, so she will face a runoff election.

She is the daughter of Indian Sikh immigrants. And she is a favorite of the Tea Party, a conservative but loosely organized movement.

The campaign included accusations that she cheated on her husband, which she denied.

In Arkansas, Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln narrowly won nomination to a third term. Arkansas native Bill Clinton campaigned for her.

But labor unions and progressive groups tried to defeat her for opposing a "public option." That was the idea of a government health-insurance program. She also opposed efforts to make it easier for unions to gain members.

Now, Senator Lincoln faces Republican congressman John Boozman in the general election.

And in Nevada, Republicans nominated Sharron Angle for the Senate with strong support from Tea Party activists. The former state lawmaker will now try to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Public opinion surveys show voters are angry with office holders. But political scientist Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia thinks the media has overstated anti-incumbent feelings.

LARRY SABATO: "So actually, the message I see coming out of the primaries is that the party base on the Democratic and Republican side is actually fairly satisfied with the people who are representing them. That may not be true of the independents, including the Tea Party people. They will vote in November for the most part. But for now, we don’t see the kind of anti-incumbent wave that many have been discussing."

Larry Sabato also says Democrats were happy that Republicans nominated very conservative candidates supported by the Tea Party. He says Democrats now see a much better chance to win some of those races.

The elections in November come midway in President Obama's term. Historically, the party in the White House -- currently the Democratic Party -- suffers losses in midterm elections. But incumbent Republicans have also lost primary races this year.

In California, voters passed a measure to replace their primary election system, starting next year. They agreed to a single primary for all candidates from any party, or no party, in congressional, statewide and legislative races. The two candidates with the most votes will face each other in the general election. Voters in Washington State approved a system like this in two thousand four.


A bill on preventing sexual harassment of women at the workplace is likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament beginning later this month, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said. "We are expecting to table the bill in the coming monsoon session. The draft of the bill is ready and is in the final stage of consultations," Tirath told IANS here.

The minister said that the legislation will put pressure on the private sector, which has so far not been

prompt in taking steps to check harassment of women workers. The Protection of Women against

Sexual Harassment at the Work Place Bill will be the first legislation addressing this area.

Till now, all sexual harassment charges in India have been dealt with using guidelines set by the Supreme Court in a 1997 judgment. It also includes a clause which brings students, research scholars,

patients and women in the unorganised sector within the ambit of the proposed law.

"Many private organisations still don't have a committee for addressing the grievances of women in sexual harassment cases. The proposed law will see that a committee headed by a women is present in every firm to address such cases," she said.

"A penalty will be imposed on those who fail to follow the guidelines. If private organisations don't meet

the rules strict action will be taken against them," Tirath added.



Nearly 80 percent of Delhi women fear for their safety in the city, a new survey says. The Delhi government's women and child development department, NGO Jagori and international organisation Unifem conducted the survey.

The survey, released Thursday, is based on interviews of 5,010 people, including 3,816 women and 944 men. The rest are common witnesses like bus conductors, shopkeepers and auto drivers, who have a probability of witnessing acts of sexual harassment against women.

"Nearly three out of every five women reported facing sexual harassment not only after dark but also through the daytime. But, it is a good sign that 68 percent of the women deal with harassment in some way like confronting the perpetrator or seeking help from family and friends," said Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, who also looks after women and child development department.

Walia said public transport, buses and roads with faulty street lights are the spaces where women and girls face a high level of sexual harassment. "There was a necessity to understand the problem. Now we will be able to find a solution. For instance, we will write for installing CCTVs in buses then will also make sure that sexual harassment becomes a non-bailable offense through changes in CrPC," she


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