Associated Press: Furthering fears that a Taliban-style government is emerging in Somalia, an Islamic court in the country has banned women from swimming at the beach.
Associated Press, again: In better news, an Austrian businessman who put controversial Pop-Art-style urinals shaped like women's mouths in public toilets near the Vienna opera will remove said urinals, after critics suggested the pissoirs were maybe a little sexist.
Boing Boing: Artist Annamarie Ho's installation/performance show Betelnut Girls, in which performers imitate the barely clad girls who sell the stimulant-laden betelnut stickers from glass booths some Asian cities, will have its final performance this weekend in New York.
Sapa-Agence France Presse: Portugal's parliament has approved a government proposal to let citizens vote on whether abortion should be legal in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. There's no date set for the referendum, but it's likely to be held in January. Abortion is currently illegal in Portugal except in cases of rape, fetal defects or if the mother's health is in danger, and even then is only allowed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The New Republic (subscription required): In general, the medical community tends to support women's right to have abortions. But in South Dakota, doctors are banding together to support the abortion ban.
Reuters: How does India like to celebrate Diwali, the country's largest Hindu festival? With plastic surgery, of course! Surgeons report a 20-to-40 percent increase in requests for nose jobs, tummy tucks and breast implants in the runup to the festival.
Washington Post: Even more niqab drama in the U.K., where the competing ideals of assimilation and cultural tolerance continue to spark debate. Most recently, a British panel awarded 24-year-old schoolteacher Aishah Azmi around $2,000 in damages after officials suspended her for refusing to remove her veil to teach classes. Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the veil "a mark of separation" that makes non-Muslims "uncomfortable."
Eteraz, via Feministe: The U.S. is struggling with the issue, too -- Muslim blogger Ali Eteraz juxtaposes the experience of Christian Frances Quaring, who objected to having her photo taken for her driver's license on religious grounds and was granted an exemption in court, and Muslim Sultana Freeman, who objected to removing her niqab for a license photo and was not granted an exemption in court.
SF Gate World Views blog: In related news, the northern African country of Tunisia has stepped up enforcement of a 1981 decree forbidding women to wear Islamic headscarves in public. By way of explanation, the secretary-general of the country's ruling party told the Tunis Afrique Presse, "If we accept today the wearing of the headscarf, tomorrow we'll be led to accept that a woman's right to work, to vote and to education should be denied, and that she should be confined to a procreating role."
Feminist Daily Newswire: The Government Accountability Office issued an opinion this week finding that Department of Health and Human Services must require that abstinence-only education programs that receive federal funding nevertheless provide medically accurate information about condoms. We're sure abstinence-only educators will be thrilled to comply.