Chicago Foundation for Women's Weekly eUpdate

The week of Oct. 23-29, 2007
View this update ONLINE


Additional photos from the
22nd Annual Luncheon

For women of color, Halloween is not the only day of horror. Wear red on Oct. 31. Watch a video and more...
United is the official airline of Chicago Foundation for Women
Our yearlong anti-violence initiative
"What Will It Take?"is paid for in part by a grant from the State of Illinois.


The story: Women in the sex trade in Vancouver, British Columbia are trying to form a cooperative brothel to keep prostitution indoors in preparation for the city’s 2010 Olympics, reported Women’s eNews correspondent Wendy Leung. Prostitution is legal in Canada, but brothels are not. Susan Davis is a member of the local “sex workers’ alliance” petitioning for this co-op to bring prostitution indoors to make it safer. She calls herself “a one-percenter” for surviving when other “sex workers” did not, including drug addiction and assaults by clients while outdoors. Leung briefly says “opponents… disagree” on calling the indoor sex trade safer, without citing statistics or studies. A few local researchers support the safety claim and the brothel idea because the Olympics typically “attract a massive inrush of sex workers.” To compare, about 40,000 women were trafficked into Germany’s sex trade when they hosted last year’s World Cup.

What is missing:
We love Women’s eNews for their stories on women and girls that other media ignore. However, in this case they got the story wrong. The focus should be on freedom from violence and the source of that violence: demand. Though Leung spoke with experts, she didn’t find all the facts. Women in the sex trade are more than “workers.” They exist to meet the demands of men who consistently abuse them—both pimps and buyers, indoors and outdoors. The 2002 Chicago sex trade study “Sisters Speak Out” shows women indoors face violence at the same rate as those outdoors. While we applaud Davis’s survival against the odds, her experience points to another problem: legalization. It does “nothing to protect the women” in the sex trade, says Rachel Durchslag, director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, or CAASE. “Instead [through legalization] we create more anonymity for the buyer, provide state government a tax incentive to have large numbers of women in prostitution, normalize the sale of bodies of women and children, and increase the demand for women and children which always results in greater numbers of international sex trafficking victims and sexually exploited children.” And an in-depth study in Australia after prostitution was legalized found no reduction in violence. Write to Women’s eNews at and contact Alternet, which reprinted the story, through their online feedback form and tell them the facts they missed. You can also post comments on the story at Alternet.


JILL PORTER, a Philadelphia Daily News reporter, for her story on a Philadelphia judge who ruled a woman’s rape was “theft of services” because she was a prostitute. It’s another example of how our criminal justice system tolerates sexual violence by labeling some people “unrapeable” and leaving their rapists unaccountable. Though the defendant hired the victim for sex, he and others violently raped the woman at gunpoint. Despite the fact that the sex-for-money transaction never took place, Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni dropped the sexual assault charges because the crime was more like “robbery,” Deni said. Porter said it doesn’t matter how “sympathetic” a rape victim is. This case is “more evidence of the skepticism and contempt most rape victims—prostitutes or not—confront when they seek justice in court,” she wrote. Thank Porter—email her at

ALLSTATE FOUNDATION for helping survivors thrive. The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program launched last week to help domestic violence survivors achieve economic stability and financial independence from their abusers, who often use control over money as a way to keep victims from leaving. The Allstate Foundation was a sponsor of “What Will It Take?” our yearlong anti-violence initiative in Illinois.


BE BOLD, BE BRAVE, BE RED. Wear red on Halloween, because this day of make-believe terror is far too real for many women—especially women of color—all year long. We have seen tragic headlines that indicate women of color are the targets of violent hate crime, yet no one is making the connections—this is an epidemic. Help raise awareness about violence against women of color by wearing red next Wednesday. Learn more about this group of grassroots activists by watching a video about the effort and about recent violence against women of color.

CALLING ALL YOUNG WOMEN: Nov. 15 is the 2nd annual fall fundraiser for the Young Women’s Leadership Council Members at Mad River, at 2909 N. Sheffield Ave., 6-9 p.m. Members and friends alike are welcome. Get your tickets online in advance and save $5—register now. Proceeds benefit the council’s future grants to young women.

MACHO, MACHO MEN...WELL, WOMEN. Teatro Luna, Chicago’s all-Latina theater company, presents a play called “MACHOS,” putting women into men’s shoes and exploring stereotypes. Your ticket to the Friday, Nov. 9 show benefits grants to Latinas by the Foundation’s Latina Leadership Council. Act now: Buy your tickets online.

APPLY FOR FREE GRAPHIC DESIGN. Firebelly Design, the genius behind the look of the “What Will It Take?” anti-violence initiative, offers a grant for one free year of design to a nonprofit. In 2006 the Chicago Abortion Fund, one of our grantees, was the winner, and last year LGBTQ youth advocacy group the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance reaped the rewards. Fill out the grant application for 2008, due Friday, Dec. 7.

     * Program Officer
     * Jessica Eve Patt Intern
     * Special Events and Annual Fund Manager


Funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, was vetoed by President Bush and the U.S. House of Representatives failed to overturn it by just 13 votes last week. Of the Illinois delegation, all 10 Democrats and two out of nine Republicans (Reps. Mark Kirk and Ray LaHood) voted to override, the Chicago Tribune reported. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pledges to pass another bill in the coming weeks that offers health coverage to 10 million children, as the last version did. Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin pledges Senate support for Pelosi’s plan. The President implies he will veto again. SCHIP has temporary funding only through Nov. 15. Watch for an action alert when this bill comes to fruition.

Susan Orr has been appointed to head a federal family planning office, despite her record opposing contraception. Orr is the new acting Health and Human Services (HHS) deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs, who will oversee $283 million in Title X reproductive health funding for 5 million low-income women, the Kaiser Network said. The appointment does not require Congressional oversight, but members of the Senate and House have asked HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to find someone else who is not “intent on undermining women’s health.” Orr opposed insurance coverage of contraception and comprehensive sex education while working for the ultra-conservative Family Research Council. Orr replaces Eric Keroack, the similarly anti-contraception nominee who stepped down last year. Read our Jan. 2007 letter opposing Keroack’s nomination.

Two amendments bad for women and girls failed last week, both introduced by U.S. Sen. David Vitter (D-LA). One amendment to a funding bill “would have denied Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to cities that don’t ask about immigration status when people report crimes,” according to an email blast by the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C. The policy would make immigrant women “extremely reluctant” to report sexual or domestic violence to police. The other amendment, to a separate appropriations bill, would have cut off family planning grants to U.S. clinics that offer abortion services, much like the global gag rule works to limit foreign health aid. (Incidentally, this is the Title X funding overseen by Susan Orr in her new position.) Vitter was in the news this summer when he was implicated in a prostitution sting in Washington, D.C.

Free breast and cervical cancer screenings for all uninsured women are sweeping the state, thanks to Governor Blagojevich’s expansion of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Early detection is key to survival, and free access to prevention can save lives—especially in light of local research showing African American women in Chicago have a 68 percent higher breast cancer mortality rate than white women. Uninsured women over age 35 can get free cervical cancer screenings, and free mammograms and breast exams are available if you’re uninsured and over 40. To find out if you can get free screenings and where to get them, call (888) 522-1282 or TTY (800) 547-0466. Download a brochure (PDF) to learn more, get a poster (PDF) for your home or agency--then go online to tell your friends.

A national survey of women’s health gives the country a grade of “unsatisfactory,” and out of 50 states Illinois ranks only 33rd. The National Women’s Law Center with Oregon Health and Science University laid out 27 benchmarks for women’s health, and the U.S. met only three of them: breast cancer screening for women over 40, colorectal cancer screening for women over 50 and women who get annual dental checkups. No state received a “satisfactory” rating, and only three got a “satisfactory minus.” Obesity was the only indicator that worsened in every state since 2004, the Washington Post reported, and overall rankings are worse than last year. Illinois was rated “unsatisfactory”—read details of the state’s rankings.


Bills and policies that need your energy. Visit our Action Center - quickly make a difference this week. 

$460 million was cut from the state budget through Governor Blagojevich’s line-item vetoes. The State House has already overturned most of the vetoes, but the Senate, led by President Emil Jones Jr., has not yet voted. Now they've adjourned and not yet set a date to return. Write while they're out-of-session so they get our point: Women and girls cannot be cut out of the budget. This includes $3 million for school-based health centers, for adolescents'--including many girls'--preventative care. ACT NOW: TELL YOUR STATE SENATOR AND SENATE PRESIDENT EMIL JONES JR. to restore funding that helps women and girls.

Stay tuned for an updated alert when a new State Children’s Health Insurance Program funding bill is RE-introduced. Read more details in our NEWS IMPORTANT TO YOU section, above.

HATE CRIMES. The federal definition of a hate crime must be expanded to include gender, sexual orientation and disability status. President Bush said he will veto this change, bowing to the Christian religious right, who wrongly think this bill will limit free speech from the pulpit. The American Civil Liberties Union supports the legislation, though it has never backed a hate crime law before. WRITE NOW: CLICK HERE TO CONTACT CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT NOW.

FOOD SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMS must be funded to keep up with inflation and rising food prices. That includes the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) mostly for seniors 60 and older. TELL YOUR SENATORS TODAY to fully fund these programs.


We add perspective to recent headlines
Don’t forget our special “WHAT IS MISSING?” up top under TUESDAY SPECIAL

The story:
Twenty-something Chicago women are out-earning men of the same age by 7 percent, according to the Red Eye’s cover story last Tuesday--and this causes heterosexual dating strife. An interview with the Red Eye on CLTV, posted on Red Eye’s website, even says well-paid women are “scaring away the opposite sex.” The analysis of 2005 Census data by a Queens College sociology professor found the phenomenon within a few urban areas. Nationally women of all ages continue to earn 23 percent less than men. Latesha Lipscomb, 29, works multiple jobs and expects men she dates to spend money as lavishly as she does. “If I have to pay for you, you ain’t a man,” she said. In the past, Lipscomb hid her income and law degree to keep men “feeling superior,” though she now refuses to do so. Tim Staub, a 27-year-old bartender, said he felt “stress” when dating a woman in medical school for her earning potential. He said, “You want to fulfill the ‘man’ role, even if the role is socially contrived.”
What is missing: Though the story is ethnically diverse, it fails to address income diversity, and poverty in particular—especially since women of color are disproportionately poor. In Illinois in 2006, almost 13 percent of all working-age women are in poverty, compared to only 9 percent of men, the Heartland Alliance found—and working-age women of color fare worse: 26 percent of African American and almost 20 percent of Hispanic women live below the poverty line. And about half the children in single-female-headed households live in poverty. The wage gap itself perpetuates poverty, but this article painfully illustrates that as the gap narrows, we need men and women to support the obvious pay changes that come with it. Money shouldn’t be a tool to control or abuse others—it should be a path to success for men and women alike.


OCT. 24: Meeting: African American Leadership Council, 6-7:30 p.m.


"Woman Warrior Festival 2007" (Asian American Leadership Council, community partner)


OCT. 29: Meeting: Lesbian Leadership Council, 6-7:30 p.m.


NOV. 9: An Evening with “MACHOS” by Teatro Luna, 8-9:30 p.m. (Latina Leadership Council event)
NOV. 15: Young Women’s Leadership Council’s 2nd Annual Fall Fundraiser, 6-9 p.m.
NOV. 15: Grantees: Building Nonprofit Management Skills – Developing and Implementing an Individual Donor Fundraising Plan, 5-8:30 p.m.

For more programs and events see our calendar page or the "What Will It Take?" statewide events page.


Oct. 17 was World Poverty Day, and we encouraged you to sign an online petition to stand up against poverty, since a majority of the world’s poor are women and girls. More than 38 million people in 110 countries were counted in 24 hours, handily breaking last year’s record of 23 million. Visit the Stand Up Against Poverty site for more.

Catch up at our Press Room or our Past Events page at or our News page on


Speakers' bureau: Want a free speaker to come and tell you or your organization about “What Will It Take?” Contact Laura Fletcher at (312) 577-2824 or More about the speakers' bureau...

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