Women’s Independent Press

Informing Women About Our World

Archive for April, 2011


April 02, 2011 By: admin Category: Legal Corner



The Women’s Law Project issued a press release commending the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for its investigation of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) where it found major deficiencies and constitutional violations.  Particularly significant was the landmark finding of widespread and pervasive gender bias in NOPD’s handling of crimes involving violence against women. 

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that a police department has been investigated for gender bias,” said Carol E. Tracy, Executive Director of the Women’s Law Project.  Ms. Tracy testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs last September about what she characterized as “the chronic and systemic failure” of police departments in many cities, including New Orleans, to properly investigate sex crimes, the victims of which are disproportionately female. 

The Department of Justice Report mirrored Ms. Tracy’s testimony:
We find that NOPD has systematically misclassified large numbers of possible sexual assaults, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many potential cases of rape, attempted rape, and other sex crimes. We find that in situations where the Department pursues sexual assault complaints, the investigations are seriously deficient, marked by poor victim interviewing skills, missing or inadequate documentation, and minimal efforts to contact witnesses or interrogate suspects.  The documentation we reviewed was replete with stereotypical assumptions and judgments about sex crimes and victims of sex crimes, including misguided commentary about the victims’ perceived credibility, sexual history, or delay in contacting the police.

Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department
US Department of Justice.  March 16, 2011.  Page xi.

The Report also found systemic deficiencies in NOPD’s policies and practices in responding to domestic violence cases, while acknowledging recent improvements due in large part to the creation of the New Orleans Family Justice Center.

“This is a long overdue acknowledgement of gender bias in police practice and we hope police departments throughout the United States will begin self-audits of their practices,” Carol Tracy added.

The Women’s Law Project led a successful reform effort in Philadelphia a decade ago when The Philadelphia Inquirer uncovered similar practices in sexual assault and domestic violence cases in the Philadelphia Police Department.

Remembering Gerry and the Courage of Her Convictions

April 02, 2011 By: admin Category: Feature Article

BY Author and activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The Women’s Media Center
151 West 25th Street, Suite 12F
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 563-0680
Fax: (212) 563-0688

The 1984 Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro ticket

The bishop of New York showed up at the wake on Tuesday and kneeled before Geraldine Ferraro’s coffin.  Gerry would have been pleased.  The church owed her one for all the years when its establishment excoriated her for supporting abortion rights. Whether as a candidate, congresswoman, Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984, or in the decades since, whenever she spoke in public, Gerry never knew if she might have to face off against some priest threatening her with eternal damnation, hostile Catholics demanding her excommunication, or jeering catcalls of  “Baby Killer!”

Such vicious personal attacks would unnerve anyone.  For Gerry, a devout Catholic until the day she died, the vilification cut close to the bone. She was a church-going, family-loving, Italian-American wife and mother whose conscience would not allow her to choose abortion for herself, but whose sense of decency led her to defend other women’s right to do so in the privacy of their conscience.  Gerry’s empathy was rooted in her personal relationship with Jesus Christ and his relationship to human suffering.  Only after perceiving the depth of her devotion to the church did I fully appreciate how brave was her pro-choice advocacy. While other politicians and public feminists could blithely speechify on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, each time Gerry spoke out it was an act of courage, a spiritual risk-taking, a hard-won triumph of her secular sense of fairness over her deeply rooted religious faith.

Courage is a hackneyed term but no other word adequately describes the attitude with which she lived her life.  From the early 1970s on, I had occasion to witness it close-up after our families got to know each other in the tiny summer community of Saltaire, Fire Island, a narrow barrier beach wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great South Bay about 50 miles from Manhattan.  Cars are banned in season on Fire Island; you arrive by passenger ferry and once there, travel on foot or by bike, and transport your luggage, children, and groceries by wagon. Saltaire boasts one food market, one playground, one doctor-on-duty, one club, but two churches.  The Zaccaros—Gerry, her husband John, and their three children—were regulars at Our Lady Star of the Sea, a white clapboard structure with Gothic windows, imposing by Fire Island standards, that rises out of the sand like a mirage and has stood firm against several hurricanes.

The church was a kind of metaphor for Gerry who was solid and strong, a lady in the way Marymount Manhattan girls like her were taught to be, and soon to become the star of our seaside community. But she started as a public school teacher, while attending Fordham Law School at night, where she was one of only two women in her 1960 graduating class.  She raised her three children while doing some legal work for her husband’s real estate firm.  Her career as we know it didn’t really take off until 1974 when she was appointed an assistant district attorney in Queens, a big deal back when few women were prosecutors.

Always a strong proponent of women’s legal, economic, and political equality, Gerry was uncomfortable with movement rhetoric of the day, words like “women’s lib,” “male supremacy,” or “patriarchy.”   She wasn’t into feminist theory or analysis; she was interested in facts and law.  I remember how shocked she was when she discovered that she was being paid less than her male colleagues, a discrepancy her superior defended on the grounds that she had a husband to support her.

In 1975, she was assigned to the Special Victims Bureau where she prosecuted cases of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse (she was made head of the unit two years later), and soon became a passionate advocate for women, children, and poor people. Exposure to these victims seemed to add to her gut-level understanding of gender inequities a more global perspective on women’s suffering.   Gerry was looking at life through the prism of the powerless.

During her first campaign for the United States Congress, she often talked about her humble beginnings in the South Bronx and how her values were shaped by her widowed mother, a hard-working seamstress.  But Gerry’s courage was all her own as she led on issues of child abuse and domestic violence, and withstood the personal ordeals yet to come.

In 1984, while she was running for vice president and her husband’s business dealings and the couple’s tax returns became a campaign issue, Gerry submitted to a grueling media interrogation with authority, assurance, and dignity. A few years later, their son’s youthful drug arrest again opened their private life to harsh public scrutiny.  Where other beleaguered families might have lashed out at one another behind the scenes, Gerry and John presented a united front and remained fiercely loyal, they never played the blame game.

For the past 13 years, an even deeper level of courage rose to the fore as she battled multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow, as if she were fighting it one cell at a time.  While undergoing countless drug treatments, steroid shots, a stem cell transplant, thalidomide therapy, repeated hospitalizations and surgical procedures, she continued, as best as she could, to work at her law firm, appear at fundraising events to help women candidates get elected, and make herself presentable for her stints on Fox News.  (“I don’t mind being their token liberal,” she’d say. “Someone’s got to do it.”)

Until a few months ago, nothing made her more animated than talking politics with her friends. She was pissed when Hillary lost the 2008 nomination.  She was  adamant about the urgent need for affordable health care and reasonably priced drugs for every American, not just people like herself who could pay for the best.  Sexism in the media made her furious.  Glen Beck drove her nuts.

In the last couple of years, she yo-yoed through good days and bad days, the bad days marked by excruciating back pain, cracked ribs, pinched nerves, and a swollen face. It was a shock to see her height shrink to under five feet and her weight plummet, to hear her quick, vigorous Queens accent turn sluggish with medication, to notice the black and blue marks on her arms and legs, or watch her make her way across the room on a walker, then in a wheel chair. Through it all, she actively pursued the latest cutting-edge treatment, the next experimental drug, anything that might keep her alive a few more months, maybe even years.   She never gave up.  Three days after she died, her husband told me that the doctors said 85 percent of her body was made up of cancer cells.

Her sheer physical fortitude, good humor, worldly engagement, and unbending will to survive were awe-inspiring to me and the other three friends who, with Gerry, had started a women’s group a few years ago to discuss our work, families, the state of the world, and the strange terrain of life over 60.  Our little cabal, which, in a burst of delayed adolescence, dubbed ourselves The Fab Five, met twice a year for weekend retreats, always with a full agenda, and between meetings, kept the conversation going by email. When Gerry became too sick to travel, she attended the retreats by speaker-phone.

As honest and self-disclosing as all of us were in those meetings, we never directly confronted the elephant in the room, the fact that one of us was dying.  But this January, Gerry and I finally had that conversation. She told me she had prepared her family for life without her, that she could finally relax because she’d taught John to make his own meals and told her kids which of her belongings she wanted each of them to have, and what sort of funeral and gravestone they should arrange for.

“Are you afraid of death?” I asked

She laughed.  “Letty, you’re Jewish. You don’t understand that I really believe I’m going to heaven. I’m going to be with my mom and Jesus. What have I got to be afraid of?

Book Review, by Kathryn Atwood

April 02, 2011 By: admin Category: Consumer Education


“Forbidden Strawberries” by Cipora Hurwitz


ISBN 13: 978-1885881380



The writing style of “Forbidden Strawberries,” the memoir of Cipora Hurwitz, a Polish Jew forced to grow up during the Holocaust, is stark, matter-of-fact, and not necessarily elegant, but because of this simplicity and especially because of Hurwitz’s vivid recollections, it is powerfully emotive.  The recorded impressions of a small, perceptive child (she was six in 1939) are somehow more clearly horrific than if one was reading the memoirs of an adult in similar circumstances and not just because, yes it was horrible that these monstrous things happened to children.  It’s because a happy child such as Hurwitz didn’t have the slightest conception of evil.  To read how the concept crashed into her consciousness with the murderous and hateful activities of the Nazis is nearly overpowering.  For instance, during one ghetto “aktion” she witnessed three Germans cruelly plucking out the beard and sidelocks of a Jewish man:


“Shema Israel, the man shouted, clearly in pain.  The spectacle frightened me to no end, and I fled to the inner parts of the house, where I was still able to hear the pleas and the shouts of Shema Israel.  In my innocence, I asked myself a number of times why He, up there, did not hear the cries.”


After most of the ghetto inhabitants, including all children, were supposed to have been rounded up and killed, Hurwitz’s parents hid her in their apartment inside the niche of a fireplace where she sat alone all day long.  Because their apartment was very near an “execution” wall, Hurwitz could daily hear the cries of the doomed whose hiding places had been discovered:


“As I sat listening intently to what was going on outside, I always heard the pleas and screams of those about to be murdered, including mothers screaming: But he’s just a child!  Have mercy!  Why?!  And then, bang!  When my parents would come home in the evening, I would always tell them how many shots I had heard, or, more precisely, how many Jews had been murdered that day.  As time passed, I learned to distinguish between a bullet that hit a person and a bullet that was simply fired in the air.  I learned that a bullet that hit a person made a dull sound . . . “


She survived the ghetto and subsequent camps by the kindness and care of others, her own spunk, and often, something akin to chance.  Her struggle to piece together a new life, along with the rest of the surviving Jews, is very interesting and inspiring, and a phase of the Holocaust that is not often written about in such a detailed manner.


The Jewish organization Yad Vashem exists to keep in memory all those lost in the Holocaust (and also to honor Gentiles who rescued Jews during that time) and it seems that Hurwitz is trying to do something similar in her memoir.  Often, when she mentions the kindness of strangers, it breaks her heart that she can’t remember their names or that she wasn’t able to thank them properly.  And she clearly feels that her memoir is giving permanent remembrance to the Jews she knew personally who were killed, those who might not otherwise have been remembered by anyone.


Although the reader clearly understands from the outset that Hurwitz will survive, the writing and the storyline are such as to make this book a page turner, difficult to read but even harder to put down.

Feng Shui for Relationships

April 02, 2011 By: admin Category: Feng Shui

How the Art of Feng Shui can Help Improve Your Relationship


It’s said that life is all about relationships; with our spouses and work mates, our families, friends, and most importantly, the relationship with ourselves.

Feng Shui is all about energy; the direction of how it flows, becomes blocked and stagnant, and the intentional placement of objects to encourage the flow of positive energy, and the dissipation of the negative. An ancient Chinese practice, Feng Shui is focused on purposefully arranging our stuff around us to gain positive results in our life.

With Valentine’s Day this month, the focus on relationships comes even more to our attention, whether that means healing our existing connection with others, or wishing for our soul mate to appear. It’s heartening to know that there are tools that are easy to apply in our own environment to enhance our relationships. The wisdom of Feng Shui and the application of its principals can indeed bring welcome changes and upliftment in subtle and very direct ways. Feng Shui can be harnessed to kick-start our love life by finding an ideal partner or improve existing relationships, smooth the edges around difficult associations (e.g. the in-laws), enjoy greater harmony in the house with family members, and even improve camaraderie with business associates in the workplace.

The Relationship Corner

Every home and each room have areas that are related to certain energies, such as career, family and love. To find the relationship corner of your space; as you enter through the front door of the house or room, the relationship section is located at the farthest right hand corner at the back side of the home or room. According to Feng Shui practices, certain items in the relationship corner can spice things up, keep things stuck, or cause havoc in your relationships.

To perk up your love life, add these items to the relationship corner of your home and/or bedroom:

·         Red or pink items, such as lingerie, paper cut-outs of hearts etc.

·         Two candles side by side, ideally red or pink to produce light and warmth.

·         Crystals, such as pink quartz or amethyst, to cure for bad chi.

·         A blooming or healthy plant.

·         Any item that symbolizes love and romance for you, such as a picture of a happy couple or hearts. If already in a relationship, put a joyful picture of both of you together.

·         A wish list that is very specific to what qualities you want to attract in a mate, or improve in an existing one. Avoid using negative statements, such as I don’t what a mate who cheats. Rather write; I want a mate who is monogamous.

·         Put your heart-felt intention into livening up your relationship corners.


Items to avoid in your relationship corner include:

·         Negative and depressing pictures or art, or items that you associate sadness or longing with.

·         Photos of yourself alone as a single person.

·         Clutter and dust, or old and useless objects.

·         Distracting items such as a TV, games, and electronics.

·         Anything associated with work and business.

·         If the bathroom is in the relationship corner of your house, keep the toilet closed.

·         Remove items from under your bed.


Work the magic by making just a few intentional changes and watch what happens!



Yvonne Phillips is a National Feng Shui Practitioner, Author and Speaker with over 18 years of experience. Yvonne is certified with Feng Shui Institute International and has trained with world famous Feng Shui Master Lillian Too. As owner of Creative Color & Design, she incorporates Feng Shui principles into both residences and businesses, from small businesses to large corporations. Please visit http://www.fengshuiabc1.com  or email yvonnephillips1@aol.com for more information