In a nearly unanimous vote yesterday, the French senate approved a law banning any veils that cover the face, making France the first European country to pass such a measure. The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes, reports CNN.
The law, which was overwhelmingly approved by France's lower parliament in July, passed by a vote of 246 to 1 and will go into effect next spring.
The original legislation came from a panel of French lawmakers who recommended a ban last year, and passed a non-binding resolution in May calling the full-face veil contrary to the laws of the nation. When enacted, the law will impose a fine of approximately $190 and/or a citizenship course for women wearing a niqab or a burqa. Additionally, any person forcing a woman to wear a full-face veil will face a year in prison or a $19,000 fine, said the French government.
In June of 2009, President Nicholas Sarkozy announced his opposition of full-face veils in a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament saying, "The burqa is not welcome in French territory...In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity." The speech was the first presidential address to the legislature in over a century.
Media Resources: CNN 9/14/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/24/10, 7/13/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .