- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

FRANCE
Women protest life of terror in ghettos
PARIS Ten thousand people took to the streets in Paris yesterday to denounce violence suffered by women in high-rise housing estates around France's major towns.
The protest, timed to fall on International Women's Day, was the high point of a monthlong campaign by female activists against violence targeting women on estates mostly in suburbs that are home to many of France's North African immigrants.
Built in the 1960s, France's high-rise estates have fallen into disrepair and are widely seen as modern-day ghettos, trapping their inhabitants in a vicious circle of violence, poverty and unemployment.
Home to many immigrants from the Maghreb, or northwest Africa, such suburbs have seen a rise in radical Islam that has turned attitudes toward women even harsher.

SLOVAKIA
Forced sterilization of Gypsies investigated
BRATISLAVA Police have begun an investigation into charges that more than 100 Gypsy women have been sterilized against their will at hospitals in eastern Slovakia.
The investigation is responding to a January report by two human rights groups saying 110 Gypsy women had been forcibly sterilized since the fall of communism in 1989.
Slovakia's Gypsies, also called Roma, are among the country's poorest citizens and live in settlements outside cities and villages.

RUSSIA
Court rejects complaint on Muslim headscarves
MOSCOW Russia's Supreme Court upheld a ban last week on Muslim women wearing the traditional Islamic head scarf on identity photographs, rejecting a complaint by residents of the central republic of Tatarstan.
Ten women from Tatarstan who filed the lawsuit said the Koran requires Muslim women from ages 13 or 14 to cover their entire body except for the face and hands, and that it is sinful for anyone apart from her husband and close relatives to see her without a head scarf.
Interior Ministry officials said women wearing head scarves in passport photographs would be difficult to identify.

Weekly notes
Flight attendants and pilots from failed French airline, Air Lib, have posed nearly naked for a calendar to raise money for hundreds of laid-off workers who are still out of work. Thirteen former employees of what was once France's second airline, after Air France, partially stripped for the calendar, 10,000 copies of which will be sold this week for $22 each. … A 61-year-old German man was robbed twice in five minutes in the western town of Herne last week. He first had his mobile phone stolen at a gas station by youths who then fled. When he pursued the thieves on foot, a passing car with three men saying they were plainclothes police stopped him, searched him and drove off with his wallet.

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