New Armed Services Sub-Committee Chair Challenges Sexual Harassment in the Military
Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), a member of the male-dominated House Armed Services Committee, announced that she plans to attack head-on the issue of sexual harassment in the military. As the newly named chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, she will now have the power to direct formal oversight of the issue.
In 1990, the Department of Defense released the first major study of sexual harassment in the military, in which two-thirds of the active duty women who were interviewed reported being victims of some form of sexual harassment. The forms of harassment varied from pressure to perform sexual favors, to touching, to rape and attempted rape. Seventy-one percent of women who reported being harassed said they had suffered three or more forms of harassment.
The 2005 National Defense Authorization Act required the military to create annual reports on the prevalence of sexual assault. In the first year of the study there were 212,000 women in active duty in the military and 1,700 allegations of sexual assault. The second annual report showed a 40 percent increase, with 2,374 allegations of sexual assault, though the military says the rise may simply reflect an increase in reporting. The third annual report, released March 2007, showed a rise again, with nearly 3,000 reported cases, and the report also noted an increase in the punishment of offenders.
Media Resources: The New York Times 9/11/90, 11/12/96; CQ 07/06/07
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. . . .