Under the renewed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), states will be required to pay for anonymous rape kits starting next year. The requirement is aimed at removing obstacles to prosecuting rape cases, reports the Associated Press.
Rape kits are usually free if the rape victim agrees to file a police report. Requiring states to pay the $800 for "Jane Doe rape kits" gives rape victims time to choose whether or not to prosecute. According to the Associated Press, the FBI has recommended that states pay for anonymous rape tests since 1999.
Anne Bean, clinical director for a rape and sexual assault counseling program in Cecil County, Maryland, said, "Many times you have people who were drunk, maybe doing drugs, maybe they’re underage, and you start talking about the police and they get scared. So, sometimes it’s not until long after [that] they’re willing to report, at which point of course any physical evidence is gone."
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 60 percent of all rapes and sexual assault are not reported. One out of six women in the US have been victims of rape or attempted rape.
Media Resources: Associated Press 05/13/08; AHN 05/13/08; Salon 05/14/08; Feministing.com 05/14/08; RAINN Reporting Rates
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. . . .