Sexual Assault in the Military Bill Introduced in the House
On Wednesday, Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) introduced the Defense STRONG (Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance) Act that would increase the legal rights and protections for service members who have experienced sexual assault during their military service. The bill would provide victims with the right to legal counsel and would allow them to relocate to another military base. Moreover, the bill would require increased training for troops and would ensure the confidentiality for service members who choose to speak with advocates.
The Pentagon's "Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" indicated that approximately 3,000 women experienced sexual assault in fiscal year 2008, which is a 9 percent increase from the previous year. For women in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rate of sexual assaults by US military personnel increased by 25 percent.
According to a 2003 study by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, at least one-third of all women veterans have experienced rape or sexual assault by fellow US military members frequently of higher rank during their service, and thirty percent of military women experience domestic violence. Moreover, rape occurs in the military nearly twice as often as in the civilian world.
The STRONG Act was proposed during the 111th session of Congress in May 2010 but did not pass. Although it is a bipartisan bill, advocates of the bill are concerned that it will not be supported by a Republican-majority House.
Media Resources: US Congress HR 5197; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/12/11; Huffington Post 4/12/11; Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military 3/17/11
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. . . .