The Women's League of Burma (WLB) released a report on Tuesday revealing the Burmese Army's continued, systematic rape of girls and women since the country's 2010 elections. The Thailand-based group documented over 100 rapes in its report, Same Impunity, Same Patterns, but believes these are only a small fraction of the rapes and that there have likely been hundreds more that have not been reported.
Overall, 47 of the reported cases were gang rapes, and 28 victims died from internal injuries after the rapes. Some of the victims were as young as eight years old. Most of the cases have been clearly linked to military offensives against ethnic minority Kachin and Shan insurgents in the northeast of Burma, also known as Myanmar. And many of the perpetrators have been high-ranking officials in the Burmese military.
"These crimes are more than random, isolated acts by rogue soldiers," WLB writes. "Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression . . . Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities."
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. . . .