Incidence of Rape in Democratic Republic of Congo Soaring
The number of rapes reported in Sud-Kivu, an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the last three months was more than half the total number of incidents reported there last year. The attacks are primarily by the Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, reported IRIN. There are 463 reported incidents over the three month time period.
Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in May that "there is terrible violence currently in Sud-Kivu, especially in the region of Kakeli" and that they are also "seeing an extremely grave trend with rapes used as a weapon of war," reported Agence France Press.
In May, a three-year-old child reportedly died from related injuries after being raped by a rebel fighter in Sud-Kivu. Combatants also reportedly raped three of the child's sisters, who range in age from 12 to 17, reported Reuters.
Since the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began in 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped in sexual violence widely viewed to be a war tactic. Thousands of Congolese women marched in Kinshasa late last year to protest rape as a weapon of war.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 1/13/09; Reuters 6/5/09; Agence France Presse 5/20/09; IRIN 6/3/09
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. . . .